“ Teach me your mood, oh patient stars!
Who climb each night the ancient sky…”(i)
The lunar cycle: a template for life’s unfolding…
I grew up on a small, windswept island off the West Coast of Scotland, where environmental pollution was negligible; the night skies were wonderfully, deeply dark. Dazzlingly dark – especially on cold, clear winter nights. Becoming utterly fascinated by the heavens above me, I was gradually able to discern some of the patterns made by the stars, learning to spot even Saturn at certain times of the year.
However, what I especially loved was the comfortingly predictable rhythm of the Moon’s monthly traverse across the night sky. I waited eagerly to see – intermittently because of our frequently stormy and cloudy weather! – the fragile silvery sliver of the waning crescent. Then darkness. And a couple of days later – again, if I was lucky and the skies were clear – the welcome appearance of the fresh, new waxing crescent Moon.
That was outdoors. Indoors, things were uncomfortably unpredictable to say the least as I slowly emerged from childhood, gradually gaining agency culminating in an early departure from home in my late teens. The one steady source of comfort as I moved towards that goal was a picture: the picture you see here. I knew nothing whatever about it apart from its title: ‘Reaching for the Moon’. No-one in the house seemed to know where it had come from…only many years later thanks to google did I find out its author and provenance (ii)
That stylised Art Deco image inspired me to reach in my teens toward the waxing crescent of my slowly forming future life…only many years later on receiving a hand-drawn horoscope from the Faculty of Astrological Studies’ cartographer as part of their Certificate course in the early 1980s did I discover my birth had occurred on a Sun/Moon conjunction in Leo in the twelfth house – just a few hours before the New Moon. No wonder the soli/lunar cycle had fascinated me in my childhood; cycles have increasingly continued to do so ever since.
Whether the cycle is huge, like the five hundred year Neptune/ Pluto one, or small, like that of the monthly Sun/Moon, the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new. Those stages describe developmental processes from gnats to galaxies; we can thus apply the basic template of what we see enacted above us in the heavens every month to the ebb and flow everything, including cultural phases and the rise and fall of whole civilisations…
In mid-life, during one single decade I had to negotiate a passage through the endings of not one, or two, or three but four major cycles amplified by a long Uranus then Neptune transit opposing my twelfth house planets. This necessitated a lengthy period of contemplative retreat and slow re-emergence, which was both personally purging and a wonderfully close-up qualitative research opportunity (you have to look on the bright side!). Although aspects of this ten-year period were pretty devastating, I emerged with both deepened insight into – and fascination with – the waning and waxing crescent phases of cycles great and small, personal and collective.
The times we are currently living through are devastatingly disruptive and at the moment we have no real idea how – or who – we are going to be when we eventually emerge. It struck me recently that the very last 20 year Jupiter/Saturn cycle in the Earth element could roughly be mapped onto the waning crescent of that 200 year period; and the cycle’s first twenty-year journey through the subsequent Air era could be thought of as the waxing crescent of a very different time unfolding.
Three major cycles’ endings…
At times symbolism seems to step down a level, manifesting in a very literal way in the world we ordinary mortals inhabit. I experienced such a moment of symbol becoming strikingly ‘real’ in the week following Saturn’s first entry into airy Aquarius on Sunday 22nd March 2020, Mother’s Day in the UK. This was also the day the UK government declared that we were in lockdown owing to the threat posed by the covid 19 airborne pandemic, thereby joining much of the rest of Europe and parts of North America, much of Asia having got there weeks before us.
A few days later, it seemed as though the human community had literally taken to Air en masse – via Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook etc – a powerful, immediate, adaptive response to the locked-down world.
Along with many of my astrological colleagues, especially those of us who have been ‘tuning in’ to the larger planetary cycles which span aeons of time, I have been observing the turmoil and difficulty of the very ending of the 1982-2020 Saturn/Pluto cycle and its manifestations in the reality of life on Earth with grim fascination.
I’ve also been very aware that the long sojourn of the 20-years long Jupiter/Saturn cycles through the Earth element, which began in 1802, will terminate with a dramatic symbolic flourish following its full entry into Air, meeting Jupiter at 0 Aquarius on 21st December 2020 – the Winter Solstice, no less…
Thus we are not only at the end of the Jupiter/Saturn cycle begun in Taurus in the year 2000, but the end of a whole era of that cycle’s moving through the Earth element. This shift, ‘…the transition of the conjunction from one element to another – the ‘Mutation Conjunction’ – has always been considered to be of particular importance marking a major shift in emphasis and orientation in the world…’ (iii)
This ‘triple whammy’ of Moondark in 2019 and 2020, involving the very ending of no less than three major cycles of 200, 33-38 and 20 years respectively, therefore points to those years as being especially symbolically significant.
