After the glitz of Christmas, it’s hard to settle down into a winter and a new year. The rituals connected with the holidays and the year’s turning have left me sensitized, sentimental, and also a little vulnerable.
The first week of 2016 has gone by, and I’m sitting at my desk, staring out at the late-afternoon dusk, and thinking about the rest of the year. So far, 2016 seems lean and still, like the grey and brown landscape out my window. When I see a squirrel or a bird, I feel grateful for that dash of movement.
It feels almost sacrilegious to be speaking out in this winter wrap of silence. It seems to ask for quiet, for acceptance, for humility in the face of its inexorable rhythms. What can I say about the year to come?
At about that moment, writer’s block came crashing down, and I opened facebook. I went to my brother’s page to find out what is going on with him, and he’d posted something about political correctness, and I answered at length from a feminist perspective, and then someone posted a counterpoint to something I said from a transgender perspective and then I wrote a response, and then I thought, what the heck am I doing?, and erased it. Clearly I do not have writer’s block if I can go on like this.
So here I am again, on this page, trying to wrap my brain around 2016. Yes, it looks like we’ll have many of the same old struggles this year. Pluto is about halfway through Capricorn, and so I would say we’re about halfway through what the history books will call the Age of the Corporations. They’ll describe this as the period between 2008 and 2023, when the wealth and power of corporations reached such extremes that a new form of feudalism was created, and then quite suddenly, the whole structure collapsed.
Of course, neither the build-up of corporate power nor the collapse happen alone. Corporate power will be weakened by a great pack of termites, in the form of legal work, revolutionary movements, and political efforts. Notice how I moved from the past tense to the present there. That’s because we’re living it now, this year. But it is useful to keep checking in with a historical perspective, and that’s the gift of astrology – to offer a larger sense of the cycles. Of course, interpretation is always the product of one mind, firmly rooted in her own time.
But 2016 is definitely a year of struggle. The year begins with an angry aspect, the square of Mercury and Mars, as Mercury retrogrades. This can bring up a lot of old blood feuds. Then there’s the Uranus/Pluto square, which has been going on (off and on) since 2012, and it’s in orb during the first three months of this year. It makes for more extremes, a stronger tendency to push and to resist. So throughout this winter, there will be lines drawn in the sand, literally and figuratively. We see this happening right now in Oregon, as a small right-wing attempt at a coup develops.
The other hard aspect this year is the Saturn/Neptune square, and we already saw this in operation in November and December of 2015. It manifested as a surge of fear, mainly directed towards refugees,. It will be back in 2016 for a much longer time, between May and October, so we’ll be dealing with a period of continuing delusions and anxieties.
Archetypically, you can see this Saturn/Neptune square in various ways. One way would be the clash between the old people and the strangers. Saturn represents the established structure of things, guarded by the old people. Neptune represents the stranger: anyone who seems odd, fey, peculiar, or disquieting. Since I’m an old person and can easily disguise any tendency to be peculiar when I’m out in public, I do have to think about my own biases and assumptions. I have to look at what I spend energy preserving.
At the same time, Saturn is the planet of tradition, and the oldest of traditions can be especially valuable, having to do with respecting the earth and practical human experience. Saturn can be about survival. And Neptune can represent mesmerizing fantasies, dreams, and our tendency to lie to ourselves and to distract ourselves with glitter, lights and toys.
Neptune can also be about the pull of religion, the tendency to make up dream figures and then insist that everybody bow before them. Saturn can counter that with knowledge of the earth and its basic laws. As global warming advances, Saturn could be a good defense, since it’s about paring back, cutting back on the waste of resources.
At the same time, Neptune can be about spiritual awareness, the knowledge that there is way more going on than we can take in, with our limited senses. And Saturn can be skeptical, even cynical. Saturn is a planet of winter, and has a hard time recognizing that spring will eventually come.
So in 2016 we’ll work on the interplay between what is established and what is strange, in many different ways. The war between the secular approach and the dogma of religion will have many fronts. People will come to terms with their fear of those who are different, and the gender continuum will become ever more apparent, and unsettling to some folks.
At the same time, there need to be some touchstones, some caution, when it comes to diving into both seductive dreams and alienating hallucinations. We need people who will say, “This isn’t real,” and then we need to talk seriously about whether what we’re seeing is just a stray dream floating into our collective consciousness, or the first dim shadow of a new paradigm.