Capricorn 2018 (Dec 21 – Jan 19): The Alchemy of Lead

Capricorn 2018 (Dec 21 – Jan 19): The Alchemy of Lead

While the Sun’s time in Sagittarius highlighted the opportunities which Jupiter in Sagittarius will be handing out throughout the year, Sol’s movement through Capricorn will spotlight the difficulties 2019 offers.

These challenges are seen through the fact that Saturn, Pluto and the Dragon’s Tail will all be copresent in Capricorn for the entirety of the year. The dissonant chord which these three create will be struck in several instaances, but perhaps at no time so obviously as the Sun’s time in Capricorn.

This solar month sees the Sun conjoin all three of the aforementioned points, and is also host to a Solar Eclipse in Capricorn, which occurs on January 5th. The eclipses have been on the Leo-Aquarius axis since early 2017, and so this is our transition into a new cycle. This Eclipse in the Goat’s sign begins a series of Solar and Lunar Eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn which will continue until mid 2020. The beginning of one cycle and the end of another are interlinked, though, like hands clasped. The last eclipse in the Leo-Aquarius cycle, a total Lunar Eclipse in Leo, actually occurs after the first Capricorn Eclipse, on January 20th, 2019.

Fast and Slow, Bright and Dim

Saturn, Pluto and the Eclipse in Capricorn paint a picture as solemn as a robbed grave, and while they form an important part of the Sun’s time in Capricorn, there are also lighter, brighter planets in play which spruce up the solar month’s color scheme.

On January 1st, Mars enters full-on Aries, adding force and fire to the month. Venus enters Sagittarius on January 7th, contributing colorful pyrotechnics to the mix. Venus joins Jupiter in Sagittarius, which places both benefics in the same sign, doubling our pleasure until Venus enters Capricorn on February 3rd.

While the planets in Capricorn all have a ponderous quality, Mars in Aries is fast and excitatory. This gives the solar month a mixed pacing, with lots of fast and slow, stop and go. The mood of the month is similarly bipolar. The days when Saturn, Pluto and the South Node are activated will be ponderous, deep, and heavy, while those that highlight the Venus-Jupiter pairing will be inspiring and bright.

Last month’s article, “An Arrow’s Intent,” focused on how to best understand and approach Jupiter in Sagittarius. In contrast, this month I will take the complicated configuration of Saturn, Pluto and the South Node as my focus. The truth of 2019 is the space between the epic potential of Jupiter in Sagittarius and the dark alchemy of Saturn, Pluto and the South Node.

Smelting Lead

If we are to understand the copresence of Saturn, Pluto and the South Node, we must first start by remembering that of the three, only Saturn is a planet visible to our eyes. Pluto is a distant outsider, significant, but different in orbit, composition and effect than the visible planets. Its themes are those of transformation, trauma, initiation and ordeal. It both intensifies and negates the functions of the planets it connects with.

The South Node, also called the Dragon’s Tail or Ketu, is not a body at all, but one of the Eclipse points. Body-less, It is a shadow that nonetheless has the power to affect the substantial. The Tail is the solve function in alchemy, the separation of spirit and body which precedes their purification and reunification.

Pluto and the Tail both transform, through cauldron, crucible and ordeal. And it is Saturn which is present in their alembic, bringing us to the alchemy of lead.

Lead is the alchemical metal of Saturn, and for good reason. Lead is a dismal element. It is dull and toxic. It is a poor conductor of warmth and electricity. It absorbs light and renders metals it bonds with inert.

But the same qualities also make lead useful. It is because of its heaviness and absorptive qualities that it can shield us from harmful radiation. Lead linings are used in buildings to absorb sound, offering us the blessing of silence. Its low heat conductivity means it melts easily, making it a key ingredient in soldering, without which much would not hold together.

Saturn is the lead inside of us. Like solder, it bonds us to our commitments. Our Saturn-given boundaries are our protective lead linings which shield us from harmful radiations and dampen ambient noise. It is the part of us which is not glamorous, but stable. It grounds us the lessons of history and in the realities of survival.

Lead is rarely found in its pure form, but instead combined with other elements, whose virtues it renders inert. The lead must be separated from those other metals and substances in order to liberate their power. Similarly, the Saturnian lead within us can trap other, more dynamic substances, such us Venus’ joyful copper, the Moon’s reactive silver or the Sun’s royal gold. Thus the internal lead must be separated to liberate other planetary metals, and so that it can be refined into a pure and useful form itself.

