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Cardinal Cross Lunar Eclipse: December 21

We now enter the final chapters of the cardinal crisis. Four of the five outer planets have transited the solstice and equinoctial points this past summer. It is now time for the lunar nodes to cross these same points. We now begin a period where the World Axis will be forced open, ejecting its inner contents and forcing all the world to become aware of the loss. This is because an eclipse is essentially a rip in the fabric of time. At the December 21st South Node lunar eclipse, the Moon is at 29º21’ Gemini, conjunct the World Axis  (0º Cancer), suggesting both a personal and collective loss.

To appreciate the power of an eclipse, it is useful to understand that time on earth is fractal. It is measured by the constant repetition of the primal alternations of darkness and light. This rhythm of dark/light is ingrained into our bodies and psyches.

When there is a disruption of this pattern, via an eclipse, the natural flow of the dark/light fractal is stopped in its tracks. There is darkness where there should be light. It is as if the laws of our universe are temporarily inverted. The world is stood on its head, specifically in terms of the archetype within which the eclipse is operating.

Astronomically, an eclipse occurs when there is a lunation near the lunar nodes — the place where the Moon crosses the path of the Sun i.e., the ecliptic. Astrologically, the lunar nodes have been called the head and tail of the dragon, for in myth it was seen as a demonic serpent swallowing the heavenly orb. The North Node represents the head of the dragon, and therefore something being taken in or ingested, as opposed to something being released or excreted at the South Node or tail of the dragon.

In a TMA blog about the South Node solar eclipse earlier this year, this astrologer wrote that South Node eclipses have often brought an end to things and have marked the final stages of major hostilities. It is the nature of a South Node eclipse to thus facilitate the end of something. Generally, the Moon is said to govern domestic matters, the people and emotions, so a lunar eclipse tends to have a more personal effect than the solar eclipse, which has a distinctive socio-political effect. Also, since the lunar eclipse is by nature an opposition, it has the tendency to work itself out via the relationships with other people in our lives. However, with the nodes now transiting the World Axis, it is possible that this eclipse could have equally powerful personal and socio-political effects.

This total lunar eclipse is intense, to say the least. It could be said to rival the cardinal cross lunar eclipse on June 26 (at 4º46’ Capricorn) in intensity. Even though Saturn is no longer involved with the autumnal equinox point, Juno is taking his place. This brings the relationship theme into sharper focus. Jupiter and Uranus are now direct, and applying to their last crossing of the vernal point (0º Aries),  so this represents the potential for dramatic new beginnings to come if we are able to clear the space for them now.

Total lunar eclipse: Dec. 21, 2010; 3:13 am EST;  for Washington, DC
Tropical zodiac, Whole Sign Houses

Total Lunar Eclipse

So how can we effectively clear space for the future amidst the potential for emotional chaos that this lunar eclipse represents? In this astrologer’s view, it would be by focusing on the personal planets and how they are involved in the chart. The personal planets represent the basic tools we have as individuals to cope with the emotional and psychological ramifications of this emotional purging.

The first thing we should notice is that the ruler of the eclipse is Mercury, which is retrograde. Therefore, the best tool we have is our ability to check our communications with each other for accuracy. This may seem so obvious as to be silly, but as a trained counselor I have learned that there are some basic communication skills which I remind my clients of all the time and which go a very long way to making stressful situations more manageable. The main skill we need to remember is to check our perceptions. By saying something like, “So, what I hear you saying is _____” , we are practicing a counseling skill called reflective listening. This reflecting back of what we heard the other person say is vitally important in clarifying any misperceptions before going out and acting on them.

The next personal planet that stands out is Venus, who is angular when the lunar eclipse horoscope is cast for Washington, D.C. Venus in Scorpio is making the same Arrowhead or Thor’s Hammer alignment that she made — from Leo — in the lunar eclipse earlier this year (on June 26). She is making the tri-octile or sesqui-square aspect to both ends of the square between Jupiter-Uranus and the Moon. There are basically two ways to see this energy flow. Some astrologers view this configuration like the t-square, with the energy originating in the tension of the square planets (in this case, Jupiter-Uranus and the Moon) and finding an outlet through the apex planet (in this case, Venus). This means we must use the apex planet, Venus, to find creative solutions to the square, or the tension of the square could erupt suddenly and perhaps destructively. This perspective reflects the use of this configuration as a tool like an Arrowhead.

