aquariusWe’re in the season of quickening, when the light is noticeably returning and what’s been dormant is ready to reawaken. Yesterday was Imbolc, the traditional Cross-Quarter holy day that marks the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox – a time to nurture our inner fire so it can serve as a guiding light through the second half of winter.

Astrologically, the Sun has crossed the midpoint of forward-thinking, future-oriented Aquarius. Imbolc is associated with prophecy, which is one of the Aquarian gifts – the ability to see the bigger picture and higher vision of where we’re headed. The sparks of vitality and inspiration stirring within are signals as to the future that wants to be created. We don’t yet need to know how to bring our desires into form, or even what exactly they’ll look like – our job for now is simply to pay attention to where the life force is calling us and encourage our inner light to grow brighter.

This year, Imbolc occurs during a rare cosmic moment when all the planets are moving forward – an all-systems-go window of opportunity to make strong forward progress. (Of course planets are always moving forward, but sometimes they appear to go backwards – Retrograde – from our Earthly perspective.) This window opened on January 30, when Jupiter turned Direct (forward), and will close on February 18, when Saturn turns Retrograde.

The sky story suggests that the momentum of these forward-moving planets is best utilized to complete unfinished business and clean up the past – even as we clarify our desires and set intentions for the future. What needs to be resolved, completed, healed, released, purified, etc. before initiating a new direction?

This back-up-to-move-forward dynamic is a characteristicmercury of Mercury Retrograde, and we’re about to enter into the next Retro cycle. Although Mercury will officially reverse directions on February 23 (until March 17), we’ll enter the Retrograde “shadow” on Friday, meaning that we’ll start to feel the influence. Mercury will be in Pisces – joining Mars, Chiron and Neptune in the sign of the Fish – bringing attention to the watery inner world of imagination, intuition, dreams and spiritual ideals. Pisces is also the sign of purification and dissolving past attachments.

Reinforcing the Retro theme, Saturday’s New Moon in Aquarius (11:21 pm PST) will form a precise square – 90-degree angle of tension and challenge – to the Nodal axis, which represents our karmic past and evolutionary future. We might feel pulled between – and even stuck between – the attachments that appear to keep us “safe” but feel stagnant and vitality-depleting (South Node in Taurus) and the energizing, passion-inciting yet terrifyingly mysterious and unknown future (North Node in Scorpio).

scorpioThis New Moon presents a powerful opportunity to see, with Aquarian objectivity and detachment, where we want to go, and what gets in the way of going there. And the upcoming lunar cycle is ideal for freeing ourselves from fear-based attachments and self-defeating karmic patterns. The Scorpio North Node suggests that the best way forward is to trust our instincts, follow our passions, and embrace the mystery – a lesson reinforced by Saturn in Scorpio, the traditional ruler of Aquarius and therefore a key player at this New Moon.

With so much going on in the Fixed signs – Aquarius, Taurus and Scorpio – there’s a strong potential for feelings of stuckness, which can easily devolve into hopelessness and despair. The old patterns come into awareness and they can seem impossible to shift. A powerful way to move through stuckness is conscious surrender – not giving up, but giving over. I love how Marion Woodman describes this process, which to me sounds like high-vibration Saturn in Scorpio:

“I can tell you that it takes great strength to surrender. You have to know that you are not going to collapse. Instead, you are going to open to a power that you don’t even know, and it is going to come to meet you. In the process of healing, this is one of the huge things that I have discovered. People recognized the energy coming to meet them. When they opened to another energy, a love, a divine love, came through to meet them. That is what is known as grace…. It is a gift. I think that it comes through the work that we do. For some people, it can come out of the blue, but I know that in my own situation, the grace came through incredible vigilance.”

– Emily Trinkaus