Aquarium Age by Ralfee Finn
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Weekly Frequency 2006

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 27, 2006
This week, erratic planetary rhythms bump us from one official year to another. Normal routines, especially traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations, are more than a touch eccentric. And nervous systems, yours or others, could be just a little edgy. I’m not talking wild upset—it’s more like a persistent buzz right beneath the surface of activity that makes it hard to settle down or settle in. Concentration won’t come easy so if there are plans or projects demanding attention, do whatever it is you do to stay focused.

The thing is, this buzz is all too familiar. Jupiter and Uranus are at it again. In 2006, a trine between this dynamic duo shook the status quo and moved many of us into surprisingly new perspectives on several old issues. In 2007, a Jupiter/Uranus square also shakes a few rattles at stagnant situations, and the noise of that astral dance is certain to disturb the peace, inside and out, personal or collective. Normally, the trine would be seen as a positive influence and the square, negative. But Uranus is unpredictable, which means its impact could be reversed, so if you were unnerved by 2006, you might be comfortable in 2007—or the opposite might also be true. Yet one thing is certain in the midst of all this uncertainty: there will be plenty of opportunities to move out of “stuckedness” into movement, and out stagnation into flow.

The other big contributor to the buzz is Pluto. 2007 is the last full year of Pluto’s journey through Sagittarius, which began in 1995. As Pluto ends this cycle it will highlight the major issues of the last eleven years, which means old themes, dressed in drag or disguised as new lovers, careers, or friends may make a comeback. Currently, Pluto is sitting on the galactic center. It sat there from January-May of 2006, and yes, I know, I should have mentioned this earlier. But frankly, it’s only through hindsight that I’ve been able to make any sense how that position could translate into earthly experience. Pluto will sit there again from July-October 2007. This year, I promise to spend a lot of time talking about the implications of that contact. This week, it’s enough to say that the inexplicable rumble beneath most of 2006 was the sound of Pluto touching the heart of our galaxy.

This week’s buzz, while unsettling can be put to good use reflecting on the events of 2006 from yet another perspective—try stepping into the shoes of another and seeing certain circumstances through his or her eyes. Also, the buzz can be transformed into excitement about the future, if you’re willing to make transformation your main event.

December 20, 2006
It’s Solstice time, again—December 21st, 7:22 PM EST—and time to celebrate the return of the light (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) and the start of another year. While pop culture tends to translate “solstice” as “shop ‘til you drop’ or ‘party hardy’, what the word solstice really means is “the sun’s standstill” because during the Solstice (Winter or Summer) the sun appears to be rising and setting in the same position on the horizon. It’s a physical event with a metaphysical meaning: the triumph of light over dark and the eternal renewal of life. From Christmas to Hanukkah to Yule to Yalda this solar victory has been celebrated for thousand of years, in a multiplicity of cultures, and a variety of languages. This week, the stars support contemplation of the sun’s stillness. But just like last week, they also promote participation in a multitude of seasonal excesses, and that means balance continues to be the key to happiness. 

The source of excess is a concentration of planetary activity in Sagittarius. Four planets—Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Pluto—form two sets of conjunctions. (1) A Mercury/Pluto conjunction triggers and unrelenting intellectual curiosity that just won’t take “no” for an answer because there must be a way to logically explain everything, including the unexplainable. Go ahead—try to figure it out, but remember, some things are always going to be inexplicable—and that’s probably a good thing.  (2) A Jupiter/Mars conjunction continues to stoke the fire of ambition and spark decisive action. A word of caution: Apply the intellectual scrutiny of Mercury/Pluto before you make a commitment you might regret. Our pal Uranus still squares both Jupiter and Mars, which makes impulsive decisions probable. Remember the Uranus motto: Marry in haste, regret at leisure.

Speaking of impromptu romance, a Uranus/Venus sextile could generate a lot of action under the mistletoe, and while this positive action doesn’t last long, it could catalyze more than a few steamy encounters.

No matter how you celebrate the season of light, be sure to make time to experience the transition from old to new. Much can be gleaned in the liminal space of the next several days, especially how the dance between the dark and the light was reflected through the mundane events of your life. As always, be generous of spirit and as kind as possible to all living beings. And like the Sun, allow your light to illuminate the darkness whenever you can.

December 13, 2006
‘Tis the season of celebration, but ‘tis also the season of hibernation, and this week, as the urge to party clashes with the urge to withdraw, contradiction is sure to cause a little stress. Don’t be surprised if you or those you love start melting, and be prepared for those meltdowns to be surprisingly articulate—everyone is still saying a little more than necessary, and this week, the tendency toward verbal excess could prompt some of us to say things we might later regret. Remember, this is also the season of good will, so instead of being grudging, be gentle.

The epicenter of this week's intensity continues to be the interplay between Uranus and all those planets—this week, it’s five—lined up in Sagittarius. Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, the Sun and Pluto are all moving through Sagittarius, the Sign that signifies the cultivation of inner experience. But here’s where it gets interesting: Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Jupiter is social—very, social, so social that even when it’s seriously devoted to religious practice, Jupiter prefers a monastic setting rather than individual asceticism. The current planetary concentration in Sagittarius amplifies that innate Sagittarius/Jupiter conundrum of inner versus outer, and turns the problem into a tug of war that’s likely to scatter energy far and wide, as well as translate determination into distraction. If you’ve got something to do, do whatever it takes to stay focused.

But that’s not all. This week, Uranus, that planetary rabble-rouser amps up the entire bundle, as it squares Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury, and catalyzes a need to break free from traditional behavior. Uranus loves provocation and thrives on surprise, which makes it hard to predict how its presence plays out. But don’t be surprised if one minute you love the whole word and the next minute you want to hide that love away because the whole world doesn’t love you the way you thought it would—or should. Also be prepared for conflicts over things said carelessly. But before you retaliate in kind, remember, most of us are sure to be saying just a little bit too much, so leave room for glib slips of the tongue—yours or others. And when possible, make “forgiveness” your mantra.

This year, a devotion to moderation would be the best way to handle the seasonal struggle between extroversion and introversion, but resisting the current climate of excess requires an almost superhuman effort. So rather than spend your energy, save your strength, and embrace contradiction: party hardy, but also make room on your dance card for enough quiet time to maintain your center.

December 6, 2006
You won’t have to give anyone anything to talk about this Holiday Season—tongues are going to wag about every little detail of every little thing, 24/7. And some of us (of course, not thee or me) are even going to make stuff just to make sure they are in the game. So if you’ve got a secret (and who doesn’t) it might be wise to figure out a way to hold on to it—a vow of silence, perhaps or maybe hypnosis. Because once the parties start, they aren’t going to stop, and as the already compulsive need to “share” combines with the seasonal compulsive need to revel, holding back will take gargantuan effort.

Six planets—the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Pluto, and Mercury (on Friday)—in Sagittarius are at the heart of this week’s need to speak.  As every Sagittarius (or friend of a Sagittarian) knows, Sagittarius loves—l-o-v-e-s—to talk. So this concentration of planets is certain to stimulate dialogue about anything—anything at all. Just be aware, Sagittarius is also well known (okay, infamous) for always saying a little more than necessary. And this week, a Mars/Mercury conjunction amplifies that loquacious leaning. Mercury signifies language and communication, Mars represents movement, and when they unite, minds work overtime and conversations mimic streaming video—it’s in your head and out of your mouth before you have a chance to reconsider.

But that’s not all. Uranus tweaks much of what’s said, as well as done, toward the eclectic and the galactic, which means Santa is likely to look more like ET than a member of the Claus Clan and the Chanukah Bush, more like a Triffid. A Uranus/Sun square is currently skewing human behavior more than slightly eccentric, so don’t be surprised if simultaneously individual efforts to deviate from the norm create new collective trends—how about a puce and purple Christmas? What’s more, over the next few weeks, Uranus squares Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter, catalyzing a new interpretation of the story of Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer” into a musical entitled “I gotta be free. I gotta be me.”

It’s been an intense year, and now as it comes to a close, some of us won’t be able to keep repress or suppress how we feel about what we’ve been through. So rather than struggle to hold back, hold forth. Just be sure to open your gift of compassion early, this year, and if too much is said by you or those you love—or even by a stranger—be forgiving, understanding, and kind.

November 29, 2006
Jupiter in Sagittarius: Part Two
It’s a stop/start, push/pull, should/shouldn’t sort of week, so don’t be surprised if you or yours feel discombobulated or disorientated by the air of uncertainty. Nothing is as it was and what’s new hasn’t even started to settle into what will be. We’re on the threshold of a new Jupiter cycle, which means many of us are caught in the thrall of the “new,” mesmerized by the possibilities and not thinking about the long-term consequences of our choices. What’s more, because the signature of this new Jupiter cycle is highly optimistic, it is possible to get swept away by the tides wishful thinking. I’m not suggesting a negative stance—not at all—I’m simply advising a thoughtful attitude that realistically considers as many options as possible.

Jupiter entered Sagittarius, its Home Sign, on Thanksgiving, and will stay in Sagittarius for approximately one year. Always larger than life, Jupiter enjoys facilitating a broad perspective and a wide view. Significantly, Jupiter returns to Sagittarius for the last full year of Pluto’s journey through Sagittarius, a transit that began in January 1995 and starts to end in January of 2008. Sagittarius is the Sign of synthesis; symbolized by the Archer/Centaur, who aims for the stars, as he is simultaneously rooted to the earth in a body, half human and half horse. The Archer represents the urge to unite instinct with reason and intuition with intellect. All spiritual and philosophic traditions fall within the domain of Sagittarius and its Ruling Planet, Jupiter. Together, Sagittarius and Jupiter hold all the stories humans have told to give meaning to existence. And that includes religion—its practice, as well as its dogma.

Pluto always examines—no, make that exhumes—the underbelly of a Sign, and because Sagittarius is about spiritual diversity, its shadow can be seen as rigid adherence to a belief systems—a one way and one way only attitude. It’s no astrological accident that since Pluto, the Prime Mover of Transformation, has been transiting Sagittarius we have been confronting the certainty of fundamentalism. Pluto’s journey through Sagittarius has also made it abundantly clear that we are a global community and what happens to one happens to the many.

As this new cycle unfolds, use Jupiter in Sagittarius to expand your perspective. Yes, Jupiter symbolizes excess and yes, again, we are sure to experience exaggeration of every size. But sometimes life needs to be lived large. Jupiter also signifies the capacity to laugh at life’s ironies and to live life joyously. So when possible, allow yourself the pleasure of laughter and the sound of a happy heart.

November 22, 2006
Jupiter in Sagittarius: Part One
We’re out of the Water and into the Fire this week, as new planetary positions shift the center of astral gravity and generate an atmosphere conducive to altered states—no drugs necessary. Just be aware, while these changes are positive, bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits are still likely to need a few cosmic minutes to adjust to the transition. Expect some mood swings, yours or others. Also anticipate feeling just a little over the top. The Sun and Jupiter leave Scorpio and enter Sagittarius this week—the Sun moves in today and Jupiter follows tomorrow, on Thanksgiving. Both Jupiter and Sagittarius, Jupiter’s Home Sign, are infamous for excess. But don’t worry about swinging to extremes—Jupiter is a big, fat, happy planet that thrives on joyous intensity. It is also the planet of perspective, and as it inhales the familiar fire of Sagittarius, it will exhale optimistic attitudes, personal and collective.

We love the symbolism of the Sun and Jupiter entering Sagittarius hand in hand—two bright celestial lights illuminating the entry into the darkest time of the year. And because Jupiter will stay in Sagittarius for the next twelve months, this initial coupling with the Sun speaks to a year of vital creativity that can be put to good use invigorating areas of life in need of enthusiasm and excitement. Contemplate where you want to channel this energy, and if you have a time over the next few days, ritualize your intentions. Jupiter, as well as Sagittarius, thrives on festivals, particularly rites of passage that transform ordinary time into extraordinary time. The Solstice, for example, is the perfect Jupiter/Sagittarian holiday. It takes place at the final moment of Sagittarius, which is also the final moment of the old year, defining Earth Time as it celebrates Solar Time.

Jupiter is also the planet of hope—its expansive, generous presence signifies the power of possibility and potential, and as it gathers strength in Sagittarius over the course of the next year, it is sure to stimulate hope for the future. Be prepared to feel re-rooted in the certainty that the extraordinary is probable, maybe even necessary for the ordinary to be meaningful. And I’m not talking about an increase in religious fundamentalism. Jupiter isn’t about rigid adherence to dogma of any denomination. Jupiter delights in diversity and encourages curiosity. So as the next twelve months unfold, anticipate more questions than answers.

Jupiter’s journey through Sagittarius will inspire great leaps of faith, and even if some of those leaps seem foolish at first, they may not be foolhardy. A hopeful, optimistic heart is a great gift worthy of profound gratitude.

November 15, 2006
This week, delineating planetary patterns is like trying to explain the season finale of Lost—it can’t be done without hours and hours and hours of complicated backstories and even then, whoever you’re trying to bring up-to-date is going to feel as if you’re holding out on what’s really going on. Or, as if you’re holding them hostage in a hatch until you figure out what going on. Or, your listener finally breaks down and reveals that he or she knew all along what was going on. And while we’re not stuck in a cliffhanger, that doesn’t mean anyone can predict what happens next. Real life on Planet Earth is unfolding at such an unbelievably rapid pace it’s hard keeping up with the daily plot twists, let alone the arc of the entire story. And this week, the planets amp-up the uncertainty principle. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a sign up on my wall that says, “It’s Uranus, dummy.” Because when the planet of sudden, surprising, startling shift takes certain stage all that most of us can do is hang on tight and wait for the waves of change to settle down.

Here’s the good news: Mercury goes Direct late in the day on Friday. Be aware, that the days following a Retrograde tend to be a little unruly. Computers, software, phones, faxes, and good old-fashioned snail mail are likely to continue to have a life of their own until Monday morning.

Here’s the intense news: Uranus goes Direct on Monday, ending a six-month Retrograde that began mid-June. When Uranus moves forward we always experience a wobble of some kind, and because Uranus has been at the epicenter of so much change this year, as it moves forward, it’s going to revisit previous “situations”. Don’t be surprised if the first six weeks of forward motion resemble a backward spin.  Previously unresolved issues are likely to appear for one last dance. Fortunately, as Uranus turns around, it forms a positive alliance with Mercury, and that translates into lots of ideas about how to catalyze what’s stagnant, as well as how to resolve those moldy oldies.

