Vision Quest: Into the Mysteries of 2016 | Monthly Forecast | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Vision Quest: Into the Mysteries of 2016 

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Every year at this time I'm casting and reading a lot of astrology—a bit more than usual, in preparation for my year-ahead readings. The result is the combination of an annual book of 12 chapters (one per sign and rising sign) and spoken word audio project (about an hour per sign). This year I'm including a CD of drum and synth grooves (intended, in part, as theme music for my sign readings).

By the time I'm done, I have a large stack of scribbled-on charts, which I've translated into astrology readings that actually do what astrology readings are supposed to do—provide you with current information to reflect on, contemplate and guide your life.

Sixteen prior editions still exist and all are available free. If you can't find one you're looking for, write to me.

The astrology of 2016 is the first major turning point after what I've been calling the 2012-era that spanned from 2008 through 2015. Like many new mini-ages of astrology, this one started with great promise—the election of Barack Obama—and it is ending with an extremely tense and apparently worsening world situation.

The most important question for astrology is, what can we learn about how to adapt, survive and hopefully thrive under the new conditions.

Over the next 18 months, several unusual events open up possibilities for outer and inner progress. They also open up the potential for more serious problems. I'll come back to that in a moment.

In this column I don't typically say much about how I do the astrology that you read every month, and I thought I would start there and then move onto descriptions of the most interesting events of the coming year and a half.

One distinction of my work is that I use both classical techniques I've learned from my teachers (among them David Arner, Geoffrey Cornelius, Robert Hand, and Robert Schmidt). Astrology is an art that long predates the Medieval era that it's associated with, and long predates the birth of Jesus. In something as strange and as abstract as astrology, it's essential to have grounding and roots. These I get from working with traditional astrology.

Then I add modern factors to my charts, working with many newly discovered planets, most of them discovered since I was born, and many of them discovered since 1992. With this dual perspective—traditional and modern—I can stay close to astrology's early roots and at the same time bring my work into the contemporary world and frame of mind. You might say that's the secret to my work, in addition to using a lot that I've learned from my life as an investigative reporter.

These newer planets address our modern psychic state: what you might call the borderline state of mind. Centaurs (such as Chiron, Pholus, and Nessus) are planets that cross the orbits of other planets. They are worlds that work the edges of consciousness. They are all named for mythological figures whose stories can modestly be described as intense. But unlike the usual myths, the centaurs are always thrust into human experience rather than godly.

Their stories are not soap operas. Their themes are always about healing and transformation. There's also a realm of planets beyond Neptune, out in what's called the Kuiper Belt and the Scattered Disk. Those include Pluto, 1992 QB1, Varuna, Sedna, and something you've probably heard of, Eris—and it's Eris that factors the most prominently into the astrology of 2016 and 2017.

Saturn in Sagittarius

But first let's look at what's going on with the most important of the traditional planets, Saturn. Saturn, which recently changed signs from Scorpio to Sagittarius, is a kind of baseline of reality. Sagittarius for its part has been the scene of a huge drama the past 20 years or so, starting when Pluto showed up in the mid-1990s. This was the dawning of the era of globalism, world beat and a surge in fundamentalist ideas (in particular, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic).

Same old same old, but all the more appalling since we're supposedly in the Age of Aquarius, where peace and love are supposed to count for something. Today as I write, a lot of people have the feeling that we're watching World War III take shape.

It wasn't just Pluto that churned up all that fundamentalist energy. A series of new planets were discovered, and many of them made a long, slow passage through Sagittarius. You might say this was the unforgettable fire, which recent events in Paris have demonstrated is still burning out of control.

One of those weird, new planets still in Sagittarius is Ixion. My key phrase for this body is "anyone is capable of anything" or you might say "studies in amorality." Amoral does not mean immoral; it means a worldview where there is no such thing as right and wrong. The concepts simply don't exist, and we see plenty of this going around.

Now Saturn is in Sagittarius (through late 2017), and we are in the territory of something more tangible; that's Saturn's job, to give us something we can see, feel, measure and describe. And that tangible thing is the influence of outmoded beliefs, especially if they are religious. Saturn in Sagittarius is the very picture of oppression by religious belief, and it also describes a confrontation with those beliefs.

People are driven by religious belief far more than they recognize. Religion has done a fine job of taking over all ideas about creation of life, birth and death. It is an unconscious relationship with death in particular that drives people to cling to their beliefs. But then along the way, sex has been corrupted and nearly everyone is convinced that there's something wrong with it, or with themselves for liking it too much. With this is the idea that sex must be contained and regulated (usually by marriage or marriage-like relationships).

