Out of the Darkness

“magnesium bulb straight through crystal clear” by Lanvi Nguyen

INTELLIGENCE 2020 for Aquarius

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Humans are works in progress, though like the painting that is never finished, we arrive at interesting places; you are headed toward one. You have some ground to cross before you get there, and it is deep, inner territory. There is no going around it. You’ve been involved in this journey for a while, though you are rapidly moving toward your peak revelations, breakthroughs and opportunities for growth.

Your next major destination, as marked by astrology, is a conjunction of Jupiter and your ruling planet Saturn, in your sign, on Dec. 21, 2020. This is a global-scale, generational event, and it puts your sign or rising sign, and by extension you, right in the spotlight. Based on the change this represents from your current situation, it’s a breakthrough — though you will have to work to get there.

It will be worth it. The result — potentially, even likely — is a new dimension of coming into yourself. There are those times, though they are rare, when someone wakes up and finally feels like themselves, as if reborn. This is what your astrology describes, though as I will keep repeating: you’ll have to cover some ground to get there.

By now, you have quite possibly established a relationship to what you need to accomplish, and to the material you are processing. Yet given the specifics of the astrology (events in Capricorn, the difficult-to-perceive 12th house), it’s possible that you’re overlooking something, or missing the big picture.

So it’s time for a reassessment. Let’s start with the basics: How would you size up your overall psychological state? I mean this from day to day, month to month and season to season? If you were to select from words that include (randomly), calm, content, restless, overwhelmed, creative, stable, frustrated, bored, excited, joyous, angry, unstable, grateful, resentful, lonely, generous, frightened, relaxed, confident or appreciated, which among them would you select?

Do you feel like you’re moving or growing in a positive direction? Do you have a sense of the future? This last one may be a sensitive or difficult question. There is a real challenge seeing ahead in our era; tomorrow seems to be rushing at us with ever-increasing speed. And working with the passage of time is one of the key elements of your growth process. This means learning how to use time as your ally.

One Overall Metaphor

Getting to the essence of things, there is one metaphor that will serve you well: clearing space. You are doing this on a psychic level (by which I mean mental and emotional), which I will describe soon in greater detail. Yet it will help you to match this on the physical plane, with actual movement of matter and energy.

Most Westerners and nearly all Americans have way too much stuff. And there never seems to be time to go through it. Garages, basements, attics, storage units, closets, kitchen cabinets, spare rooms — there is just so much. You can think of this as a metaphor. The most productive physical activity you can involve yourself with over the next two years is clearing out spaces. If you have not already begun, I suggest you do so immediately, so that there is not a long delay.

Then establish it as a habit. Ideally, this would be a weekly or even daily activity of some kind. I know that it’s often a tedious task, even an arduous one. It disrupts the pattern, flow and organization of your current life, and it takes time. Yet it’s necessary that you dig in, and get the flow of change going. You can start with one drawer, one closet, one box. Then, move on to the next. As you work, keep a scrapbook of some kind.

You would probably benefit from help, if you’re the kind of person who can work with others on this sort of thing; there are people who are very good at this kind of work, and you may know one. This might not be necessary for a closet but might work beautifully for something like a garage-cleaning project. Orient the whole effort on what can be repurposed, recycled, donated or otherwise passed forward.

Once you get the sensation of how good this feels, you will be convinced and committed. Clearing space also means clearing time (if only for the purpose of doing the work), and this will be a form of discipline that will be productive. There are other physical metaphors from which you can benefit, which I’ll get into — though for just about every reason, clearing physical spaces and reducing the amount of stuff in your life will be highly productive in all respects.

Notice how you feel when you open up a box of things you’ve seen innumerable times, and notice how you feel when you choose to let go of something. You will be doing a lot of this on the subtle planes, and you can train yourself by connecting to the sensation on the physical level.

Two Other Tools

Before we dive into the astrology involved, there is another tool that will be helpful in getting your bearings and tracking your progress: a dream journal. As you’ll see, much of your astrology is taking place in the 12th house, which is the “house of dreams.” While this is not usually the easiest house to gain access to, you now have compelling reasons to do so.

