The sun emerged Sunday afternoon after three days of driving rain and a windstorm that hurled tree branches through the air like missiles. I could hear the cracking as they split off the trunks – a terrifying sound when you live at the bottom of a slope covered in tall trees.
The sun stayed out just long enough for me to go for a short walk. It clouded over again before I was back at my computer, with showers in the forecast for the rest of the week. As I was walking, I was thinking about the approaching winter. We don’t get a lot of snow in the Seattle area, but it’s cold, wet, dark, and dismal. The memory of it begins rising out of my bones right around the first of August, which actually was considered the first day of fall by many ancient cultures. By the time the Sun enters Virgo, it definitely feels like fall here.
We often use weather as a metaphor for our outlook on life in general. In the dead of winter, we can count on spring. It’s built into our DNA. So why don’t we also count on winter following the fall? That should be in our DNA, too, particularly since we’re only a few generations removed from having to gather up the harvest at this time of year and carefully store or preserve it to get through the lean months. Annie sings, “The sun will come out tomorrow,” an anthem of hope that her life will get better, even though she has been in an orphanage all her life and has no reason for optimism. Why should we consider it pessimistic to point out that tomorrow is going to be cloudy and that a dark, depressing winter lies ahead?
Weather and seasonal cycles also are used as metaphors in astrology, typically in Annie-like fashion to provide hope that better times are coming. As someone who has fought depression all my life, I can never be sure if I’m seeing darkness ahead because that’s what’s on the way, or whether I’m “just depressed” and failing to see the silver lining. It doesn’t help that there’s a trend in modern astrology to present everything as positive. Bad Pluto transit? It’s “transformational.” Difficult Saturn transit? You’re releasing negative karma so that your true Self can emerge.
Although I typically don’t follow the herd, I’ve struggled mightily at times to “be more positive” in my forecasts when I didn’t really see it that way. Besides that, my idealist Aquarian nature says “there’s always hope.” If I were to tell readers or clients that the outlook was dim and then in the end things turned out OK, I would have caused them unnecessary anguish. The driving force, though, is the message in our society that we always have to “think positive” and that by not doing so, we are somehow cheating ourselves out of the abundant rewards that come to those who visualize success.
Annie does escape the orphanage against all odds, one of thousands of Hollywood messages feeding into the cultural myth that things always get better, never worse. With this expectation that things are always going to get better, we are unprepared for when they don’t and perhaps even shocked. Many believe it’s their own fault, a view that is built into our socio-economic system and, I believe, deliberately. The result can be depression, alienation, and definitely a failure to “think positive,” which adds another layer of guilt and self-blame.
I finally finished reading “The Dour Astrologer,” a brilliant article in the August/September issue of The Mountain Astrologer magazine. The author, Bruce Scofield (writing as “Durante Montano”), notes the trend in astrology toward putting a positive spin on chart readings. His discussion is in the context of individual consultations, but I apply it to mundane forecasts as well. He wrote:
During the past half-century, it has become common for astrologers to provide clients with information that puts a positive spin on bad aspects. What clients of astrology really need to hear is the bad news. They have to be weaned from the naïve assumption that life must be constantly comfortable and that we always have it within our powers to change things for the better. It is normal to be challenged, blocked, and opposed. Truth is, no amount of magical or positive thinking, rituals, prayers, or amulets will save 97-year-old Grandma from death.
We can’t banish winter by visualizing sunshine. We can’t prevent the natural cycles of the planet or the misery that comes with the inevitable collapse of empires. Over the past several years, and especially since the summer of 2010, I’ve been looking for indications that the worst of the difficult transits were behind us and the pressure would ease up. I knew that 2012-2015 would be difficult but got tired of sounding like a broken record. People always want to know, “When will this be over?” and they don’t want to hear that it’s going to be another year, let alone another decade.
It doesn’t take an astrologer to tell you that we’re living in perilous times. Climate change is a reality, and it may be an underlying factor of global social upheaval. Much has been written about the social implications, including a recent article, “It’s Not Climate Change – It’s Everything Change,” by Margaret Atwood, who outlines three scenarios for a future without oil. The first scenario, the most positive one, is the least likely. Even though there are global initiatives to begin moving toward sustainable development, it’s too late to reverse the near-term effects of climate change, and some of the solutions, while necessary, aren’t going to happen without a class struggle.
What I see ahead for the next decade astrologically is consistent with the forecasts of general trends. The Uranus-Pluto square remains close though the beginning of 2017, and then we’ll feel the aftermath as socio-economic structures continue to disintegrate. In the first half of 2020, Jupiter and Saturn conjoin Pluto in Capricorn, an indication that mass surveillance and corporate control of government could get much worse. In 2022, the United States will face its Pluto return, and three months later, Pluto enters Aquarius for the first time in a two-year period of going back and forth until finally entering Aquarius in 2024 for the next 20 years. The following year, Saturn begins moving toward conjunction with Neptune at 0 degrees Aries. Although it’s possible that a move toward sustainable development will require strong government intervention through strict regulation, it’s not hard to see how corporations that own dwindling resources will have disproportionate power.
