To call 2020 a dumpster fire would be an understatement. A global pandemic, social uprising, and blistering election season all at the same time? Not exactly what we had in mind when we placed our orders at the #2020Vision store. But if there’s one positive thing 2020 did give us, it was a heightened sense of community.
Nothing will bring you closer to peers and loved ones than collective turmoil, and despite much of our social activities taking place in front of screens, last year showed us how much power there is in numbers. It’s that energy that will support us throughout this year, especially Black folks.
In 2020, we watched our brothers and sisters fervently show up on the front lines. Young Black TikTokers brought joy to our timelines. Black women organized to make political history. What the planetary alignments are asking us now is, how can we keep that same energy in 2021—for the benefit of ourselves and everyone around us?
By now, you’ve probably heard about The Great Conjunction that occurred during the winter solstice on December 21. It’s a powerful astrological occurrence during which Uranus and Saturn meet and pave the path to compromise for opposing forces. Jupiter, which represents growth and expansion, is also getting cozy with Aquarius for most of 2021 (#AgeOfAquarius). This spells out the potential for major change, especially as the January 12 New Moon approaches (January 13 for the east coasters), but only if we’re willing to put in the work.
“The Great Conjunction happens every 20 years. However, this is the first time it’s been in Aquarius since around the signing of the Magna Carta. That is significant,” says astrologer Janelle Belgrave. “As a Black community, we need to basically decide if we’re gonna be in this together,” she adds. “That’s the only way through.”
On December 21, while Black people were getting their superpowers, I caught up with Belgrave over Google Hangout to talk about 2021 and get a glimpse at the journey forward. Will 2021 just be another 2020? Or is this finally the beginning of something greater?
Unbothered: How are you feeling today? Did you wake up with any superpowers?
Janelle Belgrave: “Girl, I wish. No, I did not. But I’m a little bit less stressed when I was when we had all that Capricorn stuff happening. I’m feeling a bit more hopeful, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”
Speaking of superpowers, Black Twitter is considering the winter solstice and The Great Conjunction a Black community level-up. Why? What is this energy we’re moving into in 2021?
“Aquarius is very different from Capricorn in that it’s an air sign, so we’re moving from earth, which is a bit heavier. We felt the burden of dragging around all of our societal woes and things that we’ve agreed to, and after it was all pretty much dismantled by this pandemic and we really got to see, ‘Well maybe we don’t want to live in this hyper capitalist, sick society that only values people when they make money and nothing else.’
Aquarius is more like, ‘What does the group want? What do we need to survive? How are we going to progress forward as a society so that we’re more fair and equal and actually have functional democracies that aren’t threatened every election? How do we take care of each other?’ Capricorn can be very status quo centered where it’s all about, ‘Well look at my $80,000 purse!’ And it’s like, ‘Well thanks for showing me, but we’re all starving down here.’ So the shift is going away from materialism and really thinking about the masses as opposed to our individual desires. It becomes a collective hope for the future.
And so I think the Black community—I’m not sure where they got this notion; I think someone had randomly tweeted that they were getting some new DNA, and that’s not the first time [folks have braced themselves for a major event]. Think about December 21, 2012 when the Mayan calendar was ending and everyone thought the world was ending. And if it wasn’t that, it was Y2K, and if it wasn’t that, it was some other thing. Every 20 years or so, we tend to think it is the end [laughs], and maybe that’s because Saturn is the planet of endings. He’s the planet of death traditionally. He contracts and pulls things in, whereas Jupiter tends to be about expansion and growth, and so when these two get together it’s like super twins who are very opposite trying to work together. How do we contract and expand at the same time? We’re gonna have to see.
We can also look back in time to see how it’s manifested. In 1980 or so, we had it in Libra, and the big thing was trickle down economics. We went into the agreement that we would be fairly compensated [air quotes] for things and that did not turn out to be the case. In 2000, we saw it in the sign of Taurus, and we saw a whole bunch of wars in which we were pretty much appropriating others’ material wealth around the world. So now in Aquarius we’re like, “Well, maybe we should try something different, because this is not working out the way that we thought it would.”
Are The Great Conjunction and Age of Aquarius two different things?
“I think a lot of things are being conflated and added to the pot. The Great Conjunction happens every 20 years. However, this is the first time it’s been in Aquarius since around the signing of the Magna Carta. That is significant. So if we were to look backward at that time period, we could probably find clues as to what might be happening now.
