It’s all identity politics’ fault. Trying to come up with a Big Picture context for this 21st century phenomenon has led me all the way to contemplating the so-called Aquarian Age, such a cultural cliche by now that I usually prefer to let the ageing braincell focus on fresher topics. However, bear with me. I think I’ve got to something which might intrigue you.
But first, a definition of identity politics by Nicholas Campion in his book Astrology, History and Apocalypse: such politics involve ‘groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social or cultural identity [who] tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.’
Does this suggest the shadow side of the Leo theme to anyone? It certainly does to me.
Given that polarity, i.e. the interplay of opposites, is a fundamental generator of the life force (think egg, sperm and first division of fertilised egg here), this by astro-logic brings us to Aquarius, Leo’s opposite. Aquarius is fundamentally concerned with the group. As the Aquarian and English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748- 1832) so famously stated of the utilitarian principle in A Fragment on Government:
‘It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong’.
To be clear: I do not subscribe to the touchy-feely idea that the Aquarian Age, if it exists at all, is bringing or will bring an era of universal brotherly love (or siblinghood of person if you prefer). The evidence from our contemporary world would suggest otherwise. Moreover, Nicholas Campion has collected around 100 dates for the supposed commencement of the Age of Aquarius from around 1260 AD to around 2300 AD.
However, I am intrigued by Carl Jung’s notion, set forth in his essay ‘The Sign of the Fish’ (from Aion, Volume 9, Part 2 of Jung’s Collected Works ) that when world ages change, i.e., when the first point of Aries can be seen against the backdrop of e.g., the constellation of Aquarius, having shifted backwards from its 2000 or so years’ traverse of the previous constellation of Pisces – roughly the era of Christianity – we begin to perceive/project the Divine differently.
We have been going through an enormous technological revolution in recent decades as science makes huge strides. Mapping the human genome, expanding our view of the vast universe we inhabit via wonderful Hubble then James Webb telescope images, and linking much of the human population via the Internet and mobile phone technology are but a few examples. You could even argue that a new religion is arising: Scientism, which holds that only the 5% of the cosmos which we can perceive through our senses or test out through the procedures of reductionism, is worth considering.
It is my view that, as societies become increasingly secular and materialistic throughout the world, we are beginning to project the Divine onto science and technology … even to the extent in some quarters that the prolonging of human life indefinitely into some kind of techno-immortality is perceived as eventually being possible. Pushing the boundaries of science forward just because it can be done conjures the spectres of Dr Frankenstein and his monster, immortalised in Mary Shelley’s modern myth, Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus. It also speaks strongly of the shadow side of the Aquarian theme which doesn’t mind how many individual lives it disrupts or destroys in the name of revolutionary change.
Hence its Leo shadow opposite arising, in the shape of identity politics as defined at the start of this column.
Reflecting on the stubbornly fixed positions which have increasingly been taken up in recent times – as expressed in political discourse, religious conflicts and environmental activism – has evoked for me the fixed cross in the horoscope’s astrological symbolism (shown below): this comprises the four angles upon which every chart hangs: Ascendant (AS), Imum Coeli (IC), Descendant (DS) and Medium Coeli (MC or Midheaven). Since the Ascendant-Descendant horizontal axis speaks of the here and now of our individual and collective lives, how about placing Aquarius on the AS with Leo opposite on the DS? Thus, we see the march of technological progress for the supposed benefit of us all (Aquarius) , not presently getting along too well with individual identities (Leo) in various forms.
The IC-MC axis speaks of roots (IC) from which our future direction (MC) arises. The Taurus IC is the ground on which we stand, our Mother Earth. Scorpio on the MC opposite speaks of the deep crisis which our home planet is facing. If humanity is to survive into the future, we need to develop radically different ways of living. The old materialist order is currently dying – the evidence is everywhere. The question is, what will replace it?
I have found contemplating this metaphor of the astrological fixed cross, which condenses the polarised conflicts of our current era into four fundamental themes, powerfully illuminating.
We need to find a way forward: from our present stubbornly fixed shadow positions, to a situation where respect both for the dignity of individual rights and for the greatest good of the greatest number is harnessed and directed towards respect and care for our Mother planet. Perhaps the consequences of the harsh pressure on all our institutions and structures via the long 2008-2024 transit of Pluto through Capricorn will force us in the direction we need to go when Pluto settles into the revolutionary sign of Aquarius from November 2024.
I certainly hope so…
This is an edited version of an essay which first appeared in my The Astro-View from Scotland column in Dell Horoscope Magazine (2019), and most recently on pp 325-8 of “Postcards to the Future”, my collection of 60 essays, articles , columns and research from 1995-2021.
For the UK, an era ended on the 8th of September 2022 with the death of Queen Elizabeth the Second, an event which reverberated around the world. Regardless of one’s politics, the death of a monarch has archetypal power: many people with no particular regard for the UK royal family – including this writer – were surprised at the impact this event had.
