Current Transits for January 2009

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


Happy New Year, 1-1
Jupiter enters Aquarius, 1-5
Full Moon at 21Cn02, 1-10
Ceres Retrograde Station at 13Vi35, 1-11
Mercury Retrograde Station at 7Aq45, 1-11
Jupiter Semisextile Pluto, 1-12
Pallas Direct Station at 4Gm00, 1-14
Inauguration Day, 1-20
Juno enters Aquarius, 1-21
New Moon / Annular Solar Eclipse at 6Aq29, 1-26
Jupiter Octiles Uranus, 1-27
Chiron Semisextile Uranus, 1-30
Jupiter Trioctile Saturn, 1-30

An online ephemeris for the month is available.

General Outlook for the Month

Happy new year! At least we hope so. 2008 was certainly a bruising year for most people, especially given the way the global economic system seized up. However, we are set to strike out in some vastly different directions in 2009, particularly after the new administration comes to office on Jan 20. As if on cue, there are powerful planetary influences at work on us now, prodding us to make the needed changes quickly before matters get even worse. Perhaps the most prominent pattern this month is the continuing opposition between Saturn and Uranus (with help from Chiron and Neptune). This aspect was exact for the first time on the morning of election day; its next contact is on Feb 5, shortly after the inauguration. Pretty much all the important planetary storms this month (and there are some doozies coming up!) involve large groups of planets joining forces with this opposition. Jupiter moves from Capricorn into Aquarius on the 5th, a change of mood that should lighten our spirits some. Jupiter is also the first of the outer planets to aspect Pluto (on the 12th) since Pluto entered Capricorn on 2008-11-26. The Dark Lord is rarely a major power these days, but he does seem to be a persistent background influence on us. In the long term, start paying attention to Neptune in 2009, especially from April on. The world is having a "Neptune return" of sorts this year, as Neptune returns to the place in the zodiac where it was discovered in 1846. This is one of those "spiritual opportunities" to examine this planetary energy and the deeply unconscious powers it represents in our psyches in a way not thought possible before. We'll have more to say on this topic as the year progresses. So for now, take a deep breath and prepare yourself for a busy month. We've got a lot of work ahead of us...

Have we ever got a full plate in January. I count 3 stations, 2 sign changes (including the big shift for Jupiter into Aquarius) and 4 critical "big aspects", most of them involving Jupiter. Oh, and the new moon on the 26th is a screaming solar eclipse. That should be enough to keep us busy!

2009 starts out on a quiet note. The waveform is tuned into a small, loose fan-shaped group of planets. It starts out with a conjunction of Pluto and Mars in early Capricorn. On its face, that sounds like a lit fuse for any of the armed conflicts around the world, but it's just as likely to indicate a desire to take on the many problems in a more effective manner than before. Next in line are Jupiter and Mercury in late Capricorn, both about to enter Aquarius. This is a counterpoint of wisdom and communication that channels our energies along more constructive paths. The third point of the fan is a lovely conjunction of the Moon and Venus, with Neptune on the fringes. If Pluto-Mars is the "masculine" pole of this grouping, this third point is definitely the "feminine" pole. It takes the steam out of our aggressive tendencies and focuses the public mood along peaceful, constructive lines. Given the positive aspects connecting all these planets, it makes me feel guardedly optimistic about the coming year. We'll see...

Jupiter moves from Capricorn into Aquarius on the 5th for a year-long stay. It will remain in this sign until 2010-1-17, when it enters Pisces. Jupiter represents our normal feelings of optimism and well-being, a sense of support and connectedness with the world around us. Frankly, the effect of Capricorn is quite a downer on Jupiter. There's a quality of constriction about Cap that works at cross purposes with ol' Jove -- they don't get along well. Aquarius may not be the perfect abode for Jupiter, but it's a big improvement. The Aquarian optimistic focus on the future works well with this planet. Plus, as an air sign, there's a curious intelligence here that accents the broad vision and basic wisdom that Jupiter is known for. What you'll probably notice first on the 5th is a feeling of lightness, as though you've gotten past some weighty burdens. Things won't improve immediately, by any means, but it's easier to get to work when you feel hopeful about the long-term prospects. Incidentally, unlike the slow moving Pluto, the "silent running" period for Jupiter as it changes signs is not very long. It takes only 4 minutes before the Moon aspects Jupiter (a square) after its entry into Aquarius. He sounds in a hurry to get down to business...

