Aquarium Age by Ralfee Finn
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Weekly Frequency 2010

The Archives are organized by month, with the most recent columns first

December | November | October | September
August | July | June | May
April | March | February | January

All columns © Ralfee Finn

December 22, 2010

This Christmas, whether it’s on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day, the conversation around the feasting table is likely to be highly unusual. In Woo-Woo world (where I live), New Age families are likely to be talking about the Mayan factor and the end of time (after all we’re only two years away from the target date of December 21, 2012). The end of the world could also be a topic of conversation in more traditional households, especially given the political mess we’re in, as well as the current state of the economy. Some communities have already recognized what happens when you combine prophecy and politics – Palin 2012: 10,000 Mayans Can’t Be Wrong -- my favorite bumper sticker, spotted in Santa Fe by a friend (and, yes, I am still working on that learning to love the Republicans thing). Wherever you find yourself along this spectrum of strange, you can be certain someone will up the ante from odd to odder. So leave your judgments at the door (or if you’re hosting, tuck them neatly under the carpet), and simply allow yourself to be amused. Remember, ‘tis the season to be jolly.

Several sources contribute to the week’s preoccupation with fringe realities. First, we are in the throes of a lunar eclipse that occurred on Tuesday, December 21, at the last degree of the Gemini/Sagittarius axis. Both Gemini and its complement, Sagittarius, love (and I mean love) to talk, and sometimes they love to talk so much, they just prattle on about any ole thing. But because eclipses tend to reveal previously hidden information, this eclipse has the potential to unfold as a series of personal wikileaks. (It makes no difference that this eclipse happened yesterday; eclipses tend to have an effect six weeks before or six weeks after the actual event.) And this eclipse packs power: it is the first full lunar eclipse on the solstice since December 21, 1638. Which means we can expect its loquacious signature to motivate otherwise quiet, contained, and discreet individuals to reveal astonishing information about a wide range of subjects, and the most unusual of those topics would not even be stories of Ayahuasca rituals in the Peruvian rainforest.

Second, Mercury is still retrograde, and while its square to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction is waning, I’m thinking it still carries some clout. When Mercury stimulates a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction (which is already weird and wonderful), all variety of information is suddenly “shared.” Mercury is also in a sextile to Neptune, a dreamy combination that has the potential to turn certain dialogues poetic. Neptune signifies imagination. Mercury symbolizes language. And when they work together, minds are able to reach beyond the confines of mundane reality. Writers, keep pen and paper handy – this sextile inspires storytelling.

Two difficult interactions could interfere with the festivities and turn eclectic, upbeat conversations mundane and dour. All week long, we are moving into a Mars/Saturn square, a difficult interaction, with a bent toward severity that’s bound to empower bah-humbug attitudes. We are also in the midst of a Sun/Pluto conjunction, another hard configuration that feeds the need to control – everything. This means you or someone you love might not be able to refrain from putting a foot down on subject matter that strays just a bit too far from what he or she would like Christmas to be. Remember, this year’s holiday mantra is “non-judgment.”

As we approach the end of a gruelingly intense year, you may find yourself reviewing significant moments. Apply the same notion of non-judgment to this retrospective, and as you do, please be kind to yourself and to others.


December 15, 2010

It’s just not a normal Mercury Retrograde, and all best efforts to summon a seasonal deceleration are likely to meet with opposition. I don’t know about you, but I was expecting the current retrograde phase to bring daily life to a crashing halt, and from what I can tell, it’s more about picking up stitches than dropping them. What’s more, this peculiar retrograde rhythm continues well past the silent night of Christmas weekend, which means rather than winding down to an end-of-the-year review, we’re revving up into much more than a few last minute details. Frankly, I’m bummed. I was really looking forward to a slo-mo rewind holiday, with plenty of extra time to contemplate a too intense year in preparation for another. Oh well…I guess I’ll just have to settle for interference and interruption from the usual retrograde suspects – lost packages, misplaced car keys, server problems, and emotional meltdowns.

Oddly, it is not just Uranian eccentricities that make this retrograde hectic and frenetic. Pluto and Mars are also at the heart of this signature. Mercury began its third review of the year on December 10, and as it “turned around” it formed a conjunction with Pluto, Mars, and the South Node, a powerful bundle that can often manifest as a restless mind that tends to speak before it thinks. Rash words are likely to be a problem, especially because the combined influence of Pluto and Mars has the potential to turn attitudes aggressive. As provocative language incites riots, large or small, the peacemakers among us will be busy putting out a variety of fires. This tendency towards rashness was also present last week, when the focus was on an impetuous heart. As I always say, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Wherever you find yourself spending the currency of this Mercury/Mars/Pluto/South Node conjunction, it would be wise to take your time.

Unfortunately, patience won’t be easy to grab hold of, because as Mercury retrogrades, it moves into a conjunction with the Sun, as well as a square to the ongoing Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. And this combination is even more over the top. Yes, this is an inventive, innovative and highly creative combination. But it is also really hard on nervous systems, which means for those of you already suffering from disturbed sleep, get ready for more than sugar plums to be disrupting your REM state.

And if all of that isn’t enough, there’s a lunar eclipse on December 21, on the morning of the Solstice. Both the Sun and the Moon – and Mercury—square the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. This isn’t necessarily a negative interaction, but it is an intense signature that’s likely to stir already stirred emotional bodies.

As the final weeks of 2010 unfold, a lot of us are likely to respond to our year-end reviews with suppressed, repressed, or simply pent-up feelings that have been held at bay. But what’s held back eventually lets loose. So don’t be surprised if you or someone you love starts to “share” or act out. Rather than react, try to remember that we are in the most emotionally charged time of the year, the time of year when all acts of kindness and compassion have an exponential beneficial effect.


December 8, 2010

Put away your fa-la-las -- the planets aren’t playing “Deck the Halls” and they certainly aren’t singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” (At least not without a few delays, detours, and layovers in airports far, far from home.) It’s Mercury Retrograde time, again, and you know what that means: We’re in for a great gnashing of teeth and grinding of gears, as Mercury, master of travel and communication, insists on a slow motion, detailed review of recent (and in some cases ancient) history. Instead of caroling about comfort and joy, many of us are more likely to be singing our hearts out with frustration: Woke up this mornin’, I was already late. Knew I’d never make it, the plane had left the gate. Battery died in my cell phone, battery died in my car. Battery in my watch stopped. It’s a sorry day so far. Seems like nothing I do is right, though I try with all my might…got them Mercury Retrograde blues again.

Yes…it is a sad lament, especially this time of year, when most of us – not everyone, but most of us –  want party plans to go smoothly and good cheer to infuse our seasonal festivities. Don’t misunderstand. Mercury is not a pernicious planet. Mischievous, maybe, but not ill- intentioned. But its retrograde phases (there are three a year) are a drag because when Mercury seemingly turns around and retraces its recent path (which it will do until December 30), we experience problems with all things Mercury related. Computers crash, servers go berserk, hard drives fail, email goes missing, and snailmail, too, and all sorts of other minor and major mishaps turn the regular routines of daily life upside down. Mercury is also the negotiator, and its retrograde phase can transform standard contracts into nightmares of particulars. Final exams, papers, and deadlines of every variety suffer during a retrograde phase.

The Mercury Retrograde rule of thumb warns against initiating anything new during this period. Instead, spend the retrograde phase reviewing, reflecting, and reconsidering the details of what’s already in motion. Sounds good to me, especially given that this is the season of review. And given that there are only three weeks left to contemplate what has been a tremendous year of change, why not take a few extra minutes to think about all that has transpired. Three weeks might not even be enough time. After all, more happened to most people between April and September of this year than anyone expected or was prepared for. And we are still adjusting to those shifts.

Mercury goes retrograde in an exact sextile to Venus, a lovely, positive alignment that will produce words of love. Mercury also “turns around” in a conjunction with Mars, Pluto, and the North Node, all in Capricorn, a powerful bundle that produces the potential to fall in love, quickly, thinking that the attraction is “fated.” But don’t get married till after the retrograde. Sometimes, we are drawn to someone because he or she provokes a deep emotional process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are meant to inhabit that process for eternity.

As the week unfolds, do your best to manage Mercury Retrograde, but also be sure to have as much fun as possible. In spite of the “Mercury Retrograde Blues” lament, ‘tis the season to be jolly.

December 1, 2010

Tweets go atwitter this week, as does every other form of communication technology – and it’s not a software problem. It isn’t even a hardware problem, unless you’re tempted to throw your cell phone, laptop, or other electronic device against the wall in a fit of frustration. We are in the midst of an astral static storm: Uranus goes Direct on December 5 and Mercury goes Retrograde on December 10. As Uranus accelerates and Mercury decelerates, the choreography of daily life is certain to grow increasingly complex. Okay – crazy-making, which means for the next two weeks at least, you’ll want to take as many moments and deep breaths as possible. You have complete permission put your hands on your head and make the Edvard Munch “Scream” face. It is a techno-nightmare. But don’t get lost in unnecessary anxiety; we been through much more difficult planetary patterns (all of 2010) and lived to tell about it. Remembering the spirit of the season is the best way to handle the various breakdowns – animate or inanimate. Do your best to be of good cheer, and your good attitude will have a positive influence.

Uranus Direct tends to have a dramatic effect. People often complain about not being able to sleep or that vivid dreams make it impossible to really rest. Either way, you wake up tired. Several days prior to the “turn around” as well as several days after its forward motion commences, Uranus will “pivot” on the same degree. That rotation has a peculiar signature, which manifests as an uncertain or uneven rhythm. Regular routines unfold at an erratic pace. One moment the world seems as if it is whirring by and the next, the seconds feel as if they are trapped in slow motion, both movement and sound distorted by the warp.

Just as Uranus Direct gains momentum, Mercury Retrograde kicks into gear. And while they do not collide, attempts to mesh the Uranian “full speed ahead, Lt. Sulu” with the Mercurial “slo-mo rewind” could result in psychic whiplash. Mercury Retrograde doesn’t begin until the morning of December 10, but we will start to feel its effects by Monday or Tuesday. For those of you new to Mercury Retrograde (or who scoff at the idea of such a thing), here’s the skinny: Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication and travel, which means that when Mercury appears to be moving “backwards” (which we know is impossible) many things related to communication and travel seem to go backward with it (which we know from experience is completely probable). So back up your hard drive, now, while the “backing” is good. Pay your parking tickets. Buy your holiday electronics early. And expect the normal year-end review to be even more detailed than it normally is.

Both Mercury and Uranus have dominion over the technological cosmos and when their “normal” patterns are disturbed, so are their subjects. But don’t throw that printer out just yet. Give the universe of ones and zeros a chance to find its stride before you dispose of something you might need later. I could end this week’s column with “be kind to your machines,” but you might think I was taking that compassion thing just a little too far. Isaac Asimov wouldn’t.


November 24, 2010

The week is a complex puzzle of planetary contradictions so don’t be dismayed if you feel confused or perplexed about where to spend your time and energy. The planets are almost as busy as they were last week, which means we are too. But because many of us are feeling stretched beyond our capacity, interpersonal interactions could tend towards cranky, especially as intentions collide with reality. Anticipate your Thanksgiving feast to be steeped in gratitude, but also be prepared for unresolved family dynamics to result in physical as well as emotional indigestion. Also expect a deep need for quiet time to clash with an equally deep desire to participate in seasonal libations. The winter solstice is only four weeks away and as the Sun “stands still” the days, here in the Northern Hemisphere, grow darker, beckoning us toward deeply internal processes. But there is a hitch. The festivals of lights meant to celebrate the solstice make living “la vida introspectiva” impossible. Who wants to sit in the dark when you can sing and dance the dark away? It won’t be easy putting the pieces of your daily life into a picture that includes these conflicting inclinations, but if you make “moderation” your mantra, you’ll find a way to make the contradictions work.

The cranky factor stems from a square between the Mercury/Mars conjunction, still operative from last week, and the ongoing Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. No longer tethered by Saturn, the Mercury/ Mars conjunction is free to move wherever it chooses. Unfortunately, because Mercury can move between heaven and hell in the blink of the mind’s eye, when it combines with Mars, minds tend to be pulled in too many directions at once. You’ll need to actively work on staying focused on the tasks at hand. This conjunction already affects nervous systems, and when you add a square to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, you got a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on. Don’t be surprised if already disturbed sleep patterns are even more disturbed. This entire bundle can be quite creative and that creativity can be put to good use devising innovative solutions to previously unsolvable situations. But this bundle can also fuel quick decisions and impulsive behavior made on the basis of a quick flash of intuition, rather than on a thoughtful, deliberate process that considers the consequences. Of course, while the flashy answer may be correct, you will still need a grounded, thorough plan to implement that brilliance.

Many of us will be sitting down at the Thanksgiving table spiritually and psychically depleted from coping with 2010’s enormous waves of change. Some of us will be exhausted from helping those in need and others will be worn out from needing help. Despite our differing roles, we are all traveling through this experience of life together, and when we allow ourselves to be aware of what unites us rather than what divides, the mostly invisible threads that weave us together are suddenly apparent. I can’t honestly say I am thankful for what separates us. But I am thankful for what heals that separation and allows us to be as one.

November 17, 2010

A wide range of earthly activities mirrors a broad span of planetary interaction this week. When the planets are busy, daily life hums with the hustle and bustle of worldly pursuits. And because so much is happening at once, you can expect to feel as if the days aren’t quite long enough to do all you want to do and the nights are just a little too short to get the sleep you crave and need. This is not the manic flow of “all or nothing.” Life is simply hectic. The best way to avoid getting overexcited is to find a comfortable personal pace that allows you to stay focused on what needs to be accomplished but also allows you to maintain your peace of mind.

Here’s the long list of astral interactions: (1) Both Venus and Jupiter end retrograde phases on Thursday. As Jupiter, retrograde since July 23, goes Direct you can expect to feel a rush of enthusiasm about plans and projects that might have been lying fallow for the last couple of months. Jupiter will spend the next two months finishing its journey through Pisces, which began in January of this year. Notice if there is anything you put into motion around that time that still needs to be brought to completion. (2) As Venus, retrograde since October 8, goes Direct, many of us will be focusing our attention on love, beauty, and money. Some will channel this Direct motion into self-care of every variety. Others will start to prepare for the holidays. A word of caution: Venus and Jupiter both stimulate spending. The good news is that they both also stimulate creativity. So rather than spend what you don’t have (actually, does anybody still do that?), focus on channeling the energies of these two positive forces into fresh ideas for seasonal festivities based on the spiritual and symbolic significance of the holidays rather than what has become the modern material meaning.

 (3) The Mars/Mercury conjunction, in Sagittarius, continues to stimulate nervous systems. Just like last week, a sextile from Saturn dials down the anxiety just a tad, but not completely, especially when it comes to conversations and discussions about the future. While I adore everything Sagittarius, this loquacious Sign is infamous for saying more than is needed, and when that tendency is channeled through a Mercury/Mars conjunction, which is already given to rash repartee, anything and everything is likely to be said. Think before you speak whenever possible.
(4) The Sun continues to square Neptune, causing moods to be deeply sensitive, a condition that might be true this time of year regardless of what the planets are doing, given the darkening days. (5) But the good news continues to be a trine between the Sun and the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. This combination feeds the need to break free from whatever enslaves and holds us hostage to stagnation. Translation: Expect a need for independence, personal and collective, to motivate a wide variety of choices.

Often, when life gets too busy, it can feel as if we are moving in a dream, able only to move from task to task and unable to feel an emotional connection to what’s occurring. So as the week unfolds, do your best to stay present. As always, include your fellow travelers in that awareness. A thoughtful word, a kind touch, or a compassionate gesture will go along way to ease the stress and strain of an overloaded schedule.