I have to admit, I kinda like the catalytic conversion of Uranus. It’s so easy to get stuck in what’s comfortable or clever. And while I don’t like the destructive aspect of Uranus or any other planetary archetype, I am willing to acknowledge how simple it is to fall asleep at the wheel of life. Uranian activity provides opportunities to wake up from a personal or a collective trance. So this week, get up early, pay attention to what shakes loose, and be determined to use these waves of change for big leaps in personal growth. As always whenever possible, respect the integrity of your fellow travelers and try to be kind.

November 8, 2006
Welcome to the avant-garde version of Mercury Retrograde where daily life feels more like a tea party in Wonderland than a slo-mo rewind retrospective on the past. It’s a perfect planetary time warp—the past is creating worm holes into the present, the future is simultaneously erupting with dazzling brilliance, and the clash between the two is generating an intense distortion that makes it hard to recognize what’s come before or what lies ahead. Confusing? You bet. Hard to hold onto any perspective at all? Yes, again. Don’t be dismayed if you’re discombobulated and late for important and unimportant dates. Also don’t be distressed if you show up early—days early—for regularly scheduled appointments. Navigating the last ten days, as well as the next ten days without losing sight of the horizon takes skill, and even the most conscious among us are certain to need a map.

Fortunately, we have the stars to guide us and even though they are sending mixed messages, their individual signals are clear. The most important bit of information is there are five planets in Scorpio—Mars, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter. Scorpio, the Sign of Survival, is also the Sign of Transformation, and this current concentration bodes well for an alchemical approach to any area of your life in need of renewal. Just be aware, true transformation tends to require a death and rebirth. So if you want to lose weight, you’re gonna have to give up cookies.

The second celestial chart reveals Uranus, Catalyst of Change in a positive alignment with Mars, the Sun, and Mercury. This combination has a decidedly martial signature, so be prepared for a militaristic mindset, personal or collective. But even if you or your boss starts barking commands don’t expect anyone to listen. Uranus doesn’t take orders—ever—and that translates into unilateral stands for independence. Be patient with your two-year old if she or he insists on saying “no” to everything. And then, be just as patient with the twenty-two, thirty-two, forty-two, and fifty-two year old mimicking the same stubborn pattern. Also keep in mind, sometimes it’s healthy and necessary to say “no” loudly and proudly.

A third map plots a trine between Pluto and Saturn, a positive configuration that also packs military might that is likely to be channeled into had work. Endurance is a key characteristic of this alliance, but the power of this trine needs to be used wisely or it will tilt toward rationalizing the use of harsh labor for the greater good. Remember, the means never justify the ends—they are the ends.

Unifying these various forces and then trying to contain their combined power under Mercury Retrograde is a task for a super hero. So rather than spending your energy pushing the river, relax and let it carry you. And remember, we’re all floatin’ downstream together, so when possible be kind to your fellow travelers.

November 1, 2006
It’s a “two steps forward, one step back, and then a giant leap into the future” kinda week as the final Mercury Retrograde phase of the year hastens a review of 2006 and assists in sorting out what’s a good idea to leave behind and what’s essential to take with into 2007. But—and this is a big but—this is not your mother’s Mercury Retrograde, and it’s not my mother’s either. This Retrograde, which began on October 28th and ends of November 17th, is in a class all its own—a new hybrid that can’t slow down long enough to take a good look at the details of just about anything. Don’t be surprised if an urgent need to push forward at almost any cost drives a need to leave the past in the dust. Just be aware, while this clash between the past and the future isn’t necessarily negative, handling the intensity of the present is going to take stamina and a great deal of patience.

Normal retrogrades are always about revisiting what was, and even though retrogrades are often fraught with hassles, delays, and teeth gnashing snafus, they are also often the only time life slows down long enough to reexamine recent choices. Yes, it’s true, retrogrades are crushing to communication, computers, and all things related to language, yet retrogrades are also beneficial to editing, tweaking, and fine-tuning what’s already in motion.

But Uranus sponsors our current Retrograde, and Uranus isn’t particularly interested in the details. It’s also not fascinated with the past. And what it desires most is revolution. Uranus is currently trining Mars, the Sun, and Venus, all traveling close together in Scorpio. As Uranus trines Mars, the need to move and to move quickly could lead to hasty decisions. When possible take your time. Uranus trine the Sun supports individual radical acts of independence from whatever enslaves—people, work, attitudes, or addictions. Uranus trine Venus leans directly toward fast love affairs that ignite instantaneously and burn out a moment later. What’s always significant about Uranus interactions is their creative signature. All three trines, Mars, the Sun, and Venus support creativity in a variety of forms—from attitudes to paint colors.

Again, during a normal retrograde, simple tasks tend to turn into monumental efforts and regular routines transform into quagmires of frustration. And while some of that wisdom may apply to the current retrograde, the Uranian push toward the future is certain to override retrograde caution—which may not be a bad thing.

During the coming weeks don’t be afraid to break the Retrograde Rules. I know that sounds like heresy, but resisting Uranus will take more energy than riding its tide. Give yourself lots of latitude, plenty of room for mistakes, and when possible extend that same generosity and understanding to all your relations. It’s gonna be a wild ride for everyone.

October 25, 2006
If I could I would open this week’s column with the music from the Twilight Zone—and not because Halloween is upon us, and life should be spooky. But because this week and the next several weeks “reality” will be extremely difficult to define or measure, and as soon as you’re certain you’ve nailed “real”, it’s likely to transform into something entirely other. We’re entering the Retrograde Zone, another planetary dimension, a time warp, where past, present and future play out simultaneously and the routines of daily life unfold in parallel universes. Don’t be surprised if ghosts disguised as people you haven’t seen in at least a decade make guest appearances. Be warned, even if you’re not all that interested in reconnecting old dots, these phantoms of the past are likely to rewrite history. And it’s not only warm-blooded visitations that disrupt reality. Desires and dreams you gave up on earlier in this year take on a new passion that propels you forward at an almost alarming rate. Whatever your experience of the Retrograde Zone, it would be best to remember not every episode is creepy or scary. Sometimes a planetary reality check is just what’s needed to restore your center.

The source of this multidimensional view is final Mercury Retrograde of 2006. It begins on October 28th and ends late in the day on November 17th. Lots of us already know the retrograde drill, but for those who don’t, here’s the skinny: Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication and language—everything. During a normal retrograde, when Mercury appears to be moving backwards, it retraces its path, and invites us to do the same. But because the day-to-day routines of human life don’t really move in reverse, much of what is contained in Mercury’s vast domain, goes a little haywire, and problems with phones, fax, computers, negotiations and anything else involving language take up endless amounts of time. Traffic snarls and travel delays are also probable. The most important retrograde rule: Mercury Retrograde is not the time to initiate anything new—it’s the time to review what’s already in motion.

But this Mercury Retrograde is anything but normal because Uranus, the Supreme Being of Anti-Normal, plays an even bigger role than Mercury in determining how the retrograde will manifest. Expect the unexpected, anticipated the unanticipated, and then be prepared for even more surprises. Mercury turns around in Scorpio, where it is joined by the Sun, Mars, Venus, and Jupiter—five planets in the Sign of Secrets—and with the exception of Jupiter, all of them will have relations with Uranus during the coming weeks.

It’s going to be a wild, bumpy, and as the Chinese would say “interesting” ride that’s guaranteed to blow minds and shatter paradigms. So do whatever it is you do to stay centered and open, and as often as possible, encourage your fellow travelers to be strong of heart.

October 18, 2006
Mercury Retrograde is a little early this fall. It doesn’t actually begin for another ten days—October 28th-November 17th, to be exact. But it feels as if it is already upon us. Not so much because computers are having hissy fits, or equipment is breaking down, but because the days and nights on planet earth are already underscored by reflection. It’s been a year of huge upheaval and the last several months, particularly July, August, and September were acutely stressful. For some of us the stress has been exhausting, even enervating. For others, the excitement has been energizing. For most of us the recent weeks have been punctuated with an almost poignant introspection.

Part of the current sensibility is attributable to several major planetary configurations. The first was the Jupiter/Uranus trine, which while characterized as positive, upset more than an apple cart—even beneficial surprises can take some getting used to. The second was the Saturn/Neptune opposition, a tense relationship that spotlighted the gaps between what need and what we want, as well as what is, and what we wish life would be.

The third combination, which is exact next week on October 25th, is a square between Jupiter and Saturn. As this hard alignment hits a hard angle, it invites—no, the truth is, it demands—a hard look at life to see how well, personally and collectively, we are able to walk our talk. This square isn’t about wealth being a gauge of value, or brains being a measure of wisdom. It is about a synthesis of wisdom with experience and the integration of idealism into the nitty-gritty of daily life. Most importantly, this Jupiter/Saturn square can be put to good use helping the development of the necessary skill to safely navigate through the constant temptation to check out because it’s just too hard to stay conscious. It’s always time to “do the right thing” but the “right thing” isn’t the same in every moment, which makes discernment essential. 

The fourth configuration is a Saturn/Pluto trine, a dynamic, positive alliance capable of providing the strength and stamina to transform what needs to shift. But with Pluto it is always wise to remember that even positive interactions tend to involve a death and rebirth, which is why one of Pluto’s symbols is the Phoenix, the mythical firebird who rises from the ashes and is reborn. Both Saturn and Pluto are in Fire Signs—for Pluto it’s Sagittarius, for Saturn, it’s Leo—positions that ignite the desire to transform through the passion of creativity.

As the coming weeks unfold, try to remember opportunities for authentic growth almost always exact a price. Sometimes we resent the cost. Other times, we pay the bill, gladly, especially when what we offer as legal energetic tender are patterns that no longer serve ourselves, those we love, or our fellow travelers.

October 11, 2006
This week, devote yourself to letting go, and not only will you align with the stars, you will also align with the spirit of the season. Spring isn’t the only time of year to clean those closets. Autumn is also a time of distillation, when the early winds of winter separate the wheat from the chaff, and we experience the spiritual longing to know our value and worth in the world.

Several astrological patterns reflect the current change of season. First, the Sun, Mars, and Venus are all conjunct in Libra, the Sign symbolized by the Scales, which represent the ability to measure and weigh choices, especially as those decisions relate to the people who populate our lives. Expect lots of people, including you, to be going through lots of changes about relating. This planetary threesome signifies an amalgamation of vitality, idealism, and the desire for wisdom that often produces creativity with a cause. Remember, creativity isn’t limited to an art or a craft; creativity is also an attitude that views transformation—death and rebirth—as an essential part of the flux of life.

The second pattern is a square between Jupiter and Saturn that’s closing into an exact position on October 25th, and as the gap narrows, the intensity of its influence expands. This is the first square between Saturn and Jupiter since they were conjunct in Taurus at the end of May 2000. Don’t be surprised if you’re revisiting decisions made six years ago. This square is an opportunity to refine your perspective on those choices, as well adjust reactive behavior and patterns taken on at that time.

The on-going trine between Saturn and Pluto also continues to tighten its position. This is the first positive contact since the opposition of 2001/2002. The interesting thing about Pluto, despite its so-called demotion, is that even when it forms a positive angle, whatever is lingering, or in this case malingering, as part of that contact, must be exhumed, examined, and put to rest, before the benefits can be realized. Unfortunately, that translates into the likelihood of many, many more disturbing revelations about what’s been going on behind the scenes, collectively and personally. And this week, a trine between Uranus, the master of startling plot twists, and Mercury, the ruler of all things mental, promises that what is revealed is sure to blow the mind.

As the week unfolds, anticipate a tendency, yours or others, to cry at odd times. From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, autumn is the Metal Season—a time to let go, but also a time to take in. Breath is the universal symbol for that eternal motion. So as you move through the many transitions that lie ahead, allow yourself to breathe, deeply, through the highs and the lows. And encourage your fellow travelers to do the same.

October 4, 2006
This week, next week—and all the weeks of October—the planets are so busy it’s impossible to condense their celestial activity down to a few words, but I’ll try—busy and busier. Every planet plays a part, and no one has a minor role. When the heavens are hectic, life on Earth pulses to the hustle and bustle of that activity, which means we can expect the days as well as the nights to be intense. But don’t worry—this intensity is more about the thrill of something new than it is about the constant drone of never ending issues. (And isn’t that a relief.) Participation is the key to making the most of this new frequency, so be active, productive, and engaged in every aspect of your life.

The Sun, Venus, and Mars begin to travel in tandem this week, and while the first part of their conjunction in Libra is wide, it’s close enough for folk music. We just love—l-o-v-e—this merry band because when the Sun and Venus share the same space love itself thrives. Not just romantic liaisons, although they are totally welcome, but all sorts of affections and attractions flourish. This conjunction is often depicted as the artist as well as the lover. Add Mars to this perfect union and pure physical passion powers all types of creative urges. Allow this combination to inspire great feats of love as it also invigorate artistic and aesthetic vision—paint a canvas or paint the kitchen, design a bedroom or take a lover to bed. Whatever your choice, don’t waste this precious vitality.

A trine between Mercury and Uranus begins on Saturday, lasts until October 15th, and in between dials-up innovation, and invention. Currently in Scorpio, Mercury’s mental might is amplified by Scorpio’s highly intuitive filter. Uranus is in Pisces, the gold standard Sign for psychic perception. This positive combination stimulates all sorts of revelations. And while that doesn’t mean everyone will pick the winning Powerball, it does mean lots of us are going to anticipate answers to questions before those questions are asked, or know who is on the phone before it rings, or hear their pets ask for treats, clearly—very clearly. The good news is that a Mercury Uranus trine provides the possibility of tackling persistent problems and finding solutions.

There are other important astro events contributing to the mix—the Saturn/Pluto trine and the Saturn/Jupiter square—but there is plenty of time to devote to these heavier undercurrents next week. This week is best spent appreciating the potency of change. So despite any difficult moments, allow for the possibility of positive, beneficial shift.

September 27, 2006
This week, shifting planetary patterns signal a change of air. And while the excitement of something new is almost always exhilarating, the actual transition from old to new is often awkward, clumsy, and uncomfortable. Please don’t judge yourself or others too harshly if you’re suddenly grumpy or grouchy—the shift is only going to take a couple of days. Also, do your best to stay present, not because these new patterns portend danger, but because they are potent with possibilities—and that potential makes them powerful. New perspectives on old problems are probable and although it would be unrealistic to expect every lingering difficultly to be just disappear, what does get resolved is likely to stay that way. So take a deep breath, plant your feet as firmly as possible on solid ground, and do whatever it is you do to handle change with skill.

