Lunar Eclipse

This week’s astrological forecast is written for the plant-wise Anima Mundi Apothecary newsletter!

As the Solstice ebbs away from extremes of light and dark, we celebrate the holidays with an abundance of Capricorn energy. Serious, somber, ambitious, goal-oriented, classy and appreciative of tradition, Capricorn will have us concerned with what work is to be done. And yet the northern hemisphere’s short days and long nights foster a seasonal desire to retreat from the world, to go inward and find quiet. This is at odds with the holiday frenzy and the push to be social, active and engaged. It can be difficult to find the right balance….

Click here for a full report on the 2019 holiday season! Including the Capricorn Christmas eclipse!

Capricorn constellation

I am honored to have been a guest on Sabrina Monarch of Monarch Astrology‘s wonderful podcast, The Magic of the Spheres.

Sabrina and I talk about one of my favorite topics: the underworld and Soul! And how they relate to an innate urge to move towards psychological wholeness and spiritual understanding. We touch on different concepts of the underworld and cooperating with (or submitting to) it, and the dangers of its allurement. Some of us have an inner Jerry Springer figure who may seem to be all righteous…but really? Are we sure of our motivations for airing the dirty linens? (Tipping our hats at heavy Pluto or Scorpio emphasis in a birth chart.)

We also speak about the idea of a Sacred Wound–a core piece of our identity and gift to the world, which never fully heals and yet can represent a potent and powerful ally when it’s time to weave it into a larger story of Life.

Astrology features throughout our discussion, and Sabrina and I muse about how different planetary archetypes and their transits to our natal planets can be experienced differently once we have reached a certain level of wholeness and connection to Soul. Our conversation is broken into two parts:

Healing, Wholing, and the Underworld with Erica Jones Part 1

Healing, Wholing, and the Underworld with Erica Jones Part 2

This week’s astrological forecast is written for the plant-wise Anima Mundi Apothecary newsletter!

August is slowly bringing in a breath of fresh air to the birthing process of 2019. The principle of mind and communication, Mercury, is moving away from their very potent and problematic retrograde. And the hope, expansion and joy of Jupiter returning to direct motion (Aug. 11) brings a needed boost of positive, supportive energy. This past Mercury retrograde (Jun. 19 – Aug. 14) provided a frustrating, demanding or perhaps simply potent viewpoint on our particular role in our planet’s transitional times. For many there has been a heightened experience of being trapped within the larger forces of history, and being forced to cope with the transformation of social institutions and conventions. All of the shortcomings or failures may have felt oppressively close. Some of us bear witness, some of us bear direct consequences and some of us want to look away from overwhelming pressures bearing down on us.

It could be very useful to reflect on how we have responded to any events that boiled over in our lives or communities during this past Mercury retrograde. Where did we shine, succeed, stretch ourselves and reach towards greater health and wholeness? Where did we fall short? The failures may be more important than the successes, for instructing us about our path forward. And maybe we can’t do everything all alone. A prophecy attributed to elders of the Hopi nation said of this time of purification: “See who is in [the river] with you and celebrate.” The river which is flowing fast now, is the intensification (Pluto) of our collective and individual karma (Saturn). And it is asking us to recognize cause and effect in our lives.

The celebration of being in the river together is underscored by the Aquarius Full Moon on August 15 at 5:30am US/Pacific. This Full Moon makes the planet of love, connection and social currency—Venus—integral to the spotlight placed on our Aquarian intellectual ideals about freedom, progress and innovation. The Leo Sun-Venus is asking us how we are showing up—and whether or not we are just showing off. Leo can certainly be both—the desire to be visible as a leader for The Good, and the desire to receive a lot of ego stroking. Displays of bravery or courage that are not backed by the quest for maturity, deep relationality and real responsibility (no more and no less than what is ours to do) will not serve us well as we move closer towards the climax of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction (exact Jan. 12, 2020).