November 10, 2010

Planetary crosscurrents ripple across the waters of daily life this week, and as these waves pulse through regular routines, emotional bodies, personal as well as collective, are likely to respond with increased sensitivity. Put simply: The ethers are edgy. And as nervous systems strain to tolerate the anxious atmosphere, quick reactions are probable. Expect lots of people, including yourself, to lean toward inappropriate responses, as in “too little, too late” or “too much, too soon.” Also anticipate many declarations of independence, as many of us decide it’s time to break free from the ties that bind us to the mundane, or to whatever it is we think is holding us back – from something we can’t quite name. The good news is that there is enough goodwill to soothe the intensity. So should you find yourself adrift on a sea of conflicting agendas or demands, you’re likely to find a fellow traveler to help ease the confusion.

Several planetary interactions combine to produce tension. First, a Mercury/Mars conjunction, in Sagittarius, dials nervous irritation beyond the beyond, and that inflammation is certain to cause more than a few confrontations over major and minor issues. Mercury represents the mind, which we know moves between heaven and hell in the blink of an eye. Mars signifies movement, particularly physical action, and when it shares the same space with Mercury, Mars turns antsy for action, as in something’s got to give – and that something usually shows itself as rash choices, choices we tend to regret after the glow of activity has dimmed. Fortunately, Saturn sextiles the Mercury/Mars conjunction, providing the potential to slow the pace of this otherwise hasty influence, but be careful not to let Saturn’s presence turn into a stubborn refusal to consider the ideas of others.

A Sun/Neptune square adds to the sensitivity of the week, as it supplies the potential to be far too susceptible to suggestion. Continue to rely on your intuition, but be aware, some of what you’re picking up on is likely to be distorted by the already anxious air.

The surge for independence is symbolized by the Sun’s trine to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. We love this positive interaction first because it lifts spirits and second … because it lifts spirits. Jupiter/Uranus is the signature for sudden shifts in destiny, and when that positive force combines with the light of the Sun, it’s possible to embrace an expansive optimistic perspective that won’t take “no” for an answer. Just know: The fanatic Zealot is the often the shadow of this powerful influence, so do your best to respect or at least try to understand the opinions of others. This trine will last until the end of the month, which means there is plenty of time to bask in its constructive influence.

But the best news about this Sun/Jupiter/Uranus trine is that it encourages humor, and laughter is the best medicine for the heart. Even if it’s gallows humor, find the funny, the silly, and the hilarious, and allow that joy to buoy your mood as well as your attitude.

November 3, 2010

I’m writing this column a week before the morning after, which means I have no idea what the outcome of the mid-term elections will be and no idea what the general mood is other than knowing that one side is happy. What I do know is that no matter who the victor may be, we still have to live and work together, despite our polarized points of view. We are still in the wake of the last two years of the Saturn/Uranus opposition, and the power of its effect is still disturbing political, economic, and cultural attitudes. Again, no matter who wins our ability to work toward common goals has never been more needed and has never depended less upon a specific leader or political agenda. Yes, the party in power has the clout, but the influence of special interests on both sides of the isle has been so abused that it’s only a matter of time before those interests disintegrate under the weight of their own mendacious intent. The people will always have the power to bring change, and advanced Pollyannaism aside, it’s only a matter of time until we learn to use it for our common good.

And speaking of Pollyanna, there is good planetary news to report this week. Mercury trines the ongoing Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, stimulating shrewd intuition and inventive thinking. Translation: Expect snappy, smart repartee, as well as a clear grasp of what is needed to move forward from both a personal and collective perspective. This positive Mercury/Jupiter/Uranus bundle can be put to good use formulating long-term plans and strategies for handling a variety of circumstances, especially situations that always seem to shift on a moment’s notice. At the same time, because Uranus has everything to do with nervous systems, this bundle also affects sleep patterns, so don’t be surprised if you’re normal sleep needs fluctuate. What’s more, this bundle is so highly charged, there is also the distinct possibility of confusing excitement for anxiety or anxiety for excitement. Although it won’t be easy, try getting grounded and staying that way before you make impulsive moves you might later regret.

Late in the day on Sunday, November 7, Venus, retrograde since October 8, moves back into the Sign of Libra. As Venus revisits and, for the next several weeks, lingers on the degrees it occupied from September 5 through 8, we will revisit and linger on themes set in motion at that time, especially relationship and financial issues. As trying as some of this retrograde may be, it’s always a good idea to reflect and refine.

The ancient Mesopotamians believed that planetary motion conveyed messages from the gods, and that if those messages could be deciphered accurately, the king would live in attunement with the divine and all would prosper. At the risk of condensing hundreds of factors and thousands of years astrology eventually became a democracy. The sky belongs to everyone. Maybe it’s time to agree that the Earth belongs to all of us as well.

October 27, 2010

A peculiar celestial quiet underlies the drama of daily life this week. It’s almost as if the planets are holding their breath, waiting to see what will happen next. Don’t misunderstand. The planets aren’t paused in their orbits; they’re just not as busy as they usually are and oddly, that absence of activity has its own presence. Most of us, here on Earth will probably be too busy to notice this silence, especially in America, where the constant blare of political ads and the resultant psychic fatigue from the barrage of negativity is sure to obliterate every iota of subtle awareness. Of course, the Moon will continue to stir emotional bodies as it cycles into contact with its cohorts, which means strong feelings and reactions will still punctuate personal and professional interactions. But two prime planetary movers – Mars (even with its entry into Sagittarius on October 28) and Saturn – are pretty much on the bench, an anomalous position for them to occupy during such an important political moment. Mars makes things move. Saturn organizes that movement. And their inactive presence could manifest as a lack of cohesion. Try not to let this strange signature make you apathetic. Every vote is a voice, and we will be living with the consequences of our combined voices, no matter how discordant, for a long time.

The current American election occurs exactly two years since the first exact Saturn/Uranus opposition on Election Day in November 2008. While the last two years of Saturn/Uranus oppositions (there were four more exact contacts during those two years) signified the dissolution of the status quo, that initial contact, characterized by the election of the first black president of the United States, set in motion a tsunami of change. One way to see the results of this year’s mid-term election – whatever those results might be – is to understand it not only as a reaction to the last two years of turmoil, but also as a reaction to a deeper, inexorable current of change, a current that became undeniable with the election of President Obama. The effect of this Saturn/Uranus opposition is a shift in the paradigm of authority, and we are not returning to the old model no matter how many conservatives win in local campaigns. Just as the last Saturn/Uranus cycle in the Sixties changed the world, forever, so has the current cycle.

Yet one of the very real dangers we face now, as we did then, is not understanding just how deeply individuals have to change in order to integrate the new power paradigm. Serious soul work is required to shift away from the hierarchy and polarization of unbridled capitalism toward an egalitarian system of inclusion that encompasses the needs of the one as well as the needs of the many. This work must recognize, accept, and act on the knowledge that we are all interconnected and interdependent. No one, no matter how far off the grid, lives in isolation any longer.

Apathy poses another danger to progress. Indifference will only forestall transformation. Resistance is truly futile. The new paradigm is already in motion. All apathy will do is lessen the pace of change. So this week, don’t hold your breath and wait to see what happens. Participate. Make your voice heard – vote.

October 20, 2010

Conflict and confrontation could ruin an otherwise perfectly aligned week, so choose your battles wisely, especially when those arguments involve authority figures. (Okay, maybe “perfectly” is a slight exaggeration, but the planets are forming positive patterns, and after so many months of reporting the bad news, I’m taking poetic liberties in describing what’s good.) Huge reservoirs of energy are the main component of the current astral tableau, and that energy can be spent bickering and quarreling or it can be harnessed to the determination and discipline to accomplish certain tasks. Avoiding angry drama sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But it won’t be all that easy to steer clear of discord, particularly if you or your opponent is programmed to blow off steam through a “good” fight. I’m not saying that a good fight isn’t sometimes necessary to clear the air. But this week, the underlying motivation to duke it out might have more to do with excess energy than a meaningful dispute over serious matters. Pay close attention to your intentions, and when possible, apply the vitality of the week to positive progress toward your desired goal, even if that goal is sitting quietly in front of your television watching reruns of Lost (yes—I am in mourning for the island; I even miss Ben.) or any other series that allows your imagination to run free.

Mars is this week’s energy source, both negative and positive. Currently in Scorpio, its former Home Sign (Pluto, the non-planet, replaced it as the ruler of Scorpio.), Mars is forming a trine to the ongoing Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, in Pisces. (We’ve been in this trine since the weekend.) Mars symbolizes energy, particularly the energy of the body. Jupiter represents expansion and excess. Uranus also signifies energy, specifically forces that catalyze change. As Mars trines the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, it activates a desire for freedom, as well as the will power to “make it so.” Use this powerful alliance to tackle big plans and projects. Envision what you want to achieve and then get busy doing whatever is necessary to meet that goal. Mars is also in a square to Neptune, a configuration that normally indicates a state of paralysis. But given the power of the trine to the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, the inability to move shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Sometimes Mars likes to blow off steam as a way of flexing its muscle, which is why you might be tempted to spend some of this week’s prodigious energy in battle. Although anger is an appropriate response in certain situations, anger for its own sake tends to have lasting negative consequences. Rather than rant, find healthy ways of spending your excess energy. Don’t punish someone you love just because you don’t know what else to do. No one enjoys being the brunt of resentment. And just about everyone responds well to kindness and concern.

October 13, 2010
A window of astral inspiration opens this week, clearing recent clouds of intensity (if only for a moment) and offering opportunities to actually see the men and women behind the curtain. Pay attention: This is a powerful chance to appreciate the power of an idea, particularly when that idea is married to a media blitz of indelible images. It is also a chance to witness just how deeply personal desire determines what’s seen and heard, especially these days when so many unconscious or semi-conscious predilections are being preyed upon. From a personal perspective, it’s akin to walking through a house of mirrors where the distorted reflections reveal just how deeply unresolved relationship issues (of every variety) actually affect reactions and decisions. From a collective perspective, the political rhetoric, coupled with 24/7 ad campaigns (mostly focused on character assassination rather than the issues) is also akin to a house of mirrors, only in this dimension the distortions have the potential to reveal strategies designed to manipulate viewers. A clear-headed keen intelligence is required to side-step the trap of projection so that you can take advantage of the genuine inspiration available during the week.

A Sun/Neptune trine is the source of this week’s fantasy factor. Known in some astrological circles as the destroyer of illusion, Neptune symbolizes imagination, sensitivity, receptivity, projection, illusion, delusion, deceit, the urge to merge, and all states of altered consciousness. It’s a mighty force, and given that our perceptions are largely based on psychological and emotional factors rather than just the facts, it takes skill to wield its force skillfully. When Neptune aligns positively with the Sun, sympathy and empathy abound, which means you can expect more than a fair share of bonding with your fellow travelers. This trine also intensifies the desire for spiritual nourishment, so don’t be surprised if you are inspired to search for a deeper understanding of your existing path, or find yourself searching for new ways of recognizing the sacred in daily life.

It’s a Sun/Mercury conjunction, with Mercury also in a trine to Neptune that blurs the lines between fact and fiction and generates distortion. This conjunction leans toward a subjective perspective and the inability to assess the facts on their own. Under this influence, personal opinion is often misconstrued as truth. Mercury is often characterized as a trickster, and when it combines with Neptune, already slippery with the potential for deception, the blarney flows effortlessly. Couple that with a subjective mindset and we run the risk of being seduced by what we want to hear without bothering to listen to what’s really being said.

While the possibilities for inspiration are truly stellar, the probability of either being deceived or deceiving one’s self is off the charts. Of course, common sense always wards off tricksters, so do your best to stay grounded. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

October 6, 2010
There are only two really important pieces of astrological information this week: (1) The tough planetary patterns persist, which means daily life continues to unfold with the same intensity; and (2) Venus begins a nearly six-week retrograde on October 8, which means that intensity includes a relationship retrospective, as well as a review related to values, financial as well as spiritual. There is one other important event: October 9 is John Lennon’s seventieth birthday, and because Venus goes retrograde in an opposition to his Saturn/Jupiter conjunction, I’ve decided to write about him (How’s that for a rationalization?). In times like these, I miss John Lennon. I wrote those words in this column in 1998, and sadly they are still true.

Recently, I sat with 5,000 people in Radio City listening to a Fab Faux tribute to John Lennon. For nearly three hours, all of us sang along to as many songs as the band could cram into the night, and our spirits soared as we were reminded of a time you could sing of love and not have to apologize for it. Since that night, I’ve been wondering what happened to us over the last forty-something years? When did we become a culture of hate, snide and cynical about the lives of our fellow humans? When exactly did we stop caring about each other? And if we haven’t stopped caring, when did we decide to become the quiet majority? Is it Prozac or forty years of smoking pot? Or the numbing succession of one tragedy after another, tragedies so shocking and unspeakable that we have become blunted to injustice, and as a way of coping with the constant turmoil look only to keep ourselves safe and secure. The awareness that we are all in this together triggered only by events so sweeping – a tsunami or an earthquake – they cannot be denied.

I know John Lennon would have noticed that we’ve gone quiet. “The fundamentalist have stolen God,” he would have shouted. And then he would have stolen God right back with exquisite poetry (“Imagine there’s no heaven”) or pointed diatribe (“Expert textpert choking smoker”) or simply “goo goo g’joob.”

What would he make of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Hate crimes? The slave trade? How would he deal with the degradation of women, especially through music? Would he remind us that we are all degraded by it? Would he weep for the loss of music as an expression of the soul? “I just had to let it go,” he wrote before we started worshipping dogmatically at the altar of celebrity.

Derek Taylor once said the Beatles engaged with the noblest part of the human spirit, the part that yearns for things to be better. And that’s why I continue to miss John Lennon, and miss him more than ever. In my dream, his voice would cut through the Gordian knot of futility and confusion about how to heal our personal and planetary condition, and cut through with enough power inspire others to do the same.

So many of us thought President Obama would deliver that kind of inspiration. I’m not willing to abandon President Obama or the hope that elected him. He isn’t John Lennon. And he doesn’t need to be. We do, though. We need to say “yes” to positive solutions, engage the noblest part of our spirit, and not be afraid of being dreamers. Angry voices that only polarize are not the answer. I don’t want screamers making life and death decisions. I want dreamers making those choices, dreamers that can imagine a better world for all of us. Isn’t it time for the broken hearted people living in the world to finally agree?

September 29, 2010
The planets continue to generate powerful emotional tides, this week, and the ebb and flow of daily life continues to mimic that persistent intensity. We are still under the influence of the Jupiter/Saturn/Uranus/Pluto combination, which means we are still working our way through the aftermath of a slew of shift -- the actual contact has ended, but the consequences linger on and on and on. The main reason for this prolonged after-effect, is that while the planets challenged the status quo and dissolved fundamental societal structures, we have yet to figure out how to make the necessary adjustments and replace what has fallen apart. We are in the midst of a profound polarization and angry voices can be heard on both sides of the spectrum. And that’s also a problem, because the rhetoric of the extremes seems to block out the genuine concern of those of us in the middle to find innovative, creative solutions to our very pressing problems. Sometimes it feels as if the crazy people are taking over, and at other times it seems as if apathy has supplanted activism as a remedy for what ails. What seems to be lacking is a clear vision of how we can work together to find solutions that will benefit all of us. Each of us needs a home, food that nurtures, an education, and a healthy body, mind, and heart if we are to survive.