The Moon-Uranus square holds the signature of emotional trauma resulting from having to deal with sudden changes. The Moon-South Node conjunction is about processing and getting over a loss of some kind (both personal and collective), so that we may get on with truly living. The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, applying to the Aries point, challenges each of us to be like “Lucky Lindy” (who crossed the Atlantic solo under the last such alignment) and seek to pilot our lives across some previously uncharted terrain in order to open a new realm of experience for both ourselves and the coming generations. Venus as the apex, or focal, planet of this square says that as we do these things, we can serve as a model for others. By sharing our personal stories, struggles, and adventures, we can assist others in slicing like an arrowhead through their own emotional morass.

Others see the energy flow of this configuration as originating with the apex planet (Venus, in this case). This image is more like a Hammer. Venus, then, must find a way to wield the power and dynamic energy of the square planets. We need to find a way to use this constructively and creatively, or the energy can become destructive. A hammer can either be used to crush an object or to drive home a connecting agent, such as a nail or dowel. Perhaps Venus as the hand on this hammer can represent emotional leadership and the power of personality being harnessed by some to serve as a mentor for others. The Mentor is an archetypal figure who shows up early in the Monomyth and gives the hero/ine the tools, knowledge, and confidence required to overcome his or her fear and face the unknown, to accept the adventure. (1)

After appearing in the pre-dawn eastern sky a little more than a month ago, Venus has now reached her maximum brightness in the sky.  In the corresponding Sumerian myth of Inanna, this is where she takes up her crown and goes to see the God of wisdom, Enki. Like a mentor, Enki gives her sacred powers for her journey as Queen. Later in the myth, Inanna turns “from the great above to the great below.” (2) This is the beginning of Inanna’s famous descent to the Underworld where she passed through seven gates and was stripped of her royal regalia (which symbolize her ego attachments). These seven gates symbolize the seven waning crescent Moons encountered by Venus between her maximum brightness and her eventual disappearance from visibility near her superior conjunction with the Sun. (3) In this cycle, Venus makes the first of these lunar conjunctions on December 30.

Over the next seven months, therefore, we have a tremendous opportunity to harness the enormous power of this South Node lunar eclipse for personal growth. As Venus becomes dimmer and lower in the sky at each successive lunar conjunction, we can also shed layers of our old emotional/feminine identity. By next June the North Node lunar eclipse will be bringing new energy for us to incorporate and digest. If, like Inanna, we have made the descent and been stripped of superficialities, then we will have plenty of emotional space for this new energy to dwell while we seek to find ways to integrate it. As the Tao te Ching advises, “Bend and you will be whole. Keep empty and you will be filled.”

References & Recommended Reading:
(1) J. Campbell, (1988), The Hero With A Thousand Faces, London, Fontana Press.
(2) From personal conversation with Shamanic astrologer Daniel Giamario, who shared with me the following reference:
Clyde Hostetter, (1991), Star Trek To Hawa-ii, San Luis Obispo, CA, Diamond Press.
(3) D. Wolkstein and S. Kramer, (1983), Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth; Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, New York, Harper and Row.
S.B. Perera, (1981), Descent to the Goddess, Toronto, Inner City Books.

Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 22 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993 his life was changed by a magnificent Dream, where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary holds a degree in Counseling and has developed a unique multidisciplinary path to Astrology over 17 years. Visit Gary at his website: DreamAstrologer


  1. Gary, excellent analysis of the upcoming Eclipse/Solstice. We are of like mind on many of the points you made. I wanted to add that on December 20th, the day before the eclipse/Solstice, Venus comes out of her retrograde shadow phase. Since she is a key player in our upcoming eclipse, I thought it important to mention that the Lady will step back into full power 24 hours before our big December eclipse/Solstice. May your Saturnalia and rebirth of the light be one of joy.

  2. Thanks Claudia! Yes, I was marveling recently with my astro buddy Adam Gainsburg that Her max brightness always occurs when She returns to where She was in the Zodiac when She first achieved visibility….something to ponder on for sure.

    Love and Joy unto you as well,

  3. Interesting that the 7 degree Scorpio Ascendant for Washington is close to Assange’s Moon, if the 2:06 time is correct.

  4. yes thanks Julija, and it is also close to the degree of the previous interior (retrograde) conjunction of Venus with the Sun @ 5′-30″ Scorpio on Oct 30

    one thing i forgot to mention is that this total lunar eclipse will be visible from all N America

  5. Hi Gary, after reading your column I feel a bit guilty about ignoring Venus because she doesn’t aspect this eclipse. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

    Because Mercury Retrograde is the eclipse ruler, I am watching this retrograde period closely in charts with planets-points contacting the eclipse degree.

