2023: The year ahead 

2023 is a year of beginnings and new directions. A lot is happening in the Astro-sphere and it’s certainly not destined to be a dull or monotonous year ahead.

We have finally put the challenging and frustrating Saturn, Uranus transits of the last few years behind us. We have endured the passage of Saturn through both its home signs since 2018 and we have navigated the Neptune Jupiter confusion. This year is about being flexible and focusing on the future.

We shift our emphasis away from the big world corporations, financial institutes and global systems to a more personal relationship and community-based focus. We will continue to experience the aftermath of the last decade in which our institutions, governments and leaderships failed and proved unsustainable as corruption and cronyism revealed their truth. But now there is a sense of fresh outlook and positive possibilities as we begin to turn our attention to what matters.

January starts at a pace and shifts the energy of the last few months back into full speed ahead with several of the planets turning after being retrograde at the end of 2022. This gives us a long run with all the planets in forwards motion through to late April and action-orientated Mars moving forwards all year.

The transformation in energy is emphasised by several major sign changes this year. Saturn moves into the water sign Pisces. Pluto shifts into the air sign Aquarius and the eclipses fall into an Aries Libra pattern.

Full steam ahead in January!

Mars has been in the air sign Gemini for an exceptionally long time. Since last August. On January 12, it finally comes out of its retrograde phase and the physical drive energy that has been suppressed and introverted can at last start to get things done and progress can be made in real terms. This may be a chance to address conflict situations where two sides have opposing agendas and also get delayed plans underway. Mars speeds through half the Zodiac for the rest of the year giving a surge of energy to all the slower planets on the way.

The next planet to turn after its recent retrograde is Mercury the speedy planet of communications. It has been retrograde since just before the New year and this extra time in Capricorn gave us time to consider our ambitions for the longer term but it will only be after January 18 that we can start to give life to them.

The final of the trio to move forwards is Uranus, the planet of revolution, innovation and freedom. Since late August this wild card planet has had its progress through earth sign Taurus slowed down. Now in 2023, we may see a fast-tracked path towards new technologies that involve our Venus-ruled life scenarios. This is about money and transactions, it concerns what we value and what sustains us in physical terms. It affects food, resources and the ability to maintain stability for our everyday needs. We are likely to see a move towards more AI technologies taking over some of the more mundane tasks. Digital-only exchanges are promoted to replace cash currency. The availability of synthetic food is also likely to be rapidly introduced this year to replace traditional sources of nourishment. The forward motion of Uranus will push the advances in technologies right into the ‘cyber age’ now that it is moving free from the restriction of the recent Saturn square. There may be insight and sudden awakening when it comes to the environment and the whole issue of climate. We may see a lot of new thinking around our relationship to shared resources and who has access to them. These themes will be uppermost during the following years while Uranus moves through Taurus until 2026

Mercury Retrograde

30 December 2022 to 18 January 2023 in Capricorn / 22 April to 15 May in Taurus / 24 August to 15 September in Virgo / 14 December in Capricorn to 24 December then to 2 January 2024 in Sagittarius 

As usual, Mercury will spend about a quarter of the year ‘going backwards’. In 2023 this planet of the mind, speech and connections will retrograde in earth signs for all but a few days at the end of the year.

This earthy element puts extra focus on the practical side of life and provides us time to reconsider what we want to express before we put things into action. It is wise to consider what we are saying or planning for ourselves. The areas of your chart with earth signs are where you can give more attention to your life during these retrograde phases.

Big themes and a new era

The two tough guy planets of our system are Saturn and Pluto. These are the taskmasters of the bunch and the ones that insist on our growth and development. With both these heavy-duty planets we are often challenged to work at removing obstacles and we have to let go of outmoded habits or lifestyles to gain new experiences. They are both also timekeepers as they move through the Zodiac heralding shifts in social trends and our collective evolution.

Saturn in Pisces

Saturn is moving into Pisces on March 7 and will be in this Jupiter-ruled water sign now until May 2025. It takes around 28 years to come back to a sign and its last cycle in Pisces started in May 1993 through to April 1996. This comes after being in its home signs of Capricorn and Aquarius since December 2017. This is a big shift in energy as Pisces is so unlike Saturn’s quality of solidity and endurance. Pisces is the sign most associated with a lack of boundaries and merging with mystical and imaginative dimensions. This year will give you a chance to put your dreams into reality and also have your fantasy given some realism. A lot of progress can be made in your spiritual life. There may be themes involving spiritual practice or disciplines. Creative arts and imaginative projects can be manifest using Saturnian diligence and focus. Another potential for this combination on a mundane level could be the introduction of invisible boundaries. This could be through limitations on areas of travel using tracking or digital ID. There may be restrictions placed on what personal beliefs or opinions can be expressed openly. Communication systems may become more organised and regulated over the next couple of years. Saturn will be retrograde in Pisces between June 18 and November 4. This will bring some review time to consider the direction this placement is taking us. To use the Saturn in Pisces energies constructively, take the time to manifest your dreams and imagine your future in a very real way.

