winter solsticeWinter Solstice on December 21 catalyzed a dynamic dance between Venus, Mars and Saturn, amplifying themes of love, authority and responsibility that will continue to be strong through the first half of 2014.

In the traditional wheel of the year, the Solstice is a gate of power when the Sun God is reborn, the light of consciousness rekindled. This year’s Solstice coincided with Venus turning Retrograde (until January 31), punctuating the significance of this cosmic event, and imprinting the new season with an emphasis on redefining your values and priorities, reevaluating and renegotiating relationships, and regenerating your feminine energy.

Due to her apparent reversal, Venus is in Capricorn – the sign of maturity, authority, commitment, responsibility and integrity – for an extra-long time, November 5 to March 5. Venus in Capricorn calls forth the Elder, the Crone, the Wise Grandmother in all of us. To navigate the coming year, we would do well to cultivate our older and wiser selves, to practice being cool-headed in the midst of volatility, consider the long-term consequences of our actions, and get strategic about how to move forward.

saturnSaturn, the ruler of Capricorn and presiding deity of the Winter Solstice (when the ancient Romans celebrated the Saturnalia), is now in Scorpio, sign of the Underworld. Saturn in Scorpio (until 2015) says that what is hidden is often the most powerful, and focuses attention on healing and transforming the underlying structures of our reality – subconscious emotional patterns, unspoken assumptions, our “shadows.” Often these hidden parts of ourselves surface in the highly-charged, Scorpio-ruled arenas of sexuality, intimacy, money and power.

Saturn’s placement is especially important while Pluto is in Capricorn (2008-2024), as Saturn acts as a translator for the Plutonian forces of collective death and rebirth. During Venus’s long stay in Capricorn, both Pluto in Capricorn and Saturn in Scorpio can be felt more personally, their themes become more tangible, more ripe and ready to be addressed. We get more into the nitty-gritty of how these larger, longer-term forces relate to our individual, day-to-day lives, and we’re asked to make the connections between the personal and political, to define our values and priorities within the greater context of the unfolding collective story.

the devilAccording to modern rulership, Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn are in mutual reception – occupying each other’s sign, and therefore strengthening and energizing one another. But the traditional ruler of Scorpio is Mars, who has recently moved into Venus-ruled Libra. Venus is in Saturn’s sign (Capricorn), Saturn is in Mars’s sign (Scorpio), and Mars is in Venus’s sign (Libra). The two planets associated with relationship, Venus the archetypal feminine and Mars the masculine, are entwined with Saturn, Lord of Karma, the Cosmic Taskmaster, the Grim Reaper, the Devil.

We’re under pressure to grow up in how we relate to one another, to own our projections, to balance and integrate our inner feminine and masculine, and to take responsibility for what we’ve created in our relationships – and for liberating ourselves from perceived blocks and limitations.

Typically, Mars spends about two months in each sign, but due to his upcoming Retrograde (March 1 to May 20), Mars will be in Libra for almost eight months, December 7 to July 26. In its less conscious expression, Mars in Libra gets stuck in indecision, endlessly weighing out the possibilities and options; postpones taking action until making sure that the action will be pleasing to everyone; sacrifices desire, passion and vitality for the sake of keeping the peace; and projects its power onto others, feeling victimized by those who assert their desires. In its higher expression, Mars in Libra is the Peaceful Warrior, the Lover, the Artist, courageously asserting the power of love, beauty, justice and peace, sensitive to others’ needs and able to collaborate and cooperate to reach a shared goal. (Think John Lennon, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis.)

libraLibra the Scales is the sign of balance, but it can tend to go to extremes on its way to achieving equilibrium. Those extremes are widely available now, and over the next week, as Mars squares Pluto and opposes Uranus, triggering the Uranus-Pluto square and testing our ability to act as agents of love instead of reacting in anger to what’s being reflected back to us.

If you’re feeling the volatility, or tempted to get drawn into power struggles, channel this intense Martian energy into creative expression, blow off steam through vigorous physical movement, and consider that the people who are triggering you are friends of your soul, helping you see those hidden patterns that are blocking your power and ready to be healed.

On the edge of this new year, we’re already in the field of the high-pressure Capricorn New Moon on January 1 (3:15 am Pacific), the intensity of which accurately reflects the cosmic energies of 2014. The Sun and Moon conjoin with Pluto, square Mars and Uranus and oppose Jupiter – all of which translates into a mega-activation of the Cardinal signs, which are about initiation, leadership, and the courage to create a new beginning. My anthem for this New Moon, and maybe the whole year, is Andrea Gibson’s spoken word poem “Say Yes,” the first in this trio in the below video:

“for the ones who know how powerful we are, who know we can sound the music in the people around us simply by playing our own strings, for the ones who sing life into broken wings…. tonight Saturn is on his knees proposing with all of his 10,000 rings that whatever song we’ve been singing we sing it even more, the world needs us now more than it ever has before…. if you’re handing out flashlights in the dark, start handing out stars…”

– Emily Trinkaus