With Mars passing the torch to Venus passing the torch to Mercury over an eternal span of weeks, we can probably safely dub 2018 the Year Of The Neverending Retrograde.
What, then, should we call 2019? You might be relieved to learn that next year will be comparatively retrograde-free (we’ll still get three quick Mercury Retros because that’s a given, and we’ll still get our once-annual Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto Retros, but those are way less in-your-face). And if you’re someone who gets off on that “whoosh” feeling when the plane finally begins to take off, every planet will be direct between January 6 and March 5 (which is not really a unique feature of 2019, but still).
I will resist the urge to slap any premature labels onto 2019 before it even happens, but if I had to paint with a really broad brush (I mean, it is Sagittarius Season), there’s an emphasis on leaning into emotional intelligence and visionary impulses — our ability to tell a better story — in order to light our way through a tunnel of adversity.
Alright my dudes, here are some big themes for 2019 (and a couple small things I personally find interesting).
+ Sign ingresses (and signs that stay the same)
Just a brief check-in with where our slower-moving planets will be over the course of 2019:
A theme that jumps out here is that Uranus and Chiron are both settling into their new turf for the long-term in 2019. We already got a sneak preview of Uranus in Taurus and Chiron in Aries in 2018, but then they both retroed back into the previous signs for a few months to get some closure around those narratives. You know how you sometimes can’t fully integrate an experience until you’ve moved on to something else? That’s sort of what the planets do when they dip into a new sign and then turn back via retrograde to briefly wrap things up. They’re using the power of hindsight to write the last chapter. Next year is the new story in earnest, minus the loose ends.
+ Jupiter square Neptune
January 13, June 16, September 21
The astrology of 2019 is heavily influenced by the visionary optimism of Jupiter in Sagittarius, but the centaur looks like he’ll have some hurdles to clear before he can get to the promised land, and they’re not even the kind of hurdles you can clearly define (or easily troubleshoot). At its worst, Jupiter in Sagittarius can get too carried away with its own sermon, and Neptune in Pisces is easily lost in a vast sea of credulousness and paranoia. We’ll have to continuously check what we’re preaching and/or envisioning to see if it passes the smell test, and we’ll have to use our own discernment to decide who (or what) is worth believing in. This aspect has “false gurus and charlatans” written all over it, but so long as we can avoid getting swindled by any charismatic cult leaders, the point of this wayfinding mission is to hone the integrity of our worldview.
Once Jupiter enters Old Man Capricorn, there’ll be a bit of a “burst bubble” to bring us fully back down to earth, and Jupiter will quickly square Chiron that same week, right as Chiron is stationing direct in youthful Aries. So the transition from “navigating our gullibility” to “ouch, okay, there’s still a lot to learn” will be rather immediate. But learn, heal, and grow we will, and perhaps in pleasantly unexpected ways when Jupiter trines Uranus on December 15.
+ Saturn sextile Neptune
January 31, June 18, November 8
This will probably be a much more subtle influence than the Jupiter/Neptune squares, but it’s still pretty fortifying to see this cooperative aspect between Saturn and Neptune after living through the Saturn/Neptune squares of 2016, which stoked a whole lot of xenophobia and paranoia borne from fake news and propaganda. Saturn in Capricorn is better-equipped to give structure to the boundlessness of Neptune in Pisces, and to steer our currently highly impressionable mass consciousness in a more productive and responsible direction.
+ Watery Mercury Retrogrades
Mercury stations retrograde on:
March 5 at 29 degrees Pisces
July 7 at 4 degrees Leo
October 31 at 27 degrees Scorpio
In 2018, Mercury Retrogrades took place in fire signs. Next year, Mercury will be focusing its mischief on the water signs (even though it’s stationing retrograde in early Leo in July, the bulk of the retrograde will still take place in Cancer). This is not a special coincidence, but a product of how Mercury cycles through the cosmos.
So what can watery Mercury Retrogrades teach us that fiery ones can’t? How to write better poetry, how to speak with more compassion, how to lead with our emotional intelligence, how to not take things so personally, how to use pathos in your appeals to others, how to read between the lines, how to trust your intuition, and how to develop your imagination.
With Mercury Retrograde in fire signs this past year, the flavor of these regularly scheduled review periods involved a lot more “sorting through the mess of your impulsive words and decisions,” as well as delivering “burns” with a purpose (hey, sometimes you just have to call someone out).
What’s especially interesting about July is that Mercury and Chiron are both stationing retrograde within 24 hours of each other, and they’re forming a trine at the same time. This retrograde in particular looks like it’ll be one giant metaphysical therapy session for us and our self-esteem/confidence issues. Mercury in Cancer usually has a hint of tears in its voice anyway, so maybe we’ll be nice to ourselves and have a good cry about it.
+ Cancer/Capricorn eclipses
January 5: Solar eclipse at 15 degrees Capricorn
January 21: Lunar eclipse at 0 degrees Leo
July 2: Solar eclipse at 10 degrees Cancer
July 16: Lunar eclipse at 24 degrees Capricorn
December 26: Solar eclipse at 4 degrees Capricorn
Aside from that one rogue Leo eclipse in January, 2019 brings us fully into a new chapter of eclipses after the nodal shift that just took place earlier this month. Perhaps some of you already feel the Cancer North Node beckoning to you, but the eclipses are the events that’ll really activate this new saga of change for us.
With the North Node in Leo for the past 18 months, the guiding message was to operate from the heart (versus the ironic disaffection of Aquarius) and to own your swagger and talents. On the world stage, we also saw big changes in regard to who’s canceled and who’s esteemed (especially among celebrities and entertainers) as a new ideal of royalty was delineated.
