November 21/22 - December 20/21
Mutable Fire: the meaning of experience
Objectively: Year's longest, lengthening nights. Self immerses in a shared dream, a group consensus. It reflects a general moral or philosophical perspective rather than a personal one. Ego orients more towards social purpose than individual expression.
Subjectively: Day's light of consciousness concentrates into its shortest pulse, the condensed meaning of a cycle. Sun's southward movement slows, then stops at the winter solstice: its most direct alignment with the galactic center; its greatest participation in a fellowship of stars. Personality's strongest rapport with collective attitudes and aspirations.
Sagittarius: Group-identification. Philosophy. Religion.
In Sagittarius the year sinks into darkness, day ticks down to midnight. It brings the fullest commitment to night's collective unconscious.
Scorpio's death-rapture is over. Ego's binding energy has been released, in agony or ecstasy. Sagittarius expresses its spiritual interpretation. The impersonal truth of one's contribution to, or desecration of, a greater whole. The soul radiance of a life, written in heavenly light, or burned in hell fire.
Sagittarius objectively demonstrates the outcome of Scorpio's internal motivational struggle. It justifies Scorpio's emotional insight and magnifies it into a universal philosophy. Sagittarius externalizes feeling preferences into ethical standards; transmutes passion into principle.
With its own transformative experience behind it, Sagittarius seeks to disseminate its confident beliefs. It propagates Scorpio's intensity outwards into the world. Soul searching becomes social crusading. In a perfect example of enantiodromia, a thing turning into its opposite (as yin/yang or day/night), Sagittarius flips Scorpio's tortured psychological probing into enthusiastic public promotion. It now knows what is right. It will spare no effort to ensure that others do too.
Sagittarius focuses the messy ambiguities of human nature into a targeted perspective. This one-pointed orientation generates a moral force field around a singular vision. An ethical gradient of right and wrong forms in terms of what enhances or detracts from that Truth. Sagittarius presents it terms of all-embracing norms.
Sagittarius identifies with an archetypal image or role. And encourages its current personal expression to grow beyond its given nature to encompass this larger state of being. Living up to this higher calling means that ego becomes the vehicle of a divine force. It is steered by a lofty Presence, its animal vitality ridden by a guardian angel of the superego. If the psyche cannot ground this descent of spirit, flinches from its demanding commission, then it contracts into the darkness of its Scorpionic background as an empowered Shadow. It channels the fury of its inadequacy through an aroused inner demon, acts out as a horseman of the apocalypse.
Sagittarius begins where the Scorpion's sting transforms into an arrow's point. The archer seeks a moral compass by which to aim its sharp convictions, the distilled essence of a life. Will it skillfully target a righteous revelation? Or project self-loathing in poisoned darts of wrath? Sagittarius ends as Sun precisely orients with the core of our island universe, the Milky Way galaxy (from the perspective of Earth's orbit). Our star lines up with a cosmic gravitational attractor, just as a human heart locks on to an intangible soul source. Personal persuasion feels validated with a galactic wind behind it. This can surge intuition to prophetic heights. Or fan the flames of fanaticism by falling into a black hole of overconfidence.
In the year's final summation privacy dies, subsumed by a sacred mandate or secular imperative. To achieve that more comprehensive purpose Sagittarius' linear extrapolation of individual opinion must learn to acknowledge other approaches. Only thus can it attain the superior dimension of a plane. On that more inclusive level many perspectives act synergistically, serving as spokes of a wheel, converging on a central axis. If Sagittarius cannot integrate its own direction into a global context then it defaults into monomania, insisting on south-southwest as the one true path while all others lead to fundamental error. Or damnable sin.
Among fire signs Aries emphasizes will, Leo love and Sagittarius wisdom. Sagittarius reasons deductively, applying an overall paradigm to specific facts. An arrow shaft of light, ignited from Scorpio's dark passion, penetrates to the hidden causes behind overt phenomena. It provides an explanatory theory based on first principles. Seemingly random events become intelligible as the evolutionary fluctuations of a universal design. A jumble of data demonstrates a general law. Sagittarius synthesizes details into a coherent whole that is more than the sum of its parts. This energy zone reveals a unifying theme in multiplicity, and articulates it into a worldview.
