March of 2013 witnesses a very rare alignment of celestial heavy-hitters, namely an Isosceles Trapezoid. This highly symmetrical pattern keys off the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square, the defining aspect of our times, although the next point at which these two will be exactly squared is not until May. Filling out the pattern are sextile aspects from each end of the square, joined by inconjunct, with two additional inconjuncts forming an internal “X” from the four corners of the trapezoid.
Essentially, this pattern is composed of two interlocked Yods, bound together by a stressful square. Yods, also known as the Finger of Destiny, are formed when two planets in sextile along the base of the Yod are each inconjunct to a third planet at its apex. Yods represent fated or predestined events, situations which cannot be avoided, for good or ill, and reap karmic benefit or punishment.
The planets in question are Uranus in Aries, Jupiter in Gemini, Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn. Often when a trapezoid forms in the sky, a key component is one of the more swiftly-moving inner planets, indicating a fleeting or transient nature, but here, moderate to major slow movers are involved, giving the pattern much more stability and durability than would normally be the case. The first of the six exact aspects that bind and create this pattern occurs February 13, and the last on May 20, but March and early April are dominated by the trapezoid, with four exact alignments within a five-week period, and all planets are within orb of their relative aspects throughout the period.
Several other planets and minor bodies of the solar system will conjoin the principals in this complex pattern, but to begin at the beginning, let’s discuss the various primary energies interwoven into the trapezoid’s structure.
The Uranus/Pluto square forms the backbone of the pattern, and is the longest-lived portion of it, being in effect for almost three years, from June 2012 through March 2015 (for a detailed look at 2013’s exact squares, see my article “Galactic 2013, Part One” in the December 2012 issue of Daykeeper Journal). Essentially, this is a conflict of action (first-quarter square) between the forces of change, challenge and innovation (Uranus), coming from a rebellious, iconoclastic stance bent on individuation (Aries), and those of entrenched power structures (Pluto) coming from a hierarchical, traditionalist stance bent on conformity (Capricorn).
This is never good. That is, it can lead to something very good indeed, but the process is often ugly. Tension, strife, open conflict and turmoil: these are the likely results of this combination. This mix represents the individual versus society, free-form versus structure.
Uranus in Aries is boldly assertive and aggressively pursues its ends, which may not always be well thought through, but arise from the “fierce urgency of now!”, as some have phrased it. It is impatient, headstrong, and brooks no refusal, sweeping obstacles off the board without due consideration of the potential consequences. Pluto in Capricorn is reactionary, starkly conservative, outwardly intent upon shoring up its position and allowing not so much as incremental change, while internally a seething maelstrom of conflicted, repressed emotions fomenting a thorough restructuring which may not be apparent until the old form breaks down in a sudden collapse. Uranus is freedom, as opposed to Pluto’s accent on manipulation and control.
Though in many ways inimical, Uranus and Pluto can work well together, once a balance has been reached. Uranus assails from without, shatters barriers and blocks, discarding outworn concepts leading to an enlightenment, or awakening, of the ways things can be. Pluto erodes from within, bringing inherent weaknesses to critical mass, encouraging the death of old forms and the regeneration of new ones, intent upon eliminating or rejecting whatever is no longer working or holds us back. Both energies ultimately tend toward the removal of the old and the substitution of something new, hopefully better. It’s getting them harnessed and working in tandem which is the hard part; otherwise, they evoke a great deal of turbulence and chaos, and often act at cross purposes to each other.
Jupiter and Saturn are similarly linked, yet opposed, two halves of the same coin. Jupiter is the urge to expansion, increase, and outreach; Saturn represents limitation, restriction and a lack of connectivity. Jupiter pushes the envelope, Saturn establishes boundaries. But both forces are required, and Jupiter’s hyperbolic mindset and exuberance is both inspiration and counterpoint for Saturn’s caution and structured mastery.
In this pattern, Saturn and Pluto are natural allies, as symbolized by the sextile between them, and their mutual reception by Sign (Saturn in Scorpio, Pluto’s natural domicile, and Pluto in Capricorn, Saturn’s astrologic home base). In the elements of Water and Earth, there is a simpatico which, terrestrially, produces mud, a substance sometimes difficult to navigate or extricate oneself from.