The central feature of the full moon chart is called a Mystic Rectangle by astrologers. It stars the Sun-Moon and Saturn-Uranus oppositions in a large box shape; I'd include Chiron and Neptune in the mix as well. Unlike its more famous cousin, the Grand Cross (which we saw in the December full moon), a Mystic Rectangle has a lot of positive potential. The mind is concentrated on the dynamic tensions of the current situation, allowing us to sense the flow of energies and surf them more easily. As we've seen since Saturn and Uranus became a major story last October, there's a tug-of-war between the existing status quo and a newer, more idealistic vision of the future, especially on a societal level. It's like being stuck in a rut and shot out of a cannon at the same time. We need to avoid being paralyzed by the troubles we face, free to take some chances and fresh starts. The long-term outlook is hopeful, despite how gloomy the immediate future appears. Keep things in perspective...

Ceres reaches her retrograde station of 13Vi35 on the 11th, the start of a 3 month retrograde cycle. She will back up to 0Vi24 by Apr 12 before resuming normal direct motion. In very simplistic terms, Ceres is about the care and feeding of yourself and the ones you love. Virgo is about developing the skills and techniques necessary to achieve some mastery of your world. Obviously, with this retrograde cycle coming up and the extra long stay in Virgo, we have some Ceres lessons to hone. A good starting place is creating a healthier environment for yourself, in particular, cleaning up your diet. In a sense, this placement is a health nut's dream. It goes far beyond the physical aspects of living, however. A supportive emotional setting is probably even more important. Whatever the form it comes out, use this time to make some useful, healthy and sane changes in your life. Simplify your daily routine -- we're already overstimulated and cluttered in a busy-ness that doesn't suit our deeper purposes. We don't need to push ourselves so hard...

Also on the 11th, Mercury goes retrograde at 7Aq45 for the next 3 weeks. He'll back up to 21Cp44 by Feb 1 and then turn direct again. Mercury is the thinking mind, the part of the psyche that tells stories about the world and calls them facts and explanations. When the Mercury mind is sharp and clever, these stories are extremely useful at helping us navigate the demands of everyday living. Mercury retrograde is not one of those times. For any number of reasons, our tales don't match reality all that well and the discrepency becomes increasingly hard to ignore. It feels like the world ceases to "make sense" these days, that your thinking is sloppy and error-prone, that miscommunications plague even common conversations. In short, the thinking mind is in mothballs for about 3 weeks. Make allowances for this chaos and give yourself a chance to change your mind later on important matters. Curiously, these retrograde cycles are often a powerful time for stepping back and watching how your mind works (rather than how you believe it does). You learn as a computer programmer that nothing teaches you more about how a program works than watching it when it's misbehaving. The same goes for your own mind. With practice, you learn to separate yourself from your thinking -- you are so much more than the stories you tell.

Jupiter is semisextile Pluto on the 12th, a quick single pass "big aspect" that cements both planets new placements in their signs. This is the first "big aspect" for both Jupiter and Pluto as they settle into their new signs, a mutual coming out party for both planets. It deepens and refines the mental characteristics of Jupiter, as well as gives us a vision of where we need to direct our focus next. It also represents a release of Pluto's transformative power onto a wider stage than previously. Since entering Capricorn, Pluto has begun to overhaul our private lives in subtle ways. Now he turns his attention to more collective concerns -- how timely, as the newly elected government shows up for business. This is not a long lasting influence by any means. I suspect it will hardly be remembered a few months from now. But it is an opening chapter for the long saga ahead of us.

Pallas reaches her direct station of 4Gm00 on the 14th. This ends a 10 week retrograde cycle that began on 2008-10-26, when she stood still at 20Gm39. Pallas is a highly mental, intuitive body and fits in well with the mental and communcicative energies of Gemini. She normally turns her attention to the outer world, sizing up situations quickly and figuring out how to accomplish her goals. But when she is in reverse gear, like she's been since October, that attention seems to be focused inward instead. There's a need to approach the inner psychic realm, whether to pursue an artistic interest or to come to terms with some element of the unconscious previously unrecognized. It's an excellent period for creative endeavors of any kind. I hope you indulged this opportunity to play with your mental toys these last few weeks, a luxury we often ignore in our busy lives. It's time to see what surprises you've come up with, as Pallas slowly turns outward again.

See Obama Inauguration Chart 2009 for a copy of this chart.

Officially, the new president is sworn in at noon on Jan 20, although such public ceremonies can often run a little early or late, so this is just a preliminary chart for the Obama administration.

