Sun in Sagittarius III

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Midmorning on 11 December 2020, at 9:16 am EST, the Sun enters the third decan of Sagittarius, The Horse’s Skull (as named by Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces: the history, astrology and magic of the Decans, coming soon in a second edition which promises to be even more wonderful than the first). It’s a place of accomplishment and completion for the Sun, given that it comes just before the winter solstice — so it’s about finishing, completing, ending and shipping — getting the product out the door and seeing that it goes on its way to the intended recipient.

Chart of 11 December 2020 at 9:16 am EST over western Massachusetts

The ancient Greeks, when they spoke of the force of this particular time of year, distinguished her from a goddess, or at least a goddess of a type that was familiar. More primordial and primal than the Titans who had preceded the Olympians, more essential to the natural function of the universe, was Anangke, the power of Necessity. Depicted as a snake wrapped around and crushing an egg in its coils, Anangke is the force that subtly and constantly changes the cosmos, warming it with her relatively mild heat and pressing upon the shell of the cosmic egg with her coils. Subtle transformations happen inside the egg, and the cosmos is transformed by her actions — we may have our own will within the egg and within the Universe’s strong and not-easily-punctured shell. Yet Anangke is in control of our destiny in ways that are difficult to surmise or predict… and if the cosmos breaks, we will be birthed directly into her clutches. Indeed, we already are in Anangke’s clutches, although it is difficult to perceive her — we adjust ourselves to her movement, rather than the other way around. She is wholly unaffected by our choices, and yet everything we do is in response to her tightening and sliding coils pressing in on the sides of our egg.

In the Tarot, the third decan of Sagittarius is attached to the image of the Ten of Wands — a man bearing a bundle of sticks with his back bent under the strain, walking away from us. Whether the labor is commanded or chosen, it is his to do the work. No other may do it for him. When combined with the image of the horse’s skull and the overarching power of Anangke, there is a sense of backbreaking, dead-horse-beating tasks that must be accomplished, and that there is a fated quality to these actions: Necessity alone drives them.

In keeping with this higher-order necessity, the decan is ruled (or administered) by Saturn. Though Jupiter, that noble lord, rules the sign of Sagittarius as a whole, medieval texts sometimes describe the triplicity rulers as magistrates; the rulers of the terms as captains; and the rulers of the decans as high officials of Jupiter’s court. In this case, Sagittarius III’s ruler is an old and melancholic man with a long horse-like face stretched over his skull, and a persnickety attitude about ancient wisdom and the need to finish our works ere our days run out.

The Term rulers, the local captains, are Mercury, Saturn, and Mars — suggesting that the Sun’s movement over the next ten days will first involve negotiation and appeals to be reasonable, then urgent petitions to higher authority, and then finally threats of violence. Of these two strategies, negotiation and violence are likely to be the most-strongly felt or experienced, as Saturn is not in a position to directly influence events occurring in relation to the Sun’s approach to the end of Sagittarius, but Mercury is co-present, and Mars has a favorable trine posture.

The duodecimas, the minor bureaucrats under Saturn’s officious influence, are Leo, Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio. Like the agents at the Department of Motor Vehicles passing visitors from one window to another, there is first a sunny individual who takes our documents and examines our paperwork; then we’re sent to another clerk who reviews our papers and notes the missing signatures and critical boxes unchecked who sends us to the back of the line; the next clerk airily takes our money, and sends us on to the final agent, who tells us that we must wait for our expected documents — but not how long, or where, or why; it’s now her lunch break, of course, and there will be some delay in expected outcomes — a secret lunch break must be respected, and no clarity will be forthcoming at this time.

Planetary Placements

One of the essential components of this chart governing the next ten days is the problem of essential dignity. Mars and Saturn, the Lesser Malefic and the Greater Malefic as medieval astrologers named them, are both in places of superior strength and grace, where they are able to inflict the greatest challenge and indignity. Meanwhile, all the other planets except the Sun are in places of either Detriment — where they are caught like travelers in a foreign country who are robbed of passport, money and clothes, unable to prove their identity or seek help — or in the state of Fall, in which they are actively facing arrest and confinement under desperate circumstances. In these present conditions, it is all too easy to inflict harm, and deeply difficult to do good for anyone.

