Current Transits for December 2008

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


The Vesta Story
Pluto's Coming Out Party, starting 12-8
Full Moon at 21Gm02, 12-12
Sun Conjunct Galactic Center, 12-18
Mars enters Capricorn, Conjunct Pluto, 12-27/28
New Moon at 6Cp07, 12-27
Saturn Retrograde Station at 21Vi45, 12-31

An online ephemeris for the month is available.

General Outlook for the Month

Wow! How life is changing so quickly! It's hard to keep in mind the elections were only a few weeks ago -- it seems like forever already. We've really wrapped up the Pluto in Sagittarius era and are into new territory as Pluto starts to set up shop in his new home, Capricorn. We'll be experiencing this influence unfold in our lives and on the world stage a lot in December, as Pluto begins making aspects to other planets and "plugging into" the rest of the energies. In addition, the huge fan-shaped grouping of Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus and Neptune continues to affect us, though Jupiter will be leaving this stage for a few months by the end of the year. This fan is the backbone of several planetary storms and most of the activity this month. It's rare to have this many outer planets all talking at us at the same time. It forces us to grow and adapt at an accelerated pace, as well as cleaning up the unconscious messes holding us back. It can feel stressful at times, exhilarating at others, but rarely boring. We're in one of those rare times when it's possible to change directions and create a fresh start, but we have to figure out quickly how to operate under different rules than existed in the past. We're all strangers and newcomers in this land. Take time to look around and get your bearings -- be ready to act by new years.

There's not much in the way of typical astrological news in December, but there's a number of minor stories to take their place. We have Mars entering Capricorn on the 27th and Saturn's retrograde station on the 31st. Vesta is going through some intricate changes and there are many "coming out" events for Pluto.

Vesta performs an intricate dance throughout December. She is currently retrograding through Taurus (since her station on Sep 10 at 14Ta58), but will back into Aries for much of the month on the 4th. She will stand still at 29Ar33 on the 15th, before starting to move forward once more. Finally, she reenters Taurus again on the 27th, where she will stay until 2009-4-9. Vesta is an introvert and a loner. She gets her strength from withdrawing from the concerns of the world and going within, where her true strength lies. Most of this retrograde period has been in the very physical sign of Taurus, as if your physical body itself is telling you to slow down and take care of yourself. So why in the middle of all this leisurely R&R does Vesta suddenly spend 3 weeks in loud and boisterous Aries? It's almost as if she needs to rouse herself from her lethargy and get moving again. Granted, it's only half a degree of Aries, barely a toehold, but she's getting herself ready for something more active and outgoing. She's also in a strong trine aspect to Pluto during this time, so maybe she's tapped into more "inner strength" than she bargained for. Anyway, by new years, she's back in forward motion and in Taurus once more for a few months. I doubt this dance is a major influence for most of us (unless you're particularly attuned to Vesta), but it's all very intriguing.

Much of December revolves around waiting for Pluto to come out of hiding. The month is a series of first contacts for Pluto as he reestablishes connections from his new home in Capricorn. Venus is semisextile Pluto on the 8th, the first non-lunar aspect for the Dark Lord since he moved into Capricorn on Nov 26. The first aspect after a slower planet changes signs is typically the "wake up" signal for those energies, a symptom that the silent running phase of the transition is over and the planet is back in business. Pluto has decided to re-engage in our lives through our feelings and emotions. Pay attention to your moods now and let them guide your intuition. Mercury, the thinking mind, is the second planet to contact Pluto. On the one hand, this opens us up to new ideas and ways of thinking that didn't seem obvious or useful before. On the other hand, this contact challenges the thinking mind with situations that defy the old logic and stories that we've grown used to. The old stories don't work anymore, which puts Mercury into a bit of a panic. He likes the illusion of being in control, but he's hardly on top of the current situation. Make a mental note of the inspirations coming in now, even if they don't make sense. You've got time. Sun conjunct Pluto on the 22nd, the day after the solstice, is powerful and deep acting. The solstice point, when the winter Sun stops its southward slide, stands still, and then is reborn, has always been a death-and-rebirth point for many cultures. This fits in well with Pluto's themes of rebirth, so we get a double dose. It's a good time to overhaul your sense of identity by sloughing off bits and pieces of yourself that no longer apply to the world as it is now. There's no problem with letting yourself change and lots of potential for trouble if you hang on instead. Be flexible. Mars, the Warrior God, your sense of will power and motivation, moves into Capricorn on the 27th, hitting Pluto on the 28th. It's perhaps a good idea now to leave your ego behind. Both Mars and Pluto have a warrior streak to them at different levels, but with Pluto, expressing your ego and personal will power tends to backfire in the long run. You're motivated to get up and get things done -- just make sure you do it for reasonably selfless reasons. By month's end, Pluto has been visited by all the faster moving, personal planets and invaded all levels of our everyday lives. It's time to start working with his energies and getting to know what he demands of us over the next 15 years. We'll reach a higher level of Pluto's involvement when Jupiter moves into Aquarius on Jan 5 and then is semisextile Pluto on Jan 12 -- this influence plays out more on the greater world stage. Eventually, we'll get a better idea what this placement is all about.

