Aquarium Age by Ralfee Finn
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Weekly Frequency 2007

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 19, 2007
The final embers of Divine Fire continue to burn intensely this week, and as they do, the veils of consciousness continue to become increasingly transparent, allowing penetrating insight into sticky, repetitive patterns — the oh-I-know-I-shouldn’t-but-I-just-can’t-help-myself-habits and attitudes — that always seem to evade an intervention or rehabilitation. But what’s valuable about the cosmic heat is its capacity to ignite the transformation. Those red threads of persistent karmic themes can be transformed into golden strands of understanding through a renewed commitment to integrating awareness into action. Put simply, if you walk your talk, you’ll experience a profound internal, as well as external shift.

The source of the Divine Fire continues to be the Jupiter/Pluto conjunction — with two slight alterations. First, the conjunction is separating, which means rather than anticipating its impact, we’re in the midst of its effect. Second, Jupiter moved into Capricorn (see the individual Signs, below) on December 18, which means even though Jupiter is in close proximity to Pluto, Jupiter has moved out of the Fire of Sagittarius and into the Earth of Capricorn, a move that dials down the intensity. But only a tad — Mercury and the Sun are still in Sagittarius, stoking enough heat to illuminate yet one more Sagittarian shadow — religious fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism, with its insistence on a one way and one way only perspective, is the anti-matter to the Sagittarian celebration of diversity. Sagittarius symbolizes the universal quest for meaning and holds within its vast reach as many belief systems as there are people searching to make “sense” of the human condition. Often what drives that search is a need for certainty — a reasonable need in a transitory world. But the need to be sure can become a fanatical adherence to doctrine that excludes rather than includes and frightens rather than soothes. Pluto’s transit through Sagittarius challenged us to confront fundamentalism, personally and collectively. It asked us to probe what we believe in and why. And it has made us painfully aware of the devastating consequences of a closed system that cannot or will not tolerate differences. Faith should provide shelter from the storm — not create even greater gales of turmoil.

This week, as we celebrate the winter solstice, and all the other holy days honoring the power of the sun’s light, contemplate why the lengthening days might have been so important to our ancestors. Did the solstice renew their faith in another cycle of life? And now that we understand the mechanics of the solstice, is it still spiritually significant? Perhaps the seasonal rites and rituals are the sacred arrows of the Sagittarian Archer, aimed high at the heavens in the hope of touching a universal force beyond the particulars of earthly belief systems? An eternal Presence we hope will help us to make sense of the human condition.

I believe that Presence is an endless current of love streaming through everyone and everything, as brilliant and constant as the sun and as deep and mysterious as the sky. A current each of us rides no matter what our religion, race, gender, or politics, and no matter how broken some of us may be by the struggle to survive. And just like the sun, love’s power sustains life. So during this season of solar festivals, celebrate the power of love. Let it light your way and inspire true good will toward all sentient beings.

December 12, 2007
Jupiter/Pluto Conjunction, Part Three:
Divine Fire continues to illuminate everything between heaven and earth this week. The nights burn as brightly as the days and the days are simply dazzling. Be prepared to see what hasn’t been seen before—there’s no place for the shadows to hide—and also expect some of what’s revealed to be more than just a little uncomfortable, if not downright disturbing. But also anticipate what’s positive to be undeniable. Pay attention: We’re in the midst of a personal and collective quickening, and it’s not often we get to simultaneously witness and participate in such a magnificent display of cosmic intensity.

The source of this accelerated frequency is the Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, in Sagittarius; it was exact on December 11. And this week, even though Jupiter and Pluto are separating, the Sun and Mercury, also in Sagittarius, join the conjunction, and their combined presence extends the effect. For new readers, the Pluto/Jupiter conjunction marks the end of Pluto’s thirteen-year transit through Sagittarius, a cycle that ends on January 25, 2008.

Sagittarius is the Sign where we reach for wisdom through knowledge that has been substantiated over time; it’s the Classics, not pop music, and what endures beyond the trendy. Wisdom is its strength, and ignorance one of its shadows. Certainly there’s no denying that over the course of the last thirteen years, ignorance has gained ground. Our culture increasingly worships form rather than content, and the “religion” of appearance has created a climate where image and innuendo, unsupported by fact, have the power to sway opinion. “Half-truths” pass for substance, and just like fast food, even though we know the spin is harmful, we swallow it anyway. When ignorance triumphs, it sets the standard at the lowest common denominator, and the bully becomes a symbol of bravery, cheating, a viable modus operandi, and women willingly objectify and identify themselves as an assortment of body parts designed solely for sexual pleasure.

As we become dumb, we also become numb. The insidious side effect of numbness is futility—another Sagittarian shadow—and a sense of “what’s the use.” It all feels too big to rail against—the government, the media, the political system, and the economy. We don’t expect to be heard. So instead, we despair and try to cope, failing to realize that impotence, personal and collective, is another sinister consequence of ignorance. Watching small minds win as they recklessly put all of us in danger has been one of the most difficult challenges of Pluto’s transit through Sagittarius. I mean, really, who would have thought we would miss Nixon?

But the Jupiter/Pluto conjunction also amplifies hope, a positive Sagittarian characteristic, as well as a potent antidote for despair. And in times of ignorance and futility, hope can also serve as a powerful subversive agent because it resists defeat. It allows us to believe in ourselves, in each other, and in the possibility of change. Hope is the creative fire of the heart and it should be worn proudly, as a badge of courage, especially in these times of personal and collective turmoil.  This week, let hope protect you, guide you, and inspire you to do the soul
work at hand.

 December 5, 2007
Jupiter/Pluto Conjunction, Part Two:
The planets continue to temper the mettle of mere mortals. The conjunction between Jupiter and Pluto is exact on December 11, and this week, as the gap tightens, life on earth takes on a preternatural atmosphere. Psychic sensitivity flares up, making many of us uncannily accurate about who’s on the phone, before it even rings, and what will be said before it’s even clear to the caller. Try not to mistake these gifts for the true spiritual “thing.” Jupiter’s farewell kiss to Pluto parts the veils of consciousness and allows many dimension to be felt simultaneously, with increasing clarity. But don’t let it freak you out—it is only of the moment and just possibly meant to stimulate curiosity about the multitude of realms we cannot see but definitely feel. Remember, this is a test on personal participation in a thirteen-year cycle of transformation. And the only “right” answers are authentic answers.

Pluto’s transit through Sagittarius began in January 17, 1995, and the first end of that cycle occurs on January 25, 2008, when Pluto enters Capricorn. Yes, Pluto retrogrades back into Sagittarius next year, but the end of that retrograde will not have the same impact. We will have tasted Pluto, in Capricorn, which will have already catalyzed a new journey of consciousness, and the second ending isn’t punctuated by a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction. Remember, Pluto is transformation, and it will have already started the next process.

For the last thirteen years, as Pluto journeyed through Sagittarius, it transformed global communication into a transformative tool.  The Internet united us and we actually became a global village.  Well…sort of more like a global marketplace. Pluto always reveals shadows, and one of the shadows of global communication visible under Pluto’s presence is the sordid side of cyberspace. While the Internet is a fantastic tool for research and connection, it has also become a dumping ground. It’s all too easy to download the entire contents of psyche, personal and collective, into a virtual vacuum without an understanding of how the psychic transfer might impact the new world of nowhere. Just as the explorers and missionaries infected indigenous peoples with disease, so, too, the electronic world has its germs, and those viruses have infected minds and hearts. Too many of us can no longer delineate fact from fiction and truth from tale, even the wisest among us have a hard time contextualizing the data. But forget about being intellectually capable. One of on the biggest lessons of Pluto in Sagittarius is how ill equipped most of us are to handle the intensity of that psychic and emotional overload from too much information. And nothing is private.

During this week of heightened psychic insight, contemplate your response to the digital age, as well as your relationship to privacy. Is it wise to share everything? What constitutes too much information? Are there other remedies to isolation and loneliness? Is it possible to create healthy boundaries in cyberspace? Remember, there are no “right” answers to Pluto’s questions—there is just the truth each of us holds in our heart. And in keeping with the Sagittarian theme of diversity, there is also the hope for mutual respect coupled with compassion for all sentient beings.

November 28, 2007
Jupiter/Pluto Conjunction, Part One:
Forget about silent nights-nothing is calm about the 2007 holiday season, and this week, the stars set the stage for a tempestuous finale to an already too intense year. Please forgive me if I sound dramatic, but I'm actually not exaggerating. December's sky burns with Divine Fire. And its heat tempers activities, as well as attitudes. Consider this week and the coming weeks a purification ritual, a catharsis, personal and collective. But be aware, this cleansing is not only an intellectual process. The astral tumult brings deep feelings to the surface of daily life-and they won't just sit there. Which means most of us will be searching for resolution, relief, and redemption from the red threads of persistent karmic themes. And don't fool yourself into thinking you're exempt. Hubris will only make matters worse. We are in the season of soul work, and the best tool for the task at hand is humility.

The source of this healing crisis is a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, in Sagittarius, which is exact on December 11. This conjunction occurs at the end of Pluto's cycle through Sagittarius and it will not happen again in Sagittarius until 2244, which makes its current effect all the more extraordinary. And because all of us have Sagittarius somewhere in our individual birth charts, each of us will feel the intensity of this conjunction somewhere in our lives.

Jupiter represents good fortune, expansion, and excess. It rules Sagittarius, which is the Sign of the Zodiac that signifies global communication, classical traditions from every culture, as well as belief systems, philosophic and religious. Pluto is the principle of transformation and represents the process of death and resurrection. When Pluto journeys through any Sign, it reveals the entire spectrum represented by that Sign, including its gifts, as well as its challenges. And over the next several weeks, this column will focus on some of the specifics of Pluto's cycle through Sagittarius and how they relate to current circumstances. 

But for now, it's enough to know the conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto will magnify, electrify, amplify, and intensify just about everything, and that intensification is likely to translate into the need to act or react on impulse. While it won't be easy to think before you speak, try. We are actually in the midst of a cosmic test on thirteen years of transformational work, and there are no multiple-choice answers. Because Sagittarius symbolizes the process of integration, one of the ways to gauge your grade is to contemplate how well you can walk your talk. Don't expect a perfect score. Levels of anxiety many of us thought were long gone are likely to reappear, along with old flames or missed opportunities.

But don't despair-this is a healing process. So give yourself permission to purify body, mind, heart, and soul. And when possible, give your fellow travelers the same permission. Remember, we're all feeling the heat of
December's Divine Fire.

November 21, 2007
Heavenly bodies wax poetic, as well as philosophical, during the coming weeks, and their musings stir human hearts and minds to feel, as well as to think, deeply, about who we are and what we desire as individuals and as a collective. But this contemplative signature is anything but stodgy, particularly this week, as the stars deliver surprising insights into closed or restricted areas, especially topics or terrain previously labeled taboo. Expect unpredictable wells of tears or bursts of laughter, as different layers of meaning strike poignant chords of recognition. Also anticipate being astonished by the intensity of your reactions or the reactions of others. For as we move through this week and the next several weeks, daily life is likely to resemble a mythic realm, populated by larger-than-life characters and astonishing events. A realm where heaven and earth are connected through our perceptions, participation, and choices. 

Here, in America, Thanksgiving, our national holiday of gratitude, signals the start of the festival season, the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when the days grow darker and the approach of the winter solstice invites us to conserve our energy by turning inward through quiet contemplation. But given the simultaneous cultural invitation to party, revel, and shop till you drop, the call to introspection isn’t always acknowledged or accepted.

From a psychological perspective, the coming weeks are the season when fragile hearts strain to measure personal reality against the onslaught of fantasy and pretense. Nothing in real life looks as good as an art-directed Thanksgiving with its airbrushed turkey. Or, a lavish Christmas Eve in a picture-perfect home that is impervious to poverty, disappointment, struggle, abuse, or alcoholic rants. In Hallmark Land, no one ever falls face down in the eggnog or suffers from an eating disorder or has lost a limb to war.

From an astrological perspective, the source of both poetry and philosophy is a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Sagittarius, a combination that won’t happen again until 2244. Jupiter is a great big benevolent planet that signifies good fortune, laughter, and optimism. Pluto is a non-stop, singular symbol of transformation. Sagittarius is the Sign of belief systems. When Jupiter and Pluto unite in Sagittarius, everyone from your favorite professor to your pet turtle feels the need to express an opinion about the nature of existence. While this conjunction is exact on December 11, we’re well within the range of its influence now, and that translates into enormously interesting conversation around the holiday dinner table.

What’s more, a Grand Trine in Water between Mercury, in Scorpio, Mars, in Cancer, and Uranus, in Pisces, heightens intuition, enabling even the unrepentant materialists among us to consider the possibility of extraordinary powers of perception. Water Signs are emotional, it’s true, and one of the reasons for that may be a hypersensitivity to what isn’t being said or expressed and can only be felt. This Grand Trine will unlock some of what’s been held back, and because Uranus also instigates surprises, you can expect much of what is revealed to have a staggering and immediate effect.

During the next several weeks, as we are bombarded with images of what life should be, many of us could become increasingly despairing about what life is. And that’s a shame. Because even though life may not be what we want it to be, it is still precious and worthy of appreciation. Being thankful for life, despite its difficulties, is not a form of denial. It’s an affirmation of the Sacred, which makes itself known through each of us as living, breathing manifestations of spirit.

November 14, 2007
Unstable planetary motion sends waves of uncertainty through the ethers this week, and daily routines turn into balls of confusion. The reliable turns dicey. The rock-solid becomes fluid. Tummies ache from anxiety. And minds melt from the stress. Okay, not every moment of everyday will be that dramatic. But that doesn’t mean startling plot twists won’t send lots of us into tailspins. Just be aware, even if some of those spirals seem appropriate, indulging distress could have lasting consequences. So be careful what you attach to and mind how you tell your story. You can recount a myth of defeat, but you can just as easily describe a journey of transformation.