However, the Queen’s passing at this especially turbulent time not just in the UK’s history but in the world at large has focused my reflections on the particular significance of the fractious and divisive Saturn/Uranus lens through which we humans seem to have been substantially viewing then acting out our collective social and individual lives from the spring of 2020 when Saturn first entered Aquarius, and are likely to continue to do so until Saturn enters Pisces in the spring of 2023. With Saturn gradually coming into orb of a wide sextile to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Taurus in early 2024, let’s hope things then cool down somewhat…
There is, of course, a much bigger symbolic backdrop to this particular Saturn/Uranus square. Being especially interested in observing how the larger planetary cycles correlate with changing patterns of human collective behaviour, I have already written in some depth about the significance of the big shift from an Earth era defined by the 20-year Jupiter/Saturn cycles traversing the Earth element from 1803, to an Air era beginning with the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 0 Aquarius on the Winter Solstice of 2020, then running for around two hundred years. (i)
Pluto will emphasise this momentous era shift by first entering Aquarius in the spring of 2023, following on his long sojourn in Capricorn from the spring of 2008 which kicked off with a devastating world banking crisis. Also – in 2025 Neptune enters Aries, for the first time since the onset of the American civil war in the 1850s, ushering in a Fire/Air period for the next number of years.
So – our lives are not likely to settle down any time soon…
Ranging from the climate wars (Extinction Rebellion, anyone?) to increasingly rage-filled trans and woke movements on both sides of the Atlantic, to land-grab war in Europe with attendant disruption to food and energy supplies worldwide, to a bitterly contested and hugely divisive election result in the USA, to revelations of an increasingly persecuted Uighur minority in China, my impression – having lived through quite a few Saturn/Uranus aspects by now! – is that divisions and polarisations arising from the period of the current square, have been more black-and-white, intolerant and brutal than in previous Saturn /Uranus periods.
Why should this be? Having thought about the matter in the context of other large-scale disruptive changes also taking place has brought me to what I think is an explanation, symbolically speaking.
Putting things simply: Saturn rules Capricorn, the last sign of the 1803-2020 Earth era to be traversed first by the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, then by Pluto, lord of the Underworld. Symbolically speaking, with the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction then Pluto moving into Aquarius, the rule of planetary old god Saturn is being replaced by that of planetary new god Uranus. However, to add another layer of complexity and conflict, Aquarius’ old ruler is Saturn, new ruler is Uranus – and Pluto’s shift from Capricorn to Aquarius will not be completed until 19th November 2024: a mere two weeks after the next USA Election takes place on 5th November 2024. What stunning timing…
Astrologers man their symbolic barricades over this one: the Trads insisting on Saturn as co-ruler of Capricorn and Aquarius, the Mods favouring Uranus alone. Take your pick…whichever you favour, there is an especially bitter symbolic battle of the giants taking place worldwide as we shift from one long Era to another, a battle at every level: environmental, political, national, cultural, personal.
So – what comes next?
Much speculation regarding the shape of things to come has been going on for some time now, set to intensify as we await Pluto’s traverse through Aquarius from the spring of 2023 to early 2044, giving a heavy symbolic weighting to that sign for a long time to come.
Aquarius is the sign of the human collective, symbolising an energy driven to pursuing and promoting ideals regarding how we should be moving forward in order to create a fairer, more equal world. It is a highly rational, technology and future-oriented, “Let’s get together to make the world a better place”, kind of energy.
As such, we should see some major developments at all levels as power (Pluto) shifts towards The People, away from plutocrats, oligarchs, and from politics rooted in gaining material power and control through exploitation of planet Earth’s diminishing resources, towards (in theory!!) more equal world-wide sharing of power derived from an Air-based technologically expedited economic system. Also, the development of wind and solar energy is likely to accelerate with Neptune’s shift into Aries from 2025 onwards.
Pluto’s last sojourn through Aquarius (1778–1798) brought with it sweeping changes in social order and public rights, including: the ratification of the American constitution following the USA’s breaking away from Britain’s colonial control, the rise and expansion of the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the publishing of ‘The Vindication of the Rights of Women’ by Mary Wollestonecraft.
None of this was accomplished without The People or individuals in one way or another rising up against prevailing regimes, rules, or ideas perceived as being outdated and oppressive. So we can expect cultural, social, political and environmental upheaval to gain momentum as Pluto shifts into Aquarius and the Capricornian penchant for collective coercive control socially, politically and environmentally is severely challenged. We are very much seeing this right now, with recent uprisings in Iran triggered by the death of a young woman in the custody of the so-called Morality Police still ongoing, and widespread public protests triggered by three years of stringent covid restrictions right across China. These protests are largely being spearheaded by the young…
What we really need in tomorrow’s Aquarian world, though, is a radical change of attitude. Essentially, as one astrologer I was reading recently so succinctly put it, it is ‘…time for us to figure out what it means to be human and how to live together on this planet without fighting over everything…’ (ii)
A tall order indeed…
In our own small country the UK, still insisting on seeing itself as a major world player, we can certainly expect People Power to exert itself more forcefully as we move towards next spring. Our new Tory Chancellor is reportedly considering removing the cap on bankers’ bonuses imposed by the European Union following the greed-fuelled virtual collapse of the world banking system in 2008. (BBC news 15.9.22) This will not go down well – to say the least! – with those sectors of our population who have to choose between heating and eating this coming winter.
