“The year is a wheel with eight spokes. Each circuit is comparable to the cycle of a human life. The Winter Solstice is the time before we were born, the great dark uterine void from which all is formed. The vast black ring around all possibility, its perimeter bulging with promise. Light is conceived in the cold dark at the time of the Winter Solstice. The smallest spark, the most tentative hint of a glow, is imagined in the dense ambience of its absence. The sun is a mere gleam in the eye of eternity. Light, no matter how tiny, equals life.”
— Donna Henes, Celestially Auspicious Occasions
This chart is an analysis of 2016 based on the state of the Cardinal axis at the time of the winter solstice, a chart generated from the coordinates as they were at the exact at the moment of this seasonal transition (0 degrees Capricorn, December 22, 2015 4:48 am UTC). The winter solstice is significant as it marks the culmination of the annual solar cycle. In the northern hemisphere, it is when the sun reaches its waning nadir and when the sun reaches its maximum southerly declination in the southern hemisphere. In Chinese astrology, this is when yin converts to an increasing yang.
Looking at this chart, the most arresting attribute is the overwhelming number of aspect patterns that are formed. Aspect patterns or formations occur when three or more planets are connected by a shared aspect, forming a range of configurations with varying tones and implications. In this chart there is a grand trine forming two kites, a mystic rectangle and a t-square, all formed synergistically so that each aspect contributes to the unified sum of its parts. In a contingency such as this, certain planets or houses are often emphasized, behaving as the propulsive element to the conditions of the chart. In this case, the emphasized planet appears to be Mercury in the 3rd house. Regardless of this rare transpiration of aspect formations, Mercury already has a greater cadence in this chart, as it is also out-of-bounds, a condition caused by the coordinates of its declination.
Mercury out-of-bounds in Capricorn
The significance of the out-of-bounds planet shares some of the same qualities of the un-aspected one, in that the energies represented by the planet in question aren’t bound by the standard limitations for access to planetary energies. Out-of-bounds mercury signifies an unbridled use of energy to confer ideas and opinions, often unsolicited or regurgitative. In Capricorn, this combination has an authoritative quality and can take the form of unchecked verbal aggression (see Donald trump and the alt-right). To add insult to injury, Pluto, the planet of power and regeneration is conjunct mercury, encysting an even greater proclivity for tyranny in the realm of communicated ideas.
This T-square is formed with Mars in Libra in the 11th (the planet of aggression and primal energy in the house of social structures, community and society) in opposition to Uranus in Aries in the 5th (the planet of social uprising, flux and technology in the house of creative enterprise and recreation). Mars opposition Uranus is a turbulent combination, mars being a volatile planet and Uranus, a slow moving, outer planet, increasing the weight of this aspect. Uranus (air) feeds the fire of mars and in turn, mars activates Uranus’s capacity for upheaval while imbuing the societal aspect of Uranus with conflict; driving a fierce antipathy towards traditions and ascendant forces and instigating reactionary and revolutionary action. This opposition is accessed through Mercury at the apex of the T-square, which is in Capricorn in the 3rd house (the planet of intellectual activity in the house of communication and our capacity to relate to our immediate environment). This T-square is formed by Cardinal planets, meaning it is triggered by a crisis of identity and encourages contingent action. With Capricorn the apex of this pattern, the bearing of this crisis is hinged upon identification with success and social achievements; the combative, revolutionary quality of the mars-Uranus opposition is manifested and provoked by the ambitious pretentions of power driven individuals. T-square’s pose a challenging culmination of forces, but ultimately incite the necessary action to achieve its resolution. The fourth leg of the T-square (opposition mars) is in cancer, so the stabilizing force in this aspect is to strive for the immediate goals of emotional security and the people and places that provide a nurturing spiritual center, the feeling of being at home.
