Beware of Darkness


January 1, 2018 at 6:24pm PST /02:24am UT (2nd)

The Moon and Sun opposed at 11°37' Cancer/Capricorn

picWe begin a New Year on a big beautiful Full "Wolf" Moon beaming from the cardinal, water sign of Cancer: the Moon's own sign, where Luna is STRONG. A "Super Moon" or perigee Moon, and one that falls right on the yearly "perihelion" point, at the time of the Full Moon, the Earth will be at its closest point to the Sun (perihelion), and the Moon at its closest point to Earth (perigee).

So this Full Moon will bring those particularly powerful "King" tides, which I wrote about in the previous December Solstice article. If you live close enough to a coast, a special way to ring in this New Year, and witness the power of Mother Nature, is to catch, and work a little magic, on this impressive, astronomical King tide.

As this Cancer Full Moon chart is essentially the chart for the calendar year, falling as it does on (or close to depending on your timezone) New Year's Day, the chart's themes will unfold, not just for a day or two, but over the course of the year. No fleeting Full Moon chart is this, and so particularly worth examining. So let's take a look at the most important dynamics.

Full Moon Kite

Powerful, this Full Moon is, in more ways than one. At this culmination point in the lunar cycle, two other key planetary cycles reach their own important turning points: Venus (nearing her own full phase) and Pluto. And both are powerfully aligned with the Full Moon in a near conjunction with the Sun. Moreover, the Sun, Moon, Venus and Pluto are part of a somewhat rare aspect configuration, a kite (the simplified chart below provides a visual aid), that also links Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune — quite an impressive group of Olympians! Together, they carry both luminous, intensely creative potential, as well as the capacity for deep darkness: abuse of power, manipulation and deception.

picWhen the Sun and Pluto conjoin in particular, especially in earthy, Saturn-ruled, "get real" Capricorn bolstered by Venus and a powerful Full Moon, unresolved issues can get churned up, struggles we would prefer to forget, or have forgotten, aspects of ourselves we deny, qualities we only see in others and tend to find repulsive and unacceptable. When the giver of life, our central star, joins forces with the Lord of the Underworld, God of the Realm of the Dead, deep, ancient wounds from the far murky past can re-emerge. Problems we thought we had resolved long ago can spring back up, difficulties that tend to "snag us" can return. Ancient struggles wind their way back through the long, dark labyrinth of our memory banks by this intense, "reverse gravity motion" of Sun-Pluto and break the surface of our lives. And although not linked directly to the Full Moon, disruptive and destabilizing Uranus is also active right now, simultaneously stationary direct, therefore particularly potent. Functioning primarily as a catalyst for change, Uranus liberates by pulling the carpet out from underneath our carefully planned lives, its station coinciding with the Full Moon greatly adds to the simmering undercurrents right now.

The Kite is an aspect pattern with both easy (three linked trines or a "grand trine") and challenging connections (opposition). Harmonious flow of energy circulates in the grand trine, which can tend towards fruitless dissipation by itself, but in the kite, has been grounded and focused, given purpose, by a dynamic opposition, in this case a particularly POWERFUL and COMPLEX one involving not just the Full Moon but Venus and Pluto as well. The grand trine falls in the sensitive, intuitive water element, and includes the two most "watery" of all planets, Moon and Neptune, both very strong in the water signs they rule, along with Mars, in the water sign it rules, Scorpio, bolstered by a conjunction with that horizonless inflator: Jupiter.

THE POINT OF THE KITE — the Sun-Venus-Pluto triple conjunction — falls in achievement-oriented, conservative, practical, earthy Capricorn. These three planets together in Capricorn mark the direction we are headed, the goal, the purpose. And the major theme here is this "pointed" emphasis on Venus and Pluto, super-potentized by the Sun and Moon.

The Key: Venus-Pluto

Ancient struggles wind their way back through the long, dark labyrinth of our memory banksThe astrological Venus represents our feminine side, whether we are male or female: how well we express this softer, receptive aspect of ourselves. Venus indicates how we tend to handle the give and take of love and affection; not just in romantic "one-on-ones," but in all other relationships too., and also signifies how we handle resources. Venus is the receptive, magnetic part of us that attracts love and all other kinds of goodies. Our aesthetic taste, what we find beautiful and pleasing, what we especially value and cherish and the sensual enjoyment of life are all Venus attributes. Robert Hand describes Venus as such:

In its highest manifestation Venus is love, the emotion that brings people together without force or compulsion. Venus is also the power of creativity, which stems from the recognition that components in the outer world may be combined to create a beautiful whole. When working properly, Venus always creates something spiritually higher than the original entity. But it always has to work with the power of Mars, the ego drive, the drive of an entity to be itself. Only a fully realized entity can experience the power of Venus. Only a human being who has become as perfect a manifestation as possible of what he or she is can experience love. The balance between Mars and Venus is rather delicate and easily upset. Egotism and the desire to control may become confused with love, and love may be used to manipulate."

