The Sun enters Pisces I, The Labyrinth as Austin Coppock named it, on February 18, 2023 at 5:35 pm, at the moment of the Moon’s monthly conjunction with Mercury — this time around in Aquarius under Saturn’s ungentle auspices and presidency, at a time of the waning moon. Austin Coppock named this decan the Labyrinth for its twisting and winding ways, which lure us toward a perceived center or frighten us toward the exits, while strange bellow and snorts echo in the darkened passage around us — what terrors lurk in these undercrofts and crypts? Is it a real monster — or only the special effects of an environment designed to entertain and focus our attention?
T. Susan Chang reports that this decan is associated with the eight of cups. Associated with abandonment and letting go, it parallels the idea of a labyrinth — there are only two choices at play, here: to go further in, or to depart. There’s a loneliness and a weariness, too, in both cards — somehow, having an abundance of emotion (which the cups suit represents) leads to a world-weariness… and of course, the original Labyrinth of Minos on the island of Crete was built as a prison for the Minotaur — a huge and wild twisting maze of passages occupied forever by only one person who could neither escape nor find peace within. In a very real sense, the only way to truly escape the labyrinth is to pretend it’s not there.
Traditional astrology assigns Saturn as the ruler of this decan — an extension of Saturn’s power beyond his realm and into that of Jupiter. Just as Jupiter rules the first decan of Capricorn, extending his authority in Sagittarius into Saturn’s night-sign, so here does Saturn extend his strength into Jupiter’s night-sign here — the night is not wholly without terror, grief and dismay, and even Jupiter in his delightful hours of retirement cannot escape night-mares completely. So Saturn’s administration should remind us of this.
The decan pulls us into the axis of Pisces-Virgo, whose six planetary administrators leave out the Moon — this is a season of “big picture analysis and detailed grand designs,” in which there’s neither much room for imagination, nor for the nurturing embrace of emotion: It’s a season of cold and rigorous scrutiny. in which mistakes are more likely to be punished than coddled.
Okeanos was the Titanic god of the world-encompassing ocean, and the power whom Poseidon supplanted as the ruler of the Mediterranean. Yet he still ruled the waters beyond the Pillars of Hercules, what we call the Strait of Gibraltar, and he was considered the ruler of this season of the year in the Hellenistic era, between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of Christianity. With the other deities of the Virgo-Pisces axis, we find an unusual rogues’ gallery of spirits — Okeanos, Dolos or trickery, Elpis or hope, Themis the goddess of order and custom, the Moirai or three fates, and Hestia the keeper of the hearth. It’s worth mentioning that all these deities are shape-shifters of various sorts, transforming their visible form to suit the needs and formality of the occasion, or the visitor or suppliant they must impress — or terrify. The Moon is often called the creator of images, and this year I find myself wondering if the Moon really is missing from this axis of the sky — or if her more frightening and trickster aspects are secretly encoded in the deities of the Hellenistic festivals.
The Dodeks or dodecatemoria of Pisces I are Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini, paralleling the decision-making process whenever we decide to exit a complicated situation which we both love and hate — a relationship that isn’t working well, a career path or a job that has much positive potential but equally toxic realities, a social situation with old or new friends where uncomfortable truths are rearing their heads. Pisces is the two fish swimming in opposite directions, “Should I stay or should I go now? // If I stay there will be trouble // if I leave there will be double!” Aries invites us to be decisive, “If you want to make the world a better place // take a look at yourself // and make a change.” Taurus represents the finding of a new position, a new way to be in the world and find comfort: “It’s a bueaituful day // Don’t let it get away.” But the reality is that even being in a perfect place, leads to thoughts of how to make it better. Being in a place of comfort opens up the fast-racing thoughts of Gemini, “Life is a highway, I’m gonna ride it all night long! // If you’re going my way // I wanna drive it all night long!”
The chart of Pisces I is a crepuscular one, just moments after sundown, but this (by the rules of traditional astrology) makes it a Night Chart rather than something “in between.” From time to time, I think about that, and I think it’s a shame that the ancients didn’t ever think about it as a separate thing, neither day nor night but some secret third thing. Perhaps that “secret third thing” includes the condition of Mercury, who switches sides at a moment’s notice — and also Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, the three Outer Planets which are so often seen as shadowy and wild forces on the edges of our perception, vaster and less easily comprehended than the seven visible planets of the ancients. That’s a thought for another day, I think. In any case, the night chart here weakens the Moon and Jupiter, but strengthens Venus and Mars considerably.
