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At 4:33 pm EDT, the Sun enters the First Decan of Taurus, where it will remain until very late on April 29, 2021. Austin Coppock in 36 Faces called this decan The Plough, the place where we engage in work that appears to have little value, yet all our future success depends upon this labor. The furrows cut into the skin of the earth bring forth shoot and seedling, plant and flower, fruit and grain. Without the work of the planting, there can be no harvest.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this decan belongs to Mercury the technologist. The herald among the planets is thought to be the business-minded merchant, the wizardly expert, and the physician (as well as the smooth-talking con-man and the thief), but here they are dedicated to the technologies that bring forth bread from the earth — the technologies of calendar and almanac, seed-saving and spade, moldboard and plow, ox-yoke and John Deere tractor. An old US Department of Agriculture poster used to warn, or celebrate, a basic truth about the universe: “despite all our vaunted technologies, our civilization is still dependent on six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains.” Mercury tracks the moisture in the soil, the potassium and nitrogen content, and the presence of both friendly insects and the more menacing pests. They note the height of the new seedlings, teach the rotation of crops and the building of raised garden beds, and yes, push the plough and goad the oxen when the moon is right and the time comes to plant. To say that the farmer is not a master of technology, or that faming is unskilled or unknowledgeable labor, is to miss the fundamental union that must exist between the planter and the harvester and the land. Mercury mediates that communication here, and without them there is no food for the winter.
Delightfully, Mercury is just past cazimi with the Sun here — the elegant moment of clarity when the Sun stands directly behind Mercury in a straight line-of-sight between Earth and the Sun. Ordinarily, when Mercury is so close to the Sun, they are said to be burned up, or under the beams. Yet here, in the same degree, and with Mercury administering this decan (and Venus herself ruling the sign of Taurus just a few degrees farther on), there is a favorable window for planting and sowing and preparing the ground. These are good and favorable signs for the start of the spring planting season in the northern parts of the northern hemisphere. Yet I write this as I look out at a blanket of snow over my new raised garden beds, and my two freshly planted apple trees, and my daffodils and forsythia not yet showing yellow blooms to the world — perhaps I should remember that local conditions should always be taken into account!
The Greeks living in Alexandria in the first century BC celebrated the rites of Charis at this time, or perhaps all the Charitēs — what we would call “The Three Graces” today. Charis, also called Aglaea, was considered the most beautiful of them, but hardly a rival to the ethereal elegance and sublime loveliness of Aphrodite. When Hephaestus found his wife Aphrodite in bed with the war-god Ares, he demanded a divorce, according to one legend. This was easily granted, and shortly thereafter Hephaestus married Aglaea instead. Where Hephaestus was the master of mortal crafts like metal-smithing and woodworking (and robotics) Aglaea was a capable weaver and spinner, a dancer and cook. Their marriage, ahem, was made in heaven. Something of that relationship tinges this decan — the gardener makes use of a broad range of technologies that they likely never think much about, but are nonetheless essential to most northern gardening. These include cloches and bell jars, hot houses and greenhouses, netting and trowels, plows and gardening spades, shovels and seed-bags, sun-hats and straw bale planting, tomato cages and burlap weed-block cloth. The ‘feminine’ and the ‘masculine’ technologies both come together in great quantities when it comes time to put seeds in the ground and prepare for food, fuel and fiber to come back out.
The dodecatemoria, or 12th parts of each Zodiac sign, point to this self-same story: here we have Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, and Leo — a thing planted in the earth, followed by cellular division and growth from one to two (the process by which a plant produces its successors), the nurturing process by which the plant takes in moisture and discovers its connection to home, and finally the roaring display of its flowers and fruit. The ruling planets of these 12th parts — Venus, Mercury, the Moon, and the Sun — manage these departments in the same way: the seed sensuously makes deep connections with the soil, unfurls its chemical expertise to make sugar and chemicals from sunlight and water and earth, intuitively works with the passage of time to grow and take on a variety of new forms, and finally clothes itself in splendor when it reaches adulthood. The entire growth cycle of the seed is expressed in the dodecatemoria in this way.
