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Early in the morning of March 10, 2021 at 3:49 AM EST, the Sun will pass from Pisces II to Pisces III, and enter the last decan of the astrological year. Ruled by Mars and titled “The Cup of Blood” by Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces, it marks the beginning of the end, and the prologue to what comes next. The next ten days see the closure of the astrological year, and the wrapping-up of what cannot continue. Of course it means all of that.
But what, exactly, is it that cannot continue? The image of this decan bears a lot in common with the Ten of Cups, as T. Susan Chang has explored in her recent book 36 Secrets. The decan is associated with the 10 of cups, depicting a couple and their children engaged with a rainbow over a mountaintop — Rainbows are the epitome of transience, the remarkable wonder seen in the sky for a brief time while the moisture in the air and the light of the Sun are at the correct angle to one another. To paraphrase A.E. Waite in The Key to the Tarot, the children seem unaware of the prodigy above them, but play in their own way and seek after their own happiness. Only some, with the discernment to recognize that conditions are right, are able to see the divine message in the sky — after the rain, the reminder or promise that horror cannot last forever.
Yet the decan is still ruled by Mars. Forceful and assertive, the war-god stands watch over the next ten days, demanding sacrifice and perhaps even martyrdom — especially when we remember that “martyr” simply means ‘witness’. We are called to acknowledge and witness the changes of the next ten days, and see both the wonder that is coming into the world, and the associated horror as the war-season opens up, too.
A fragmentary Hellenistic text, The Thirty-Six Airs of the Zodiac, associated this decan with Elpis, the daemon of Hope trapped in the bottom of Pandora’s box or jar. Unable to escape into the wider world (and according to the D’Aulaires’ version of the story, unable to be hunted down by the other evils released on the world at the same time), Hope remained available to mortals. It’s a transient and ephemeral thing, hope… easily hunted down by cynicism or curmudgeonliness, easily trapped by practicality and ‘realistic thinking’. Hope shares some of its DNA with optimism and with graciousness, which seem too little involved with Mars for this decan; yet it must be remembered that the warrior must approach a fight with a mix of courage, confidence and cunning — believing that the fight is necessary, that they have the capacity to win, and that whatever else happens they will be standing at the end of the fight.
The image of this decan is a cup or chalice filled with blood — involving a sense of sacrifice and sacrament intertwined. Blood, like water, takes the shape of its container. Normally, that’s a person (whether human or non-human), and in a sense each of us is an individual cup of blood. In some parts of the Faerie magical tradition, blood is seen as a universal substance connecting all — and we ourselves are the individual cups put into that stream or river. The blood is ubiquitous; it is we ourselves who are the specific instantiation of that hegemonic ecumene. In this sense, Pisces III is the whole of the Zodiac, the relationship of all the planets to each other, brought together in the temporary and impermanent example of self. You are a sacrament, whole and entire, a never-to-be-repeated temporal anomaly. You are a witness to the present history, a life never before lived and never to be lived again. You are also a thing of death and decay — for the open cup is sure to evaporate, dry out and become spoiled. It is both witness and sacrifice.
The four duodecimas of Pisces III tell this story, too — these 2.5°-degree units recall the energies of Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Aquarius. In Scorpio, the intensity of battle or sacrifice is experienced as primal force: the chaotic intensity of first contact with the enemy, the smoke of burning flesh, the scent of hot blood in the air, the adrenalin rush. In Sagittarius, this is transformed into the memory of the veteran, the insight of the blooded squad ready to fight again. Capricorn transforms it again, into the cunning and practical insight of the captain with many tours of duty, about to take a new platoon into the field with a handful of his old squad. It ends with the the bloodless intellect of Aquarius, the unit report languishing in a file drawer, or the archaeologist’s article in a dusty journal — where an intense day of battle or the lowing terrified cries of cows dragged to the altar of Zeus is reduced to an announcement, “we found nothing of interest besides hundreds of bull-bones burned to ash.” The sacrament of the slaughter of life is reduced to a footnote of interest only to scholars.
