Sun in Capricorn III

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astrology chart for 9 January 2021, 8:07 pm EST, for a location in western Massachusetts near Williamsburg.

January’s first decan-change is the movement from Capricorn II to Capricorn III, at 8:07 pm on January 9, 2021. The moment finds impending squares between Mercury and Mars, Saturn and Mars, and Jupiter and Uranus; an impending conjunction between the Sun and Pluto, and the moon preparing to run the gauntlet of Sagittarius-Capricorn-Aquarius-Pisces, pinging off all of those negative placements. For the ten days that will include most of the drama in American politics up to the afternoon before Inauguration Day (3:47 pm EST on 19 January 2020) — it’s a lot of worrisome and reactionary placements. The initiating or Oriental/eastern side of the chart is nearly empty, while the western/Occidental or reactive side of the chart is quite full. Some challenging forces are in play these next ten days.

The Hellenized Egyptians (or Egyptianized Hellenes? It’s hard to tell) of Alexandria in the first century BC gave the ten days when the Sun was in the third decan of Capricorn to Tolma — a spirit, perhaps, or maybe a concept, which shares kinship with the idea of audacity or daring: risk-taking, or bravery, or perhaps a certain amount of recklessness. For the Neoplatonists of the city, Tolma was the entity or characteristic responsible for the apparent ruction in the cosmos between flesh and spirit, between body and soul, between materia and anima. Was it our audacity, our bravery, in daring to enter the created universe and enmesh ourselves with it? Are humans, or humanity, the source of tolma? Was it our audacity, our daring, to hop into Creation like it was some sort of video game, or were we more like teenagers who obsess over the same skateboard trick until we get it right? Did we take up “enfleshment” like it was some sort of a game or pastime? Was it some outside entity named Tolma that pushed us into the cosmos and made us take up residence in the prison on matter? Whichever it was — and Neoplatonists seem divided on this score — the result is the apparent dichotomy between mind and matter, between meat and consciousness. Early Christians blamed that division on ‘sin’, but the Alexandrians and the followers of Hermes Trismegistus appear to have explained it as a kind of adventuresome, madcap rush of excitement.

The result has been a crashing imperfection in creation ever since, one which only a new kind of Tolma, a new audacity, can possibly fix: reaching through the layers of reality and pulling the frayed edges together, and stitching up the fissure; or perhaps plastering over the crack. Or maybe, just maybe, escaping back out through the opening in Creation, to see what lies beyond and before our entry into matter — and what might come after. To close up the gap, sealing ourselves in? Or to poke our heads out and see where we came from? To find a renewed harmony and order inside, or to bring the harmony and order of the outside, back into the chaos we find within?

All of these questions helped give Austin Coppock license to call this decan The Throne in his seminal book 36 Faces, on the astrology, magic, and history of the decans (due in the 2nd edition pretty soon, I hope!). The sovereign wears the crown, but it’s the bureaucratic apparatus around the sovereign that carries out the practical day-to-day work of writing the laws and managing the kingdom’s policies and carrying out the dirty work that the monarch can’t be seen doing. There’s a fair bit of disorder and sausage-making going on in the cramped rooms behind the gilded chair and royal purple drapes of the throne room. That’s the place where the serene declarations from the impeccably-pulled-together majesty get translated into the nitty-gritty and the drudgery. That’s where the mind meets matter, and where the divine abstract truth of the soul has to get converted into real-world action on a battlefield, in muddy farmland, or an urban slum.

There will always be a disconnect.

With the arrival of the Sun in these cramped quarters at the end of Capricorn, it is as though the Monarch has deigned to descend from the dais; and instead of parading down the grand hall back to their quarters, they have passed through a side door into the offices of their staff. Here the higher mind brings a more direct level of attention to bear on the attitudes and activities of their minions, and the meshing gears where soul attempts to influence the material world. It’s not uncommon for kings and queens to give up, at this point: how many people find that their willingness to carry on their New Year’s Resolutions falters this week? Bureaucracies of sedentary muscles forced to the gym, or a digestion system long accustomed to the toxins of alcohol, long for a return to the old ways. The king belongs on stage in a place of beauty, not behind the scenes demanding that we all get with the program; the queen must be adored on the balcony, and considered separately or in isolation from the exigencies of her servitors; They must NOT be fussing over policy in back rooms.

Yet this is exactly when one must fuss over policy in back rooms.

Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius are the duodecimas assigned to this decan, and they suggest a way to get your New Year’s resolutions back on track: First, analyze the points of failure and difficulty; rebalance your expectations and set your priorities around your new goals; intensify your commitment to one or two new goals, set intermediate objectives between now and the final goal, the extra goals behind; target the objectives that lead to the re-prioritized goals wisely and shoot for them unerringly.

