As we enter the second half of our year, the astrological landscape has changed significantly since we began: Pluto has made its first foray into Aquarius, Saturn has been mooring the wild waters of Pisces, the eclipse axis has begun to shift into new signs, and so much more. Now, approaching the solstice point again, we find ourselves in very different territory for the remainder of the year. The recent dramatic planetary ingresses have given way to a new nodal axis, Venus’s upcoming retrograde, Jupiter’s thoughtful process through Taurus, Pluto locking horns with the nodes, and more. This territory feels like a sorting process, where we must find new modes (inner and outer) for everything that was disrupted in the last few years.
Pluto first entered Aquarius on March 23, and is currently heading back toward Capricorn, where it will remain for the rest of 2023. In January 2024, it will re-enter Aquarius, then take a final survey of Capricorn’s last degrees later in the year before settling into Aquarius until 2043. In March, the initial foray into Aquarius, a sign associated with technology and cultural progress, saw unsurprising leaps in the realm of AI, and immediately sparked conversations around creative property, including ownership and copyright concerns. In one of the greatest dichotomies of Aquarius, Pluto is already displaying its power-hungry motivation and skewing the otherwise impartial intent of open access platforms. This may generate equitable progress on some levels, but may also revoke the rights of the individual in other circumstances. In the coming years, we will see vast changes in the way humans generate and sustain culture and sense of belonging and community. But we will also witness the great absence of belonging that so many already feel, and the rigid rules that push many into the fringes of our world.
This initial ingress has additionally seen some painful losses in progress previously made with equity rights. (Notable examples include the anti-trans bills passed in the US and broken agreements in Canada with some indigenous communities’ access to clean water.) Pluto’s ruthlessness has the capacity to shatter laws that do not fully serve the community, but it also has the capacity to twist Aquarius’s equitable focus into a world of monoculture, where everyone must be the same in order to have a place. We will come back to this theme of individual-versus-cultural rights when Pluto returns to Aquarius next year, when we are likely in for a mixture of radical changes in our access to community, belonging, and progressive thinking, as well as equally radical struggles against the push toward sameness.
When Pluto re-enters Capricorn on June 11, it begins its final stage of review of the last 15 years in the sign. This time, Pluto brings a square to the lunar nodes, which will change signs (i.e., Taurus-Scorpio to Aries-Libra) a few weeks later. Pluto’s roots have sunk into the nodes this spring and will pull them backward into the anaretic degrees of three of our cardinal signs. In the last week of July, Pluto’s square to the nodes will be exact — 29°06’ Capricorn square 29°06 Aries–Libra — but the themes and orb of the square carry through to the end of this year. This has an imperative feeling: The anaretic (or final) degree of any sign is a threshold degree, which lives perilously and wildly on the verge of becoming something completely different. Having these slow, simmering, unfolding transits crossing these degrees gives the sense of time warping — pulling the last 15 years of our history to the threshold we’re standing on in this moment. The nodes bring us something fated that we are yet to step into.
In our world, we have seen great shifts in the structures and powers that govern our lives, an awakening to the Capricorn-inspired notion of privilege, and a call to greater stewardship of our home on the Earth as we witness the consequences of our actions. From now until the end of the year we are in a deep review (like the final exam of a very long course we’ve been taking), called to consolidate, summarize, and clearly commit to our responsibilities and sense of honour and purpose. Pluto’s square to the nodes tells us if we don’t do so now, we will lose our window of opportunity, which also may bring circumstances beyond our control that call us to this task.
The new lunar nodal axis — the South Node in Libra and the North Node in Aries — begins on July 17. We have already seen eclipses in these signs; after the final lunar eclipse in Taurus in October, all eclipses will be in Libra and Aries until the end of 2024. This axis seeks to reconcile a classic opposition between the independent self and the relational self. The South Node in Libra may bring a beautiful blossoming of art and synthesis of new ways of coming together and connecting, as well as continued expansion in our thinking around the infinite spectrum of platonic and romantic relationships that exist for humanity. But the Libra South Node can also represent the personal sacrifices that must be made in order to experience connection. The North Node in Aries may bring a much-needed healing in the world’s capacity to embrace many forms of individual expression (especially as it approaches a lengthy conjunction to Chiron), and an unwillingness to sacrifice the self in order to achieve praise or calm waters. But this North Node can also represent the struggle for people to simply be who they are. The opposition between the nodes questions who gets to decide the choices we can make, and our autonomy’s clash with the laws of our culture.
