- Amanda Painter
I have to admit I’ve had a hard time bringing myself to write for you today (Wednesday, though you will see this Thursday). There is heaviness in my heart, as I imagine there might be in yours. Waking up to the sound of a news report that Paris police had encountered a woman who detonated a suicide vest as they searched for suspects connected with Friday’s attacks set a dark tone to my day. Our lives, like the skies, are always shifting; a new perspective, mood or mindset is often just around the corner, for better or worse.
No, that does not change the bare facts of your life, or of the world at large. But in the same way that taking a shower and changing your clothes can freshen your body, which in turn helps your mind to wake up or clear, so too can the movement of planets from the end of one sign into the beginning of another shift your experience in barely perceptible, yet significant, ways.
Between now and the weekend, first Mercury and then the Sun will leave Scorpio and enter Sagittarius. Mercury makes its move Friday at 2:43 pm EST; the Sun follows suit Sunday at 10:25 am EST.
Scorpio speaks of water, darkness, concentrated emotion and guarded secrets; Sagittarius is fire, brightness, broad perception and freely offered perceptions. Where Scorpio draws inward, Sagittarius thrusts outward.
Sagittarius is also a mutable sign, in contrast to Scorpio’s fixity. It is the last sign of the season; as the Sun enters and moves though Sagittarius, autumn begins to make way for winter.
When the Sun reaches the midpoint of Sagittarius, it aligns with a deep-space point called the Great Attractor, which can manifest as a sense of polarization or a kind of push-pull feeling. A little later in the sign, the Sun aligns with the center of our Milky Way Galaxy -- what can be thought of as our ‘cosmic homing signal’, and which likely relates to the more philosophical, spiritually seeking and humanitarian qualities associated with Sagittarius.
Yet every sign has its shadow expression. For Sagittarius, that often includes a bold case of foot-in-mouth disease, and can extend into the sort of conviction in one’s beliefs that lends itself to the soapbox. For some Sagittarians, the need for freedom can make ‘traditional’ relationships difficult; thankfully, it’s increasingly accepted in our culture that a wide variety of relationship models can work.
This year, as the Sun and Mercury move through Sagittarius, they will both encounter Saturn relatively quickly (Nov. 24 for Mercury, Nov. 29 for the Sun). The discipline toward responsibilities and depth of mind signified by these conjunctions can bode well for getting work done (and done well).
Yet Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, which lends the expansive impulses that characterize this sign -- impulses that stand in stark contrast to the restraint and limitations Saturn insists upon. While this can feel a little depressive, I think a key lies in keeping your focus outward, on your goals (rather than inward, on any frustration you might feel). It is always much easier to buckle down and get ‘er done when you have a clear sense of what you’re aiming to achieve; Saturn will support that.
Even better is if your goal or current task involves helping others. Not only is humanitarian work Sagittarius’ forte, focusing on helping others is an excellent way to bypass the over-focus on self and struggle that can come with depression.
(Note: I am not suggesting that if you are dealing with severe depression that you can or should be able to ‘just focus on others’ and feel better. Severe depression is complex, and any treatment program is best pursued with the help of health care professionals, however you define that for yourself. If, however, you simply feel like you’re in a temporary funk, some volunteer work, activism or even helping a friend to problem-solve might help you to re-direct the energy.)
As the Sun and Mercury encounter Saturn in Sagittarius, they will simultaneously (along with Saturn) be squaring Neptune in Pisces. Saturn square Neptune is a long-term aspect that will be functional for almost a year; its first exact aspect is next Thursday, Nov. 26 -- Thanksgiving Day. I’ll have more to say about Saturn-Neptune next week. Eric Francis has been studying this aspect for months now, using it as a foundation for the 2016 annual readings from Planet Waves, called Vision Quest.
In one recent letter, Eric described the productive potential of Saturn-Neptune:
“Here is how I see it. Saturn square Neptune represents the dissolving of established thought forms. There's a lot of talk now about doing something about the patriarchy -- this aspect is close to that. It's about how nearly all firm, solid or inflexible thought forms are going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.
“Of course, she didn't like that a bit. One of the most challenging elements of Saturn square Neptune is the feeling of a kind of spiritual confusion -- that is, not knowing what you believe. You may have been firm in your beliefs one day and suddenly you're not so sure. This is part of the process.”
Depending on the political, religious and cultural makeup of your extended family (or friends / family of choice), this could make for especially interesting conversation around the holiday dinner table -- particularly given the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut, and the backlash against Syrian refugees that we’re seeing in more conservative and fearful circles.
From one astrological perspective, both the terrorist attacks and the backlash have something in common: both count as a kind of “thrashing about” of those who try to cling to religious and ‘philosophical’ concepts whose time is up (Eric describes this Saturn-Neptune phenomena, in the context of the Paris attacks, here).
We’re all in the midst of a cultural and spiritual process that is very uncomfortable but which, if we can each work toward the highest good of all concerned, might dissolve some constructs that are overdue for dissolution. One key piece will be for each of us to continue doing our own inner work with as much honesty and integrity as possible. At the same time, it’s also up to each of us to be the example we wish to see in tangible, visible ways. You have to get out of your navel on a regular basis and participate in your wider community.
Speaking of inner work and action: before Mercury and the Sun encounter Saturn and Neptune directly, they each first make an exact square to the centaur planet Nessus in the first degree of Pisces, immediately upon ingressing Sagittarius. Centaur planets bring material to our attention for healing purposes, though they often do so in uncomfortable ways.
Nessus generally has to do with shadow material or abuse/wounding that has been handed down through the generations (or through past lives, if that resonates with you). Its presence indicates that you have an opportunity to stop a repeating pattern in some way.
Mercury in Sagittarius tends to miss the details in favor of focusing on more distant or broader things, so it’s up to you to consciously adjust your mental lens periodically. Mercury in Sadge is sincere, yet can be blunt and unintentionally inconsiderate in speaking, or impatient in forming opinions.
In a square aspect (90 degrees on the zodiac wheel), Mercury-Sun-Nessus translates to your awareness of a situation that causes internal tension, requiring you to take action. What I see here is more than just an opportunity to stop the proverbial buck on beliefs and religious/philosophical delusions that you’ve inherited; in light of world events, this looks like an imperative.
As I said, next week’s Thanksgiving celebration could be a very interesting one; one in which you step more fully into owning your worldview as distinct from that of your family or community of origin. This is not a new process for you; this weekend’s astrology merely represents another step along the path you chose a long time ago. As current events are demonstrating, the steps you take now to update your inner files and engage with the world actively are desperately needed, and come not a moment too soon.