Sharing this decan (and the duodecima of Scorpio) with the Sun is oceanic and turbulent Neptune, the indicator of rogue waves, riptides, and undertows. In my own thinking about the three Outermost Planets, Neptune is the planet of wide-ranging but slow influences that dilute or wash away the capacities of tradition, law, custom, elite expectations, and antiquated norms. These kinds of forces are rarely revolutionary, but take substantial time to adjust existing mores and influences until they suddenly collapse — there is no foundation to them. If the Sun represents the higher mind, and Neptune represents our capacity to be influenced by the undertows of popular culture, then there is a good chance that the next ten days bring insights — where the expectations set upon you by the morality and ethics of the age may collapse in the face of obvious evidence that they’re not working. Also in Pisces, we find the co-presence of the Lot of Fortune in The Labyrinth (Pisces I), and Venus in The Net (Pisces II) —with the Sun besieged between the young queen and Neptune. Our creative capacities and the influences of the wider culture are both going to be playing strongly on our higher selves in the next ten days, and it will seem like our own successes and long-term welfare are both dependent on resolving the riddles of present-day existence. Is fortune found by going further in to the absurdities of present existence, or trying to exit them? Is our creative work interwoven with others, or are we trapped in a complex delusion about the capacities of our own imaginative talents? Another way of framing this is to think about imposter syndrome first— and then ask if you are you living the life that you want, to the best of your ability, in a community that adds to your happiness and with work that you feel is worth doing in the world?
The Ascendant is in the last five degrees of Capricorn in the decan called The Throne, putting Pluto just below the horizon — the power to sit at home in a chair and order your world ‘just so’ through Amazon and other online services has never been stronger. A trine to the Imum Coeli in the fifth house indicates the dream that your desires for luxury can be satisfied! Yet this capacity comes with a range of challenges to your authority attached: are workers in the transport and fulfillment chain being properly treated? Are you being exposed to poisons, toxins, and dangerous diseases? Are you being put at risk in idiotic ways? Are your political and economic beliefs being challenged by your present capacities, or are you giving in to your worse (or better) impulses?
The nature of this decan’s chart is unusual. All the planets are below the horizon in a night chart, lending unusual dignity to the day planets (the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn) and limiting the potentials of the night planets (the Moon, Venus and Mars. In a judicial astrology chart examining the fate of nations, we would regard this chart as predicting a period when national politics were more governed by economic matters; in personal charts, it indicates a highly-private person focused more on their interior life than on the outward aspects of success. In a general chart like this one, it’s best to split the difference and suggest that readers are likely to find satisfaction closer to home and in the comfort of family, with limited expenditures and a disciplined approach to daily life. The public parts of your lives are likely to take a back seat to the more private concerns of the interior life. Begin with your heart, therefore, and let the unconscious lead you toward what the mind desires.
Finances take priority in the next two weeks by the weight of planets found in Aquarius in the second house, clustered together: Saturn reigns uneasily with the Moon, Jupiter, and Mercury all seeking the attention of their host. Jupiter alone is “in his chariot”, the third term of Aquarius; both the Moon and Mercury attend on Saturn’s wishes. Thus communications about limits, as well as practical boundary-setting, both keep the natural limits in mind. Jupiter may have a fast car, but squares to the Midheaven and to the Imum Coeli suggest that he cannot provide you transit to the next step in your career or your dream vacation — neither of these things is in the offer of a ride.
At 13° Aquarius, the Moon stands in the Twenty-Fifth Mansion, long depicted in astrological literature as “a man planting trees.” The “lucky star of hidden things”, as this Mansion is sometimes known, is inauspicious for marriage or friendship, but highly providential for gardening and for planting both annuals and perennials. There’s a message here, perhaps, from Voltaire’s Candide to the present-day: we must all tend our own gardens. In the second house, this is a special message to be watchful over the state of play in our own fiscal grounds and garths.
Pisces, the third house of neighborhood and extended family, is similarly weighted — as noted earlier, the Lot of Fortune, Venus, the Sun and Neptune all hold court in the intertidal zones of mutable water. The Lot indicates that our hopes for good fortune in the next ten days come from sticking close to home or working within the confines of our extended family’s good graces… but always with the question, “burrow in deeper, or look for the exits?” Venus invites us to tie nets, but whether the safety net of the aerialist or acrobat, or the fishing net of the marketer and advertiser, is hard to say. A web of illusions is certainly woven around this decan, but are you the weaver or the prey here? The Sun and Neptune, approaching conjunction, promise (according to Robert Hand’s Planets in Transit), a substantial opportunity to help people toward an almost-intuitive healing — but also present risks of unhealthy ego-denial and a surge of both psychic and physical allergies. It’s almost like spring is coming.
