Identifying Temporal Power Points
There are all sorts of different kinds of power points in time, with different qualities, magnitudes of import and duration: some pinpoint one day as crucial, while others can spread over several years. Different time-scales are involved, calling into play significances and threads originating from last month or from 160 years ago. And their effects can have repercussions which vary in all the little and big departments of life, in every sphere: after all, astrology is a study both of energy, and of the way we humans deal with it.
Magnitudes of power points in time
There are different levels of power point in time, working in the context of different time-spans. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but here are some suggestions. We'll start with the rarer power points, and move to the commoner ones.
When two of the three transformative planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, or even three, form a strong aspect or make a synchronous ingress, we have a major historical power point, in which fundamental new strains of energy emerge, totally new – not merely a development of what was going on before.
Summer solstice, 23rd June 1990: a magnitude 1 power point. Broken aspect lines signify an inexact aspect, though it is still worth bearing in mind. Note also that six planets were in their home signs, and Jupiter is exalted.
In the 570s BCE there was a multiple conjunction of all three, hapwise at the time when Buddha, Pythagoras, Elijah, Mahavira, Confucius and Lao Tzu were alive or being born (closely followed by strings of seminal thinkers and cultural changes in the succeeding centuries), planting the seeds for a new world order.
A more current example, though of a lesser historical magnitude, was the Uranus-Neptune conjunction in 1993 – which historically will be looked on as the time of the birth of Internet, genome manipulation and global systems-integration. Such aspects as these can be strengthened – for they often last over a period of years in immediate effect – by the swinging of other planets into the configuration. Thus, 1989-93, Saturn also moves through a conjunction with Uranus and Neptune, and Jupiter and Chiron, themselves conjuncting in Cancer, jointly form an opposition to them all: a major five-planet line-up. This is a big one, historically.
Major outer planet configurations work to re-stock the collective psyche with new impulses, thought-forms, innovations and images, lying as seeds in the unconscious, waiting for individuals and groups to cotton on to them and embody them in living form as an initiative or new development. These seeds spread out, over years, generations and centuries, until what once was a dream becomes an everyday normality. In this way, deep impulses filter through into cultural and material form, and turn the pages of history.
Thus, the power-period between 1890 and 1907, involving a major line-up of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto on the Gemini-Sagittarius axis, brought forward virtually all of the basic ideas and forms which characterised the 20th Century: flight, petrol engines, telecommunications, widespread use of electricity, the splitting of the atom, Relativity, socialist movements, Theosophy and East-West cultural contact, to name but a few things. The effects of these have unfolded in the decades following those of the early 20th Century.
For more on historic outer planet movements, see The Historical Ephemeris.
A partial solar eclipse on 10th August 1980: magnitude 2. An outer-planet yod, with a more temporary T-square and some other triangles are thrown in.
Other outer planet movements. Around June-August 1980 a configuration of slow planets formed, comprised of a Chiron opposition Uranus at 18 and 19, with two semisextile aspects to Uranus and two quincunx aspects to Chiron from Neptune at 20 and Pluto at 19 (called a yod formation). All of these were aspected by Saturn and Jupiter over these months as they moved through similar degrees of Virgo, themselves approaching a mutual conjunction. Throw in a few extras such as the eclipse newmoon at 18 on 10th August 1980, latched in with a simultaneous Mars conjunct Pluto and we had a very interesting situation! Needless to say, we all survived.
This was a more complex configuration than the multiple opposition mentioned above, yet it formed a chord of energy which was significant for many: a time of choosing life-paths, taking steps and sharpening the issues of the time. From this time on, many of the 'alternative' world-views, activities and lifestyles came out into the open, moving into the social mainstream: healthfood shops opened on the main streets of everytown, the Greenham Common protests activated thousands of women, complementary medicine emerged into public view, and awarenesses which had been lurking underground since the 1960s began a long process of moving into mainstream. These are likely to become mainstream when the Uranus conjunct Pluto of 1965-6 becomes a Uranus square Pluto, around 2014 – seemingly a long time apart, but short in astro-historical terms.