One source of this week’s atmospheric disturbances is the separating Neptune/Jupiter square. This prickly, and somewhat petulant interaction has been distorting decisions and clouding common sense since the beginning of September. Now, as Neptune and Jupiter start to pull apart, not only does the fog lift and the air clear, but hearts, minds, and bodies shake off confusion the way a duck or a dog shakes off water. Don’t be surprised if you hear yourself or someone you love saying, “I’ve finally come to my senses.” But also don’t get trapped in the assumption of agreement—clarity isn’t homogeneous and what’s good for one body isn’t necessarily good for another.

Another source of shift is the start of a trine between Pluto and Saturn. Part psychic strength, part physical endurance, when Pluto and Saturn unite difficult tasks can be accomplished. This positive relationship is going to last for the next several months, which means there is plenty of time to learn how to handle its power. Be aware, this trine supports profound spiritual growth, especially if you are open to transforming old belief systems.

A square between Saturn and Jupiter also tightens its grip, but that shouldn’t be a cause for excessive anxiety—unless you thrive on discontent and are looking for a reason to grouse. But if you’re not seduced by annoyance and whining, the positive side of this square can be used to refine personal strategies, with a special emphasis on managing a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. 

Adjusting to a new atmosphere often requires reorienting your direction or tweaking an attitude. At worst, it’s a “back to the drawing board” moment, but at best, and despite the discomfort, it’s an opportunity to stretch and reach—a process otherwise known as transformation.

September 20, 2006
This week, peculiar time signatures continue to ripple across the psychic pond. Waves of memories about the past distort perception, as minutes, hours and days expand and contract with flashes of what was; waves of expectation about the future also disrupt the even flow of regular routines, as the pressure to move forward tries to squeeze out the value of every moment. We’re standing on the threshold of the Solar Eclipse on Friday, and because eclipses always stand outside normal time, they wobble daily life—the past becomes the present, the present becomes the future, and the future becomes the past. At worst, it’s a Mad Hatter’s nightmare—but don’t worry; just about everyone will be running around mumbling about being late. At best, the week is a chance to experience why some people believe in the simultaneity of time.

From an astrological perspective, during a Solar Eclipse when the Moon obscures the Sun, the unconscious overrides the conscious mind, and powerful, instinctual urges dominate decisions. Often, those urges are so intensely driven or emotionally compulsive, clandestine motivations, intentions, and activities are revealed. Some of those secrets are surprising, some are astounding, and some are likely to rattle even the most secure. Remember, before we had a physical explanation of an eclipse, we had a physical experience of the day turning to night—and that’s enough to startle lots of us into spilling the beans. It is possible to feel the effect of an eclipse six weeks prior to the even or six weeks after the actual event. Look back on what was happening in your life during the second week in August and pay attention to what takes place during the first few days of November. 

The time twist of the eclipse bends just a little more by the Autumnal Equinox on September 23rd (EDT), when the days and nights are of equal duration. While “equal” doesn’t sound like a distortion, it is a subtle break from the norm that could contribute to the wrinkles.

Another configuration takes us back to the future—a trine between Saturn and Pluto begins this week and last until mid-January 2007. This is the first contact between Saturn and Pluto since their opposition of 2001/2002. Trines signify positive interactions, but there’s not denying the decidedly militaristic air of Saturn/Pluto contacts. Don’t misunderstand—this configuration doesn’t necessary signal increased violence. What it does portend is an increase in strident attitudes—the kind of certainty that insists rather than asks—and that mixed with the right amount of arrogance, could spell hubris—and lots of it.

This week, timing is everything, but the best way to make use of your time is to stay reasonable about what you or others can or can’t accomplish.

September 13, 2006
An astrological convergence between the past and the present turns this week and the next several weeks into a reality check. For some, this time link translates into a sense that time is running out. For others, it feels as if time isn’t moving fast enough. For still more, a restless frustration at not being able to gauge time generates anxiety about being too late or too early. We’re in transition—one chapter is closing, another is beginning—and a lack of clarity about the story line, makes it hard to feel comfortable with what lies behind or confident about what lies ahead. Being practical is the best way through--chop wood, carry water, and find a routine that will help you to get grounded and to stay grounded until the fog clears.

Part of the problem is the on-going Fixed T-Square between Neptune, in Aquarius, Saturn, in Leo, and Jupiter, in Scorpio. This is a tense configuration that doesn’t tend toward compromise of any kind, which means inflexible attitudes are likely to turn into meltdowns or ultimatums. Working through the complexity of this interaction requires knowing when to take a stand and when not to. Just try not to confuse sanctimonious certainty with the courage to stand up for yourself, someone else, or something you believe in. A self-righteous stance has an entirely different physical feel than a righteous one.

But that’s not the source of this week’s time warp—and neither is a retrograde. Although we do need to journey back in time to May 2000 when an unusual aggregation of planets in Taurus—Venus, Mercury, the Moon, the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars—occurred on May 3rd.  (An exact conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn—which only happens every 20 years—took place on May 28th.) The current positions of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune as they combine in their T-Square are either at or approaching the degrees occupied by Jupiter and Saturn during May 2000. These shared degrees are the equivalent of an astrological combination lock, which means as the weeks unfold, each of us is likely to feel the ping of a cosmic click, personal or collective. This heightened awareness is an opportunity to contemplate what was set in motion at that time and what still needs to be adjusted or recalibrated in order to integrate what’s transpired over the last several years.

Time distortions often make continuity problematic, and even though we suspect linear reality is an illusion, life just seems easier when it follows straight lines. This week, as astral lines connect the past to the present, seize the opportunity to connect the dots. 

September 6, 2006
This week and the next several weeks, a jangled jumble of planetary patterns turns daily life antsy and edgy. Nervous systems are sure to strain from the stress of intensified change, and while September is always a time of transition, the next few weeks of shift are more than just “normal” seasonal adjustments. A wide range of karmic red threads, personal and collective, weave through expected routines and unexpected events. And handling those themes with skill will require a quiet humility that not only knows when to ask for help, but also knows when to offer it.

The opposition between Saturn, in Leo, and Neptune, in Aquarius, continues to keep us questioning authority, as well as reality. From a personal perspective, this opposition symbolizes the tension between fact and fantasy. Anticipate black holes to appear everywhere—your checkbook, relationship, plans for the future, or memories of the past. Also expect the weight of those holes to be more than a little disconcerting. As Neptune tends toward the “fantastic,” and Saturn toward the “stern,” try not to let the gravitational pull of attachment, whether it’s desire or regret, drag you down. Instead, consider this opposition an opportunity to examine the gaps between what you want and what you have, and you’ll maintain the necessary objectivity to steer clear of a rigid inflexibility.

Unfortunately, the ability to find the middle ground is compromised by the presence of Jupiter, which squares both Neptune and Saturn, forming a Fixed T-Square, a configuration infamous for an unrelenting insistence that just won’t budge. Given Jupiter’s tendency toward excess, the gaps between desire and reality or supply and demand are sure to amplify. Fixed Signs are notorious for resistance to change and that is likely to translate into stubborn stands. Notice where you are clinging—as a parent, child, lover, or as a friend—and then do what you can to negotiate cooperation.

A lunar eclipse on September 7th magnifies the discomfort of transition as it exacerbates an already difficult emotional climate. Eclipses interrupt the “normal” flow, and during a lunar eclipse 3-D concerns override unconscious drives. But Uranus is conjunct the Moon during this eclipse, and because Uranus specifically signifies disruption of the status quo, this eclipse isn’t likely to focus on anything practical. What’s more, even if you manage to stay grounded, your nervous systems is likely to betray that calm.

Sometimes we can ride the river, sometimes we can direct it, but there are also plenty of times when pushing the river isn’t possible. And when that happens, it’s important to remember that remaining quiet in the midst of intensity isn’t a result of impotency or indifference. It’s simply the wisest choice for the moment.

August 30, 2006
This week, the planets present their own version of The Illusionist challenging even the most conscious or conscientious among us to know the difference between fact and fiction or magic and reality.
For some of us the seamlessness of this astral conjuring poses a problem of boundaries: Where do I end and another begin? For others, it’s permission for complete projection as a way of deflecting confusion and anxiety. For still more, distinguishing between desire and delusion crazy making. For most of us, the week unfolds as a series of “situations” that require us to differentiate between pretext and authenticity. Making that distinction may require reliance on a Higher Power to guide your decisions. And if that alliance isn’t your thing, trust in the goodness of your own heart to steer you through this maze of chicanery. 

A Saturn/Neptune opposition—exact on August 31st—is the source of this week’s astro enchantments. Saturn is in Leo—an eternally romantic Sign. Neptune is in Aquarius—also no slouch when it comes to idealism. Saturn insists on restraint, Neptune thrives on imagination, and the clash between the two could produce a rigid inflexibility that scorns the possibility of hope, or the tendency toward despair when reality fails to live up to the dream. This is a moody, broody configuration so don’t be surprised if you and those you love experience increasing sensitivity.

Unfortunately, this potential for hypersensitivity collides with several of other patterns—and they are all a little rough around the edges. (1) We are still in the wake of the separating Pluto/Mars square, which was exact on August 29th, but continues to fan the flames of aggression for the next several days. (2) A Uranus/Sun opposition began on August 30th (Sorry; there wasn’t room to talk about it last week.). This opposition, exact on September 5th, feeds the need for freedom. Expect to feel a need to declare your independence. Just be cautious about who or what you rail against and how you gather your evidence. The Saturn/Neptune opposition could easily convince you someone or something enslaves you, when, actually, you are completely free to do whatever it is you desire.

(3) Pluto goes Direct on September 4th. We don’t usually feel Pluto’s shifts in a direct manner, but again, given the already intense atmosphere, this course correction could stimulate control issues, yours or others, and the confrontation could be uncomfortable.

(4) We are also in the wake of the Uranus/Jupiter trine, a beneficial contact that has catalyzed stagnant circumstances since November 2005, and is sure to provide a few more interesting surprises as it bids us adieu. Pay attention: Given the enormous amount of change most of us have experienced as a consequence of this trine, this final pass pushes nervous systems a little too far. (5) Especially as the sensitive degree of a Lunar Eclipse on September 7th happens so close to the last pass of Uranus/Jupiter. Expect emotional excess, but also anticipate many magic moments. And who doesn’t appreciate a little magic now and then?

August 23, 2006
It’s another one of those where-do-I-begin-to-describe-the-stars sort of weeks. Three major planetary signatures coalesce over the course of the next eight days, and frankly it’s enough to make this dedicated astrologer weep from the task of trying to delineate the potential territory covered by these dynamic stellar red threads. It’s rough. It’s tumble. It’s completely over-the-top. And while I can’t guarantee things won’t fall from the sky, what the next eight days are not is one long Henny-Penny-end-of-the-world moment. Certain days are gonna have more of an edge than others, which means the week is going to unfold with increasing intensity. By September 1st, many of us are likely to have melted in a pool of emotional exhaustion—but that’s next week and I’m getting ahead of myself. The best way through this week is to imagine these astral influences as separate sections of an orchestra, playing a slightly dissonant symphony that builds to a powerful crescendo over the final days of August and ends with dramatic overtones that linger into September.

Two of the three major configurations occur on August 29th. (1) The last exact contact of the Uranus/Jupiter trine that’s been at the core of so much upheaval since November 2005 occurs close to dawn, EDT (or what I like to call “O’dark-thirty”). Significantly, as these two Titans kiss goodbye, the Moon is only twenty-two astrological minutes away from the exact position Uranus and Jupiter occupied when this trine began. Which means some of us are sure to experience emotional turmoil rooted in events or circumstances set in motion nearly a year ago—or longer. Remember, this trine, despite its inherent Uranian volatility, is basically beneficial, and can be used to finally let go or to finally admit just how much you want to reunite. (2) Later that day, at dusk EDT (when the Moon is exactly conjunct Jupiter and trine Uranus) the on-going Pluto/Mars square that has been the source of so much aggressive energy, will also be exact and separating. No sugar coating, here: this square can support the determination to move mountains, but it can also be a cruel, brutal taskmaster, with a relentless need for control. Even if it means swallowing your bile, make nice, and don’t let the power of this square seduce you into thinking you’re exempt from the consequences of your thoughts, words, or deeds. No one is. And these are the days of Instant Karma—be careless, and you’ll bite yourself in the ass.

The third major configuration is a Saturn/Neptune opposition that happens at 6:43 AM Eastern Time on August 31st. This opposition exemplifies the clash between fantasy and reality. Neptune wants—well…maybe Neptune isn’t too sure what it wants, but certainly as it journeys through Aquarius, Neptune wants to soften the boundaries of separation, personal and collective. Saturn, currently in Leo, knows what it wants—clearly defined lines capable of supporting its authority. Neptune also represents magic. Saturn, reality. And the result of their clash is a conflict of faith or a crisis of trust, again, personal or collective.

Wherever and however you decide to spend your energy this week, spend it consciously, and of course, as compassionately as possible.

August 16, 2006
It’s a fire walk, all week long. And no matter how blistering daily life may become, no one is likely to back down or turn around in the midst of this heat. Five planets in Leo—the Sun, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, and by Tuesday, the Moon—concentrate the intensity, and while Leo is famous for its dazzling passion, Leo is equally infamous for its imperious authority. It is after all a Fixed Sign, a quality that tends toward a rigid insistence that its might is right—Leo knows what it knows and reckons the rest of us should know that much, at least. Just be aware, this emphasis on knowing doesn’t only apply to those born under the royal sign. All of us have Leo somewhere in our birth charts, which means each of us is going to feel the heat somewhere in our lives. So protect yourself by breathing deeply whenever necessary, and try to stay as light and flexible as possible—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Part of what makes it impossible to resist the intensity of this week’s fire, is Leo’s essential nature. Its ruling planet is the Sun—the star we rely on for life, the force that holds everything within its gravitational pull, and the core of Leo creativity. Most of us almost always define creativity as an art or a craft, but that’s too narrow a definition to satisfy the Sun. From a solar perspective, life is the ultimate creative act. Every word, feeling, thought and action I have creates my life. And I don’t mean that in a preposterous way. The sentence that followed the New Age adage “you create your own reality,” and the sentence hardly anyone heard, was “and so does every living being on the planet.” That combined creativity produces collective reality. But believing that one human being can have an effect on the collective requires believing in yourself, which is also what Leo is about—having the confidence and the courage to be.

In a world saturated with critical messages about the way each of us should look, smell, eat, think, worship, or love, believing in the possibility of personal power seems a bit mad. But that’s nothing compared to the insanity of believing in the possibility of thee and me united in our efforts for the greatest good. In a world saturated by violence, where we are told who to hate and why, and the suffering of others is served up with every meal, 24/7, believing in our own potential for peace, as well as the potential for peace in others, may be our greatest hope. For if the world is going to change, it will happen one heart at a time, creating a reality of peace and transformation one day at a time, in a domino effect of mutual commitment.

