Seven days of creation, seven days of the week, seven visible planets. Twelve months of the year, 12 constellations, 12 tribes. Jewish mystical tradition perceives the connections between humanity and the starry skies to be one of mutual sympathy: that of macro and microcosm, “As above, so below.”
An intriguing illustration of this principle is found in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 2, where the encampment of the Israelites in the desert is described in detail. During the 40 years of wandering between Egypt and the land of Canaan, the Israelites were commanded to pitch their camp in the same configuration every time.
“The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: ‘The Israelites shall camp each with his standard, under the banners of their ancestral house; they shall camp around the tent of meeting at a distance.’”
Camped on the front, or east side, the standard of the division of Judah troop by troop. Camping next to it, the tribe of Issachar. The tribe of Zebulun on the south. The standard of the division of Reuben troop by troop camping next to it. The tribe of Simeon and the tribe of Gad on the west. The standard of the division of Ephraim troop by troop. Next to it Manasseh and the tribe of Benjamin. On the north, the standard of the division of Dan troop by troop. Camping next to it the tribe of Asher and the tribe of Naphtali (Numbers 2:1-29).
This very specific order of Yehuda (Judah) to the east opposite Ephraim to the west, and Dan to the north opposite Reuven to the south, is the mirror image of the 12 constellations of the Zodiac and their associated tribes. As the constellations of the zodiac surround the Earth, the 12 tribes encamped surrounding the tabernacle.
The repetition of this sacred and specific pattern – which might have been the collective embodiment of the Israelites’ mandala, or spiritual symbol, was reenacted 42 times by the generation in the desert as detailed in the Book of Numbers. This repetition might also have served to embed this cosmic pattern into a symbolic primal identity point during the process of developing tribal consciousness during those 40 years.
In fact, the 42 times the Israelites encamped in mirror-image of the order of the zodiac might have been a primitive version of a living, three-dimensional segulah, a vehicle for what the medieval Jewish commentators would later call the drawing down of ruhniyat, spiritual energy, which manifests as powerful energetic emanations above, attracted by a “sympathetic” image below. This gives an entirely fresh perspective of what is meant by am segula, a treasured or chosen people.
While we are no longer collectively encamped as 12 tribes around the mishkan, or tabernacle, the 12-house configuration of the zodiac is repeated in the natal (birth) charts of countries as well as people. The modern State of Israel’s natal chart is the starting point for understanding how the movements of the planets above reflect, describe, and act as an energetic conduit upon the goings-on below. • Setting the stage for the New Year
The year 5779 begins with a powerful energetic realignment as Mercury (Kochav in Hebrew), the planet of communication, enters its home sign of Virgo (Betula), in Israel’s 11th house (friends, community, collective, the klal). The roar and bombast of late summer gives way to cool, clear-headed thinking and rational, pragmatic analytics, particularly in areas around 11th house issues: commonly held collective ideals, beliefs and values. Mercury in Virgo delineates and defines “Who is my friend, and what do we have in common?” As 5779 kicks off, this question (and some possible answers) are brought to the forefront.
Mars (Ma’adim), traditionally known as the planet of war, had been retrograde since mid-June. At the New Year it is now stationed direct and speeding its way through Aquarius (D’li), the sign associated with the Jewish people (and the natural ruler of the 11th house of the zodiac, mentioned above in relation to Mercury’s transit through this house).
Aquarius is the most idealistic and humanitarian of all the 12 zodiac signs. Its tribal ruler Asher’s archetype is that of abundant giving to others and generous supplier of bounty to his brethren. Retrograde Mars in Aquarius takes away instead of giving, leaning toward the particularistic rather than the universal. Things will start to feel “back on track” or normalized as 5779 begins and Israel can reclaim some of her Aquarian/Asher-like energies, seeing herself in a more magnanimous light.
The lessons learned when the status-quo goes topsy-turvy need to be incorporated going forward with a more mature and developed collective self-awareness. This is further emphasized by Saturn (Shabtai), the planet associated with the Jewish people, which also stations direct in the sign of Capricorn (G’di), after being retrograde since mid-March. Hard work yields some very real results now! Persistence and patience pay off in very tangible ways. Those working behind the scenes for Israel’s good may be rewarded for their toil in very visible ways by the end of 2018. • Lunations and eclipses
The Moon is particularly important to the Hebrew calendar and the cycle of sacred time which is the Jewish New Year. Lunar phenomena such as eclipses tell the story of the universal energetic archetypes dominant during any given time. This year, four out of five eclipses occur on the Cancer (Sartan)/Capricorn axis. Moon-ruled cardinal water sign Cancer’s key words are food, home, mother and money. Saturn-ruled Cardinal Earth sign Capricorn’s are boundaries, business, father and structures.
