Monday, March 6, 2017

Waxing & Waning: the new Aries Solar Year dawns on critical times

"It’s as though the Cosmos would like us to make the most of this rare gift while we can."

I have to begin this post with a bit of shameless self-promotion: An article I wrote months prior to election 2016, entitled “Silver Lining in Aquarius: Engineering the Future with the 2020 Jupiter-Saturn Cycle,” is now available in the April/May 2017 issue of The Mountain Astrologer and can be accessed by online subscribers at this link.

I chose what I think is a cautiously optimistic approach to this article because I really do believe that the new Jupiter-Saturn cycle will provide great opportunities if we play our cards right. Perhaps the best summary I can offer is to quote myself (again, shamelessly):

“The conscious engineering of a social order that fits our collective needs for the coming generations will be the whole point of this cycle. In fact, an Aquarius cycle seems to be a rare gift—Jupiter and Saturn last launched their cycle there in 1405, and it won’t happen again until 2199! Not only that, but we’ll get the benefit of the entire sign with the cycle launching at 0°+. It’s as though the Cosmos would like us to make the most of this rare gift while we can.”
I began this article by considering the two “stories” that economist/author David Korten[1] suggests  our globalized world is forever struggling to reconcile: the “Sacred Money & Markets” story, and the “Sacred Life & Living Earth” story. I suggested that our choice of narratives in 2020, if not before, would reverberate long into the future: do we serve stockholder interests at the expense of communities, health and the environment? 

Or do we realign our priorities and economy around tackling the long-term threats to our planet, to human wellbeing, and so on?

Bottom line, which story would support the most constructive use of this “rare gift” of the Cosmos?

To think that we will all magically coalesce around a new way of doing things in 2020 is naïve, of course, but an Aquarius cycle is not just potentially disruptive (ruled by Uranus), it’s aspirational and pragmatic, grounded in what Marilyn Ferguson calls “radical common sense.” 

No magic wand, but a willingness to take risks for the sake of the greater good. In his new book entitled The Complacent Class, George Mason University economics chair Tyler Cowan says it’s high time Americans return to their innovative, risk-taking roots and get over what he calls “the self-defeating quest for the American Dream.”

Cowan has an excellent point when he says that we’ve become sluggish, risk-averse, self-protective people. Astrologically, I’d say he’s fairly "tuned in"—as we’ll see, there are several factors at work that could be creating this heavy, sluggish effect. Hopefully, the 2020 Aquarius cycle (Jupiter-Saturn) will jerk our collective senses out of the cosmic muck.

Suffice to say here, there’s a lot at stake in the coming 4 years, as we inch our way towards that new Aquarius cycle on the horizon. In fact, these 4 years are dotted with major transits and ingresses, including new Saturn-Pluto and Jupiter-Pluto cycles launching in Capricorn, complemented by Uranus moving into earthy Taurus. The new Aquarius cycle will thus be disposed by an earthy Uranus!

In fact, “Silver Linings…” discusses all this as a potential “earth-centered revolution in an air sign,” and this interesting mix is the main reason I hold out hope for that period of time, despite our current political reality. Could that period still support that unfortunate “Sacred Markets & Money” narrative? Clearly, it could (remember, there are no magic wands here), and to some extent, it probably will, but digging into the astrology ahead suggested to me that there’s hope for a wave of progress on the horizon.

I invite you to read the entire article; your thoughts and observations are always welcome!

Winding down, clearing the way

As for this post, I wanted to look back a bit, to better understand some particulars about the coming years. A new round of chaos broke out this weekend in Washington with Trump’s Tweetstorm accusing former President Obama of “tapping [Trump’s] wires,” and the fallout of this accusation is already threatening to further undermine our national institutions (Justice Department, FBI, the Executive Office, Congress, and probably more).

Rather than analyze a chart from that Tweetstorm, however, I think we need to take a long view of this dark, evolving situation. It’s unprecedented in our own history—even the Watergate era is starting to look more enlightened—but other parts of the world have seen the Plutonian winding down process we are facing.

In our case, the process—reflected in Pluto’s transiting return to its exact position in our radix Sibly chart on February 20, 2022—is unfolding according to schedule and creating the overarching context for a lot of the darkness we’re seeing in Washington. Importantly, Pluto’s return will happen in synch with Neptune’s transiting half-return (opposition) to its Sibly position, so the “muck” our collective feet are stuck in has credentials. Please see the following posts for more detail on all this: October 10, 2015, October 13, 2015, October 16, 2015.

