It’s time for another astrology column. Last time, I deviated from my standard pattern quite a lot, by writing a column that tried to explore an animist cosmology — the stars as tribes of chorused singers, hovering on the edges of your own awareness.
This time, the Sun enters a new sign, as well as a new Decan, on November 22, 2019, just a bit more than a minute before 10 am EST. The eastern arc of the sky is pretty crowded. We now have a cluster of planets in Scorpio, including its ruler Mars. We have a cluster of planets in Sagittarius, and a cluster of planets in Capricorn. The Moon is in Libra. And the rest of the chart is feeling awfully lonely.
I’m going to try to continue the animist theme of this column, because I think that Gordon is probably right. But that means that I should take a little time to identify what “Animism” might mean in this context of astrology, and outline how to read this column.
Animism, in rough outline, is a cosmology or belief about the universe that consciousness is everywhere and everything, and rather than being a united or unified single identity, it is multiple and varied, with both limited and expansive versions. The maple tree in my back yard, dead though it currently looks in autumnal gray, is conscious of its surroundings; and so is the Sun, illumining the course of my day. Distant stars are conscious, and so is the rock by the stream at the north edge of my yard. The worm in the soil is conscious, and so is the computer upon which I type this essay. So, in some fashion, is the shirt that I am wearing, though I can barely perceive it — and so is the coffee that decided it needed to share space and time with the shirt I wear. The jungle jaguar is conscious enough that it can sometimes see me as another conscious being, sometimes as a dangerous predator — and sometimes as dinner. Some fungi see me as another soul, while others view me as food, and others regard me as a host for their ambitions.
In this context, we have to view the planets and stars above and around our own planet as conscious beings, endued with agency and willpower and choice, able to affect us in some fashion. Medieval astrologers regarded the stars and planets as archangels of almighty God… each with a choir of angels and underlings beneath them, ready to act upon the world according to the divine instructions for each moment. Where did those instructions come from? From the stars behind the planets, and from the outer edges of an indefinably large but bounded cosmos where the fixed stars shone… and those stars alone, those principalities and powers, in the language of Dionysius the Aeropagite, had any chance of hearing God’s voice directly.
Which leads us to two potentials — first, that astrology is a methodology for discerning God’s True Will for the world; and second, that there are numerous opportunities for a message to become garbled as it transits from God’s lips through numerous subordinate beings (each of whom has some degree of consciousness and agency), until it reaches the planets that themselves only herald the coming changes in our lives (rather than determine it). If your life were governed by the planets exhaustively, you would never be able to act against their commands; however, you, like those higher orders of creation, are endowed with some degree of agency, personality, and will through the same kind of free-willed soul that all other entities have. Following an astrological animist model, then, it’s only possible for me to say, “here is what these great and mighty powers are doing…. how will you insert your activities into their midst for your own success?”
As before, we’re going to go over planetary placements briefly, and then identify how each Rising Sign might choose to maneuver among the great powers. We may think of it as being like a tiny speedboat in the waters around (partially flooded) Venice as giant cruise ships anchor nearby. You can zip here and there far faster than a cruise ship… and while the planets send out emissaries and messengers of their own to shape aspects of your exterior life, like a cruise ship sending excursion boats to the city’s main tourist attractions… you yourself may choose to mingle with the crowd, or find your own way, through the streets.
WE find The Sun at 0° Sagittarius — new sign, new placement — in the rolling highlands of Sagittarius. AustinCoppock, in 36 Faces his book about the Decans, called this “The poisoned arrow”, and identified this placement with both the 8 of Wands and the class of Hellenistic demons called the Loimos, the bringers of plagues and pestilences. If we think about this in animistic terms, the Sun is presently standing between us and the realms of the sky where diseases live. It’s a protective stance, guarding us with Vitamin D and various treatments and ointments and salves. But nurses and schoolteachers are often the first to get sick, aren’t they? It’s not a healthy place for the Sun: despite his cheery disposition, he’s got his elbow up over his mouth and nose, and his back is to us while he deals with a range of problems out there among the stars. He’s on our side in this posture, and protecting us from all manner of ills — but his full attention is not on us as individuals.
Mercury is just out of their retrograde, and wrangling into a trine with dissolute and reckless Neptune. It’s not an exact camaraderie yet, but these two are trading text messages and getting ready for a night out on the town in a week to ten days. You can go along for the ride, it’s a party you and your friends are likely to remember for a long time. However, Mars is playing the role of the designated driver, and this party is as likely to end with deadly-earnest fisticuffs as with whiskey knocked back by the flask-full at a roaring rural bonfire. The warrior angel has spent a lot of time standing guard, inventorying his arrows, and polishing his armor. Here’s a chance to break heads and look good doing it, at last. Tread carefully with Mars in his own power at last.