Both are concerned with issues of security: Cancer with personal and emotional security, Capricorn with external and structural/institutional security. Cancer is your old china piggy bank, while Capricorn is the world’s bank. Cancer is curling up in your grandmother’s quilt eating comfort food. Capricorn is owning the quilting factory and the food processing plant. Cancer is the tribe of Reuben, concerned with his mother’s honor, overwrought as his brothers plotted to sell Joseph to a band of traveling nomads, the “initial vigor” of Jacob, who warns his firstborn of the dangers of excessive emotion. Capricorn is Dan, fierce guardian of the furthest boundaries and borders of Israel, a snake by the side of the road ready to strike the heel of the invading horde.
These Cancer/Capricorn dynamics flavor the eclipse cycle of the coming year. In Israel’s natal chart, Cancer rules her ninth house and Capricorn her third. These are the houses of communication and interface – third house with the immediate environment, and ninth with that which is exotic, far away or foreign. Venus (Noga), Israel’s ruling planet, is in her Cancerian ninth House, which is Mother Rachel crying for her exiled children to come home.
Israel’s parts of fortune in her Capricorn third House finds the pragmatic, practical path to worldly fortune right in her own backyard. Silicon Valley vs the Silicon Wadi? Cries of “Please come home” and “Make aliyah” followed by economic hardships and bureaucratic impediments to establishing financial security in the Land?
In relation to Israel, the eclipse dynamic of the Cancer/Capricorn axis in her ninth and third houses can be understood as crisis followed by enlightenment around issues of family identity (who is in, who is out of the “family”), the competing of domestic vs foreign influences and the sum of the bounty and resources each brings to the table, and the balance between emotion and practicality in dealing with security issues.
The full Moon at one-degree Taurus (Shor) on October 24, which is the full Moon of the month Heshvan, falls directly on Israel’s seventh house cusp. Partnerships are illuminated, common causes and shared values are emphasized. Occurring as it does during the Venus retrograde season, this full Moon may bring back an old friend, a previously proposed idea or prior partnership, particularly in the peace-making and diplomatic fronts.
The lunar eclipse-superMoon-full Moon at zero-degrees Leo (Arye or Ari) on Tu Bishvat (January 20) falls directly on the mid-heaven (MC) of Israel’s natal chart – the most public place in any chart, front and center where everyone can see it. There’s no hiding from what goes on at this critically important location! A Lunar eclipse is when the Moon’s light is occluded by Earth’s shadow and can only happen on a full Moon.
In astrological symbolism, “light” is consciousness, and the hiding and then revealing of the Moon’s light during an eclipse enacts the process of revelation. For something to be revealed, it must first be hidden. In the case of this eclipse, what is hidden is hidden in plain sight (the MC or 10th house cusp).
Leo is the proud, passionate, “royal,” dramatic and leadership-oriented fixed fire sign, the Arye or lion, and at the height of Israel’s natal chart, an appropriate guardian of her borders. A dramatic revelation may unfold at this time around Israel’s leadership. It is worth noting that this eclipse falls in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eighth House, the place of shared values, valuables, resources and intimacies. Secrets may be revealed at this time involving things Bibi “shares” with others (including his constituents), especially material world (Taurus) things.
The full Moon of April 19 at 29 degrees of Libra (Moznaim) occurs on Passover, directly on top of Israel’s first house cusp/ascendant – her “personality,” so to speak. This is extremely significant in terms of Israel’s identity. This very same sensitive point (29 Libra) was triggered during the solar eclipse of October 23, 1957 (four days prior to the Israeli presidential election), with the Sun and Moon both conjunct at 29 Libra. Israel (the people, not the modern state) was “born” on Passover, so to speak, so issues of identity are reviewed and confirmed during this special time. Look for identity-renewing actions taken by Israel during April’s full Moon and thereafter.
