Monday, December 19, 2016

Krampus or Jolly Old St. Nick? Saturnalia 2016

In the early morning of December 21st the Sun will enter Capricorn and begin what astrology generally considers the final quarter of the astronomical/astrological year. 

This assumes that this year begins every March as the Sun enters Aries at the Spring Equinox). 

While the Capricorn ingress is often given less predictive weight regarding the coming year than the Aries one, the winter solstice still holds considerable importance as we close out one calendar year and open the next.

For the record, collective astrological wisdom is divided about which of these two ingresses should mark the New Year’s inception because the natural cycle can be said to begin at either time: in winter, as the earth lies fallow and prepares to nurture the next season’s growth, or in spring, when visible growth actually manifests.[1] 

This time around, I would suggest that we explore the approaching Capricorn and Aries ingresses as one continuing story line in what looks to be a volatile 2017 narrative. Since a new presidential administration is also now incubating (winter) and will launch a mere 30 days from the Capricorn ingress, it’s hard to argue against the significance of this ingress. Given the importance of Capricorn in the major cycles of the coming 4 years, I would propose that we need to pay closer attention than usual to this year’s Saturnalia.

As the name suggests, the ancient agricultural societies venerated Saturn (agricultural god and Lord of Capricorn) and his days-long “festival of light,” culminating in the winter solstice.  Deeply attuned to natural cycles (their survival depended upon it), the Romans celebrated December 25th as the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus—the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun.” Long before Christmas supplanted Saturnalia as the winter festival, people reveled in the return of longer days and shorter nights that would quickly follow.

Saturnalia was quite a raucous affair among ancient Roman partiers, however, one “characterized by role reversals and behavioral license.” Slaves and masters reversed roles symbolically for a day (with differing accounts of how far that went), class hierarchies were turned upside down, free speech reigned without recrimination, and so on. Saturn’s oversight of social structures and legal restrictions was suspended as the Romans “let it all hang loose” in the final days of Sagittarius. By some accounts, war couldn’t even be declared. 

A decided spirit of Jupiterian excess (Jupiter rules Sagittarius) thus consumed the revelers, a likely backdrop for the tradition of St. Nicholas, or as we know him now, the jovial (and generous) Old Saint Nick, or Santa Claus.

The tradition of an end-of-year “blow-out” has morphed over the centuries, of course, but is the behavior of people during the ever-extending Christmas season really any different? Employers typically treat their employees a little more like equals during Christmas (maybe Saturnalia inspired the first worker “bonuses?”), people routinely blow-out their diets, exceed their budgets and max their credit cards. Heaven knows the rules of polite behavior are out the window in shopping venues, from “Black Friday”-on.  

And war, thankfully, can’t be declared—Congress won’t be dragged back to Washington until January, come what may.

Interestingly, some European folk traditions reined in the end-of-year excess a bit by celebrating the character of Krampus, “…a horned, anthropo-morphic folklore figure described as "half-goat, half-demon",[1] who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts.” 

Krampus has his roots in pagan lore, of course—once Christianity took over, he became a “Devil” figure. Just as we celebrate “Devil’s Night” before “All Hallow’s Eve,” Krampusnacht has made a comeback, celebrated the evening before the feast of St. Nicholas. Just as Jupiter and Saturn represent opposite dynamics that are equally critical to a functional society, the Devil (a Saturnian “Scrooge” figure) must be given his due to balance out Jupiter’s overindulgent tendencies.

 The coming year

Astrologically, the winter solstice chart is a “sneak preview” of conditions that will prevail for at least the first quarter of the following calendar year. The modality on the chart angles for these quarterly events is important: in general, when a Mutable sign rises, the chart is said to reflect only one quarter; when a Cardinal sign rises, the effects could be felt over a couple quarters, at least; when a Fixed sign rises, the chart is said to reflect the entire year. In my experience tracking outer planetary cycles, every seasonal ingress chart has something to tell us, but in the end, all four quarters are part of the larger cyclical picture.