It is this process, the separation or solve of lead, that this month’s celestial events initiate. The Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on January 5th provides an x-ray image of the internal structure of the burdened, responsible, serious, guilt-ridden part of ourselves, and reveals the vibrant, joyful parts trapped within.

This process involves several things. One is an audit of responsibilities and commitments we have bonded ourselves to, the burdens we have consented to carry. Another is a separation of our fears into the realistic and fantastic. Some fears keep us alive, and these are to be cherished. Other fears, most of them, merely keep us miserable and anxious. Our relationship to authority is also due to be tossed into the alchemical cauldron, for Saturn rules these hierarchal relationships, which are difficult to get right, as they so easily become life-negating obedience or toxic rebellion.

In the physical world, it is relatively easy to separate lead from other metals and minerals. It merely requires enough heat. Yet the fumes that rise from the process are poisonous in the extreme. This is the difficulty of working with Saturn. None of the planet’s topics are easy. When we talk about fear, death, power, guilt and responsibility, the fun quickly flees. Unpleasant, yes, but necessary and liberating.

All this and more is due to be refined over the course of the 18 month eclipse cycle we enter during the Sun’s time in Capricorn. Yet the alchemy of lead is not the only process the skies would have us enact. During 2019, Jupiter in Sagittarius will be doing its best to inspire us to soar to legendary heights, to etch our dreams into creation with glyphs of fire. These processes, though opposite, are complimentary. A tree grows both up into heaven and down into the earth. Root deep and reach high.


Horoscopes are not a real chart reading by an experienced astrologer. They are fun and can be reasonably accurate, however. In addition to referring to your Sun sign, read from your Ascendant and Moon if you know them. If you don’t, find out! I’m a long time fan of the free chart generation software at
Aries: The Ram

The Sun’s time in Capricorn illuminates the 2019 challenge portended by Saturn, Pluto and Ketu in Capricorn. This year asks that you work to refine your understanding of professional duty. The obligation to avoid poverty and failure will get you up in the morning, but it is cumbersome and heavy. It will leave your back bent and crooked. Lighter and stronger than this is duty born of purpose and refined by reason. It makes the various pains born of professional life more endurable, and provides endless satisfaction in difficulties overcome. It is the result of repeatedly asking, and repeatedly answering, the question of why you do what you do.

Taurus: The Bull

The Sun’s time in Capricorn illuminates the 2019 challenge portended by Saturn, Pluto and Ketu in Capricorn. This configuration pushes you to refine your understanding of the nature of reality and the Way through it. The process is a negative one, in that it is not so much about adding knowledge as it about removing what blocks your view. Look to inherited blockages, the taught obscurities which pass from parent to child. Remove the stamp of authority from these and they will lose their power over your thoughts.

Gemini: The Twins

This month initiates a process of cleaning up and cleaning out your exchanges of time, money, and energy with other people. There is a pattern to those back-and-forths which the planets have scheduled for a series of alchemical upgrades, which will involve a refinement of what you do and don’t actually need from other people. You will likely find, by the time this 18-month cycle is over, that you are more self-sufficient than you currently realize. Though the construction of a building often requires scaffolding, there is a time when the supports must be removed, and the structure to stand on its own.

Cancer: The Crab

The lead alchemy which this month teaches pertains to your relationship patterns. The crux of what is to be transformed is the degree to which you shape your own being in submission to, or in revolt against, the needs of others. Both obedience and rebellion interfere with your capacity to grow and live in accord with your own organic, authentic pattern. Throughout this cycle, you’ll be treated to lessons on how to recognize and respect other people’s needs without being obligated to them.

Leo: The Lion

This month initiates a process of habit-transformation. Although some vices are easy to identify, such as poor diet or smoking, there are a great deal of other, more subtle, detrimental patterns. One of these is simply being stuck, being stubborn. Doing the same things, being habitually shocked when same results occur. Whatever the pattern that needs to be unwoven is, the Solar Eclipse on January 5th will light it up. Once you can see it, stop doing it. Finer patterns will come to fill that void later on, but simple cessation is enough to kickstart the alchemical process.