In this spirit, a dream journal will become your best companion. Even if you only catch a glimpse of what was happening on the other side, write that down. As significant as the imagery is the feeling you have experiencing it or recalling it. Usually the feeling of dreams is the most palpable thing about them. The imagery may be interesting or ordinary, but having very, very strong feelings about a pepper shaker is worth taking note of.

In general, writing will also be an essential tool. This involves Chiron ingressing your 3rd house, which is where you have Aries. The sign Aries is one of those “triple word score” places in any chart, because it’s so closely involved with self and self-development. The 3rd is the house of writing, and many other forms of communication. Focusing and refining this skill will provide you with many gifts, and provide a window into yourself that will be unavailable any other way. By writing, I mean something besides what you do out of necessity for work (except for special projects that you’re able to infuse with wisdom and love); and social media does not count, because it’s way too involved with other people.

Many of my clients and other people in my life have made excellent use of the writing processes outlined in The Artist’s Way. The author proposes unusual techniques, like journaling every morning for a month but not reading what you’ve written. This is writing to clear your head, which is an excellent use of a journal. It externalizes your inner dialog, which can have a way of helping you settle down.

Let’s consider your astrology in more detail.

Uranus on the 4th/10th Axis

Most of this reading addresses inner movements, rather than outer developments in the world — though there is one vital point of external expression: some truly exciting developments in your professional life. This is associated with the sign change of Uranus into Taurus, crossing the threshold of your 4th/10th house axis.

Having fixed signs on this axis (Taurus on the 4th, Scorpio on the 10th) suggests you prefer stability in your professional life; you’re the type who likes to hold a job or a mission for a while. Now this is being updated. It’s as if you are reinventing your mission in life. This is not merely a “career change.” There’s a calling that’s compelling and will get your attention one way or another.

Uranus transiting the 4th house describes having inner work on your agenda, which is likely the catalyst and driver for all of this; though don’t let it stop you from manifesting that process outwardly. This transit is a challenge to all that you feel makes you safe and secure, whether it does or not. It’s an invitation to stand up to the prevailing values of your family, and to make your own decisions on your own terms. This will relate to everything from where you live to how you live to how you relate to others, to what you do with your vital energy and creativity. Part of how you develop your inner being will be expressing yourself. In fact, the power of your “inner life” transits makes it vital that you find some means of expressing yourself in the world, in new ways, that challenge you to grow.

Perhaps start with experiments, though take advantage of any point of beginning that you have available. Take any chance to move in a direction that truly means something to you. The nature of this transit, when combined with the fixed signs and the 4th/10th axis, is about doing what actually matters. That’s a meeting place of what matters to you, and to the world, in that order.

This is not about saving the world; it’s about engaging with the world in a way that is useful, and exciting for you. This is a seven-year transit, so there is no rush, though you can begin in earnest; it’s likely that you have already done so.

If this comes with a shakeup of some long-held position or career path, let it happen. Much greater things await you, if you will take the initiative and move toward them.

Saturn and Pluto in the 12th House

Your astrology has you under considerable pressure. It may be subtle, it may be overt, you may give it any one of a number of names; these might change, depending on where you’re at. This influences both Aquarius Sun and rising, though the effects may be considerably stronger if you are Aquarius rising. This astrology is so unusual that Aquarius Moon will likely experience it in a similar way as well.

NY Times front pages from the summer of 2008, soon after Pluto entered Capricorn. Click on image to enlarge.

The bottom line of your astrology, in the long run, is focused on Pluto in Capricorn, transiting your 12th house. This is the factor on which everything pivots and has for a long time. It represents a tectonic force moving through a hidden dimension of your psyche, and a deeply sensitive dimension, too. Note that both Pluto and the 12th tend to operate below the level of liminality; that is, below the level of full awareness, or any awareness at all. The 12th can disappear as if it’s another dimension, and Pluto is famous for his helmet of invisibility.

The way to work with 12th house transits is to gently bring them to full awareness. It helps that you have the advantage of astrology; otherwise, you might not have a metaphor to work with.

