A conversation with a friend today reminded me of the classic Taoist image of Lao Tzu riding atop a Water Buffalo. The symbolism of which is the concept that Spirit (represented by Lao Tzu) rides Matter (the water buffalo). This is the image that strikes me when I consider what has arisen as the primary theme of the year ahead – The Fire Monkey – and that is: redefining the balance between the spirit self and the ego self. The general energy of this theme has been with us for many years now, and has come to us with many different names. Some call it the re-emergence of the divine feminine. Some say it is the dropping of the veils. Some simply refer to it as an awakening. No matter which way you observe it, the overarching perspective is that the presence of spirit is becoming greater, and the dominance of the material is becoming looser. Since the winter solstice I have been meditating upon the year of the Fire Monkey and the prominent Tropical astrology patterns that we face in 2016. The element that I have been speaking to the most is how important it is at this time to find, cultivate, and move from our “center.” As 2016 has unfolded, this sense of need has become even more anchored. The Monkey year promises to bring us many things – but the thing that it demands most rigorously is our absolute alignment with our inner self.
That is – through all of Monkey’s curveballs and challenges – we must learn to work inside first. Our project for this year is to learn to follow our intuition above and beyond our normal capacity. In fact, to work from intuition as a primary, and bring in the power of logic and reason only after the intuitive has been established. For though the Monkey is an animal associated with the mind, science, and analytical pursuits – he is a creature that excels in the realm of research, writing, etc. – Monkey can also take our mind on endless meandering jaunts through the jungle if we do not harness his energy appropriately. And so the message I keep getting over and over again, is about HOW we harness the power of the mind and learn to wield it.
The Monkey is a free-wheeling, intelligent, and community-oriented animal. Inventive, creative, and a deft problem solver – the Monkey year brings the energy of proactive change, new ideas, and unforeseen new twists in the direction. The Fire Monkey calls us to embrace fun and freedom again after a long stint of seriousness and depressing difficulty. The Monkey energy suggests to me that we need to cultivate this aspect of our spirits REGARDLESS of seriousness and difficulty. Taking a lighter stance and allowing ourselves to step back from a situation, may bring forth solutions more readily. Monkey uses humor to save its own life regularly. It teaches us that even with a joyful and light spirit, we can still be protected – and in fact, it is from a place of less attachment and more ease that we operate with more freedom, even in a tight situation. This is because our attitude when we are in a place of humor is one that expands beyond and transcends. For many people who have been in the deep during this profound 9-year cycle (which this year, 2016, concludes), just the idea of being lighter and more optimistic is enough to put one on edge. The emotional currents of the past decade, particularly since 2008 when Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn brought about great structural upheavals that affected millions of lives, have been far from light – and there still resides a great deal of churning anxieties, weariness, and fear. The fears and attitudes that things never get better, that we live in a society of working wage slavery, political corruption, and extreme lack are all very present in the consciousness of our culture. It’s true that we have been on a slog through a mud pit for what feels like an awfully long period of time – and it is this reason that we feel the contradiction and paradox within the need to be connected to a lighter, freer, more hopeful self (at last), and the simultaneous sense of being bogged down by the resistance and irrational fear of this pull. But if I follow what my spirit wants today – what about work? What about obligations? What about money? What about... what about… what about? Cynicism, self judgment, and reluctance to embrace any idea that hope and sunshine are anything beyond schmaltzy hallmark cards and propaganda theme songs can hold us in place. We deeply feel a sense that ‘Gone are the days of the carefree self’ and right now we are, as a culture, most interested in discovering real solutions to our very real problems – on a personal and societal level – not just more feel good talk.
So from the outside, we might feel there are plenty of good reasons to ignore the call of our spirit and continue with business as usual, staying within the safe zone of our practical concerns. But our inner selves keep nudging us and nudging us and nudging us! To the point that not acknowledging the pull toward our inner spirit is actually painful in some way. For any who have made it as far as feeling pretty well in tune with the inner self, there is still a sense right now that there is a “great leap” before us from working with spirit in a mostly practical reality – to directing our practical reality from spirit. As inconvenient as it feels, the urge to follow the dream of our life is becoming overwhelming, and demanding the full attention of our spiritual resources. I’m not talking about merely surviving in this world, what I am expressing is what it is going to take to truly and deeply thrive in this world. And by thrive – I mean find fulfilled happiness. In order to arrive at this place of thriving, we need to employ a tremendous amount of inner strength, faith, and TRUST. What we truly want is possible, but the challenge the Monkey presents us is the challenge of maintaining this vision to spite all obstacles and distractions. If you can harness the Monkey mind – this year will leave you better for it.
Now let us consider the Tropical chart for today’s New Moon. I set this chart to the location of Washington, D.C. to be relevant for all USA readers.
The previous analysis comes from both my understanding of the Monkey year as a whole and my sense of the Western astrology throughout 2016 generally… but when we look at the chart for the Lunar New Year specifically there are a number of interesting details which further illustrate this greater theme of “Directing the life from Spirit” that I feel.
