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Liberation through Hardship:
Notes on the astrological chart for
21st December 2012

Much has been written about the Winter Solstice of 2012, which is the end-date of the Mayan calendar. On this date – for the first time for almost 26,000 years – the winter solstice Sun will be aligned with the Galactic equator, which is at the centre of the Milky Way. Jim Papp (1) says that, according to Mayan mythology, “at sunrise on December 21, 2012, the Sun – our Father – rises to conjoin the centre of the Sacred Tree, the World Tree, the Tree of Life”. Many writers have claimed that this will coincide with the birth of a new consciousness on Earth. For instance, Andrew Smith (2) says: “It will be a time of rebirth, the beginning of the Fifth World, a new era when peace begins and people live in harmony with Mother Earth, a time of fusion and integration of Life and Light”. But the implication is that this birth of a new order will necessarily entail the destruction of the old order, and that this destruction will be painful, and perhaps catastrophic, for those people who have not made the necessary preparations and are not ready to embrace the new era.

As an astrologer (or, more accurately, as an ex-astrologer) I thought it would be interesting to look at the chart for this moment, to see what it would tell me. But the first problem is which moment to choose. Papp says that the Mayan calendar ends at “sunrise” on 21st December 2012: but sunrise in what place? The sun rises at different times in different places, so that sunrise in (for instance) London is five hours earlier than sunrise in New York, which would lead to two very different charts; and yet we are looking for a chart with global, rather than local, significance. I felt it was best to choose the chart for sunrise at the place where the Mayan calendar was devised, which is Ikala near the Mexico/Guatemala border (14N54. 92W17).

This chart (for the exact moment of sunrise at Ikala) is for 12.34 p.m. GMT. (An alternative would be to choose the chart for the exact moment of the Winter Solstice, i.e. the moment when the Sun enters Capricorn. This would be one and a half hours earlier, at 11.04 a.m. GMT.)

The “sunrise” chart has some very interesting features. Perhaps the most important feature is the very strong Yod, or “Finger of God”, connecting three of the outer planets: Saturn, Pluto and Jupiter. In order to explain this, it will be necessary to say a little about Yods.

A Yod is formed when two planets have a sextile aspect (that is to say, when the angular distance between them is 60o, or one-sixth of the circle), and when there is a third planet opposite to the midpoint of these two planets. This means that the angle between the third planet and each of the first two planets is 150o, or five-twelfths of the circle. If we draw lines connecting the three planets, we have an elongated triangle whose sides are in the ratio 5:5:2. We can say that one planet is at the apex of the triangle, and the other two are at its base.

The “Yod” is named after the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and carries the meaning “Finger of Yahweh” or “Finger of Fate”. The elongated triangle is like a finger pointing towards the planet at the apex. Astrologers (for instance Wendy Stacey, 3) say that, when a Yod appears in a birth chart, the individual is fated or destined to develop the energies of the apex planet, as a result of the interaction of the other two planets. And yet the Yod also carries the idea of difficulty, frustration and stress. The apex planet and the base planets, even though they are compelled to work together, are out of harmony with each other: they cannot understand each other, cannot even “see” each other. Hence, the person with a Yod in her chart will find herself dealing with the effects of the base planets, and yet will be continually drawn (maybe against her will) towards the apex planet. She will feel that God is pointing her towards the apex planet, although she cannot understand how or why. If, on the other hand, she consciously tries to develop the apex planet, she will experience the base planets as a source of stress and frustration.

In the 2012 chart, the base planets are Saturn and Pluto, and the apex planet is Jupiter. (The closeness, and therefore the strength, of the Yod is shown by the positions of the plants: Saturn at Scorpio 8o40’, Pluto at Capricorn 8o57’, and Jupiter at Gemini 8o54’). Saturn brings restriction and limitation, and Pluto brings obsessiveness, single-mindedness, and (sometimes) transformative change. Thus, Saturn and Pluto working together will tend to cause people to be obsessively self-disciplined, deliberately restricting themselves to a narrow range of behaviours. We must remember that the 2012 chart is a chart, not for a single person, but for the whole of humanity. So we must ask: What might cause the whole of humanity to behave in this Saturn-Pluto way? Maybe it would be the result of unaccustomed hardship – a situation in which, maybe as a result of natural or man-made disasters, people felt constrained to work extremely hard in order to ensure their survival, imposing a severe discipline upon themselves and denying themselves any pleasure-seeking activities. There is a quality of gloom about this Saturn-Pluto connection, and this is reinforced by the signs in which Saturn and Pluto are placed (the secrecy of Scorpio, and the hard-headedness of Capricorn).

