HAVE YOU NOTICED how dense it can be on this planet? The weighty energetic quality comes in several forms: the unwieldy nature of physical reality; the often foggy, sleepy quality of human consciousness; our obsession with the past; our burning need to conform to what others think we should do; and the peculiar way something done twice turns into a habit and anything said twice turns into the truth.
Then all of a sudden that heavy quality can vanish. Patterns that resisted change for years or decades yield to some mysterious force. Doorways open, opportunities emerge, synchronicity begins to dance and, by no conscious act of will, we can find ourselves living in a different reality.
With all things Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces coming under the microscope in 2009 and well beyond, we are going to see change of a kind that Barack Obama’s campaign writers could not even imagine. Science does not, as yet, acknowledge the realities that the astrological signs represent: the energy patterns in the background of existence that provide the rough blueprints for the world we live in. These patterns can change, but they don’t change easily. Usually, the agents of change are represented by planets. For the foreseeable future, the planets involved are Chiron, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto: the very gods of change themselves.
Let’s organize the discussion by sign, taking Capricorn first. Families often try to push us into making the same mistakes they did; or we feel a massive guilt trip come on if we don’t do what we think they expect us to do. Let’s give this a name: ancestral guilt. A famous astrologer once accused me of overblowing the importance of guilt as a spiritual issue because I’m Italian. Then for the next decade I observed my friends and clients and noticed that it’s not just us gumbas (and our Jewish cousins) who have a guilt issue; it is the entire western world. (I’ve never been to Asia, but I bet you a quart of fried rice that it exists there too.) The slightest proposed digression, the least notion of doing things one’s own way, the meekest desire to challenge authority or experience an unauthorized pleasure, often are met with the sting of guilt.
Enter Pluto into Capricorn, long awaited, long revered, and the previous birthplace of the Declaration of Independence. Pluto sometimes manifests as Shiva, sometimes as Dionysus, and sometimes (in modern spiritual terms) as the force of the soul coming through. Either archetype will work in this case, if we are looking for something more powerful than the obsessive power of self-accusation. Persistent thought patterns of the past getting dismantled or, for the bolder and more adventurous, celebrated out of existence with the awareness that we are alive now. The people whose bones we walk around on, rather than a source of reluctance, are generally cheering us on. Our real ancestors — the dead ones — know the mistakes they made, investing so much energy in negativity, fear and trying to hold back the next generation. Pluto in Capricorn is urging us to tap into this ancestral power source. It is the opportunity break down the preconceptions we’ve had installed in our minds and free up some energy.
This transit is coming with considerable fear, from astrologers and prognosticators of many stripes and shades. We’re hearing many predictions of the rise of fascism under this transit; of the crumbling of society; of the worst times ever. What ever happened to the New Age? Down the block from me, two guys are writing a book called The Greatest Depression, predicting that it’s all gonna come crashing down, causing enormous misery and mayhem and then maybe eventually we will have a renaissance. We will, unless we return to being hunter-gatherers.
Notice the sense of punishment encrypted in this thinking, and very little sense of creativity and adventure. The “news,” for its part, is pumping out so much economic pessimism that people are afraid to go out for lunch. We track (or are subjected to) the rise and fall of the stock market as if our lives depended on it, and this is utterly ridiculous. In the horoscopes that follow, and the longer version of Next World Stories, I do my best to offer tools for how to take this transit into your own hands and make something out of it.
Next is the conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune in Aquarius. Neptune in Aquarius, which we’ve lived with for a decade, is about the public going into the kind of haze as if there were Prozac in the water (there is) or as if we were all connected to the Internet Matrix in Red Pill fashion. We live in another reality; we have friends we don’t know, who we recognize by their avatar; we take the BlackBerry or the iPhone to bed (it makes a good alarm clock and toasts our dreams with microwaves, meanwhile).
Chiron, a planet that is about raising awareness and going through a conscious healing process, has been slowly gaining on Neptune the past four years. This has served to wake us up, gradually; awake enough (at least) not to elect Sarah Palin president-to-be. And I would add, awake enough during these past four years to convert a lot of people who would normally be media consumers into Internet contributors (bloggers, YouTube filmmakers and so on) — which is exactly, precisely what we need: active participation, the assertion of individuality and the authentic search for community and common ground.
