I REALLY HAD TO LAUGH a few years ago when I saw a full-page ad in the paper whose headline
read, “Celebrate the holidays with Saturn.” While not in the least humorous to the general
public, to an astrologer it is funny in so many ways. The mere idea of having a decent party
with Saturn in the room sounds like the ultimate damper. Imagine your dour, prudish aunt sitting
in the corner chiding everyone not to drink too much or laugh too loudly — and mind the dangers
of seduction! (That would be our current Saturn in Virgo.)
Then there’s the fact that Saturn does have to do with humor, but it is dry, ironic wit. So perhaps
the dour aunt could laugh at herself, her comments made with a wry smirk, knowing they’ll have
their impact anyway. It is irony itself to contemplate Saturn sitting in that party scene in whatever
guise you wish; the juxtaposition of gloom and joy is a pleasure he’d be sure to enjoy. It helps to
recall that the Roman celebration of the winter solstice included the Saturnalia, when master and
slave reversed roles.
This is indeed how we’re ringing in the new year, if you use the secular calendar. Saturn turned
retrograde on December 31, and we can’t forget that it’s still beaming its “joy” to us with extra
strength in the early days of January.
A Sight of Uncommon Beauty This is contrasted with a beautiful sight at sunset these days. If you live in the northern
hemisphere, winter is upon us with its cold nights and higher visibility. It is possible, at least
when it isn’t cloudy, to see four bodies at the beginning of the month in the western sky at sunset.
Closest to the horizon are Mercury and Jupiter. Jupiter is brightest. Further up in the sky — quite
high — is the crescent Moon and Venus twinkling at its most brilliant. Venus is nearing its
apogee as it gets ready to begin its retrograde descent into the Sun on March 6.
The January Overview If we want a new beginning, January’s planets give us the support we need. The month is full of
planetary events with impact. When January starts, the planetary super-group that began in late
November is dispersing. Venus has sped on ahead of the pack, spending most of the month in
Pisces. Mars lags behind, bolstering our actions with effectiveness from its exalted position in
Capricorn. Mercury has moved ahead of the pack, but it will fall back as it starts its first
retrograde of the year on the 11th.
When Jupiter moves into a new sign, it lights up the entire sign and activates all planets in it. In
Aquarius, that includes Chiron and Neptune. It forms part of a new super-group (called a
stellium) that on January 25-26 includes the Sun, Moon, Moon’s Node, Jupiter, Chiron, and
Neptune. (Mercury has retrograded back into Capricorn by that time.) This will usher in the
feeling of the new Jupiter-Chiron and Jupiter-Neptune cycles that will happen later this year.
This feeling is punctuated and infused into our daily lives by the solar eclipse that occurs on this
New Moon. (See Chart B.)
Aquarius in Mega-Doses I hope you like Aquarius energy, because that’s what we’re getting in megadoses for the next two
months. I’ve noticed that Aquarius is a tough archetype to understand because it has so much to
do with macro-social aspects of our daily life. At its core, it is about the balance between the
group and the individual. The group must not be so powerful as to swallow up its members, yet
its members must not be so individualistic as to make the group incohesive. It deals very much
with hidden dynamics of society, which well up in the form of groups that take on a unique
identity. From a group of revolutionary artists to a guild of astrologers to a political party, these
are only the surface manifestations of pools and eddies in the flow of the unconscious collective
mind. Out of that pool emerges our desire to Be Somebody, to express ourselves as unique
Despite the fact that we are social animals and survive by being interdependent with others, the
ability of humans to function in socially is gravely underdeveloped. We have only identified but
not begun to overcome most of the pitfalls of the herd mentality that still tends to take over when
people are in group situations. Group-think is a powerful process undermining the effectiveness
of all social entities, occurring when individuals’ viewpoints are suppressed by group leaders.
It is now known that George W. Bush’s White House was marred by the pressure toward group-think. Dissent, challenge, or any form of unique opinion was not encouraged, even castigated.
Now we get to see if Barack Obama is as open to opposing ideas as he claims. While in many
ways this appears to be true, he seems to be shunning in particular well-respected progressive
experts on the economy. However, the fact that Aquarius is so prevalent at the time of his
January 20 inauguration bodes well for this openness.