First of all I want to talk about two of the major aspect patterns and the correlation with the Monkey… First, is the Saturn-Neptune Square which has been active since the fall. In short, this aspect is about The Structure of Things (Saturn) undergoing a process of Dissolution and Spiritualization (Neptune). Since these planets fall in mutable signs and are also relating with Jupiter (good opportunities, benevolent change) and the North Node (spiritual direction, fate), the sense that things are “malleable” right now is VERY strong. Reality (Saturn) is MORE malleable now than it has been for a VERY LONG TIME.
Pair that basic concept with the fact that we are dealing with Fire in a Metal (Monkey is ruled by the element of Metal) year. In the Chinese 5 element cycle, Fire bends Metal. It is not the most compatible of combinations… as this element of Fire can be seen as creative on its own, but is weakening to the element of Metal, whose typical action is to precision and piercing focus. This metaphor is an almost direct mirror to the Saturn-Neptune Square. One is using water to dissolve the hard structures of metal and earth, while the other is using fire to do the same. When dealing with structures collapsing – even if they are long worn out – confusion and chaos is the natural next stage of the process. This is why we must be so very careful and conscious in our spiritual sharpness – because it is from this place that we can direct the appropriate changes, and make sound decisions. Our ego mind is likely to become too overwhelmed and confused by the outside changes to see it clearly enough. In the midst of the change, we might not even be able to discern what is happening and may tend to be rash, impulsive, or even attempt to retrench. But the more we try to hold on to the tangible the more elusive it becomes, especially under Neptune’s influence – and the only way beyond the fog is to see past the realm of rational mind and into the realm of the spiritual mind. If the mind is extremely full of conflicting emotions and trying to rationalize everything, it will be almost impossible to figure out what the next step is and make a right choice. It is very important to remember that in this year – even though the impulse to act will be VERY STRONG (especially with Aries on the Ascendant and Mars impacting the New Moon!) – making wise action is tantamount. And in some cases that might mean waiting even when you don’t want to wait. Or sometimes it might mean following and flowing with the situation until the right action emerges. In all situations it is important to continue to do the things that you do in your life to cultivate your strength of spirit – because in order to affect positive change in your life, and world, your spirit needs to be strong enough to influence its surroundings in a positive way, rather than be continually influenced by things on the outside. Though this is an active year with a lot of outgoing movement, spending some time inward to keep in tune with this spiritual vision and inner truth is going to be necessary to keep it peaceful and relatively smooth.
The second pattern I wish to discuss before talking about the chart as a whole is the Uranus-Pluto Square. In the chart for Washington D.C. Uranus is SMACK DAB on the ascendant and Pluto is prominently placed in the 10th house. This pattern has been a major influence in shaking up the world since 2012 and is finally beginning to separate this year. However, its close aspect and prominence in the Fire Monkey chart should not be overlooked – even though Uranus & Pluto do not make another exact square this year, they will be making sure the job gets done. This really adds to the instability mentioned – even if it is familiar instability – and in this chart I believe it speaks to many of the things I mentioned about directing the mind. In this case specifically, Uranus on the Ascendant (conjunct the Part of Fortune & Vesta – the Goddess asteroid of the hearth, keeper of the eternal flame of truth, focus, and passion) really speaks to the power of individual autonomy, particularly when working from a place of the clear-divine mind in order to revolutionize the personal self and the “self” ego image of society as it currently is. Uranus has a tendency to shock, and will encourage an energy of individualism and freedom at all costs in this powerful position. It will not yield to conform and will instead be inclined to rebel. This is where the Fire Monkey energy can be very intense -- as it will generate a lot of forcefulness around its ideas, for better or worse. Uranus tends to bring about change and revolution that serves more people, but the energy is quite difficult to control in this fire sign of Aries. On an individual level we need to really work on our impulse control, especially when anger is triggered, as the outbursts can be explosive. However, this can be useful for gut flip and switch type decision making -- in moments where there is pressure to act and act NOW and we have no other choice, we can appeal to divine mind for the quick response. In a similar sense, this energy can also bring sudden insight, and is likely to also bring major, sudden shifts in individual rights and the social scene as a whole in 2016.
At the same time Pluto, the planet of intense evolution, is in the 10th house of the public, forming a square to Uranus & the chart Ascendant as well as connecting with Venus (social connections, harmony) & Jupiter, suggests profound change at the structural level will be a huge theme of the year, as it has been for some time. The main difference that I sense from this year over years previous is that the structure has loosened so much now, that there is finally room to insert some new energy – and these new energies/structures/etc. will be most successful if they are coming from truly new, strong, soul level evolved perspectives… whereas anything that attempts to create from the dysfunctional paradigm that is now falling apart, will also show itself to be dysfunctional and ultimately destructive. This is not to say that those dysfunctional elements won't try their best -- this will certainly be a big part of the energy of the year, especially for the U.S. with an election coming up. But by and large the power structure has been destabilized, and with the appropriate use of will and gathering the Monkey energy has the capacity to really fight for its rights and make demands for change through persistence and also perhaps, some new inventions, techniques, and strategies. Pluto in close aspect to Venus will challenge us to really change how we relate to each other and especially in public spheres. We must try to learn to understand power from new levels if we wish to make genuine changes or else the patterns of power that we are used to are bound to persist. The plus side is that people will not be easily controlled or manipulated under this Monkey energy, and so will not as easily fall for obvious power plays.
