Aquarium Age by Ralfee Finn
Transformational Astrology

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Weekly Frequency 2009

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 30, 2009
There’s a lot to be “sorted” in 2010, so best to spend the final moments of 2009 contemplating how you might want to orient yourself for what lies ahead. Conscious awareness would be a good place to start, particularly making a commitment to the type of mindfulness that also includes integrating your highest ideals with everyday choices. Put simply: If you want peace, live a peaceful life; if you want to put an end to the violence of poverty, find a way to work for everyone’s prosperity, not just your own. Another appropriate intention to set for 2010 would be coming to terms with the interconnectedness of life and the reality of how individual actions, reactions, and responses create the Zeitgeist; as many of us know, feelings are contagious, as are ideas and ideals. Co-creation is not simply a matter of visualization; it’s about feeling the power and the truth of transformation, even when transformation seems impossible or improbable. So don’t be afraid to hope, even if hope feels frail or fragile. Part of the shadow work of 2010 is figuring out how to deal with disappointment when change does not magically occur. Just because manifestation isn’t instantaneous that doesn’t mean efforts are futile. Be aware before you indulge in the angst of futility, that its toxicity will eventually incapacitate the heart and turn it bitter. Better to frame futility as a tool for growth, and use it to open places in the heart that may have become atrophied or frozen, but in reality have been lying dormant, waiting for this moment to arise.

2009 ends and 2010 begins with Mercury and Mars Retrograde. Yes…it is a drag when both of the primary planetary wheels that drive the day-to-day mechanics of daily life move in reverse. But this is also an opportunity to slow down the pace of regular routines to see what could use a little “grease”. Mercury Retrograde is best understood as a time when alls sorts of delays interfere communication efforts and travel plans. But it is also traditionally a time to review what is already in motion, which means it is best spent examining the details of life with an eye toward what would benefit from a correction or adjustment. Mars Retrograde is a little trickier, given that Mars is a forward moving force not given to backward glances. Yet, this Mars Retrograde is in Leo, a fiery force of its own, and that fire and passion is sure to burn off some of the frustration typically associated with retrogrades in general. Mercury is retrograde until January 15; Mars is retrograde until March 10. And more details about both retrogrades will be include in future columns.

We also end 2009 with a lunar eclipse on the afternoon of December 31, and because lunar eclipses symbolize conscious concerns overriding unconscious drives, you may find yourself toasting to a new year that’s more interested in results than theories. But try not to let pragmatism overwhelm idealism – we are going to need strong, positive visions born of the best of us to co-create a future that works well for all of us.

December 25, 2009
This year, Christmas is more than a little kooky. So don’t be surprised if traditional festivities turn eccentric, and all you can hear (as part of your internal soundtrack) is “Have yourself a cockamamie Christmas.” It all begins the day before the night before Christmas, when you, those you love, or utter strangers could be prone to odd emotional outbursts, completely unrelated to seasonal celebrations, but driven by what feel like sudden eruptions of extraordinary insight. Unfortunately, by the afternoon on Christmas Eve, the fickle finger of holiday fate may have turned some of those keen observations into the stone of judgment, causing some to square off on the value of sugarplum fairies, mistletoe, or eggnog. The good news is that by the time it’s time to open gifts on Christmas morning, some of those “differences” will dissolve in the excitement or simply be folded into customary patterns of denial. By the morning after, there will be plenty of time to digest another year of seasonal dysfunction. And for those of you not celebrating Christmas but still caught in the static of unified Santa field, be prepared for a couple of moody days, punctuated by the highs and lows of normal year-end mania.

The first source of this year’s screwball Christmas is a Mercury/Uranus sextile, a positive alignment known for inventive thinking. Mercury symbolizes the mind, Uranus signifies innovation, and when they work together, independent analysis is possible. But what turns this sextile emotionally quirky is the Moon which joins the team early on the 23 and stays conjunct Uranus until the morning of the 24.

Unfortunately, as the Moon sheds the role of “mother of invention,” she moves immediately into the role of Medusa, as she opposes Saturn and simultaneously squares the Sun/Pluto conjunction. (Oy.) All day on Christmas Eve, the power of her gaze is sure to petrify those who disagree, especially when it comes to how long to cook the stuffed turkey or whether or not to add duck fat to the gravy base.

Fortunately, by Christmas morning, the Moon moves into a trine with Mars, igniting impulsive expressions of intense emotions. Translation: Let’s kiss and make up; we’re family, after all.