This week’s planetary fire walk is journey of selfhood. And while we take that walk everyday, consciously or unconsciously, this week we have a chance to make it conscious and purposeful. So do your best to move skillfully through the heat. Be you—all of you—and be passionate about your life. Have vital opinions, but also respect the opinions of others. As always, be kind to your fellow firewalkers. Remember, every heart is powered by the Sun and the Sun’s light shines equally on all sentient beings.

August 9, 2006
Two scenes from Gandhi haunt me—the walk to Dandi and the protest at Dharasana Salt Works. For those of you unfamiliar with the reference, the British controlled India at the time and had a monopoly on salt production. No one but the British could make salt. Gandhi defied that law by walking to Dandi on the Arabian Sea and making salt. He was 61-years old at the time and he covered 241 miles in 24 days. The protest at the Dharasana Salt Works was brutal. The police beat down row after row of non-violent protestors and while the protestors did not win, the audacity of consistent non-violence inspired the Indian people, as it simultaneously dealt a deadly blow to the presumption of the British Empire. It took 17 years for British rule to finally end, but many trace the roots of that dissolution to the Dandi walk. I’m haunted by the courage of any human being who could and would in the presence of such violence do whatever one person is capable of doing to make a difference in the world, especially when a stand against injustice means risking his or her life.

This week and the next several weeks as the planets speak to war and peace, many of us may be asked to find that courage within our own hearts. A Uranus/Mars opposition agitates daily life turning both personal and collective interactions hostile, belligerent and aggressive. Uranus is a catalytic converter for stagnant situations. Mars symbolizes the Warrior. And their combined effect is explosive. Of course, we don’t need the stars to know that. But planetary patterns exist along a spectrum of potential manifestation, which means we’re free to dial up more than one response. Gandhi had a Uranus/Mars trine in his birth chart, and while that is a positive signature, it’s still volatile. What’s more, he also had a natal Pluto/Mars/Moon T-square, a configuration that tends toward the abuse of power, a quick, often cruel temper, and a need for complete control.

Gandhi’s personal transformation of those astrological patterns exemplifies the possibility of transformation for all of us. He could easily have become the victimizer, but instead he chose the positive end of the power spectrum. And his commitment to that choice was so profound his life bridged the personal to the collective. We are all benefactors of his courage. Martin Luther King also had a difficult birth chart—his contained a Saturn/Mars/Moon T-square, a pernicious signature that he, too, transformed into a message of non-violence.

Both Gandhi and Reverend King overcame the potential for violence in their own charts and instead modeled the power of non-violence. They believed in was possible to create change through peaceful action. Choosing to live a peaceful life takes courage—at least as much courage as facing the British Empire or the dogs and hoses of a bigoted police force. Choosing courage may involve facing an internal despot before confronting an external one. Or, finding the strength to take a stand for what you know is true, regardless of what peers, family, or spouses may believe. Choosing the courage of non-violence means responding in the moment with as much consciousness as possible rather than reacting out of habit, mood, or self-indulgence. Don’t scream at your kids because you can’t handle their need level. Don’t blame everyone and anyone because you’re frustrated with your life. Don’t kick the dog because you can. If you are unhappy, do something about it. Channel this week’s volatility into finding out how you can change your life. Classes in non-violent communication are taught in nearly every city.

Gandhi knew salt was the lowest common denominator capable of cutting through the class system of India. This week, and the coming weeks, as Earth trembles and hearts are wounded almost beyond repair, perhaps the common denominator we need to move us into a commitment to non-violence is respect for the lives of all our relations.

August 2, 2006
It’s hard to know where to begin or even how to write about this week and the next several weeks—it is just too intense to condense through words and even astrological symbols don’t feel expansive enough to include the subtle nuances of a world trembling from change. For many of us, personal upheaval is at an all time high, and as most of us scurry to keep up with an unprecedented rate of change, nervous systems struggle from the strain. From a collective perspective, the planet seems precariously perched on the edge of I’m not quite sure what—weather patterns, especially heat waves, are turning The Day After Tomorrow into a docu-drama, Israel, is approaching its second Saturn Return, along with Hezbollah are redefining the meaning of “an eye-for-an-eye,” and the war in Iraq continues to be the war that will never end. And while astrology is a useful tool for identifying planetary cycles and therefore archetypal forces in action, those patterns cannot predict the future. Some things cannot be foretold simply (or not so simply) because they are in the process of being created. When the wheel of collective and personal karma is turning, that motion doesn’t always permit prescience.

Another factor contributing to the lack of clear vision is a Neptune/Saturn opposition that builds all month. This opposition is a slippery seesaw between fantasy and reality. Neptune promotes projection. Saturn just wants the facts—period. And their struggle produce the human potential to suffer emotionally over the gaps between what we desire and what is.

Unfortunately, a lucid awareness of reality is something we need, especially how reality is created through thought, word, deed, and intention, especially as we watch the Middle East blow apart. How is it that so many people can die—six million members of a single race in one war alone—and we still haven’t figured out how to live with each other in peace? From victim to victimizer to victim to victimizer and on and on and on for so many centuries—you’d think we would have learned a little something by now.

From an astrological perspective, Saturn symbolizes the principle of learning, as well as teaching. It represents the distillation of wisdom from experience. It takes Saturn approximately 30 years to complete an orbit around the Sun and that cycle is called a Saturn Return. The first Saturn Return represents an initiation into adulthood—a season of life when we realize we are no longer children. The second Saturn Return represents the threshold of the Elders, an initiation into wisdom, when we share what we’ve learned with others. Currently, Saturn is in Leo, almost exactly at the same degree in occupied in 1948 when the modern Israeli state was created. The first Israeli Saturn Return spanned several months from November 1976 to July 1977. Israel is now in warm up to its second Saturn Return, which is exact on August 19th. Perhaps it’s time to transform those swords into ploughshares and practice war no more. And not just for Israel—for all of us. We know plenty about war. It’s time to learn about peace.

July 26, 2006
I’d love to say this week is a break from what can only be called a constant stream of upset and upheaval. But I can’t, ‘cause it isn’t. To be sure, this week is the closest we’re gonna get any time soon to a semblance of quiet. But that mean it’s any less hectic or intense, and even though some of the next seven days and nights can be used to gather strength and replenish reserves, it is hardly a lull. Too much turmoil is already in motion to disappear or evaporate. What’s more, a glance at the planetary patterns for August indicate that our current collective woes are likely to escalate—a prediction that can just as easily be made watching the evening news. Earth is a planet in process. And its inhabitants are struggling to figure out how to survive the shifts. Just as a coastline changes as the result of a storm, boundaries, inside and out, personal and collective, are redefining roles. When foundations are challenged, one of the best strategies is a return to basics. Let go of the need to control or understand what’s taking place, and instead assume a beginner’s mind—discard assumption and presumption and replace what you thought you knew with an enthusiasm for growth.

Uranus continues to be the source of unrest, only this week, that turbulence is decidedly romantic, as a Uranus/Jupiter/Venus trine stirs a desire for harmonious relationships of every denomination, but particularly the excitement that comes from love at first sight. As I often advise (and I’m not gonna get tired of it anytime soon) when we fall in love under a Uranus transit, we tend to fall out of love, back in love and then, out of love, again. So flirt the night away, but try not to sign any contracts. This trine does offer plenty of support for a keen artistic eye, inspired insight, and a desire to craft a beautiful environment. Devote your time to creative endeavors and the benefits of this powerful configuration will have positive results.

The good news is Mercury goes Direct on July 28th at 8:39 PM Eastern Time, and that translates into (1) a very slow day all day Friday and (2) a (Dare I say it?) manic Monday. But that’s not all. These next few days as Mercury makes its course correction, prepares for forward motion, and then adjust to its new direction, we’re likely to experience a complete standstill. Avoid attempts to push the river and continue to focus on cleaning up the past. Surely there must still be a closet, desk drawer, glove compartment, or file folder in need of attention.

Even if Mercury weren’t going Direct, this would still be a good week to clean up any lingering projects. So use the week wisely, and as always be as kind to your fellow travelers as possible.

July 19, 2006
A recent article in the Science Section of the New York Times about rogue waves of the sea (great name for a band) captured my imagination and started me thinking about the similarities between astrological patterns and other patterns in nature. Rouge waves are giant waves, towering near to 100 feet that have the power to sink ships and/or bend the metal of those that manage to survive. They were previously thought to be made of the same stuff as mermaids and sea monsters, but now technology can prove their existence—they come into being when “strong currents meet winds and waves moving in the opposite direction.” A description that could also apply to a Uranian wave of change, or a convergence between Uranus and one or more of the other planets that produces enormous eruptions of intensity that clash and crash upon the seas of daily life destroying continuity, swallowing stagnant situations, provoking rebellion, and occasionally ferrying its passengers safely to shore.

Uranus is always about shift, personal and collective, and whether it is negative or positive, the result is usually evident in significant life-altering events. Since the middle of April, we’ve been in the wake of several Uranian waves, and many a worthy vessel, personal and collective, has suffered from the strain of Uranian intensity. One of the symptoms of this stress is oddly disproportionate or disjointed reactions—feeling sad when the situation is joyous, angry for no good reason, compliant when we “should” take a stand, or manically going to extremes. These waves of change will continue for the next several weeks. And while there may be a lull, that doesn’t necessarily mean the seas of daily living are calm. Often, an absence of activity exacerbates emotional reactions. Rather than having to cope with an immediate crisis, there’s enough room to express what we’re feeling.

We’re also still in the midst of Mercury Retrograde—only 10 more days. But Mercury’s review feels tedious in the midst of so much intensity. When life is violently exploding every day and the future seems more uncertain that it ever was, using a retrograde to slow down can seem like a useless waste of time. Nevertheless, the future is created as the past meets the present, which is why slowing down (or at least trying to) long enough to reassess recent events would be beneficial, particularly if you review what transpired from the middle of April through the middle of May.

While rogue waves of the sea can be measured and viewed by satellite, Uranian waves of change defy calculation—we can recognize a cycle and its probable result, but there is no accurately predicting the outcome. What’s more, while rogue waves are dangerous, not every Uranian wave is life threatening. Yes, Uranus is known for its instability—fall in love under a Uranus transit in April and you’re likely to fall out of love by August. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t fall in love again with the same person in September.

July 12, 2006
Daily life continues to pulse to a stop/start, push/pull planetary beat that plunders time, disrupts continuity, and turns the week into much more than a normal Mercury Retrograde Time Warp. Just envision a thousand armed Avalokitishvara: On one hand glitches and delays are likely to turn moods grumpy with frustration, but on another, an air of excitement sustains and supports spontaneity. On a third hand, a passionate determination to move forward despite the warning to wait for the “right” time provokes power struggles with another hand over the meaning and measure of time. Some hands groan with despair, others fret with anxiety, even more coo with delight, and so on through a vast variety of reactions. There’s a lot going on—almost too much to cope with, and there aren’t any simple solutions to the complexity. There’s just the tried and true method of taking life one day at a time.

Mercury Retrograde, which began on July 4th and ends July 28th, drives the sense of frustration. When Mercury moves in reverse, life on Earth takes on a slo-mo rewind feel that transforms mundane tasks into extraordinary accomplishments. Avoiding ordering new equipment, installing computer software, or setting anything in motion that will requires a quick, immediate response. As many of us already recognize through experience, the best way through a Mercury Retrograde is one chore at a time. And while the temptation to multi-task will be a constant companion, too many irons in too many fires could turn into a multidimensional mess.

Uranus provides the excitement, as it continues to trine the Sun, and even this positive union is fading, there is still room for more excitement, if only in the form of anticipation of things to come. By this time next week, Uranus will start to move back into range for a wide trine to Jupiter, an interaction that tends toward startling plot twists—negative and positive. The thing about Uranus is our capacity to feel its presence. Call me causal, but I just can’t deny a direct relationship between human nervous systems and Uranian signatures. Unsettled sleep patterns and edgy reactions will generate a very real need for grounded emotional, mental, and physical bodies.

And there’s more. A Pluto/Mars trine supplies almost super human strength to get whatever it is you need to get done, done. This trine, even though it is separating, continues to pump out intensity and one of the major characteristics of its fiery, dynamic influence is an inability to adapt to the retrograde rule of “no new anything.” Mars needs to move, Pluto thrives on that need, and together, they push toward new horizons. Venus, too, plays a role, as she opposes Pluto and sextiles Mars. Yes, this is as sexy as it sounds, and the entire bundle easily translates into seduction, as well as an attitude of anything goes if it furthers ambition. The only problem with not considering the consequences, are, actually, the consequences.

This week and next, as the past merges with the present, most of us are likely to be looking for the future, and that disjunction could be maddening, because the river can’t be pushed, or insightful, because we have an opportunity to glimpse the creation of the future.

July 5, 2006
Forget about the discipline of a regular routine this week. An astral time warp generates an air of confusion, making it impossible to settle down or in. Wednesday turns into Tuesday, four o’clock occurs at Noon, and while this time distortion isn’t quite the madness of Rocky Horror fame, the flexibility to step, jump, and slide to the right or the left will come in handy. You might even need to straddle parallel universes, especially if your job is transferring information from one source, your computer, to another, the printer. So put aside the need for a punctual schedule or a consistent agenda, yours or others, and be prepared to simply go with the flow. The good news is there’s nothing scary about this erratic signature. While interruptions interfere with steady progress, some of those interventions light up mundane reality with the clarifying brilliance that only an “accident” could provide.

The primary source of this time warp is Mercury Retrograde. Mercury “turned around” yesterday, and will continue to seemingly move backwards across the sky until July 28th. For those of you unfamiliar with the “fall out” of a Mercury Retrograde, here’s the nutshell explanation: Mercury symbolizes communication of every form ilk, as well as how we communicate through all those various languages. Three times a year (sometimes 3-1/2) Mercury looks as if it is traveling in reverse (relative to Earth’s orbit, of course) and those phases are called retrogrades. From an astrological perspective, as Mercury retraces its recent path, we review ours, which is what makes a retrograde a great time for editing, refining, and tweaking what’s already in motion. Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to initiate something new. First, because the prime negotiator is looking behind instead of ahead, and second, if communication is key to your plans—as in contracts, papers, phones, or computer programs—those things aren’t likely to be operating at full potential. Put simply, the fax starts sending messages to outer space and the ETs text back through your cell phone. And while all of the many Mercury meltdowns are sure to cause consternation, a retrograde can be put to good use if you’re willing and able to devote yourself to the details.