In terms of the Age of Aquarius, that typically talks about the Age of Equinoxes or the Age of Procession, in which the ages move backward in time. You see a little bit in the Bible. We have the Golden Calf. That was the age of Taurus. It was all about abundance and having stability in our lives. Then we moved into the Age of Aries, which was all about war and conquest. We had the rise and fall of the Roman Empire was probably under the Age of Aries. And then we moved into the Age of Pisces, where Jesus was a central figure—giving to the poor, washing the feet of sex workers, feeding those with pieces of fishes and bread. That’s very Piscean.
Moving into Aquarius, we’re moving out of that into this sense of the community as a whole. But that’s many centuries into the future as far as I know. I think the closest age or time frame that I’ve heard for the Age of Aquarius is like 2100 at the earliest. I don’t think most of us are gonna be here in 80 years to enjoy, but this is the beginning in terms of, “In 100 years or 80 years, what do we want this to look like?” This is the starting point. This is the planted seed that we’re getting to right now.”
Overall this is a very progressive and positive energy it sounds like.
“It can be, but it can also be negative [laughs].”
So will 2021 be as tumultuous as 2020 was?
“I think 2021 is going to be a continuation of some of the tumult, but it’s gonna be different. Some of the major transits that we have happening are going to be squares instead of conjunctions that we had. A square is a 90-degree angle, so we have planets and a collection of signs that fight with each other. In this case, it will be the fixed signs conflicting. Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius are in fixed signs, and eventually they’re going to be squared off with Uranus in Taurus.
What that can really bring about is a lot of upheaval. It can really force people to get out in these streets because the issue will be about resources and people getting these resources, so I expect there to be a lot more protests and strikes because we’re going to find that our government may not be willing to serve us, and the only thing that’s gonna get them to serve us is if we get them there ourselves.”
Black women are demanding more from the world in 2021. How can we use this energy to our advantage to get what we need and deserve in this new year?
“I think one thing that Black women have mastered over the generations is to be in community with each other. Sisterhood among Black women is really strong, so I think that's going to be one of the strongest starting points — to be in community with your friends, to have collective visioning. If you know people who want to have the same things that you do in life, work with them! I think we’re going to be moving out of this hyper-individualistic sense of self that we’ve had, especially after being in isolation for so long. I think we’ve learned the value of being with others, so I would say get into community.
Also, don’t be afraid of the friction. This is not an easy time for anyone. It’s not going to go smoothly, so I want people — especially Black women — to not be afraid of fighting with each other a little bit. From friction comes creativity. We’re not always going to agree, but hopefully with Aquarius energy, we’ll be able to detach and step back enough to see someone else’s perspective long enough to say, ‘You know what? It’s not worth me walking away. I can compromise.’
Fixed energy takes time to really manifest. It’s not fast. And when things really come to a head or fall apart, it’s because it broke. It was no longer sustainable. So things are gonna break. Friendships are gonna break, families are gonna break, a lot of things are going to break before they get built back up.”
I think we definitely saw a lot of that in 2020. What are some other key astrological events we should be looking out for in the new year?
“We’ve got the eclipses. We just finished up a set. We had one November 30 and another on December 14. Those are gonna continue. They’re going to pick up again in May and June of 2021 as well as December and I believe November. When eclipses are in the sign of Sagittarius and Gemini, we’re dealing with the karmic energy regarding those two signs—so a lot of things regarding our information, how we communicate, how we write, how we talk, how we get information out into the world, how we teach, education, religion, all of these major structures in our world have been dismantled. Some churches are burning for goodness sakes. Sometimes eclipses can be very, very literal.
We have some squares. The Inauguration Day chart is spicy. I’m hoping that there will be nothing that pops off at the event, but it’s a possibility, and that’s kind of going to be the energy that marks this presidency. This is not gonna be an easy run, and leading up into 2024, if we don’t nail it, some savvier Trump who’s a lot more smart and attractive is gonna come back around. This is not a time for us to get comfy. This is not the end. This is a very long beginning.”
I’m hearing “buckle up” in my head.
On a more optimistic note, what do you hope to see happen this year?
“I’m a Jupiter in Aquarius myself so this is my Jupiter return. I’m very, very excited because this is the stuff I’m always thinking about. What I would love to see is more people being hopeful but also committed to that hope.
I was doing some research, and one of the things that we’re going to be going through is a Jupiter-Uranus square, and in the past, some of the things that have come up is new exploration. We landed on the moon for the first time when that transit was exact, so we can do amazing things.”