The first unsettling astral wrinkle is Martian. Mars goes retrograde on November 15 and stays retrograde until January 30, 2008. Yes, that is a long time, but not unusually long. As Mars “turns around” it trines Uranus, and as the week unfolds, Mercury joins the pack, forming a Grand Trine. This entire bundle is an intense, imaginative aggregation that supports mental agility. But it also over-stimulates nervous systems. So don’t be surprised if you can’t sleep a wink or all you want to do is hide under the covers and zone out. What’s more, if you or someone you love is expecting an immediate, specific response to an exceptionally intense situation, you could be disappointed. When the planet of action moves behind instead of ahead, progress is compromised

In truth, Uranus always out maneuvers, outweighs, and outranks Mars, which means normally you could use Uranus to barrel ass down the boulevard to success. But for the next ten days, Uranus is preparing for its own turnaround. It goes direct on November 24. And as the course corrections between Uranus and Mars collide, daily life could take on the surreal quality of a 1950s sci-fi movie. Uranian turn arounds have an almost immediate effect so don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re wandering between The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Day of the Triffids. Most importantly, this is not a good time to make major decisions—even if you’re finally clear about what you need to do. Instead of acting impulsively to relieve the tension, keep breathing. There will be plenty of time to do what needs to be done once the atmosphere quiets down.

If you’re in the helping profession, anticipate increased demands on your time and energy. If you’re a volunteer, expect to be busy. If you have children, be prepared for more than a few meltdowns—kids tend to channel this type of intensity without inhibition. No matter what your position, try to stay flexible. For all of us, the tricky part of the coming weeks is figuring out how to remain centered in the midst of change.

November 7, 2007
It’s definitely a hold-on-to-your-hat-and-be-ready-to-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of week, as the planets continue to align in patterns of concentrated power. And while continuing to expect the unexpected remains a useful stance, this week, there’s a slight slow down to the pace of those startling plot twists, as Mars prepares for a nearly three-month retrograde phase that begins on November 15th and lasts until January 30, 2008. This Martian preparation won’t cause the mechanics of daily life to come to a complete halt, and some of this week’s changes will continue to occur at the speed of light. But these swift shifts are more likely to be based on the razzle-dazzle of spin, personal and collective, and it’s questionable whether they will last once the retrograde gains momentum. There is no best way to prepare for Mars Retrograde other than continuing to move through daily life with as much consciousness and kindness as possible.

A Grand Trine in Water between the Sun, in Scorpio, Mars, in Cancer, and Uranus, in Pisces, forms the core of immediate intensity. This powerful, positive configuration stirs deep emotions, as it simultaneously catalyzes a “live free or die” attitude unwilling to tolerate stagnation of any kind. Be prepared for spontaneous eruptions of long-repressed feelings as bodies, minds, and hearts struggle to break free from whatever enslaves—real or imagined.

Unfortunately, while this emotional revolution promises a new sense of personal liberation, there’s a delivery problem. All week long, Mars pulls against the tides of liberty, as it prepares for its retrograde review. Anticipate resistance over the coming weeks as certain patterns rooted in past behavior become increasingly difficult to discard. Some of these old modes are survival mechanisms that have long served as protective devices. Most of us won’t surrender our armor until we are completely sure we’re safe, and because safety depends on so many factors, we tend to cling to resistive structures. We know they work. What we aren’t aware of is how some survival mechanisms, often unconscious and based on fear, inhibit growth and progress. Mars is retrograde in the Sign of Cancer, a Sign well known for its inclination to fret over issues of safety. So as we move through the coming weeks, themes of security are sure to dominate the minds and hearts of many, a concentration of emotion that’s certain to permeate the atmosphere with anxiety.

But Mars is a warrior not a worrier, and it would rather take its stand than cower in fear. Yes, its feisty, aggressive energy could generate more than a few battles, but its courage could just as easily provide the daring to face danger, particularly the peril of uncertainty. We live in unstable times, and one facet of healing the external collective volatility is to create greater equanimity within.

October 31, 2007
It’s the time of Amp—a rare season when powerful astral activity amplifies and intensifies just about everything from the sacred to the profane and all that lies between. It’s a time when major planets cross celestial thresholds and terrestrial realities, past, present, and future, personal and collective, converge. The time of Amp also occurs when an unpredictable planetary pattern prone to spontaneous eruptions operates for an extended cycle, and daily life is punctuated by disruptions and disturbances that send shivers down the spines of the normally cynical and complacent. You’ll need consciousness to move safely and skillfully through this astrological portal. But you’ll also probably need Ghostbusters. For as this week and the coming weeks unfold, phantoms from seasons past are likely to make visitations, real or imagined. I don’t mean to scare you, but something strange is sure to happen in everyone’s neighborhood.

Two major patterns amplify the already intense atmosphere. (1) This week starts the beginning of the end of Pluto’s transit through Sagittarius, a journey that began in 1995 and ends on January 26, 2008. While twelve weeks may seem like an eternity, in cosmic time it’s too little to be counted. But by earthly measures, the next thirteen weeks represent the distillation of Pluto’s thirteen-year sojourn through Sagittarius. And they set the intensity levels for integrating past, present, and future realities, personal and collective. Be prepared for close encounters with issues, adversaries, and lovers you thought were behind you.

Also expect to be startled or shocked, at least for the next four weeks, by some of those meetings and memories, for they pack the potential to turn the wheel of your life in a previously unforeseen direction. (2) A Mars/Uranus trine, infamous for surprising plot twists, is in effect all month long. This week, the Sun trines both Mars and Uranus, a potent Grand Trine in Water that catalyzes a deep need for personal freedom. Pay attention: this trine delivers the strength and stamina to actualize those longings, and that translates into declarations of independence. As the entire month of November unfolds, tried-and-true traditions are likely to unravel.

One more bit: Mercury goes Direct November 1st, late in the day. If you can, wait until Monday to initiate plans and implement contracts.

It will take time adjusting to the increased intensity, and that could translate into overwhelm and meltdowns. So please try to be patient with yourself and others. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself grieving for what once was or for what might never be. Don’t be afraid to cry. Tears can be a powerful healing agent. And if you find yourself filled with joyful expectation, don’t be afraid to embrace hope. Hearts needs to believe in the possibilities of healing. 

October 24, 2007
Mercury Retrograde rewinds, daily life unwinds, regular routines dissolve, and moods—yours or others—reflect the stress. But aggravation isn’t the only feature of this retrograde mess. Call me crazy, but I’m sure there’s a pony hidden somewhere beneath the delays and interruptions. There must be, because despite the time-consuming snafus and constant need for repetition, it is still possible to concentrate and focus on what needs to be done. Yes, frustration and irritation are just a blink away. But the current retrograde, which lasts until late in the day on November 1st, is supported by a variety of planetary patterns capable of providing the potential for thoughtful and thorough processes. Plodding progress, perhaps, but it’s still a pony, and it’s strong enough to help you ride out the rest of this retrograde feeling grounded in positive activity.

A Mars/Saturn sextile continues to provide the tether. Mars is the principle of energy, Saturn is the principle of discipline, and when they work together, they provide stamina. This combination also supplies patience, a valuable quality at all times, but especially helpful during a retrograde when the tendency to get distracted or diverted is at its peak. We’ve been under the influence of this positive sextile for the last several weeks, and now, even as it is waning, it continues to hold its weight.

That gravity is due to the Sun, which just entered Scorpio, yesterday, where it formed a sextile with Saturn, in Virgo.  By the weekend, the Sun trines Mars, in Cancer. This entire bundle is sure to support the hustle and bustle of ambition. Just remember, nothing is moving forward quickly.

Unfortunately, the immediate need for patience collides with a deep sense of urgency about what lies ahead. From an astrological perspective, the next several months unfold through several complex patterns. (1) Mars is retrograde, in Cancer, from November 15th to January 30th. Mars doesn’t like moving backward and because it’s not all that happy in Cancer, its retrograde is certain to cause more than a fair degree of commotion. (2) For the next three months, Pluto will move through the last degrees of Sagittarius, a transit that began in 1995. As part of that finale, we’re invited to review what’s transpired, individually and collectively, during the past thirteen years—a daunting task. But that’s not all. (3) On December 11th, Jupiter conjuncts Pluto, in Sagittarius, amplifying, magnifying, exaggerating, and expanding that thirteen-year retrospective. These are just the broad strokes. Other components will color how the patterns play out.

Forewarned often means better prepared. Consider the current retrograde practice for the coming extended examination, and use it to cultivate patience, now.

October 17, 2007
The planets continue to send mixed messages this week. On one hand, astral patterns quicken creative pulses, and minds, fluttering at rapid rates, produce brilliant ideas. But on the other, the stars are also imposing time restrictions, and those limitations generate more than an occasional harrumph. We are, after all, under the influence of Mercury Retrograde, which means frustration and irritation are part of the package, especially when it comes to timing. It’s hard to want to get going and all you can do is hurry up and wait. But retrogrades are never an excuse for futility. As many of us know from experience, Mercury Retrograde is not the devil—it’s just a pain in the ass. So gather your determination, be persistent, especially if you have an exceptional idea, and instead of forging ahead, surrender to making slow, but thorough progress.

The current Mercury Retrograde began on October 11th and persists until November 1st. When Mercury seemingly retraces its path, we’re invited to do the same, which makes this retrograde a great time to review, reflect, or reconsider, particularly when it comes to communication. Contracts, letters, papers, mail, and printed material may suffer from the stress of Mercury Retrograde, but there are also benefits—clauses, paragraphs, or declarations that just don’t belong become more apparent under a retrograde eye. Traffic and travel also suffer, as train delays, freeway detours, or a simple trip on the local bus or metro turns into an endless journey. But the slower retrograde pace—the hour or so of bumper-to-bumper lock down—can also provide time to think. But only if you’re willing to wait, patiently, and instead of succumbing to road rage, using the time creatively.

Fortunately, and one of the reasons the week plays out on a split screen, a Mars/Saturn sextile supplies a determined ambition capable of focusing on specific goals, as well as the stamina to follow through with whatever it takes to fulfill those aspirations. This sextile operates all month long, providing plenty of opportunities to make positive progress. Unfortunately, Mercury Retrograde will inhibit the full throttle of this dynamic duo, which could turn the combination of Mars and Saturn stern or insistent.

While computers go a little screwy, emails go missing, and time distortions wreak havoc on deadlines, retrogrades are a chance to settle in, survey the landscape, and take stock. So rather than grumble your way through the next two weeks, make the most of this retro-review by paying a different kind of attention to the details of life that in the blur of direct motion might otherwise be taken for granted.

October 10, 2007
It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world this week, as planetary patterns simultaneously encourage slowing down and speeding up. Don’t be surprised if you’re feeling discombobulated. One minute the tasks of daily life are running smoothly, and the next, a great grinding noise invades consciousness and rattles nervous systems, as frustration over obstacles and delays creates interference. We’re in a retrograde and it’s a true snafu. As always, patience will be your greatest ally, but only if it’s authentic—pretending just won’t work.

The source of irritation is the final Mercury Retrograde phase of 2007. It begins on October 11th and lasts through November 1st. As many of you know, when Mercury “turns around” and retraces its path, we retrace ours, a perspective that translates into reviewing the details of what we’ve already set in motion. Mercury is all about language and communication, so when it’s traveling behind instead of ahead, attention is focused on what’s been said to see if anything more needs to be said. Things initiated under Mercury Retrograde often run into delays—contracts don’t get signed, or if they do, it’s later than anticipated and that sets off a chain reaction. Or, the research material needed to complete a term paper gets eaten by the dog or scattered in a windstorm. Or, money that was sure to show up by the middle of the month gets lost in the dryer along with that missing sock. But that’s not all. Mercury Retrograde also screws around with travel and traffic. Rush hour is punctuated with detours, roadwork causes more problems than it solves, and airport delays impede speedy take offs and landings.

On a positive note, Mercury Retrograde slows down the pace of life and invites us to pay attention to what we’ve overlooked. But this retrograde is different from other retrogrades because as Mercury makes its move, it forms a trine with Mars, as well as Uranus, two positive interactions with two planets that thrive on progress. Expect minds to feel the need to travel at the speed of light, and emotional bodies to freak out when the retrograde no-fly zone thwarts that need.

You’ll need patience—lots and lots of patience—especially because this Mercury Retrograde is practice for what lies ahead. There is no kind way to break this news, so here it is. On November 15th, Mars goes retrograde until January 30, 2008. And on January 28th, Mercury goes retrograde, again, until February 18, 2008. Which means except for a brief window between November 2nd and November 14th, the two planets best known for driving the mechanics of daily life are going to be in reverse until nearly March.

But don’t despair. Slowing down the pace of daily life for the next couple of months could be a blessing in disguise. We’ve become accustomed to plunging head first into the future, and what the next several months are about is reflecting on the past, a process befitting the end of one year and the beginning of another. So be prepared to move at a snail’s pace, and do whatever it is you do to stay calm. Most of all, in every situation, be as kind as possible.

October 3, 2007
Don’t worry if you can’t get a grip. This week, next week, and for several weeks to come, the planets weave a variety of intricate patterns, making it more than a little difficult to identify and hold onto regular routines. But be aware, even if you’re pulled in a number of directions, simultaneously, that stretch is likely to feel invigorating, as well as exhausting, especially if you’re dealing with drama—yours or others. Oddly, some areas of life feel almost “normal,” as certain situations unfold with a fair degree of sanity—if you define sanity as a combination of common sense, good judgment, and the ability to keep your cool under pressure. Translation: It’s normal, but it ain’t easy. A good attitude is the best way to cope with this convergence of astro signatures. And humor—laughter will be the best remedy for the intensity, particularly the kind that’s able to appreciate life’s ironies.

Two major planetary patterns disrupt the peace. First, from October 11th-November 1st we’re in the final Mercury Retrograde phase of 2007. For those of you new to Mercury Retrograde, here’s the poop: From our perspective here on Earth, several times a year, Mercury seemingly appears to move backwards in the sky. Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication and travel. So when it moves behind instead of ahead, everything within its vast domain tends to go awry. Phones, faxes, text messages, computers, servers, and mail of every denomination suffer from the stress, and when the mechanics of daily life go off kilter, people tend to go whacky.

But Mercury Retrograde is not the devil—it’s an exotic form of hindsight that allows us to appreciate the details of life. There are three important retrograde rules to remember: (1) Don’t initiate new projects under a retrograde. (2) Include the three days prior to the retrograde and after the retrograde as part of the entire phase. (2) Back up all of your computer data before the retrograde. Don’t wait until the retrograde has begun—do it now.

The second source of disruption is a Jupiter/Uranus square. Exact on October 9th, this square is infamous for unforeseen and unpredictable events. Uranus always catalyzes stagnant waters, and because Jupiter is about the tried and true, it’s likely that familiar routines—habituations of every variety—will be challenged. It’s impossible to predict how this configuration will manifest, but it would be best to be prepared to let go of your comfort zone. This square also revs nervous systems, and that translates into disrupted sleep patterns as well as high levels of anxiety.