But the necessity for flexibility isn’t only driven by the retrograde. Retrograde. Uranus spearheads another time distorting configuration, only rather than contemplating the past, this second current craves the future. Uranus, which signifies innovation, trines the Sun, squares Venus, and is closing in on another trine to Jupiter. That’s a lot of Uranus and because Uranus has a close relationship with nervous systems, sleep patterns are likely to be disturbed—along with everything else. Uranus loves provocation, and when it aligns positively with the Sun, it stimulates sudden change. When Uranus clashes with Venus, hearts beat fast and then not so fast, a nano-second later. Jupiter turns around tomorrow, July 6th, and over the course of the next several weeks, Uranus and Jupiter once again combine to create an optimistic atmosphere of good luck.

The positive presence of Uranus and Jupiter will lighten the load of the next few weeks and help us all to remain as flexible as possible.

June 28, 2006
For the next several weeks, a two-step forward, one-step back, three-step Simon says, “leap ahead into the future” astral pattern dominates daily life. Expect to be both frazzled and dazzled by this erratic rhythm. Not only is this strange pace certain to drive control freaks crazy, but the rest of us are also likely to go a little mad trying to keep track of the ten thousand tasks of earthly existence. Be warned: prioritized schedules will be useless, as will rigid deadlines. But also anticipate a constant buzz of restless anticipation to infuse even boring routines with the hope of spontaneity and the excitement of surprise. Just be aware, while the atmosphere is pregnant with possibility that doesn’t mean it will deliver everything you wish for.

This push/pull, up/down, high/low signature stems from several sources. (1) Jupiter trines the Sun for the next tens days. Jupiter signifies good fortune, the Sun symbolizes the life force, and when they work together all things prosper. We also appreciate this alliance because it is funny, healthy, and smart, which means we are, too. (2) Uranus trines the Sun for the next two weeks, and we also love this positive partnership because when these two creative currents work together, a revolutionary spirit inspires the energy to catalyze stagnation wherever it dwells, personal or collective--closets get cleaned, offices get organized, jobs get found, houses get sold, and politicians get their own.

But there’s a wrinkle. (3) Mercury goes Retrograde from July 4th-July 28th. By Saturday, the pace of daily life will start to quiet down, which is the perfect adjustment for the long holiday weekend. Just be prepared for a rough return to work on July 5th. For those of you new Mercury Retrograde, here’s the skinny: Three (sometimes four) times a year, Mercury seemingly appears to be moving backwards through the night sky. Mercury signifies all things related to communication and travel. So when it “turns around” we experience a wobble through world. Back up your computers, check the oil in your car, pay that electric bill, RSVP, and do all the things you’ve been putting off, now, so you won’t have to do them endlessly, later.

The best way to navigate the next several weeks is to make patience your constant companion. As the I-Ching might advise, perseverance furthers, especially when crossing great water, and the coming currents require skill and determination.

June 21, 2006
It’s the Summer Solstice—the moment when the Sun burns brightest, the days last longer, and pessimists prepare for winter—and the next several days are devoted to festivals celebrating the power and beauty of the Sun. Like most holidays rooted in the rhythm of Earth’s relationship to the heavens, the summer solstice has a long history and many, many names. Way back in the early days of Christianity, when the Church was in the habit of appropriating pagan holidays, the summer solstice was renamed St. John’s Eve or St. John’s Day, and instead of celebrating the Sun, it honored the birthday of John the Baptist. Also known as Midsummer’s Eve, we’re familiar with its aura of magic and madness through Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Litha, an old Germanic name for summer, is another name for summer celebrations that include lusty reveling around bonfires; in Nordic traditions, those bonfires not only ward off evil spirits, but also assist in the nocturnal gathering of healing herbs. No matter what you call the summer solstice, originates as a festival of fertility—the fire of the Sun impregnates Mother Nature, and she gives birth to the bounty of the harvest in the months to come.

Unfortunately, the planets aren’t entirely in the mood for ecstatic trance dancing or fertility rites. Quite simply, there’s just too much to do, not enough time to do it in, and much of what’s required tends to produce stress and strain on every level—mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical. While Mars is separating out of its conjunction with Saturn and the grueling demand for precision generated by that conjunction is lessening, that doesn’t mean the workload is diminishing. Both Mars and Saturn are in a square to Jupiter, a fractious interaction that produces the potential for discontent and annoyance, particularly in the face of overextension or overwhelm. Don’t say, “yes” when you really want to say, “no” especially if you already have more on your plate than you can handle.

What’s more, a big, long list of things to do is probable. The Sun begins a trine to Jupiter by Saturday. This is a beneficial alliance that supports laughter and good cheer, but it also fosters eyes that are much bigger than schedules or capacities. We love Jupiter/Sun interactions because they are funny and happy and optimistic. But when we are under its influence, we also need to be careful not to overreach with unrealistic expectations.

This week, celebrate the summer solstice by participating in a pagan rite, and if you can’t find a bonfire, dance through the park, in your backyard, or on the way to work. Also, try to take the time to notice what you’ve planted since the start of spring, what’s taken root easily in that garden, what’s needed special attention, and what’s most likely to yield an abundant harvest over the next several months.

June 14, 2006
I have a confession to make: I’ve seen the Da Vinci Code—twice. I never read the book, so I’m considering it cultural penance that I might better serve the collective through immersion in the zeitgeist. No celice necessary—the ticket prices and the trailer for Poseidon were punishment enough. The problem is now that I’ve been initiated into the Media Cult of Mary (which strangely seems to be completely controlled by men), all I want to do is write about ancient pagan festivals and goddess worship. Don’t worry; I haven’t been in England too long.  I’m just overly inspired and a week ahead of schedule. The pagan celebration I’m anticipating is next week’s Solstice, also known as Litha or Midsummer Eve. But if my confession is to be complete, I must also admit that my fascination with the Code is mostly a cover up: I’m just trying to avoid writing about this week’s astrology because the planetary picture is simply dreary. And while I’m not exactly advising denial as a coping mechanism, this week, finding harmless activities that engage heart and mind with body and soul would be a wise way to manage stress.

The source of angst is a Mars/Saturn conjunction, in Leo, that reaches a crescendo on Sunday and then slowly begins to discharge. The problem with this conjunction is containment. Mars wants to move—and when Mars is in Leo, it wants to broad, sweeping, exaggerated movement. Saturn isn’t that interested in movement for the sake of it, and it definitely doesn’t gesticulate. Saturn thrives on perfection and an almost Zen-like economy of style. All week long, as these two gigantic forces squeeze into the same degree of the Zodiac, mere mortals are certain to feel the mounting pressure, either internally, through personal process, or externally, through collective events. In human terms, little things are sure to annoy—a missing toothpaste cap, the dirty dishes, an empty toilet paper holder. But confrontations aren’t likely to occur until the tension releases. By Monday, words said in the heat of the moment are likely to have the power to fan embers of resentment into flames of intensity. Those conversations could have lasting consequences. So please be careful and try not to shout something you might later wish you had whispered or never had said at all. The positive take on a Saturn/Mars conjunction is its proclivity toward precision—this energy supports careful, deliberate attention to detail. You just need to be careful that meticulousness doesn’t morph into constipation or paralysis.

This week, discernment is crucial. If you are certain your cause is just, go ahead and push against the river. But if the source of your insistence or resistance is selfish desire or self-indulgence, be careful you don’t instigate a chain reaction of events that will eventually return to haunt you. And if you’re having trouble identifying your intention, take no action at all and just go to the movies.

June 7, 2006
Daily life resembles a multiplex this week, as the planet produce love stories, mysteries, comedies, documentaries, shorts, and epic narratives, all of which play on several screens simultaneously. And while the days and nights are not quite as glamorous as they are at Sundance, Telluride or Cannes, the stars do seem to be having their own private festival. Those of us on earth are likely to experience this stellar excitement in the form of projections so real there is a risk of mistaking fantasy for reality. What’s more, those epics take hours to unfold—they are “historical” dramas with huge digressions into detailed back-stories—which means phone calls, casual drinks after work, or the long ride home will either be completely entertaining or an eternity of boredom. The good news is, you won’t need to buy movie or airline tickets to attend the festivities—you may not even need to leave home. All that’s necessary is a keen eye guided by intention and attention.

A Neptune/Sun trine, in operation since last week, mans the projection screen. When the Sun and Neptune work well together, imagination blossoms, as does empathy and sympathy. The only drawback is the tendency for personal boundaries to melt away and merging to make a mess of identities. You think you are compassionately slipping into the shoes of another, but in reality, you may just be trying on a new pair of your own.

Imaginal activities also get a boost from a Jupiter/Mercury trine that would normally end on Sunday, but instead gets a reboot by a Uranus/Mercury trine that lasts until Friday, June 16th. Because I’ve said it so many times, I’m not gonna say, “We love this.” But we do. Positive alliances between Jupiter and Mercury provide optimistic common sense, and when you add in Uranus, conversations turn ridiculously smart, fast, and zany.  If you’re a writer, don’t stray from your instrument of choice. If you’re falling in love, do expect to say things you didn’t intend to. But don’t worry about it—this is projection week, which means it’s more than likely whoever is listening is going to be hearing what they want to hear regardless of what you have to say.

The downside, this week, is a Saturn/Mars conjunction in Leo. (Did I hear a groan? Hel-lo? You expected a film festival without drama?) Yes, this conjunction is the fun-police. But it is also the ability to get down to the bones of things, isolate what’s essential, and then do what’s required. Just remember to respect the intensity of this configuration and avoid taking unnecessary risks—Saturn/Mars conjunctions are often a signature of injury. Avoid the temptation to be an action hero.

I’d love to say a large bag or bucket of popcorn is the best way through this week’s festival, but in reality, what’s likely to serve best is a healthy sense of humor that’s willing to appreciate the ironies of life.

May 31, 2006
The inescapable realities of daily life banish the clouds of wishful thinking this week, as a planetary attitude adjustment plants feet firmly in the 3-D. And while hearts and minds don’t quite land with a thud, peculiar astral sounds—sighs, moans, and maybe a couple of groans—are certain to punctuate the drudgery of chores and obligations. For some of us, focusing on the here and now offers a bit of relief from the ambiguity of fantasy. Plans can be made and days can be organized. For others, especially those with high or dare I say unreasonable expectations, disappointment could dial up a cranky disposition that’s more interested in pointing a finger of blame than it is in accepting the decision. But for those of us not pinioned to an extreme, the shift from the imaginal toward the practical will require more than just a little mindfulness. And because some of us are sure to resist, dealing with our fellow travelers is likely to require more than just a little tenderness. So when possible, try to tweak toward kindness.

This week’s down-to-earth signature has three sources. (1) Venus, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, just moved into Taurus, her Home Sign, on May 29th. Taurus is a lusty, earthy, fertile Sign and when Venus visits Taurus she delights in all things related to sensual pleasure. Venus also likes keeping tabs on her resources, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the midst of an extended monetary “moment” trying to figure out how to pinch pennies, decrease debt, and increase savings. Also anticipate that financial assessment to turn thorough because (2) Saturn, in Leo, squares Venus, and as Saturn applies its no-nonsense approach to Venus’ tendency toward the lavish, excesses are sure to glare.

But the most serious of all feet-on-the-ground influences is behind curtain No. 3: By this time next week, Mars will have moved into a conjunction with Saturn that will last from the 8th-27th. And while we won’t begin to experience the full throttle of this square until next week, this week is definitely a warm up. A Saturn/Mars conjunction is notorious for its intensity, an intensity that tends to manifest as either the capacity to handle tasks requiring exceptional attention to detail—and to handle those tasks well, or, the tendency to pick apart the work of others, sometimes just for sport. So try not to become hypercritical, but also be sure to develop a strategy for deflecting the flaw detectors of others.

One of the best ways to walk through a muddle without making too much of a mess is to stay true to you without being self-righteous or self-indulgent. Be true by being authentic.

May 24, 2006
An absence of planets in the Element of Earth makes it a tricky week to settle down or settle in. Except for the Moon, whose sway is essential to the ebb and flow emotions, none of other planets are planted in the grounded reality of the 3-D. Don’t misunderstand—there’s nothing wrong with this week’s astral patterns. It’s just that without the presence of Earth, getting grounded in the practicalities of daily life, and sticking to those routines, will take slightly more effort.

Here’s the skinny: The Mercury/Sun conjunction in Gemini is over, and as Mercury pulls away from the Sun, it moves into a square with Uranus that lasts for the next six days. We like this. A lot. Mercury represents intellect, Uranus symbolizes invention, and when they interact positively or negatively, the atmosphere bristles with all sorts of ideas about every sort of thing. Sorry I can’t be more specific about what kind of ideas and what sort of things—Mercury is in Gemini, its Home Sign, as well as the Sign of Information, a placement that encourages an already active planet to move even more freely from idea to idea the way bees, butterflies and hummingbirds travel from flower to flower. Uranus, which tends toward the erratic and eccentric, is in Pisces, the Sign of Empathy, a placement that makes establishing and then holding onto boundaries as impossible as capturing lightning in a jar or expecting it to strike the same place twice. It’s true—the impact of a Mercury/Uranus square can produce the potential to scatter energy far and wide, and it certainly isn’t a tool for getting grounded. But I love their interactions despite the mind games, because, Mercury/Uranus can just as easily produce an atmosphere of mental might, intellectual flexibility, and a talent for choosing the right word at the right time.

A Pluto/Venus trine turns excites the atmosphere with a desire for erotic delights. Mars, in Cancer, squares that Venus, in Aries, a clash that fuels the already strong urge toward sensual pleasure. Because Venus/Pluto contacts can turn obsessive and because the presence of Mars is likely to exacerbate those compulsions, be sure the object of your affection consents to the attention.

If recent weeks have been a roller coaster of excitement, this week is certainly won’t be as “thrilling” which is why it is a good week, despite the lack of planetary support, to plant your feet firmly in the consistency of daily routines. While a grounded position has the potential to ossify into a rigid stance, reliability, constancy, and endurance are positive qualities for navigating the rigors of existence. And not just for humans—consistent routines help all sorts of living beings to flourish and prosper.

May 17, 2006
This week, it’s a back-to-basics planetary pattern, perfectly designed for catching your breath and replenishing your reserves. And while it’s not quite the quiet of the lazy days of summer, we are also not spinning as intensely on what for some has felt like the “out of control” wheel of life. Well...maybe there is a surprise or two still on the way—the Uranus/Jupiter trine is still close—but overall, astral patterns are settling down and that translates into a slightly easier time negotiating the demands of daily life.

