Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
Hello Pluto, 2-4
New Moon / Annular Solar Eclipse at 17Aq44, 2-6
Vesta enters Pisces, 2-17
Mercury Direct Station at 8Aq19, 2-18
Full Moon / Total Lunar Eclipse at 1Vi52, 2-20
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
If you only looked at the aspects going off and other traditional astrologicial indicators, you'd probably think February was a rather boring, low-key month. However, you'd be missing a rather spectacular fireworks show going on this month. As I mentioned in January, one of the biggest stories for all of 2008 is the long, extended passage of Pluto from Sagittarius into Capricorn, a process that started on Jan 25. Even though it's been a week since Pluto moved in, he's hardly had a chance to get comfortable in his new surroundings so far, with hardly even a hello from the neighbors yet (except for the Moon). All that is about to change rapidly as we head into February. In addition, there are two eclipses this month, which seem to turn our attention towards the future instead of looking back towards the past. The solar eclipse on the 6th is especially remarkable, as it is keyed into all the outer planets from Chiron to Pluto, tying them together into one focused group for a few days. This eclipse is part of a powerful Koz Alert level storm that seems to pop out of nowhere, a kind of "welcome home party" for Pluto. This combination of intense energy levels and outer planet influences typically has a very disorienting and disruptive effect on people, as though the unconscious part of the psyche feels the need to burst in on our everyday reality and disrupt the normal flow of our lives. It can be a very exciting and heady influence, if you are prepared for such changes, but it can be awfully confusing and disconcerting for those who are caught unawares. Curiously, this coincides with the biggest event of the 2008 election season to date, namely Super Tuesday on the 5th. This collection of 20 some primaries and caucuses should pretty much nail down the candidates and issues that will represent us in the coming national elections, setting the course for the country for years to come. Significant enough for you? We may start out the month in one frame of mind and end up somewhere totally different. The political mantra this year is "change" -- we may be in for change at more levels than we can anticipate. Keep your eyes open!
As I said, in traditional terms, February is definitely a slow news month. There are no important "big aspects" or the like to talk about. The only items on my list of typical events is Vesta moving into Pisces on the 17th and Mercury going direct on the 18th. Of course, there are the two eclipses to discuss, especially since they seem to be connected with the influential outer planets to a great degree. Perhaps the most interesting story all month is the continuing progress of Pluto into early Capricorn.
Last month, I started discussing the details of how Pluto moves from Sagittarius into Capricorn in 2008, especially the unusual "void of course Pluto" effect on Jan 25-26. This void Pluto effect started when Pluto completed the last of his aspects to other planets before leaving Sag. After his last aspect, an octile from Chiron, Pluto went into "silent running" across the Sag-Cap border, moving quietly over the boundary, barely detectable. He came out of this quiet mode with his first aspect in Capricorn, a square from the Moon on the 26th. Since then, we've had a couple of additional lunar aspects, but none from the other planets in the sky. In my experience, the initial lunar aspect is the wake-up alarm for a sleeping planet, but they don't really stop hitting the snooze button until something besides the Moon tells them to get moving. This changes for Pluto in early February. Following the passage of the Moon over Pluto's position early on the 3rd, Pluto gets his first important contact (an octile from the Sun) on the morning of the 4th. An entirely new planetary energy is present for us from that time onward, just in time for Super Tuesday. This octile is still active during the spectacular solar eclipse on the 6th. Mercury also makes contact with Pluto on the 8th, while Venus and the Sun connect on the 17th and 19th. In effect, the influence of Pluto, normally hidden deeply in the darkness of the psyche, is being drawn more and more into our everyday lives, giving us an increasingly vivid impression of what this new placement is all about. Since Capricorn stands for the structures and ruling powers in our lives, we can expect the status quo to come under attack in coming months and years, as the foundations of life are questioned, challenged and transformed. Of course, it takes longer to build a new foundation that will stand the test of time than it does to tear down the old one, a prospect that may not appeal to many people. We're really early into this cathartic process still, so don't get too panicky yet. The "same old" may not have crumbled after only a few weeks, but Pluto is patient. Just keep in mind that the way things were is surely not going to be the way things will be shortly. Slim down your needs and desires to the basics, get your finances in better condition (I suspect the economic problems we're seeing are more long term and structural than transitory, that we're just seeing the first act of our problems), question your allegiances to powers and ideas that hold you back. We've got a long road ahead of us...
