Astrologer Laura Craig

Retrograde Season 2020: Apocalypse Now?

Arnold Böcklin “Isle of the Dead”

In addition to Venus, now Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all retrograde. Already slow-moving planets moving even slower. Cool cool. It sounds scarier than it is—outer planet retrogrades happen every year—but that doesn’t mean it won’t be an eye-opening time. For all of us, these planets will be highlighting specific sections of terrain in the chart as if to say, “you sure you don’t wanna take one more look?” Like good editors, retrogrades force us to go over our work not just once, not just twice, but three times. The editor metaphor for Venus in Gemini has us revising and possibly rewriting the stories we carry about love and beauty. With the other three in the last decan of Capricorn, we are poring over soul contracts and balancing our karmic accounts. It’s a much weightier job.

Saturn retrograde will examine your relationship to authority, aging and consequences. How well have you managed your time and your money? How are your bones and teeth, or the roof and foundation of your house? Have you been upholding your commitments? It’s great to have goals and aspirations—have you been putting in the work? Based on your age and stage of life, are you satisfied with what you’ve accomplished? What are your feelings on death lately? That’s Saturn, keepin’ it real. 

Jupiter retrograde challenges our faith and our beliefs. Whatever we were accustomed to seeking externally or out in the world must now be found within ourselves, close to home, or enjoyed with limitations. If there was a question of over-spending, over-indulging, over-working, or over-relying—too much of anything—this should give you your answer. For some, this period of withdrawal will be a huge buzzkill; for others, a spiritual opportunity. 

Pluto retrograde calls up our cultural and individual Fear of the Dark. Long ago, darkness was quite intentionally linked to badness in the collective unconscious. But dark is just the polarity of light and neither has any inherent value. Pluto retrograde on a macro level is a spotlight on the things we virtue-signal against but privately or unconsciously grapple with: racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, violence and all forms of abuse, wealth accumulation and distribution, sexual shame—to name some. I can’t speak for the rest of the world but I can speak on the US: If you’re still mystified by the anger of minorities, or flinch with defensiveness at the concept of privilege; if you can’t see why the pain of black and brown people being expressed today grows out of compounded generational trauma going back 400 years (and for women, so long ago no one even remembers) —for fuck’s sake, overcome your fragility and please try to get your head around it this time. Pluto will see to it that you at least have the opportunity.

And thus, Pluto work on a micro level looks like radical honesty with yourself. It is probing and noting—without judgment—the contents of your personal underworld. Asking hard questions and sitting with discomfort. What triggers you? Who elicits a strong reaction out of you? What scares, disgusts, thrills or repulses you? The things in the world that we hate and fear unfortunately exist in some form in ourselves or plagued us in past lives. Until we accept them and learn from them, they will continue to create spiritual and emotional blockages, and send ripples of negativity into the world. Pluto work is purification work. And it must be done from a place of radical self-love, humility, readiness, and with support from the people you trust. Where do you find the shadow in your chart? It hides in a number of places, but Pluto and Saturn placements, the nodal axis, and heavy square aspects are good places to look first. 

The word “apocalypse” gets thrown around a lot these days. I have no interest in speculating about end times, but what does interest me is the etymology of that word. It comes from a Greek root word meaning “an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling.” It is also related via cognate to our word “hell.” Stripped of their fire and brimstone modern religious connotations, both words carry deeply esoteric concepts. An apocalypse is really a great revelation. The “underworld” is just another place apart from the physical world. We imagine it as dark because it can’t be seen or controlled, and because it’s where things hide. But it exists inside of ourselves, alongside the light, and when we access it, it reveals things to us. Carl Jung said: “To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light.” If, in fact, this is the apocalypse, then I can get behind that idea much more easily than imagining some kind of cataclysmic final reckoning of good versus evil.

My hope is that, as we all take turns descending into and coming out of our own dark places during 2020, we will also all take turns holding the torch for our fellow humans to see by when it’s their turn. Like Hecate guiding by the light of her flame, we can all be light workers for each other—listening, learning and holding space for both the beauty and the ugliness of life.

Jupiter rx:  27°-17° Capricorn until 9/12
Saturn rx: 1° Aquarius - 25° Capricorn until 9/29
Pluto rx: 24°-22° Capricorn until 10/4


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