NewMoon Notes January 2015
Happy Aquarius to all! Our NewMoon conjunction is happening so early in the sign that we are literally embarking on the Wet Way at the very moment of NewMoon. Therefore we will undertake the interpretation with the understanding that this NewMoon is actually the belly-button of the year, the true "end of the old/beginning of the new" regarding the alchemical cycle of time. Welcome to this moment of reorientation, wherein we cease looking "up" the Ladder of Lights and start the six month re-materialization of the soul as it focuses energy "down" the Ladder towards the coming summer.
(Next month we will also have an Aquarius NewMoon, but that one will happen on the very last tiny increment of the sign, mere seconds before the Moon and Sun roll into Pisces.)
The simple formula that explains this manner of thinking is to visualize the Signs arranged just like that simple child's toy wherein a set of colored donuts are to be stacked on a spindle from widest at the bottom to narrowest at the top. Imagine the spindle rising from a base associated with the signs of Cancer and Leo, which are the signs ruled by the Sun and Moon, (AKA The Lights). Upon that base is placed the widest donut, representing Mercury who rules the signs Gemini and Virgo. The next smaller donut represents Venus ruling Taurus and LIbra. On top of that is set the circle representing Mars who rules Aries and Scorpio. Above that falls the Jupiter round, connecting with Sagittarius and Pisces. The tiny capstone at the top is the Saturn piece, which rules over Capricorn and Aquarius. This is our construct for the Ladder of Lights.
Over the last six months the Sun has climbed "up" this visualization along what is called the Dry Way, crossing the planetary realms from Leo to Capricorn, taking our attention from the center of the Solar System out to the visible edge of Saturn's realm. In the next six months we will climb down this visualization again along the other side, crossing the planetary realms in the sequence called the "wet way". From now on for six months, the Sun will move through the seasons stretching from Aquarius to Cancer. This sequence moves consciousness away from the edge of infinity (Saturn's Ring Pass Not) and back towards our present identities as creatures of time/space here on Earth. The goal is to accomplish a cycle of manifestation that will peak during the signs of Cancer and Leo, the high time of growth and fertility in the northern hemisphere, when all is bathed in the warmth and effulgence of The Lights.
This viewpoint is very ancient and well established in the art/craft of Alchemy, which makes up fully half of the ancient logic for interpreting relationships among the Planets and Lights. In medical astrology, when decoding and responding to challenging astrological conditions, great emphasis is laid on the need to discriminate between remedies suitable to the "wet way" versus those amicable to the "dry way." Lab alchemy uses these terms to indicate alternate methods of processing the substances required at different stages of the work. Gnositicism highlights these same issues by describing a soul as either "standing" (dry way) or "falling" (wet way). In Kabbalah we learn that the Mother Pillar has a descending motion (falling) while the Father Pillar has an ascending motion (standing). Serious occultists need to understand that this is an essential and categorical difference that discriminates between a consciousness raising, dematerializing thrust of consciousness (dry way, standing) versus a consciousness lowering, materializing thrust (falling, wet way). Throughout the interwoven esoteric arts, one finds terminology that specially addresses this cosmogonic bias which emanates from astrology into every other dependent discipline.
If this seems counterintuitive to think of the signs ruled by the Lights as representing a peak of diminished consciousness and greatest materialization, remember that this model was created to prioritize the experience of the immortal soul over the incarnation in the mortal body. From the point of view of our immortality, the realm of Saturn is closest to our eternal nature because it is at the farthest distance from the seductive glory we feel in the body during the heat, light and sensual fulfillment of (northern hemisphere's) Summer. According to the cumulative wisdom of antiquity, true wisdom is only gained when the soul has differentiated itself from the senses and urges, desires and attachments of the body. This is how the "island of time" ruled by Saturn, which symbolized the outermost edge of the known universe of our ancestors (and remains the symbolic edge of the psyche for the individual), came to be associated with greatest objectivity, dispassion, detachment, and sobriety available to a seeker embodied within the Zodiacal wheel.
Last month, as the Sun moved through Capricorn, we got a chance to review the results of our last year's efforts and make steps towards closure of those cycles. This month as the Sun moves through Aquarius, we need to be making our plans and setting our goals for the incoming new year, knowing that we have six months in which conditions are excellent for materialization along the Wet Way. As is said among the alchemists "we fall in order to rise". This means, we use the Wet Way to create the outer conditions that will give us the greatest traction for a boost in consciousness on the other side of the Zodiac, when we need the momentum generated in our "falling" months to propel us back up along the Dry Way again. This is the logic of astro-alchemy, which pervades all of the other esotericisms of the West.
All that being said, let's look at the current chart and see what we can glean from that.
The Sun/Moon conjunction in the first degree of Aquarius is sextile to Saturn in Sagittarius. For the Continental Tarots, which are our focus in these ArkLetters, the relevant cards are Fool/Priestess in the sign of The Moon, sextile to Judgement in the sign of The Devil. Since we will have another Aquarius NewMoon next month, the exact same cards will pertain to the NewMoon next time as well (Fool/Priestess in the sign of The Moon). However, next month there will be no sextile with Saturn for the NewMoon, meaning that Saturn provides the actual "unique" feature of this month's NewMoon position. What then is Judgement saying from it's seat in the Devil's realm?
