By Amanda Moreno
Welcome to the year of the fire monkey. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Sounds like a lot of fun if you ask me, just going on the images that come to mind. Fun, jovial, free, swinging through trees, forward flips and back flips and excitement, hootin’ and hollerin’… what a spectacle! How dizzying! Maybe that fire monkey is going to need some reining in.
The New Moon that saw the birth of the new year for so many Eastern cultures throughout the world felt auspicious to me. Now, I’m extraordinarily biased, seeing as it took place directly conjunct the Sun and descendant in my natal chart. In fact, most of the planets in the New Moon chart significantly aspect most things in my natal chart.
After weeks of trying to put together a vision board for the year, and being stumped because I want to accomplish way more than I can distill into a small square of images, I took a look at the way this New Moon lit up my chart, and decided the vision board should just focus on ways I can keep my center as I apparently step into a year of weaving dharma.
More objectively speaking, several friends and clients have noted a loosening, a brightening, a return to self that seems to have happened over the past week or so.
Maybe it’s the energy of Imbolc, the cross-quarter day that signals the immanent return of spring and the need to finish off the winter stores and clean out the nooks and crannies, in preparation for the first planting just around the corner. Maybe it’s just a local thing — we had a few days of warm-ish, sunny weather here in Seattle. Regardless, some themes have come to mind.
There’s something about the Sabian symbol for the degree of the New Moon at 20 degrees Aquarius that provides a basic framework for discussing these themes:
Symbol: A Large White Dove Bearing A Message
Keynote: The answer of spiritual agencies to thorough, sustained and victorious individual efforts. … The individual who has gone courageously and with indomitable spirit through his crucial crisis receives, as it were, a deep spiritual blessing from the Soul-realm: “Mission accomplished. Peace be with you.” And in this blessing a secret prophecy of what is yet to come may be seen by the perspicacious and spiritually sensitive mind of the recipient. Every real spiritual step a man takes in his development is the result of a victory over forces of inertia or destruction. The Divine is totally “present” in the heart of all true victories.
That symbol speaks very loudly to what I’ve been feeling, which is something akin to going through a long dark night of the soul, emerging, and then having some space and finally regaining a sense of buoyancy that doesn’t get shattered with the slightest tap. The spark has returned — the monkey is ready to swing through the trees again.
The symbol also speaks to the importance of staying in touch with cycles and phases. There is something inherently helpful about knowing that it’s all a process. We can slog through difficulty knowing it won’t always be that way. We embrace the joyful times knowing that it won’t always be that way, stocking up on sunshine and gratitude to be held like a beacon of hope when the darkness descends again.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some of us who, for whatever reason, go through years and years of painful transformation. I recognize there comes a point where mind, soul and body are exhausted and memory of the spark goes out, and we just don’t care anymore that it is a process.
It is said that the Jungian approach to psychology has a teleological orientation. Rather than delving into the past to find the root cause of a symptom or pathology or pattern, Jung’s psychology was concerned with the present, as it produces future development. That is, inherent in this is the notion that all processes are working towards a specific goal or outcome.
In the case of psychology this can be seen as a symptom that develops not because of our history, but to express unconscious processes or purposes. So we can say: what is this symptom doing or what is it for? Translating that into astrolo-gese, we can ask what a given transit or aspect is evoking or asking, and what is the long-term goal of that. Jung argued that a psychological complex or habit was not only serving to regulate the function of the psyche, but was re-organizing the future.
A teleological orientation, then, embraces a view of the soul in which there is some central orienting principle (Jung called it the Self) that contains an image of wholeness, and that is ultimately striving towards that wholeness and the transformations that progression requires. I suppose, then, that this orientation invites us to view the images of the soul — its memories, emotions, body reactions — as “a secret prophecy of what is yet to come.”
I wonder what the message of the Aquarian New Moon is. For me, it seems to fall somewhere in between the image of a white dove and a monkey swinging through the trees. I have a sense of calm euphoria and grounded idealism. I’ve been celebrating and feeling that monkey energy swing through, noticing how much I adore the sense of freedom while having a suspicion that it could flail out of control and into debaucherous over-indulgence.
Astrologer Austin Coppock makes a prescient point in his latest astrological writing:
Monkey is both heroic and selfish, and in many ways encapsulates human nature more accurately than his many human companions. Indeed, we are all the rascally Monkey Kings (and Queens) of our lives. He is constantly tempted by food, power and a general inclination toward naughtiness, but is eventually redeemed by a lengthy Buddhist pilgrimage. It is only through subduing his powerful but often destructive nature to the Dharma that he comes to find his rightful place.
That last line in particular seems key. What is it we are going through in any given moment? In what ways are our psychological complexes or life events or transits trying to show us our current framework, unconscious impulses or patterns in order to propel us on the path to wholeness? What is being destroyed so that something new can be born? How can we integrate the Aquarius-Leo axis in terms of prioritizing authenticity and creative self-actualization, while still remembering to step out of the subjective and consider the collective?
Where we are going, or whatever the end goal might be is, of course, a mystery. But there are times when I feel a striking sense of knowing that being able to consciously participate in that mystery is a gift I get to unwrap over and over again. Keeping the magic of that knowing alive is a flame worth tending.