aquarius, astrology, festivals, Jupiter, pisces, planet, retrograde, saturn, Signs

Lughnasa Festival – Jupiter in Aquarius

Lughnasa – the final Celtic festival to celebrate the harvest. Celebrating the nearing end of summer and preparations for winter. Celebrating the last of the harvest while also facing the reality of another winter. Lughnasa falls on August 1, and this year it certainly does feel like the beginning of an end. Both of summer, which this festival marks, but also socially and astrologically.

Several days ago, Jupiter, after a brief respite in Pisces from May 13 – July 28, has retrograded back into Aquarius, leaving us wrestling with themes from several months ago that we likely thought ourselves past. Some of these are obvious and impersonal. The covid restrictions are an obvious example. As more and more people got vaccinated in the spring and early summer months and covid case numbers went down, many of us started to relax, feeling like after over a year and a half of restrictive Saturn energy (first Saturn co-present/conjunct Pluto in 2020, followed by Saturn square Uranus in 2021), we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Many of us started going to restaurants, started to see each other’s faces instead of just impersonal, emotion-hiding face masks. However, in the past few days, Jupiter our benefic planet retrograded out of his home sign of Pisces and into Aquarius where he spent the first half of 2021. He is no longer in a sign that he rules, and he is now back to being copresent with Saturn. What this means is that he is distinctly less able to work his “lucky” magic and the best we can hope for is a softening or a few bits of luck in our Aquarius-ruled areas of life. It is interesting to see how literally we are seeing this. Regardless of personal feelings that individuals may have about the covid vaccines, there is a very clear message from social and political leaders: Our way out of these newly-returned (Jupiter out of Pisces and back in Aquarius) restrictive measures (Saturn) is to get a vaccine (Jupiter, often positioned as a wise, benefic physician with healing remedies).

Apart from this very apparent difference we are seeing of Jupiter’s influence in Pisces versus moving back to Aquarius… what else may we expect to see due to this shift? It is partially complicated (of course!) because nothing happens in isolation. Jupiter retrograding back into Aquarius is not the only thing happening in the sky during this time! However, for the purposes of this post, I want to focus on Jupiter’s move from Pisces to Aquarius and the shift in energy that movement by itself will bring.

Aquarius is the coldest sign which occurs (in the Northern hemisphere) during the deepest part of the winter, when living things are most in hibernation mode and there is not yet a glimmer of rebirth in the frozen ground. Aquarius is also a fixed sign; there is no view yet of a transition to spring. Pisces represents a time of increasing warming and a time of change. The days are getting longer, and spring is imminent. The end of a cycle is completing and the new beginning is about to rise (quite literally) as a phoneix out of the ashes of the soil in spring.

A retrograde of Jupiter, the planet called in ancient times the “greater benefic” from the sign of Pisces into Aquarius will definitely cause a strong energetic shift. This may definitely feel like an energetic loss of optimism. Again, we may be seeing this in a literal way via the covid situation, but we also feel this on many other levels in our life. Areas in our lives where we may have felt change happening, the figurative ground of our souls starting to soften in preparation for new seeds to sprout, may now start to feel as though the change is stagnating or even reversing. We are becoming stuck for some reason we can’t define. The optimism that came so readily a few weeks ago may be difficult to find now. Particularly with Jupiter moving back to be co-present with Saturn in a Saturn-ruled sign, there will be even more of a feeling of increased restrictions, boundaries around us, and a cage (visible or invisible) that we just can’t break free of. In some ways, this may feel even more restrictive than the previous Jupiter in Aquarius energy in the beginning part of 2020, because we were used to restrictions then. Now, after experiencing the gorgeous Piscean rainfall of Jupiter on the parched ground of a Capricorn/Aquarius-dominated time, these restrictions may feel even greater, and the figurative chains on our ankles may feel even more chafing.

However, although this paints a somewhat bleak picture, there are good parts mixed in here as well! Any areas that are Aquarius-ruled in your life have been under a huge constrictive influence over the past few months with only Saturn in that sign. With Jupiter there now, you are likely to get a little luck back in those areas. Anything that has been especially blocked may get a little positive bump or nudge into an easier direction.

Also, Aquarius is the sign of social awareness and justice and the sign of technology. These are both definitely areas that could use an infusion of some of Jupiter’s benefic rays!