And yet the apex planet of the Yod is Jupiter, which signifies very different – almost opposite – qualities from those suggested by Saturn and Pluto. Jupiter is about freedom, liberation, growth and expansion. Thus, the Yod suggests that even as people pursue their narrowly restricted Saturn-Pluto way of life, they will find themselves inexorably drawn towards a new kind of freedom. Thus the message of the Yod can be summarized as: Out of hardship will come liberation.

How will this liberation come about? Here we should note the sign and house in which Jupiter is placed: Jupiter is in Gemini in the sixth house. Gemini signifies communication and mental inventiveness, and the sixth house signifies service to other people. Thus, Jupiter suggests that people will find freedom and growth through talking to one another and trying to help one another in original and inventive ways – in a word, through co-operation.

We can see how this spirit of co-operation is opposed to the spirit of Saturn-Pluto, and how many people might be very resistant to it. Saturn and Pluto will say, “In a world of hardship and shortages, I must focus on my own survival and that of my family, at the expense of everyone else”. And yet the Yod says that people will come to realize that, whether they like it or not, their destiny is to co-operate. As in the London Blitz, people will be drawn together by shared hardship, and will find a new sense of freedom from working selflessly for one another. And yet this freedom will not be easily won: there will be many stresses, frustrations and difficulties along the way.

So much for the Yod. But I would also like to draw attention to two other interesting features of the 2012 chart.

The first of these is the Sun-Saturn septile (i.e. the fact that the angular distance between Sun and Saturn is one-seventh of the circle). This aspect is important for several reasons. Firstly, because it is almost exact (the angular distance between Sun and Saturn is 51o24’, which is almost exactly one-seventh of the circle of 360o), and this makes it very powerful. Secondly, because Saturn is one of the planets involved in the Yod. And thirdly, because this is the closest aspect to the Sun in the 2012 chart, and this chart is essentially about the Sun (we must remember that it is the chart for the time when the Mayans said that “the Sun – our Father – rises to conjoin the centre of the Sacred Tree”), so that aspects to the Sun are especially important.

This Sun-Saturn septile shows that Sun is linked to Saturn by the qualities of the number Seven, and one of the key words for Sevenness is inspiration. In my book Harmonic Charts (4, p.115) I gave the following interpretation for Sun-Saturn septiles: “Inspired by ideals of duty, dedication, orderliness, loyalty, acceptance of fate: believing in the necessity of suffering and sorrow: seeing oneself as a tragic person”. Since the 2012 chart is a chart for the whole of humanity, this suggests that, at that time, people will feel inspired by the tragedy that will have befallen the human race, and will feel moved by this to creative endeavours in which the Saturnian qualities of “duty, dedication, orderliness, loyalty, acceptance of fate” will be emphasized.

But I now believe there is more to it than this. Another key word for Sevenness is wildness. Whereas Fiveness is concerned with Man’s efforts to gain mastery over his environment by building structures (both physical and mental) of his own devising, Sevenness (the next prime number) is to do with surrendering to the laws of the natural world, which were made not by Man but by God. In other words, it is to do with going back to the wild. I believe that this very strong Sun-Saturn septile in the 2012 chart is an indication that, at that time, men and women will be learning to live in closer harmony with nature, and to order their lives in accordance with nature’s rhythms rather than with man-made systems and structures. The fact that it is Saturn which is septile to the Sun shows that they will do this because they will feel that they have no choice. One imagines a situation in which many of the man-made structures (which have resulted from our present over-reliance on Fiveness) will have been destroyed, or will have been found to be useless, so that people will feel they have no choice but to abandon their belief in Man’s supremacy and to accept their place among the many children of Gaia. Once again (as with the Yod), this aspect suggests great hardship in the short term, but in the longer term it could be the harbinger of a new and benevolent world order.

