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New Moon in Aquarius: Valentines

by April Elliott Kent A few days after the Sun entered Aquarius, we organized a breakfast cookout in the park with our friends. Sound nuts? I thought so too, when my husband suggested it. “But it’s January!” I complained. “It’s been raining for, like, a month. It’ll be freezing!” But Jonny, with Aquarius ruling his 9th house, had a stubbornly optimistic vision of midwinter: A barbecue in the park. Friends. Hibachis. Fun.

And you know what? It was fun. There were some harrowing moments leading up to the big event – the day before, when a light rain fell; at 6:30 am the morning of the party, when we woke to find the thermometer outside read 44 degrees. But the day was clear and the sun was warm, and by the time we got to the park the temperature was a balmy 58. About a dozen of our favorite friends trickled in, armed with hibachis, bacon and eggs, and terrific conversation. We fired up our grills, threw ourselves into a chaotic dance of cooking and eating and laughing, then collapsed on the grass and soaked up the sun. And damned if we didn’t all have such a marvelous time that after we had packed everything up a few hours later, we stood around chatting in the parking lot for another half an hour.

When we had reluctantly parted ways with our friends, Jonny and I came home and spent the rest of the afternoon putting away camping equipment and congratulating ourselves on having the coolest friends in the world. I suppose everyone feels that way, since friends are, by definition, people you like, or at least have something in common with. And born with Jupiter in Aquarius, it is no surprise I feel exceptionally lucky in the friends department. Jupiter is a treasure map with the location of our greatest treasure clearly marked; Aquarius is astrological shorthand for friendships and group connections with like-minded folks. Is there anything in the world more delightful than rounding up a group of your friends, putting out a tray of food and a bottle of wine, and watching the conversational sparks fly?

Like the other air signs, Gemini and Libra, Aquarius is a communication expert, adept at making connections with others. But where Gemini is content to have fleeting and pleasant encounters with the grocery clerk, and Libra focuses on the magic of one-to-one relationships, Aquarius is a fixed sign that pulls all these connections into his field of gravity and hangs on until they coalesce into a distinctive group – “Friends of Jonny and April,” say. And before you know it, a random collection of people who started out with only us in common find they share many of our interests in common, too – politics, coffee, music, astrology.

And yet, whenever I think of the astrological Aquarius, it is cold, off-putting images that come to mind, science fiction landscapes of metal and electrical wires, ice and electric shock. Certainly I don’t picture warm times with friends, or the hearts and flowers of Valentine’s Day, which never seems quite at home in the platonic Aquarian season. Remember how disappointing it was, as a kid, to get Valentine cards from friends? It’s not that you weren’t grateful for their affection, it’s just that, as you impatiently rifled through your stack of Valentines, you were secretly searching for one from the cute boy who sat across the aisle and two seats back. That one would somehow “count,” unlike a Valentine from a friend, or from your sister or mother. It was an unattractive attitude that followed some of us into adolescence and even adulthood, this notion that friends were lesser attachments to be discarded at the merest whiff of romance.

Now that I’m older and happily married, and no longer looking over my friends’ shoulders for my next romantic prospect, I appreciate my friends so much more than I did when I was young. Oh, I wish I’d kept those goofy, affectionate childhood Valentine cards from my friends! Well, at least I kept some of the friends; and along with the other connections I’ve formed throughout the decades, I’m grateful beyond measure for their companionship and wise words in troubled times. I admire, respect, and rely upon my friends- but mostly, I enjoy them. They make me laugh, they make me think, they inspire me. Friendships are completely optional relationships, an opportunity to examine an alien other up close without the expectations and codependency of marriage or the obligations and resentments of family. The love of friends is Aquarian love, a pair of arms wide open – the better to take you in, and to leave you free to go.

Jonny’s quirky, midwinter picnic gave us a perfect opportunity to celebrate friendship, the web of connections that keeps us warm even in the coldest moments of our lives. You may be a social butterfly by nature, or you may (like me) be an introvert who finds social interactions a bit draining. But this Aquarian New Moon season, with the Sun and Moon in joyous aspect to Jupiter and touched by compassionate, fun-loving Neptune, is an ideal time to explore the comfort and power of groups. Whatever your disposition, celebrate some part of your Aquarian season with friends – unite your power with theirs in ritual and activism, playing team sports and games, or just throwing a party. There is powerful sweetness in finding your people – and, like Aquarius, holding on tight to them, with your arms wide open.

© 2005 April Elliott Kent