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The Sun approaches the western horizon on 21 November 2020 at 3:40 pm. As Hozier sings, “there no plan, there’s no race to be won… there will be darkness again.” That darkness is closing in, as we approach the moment of the triumph of the Dark, at the Solstice. This is likely to be an unusual Solstice, of course, with the approaching Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on the same day, 21 December 2021 — the first such conjunction in Aquarius since 1405 AD. But first, we have three full decans in Sagittarius to get through… and one of those decans will contain an eclipse on December 14.
First, let’s handle Sagittarius I The Poisoned Arrow. As we cross from the last decan of Scorpio to the first of Sagittarius, what are we to make of the approaching change?
The first thing that we should note is that the lord of Sagittarius is Jupiter, just next door in Capricorn and enclosed (“besieged”) between Pluto and Saturn — an uncomfortable place for the lord of expansion, to be trapped between the lord of limitation (Saturn) and the lord of accumulative difficulties (Pluto). Not only is Jupiter trapped, but he’s also in a position called inconjunction or aversion. When a planet is in a sign directly adjacent to the sign you’re looking at — they can’t see one another. When you’re pulling your car out of the driveway onto the road, or fumbling with your keys on the doorstep, you’re not paying much attention to what’s going on inside the house — and things may escape your notice while you’re leaving or while you’re arriving. With Jupiter, it’s the same thing: the ruler of Sagittarius is off on an errand, and he’s too busy getting where he’s going to give too much attention to what’s behind him right now.
That’s a bad thing — for all of us.
The ancient Greeks gave the first decan of Sagittarius to Loimos, who appears to be a plague spirit or plague god. Reined in by Jupiter, his power is nonetheless described in Austin Coppock’s name for this decan, The Poisoned Arrow. Shot in the heat of the hunt, it kills the target — but makes the meat of whatever is slain, equally poisoned to the hunter unless the target is chosen precisely. I think it’s Mark Plotkin in Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice who tells the story of collecting birds as an ornithologist’s assistant on a trip to the Amazon rain forest — and the indigenous hunters shot every single bird with a blowgun dart to the eye from a distance of sixty feet or more, vertical from the ground. Select targets carefully these ten days — and manage expectations around the results of hitting them.
Pamela Colman Smith, the artist who created the 1919 Rider-Waite Tarot deck, painted it as the Eight of Wands — eight wands thrusting or falling downwards out of the sky, like arrows or thrown spears. Greek mythology tells the story of a mortal woman, Niobe, who bragged that she should be worshipped as a goddess — after all, she had fourteen children to call her own, while Leto the mother of the Sun and Moon only had one son and one daughter, and wasn’t that a terrible indicator of motherhood? Apollo and Artemis, offended by such hubris, drew back their bows and shot arrows of pestilence into the children. The seven sons died of plagues of writhing agony launched from the Sun-god’s bow; while the daughters died of sicknesses that sank them into lethargy and dissipation. So perish the children of the vainglorious.
This ingress of the Sun takes place in the 8th house, the traditional place of death and endings. Neither a particularly strong placement for the Sun, nor particularly weak, it’s rather a fair warning given of the dangers of hubris in a time of pestilence. The expert priests of ancient Greece warned Niobe not to place herself alongside Leto in the ranks of the gods… it’s well worth following the warnings of the experts of the present day.
But you knew that.
By duodecimas, the twelfth-parts of each Zodiac sign, measuring just 2° 30′ wide, the journey through The Poisoned Arrow hints at the problem: first Sagittarius, then Capricorn and Aquarius, then Pisces shall structure the next ten days — two signs ruled by Jupiter and two signs by Saturn. Yet as I already mentioned, Jupiter is accompanied at the moment by Pluto and Saturn, besieging him and minding him — the two thugs keeping a valuable prisoner in line, and ‘persuading’ him to continue to sign the pleading ransom note and the occasional check. If Jupiter represents Law, Saturn Nature, and Pluto the nebulous forces of the “Market Economy”, we can expect government to provide no break from COVID-19, and no serious effort to limit its spread — the natural rules of viral outbreak, whatever they are, and the economic forces in play, will make government intervention effectively meaningless. This may not be the only interpretation but it’s the way I’m currently choosing to bet.