Venus, meanwhile, has cozied up to Jupiter the king of planets in the latter degrees of Sagittarius. On December 3, Jupiter will leave Sagittarius, where he sits like a king on his throne, loved and admired by his court and his people, and his every word is obeyed. Instead, he’ll be in Capricorn, the sign of his fall, likened to a sick man in the home of a friend under house arrest — in need of medicine and a doctor, and yet his caretaker cannot help him. On November 23, Venus will start to pass Jupiter, and he will start to chase her…right over the cliff into Capricorn, rather like an older man lusting after a much younger woman, and falling into her trap. Venus will be close to the Midheaven at the moment of the fall — slightly tarnished yet still full of power… and Jupiter will not return to this kind of glory for more than twelve years. They both stand in the house of the Hellenistic … entity? being? that was beyond gods and mortals, Anangke or Necessity, who only has to think a thing for it to be required. She’s seen Jupiter’s fall play out thousands of times before: this one won’t be any different. Same pretty girl, same flirtatious play… same trap.
Clustered around the Ascendant in Capricorn — which is itself only a month out from playing host to virtually all of the planets — are Saturn the lord of duty and responsibility and Pluto who gifts both riches and toxicity. Twined around them both are the coils of the Dragon’s Tail, the invisible beast that stalks the sky, swallowing and digesting the Sun and Moon in their regular pattern of eclipses. The Tail, of course, is where the digested excrement comes out, robbed of all virtue and poisoning its immediate environment. A good many of us can expect Capricorn-season this year to be rather… venomous. In the meantime, for the next ten days, we have looming responsibility pressing upon our lives and with the sickening feeling that it is work without recompense, labor without recognition, and effort without result. Must it be the case that these three have favorable friendships with furious Mars, eager to punch someone; and with drunken Neptune, only too happy to provide the booze and drugs necessary to loosen our self-restraint? Are these the rough beasts, their hour come round at last, only slouching to the bar to get sloshed and start a ruckus? Or is their destination Bethlehem?
Uranus is in Taurus, conjunct the IC… the rebellious, freedom-loving socialist is drinking from the well of dreams this day — not to have his own dreams, maybe, but to drain that cesspool dry. He’s talking up a storm like some Woke Bloke, hoping to raise consciousness and help us free ourselves from the nightmares of personal luxury, an awaken to a more ordinary dream that goes beyond common survival. He’s mocking various forms of vegan burgers, too, saying with those old-time Wendy’s commercials, “where’s the beef?!?!” and it’s hard not to notice that some of the clowns around here have no clothes.
The Moon, however briefly, has found a place of dignity in her waning, the homestead she keeps in the first ten degrees of Libra. In this place, she’s in the fifteenth mansion, and near the apex of the sky — keeping company with an angel the Arabs called Ataliel, whose powers involve the completion of desires and the revelation of formerly hidden things. The Greeks also said that the Furies, the snake-haired demon gorgons who punished the crimes of patricide, matricide and other forms of violence by family on family, dwelled in this part of the sky. Is our Moon-queen holding them back? Or granting them permission to visit their torments upon their lawful prey. In an episode of The Crown from Season Two, Queen Elizabeth grants her uncle the former King Edward VII, the Duke of Windsor, permission to visit England…and withdraws it when she finds out what he’s been up to, a project she didn’t grant him permission to pursue. Without her permission, the Furies may not come through this gate, and they have no lawful business in our realms, the realms of mortals. Neither may Ataliel, though he has more sway over the Moon than many might, being the seneschal of one of her many residences. Who shall you ask the queen to invite? And whom shall you urge her to refuse permission?
Only the Dragon’s Head now remains unaccounted-for. The head of the beast rests upon the back shell of the crab Cancer, the weight pressing down on the eyestalks, and the hapless crustacean weaving sideways there and here, trying to make forward progress. The Dragon is always hungry, and whatever matters Cancer rules in your chart will feel the swoosh of water flowing past, and a sudden shift in water pressure, as it sucks in its meal like an ever-flowing stream. A dragon’s mouth doesn’t work like whale baleen, exactly, siphoning krill from the waters around it in their thousands and tens of thousands. Nonetheless, you may feel the undertow and riptide, as circumstances change and shift around Cancerian matters as they manifest in your own chart… and it’s wise to remember that your friends and household are experiencing this same constant undertow, without being able to identify its source.
