December’s edition of the Full Moon Journal, Ignota’s monthly membership offering, is now available to all! This month’s instalment of the Journal is a Palestine solidarity special, so we've made it publicly available. Happy midwinter!
Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Cancer
The astrological month ahead – from the full moon in Cancer on 27 December until the full moon in Leo on 25 January – will kindle your determination to initiate bold forward movement at the start of the new year. Fittingly, for a period that begins soon after we have reached the darkest days of the year, Pluto will take centre stage, its transformative gravity demanding we relate to our inner darkness. Each lunation of the month is configured to Pluto by sign: the full moon in Cancer is opposite Pluto in Capricorn, the new moon in Capricorn will form a conjunction with Pluto, and the full moon in Leo will form an opposition with Pluto less than a week after it has entered Aquarius. Indeed, the entrance of Pluto into Aquarius on 21 January will be the major astrological event of the month.
Pluto is known to correlate with intense dynamics and conflicts over power. Yet the meaning of Pluto also pertains to inner power and the regenerative creativity encountered within the depths of our unconscious. The full moon in Cancer will be a potent opportunity to draw on inner sources of strength, as the moon will form a harmonious aspect with Jupiter in Taurus at the same time that Jupiter stations direct on 31 December. While the harmony between the moon and Jupiter is ideal for nurturing increased growth and vitality, the simultaneous stationing direct of Chiron in Aries on 27 December will highlight which aspects of ourselves need mentoring and counsel in order to develop.
The conjunction between Mars and Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius on 27 December adds a disruptive, fiery quality to this full moon in Cancer. With Mars and Mercury clashing with Neptune, be mindful of becoming blinded by illusory ideals when taking action or reacting to crises. However, due to Mercury stationing direct on 2 January in addition to Jupiter stationing direct on 31 December, the courageous boldness that can be stoked by the combination of Mars and Mercury is perfect for initiating dynamic plans of action for the new year. After Mars enters its exaltation of Capricorn on 4 January, there will be bolstered support for making purposeful strides in growth based on pragmatic planning.
The new moon in Capricorn on 11 January applies to a conjunction with Pluto, initiating a lunar cycle focused on the significance of Pluto changing signs. The new moon is close to the same degree as the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn in 2020, which corresponded with the beginning of a global pandemic. Thus the new moon not only may acutely focalise attention on the metamorphosis you have had to undergo since the pandemic of 2020, as well as dredging up material involving your larger arc of change since Pluto first entered Capricorn in 2008.
Fortunately, the entrance of Mercury into Capricorn on 14 January will enhance our capacity for strategic decision-making, taking account of changes shaping larger collective movements. Mercury will quickly move through a supportive sextile with Saturn on 18 January and a flowing trine with Jupiter on 19 January, helping to solidify any projects you have been developing since Mercury stationed retrograde in Capricorn on 13 December. Ripples of change through collective and personal dynamics will be keenly felt as the sun forms a conjunction with Pluto at the utter end of Capricorn on 20 January. Incredibly, the sun and Pluto will move forward into Aquarius at almost the same time, with the sun entering Aquarius on 20 January and Pluto on 21 January. Listen for any changes emerging from within as external transformations in collective events become more apparent.
On 25 January, the full moon in Leo will form a catalysing square with Jupiter in Taurus and an opposition with Pluto, illuminating the meaning of Pluto’s return to Aquarius. Pluto previously spent time in Aquarius from 23 March to 11 June 2023, a period that involved an acceleration of advancements and existential questions concerning AI. Pluto will spend most of the rest of 2024 in Aquarius, aside from a brief return to Capricorn from 2 September until 19 November, eventually settling into an extended stay that will last until 2043. An incredibly vast story arc in the world will be initiated with Pluto’s entrance into Aquarius this month, and while it’s not hard to make far-flung predictions it will be important to honour the great mystery of the changes being set into motion. Make the space and time needed to return to centre and come into relationship with whatever you wish to develop and grow over the next twenty years. 2024 will be only the beginning.
Gray Crawford is a practising natal and horary astrologer who lives in Olympia, Washington. Gray enjoys bringing a relational, imaginative, and psychological approach to the living symbolism of astrology, using techniques drawn from ancient and modern sources. Gray has spoken at the UAC, NORWAC, and ISAR astrology conferences as well as for various astrology associations around the USA. Gray writes astrology articles on his site and is available for consultations and mentorship/tutoring.