Sagittarius = significance. Not what something is in its own right, but what it means in a larger sense. The Sagittarian character is not autonomously motivated. It is, and feels like, an agent of common or cosmic purpose. If this intuition is aligned with disciplined integrity it can serve a greater good, or god. If it acts with an inflated sense of its own importance it devolves into self-righteousness. Then stridency.
Sagittarius lives beyond purely personal concerns. It identifies with a tribal role, conforms to group expectations. It fuses with a sanctified mission; represents an exalted model. Because these are more powerful than an individual viewpoint they can swamp critical judgment, reducing one to a zealot. Or they can grow into transcendent understanding. At one end of the continuum it degenerates into crowd psychology, herd instinct, groupthink. Or an ability to exploit them. At the other it soars into a celestial communion uniting ephemeral ego with enduring truth.
Sagittarius must learn to detach identity from the power of its intuitions. Otherwise it warps genuine insight into an overblown justification of its own social contribution or special spirituality. This differs from Leo's narcissistic conceit, an inflated celebration of personal excellence. Sagittarius identifies with its aspirations. It can become crazy, even dangerous, with abstract enthusiasms.
Sagittarius insists on the social relevance of an inspirational code. It expounds and upholds the Law. Sagittarius advocates within an agreed frame of reference, grows a community consensus or shared understanding. This promotes the cohesion, team spirit, esprit de corps essential for long-term cooperative endeavor. It proclaims general standards of behavior and morality, distilled from generations of experience.
Sagittarius demonstrates the force of conscience. It channels infantile demands and angers in socially appropriate ways. Thus it inspires transcendence of appetite and ambition. Without it collective life would be impossible. And without it we could not reach beyond the rules of society to a higher law.
Sagittarius resonates to the prior existence of a first cause or prime mover above and beyond incidental happenings. It senses a directed drive behind events, an emerging plan motivating mundane behavior. Its intangible Witness weaves life's random clues into a coherent narrative. It points to a metaphysical reality beyond conscious intentions. In the individual this manifests as a soul that animates ego. For the group it expresses as a corporate identity or national character inspiring its constituent members. On the most abstract level we can call it God, Tao, the Force.
Sagittarius can serve as an open channel for this spirit, radiating as a living exemplar of its effulgence. Or conceptualize it as a holy doctrine, the guide to a more distant realization. Or insist on a specific interpretation of its universality.
In Sagittarius the variety of religious experience runs from theology to spirit. From a rigid insistence on the literal certainty of dogmatic formulations to a liberating encounter with actual Truth. This Truth is a fire in the heart, not a thought in the brain. Its reality is self evident, its power inherent, its charisma compelling.
This fire lights up the depths revealed by Scorpio. It describes an inherent optimism validated by intuition of a coming solar rebirth at the winter solstice. A confidence based on the experience that loss of a separate-self sense leads to increased social integration and a more inclusive awareness. A faith founded on instinctual delight that we exist at all in a universe that exploded out of nothing. And that, by analogy, another state of being may emerge from the biological void of death.
The ninth house, Sagittarius' subjective correlate, and any planets in it, portrays the nature of one's political, philosophical and religious convictions. The house cusp that the sign of Sagittarius occupies indicates the area of life in which they play out. The position and aspects of Sagittarius' ruling planet, Jupiter, provide insight into the circumstances and outcome of practicing those beliefs.
Sagittarius amplifies consciousness with a sense of participation in the divine. This stimulates its growth towards a closer approximation of an original and transcendent essence. Sagittarius acts on an axiomatic affirmation that human nature personifies a meaningful and benevolent reality. It follows that freedom to express this essential goodness evokes its best qualities. Thus it generates a mindset that magnifies possibility, creates opportunity, opens doors to 'a life more abundant.'1
Sagittarius is expansive by nature. Not deep like Scorpio. Nor does it scale the lonely heights of achievement like Capricorn. Rather it expresses a broad consensus, common ground, shared experience. Think of that period in the American political process when the judgment of a hard fought election has been rendered (Scorpio), but the cares of governance (Capricorn) have not yet begun. The newly elected President has a honeymoon of goodwill when s/he can dream big, aspire to far horizons. Sagittarius offers a moment of liberty. This can inspire. Or intoxicate. Liberty is our most precious gift, if we use it to fulfill our own potential, enhance society, do God's work on Earth. But it can also degenerate into license: a promiscuous indulgence, blithely trampling others in a brutal 'honesty' of raw egotism.
