With 2020 in the rear view mirror, everyone is desperately looking forward to 2021 as a chance to move away from all the challenges, frustrations and grief this year has brought with it.
A global pandemic, economic collapse, and social and political turmoil have all been on the docket for a year that, according to astrologers, marks the beginning of a major season of change.
Those looking for a brighter future in the stars might turn to Charleston's astrological experts who derive meaning by studying the movement and relative positions of celestial objects. The pseudoscience is, well, exactly that, and yet for centuries humans have made inferences about themselves and their roles in the universe from planetary alignments.
Alexander Mallon and Peter Lanzillotta are two of the Lowcountry's most well-known astrologers. Mallon's practice incorporates his background in astronomy and nature study, while Lanzillotta's background is in ministry and counseling.
Astrological cycles, like weather cycles, can be forecast based on past patterns and readily available information. But an astrologer's job is far different from predicting the future, shares Mallon.
"Throw the word 'prediction' out the window," he says. "You can gather a sense of what usually occurs during a confluence of cycles based on history, but a chart is more like a road map of the soul that still allows for you to make choices and have free will."
When looking back at 2020 and ahead to 2021, both astrologers have pointed out a few astrological patterns that are affecting an overall tension and slow but steady movement toward change in the United States.
First off, America is a Cancer-born nation that has entered a cycle in Capricorn, directly opposite to its birth chart. Next year, that will change as it enters Sagittarius and Gemini.
"There’s a lot of awakening to the dysfunctional origins of our country right now," Lanzillotta said. "The two big ones are obviously racism and women’s rights. What we’re seeing play out is, according to many professional astrologers and researchers, the death of the old patriarchy and the birth of a much more communal, egalitarian society that doesn’t look to color, status or race but to how it can cooperate to reach common ideals and aspirational goals."
Secondly, Mars was at its third-closest point to Earth in 65,000 years, but is now moving further away.
Mallon attributes this year's massive wildfires, economic wasteland and pandemic spread to the god of war's proximity to Earth. He says that wrath is now on the wane, with three or four more months left to go.
Thirdly, Pluto's orbit, which takes around 246 years, is bringing the dwarf planet back to where it was when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.
"Some people look back on the birth of our country as being a phenomenal change," said Lanzillotta. "For the first time in the history of the world, we were aiming at a democracy."
Just like change was at the forefront in 1776, it's on its way in the next four or so years, Lanzillotta said. It might be a slow-burn, though, he warns.
Pluto deals with plutocracy, and Mallon interprets this as a tense time for the yielding of government systems to new policies and the petroleum industry to renewable resources. A zeitgeist of power restructuring and reformation, humanitarianism and ecological awareness is about to take place.
The potential for growth and a new rebirth of sorts is coming, he says.
And fourthly, on the Winter Solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will be aligned in Aquarius, an air sign and major elemental shift after having almost 200 years in Earth signs.
A significant shift like this definitely means growing pains, Lanzillotta offers.
"This makes me hopeful we will finally get out of our adolescent qualities as a country and begin the difficult process of growing up," he said. "It means an emphasis away from materiality and looking closely at what are the guiding ideals for our lives and our nation."
How each individual deals with this change is another story, Lanzillotta said.
"Each person’s chart will reveal how difficult the process of change is for them," he said. "What areas are no big deal and what feels like they’re climbing up a jagged mountain."
The main thing is to understand and acknowledge that we are going through a crucible of change, both Lanzillotta and Mallon share. By identifying that and working together to rip off the Band-Aid, real change and healing can come.
Whether it's in the stars for 2021 or a few years down the line is another question.