The Ascendant, Pluto, Jupiter, and Saturn, all in Capricorn and the first house, form the leading powers of this chart, along with squaring Mars in Aries in the fourth house. These are the only angular planets of the moment; all the others are either succedent or cadent — positions of lesser dignity and grace, or greater temerity and fear. The Ascendant, first of all, places a stark contrast between those who are celebrating the apparent victory of one US Presidential candidate; and those who are still playing the hierarchy and trying to remain in power. In Capricorn’s middle decan The Pyramid, it straddles the line between celebration and oppression. In the next decan The Throne, cold Saturn binds the attention of acquisitive Pluto and legalistic Jupiter, flogging them like two weary horses until the bone shows through underneath.

Neptune, in Pisces in the third house (and the middle decan of The Net), puts forward a substantial number of bizarre theories taking root among your close friends, your extended relatives, and your neighbors. Regardless of which side you think won the the US Presidential election racing toward its conclusion, chances are you find the theories of victory on the other side weird and deeply unconvincing; you have suspicions of foul play. This is not a case of “both sides”-ism, mind you, in the sense that one is right and one is wrong. Rather, both sides are deeply affected by the challenges of navigating a neighborhood landscape in which rumors, gossip and propaganda are all greatly amplified. Discovering truth is impossible in such an environment; try for kindness instead, but be prepared to flee or hide. Standing your ground may be an ugly choice in the next ten days — make no last stands unless there’s nowhere else to go.

Mars in Aries in the fourth house brings that trouble home to root. Mars in the fourth house is a sign of domestic quarrels and household arguments — either between spouses or housemates, or arguments between parents and children. Here in his rulership, he promises trouble over questions of authority and leadership under the one roof, as he occupies the last few minutes of Aries II The Crown. The popularity of a Netflix show, and its controversy, is a good reminder here — great leaders only show what they want you to see, even if what they want you to see is personality and professionalism; true rage only shows its head when the leaders lose control of the narrative. Enter household discussions kindly and generously, and agree to exit if things become too heated, allowing time for a cool-off before resumption of prior negotiations. This same forcefulness promises to spill over into friendships, too, though Venus and the Moon’s cooling and moistening influences bring the temper and the temperature down a few notches.

Uranus and the Imum Coeli (IC) occupy Taurus in the fifth house, with the revolutionary planet in the decan called The Plough and the IC in the Lingam-Yoni. Increasingly, I find that Uranus plays the role of identifying mass movements, popular upswells and sudden reversals; here it speaks to the idea of the seeds of political and cultural earthquakes being planted, and the cutting-open of ground to reveal what wriggles and writhes underneath. Our dreams and unconscious play with themes of a more sensual and pleasurable nature, as we try to reconcile the habits of work since March with the expectations of a grinding winter. How shall we take pleasure in the dark?

The North Node-South Node axis runs from the hunger for new daily routines to the place where the shit comes out, in loneliness and isolation. The hunger is double-bodied: on the one hand for new personal experiences on a practical level, and on the other for a more divine and spiritual connection, or a way to overcome the COVID-19 lockdowns through some sort of alchemical renewal. Here the decan of The Hermaphrodite, the synthetic union of both medicine and poison in an antiviral/prohealth cocktail, brings forth our metaphorical saliva: the chemistry that permits us to go on living as we always have. The manure pile, meanwhile, gets piled high and deep right between our higher-order awareness that we must sit tight and wait, and our self-serving intellectual justifications that it’s ok to go out and see a few friends or attend a small winter-holiday gathering: the strangeness of isolation is getting to us all, but The Horse’s Skull should remind us that death is more normal than survival; while Mercury’s presence in The Bridle urges us to yoke our more feral desires in pursuit of more humane ends.

The Descendant, representing our partners, stands in Cancer’s middle decan The Walled Garden, suggesting that the creation of a flourishing nest or parterre for you and certain others may be best; while expecting all others to keep out.

The eleventh house is Scorpio, presently the residence of The Moon and Venus, as well as the Midheaven (MC). All three decans are activated by their visitation, with the Moon taking a speaking role in The Jawbone, the Midheaven in The Double Distiller, and Venus in The Crow. Besides inviting us all to take a hot bath, the three positions invite us to take comfort from our friends in three different ways, and offer our own comfort in return. First, cultivate a state of mind that allows you to have your mind changed by others, and in turn be persuasive for your own causes. Become known as someone whose opinion matters, and is worth seeking out. Second, be a speaker in favor of calm and coherence; there are going to be things in the next ten days that make no sense (or make horrifyingly too much sense), but the time for action may not yet have arrived. Third, enlist your psychic and intuitive gifts to protect and guard your resources; set up wards against intrusions on your friends and family, and establish a line of security against hostility. For some, this will be a simple matter of remaining quiet; for others, it may require more deliberate tactics of obscurantism or hiddenness. This last message, of holding back or of securing resources against predation, is the lesson of the Moon in the 18th Mansion called the Scorpion’s Crown — it shouldn’t take a genius to note that US stock markets have reached historic highs just before the end of the year, and many investors will engage in profit-taking behaviors, converting equities to cash before the end of the year. The result may be some weird corrections in the market that play out with significant blow-back.