UPDATE: the new Chancellor and his Prime Minister lasted less than six weeks in power, having created mayhem on the world financial markets and worsening the already serious cost of living crisis in the UK with their disastrous budget. The incoming Prime Minister Sunak and his Chancellor Hunt have acted swiftly to abandon those policies and restore a measure of stability – for now…
Also, our late Queen, mourned and well respected by much of the UK’s population, especially in Scotland where she died, having been laid to rest with due pomp and ceremony, huge questions will surely come to the fore regarding the future of the monarchy in our increasingly strained United Kingdom.
What, then, of the wider picture, especially regarding Russian President Putin’s increasingly disastrous-looking attempt to land-grab and control Ukraine, currently looking like the feistiest, bravest nation on the planet?
Here are the forthright words of that redoubtable Australian astrologer, Jessica Adams, from a post on her website on 13/3/2022, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine:
‘…And yet, you don’t need Putin’s birth chart, actually, to see which way the wind is blowing, though. Pluto (power) in Capricorn (the man at the top) is finished on March 24th, 2023. This is the end of an era when plutocrats (which Pluto represents in astrology) who are the top goats on the mountain (Capricorn) fall off – as the mountain itself collapses…’ (iii)
‘The old order changeth…’ (iv)
Fasten your seat belts, people. It’s going to be some ride!
This is an edited version of my essay“The old order changeth, yielding place to new…” published in the UK’s Astrological Journal November/December 2022, soon to be re-published in The Federation of Australian Astrologers Journal under the same title, with permission…
(i) See the P.S Windows to the Future section of my recent collection “Postcards to the Future”(August 2021), including ‘Waning and waxing crescents: windows to the future’ (first published in The Mountain Astrologer Dec 2020/Jan 2021)pp 365-380
Ever since I began to decipher my own birth chart in the 1980s, discovering that a strange glyph looking like a pair of headphones was exactly conjunct my 28 Taurus Midheaven, the Moon’s Nodal Axis and its unfolding path through the heavens has continued to fascinate me….here, in my new mini research study featuring the recent traverse of the Moon’s Nodes and Eclipses traversing Gemini/Sagittarius during the period of 2020-2022, I tell the story of four people’s changing lives. Including my own…to read all about it, clickHERE
Pluto enters Aquarius in March 2023 for the first time since his 1778–1798 soujourn brought with it sweeping changes in social order and individual freedoms, including: the ratification of the American constitution, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, the Enlightenment, the publishing of The Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollestonecroft…
Along with other astrologers whose main interest is in the relationship between the larger planetary cycles and world affairs, I’ve been watching with fascination as people power asserts itself in the general direction of greater democratic freedoms and increasing rejection of oppressive rulers. I’ve written about this in more detail recently here (i)
There is a word which beautifully describes – at both a collective and a personal level – this disturbing but highly creative state of emerging from the past, being highly disrupted in the present, reaching out to an uncertain future. That word is LIMINAL.
Here are my thoughts on both the micro and macro dimensions of that wonderfully descriptive word, starting (of course – I used to be an English teacher, after all…) with a definition. Written as my ninth The Astro-View from Scotland column for that wonderful USA magazine Dell Horoscope, sadly no longer with us, it is still highly relevant. I hope you enjoy my musings: feel free to add your own as a comment should you feel inspired to do so!
‘…I always seem to have a favourite word. Maybe that’s one of the hallmarks of being a writer. It’s probably tiresome for other people when I cram it into conversations. By now, I’m sure you are quite desperate to know what the damn word is this time. Ok. It’s ‘liminal’. From the Latin ‘limen’ meaning ‘threshold’, it refers to that stage in life when one is hovering…departing from what is in the past: not quite at home here in the present: not quite arrived there, in the future…it’s an uncomfortable, fluid state to be in, but highly creative and full of potential.
How about this contemporary usage, definition from Wikipedia: ‘…More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change… During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt…’ I don’t know about you, but this to me sounds just like where we are collectively on planet Earth at present. Let’s hope in the long run – which we baby-boomers likely won’t live to see – we end up with something better than the mess we have now.
‘As above, so below’ : no contemporary astrologers have come up with a pithier definition of the essence of our art than did fabled Ancient Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus in the equally fabled Emerald Tablet. Hermes was conceived as apparently hovering between the divine and human worlds. Down here in that all-too-human world, thinking about Hermes in relation to the world ‘liminal’ is providing me with some inspiration; much needed in my case, as I hover uncomfortably and uncertainly between the end of one 12 year Jupiter cycle, and the beginning of a new one.
Jupiter cycles have always been a big deal for me, since third house Jupiter at 19 degrees 07 Scorpio squares all six of my Leo 11th and 12th house planets. I wrote about the dubious but transformative delights of this astro-lineup in my very first column for Dell.
This idea of hovering between the divine and human worlds might be of some comfort and inspiration also to those of you readers who are ending one cycle at present, without being able to see how the energy of the next one is going to form. Standing in this liminal place, one cannot bully, cajole or entreat the new order to reveal itself. There is divine time, and there is human time.