Virgo: The Virgin

The alchemy of lead this month concerns your creative energy, and what you invest it in. The blacklight of the Eclipse will aid you in identifying and dissolving the fears and anxieties which obstruct your flow. The planets will also push you to locate and break up stagnant patterns — the projects, people and complexes that you pour your power into without good result.

Libra: The Scales

The Capricorn configurations this month point toward the topics of home and family. The Eclipse on the 5th initiates an alchemical transformation of this material. You can create a different home than the one you came from. But in order to avoid repetition or mere rebellion, which is itself a repetition, it is necessary to break down the old into pieces, and then to wash those pieces in the waters of a clear mind. The planets will arrange much of this process for you, by bringing up relevant family shit. You have but to recognize the alchemical value of the detritus which arises and cooperate with the process.

Scorpio: The Scorpion

The non-light of the Eclipse shines onto your weekly calendar, revealing a lived pattern of experience and action. The subtle brilliance of this Eclipse seeks out the patterns of fear and avoidance hiding in your days, the little moments which hamper your movement through the world. Recognize them as they are revealed, and work to dissolve them, as that will free you to flow more harmoniously down the riverbed of days.

Sagittarius: The Centaur

The multitude of planets in Capricorn this month spotlights your relationship to money and ownership. The Solar Eclipse in Capricorn fires up an 18-month long process, which starts off by shining a penetrating light on what you spend, save and share. The patterns here, inherited, learned and otherwise acquired, are due for a series of transformations.

Capricorn: The Goat

The process initiated by the pile-up of planets in Capricorn this month is a significant, if complicated, one. It is a period of self-unmaking and remaking, an extended alchemical bath. It involves the standards you hold yourself and others to. These standards hold you back, hold you down. Yet they also hold you up. They are the substance of your backbone, and your aspirations. The crucial distinction to consider is their origin. Some of them are merely crystalized fear, childhood fossils. Others are born of an honest and dutiful aspiration to meet the highest standards. The alchemical process initiated by January’s Solar Eclipse asks you to think on these expectations, and start separating the toxic from the fortifying.

Aquarius: The Waterbearer

The process initiated this month by the plethora of planets in Capricorn, not to mention the Eclipse, occurs primarily at a subconscious level. It begins by highlighting the complexes of fear and guilt which eat away at your power. Once you identify the accuser within, you can move on to forgiving yourself for what you feel shame about and dissolving the unfair standards you feel guilt for not living up to.

Pisces: The Fish

The planets in Capricorn initiate a series of lessons on the alchemy of lead this month. The site for this is your relationship to groups of people, your public persona and reputation. The skies above are intent on you breaking down the way you approach interaction with collectives, and to that end will offer you an x-ray vision of the underlying pattern of the dynamic. Look, in particular, at the ways you think you are supposed to behave and why, and the way those fears structure your public self-presentation.

Austin Coppock is a writer, esotericist and astrologer based in Ashland, OR. He published paperback Almanacs from 2011-15 but began posting his prognostications online last year, referring to his collection of weekly, monthly, yearly essays and daily delineations as “The Online Almanac”. This work is made possible by his supporters on Patreon. Austin was President of the non-profit organization “Association for Young Astrologers” from 2012-2016. His most recent book is “36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans”, published by Three Hands Press.


  1. Adam 11 months ago

    Understanding Saturn influences through exploring the properties of its traditionally assigned metal- lead. Really useful imagery. I’m going to think this through with other planets and their metals. Nice one Austin. Season jollities to all !!

  2. Christine 11 months ago

    Saturn + Pluto + South Node = get the lead out of your a$$?

  3. Melissa 11 months ago

    Profound and beautifully written. You struck a cord: Saturn in Capricorn square Sun 17° Aries (on the verge of the second Saturn return) here. Thank you.

  4. Melissa 11 months ago

    Profound and beautifully written. You struck a chord: Saturn in Capricorn square Sun 17° Aries (on the verge of the second Saturn return) here. Thank you.

  5. Christine 11 months ago

    Saturn + Pluto + South Node = get the lead out of your a$$? (That was the old saying that came to mind when I read this piece!)

  6. Grayzer 11 months ago

    “For Saturn rules these hierarchal relationships, which are difficult to get right…”
    And easy to corrupt. All of this positioning plays out nicely against the backdrop of the current U.S. national political scene. Saturn is home, and, it seems, since going direct, wants its house in order. Jupiter too. It’s a formidable alignment, a big-picture template for all.

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