A wonderful documentary on Netflix called Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times, illuminates the sweet, playful friendship shared by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Based on their 2016 collaboration, The Book of Joy, the film showcases these eighty-something spiritual masters who had been through so much, yet still managed to retain a sense of childlike wonder – while bringing joy to others. One of the greatest things about these humble icons was the power of their friendship. We get to witness it as the Dalai Lama often reaches out to grab his long-time friend’s hand, as they gently tease each other, even in their awkward attempts to dance together.
This type of genuine human connection is highlighted at the Aquarius New Moon (Jan. 21, 12:53 p.m. PT). Aquarius is the sign of friendship and social bonds, which for many of us have become all too rare over the last few years of contention, illness and social distancing. Now we’re encouraged to follow the example of these two beautiful men, who recognized how precious time and friendship really are.
This New Moon sextiles spirited Jupiter in Aries, offering momentum to get going and join with like-minded others to make things happen. Mars is slowly starting to move forward after its long retrograde (it won’t return to full forward motion until March), and Mercury, which turns direct on Jan. 18, still needs another week to start clipping along. But we’re heading down a rarely seen stretch of 88 days in which NO planets are retrograde – bringing great potential for advancement between now and mid-April.
On Jan. 22, the day after the New Moon, we collectively hop into the year of the Yin Water Rabbit. This alert energy favors fertility, new life, healing, making amends and protecting ourselves and others from harm. Water equates to the color black, so the Black Rabbit is our new totem. This creature has been seen as a spiritual ally in many cultures; we’re encouraged to cultivate its intuitive, intelligent qualities to make the most of the year ahead. We’re bidding farewell to the fierce, contentious Tiger year and getting a chance to prepare and resource ourselves before heading into the fire-breathing Dragon year of 2024.
The Aquarius New Moon happens at the entry point of the sign, which Pluto will intensify as it moves into the sign of the Water Bearer in late March. Pluto hasn’t trod this territory since the 1770s-1780s, when both the French and American revolutions took place. We may be re-entering revolutionary times for the next twenty years! This will call for out-of-the-box thinking, which air sign Aquarius does well (the Water Bearer’s sacred offering is not H20, but rather an etheric elixir capable of raising our vibration).
Pluto won’t fully inhabit Aquarius until 2024 (through 2044). Still, the coming ingress is apt to provide a glimpse of the future. The planet of upheaval and transformation will be in humanitarian Aquarius from late March to early June this year, then it retrogrades back into Capricorn, (where it’s been since 2008), from June – December, completing its work of exposing (and potentially destroying) the worst of Big Business and capitalistic excesses that have placed our world in peril.
Poignantly, especially for those of us in storm-swamped California, the Sabian Symbol for the New Moon at 2 Aquarius is “An Unexpected Thunderstorm.” This speaks to the need to develop a sense of inner security which will enable us to meet unexpected crises and remain flexible in the face of impending change. And one of the best ways to do this is by joining with those who we admire and trust, whether purely for friendship or in service to humanity.
As we move through pivotal times, featuring unexpected crises as well as opportunities, let’s take our cue from the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. One a Buddhist, the other a Catholic, these spiritual warriors found common ground by uniting their gentle, playful spirits in friendship. And to find joy in the midst of hardship, they realized they must bring joy to others.
This is how the Dalai Lama put it in a letter to Desmond Tutu’s daughter upon his passing in late 2021, “As you know, over the years, your father and I enjoyed an enduring friendship. The spiritual bond between us was something we cherished. He was devoted to the service of others, especially those who are least fortunate. I am convinced the best tribute we can pay him to keep his spirit alive is to do as he did and constantly look to see how we too can be of help to others.”