The Ascendant shares the first house and Virgo with the Lot of Fortune, making this a Mercury ruled chart. However, Mercury is of considerably weakened dignity: in an Air Sign where they only have triplicity strength by night, but sharing the sky and combust with the Sun, exactly conjunct the Moon and obscured by her; and cadent in the sixth house where they have only middling control over daily affairs. The Ascendant invites us to watch for signs of growth and expansion, while the Lot of Fortune promises new opportunities in the compost, where the wreckage of our old vegetative castings has become food for new life.
Yet Mercury occupies their own decan in Aquarius, called Heaven and Earth — associated with the six of swords, implying daily journeys and diurnal flights of intellectual insight in the next ten days: “what are we hoping for, and what is practicably achievable?” This question looms large in the next ten days! The Moon’s alignment here puts the both in the lucky Twenty-Fifth Mansion, a celebrated tea-house and garden favored by philosophers, poets, and environmentalists. Called The Luckiest Star, its sign has a picture of a man planting a tree — and it is a place where solitary contemplation brings about the fruition of many plans already in motion, and in which new intentions can be nurtured to produce new growth.
Coming soon, Mercury and the Moon face the challenges of Saturn in the decan called The Knot, a place of limitation and unraveled plans, in which growth and nurtured fruition faces the challenge of the pruner’s shears and the gardener’s sickle. The cords that staked the tomato vine to the trellis and the sapling to the arbor are cut here: everything must stand on its own roots, or be undone by the next storm. Saturn is unusually strong here, dignified as the ruler of Aquarius, as well as by triplicity and term; only his cadent position slows his determination; this is an early-rising Saturn, who likes a little shut-eye right after dusk; he’s a little less keen to cause trouble once his daily curmudgeon’s rounds are done.
The Sun in Pisces is not at his best: indecisive and conflicted, he wanders back and forth between beautiful warm days that hint at early spring in the Northern Hemisphere before dancing backwards into days that promise more ice and snow before winter’s end. Fluid in his opinions, he tends to love the ideas of the ones he’s with — and he’s just come from harsh and forbidding Saturn, which is sure to make him stern and resolute. Yet his annual conjunction with Neptune is coming on March 15, a day sure to be one of dreamy possibilities that shine with unusual splendor.
Neptune and Venus are just past their annual conjunction, this year with Venus in the more sovereign position on the 14th of February. You may have had a dreamier and lovelier Valentine’s Day than usual — or it may have turned into a bit of an uncontrolled nightmare. However, with Venus now past her exact degree of exaltation, and Neptune still lingering there, we may find that the dream and fantasy of connection is very much alive while the actuality of that connection is about to be threatened, as Venus enters Aries one if its signs of detriment. A relatively recent Netflix show How to Build a Sex Room illustrates the point —we the audience got to see lots of cool and expensive toys, and fancy interior design work… but the inner work of building intimacy in a couple (or a polycule) remains incomplete and off-camera. That’s how we can look at the separation of Neptune and Venus: the fantasies implied in the show still have to be realized, and that manifestation may be more difficult than the participants intended. With both planets in the seventh house, we are likely to find that The Others in our lives — romantic and business partners, significant others, rivals and even outright enemies — are seen for who we want them to be, rather than as they are. Be careful to see your most intimate figures with clear eyes in coming days.
Jupiter in Aries is only dignified by triplicity — like a lower-court magistrate, he is powerful in his own courtroom, but he is largely a finder of fact and a moderator and mediator between powers. He is the the creature and the officer of powers greater than himself, and he disobeys those higher powers at his own peril. The Eighth House is a place of death and obligations — to the boss, to governments, to princes, to the slow-moving hand of the skeleton-king with hourglass and scythe. Jupiter is expansive and encompassing — but in a fire sign, he promises raging fires and swift cuts; even when generous, he’s still martial in his operations, engendering conflicts and combat with the passive-aggressive maxim, “yeah, it’d be great if you just gave in and did what we wanted.” Expect unpleasant duties to come wrapped in pleasant-sounding language; the outrage will be accompanied by legalistic platitudes.