In the fifth house mediated by Taurus, we find Uranus and the Imum Coeli — offering us the chance to plant the seeds that will bring ongoing upheaval to our pastimes and hobbies (and the lives of our children), but also stringing together a series of small projects into a coherent whole. Venus the ruler of both Taurus and and Libra, invites us to recognize that our pastimes (like baking bread or making pickles) are likely to be more fruitful and productive uses of our time than thinking about what purchases or sales will advance our career options. Cyclical thinking — for example, what should I plant in the garden now so that I can put away my harvest in the autumn? — is the context in which we will find our deep happiness, at least for the moment.
The sixth house, mediated by Gemini, is presently home to Mars and the North Node. Mars indicates a conflicting duality for a life at home vs. encounters with friends — the forbidden fruit of gathering with others seems desirable yet unattainable, and maybe also a little boring: after a year, what will we do? What will we say to one another? (“What’s going on??” “nothing much.”) How can this play out? Mars’ rulership in this chart over house and home also indicates some small contentions over the shape of house and home in times to come, and what the patterns of daily life may be like. There’s a gnostic quality to these interactions, where Mars and your household may struggle over what, exactly, interactions with visitors should be, with no cut-and-dried or obvious solutions about what the framework for these visits should be. The North Node /South Node axis puts four tensions into play — the ongoing ‘divide’ between the masculine and feminine on the one side, with trans issues moving to the forefront of political discourse; and a lessened conversation about the humane and the bestial on the other side, where mortal passions and emotions are allowed to overcome common sense and ‘might makes right’ passes as honest opinion without comment.
The Midheaven is shifted into the Eleventh House in Scorpio, but inconjunct to the sign’s ruler Mars — after a year apart, interactions with friends are likely to seem glitteringly attractive and highly desirable. Yet they’re also likely to be tinged with too even of a temperament: a sad letdown after wild fantasies of reunion with our homies after a year without our associates and allies. Who has dreamed of orgies, fantastic parties in the spring flowers, of wild-eyed and long-hugging rapprochement? We may find the reality of these meetings somewhat less than awe-inspiring.
Horoscopes by Rising Sign
Capricorn: More bathing and attention to personal grooming and fashion will do you good in the coming ten days, provided that you keep a budget in mind and dress for the leadership role you want rather than the drudgery you might have. Budget is an important thing to keep in mind, too — you’re likely to have upcoming garden expenses, and some hydraulic issues in your neck of the woods are possible. Keeping control over your calendar is going to require some self-discipline, but make sure you leave time for relaxation or spending time with your kids. Solo time is not likely unless you build it into your plan.
Aquarius: Your heart says that you want and need some solo time, but your brain will want to spend that solo time thinking of ways to take charge of other people’s lives and make them unhappy. So don’t. Instead, spend your time productively presenting plans for financial success for you and for your family; some unexpected windfalls across the aunts, uncles and cousins (and some financial upheavals too, it’s not all good news) could be a way to build long-term fortunes for you all. A couple of your side hustles yield results this month, or maybe a child flexes some new ambitions.
Pisces: Who is in your pandemic pod these days, and is it really as secure as you think it is? One of your boundaries is looking quite shaky: a neighbor or family member may be thinking it’s safe to go back in the water. If you’re self-employed, you may need to think about re-balancing your sources of income and your most-frequent expenses; something is out of balance and you won’t find it just by staring at your accounting books. If you’re employed by others, you would benefit from some time working on your own projects without attending so many meetings — get some of your work rooted instead of waiting for the bosses to decide if they’re implementing cutbacks or expansion plans. Communicate your intentions, and then cut the ties that keep you in the loop for a while.
Aries: Think on what you want home to be, in the next ten days — not just right now, but for the long haul. It’s not just a place for friends to visit you; it has a wider purpose and meaning, and it can’t find that meaning if you don’t think about it as an extension of your self-hood in some fashion. The planets in Pisces, Aquarius, and Capricorn invite you to consider ‘home’ when you’re alone there, when you have friends over, and when you log in to your job from home. Each of those showcases a different side of who you are — are you happy with all those personalities you’re developing? How can you redesign your home life to make you happier and healthier?
Taurus: You’re planting seeds, I hope, for who and what you want to become — and I hope this isn’t just a gardening metaphor, but has some real-world applications. Situations with friends are in flux. There’s a lot of big-shots in your workplace throwing their weight around, with some advocating for expansion and some wanting practical restrictions, and some trying to be experts, and some just trying to carry out basic functions. It will sort itself out eventually, but remember that you still have to earn a living, and that income should at least balance against expenses.