As the coming weeks unfold, apply laughter liberally, especially if you’re taking yourself too seriously. But also seek healthy ways to soothe yourself, and others, if you’re so inclined. Remember, we are all in this together, and if you’re feeling the squeeze, your fellow travelers are, too.

September 26, 2007
The planets pulse to diverse and erratic rhythms this week, and as daily life unfolds to this wide-range of different beats, hearts are likely to flutter from the fluctuations, brain patterns are sure to rise and fall, and moods are likely to swing high and low. There’s nothing predictable about the coming days and nights—we’re in an anything goes pattern of surprising developments. Flexibility—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—will be the best navigational tool, so do whatever it is you do to stay limber.

A Jupiter/Uranus square is the epicenter of this week’s inconsistency. Jupiter and Uranus contacts always deliver startling twists of fate, which is why it’s impossible to intuit the effect of this interaction. Jupiter likes life big and wide. Uranus thrives on catalyzing the status quo, particularly stagnant waters of empty habit and habituation. Yet despite the inherent unpredictability of this square, it’s safe to assume that situations, personal or collective, built on unstable ground will suffer the most from upheaval. Pay close attention to relationships, projects, and plans originating in 2006, when we were under the influence of the Jupiter/Uranus trine. If those plans were overly optimistic, this might be the time they start to fall apart.

A Mercury/Mars trine turns minds active, and on Friday, as Mercury moves into Scorpio, and Saturday, as Mars moves into Cancer, this positive alliance also heightens intuition. Saturn, in Virgo, sextiles both Mercury and Mars, providing positive support for grounding those psychic perceptions into concrete action. And speaking of Mercury…the last Mercury Retrograde of 2007 begins on October 11 at 11:59 PM EDT, which means it would be wise to start backing up your data, now. Remember, forewarned means better prepared, especially for Mercury Retrograde. (Those of you just tuning into astrology, there will be more about this retrograde during the coming weeks.) And speaking of Mars, as well as retrogrades…Mars goes Retrograde in Cancer from November 15-January 28 (Ouch!), so be prepared for regular routines to move slowly during the final weeks of the year. But more about that Mars Retrograde as it unfolds.

A trine between Pluto and Venus makes hearts beat faster and libidos quiver with excitement. If you’re not in the mood for sexual, sensual, or romantic pleasure, this trine also arouses creativity, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself devoted to finishing that short story you’ve kept on the shelf for too long or inspired to finish other creative projects languishing in procrastination.

However you choose to spend your passion this week, try not to let the uneven pace of the week upset your personal rhythm. Do whatever it is you do to stay steady within, and then, use that strong center as an internal compass to help you make the necessary adjustments.

September 19, 2007
A multifaceted pattern of planetary activity continues to turn daily life into a non-stop whirlwind of intensity, personal and collective. But this week, unlike previous weeks, pent-up, previously tolerated tension cannot be contained. Pay attention: As emotional bodies let go, meltdowns, and breakdowns—yours or others—punctuate the days, as well as the nights, and nervous systems, already exhausted from weeks of overload, struggle to maintain an equilibrium. Put simply, it’s a mess. But the good news—and there is always good news—is that even in the midst of the maelstrom, opportunities for clarity, as well as positive progress persist. So while you may not be able to avoid a tantrum or two, previously repressed feelings expressed during the coming days can be used as fodder for personal growth.

The source of the tension and its release is a T-square between the Sun, Mars, and Pluto. T-squares are notorious for signifying stress and strain. Comprised of three or more planets, configured at fractious angles, this combination of influences symbolizes clashing agendas, each bent on domination. September’s been a month of one T-square after another, and now, as this pattern comes to an end, the discharge is certain to contain information that’s been stifled or bottled up since August. Resistance is (Dare I say?) futile—you gotta feel to heal—but how to transform those feelings into growth producing activity is the mystery.

The Sun and Mars, both represent vitality. The Sun symbolizes the essence of life. Mars signifies the will—or how we make our way in the world. When the Sun and Mars interact, they stimulate ambition, aggression, assertiveness and accomplishment. A Sun/Mars square tends to produce lots of activity, the sort of workload that makes mere mortals simply feel overwhelmed by all there is to do. But overextension isn’t really the problem. The problem is Pluto. When Pluto squares the Sun and opposes Mars normal assertions of power turn into battles for ultimate control. The signature of this entire bundle is aggressive energy, which leans toward brutal, ruthless fanaticism that denies the humanity of others, rationalizing its methods with the notion that the means justify the ends. As we well know, the means actually determine the ends. So the key to the mystery of this T-Square is a commitment to causing no harm, even if that means not getting your way—or losing.

Even if you can’t avoid a meltdown of your own, refuse to let that collapse devolve into an excuse to participate in violence—don’t scream at the kids, kick the dog, succumb to road-rage or indulge in feelings of superiority at the expense of others. And even if you lose your composure, use consciousness and compassion as your means to a peaceful end. 

September 12, 2007
It’s a tricky week…the kind of week that makes deciphering the planetary code a delicate process. On one level, the events of daily life unfold in an odd time-tunnel that some of us are certain to mistake for the Retro Zone. But on another level, there’s absolutely no trace of an oh-I’ve-been-here-before-and-better-get-it-right-this-time déjà vu. Quite the contrary—completely new experiences demand never made before choices. Just be aware, those decisions aren’t without their own type of anxiety. But that’s not all. Erratic pulses and uneven rhythms interfere with consistent routines, making it difficult to finish anything. And as if all that wasn’t enough, tension turns even simple tasks into tests of patience, making it next to impossible to deal with the old or the new without encountering the sort of emotional resistance that turns everything into a confrontation. Put simply—it’s a mess. So do your best to choose your breakpoints before the situation falls apart. And while it won’t be easy remembering we are all in this together, when possible, try to be kind to yourself and your fellow travelers.

The time warp is the result of two eclipses. Backtracking, there was a lunar eclipse on August 28th and a solar eclipse on September 11th. Eclipses wobble the normal order of terrestrial life, and their effect often happens six weeks before or after the actual event. Lunar eclipses tend to highlight practical matters, but during a solar eclipse, when the Moon overshadows the Sun, unconscious, emotional concerns dominate, and previously hidden information emerges from the shadows. Even though the solar eclipse has already occurred, we are still in its wake, which means we’re likely to experience surprising revelations, personal and collective.

A T-square between the Sun, Mars, and Uranus was at the heart of the tension last week, and while the Uranian signature of this pernicious configuration diminishes, Pluto picks up the slack. Uranus provided sudden shifts, impulsive reactions, and eruptions of violence. Pluto supplies power surges. And this week, as Pluto moves into position—opposite Mars and square the Sun, we move into yet another potential destructive pattern that feeds the need for power and control. Despots thrive on this type of influence, which means it would be best to avoid power struggles, especially if those battles put you at risk. If you can, wait until the timing is more suited to success.

When Saturn moved into Virgo on September 2nd, we began a new growth cycle, but there isn’t enough room to go into an in-depth look at the meaning of Saturn’s transit through Virgo in this week’s column. There will be plenty of room to interpret Saturn’s new journey as the coming weeks unfold.

September 5, 2007
This week, and the next several weeks, dynamic planetary configurations turn the seasonal transition from summer to fall into an unwieldy series of confrontations, and while September always tends toward the awkward, this year’s ride is bumpier than usual. Expect you, those you love, and those you don’t even know to be more than a little grumpy. Also anticipate a high level of resistance that’s certain to translate into the need to say “no” more than “yes” even when “yes” is the best response for the person saying “no.” Of course, the wisest way through the shifts would be to assume a compassionate stance rather than a polarized position. Easier said than done, it’s true. But the ability to refrain from self-righteous judgment or heat of the moment finger-pointing blame will be well worth the effort.

T-squares are the heart of the problem—imagine three energies colliding at 90-degree angles and you’ve got the picture. This week, it’s the Sun, Mars, and Uranus, weaving a pattern of conflict. The Sun, is in Virgo, a Sign that doesn’t much like or tolerate agitation, well. Mars, in Gemini, rarely backs down from a fight, and when it’s in Gemini, you can count on a barrage of information rather than a round of fisticuffs. Uranus, in Pisces, opposes the Sun as it squares Mars, and while most of us tend to think of Pisces as mild-mannered, we also tend to forget that water is the strongest substance on the planet—and when it’s certain of the righteousness of its positions, won’t back down an inch into the land of compromise. It’s a mess of agendas, and it’s guaranteed to devolve into a competitive brawl.

Of course, anger isn’t always bad. And sometimes it is even necessary. Anger is only a problem when it is attached to hatred, vengeance, jealousy, retribution, or some other form of attachment that denies the humanity of others or does them harm. Anger that protects, defends, champions the weak, and takes a stand for truly Higher Principle often catalyzes stagnation and shifts the energy into a more creative flow. As with most complex aspects of human nature, it all depends on the skill to blend awareness and action. And there will be lots of opportunities during the coming weeks to develop that skill—so take your time and try not to exhaust yourself in the first episode.

And speaking of installments, next week this column will begin an exploration into what we can expect from Saturn’s transit through Virgo. But this week, there’s enough going on to keep us rooted in present time.

August 29, 2007
I wish I could say this is a quieter week than last, but I can’t. For while the blazing intensity of August is almost at an end, other rumbles above and beneath the surface of the earth are already playing mind games with nervous systems. Expect to feel unsettled and unsure—there are more than a few startling plot twists and equally surprising reactions on the way. But also anticipate existential uncertainty to be blended with feelings of confidence and clarity. I realize I’m presenting a paradox, but with luck, the contradictory indications will serve as preparation for a tricky time.

Saturn is in the final moments of its transit through Leo; it enters Virgo on September 2nd. And as it leaves the Sign of the Lion, a deep roar is likely to be heard and felt as friends, family members, or associates you haven’t seen in quite awhile check in for a check up. This is one of the reasons why this week and the last several weeks have felt so much like a retrograde. Pay attention: this “how long has it been” signature also applies to old habits and behaviors previously discarded. The end of a cycle is often about making a 360 degree sweep to see what has or hasn’t been dealt with. As you work your way through these final moments, be kind with yourself, and instead of framing what still needs work as a “failure,” try to see personal growth as a process—there’s always something more to learn. Always.

Uranus provides both the surprises and the reactions as a Mercury/Uranus opposition in effect since August 26th, comes to a close by the weekend. Mercury runs an edgy energy and when it combines with Uranus in an opposition, stress levels increase. Unfortunately, as that opposition ends, a Sun/Uranus opposition begins, which makes self-soothing almost impossible. As this Sun/Uranus opposition feeds the need to break free, pulses quicken, hearts skip beats, and intensity intensifies. Breathe. Deeply. And then, breathe again. Uranus doesn’t have to be nerve-racking. It can be also be a profound creative force, but it takes patience and skill to focus and channel its potential.

A Mars/Uranus square also exacerbates the tensions of the week as it amps up volatility and incites egos to take stands just for the sake of it. While I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with protest, this is not the week to indulge belligerence—there’s already enough aggression in the world and no need to add more.

This week, do your best to make love instead of war and whenever possible encourage others to do the same.

 August 22, 2007
Saturn Leaves Leo: Part Four
If the last several weeks had come with a warning label—“Caution, the intensity might be hazardous to your mental health” or “Proceed at your own risk” or “Internal temperatures might exceed known limits, causing interstitial brain fluid to seize mid-thought”—most of us probably wouldn’t have paid attention, and would still have rushed head-long into whatever needed a feet-first response. Yet despite that “act now/think later” frequency, a solid, steady pulse of persevering determination underscored what can only be described as a conflagration of emergencies, personal and collective. This capacity to do whatever needs to be done is one of the richest qualities of Saturn, in Leo: it provides the strength and courage to rise creatively to almost any challenge, a resolve that cannot be underestimated. There’s only a handful of days left to savor this power and integrate it into conscious awareness, so do your best to attune to the deepest strata of Saturn, in Leo, and imprint a memory of its potency, as well as its ability to support human endeavors on every level—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

The Sun enters Virgo, tomorrow, and as the brightest light in the sky changes its lens, our focus shifts away from the dazzling brilliance of Fire toward the grounded nurturing of Earth. Mercury is already in Virgo, its Home Sign, where it is happily applying its mental might to generating a practical overview of what’s needs to be accomplished, as well as detailed lists about how to do it. At the moment, Mercury squares both Jupiter and Mars, a fractious, but not pernicious, interaction that translates into an inclination to take on too much at once. This T-Square only lasts for a week, but if you don’t prioritize your goals and needs, you could squander much needed energy on frivolous projects. So limit your distractions by learning to say “no” when necessary.

The opposition between Mars, in Gemini, and Jupiter, in Sagittarius, will last until Labor Day, so be prepared to be stretched too thin, but still prone to excess. Mars/Jupiter oppositions aren’t necessarily negative, although handling the flux of their tension requires a commitment to moderation, a commitment that might have evaporated in the heat of recent weeks.

As the next several days unfold, do your best to stay in the moment. I realize lots of people are curious about what Saturn’s journey through Virgo will bring, but rather than looking to the future, do your best to be here, now. Just because these are the last moments of a cycle, doesn’t mean the potency or power of the cycle is diminished. Saturn, in Leo, is still providing plenty of opportunities to grow.

August 15, 2007
Saturn Leaves Leo: Part Three
The feverish pace of last week carries forward into this week, making it hard to stick to a schedule or stay on track with regular routines—too much is happening too quickly, and as flare-ups excite emotional bodies, nervous systems are likely to suffer. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Uranus was the current Prime Mover. But Uranus isn’t instigating the intensity—Saturn is, which means significant lessons are hidden in the excitement so don’t let the dazzle distract you from thinking about the processes occurring in your life.

Only two and a half weeks remain of Saturn’s transit through Leo, and this week may actually feel more intense than previous weeks because not only is Saturn conjunct Venus, Mercury and the Sun, but the entire bundle also trines Pluto. Be prepared for increasingly dramatic declarations from just about everyone—including you—about almost everything. And even though some of those assertions will be accurate, they are likely to be delivered with such a righteous certainty, that agreeing with what’s said feels more like capitulation than solidarity. So don’t be surprised if you feel the hair on your back bristling from some or all of what’s said—you may be caught in a barrage of a self-righteous rant rather than an honorable effort to tell the truth.

