FROM EQUINOX TO EQUINOX:
The Celestial Forecast
By Marianne Jacuzzi
M.A., E-RYT 500, Jyotish Visharada, Jyotish Kovid, Jyotish Brihaspati
Spring Equinox heralds new beginnings. In the cycles of eternal return governed by Surya and Chandra—king and queen of our earthly plane—increasing light follows predictable patterns. This annual boon from Surya we can trust. Sunlight enlivens the prana that generates life. Each spring, all of nature (which includes us) receives a surge of vitality, a growing energy that inspires creativity, fresh vision, and above all hope. Surya, who represents identity in the astrological chart, in his highest vibration corresponds to the Atman. Hearts open to this core reality will understand that every day is a divine gift to savour, replete with opportunity. The fleeting perfume of each moment leaves a trail, which when followed leads to its origin in Ultimate Source—because behind the chaos and turmoil of our broken world is a Reality that transcends impermanence, an Ultimate Reality out of which we come and back to which we return. Though the months ahead betoken a fair amount of worldly challenge, it’s important to remember that there is nothing to fear. As St. Julian of Norwich said long ago—“All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.
THE DOMINANCE OF SATURN
In January, Saturn changed signs. Though his movement into Aquarius inaugurated a major energetic shift going forward, how that will unfold depends upon conditions already set in place during his sojourn through Capricorn. Karma functions according to action and reaction; nothing occurs out of a vacuum. As sthira air, Aquarius signifies fixed ideologies, thought organised into rigid categories and reified into firmly-held beliefs. Opposite Leo, sign of the king, it also represents revolt against authority. It’s about power to the people, to the downtrodden and oppressed. Just as the covid pandemic began as Saturn entered Capricorn, so did it end more or less with Saturn’s departure. During that transit, authorities exerted control over populations never seen before in free democracies. Rampant fear—the hallmark of Saturn—allowed people to accept vaccine mandates, censorship, business and school closures, even the closure of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Though much of that is fading into memory, it still forms the backdrop against which Saturn in Aquarius will operate.
As the acute phase of the covid restrictions passed in the spring of 2022, the war in Ukraine erupted with Mars joining Saturn in Capricorn. Inflation, shortages of food, skyrocketing fuel prices and economic hardship followed. Saturn contracts; he teaches through suffering and denial. Obviously, the war presents a major threat to world stability, not to mention devastation for those directly involved. War, economic volatility, and the aftermath of the pandemic are the conditions in place as Saturn begins his long sojourn through Aquarius. The revolutionary spirit of Aquarius will stir things up, particularly with efforts to seek truth and justice. As truth emerges about the side-effects of the vaccines, the cover-ups and the propaganda—the Twitter files being a recent example—resistance against authority will gain momentum. Truth will begin to emerge about the war as well, with covert operations concealed from the public under veils of secrecy and relentless propaganda (on both sides) investigated and exposed. Aquarius generates struggle against injustices, and so grass-roots movements against corrupt power will continue to expand in the months ahead in many places of the world.
On March 14th, Saturn entered the nakshatra of Shatabisha. The complex energy of this star constellation will colour the effects of Saturn for most of 2023. It’s a beautiful nakshatra, but with a dark side as well. A demon nakshatra governed by Rahu and located in Aquarius, where Saturn is lord and Rahu is sub-lord, its malefic energy is intense. Rahu’s influence generates a kind of missionary zeal, the determination to defeat enemies and obtain victory . . but at what cost, one asks. Just as the pandemic created extreme polarisation within nations, the war has created extreme polarisation between nations, galvanising the West, reigniting the cohesiveness of NATO even as the Russians and Chinese come closer together in opposition to the West. Righteous determination enflames all sides, blinding them to the possibility that the other may have reason too. Fixed air is not attuned to nuanced thinking. As ideological battles play out in the media and minds of leaders, pawns on the battlefield commit atrocities, which would be unthinkable without the propaganda of rigid ideologies undermining their humanity. Saturn can be cruel, and that effect upon the minds of many is impacting the entire world. The war has brought great suffering to many, many people. The deprivations experienced in Western Europe and North America are nothing compared to those that people living in the war zone have endured. Children in particular have suffered, with their formative years darkened by unspeakable tragedy. Intense trauma leaves an indelible mark, actually altering DNA, a grief which passes down to descendants, some say for seven generations. Modern science has demonstrated the truth in this ancient belief. And though healing is always possible, karma set in motion by this war will scar the lives of many for a long time to come.