We have increasingly been handing over the conduct of our ‘civilisation’, for good and ill (the usual inextricable twins) to the airy Internet in recent times, gaining pace from the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction’s first brief, 20-years appearance in the Air element, in Libra, in 1980/81: creating an increasingly interconnected cyber-world. However, the last week of March 2020 powerfully brought home to me the literal reality of the symbolism I’d been observing: at the end of the waning crescent phase of the Jupiter/Saturn cycles travelling through Earth, the Air era truly is almost upon us.
We are seeing the seeds of the next 200 years beginning to push through the darkness of the future. As the Earth era loses power and agency in its waning crescent, a new world order is gradually emerging…
Deaths – and Entrances
It feels as though we humans – tiny chips of the huge prevailing energies of turbulence and change – are living
“On almost the incendiary eve
Of deaths and entrances” (iv)
as Dylan Thomas so powerfully put it. It is a very ancient human tendency, when knowing that a stage of life has come to an inexorable end, to look back to wherever the beginning might have been in trying to come to terms – and in starting to contemplate the largely unknown future.
That has very much been my recent experience. My husband Ian was felled by a stroke on the 12th January 2020, three hours after the opening crescent phase of the new Saturn/Pluto cycle in Capricorn: a brutal opening for me to a new way of life. One of my ways of dealing with his loss has been to go back, back to just before the opening 1982 Saturn/Pluto cycle in Libra, when we were married nearly forty years ago, to reflect on what that precious time may have meant both in my life and his – and where I go from here.
However, having been born with (far too many!) Leo planets in the twelfth house, it has always been my way to seek creative perspective on whatever happens to me, mine and the wider world by setting personal dramas if possible in the context of a bigger picture.
Thus, as we all sit in 2020 – penned in and fearful as a deadly airborne virus takes down not only individuals, over half a million as I write in July 2020, but also much of the economic and social structures upon which the Earth era rests – I have been very strongly drawn to reflecting on another ending and beginning on the very large scale: the closing crescent phase of the Jupiter/Saturn cycles through the element of Fire in 1603 which ended with the conjunction’s first meeting in Earth in 1802.
What a turbulent ending and beginning that was! The waning crescent of the Fire era hosted not one, but two major Western revolutions: the American Revolution between 1775 and 1783, and the French Revolution from 1789 to 1799. These occurred against the backdrop of the combined forces of the accelerating Industrial Revolution and the Scientific Revolution, which really got under weigh from the Jupiter/Saturn cycle’s shift into Earth in 1802 and the rise of the materialist era thereafter – rooted firmly in exploitation of the resources of Planet Earth.
It needs only a sketchy knowledge of the historical timeline, looking back, to realise that those revolutionary upheavals at the waning crescent of the old Fire era were largely responsible for the rise and pan-global impact of Western civilisation as the new Earth era took shape.
One of the fascinating seeds of the coming Air era emerging in the waning crescent phase of our current Earth era, has been the undoubted rise and expanding influence of the East, spearheaded by the expansionist, exponential rise in worldly power and influence of China whose dominance and global influence via sophisticated technologies has given us at least some idea of what shape the Air era will take. A manifestation of the negative dimensions of this Airy shift has been the rise of cyber-warfare in recent years…
Powerful new Earth-based technologies, eg Big Oil, arising in the materialist era have provided lifestyles and opportunities undreamed of by our ancestors – in the wealthier parts of the world. But, uncoupled from any agreed collective sense of responsibility towards our mother planet, they have also as the Earth era draws to a close, placed her very survival under threat. Clearly, as the opening crescent of the new Air era takes form, we will need urgently to develop technologies which no longer depend upon sawing off the branch on which we are all sitting…
From the collective to the personal – Mary Shelley, prophet…and Greta Thunberg, climate activist
Some individuals have a more powerful impact than others on the way history and culture take shape. As Greta Thunberg herself neatly put it in her first book’s title: ‘No One is Too Small to Make a Difference’(v). As my reflections on the waning crescent phases of both the 1603-1802 Fire era and the 1802-2020 Earth era continued, the impact of two very young women – Mary Shelley and Greta Thunberg – struck me forcefully as individuals whose lives and work bracket the beginning and ending of the Earth era, as well as setting the tone for our entry into Air.
