Friday, December 31, 2021



It’s the last day of the year 2021, and I’m looking out the window on a grey, rainy day. My wife and I have been celebrating the holidays here with our usual eclectic traditions, accompanied by her brother, our nephew, and a good friend. We’ve feasted, we’ve laughed and made really bad puns, we’ve hung out and talked to each other, we’ve argued about the end of the world, and we’ve sung a wide assortment of Venezuelan and Unitedstatesian Christmas carols, harmonizing along with loved ones in different cities, as they peer out of little zoom windows.    


We had theatre tickets, but the play was cancelled due to Covid. I feel hermetically sealed, but my brother-in-law regularly dons his mask and braves the outside world, buying brackets and bulbs and all sorts of useful little doowatchits. Whenever he visits us, he fixes things, and this year it seems to be mostly about adding more light to our world.  It’s very welcome.


January is a practical month, a good month for repairing, structuring, formalizing, organizing. I know that that covers a great many of our New Year’s resolutions!  There are four planets in Capricorn when the month begins, and four again when it ends, so we can all access the pragmatic, systematic, self-controlled energy of this sign.  Can I say that this would be a good month to Build Back Better?  My sense is that the bill will be taken apart, and some parts of it will be passed. It’s not the optimum, but we take what we can. All these Capricorn planets indicate slow but durable progress, and I’ll go with that.


In 2021, much of the conflict came from the radical right, as they struggled to recapture and solidify an outmoded power structure. Of course, this will still be going on in 2022, since power is never given up easily. But I believe that there will be a loss of foot-soldiers on the conservative side.  People battling a deadly virus, or watching their loved ones fall, don’t really have a lot of time for rallies. And the right wing is weakened by Trump’s continuous whining and obsessions, and his in-fighting with other conservatives.


At the same time, people need community, and the Trump cult has given them that, strange as it seems to those of us who find community in other ways. Cults exist because people want a sense of belonging. This isn’t going to go away anytime soon, not in our current robotically capitalist system. As long as we treat people like dispensable cogs in a wheel, they will find ways to rebel, and they’ll look for comrades. The choice of enemy at that point is almost random. Racism has a long tradition in the US, so it’s the time-tested way to designate scapegoats. It makes people feel secure when they hate the same people their parents and grandparents hated.  And so Trump hung his hat on the White Man peg, as so many others have done before him.


But as the demographic changes in the US, and as new ideas germinate, this stance seems not just cruel but calcified. Saturn now in Aquarius encourages people to wake up and think, rather than reacting automatically.  And in 2022, there are fewer indications of struggle than in 2021. This doesn’t mean everything will be peaceful, especially since the Saturn/Uranus square will be strong again in the fall. But some battle-weariness could fall over everyone, especially those on the right who are trying so hard to go backwards.


One thing that’s changed in 2022 is that Jupiter has entered a new sign, Pisces, although it will only be here through the first half of May.  Still, Jupiter is much gentler and more aware in Pisces. It’s a sign of imagination, fantasy, compassion, and emotional sensitivity. In January, these Piscean tendencies are not as noticeable, with the more realistic Capricorn influence predominating.  We’ll notice it most in March, when the sun and Mercury join Jupiter.  


Pisces is a very spiritual sign, so I expect that more people will be meditating, praying, looking for signs and portents, and going in for bouts of religious fervor. There’s a strong overlap between religion and the capacity for fantasy, so it may be that new gods and goddesses will be created. Probably some of them will be ordinary human beings. One of the dangers of Jupiter in Pisces is that the public are more easily manipulated, because of the longing to believe, to trust, and to belong. Some folks could make use of these natural human longings, raising them to a fever pitch. We will all need to share and spread a kinder understanding of cosmic unity, involving mutual care and acceptance.


The best thing about Jupiter in Pisces is that there’s a great deal of creative energy here. Jupiter here enlarges our capacity to dream, to send our thoughts out into a realm in which all things are possible. When we return from this place, we can bring home wonderful images, feelings, and inspirations. Yes, there will probably be more outlandish conspiracy theories. But there will also be openings, new ways of perceiving our fellow human beings as well as the other creatures on this planet.  This can be what unites us, what brings us together, on a very deep level.  On this level, there is peace.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Venus and Pluto


Last night, my wife and I went to get our booster shots. When we went into the community college building where the shots were given, Venus was bright in the western sky.  And yet I knew she had an invisible companion, Pluto.  


Inside the building, it was clean, plain and orderly. It was staffed mostly by young women, and we were directed efficiently towards a table and poked with syringes. Then we had to wait fifteen minutes on folding chairs, to make sure there were no side effects, and then we were out in the parking lot again. Venus had set by this time. We congratulated each other on having done it, and drove home past houses decorated with lights. People are celebrating Christmas, Hannukah, and the solstice.     