In the months ahead, the war will drag on, possibly worsening, possibly involving more nations directly. The volatility of fire is acute. From Aquarius, Saturn aspects both of Mars’s signs, Aries and Scorpio. He also aspects Leo, the sign of the Sun. The celestial warrior, Mars is a hot, pitta planet, irascible when irritated and prone to violence. And though Scorpio is a water sign, it belongs to Mars, whose fire can bring it to the boiling point. Aries and Leo are both fire signs. These three signs will remain as trigger points throughout Saturn’s time in Aquarius, flaring up as malefic planets pass through and receive the aspect of Saturn. That is happening right now, in fact, with Rahu in Aries receiving Saturn’s aspect from Aquarius. In addition, Saturn in Aquarius and Rahu in Aries form a Papakatari Yoga around Pisces, compromising the conciliatory energy of Jupiter, who’s still at home in Pisces. (Venus’s recent passage through his exhalation sign of Pisces and conjunction there with Jupiter—an alignment of sublime luminosity—was also diminished by the Papakatari Yoga.) From his position in Aries, which lasts for most of 2023, Rahu with his trine aspect also aspects all the fire signs. And throughout 2023, Mercury will retrograde in the fire signs. That is a lot of fire! Unfortunately, I believe we won’t see the end of this war anytime soon, and only hope it’s not WWIII beginning!
Just as these alignments affect nations, so will they bring a similar energy to individuals, families and communities.“Wars” can certainly play out in personal relationships, and those with key planets in those trigger point signs need to be attentive to anger levels this year. However, we have the power, with the insight of Jyotish, to refine that energy and channel it towards higher purpose. Remedies can transform, particularly when performed as sadhana. Meditate upon the sublime side of Saturn, lord of yoga, who bequeaths ultimate wisdom to those who can understand the profound truth at the heart of his teaching. Suffering is grace when it reveals the ephemerality of material forms, when it loosens attachment to all things impermanent—in particular, the hardest nut of all to crack, the delusion of the autonomous ego encased in skin. Meditate upon the sublime side of fire, exemplified by an enlightened Mars and Sun. Fire purifies and transforms. It can ignite the inner fire of spiritual discipline—called tapas, one of the niyamas of classical yoga. There’s nothing to fear about these alignments for those who understand the ultimate purpose of our earthly sojourn. Remember Arjuna, whose spiritual evolution began and ended on a battlefield, but whose real battle involved the warring factions of his own mind.
SHATABISHA - NEW THEMES GAINING MOMENTUM
With Varuna, the ancient Vedic god of water as its ruling deity and a “hundred physicians” its guiding image, Shatabisha denotes significant trends for the months ahead. It is a chara nakshatra, moveable and ephemeral in quality, with the Vata nature of both Saturn (through Aquarius) and Rahu (through Shatabisha) dominant. All this Vata will accelerate the momentum for change already set in motion by the revolutionary spirit of Saturn strong in Aquarius. Financial markets (and also the personal fortunes of many) will experience increased volatility—highs and lows. With the astute manipulator Rahu manifesting through the aggressive energy of Aries, some individuals will amass great wealth, while most people will continue to feel the pinch of deprivation. Out of this inherent imbalance, the moveable, ephemeral nature of Shatabisha could initiate swift, dramatic change. Aquarius promotes innovation, a progressive energy that shapes new ways of being. Because of the involvement of Mars and Mercury, this could manifest as brand-new revolutionary technology.
Mars is the engineer, and particularly when aligned with the intellect of Mercury, his talent for invention becomes activated. Mercury enters Aries on March 31st, and because of his retrograde cycle (22 April to 15 May) will remain in Aries until June 7th. That’s over two months of Mercury, the shrewd financier, in Aries with Rahu, both manifesting through Mars’s moolatrikona sign of Aries and receiving Saturn’s direct aspect from Aquarius. In addition, until May 11th, Mars will be in Gemini, so in exchange with Mercury. The energy of Mars and Mercury coming together so prominently is a classic indication for technological invention. At the same time, Rahu provides momentum—the fuel of obsessive desire—and Saturn contributes an element of control and constriction. Given the current climate of economic strain and turmoil, all these forces coming together should accelerate the establishment of CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency)—a plan to revolutionise the global monetary system. In keeping with the themes of the covid years, this novel innovation will present as an easy solution, marketed as a safeguard providing financial security, just as vaccines were marketed to provide protection from covid. Making transactions simpler and more secure, they say . . . it will lead us back to the happier days of “normality”. . . only now even better.
Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing! The influence of Saturn and Rahu in synergy is not to be underestimated. The digitalisation of money controlled by Central Banks means ever increasing surveillance and loss of liberty. Saturn vibrating at a low frequency erects controls and structures in an attempt to safeguard against rampant fear. As an undercurrent of fear already permeates the general population, so can those in power who pull the strings establish “protections” with ever greater impunity. In addition to CBDC, these same energies are generating another sinister development. A treaty granting the WHO power to determine pandemic policies, to be enforced globally and undermining the authority of local jurisdictions, is being drawn up, with many nations apparently signing. Once again, this is power consolidating centrally and gaining control over populations under the guise of safety. However, Saturn in Aquarius is also the contrarian, generating a spirit of resistance, a powerful counter force. It will rise up too. With all these factors coming together, conflict, protests and violence could erupt in many places.
On the positive side, Shatabisha emanates also a potent healing energy. It bestows the gift of the healing arts, which restore, uplift, and make whole. The image of a hundred physicians reflects in kaleidoscopic manner the image of a hundred stars or a hundred flowers, each one, like the petals of the lotus, latent with an exhilarating mystical medicine. Both literally and metaphorically, Shatabisha is a healing nakshatra. Its image of the water-bearer pouring water from his sacred jug carries hidden meaning. For that water is also amrita, the divine nectar of immortality that flows forth from the depth of the cosmic ocean or from the distillation of kundalini energy in the body of spiritual adepts. It brings the ultimate healing of divine wisdom, of dissolution into the Absolute. This powerful energy will flow forth under the activation of Shatabisha this year. In terms of the world, some very exciting advances in the fields of energy healing, epigenetics and functional medicine will gain ground under this influence. With Aquarius promoting innovation and technology as well, a real paradigm shift could revolutionise the practice of medicine. It’s a great time for making a serious commitment to health, adhering to a sattvic diet, exercising in nature, deepening in meditation, cultivating rest and nurturing relationships—as well as considering some of the new healing modalities of regenerative medicine. In terms of our spiritual evolution, Shatabisha offers many supports. As Varuna stirs the cosmic waters, the kundalini quickens and flows—for those steadfast in sadhana and tuned to his subtle powers.
MARCH AND APRIL
A New Moon in Uttara Bhadrapada occurs on March 21st, at the time of the Spring Equinox. Both phenomena signify new beginnings and will inaugurate in many ways the themes that will continue to develop throughout the year. This New Moon occurs at 6° Pisces. At the same time, Venus and Rahu form an exact conjunction at 11° Aries. Meanwhile, Saturn at 7° Aquarius casts a tight dristi upon the Venus-Rahu conjunction, while Jupiter remains hemmed between Aries and Aquarius in a Papakatari Yoga, which compromises his ability to offer relief, and Mercury debilitated and combust has little to offer as well. This sudden surge of malefic energy upon Venus, who recently departed his sign of exaltation, could indicate a swift decline for all the things Venus indicates. It’s not a time for romance to flourish, nor for luxuries, vehicles and the finer things of the material world to flow. In terms of the world, it could precipitate a downturn in the economy or an acceleration of the war, both inherently volatile situations for the months to come.
The next New Moon, in Ashwini on 20 April, portends an even greater upheaval, with many powerful alignments occurring within days of each other. First of all, it’s a Total Solar Eclipse, occurring at 5° Aries, where Sun is not far from his exact degree of exaltation. Mercury, who joins Rahu and the luminaries in Aries, forms a Parivartana Yoga with Mars who is in Gemini. Expect an unleashing of innovation in many areas of life to follow, and for you personally change occurring according to which houses will feel the impact of this energy. It most likely will unfold with an unusual, unpredictable twist. The eclipse itself has a twist, being a rare hybrid, a Total Solar Eclipse that for a brief moment will display a ring of fire, just like an Annular Eclipse. This eclipse promises strange happenings—a surprise difficult to anticipate. Its degree point then becomes a powerful trigger for planets transiting over it in the weeks and perhaps months to come. Expect more strange happenings to follow.
Concurrent with the solar eclipse, Jupiter is at 29° Pisces, deep into the gandanta point between Pisces and Aries, the crossing over from water to fire. For the world, this transit forebodes uncertainty and caution. Gandanta creates a gap in the fabric of manifest consciousness, which occurs at three places round the zodiac, wherever a water sign ends and a fire sign begins. It’s a vulnerable space. At every other transition from one sign into the next, a nakshatra overlaps the juncture, filling the gap with whatever quality of manifest reality that nakshatra represents. Not so between water and fire; here the manifestation recedes. At the end of water, the nakshatras culminate on the same degree as the signs, and so a space—a bit like the edge of a precipice—opens up. Whatever planet may be transiting over that gap can fall into the abyss of undifferentiated consciousness, and for a very brief moment be held in its thrall, precipitating transcendent vision or psychic meltdown. The gandanta between Pisces and Aries also marks the end and beginning of the entire zodiac. It’s the alpha and omega point of time and space.