The Sun and Mercury travel in tandem for the next week, and when these two planets share the same space, there is a tendency toward a purely subjective outlook that makes it a little too easy to become identified with your ideas. Don’t get me wrong—a subjective reality can lead to profound inspiration. But it can also lead to a failure to acknowledge the validity of differing, even opposing points of view. Remedy that tendency by listening closely to the opinions of others.

On the physical side of life, a Mars/Venus square arouses sexual tension; the only glitch is that once the excitement is expressed, this there’s potential for a quick cool down or cool off. So try not to get yourself into situations you may not be able to handle well, and if you find yourself having to make excuses, try to be tactful, rather than blunt. There’s no need to lie, but there’s also no need to use the truth like a weapon.

Over all, this week is about returning to routines, but don’t be surprised if just when you think things are “normal” a friendly dog shows up with three paws covered in bright green paint and you can’t find a trail of prints to reveal how he got there. The Uranus/Jupiter trine is still operating, and that means surprising twists of fate are still probable. Don’t worry; these “strange” events are not quite an episode of Lost—there are no “Others,” displaced polar bears, or buttons to push every 108 minutes so the earth will stay on its path around the sun. And the ethers are humming with the possibility of change, which means not only could reality shift in an instant, but also that nervous systems are struggling to cope with the intensity of such a fluid psychic terrain. Tempers, tears, and anxiety are but three symptoms of frayed nerves; so when possible, be as kind as you can to yourself, those you love, and those you don’t even know.

May 10, 2006
It’s all about expectation, this week, as the planets continue to align in a magical pattern, making hearts beat faster and pulses ping with a not quite nameable anticipation. But because unforeseen schemes are probable, setting the corner stone might be premature. This is not a retrograde delay—if anything, it’s the absolute opposite: daily life whooshing through space at a warp factor that would startle Picard. What’s more, the emotional component is a little too high for comfort, which means we’re also likely to encounter expectation’s shadow—disappointment. When the air is alive with the promise of instant shift, it’s easy to believe that a very specific miraculous intervention will solve the immediate problem. Moderation, while hard to maintain during times of heightened intensity, is the best way to navigate the unpredictable terrain.

Not that I want to contradict myself, but anticipating the reality of divine intervention is certainly possible, especially this week, when the “Thank the Lord” signature of the Uranus/Jupiter trine is still in effect. (Some astrologers using a narrower time frame and tighter orbs of influence—a great name for a band—would disagree, but not me. I’m for extending good news for as long as possible.) This trine feeds optimism, as well as fortunate, fortuitous opportunity. But that doesn’t mean it supports reckless behavior—Uranus/Jupiter is not an “anything goes” free pass to prosperity. Which is why disappointment might be doggin’ some tracks, and sadness or frustration could replace excitement, particularly as this shadow energy couples with the projection potential of a Neptune/Sun square. Neptune is, after all, the Trickster, and when it clashes with the Sun, the possibilities of seduction and self-delusion escalate. Not that every dream evaporates—just those built without a bridge to the 3-D.

The good news is that Mars, planet of ambition and determination, still forms a trine with both Uranus and Jupiter, and while Mars leaves formation by the end of the week, it still packs enough power to make good, far-sighted decisions about what’s necessary for success. For some of us that means finding the energy to finish one or more projects in need of thorough attention. For others, this combination is about feeling optimistic about efforts to create a new reality. And for still more, this entire bundle of Uranus/Jupiter/Mars is about a love of freedom, particularly the emotional freedom of being able to say what we feel, as well as the capacity to listen to the feelings of others.

May 3, 2006
This week and next, so much happens so quickly and with such emotional intensity that daily life feels more like streaming video than the first weeks of the lusty month of May. Most of what occurs is surprising, and even if some of what happens is expected, sudden unrehearsed reactions are likely to startle even the stoic. And because this is the time of year we plant spring gardens in anticipation of an autumn harvest, what gets set in motion matters. Not that words and deeds don’t always matter, but this week and next, Instant Karma isn’t just a golden oldie—it’s a planetary signature. Remember, Instant Karma doesn’t only mean bad karma. Instant Karma describes a function—the immediate manifestation of what’s been set in motion and its consequence.

The core of this intensity is a Grand Trine in the Element of Water between Uranus in Pisces, Jupiter in Scorpio, and Mars in Cancer. When planets transit Water Signs, feelings rise to the surface of daily reality and ripple across the pond of personal and collective experience. Sometimes those emotional swells are delicate. Sometimes they resemble a Tsunami. Because Uranus symbolizes surprise, its presence makes prediction impossible. Jupiter represents good fortune and as it moves through Scorpio it stimulates issues of survival. For some that could translate into losing a job rather than getting a promotion, and while at first glance that sounds like a catastrophe, if you’re holding onto a job that’s constricting your life force, getting fired might be the unexpected boon you’ve been waiting for. Mars represents ambition, and when it’s in Cancer, the issue of whether or not there is or will be “enough” become a motivating force in career strategies.

This Grand Trine is positive and powerful, but be aware its power also inclines toward rash behavior. Also keep in mind, as the intensity of this configuration spills over into daily life, deep emotional patterns, previously only sensed, rise to the surface.

Karma Yoga is the best way to handle Instant Karma—and no, I’m not trying to be funny or obscure. While Karma Yoga has never been the most popular yoga (there’s no DVD or other paraphernalia to buy), Karma Yoga is a discipline that helps to develop non-attachment. It is the yoga of action, which means it’s about showing up in the moment with as much consciousness as possible, and being determined to apply that awareness to every moment lived.

April 26, 2006
A clear channel of fresh water flows through hearts, minds, bodies, and souls, this week and next, cleansing, reviving, or awakening areas of life in need of hope and inspiration. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself shaking off energy fields the way a dog shakes off rain.  And because some of those shivers are goose bumps of truth, be prepared to either feel validated or slightly out of body as dreams and daydreams, musings or speculations suddenly come true or provide an uncanny vision of what lies ahead. Just be aware, this purification process also heightens sensitivity and sharpens intuition, which means foresight runs the risk of being emotionally charged. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, too many feelings converging at once could be confusing and overwhelming.

The main source of this astral stream is the on-going Uranus/Jupiter trine. Trines are positive angles between planets, but because Uranus signifies the unexpected, and because Jupiter thrives on excess, the impact of this particular configuration is both unpredictable and dramatic. Uranus/Jupiter contacts pack a powerful punch, and as the influence of this trine intensifies (which happens this week and the next two weeks) solid ground could turn fluid and what’s fluid could solidify into stone. What’s more, because both planets are in Water Signs, the wallop is emotional, especially when what you were counting on changes before your eyes, and even if what it changes into is better than you expected. Yet despite the shock or discomfort of sudden change, This Uranus/Jupiter trine is a beneficial interaction that manifests as a release valve for the stress and strains of untenable situations.

An on-going Saturn/Sun square is also in effect, and while this fractious interactions could provide critical commentary that inhibits, it could just as easily provide a grounded assessment of what’s shifting as the shift occurs. Saturn is the planet that helps us to gather wisdom from experience. If we’re willing to put aside pride or the need to be in control, that wisdom gathering doesn’t have to be sullied by blame or shame.  Mistakes, reactions, and impulsive choices are often the perfect fertilizer for powerful growth spurts. 

Because the next several weeks resemble a fantasy on the Holodeck, and because those multidimensional fantasies are likely to be packed with emotional truth, staying grounded in day-to-day routines and tried-and-true opinions won’t be easy. The best reality check will be staying focused on process instead of outcome. Process is about showing up for the moment-by-moment motion of life. And even if it were possible to say, “make it so,” the idea of controlling the outcome is an illusion—an illusion that the next several weeks will make abundantly clear.

April 19, 2006
Clumsy, Klutzy, and Clunky, three previously obscure Disney dwarves confined to the closet since the whole Snow White someday-my-prince-will-come thing began nearly seventy years ago, moderate the action this week. This gang of three aren’t exactly smooth operators, which means unintentional interruptions interfere with business “as usual,” and some of those bumps are likely to turn standard routines awkward. The more astro sophisticated among you are likely to identify the cause of these glitches as an unreported retrograde. And while the idea of a secret retrograde (maybe even a retrograde conspiracy theory) is a wondrous thing with enormous existential appeal (and don’t think for a moment I won’t be using it in the future to explain unexplainable frustration and bad moods) the crunchy feel to the week can’t be blamed upon undisclosed backward motion. We’re just in the midst of a major shift, which is simultaneously seasonal, as well as psychological and emotional. To be sure, certain facets of this transition may be inelegant, but that lack of grace isn’t meant to cause harm (although we do have to make exceptions for certain mendacious politicians and heads of state). (Did somebody say, “ouch”?)

A Saturn/Sun square is one contributor to this week’s disjointed feel. When these two titans butt heads, the clash precipitates a critical air—either you’re finding fault with every little thing or others are taking your inventory. The best way to handle this sensitivity is to make peace with the imperfections of the material world. Mistakes get made. Sometimes they are costly. Other times, they transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

A Mars/Mercury square that’s been in effect for the last week and continues until Monday, amplifies the clunk-factor by instigating restless minds in need of squabbles over ideas, approaches, and agendas. Instead of squandering valuable mental energy trying to convince your opponent, refuse to engage in petty disputes. The air will eventually clear and cooperative solutions will be possible.

Uranus and Venus are still conjunct in Pisces, a union that can translate into either erotic ecstasy that although brief is still exciting. Or, Uranus/Venus can arouse unconscious inexplicable urges that translate into rash and impulsive choices. Remember, when we marry in haste, we often repent at leisure.

The good news this week is the increased intensity of the on-going Uranus/Jupiter trine, which provides the potential to experience sudden upset with skill. 

This is one of those times when it isn’t clear whether life on earth is reflecting planetary motion or the planets are mirroring us. So do whatever it is you do to fortify your ability to discern what’s important and worthy of your time and energy even if it’s uncomfortable, and what can be sloughed off because it is just the flotsam and jetsam of daily living.

April 12, 2006
Humor is sure to be the best ally this week, as unexpected shifts turn carefully planned schedules into mush. And even if you’re anticipating unforeseen events, don’t count on that preparation exempting you from upset or upheaval. Some of these developments are so sudden you could lose your train of thought or miss your train. And while this breakneck pace isn’t quite the speed of light, it’s close enough to qualify for nicely simulated hyperspace. But don’t worry—this planetary altered state isn’t necessarily dangerous. It’s just fluid. And that free flow can either be a nuisance if you’re clinging to a rigid perspective or position, or a gift, if you’re hungry for change but haven’t been able to find the motivation to venture out into the unknown. Either way, the abrupt disruptions of the week will be easier to handle if laughter is your first response.

As many of you might have already guessed, the source of excitement is Uranus—the planet we count on to challenge the status quo. Uranus can’t tolerate stagnation—it lusts after what’s vital—and when Uranus joins forces with other planets, its eccentric leanings tend to inspire idiosyncratic behavior. Two Uranian partnerships amplify unusual developments and choices this week. First, a Uranus/Jupiter trine dispels despair, as it simultaneously bestows an air of gratitude. This trine is just beginning, but that’s no reason to underestimate its presence. A positive Uranus/Jupiter contact provides a hopeful atmosphere that helps to us recognize the presence of the divine. Just be sure to keep your definition of “divine” expansive. The combined positive power of Uranus and Jupiter supplies a spiritual perspective that transcends the restrictions of formal religion. And because it is inclusive rather than exclusive, this trine signifies the potential for all of us no matter what our personal beliefs to restore our faith in the possibilities of kindness toward each other and our planet.

The second Uranian interaction is a Uranus/Venus conjunction that is sure to manifest in a slightly less spiritual and much sexier manner. Venus is after all the goddess of love and beauty and when she forms a perfect union with Uranus, in Pisces, erotic fantasies feel so powerful it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s real. Pay attention to those projections—they could have legs. And if you are not inclined toward the sexual, this conjunction also provides a keen creative eye and ear.

As all sorts of surprises, big and small, significant or petty, flood the solid ground of regular routines, try not to resist or resent the upsets. Notice the absurd, the ironic, and the downright silly, and whenever possible let laughter soothe and smooth the rough edges of stress that are often a part of change.

April 5, 2006
For the next several weeks, planetary patterns inspire deep emotional currents, and while different sentiments dominate at different times, what underlies the ebb and flow of this wide range of feelings is love. And not just romantic love—although it’s certainly possible to be suddenly moonstruck—but love in all its many manifestations, from the erotic to the Platonic to the familial to the patient unconditional love of a pampered pet. Of course, there are obstacles to this perfection—this is Earth, after all, not heaven. But those snags shouldn’t really be too surprising. Even though we wish it weren’t so, most of us know love isn’t only about “happily ever after.” It’s mostly about the capacity to embrace joy, as well as the courage to face suffering, from the ache of anger to pain of trauma to the stigma of shame to the poison of revenge. One of love’s inexplicable qualities is how safe it makes us feel, safe enough to search the deep waters of the heart.

The source of this tenderness is a trine between Uranus and Jupiter. We love this. A lot. Some astrologer’s call this positive alliance the “Thank the Lord position.” And get this--it lasts until the end of May. When gratitude is the dominant tone, the air clears, and enthusiasm, appreciation, and farsightedness flourish, and that translates into hope for the future. But this farsightedness isn’t only about seeing what lies ahead, it is also about the capacity to perceive distant objects deep within; and to plumb the depth of internal perception is to open our hearts to ourselves.  And because this trine stimulates a desire for knowledge, the insight gained under this influence could transform into self-awareness and compassion. Compassion toward oneself for “flaws” produces the potential for compassion toward others for those very same “failings”

A little empathy will come in handy, particularly this week, as a Pluto/Mars opposition turns exact and starts to separate on April 8th. This configuration carries a “big stick.” It encourages bullies, as well as fear of bullies, and because oppositions are always about tension, on Saturday, when Pluto and Mars start to pull apart, meltdowns, big and small, are probable. While it won’t be easy to stay non-reactive, it’s worth a try, especially if that effort helps to support a peaceful resolution.

Anticipate an atmosphere of heightened sensitivity during the coming days and nights. All sorts of moods are likely, and because Uranus signifies startling developments, attitudes are apt to change in a heartbeat, especially as those you love, and those you don’t even know shift between love’s shadow, as well as love’s glory.

