Current Transits for January 2004

Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...


Happy New Year, 1-1
Jupiter Retrograde Station at 18Vi54, 1-3
Jupiter trine Chiron, 1-5
Mercury Direct Station at 26Sa16, 1-6
Full Moon at 16Cn40, 1-7
New Moon at 1Aq09, 1-21
Juno enters Capricorn, 1-23

An online ephemeris for the month is available.

General Outlook for the Month

Happy New Year! The year starts on a high energy note, the tail end of the big storm that closed out December, then quickly settles into the doldrums. It seems the planets are quite simply too disorganized this month to amount to much. There are a number of smaller storms, especially towards the last half of the month as Mercury and Venus gang up on one slow moving planet after another. However, there just isn't much activity this month. The long term outlook for 2004 is also somewhat of a letdown. The new year's chart (which is pretty much the same for the entire world, except for the Moon's position) features a menacing Sun-Mars-Saturn T-square that connects up with all the angles of the chart, a hint that this may be a difficult and demanding year. So after the hoopla and the parties, hunker down for a long and dragging month. The energies are rarely with us.

In traditional terms, there's not much news to report this month. There's one "big aspect" to consider, Jupiter trine Chiron. Juno moves into Capricorn for an extended stay, due to an upcoming retrograde period. And Jupiter and Mercury both reach stations early in the month. Most of the other activity is pretty mundane and low key stuff.

When starting something new, in this case, a new year, it's always worthwhile to look at a chart for that beginning moment. The chart for 2004 is not one I enjoy seeing. The most prominent planet in the chart is Saturn, near the midheaven, opposite the Sun near the IC. That by itself would be a depressing indicator for the coming year. Mars and Pallas in Aries , near the descendent, makes this a "challenging" T-square. On the one hand, this is a hint that focused and disciplined action can produce some excellent results in the long run, with emphasis on the "long run" part. If you are less skillful in your actions, it could also lead to endless complications and problems. Mars and Saturn are known as "malefics" in astrology, meaning they produce "bad" results much more often than good. It's hard to put a good spin on this alignment. The Venus-Neptune conjunction in Aquarius softens this T-square a little bit, although it could also distract us from the needed focus. It indicates the necessity of maintaining a high-minded approach to all our affairs in order to avoid the complications.

As we get later on in the day, this powerful pattern blossoms into a low Koz Alert, the only one all month. As the Moon moves through Taurus, it squares Venus and Neptune, as well as kicks off the rest of the T-square. The year starts out with a bang, then retreats to a whimper. Enjoy the exciting atmosphere as we ring in the new year, but get ready for work ahead. Given that this is an election year and the primaries start shortly, I'd expect the coming campaign to be quite messy. (Mars on the descendent is also a symptom of more warfare, quite possibly.)

Jupiter stands still on the 3rd at 18Vi54, about to start 4 months of reverse motion. It resumes normal motion on May 4 at 8Vi55. Jupiter retrograde can be unpleasant, but it's rarely truly horrendous. Since Jupiter rules the way we reach out to the greater world around us, these retrograde periods are a time when the support the world provides seems to dry up or become unavailable. Some of this may simply be your inability to make connections and receive help. If you don't ask, others will just go elsewhere. It may be you have nothing worthwhile to offer people, so they go seeking satisfaction in another venue. But on top of these personal issues, it just seems people are pulling back inside themselves, less ready to reach out under any circumstance. This is often a difficult time for people in business for themselves. The usual clientele simply isn't in a buying mood. You need to cut back on expenses and concentrate on streamlining your activities until the business climate improves. This retrograde cycle is in Virgo, one of the least conducive signs for Jupiter. Virgo is a sign of details and particulars, of honing your skills and perfecting your craft, while Jupiter wants to barge on through, looking at the big picture and ignoring the nitty-gritty details. It's important now to examine the little things and redirect your activities to meet people's needs more directly. Be ready to fall back on your own resources for a few months and put your life in better working order. If you can come through this time in good form, you'll be in a much better position to prosper in the long run.

Jupiter is trine Chiron on the 5th, the second of 3 such contacts. The first contact was on 2003-11-6 and the final one is 2004-8-15. Coming right on the heels of the Jupiter station, this aspect will tend to exaggerate some of these same Jupiter themes for us. Chiron often shows us the parts of our lives that we've "stuffed" and down-played, typically due to criticism or ridicule. It's those areas that we never developed properly or integrated into the mainstream of life. Combining with Jupiter, it points to themes of not being able to reach out and connect with the outer world, of not being able to fully prosper in your current setting. This can frequently show up as a lack of competence or self-confidence, a feeling that your efforts will not be appreciated or recognized. You see less and less reward for your actions and feel like your life is getting stuck in a dead-end. What's needed is a change in direction and tactics, an effort to expand upon skills and resources that have lain dormant too long. The outlook is actually rather hopeful, given that this is a trine. Trines usually indicate that things will go smoothly, provided you attempt to make a change. The worst approach is to simply coast, to keep doing the same thing over and over. Be practical. Do what's necessary, especially if it isn't flashy or glamorous, as it's the little things that are tripping you up. Also realize that your gloomy assessment may not accurately reflect what others actually think of you. We are all our own worst critics and judges, most of it unwarranted. Don't become your own biggest roadblock. Keep working away at these stumbling blocks -- things can improve.