Mary Godwin Shelley was born on 30th August 1797. Daughter of the famous philosopher and writer William Godwin and the early feminist writer Mary Wollestonecraft who died 10 days after her birth, she made her entrance in the turbulent final years of the dying Fire era, its waning crescent.
Little did her parents know that their child, at the time of her first Nodal Return whilst only nineteen years old, in the waxing crescent phase and the first twenty-year Jupiter/Saturn cycle of the new materialist Earth era, would write an enduringly famous book which has created a modern myth. “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” (published 1.1.1818), issued a prescient warning of the grim results which might well follow from scientific endeavour being pursued without compassion or due regard for ethics or morality. As Emily Sunstein, in her wonderful biography of Mary Shelley, put it:
“Mary Shelley … will be best remembered for her perception in ‘Frankenstein’ … that the Promethean drive is at the heart of human progress and yet a bringer of new
ills if not focused on ethical means and ends …”(v)
Here comes Greta
At the end of the waning crescent of the Earth era, and the outset of the final Jupiter/Saturn cycle in Earth, enter another globally significant young woman, her birth taking place at an earlier stage of an era’s end than Mary Shelley’s: her preoccupation being the dangerously damaged state of the Earth, our mother.
I find it fascinating, if chilling, that the warning issued by Mary Shelley via ‘Frankenstein’ can be seen clearly now to have been so prophetic. That materialist era’s wanton disregard for the health and wellbeing of our world and all its creatures, largely in the name of profit, is reaping its consequences in terms of planetary and climate upheaval which now threatens our very survival.
None of us had heard of a young Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, born on 3rd January 2003, until she began her solo protest against climate change in August 2018 at the age of fifteen. By the end of 2019, she had been declared Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”. Here are the bare bones of her story, in the words of their 23/30 December 2019 issue:
“…Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: “School Strike for Climate.” In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history. Her image has been celebrated in murals and Halloween costumes, and her name has been attached to everything from bike shares to beetles. Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc…” (vi)
We do not know as yet what Thunberg will do as we all step over a powerful threshold into the opening crescent of the new Air era on 21st December 2020. She has already published two books: one of her speeches, the other a memoir featuring her family. What we do know is that her challenges, issued at the closing crescent of the 1802-2020 Earth era, have birthed the Extinction Rebellion movement, thereby setting the agenda for one of the defining themes of the opening Air era – and of the Jupiter/Saturn cycle at 0 Aquarius with which it begins – ie we can no longer ignore the grim reality that our planet is under threat to its very survival.
It would seem likely, therefore, that the waxing crescent of the Air era will involve the development of new, community-based politics which are a radical departure from the old, broken, top-down model. It will also need to evolve technologies which facilitate the conserving of our planet and its abundant but limited natural resources, and find a way of doing this relatively quickly. Youthful leaders are already arising from the Millennial generation. I imagine that Greta Thunberg will be one of them.
Mary’s and Greta’s horoscopes
Surely, I thought, there must be significant connections between their birth charts? Indeed there are. There is much upon which to reflect with those horoscopes, both individually and in conjunction. I’m confining myself, however, to commenting on the three sets of links which struck me as most significant. I’m sure readers will find more…we do not as yet have a birth time for Greta. But the Sunrise chart I have used is still very descriptive.
Mary’s painful first house Saturn rising in Cancer, signifying her maternal loss and the alienated Monster in ‘Frankenstein’, abandoned by his Creator, friendless, and alone, opposes Greta’s powerful Sun/Chiron conjunction. This signifies her very extreme, wounded response to the pain of our planet which set her off on her protest, and may also point to her autism and other personal wounds; the classic ‘wounded healer’ significator. One can see in this linking the powerful sensitivity to woundedness in them both which fuelled Mary’s writing and Greta’s campaigning.
Greta has an exact first house conjunction at 26 Aquarius between rebellious, political, potentially fanatical Uranus and Pallas, the asteroid signifying warfare, wisdom, skill, strategy and commitment to fairness and justice. This falls closely conjunct Mary’s 27 Aquarius MC, conjunct Pluto at 1 Pisces. I was stunned to find that Mary’s progressed Moon is crossing this combination, at 26.5 Aquarius, at the Winter Solstice 2020. This link between Mary and Greta as rebels, innovators and visionaries hardly needs explanation.
I’ve saved the most significant connections till last. Mary Shelley’s North Node at 19 Gemini in the mediumistic twelfth house, opposite the South Node at 19 Sagittarius in the sixth, squares her Sun/Venus, Sun/Mercury, and Uranus/Mercury midpoints in Virgo, making a powerful T’Square. This potent combination speaks of a visionary writer whose task, set by the North Node’s position, was to send out a futuristic, ground-breaking challenge and warning which was to echo down the ages…
Her first Nodal Return with its attendant eclipses triggering off this pattern, co-incided with the birthing and publication of ‘Frankenstein’.
