This week brings three major astrological events and a couple of lesser ones. There are bright spots and inspiring moments, but also a vague feeling of “ickiness” that we can’t identify, let alone figure out what to do with.
The ick factor comes on early in the week, with a conjunction of Mars and Neptune in Pisces on Monday. On Tuesday, the Sun enters Aquarius, less than four hours before the New Moon. On Wednesday, Mercury turns retrograde and will be in “reverse” until February 11.
For many people in the United States, Monday is a work holiday, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Astrologically, it’s not a bad day for commemorating Dr. King’s commitment to non-violent civil disobedience. Monday’s conjunction of Mars and Neptune in Pisces can be associated with feeling ineffectual, resentful, disenfranchised, and angry with no outlet to express it. But it also represents one of the best remedies: gathering with others who share your concerns, in order to improve conditions for everyone. A peace march is exactly the kind of activity favored when action-oriented Mars meets compassionate Neptune. The MLK “Day of Service” is another great way to honor King’s memory and, at the same time, put the Mars-Neptune energy to good use. A new social movement called Ferguson Action has plans for activism around the country, with a focus on demands for social justice.
The difficulty with Mars conjunct Neptune – all the more so with both in Pisces – is that anger has no outlet; or, rather, there’s no obvious way to blow off steam. As a result, some people act it out in a passive-aggressive manner, while others turn it inward on themselves, often by escaping into self-destructive behavior. The best remedy is to get up and do something – anything that gets the circulation going and moves energy through your body. That icky feeling is a result of energy being stuck in your body, like water stagnating in a pond.
The Capricorn Moon on Monday squares Uranus and conjoins Pluto, skipping through the territory of six passes of the Uranus-Pluto square since 2012. The Uranus-Pluto square is the astrological signature underlying social unrest and demands for justice all over the world, with military and police authorities cracking down in an attempt to maintain power and domination. Fortunately, transits of the Moon are fleeting and weak, so Monday’s activities likely will keep to the spirit of King’s values.
Also on Monday, Venus in Aquarius moves into exact opposition with retrograde Jupiter in Leo. This is favorable for congenial social gatherings, with good food, good drink, and stimulating conversation. For some people, exchanging ideas and connecting mentally are an important part of sexual foreplay. You’ll only know what I’m talking about if you’re one of those people. The rest of you will think it’s abby normal.
On Tuesday, the Sun enters Aquarius, giving us a whole month of inspiration, flashes of genius, and revolutionary ideas. The social media will be buzzing on high frequency, although Mercury’s turn retrograde on Tuesday indicates complications and the risk of error. Once a message is shared and gets passed around, it can get set in digital stone, and if it turns out to be wrong, it can take days or weeks before it’s corrected. Some people hear something and immediately latch onto it, because it fits in so well with their belief system, and they keep believing it even after it turns out not to be true. That’s one reason that political propaganda is so effective.
In modern astrology, Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, the nonconformist of the solar system (a planet spinning on its side is definitely abby normal). Uranus governs the Internet, air and space travel, and technological innovation in general. It’s also the planet associated with revolution, rebellion, freedom, and individual rights. We might see an increase in the next four weeks of protests and demonstrations, some of which will be very large. In addition, Uranus rules storms, especially high winds and electrical storms.
The Moon enters Aquarius three hours after the Sun, with the New Moon less than half an hour later at 0 degrees Aquarius. The traditional ruler of Aquarius, Saturn, is in early Sagittarius, so this New Moon makes a doubly supportive sextile to the planet of structure and discipline in the sign of truth and expanding consciousness. At the same time, Saturn is moving toward a conflicting square with Neptune, representing a clash between religion and spirituality, between structured belief systems and what we sense through mystical experiences, a direct contact with the divine. The danger with the former is that it can become so regimented that it’s more about following rules than living from the heart. The problem with the latter is that there are no rules or structure at all, so that one is easily deluded or misled. Saturn in Sagittarius also represents hard truths, whereas Neptune in Pisces would rather avoid them.