Judgement occupying the sign of The Devil is a very interesting combination! As has been very well established by prior investigation, Trump 20 is a direct representation of the New Testament book of Revelations, therefore it corresponds to the eternal moment of Resurrection that stands between the ending of the old age (or Aeon) and the incoming new age. As mentioned above, Saturn controls the Ring Pass Not that separates the realm of incarnation in time/space (the Solar System) from the realm of eternal life (outer space, beyond the gravity-well of the Sun). Here again we see how aptly the Continental Trumps portray the gnosis built into the sacred alphabet!
The mystery before us is the question of how we will interpret this fateful, Saturnian Resurrection icon that currently occupies the realm of the Devil (Sagittarius). My first thought comes from the discipline of Alchemy, since we used an image of the Peacock Angel to represent the Devil on the THL Trump 15. Let me quote Alexander Roob as he describes this image, found in the Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeterna by Heinrich Kunrath, published in 1602 (quoted from Alchemy and Mysticism p. 115). My amplifying remarks appear in square brackets following the alchemical terms:
"From… the macrocosmic chaos of four elements, the spherical lapis emerges as the renewed, smaller world [which, in our card, is barely seen behind the male and female Alchemists rushing into each other's embrace]. The arms that raise it [the renewed world] up are 'the two major parts of the Work, the dissolution of the body (solve) and the hardening of the spirit (coagula)'. . . The bird represents the phases of the Work. It is composed of the raven (purtifactio) [linked to the mother letter Mem, Water, in the pelvic area, found on the Death card], the swan (albedo), [linked to the mother letter Aleph, Air, in the heart, found on the Magus], the peacock (phase of bright colors) and the phoenix (rubedo) [linked to the mother letter Shin, Fire, found on The World]."
Any Kabbalist who reads the above will be forced to notice that the peacock stands in the position of Daat, the throat chakra. This is posited in Hebrew mysticism as a spiritual wound in the body of humanity which requires a healing in order to accomplish the restitution and reconciliation between humanity and the upper worlds. In the order of presentation, the peacock is not the final stage of the work, though it is the most glorious and visually arresting of the stages. The soul that is walking the alchemical path has to resist the amazement, beauty and splendor demonstrated by the manifestation of the peacock, in order to press on into the stage of the rubedo, before the alchemical labor is completed. This is why the stage of the peacock is considered a temptation, even a distraction, for those who are immature in the alchemical process. I will also point out that the ancient phrase "solve et coagula" also refers to the very same falling (dissolving, solve) and standing (hardening, coagula) that we were discussing above. Wherever we see these words in the writings or emblems of the esotericists, we can immediately think back to the astro-alchemical churning of the Planets as they make their appointed courses through the Zodiac.
But what does it mean, you ask? Here's what occurs to me: Saturn in Sagittarius forces us to solve the conundrum of what within us must be judged as trivial and left behind, in order to allow our eternal nature to shine forth untrammeled. We must abandon all attachment to the glorious peacock that flatters the ego through superficial appearances.The instructions are to look right through that glamorous irritant, the Devil, in order to press the alchemical transformation to the final stage of the rubido, [transformation by fire], at which point the Initiate rises into the supernal Triangle after winning free of Saturn's Ring Pass Not at the throat chakra.
The fact that Saturn is sending a sextile to the New Moon in Aquarius, one of Saturn's own signs, implies a sense of stability and confidence rising into the outer life from the depths of the soul. This makes itself evident through an increase of positive synchronicities. These happy accidents might seem random in their individual cases, but added together one gets a distinct picture of a conscious and responsive force looking out from behind the surfaces of life. As soon as you can visualize a way in which current events represent a direct conversation with Spirit, then you will simultaneously discover that Spirit is indeed waving back at you through the million tiny miracles a day that are otherwise habitually and unconsciously overlooked. As The Fool and The High Priestess transit the scene pictured on The Moon, they can move along without fear or anxiety, grounded in the sense that this landscape holds no terrors for the individual who is in internal touch with the Light.
The Mercury/Venus conjunction in Aquarius is opposed to retrograde Jupiter in Leo. The Continental Tarot formulation of this would be Star/Empress in the sign of The Moon, opposed to The Emperor in the sign of The Hermit. The combination of the Star and the Empress brings to mind the Hermetic Androgyne, which often is shown with the same double face that we see on the angel of the Devil card. The synthesis of Mercury and Venus is the hermaphrodite (Hermes + Aphrodite, indicating the womb equipped with its own phallus). To have this combination in Aquarius, which is a very detached and cerebral placement, brings to mind the self-sufficient and mannish goddesses like Diana, Athena or one of the Amazons. To see the retrograde Emperor standing in opposition to these empowered and parthenogenic dynamos puts a question to this typical patriarch: If these amazing Femmes can do all and be all without help from the patriarchy, what then does the power and glory of maleness consist of? If the ladies will no longer give over and submit to being the "little woman", what is left of traditional masculinity? Even worse, if the logical brain can no longer maintain the illusion that it is "smarter" than the emotional brain, then what happens to our culturally-determined compartalization, which has been won at such a high and drastic price? I guess we will see as this month plays out.