The very end of the shadow of Mercury’s retrograde brings a harsh square aspect between communicative Mercury and the planet of rebellion, Uranus (exact Aug. 16). This infuses the atmosphere with extra Trickster energy, and a rush to proclaim one’s freedom or difference or will. But simple-minded rebellion is far from helpful in our times. What vision do we wish to enact? What is the more beautiful world we feel emerging within us, despite all the indications against it in the world? Living a loving future into existence is the very, very hard work that Saturn-Pluto points us towards. Not despising others, or wishing ill upon anyone, which only compounds the suffering and often presents a self-defeating distraction. This choice is happening in our individual lives, not just on the world stage.

Jupiter’s square to visionary Neptune (Nov. 2018–Nov. 2019) means that we must be willing to see beyond our own times, that our wildest dreams can also pass through the portal of birth contraction represented by Saturn-Pluto. These are healing times, if we summon the compassion and the courage to show up for it. Even the plants are trying so hard to reach out to us! For example, several initiatives to decriminalize plant medicines (entheogens) have passed or are underway in cities around the United States. The plants are reaching out to us—do we see them? And do we see our beloveds? They are all in this river with us, too! Can we see each other? It is time to be mindful of the very good news that we are not swimming all alone.

Two psychedelic faces in paisley, face to face, image by Katie Hess

This week’s astrological forecast is written for the plant-wise Anima Mundi Apothecary newsletter!

We are entering the eclipse season of Cancer (family, home) and Capricorn (society, contribution). The total solar eclipse in Cancer on Jul. 2 at 12:17 pm US/Pacific is asking us about what has been overlooked, or neglected, or perhaps in awareness but habitually pushed away, avoided, or set aside. The magnification and intensification (Pluto) of timescales (Saturn) ironically asks us to slow down in order to shape and be shaped by our lives and times. But far from slow, the mind of Mercury and the hasty might of Mars are hot and reactive together for most of July! It won’t always be possible to be present. And Mercury’s retrograde influence that peaks in July will be relentless in its revelations. A redefinition of belonging is possible under this total solar eclipse—but only if we bring enough care, compassion and empathy to bear.

Click here for a full report on the Cancer/Capricorn eclipses and astrology of the week of Jul. 2 – Jul. 9, 2019

Solar Eclipse Animated gif
Civilis Forced to Dismount and Swim Across the River (Antonio Tempesta); inset with Death with Old Woman (Wenceslaus Hollar)

Sun conjunct Mercury in Aquarius: Getting some distance

We’re anticipating the Aquarius New Moon as messenger Mercury makes their superior conjunction to the Sun, marking their farthest distance from the Earth—and appropriately enough in the otherworldly sign of Aquarius (exact Jan. 29). Later this week, Mercury will then appear as an evening star right after sunset, as they follow the Sun down into the underworld each night. We may receive some benefits of being able to take a more objective stance and to distance ourselves from relational entanglements to get better perspective, whether that’s in our business, intimate or family dealings.

Mars square Pluto: Do not bypass emotions to collect $100

Beware of bypassing difficult emotions, though, as energetic Mars makes his square to not-messing-about Pluto (exact Feb. 1) and adds quite a bit of energy to our desire to have some control, to be in the driver’s seat, or to reach a particular goal. It will be more helpful to know WHY we are angry or frustrated rather than pretending it doesn’t matter that we’re angry or frustrated. This is definitely a week for touching into our ambitions and examine whether these are connected to our long-term goals or if we’re getting caught up in distractions. Action-oriented Mars has just been squaring slow-it-down Saturn for much of the past month, accentuating the reality that this year, the quicker inner planets will be aspecting those two heavy hitters—Saturn and Pluto—one right after the other.

Triggering Transits: Who’s knocking at our door?