Conjunctions concentrate energy. When it’s a conjunction between the Sun and Mercury, objectivity suffers because there’s tendency to become identified with your thoughts, as in “I am what I think.” When Saturn conjuncts the Sun and Mercury that identification morphs into “I’m very serious about what I think.” Add Venus to the mix, and reserve and reticence attach, turning the concentration of energy distant and even more than a little critical of those who don’t agree. But—and this is a big but—the entire package can also indicate true artistic depth. What’s more, because Pluto trines all four planets, the intensity of the week also provides abundant opportunities to transform areas of life in need of rejuvenation.

Saturn won’t be back in Leo until 2034. By my calculation, there won’t be another trine between Saturn, in Leo, and Pluto, in Sagittarius until 2742. The rarity of this signature may be one of the reasons the last weeks of Saturn’s transit through Leo have felt so intense. But that’s not all. We’re also at the end of Pluto’s journey through Sagittarius, and even though there are a few months of Pluto’s transit remaining, its distillation process is no less intense than Saturn’s.

Endings always mean new beginnings, and part of what’s setting the air on fire is anticipation of what lies ahead. We live in interesting times. And the wisest course of action might be to seize the moment and use these opportunities for profound leaps in personal and planetary transformation.

August 8, 2007
Saturn Leaves Leo: Part Two
It’s another week of planetary heat and as the days and nights unfold, stories will be told and told again about feats of daring audacity, personal courage, and generosity of spirit. And it won’t be boring to hear them more than once. Like the legends of old, these current accounts become more powerful as they are repeated because they are meant to instruct and to inspire. Of course, this astro blaze has a shadow—no true chronicle of the hero is without a descent into the deep. Which means you or those close to you are likely to dip into hesitation, inhibition, and anxiety before you clear trail of hope. Fortunately, the planets are aligned to assist all efforts toward transformation, which makes it possible to face the shadow and triumph.

A concentration of planets in Leo—the Sun, Mercury, Saturn, Venus and, from the evening of August 11th-through the afternoon of August 13th, the Moon—drives the action this week. Leo is a gregarious, generous, and mostly good-natured Sign known for its romantic heart. Ruled by the Sun, Leo’s creative fire encourages a passionate approach to life, which means when an aggregation of planets moves through the Sign of Leo, personal and collective scenarios intensify. Increasing this intensity, Saturn is ending its two-year-plus journey through Leo, and as that transit ends, Saturn distills the essence of the entire cycle, a process that is as intense as it sounds. Be prepared for a pop-quiz on life, particularly areas where your structures have been challenged. But also anticipate feeling as if you’ve made no progress at all. Often the distillation of wisdom demands a beginner’s mind.

Humility is an especially good choice because as Saturn leaves Leo it trines Pluto, and when Pluto assists in the extraction of wisdom, it’s best to surrender a need for control. If you’re asked to let go, and all you want to do is hold on, make sure the expenditure to get want you want is worth it.

Venus underscores Saturn’s farewell, as she retrogrades back into Leo, forming a conjunction with Saturn and a trine to Pluto. Venus only goes retrograde every 18 months, and when the Goddess of Love retraces her path, our old flames flare up. You don’t have to feel obligated to rekindle a previous alliance; there just may be some loose ends in need of resolution.

Mercury, also in Leo, makes a quicksilver alliance with Jupiter, in Sagittarius, a positive partnership that promotes storytelling. Mercury/Jupiter contacts are known to inspire writers, so poets, playwrights, and authors of all variety, chronicle the events of the coming weeks. The stars tell stories that transcend the bounds of time and space. We bring those stories to life.

August 1, 2007
Saturn Leaves Leo, Part One
It’s a planetary fire walk—this week, next week, and every day until September 2nd. And managing the burning intensity with skill has nothing to do with regulating the temperature of the coals, thickness of your soles, or even the resilience of your soul. A planetary convergence in fire ignites passions and inflames attitudes, which means even the coolest are sure to overheat. The good news is August’s fire is also a purifier, and its heat has the potential to burn away what is superfluous and unnecessary. This process contrasts the actual with the ideal, bringing the practical into a more precise focus. That clarity sparks movement because it won’t feel like it’s enough to intellectually realize what needs to change—this fire walk turns insight into action.

Saturn is the center of gravity for the coming weeks. Saturn enters Virgo on September 2nd, and as it ends its transit through Leo, a journey that began in July 2005, Saturn interacts with Pluto, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and the Sun. It’s a series of farewell kisses, and whether Saturn’s pecks are perfunctory or heartfelt depends on how you experienced its influence over the last two-plus years. Remember, every Sign is present in every birth chart, which means each of us experiences this effect of a planetary transit somewhere in our individual lives.

Two Saturn contacts dominate this week. First, the on-going Saturn/Pluto trine is exact in the early morning hours of August 6th. This trine has been supplying an almost superhuman strength, which means handling its power with skill is a must. If you let this trine go to your head, ego inflation is certain. So even if you feel as if you have the solution to every problem, stay humble. Use this positive alliance to enhance the process of personal transformation, and you’ll enter the realm of the adepts, where self-awareness and self-discipline coalesce into wisdom.

Second, the on-going Mars/Saturn square was exact on July 31st, but all week long the ripple effect of this fractious configuration continues to irritate the ethers. Mars signifies the warrior, Saturn symbolizes the disciplinarian, and as they clash, resentment, animosity, and self-righteousness flourish. Try to avoid unnecessary scuffles or taking a stand you can’t back down from. And also be aware even a small wisecrack could escalate into a large and lasting brouhaha.

Next week, when Venus retrogrades back into Leo and makes contact with Saturn and Pluto, I promise to fulfill my promise and write about Venus Retrograde and the possibility of romantic encounters of a past and previous kind.

This week, reflect on whether any primary structures in your life have changed during the last two years and if so, see if they need a final tweak.

July 25, 2007
A hotbed of planetary intensity ferments the routines of daily life for the next several weeks. Be prepared for rapid and more than slightly acidic reactions. As this collective dyspepsia agitates individual moods, the atmosphere turns confrontational and as that occurs, all variety of “heartburn” is certain to escalate. Of course, not everyone will want to engage in an actual brawl, but that’s no guarantee that a barrage of opinions won’t feel brutal. As always, the best way through the intensity is a renewed commitment to compassion, particularly generous acts of kindness aimed at alleviating the stress and soothing the irritated air.

The source of the tumult is three-fold. First, the on-going Saturn/Pluto trine continues to supply the requisite endurance to tackle any sort of task. Just don’t assume it also supports multitasking. The strength of this trine is located in its tenacious ability to stay focused and disciplined rather than ability to spread energy in several directions simultaneously.

But don’t worry—the second signature of the week, a Mercury/Uranus trine, provides the innovative, mother of invention, how-much-more-can-I-handle capacity to not only multitask, but to help others to do the same. Regular readers of this column know just how much I love Mercury/Uranus relationships. And why do I love them so? Because when Mercury, symbol for all cerebral systems, unites with Uranus, the primary agent of change, the potential for minds to move out of stagnation and into inspiration flows through the ethers with the ease of air. Use this energy to think about areas of your life in need of revolution. But also use this combination to contemplate what you can do to help revolutionize collective mindsets mired in stagnation.

Unfortunately, a Mars/Saturn square turns the week bitter with a hard-hearted tactics that often end in arguments, separations, and ill-will. This is not easy energy to handle, primarily because it reveals the underbelly of the Saturn/Pluto trine. All astrological symbols play out along a spectrum of potential. The trine, which is inherently positive, still includes the possibility of an unrelenting ruthlessness that will push its agenda no matter what the cost. Now, as Mars hits Saturn at a fractious right angle, it exposes the tendency toward cruelty, as it simultaneously triggers the possibility of physical manifestations of destructive energy. So don’t kick the dog ‘cause you can. And don’t allow frustration to spark a fight you will regret you started the minute ire ignites the air.

As the next several weeks unfold, a wide range of emotions will move through the days and nights with rapid-fire intensity, making it hard to maintain, as well as hold onto an objective perspective. So as you work your way through, try to focus on the facts rather than on assumptions. It’s a tall challenge in such a heated environment, but an open mind will sustain an open heart and enough good will to engender a thousand little acts of kindness and compassion.

July 18, 2007
An odd combination of candor and resistance strikes a strident but dissonant chord this week. On one hand, there is a strong desire to move forward with an almost militaristic might; while on the other, nagging anxiety, specific or not, generates the paralysis of uncertainty. Pay attention: this hesitation is neither retrograde residue, nor a preview of the Venus Retrograde that begins on July 27th. The current concern is intuitive—there’s a sense that big changes, personal and collective, are imminent. And while what needs to shift can be seen almost too clearly, there’s an instinctual caution about diving into the uncharted deep. Hesitation isn’t so much a matter of dealing with the consequences, as much as it is the recognition of just how many paradigm shifts are necessary, both internal and external, as well as personal and collective, to distill and to integrate the wisdom of experience. 

But let’s look at the Venus Retrograde, first. Venus, goddess of love and beauty, goes retrograde on July 27th and stays retrograde until September 8th. Don’t get into a tizzy about another retrograde. When the Venus retraces her past we mere mortals do not suffer the frustrating, mind melting challenges of a Mercury or Mars Retrograde. Venus is much more interested in romance and creativity than technology and traffic, which means her retro-motion focuses on relationships, as well as artistic endeavors. Be prepared to edit or to redo, but also anticipate close encounters of the flirtatious kind. But more about Venus Retrograde and the romantic potentials of her review in the coming weeks.

The source of this week’s martial frequency is two-fold: (1) An ongoing trine between Saturn and Pluto continues to fuel determination and discipline, and while all Saturn/Pluto contacts tend toward a hard edge, positive contacts are particularly helpful in creating reservoirs of stamina that promote both individual and group accomplishments—success is possible. This Saturn/Pluto trine also provides keen insight into the underpinnings of policy and behavior and that ability to perceive what lies beneath is a larger contributor to this week’s caution. (2) A Mars/Uranus sextile is currently exciting the ethers with an almost nonstop need for personal independence, and while there’s nothing wrong with freedom, when Mars and Uranus unite, their combined vital force tends toward spontaneous combustion, especially the sort of eruptions that put other people in harm’s way. So, please think before you speak, and definitely try to look before you leap.

Another major Mars interaction—Mars square Saturn—goes into effect next week, and because this square is aggressive, as it coalesces with the already agitated air, we’re likely to see an escalation in violence. Which is another reason for this week’s intuitive discomfort.

One of the best ways to cope with the disquiet of foresight is to surrender the need to control the outcome, so do your best to stay present—remember, the future is made moment-by-moment, one open heart, one gentle touch, and one kind word at a time. And if you encounter obstacles, seek the help of a Higher Power and the comfort of a Higher Love.

July 11, 2007
A huge sigh of relief reverberates through the ethers this week—Mercury is finally direct, and as the routines of daily life return to “normal,” we can start to settle down and settle in. Just be prepared for a sudden lurch or two. Not everyone will be able to move out of the past and into the present easily or gracefully. Those who can are likely to be moving from zero to sixty, and their speed as they blow by could be disconcerting. But not to worry if you’re lagging behind—even the stragglers aren’t likely to linger long in the retro-muddle of recent weeks. Current planetary patterns support clear, precise forward motion, and that translates into a new pace, as well as a fresh approach. Anticipate attitude adjustments—lots of them—as most of us shift into a high gear.

The source of the new view is a Saturn/Pluto trine, a positive alliance that will be in effect for the next several weeks. When Saturn, the principle of discipline, and Pluto, the principal of power, work together they supply the tenacity and endurance to persevere until even the most difficult task is accomplished. The downside to this determination is a tendency toward extremes that can occasionally manifest as heart-hardening severity that needs to punish or one-pointed myopia that clouds common sense. Avoid working yourself or others to a point of exhaustion. Moderation is the key to utilizing this powerful combination to your advantage.

From a collective perspective, the Saturn/Pluto trine is significant because it marks the first positive contact between these two planets since their opposition, which ran from August 2001-June 2002.  Those ten months shook the world, altered the structures of power, and set the collective on a course of constriction and destruction. The issues of fear and what we allow to occur when we are afraid are not new. Neither is fundamentalism. The opposition of 2001/2002 merely highlighted what was already lurking in the shadows. Now, the Saturn/Pluto trine provides an opportunity to transform some of the negative consequences of that constriction. But like all Pluto transits, negative patterns inhibiting the process of transformation must be dealt with before the healing can take hold. So don’t be surprised if over the course of the next few weeks you find yourself confronting control issues, especially unresolved anxiety or a sense of personal futility. At its best, this trine provides opportunities for spiritual growth, and part of that expansion may include disempowering bullies, internal or external, personal or collective. Of course, the trick will be figuring out how to let the air out of those inflated egos without using the same tactics.

As the week unfolds, try to increase your self-awareness. Are you making decisions by rote or emotional habituation? Or, are you making conscious choices based on reasonable information. It won’t be easy paying attention in the midst of an ever-escalating pace, but if you make an effort to be mindful, you’ll enhance your ability to harness and utilize the intensity for increased awareness. And you might also be able to help others do the same.

July 4, 2007
First, the good news: only one more week of Mercury Retrograde. Next, the bad news: only one more week of Mercury Retrograde. Then, the best news: while another week of mind-bending communication complications and crazy-making travel snags must be endured, several other planetary configurations provide plenty of engrossing and creative distractions. Be prepared for the next seven days to unfold with previously untold stories, yours or others, individual and collective. Be ready to listen, but don’t be surprised if you’re spurred into action. Despite all wise warnings to wait and follow the retrograde rule of no new projects, creative surges inspire movement. So rather than resist, simply be aware that what gets started under Mercury Retrograde often encounters more than an average interference.

For those of you new to Mercury Retrograde, here’s the skinny: approximately three times a year, Mercury appears to be moving backwards in the sky. And because Mercury represents language and communication, as well as travel and commerce, when Mercury seemingly retraces its path, the routines of daily life go slightly screwy. Schedules collapse, people can’t commit, normally reliable communication devices crumple, and frustration causes a great gnashing of teeth to be heard throughout the land. Mercury Retrograde is best spent reviewing recent and sometimes ancient history, as well as fine-tuning the details of previous decisions.

Two other prime planetary movers provide push forward instead of behind. (1) A trine between the Sun and Uranus turns July 4th into a true Independence Day, as it feeds a need to break free from whoever and whatever enslaves. This positive alignment, exact on the 11th, is in effect from the 4th-24th. When the Sun, which signifies the life force, and Uranus, which represents the primal vitality of imagination, work together, “freedom” is their battle cry. Anyone shackled to a stifling relationship of any kind or mired in negative bonds is likely to feel a strong urge for liberation. Expect powerful emotions to spill out through words you thought would never be spoken—by you or anyone else. Also anticipate carefully and clearly delineated boundaries to be drawn where you thought there would always be a free flow. 