Uranus holds the middle degree of Taurus, shaking the earth immediately and constantly in the decan called The Lingam-Yoni, and creating immediate trouble for land-routes hither and yon. The Midheaven is in the decan called The Prayer Beads, while the North Node is in the decan called The Plough. Weather changes bring unexpected urgency to the seedling and seed season this year, while transit delays and collegiate mid-terms offer success only to those engaged in some sort of daily practice — the one called “studying” is the one I have in mind.
Mars holds the high ground in Gemini, astride his own decan called The Hermaphrodite. Lawsuits and proposed legislation continues to challenge the right of trans people to exist in public spaces, or even to exist, and Mars threatens worse in the near future, as he crosses the 17° Aries mark on 23 February — Then he’ll be dignified by decan and term, a favorable position for for the lord of conflict and quarrel. In a related theme, Mars in Gemini represents the intellectual and technical resources put at the disposal of militaries around the world, and a recent Business Insider article reports that the war in Ukraine has used up a good percentage of the world’s stockpiled military-grade ammunition — and that Russians, Americans, Europeans, and other nations are rushing production to meet demand. Everyone’s trying to put their forces in the right position, with the right ability to mount appropriate threats against their preferred enemies.
Circling around to the South Node, sharing Scorpio with the Imum Coeli in the third house — the crap comes out in extended family matters, and both trouble and grace arises from our connections with our neighbors and most intimate friends. Watch out for the birds in your neighborhood — there’s new poisons in the air just as migration season gets hopping; and the Bird Flu is the worst that North America has seen in more than a century. That’s a passel of trouble for the robin, the jackdaw, the crow and the eagle — and anything you do to mitigate that may be helpful. That said, common bird-feeders may not be the answer: it may bring infected birds together with the uninfected, and that’s less than ideal this year. If you do have feeders… wash them frequently.
Pluto in the fifth house occupies the anaretic degree (that means “last”) — of Capricorn in the fifth house. It will be there for some time yet, putting a cramp on your style and probably causing your children’s needs and wants and desires to spiral a little out of control. However — on March 23, 2023, Pluto will enter Aquarius — leaving behind the decan called The Throne and entering the decan called The Mark of Exile. Pluto represents the idea of wealth and status, commercial interests, and the vast expansion of the mercantile class over the old political and economic aristocracy. Since 2008, Pluto has traversed Capricorn, during an era in which a vast amount of wealth has shifted from the old middle classes to the ultra-wealthy; and there has been a strong alignment of these commercial interests (think Billionaires) with government individuals and institutions. Pluto in The Mark of Exile suggests that we’re at the high-tide line of that alignment of politics and economic strength; it’s even possible that some ecological catastrophes masquerading as transportation disasters in the last month or so will help open political eyes to the risks they face if they continue to give business a free railroad pass.
Overall, most of the planets are in the reactive, western half of the chart, with the exception of Mars — we have considerable freedom to act, but there are driving public opportunities for conflict and challenge in the next ten days. Largely, we will be responding to demands on our time, resources, attention, and availability. Take it easy, look after your health first and foremost, and remember not to confuse your mental model of the Most Important People In Your Life, with the people themselves. Stay safe out there!
Horoscopes by Rising Sign
Thank you to “Calliope” and “Little Red Sock” who made it possible for all the horoscopes of Pisces to be free to the public thanks to a generous donation through my Ko-Fi account.
Virgo; Dive into the closet and try out some old clothes you haven’t worn in a while; something there may be worth resurrecting for current use. It’s also a good time to plan your garden, even if the weather won’t be suitable for a few more weeks. Someone is hatching a plan sure to bring contention and turbulence to the workplace; your task will be to use expertise, vision, and natural limits to slow down the trouble that gets stirred up. Relationships with partners may briefly heat up, but make sure you’re addressing what your romantic partner wants and not just your belief about what they want. You may have to ask their help in smoothing out financial difficulties; be sure to catch them in a generous moment.
