The Sun’s time in Aquarius this year (January 19th – February 18th) is extremely frontloaded. The majority of significant configurations occur during the first two weeks. The solar month is mixed in quality, with an assortment of both fortunate and unfortunate combinations.
The most significant celestial event is the total lunar Eclipse in the sign of Leo on January 20th, and it is on this event this essay will dwell before transitioning into a general overview. The lunar Eclipse is dramatic event number one for this solar month. It will be visible in its entirety throughout North and South America, as well as the UK and the northernmost tip of Eurasia.
It is the last Eclipse in the Leo-Aquarius series, which began in February 2017, and included the Great American Eclipse in its run.
As a whole, this Eclipse cycle has served to thoroughly churn issues of ego, identity, visibility, leadership, and representation. This last installment will come to many as a coagulation of the lessons which’ve been doled out over the last 2 years. It therefore behooves us look back at the other Lunar Eclipses in Leo which have occurred in this cycle. Let’s do a little psychic time travel.
It’s February 10th, 2017, and a partial lunar Eclipse is taking place in Leo, the first in that sign. The skies are doing some Foreshadowing.
Though the Eclipse might appear, at first glance, to be nothing more than a bit of rusty edging on the Full Moon, there’s more. Look deeper, and you’ll see that shadow is in fact a doorway, opened just a crack. In the space behind that door, something moves. Something, or things, are on the other side, ready to ingress. What are they? Is it a pride of lions, bloodied from some conflict? Or are those people, massed and waving flags? Are those protesters- or the crowd at a massive concert?
These indistinct scenes mix with the milk-silver moonlight and pour across the earth, argent beams laced with strangely vital shadows. Looking up, again, at the source of this complicated light, you see your own visage reflected in the circle of the Moon, as if it were a mirror just for you. Yet your reflection is restless. Minute shifts, little mutations swarm your vision. Your hair seems to writhe a bit, as if its coils lived. Your teeth look larger, more carnivorous, than you remember. Shadows halo you, and images keep trying to emerge from them. It feels like the invisible parts of you are becoming visible, your secret vices and virtues unfurling like tiny banners. What is the feeling? Is it pride, perhaps courage? Maybe vanity. It’s like you are more yourself, like there’s nothing repressed, nothing hidden, nothing latent. You feel whole, but dangerously self-satisfied, full of obscene confidence.
Yet just as quick as the shadow crept up, it recedes. The strange feeling drains away, and the little stain on the Moon disappears. Luna’s bright mirror no longer reflects the oncoming future, nor does it display images of monstrous empowerment. Looking at your reflection again, it looks just as it always does, framed with familiar vanities and shames. As normalcy returns, it is difficult to say what all that was about, what exactly it meant. What you do know is that this process, whatever it is, has only just begun.
Travel forward. It’s a year later, February 2018, and a total lunar Eclipse is taking place in Leo, a Crimson Mirror hanging red in the sky.
The Eclipse’s rays drip thick down to earth, a mixture of light, blood, and shadow. If you but hold out a cup, you will soon find it filled with strange visions. The total Lunar Eclipse in Leo thus arrives as a great Crimson Mirror. In it your whole nature and Original Face might be glimpsed, but through a lens darkly. That great face is wreathed with living shadows, doppelgangers smirking in your peripheral vision.
That face may strike you as alien, as it is larger by far than your conscious personality. It is so vast it would take a lifetime to entirely explore it. It is its own landscape, its own adventure, containing its very own heavens and hells.
In that mirror you may catch a glimpse of Aion-Mithras, lion headed and encircled by a snake. A vision of the whole Self will always look Baphometic — a disturbing chimera of the celestial and chthonic, bestial and human, male and female. It is what we look like before our light is parsed into an array of masks. You will know it when you see it, because it is both more and less powerful than yourself — uglier and more beautiful, crueler and infinitely more kind.
