January 2017: Opening Gambit

January 2017: Opening Gambit

The year begins with a set of chess pieces, lined up and awaiting orders. January is full of strategic considerations, for it is here that we decide upon our opening gambit. Beginnings are unique – they offer a freedom that no other phase does. Once we make our moves and the world responds, we will inevitably be caught up in the limited tactical trance of the middlegame, our horizons and options narrowed. It is thus important to take full advantage of the relative freedom to think and formulate what beginnings provide.

Although January as the first calendar month is always concerned with beginnings, it is particularly so this year, as the month’s primary configurations hinge upon the tension between planets in cardinal signs, signs responsible for initiating action and beginning stories.

This cardinal action results from a trio of aspects between Jupiter in Libra, Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. These three planets form a loose t-square for the entirety of the month. Their dynamic is energized by the Sun and Mercury’s passage through Capricorn and brought to a peak by the Full Moon in Cancer, which turns the t-square into a proper grand cross.

In the tropical zodiac, cardinal signs occur at the beginning of seasons, and thus oversee their first act. They are introductions, opening gambits, early plot developments. Each of the cardinal signs signifies a different approach to beginnings, and each initiates a different type of story.

Capricorn, where Pluto resides, begins carefully, with planning. It is the way an architect begins, first by drawing up detailed plans and then assembling materials. It speaks to stories which remake the world. As a game strategy, it is to control the territory of the board.

Aries, where Uranus dwells, begins with action. Inspiration and passion turn potential into kinetic energy. Aries begins stories which remake the self. As a strategy within a game, it is offensive, and prioritizes the rapid elimination of obstacles and opponents.

Libra, on the other hand, begins by looking to the Other. Understanding a situation from multiple perspectives is crucial for initiating stories which remake relationships. In a game, the Libran strategy is to wait and bait the opponent into action, and to capitalize on the opportunities thereby created.

The fourth and final cardinal sign, Cancer, where we will see the Full Moon this month, begins with fortification and has a mind to protect what one already possesses. Its stories deepen roots and nurture strength. As a strategy, it prioritizes protection and puts into motion a turtling offense.

Squares and oppositions between cardinal signs, such as we have this month, describe difficulty in knowing how to begin. There is a tug this January between different strategies and different priorities. Though the gambit you open with may end up being a simple one, the process by which you arrive at it may not be. Give yourself the time to consider the complexity of the board before you make your first move.

Venus Dives, Hermes Retreats

Venus enters Pisces early Tuesday morning, January 3rd. Venus is powerful in Pisces, the sign of her exaltation. Pleasure and relief are easier to find and conflicts are more easily dissolved or ignored. Venus in Pisces is also particularly favorable for poetry and music. Venus will be in the Fishes’ sign for the remainder of January, with plans to occupy Pisces until February 3rd.

Shortly after Venus’ ingress, the bright planet completes a sextile with retrograde Mercury in Capricorn, pulling thoughts and communications towards matters of relationship, pleasure and art. This is a good configuration for figuring how to translate complex feelings into appropriate words.

Immediately after Venus and Mercury complete their sextile, Mercury backs out of Capricorn, returning to Sagittarius on the 4th in preparation for his direct station on the 8th. In Sagittarius, Mercury encourages more positive mental states, highlighting what can be achieved instead of dwelling on what can’t.

Echoes From The Deeps

Venus’ time in Pisces is complicated by a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon, also called Ketu, or the Dragon’s Tail. The South Node’s nature is to purge those planets which it coincides with. This purgation of the past is at odds with some of Venus’ more social significations, as processing psychic toxins tends to be a more solitary affair. Venus conjoins the South Node on the 7th, though the effects may be felt during the surrounding days.

This looking deep and looking back is further attested to by the Sun’s conjunction with Pluto, which occurs on the 6th, at 17 Capricorn. There thus a cavernous depth which haunts the nearby days, a chamber in which echoes from both the past and the future can be heard.