While I stand by my optimistic assessment that there is a “silver lining” out there in the not-too-distant future, this Pluto return also promises some turbulence and darkness before we get there. Nations—like any organic entity—have life cycles that wind down into dissolution, death, regeneration and rebirth. Empires, nations, federations (i.e., the Soviet Union) and regimes have dissolved, been reconfigured and reborn throughout history, and the process (while painful at the time) is what drives the long-term evolution of human societies and civilizations.

This process allows a clearing out of old, outworn energies and a resurgence of new energy and spirit. New beginnings can be rocky (as ours was in the 1780s), but time ultimately tells the story. Does anyone really believe the U.S. is immune to this process?

Into the labyrinth

Once we accept that there is a “long game” unfolding over time, and that everything more immediate is a part of that game, perhaps we can fine-tune our sense of these coming years. In this post, we’ll therefore consider the 2017 Aries ingress (the Solar new year), which is close upon us, keeping the impending Sibly Pluto Return in our sights.

Set for Washington, D.C., this chart can be used to predict the broad outlines of life in these United States for the coming year—including the ongoing drama in the White House. According to Mundane Astrology, Sun-Aries Point contacts also represent conditions concerning public figures and leaders, so there’s plenty to explore here.[2]

Chart #1: 2017 Aries Ingress, March 20, 2017, 6:16:48 a.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node.

1st house Aries Point (Sun) widely conjoins 2nd house Venus (Aries), squares Moon-Saturn (Sagittarius) and quincunxes No. Node (Virgo). Just as with a personal solar return, the placement of the Sun here lends a theme to the coming year. A 1st house Sun suggests a strong focus on identity and new beginnings; since this Sun rules the Leo 6th house, it appears that our national self-concept will be heavily influenced (if not challenged) by healthcare, military and jobs-related issues.

This is no surprise, given Trump’s agenda, but the Sun’s dissociate (out-of-sign) square to Sagittarius Moon-Saturn suggests that there will also be controversies, obstacles and probably lots of information leaking going on (these points are conjunct the “whistle-blowing” Galactic Center). The Executive’s (Sun) ability to control this phenomenon will be challenged.

If set against the U.S. Sibly chart (not shown), the Sun-No. Node quincunx falls over our national 4th (Sun) and 9th (Node) houses—awkward, frustrating (quincunx) international influence (9th) over our domestic “heartland” and character as a nation (4th) is possible. We’ll discuss more connections between these charts ahead.

Returning to the Ingress chart, its 9th house cusp is Scorpio, co-ruled by Taurus Mars (disposing the Aries Sun) and Capricorn Pluto (disposed by Sagittarius Saturn). Messy foreign entanglements over resources and financial deals are likely featured in the coming year, and surprising alliances could emerge between normally-opposed players (Russia and the U.S.?). There could also be a tendency to say one thing and do another (3rd-9th communications axis).

The Sun’s wide conjunction to Aries Venus, and Venus’s conjunction, in turn, with Aries Mercury suggests that the airwaves will be filled with aggressive messaging, and a resource-related agenda will probably drive the messaging (2nd house planets). Venus disposes 8th house Libra Jupiter, reinforcing this drive and perhaps some resource-based relationships. This seems likely to explain Trump’s choice of former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for our State Department.

Neptune rises in Pisces, conjunct ASC and ruling the chart. A mutable, unstable year seems to lie ahead, continuing many of the same issues we’ve experienced this past year. Sorting through what’s true and what’s “fake news” will continue to be a challenge, and although foundations have been pulled out from under many government agencies, etc., such organizations may be more resilient than they might seem since Saturn is no longer square Neptune. Even so, change will still be the order of the day—see below for Saturn’s trine to Uranus.

Neptune and Pluto are thought to co-rule subterranean resources such as oil and coal; with a strong Neptune rising here and Pluto strongly placed in the 11th, it’s likely that Trump’s agenda for unleashing exploitation of these resources will proceed. As we’ll see in the next aspect described below, there will be pushback on this agenda, however the corporate profit motive (Pluto) will probably have the upper hand.

Neptune does have its lighter side, of course, and we should probably be grateful that it has only one mildly adverse aspect here, a semi-sextile from Aries Mercury. Keeping a clear mind and getting a straight story will be challenges, as they’ve been this year.

On that lighter note, we may see an outpouring of creative energy this coming year. Those in the arts may take an important leading role in our collective consciousness (and the pushback referred to above)—it will be interesting to see how that manifests.

