For astrologers, Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the New Year. For ancestral cultures it was not just another date on the calendar, but a portal to reconnect with the spiritual warrior, symbolically reborn with the Sun as it enters Capricorn. The stars continue speaking to that archetype throughout 2014: to move to a deeper level of connection with your inmost self, and from that place interact with life as an agent of the freedom you seek.
This is an archetype inherent in all spiritual traditions. For shamans, whose wisdom—by the way—will continue be in high demand during the coming months, it is a path of initiation. Author Alberto Villoldo describes it as an “inner calling; it requires that you face personal challenges heroically and a genuine rebirth into a new way of being.”
Has a struggle for freedom marked your life over the last year and a half? If you have felt particularly pressured in one or more areas of your life, you have been experiencing the generational effects of Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn, an aspect which will continue during 2014.
Mundane astrologers point out the revolutionary, potentially violent outcomes of this combination. If we focus only on outer events, the possibilities can seem rather ominous. The Uranus, planet of freedom, in Aries, the sign of the warrior, confronts Pluto, the dark boss, in Capricorn, the sign of power brokers—not exactly a charity luncheon with the ladies. However, astrological events are the result of processes in the collective psyche, and by choosing to participate with the energies at play, the coming months can precipitate the renewal we long for. Instead of the square happening to us, it can happen through us, in a wave of spiritual growth that will produce more beneficent potentials for all concerned.
On January 1, Sun conjuncts Pluto exactly. Mark Lerner notes this as an indication that the previously described square will steal the stage during the coming year. At the end of January, the intensity reaches a peak as Jupiter steps in to the dance by opposing Pluto. It has two other sensitive windows: April 12-29, and November 26-December 27, 2014.
Rather than looking ahead in fear, we can consider the year in general and these windows in particular to be appointments with the maverick within (Uranus in Aries), in its quest to break through obsolete control systems (Pluto in Capricorn). If we project our fights outwards, onto events and people, we may connect with incendiary outcomes. (In fact, if you have some legal or social struggles to surmount, avoid bringing them to the table during late January or April.) This doesn’t mean that we should endure situations that oppress us. On the contrary, we should take the most audacious measures we can, but understand that they stem from and strengthen our inner growth, by facing down our fears, moving out of our comfort zone and aligning the money of our actions to the mouth of our ideals.
Uranus in Aries is shaking us to new levels of courage, beaconing us to a higher, more perfect path. I agree with the suggestions that Benjamin Bernstein shares for this aspect,
“Release anything and everything that does not serve your highest good. This can be possessions, relationships, concepts or anything else. This opens the door to Pluto’s gifts of wealth and power.”
As we will see a bit further on, not just what we release, but the way we go about it will make those treasures multiply and last.
On the other hand, the shadow side of Uranus in Aries can come on like a fundamentalist firebrand, so bear in mind that the work is with yourself and refrain from demonizing others, who are in their own freeing process too. Sarah Varcas notes that, “Pluto destroys that which no longer serves us, including false identification with the ego.” When pushed by Uranus, this planet’s effect isn’t of the weekend-escape-to-the-spa variety (although retreats to nature can recharge your batteries to stay in fore). Both players are in signs connected to masculine archetypes: Mars the warrior and Saturn the patriarch. These two gods have something else in common: they vanquish mythic beasts. We all have demons to overcome, and now’s the time to work on them.
About Pluto in Capricorn, Varcas says, “Plumb your psyche, question your motives….”. Saturn in Scorpio supports this kind of plumbing. Astrologer John Hogue points out the power of reformation that’s inherent in the transit of the taskmaster of the zodiac through the sign of dark recesses. Furthermore, Saturn and Pluto are in each other’s sign, creating a synergy of mutual reception that underscores the theme of working through our shadows. Uranus in Aries detonates this process by moving us out of denial and exposing uncomfortable truths about self, others and the situations we are in. This will happen whether or not we like it, and it’s wise to get clean while we can since the Edward Snowden effect is going to multiply at both personal and public levels in 2014.
The Chinese New Year of the Horse resonates with Uranus in Aries’ push for progress. Both the planet and its current sign are given to asking uncomfortable questions. Astrologer Pamela Leigh Powers helps direct those questions inward:
“There are many kinds of horses, ranging from the plow horse doing the drudge work to the race horse… which kind of horse will you be?”
The forgotten archetype of thumos facilitates this line of enquiry as it connects equestrian themes to the influence of Uranus in Aries. In ancient Greece, thumos was considered an innate quality which could be summoned at will to face challenges with increased steadfastness and courage. Related to the sacred masculine, thumos was especially important for warriors, who would evoke it to awaken their heroic potential. Bloggers Brett and Kate Mckay note the relationship between this force and Plato’s myth of Phaedrus, in which a charioteer tries to rise to the heavens, but his horses, symbolizing the driving energies of the psyche, sometimes resist the course and try to pull him down. “Thumos”, the Mckays note, “can be used for either good or ill. The Greeks called it both ‘dark-faced’, ‘vain,’ ‘terrible, ’ ‘greedy, ’ and ‘pitiless’…as well as ‘courageous,’ ‘noble, ’ ‘kindly, ’ ‘moderate, ’ and ‘strong. ’ Properly harnessed and guided it has potential to lead… towards… full human flourishing… but if allowed to run wild, it can lead to destructive ends.”
In this Chinese Year of the Horse, as the rebel faces down the old guard, we have the opportunity to release the shadow side of the masculine and claim its gift of empowerment. The McKays describe this gift:
“When one hears of a lack of… fight, energy, and ambition… what is really being spoken of is a shortage of thumos. For millions… thumos lies dormant, an energy source left untapped. It is as if each of us had a potential Kentucky-Derby-caliber thoroughbred waiting in the stable, ready and eager to run, but we kept him locked away, only trotting him out for pony rides at children’s birthday parties….”