When faster moving inner planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus) form aspects to outer planetary alignments, such as Saturn-Pluto, they can function to trigger events within the longer narrative of that combination. Depending on the role of Mars in your personal natal chart, and how Saturn-Pluto is transiting your natal chart, these triggering transits can shed light on or mark beginnings and endings related to this dominating force of 2018–2021. Current correlations to Mars’ activity with Saturn-Pluto seem particularly important given the 2020 Mars retrograde in Aries which will be squaring Saturn-Pluto for the second half of 2020. Take heed of what’s happening in your life now with regard to your goal orientation, what you desire to serve, what you are drawn to protect and your sense of boundaries. This will provide a preview of some of 2020’s (significant) demands. Again, your personal natal placements will tell you much more about this dynamic and how it may unfold.

Saturn sextile Neptune: Stabilizers on hand

Reality Checker Saturn makes a helpful sextile to Dream Maker Neptune (exact Jan. 31), the first of three sextiles happening between now and Nov. 2019. This is such a welcome grounding influence to complement the potentially inflating Jupiter square Neptune of this same time period. On the one hand, we need a bit of grandiosity to transcend old stories that limit our living, and limit the possibilities of right relationship in our societies—on the other hand, we need to remain in contact with our deep relatedness to all things, so that the new story emerges from the old instead of pretending the past no longer matters. The “real” of Saturn more harmoniously blends with the “ideal” of Neptune under these skies (as mentioned elsewhere), along with the stress, strife and upheaval we must also contend with. The potential here, though, is of bringing some stabilizing influence to our dreams—whether those are hopeful responses to crises, or the stuff of helpless nightmares.

2019 Aquarius New Moon horoscope
2019 Aquarius New Moon

Aquarius New Moon: Leaving the comfort zone

Also this week, sexy Venus enters the sign of somewhat reserved and cool Capricorn (Feb. 3) and she’s just in time to make an exact, challenging semisquare aspect to the Aquarius New Moon of Feb. 4 at 1:03pm US/Pacific. This will represent a bit of a change in the festive mood of Venus in Sagittarius (Jan. 7 – Feb. 3) to a more somber, cautious and loyalty-oriented approach to making connections, friendships and exchanging energy. Her aspect to the Aquarius New Moon encourages considerations of any contradictions between wanting so much to be liked or to belong to a group, and our sense of identity. Are we stretching ourselves out of our authentic shape in order to “fit in?” Discomfort with such stretching could emerge as the Moon takes up her waxing phase over the next two weeks. The approaching Mars square Pluto may push us to take on any inner or outer bullies and also step out of our comfort zone around “being liked” versus “being ourselves.”

Erica Jones profile photo, Mount Diablo

This is just a general outlook on the week. To learn more about how the planets are affecting you personally, book an astrological consultation! And step into the realms of Soul to enlarge the conversation you are having with the worldWith Erica as your guide, cross the astrological bridge between heaven and Earth to transform liabilities into assets and cooperate with the energies and forces presently shaping your life. You can also get in touch at erica at realimaginal dot com!

2019 RETREATS  :::  SAVE THE DATE! I am excited to share that astrologer Renn Butler and I are offering another holotropic breathwork + archetypal astrology + dreamwork retreat July 28 – August 4, 2019!  Watch this space for more details!

Traditional Tibetan thangka showing the bhavacakra and six realms of Sa?s?ra in Buddhist cosmology

Sweets amidst the stresses

The weekly astrology outlook of Real Imaginal features the ongoing Venus-Jupiter conjunction (exact Jan. 22), who provides an excellent chance to expand our networks, find like-minded collaborators and explore new ways of celebrating love. The emissary of love, Venus meeting up with the expansive nature of Jupiter offers us an experience of hope, faith in love or an opening of the heart—a welcome burst of generosity and hopefulness that spans the rest of this week. And though Venus-Jupiter is typically a lovely quality, this radiant crown of loving energy may be sitting atop many things which are less than glorious. Saturn, Pluto, Mercury and the Sun have been in Capricorn for the lead up to Venus’ kiss with Jupiter, bringing a sense of heaviness to our thoughts, general outlook and attempts to connect with others on a mental level.