All of this transpires as Mars is in its first days of a retrograde phase that began on December 20 and persists until March 10. (More on that in the coming weeks.) And as if all that isn’t enough, Mercury goes retrograde on December 26, turning travel plans before and after the holidays to mush. When Mars and Mercury, the two planets that drive the mechanics of daily life go retrograde at the same time, regular routines here on Earth tend to seize and then, fall apart. The good news is no matter how much we acknowledge the influence of astrology we still have free will and can choose how to respond to the delays, detours, and dramas of Mars and Mercury Retrograde.

So, dear readers, cope with the stress of a cockamamie Christmas with a sense of humor and just like Santa, keep your “ho, ho, ho’s” handy.

December 16, 2009
It’s one of those rare times of the year when we are able to witness and participate in the unicity of life. No matter our religious or cultural heritage, all our season festivals celebrate the solstice, the darkest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) and the day the Sun’s light starts to return. It’s one of several cosmic moments human beings have commemorated since we first noticed solar cycles. You could say – and it would not be a stretch – that the solstice, winter and summer, as well as the equinox, vernal and autumnal, are the first astrological holidays. For they delineate significant cycles within our enduring relationship with the Sun. Great monuments thousands of years old – Newgrange, Stonehenge, Maes Howe, Carnac, Gao Cheng Zhen, Chichen Itza, Chaco Canyon – all celebrate this turning point, when the Sun “stands still,” which is what “solstice” means, and the solar cycle begins anew.

Other than from an astrological perspective, we seldom think of the Sun as a powerful symbol. And even from an astrological perspective, we tend to relegate the Sun to a Sign and think of it as an indicator of personality traits. But what the ancients knew and the knowledge that still resonates through modern holidays – Christmas, Yule, or Yalda, no matter how commercial these festivals have become –  is that the Sun, in its regular, reliable, consistent, and constant presence, is the source of life. The Sun is eternal and when we celebrate its eternality, we celebrate our own, and not just our individual, particular life, but all of life – life in its entirety, which may be why the notion of good cheer and fellowship with all sentient beings is integral to the festivities. We invite the light in with trees, logs, candles, and fire of all sorts, and that warmth is shared with family, friends, and in the best of times, with foes.

The Sun shines equally on all of life – something I try to remind myself of when I find myself in an unhealthy polarized stance, and by that I mean a position that’s based on egocentricity and self-righteousness. Or in Buddhist terms, ignorant about the true nature of reality, which is that we are all one and what seemingly divides us is born of our failure to recognize the truth of our interconnectedness. The Sun is the primary symbol of our unity. It creates a unified field and holds within its vast and infinite reach all of us from the quark to the elephant, from grain of sand to Mount Everest. All of us. Everything.

On December 21st, celebrate the Sun and allow its eternal celestial fire to light your personal fire. Cultures come and go, traditions change, symbols lose or gain meaning, but the Sun endures. And through its eternal light so do we.

December 9, 2009
Love songs replace Christmas carols this week, as Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra provides the musical score to celestial interactions. The planets are more interested in telling the tale of Cupid and Psyche than Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, and as fiery sparks fall from the heavens, burning desires are ignited here on Earth. Expect you or those you love to be inclined toward dynamic as well as dramatic declarations of love. And while many of those emphatic statements are likely to be amorous, with mistletoe providing plenty of opportunities for nonverbal communication, many other of those sparks are sure to inspire lively artistic expression. Anticipate multidimensional love stories that span cities, states, nations, continents, and ... yes … even galaxies. Also be ready for deep internal processes. We are, after all, at the end of another long year of relentless intensity, and these last days before the solstice are always best spent in quiet contemplation and preparation for what lies ahead.

The source of love is a Venus/Mars trine. Technically, this trine doesn’t fully possess minds and bodies until the weekend. But the ongoing Sun/Mars trine, which is a powerfully vital current, pulls Venus into its flow, and as it does, human consciousness turns toward love, creativity, and the power of attraction. Venus symbolizes the feminine principle. Mars, the masculine principle. And when they unite in any alliance, but especially a positive one, strong emotions and/or sexual longing tends to permeate even the dullest of atmospheres. This trine offers support for confident romantic displays, as well as support for those of us who are normally too shy to express heartfelt sentiments. Just be aware, the beneficent quality of this interaction doesn’t guarantee mutual admiration. Also anticipate that those seasonal office parties might be more than a little overwhelming as previously smoldering feelings turn into bonfires of adoration.