It is also important to be aware that Jupiter is retrograding into Aquarius; we have seen what Jupiter in Aquarius looks like between December 19, 2020 and May 13, 2021. Jupiter in Aquarius is not new to us! There is nothing in this energy that will likely feel new. Jupiter is retrograding through a path it has already recently traversed. So this is less about experiencing new restrictions than about a final opportunity to really close out some of the older themes in a productive way. If we just “got through” the first part of 2021 but didn’t really learn how to “be” in that restrictive space and deal with the increased boundaries in a positive way, this is a chance to go back and re-integrate some of that. If we had feelings around social justice, better uses for technology in our new air-centric world but didn’t really do anything about those feelings, this is the time! Whenever we have retrograde planets, there is a sense of turning inward rather than outward. So start with your internal work first before rushing out to make positive outward changes; this is the real wisdom that Jupiter retrograde into Aquarius can bring us.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom – Aristotle

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering. – St. Augustine

Photo by Rowan Freeman on Unsplash

planet, pluto, retrograde, saturn, Signs

The Wheels of Change Turn – Backwards!

There has been so much change across the world over the past several months that it almost feels unbelievable that there could be much more change.  However, May 10-15 was a significant week on the astrological front and, while nothing as prominent as the Saturn-Pluto conjunction happened over that week, there were still subtle but distinct shifts in energy that all of us will feel more or less, depending on natal chart placements.

Let’s start with Saturn, which stationed retrograde at 1 degree of Aquarius on Sunday, 5/10 in the Pacific timezone.  There was a little relief when Saturn departed from Capricorn so that it was no longer co-present with Pluto and the South Node.  Now Saturn is headed back for its last set of interactions in Capricorn for almost three decades, and there will definitely be a theme of closing things out.  Although Saturn won’t actually enter Capricorn until July 2nd, its retrograde slows down any momentum that it has been gathering in Aquarius and moves it closer to revisiting its conjunction with Pluto.  Wherever Capricorn lies in your natal chart, expect a brief return to some of those recurring, perhaps more difficult, Saturn/Pluto themes from the past 2 and a half year as those energies become fully integrated in your life and head towards their final chapter.

One day later, on May 11th, Mercury moved into Gemini.  Moving from the slow, plodding fixed sign of Taurus into its home sign of Gemini will be a move that greatly strengthens Mercury’s power, and communication will see an energetic boost.  This is one of the more positive movements in the month of May, and any boost we can get to communication (particularly given that the majority of it is now done via video conferencing for most of us!) will be welcome.

One day later, late, on May 12th, Mars finally departed Aquarius for Pisces.  While Mars in Pisces is not particularly inspiring as the Piscean dreaminess is antithetical to the Mars “get things done” attitude, this will be the first time since Feb 17th that Saturn and Mars won’t sharea sign.  Putting a sign boundary between them should definitely provide some relief from the Mars/Saturn tension from the earlier part of the year.  Mars in Pisces will likely be all about “doing”, but will direct that “doing” based on Piscean/dreamy intentions that may or may not be reflected in objective reality, so some of this Martian action may not result in the intended consequence.  When Mars departs Pisces for Aries on June 28th, we will likely see a much more aligned, effective energetic push towards movement and accomplishment!

A few hours after Mars departed Aquarius, late on May 12th, Venus stationed retrograde in Gemini.  While a retrograde Venus certainly doesn’t make relationships easier, it provides an excellent opportunity to revisit aspects of your relationships that may or may not be working and provide the chance to really evaluate what is serving you in your relationships, and what could benefit from an overhaul.

Then, two days later on May 14th, Jupiter joined Pluto, Saturn, and Venus in retrograde motion as it stationed at 27 degrees Capricorn.  All of these retrograde planets will definitely lead to a collective “slowing down” with less forward motion than we would typically like, and a lot of revisiting old ideas/thoughts/evaluations in our minds over and over as we look for better solutions, and generally experience delayed gratification, particularly since both benefics – Venus and Jupiter – are among the retrograde planets.

Bottom line: there was a lot of planetary action starting the week of May 10th, and much of it related to planets moving retrograde!

