COMING SOON TO A SKY NEAR YOU --
DON’T MISS THE BIG VENUS-JUPITER CONJUNCTION!
by Steven Forrest
Are any of you out there in the mood to get out of bed before sunrise on November 13th? Or maybe you’re a night owl. Then it might be better just to stay up all night and catch the late show that way?
Either way, there’s a rare visual treat in store. That night, the two brightest planets in the sky – Jupiter and Venus – will very nearly merge into one single blinding light. This is an unusual event. It is actually one of the many possibilities cited for what the famous “Star of Bethlehem” might have been.
Given the fast orbit of Venus around the Sun, its conjunctions with Jupiter are not so unusual. The last one occurred on August 27, 2016. There was one before that on October 25, 2015 and another one a few weeks earlier on August 4, 2015. You get the picture: these Jupiter-Venus conjunctions are not rare things – hardly a reason to get out of bed in the wee hours.
So what’s the big deal this time?
In a word, the answer is declination. At the moment of the exact conjunction, this time there is only an 11' separation between the planets in terms of declination. That means they are simultaneously conjunct and parallel.
Need a quick definition of declination?
Project earth’s equator onto the sky. Planets occasionally cross it, but mostly they are above or below the line, just like London is in the northern hemisphere, while Sydney is in the southern hemisphere. Declination, in other words, is basically just like latitude on earth.
Using the “regular” measurements we’re used to using, on November 13th, Venus and Jupiter form a conjunction in exactly 7° Scorpio 20'. Astrologically, that means that they are aligned along the ecliptic – a perfect, or “partile,” astrological conjunction . . . and, as we just saw, not really such a big deal.
But add that very close parallel of declination, and you have a visual feast to remember because the two planets will appear in the sky together. In fact, the three wise men may have followed this same alignment all the way to Bethlehem.
Working out the geometry, Venus and Jupiter will be only 18 arc-minutes apart in the sky. That’s less than one-third of a degree. To keep perspective, just hold your pinkie finger up at arm’s length. The span of sky it covers is about one degree wide. One third of that. Close!
By comparison, when Venus and Jupiter formed their conjunction in August 2015, they aligned at the end of Leo – but by declination, they were over six degrees apart. Again, hold your arm straight out, this time with four fingers together and pointing up. That’s about a six-degree spread. Close, but no banana, in other words.
The obvious question: so what does this conjunction mean? So far, all this is just about astronomy. The astrologer’s task is to read “the will of the gods and goddesses” in the heavens, not to give a planetarium talk. We will read that divine will – in a minute. But first, here comes one of my favorite rants.
I wonder if any astrologer reading this newsletter will actually get out of his or her nice warm bed and have a look at this glorious sight? I know I will! But I have always been obsessed with the heavens – and also absolutely baffled by how few astrologers ever pay any direct sensory attention to the endless sky-show of the physical universe.
I shared the stage at an astrology conference once with a wonderful Muskogee named J.C. Eaglesmith. He told a story about a previous astrology conference in which he had invited the participants simply to go outside and look at the night sky with him. No one wanted to go.
“Mosquitos,” said J.C. Eaglesmith, with irony and sadness in his eyes.
Amateur astronomy is what led me into astrology in the first place. I grew up with telescopes, gazing at the starry sky. I’ve written about all that in The Night Speaks. Tony Howard also recently shot some video of me talking about my love of astronomy with the magnificent Mount Palomar Observatory in the background.
I love astrology passionately. Every day I see it helping people. But on the street, astrology is still mostly viewed as silliness. Anyone who ‘believes in it’ is taken for a fool. This inspired me to ask: Could I write the book an open-minded critic might read and be inspired to give astrology an hour to prove itself? Could I write one that my clients could confidently hand their skeptical friends? In other words, could I break through the monumental wall of prejudice and ignorance that has kept astrology trapped in its ghetto? This book is my response, and explains why astrology is both intellectually and spiritually plausible.