This could spur Venus-Jupiter to a more escapist expression, perhaps by avoiding engaging in the complexity of life and opting instead for judgmental Saturn-Pluto’s strangely feel-good “black-and-white, good-and-evil” perspective on the world. One way to bring the relief, joy and happiness of Venus-Jupiter in a constructive way is to connect with various sweetnesses of this life. For example, we might try setting an intention to connect with someone in a meaningful way, and drop our guard long enough to have a conversation with a stranger or a neighbor we haven’t yet spoken with. Or we might volunteer to help our community in some way.

Deception Basin in the Olympic Mountains, Hafiz poem "Even/ After/ All this time/ The Sun never says to the Earth,/ "You owe me."/ Look/ What happens/ With a love like that,/ It lights the whole sky."
…Venus-Jupiter in the sky… image by Joshua Halpern

Switching it up

Real Imaginal’s weekly astrology outlook also notes communicative Mercury’s stressful square aspect to eccentric Uranus (exact Jan. 23) that may bring a surprise twist to events. If we’ve been more in tune with Venus-Jupiter sweetness, some information bearing the seriousness or gravity of Saturn-Pluto may intrude upon our reveries. On the other hand, if we’ve been absorbed in the traumatizing energetics of Saturn-Pluto, Mercury may bring news of another aspect of life on Earth that is not so gloomy and doom-y. The sense that we are trudging up a seemingly insurmountable mountain of history may be interrupted by an experience of grace.

Is it worth it? Get creative!

Of course, the long and seemingly fruitless battle with history, karma or decaying institutions in part reflects the combative Mars’ square to complicating Saturn in the sky (active roughly Jan. 11 to Jan. 30), which can frustrate our attempts to get ahead. Perseverance is prescribed, and sincere dedication (Saturn) to our efforts (Mars) will force us to review a couple of things: is what we are trying to do worth it? is it something we actually, truly care about? are we able to think creatively about achieving our goals? While the first two are the ultimate filters on how we may choose to direct our energy, this last question could bring a real boon to our mission. Mars makes a supportive trine aspect to resourceful Jupiter (exact Jan. 25), bringing a gift of inspiration to think beyond whatever limitations we may be facing. The obstacles we face now may therefore prove to be great allies in finding a new method, logic, collaborator or iteration of our designs.

Curiosity incoming

Lastly, the mind of Mercury escapes the inertia of the major Capricorn stellium that has dominated the skies since the beginning of January, when they follow the Sun into Aquarius on Jan. 23. The incoming Aquarian influence can help us take a step back from enmeshment in the problematic and be more curious about the world around us. It can also take us a little too far away from emotional realities, so while we cook up the next theory of how-to-set-everything-free (a favorite Aquarian pastime), it’s a good idea to stay in touch with how our theory actually feels in our bodies…and what others may report to us about their lived experiences. It could actually be quite wonderful! Just tune into the total organism.

Erica Jones profile photo, Navarro River redwoods

This is just a general outlook on the week. To learn more about how the planets are affecting you personally, book an astrological consultation! And step into the realms of Soul to enlarge the conversation you are having with the worldWith Erica as your guide, cross the astrological bridge between heaven and Earth to transform liabilities into assets and cooperate with the energies and forces presently shaping your life. You can also get in touch at erica at realimaginal dot com!

2019 RETREATS  :::  SAVE THE DATE! I am excited to share that astrologer Renn Butler and I are offering another holotropic breathwork + archetypal astrology + dreamwork retreat July 28 – August 4, 2019!  Watch this space for more details!

A heart, earth stons, archetype cards for The Guide, the Wounded Child, The Teacher and The Prostitute...with Saturn in the 9th House in Scorpio

Wanna fight?

