AriesHappy New Year! The Spring Equinox on March 20, when the Sun moves into Aries, marks the official start of the new year. Now — not January 1st — is the seasonally and cosmically supported time for new beginnings.

The location of the planets at the time of the Equinox offers clues to this whole season — what to expect and how to work with the energies of the next three months.

Do I need to tell you it looks intense??

Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, signifies desire, passion, action and risk. Spring Equinox is a time for identifying what you want — what has excitement for you? where’s the energy? — and setting intentions and planting seeds accordingly.

At the time of the Equinox, the Sun is conjunct Uranus, opposite Saturn and squaring Pluto — the three planets involved in the Earth-shaking transits unfolding since Fall of 2008 and continuing into 2012. This Equinox catalyzes these longer-term, hugely transformational influences — it’s time to make the changes we’ve been thinking maybe kind of might need to happen some day.

The Sun’s connection with these slow-moving planets — representing transpersonal or collective forces — also highlights how what we want for ourselves intersects with what we want for the world. How do we reconcile our personal needs and desires with the needs of the planet?

UranusThe Sun’s conjunction with Uranus — planet of revolution, liberation and radical authenticity — fires up the desire for freedom, creativity, innovation and individuality. But the ability to take immediate action on our desires is tempered by the Sun’s opposition to Saturn — representing the limits of space and time, and mundane responsibilities and commitments. Saturn asks, How committed are you to what you want, and what are you willing to do for it?

I wrote about the Saturn-Uranus opposition in September, with the title Facing the Fear of Change, which continues to be the headline. Now the fear factor is really strong because it’s time to take action — to leave behind what we’ve outgrown and take the risk of trusting and moving toward our desires.

Because Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, is also part of the equation, this new beginning requires a kind of death. One of the challenges this Spring (and continuing throughout the year) is to identify what can be transformed, and what just needs to die. In the wise words of astrologer David Pond:

“Sometimes in nature a limb on a tree gets damaged and in order to not threaten the tree, we remove the decaying limb. This is a time of making serious choices; does the limb stay, or can it be healed by rooting out the decay and letting new growth begin? Sometimes you deal with it to get it right, and sometimes you need to remove the limb, or the tooth, deck, investment, or partnership…. Negotiate as best you can, but be willing cut your losses if necessary. Don’t cut and run, negotiate and walk.” (Spring Equinox newsletter)

Sources of Support: Vision, Dissolution and Pragmatism

So what can we lean into?

At the Equinox, Jupiter in Pisces forms a harmonious sextile (60-degree angle) to the Capricorn North Node. Intuition, dreams, imagination, compassion, higher vision and connection with Source inspire and support pragmatic action toward your goals. BE-ing in a relaxed, allowing, feeling state helps you access and receive this magical support from the invisible realm.

Pisces — associated with the ocean — is also the sign of dissolving, and Jupiter in Pisces brings the gift of dissolution to what’s ready to be let go of, composted back into the infinite. This can be a big help in the Plutonian death-and-rebirth process. As astro-blogger Robert Phoenix writes: “The energy is one of dissolve and moving to higher ground, not hard breaks and exile.”

The North Node always shows the way forward and in Capricorn (August 2009-March 2011), it’s time to “leave home” — to leave the cozy comfort of familiar territory in order to grow up, step into our power and purpose, and take a leadership role in creating the world we want to live in.

I just watched No Impact Man, a documentary about Colin Beavan, a writer in New York City who spends a year attempting to live without leaving an environmental footprint. His actions exemplify the Capricorn spirit of taking responsibility for collective issues and taking pragmatic steps forward rather than waiting for someone “out there” to make it all better.

Thinking about the big picture of where we’re at collectively can feel overwhelming and depressing, leading to despair, powerlessness, and inaction. But if we can hold the higher vision of the future we want to create (Jupiter in Pisces), and start taking concrete steps forward in the here and now (North Node in Capricorn), then collective healing is possible.

In the Epilogue to his book (also called No Impact Man), Beavan writes:

“For most of my forty-five years I didn’t try hard enough. I got too paralyzed by this question of whether I was the type of person who could make a difference. Finally, during the year of the project, I realized that’s the wrong question. The real question is whether I’m the type of person who wants to try.”