FROM THE CANCER SOLSTICE TO THE LIBRA EQUINOX
Welcome to my astrological thoughts for June to September 2009. One of the cardinal points of the year is at hand: the Sun will reach its northernmost declination on June 21. Astrologers describe this event as the Sun entering the Sign of Cancer.
The Precession of the Equinoxes is caused by a slow wobble of the Earth’s axis which carries the panoply of the constellations with it, in a backward motion, at the rate of one degree every 72 years. Due to this motion the constellation of Cancer is not anymore with the Sun at this time of the year. For western astrologers the zodiacal Signs have in fact no other than a symbolic connection with the actual constellations, being related instead to the seasonal cycle, and the Sun’s increasing and decreasing declinations.
The fact that the Signs and Constellations are not quite the same things have been one of the most powerful weapons in the hands of people, academic and lay men, who want to discredit Astrology. This is indeed a false problem for astrologers, but also an Achilles’ heel if they are unable to explain the difference. All we need to make clear is that the Tropical Zodiac is what we use to measure the astrological year and the planetary motions. We don’t determine the position of Sun and Planets on the backdrop of far away, uneven and eternally shifting constellations (Sidereal Zodiac).
The Constellations themselves have an important part to play in a more cosmic, less Earth centred Astrology. The precession of the Equinoxes is completed in around 26.000 years, a full astrological cycle, which includes all the twelve constellations which lay along the Earth’s ecliptic (progressing backward through each Sign in around two thousand years). It is with reference to this cycle that we talk of entering or have entered, in the last decades of the twentieth century, the Age of Aquarius.
Considering the great importance of Cancer in the yearly cycle (Solstice), it is curious to notice that the Cancer constellation is instead a rather faint one (the ‘most inconspicuous figure in the Zodiac’, according to the classic Stars’ Lore author Richard Hinckley Allen), Cancer is hardly discernible in the night sky between the easily recognizable twin stars of Gemini (Castor and Pollux) and the well defined and imposing Lion of Leo, with its bright alpha star Regulus, one of the royal stars of ancient Mesopotamia. Cancer is noteworthy mainly because of the Praesepe nebula (large group of very far away stars, seen as a fuzzy luminosity in the heart of the constellation). The name Praesepe means ‘manger’ in Latin. It is easy to equate this image with the nurturing qualities attributed to Cancer. The Crab constellation was also known as the Beehive, bees readily reminding us of the home making ability of Cancerian people; as well as Scarab in Egypt, symbol of eternal renewal and self fertilizing power; and Tortoise in Babylon, another creature like the crab who carries its home on its back, is slow and cautious and has a vulnerable, soft interior.
Despite its association with this apparently modest constellation (we should not underestimate the importance of the mysterious nebula in its core though), Cancer is one of the Cardinal Signs of the Zodiac, marking a very important time every year, beginning a new season, spurring people into all sort of new activities and enterprises, providing a sense of purpose and direction for the coming months, deciding the destinies of nations as well as individuals.
According to Chaldean Magicians and Platonist philosophers Cancer was the ‘Gate of Men’, through which souls became embodied. And the ancient Akkadians called it the ‘Northern Gate of the Sun’, because of its proximity to the northern zenith.
This 2009 Cancer Solstice is marked by the opposition Sun-Pluto, this planet having retraced its steps back to the naught degree of Capricorn, just in time for a rendezvous with the Sun on the Solstice point. This is a sort of repeat of what happened in December 2008, at the Capricorn Solstice, when the Sun was conjunct Pluto.
In particular those Cancer people born early in their Sign (June 21 to 23), but also Capricorn (21 to 23 December), Aries (20 to 22 of March) and Libra (22 to 24 September) will feel the direct impact of this life changing transit. Nothing new, Pluto has been probing the soul of the Cardinal Signs since early in 2008. Surely something has already shifted or is shifting, transforming the way they view themselves and others. Recognizing one’s own dark side is an essential function of a plutonian crisis. In Man and his Symbols , Jung explained the all important need to integrate the shadow better than anyone I know: “We cannot simply extract (a person’s) morbidity (read neurosis, psychosis, depression and all psychological issues) like a foreign body, lest something essential be removed along with it, something meant for life. Our task is not to weed it out, but to cultivate and transform this growing thing until it can play its part in the totality of the psyche.” Followers of Tantric Yoga or Western Magic also aspire to adopt the shadow as their ally, in order to overcome duality and achieve spiritual wholeness.
In the process of acknowledging the shadow, there is the always present risk of transferring it onto others, to lighten our burden, while remaining completely unconscious of the fact. Or one may be unable to carry the weight of the shadow, thus becoming deeply depressed for a period, the death of the old not having yet brought the new in its wake.
Under the influence of Pluto the nurturing qualities of Cancer could take on darker, more dangerous shades. The Mother within each one of us can then become a too powerful mother, a controller, a power tripper and destroyer of individuality. Imagine her as a tribal ancestress, keeping us in line through taboos and laws designed to confine our expansion. The maternal and caring side becomes a tight and suffocating grip on our life and our loved ones, not more life giving, but life denying instead.