I won’t rehash all that here. Instead I want to talk about an old friend of mine. His name is Jim Mullaney. Growing up, he was one of my heroes. The big amateur astronomy magazine in those days was called Sky and Telescope. Jim used to write for it. He also directed an observatory and a planetarium. He was (and is) that rare bird: the academically-trained astronomer who is wide-open to metaphysics. Think of Carl Sagan or Neil DeGrasse Tyson meeting at a meditation class and talking about the meaning of transiting Pluto, comparing notes and taking it seriously. That’s Jim.
After decades of observing, Jim Mullaney has come to feel that something mysterious happens to our consciousnesses when we look through telescopes – something that hovers between the realm of magic and an almost medical one. He calls it the photon connection. What he means is that a literal photon of light leaves Jupiter traveling at about 186,000 miles per second and then crashes into your retina. As it does so, it creates biochemical changes in your cerebrum – and just maybe, in so doing, it carries a message from Jupiter directly to your soul. It’s like catching the eye of a stranger and suddenly, intuitively, you know something very fundamental about that person. It’s like listening to Beethoven as opposed to reading about Beethoven. It’s like the difference between sex and pornography.
The connection is real, in other words. There’s nothing abstract about it.
And whatever that “photon connection” brings to you has zero to do with seeing the Jupiter glyph on your computer screen. Instead, it has to do with something physical, something that links you directly to the planet, like a mother’s touch links her to her baby.
It is so easy for we modern astrologers to forget that the real, true original ephemeris was the sky itself. That’s what made astrologers out of our ancestors. It can still make us better astrologers today.
I like all this. It rings true for me. I don’t think I would be the astrologer I am today if it were not for hundreds, even thousands, of hours spent with those photons raining into my brain.
You don’t even really need a telescope for any of this to happen. Your naked eyes are enough. Just think of stepping out into a moonlit night. Feel something? That’s the photon connection too.
Amateur astronomy is a huge subject and not really what our website is about. We will get to the astrology of this spectacular Venus-Jupiter alignment in a minute, I promise. But do look at the sky! It is truly our best astrological teacher. And this month it’s got some special teaching tricks up its sleeve – tricks that no mortal teacher has.
In case you’re perhaps inspired to look into the craft of observing the heavens, here’s a link to an old Sky and Telescope article that Jim Mullaney wrote. It’s a good, practical introduction to the modest equipment – and the kingly joys – of stargazing. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/stargazing-basics/learn-the-sky/stargazing-simplified/
The Astrological Meaning
So, getting to the heart of the matter for our more obvious purposes, what does this a Venus-Jupiter conjunction mean astrologically? This month, we all have that conjunction on steroids happening somewhere in our charts.
Another hint: It falls in Scorpio, which adds some extra drama – and perhaps some trauma – to the mix.
In last month’s newsletter, I explored the general meaning of Jupiter’s passage through Scorpio from October 10, 2017 through November 8, 2018. That will be the foundation of much of what I want to say here, so if you missed that newsletter or need to review it, click here.
Because this year-long Jupiter transit is a very big deal, I also prepared a two-hour audio presentation about it. That one will cost you a little bit of money to hear, but it goes into a lot more detail and covers the meaning of Jupiter-in-Scorpio through each one of the twelve astrological houses. If you'd like to read the written transcript, you can find that here.
When Jupiter, the reigning heavyweight champion of the solar system, enters a new sign, stand back – the “gravity” of the symbolism is going to pull a lot of events into its synchronistic orbit.
In this this audio recording Steven will introduce the core significations of this transit, consider some of the historical correlates, and then provide descriptions of Jupiter through the 12 houses.
My plan here is to set the tone by quoting a few lines from last month’s newsletter, then to relate it all to Venus.
- Jupiter’s principle effect is to expand anything it touches. It symbolizes abundance – hence, its historical reputation as the “Greater Benefic.” But before we leap into paroxysms of ecstasy here, let’s reflect on exactly what Lord Jupiter is going to be expanding.
- Scorpio embraces all of the “strong energies” in the human psyche – instincts, mammal reflexes, appetites, rage, fear, the wounded places in us all.
- In all cases, the presence of the unconscious mind (Scorpio) will be vividly, even spectacularly, demonstrated (Jupiter).
- Always, in any kind of Scorpionic time, the bottom line is that the unconscious mind is becoming conscious.