It is in this sanctum, carved by the Sun’s conjunction to Pluto and decorated by Venus’ conjunction with the Dragon’s Tail, that Mercury stations direct. Mercury’s retrograde, which began on December 19th, comes to an end early on January 8th, at 28 Sagittarius. The messenger emerges from the underworld holding a flaming arrow, and uses it to point the way forward, into a year of firewalks, decathlons and adventures.

Fully Loaded Full Moon

The Sun in Capricorn moves from a conjunction with Pluto to t-squaring one of 2017’s most dynamic, exciting and destabilizing configurations – the Jupiter-Uranus opposition. The Sun in Capricorn makes this t-square with the Jupiter-Uranus opposition between the 10th and 11th, running perpendicular to the tug-of-war between the two distant planets. The Full Moon joins the discussion on the 11th and 12th, turning the t-square into a proper grand cross configuration.

Because they bind contrary energies, grand crosses tend to complicate the days surrounding them, making a temporary tangle of matters. With all 4 cardinal signs – Aries, Libra, Cancer and Capricorn – occupied, there is a tremendous amount of contrary initiatory energy. Individuals may find themselves pulled in opposing directions, having a hard time knowing which big project to start, trying to do too much at once, or paralyzed by an overabundance of conflicting possibilities.

Though other planets complicate the situation, it is still the Full Moon in Cancer, which occurs near the beginning of every calendar year, which asks us to decide what seeds we will incubate, nurture and protect over the coming year. Though this decision may be more complicated in 2017, the question remains the same. If it takes some extra time to decide which outcomes to incubate, then so be it.

Though the days leading up to and following the Full Moon may host a complex swirl of contradictory energies, it should be noted that the heavens provide a slight counterweight. While the Sun, Moon, Pluto, Jupiter and Uranus engage in complex negotiations, Venus makes a soothing conjunction with Neptune in Pisces, which helps mitigate some of the ambient tension.

Though the Full Moon and the accompanying planetary tangles fade away over the ensuing days, the cross which marked the lunation is imprinted on the following fortnight, suggesting that it may take a few weeks to fully unwrap this Full Moon’s complicated gift.

Intermezzo and Irritation

The days following the Full Moon do not significantly alter the month’s dynamic. Yet as we approach the second half of the month, Mars in Pisces closes in on a potentially frustrating square with Saturn in Sagittarius. The Mars-Saturn square asks for both industry and patience in the face of delays and irritations. Though it is not exact until the 19th, its dynamics will likely be clear from the 16th onward.

The Sun Enters Aquarius: The Possible and the Probable

The Sun’s entrance into Aquarius on the 19th begins the second section of the month. While the Sun in Capricorn illuminated the harsh slopes of the-way-things-are, the Sun in Aquarius’ light pierces the veil of the present, revealing a mathematical tangle of probability and possibility. Though the Sun in Aquarius does not change the game, it offers a novel angle January’s dynamics. This contemplative orientation will persist until February 18th, when the Sun enters Pisces.

New Moon in Aquarius: Looking Forward, Standing Back

A little more than a week after the Sun’s entrance in Aquarius, on January 27th, comes the New Moon, which occurs at 8 Aquarius. Unlike the Full Moon which preceded it, this is one of the least dramatic lunations of the quarter, and it seeds a relatively contemplative fortnight, during which we might stand back from the nascent plot arcs and observe their direction and velocity.

Mars Enters Aries: Mixing a Molotov

Mars sneaks into Aries just hours after the New Moon. Though it will take the red planet until the second half of February to heat things up, it most certainly will. Mars is potent in Aries, and generous with the petrol. During the 5 weeks that Mars is in Aries, temperatures will be raised, frictions intensified, work accomplished and heroics inspired. Mars enters Aries on the 27th, but it will be the Moon’s conjunction with the red planet on the 31st which will serve as its formal introduction.