The Sun rules this decan, of course: the soul is the natural ruler of the body, and not the other way around. All of those minions in the back offices behind the throne room serve YOU, your higher self, and no one else — given a direct order, they cannot help but obey. They will advise other strategies, other tactics; they will counsel restraint or seek to minimize your influence. But it is in their nature to bow their heads to you, as the sovereign of your life, and say, “as you command, my liege.” They serve no other, ultimately, and your decision is final.

But this is not to say that you can do everything. For these next ten days are also ruled by Saturn, as the overarching lord of Capricorn. Kings and queens still have to comport themselves with some dignity — and kings and queens do not act solely by whim, but by schedules and discipline and habits that bring all activities around them into an expected alignment. If you occupy the throne, you must choose to reign. If you do not, other powers will reign in your name, and you will find yourself powerless in the days ahead… ruled, instead of ruler.

Planetary Placements

The Ascendant is in Virgo, in the first decan called The Tree Bearing Fruit, indicating a need for a great deal of self analysis and reflection, as well as an an investigation of external factors and historical events that led you to the present moment. Rather than sitting deliberately, artisanally, to achieve this reflective state, it is better to let these moments of reflection arise organically. Virgo being Fixed Earth, we can expect that the same conditions will apply at the end of this ten-day period as at the beginning, and questions of material wealth and security will be on our minds.

The Lot of Fortune, a theoretical position calculated from the motion of the Sun and Moon, represents where good luck or good fortune come from — and in this case it will be money and moveable property. Some are likely to receive additional funding this week, or perhaps some long-delayed holiday presents. With the Lot in Libra’s second decan, Two Links of Chain, we can expect connective sequences of small, individual, beneficial effects rather than one grand result.

The Imum Coeli, another theoretical point, is in the Third House in Scorpio’s last decan The Crow. The third house represents neighborhoods and extended family — and the Crow is a gathering bird, one who scavenges food, and reassembles the bright and shiny things that it finds. This represents our collective unconscious dream of the moment — the reunification of a divided country, the scavenging of hope from dark places, the reassembly of our families and friends. It’s not guaranteed that any of these things will happen this week — but it is going to be much on our minds.

In the fourth house of nuclear family and home, The Moon in the decan of the Poisoned Arrow and the South Node (in the decan of the Horse’s Skull) vie for authority and rulership over our homes in Sagittarius. The centaur archer is traditionally a figure of great wisdom, but also a feral creature possessed of technology and cunning. The next ten days showcase what we want for our families and invite us to target specific goals for house and home — and yet we may find ourselves ‘beating the dead horse’ of proverb in trying to get anything different for home. The Moon is in the Twentieth Mansion, The Beam, promising that targeted pursuit of goals are likely to succeed, if carried out in the first four days of the next ten — in the aftermath of last week’s intrusions at the U.S. Capitol, this is not encouraging.

Venus in The Headless Body, and The Sun and Pluto in The Throne, are found in Capricorn in the Fifth House, ruling children and pastimes. Venus’s time in Capricorn promises dark, stark beauty and a concentrated attention on the elegance of atrocity, while the Sun brings into focus the manipulation of small numbers into large circumstances. Public upheaval, indicated by the trine to the midheaven in Taurus where the approaching conjunction of Mars and Uranus promises significant tension, brings these themes into detailed awareness.

Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter, all in The Mark of Exile, the first decan of Aquarius, exercise a significant dominance over the story of the next ten days. They square Mars and Uranus’s approaching conjunction from a place of weakness, yet have greater effect by being later in the order of signs — and there is a sense of wide disorder and challenge leading to the departure of an old man in the company of experts. Jupiter, later still in the order of signs, remains challenged by the conflicts of the present moment but is better placed to take advantage of this moment — alas, it doesn’t appear like a moment of liberation or even of ease, but a chance for narrowly avoided responsibility and decline from our ideals. Technically, Mercury is the ruler of the chart as the ruler of the Ascendant, but from the sixth house they merely engage in sharper criticism and wittier repartee than usual — without actually changing much about the facts on the ground, or persuading anyone to your point of view. Sharpening our own intellectual analysis of the situation is likely to yield results! Trying to persuade others to our point of view? Not so much. The upheaval and the conflict in our communities are likely to make dialogue nearly impossible.

In the seventh house, Neptune (in the decan of The Net, where he spreads disinformation and ubiquitous conspiracy theories) and the Descendant (in the decan of The Labyrinth, where the only choices are to wander aimlessly, with no clarity about whether you are getting in or getting out) intimate the significant others in our lives: spouses, partners, business peers, industry allies, and open rivals and foe. In Pisces, this placement indicates the spreading and all-encompassing nature of these relationships — which are likely to become even more co-dependent and intertwined during the next next ten days than they have been all year. Given the indicators in the chart for unrest, it’s worth considering a personal lockdown with your statistically-significant-others, isolating from the wider world for a time.