The trends we’re seeing now – police shootings, increasing and increasingly shocking acts of violence such as last week’s shooting in Virginia, increasing suicide among those with no hope of a better future – it’s all part of the breakdown. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that individuals won’t be successful or that their current difficulties will last another ten years. I have some clients who are doing exceptionally well, several of them after a long, dry spell. However, we don’t operate in a vacuum. A 53-year-old man with a good education and solid skills can lose his job in a bad economy, and there’s a strong possibility that he won’t find another in his line of work, with comparable pay. “Working with his transits” won’t change that. I mentioned in last week’s forecast that the suicide rate in the United States is by far the highest among white men. The study I cited was reported in some major media, including The New York Times. The writer quoted experts who were a loss to explain the phenomenon – a view that many readers found pathetically out of touch with reality. There were 966 comments, many of them personal stories about loved ones who couldn’t cope with losing their jobs, life savings, and homes (see “Readers’ Picks”).
Last week I provided a link to a review of a book by Adam Phillips, a British psychotherapist who believes that knowing ourselves and fulfilling our life potential aren’t necessarily what we ought to be doing. Moreover, he asserts that frustration is a natural state of being and necessary to growth. This is an interesting concept from my perspective, because helping clients find their life’s purpose is one of my main functions as an astrology. Phillips says forget it.
When you combine the approaches of Phillips and the “Dour Astrologer” with my ten-year forecast, you get a future that looks bleak and even meaningless. In my mind, that’s the reality. We can ignore it and sing about the sun coming out tomorrow, or we can give up in despair, as many have done and will continue to do. Or we can decide how to best live our lives in a broken society on a sick planet filled with imperfect, disappointing people. How do we recalibrate our priorities? Knowing what we know about climate change, how are we going to adapt? Knowing what we know about corporate ownership of our government, what are we going to do to try to change that? Pluto in Aquarius could go either way. It could herald a unified popular movement toward democracy and putting the power back in the hands of the people – which we’ll have to fight for – or it could bring a totalitarian single-party state.
I’ll revisit this theme in future forecasts. For now, let’s look at the rest of this week and next week. Since it’s already Thursday, I’m officially calling this the September 6 forecast (rather than the usual Monday date), but I’ll look at both weeks in depth.
We just passed the Sun’s yearly opposition to Neptune on Monday, as well a conjunction of Venus and Mars in Leo. This was the second in a three-part conjunction due to the retrograde phase of Venus, and it occurred with Venus moving slowly (relative to Earth) as she slows to station and turn direct on Sunday, September 6. You might have experienced confusion Monday in a relationship, with mixed messages about who’s doing what to or for whom. So often, we pretend that we’re thinking of the other person’s welfare or acting selflessly, when really we’re thinking of how we can get that person to do what we want them to do. With Venus and Mars in Leo, it’s about wanting them to pay more attention to us. Questions might have arisen about why two people are together; whether they truly love and care for one another or have a different agenda.
If nothing like that happened for you, then it probably won’t come up. If it did, you could be dealing with a major issue through Sunday or Monday. Venus coming out of retrograde will make a difference, if only in your attitude. A lot of general ickiness should burn off, too.
If you have Libra or Taurus Rising, you should notice some general lightening up of the people and situations around you once Venus returns direct.
On Saturday, September 5, the Sun trines Pluto in earth signs Virgo and Capricorn. If you’re thinking about how you can change your habits and behavior to consume less and be more politically engaged, this is a good day for it. Talk it over with friends or family and bat around some ideas. Being more frugal could save you money, too. I’m a big proponent of thrift stores and consignment shops. I recently saw in a home decor magazine that mismatched dinner plates are in style. That’s what I grew up with, so it’s funny to see it as a hot decorating trend, but it’s a great example of finding creative ways to use what’s available without sacrificing style and beauty (Venus themes). Indeed, the state of the world could change our concept of beauty altogether.
For the week beginning September 7, there are two major astrological events. The first is a trine from Mars in Leo to Uranus in Aries on Tuesday. This is a high-energy aspect favoring creative projects, recreational sports, and lively play with children. Uranus throws in an element of the unexpected. For example, a mountain biking trip could take you to an exciting unexplored place, or a flat tire could lead to a meeting with a new friend. Likewise, you might get a spark of genius that takes a creative project in a new direction or turns it from so-so to brilliant.