In these somewhat unsettling times, next week’s winter solstice chart bears special consideration. Not surprisingly, mutable Sagittarius rises. The entire year ahead seems a bit unsettled and “fluid,” for that matter: the 2017 Aries, Cancer and Capricorn ingress charts feature mutable Pisces rising, with chart ruler Neptune conjunct the ASC in all three cases; the Sun enters Libra next fall with cardinal Capricorn rising.

Set for Washington, D.C., next week’s solstice chart is shown below:

 Sagittarius rises, disposed by Jupiter (Libra), sextile Saturn (Sagittarius), square Mercury-Pluto (Capricorn), trine Venus (Aquarius), and opposite Uranus-Eris (Aries). Saturn trines Uranus. As we’ll explore further ahead, Jupiter and Uranus-Eris are two legs of the cardinal t-square we’ve been experiencing for awhile; the key point here is that expansive Jupiter rules this seasonal chart, and its complex of aspects is going to keep things lively.

The mood may be like Mardi Gras for some sectors, especially the resource extraction industries, where environmental regulations will likely be rolled back quickly in a shocking, Uranus-Eris-type takeover of America’s energy policies. I suspect we’ll find out how Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson plans to steer the U.S.-Russia relationship (the Russian economy depends heavily on oil and gas resources) very quickly. Laissez les bons temps roulez may feel like the motto of at least this first quarter.

Restraining Jupiterian excesses in the economy looks to be challenging here, even apart from oil, gas and coal: trine Saturn, an aggressive Uranus-Eris is poised to roll out a new generation of tech inventions. Autonomous vehicles are already slated for testing and production in Detroit and other cities this coming season; there’s a good deal of optimism (Jupiter) about this and other robotics- and AI-enabled products. 

Unfortunately, we haven’t yet figured out how more job-killing technology is going to help the working American. More on this type of fall-out ahead.

Saturn remains somewhat toothless in Sagittarius, so the project of growth by any means necessary will likely proceed. Considering the cardinal t-square (Jupiter opposite Uranus-Eris, square Mercury-Pluto) embedded in all this, we can expect that the corporate sector (2nd house Pluto) will marshal this growth and innovation to achieve its purposes (8th house “other people’s money”—i.e., profits).

With Mercury’s involvement, we can expect to hear a lot about all the “jobs” Trump’s agenda is creating, but statistics may differ. As we’ll see below, the biggest “jobs creation” program may be in the military and police forces. Besides, this Pluto-dominated configuration (strengthened by Pluto’s long-term square to Uranus) is a better fit for Trump’s plans to cut taxes at the top.

Mutable Grand Cross: Sagittarius ASC-Gemini DSC exactly squares Nodal Axis (Virgo-Pisces); Nodal Axis = Mars/Neptune (midpoint, Pisces). The chart horizon represents the nation’s Self in relationship to Others, which includes the image the nation broadcasts to the world as it interacts with allies or enemies. In that sense, this grand cross suggests that we will project an ambitious policy of expanding our influence.

The means we choose are likely to be ideologically charged and possibly deceptive (Neptune/Pisces); clearly, those means will be backed up with military strength (Mars opposite Virgo N. Node). This will fit Trump’s campaign promises to “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism” (an ideologically-charged way of framing the idea), and the Mars/Neptune midpoint reinforces this, as Michael Munkasey interprets it, “The threat of war or force to be used against the ideals of a people.”

The 10th house Virgo North Node here (opposite the Mars/Neptune point) suggests that military leadership will be highly prized, but also vulnerable to corruption: Munkasey adds, “…the use of internal rebellion as a means of weakening the military; military rule as a form of national glamor.”[2] 

Unfortunately, those who fear Trump’s eventual effect on our democratic system may also have reason for concern here—one possible side effect of this grand cross could be increased militarization of the home front police forces (his idea of “urban renewal?”). A new, robotics-enhanced generation of weapons manufacturing certainly fits the Uranus-Eris role here.