The kind of configuration seen in 1980, involving as it did several of the slower planets, has historical connotations timing the emergence into tangibility of seeds planted earlier. However, it was not as fundamental as a Magnitude 1 configuration, which represents a distinct, major pattern-forming tuming-point, climax or transition. These are different levels of magnitude of historical configurations. More about this in chapters 15 and 16.
17th February 1988: magnitude 3. A Saturn-Uranus conjunction on the winter solstice point was upstepped by Mars and a newmoon two days after the ingress-conjunction.
When Jupiter or Saturn form a strong aspect to one of the outer planets, we have a power point which has significance in terms of shorter-term historical cycles, spanning decades. The power-period itself can last weeks of time, or several months. If other faster planets swing into this, if there is a new or full moon involved, or if this aspect is combined with an ingress (as with a Jupiter conjunct Neptune exactly on 0 on 20th January 1984), then it will be strengthened, or more acute in power. These kinds of aspects from Jupiter and Saturn draw deeper currents from the transformative planets, from the Unknown, into the realm of the known –in society, structures, politics, culture and around quite concrete issues.
Good examples were the Saturn conjunct Uranus in February 1988 (an ingress too, at 0) and October 88, and the Saturn conjunct Neptune in February and November 1989. These took part in the larger configuration in Capricorn in the early 1990s, though they were significant in themselves. They brought a strong tide of doubt in authority, and public acceptance of ideas which, to that point, had been regarded as unworkable or way-out. They threatened established structures severely. Saturn to outer planet cycles last 35-40 years, and Jupiter ones last 13-15 years.
The inter-aspects of Jupiter, Saturn and Chiron are well worth watching, especially if featured by added energy from other planets or phenomena. Here we are dealing with cycles involving decades, and aspects affecting periods of weeks and months. Jupiter and Saturn conjoin one another once every 20 years, while they interact with Chiron variably, since Chiron moves eccentrically (at very varying speeds).
24 March 1986: magnitude 4. A grand cross forms briefly, a few days after spring equinox and just before fullmoon. Otherwise, it's a longer-term T-square. There's a cradle there too. Not all aspects formed here are drawn in.
An interesting configuration came up during the first writing of this book, in March 1986, in which Jupiter formed a square from Pisces to a Saturn opposition Chiron, spanning Sagittarius-Gemini. During this period, many people underwent major dilemmas over money, committee decisions, organisational questions and the grounding of visions. During this time, also, the Euro-American alliance of the time went through interesting rumblings, showing cracks in what until then had been regarded as an everlasting partnership of shared interest. In 1987-88 Saturn pulled into a Chiron opposition Uranus, further accentuating the theme of organisational changes.
When there is a multiple line-up or configuration of faster-moving planets, perhaps bringing in the odd slower one too, a lot of energy can fly around: this can make it a peak time for certain kinds of activities, or for certain issues to arise in the world. The quality of energy in a multiple configuration varies according to the planets and aspects involved.
A few examples. On the fullmoon of 5th April 1985, Sun, Mercury and Venus were in conjunction at 12-15, opposed by Moon at 15, and activating Jupiter at 11, Mars at 15 (a cross-quarter point) and Uranus at 17 – all involving many aspects and a lot of frenetic rushing around!
Another example was a newmoon-plus-three planets, plus Halley's Comet, all in Aquarius in February 1986, a hot time for groups, conferences and all manner of associations to work out their issues, and a strange time for being alone (chapter 10). In January 1994 came a seven-planet line-up in Capricorn, lasting around one week, during which time forest fires threatened Australia and torrents and deluges threatened Europe. This kind of magnitude of multi-planet configuration occurs once every few years, always uniquely and differently each time. Such periods bring times of intensity.
During the big outer-planet multiple opposition between Capricorn and Cancer in 1989, mentioned above, a smaller configuration came into play to feature the larger issues in a very specific way: the newmoon on 26 March 1990, with Mercury conjuncting it in Aries, formed a square to the major oppositional axis, while a Mars-Venus conjunction in Aquarius, squaring Pluto, unrelated yet synchronous, joined in, to make what was, for those few days, an intensely hair-raising situation! This played itself out in the context of the larger scenarios of the time.
