A Pivotal Time


Today, March 20th, 2023, strikes a gong of new beginnings on increasingly larger scales of magnitude.  

  • First, it’s a New Moon, the first day of a 28-day lunar cycle.  
  • Second, within four hours, it enters the spring equinox, regarded by astrologers as the first day of the zodiacal New Year. 
  • Third, within three days, Pluto, planet of transformation, changes sign, entering Aquarius, regarded as the abode of inspiration, innovation and upheaval. In sum, its duration lasts some 284 years. 

The New Moon is located at one degree of Aires, the first sign of the zodiac. The Sun and Moon lead an impressive line-up of planets and asteroids in the same sign, adding up to a powerful alignment of Mars-ruled energies. In the higher octave, it’s a great time for courage, initiative and vigorous, positive action. In the lower octave, look for irritability, belligerence and outright conflict. 

In the higher octave, in the northern hemisphere, the entry of spring bodes a season of renewal and hope after a dreary winter. In the lower, we’re in for lots of rain, mud and windy bluster. 

With Pluto entering Aquarius, we can expect, though not necessarily over night, radical social, economic and political change. Astrologers, for example, point to the French and American revolutions, which occurred early on during Pluto’s last stay in Aquarius. In the higher octave, it supported the overthrow of oppressive rule by monarchs in favor of individual rights and freedom. In the lower octave, it witnessed cruel bloodbaths, massive dislocations and widespread suffering.  

Compounding the affect, the United States is currently going through its Pluto return. It’s a time of massive rethinking. In this case, being in the second house related to values both social and economic values, great shifts in how the nation sees itself and intends to evolve are already in the works. 

It’s a momentous, pivotal moment in time, either for better or worse. How will YOU use it? 

My greatest fear is that, as a nation, the US might fail to learn from the lessons of history and simply mindlessly repeat the same old mistakes, yet again. For example, the revolution in France gradually devolved back into tyranny. Napoleon, who at first was welcomed as a hero, eventually crowned himself emperor — tyranny dressed in new clothes. 

Similarly, in the United States, the values enshrined in the Bill of Rights have devolved and are currently under siege. Cloaked in liberal rhetoric, the oppressive influence of socialism has undermined its institutions — from education and healthcare to the government and military, dangerously undermining the values for which the founders fought. 

My dearest hope is that we will learn from the lessons of history and do the Pluto thing better this time around the astrological block. Much better. 

This time, let’s seek freedom from the inside out, rather than the other way around. Let’s do it more mindfully. Less violently. 

Words matter. A lot. And freedom in particular is a powerful word, much used, less often understood.   

In the year 2000, I wrote a collection of 64 essays based on the premise that, over time, the value words of the English language have devolved to mean both one thing and its opposite. The Tower of Babel Dilemma. All too often, we miss each other coming going, using the same words, but meaning very different things, sadly unaware of the disconnect.  

From the I Ching, the Chinese Book of Change, comes the awareness that in duality, there are two sides to every coin. Thus, for each of the value words explored, one section was called “The Front,” while a contrasting section was called “The Back.”  

Here’s part of the exploration of FREEDOM, which we would do well to revisit at this powerful, pivotal time of change: 


Freedom is the state or quality of being free, implying exemption or liberation from the control of other people or arbitrary powers. It means liberty and independence.  

It implies exemption from arbitrary restriction or a specified civil right.  

It can mean exemption or release from imprisonment, or being able to act, move or use without hindrance or restraint.  

It means being able of itself to choose or determine action freely, at will, implying ease of movement performance or facility. It means being free from the usual rules or patterns.  

It can also mean irresponsibility, easiness of manner, or sometimes an excessive frankness and familiarity. 

Most people fail to recognize that, like peace, love and unity, freedom is attained first on the inside as a state of mind and being, only then authentically reflected in external circumstances.  

In I Ching context, freedom is a state of in-dependence, depending primarily on inner resources – rather than undependable, imperfect mortals — for guidance, protection and peace.  

The freedom sages seek is the cessation of negative, involuntary patterns of behavior. Breaking the chains of destructive cause and effect is a function of deliberate self-awareness, forgiveness and atonement (at-one-ment). 

Those secure in themselves dedicate their lives to extending the freedom they value for themselves to others without prejudice. Abraham Lincoln, for example, had the soul of a sage. He intuitively knew the basics of magic, and recognized the difference between black and white rules. He wrote, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” 

In any case, while human laws might change outer appearances, they cannot change the underlying attitudes and beliefs that drive slavery. Nor is saying and doing whatever one wants as a puppet of blind impulse true freedom. Seeing through negative filters of fear, pride, or hatred is as limiting as literal bondage.  

When its people are disconnected from inner wisdom and out of touch with nature, though a society may call itself democratic, it isn’t truly free. 


The opposite of freedom is imprisonment or slavery. This includes not only external, physical incarceration, but internal, programmed or self-imposed limitations. Ignorance and bad attitudes, along with negative emotions and self-destructive habits can be as addicting as tobacco, alcohol or drugs, undermining personal freedom. 

Recklessness and heedlessness are perversions of freedom. If a mistrusted authority says not to drink, smoke or drive too fast, for example, the first thing a rebellious teen will do to assert “freedom” is disobey, regardless of the consequences. Sadly, this is the hard way to learn the connection between foolishness and disaster. 

This time around the repeating cycles of history, let’s be mindful that we have free will, and use this pivotal time of new beginnings as the opportunity to choose wisely. Let’s learn to live in the higher octave, and get better results for ourselves, our loved ones and for the collective community. 

Patricia West is author of The Common Sense Book of Change and Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change. She’s currently working on The Phoenix Response: Dying To Be Reborn – in the Same Lifetime.