Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
Vesta enters Scorpio, 12-4
Full Moon at 12Gm42, 12-4
Saturn Retrograde Station at 25Le04, 12-5
Mars enters Sagittarius, 12-5
Sun Conjunct Pluto and the Galactic Center, 12-18
Jupiter Quintile Neptune, 12-20
New Moon at 28Sa32, 12-20
Pallas enters Aquarius, 12-27
Jupiter Sextile Chiron, 12-28
Ceres enters Pisces, 12-28
Pluto Conjunct the Galactic Center, 12-29
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
Of the many astrological events occuring in December, there is one that catches my attention more than anything for quite some time. Despite the lopsided Sagittarius overtones of the month (a very crowded zodiac sign this month), it may feel like there is a dark presense lurking in the background. Two dark figures, in fact. Pluto is conjunct the Galactic Center (aka, GC) on Dec 29, the first of 3 such contacts. To call this a "once in a lifetime event" seriously underestimates this conjunction. For starters, groups of conjunctions like we'll be experiencing the next 10 months only happen every 240 years or so -- the last group was before the American Revolutionary War. Who knows -- the previous conjunction may have subtly inspired our founding fathers, many of whom were into occult matters. More importantly, Pluto was only discovered in 1930, while astronomers didn't start exploring our galaxy until the 20th century. The giant black hole (Sag A*) at the center has only made its impression on us in the last few decades. So in all of human history, we've never consciously experienced one of these transformations of consciousness until the 29th. Pluto moves slowly, while the GC moves glacially, so this influence builds slowly and hangs around a long time. The coming conjunction should be clearly evident by mid month already, as a number of other planetary events trigger these powerful energies into early expression. There are a few other events worth noting, such as Saturn's retrograde station on the 5th and several "big aspects", so I can't stay fixated on Pluto and the GC completely this issue. None the less, the door is opening to a new type of awareness and some of us may wish to take up the invitation. It only hurts if you try to ignore it...
There's a pretty long list of astrological phenomena to discuss, besides all the Pluto-GC items. Saturn reaches its retrograde station on the 5th. Mars and 3 asteroids change signs during the month. And there are at least two other "big aspects" to mention.
Vesta moves from Libra into Scorpio on the 4th before the full moon. She will remain in this sign until 2007-2-9, when she moves into Sagittarius for an extended stay (due to an upcoming retrograde cycle). Vesta is an introverted type that is motivated by a sense of integrity, faithfulness and inner strength. She tends to be a loner sometimes when people "get to her" and prevent her from being true to her inner calling. As Vesta moves in Scorpio, the role of emotions and passions becomes very important. Most people are ruled by their emotions instead of the other way around. We do things because we "feel like it" and face the consequences later. Vesta is asking us whether we are fooling ourselves: deep down inside, is this really how you feel? Emotions and instinctual drives are rarely conscious affairs, so when they have a mind of their own, you are the one that pays the price. Vesta's solution is to go within and face these urges, to understand them, to make them an ally in life. She knows that emotions can be a source of power in life, not just a distraction. Since Scorpio is also closely identified with sexuality, it's also a time to investigate how you use physical love, as an expression of your inner love or as a weapon or plaything. The physical body and the emotions are tremendous fountains of vitality and pleasure, but only if they are friends. It's time to get all of you into alignment.
By the time of the full moon on the 4th, the storm pattern is starting to come together. There are two main structures in the chart contributing to the storm energies. The first is a T-square of the Sun, Moon and Uranus, with help from the asteroid Juno. The other structure is one we will be seeing, in some form or another, much of the month, so get used to it. It consists at this time of Saturn (near its station), Mercury, Mars, Venus and Pluto.