Earth Grand Trine
This grand trine is made up of three planets: Jupiter in Virgo in the 10th house, moon in Taurus in the 6th house and mercury in Capricorn in the third. This is a double earth trine, as the majority of the incorporated planets fall in houses that are also ruled by the element of earth (with the exception of Mercury in the third house, ruled by Gemini). Earth grand trines seek to preserve the security achieved through the existing status quo as it strives to maintain the structures that advocate for the harmony of its corresponding elements. For this reason Trines often indicate a tendency for stasis, despite being formed entirely by harmonic aspects, as it is this condition of symmetry and equilibrium that lends itself to complacency and inaction. It is fortunate then in this case, that the grand trine is punctuated twice by two kite aspect patterns, formed by an opposition that bisects the trine. Jupiter, planet of abundance and expansion is opposition Chiron, the “wounded healer” in Pisces in the fourth house. Jupiter in the 10th house is conducive for individual enterprise, but it is also accommodating for the potential danger of bringing personal belief systems into the realm of business and politics. Jupiter in Virgo is also indicative of a tyrannical or fanatical predisposition, reminiscent of a biblical propensity for black and white/ good versus evil approach to social politics. In its 50-year orbit Chiron is back in Pisces for the first time since the 60s, and it is a tricky placement for the dwarf planet of trauma and healing, most notably associated with the potential for suffering on a global scale. Zealousness, martyrdom, messianic fixations and resentfulness towards the ‘will of God’ are likely symptoms of this influence. The earth grand trine reminds us of the limits of our physical reality, so it is significant that this trine is being punctuated by Chiron in Pisces, the implications of which might be best described with words like ‘divine submission’ or ‘cosmic angst.’ Here again is the nurturing energy of Cancer delivering us from tyranny. Although Chiron in the fourth house is often the most difficult placement for Chiron natally, an indication that the family and the home are the areas emphasized as the source of individual trauma (and it is likely that there will be plenty of destabilization in this area this year as well), it also is a suggestion for where we might find the emotional equipment to actuate the healing energy of Chiron. This chart emphasizes the importance of creating familial strongholds, zones allocated for community organizing—inclusive, mobilizing, inviolable.
Un-aspected Sun in the Second House
This is a rare occurrence and a significant one, as aspects are the decisive elements that indicate the qualities with which the planets behave in the chart and in relation to each other. They describe with specificity the constitution of the personality, based on the interactive quality of natal symbols. When a planet is un-aspected, there is no interaction between its own representation and other elements of the chart. The planet is singular and becomes agitated in its state of alienation, without other access points to allow the dissemination of its potency. The un-aspected planet wields an unconstrained freedom of power in the chart, which often lends itself to all the injurious aspects of power in this magnitude. The second house, being the house that represents all things we assign value to—the things we own, the assets and capitol we accrue—also embodies the value we assign to ourselves. This influence might inspire some extreme cases of self-aggrandizement and other ego related dysfunctions as well as a preoccupation with superficial signifiers for status and quality of character (King Louis the XIV had an un-aspected sun in his natal chart). Sun in the second house can also indicate a tendency for over self-identification and possessiveness, arrogance or pride. In an event chart this can lead to an increase in the accumulation of assets or power for individuals, and could by all means create an even greater disparity in the global distribution of wealth.
A note about the winter solstice as the signifying chart of the New Year:
The winter solstice is referred to as a cardinal ingress, of which there are four over the course of the year (0° Cap/ winter solstice, 0° Aries/ spring equinox, 0° Cancer/ summer solstice, 0° Libra/ fall equinox). These points have been used to predict the global conditions for the solar year since the beginning of the previous millennia. However, determining which of the aforesaid axes should signify the true onset of the New Year has been a subject of debate throughout the centuries. Ptolemy privileged the Aries ingress as it is the point at which the length of the day begins to exceed the length of the night, as well as it being the incipient sign in the zodiac. Alternatively, Pagan tradition celebrates Samhain, (Halloween) corresponding with the fall equinox, as the culmination of the year. The general consensus among astrologers both in the east and west seems favor the Capricorn ingress, as with the New Moon, Capricorn represents the end of the waning half of the cycle and the beginning of the new waxing half.