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by Anita

Imbolc is typically celebrated on February 2. Some prefer to observe it at the time when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius, which occurs February 3 at 9:54 a.m. PST. Imbolc marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox and also the emergence out of darkness into light, although not necessarily spring weather.

During the period from Imbolc to the Spring Equinox, the Sun passes through the second half of Aquarius and through Pisces. Both of these signs are considered more in tune with cosmic and universal energies than earthly ones. If you think of the zodiac as a continuing spiral, beginning with Aries and working its way through the signs in order, then Capricorn becomes the epitome, or mastery, of life on earth, and Aquarius and Pisces become the transition to higher consciousness. Uranus, the ruler of (planet associated with) Aquarius, and Neptune, the ruler of Pisces, are now passing through one another's signs -- Uranus in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius. Uranus in Pisces represents a struggle to overcome materialism and takes on mystical overtones. Neptune in Aquarius is said to mark the beginning of the Aquarian age. It indicates a move toward enlightened humanitarianism and universal brotherhood.

Planetary Aspects at Imbolc

If you're planning an initiation ceremony or some other important ritual at Imbolc, you can expect these significant celestial events occurring on or around February 2.

The waning half-Moon is in Scorpio on February 2, and goes void-of-course at 2:56 p.m. PST, when it trines (makes a 120-degree angle to) Saturn. The void-of-course aspect ends at 4:21 a.m. PST on February 3, when the Moon enters Sagittarius. A waning Moon is best for finishing projects that you have already started. If your ceremony occurs after the Moon goes void-of-course, this strengthens the waning Moon influence. If you start a new project during a void-of-course Moon, you will undoubtedly need to redo some, if not all, of your work. (The void-of-course is the period between the time when the Moon has made the last major angle it is going to make while it is in a given sign and the moment it enters the next sign. Essentially, the Moon is on a mini-vacation.) The trine from Saturn helps ground the Moon's energy.

Venus enters Aquarius at 7:42 a.m. PST on February 2. Venus is in Aquarius until February 26. Saturn is opposed Venus, although the effect of this angle is waning (the exact aspect was January 27 at 12:52 p.m. PST). Mars is still conjunct Pluto, although the exact conjunction is past (see discussion about this in the entry for January 28, below). On the same day, Jupiter is 4 degrees away from a square to Saturn. The actual square (the first of three) doesn't occur until December 16, 2005 because of the retrograde (backward-appearing) motion of each planet, but this is the closest the two get to the difficult angle until then. Jupiter and Saturn both deal with law, order and justice, but each in its own way. Jupiter is expansive, while Saturn contracts and presents boundaries. Jupiter-Saturn aspects also are connected with the situation in the Middle East. For a closer look at the interaction between Jupiter and Saturn and how they affect world events, see www.noeltyl.com/techniques020829.html.

The Sun is almost conjunct Neptune (exact conjunction is 11:28 a.m. PST on February 3). This aspect offers a close connection to the higher planes and to divine inspiration, but beware of being blinded by illusion and self-deception. The Scorpio Moon and Sun-Neptune conjunction are generally favorable for mystical work. However, the Saturn-Venus opposition and Mars-Pluto conjunction give overtones of possible misuse of power (Mars-Pluto) and emotional frustrations and financial hardships (Venus-Saturn). Meditate on the higher energies of these planets to get their best effects. The Mars-Pluto conjunction can help control and possibly transform the lower desire nature, and it provides tremendous endurance, courage and willpower. The Moon in Scorpio, a sign that also represents willpower and personal transformation, supports this. The Venus-Saturn opposition can work positively for responsibility toward family obligations (Saturn in Cancer), as well as work in altruistic social and environmental causes (Venus in Aquarius).

Lunar Imbolc

Some pagans celebrate Lunar Imbolc, which occurs when the first New Moon appears after the solar Imbolc. This generally coincides with the Chinese New Year, and in 2005 it occurs on February 8 at 2:28 p.m. PST.

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is associated with Imbolc because of the 10-day displacement when Europe switched from a Julian Calendar to a Gregorian Calendar. After several centuries observing the Julian Calendar, the calendar year became out of synch with the actual solar year, and equinoxes and solstices did not coincide with the calendar dates they were supposed to fall on.

When Pope Gregory XIII was elected, he established calendar reform and issued a papal bull establishing what is now called the Gregorian Calendar Reform. Valentine's day slid from Feb 2 to Feb 14. For a complete history of the relationship between Imbolc and Valentine's Day, visit the Web site www.tylwythteg.com/Candlemas.html.

Condensed Ephemeris

The period between Imbolc and the Spring Equinox this year contains many significant celestial events. The following paragraphs list these events and how you can work with the energies involved. I have included a few days with important aspects that occur before Imbolc.

