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Be Your Lord of the Year

Stepping back from the fire hose of astrology content that’s available on social media can put you into a better relationship with your own nervous system, astrology itself, and the loving, conscious universe that gives us astrology. The way I suggest taking that step back is by focusing less on whatever people like me are telling you about what’s going on in the sky right now, and focusing more on the one planet that is exerting considerable force upon you–your “lord” or “ruler” of the year. In a previous post, I wrote about why you might want to make this shift from consuming information to a practice of simply being the best version of your lord of the year that you can be. Maybe you saw this post and said to yourself, “Right on! I am ready for this!” And you have found out what that planet is, perhaps using this handy annual profections calculator.

Now what?

This post introduces the archetypes, or symbolism, of each planet that can act as your lord of the year, giving you a little bit of actionable advice about how to live the best version of your year. This sketch of each planet emphasizes two things–perceiving the symbolism of that planet all around you, and your ability to make conscious choices about your actions. Shifting from information to perception puts you in a more direct, participatory, maybe even a slightly awestruck relationship to the world you’re living in. And shifting from what’s going to happen to you to how you can respond shifts you from an external locus of control to an internal one. Fate is real. And how you respond to your fate matters. Perhaps the best way to consider your role as the enactor of your fate is the way archetypes or symbols often perfectly describe a thing and its opposite at the same time. Saturn can describe fearful, bitter collapse. It can also mean rising slowly but surely to meet a challenge in an enduring way that generates tremendous structural stability or gravitas. Everybody’s chart has information that pinpoints specific strengths and challenges over time, as well as how much latitude each person has to enact what I'm calling the “best” version of any year or any transit. But the reason astrology is useful at all is because it illuminates moments when your participation in all this divine unfolding of life is being requested; how it is being requested; and the choices you have as you try, as we all do, to enact what is in your loving heart.

You can start using all that illumination without getting a reading or knowing what the Moon is transiting today. And these sketches are a start! This is only the second installment of a body of content about developing a lord of the year practice. Stay tuned for deeper dives into each of the seven planets that act as rulers; more examples of how archetypes show up in everyday life; and more thoughts on how this practice functions as an embedded, 24-7 approach to actions astrologers have been prescribing for a long time, like journal writing, altar making, and remediation.

Stepping Into Your Year

If you are in a Moon year, think cool, moist, gestating, and receptive. You might find yourself eating more cooling foods like cucumbers or melons, taking more baths, or swimming more. The topics that might take center stage are motherhood, nurturing, community organizing, or the care of your own body and emotions. The Moon acts as a mirror, reflecting the light of the Sun. Similarly, you might find yourself in a support role; acting as a mirror for another person; or showing someone who they are. The best uses of this reflective power of the Moon temporarily set your ego aside, so that you can faithfully reflect the other, or act as a clear conduit for a collective message or vision, without distorting it with your own projections. It’s a great time to deeply consider what you need to feel safe, and how to make others feel safe. And it is a great time to pay close attention to the fleeting nature of moods and emotions, and the way they move through you, but are not you. The Moon moves very quickly, changing signs every 2.5 days and making an entire turn around the zodiac once a month. Similarly, you might find yourself moving at a faster pace, changing your mind, or busily running from one thing to the next. Enacting the best Moon year you can often involves calming your own nervous system, both because the Moon moves so damn fast, and so that you can just listen to and focus on other people. It’s a great time to meditate, exercise, and get appropriate sleep. The troubles that arise when the Moon is involved are often core wounds that are about our own mothers or how we were parented, or are about inadvertently outsourcing the care we need to take of ourselves onto others. A Moon year is a good time to develop an awareness of how much manipulation is necessary if you are going to center others in an effort to meet your own needs. This is why taking care of yourself and your own safety is so important in a Moon year. If you are safe, you can hold others, and let them be vulnerable, honestly and safely.

If you are in a Sun year, think hot, dry, and expressive. You might find yourself suddenly drawn to wearing gold, improving your posture, or surrounding yourself with sunflowers or marigolds. The Sun is the light that gives life–it’s the life force itself. It makes food grow, it makes the earth warm. It is a good time to attend to your soul’s needs, and often what the soul really needs is loving connection. It is also a good time to attend to what your ego needs, and often what the ego really needs is validation and recognition. The way the Sun describes both the ego and the soul is important to notice in a Sun year, because a good Sun year balances the needs of a healthy ego and the needs of a well-fed soul. Pay attention to the way your body reacts to me putting these two concepts together. If your gut reaction is to deny the ego and its needs, note that! And if you are the kind of person who downplays your spiritual life, write that down too. And work toward recognizing both. This will require bravery! Cultivating both your ego and your soul at the same time is an act of extreme vulnerability that puts you both on the hook and in the room with other people–never above them or better than them or serving them–but truly with them. The best possible outcome of a Sun year might be to wear your loving, soulful, proud heart on your sleeve and notice what taking that risk does to your relationships and your ability to lead others with honesty and integrity. This is important because the topics that are most likely to come up are fatherhood, leadership, and spiritual growth. You want to approach these parts of life bravely, honestly, and openly, knowing what is right in your heart. The biggest difficulty of a Sun year is that we live in a culture that teaches us to hide from ourselves and others, to protect ourselves even when the right thing to do is to be vulnerable and connected. You might find that this work you are doing to find your light and share it with others isn’t always appreciated or understood. Cultivating awareness of how you are being perceived by others is important in a Sun year because your intention to share your light might be misperceived by someone else as hogging the spotlight. Your honesty and vulnerability might be misperceived as audacity. This may or may not be a real reflection of your actions. But being able to step back simply, even if you’re being misunderstood, without shame, will be important.

