On Ice Ages

Before the Winter Solstice, I was reading “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel. In a chapter on savings and compound interest, he gave an example about Ice Ages which gave me pause. 

It seems that Climate researchers don’t believe that Ice Ages are caused by extremely cold Winters with unusually heavy snowfalls. They believe, based on their findings, that Ice Ages are caused by a few years of unusually short and mild Summers. Summers that fail to melt the existing snowpack year after year. In as little as a decade of these short Summers, Ice Age conditions start to build. Once it starts, it’s difficult to reverse, and an Ice Age takes hold.

With Saturn and Jupiter just moving into Aquarius, my 2nd House of personal finances and movable possessions (among other things), the story of the Ice Age clicked for me. It frames the impact of these planets moving through my 2nd this year, and helps me hold the concept of expansion (Jupiter) through constriction (Saturn). 

The ice expands (Jupiter) through a series of limited (Saturn) Summers. It’s a slow process that gets easier as time goes on. The more ice and snow that’s accumulated, the more intense (or longer) the Summer needs to be to melt it.  The gains of the ice are not immediately recognized, but builds into something that’s long lasting. It’s patient persistence.

Yet, the metaphor is strange. It feels flipped, doesn’t it? Typically, Jupiter would be the Summer, and Saturn would be the Ice. And growth (in savings) would occur by restraining the Jupiterian impulse to spend big. Growing Jupiter Ice requires a shift in focus that’s counter-intuitive in order to get it to fit. It’s focusing on what’s “not happening” rather than what “is happening”. This odd counter-intuitive feeling is the same as the one I got when I first realized that it’s not the extreme Winters that kick off Ice Ages, but the mild Summers.

Thinking in terms of limiting losses (like Saturn limits the Ice Age Summers) and securing what I already have rather than how to acquire more is a key for me this year. Identifying what exactly is “the ice” that I want to grow and what do I not have to do in order to make sure that it collects and lasts will be a task for this Winter. So will be looking at what’s quietly and softly accumulating now because it’s likely to stick around for a long time.

I’ll be sitting with the metaphor for a while and seeing how it unfolds. I haven’t ruled out that there isn’t more to it. The shift that it requires is still not entirely comfortable for me. It somehow feels off-center. The Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius signaled a major shift from an Age of Earth to an Age of Air, and it’s just getting started. Perhaps, this shift of thought is part of the shift to air and it’s causing turbulence. It may be a while before the equilibrium returns and thoughts like these feel comfortable.

Although when you think about it, snow can be Aquarian. After all, it’s water tossed by the wind traveling through air. 

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