I’ve already spoken a bit about the upcoming Mars and Uranus conjunction, which goes exact on January 20 (the day after the end of this decan-period, fortunately) in the decan called The Plough. In the ninth house and sharing a sign with the Midheaven, they promise conflict and upheaval. The last time I had a Mars-Uranus transit (one of these planets crossing over the natal position of the other), I was the victim of a hit-and-run driver — [and on writing this, I realized that I had the date of the other time I was a victim of a hit-and-run driver in childhood, which was also a Mars-Uranus conjunction transit!]. There’s good reason to regard this particular combination with more than a little loathing on my part, but other astrological authorities like Robert Hand in Planets in Transit have regarded the conjunction of the transiting (current-moment) planet with the natal placement of the other as a moment of exceptional and unusual malice. I cannot fail to note the parallel concern here, and in the ninth house of long-distance travel, publishing, and higher education, there is reason to attend to this approaching conjunction as signifying upheaval and conflict in a public forum that has wide-ranging effects.

The North Node / South Node axis between the tenth and fourth house indicates a renewed hunger and hope for our career lives, released and extended in part by the expectations of our partners, while at the same time promising that home will be a place where the sewage surfaces — not necessarily literally, but in the sense of ugliness or metaphorically stinky messes emerging from other parts of our lives.

Horoscopes by Rising Sign

As this is a “third decan” column, the horoscopes are available to my patrons through Patreon. They’ll be made available to the general public here, on January 14 The next free horoscope column will be available on January 18, for the first decan of Aquarius.

Virgo: Money, in small amounts and in sequences, comes to you from hobbyist activities; success comes from the accumulation of small gains. Health issues are a concern: seek the advice of specialists where necessary, but limit daily routines that bring you into contact with too many people. A cut-off of travel or learning activity may be needed for a period of time. If you’re having home issues, solve them in the next four or five days; you’re likely to be tied up in a work project for the second half of the decan, or dealing with a health issue. If you’re planning on traveling far from home, consider putting it off until after this decan ends — you may get caught up in some unexpected turbulence and possibly violence.

Libra: Good fortune follows an effort to redefine yourself in a few small ways. How would you dress to show your expertise on a video conference? How would you style your hair to communicate your love of detail, or your attention to the big picture? How would you wear the success you want? However you choose to do this, try to let it unfold after organic reflection on your current situation. At the same time, consider how you can fulfill some of your big dreams while sticking close to home? Is there a way to make your current residence the be-all/end-all of your current life? How can your children, or your ‘just for fun’ activities, make your house into a more lovely place to be despite the current economic and health challenges? The best way to solve both problems is to recognize where your responsibilities lie, and where your freedom to act reaches its edges — the solution to current challenges lies between those two demarcation points.

Scorpio: Solitary pursuits bring success in small dosages and small projects. Try to let friendships grow organically. Scavenge and collect parts for a great Halloween costume or similar self-adornment around your neighborhood; ground-scores or dumpster-diving may prove useful. Financial matters wax and wane, but expect the shit to appear around a home-improvement problem. A question of family or neighborhood leadership blows up. Bundling up at home is a wise choice to avoid illness at this time. Your partner may be calling up reserves of anger and fury about something — but these planted seeds now are likely to reap cold comfort later.

Sagittarius: Targeted efforts to improve home situation will yield results, but this is also where your own crap will be manifested. Don’t suffer it: deal with it and move on. Financial limits on unsuitable hobbies should be instituted; devote your energy toward the areas where you reign supreme. A family member or a neighbor may need to be shoved in the timeout or penalty box, or simply quarantined. A work matter blows up in your face; try to avoid working with physical chemicals this week. Plan your work, and then work that plan and no other.

Capricorn: Some soothing creative time would be useful in the next ten days, but there’s going to be a focus on taking charge of other issues that seem to be important for personal growth; or maybe you’re going to have to lay down the law with one or more of your kids. A fight is likely brewing, and there may be little you can do to control it; but recognize that the odds are stacked against everyone’s persuasive powers right now: you are not special in this regard, and some humility will help. Recognize that sunlight is fatal to toxic behaviors. If you feel yourself getting ugly about something, bring it out into the light to make it wither. Financial matters will be under considerable pressure due to the pandemic and the legal and economic situations arising from them: recognize where you’re an expert, and where you need assistance, in navigating current circumstances around your bank account.

Aquarius: You’re facing a four-way fight in the next ten days, between what you know is your expertise, what you believe your duty and responsibility are, how you wish you exercise leadership in the world, and how you want to run your household. All four areas are in some upheaval, and events in the outside world are going to constrain and limit your decisions. Bear this in mind: you know how to think differently about any problem you encounter — but your capacity for self reflection and introspection is almost always rooted in self-serving justifications, and your ability to devise creative excuses for your actions is going to be more inventive than usual. Don’t let your imagination run ahead of your ethics, friend — even if you have big career dreams, you can lose it all if you let your know-it-all attitude run ahead of general good sense.

