By Amanda Painter
Author’s note: I wrote and published this piece without any knowledge of yesterday’s senseless and tragic shooting at a high school in Florida that killed 17 students and wounded many others. Rather than try to rewrite the piece, I wanted to acknowledge the way this event seems to spotlight the shadow side of the dynamics I’ve written about below: the potential to become so accustomed to certain shocks to the system (both our own individual biological/psychological systems and the collective cultural/political system) that they no longer carry the capacity to effect change: we become numb to the stimulus and withdraw into denial and shut down, rather than allowing the shock to help us make needed changes. We double-down on the existing pattern; and in so doing, give up more and more of our power to it.
In the case of this particular shooting, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it happened very close to an eclipse that’s sextile the Uranus-Eris conjunction in Aries. In this digital age, in which cell-phone videos — taken by students as their former classmate opens fire — become part of news reporting, can we allow this latest horror to motivate us to release the entrenched pattern of letting our lawmakers do nothing about gun laws and mental health care? Our collective karma is staring us in the face. If repeated crises are not getting us to act, what will?
Today we experience the second of the pair of eclipses for this season: a partial solar eclipse with the Aquarius New Moon, exact at 4:05 pm EST (21:05 UTC). Despite the ‘fixed’ quality of Aquarius, it looks like the theme of the eclipse chart — and of the weekend astrology — is ‘movement’.
For one thing, any eclipse near the Moon’s South Node (as this is) inherently indicates ‘release’.
Seemingly paradoxically, Aquarius itself hints at the idea of leaving old patterns behind to form new ones: this sign’s traditional ruler, Saturn, represents things like structure, limits and responsibility; its modern ruler, Uranus, represents things like revolution, sudden developments and liberation. We need the dynamic interplay of both sets of conditions in life to grow.
Yet Aquarius is a fixed air sign. I was stumped for a good example of what air might look like in ‘fixed’ form; usually we define air by its ephemeral, invisible, constant movement of other things, via wind. Then I took a walk to clear my head and get a breath of fresh air, and thought, “Oh, yeah: ‘a breath of fresh air’!” While it’s possible to be in a room that has literal stale, stagnant air (one example), we might be better off thinking of Aquarius as a state of mind: set mental habits that need occasional airing out through disruption of routine, environment or activity.
The chart for today’s eclipse offers images of astrological help in that. The first of those involves the modern ruler of Aquarius, Uranus: currently in Aries and still functionally conjunct Eris, Uranus is making a sextile to the eclipse (the Sun and Moon together, in a conjunction with asteroid Juno and Mercury). This looks like the ability to use whatever surprises come your way to help you step out of any stale, closed-off metaphorical rooms you’re inhabiting (particularly your mindset about something) and get a breath of proverbial fresh air.
The really cool thing about having Uranus sextile an eclipse is that not only might it indicate some spontaneity or innovation, but that if you act on it, your new actions, attitude and intention can carry you forward and develop for months to come. This is a well-known feature of eclipses: the potential to reorient your life, to release what is not needed, to step into a better-aligned version of your life. If you’re familiar with this theme and tend to stress out near eclipses, wondering, “Am I really doing what I should be doing with my life? How do I know what I should release now?” you might try easing up on the ‘shoulds’.
Can you allow yourself to feel into what you enjoy doing, what you desire and what would feel good? That simplification and focus of thought might help you to redirect your attention, set some intention, and then make some small, simple choices that help you to open up to possibility and potential.
It’s worth noting that another movement-enabling sextile is at work in the eclipse chart: Venus conjunct the centaur Nessus in Pisces, sextile Saturn in Capricorn. As I mentioned in an article earlier this week on Planet Waves, one quality of this aspect is the imparting of inner strength in accepting the more difficult parts of the growth and healing process. Both Saturn and Nessus indicate a measure of taking responsibility for that process, with Nessus in particular speaking of multigenerational patterns of boundary crossing (even just emotionally) and your ability to be the one who steps out of that pattern.
Finally, we can see movement in the current astrology if we look just past the eclipse. On Saturday, Mercury and the Sun make a conjunction in Aquarius. This is the midpoint between Mercury’s last retrograde period and the next one — a reminder to continue making progress on anything you’d rather not deal with during a retrograde. Even more germane to this discussion, Mercury conjunct the Sun speaks of an increase in communication, the benefit of getting out and about (there’s that breath of fresh air again…) and a great mental environment for making plans for the future. If you can keep your perspective this weekend broad enough to include those around you (rather than just yourself), all the better.
Later Saturday night (11:28 pm EST / 4:28 UTC Sunday), Mercury leaves Aquarius for Pisces: refreshing our minds with a dip into the poetic, intuitive, sensitive, psychic and creative end of the pool. And then on Sunday, the Sun follows suit, entering Pisces at 12:18 pm EST (17:18 UTC) — bathing your entire consciousness in those same deep currents. It’s a lovely reminder of how the movement does not stop when an eclipse is over: if you can use the leverage that’s available this week even just a little, you may find yourself entering a new kind of flow. Whether you notice it sooner or later may be the only real question.
That said, I want to mention one last aspect: on Saturday, Mars in Sagittarius squares Neptune in Pisces. With those two particular planets involved, you can be sure it’s already in effect. In very practical terms, this aspect is a reminder to be cautious this week of doing anything that might cloud or impair your judgment — including your assessment of how honest you’re being with yourself. Alcohol and drugs are the obvious things to watch. But since this eclipse is all about shifting patterns, that’s also a cue to stay aware of any habitual thought patterns you have that tend to undercut or repress your intuition, instincts and desires.
Do you often talk yourself out of what you really want? Are some of your beliefs about yourself inherited from parents or past relationships and no longer accurate? Does self-doubt seem to be luring you toward the easy way out, away from your sense of deeper purpose or your more challenging goals?
Remember: shifting patterns need not entail a crisis (though sometimes crises do instigate needed changes). You can initiate the process much more gently, joyfully and in the spirit of curious exploration. A little willingness can go a long way.