Final Adjustments

The last days of the month see Mercury work its way through the t-square between Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto which featured so dramatically in mid-January’s Full Moon. Mercury’s engagement with this configuration asks us to take another look at the dynamics of our year’s complicated beginning. Consider the moves you’ve made so far, make the necessary adjustments, and set course for February, whose eclipse-bearing skies are stocked with significant omens.

HOROSCOPES

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 astro.com.
Aries: The Ram

This month asks you to consider a trio of factors before you decide on your opening gambit. Ponder the benefits that come through alliances and relationships, the freedom to pursue your own agenda and the demands your work places on you. You may feel tugged in one direction or another, but resist the urge to run in one direction or another. Be patient. January is a time for consideration and preparation, to survey the board. It won’t be long, though. With Mars’ entry into your fiery sign at the end of the month, the time for action will come soon enough.

Taurus: The Bull

January asks you to consider the balance of time and energy you spend on maintaining your mental and physical health, as well as the more abstract work demanded by the larger questions of purpose and direction hanging over you. Finding a balance between these different activities is chief among January’s tasks. The key to optimal harmony may well be your every day schedule, the pattern of activities which comprise your calendar. Strength of body, tranquility of mind and firmness of purpose are treasures forged one moment at a time, one day at a time.

Gemini: The Twins

This January asks how will you maintain and mobilize your resources this year. Jupiter points to abundant creative energy. Uranus, however, suggests social resources – friends and connections – in a state of flux, and prone to change. Finally, Pluto points to time, money and energy both borrowed and lent – the complicated requirements of debt and partnership.

This trio of influences both stresses and emphasizes what you do with your own resources, particularly the monetary kind. As the Full Moon on Cancer will make clear, the question of what and who you bet on is primary.

Cancer: The Crab

Professional aims in flux, relationships in a slow, ongoing state of transformation and opportunities to improve your living situation and familial relations – they are the three yearly factors which January points you toward. Yet there is another area worth considering – you. Make sure to nurture and protect yourself, for without the proper strength of body, mind and heart, you’ll be unable to wrestle these factors into an ideal arrangement.

Leo: The Lion

January points to the tangle of planets in cardinal signs upon which many of the year’s dynamics hang. Uranus in Aries highlights your need to go your own path, according to your map, regardless what others might say. Jupiter in Libra, on the other hand, highlights the benefits to be gained from getting along with everyone in the day to day. Finally, Pluto in Capricorn points toward your fiscal and physical health. As you consider how to balance these divergent priorities, do not fail to consider your own mental and spiritual health. What you need most may be an abundance sanity, as only a clear mind can bring harmony to a complicated array of issues.

Virgo: The Virgin

The first month of the year emphasizes one of its principle tensions – the opposition of Jupiter and Uranus. For you, this is likely to involve a potentially beneficial tangle between your own and other’s resources. What is yours, what is theirs, what is shared and who owes who what? These matters may be further complicated by questions about what and who you’re dedicating your creative energy to. It is thus a matter of resources – your creative energy, your physical and monetary, and what others offer and demand. If you need help reconciling these competing tensions, do not hesitate to tap your social resources – sometimes the sage counsel of a friend or ally is exactly what is needed to untangle matters.

Libra: The Scales

January introduces several of the year’s big issues. These light up cornerstone areas of life – self, partnerships, living situation, and family. Jupiter suggests that you’re in the middle of a personal growth spurt, while Uranus points to the other people in your life who are in position to disrupt, supercharge or sabotage your expansive phase. Pluto, on the other hand, points toward the entrance to a deep tunnel, inside of which you’ll see the root network of your family exposed. While considering self, other and origin, do not neglect the matter of your work in the world, for it is the fourth and final piece of January’s holy cross.

