If you’ve experienced a sluggish start to 2023, you’re not alone. We entered the New Year with both Mercury and Mars in retrograde, which threw a big wet blanket over our forward momentum. Mars represents our initiative, drive, and energy; when in retrograde it makes forward progress more difficult. With Mercury (the planet of communication) in retrograde at the same time, it was likely a frustrating time for many, requiring us to let go of our action plans for a more internal and serious time of reflection, consolidation, and review.
At the start of the month, in addition to Mercury being in retrograde, it was also in a triple conjunction with Pluto and Venus in late Capricorn. Pluto brings an intense drive to get to the bottom of things, to confront whatever is out of alignment with reality, even (or especially) when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient. With Pluto conjunct Venus, this confrontation with reality may have occurred in the context of our relationships. We may have felt compelled to look honestly at what is not working in a close relationship and hopefully talk about it (Pluto conjunct Mercury) with the other person. The positive potential of this transit is that, once the difficult conversations have occurred, there can be a sense of re-alignment in the relationship at a new level of honesty and openness. This all took place, of course, in the context of Capricorn season (December 21-January 19) which, being ruled by Saturn, already brought a more solitary, inward, serious, goal-oriented focus to this time of year. It’s the time of year that we tend to become filled with determination to clean up our acts — to begin that new exercise program or diet, set up a more disciplined routine, eliminate bad habits, or just generally aim to strive harder to make progress on our important life goals.
Capricorn also represents the current rules and norms of society which, for better or worse, tend to determine success in the eyes of the world. With Mercury in retrograde in Capricorn, we may have been reflecting on the extent to which we measure up to those standards and (with Pluto also in Capricorn) getting (ruthlessly) honest with ourselves about where we may fall short and what we are going to do about it. Alternatively, we may have been questioning our own relationship to those societal standards and how much we want to measure our value in those terms or not. Either way, with all the retrograde action stalling progress, Plutonic intensity driving us to look at our shadows, and general Capricorn seriousness, it’s been a heavy start to the year, one with every potential to have activated our inner critics. On the plus side, we may have unearthed a new level of determination within ourselves to stay in integrity with our deeper purpose in a way that could make all the difference to our ability to achieve what we truly want in 2023.
Thankfully, Mars started moving forward again on January 12, as did Mercury on January 18. With these two personal planets moving forward, we may have felt that the wheels started slowly to turn again. Yet some of the wheels may have seemed still stuck in the mud. On the same day that Mercury turned direct (January 18), the Sun was conjunct Pluto, re-activating the themes from earlier in the month of looking into the dark and sitting with uncomfortable feelings and truths. With this past Saturday’s new moon in Aquarius, however, we have finally experienced a noticeable shift. This new moon is significant because it offers a glimpse of the colorful new Aquarian energies that will arrive in force when Pluto moves into Aquarius in March. The seeds that we plant at this full moon are powerful because they may be ‘fertilized’ by Pluto when it enters Aquarius (which it does not only in March this year, but also twice in 2024). It would thus be well worth our time to place a special focus on our intentions at this new moon as they may bear abundant fruit in due course.
Venus is conjunct Saturn in Aquarius at the time of the new moon, which can admittedly bring a sense of emotional coolness and constraint. Yet it also offers an opportunity to create something that will have enduring value. By the end of the month, the Sun will be in a harmonious trine with Mars, Mercury in a trine with Uranus, and Venus will have entered Pisces, where she is exalted. Thus the heaviness we have had to endure at the start of this month will give way to considerably lighter and more dynamic energies as the month progresses. Everything changes in March, when Pluto enters Aquarius and Saturn moves into Pisces. When two heavyweight outer planets change sign in the same month, you can guarantee a tremendous shift in the zeitgeist. We will not miss it. January can be seen as a transition month that involves wrapping up and integrating many of the lessons of 2022. The new moon in Aquarius is the turning point. We are finally starting to open toward the creative energies of the dawning age, rather than being subsumed with the death of the old.