Your Pluto transit through the 12th has been going on since 2008, a year which may have represented a turning point in your life: perhaps imperceptible at the time, though seen in hindsight, a break from the past that you didn’t understand, and a past self that you could not exactly relate to being. You may now have a much better sense of what that was about, though it will help if you convey your knowledge into ideas about how to conduct yourself and your affairs, now that you’re approaching a similar turning point.

The same journey you embarked on in 2008 is still underway, and reaches a new peak of intensity through 2019 and in early 2020. There have been several peaks, particularly one that rolled along through 2011-2012.

As the seasons progress, you may feel an increase in various psychic or inner forces, and it will help you to have a picture of what is developing, and what some of the processes are. By the end of 2020, if you can go through this journey in an alert and conscious way, you will arrive at a breakthrough point: a point of arrival and a new phase of your life oriented on the future rather than the past.

This is a major developmental step for you, no matter what your age. You are in a “before and after” moment. It corresponds to a series of changes developing in society with which you will be synchronized if you remain aware of your inner movements and the developing tides, currents and climate of the world around you. To do this, you will need to slow down. As Bob Dylan said in the 1970s, there’s no time to think — though for you, there has to be. (This is part of the function that daily writing will serve, setting aside time to think. Imagine if you could have the opportunity to read the personal diary of someone who was close to the intense changes of that era.)

In the past 15 months or so (as of this writing, in February 2019), a number of new factors have entered your 12th house. Principal among them is your ruling planet Saturn. One possibility is that this influence is giving some substance to developments in what I’ll call your 12th house mind — the difficult-to-grasp world that lurks below the level of full awareness. Saturn is here to wake up this dimension for you, and call attention to your inner psychological movement.

Saturn is a significator for you, and you now have direct access to your inner world. It’s as if you’ve become eyewitness to your own process of growth and change; there are many terms for this out of various spiritual and therapy practices, such as inner observer.

Saturn is also applying pressure to Pluto, which will accelerate your changes, and can take you up to the critical mass point.

You may also be dealing with the sensation that time is running out. You can take that on any level, though the bottom line of time is mortality. Each in its own way, Saturn, Pluto, Capricorn and the 12th all resonate with this topic. The final takeaway is that time as we know it is finite. I know it’s trendy to live like one will live forever, wasting time as if it’s an infinite resource. It is not; it’s the most precious resource there is, because without it, we have nothing else.

So we could say that the essence of your 12th house transits is learning how to use time well and wisely. This is part of a maturing process, and any maturing process requires a conscious relationship with death. Then and only then does one get to appreciate, experience and enjoy life as a fully sentient being.

On a similar note, the 12th addresses the theme of deep fear. These planets transiting your 12th are likely to stir up what you might call existential fears. Typically, matters of the 12th house are addressed by denial. That is, the feelings are too big, the matters too serious or intense, so the thing to do is to tune out and turn off. However, you need to take the opposite approach. I don’t use the word “need” lightly here. These are not casual or typical transits; Saturn conjunct Pluto in the 12th house is one of the most unusual and challenging transits in all of astrology. Pluto on its own would be quite enough — as you’ve seen the past decade.

By unusual, I mean that you must treat it with the care of a non-ordinary thing, and something potentially risky or dangerous from a psychological standpoint. This transit presents you with a special vulnerability. It’s necessary to be responsive to your inner pressures, motives, drives and needs. Self-understanding is not easy, though it’s now the essence of your personal quest. It will help if you never feel like you’ve arrived. The 12th is a mysterious place; there is always another layer, and another branch of the labyrinth to discover.

Be Cautious of Saviors

At this time in your life, I suggest you be cautious of anyone you think can save you (from what, I don’t know, though this is associated with 12th house transits). This could include any person with charisma who seems to answer some element of your struggle, your frustration or your need to do deep work. This includes keeping a realistic perspective on partners and people you respect. Remember they are human, just like you. If you have a relationship with a therapist, make sure you understand how that works. Remember that one of the very most important elements of working with a therapist is the development of trust — much more than their ability to help you heal. Developing trust is the healing, in itself. Keep a sense of proportion about who the people in your life are. Know when you’re giving someone power over you, whether it’s emotional, your house key, access to your money, or influence over a decision that you make.

