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

Although Aquarius is often associated with the rebelliousness of youth, the sun is in fact "old" when he reaches this part of the Zodiac, having lived almost a complete cycle since the last spring equinox. All that he has seen, accomplished and endured in the course of his journey from Aries to Capricorn he now seeks to distill in the form of clear ideas and principles. These ideas, however, are not simply logically deduced from facts. More often they seem to be grounded in intuitive flashes of insight into connections and patterns of meaning, which may then get dressed up in logical language and supported by further research and data analysis. This week, the serious purpose of Aquarius is augmented by the sun's close quincunx to Jupiter in Virgo, which is critical and task-oriented and certainly glories in data analysis!

As we saw at the new moon, the favored Aquarian perspective is "from above" - literally, in the case of astronauts and cosmonauts who were able to see the home planet from space; imaginatively or conceptually for the rest of us. Sometimes inspiration or radical insights come from this angle, but it is not always a comfortable position to be in. Many Aquarians look down on daily happenings on Earth as if they were perched in the nosebleed section of the bleachers in Heaven. They live in a state of chronic incomprehension as to why things on this plane are so defective, why they continually fall so far short of their potential. Depression is a common result of this perceived gap between the way things are and the way they could be and (according to Aquarius) should be. This is why the rulership of Aquarius was originally given to Saturn, god of melancholy, and why Saturn is still considered the co-ruler of the sign along with Uranus.

Of course, the tension between what is and what might be is often highly productive. The gifted scientist or historian, for example, looks at what is already established in the field, but follows a hunch that there is more to the story. Intuition suggests where to dig for the "more", and the researcher is off and running. The social reformer similarly sees the miserable conditions in which people are living and pictures a different life for them which could actually be worked toward, if not completely achieved, and starts to plan and build.

These Aquarian campaigns run on a peculiar kind of concentrated mental energy, and sometimes they run their human vehicles ragged. The sun, giver of heart and vitality, is weak in midwinter, standing opposite his own sign of Leo where his life-giving radiance expresses itself so naturally. As Leo feeds the heart, Aquarius nourishes the intellect; while Leo supports individual creativity and selfhood, Aquarius concentrates on group concerns and impersonal causes, often at the expense of personal life and even health. The fire in one's own hearth can burn low while one is out feeding the hungry, running a political campaign, or conducting research in far-flung places.

This week the sun has been in conjunction with Neptune, further attenuating the solar spirit. Neptune, ruler of the seas and dissolver of boundaries and forms, can moisten and inspire but also dampen and drain other bodies that contact it. A sun-Neptune conjunction is useful for laundering out the residues of things we're finished with, so if you have anything of that sort lying around, there's still time to toss it in before this wash cycle finishes! It's also a good time to catch a dream or to be caught by an image. Thoughts in Aquarius can become dry, abstract, literal and fixed. Neptune revives them with the flow of poetic imagination and a touch of the sublime. It reminds us not to take our projects or ourselves too literally.

What the sun really needs as an antidote to all this draining winter energy is - a Leo moon! Luckily, that's just what's on the timetable. Has the sun gotten about as far away from home as he can get? No problem; his best friend the moon is ready to mirror his golden rays back to him in full Leonian glory. When you are feeling low, listless and unsure of yourself, what's your best move? Maybe to get together with an old and dear friend who knows your heart, your inner sunshine, and will reflect it back to you just when you are least in touch with it yourself. That's what the Leo moon can do for the sun this week.

At the full moon, think of the friends who have restored your heart to you at your darkest moments. You might want to call or write one of them and tell them how much it helped. Look around and see if there is someone else who needs that kind of mirroring from you now. And let the warmth of the Leo moon revive your own heart and regenerate your imagination for the ongoing work of winter.

Look for the Pisces new moon on February 20, 2004.

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