Pisces: A media fast would be a good idea for at least some of the next ten days. Pull yourself away from the screens, shut down the computers for a bit, and curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. Snuggle your partner, your kids, if you’ve got them. THere’s a bunch of crap that’s going to come out of your workplace, and your’e going to wish you spent more time at home. Someone in your family or neighborhood is going to show up as an ardent supporter of things you can’t countenance, and you’ll say things you may regret later. A better and more generous solution is to delve into some solo time, or give your free time to a craft project or to learning to cook a few new dishes. Don’t spend your energy tearing apart others right now: instead work on reconnecting yourself.

Aries: Your financial matters may be about to go through a cut-and-burn upheaval, one of those days where someone cuts into the bottom of your wallet so deep that it slashes your skin… and then the insult will be salt in the wound. You’re lonely on the internet, which exacerbates the problem; try spending some time with some real-world friends instead: the expert, the old guy, the funny guy. You could use some time, too, with the gal who makes her own clothes, the would-be financial guru, the cheerful fitness maven. Pick up a few tips for the new year — just try to make sure they’re the free or cheap to-do’s. Avoid upsetting your boss, too — they have a to-do list as well, and it may involve canning a few difficult underlings and sending them home permanently.

Taurus: Why are you so angry all of a sudden, and why do so many parts of your life seem to be in upheaval? Some of this is the fault of Uranus, stirring up various parts of your selfhood over the long haul, and nudging you toward taking action to become someone new in the next six years. Take up gardening, for now: planning your garden or even actively digging in the earth, will help. Some of it is Mars, prodding at you with a brand new electric goad, forcing you to choose ambitious goals and aggressively pursuing them. These two forces can be ignored, if you wait them out — but the challenge may not come again. January 20 may be an unusually difficult day for you, though — maybe sit out any grand demonstrations or big gatherings? Leave the car at home? People on the Internet, by the way, are not really as close friends with you (or your partner) as you might think; and you may get a pink slip from work in the next ten days. You have some learning to do, some of it partly as a hobby, and some of it actively listening to the kids you know rather than assuming they know nothing. If any of what I say here usurps your plans, you might take up a life of prayer for a bit; it just might be your legacy.

Gemini: You’ve got a hunger in you to unite some disparate elements of your life, and become famous for them. But it may be that you haven’t thought this plan all the way through. There are things you really need to stay humble about, and listen to your elders, if you want to get through the daily grind; and it may be that you need to pay attention to the advice of a medical expert or three for a change. Your partner, if you have one, may be using resources in ways that they weren’t really planned for, or allowed under tax law: creative license might concoct a flimsy excuse or two, but you have to be clear about crass behaviors, even if it leads to an argument. This also applies to you: own up to your own fast-and-loose playbook if it comes to a hard conversation, and you may come out the other side in a better place.

Cancer: You are your friends, friend, and even though you’ve got the Greta Garbo “I want to be alone” vibe going on, you need the spark and the fire that your allies bring to an otherwise comfy situation you’ve got right now. Home style life right now is easy, but relationships are where things seem to get crappy — so you put on your best avoidant behaviors and shoot for impossible goals, like “once this is all over and things are back to normal…” YOU have to create the relationships that you want to have, and YOU have the capacity to create shared memories that make current circumstances better than endless work calls and no fun. And YOU have to put in the work to learn out how to create fun. Like it or not, you’re a practical keystone and a giver of luxurious ease to your friends… and you help them feel safe. DOn’t wait for them to help you: help them, and things will get better.

Leo: It must suck, as a Leo, to be as lonely as you are right now. Big things are happening elsewhere: to members of your family and household, to your fellow party animals, to your teachers, to your kids… but not to you. Your job seems to be to hold down the fort for everyone else, and no one is paying much attention to you. This is not your preferred mode of living! Some home improvement isn’t going well; you’re hungry to replicate summer’s socially distant encounters but it’s winter; the boss at work is on a rampage; and your partner, if you have one, seems more alert and aware to your flaws and foibles than usual. It has to feel demeaning. But — it’s worth taking the lumps, at least for now. You can emerge from this stronger than ever, provided that you take the learning opportunities for what they are: a chance to perform at a higher and more effective level than before. There’s a rougher ‘month’ or so coming up for you, from late January through mid-February (with some bright spots, don’t worry; it’s not all bad!), as the Sun passes through its opposition to you. Consider these next ten days a “clean-up” season for that, or a purification, and you’ll be fine for what comes next.


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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