Gemini: It’s tempting to say that hard work and self-discipline will be required in the next ten days — but realistically, you have to put time aside for your own dreams, and relaxation in your own idea of luxury. It’s easy to drive yourself to the breaking point for a boss or supervisor, but it’s not in your best interests to do so. Your boss wants you to have a relationship with work with a lot fewer boundaries, but you have some self-education to find around asking for and getting more financial independence in exchange for that level of commitment. Without that expansion of your compensation, or your work budget? Set limits and hold them.
Cancer: It may feel like your world is turned a little upside-down at the moment, and your private priorities are on display for all to see. This is likely to be upsetting and challenging — and yet it will be beneficial to at least some of your social arrangements with friends that you’re able to let people inside the shell. Be aware that your partner (business or romantic, if you have one) may seem to be getting everything they want, while you are the manager and organizer of the behind-the-scenes efforts that make that success possible. The result may be a stinginess from them that’s difficult to square with the reality. An honest conversation about money may be necessary. Are you having the ‘back to school’ bug? Let it lie a little longer, perhaps, and seek advice from a wider range of allies than you’ve spoken out to so far.
Leo: You’re likely to be less out of sorts than you were a month ago, and maybe your world feels like it’s starting to reach some kind of equilibrium. However, you’re not out of the woods yet with this so-called ‘partner’ or ‘ally’ who hasn’t been living up to expectations. There may be addiction issues that communication alone won’t resolve; and you can’t solve the problems simply by silently praying at them. At the same time, direct confrontation won’t work either. Address the toxic behaviors where they manifest daily, though, and dissolve the unhealthy economic ties where they affect your ability to see and interact with others or limit your ability to travel. A hobby can be something you’re recognized for right now; but it may be that your child has a career shift of some kind too.
Virgo: You’re likely feeling a strong desire to travel or seek some sort of higher education at the moment, but there’s also a sense that a current workload or medical issue must be addressed in full before new opportunities can be contemplated. The next ten days will likely see the clear emergence of what you don’t want, in ways that you’ll be able to clearly articulate; as well as a less-clear idea of what you do. As best you can, put both into written words, and you’ll find good fortune emerging from the journal entries. One of your hobbies may go off the rails a bit into undiscovered countries; it’s ok to let it go there. But remember to hold on to enough of your professional life that you can hybridize future plans with current circumstances.
Libra: The next ten days hold a lot of promise for your career. Yet you may feel cut off from the necessary spiritual support structures to make the leap to the next level. It may feel unnecessary, or even counterproductive, to spend time with your children or to dive deep into a hobby when a big interview or certification exam is looming — nonetheless, remember that a big promotion isn’t worth anything by itself. Will it improve your connection to family members that you care about? Will it make your home more inviting and happy? Will it provide opportunities for travel or for self-improvement? You’re after joyful balance in this life, not focused self-immiseration: spend some time working on that quilt or making sure the kid has a wonderful bath-time… remember what you’re in this life for, and don’t be so focused on the short-term challenges.
Scorpio: A financial decision may be coming that will define who your associates and allies are for some time to come. To the best of your ability, don’t make the decision completely alone; but don’t throw it open to the vast hunger of the internet, either. Who are the trustworthy companions? Whose financial, ethical, and aesthetic opinions do you trust? Which family ties are suspect? How does this benefit not just you, but your housemates and your community? Will this decision leave time for your hobbies, and even more importantly will it leave time for your partner to pursue their dreams? Ask the big questions, and remember that the big questions don’t always include “how much?”
Sagittarius: Letting go of your ego a bit will probably be necessary to get past the current hurdles. There’s significant work that must be done, and it may leave you feeling bifurcated: split between ambitious goals to help others and a genuine weariness with fighting the battles of the present moment. Your attitudes toward money and getting paid are a little toxic — but the reality is that you still need to get paid even if you have a venomous attitude about it. It’s hard to acknowledge that family history has landed you in your present situation, and harder still to acknowledge that it isn’t entirely their fault (or gift) that make present circumstances possible. Adjust your expectations around what home looks like and how it behaves; recognize good fortune, and accept a partner’s ambition to make (or remake home). Expect that the next two weeks will bring a certain amount of low-grade interaction between hobbies and labor: welcome the unexpected interaction, and allow it proceed rather than trying to establish hard-and-fast boundaries between hobbies and hustles.
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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, as is my Almanac for 2021. 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.