The Question of Character Development

There are reasonable grounds for debate about whether humans change their nature. Certainly some can, if they want to; that is the deciding factor, generally and maybe even always. The story of every great success involves some version of “I overcame my limitations.” We could say that quality was in their nature, and have a long chicken-and-egg go-around. (This is similar to, “If your guru takes karma from you, then it was your karma that they do so.”)

On my watch, people grow and change because they want to, or because they are put in a position of having no other choice if they want to keep living.

By want to, I don’t mean having good intentions. I mean wanting like one’s body calling out for air when the head is immersed too long. I mean wanting to speak, read and write like Helen Keller did. I mean like the Wright brothers wanting to fly.

Yet this is rare; there is a disturbing tendency in humanity, which is its struggle with acknowledging the need and the desire to grow; and worse, with growth seeming inconvenient. It is. That’s the whole thing. Cleaning is inconvenient. But when you’re done, your place is in order and more livable. This is a real struggle for many people — a genuine life struggle.

This often involves a blind spot, or a place where it’s difficult to apply effort. The 12th, discussed above, certainly qualifies as such. It’s the place where people, issues, feelings and needs disappear — and where it is now your task to retrieve them, and to track them, even if they seem to be moving underwater.

I suggest you develop a means of being circumspect in the 360-degree sense of the word. Look around you, and develop a dependable way to look within, with some objectivity. There are tools for that, which I’ll get into in a bit. Most of them involve documentation and communication.

The phrase incorrectly attributed to Churchill — “nations (or Americans) behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives” — applies to many people, though with individuals, the situation is often somewhat worse. Sometimes, it seems the greater the need to grow, the less interested someone is in doing so. As someone who follows your own astrology, I doubt this is true for you. Often, you take up your growth as a voluntary expression of your being, though like all of us, you are subject to the pressures of enforced changes, and you may be experiencing that.

Yet this is extraordinary astrology that you’re under now, and your measures must be effective. It would help to have a map. Let’s borrow a bit from A Course in Miracles here, so we have a model. In the Manual for Teachers, under a chapter called Development of Trust, there are several growth phases mapped out. The first phase is called a Period of Undoing. This is about unlearning many things that are not true.

The second phase is the Period of Sorting Out. The challenge here involves figuring out what is true and what is not, and being honest about that. More important is discerning what is helpful and what is not. This phase lasts a while, with the main learning goal being gaining that discernment — and then applying it to everything and everyone in your life. Once you use the “Is this helpful?” test, you will be amazed what you figure out was unhelpful that you had kept around for so long.

I would propose that these planetary movements through Capricorn, your 12th solar house, represent these two phases in your healing process. They are of the nature of the 12th: undoing and sorting. This is a direct benefit, in that those particular functions are magnified.

In a sense, who you are becoming does not matter as much as who you are unbecoming; what you are unraveling. Once you get a sense of your progress and have some clear space to work with, you will have a much clearer perspective on who you’re evolving into, though that won’t be fully clear until late 2020.

Jupiter Enters Capricorn, December 2019

Note that there is a turning point when Jupiter enters Capricorn in December 2019. This is in the immediate run-up to the Saturn-Pluto alignment of January 2020, which is really a five-way grand conjunction between Mercury, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto. My sense is that the ingress of Jupiter into your 12th is likely to be a kind of A-HA moment, where you suddenly feel like the lights have come on. The presence of Mercury indicates that you will be able to express this, particularly to yourself.

You may discover the exact nature of the family material you’re working through, which likely involves all that your mother did not, could not, or would not say. (We get mother’s involvement from Ceres.) There are other factors that suggest deep family stuff, which may not have anything directly to do with you. Those factors are Pholus and Quaoar (for details, please see the Capricorn reading, using the password badger).

These factors, relatively new to your astrology, are making it convenient to take significant strides on what some call “family of origin work.” Yet because the planets involved are ultra-slow-movers (they will spend up to 22 years in Capricorn, making an aspect to a point in Aries), there is some larger purpose involved — some tapping into ancestral wisdom, which is one of the highest vibrations of the 12th. But before you get to the wisdom, it’s often necessary to sort out the baggage that comes down the generations.