March 29, 2006
The big news today is a total eclipse of the sun, and while this solar eclipse will be over by the time most of you read this (it occurred at 10:11AM GMT), it’s still a newsworthy event, as well as a spectacular heavenly display. A solar eclipse disrupts the natural celestial order, and from an astrological perspective, that disruption ripples across the collective pond to disturb the normal order of earthly life.  The best way to understand the psychic impact of an eclipse is to imagine what it must have been like to experience an eclipse centuries ago. The sky darkened by a huge shadow, a gigantic flaming eye where the source of life once reigned. (No, I’m not talking about what would have happened had Frodo and Sam failed.) Certainly, an eclipse would have caused fear and trembling. Ancient astronomers/astrologers probably interpreted those disruptions as signs from the gods—perhaps a signal of political change, agricultural problems for the coming season, or war. And while today’s astronomers can explain what happens during an eclipse, I’m not convinced knowing the mechanics neutralizes the deeper psychic disruption. I’m even willing to speculate that despite our scientific understanding, we feel the sky darken (even when we don’t see it) and those feelings translate into an intense need for safety and security. Don’t be surprised if you’re more than a little apprehensive today or even a tad cranky. Most of us like life to move in predictable patterns and when those routines are subverted we tend to feel threatened.

During a solar eclipse, the Moon overshadows the Sun. In astrological terms, the Sun represents the conscious self—ordinary consciousness, taking care of earthly affairs. The Moon represents the unconscious—not quite extraordinary consciousness, but definitely a repository for the vastness of the human psyche that’s often only within reach through dreams, visions, poetry, music, and other means of “soul retrieval.” An eclipse offers the rare opportunity for the unconscious to override conscious perception; the veils part—if only for a brief moment—to reveal the powerful motivations we aren’t aware of. And while those unconscious intentions are often challenging to accept, denying their power doesn’t defuse their intensity. We can fear its power and do our best to block it out. Or, we can accept its mystery and do our best to make the unconscious user-friendly, although that doesn’t guarantee tangible benefits. And even if we manage make friends with our unconscious that alliance isn’t likely to translate into greater control or certainty. Despite our best efforts to delineate the mechanics of the psyche, it will always have the power to disrupt and disturb the “normal” order.

This week, allow your conscious mind to open a window to the sky. Be receptive to the messages of your unconscious, especially your dreams. And pay attention to the “signs”—disruption can often be beneficial, particularly if you are in need of a change.

March 22, 2006
Several stellar events punctuate the next seven days, turning the start of the spring season into a parade of stars. Okay, I just couldn’t resist the tacky opening, but my indulgence in a cheap thrill doesn’t make the astrological information any less true: Mercury goes Direct on Saturday, March 25th; Pluto goes Retrograde on Wednesday, March 29th, and sandwiched between these two directional shifts, is a total eclipse of the Sun, also on March 29th. Put simply, it’s a planetary time wobble that’s likely to turn a minute into an hour and a second into forever. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but that doesn’t mean the days won’t feel strangely stretched. If you’re self-employed, expect the days to be filled with constant and necessary interruptions that make tackling required tasks almost impossible. If you’re holding down a steady job, as most of us are, this time warp is certain to redefine overtime. So try not to fret if you lose your watch or suddenly start channeling the White Rabbit. Time warps aren’t only discombobulating. They can also be fruitful, especially when disruption reveals previously overlooked information.

When Mercury seemingly changes direction, the days surrounding that shift in motion have a signature all their own called “The Three Day Rule.” Of course, we know no planet actually alters its orbit around the Sun, but astrologers have noticed a peculiar elasticity to the days preceding and following a “course correction.” According to that rule, Monday, March 27th would be a little sticky and not the best time to press forward with new projects, but Tuesday, March 28th would be perfectly turbo charged for progress. But this Mercury Direct is an exception because eclipses alter the “normal” rhythm of daily life, and the Solar Eclipse on March 29th, alters the rules and sends early wobbles through the 27th and 28th. What’s more, during a Solar Eclipse, the Moon, which represents the power of the unconscious, overpowers conscious concerns. The result of this “reversal” is a highly charged atmosphere that illuminates underlying motives. Pay attention to what’s said by you or others, and you’re sure to glimpse the shadow or unconscious, hidden forces driving certain crazy-making situations. But that’s not all. When Mercury goes Direct on March 25th, it forms a close conjunction with Uranus—a configuration known for surprising innovation and inventiveness, as well as startling revelations.

While most Pluto bumps tend to go unnoticed, this Plutonian turn around follows so closely on the heels of the eclipse we’re could experience some sort of astral bump. But then, again, the eclipse effect could easily override any other planetary pattern.

The next few days offer a distinctive display of planetary activity. And despite our scientific understanding of the planetary motion, particularly the physical mechanics of an eclipse, a total eclipse of the Sun is still a wondrous event. So give yourself permission to be dazzled and allow the power of the planets to provide a sense of awe.

March 15, 2006
So I’m having a deeply personal Mercury Retrograde experience—all I want to do is write about the past and how it relates to the present. But I’m also reading a book, The Stars Down to Earth, by Theodore Adorno who thought that astrology columns were instruments of authoritarianism, and that information is making me self-conscious about offering advice about how to see the past in order to frame the present so that the future will be brighter. It’s so retrograde my head is exploding. But that’s not all.  Yesterday there was a Lunar Eclipse with the Moon in Virgo  (one of Mercury’s Home Signs) and that added yet another dimension to an already multidimensional free-for-all. A Lunar Eclipse is supposed to focus consciousness in the “here and now”, but I just can’t wrap my head around the present without referring to the past. Mercury is, after all,the only astro action hero that moves between heaven and hell in the blink of the mind’s eye, and my eye wants to look behind instead of ahead. But before I indulge that desire, for those of you looking for the current take—we’re in the middle of Mercury Retrograde; it won’t be over until March 25th and that makes Monday, March 27th the day to move ahead with plans and projects. What’s more, because this retrograde holds a strong Uranian signature, for the next ten days, nervous systems are likely to strain from the shock waves of recent surprises, personal and collective.

Now, back to the past, and a look at two agents of change: Pluto and Uranus. As I mentioned last week, Pluto began transiting Sagittarius in 1995, a journey that ends at the end of 2008. The midpoint of that transit occurred in 2001 and 2002, a focal point punctuated a Saturn/Pluto opposition, as well as symbolized by September 11th.   Uranus is currently in Pisces, a transit that began in March of 2003, when the War in Iraq also began and ends in 2010. For the next year, Uranus moves back and forth at the halfway point of its journey through Pisces, a position that squares the middle degrees of Sagittarius. This does not mean history will repeat itself. What it does mean is that we are at an important juncture—a point in time that might be best spent revisiting reactions to the Saturn/Pluto opposition, both personal and collective. Much was set in motion by our collective fear, grief, and anger; some choices were positive, while others have had incomprehensible detrimental consequences. Interestingly, Saturn also touches those same degrees this summer, only this time, rather than the stress of an opposition or a square, Saturn provides the potential for positive structural support that could allow for significant changes.

As the next weeks and months unfold, stay open to the possibility of revisiting reactions made in the intensity of the moment—reactions that at the time felt necessary but over time have revealed the need for review.

March 8, 2006
Just in case you were wondering exactly when it was that the same demon that sucks the socks in the dryer possessed your computer, car or cell phone, it was last Thursday, March 2nd. That’s the day Mercury began its first retrograde phase of the year, a phase that will last until March 25th, and a phase when all things related to communication and travel seem to have a life of their own. Patience works better than garlic during a retrograde, so do whatever it is you do to stay calm and tolerant in the midst of the many mini-breakdowns, mechanical or human that are sure to occur during the next couple of weeks.

A Uranus/Mars square is in effect for most of this Mercury Retrograde, which makes handling the frustration factor attached to any retrograde a little trickier and testier than normal. Uranus square Mars is a pernicious influence infamous for accidents. Both planets signify energy and its movement—Uranus is erratic and unstable; Mars is forceful and physical. So don’t suddenly decide to speed through a red light or cut off the person behind you. Try to be polite, but don’t expect a mutual effort—“polite” isn’t a keyword for Uranus or Mars.

Currently in Pisces, Mercury began its retrograde in a square to Pluto, in Sagittarius. Both Sagittarius and Pisces are “spiritual” signs (not that the other Signs of the Zodiac aren’t). But Sagittarius specifically represents the quest for spiritual truth through classical traditions of every denomination, and Pisces is the symbol for mystical religious experiences. The shadow of the Sagittarian quest for meaning and “truth” is fundamentalism, particularly religious fundamentalism, and specifically the kind of dogma that denies the validity of diverse points of view. As we know, here on earth that translates into as many explanations of the meaning of life as there are living beings.

Pluto has been transiting Sagittarius since 1995 and completes that journey in 2008. Pluto signifies the process of transformation, and because it represents the principle of death and resurrection, it also symbolizes issues of power and control. Certainly, during the last decade, the issues of religious freedom, practice, and the struggle for dogmatic ideological control is one of the main themes stirring collective, as well as personal caldrons of change.

Pisces is the Sign of the cosmic urge to merge, and among its many characteristics is the capacity to experience the vast and mostly incomprehensible presence of the Great Mystery. The shadow of Pisces is the inability to establish or hold onto healthy differentiation—it’s a sort of dysfunctional boundlessness that either can’t or won’t acknowledge real differences or admit that sometimes everything isn’t really everything else.

Mercury symbolizes mental processes, and when it connects with Pluto, the combination promotes the potential for deep thinking—never a bad idea, unless you are on vacation. Use this retrograde phase to probe problem situations. Just don’t expect an instant solution—this is a retrograde, after all, with a timetable all its own, which is why patience is the perfect remedy for all that ails.

March 1, 2006
As I write this, a week ahead of publication, the deal to hand over the management of American Ports of Call to a Dubai company is making headlines—as it should. It is a reversal of fortune so staggering it’s hard to believe. Just trying to write about it makes me think it must be one of those Internet conspiracies where misinformation saturates the airwaves to such a degree it’s believed even though it isn’t true. But, alas, it is—so true, that this week, and the next several weeks, no one will need an astrologer or any other commentator to validate personal or collective dissonance. Life on earth is simply completely topsy-turvy and trying to make sense of any or all of the changes just won’t be possible. So rather than bend your head, take a deep breath and just keep breathing through the intensity.

From an astrological perspective it is a sequence of startling plot twists catalyzed by Uranus, the planet that makes shift happen.
And there is certainly plenty of shift to go around—Uranus is conjunct the Sun, and Mars squares both the Sun and Uranus. This is a fractious bundle that tends toward rash action and catastrophe, characteristics associated with Uranus through its Ancient Greek myth. For those of you unfamiliar with this story, here’s the poop: Uranus is the sky god, created by Gaia, the Earth; Gaia and Uranus (the Earth and the Sky) have sex, and all the inhabitants of the planet, including other gods and goddesses come into being. Unfortunately Uranus doesn’t like some of his children and tries to stuff them back into Gaia’s womb. But Gaia isn’t down for this reversal of natural order, so she enlists the help of one of her children, Kronos (aka Saturn) to kill Uranus, which Kronos does by castration. Kronos then becomes the head god, and as they say, the rest is history, as well as a fine example of how children supplant their parents and gods seize power from other gods.

From a current perspective, personal and collective, the combined force of Uranus, Mars, and the Sun produces the potential for rash behavior. It also turns certain situations explosive with an impatient need for action, even if that activity only exacerbates existing problems.

But that’s not all the astro news: Mercury goes Retrograde tomorrow and stays that way until March 25th. Here’s the retrograde drill: don’t install new software, try to avoid making travel plans, avoid expecting anything related to communication to go smoothly, and do your best to review what’s already in motion rather than start anything new.

The erratic frequency of this week and the next several weeks could strain nervous systems, so do whatever it is you do to soothe your heart and soul. And above all, try to be kind to your fellow travelers.

February 22, 2006
Erratic planetary patterns transform the routines of daily life into a symphony of staccato rhythms that coalesce into a discombobulating atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if the days of the week lose their continuity, schedules seem detached from clocks, or accidents of the unusual kind interfere with “normal” procedures. What’s more, while being prepared for weirdness can often help to soften the shock, preparation for a poltergeist won’t necessarily forestall its appearance.

As many of loyal readers have probably guessed, Uranus is at the heart of these “paranormal” experiences. For those of you new to astro-world, Uranus signifies eccentric, eclectic, and electric currents of every ilk, and when it shares the same space with the Sun, it catalyzes unconventional behavior in sentient and non-sentient beings. But just because the toaster may not work and your regularly reasonable significant other attempts appliance healing with a sledgehammer, that doesn’t mean this Uranus/Sun conjunction isn’t without its perks.  Both Uranus and the Sun symbolize creativity and when they join forces the ethers sizzle with innovation and invention and that translates into non-standard solutions to persistently puzzling problems.

The creative brilliance of this Uranus/Sun conjunction, in Pisces, is hampered by a square from Mars, in Gemini. Mars adds both might and fight and that adds a cranky edge to the next several weeks, which means tempers are certain to ignite over perceived or actual causes. Whether or not moods stay heated is a matter of personal choice, as always, but letting go and truly releasing resentment is going to take skill, especially if blaming others is an unexamined habit.

Because Pisces represents prisons of all types—imposed or self-created, physical, mental, emotional or spiritual—and because Uranus always stirs stagnant waters in need of change, this Uranus/Mars/Sun combination directly relates to the violence of prisons, as well as prison reform. Mars is in the Gemini, the Sign of information, which unfortunately means we can anticipate even more disturbing news about Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. As I write this, I don’t know how that’s possible given what we already know is impossible to believe and devastating to the heart. As is the collective inertia that still needs to be overcome before the critical mass of combined outrage can transform anger and despair into positive action and healing remedies.

Be prepared for other hungry ghosts to make an appearance over the next several weeks. Much was set in motion during the Saturn/Pluto opposition of August 2001-June 2002. And now, as 2006 unfolds, the consequences of those fear-based choices are likely to haunt us. The bad news is that so many lives have been so harmed. The good news is that we can still change our hearts and rather than react with fear, learn to respond with love.

February 15, 2006
It’s mind over matter this week as a vibrant intellectual current stimulates an innovative and philosophical approach to the vicissitudes of daily life. Expect lots of questions, yours or others, but also anticipate innovative non-linear solutions. What’s more, this mental might is grounded in intuition, a feature that makes it possible to think and feel simultaneously, which means if there’s an idea, a puzzle, or a problem you’ve been trying to unlock, there’s plenty of planetary support for groundbreaking breakthroughs.

