Asteroids are fascinating, but in truth I don’t use them much in my own astrological practice. It’s not because I don’t “believe in them” or anything like that – their effects are quite demonstrably real. The reason is simply that the “big” planets keep me busy enough. In all professional astrological work, there is always a balance that needs to be struck between the number of points an astrologer will have time to discuss in a counseling session versus having mercy on the client’s attention span and energy. It simply takes me so long to do justice to the message of the major planets that I’ve rarely had time to add asteroids to the menu.
Then there’s the minor problem of there being about a million of them! Last I heard, something like 14,000 of them even had names. To avoid being overwhelmed, many astrologers who use asteroids limit themselves to what are often (erroneously) called “the big four.” They’re not actually the biggest, they’re just the first four to be discovered – Vesta, Ceres, Juno, and Pallas. Hygiea is actually more massive than Juno by far and, if size matters, it should be in that quartet instead. Juno just happened to be the third one to be discovered, but it only squeaks into the Top Twenty as “heavyweights” go.
The more massive an asteroid is, the more powerful it is astrologically? That tempting notion makes a degree of intuitive sense, but I doubt it’s true. That’s because astrological experience teaches us otherwise. Pluto’s mass, for example, is relatively tiny – only about one 400th the mass of Earth – and vastly less than Jupiter or Saturn. Yet woe betide the astrologer who ignores Pluto!
Still, there are objects in the asteroid belt that weigh less than you do, and I suspect it’s safe to leave them out of our analyses.
Full disclosure: with asteroids, I’m a dabbler, and I wouldn’t claim to be anything more than that. To learn about them, I’d encourage you to start with the work of Demetra George or Martha Lang-Wescott. In astrology, there’s no substitute for experience, and they’ve both had a lot more experience with asteroids than I have.
Still, there’s one big asteroid that’s got a special place in my heart. That’s Vesta. It’s one of the four originals, plus it’s actually the second most massive one, just behind Ceres – which is so massive that astronomers now call it a dwarf planet rather than an asteroid at all. What makes Vesta so dear to me is purely astrological – in my natal chart, it’s in a conjunction with my Ascendant by less than a degree and a half. In theory, that’s enough to make me a “Vesta guy,” which is something I can quickly confirm from my own experience. Vesta “keeps the sacred flame burning,” and that’s basically what I’ve been trying to do all my life in my astrological work. Everything I’ve done professionally for the past fifty years can be reduced to one agenda – and that’s trying to keep the metaphysical, spiritual heart of astrology beating in the face of the baleful influences of materialism and stupid commercialism – not to mention merely existentialist “university” psychology – on our craft.
I won’t go into the customs and mythology of the “vestal virgins” here. They’re a big part of understanding Vesta, but you can learn about them elsewhere. My subject in this newsletter is a little different. Suffice to say that Vesta’s job is to protect and preserve that which is sacred – to keep the spiritual “hearth fires” burning, lest something essential to life gets lost in the materialistic shuffle.
As we will soon see, that’s an especially poignant issue now, with Vesta transiting through mystical Pisces, where it’s working in concert with Neptune.
I want to quickly throw some dates at you, then we’ll dive into what it all means. Let’s start with slow-moving Neptune. It first touched Pisces in this current cycle over a decade ago, back in 2011. It will begin flirting with the Aries frontier in 2025, not truly leaving Pisces until January 26, 2026.
Meanwhile, Vesta’s passage through Pisces is much quicker. It completes a full orbit of the Sun every 1325 days, or about every three and a half years or so. It entered Pisces on May 24, 2022, retrograded into Aquarius on August 21, and then returned to Pisces just recently – on November 20, 2022. Once back in Pisces, it zooms through those thirty degrees, crossing into Aries on February 7.
Our practical bottom line is that this month, we’ve got both Vesta and Neptune working together in Pisces. They only form their actual conjunction on January 23rd, but I want to say something about this whole period from November 20 through February 7.
There’s a family of astrological symbols that correlate with, among other things, psychic sensitivity. Neptune is one of them – and of course people everywhere have Neptune somewhere in their charts. For some of us it plays a central role and for others, not so much so. Beyond Neptune, anything in the sign Pisces also links to those kinds of elevated sensitivities. The same goes for anything in the 12th house. I would also point to a natal Moon that’s in waning crescent phase – often called the “balsamic” phase. That too is tuned into those mystical wavelengths, although often in a spookier way. A very emphasized Moon placement in general can also correlate with these kinds of sensitivities.
