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Imbolc Forecast: the second half of Winter -- plus the Sabian Symbols of the points involved

Short forecast:

We're in for six weeks of major changes. To find the area of your life most impacted by change, look at your own chart to see what house cusp is located in Aquarius. If you have Aquarius on the cusp of two houses, they'll both be affected. If Aquarius is an intercepted sign (contained wholly in a single large house), then the house it's contained within will be the affected area. Remember, Aquarius is idealistic and rebellious. Its goal is to reinvent everything, only better.

The other major theme for the next six weeks is a major obsessive-compulsive situation between authority/tradition and success/zealotry. This comes in the form of a quindecile between Saturn retrograde in Libra and Jupiter in Aries. Saturn wants rules and law, and the retrograde gives us a rose-colored glasses view of the past. However, Libra quests for balance, love, beauty, and harmony, and Saturn is not particularly content while wearing a Libra costume. Meanwhile, Jupiter, planet of luck, success, zealotry, and hot-air is in dressed in warrior-Aries.

Quindeciles are a source of ongoing stress. They are, by their fundamental nature, chronic obsessive compulsions that cannot be soothed away; they can only be channeled in healthy, productive directions. To find out where in your life to expect obsessive tendencies in the forecast period, look at the chart below and match the Saturn-Jupiter locations against your own natal chart. (The Saturn symbol looks like an upright cross with a sickle tail; Jupiter looks like a stylized "4". There's a green line between them.) Make note of what houses they fall in, in your natal chart, and if they're conjunct, square, or opposed any of your natal planets. These are the areas of your life most likely to be hot spots from now until Equinox. (If you need a copy of your own natal chart, I like and for their free services. If you'd prefer one using the points, orbs, and general layout I use (see below), email me and I'll send you one.)

Those of you interested in oracles may want to skip to the end where it says "Sabian Symbols".

Long forecast:

The most difficult thing about writing astrology forecasts is making them general and specific enough to suit the readership. The key to this is whether to incorporate house positions, because house positions change according to geography and are what we use to figure out what areas of our lives are going to be impacted by forecast changes. When I run a chart for San Antonio, the houses are accurate for the general public in my area. When I run the chart for Washington, DC, the houses are accurate for the general public of the USA because the basic principle of mundane (political) astrology is a chart run for a country's capitol can forecast the state of the entire country. Likewise, when I run the chart for Cairo, the houses are accurate for the general public in Egypt.

But what if you aren't in the US? What if you're not interested in politics, only what's going to be happening in your own life? The best thing to do is ignore house positions entirely and simply overlay the current forecast positions onto your own chart. For example, if you have Aquarius on the cusp of your 3rd house, then the current chart would lead you to expect a major revolution in the way you do communication because the 3rd is the house that concerns communication, early childhood, and siblings. Why a revolution? When you have a look at the chart below, you'll see the six planets (5 plus Chiron) in Aquarius. Big things are afoot there, and finding out what parts of your own chart are about to get triggered by this stellium will help you prepare.

Here's what we can say without the houses.

Imbolc 2011
February 3, 2011
11:33pm CST
Washington, DC

The first thing we notice in this chart is that all the planets except for Saturn and the South Lunar Node are jammed into a small wedge of the chart measuring only 92 and a half degrees, in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th houses.

(The horseshoe-shaped object in the 9th house at the top of the chart is the South Node of the moon, which goes in tandem with the North Node 180 degrees opposite. The Nodes of the Moon are considered *minor* objects in western astrology and many astrologers don't even use them. I use the axis as a gauge of karmic balance and as a barometer of what maternal relations are like -- when they're part of a major aspect configuration like they are in this chart, then I pay special attention to them.)

One of the first things we learn in astrology is hemisphere emphasis: what quadrant of the chart has the most planets and what does that mean. In this case, the planets are in the lower half, meaning all the issues are subjective, individual, and personalized (the houses of the upper half all have to do with relationships and objective life outside the self). Most planets are in the right-hand (Western) hemisphere, too, which means the focus is on being receptive to others' situations and needs. (By contrast, the left-hand hemisphere indicates self-motivated action.) So, if we put those together, the concentration is on what other people need, however subjective and individualized those needs may be, and then making a choice as to how to respond.