Which brings us to the ingressing Sun in Sagittarius, in the twelfth house, sharing space with the Lot of Fortune, Mercury, and The South Node. The twelfth house has a shady reputation as a place of loneliness and depression; of hospitals and prisons; of hermitages and monasteries; of sicknesses, lockdowns, and quarantines. Again, all three decans are activated: The Poison Arrow indicates great fortunes to the makers of vaccines, but possible challenges for those self-same medicines, while Mercury and the South Node indicate at least some mess or trouble in getting people to line up for their two vaccination shots a month apart; and the Sun himself invites you to beat the dead horse of isolation protocols for just a bit longer.

Horoscopes by Rising Sign

Capricorn: Your role in the hierarchy means that you don’t have many choices about how to fulfill the policies of those above you in practical terms. But there will be a tension between what you want to do, what you’re expected to do, and what you have to do. The grace is in doing what you must while leaning away from expectations and toward desire. That’s perhaps a lonely road, but it will give you better standing in the months head. Explain your role in coherent terms to a couple of close friends and get their read on it — and recognize that the pace of daily work is going to be all-consuming until the Solstice.

Aquarius: The next ten days may be something of a lacuna, or pause, before the main event, as Jupiter and Saturn set up for their once-every-twenty-years conjunction at the start of the next decan. You may have to use your authority to establish stricter quarantine procedures — or maybe declare a whole lot of employees as either essential workers who must come to work, or superfluous and therefore unemployable. Use this power wisely, and you may still have friends when this is all over. There may be miscommunications around your finances, especially if you have regular community or family obligations. There is significant opposition to the idea of you staying home for the holidays, too, but all can be smoothed over with careful communication.

Pisces: There’s lot of misinformation swirling around you in the community, and very little chance of putting any of it to rest. Accept that you may have to have direct communication with a supervisor, but good fortune depends on saying relatively little and letting your actual work record speak for itself, even if that means you’re standing in a challenging position alone. Finances may take a strike, and friends may be overly demanding of your time and attention.

Aries: Your ambitions may awaken to a passion project in the next few days; keep one eye out for something that really builds your fire. Some of the norms of your finances may get a sudden overhaul; this may take the form of a bonus, or the form of a promise of a raise later in the year… or a pink slip sending you packing. How this plays out depends on the work you’ve been doing: have you been fulfilling expectations? Or have you been communicating dissatisfaction? Are you gossiping with friends or making good use of your time? Do you know where the bodies are buried at work, or have you got a good handle on the secret levers of power at work? If you don’t, now’s the time to look busy, even if you aren’t.

Taurus: Some of your long term dreams are on the verge of fulfillment, and the sudden reversals of the past may be evened out in ways that contribute to long-term happiness. It’s OK to charge ahead toward that goal, but remember that you’re in the midst of learning how to share power rather than take command. You’re probably feeling a hunger to shift your daily efforts to accumulate wealth, too, or to redirect your fitness goals. If you’re strong, think about flexibility; if you’re flexible, think about building strength. If you’re strong and flexible, work on power in both modes. Recognize that this work — wealth or fitness — requires a degree of secrecy: your success relies on not talking too much about your plan, or you’ll be inundated with (probably bad) advice. If you can find a job or side-hustle that brings in more pay, that’s worthwhile too — you’re being invited to become a more-complete person.

Gemini: There’s a hunger in you for a new daily routine after months of solitude, and the current state of the world doesn’t serve you well. Working on the ‘talking cure’ may help a little: speaking out loud your frustrations may give other people leave to recite their own challenges. Adopting or adjusting your daily routines may also be needed, in favor of warming but hydrating processes: now is not the time to get dried out as you pursue shifts in daily patterns. Recognize that your partner may be caught in a rut of their own, as well, and dealing with loneliness in unproductive ways. Legacy systems and long-held habits are getting in the way of you achieving certain milestones; establishing boundaries with an old friend, or working to spread one of your key ideas around the office, may help you move forward.

