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On February 18, 2021 in the US Eastern time zone, the sunrise will find the Sun already in the first decan of Pisces — the Sun’s entry into a new sign occurs more than an hour earlier, at 5:44 am EST. The Sun is the first of the visible planets to escape from the stale air of Aquarius, with Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus all under the gaze of the waterbearer’s attention. Only the Sun is able to pay attention to a potentially more coherent and more all-encompassing vision of future possibilities.
The 36 Aethyrs, a Hellenistic text, assigns this decan to Okeanos, the titan of the deep ocean, or perhaps more fairly the all-surrounding and all-embracing ocean beyond the pillars of Hercules (the straits of Gibraltar).For the average Greek or even the average inhabitant of the Mediterranean littoral, that was the boundary of the known world. Beyond that was the realm of the seasoned professional or the foolhardy. Success in the great ocean was as dependent upon the gods’ favor as it was on the skillfulness of the mariner. Even then, the question looms large: head back in to the safety of shore? Or brave another storm or another wave, and see what comes our way?
It’s not an idle pair of questions, really. When I was growing up, my grandfather owned a wooden sailboat, 25’ in length, that (uncomfortably) slept three. The keel of Sereia (Spanish for mermaid) had been laid down in 1937 in a small town somewhere in the Netherlands. She was finished in 1939, and sailed in secret to England in December 1942. In March 1943, her owner sailed again in secret to the United States, arriving sometime in May of that year. My grandfather bought the boat from him in the early 1960s and he kept her until the late 1980s when he was too old to manage her even in the calm waters of Long Island Sound. The rest of her story, such as he knew of it, went with him to his grave. As a child of course, and even as an adult, Sereia’s secret history fascinated me. How strange it was to me that this boat, which had seen incredible danger first over the stormy depths of the North Sea and English Channel, and then in the open ocean, spent the last decades of her existence in relatively calm waters. And yet, my grandfather would always spout the same professional adages of his amateur sailing career: “always one hand for the boat and one hand for yourself,” and “The tide and the wind will be against us soon” and “I don’t like the look of those clouds. Keep a weather eye out when you’re on the water.” Always this was accompanied by the commands to turn the boat around, and head back to his mooring near New Haven, Connecticut — a day of tacking and jibing in Long Island Sound would end the same way, each and every time, with a return to harbor, a swabbing down of the decks with a mop that had seen better days, and the locking of the hatch cover before we rowed his dinghy to the shore.
Except once. Once, he consented (grudgingly) to an overnight trip. Me, my mother, and my grandfather all boarded early one Saturday morning. We sailed three and a half miles to a sheltered place behind some islands in the Sound, dropped anchor, cooked our dinner on a little grill that hung out over the stern, and sailed home again with the Sun on the back of our necks. My mother and I took the train home afterward, with me babbling about the excitement of our little adventure, and my mom exhausted — she and my grandfather had traded turns awake all night, in case a change in the weather required us to abandon ship. Sereia was safe enough, to my mind — but my grandfather, her custodian and caretaker for twenty years and more at that point, knew what an Atlantic crossing had done to her seaworthiness. He took no chances with her, or with his daughter or her son. One night only aboard, and a night of constant watchfulness, were necessary to the safety of all.
So it is with Okeanos, always — will you dare to go out farther from shore, or will you keep close to home? In the depths of World War II, a secret sail against wind and tide into the teeth of winter seemed a responsible use of resources and daring; a transatlantic crossing less than a year later might have been foolhardy, but her owner decided it was needful. She spent the rest of her sailing days in the equivalent of the stud-pasture as the admired queen of the fleet, yet never spent more than 12 hours from her mooring in the rest of her thirty years afloat.
Austin Coppock, in his book 36 Faces, hints at this reality — for him, the symbol of the Labyrinth marks the first Decan of Pisces — will you go deeper into the maze and seek the center? Or will you scurry back toward the exit, having heard the echoing bellow of the Minotaur’s cry? Those are the only two choices: go deeper in, or go back the way you came. No other options are possible. And so it is with Okeanos — will you go out farther from shore, or return to port before you hit the first line of breakers? No other options really matter — but in both cases, you must keep a sharp watch for the first changes around you; and you had best know your business, sailor or warrior, with whitened knuckles. One hand for the boat, and one for yourself.