The new Moon of May 4 at 14 degrees Taurus is conjunct the north node in Israel’s natal seventh house (partnerships, legal matters, issues of justice and equity). The Lunar nodes (north and south), embodied as the T’li (dragon or “hook”) in Judaism’s foundational mystical work, the Sefer Yetzirah, symbolize fate, destiny and the specific tikkun (fixing) of this lifetime in any natal chart. Israel’s north node in her seventh house indicates her tikkun: Fate and destiny’s fulfillment lies in partnership – sharing the very Earth she was founded upon (Venus-ruled Taurus is the fixed Earth sign) and redeeming it (Taurus is nature, environmentalism, conservationism, natural resources) in harmonious partnership.
An extremely idealized version of this symbolic picture might have been seen in the early days of Israel’s kibbutz movement. The new Moon, occurring after Sundown on May 4, kicks off the month of Iyar and the 15th day of Sefirat Ha’omer, the counting between Passover and Shavuot, which is characterized by hessed she’b’tiferet, loving-kindness in compassion. The Earth itself, water resources shared with others, and “territory” come into focus. The best possible outcome for this transit would be a renewed commitment to healing the very land of Eretz Yisrael itself – soil, water, and all natural resources, in partnership with all who share those resources within her.
The new Moon the early afternoon of June 3 at 12 Gemini (Teomim) is closely conjunct with Israel’s natal Mercury, planet of communication (and ruling planet of Gemini) in Israel’s eighth house. This is Erev Rosh Hodesh Sivan, the 44th day of the Omer: Gevura Sh’b’Malchut: the manifestation of strength and power into this world. Sivan is the month in which Am Yisrael received the Torah at Mount Sinai, and it is said that we “saw the sounds” as they were being said by God, the impact of which was so intense we begged for God to allow Moses to tell us the commandments instead, as we could not handle the intensity of the transmission. Mercury’s role as “the Sun’s scribe” mirrors Moses as the scribe of God, is triggered and enhanced by this New Moon. In the eighth House, Mercury/Moon speaks “from the heart” to those with whom we share values, valuables, resources, and intimacies. Watch for important communications from the highest levels of government regarding what Israel “shares” with others.
The big event is the full Moon of June 17 at 25 Sagittarius (Keshet), which conjuncts Israel’s natal Jupiter at the galactic center: 27 Sagittarius, in her second house. Expansive Jupiter’s key word is “big” – also large, gigantic, super-sized, expansive, enhanced and more. Jupiter is Tzedek in Hebrew, indicating its beneficent nature, and 27 Sagittarius, the astronomical galactic center, is symbolic of being smack dab in the middle of things – the eye of the storm or the center of the galaxy. Everything revolves around this central point, and the State of Israel’s natal Jupiter here is tremendously fortunate, “lucky,” and blessed. In Israel’s second house those blessings are manifested materially – abundant blessings of the earth and of heaven. The full Moon of the month of Sivan 5779 promises an outpouring of shefa (Divine influence) and bracha (blessing), may we see it speedily and in our day!
The new Moon on the eve of the month of Av on July 31 at 8 Leo is located exactly between Israel’s own natal Moon at 4 Leo and Pluto at 12 Leo in the 10th House of Israel’s natal chart. Publicly played-out power struggles and dramatic emotional displays are possible as existing structures are challenged by newcomers (perhaps some of those being women), and aggression (defensive or offensive in nature) is triggered by emotional responses to perceived threats, both internal and external.• The retrograde of Venus, Israel’s ruling planet
Every natal chart has a “ruling planet,” even that of the modern State of Israel. The planetary ruler of a natal chart is the planet associated with the constellation on the ascendant (“rising sign”) of the chart. In the case of Israel’s chart, that is Venus at 29 degrees (the “ultimate” or “critical” degree of any of the 12 Zodiac signs) of Venus-ruled Libra, the sign of partnership, justice and judgment.
Even though the majority of Israel’s natal first house (her “personality” or how she presents to the world, her outer “dress” so to speak) is contained within the Mars-ruled sign of Scorpio, her actual first house cusp at 29 Libra describes her beauty, her sense of partnership with the many diverse peoples who make up her population (kibbutz galuyot, the ingathering of exiles), her internalized ideals of justice and righteousness, and the impetus to be “fair and balanced” in all things.
Venus will be retrograde in the sign of Scorpio (Akrav), in Israel’s natal first house, from October 5 until November 16. By the time Venus retrograde is over, she will have backtracked into Israel’s 12th House, triggering subconscious/unconscious defensive reactions against perceptions of unfair treatment by others, particularly around diplomacy (also ruled by Libra).
