Io! Happy Solstice, New Moon, and Saturnalia, and a merry Christmas!
According to ancient sources, Saturnalia festivities were punctuated with shouts of, “Io!” It was a sort of multipurpose exclamation, pronounced yo.
This morning I was reading comments on a HuffPo article about the solstice. A battle of sorts was raging between those who wished to remind others what the winter holidays “are really all about” and those who reminded the first group that the solstice celebration preceded Christmas by millennia, that the Christians “stole” it from the pagans and not the other way around. Someone mentioned the Roman Saturnalia, often cited as the origins of Christmas, prompting remarks about whether a little debauchery wouldn’t liven up the office party.
In astrology, Saturn is known as the planet of limitations, discipline, hard work, rules, and so forth. It was even worse than that in medieval times, when Saturn was known as the “greater malefic” – a major troublemaker who brought plague, famine, and all manner of woe. But to the ancient Romans, Saturn was an agricultural god who reigned over the world in the mythological Golden Age, in which there was abundance for all and no heavy labor or class divisions. Isn’t it amazing how beliefs can turn on their heads and be completely opposite what they used to be? I suppose it doesn’t help that modern-day humans have an exceedingly short memory. Most even forget (or don’t care) that the gadgets they stare into so intently all day are gateways to virtually all known human history.
Not only are we in the festival of Saturnalia, but planet Saturn changes signs this week, from Scorpio (itself much maligned) to Sagittarius, the sign concerned with beliefs, the hunt for truth and wisdom, and the pursuit of social justice. Sagittarius is one of the two signs that demand freedom (Aquarius is the other), and it’s also known as the party sign.
The latter originates with the mythology surrounding the centaurs, half-human, half-horse creatures who went on drunken rampages, destroyed property, and made off with women. The best-known story involves a wedding feast in the land of the Lapiths – who, according to the mythology, had ancestors in common with the centaurs. Everything was fine until the centaurs had a bit too much to drink and started humping all the guests. They were about to jump the bride when the Lapiths called in Greek hero Theseus, who restored the peace by killing the perpetrators.
The War of the Centaurs symbolizes the dual nature of humans, the civilized side versus the wild, untamed animal instincts that lie within us all. It’s a timely theme as many struggle to meet humanity’s current challenges with civility and reason in a climate of violence and aggression, where beliefs are so twisted that torture isn’t torture, but “enhanced interrogation” that keeps us all safe. It’s hard to believe that anyone actually believes that.
Saturn is indeed a “civilizing” influence in that it’s about structure. But there’s structure, and then there’s structure. With Saturn in Scorpio, reinforced by Pluto in Capricorn, the structure has favored the “one percent,” with police powers to protect and defend it. Under this influence, the crackdown on protests worldwide has been ruthless. Structure under Sagittarius is going to look very different. For one thing, it will be more egalitarian. It will favor exposing corruption, which in turn will lead to a greater demand to restore civil rights and stop the widening gap between rich and poor.
Religion also falls under Sagittarius, which can be extremist. However, Saturn limits and defines, so it’s likely that we’ll actually see a contraction in religious extremism. Based on my observations, an increasing number of people are realizing that the policymakers have an interest in pitting groups against one another, whether by political party, religion, ethnicity, or other divisions. Sagittarius is multicultural, all-inclusive.
The last two visits of Saturn in Sagittarius were 1985-1988 and 1956-1959. It’s beyond the scope of this forecast to do an exhaustive report on historical events related to those transits, but I want to share a few interesting facts.
Saturn entered Sagittarius on January 2, 1956, returning to Scorpio from mid-May to mid-October and then remaining in the sign of the Archer until January 1959. In late 1955, with Saturn toward the end of Scorpio, Rosa Parks broke the law requiring blacks to relinquish their seats to whites on buses in Montgomery, Ala. A boycott of the Montgomery bus system was swiftly organized, with a young Martin Luther King in the lead. In July 1956, Saturn stationed direct just half a degree from his position at the launch of the boycott. Following a Supreme Court ruling in their favor, the organizers ended the boycott on December 20, 1956. By that time, Saturn was at 8 degrees Sagittarius, in a close grand fire trine with Uranus and Mars.
In October 1956, when Saturn entered Sagittarius for the duration, he was in a close square with Pluto in Virgo. The Suez crisis exploded in late October, with an invasion of Egypt by Israel, Britain, and France to regain control of the canal and oust President Nasser, who had been supporting raids into Israel by the Palestinian resistance. Also, there was a spontaneous uprising against the Marxist government of Hungary. It was the first major threat to Soviet rule and considered by political historians as having an important role in the eventual downfall of the Soviet Union in 1989 (which occurred in a landmark astrological year with Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune all in Capricorn).
Saturn entered Sagittarius again on November 17, 1985, and remained there until November 12, 1988. On November 19, 1985, U.S. President Ronald Reagan met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for the first time in Geneva to discuss economic issues and reductions in their countries’ nuclear arsenals. The talks failed, but a breakthrough occurred in 1987 with the signing of a treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear weapons. Could it be just a “coincidence” that another major Cold War era hostility was put to rest last week, right as Saturn was about to enter Sagittarius? In an article for CounterPunch, Benjamin Willis, a Queens musician and founding member of Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFE), wrote, “For proponents of engagement between the United States and Cuba, December 17th, 2014 will be remembered as the single most historically significant date in the past sixty years, and maybe even longer.” Although there is still much work to do, including getting a Republican-controlled Congress to act, Willis wrote, “The reestablishing of diplomatic ties for the first time since 1959 is nothing short of a miracle.”
It’s worth mentioning that on November 20, 1985, Microsoft released its first version of Windows. A month earlier, software freedom activist Richard Stallman launched the Free Software Foundation. Sagittarius also is associated with higher education. Astrologer Armand Diaz has written an excellent article on how higher education has fared under previous transits of Saturn in Sagittarius.
Looking at the rest of the week, the Moon in Capricorn on Monday conjoins Mercury, Pluto, and Venus and squares Uranus. With the Uranus-Pluto square just a week past exact and still very much active, the Moon’s transit sends out an emotional wave, like ripples from a rock thrown in the water. Feelings are intense, but there’s an opportunity for deep reflection. The truth is stark and somewhat depressing, especially as we realize what we need to do to shift ourselves into a different groove. One way we might do that is to search for articles showing that positive and constructive changes are happening. I especially like the story going around about a college student in Lancashire, England, who raised $50,000 for a homeless man who offered her the only money he had so she could take a taxi home at 3 a.m.
Saturn enters Sagittarius at 11:34 a.m. EST on Tuesday. The Moon enters Aquarius that evening and forms a convivial sextile to Saturn at 10 p.m.
On Wednesday, Christmas Eve, Mercury squares Uranus, and he conjoins Pluto early Christmas morning. This is when we might see bigger ripples from the recent Uranus-Pluto square. News could be surprising, if not shocking, and some unflattering truths may be revealed regarding the military or police force. In your personal dealings, sudden insights can help resolve long-standing issues in a new way, especially where career and finances are concerned.
Friday is the most promising day of the week, with the Sun in a relaxed sextile with Neptune in Pisces. Many people will have the day off, but if you have to work, make plans for happy hour drinks with friends or dinner with someone you love. The weekend is for wretched excess, with Venus in a jarring inconjunct with Jupiter. Watch what you mix, or you could end up like the lady who put the lime in the coconut… Io, y’all.
Wishing everyone much love and hope with the returning light,
© Pat Paquette, RealAstrologers.com, 2014.