Libra: If you’re in any sort of formal relationship, it would be a good idea to expand your conversations around shared finances in the near future. I’m not saying you should propose to manage one another’s bank accounts — but you should know one another’s attitudes toward shared finances. Clear this up only if you’re on an even financial keel at the moment — don’t be like, “hey, can I borrow $100, and what do you think about making me a co-signer at your bank?” Daily routines will have you longing for a night at a fancy restaurant or even drive-through fast-food — but pay attention to your ideals around food, and live as close as practicable to that dream: if “always eat healthy” is your preferred option, then maybe it’s a home-cooked meal this time around. Surprise — it’s time to learn some disconcerting ancestral history, and maybe read up on some issues you’d probably ahve prefered to not know.
Scorpio: You know how cops tell you that what you say can and will be used against you in a court of law (in the US)? Well, some situations these next ten days will be great opportunities to shut up. Even if a partner suddenly puts 2+2 together from six months ago, you can still learn to respect their agency— and honor your current commitments. Household matters won’t be in flux, exactly, but there’s a hard conversation in your future, and you know it. Roleplay out how you think that conversation will go? What’s the ideal? What can you get away with? What’s the honorable choice? the kind of fun you delight in, deep and intense, waits on the other side of the favorable resolution of dialogue.
Sagittarius: Household issues are on the brain at the moment. You’re liable to get into more trouble when you’re alone, but that’s also where you do your best thinking right now, and set your intentions for the future. Family matters bring both joy and pain, but long-range travel and high-level learning should be on your agenda too. A big opportunity lands in your lap, recognizes your current aptitude and skill level; take advantage of it. Some difficult talks about the state of home and family are in your future, but these things will come on one day at a time. There are dreams and fantasies worth pursuing with others, but lengthy check-ins with spouse or significant other are needed. Be aware of, and wary of, your desires spilling out of control — but offer to wear the crown for a while, just to see if it suits you. A signfiicant other has a conflict with someone in the workplace.
Capricorn: It probably gives you little pleasure to know how your personal desires are entangled with the commercial success or failure of a given range of products or services — but admit that it does give you a little pleasure. There’s a frisson of excitement at work here too, which is perhaps in the cost of the fantasy made reality. OK, yes, you should probably build a little spreadsheet to figure out the actual price of this adventure you’d like, and yes, it will not turn out entirely as intended or desired. But sometimes the surprise and the fun of the ride is in the not-knowing of result. That said, there are some small issues that could be addressed at home, and the costs of your daily routines need to be reined in (a 350-calorie Starbucks order? really). But you can learn so much from opening up the toy box and seeing what grows from it. This is a journey worth taking.
Aquarius: Daily routines will require intelligence, imagination and a little harshness to complete over the next ten days. You may feel like you’re swimming through the treacherous, sticky currents of the Molasses Flood of Boston in 1919 — so many grabby hooks trying to sink into you, so many idealistic presentations that ignore practical reality… The temptation is to find a big chair, sink into your throne, and tell everyone “No” for months on end. But the reality is that the crap has got to come out in order for you to get to your big dream — the big chance you’ve been seeking. Yes, there will be some financial panics in the next ten days. Yes, you may overspend your local budget (probably with the help of your partner). And yes there may be an unpleasant surprise at home, one which causes you to reach for your rosary and speed-dial whatever gods you pray to. And yes, you may have to get tactical (and/or angry) about what you want out of life. But these are solvable. Rein in temper, temper your reign, and meet the daily grind with a recognition that your service is the soil from which your new potential grows.
Pisces:This is the season of your best self — but it begins with you shining a light on the most important Others in your life: spouse, key partners in your business, your obvious rivals and foes. For each of these people, you have a chance to connect to them as they are —or as you dream them to be. You can also choose to compare your fantasy of them with the reality. Take some time to observe them directly, and try to find three ways that your imagination and your observation are out of alignment. Once you do this, you’ll find that your send of obligation to the people you love, and your resistance to challenges from rivals or foes, is greatly strengthened: you’ll not only know who you love, but why; you’ll not only know why you dislike someone, but what philosophy or outlook of theirs you wish to resist. It might take you to March 1 to get it sorted, but you’ll get there.