This year when Jupiter crosses through, his twelve-year cycle round the zodiac comes to a close and a new one begins. This is highly significant for our world! Literally, gandanta means knot, a spiritual knot that provides profound opportunities for spiritual advancement, along with worldly challenge, confusion and turmoil. At 29° of Pisces, Jupiter will be drowning—in water as deep as possible—suggesting both dissolution into the vast ocean of Pure Consciousness as well tidal waves of elemental force overwhelming his equilibrium around ethics, righteousness and justice. Whatever way this falls in the world, it’s another critical juncture in the unfolding of karma for everyone. Study your chart to understand the role of Jupiter and the significance of Pisces and Aries for you.
The next day, 21st of April, Mercury turns retrograde in Aries, where his energy combining with Mars and Rahu more forcefully will further both technological advancements as well as a possible escalation of war. Then on April 22nd, Jupiter also enters Aries, another major shift in the celestial landscape. Until 22 June, Jupiter will transit through the nakshatra Ashwini, whose deities, the Ashwini Kumars, are celestial physicians, experts in herbs and healing. Jupiter activating Ashwini adds confluence to Saturn activating Shatabisha. And so everything related to healing receives momentum from the two giants of our solar system during May and June.
Together with Rahu, Jupiter forms a Guru-Chandala Yoga, which will last throughout 2023. Expressed through the fiery medium of Aries and receiving always an aspect from Saturn in revolutionary Aquarius, it’s an explosive yoga. Jupiter and Rahu represent clashing energies, with Jupiter the upholder of dharma and Rahu the opportunist, intoxicated with power and expediency. Revolt against power structures will intensify, with ripples of unrest disturbing social equilibrium. Times of particular sensitivity will be May 14 to 17, when Jupiter crosses over the degree of the Total Solar Eclipse, and on September 4th, when he turns retrograde.
Individuals will experience this energy as internal conflict, life coming up to a crossroads, with decisions about relationships, careers, moving house, even moving country, all feeling confusing and imminent. With Rahu comes a desire to break free of all constrictions. With Jupiter comes a yearning for the stability of harmonious, civilised forms. But the outcome for many could be anything but civilised. Rahu’s shadow upon Jupiter creates distorted judgement, disorientation, and a darkening of his usual optimism—particularly with Saturn’s stern gaze upon both of them. But Rahu and Jupiter in conjunction can also inspire out-of-the-box thinking. The question to ask, as always, is to what purpose? Wild and wonderful things are possible! Both individuals and nations need to cultivate acute discernment in order to foresee the consequences of the many changes coming. On all levels, what lies ahead is a “Brave New World”. The three pillars of Kriya Yoga, as delineated by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, can best prepare us with the mental alacrity and necessary insight to respond skilfully to these challenging times. They are tapas (spiritual practice), svadyaya (study) and ishvara pranidhana (surrender to the Cosmic Will).
Lest you think it’s all doom and gloom ahead, remember, the universe always provides windows of opportunity! Brief it may be, but a surge of glorious energy will rain down from the heavens on April 22nd also, with nourishment for body and soul. So carpe diem, seize the day! It’s Akshaya Tritiya, a sacred day dedicated to the worship of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, sustainer of life and provider of abundance—both material and spiritual. It occurs every year when both Sun and Moon are exalted and Moon is in the third tithi of Shukla Paksha, its waxing phase. Since this year Jupiter is slightly combust, devotions are particularly in order. Even as combustion can hurt the material gifts of a planet, it can enhance its inwards, spiritual potential. Jupiter and Mercury, the two planets of knowledge, forming a Subhakatari Yoga around Rahu and Sun augment that
potential even more. Indians traditionally buy gold on this day, with the belief that its value will appreciate, as all endeavours begun on Akshaya Tritiya will prosper. With so many intense alignments occurring during these three days of April, it makes sense to honour this auspicious day with special devotions.
It adds an intoxicating degree of surprise to the confusing energy generated on April 20th and 21st, with the 22nd being one of the most auspicious days of the entire year! Whatever practice resonates most harmoniously with your heart’s deepest desire is appropriate—undertaken with fervent intention, humility and love. Change is coming, and right action sows the seeds that bring forth sweet fruit.