The T-square is the more light hearted of the two patterns. You normally don't think of T-squares as fun, friendly and easy-going, but this one has several things going for it. The big mitigating factor is the presence of Uranus feeding directly into the full moon axis. Uranus is unpredictable, a maverick planet, so he's apt to stir things up the next two weeks and bring us a few surprises. Since this T-square is also in mutable signs, there is a strong mental overtone at work, good for communications and creative activities. This is a stimulating energy, although not everyone is as fond as I am of Uranus' crazy antics. The other pattern is the more problematic of the two. It's loaded with nasty planets, like Mars, Saturn and Pluto, that most people try to avoid. Generally speaking, these "malefic planets" (as astrologers call them) tend to produce outcomes that frustrate people's plans and ambitions. They are a lot of work for little reward. In fact, they can be a distinct pain in the butt. Their agenda includes making us slow down, finish all our actions to the last detail, be more responsible for the ripples we put out to others and curb our desires so we behave more in tune with our higher spiritual interests. Not what most people call fun. However, a little discipline is probably needed to get through the coming weeks and months, especially as the Pluto-GC effect gets stronger. So we're being pulled in two directions at once -- quite a balancing act for us. Nobody can call it boring, however...
Saturn stands still at its retrograde station of 25Le04 on the 5th, about to start 4 months of reverse motion. It reaches its direct station of 18Le09 on 2007-4-19. Saturn is a Teacher with very high standards. When there are lessons in life, at any level, that need to be faced, Saturn will make sure you get the message. He's the planet of karma coming due. Despite being such an honest friend like this, most people don't appreciate his company. I guess we don't like being reminded that life is a serious business and we can't escape our responsibilities. Saturn's retrograde cycles are a time for doing the work that life demands of you. The problem areas may not seem like much now, but if you ignore them too long, it could be a really messy situation by the direct station. At that point, you can't squirm out of the corner you're in any longer and must face the music. It's always a good idea to find out where this retrograde zone (18 to 25 Leo) lies in your birthchart, as the house in your chart containing this zone will generally describe the problem area that needs your attention. Just remember that Saturn is no big bogeyman if you simply buckle down and do your work. It's only when you ask for a free ride that he makes life miserable.
Also on the 5th, Mars moves from Scorpio into Sagittarius. He'll stay in this sign until 2007-1-16, when he moves into Capricorn. This may not be the perfect sign position for Mars, but it comes close. Mars the Warrior God is the personification of will power and the life of the physical body. He's the part of us that when he wants something, he gets busy and makes it happen. Granted he gets a lot of bad press these days (he'll never be politically correct), but will power is something we just can't live without. When he's in Sag, it seems he has boundless energy freed up for all sorts of activities and projects and optimistically attempts to tackle them all. That's the main downside of Mars in Sag -- lack of focus and follow through. Sag has a short attention span, flitting from one interest to another however the mood hits him. Unless he exercises a little discipline along the way, he's apt to have a long string of half-completed, but very interesting projects to show for his efforts. At least this placement gives us a chance to relax and enjoy life more, after the intensity of Scorpio. Enjoy the break.
Every year recently around Dec 18, the Sun moves past the Galactic Center. (Actually, it moves forward one calendar day every 70 years.) I've been noticing for a number of years now how weird the world feels around this time. It's like the world goes through this timewarp to a deeper, archetypal level, then comes back out. Events on the news often have an odd, distinctive quality to them. It's a good time to meditate or do ritual, as the sensation of the subtle energies that affect us all is more vivid than usual. Events that transform life on earth in a fundamental manner (e.g., the Wright Brother's first airplane flight) often happen at this time. These are all ways that the GC is talking to us, subtly pushing humanity through the next barrier. This year is even more unusual, since the Sun is conjunct Pluto today as well. Think of today as a preview of coming attractions, 11 days from now. Some intriguing portals are opening up for us -- see if you can find them.