This may sound pretty mystical, but my feeling – from both personal and professional experience– is that the deeper wisdom of our soul knows the direction in which we need to proceed in order to become all we can be, and how long it may take to get there. The astrological cycles can put us in touch with that spark of divinity within each of us, offering profound insights into what a waning cycle has been about, and what the newly-forming one might bring. They also teach us that‘… there is… a time to every purpose under the heaven…’ (i).
Our egos, located in human, ordinary time, can often rail against this when we don’t like what we see of the shape of things to come, or how long a particular transitional period is going to take. Try consulting your ephemeris, as I did at the end of 1998, to realise that I was about to have a series of sixth house Neptune oppositions to twelfth house planets lasting from 1999 until 2012, as well as the ending/beginning of five major cycles. It was some immersion, I can tell you. Did my ego rail against it? You bet. I had to quit my career in 2002, and did not begin to surface, via writing on the Web at first, until 2008, not returning to consulting and teaching until 2012.
But guess what? I now look back on that period, when I felt liminal approximately twenty-four hours a day for years, as the most soul-enriching of my entire life. One of the many lessons I took from that period was to pay close attention especially to the feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction and uncertainty which herald the end of, for example, the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn which we all share. Many of us recall – or are experiencing now! – the turbulence and pain of the end of our twenties, from which most of us emerged or will emerge by around the age of thirty-three with a much clearer idea of who we are, and most importantly, who we are not.
Those difficult feelings and experiences occurring in the twelfth house phase of any major cycle (where we are now, collectively, as Pluto traverses the final degrees of Capricorn…) are part of the dissolution of the old order of that part of our lives. An ending must take place– so that new energy may arise, taking us forward to the next stage of our unfolding.
Astrology’s great gift is to show us that we are not random butterflies pinned to the board of Fate. We each have our small, meaningful strand to weave into life’s vast tapestry. In the end, it was consent to my tough and frightening period of liminality, patient waiting, the love and support I was fortunate to have, and trust in the wisdom of the Unseen that got me through. So, my liminal fellow travellers, take heart. The old order may be waning, but something fresh and new is surely arising…’
“The astro-view from Scotland” was the bi-monthly column I wrote for Dell Horoscope Magazine from January/February 2017 until the last issue of Dell in March/April 2020. This ninth column first appeared in the May/June 2018 issue.
As UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously quipped during the UK’s sterling crisis in 1964: “A week is a long time in politics.”
It feels like a very long time already since much of the UK – with, supposedly, around half the world’s population – watched Queen Elizabeth ii’s state funeral, signifying the end of an Era as the longest reign in British history came to an end. But, as I write, it is less than a week.
And what a week – indeed, what a month it has been since Tuesday 16 August 2022 when US President Joe Biden signed into law the Democrat’s hard-fought healthcare, climate and tax package the Inflation Reduction Act. The law directs a colossal $369bn toward investing in renewable energy and reducing America’s planet-heating emissions.
“With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost,” Biden said.(i)
To me, this powerful Aquarian statement by the US President aptly signifies the turbulent, changing world era we are going through at present which the larger planetary cycles have been symbolically revealing to us so powerfully as we tiny humans struggle to cope – and try to make some sense of it all. His words are so apt.
Pluto’s Aquarian long march begins…
We will see some major developments at all levels as Pluto completes his 2008-2023/4 traverse of Capricorn and power (Pluto) shifts towards The People, away from crumbling traditional Capricornian institutions, plutocrats, oligarchs, and from politics rooted in gaining material power and control through exploitation of planet Earth’s diminishing resources.
Next spring, Pluto’s long 2023-2044 journey through Aquarius begins. The sign of the human collective, Aquarius symbolises an energy driven to pursuing and promoting ideals regarding how we should be moving forward in order to create a fairer, more equal world. It is a highly rational, technology and future-oriented, “Let’s get together to make the world a better place”, kind of energy.
The Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 0 Aquarius on the Winter Solstice of 2020 (WHO chose that date?!) symbolised the end of that defining conjunction’s long trek from 1803 through the Earth Element, heralding the beginning of a new 200-year Air era, heavily weighted towards Aquarius in its opening stages by Pluto’s imminent entry.
Along with many other astrologers whose primary interest is in the outworking on planet Earth of the larger planetary patterns, I have been fascinated – and at times awestruck – to see how that oft-quoted ancient maxim “As above, so below…” has been playing out especially vividly in recent weeks. As Pluto transits the final degrees of Capricorn, and Saturn-ruled Capricorn/Cancer loses ground to the rising power of Uranus-ruled Aquarius/Leo in this very turbulent time world-wide between changing eras, we have seen those symbolic energies play out ‘on the ground’ so clearly.
Leo/Aquarius as the Air Era rises – dramatic world events
Here are a few highlights, in which the interplay between the Ruler(s) (Leo) and the People (Aquarius) can be seen with the dominant energy of the rising Air era coming to the fore and the ‘old order’ crumbling and collapsing.
In the spring of 2022 Vladimir Putin’s Russian army invaded Ukraine, confidently expecting victory within days. Six months later, the enormity of his misjudgement is becoming increasingly evident as the tide of war turns in Ukraine’s favour owing to the people’s courageous resistance – and solid Western support.