(In parentheses, we can note that, if we take the chart for sunrise on 21.12.2012 in London, which is at 08.10 GMT, we see that Sun and Saturn are septile not only to each other but also to the Moon. Could this mean that the process of “going back to the wild” will be undertaken more spontaneously, easily and naturally in Western Europe than in other parts of the world?)

The third important feature of the 2012 chart is a link between Moon, Mercury and Pluto. The Moon is closely trine to Mercury: this means that the angular distance between Moon and Mercury is almost exactly one-third of the circle, and so their relationship has the quality of Threeness. Threeness is about pleasure, joy, facility, fluency. This Threeness relationship between Moon and Mercury speaks of ease of communication, and especially ease of communication about feelings. It is as though, at the time of the 2012 Winter Solstice, people will feel that their tongues have loosened, and they will be able to talk to one another more openly and freely about how they feel. This seems to be another example of how people can be drawn together by shared adversity.

But also, both Moon and Mercury have close “Fifteenness” links to Pluto. (The angle between Mercury and Pluto is one-fifteenth of the circle, and the angle between Moon and Pluto is four-fifteenths of the circle.) Fifteen is 3 x 5, and so combines the qualities of Threeness and Fiveness; and Fiveness, as I have said, is about Man’s building of systems and structures through which he tries to control his environment. (I say “he” because Five is essentially a masculine number, whereas Three and Seven are more feminine numbers.) These Pluto links suggest that people will try to build social structures to enable the Moon-Mercury communication to flow more freely, and to ensure that it is carried out with Plutonian dedication and thoroughness. Maybe there will be regular meetings of local communities, in which everyone will be encouraged to express their feelings about what is happening, and people will do their best to console and help one another and to find ways of solving any problems that arise. The Threeness element suggests that people will be doing this, not because they feel they ought to, but because they want to: the meetings will be a source of pleasure for them.

This is far from being a complete analysis of the 2012 chart (there are four planets, Venus, Mars, Uranus and Neptune, that I have not mentioned), but it does draw attention to what seem to me to be the most striking and unusual features of the chart. And the picture that emerges from it is a consistent one: consistent within itself, and consistent also with the prophecies that have been made about the New Age that will start in 2012. The chart suggests that, at that time, people will be undergoing intense hardships as a result of the destruction of the foundations of their previous way of life: these hardships will cause great suffering for many people, yet out of them will come a new sense of expansion and liberation, and indeed of joy.

Andrew Smith (in the passage that I have already quoted) says that there will be “a new era when peace begins and people live in harmony with Mother Earth”. Both of these elements (peace, and harmony with the Earth) are present in the 2012 chart. We have seen how the chart suggests that people will learn to “go back to the wild”, and to place their reliance on the rhythms of nature rather than man-made technologies. And we have seen also how the chart suggests that people will learn to solve their problems through co-operation rather than conflict, and will set up social systems that will enable them to do this in a thoroughgoing, and also caring and loving, way. People will at last have learned the lesson that war solves no problems, and that the only road to happiness is the road of peace.

I do not think that the chart is telling us that there will be a major disaster at the time of the Winter Solstice of 2012. The chart seems to be speaking of the aftermath of a disaster, rather than the disaster itself. Therefore it is possible that the mega-disaster will occur at some time before December 2012. We cannot be sure what form this disaster would take, but one scenario seems more likely than others. It is possible that the melting of the polar icecaps (which scientists say is happening faster than expected) will lead, in the not-too-distant future, to a sudden and dramatic rise in sea level. Perhaps this will also be linked to the collapse into the sea of a mountain in La Palma in the Canary Islands, which is predicted to cause a huge tsunami across the North Atlantic. Either of these events (or both of them happening together, because it is likely that a rise in sea level would further de-stabilize the mountain) would cause the inundation of low-lying areas (including London, New York, and also the Yucatan peninsula which was the homeland of many of the Mayans): this would lead to huge loss of life, but also (because of the destruction of the infrastructure) to immense hardships and difficulties for all the survivors. It seems that it would take a disaster on this scale to jolt humanity into the New Age. Nevertheless, we must repeat that the 2012 chart offers an optimistic prospect for humanity.