The week is heavy with cautious Capricorn’s influence and yet the planet of mind, Mercury making a stressed square aspect to the god of war, Mars (exact Jan. 8) setting off existing tensions or initiating new conflict. If you feel the heat of anger rising while you’re speaking to someone, try to put on the brakes and evaluate if you’ll get what you want through shoving or arguing. It could be very hard to catch yourself, though! Mars is in Aries (until Feb. 14) and as the aggressive part of this combo, will be strong and inclined to move fast. On the other hand, Mars-Mercury can help with working through differing perspectives on an issue. You’ll find Mars-Mercury in the skilled debater and the passionate advocate. Fighting (Mars) with words (Mercury) can drive people apart from each other—Mars as the knife edge that separates—but this influence can also help to define or carve out differing (Mars) ideas (Mercury). The key is a willingness to be curious about our anger rather than merely possessed by it. Why does this idea, issue or point matter so much? Does it? If so, what is the best way to get what we want?

Breakdown to breakthrough

Expansive Jupiter is making a dynamic sesquisquare (135°) aspect to liberating Uranus (exact Jan. 9) which can add to the impulsiveness of the moment. But Jupiter-Uranus will also assist the contemplation of the more generative aspects of the currently heavy zeitgeist that is defined by Saturn-Pluto (2018–2021). Saturn-Pluto is carrying the overarching narrative into which all other stories are woven or subsumed. It is driving the momentum to “face reality” and to have a real encounter with what has been previously hidden under the veneer of civilization. Jupiter-Uranus is a very different piece of the evolutionary puzzle containing unexpected breakthroughs. Jupiter-Uranus symbolizes the opening of new vistas of understanding in various human endeavors and the impulse to break free from suffocating structures. This week will be particularly good for reflecting on how the breakdown (Pluto) of consensus reality (Saturn) can create the opening for very positive and life-affirming changes. Perhaps it is an ongoing project of yours or a new inspiration—give it some attention this week in order to plant your ideas, projects and efforts within the reality of the trauma of the birth experience of Saturn-Pluto. How can the breakdown help the breakthrough you’re dreaming of and working for?

Family of mushrooms breakdown to breakthrough in the damp Douglas fir forest

Synergy versus power play

Sociable Venus has just entered Sagittarius (Jan. 7 – Feb. 3) and will aid our efforts to network with others and expand our spheres of support, cooperation and reciprocity. She is also making a hard semisquare (45°) aspect to the lord of the underworld Pluto (exact Jan. 12) which can add a little oomph to our connections—for better and for worse! Along with the egoic Sun’s conjunction to Pluto (exact Jan. 11), we may have to explore our ability to share power with others and get real about our true orientation to the cosmological power of synergy, which is the power of working together. Synergy may require us to shift our perspective on boundaries and identity, adopting new contexts and joining with others to create larger wholes. True synergy results in more energy, creativity and productivity for all—it is a mutually beneficial relationship. But Sun-Pluto emphasizes our own personal quest for power: the ability to cause or prevent change that arises from the fact of our deep interrelatedness with all beings. Do we crave power over others? Do we battle for control? Can our identity expand to include the others—seen and unseen, human and other-than-human—whose active cooperation will magnify our own power, reach and effectiveness? This kind of expansion can surely be experienced as a breakdown and yet could give us one of the biggest breakthroughs of the year.

This is just a general outlook on the week. To learn more about how the planets are affecting you personally, book an astrological consultation! And step into the realms of Soul to enlarge the conversation you are having with the worldWith Erica as your guide, cross the astrological bridge between heaven and Earth to transform liabilities into assets and cooperate with the energies and forces presently shaping your life. You can also get in touch at erica at realimaginal dot com!

2019 RETREATS   I am excited to share that astrologer Renn Butler and I will be offering another holotropic breathwork + archetypal astrology + dreamwork retreat in summer 2019!  Watch this space for more details and to save the date!

Sunset, ferries, Ferris wheel, Olympic Mountains from Seattle waterfront

Welcome to the first week of 2019 and the onset of regular contractions in the birthing process of the larger Saturn-Pluto story of 2018–2021. The birth pangs that began in 2017 and quickened in 2018 will be taking greater shape in personal and collective lives. The week has a somewhat somber or leaden beginning with the Sun spotlighting depressive Saturn (exact conjunction Jan. 1), bringing loose ends, insecurities, insufficiencies and a feeling of lack or loss into awareness. Saturn likes to think of himself as The Real Reality™? but can often bring paralyzing distortions through an overly negative or pessimistic outlook. It can be helpful to step back from the way we are framing our “problems” and notice whether the way we think about them creates a dead end where there may in fact be a great way forward. The fresh start of desirous Mars’ recent entry into impulsive Aries (Dec. 31 – Feb. 14) will benefit from having a direction that is informed by a sense of history, responsibility and even duty—both to ourselves and to others. Resist compromising and rather let the internal pressure that builds shape new responses and new perspectives.