By any standard, the full moon chart is quite spectacular. The Sun and Mars are close together and opposite the Moon, while Saturn and Uranus are still in their opposition that checked in election morning. All together, they form a powerful Grand Cross in mutable signs. Neptune and Venus are closely connected with this Cross, with Jupiter on the fringes. Mercury goes over Pluto in a few hours. The waveform for this chart is a potent Koz Alert (569 units), the strongest influence all month.

All these squares and oppositions between planets that are often difficult to handle makes this a volatile and dicey situation. It's a good time to explore novel ways of dealing with the problems at hand, because the older "tried and true" methods are undoubtedly backfiring on us. There seem to be a lot of roadblocks and speedbumps in our path. We are already looking past the solutions of today and focusing on tomorrow, attempting to bring a fresh approach (Uranus) to old issues (Saturn) and building a solid foundation for the future. If you aren't looking ahead like this, I can assure you that you'll be blindsided by unexpected repercussions (Uranus again) of some sort -- the proverbial Zen 2-by-4 whacking you up the side of the head, telling you to wake up. With Mercury being the second planet to tune into Pluto, your thinking mind may be in overdrive. Pay attention to unusual ideas and insights that pop into your brain the next few days. Much of it may not make much sense now, but if you play with these notions awhile, they will form the foundation of a new perspective for making sense of the changing world before us. Get through the week as best you can and pick up the pieces later. Be flexible in your approach -- the "same old" won't cut it anymore.

The Sun is conjunct the Galactic Center, currently at 26Sa58, on the 18th. I've been tuning into this annual event for a number of years now and always find it an intriguing time. Physically, the GC is now thought to be a massive black hole, several million times as massive as our own Sun, that sits at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It's the central point around which all the billlions of stars in our galaxy orbit, much as the planets in our solar system orbit around the Sun. As such, it represents a central organizing point astrologically for the galaxy as a whole, far transcending the individual egos and personal psyches of "mere humans" as symbolized by our Sun or any of the other planets. Having tuned into the GC repeatedly in recent years, especially during this window each December, I'm fascinated by the intense spiritual energies in this center and how it seems to transport me out of mundane reality for a few days. There's an otherworldly or archetypal mood to this influence, a sense that you're connecting with a plane of reality that is so vast, our normal human concerns hardly count. You can feel like you've been transported to another world for a few days. Events during this window tend to make rather bizare news stories and sometimes have a deeply transformative effect on the world. For instance, the Wright Brother's first airplane flight in 1903 took place a day before a new moon on the GC. In just minutes on that day, our world was catapulted from the horse and buggy era into the jet age, with all the impacts and side effects that has caused. The effect on us as spiritual beings can be just as profound, though to be honest, most people simply aren't ready to experience the GC. I've felt it open up higher chakra points during my meditations, including points above the crown chakra. It's very hard to describe the ever changing GC experience without sounding more than a bit weird and flaky, so sorry if I sound too "out there" right now. Curiously, with practice, this high consciousness starts feeling quite normal. Perhaps this is where humanity as a whole is headed, if we just broaden our perspective enough. Tune into the energies around the 18th and see what you think.

Mars moves from Sagittarius into Capricorn on the 27th for a 6 week stay and immediately runs into Pluto (on the 28th). As far as places for Mars to hang out, Capricorn is generally considered one of the best. There's something about the button down, nose to the grindstone Capricorn that gives discipline and focus to Mars' impetuous nature. This is a placement meant for hard work and effort that leads to genuine results. If you have some big projects that require an extended effort, especially if there's not much "glory" for yourself in the work, the next few weeks are an ideal time to dig in and get it done. Mars has a tendency for pumping up the ego and having a "me first" attitude that often gets him in trouble. Coming out on top can be more important than acheiving your goals in an efficient manner and doing the right thing. Capricorn has little use for such grandstanding. The question for Cap is generally "how can we make this work right?", a question that all too frequently takes a back seat to concerns like who gets the credit and does it make me look good. So buckle down, put your ego aside, and focus your considerable Martian energy to making results happen. Now the fact that Mars goes over Pluto the next day is of considerable interest. Powerful ego concerns are even less important for Pluto than what we've just described about Capricorn. Pluto works at a level that transcends ego concerns. In fact, actions based on "what's in it for me?" will likely boomerang on you horribly under this placement. If you find yourself butting heads with other strong-minded people in coming weeks, it's probably because Pluto is letting you know you're in the situation primarily for your own self-interest. Pluto works best in a transpersonal manner, aiming for the greater good and not worrying about personal outcomes. Step back from the situation and reassess what your true motives are. Mars is best utilized in service to the wider world. He generally mucks things up if he tries to be in control all the time. Leaders serve. Harness this time to get your work done -- this is an extremely useful and powerful placement.

