January 29, 2022, at 5:40 pm EST sees the arrival of the Sun in the middle decan of Aquarius, the one which Austin Coppock named Heaven and Earth. Characterized by a mix of idealism and down-to-earth practicality — or perhaps a wholly practical or wholly idealistic mindset, either challenged by the unthinkable persistence of utopian thinking or the difficulties of the facts on the ground — Aquarius II has a desire for a better world than the one they’re in, and a terror that a better world is simply not possible.
The dodecatemoria, the twelfth-parts of each Zodiac sign, speak to this idea in Aquarius II: they begin with Gemini before proceeding through Cancer and Leo, and end with Virgo. We thus have the elaborate effort to construct two contradictory modes of thought, followed by deliberate consideration of their emotional and philosophical usefulness — as well as their ability to produce results that are profitable to ourselves, whether in coin or attention. We end with the conscious harvest of ideas and their implementation in the so-called real world. Aquarius II isn’t entirely sure what that is.
Although the sign itself is ruled by Saturn, the decan's administrator or local director is Mercury. This is appropriate, given that the four dodecatemoria begin with Gemini and end with Virgo — but it's also worth considering that Saturn's role is is to preside over perfection and decline from perfection; and Mercury's role is to communicate, to analyze, and to investigate through word and number and image. T.S. Eliot wrote, in his poem Little Gidding, part of the Four Quartets: "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”
… and there’s something of that sentiment in this decan — the ongoing exploration or investigation or research a subject, only to arrive back where we began and understand a thing anew. I’m reminded of the story that a particular weird carved bone object from prehistoric sites was unknown to archaeologists for decades, until a hobbyist leatherworker recognized it as a bone polisher, for preparing seam edges, or how Janet Stephens uncovered how ancient Roman women’s hairdos were made by sewing them into place with needle and thread. The past and the present alike are full of astonishing, everyday wonders, and the people who knew the way of them are dead, unless one of the living takes the time and puts in the effort to explore them. Similarly, the world itself is full of profound living mysteries, waiting for a human to make meaning from them.
The ancient Alexandrians gave these ten days to Phobos, or “Fear”. The lion-headed son of Ares the god of war, who with his brother Deimos (“Terror”) traveled with his father’s chariot and brought disorder to the battlefield, was usually depicted as an unremarkable young man without distinction. In the Iliad and Odyssey, as well as in other ancient sources, he is beneath notice. Yet in the ancient way of battle, often face to face with the enemy, the youth who talked a big game the night before the conflict might prove to be the first to run when danger showed itself. Let’s note that an ancient warrior’s life depended on who stood behind him, or next to him, in the line of battle. The terror of the unremarkable youth next to you could kill you as easily as a illness.
Which brings us to the reality that even in Egypt, January and February in the ancient world was fever-season. It was the time when a ship coming from Spain or the Black Sea could bring a new illness; or the marshes of the Nile delta could spawn a new disease that the grain ships would then take back to Rome. This of course, inspires another kind of terror: that the unremarkable cough or sneeze of a passer-by could be a potent conqueror of another sort entirely. Both terrors are uncontrollable forces, in that they arise within us from external threats, and it is only our training and the luck of the draw that allows us to move past them.
The chart for 29 January is a night chart, with all the planets on one side of the Nodal Axis, the combination called “the belly of the beast” — all of the planets are in the guts of the celestial dragon, and their work is being slowly digested before us. Additionally, all but Uranus are occidental — that is, on the west side of the the noon-midnight line, where they tend to be more reactive and responsive to outside situations rather than initiating and inventing. This results in Uranus’s significations taking on more significance than usual — surprise, overturning of norms, rebellion against establishments, and sudden reversals. If these are the initiating patterns, everyone else must play catch-up.