In early July, UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson finally resigned after a growing crescendo of scandal and popular dissatisfaction leading to mass resignations from his government forced him out. Then we had the historic USA climate bill in mid-August, already mentioned. Currently, too, the net of the USA’s legal system appears to be tightening around Trump and his family.
Also, this week in Iran, women have been at the forefront of escalating protests across the country – especially by young people – against the punitive mediaeval rule of male clerics, sparked by the death in custody of a woman detained for breaking hijab laws.
And, most dramatically in the UK on 6 September, Boris Johnson formally demitted office to Queen Elizabeth ii, who welcomed Liz Truss as the new UK prime minister –then died aged 96 two days later, doing her Capricornian duty to the end. The ancient archetype of the death of a monarch has caused powerful ripples through our collective and personal lives, regardless of what politics we espouse.
The Queue – Aquarian herald of the Air era
For me personally, the most moving manifestation of the incoming Leo/Aquarius polarity as the old Cancer/Capricorn era fades out, was observing the UK public’s reaction to our Queen’s death and short lying in state in Edinburgh, followed by the longer lying in state in London. What an enormous flow of The People filed past the Queen’s coffin both in Scotland and in England, accompanied by thousands of citizens from all areas of the UK as well as much further afield.
It was astounding that hundreds of thousands of people were prepared to wait all night in a queue which ultimately wove its way through the streets of London for 4-5 miles in the days before Elizabeth’s state funeral on Monday 20th September: Aquarius – the People – came to pay their last respects to Leo – the Monarch.
Striking, too, was the Aquarian ‘feel’ to the famous Queue. Many people expressed the view that being in The Queue was an event in itself. New friendships were made, people shared food and drink, generally supporting and entertaining one another during the very long wait. Wouldn’t it be great to think of that community spirit growing stronger as Pluto enters Aquarius and hopefully turbo-powers our interconnectedness?
Now, we have to wait and see what next Spring brings – but strong clues re the possible shape of the new era are already evident, as discussed in this article. People power is on the rise. Let’s hope that the enormous changes ahead, eventually, bring more light than shadow…
In a stimulating wander this morning round our thoughts on the current turbulent state of a world in transition, my colleague Christina Rodenbeck of The Oxford Astrologer and I were immersed in reflecting on the upcoming shift of Pluto into Aquarius in 2023/4.
Suddenly I remembered I had written about this momentous astro-event in a 2017 post: my words seem highly relevant now, beginning with a description of The European Extremely Large Telescope…:
“…It will …perform ”stellar archaeology” in nearby galaxies, as well as make fundamental contributions to cosmology by measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies and probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy. On top of this astronomers are also planning for the unexpected — new and unforeseeable questions will surely arise(my emphases) from the new discoveries made with the ELT. The ELT may, eventually, revolutionise our perception of the Universe, much as Galileo’s telescope did, 400 years ago…’ (1)…
Now – here is the bit that made me sit bolt upright, almost spilling my tea:
…First light, ie the first use of a telescope (or, in general, a new instrument) to take an astronomical image after it has been constructed, is currently planned for – 2024…(2)…”
To read the whole post including my thoughts in 2017 re what the 2023/4 Pluto into Aquarius shift might bring, clickHERE…
243 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2022 Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
From the depths of antiquity right through until the general advent of electric light in the early part of the twentieth century, humans have been powerfully influenced by the 29.5 day cycle of the Sun and Moon.
The power of the Sun/Moon cycle
They hunted in daylight, made long journeys by the light offered by the Moon as it moved to full illumination of the night sky 14-15 days into the cycle. They timed their most powerful magical/religious rituals to coincide with the Full Moon. Ancient peoples gradually came to understand, as the age of agriculture took root and developed, that the time to plant their crops was when the Moon was waxing in the early part of the 29.5 day cycle, and in the Spring, or waxing, part of the year.
Out of those practical observations of the heavenly bodies, so fundamental to survival in humanity’s early days, came the realisation so beautifully put in the Bible:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (i)
The planetary cycles, from the tiny 29.5 day Sun/Moon cycle to that powerful regulator of human affairs, the 20 year Jupiter/Saturn cycle, were recognised in antiquity as weaving all life including that of human beings into an observable rhythm which brought a context of order, structure, and some comforting predictability to the patterns of life on Earth.
But whether the cycle is huge, like the Neptune/Pluto 500 year one which was not known in antiquity, or small, like the monthly Sun/Moon one, the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new.
All cycles’ 12th House phase
Moondark describes the end of any cycle – the 12th House phase – whether we are contemplating the monthly Sun/Moon one or the epoch-defining Neptune/Pluto cycle. It is the time of withdrawal and dissolution of energy – think of wintertime, the stripped trees, the cold, barren earth – a time of dark power in which the old order dies at a number of different levels, so that fertile energy can emerge from the womb of the night: indeed, a time of “dying back in preparation for the new.” Thus, every year, the time from the New Moon in Pisces to the New Moon in Aries can be seen as the 12th House phase, the Moondark time, of the entire zodiacal year.
Moondark has fascinated me for a long time. I may first have encountered the concept in my twenties, through the agency of Marion Bradley’s magnificent novel “The Mists of Avalon”, set in the time of druidical Britain in the era when Christianity was sweeping through the Roman Empire and the Old Religion of the Druids was being violently challenged as a result.
