Thoughts on the Month Ahead

March 2023

My wife and I just got back from a vacation in California, and one of the loveliest parts of this trip was watching the sun lower its fiery head into the Pacific Ocean. After the sky darkened, beautiful Venus would appear in the western sky, with Jupiter just above it.

Now that we’re home, we can still see these two planets from our window, muted by the city lights. They’ll be exactly conjunct tomorrow (March 2), and together they call forth love, pleasure and delight. This is a good time to celebrate whatever you have to celebrate, even if it’s just waking up in the morning and breathing in a new day.  

Is change always something to celebrate?  If so, this is the month to shoot off fireworks.  There are two major planetary shifts in March, each signaling the beginning of a new era. Saturn enters the water sign Pisces (for the next two and a half years), and Pluto enters the air sign Aquarius (where it will spend the next twenty years, although it will move back and forth for a little while before definitively entering this sign).   

Saturn’s sojourn in Pisces is short compared to Pluto’s decades in Aquarius, but it’s still very significant. Among Saturn’s archetypes are the Crone, the Wise Teacher, and the Stern Disciplinarian. Some people also connect it to the Devil, since Saturn is all about learning control and self-restraint, and this isn’t always pleasant.  Saturn is about paying attention to what is happening, making good decisions, and protecting oneself.

During the last several years, Saturn has been in Aquarius, a sign that’s about community, technology, and objective knowledge. When Saturn entered Aquarius in 2020, everyone immediately shut their doors and started isolating, but at the same time, the virtual community expanded enormously. Here’s my own example: In Huntsville, Alabama, seven hundred miles from where I live, there was a woman’s choir that met every week. Unable to get together, they formed a zoom writers’ group, and gradually the group picked up more and more out-of-towners. Now the choir is back to singing in Huntsville, but the writers’ group continues, and I look forward to it every time.   

How many people learned new technical skills while Saturn was in Aquarius? One old friend of mine never even emailed before the pandemic, and now she’s a fixture in zoom groups. People became less locally focused, more global in their perspective. Folks have also had to re-appraise their jobs, leading to more resignations and lateral shifts.  More people are working or studying remotely, often breaking up the workday for a better work/life balance.

Saturn always involves some discipline, some effort, and so none of this has been easy. What does Saturn have in store for its next batch of lessons?

Pisces is a sensitive water sign, focused on the emotional energy that flows between all of us. And so during this time we will all be more open to feelings, more sympathetic and compassionate, but also more easily thrown off balance by every passing sigh, glance, memory or vibration. Some people will become victims of their own inner turbulence, while others are especially sensitized to the sufferings of others, and will reach out to help whenever they can.

Will this be just lip-service, or will there be practical support for people who need it?  Will we be able to de-criminalize and de-stigmatize poverty and addiction?  Pisces is not a particularly practical or organized sign, for the most part. At the same time, it’s not prone to endless processing either, but rather instinctively moves to ease pain. Sometimes this is clumsy, but it’s heartfelt.

However, Pisces is a sign that sometimes has trouble with boundaries, and since Saturn is the planet that rules structures, rules, and traditions, this is not always an easy combination. Over and over, Saturn will test our ability to be clear about our limits. A lot of do-gooders will spring out of the woodwork, and some of these folks will be over-zealous in their rescuing. They may have trouble recognizing that everyone needs autonomy and control over their own lives. In intimate relationships too, boundaries may need to be drawn and re-drawn.  

Pisces is also the most spiritual sign in the zodiac, in part because of the ability to see that everything is connected. There are no divisions between people in a Piscean world, mainly because everyone feels what everyone else feels. This could result in some beautiful representations of soul energy, from artists, writers, and musicians. Mystics and religious leaders could take everyone to new heights of spiritual inspiration.

There will be lots of folks who’ll be shocked at the manifestations of Saturn in Pisces. Gender lines have already thinned considerably, and they will become even more porous. We can all be anything we feel. But for people who have invested a lot of energy in their own well-defined identities, this could be a confusing time. We’ll have to spend some of our compassion on these people, even if we also understand that they can sometimes strike out in dangerous ways.  

And what about Pluto, and its own sea-change?  Whenever Pluto moves into a sign, there are transformations relating to that sign. Capricorn is the sign of structure, hierarchy, ambition, and big business, and when Pluto moved here in 2008, there was a worldwide financial crisis. Banks and businesses failed, and the government invested huge sums into shoring them up. Not long after this, corporations were granted the same rights as individuals in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  Pluto in Capricorn is ending with another economic downturn, with the Covid epidemic.

So this has been a turbulent period for capitalism, and it exposes its very basic flaws. It’s clear now that, since the multiplication of dollars is the bottom line, corporate success is angled towards low wages and cheap products. Economic value and actual community values are not aligned.  If they were, we would have leaner, safer, more humane responses to crisis. And we would also be dealing much more effectively with climate change and its imminent dangers.

But as I said, Pluto is not quite finished with Capricorn, even though it’s moving into Aquarius for the first time this month. It will be in Capricorn again during the last six months of 2023, and then again for a couple of months in 2024. Capitalism will hang on, in spite of the internal imbalances that keep weakening it. It’s like a dog that only has one bone, and is determined to gnaw on it until the bitter end.  

