Current Transits for March 2009

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


The Pluto Situation
Venus Retrograde Station at 15Ar27, 3-6
Full Moon at 20Vi39, 3-10
Mars enters Pisces, 3-14
Jupiter Quincunx Saturn, 3-22
New Moon at 6Ar07, 3-26
Jupiter Octile Pluto, 3-27

An online ephemeris for the month is available.

General Outlook for the Month

If you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, March looks like your ship is stuck out on stormy seas, but with no wind in its sails. The overall energy patterns this month appear weak and scattered, with little direction or purpose. And yet your ability to bring your own goals to fruition is limited by a lack of planetary support. March just never seems to build up a head of steam and take off. After a couple of weeks of this, it feels like hiking through a swamp, sorry to say. Particularly as we approach the last half of the month, the energies are dominated by a background influence, namely Pluto's retrograde station on Apr 4. Pluto is not moving very quickly these days, moving only a quarter of a degree all month, so his influence is rather relentless and heavy handed. His persistent bass note may be drowned out sometimes by stronger energies (not that there's much of that), but he's always in the background, a presence in the shadows. On the bright side, at least there are no big Koz Alerts to knock us off our feet, not even one. Intensity levels (Pluto aside) are generally weak to moderate, nothing we can't handle. Still, it will be pleasant when the sky finally gets some "oomph!" back. Muddle through...

Like February, there's not much in the way of traditional astrological events to discuss this month. There are two "big aspects" in the latter part of March. Venus goes retrograde on the 6th (probably the biggest story currently), while Mars moves into Pisces on the 14th. And as I mentioned earlier, Pluto's upcoming retrograde station in early April seems to cast a pall over everything in a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) way.

Before we get started with the usual events and themes, let's discuss the Pluto situation in March and April. Pluto will be standing still at his retrograde station on Apr 4, so he's currently not going anywhere fast. In fact, he moves only a quarter of a degree (less than the width of the Sun or Moon) all month. When one of the outer planets is standing still like this, the effect is similar to a platoon of soldiers in heavy boots marching in place -- and we're the pavement. If can really feel like we are being incessantly pummeled at times like this, especially when it's the Pluto platoon on top of us. The station will be at 3Cp17, but 3 degrees of any zodiac sign is being affected heavily. We'll discuss this station in more detail next month, but essentially it represents a situation in our lives that is in need of overhaul and reform, though we may not fully realize it yet. That moment of "aha! I get it!" is probably way off in the future (say, the direct station on Sep 11), so the crisis appears more like a troubling storm cloud on the horizon, not anything eminent. Famous last words! The situation is more demanding than we realize now and will only get worse over the spring and summer. Keep your eyes open for these warning signs and start making adjustments. Anyway, there's this feeling looming in the shadows all month that something is just not right, that problems are around the corner. It makes it hard to be upbeat about the other areas that are seemingly going along OK. Another piece of Pluto news for the nation as a whole is the first contact of the Dark Lord with the US Venus (an opposition), around Mar 8th. Venus is the first of several Cancer planets in the US chart that rule over business and the economy in this country. Since Pluto's entry into Capricorn a year ago, the economy has been on the ropes (in case you haven't noticed). This was just the warm up act. The passage of Pluto opposite the US Venus in 2009 and 2010 will exert extreme pressure on the US economy to reform and restructure itself, putting itself on a firm and sustainable basis, unlike the "faith based financial planning" of the previous administration. Pluto will oppose the US Jupiter in 2011, just in case we don't get the message sooner. The next few years will coerce us (in the way only Pluto can do) to abandon our unrealistic expectations of life and get back to basics. The Obama shock treatment for the federal budget is just the beginning of this process. Economists are hopeful that the turn around might happen later this year. Personally, I'm not so certain about that timeline -- this may be a longer correction than we are currently anticipating. That's a cheery way to start the month...