The legendary King Arthur, disregarding the advice of his Druid priests, married Guinevere in a Christian ceremony – at Moondark, the very end of the Sun/Moon monthly cycle.Since Arthur was a king, getting the symbolism of his marriage right was much more important than it would be for us ordinary mortals! “Woe, woe, no good will come of this!” was the view taken by the Druids. They were right. The marriage was childless; moreover, Guinevere spent much of it in love with Lancelot, one of the knights of King Arthur’s fabled Round Table.
Each year’s Moondark
We tend to think of the annual 20th March equinox, the day that the Sun enters the sign of Aries, as the symbolic beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. But you could argue that the true beginning of spring is when a New Moon takes place in the sign of Aries. In 2022, that celestial event occurs tomorrow on 1st April, both Sun and Moon meeting at 11.5 degrees of Aries, the fiery first sign of the zodiac. The degree of their meeting varies from year to year: in 2021, it was 22.5 degrees Aries; in 2020, 4 degrees Aries; in 2019 15 degrees Aries; in 2018, 26 degrees Aries.
I find it illuminating and helpful to think of each year in those terms. Thus – as we wait for the fresh energy upsurge of the Aries New Moon tomorrow, we are symbolically waiting in Moondark. This year’s Moondark has been especially potent; it has run from the 12 degrees Pisces New Moon on the 2nd March 2022, making a conjunction with Jupiter at 16 degrees Pisces which is already approaching its powerful conjunction with Neptune, due on 12 April 2022 at 24 degrees Pisces. Much is already being written and discussed across the Web regarding the implications of this planetary duo.(ii)
Events of a collective and personal nature have been powerful, dark and traumatic this Moondark: the Pisces New Moon’s conjunction with Jupiter, as that planet approaches conjunction with Neptune, hascertainly brought Ukraine experiences of symbolic crucifixion (iii) via the sweep of war at Russia’s instigation, and its attendant suffering as millions flee their homeland in search of whatever kind of safety can be found. Along with a world-wide Pisces/Neptune response of compassionate desire to help, manifesting in donations of clothing and other supplies, and money pouring in to various charities, there is a general mood of disgust, shock, world-weariness and exhaustion.
All those reactions are typical Pisces/Neptune responses from all of us world-wide who have been through years of acute political upheaval and turmoil, increasing awareness of the climate emergency we now face – then two years of a pandemic, not yet over, which has upended our whole way of life.
All that most of us wish is peace. We are now having to find ways of being creative, constructive and hopeful in a world in turmoil and transition from an old materialist world order clearly long past its sell-by date…
The uses of Moondark
Moondark is at its best a contemplative time: a time to take stock both collectively and personally. We live in an increasingly frenetic 24/7 society where ‘time out’ is increasingly hard to find, and is not supported by the culture as a whole. Those of us who wish and need to retreat regularly to preserve our balance and well-being tend to be regarded as odd by mainstream society.
But humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.
Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.
It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the time from the Pisces New Moon each year to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us: to take stock of the year that was coming to an end, ponder our successes and our failures, and set some realistic intentions to pursue for the zodiacal year ahead. In a time of unprecedented turmoil, taking retreat time to work out how to cope best with the world we now inhabit, seems more important than ever…
Have you been taking stock ? I certainly have…and your thoughts on what has emerged for you, would be most welcome as we emerge from Moondark and begin a new zodiacal year.
iii) the six-week Christian season of Lent, with its Piscean themes of prayer, reaching out to the Divine, compassion, renunciation and sacrifice, runs this year from the day of the Pisces New Moon on 2nd March, right through to 14th April, just before the first Full Moon of the new astrological year
1300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2022 Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page
This morning I did an hour’s housework: an event sufficiently unusual in itself to qualify for an Aquarian stamp. Disproportionately pleased considering how much hadn’t got done, I headed out for a bracing walk, narrowly avoiding being blown over by periodic gusts of wind.
Hurrah! Black Pine Coffee, my favourite Glasgow West End coffee shop, as of today was once again allowed to admit sitting customers. However, the message couldn’t yet have got around, since the place was unusually quiet, giving me more of a chance than usual to chat with the owner, Pete, and his assistant Sandi (real names with permission).
We agreed we were glad January was now over, it not being the best month for single minded enthusiastic focus on the tasks in hand, to put it mildly.… Personally, if at all possible I prefer to spend that month with a metaphorical blanket over my head. “I like January though,” said Pete. “It’s my birth month, after all.” I remembered that he had told me this some time ago ( I do drop in here quite a lot – great coffee, fun chat) and I had remembered the date as being close to that of my late husband Ian on 30th January. “I was born on the 28th”.
“That makes you an Aquarian, Pete,” said Sandi. “Funnily enough, I have an Aquarian Moon. My mum’s friend drew up my birth chart when I was born (1995). I still have it in my baby book.” It was beginning to occur to me that you couldn’t make this up: here I was, a few hours into the Aquarian New Moon, talking to a Sun Aquarius man and an Aquarian Moon woman.