(2) A trine between the Venus/Saturn conjunction, in Leo, and Pluto in Sagittarius, amplifies the emotional intensity. The Venus/Saturn conjunction gives birth to restrained romantic longings. But if romance is not of interest, this conjunction also enhances creative endeavors, enabling the artist to concretize vision and inspiration. The trine to Pluto stimulates passion, making it possible to override Saturn’s reticence and inhibition. Just be prepared for some of those passionate currents to trigger personal and collective chaos, particularly if you’re planning to use the Sun/Uranus trine to move you out of an old, stagnant relationship and into a new, dynamic duo. This Saturn/Pluto trine will last for the next couple of weeks and will be the subject of the next several columns.

June 27, 2007
Welcome to the Retro Zone, a dimension of lost mail, missed appointments, crashed servers, fried cell phones, and endless fender benders, a dimension of “now you see it, now you don’t, and now you see it again,” a dimension whose physical boundaries are June 15th-July 10th, but whose real borders are the limits of your capacity to deal with delays, detours, and frustration. Unlike the Twilight Zone, where you travel through alternate realities, in the Retro Zone, you tend to feel stuck in your own reality or endlessly tortured by someone else’s. Yet while it’s slow in the Retro Zone, it’s not evil. So as you encounter obstacles, instead of getting snagged in a complaining episode, shrug off the difficulty by knowing you won’t be stuck forever, because the signpost up ahead—your next stop—is Mercury Direct.

Of course, the current Retro Zone is stranger than normal, a condition that always signals the presence of Uranus, who is infamous for its eccentric taste and eclectic choices. For while we’re at the midpoint of the second Mercury Retrograde phase of 2007, we’re also in the first few days of Uranus Retrograde, which began on June 23rd, just four short days ago, and that means we are still in the wake of some big waves of shift. We always feel big etheric bumps when Uranus changes direction, because Uranus catalyzes sudden reversals of fortune. And even when those twists are positive, it often takes time to take in what’s changed, and that time lag causes humans to suffer from disorientation, and when that happens regular routines, as in sleep patterns, suffer the consequences. What’s more, under the influence of this dual retrograde, even as psychic, emotional, mental, and physical adjustments are made to the new situation, there is a niggling sense of fluidity, as if the circumstances could change and change and then, change, again.

But that’s not all. Real time—if such a thing exists—undergoes chronological disruption, and while it’s easy to think that only trains and boats and planes will be disturbed, think again: schedules, electronic, personal or professional, become the sort of jumble that jangles nerves. Don’t be surprised if your friend shows up early for lunch, your boss is late for an important presentation, or you find yourself wishing someone a good weekend—and it’s only Monday.

While many of us have favorite episodes of the Twilight Zone, I’m afraid the same can’t be said for the Retro Zone. Even though Mercury Retrograde is a great time to slow down and reflect on choices, most of us, especially those whose lives are driven by technology, groan at the mere mention of the “R” word. So as the next twelve days unfold, try not to let frustration steal your energy and make you mean.  Serve your fellow humans, but not the way the cannibalistic aliens from the Twilight Zone did—don’t cook ‘em up for dinner. Be of service, by being kind.

June 20, 2007
This week, the planets are so busy, I feel like I should issue a warning about not getting overwhelmed by what you are about to read. The week is a marathon of intensity that’s certain to make the confident, nervous and the cocky, humble. While none of the action is pernicious, meltdowns are probable, particularly as the impossibility of getting anything done collides with the necessity of the moment. Unfortunately, no amount of planning is going to keep the week simple. So rather than despair, prepare, and assume a relaxed attitude that’s capable of taking the good, the bad, the stupid, the silly, and the unexpected in stride.

Here’s the breakdown: Mercury Retrograde, which started on June 15th and runs until late in the day on July 9th, wrecks the even flow of daily routines, as it wreaks havoc on every conceivable facet of communication and travel. Cell phones, computers, and all types of mail go kaput, and traffic, always a problem under a retrograde, snarls with delays and detours. Uranus, aka the Astro Geek, moves technology problems to the top of the retrograde snafu list, when it also goes retrograde on June 23rd and stays that way until November 24th. Known for catalyzing change, Uranus “turn arounds” tend to have an almost instantaneous effect, so don’t be surprised if promises, yours or others, made yesterday evaporate into thin air, tomorrow. What’s more, because nervous systems are Uranian first-responders, sleep patterns are sure to be disrupted.

Unfortunately, few of us are likely to have the necessary patience to endure the uneven pace of the week because Mars, never interested in retrospectives, is focused intensely on the present and actively pushing into the future. Mars forms two spectacular alliances—a trine to both Pluto and Saturn—that merge briefly into a Grand Trine in Fire. This exceptionally powerful configuration promotes a military air, indefatigable stamina, and packs the potential to accomplish the extraordinary. You can use it to override the retrograde, but be prepared for obstacles, and don’t be surprised if those obstructions take the guise of authority figures who demand strict adherence to the rules. A waning opposition between the Sun and Pluto continues to inspire despots, big and small.

But that’s not all. The last pass of the Saturn/Neptune opposition is exact on June 25th, and as it makes final contact, collective and personal neurosis could become even more exaggerated. But given the planetary dynamics of the week, the impact of this opposition could go unnoticed.

Of course, it will be impossible to ignore the Solstice and the start of summer on June 21st, especially as a Venus/Jupiter trine punctuates the start of the new season with beauty and grace.

This week, the challenge is figuring out how to cope a multitude of tasks, some of which could resemble several labors of Hercules. Don’t be dismayed if you feel like hiding under the covers. Just do what you can to manage, and when possible, offer assistance to others.

June 13, 2007
This week and next, a variety of planetary patterns turn daily life into an obstacle course of clashing agendas and conflicting attitudes. Some of us will want what we want, yesterday, while others will know only too well the impossibility of delivering anything before a week from tomorrow. Patience will be at a premium, and anyone able to refrain from melting down is certain to be nominated for sainthood. So don’t despair if you’re irritated, on edge, or leaking frustration. Just have the presence of mind to apologize when you’re out of line, and the graciousness to accept an apology when it comes your way.

The number one irritant is Mercury Retrograde, which begins on June 15th and continues until so late in the day on July 9th, we might as well call it July 10th. Those of you who know the drill also know that during a retrograde, a multitude of communication efforts and travel plans are destined for difficulty. For the astro-newbie, here’s the poop: Mercury represents all things related to communication and travel, which means its extensive territory extends into commerce, negotiations, and anything that has to do with language—which is just about everything. During a retrograde, every machine that shares information and delivers data is vulnerable to a breakdown of some kind. Mail, phones, faxes, computers, cash registers, and even traffic lights are known to go wacky. And when Uranus goes retrograde in ten days, technological trouble is certain. The best use of Mercury Retrograde is taking the time to review, reflect, and reconsider what’s already in motion, rather than attempting to initiate new plans and projects.

Unfortunately, the rest of the planets aren’t exactly in a retro state of mind, especially Mars, who leads the resistance and actively enlists several other planets to participate in a power-fest. First, the ongoing Mars/Sun sextile provides vitality and promotes ambition. Next, the ongoing Mars/Saturn trine continues to supply almost infinite endurance. And third, beginning tomorrow, a Mars/Pluto trine excites the atmosphere with the desire to succeed at almost any cost. These three powerful and dynamic Martian alliances demand forward motion, and as they collide with the slo-mo rewind of Mercury, the gears of daily life are sure to make grinding sounds we haven’t heard before. Don’t be frightened. And try not to mistake this external ruckus for the sound of your own teeth gnashing with frustration.

For the next several weeks, maintain your dignity by refusing to engage in negativity of any kind. Most importantly, avoid blame and gossip as a way of masking your anxiety or shortcomings. Instead, accentuate the positive and you’ll help everyone—including yourself—to manage the stress with skill.

June 6, 2007
The planets provide an extra push this week, and as they dial up the intensity, daily life feels as if it’s pinned at “eleven.” Expect to be intense about everything—even simple, quiet things. Also anticipate attitude—from just about everyone. We’re in the midst of one long exhale of feverish ambition and a heated need to succeed. And while I can’t guarantee the success of Spinal Tap, I can promise that during the course of the next several days most of us will feel big, brilliant, bold, and cheeky. Not surprisingly, humor will provide the best protection against self-importance, yours or others. So when possible allow laughter to lighten the load. Just don’t indulge in the type of sarcasm that makes you feel good at another’s expense. When the planetary pace accelerates, everything quickens, including instant karma.

Several sources contribute to this week’s over-the-top frequency. First, a Mars/Jupiter/Saturn trine encourages enterprise, industry, and strength of intention, a combination that translates into the will power to create almost anything. So don’t shelve an idea because you don’t have the resources. Right now is the time to be clear about what you want and to simultaneously be willing to do whatever it takes (within the law) to achieve your goals. The only drawback is the temptation to overextend. So think big, but also set healthy limits on your time and energy. Winning will be wonderful, but ulcers will definitely spoil the pleasure of personal satisfaction.

A Sun/Uranus square continues to catalyze clashes between fact and fiction, and those conflicts all too easily turn into defiant rebellion or spontaneous meltdowns. Because the Sun is in Gemini, the Sign of Information, some of these Sun/Uranus confrontations will be based on a lucid assessment of the facts. But because Uranus is in Pisces, the Sign of Intuition, data-defying leaps are also likely; so don’t be dismayed if you suddenly lose the logical thread of an argument. As with all Uranus interactions, it is best to look before your leap, if only because you might change your mind in midair.

A Jupiter/Sun opposition pushes the limits of excess and extravagance, particularly when it comes to dialogue, discourse, discussion, and just plain old chitchat. Jupiter is in Sagittarius. The Sun is in Gemini. And both Signs love—l-o-v-e—to talk. But more importantly, this irrepressible urge to share also promotes laughter, and that’s sure to provide relief from becoming too serious and losing a healthy perspective.

One more bit: Mercury Retrograde begins on June 15th, which means by this time next week daily life will start to slow down—another reason to make the most of this week’s booster energy. So set your personal amplifier, as well as your receiver at eleven and prepare to handle the cosmic blasts.

May 30, 2007
This week and the next several weeks, the planets are multitasking, and as they tackle a multitude of astral operations, earthly operating systems—thee and me—face the challenge of keeping up. Translation: We’re busy. Uber busy. Maybe, even too busy, because the physical and mental overload is likely to turn into overextension, which makes emotional overwhelm is probable. And that means meltdowns. Especially by the middle of June, when (Dare I say it?) the second Mercury Retrograde phase of 2007 kicks in, and regular routines turn into a pile up on the Information Highway. Here’s the good news: the planets also support the ability to handle multiple processes and maintain sanity. But riding the positive current means knowing your limitations and having the discipline to stay focused despite an excessive amount of attractive distractions.

While Mercury Retrograde doesn’t begin until June 15th, it would be wise to prepare now. Uranus also goes retrograde on June 23rd, and the combined retro effect transforms the entire Mercury Retrograde—June 15th-July 9th—into a techno-doozy. Mercury represents all “things” related to communication: phone, faxes, email, regular mail, computers, copiers, printers, and anything else you can think of (including a brain wave) that’s capable of sending or receiving a message. When Mercury retraces its path, all those “things” go a little screwy. If you’re familiar with normal snafus of a retrograde, pay attention, and back up everything now. Don’t wait until the last minute. If you’re new to Mercury Retrograde, next week’s column will explain in greater depth.

A bonfire of interaction between the Sun, in Gemini, Mars, in Aries, and Jupiter, in Sagittarius, is the source of this week’s intensity. (1) A Mars/Jupiter trine provides beaucoup ambition as it heats up a desire to create and to achieve. (2) For the next several weeks, a Sun/Mars sextile supplies the energy to pursue aspirations, as it simultaneously feeds the need to lead. (3) A Sun/Jupiter opposition inflates some of those desires into extravagant fantasies. The entire bundle promises big results, but it also carries the potential to squander time and money. Just say “no” to what you can’t comfortably handle, and you’ll avoid getting singed by the intensity.

By the weekend a Sun/Uranus square sets the pitch at “fever” and stirs the need for freedom, personal and collective. Unfortunately, this square often promotes revolution for its own sake, and these days freedom fighters seem to value violence more than life—a tragic, and unfathomable paradox of purpose.

The key to navigating the next couple of weeks is finding a comfortable personal pace capable of protecting you from burn out. So do your best to discern how much is too much. And as always during times of stress, be as kind as possible to yourself and others.

May 23, 2007
This week, we’re in the midst of several shifting planetary patterns, and while the overall picture is positive, the transition itself could be slightly disorientating. On one hand, two long-standing, powerful configurations are waning, and their diminishing influence is likely to be felt as a vague sense of “what’s missing?” Yet on the other, several strong signatures dominate the daily intensity. The contrast translates into gung-ho enthusiasm one day, and the next is an I-just-can’t-put-my-finger-on-it cloud of confusion. A relaxed attitude—somewhere between “no big deal” and “whatever”—would be the best way to handle this planetary change of air. But don’t completely tune out. There are still plenty of areas requiring consciousness and presence.

Two major configurations are releasing their hold:  The first is the Jupiter/Uranus square, which has served as the astro-explanation for the multitude of unanticipated plot twists. It’s separating and won’t be back until October. I’m tempted to say, “It’s safe to let go.” But sometimes, the last moments of a powerful configuration are the most potent—so a few more surprises wouldn’t really be so surprising.  The second major interaction is the Jupiter/Saturn trine, which has been so helpful in stabilizing some of the recent intensity. Frankly, I’m sad to feel it winding down and I’m going to miss this trine. It’s been so steadfastly idealistic, and it’s been such a relief to have a constant and consistent source of enthusiasm to feed the heart and lift the spirit.

The strength of the week comes from Mars—it’s in Aries, its Home Sign, where it is bold, strong, and enthusiastic about all sorts of challenges. For the next several weeks, Mars sextiles the Sun, forming a positive alliance that promotes industry and enterprise, as well as a healthy dose of ambition and competition. Expect lots of people—including you—to attempt something impossible by boldly and passionately pushing the envelope of positive exploration.

A Venus/Uranus trine adds a touch of eccentricity, sentimental and/or sexual, to everyday events, as it simultaneously enlivens artistic endeavors. Venus/Uranus contacts, known for quick, exciting encounters, are equally notorious for rapid dissolutions. So before you give your heart away, make sure you won’t mind if it’s returned the next day. If you’re not inclined toward impulsive love, this trine also stimulates flashes of inspiration—but you have to write them down or leave them as a voice mail message before they evaporate.