MAY THROUGH SEPTEMBER
You will need that fortification going into the summer months! After Jupiter’s transit mid-May over the exact degree of the solar eclipse, he then forms an exact conjunction with Rahu on May 27th, at 8° Aries. At the same time, Mars is debilitated, having entered Cancer on May 11th. Once again, something quite explosive could erupt at this time—with disorder, turbulence and upheaval flaring up for nations, and individuals experiencing confusion in many areas of life, according to the particulars of their unique chart (which only careful analysis can reveal). In the natural world, something cataclysmic could happen as well, possibly a disaster involving water. Mars is debilitated in the water sign of Cancer, with his eighth aspect falling upon Saturn in Shatabisha, whose deity is Varuna, Vedic water god, lord of waters both terrestrial and cosmic. On earth he rules lakes, reservoirs, tanks, wells, rivers and oceans. He controls clouds and rain. An agitated Mars from a water place transmitting his energy onto Saturn in Shatabisha could bring about floods or accidents involving water. On June 1st, that aspect is exact to the degree, and Venus will have just joined Mars in Cancer by that time as well.
On June 17th, Saturn turns retrograde, a feature that will continue throughout the summer and into the fall. A retrograde planet gains strength as it slows down, reinforcing and intensifying whatever it is he indicates. And so the Saturnine forces dominating in the spring become more powerful in the summer, bringing more volatility, contention, rebelliousness, innovation and change. Health in particular could be affected, with new medicines, new viruses and/or new treatments developing as Saturn moves deeper into Shatabisha, Jupiter reaches the end of Ashwini, and Mars eventually enters Leo, coming out of debilitation to aspect Saturn directly. Sign of his friend, Leo provides the medium of controlled fire, where the dynamism of Mars can be directed towards good purpose. From 26 June to 6 July, Mars crosses over the gandanta between Cancer and Leo. This gandanta point becomes the hot spot for summer. Pay attention to which houses Mars owns in your chart. The areas of life they govern reveal how this transit will affect you. But the intensity doesn’t stop with Mars. Venus will receive it three times!
On July 7th, Venus also transits into Leo, crossing over the same gandanta point recently triggered by Mars. But that’s not the end of it either. On July 24th, Venus turns retrograde in Leo, travelling back towards Cancer. On August 8th, Venus returns to Cancer, once again crossing over the gandanta point and transiting retrograde until September 2nd. Travelling direct from September 3rd, Venus reaches Leo once again on October 2nd, crossing the gandanta point again! That makes a total of three transits for Venus over the Cancer to Leo gandanta between 7 July and 2 October, the same gandanta that Mars traversed on June 30th. In worldly terms, Venus represents material goodness—an abundance of all things beautiful that money can buy or the senses can savour. His three crossings over that treacherous gandanta bridge recall the malefic shock of his exact conjunction with Rahu in Aries at the vernal equinox. The economic volatility set in motion then could culminate in the autumn as a major downturn for the winter months. Since winter is also a time for introspection and contemplation, this diminishment of abundance could clarify perception into the true nature of reality as well, offering the only solace that truly endures.
In late summer and early fall, the impact of fire continues. Mercury turns retrograde in Leo (23 August to 15 September). He joins Sun, who is at home there and strong. They are both in direct mutual aspect with Saturn, and they receive a trine aspect from both Jupiter and Rahu in Aries. Meanwhile, Mars has moved onwards into Virgo, where his eighth aspect falls upon Rahu and Jupiter. This Mercury Retrograde echoes features of the previous one in Aries, when Mercury joined an exalted Sun with Rahu, and concurrent with the solar eclipse. This time, Sun is also very powerful, but from his own house Leo. And Rahu aspects Mercury Retrograde instead of being conjunct with it. Also, Jupiter and Mars are involved now as well. With the fire of Aries and Leo dominant, all the major players of the karma unfolding since the Spring Equinox come together in this configuration, aspecting each other in powerful ways during the same period that Venus crosses three times over the gandanta point. More dramatic change will come as we enter into autumn!
We are only halfway through Saturn’s long transit through the signs he owns. It’s a significant turning point in history. Shani’s strength remains enduring and dominant throughout his passage through Capricorn and Aquarius, from January 2020 to March 2025. Particularly now with Shani in Aquarius, the pace of change is accelerating. A dizzying journey lies ahead. Though it makes sense to prepare for the inevitable vicissitudes of worldly fortune, the most important take-home message of this period speaks to the deeper lessons of Saturn. Shani can lift the illusory veils of Maya. Like Lord Shiva, his methods can be harsh. But as old forms break down and boundaries dissolve, Shani can reveal the timeless, transcendent reality of perfect Unity—beyond the illusion of separation. That insight is the greatest gift this time can offer.