Neptune conjunct Mars in Pisces, with a weak square to Saturn in Sagittarius. The Continental Tarot formulation of the Mars/Neptune pair is Death/Strength in the sign of The Sun. The back of my mind sends up an echo that says "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", in case that offers any comfort at a time like this. We know that The Sun card represents Apollo using his harp to open the gates of the Underworld and call forth the souls of those who are able to live again. Perhaps we are collectively coming to a situation where we each have to choose either to fight for life heroically or surrender submissively. The fact that the sign is Pisces, the signatory of endings, completion, and dissolution gives us the sense that certain aspects of the past cycle will not be resurrecting anymore as we turn again towards the Summerland. If we are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices, then we can go into the next cycle without dragging a load of past unfinished business along with us.
T-square of Uranus in Aries, Pluto in Capricorn, and the Nodes in Aries/Libra. The Continental Tarot formulation of this is The Magus in the realm of The Hierophant squaring The World in the realm of The Tower. (There are no cards for the Nodes, though the Hanged Man represents Libra, where the North Node is currently transiting.) I was just pondering Uranus in Aries with South Node the other day, feeling how it's finally picking up some forward speed after pulling out of its fall and winter retrograde spell. Uranus will be in forward motion until July, so we should all expect to outgrow some of our constraining programming while we flex our increasing individuation. Over the next few months Uranus and Pluto get closer and closer to exact square until April when, neck-in-neck on the 15th degree of their respective signs, Pluto goes retrograde. They fall away from each other relatively quickly after that point.
As was mentioned above, Pluto connects with the mother letter Shin, the cosmic Fire or rubedo of the Supernal Triangle, symbolized by the World card in Tarot. Meanwhile Uranus is the mother letter Aleph, the cosmic Air or albedo of the Heart Triangle, symbolized by the Magus card. Modern astrologers fairly uniformly equate Pluto with corporate culture, the international conglomerates, and the industrial/military/finance complex. Therefore I think of this cardinal square as an isometric tension between the unfathomable creativity of the individual versus the conformity pressure of the collective organism. For those who are equipped to take advantage of that North Node in Libra, there can be a kind of softening effect that buffers the full strength of the Uranus/Pluto square, stemming from undergoing these changes in company with others, as part of a special-interest group or community movement, for example. Those who have no affinity group will reflex back to that Uranus/South Node in Aries, which boils down to rugged individualism and spontaneous genius performed without the nicety of seeking permission. Necessity is the mother of invention after all! Let's at least acknowledge the evolutionary advantage that comes from staging an eruption of unpredictable, asymmetrical responses in the face of pressures set to drive the herd in a pre-programmed reflexive direction. Uranus counsels that if everybody finally just "does their own thing" in response to the absurd and unlivable options that are currently being presented, there simply won't be enough counterforce in place to repress us all. Between these two planets, Uranus is the faster moving one who controls the dialogue. Soon enough he will be done with this stressful and electric conversation with Pluto. That square will quickly widen out of orb after April, so right now is the time to harvest that raw motivation for increased individuation. Over Spring you can shape it into a tool that will help you acquire your liberation going forward.
Each month, in every case, there are always a range of responses to have towards the moment's inherent developments. I think Uranus counsels to know what we want and concentrate on that, even when it seems to clash with the macrocosmic agenda. Whether we see the flow of events as benign or as stressful, we each still retain that spark of true individuality from which an unprecedented and customized response can emerge. Ultimately we each retain the right to steer our own ship of state in whatever direction makes the most sense to us, even if some faceless corporate borg is programmed to try and press us into its constrained channels. Having this Outer Planet square in Cardinal signs is a strong stimulus to do something, anything to remove ourselves from the penetrating tentacles of the collective unconscious. What we do after that is on us, but at least we will have done it consciously!
You have my best for the New Year, dear readers, and may we all find the way to our heart's delight as we navigate this very creative period of our lives. I am honored to share this very interesting, stimulating, and paradoxical world with you.
CURRENT STAGE OF THE MOON for the Americas:
• The Present NewMoon at 0º+ Aquarius on Tuesday, January 20th at 8:14 AM (EST) / 5:14 AM (PST). From this moment, the Moon begins to wax, or increase.
• 2nd Quarter, Waxing Half Moon is at 6+ Taurus on Monday, January 26th, at 11:49 PM (EST) /8:49 PM (PST).
• FullMoon is at 14+ Leo on Tuesday February 3rd, at 6:09 PM (EST) /3:09 PM (PST). From this moment, the Moon begins to wane, or decrease.
• 4th Quarter, Waning Half Moon is at 23+ Scorpio on Wednesday, February 11th at 10:51 PM (EST) /7:51 PM (PST).
• The next NewMoon at 29+º Aquarius on Wednesday, February 18th at 6:47 PM (EST) / 3:47 PM (PST). From this moment, the Moon begins to wax, or increase.
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ArkLetter 117, January 20, 2015
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