So what will be transformed during Pluto’s time in Aquarius? Technology, for one. Education. Communities. Aquarius is a rational and progressive sign, and so new ideas will spring forth, and community structures could be transformed. Community might even become more important than corporate wealth.  It’s true that the last time that Pluto was in Aquarius – 1777 to 1798 – there were revolutions all over the world, and this could happen again. I have high hopes for a more just and equitable world, but I know that every social improvement is followed by some resistance to change. And sometimes these clashes are violent.

I’m hoping for peace, but I know that real peace only comes with justice, and justice generally requires struggle. But this month, I’ll watch Venus and Jupiter in the sky, and send out a springtime affirmation that these new signs will manifest in the most positive way over the coming years. May it be so, for the benefit of all future generations.  

February 2023

This morning, I looked outside, and the tree branches were all outlined in snow. Now the sun has melted it, but it’s definitely cold out there. People are all bundled up, lumpy with layers. I’m inside, looking out, thinking about the time till spring.   

In Memphis, there’s a funeral going on. The funeral for Tyre Nichols is being live-broadcast by the Washington Post. Kamala Harris was at the podium earlier, and I just heard Al Sharpton speaking about what Martin Luther King might’ve seen when he went to the mountain-top. He referenced Rev. King’s last speech, the one he gave in Memphis. In it, the Reverend imagined that the Almighty took him on a tour that covered all of history, and asked him what age he’d like to live in, and he picked the current age, because of the power and beauty of the movement to end injustice.

Al Sharpton and others are using this space to call for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It’s a fairly moderate piece of legislature which adds to the accountability of the police. In the faces of the crowd, I can see how tired people are of the violence, mostly directed towards the Black community.  It’s a toxicity that burns at the heart of this country.

And since it’s Black History Month, we can all look at the history of policing, and see its origins – at least in the south – in the slave patrols. So often in our country’s history, police forces have acted as the flunkies of the rich and powerful, willing to embody the worst of the country. In doing so, they take out their own aggressions on anyone perceived to be less powerful. Fixing this problem isn’t easy, since this attitude is so engrained in the US culture of violence and dominance.  

Will we see movement on this, and other issues of justice, in February? It is a month of movement, with all the planets direct. At the same time, it’s a month of endings, as Pluto reaches the last degree of its sign, Capricorn. I expect a weakening of right-wing power when Pluto moves into Aquarius, but this month, it could give out a last gasp. Pluto’s time in Capricorn has brought a severe right-wing backlash against progressive thinking and Black agency. I can’t really call this right-wing movement “conservative”, since its focus has been on reeling back progress, not conserving social norms or environmental stability. I’m hoping that more progressive forces will be in the ascendency as Pluto moves into Aquarius.

In 2023, Pluto will only be in Aquarius for a couple of months before retrograding back to Capricorn. In 2024, it will re-enter Aquarius in January, and then spend the next twenty years there. Every Pluto sign changes the zeitgeist, introducing a generation with a new mission. I’ve seen six of them so far, and the Pluto in Aquarius era will be the seventh, and probably my last. I have great hopes for it.

But what of February 2023, a month still mostly dedicated to the old order?  Well, Saturn, the planet of accountability and responsibility, is moving through Aquarius, and you could say that it’s paving the way, laying down a track for all of us to follow. In Tyre Nichols’ funeral, we see the sorrow and hunger for justice, the fierce energy that’s always been part of the struggle of Black Americans to be free and to survive. Saturn shows this focus on justice as a lesson, an example for all of us. If we are going to survive as a country, even as a world, we need to find some ideals, some principles. We could start just by adopting the ones we say we believe in – life, liberty, freedom of expression, and opportunities for all.

Aquarius is, above all, a sign of principles.  It’s also a sign dedicated to community, to teamwork, to bringing together diverse people and crafting them into a whole. Communities who are good at doing this, who have practiced it for a long time, will have an edge during this time. Capricorn was the sign of big business and corporations, but Aquarius is the sign of classrooms, unions, and town halls. Under this influence, people come together to learn, to teach each other, and to organize for change. As Saturn moves through Aquarius, we will see new ways of structuring our society.

While Saturn is going through Aquarius, Jupiter is racing through the fire sign Aries, and this can keep things jumping. Jupiter, the sign of growth, development, and optimism, is especially active and passionate in Aries. Jupiter in Aries is all about breaking through stasis, although it can sometimes spell commotion without real change. It warms everyone, overheats some people, and periodically manifests in heroic acts and rash impulses.

All through February, Mars stays in Gemini, the sign of communication, so the information network will be alive and well.  At the beginning of the month, Mercury is moving slowly, recovering from its recent retrograde, but then it speeds up.  Mercury’s last aspects in February will be to Uranus, planet of change, and Mars, planet of action, so things will get pretty exciting after mid-March. Ideas can create a wall of change, and then people can dramatize that with their bodies.

In the beginning of the month, Venus is in the gentle water sign Pisces, and about mid-month, she gets close to Neptune, the planet of dreams. For a while, everyone will be hypnotized by their own private pleasures and addictions. But then on February 20, right at the Pisces new moon, Venus bursts into Aries, and suddenly, excitement moves from person to person, like a torch passing from one flame to the next. Passions are shared and enthusiasms sharpen. Then, as the moon waxes, and the sun moves through the emotional sign Pisces, there is room for spiritual growth. Barriers fall, and we can really see each other.  Who have we been, who are we now, and who are we becoming?