Similar to Venus in Scorpio, Venus-Pluto, can impart a deep need for intense emotional closeness. This combination of Love Goddess and Lord of the Underworld can stimulate a deep, life-affirming desire to feed our sensual, passionate depths — let the pacing tiger out of its cage and quit denying its existence. Venus-Pluto seeks deep, intense unions at the soul level: all or nothing at all. Shallow and superficial people need not apply. Pluto is the antithesis of phony pretense, he can see right through it, for he is the God of the Underworld with x-ray eyes, moving about in that cloak of invisibility catching all unaware. All that you are hiding, hiding even from yourself is revealed: the dark underbelly, everything buried in those deep recesses of the subconscious. Pluto represents these shadowy aspects, the instinctual, sometimes reptilian, side of human nature: dirty secrets, killer instincts, jealousy, betrayal, cruelty.

The higher purpose of Venus-Pluto is to integrate these disowned aspects in order to heal and release old wounds of the heart, for there is no small amount of vital creative energy and healing potential locked up in those vast banks of the unconscious. But to get there, first we must somehow move past those demons that guard the gate. With Pluto leading us we become miners searching for the wealth buried in our own depths. It is not a journey for the weak of heart. Venus-Pluto is intensity incarnate seeking ever more intensity in its relationships.

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly, beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go

— George Harrison

There is, however, a darker side to Venus-Pluto and that can manifest in manipulative behavior, control and power abuses and extreme possessiveness: in love relationships, in particular met in our closest, more intimate relationships, but also in our most dreaded antagonists (both hidden and obvious ones). The late astrologer, Alice O. Howell, sums up the function of the Pluto archetype in her insightful astrology text, Jungian Archetypes in Astrology.

It is possible that Pluto rules the "personal unconscious" of the collective, and that we have to deal with and integrate the cumulative crimes of hate, fear, anger, greed, and the abuse of power, of nature and of sexuality perpetrated throughout history. These are our collective complexes and, like an international debt, each of us carries a share. Pluto's process is severe. It teaches that there is a difference between nature's laws and the ego's moral laws. Cosmic law is absolute, and nature stronger than we are. But we forget. As Jung has pointed out, our greatest enemy is ourselves. The retribution is implacable. We must learn or suffer the consequences."

Archetypally, Venus-Pluto can be seen very clearly in the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's 19th century novel, Wuthering Heights. A Venus-Pluto cautionary tale, its main motif is the destructive effect that possessiveness, jealousy and vengefulness can have on love. Heathcliff also represents the sometimes deeply wounded aspect of Venus-Pluto and the tragic consequences that can result if one is not able to heal the heart.

In Othello, Shakespeare evokes this Venus/Pluto "heart of darkness" archetype operating at its most sinister through the play's complex villain Iago. An unforgettably wicked man, Iago seeks revenge after the "inferior" Cassio, is given the position Iago covets. And the play reveals how this desire for power and revenge can sweep away all of one's humanity and lead to horrible violence. Iago, an obviously extreme case in this Plutonic "corrupt power" spectrum, lies, steals and even kills to seek revenge. If he were alive today, we would certainly label him a psychopath.

pic Stephen Arroyo describes the Iago-like obsessive nature of this planetary pairing in Astrology, Karma & Transformation noting that with Venus/Pluto comes an insatiable greed for emotional nourishment, as if the person is trying to fill up an inner reserve that is so empty it can never become completely full. And much of the difficulty with Venus/Pluto, Arroyo writes, is that often we do not know how to do the give-and-take of love, and so we grasp at what we desire, trying to fill ourselves up by "taking more and more, consuming more and more, rather than by learning how to let go and give of oneself."

Astrologer Judy Hall writes of the combination of Venus and Pluto from a similar point of view. In her book, Patterns of the Past, she observes that there is often this "expectation of trauma" in relationships along with a deep need for intense emotional closeness. She refers to Venus/Pluto as an emotional black hole "which sucks in all the love and affection it can get and yet demands more." She notes that with Venus/Pluto, old patterns of relating have been "predatory, symbiotic and demanding." Like Arroyo, she feels that the challenge with Venus/Pluto is to learn how to change the way in which we relate and begin to fill ourselves up from "the source of divine love that emanates through the cosmos." Hall writes that this is the source that can provide the endless nourishment the soul craves, and which "no mere human can provide in such abundance." When we learn to fill ourselves up with this inexhaustible, divine source of love, it transforms our experience of love itself, no longer a finite rare commodity to be hoarded, but an inexhaustible supply available always.

Hall adds that it is "only through the pathway of loving more and loving unconditionally without strings, giving love without expectation or demand of it being returned, that the soul who is attuned to Pluto-Venus can grow beyond its 'black hole' and learn the true power of love."

WHAT A PROFOUNDLY CHALLENGING, but potentially enriching and truly creative direction this Full Moon/New Year kite is leading us. May we rise to the challenges that will surely unfold over the course of this year with courage, honesty and integrity.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

— Martin Luther King, Jr.


Beware of Darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips, beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness
It can hit you, it can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly, beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While weeping Atlas cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness

— George Harrison, All Things Must Pass

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The charming artwork at the beginning of this essay is a scan of a vintage New Year's card.

The Ace of Cups is a scan from the original Rider-Waite Tarot drawn by illustrator Pamela Colman Smith from the instructions of academic and mystic A. E. Waite, and published by the Rider Company.

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