Individual situations aren’t that much different from the collective picture. Emotional bodies of every denomination are struggling to make sense of what has changed and what hasn’t. In some cases, where change has stalled, frustration fuels a desire to make dramatic decisions – but those gestures, while satisfying in the moment, could lead to extremes you might later regret. The best way through is to breathe before you take any action, and then, to breathe again just to make sure you’re willing to live with the consequences.

Mercury stirs the pot this week, as it reactivates all the significant degrees Saturn activated last week, by opposing the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, squaring Pluto, and (by the end of next week) forming a conjunction with Saturn. Because Mercury symbolizes communication, conversations as well as negotiations may seem slightly edgy, especially if they relate to recent history. Again, breathe before you speak.

As you move through the week, align with Mercury and use your mind – first to recognize the difference between fact and fiction, and second to contemplate how your personal choices can make a positive contribution. Remember, the past creates the present as the present creates the future, which is why conscious choices have the power to effect true transformation.

September 22, 2010
I was hoping the autumn equinox of September 22 would usher in a new astral air. But unfortunately, as the Sun moves into Libra, signaling the start of a new season, emotional bodies continue to reverberate with the effects of the unrelenting upheaval of the last five months. Frankly, I can’t figure out whether we are riding this giant wave of change or caught in its undertow. Either way, for many of us, even those not directly affected by specific events, daily life continues to unfold with an insistent intensity. That’s particularly true this week, as the Sun illuminates the same degrees of the Zodiac Saturn occupied from April through August. And while the Sun has been covering this ground for the last several days and continues to stimulate these points until Sunday, on the equinox itself, the Moon joins the Sun, amplifying the emotional effect of the entire seasonal passage. This solar and lunar event is likely to perpetuate a peculiar personal retrograde, which means that even if you think you’ve solved the problem and put your house in order, think again, and be prepared to revisit the same situation. Be aware, while this repetition may be painful, it also offers profound opportunities to gain a greater awareness of what motivated your decisions, as well as actions, during those pivotal months.

As the Sun transits the early degrees of Libra, it forms two significant relationships. First, it squares Pluto until the end of the month. Sun/Pluto squares are always about power issues, especially the desire for control. Try to notice where you are insisting on your way regardless of the feelings and concerns of others. In the midst of this difficult interaction, the Sun moves into a conjunction with Saturn, which is exact on September 30 but persists until October 7. This conjunction often manifests as loss and separation, or an oppressive sense of responsibility that inhibits spontaneity. Sun/Saturn also feeds the need to isolate or withdraw as an antidote to struggle. The entire bundle is problematic, especially when you consider that the primary reality of this week as well as the next several weeks involves dealing with the consequences of the last five months of shift. On the positive end of the spectrum, the combination of the Sun, Saturn, and Pluto can support the determination to do whatever it takes to persevere and get the job done. So rather than devolve into despair that your situation will never change, use this energy to do whatever it takes to facilitate a transformation.

Seasonal transitions often stir the soul and make the spirit restless, but this year the transition from summer to fall may actually be quite poignant, given the levels of intensity many of us are experiencing. So as you move through the week, be kind to yourself and to your fellow travelers. Even if you can’t imagine it to be true, most of us are simply doing the best we can.

September 15, 2010
Powerful planetary alignments foster undeniable urges to break free from restraints and constraints, real or imagined, and the combined astral intensity turns this week of seasonal transition into yet another week of shift, personal as well as collective. Be ready for rebellion, yours or others’, as tolerance levels reach super-saturation points and acceptance becomes a thing of the past. From a political perspective, it just might be that the quiet majority, no longer able to endure rants born of displaced entitlement, is finally motivated to counter specious fiction with fact. (When Dylan wrote, “The first one now will later be last.” I think he forgot to mention that as the “firsts” fell to the bottom they would bludgeon the rest of us to death with self-righteous laments and rancorous resistance to their new status.) From a personal point of view, emotions, long held at bay, are likely to burst forth with volcanic velocity, causing a lava flow of complaints and accusations, expected or unexpected. On the other hand, we’re out of slog of Mercury Retrograde, which means we’ve entered a steady pattern of forward motion that does not include computer, cell phone or car disasters. And for those pursuing specific goals, the planets also support the determination and stamina to get the job done.

The source of this week’s “live free or die” stance is an opposition between the Sun and the ongoing Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. Typically, a Sun/Uranus opposition stimulates the need to shed the shackles of whatever enslaves – an ideology, an old emotional pattern, or a dysfunctional relationship. Given that this opposition carries the signature of the last five months of astral intensity, the “oppressor” is more likely to be a stagnant system rather than an actual individual. Use this Sun/Jupiter/Uranus opposition to identify the systems that bind you to behavior that is no longer congruent with your current consciousness. Be aware, the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction is associated with sudden and startling twists of fate best described as “serendipitous interventions.” Also be aware, this need for revolution is as much internal as external; inner bullies are often as cruel as the schoolyard ones.

The best advice I can offer this week is to avoid rebellion based on the need, conscious or unconscious, to feel superior to your tormentor. Instead, do your best to understand how each of us participates in the shared suffering. That awareness may take the wind out of any self-righteous sails, but it will also simultaneously create the possibility of compassion. Don’t misunderstand: revolution is an essential component of transformation. And sometimes the only way to truly break free is to push through. But a true revolution of the heart produces compassion, and compassion creates an expansive healing field that allows authentic freedom for all.

September 8, 2010
Finding a consistent personal pace this week won’t be easy. Several planets are changing position as two others change direction, and the combined effect of their activity is likely to manifest as excessive interruptions and disjointed routines. It’s not that progress isn’t possible. It’s just irregular. Think “two steps forward and one step back” and you’ll get a handle on the odd rhythm. Be prepared to make on-the-spot adjustments – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual – as shifting moods and attitudes produce powerful riptides that could pull you off course if you’re clinging too rigidly to a specific perspective. The good news is that none of the current planetary activity carries a pernicious signature. But because transitions are often awkward, some of us could be distressed, disturbed, and discombobulated by the change in astral weather.

Here’s the deal: Both Mercury and Pluto go direct this week. Mercury, retrograde since August 20, “turns around” on September 12, which will alleviate the stress of gazillions of communication and travel snafus. Just don’t expect miracles on Monday. It will take several days for Mercury to gain forward momentum. But by the middle of the week, the retrograde delays and detours should be behind us.

On September 14, early in the morning Eastern Daylight Time (September 13 PDT), Pluto also goes direct. Retrograde since April 6, and as Pluto makes its “course correction”, it will plough through six months of previously covered ground. Although the effect of Pluto Direct tends to be less obvious than Mercury’s, Pluto’s presence should never be underestimated. Just ask those individuals born in the early phase of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn how life has been unfolding for the last two years – and then be prepared to listen to a litany of transformational “opportunities.” Remember, Pluto seeks authenticity, and by that I mean it invites us to explore what lies beneath. Responding to that invitation usually means plumbing the depths of our emotional and psychological worlds with the intention of discovering hidden, often unconscious patterns that have a profound effect on conscious choices.

Venus enters Scorpio on September 8, followed quickly by Mars on September 14. As most of us know from all sorts of non-astrological sources, Venus and Mars represent the female and male principle, and when they travel together, as they have since the middle of August, they stimulate sexual and sensual impulses. Couple those urges with the decidedly erotic signature of Scorpio and many of us may find ourselves in passion’s inexorable pull.

Jupiter retrogrades back into Pisces on September 9, forming a tight conjunction with Uranus (not that they’ve been very far apart). Jupiter’s move back into Pisces is sure to trigger an almost constant state of déjà vu, but that doesn’t mean your mantra has to become “same as it ever was.” The facts of the situation may be the same, but your response may have shifted over the last several months, and that could make a world of difference.

September 1, 2010
This week, we are betwixt and between, caught in a not-quite-here-not- quite-there planetary pattern that unravels regular routines. Five planets are retrograde (six, if you count Chiron), which means no matter how determined you may be to make forward progress the actual pace of daily life will be glacial. Expect frustration to erupt over all sorts of situations, large or small. Also anticipate previously solid ground to be less reliable, a condition that could turn attitudes about the future even more uncertain and confused. But that’s not all. We are also at the end of a long hot summer – or a cool one, depending on where you are – made all the worse by a simultaneous season of unrelenting astral intensity. And while most of us tend to be wistful about the end of summer, this year you may find yourself wishing it were over – the summer of our discontent behind us, and the glorious days of fall offering the promise of relief. But we’re not there yet.

Currently, we are still in the throes of Mercury Retrograde, which continues until September 12. (Though it ends so late in the day, it might be best to consider September 13 the final day. And if you include the three-day rule as Mercury “turns around” and gathers momentum, it would be best to wait until September 16.) Because Mercury drives the mechanics of daily life – communication and travel – its retrograde phase is never a good time to initiate new plans or projects, and always a good time to review what’s already in motion.

Jupiter retrogrades back into Pisces on September 9, where it will stay until January 22. As Jupiter moves back into Pisces, it conjuncts Uranus, also retrograde in Pisces. (Their conjunction is exact on September 18.) Jupiter/Uranus contacts are believed to be beneficial, even if the immediate benefit isn’t completely obvious. For instance, this conjunction could precipitate the move out of a relationship you don’t think you’re ready to leave, only to discover that its dissolution has set you free. Or, it could unexpectedly remove obstacles you once deemed insurmountable, and replace them with a clear path toward your goal. Another possible expression of a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, in Pisces, is a deep experience of divine guidance and an unmistakable sense of serendipity. Of course, not every manifestation will be momentous; for some, this conjunction could be simply a long relaxed exhale that puts you back in your body, feet firmly planted on the ground. But for even more, those feet could land in deep emotional waters, revisiting recent decisions and reexamining the consequences of those choices.

Don’t be dismayed if you have a hard time staying in present time this week and next. The “gravitational” pull of so many planets moving behind instead of ahead is likely to pull hearts and minds back to the not-so-distant past. Rather than resist this tendency, use it to your advantage, by having the courage to look at what the summer brought to the surface. Retrogrades are about opportunities to reconsider previous choices, as well as to refine prior decisions. Go over the facts, but also reflect on your emotional reactions to certain situations. There’s no need to take any unnecessary action. This is simply an opportunity to think about all that’s been set in motion.

August 25, 2010
The biggest and best news of the week: The Saturn/Uranus opposition, which began in the fall of 2008, is finally over. The no-so-good news is that we are going to be dealing with the consequences of its polarizing effect for quite some time. The not-so-good-but-not-so-bad news is that we are currently under the thumb of Mercury Retrograde, which we will be dealing with until September 12. As I wrote last week, compared to the unrelenting intensity of Saturn/Uranus, the communication and travel snafus of a retrograde won’t seem quite as overwhelming, which is why my instinct is to relax into Mercury Retrograde and take a break from probing the secrets of the stars. But my intuition tells me it’s important to use the retrospective lens of the retrograde to review recent events with an eye toward gaining some perspective on what nearly two years of Saturn/Uranus oppositions have wrought, especially the last five months. The sooner we start to understand and integrate the changes that have occurred, the easier it will be to apply what we’ve learned.

When the current series of Saturn/Uranus oppositions began in October 2008, we lived in a different world. Saturn/Uranus oppositions signify the dissolution of the status quo, and certainly there is no need to reiterate just how much of the status quo dissolved over the last two years. When the financial foundation of the world revealed itself to be an illusion, the security of daily life evaporated before our eyes. The material effect is obvious, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual decompensation is not as evident; over the course of the next nine to twelve months we will be integrating the profound effect of the last two years of shift. Few of us are prepared to handle the demise of the structures and systems that organize daily life, and our response to the aftermath could resemble the stages of grief. It may take a long time to not only find solid ground, but also to find our orientation on it.

During the last five months of the final opposition, Jupiter joined the team, amplifying and magnifying the disappearance of familiar landscapes, and the oil spill in the Gulf came to symbolize so many of the problems we are facing as individuals, as a nation, and as a planet. Our inability to handle our greed as well as our need has never been as clear.

The most dire consequence of all is a pernicious polarization that seems to have infected almost every aspect of life. It’s broadcast daily through the hate-mongering talk shows bent on exploiting fear and ignorance. It’s apparent in Congress, as week after week stubborn ideology overrides efforts toward a common good and decency. Division is more alluring than unity. Blame, more attractive than practical solutions to unprecedented problems. When so much negativity crowds the ethers, it’s hard to believe in anything or anyone. This is the worst consequence of all – losing hope that we will ever again be able to work together, despite our differences, to find solutions to our very real problems.

If we are to move forward through the next several years, which by the way, from an astrological perspective are more intense than what we’ve just been through, we will need to find ways to heal the poison of this polarization. The world changes one heart at a time. If we all continue to work for positive, compassionate, and inclusive change, we will eventually restore our sanity.

August 18, 2010
I never thought I would ever write “Oh boy…I’m so glad it’s Mercury Retrograde,” but I’m so thankful to have a break from writing about the unrelenting intensity of the Saturn/Uranus/Pluto astral weather system that while I’m not actually looking forward to the reality of Mercury Retrograde, I am really happy to be writing about it. I’m also guessing you’re probably glad to be reading about something other than pernicious Cardinal Crosses and T-Squares. Don’t misunderstand; we still have to get through the final Saturn/Pluto square on August 21. But the good news is for the next several weeks, we get to blame everything – even things unrelated to Mercury – on the retrograde. And that is a very special form of psychic relief.

For those of you new to Mercury Retrograde, here’s the deal: Several times a year (mostly three, but sometimes four) Mercury appears, relative to Earth’s orbit around the Sun, as if it is moving backwards in the night sky. According to astrological wisdom, as Mercury seemingly retraces its path, we definitely retrace ours, revisiting plans already in motion, which is why Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to start anything new. Mercury represents all things related to communication, and during a retrograde, all forms of regularly reliable systems tend to develop a life of their own. Expect problems with cell phones, networks, software, contracts, shipping, and messengers. Mercury also includes travel and traffic within its vast domain, which means airport hassles are probable. Anticipate long waits and even longer bouts of frustration. Nothing moves quickly under Mercury Retrograde, except tempers.

Mercury will be retrograde from August 20 through September 12, but remember, there is that three-day rule before and after a retrograde phase that warns against initiating new endeavors. The best use of any Mercury Retrograde is a thoughtful contemplation of recent history, and during this retrograde, the focus is on activities started at the end of July.

The final square between Saturn and Pluto, exact on August 21, is sure to deliver a wallop, given that we don’t feel the full brunt of a hard aspect until it separates. This fractious interaction can be best understood as part of a victim/victimizer power dance, where a negative symbiosis holds each player hostage to self-destructive energy. Do your best to break free from whatever has enslaved you to harsh or cruel behavior.

Mercury Retrograde snafus can easily turn a small situation into a mountain of aggravation, and when you combine that tendency toward irritation with the potential for cruelty symbolized by the Saturn/Pluto square, the week is sure to inflame emotional bodies. So as always, do your best to be kind and compassionate to your fellow travelers, and make peace wherever you can.

August 11, 2010
The world may not have come to an end on July 26 with a single cinematic event reminiscent of a scene directed by Michael Bay, but there were enough micro-Armageddons to tilt plenty of personal worlds at a new angle to the Sun. And this week, as dynamic planetary patterns continue to generate an unsettled atmosphere, reactions to those personal pole shifts are likely to play out as a need to act out. Expect outbursts that at first glance seem disproportionate to the immediate or obvious cause, but at a second glance reveal deep anxiety about how to handle the current emotional disruption. While the worst of the astral weather is starting to recede (it won’t be over completely until mid-September), we are still in the wake of gigantic waves of change and that translates into continued uncertainty about the future. So if and when you encounter extreme emotional reactions, yours or others’, try to remember to breathe before you blurt. Other than the pleasure of blowing off steam, there’s no need to contribute to the agitation. We co-create the future with our every thought, word, and deed, and although we can’t control what is already set in motion, we can make every effort to neutralize negativity by staying positive and enthusiastic about the potential for conscious transformation.

