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Back in the late ‘70s, when I was still on my slow, self-funded adventure through college, I spent a couple of years working at the local race track as a groom. It was a 7-day a week job, starting at 5 in the morning, 3 or 4 hours a day — or longer if one of your horses was racing that day. I got to know the horses well — feeding and grooming them, preparing them for their races, cleaning their stalls during the time they were being exercised, making sure their legs were bandaged against possible injury, their feet free of dirt and stones. Their health and well-being was carefully monitored.

They were top athletes, and their confined lifestyle combined with the intensity of their physical training meant that most of them were rather highly-strung and temperamental. The most highly-strung among them were often soothed by pets who lived with them in their stalls — cats and goats were the two favorites.

An emotionally upset horse could “leave their race in the barn” on race day. A restless, pacing, shifting horse uses a lot of energy, and keeping them calm before a race is important. For some horses, the pet cat or goat is a critical component of this pre-race calming routine. Unscrupulous trainers have been known to sneak into a competitor’s barn and steal their horse’s goat the night before a race, to put the horse off its game on race day. (Cats are harder to catch!) Hence the phrase “got your goat” to describe what happens when someone annoys another to the point of distraction, and a lot of energy gets wasted on being pissed off.

How to Keep Your Goat

I tell you all this because the likelihood of someone getting your goat this year is high, leaving you distracted, pissed off, and off your game. Staying focused and clear about the direction our lives are heading is job one for all of us in this year of historic astrological configurations that presage profound and lasting change. So we need to think about how to take more creative control of our lives.

The first step is identifying what gets your goat, what steals your peace and stability. In a relatively calm period of life, serious upsets and changes can be worked through with help from friends and family. Ideally, we’ll find when we get to the other side that life is better for the changes.

But this year, things are moving faster, and the changes are happening everywhere. We’ll all be involved in profound change, and we may find ourselves needing to make decisions quickly, knowing those decisions will have long-lasting consequences, and we may not have much help. Everyone else is dealing with change, too.

We need to know what’s likely to throw us off balance so we can avoid and/or correct for it. Make a list, check it twice. Meditate on it. Write in your journal. Talk to a friend or therapist. Set a reminder on your phone to check in with yourself regularly. There are lots of ways to gain more knowledge of your personal triggers. Pick one or more, and do the work.

Step two is creating or strengthening habits that help you get and keep your emotional balance and mental clarity. Meditation, magic, therapy, prayer, or physical disciplines such as yoga and tai chi that shift our energy bodies as well as our physical bodies can all be helpful. Pick one or more, and do the work.

Step three is finding and holding a vision for the future. It’s way too easy to get caught up in dealing with day-to-day challenges and lose sight of where you want to go, what you want your life to look like. This kind of long-term planning takes time and thought — preferably time alone or with a life-partner, brainstorming the future.

When you have a vision of that future, do something that will make it real for you. Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it regularly, or make a talisman to wear, or create some small symbol of what you want your future to look like, and keep it close. It’s important to do this work.

Step four is learning to let go. This is a year of long-term planetary cycles that are ending, and new cycles that are just beginning. You’ll be faced with choices, and some of them are likely to be quite difficult. It’s going to be important to know what must be left behind and walk away, even when you really don’t want to.

When you have a choice about whether to stay or go, to hold on tight or release, consider the choice in light of your personal core values and vision of your future. If you decide to hold on, hold on tight, because the prevailing winds are likely to be fierce. If you decide to walk away, don’t leave regret behind you to sap your energy. Call your power to you and walk into your future unhindered.

The Astro-Babble

I’m going to take a few paragraphs to make some notes for astrology aficionados — if you just want to know what it all means, skip ahead to the next section.

Astrologers, here’s what I’m looking at:

In addition to planetary transits, stations, and retrogrades, I’m using Cardinal ingress as well as solar and lunar eclipse charts cast for Washington, DC, solo and in bi-wheels with the USA Sibley chart.

It’s a Capricorn year, with Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node all in Capricorn for much of the year, with long term synodic cycles coming to a close (Saturn-Pluto, Jupiter-Pluto, Saturn-Jupiter), and faster-moving planets adding emphasis and triggering events.

The Saturn-Jupiter conjunction, an every 20-year event, is completing a 200-year cycle in Earth signs, and beginning a new 200 year cycle in Air signs. In this case, on Winter Solstice 2020, the conjunction is in Aquarius.

Saturn is definitely the One Ring To Rule Them All in this mashup, as it rules both Capricorn and Aquarius, and therefore, this year and next it’s the boss of Jupiter, Pluto, and also Mars when it is in those signs (mid-February to mid-May). Keep a close eye on Saturn in natal charts and in transit. It’s mostly in Capricorn, but it dips a toe into Aquarius mid-year, before its permanent ingress in December. Close aspects to its stations should be notable. (I wrote a 2-part article on Saturn and Saturn-returns here. It’s pertinent for this year, even if you aren’t in a Saturn return year.)

The three Mercury retrogrades are primarily within Water signs, and the Aries, Cancer, and Libra ingress charts for the USA have Scorpio rising. Mars, Scorpio’s traditional ruler, spends half the year in the other sign it rules, Aries, and much of that is retrograde AND square to Saturn and Pluto. Particularly note the ME Rx in Scorpio, stationing just a couple of degrees beyond opposition to Uranus, and its contribution to the Cardinal T-square in the Libra ingress chart, where it opposes Mars.

