Current Transits for March 2004

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


Jupiter quincunx Neptune, 3-3
Full Moon at 16Vi43, 3-6
Saturn Direct Station at 6Cn17, 3-7
Uranus quintile Pluto, 3-18
New Moon at 0Ar39, 3-20
Mars enters Gemini, 3-21
Pluto Retrograde Station at 22Sa15, 3-24

An online ephemeris for the month is available.

General Outlook for the Month

A number of people I've talked with mentioned how rough February has been for them. Unfortunately, I don't expect the pressure to lessen at all during March. If anything, with both Saturn and Pluto standing still during the month, there's likely to be a heavy "stuck in a rut with no way out" feeling. These are both no nonsense planets, very demanding and uncompromising, making this a time when responsibilities and transformations dominate the scene with that "ton of bricks" mood. On the bright side, these energies may be difficult, but they rarely reach the level of being overwhelming. It's a time to just buckle down and get your work done (especially before Mars leaves Taurus on the 21st). If you make allowances for setbacks and don't take problems so personally, you'll find it easier to get through March. Down the road, these trials will make more sense. They are part of some deeper, long range life changes that just need to play out yet. Be patient with the process...

There's not a lot of big news in March, but these items tend to be significant and powerful influences. There are two "big aspects", two stations and a sign change for Mars to consider.

Jupiter is quincunx Neptune on the 3rd, the second of three such contacts. They met once before on 2003-10-16 and will finish up on July 9. When you throw in Saturn, this group of aspects is one of the critical planetary patterns hanging over the world in late 2003 and 2004. Granted, Saturn is not in aspect to Jupiter and Neptune at the moment, but these three bodies are forming a potent Yod configuration, the "Finger of God" pattern, as it's called. Jupiter and Saturn have a lot to do with broad social themes, the kind of give and take that turns a bunch of unruly individuals into an integrated culture. Since the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter on May 28, 2000, we've been witnessing the decay of old social orders and an attempt to create new, viable patterns for present day issues. This transition is most easily seen in the Middle East, as well as in the American elections, but the same themes are working all over the world. Since Neptune is also part of the picture, there's a need to take a more idealistic and broadminded approach. This involves, however, turning our backs on centuries of bad habits and mistrust that are so ingrained in our thinking that they seem like god-given truths. Jupiter and Neptune are both high minded and optimistic, always looking for a more "perfect" kind of world. Neptune in Aquarius is more of the idealistic, dreamy of the two, looking for a heaven on earth. Jupiter in Virgo has more practical concerns on his mind, however. Societies don't operate in some dreamy, alternate universe. They have to function in the often messy and irrational world we live in, which requires much patience and compromise. I think many of the world's problems can easily be described as a conflict between an uncompromising ideal and a stubborn reality. Quincunxes are noted for bringing together two planets in such a way that they subtly step on each other's toes. The gap between the goal and the current situation is still too wide for enough people to make the leap. It's encouraging that more people seem to be "getting it" all the time, but it's still a question of whether enough of us can make the shift before matters get really bad. We need to keep one eye on the distant goal, but continue to make one baby step after another. This is not a quick solution, but I find that very hopeful...

There's a marked emphasis on earth and water energy in the full moon chart. This hints at a quieter, more passive time, with an emphasis on consolidating practical matters and soothing jangled nervous energies. The Moon is closely conjunct Jupiter (they should make a handsome couple in the early evening sky!), both in Virgo. Opposite them are Uranus, Sun and Mercury, all in Pisces. On the surface, this is a lot of mental planets acting up. But Jupiter urges us to look at the bigger picture even when we're mired in details, while the Pisces planets encourage the intuition and imagination. The contradictory image of a "practical dreamer" comes to mind. Venus, Pallas and Mars in Taurus also have a down to earth feeling. This is an invitation to enjoy our creature comforts and our loved ones a little more and struggle a bit less. This is also a fine spiritual time, as Virgo sharpens our perceptions of the dreamy Pisces energies all about us. Of course, we have to pay attention to Saturn, which is standing still in this chart and hence very powerful. This could come out in a number of ways. If you've been diligent about minding your affairs, you'll likely find you're on a firm foundation now. If you've been sloughing off, unforeseen problems will likely hobble your efforts. If nothing else, Saturn lends an air of seriousness and gravitas to the situation, making sure the dreamer keeps a foot on the ground. Work with the problems that come up, correcting them before they evolve into chronic issues that won't go away. Just don't forget Jupiter and the Moon, the fullness of joy.

Saturn is standing still at 6Cn17 on the 7th, about to resume normal motion in the sky. It's been in reverse gear since 2003-10-25, when it stood still at 13Cn14. This retrograde cycle of Saturn has been a momentous time for the United States -- astrologers have been buzzing about it for months. For starters, the USA Sun and President Bush's Sun are both at 13 Cancer, Saturn's retrograde station. My nickname for Saturn is the Headmaster at the School of Hard Knocks -- this is a very demanding influence that requires a high degree of responsibility and discipline to get good results. Saturn on someone's Sun is a signal that karma for past actions is coming due. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since long years of determined activity can often come to fruition at this contact. On the other hand, any endeavor that was based on cutting corners or any kind of falsehood frequently comes undone now. The time of reckoning starts to creep up on you when Saturn goes into reverse gear, but you don't get the final verdict until the direct station. The country's standing in the world is being strongly criticized these days and Bush has just gone through the worst few months of his presidency, with his credibility taking a nosedive. We all have our little dramas as well, areas where life is testing us (hint: check which house of your birthchart contains Saturn). See where your will is most being thwarted or held in check this month, and you're likely to find Saturn at work. Accept the verdict of what is working for you and what isn't. It's time to move on again.