Jupiter and Uranus are also in a bonding sextile, but the union here is not as comfortable. Aries’ Fire feeds on Gemini’s Air, but if the balance is not right, the result can be explosive and destructive, and their elemental combination yields no third substance, unlike the mud of Water and Earth.
In the component aspects, too, we find clues to the potential of the trapezoid. As suggested above with regard to Uranus and Pluto, the square (a 90-degree aspect) is an energetic, action-oriented aspect, promoting crisis and movement. Its astrological nature combines elements which do not have a natural affinity, causing friction, and are of opposite gender polarities, leading to clashes of temperament. Squares bring energy, a crucial alchemical component in any successful transformation, but on a practical level most commonly produce stress, conflict and confrontation.
The sextile (a 60-degree aspect) is the lesser of the beneficial aspects. It doesn’t have the power and guaranteed success of the trine, but it provides opportunities, smoothes over difficulties, and in general, indicates a productive, harmonious interaction. Sextiles always occur in compatible elements and gender polarities (except in cases where the planets may be near the cusp and result in out-of-sign aspects), and evoke concordant, balanced solutions, but do not confer much in the way of energy or drive.
But the aspect which dominates this pattern is the inconjunct, AKA quincunx (a 150-degree aspect). Inconjuncts link all four corners of the trapezoid, and form its longest side as well, giving it a unique flavor, all the more so as these comprise the two “hidden” Yods within its structure.
The inconjunct is a stress aspect, similar to the square or opposition, but with one very important difference. Where the square focuses energy on the issue, and the opposition grants clarity, both of which can lead to resolution, the inconjunct involves points with no direct line of sight or apparent common ground. This promotes “seesaw” reactions, where we tend to swing wildly between alternatives, with no real focus and often, even a basic lack of understanding of the issues at hand. Resolving conflicts can be difficult, and solutions are frequently impermanent, requiring constant maintenance and adjustment.
Like the square, the inconjunct attempts to combine elements which do not easily mesh, and gender polarities which are opposed, but lacks the inherent dynamism of the square, so that issues often do not come to a head openly, encouraging passive aggressive responses and negatively codependent cycles. The challenge is to integrate these energies without compartmentalizing or succumbing to the urge to jettison one entirely—both the “rock” and the “hard place” need to find expression.
Where the square is a slap in the face, and the sextile a handshake, the inconjunct is a pinch, an itch that can’t be scratched, a rough-edged tooth or blind pimple that the tongue cannot keep from worrying, try as we might.
The inconjuncts in the Isosceles Trapezoid form a pair of interlocked Yods, both of which have one “arm” in common, binding them to a central purpose. Saturn and Pluto together are inconjunct Jupiter, while Jupiter and Uranus are inconjunct Saturn. It is the Saturn to Jupiter inconjunct arm of the pattern which links the two, and may be seen as its central element. This implies that the pattern’s energies will likely play out on the societal/cultural level indicated by Jupiter and Saturn’s joint rulership of this area, as opposed to the more transcendental focus of Uranus and Pluto. The suggestion is that we have more input, if not actual control, in the ways these energies manifest than we would with the outer planets.
The Yod itself is an elongated isosceles triangle, named for the tenth letter of the Jewish alphabet known as “the finger of god.” Also called “the finger of fate” (whether fickle or not, for fans of the old “Laugh-In” TV show) and “the finger of destiny,” the Yod seems to literally “point” to a solution to the problems it creates. There is a karmic, preordained or predestined feel to these patterns, which can elevate the individual or situation to public prominence or indicate the performance of a special task, albeit one which is often accomplished unconsciously, without any prior understanding or awareness. Yods are tricky things, like Fate itself, difficult to master or direct, and often result in unexpected complications or outcomes.
Put all this together in the current Isosceles Trapezoid, and we see a pattern which provides opportunities (sextiles), but which requires constant adjustments and revisions (inconjuncts), and tends toward a primary conflict (square), all of which develops in a preordained or karmic-style setting (the Yods). As noted above, the pattern is within orb from mid-February through late April, but waxes and wanes in intensity as various portions of it become exact, with March 2013 the period of peak activity.