Venus is the evening star these days, a brilliant beacon every night after sunset. She lingers because she’s about to turn retrograde - on December 19, at 5:35 am EST. She’ll be in apparent backwards motion until late in January. Venus’ retrograde motion tends to freeze new romantic possibilities, and sometimes take us back to old lovers, old pleasures, and old stories. We have to recover some forgotten happiness. And through almost all of December, Venus will be closely conjunct Pluto, planet of power and transformation.  


Venus is the planet of love, beauty, and pleasure, and her role is to brighten people’s lives. She gives us the respite of laughter. In this world of surprising beauty, she’s generous with all her gifts, and everywhere we turn, we find people longing for love. In natal charts, her work is to keep you happy, to help you find sources of joy and fulfillment, so that you can deal more easily with the more demanding parts of your life.


Archetypically, Venus is the Maiden, the sprightly young woman who dances through her days, flower-bedecked and free. Yes, it’s true, Venus is on the femme side! And of course, young men can express themselves through this archetype as well, if they’re more into being lovers than fighters.  And Venus is still part of your chart when you grow old, so there are always ways to enjoy life, to revel in the light and color around us, to giggle uncontrollably, to flirt, to fall in love.


But yes, it’s young women who mainly carry the Venus archetype. Those young women giving the booster shots were pretty focused, and that makes sense, since Venus is currently in the practical earth sign Capricorn. Young women are taking themselves seriously these days, thinking about their futures, taking on weighty roles in the community.


And even though Venus is the planet of pleasure, being a young woman is often very tricky in our society. They are constantly rated according to social standards of beauty, and all but a few find themselves lacking. They are considered the epitome of innocence, and yet continually sexualized. This is the time of life when women learn what they can’t do:  walk alone at night, walk alone in any deserted place even in the day, trust strange men, leave a drink unattended, smile too little or too much. Suddenly, they face dangers that they never faced before.    


Pluto’s archetype is the Stranger, the part of everyone that’s kept hidden, repressed, denied. You can imagine Pluto in a deep hooded cloak, coming out of the shadows and taking Venus’ hand. Just in writing this, I shiver, and reach for a shawl to drape around my shoulders. Is this a side effect of the booster?  No, I think it’s a side effect of the things I’ve been reading lately about the Supreme Court, the testimony given, the questions and comments from the justices, and the threat of women losing abortion rights. I know this won’t be decided till the spring, but we remember why these justices were put forward in the first place.


And so young women will have to give up one more major life choice. If they are brave or independent or foolish enough to walk in the dark, if they get attacked, they’ll now have one less option in handling a pregnancy that might result. If they are careless and exuberant, and follow an impulse to make love with someone, they’ll now have to live with the results of that for the rest of their lives.


Pluto is currently close to the end of its sign, Capricorn, and in many ways, we’ve seen the world become more conservative, more authoritarian, and more racist and sexist. It’s true that we had our first Black president, but the backlash to that was immediate and severe. The right wing worked on its ability to block progress, to promote lies and conspiracies, and (mostly) to maintain all economic power in a small group. At this point, thanks to gerrymandering and the Electoral College, we have minority rule in this country, and the current Supreme Court is the most obvious example of that.


Pluto leaves Capricorn for good early in 2024, and enters Aquarius, and that’s when I see this trend changing, and a more egalitarian and progressive society coming into being. It will take a big collective push to move things in that direction, and we’ll be dealing with global warming (and a deluge of climate refugees) at that point. But I’m hopeful.  And I don’t think the next two years, with Pluto still in Capricorn, will be wasted either. The pandemic dismantled and simplified some systems, and they may be replaced by something that works better and makes more sense. I’m already seeing that happen in some places.


In December, we also see the third and last pass of the Saturn/Uranus square, an aspect which has brought a lot of outrage and rebellion into the public discourse, all through 2021.  Mostly, reason has prevailed, and more people have been vaccinated than not. But there’s been constant pushback, much of which has seemed irrational. Weird conspiracy theories have proliferated, and these may become even more evident when Jupiter enters the mystical sign Pisces at the end of December. People are going to believe what they want to believe. And everybody else wants to laugh at them, which is why the media is always spotlighting the latest crackpot theory.


While all that is going on, we need to look in the shadows, and see what Pluto is doing to Venus. The goddess of love and beauty has enough stumbling blocks in this world, without the Stranger coming after her. And yet, haven’t we seen this scenario before, in ancient mythology?  Who was left to cry when Persephone was abducted? Maybe this time, Demeter’s tears will be longer than just a winter, but will disrupt the crops for decades to come. They could even signal the end of human life. Maybe this time, when young women lose their power, we all need to rise up and shout.