The point is that nobody lacks these influences entirely, but in some of us, those wavelengths of “supernatural” perception are simply more activated.
Normally, if you call someone “sensitive,” they’ll say thank you. People generally view sensitivity as a compliment, in other words. And it is – the world could always use more of it. That line brings me to my point. For the past several years, may God have mercy on all the sensitive souls! We have all been through the wringer. Think of the news. Mass shootings, Covid, Nazis in the government, The Ukraine... humanity always struggles, but lately it’s been much harder, with many more reasons to slip into despair.
I saw a line that was allegedly from Leonard Cohen on Facebook the other day – “Nothing ever works. That’s to teach us compassion.” I found that perspective helpful. Maybe you will too. It seems that souls come to Earth in order to study the effects of ego, hunger, and aggression, and to maybe, eventually, graduate from their grip. But lately, the volume seems to have been turned up on those poisons. Astrologically, the Pluto-Uranus square of 2012-2015 was quickly superseded by the ongoing Pluto-Eris square, which started around 2018 or 2019, depending on how you like to think of orbs. I’ve talked about both of them in detail elsewhere. You could read about them at length in my book The Endless Sky, for example. The essence of the matter is that both of these slowly-transiting configurations involve a lot of hurt. An old world order is dying, but it’s fighting back really hard. The degree of bitterness, cruelty, and loss we are all experiencing is such that it’s been hard for anyone to hold onto hope, love, or even compassion.
Yet Neptune is in Pisces. Quietly – and never in the headlines – a spiritual renaissance has been taking place. Doubt me? Just think of the psychic opening that has happened in you personally in the past decade. Think of all the meditators who are now teaching meditation. Think of the yoga students who now teach yoga. And think of their classes, now full of eager students who couldn’t spell any of those words before Neptune entered Pisces in 2011.
Here’s my favorite illustration of the effects of Neptune’s passage through Pisces: think of the current explosion of interest in astrology, and especially in evolutionary astrology with its unabashedly metaphysical roots.
This period of time will go down in history alongside the other spectacular periods of spiritual awakening that also correlated with Neptune’s historical passages through Pisces. Here are some examples – the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the explosion of Islam, the Protestant Reformation, the rise of Spiritualism in the mid-1800’s. If you want the details, I explored all that in The Endless Sky and also in The Book of Neptune.
My point here is far simpler: in this newsletter, I just want to say thank you to the battered, sensitive souls who have kept Vesta’s spiritual flame burning in these recent years of darkness. Neptune’s passage through Pisces has increased your psychic and spiritual sensitivity at a time when it would be very understandable if you had preferred to be less sensitive, not more.
These next words I say with compassion and respect: among us, there are the Fallen – those souls who were so overwhelmed by the recent nightmares that they took refuge in addiction and escapism.
Somewhere there’s a tired, overwhelmed, and in fact deeply spiritual person compulsively playing video games. (Or drunk. Or numbed with chemicals.) Everyone in that kind of situation thinks he or she is a failure. They just couldn’t take it anymore, so they decided to “save the galaxy” instead of saving the human race. They fled. I do not judge them – but even that is not what this newsletter is about either.
This newsletter is a salute to those of you who have kept the faith, Vesta-fashion. My hat is off to those of you who have not abandoned hope – or more importantly who have not abandoned compassion in these dark years. You are the true children of Vesta. It’s not been easy, and I suspect no one has thanked you. That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to thank you now.
Back when I was in the middle of life, someone asked the late, great Ram Dass about what he thought lay ahead for the world. His words were luminous, not to mention ominous. Normally, Ram Dass tended to be positive and encouraging, but this time he said he felt that the next stage of the human journey was about “keeping your heart open in hell.”
Between November 20, 2022 and February 7, 2023, while Vesta is passing through Pisces, may you keep your hearts open no matter what happens. May angels give strength to all of you who have not abandoned hope. May their faith give you faith – and may your faith give faith to the rest of us. May you, Vesta-fashion, keep the sacred Piscean soul-flame burning in the darkness. And may God bless you – and please accept my blessing too.
As people in airports say to soldiers, thank you for your service.
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