These grand cross points will be re-energized by the approaching February 26th solar eclipse at 8°+Pisces (a story for another day).

The Capricorn Sun falls in the 1th house of identity, is semi-square Venus (Aquarius), tightly sextile Mars (Pisces) and square the Moon (Libra).  Our electoral system is set up to provide Saturn/Capricorn energy for the newly-elected president’s incubational transition period, and a brand new Saturn/Uranus/Aquarius Sun for the actual inauguration. Trump’s “Make America great again” agenda is supported by these energies because his vision seems to be all about projecting strength (Saturn-Uranus) and making money (Venus).

With the Saturn-Uranus trine mentioned above (still in force on inauguration day), this revenue could be unleashed from controversial places—what that will mean on the ground is TBD. It’s worth noting here that this Uranus-Eris (Aries) also squares Trump’s natal Saturn-Venus (Cancer), while Saturn conjoins his Moon (Sagittarius); this suggests that his financial conflicts of interest will continue to be serious issues, not easily resolved.

As for Mars’ role in the configuration named in italics above, clearly Trump values Mars-style strength, as well (witness his Cabinet picks), but in Pisces, Mars’ power is expressed in the passive aggressive ways discussed above (Node = Mars/Neptune). Stay tuned for continuing angry Twitter-storms!

The Sun’s relationship with Venus here is a bit tense, but in Aquarius, Venus is disposed by Saturn and Uranus; Venus’s trine to Jupiter suggests that the “good times” discussed above appear to keep rolling, at least for the first quarter. This probably has something to do with the release of pent-up profit potential as regulations are relaxed. Sustainable growth and prosperity for the nation-at-large is a whole different story.

The 1st house is naturally ruled by Mars, so with Mars-Nodal Axis-Neptune (Pisces) square the ASC, we have to assume that the new administration’s Mars-style power is vulnerable to circumstances—all the more reason it may be expressed in that passive-aggressive manner discussed above. Challenges to some of Trump’s Cabinet nominations are likely, although the chart’s easy Jupiter-Saturn sextile (Libra-Sagittarius) suggests that those may be put to rest quickly.

The equally easy relationship between the Sun and Mars in this chart suggests an overall fluid interaction between Saturn/Capricorn priorities (business) and Mars/Aries (military) ones. The Sun rules the internationally-focused 9th house, so business abroad appears to have the green light.

Chiron conjoins the IC (both Pisces) and opposes the MC (Virgo); Chiron trines Saturn (Sagittarius) and quincunxes Jupiter (Libra). It’s worth mentioning here that the solstice Uranus- Eris (Aries) also conjoins the Sibly chart’s Chiron, so there could be plenty of shock-induced pain to go around. The “grass roots” (solstice IC) appear to be on the receiving end here, and with Neptune (ruling Pisces) involved, the pain could be the pain of disillusionment.

The aggressive economic activity we’ve discussed above is, unfortunately, not likely to “trickle down” anytime soon. On top of radical changes to healthcare access, Medicare and Social Security, eliminating progress on minimum wage levels and civil rights will turn the screws even tighter. Unfortunately, blind faith (Pisces) enables victimization.

Krampus arm wrestles Old St. Nick

So where are we headed this coming quarter—for a rendezvous with nasty old Krampus, or a romp with good old St. Nick? Can these two arm-wrestle each other into an accommodation of sorts? Both Jupiter and Saturn will be feeling their oats—Saturn enters its home sign Capricorn in December 2017 with Jupiter still strong in its home sign Sagittarius; by the time Jupiter steps over into Saturn’s Capricorn turf  in November 2019, Saturn will have laid down the ground rules for their engagement. 