So the core question of Saturn in Sagittarius is, to what extent are these beliefs driving your life? And when you notice them acting up, what do you do? People seeking enlightenment, liberation and connection to their deeper spirituality are penetrating through these dense beliefs that tend to be passed thoughtlessly from generation to generation. Saturn in Sagittarius is saying it's time to start thinking about what you believe, which means raising it to the level of awareness.

This will not happen by itself. You are more likely to get clues that something is up, and then have the option to respond. Responding means something that most people find challenging: deciding what is actually true for you.

Saturn Square Neptune in Pisces

There is a co-factor working with Saturn right now, and that is Neptune in Pisces. This is a much longer term transit, lasting through 2026—another 10 years. You might call Neptune in Pisces the potential for truly organic and creative connection to existence—what some call "spiritual" but without all the dressing, and expanding into all creative and erotic endeavors.

Neptune in Pisces has a wide spectrum of experience, and you might say it's about accessing God or your soul or your spiritual core any way that works for you. Typically we restrict the idea of spiritual to that which is appropriate for a chapel. However, I would humbly submit that there's a lot more potential than that. Most artists and musicians and dancers will tell you that their daily work is their spiritual path—their journey of connection and self-awakening.

What is now happening is that Saturn in Sagittarius, the container of all these concepts and dogmas, is about to plunge into Neptune in Pisces. By plunge I mean that it's about to make a 90-degree or square aspect to Neptune, which you might call a real meeting. Among the aspects, the square is one of the most compelling; it's one that you cannot ignore.

However, the most obvious manifestation is unlikely to be a breakthrough or a dawning of awareness; it's likely to be confusion. With Neptune, it's often the kind of confusion you have to figure out that you're in. It can be the sense of losing your direction, or a quagmire. You might feel like you're in a fog. And the thing that, in my view, is necessary is vision, or you might say, a vision.

Here is the thing. When prefab spiritual concepts that have dominated one's life are suddenly called into question, or dunked in a lot of spiritual water, and they start to come undone, that can leave you feeling like you have no ground to stand upon.

Since neither Sagittarius nor Pisces are about solid ground, you might decide that the structure you need is a kind of raft that actually floats on that water, rather than sinks. Religious ideas will indeed sink into Pisces like a rock. A simple raft—a basic, clear idea about your existence, or even a real question—will rise up and float.

Uranus Conjunct Eris

There's one other bit of astrology that is rare, and qualifies as outstanding, and that is the conjunction of Uranus and Eris. Uranus was the first planet discovered by science, in 1781. This ushered in the age of science, technology and industrialism. Along with it came many great inventions, quite a few horrid ones, and an era of rapid change and instability.

Eris was discovered in 2005, and came with a revolution of its own: it compelled astronomers to rethink the concept of a planet. They had to admit, for the first time with a large audience, that there are a lot of planets orbiting the Sun.

I think that one of the main influences of Eris is an environment of chaos. On the global level we see this in a seemingly endless era of subversive wars and change so fast nobody can keep up. Eris, in a sign it's occupied since the mid-1920s, is also about personality chaos; it's about those moments when you have no clue who you are, including when this stretches into a long-term question.

For those who are into philosophy (or art or literature), Eris is the goddess of the postmodern age. This is age of nothing needs to make sense at all. Everything in the world is a jumble, or a cyclone. In that chaos it can be very difficult to see, feel, experience or act on who you are, because ultimately you may have no idea.

People who are able to take clear and decisive steps have an affinity for chaos or a very strong sense of self.

Now Uranus, one of the lords of revolution and transformation, is about to align with Eris, the goddess of chaos and discord. This looks like it could be explosive—or transcendent. One of the things that astrologers learn about Uranus is that there's a limit to what you can predict when it's in the picture. In an art form that is supposedly about seeing the future, nothing quite says "you have no clue" like Uranus.

So, rather than being reactive, I'm suggesting we get proactive and by that I mean creative in advance, and begin to work with a vision; to give ourselves a clue in the form of an idea.

At its very best, Uranus conjunct Eris will serve as a wildcard—an opportunity to recreate yourself in a way that you can initiate but cannot necessarily control; the best you can do is guide yourself with your vision and perceive life as a quest.

Which it is—so, let's get moving.

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