When legendary photographer Sebastião Salgado took over family land in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, instead of the tropical paradise that he remembered as a child, he found a barren landscape devoid of wildlife. It was 1994 and he had just returned from a horrific assignment reporting on the genocide in Rwanda, he told The Guardian in 2015.
“The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,” said Salgado. “Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees.” Salgado was devastated, but his wife Lelia was determined that they should replant the forest. And after 18 years of hard work, with the help of volunteers they managed to transform the property into a biodiverse paradise. All the wildlife has returned – including rare creatures like ocelots and purple-breasted parrots. They have planted more than 2 million trees, restored 1,500 acres of desiccated hillsides and created a natural forest ecosystem. Salgado claims that in the process, he, too, was reborn.
At the upcoming Sagittarius New Moon (Dec. 12, 3:32 p.m. PST), we all have an opportunity to revive and regenerate through connecting with nature – from mountains and trees to our own wild instincts. Sagittarius is a far-seeing fire sign that loves travel and adventure. And once again, Mars is a vital part of this lunation. The action-hero is at 13 degrees of Sagittarius, not far from the Sun and Moon at 20 degrees of the Archer’s sign, spurring us on to greater heights.
In your enthusiasm, however, don’t jump off any cliffs. Neptune squares the Sun and Moon, which could cloud your judgment or sense of direction. So if you’re headed out for a big adventure, make sure you know where you’re going and are properly prepared! A spiritual journey (inner or outer) could also be on the agenda, as Sagittarius seeks a higher purpose and often sparks a sense of faith. Even if you only have a hint of where you’re headed or what’s to come, trust your instincts. Intuitive hunches are shooting through the atmosphere, even if specifics are hazy. And thanks to the New Moon’s trine to Chiron and the North Node in Aries, there is also the potential for healing through courageous action.
Another extenuating factor at this lunation is that Mercury turns retrograde on the same day. Stationary Mercury is in full-on Trickster mode, which can slow things down, bring unexpected developments or mix up messages. Thankfully, Mercury in Capricorn is trine Jupiter in Taurus (the dispositor of the New Moon), bringing a dose of luck and much-needed grounding from these practical earth signs. If in doubt, take the tried-and-true path. And if weather allows, sit on the earth or get your hands in the dirt. Maybe it’s time to bring home a holiday tree (consider choosing a potted one that can be replanted).
Mercury backtracks into Sagittarius on Dec. 22 and turns direct in that adventurous sign on New Years Day. Then it re-enters practical Capricorn on Jan. 13, just after the Jan. 11 New Moon. If you’re looking to launch something for the New Year, Jan. 11-13 is the time to do it. Meanwhile, have a little fun during the holidays. All “re” things will be favored – like revisiting people and places or reviving your own well-being. And most of all, returning to nature. As Sebastião Salgado puts it, “Nature is the earth and it is other beings, and if we don’t have some kind of spiritual return to our planet, I fear that we will be compromised.” Check out his Instituto Terra and see how you can help support the restitution of nature.