Chiron and Neptune are very close to a long-anticipated (by me, anyway) conjunction. It only makes a very close near-miss this year (in late May, accurate to one degree) but the process is accelerated and magnified by Jupiter in Aquarius aligning with both Chiron and Neptune. What have we here? A magnificent opportunity to be yourself and find your true peers, which I suggest you get out of digital form and into physical form. Yes, do that very dangerous thing and use the Internet to meet people in real life. Try not to have them be only in Timbuktu. Try for within one-hour travel time, or even walking distance. Let’s turn the world to Burning Man and manifest the Internet on the ground, in physical form. Read your blogs at the local coffee house open mic.
Last but not least, we have the continuing opposition of Saturn and Uranus, across the Virgo-Pisces axis. Uranus in Pisces is about sparking up the imagination and our sense of what is possible on the material plane. This has been going on for a while, but the more recent, and ongoing, opposition from Saturn in Virgo gives us something to push back against, like a swimmer propelling herself off the pool wall in a race. Yes, it represents a solid object, a kind of obstacle, but it’s also something to work with: actual material with which to construct those Uranus in Pisces visions of what you could be and consequently, what the world could be. The next world: the one we are creating.
Yours & truly,
Aries (March 20-April 19)
Ambition, focused and urgent, seems to be the most significant theme of your charts, but you know better. Your calling to succeed is so potent as to be humbling; as to make you wonder whether you can do it at all, and you need to burn that doubt like fuel. This is a special phase of your life, wherein you will orbit closer to your outer destiny than perhaps ever before, and even make direct contact. What you accomplish in the highly eventful early part of the year may indeed open the way for what you create during an extended phase of your life. This being said, try not to judge your achievements or lack thereof; your impulses are likely to be far greater than your ability to actually do all that you want to do; and I strongly suggest that you keep in mind just how long of a process we are talking about with Pluto in Capricorn. My Godmother, an unusually patient specimen of an Aries (born 04/04/1904), was fond of saying that Rome was not built in a day; you might want to use a photo of the Coliseum as your desktop image to remind you of this. I also suggest you remember that, though your push energy is running strong, you are being drawn to something as well. That something involves your human environment, a factor that is rapidly developing though the shape of which you may not yet see. The beauty of this process is that you are, gradually but very steadily, finding out who you are through an ever-clearer reflection developing in those around you. They can see something you cannot; and as you begin to open your eyes, you will become what you have been missing.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
For a while, trying to figure out how writing careers work, I read a lot of Wiki pages on authors. I began to see a pattern. Many of them were unknown nobodys until one day they were somebody really special. Before and after, they brushed their teeth and took their coffee with however many sugars. Their cat did not notice the difference (but cats are smart, so you never know). But the recognition came, often after a long, exasperating delay. Why it came when it did was often a matter that could, at least, be identified in their astrology: they had one of the five of six big transits of their lifetime. You now have such a transit developing; in fact, several of them. While you are waiting the relatively short time for this to happen, you have a little time to make up your mind about a few things, such as what is possible. Your job is not to conquer anything or make anything happen or even to get people to notice you. Rather, in my view, it is to adjust your beliefs to the point where you at least concede anything is possible, evidence of which you can find by (for example) looking at the career trajectories of people who are doing some version of what you want to do the most. While you are noticing the at times comical befores and afters, notice the core theme, which is that most of them were doing exactly what they wanted to do the most when this elusive thing known as success transformed their lives. Also notice the pattern of how incredibly insecure many of the most luminous people have been throughout the ages, and perhaps stop using this as an excuse to convince yourself of what is not possible.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Did you ever take a sociology class where the professor explained that there are two kinds of power — formal and informal? An example of formal power is the prison warden. Informal power is the bull goose inmate, who really runs the place because people respect and resonate with him. At this point in your life, it’s imperative that you learn the difference between the two, both as someone who is subject to them, and as someone who may wield either. In reality, we respond to informal power, because it’s based on a human factor; how we feel; who we like; how a person talks to us. This works in group settings and also in the most intimate personal relationships. You are in a reorientation process, a phase of your life where you are adapting to a new mental posture and also a new understanding of how and why people respond to you the way they do. If you are running up against old obstacles, now is the time to clear them out, particularly what are called ancestral patterns. You are the heir to a very old set of ideas about marriage, sex and partnerships. Your breezy, open-minded mental approach to the world conceals a much deeper involvement with the ways of the distant past, indeed, a profound notion that there is just one way to do things: the way it’s always been done. It is time for a new way, if for no other reason than the previous ones were not getting you what you need. In short, they left little room for negotiation, and even less space for people, yourself included, to simply be themselves rather than who we are all expected to be. The antiquated, useless ways of history will yield to the present more gently than you may imagine.