Just Before Midnight: The Last Days of Pisces
Dear Friend and Reader:
We're now in the last days of the astrological year -- the time before the vernal equinox. The Sun is moving through the final degrees of Pisces and thus wrapping up the cycle of the zodiac. In astrology (and astronomy) there is a time-measuring device rarely mentioned to the public, called sidereal time. This is a way of dividing the year into a scale that is based on 24 hours. The vernal equinox is midnight in this symbolic representation; that is the beginning.
My original copy of An Astrological Mandala with a hunk of 500-year-old redwood root that floated on the Pacific Coast for a century. Photo by Eric Francis.
Right now we are in the phase of the year that's just before midnight. The sidereal time for Tuesday, March 8 is about 11:15 pm. For those of us who grew up casting charts on computers rather than calculating them by hand, this offers more of a poetic image than a useful fact, but I've always found it to be an interesting metaphor. As the equinox draws near, so too does the midnight of the year. Then a new day, a new year and a new season, begin.
There are ways other than the traditional calendar to observe the passage of time, and astrology provides many. In some past articles I've mentioned something called the Sabian symbols. These are an easy-to-use set of degree-by-degree images that were channeled by an astrologer and a clairvoyant in the 1920s. The symbols were channeled randomly and without the clairvoyant knowing which degree she was channeling. They were then revised later in the century by another astrologer.
If you have any interest in astrology besides being a casual reader of horoscopes, I suggest you get the book that makes this system easy and fun, and provides lots of philosophical ideas about personality development, nature and our lives within society. You don't need a technical background to appreciate it. The book is called An Astrological Mandala
by Dane Rudhyar. If you're wanting to slip into the matrix of studying astrology, this is an excellent point of entree -- a very simple technique that requires minimal technical understanding.
I would like to give you a taste of how the symbols work by sharing the last few degree symbols for the solar year, where we are now. There are 360 degrees in the zodiac and 365 days in most years. So each day the passage of the Sun gets (approximately) one symbol. Let's look at the last 10 of the year. See if you can spot the theme. The degree given (in parentheses) is the position for sunrise in Eastern Standard Time. Note that the numbers are rounded up. For example, if something is at 17 degrees and 1 arc minute, that counts for the 18th degree. The degrees are not 'split' -- rather, a degree is occupied in a way similar to how no matter what day in 2011 it is, we're still 'occupying' 2011.
Dane Rudhyar, 1895-1985, was an astrologer and musical composer (many good astrologers are) who reinterpreted the Sabian symbols that were originally created by Marc Edmund Jones and Elsie Wheeler. He was a leader in the movement for humanistic astrology.
Here are the images. Imagine them going by like a movie. Remember, the position given is for sunrise on the East Coast of the United States.
Tuesday, March 8 (Sun at 18 Pisces) -- In a gigantic tent, villagers witness a spectacular performance.
Wednesday, March 9 (Sun at 19 Pisces) -- A master instructing his disciple.
Thursday, March 10 (Sun at 20 Pisces) -- A table set for an evening meal.
Friday, March 11 (Sun at 21 Pisces) -- Under the watchful and kind eye of a Chinese servant, a girl fondles a little white lamb.
Saturday, March 12 (Sun at 22 Pisces) -- A prophet carrying tablets of the new law is walking down the slopes of Mount Sinai.
Sunday, March 13 (Sun at 23 Pisces) -- A 'materializing' medium giving a seance.
Monday, March 14 (Sun at 24 Pisces) -- On a small island surrounded by the vast expanse of the sea, people are seen living in close interaction.
Tuesday, March 15 (Sun at 25 Pisces) -- A religious organization succeeds in overcoming the corrupting influences of perverted practices and materialized ideals.
Wednesday, March 16 (Sun at 26 Pisces) -- Watching the very thin Moon crescent appear at sunset, different people realize the time has come to go ahead with their different projects.
Thursday, March 17 (Sun at 27 Pisces) -- The Harvest Moon illuminates a clear autumnal sky.
Friday, March 18 (Sun at 28 Pisces) -- A fertile garden under the Full Moon reveals a variety of full-grown vegetables.
Saturday, March 19 (Sun at 29 Pisces) -- Light breaking through many colors as it passes through a prism.
Sunday, March 20 (Sun at 30 Pisces) -- A majestic rock formation resembling a face is idealized by a boy who takes it as his ideal of greatness, and as he grows up, he begins to look like it.
Now, this last degree is one of my favorites. The first and last degrees of each sign are an excellent study in the themes of the sign. And with Pisces we have the theme of creating yourself, from your highest vision of yourself.
At the moment, two planets are conjunct in this degree: Mercury and Uranus. This to me is about reinventing yourself from concept to reality. Think of Mercury as the idea of self, Uranus as the inventive/revolutionary impulse and Pisces as the fertile field of the imagination -- right on the Aries Point, where both planets end up this week setting off a new phase of history; and where the Sun arrives the following week. That degree:
(Sun at 1 Aries) -- A woman just risen from the sea.
A seal embraces her.
Yours & truly,
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