Hello to readers in Salt Lake City.
I’ve been fortunate to live in several beautiful, albeit intense and often overwhelming locations during my lifetime: New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Seattle, Los Angeles, France, and Scotland, to name most but not all. Each place had its own view of the sky. In New York, it was mostly whatever you could glean between the skyscrapers, unless you were on the banks of the rivers that surround the city or atop one of its towers. In New Mexico, the sky truly was the limit, especially viewed from 7,000 feet at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, overlooking a vast plateau that was once an inland sea, its basin stretching out for miles and miles and miles. New Mexico was the only place I didn’t live near water, but that ancient sea, set against the backdrop of the sky—day or night—often made me feel as if I was sailing on a multidimensional ocean. In Paris, the sky is so much a part of the architecture, it underscores the city’s breathtaking beauty.
When I’ve lived without a good view of the sky, I’ve had to imagine it, which is an interesting experience for someone who writes about the sky for a living. That was true in Edinburgh, where the view from my window caught only a fraction of the starry dome. That fraction was in stark contrast to Seattle, where I had the privilege of a vast 180° horizon that spanned from Tacoma to the tip of the Olympic Mountain range—a view I contemplated everyday as I watched the sunset; I lived there long enough to note the Sun’s path from solstice to solstice. That perspective was humbling, always reminding me, as the sky over Santa Fe did, of my insignificance. Each of these different views taught me the value of perspective in all things, not just in the realm of sky-watching.
I’m currently living in Los Angeles, where last week I witnessed the Moon rise from behind the mountains. It was the first time in probably twenty years that I had watched a moonrise from the beginning, as it rose and started traversing the sky—the first time in probably twenty years. There she was, her light at its fullest brilliance, rendering everything beneath her visible, reminding me of the Moon’s power to reflect the Sun’s life-giving light. As the effect of the Full Moon was felt over the next several days, it provided a potent perspective; most of us felt it as deeply charged emotions that have been hard to articulate or regulate.
I don’t often write about the Moon because so many other astrologers do and do it well—much better than I. But this week I can’t help but write about the Moon because it plays a huge role in the final days and weeks of this tumultuous decade and its stupefying final year. (Sometimes I think it’s really 2012 because this must have been what the Mayans were talking about: the end of the world as we know it, when the foundation of every known structure starts to tremble and it’s hard to find solid ground. Los Angeles is also an interesting place to live when so many cultural earthquakes are crumbling so many political paradigms.)
Here’s what the Moon is doing—but please keep in mind as you read through this time table that the Moon symbolizes the mother: it's the longing to belong, the capacity to nurture; a capacity that is often rattled by worries about safety and security, which is why the Moon also represents the emotional body. Put simply, the Moon signifies how and what we feel.
(1) Today—all day long—the Moon in Virgo forms an opposition to Neptune in Pisces, a tense interaction that translates into an atmosphere of hypersensitivity as well as a proclivity towards illusion, delusion, and a sense of psychic instability. This energy can be channeled creatively, but it requires tremendous effort to maintain clear boundaries and stay focused.
(2) By tomorrow, December 19, the Moon moves into Libra, where it begins its now monthly squares to the aggregation of planets in Capricorn. This week that lineup is (in order of the earliest Capricorn degrees) Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, and Venus. Remember, the underlying subtext of these last few months has been the ongoing and soon-to-culminate Saturn/Pluto conjunction. Every month the Moon has squared, opposed, or conjuncted that difficult combination, stirring a wide range of emotions that are most often expressed as anger or despair about the shifts occurring under the polarizing, pernicious influence of Saturn/Pluto. This week is no different.
(3) By the winter solstice, late in the evening of December 21 or early morning December 22, the Moon begins a conjunction with Mars that lingers until Christmas Day. Pay attention: Moon/Mars conjunctions are testy, so while we may be hoping for glad tidings, what we may actually encounter are temper tantrums. This is the most highly charged, emotional time of the year, yet many of our fellow travelers still expect an It’s a Wonderful Life Christmas—which is amazing when you consider that just before George Bailey meets Clarence (his wings-earning angel), George is about to jump off a bridge, believing suicide the only alternative to his situation. Go figure!
(4) But here is the real problem this week as well as the next several weeks: we’re in an eclipse shadow. There is a solar eclipse on December 26, at 1:13 AM EST, and a lunar eclipse on January 10, 2020 (more about that next week), and because the shadow of an eclipse effect extends six weeks prior to and after the actual event, we’re in the shadow of both eclipses, now, and will continue to feel the effect until mid-February.
A solar eclipse always reveals what is hidden, and because Uranus trines the Moon beginning on Christmas day, we are in for a wild ride of surprising revelations, although these days it’s hard to imagine that anything would be completely surprising.
(5) Interestingly, Jupiter is also included in next week’s solar eclipse, which occurs at 4° 07' Capricorn, and as soon as the Moon clears the Sun, the Moon conjuncts Jupiter at 5° 22' Capricorn. The Moon’s conjunction to Jupiter will inspire many to predict a beneficial eclipse effect. Regular readers of the Aquarium Age know my position on eclipses: they are not good. So please use caution when you encounter rosy predictions about how wonderful this solar eclipse will be because Jupiter, the planet of good fortune, is a participant. Jupiter’s presence doesn’t magically make this eclipse effect beneficial. Our ancestral sky-watchers understood an eclipse effect better than most: eclipses always signal precarious circumstances because when the Moon blocks the light of the Sun, we are privy to a different perspective as what’s lurking in the shadows can be seen quite clearly.
The lunar eclipse of January 10, takes place at 20°00' Cancer, opposite the Saturn/Pluto conjunction—but more next week about what happens at the beginning of January 2020.
Winter solstice celebrations are the origins of all the seasonal festivals of light. It’s the true New Year, when the Sun’s light begins its return and the days are filled with its life-giving force. In the northern hemisphere, the days leading up the winter solstice are the darkest days of the year, days best spent in quiet contemplation of what the prior year put in motion: what’s been learned as well as what still needs to be learned.
On the solstice, I make a list of all the things I want to leave behind as well a list of the things I want to grow in the returning light of the new year. It’s a good way to ground myself in a fresh perspective of what matters most. We will all need to be grounded in our best intentions as the coming year unfolds—it’s going to be a doozy. We will also need each other to sustain a positive perspective, so as the coming days unfold, try to hold a compassionate point of view that informs your interactions with your fellow travelers. No matter how emotional the days and nights may become, try to remember the power of kindness to heal the wounds of the heart. We all need a little tenderness, now more than ever.