Keep in mind that Scorpio rising puts Taurus on the 7th house of the ingress charts (which is the house of foreign relations in any mundane chart), and hence Uranus in the 6th (workers, public health, civil service, the military, trade unions) or 7th house, and Mars in the 5th (children, entertainment and sports, ambassadors, the ultra-wealthy) or 6th.

Venus also has a retrograde this year, in the sign of Gemini, mid-May to late June. Remember that Venus rules relationships, marriage customs, women’s issues, art, and money.

The eclipses in the first half of this year are the last on the Cancer-Capricorn axis, and the one that falls on Summer Solstice is worth paying close attention to. Watch where it falls in natal charts by house and aspect.

Mars in Aries for the 2nd half of the year, and Rx from early September to mid-November. This is Mars at its most martial, and least patient.

The Libra Ingress chart is particularly problematic. Note Mars — it rules the AS, and is strong in its own sign of Aries, but it is Rx, out of sect, and its aspects are…well, go take a look. While there is some mitigation in the mutual reception between Venus and Sun, Sun ruling the MC, Mars is just way too powerful and prickly in this chart for comfort.

Then, last but far from least, is the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, a Great Mutation, in the first degree of Aquarius at Winter Solstice.

I’ll explore these charts and events further as the year progresses, but for now, here’s an overview of what I’m getting from all that…

A Bird’s-Eye View

Before I get into prediction, a reminder: How current transits affect you depends on your personal birth chart. What manifests in your neighbor’s life as a financial disaster may find you embroiled in power-plays at the office, or getting a promotion with a concomitant increase in responsibilities, or a bout of depression.

Transits have some meaning for everyone, but not to the same extent or in the same areas of life. You may find dramas playing out around you while you are relatively untouched. Sometimes, the transit plays out strongly in your inner life, with no external indications.

To understand what’s going on for you specifically, consult an astrologer, or learn just enough astrology to understand what areas of your life are being affected by current transits. (If you want to try that route, you can start here with my booklet and a copy of your chart.)

That said, let’s look at general influences and how things are likely to play out on a global and/or national scale, as well as in our communities. I’m USA-focused here, but much of this applies globally as well.

Overall, this year’s focus is on the structures of civilization — everything from infrastructure to communication networks to the structures of laws and ideas that keep our societies running smoothly (or not, as the case may be). These structures will be challenged, and many of them will be destroyed or re-structured from the inside out. Others will be built in their place, but perhaps not right away.

The year starts off with a bang. Head into 2020 as prepared as you can be for unexpected upheavals and events that feature the destruction of power structures, restraints put on power, power moves made from fear, and/or scandals and events that shake foundations and have far-reaching consequences.

Fears (some well-founded, some not) for personal and community safety are going to be driving a lot of aggressive and self-sabotaging behaviors. Some of these fears will be obvious, many will be driven by unconscious forces.

Understanding this fearfulness, having empathy (for yourself, too), but being clear about your personal boundaries can help you navigate the often-troubled waters of this year, which will be emotionally fraught and — in the latter half of the year particularly — highly confrontational. Particularly from early September through mid-November, do your best to rein in your confrontational instincts, because the one who starts a war during this time is likely to lose it.

There’s an emphasis on things that go on under the surface, both in the environmental sense (earthquakes, fracking, mining, etc.) and in the political and cultural arenas (espionage, organized crime, underground cultural/political movements). Take the time to look a little deeper into any important situations that require a decision on your part. Find what is hidden.

Look at the ideas that come up for you in April, May, and June, and let them help you refine your vision for the future. As I mentioned above, having and holding a vision of the future is an important part of creating it.

And while you’re visioning the future, be sure to check in with your core values and personal ethics, then be honest with yourself about whether or not you are living in line with them. On a global level, we will be re-visiting the often-conflicting values and ideals upon which our societies, our communities, and our personal lives are built. We will be seeing the consequences of our moral, ethical, and philosophical choices played out in real life.

Those consequences are not only physical. Our personal choices, and our group choices as communities, organizations, business, and governments, have profound, long-term spiritual consequences. Make time to listen to the voice of your soul this year. We’ll need to question our values and what we stand for, then make choices and take action based on the answers we come up with.

In the USA, foreign policy is volatile, and military actions are, I’m sorry to say, not unlikely. The Autumn quarter is particularly challenging. I am concerned about upheaval and conflict in the weeks around the USA elections, but there will also be inspiring examples of courage and faith by people from all walks of life.

The end of the year brings a planetary configuration known as a “Great Mutation” — a 200-year shift in the cycle of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions that occur every 20 years, and predict the social changes we can anticipate. This one will be particularly transformative, as it occurs in Aquarius, bringing the element of Air into play, and (r)evolutionary changes in government and social structures.

Get out of your mental ruts this year, and help others get out of theirs. It’s time to release old patterns of thought and come to a greater understanding of how we can learn to cooperate — with each other, and with Nature and the web of life on this planet.

Think about how you might challenge the order of society, advocate for a new way of thinking. Consider how you might challenge those whose authority is damaging by stepping up into your own authority and taking on responsibility. Doing the work is crucial this year.

It’s not going to be an easy year, but it can be exciting and rewarding. Don’t leave your race in the barn. Pay attention to your thought patterns, and how you are spending your energy. While a pet goat may not be an option, find ways to keep yourself calm and focused as challenges arise. Have a vision of where you are going, and know that it’s not about being the first under the finish line. It’s about running your best race.

Happy New Year!

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