Venus is at her retrograde station of 15Ar27 on the 6th, about to start 6 weeks of backing up. She will be in reverse gear until Apr 17, when she stops at her direct station of 29Pi11 and resumes normal motion. Venus is presently a beautiful evening star, hanging high in the twilight sky after dusk. As she slows down and then goes into reverse gear, she will rapidly drop towards the Sun and disappear from the evening sky. After her conjunction with the Sun on the 27th, she reappears in the morning sky for the early birds among us. People like to complain about those pesky Mercury retrograde cycles, but in my opinion, they are nothing compared to the Venus retrograde times. Mercury is the thinking mind, a relatively superficial part of the human psyche, so foul ups at this level, while annoying and troublesome, are easy to compensate for. With Venus, the trouble is much more basic and debilitating. She operates at the instinctual level of feeling and intuition, frequently acting below our normal awareness. When you boil down the fancy and romantic symbolism of Venus to its basics, she's that primordial instinct of attraction and repulsion, of liking something and wanting to come closer to it, or disliking it and wanting to head the other direction. There's a lot of biological wisdom in moving towards the things that appeal to us and make us feel good. However, this is not always the best strategy in life, and Venus retrograde is one of those times when the strategy backfires. People often will tell you to go with your gut instincts and trust your heart, not your head. That's exactly what you don't want to do now, because it's your gut level instincts that aren't behaving properly these days. For instance, astrologers commonly warn people against buying art and home decorations during these cycles. That's because your sense of likes and dislikes is fluid now and divorced from your normal tastes, so you may acquire something "beautiful" now and wonder why it looks so unremarkable 2 months from now. There's a similar warning against falling in love during these cycles, because you may shortly wind up wondering what you ever saw in Mr./Ms. Wonderful. It doesn't hurt every now and then to shake up and reexamine your instinctive attractions and repulsions -- people do fall into ruts and habits, after all. It's good, and often a lot of fun, to break out of your ruts and try something new and different for a change, just to see if your tastes have changed recently. Just make sure you can back out of some bad decisions down the road -- not all change is good change, we know that. When something attracts you out of the corner of your eye in coming weeks, try asking yourself what this means about your needs and wants and whether you really feel that way deep down, instead of instinctively pulling out the credit card. When a stranger catches your eye, ask yourself what this says about your capacity for love and intimacy. You can learn a lot about yourself this way, maybe even achieve some maturity that has been delayed. Fortunately, these Venus cycles are rather rare (only Mars takes longer between retrograde periods) and are over quick enough. It can be an exciting and unusual time, but it can also cause some minor "oops" situations for you. Have some fun, kick your shoes off and let your hair down, but don't go overboard about it. You still have to face the morning after.

The most important feature of the full moon chart is that the Sun and Moon lie right across the Saturn-Uranus opposition, the dominant aspect in the sky for the last 4 months. All this talk about trying something new vs. sticking to the same old ways becomes more significant than ever, because you can feel it in your bones now. On the inside, there's a tension of head and heart, of what feels best as opposed to what you know to be the more reasonable path. In the outer world, it seems like people are divided into warring camps, each convinced of the correctness of their own perspectives and of the other side's foolishness. The fact of the matter is we're in uncharted territory these days and the old questions (let alone the answers) of the past don't apply all that well. There's no telling quite yet who is more correct in their analysis of the world and how to fix it. We need to give each other more slack than we're prone to extending.

There are a few subplots to this chart worth exploring. Allied with the main grouping are Venus (now retrograde) and Jupiter, churning up our attitudes about the material things and close partners that support us in the world. As things become more unreliable, people become all the more important for us. Mars conjunct Neptune also have a connection with the main group. This aspect is difficult for Mars, since the subtle influence of Neptune tends to deflate him and make it harder for him to act. There's too much "whatever..." in the air for Mars to be very effective. Mercury is currently sextile Pluto, which adds a depth and insightfulness to your thinking, even if you find it hard to express to others. There's an altruism to your thinking that modifies the hard-nosed realities that Pluto is forcing us to face. It should be noted that there are 8 bodies (half the planets!) in just Aquarius and Pisces -- this is a very lopsided chart. Our perspectives are rather limited currently -- we need to break out of our ruts. It makes the Saturn-Moon half of the chart all that more important. It's hard to balance out the gentle Moon and the tough-minded Saturn effectively, as though we needed anymore paradoxes in our lives. Explore new options before deciding on a plan of action. There are no right answers in the back of the book...

Mars moves from Aquarius into Pisces on the 14th. He'll be in this sign until Apr 22, when he shifts into one of his favorite zodiac signs, Aries. Of all the placements for Mars, Pisces has to be one of his least favorites. Our mighty Warrior God, a Man of True Bluster, has a real tough time fitting in with the selfless, retiring Pisces. The planet says be bold, get things done, have a great adrenalin rush, but the zodiac sign tells him to be quiet and contemplative, to put his goals aside for the greater good, to sit down and meditate. He's not going to like this. Let your inner warrior gripe and grumble awhile, then settle down. It's useful for Mars to downshift from time to time, as if to remind him that the ego is not all it's cracked up to be. Setting your sights on bigger goals than your own self interest is helpful in maintaining some perspective and avoiding a big head. Having said all that, you may still feel like your Mars is being restricted and held back. Curb your impatience -- it's only 5 weeks. When Mars shifts into Aries in late April, he'll have plenty of time to cut loose. Hang in there!