Pulling back to look at the chart as a whole, we can see that the energies are mostly residing in societal houses – 10th, 11th, and 12th, houses with a few very important keys in the 6th house of work/environment/service, the 7th house of relationships, and the 8th house of deep psychology, sexuality, and shared resources. The New Moon itself is in the social, community-oriented sign of Aquarius, happily presiding in its home -- the 11th house. This connects to Monkey’s more social element… Monkey wants us to collaborate, be active in community endeavors, support one another, develop friendliness and networking, and contribute cooperatively to the greater good of the tribe. This year, with such an emphasis in the chart on the public houses, there is a great deal of focus on what we can do on a much larger social level. This is yet another reason why our work on strengthening our own individual spirit has been and remains so important... since what we do with ourselves has the potential to greatly influence the other people around us. The clearer we become, the more fearless we are, and the more deeply we realize our truth, the more effortlessly we can affect change. If we work from our heart, and from spirit, many other spiritual friends will come to join our mission and we will feel happiness in these connections. This can be a great year to team up with friends an do group projects or simply invite more collaborative elements to your business. Collaborations can help build the visions of multiple individuals and be supportive for all people involved. The energy here expresses that we don't need to live our lives through the idea that it's a dog-eat-dog world, nor do we always have to be lone wolfs. At least, in this year, the more we connect, collaborate, and feel 'a part of' the better and more grounded we will feel about creating real, impactful, and long term change in the larger culture.
The final, important key to this chart is the Virgo Jupiter-North Node conjunction in opposition to the Pisces Chiron-South Node conjunction in the 6th and 12th houses respectively. This is a big energy theme for this winter and will influence the Monkey year. Jupiter and the North Node together bring luck and good opportunities – positive connections that can greatly influence our future path… especially in the realm of our service to the world, greater mission, and spiritual goals. Chiron on the South Node shows that we are also in a process of really working through the DEEPEST of our old wounds, especially around our failed ideals. Times when we’ve fallen for illusions, when our unrealistic expectations caused heartbreak, when we were punished for being a dreamer, and when we believed in something that didn't work out are all things that can show up here. Anxieties, feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, uncertainty of what is real, feelings of hopelessness, despair, and not knowing if we’re doing the right thing are all a part of this wound. This combination basically wants us to use these wounded experiences, lost feelings, and mystical visions to create something practical and useful for the future going forward. This can include creating positive spiritual habits, new health routines, learning to apply ourselves anew, creating outlets for our previous grief and guilt, and also opening ourselves to meet the important people who can help us along the way. This combination of energies is extremely powerful for bringing in healing energies, spirits, and higher guidance. Now is definitely a time to connect with mentors, begin or deepen spiritual studies, begin or deepen anything that pertains to healing, or health. The idea is grounding the mystical and spiritual forces into some kind of form -- using the insight from the Pisces realm to inform the order that Virgo so desires to manifest. And to use the Virgo energies of discernment and analysis to make sure that every idea is authentic, useful, and helpful. I sense also with this combination that this is a wonderful time for people who are already established in a field of study to bring some new levels to it -- perhaps of their own insight and creation.
Overall, my feeling is that we are entering a phase that is more like Lao Tzu riding atop the water buffalo. More and more, the concept that the material dominates is becoming old paradigm logic. The concept that we need to leave the world of the material to become spiritual, is also old paradigm. The time we are in is about integrating spirit with our every day lives. This paradigm is about the mythic and magical shift back to a reality where the spiritual rules and the material supports. In order to arrive at this we must ultimately honor both sides of reality equally and simultaneously. When we make it a task to tune in to our inner self before going about our every day activities, we have an opportunity to live more and more from this integrated reality.
Follow the pull of spirit to spite the ego. Find the place of trust. Honor the physical through positive routines and lifestyle choices – but let it happen from a place of natural flow, rather than an enforced ego goal. Trust. Trust that stability is easily found when one allows oneself to be internally guided and that the earth beneath us supports our honest endeavors and simple needs. All that we manifest depends entirely on the strength and purity of our inner work. The stronger we are inwardly, the more clarity we have inside, the more powerful the influence and capability to create positively in the world. Learn to direct the mind. And do so with the humility and willingness to yield to the higher messages that we receive. And we should be able to find peace within chaos, stability in uncertainty, and wholeness of self.
All things happen in their due time, in flow, effortlessly. Stay undistracted. Live from the inner self. And work that Monkey ingenuity to create positive change and empower others in your community.
Happy New Year -- for real this time :)