The Ascendant is Leo, marking the debilitated Sun under Saturn the ruler of the chart. You can think of this as being rather like a young king in a historical or a fantasy novel. The youthful monarch is locked away in a high cold tower, nearly imprisoned and having to act under the guidance of his oldest, most austere and difficult advisor, Saturn. Meanwhile, the privy council, consisting of the chief general (Mars), the king’s mother (the Moon), the king’s sister or wife (Venus), and the king’s herald and astrologer (Mercury) are being given the runaround by the kingdom’s most ruthless and ambitious merchant (Pluto). The more gentle and kind advisor, Jupiter, is on the run from the palace, and is about to fall into a gang or gaggle of hippies or a caravan of gypsies or circus performers (Neptune). And Uranus, the mob of revolutionaries, are at the palace gates at the midheaven. There’s hunger in the land, in the form of the North Node in Taurus, while the South Node in Scorpio indicates that certain members of the palace staff are perhaps making off with the silverware and the objets d’art. It’s not a coup d’etat in progress in the heavens this week — rather, everyone is reacting to unforeseen events in the least effective ways possible.
It’s not a pretty picture. It sounds like a great novel! But I’m not sure I want to be living in it, even though I am.
While I normally detail this section of my column planet by planet, we should consider instead the stellium in the sixth house, what I’ve called the privy council: most of the visible planets in one sign or room of the Zodiac, while Saturn, the Sun, and Jupiter are elsewhere. Pluto, the ruthless merchant, sits in the decan called The Throne, and Mercury is running away from him — but close enough to hear his commands. The herald/messenger of the Sun-King, Mercury heeds Pluto here as if they were acting for their own true lord, and goes to tell Mars, Venus and the Moon what Pluto’s bidding might be. Together, they’re in the dodecatemoria of Scorpio — a place of gleeful, almost-sensual violence and intensity. Mars and the Moon are in the first decan of Capricorn, the Headless Body, a place of jollity and carefree enjoyment; Mars is in the dodecatemoria of Aquarius — so a restrained, more-prepared jollity — while the Moon is in the dodecatemoria of Aries, and has just come from a meeting with Mars and is on her way to a meeting with Venus. We could read that as “hope for reconciliation but come prepared for violence.” Venus, meanwhile, is in the decan called The Pyramid — constrained by the hierarchy to act in accord with the dictates of superiors, she has few options for action; her specific dodecatemoria is that of Taurus, implying that she’ll have to act for the good of the kingdom and not for her own desires or for those of the king: this is one who will obey the orders from the throne. Capricorn is considered a night house, and many of its symbols are ruins, waste places, or underground locations like cellars or basements — or Situation Rooms. This stellium looks a great deal like the senior leadership of somewhere assembled for a crisis, while the leader is unavailable and subject to another’s command.
Mars deserves a special signal here. While Saturn is the nominal ruler of Capricorn, the elder statesman is currently inconjunct, holed up with the king in Aquarius. Normally, the leadership of an Earth sign would fall to Venus next, or to the Moon, as the triplicity rulers. But, both of them are overruled by their normal junior in Earth signs, the aggressive and ambitious Mars. He’s their deputy in Virgo and Taurus — but in Capricorn specifically he is exalted, an honored guest; and when in the sixth house specifically, he finds his joy. At the moment, no other planet but Saturn outranks him — and Saturn finds the phone lines are cut. The only one who can restrain Mars’ worst impulses is Pluto, and only through influence and persuasion. Moreover, Pluto is Mars’s term, the last four degrees of the sign — the two of them are on the same side.
Overall, this is an ugly-ugly chart.
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have a Patreon account for those who want to support this column as it approaches the midpoint of its third year (I began with Leo I in 2019 ). We’re currently doing a decan walk through some Tarot, astrology, mythology, and magic. 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. I follow T.Susan Chang and the Reverend Erik Arneson for insight into Tarot. 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, “A Full Volume of Splendour and Starlight” contains these smaller collections:
- To the Mansions of the Moon is a collection of hymns to the angels of the Mansions
- 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.
- Festae, hymns to some of the older Roman gods and spirits.