2018: Dealing With What Is, and What To Do About It


2018 really is a new year, folks, and not just because we've flipped some arbitrary calendar page to the next sequential number.

The astrology of the year-ahead carries a discernibly distinct vibe from what's most recently prevailed… an essential turning-away from the near-constant disorienting dynamism of these past years, and, now, an ensuing duty to survey the disarray and make the most from it while we can.

We're already detecting the strong-out-of-the-gate beginnings of this crucial shift, with the entry of Saturn into Capricorn just a few weeks back. Saturn only changes signs every 2½-to-3 years, so its arrival to new zodiacal territory is always a noteworthy influence on the larger astrological picture. In this case, Saturn has landed back in a sign it rules, immediately both accentuating its importance and strengthening its capabilities. For this next extended while, our buck stops with Saturn in Capricorn.

As I've already described at length, Saturn in Capricorn lays down its 'reality principle' with the utmost gravity and rather exacting standards for excellence, but lends impeccable earthly proficiency to those willing to meet its demands with sincerity and seriousness. This sturdiest-of-Saturns will make manifest whichever results we have cumulatively earned: nothing more, nothing less. It'll help goad our committed hard-labors to their triumphant culmination, while decisively lowering the mortal boom on any half-baked follies or long slow declines.

Saturn is our lord of linear time, a planetary clock-on-the-wall that's now hitting a most-critical hour at high-noon Capricorn, alerting us to where we now are along the finite trajectory of our unfolding. We're tasked with claiming the progress we've worked so tirelessly toward, so we may better embody it, consciously leveling ourselves up in capacity and cutting the obsolete self-deprecation crap. Meanwhile, the alarms are sounding on endeavors or involvements past their expiration date, opportunities passed up and doors starting to irreversibly close, potentials we have not explored, postponements and procrastinations hedged on a future we might not get, as the precious days tick tick tick away.

In 2018, Saturn in Capricorn seeks to startle us into respecting this inescapable march of time… pushing us to unflinchingly appraise all the tangible indicators of our present condition, so we can make more informed strategy-judgments about how best to utilize this ever-fleeting now for our future fulfillment. Can we be spooked into straightening out our priorities, without becoming so terror-stricken that we sink into cynical self-defeat? Can a sobering acceptance-of-reality bring with it a renewal in motivation, determination, and/or industriousness?

The year also delivers a second major planetary sign-change, when pot-stirring Uranus takes its first steps into Taurus in the middle of May. Because it travels even slower than Saturn, Uranus moving into a fresh sign is another big piece of astrological news for the year. All of 2018 serves as but our introductory transition into this new Uranus-in-Taurus era, which lasts through 2026. Uranus will retrograde back into Aries early in November, before eventually returning to settle into Taurus in March '19.

Uranus in Taurus is a rather uncomfortable planet-sign combo, to be sure. Uranus foments shocks and surprises, self-individuating risks and resets, potentially disruptive breaks-from-the-norm. Conversely, Taurus craves what's predictable and proven, solid and safe. When Uranus is in Taurus, then, the evolutionary pressures to release, reroute, and reinvent can feel even more severe than in other signs. Taurus, by its conservative nature, seeks to maintain stable routines and reliable stocks—and, therefore, naturally resists the force of external tide-changes. Whereas Uranus's unorthodox and/or jarring expressions have been favorably fostered by its transit through impulsive and pioneering Aries, such jolts are not Taurus's cup-of-tea.

Both Saturn's and Uranus's shifts ferry them from fire signs (Sagittarius and Aries, respectively) into earth (Capricorn and Taurus), a significant change in elemental emphasis that redirects us away from too much spontaneous motion driven merely by instinct, devotion, or desire… and toward more grounding-and-steadying concern for the present state of our physical circumstances. The fiery sparks of creativity are doomed to burn out, after all, if not sustainably tended to and protected within some safekeeping earthy container.

In 2018, we're being asked to pay more intentional mind to the earth-ruled material plane: the lands, the bodies, the mechanical needs, the resources we depend on to subsist, the objective requirements for organic life. Though Uranus is only just beginning its trip through Taurus this year, we should already anticipate the impending probability of abrupt material-plane disturbances or upsets over the coming months and years. Taurus might prefer to proceed by presuming the ground is solid and the familiar can indefinitely endure, but Uranus must get its upturning job done, one way or another.

The likely enormity of whatever imminent material stresses or disruptions will eventually accompany Uranus's transit through Taurus is only further indicated by Saturn's now-just-starting-to-form conjunction to Pluto in Capricorn, a hugely significant aspect which perfects to its fullest pinnacle in January 2020. Though still nearly two years from peak expression, this nascent coming-together of Saturn and Pluto will increasingly dominate our astrological scene as the primary outer-planet aspect influencing us while it waxes closer to perfection.