“Well, Anne”, said Pete, turning to me as he made my coffee, “you’re an astrologer. What would you say were key Aquarian characteristics?” So of course I gave my usual spiel about it being impossible to mirror back accurately the complexities of any human using purely one lens, eg that of the Sun sign or the Moon sign, and how you needed the full birth horoscope based on time, date and place to do that.
“Yes, yes, you’ve told me that before,” persisted Pete, grinning winningly. “But go on: name just a couple!”
‘Very stubborn, very charming, somewhat left field’ I replied.
“Yep, that’s me!” said Pete.
Sandi by this time was looking at me expectantly…clearly my spiel was not having much impact as yet. ‘Aquarian Moon – give me space!’ said I, quite happy to play the game with such great young folks. “Oh yes – too true, that’s me!” she said.
By now, some other customers were drifting in, so I settled down to drink excellent coffee and catch up with my phone emails. However, during a lull some minutes later, Sandi tentatively asked “Do you have any astrology apps on your phone?” Very shortly afterwards we were deep in contemplation of our mutual TimePassages app, with me explaining to her how to navigate it.
I also recommended one or two of my astrology colleagues if she wanted an in-person/zoom reading of a high standard from astrologers who are reputable, experienced, know what they are talking about, and take their responsibilities to clients seriously. I strongly suggested she be very wary of the vast array of ‘astrologers’ enabled by the ease with which one can acquire a smattering of astrological knowledge on-line these days – but without a firm grounding in either experience, in-depth study, or an adequate awareness of the responsibility inherent in calling oneself an astrologer and taking on both teaching and practice of such an ancient, powerful art.
Sandi is clearly very very interested in astrology – I did my best to point her in some quality directions, and she clearly appreciated that. Who knows where her interest may take her? I hope I get a further opportunity to find out!
It was a delightful encounter: totally spontaneous, completely unexpected – and a brilliant manifestation of the Aquarian New Moon’s current energy field drawing the three of us together ‘in the moment’ and offering a shared experience very much of the nature of that moment.
But that Aquarian Moon wasn’t finished making its presence felt in my life today. On the way home, I ran into a journalist friend I hadn’t seen for quite a while – someone with a strongly Aquarian vibe.
>….ie today, a fantastic review of my new book ..’Postcards to the Future‘ by Karin Hoffman of the world-renowned Astrodienstwebsite:
Karin says: ...”Present and future astrologers will find in this deep and varied collection nuggets of pure gold, forged in a lifetime, collected and polished for display and – most importantly – for enlightenment and use…”
To read the whole review – and hopefully treat yourself or a friend, student of astrology, or interested member of the public who wants to know more about the depths and delights offered by astrological knowledge to a copy of ‘Postcards…’ – here it is:
One of the delights – and mild horrors – of writing a regular column to a deadline is that you never know from whence arriveth inspiration (feeling a trifle mediaeval this afternoon, forsooth…) – or if it will arrive at all: always the worst case scenario hovering as the deadline looms.
However, inspiration arrived in response to another deadline, two days before I was due to appear on Christina Rodenbeck’s popular The Oxford Astrologer’s regular Members’ Sunday slot on 12th September 2021, to discuss and promote my new book of essays, columns, articles and research
In addition to discussing the book’s content, Christina suggested we reflect on … ‘…the broad sweep of astrology in your time writing about it…’ Hmmm, I thought. Big topic.
The starting place
But it got me going…to hunt out the first thing I’d ever written – as far as I can remember – on the topic of astrology. And I found it:AA Summer School Report 1-5 June 1987…
‘…Titled ON BEING AND BECOMING AN ASTROLOGER, this year’s Summer School offered a varied range of experience from inner personal contemplation to consideration of the likely General Election result…’
This piece was re-published in my column in Journal as part of the 60 year celebrations for the AA in 2018. It made me smile to read what I had written in that 1987 report, rather tentatively, about computers and astrology. As I wrote in 2018:
‘…Few of us on that course had the slightest clue that astrologers, like everyone else, were merely tapping on a door which would shortly swing open to reveal an entirely new landscape of global interconnectedness which – for both good and ill – has already drawn in much of the population of planet Earth…’
One very personal memory strikes me as clearly illustrating that early entry into the entirely new landscape described in the above quote, which has revolutionised the world of astrology along with every other facet of our lives ever since.
It was around the mid to late1980s. I was sitting at our kitchen table in Glasgow chatting over morning coffee to our guest, USA astrologer Tad Mann, who had come up from London to talk to the Glasgow Astrology Group of which I was a committee member at that time. Suddenly Tad produced from the inside pocket of his jacket an object which looked like an elongated pocket calculator. It was, in fact, an early astrology calculator, into which he tapped my date, place and time of birth, and pressed a couple of buttons. I watched, fascinated.
Things got even more interesting. From another pocket he produced a small, square grey gadget which he proceeded to plug into the side of the calculator. Setting them both on the table, Tad then pressed another couple of buttons. The small square grey gadget was in fact a mini printer. A piece of paper looking exactly like a till receipt soon emerged – complete with all my horoscope data: Asc, MC, planets, Nodes and aspects. I was entranced. ‘I want one of these!!’ Not long afterwards, the (rather pricey) set duly arrived from the company in the USA which Tad had recommended.
