New Moon in Aquarius
Following the flooding of last month’s Capricorn eclipse season, the Aquarius New Moon on January 24 bears light within its darkness to discover and utilize in illuminating the emerging path ahead. Eclipses bring dissolution externally and internally, and so whether recognized or unrecognized the past month of intense astrological alignments have deeply stirred and reshaped matters. There was a Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on December 25/26, a Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10, and the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto on January 12 that also involved the Sun beginning new cycles with Mercury, Ceres, Saturn, and Pluto within a few days. The New Moon in Aquarius initiates us into the first lunation cycle of the 2020s, and further marks the Year of the Metal Rat beginning within Chinese astrology and culture.
Aquarius is the outwardly directed home of Saturn that utilizes the air element’s power of thought to diverge from the mainstream, gaining understanding that can only be found beyond the boundaries and barriers of the status quo. In the past month of Saturn commingling with Pluto, we have been invited to descend into inner depths far removed from the drama and contention impacting our surface engagement with the everyday. We have had the opportunity to confront our relationship with time, realize what truly matters, and commit toward engagement with whatever vitally moves our soul and inspires us to resiliently persevere in the preservation of life.
As the Aquarius New Moon is separating from a catalyzing square aspect with Uranus in Taurus as well as a harmonious sextile with Chiron in Aries, there is a gale behind the lunation to catch sail with on our journey through the tumultuous astrology of 2020. There is movement within the lunation to bridge inner visions of our unconscious with our conscious participation in daily life, as the New Moon is applying toward a conjunction with Mercury in Aquarius, while Mercury is applying toward an invigorating sextile with Mars in Sagittarius. Mercury is carrying a message from the Saturn and Pluto conjunction that requires more time for gestation, since Mercury is still invisible under the beams of the Aquarius Sun. After Mercury emerges into visibility as an Evening Star on January 31 (as the waxing Moon in Taurus unites with Uranus), we will be able to receive wider understanding regarding the shifts taking shape in the past month, and greater clarity regarding the direction to follow into the future.
In order to face the future from a centered position, however, we necessarily will have to embrace and draw from our past, not only our inspiring moments of success but also how we have learned from our wounding experiences. As we are collectively coming to an ending and beginning of a new era in 2020, we also need to acknowledge the complex and traumatic clashes of civilizations across time and how they are continuing to impact the discordant strife within current events. The objectifying nature of Mercury in the airy sign of Aquarius can facilitate listening to the underlying meaning within our interactions to discern where we need to focus for our own growth, and how we can be in service to others in need of support. For those who have felt weighed down during the past month, the Aquarius New Moon can ideally facilitate a healthy dose of detachment that can lead to innovative insights and a far ranging perspective that contextualizes present difficulties.
The Aquarius New Moon is ruled by Saturn in Capricorn, with Saturn being only one degree separated from its conjunction with Pluto. The Saturn and Pluto conjunction is in the twelfth place relative to the Aquarius New Moon, in position to facilitate deep contemplation of circumstances that can bring to light issues and matters that have previously been kept hidden in darkness. There will be enduring consequences stemming from the Saturn and Pluto conjunction, and although its impact will remain in effect within a fifteen degree orb into 2021, its most significant period of being within three degrees of separation will last until February 17, toward the end of the lunar cycle initiated by the Aquarius New Moon. Saturn governs slow, arduous processes necessitating determination and discipline, and so we will need to stick with any trouble we have been experiencing, patiently working our way through any challenges. There will be significant developments related to the Saturn and Pluto conjunction coming in the forthcoming lunar cycle, so make the space to give associated events the time and space they need for sorting through.
Even though we are only at the beginning of 2020, many astrologers and astrology enthusiasts have been looking forward to the end of 2020 when Jupiter and Saturn will finally conjoin in Aquarius on December 21, only four degrees away from the degree of the Aquarius New Moon. While there is reason for astrological excitement due to 2020 transitioning us from a two hundred year cycle of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in earth signs into a two hundred year cycle of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in air signs, we have a lot of ground to cover in 2020 between now and then. As Jupiter in Capricorn moves through its closing, balsamic phase with Saturn during the year while uniting three different times with Pluto, there will be collective eruptions that reflect old historical issues of oppression and injustice rooted in the old era we are bringing to a close. There will be a great death of old forms and structures to endure, leading to the question of how to best work with the processes of putrefaction while simultaneously receiving visions of new ideas over the distant horizon.
