Bridge over a creek

NB: All dates are US/Pacific time or UTC -8h.

This week, messenger Mercury returns to the sign of Sagittarius (Dec. 12 to Jan. 4) post-retrograde, adding to the exaggeration, overestimation of capacity and glossing over of important details that the self-centered Sun plus jolly Jupiter in Sagittarius can represent. While these placements can be great for big picture visioning, some of us will need to be extra tidy with details and mindful to stop talk-talk-talking and actually take in other people’s information and experience. Good intentions can actually interfere with desirable outcomes. At the same time, the lightness, optimism and hopefulness offered by the next two weeks of Sagittarian emphasis is a welcome counterpoint to all the heaviness and intensity of the strengthening Saturn-Pluto conjunction, which will come within three degrees of exact next April. The closer planets are in aspect to each other, the more vivid their correlations become and the grim reaper energy of Saturn meeting the irresistible inevitability of Pluto is about as dramatic as it gets in terms of depth and the possessive effect of archetypes.

To quote the founder of archetypal psychology, James Hillman: “By setting up a universe which tends to hold everything we do, see, and say in the sway of its cosmos, an archetype is best comparable with a God.” Hence the practice of astrology that ideally allows us to take a step back from the archetype’s narrative of the world and be a little more responsive and a little less reactive (maybe). It’s even possible to honor the power of archetypes by deliberately engaging with the unique perceptions and powers of their cosmic vision and invite them to play along with stories you would like to enact. Although we mere mortals do not always understand the rules of the games these deities play, and we certainly struggle enough with our own self-control! it is very worthwhile to work on becoming more conscious of archetypes and their significant influence. We are all already puppets of these cosmological powers, enacting their tendencies without even trying.

Meditating Buddha with tea service

With that in mind, the first quarter of the Moon (Dec. 15) could stir an emotional challenge to our search for meaning—a good cry in a hot bath could do wonders to clear our heart-minds. Then on Dec. 16, socializing Venus makes her exact sextile to Saturn and feisty Mars makes his exact sextile to Pluto. A combination of irritation, enthusiasm, confidence and uncertainty could bring us face to face with some of the major themes in our particular lives that are contained within the much larger movement of Saturn-Pluto (2018–2021).

The sextile aspects especially point to the role of mentors, teachers, counselors and guides in our lives. Since Mars and Venus are concerned with pursuit, being pursued and our likes and dislikes, we might guide our reflections with another quote from James Hillman:

“Loving in safety is the smaller part of loving.”

To be clear, when I say “major themes” related to the longer Saturn-Pluto transit, I am referring to the predominant storylines, relationships, responsibilities, opportunities and losses related to the Saturn-Pluto archetypal complex. As noted above, this particular combination carries a very weighty, serious experience and sharpens our awareness of the difficulties which can either crush us or make us stronger (or both). Knowledge of where this conjunction falls in your natal chart can provide some clues around what you might want to become more conscious of and intentional with. To give just one example, if Saturn-Pluto is transiting your 7th House of relationship, you could be focusing heavily on the hard work of maintaining your partnership(s); creating a completely new persona to present to the public; experiencing the karmic consequences (positive and negative) of how you have related to others 1-to-1 in the past; or challenged to demonstrate or embody the wisdom gained from studies with powerful if sometimes abusive teachers or mentors (represented by Pluto’s transit of your 7th House). Saturn-Pluto can be very concerned with safety and yet fear can sabotage us with paranoia and misjudgment, making everything far less safe. We might wonder how we can pursue the greater part of loving, with all the risk that carries.