This article first appeared on Mooncircles. It is reprinted here with permission of the author.

At the New Moon Eclipse we reflected on the nature of Sagittarius, its power to see from a distance and to travel afar, its passion for truth and sense of vocation. The Sun has now reached the middle of the sign and looks across at his partner, the Moon, in her fullness in mid-Gemini. While Sagittarius Sun rides forth with torch aloft, illuminating global patterns and identifying grand principles, the Gemini Moon catches his reflected rays and disseminates their light as living sparks, allowing the higher principles to filter down into common understanding.

At this Full Moon, the Sun nears his exact conjunction with Pluto and the square to his ruler, Jupiter. Slow-moving Pluto is working its way through the sign of the Centaur, bringing to the surface deep conflicts and unsolved problems in religion, philosophy, education, law, and ethics. Whereas Sagittarius is at home on the heights of Mt. Olympos, where Zeus/Jupiter is first among the gods, Zeus's brother Pluto is Lord of the Underworld, of all that is hidden. Sagittarius values conscious thought and moral decision, progress, and goal-directed activity, while Pluto carries us below and demands that we submit to instinct, powerful emotions, the needs of the soul, and the reality of death. Sagittarius has a plan for everything and an overarching theory or metaphysics in which all ideas, intentions and beliefs are placed in relation to each other. Pluto opens yawning chasms into which our conscious plans and grand systems tumble, never to be seen again.

What does it mean in practical terms to have the Underworld's ruler visiting the Olympian heights? Pluto compels, so one possibility is religious, moral or intellectual obsession. It can also bring the concentrated energy and courage needed for reform and regeneration. Pluto lets us know (often not very politely, and not at a particularly convenient moment) when something has to be surgically removed, sent to the rubbish dump, or torn down and rebuilt on new foundations. In recent years since Pluto entered Sagittarius we have seen religious obsession and the desire for reform drive people to desperate acts of terror and warfare. Religious communities are caught in the tension between a spirit of genuine reform and fear-based reactions against change.

We're being compelled to recognize religion as a force in global affairs and in individual lives, something which can elevate or destroy us, create links between people and nations or ignite terror and violence. In a broader way, all our beliefs and theories, our cherished hierarchies of values and systems of thought, may need examination. Pluto presses for the inclusion of what has been banned or despised. What is missing from the intellectual and cultural life of your community? And what can you personally do to restore it?

While Pluto conjoins the Sun and opposes this Full Moon, Jupiter stands midway between the two lights, in Virgo. As ruler of Sagittarius, Jupiter tells us how the Sun and Pluto need to proceed now: through disciplined study, self-examination, and practical action. The need for change is already present to our awareness; now we must act upon what we know. Perhaps we will journey to new places in the mind or to new places on the globe.

I imagine it was around this time of year that the Magi set off on their quest for the new King who, according to their wisdom, was about to be born. For some months they would have been scrutinizing the heavens intensely, studying the newly-appeared star, checking and re-checking their calculations until they had a fair idea where and when the mysterious event was to take place. Then on the appropriate day they would have packed up their gear, provisioned their camel train and headed westward, guarding their carefully chosen symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This particular year, it may be better for us to make the journey an interior one. Mercury, ruler of the Gemini Moon, has left outgoing, high-energy Sagittarius and entered slow, deliberate Capricorn, heading towards an opposition with cumbersome Saturn; its motion is slowing down and it will turn retrograde on December 17. During the next several weeks, take time to absorb and apply what you have learned during the summer and autumn and to do some inner discernment. Observe the stars of your own firmament to see where you are called to journey. Follow the Magi in imagination as they journey across the desert. We shall catch up to them on the next lunar cycle, as Mercury turns direct on their feast day, Epiphany, the day before the January 7 Full Moon in Cancer.

(Look for the Capricorn New Moon on December 23, 2003.)

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