Except for Saturn, Ceres and Pallas, all the planets in the sky are above the horizon, so this is (not too surprisingly) a chart driven by external circumstances, not by ideology. The tenth house in particular, the presidency itself, is packed. Whether that translates into true power on the part of Obama to shape the nation's course, or simply represents all the hopes and aspirations that people project onto him, is a little unclear. Starting from the midheaven, the first body is Juno in the last degree of Capricorn (she goes into Aquarius on the 21st). The spirit of fairness and cooperation will be key to this administration. In fact, this presidency could well rise or fall on its ability to get people to work together. The next 5 planets are all in Aquarius. Mercury is extremely close to the Sun (a condition known as "Cazimi" to more traditional astrologers) and retrograde to boot. Obama's appointments to date have definitely been the "best and the brightest", the leading political and administrative talent in the nation, but smarts by themselves are not enough. Obama needs to knit all this talent together into a coherent whole, free from intellectual hubris (the "we know better" syndrome), and channel all this creative energy effectively. Next is Jupiter, which provides a protective influence on his endeavors and allows him to project a much needed optimism from the bully pulpit. Rounding out the 10th are Chiron and Neptune. Our national aspirations are rather battered and bruised by the last few years, especially the economic meltdown in 2008. Part of the healing process for the country is a redirecting of our goals and ideals, getting us back to the visionary principles on which our grand experiment was founded. Yes, I'm rather suspicious of this mythology of "The United States", especially when this powerful myth is perverted as it has been the last 8 years, but at the moment, this myth is the best motivation for collective growth we possess. Obama won the election in part on his ability to embody our vision, but it can also result in extreme disillusionment with him if he can't produce results. The Moon in this chart is another enigma. It's in the 7th house, in the last degree of Scorpio, and is technically void of course; the Sun and Moon are in a positive sextile. Personally, I don't buy into the idea that void Moons are all that bad, but for some reason, this one bothers me. Partly, this Moon represents the mood of the people, anxious and apprehensive (Scorpio) and wanting to move to a more upbeat mood (Sagittarius). The void effect may translate into limited effectiveness on the foreign affairs front. (It would be better if the swearing in happened a half hour later, but that's not likely to occur.) The legislative branch is symbolized by the 5th (Ceres, Saturn) and 11th (Venus, Uranus) houses. Saturn, Uranus? Sound familiar? The opposition is supported by Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune in the 10th, and Mars in the 9th. The Congress will be an important battleground for forging the new national agenda. Democratic leaders will not be in the mood to abdicate responsibility to the president as they did with Bush, so don't expect the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to always agree with each other. The Judiciary (Mars in the 9th) could also be a source of discord given all the conservative justices appointed by past Republicans. The fight over new Court appointees coming up will be intense. Of course, the real test will be over the economic recovery, as watched over by our friend Pluto.

Obama seems "at his prime" as he takes over the presidency. He was born in 1961 after the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction that year, and the conjunction is a prominent feature in his birthchart. The midheaven at the time he is sworn in is very close to his Saturn and the US Pluto. He has a Jupiter return on Jan 9, a hint that his power is at a peak; all the Aquarius planets now support his Jupiter. His Mars is on the US Neptune, which can dampen his ability to take decisive action unless he truly acts for the greatest good. The Saturn-Uranus opposition joins up with the US Mars to form a T-square, hinting that our attitude towards using the military so extensively may change. (In contrast, both father and son Bush had major contacts with the US Mars, which is probably how we wound up in Iraq twice.) Obama's plans to withdraw from Iraq by 2010 may be quite contentious when the nitty-gritty of pulling out has to be faced.

Some intriguing transits to watch out for start with Pluto's opposition to the US Venus starting in early March and lasting through 2010. Economic news for 2009 is likely to be rather dismal before it improves. We may still be in a weakened condition through 2011, when Pluto opposes the US Jupiter. The news this spring as the unique Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune conjunction forms will also be worth following. This conjunction is on Obama's South Node (karmic fulfillment) and opposite his Uranus, as well as very near the US Moon. We wish the new president all the best.

Juno moves from Capricorn into Aquarius on the 21st. She'll be in this sign until Apr 4, when she enters Pisces. Juno is the Queen of Relationships. She loves the ideal of being in a partnership of equality and trust, though she's apt to be quite angry if reality doesn't live up to her expectations. Juno in Capricorn is not a pleasant placement for her. There's too much focus on the physical demands of everyday living, especially money, and not enough on love and romance. Aquarius is not really a romantic sign, by any means, but it is more light-hearted and forward looking than Capricorn is. She''s willing to turn the page on the past and move to a brighter future. It's curious that Juno is the most prominent planet in the inauguration chart on the 20th (in the sense of being closest to the midheaven), so this spirit of dealing respectfully with each other will be a challenge in coming years. We could use a change of attitude like that...