One of the many significant ingresses of the spring was Jupiter’s entry into Taurus on May 16, where it will be until May 2024. After speeding through Aries, Jupiter will slow to a thoughtful pace in Taurus, steadily approaching a conjunction with Uranus in August and September, although not actually exact until April 2024. Here, in Taurus, we find caution and practicality with Jupiter’s optimism. Jupiter inquires if all the new ideas we’ve generated, and the risks we’ve taken during its time in Aries, will be sustainable. This transit also considers whether the brash, even experimental laws and rules — i.e., the revoking of abortion rights and gender-affirming care — that have been passed during Jupiter in Aries are in fact humane. Not only must we consider the practicality and sustainability of our justice systems and personal moral compasses, but we must also consider whether they genuinely promote wellbeing and a better life. Taurus finds these qualities necessary, and is willing to endure incredible obstacles if it means ultimately achieving more care and consideration. During this transit we will learn to discern between choices that only promote our own lives, versus those that are also supportive toward others.
Jupiter’s ongoing, drawn-out approach to its conjunction with Uranus (which will also integrate with the themes of the Venus retrograde when it squares both planets in the summer) shows the potential for both care and greed in the distribution of resources in our world. The effects of climate crisis in one corner of the Earth produce slow, strange, and unexpected results on someone else’s dinner plate, as Uranus pronounces the interconnected social changes that disrupt Jupiter in Taurus’s steady growth in food and earthly beauty. Likewise, the continued ebbs and flows of a global pandemic produce ruptures, losses, and chaos in our supply chains and individual capacity for labour as illness disrupts our otherwise steady work routines and many question the reliance on these routines in the first place. Uranus in Taurus says that our food and labour systems are unsustainable and need to be radicalized. And Jupiter’s visit in Taurus (with Venus in Leo’s square to Uranus) says that some people will care and give more, while others will hoard from fear. Ultimately, Jupiter tells us that our failing systems of nourishment and labour are moral shortcomings and that radical change here is a social responsibility.
The Venus retrograde period this summer will build on these themes. Venus stations retrograde on July 22 at 28º Leo. Since this is also the week that Pluto squares the nodes, a little extra space and compassion in our endeavours may be helpful now. Venus will make a conjunction to the Sun on August 13 at 20º Leo, marking the midpoint of the retrograde, and will station direct on September 3 at 12º Leo. Venus will hold a lingering square with Uranus for all of July and most of August (Mars will also be involved in early July). Venus will return for its last square to Uranus in late September through early October before moving out of its shadow. This retrograde period is a revision of the ways we love, who we love, and how we love. The discomfort of the extended square to Uranus, with an added square to Jupiter in the latter half of the retrograde, brings to mind the sometimes-unbearable vulnerability of having an open heart in a chaotic world. Uranus and Jupiter in Taurus may say it’s better to have one foot out the door and a thick skin in all we do, otherwise we will wind up disappointed. But Venus in Leo says taking the risk to open our hearts wider and wider every day is the greatest act of courage we can perform in this world.
All Venus retrograde cycles evoke the story of the goddess descending into the underworld, expressed in different cultures through archetypes similar to Inanna or Persephone. We must be willing to go into the deep unknown, the dark quiet space within, and to see what has been living under the surface of our own lives, in order to be restored, renewed, and regain our personal agency. Leo is a sign that is willing to visit the unknown: Venus’s descent here is not compelled to find answers, it is interested in taking the journey that will crack our hearts open and leave us soft and loving at the other end, even if our mind cannot make heads or tails of it. The square to Uranus will help us understand our own fears around intimacy, and our discomfort in opening our hearts. The square to Jupiter, which occurs closer to the end of the retrograde, may be an interesting shift in suddenly feeling everything come flooding through at once, like a surge of uncontainable desire that seeks pleasure and connection in every glance, every moment, every crossing, no longer afraid to be open but unable to discern where our love is best directed.
As we come to the latter half of the year, some of the more tumultuous outer planetary alignments of the last four years have moved on, and we are in different territory now. Here, we look for ways to integrate everything that has changed, perhaps finding a more manageable rhythm of transition that does not disrupt every corner of our lives with such intensity.
illustration: Temperantia (1872) Edward Burne-Jones
Aerin Fogel is a Toronto-based astrologer, core pattern reader, and tarot reader. She has been working professionally with clients through one-on-one readings, workshops, and lectures since 2012. Aerin has been a speaker on The Astrology Podcast, and at Kepler College, ConVocation, Canadian Astrology Conference, and Astrology Toronto (for which she is also a board member). Aerin was an occult consultant on The Craft: Legacy as well. She specializes in an integrated, holistic trauma-informed healing perspective through natal chart readings, synastry, family charts, and more, merging modern psychological perspectives with traditional techniques. Aerin is also the founder and Artistic Director for Venus Fest, a Toronto-based music festival, and plays in her band Queen Of Swords, with which she will be releasing her album Year 8 on June 9 with Get Better Records.