That image lives in the past, as your Original Face; what you have never escaped being. It also lives in the future, as the tantalizing result of your Great Work. It is the success of alchemical embodiment, the final transmutation and reconciliation of existence. Its contradictions do not shatter it, they affirm it.
The spectacle of wholeness unfolds in that mirror, but wholeness is not happiness. It is not a state without flaws, or claws. Wholeness is both strong and weak. It has both a halo and teeth. Wholeness has the beatific visage of a saint, a sorcerer’s grin, a child’s pain, and an adolescent’s awkwardness.
Wholeness, or health, is not achieved by deciding which pieces of ourselves to accept and which to reject. These limited collages may appear superficially pretty, but they can never be beautiful.
Though you might get a glimpse of this larger Self in the Eclipse mirror, your conscious identity-structure will never be big enough to include all that you see. What we identify with at a given moment, the mask we’re currently wearing, is a representation of one portion of this mysterium tremendum. It cannot encompass it entirely, for we possess millions of forms of being.
Yet a glimpse of the ugly beautiful Original Face should inspire our mask-making. This vision is the prima materia of Self which we are challenged to assemble, artfully, into an identity.
Having retraced our steps, let us return to January 20th, 2019, where the last Eclipse in this series waits for us.
The first lunar Eclipse in Leo in this series was in the third decan of the Lion’s sign. The second was in the second decan. This, the third and final, is in the first decan. Eclipses travel backward through the signs, always seeking the source, the root. Each decan has a rich symbolic topography all its own.
In this first face of Leo a serpent, flaming and lion-headed, descends. It falls like light into a gemstone, or a spotlight onto a performer. The lion-serpent finds its counterpart and home
in the bone-dragon architecture of the vertebral column and skull. The two fuse, Solar and Saturnian, light and living stone.
Optics are indeed an important part of this decan’s dynamics, as what it brings into being is often quite theatrical. Spectacles and performances abound. Masks and spotlights on. The Saturnian judgment of the audience competes with the performer’s bravery.
This is last Eclipse is the condensation, coagulation, of all the lessons on pride and shame, of the hunger-for and fear-of attention. This final Eclipse in Leo gives us the insight and impetus we need to finally finish this round of work. The Eclipse will do its share of the labor, but you’ll need to do yours. As to how, consider Sphere + Sundry’s guide to meeting the dragon half-way on Rahu, and the Eclipse cycle shift.
Here, in Leo I, we don’t just wear the mask. We own it. We perform it. We let our star-power shine through it. We flash gold. We flash lead, too, the alchemical origin of gold. We flaunt the ugly, dull foundation of the magnum opus. We strut as feathered serpents, garish dragons, the Sun and Moon our daily bread, eating and excreting light.
If you think back on it, it’s who you’ve always been. It was you that you wanted to slay when you rode out as a knight. It was you that slept for a millennium atop a pile of ancient treasure. You have always been the dragon, the serpent who slipped into Eden and made a mess. Because you didn’t want Eden. You wanted a sexy adventure, you sinful thing. You wanted a challenge and a hard-won triumph, you heroic bastard. You created flaw to contrast to with all that bland perfection. Pretty wasn’t good enough. You wanted beauty. You artist, you devil.
You are that eternal serpent, whose every glittering scale is a mask. You are the Ouroboros unwound and on the go, sheathed in millions of forms of being.
This overview of the month is divided into three equal sections, each of which encompasses the Sun’s movement through one of the three decans of Aquarius, each of which has a distinct flavor.
Aquarius I: January 19th-29th
The Sun’s time in Aquarius starts off with a bang and a shadow. It is busy this year, with more action occurring during this first third than either of the other two.
The total lunar Eclipse in Leo detailed above occurs on the 20th. Yet the days surrounding the Eclipse are further charged, as three other configurations peak during that time. Mars and Saturn make a perfect square on the 21st, pressing noses to the grindstone without mercy. Yet nearly simultaneously, Venus and Jupiter conjoin in Sagittarius, offering a double-sized serving of benefic goodness.
