My friends, it is chaotic out there and in our hearts.
This month has illuminating lessons for our relationships, but to receive them we need to tolerate some discomfort along the way. I say this in full knowledge that many of us are past the point of discomfort and are in pain — pain for the world, pain for those facing oppression and genocide, pain for our moral injury, pain for the ways our social supports are crumbling, pain for so much more political and personal. And if you personally are not in pain right now, that might also feel strange as you encounter others who are.
I don’t want to trivialize or dismiss this pain, but it may hold the seeds of something new. We are entering a new era, astrologically, as Pluto completes its move to Aquarius this year. The last Pluto in Aquarius era was in the late 18th century, a time historians call the Age of Revolutions. The pain and uncertainty of that time galvanized an end to monarchies and the beginning of liberal democracy. Now, we’re recognizing the serious limitations of the systems we’ve inherited from that time. Working with Pluto, we acknowledge what has been unbearable to really see until now. Working within Aquarius, we approach our collectivity, our social contracts, and our shared future with fresh eyes. On the edge of this massive transition, we’re walking a tightrope. On the one side is despair, on the other complacency. Our goal is to stay the course, breathing through the fear and the pain and recognizing who is with us — who we can reach for when it feels like we’re falling.
And as three planets entering Aquarius this month will all join Pluto, our attention is being dragged back again and again to this point, to the questions raised by Pluto: What do we need to see that we’ve been afraid to look at? How do we bear witness, how do we respond to crisis, and how do we repair harm? The last question is a little quieter but no less important: How does responding to this call change us?
I’m inspired this month by Donna Haraway’s 2016 epic “Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulocene.” Don’t let the title daunt you — the message remains relevant for all of us seeking new forms of togetherness as we navigate the crises of our times. She writes: “Who lives and who dies, and how, in this kinship rather than that one? … What must be cut and what must be tied if multispecies flourishing on earth, including human and other-than-human beings in kinship, are to have a chance?” In other words, how can we expand our sense of who is our kin in meaningful ways that include shared responsibility for each other?
The impacts of this month’s astrology will play out for some time to come, so I advise you to pace yourselves and stay attuned to what you’re learning. And as the most intense transit (Mars conjunct Pluto) will happen on Valentine’s Day, do me a personal favor and release the pressure of expectations from that day. In otherwise healthy relationships that transit may cause some friction and bickering. In strained relationships it can be downright explosive. If you’re wanting to celebrate your love I encourage you to buck tradition and choose a different day this month—the 22nd is a downright dreamy day for lovers.
For more details on this month’s transits and access to my massive Year Ahead forecast that includes much more about Pluto’s move to Aquarius, join me on Patreon for only $2 a month. I’m also available for readings, so please reach out if you need support or accompaniment. For more astro details you can follow me on Instagram. May you all stay with this month’s trouble with love for yourself and for each other.
Stay with the trouble: In times of stress and uncertainty we tend to stick with whatever perspective and tactic is most familiar to us. One of the harder things about this month’s astrology is that it’s highlighting what isn’t working — and when things feel urgent is not when we want those reminders. With that in mind, this month rewards experimentation within limits. When your core stability feels threatened it’s much harder to learn and grow. So as you embrace change, keep an eye on what you’d like to hold onto.
Stay with the trouble: It may feel like a lot of weight is on your shoulders right now. Perhaps all or most of it is indeed your responsibility, your burden to carry. But it’s worth sorting through to see if any of it isn’t yours (give that shit back) or is part of a larger collective responsibility that many others are also holding (only take your own piece). Even if you can’t make your load lighter right now, recognize that you are not alone. Holding your part of a collective effort is much different than you being the hero that does it all.
Stay with the trouble: You have a tendency to focus on the future right now — how your own life might unfold, plans and visions, fears and hopes for the larger world. But too often this mode is leading you into anxieties that have more to do with the past and drawing you away from what’s happening right now that needs your attention. When you feel like you’re starting to spin out, return to one tangible thing you can do right now then one familiar restorative practice.
Stay with the trouble: You may feel more pulled to activism than usual, especially if you are compelled by overwhelming feelings about the state of the world. As you lean into whatever you’re choosing to do in response to these feelings, remember to also make room to feel the feelings themselves. Solidarity and support are powerful but they will not erase grief. Tend to your heart.
Stay with the trouble: You are out of your comfort zone right now and your process of learning may be quite visible. Stay clear of the false paths anxiety may send you down. You don’t need to retreat to where it’s safe and you also don’t need to rush headlong into something reckless. Practice tolerating the discomfort of change by taking it on in small steps, building up to fluency. Give yourself permission to try and fail and try again, and make sure the stakes of failure are low enough that you can recover from them quickly.
Stay with the trouble: You may feel torn right now between the practical and the possible. Whatever you do that is of service (to the world, to what you love, to who you love) a part of you wants to just keep doing it the way you always have. Another part of you may be assessing, critiquing, pushing you toward different methods or totally different priorities. As you sort through this inner conflict, remember that there is no one right answer. Don’t get too tripped up looking for the exit to the maze when all paths will lead you somewhere interesting.
Stay with the trouble: Again and again when you reach for light-hearted good times you find yourself facing the deep undercurrents of pain washing through this world. Let this reaching and this washing over become a different kind of dance: how can joy be a part of your practice even as you attune and attend to pain? When do you push and when do you rest? What sustains you and what depletes you? Notice your patterns this month — that’s your main assignment.
Stay with the trouble: In times of tremendous urgency you can show up for the crisis with stamina, with courage, with skill and care — until you are completely tapped out. If you are trying to show up for the pain of the world (or the pain of your loved ones, or your own pain) the lesson of this month is pacing. Move with revolutionary patience. Move with gentleness. Or accept the huge cost of a short burst of pushing yourself way too hard. That’s always an option, but make sure you choose it with full awareness.
Stay with the trouble: What you experience on social media lands in your body. Recognize how your heart races, your muscles clench, or your stomach churns. Come up with a plan for how you participate in these spaces or what you can do instead. Remember that you have agency, relationship, and capacity to impact others where you are placed, whether or not you’re engaging with what’s happening online.
Stay with the trouble: It’s time to take inventory: How many negative beliefs, fears, and sharp judgements are you carrying with you into these times? How many of these are left over from other times and serve other purposes? Which do you truly want to keep, and can you maybe find a sheath or some other way of storing them so they don’t stab you? Think of this project less as self-improvement (which can so quickly feed self-critique) but as a morally neutral issue of being in less pain.
Stay with the trouble: Allow yourself to be an evolving, transforming, changing being whose next form is still unclear. Honor what has shaped you, from ancestors to environment, and that you get to love some of that and struggle with other parts. Embrace that struggle as part of the love, infuse it with love. This is how you become fully you.
Stay with the trouble: Be kind to the part you that feels pulled to keep offering your visions and empathy for the good of the collective, even past the point of exhaustion. Recognize where you do and don’t have control, where you do and don’t have agency. Allow yourself periods of rest and retreat as needed, trusting you can and will come back with new ideas.