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A New Moon Prelude to a New Year


The Big Dipper in the night sky - AMANDA PAINTER
  • Amanda Painter
  • The Big Dipper in the night sky

'I wish it need not have happened in my time', said Frodo.

'So do I', said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’ — J.R.R. Tolkien

I know so many people who just want to forget that 2016 ever happened. And I get it: between the global shocks and upsets, the deaths of beloved celebrities, and what looks like the complete undoing of any semblance of functional government about to commence, collectively we’ve been put through the wringer.

Yet from what I’ve seen, we’ve also stepped up to new levels of activism, awareness and cooperation in many, many instances. Raise your hand if you now understand more about the Electoral College than you ever learned in high school; same with the history of Native American treaties with the US government, the role (and abuse) of the media in shaping cultural opinion, or the plight of refugees from war.

I’m not saying these lessons were fun, easy or even something I hope to repeat—ever. But if you’ve been paying attention, and if your brain and your compassion have stayed active, chances are you’ve learned a lot this year.

Which is good. Because from what I can tell, we’re going to need to call on everything we’ve learned this year—and integrate the lessons into a useable, empowering form—going forward. That’s not an astrological prediction. It’s merely an observation: despite the fact that you ditch the old calendar and start a new one on Jan. 1, we don’t actually start from scratch each year.

Sometimes that seems like a nice fantasy. Except that it’s hard to grow, heal and support others in that process if you’re always back at zero in 12 months. This is true on the most internal, personal level as well as on the cultural level.

Just like every calendar year, each astrological year offers its own ‘big events’. Yet just as with cultural progression, those astrological events do not appear out of nowhere.

Every planetary aspect, every eclipse, every retrograde (whether Mercury or another planet), etc., is connected to multiple others that have come before -- and to various other events. One of the beauties of astrology is how it makes visible the interconnections between short-term cycles and long-term cycles.

Eric Francis has been looking ahead to the big astrological events of 2017, and is writing about them for this year’s Planet Waves annual edition. Given how overwhelmed you might be feeling these days, I’m going to focus on one particular aspect as we wrap up this month and this year: the Capricorn New Moon.

This is the Moon making a conjunction to the Sun in Capricorn, at 1:53 am EST today, to begin a new lunar cycle. And though it will have already occurred today by the time you read this, I’d say it’s today’s signature event.

It will be a while yet before the days here in the Northern Hemisphere get noticeably longer. These dark days have long been associated with introspection, slowing down and conserving energy in anticipation of the coming spring and its increased activity and growth. Similarly, the monthly dark phase of a New Moon is commonly associated with bringing something to a close, and then planting the seed of the next endeavor or phase of progress.

I think it says something profound to get a New Moon so close to the final days of the calendar year. It underscores the interiority of the season, as we reflect on the year ending and set intentions for the year about to begin.

Coming as it does in the midst of so much uncertainty, chaos and difficulty, however, this particular New Moon also underscores the ability we each have to harness our imagination again; to bolster our determination to use what we’ve learned; and to allow for some careful self-reflection, to keep the avenues of healing and compassion open.

For example, the Capricorn Sun and Moon in this chart are conjunct retrograde Mercury. That’s a reminder to be patient and extra-focused with communication and travel. Yet it also underscores the theme of ‘review and reflect’.

The Sun and Moon are also exactly sextile (within half a degree) Mars in Pisces, with Neptune in Pisces close by. Although Mars in Pisces can be challenging in terms of increased emotional sensitivity, sextile the Sun and Moon it can facilitate constructive action—especially behind the scenes, and in creative pursuits.

Similarly, the New Moon sextile Neptune may call for shoring up emotional and psychic boundaries; though having the Sun in Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn, should help with that. Otherwise, this aspect indicates the potential to harness your outer drive to your inner idealism.

You might feel like any trace of idealism has left you. But again, take a look at some of the activist momentum that was built this year. Yes, reigniting it and sustaining it to effect change will take work; true progress always does. That’s okay. You’re not alone in whatever you are feeling right now.

And I think that’s one of the most important messages of this New Moon: It’s okay to take a breather, to conserve your energy and look deep within. Because that’s a necessary step in the cycle—and it means you’ll have access to the resources you’ll need in 2017 to keep learning, healing, growing and creating in this thing called life.

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