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The Astrology of 2008
by Henry Seltzer
New Year 2008 Chart

This overview of the astrological events of 2008 is intended to help us to experience with as much grace as possible the challenges that are coming down in our lives and get the most out of them as we prepare for the changes in our social structures that these next few years will bring. I firmly believe that it greatly helps to get the astrological perspective on important life challenges so that they may appear in a greater context, a cosmic one if you will.

In these next five years, until the end of 2012, we will see all the major outer planets change signs, and re-align in the first square configuration of Uranus and Pluto that follows their conjunction of the sixties. These changes of sign indicate world transformation of significant magnitude, as who would doubt in the light of what we have already seen so far. For starters, Pluto entering the sign of Capricorn will transform the corporate power structure and bring out the worst of it and also the best of us in response to that worst, as the twelve-year prior transit of Pluto in Sagittarius has done for religious zealotry. Pluto enters Capricorn in 2008, Uranus will enter Aries in 2010, squaring Pluto, and Saturn forms a T-square to Uranus and Pluto from 2009 - 2011. Jupiter will conjunct Uranus in the midst of this crucial time period, in 2010. Neptune will first enter Pisces in 2011 and then re-enter in 2012.

The most significant astrological event in 2008 is the entry of Pluto into Capricorn. Capricorn represents established authority, and Pluto's presence in Capricorn indicates changes to the important structures of our lives, both individually and collectively. Pluto enters Capricorn on January 25th, but then retrogrades back into Sagittarius mid-June, only re-entering Capricorn near the end of November. These transition times will be important, but the symbolism of the Capricorn ingress will still pervade the entire year.

In terms of the collective, Pluto in Capricorn will bring out the best and the worst of our current system of government by the corporate power elite. We will see flood tides threaten all entrenched power structures, especially those that have lost their relevance for the present day, and there will be a measurable back-lash from the establishment in response. We have already seen the beginning of this action and reaction over the past few years, one recent example being the candidacy of Barack Obama. Just a few short years ago, who would have expected to see a woman and a black man as the Democratic nomination front-runners? People in this country are finally tuning into the concept of necessary change in the power structure, as evidenced in particular by this man's popularity. The truth is that the establishment must change, and that it will not change willingly, and that there will likely be a struggle that will grow greatly in magnitude over the next few years as the pendulum swings.

On the personal level, as 2008 continues to unfold we are sure to see many changes in the structure of our individual lives as well. There are places where we know we are stuck, but seemingly powerless to make a move, and these are likely to be "up" for us over this next year. Then there are the places that we are just as fully stuck, but in a relatively unconscious way, and these may also become more noticeable for us as the year progresses. We tend to regard setbacks as bad luck that we wish had never occurred, but the truth is that these very setbacks can be powerfully healing for us if we learn something from them about our hidden patterns and agendas. This year is sure to be one to remember, bringing us events that are eye-opening and perhaps heart-opening as well.

There are also several retrogrades to deal with throughout the year. Coming first in the yearly cycle, Mars is retrograde throughout January, carried over from November of last year. The retrograde of Mars implies that we will have the chance to look closely at our desires and our aggressive urges as we connect more fully with our truest sense of ourselves. Although Mars turns to direct motion at the very end of the month, it takes until March to fully recover in terms of lost zodiacal longitude, referred to as his retrograde shadow. During this entire time we may find ourselves somewhat stymied in moving forward with what we intend to accomplish, but perhaps all the richer for these delays in terms of our understanding of our situation. Mars retrograded into the last degree of Gemini to exactly oppose Pluto just as the year began, and that alignment is significant, and signals that 2008 will be a powerful year of transformation.

Mercury also retrogrades three times this year, the first one beginning toward the end of January. During these periods of time, mechanical and communication breakdowns become the norm, and we do better to reflect on our circumstances. It is better not to move ahead with new plans at this time, as these will likely change after the retrograde period has passed.