Sagittarius soars between the scary intensity of Scorpio and the heavy responsibilities of Capricorn. It reflects an epiphany. One stands in the Light and brings it to the community as a vision of the good, the true and the beautiful. Sagittarius bears witness to an elevated stage of moral development, the next step in evolution.
The zeal of this enlightenment can blind sensitivity to other wavelengths of illumination. Its glow can become a glare. Such a powerful voltage often endows an immature ego with too much power. Sagittarius always tests character with an unearned grace. Will it rise to the occasion? Or sink into a sense of entitlement? Its windfall fortune can exaggerate self-esteem. Or remind that 'Of those to whom much is given, much is required.'2
Sagittarius sees the bright aura of things, just as Scorpio perceives their invisible core. It feels the Power. If it lets this power spontaneously flow through it then Sagittarius can articulate its authenticity with clarity and relevance. If it tries to own the light it flares up and burns out, taking others down with it. It enjoys the opportunities presented by an intuitive contact with more advanced dimensions of consciousness. And fails by identifying that with its own merit in order to justify small opinions and grubby ambitions.
Sagittarius surfs a wave of optimism. It rides a current of public sentiment, on its leading edge but not too far ahead. It actively goes with the flow and thus gains a position in the right place at the right time:
'There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune.'3
Its objectively unjustified hopes create their own luck and almost miraculously evoke the possibilities it seeks. Sagittarius exemplifies a positive faith that automatically creates good outcomes. (As opposed to Pisces' accepting faith that redeems bad ones.) It typically goes too far too fast, but usually finds a way to leapfrog its problems. 'All's well that ends well' justifies its errors and rewards its speculative ventures.
Sagittarius tends towards manic hyperbole in everything. It hides its shortcomings and mistakes in smug hypocrisy. And trumpets its smallest achievements with sanctimonious triumphalism. Its self promotion is not only tacky but ironic, because in fact it embodies something far greater: a personification of history's trend or even God's Will. Sagittarius naturally aligns with the spirit of the times, conforms to the larger forces behind and driving events. This often makes it superficial, an opportunistic player. Or it can articulate the hidden passions of the tribe, express emerging principles of a new cycle.
Sagittarius is the least individual of signs. And therefore the luckiest, because it echoes the collective unconscious. It is in tune with the temper of the times, synchronized with the spirit of its surroundings. Thus it speaks with the voice of prophecy. It extrapolates current trends with a keen comprehension of their ultimate consequences. This is different from, but not less than, genius, which is novel insight. Sagittarius has a farsighted perspective on the implications of an action, trajectory of a society. It does not bring a new reality (Aquarius); it makes the most of present possibility. It is attuned to the immediate, with a view to its foreseeable future. (In contrast, Aquarius presents an ideal, different in nature from present conditions.)
At its best, Sagittarius clearly spotlights the ethical demands and spiritual possibilities of any situation. It encourages their positive development and natural growth. It willingly embodies a guiding morality for its own and the common benefit. At its worst, unresolved Scorpionic power issues hijack Sagittarius' gregarious public persona. It then appropriates accepted memes and social trust to serve its own ends. Cloaking an ego agenda in shared ideals can succeed for awhile, but eventually crashes into hard Capricornian reality.
Sagittarius maximizes the potential inherent in any entity, accelerating its evolution. Or decays into a gluttony demanding more and more of the same. Its exuberant expression tends to exaggeration, proliferating a partial truth to the detriment of the whole.4 As with any sign, Sagittarius covers the entire range from gross to sublime along a certain line of development. Because it publicly expresses an implicit consensus it has an unusual degree of latitude in sharing, or imposing, its insights on others.
Sagittarius emphasizes destiny as an expansive adventure, a spiritual journey. Then Capricorn meets fate as the circumstances of that unfolding. Sagittarius revels in the exhilaration of its important message. Capricorn reveals the responsibility that entails. Sagittarius thrills to life's felt significance. Capricorn carries its attendant burdens and actual achievement.
1. John 10:10
2. Luke 12:48
3. 'Julius Caesar,' Shakespeare
4. 'Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.' Edward Abbey, American environmental writer, 1927-1989. This suicidal attitude is prevalent in modern America, a Cancer nation (July 4, 1776) with Sagittarius rising. (See 'Mundane Considerations.')