Rising Sign Horoscopes
We can turn now to the horoscopes. If you read the planetary placements above, I hope you’ll have a sense that there are stories in the sky. Some of these stories may be relevant to you and you have to decide how you’re going to navigate these stories.
What does it mean, to navigate in or between stories? Well, in an animist cosmology, the stories in the sky are being enacted by actors…. in the very literal sense of people, wearing masks or costumes that make them appear like something or someone else. A repertory company, or a commedia dell’arte troupe, may be a good comparison — Jupiter is the late middle-aged dude in the company. He’s got grabby hands, and he’s always sort of after the younger woman in the group. She, Venus, always plays the ingenue, the relatively innocent young woman — but they’ve also rehearsed these scenes hundreds and thousands of times, and she’s got a few tricks. She plays the ingenue, but she isn’t one. Mars is the stolid young man, like Anthony Hopkins in the 1966 film Lion in Winter. Katherine Hepburn said to him once, “just stand there and look imposing. I’ll act all around you, and you’ll be terrifying.” He was… until his character was exposed as lost and vulnerable and alone… and so it is with Mars: he plays the soldier on stage, and sometimes his performance is aggressively convincing. But it’s not always who he is, and underneath there’s a strong and capable young man for whom violence is just another kind of performance. Mercury can play the sniveling weasel, the charming drag queen, the ingenue’s nurse or BFF, or the gay best friend. They’re the most versatile actor in the troupe… and the most unreliable. Saturn is the old guy cleaning up backstage, who will whip you if you miss your cues, lose your props, or ruin your costume… but on stage he’s just the grandpappy, all rickety limbs and homespun wisdom, with a gleam in his eye that the audience mistakes for charm. You know better; it says, “I’m gonna get you, you little rat” to all the other actor.
You and I, reader… we’ve seen these characters before, in our daily life. Someone at work is playing the paternalistic know-it-all, who thinks his signature on the check entitles him to an eyeful of a secretary’s back-side. The old guy is too tired to move boxes, but he’s got a plan to make sure you get blamed for them not getting moved. Your gay best friend is over their month-long meltdown and crisis, and is ready to party with the wrong crowd. Where do you intervene? Where do you let it ride? How do you let go? Where do you grab hold for dear life? These are the kinds of questions an animist astrology should invite you to answer and respond to, not through fate, but through choice and personal self-direction.
I think. I admit — I could be wrong.
Capricorn: Everyone is coming to play in your yard. Look around you: who’s the ingenue about to lead the boss into a trap constructed out of his own lurid fantasies? Are you on the boss’s side or the innocent? Are they as innocent as they seem? You stand to make some serious money but it will involve hobnobbing with acquaintances that are more bright-eyed about the possibility of actual fighting and violence; and some kinds of hard drugs that could drag you out to sea. Is this your ship?
Aquarius: Every dawn seems to bring a new set of responsibilities, new expenses, and new reasons to loathe the sources of your (potentially inadequate) income. Is this ten days going to be a new source of trudgery? Consult with work-friends, or even business-colleagues and rivals, over a beer, maybe a joint or a cup of coffee. Don’t overdo the mournfulness, though — some of these dudes are after your job, and as dull as it is, you don’t want it to vanish before there’s a plan in place. Instead, mine them for ideas, and take what works: good artists borrow, as the saying goes… great artists steal. Are some new directions in order? The pleasures and pressures of home seem to suggest a downsizing or at least a thorough house-cleaning is in order.
Pisces: Is it you, or are the drug problems in this neighborhood getting worse? Pop the anecdotal filter bubble, and understand the evidence of your own eyes rather than the demands of the Party. Communicate your findings as needed to neighbors. Seek higher knowledge with friends, but take precautions to be sure you’re in honest and enjoyable company. Speaking of company, someone at work might be about to take a tumble for sexual impropriety of some kind. If you can’t think who it is — it might be you, dummy. Keep the words in your head locked behind your lips, and keep your hands to yourself.
Aries: There’s a broad set of legacy decisions you’re going to have to resolve, and it’s going to carry a lot of anger your way. Direct that anger toward purposeful resolution: decide, and then stick to it. I’m sorry to say, some of that trouble may follow you home in your briefcase or backpack; and some is going to haunt your dreams for a long while. Your partner, spouse or significant other, though, has the ear of the Moon right now — Go read about the Moon again, further up in this column: this is not the week to hear your spouse calling down vengeance from heaven, because heaven is likely to deliver.