Scorpio: The Scorpion

January presents some of the year’s more enduring dynamics. 2017 stresses problem solving for you – the elimination of negatives. Uranus in Aries points to your habits, both fiscal and physical, and says that incremental changes are no longer cutting it – it’s time for revolution. Meanwhile, Jupiter in Libra asks you to work on your mental health, to dig into the hidden roots of problematic patterns and dissolve the frictions which generate them. Finally, Pluto in Capricorn points toward the structure of your calendar. By taking control of your schedule, you take control of your habits. Yet there is one more piece, which the Full Moon in Cancer sheds a brief light on – the matter of purpose and direction. Without a guiding light, you will lack the resolve to make the improvements above. Purpose unites and leads to action. “How” is important, but in the end, you must always answer to “Why.”

Sagittarius: The Centaur

January asks you to consider what you’re doing with the various resources at your disposal. Uranus in Aries points toward a restless cauldron of creative energy, Jupiter to an expanding social network, and Pluto to the status of your treasure hoard. As you formulate what resources to draw upon and which to cultivate, you may find yourself in need of a little assistance. Do not be afraid to ask – others may be more willing to lend you support than you imagine.

Capricorn: The Goat

The year opens with a trio of long term factors in play. Pluto testifies as to the long, slow period of transformation and ordeal you’re still in the midst of. Uranus, on the other hand, speaks of a certain geographic instability, a restlessness about home and a desire for independence from your roots. Finally, Jupiterdescribes professional opportunities. As you consider how you might juggle all of these, make sure not to forget relationships, as you will find something missing if you manage to handle all of these matters perfectly, but end up neglecting those closest to you.

Aquarius: The Waterbearer

Problems and their solutions swarm about your January. If you can eliminate or at least minimize certain negatives, the positives will gleam like burnished gold. Uranus in Aries suggests that the more chaos you can eliminate from your schedule, the more productive you will be. Even if it’s not something you can eliminate, figuring out how to minimize it or turn it to your advantage would work small wonders. Pluto in Capricorn, on the other hand, speaks to shadowy, half conscious complexes which loom and gloom over your life. These issues are not quickly worked through, but they and their trances can be recognized and accounted for. The last issue is that of your purpose and training for it. This should be the easiest of the matters to improve, as Jupiter is ready to assist you. The key to all of this, though, may well be that illuminated by the Full Moon in Cancer. Her rays will fall on the simple things. Daily labors, a healthy body and paid bills. Start with these most fundamental and concrete of issues.

Pisces: The Fish

January points toward your resources, and asks you to consider how you plan to both mobilize and replenish them over the coming year. Uranus in Aries speaks of a mutating financial position, prone to surprises fair and foul. Jupiter in Libra, on the other hand, points toward what you can borrow from or lend to others, highlighting the potential within partnerships and the benefits of teamwork. Finally, the Sun, Mercury and Pluto in Capricorn all ask you to consider not only what you know, but also who. Your position within various social networks may offer you leverage, yet require that certain tolls be paid. The Full Moon offers the final piece of this puzzle, its silver light illuminating your reservoir of creative energy. While you try to manage the tugs from these divergent directions, remember to do what is necessary to replenish your essential psychic potency.

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.

3 Comments

  1. Pedro 3 years ago

    Thank you Austin, this was a great read. It’s my first time reading your writings.

    Besides reading the horoscope for your sun, moon and rising, do you think that reading the signs you have a lot of attention in your chart could give something accurate/relatable as well? Like me, I’m a rising Sag with Jupiter and Mercury in Gemini. I felt the Gemini horoscope made a lot of sense as well as the Sag one.

    • Author
      Austin Coppock 3 years ago

      Hi Pedro! Definitely. I think its worth reading from the perspective of wherever there’s a cluster of important parts.

  2. Spike Neuberger 3 years ago

    Keep breathing! Think twice before reacting or responding! Smile! Be kind! Help when asked! Disengage!
    Observe! Surrender! Relax! Absorb these delicious energies that are pouring in! Talk out loud to the masters and
    guides and angels in a natural tone! They can’t help if you don’t ask! I’m doing it, and it works!!!!!
    Bless Austin!
    Yours ascending, Spike. (spike neuberger on YouTube)

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