Venus returns to her original retrograde point of 11 degrees Scorpio by December 17, and some of the manifestations of this transit may include secret diplomatic efforts, sub-rosa negotiations, undercover operations and the repair of relationships with “partners” which may have frayed. • Other planetary retrogrades
Jupiter’s retrograde in Scorpio and Sagittarius April 10-August 11 occurs within Israel’s second House. In plain English: setbacks and impediments in the material world and the financial markets. Reverses in inflation (deflation?) and perhaps deflated hopes in commodities that were thought to be the “next big thing” (cryptocurrencies?) may occur during this time.
Saturn’s retrograde in Capricorn from April 30-September 18 occurs within Israel’s third House of communication and immediate environment. Obstacles and difficulties in the communications infrastructure may lead to a security breach.
The retrograde of Uranus (Oron) in Taurus and Aries (Taleh) which began on August 7, 2018, will station direct on January 6, 2019. Instability and surprises in seventh-house matters – equal partnerships (or partnerships that are supposed to be equal), issues of justice and equity which may have been triggered by this retrograde will be steered in the right direction after Uranus re-enters Taurus and begins in earnest his seven-year journey through Israel’s seventh house. At the end of this process, sometime in early 2025, Israel will have a completely different and transformed relationship with “partners” they thought they had prior to 2018.
Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius from November 16-December 5 occurs mostly within Israel’s second House, the place of her values, valuables, resources and all “material world.” Misunderstandings and miscommunication around issues of money, property possessions and belongings may occur, particularly involving “foreign” entities. This could be anything from confusion, new rules or revisions to old rules regarding foreign ownership of real estate and property.
Mercury Retrograde in Pisces (Dagim) from March 5-26 takes place within Israel’s fifth House, the place of romantic love, pleasure, the “inner child,” creativity, children and all “creations” which are symbolically the offspring of the creative, and all manner of “play.” Israel’s experience of Mercury retrograde in dreamy, imaginative Pisces may trigger a misreading of social and diplomatic signals, over-reaction to criticism, or feelings of victimization at the hands of those she considers to be her “creations” or offspring.
Mercury retrograde in Leo and Cancer from July 9-August 2 begins at four degrees Leo, the exact degree of Israel’s natal Moon in Leo in her 10th house (public self), backtracking into Israel’s ninth house – the place of religion, philosophy, higher education, “foreign” or exotic people, places and things, and long-distance travels. Mercury retrograde on Israel’s natal Moon may well signal a feeling of being misunderstood by “foreigners” or those outside the boundaries of Israel’s identity. But because Mercury will make a conjunction to Israel’s Mid-heaven and thereby an opposition to her fourth house cusp (“home” and “family”), misunderstandings and extremely heated, emotional miscommunications may come from those that Israel might normally consider to actually be family – perhaps the Jews of the Diaspora, or Israelis within Israel proper who raise a critical voice.
This Mercury retrograde echoes some of the previous themes, i.e. feelings of victimization or betrayal by “family.” Remember that these perceptions are entirely subjective, and one of helpful aspects of Mercury retrograde is the ability to review and rewrite past agreements, contracts and partnerships – but not until the retrograde has passed. The retrograde period itself is an opportunity to review and rewind, polish and perfect.
The final Mercury Retrograde of 2019 occurs from November 1-18 in the sign of Scorpio. While these dates fall in the year 5780, it’s worth mentioning that this relatively short retrograde in Israel’s first house re-triggers the very issues brought up by the retrogrades in March and July. All three Mercury retrogrades discussed are mostly in water signs Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio. Water is emotion, and Mercury retrograde in a water sign is a recipe for mixed signals, messed up communications, and murky misconceptions.
The modern State of Israel (which, to my knowledge, does not regularly consult a Jewish astrologer, although she should) might keep in mind that preconceived notions make powerful potions for stirring up strife. Offense is taken, not given. Israel: Pass-over perceived insults during 5779/2019 and you’ll save yourself a world of hurt. We need not stoop to conquer! The writer authors a monthly Jewish astrology column for J. The Jewish News of Northern California as well as a monthly mainstream astrological column for Chronogram of New York’s Hudson Valley. She is a graduate of the Richard S. Diner School of Jewish Studies at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union and the author of Astrolojew: The Big Book of Jewish Astrology, due out in 2019. Follow Astrolojew on Facebook and Twitter, visit astrolojew.com, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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