A Mutable Moment: From Here to There


With Jupiter now in Virgo and Saturn back in Sagittarius again, our present astrological snapshot has become more markedly influenced by mutable energy.

This planetary duo, along with Neptune in Pisces, is currently forming a wide-orbed mutable T-square: Jupiter now opposes Neptune, while both are moving into and out of extended squares to Saturn.

For those unfamiliar with the term 'mutable', it is one of three qualities—the others being 'cardinal' and 'fixed'—used to categorize zodiac-signs by how they express their energy. Each sign is defined by its belonging to one of these three qualities and one of the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water), creating twelve unique combinations which comprise the zodiac wheel.

The traditional interpretation of these three qualities' different expressions is based upon where the signs fall in the unfolding of the seasons (or quarter-years). Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) inaugurate each season at the solstice- and equinox-points… and are thus seen to wield an initiatory, leading edge. Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) represent the midsection height of a season… and, as such, hold an enduring, unwavering consistency. And mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) arrive as a season starts coming to its close, showing hints of what's immediately ahead… and, therefore, possess a transitional changeableness, one foot always already in search of its next landing-spot.

With mutability now the dominant quality among the five slower-moving planets (the other two, Uranus and Pluto, remain in cardinal signs), the next many months can be understood as something of a seasonal transition. This phase will carry us from our culminating awareness of the current realities sparked by the Uranus-Pluto square which dominated the first half of the 2010s—an awareness punctuated by these past few months' Venus-retrograde-riddled events—and toward the eventual begin-again vibe we can expect further down the road, once the cardinal quality is more strongly reactivated, first by Jupiter's entry into Libra (in September 2016), then later by Saturn's arrival to Capricorn (in December 2017).

Consider this, then, alongside the description I offered you in my last piece about how these few eclipse-powered weeks are aflutter with change, moving us 'on to the next': In a broader context, this 'next' is an approximately-yearlong period of recognition, review, integration, and preparation. These months ahead offer us a chance to assess, accept, adjust, and anticipate. A mutable astro-climate demands versatility, willingness, and hope.

Jupiter's square to Saturn reemphasizes this same transitional vibe, as it signifies the closing third-quarter mark in the current Jupiter-Saturn cycle, which began in 2000. As I mentioned near the end of this article from the height of Venus's retrograde, the Jupiter-Saturn cycle is the oldest reliable astro-indicator of larger sociopolitical trends. Three-fourths through this current cycle as we are now, we face a 'crisis of consciousness' (Dane Rudhyar's characterization of the third-quarter point) in our perspectival processing of these past fifteen years' events… a come-to-Jesus moment when we must unflinchingly look at all that's transpired, identify the lessons we learned (or are still learning), acknowledge how our ideas and understandings have evolved (or urgently need to evolve), and set the stage for the next conjunction in 2020.

Brief US-centric thumbnail: Since the last Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in 2000, we watched the presidency handed over to George W Bush by the Supreme Court in the midst of a contested election… we endured the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the misguided wars which followed… we saw an increasingly corporate influence exert itself over our political system, helped along by the Citizens United ruling… and we welcomed our first Black (or should I say biracial) president Barack Obama, which ushered in a re-emboldened outbreak of racism and xenophobia, as well as a louder collective debate about racial inequality. We aren't the same populace we were in 2000. Certain shrouds have been ripped off, plutocratic trends intensified, opportunities opened, innocence lost. What are we thinking about our longer-term future now?

Jupiter and Saturn first squared (on Aug 3) when both were still in fixed signs (Leo and Scorpio, respectively), while their second and third squares (in March and May of next year) will happen from their current mutable positions in Virgo and Sagittarius, further accentuating this theme.

Meanwhile, Jupiter recently formed its first-and-only exact opposition to Neptune (on Sep 16), though they'll return to an orb of less than two degrees of opposing next April and May. Jupiter-Neptune influences are somewhat harder to plainly detect, due to the broad and diffuse energies both planets emanate. Archetypally speaking, Jupiter expands, and Neptune dissolves: Combine the two, and it can be difficult to accurately determine the present determining limits of reality (versus, say, what we're idealistically imagining and/or still in the process of growing into), or to pinpoint precisely what we might be missing.

Both Jupiter and Neptune are associated with the sign of Pisces. Jupiter is Pisces's traditional ruler (in the millenia-old schema I use), while many modern astrologers consider Neptune its ruler. In this current opposition, Neptune in Pisces has the clear planet/sign advantage. Jupiter is out of its comfort-zone in Virgo, the sign of its detriment. Jupiter-in-Virgo's pragmatic prioritization of practical facts, functional details, and purifying demarcations is indeed operating at a boosted—if not exaggerated—level. But though Jupiter-in-Virgo's expressions are painstakingly predicated upon reason, that doesn't mean they necessarily cover every relevant consideration. One of Jupiter-in-Virgo's main drawbacks, let's remember, is its tendency to overlook bigger-picture angles on behalf of the very-close-up (too close-up?) view.

Jupiter's current opposition to Neptune reminds us that some important priorities, principles, or concerns cannot be adequately addressed by a careful-scrutiny, facts-based, concrete-results-oriented approach. If we don't also listen compassionately with our hearts (Neptune in Pisces), we can draw conclusions in which 'all the numbers add up' but something feels off. We can insensitively disregard our care for others, just to achieve some utilitarian aim. We can overvalue purpose, at the expense of presence. As if trying to 'prove' the existence of the Divine with the scientific method, we must understand how logical thinking and meticulous methodology (Virgoan virtue) have limits to their usefulness. However, if Neptune gains too much sway over Jupiter, we may believe we're carefully studying the details or proceeding by reason… when, in fact, we're observing what we wish to see (rather than what's really there) or hinging our plans on overly idealistic (and thus ungrounded) thinking.

Saturn is slowly veering into its Neptune square (exact on Nov 26) over these next couple months, an aspect which you'll hear more about in future writings, as it remains strongly in effect through much of 2016. Because Saturn is the planetary symbol for reality-checks, its hard aspects to Neptune often carry a flavor of disillusionment: As Neptune has a tendency to fuel our 'illusions', Saturn brings its 'dis-' to this pairing. Saturn pressures Neptune to dispel its excessive idealism, delivering sobering corrections wherever our imagination's gotten the best of us, needling us to ground our hopes in the cold hard reality which exists now.

At the same time, Neptune subtly seeks to soften Saturn's most rigid goal-oriented expressions, lending sensitivity to those zones where we've let responsibility and/or repression shut us off from our interrelatedness to the rest of the universe. Too much Saturn can leave us discouraged, divorced from pleasure and possibility, detached emotionally from other humans. We may meet all our obligations like a champ, yet feel an achingly chilly emptiness at our core. Why work so hard? To what existential ends? Disillusionment comes not only from having our delusions dispelled, but also from realizing we lack emotional connection, empathetic understanding, and/or spiritual meaning.

Though hard Saturn-Neptune aspects typically bring some sort of disenchantment with our existing circumstances first, they ultimately help us strike the proper mix between Saturnian realism and Neptunian idealism… a relevant balance to strive for, as we start synthesizing our most recent developments with a still-forming vision for how the next 'season' could look, mutable-sign-style.