Jupiter is quintile Neptune on the 20th for a quick, single pass aspect. Too bad the connection is so fleeting (affecting December and January mostly), since my gut reaction is "how delightful!" when I think of these symbols. Jupiter is a very jolly fellow with a warm and sunny disposition. He loves nothing more than reaching out to the world and savoring life to the fullest. Neptune has a more quiet, mystical bent, but at his highest expression, he's also reaching out to the world at large with a wide open heart. Jupiter and Neptune, each in their own way, have numerous spiritual and wisdom overtones, relating to everything around you in a very inclusive fashion. As for the quintile aspect, it's just plain quirky. Quintiles allow us to see past our mental blind spots, looking at "problems" from a fresh perspective that turns them into "no big deals". You simply transcend your old frame of mind and see the world with fresh eyes. This is an aspect with wonderful spiritual potentials, although it can also be squandered in less uplifting ways, I suppose. As I said, too bad it's so short lived.
It's not hard to see where the focal point of the new moon chart lies. The new moon falls within 2 degrees of Pluto, with the GC in between -- ring a bell? This effect is even more marked in the Minneapolis area, since the new moon and everything else is just minutes past rising above the ascendent, the most significant point in any chart. The entire next lunar month is suffused with the energies of the conjunction, if not the entire winter (the solstice is tomorrow). The strong emphasis on Sagittarius (with 6 planets in this one sign) also points to some highly spiritual and mind expanding possibilities. Despite this, the strongest planet in the chart is arguably Uranus. Maybe it's just a diversionary tactic (not that Uranus would ever do something like that!), but a dose of the higher mind (ruled by Uranus) may be in order as we face the conjunction energies. It certainly wouldn't hurt to bring an intuitive understanding to bear as we face what is essentially an unknown influence before us -- we're winging it now, people. In coming days, we will get to know this stranger more than you can imagine.
Pallas moves from Capricorn into Aquarius for the next 3 months on the 27th, where she will stay until hitting Pisces on 2007-3-25. Here's a placement with lots of mental options. Pallas is a planner of strategies, a master at surveying the situation before her and intuiting the way from here to there. This kind of big picture, grand vision planning goes well with the Aquarian mental traits that make that sign famous. It's a good period for knuckling down and creating something you've been dreaming about for so long. Just be careful you don't fall into the caricature typified by the punch line: he's a great humanitarian, but he just can't stand people. There's often a lack of emotional connection with both Pallas and Aquarius, producing an attitude that cares for people in the abstract, but feels dragged down by face to face contacts. There are also good artistic potentials during this time, if your talents go in that direction. Take care of business, don't get bogged down in life. Pallas will get through that way...
Jupiter is sextile Chiron on the 28th, the first of 3 such contacts. The remaining contacts are on 2007-5-31 and 2007-9-7. Here's another quirky aspect. Whenever Chiron shows up, the first question is: where does it hurt inside? Chiron is a Teacher and Healer, the friend that helps us explore the psyche and dredge up the places where we feel wounded or alone. People are born with limitless possibilities and it's only as we grow up that we learn to stuff ourselves into a tiny box. We learn from friends and family, not to mention the strangers all around us, how to fit in and restrict our individuality. This process comes to a head around the ages of 40-50 years, when the pressure to be yourself and burst out of this coccoon becomes greater than the need to fit in. It's a time to reclaim your past, to let all those old parts of you out of the "psychic closet" where you stuff parts you don't want the world to see. It's odd to think of Jupiter as being a problem area like this, until you mull it over a bit. Jupiter is the ability to reach out to the world and make open, mutually beneficial connections with others. How many of us really embrace the world whole heartedly? How many of us truly experience the joy and prosperity that new age gurus tell us is our natural state? I'd say most of us experience restrictions in our Jupiters. Perhaps this sextile is a time to break through this limitation and enjoy life more. It involves some personal work, to be sure, but sextiles generally reward such work. When you realize these tiny boxes are not real, that our own beliefs are our worst prisons, it becomes easy to reclaim you joyous connection with the world. Give it a try!