One more bit: The Sun is at the start of its journey through Gemini, a convivial, gregarious Sign known to thrive on sharing information, which means even if life feels like a muddle this week, plenty of people will be interested in sharing. And sometimes just talking about every little thing can make a transition easier to handle.

May 16, 2007
Dynamic planetary movement sharpens the focus this week, moving moods out of the Dreamtime and into the Me-Time, a time zone that concentrates the “now” but not in that be-in-the-moment Buddhist way. Be prepared for attitude as you, those you love, co-workers, or complete strangers insist on immediate gratification. Also anticipate sharp words, and expect some of those exchanges to sound more like guard dogs snarling than humans sharing a difference of opinion. You can also count on emotional responses interfering with routines—processing an innocent slip of the tongue, for example, could not only turn an entire schedule topsy-turvy, but also consume the extra energy of the day. Of course, not everyone will forget their manners and revert to completely to selfish or self-involved behavior. Some will remember that kindness, especially in times of upheaval, can often create a clear path through the most chaotic situation.

Mars is this week’s prime mood mover. Yesterday, Mars entered Aries, its Home Sign, a position that strengthens its fiery, tempestuous nature and stirs the same passion in us. Mars, in Aries, generates turbulence, inside and out, collective or persona, and that turmoil often translates into a restlessness that can’t quite be satisfied, no matter how hard we try. So be prepared for impulsive behavior, yours or others, and expect some of it to just be a nuisance. Mars is also the archetype of the Warrior, brave, determined, and able to take a stand. It represents, along with Aries, the principle of self-actualization, and both Mars and Aries also symbolize the process of individuation. Mars signifies the urge to feel separate and distinct from others. Aries symbolizes the desire to boldly go forth and conquer new territory and then, to develop a sense of self based on the experience of that activity.

For the next several weeks, as Mars transits Aries, life on Earth could turn into more of a “self-fest” than it already is. As you navigate and negotiate your way through the intensity, try to remember each of has Mars and Aries in our birth chart, which means all of us are going to be feeling the heat of the Me-Time somewhere in our lives. So when possible, be understanding.

May 9, 2007
Planetary patterns paint surreal pictures this week, and while we’re not quite living in the land of strange, getting grounded and staying that way will require effort. For some, this touch of odd translates into a moment or two of déjà vu or several moments of striking synchronicity. For others, this little bit of magic makes the ordinary less mechanical, a shift that stimulates memories long forgotten, but still vital. For most of us, the weird air is likely to be confusing or unsettling—not every excursion into the Dreamtime is guaranteed to be fun, and some can be downright disturbing, so best be prepared for a highly reactive emotional air.

A T-Square between Neptune, Saturn, and the Sun is a major contributor to this week’s surrealism. Difficult Sun/Saturn contacts tend toward inhibition. Add Neptune and that reserve can easily turn neurotic. Add stress, and you’ve got a crisis. The good news is that this entire bundle provides the potential for transformation. The not so good news is actualizing that potential means having the ability and the discipline to put the needs of others before your own.

While the on-going Jupiter/Uranus square offers the possibility of creative solutions, it also catalyzes, as well as exaggerates, the potential for unforeseen events. Interactions between Jupiter and Uranus are supposed to relieve stress with sudden, swift shifts, but, unfortunately, the abruptness of those changes also tends to challenge nervous systems. We’ve been under this influence for a while—last year it was the trine and now, it’s the square. So don’t be dismayed if you’re frazzled by what has felt like and continues to feel like a constant unraveling—just about everyone is suffering from the rigors of coping with uncertainty. And I’m not sure we’re “supposed” to see what comes next. The task, it seems, is learning to be present.

A square between the Sun and Pluto turns some of what happens heavy with cravings for power. Avoid disputes with despots, petty or otherwise, and above all, try not to force your agenda. Take your stand, but take it with humility. This pernicious influence begins to separate on Mother’s Day, which means some of those celebrations could turn slightly sour.

Use this week’s dreamy environment to enhance your intuitive skills. But be cautious—just because something is bizarre doesn’t mean it’s better than the ordinary. Most importantly, try not to judge the idiosyncratic behavior of others. What’s taboo to one tribe can be sacred to another.

May 2, 2007
This week, and the next several weeks, the planets provide a discombobulating mixture of the good, the bad, the excessive, and the strange. And while some of daily life remains predictable, much of the action unfolds with startling twists and turns, which means you can forget about reliable routines. You can also say “bye-bye” to the earthy, approach traditionally associated with the month of May, when the Sun is in the practical Sign of Taurus. Yes, it’s time to plant the garden, and yes, again, a lusty signature excites the days and nights, but out-of-body experiences are more likely than grounded ones, and sensual satisfaction, more astral than actual. Agitation is also probable, as unforeseen developments or events engender an edgy unrest that is simultaneously provocative and hypersensitive. It’s a complex couple of weeks and staying present will require concentration, so even if you feel scattered in a thousand directions, make an effort to stay conscious. What gets planted during the spring is harvested in the fall.

A clash between two major configurations generates a large portion of the psychic static. The first, an on-going Jupiter/Saturn trine, provides stability in the form of patience and perseverance, as it simultaneously strengthens a commitment to the discipline of living a principled life. Unfortunately, the second configuration, a Mars/Uranus conjunction that also squares Jupiter, is just the opposite: it’s super volatile—almost the antimatter to the Jupiter/Saturn trine—and utterly unpredictable. When Mars and Uranus share the same space even the air quivers with uncertainty, in large part because Uranus is always about surprise, but also because both planets—Mars and Uranus—need to move, and it is often a contest as to which planet is the fastest. Be aware, this conjunction is frequently associated with accidents, so do your best to move wisely rather than hastily. Jupiter amps up the already antsy by exaggerating the potential of the sudden shifts catalyzed by Uranus. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it generally is. And while it won’t be easy resisting most of the excitement, if you make even a small effort to stay focused, you’ll probably avoid being swept away.

Sometimes, something completely unexpected—something out of the clear blue sky—has the potential to catalyze and transform a stagnant or problematic situation. And while actualizing the actual shift is often uncomfortable, it is almost always worth the effort. So as the next few weeks unfold, make your mantra, “change is my friend” and you’ll open to the possibility of transformation.

April 25, 2007
Regular routines fall apart this week, and as “things” crumble, people succumb to the stress of shift. Anticipate family and friends, as well as acquaintances, personal or professional, to show the wear and tear of psychic tension. Ragged nerves could lead to emotional meltdowns. And while these episodes may seem to erupt out of nowhere, they may actually be result of collective post-traumatic stress disorder. So many of Earth’s inhabitants are so overwhelmed by the presence of so much violence, we may have reached a peculiar type of critical mass, where even those not directly exposed to a direct threat are deteriorating from the strain of an already overloaded atmosphere. Fortunately, not everyone is decompensating, and fortunately, again, planetary patterns also support the sort of altruistic idealism that inspires helping those in need. Where you can, offer a kind word or soothing touch.

The epicenter of this week’s intensity is a Mars/Uranus conjunction. Notorious for its volatility, this conjunction agitates nervous systems and inclines attitudes toward belligerence. Of course, that swagger is likely to be a defense mechanism. And while false bravado won’t necessarily quell a frightened spirit, a preemptive posture can often provide an effective protective shield. Jupiter squares both Mars and Uranus, and while Jupiter is fundamentally benign, its tendency toward excess could further excite the already explosive nature of the Mars/Uranus conjunction. Don’t be surprised if you or those close to you have a short fuse or jump to conclusions before you’ve presented all the facts.

Venus provides a complex remedy to the intensity. First, Venus squares the Mars/Uranus conjunction, stimulating the physical senses, especially erotic arousal, but also stimulating artistic inspiration. Next, Venus opposes Jupiter, a position known to foster melodrama, but also famous for its desire for harmony. Third, and the one I’m puttin’ my money on to soothe the volatility, Venus sextiles Saturn, a positive alliance containing the potential to cool the air and settle the atmosphere. Saturn abhors volatility, and because Saturn also trines Jupiter, this entire Venus/Jupiter/Saturn bundle has capacity to move intentions out of the purely personal and into a broader, more expansive perspective capable of unselfish concern for the welfare of others. Venus is, after all, the goddess of values, as well as love. And when she sets her sights on a Higher Love, we mere mortal experience genuine concern for our fellow travelers.

This week, whether you fall apart or hold it together, take a moment to contemplate the complexity of life on earth. Yes, suffering is omnipresent, but so is love—we just have to reach for it.

April 18, 2007
Planetary fire continues to inspire, and this week, astral sparks ignite minds to reach high, wide, and deep for answers and solutions to a multitude of questions and problems, personal and collective. Expect to be brilliant—just be prepared for everyone else to possess equally dazzling intellectual prowess. Also anticipate plenty of super-charged opinions, and because it’s hard staying humble in the heat of such keen insight, be ready for brush fires of omnipotence, yours or others, to flare up into competitive confrontations. The best way to navigate the intensity is to stay curious rather than certain. Also, keep in mind, if mental might alone could find a cure for every condition, suffering would already be a thing of the past.

Mercury, in Aries, leads the fire walk this week, as it forms yet another Grand Trine in Fire with Saturn, in Leo, and Jupiter, in Sagittarius. Mercury represents the intellect, and its domain includes all things related to language and communication. When Mercury travels through Aries, minds tend to be quick, a little nervous, but definitely creative. When Mercury forms a positive union with Saturn, its potential manifests as astute perceptions, capable of getting to the core of a situation without a lot of fuss. When Mercury unites with Jupiter, its mental meanderings become a treasure trove of ideas that are simultaneously visionary, as well as practical. This entire bundle can invigorate new insights into old stagnant situations, or, simply inspire a whole new way of thinking. Period. Whatever you choose, just try to remember, there is always lag time between what we envision and what we create, which means no matter how quick the mind is working, patience is a necessary component of transforming that vision into reality.

The Sun, in Aries until Friday, when it moves into Taurus, is also still in a trine to Pluto, an angle that translates into strong power drives. By Sunday, that need to succeed collides with a Mars/Uranus conjunction, which represents power surges of every kind from extraordinary efforts to needless violence. The conjunction is also the signature for accidents; another reason to make patience a companion.

This week, as you experience the planetary fire, try not to let the potential for accelerated brainpower, yours or others, go to your head. Lots of puzzles are sure to be solved, but it’s also important to remember some answers elude the mind, no matter how smart or well trained. Remember, on Planet Earth, you gotta feel to heal.

April 11, 2007
The stars continue to stoke the fires of desire this week, and from lovers to friends to family to children to pets to best-laid plans planetary patterns transform the mundane into the thrilling. Expect to be passionate—and then some—about everything, especially who and what you love, and why. This astral fire also fuels a rapid rate of shift and its power—the power to change lives—needs physical expression, so rather than playing passive, provide a pathway for the intensity. Aim this force at the areas of life in need of encouragement and inspiration, and the embers of your intention will sustain personal passion long after the actual fire has died down.

A Grand Trine in Fire between the Sun, in Aires, Saturn, in Leo, and Jupiter, in Sagittarius, continues to be the source of intensity. For those readers who think I never write about anything happy or positive, pay attention: There is just no denying the dynamism of this configuration—its hopeful, optimistic, enthusiastic and joyous. The Sun, in Aries, symbolizes the irrepressible urge to be. Saturn, in Leo, signifies the refinement of that urge into the courage to be. And Jupiter, in Sagittarius, represents the harmony of being that occurs when head and heart, as well as body and soul, are aligned and work in unison. Okay…maybe I’m exaggerating the perfection of this Grand Trine in Fire—but not by much. Of course, some among us will resist this heavenly blaze, and perhaps wisely, particularly if it ignites unforeseen or unwelcome drama. But resistance is likely to be the exception rather than the rule. The majority of us are sure to welcome an opportunity to feel inspired, especially about the aspects of our lives in need of vision, hope, and joy.

The Sun also moves into a trine with Pluto, this week, and that translates into an even more intensified political arena. Pluto, despite its demotion, is still all about power and when it is makes a positive connection with the Sun, you can almost see ambition crackle through the atmosphere. Be prepared for ego-driven agendas, yours or others. But because this week’s heavenly fire also impacts the collective, it is also probable that altruistic agendas will gain traction.

This week, allow yourself to be transformed by the power of passion. But don’t worry—large leaps aren’t the only available choices; a change of heart, while imperceptible to onlookers, can facilitate subtle but dramatic consequences. And remember, the fire that animates and sustains life is common to all sentient beings. So when possible, be equally enthusiastic about the exploits of your fellow travelers.

April 4, 2007
For the next several weeks, earthly life unfolds with truly “special effects” and while it would be an exaggeration to assume that each day will unfold like a non-stop action-packed passion play, it would also be an understatement to downplay the possibility of the ordinary transforming into the extraordinary. The planets are powering intensity—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—and as these deep celestial currents couple with human desire, many of us will be called to seize the day—everyday. Unfortunately, the underbelly of this power-packed pattern is an undeniable tendency toward egocentricity. And that means you can expect lots of us—including thee and me (as well as previously perfectly behaved dogs)—to be humming (or howling) endless choruses of My Way. The best way to avoid getting seduced by this narcissistic force is to allow the excitement to keep you curious. And humble. Make an effort to inquire about opinions and choices other than your own. You may not agree with alternative choices or solutions, but simply considering an opposing point of view will keep you connected to reality.

A Grand Trine in Fire between the Sun, in Aries, Saturn, in Leo, and Jupiter in Sagittarius provides the thrills. Fire Signs thrive on action, and when all three form a positive union, sparks of excitement ignite an enthusiasm for life. Aries must go and see what’s on the other side of the Moon. Leo has to personalize the adventure. And Sagittarius isn’t fully alive if its pack back isn’t filled with relics from recent (read on-going) expeditions. And these exploits don’t have to actually happen—mental meanderings can suffice (Well…maybe not for Aries.).

Fire Signs can’t survive without inspiration, which is why they so often provide it for others, and when their idealism is threatened, disappointment can turn life into a bitter flat line. Remember, each of us has every Sign somewhere in our charts, and that means all of us experience that Fire somewhere in our lives. There are many benefits to this astral heat, but there are also a couple of challenges, especially the tendency to believe that your excellent adventure is more righteous than another’s. As Bob Dylan once sang, “I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.”