The Sun/Mars trine lasts until December 20, when Mars goes retrograde, which means as Mars “retraces” its path, some of what’s put in motion during the next two weeks will be revisited. So there’s no need to hurry love. The Venus/Mars trine lasts until December 21, which means there’s also plenty of time to spend in the rapture of romance. The Sun/Venus conjunction lasts until the end of the year, which is the best news of all, because this is a harmonious configuration capable of sustaining a loving atmosphere, as well as stimulating deep creative expressions of the soul.

And soul contemplation would be completely in keeping with the seasonal signatures of this time of year, when the Solstice reminds us of the eternal cycle of the Sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, the days will soon grow light again. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite will occur. From an astrological perspective, the Sun represents the life force – the spirit – which makes this is one of the best times of year to think about how you want to spend the very precious gift of your life, as you simultaneously acknowledge the precious gift of all life.

December 2, 2009
This week, you don’t even have to listen closely to hear the waves of stress crashing on the shorelines of consciousness. You also don’t have to stretch to hear the universal chorus shout: “Enough already.” Uranus, Direct as of December 1, is challenging our already distended capacity for change, and as it does, some of us…no, make that lots of us…are going to need a time out. Here’s the bad news: there isn’t time for a time out. This week, as well as next, daily life moves at almost lightning speed and regular routines blaze by in a daze of hurry up. Here’s the good news: by the middle of the month, the planetary pace slows down. Here’s the bad news, again: that deceleration morphs into molasses, as Mars Retrograde begins on December 20 and Mercury Retrograde begins on December 26. When the two planets that drive the mechanics of daily life are retrograde simultaneously, collective angst is palpable. Forewarned is better prepared, which means rather than ride a wave of resentment about the breakneck pace, be willing to surf the current and get done what needs to be done before “hurry up” turns into “hey-I-need-to-think-about-it-for-a-long-time-first.”

A Mars/Jupiter opposition, in effect until Mars goes Retrograde on December 20, is promoting overextension as a way of life. And that expansive signature is joined by a Sun/Mars trine that lasts for the next two weeks. While it may be a useless warning, do your best to be and to stay moderate. This entire Sun/Mars/Jupiter bundle offers lots of opportunities for success, but all the success in the world means nothing if you’re too exhausted to show up for the applause or the award. By the beginning of next week, a Sun/Jupiter sextile turns some of that Sun/Mars ambition toward generosity and enthusiasm, which is appropriate for the season, as well as for our times, when so many need so much.

It’s especially handy to have a positive alliance in the midst of the ongoing Saturn/Pluto square, which as many of you know, symbolizes violence, martyrdom, and a heartless severity, all of which can be identified in the victim/victimizer polarization. There isn’t enough space to go into this complex in depth, so I’ll cut to the chase: Part of what’s driving the current levels of individual and collective stress are negative attitudes born of helplessness and hopelessness. And while it is easier said than done, those feelings of futility, no matter how oppressive, are also opportunities for growth. And I’m not being glib, woo-woo, or superficial. One of the ways to use the power of this Saturn/Pluto square is to align with Saturn, not as the critic and the judge who only dwells on what’s wrong, but rather to align with Saturn, the teacher, who knows so well what needs to be learned next. When that willingness to grow combines with the transformative power of Pluto, anything is possible.

Of course, there is real suffering in the world and that always needs to be acknowledged. But for those who have a choice, and many of us do, my first question after listening to anyone, including myself, who lingers too long on the pity pot is “So what are you doing about it?” One of the lessons of Saturn/Pluto is learning how to also ask, “How can I help?”

November 25, 2009
It is Thanksgiving – my favorite politically incorrect North American holiday. It’s not because it is a day dedicated to food, or because it signals the start of the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving because it is a day devoted to gratitude, an attitude often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of survival. Gratitude is certainly an attitude we could currently use, given that 2009 has been mostly about survival. And not just financial survival – much more than money has been threatened this year. 2009 has been a year of soul survival, personal and collective. Daily life moved from one intense moment to another even more intense moment, and as the intensity escalated, bodies, minds, and hearts, exhausted from stress struggled to make it through. It’s not so easy remembering to be grateful when you’re depleted. Which is unfortunate, because that’s the time when gratitude is most needed and most beneficial. A prayer of thanks alters consciousness. It unhooks attachment, recalibrates the mind, and steadies the heart.