Mercury is standing still on the 6th at 26Sa16, about to resume normal motion. It has been retrograding since 2003-12-17, when it stood still at 12Cp34. It's always pleasant when Mercury pulls out of its retrograde cycle. Mercury is the thinking mind, the part of the psyche that tries to capture the world in a snare of words and symbols. It believes that these stories and myths give it the power to understand, manipulate and interact with the world and other people. To a certain extent, this belief is justified. The rational mind is incredibly adept at handling the world, as we've seen in the last century. However, we get into trouble when we assume our explanations are total and foolproof. No story ever fully captures the infinite complexity of life or is immune to being replaced by a yet more adequate model. Further, because our stories are "good enough" for all our practical purposes, we generally confuse them with reality itself. When Mercury is in reverse gear, we get to experience first hand the limitations of the thinking mind. Situations defy our expectations and refuse to behave the way they are "supposed" to. Attempts to communicate with others fail miserably and misunderstandings multiply. Our plans for the future fall flat in a mess of unintended consequences. In short, the thinking mind never was in control -- it just thought it was. This is a humbling time, but also a time to make corrections and changes. As Mercury pulls out of this funk, it feels like your brain is coming out of mothballs. Things make sense again (or so it seems). I'm afraid that this cycle may take a bit longer than usual to come to its senses. Mercury is tangled up with Neptune via a difficult octile aspect. Neptune is the total antithesis of the rational mind -- the dreamer, the imagination, the way of feeling. Rather than making everything clear, Neptune blurs all the boundaries. Our brains are on "extra fuzzy" for about a week here. This may be useful for artistic or imaginative endeavors, but it's really rough for more exacting work. (The direct station is also conjunct the Galactic Center -- who knows what that will produce!) Give yourself some time -- your wits will return eventually.

The full moon chart is a rather complicated story. There's a very dispersed group of planets in the 16-20 degree range. As you can tell by the messy looking peaks in the waveform, there's not much focus to this group. Over in Capricorn are Vesta, the Sun and Chiron. These are opposite Saturn, the Moon and Ceres, respectively, all in Cancer. Mars and Pallas in Aries, almost exactly conjunct, make this a wide T-square again. Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune and Venus are also part of this picture, though often loosely connected. Juno, Mercury and Uranus are lesser players.

There's a lot of mother-father symbolism in this full moon chart. That doesn't have to be taken literally in the sense of family members, but can also have larger societal meanings. Given that the United States is basically a Cancer nation, with strong traditional roots that come through in times of trouble, this Cancer-Capricorn axis of planets could be speaking about national issues as well. Our traditions may come out in the open during times of stress, but that doesn't mean they are always honored. It's a common problem with government that the people in power often drape themselves in the mantle of our social myths, while quietly working in the background at total cross purposes to these values. As we approach the campaign season, one of the basic questions is whether the government is truly supporting the common good or subverting it for the sake of the few. Given that Saturn is criss-crossing the USA Sun this year, not to mention Bush's Sun also, this is a testing time. Saturn on the Sun is a "show me!" transit, a demand to see whether your work is true to your values. Saturn can be very exacting if you are found lacking. Clichés and lip service are no substitute for genuine caring and compassion. I suspect that this war of values is something that will split the nation in coming months, leading to much conflict and bitterness. Keep an eye on what's happening behind the scenes. People's motivations are not always what they appear to be.

With Mercury and Venus contacting Saturn still, the coming month is colored by sober thinking and serious emotions. The feeling world is quite deep and reflective, looking past trivial concerns to a more substantial level. Some of this is also due to Uranus being in Pisces now, which is starting to open up new levels of understanding as well. For the time being, these lessons are focused on partnerships and learning to get past some of our protective shields that prevent more genuine connections from occurring. It requires the acquisition of new attitudes as well as behaviors, of seeing ourselves and others in a new light and then acting accordingly. However, there's also a more self-oriented side to this lunation. That includes not only the need to express yourself in a rather willful fashion, but the drive to explore and respond to deeper levels of the self that are only dimly perceived now. These levels are often at odds with everyday, mundane life and can be easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily living. Letting these aspects of yourself come forth is a potentially disruptive pursuit, but these are the genuine parts that make a true connection with others possible, the parts that make those protective masks "necessary" in the first place. Bringing all these various story lines of this chart together in a coherent whole is difficult, if not impossible at this time. The conscious connecting aspects between these groups of planets are not present yet. Something new has to emerge to bring everything together. All in due time -- be patient with the process...

Juno moves from Sagittarius into Capricorn on the 23rd for an extended stay. Normally an asteroid zips through a sign in about 3 months, but due to an upcoming retrograde cycle, Juno will be in Capricorn until Dec 3, over 10 months from now. Juno is the planet of relationship, of the give and take of love. More than anything else, she wants to be taken seriously and treated fairly. If she's treated as an equal, she can be very warm and devoted. On the other hand, if you try to take unfair advantage of her, it brings out a very bitter and jealous side of her. The practical sign of Capricorn may seem like an odd placement for Juno, but it's remarkable how often relationships falter on "practical" issues that seemingly have little to do with romance. The big one, of course, is money. Inequities on the financial front often create deep resentments. Issues of who has the power to make decisions, especially in the home, can also cause bitter problems. Given that Juno will be in Capricorn most of the year, it's rather obvious that these practical issues need to be cleared up in 2004. Expect them to get worse (over the summer) before getting better, as that's usually the way relationship problems surface. Remember that the arrangements with your partner must not only be fair in actuality, they must be regarded as fair by all parties. Sometimes the perception of inequality, based on unreasonable assumptions or expectations, is enough to cause a fight. Be more open and generous with your partners whenever possible. The perception of goodwill can get you past many rocky waters. It's worth it for love...