Mercury also has a busy series of days. On the 21st, Mercury conjoins Ketu, the South Node of the Moon, which is neither tough nor easy, but provides a strong pull toward reflection and contemplation. Shortly thereafter, on the 23rd, Mercury squares Uranus in Aries, catalyzing insights and disrupting plans, and then later on the 23rd, Mercury leaves Capricorn behind, ingressing into Aquarius.
It is in Aquarius that the Mercury and the Sun conjoin perfectly on the 29th, putting Mercury in cazimi, the heart of the Sun. This alignment shines a penetrating mental light through the surrounding days, offering a contemplative clarity which is a particularly nice follow-up to the busy, loud, intense quality of the preceding weeks. The calm after, rather than before, the storm.
Overall, the first decan of Aquarius this year is fiery, active, and busy-busy. The skies brew up a little malefica, but there is enough good to more than balance the bad.
Aquarius II: January 29th – February 8th
The second decan of Aquarius is more sedate, on the whole, than the first, though the energy is still high for the first few days.
Mars in Aries squares Pluto in Capricorn on the 1st, filling the surrounding days with both unholy determination and unprocessed anger. On the 2nd, Venus in Sagittarius completes a trine with Uranus in Aries, an emotionally catalytic aspect. The 3rd sees Mercury in Aquarius make an uplifting sextile to Jupiter in Sagittarius and also holds Venus’ ingress into Capricorn. Venus’ entrance into the Goat Fortress ends her celebratory time in Sag with Jupiter. Venus will have to share Capricorn with Saturn, Pluto and Ketu— a rather gloomy set of companions for the bright morning star. This ingress shifts the elemental balance away from the fiery, bringing the general tone down to earth.
The New Moon in Aquarius arrives on the 4th, resetting the skies. This New Moon is the first lunation since December not to be Eclipsed, and also marks Chinese New Year, beginning the Year of the Golden Pig.
In the days following the New Moon, Mars inches toward a square with the nodal axis and conjunction with Uranus. Both the nodes and Uranus are destabilizing, unbalancing factors, which makes Mars quite volatile from the 8th up until the 14th.
Aquarius III: February 9th-18th
The Sun’s time in the third decan of Aquarius begins with Mercury’s quick, revelatory sextile with Uranus in Aries and subsequent entrance into Pisces. This is a significant shift, as Mercury will be in the Fishes’ sign for an unusually long period of time this year— two solid months. This is due to Hermes’ upcoming retrograde, which begins on March 5th. Although the retro doesn’t begin for weeks, communication and tech issues will begin immediately, as Mercury always has a hard time in Pisces. Keep an eye on your plans if you don’t want what you’ve organized to begin slowly melting.
The days up until the 14th are all dominated by Mars’ volatile conjunction with Uranus in Aries, which is exact on the 13th. Mars’ fire and Uranus’ lightning make for an extremely yang pairing. Their combined fire will catalyze both breakthroughs and breakdowns. Careful where you point that thing while this pairing is active.
The configuration loses steam quickly once Mars enters slow Taurus on the 14th. Mars is much less volatile in Taurus, so much so that it can be difficult to get the engine started. Steady, plodding Mars in Taurus sets will be our pace car until the very end of March.
Beginning on the 16th, Venus hits a difficult bit of sky. Venus conjoins Saturn, Pluto and then the South Node on the 18th, 22nd, and 25th. Saturn’s asceticism and restraint is hard for Venus, as is Pluto’s unsettling depth and Ketu’s poison-processing. Venus’ conjunctions with these three pushes us to face the emotional and relational implications of the most complicated part of this year’s skies.
The Sun enters Pisces on February 18th, beginning the next solar month. While Sol’s time in Aquarius began fiery, exciting and dramatic, it ends with a slower pace, a muddy combination of Earth and Water. It ends not with a bang, but a yawn. The Sun’s journey through Pisces includes a jolt or two, but for the most part will move with a slow, circumambulatory flow.