The Goddess Hecate is guardian of the crossroads. In places where she was widely worshipped, people would leave offerings to her as a sign of respect wherever two or more roads converged. Hecate is the “all-seeing” one, able to face multiple directions at once. She reminds us that at any moment, there are many possible ways that one could go.
She is the one I am calling to as I write about the year to come. This year will require our ability to hold multiple perspectives at once – for example, simultaneously looking to the past, present, and the future. It will also require us to look closely within as well as without in order to see more clearly the roots of strife and the sources of beauty.
The Past: Waking Up
Rereading my forecast for 2016 helped me make sense of my experiences of last year:
“When [Saturn and Neptune] meet, it can feel like our world is coming apart at the seams. The fantasies we have held about ourselves, our relationships, and our world, crash into reality – and we are left to figure out what’s actual and what’s pure delusion.
“This year will be a lovely opportunity to practice detachment. Please understand that this doesn’t mean the absence of pleasure or joy, quite the opposite. It means we can be free of the illusions of what we think we need and who we think we are, instead finding a more accurate, truthful perception.”
That really resonates for me in terms of how to best reflect on my own feelings, perceptions, and actions of the past year. The past is always filled with valuable lessons. Our ancestors have met dire circumstances before, and can clue us in on the right approach. Knowing how resistance worked in past movements informs our movements going forward.
What delusions, illusions, and ideals are you waking up from? Which of your personal visions have survived the surreal experiences of 2016? Take a look at which houses hold the signs of Sagittarius and Pisces in your natal chart to discover where you are being asked to let go of old identities and open to more authentic versions of your own truth.
The Present: Creative Catharsis
The next calendar year presents us with opportunities to understand the Leo archetype collectively. This archetype is creative, generous (or generative), and warm. Leo needs to express itself in order to be healthy, much like a child who needs to be seen and validated by caring adults in their lives.
As Caroline Casey reminds us, we must “create drama or live melodrama.” This means that we must consciously create space and time for self-expression, or we may unintentionally invite circumstances that mirror soap opera plotlines. This self-expression doesn’t have to be public, but it must be authentic, springing from the deep well of childlike artistic play.
Making art has always been a way to heal internal conflicts while illuminating universal truths. Now more than ever, we need art. We also need laughter. If it makes you laugh, it might be medicine. Have you ever seen the classical Greek drama masks? One mask is laughing and one is clearly in sorrow. This a great symbol for the year ahead – not pointless emoting, but creative catharsis.
As Saturn, Neptune, and Chiron continue to work on us, fantasy can be a useful tool to get in touch with our deeper truths. To imagine our most blissful dream of life can inspire us to take actions that manifest those dreams. Yet, if fantasy becomes too prominent, we become lost, directionless, and our actions become misguided. Here are some common symptoms of fantasy-overload:
~ Insisting that there’s only ONE WAY for the dream to manifest. ~ Thinking that your vision is better than other people’s visions. ~ Insisting that other people’s visions are direct threats to your own. ~ Projecting your version of reality/fantasy onto other people. ~ Ignoring the very real problems, obstacles, and challenges to your vision. ~ Withdrawing from reality through escapist behaviors: drugs, alcohol, superstition, binge-watching, etc. ~ Defensiveness and denial.
I want to give one example of how I recently dealt with some painful illusions. I have considered myself an activist for most of my life. I have tried to educate myself about the roots of systemic injustice. After the recent election, like many of us, I was shocked and outraged at the level of ignorance and hatred which contributed to the outcome. There were many reactions in activist circles, including the idea of wearing safety pins as a signal to people that you were a “safe space” for people facing oppression. I didn’t wear a safety pin, but I liked the idea. It felt like a sign of solidarity.
Then one day, I watched a short video of two black men who made fun of the safety pins. They said derisively that it would show that someone was a “good white person” and laughed at how little all the good white people had done in the fight against racism. They called it out as a tool to self-soothe white guilt over the outcome of the election.
I had watched, read, listened to so many opinions in the lead-up to and the aftermath of the US election. I was saturated with points of view, and feeling overwhelmed by hopelessness. This video pissed me off. I turned my computer off in anger. I felt broken and betrayed. I felt myself thinking, “Well, fine then! We can’t win. If trying to show solidarity becomes a target of ridicule and blame, then what do they want from me? We’ll never end racism if black people keep making fun of white people who are trying to do the right thing…”
Eventually, I caught myself in this trap. But I had to express it first, to someone that I trusted and wouldn’t be harmed by my expression. What I learned first of all is that I had become defensive, a sign that my own privilege was being threatened. Secondly, I had decided that the opinions of two black men were how all black people felt. (Their opinions are indeed vital, but they are not speaking for all black people. Nor did they claim to. That was my own prejudice.) Lastly, I let a symbol (the safety pin) become a stand-in for the action and hard work required.
I clearly had a fantasy that our political trajectory was moving toward greater liberation, and then I had a fantasy that my own emotional comfort was more important than the life or death struggle of people of color in our country. I had to let go of my own point of view and make space for another point of view. It was not comfortable. I felt angry, and then embarrassed about my reaction. But I stayed present with my responses rather than retreating from them. This is an example of how fantasy can be harmful, but also how expression and then clarifying the vision of a more just world can lead us through the dangerous terrain ahead.