Postscript: Quantum theory and the power of human consciousness

Before I looked at this chart I was sceptical, both about the efficacy of mundane astrology as a predictive tool, and also about the so-called “Revolution” of 2012. Now that I have studied this chart, I have to acknowledge that the chart seems, to a remarkable extent, to confirm what people have been saying about the significance of 2012. However, I remain sceptical, in the sense that I cannot be sure what will happen until I see it happening before my eyes. In order to explain this point of view, I would like to add a postscript about the power of the human mind.

Quantum theory proposes that physical events are affected by human consciousness: by focusing consciousness on an event, one changes the nature of that event. This suggests that it is possible that the Winter Solstice of 2012 is important only because people have believed it to be so. For many centuries the Maya believed that this date signified the end of the existing world order. Now, with the spread of knowledge about the Mayan calendar, this belief has become much more widespread. By the time that 2012 actually arrives, the weight of human expectation attached to the Winter Solstice will have become very great. It seems likely that this focusing of human consciousness upon this particular moment will cause that moment to have a significance which it would not have had if people had not been thinking about it.

Of course, the importance of the 2012 Winter Solstice is supposed to be based on astronomical reality (the alignment of the Sun with the Galactic equator). However, John Major Jenkins (5) has pointed out that, because the Sun (as seen from Earth) is one-half of a degree wide, it will take 36 years for the disc of the winter solstice Sun to precess through the Galactic equator. These 36 years are from 1980 to 2016. Therefore, the moment when the centre-point of the Sun passes through the Galactic equator is in fact the Winter Solstice of 1998, not that of 2012. Thus, from a strictly astronomical point of view, we should be looking at the 1998 Winter Solstice chart. But the Maya (presumably because of their imperfect instruments) calculated that the crucial date was 2012, and this is the date that has taken hold in the human imagination. The 2012 Winter Solstice has gained significance through human thought, whereas the 1998 Winter Solstice (though astronomically more correct) has remained relatively unimportant because few people thought it was important.

Where does astrology fit into this? My own (admittedly very limited) studies of mundane astrological charts have suggested to me that these charts are meaningful only by virtue of their effect upon human minds. Thus, I have looked at charts of events that were not caused by human agency (such as Hurricane Katrina, or the tsunami of 2004), and have found nothing in the chart that seemed to suggest the nature of the event. But, when I looked at the charts for air and rail crashes, I have found clear indications of the states of mind (e.g. stress, negligence, foolhardiness, deliberate sabotage) of the people whose actions caused the crashes; and the chart for the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center gives a clear insight into the mindset of the terrorists who hijacked the planes. The impression I get is that the astrological chart affects the way in which people will tend to be thinking and feeling at that particular time, and that this may (or may not) have an observable effect on their actions.

This suggests that the 2012 chart may indicate only what will be in people’s minds at the time of the Winter Solstice. They will know that this is the end-date of the Mayan calendar, and their minds will be full of thoughts, hopes and expectations about the New Age whose birth has been predicted to occur at that time. This means that the developments predicted in the chart will only occur if people choose to bring them about. But maybe they will do so. Maybe they will be so inspired by the predictions of a new age of peace and harmony that they will move heaven and earth to translate them into reality.


(1) Jim Papp, 21 December 2012, the Mayan Calendar End-Date,

(2) Andrew Smith, The Revolution of 2012, vol.1: The Preparation, Ford-Evans Publishing, 2006.

(3) Wendy Stacey, “Quick Tips for Beginners: Interpreting the Yod”, Astrological Journal, vol.49 no.5, Sept-Oct 2007.

(4) David Hamblin, Harmonic Charts, Aquarian Press, 1983.

(5) John Major Jenkins, What is the Galactic Alignment?,



Isaka chart - Click for larger version

- David Hamblin, 2007