January 25
Full Moon in Leo at 2:32 a.m. PST, and Mercury in Capricorn opposite Saturn in Cancer at 10:04 a.m. PST. The Moon opposes Neptune at 8:59 p.m. PST. With so many oppositions happening today, be especially aware of conflict, and try to achieve balance and harmony between the opposing energies. The Mercury-Saturn opposition needs to balance communication and practicality. It's an aspect that could offer a grounding influence to writings or speeches, provided you can avoid rigidity of thought. Be especially aware of negative thinking and depression during this time. Neptune is usually considered the "higher octave" of the Moon, so the two in opposition presents a challenge to discriminate between visions and illusions, personal desires versus telepathy. Although this opposition happens once a month, combined with a Full Moon and the Mercury-Saturn opposition it could pose a challenge. Be especially careful if you are doing work on the astral plane.
January 27
Mars quincunx (in a 150-degree angle to) Saturn, at 4:24 a.m. PST. The quincunx is neither a difficult nor an easy aspect; rather it presents a choice. Relocation (Sagittarius) to a home (Cancer) in a distant place (Sagittarius, again) can be one of the effects of this aspect, although this by no means is a guarantee. The Sagittarian Mars brings strong religious and philosophical convictions, and combined with Saturn's influence in a conservative sign (Cancer), it could offer an opportunity to meditate or do a ritual focusing on idealism and freedom of thought, to counter rigidity of thinking and fear. On the same day, Venus opposes Saturn (12:52 p.m. PST) and the Moon opposes Uranus (1:39 p.m. PST). You can use the Venus-Saturn opposition to achieve an understanding of your relationships with older people or those in authority. The Moon-Uranus opposition offers a chance to understand emotional instability, especially that of women, or your mother if she was a distant parent. Since these are oppositions and therefore difficult aspects, keep in mind that you need to keep yourself properly grounded and impartial so that you yourself aren't caught up in the conflict.
January 28
Mars conjuncts Pluto at 9:27 a.m. PST. This aspect focuses on an intersection between personal desires and spiritual will. Energies will be very high, but be very careful how you direct them. This aspect could be very good for working in defense of the underprivileged or fighting for a humanitarian cause against the establishment. Typically, Pluto first taps you on the shoulder, points, and says, "Your path is that way." If you choose not to go there, the finger emerges from the clouds and launches you there. (Voluntary choice is so much better, isn't it?)
February 1
Jupiter goes retrograde at 6:26 p.m. PST at 18 degrees Libra, and stays that way until June 5. During this time period, the typical expansive influence of Jupiter will be harder to reach. Oddly enough, difficult aspects of Jupiter tend to make you overconfident. Avoid promising more than you can deliver.
February 2
Venus enters Aquarius at 7:42 a.m. PST. Venus in Aquarius provides an impartial sort of love: a love of humanity in general--brotherly love--as opposed to personal love. This is a good aspect for working together in groups and for humanitarian causes. Venus in Aquarius also represents a love of the unconventional.
February 3
Sun conjuncts Neptune at 11:28 a.m. PST at 15 degrees Aquarius. This can be a good time to meditate on merging with universal consciousness. On the other hand, be sure to keep your feet on the ground and don't lose touch with reality. This aspect is excellent for trying to bring brotherly love and everything Neptunian (idealism, clairvoyance, sensitivity) down to earth. Be sure to demand that the negatives -- suspicion, poison and illusion -- remain behind.
February 6
Mars enters Capricorn at 10:32 a.m. PST. Mars is exalted (powerfully placed) in Capricorn. The organization and discipline of this sign makes the most efficient, practical use of Mars energy. While Mars is in Capricorn (February 6 through March 20), it is a good time to work on professional or business matters or to solidify your financial standing. If you have a problem with anger, ask the Capricorn Mars to teach you how to channel your emotional upheavals constructively.
February 8
Mercury conjuncts Neptune at 15 degrees Aquarius, at 2:10 a.m. PST. This is a good aspect for working with clairvoyance. It is a time of vivid imagination and an awareness of the unconscious mind. This is also a good aspect for photographers. The New Moon occurs at 2:28 p.m. PST, in Aquarius. The New Moon in Aquarius is a good time to begin work that involves group or community efforts, astrology or the practical application of the metaphysical.
February 14
The Sun conjuncts Mercury at 2:50 a.m. PST. Venus conjuncts Neptune at 4:47 p.m. PST. The Sun-Mercury conjunction gives energy to any creative or mental activity, although you should watch for a loss of objectivity due to a close connection of mind (Mercury) with ego (Sun). Communication skills can be improved with the Sun-Mercury conjunction. The Venus-Neptune conjunction enhances spiritual understanding and healing ability. Venus is exalted in Neptune's sign Pisces, so this is an exceptionally good time to work on matters related to music, art and intuition.
February 16