Pluto in Aquarius

The biggest shift we have this year is the small Planet Pluto moving into Aquarius on March 23.

This planet has not been in this sign since 1777-1798 and it will only finally leave this sign again in 2044. It has been in Capricorn since 2008, which heralded the financial and bank collapses ending the ‘Celtic Tiger’ phase. Despite the chorus that, “This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” we are put on notice that Pluto brings the destruction of whatever is in its path as it clears the way for the new and improved version. It is often difficult to accept the insistence of a Pluto transit. We have to let go of ways of being, lifestyles and sometimes possessions or people that we want to hold on to as the evolution that is taking place makes no allowances for our personal preferences. Pluto has the job of purging out the ‘toxins’ that cause disease, greed, corruption and falsity. It can be an uncomfortable process as the “detox” occurs, but the sense of relief and the potential for self-mastery are gifts to be valued. 

Aquarius is the sign of the water bearer, symbolising the flow of new knowledge and ideas to mankind. It is a fixed-air sign that holds humanitarian ideology and advanced social systems as its Utopian model. Aquarius represents the evolved human with equality and fairness at its core. The changes and modifications that this era will bring are going to happen slowly over the next couple of decades. There will be some seismic shifts and departures from what we have known but they will be unfolding over time for most of the changes. The primary meaning of Pluto is power. Who or what holds the power? Is it your unconscious beliefs or fears? Does something or someone have power over you? Aquarius in simple terms is the ‘common man’ and it represents the collective as a human race. This is a time when the term ‘people power’ can take on huge significance. What we get is down to us. We can use our ability to imagine and create our world. The experiences we have depend on how we respond and react. It is up to us as individuals to take responsibility and dream our preferred future into reality. 

Pluto will be retrograde and return to Capricorn from June 11 through 2024. This is time to review what we have felt during the ingress into Aquarius so we can better prepare for the future. It’s the opportunity to refine and complete our current work and goals before we move more fully into the Pluto in Aquarius era. 

Jupiter brings the

Jupiter moved into Aries by the end of 2022 and will be in this fire sign until May 16 when it moves into earth sign Taurus for the remainder of the year. Jupiter turns retrograde on September 4 and will be in Taurus until late May 2024.

Whilst in Aries, Jupiter favours new starts, growth initiatives and a direct approach to achieving your purpose. Jupiter is about expansion, aspirations and finding a better path in life. Aries will confront and push forwards despite obstacles or resistance. There could be further aggressive expansion, especially in areas of high competition or conflict industries. There may be a hint of the righteous crusader during these months as people feel they need to take a stand and fight for what is right, in their opinion. In Aries, there is only one opinion so this combination does not foster tolerance or negotiation. But this energy is not just about a confrontation between people. It can bring a lot of constructive renewal. There is the courage to take the lead and activate new initiatives. It brings a generally optimistic drive that pushes forwards with enthusiasm to build a better life and become a better person too. This is about being our best selves and reaching fearlessly towards that as a goal. At worst there is risk-taking, overconfidence and a ‘might is right’ attitude. Use this energy to drive forwards and motivate yourself to act in a way that represents your higher values. Start a new training program, develop your assertion skills and try new challenges.

As this planet of opportunity and expansion moves through Taurus it is a much softer planet and will bring focus to our resources, food and money systems. It now shares this sign with innovative Uranus and can expand and increase the Uranian spark of invention and inspiration. There may be improved supply chains or a food revolution as a more ‘hands-on’ approach to food becomes desirable. Jupiter can bring some balance and benevolence to Uranus in Taurus themes. It may not be to everyone’s taste to consume high-tech synthetic ‘food’. The sensory sign of Taurus loves the real earthy experience and is prepared to put in the work to provide for its needs. This time may bring a more home-based or rustic approach to providing basic commodities. 

Venus dancing with Mars
in Leo 

Venus plays a larger-than-usual role in this year’s dynamic. There is a strong emphasis on personal relationships and how we share or connect on a personal level. Venus joins with Jupiter on March 2 and this is the combination of the two brightest ‘stars’ in our troop. Venus passes by Jupiter every year but in 2023 they occupy almost the same place as viewed from earth. It is worth trying to get a glimpse of this magnificent sight in the early evening sky after sunset in late February as the two benefits draw closer together.

This is also the year of a Venus retrograde which only happens once every second year. It is part of an eight-year Venus retrograde cycle but in 2023 the entire retrograde is in fire sign Leo. Also significant this year the planet of love shares the fire sign Leo with the planet of passion, Mars from June 5 to July 10.