Greta’s Nodes are in the same pair of signs, at 8 degrees Gemini/Sagittarius. Her Pluto at 18 Sagittarius sits exactly on Mary’s South Node. What a fated connection! And here’s the knock-out Nodal link which took my breath away when I saw it. Not only is the North Node in airy Gemini, midwifing the shift from the Earth to the Air era on the winter solstice 2020: the Nodal Axis then is at 19 degrees Gemini/Sagittarius: exactly conjunct Mary Shelley’s Nodal T’Square – and Greta Thunberg’s Pluto. Co-incidence – or Fate?
At the Winter Solstice of 2020, as we make our dramatic transition into the new Air era, transiting Neptune having turned direct at the end of November 2020, will be at 18 degrees Pisces, squaring the transiting Nodes at Gemini/Sagittarius, Mary Shelley’s Nodes and Greta Thunberg’s Pluto.
From all those stunning overlaps, it certainly looks as though Greta Thunberg one way or another, is set to continue where Mary Shelley left off as we step into our Airy future.
Voices of the Great Mother…
There was a stand-out moment for me last spring 2019, when the South Node met Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn; at that time the very Capricornian Greta Thunberg strode onto the world stage, forcefully confronting us all – and our political leaders in particular – with the dangerous state of our mother planet and challenging us to do something about it.
Listening to this slight sixteen year old girl speaking so passionately, articulately and forcefully, I had one of those moments where one gets a shiver down the back and becomes tearful – accompanied by an eerie sense of listening to the voice of the Great Mother calling to us through the voice of a woman barely out of childhood.
Thinking about this, and Greta’s evocation for me of the voice of the Great Mother, brought to mind an article I had written featuring Mary Shelley published in TMA way back in 2001 at the opening crescent of the final Jupiter/Saturn cycle through Earth, called ‘Mary, Dolly, and Andi: O Brave New World?’
In this article, I wrote about the exact links between Mary Shelley’s Placidus ninth house cusp at 5 43 Aquarius; the February 1997 Jupiter/Uranus conjunction at 5-6 Aquarius and the public announcement of Dolly the Sheep at that time; followed in January 2001 by the birth of rhesus macaque monkey Andi, the world’s first genetically modified primate, just when Neptune at 5-6 Aquarius went over Mary’s ninth house cusp. I wrote the following:
‘This is a stunning piece of synchronicity. How do we interpret it? The long traverse of Neptune through Mary’s Aquarian ninth house which has now begun, could be seen as a metaphor for the slow,inexorable consequences of what she foresaw seeping into every facet of human life, radically altering it forever.
An image arises of Mary Shelley, standing alone on the shoreline of her imagination and her dreams, calling out a message to the far future like the Oracle in ancient times…’
As the human community prepares to step into the challenge, terror and exhilaration of a largely unknown future, we have already been provided with significant clues regarding the shape of what lies ahead for its waxing Air crescent – and what we must do if we are to survive for the next two hundred years.
Has the Great Mother indeed spoken to us? And are we listening?
Mary Shelley, August 30, 1797, London, 11:20 p.m. L.T.
Source: father William Godwin’s journal – he was present at
Greta Thunberg, January 3 2003, Stockholm, Sweden
Sunrise 8:51 am CET – no known birth time
- from… ‘Fragments on Nature and Life’… p 340… by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
- 1933, by Edward Mason Eggleston https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Mason_Eggleston
(iii) Baigent, Campion and Harvey in “Mundane Astrology” (publ. 1984, 1992,1995), p185, who also describe the conjunction as ‘…the ground base of human development which marks the interaction between perception of ideas, potentialities (Jupiter) and their manifestation in the concrete world.’( Saturn) (p184)
(iv) from v3, Dylan Thomas’ poetry collection Deaths and Entrances (1946)
(v) Emily Sunstein, Mary Shelley, p. 403, quoted in Dreaming Frankenstein – The Creation of a Modern Myth by Anne Whitaker, published in TMA April – May 2016
(vii) ‘Mary, Dolly, and Andi: O Brave New World?’ by Anne Whitaker, published in TMA June-July 2001
(An edited version of this post first appeared in the December 2020/January 2021 Issue of The Mountain Astrologer magazine)
3500 words ©Anne Whitaker 2021