Trines typically allow energy to flow easily, but whenever Mars and Uranus get together, there is always a chance that a spark will ignite a fire, in this case one that has nothing to impede it. That can be figurative – for example, it could apply to a budding romance – or it could be literal. Although the rain and cooler weather this week has helped firefighters battling massive wildfires in the West, the fire danger remains high. Uranus rules lightning and electricity, so there’s a higher risk of fires started by lightning or faulty electrical circuits.
On Wednesday, Mercury in Libra squares Pluto. This aspect favors finding information that wasn’t supposed to be discovered (such as, perhaps, e-mails on a private server). The question is whether Mercury in Libra will speak up or remain silent in order to avoid conflict. If the latter, the lid could be blown off when the Mercury-Pluto square is repeated on September 24, the day Pluto returns direct, and again on October 22. Mercury currently is in pre-retrograde “shadow” as he slows to station on September 17.
The biggest event next week is the solar eclipse at the New Moon in Virgo on Sunday, September 13 (late Saturday in Western time zones). It’s only a partial eclipse and peaks over Antarctica, so it’s not powerful as far as eclipses go.
You will feel it most if you have key planets or chart angles from 17 to 23 degrees Virgo or Pisces. If you have planets at those degrees of Pisces, they are being conjoined by Chiron, so you likely already are feeling some pain, possibly physical but more likely emotional pain from a wound that occurred in your childhood or in another lifetime. Or, it could be something in the collective, such as deeply programmed wounds from centuries of ethnic or religious discrimination. If you’ve been unable to pinpoint the source of the distress, this eclipse will open a brief window on it. It likely won’t be comfortable, but if you can sit with the discomfort, you will get insight that cleanses and restores. Sometimes just knowing that “it’s not me” is a big relief.
The opposition of the Sun and Moon to Chiron strongly suggests that there could be some kind of collective purging as well, although it’s hard to envision what that might be. The key is that it will be healing for many. I’m also wondering whether there will be more focus than usual on climate change in the news. The Southern Ocean may contain clues for understanding the Earth’s energy imbalance, the difference between the amount of energy the earth absorbs from the Sun and what it radiates back into space.
Mercury, the ruler of this eclipse, is barely creeping along as he approaches retrograde on September 17. He stations at 15 degrees Libra, but in the eclipse chart, he’s just shy of that, at 14 degrees. The Full Moon lunar eclipse on April 4 was at 14 degrees Libra, which tells me that events around that time will be revisited in some way at this eclipse, possibly coming to an end or resolution. A few world events from around that time that come to mind are Saudi air strikes over Yemen, Iran’s agreement to a nuclear deal, and Hillary Clinton’s announcement of her presidential campaign. Mercury remains in a close square with Pluto, suggesting that “revisiting” could entail the revelation of information that was withheld from the public at the time.
The Sun and Moon are in a wide trine to Ceres, the dwarf planet I consider to be co-ruler of Virgo. I’m still trying to get a firm grip on the meaning of Ceres, both for individuals and for mundane events. She seems to be associated with the environment, including issues surrounding global climate change. She also has been in a dominant position in charts for major events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. I suspect that she has something to do with the cyclical nature of certain events in our lives, including those that repeat across lifetimes. At the New Moon, Ceres is in Capricorn, the sign of limitation, and it’s associated with winter in the Northern Hemisphere. There’s also some suggestion here of the physical relationship between humans and the planet. A simple example is the impact of depleted soil and chemical fertilizers on the food supply. Maybe it’s no accident that so many of us are tired all the time and dependent on chemicals of one sort or another.
In the eclipse chart, Jupiter opposes Neptune by just under 1 degree. The opposition will be exact on the 16th, but it can be felt a week on either side. Before Neptune was discovered in 1846, Jupiter was considered the ruler of Pisces. Some astrologers consider them as co-rulers. In any case, Neptune is strong in Pisces, and the planet and sign also are affiliated with the 12th house. Among other things, they rule the collective unconscious, mental health, addictions and addictive substances, drugs both legal and illegal, epidemics, spiritual practices, and compassion for the less-fortunate. Jupiter in Virgo is not strongly placed. Jupiter is about unrestrained growth and expansion, while Virgo is frugal, orderly, and detail-oriented. The resulting frustration could express itself as digestive ailments, perhaps an outbreak of E. coli or a stomach virus.
The Lunar Nodes are sitting at 0 degrees Libra and Aries (where Saturn and Neptune will next conjoin). They’ll enter Virgo and Pisces in mid-November.
Before I sign off, I want to thank everyone who left comments and wrote personal notes following last week’s forecast. I haven’t answered them all yet but will try to do so soon.
I leave you with scenes from a quirky 1983 film that includes a mysterious ongoing reference to Virgo. (Unfortunately the quality of these clips isn’t great, but it’s amazing they’re available at all.)
Wishing you all much love and courage,
© Pat Paquette, RealAstrologers.com, 2015.