Cancer: You and your partner (if any) may have formed a useful bubble, but pursuit of solitude is also a recipe for daily loneliness. Can you find ways to bring your friends into your happy routines? Maybe paint your nails on an online call rather than going to a salon; discuss quarantine hairstyles over afternoon tea. A boss or supervisor is being more ambitiously ugly than usual; you may have to coach them from below toward better behavior. There’s also an opportunity to learn about being an influencer or a change-agent, but recognize that this project may require that you travel or pop your bubble, and that your closest allies may object to your solo explorations beyond the veils of soap and masks.

Leo: Legacies, and your obligations to others, take center stage between now and Solstice. Much of this work you may have to do in solitude, through journaling, voice recording, and letter-writing; however you’re likely to find the work enjoyable and even pleasurable, especially if you focus on this work as a way to dream the next stage of your life into being; the results may not reveal themselves for some weeks, yet, in any case. The labors of work may have some surprises or upheavals, and the time you spend in your work chair should be commensurate by how well-cared-for you feel in the current pandemic season. If the hunger for friends grows too great, open the door to some narrowly-framed connections with colleagues or close intimates.

Virgo: What are you trying to learn this season, and who are you learning partners? Are you really in a good alliance with them, or are there challenges to the teacher-student-subject relationship that have to be smoothed out before you can be successful together? Familiar connections with neighbors and extended family are going to need smoothing over, too — what are you doing to facilitate those connections? Nobody is quite as psychic here as you’d like them to be: plan something, ask for input, and get people moving. Nor is it a season for sulking in your chair — if you want events to occur, even if it’s an “introverts unite — each separately in our own houses” kind of vibe, you may have to do some of the organizing and planning yourself.

Libra: It’s a poor season to take on creative projects as part of your career or in public ways that may require your reputation to be at stake; but there’s no reason not to talk about such projects or frame them in ways that allow them to bloom later — and to collect the appropriate fees for the pre-planning stages. If a friend of yours wants your labor on a project, that’s fine, offer the usual ‘friends & family discount’ but remember that exposure leads to hypothermia and death: no one’s audience is so big that you cannot grow on your own without it. There will be less communication with neighbors or relations than in previous years, but luck comes from reaching out to them in smaller ways than big holiday parties. If you have house- or room-mates, some difficulties may manifest with them, but I promise — it is not always someone else’s turn to do the dishes. Your turn to do the scut-work will come, and your cheer or venom about doing it or not doing it will not go unnoticed.

Scorpio: OK, I admit… it’s not really a good time to gather your friends about you, especially not closely, but there’s something important here about “Avengers, assemble!” or “round up the usual suspects.” What that looks like is going to depend on your comfort level and the comfort levels of those in your pod — but a gradual coming-together in some form seems to be a needful focus of your time and attention. Daily work life seems to involve a lot of cut and chop, and not much assembly or stitching-together. Christmas may be more expensive than usual, despite present solitudes, so keep an eye on the wallet and the bank account balance. Expect some relation to raise a stink about where you spend the holidays, but that may provide you the necessary impetus to revise your relationship with spouse or significant other or business partner.

Sagittarius: Solitude suits you until Solstice: make quiet time and private time to sit with your journal and a good book, and keep a regular eye on your funds; regular consultations with friends by phone, and with your professional network, are also worthy aims. Don’t tell people your plans, but get a sense of what the shape of their lives might be. It’s tempting to occupy the throne all day, trying to spread generosity and kindness, but keep an eye on your long-term well-being and your physical goods too; avoid expenditures beyond your means until you’re sure that your present bubble is secure. You may be somewhat skeptical of changes to household for now, but the reality is drawing closer; depending on your age, you may see your parents drawn into believing delusions. Your daily habits are due for a shift. Start cutting the grooves of some new customs and create some new traditions; anything you’re not accustomed to will feel hard, but gets easier with practice. Stick with it!


I now have a Patreon account for those who want to support this column as it continues its second year. I use Patreon funds (as well as my own funds) to support artists and artisans and thinkers that I regard as contributing to the well-being of the world. if you don’t want to become a regular patron, you can also buy me a Ko-fi in $3 increments.  You can also schedule an appointment with me using Accuity Scheduling, for a natal or solar return consultation.

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.

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