The weather is changing, the Wheel of the Year is turning. We’re heading into an eventful Equinox.
Among the planetary cycles clicking into new patterns all at once in mid-to-late September (discussed in detail in the 4th lecture of my 2012 series; see box at right): Pluto, star of the Cardinal Crossroads, makes a station on Monday the 13th. Five days later the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction is exact for the second time. The Equinox itself is on 9/22-23, with the Full Moon peaking a few hours later.
Jupiter is playing an interesting role in the sky right now: exactly conjunct Uranus while opposed to Saturn (May 2010- March 2011). Governor of quantity, abundance and in-your-face obviousness, Jupiter works by exaggeration: it makes whatever we’ve overlooked expand, so we can no longer miss it. Saturn, meanwhile, works in just the opposite way: it compresses and shrinks things, forcing us to pay attention through the perception of lack.
As cosmic teaching tools, these two gas giants have the same valence. Despite the tradition that sees Jupiter as the good guy and Saturn as the bad guy, all archetypes are equal once we get away from our human value judgments. Moreover, Jupiter has a dark side. It can create sloppiness and a sense of entitlement. The Jupiter conjunction to the Sun in the US chart is one reason American politics are such a big, splashy mess.
Depending on how well we use it, Jupiter (growth) and Uranus (explosions) can mean explosive growth: check the house this conjunction falls in, in your own chart, to reap the conjunction’s benefits. On a collective level, we’re being invited to consider the seismic shift that’s occurred in the way we conceptualize size. Our shared attitudes towards scale and proportion are being shaken up. In Eaarth (sic): Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, for example, Bill McKibben makes the case that “In the new world we’ve created, the one with hotter temperatures and more drought and less oil, Bigger is vulnerable, mammals get smaller in the heat, and so should governments.”
The issues the world is dealing with now are huge (Jupiter), and they are coming at us fast (Uranus). On the personal level, I hear clients and friends using the word “overwhelm” a lot lately, and I think it would help if we realized this is not just our own weird, subjective perception. Saturn (chronological time) has been trumped by Uranus (acceleration) — time really is moving faster — and Jupiter is adding magnitude to the drama. We should forgive ourselves for sometimes feeling overwhelmed. It is a challenge to stay engaged.
I think the bigger the numbers are that are bandied about on the news, the more our mental grip on them starts to slip. Wrapping our minds around the trillion dollars that wealthy Americans have saved thanks to Bush’s tax cuts, for example, at the same time that many of the non-wealthy are facing financial ruin, may represent just too ambitious a stretch. The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction can make us feel like the cartoon character whose head is exploding.
Facts and figures are not easy to assimilate when they are this big, brazen, and blasted at us through the megaphone of the media. When we hear, for example, that global military expenditure stands at over $1.5 trillion annually –- a number so bloated that it strikes us as morally obscene (Jupiter) — our minds may go fuzzy or shut down entirely; in self-defense against the prospect of snapping from outrage or despair.
It’s a very complex amalgam of energies that we are being asked to balance here. The planet of big is opposing the planet of small. Jupiter’s opposition to Saturn is forcing us to accommodate the specter of extreme abundance vs. extreme dearth. In the same newscast where we hear about Meg Whitman spending $119 million in her quest for the governorship of California (out-of-control Jupiter), we are told that millions of Nigerian children are dying from starvation (Saturnine depletion at its most merciless). When we try to entertain realities this atrociously skewed, the best we may be able to muster is a distressed incredulity.
To use astrology to maintain perspective in troubled times means setting aside the terms and assumptions of the social world, for a moment, and going back to the archetypal level. The contrasts we are seeing represent opposition in every sense of the word, both literally — the 180 angle between two celestial objects across the zodiacal circle from each other — and in terms of meaning. Oppositions work by pushing each pole to extremes, which creates enough stress to trigger leaps of consciousness. Saturn’s job is to squeeze a situation to a nugget of concentration to get us to admit to a reality we took for granted before; Jupiter’s is to blow it up like a forensic photograph in search of understanding.
Moreover, Jupiter, the planet of ethics, is being asked by Saturn, the planet of definition, to define itself. We are being forced to get clear about what, for us, constitutes morality.