Aquarius is at its heart an open sign. It is precisely this sign that is intent upon bringing opposing
viewpoints out so that they can be aired. Aquarius frequently delights in playing the devil’s
advocate, pitting one position against another. They are the consummate debaters. Remember,
though, that this is a fixed sign and so actually resists changes in opinion. This can be good,
because it means that changes made by an Aquarian are tested and long-considered. However, at
times Aquarius can appear to be considering change when they have no intention of enacting one.
We will see both sides of Aquarius in exaggerated form in January and February because so
many planets are going to be in the sign then. However, the Aquarius effect will last for an entire
year, since Jupiter will be there January 5 (2009) – January 17, 2010. It will meet and mingle
with the Healers of the Great Wound, Chiron and Neptune.
Jupiter in Aquarius: Optimism Becomes Hope But, oh the hope! Optimism is Jupiter’s forte, and in futuristic Aquarius, our hope for the future
is revived. Jupiter will conjoin Chiron and Neptune in May, a contact of broken-and-healed
dreams. The last time this occurred was 14 years ago, in January 1997. At that time, we dreamed
a world where anything was possible, and we were careless in what we created. Although a few
new environmental standards were successfully legislated as Clinton began his second term,
deregulation was the order of the day. We could call this period the cycle of deregulation, but
deregulation was gradually unraveling the wise regulatory fabric developed at Bretton Woods in
1944 that held the world economy together and made egalitarian societies possible. (See Capital
Rules by Rawi Abdelal, reviewed by Robert Kuttner.) According to Keynes, the Bretton Woods
Accord, Abdelal (and Kuttner), you have to have regulation, or all the money will flow into
systems where the under-classes are not protected because it’s easier to make money when you
Now, as then, we could throw caution to the breeze (another Jupiter tendency) and forget about
what we’ve learned in the more challenging times of 2008. However, we have some stopgaps to
prevent that. First, the bad news will keep on coming because the cycles with which this news is
associated are longer and deeper than Jupiter’s. Second, we have the evidence of our most recent
difficulties still in front of us — in the form of bills that exceed monthly income, dramatic losses
in investments including retirement funds, loss of equity in our homes, news of corporate
failures, to name a few.
But there is much to be optimistic about. After all, we have a new government that will take (we
hope) a radically new direction from the last immoral, unprincipled, and ineffective one. We
have a near-consensus among people around the world that something needs to be done to save
the planet, and that a new economic direction has to be imagined and created. In the US, we are
seeing the old pioneer spirit and strength coming to the surface as we all tighten our belts and
prepare to endure in hell’s provinces in order to revive the American Dream.
Jupiter will enlarge our experience of hope, our ability to dream, and our healing process, but it
will also magnify our tendency toward pie-in-the-sky illusion and escapism. The drive to escape
will be powerful this year, because there is so much to escape from if we take a short-term view.
This is underlined by the fact that Jupiter will quincunx Saturn three times this year. This will be
reflected in a stop-and-start uncertainty in the universal zeitgeist. However, we need not partake
of it if we are sure of our direction and resources. We will see the stock market blow hot and
cold, and it will take a steady and confident hand on the part of our leaders to manage the
economic roller coaster as Jupiter and Saturn interact in this way.
If we focus on the long-term, we can envision a world where we live more modestly and within
our means, and we can see that happening. The challenge that most Americans think they are
facing is to fight their way back to the lifestyle they had before, or the one they never had but
were striving toward. I don’t think any of us can truly see what the world will look like in five or
ten years, because we have to factor in so many unknowns.
But if we live more closely connected to our spiritual nature, the part of us that is eternal, we will
be less surprised by the direction anything takes. In some ways cultures less sophisticated than
that of America are better prepared because they’ve never learned to depend on high-tech
infrastructure and gadgetry. Their buildings are closer together and their transportation needs are
more modest. However, in other ways they are less prepared because many cultures have less
economic resilience, less to rely on in times of dearth. This underscores the need for us to help
each other. It seems that every culture has a piece of the puzzle that must be put together to come
up with an answer.
This year, we will begin to discover how to dream into existence this new way of being human.