It’s possible that the ruler and minister of this decan, Mercury the lord of medicines, would be able to assist in this effort. Yet the herald-planet is also in aversion, next door at 14° Scorpio — second decan, The Alchemical Double-Distiller. As we’ve seen in the news, two large pharmaceutical companies have issued announcements of their successful vaccines. Yet Mercury remains in Scorpio until 2 December — the same day this decan-period ends. I’m guessing there will be no widespread medical relief for at least ten days.
In the twelfth house, a baleful eye just a fist’s width above the horizon, gleams Mars in 15° Aries, n the decan called The Crown. Shining in the house of secret enemies and the stumbling blocks that we put in our own way, the warrior planet prepares to block the final shot of the game — only to self-own and fumble the ball in an own-goal situation that promises to be memorable: one for the history books and the “highlights” reels of TV bloopers for generations to come. Mars in the middle decan here strongly implies a meltdown of leadership, or cleaving of sovereignty on important issues — something we may have been observing in the news for some time now.
There remains the South Node – North Node axis to contend with, between Sagittarius and Gemini, as an omen of ill fortune. For a thousand years at least, some schools of astrologers have held that this is the most malefic configuration of the two Nodes, with Gemini’s twin intellects demanding more of everything in a game of divided desires and divided loyalties, and the wisdom of Sagittarius diminished and dimmed like a bed of embers sinking into ash.
In my preliminary remarks, I’ve covered most of what needs to be said regarding planetary placements for Mars in Aries, for Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto in Capricorn, and for Mercury in Scorpio, as well as for the North Node in Sagittarius’s third decan the Horse’s Skull and the South Node in Gemini’s third decan The Executioner’s Sword. By any stretch of the imagination, none of these can be considered favorable omens for the next ten days. Rather, they can be considered ill omens. Bear in mind that at the time this decan begins, Mars and Saturn alone are in their rulerships, casting long shadows over the next ten days.
In a previous column, I described the conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto on November 13 as being like the popping of a pimple and the release of the pus, and I think that much is true: we have much more clarity about COVID since then. However, I think I underestimated the toxicity of what would be released; and I forgot to account for the fact that Jupiter would then be besieged between Pluto and Saturn until the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21. This stretch, then, between November 13 and December 21 will be tinged with that toxic dynamic of the poisoned throne — the leader who does nothing to help, or who actively harms in the pursuit of accumulation and the expansion of power.
A few planets and planet-like points remain to be considered.
The Ascendant in Taurus’s first decan The Plough, conjunct Uranus retrograde not even a full degree away, indicates that the situation here is largely what Dr. Who would call “a fixed moment in time”: seeds are being planted now that will be harvested in months and years to come but there’s virtually nothing that anyone can do to slow things down or make matters play out differently — certain aspects and circumstances have to play out here, and most people feel that they can do nothing other than make the choices they’re about to make. There’s very little real choice right now; we’re all doing the next most obvious thing to do, and hope that the expected outcomes keep food on our tables and roofs over our heads, and relative normalcy in the streets around our workplaces and homes. Uranus promises us each some personal surprises and upheavals… which I don’t like at all.
Neptune retrograde in the middle decan of Pisces, The Net, invites us to consider the slow, gradual and almost limitless changes occurring among our relationships to friends and relatives via the internet. The Zoom Room, and references to the Brady Bunch among a certain older set of people, seem inevitable. Where our lives were once a diversity of experiences — coffee houses and bookshops, parks and beaches, the living rooms and parlors of friends and relatives, back yards, front yards, forests and sidewalk restaurants — there’s now only the video conference and our own ad hoc office space on the dining room table. The diffusion of this internet energy has become ubiquitous — we have reduced all our places to one indeterminate place which seems to be everywhere.