As the Aquarius Sun sets into darkness, Venus will be shinning bright as an Evening Star in her exaltation of Pisces that gives her access to the full range of her sensuality and aesthetics. Venus is a key player within the dynamics of the lunation, as she is separating from a harmonizing sextile aspect with Jupiter in Capricorn and applying toward a heated square aspect with Mars in Sagittarius as well as an otherworldly conjunction with Neptune in Pisces. Venus will form her exact square with Mars on January 26 and her exact conjunction with Neptune on January 27. There is rich paradox within these aspects: on one side the unconditional, boundless love of Venus and Neptune that delights in merging, on the other side the fiery individualism and freedom seeking of Mars in harsh aspect that can create conflict and separation while maintaining independence.
Within the tension between Mars with Venus and Neptune, we need to strike a balance that draws upon their strengths and mediates their pitfalls. While we can summon the severing of Mars to shed the sort of illusions, projections, and over idealizations that Venus and Neptune can reveal together, we also need to discern when illusory projections are stoking desires for separation. Negatively, the crusading side of Mars in Sagittarius can become blinded by ideals to the extent of causing damage where destruction was unnecessary. Positively, although Venus and Neptune can become overly consumed by pleasure seeking and avoidant of mundane work, the catalyzing of Mars can light the fire of passions and inspire focused effort that utilizes the imaginative potency of Venus combined with Neptune. In the context of setting plans in motion with the beginning of a new lunar cycle, altogether it can be a powerful combination when focused on anything that enables integrating and bringing together the divergent elements of Mars, Venus, and Neptune.
Notably, Jupiter in Capricorn is ruling all three: Venus, Neptune, and Mars. While Jupiter is forming a sextile aspect with the Venus and Neptune conjunction in Pisces, it is also coming into range of a shadowy anti-scia with Mars in Sagittarius that will be potent between January 27 and 29. Jupiter is in position to help us learn from the challenging experiences of this period and buoyantly recover from setbacks, and is capable of coalescing growth or insight from any disillusionment, dissolution, or shedding taking place. With Jupiter co-present with Saturn in Capricorn, however, we need to guard against excess and instead focus on processes of creative contraction that take account of the constraints and limitations we are facing. Going to extremes or taking things too far with grandiose reactions can bring about a downfall that will force us to deal with difficult repercussions.
Aquarius 1 Decan
The New Moon in Aquarius arises in the first face of Aquarius associated with the Five of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the Five of Swords we see a proud swordsman watching his conquered rivals flee, leaving him solitary in a newly cleared domain. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Mark of Exile” to the first decan of Aquarius, noting it “is a face of exclusion and intentional exile.” Coppock linked the meaning of this card to the independence, liberation, and “wider and deeper understanding of reality” to be found through breaking free from the orthodox and accepting “the mark of the heretic.” In this way, the image of the Five of Swords shows how we must sacrifice relationships when going into exile in frontiers beyond the known. Coppock stressed that the first face of Aquarius reveals that we often need to give up certain relationships as well as financial prosperity in order to gain the independence and spiritual understanding of the outsider.
The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs described the goddess of justice Dike as inhabiting the first face of Aquarius. Dike is the daughter of Zeus and Themis who is often seen wearing a laurel wreath and carrying a balancing scale so she may measure injustice. While her mother Themis is the goddess of divine justice, Dike rules over the moral justice of humanity. In one of her stories she lived on Earth during the Golden and Silver Ages when there was peace and prosperity. However, over time as humanity became increasingly corrupted and greedy, she became so full of contempt for humanity that she left the Earth forever to become a constellation in the sky. Fittingly, the two rulers of the first decan of Aquarius are Venus (descending order) and Saturn (triplicity order), signifying the boundaries of our relationships and the moral guidelines we use to determine who we form relationship with and who we separate ourselves from.
The rulerships of Venus and Saturn over the first face of Aquarius also makes me think of the individuation process of Carl Jung that demands descent into the frontiers of our inner psyche beyond our known boundaries of conventional psychology. Peter Kingsley in Catafalque goes to great length in describing passages dictated by Carl Jung that were omitted from publication in his memoir Memories, Dreams, and Reflections in which Jung used the central image of a knight in pursuit of the Grail to describe individuation. Kingsley noted that Jung stressed the crucial importance of the knight “adhering to the unwritten laws of chivalry” in order to gain the Grail, a moral code befitting of Venus and Saturn ruling the first face of Aquarius. Vitally, Kingsley’s summation of Jung’s words concluded that “the secret of individuation is that the one and only way to discover the Grail is by being it.”
Of course, the lore of the Grail demands asking “Whom does the Grail serve?” Similarly, the potent inner work that can be engaged with during the darkness of the Aquarius New Moon can also be most effectively utilized by asking yourself whom or what to serve with the regenerated light you discover within your inner darkness.
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Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Kingsley, Peter. (2018). Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity. Catafalque Press.