An incredibly intense period promises to ensue, as Jupiter and Saturn close out their 2000 Taurus cycle, each one in turn pausing in the process to begin a new cycle with astrological heavyweight Pluto.

So, there will be a lot to unpack over the next four years, but I would argue that this week’s solstice marks a critical moment in the remaining months of the 2000 Jupiter-Saturn cycle. The final sextile aspect in this cycle flags a period of relative cooperation between these energies, when our society needs to focus inward, eliminate ideas, trends and dynamics that are outworn and unproductive, and make space for the useful, productive dynamics that will carry us forward after 2020.

All of this will be unfolding against the backdrop of the Sibly chart’s 3rd quarter progressed lunar cycle, beginning in March. The February 26th eclipse mentioned above will roll out the red carpet for that 3rd quarter launch—described in detail in the May 3rd post here. All of this will unfold over the 4-year Capricorn adventure that looms ahead, but what about this week’s Capricorn solstice?

For starters, the Stock Market and the economy may feel vibrant for awhile, but economists are a bit white-knuckled right now about potential market bubbles, especially in housing, and their apprehension appears warranted. In fact, the coming months could be a very bad time to relax regulations (Saturn) because of this potential.

Before Saturn enters its home sign Capricorn, it first passes through a “trial by fire”—that sensitive Galactic Center (GC) at 26-27° Sagittarius; historically, transits of this point have not gone well for Wall Street (this was exactly the case in October 1929 when the market crashed and threw us into the Great Depression).

The “powers-that-be” shouldn’t ignore this warning—Jupiter and Pluto transited that same point during the 2007-08 crash that triggered the recent recession, beginning their latest 12-year cycle just past the GC in December 2007. Now, these power players are in the square phase of this new cycle (it was exact in November), so an unrestrained Wall Street could again push the economy into toxic bubbles and general havoc.  Given the parallels with 1929—including a presidential administration that sounds primed to repeat the 1930s—this needs to give everyone pause.

As Saturn closes in on Pluto between now and January, 2020, followed three months later by Jupiter conjoining Pluto, we’ll likely see intense efforts to derail any regulations on the financial sector. From where I’m sitting, that’s when things get rocky for Main Street. 

Let’s consider a bit of history: the Aries Jupiter-Pluto cycle that began in 1845 brought us Manifest Destiny and the national call to “Go West young man.” This call gradually unleashed a river of pioneers streaming westward to claim territories for the U.S. It’s not surprising that Neptune was also in Pisces from the late 1840s into the outbreak of the Civil War.

This Aries cycle thus pushed the free-state/slave-state divisions that led to the Civil War, and the coming Capricorn cycle is certainly capable of similar. There was nothing wrong with the American pioneering spirit of those times—let’s just hope we can figure out a less destructive way to express it this time around. What frontiers will we be trying to claim and settle in the coming decades?

Perhaps American tech industries have an answer for that—they certainly seem poised to launch a revolution of sorts. Clean energy (whether Trump invests in it or not), autonomous vehicles and AI-enhanced robotics seem to be primary targets, for starters. This solstice chart suggests that 2017 will be an important incubation period for this “next big thing,” but a world-changing launch such as the Industrial Revolution or the Digital Revolution is not likely to take off seriously until 2020 when Jupiter and Saturn launch their new Aquarius cycle.

In the meantime, perhaps we need to turn that “Westward, Ho” pioneering spirit more inward, to devise new human possibilities for the coming automated, “jobless economy” we’re hearing so much about. Figuring out how to balance Krampus and Old St. Nick will be a challenge—if business profits continue to be more important than humanity’s quality of life, will the robots buy their products?

A prosperous, hopeful Solstice to you all!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: 

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 

[1] Baigent, Campion and Harvey, Mundane Astrology, Thorsons, Inc., London, 1984, pp. 249-250.
[2] Michael Munkasey, Midpoints: Unleashing the Power of the Planets, ACS Publications, San Diego, CA, 1991, p. 240.