Saturn is the out-point, since it is the active planet located outside the emphasized quadrant. However, Saturn stationed retrograde on January 26 (at midnight CST), and as of February 3rd, it still hasn't sped up to its normal apparent motion. That means, Saturn is slow AND backwards. Like, he's got his roller blades on and he's started moving backwards, but he's still shaky and unable to commit to his usual rule-enforcer tasks. Also, retrograde periods are always times of introspection and planning; potential energy is high while kinetic energy is low.

However, retrograde periods are also times when we go back and repair things. In the case of Saturn, repairs have to do with organized structures, rules, and authority figures. We're likely to go back and view past authorities, father-figures, or eras with rose-tinted glasses, conveniently forgetting past sins against us in favor of nostalgia for what positive memories we have (or that we would invent wholesale).

Complicating this even more, we have a quindecile, the 165° aspect of obsessive-compulsion, between Saturn and Jupiter. Quindeciles are sort of in a class all their own, since they aren't included in the 5 major Ptolemaic aspects, but they're vastly more compelling than any of the minor aspects we use.

Saturn retrograde quindecile Jupiter: Saturn is wearing lovely Libra, sign of harmony, beauty, and the quest for unachieved balance. As Saturn is a mark of putting on the brakes and confirming our compliance with the rules, it has an uncomfortable time being in Libra, which quests for loving relationships, harmony, beauty, and balance. Jupiter, meanwhile, is wearing warrior-Aries, sign of assertive, active energy. Jupiter is a mark of blessings, so Jupiter's position here could be read as urging exercise, assertiveness, physically active changes, and war. But what happens when you put those two into an obsessive relationship? First, an obsession with what is proper and allowable under the law. Second, a need to actively change things and to vocally promote change. With Jupiter, there's always expansion, proselytizing, and blowing hot air along with the bona fide success, and Saturn may put a quelling hand on the braggadocio and lecturing, or Saturn may throw it back in Jupiter's face with an insistence on being "FINE just the way I am", regardless of the actual truth of the matter.

The only oppositions in this chart involve the South Node of the moon, and involve Pluto and Venus. That tells me that the only direct power struggle is between the old ways and the new direction Pluto (power) is taking. Venus in Sagittarius is lending support to progressive action.

All other conflicts in the chart are squares, the aspect of friction where neither party is sure what the conflict is over, specifically, since one party may be fighting for religious freedom while the other party may not care about religious freedom at all, but is really upset that the religious freedom fighters have burned down a museum of priceless antiquities and destroyed their own cultural heritage. Or, for a more downhome example, one sister may be livid that the other sister invaded her space and wiped the contents of her iPod while the other sister is so appalled at her sister's complete lack of taste that she decided to replace all her mp3s with educational audiobooks. There's definitely a fight there, you see, but it's about two different issues.

Further strengthening the impetus toward revolutionary change, we have a TON of planets in Aquarius: Mercury, the Sun, Mars, the Moon, Neptune, and the asteroid Chiron are all wearing idealistic, transformative, revolutionary Aquarius. Of these, Sun & Mars are conjunct, blending their energy into active change; and Moon-Neptune-Chiron are conjunct; blending their collective energy into an emotional, transcendent, healing nexus.

Okay, now let's put the houses into the mix. First, the chart for the moment that the Sun hits 15° Aquarius is shifted to the right a little bit because of where the sun is in the sky and how the horizon is in a different place in the central time zone. Saturn's in the first. Aquarius is in the 4th, but the rest of the Aquarius planets are in the 5th.

USA: Forecasting for the entire United States, we need to locate the chart at Washington, DC. Doing that gives us a Saturn in the 12th house of institutions and karmic lessons (i.e. things we don't understand). It removes the quindecile between Uranus and the Ascendant and places Uranus-Jupiter on the cusp between the 5th house of children and creativity and the 6th house of short-term health issues and daily work. That keeps the spirit of the changes described above, but the 12th house Saturn removes the Ascendant part of the equation entirely. Texas may be invested in keeping up Saturnine appearances, but the national chart absolutely isn't. In the US chart, Saturn is muddling around (skating backwards) institutional corridors trying to enforce regulations no one understands, while the Aquarius planets are now in the 4th house of home and nurturing, with Mercury standing on the cusp between the 3rd and 4th houses. That is huge. That puts the revolutionary energy on the US homefront.