    Will there be an extended, sensitized messaging period related to information, news (Mercury), and important change (eclipse) for these individuals…

    For other interested observers, here are the dates:

    December 31 – Mercury turns Direct at 19 Sagittarius

    January 14 – Mercury conjuncts eclipse axis at 29 Sagittarius

    For a public figure with individual chart contact, President Obama has N Venus at 1 Cancer.

    • good points, pdw. yes, that’s what I would recommend also. Obama is very Venusian. Hope to have an article out about that next year. thanks

  6. Hi Gary,

    I would love to hear how you think this eclipse will affect Mexico. Mexico’s 9th house Uranus is conjunct the Sun in the eclipse chart and they both square Mexico’s 12th house Pluto in Pisces. Also the transiting Saturn will be conjunct Mexico’s Mercury (7th house), while the country’s Neptune at 0+ Capricorn (which is conjunct it’s own Uranus) has the eclipse Pallas Athene also at 0+ Capricorn. The Nation of Mexico chart is found at this link. . .

    On 12/14/10 a Border Patrol agent was killed in a gunfight near Nogales, Arizona. There are connections in that chart to Mexico’s chart also. I wondered if that might portend serious problems for the U.S. Thanks so much for this informative article and all the work you bring us.

    • Hi Barbara, thanks for the great question. Yes, it is no surprise that Mexico has been in the news with that t-square near the cardinal points. With Pluto in Pisces near the Aries point there is the clear signature of a strong Underworld element.

      History shows us that when Jupiter and Uranus have crossed this 0 Aries point together it has affected US/Mexican relations. I’m speaking here of the 1845 annexation of Texas.

      We also know this time period of Uranus in Aries had events which held long lasting consequences and eventually led to the American Civil War. In fact, the last 3 transits of Uranus thru Aries can be seen to hold pivotal events which eventually led to major confrontations during Uranus in Gemini. This is why I stated previously in TMA this week that rather than being a “climax” these Cardinal alignments may in fact be the first shoots of some important future events

      What is notable, and somewhat hopeful to me (at least initially) about the Mexican chart, is that Venus is in her Evening Star incarnation and is the Sun sign ruler and also the exaltation ruler of Pluto.

      Venus as evening star is much more the peacemaker than her morning star incarnation. President Obama has an evening star Venus in Cancer. This is also hopeful for those desirous of peace, at least for as long as he’s in office.

      Venus reached her maximum elongation as Evening Star in 1821 on Dec 28. This puts the Mexican Venus in what I call the “resurrection” phase. Just like there are 7 gates Inanna passes thru on her descent to the Underworld, there are also 7 conjunctions with the Crescent Moon (this time a waxing moon in the West) as Venus climbs from her invisible phase to her maximum brightness.

      The Moon Venus conjunction in the Mexican chart is the 4th such since Venus regained visibility in June of 1821. Thus it can be seen as the restoration of the 4th chakra (from the bottom). This would be the Heart chakra. The succeeding conjunctions of Oct (mid Sag) Nov (late Cap) and Dec (late Aqu) of 1821 would have represented the restoration of Inanna’s throat, third eye and crown chakras respectively. It would be a great project to track the respective periods of Mexican history.

      However, by secondary progression we are now well past the point of Venus’ maximum brightness, in fact She went invisible and then made the retrograde conjunction with the Sun in the early 1980’s. This marked her transition to Morning Star by progression. For the Mayans (and also Sumerians) Venus in her Morning Star incarnation was not just god(dess) of sex and fertility but also of War. This makes sense when you think about it because the morning is an active yang time for humans. We go out to work, or perhaps to battle.

      And in fact, we have seen a rather yang flow of Mexican immigration to the US since the 1980’s when Mexicans like Fernando Valenzuela laid claim to the American Dream.

      the following stats from:

      The Mexican-born population in the United States has grown substantially since 1990, and the undocumented population from Mexico has increased even faster. The 1990 Census included 4.3 million immigrants from Mexico. By 2000, this population more than doubled to 9.2 million with a further increase to 9.8 million in 2002. The undocumented population from Mexico increased from two million in 1990 to 4.8 million in 2000 and to 5.3 million in 2002. Thus, between 1990 and 2002, the undocumented population from Mexico increased by about 250,000 to 300,000 per year on average; evidence from successive CPSs suggests that the annual inflows increased dramatically around 1997 or 1998.