This is destined to be a dramatic and active time for love and relationships. A Venus retrograde often brings up past issues or a return to a previous love scenario. There is a need to complete or finalise something and this is the opportunity to find closure or put old patterns to rest. In Leo, it is not just about romantic love or relationships. The retrograde allows us to re-evaluate and choose what we want and love in life. Venus rules over all the things we value and want to enjoy more. It is the Muse, and in creative and expressive Leo we can find all the arts, drama and self-expression become bigger, bolder and more attractive. Audacious gestures of generosity and warmth may be the theme for our summer months. The passion that Mars stirs up can create a desire to go beyond our usual limits and not take anything less than the best. It can be a selfish kind of love that expects a dramatic response or it can be a feisty fearless demonstration of heartfelt desire. Either way, we can expect some heat and passion to erupt.

Venus gets very close to a conjunction with Mars just before he rushes on into Virgo on July 10. Venus retreats backwards on July 23 until September 4, as she returns to become the Morningstar once more.

Eclipses bring in the changes 

Annular Total Solar Eclipse April 20 in Aries / Penumbral Lunar Eclipse May 5 in Scorpio / Annular Solar Eclipse October 14 in Libra / Partial Lunar Eclipse October 28 in Taurus

Another feature of 2023 that adds to this being a significant year for changes are the eclipses. We have the usual four events that come in two pairs but there are some out-of-the-ordinary features this year.

An Eclipse can literally be about a moment when the light is obscured this can translate to a time when we can’t see clearly and changes can be made whilst we are not looking. This creates a good time for inner reflection or to make significant intentions to let go of something – to make it disappear. It is not a good time to make major decisions or undertakings as the truth of a situation is not apparent.

The shift out of the Taurus Scorpio eclipse axis allows us to move on to the new focus. This year there is a final cleansing and letting go of many entrenched habits. We have a Hybrid Solar eclipse in April in the last degree of Aries. This is the second New Moon to fall in Aries this year. It is the first Solar eclipse in Aries since 2005 and forms part of a 19-year Moon cycle. The Aries Libra nodal axis is highlighted this year and through 2025. Finding the balance between autonomy and sharing is part of our collective destiny now.

The Aries Solar eclipse on 20 April empowers the individual and may bring a strong leadership role to the front within the year. There is a martial element to this Solar eclipse as well as the theme of taking one’s autonomy seriously. The energy to be worked out may be the choice between being led by a powerful leader or being self-governing as an autonomous individual.

The Scorpio Lunar Eclipse on May 5 is combined with Mercury and Uranus so we can expect some hidden information to come to light to produce a plot twist we couldn’t have expected and this can affect our collective destiny. 

The Libra Solar eclipse on October 14 is influenced by Pluto’s retrograde in the last few degrees of Capricorn. This is the time to let go of any habits or compulsions that mean you are allowing others’ attitudes or opinions to dampen your autonomy.

The Taurus Lunar eclipse on October 28 is combined with Jupiter, Mars and Mercury and this can bring conflicts to the surface to be resolved. This is a time when new systems of money and business transactions are implemented. 

A Comet or not 

The year starts with the potential for a comet to appear in the northern skies during late January and early February. If it becomes visible to the naked eye it has an astrological significance that is another herald of big change. Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is not a pretty name but it could be quite the bright star for a short while. It is due to become brightest around February 2. 

If it does become visible then it will be in the sign of Gemini and approaching Mars. It is hard to predict a comet before its appearance as they are very unpredictable and it may not even show up. But the Mars Gemini dynamic could bring more talk of conflict but also this could be a time of putting two sides to a story and laying cards on the table. We will have to wait and see how this event shapes up.

The power of Pluto and
personal integrity 

Overall 2023 is a very different year from the ones we have endured recently. There is a new paradigm emerging as Pluto moves slowly into Aquarius and like any beginning phase there is much to smooth out as it unfolds. We can expect this year to be ‘interesting’ as the pace of change is accelerated and it may be hard to remember what things were like only a year or two ago, This is a year of laying down the next stage and as individuals we have a lot more power than we recognise. We do not have to confront the ‘powers that be’ in global scenarios. Unless that is your personal calling. But we do have responsibility for our inner landscape and the quality of our thoughts and emotions. This is where we can take absolute power and if we wield this in the right way we really can create a world to our liking.

January Sun Signs 

Aries: If you get involved in charity events or social action groups that spark your interest over the New Moon phase you will make headway in many different areas of your life through the people you meet and the information you discover. You may be asked to take responsibility or even a leadership role or to contribute and participate more fully than you have in the past. You will enjoy being part of a team or group effort now. Being part of a community or circle of friends and building your social network is important to you at this time. 