The Future: Intersections of Time
Hecate was the protector of the traveler, as well as those without homes or resources of their own. According to Patricia Monaghan, worshippers would hold Hecate dinners, sharing food and divinely-received visions with one another. It was tradition to leave any extra food out on “Hecate plates” for people who needed it. To give food or shelter to those less fortunate was a way of honoring Hecate.
Considering her association with the crossroads and with protecting those on the edges, intersectionality may be the ultimate expression of Hecate. To be intersectional is to understand where we can work together to tackle seemingly insurmountable problems.
The work being done now, and the sweeping, tumultuous, powerful changes which have occurred over the last five years, have contributed to the ongoing story of humanity in ways that may not be evident for forty or more years. This is unsatisfying news for a pop-culture which demands instant gratification. But we must accept it. The rhythms of the universe and the changes in our world ebb and flow in cycles beyond our immediate comprehension. We may not know the outcomes of our action. Why would that stop us from fighting for justice?
It bears remembering that we have been in the midst of the Uranus-Pluto transit, an on-going planetary cycle which connects us energetically to previous periods in history of cataclysmic changes. The last round, from 1962-1968, was a period known for social unrest and political change. Events in the US included the War on Poverty, the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the birth of the modern environmental movement, the Vietnam War and the Anti-War movement, the Second Wave Feminist movement, and an intensification of the Cold War between Russia and the US.
Each of these topics is at the forefront of political and social discourse today. The work which was seeded fifty years ago has been revisited over the past five years, while the Uranus-Pluto transit has been in effect. This year will see continued efforts to propel or repeal the progress made in these areas.
Here’s a metaphor for this: Some people want to prune the tree, some want to let it grow wild. Wild trees give fruit freely to all and are owned by no one. Cultivated trees often require pruning to create sustained health and greater yields for the life of the tree, but too much pruning will permanently stunt its growth. Are there ways this metaphor makes sense in the personal revolutions of your life? What is trying to grow bigger and wilder in your life? What needs to be pruned? What kind of tree is your life or an aspect of your life – wild or cultivated? (Both are important! Free yourself of judgments!)
The energy of Jupiter in Libra joins this configuration in 2017, impressing upon us how important it is to deal with conflict out in the open rather than hiding or blocking dissent. Libra is the sign of harmony and balance, but its negative side conceals division in order to pretend everything is all right. Another shadow expression is scapegoating or escalating conflict unnecessarily in order to preserve a position of being right.
For justice to flourish, discomfort is necessary. When a group of people is oppressed, their safety and comfort has been sacrificed for the safety and comfort of another group. Jupiter always blows up the topics it touches, in this case revealing the uncomfortable, and sometimes ugly, truths that have kept the scales imbalanced while preserving the semblance of peace.
As we move forward and imagine what the future holds, the most important tool we have is LISTENING. Libra can be an amazing conversationalist. But it also holds the capacity to listen to multiple points of view with compassion. This is true as we listen to voices within ourselves as well – voices that we have ignored for too long which tell us that something is wrong. Listen to yourself to see what is longing to be expressed.
The meeting of Jupiter in Libra with the on-going Uranus in Aries – Pluto in Capricorn square reminds me of the ways Buddhism discusses the principle of equanimity. I am not a Buddhist, but I learn so much from the Buddhist tradition. Equanimity is described as a calm, rooted, present state of mind that holds a balanced perspective. Basically, I understand it as “everything is connected” and “I am important” and “don’t get caught up in your own shit” all wrapped into one. The Theravada monk Nyanaponika Thera says of equanimity that
one day we shall feel assured: "More and more ceases the misery and evil rooted in the past. And this present life - I try to make it spotless and pure. What else can the future bring than increase of the good?" And from that certainty our minds will become serene, and we shall gain the strength of patience of equanimity to bear with all our present adversities. Then our deeds will be our friends.
A friend recently reminded me that “pure” can mean authentic and complete, much like the original meaning of the word virgin. To be authentic, we must be fearless in our self-reflection, ready to own our shortcomings as well as our beautiful gifts. Listening to others – whether we agree with them or not – becomes a practice of deep acceptance. We do not have to offer agreement with others’ points of view. But we can no longer deny that certain points of view exist, that they are a part of our world, and that we have a responsibility to witness that truth.
Let the intersections, Hecate’s crossroads, be places of compassionate offering where you learn about the world beyond your own experiences. Eventually, we will grow our capacity to hold space for everyone’s experiences. With searching and thorough honesty, we can build the future we all deserve.
Notable Dates of 2017
Mark your calendars for these action-packed astrological events. I’ll write more specifically about each of these as we get closer to the dates of activation.
Lunar Eclipse in Leo, on February 10. Solar Eclipse in Pisces on February 26.
Venus Retrograde in Aries and Pisces, March 3-April 15.
Mercury Retrogrades in Earth/Fire Signs, April 9-May 3; August 12-September 5; December 3-22.
Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius, August 7. Total Solar Eclipse in Leo, August 21.
Jupiter moves into Scorpio, October 10
Saturn moves in Capricorn, December 19