The Moon is waxing in the tenth house in Aquarius — a placement called the Twenty-Sixth Mansion, “The Upper Spout”, a place of great love and fecundity, benevolence and goodwill. Traditionally depicted as a woman washing her hair in a bucket, it’s one of the few beneficial indicators in an otherwise harsh chart. Even so, it’s the beneficent energy of Saturn that the Moon sends down: do your duty and live up to your responsibility, and you’ll come out of this mess with a job. There’s no promise of a pat on the back for a job well done, or a gold watch at the end of these interminable meetings; there’s the joy of survival, and the promise that you have friends in your career that will take care of you … if you take care of them.
Venus in Scorpio in the seventh house is the ruler of the chart. Just under the Descendant, she reminds us to love each other and to connect and make peace in the coming days. She’s not well placed to help this effort — some arguments are going to arise over political, social, economic and other matters. But if you can talk out your issues like human beings, and with human beings, matters may come out well. Keep working those jawbones, Venus says, and keep trying to rebuild bridges where they’ve been cut away — mend the connective fabric, and make it up where there is none, and all may yet be well.
Horoscopes by Rising Sign
Taurus : Unexpected surprises are a critical part of your experience of the next ten days, as you plant seeds to develop who you will become. Check in on some of your already-in-the-ground seedlings, and see what’s genuinely taking root. Some educational or travel goals may be frustrated. A long talk with your partner (romantic or business) about what you want, and why, may be necessary, especially as economic trends reveal themselves. You should also cut out some solo time for yourself, and determine what your sovereignty looks like in a pandemic-frozen world.
Gemini: Everything you want right now costs more than you can genuinely afford, but that doesn’t change your hungers. Execute on quality over quantity wherever possible, but sit alone for a while with the idea of desire and figure out what you really want. A friend needs your hot tempered advice about a struggle with loneliness; a sibling or BFF may ask your help with moving; a co-worker’s love-life may spill out as office gossip. You may need to learn more about COVID in the near future than you really wanted to, unless you take precautions now.
Cancer: How are your dreams filled to overflowing by your neighborhood, or by your close family? You may desire tours of foreign palaces and royal fortresses, but you have to disentangle from those escapes for now. Even in the coming winter, you may be able to escape to a garden — first that you plant in your mind, then on paper, then in whatever boxes or land you may have. You may have to draw out your partner or your children on what gives them real happiness — especially if COVID affects their workplace or school.
Leo: Fortune favors your expertise in a home office, which you should be working on making a creative space that facilitates communication. That does perhaps loosen your ties to your current workplace — and reminds you that you’d rather have more alone time for thinking than yet another Zoom call. When advising friend about money, tell them what you do, not what they should do. It’s time to shake up your own professional appearance, too — and maybe to exercise some ambitions around new learning goals. Some of the decisions you’re expected to make may provoke your disgust or impinge on your ethical beliefs — you have an opportunity to ask questions about the polices you’re enforcing, and you should be asking them.
Virgo: Your hobbies and habits of communication are likely in the spotlight over the next ten days; although it’s possible that your own children or your nieces and nephews are front and center. Your good fortunes depend on at least some time for solitude, but the sense is that to be the good parent or good auntie, that you have to open yourself to risks that make you uncomfortable. Are there ways you can still be in favor with the right people, while also closing up your house against unnecessary intrusion?
Libra: Work life balance is out of balance, and things may be rocky with a romantic or business partner — the question of leadership in your alliance may be the underlying struggle. Some of it is that you’re having to communicate more about finances, and the question of luxury or quality is subsumed into the discussion of dollars and sense. The result is that home feels more imprisoning and limited and toxic. Are you thinking about untying the knot? Bear in mind that disentangling finances will require some upheavals, but there are resources available if you’re prepared to educate yourself.
Scorpio: How much attention is on yourself right now, and how much attention on others? You may be thinking of your work as pure creativity, but there’s a need to craft a message you intend to publish or diffuse to the world, even if that’s only a hope for happiness or to create for children. There are projects you’re engaged in right now that require a mix of self-directed learning and mentorship from teachers — and some of the substances or ideas you’re working with can generate toxic residue: be sure you’re working with proper ventilation, and consider carefully the volatility of what you’re releasing. Is this what you want to be explaining to family at the festival table? Speaking of which — you may not want to travel to family for the holidays, or let them come to you; a most-unwelcome guest may show up too.
