The Moon will begin a new cycle with the Sun on December 12, 2023 at 3:32 p.m. on the West Coast with the New Moon at 20° 40’ Sagittarius.
In the Northern Hemisphere, this is the time of year when society’s call is to party, eat, and buy stuff. Nature, by contrast, seeks quietude. When trees are bare and wildlife hibernates, there’s no less life force in play. It’s just less obvious at the darkest time of the year. What is called for is rest and retreat.
Therein lies a conundrum because a fiery, wild-wandering Sagittarian mind leans toward flamboyance and taking on too much. The trick is to channel a pursuit for living large into the Sagittarius’ overarching quest: to find what is enduringly meaningful. The energy of a New Moon in Sagittarius gives one the juice to seek wisdom over achievement.
An astrology chart is a map of planetary alignments at a moment in time. It’s like a treasure hunt, with each piece of the picture a clue. At this time, Mars is also in Sagittarius, moving close, by degrees, to the Sun and Moon. Mars here adds an assertive punch to the quest for truth and righteousness.
The ruling planet of this New Moon in Sagittarius is Jupiter, big and bright in the sky. Jupiter spells beneficent expansion of one’s visions for the future. It’s no coincidence that the glyph for Sagittarius is an arrow pointing upward. The Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan likened the blessing of initiation to shooting an arrow into the dark. One knows not where the arrow will land, but one has confidence that it will reach its target. That’s the Sagittarian heart, full of faith and optimism.
Jupiter now is in the sign of Taurus, fixed earth. At this New Moon time, you might concentrate on your feet as energy centers, planted firmly on earth. Some mystics teach that feet are chakras. Try a breathing practice of drawing up through your feet the stable energy of the earth while walking or standing.
At the time of this December 12 lunation, the Sun and Moon will be forming a square with outer planet Neptune. A square is an approximately 90-degree angle between planetary forces. It’s an aspect of dynamic tension for purposes of growth. At one level, the New Moon’s square with Neptune says “caution,” because Neptune is a force of illusions, delusions, and even outright confusion and deception. So, be careful not only with what’s approaching in the outer world, but also in your own thought processes. That said, the tension of the Sun/Moon square with Neptune is also an invitation to seed your vision with an intention to see reality more clearly. What is worth learning, knowing, and contemplating for the coming year?
Jupiter, the New Moon’s dispositor (ruling planet) is currently in opposition to Venus, the other planet described in ancient astrology as “benefic.” Jupiter is also currently in one of its regular periods of retrograde motion, meaning its functions tend to be more inwardly drawn than external. Jupiter is now in Taurus, one of Venus’ home signs, emphasizing Venusian pursuits of love, partnerships, and art. With Jupiter in Taurus, until next May when it will move into Gemini, now is an optimal time to think about how to expand your resources (Taurus), material and non-material. You might be focused on managing your money, or even stocking your pantry.
With Venus now in Taurus’ opposite sign of Scorpio, there may be a serious, or at least not a frivolous, tone to aesthetic and relationship sensibilities. Venus in Scorpio is no lightweight.
For its part, Jupiter in Taurus has been making a harmonious trine aspect with Mercury which entered the forward-marching earth sign of Capricorn at the beginning of December. At this New Moon time, Mercury is at a point of its cycle called “stationing to go retrograde.” On an astrology chart, Mercury has a capital “S” next to it right now. Planets are described as “stationing” when they seem to be staying still for a period of time before they change direction. While stationing, a planet is considered to be at heightened symbolic potency.
From December 13 until January 1, Mercury will appear to be moving backwards, in one of its thrice yearly “retrograde” periods. Oh, no! I can almost hear a little gasp from some readers, wondering if this means trouble. It does not. There’ve been memes going around for years, to the effect that communications and electronic systems go haywire during “Mercury retrograde.” That’s a big over-simplification. What’s true is that Mercury’s symbolic functions have to do with thought, messaging, travel, and technology. When this fast planet slows down in its orbit and appears to go backwards, it’s time to review, revise, remember –in other words to move more slowly and be more cautious and introspective. That’s good medicine for this dark, closing time of the calendar year.
For most of this month, Mercury has taken on the style of Capricorn, the opposite sign to motherly Cancer. Capricorn is also parental. There’s something that Capricorn wants to build and protect. With Mercury in Capricorn this month, it’s time for some kind of mental work.
Following the December 12 New Moon, the next big event in the sky will be the December solstice of December 21, when the Sun will enter Capricorn. With the Sun standing still on December 22, Mercury’s light will fuse in the heart of the Sun in a moment of renewal called cazimi, midway through Mercury’s retrograde cycle.
Lest there be any doubt about whether to follow society’s calendar or Nature’s, on the night of the December solstice, the Moon will by then have circled ‘round to make a conjunction with big, bright Jupiter. The sky will signal a season of hope at the onset, here, of winter.
With prayers for peace.
Blessings for the Sagittarius New Moon,