And you’ll want a steady heart this week and the next several weeks. Uranus goes Direct on Tuesday, December 1, and when Uranus changes direction, we tend to experience dramatic shifts before its actual course correction as well as after it “turns around.” As Uranus flavors the Thanksgiving feast, you can expect exciting conversation, seasoned with sudden bursts of previously “unconscious” information. What’s more, those blurts are sure to be emotionally charged. Not because Thanksgiving always tends toward emotional catharsis, but because on that day, Venus trines a Moon/Uranus conjunction, a combination devoted to feeling. Uranus is always spontaneous, impulsive, and unpredictable and when it is in conjunction the Moon, the heart is often restless. And when that restlessness is amplified by a trine from Venus, declarations of love are sure to occur. Expect amorous pronouncements about everything from the turkey to the wine to the dressing to the pie to the person sitting next to you whether or not you’ve ever met.

This Uranian volatility carries forward through the week. The Moon moves out range of Uranus quickly but Mercury moves into a square with Uranus by the weekend. This square can often be about scattering mental resources, so be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Fortunately, there is support for mental determination in the form of a Mercury/Mars trine, a positive alignment capable of keeping thoughts on track. Multitasking becomes an art under this influence. Just be aware, Uranian tremors are sure to interfere with even the best-laid plans and well-rehearsed strategies, which means flexibility is the key to success no matter what your goals might be.

Uranus has a close relationship with the nervous system – it rides the kundalini or life force – and when it dominates astral activity, we feel its presence through disturbed sleep patterns, restless longings, and anxiety, specified or unspecified. Don’t be surprised if you can’t settle down or settle in. Children tend to feel this energy first, so do your best to stay patient. If your dog starts howling, throw back your head and howl along. If your cat seems especially needy, try not to shame it – we know how important being cool is to cats. Take care of yourself and those you love. Most importantly, find time to be thankful for what brings you joy. And let that gratitude align body, mind, heart and soul.

November 18, 2009
Saturn/Pluto Square, Part Two
The Wheel of Life continues to move in a new direction this week, and as it alters the course of collective destiny, the smaller wheels of individual fate also have opportunities to adjust personal destinies. Don’t be fooled by appearances: even if surface concerns remain the same – money, work, health, love – attitudes about those issues are shifting. We are in a potent transition, packed with creative power that can be put to good use envisioning and actualizing next steps. Be clear and precise about where you are and what you want to do, next. Also be aware, this new frequency has a decidedly extraterrestrial feel, so don’t be surprised if you or someone you love is dreaming about being abducted or channeling new information from Soltac on Sirius. Galactic signatures are always a part of consciousness shifts, here on Earth, which means it’s once again time to dust off those ET beanies, attune the antennae, and prepare to receive the next set of instructions.

A Saturn/Pluto square is at the center of the current situation; this configuration is the celestial equivalent of terrestrial tectonic activity. Saturn represents foundations; Pluto, the inevitability of change; and squares signify friction. This square, which was exact on November 15, is actually part of a Saturn/Pluto cycle that began with a conjunction in September 1982. I like to think of this cycle as the astro-significator of Reaganomics, and what those economic and political policies put in motion. All Saturn/Pluto contacts are about contraction, and certainly the Eighties and Nineties were a period of economic meltdown, high unemployment and even higher interest rates (despite the big hair); for nearly two decades the economy suffered, with only a brief “prosperity” blip for some in the late Nineties. The waxing square within this cycle occurred three times between March of 1993 and January of 1994 and by the fall of 1994, “Contract with America,” became the mantra of the Republican agenda. The contractive force of Saturn/Pluto reached its peak from August 2001-May 2002, with a series of three oppositions. We need no reminder of what that opposition put in motion. We are still working our way through the consequences of those years.  Now, we are in the last or waning square of that cycle that began in 1982, continuing to deal the same issues – a bad economy, usury interest rates, and even higher unemployment.

Yet while it may appear as if nothing has changed, it feels as if everything has changed -- a paradox that makes me wonder what the transformative lessons of this Saturn/Pluto cycle might be. How can I understand its contractive force in a collective context? How can I identify it in my personal life, and grow from it? Big questions for big times. What I know for sure is that contraction is always followed by expansion, and there have been huge leaps in collective and personal consciousness over this very same cycle—just look at attitudes toward the environment. So as this current phase of Saturn/Pluto unfolds, ask yourself what you have learned and are continuing to learn through the process.

One more thought: ET was also released in 1982. And while I’m not suggesting alien invasion is the next phase in the Saturn/Pluto cycle, I can’t help but remember ET’s lesson to Elliot: each of us holds the power to span the entire universe in our hearts. And love is the most powerful agent of change.