Another example is the 'Harmonic Convergence' date of 17 August 1987. Here, Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars all conjuncted closely in Leo, forming trines to Jupiter in Aries and Saturn-Uranus in Sagittarius. This was promised to be a time when 144,000 rainbow dancers would awaken planet Earth. For some it was a veritable peak experience, and others weren't so sure. It marked a financial market peak leading to a crash a few months later. This was a breakthrough time for the new practice of internationally coordinated meditations too. Later in August, the planets in Leo all moved into Virgo. I was running a series of consciousness-raising camps at the time (which turned out to be momentous) and, seeing this multiple ingress, we planned a Music and Dance camp while the planets were in Leo, and an Arts and Crafts camp when they moved into Virgo. This worked well.
Powerful new or full moons. These can be powerful because there are one or more other planets involved (not too uncommon, a few times per year), because it is an eclipse, and thereby extra strong, or because the new or full moon is falling on a critical zodiacal point. An example of the last was the fullmoon of 21 June 1986, which took place but hours after the exact summer solstice – the ingress of Sun from Gemini into Cancer. Energy-peaks such as these last for days only, but they can be highly energetic and significant in a shorter-term perspective.
Such times can unlock an energy which then emerges further as time progresses. An example was the Scorpio new moon of 1986, which unlocked a powerful confrontational energy, manifested publicly in a chemicals spill in the Rhine, an outburst of AIDS paranoia/awareness, the exposure of the British secret service MI5 in an Australian court and the exposure of the US government over the Iran-Contra afffair. Busy times!
Eclipses. The moon wobbles 5° north and south of the ecliptic during its moonly journey, but if a new or full moon takes place exactly when Moon is crossing the ecliptic, it will be lined up so precisely with Sun that it either passes in front of Sun at newmoon, partially or occasionally totally obliterating it, or it passes into the shadow of Earth at fullmoon, being eclipsed by it. Note: a solar eclipse happens at a newmoon, and a lunar eclipse at a fullmoon. Eclipses and the days around them always turn out to be extra-strong turning-points, super-significant lunations, and at their precise time, nature slows down, the atmosphere calms uncannily, and the timeless yawns wide. At a lunar eclipse we have the opportunity to see a full cycle of lunar phases in around one hour – a profound experience to have if you are in a good position to observe and celebrate it.
Eclipses occur in different degrees of exaction – a total eclipse will make the Moon virtually disappear, while a partial eclipse can take a shadowy bite out of it or make Moon turn red. Total eclipses of the Sun are less common than those of the Moon, because the Earth's shadow, which causes lunar eclipses, is wide, possessing a greater chance of eclipsing the Moon than the Moon has of passing exactly in front of Sun. Solar eclipses can be seen only from certain bands of localities around the world, not globally. The periods (of around two weeks) between successive eclipses (new and full moons) can be particularly intense, crucial and energised.
What you choose to do during an eclipse is secondary: the important thing is the consciousness with which you do it. It is well worth observing and consciously participating in eclipses: the ancients put great store by predicting and observing them magically (contrary to the image of helpless savages running in fear when the sky went dark!). They saw their potency. In my experience, they are key times for setting resolutions for one's life, and the rather odd thoughts and experiences one can have immediately around eclipses can be oracular and pattern-setting.
Simple and single power points, lasting but hours or days, yet, within their own area of life, having considerable significances as peaks of energy, as challenges or turning-points on a shorter-term basis. There are several different kinds of such power points.
Times when the Sun moves over one of the solstice or equinox points or the cross-quarters, mark major shifts of energy, time and theme in the context of the cycle of the year. Solstices are particularly good times for standing back from life, and looking at what we are really seeking from it for the coming year – plus a celebration of our aliveness. Equinoxes are better for empowering and enabling ourselves and others to move forward, make steps, or change our way of being engaged in our lives. Cross-quarters are times when things are really happening: they have a 'this is it' feeling to them – in the midst of the action, it is good at these times to reflect on what is behind it all to check our alignment and attunement, and to carry things through to where they are going.