This is what we’ve all been waiting to become, the moment we were born for. Now it’s time to
Key dates in the Jupiter cycle are many, given its rich interactions with the other planets. They
include January 5, January 23-24, March 22, May 15, 23, and 27, June 15, July 10 and 22,
August 14 and 19, October 12, November 10, and December 7 and 21.
Celebrate the New Year with Saturn (& Uranus) As I mentioned at the top, Saturn has just turned retrograde just before the new year began. It is
still stationary, beaming its realism and responsibility to us and giving a sober start to the year.
Saturn is still in Virgo, tracking back through the zone between 22° and 14° during its
retrograde. Planets in these degrees of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces will be particularly
Take note of what occurs in your life around the turn of the year, because that is the thread that
will be played out in the coming nine months. Key dates in this thread will be March 8, May 16,
and June 5. Saturn’s return to forward motion on May 16 brackets the period when we will be
testing our latest plans for success.
This continues a process we began in September 2007, of clearing old unhealthy structures from
our life. It challenges us to use logic, to become more service- and community-minded, and to
honor Planet Earth. Like the dour and prudish aunt, we need a sense of humor and joy in life to
go with this sense of duty. We can’t take ourselves and our drive to perfectionism too seriously.
What Will Mercury Teach Us? Every time Mercury turns retrograde, we get to hear its voice (which we should always listen to)
more loudly in our ears. What will it tell us? This promises to be an interesting retrograde, one
with a long reach, since the Obama inauguration, the yearly Sun-Jupiter cycle, and a solar eclipse
will occur while it is a frame for our experiences.
When Mercury is retrograde in a chart that is “set” for a cycle, such as the inauguration or (for
example) our birth year, we learn something completely new and different. We often find
ourselves plunged into a strange new world. The year that I gave birth to my first child, I had
Mercury retrograde in that birthday (solar return) chart. So, Mercury is going to teach the nation
something it has never known before.
But that does not mean that we will suffer mightily for it. Remember, Mercury is the messenger,
not the source of our challenges. It is carrying the energy this time of Jupiter, Mars, and as always
the Sun. Those energies are brought to us through benign conjunctions. Mars will be in its
exaltation when this occurs.
This is good news. Our lessons will spark new inquiries. We may not have a total and conclusive
solution to some situations, but we will have an inkling of what to do next. It will not be
shocking or unpleasant. (To be precise, if you experience something shocking and/or unpleasant,
it won’t be coming from Mercury.)
For our new president’s first term, he
will certainly be on a steep learning
curve. However, these contacts suggest
that he will learn well and respond
wisely with disciplined and prompt
Mercury’s retrograde ends on January
On to the Next Chapter: The
Solar Eclipse The eclipses are life’s chapter-markers.
When a set occurs (one solar-lunar pair
every 5 ½ months), we are pulled in a
new direction based on developments
in our lives. This eclipse at 6°30
Aquarius occurs near the degree where
Mercury turned retrograde. If you have
placements around this degree in Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, or Aquarius, your life will be more
With the eclipse so close to Jupiter, the emphasis over the next six months is going to be even
more Jupiterian-Aquarian futuristic and progressive. This suggests that, politically, even though
Obama has appointed centrists to his cabinet, he will be asking them to behave progressively. For
the rest of us, it gives us a much-needed boost in our own personal plans for expansion. This will
always come in the form suggested by its placement in your personal chart.
What’s Next? Just around the corner in February is the next opposition of Saturn and Uranus. Never far from
exactitude this year, their precise contacts are still worth noting. They form the dramatic
backdrop upon which we will reflect our experiences through summer 2010, particularly our
economic and political ones. They form the warp and weft of the new economy and are helping
us segue into the new carbon-neutral future we must create.
If we have felt closed in over the past eight years by the energy cloud of inept leadership, we will
be at last freed of that energy, even if it takes a little time for the cloud to dissipate. The unifying
theme of the energies of Jupiter, Chiron, Neptune, and Aquarius is to lift and expand up, out,
away, and forward. We cannot help but feel this in our lives in some way; if we can incorporate it
into our deepest nature, we will become feathers on the breezes of life and be able to float
through the changes and above any obstacles that come our way.
Significant Planetary Events
Saturn is retrograde. Mars is in exaltation. Jupiter is in fall.