On March 8 the Saturn/Pluto sextile is exact at 11 degrees of Scorpio and Capricorn, giving form and structure to Pluto’s evolutionary purpose. Closely bound with these principals are TNOs Deucalion and Ceto conjunct Saturn from 13 and 14 Scorpio, and asteroid Narcissus conjoined Pluto from 7 Capricorn. Deucalion can lead to a sense of being overwhelmed or inundated, which may provoke monstrous reactions a la Ceto, especially if our sense of structure and propriety (Saturn) is assailed.
Narcissus here warns us against too much self-focus, or narrowing our focus to a very limited scope—the world doesn’t really revolve around us, and much of what we are facing now is not truly personal, even if it feels that way in the moment.
Uranus at 7 Aries is at the outer limits of the orb of the pattern, and its exact conjunction with asteroid Niobe suggests that pride may play a role in whatever issues Saturn and Pluto are bringing up. Jupiter is more closely tapped in, from 8 Gemini, and in company with asteroid Hybris at 11 Gemini, noted for arrogance and often a handmaiden of Pride in real life situations.
On March 24 it’s Jupiter and Saturn’s turn to shine, as the inconjunct which binds them and forms the central theme of the pattern becomes exact. This provokes a showdown of sorts between the contrary urges to expansion and contraction, taking risks versus pulling in our horns. Occurring at 10 degrees of Gemini and Scorpio, this aspect sees Uranus and Pluto more tightly involved, at 8 Aries and 11 Capricorn respectively. With Jupiter is asteroid Atropos at 8 Gemini, while Deucalion and Ceto continue to cluster about Saturn, extending that feeling of being deluged and responding badly to the pressure. Mars at 9 Aries is with Uranus at 8 Aries, so reactions may be explosive and sudden, with formerly unexpressed anger rising to the surface in destructive fashion. Narcissus is still with Pluto but so is asteroid Industria, suggesting that for some, hard work and putting the nose to the grindstone may be a way of dealing with the issues that arise, and loosening that unproductive focus on the self. In any event, active engagement is counseled.
On March 30, Jupiter and Pluto link by inconjunct from 11 Gemini and Capricorn, expanding Pluto’s field of action in its drive for transformation. With Jupiter is asteroid Atropos at 10 Gemini, named for the Fate who severs the thread of life at death, and signaling that an ending of some sort is imminent. Also here is asteroid Apollo in exact conjunction, suggesting that wisdom will be required to determine what needs to be released, and just how to release it.
Both Narcissus and Industria remain with Pluto, continuing the month’s theme of avoiding hyper self-focus with good old-fashioned work and studious application to a task bigger than oneself. Saturn at 10 Scorpio is still traveling with Deucalion and Ceto, reiterating the sense of overload and lashing out at others while under pressure, especially in a work setting. Uranus at 8 Aries pulls in a Sun/Venus conjunction at 10 Aries, closely tied to Jupiter/Pluto and suggesting creative, authentic solutions to the problems encountered.
The last aspect to occur with all four points still within orb of the trapezoid is the Saturn/Uranus inconjunct of April 13 at 9 Aries/Scorpio. Saturn and Uranus also represent conflicting urges and approaches, but have a common bond in their joint rulership of Aquarius. Saturn is backing away from Deucalion and Ceto now, so the pressure may be lessening, though we’re still feeling vulnerable and a bit febrile or prickly about the edges.
Uranus is joined by a host of new players, including asteroid Eros at 5 Aries, asking us to find our passion in life; asteroid Amor at 10 Aries, suggesting a frank appraisal of the conditions we set in loving relationships and what blocks us in accepting love from others, or in truly loving ourselves; and asteroid Hygiea at 11 Aries, indicating a need for a “clean sweep” in our lives and possible medical concerns.
Pluto’s companions remain the same, but Jupiter at 14 Gemini is joined by asteroid Hephaistos, prompting us to explore in what ways we are “crippled” in our ambition or goals by the limits we set on ourselves, and also raising issues of abandonment.
By the time Uranus and Pluto make their next exact square on May 20, from 11 Aries and Capricorn, Jupiter at 21 Gemini and Saturn at 6 Scorpio have moved out of orb of the trapezoid, effectively ending its influence. But its ramifications, in the issues it raised and the manifestations that ensued, can be transformative and life-changing for years to come.