Several factors contribute to this week’s disconcerting air. First, Uranus retrogrades back into Pisces on August 13, where it will stay until March 11, 2011. Its return to Pisces will dial down the heat of the moment just a tad – say from eleven to ten. But the planet of revolution continues to stay in close proximity to Jupiter, who also returns to Pisces on September 9, which means that startling plot twists will continue to confound even the best prepared. Be aware, as Uranus and Jupiter retrograde and revisit the events of the last several months, so will we. Don’t be surprised if you have a change of heart, but also understand, when Uranus moves back into Aries, you just might change your heart and mind, again.

Next, we are still in the throes of the final Saturn/Pluto square, which is exact on August 21. This signature symbolizes self-destruction, and the poisonous venom of harsh judgment that denies the humanity of another. At the risk of repeating myself, avoid pointing a blaming finger and instead, recognize that most of what we judge so severely in others is what we despise most in ourselves.

We are also in the approach to the next Mercury Retrograde phase, which begins on August 20 and ends on September 12. Mercury Retrograde is always about review and reflection, and because we have so much to think about, this retrograde ought to be quite revelatory. Be aware, three days before and after a retrograde are just as much of a problem as the retrograde itself, so back up all your data now.

As the week unfolds, do your best to manage the stress by focusing on what brings you joy, and while that may involve overcoming enormous obstacles, a joyous heart is a resilient heart.

August 4, 2010
Uncertainty consumes confidence this week, as pernicious planetary interactions continue to turn the routines of daily life into minefields of conflict and confrontation. And while I wish the sky had another story to tell, wishing it were different won’t make it so. We are in the midst of an insidious astrological pattern that just won’t quit – at least not until the beginning of September – and astral madness is taking its toll. Of course, we don’t need astrology to know which way the wind blows. All we have to do is watch the news. Either way – through the stars or through a screen – the problems we face, collective as well as personal, are apt to seem insurmountable. The Uranus/Saturn opposition, now in its final phase, revealed the putrid underbelly of so many corrupt systems that it’s hard to imagine there’s anything left to reveal. When you combine this plethora of collective revelation with an equally disturbing pattern of personal disclosure, the whole situation just seems overwhelming. Which is why this week, the tendency to blame anyone for everything is going to spike off the charts. Do your best to resist the temptation to point a punishing finger. Don’t kick the dog, throw your cell phone against the wall in frustration, or blame the unseen government that controls every aspect of life from a hidden bunker. And certainly, don’t blame the ETs.

Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto are all still aligned in a fractious interaction known as a T-Square, and the stress of their astral hostility heats emotional bodies to the boiling point, particularly Friday, as the Moon moves into Cancer and shifts the T-Square into a Cardinal Cross. Be aware, while getting angry may feel good in the moment, in the long run, it will only make matters worse. The solution to our woes won’t be found by blaming. And don’t substitute responsibility for blame and think you are fooling anyone. Life needs to settle down a tad before clarity will restore some balance and peace of mind. What we all need right now is love. Period. Okay maybe tough love in certain exceptional circumstances. While you may think the notion of love sounds silly, nothing else will really soothe the psychic and emotional storms that are already at hurricane force. And I’m not talking about inauthentic love that slathers forgiveness on a situation like Russian dressing. I’m talking about real love, the kind that recognizes and respects all sentient beings – even Republicans.

July 28, 2010
The planets continue to unlock key positions on the Wheel of Life this week, and as the karmic tumblers fall into place, daily life is punctuated by a series of cosmic clicks. For some of us this alignment translates into poignant “ah-has” that provoke a deep sense of being in the right place at the right time. For others, especially those whose lives are cluttered with superficial concerns, the possibility of opening locked situations exacerbates existing anxieties. For still more, the collective situation will continue to be something quite separate from personal life, an unfortunate perspective that’s likely to increase anxiety as well as confusion. Many more, keenly aware of just how accurately the current cultural milieu mirrors personal concerns, may be too aware, particularly if the possibility of transformation feels hopeless. With so much of our world in need of creative remedies, it’s easy to feel ineffectual and to fall into despair. But each of these planetary positions has the power to unlock a new point of view, and the entire planetary combination has the power to support radical changes in core beliefs. All that’s required to make the most of this moment is the humility to shift away from the tried and true, and instead to embrace a sense of adventure about a new approach, even if that system is still in the process of forming.

Here’s the planetary picture. Jupiter and Uranus are conjunct, in Aries. Saturn and Mars are conjunct, in Libra. With the exception of Jupiter, all of the planets occupy the zero degree point of Aries and Libra. Both conjunctions oppose one another. Pluto, at 3 degrees Capricorn, squares both sets of conjunctions, and is in an exact square with Jupiter, at 3 degrees Aries. (For those of you who want to draw this. Place Jupiter and Uranus at the 9 o’clock position, and Saturn and Mars at the 3 o’clock position. Next, put Pluto at 12 o’clock.)

Okay…those are the technical details. Oppositions and squares symbolize tension and stress, but squares are active angles, which means we should be prepared for all sorts of events to focus the intensity, and because Uranus is part of the picture, those events could be sudden and swift. Be aware, Pluto is the facilitator of these surprising plot twists, which means they are also not likely to be smooth or polite. When Mars, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto form pernicious interactions, violence is probable, and that violence is not limited to physical brutality; it also includes emotional, mental, and spiritual cruelty. For those of us committed to non-violence, coping with this aggressive astral air will require renewed determination to work for peace at every level, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Pernicious planetary interactions tend to intensify already destructive situations, which means we can expect increased violence in the Middle East, and in all other areas of the planet suffering from the extremes of war. We can also anticipate racial and gender tension to increase as well, not just in the United States, but also in other areas of the world where gender or the color of one’s skin can be used as a rationalization to deny one’s humanity.

As the week unfolds, do your best to make a positive contribution. When possible lend a helping hand, and as always, try to be kind.

July 21, 2010
The final Saturn/Uranus opposition on July 26 empowers extreme emotional entitlement, and as a stunning array of repressed feelings break free from the constraints of good manners and common sense, three lesser-known Disney Dwarfs – Frustration, Resentment, and Rage – refuse to stay in the shadows. Expect confrontations over power issues, particularly relationship power issues. And that includes alliances of every denomination. Also anticipate strong stands, yours or others’, as previous efforts toward conciliation dissolve in the heat of the moment. Even if you think you understand the causal level of the problem, think again. As these suppressed shadows let loose, they are likely to arrange themselves into a litany of complaints and injustices that date back to … well … the beginning of time. (Oy. My head hurts just thinking about it.) Because so much has been held in for so long, it will take discernment to differentiate between significant grievances and mean-spirited nit picking. Even those of us not under direct fire will find it difficult to cope with the intensity. As always, the best way through these waves of change is to put consciousness into practice. If there was ever a time to walk your spiritual talk, it would be now.

The source of this mighty polarization is the ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition. The previous exact contacts all occurred between Virgo and Pisces, Mutable Signs, Signs of compromise. Today, Saturn moves into Libra, and as it does, it shifts the opposition into Cardinal Signs, Signs of action. Saturn is the symbol of authority; Libra is the Sign of relating; Uranus represents independence; and oppositions signify opposing forces. The time for negotiation is over. Don’t be surprised if your inner soundtrack keeps looping through “I gotta be me. I gotta be free.”

I can hear some of you thinking, “So what else is new? Haven’t we been in this signature for what feels like forever?” Not quite. For the next few weeks, several additional planets ramp up the intensity. First, Pluto squares Saturn and Uranus. Pluto symbolizes death and rebirth; its concerns are ultimate and its presence demands authenticity. Translation: You won’t be able to pretend a relationship is working when it’s not.

Next, Jupiter opposes Saturn as it conjuncts Uranus. Jupiter amplifies the Uranian need for independence, turning it into an undeniable urge to “live free or die.” Before you revolt, notice if your oppressor is truly external. Remember the power of projection. You may actually be caught in an internal emotional pattern that’s never before seen the light of awareness.

Jupiter goes Retrograde on July 23, and as it seemingly turns around, it squares Pluto, stoking the desire for power. Be wary of gambling everything on the self-righteous certainty that God is on your side.

But that’s not all. This week, Mars, the Warrior archetype, joins the formation, as it conjuncts Saturn and opposes Uranus. Mars agitates the already agitated air, and over the next weeks, as it presses closer to Saturn, Uranus, Jupiter, and Pluto, it could turn the entire bundle belligerent.

It won’t be easy resisting the temptation to fight, and in some instances, taking a stand for what you believe will be the wisest choice, but only if you can maintain the broadest possible perspective, one that is inclusive, and one that recognizes no matter how polarized a situation might appear, we are all in this mess together.

July 14, 2010
Rumor and hearsay clog the psychic switchboard this week and next, as each day moves us closer to the fifth and final exact Saturn/Uranus opposition on July 26. And because the atmosphere is so crowded with situations in need of resolution, lots of people – not just astrologers – are making predictions about what’s gonna happen next. Whether you are positioned on the right or the left, the top or the bottom, with the believers or the non-believers, it’s likely you’re feeling as if something – anything – has got to give. The unrelenting intensity of recent months is coalescing into a communal Henny Penny moment: No matter what your perspective the sky is falling.

You can substitute the “stock market,” “home sales,” “health care,” “immigration,” “unemployment benefits,” “Obama,” “marriage,” or “job” for the bits of sky bumping your head, and conclude that we must be at the end; it’s simply a matter of time until everything completely falls apart. Of course, none of the prognosticators know exactly how much time we have, and forecasts run the gamut from now until December 2012 – and beyond. (I’m beginning to think of 2012 cosmophobia as the “Mayan Revenge.”) It also seems that “the end is at hand” or what I like to call the “Henny Penny Syndrome” has been around for quite some time. Back in 1945, Lightning Hopkins called it the “Henny Penny Blues” when he sang: They panic when they listen to the news. They think the sky is falling and we’re all about to die. Sixty-five years later, lots of us are still singing that song. And why not, given the ubiquitous debris from so much crumbling around us?

Just to be fair, we are in the midst of an enormous cycle of change. And the world will never be the same. So it’s not unreasonable to be anxious about everything, especially the future. The Saturn/Uranus opposition, in full force since October 2008, signifies the dissolution of the status quo. And when existing structures – banks, governments, or a sea as vast as the Gulf of Mexico – dissolve before our eyes, it’s hard to feel certain about anything. For those among us who still can’t adjust to the idea that the President of the United States is black, it must feel as if the very foundations of life are disintegrating daily. The new racial paradigm is simply too much to bear. If you couple that prejudice with the steady disintegration of education over the last several decades, it’s possible to glimpse why there is so much resistance to change. The epidemic of ignorance has been so pervasive and we have been living with it for so long, that it is only now, in the midst of crisis that we can witness its damaging effect. The challenges we face require a keen and penetrating intellect to solve the multidimensional puzzle of our current condition.

As the coming weeks unfold, rather than singing the “Henny Penny Blues” use your mind to sift through the barrage of predictions. Don’t give your power away to anyone or anything – including astrology. Instead, think about what is ending in your life, specifically the dissolution and disintegration of both personal and collective structures that no longer serve. Notice where you are clinging to or grieving for those systems. Then imagine what life would be like if you let go and allowed a true transformation of body, mind, heart, and soul.

July 7, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Eclipses, and Pluto
We’re still in the throes of an unsettling aggregation of planetary energies: two eclipses coupled with the tightening grip of the final Saturn/Uranus opposition. While this information may sound like the same old story, if you turn off previous assumptions, if only for a moment, and listen closely, you’ll sense a shift in the dynamics of daily life. You could chalk up the shift in energy to “madness takes its toll,” but not all the changes taking place are crazy or even negative. Yes, for many of us the relentless intensity continues to be unbearable, especially for those carrying the brunt of recent economic and ecological upheaval. And for those not carrying that particular load, it is important to remember that it’s one thing to say that every crisis is an opportunity, and another thing entirely to actually live through the day-to-day transformation of that suffering. Yet for some of us, even the burdened, the intensified intensity has catalyzed awakenings of body, mind, heart, and soul, and those stirrings are moving many into a new level of participation and commitment to growth, personal as well as collective.

Pluto is the key to understanding the shift in daily dynamics. Last week, Pluto was conjunct the Moon during the lunar eclipse. Pluto/Moon conjunctions are notorious for emotional catharsis. Pluto symbolizes death and rebirth. Add Pluto to an eclipse, which already has the power to amplify feelings, and you have an environment of extreme emotional reactions. The physical lunar eclipse may be over, but its effect lingers on, so don’t be surprised if relationship issues continue to dominate the days and nights of the next several weeks.

Pluto does not play as dramatic a role in the solar eclipse of July 11, but that doesn’t mean its presence won’t be felt. This solar eclipse occurs in Cancer, the Sign associated with issues of family, nurturing, and the longing to belong, all of which translates into yet another layer of emotional sensitivity, specifically expressed as concerns about safety and security. As part of the chart for this eclipse, as well as the chart for the fifth and final Saturn/Uranus opposition, Pluto squares both Saturn and the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, forming a T-square. Oppositions symbolize tension, and a T-square exacerbates the need to release that tension. As Pluto excites the entire bundle, you can expect discharges, yours or others’. Also anticipate that while these releases may offer momentary relief, that relief may not be completely satisfying or lasting given that this T-square persists for several weeks.

The most important component of Pluto’s participation is its square to Uranus. Uranus/Pluto interactions of any kind signify the process of transformation – the collapse of an old order and the construction of a new one. From 2012 through 2015, we will experience seven exact Uranus/Pluto squares. Observe what occurs during the coming weeks, because it will set the stage for much of what we will deal with over the next few years.

Most importantly, allow these coalescing forces to help you become aware of your strength, with an eye toward how to use your resources to steady yourself and to help others in need of guidance – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Remember, most of us would welcome and could use a little help from a friend.

June 30, 1010
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Part Seven
Waves of intensity continue to pound the shores of daily life, this week, as the current Planetary Gang of Three – Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus – tighten their formation, which is exact on July 26. As personal and collective tension symbolized by the final Saturn/Uranus opposition increases, so does uncertainty about the future, especially this week and next, as we traverse the terrain between the lunar eclipse of June 26 and the solar eclipse of July 11. The territory between eclipses is a powerful psychic field, and crossing it could provoke internal and external confrontations with old emotional and psychological patterns. If you experience inner conflict, try not to let the ensuing mind chatter turn deafening. The atmosphere is ripe with opportunity for inner critics to mutter about how everyone and everything should be. But pay attention to the chatter before you make every effort to let it go. It has the potential to reveal where your power is leaking. Remember, judgment – not to be confused with discernment -- is almost always about using a sense of superiority to mask feelings of worthlessness. If the confrontations are external, do your best to diffuse polarization. No matter how righteous your position, lasting peace can only be realized through cooperation.

From an astrological perspective, during a solar eclipse, as the Moon overshadows the Sun, the power of the unconscious overshadows conscious concerns. This overshadowing can become a highly charged aggregation of projections, a condition that makes it nearly impossible to find any solid ground or agreed upon emotional reality. Anticipate hypersensitivity, as well as the tendency to react as if all of life depends on the immediate moment. A word spoken in haste can become a magnet for repressed or suppressed feelings, and before you can say “I’m sorry” reactions may morph into a complete mythology, replete with heroes, villains, and a detailed back story. Often, the force of a projection is so strong that some of us can lose ourselves in its force and actually take it on. Be wary if you find yourself exhibiting behavior you don’t recognize as your own. In extreme cases, the only way to diffuse the projection is to bid the situation “adios” and hope that clarity will be restored over time.