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
We typically live with an annoying, disturbing lack of directness in our relationships, and our attempts at relationships. Whether we fall for the indoctrination or not, most people are taught to lie casually, conceal important aspects of their reality, omit significant experiences of how we feel and to report our personal history selectively. Then, we wonder why we draw so little satisfaction from what we call intimacy. I’ve noticed that one reason for all the smoke and mirrors is that many people you meet feel they lack substance. Heck, you might even feel that way sometimes. When met by a person we perceive to have a little soul fire going on, or a little more vitality than we’re accustomed to, the typical response is to bob and weave, a strategy designed to conceal how empty we feel; how powerless; how needy. Another typical response is to attempt to control the person we perceive as alive and substantial, rather than allowing ourselves to rise to the occasion of life. I could not think of a more profound waste of time, except maybe a war. Many of us live it out (on one side of the equation or the other) every single day. Pluto entering your opposite sign Capricorn indicates a profound change in your relationship patterns, particularly the ones that have gone on so long you thought you would never experience anything different. The thing is this: you cannot use your old response patterns, nor can you walk around with the same expectations of how people are going to approach you. Ideally, you would respond to everyone you meet directly and boldly; and you would have no expectations at all. It may not be possible to forget the past, but it’s that much easier when you have an occasion to remember how alive you feel right now.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
The question is not what you think is possible, but rather how you think it will manifest. I suggest you keep two things in mind. The first is the concept of leverage. There was a time before this simple idea existed. You need to make difficult things easier using your existing resources; it’s all a matter of how you arrange them. One of those resources is time. The premium on working with time more efficiently, and with more flexibility, is vital now; you tend to be something of a prisoner of this strange, invisible medium. What you have probably not figured out yet is that it has a way of bending to your will, if you apply your attention. Another vital source of time is other people. As a Leo, you are way too accustomed to going it alone; your tendency to take full responsibility makes you someone who resists delegating responsibilities. However, the dominant theme of your charts for this year and indeed the next two years is how you work with and within groups. It is essential that you step outside your individual consciousness, and your sense that if you don’t do it, nobody else will. Your responsibilities are moving to a higher, more meaningful level. It is true, it can be a real waste of time expecting others to do things they are unwilling or unable to do; and you have little patience for those who do things less effectively than you do. The goal to set is finding people to do things who are better than you are. A second goal is striving for cooperation. Group efforts are cumbersome only to the degree that they lack a conscious desire to coordinate. It is you who must focus that effort, be discerning and work with a clear agenda articulated in a way that makes supporting your ideas irresistible.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You are now under the influence of astrology that will entice you to do things you’ve never done before; to take risks that are completely alien to your usual cautious, rule-regulated frame of reference; and most of all, to let go of the hangups that have, in essence, become your personal religion. It is a religion based almost entirely on the precedents of what you think of as the past. Astrologers learn that for most of humanity, “the past is the present,” because we carry it around with us, often unconsciously, until it becomes so heavy that we finally have to lay it down. This, after wondering why we were so enamored of it in the first place: a question you need to ask yourself every day. This is particularly true in your relationships. Even if you live some form of serial monogamy, leaving behind one situation and picking up the next, what you have accumulated is an energy field full of what we could call esoteric karma. It’s the feeling of not being able to locate, much less find yourself, in the present. It’s also the feeling of your vitality being inaccessible. So far as I can see, this is all a kind of ruse for avoiding actual passion. It’s necessary to surrender to being driven by passion. From the outside, it looks like a person seizing their destiny, doing what they love, making bold choices. In reality, one must be totally submissive to the creative process if it’s to mean anything at all. One literally gives oneself over; you give yourself; you let go. You know this, on some level, and you also know that it clashes mightily with your obsession with control. Think of how many opportunities you have lost because of your love affair with control. Consider how little it has given you. Think of what else you love, and how much you want it.