February 24 - March 21, 2021
Venus has now left the Spartan air of Aquarius and today emerges from the seafoam into her favorite place in the Zodiac: the cosmic bath of Pisces, where she was born long, long ago. Her doves, dolphins and sea nymphs welcome her with fanfare, and she is lavished with all the finest pearls, rarest dyes and precious sunken treasure of the deep. In Pisces, the love goddess not only melds into but luxuriates in The Other, and the pleasure she seeks expands to euphoria and intoxication.
Venus in Pisces can take many forms for her lover: what do you want her to be? She can be the Madonna or the Magdalene; Queen of Heaven or Lady of Sorrows. She can be the Thelemic Babalon or the Dionysian maenad. She can shapeshift into savior or siren; into mother, martyr or prostitute. She is a mirror to our own souls, the anima of our own individual psyches. However we conceive of her, her love is boundless and infinite, and her grail womb is a sacred chalice from which libations abundantly pour.
The goddess, when she was Aphrodite, transformed herself and her son into fish to escape the raging sea monster. Because of her actions, they were the only ones to survive the destruction. Venus in Pisces can bring a deep desire to protect and to heal, as well as to numb and to escape. In her attempts to save, she can swallow you up or sweep you away, so if you dive down under then you must remember to come back up again. The temptation to dissolve is great and powerful. But this transit can bring a balm for the soul, and great care and compassion to the heart.
February 18 - March 20, 2021
Today, the Sun moves into Pisces, the sign of the celestial fish. Two swimmers, connected by a heavenly umbilical cord. Or, in other depictions, two teardrops following each other’s tails in the circle of yin and yang. Mythically, Pisces tells stories of Aphrodite and Eros, of Jesus Christ, and of much older life-giving deities than those. Archetypally, it contains stories of faith and fertility, of mothers and sons, of dreams and the unconscious, of escapism and the ineffable.
For those born under Pisces, how strongly one’s Sun (read: Ego function) shines is a question of proximity to sea level. For some, the birth chart is cast so that the light looks and feels as it does from just under the surface of the water: bright, benevolent rays, flitting, rippling and tripping off the psychedelic waves, moving and morphing from moment to moment. Others, through their nativities, live further down, where the solar light is blurry, gauzy and diffused, as if in a dream—still warm, but losing its potency. And others live in the deepest depths, where evidence of the Sun is just a dim point of light, a hazy beacon that stands to remind them of the way skyward. Here, life is strange and otherworldly, with fantastical creatures that feel, rather than see, their way around. For all who inhabit it, the watery internal world of Pisces encapsulates and envelopes to varying degrees, from quiet and womblike to overwhelming and inundating.
Of all the various forms of love the Ancient Greeks had words for, “agape” was considered the highest, purest, form. It referred to the unconditional, selfless and charitable love that flows from the divine Source, and toward which we should all aspire. Pisces espouses this spiritual concept more than any of the other signs. With its mystic eyes, it looks through the Neptunian glass darkly, and grapples with the enigma of being a soul housed in a body; of being both perfect and imperfect; and of a God that is at once everywhere and nowhere. And with its poet’s heart, Pisces teaches us that there are realms to be explored, and beauty to be found, beyond the tangible world.
There’s a scene in the film “Jurassic Park”, where Jeff Goldblum’s character, chaos theory mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm, is expressing his deep reservations to the team of park scientists about tampering with the genes of an extinct species. “If there’s anything the history of evolution has taught us,” he tells them, “it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories, and it crashes though barriers—painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life…finds a way.” There is Saturn-Uranus wisdom contained in this speech, I think, but hold that thought—before we look at this planetary cycle with a philosophical eye, let’s first look at it with a historical one.
A cursory Wikipedia search, with the ephemeris in hand, will tell us that the current cycle began in 1988 with their conjunction. That year we saw, among other things, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the birth of Al-Qaeda, the election of Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan, the 8888 Uprising in Burma, and the conception of the World Wide Web in Switzerland. In the United States, the first major computer virus (aka the “Great Worm”) was unleashed, the Tompkins Square Park Police Riots erupted in New York City, and the North American Drought brought record crop loss, dust storms, heat waves and wildfires to large swaths of the country.