Both the lunar eclipse and the solar eclipse occur on the Cancer/Capricorn axis. Cancer, ruled by the Moon, symbolizes the mother and the longing to belong; Capricorn, ruled by Saturn, symbolizes the father, and the structures that help society to cohere. Both Signs signify issues of safety and security. As the eclipse effect continues, you or someone you love is likely to be overly concerned with these issues. Rather than dismissing these concerns, allow them to be indicators of feelings still in need of conscious integration.

As the eclipse effect excites emotional bodies, it also exacerbates tensions generated by the Jupiter/Uranus/Saturn opposition. This opposition signifies the dissolution of the status quo, personal as well as collective. If you can notice where you are most affected by the psychic terrain of the eclipses or where you are feeling lost in projection, you can use the intensity to your benefit. Often the patterns we cling to are the very structures we need to release in order to make way for a true transformation.

June 23, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and a Lunar and Solar Eclipse
For the next several weeks, we’re in the thick of ongoing, relentless astral intensity. The final opposition between Saturn and Uranus is only four weeks away, and as if that mounting tension isn’t enough, two eclipses escalate the already wobbling ground of daily life. The lunar eclipse is on June 26 and the solar eclipse is on July 11. Eclipses disrupt normal routines – they have the power to turn day into night – and we often experience their effect several weeks (some say months) before or after the actual event. Most importantly, eclipses reveal what has been previously veiled. Given the current state of the oil catastrophe, and how the egregious policies of the oil companies and the government have been brought to light, eclipses might just be as powerful as ancient astrologers claimed.

Our current eclipse wobbles need to be placed in the context of the ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition, which symbolizes fundamental challenges to the status quo. The challenges of Saturn/Uranus are not willy-nilly. The structures that dissolve under this influence are already outdated. The current opposition cycle started in the fall of 2008, with collapse of the financial system. The American auto industry was next (and let’s include Toyota as part of that challenge). Over the course of this opposition, one seemingly sound structure after another evaporated before our eyes. Now, in the final phase, the oil industry and our reliance on fossil fuel – which we all knew was based on willful ignorance and greed – are destroying an entire region of the world.

From my perspective, what’s being challenged is unbridled, unregulated capitalism. (Please: No letters of protest. I am a bleeding heart liberal and proud of it.) The current Saturn/Uranus cycle began with a conjunction in 1988/89, when the Soviet Union began to dissolve, and the Berlin Wall fell. In 1999, with the first square, the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed. Glass-Steagall separated commercial and investment banks and was put in place as a response to the stock market crashes of 1929 and 1930-1932. When the current opposition series started in 2008, Wall Street fell, and now at the end of that Saturn/Uranus cycle it’s clear that capitalism, like communism, no longer serves the interest of Planet Earth and her inhabitants.

Saturn also represents the father, and what is also clear, is that many of us still think our president should be the “Father and Chief”, ready to right every wrong with his special powers. When President Obama gave his first Oval Office address last week, I couldn’t help but think about the overwhelming pressure he faces daily in attempting to live up to that utterly unrealistic projection. I also became keenly aware that no other president in recent history has faced so much pernicious negativity. The rabid right hasn’t let up for a moment. Its ignorance, hatred, and cruelty know no bounds. And its vile rhetoric spills out into the ocean of consciousness like the poisonous crude oil that spoils the sea. Leaders of the right lie like BP, knowing that a slick ad campaign can obscure the truth.

My heart goes out to President Obama. I would not be able to endure such a barrage of negativity. I can barely watch TV without getting sick to my stomach. I refuse to add to that negativity, and I am encouraging those of us who are aware enough to understand the multidimensional power of this moment to hold fast to what we know is true: No matter how overwhelming the challenge of transformation may be, each of us has the power to change this world. And that power begins with consciousness, compassion, and the courage to live according to our highest principles.

June, 16, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus: Part Six
Holograms are in motion this week, and as individual and collective poles tilt in new directions, unforeseen and unimagined alternate realities emerge. Expect to find yourself leaning into a new position, one you never thought you would embrace, and then expect that new view to have a profound effect on the past, present, and future. As old stories, told a thousand times, are retold from a fresh perspective, the collision between the revision and the original could result in feeling disoriented and discombobulated. The good news is that no one will be bored. But staying grounded in the midst these shifting sands won’t be easy. Fortunately, there is planetary support for planting your feet as well as your intentions firmly on the ground. But staying grounded requires being and staying focused. The current levels of intensity aren’t going to diminish anytime soon, making it all the more important to find enough quiet time to replenish your reserves and gather your strength. The key to navigating this intensity, successfully, is stamina.

The source of emotional and psychic excitement continues to be the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Aries. Interactions between Jupiter and Uranus are known (at least by some astrologers) as the “Thank the Lord” configurations, because the combination of Jupiter and Uranus is said to symbolize the sudden release from stresses of suffering. While it won’t be possible to see a literal release in each and every situation straining from extreme pressure (especially on the global stage) it is still a worthwhile exercise to contemplate where any significant releases or changes in personal policy might be occurring in your life. Are there grudges you’ve been holding onto for years that are inhibiting your heart from opening at a deeper, truer level? And are these perceived grievances limiting your capacity to grow? Conversely, are you suddenly comfortable being angry and taking a stand? Have you found the courage to move out of a bad relationship you once thought you could endure forever? Or are you changing in the middle of an identity crisis, altering your self-awareness and modifying your behavior accordingly?

Venus, the goddess of love and beauty is in Leo, where she trines both Jupiter and Uranus, forming a dazzling alliance that places the emphasis on romance. Be prepared to fall in love suddenly and dramatically. But also be prepared to fall out of love just as suddenly and just as dramatically. Uranus/Venus contacts seldom last. But with Jupiter amplifying those amorous feelings, it will be hard to resist the spontaneity of a proposal. This Venus/Jupiter/Uranus bundle also provides a strong current of creative inspiration, so also anticipate new surges of passion to infuse artistic endeavor with innovative fire.

This week, do your best to stay open to shifting perspectives and altered realities. Sure, some of what occurs is certain to be disruptive, especially as old behaviors fail before new ones are born. But don’t let this discomfort discourage you. This current planetary cycle is fundamentally creative and offers many opportunities for transformation and healing, both personal and planetary.

June 9, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus: Part Five
Having a hard time sitting still? Feeling scattered and barely able to stay focused? Antsy for something new and afraid of what it might be? Redefining multitasking, as one mission morphs into another and into another? Or are you hiding under the covers until the air cools off and the Instant Karma climate moves to another location? Welcome to the brave new world of the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, in Aries, the dynamic Sign of new beginnings. The only problem is what to start and where to start it isn’t at all clear – yet. Or as one Aries friend said: “It feels like nothing is the same, but the newness feels too empty to feel like anything.” I pointed out that Buddhists might call this sense of emptiness the “true view.” And without hesitation she replied, “This ain’t nirvana, baby.” Well…that may be true. But this conjunction does have the power to alter consciousness, personal and collective, without the aid of psychedelics.

The exact conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus is already starting to separate. But because Jupiter and Uranus are only five or six astrological minutes away from each other, technically they are still merged at the same degree, and astro-truth be told, they will travel in tandem for quite some time. And just to continue on the techno-thread for a moment, Jupiter will eventually be within three degrees of Uranus, a distance some astrologer’s would say is too far to be counted. But because it’s Jupiter’s nature to be expansive, and because Uranus, the original Maverick, always breaks the rules, I’m thinking conventional orbs of influence are suspended while these two are united. Translation: This intense combination is going to last all summer long and well into the fall.

Jupiter/Uranus contacts are notorious for the release of stress and strain. Jupiter is generally seen as the planet of great good fortune. Uranus symbolizes sudden and startling developments, and when they combine, there is often a sense that providence is pointing toward a positive resolution. We can only hope this applies to the situation in the Gulf, which from an astrological perspective can be seen as an aggregation of several astrological signatures. First, the spill started with the fourth exact Saturn/Uranus opposition, in Pisces. The Saturn/Uranus opposition symbolizes the dissolution of stagnant structures, and it’s hard to imagine another kind of event demonstrating so dramatically the cost of our stagnant energy policies. Second, Chiron, moved into Pisces on April 20, as it left a conjunction with Neptune, in Aquarius. Chiron’s nickname is the Wounded Healer, and often its presence reveals the schisms between material and spiritual realities. And third because Neptune rules Pisces, the Sign of the sea, and oil is also included within its broad domain, it is possible to interpret the spill through the lens of Chiron, which ultimately seeks unification and alignment with our highest aspirations.

While it’s heartbreaking to witness so much destruction and to feel so helpless to effectuate any immediate, positive change, it’s also heartening to see so many people offering so many ideas about how to stop the leak. From the perspective of a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, in Aries, perhaps the magnitude of this disaster will engender a worldwide movement dedicated to ending the stagnant pattern of our addiction to oil, as it simultaneously motivates true innovation to meet our energy needs.

June 2, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus: Part Four
Welcome to Planet Change, where sudden shifts, obvious and subtle, seem to transform reality in the blink of an eye. Where individual action has the potential to turn the collective Wheel of Life in a new direction, instantly. Planet Change, where the pace of daily life is so rapid, many are simply wobbling from the spin. Welcome to a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction at the Zero Aries Point, on June 8, a position on the Zodiac some astrologers consider one of the most, if not the most, potent point in the astrological system. I could say welcome to the intensity of an entirely new cycle of the same old shifts, but while the issues remain the same, attitudes toward and action about those issues are not business as usual. For some, this astral acceleration is invigorating – the external atmosphere is alive and kicking. For others, the altered air makes it hard to breathe – too much is changing to quickly. And for still more, the quickening is just discombobulating.

The days leading up to this exact conjunction on Tuesday could feel a little soupy. Jupiter is moving through the last moments of Pisces, a Water Sign well known for its empathy and sensitivity. Everyone – including you – is sure to be tender to the touch, whether that touch is physical or psychic. So try not to judge anyone too harshly. We’re all certain to be more than a little delicate and feelings could get hurt all too easily, especially as Uranus, already in Aries, becomes increasingly blunt.

While Aries are as sensitive as any other Sign, they are known more for candor than concern. Don’t misunderstand, Aries cares. But this is the passionate Sign of the fiery adventurer, the solider of fortune, the embodied spirit of ambition that says, “Here I am.” Before it asks, “Who are you?” Again, don’t get the wrong idea: I love Aries, as I love all Signs. And every birth chart contains the Sign of Aries, which means this symbol of the “will to be” is active in each of our lives. I’m just suggesting that over the course of the next few days, the contrast between the fluidity of Pisces and the fire of Aries will generate a complex, and perhaps confrontational atmosphere, so when possible work for peaceful resolution rather than rousing rebellion.

But avoiding revolution won’t be possible during Uranus’ seven-year journey through Aries. And certainly not while it’s conjunct Jupiter for the next year. Uranus is the Che Guevara of the astrological pantheon. Jupiter amplifies anything it contacts. And that includes the blind zeal of Aries. Best to avoid fanatical fights of might for right, because it won’t be easy discerning what’s genuinely right. Fortunately, Saturn, with its power to separate the wheat from the chaff, continues to be a part of the process, at least for the next several months, as it opposes the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction and holds our individual and collective revolutionary feet to the fire, asking us to consider whether our cause is true. And if so, how we can go about realizing our idealistic objectives without succumbing to the same old paradigm of change – the ends justify the means – an antiquated attitude that has never really changed a thing.

May 26, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, and (Mostly) Uranus: Part Three
Frankly, it’s impossible to make any reasonable assessment of astral activity this week because planetary activity is simply off the charts. Uranus enters Aries on the evening of May 27, and when the planet of unpredictability shifts from one Sign to another, life on Earth resembles a series of spontaneous (as in I didn’t see it coming – even if you think you did) speed bumps – some that end in a screeching halt and others in a seemingly endless aerial suspension – until the car hits the ground with a resounding thud. What’s more, Uranus is moving from Pisces, a Water Sign, more commonly understood as a gentle, empathic force, into Aries, a Fire Sign, infamous for its insistence on individualism. And because of the sharp contrast between elements, it’s a transition that is sure to be (as the New Agers would say) “challenging.” The best advice I can offer is expect the unexpected and then expect the unexpected to be truly surprising.

For those of you wondering when the incessant intensity is going to end, I can only answer “not any time soon.” We’ve been riding this Uranian current for nearly six weeks, and it continues full throttle well into August. The first stage was about Uranus winding down a cycle through Pisces that began in March 2003. The end of a cycle distills its essence, so if you are experiencing increased intensity in a specific area of your life, look back seven years to see if you can identify what was put into motion at that time. You may discover surprising correlations among situations that at first glance seem totally unrelated.

The second stage of the Uranus intensity – and the one that lasts well into the summer – is all about Aries, that tempestuous, passionate, adventurous Fire Sign of new beginnings. Aries initiates. And when the Aries need for activity combines with the kinetic energy of Uranus, bodies, minds, hearts, and souls move into action. One of the benefits of Uranus, in Aries, is the sudden ability to get off the couch and bid procrastination goodbye. That garage, closet, desk, or storage unit, relationship, resume, or financial plan that’s long been in need of repair, renovation, and reorganization? Done. Except for one little glitch: Aries aren’t that interested in finishing. They are great starters, but when it comes to the details of closing the deal, Aries tends to rely on others to facilitate an ending as perfect as their beginning. And because Aries is a part of everyone’s birth chart, we all have this astrological gearshift happening somewhere in our individual lives.

As Uranus makes this transition, it would be wise to remember that Aries is the ancient Greek god of war. Like all good soldiers, Aries, bolstered by innate courage, hardly ever hesitates to take a stand, a position that could translate into lots of confrontations about issues big and small. And because the air has been so agitated for so long by so many angry people, many may feel moved into action they might later regret. Rather than greet Uranus, in Aries, with your fist in the air, give yourself permission to first consider the consequences of battle.

May 19, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus: Part Two
This week and the next several weeks, the planets continue to transform daily life into a training field for conscious living. You could call this phase “consciousness boot camp,” and frame the day-to-day events of life as obstacle courses that include long marches, surprise inspections and occasional encounters with a drill sergeant from hell. Okay…maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but finding metaphors for the current astrological meta-story isn’t easy. Too many planetary shifts are occurring simultaneously to isolate any one signature from another. For some of us, the solution to the unrelenting intensity is to get under the covers and stay there until the changes are over. For others, defiance and confrontation may become the coping mechanism of choice. But not everyone is resistant to this rigorous training. Regular routines are falling apart from the pressure, but the dissolution of those structures contains powerful creative seeds – seeds that are ready to sprout and thrive in the soil of awareness.

A three-point recap for those just tuning in: (1) We’re still in the midst of a series of Saturn/Uranus oppositions that began in 2008. The fourth in this series occurred on April 26 and the fifth and final exact opposition is on July 26. Saturn/Uranus oppositions signify the dissolution of stagnant structures, and while I know I am repeating myself, some things only stick with repetition, especially for those who find themselves losing solid ground and can’t figure out why. Uranus symbolizes revolution, and as the I-Ching reminds us, all authentic revolutions rely on adequate authority that stems from a higher, inner truth. Apply that wisdom to whatever may be crumbling in your life and you may be able to discern if the turmoil has a greater purpose. This is not about deserving or not deserving; it is about an awareness of powerful unseen or unconscious forces that have an effect, and developing skill at identifying or integrating that effect.