November 11, 2009
Saturn/Pluto Square, Part One
The planets strike a serious chord this week, and the after tones will linger for quite some time. On November 15, the first of three squares between Saturn and Pluto will be exact. Saturn represents the order of the physical world. Pluto represents the process of death and regeneration. And when they clash through the aggressive interaction of a square, Saturn’s systems suffer under the thumb of Pluto’s unrelenting insistence on transformation. Their struggle tends to manifest in our lives as cold-hearted cruelty, violence, or martyrdom. Normally, we wouldn’t feel the full effect of such a pernicious interaction until after the planets separate. But given the current individual and collective climate of emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual stress, that rule won’t hold fast or true, which means all the days leading up to the square, as well as the days after, we are likely to experience an intensified intensity. I realize that even the thought of more intensity simply sounds impossible. But as I write this, the shootings at Fort Hood have just occurred, and I can’t help but feel that even when we acknowledge the unprecedented levels of intensity, our souls are still shocked by violence.

So the question becomes how are we to handle this next round of change represented by Saturn/Pluto square, in our individual lives, as well as in our collective milieu? First, it’s necessary to recognize this Saturn/Pluto square is another piece of an astrological mosaic of planetary patterns taking shape over the next several years. We’ve already been experiencing one pattern through the Saturn/Uranus opposition that began last September. As most of you know, that opposition represents a challenge to and the dissolution of the status quo. The first exact contact in a series of five exact oppositions between Saturn and Uranus occurred on election day, November, 2008, and will forever be symbolized by the election of President Obama. We just passed the midpoint of that series on September 15 (and there are two more exact oppositions left: April 26, 2010 and July 26, 2010). This Saturn/Uranus opposition is rattling much more than economic structures. Like its predecessor opposition that happened in 1965-1967, Saturn/Uranus is disturbing all sorts of cultural assumptions.

Now, in the midst of those disturbing Saturn/Uranus waves, Pluto provides another dimension. Pluto is all about issues of power and control; its focus is on the causal level – it reveals the unconscious shadows, personal and collective, which inform behavior. Often those shadows are revealed through events that are unforeseen and uncontrollable. Events that express the power of unconscious forces, events that are often experienced as destructive convulsions that destroy and demolish.

But Pluto’s power is also about rebirth and its regenerative force is unsurpassed, which is why it symbolizes transformation. Pluto provides the potential to rise from the ashes and be reborn, just like the phoenix.

During the coming weeks, as structures continue to dissolve around you, use Pluto’s power to see through the shadows. Envision a new way of approaching your personal situation, a way that will simultaneously improve our collective circumstances. Remember, we can only create what we can imagine.

November 4, 2009
I have a deep wish this week. I wish the planets would speak in loud, clear voices, as the voices of potent dreams do, especially as the Voice of Jungian dreams does, with its undeniable authority, and simply tell me what they would most like me to know about our collective situation and what they would most like me to do about it. Most importantly, I would like to know what would be the best way to handle the increasing intensity, a way that would promote consciousness rather than denial, growth rather than contraction, and transformation. Period. But unfortunately, my dreams are silent at the moment, which is why I’m wishing for clarity and hoping I will find it. What I do know is that there are clearly identifiable astrological times when you can hear the karmic wheels turning, the past converging with the present to produce the future. Yes…that happens all the time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t special times, moments when the experience of free will and the power of choice are more potent and palpable than they are in the ordinary humdrum of the mundane day. Now is one of those special times. As this week and the coming weeks unfold, there are and will be chances to recalibrate personal as well as collective destinies through decisions about how we want to live, and why. Call it Instant Karma. Or recognize that planetary configurations are providing the potential to open previously unconscious patterns, and how we will meet those red threads of habituation will determine what happens next.

The astrological source of this karmic moment is the Saturn/Pluto square, which is exact on November 15. It is the first in a series of three squares. The second exact contact occurs on January 31, 2010, and the third, on August 21, 2010. Saturn signifies rules and regulations. Pluto symbolizes the principle of death and rebirth. Hard interactions, such as squares, always have a tendency to turn human interactions severe. Hearts harden as emotional bodies resist what needs to be released, and as individuals or collectives cling to comfort zones, the clash between the certainty of what is and the uncertainty of what will be could turn cruel and brutal. Be careful not to devolve into self-destructive behavior. And do your best to avoid blaming others for what isn’t working in your life. I’m not saying there aren’t victimizers and victims. There are. But transforming those roles means first, moving out of the sticky position of victim and finding a new way of contextualizing the situation. That usually means taking a stand for yourself. Not a stand that flips the roles – becoming a victimizer won’t change a thing. But rather a stand that is willing to delve into the structure of those roles, discovering the causal level, and then changing at the core. This is putting consciousness into motion. This is the actualized potential of free will. This is how the karmic wheel changes direction. This is how new destinies, personal and collective, are created.