The Saturn-Neptune square won’t be exact until later this year, but with Mars serving as a go-between, we could get an advance look now at how this conflict might materialize several months down the road. In the meantime, the favorable connection between the New Moon and Saturn lights a spark of new ways of thinking and of seeing the world, which will go a long way toward resolving the Saturn-Neptune conflict. That’s why it’s important to pay attention this week, especially to religious and philosophical differences that are keeping people in perpetual conflict. The sextile from the Sun to Saturn is exact on Friday, so we have all week to start thinking about how we might be limiting our view of reality.
You’ve probably read somewhere that Tuesday’s New Moon also is a “Supermoon,” the first of a whopping six Supermoons in 2015. So here’s a pop quiz:
What is a Supermoon?
a. A New Moon that appears 14 percent bigger than normal
b. A total lunar eclipse that occurs near a solstice point
c. A Full Moon that occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are in perfect alignment
d. Clark Kent’s backside
e. It depends on who you ask.
The correct answer is e. There’s no agreed-upon definition of a Supermoon.
Next question: What does it mean?
Being an astrologer, I’m more concerned with the second question, but answering it requires knowing what it is. So let’s start with a science lesson.
The Moon’s orbit around Earth is not perfectly round, and Earth isn’t exactly in the center. That means there are times in the Moon’s 29.5-day cycle when it is closer to Earth, and times when it is farther away. Its closet point is called “perigee,” and its farthest is “apogee.” At the new and full phases of the lunar cycle, the Sun, Moon, and Earth are in a straight line, with the Moon between the Sun and Earth at the New Moon, and Earth between the Sun and Moon at the Full Moon. In astronomy, this alignment is called syzygy (try saying that while wearing whitening trays). Astrologers just say “conjunct” or “opposite.”
Perigee and syzygy usually don’t happen at the same time, but when they do, we get what astronomers call – get ready for this – a “perigee-syzygy moon.” It can apply to both the New and Full Moon, but since you can’t actually see a New Moon, they don’t get too excited about a perigee New Moon. The perigee Full Moon, though, can be quite a sight – up to 14 percent bigger (get out your sky rulers) and 30 percent brighter than your regular garden-variety Full Moon. An astrologer, Richard Nolle, came up with the term “Supermoon” in 1979. It took long enough, but eventually the scientific community saw the logic in it. They had to admit that “perigee-syzygy moon” wasn’t much of a crowd-pleaser. When they started calling it a Supermoon, suddenly it grabbed people’s attention. And when the media saw how popular the topic was, they started hyping the bejeezus out of it, and that fueled even more public interest.
A true perigee-syzygy Full Moon, with the two phenomena occurring within less than an hour of one another, happens only once every 18 years or so. However, when Nolle came up with the term Supermoon, he defined it as a New or Full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit, which means that perigee and syzygy can be hours or even more than a day apart. Suddenly you’ve one or more in a year. If you add the New Moon into the definition, you get even more, with one Super-Supermoon of the year that is the closest one to Earth.
By Nolle’s definition, there are six Supermoons in 2015: the New Moons on January 20, February 18, and March 20, and the Full Moons on August 29, September 27, and October 27. The closest to Earth is the September 27 Full Moon, which coincides with a total lunar eclipse, the last of the tetrad – four total lunar eclipses in a row – that began on April 15, 2014. The Supermoon on March 19 also is an eclipse, and it falls at 29 degrees Pisces, a deeply symbolic degree in astrology, as it’s the very end of the zodiac before starting a new astrological new year at 0 degrees Aries. These two definitely bear watching.
Of the six Supermoons in 2015, the one coming up on January 20 is the “least super,” with 30 hours between the New Moon and perigee. I have to tell you I can’t get that excited about it. There are other reasons that this New Moon is exceptional, as noted above, but none of it has to do with how close the New Moon is to Earth. The same goes for the remaining three. Other than the publicity – well, and that Richard Nolle is well-known and respected in the astrology community – I can’t figure out why we’ve jumped on the bandwagon and made all kinds of claims about the power of the Supermoon to enhance meditation, add an extra punch to manifest-ability, or [fill in the blank]. The tides are nominally affected by Supermoons, with a slightly wider range between high and low tides than at other times in the lunar cycle. Hence, it probably does affect our bodies and emotions, but I don’t know how you could substantiate it. There are so many other variables, and anyway, if the effect on the tides is minimal in comparison to an ordinary New or Full Moon, then the same probably goes for us.