Returning to Charis a moment — some myths about Hephaestus say that he stayed married to Aphrodite the goddess of love and beauty, despite the fact that she shamed him by committing adultery with the war-god Ares. Other myths say that obtained a divorce from her, and soon married Charis, who was less-beautiful but more skillful; and that Aglaea remained Aphrodite’s bath-attendant and dresser. It’s possible to reconcile the myths in several different ways, of course — that it’s possible to make peace with the past while still seeking a happy future; that it’s possible to see a partner as the perfect partner; that it’s possible to live and grow into a new identity even after embarrassment or humiliation. Charis helps us recognize both reconciliation with an ugly past, as well as hope for a happier future.
Nearly all of the planets are in the occidental or western half of the chart, with the exception of Mars (almost westerly) and the Moon. This tends to make us more reactive and less intentional, more responsive but less initiating — we’re not driving our own story so much as responding to events elsewhere. There’s also a mix of planets above and below the horizon, leading us to see present circumstances as being driven equally by public and private concerns or perhaps it would be better to say, a balance of conscious desires and public actions with private worries and unconscious reactions.
The Ascendant, the point on the eastern horizon where the Sun’s path appears to rise out of the earth, is in the third decan of Virgo The Sarcophagus. The next ten days are likely to involve a lot of transmutation of dead ideas and projects into the new and wriggling life of “what comes next”. All four of the angles of the chart are in a tight square/opposition, meaning that there will be an underlying tension between career, relationship, home and family life, and self — without us necessarily being able to identify underlying causes of these tensions.
The South Node – North Node axis runs between Sagittarius and Gemini, pulling resources from our home and family and directing them toward our career and reputation. I often say during consultations that the North Node is where the hunger is — and here it’s in Gemini’s second decan The Hermaphrodite. The indication is that we’re very much in need of a hybrid solution to the problems of the present era, something that mixes and matches idealism and practicality, and that draws on both ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ sources of wisdom. The South Node is “where the shit comes out”, and it’s in the middle decan of Sagittarius The Bridle. The result is that humane and animal needs must both be met in the context of house and family — that is, both conversation and food, both intellectual stimulation and rest — but this is unlikely to be met without addressing certain elephants in the room. These take the form of the Sign of Fortune and the Imum Coeli — where the first indicates that our homes are expected to become profit centers for others’ wealth-management and wealth-generation schemes as well as our own, and the second reveals the large and less-obvious flaws in the dream of working from home.
Pluto in the fifth house in Capricorn’s third decan The Throne points to the accumulation of pleasures into something toxic or noxious. In Henry IV, Part One, Shakespeare put the words, “If all the world were playing holiday, to sport would be as tedious as to work,” into the mouth of the young Prince Hal, the future Henry V. Something of this warning lurks here, which may express itself in several ways — the reports of youth sports activities as the new source of COVID-19 infections, for example, or the way that people who have been cooped up for a year suddenly overdo their alcohol or recreational drug consumption because their tolerance levels have reset over the last twelve months, or the combination of increased restaurant-going and decreased hospitality staffing leading to customer complaints. All these things are suggested by Pluto, a series of small missteps or mistakes in judgment becoming outsized problems. More than anything else, though, Pluto in The Throne has come to mean “a series of small bad decisions by leaders having outsized negative influence when taken all together.” Here, that combination comes together in the realm of entertainments and pleasures and children — caution is advised when planning parties or following your children’s advice.
Saturn is in Aquairus’s third decan Heaven and Earth, while Jupiter is making a run for the exit in the late degrees of the third decan The Knot. I’ve said before that Saturn often represents the idea of the natural order of things, while Jupiter represents the human order. Right now, there’s a struggle between these two forces, with Saturn having the upper hand: “Nature bats last” is a reference to American baseball, where the home team has the advantage of batting last (and scoring) in each inning. As I mentioned earlier in this column, I’ve been getting my garden ready for spring — but an April snowstorm buried my garden beds in four inches of snow just this past Friday: we are more dependent on Nature than Nature is dependent upon us mortals, and Saturn will remind us of that for the next several years as it transits Aquarius — our daily work habits, our health, our projects, and our efforts to sustain ourselves, will all face limitations imposed by nature. However, Jupiter in The Knot indicates that, at the same time, certain bonds and boundaries and constraints in human systems are likely to come undone in the next two years — and the seeds of that undoing are being planted now. Do you have control over whether employees can work from home or not? Are you able to influence decisions about real estate or commuter reimbursement or worker policies? These questions are going to arise this week, and it’s likely a chance for you to speak up for decentralization and loosening, rather than tightening or centralizing choices: freedom, rather than constriction, is the way to expand and grow your daily habits.