Cardinal Grand-Square: Uranus-Eris[3] (Aries) opposes Jupiter (Libra); this axis squares Vesta (Cancer) opposite Pluto (Capricorn). We’ve seen this movie before: here, however, the intense competition, stress and potential volatility (Uranus-Eris) generated over economic and resource-related issues clearly impacts the “home fires” of Vesta. This hints that “Bread & Butter” issues could suffer with the economic power plays that go on: again, with Pluto elevated, the corporate agenda is likely to prevail.

This isn’t terribly surprising with this heavy cardinal energy and a Capricorn Pluto, but as anyone who took a hit during the 2007-08 Wall Street meltdown knows, capitalism is given to excessive, parasitic behavior, and Trump wants to roll back regulations on those excessive behaviors once again. This devolution fits the Capricorn Pluto return process we’re engaged in, and unfortunately, the Wall Street foxes are in charge of our economic hen house at the moment.

For those watching the prospects for tax reform, it does appear that the wealthy (Pluto) will benefit over the rest of us (Vesta), but not without some fireworks. Those concerned with paying down our national debt (Pluto) are probably not going to like what lies ahead.

Land could figure into some of the power plays indicated in this ingress chart (privatization of federal lands?), with Mars in the Taurus 3rd house. Agricultural Ceres’ presence in this same house suggests that farms and farmers will be impacted, which makes sense—their dependence on migrant labor during harvests could become a major issue if Trump’s immigrant deportation plans proceed. 

Saturn-Moon (Sagittarius) square Chiron-Pallas (Pisces). The Saturn-Chiron cycle tends to hit intense points during unstable, volatile times—especially when those points fall in mutable signs. The U.S. Civil War launched with a mutable opposition (Virgo-Pisces); the chaotic period immediately preceding WWI featured the square (Gemini-Pisces); the Vietnam War evolved into a major quagmire under a Pisces Saturn-Chiron conjunction (1966-67). Families—and particularly children—are wounded (Chiron) when parents (Saturn) are lost to war; wounds suffered in “absent Father” families are well-documented. 

Other wars have featured tense cardinal aspects between these wounding Saturn-Chiron energies: WWII saw a Cancer-Libra square; the 1991 Gulf War launched under a Capricorn-Cancer opposition; the 2003 Iraq invasion happened during a mutable Saturn-Pluto opposition (Gemini-Sagittarius), but Saturn quickly moved into a Cancer-Capricorn opposition with Chiron. Saturn will be entering Capricorn again this coming December, but will continue its square with Chiron into that period; continued tension-building instability is to be expected.

There also seems to be a connection between the Saturn-Chiron cycle and epidemics, as well as the widespread use and abuse of drugs, although Neptune is usually lurking in the background during these periods, as well. Quite possibly, today’s U.S. epidemic in opioid addiction is related to the current mutable cycle, especially with Neptune disposing Pisces Chiron. Families suffer doubly with this type of epidemic—in the most severe cases, addiction “removes” a parent from a child as painfully as war does.

“Wounded justice” is reflected when we add Pallas into this stressful mutable square, suggesting that we’re likely to see more abuses of authority ahead. Concerns about police brutality and injustice in the courts, a “police state” mentality emerging around immigrant issues, or even abuses of power in the top ranks of government are possible here.

Positively, whistle-blowing may continue to challenge such abuses, but whistle-blowers will probably experience their own challenges. The whole outpouring of whistleblowing is driven by the next set of aspects.

Uranus-Eris (Aries) trine Saturn-Moon-Galactic Center (Sagittarius). If our heads aren’t already spinning with revelations in the news, this aspect assures that there will be plenty more potentially volatile surprises ahead. As we saw with the cardinal grand square discussed above, securing resources (belonging to Others, even) will be a key focus, and Uranus points to possible shocking, violent means for doing so.

Saturn is concerned with maintaining integrity in all its forms, from structural to justice-related. Saturn prefers facts to misinformation, disinformation and outright fabrications (Neptune), so the GC connection here suggests that more truth-seeking revelations are on the horizon.

It should be said here that Saturn isn’t particularly strong in Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius, so that desirable integrity remains vulnerable.

“Follow the money” will continue to be good advice. Picking our fights around opportunities to grab resources (as Trump said about Iraq, “maybe we should have taken the oil”) is a strong possibility here. The U.S. could also be subject to sanctions levied by the World Trade Organization, if Trump refuses to follow our existing trade agreements, as he’s threatening. This would be a shocker—leading to certain problems with China and others. We’re likely to find out what “America First” really means to Trump & Co.

Finally, technologies should gain momentum this coming year with this trine, however a heavy focus on the profit motive (cardinal grand square discussed above) may constrain research that doesn’t promise immediate short-term gain (Jupiter). This may be bad news for the environment, which is no surprise, given Trump’s agenda.