Nolle himself has drawn considerable controversy by stating that catastrophic weather and earthquakes are more likely to happen at Supermoons. Any site you go to for information about Supermoons will tell you that research has debunked his claims, but I haven’t seen any valid studies one way or the other. Scientists can get away with saying astrology has been proven invalid with little or no evidence. Nolle does provide a lot of data, but I haven’t read every single thing he’s ever written and so don’t know how exhaustive and unbiased his research is.
Just for the heck of it, I started making a list of the biggest earthquakes on record and comparing them to the lunar cycle. With a slow Internet connection, I had time to look up only a few examples – admittedly not enough for a definitive answer – and got mixed results. The two most powerful earthquakes on record, Chile in 1960 and Alaska in 1964, both occurred within three days of a New Moon (Chile) and Full Moon (Alaska), but neither were Supermoons. The magnitude 9.0 Fukushima earthquake in March 2011 occurred nine days before the Supermoon on March 19, which was the closest Full Moon to Earth since 1993. The magnitude 9.1 Banda Aceh quake on Christmas 2004 occurred the day before a Full Moon that was 28 hours before apogee – the Moon’s farthest distance from Earth, when its influence on the tides is the weakest. However, the New Moon two weeks later was the closest Supermoon of the year, occurring less than two hours after perigee. The magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile in 2010 fell the day before a Supermoon on Feb. 28, 2010. It wasn’t the closest of the year, being 18 hours after perigee, but the earthquake was barely three hours after perigee on the 27th. On the same day, a violent windstorm swept through Western Europe, and the third blizzard in a month hit the Northeastern United States. The closet Supermoon of the year was on January 30, so the severe winter weather fell between two Supermoons.
Nolle has several other examples of close correlations on his website. In other words, it’s not as though he got lucky a time or two, nor could there be that many coincidences. I would think that meteorologists and geologists would want to investigate more closely rather than dismissing the possibility out of hand, citing all the studies that have been done in the past. What studies? Using what assumptions and what parameters? The journalist in me says there needs to be a definitive, objective study that cross-references all earthquake and severe weather data since record-keeping began with all the Supermoons in that time period, along with factors such as the Moon’s declination and lunar standstill. Until then, I’m leery of making any claims about a Supermoon or even agreeing with Nolle’s definition, especially since this isn’t even a matter of astrology but is more in the domain of earth science. But I’ll be watching and collecting data.
From an astrologer’s point of view, a significant related issue is how planetary aspects at the time of the Supermoon might make a difference, and that’s always a tricky endeavor. For example, in the chart for the Fukushima earthquake, Uranus was at the fateful degree of 29 Pisces and less than 24 hours from entering Aries. That’s significant, because Uranus rules electricity, and once he entered Aries, he began moving toward the epic seven-part square with Pluto, ruler of nuclear power. On the day of the Chile earthquake and violent winds in Europe, there was a conjunction by exact degree of Mercury, Chiron, and Neptune at 26 degrees Aquarius, with Uranus and Neptune in reception – Uranus being the ruler of windstorms and ruling planet of Aquarius.
The day after Tuesday’s sort-of Supermoon, Mercury turns retrograde. He stations at 17 degrees Aquarius and will return to 1 degree Aquarius on February 11, when he goes direct. That means he’ll return to a degree very close to that of the New Moon. We can expect issues that come up this week will go through a back-and-forth process that could take until mid-February to iron out. I’ve already encountered one of those and took a beating. Mercury’s retrograde periods also can bring more communications mix-ups than normal, which is all the more likely given that Mercury is in a sign associated with the Internet – speaking of which, Internet connections could be troublesome. Mine started acting up a little over a week ago. It has been down for hours at a time, and even when’s up, it’s working at the rate of a speeding banana slug. If it was possible for me to write under the influence, I’d have a bottle of gin next to my laptop to dull the pain.
Much love and courage to all,
© Pat Paquette, RealAstrologers.com, 2014.