Lurking under the surfaces of our relationship with Others (be they rivals, business partners, spouses or statistically-significant-others), Neptune holds the last decan of Pisces The Cup of Blood. This 10° window is ruled by Mars, and so it contains a seed of conflict even as it holds out hope for a sacrament attained, a quest completed, or a hope fulfilled. Neptune is the planet of popular delusions, though, and so there’s likely someone in your innermost circle who’s prepared to argue about whether we’re at the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end; whether the pandemic is almost over or whether there’s another wave building; whether this is the moment of crisis that destroys, or whether it’s the crisis that propels us to new success. Since Neptune is below the horizon, some of these ‘discussions’ may be occurring on unconscious levels, with body language and symbolic actions: how are our actions telling our most-intimate allies that we don’t care as much as we should?
The greatest weight in the chart is found in the ninth house in Taurus, where Sun, Mercury, Venus and Uranus occupy the first and second decans and speak to the planting of seed — in more than one way! Uranus in The Yoni-Lingam is finally stirring the pot in a square with traditionalist Saturn beginning a multi-month-long revolution against sexual and sensual mores. This doesn’t mean orgies, you pervert — well, it might. But in the current climate, shaking hands might be seen as both revolutionary and highly sensual. However, the inner planets are clustered in the bosom of Charis’s Plough, the place of planted seeds and furrowed earth — there’s a lot of sensuality at play in the world at the moment, across many levels of reality.
Mars is approaching the Midheaven in the third decan of Gemini called The Executioner’s Sword, indicating a cunning and ruthless ‘business plan’ at work in corporate settings. To call it a business plan indicates that it’s somehow the result of careful thought, though: it’s just as likely to be petty vengeance against real or perceived slights to managers and mid-level employees. None dare call it sabotage, but…
The Moon holds the third third decan of Cancer in the eleventh house, The Overflowing Cup. This is practically a metaphor for COVID-bubbles: the Moon holding sway over a small circle of people, and consenting to find purpose and meaning and hope in working with this group and this group alone. The Moon is waxing here, and in the Eighth Mansion, though — anyone who is trying to maintain such a bubble may soon find its edges frayed, its surface popped, and numerous challenges to its sustainability. The frustration of ongoing efforts to separate and establish boundaries plays a major role in the next ten days.
Rising Sign Horoscopes
Virgo: Ruling planet Mercury governs from a favorable trine and a cazimi placement: you’re likely to have clarity about what you need to do and how to change your plans for favorable result. Expect a certain amount of dissension or uproar at work, but recognize that if you can work from home, you’re likely to get more fortunate results than being at the office — even if your work from home arrangement does cause some trouble with spouse or housemates.
Libra: Ruling planet Venus is inconjunct, bringing a pair of questions into tension with one another: “who is allowed to be in my workplace’s quarantine bubble?” on the one hand, and “what pleasure-seeking behaviors are also causing my household trouble?” on the other, are going to create friction with your boss or supervisor. An upcoming company event or otherwise-enjoyable daily activity is perhaps bringing stress — can you adjust your expectations and find another way to do this?
Scorpio: Ruling planet Mars is inconjunct, bringing your work-home balance into sharp relief and revealing someone else’s inadequate skills or training. Certain parts of your daily process are becoming unnatural and may need adjustment; other parts just need a tweak to be indefinitely sustainable. Some communication with a super close ally is necessary to identify their planned growth and self-development plan — you may have to get with the program yourself.
Sagittarius: Ruling planet Jupiter has a sextile aspect, promising much but delivering little — in company with Saturn he invites you to let go of the cat’s cradle and accept a certain amount of release from responsibility. The South Node and the Lot of Fortune indicate much value on focusing on home and family and neighborhood, rather than career and reputation — even if it feels like career is where the conflict is, as well as the genuine desire to do the work. Look ahead to what you want your relationship and your household to look like in the future, and you’ll have a better idea of how to analyze your career plans
Capricorn: Ruling planet Saturn is in aversion, giving the management to Pluto — who wields authority with a certain amount of practical mismanagement in favor of your own happiness. Be aware of how a series of your own decisions to do what is easy or fun now can build up into consequences with dangerously long-term effects. The most important people in your life want to make a cocoon — or maybe burst it a little early. Your household expects you to be attuned to your obligations. Your boss expects you to work for your pay, however you’re told. Finding solo time may be hard, but it’s where you’ll find your own best long-term plan.