The duodecimas, or twelfth parts, of Pisces I speak to this: Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, together tell a story of coming to a strange shore, crossing the marshes and the hot sands of the coasts, to encounter the rich and fertile fields of the uplands beyond the landing place; before finally reaching a daring point of no return: keep going, farther from the boats and from safety, or pressing on to the town where the riches of trade and the risks and rewards of raiding both present themselves. Fortune favors the bold, but also sinks the foolhardy. Know what business you’re about, and keep a weather eye out when you’re on the water.
The question of being a master of oneself while in a dangerous environment also crops up in the administrator of this decan, who is Saturn the lord of expertise acquired by hard experience and attunement with nature. Jupiter’s generosity and kindness affects our perceptions of Pisces as a whole, with his attention to the big picture on us all; Saturn reminds us to administer that generosity with a healthy respect for the forces of Nature and their capacities to crush us completely.
The great difficulty of the present moment is how much attention is not upon the sign of Pisces or its first decan. Instead, four of the seven visible planets remain in Aquarius — and the remaining two unaccounted for are both in Taurus, preparing for their monthly conjunction.
Along with the Ascendant, we find Saturn the ruler of Aquarius in his own sign, accompanied by Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus. These planets cross the lines of all three decans — The Mark of Exile, and Heaven and Earth, and The Knot — and occupy four of the five Terms/Bounds of the sign. The Ascendant gives physical shape to the ten days ahead, with a mix of creative communication about our natural limits and the responsibilities of the accused; Saturn imposes limits through a double dose of coherent attention to the way reality expresses itself; Mercury, rarely allowing limits on their own action, nonetheless communicates intellectually about their own growth and improving wisdom. Jupiter is able to hold the big picture and details alike in a rare but useful harmonization. Venus finds ways to express a psychic mindset forcefully.
Unpacking these themes in the present moment is difficult; a stellium of three planets or calculated points is challenging enough; yet all these planets are forming a series of approaching and separating squares to Uranus, the Moon, and Mars in Taurus, together with the Imum Coeli. The Moon alone finds any favor in this position, being exalted in Taurus, and thus creating contention between mother and father, between the matriarch and patriarch of any household. Likewise it creates tension between our own needs and our responsibilities to family, and puts limits on our personal independence in ways that showcase our need for a household. The presence of Saturn and Mars in this disputation between home and selfhood makes selfhood supreme, but possibly with lingering resentment and dissension. Our dreams and nightmares focus on the never-ending form of the shapelessness of our days, passing through our minds with the smoothness of prayer beads between the fingers.
Skipping back to Pisces for a moment, Neptune holds the last minutes of the last degree of the middle decan — The Net — promising ongoing revelations in which the Internet is both a promising medium for creativity and beauty, and yet a financial trap of some cunning. Expect one or more traps laid for the GameStop day traders by the hedge funds… or perhaps the reverse shall be true, and a hedge fund will fall to yet another complex mass-movement of Internet organizers. Either way, be cautious.
The North Node – South Node axis still floats on the balance point between Gemini and Sagittarius — here, it promises a growing longing and hunger for personal pleasure, even in the face of ongoing limits and difficulties surrounding encounters with friends, associates, and allies. This challenge requires us to seek an alchemical balance of masculine and feminine within ourselves, but it also makes us more inclined to animalistic or feral tendencies — without regular contact with humane values, we become more bestial and less inclined to the niceties of our old social habits.
The Lot of Fortune and the Midheaven are both found in the decan of Scorpio called The Crow — indicating that our career, our reputation, stands upon the need to find the jewels and sparkling wonders of the present moment. Alas, this may turn into a new era of meme-sharing, as yet another generation of digital images manipulate our thoughts; even as our thoughts create new images worth sharing.
Pluto, in Capricorn and the twelfth house, sits upon the decan called The Throne, expressing his authority and power through a Saturnine concentration of limits and an almost-Solar promise of sacrifice for the greater good. It’s hard to know if the sacrifice is worth the effort, really, but it’s real enough, even if it’s too rooted in earthy materiality to make much difference on a cosmic scale. It might keep the economy humming, for a little while longer, if we’re lucky.
Horoscopes by Rising Sign
Aquarius: Feels like the weight of the world just lifted off your shoulders? It’s possible that your higher mental faculties can maybe focus for now on something other than just getting through the next twenty-four hours. Make your budget and finances your next priority, please — but recognize that you may be disoriented by the apparent return of what’s normal. It’s not normal, and you should be cautious of anything that looks like obvious salvation from money troubles. A partner or close ally may be suffering from performance anxiety; remind them often of their credentials and expertise. Home may be a bit more chaotic than usual, with practical details and overall guiding philosophy or ethics in conflict with one another, and more argument than usual — come down on the side of family and household, though, rather than your own urgent but temporary needs.