Sign ingresses often liberate energy by changing the theme and subtle atmospheric taste of life, and thereby laying open new possibilities, new standpoints, new facets and twists of life previously unseen. These are lesser power points, but they can augment the energy of any other phenomenon taking place at the time, giving a shade of meaning which has to do with the contrast of significance of one sign to another. These can be ingresses of Sun or any of the other faster planets into a new sign.
When Sun is in a strong aspect to another planet or a few of them – particularly a conjunction, opposition or square – then there is energy around which is worth joining in with.
It can be good to observe these phenomena, and look back at what went on at earlier times in the year when preceding strong aspects were happening. Sun activates the life-energy within whatever issues are being explored in connection with any other contacted planet – if Jupiter is cooking a situation, Sun can give it an extra shove. This is strengthened when such an aspect is backed up by a noticeable moonphase – often the energy in the time is fully released only when the moon's aspect to the planet(s) in question becomes exact. Solar aspects are noticeable for around 2-4 days before and after they take place.
When Mercury, Venus or Mars form strong aspects to each other or to any of the slower moving planets, or when they in turn hit quarter-points or cross-quarters or change signs, energy is available in their specific areas of life. Thus, a Venus opposition Mars can make for a general emotional flurry (check the signs involved) wherein relationship issues get heated or pinpointed; a Mercury-Venus conjunction makes for lively interchange, social contact and a good time for parties or meetings; a Mars square Saturn is excellent for hard work or facing up to difficult, grindstone-like issues; during a Venus opposition Saturn it is good to accept that sometimes we are all alone, and it's alright; when there is a Mercury conjunct Pluto some truths and unspoken messages must be had out; and when there is a Mercury-Uranus conjunction, so much mental energy can fly around that sleeping, logicalities or simplicity are hard to come by; on a Mars square Jupiter, a lot of force is about, but when there is a Venus conjunct Neptune, things can be peaceful, beautiful and almost romantic. The effects of such phenomena can be around for a few days, sometimes more, and can influence longterm developments through acting as crux-points within larger cycles.
Other contributing factors which create power points in time are:
- the stations of the planets (when they stop and turn either retrograde or direct);
- configurations of planets which do not shout loudly from a technical astrological point of view, but which form concentrations in certain signs or types of signs (such as a lot of action in mutable signs, or a focusing on three consecutive signs, or a featuring of signs of the same element, or several separate phenomena taking place synchronously, yet unrelated to each other);
- arrays without major aspects, but possessing a balance or pattern which stands out (such as the general spread of outer planets in three signs, Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn in 1984, backed up by seasonal visitations from faster planets);
- ongoing periods when there is a lot of activity in general (such as 13 March to 5 April 1985, when there was an extraordinarily large number of everyday aspects going on, eighteen in all, plus four stations, spring equinox and the back-end of a Jupiter square Pluto! Check this out in your ephemeris).
All sorts of variants can occur over time. The interesting thing is their uniqueness, and the sometimes uncanny synchronicities of theme or atmosphere which can come about – as if the Grand Old Dancemaster up there were deliberately flipping through his cranial ephemeris and cooking up interesting configurations to entertain those people down there and test their capacity to turn from energy-victimhood to mastery of creation. Keep your eyes on your ephemeris!
There are no hard and fast rules to the identification of power points, though many guidelines have been given above. It is well to use a flexibility of thought and openness to possibilities when looking for power points, since planetary motions are always so unique. Also, it is important not to set out to predict specifically what is likely to happen at a power point in time: it is far more valid to seek to see the kinds of openings it might offer, or to consciously make ourselves receptive to what might arise.
For here we are seeking to allow the Unknown to come into our lives, and to entrust ourselves to the power of life, if we will but open to it. It always provides us with what we need, even if we think our needs are otherwise. There is a subtle yet crucial attitudinal and emotional difference between using astrology to stave off things we fear, and using it as a way of opening to life.