Sagittarius: You know that you do your best creative work alone — but you also need to talk to everyone and anyone about the intersection of your work with theirs. So be desirous of solo time, and guard it — but recognize that the communication is part of your creative style. Money troubles may continue for the next ten days, but your reputation is growing: say yes to the options that come your way, and be prepared to learn on the job even as you demonstrate your expertise. You’re going to have to dissolve connections some familiar connections before you can land in a new place. A revolution in your daily habits is underway; or if it isn’t, it should start now.
Capricorn: I’m sure you know how your leadership and capacity to see clearly in times of crisis have been much in demand over the last several years and months. What you may not have been able to see is the way that your competence comes across as cruelty or malice. Sometimes in challenging times there’s really only one option; it takes a strong-hearted person to do what’s obvious. But others around you may view this differently than you do. Where possible, indicate that your eye is on the long view: acknowledge the short-term ugliness, while hoping for a better tomorrow. This month you’re likely to have some quick turnarounds in finances: outgoing expenses matching incoming funds. Be cautious of arguments around scarcities at home; keep contact with friends to a very limited group, no more than two beyond your housemates.
Aquarius: Your sense of self-worth may be predicated on some bright spot in your career over the next 10-12 days, but don’t spend that end-of-year bonus or promotion money just yet; it’s all too easy to dissolve the gains made into the wholeness of your life. A fight with a sibling or neighbor may escalate over Thanksgiving dinner; might be better to eat alone. Your home may need a makeover or significant clean up, but this is likely to be a step toward sanity and comfort: use the American holiday to give thanks to your roof and walls by recreating a sense of internal order.
Pisces: Your identity may be wrapped up in a mindset around information and news that’s actively harming you and bringing unease to your friends and family. Do you see the world in terms of sureties and certainties? Allow some indeterminism into your life, and make space for uncertainty. Are you up in the air and in doubt about everything? Make some solid ground for yourself and take a stand on something; even the back of a turtle is enough to support a whole world if your way of looking at the world is mythic and legendary enough. At the same time, be aware that some of your closest friends and allies are besieged by negative rumor and dangerous dogma — will you help them in their time of need, or stand back and sit out their battle? Choose carefully… you may be redefining yourself in ways you don’t want. Still, good fortune comes from your daily expertise.
Aries: Lonely is the head that wears the crown, and you seem to have several of them on right now: it’s easy to get wrapped up in the splendor of the ermine robe, the scepter and the crown imperial, but it’s also isolating. Your professional reputation depends on recognizing the knots that have tied you down; you may have to ask for help from colleagues to help you shake off the net of limits that have weighted you to one place. A revolt against existing norms may make financial matters shaky for a while, but if what you have now doesn’t feed you — it’s not going to feed you in six months, either. What would you really love? A place where your traditional expertise and your passions meet and shine in the spotlight — or a place where you can communicate your new take on old traditions?
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I use iPhemeris for my charting software, and screenshot it to make charts. I want to thank the team that develops iPhemeris for the addition of Terms and Decans to their charts, appearing here for the first time!
I use Christopher Warnock‘s The Mansions of the Moon as the basis of my Moon placement delineations, and Austin Coppock‘s 36 Faces as the basis of much of my planetary delineations. Neither gentleman endorses me. My own book, A Full Volume of Splendour and Starlight, is now available as PDF download from my Etsy website.
Any errors in these columns are my own.
If you’d like to schedule a consultation with me, you can find additional information on the Services and Classes page.
If you want to read some of my other astrologically-oriented poetry, To the Mansions of the Moon is a collection of hymns to the angels of the Mansions mentioned in these columns. For the Behenian Stars is a collection of hymns to the first/brightest sixteen stars. The Sun’s Paces are hymns to the thirty-six Hellenistic-era deities and ascended souls of the Greco-Egyptian Decans-calendar. While not astrological, Festae contains hymns to some of the older Roman gods and spirits from the calendar created by Numa Pompilius, the second ancient King of Rome.