(2) Jupiter is currently in an opposition to Saturn that will be exact on May 23. This opposition has a tendency to trigger premature or immature emotional reactions to situations that are seemingly out of control. Patience is the perfect antidote to the tension. But patience may not be possible because (3) Jupiter is also closing in on a conjunction with Uranus, which will occur on June 8, in Aries. Given Jupiter’s expansive field of influence, it will hold the Saturn/Uranus opposition in place until the final contact on July 26, which means challenges to the status quo will grow increasingly more intense. The Jupiter/Uranus conjunction occurs in Aries, a Cardinal Sign, given to swift and impulsive action. Jupiter/Uranus contacts are often termed the “Thank the Lord” configuration, because they symbolize the release of tension. Which means as this entire bundle coalesces – the oppositions, conjunctions, and changing Signs – we can expect sudden, startling, and surprising developments, personal and collective, that are no longer based in a desire for conciliation. Aries has no problem taking a stand.

As the atmosphere shifts from conciliation to agitation, those of us committed to consciousness as a means of evolution will need to be prepared to facilitate transformation wherever possible. While this may sound abstract or idealistic, it is as concrete and practical as helping your neighbor handle a difficult situation. When kindness is the currency of change, revolution becomes evolution..

May 12, 2010
Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus: Part One
The planets continue to tighten formation this week and as they do, daily life continues to surge from one extreme to another. At first glance, the ebb and flow of intensity appears to be focused on finance, politics, and the environment, but a deeper look reveals that these extreme surges are also about moods and attitudes. Translation: It won’t be easy finding and maintaining your equilibrium. One minute, a tough stance seems like the best possible solution; a moment later, that rigid position dissolves into uncertainty. Expect more meltdowns, yours or others, as new waves of intensity exacerbate already overloaded systems – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The good news – and there is always good news – is powerful times catalyze creativity and encourage transformation, which means there are lots of opportunities for growth, personal and collective.

Jupiter is the source of the increased intensity. Known as the planet of expansion, Jupiter’s presence amplifies, magnifies, and intensifies. Currently, Jupiter is moving into an opposition with Saturn, which will be exact on May 23. A Jupiter/Saturn opposition tends toward dissatisfaction. Jupiter longs for something better, but Saturn pessimism interferes with an optimistic outlook. But Saturn’s negative pull can be countered with a concerted effort to see the glass as half full – a positive position that will help you stay balanced.

The Jupiter/Saturn opposition is the midpoint of a cycle that began in May 2000, with a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Taurus. Jupiter/Saturn cycles always signal a shift from an old regime to a new one. Although they diverge in style, Jupiter and Saturn encourage growth. Jupiter is enthusiastic and expansive; Saturn is sober and circumspect. When the two work together, they provide the potential to turn far-reaching visions into reality. If you started any plans or projects in 2000, this would be a good time to take stock of what you have accomplished over the last ten years. It’s also a good time to contemplate how you want to move forward.

Jupiter, currently in Pisces, is also moving into a conjunction with Uranus that will be exact on June 8. But not in Pisces. Instead, they will be conjunct in Aries. Yes…Jupiter and Uranus change Signs during the next several weeks. Uranus moves into Aries on May 27. Jupiter moves into Aries on June 6. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For the next two weeks, Uranus is in the last degree of Pisces, ending a seven-year cycle that began on March 10, 2003. The final degree of any Sign concentrates the essence of the entire Sign. The soul of Pisces is the undifferentiated oneness of being. In Pisces we recognize our essential unity. And as Jupiter joins Uranus at the end of this cycle, our awareness of that interconnectedness is certain to be keen. Whether it is the shared discomfort of stranded passengers or the shared despair over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we can no longer escape how small our world really is.

May 5, 2010
For the next several weeks, the sky is in transition, and so are we. Certain planets are completing old cycles as well as beginning new ones, and as they simultaneously wind down and rev up, the normal linear patterns of daily life here, on Earth, are more likely to resemble episodes in a holographic time tableau than regular consistent routines. Anticipate time warps where the past, present, and future merge with a blur that either defies definition or offers dazzling clarity. Be sure to take notes – even and especially if you don’t understand what’s happening. And don’t worry. There will also be plenty of real time moments. Just be aware, those moments are best spent keeping your feet on the ground. Because transitions tend to be awkward and because time travel wreaks havoc on nervous systems, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and other disorders related to intense stress are probable. The best way through is to be gentle with yourself, as well as with others. A kind word could make all the difference.

The ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition, exact on April 26, is in the process of separating. The problem is Jupiter puts the kibosh on a complete divorce, because Jupiter is moving into an opposition with Saturn, exact on May 23, as well as a conjunction with Uranus, exact on June 8 – in Aries (more about that next week). Jupiter’s presence pretty much holds the Saturn/Uranus opposition in place until the final opposition on July 26, which translates into three months of increasing intensity. As many of you know, the Saturn/Uranus opposition symbolizes the dissolution of stagnant structures, personal and collective, internal or external. Jupiter’s presence amplifies the breakdown of those obsolete systems, but that doesn’t mean they will vanish quietly. They haven’t so far and there is no reason to expect that the individuals related to those systems are going to suddenly abandon their resistance to change. And that resistance is going to exacerbate the strain of polarized positions.

Adding further frustration to the mix, Mercury is Retrograde until early evening on May 11. As many of you already know, Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to initiate new plans or projects. It’s a time to review and reflect, and a time to patiently cull through the details. But this Mercury Retrograde feels too potent to be patient. Uranus, while not directly connected to Mercury, looms large through its conjunction with Jupiter, and because Uranus represents startling plot twists, there is the possibility that surprising information could emerge. That expectancy is making many of us antsy for action.

As the Taoist sages might advise: In uncertain times, take no unnecessary action. Instead, gather your strength and resources. There will be plenty of opportunities to act in the future. But right now, we are in the present, where the future is created by our response to what was set in motion in the past. This is what makes the present so powerful – it is the ultimate creative moment. Use it wisely.

April 28, 2010
There’s simply no way to predict what this week’s astral weather will deliver. I’m writing five days prior to the fourth exact Saturn/Uranus opposition, and you’re likely to be reading this column two or three days after that potent contact. But the dilemma of taking this week’s pulse isn’t purely a timing issue. First, Uranus interactions always indicate unforeseen plot twists. Second, we don’t experience the full effect of difficult astrological interactions until the planets start to separate and the tension releases. What’s more, because there has been so much disruption since this series of oppositions began in September 2008, it’s not possible to know the overall effect until well after the last opposition, which occurs on July 26. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be reactive to the upheaval and the uncertainty. For the next several months, the psychic and emotional atmosphere will grow increasingly erratic and unsettled. Expect the unexpected is the best advice I can offer. And don’t be surprised if daily life resembles plot twists and time signatures as complex as the final episodes of Lost.

Volcanic eruptions seem to be a part of the Saturn/Uranus disruption. Eyjafjallajokull and the power of its smoke cloud are a dynamic metaphor for the power of Saturn/Uranus. It not only disrupted the routines of daily life. It also offered a pretty obvious signal of nature’s ultimate power. We may think we are in control, but on closer observation…not really. I’ve been fascinated with this plume, awestruck by the simplicity of its effect: Mother Earth is letting us know who has the power. Many of the comments I’ve read online have commented on an angry Mother Earth – and just in time for Earth Day. But there have also been many more comments on the undeniable interconnectedness of our lives. If only we could extend that awareness to all the areas of life, not just air travel.

By the time you read this Katla may have erupted as well, triggering even greater travel and commerce chaos. In my volcanic stupor, I did a little research, looking up the other dates of Katla’s eruptions. The last major Katla event was in 1918, and curiously, under a Uranus/Saturn opposition; Saturn was in Leo, and Uranus, in Aquarius. Uranus is active in the charts of all nine recorded Katla eruptions, which makes sense if you think about Uranus as the symbol of explosive events that disrupt and disturb. But don’t whip out those astro proof-meters just yet. To draw any serious correlation between earthquakes and Uranus, the research would have to cover all known earthquake events over a substantial period of time.

But I am not searching for proof of astrology’s validity. I am simply curious about the condition our condition is in. I am content to look at Eyjajallajokull’s plume, as well as the possibility of Katla’s eruption, as archetypes of the collective unconscious. From that view, volcanic eruptions symbolize violent emotional outbursts, the inability to contain psychic pressures, or long repressed and suppressed feelings that refuse to stay dormant or denied – an apt archetype for our cultural milieu.

April 21, 2010
Don't be surprised if you find yourself nearly speechless this week. As the celestial activity intensifies, the affairs of daily life grow increasingly complex, but not in any predictable way, which will make finding the right word - or merely any words - to express what you are feeling more than a little difficult. OMG may be the only choice, as strange (actually, downright weird) plot twists throw even the best-laid plans into a tizzy. Be prepared for information from a variety of sources to alter perception and disrupt previously firm decisions. For some, these bolts from the blue illuminate what has been occurring beneath the surface of regular routines, and the bright new light transforms what may have been previously only been sensed into a sobering reality. For others, the emotional rug comes out from under, and what was once considered solid ground liquefies into uncertain terrain. And for still more, coping with this kaleidoscope of change, whether personal or collective, taxes already overburdened nervous systems. Holding steady in the midst of so much upheaval requires a strong center and an even stronger heart.

The source of tumult is the ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition. Exact on April 26, this tense interaction symbolizes the dissolution of the status quo a breakdown that is taking many forms, some obvious, some subtle, and some completely unexpected. Saturn symbolizes the distillation of wisdom from experience. Uranus is the principle of revolution. Oppositions signify polarization. Keep in mind, Uranus only disturbs what is stagnant. So while it may look as if reliable structures are dissolving, it's really lifeless systems - no longer valuable or viable - that are disintegrating.

This Saturn/Uranus opposition can also be framed as an opportunity to align form and content. Given our culture's deep commitment to appearances, resistance to that paradigm shift is likely to be strong. The superficial won't give up without a struggle. Too much is dependent upon looking marvelous rather than being marvelous. Possessions are more valuable than character. Video killed the radio star ages ago, and when it did, the branding of creativity became more important than the listener's imagination. The petty travails of celebrities create more interesting news than what is actually occurring on the planet, unless a disaster of enormous scope captivates cultural consciousness. And even those moments of shared global concern dissipate without positive remedy or resolution, because in too many instances the medium has become the message. Viewed through television, the actual suffering of our fellow humans becomes just another show - a cable event that asks for a donation, but doesn't require physical participation. But all the glitz, glam, and bling can't satisfy the soul's hunger for what is real.

As the coming weeks unfold, allow that hunger to stimulate an awareness of where your personal status quo is stagnant, and whether that stagnation is emotional, financial, political, or spiritual, be determined to change it. Words may fail, but positive action will work wonders. Align action with intention and your form will express content. Encourage those you love to do the same, and when possible lend a helping hand to your fellow travelers.

April 14, 2010
Attitude is everything this week. But before you assume your stance, make sure you’re tuned into the biggest possible perspective through the broadest bandwidth you can manage – and don’t forget to include a long-range time trajectory that contains the possibility of holographic travel. We are in the midst of crossing an astral threshold of concentrated planetary activity that includes the beginning of the end of one cycle and a preview of what lies ahead. From a spiritual point of view, a threshold symbolizes the potential to move from one mode of existence to another; it is the boundary that delineates two different, often opposing realities. And that can certainly be said about the coming weeks and months (even years, but more about that in future columns), for as we move through this series of astrological events, much of what occurs in daily life will resemble an initiation into new modes of awareness-based action. The best way to handle the shift is to stay open to change. But this isn’t about willing yourself to do something because you should; successfully crossing this astrological threshold requires allowing an organic process of recognizing what no longer has value in your life and then sloughing off habitual behavior related to the outdated system. Discharging the detritus of unconscious living is no small feat, but the results will be worth it.

The ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition will be exact for the fourth time on April 26. From our terrestrial perspective, that’s already close enough to feel its presence, but as the opposition tightens its grip, many of us are likely to experience an intensified reaction. For some, the coming weeks of intensity will manifest as an increased, almost intolerable sensitivity. Others will feel a call to action, even if the “what to do” isn’t quite clear, yet. And still more are likely to experience a strong desire to be of service, helping those less capable of coping with a sustained period of change.

Saturn represents structure, and Uranus represents innovation; as they oppose one another, one of the ways to contextualize this fourth contact is to see it as a challenge to existing belief systems, especially beliefs that are comfortable, as well as comforting, but from an objective perspective are obsolete. From capitalism to karma, the Saturn/Uranus opposition is extending a cosmic invitation to reconsider what you believe in, and why. Make good use of this opportunity by taking a sober, yet innovative look at the ideas and values that inform your opinions and actions.

Mercury Retrograde, from April 17 through May 11, provides the potential to examine the details of those belief systems. While Mercury Retrograde phases are notorious for delays and detours, they are brilliant for culling through the specifics and particulars of just about everything. Normally, Mercury retrograde review is limited to communication and travel, but given that Mercury symbolizes all intellectual processes, the current retrograde can be put to good use examining the essentials of existing attitudes toward just about everything.

April 7, 2010
This week, the planets continue to move into dynamic alignment, and as they do, the drama of daily life continues to intensify. For some, that translates into positive events that bump regular routines into an entirely different dimension. For others, the mounting planetary intensity only seems to exacerbate existing difficulties, turning bad situations worse. We are in the midst of a huge transformational process that is personal, cultural, collective, local and global, which means even if the planetary zeitgeist does not directly affect your life, you will still experience the paradigm shift. Simply witnessing the shifts as they occur is sure to be overwhelming at times, so no matter where you find yourself along the spectrum of participation, it is important to practice self-care. Being alert 24/7 may seem like the only choice, but eventually sleep deprivation will set in and encourage foolish or expedient choices. The same is true for a diet of fast food, coffee, and for those that smoke (and I mean no judgment), cigarettes. These days demand wit and wisdom, both of which are served by good health.

The on-going Saturn/Uranus opposition continues to be the astrological center of gravity. While the opposition isn’t exact until April 26, the days leading up to it will grow increasingly tense, so much so, that the psychic tension is likely to distort regular routines. Be careful not to place too much emphasis on the small stuff, and instead, save your time and energy for matters of ultimate importance. As most of you know, the April 26 opposition is the fourth in a series of five oppositions occurring from November 2008 through August 2010. The keywords for this configuration are the dissolution of the status quo. Saturn represents structure, Uranus symbolizes revolution, and oppositions are just what they sound like – oppositional. All of which translates into clashes between what is – or in many cases what was or is currently dissolving – and what is yet to be, which is still uncertain and unknown because we are in the process of creating it. One of the best ways to handle the tension of this opposition is to recognize where you are resistant to change and to contemplate why you are holding on so tightly.

As the force field of the Saturn/Uranus opposition intensifies, core issues you thought were long gone will rise (or continue to rise) to the surface of daily life. Don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly facing fear of abandonment, low self-esteem, or family of origin-related dynamics you were certain you’d left behind in therapy, recovery, or years of meditation retreats. We are in the midst of a paradigm change, and part of the process is identifying what to leave behind. For some this could mean revisiting old patterns, if only for a moment, to determine what still needs serious, conscious, concentrated psychological work. A healthy mind is as important as a healthy body, especially in the days to come.

March 31, 2010
Expect catharsis to be a constant companion for the next few weeks -- especially when it comes to toxic relationships that tax already overwrought nervous systems. The fourth Saturn/Uranus opposition is exact on April 26, and as these two planets move into increasingly close contact, emotional bodies are going to pulsate with anticipation. For some, this fourth contact will clarify situations set in motion since the first opposition in the fall of 2008. For others, stagnant waters will become active, and while that may transform circumstances into troubled waters, one thing is for sure, the status quo is shifting, like it or not. Of course, no one really needs astrology to recognize the mounting tension. The way things were is no more. But the problem is we can’t see the future because we have yet to create it. And anxiety about the uncertainty of what will be grows louder with every passing news cycle. Handling the intensity of this shift is going to take stamina and strength, particularly the type of muscle that is willing to live as consciously as possible.