TEXAS: In the San Antonio chart, the houses are shifted half a sign from the DC chart. So, if you're local to Texas, there are some regional-specific differences in attitude that we can expect.

There's the quindecile between the Ascendant and Uranus. This one's even more dramatic. First, Uranus is wearing transcendent, flowy, oceanic Pisces. Uranus is the revolutionary genius, as always, and constantly strives to change things for an idealistic "better" that, of course, varies from person to person. The Ascendant is again dressed in Libra, with lovely, aesthetic, harmony-seeking elements that unfortunately lack all natural sense of balance. So the moment of dawn in this chart, the sense of all things beginning and impending for the coming six weeks, is one of an overriding need to create harmony, but that can -- worryingly -- be turned this way and that by external influences. The Uranian revolution has Jupiter on its side, adding more fuel and zealotry. Saturn, while moving backwards toward the Ascendant, is retrograde and slow AND in a sign where it's naturally less powerful than normal. That gives added strength to the forces promoting change. My feeling is that outward signs of revolution and change are going to be rampant for the next six weeks. The deep underlying changes may not manifest yet, but the hype will make it look like a sea change is upon us.

Interestingly, in Texas, all of this is taking place in the 5th house of creativity, play, and children, whereas if we relocate this chart to Cairo, Egypt, we have 10° Aquarius rising and revolution firmly seated on the Eastern horizon. That means revolution in Egypt, yes, but in Texas, those energies are working themselves out largely among kids, creative artforms, and sexual play (i.e. revitalizing your love life by trying new things out in bed).

EGYPT: By contrast, the Imbolc chart for Egypt puts Aquarius on the Ascendant. That means the energy on the horizon for this period is all revolutionary in nature. It's a dawning of a new era, new outlook, new personality. Now, I'm purposely not bringing in a natal chart for Egypt as a country to compare the Imbolc chart because that's way beyond the scope of this forecast. My point, though, is that having a revolution on the eastern horizon of a transiting chart does not completely transform a natal chart's entire personality. Rather, it throws a HUGE spotlight on the transformative possibilities and challenges the natal personality to put them to good use. That use can be radical revolution (especially if they trigger major planets in the natal chart), or it can be minor reform within the existing status quo. Both are FINE; I want to make it clear that there's no value judgment here – it's simply *potential* energy for change. How it's put to use is a matter of individual choice.

No matter which location we use for the moment of Imbolc, the Aquarian changes are firmly tied into the Nodal axis. The axis is the line in space where the plane of the Moon's orbit intersects the ecliptic of our solar system and symbolically encompasses our present mission in life vs. our past archetypal pattern AND the maternal (lunar) relationship. When the nodal axis is caught up in a major astrological configuration, it serves as a good barometer of how deep-seated and wide-reaching the coming change will be. Basically, if the lunar nodes are involved, then this is no temporary trend; it will have permanent impact. With the North Node between Venus and Pluto in the 3rd house of the Washington chart, the big shift in pattern for the US will be one of communication. The ways governments communicate with each other is changing, as well as the ways governments communicate with the people and use their power over communications technologies.

Another mode of insight we have in astrology is through using the Sabian Symbols. The Sabian Symbols are a series of 360 verbal images channeled by a medium and dictated to an astrologer back in the 1920s. He held up a card with the degree of the zodiac written on it, and then she channeled an image to go with it. Each degree has a symbol, and often the Sabian Symbols that correspond to the degrees of planets in our birth charts have enormous meaning in our lives.

If we take the Sabian symbols for each degree of the chart into consideration, then I fully expect that religious overtones will be apparent in governmental announcements, press coverage, and spin-doctoring.

Ascendant, Washington, DC chart: "Humanity seeking to bridge the span of knowledge." The Ascendant is the degree rising on the eastern horizon, so we would read this symbol as the new theme dawning for the next six weeks.

Venus: "The Pope blessing the faithful." Venus represents our need for relationships and harmony, and its location in a degree of religious imagery points to people looking to meet those needs in their faith.

North Node: "The human soul receptive to growth and understanding." NN is the mission in life, so this would point to a trend toward wanting to understand deeper meaning.

Pluto: "A veiled prophet of power." Pluto rules power, but there's never been a consensus on whether this symbol means a powerful prophet wearing a veil or a prophet wearing a veil who is prophesying about power. The right answer may be "both".