Taurus: If you’re feeling like the definition of “fun” has been upended of late, then listen in on your significant other’s conversations with his friends and acquaintances: take an interest in what’s going on in their world. Your own luxuriant and languid existence is in a sense upended by their efforts at intervention in other people’s problems…but those are real-world problems that you’ve been ignoring for a while. You might want to go run away to the other end of the fields — or maybe it’s time to find that old yoke, and figure out how to pull in harnessed teamwork again. You may have finished up a powerful and exciting journey recently, and you’re hungering for new adventures — old duty may feel ordinary, even disgusting. It still needs doing.
Gemini: “I am my work” might not be the first thought to cross your mind these days… but doesn’t it press an unpleasant-sounding buzzer in your mind right now? There’s something kind of fiercely joyous about being able to communicate with people… whether feeding them God’s honest truth or the devil’s lies, you’re loving this new skill to make people dance to your tune. It’s easy to conjure outrage out of mere rumor, or wring desire from a tired, barely-damp rag of a consumer. But have you noticed your neighborhood pharmacy struggling to keep the doors open? Do people around town know what you do for a living? Would that interest them or make them proud? Maybe you should consider the legacy you intend to leave to the future, over the next ten days. If you’re not happy with what it is, then maybe you have a responsibility to change that. As for that Jupiter-Venus love-trap I discussed above… there’s a chance that your partner is playing one of those roles, either pursuer or pursued; and maybe it’s with you, maybe it’s someone else. What’s your role in this? Can you stop this particular ride? Do you want to? Does someone need saving? Or a quick escape strategy?
Cancer: Everything about you feels like it’s more and more about your significant other. Your partner gets the glory, the story. And you get the undertow, and the prickly sensation that the Dragon’s Head is brushing the sides of your legs as you bob and paddle in murky waters. Maybe, though, take a look. You’re feeling the riptide, of course… but the shit is coming out on your partner. Are they buried in work? Are they getting fed nothing but poison? Where’s the toxicity coming from right now — their personal identity, or bad habits, or your own venom? Can you fix this? Do you want to? Both of you may need some sort of fun escape, but there’s a chance that there’s some of that Mars-aggression hanging over the escapade. Go with friends, good ones, and be prepared to leave early if things get rough. A work colleague may become embroiled in the Jupiter-Venus brouhaha… or it may be you in one of those age-old roles. Are you Venus here, despite being a man? Is the handsy king a woman for a change? Seems unlikely role-reversal for a fairly direct sky-story… might be worth considering how far you want to allow this particular stage drama to run before the curtain comes down.
Leo: The Moon’s various house-guests — Ataliel the fulfiller of dreams, and the Eyrines or Furies the punishers of familial crimes— just happen to be hanging out in your neck of the woods this week. Are you planning to point them to the right houses? Or are you going to mix them up and send them after the wrong targets? After each other? That’s in your power to do, you know. … especially since there’s a party at your place! Except… who’s the jerk bringing hardcore substance and its abuse to your place? Who invited the idiot who thinks this is a mixed martial arts rumble? Might be time to figure out who your bouncers are, and how to disinvite a guest or two that made themselves unwelcome. Unless, you know, these are your kind of people? As for the Jupiter-Venus game, this could be the scenario for your own bedroom fun… or, less pleasantly, maybe it’s one of your children in this psychodrama: your son pulling a girl’s pigtails at recess, or your daughter fending off unwanted attention at a part-time job. The sky-story has echoes from the smallest to the greatest scales, and from the pettiest tyranny to the most imperious of royal halls. Recognize the pattern when you see it. At the same time, realize that a variety of duties that you have tied to your core, essential self, are facing some genuine deadlines and some toxic repercussions for missing them. You can’t intervene in everyone else’s business, and still keep your own on track. Not deciding, or trying to do it all, are themselves choices, and not always good ones.
Virgo: There’s a clear opportunity to call the Moon’s more-gentle guest to watch over and top off your bank account this month… or you can use your property and wealth as a tool for fighting back against real or perceived injury. If you couldn’t do both, which would you choose— prosperity for yourself and for your future, or lasting injury to the one who injured you a long while ago? Some cycles can be broken this time around…and some may deserve to be continued another round. What’ll you have? Speaking of having, who’s having this party on your street? where are all the cars from, and what’s all the yelling about? What on earth are they doing? Judge the mood of the crowd before gate-crashing or calling the cops — are you stirring up trouble, joining the festivities, or shutting them down? I’m sure you hunger for something other than this current daily grind, too — but is it really all that hard? Is what you’re uncovering worth all the trouble? Not every hurt the world cuts into you can be healed — read the other horoscopes, and be reminded that there’s a lot of awfulness out there, and you don’t need to catalogue every single disastrous detail. Don’t open every bottle labeled poison… it’s still not apple cider. Really.