Mercury supplies this mental might as it forms two significant relationships. First, we’re in the tail end of a Mercury/Uranus conjunction, a configuration that’s known to light up more than one idea at a time. Mercury represents all things related to mental processes—language and communication are its main domain. Uranus is a catalyst for change—revolution is its major game. And when the mind is stirred with the desire for something new, the air vibrates with creativity. This conjunction invites a direct approach that promises to find unusual solutions to pesky problems.

As Mercury leaves its perfect union with Uranus it moves right into a trine with Jupiter. We love this—Mercury/Jupiter trines always produce the potential for clarity. Because this trine occurs in Water Signs—Mercury is in Pisces and Jupiter is in Scorpio, intuitive clarity is also probable. And while that sounds like an invitation to speculate on all sorts of hunches, clairvoyance isn’t necessarily guaranteed, especially if those premonitions are subject to projection or wishful thinking.

From a slightly different perspective, feelings dominate the philosophical bent of this insightful frequency, which is sure to stimulate stagnant waters and catalyze controversial conversations. Anticipate declarations of independence are likely as are affirmations of love or hate. What isn’t likely is indifference. So don’t be surprised if negotiations are peppered with unexpected eccentric deal breakers, or opinions previously held back come gushing forth with uninhibited intensity.

Of course, none of these interpretations may apply, and instead, you could spend the week banging your head against the same brick wall, experiencing the same vacant repetitive response. If that’s the case, may I suggest a radical possibility? Perhaps the resistance you are experiencing isn’t negative. And rather than continuing to push hard against the river, maybe it’s time to let go and acknowledge that sometimes life doesn’t go the way we wish it would. While positive thinking is an essential tool in any personal power kit, there are some things that just won’t budge no matter how hard we try to mentally manage the outcome. So rather than struggle, use this week’s innovative current to detach and neutralize sticky situations. Letting go isn’t synonymous with defeat—sometimes it is the wisest choice possible.

February 8, 2006
A direct “just give me the truth” attitude collides with the complications of deceit, this week. Some of us just want the facts “straight up”, no frills. Others, who relish the embellished, delight in tweaking fiction into fact. No, I’m not talking about A Million Little Pieces—but the Frey fracas is a great example of how we yearn to put a capitol “T” on truth and how angry we get when it slips through our fingers. After all, Frey’s story is a tale of a junkie writer who tried to sell his novel without success until he finally met a publisher who said, “Hey. I have a great idea. Let’s sell it as a memoir—that’s a hot market right now.” The book became a hit, but the writer got shafted by publisher because Oprah, who helped it sell got shamed by her viewers’ Truthometer and decided the only way to redeem herself was to feed the author to the lions.

Okay—I lied—I’m talking about Frey. A lot. But I can’t resist because it’s the perfect illustration of the Neptune/Jupiter square, which started in mid-December, has been nearly exact for the last several weeks, and continues until the end of April. Neptune represents every known form of self-medication that uses a trance state to soothe the spiritually broken-hearted. Jupiter signifies the search for Truth, as it simultaneously symbolizes infinite variations on that theme. On the mundane plane, this square stirs addictive appetites. But on a different point along the spectrum of perception, it spotlights the idea that truth is relative—an uncomfortable notion that tends to disrupt confidence.

But there is another reason I can’t resist digging around in “old” news. I’m puzzled by the intensity of the reaction. First, I’m wondering why Oprah and her audience haven’t used their Truthometer to measure the lies being told daily to the American people by the politicians and corporations that manipulate the media propaganda machine. Why do the lies of an addict author generate more outrage than the lies of an administration addicted to power at any cost? Second, what about the lies Exxon told at the gas pump as it collected the largest profits in history? Lastly, what about projection? Is Dr. Phil asleep at the wheel? Aren’t there a million little stories we tell ourselves every day about who we are?

While the issue of deception isn’t new, this current episode reflects our combined collective conception of truth, and while that is disturbing, it is also an opportunity. So try to spend more than a moment contemplating how you handle deceit, especially self-deception. Do you play pin the tail of blame, or, are you willing to plumb the depths of what motivates the need to deceive?

February 1, 2006
The big news this week is Groundhog Day. On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil, a woodchuck serving as a modern symbol for the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, will emerge from his underground habitat to predict whether winter will continue for another six weeks. How exactly we arrived at Phil from Imbolc (a pagan fertility rite) to Saint Brigid (a Celtic fertility goddess) to Candlemas (an early Christian celebration of the Virgin Mary) to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and the Delaware Indians (who claimed the woodchuck as their ancestral grandfather) is another story to be told another day. For some of us the movie Groundhog Day turned Punxsutawney Phil into a household word and February 2nd into my favorite Buddhist holiday. Like a hero out of Joseph Campbell, Phil’s endless encounters with his shadow told the story of bodhicitta—the awakened compassionate heart that transforms awareness, as it simultaneously aligns heart and mind, body and spirit. And all you need is ten or twenty thousand lifetimes of working out the details through karma-yoga to get it right—a sobering, yet uplifting message, if you can get comfortable with the time delay.

Unfortunately, practicing that kind of patience won’t be easy. An Aries Moon, on Groundhog Day, strikes a strident tone that motivates a get-up-and-go-attitude that refuses to be held back, down, or in. We like this, but there is a glitch. That nearly military might collides with the confusion of an anything-goes-attitude that’s being spun by the on-going square between Neptune and Jupiter. This square creates the potential for preposterous grandiosity, as it simultaneously feeds outrageous dreams of what would or could be possible  “if only….” So go ahead and dream big; just be aware, dreams alone won’t provide the necessary framework to support a lasting structure.

Again, unfortunately, this week not dreaming would be like trying to keep your eyes open when you sneeze. A Neptune/Mercury conjunction helps flights of fancy replace the rigors of reality and everyone, not just the dogs and cats, know who’s calling before the phone even rings. Just don’t count on every premonition being entirely accurate. If you’re playing the numbers, don’t bet the bank.  One win is all you need and if your intuition is on, one choice is enough.

This week, it’s likely you’ll find yourself stuck in sticky situation you thought was long gone, or able to view that repetitive pattern from a new perspective, perhaps through the eyes of an adversary. While that polarized point of view might be disconcerting at first, don’t dismiss it—opportunities for a direct experience of the “shadow” are rare. And when they occur, they not only signal a new beginning. They accelerate progress toward a compassionate heart.

January 25, 2006
Emotional catharsis continues to ripple through the routines of daily life, this week, as feelings, yours or others, impossible to repress spill out and over into conversations and interactions, personal and professional, spontaneous or scripted. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself blurting truths you didn’t even know you were hiding. And be prepared for similar candid comments from others. The key to handling the eruptions is remembering to listen with an open heart. And while that doesn’t mean putting up with a tirade, it does mean doing your best not to shut down or turn off just because what’s being said is uncomfortable.

A Mercury/Sun conjunction in Aquarius contributes to this week’s chat-fest. Mercury symbolizes language and communication; the Sun represents the brightest personal light, and when Mercury and the Sun share the same space, there’s not a lot of lag time between what’s thought and what’s said. It’s not quite the spontaneous combustion of Uranus, which sometimes tends to blow the lid off of secrets, but it’s close enough—Uranus does after all rule Aquarius. So if there is something you want to keep to yourself, keep it to yourself by making a strong effort to think before you leap.

Saturn opposes that Mercury/Sun conjunction, a position that offers at least a slight bit of hope for a little discretion. Oppositions are always about tension and that translates into either an authoritative heavy-handed insistence to knuckle under and surrender control, or an adamant refusal and resistance to any person, place, or thing trying to exert undue and unasked for influence. This opposition also fuels the tendency to brood over imperfections, so if you haven’t already embraced the notion of “process” being more important that “product”, now would be a good time to start.

The on-going Neptune/Jupiter square continues to throw big ambitions on personal as well as collective projection screens. While some of these aspirations do inspire, others are certain to expire as soon as the reality of what it will take to make those dreams concrete makes itself clear. This square also feeds addictive appetites of every type, so don’t be surprised if you just can’t resist.

The good news is a trine between Venus and Mars signifies a harmonious relationship between the masculine and feminine planetary principles and that translates into a similar ease here on Earth. This mutually supportive relationship helps to sustain the type of openhearted listening required to navigate the week with skill. No matter how abrupt certain situations might be, use this energy to withstand the emotional intensity and maintain your balance.

January 18, 2006
The big question this week is what to do after the pressure releases and the intensity starts to quiet down. Don’t misunderstand—I’m not suggesting that life here on Earth is returning to normal (whatever that is). But this week and next the obvious tension starts to lessen. This is good. The only problem is some of us may be so conditioned to operating with a crisis mentality that the absence of immediate need or urgent emergency could be disconcerting. So don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to build mountains and pile on extra responsibility—adrenals are highly susceptible to stress addiction. Also anticipate being emotionally labile (as some of us have been for several weeks) crying or laughing with or without provocation at situations or circumstances that wouldn’t necessarily inspire a dramatic reaction. Go ahead and have a good cry or a good laugh, and don’t worry one whit about being self-indulgent. The planets have been in a tight formation for more than a few weeks, and now as the astral grip loosens, emotional bodies are likely to resemble lawn sprinklers gone awry, pulsing to strange rhythmic patterns at odd times of the day or night.

Neptune is the major contributor to this flood of feelings. While it’s impossible to corral Neptune into one or two keywords that doesn’t stop anyone, including me, from trying to define its influence. Handling Neptune (if such a thing is possible) requires getting comfortable with paradox and ambiguity. On one hand, Neptune symbolizes the perfection of projection—it’s able to delude, elude, or so precisely mimic an illusion that you’re certain the shadows are real. Of course, with Neptune nothing is “real”—well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but what the “realness” is is so hard to pin down, before you can blink you’re lost in an “oh-well-anyway-whatever” attitude. With Neptune, it’s merge first, and ask questions, later. On the positive side, Neptune represents the capacity to recognize and embrace the spiritual essence of love, which is one of the reasons it’s usually identified with mystical experience. We’ve been in the thrall of a Neptune/Mars square since the beginning of the year; today, that clash is exact and separating, which means for the next several days we’re in release mode. Neptune blurs boundaries; Mars functions best when things are definite. As they Neptune and Mars pull apart, clarity increases, but so does an edgy quality that could turn daily interactions into emotional meltdowns.

Bodies take the heat during periods of extreme sensitivity, so if you’re not already taking care of yourself physically, this week, be sure to make an extra effort. Even a short walk around the block could work wonders for the heart and soul.

January 11, 2006
It’s hard to know where to begin this week, because we’re still in the grip of what seems like an endless emotional swing of action and reaction, expectation and disappointment, exhaustion and the manic need to accomplish. For some the intensity has been fruitful—sometimes stress does bring out the best. While for others it’s barely been noticeable—let’s hear it for better living through designer drugs, or the best drug of all, denial. And for still more, it has been a genuinely beneficial phase. But for most of us the highs and lows and ups and downs of recent weeks have either exacerbated old “challenging” patterns in need of positive resolution or surfaced new ones in need of thoughtful refinement. As always the key to success is a good attitude that neither denies nor indulges the emotional intensity.

The source of these mood swings is still an opposition between Jupiter and Mars that’s been going on since Thanksgiving. The good news is on Sunday January 15th; we can finally give thanks that this planetary seesaw is settling down. But there is a hitch: as Jupiter and Mars pull apart, one side of the swing lands with a thud, while the other shoots into space, which means there’s a high probability of finding yourself stranded in an extreme. What’s more, while this release of tension isn’t necessarily negative, Neptune squares both Mars and Jupiter, a combination turns outcomes on either side of the seesaw murky with a lack of clarity.

The really good news is that Venus and the Sun are traveling in tandem in Capricorn all week long, a coupling that translates into an appreciation for grace and beauty.  Capricorn, famous for its pragmatism, isn’t generally characterized as a creative Sign. But every Sign has its own unique current of creativity, and Capricorn talent is often revealed through its earthy tactile approach. What’s more, creativity isn’t only an art or a craft, which means a conversation can be as pleasing as a piece of music and as powerful a mood changer. Use this Venus Sun conjunction to transform the stickiness of the last few weeks. Instead of regretting a pattern, old or new, contemplate how that pattern is serving a higher purpose. Even if you feel like a victim of circumstance, the willingness to even consider the possibility of something to learn could shift your awareness and transform your perspective.

As 2006 continues to unfold, continue to do whatever it is you do to maintain an even keel. And when possible, make sure that includes being gentle with yourself and those you love.

January 4, 2006
2006 Overview, Part II
I’m gonna repeat myself and say once more the key to handling this week and the other 51 weeks of 2006 is balance. B-a-l-a-n-c-e. Internal and external. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually. I’m sayin’ it twice because this year temptation to lean toward exotic extremes, break free from unreasonable demands, or mask the sorrow of disappointment is undeniable. And unless you’re committed to equipoise, you might find yourself falling into a black hole of confusion or angst. Okay—it does sound a bit bleak (but that’s not because I’m writing in the midst of winter in England where the Sun doesn’t even shine until 9 AM), and, of course, what lies ahead isn’t as bleak as it sounds. But holding on to a clear, realistic perspective about what’s possible will take determination. What’s more, there will be times when the reality restrictions of the 3-D will feel impossibly restraining. Attitude is the counterweight—so make it a good one that includes hope—especially the kind that thrives on participation in making the world a better place for you and all sentient beings.

For those of you just tuning in, 2006 opened with a square between Neptune and Jupiter that persists until nearly the end of April, only to make a brief reappearance in the fall. This is a slippery interaction that’s bound to feed the imagination, as it simultaneously encourages unrealistic aspirations. By June, Saturn puts the kibosh on the loosey-goosey and the far-flung as it moves into a square with Jupiter than lasts until the beginning of August. But just in case you’re still traveling in the realm of the improbable, by the end of August, Saturn opposes Neptune, a configuration that’s certain to squelch any remnant of pie-in-the-sky behavior.

The signature changes dramatically in the fall as Saturn begins a trine with Pluto, the first positive angle between Saturn and Pluto since the opposition that persisted between the summers of 2001 and 2002—a twelve-month period that altered the course of life here on planet Earth. Trines signify positive support, which means this combination offers the strength to stand up to the bullies who have seemed so determined to keep life mired in ignorance, and to take the power back. But again, balance is the key to success. Let power become intoxicating, and your behavior will likely resemble your enemy’s. And then, nothing will have changed at all.

The Mercury Retrogrades for the year are March 2nd-March 25th, July 4th-July 29th, October 28th-November 18th.

This week continue to set your intentions for the coming year, and as you do, contemplate how to maintain your equilibrium during the weeks and months ahead. While experience is sure to modify your plans, a strong vision is a good place to start.

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