The icing on the cake for all the Koz Quakes this month is this solar eclipse. The pattern of this chart is familiar by now. Start with Saturn opposite Uranus-Venus. 30 degrees from Uranus is Chiron-Neptune; 45 degrees is Jupiter and the eclipse itself; 60 degrees is Mars-Mercury. In fact, the only bodies that don't feed into this incredible pattern are Ceres and Pluto (off hiding in the background). Eclipses generally affect the next 6-12 months, so it's a no-brainer to expect 2009 to be nonstop changes. Look to the house in your birthchart with all these Aquarius planets to find out the area of your life most affected. This basic pattern is ringing like a bell between now and Feb 5 as one important aspect after another goes off, so the next few weeks are busy and transformative. Envision where you want your life to head and give it your best shot. The energies now are hard to surf, but extremely fruitful if you can handle them.

Jupiter octiles Uranus on the 27th, another quick single pass aspect. This is Jupiter's first contact with the powerful Saturn-Uranus opposition that plays such a dominant role this month. Together, this threesome is a curious commentary on our world as we change our collective direction. Jupiter and Saturn rule over the concerns of society at large, while Uranus points us beyond the mundane level to a wider perspective than we normally operate at. The balance between rewards and responsibilities is shifting, as the consequences of past actions over the decades (the very definition of karma) catches up to us. This octile is a challenge to our conventional wisdom, the proverbial Zen 2-by-4 across the head to wake us up. The effects of humanity on the earth are greater than we've previously imagined, even when we try to strive for the greater good. Most of the big problems facing the world today can arguably be blamed on a lack of imagination and compassion on our part. We need to get wise fast...

Chiron is semisextile Uranus on the 30th. If I counted this right, this is the first of 23 contacts for this aspect, ranging from now to 2038! The next contact is on May 30. Wow! It will take us a long time to get a feel for how this aspect is supposed to work out. It will be operating in the background for the next 3 decades, slowly opening up the parts of our nature that we most often overlook to increased insight and scrutiny. It's a long road of one "aha!" after another, none earthshaking in itself, but cumulatively they remake us on the inside. Due to the intricate orbital ballet of Chiron and Urauns, this semisextile comes in 3 big acts: 2009-2011, 2016-2021 and 2036-2038, with a little down time in the gaps.

Jupiter is trioctile Saturn on the 30th, the last of 3 such contacts. They made this same aspect previously on 2008-3-18 and 2008-6-26. Our mighty threesome is at it again! (Incidentally, the next Saturn-Uranus opposition is Feb 5.) This trioctile has a longer history, aggravating stress points in the world and bringing problems to the surface. This is most visible in the MidEast, since this Jupiter-Saturn cycle has been intimately connected with this area of the planet since its beginning in May 2000. Yet again, there's a shooting war starting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza as a ceasefire agreement broke down in December (after the planets completed a more helpful trine). Uranus is not pleased with our shortsightedness. Unless humanity gets its act together, the next few years of this cycle will be very trying. I guess that's Saturn's way of getting us to shape up.

Pluto woke up on Dec 8 after Venus aspected him. The news stories that week were dominated by the names Blagojevich and Madoff. Interesting how two stories of old fashioned sleeze (one political, the other financial) came out of the woodwork within days of each other, as if Pluto is doing a housecleaning on the old ways. Gov. Blagojevich was back in the news after the Mars-Pluto conjunction on Dec 28, defiantly naming his own replacement senator for Obama's seat. He's been a major distraction during the serious business of the government transition.

It was about this same time that the Hamas-Israel ceasefire broke down. I guess with Mars-Pluto active, the compulsion to fight simply overcame common sense. Once more, it's the innnocent people who have to live there that bear the cost of this mindless calculus of revenge and intolerance. If any part of the world really needs an outer planet wakeup call, it's the Middle East.

Another country in the news lately for being a total basket case is Zimbabwe. While looking at one of my astrology programs for a totally unrelated purpose, I noticed that Pluto is passing directly over the capital city Harare everyday, since they are at the same latitude currently. Is Pluto upset with this nation and its crazy ruler? It's one of those curious coincidences, perhaps...