As you work your way through the intensity, try to be generous of spirit. Taking the time to respect the passions of others will not only act as a remedy for egocentricity, it will simply make the world a better place to live for all of us.

March 28, 2007
Words won’t escape you or anyone else this week—everyone, even the most silent among us, is going to have something to say about every little thing that happens. And while much of what’s said may sound like chatter, don’t be too quick to dismiss loquacious excursions. The celestial field is an active combination of astute perception and passionate action, where thought turns into deed. Riding this energy without making promises you don’t want to keep requires a commitment to mindfulness, as well as honesty. Do whatever it is you do to stay in the moment, try to listen kindly to others who may not be as dedicated to consciousness, but also stay focused on what you ultimately want to create.

Mercury holds the talking stick. It’s currently conjunct Uranus, in Pisces, and when these two “excitables” share the same space imagination, ideas, and insight flow, unrestricted, unrestrained, and untrammeled. Mercury is language. Uranus is lightning-quick. Pisces is Intuition. And the whole megillah produces quick repartee, as well as the ability to take in the “long view.” Think: complex equations suddenly made simple by an intuitive grasp of the mathematical formula.” So don’t be surprised if you don’t understand a word that’s said but completely get the concept. Venus sextiles this conjunction, and her presence amps-up creativity. Be aware her touch could be romantic, which means you might want to also be prepared for sudden declarations of love. What’s more, Jupiter squares both Mercury and Uranus, an angle that easily fuels the desire to respond to every idea and inspiration as if it were the only one. And while that passion is admirable, it could also scatter energies far and wide.

But it’s Mars who puts the pedal to the metal—mighty Mars, King of Spring, is finally free from Saturn’s demanding oppositional presence, and as Mars pulls away it settles into a sextile with Pluto. Which means we mere mortals have an opportunity to dial down the confrontational attitude of the last couple of weeks—just a tad. Don’t expect miracles—Mars/Pluto is still a whole lot of energy. But when Mars and Pluto form a positive alliance, they engender big bursts of power and that’s what puts the “do” behind this week’s ideas.

The entire world can change in an instant, but “instant karma” doesn’t only mean bad karma. Instant karma can also be enormously positive—a new job, winning lottery ticket, career promotion, unexpected romance, kindness from a stranger, compassion for the enemy, or the arrival of a newborn. So as you work your way through the world, try to keep heads and hearts open to the positive possibilities of change.

March 21, 2007
It’s spring, the time of year when restive winds stir impatient spirits, impulse overrides caution, and the first hint of the sun’s heat sparks irrepressible desire. ‘Tis the season to be both bold and brave, so don’t be surprised if you or someone you love is more than a little feisty, and maybe even belligerent or confrontational. Despite a collective conceit that our technological culture is more advanced than our cave-person predecessors, the first days and weeks of spring are still all about leaving the caves of winter and venturing forth for supplies. Translation: We’re still clubin’ each other and grabbin’ the spoils of war. Which makes the riddle for week figuring out how to handle this edgy energy without vanquishing a neighbor or repressing instinct. Keep in mind, the shift into spring is often the most uncomfortable seasonal transition of all simply because it’s a move from stasis into activity. So try not to be too hard on yourself or others if the coming weeks seem awkward or inelegant.

Mars, Archetype of the Warrior, as well as the Ruler of Aries, the first Sign of the zodiac and the Sign that signals the start of spring, plays a major role in this week’s planetary patterns: Mars is opposite Saturn, sextile Jupiter, and conjunct Neptune, a messy gang of three befitting the challenge of seasonal change. (1) A Mars/Saturn opposition tends toward tests of strength, but those trails easily devolve into cruel or brutal confrontations over self-ish concerns. When possible, avoid self-righteous battles, and instead of pushing, back off and wait for a better time. (2) Because Jupiter thinks “big”, its sextile with Mars, while positive, exaggerates the Martian “might for right” attitude and inflates the already agitated atmosphere. Be aware, Jupiter could also put an altruistic gloss on not so selfless motives. (3) A Mars/Neptune conjunction further complicates the confusion between the selfishness and selflessness, because it obscures true intentions and blurs boundaries—yours and others. The combined result is a low-grade irritability about what constitutes valid needs, an issue that is certain to intensify the seasonal restlessness disorder of spring. 

Mars also signifies vitality, vigor, courage, an insatiable curiosity about what lies ahead, as well as an abiding appreciation for new vistas. It just doesn’t like complication. And unfortunately, this week, complications can’t be avoided. So do your best not to get bogged down by sticky exchanges, hurt feelings, bruised egos, or eruptions of resentment. Remember, each of us will be facing this intensity somewhere in our lives, so when possible be kind toward your fellow travelers.

March 14, 2007
This week and next, the quality of mercy is definitely strained and kindness isn’t likely to fall as a “gentle rain.” A “hard rain” would be more like it—thunderclouds of frustration could easily turn into storms of harsh words, with winds gusts strong enough to transform previously non-charged situations into close encounters of a mean kind. Forget your umbrella—only a helmet will do. But pay attention. When the heavens brood, we would be wise to listen, closely, to what we are doing and saying to each other, to ourselves, and to our planet. Unfortunately, clarity won’t come easy. For while these planetary interactions can be used as a mirror for self-awareness, the mirror has a crack, and that fracture focuses the process of reflection through as well as on imperfection. Be wary of judging others too hard or too fast. Instead, be honest and humble about how well you walk your talk. Remember: You spot it. You got it.

A Mars/Saturn opposition spearheads the intensity. Mars symbolizes self-assertion in all its forms, from the anger to ambition to a warrior’s stand for the welfare of others regardless of what that position might cost. Saturn represents the ability to discern, from the myopia of black and white to a thousand shades of grey. Oppositions signify tension and its release. At its lowest, this Mars/Saturn opposition turns previously harsh opinions held in silence into cruel words, frustration into violence, or confusion into futility. Mars/Saturn contacts are at their best when they are aimed at specific tasks requiring concentration, tireless effort, and an almost superhuman capacity to endure.

But we’re also in the midst of another eclipse—this time it’s a solar eclipse on March 18th, which makes handling this week’s hot air tricky.  During a solar eclipse, unconscious drives dominate conscious concerns and previously undisclosed feelings spill to the surface of daily interactions. That’s great if candor is your goal, but it can also be devastating. Pluto squares both the eclipse Sun and Moon, a position that translates into power issues. Anticipate deep-seated desires to ripple across personal and collective ponds, and expect some of those waves to transform into tsunamis.

This week, make a commitment to non-judgment, but be cautious about identifying with the victim—in certain cases suffering can be a catalyst for change. And try not to mistake compassion for permission. Most importantly, before you blame or judge your fellow travelers too harshly try to remember the words of Carl Jung: Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to greater understanding of ourselves.

March 7, 2007
This week, last week’s erratic rhythms start to settle down, and while pulses still quiver and hearts continue to beat fast, daily life takes on a somewhat smoother groove. Just don’t let the absence of obvious upset lull you into a false sense of ease. Extreme ups and downs may diminish, but the intensity remains, and it is pretty much constant. Fortunately, it’s also passionate and its celestial fire generates enough heat to tackle really big issues and projects with enthusiasm. Especially areas of life previously classified as too big or emotionally overwhelming—the hall closet, a new exercise regimen, a career course correction, or a confrontation with a close friend or significant other about reasonable expectations or previously denied feelings. The challenge of the week is figuring out how to handle the heat without getting singed, so when possible, even if it seems improbable, protect yourself through moderation. There’s just no telling how a tiny bit of practical restraint and kind consideration for the feelings of others might help to steer a situation back to safety.

The first contributor to week’s intensity is Mercury Direct—yes, the Retrograde ends tonight, close to midnight, Eastern Time, and it won’t be back again until June 15th. Normally, the first few days of direct motion tend to feel logey. But not this week—it’s zero to sixty in the blink of an eye.

And that speedy transition is a result of a Grand Trine in Fire that sparks exuberant, optimistic, determination. We’re already under the influence of a Jupiter/Saturn trine. Jupiter is in Sagittarius, the Sign of perspective, Saturn is in Leo, the Sign of self-expression, and their positive alliance serves us well. Saturn supplies Jupiter with enough realism to turn its wildly expansive dreams real, as Jupiter simultaneously supports Saturn’s search for the authentic courage to be—a quest that began in 2005, when Saturn entered Leo. Now, Venus ups the ante and transforms this dynamic duo into a creative ménage a trois that fuels hearts, minds, and bodies with creative inspiration, as well as the eagerness to turn these flashes of brilliance into action. We love this. Venus is the goddess of love and beauty and her presence tweaks the combined depth of Jupiter/Saturn graceful with warmth. Use this Grand Trine to bolster confidence—yours or others—and also mend fences with positive constructive insight.

Of course, this Venus is in Aries, a placement that makes her impulsive is also impulsive, which means some of us may be leaping before thinking. But this week that might not be such a bad thing—sometimes it takes an irresistible impulse to motivate us out of paralysis and into action.

February 28, 2007
Planetary power surges pulse through this week and the next several weeks, turning life here on planet earth into a confusing collection of uneven rhythms. One minute, daily life feels like a hip hop sample, the next minute it’s an homage to funk, and a moment later, it’s Swing Time with Fred and Ginger. The conflicting cadence makes consistency impossible, so don’t waste too much time trying to make life “regular.” The hidden danger in this percussive cacophony is a strong tendency toward trance dancing as a way of coping with the absence of a steady backbeat. But before you tune out, tune in. These power surges translate into beaucoup energy—more than enough to tackle what’s tough or what needs attention.

Here’s the breakdown:  (1) It’s the last week of Mercury Retrograde. Technically it ends on March 7th, but so late in the day, the 8th would be a wiser call. During a retrograde, Mercury seemingly moves behind instead of ahead and all things related to communication and travel—Mercury’s major domains—also seem to move in reverse. It’s a one step forward two steps sideways pattern of interference and interruptions, and because a retrograde river cannot be pushed, patience is the best way to handle its indirect course. Take your time and allow others to do the same.

(2) While Mercury puts the emphasis on the past, a Sun/Uranus conjunction aims at the future. When the Sun and Uranus share the same space, that union engenders an enormous appetite for freedom. Expect ultimatums, monologues, diatribes, and any other form of soliloquy aimed at breaking free from tyranny, inside and out, personal or collective.

(3) A Lunar Eclipse on March 3rd could turn some of those rants surprisingly sensible. During a lunar eclipse, when the Sun overshadows the Moon, conscious concerns override unconscious drives and a pragmatic focus on reality cancels the field of dreams. But don’t take the practical for granted. A lunar eclipse during a Mercury Retrograde could make moving through the mundane more like swimming through molasses than managing reality. Eclipses also distort time, which is another reason why finding and holding a steady pace is elusive. What’s more, there’s also a solar eclipse on March 18th and that translates into a heightened sense of anticipation about what lies ahead.

The best way through these odd time signatures is a commitment to being present in the present—the true power spot. The here and now is after all the place where the past and future converge, which makes it the best place to witness, to participate, and to grow.

February 21, 2007
Crosscurrents surge through schedules this week, turning regular routines into a strange brew of unpredictable events and emotions—one minute you’re rushing to keep a long-standing appointment and the next moment you realize it was cancelled two weeks ago. Don’t be surprised if the vacillations of the week are more that a little wearying. Life’s been wacky for a while now and the “excitement” is exhausting. What’s more, holding on too tightly to a consistent pace, planned activities or promises to show up on time might get you trapped in a gap of paralysis. The best way through the “madness” is an easy attitude that not only forgives mistakes, but also allows for human foibles—especially your own.

Astro savvy readers may have already guessed that the source of this week’s erratic pattern is Mercury Retrograde. It started on February 13th and continues until March 7th (but ends so late in the day, you might as well call it March 8th). Mercury symbolizes every conceivable form of communication and travel, from consciousness itself to rush hour traffic jams, and its enormous domain includes letters, music, phones, faxes, television, and telecommunication devices not yet invented, as well as tollbooths, speed traps, and train, bus, and plane schedules. Used properly, Mercury Retrograde is a great time to slow down and review, reconsider, and refine works already in progress. But given the advent of spell check and auto-format not too many of us are interested in culling through the details of life with a fine-tooth comb, nit-picking for perfection. Ours is a techno-reliant culture—we want it all, we want it now, and we want it wireless. And that appetite for instant gratification turns the contemporary Mercury Retrograde into a nightmare of meltdowns, as computers, satellites, routers, networks, email, downloads, uploads, and TiVos reveal secret inner lives unrelated to their human “owners.”

Uranus continues to add instability to an already uncertain climate, as it continues to square Jupiter, and as the week progresses, the Sun moves into a conjunction with Uranus, an intimate relationship that feeds a need for freedom from what’s ordinary. Don’t be surprised if you or someone you love insists on living in a fantasy world. Just be prepared for close encounters with undeniable reality to challenge those musings, as a Saturn/Neptune opposition sends harsh jolts of the actual through these imaginal musings.

But don’t throw away your copy of the Kama Sutra in disappointment or your Blackberry in a fit of retrograde frustration. Instead, breathe, deeply, and try to see this week and next as a marathon of opportunities to practice patience with machines as well as humans. Remember, it’s a cell phone, not your “precious.”

February 14, 2007
It’s Valentine’s Day and the planets are singing songs of love. From passionately romantic to the deliciously creative to the pure pleasure of the Platonic to the adoration of and for a four-legged friend, it’s a love-fest and it cannot be denied. And really, who would want to? A day set aside for love? Always a good idea, and why not make it everyday. And if not the whole day, how about once a day? For no reason at all. Or perhaps because a burning desire to change the world and chant “Strawberry Fields forever” is fostering a need to connect heart-to-heart.  No, I haven’t lost my mind. I’m not on drugs. I’m simply under the influence of the stars and intoxicated by the potential of compassion to change in the world.

Several prime movers create this week’s starry tableau. First, a Venus/Mars sextile unlocks passion and frees amorous attitudes. It’s the female and male principle working together—no bickering, nitpicking, or projection (well, maybe just a little). Venus is the goddess of love and beauty. Mars is the virile yang to her yin, and when they work together, their harmony is irresistible. You don’t have to be in love to experience the power of this positive union. All artistic endeavors flourish under Mars/Venus contacts because they allow the joining of creativity with the material world or inspiration with the muscle to make those dreams reality.