Notes from the Ignota Diary
Image: T. Kaukoranta, 1928, Nuutinpäivä, Museum Agency, Kansatieteen kuvakolue, Finland, CC BY 4.0
Early January is a good time to sow basil (ocimum basilicum) for an early crop in May. In European lore, basil is Satan’s herb, requiring cursed ground to grow properly, hence the French idiom for ranting, ‘semer le basilic’ (‘to sow the basil’). A fragrant and versatile culinary herb, basil is associated with Mars and Scorpio, and has a wide range of magical properties. Use in exorcisms and protection spells, as well as to attract money, luck and love.
Festivals and observances
13 January: Nuutinpäivä (Finland), a celebration where young men dress as goats by wearing inverted fur jackets, birch masks and horns. They wander from house to house to demand food and alcohol. Likely connected with the fact that in the old calendar it was New Year’s Eve. In Ukraine and Belarus a similar parade of revellers visits houses, playing pranks, guided by a bachelor in women’s clothes driving a goat.
15 January 2024: Makar Sankranti, Hindu midwinter celebration marking the transition of the sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn. Celebrations vary by region and can involve the flying of kites, attendance of fairs, worship of the Sun God and submergence, to purify the self and bestow punya or virtue.
21 January: Babinden (Bulgaria), a traditional feast to celebrate midwives. All women who gave birth the previous year bring their babies to the midwife’s house to be anointed with honey and butter. After feasting and drinking, the tipsy women prank men who must pay money to be left alone.
23 January 1967: Birth of Belkis Ayón, artist and printmaker, in Havana, Cuba. Best known for her collographs based on Abakuá, a secret Afro-Cuban society that began in Nigeria and was brought to Haiti and Cuba in the nineteenth century through the slave trade.
1 January Hatsumode or hatsumairi (Japan), the Shinto holy day marking a new year. Early in the morning, visit shrines to thank the kami (spirits), request good fortune and make resolutions for the year ahead.
5 January: Twelfth Night, the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas. To leave Christmas decorations hanging after this date is considered unlucky, perhaps due to an old belief in tree spirits living in the winter greenery traditionally used as decorations.
27 December 1882 Mina Loy, feminist, artist, writer, poet, playwright, is born in London. Her work aimed to transcend conventional ways of perceiving reality through mysticism and intuition. ‘Our person is a covered entrance to infinity.’
29 December 1926: Death of Rainer Maria Rilke, poet, in Montreux, Switzerland. ‘The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.
December 1945: Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library. Two brothers find an earthenware vessel containing several papyri while digging for fertiliser near the Jabal al-Ṭārif caves in Egypt. The papyri surfaced slowly on the market, one bought as a present for Carl Jung and now known as the Jung Codex. The library includes a large number of ‘Gnostic Gospels’, such as the Gospel of Thomas, which are fundamental to contemporary understanding of Gnosticism.
1 January 1889 During the total solar eclipse over Western America, the Paiute healer Wovoka receives a vision prophesying the return of the dead, the exodus of white colonisers from North America and an age of unity and prosperity for Native American peoples. The practice of the Ghost Dance, which hastens the fulfilment of the prophecy, spreads to much of the Western United States.
4 January 2008 Death of John O’Donohue, Irish poet, author, priest and Hegelian philosopher, best known for re-popularising neo-Celtic spirituality. ‘Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.’
7 January 1891 Zora Neale Hurston, writer, folklorist, anthropologist and ethnographer, is born in Notasulga, Alabama. The first African American woman to be trained as an anthropologist, she found in Vodou a crucible for transformation. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is written in Haiti on a research trip into the region’s folk and magical-spiritual culture. ‘Gods always behave like the people who make them.’
10 January 1998: The first official Fête du Vodoun (Benin), a national holiday celebrating Vodou as a religion and heritage. Thousands of people from around the world gather in the city of Ouidah to receive blessings from the roi, Daagbo Hounon Houna II, and partake in gin, dancing, sacrifice, singing and possession.
22 January 2018 Death of Ursula K. Le Guin, myth-maker, feminist and voyager, aged 88 in Portland, Oregon. ‘Magic exists in most societies in one way or another, and one of the forms it exists in a lot of places is, if you know a thing’s true name, you have power over the thing, or the person.’
These notes were originally published in the Ignota Diary. The Ignota Diary 2024 is now shipping!
Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung
Image: Sougwen Chung, 2023, Dialectic of Meteors (Seed Theory). Courtesy of the artist.
Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-Canadian artist and researcher, and is the founder and artistic director of Scilicet, a London-based studio exploring human & non-human collaboration. Chung is a former research fellow at MIT’s Media Lab and is considered a pioneer in the field of human-machine collaboration – exploring the mark-made-by-hand and the mark-made-by-machine as an approach to understanding the dynamics of humans and systems.
Chung has exhibited internationally at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Art Basel, Miami; National Art Center, Tokyo; NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo, Japan; ArtScience Museum, Singapore; MIT Media Lab, Cambridge; The Drawing Center, New York; The New Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Geneva; Mana Contemporary, New York, Tribeca Film Festival, New York; The Hospital Club, London; Mutek Festival, Montreal & Mexico City; Sonar Festival, Barcelona.
Chung’s work has been featured in publications including Art F City, Artnet, Artplugged, Artsy, Business Insider, Dazed and Confused, Engadget, EXIT Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes, Irish Times, MASHABLE, Noema Magazine, Seattle Times, Superrare, The Creators Project, The Jakarta Post, The New Yorker, USA Today, Washington Post, and Wired.
A former TED Speaker, Chung has spoken at international conferences including SIGGRAPH Conference, Vancouver; Global Art Forum, Singapore; World Science Festival, New York; Cannes Lions, Cannes; WSJ's Future of Everything Conference, New York; Tribeca Film Festival Interactive, New York; House of Beautiful Business, Lisbon; OFFF, Barcelona; FITC, Tokyo; Internet Dargana, Stockholm; SXSW, Austin; The Art Directors Club, New York.
Chung has been selected for excellence in the Arts & Sciences as Woman of the Year in Monaco, received the Lumen Prize for Art in Technology, was an inaugural E.A.T. Artist in Residence in partnership with New Museum and Bell Labs, was awarded a commission for project Omnia per Omnia, was the Japan Media Arts recipient of the Excellence Award for Drawing Operations, and was selected as one of the Top 20 New Visual Artists by Print Magazine. Additionally, Sougwen Chung has been awarded Artist in Residence positions at Google, Studio Wayne McGregor, Laurenz Haus Basel, Eyebeam, Japan Media Arts, and Pier 9 Autodesk.
Five and Nine: Tarotscope
Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.
This tarotscope was read using the Rider Waite Smith deck digitised on Moonlight, an online platform for tarot readings. It’s a general reading for the collective, using only the tarot, in which we present cards for the different elements. These readings were drawn in a coworking space in this twelfth month of the Chariot Year and eleventh month of the Rabbit Year, on the arrival of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and summer solstice in the south.
Past: Six of Cups
This month’s tarot reading is incomplete without an elemental reading, but it represents a common experience. As we are reading on the solstice, we encourage you think of ‘Past’ as the past six months, and of the Present as the general shadow of the solstice period.
The past six months have been an invitation to us for self care, for ritual, for kindness to ourselves and our communities. The Six of Cups in the Past position contains a gentleness, a childlike wonder in sharing and celebrating the flowers that grow around us and that we’ve tended to. And yet it reflects a basic act of care, one that does not butt up against matters of power, politics and injustice.
And so the Present card is a transformation, from the red cloaks that surround the children in the Rider Waite Smith Six of Cups to the red robes of justice. The Justice figures carries both scales and a sword, now grown up and considering what care means in a time of tremendous suffering and inequality. What does care look like when the risks are greater, when the powers-that-be are formidable, when the consequences are mass death?
It begins to look like grappling with what we mean by Justice.
Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
Way Forward: Two of Wands Reversed
The figure in the Two of Wands stands out in front of the world but gazes into a globe. Reversed, this card invites you to look upward, to take what you’ve learned from periods of contemplation and to now consider how you bring this work into life. Step forth into the world and know your guides will help show you the way.
Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
Way Forward: Nine of Swords
The figure in the Nine of Swords sits up in bed, face in hands, as the nine swords hang over them. As the suit of the mind, the swords here are a reminder: don’t look away. You are having a normal response to abnormal and unjust conditions. As the heart breaks, so does complacency. Therein lies the space for transformation.
Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
Way Forward: Ten of Cups
In the Ten of Cups, figures dance and celebrate the beautiful rainbow of cups before them. It’s a card of joy, a card of the heart, a card that asks you where your restoration comes from and how you heal in community. Your Air-bound nature may cause you to weigh all the consequences and contemplate the possibilities. This card is an invitation to balance that energy with the heart. In these times, joy is not just possible but necessary.
Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
Way Forward: Five of Cups
In grief, we learn what the heart most longs for. The Five of Cups in the Rider Waite Smith deck shows a figure in black mourning over three spilt cups. Behind them, two cups remain. As you grieve, remember what remains for you. Even when all is lost, not all is lost. Carry these cups forth into 2024, and you may find the healing you need to give to the world in a time of great suffering.
AX Mina (Ana), Dorothy R. Santos and Xiaowei R. Wang are long-time tarot practitioners and authors. They produce Five and Nine (@fiveandnine_podcast), a podcast at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.
Yamen Mekdad: Gaza Sets Us Free
In loss of words yet with unwavered belief that justice will prevail for Gaza, Palestine and all of us. Our sisters and brothers in Gaza are resisting to free us all. This mix was made out of recorded sounds from TV channels, field recordings; it also includes works by Ghazi barakat, El Rass, Sam Shalabi, Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Fouad Negm.
Yamen Mekdad is a music researcher, collector, DJ and radio host based in London. His interests in field recording, archiving, radio and grassroots organising have led him to found Sawt of the Earth and Makkam, two London-based collectives. He is a frequent contributor to a number of radio stations, including Root Radio and Balamii Radio, and was a producer of DanDana podcasts on SOAS Radio. Yamen is currently co-producer/curator of the Syrian Cassette Archives, a web-based platform that preserves the Syrian cassette era as well as curating and producing Syrian Arts and Culture Festival’s music programme. Yamen has performed and collaborated with various artists and art institutions both in the UK and internationally.
Rose Nordin: STUART Papers
This selection of images is from STUART Paper Issue 2: The Openness of the horizon to which I am not – a live archive of artists’ thoughts and visual notes on the subject of solidarity with Palestine.
Read STUART issue 2 in full here, digitised for free and hosted by Mosaic Rooms. See also: reading resources by Mosaic Rooms
Rose Nordin is currently artist-in-residence at Somerset House Studios London UK and Jan Van Eyck Academie Maastricht NL, developing work on the divine qualities of printed letterforms and alphabets under the project The talisman of the written word and the talking leaves. Rose is interested in the publication as a site of exchange and collaboration, print technologies as tools for union, and letterforms as modes of magic. As a designer, Rose primarily makes artist books and printed matter. This extends to exhibition and custom type design. Her project STUART papers is a highly visual, free newspaper-style publication that reflects thematically on selected texts and archived ephemera from the Stuart Hall Library and connects to contemporary collectives through responsive content.
Christina Hazboun and Knut Jonas Sellevold: (Ear) Witnessing
This 60-minute piece for Radio AlHara is a collaboration between Christina Hazboun and Knut Jonas Sellevold on the concept of ‘witnessing’: an aural and musical collage of music, poetry, voice, field-recordings and testimonies of ear and eyewitnesses, held together with interwoven and transformed sounds taken from iconic Palestinian band Sabreen (with permission from Sabreen and Pop Arabia).
With sounds and music from Sabreen, The Gaza Youth Choir, Ahmad Kabour, Waleed Abdelsalam, Firqat Al-Ashiqeen, Sol Band, Donya Ashour, Ismail Abu Hatab, Wael Odeh, Mahmoud Darwish, and the children of Gaza.
Image taken by Palestinian filmmaker and artist Mohamed Jabaly in Gaza in 2013 and kindly gifted to us for use in this piece.
Christina Hazboun is a sonic agent, surfing soundwaves in search of eargasms, exploring music, words and sound in space, time and society. Her multifarious adventuring through music and sound manifest through an intersectional web of activities aimed at amplifying the voices of the underheard from the SWANA and the global majority via texts, poetry, radio/sound collages, talks and curation with a special interest in music industries, gender diversity and digital connectivity.
Knut Jonas Sellevold is a Bergen-based artist, producer, DJ, and researcher. Knut's work is anchored in his academic background in sound studies and ethnomusicology, with a particular focus on music education, sound pedagogy, ecology, and decolonisation. He explores these themes through his monthly radio show Vibrant Matter on Radio AlHara in Palestine and Vers Libre Community Radio in Bergen.