In 1999-2000, when the first series of squares took place, the Euro became established currency, Microsoft made Bill Gates the wealthiest man in the world, the Enron energy trading shenanigans were taking place, the Columbine High School Massacre planted a new fear in the American psyche, and Napster (short-lived though it was) forever changed the music industry.
2008-2010, when the planets were in opposition, were the years of the global financial crisis, the WikiLeaks scandal, and the Deep Water Horizon explosion. Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency, and the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Now, as Saturn and Uranus form their first of three waning squares this year, we are three-quarters of the way though the 45-year cycle of the two Titan planets, and due for similar such shake-ups. We must always keep in mind that planetary cycles do not unfold in a vacuum, nor does history ever repeat itself exactly, and that the many moving parts of the cosmos make it unwise, erroneous even, to lay any world event solely at the feet of any one transit. Nevertheless, the outer planetary cycles undoubtedly have their signatures, and Saturn-Uranus bears the mark of the Game Changer.
Looking to mythology for insight into these two characters, we have Saturn-Cronos, the antediluvian agrarian god of nature, the material world, and the life/death cycle; and Uranus—in one aspect, primordial sky father to Cronos, and in another, Prometheus, fire-thief and friend to humanity. Their stories speak of castration, rebellion and betrayal, as well as creation, evolution and liberation. These two planets, in conversation and confrontation, not only break molds, but awaken the collective to new, hitherto unimagined ways of doing and seeing things. They bring disruption to the status quo and challenge to authority. We find ourselves in new, swiftly-changing territory, where we must adapt, change tack, and consider new possibilities, while the old order feels a rattle in its bones.
We can feel into the Saturn-Uranus interplay through film and fiction as well, which brings us back to “Jurassic Park,” a story that depicts its own reimagined Titanomachy, and with each human character taking turns embodying the Saturnian and the Uranian. A cautionary tale, packaged as action film, it reminds us that nature is predictably unpredictable, that the law of unforeseen consequences is always in play, and what we call progress comes at a price. “Discovery,” says Dr. Malcolm, “is a violent, penetrative act, that scars what it explores. What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world.” Michael Crichton, the author of the book upon which the film is based, was born during the Saturn-Uranus conjunction of 1942, and it comes through strongly in his most famous work. Consider, also, another of his dystopian creations, “Westworld,” which explores the same themes of life that is created versus life that creates itself.
Writer and genius, Mary Shelley, who had her natal Sun conjunct Uranus (in sextile to Saturn), wrote herself into her character of Dr. Frankenstein (her “Modern Prometheus”), evoking the image of the Titan fashioning prototypical humans out of clay, as well as the torture, exile, and loneliness that accompanied him. We also hear the voice of Saturn in his reckoning with death, loss, and the limitations of being alive and bound to the earth. In Shelley’s story, the desire to create and the desire to destroy vie equally in the psyche.
There seems to be a deep human drive to birth something that will outlive us, but not usurp us. Creation and nemesis, story and myth remind us, tread a thin line: Robinhood, Frankenstein’s monster, and Loki the trickster all grow out of the same archetypal soil. Take Harry Potter—“the boy who lived”—and Tom Marvolo Riddle, the most powerful dark wizard in the world, for another example—alike but for a very few, but very consequential, differences (J.K. Rowling was born during the Saturn-Uranus opposition of 1965).
As we enter this pivotal point of the Saturn-Uranus narrative, we can expect the unexpected to define this year; for the proverbial genie to be let out of the bottle, the proverbial wrench to be thrown in the spokes, and the proverbial envelope to be pushed. Beyond that, I’m not willing to predict. But whatever comes of this time, it will contain the following Saturn-Uranus truths: order and disorder are two sides of the same coin. Life force is not only generative but reliant upon change. To innovate is to mutate. The glitch, the spark, the lightning bolt—these are alchemical agents that disrupt the existing order, giving birth to something new that wasn’t there before. Life always finds a way.