A Full-Moon Pholus on the Solstice

By Amanda Painter

As you likely already know, late tomorrow the Sun enters Capricorn for the solstice. The next day, we get a potent-looking Cancer Full Moon. So we’re about to enter a moment of (possibly) heightened emotions, layered on top of cultural holiday busy-ness, layered on top of a seasonal point of contraction and interiority, all nestled into the personal-is-political Aries Point — with a twist.

Photo by Amanda Painter

Photo by Amanda Painter

These are days to keep a finger on the pulse of how you’re feeling.

What catches your attention as a possible synchronicity or as having meaning, and what (or who) starts to trigger your reactivity? Are you going along with the crowd because it’s expected or you’ve ‘always done this’, or is a small, inner voice whispering something about needing to spend a little time differently this year?

To help you get your bearings, here’s the timing of the main astro events: on Friday, Dec. 21, the Sun enters Capricorn at 5:23 pm EST (22:22:37 UTC), immediately making a conjunction to the centaur Pholus (technically exact the next day). That’s the “twist” I mentioned, and I’ll come back to it in a moment.

At 11:28 am EST (16:27:54 UTC) on Saturday, Dec. 22, the Moon ingresses Cancer. Then, just over an hour later at 12:48 pm EST (17:48:29 UTC), the Cancer Moon and Capricorn Sun oppose each other.

With a Full Moon in the very first degree of Cancer, we’re ringing the bell of the Aries Point pretty strongly (the Aries Point is the first degree of Aries, which resonates with the first degree of all the cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Cap). I know many people don’t pay as much attention to the news on the weekends, though with social media interaction it still may enter your awareness. Even so, you might want to pay attention to it over the next few days.

For one thing, it seems likely we’ll be hearing more big news from Robert Mueller III’s investigation into the Trump team’s collusion with Russians trying to influence the 2016 election (as has been suggested elsewhere, noting that Capricorn is the sign of government and big business). For another, Aries Point events often can be useful in helping us to make the connections between what happens ‘out there’ in government and in larger social movements, and what happens in our own personal lives. When we have a stronger grasp of how those two realms can influence each other, it opens up the potential to become more empowered in our choices.

That power, however, implies being willing to acknowledge what we understand, and to accept the responsibility for using that information or wisdom actively. In other words, Aries Point events can be catalysts for becoming a more aware leader within your own life. If you’re willing to avoid slipping back into denial, it serves as a point of no return.

Intriguingly, several of these themes get mentioned in the keynotes for the Sabian symbols for 1 Cancer and 1 Capricorn. (The Sabians are a set of channeled images for each zodiac degree, the most popular version being Dane Rudhyar’s interpretation.)

The symbol for 1 Cancer is: “On a ship the sailors lower an old flag and raise a new one.” It comes with the keynote, “A radical change of allegiance exteriorized in a symbolical act: a point of no return.”

The symbol for 1 Capricorn is: “An Indian chief claims power from the assembled tribe.” Its keynote reads, “The power and responsibility implied in any claim for leadership.”

Anyone looking at the state of U.S. politics these days can easily see those who are abusing their power and shirking the responsibility that accompanies their claims to leadership. Sadly, those who take that power and responsibility seriously, and with integrity, tend to get less media attention — but they do exist. Sometimes they even become very high-profile figures, but not because they themselves seek celebrity; Mueller and Ruth Bader Ginsberg come to mind as examples.

In combination with the keynote for 1 Cancer, things get really intriguing. I’m not about to make any predictions, because “changes of allegiance” and “points of no return” can move in any direction. But I am very curious indeed to see what, if anything, fits these descriptions — whether in the news, or more personally.

This “point of no return” strikes me as especially synchronistic given the presence of Pholus in the equation. Pholus is the runaway reaction; the small cause with the big effect; the genie being let out of the bottle. All of those phrases are ways of describing a point of no return.

Pholus can also manifest in the form of a catalyst: the thing that does not itself change, but which triggers significant, ripple-effect change on a very foundational or elemental level. With the potential catalytic effect of Aries Point events on our awareness, and the ability for Pholus to symbolize similar processes beginning, I would say this is a theme to watch.

That said, as Eric mentioned in the Monday Diary, we’re still learning about Pholus in astrology. It was only discovered in 1992, though it seems to have been quite prominent and active in many important event charts in recent years. Even so, this Full Moon is a proving moment for Pholus: a major event in which we can hopefully observe Pholus at work in a clear way. It might take a while for its full effect to become obvious, both collectively and individually.

Also in the mix of the current astrology, we have the centaur Ixion conjunct the Galactic Center in late Sagittarius: ethics, ethics, ethics! Sure, you can wait to see if the law of karma catches up with you, but why not just listen to your conscience now and do what’s right? And if you feel like you’re being given a second chance to get something right, does it seem to carry a deeper message, or broader application in your life?

Sticking with Sagittarius a moment, Mercury conjoins Jupiter in early-mid Sagittarius, exact a few hours before the Sun ingresses Capricorn tomorrow. This looks like an excellent boost in enthusiasm, optimism and broadness of vision. The question is: what will you use it to accomplish?

Sure, you could just enjoy feeling good. But why not put this to use toward a long-term goal or plan? You may need to remind yourself consciously to check the details, and it might be helpful to think back to late October and late November (Mercury’s last two conjunctions to Jupiter, thanks to its recent retrograde) to focus things; but Jupiter does allegedly bestow its blessings more tangibly when we put in some effort to meet its energy and carry it forward.

Who knows? Maybe this is also a way to explore the potential of Pholus to unleash positive, constructive and creative effects, rather than something detrimental. Along those lines, being very careful with alcohol this weekend is another strong message from Pholus in this setup, something the emotional nature of a Full Moon — particularly one in Cancer — underscores.

Whatever you notice, discover and set in motion in the coming days, I wish you a peaceful, centering solstice. Even if certain circumstances are out of your control, chances are you have more power over your emotional response than it may feel. Take your time with it.


As we go deeper into this most unusual and challenging phase of history, intelligence is the thing we need the most. That is the theme of the 2019-2020 annual edition of Planet Waves, now available for pre-order. See more information here.

3 thoughts on “A Full-Moon Pholus on the Solstice

  1. Patricia Proctor

    This is so interesting! I’ll be sure to take notes. The entire last month has been an exercise of worry and then relief, as far as needed home repairs, and the like. Changing allegiance, for us, was going with much much younger workers with their own new businesses for things like gutters, tree removal, and the like. Instead of $4,000, tree removal was $1900. Instead of $8,000 for gutters and soffit, it was $3500 for gutters, wood and “that soffit is ‘old school.’ They don’t make it like that anymore! I know someone who can straighten it out and paint it.’ I look forward to seeing what happens next!

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