If the sacred masculine supports heroic progress in 2014, the sacred feminine is the center that insures deep and lasting results. From St. George saving the maiden to the celestial Toltec warrior who defends his mother from attack while still in the womb, warrior myths remind us that the hero’s ultimate goal is to defend the inner life. Whether you prefer mindfulness, meditation, prayer, forgiveness, journaling or any discipline or combination, this is a year to keep the inward flame burning through daily practice and a commitment that goes beyond the surface.
Until July 16, Jupiter in Cancer will help us nurture our inmost selves by making what astrologer Molly Hall calls, “a space for the sacred”. The preacher’s planet then moves into Leo, favoring heart-centered approaches such as unconditional love, metta and healing the child within. These transits optimize the presence of Neptune, planet of the Great Goddess, of mysticism and intuition, in Pisces, the sign it rules. The last time this occurred was from 1847 to 1861, when the seeds of the western spirituality movement were sown. It’s important to note that the main actors in this mental revolution were audacious women including Helena Blavatsky, Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins and the Fox sisters. During 2014, the hero’s path of personal awareness will continue to gain precedence over organized religion (Pluto in Capricorn), and women will continue to emerge and surge as teachers, healers and facilitators.
The story of urban shaman Lynn Andrews evokes a metaphor for the union of poise and action favored for the next 12 months. After years of study with Canadian medicine women, Andrews was given the task of retrieving a basket that had been stolen from her people and placed in a museum. Not only were there museum guards to deal with, but two medicine men from a different tribe showed up at the last minute, intent on beating her to the artifact. The solution? With a magical mix of concentration and dexterity, the aspiring shaman became invisible and stayed that way until retrieving her prize. The battle was with herself, outer achievement based on inner mastery. Andrews had opponents, but her approach turned them into allies for a new level of personal power.
In the year ahead, try facing your challenges while remaining invisible to the influences which would trip you up: your own thoughts, fears and distraction, as well as people or events that throw you into those patterns. You can harvest lasting fruits by holding your center as you move towards freedom, whereas acting rashly against oppressive conditions would only produce momentary escape, amounting to a change of regime rather than true progress.
What is your personal Uranus-Pluto quest for the year? In an event I facilitated this Winter Solstice, the participants took turns at answering this question. For one woman, it was to overcome the fears absorbed in her childhood programming. Another participant had been considering returning to her role of lonely housewife now that her kids have grown, in order to support her husband’s focus on lucrative business activities that implied his absence from the home. By reflecting on the Uranus-Pluto window, she recognized an entirely different inclination: to prepare herself as a naturopath healer, even though this path implied less financial security. Through choices like these—apparently impractical but true to an inmost vision—Pluto will move into its transmutation mode and unlock its aforementioned gifts of wealth and power.
In 2014 you may reorganize your life completely, or some particular area of it. The ruling number 7 activates the higher octave of Uranus, also connecting with Mercury and Neptune to make this process a conscious one. Number 7 requires times of solitude, as well as the sharing of wisdom gleaned in those spaces—through teaching, healing and other forms of communication.
From a business standpoint, the market for new ideas, communication and cyber forums will explode. If your work includes blogging, publishing, other forms of verbal expression or innovative art, the 7 vibration lifts you to new levels of success, particularly if you find your authentic voice and apply it to serve others.
In connection with number 7, and a conjunction with Sun and Pluto as the year begins, Mercury will be particularly influential. Its retrograde periods will offer significant opportunities to review what power means to you and how you can retrieve it as you release objects of projection—such as people, situations, official versions and your own modus operandi.
Just when are those windows? From our mother, Maya Del Mar, I learned to include the shadow periods of preceding and following the retrograde, and a bit further on you will find the calendar. In 2014, if blocks arise during those dates, step back and ask yourself questions:
- What are your underlying feelings, motives and attitudes?
- Are you trying to force outcomes without holding to your center?
- What more can you release?
- How else can you realign with your highest self and retrieve the power you have projected in the supposed security of your comfort zone?
This year’s retrogrades will be special windows to renew our commitment to inner progress, go to a spiritual retreat, take a course, seek out a teacher that we resonate with, consult an oracle, study our dreams for guidance and most of all apply what we discover—and what we already know—in a process of true transformation.
From Winter Solstice through the first New Moon of January 1, the winter holidays are a power portal. However, given the intensity of the archetypes at play throughout 2014, the portal would seem to live on. Change, major change, is undeniably in the air. Will it happen to you, or through you? The choice is yours. A call to freedom sounds within your heart. Will you continue to ignore it or will you stop to listen and follow its urgings to act with courage? As for your subtle life, will it continue to be a pleasant pass-time or will it become a central cause? The sacred forces of strength and gentleness, action and awareness, courage and love surround and permeate you, waiting for your decision to help you walk a path of spiritual initiation in 2014 and receive its gifts of power.
2014 Mercury retrogrades including shadow periods
- January 22 to March 20
- June 7 to July 1 (May 24 to July 15}
- October 4 to October 25 (September 19 to November 10)
Cope, Lloyd, The Astrologers Forecasting Workbook, American Federation of Astrologers, Temp, Arizona, 1982
Hogue, John, Predictions for 2013-2014, Kindle Edition
Leigh Powers, Pamela, Planetary Rhythms, 2014 Astrological Forecast. Kindle Edition.
Hankins, James. Plato in the Italian Renaissance, 2 vols. Brill, 1990.
Thompkins, Sue, Aspects in Astrology, Element Books Ltd., Trowbridge, GB, 1989.