Pisces: Money matters are a high priority in the next ten days, as you gather resources for a big change in your workplace. There will be a lot of pressure on you to work solo — while at the same time making it very difficult to find alone time. An important friendship is badly affected by this longing for downtime. So are relationships with family members, who may find that your independent ways are challenging expected ‘together time’ at a midwinter vacation time. Isn’t the pandemic over? Not for you and yours, perhaps — and the current situation presents a chance to grab some valuable learning on your boss’s dime, provided that you’re willing to travel.
Aries: You may find yourself cruising the internet these next ten days, searching for the truth and certain that your intelligence and mental acuity can get to the bottom of things. But the truth is unlikely to be so easily found, and I recommend an attention to how your views fit in with the views of friends engaged in similar research — flesh and blood friends, with slightly different political or philosophical viewpoints, rather than yet another contact from the ‘Net with murky attachments to what is real. A surprise expense at home may give you the chance to make a longed-for change, but expect it to be more expensive than planned, and lead to a sequence of changes you weren’t expecting. The drain on your wallet may be harsh, but it’ll set you up for long-term luxury in more well-appointed digs. If you’re a gardener, seed and nursery catalogs may pique your interest, but pay attention to the necessary combinations of male and female plants in your purchases.
Taurus: The normal comforts of home will be disrupted in the next ten days, but by the end you’ll be settling into the routines of home with a good deal more equanimity. Expect arguments with your partner about the shape of household, and perhaps visits from relations despite the pandemic; there may be challenges, as well, between your sense of personal time and personal space, and the needs of people who expect you to be present for them professionally. Some friends may attempt to wash away your usual boundaries as well, and to expect greater generosity from you than you or your partner can afford. Your desires may be outstripping your capacity to stick to ordinary limits — beauty consists of a balance between what’s old and what’s new. A partner’s career needs may overshadow your own this week.
Gemini: The hunger right now is to find ways to be more receptive to change, while also being more assertive about creating changes that matter. That tension (between being the change-maker while also accepting the consequences of that change) is simultaneously a source of amusement and entertainment, and deep difficulty. Along with that area for stretching and growth comes a desire for the peace of luxurious self-care and idyllic isolation. Yeah, you’re not going to get much of that in the days ahead. It’s where your liberation is to be found, but don’t expect such times to go uninterrupted. There’s a few days of boundary-shifting likely to occur at work, and some significant pressure to learn new skills related to self-management and your capacity to sell yourself, too. If you’re partnered, be aware that your spouse or business associate is feeling ignored and at loose ends, too — devote some of your daily effort to making sure they feel supported.
Cancer: Put your practical attention on some of your ‘soft male’ friends, who may be suffering more than expected as the pandemic restrictions ease yet aren’t completely over. Some self-care may be in order, but make this a series of small daily dainties, rather than one over-the-top day of squandered resources: a trimming of toe and finger nails one day, a twenty-minute yoga retreat another, a restful bit of sexplay, some relaxation with a glass of wine or a lover, or completing a task that’s bothered you for weeks — these are the forms your self-care will best take for now. Some unexpected but useful lessons come to you from an online source, but try to remember this is amateur week, not new profession. You have a series of responsibilities to others — government, nature, your physician, your creative coach, and yourself (possibly a partner, too). Try to fulfill them without being a commanding jerk, and without drawing so much attention to your ‘self-care routine’ that people find it annoying. You’re a human being, and you don’t have to look like an Instagram influencer to make a difference.
Leo: Your usual audience is lacking — and it’s because they’re suffering under quadruple burdens of being expected to stay indoors, be expert child-raisers, constitutional experts, and creative problem-solvers at work. Rather than showing off your own capacities in the next ten days, maybe you could spend a little of that energy on helping some other folks out? Your best chance for success during the next ten days is to be more of a householder and gatherer-of-riches for your family, than a performer. This requires a more stealthy and secretive version of yourself than you’re probably used to, and invites you to think less of your own needs and more on the requirements that others have at the table. I have little doubt that this kind of leadership will be painfully difficult for you —but it will be stellar for the other important people in your life, and it may dissolve some long-standing trust issues, and even bring you opportunities for new kinds of leadership.