What a lopsided looking chart the new moon is! Coming just as the Christmas storm is breaking up, most of the planets (11 of them) are packed into only a quarter of the zodiac, with 7 bodies in Capricorn alone. That leaves only Saturn (standing still all too soon) and a few asteroids to fill up the rest of the sky. Jupiter is pulling out of the main storm pattern these days as it heads towards the Aquarius border, but otherwise the fan grouping is still extremely active.

The emphasis on Capricorn is most striking, especially since the new Congress and administration take office during this lunar month -- this is an important transitional time. Cap is about getting down to business and making things work right, perhaps the most practical of all the zodiac signs. With Mars contacting Pluto shortly, action is all important, while talk and posturing is worthless. Curiously, in Washington DC, the ascendent for this chart is 4Cp06, halfway between Mars-Pluto and the new moon point, so hopefully the message won't be lost on our leaders. We're hearing a higher calling to each of us these days, a call to make our world work as smoothly as possible in these troubled times. Roll up your sleeves and get to work! Life may be very demanding in the near-term, but the possibilities for the new year are immense. We only have to make it so...

Saturn reaches its retrograde station of 21Vi45 on the 31st. He will be backing up to a direct station of 14Vi54 by 2009-5-16. Saturn is the planet commonly associated with old karma coming due, leftover business from the past that ultimately needs to be dealt with and resolved once and for all. In particular, his retrograde periods are times when you need to clean up some area and there's no way to wiggle out of the situation. Typically, you can get a good idea what this area might be by examining which house of your birthchart contains this retrograde zone (21 to 14 Virgo) and reading up on the affairs covered by this house. Now, it is most curious to me that today's station is right on the eve of moving into 2009, not to mention the upcoming change of government in this country. Granted, people tend to fixate on cycles and big changes in the calendar (what is sometimes called "the odometer effect" when we flip over to a new year), but even if these calendar cycles are somewhat artificial (compared to astrological cycles), they still have meaning for us. Is this station our planetary wake up call to get our act together in the coming year? The US certainly has considerable national karma to resolve, much of it from the mistakes of the last 8 years, but much that has its roots far deeper than that. Since this cycle is in the sign of Virgo, many of our lessons are as much on technique (how we do things) as on substance. This is a placement that reminds us that we need to live intelligently, efficiently and simply, realizing that our actions have unintended consequences. We have to be careful that we do things right, mindful of how our decisions effect others. Blundering ahead in an unreflective fashion, focused on our own egocentric needs and concerns, unconcerned with the fallout we're unwittingly causing, is certainly going to get Saturn's attention in coming months. My nickname for Saturn is The Headmaster at the School of Hard Knocks. I can see him getting out his big steel ruler and whacking us on the knuckles if we aren't learning our lessons properly. In the context of the other planetary patterns going on (the large outer planet fan and Pluto in Capricorn), we are due for some major karmic extra credit assignments, both individually and collectively. Old karma comes due quicker than usual when Saturn is backing up, so I expect we'll be seeing the down sides of past actions coming to haunt us frequently in coming months. All indications are for a pretty rough time ahead for at least the first half of 2009, if not longer. The list of problems on our plate (the economy, global environmental change, 2 wars, reengaging with the rest of the world after 8 years of "cowboy diplomacy", etc.) is long and daunting. We can either take our whacks on the knuckles now and focus on cleaning up our messes in the short term, or face even bigger and more intractable consequences in the future. Saturn is patient and fair, but unyielding. Sooner or later, we will face our lessons -- we can't make our karma magically disappear or pass it off to someone else. We may not enjoy having our butts kicked, but it keeps us honest and humble. Saturn is a good friend, one that is forthright enough to take us aside and tell us when we're screwing up. We should all have a friend like that. Happy new year, I guess...

It's a rare treat to retire one presidential birthchart and start looking at a new one. Obama will be coming into office under some powerful energies. The Saturn station is near his Mars (disciplined action is the order of the day) and he's having a protective Jupiter return on Jan 9. In fact, with Mercury, Sun and Jupiter all on his natal Jupiter and the Midheaven on his Saturn at his inauguration, he seems destined to take on the mantle of power easily -- he's already eclipsing Bush in the news. We wish him the best in these terribly difficult times, for all of our sakes.

Besides the economic ups and downs (mostly the latter, it seems) in November, the other major news story seems to have been the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India Thanksgiving week. There was a lot of astrological activity going on during this storm period (the Pluto transition, Uranus direct station, a new moon), so it's tough to pin the attack on anything specific. It's another of those global wake up calls, I guess.