If you are in a Mercury year, think cold, dry, smart, and endlessly flexible. You might find yourself mixing prints, learning how to do something that requires significant hand-eye coordination, or playing a lot of games. Anything that makes a whole out of parts–pizzas, quilting, statistics, western medicine–is mercurial. So is competition, writing, reading, editing, making a deal, buying, selling, and keeping track of something via a spreadsheet. Astrology is extremely mercurial, as is email, texting, social media, fixing a broken thing, and the organization of things in a space. We live in a super mercurial information-age, so the best use of a Mercury year is to get shit done. Write that to-do list and cross things off of it! Balance those books! Write and then edit a book! Run around and do errands! And have fun doing it, perhaps by making it into a game, because Mercury can make just about anything into a game, or by dividing it into parts. The secret superpower of Mercury is the little things, so in this year use that by breaking a big daunting task into smaller tasks, and handling each little task as the small deal it is, dispatching it with efficiency and zero emotional strain. Also, remember that not everything can become a small deal. The trouble that comes up in a Mercury year is often a function of making someone else’s big deal into a small deal, or by prioritizing details over the big picture. You might find yourself changing the meaning of someone’s writing as you relentlessly cut the word count or perfect the grammar, for example. Or focusing on doing all the little things right even though all that detail put you way over budget. Or you might find yourself arguing to win the argument, instead of arguing to come to a compassionate mutual understanding. This brings me to the other interesting caution to consider in a Mercury year–gaming the system at the expense of living your values. Mercury loves games and systems, so much so that it does not even make sense to try to argue that there’s more to life than making a game of the system here. Instead, I am going to suggest that in a Mercury year, it is important to consider the rules of the game, and the way the rules of the game articulate and enact your values. Make rules for your games in a Mercury year, and live by those rules! Lastly, on a really practical level, if you happen to be transitioning from a Sun year to a Mercury year, try to set out some big, audacious, heart-centered goals for that Mercury year before your birthday.

If you are in a Venus year, think cool, moist,receptive, and sensual. It’s a great time to adorn yourself, clean and attend to your surroundings, and make things more pleasant. You might find yourself eating chocolate and honey; seeing more beautiful flowers everywhere you go; or turning more heads because you might feel more beautiful. Good things just might come to you, more often than usual. You might experience more money, or get valued more highly in some way. You are also the one most likely to bring love, diplomacy, or even a harder nosed sense of what is truly compassionate, if that is what’s required, to a difficult situation. The best possible use of a Venus year might be to make everything around you more loving by bringing people together, working through conflict in a way that can really hear the other person, or by considering what works for the group. If you are not someone who generally feels soft, diplomatic, attractive, or pleasant, take advantage of this opportunity to do things that require seduction or persuasion! And be aware that there’s something atmospheric about Venus. Pay attention to your surroundings, and do what you can to ensure that they are orderly, pleasing, and comfortable. The things that are likely to take center stage include relationships, art, beauty, good sex, and parties. If it is fun, and it brings people together, and pleases the senses, you are all about it this year! This is especially true if ethical considerations like justice, inclusivity, and equity are served. It is important to remember in a Venus year that a truly good time, or a truly beautiful scenario, is beautiful and fun for everyone. If your beauty or indulgence comes at the expense of someone else, or if you are martyring yourself to make others happy, it’s not Venusian. It is also important to keep an eye out for too much of a good thing. There will be times when it will be difficult not to overindulge, and in those times it will be wise to remember that one of the most underplayed aspects of the Venus archetype is the notion of “enough.” Venus is a set of symbols, unlike Mercury, for example, that is very good at considering the whole. Eating so much candy that you get sick is possible in a Venus year! But so is eating a smaller number of very high quality candies. So is eating the candies slowly enough to be able to tell that you have stopped enjoying them. Call this behavior “savoring,” and not “restraint,” or “denial,” and you should be good to go.