Virgo: Your observant and studious nature is well known to people in the neighborhood, but this skill is unusually useful to a partner or spouse in the next ten days, as you catch sight of things that are ordinarily hidden and secret. There’s less time for home, as work presents an unusual case that may benefit from insights cleaned from your hobbies or the activities of your children. The key insight here is that your day-to-day processes around the management of your health and well-being are likely to be deeply entangled with learning your way around the new normal of a gradually-slowing pandemic. The new normal is not likely to be conducive to your usual processes and there’s a need to make long-term shifts in your habits, your pleasures, and the way that you share time and energy with others. None of this will be easy for you — you’re a creature of habit, and while making new discoveries or coming up with new procedures is interesting, it’s also exhausting. Manage your energy accordingly.
Libra: Learning the new normal is going to be part of your overall process this week, particularly if you have children of your own. The boundaries of their habits are going to be under significant pressure over the next ten days, and it will be difficult not to get sucked into their drama. It’s not like you won’t have your own things to do, either — make an effort to distinguish between the must-do’s, the nice-to-do’s, and the bucket list items that can wait for a later and easier date. The more discernment you can exercise, the easier the next ten days will flow for you. There is some nice news about money coming your way, and possibly a shiny new award to park on your desk for recent successes. Is your website up to date? What about your schedule? Last but not least, by any means, recognize that there’s a turbulence between your growing responsibilities to others and the current techniques you use to maintain a happy life in current circumstances. The weight of joy falls on the side of personal comfort — but the solutions to all conflicts are found in meeting your obligations. Hold the balancing act clear in your own mind.
Scorpio: It’ll be easy, these next ten days, to feel that your personal identity and your role at work are closely intertwined; and to feel that your real job is to find and select resources and tools and techniques that make your workplace more smooth and efficient. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is your only role there, though, or you may find you need to turn your steps to the end of the unemployment line and call around to your friends looking for part-time work. The truth is, you’ve selected a rough crowd of neighbors where you’ll have to do a lot more for yourself than you expected —but your DIY attitude will bring you a lot more credit than constantly asking for assistance. The real challenge comes in household management — you’ve chosen a living situation that’s far from immediate help, but requires a deep commitment of time, labor, wealth, and creativity (to say nothing of book learning and review of things you thought you knew) to solve. Remember, this is supposed to be fun… but just watch the bottom line, ok? If you’re partnered or have kids, the questions of house and family have the possibility of creating more dissension and loneliness than either of you want… just remember to keep communicating the deep dream to one another, and things will turn out ok in the long run.
Sagittarius: Your ongoing leadership roles among your friends are lessened this week, as your basic animal needs and instincts wrestle with your desire to be humane, helpful, useful and kind. Some of this requires you to maintain a certain isolation from the world, and lead with your naturally dark aloofness. Some of it requires basic matters like balancing your checkbook. Some requires getting out into the wider world, and meeting your neighbors who are eager to hear the recent news. Some of it requires solo work on the projects that matter to you, and testing the limits of your current dependencies — and your revolutionary new opportunities for relaxation! Your partner (if you have one) is eager for more of you, but you don’t have a lot to give right now; this may lead to some challenges. Your best opportunities for conciliation come from drawing on their expertise as a learning opportunity for yourself.
Capricorn: You have this high level of responsibility for your own life at the moment, and you’re well aware that this is a dream-come-true opportunity as we well as a chance to show off in extraordinary ways. All of that power may have gone to your head, and now the weight of leadership, the long-range viewpoint, and the high level of expertise you bring to these questions have left you in a position of isolation relative to your peers. Your own financial management may be under some significant long-term challenges, but there are some short-term benefits that can be used wisely and well to improve your family’s overall position. Just be aware that some of your positions should be closed out or abandoned as unsustainable; some should be maintained as matching both your philosophy and your practical needs, and some may suit your needs but should be loosened anyway. Some new positions should be considered, as well, but the key choices are “stay out? or dive in?” and “is this a trap? Or a glittering new opportunity?” A realistic assessment of your entertainments is also in order — which ones contribute to your happiness, which ones are practically sustainable, and which lead to greater risk of injury regardless of your ambition? Assessments all around, I guess: talk to your friends about your reputation and your fortunes directions; you may get some good ideas about future plans from others in your circle.
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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 Hugh Tran‘s Physis typeface to craft logos for this blog, as well.
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