Mercury enters Pisces at 9:46 a.m. PST. This can enhance communication through nonverbal means. I was told once that the best way to communicate with a Pisces is to think at him or her. This is a good time to delve into the ways we communicate without speech.
February 18
The Sun enters Pisces at 5:32 a.m. PST. While the Sun is in Pisces, we can work on developing intuition and sensitivity. The impersonal influence of Aquarius is passing away, and we can make deeper contact with spiritual forces.
February 19
Mercury conjuncts Uranus at 9:44 p.m. PST. Is this a substitute for retrograde (backward-appearing) Mercury? Possibly, since Uranus rules the unexpected, and Mercury rules thought and speech. This conjunction could bring about lightning flashes of intuition. It's a very good time to do work relating to science or electronics (including electricity, but be careful, since Uranus is unpredictable).
February 21
Venus is sextile (in a 60-degree angle to) Pluto at 4:00 p.m. PST. People with power are in a position to help you. Since Venus is in an air sign and Pluto in a fire sign, this is a good time to ask for celestial help in any matter relating to thoughts, ideas, or willpower. Contrast this with the difficult square occurring on March 17.
February 23
The Full Moon is in Virgo at 8:54 p.m. PST. This is an excellent aspect for any kind of healing or work with herbs. Use analytical Virgo energy to delve into details about the subjects you're studying.
February 24
Sun conjuncts Uranus at 10:33 p.m. PST. This conjunction acts similarly to the Mercury-Uranus conjunction on February 19. Once again, this is a good time to work on developing intuition or understanding matters related to science or electronics. It's also a good time to try to synchronize yourself with occult forces so that you can move together with the eye of the hurricane rather than being swept away by it as it passes you.
February 26
Venus enters Pisces at 7:07 a.m. PST. Venus is in Pisces until March 22. During this time, energies are favorable for working on compassion, sympathy and emotional rapport toward all life forms. Venus in Pisces helps bring you in touch with the feelings of others. This is also a good time for any creative work in art, poetry, or music. In order to support this increased sensitivity, it's important also to develop discrimination so that you can maintain an objective perception of reality. Don't let others take advantage of you.
March 3
Mars squares Jupiter 2:14 a.m. PST. Squares (90-degree angles) are very often more difficult than oppositions. You may experience restlessness and a desire for constant activity. The Mars-Jupiter square can lead to fights that border on holy crusades. To use this square constructively, try to refrain from imposing your religious beliefs on others. Balance your feelings of righteousness with impartiality. Use the Venus-in-Pisces influence to try to understand your opponent's point of view. Since the signs of Capricorn and Libra are involved, any projects relating to justice and the law are favored, provided you can maintain perspective and keep your sense of humor.
March 4
Venus conjuncts Uranus at 12:44 a.m. PST. Mercury enters Aries at 5:34 p.m. PST. The Venus-Uranus conjunction can cause you to be attracted (very suddenly) to people you normally wouldn't give the time of day to. Don't make an appointment to see them again on March 17. I know that's St. Patrick's day, but wait for more auspicious circumstances.
March 7
Mars opposes Saturn at 8:15 a.m. PST. Mars says, "Yes," and Saturn says, "No." Saturn says, "Stop," and Mars says, "Go." Wow! So--why is Mars exalted in Saturn's native sign Capricorn? Because once you've tamed that beast (Mars), it'll work hard for you! Today is a good time to harness those wayward impulses (Mars) and channel them into a useful, practical direction (Saturn). This is a good day to meditate on self-control, organization and planning. Remember your New Year's resolutions. Better yet, don't just remember them, do something about them! (See February 6)
March 10
The New Moon falls at 1:10 a.m. PST in Pisces. This is a good time to do a ritual or meditation if you need to be more sensitive to those around you, or if you'd like to be more in tune with your feelings or to work on increasing your psychic sensitivity. It's also a good time for planting.
March 17
Venus squares Pluto at 10:14 p.m. PST. This is not a time to tempt fate. Be very aware of just who you're trying to attract. Venus is in Pisces right now, so be especially discriminating in the kind of person you're nice to--they may not be as innocent or well-meaning as you think they are. It's OK to say no. Really. On another level, this is a good time to get rid of any garbage that may be accumulating in your life.
March 19
Mercury goes retrograde at 4:13 p.m. PST, and stays that way until April 12. Watch your tongue; communication will be difficult and unpredictable! Check and double-check anything you've written to catch any mistakes.
March 20
The Sun enters Aries at 4:33 a.m. PST, Mars enters Aquarius at 10:02 a.m. PST, and tomorrow at 6:54 p.m. PST, Saturn goes direct (ceases to be retrograde). What a day! It's spring!

I welcome feedback on these columns. If you have recommendations or suggestions for future columns, you can contact Anita at sylviafan@juno.com.


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