The emissary of our thinking mind, Mercury will make a helpful trine to innovating Uranus (exact Jan. 3) as the centering power of the Sun forms a supportive sextile aspect to Dream Maker Neptune (exact Jan. 4). These two influences can bring an assist to any struggle between “the new” and “the old” that may be churning within. These two days offer us a quick liminal or in-between space to waver and tremble in before Mercury enters Capricorn (Jan. 4 – Jan. 23) and turns our thoughts towards the more practical side of life. Dreamers must become doers in these times of mass planetary change and that means not dumping your Soul’s desires and its part in the dream of the Earth for the illusion of safety or control.

Along those lines, trickster Uranus has been quite busy overturning all the apple carts labeled “safety” and “stability” and it is a good use of Uranus’ direct station (Jan. 6) to reflect on how Uranus has transited your chart since entering Aries in May 2010. How has your life been altered according to the topics of the house(s) which Uranus transited, as well as Uranus’ transits to your personal planets? Uranus pushes us towards expression of our unique qualities and gifts—things that no other organism in Earth Community has and which Earth Community needs in order to flourish and creatively respond to the ceaseless motions of life’s unfolding. Whereas most of us have an understandable desire for things to be reliable, predictable, and what-is-known—when this keeps us from blossoming and sharing our nectar with others, Uranus will rattle our cage. Uranus will leave Aries for good this year, and their Jan. 6 station to direct motion may correspond to some validation of the changes it has brought over the last nine years—which can be exciting! and terrifying! and liberating! and all of the above.

Capricorn New Moon 2019 horoscope

Which brings us to the partial eclipse on the Capricorn New Moon of Jan. 5, 2019 at 5:28pm US/Pacific. This is the opening eclipse in the Cancer/Capricorn series which will run through July 2020. Since this New Moon falls at the midpoint of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, we may receive a preview of what Saturn-Pluto holds for the year ahead and it makes a difference whether we identify as a victim of or as an active participant in the upheaval and evolution of our life and times.

This is not to dismiss any real victimization that is happening but more to highlight the importance of holding our own vision of a more beautiful world and acting from that place. And given that we have far less control over much of our circumstances than we would probably like, it makes a difference if we act from the parts of us that do have some choice, some influence, some ability to create in the midst of what can feel like (and may actually be) a fairly despairing situation. The insightful author of the book Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown, composed the following mantras and they are so fitting to the tone of this year: “I am no victim of life; I shape change. We are not victims of circumstance; we shape change.” “I am a microcosm of all the possible justice, liberation, pleasure and honesty in the universe, and I act accordingly.” “I remember that I exist only in relationship to other people and systems.”

Here are some thought-provoking ideas around intentions you might place within this New Moon, to carry into the intensity of Saturn-Pluto’s 2019 landscape and its strange need to change us:
• Bring in other major transits of 2019, Jupiter square Neptune and Saturn sextile Neptune and open to healing our relationship to belief itself.
• Reflect on your desire to be an individual Sun, a shining star (Leo) and how that was impacted by the Leo/Aquarius eclipse cycle. Then reflect on your aspirations to belong to a whole, to the family of life (Cancer) and how your Sun, your shining star can contribute to nourishing the whole (including Self).
• Dream deeply. Go to the source within you. How do you want to live your values and be accountable to yourself, your Dream and your communities?
• How do you want to contribute to the healing and repair of our world? The significance is in your inspired connection to and passion for the task—not in its relative merits or valuation by others or by society.

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.