If you are in a Mars year, think burning hot, driest, and so active that you are the god of war. You might find yourself yelling at other drivers, swearing more, working out with a passion that is new, or burning and cutting yourself more when you cook. Passion, courage, sex (all kinds), drive, incisive decisions that close some doors to open others, and forward fucking momentum are all on the agenda! It is a great time to start or double down on an exercise regimen, start or deepen your commitment to a martial art, split your own cordwood, dig a bunch of big holes, work on your house, learn how to weld, or bike across the country. It’s also a great time to do something that terrifies you; set ambitious goals and work really hard to make them real; make irrevocable but necessary decisions about who and what doesn’t belong in your life; and generally act as your own drill sergeant and pull your own head out of your own ass. Is this the easiest year? Unless you’re already Conor McGregor, no! But it’s kind of wonderful that the loving universe forces every single one of us to put on a warrior costume and do warrior things two years out of every twelve. It’s important to see Mars years as just these kinds of opportunities to play warrior, drill sergeant, and hard laborer, and give yourself assignments that will benefit from all your energy, focus, and a deep need to win. The best use of a Mars year is to create the conditions in which you will be in a very different place next year because you worked hard, courageously cut the right things out of your life, got into the right fights, and applied all your passion and drive to something worthwhile. And trust that there will be times in a Mars year when you misapply all this energy, with unfortunate results. In those moments when you get in the wrong fight; passive-aggressively stomp and slam around; or lay into a customer service representative… the one thing you can do is apologize and move on with as little shame as possible, remembering that everybody has Mars years and Mars transits. In these moments, if you can find the compassion you deserve for yourself, you will walk out of this year with grace and empathy to give when you’re faced with others’ totally human, totally wrongheaded warrior moments.

If you are in a Jupiter year, think warm and moist and active. Your role this year is to expand things; actively give blessings, resources, and mercy; find springs of abundance and growth; and make it rain. You might find yourself in roles like “teacher,” “compassionate employer,” or “patient parent.” You might find that you have extra wealth to spread around. You might also find that your thinking has become more visionary and expansive, and that you have what it takes to make people follow you. Some people in a Jupiter year are going to find wealth in god and some people are going to find money, but be on the lookout for some vein of resources to tap, and be on the lookout for a community to share them with. If a Venus year is likely to yield nice things simply appearing in front of you, a Jupiter year is more likely to involve working toward a rewarding result. For this reason, it is a good idea to think about what you’re working toward and set big goals in a Jupiter year! And it’s also prudent to consider how what you are doing is going to benefit others, and whether you are collapsing into the fundamentally extractive nature of our culture or doing your best to think with an abundance mindset and create something truly generative. Of course, expansion is not always positive. Personally, I have never had a Jupiter year that did not involve drinking and eating too much! Excess is a very real downside in a Jupiter year, and it is hard to combat because there is no direct internal governor within the archetype itself to stop you. In a Venus year, you want indulgence, and you want comfort. If you just slow down enough to recognize your discomfort, overindulgence is managed within the archetype. But in a Jupiter year, you will wind up working on the problem of excess indirectly, by sharing, and by deploying the wisdom you have developed over the course of your life in general. Sharing is a wonderful, natural antidote for excess that would work wonders if we didn’t live in a world where there is always more to share. And Jupiter loves wisdom! You will harness all your accrued wisdom in a Jupiter year, to profound effect. Be sure to turn some of that wisdom toward how you manage your vices.

If you are in your Saturn years, which always come two at a time, because that is so Saturnian, think coldest, driest, oldest, most mature. You might find yourself wearing more black, walking more slowly, thinking about your mortality. You will also want to think about what you need two years to build and mature into. Saturn obviously gets a bad rap, but these two years are an unparalleled opportunity to concretize ideas into real structures; face fears; stick with a problem and see it through; build the infrastructure you need; mature yourself; and develop qualities that are seriously underrated in our culture like patience and resilience. It makes a certain kind of sense that two Saturn years will always come after a Jupiter year, and all the big beautiful abundant questing and planning and ideating that come out of that time. And therein lies the opportunity. What huge ambitious plan did you hatch in a more optimistic time? And now that you’ve kinda talked it into a kind of flimsy existence, can you rise to the challenge to make it substantive? The most helpful way to look at the Saturn years is as an opportunity to build slowly and patiently. And a profound inspiration in this work, which requires facing boundaries, restrictions, and negation, might come from the simple Japanese proverb, Nana korobi ya oki, which translates to fall down seven times, get up eight. It is advisable in a Saturn year to surround yourself with stories of perseverance, endurance, and fortitude. And it is wise to remember that if a Mars year is a race, a Saturn year is a marathon. Pace yourself. Fuel yourself appropriately. Take good care of your body and spirit. A good guide in this might be my aikido sensei, whose day is very long and filled with training and teaching in an environment with no real comfort to speak of. And this man who wakes up at about seven and goes to bed at about 11:30 or midnight after a full day of bodily demand, and who challenges himself to sit on a bare floor on his shins whenever he needs to sit, and whose door is pretty much always open to his students and is in a leadership role in a broader community of teachers… this man with his relentless and largely self-imposed grind, takes a rest. Every day. He makes a real point of it. The challenge of the Saturn years require a similar approach, both in terms of bringing on the challenge and in terms of caring for yourself. Be so curious and open to the challenges that you want more! And take care of yourself with the same devotion and relentlessness that you apply to the challenges. In Saturn years, you will definitely act out of fear or reactivity sometimes. This will make it hurt more, but the good news is that another opportunity to face a challenge with steadfast curiosity and resilience will come along soon enough.

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