The solar eclipse on the 6th can be approached from any number of different perspectives, but no matter how you look at it, this is one powerful and significant event. As a physical phenomenon, an annular eclipse differs from a total eclipse because the Moon is too far away in its orbit to completely blot out the Sun -- a thin ring of sunlight (called an "annulus") surrounds the dark lunar shadow. There's not anything to see here, since the best view of the eclipse is down in Antarctica. Astrologically, the first thing that stands out about this chart is the traffic jam (6 planets) in Aquarius. Two of these planets are Chiron and Neptune, looking like bookends for the eclipse point itself. Add in aspects from Uranus and Pluto to the eclipse degree and you have one hefty outer planet influence on this chart. And did I mention that this is the biggest Koz Alert of the month? This is definitely a chart to be reckoned with.
All that Aquarius activity makes for a forward looking, reformist perspective, perfectly in tune with the "Change!" mantra on the political circuits lately. Unfortunately, Aquarius can also be more than a little opinionated, stuck in his beliefs, and ready to fight for a position whether right or wrong. The questions that come after the exclamation point in the mantra are just as important as the sound bite, such as what direction we intend to change to, how are we going to get people to agree to it (every reasonable positon has its opponents) and (ummm...) how will we pay for it. The practical issues are becoming more critical than the ideological ones, especially now that Pluto is firmly in Capricorn and activated by this eclipse. The other outer planets also emphasize that we may be acting out for unknown, unconscious reasons, planning for tomorrow based on yesterday's ideas. We are being nudged to look at our world from a fresh perspective, free of old mental baggage. Uranus is stirring up our idealism, while Neptune puts a rosy glow over our altruistic tendencies. It's important to grow in wisdom and compassion first if you want to remake the world. Notice that Mercury is not only retrograde, but very close to the Sun (a condition called "combust"), so the thinking mind is certainly not sorting out all these story lines in a clear-headed fashion. For all my tirades against being overly rational, not thinking clearly is an even bigger problem. Yes, these are exciting times, full of life and exuberence, so enjoy it and make the most of it. Let's just hope this isn't a version of that old Chinese curse...
Vesta moves from Aquarius into Pisces on the 17th. She will remain here until Apr 19, when she shifts into Aries. Vesta tends to be a solitary character, a person who needs to withdraw from the hussle and bustle of life's relationships in order to go within and recharge. She finds her strength in the inner world, not in the realm of real people and situations. It's not that she dislikes people (in fact, she can interact with others quite intensely, for short periods of time), it's just they tend to make her feel drained. She's an introvert, at home in her private world. This need to withdraw is only exaggerated by this placement in Pisces, the most reclusive of all the zodiac signs. Pisces is very otherworldly, not really in touch with the material plane most people call home. It's not a coincidence that ancient astrologers associated Pisces with places like monasteries, hospitals and prisons that take a person away from the mundane world, giving space and silence to contemplate a more subtle realm. The next two months are a time to break away from life's typical distractions and make space for something new to arise from within the psyche. It may be some artistic or literary inspiration, or simply a need to catch up to yourself in the midst of too much busy-ness. The temptation to hole up is powerful now. Just remember to come up for air now and then, particularly when you get the chance to play with friends and loved ones. It's easy to overdo this isolation trip if you aren't careful. Even "being spiritual" can be done to an excessive degree, out of balance with the fullness of life. Share your gifts with those you are close to...
Mercury is at his direct station of 8Aq19 on the 18th, standing still and preparing to resume normal motion. He's been backing up since he reached his retrograde station of 23Aq52 on Jan 28. As he starts to move forward in the zodiac once more, he retraces this retrograde zone in Aquarius one last time, eventually exiting this zone on Mar 10. Mercury retrograde is one of those astrological events that many people have actually heard of, most dread it, and few really understand what's going on. Mercury is the thinking, symbol using part of the psyche, the story-teller within that attempts to make sense of everything that goes on around him and convey these "truths" in stories and images. Normally, he's a very clever and sophisticated weaver of tales, able to reduce all of life's complexities to simple theories and explanations that help a person get through their day. He creates the mental boxes in which we store our experiences until we need them in a new situation again. Something that never seems to cross his mind, however, is that whenever you simplify the world, you inevitably falsify it. When you stuff the world into one of your mental boxes, inevitably parts of it refuse to fit properly and drape over the edges, getting tangled up with something else nearby. Life is always more complicated than our stories can imagine. Normally, this isn't much of a problem. A story that is "good enough to get by" is still useful and gets us through the day. But when Mercury is backing up, like he's been the last 3 weeks, this discrepancy between story and the actual facts can become a problem. Life refuses to "make sense" and follow our neat little rules and expectations. Our thinking becomes erratic and unreliable, with reasonable sounding premises leading to wildly implausible conclusions. Communications become unreliable, as people stumble over the fact that words mean different things to different people, that the solid truth of one is the wild, implausible fantasy of another. It's hard to understand each other, let alone come to agreement, when the Mercury mind is standing in the way. This is a good time to reassess your hidden assumptions and expectations, to realize that most of our truths are simply useful fictions, not the world-as-it-is. It helps to lighten your mental baggage now and then, to realize that some of those clumsy mental boxes can be tossed aside. Even better, it's a good time to realize that the rational mind is inherently limited and not to be trusted as a source of ultimate truth. As one of my favorite bumper stickers describes it, "Don't believe everything you think!" Well, the thinking mind is standing still once more, confusion reigns, a meeting of the minds is unlikely. Give yourself a few days yet before trying to clean up the mess. As Mercury starts to move forward once more, the mind eventually clears up. The mental fog is lifting... slowly...
