2016's Big Pivot


These next few weeks bring us the most striking astrological turning-point of the entire year.

Following several months' worth of false starts, frustrated ambitions, and stalled progress—courtesy of an astroscape-dominating Mars retrograde, as well as the disheartening Saturn-Neptune square backdrop which accompanied it—we are finally heading into a phase when our forward strides can be more freely realized.

At last, Mars will be leaving its post-retrograde shadow on Monday (Aug 22), to tread its first fresh steps since retrograding back in mid-April. To put this news into perspective: When not impacted by a retrograde, Mars typically moves through a zodiac-sign in about six-to-seven weeks. Yet, Mars has basically spent the entire year so far (that's nearly eight months, folks!) in either Scorpio or Sagittarius. Mars initially entered its pre-retrograde shadow in mid-February… which means that only now is the planet of initiative-and-self-assertion moving beyond the same zone it's occupied these last six months.

Mars is ready to move us ahead now, after having ruthlessly tested our patience, mettle, and/or thoroughness-of-forethought. If an aim, aspiration, or desire has survived through all this, we must really and truly want it.

But right as it's emerging from its last throes of retrograde influence, Mars also applies to a conjunction with Saturn (exact on Wed Aug 24), adding a sobering note of realism to this pivotal moment. Though Mars flirted with conjoining Saturn back in April (right as it was stationing to retrograde motion), it never fully formed the aspect, leaving us in a sort of limbo, in terms of not really revealing many visible signs of either (1) burgeoning, sustainable success or (2) undesirable and/or restrictive consequences. We stopped short of receiving the conclusive evidence we sought, instead finding ourselves returned to the Mars-retrograde drawing-board, where we had to confront whatever incomplete psychological-processing work was in fact an essential prerequisite to actual advancement. Now we can see the concrete results and repercussions of Mars's past-many-months' efforts.

As Mars and Saturn conjoin this week, please take an unflinching review at where your year's gotten you so far. If a project, objective, or endeavor that's long been 'in progress' has recently begun to show measurable development, this is a very reassuring indicator. Though getting to this point likely took longer than you'd wished or expected, your persistent efforts will make up this difference with stability and/or staying-power. Continue on, then.

We must also look closely at what appears not to be functioning, proceeding, or bearing fruit. Saturn won't allow Mars to handily proceed beyond this juncture if a critical component has been overlooked, disregarded, or inappropriately handled. Any hindrances or hurdles now materializing are no accident; they are telling symptoms of whichever specific considerations or concerns weren't treated seriously enough in recent months. This is your definitive moment to work through such hitches… whether by filling in a gaping blank, cleaning up chaos left in the wake of a brash move, mending fences which were busted in a hasty huff, or, if the writing's unmistakably on the wall, coming to terms with the fact that a promising-seeming idea clearly isn't manifesting, at least in its present form.

Mars's conjunction to Saturn also brings a simultaneous square to Neptune (exact on Thu Aug 25), due to that ongoing Saturn-Neptune square which dominates the year's astrology. Your most responsible step-forward, therefore, could also carry with it a sense of disappointment… particularly if a cherished ideal simply cannot be supported by current real-world conditions.

Mars-Neptune squares often lead us to take an action which implies our wishful and/or wide-eyed ignorance of inconvenient, inhibiting, or problematic factors… ultimately resulting in impaired effectiveness, once the ignored factors' presence is unmistakably asserted. We may impede our own progress by muddling our focus with undue concessions, submissions, or sacrifices to individuals or undertakings at cross-purposes with our self-determined goals. On the other hand, with Mars having to navigate both Saturn's and Neptune's influences, we could just as easily shut our eyes to how someone else might unfortunately suffer from the fallout of our own tunnel-vision choices. We must remain sensitive to the broader implications of our actions, lest we cause others harm in the process of blindly stalking our singular target.

The distinct pivotal quality of this present moment is further accentuated by the next set of eclipses, super-potent New and Full Moons which break up our life-stories into 'chapters' every six months or so. The last eclipse-period (i.e., the few weeks surrounding a pair or trio of eclipses) happened back in March, as Mars moved through its pre-retrograde shadow—and now that Mars is leaving the shadow, these next eclipses are marking the end of that chapter and the start of a new one. This past week's Full Moon in Aquarius (Aug 18) was just barely considered a lunar eclipse, though it didn't result in a perceptible event. A month from now, the Full 'Harvest' Moon in Pisces (Sep 16) will yield a somewhat more pronounced lunar eclipse. In between these two, the New Moon in Virgo (Sep 1) produces a strong total solar eclipse.

I interpret the Sep 1 solar eclipse in Virgo as the most significant of the three, insofar as the Sun and Moon will be closely conjunct the lunar North Node, marking this as an incredibly potent lunation for releasing explicitly detailed intention-plans into the cosmic winds.

The conjoined Sun-Moon duo will also click right into the Saturn-Neptune square during this eclipse, directly opposing Neptune while squaring off against Saturn (and Mars). In this configuration, Neptune reminds us there are always certain elements of even the best-laid intentions which cannot be planned for, controlled, or rationally understood… but must be seen, and worked with, as irresolvable variables representing the cryptic sway of Divine Will. (After all, the most capable creators blend careful strategy with deference to inspiration and/or calling.) From its present spot in adventuresome Sagittarius, meanwhile, Saturn prods us to acknowledge that plans are meaningless unless we're willing to put action behind them. If we want to get ourselves to another destination, we've got to muster the courage to move towards it… even if we're nervous or terrified.

In the midst of all this, mischievous-messenger Mercury will also enter a three-week retrograde phase (Aug 30-Sep 21). But before you freak out, let me point out that its entirety will play out in Virgo, a sign which Mercury rules. When in one of its home-signs, Mercury's more naturally comfortable fulfilling its functions (namely, information-processing-and-transmitting)… so even when it's retrograde (which causes its familiar rhythms to run differently than usual), it's better able to catch its potential snafus before they happen (if, that is, we're paying close enough attention) or to fix them if they do.

This Mercury retrograde in Virgo is liable to get hairiest insofar as it may bombard us with the million-and-one pressing details, practical concerns, and small-but-critical steps which must all be simultaneously considered, in the process of concretely realizing these pivotal leaps we've been trying all year to make happen. At its worst, the Mercury-retrograde influence will distort the relative significance of certain minor-points or finer-features: It's not that these aren't important, but, without keeping a wide-lens perspective, they can take on a life of their own—and overshadow the overall purpose which defines their importance.

And one more big astro-event transpires during this very same time: On Sep 9, Jupiter will enter Libra, making its once-a-year sign-shift and leaving Virgo behind (where it's been since August of last year). As this is the only slower-moving planet that'll change signs in '16, Jupiter arriving in Libra will have a palpable impact on the overall vibe of the remaining third of this year. For one, Jupiter in Libra will add some much-needed air into the outer-planet elemental mix; among the five outer planes, we haven't had a single placement in an air sign since Jupiter left Gemini in mid-2013. Also, Jupiter in Libra will reactivate the waning Uranus-Pluto square, forming hard aspects to both (i.e., opposing Uranus and squaring Pluto) in the later months of '16. Suffice it to say, I'll be writing more about Jupiter-in-Libra's specific role in this big pivot over the coming weeks.

For the first time all year, we're truly approaching novel ground. Ready to roll? You better be.