We have already seen the unprecedented level of control exerted by governments, all over the world, on financial companies and business. This can be seen as a collective ripple of Pluto, the god who gave its name to Plutocracy, the power of the very rich. In a perfect world this could spell the end of Plutocracy and class privileges, and the raise of a more democratic and inclusive world order. In our imperfect world however there is a risk of governments investing themselves with excessive powers, and also of the very rich, in the shape of multinationals, to fight back, in underhanded ways (the underworld realm of Pluto), in order to regain or maintain the power monopoly they feel they are losing. Strong resistance and intense struggles are also fitting key words for Pluto in such a prominent position in the yearly calendar.
If the financial meltdown and power struggles ensuing from it are described fairly well by Pluto’s position and transits, the personal financial difficulties we are all experiencing seem better illustrated by Saturn transiting Virgo, the humble pie Sign. The passage of Saturn in Libra (October 2009) could be a positive event, Saturn having traditionally a harmonious relationship with Libra. Said that, however, Saturn in early Libra will form a difficult 90 degrees angle to Pluto, transit that will remain active until August 2010. Furthermore, due to retrogradation, the challenging opposition Saturn-Uranus, in force since November 2008, will go on until the middle of 2010. In my view these are signs that, even after the first passage of Saturn in Libra (October 2009), the time to loosen our belt will not have come yet, and no amount of government measures will restore consumers’ confidence for a while. A dramatic reduction in consumers’ spending is the unavoidable outcome of a global recession, and a good thing too if basic needs are met and people are not reduced to rely exclusively on governments handouts. Re-dimensioning our spending and getting our priorities right in a world where many people are still plagued by hunger and social injustice could be the positive outcome of the Virgo/Pisces opposition, instilling in the collective psyche a new sense of social responsibility (Virgo) and spiritual empathy (Pisces).
The third pass of these five steps opposition will take place on September 15, at the end of the period I’m discussing. The fourth and fifth pass of the Saturn-Uranus’ opposition will be exact again in April 2010, and, lastly, in July 2010. August-September 2010 seem then more propitious dates for the long waited recovery.
The birthdays directly aligned to the September opposition are Virgo, born September 15 to 19; Pisces, March 13 to 17; Gemini, June 14 to 18; and Sagittarius, December 14 to 18. It is a case here, as in the previous Equinox season, of achieving the difficult balance between the pull and valuable lessons of the past (Saturn) and the exciting promises and scary uncertainties of the future (Uranus), to experience a productive and fulfilling present.
Another, very different and more benignant face of this astrological period is represented by Jupiter’s conjunctions to Chiron and Neptune. These were exact at the end of May and will be again in July. Despite the dire collective situation, seen from a practical and down to earth standpoint (Saturn in Virgo), this airy and lofty Aquarian emphasis could work like a magic charm, helping to dispel excessive worries and encouraging us to look up rather than down to find solutions to our quandaries. A willingness to reform and to help our fellow men could be very strong. Aquarius is the Humanitarian Sign which through dispassion and knowledge helps to emphasize our common human heritage, rather than our cultural and religious differences.
Jupiter is positively placed in Aquarius even when on its own. Its closeness to Chiron and Neptune strengthens, deepens and refines the outgoing energy of Jupiter, putting greater emphasis on compassion and healing, qualities the world needs very badly at present.
Between the 10th and 22nd of July Jupiter will in turn conjunct Neptune and Chiron, this special union carrying on until the end of the year (in December the same conjunctions will be repeated, for the third and last time). The birthdays more directly affected by these healing and expansive transits of Jupiter are Aquarius, born February 12 to 16; Leo, August 15 to 19; Taurus, May 14 to 18; and Scorpio, November 15 to 19.
In Taurus since the first of June, Mars will transit Gemini between July 12 and August 26; and Cancer between August 26 and October 16. Each one of these Sun Signs will react to the fiery energy of Mars in a different way. To outwardly placid Taurus this could be an opportunity to stop bottling up and explode here and there, letting out some dangerous steam, but also getting rid of hazardous inner pollution.
Gemini will find its mental pace accelerated by the transit of Mars, with bursts of creativity but also restlessness, verbal forcefulness and impulsivity.
Lots could be achieved by Cancerians during their Mars’ transit, but they could also take too much on and become stressed, experiencing discord in the home.
Mercury will retrograde between September 7 and 30, from Libra back into Virgo. The birthdays touched by the disruptive effect of mischievous Mercury are Virgo, born September 7 to 21, and Libra, born September 21 to 30. Lateral thinking could help here and the ability to change habitual routine at the drop of a hat, adapting to new and unforeseen circumstances. It could even be fun if you did not have to worry about alarm clocks and deadlines; disruption of well planned designs can be frustrating but also very creative. Happy Solstice transits, everyone.