- All that is taboo is brought to the surface.
- At the individual level, we need to ask ourselves hard questions – that’s the Scorpio process – about what we really want and what is truly good for us (that’s Jupiter).And then, armed with that hard-won self-knowledge, we need to boldly and audaciously make our moves.
- You need a victory – but you had better make sure you “know what’s good for you.” Thus, Scorpionic inner work clarifies and rectifies the intentions, while King Jupiter leads the charge.
- The lower ground? When Jupiter-in-Scorpio operates unconsciously, the dark and tangled complexes and appetites that animate human madness find extravagant outward expression.
So now let’s place all of those Jupiter-possibilities in a Venusian context. As we do that, naturally, our first thought is about loving relationships. But let’s not forget beauty and artistry – the human need for aesthetic experience. That’s Venus too. And underlying everything with Venus is simply peace – that rare and precious state of grace for which we all long and which we occasionally grasp before it slips between our worried fingers.
In terms of loving Venusian relationships, it is always an astrological blunder to think only in terms of sex and romance – and of course an even more terrible blunder to ignore them! Above all, Scorpio wants genuine connection, whatever form it might take, erotic or otherwise. In any of your relationships, what is blocking that feeling of direct rapport? What are you afraid to say – or perhaps even afraid to know? What do you truly desire? Hear the Voice of Lord Jupiter: Don’t be afraid to ask for it! Be bold. The aim here is to seize the opportunity to be more transparent, and thus more genuinely connected.
Meanwhile, be wary of “fool’s gold.” The most obvious example here would be falling in love with some walking, breathing, butt-wiggling illusion.
Venus links to our aesthetic sense as well. Even if you are not an artist, you still benefit this month from investing in anything that adds loveliness to your life. Buy a painting. Improve your sound system. Get that new carpet and cheer up your living space. Jupiter is the King of the Gods -- so treat yourself like royalty.
Now think about this question in probingly honest Scorpionic psychological terms: What exactly is stopping you from doing all that?
If you are an artist, this could be a big breakthrough month for you. That’s especially true if your chart shows some sensitivity to 7 or 8 degrees of Scorpio. To find the vaunted Jupiter “luck,” you need to look up. That means to think in grander terms, to invest in yourself, to act as if you believe in yourself, to stop holding yourself back.
Maybe you play classical piano. Is it time to start working on your first original composition? Maybe you paint. Is it time to hang a public show or knock on a gallery door? Do you deserve a new easel, a finer guitar, or new dancing shoes? Maybe it’s time to get those poems out from their hiding place and read a few to your friends.
Peace is really the ultimate Venusian gift. If you think about what we have just been considering, you’ll quickly see the connections.
Relationships? Peace arises pretty much automatically when we get a hug from the right person, especially after a heart-to-heart or sweet love-making. And, humanly, how could we ever be at peace without our dear friends?
Immersing ourselves in beauty, whether in art or in nature, soothes our souls. So does creativity. There is always a mysterious catharsis and release involved in any act of “making art.” It leads to peace too. It does so by releasing tension.
In purely Scorpionic terms, dealing honestly and effectively with our convoluted complexes and issues may not be anyone’s idea of a good time – but here is an ancient truth: once you’ve done that, you breathe easier. And opportunities abound for that kind of peace-producing inner work this month. In that regard, the Force is with you. So are your friends and your allies.
Claim all these gifts from the Jupiter-Venus conjunction. You deserve them – and knowing that you deserve them is pure Jupiter.
Let’s get back to the photon connection for a moment: I have a sneaking suspicion that you can boost these energies into the stratosphere by simply getting out of your nice warm bed in the wee hours on or around November 13 and letting those merged Jupiter-Venus photons flow down from the sky and into your heart and soul.
We astrologers speak blithely of “energy.” That is energy. No one – not even the most vehement opponent of astrology – could refute that.
I fantasize about an astrology conference in the future. Here we are, sitting on yoga mats and meditation cushions under the night sky, hearts open and eyes on the heavens. Who needs books? Who needs the collected works of some guy named Steven Forrest? He’s just some dinosaur from back in the days when people believed they could learn astrology from a computer screen.