Taurus: Over the New Moon don’t mix business with pleasure if you want to avoid trouble. Not everyone will be on your side over the next few weeks so you may want to choose your friends carefully and keep your personal thoughts and opinions to yourself. With your career and reputation very important to you at this time, you can make significant gains regarding your ambitions. Recognition for your efforts and receiving credit for your accomplishments are likely now, but only if you’ve ‘done your homework’. This is an excellent time to ask for a promotion, or to engage the support of those in positions of higher authority. 

Gemini: This is a time to lift yourself out of your usual mundane concerns in order to get a larger perspective on your life. Although it may all seem overwhelming for a while remember that as long as you keep plugging away you will make gains. You really can get things up and running if you try.  A chance to do things a little differently will make all the difference in the world. Don’t slow down because someone can’t keep up with you. You have to maintain the momentum. A teacher or mentor who appears this New Moon may be particularly important to you later.

Cancer: Don’t push your luck now. Joint financial affairs and investments are likely to be an issue at this time, and it is a good time to clarify each person’s expectations and to take care of any legal business. On a personal level, there is a desire to intensify the level of intimacy and honesty in your closest relationships and to clear away anything in yourself which is impeding that deeper union you seek. Any temptation to make abrupt decisions and changes could lead to additional problems that you can do without. Stick to what’s clear and avoid taking on other peoples responsibilities. 

Leo: Partnerships, marriage, and one-to-one relationships take your attention now and you are called upon to cooperate and perhaps to relinquish some of your own personal interests for the sake of harmony and mutual benefit. You may end up questioning yourself as well as the motives of the people around you. Get to the bottom of things while you can. Once you have all the facts you will be in a much better position to make a decision. Don’t let anyone pull you in a direction you don’t want to go and do what’s best for you but the emphasis is on ‘we’ rather than ‘me’. 

Virgo: Doing your best work and taking pride in it are a focus for you now. You should be able to make some worthwhile career moves or at least secure your current position so that you don’t have to worry about your financial future. This is a good time to examine how you use your time and energy, with an eye to improving your efficiency and productivity. Watch out for health matters as you are concerned with your body now, and you may be inspired to begin a self-improvement program, create better habits, or begin a new diet or fitness plan.

Libra: You are energised and inspired creatively and emotionally coming up to this New Moon, and you want to bring forth all that’s deep within you. You express yourself more freely, playfully, and spontaneously and are more willing to take chances. You will have Lady Luck in your corner so be sure to look for good deals. Social activities, travel and attending different cultural events will all lead to meeting people who can help further your goals. The dramatic and performing arts, sports and games, or other forms of self-expression and entertainment appeal strongly to you now. You can accomplish much if you set your mind to it. 

Scorpio: From the beginning of this month you will have been enjoying the success that you worked hard to achieve. Don’t be too quick to put your energy into new projects as you approach the New Moon, wait until the end of the month. All kinds of creative work are favoured and you might find yourself more closely involved with children at this time.  Don’t be surprised if there is some conflict between your personal enjoyment and what others think you should be doing for fun. Those things that need to be discussed and settled with the family can be dealt with in the next few weeks.

Sagittarius: Take a trip back into your past and you will find the answers you are looking for. Now it’s time to make changes instead of doing a repeat performance. Taking time to talk with neighbours and folks you cross paths with daily may result in more positive and smoother-running relationships generally. You’ll want  to fritter away your time on fun and social events over the New Moon, but this may not be at all bad, things have been serious enough for you to want to take a break now. This is a good time to participate in or contribute to any community events in your area

Capricorn: Money, possessions, financial security, and practical matters are a focus for you now. You can make some very interesting professional or financial moves this month. Be ready to put your money on the table in order to get ahead. If you have tended to be generous or extravagant with your resources, you may begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the least, it should become clear to you what your next steps should be regarding your finances. Your astute vision will enable you to correctly assess the right investment, job or any other money matter that arise after the New Moon phase.

Aquarius: During this time you can make an impression on others by making a strong statement to the world about who you are. People recognise you and are likely to follow your lead, or at the least they stay out of your way. You are likely to feel more confident and vital now. However, you may be so preoccupied with yourself and your own desires that you unintentionally ignore other people and their needs. Include the ones you love in your plans and things will get progressively better. You should be able to strengthen the bond with someone who has been an influence in your life.

Pisces: You’ll be torn between what you want to do and what you have to do. Retreating from the world for a while and spending some quiet time alone to relax and rejuvenate appeals strongly to you now. You may feel like you are at low ebb and as if nothing is happening or you may simply not want to be ‘where the action is’. Don’t overreact, overdo or over-indulge to compensate for things not going according to your plans. Sometimes it’s best to do what you must, get it out of the way now. You’ll get your turn to please yourself soon. Competitive ambitions and ego drives are on hold now.

Kate Arbon

Kate Arbon is a professional Astrologer based in West Cork.

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