Mercury: "An old adobe mission." Mercury is our need to communicate. This symbol isn't just an adobe ruin; it's an old mission, like the ones the Jesuits built all over the American southwest and parts of Latin America to evangelize their faith and change the world for better and worse. However, the "old" reiterates its historical nature, so you could read this as religious zealotry in historical context.

Sun and Mars' degree symbol is "A big-businessman at his desk." The Sun is our energy need to be true to our egos; Mars is our need for action. This is a productive degree with financial and corporate empowerment, so yay economic recovery! *hopes*

Moon and Neptune's degree symbol is "A tree felled and sawed." The Moon is our driving emotional need and Neptune is our need to dream and imagine. This tree has been cut down and sawed into something – logs, boards, whatever – to be used for a purpose. It's a constructive symbol, even as it also represents the death of a life (the tree's) in order to create something new. The meaning here lies in how much we need to feel productive and how much we dream of constructing something new and needful in our lives.

Chiron: "Moon-lit fields, once Babylon, are blooming white." Chiron is our need to heal. This symbol is lovely because it evokes lunar/maternal/emotional needs, a history of long-past greatness, and a complete renewal.

Uranus: "A prism." Uranus is our need for individualistic, progressive, revolutionary genius. Prisms divide light into its component spectrum but also expand our sightlines by refracting light. I would read this as a Uranian shift in perspective and desire for change, factoring in new information.

Jupiter: "A cameo profile of a man in the outline of his country." Jupiter is known as the Great Benefic, meaning it brings luck to what it touches (up to the point where it brings too much of a good thing, at least) AND it represents our need for faith in higher powers and higher learning. This degree leads me to expect an overwhelming, idealistic/idealized interest in national heroes, and because Jupiter is in a quindecile with Saturn (fathers and forefathers), I expect that focus to be obsessive.

South Node of the Moon: "An arctic explorer leads a reindeer through icy canyons." The South Node represents our collective past, the storehouse of mother-knowledge we know instinctively. If this degree is about exploration, then the South Node's position here means these are the lessons from a place we've already been and come back from; NOW the challenge is to apply that knowledge to the future.

Midheaven, Washington, DC chart: "A woman having her hair bobbed." Traditionally, this symbol is taken to mean a drastic change in personal presentation and attitude. The midheaven is the cusp of the 10th house of career and authority. It is the zenith of the chart and can be read as the overarching attitude affecting the general public during a forecast period. So, I expect some public announcements to the effect of, "We're in a new age. From now on, we go out into the world with a new attitude." That doesn't necessarily make it true, mind you, but that's the propaganda the speaker would have you believe.

Saturn: "Two men placed under arrest." Saturn is our need for reasonable limits. It enforces rules and when retrograde goes back to repair past mistakes. However, while retrograde, father-figures can be unrealistically idealized. This symbol is pretty clear in its obvious meaning, but we don't know whether the men under arrest are actual criminals or if they're the victims of a complex situation. With Saturn retrograde, we want to idealistically assume the law is in the right, but we can't be sure. Regardless, there's an exercise of police power. This is especially interesting when you remember the quindecile to Jupiter in its hero-centric degree. On one hand we have a figurehead on a coin; on the other, we have two men under arrest. Are the arrested men criminals who attacked a politician? Is the politician a despot who had two protesters unfairly arrested? And in our more ordinary lives, there's still an obsessive pattern happening between a powerful figurehead on one hand and two people who are caught by authorities (of some stripe) on the other.

If you're interested in learning about the Sabian Symbols, is a great place to start. (The page with the story of how they were channeled is here: Lynda has an electronic oracle on her site that works quite well. You can also create a hand-on oracle of your own by creating a set of 12 cards for the signs and 30 cards for the degrees (note: first degree is 0.01°-1.00°, up to 29.01°-30.00° – yes, this is weird, but just focus on ordinals: first, second, third degree, and it all works out.)

If you're interested in learning more about how the Sabian Symbols work in astrology, check out Blaine Bovee's book "The Sabian Symbols and Astrological Analysis".

I would warn you against using the Sabian Symbols list at, as they have posted a non-standard list for reasons I can't imagine, since copyright infringement isn't an issue. Their versions are different to the point of rephrasing all of them and grossly changing the meanings of some symbols from the original.

As always, if you have questions, please let me know!


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