In fact, we saw three planets station retrograde during that four day period.  The word retrograde comes from the two Latin roots of gradi (meaning “to walk”) and retro (meaning “backwards”).  So the word literally means to walk backwards.  And that is exactly how retrogrades tend to feel… as though we have taken the proverbial two steps forward and one step backward, unable to make the forward progress we are trying to and likely feeling somewhat frustrated in the attempt.  This will be felt in nearly all areas of our charts that these four planets touch.  Mercury will join the retrograde party on June 18, just a few days before Venus stations direct on June 24/25.  We will be dealing with this general planetary retrograde motion for several months, as the various remaining outer planets move into retrograde (Neptune on June 23, Uranus on August 16, and Mars on September 10).  As can be seen from the rough diagram below, all of the planets will spend some amount of time retrograde in 2020, and some of them (particularly the outer planets) will spend a significant portion of the year in retrograde.

 

A rough diagram of the durations of planetary retrograde in 2020 for each of the planets
A rough timeline of planetary retrograde in 2020 for each of the planets

What do all of these retrogrades mean?  How “bad” are retrogrades?  Although the idea of taking two steps forward and one step back doesn’t sound appealing to most of us, it seems as though it is already a strikingly accurate description for the way the after-effects of the giant Saturn-Pluto conjunction that coincided with the worldwide covid-19 pandemic are playing out.  This is true on both an individual level and on a collective level.

 

Collective Retrograde Effects

As a collective, it would be hard to think of another time in recent history in which we have spent so much time agonizing and re-agonizing over decisions, trying to find the correct path forward.  The news the past few weeks is rife with economic re-opening plans that are continuously re-evaluated as more data becomes available.  Expected economic re-opening dates are announced, and then get pushed out farther.  Re-openings start to happen and then are brought to a halt again.  Restaurants are poised and ready to open and are continuously reviewing all guidelines for a safe re-opening over and over as more as the guidelines start to formalize.

 

Personal Retrograde Effects

And then, on a personal level, even for those geographic areas and industries where the economy is starting to re-open, everything looks very different than before and there is a feeling of having “retrograded” from the freedom that we experienced in January.  Going grocery shopping takes longer than usual and requires extra vigilance to keep six feet between yourself and others.  Even an activity as simple as walking down a sidewalk requires attention to detail and frequent detours to the road to keep from inadvertently passing too near another person.  Buying simple items like flour or toilet paper may require trips to multiple stores.

 

Retrograde Effects by Planet

Yes, we are certainly seeing classic retrograde symptoms in our world already.  And if we look at the four planets currently in retrograde (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto), how would we expect to see this manifested in particular?

Venus

Venus is retrograde in Gemini, which at a surface level would indicate that communication in our relationships would be delayed/frustrated during this time.  YES!!  Has anyone not been struggling to communicate over Zoom, with family, friends, and coworkers during this time!  Has anyone not experienced Zoom fatigue on multiple levels over the past few months?  Is there anyone whose communication has been been overall easier and more understandable and concise recently.  (If so, we should talk; I would love to see your natal chart!  😉 )

Jupiter & Pluto

Jupiter and Pluto are retrograde in Capricorn, which would lead us to think  transformation (Pluto) and prosperity/growth (Jupiter) would experience delays/frustration in many of our erected structures (whether political, social, governmental, etc).  YES!!  All of the boundaries which we have erected based on social distancing/flattening the curve are slowing down prosperity/growth on a global as well as a personal scale.  In addition, our efforts to transform the structures around the ways we work has been painful and difficult for many of us.  Finding our new daily routine, adapting to life without physically spending time with friends, family, or coworkers, figuring out how to either manage being unemployed during this time or how to continue working effectively from home…. this has required a transformation for all of us in all of our daily habits and routines.

Saturn

Saturn is currently retrograde in Aquarius (and soon to be Capricorn) before it goes direct.  That would lead us to look for delays relating to boundaries and new and potentially revolutionary technologies as well as humanitarian efforts.  Again, we are certainly seeing struggles in those areas.  As we attempt to find a balance between providing support for those affected either physically or economically by the virus, we are all caught in a macroscopic and microscopic struggle to find new ways of working, new ways of helping others, new ways of slowing down the virus, etc.

Neptune?