The Mercury retrograde periods throughout the year are as follows, with the shadow period also indicated:

  • January 28 to February 18th, shadow lasts through March 9th
  • May 26th to June 19th, shadow lasts through July 4th
  • September 24th to October 15th, shadow lasts through October 31st

Then there are the eclipses. These are important lunations with a greater impact than usual. There are two important eclipse periods to consider, six months apart, beginning with February:

  • February 6th Solar Eclipse (New Moon and Aquarius line-up)
  • February 20th Lunar Eclipse (Full Moon)
  • August 1st Solar Eclipse (New Moon with Mercury and Venus both featured)
  • August 16th Lunar Eclipse (Full Moon conjunct Neptune)

The Full Moon eclipse of August 16th that brings Neptune into the picture also triggers a Mars – Pluto square. The month of August is therefore quite a powerful one for personal relationships and for going out and getting things done.

In contrast, the eclipses in February signal a month that is largely an internal one for several reasons. There are the retrograde periods of Mercury and Mars, as Mars re-enters Cancer and recovers his lost zodiacal ground. Then, the Solar Eclipse of February 6th conjuncts mystical Neptune, along with Mercury and Chiron lined up in Aquarius. There is also the February 19th entrance of the Sun into Pisces, initiating a period of time that is always a little removed from ordinary reality. We emerge in March from our thoughtful stance more ready to fully participate in world events, particularly so at the time of the New Moon of March 7th. This powerful lunation conjuncts Uranus, and represents a spring-board into a different way of looking at our lives.

Saturn in Virgo is also trine Pluto during the first half of 2008, beginning in late January and repeating the symbolism of Pluto in Capricorn, Saturn's sign. This configuration indicates that something must shift in the organization of our lives, and also in the surrounding social structure, and is particularly strong at the very beginning of May when Saturn stations. The confluence of these mighty outer planet energies echoes the theme of transformation that was so powerfully present in September 2001 when they were opposed. The present aspect being a trine does make for an easier blending. You might want to ask yourself where Saturn is in your individual chart, and whether that area of your life might not be transforming for you at this time. If changes are in the works for you they are likely to be necessary ones that have been waiting in the wings for some time now, and have only your preconceptions to hold them back from manifestation. The easiest way to get through might be to simply let go.

Saturn opposes Uranus during the second half of the year, meaning that we will likely experience quite strongly the push-pull of these two opposing energies, for holding back (Saturn) and for sudden change (Uranus). This configuration is most intense during October and November when the opposition becomes exact. The signs most affected are the mutable signs of Virgo, Pisces, Gemini and Sagittarius. Saturn is all about maintaining the status quo, digging in to resist change, while Uranus promotes the sudden shift. Uranus works through epiphany, the realization that comes in an instant and utterly transforms our thinking. As Shakespeare said, "there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so," and the new perspectives that Uranus brings to the table can be the precursor of massive changes in our lives. The opposition is exact at the time of the November 4th elections, which will undoubtedly reflect the polarity of change versus resistance to change that we have been seeing for some time now in the political picture. These energies of Saturn and Uranus can also work together at this time, creating a force for moving through the idea stage into concrete realization. During the whole course of 2008 we will feel this one-two punch delivered by the interaction of Saturn, first with Pluto and then with Uranus, clearing the way for necessary changes to actualize and to transform our lives from the inside out.

It is also important to mention the mutual reception and semi-sextile between Uranus and Neptune which becomes more significant as the year unfolds, and which represents the possibility of seeing our situation a little differently, with a greater reliance on the working out of Spirit in our lives. Uranus and Neptune were conjunct in the mid-nineties, the impetus for new beginnings of spiritual and imaginal achievement stemming from that powerful time of new visualization is still with us, although of course in some ways sadly side-tracked over the last few years. The impulse for new solutions will burst through again and again over these next few years, especially in 2010 when Jupiter conjuncts Uranus as it enters Aries for the first time. And this impulse will eventually triumph, since it is the direction of our spiritual evolution. We have the responsibility of helping it along as best we can over these crucial years of the transition.