One of my favorite Van Morrison songs is called Fire in the Belly. A song that celebrates a new love and lease on life. Van enthuses: “Stoke up my engine, bring me my driving wheel/Once I get started you’ll see just how I feel.” But then, as if from a forgotten footnote, a warning arises in the chorus: First, we have to “get through January”, and then “get through February.” Oh, right. Spring is a couple of months away. Now what?
That chorus acknowledges slogging. What this time of year can feel like for some of us. The Winter Solstice, with its promise of increased light, has come (and gone). Christmas has peaked; and that quiet, prolonged communal ‘time out’ within December is spent. While the excitement and promise of a New Year has — admit it — started to wane.
So where are we exactly?
T.S. Eliot wrote about this lull and called it ‘midwinter spring.’ As if this period were its own customary time of the year. From the section titled Little Gidding in his Four Quartets, he describes this seasonally ambiguous zone:
What a mysterious notion: “This is spring time but not in time’s covenant.” Time has been rearranged. Taken out of phase. And this is what the Sun’s passage through Aquarius and Pisces mirrors within our private and communal experience. We’re in time but also not in time. Here. But not here. Haven’t you noticed this lately? You start something but then feel the urge to take a nap moments later — and forget about the whole project. Or you find yourself focused and channeling your muse at the oddest moments of the evening. Forget going back to bed. Time feels one step removed.
If you need an image: Picture a bear deep in hibernation. Asleep, but so much mysteriously at work in the dream and nature realm. Midwinter spring redefines corporeal time; and fosters our ability to imagine and cull insight from what the Buddhists call Great Time, or the Eternal Now. The experience of time as singular; a one-pointed dynamism — free from the divisions of past, present and future. It is Great Time that Eliot explores through myriad poetic permutations in Four Quartets. The most cryptic of which appear in Little Gidding.
The two signs of the Zodiac that mirror the reality of Great Time are Aquarius and Pisces. And as the Sun nudges out of Capricorn today (the pennacle of Saturn-defined time), heading into Aquarius, we are ‘entering’ midwinter spring. Are you prepared? Not sure, well, observe your Aquarius or Pisces friends. You’ll recognize this unique relationship to time, when you consider their approach to life. Both signs live as if they were exempt from the laws and concepts that structure quotidian existence for the rest of us. They follow, often unconsciously, their own unique time rhythms.
Aquarians experience time as a constant negotiation with the future. Meaning, they are on the look out for what the rest of us aren’t even aware of yet. That which is to come. They are frontrunners in the art of evolution. While Pisceans experience time as a compendium of every event that has transpired in history. Like a mass of clay, time’s products can be fashioned into something startlingly beautiful or healing. Consider what Einstein (a Pisces) did with the notion of time he’d ‘inherited’ from the scientific community. Both Aquarius and Pisces are ‘not in time’s covenant’, or you could say, are not in lockstep with consensus reality. We need to understand their unique orientation and we need to learn to experience that ‘time sense’ in our own lives at this time.
And tonight’s Full Moon echoes this theme as well.
Like December’s Solstice lunation, today’s Full Moon occurs in another anaretic degree — at the 29th degree of Cancer. With the Sun, of course, at the 29th degree of Capricorn. Add to this Jupiter’s transition through the 29th degree of Pisces, paving the way for Uranus’ much-anticipated ingress into Aries. What are ‘anaretic degrees’ and what do they symbolize?
Anareta comes from the Greeks and means ‘destroyer’. And I’ve developed my own understanding of the anaretic degrees, a view that differs from the ominous spins of Medieval astrology. Let’s see if I can explain how I work with these remarkable points.
Planets poised at the end degree of any sign are unusually potent and (usually) disencumbered; meaning they are free of aspects (relationships) with other planets — which strengthens their core meaning, no other mitigating factors touch them. They are the pure essence of their energetic jurisdiction and they are free from time (which the Zodiac contains and measures). Transitioning from one sign to another, they become, in a sense, timeless. They are just pure Jupiter, or pure Moon, or pure Sun. Symbolically at least.
Think of tonight’s Full Moon as the opportunity to align, in a visceral way, with a vision of your particular mission — your unique expression — for the year ahead. With an anaretic Full Moon you’ve the potent solar consciousness perfectly balanced with the lunar capacity to channel and mold your vision into something substantial. Bringing ‘fire to the belly’ is Jupiter. Ask yourself what delivers and sustains inspiration in your life. This is akin to what the twelve-step programs call a “higher power”. Source or God or True Nature — as applied through meditation, contemplation and practice. The ingress of Jupiter into Aries mirrors a contagious and unfettered enthusiasm — the burst of springtime buds, an unlimited capacity for love, undaunted courage, zest and zeal. But the footnote warns: Without an aim, a guiding principle to align with, your efforts can become scattershot and short-lived.
Of all the anaretic points within the zodiac, the 29th degree of Pisces is like an anaretic-anaretic zone. Not only the last degree of a sign, but also the last degree of the wheel. Dane Rudhyar associates this point with archetypalization. He defines this as the “power of clearly visualized ideals to mold the life of the visualizer. This power can be developed… when the emotions and the will are poured into the visualized mental image.”
So this is quite a promise. Quite an inception. “Stoke up my engine, bring me my driving wheel/Once I get started you’ll see just how I feel.” Wow. Yes. You can feel it. But where we find ourselves now, within the body of time, is the soft but stark and mysterious containment of midwinter springtime. It’s like an alchemist’s retort, that glass vessel used for distillation and sublimation, a place where the power of fire can be tempered into a constructive, creative intention. Let it cook, let it simmer — you’ve got the rest of January, the rest of February, to finesse your vision.