Power points do not even need to be identified in advance – though, obviously, peering ahead in the ephemeris is always worthwhile. If you are functioning receptively, in your magical self, you will find yourself intuitively using energy-peaks to advantage, whether you know of them or not – though understanding something of their astrological qualities and details really helps work with them. Noting power points retrospectively helps us learn from life, giving new insights into the significance of things which we have experienced, and also, through this, it gives memorable living data by which to learn astrology, time and energy. Looking into the future needs to be done without prejudice, without the need to want things to be a certain way. But the big question is understanding and grasping the present.
Sometimes these power points can be spread out over time – for example, a sequence of separate astrological events over a few days or weeks, which quicken energy and precipitate situations demanding resolution. Or a sequence of related events, such as Sun then Mercury moving into Gemini, followed by a conjunction of the two, followed by a newmoon involving both. Astrological phenomena, as well as life experiences, cannot be looked at in isolation: they link up, even if we see the linkage only after the event.
A new way of life
It is well worth contemplating the benefits of planning your life around natural timings – as much as life in the modem world permits. To modern people, Monday Morning is Monday Morning, regardless of the astrological configurations going on, but there comes a point where, if we are going to live sanely and sensitively, we need to allow our time to be more flexible – otherwise all sorts of mishaps can occur, since we work out of tune and sometimes in conflict with changing time-energies.
Just as the world needs ecological healing, so it also needs chronological healing too. It is regularly a good thing to relax for a day or two either before or after a fullmoon, and perhaps later to work late when Mercury, Mars and Saturn are contacting each other and demanding work – for then we are able to make use of time much more effectively, and our lives become easier and more productive. Obeying modern work ethics does not necessarily get the work done faster or easier – it just increases the worry, bustle, complexity and blindness which can disturb our lives daily, adding layer upon layer of intricacy and stress at every turn.
In England, a few decades ago, there was a sign placed at railway level crossings, which said, quite simply: "STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN". This speaks volumes.
Power points are not only places and times for making personal progress. We owe it to life and the world to care for them, for the world is not simply a stage upon which to act out our individual movies – it is a being with a life of its own, on whose skin we live and crawl around, sucking her blood and giving sewage back. Time is not merely a simplistic ticking continuum through which we carve our personal histories – it is a medium of psycho-evolution, an ongoing, undulating flow of change within which we enact the whole of human history and the evolution of consciousness. Every act we make, word we speak and thought we think has meaning in this stream.
Especially at energy peaks. The wholesome thoughts and feelings we can generate at these times have greater than normal power, as also have the not-so-wholesome ones. The stillness and timelessness we can find within time is an access point to the fundamental secret of all life, and power points in time and space are places where such access is assisted. "The Tao which can be spoken of is not the eternal truth: the one who speaks of it does not know, and the person who knows does not speak".
Lao Tzu's radical teaching points to a fundamental secret within astrology, which nowadays is often missed: through living in time, we can come to an ultimate experience of what lies beyond time. This experience has the power to heal all ills.
The ancients used power points in time because they gave them access to the inner planes, to psychic communication, seership, healing, causative magical work and to active participation in deeper energies. Many power places on Earth exist to gather or transmit energy from and to the wider universe, or to do the same horizontally with regard to the landscape around.
Some of them, such as 'hillforts', henges and 'burial chambers', were specifically built to insulate the spiritual practitioner from the complex energies of the landscape and the world, in order to foster the development of psychic abilities or spiritual illuminations. These were used at power points in time, which themselves endow a raising or sharpening of energy which, when met with deliberate consciousness-raising, can make for quantum changes in all directions. This kind of work involves our own soul and personality, our local environment and those we share such experiences with, the wider world, and the Beyond, simultaneously and multi-dimensionally.
On a short-term basis, every dawn and sunset is a power point in time. Sometimes these can be major or memorable, leaving an indelible imprint. To extend our hands to the Sun and welcome it into our lives internalises it, and opens us to its life-current. Sun rising and setting is such a common thing, yet sometimes the experience is uncommon and stirring. A simple attitude of reverence for time, nature and the living of life does amazing things: oneness is more than just a nice idea.