The other force powering the celestial machine this week is Mercury Retrograde. Yes—it’s back. For the first time this year, Mercury is making of its three annual “turn arounds” and as it seemingly retraces its path, we revisit ours. Most of you know the drill, but for those that don’t, from now until late in the day on March 7th (so make that March 8th) try to avoid software or hardware installations, new cars, making travel reservations, or thinking there is a short cut to anything and everything related to communication and travel. Those are Mercury’s two main domains, and when Mercury is reviewing, forward motion happens in fits and starts and daily life is a bluster of delays and detours.

Mercury Retrograde is about slowing down and considering the details of what’s already in motion. But because this Mercury Retrograde has a distinctly Uranian edge the next three weeks are punctuated by surprising developments that defy predictive patterns. This is why we love love. What better remedy for the frustration of a retrograde than an open heart, ready, willing, and able to transform a grudge, forget a misstep, or forgive words spoken in haste or carelessness. Remember, we’re all just doing the best we can—and that’s a lot.

February 7, 2007
Everything from sleep patterns to business negotiations to romantic interludes to casual conversations to a quick trip to the corner store for the morning paper turn ever so slightly squirrelly this week. And while you could say it’s just another episode of the “Unpredictables” brought to you by the Uranian Broadcast System, that wouldn’t be entirely true. Yes, Uranus, planet of surprise and spontaneity, continues to spawn startling events that shake the status quo. But this week’s wobbles are different from all others because the first Mercury Retrograde cycle of 2007 begins in six days and that means time distortions also contribute to the unsettled atmosphere. Don’t be unnerved if you think it’s Wednesday, when it’s Tuesday, or Thursday, when it’s Friday. Also don’t be hard on yourself or others if long-standing, we’ve-been-doing-this-for-twenty-years appointments are suddenly scratched. Most importantly, keep those multidimensional beanies from last week on—the ET ride isn’t over and those messages from outer space continue to clog the airways. And while Mercury Retrograde makes translating the planetary code even more complex, there’s no reason to be anxious—Mercury Retrograde is not the devil.

For those of you new to Mercury Retrograde, it’s a period of about three weeks that occurs three times a year, when Mercury appears to be moving “backwards” in the sky and all things (or at least most things) within its vast domain—language, communication, and travel—tend to go “backwards” as well. Mercury begins its retrograde late in the day on February 13th, but the three days prior to the official “turn around” are certain to be frustrating with detours. Leave yourself plenty of time to deal with changes—yours or others. Retrogrades wreck havoc with schedules, and because projects initiated under Mercury Retrograde tend to be plagued by delays, it’s always best to try to put plans in motion before the retrograde takes over.

The good news is there’s nothing pernicious about Mercury Retrograde, unless of course you’re an “A-Type” in a hurry to get everything done yesterday. And here’s the better news for those aggressive, got to get “it” done today types—this Mercury Retrograde isn’t likely to cramp your style. Uranus drives most of the action for the next couple of weeks and that means even a Retrograde won’t slow things down too much. What’s more, this retrograde could provide all sorts of surprises, especially visitations from the past friends as well as lovers.

This week, as Uranus gets tight with Mercury, it also continues to broadcast several other unusual signals—it’s conjunct Venus, singing songs of love, sextile Mars, chanting oaths of freedom, and square Jupiter, which means it’s speaking in tongues. This entire bundle challenges the routines of daily life—but really, who cares? Uranus is pulsing out rhythms of change. Resist, and the days are likely to become a jumble of interruptions and interference. Embrace the erratic, and life could become a trance dance of transformation.

January 31, 2007
This week and the next several weeks, eclectic messages pulse through the ethers. Deciphering these astral signals requires more than the “normal” amount of intuition—you’re going to need a broadband connection capable of downloading obvious messages quickly, but also able to distinguish subtle communiqués from multi-dimensional spam. So dust off those extraterrestrial beanies that were so popular in the mid-nineties, attach the UFO antennae, aim the whole megillah at the sky, and prepare to be bombarded by transmissions. (If you don’t have a beanie and can’t find one at the thrift store, you can make your own out of a coat hanger, aluminum foil and a musketeer hat. Yamakas won’t work—the shape is right, but you’ll still need the round mouse ears for improved reception.) Make sure you also do whatever it takes to strengthen your center. An internal sense of direction is essential to skillfully navigating the waves.

Uranus continues to be the source of this week’s deep space messages. (1) Even though the Jupiter/Uranus square is separating, it is still sending ripples of unexpected change across psychic ponds, personal and collective. While some of those sudden shifts of fate may be unwelcome or uncomfortable, don’t dismiss them as unnecessary. Sometimes the only way some of us adapt our behavior is when unpredictable shift forces us out of the comfort zone of habit.

(2) The Mars/Uranus sextile continues to fee healthy ambition, as it simultaneously stimulates nervous systems. This sextile is not “bad”—it just electrifies the ethers. Try not to confuse its agitated frequency with anxiety, or allow it to push you too hard or make you hasty. If you can’t cope with the pace, breathe, deeply, as many times as necessary to bring you back into your body.

(3) Venus, Goddess of Love and Beauty, moves into a conjunction with Uranus by the weekend. When these two planetary forces unite, they engender a profound reception to creative inspiration—another reason you’re going to want a multidimensional cosmic translation device. Just be aware, under this influence, you can fall in love one moment and out of love the next.

Other planetary patterns also make a contribution: A Sun/Jupiter sextile also continues to light up the days with optimistic attitudes, but by Monday and continuing for two weeks, a Sun/Saturn opposition will strike a somber chord that’s likely to challenge the joy of Jupiter, as well as the spontaneity of Uranus. Just don’t expect Saturn to hold Uranus back for long. Uranus is far too busy as an Agent of Change to be paying much attention to Saturn’s insistence on the status quo.

Honoring your sixth sense is probably the only way to make sense of the next several weeks of astro-interaction. So when possible find the time to tune in and deepen your capacity to listen not only to what’s being said, but also to what isn’t. And remember, each of us will be experiencing the same multitude of message, which means patience is sure to be the wisest and kindest of allies.

January 24, 2007
This week, an eccentric astral wind blusters its way through normal routines, spawning a multitude of “got to have it now” tornadoes. And while dealing with these emergencies is sure to gobble up seconds, minutes, and hours of much-needed time, this same wind also inspires the creativity to make unusual choices. Some of those decisions, yours or others, blow minds—yours or others. This change of air also arouses an atmosphere of uncertainty that stimulates a certain level of discomfort, especially as conditions you thought were stable suddenly start to wobble on their foundations. Expect surprising flurries of fate to propel you out of one situation and into another. And here’s the thing: You can resist this change of air and spend your energy holding on, or you can participate, and quite possibly make a fairly easy adjustment to the new psychic and emotional environment.

As some of you (okay, as most of you) may have already guessed, Uranus is the source of this week’s shift. And its presence can be felt on several levels: (1) The on-going Uranus/Jupiter square that was exact on January 22nd is ending. Now, as this edgy interaction pulls apart, “separation” anxiety sets nervous systems quivering with excitement. These “thrills” all too easily translate into impulsive behavior that seems to come completely out the blue. Of course, there are sure to be “reasons” for these sudden shifts, but those motivations may be so deeply buried in the unconscious, it’s impossible to see these declarations of independence as anything other than spontaneous decisions made in the heat of the moment. As you cope with the intensity, try to keep in mind that what’s erupting may have more to do with what’s been brewing for a while than it does with the actual situation.

(2) A Mars/Uranus sextile increases appetites for freedom, which means rebels everywhere will be singing songs of freedom—loudly. For some, this positive warrior configuration only exacerbates violence, but for others, it provides the necessary “oomph” to take a stand for a positive cause. This sextile can also be put to good use supporting any kind of endeavor that needs concentrated effort. Just keep in mind, demonizing the opposition isn’t the only way of fortifying courage.

(3) Four planets—the Sun, Mercury, Neptune, and Venus—in Aquarius, Uranus’ Home Sign, a concentration that amps up the already innovative, but erratic environment. Also keep in mind, Aquarius thrives on innovation, which means this alignment is sure also spur positive invention.

Uranus is a lightning bolt of change, and when it strikes a stagnant situation, it provides the potential to transform lead into gold. Of course, transformational processes are often painful, especially when resistance enables clinging to a comfort zone. But transformation can also be a positive experience, particularly when we’re curious about life and willing to ride the waves of uncertainty.

January 17, 2007
Releases, personal and collective, major and minor, ripple through the routines of daily life, this week, and while some of these discharges could actually increase stress, others provide almost instantaneous relief. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to predict how any one situation will unfold. Uranus, planetary master of the unpredictable, dominates the astro-team, and when Uranus has the ball, there’s no sussing out the play before it happens, which means the best way to navigate this week’s seemingly random patterns is to stay as present as you can. As a friend’s eight-year old recently deduced when he was trying to learn about the concept of time, “The only real time is now.” 

We’re coming out a pernicious Mars/Pluto conjunction, and when tense planetary configurations separate we tend to experience the full thrust of the intensity. One signature of this conjunction is people injured through violence or disabled by war, and as Bush promotes war against the wishes of the majority of Americans, those injuries are sure to increase exponentially over the next several weeks. From a personal perspective, as Mars and Pluto separate, repressed emotions are likely to rise to the surface. Don’t be surprised if you or someone you love—or even the stranger sitting next to you on the bus—erupts with anger or anxiety. The personal and the collective are inextricably bound and each of us can easily become a local release valve for global catharsis. Of obvious solution is to try to be thoughtful and compassionate, but as most of us with at least the wish to be grounded in the practicalities of life know, taking the high road of kindness isn’t always easy. What’s more, denying or stuffing negative feelings doesn’t make them go away. Catharsis isn’t only about letting go—it’s a process, and over the next several weeks, a process many of us will experience. So try to learn from those uncomfortable feelings as they arise. If you’re suddenly screaming at someone about how much something costs, ask yourself how much the terror of not having enough is driving your rage.

A Uranus/Jupiter square wraps the entire week in an atmosphere of uncertainty, which only exacerbates the tension. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any positive possibilities. The really odd thing about Uranus/Jupiter contacts is that even a fractious alliance can deliver beneficial results. So keep in mind, while this square definitely supports an urge for personal freedom despite the consequence to others, it also encourages liberation from whatever enslaves. 

Release can bring relief but it can also create chaos, especially if part of letting go means giving up old structures that have propped up opinions and behaviors that are no longer relevant. Don’t be surprised if the past is present or you can’t see the future. Just do whatever it is you do to stay grounded in what matters most to you, and remember, the potential to heal past, present, and future is always present in the power of now.

January 10, 2007
It’s edgy, all week long, and a sharp ping of intensity punctuates daily life, turning even the simplest tasks complex with tension. Left on its own, this intensity is likely to produce anxiety of every variety—personal or collective, specific or nonspecific, real or imaginary. Don’t be surprised if you or those you love take to fretting over all those things emotional bodies cling to in times of stress. The good news—yes, there is good news—is this very same power can be channeled into endeavors in need of focus, concentration, and determination. So be prepared with alternate activities. That way, if you find yourself suddenly facing the challenge of a short emotional fuse, yours or others, your “rescue remedy” will be close at hand.

The source of the heat is a Pluto/Mars conjunction, in Sagittarius, which is exact and separating on Saturday. These two planets both represent energy—Mars symbolizes physical strength, Pluto, atomic strength, and when they share the same space, that combined presence often translates into sheer brute force. Be careful who you bully—“the first one now, will later be last.” Fortunately, Saturn trines this conjunction, and because Saturn thrives on structure, this positive angle provides the potential for constructive pathways to handle excess energy. And that means we have a choice: push through obstacles at any cost or, choose to be deliberate and precise.

Recently (as in moments before I started writing this column) I read a New York Times article on the idea of choice: “Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t” that questions whether or not we humans are actually free to choose anything, from desserts to world peace. I love this question because it’s a big, juicy perfect question for a new year, especially when it comes to astrology. Do the planets determine destiny or do we? As Geoffrey Cornelius, an English astrologer asks, “Is astrology merely a machine of destiny, grinding out fate? Or, is something else happening in the moment when we ask a question of the stars?” What motivates conscious choices? And most importantly, what casual levels drive the power of our unconscious and make those choices? 

I admit I’m always proselytizing about earth being a free will planet, and I’m not getting off that soapbox anytime soon. I choose to believe reality is co-created one heart, one mind and one choice at a time, and that the astrology provides a language for describing and making those choices. From my renegade Buddhist perspective reality is a constantly changing aggregation of the known and unknown that will never be explained by a single system. As you make your choices this week keep in mind, the Great Mystery holds all of us in its heart, and when possible, try to choose compassion for your fellow travelers.

January 3, 2007
Rambunctious—maybe even pushy—is the best way to describe the first week of the official New Year. And while it’s not quite the “Clash of the Titans,” planetary patterns definitely point toward irritation. Expect short fuses, petty squabbles, and dyspepsia, yours or others. But don’t worry—life isn’t all bad, and this week’s lack of harmony isn’t an indication for the entire year. While 2007 presents several major challenges, it also presents plenty of opportunities for healing.

The week unfolds with an increasingly militaristic might, as Mars approaches a conjunction with Pluto, in Sagittarius. When Mars and Pluto share the same space, we mere mortals tend to experience the need to do whatever it takes to get what we want, even if that means using sheer brute force. Saturn, in Leo, trines that conjunction, a positive relationship that amplifies a determination to succeed at any costs. The problem is the entire bundle promotes the kind of martial might that’s sure to please the Masters of War. From a collective perspective, an increase in troops in Iraq is probable. From a personal perspective, petty despots everywhere will try to exert influence in any way possible. Even if you’re not disposed toward violence, don’t be surprised if you’re slamming doors to relieve frustration, or feel it’s your obligation to take someone else’s inventory. Best to channel this energy into positive activities—more exercise would be a good place to start.

All astrological configurations play out along a spectrum of potential, and on the positive end of this Pluto, Mars, Saturn combination, moderation becomes the key to transforming the intensity of this almost superhuman force. So if you’re thinking success at any cost is the way to go, think again. Success at the cost of your heart, or the hearts of those you love, may not be what it’s cracked up to be. And while pushing hard is definitely a part of giving birth, the process of labor has its own rhythm, and mixed in with all those commands to “push” are also orders to “breathe.” Newborns of every species pretty much have a timing all their own, and the same may be true for all the various “things” that come into being—gardens, books, friendships, romance, houses, hopes, or dreams. Acknowledging and honoring a pace other than a pace driven by your desire, will help you to find a moderate approach.

This week and this year, it would be wise to release the need to hold a harsh self-righteous position. Be righteous about the need for peace, but be peaceful in all your efforts to give peace a chance.

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