The North Node in Cancer wants us to know that sensitivity is strength, and that the way forward will involve feeding the people around us with high-quality TLC. Questions of patriotism, nativism, parenting, and ancestry may also be grappled with as we work to arrive to a healthier relationship with lineage and origins. With Jupiter in globetrotting Sag this coming year, hopefully we can work toward a homeland (or a vision of home) that’s welcoming to guests from all over the world.
Of course, with the North Node in Cancer, that means the South Node is in Capricorn. A really reductive way of looking at this is that matriarchy is in, and patriarchy is out. Of course, this is less about one gendered ideal usurping the other than it is about changing leadership styles and changing values. The notion that “women shouldn’t have to lead like men” comes to mind here, as does the notion that anyone can choose to embody femininity on their own terms.
Saturn will also be hanging out on the South Node throughout much of the year, and it’s also stationing retrograde right on Nodey Boi on April 29, so we know this will be something to pay attention to. The South Node is kind of like the energetic toilet of the universe, and when planets pass over it, they get a chance to flush their poop away. Of course, the actual act of pooping might not be the nicest thing to look at, but most of us can agree that release is a continual process, and that it’s continually necessary. On an individual level, this could look something like “taking responsibility for your karmic stuff and resolving recurring patterns,” or maybe “saying goodbye to old rules, structures, and traditions that no longer serve you.” It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the realm of governments, corporations, and capitalism in this sense (Saturn makes its second exact conjunction with the South Node on July 4 just two days after an eclipse, so this means it’ll be in the solar return chart of the United States for the entire coming year). Hopefully this cancels the parts of the old guard that need to be canceled, but it’s unrealistic to expect a complete victory or renovation overnight, especially when we’re still very much building toward the epic Saturn/Pluto conjunction of 2020. Which brings us to:
+ The astrology of 2020 is also kind of the astrology of 2019
Maybe you’ve already heard about the Capricorn clusterfuck that’s approaching in 2020, but it’s important to acknowledge that we won’t have to wait until 2020 to begin feeling the effects of this. Actually, if you give Saturn an orb of 7 degrees, then the Saturn/Pluto conjunction will be in effect as early as this coming January, and the two planets will be about 3 to 4 degrees apart all through the spring, with some separation happening over the summer. By December of next year, they’ll be neck and neck, with the exact conjunction happening in January of 2020.
And it’s not just Saturn and Pluto. Jupiter will be in Capricorn by then too, and it’ll hit its conjunction with Pluto in April 2020 when Saturn’s already in Aquarius. But by the summer, all three planets will be back in Capricorn and within orb of each other — enough to count as being conjunct ALL AT ONCE. Jupiter and Saturn will perfect their aspect in December of 2020, right before they both move into Aquarius for good.
So what to expect? Saturn conjunct Pluto is hard. And grim. And it’s in the sign of Capricorn, which is associated with governments, capitalism, patriarchy, and hierarchy. Historically, conjunctions, squares, and oppositions between Saturn and Pluto have coincided with wars, mass violence, totalitarianism, a splintering into “us versus them,” and the doubling down of reactionary forces (think: the beginning of both World Wars and 9/11). The last time Saturn was conjunct Pluto was in the early 80s, when Cold War anxieties and Reagan-style conservatism was on the rise in the U.S. (for an exhaustive look at the historical footnotes, check out Richard Tarnas’ Cosmos and Psyche). Interestingly enough, Jupiter and Saturn were also conjunct in Libra for several months in 1981 as Saturn was approaching Pluto.
Anyway, it doesn’t take much mental extrapolation to say that all of this is already at our doorstep. Fascism and totalitarianism is sweeping the world. Some would even say there’s “something in the air.” That something is the Saturn/Pluto conjunction.
This statement is not meant to scare you so much as it’s meant to prepare you, as well as to point out that none of this is anything you weren’t already aware of. It’s also meant to remind you that this, too, is a transit in time, and that this, too, will end at some point. But with that in mind, it’s best to assume that collectively, things won’t get easier next year, or the year after that. Whether they get easier in your personal reality is between you, your chart, and the stars, but on the world stage, this is a major historical transition that’s really just beginning.
Is everything inconsolably terrible then? Not completely. Some of us do our best work under pressure, because that’s how diamonds are formed. Tarnas writes: “Saturn-Pluto alignment periods are also characterized by displays of personal and collective determination, unbending will, courage and sacrifice; by intensely focused, silent, strenuous effort in the face of danger and death; by a deepening capacity for moral discernment born from experience and suffering and by the transformation and forging of enduring structures, whether material, political, or psychological.”
This speaks to the truism that it’s often only possible to really change things in a meaningful way when those things have already hit rock bottom. The severity of this playing out in our own individual lives will vary a lot depending on how it shows up in our charts, and it’s definitely hyperbolic to suggest we’re all due for some sort of personal catastrophe. But many of us might find that the next couple years will come with some sort of pressure or reformation — a hardening of sorts that brings out our inner badass. Plus, the addition of Jupiter AND the South Node in Capricorn adds more elements to the soup, perhaps by magnifying the shitty potential of this alignment (because it’s Jupiter), but also perhaps making it more likely that we’ll actually clean up some sort of karmic debt, learn from and take responsibility for our mistakes (very Jupiter in Capricorn), and cleanse society of oppressive conditions when this is all over. Maybe not all of them, but some of them.
It’s no accident that the U.S. is also beginning its Pluto Return. This is the first time we’ve ever REALLY had to confront our shadow as a nation. On some level or another, one paradigm or version of our society is ready to die. But when you’re lancing a festering boil, there’s an ugly healing process that has to happen first. Who we choose to become right now — and what role we choose to play in its healing — is the ultimate deciding factor in what happens next.
Art: @useless_treasures (IG)