You have a head start, as Pluto has been present for so long. You know that your growth depends upon your evolutionary drive — a kind of do-or-die instinct to keep breathing, stretching into yourself, and seeking understanding. The new factors are centaur planet Pholus, and a classical Kuiper object called Quaoar. This may be like tapping into a well of family secrets.

Those could be on any topic, though the truth is, the only actual family secrets deal with sexuality. Indeed, the whole concept of a secret is centered around sex. Is there really buried treasure? Did anyone actually kill anyone? Was anyone’s family in the Mafia (well, maybe, but that’s not a secret). What people are obsessed with hiding is sex. And we might ask why that is. I will offer a theory, and try to keep it short.

While I could write a book about this, I know of one that has already been written, called Healing the Shame that Binds You. Here is a quotation relevant to your spiritual journey:

Family secrets can go back for generations. They can be about suicides, homicides, incest, abortions, addictions, public loss of face, financial disaster, etc. All the secrets get acted out. This is the power of toxic shame. The pain and suffering of shame generate automatic and unconscious defenses. Freud called these defenses by various names: denial, idealization of parents, repression of emotions and dissociation from emotions. What is important to note is that we can’t know what we don’t know. Denial, idealization, repression and dissociation are unconscious survival mechanisms. Because they are unconscious, we lose touch with the shame, hurt and pain they cover up. We cannot heal what we cannot feel. So without recovery, our toxic shame gets carried for generations.

It’s likely that we are talking about family sexual secrets — ones that burn up a lot of your energy, and which you are in the process of clearing and bringing to the light. One of the least-spoken angles of the 12th is that it represents the deepest level of sexuality — the things you might not admit to yourself, or that are concealed from your awareness (and which are now bubbling up). This is not just about healing the past; it’s about liberating yourself in the present.

A Potentially Invisible Matter of Self-Esteem

I want to touch briefly on the topic of self-esteem, which is a factor of the 2nd house of astrology (in solar chart astrology, this is represented by the sign after yours). Self-esteem is an odd construction of words; we could also use self-respect, or self-value. It happens that this is a major theme for a number of different signs.

I have written before, will write again, and will write today, that self-esteem is one of the very top issues facing our society. If we could make some progress on the value that people place upon themselves, their lives and what they have to offer, the world would be in a lot better shape.

Yet this topic manifests in an especially curious way for Aquarius, because you have Pisces on the 2nd house. Apart from any transits (and you have a good few happening), this places you in one of two positions. Pisces can manifest as a void, or absence, of a tangible sense of self-value, as if you had to sacrifice it for someone or something; or you can connect to the inherently spiritual nature of Pisces.

Pisces can do beautiful and inspired and creative things. It’s also subject to being corrupted, whether by doubt or by substance abuse or by an unresolved legacy of personal abuse. Pisces is prone to victim consciousness. With Neptune currently present in Pisces, this is particularly true.

There is one way, in truth, to take the high side of this situation, which is to follow the teachings of Nessus, a planet that will be in Pisces for many years. This is to take accountability for your feelings and past experiences. This is not about self-blame (or victim blaming). It’s about how you are the only person who can, in reality, heal what has happened to you in the past. The buck must stop with you. This is not popular; blame is popular. Self-blame is the fallback position.

I am talking about making a conscious choice to take responsibility for your healing process. That will be the essence of building and maintaining your self-respect. While working out what you have to work out may not be simple, the equation of what you need to do is. Just keep reminding yourself, “The buck stops with me.” You are the one who deals the cards.

Chiron in Aries: Know When You Don’t Know

It’s widely accepted that Aquarians are a rare breed of brainiacs. There is a streak of intelligence and a certain capacity for abstract thought, and industriousness, that runs through all things related to this sign. Part of the reputation comes from one man, Thomas Edison. (Note that he has a lot of Capricorn, Pisces and Aries in his chart as well, demonstrating how adjoining signs to that containing the Sun describe the sign in question — and also demonstrating the theory I’m about to offer.)