What can we expect next?  Neptune is the next planet to go retrograde in Pisces (its home sign) on June 23.  All of this collective energy of dreaminess may result in assumptions based on fantasy rather than reality that further slow down our ability to move out of this massive covid-19 time.  Or, since Neptune is in its  home sign in Pisces and hopefully exhibiting its more positive qualities despite the retrograde, maybe the Piscean collective dreaminess and knowledge that we are all together in this will result in some creative (although potentially delayed) solutions?

 

Conclusion

Regardless, while this is a long stretch with a variety of planetary challenges and we find ourselves re-evaluating decisions over and over as more data becomes available and conclusions we made last week may now be irrelevant, it is important to find the areas where these configurations can counter-intuitively set us up for success and help us move forward in the longer-term.

We have all been given a unique opportunity to evaluate what really has a purpose in our lives versus what has just “been there” but doesn’t reflect an energy we want to cultivate.  This could be a habit we want to break, a person who doesn’t contribute to the energy we want to surround ourselves with, a job that doesn’t fulfill us, a lifestyle choice that we have outgrown, a routine we don’t have job in following.  We can all pay particular attention to the houses in which these retrograde planets fall for us for pointers on which areas of our lives could benefit from a second look.  (Certainly the Capricorn house in each person’s chart will have been particularly activated over the past several years and especially in the first half of 2020.)

Essentially as some of the largest cyclical motions in our solar system have temporarily ground to a halt and slowly reversed directions, a pause button has effectively been pressed.  We all have the opportunity to step back, evaluate the direction of our lives, and make any needed changes so that we are ready as the pause button is released.  When fairer skies come in the future, they may be even fairer based on our ability to evaluate the areas of our lives that need to be transformed and on our motivation to put in the work (whether physical, psychological, spiritual, or emotional) to do just that.

planet, saturn

Saturn: A 2020 Capricorn/Aquarius Cocktail

Saturn: The Greater Malefic

Saturn has been such a big part of the energy of the past few years, and with about six years of Saturnian energy where Saturn is in signs that it rules (Capricorn from 12/20/17 – 4/22/20 and Aquarius from 4/23/20 – 3/7/23) (retrograding back into Capricorn for several months from 7/2/20 – 12/17/20), we are looking at about five and a half years of Saturn in its own rulership. (Although though we have had a tough time of Saturn in Capricorn/Aquarius, a good part of that is a series of unfortunate conjunctions with the Tail of the Dragon, Pluto, and Mars…. not exactly a cocktail for fun and games!)

Saturn gets a bad reputation as a malefic in traditional astrology, and so this extra dose of Saturnian energy (particularly given its momentous, world-defining conjunction with Pluto in January 2020) is generally not welcome. Frankly the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 isn’t giving people much incentive to think of Saturn as anything more than a malefic to be avoided as much as possible either. I straddle the line between traditional and modern astrology, so the idea of Saturn as a malefic resonates with me, but at the same time, what would our planetary charts be without Saturn, our old, wise, teacher, forcing us into the discipline that we would never learn given another option?

Saturn: The Teacher

Saturn’s teachings are not for the faint of heart, certainly, but they definitely have something that our modern world seems to be lacking.

Most of the really great things in each of our lives are things that we worked hard for. Things we overcame obstacles for. Things that cost us very little tend to be valued very little. Very similarly to the lone sea-goat represented by Capricorn steadfastly climbing a mountain without a clear finish line in sight, keeping fixed on the goal and turning aside neither to the right-hand nor to the left, but climbing ever up and up, Saturn, more than any other planet, gives us the opportunity to really work towards something difficult, maintain discipline, and prove to ourselves that we are stronger than we thought and can hold on to the end. Saturn gives us that ability to face ourselves in our mirrors, staring into our own eyes and seeing a new version of ourselves, more disciplined and somewhat harder and stronger around the edges than we were previously.