This fourth Saturn/Uranus opposition is the last in a series of five exact oppositions to take place in the Mutable Signs of Virgo and Pisces. Mutable Signs are the peacemakers of the zodiac; they mitigate between the Cardinal Signs that want to leap into action and the Fixed Signs that want to hold fast to a permanent position. It is possible to see President Obama’s commitment to bi-partisanship as an expression of a Mutable Sign approach, which is wise because we do ultimately have to learn how to live with one another, which means tolerating our difference. Thus far, conciliation hasn’t worked. It has riled the right as well as the left. And the situation only seems to be getting worse.

The last series of Saturn/Uranus oppositions took place from 1965-1967, also a time of great civil unrest, and although I’ve written about this before, it bears mentioning again. That opposition occurred in the same Signs, but with reverse positions. Saturn was in Pisces and Uranus was in Virgo. It also seems the positions of the protestors are reversed as well. In the last revolution, women and people of color united against the status quo of the white man’s system. Now as that old system continues to fight for its life, the desperation of its last stand is clear. If you believe in evolution, a more enlightened world is inevitable. But so is resistance to the shift.

Evolution takes time, but that doesn’t mean growth won’t happen. Transforming the toxicity of fear will test the mettle of personal and collective consciousness. Living consciously in the quicksilver atmosphere of the coming weeks and months requires a commitment to knowing that each of us has the power to change the world. It also requires one additional step: Rather than leaving it to the next person, be the one who makes the effort and tips the scale toward love.

March 24, 2010
Several realities converge this week, so don’t be surprised if you feel on the verge of overwhelm. Not only are we still in the midst of a seasonal shift, accommodating different daylight hours and adapting to new daily routines. We are also completing our adjustment to Mars Direct, which means we can finally release the need finish every postponed project immediately. But that’s not the entire story. The core of this week’s intensity isn’t only about transitions occurring in present time. This week is also a threshold between what was and what will be. For as the next few weeks unfold, we begin several months of major planetary interactions, all of which tilt the axis of daily life, personal and collective, in a new, and for the most part, unforeseen direction. And although these changes are still in the future, sensitive nervous systems can already feel the gravitational pull. So don’t be surprised if you or someone close to you seems inappropriately emotional. What at first glance may seem like an extreme reaction may actually be in tune with the deeper undercurrents of change that lie ahead.

This week: Several interactions coalesce to make it the week of living ambitiously. The ongoing Sun/Mars trine continues to provide the desire and determination to overcome any obstacles to success, no matter how difficult or dangerous. Saturn sextiles Mars, supporting those industrious endeavors, but Saturn also opposes the Sun, which could inhibit some of the Sun’s vibrant creativity. Unfortunately, this Sun/Saturn opposition collides with a Sun/Pluto square, a configuration that could encourage choosing ruthless means as a way of achieving your goals. Be patient, be kind, and don’t exert undue pressure on yourself or those you love to get the job done at any cost. In the long run, the results won’t be worth squandering your reputation or good will.

The coming weeks: On April 26, we will experience the fourth Saturn/Uranus opposition, and the last one in this series to occur in the Mutable Signs of Virgo and Pisces. This opposition began in the fall of 2008 with the financial crisis. No regulations have been put in place to insure that the same scenario won’t repeat itself, which means we’re still not out of the woods. I’m not predicting another crash; I’m simply noting that we haven’t penetrated the causal level of our current condition.

Jupiter joins this opposition in May, as it moves into a conjunction with Uranus that is exact on June 10 at Zero Aries. But before that occurs, there is an exact Jupiter/Saturn opposition on May 23. And on May 27, Uranus moves into Aries. But that’s not all. On July 26, the fifth and final Saturn/Uranus opposition occurs, also at Zero Aries. This litany of planetary events is as complex as it sounds, and over the coming weeks, this column will probe the potential meaning of all these interactions in depth. I’m only sharing the details this week to affirm what many are already feeling: Profound changes lie ahead.

As you ponder the future, remember each of us plays a role in what happens next. We can dread the coming changes, and mire ourselves in fear and ignorance. Or we can be pro-active, and continue to search for innovative solutions to our shared situation.

March 17, 2010
This week carries a curious dual signature. Externally, daily life bustles as Mars Direct finally provides traction for plans and projects. Yet internally, powerful unconscious forces, personal as well as collective, exert a strong pull toward introspection. And while prevailing opinion tends to view external and internal modes of existence as oppositional, what’s curious about this week is how clearly our internal and external worlds can be seen as complementary. Moving within and without always requires skill – you have to be able to straddle two perspectives simultaneously. But the result is always worthwhile, because aligning these two realms strengthens the unity of mind and body, as well as head and heart.

We just finished the first full week of Mars Direct, and although we are still in the beginning phase, Mars’ forward motion is deeply motivational. Mars is all about muscles and movement, which is why you or someone you love could suddenly crave activity. Whether that means dusting of the bike, skates, swim goggles, or running shoes, Mars can put you in the mood to “just do it.” This is the perfect time of year to put bodies in motion, and if for some reason physical motion isn’t possible, move your mind. Stagnation is simply not an option. Not this week. The Sun enters Aries on March 20, the Vernal Equinox, and in the Northern Hemisphere, that means it’s spring and we are out of the hibernation cave and into life. A Sun/Mars trine amplifies this seasonal emergence – Sun, in Aries, and Mars, in Leo – a fiery combination that is certain to spark creative fires. Allow this passionate energy to ignite your enthusiasm for life. The winter doldrums are done. Yes, Saturn opposes the Sun in Aries, but that’s not enough to dampen a spring spirit.

A Sun/Uranus conjunction, in Pisces, in combination with Jupiter (also Pisces, but not part of the conjunction), provides the internal pull of the week. Pisces, highly sensitive and susceptible to suggestion, tends to live in the imaginal realms (which is probably why some people assume that every Pisces is psychic). When Uranus and the Sun, both vital, active and creative forces, share the same space, they stimulate nervous systems. And even though this conjunction won’t last for long – not even for the entire week - it lasts long enough to provide inspiration and vision about the coming year. You may not be able to see the entire picture, but the fire created by the Sun/Mars trine will generate enough light for glimpses. Use these “flash forwards” to contemplate what it is you want to create during the coming growing season. Don’t be afraid to dream big – Jupiter is also in Pisces, and by the end of April, as Jupiter begins its conjunction with Uranus, the world is going to open wide with possibilities.

As I often write, we can only create what we can envision. That’s one of the threads that unites the internal and external dimension of life. What we create isn’t always an exact replication of what we’ve imagined, but the more we practice aligning body, mind, heart, and soul, the closer we get to co-creating a world that is congruent with our best intentions.

March 10, 2010
The big news this week is Mars Direct on March 10. I’ve been racking my brain to think of an appropriate song for this astral event, but I can’t seem to find the gestalt equivalent of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.” Not that this Mars Retrograde was particularly pernicious. For some, it was actually beneficial. But Mars is one of the planets that drive the mechanics of daily life, and when it moves behind instead of ahead, routines tend to get sluggish and perhaps a little boring. After all, Mars symbolizes energy, ambition, muscles, physical movement, and sex, all of which flourish under forward motion. Mars has been retrograde since four days before Christmas, and even though it will take another ten days for Mars to gather momentum and hit its stride, you’re likely to notice a difference in energy as early as…well…tomorrow. I’m not predicting miracles of progress, but I can guarantee a new sense of purpose and pride, as individual and collective moods shift out of lethargy and into zeal.

Mars “turns around” in a trine to Venus, in Aries, forming a perfect positive signature that feeds love, sensuality, sexuality, and creativity. Be prepared for passion – lots of it – especially the sort of heat that’s generated from balance and knowing. This confidence-enhancing configuration is the perfect antidote to a T-Square between Venus, Saturn, and Pluto. Saturn opposes Venus as it squares Pluto, and Pluto squares both Saturn and Venus. A T-Square signifies tension as well as friction, and the whole bundle could devolve in thwarted, compulsive, or inhibited interactions. Be careful not to force your attention and affection where it isn’t met with equal admiration. The good news, again, is that the Venus/Mars trine promotes healthy interactions, of every ilk, not just the sexual.

Mars rules assertion, from rage to self-actualization and everything in between. It is the arms and legs of the ego, and it is through Mars that we move out in the world and know ourselves as individuals, separate and distinct from others. Some of us, especially those of us figuring out how to express anger in healthy ways, could have trouble handling this Martian thrust, so try to be compassionate about tantrums, yours or others. Anger is always a healthy response against the injustice of having a self denied, but harming others in the process of taking that stand isn’t always a healthy choice. If you feel yourself on the edge of a storm, take a break before you say or do something you might later regret.

As Mars moves into gear, so will we. Just be aware, getting up to speed is going to take time for all of us, including Mars, so you still need to make patience your constant companion. By the end of March, as Mars kicks into overdrive, so do several other planetary configurations, all of which are going to keep us extremely active. Rather than resent how long it takes to hit your stride, use this time to gather your strength and replenish your reserves.

March 3, 2010
We’re in the deep this week, figuring out how to stay afloat in an ocean of emotion. Tides of feelings – all sorts of feelings – rise and fall, all week long, so don’t be surprised if just about everyone suffers from extreme mood swings. Eddies of enthusiasm merge with waves of anxiety and seas of stress coalesce with currents of certainty, and whether you call this soup a “mess” or a “challenge of consciousness” one thing is sure: surprising emotional surges are likely to overwhelm even the most dispassionate among us. Do your best to stay calm, but if you do experience a meltdown, try not to judge yourself or others too harshly. Be especially kind to children, they may simply be in reactive mode, channeling the intensity around them. Also be aware, some of us are in dire need of a meltdown, particularly those who have been under pressure for so long and are simply holding on by a thread. If you can, find healthy ways of letting loose.

The source of this week’s emotionally charged waters is four planets – Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Uranus – and a star – the Sun – in Pisces, the Sign of the sea. Known for empathy, sensitivity, and boundless imagination, Pisces is the Sign where we long to merge with the vastness of being, no separation nor differentiation, just unity. And while this Piscean urge to dissolve into the oneness of being can be an authentic expression of spiritual practice, the dissolution of boundaries doesn’t always work so well with the practicalities of differentiated daily life. It’s difficult to be one with a neighbor who lets the dog run free or refuses to put a lid on the garbage can or a loved one who refuses to cooperate with what you know to be the best plan.

The pull between idealism and realism exacerbates the already moody flux, which is why many of us may could find ourselves bobbing between extremes. One minute the possibilities are endless; the next, limitation stifles hope. Moderation is probably the best buoy, so do your best to find the middle ground and then make every effort to stay afloat. The good news is that these Piscean waters are not pernicious. Strong, yes, but the only danger is the possibility of getting caught in an undertow of receptivity or susceptibility to suggestion, unable to distinguish your sentiments from another’s.

Mars is the other significant astral contributor this week. As it prepares to go direct on March 10, Mars will move at a glacial pace, defying its own fire, as well as the fire of Leo. The slower-than-slow pace of the planet that lives to win the race could drive many of us, even the terminally patient, to new levels of angst. Breathe. Breathe, again. And remember, change is the only constant. Translation: It’s just a matter of cosmic moments before we are out of the emotional soup and moving forward at the speed of light.

February 24, 2010
This week, and the next several weeks, the days grow increasingly long, and while you may think this is related to the position of the Sun as we approach the Vernal Equinox or the beginning of Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 14, the “long” I’m talking about isn’t about extra sunlight or the actual physical length of the day. I’m talking about Mars, and its preparation to go Direct on March 10. Retrograde since December 20, Mars is finally getting ready to move forward. And while its forward motion will be a relief, as Mars moves from behind to ahead, we move into the slow-down that precedes the speed-up, a transitional phase that is sure to be more than slightly discombobulating. On one hand, there is so much excitement about advancement you can almost taste the restoration of a “normal” rhythm. Mars is one of the planets that drive the mechanics of daily life and when it is retrograde all the plans and projects of daily life seem to take much longer to shift from first into second or third gear. On the other hand, pure forward motion is thwarted until at least ten days after Mars goes Direct, which means lots of us may find it difficult to strike an appropriate balance between hurry up and wait. In times of transition, it’s always advisable to take no unnecessary action. The problem for the next couple of weeks, though, is figuring out what’s necessary and what isn’t.

Mars is retrograde in Leo, a fiery Sign known for its generosity, but also for its dramatic flare. Mars is the principle of will power, and it symbolizes self-assertion, from anger to aggression to ambition to self-actualization. A forward moving Mars, in Leo, signals self-assurance, as well as passionate creativity. A “backward” moving Mars, in Leo, could provide enough anti-matter to turn generosity into resentment and self-confidence into self-centeredness. As Mars begins its “turn around” lots of people may find it hard to contain their frustration with certain events or circumstances, a condition that easily translates into temper tantrums about anything and everything. I’m not suggesting denial as an antidote, for the next several weeks, but it might be a good idea to wear a thicker skin or any other protective shield that will prevent you from getting sucked into interactions that are intended solely to blow off steam. The release may feel good in the moment, but the outcome could have lasting consequences. Make the effort to stay present and conscious, even if that means avoiding instant gratification.

Fortunately, a Sun/Jupiter conjunction, in Pisces, provides the perfect remedy for Martian angst and volatility, as it continues to support vibrant creative inspiration, as well as generally and genuinely optimistic attitudes. Apply this remedy liberally to any situation in need of compassionate understanding and your kindness will help others to handle the intensity with a happy heart.

February 17, 2010
The planets proclaim another week of positive potential. And because it’s been such a long time since back-to-back optimistic alignments trumped challenging ones, I can hardly believe my eyes. Yes…there are still some grumpy moments and a fractious rub here and there, but overall, this week, just like last week, the stars support happy attitudes, compassionate methods, and lots and lots of laughter.

The source of this potential for optimism is the ongoing Venus/Jupiter conjunction, in Pisces, the Sign of empathy and compassion. Venus is the personification of true value, especially as those ideals are expressed through art. Jupiter represents the extensive expanse of knowledge, belief systems, and social sensibilities, especially as those collective sensitivities relate to morality and justice. Venus is exalted in Pisces; Jupiter is its ancient co-ruler. The entire bundle is a potent signature for harmonious interactions based on a genuine and generous concern for the well being of others. So don’t be surprised if you feel motivated to make a meaningful difference in your world.

This conjunction is about love in all its many manifestations, not just romantic inclinations. I am not suggesting romance should take a backseat during the second week of this conjunction. But on February 18, as the Sun moves into Pisces, its bright light is going to amplify a variety of possible manifestations. So while you may think this is only about amorous desire, be prepared for other possibilities, especially the inspiration to transform altruistic aspirations into actual accomplishments.

Try not to let the current political situation corrupt your Piscean vision of what’s possible. While most of our politicians increasingly resemble the Borg, resistance to their constant barrage of misinformation is not futile. Resistance is essential, especially in the face of endless sound bytes that are geared to incite and inflame. Frankly, I’m convinced these alien invader machines and their continuous effort to promote ignorance is really a dastardly plot to enslave us through stupidity. Be smarter. Turn off your television. Write your own stories. Sing your own songs. Listen to your own heart. This Sun/Jupiter/Venus conjunction, in Pisces, won’t happen again for a very long time, which means it would be wise to make the most of it while you can.