Libra: Oh, that Moon! Shining dimly at noonday, barely visible in the western heights of the sky, promising that you can have it all… vengeance and success! But what does that look like, exactly? Living well, or watching your enemies be cast down and ruined? Both? Neither? Regardless, it will be both more and less than you want, whatever you choose. More success in the public realm likely will feel like more work, and less time at home (which is already overwhelming, there’s so much to do). Vengeance won’t lessen the burdens of real life… and even if it starts with someone justly deserving of punishment, it’s likely to end with you hungry for the eyes of the kid that said you were fat in second grade. It’s ok to put your thumb on the side of the scale where generosity sits, you know — and wouldn’t it be fun to know that all the good news of the next ten days was the result of your graciousness and kindness and prayers for the healing of the world? Alas, neither kindness nor generosity (nor even revenge) are going to put money in the bank account right now: a lot of fun and a lot of enjoyable expenses, a lot of new experiences… and maybe cutting back on a little of that celebratory vibe would be wise? That Jupiter-Venus game is playing out in your neighborhood; maybe you’ll see it, maybe you won’t… maybe it’s the mayor? The restauranteur down the street? Doesn’t seem to be big in your life. That duty and responsibility of Saturn stuff, though… that’s in your mailbox, ready to come into your house and make itself at home for a while. Try to greet it kindly when it arrives, and settle it with as much deliberateness and order as you can; Saturn appreciates a job done well, if it must be done slowly.
Scorpio: Neptune and the North Node are inviting you — to play, to travel, to get drunk, to get high, to get stoned, to make magic, to do the down and dirty, to get shit-faced, to go wild. This is the moment that armor was made for — either to strip off and get loose in the naked night, or to fend off a range of dangerous enemies. You’re the one who has to decide, here — are you still talking to your shadow side? or are you communicating with your higher powers? Are you the disciplined soldier? or the berserker ready to break free and break heads? You’re not likely to get sick with the Sun as your wingman… there’s a host of remedies at hand for every ill. But does that make you more of a risk-taker… or less? The Jupiter-Venus game is playing itself out as financial transactions, by the way: it’s called “good money after bad”. There’s a very attractive investment, a very sexy prospectus, that looks to make a lot of money for you… and you have your wealth in a very stable, very secure investment vehicle. The temptation is to unload from the stable investment in favor of a hot, sultry project that’s going to haul in cash like a new whore — and you get the dollars and the doll! It’s just NEVER that easy. The sure new-thing, ISN’T IT, and the old standby ISN’T IT, either. Walk away from both, keep your money, and find a new plan. As for that Saturnine duty and responsibility….? it’s in your neighborhood, and a job on a town committee has just opened up… does that seat have your name on it, or is the hot seat that no one in their right mind should take?
Sagittarius: Oh, boy. That Jupiter-Venus drama is playing out in your heart and head, worst place of all, and you’ve got yourself knotted up in stories about what might be happening, could be happening. Are you Venus or are you Jupiter? Is someone you know tangled in this story? Should you try to get them out? Have you decided to let it play out because it must? Is it a story of things, of people, or of institutions? Is any of it even real? Alas, that Saturn-Pluto story is playing out in your bank accounts and retirement vehicles. Is the paperwork filed? Do you need an extension? Do you have the right files? Is this mess going to cost you your insurance or your car? Is there enough money coming in? Too much going out? The work and the worry is a never-ending gerbil wheel. You put on a great disciplined warrior-face in public… and the private upheavals in your pleasures are just maddening. Most of all, it’s a lonely place to be: to your friends you have to be this person who’s disciplined, communicative, creative, skillful, fortunate, and brilliant. And you also have to not be sick… because if you were sick, who would do the work, anyway? No one. There’s no one else. Except there is. Be the public face of kindness to your friends and allies. Show them what sort of a world you want to live in. Pray for generous circumstances, and the fulfillment of their dreams, and wish for such things in public; be known for it, if you can. Sure, there will be troubled waters at home, and uncertainty in the fields where you labor… but you can be a way that graciousness gets called into the world, at least for a little while.
[…] Ascendant, Venus, and the South Node all share space in Sagittarius — the first two in The Poisoned Arrow decan, the last in The Bridle. Our conscious selves are in a state of abatement right now; if we […]