Shortly after that, I was to be found sitting happily on a stall at a local Alternative Health event, doing 15 minute mini readings for clients from those very pieces of paper. ‘How on earth can you give me an accurate summary of my character from that till receipt thingie?’ I remember one client asking. ‘It’s the shape of things to come!’ I cheerfully replied, not realising just how true that comment was to prove.
From typewriting to computing
So – the broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about it has taken me from sitting bashing out notes and reports from hand-drawn horoscopes on my old Brother manual typewriter, Tippex to hand, all the way to using highly sophisticated computer programmes which will, quite simply, do everything we need to do as astrologers. From instant push-a-button birth charts to all varieties of prognosticatory options both technical and interpretive, anyone from the very green amateur to the sophisticated professional can have any kind of software they wish, dependent on their finances and predilections. (I still lament the recent demise of the wonderful Io software which I had used since acquiring my first Mac computer in 1995).
The arrival of sophisticated computer technology has been a wonderful gift, also, to all writers – including astro-writers like myself. Apart from personal journals and diaries, which I still prefer to handwrite in aesthetically pleasing, arty books, I haven’t handwritten anything of a short or extended nature, for years.
Another revolution, too, has recently begun, as the larger planetary cycles have graphically shown in recent years. Amongst other astro-writers, I have had much commentary published on the implications of the transition from the 1803-2020 Earth Era to the newAir Era into which we shifted on the Winter Solstice of 2020. On that very day, the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction’s arrival at 0 Aquarius announced the formative 20 year cycle’s settling into the Air element for the next 200 years or so. As we all know, that huge shift announced its presence through an air-borne virus triggering a global pandemic which has upended life on Planet Earth in just about every way possible since 2020.
Taking to the Airwaves : new approaches emerging
Astrology has taken to the air in a really big way. Platforms like zoom have enabled astro-education, astro-groups, astro-readings, and all kinds of astro-chat: wonderfully connective of members of our community to one another. Those and other social media platforms have enabled fatuous, divisive, misleading, and damaging as well as helpful, supportive and enlightening dialogue. It is, as someone observed ‘ …the Wild West out there…’
The broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about, practising and teaching our great subject has also seen the ebb and flow of dominant fashions, and the taking up of varying positions, within our world-wide community. When I started out, psychological astrology was clearly on the ascendant as the revival of astrology during the Sixties and Seventies ( but begun much earlier by the work of eg Dane Rudhyar) moved us away from the doom-laden fatalism of earlier times to the notion that astrology did not describe a world where humans were pinned to the board of Fate like butterflies.
We did in fact, said psychological astrology, have some negotiating room within symbolic energies which could and did express themselves differently depending on the level of conscious awareness individuals brought to their lives.
In recent years we have had the rise and increasing popularity of evolutionary astrology, as well as the revival of traditional astrology which has been reclaiming and refreshing approaches going back many centuries – recasting those perspectives for contemporary practitioners and audiences. There has also increasingly been much more liaison between practitioners and students in both East and West, and a welcome sharing of approaches and perspectives. All these changes have been made possible by the computer revolution which has totally changed the face of our world in every way.
I was asked about the broad sweep – this column has been a very broad, brief sweep indeed, from one person’s perspective only. One could write a whole book on the topic. Someone is probably doing so even as I write!
In conclusion: has widely available Astrology made us better human beings?
I feel as excited as anyone else by all the creative and diverse changes which have arisen. Younger generations of astrologers and astrology students, refusing to be hemmed in by the increasingly strident orthodoxy of scientific reductionism, are embracing the symbolic perspectives offered by astrology in a big way these days. However, I’m going to end this column, not in my usual upbeat way, but on a rather sombre note.
When I first started studying astrology I was awestruck by the insights into oneself that astrological knowledge could provide. Given this wonderfully enlightening gift, I naively thought that astrologers must surely be more enlightened and evolved people than the general population: more magnanimous, less critical of one another, more tolerant.
Well, I found out pretty quickly that they they aren’t. I come from a long background in adult education, social work and psychiatric work, as well as private practice therapy and counselling. I’ve also known many writers in my rather varied vocational life. So my comments are based on quite a wide range of sampling.
Astrologers are just as kind, compassionate, well-informed and magnanimous as other occupational groups. They are also just as bitchy, backbiting, judgemental, dishonest and intolerant as everybody else. In general terms – since I am fortunate to know and have known some wonderful astrologers who are also brilliant, compassionate human beings – I haven’t seen any evidence over the last forty years that convinces me otherwise.
We all have a long way to go, and a lot of work to do to fashion ourselves into better humans than we currently appear to be. Our present world is riven with all kinds of ugly, dangerous divisions. Those divisions are graphically described in the prevailing planetary patterns: unfortunately, our astrological community is not immune. Perhaps we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and bring more fairness, compassion and tolerance into the ways we treat one another within our community. We have a planet to save. We could start by being kinder and more supportive to one another.
What are YOUR thoughts?
i) ‘Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’ is available locally at Opal Moon, Glasgow G20, Watkins Books and The Astrology Shop in London, The Wessex Astrologer – and everywhere on Amazon, including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com