Ceres shifts from Aquarius into Pisces on the 28th for the next 3 months. It moves into Aries on 2007-3-18. It's hard to imagine a placement that emphasizes our connections with the rest of the world to such an extreme degree. Ceres is the Great Mother Goddess of ancient Greek mythology, the source of nurture and support, the bonds we feel with all other living beings that share this world with us. Pisces has some very similar mystical themes of our connectedness at a deeper level than the eye can see. This is a period of compassion and openness towards others. Obviously, none of us realize this mystical ideal fully in our lives. That means this is a time to examine our relationships and see where we put up the boundaries and limitations that inhibit such radical love. Often it's simply because we have an agenda, we want something in return. Love with strings attached. If there's not enough love floating around to satisfy your needs already, trying to manipulate it out of others is not going to work either. Compassion creates itself -- an open heart is limitless. Or so says Ceres in Pisces. It may sound "out there", but the lesson is actually extremely practical and down to earth. It's worth trying on this new attitude for several months and see what happens. It might surprise you.
Finally, Pluto is conjunct the Galactic Center on the 29th at 26Sa57. There are two more contacts coming up, roughly July 16 and October 27 of next year, though I''m not certain yet of those dates. I've gone through much effort this past week trying to calculate exactly when these two slowpokes actually meet (i needed to write a new program in the process), a calculation that is notoriously hairy and complicated the first time. As best I can tell, between 5:00 and 5:30 PM CST is the most likely time for this intriguing event. It's hard to convey in words why I've been so fascinated by this conjunction years in advance, as it touches upon some of the deepest secrets of astrology that I've encountered in my studies. Pluto is a tough character to track down, but a fair analogy is the "Higher Self" or "Soul" of esoteric teachings, or the Jungian archetype of the Self deep in the unconscious. Pluto can be experienced dimly as that insistent voice deep within that makes sure you become the person you're supposed to be. If it means sending you a crisis or two to tear you loose from distractions along your path, so be it. The ego doesn't really like this Pluto process, since it brings home the spiritual fact that the ego is not in control of its own destiny. In terms of the solar system, Pluto is on the fringes of what is knowable for us.
So what is the GC about? As I've gotten to know the GC over the years, I've encountered it as a spiritual, evolutionary force an order of magnitude deeper than any of the planets astrologers use. The Milky Way, the body of our galaxy, has been woven into the constellational and precessional mythology of cultures all around the world. In fact, such "cosmic knowledge" is some of the most esoteric of secrets on the planet. Revealing such secrets to the uninitiated was an unpardonable crime in some ancient religions. Of course in our own time, such secrets are only as far away as a good book store, if you only know how to put the hints together for yourself. The GC handles transformations on a planet wide basis, establishing trends and patterns that work to their conclusions over centuries and millennia. Physically, there's a giant black hole at the GC, about 2.6 million times more massive than our Sun, or so the astonomers think these days. Such a black hole not only dominates all the other stars in the galaxy (everything we see in the sky, except for other galaxies beyond our own, revolves around the GC, just as the Earth revolves around the Sun), but it is also a power generator that eats stars for breakfast and can affect the whole galaxy when it belches. It's huge and unimaginably powerful. As an astrological body, its effects are equally impressive. There's a feeling of power and intelligence about it that is hard to describe. I always take notice when someone's birthchart has a planet near the GC, as it seems to indicate a special spiritual gift that the person must develop. So it's as though the deepest parts of our selves are meeting a force that is even deeper for the first time in history. (I just thought of the apes touching the black monolith in the movie "2001" as an analogy.) There have been such conjunctions before, but never before has humanity consciously witnessed this transformation. I could muddy the picture with lots of other mythological speculation at this point, especially about the Age of Aquarius business or 2012, but it's probably best to quiet the mind and simply let the process unfold. If it's a true initiation, we probably can't comprehend the changes ahead of time anyway. If you have some quiet time on the afternoon of the 29th, get still within and just feel the energies in your body. I'm hoping to get other people to join in at this time and share their experiences afterwards. We each have a piece of the puzzle to catch. Needless to say, I've been anticipating this day for many years now. We'll see...