As the week unfolds, you may also feel the quiet tug of Mars Retrograde. It goes Direct on March 10, which means by the end of this week it will start to slow down in preparation for its “turn around.” That deceleration has the potential for great frustration. Mars has been retrograde since December 20, and now as that journey starts to wind down, some of us are sure to get wound up. Do your best to stay calm and focused. And when possible, use humor to relieve the tension. Laughter is still the best medicine.

February 10, 2010
A powerful potential for joy permeates hearts as well as minds this week, and not just because Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Several planetary patterns speak to lighter moods and jovial, kinder attitudes. So despite what seems to be a never-ending barrage of economic, environmental, and political difficulties, it’s actually possible to feel good. Anticipate a sincere desire to share the love and not just romantic love. The week’s “good vibrations” include all sorts of affections from sweethearts to sisters and brothers to mothers and fathers to coworkers, pets, neighbors, and yes, even Facebook friends, known or unknown.

Venus, goddess of love and beauty, is at the heart of this benevolent current. Last week, a Venus/Neptune conjunction gave birth to altruistic leanings, as it simultaneously increased a susceptibility to love and romance. This week, Venus moves out of her perfect union with Neptune, into what some might call a more perfect union with Jupiter. Venus enters Pisces on February 11, and as she does, she steps right into the willing and open arms of Jupiter, forming a conjunction that lasts until February 22. Venus loves love, and for the next two weeks, so do we. In Rome, the goddess of love was known as Venus. But in her prior incarnation in Greece, she was known as Aphrodite, the daughter of Uranus, who was born of the sea. Perhaps this is why Venus is so powerful in Pisces, a Water Sign, well known for its deep wells of emotional sensitivity.

Jupiter represents expansion, and when it combines with any planet it amplifies and intensifies the qualities of that planet. When it joins with Venus, that intensification tends to manifest as warm hearted, generous intentions toward others. Good manners and good form are also a component of a Venus/Jupiter conjunction. So don’t be surprised if even the grumpiest among us seem polite and courteous. Also anticipate deep emotional surges. Venus is exalted in Pisces, an astrological standing that enhances her power to support intimacy. And while every moment may not be heart stopping, life changing, or culminate in marriage, don’t let that stop you from freely expressing your feelings. Lasting connections aren’t only about peak experiences.

Pisces represents the deep unfathomable waters of psyche. As Venus and Jupiter stir those waters, some of what wells up during the next two weeks is certain to feel like messages from the unconscious, personal and collective. Whether it is through dreams, meditation, or other forms of direct contact, try to pay attention to your intuition. Keep pen and paper handy so you can jot down dreams or sketch ideas.

This week and next, allow Venus and Jupiter to inspire creativity and insight. Immerse yourself in joyous activities, even if those activities don’t look like fun to others. Honor your spirit by being true to yourself and let your example inspire others.

February 3, 2010
The planets morph into motivational speakers this week, and as they hold forth on a variety of subjects, daily routines shift gears. Expect to feel the thrill of possibility, especially as imagination flourishes, enhancing the capacity to envision. While there are no guarantees that every dream will come true, the sheer force of this positive potential could help you to overcome the tug to “make like a slug.” For some of us already functioning at our peak, that might mean having too much to do. But for others who may be foundering in inertia, the planetary patterns of the week translate into movement – and lots of it. So dust off some of what you tucked away because there just wasn’t enough time. There’s plenty of time, now, to be busy with what you want to do.

A Sun/Venus/Chiron/Neptune conjunction, in Aquarius, is the source of this week’s potential for creative visualization. This entire bundle signifies active imagination that is specifically focused on love in all its many manifestations, from the amorous to the empathetic. I am thankful for this conjunction because it can inspire the desire and the ability to address the very real needs of individuals and their communities through compassion. The devastation in Haiti may be local, but the poverty and deprivation we’ve witnessed and continue to witness in that particular locale is global. It is everywhere. And only a combined collective creative effort by concerned individuals to envision solutions is going to effectuate the necessary transformation. Don’t worry…I am not lost in woo-woo land. I’m simply acknowledging the power of collective imagination.

A Mars/Saturn sextile is the source of this week’s “just do it” attitude. Mars represents physical energy, Saturn symbolizes structure, and when they work together, they provide a deep reservoir of determination and stamina. This configuration is well known for its pragmatism, and that’s just the kind of co-creative force that’s necessary to balance the idealism of the Sun/Venus/Chiron/Neptune conjunction. Rather than thinking these signatures would be at odds with each other, imagine that the Mars/Saturn sextile is advising the conjunction in Aquarius on how to transform its altruistic visions into realty.

A Jupiter/Pluto sextile expands the stage for some of these imaginings. This sextile is fundamentally about power and is typically interpreted as a desire for influence and authority. But it can also be seen as a desire for spiritual power. I realize that sounds like an oxymoron, especially in our current culture, where many of us are mistrustful of spiritual leaders of every ilk. But I’m talking about the transformative power of the sacred, a transformative power that transcends the various institutional structures through which it is expressed. A power that speaks directly to the heart, a power that each of us can experience and be inspired by.

That inspiration is much needed this week, given that we are also in the midst of the separating Saturn/Pluto square, which is sure to turn some attitudes sour and dour. Do your best to resist the temptation to align with the stern and the grim.

As the week unfolds, allow yourself to move into positive action. Each of us has the potential to be a catalyst for change, and making a difference in the world can be as complex as figuring out how to adopt an orphan in need or as simple as lending someone a helping hand or a kind word.

January 27, 2010
I’m not sure whether we are reflecting the stars this week or if the stars are mirroring us. And I’m also not sure it matters. What I do know for sure is that many of us are polarized, divided, and antagonistic, a mood that is mimicked by a couple of celestial patterns. For some, this oppositional stance is a welcome opportunity to identify and release frustration. For others, the tension is unwelcome and unbearable. For still more, the air seems rife with resistance and hostility. And for the rest, or at least those not tuned out through apathy or indifference, the charged atmosphere seems ripe with opportunities for growth and transformation. No matter where you find yourself along the spectrum of this week’s energy field try to keep in mind that opposites can also be seen as complements, especially if we are willing to synthesize what separates and divides through understanding and reconciliation.

The first major “rub” of the week is the second exact square between Saturn and Pluto on January 31. (The first exact contact occurred on November 15, 2009.) Saturn represents structures, Pluto symbolizes power, and squares signify friction. From a personal perspective, the friction generated by this square could spark self-destructive behavior or a need to behave badly in the lives of others. Check your intentions before you put in motion consequences you might later regret. From a collective perspective, this square continues to exacerbate the crumbling foundation of systems that no longer serve. Of course, how you identify those systems depends upon your political persuasion. For my money, the Lobbyists would be the first to go, and then, once the field was cleared of special interests, it would be easier to see which politicians are actually interested in public service rather than self service.

The second major source of irritation this week is a Mars opposition to the Venus/Sun conjunction. Finally, Mars can give us something to shout about. For weeks, it’s been “out there” on its own, and now as it opposes Venus and the Sun, several weeks of repressed frustration can unload. Just be careful where you download, as well as whom you download on. If you spent the last several weeks seeing everyone as an enemy, frustrated about making forward progress, or exhausted by more than you can handle, you could be tempted to aim your anger at whoever just happens to be in your way. Emotional release is certain to feel good, but it may accomplish more harm than you can imagine. So don’t indulge tirades.

Lots of us will aim our anger at President Obama, blaming him for recent failures that keep us tethered to the status quo and under the spell of a cultural paradigm that continues to enslave us through a commitment to ignorance. Perhaps too few of us realize that many of the seemingly insurmountable problems we are facing were put in motion by the previous administration. And while President Obama is not a saint, we are a nation of instant everything. We want instant remedies, including some sort of political penicillin that will bring the financial fever down and make the headaches from what we don’t understand go away. But there is no instant cure to what ails. There is only the moment-by-moment work of conscious living. And no leader can do that work for us. We must each do our own, one realization at a time.

January 20, 2010
The world continues to wobble this week. The planets are still “in process” and as they adjust to their new positions, so do we. Expect life to be wonky, and also anticipate feeling more than a little frazzled, as nervous systems, already stretched, are forced to stretch just a little more. The days unfold with an episodic structure, each chapter a story unto its own. Some of what transpires bristles with excitement, but what’s needed to handle the thrill is the ability to breathe, deeply, and there’s barely time to breathe at all. But it’s not just excitement that constricts the breath; we will all be struggling to integrate the reality of loss and grief from the devastation in Haiti.

The best news this week is Mercury Direct, and as Mercury’s forward motion gathers momentum, most of the regular routines of daily life start to stabilize. Just don’t expect complete stabilization. Mars is still retrograde, in Leo, and until next week, still disconnected from intimate interactions with all other planets, except the Moon. This Martian “attachment disorder” ends this week, when Mars opposes the Sun/Venus conjunction, in Aquarius. Be prepared for sparks to fly, as more than a month of congested retrograde frustration finally has something to shout about. Mars is, after all, in Leo, a position that feeds a need for drama so don’t be surprised if previously postponed meltdowns can no longer be denied. We have nearly seven more weeks of Mars Retrograde, which could translate into seven more weeks of feeling thwarted or discouraged, or into seven more weeks of reflecting on where your ambitions might be best realized through individual creative endeavor.

Unfortunately, we are also in the grip of a Saturn/Pluto square. (Yes…I did forget to mention this square in last week’s column.) This abrasive interaction fuels a fervent, obsessive devotion to principles, ideologies, and perspectives, so don’t expect you or those you love to be inclined toward compromise any time soon. The next exact contact between Saturn and Pluto is January 31, and as they tighten their grip, we could experience the “tightening” of political and religious rhetoric. As the hyperbole ramps up, so will the urge to take a stand. (Personally, I think we should agree to a moratorium on political and religious commentary until we can hold a position of respect for differences of opinion. But I realize I’m a dreamer.) The good news is that a Sun/Venus conjunction, in Aquarius, trines Saturn, soothing some of the strident edges of this square. Try to think about the effect of your criticism before you start pointing or wagging a finger. What we need more of in the world is compassion, not hard ideological stances that only exacerbate already polarized positions.

When Jupiter entered Pisces on January 17, it moved into a sextile with Pluto. Jupiter/Pluto contacts are fundamentally about power. Sextiles are positive interactions. Jupiter in Pisces is about expansive empathy, which means this sextile has the potential to generate genuine compassion.

As the week unfolds, you may find yourself wishing you had an oxygen tank attached to your cell phone, but I don’t think there is an app for that, yet. So keep breathing your way through the days and at every opportunity offer a helping hand to those in need.

January 13, 2010
The stars and planets dial up seven new signals this week, and as these celestial signatures shift, daily life here on Earth becomes increasingly discombobulating. Write “it” down, even if your memory is impeccable, because tracking and adjusting to these many new directions is sure to strain the brain. Also, set your internal compass on steady. Not every new planetary wave offers a smooth ride, and several are more than a little bumpy.

(1) Mercury goes Direct on January 15 – that’s the good news, especially if you’re champing at the bit to get new plans and projects up and running. Mercury symbolizes all things related to language and communication, as well as travel and commerce. It has been retrograde since the day after Christmas. No one seemed to mind Mercury’s slo-mo rewind during the holidays, but now most of us are ready for a different pace. Just remember the three-day rule: It takes Mercury time to gather its forward momentum, which means January 15 through 18 is still a rough ride.

The not so good news is that Mercury forward motion is encumbered by several other events, none pernicious, but all of which are likely to throw a monkey wrench into regular routines until we make the necessary adjustments.

(2) Saturn goes retrograde on January 13. Saturn’s retrospective lasts until May 30, and during those five months, it will move back into Virgo, for the last and final opposition with Uranus, in Mutable Signs (more about that in the weeks to come.) As Saturn reflects, we do too, so be prepared to revisit choices, especially decisions related to relationships.

(3) A Solar Eclipse on January 15 is likely to cause a tremor in the force, as unconscious drives overshadow conscious concerns. While it isn’t always easy to follow an intuitive flow, this would be an opportune time to set an intention to start listening more carefully to your deeper, internal guidance.

(4) Jupiter moves out of Aquarius and into Pisces on January 17, and as the planet of good fortune moves from an Air Sign to a Water Sign, some of us could experience increased emotional intensity and sensitivity.

(5) and (6) On January 18, Venus moves into Aquarius, quickly followed by the Sun’s entry into Aquarius on January 19. As these two brilliant lights travel in tandem through the deep creative current of Aquarius, they illuminate innovation and invention. Remember, each of us has every Sign somewhere in our birth chart, so all of us will experience this Sun/Venus conjunction somewhere in our lives.

(7) The only real problem is Mars, retrograde in Leo, which, for the next couple of weeks, is unattached to any major planetary pattern. Yes… Mars is touched by the Moon, as the Moon moves through its normal cycle, but the contact isn’t long enough to gain traction in any true Martian sense: focused ambition and determination. Mars’ “single” status contributes to the confusion because while lots of energy is moving, most of what occurs feels intermittent, disconnected, and more than a little frustrating.

This would be an excellent week to make patience a personal practice. So many shifts are happening simultaneously that most of us will simply be struggling to keep up.

January 6, 2010
The first working week of 2010 begins with a strange astral disconnect, so don’t be dismayed if expectations about a fresh start in the New Year seem impossible to actualize. In one dimension of the holographic planetary picture, a strong current of change motivates the desire to shift attitudes and behavior, but another equally strong current insists on introspection before innovation. While these two forces don’t directly oppose each other, their combined influence could cause confusion about where time and energy might be best spent. A third equally powerful stream motivates a practical attitude toward plans and projects that’s guaranteed to yield tangible results, but that strong urge to “make it so” clashes with a paralyzing need for perfection. The remedy for this hodgepodge would be to take no unnecessary action and to use this time to sort through priorities, with an eye toward organizing time and energy.

A Sun/Uranus sextile supports creativity, as well as the need to break free from limitation. This is a positive signature that’s sure to motivate resolutions aimed at self-improvement. Just be aware, this combination can also stimulate impulsive decisions you might later regret, so try to think before you leap into or out of situations capable of miring you in lasting consequences.

The good news is that Mercury Retrograde, in effect until January 15, is an invitation to spend at least a little time considering the consequences before initiating anything new. Mercury Retrograde is a great time for review, reflection, and reconsideration about what’s already in motion. Mercury is Retrograde in Capricorn, an exceedingly practical Sign, and it is currently conjunct the Sun and Venus. A Mercury/Sun conjunction can translate into a lack of subjectivity, and when you add Venus to the mix, that already slightly skewed point of view concentrates on concepts of love. There are two problems with this configuration: (1) As Mercury moves away from Venus, it moves into a conjunction with Pluto, a position that could turn some of those amorous ideas obsessive or compulsive. (2) Saturn squares Pluto and Mercury, a position that’s fraught with impatience, as well as the tendency to fixate on the flaw. This Mercury/Saturn/Pluto combination is in effect until January 25, and during this phase it would be wise to avoid harsh, judgmental pronouncements, especially if those statements foster polarization as a solution to what ails.

But it’s Mars Retrograde that skews the week toward strange. Mars, like Mercury, drives the mechanics of daily life, and its forward moving, let’s-get-it-done vigor is never happy moving behind instead of ahead. What worsens this retrograde position, is an absence of direct contact with any planet other than the Moon – at least for the next couple of weeks, a condition that’s likely to translate into a deepening sense of personal frustration that is certain to erupt emotionally, which means acting out is probable.

There wasn’t a lot of time during the holidays to reflect on the year that was ending or to clarify expectations for the future, but there is still time and opportunity for a thoughtful and thorough review.

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