Tree stump in the smoke-filled East SF Bay Hills during the Camp Fire; Fall 2018

Saturn-Pluto: The Birth Contraction of 2018—2021

Saturn-Pluto periods of time, such as the present alignment from 2018 through 2021, can represent a transformation of the status quo or the existing state of affairs. However, it’s crucial to remember that archetypes display many different and even contradictory meanings all at once. History shows that Saturn and Pluto coming together can also represent the empowerment (Pluto) of that which would either regress or hold back changes (Saturn). Reactionary and regressive cultural and social developments form a strong correlation throughout history because of the intense fear that can accompany these two planets in combination.

glyph for Saturn


Glyph for Pluto

Pluto expresses that everything wants to live. Pluto at its best is totally alive! There is a vibrancy and courage and vitality that a well-integrated Pluto can express like nothing else. When Pluto meets Saturn, it meets its limits. The question will come up: how can this striving to “survive” or to “persist” orient to Saturn’s demands? Saturn’s rules, its problem-making, its demand that we go at the “right” pace and not too fast…but not too slow. Saturn wants to channelize or diffract Pluto’s raw intensity that would just gush out everywhere, and blindly grab whatever is needed to sustain or expand its current energy level or throughput. And so it becomes a birthing process, where Saturn pushes Pluto to evolve in a particular way—Pluto may be evolution, but Saturn can be a guide. Saturn will consistently ask us what’s really possible here, given the current circumstances shaped by history, by our ancestors’ decisions and lives?

Highlighting Differences

Given all of these possibilities, how could we constructively engage with Saturn-Pluto as a world transit? World transits have collective impact and yet it takes individuals to form collectives. Each of us in our individual lives will face parts of this massive birth contraction of 2018 to 2021—which is one of the more generative ways I can think of this time period’s potentials—and it will be different for each of us. We’re all situated differently within larger social structures, within our personal and various collective-level karmas. Awareness of these very differences are heightened during Saturn-Pluto periods of time.

So you might try to engage the depth and power of the Saturn-Pluto alignment by deliberately working with its tendency to exaggerate differences. You might seek out the perspectives and points of view of those who are from a culture or community that has fewer opportunities, material resources and more difficult circumstances than your own, including those who suffer stigma. It could actually be quite the revelation just to seek out who lives on the margins in relation to your own position, whatever your relative freedoms and advantages. Prevailing social norms make those “below” us on the hierarchy less visible than those “above” us, and in this way we could use Saturn-Pluto to constructively bring to the surface (Saturn) that which is hidden or repressed from awareness (Pluto).

all color images by Joshua Halpern :::

Sacred Curiosity and the Wisdom of the Heart

Saturn-Pluto may give us greater access to appreciating the radical differences between ourselves and others—but appreciation is not automatic. One tip to prevent us from dismissing different experiences or collapsing them into our story about the world is to summon up a genuine and respectful curiosity. And a willingness to admit that we know less than we think we do!

A practice that could help this along is to bring your awareness to your heart, and to keep re-focusing awareness on your heart as you explore the perspectives and experiences of those who seem to be so different from you. Both feelings of disgust and compassion could become stronger and it is helpful to consider that your emotional response says more about you than it does about others. Trying to just allow your feelings, however taboo they may be, and trying to connect with the part of you that can allow emotion to flow through will help them move. Is it possible to be curious about what you are feeling? Curious and gentle?

You may notice a whole raft of judgments arising, too—which is why it’s helpful to connect with the heart. The heart carries a more accepting mode of consciousness. The point of this exploration isn’t to figure out “who is right” and “who is wrong.” It’s more to notice: there is more than one way of experiencing the exact same events. There is more than one culture, more than one society, more than one system of beliefs, more than a single lineage or ancestry giving birth to our present moment. It seems that no rigid ideology can guard us from harming others—only a commitment to ever-increasing awareness of Self in relation to Other (and vice versa) can reduce that possibility—and indeed, lead us to transform what needs healing within the status quo, within the existing state of our affairs.