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Our world has been living through a long, painful addiction to security for the past decade. This doesn’t seem to be getting any better as so-called economic “news” dominates our mental bandwidth. Security includes an obsession with privacy in a world where every word we write or picture that we send (for example, in an email) is archived and duplicated many times around the world, accessible to anyone who wants it badly enough — as if they do. We are conditioned to live like the world is going to end tomorrow (without the fun you would expect, were that really true). I suggest you teach yourself to live as if you’re being born today. You are someone with a native gift for survival, but this has grown extremely old. What’s difficult to see is how the survival trip, yours and so many others, are born of something more properly classified as emotional than environmental. Safe or unsafe is a feeling; consider all the moments when you were perfectly safe but felt horribly threatened. Remember the times you were loved but felt abandoned. And how about all those episodes when you thought your door was unlocked. You are being called to let go of some profound insecurity, which in truth has nothing to do with you personally, except for the fact that you inherited it. And you are being beckoned to broader horizons as a creative person, as a thinker, as a social visionary. That implies its own kind of risk, but I assure you that it’s got nothing to do with the world’s prevailing paranoia. If you want the rewards, you need to teach yourself about safety. You need to remember that to give up isolation, you need to take the risks of contact. To be free, it is necessary to give up being trapped.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
In recent years, groups and communities of various kinds have played such a diversity of roles in your life, you may not know what to think. I see them showing up as islands of hope and idealism, as blatantly deceptive, as points of crisis, as things that are designed to make you feel secure but really have the opposite effect…and about 12 more permutations on reality. A crucial one has been to focus your process of actually finding and making peace with your identity, in particular, with how different you are. You may finally be noticing matters gradually improving: that is, you are, at least, getting the hint of a clue about the nature of this odd karma around collective energy. In some ways it seems you are searching for the family you never had; families are often a substitute for the tribe or village we never had, and (at least in the United States) could not until recent years hope to reconstruct. Society is changing fast, and it is doing so partly by necessity and partly as a consequence of humans realizing that life is not a long ride alone in an SUV. The turning point this year involves putting group or tribal energy to work for you. For too long, you have made one sacrifice after another, hoping to build, create or establish some sense of a world around you. There is only so far that an individual can go, doing this on their own. Beyond a certain point, the collective you are working to connect, create or awaken must come into its own, and there is very little that one person can do except be a focus of awareness and stay out of the way. That — and look for the benefits that are available, and promise yourself that you’ll enjoy them.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You have been driving yourself so hard for so long, I don’t think you’ve even measured the astonishing distance you’ve crossed. For now, you’ve come just exactly far enough. Ambition, success, expansion, staking territory — you can pause all these things and let nature take its course. The time has arrived for a phase of soul searching wherein you don’t assume you already know the answers, and where you set aside what you want to be the answers. The question is less about what you value and more about why you value life at all. You excel at masking profound self-doubt with an aura of success or ambition. I think you will find that there is more power in not knowing than there is in knowing, or in feigning certainty: even about the smaller things. I suggest you hold your interior space open and not content yourself with making plans that do not relate to any circumstance that is not immediately summoning you. Hold it open, empty and wide, and guard it for a time, recognizing that a space of inner liberty is a spiritual gift that is not to be squandered. As the practical mystic Alan Watts wrote more than half a century ago, “There is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied. You cannot talk yourself into it or rouse it by straining at the emotions or by dedicating yourself solemnly to the service of mankind. Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. This conviction will not come through condemnations, through hating oneself, through calling self-love bad names in the universe. It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love.” Mr. Watts may or may not be right, but it’s surely worth considering.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Do you need all the emotional barricades that you think protect you? What exactly do they protect you from? This is the question that is so infrequently asked. A Course in Miracles goes so far to suggest that we question why we have locks on our doors. It doesn’t advise removing the locks, but rather asking specifically against whom they exist; and why we think they protect us. Barricades, locks and bolts are all forms of boundaries. So too is psychological armor; and secrecy; and this thing so casually called compartmentalization. Pluto has made its way into your sign. While every astrologer on the planet debates or ponders the meaning of this on a global scale, let’s consider how this is going to clear the way to making you a more accessible person. The transit of Pluto in your sign represents a complete shift in your worldview and your perception of yourself (Capricorn Moon and rising included). Something is being dismantled, a something that was, in a sense, installed into you from birth, or rather long before birth: it came along with your DNA and what some call a karmic inheritance. It is this same something that is coming under a process of enforced change for many people around you, though for few of them so directly as it is affecting you. Look around and you’ll notice the same thing, taking more abstract forms. The beauty of the moment is that you are being compelled to question every assumption you’ve ever had about yourself. You will see how these assumptions push you out of reach of the people who love you and more importantly, who you love. They form a latticework of denial of your most basic truth. As has been written before, you don’t need to seek the truth — only that which obscures it.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
An identity crisis is a beautiful thing, if you notice. It’s too bad they are mandated out of existence by our peers, parents and advertising, all of whom are so certain of who we are and who we must not be. I suggest you commit to keeping yours going for as long as you can. I know it’s exhausting at times, and if you’re sincere about finding out who you are, you cannot play the game of being disappointed that you got laid off from a job you hate. Being an Aquarian, you might think that the usual tension that exists between you, the world and its ridiculous pronouncements about life would be enough to keep the mystery going. Remember that Aquarius is a fixed sign and its energy strives to crystallize in a pattern. This is the individualist/conformist thing you struggle with so much of the time; the wish to be normal and the desire to smash normal like crystal with a bat. Your current process is gentler, though it doesn’t always feel that way. There are many factors conspiring not only to dissolve the known patterns, but also the ones you cannot see. This is the world of the unconscious; the world of dreams; those secret psychic closets wherein our most guarded secrets reside, including the ones we keep from ourselves. Are they coming out in your dreams lately? And speaking of dreams, in the other sense of the word, do you feel like some of those are evaporating, or crumbling? Let them go: old ones, the dead ones, the tired ones. Set free the part of you that knows no bounds: nothing else can rightfully be called dreams. If you have to dream them alone, so be it. If they call on you to summon your courage, let it out. If you have no words, say it some other way: till you get it yourself.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
You have discovered that, looked at one way, your life is a series of negotiated agreements. If these agreements are living commitments among living entities, they will change and grow over time, to the benefit of everyone involved. Looked at another way, your life is a commitment to yourself, which (because you are alive) is something that changes every day. Uranus is in your birth sign now, and it’s reaching a peak as it makes a series of oppositions to Saturn in your relationship house. This setup is about you refusing to compromise on the most basic realities of your nature. I trust you’re seeing how much pressure you and the rest of us are under to give up the wild parts of who we are, the passionate ones, the daring and the creative, the truly organic. Consider the idea that your persistence about who you are ultimately helps everyone with whom you exchange energy. This face may be obscured by your cloud of Piscesan guilt that rolls in from the sea every now and then, though if it’s true that everyone gains, then you have nothing at all to regret, deny or feel remorse over: and this can be a tricky lesson to master. Meanwhile, noticing the prevailing state of the world has given you something to push back against, to refine your inner vision and most of all, to strengthen your determination and soulful quality. Step by step, you have maneuvered into a position where the only option is revolution. You know this, but more than this being about knowledge, your existence has become dominated by a will to exist, even in the face of those who so often seem too terrified to dare. You know who I am talking about, and you also know that you’re no longer on this journey alone. Indeed, look around and you will see that you have gathered some mighty companions. Listen and you will hear this is how they feel about you.