Health- and environment-focused players could even be considered the “enemy,” given the Virgo 7th house in this chart. It will be interesting to see what kind of relationship evolves between the Trump administration and our Native American citizens.

Wheels within wheels

Since we’re trying to coordinate both a long view and the shorter year-long view ahead, it’s helpful to consider where we are in terms of the outer planetary cycles in general. The table below details where we will stand as of this month’s Aries ingress: all numbers that fall below 180° reflect waxing cycles (highlighted in yellow here); all that exceed 180° reflect waning cycles (highlighted in blue).

Importantly, the basic tone and character of a period are influenced by the balance struck between waxing and waning cycles, so this is an important distinction.

Table 1. Planetary cycle positions at the 2017 Aries Ingress
















Baigent, Campion and Harvey summarize the general impact of waxing and waning cycles very helpfully for our purposes here:

“1. The waxing phase from 0°-180° relates to the process of growth, development, expansion, moving towards fruition. In terms of the mass psychology when a cycle is in this phase, and particularly when a majority of cycles are in this phase, it produces a sense of optimism, buoyancy, initiative, extravagance, a willingness to take risks, to explore, to begin enterprises.
2. The waning phase from 180°-0° relates to the process of distribution, dissemination, and decay, of the return to the seed form again. When a cycle is in this phase, and particularly when a majority of cycles are in this phase, it produces within the collection an increasing sense of caution, withdrawal, pessimism, an emphasis on consolidation, conservation, economy, cutting out of fat and deadwood.”[4]
As we can see in Table 1, the majority of cycles this year are waning, so economic decisions (see cardinal grand square) will tend towards being risk-averse and consolidating—big corporate merger initiatives will probably find these are conducive times for their plans. As for public sentiment, it’s likely to mirror these waning cycles: cautious, somewhat pessimistic and protectionist.

Narrowing our focus in other regards seems to fit Trump’s plans, as well; in fact, he seems to regard a big segment of the federal government as “dead wood,” so it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Importantly, three really significant cycles are completing and hitting the “reset” button in the coming 4 years: Saturn-Pluto (1/2020, 22°+Cap), Jupiter-Pluto (4/2020, 24°+Cap), and Jupiter-Saturn (12/2020, 0°+Aq). My “Silver Linings…” article referenced in the intro here discusses each of these in some detail, but there will be much more to explore between now and then!

Suffice to say here that the consolidating force of these completing cycles could be exploited to support the nationalist project Trump seems to have in mind, but IMHO, a far better use of these energies would be to clear out the corrupt “dead wood” and inner divisions that have been weighing the entire country down for decades.

The fact that we can steer the way these energies manifest is reflected in the three waxing cycles we are currently experiencing—Uranus-Neptune, Uranus-Pluto and Neptune-Pluto. All of these promote long-term change and evolution on the level of cultures, nations and civilizations, but the direction of that change is influenced by the society-level priorities we establish along the way. We are not entirely at the mercy of forces beyond our control—but the choices we make do have long-reaching consequences.


Steve Bannon says “deconstruction” of the government is a major thrust of the Trump administration—clearly what he has in mind would tap into Uranus-Pluto’s scorched earth tendencies and Neptune’s destructive erosion force, but it would also be an extreme manifestation of the waning cycles now in progress, promoting pessimism and a cynical withdrawal from our leadership role in the world. This would be the ultimate triumph for that “Sacred Money & Markets” story.

In retrospect, we might wonder whether this heavy gathering of waning cycle energies explains how Trump’s message took hold when it did, despite all that was so troubling with his candidacy and platform. Will there be a self-protective threshold at which even his most staunch supporters bail out? 

Or will they ride our national meltdown into the sunset with him?

We may not be able to stop Pluto’s inexorable return process on our national chart, but we can influence how we re-emerge from the transformation. If we have any desire at all to rebuild our world around that “Sacred Life & Living Earth” story, we need to evolve into our higher Capricorn Pluto potential:  a stronger, more disciplined and confident democracy, infused with more clarity of purpose.

We must all help Congress develop some Capricorn “spine,” and soon!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. 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.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at:

© Raye Robertson 2017. All rights reserved. 

[1] David C. Korten, Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015.
[2] Baigent, Campion, Harvey(BCH), Mundane Astrology: An Introduction to the Astrology of Nations and Groups, Thorsons, 1984, p. 253.
[3] This asteroid is thought to reflect potential for volatile disruption (often brought on by vengeful activity), but it’s not shown in this chart. Software issue! Eris will fall at 22 deg. 55’44” Aries in this 2017 chart.
[4] BCH, Mundane Astrology, p. 152-153.