      Remarkably, 1998 marks the point where SP Venus reaches 15 degrees separation from the SP Sun. This is what the hellenistic Greek astrologers called “phasis” and was their approximation of a planet’s heliacal rise back into visibility. Mexico’s SP Venus does not reach maximum brightness as Morning Star (40 degrees separation from SP Sun) until around 2020.

      To finally answer your question, from all this I would guess that US/Mexican tensions will steadily rise and reach a crescendo of some kind around the next Jupiter Saturn conjunction. And if this is not handled well that Uranus’ next transit through Gemini may see a truly major (perhaps global) confrontation of some kind involving this issue.

  7. oops sorry, meant to say that Obama is Morning Star, but his Venus is in Cancer/6th which is hopeful

  8. james m,

    Thanks so much for this info . . I never would have seen it otherwise. You are right about the Mexico Uranus/Pluto square, and I would add the square transit of the Sun to transiting Uranus and Jupiter at that time would add the element of “bigness” to the escape as well as the surprise. Will read this info ASAP.


    I’m delighted with the generous amount of knowledge you have shared regarding Mexico’s Venus as well as the statistics on the migration of that country’s residents to the U.S. It is amazing to me that Mexico’s problems are not of greater concern to the media and the U.S. population. Unless you live right near the border it won’t be at the top of your worry list. Could that be partly due to transiting Neptune conjunct the U.S. (Sibly) chart Moon? As this latest news testifies, you are so right about the “clear signature of a strong Underworld element.” Thank you for your response.

  9. I am also heartbroken that more people in the U.S. are unaware/unconcerned about the problems in Mexico.
    I live in New Mexico, about an hour away from El Paso, Texas. El Paso has been happily touting its status as “one of the safest cities in America” while its sister city, Juarez, has suffered its 3000th murder this year, just across the U.S./Mexico border.
    I believe that this is a manifestation of transiting Neptune conjunct the U.S. Moon; a national projection of our own dysfunction and addiction (the drug cartels of Mexico have long been supported by Americans). I do hope that individuals can shake off the Neptunian temptation to ignore such a pressing problem.

  10. in Australia a few hours before lunar eclipse. Certainly a powerful one not seen connected with a solstice since 1500 s. (i think) usa will certainly have problems with neighbours, 3rd house emphasis. Also the eclipse ties in with California chart that i viewed today, Santa Barbara area.not being totally focused on collapse of usa credit system, the revelations and problems that wikileaks will provide: i’m looking at southeast asia. Very interesting times. It seems few astrologers are focusing on medical developments and new generation abilities vs establishment that i can see in chart. thanks for a great article. annette

  11. In the USA chart I use, the Sibley chart with Sag rising, a Gemini eclipse would be activating the 7th whole sign. This would seem to resonate with what several people have noted re: shoving off shadow projections onto others etc.
    The hopeful high road would be owning up to one’s own shadow and integrating it, whereby it becomes less projected into the outer world.
    This is exactly what President Obama is asking Congress to do by scaling back nuclear weapons and becoming more open about what weapons we do have

  12. In response to Mary’s post regarding the Mexican border violence – “I believe that this is a manifestation of transiting Neptune conjunct the U.S. Moon”.

    I wonder if there isn’t also a more positive Neptunian trait to be found in the Mexican border violence? Perhaps a creative idea that has birth at this time will awaken the U.S.from its malaise and focus its attention to the enormous problems with its neighbor to the south.

  13. Hi, Rebecca…I ,too, believe that this Neptune transit is going to have positive as well as negative manifestations. Neptune’s powerful, oceanic energy can’t be constricted by borders. Under Neptune’s influence, borders dissolve, or are trancended; unfortunately, there is bound to be resistance to this opening, softening process. But I remain basically hopeful. Heartbroken, yet hopeful-that sums up my attitude in the aftermath of the Neptune-Chiron conjunction.

  14. An eclipse note: President Obama finished the lame duck session of Congress this week on a high note. Major legislation was passed and credited to his administration: Tax Cuts; Repeal of Don’t ask, Don’t tell; Nuclear Arms treaty with Russia.

    Such a beneficial boost in personal presentation does not seem unconnected to the Lunar Eclipse conjunct his 5th House N Venus.

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