I love Imbolc, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s a neither-fish-nor-fowl time of year; a bare flicker of a sabbat, as tentative as the new green shoots contemplating their debut above the crust of the soil.
It was once a holy day, as were all seasonal turning points in the Great Wheel of the Year. Co-opted by the Christians, Imbolc became Candlemass and was later secularized as Groundhog Day. It was celebrated by the ancient Celts as the end of the Dark Time.
Imbolc means “in the belly”: that’s where our impulses are, during these delicate weeks of proto-Spring. In the dark belly of the Mother a new consciousness is taking shape, on the verge of being born. Imbolc falls on a New Moon this year, February 2nd at 6:32 pm PST. The new year is shifting gears; whatever began for you on January 4th is getting ready to amp up to a new level.
A major ingress occurs the week after Imbolc, one to which the subtle energies of this time of year seem peculiarly well suited. On Feb 8th, Chiron returns to Pisces, a tenure that will last until February of 2019. If we want to handle this nine-year transit with grace, we will need to develop a deeper understanding of the so-called “wounded healer,” a planetoid so new (it was first sighted in 1977) that its meaning is still settling in. And we need to get to know the sign it’s in, Pisces, better than we ever have.
Chiron is about pain, the kind of pain that calls us to attention. I have written elsewhere about how astrology, like Buddhism and many other traditions, can be used to draw a distinction between pain and suffering; between grief and depression; between empathy and enmeshment. These distinctions will be important to keep in mind in the years ahead, when Chiron will be showing us our ailments, and the world’s, as part of the dissolution of the old paradigm. Like a good diagnostician, Chiron reflects back to us our own condition. Its transits show us where we have been hurting without even realizing it.
Chiron’s shift from Aquarius to Pisces alters the mass mood in subtle but all-encompassing ways. The planetary rulers of both of these signs, Uranus and Neptune respectively, have to do with impulses that exist beyond the individual: they both pull us out of our egos. But Chiron’s tenure in Aquarius, an air sign, was conceptual, whereas the waters of Pisces are spiritual and psychic. In Pisces Chiron will invite us to register global realities from a deeper place than the mind alone can go. We’ve spent the last few years gathering the information about, for example, global warming; the next few years will be spent absorbing the implications.
Pisces, often thought of as an emotional sign, is not really about personal feelings; it’s about transpersonal feelings. It’s true that our emotions can more easily express what Pisces knows than our thoughts can; feelings are better suited to speak the watery language of the fishes. But Pisces is not really about the personality at all. It’s about the relationship between the personality and the higher self.
The Sun’s conjunction with Chiron on Feb 19th is a good day to get acquainted with Chiron in its new colors. Put out the intention to embody the bliss that comes of losing the self while staying centered. If you have a lot of Pisces in your chart, you’re already familiar with this challenge. With Chiron in Pisces, we’ll all be asked to revel in our openness to That Which is Bigger Than Ourselves at the same time that we remain true to our uniqueness.
Soon we’ll have another reason to finesse this paradox. Neptune is about to go into Pisces, for the first time in 168 years. Come April, it will be water water everywhere.