Uranus is quintile Pluto on the 18th, the 5th contact of a long 7 pass aspect. This aspect has a long history already, having started on 2002-5-19, with its final pass on 2005-2-12. It's part of the grand Uranus-Pluto cycle (about 125 years long) that began in 1966. Both planets are highly transformative in nature, working at the deeper levels of the unconscious mind to create shifts that we could never foresee in advance. Further, quintiles work in a non-obvious manner. They have a very mental, intuitive nature, transcending problems rather than fixing them. It just seems you look at the situation from a different perspective and it doesn't look so impossible anymore. The intuitive side of this understanding is more important now, since Uranus has moved from Aquarius into Pisces. It's hard to say exactly what is changing in the world, but it is interesting how differently we view and talk about the world than we did two years ago. Old certainties are crumbling, more tolerant points of view are emerging. Compare the political debates today, for instance, with the issues of two years back and see how much has changed. I firmly believe that humanity is learning important lessons now that have the potential to make life more harmonious in the future, assuming we quickly start internalizing the lessons and changing our behavior accordingly. Doing the "growing up" work now will save us an infinite amount of pain and turmoil later, during the Uranus-Pluto squares in 2012-2015. We've got some time to get it right. But we don't have time to squander...

The new moon (0Ar39) is the same day as the first day of spring, making this a doubly auspicious time. The first degree of Aries is a potent position. It's viewed in symbolic terms to be the source of new life, the start of new cycles. Mars (about to enter Gemini tommorrow) feeds into this new moon position by a powerful sextile, further invigorating the coming month. Saturn (in direct motion now) and Uranus also connect with the new moon. However, it's the planets around 16 degrees of various signs that take this chart to the next level. These planets include Mercury, Venus, Ceres, Juno, Neptune and Vesta, with a marked emphasis on Venus. Taking both groups together, a giant fan-shaped configuration emerges, based on 45 degree aspects. (This 8th harmonic fan can be rather easily seen in the waveform.) Pluto is not particularly well aspected now, but it can't be discounted either since it's already pretty much standing still in the sky.

There's a big clash going on in this chart between the more gung ho, masculine planets and their quieter feminine counterparts. The urge to express yourself in an uninhibited fashion may conflict with the desires of others. You need to remain aware and considerate of how you impact others, to operate from the heart, not the gut. Having your actions come from the heart is actually quite an achievement, even if bullying your way through seems more straightforward. It beats antagonizing everyone around you. Remember Pluto -- there's an awful lot that's going on just below the surface. You may get your way this time and the next, but eventually throwing your ego around will boomerang on you. Move forward (carefully) with new projects if they come up -- it's a great time for beginnings!

Mars moves from Taurus into Gemini on the 21st. This is not the most natural placement for our Warrior God. Mars is very physical, in the body, while Gemini is such a mental, in the head zodiac sign. I can see him getting antsy, sitting at his desk all day when he'd rather be out doing something. This time is good, however, for light mental work that involves handling a lot of data or bringing an idea to physical fruition. Don't tackle too heavy of a project, though, or Mars will want to play hooky too often. Gemini tends to scatter his focus and drive, making it hard to stick with any one project for too long. This is a great influence for socializing, for connecting with people. The urge to communicate and swap stories is quite powerful now. Mars will enter Cancer on May 7.

Pluto is standing still at 22Sa15 on the 24th, about to start a 5 month retrograde cycle. He continues in reverse motion until Aug 30, when he reaches a direct station of 19Sa32. In my opinion, Pluto retrograde cycles are one of the most spectacular astrological phenomena around, though it is much more pleasant if you're in the bleachers and not on the playing field. The general theme is one of letting go of parts of yourself that you need to outgrow so that you can become more true to your inner nature. Pluto is more or less synonymous with the urgings of the soul, the message you wrote to yourself before being born on the earth plane. When we lose our way, he tries to pull us back to our path, sometimes subtly, but often quite forcefully. You see, Pluto doesn't take no for a answer. You can acknowledge and cooperate with your true nature, which makes life much simpler. Or you can pursue more superficial goals that are at odds with your nature, which tends to be much more painful, since nature will always win out. We're just entering the cycle in March. You may already be feeling some area of your life is ill-fitting and not working right. The instinctive reaction is to try different approaches in an attempt to make it function again. But as Pluto stands still and starts to back up, these issues seem to get increasingly convoluted and intractable. You can go a long time before giving into Pluto's demands to simply quit, but that only makes him more insistent. By the direct station in August, his urgings are unmistakeable and unavoidable. The part of your life that you've tried so hard to salvage is generally fallen to pieces or ripped from your grasp. This is a time to just let go, learn your lessons and move on. You can save yourself a lot of headaches if you only cooperate with this stripping down process. On a larger stage than the personal, it should be remembered that the Iraqi invasion last year coincided with the Pluto station. The following cycle pushed much of Iraq into a condition of chaos. As we enter the next retrograde cycle, Iraq is attempting to get back on its feet and establish a new government. The lack of success so far is not encouraging, since the Pluto cycle will tend to make things worse before they get better. Pluto reaches to the depths of the psyche, to the most powerful of wounded aspirations. It can push us towards enlightenment or back us into the ugliest of mob violence. Potent forces are being unleashed in our psyches, ones that are difficult to manage and direct. These cycles are always a time to grow in our spiritual awareness, though the temptation to take the easy road is strong, too. This is not a cycle to take lightly, by any means. Work with your soul on this one...