Hard-working diligent patience is undeniably associated with Saturn. No quick wins, no instant gratification. Saturn frowns upon these, and wastes no opportunity to remind us that anything easily gained is easily lost. Saturn believes in doing everything the right way, regardless of how long that takes. Boundaries, structures, and rules (definitely concepts in sharp focus during this Covid-19 crisis!) are all within Saturn’s well-worn wheelhouse. And it’s important to remember that despite the way the current environment feels, it’s reasonably safe to say that none of us would thrive very well in an environment with no rules or boundaries, and chaos would likely ensue. Certainly it’s hard to produce anything of real, lasting value without at least an awareness of structures and boundaries and a solid grasp on reality. Saturn is, at the end of the day, a teacher. A hard teacher, and one whose lessons are typically unwelcome, and yet one whose lessons are worth learning. The plodding nature of Saturnian endeavours also forces us to really think about what we are striving and working for. In a “quick win” situation, we aren’t spending much time thinking about what something is worth to us, because our investment is small. But when we are investing in something that requires months or years of investment, we will absolutely put the time into considering whether that endeavor is worth our effort at all. In this way, Saturn helps to ensure that we are focused on the correct things in a way Jupiterian optimism or Venusian temporal appreciation will not. Saturn is about sacrifices, and inherent in this is the idea of whether or not what Saturn is asking you to do is worth what you are giving up to do it.

A Series of Conjunctions

Saturn is in the middle of a series of conjunctions in the two signs that it rules, so let’s break these down.

12/26/19: New moon eclipse at 4 degrees of Capricorn (note that eclipse cycles last about six months… and this eclipse has definitely heralded a string of events of literally epic proportion that have extended significantly beyond December 2019!

01/12/20: Mercury conjoins Saturn as Saturn conjoins Pluto at 22 degrees of Capricorn

01/13/20: Sun conjoins Saturn at 22 degrees of Capricorn

03/31/20: Mars conjoins Saturn at 0 degrees of Aquarius

12/21/20: Jupiter conjoins Saturn at 0 degrees of Aquarius (The winter solstice!)

Definitely some intense Saturn energy going on, particularly at 22 degrees of Capricorn and 0 degrees of Aquarius.

Capricorn & Aquarius: Structures & Society

Certainly the areas we saw the initial largest effects from Saturn’s transits are areas of structure (hospitals, government, economy, businesses). We are definitely seeing that the next ripple of waves are very related to community/society – present even in the name of the new phrase in our lexicon: “social distancing”!

Even the term “social distancing” is a joining of the Aquarius focus on society and the Capricorn focus on boundaries. Keeping a six-foot boundary (Capricorn) around yourself when in society (Aquarius). The astrology here is a little difficult to ignore!

I absolutely love the decans, and find their significations to be uncannily accurate, even by astrological standards. Therefore, let’s consider the decanic potential of these two degrees.

22 degrees of Capricorn falls into the third decan of Capricorn. Ruled by the Sun and Mercury. This decan carries a large responsibility for decision making, power, authority, kingdom.

0 degrees of Aquarius falls into the first decan of Aquarius, and is ruled by Venus and Saturn. It is the decan of the individualist, the person who trods new ground. It is also indicative of the person exiled from their homeland; there is an inherent loneliness in this decan.

As we think about the significance of these two decans, we see an interesting juxtaposition of intense responsibility combined with intense individualism and solitariness. On one side, we have a ruler responsible for an entire group of people within his/her realm of authority, and on the other side we have an individual who is completely responsible for only themselves without an area to even call home. What does this interesting set of Saturn conjunctions in these two degrees look like? Although there is much more that could be said for these specific conjunctions based on the other planets involved besides Saturn, I would like to focus on Saturn and these two degrees. Interestingly, there is much about the current Covid-19 crisis that mirrors these two dichotomies. We have on the one hand, an entire world of leaders all forced into the difficult decision of making life-and-death decisions for their respective countries/states/cities while trying to balance extreme economic hardship versus sickness and possibly death while having very little information about this new virus to even use for assessment purposes. There are no easy options here, and clearly with our malefic Saturn transiting the 22nd degree of Capricorn, this brought out all the difficulties inherent in decision making, power, and authority. It is definitely not all fun and games when crises like these rock the very core of our world!

Meanwhile, at 0 degrees of Aquarius, most people are left feeling like their sense of security, safety, and their understanding of their “home” has been betrayed. In some way, then, all of us are somewhat exiled from any previous states of relative security and safety. And there is no clear sense of when (or if!) that sense of security will return and if there is a clear path back to the “home” from which we have been forcibly exiled.

While it is hard to imagine what the end of this Saturnian-influenced time may look like, when we emerge from the other side of this, we will likely be amazed by how resourceful we all have learned to be and will have found somewhat new identities, not only as individuals but also as a part of our local communities that have struggled through this time together.