While not as overwhelming as the solar eclipse, the lunar one is still a potent force. The full moon axis is plenty strong already, with the Sun and Vesta opposite the Moon and Saturn. Venus and Pluto are also part of this main group. There's a secondary fan-shaped group (Jupiter, Chiron, Uranus, Ceres) worth mentioning, although its influence seems somewhat curtailed. Of the remaining planets, there are hardly any of them worth mentioning.
Except for Pluto, most of that strong outer planet emphasis we saw two weeks ago is pretty much gone. Circumstances seem less crazy and more down to earth. Saturn and Vesta have a similar quiet, down to earth, practical quality to them. You're more in the mood to simply settle down and get stuff out of the way, even if it takes some hard, detailed work on your part. Pluto reinforces this practical streak, maybe even taking it too far. (Pluto is well known for his obsessive side.) Venus adds a little levity to the mix, just to keep it from becoming too stuck in the mud. If you've got a job to do, check out from your other distractions awhile and get it done -- don't make a big soap opera out of it. That secondary group of planets offers to liven things up again in the future, although I don't expect it to be that important until early March. It's intriguing to me how similar the houses are between the two eclipse charts and hence the planet placements as well. I suspect the full moon is building on the results of the new moon, with repercussions for months to come. Settle down, get your hands dirty, understand that you are building for the future.
(Note that since Mars is moving forward again, it will soon be opposite the Galactic Center for the third and last time early on the 22nd, and opposite Pluto on Mar 7.)
It's hard to believe that all this caucus and primary nonsense has only been going on for a month now -- it seems like forever already. The Republicans seem to be narrowing down their field to just a handful of contenders, with John McCain (once considered road kill in the race) widely considered to have the nomination already. On the Democratic side, only Obama and Clinton remain standing after weeks of intensely nasty campaigning -- this race is still considered too close to call yet. The press is in a hurry to crown a winner, while the electorate seems content to hold back and consider their choices a little bit longer.
I mentioned last month that Pluto in Capricorn could produce some bad economic news for the USA, due to its upcoming oppositions to many of the "money planets" in the US chart. I was off by a week, it seems. As recently as December, the status of the economy was barely talked about on the campaign trail and the word "recession" was hardly heard at all. A month later, the economy is practically all the candidates talk about, especially after the worldwide stock market meltdown days before Pluto moved into Capricorn. All of a sudden, we've got the Federal Reserve Bank in crisis management mode and the Congress struggling to push through a pricey stimulus package to keep America afloat. It's amazing how quickly this discussion changed! I suspect this is only the beginning. (For a more detailed look on these upcoming transits, see my article Pluto in Capricorn and the US Chart.)
On a more personal note, I had a pointed reminder of the void Pluto effect. I had been asked to give a talk at the local astrology group on Jan 27 about the new Pluto placement. I was busy at home on the 26th, planning out my talk, when the phone rang. The organizer of the meeting was calling to let me know about an emergency change of venue. Our original meeting place had suffered burst plumbing, probably from the recent cold weather spell, that flooded the building. When I noted the time of this phone call, I was amused to see it coincided with the Moon's wake up call (Moon square Pluto) that ended the Pluto void of course period. Apparently, Pluto couldn't be bothered to inform me of the change of location until after his nap was completed. The organizer, herself an astrologer, got a good laugh when I pointed this out in my lecture.