Aquarius: Ruling planet Saturn is present, indicating that you’re likely to be able to see as much of the big picture as it’s possible to see, and to act with a mix of clarity and natural ease. That will put you into conflict with your own household and family, though, whose picture of the situation is going to be at odds with yours; temper your clarity with compassion and kindness, especially if you’re romantically partnered with someone. Business matters may require you to balance health risks against entertaining clients or creditors; take appropriate precautions but don’t explain or justify your processes unless you want the argument.
Pisces: Ruling planet Jupiter is in aversion, giving the management to Neptune — creating troubling waves that dissolve the usual boundaries and expectations you have set with your closest partners and allies. What’s normally private, like household finances and family laundry, is distressingly public, and everyone wants to weigh in on that (or come to visit to “make it better”). If your hope, post-pandemic, is to work from home, it’s worth some time to design and plan your home office. If you want to get back to your regular workplace, start thinking about how to make your household comfortable with that plan.
Aries: Ruling planet Mars is in a weakened sextile, suggesting a mental war within yourself over your obligations to self vs. duties to others. A partner or super-close friend wrangles with money-issues in ways that may benefit from your help; be clear about the extent of your help and the terms of your financial assistance. A family member may take issue with your line of work, or you with theirs. Having friends ‘in your bubble’ is fine; but having them in your house is a different matter. Plan on drawing the line somewhere. You’re likely to get paid for side-hustle work, but treat this as a learning opportunity: if this was your career instead of your hobby, would you be happy?
Taurus: Ruling planet Venus is here but besieged between Uranus on one side and Mercury on the other. Your traditionalist ideas encounter a learning opportunity to remake your life. New love, or new possibilities for adventure with a partner, both present themselves. Financial overreach can put what you have in some hazard. Accept relatively cautious limits and loosen career entanglements; keep your partner’s secrets for now. Home may need to be an isolation tank a little longer — but a visit from a family member is probably ok.
Gemini: Ruling planet Mercury is in aversion. A period of non-communicative self-reflection on what you want to achieve, how you want to change the world, and what you want to create is probably in order. Think of this work as planting a garden for future growth, or bringing a child into the world: there’s learning to be done, and adventures to be had, but it has to begin with identifying what you want. You’re likely to still need a career, hopefully your dream job, but you can afford to put less focus on that part of your life. Identifying the shape of home and family should be important, but don’t create conditions of conflict. Your ideas about the shape of a romantic relationship may be a bit warped from reality. Remember that would-be partners have agency of their own, and be prepared to analyze their reactions to what you think you need.
Cancer: Ruling luminary the Moon is at home here, defining you in terms of your friendships and alliances. Do you have the team you need? Of course you do — but this tends to make your current connections with a significant partner or spouse somewhat toxic at the moment. Are you placing suitable boundaries between you and others? Are you prepared to let go of certain parts of your life in order to expand and grow? Fruit trees, bushes and shrubs need pruning this time of year — winnowing your connections down to some intimates may be helpful; keep close to those friends who still have lessons to teach you, and who could stand to learn a thing or two from you.
Leo: Ruling luminary the Sun is square to you, suggesting that you begin this decan in some tightened financial circumstances. Matters should improve once you realign yourself with some career goals, and exercise some financial discipline. This may require some creative bill-management strategies, and some genuine financial education, perhaps even a full overhaul. If you have a romantic partner, there are some natural limits on your relationship at this time, but some merciful adjustment of mutual expectations may expand your opportunities for love to flourish. Some news about your shared resources and obligations may appear, but “show me the money” is relevant — don’t put too much at stake for a rumor.
I have a Patreon account for those who want to support this column as it continues its third year. We’re currently doing a decan walk through some Tarot, astrology, mythology, and magic. I hope you’l join us. 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, and any column I write after receiving a Ko-Fi donation will be open to the public. 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 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.