Jupiter is quincunx Saturn on the 22nd, the first of 3 such contacts. The other contacts fall on 2009-8-19 and 2010-2-5. These two planets are basically society at large and your place in it. Jupiter is the goodies and the rewards in your life from reaching out to the world and stretching your limits, while Saturn is more the restrictions and responsibilities we feel when we engage with the world. Their effects are more often felt on the larger world stage than in our personal lives (unless your own birhchart is heavily tangled up with this aspect). It takes 20 years for Jupiter and Saturn to go through one of their cycles, and long cycles tend to have more wide spread influences. Quincunxes are generally a time when a planetary cycle is out of sorts and in need of some readjustment. To say that the world is out of joint and in need of some remedial effort has to be the biggest understatement possible. Over the next few years, the aspects between Jupiter and Saturn are all of the difficult kind, so don't get the idea that a change is right around the corner. It may feel like you're putting a lot of effort into your life and not having much to show for it. A change in direction, applying your energies towards different goals than you did in the past, may be required. This has been a time lately when it pays to downsize your expectations and learn to get by on less. Such lessons apply not only to individuals, but to all of society in general. It seems as if the restrictive hand of Saturn has the advantage over the largesse of Jupiter. As always with Jupiter-Saturn aspects, it's worth remembering that their conjunction back in 2000, the start of this current 20 year cycle, was on the Israeli Sun. This cycle has had an uncanny connection with the twisting currents of the situation in the Middle East. The "calm" in this troubled part of the world was broken once again this winter and it will break many times more until the parties on all sides of the conflict change their attitudes and approaches. For now, the factions within Palestine are having trouble making peace with each other, let alone with Israel. And with a new American administration in power now, our nation's policies in the region are undergoing review. As I said, quincunxes are about readjustments. Sometimes staring into the abyss is the only way to get people to wake up and smell the coffee. The end results of these adjustments will likely not be evident until the Jupiter-Saturn opposition in 2010-11, which is actually a T-Square with Pluto. Ouch! It's intriguing how many planetary influences seem to be peaking a few years from now like this. As the Chinese saying goes, "May you live in interesting times..."

There's a marked change in emphasis at the new moon, as if someone hit the reset button on the month. The big focal point is the tight conjunction of Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus in early Aries. They are square Pluto and octile Jupiter, that octile fan we've seen several times before. Mars is on the fringes of this group, suffering through his Pisces hangover. Curiously, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are no longer the center of attention.

With Pluto square the new moon and slowly inching towards his station, there's a heavy, ponderous feeling in the air. You may feel ready for action and taking off in a new direction, but Pluto has other plans for us. You first need to take care of old business, cleaning up some situation that's been hanging over your head for quite some time, but that never seemed important enough to work through. If you do nothing else with this energy, I'd recommend you take some steps to put your finances in order so you aren't so vulnerable to influences that are outside of your control. Check where Pluto is in your chart (3Cp17), as the affairs of that house will be under extreme stress through the summer.

This is as good a time as any to start mentioning the situation with Neptune in late Aquarius, which will start affecting us all too soon. In the new moon chart, Neptune is in a tight knot with Chiron and Juno. Come late May, Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron will all be clustered at 26 degrees of Aquarius; these 3 planets play tag the rest of the year. Further, Uranus is coming to a semisextile with Neptune on Jun 10, their first aspect since their tumultuous conjunctions back in 1993. And for good measure, on Apr 11 Neptune returns to the position in the sky (25Aq52) where it was when it was first discovered back in 1846, the first "Neptune return" for humanity that we've ever experienced. Despite the fact that Neptune is awfully quiet today, it's going to be a major story for the next year or so. I suspect we are going to learn more about this mystical planet and how it works its magic through our own unconscious minds than we even dreamed possible. I plan on being pleasantly amazed. Listen to the wind -- magic is in the air!

Jupiter is octile Pluto on the 27th. This is a quick, single pass aspect, part of a larger octile fan configuration with the Sun, Mercury and Venus. Generally speaking, single pass aspects, even among slow moving planets, never hang around long enough to create huge ripples in our lives. By the time they start building up a head of steam, they're already falling apart. This octile is similarly short lived, but it seems to deliver its punch quite effectively, due to the connection with the Sun (ego identity), Mercury (the thinking mind) and Venus (feelings and intuitions). It affects us where we live. Octiles are stress aspects -- life is not working out particularly smoothly and it feels rather unpleasant. Pluto seems to be undermining and redefining Jupiter for us, our sense of abundance and well-being, as well as our sense of community and connectedness to the world around us. We've been lost lately, placing our trust and support in possessions, big bank accounts and stuff that doesn't really reflect who we are. On the flip side, we're more isolated and separate than ever before. That's one interpretation of Jupiter, but when times get tough, it's not a very satisfying one. Yes, Jupiter is a big Rich Uncle for us, showering us with goodies when times are good, but he's so much more than just the cosmic Santa Claus. More importantly, he's also the connections we have with others, the support we receive that is intangible. If you're going to hunker down in your foxhole, it's much more fun if you have a friend to share it with. We need to get our heads on straight and look out for each other a bit more. It may not be the lifestyle you've grown accustomed to, but it has its own rewards. We'll get through...

Two days after the Mercury direct station on Feb 1, the hard drive on my computer failed, incapacitating my computer (and my business) for nearly two weeks. At least it waited until I got the February newsletter out the door, though it left me in the lurch in my astrology class the next day. I'm still trying to catch up...