Edison had a personality flaw, which is that he didn’t know what he didn’t know. Were it up to him, the entire countryside would be dotted with little direct-current generators; it took Nikola Tesla to invent alternating current. Remember this: know when you don’t know. Find out when you don’t know. Keep people around who tell you when they think you don’t know, and develop this capacity yourself. It will truly be a mark of character. Be ready and willing to be wrong. That’s the sign of true intelligence, and intelligence is important to you.

You could study the daylights out of the properties of your sign and still not quite identify where that focus comes from: the intensity, and the identification with ideas. I believe this is best described by the presence of Aries on the 3rd house of the archetypal chart (or solar chart) for Aquarius. Wherever Aries is in the solar chart, or the natal chart, is a place where someone will strive to find their identity. In the 3rd house, this would be your mind. If you identify with your mind, you are more likely to use it.

The potential problem here is over-identification with the mind, which can come with a kind of blind spot. The past seven years of Uranus in Aries, along with the Uranus-Pluto square and the Uranus-Eris conjunction (two major events that dominated existence in the 2012-era, and then in the 2017-era), may have had a restless and over-busy feeling for you, even by today’s standards.

In order to cultivate and protect the integrity of your mind, and of your self-development, it will help immensely if you learn how to leave your “smart” phone at home, and avoid every possible manifestation of artificial intelligence and robotics, from GPS to Alexa to Siri. Forget it! Do the work yourself. These technologies have a scattering effect on you. While one way to resolve this would be a deepening of book literacy, that presents certain challenges; though it would be wise of you to read as many books as possible. Yet a power tool that will have the same effect is writing, which is why I recommend it. Morning pages are a good start, though I really mean writing that you dive into and develop, edit, revise and rewrite.

The arrival of Chiron is here to pull focus onto your mental capacity, which is directly related to your personal integrity, your self-awareness and your ability to understand who you are and who you are becoming. Practice the art of knowing when you don’t know by attempting to prove yourself wrong. Master the nuance of the follow-up question. Any time you feel certain of something, stand back.

The Jupiter-Saturn Cycle, and Aquarius

Let’s return to where we began — your point of arrival in an interesting place is around the winter solstice of 2020, when Jupiter and Saturn make a conjunction in the first degree of your sign. The details are genuinely interesting.

There are two planets involved — Jupiter, with a 12-year cycle of its own; and Saturn, with a 29-year cycle of its own. The Jupiter-Saturn cycle, where the two are overlaid, is one of the heartbeats of astrology. They’re the two largest planets, sometimes described (usually by me) as the two hands of God working at the potter’s wheel. Saturn provides outer support for the soft, spinning pot in formation, while Jupiter provides the factor of expansion, pushing the pot out from the inside.

As a 20-year cycle, it’s a generational marker and in its own way describes the dawning of a new era. Any contact between Jupiter and Saturn is significant; the conjunction is particularly so, being one of those events that seems to advance the story of humanity to its next stage.

To arrive at this point having completed the work that you’re currently doing will feel like being reborn into another life, one closer to the one that you want. This is not a given. There are no guarantees. You are undergoing a metamorphosis in the 12th house, and that is a mysterious process; it’s hard to imagine what’s happening inside the chrysalis. There is a limited degree to which you can influence it, though within that range of action, your awareness and power of choice will be important.

As I have suggested before, astrological events gain influence by their rarity. Jupiter and Saturn are rarely ever conjunct in Aquarius. I could not remember ever seeing one, so I dug in and explored. The most recent conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius that I could find, after a careful, computer-aided search, was on Jan. 16, 1405, long before Magellan; long before Cortez; long before Columbus showed up in Haiti. Prior to that, the next most recent conjunction was 1345. These conjunctions seem to happen a lot in Gemini, Libra and Scorpio; it’s an interesting pattern. However, never in the modern age has there been such a conjunction in Aquarius.

This somewhat parallels the Mars retrograde of 2018, which happened in Aquarius for the first time in 47 years, which is more than enough time for some unusual result (I have covered this in some detail in your audio reading).

In classical astrology, Aquarius is ruled by Saturn, so in any event the return to Aquarius of Saturn is significant, particularly to you. With the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, the cosmos is wanting to get our attention. Put the conjunction in the first degree of your sign, and we have reason to celebrate — a true homecoming, and the journey back to yourself.