Aries: Responsibility is a challenging word, but you are up to the challenge. Think about all the people you can afford to be generous to — not necessarily with money but with time and attention, with deliberate effort, with acknowledging that you think about them. There are a small number of people that matter to you professionally, even if you don’t connect to them every day; make a point to seek to make that connection active in the next ten days; be strategic about it, too — set it up so they have to call you back, even if you don’t have anything you need to talk to them about. Just let them know that you are including them in your loop. Adding that subroutine to your daily task-list may feel like you’re taking on a huge burden, but if you call early in the morning or just after closing time, chances are good you won’t have to talk to anyone. Of course, if you’ve imagined a connection is more important than it is, or you’re trying to make up for past wrong-doings, you may get stuck in a few awkward dialogues… but you may still do your career and reputation some good in this way, which is worth pursuing. Get some power in your corner.
Taurus: Sudden surprises, and new chances to exercise agency, come your way. Some of them may not bear fruit for six months; others are a chance to exercise solo leadership. A range of expenses may be burning a very public hole in your pocket. There’s something to the phrase, “the best place to store meat is in my neighbor’s belly,” a common hunter-gatherer axiom — but you should be thinking about your reserves, too. It’s tempting to pour all your capacities into the hands of close friends, intimate others, in support of a dream — but sometimes the hope of connection is just just exactly that: a hope, a dream, but with no plan or follow-through. In order to complete this work, you’re going to have to commit to the follow-through, or learn a couple of hard lessons about who and what you can trust. In all of this, be aware that a partner may be going through a difficult time with family and siblings — and has perhaps another four months of trouble ahead for them.
Gemini: Are you facing attack or rivalry from someone at work, a superior or a colleague? Are you debating within yourself whether to seek a promotion? Whether the conflict is external or internal, you are at a place where some decisions need to be resolved — to not fight back, or to fight but honorably, or to fight dirty. A great deal depends on your home situation: is your familial structure reasonably settled, with strong roots and some newly awakened branches? Then sure — you can probably maneuver away from the fight to a more favorable outcome. If home is a broken cardboard box, a metaphorically or literally flimsy shelter — then you probably have to figure out how to fight. It would be dreamy to just sit back, make snide comments from your desk and do the daily grind… that would be enough. But chances are someone has begi dreams for you, and would like to make you work harder or more coherently, in a way that may or may not be in your wheelhouse: their imagined view of you might be out of alignment with your reality. Ask yourself, though; do you like the person they dream you to be? If so, make a list of what you need, and ask them for it, to become that person. It’ll be hard but rewarding.
Cancer: You have so many friends and obligations to friends at the start of this ten day period, but it may start to feel wearing after just a short period of time. How did you acquire so many friends who want to be your students? What about these other friends who want to be your boss, or want you to boss them around? Why does your relationship suddenly feel like a role-play funtime session gone wrong? How did everything suddenly get so serious? Maybe you said some things you shouldn’t have. Maybe you opened up about fantasies wihout having complete trust. Maybe you talked to friends about their eye-opening inner journey and amazing insights. Or maybe you just don’t trust yourself right now? It may be time to turn your attention back to things that you knew were true when you were smaller and younger, but more intelligent and observant than people believed. There’s wisdom in that box of treasures you last opened when you were in your early twenties, and putting away childish things… maybe it’s time you gazed on those older parts of yourself, and made them breathe with life again.
Leo: It’s going to feel like a lonely ten days at the end of February, watching the sun set on the bay. You want to get back to the city, to where it’s happening, to the game that has always mattered most to you — but chances are that you’re worried about money, about death and disease… and you’re brooding rather than flowering after a long winter. OK, yes, it’s all right to talk shit and self-deprecate; you don’t give into it all that often. But there’s a friend who will help you stir up a bit of ‘good trouble’ about the issues you both care about; there’s a short list of longer-term learning projects or travel you’d like to do… and if you don’t have a partner right now, that’s ok: you’re not likely to find one moping at home, conversing only with a few super-close friends by phone. Don’t have any real obligations right now/? That’s ok — you can invent or imagine some, and then set out to fulfill them. There’s a legal issue you want to understand better, even if it’s only an intellectual exercise — why not start there??
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If you want to read some of my astrologically-oriented poetry, the largest collection is called A Full Volume of Splendor and Starlight, available through my Etsy shop, and containing poems and hymns to the planets, constellations, decan deities, and Moon Mansion angels. 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.
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. I also 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 for much of my planetary delineations. Neither gentleman endorses me.