A Cross-Quarter Day
For many astrological observers 2023 is dominated by the month of March, with Pluto taking a short trip into Aquarius, and Saturn finally leaving both of their homes behind when entering Pisces. I have considered that a lot of this monumental movement will be happening around the Equinox, close to the Sun reaching the 0° Aries point on the first of the quarter days.
I am writing this at a cross-quarter day, the beginning of Imbolc. One translation of the word is, “in the belly of the mother.” In the Pagan calendar, it is celebrated on the 1st -2nd of February; a fire festival honouring the growing strength of the light while the nights are still longer than the days. It is a celebration of the seed of life beginning to gestate in the darkness of the womb of the Earth, while above ground, we are still under the cloak of winter.
The word Imbolc is a word taken from the Gaelic Oimelc which references milk, usually ewe’s milk. This is the start of lambing season; many farmers will be working long hours helping their ewes to birth new life and then protecting the flock from the elements.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the growing light is now noticeable a few weeks after the rebirth of the light at the Solstice. Brigid, the Virgin Bride Goddess, is honoured by lighting lamps, making corn dollies, and blessing the seeds and tools that will bring future crops. The Christian church still carries on this tradition of strengthening the light with the festival of Candlemas, lighting candles in churches to represent the presentation of Christ to the Temple and the blessing and purification of the Mother Mary.
However, the astrological point of Imbolc is, like all cross-quarter days, comes at 15° of the fixed/solid signs of the season. This year that date is 4th February at 15° of Aquarius—the exact midpoint between the previous solstice and the next equinox. It is believed that the Celts used these cross-quarter points to mark the beginning of the season. Therefore, Imbolc is the first day of spring in the Celtic and Pagan calendars. (Samhain, commonly celebrated as Halloween, is believed to be their New Year's Eve, the end of the year, hence the connection to all things darkness, death, and the underworld.)
Cross-quarter days are connected to all four of the fixed/solid signs of the zodiac and speak to the energy that is firmly anchored at the time of the year. We feel the current season has been in place for many months and that the next season ahead is far off. In Aquarius, the fixed coldness of air, as depicted by the winter season in the N. Hemisphere, is maybe the hardest to pin down into a structure. But walking out on a cold winter's day with the wind blowing in your face, you can literally feel your skin drying out and going cold and numb.
Looking at the chart of the exact point of astrological Imbolc here in the UK, I am considering the seeds that are being blessed, the tools that are being cleaned, repaired, and prepared for the coming season, and what are we choosing to be wed to this year. Those seeds and tools are in the charts of that exact point where you find yourself worldwide. The planet Saturn in this chart at Imbolc 2023 in London UK, is still very dominant in its own masculine domicile of Aquarius. It is also in their own Egyptian terms, but in the Decan of the Moon in the Chaldean order, and the dodecatemoria* of Sagittarius. This speaks to the Moon as the archetype of the Goddess, at this time of year, Brigid, and of Sagittarius, the sign where we turn from the darkest part of the year back to the growing light half. The Sun is only a few days away from joining Saturn for the yearly reset, just weeks before Saturn moves into Pisces.
Saturn, while very strong now, will, before the equinox point, have lost all dignity bar its face rulership. Pluto will be dipping His toe into Aquarius and testing the air for a sojourn this year before returning back to Capricorn just before the Summer solstice. And the secret that I began this thought process with this Imbolc is all the 15°cross-quarter days hold the energy of their opposite sign in their dodecatemoria, that 2-½° section of the sign, in this case, is the tiny part of Aquarius that is the most Leo it can be.
In this Imbolc chart, the ASC at 29° Scorpio is trine by a Moon high up in her domicile. She is about to enter her Full Moon phase, which got me thinking about this connection to the cross-quarter days. The Full Moon will be at 16°, the Sun in the sign of Aquarius, still in the dodecatemoria of Leo, and the Moon in the sign of Leo in that 2-1/2 °of Aquarius, just as they too have moved over that cross-quarter marker! The promise that even at the point of the season we in modern terms believe to be the middle of winter, holds all the knowledge that in exactly six months' time we will be in the middle of summer, where the Sun is the King awaiting his fate as John Barleycorn. And so the continuous cycle of birth, life, and death goes on. Nothing is truly fixed or solid, everything is transient.
*Dodecatemoria, 12th Parts, Duad, Dwad = Each zodiac sign is itself split into 12, it begins with the 1st 2-1/2° of the sign as its own, e.g. Aquarius 0-2.49° is also Aquarius, making these degrees strongly connected to its sign, the next 2-1/2° belong to Pisces and so on. The last 2-1/2° belong to the sign before in this case Capricorn. The late Hellenistic astrologer Firmicus Maternus** mentions the use of these points as fundamental to reading a chart.
**“Some people think that from these the whole essence of the chart can be found and they claim that whatever is hidden in the chart can be revealed by the duodecatemoria.” (Matheseos Libri VIII, Frimicus Maternus, trans by Jean Rhys Bram)