2018 is the first year in nearly a decade when the outer-planet picture isn't centered around the generation-defining Uranus-Pluto square (for once Uranus moves out of Aries, it'll no longer be in square to Pluto even by sign). Instead, we're being introduced to the darker-and-heavier tones of this Saturn-Pluto conjunction… a critical come-to-Jesus point at which there's simply no squirming away from the aggregated effects of our long-term governance tactics, in both personal and collective contexts.

What has been ignored will fester to its logical crisis-point. What has been squandered will confront us with its glaring absence. What has been denied will take on greater power of its own, a rising shadow to lurk ever more menacingly over our shoulder. What has been pushed down will intensify its rotting from beneath, compromising the very foundation upon which so much else rests. And also, what has been conscientiously considered, carefully cultivated, repeatedly prioritized and responsibly managed will affirm its mettle-and-might like never before—not in a showy flash, but with dignified, confident competence. Those whose proven merits land them fortunately on top then must decide how to lend a much-needed leg-up to their struggling comrades… or whether to exploit their coveted spot for selfish gain.

We'll get our first real taste of these Saturn-Pluto themes in the days around the year's earlier eclipses on Jan 31 (lunar) and Feb 15 (solar), a 'chapter-marking' moment that should remind us just how much has happened since the last eclipses in August. Now, we must look at the scene again through this sobering Saturn-Pluto lens, and begin to pragmatically address these latest developments with our future well-being in mind.

Thankfully, we do have this year for taking on any corrective measures or grand action-plans that might set us up for better circumstances and conditions by 2020. There are no exact outer-planet hard-aspects forming in '18, just the incremental advance towards Saturn-and-Pluto's conjunction. We are still under the influence of Jupiter's trine to Neptune (along with its subtler sextile to Pluto)… but rather than compelling us toward any critical challenges, this Jupiter-Neptune trine (exact again in May and August) merely fuels 'a symbiotic heightening of emotion' about situations we're already in, feeding our compassionate sensitivities while exacerbating any overidealistic streaks. These amplified feelings can help point us to whatever most acutely warrants remediation—and they can also be preyed upon by those bullies or opportunists skilled at tapping into the undercurrents.

With these overriding energies in mind, our day-to-day life will be strongly impacted by back-to-back retrogrades of first Mars (Jun 26-Aug 27) and then Venus (Oct 5-Nov 16). The Mars retrograde is especially relevant to the dominant Saturn signature I've described, due to its occurring in the late degrees of Capricorn and early degrees of Aquarius, the two signs which Saturn traditionally rules. In fact, Mars will spend eight months of the year in either Capricorn or Aquarius, which means our ability to effectively utilize its will-asserting force depends greatly on heeding Saturn's checks and cautions.

Mars retrogrades are phases when bodily rhythms flip to a different frequency, our get-up-and-go is drawn to alternative desires or purposes, and/or our progress is stalled in one area because our attention is needed elsewhere. In a notable synchronicity, all five outer-planets will be in either earth or water throughout the entire length of Mars's retrograde (all the way from May to November, in fact). These signs are traditionally considered the passive, receptive, and responsive ones (as contrasted with the active, projective, and instigative fire-and-air signs). This seems to reiterate a clear astrological call to slow our feverish advances during this time… to take in the practical wisdoms available to the observant among us, and to update our asset-allocation practices with this latest information. The year's second set of eclipses also occur during this same time, a trio of events on Jul 12 (solar), Jul 27 (lunar), and Aug 11 (solar).

Venus's retrograde falls in late Libra and early Scorpio, presenting us an occasion to reexamine our values and/or reconsider our relational involvements in the aftermath of Mars's earlier reversal. This retrograde parallels a similar event from 2010, when it followed this same course back and forth from a sign where it's in its detriment (Scorpio) to a sign it rules (Libra), bringing up present-day correlations and correspondences with that moment from eight years ago. Only this time, thanks to the retrograde, Venus will form three oppositions to Uranus between September and November. Which affiliations and affections can withstand this urgent update, and which will crack?

We finally welcome an optimism-restoring booster of outer-planet fire in early November, when Jupiter leaves dusky Scorpio for its horizon-chasing home-sign of Sagittarius. Coming at the tail-end of a year laden with Saturn's important-business demands, Jupiter in Sagittarius promises to pierce this curtain of unrelenting realism with its arrow of bold possibility. If we've spent much of our '18 facing the music, repairing the breaches, and cementing our resolve, we just might be ready to more safely open up to another new adventure starting in the year's closing weeks.