We live in interesting times. Let’s make the most of them.

October 28, 2009
Saturn is the big news this week. It enters Libra on October 29, and as it begins its new phase, we begin ours. Like any new beginning, Saturn’s journey through Libra is ripe with imagination about what will be, so don’t be surprised if you feel excited about what lies ahead. Yet knowing that excitement and fright are closely aligned frequencies, you might also feel a little apprehension about details of this next Saturn chapter. Saturn is after all sometimes called the “Lord of Karma”; it’s infamous for delivering the bill that divvies up credits and debits – karmic red threads, physical, mental, emotional or spiritual that either still need work or are successfully refined and transformed. And because Libra is all about relating, the emphasis will be on relationships of every denomination, which means it would be wise to anticipate meetings with current, recent, or long-gone lovers, friends, and other intimate partners. Just be aware those meetings can occur in a variety of dimensions – dreams, meditation, memories therapy, or at the grocery store, gas station, or swap meet. No matter where this potential for close encounters unfolds, keep in mind, your primary relationship is with yourself, and then do your best to treat yourself with as much loving kindness as possible.

Libra, symbolized by the scales, signifies an active process. As I said last week, relationship works better as a verb than it does as a noun because relating is dynamic, not static. Relationships often have us swinging back and forth, weighing information, emotions, desires, expectations, disappointment, uncertainty, awareness, resilience, as well as the capacity to give and receive. Those fluctuations, while often frustrating, especially when we don’t get what we want, or confounding, when we realize we aren’t in control, are opportunities to live in the fundamental terrain of the heart. Relationships – all of them – are how we live. And when we experience our reactions, we have a chance to learn first, about ourselves, and then about others, no matter who or what that other may be. A pet is as much a presence in life as a calling. In Egyptian mythology, a scale was used in the judgment of the dead. Maat, the Goddess of Law, Truth, and Justice, would either place herself or a feather on one side of the scale, and on the other side, the heart of the deceased. If the heart were heavy with the weight of hate or other offenses, Ammit, “the Gobbler”, with the crocodile head, would eat it. And that soul would cease to exist.

A heart as light as a feather is an interesting symbol to contemplate during Saturn’s transit through Libra, especially in connection with partnerships, past, present, and future. It’s true…Saturn can be a harsh taskmaster. It is the voice of reality, a voice that never denies what needs to be learned. But even though affairs of the heart are mostly delicate matters, with lessons sometimes painfully hard to learn, as Saturn ventures into the deeply emotional terrain of Libra, making a commitment to heal the wounds of the heart and lighten the load of the soul would be a worthy goal.

October 21, 2009
A powerful planetary undertow continues to pull daily life into a strong current of change. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself headed in a different direction than you intended. Also anticipate more than a little anxiety as this intense celestial flow churns issues hidden in the deep. Saturn is in the last degree of Virgo, ending a journey that began in September 2007. The final degree of any Sign distills and concentrates the qualities of that Sign. This week that astro idea translates into an intensification of Saturn’s lessons. And because all of us have Saturn as well as Virgo somewhere in our birth charts, all of us have the potential to be feeling this Saturnian intensification somewhere in our lives. Expect certain themes to take precedence over others, even if you think you’ve already worked through those issues.

As Saturn moves into Libra it forms a square to Pluto, a difficult interaction that’s exact on November 15. Because there is no way to deny the potential for negativity inherent in this square, I’m not going to try. Saturn represents rules and regulations. Pluto symbolizes power and control. Squares signify a dynamic process of confrontation. The entire bundle coalesces into clashes among zealots, unwilling in most cases to consider an opposing position, as well as willing in many cases to stand staunchly, even if that stand is self-destructive. Try to avoid the seduction of being self-righteous, and instead, be willing to consider opposing points of view.

You’re going to read a lot about the significance of this Saturn/Pluto square, some of it in this column over the next several weeks. And much of what will be written will sound dire because some of it is. Of course, we all know by now that you don’t need an astrologer to know we’re in the midst of a major transformation; personal and collective evidence is everywhere. You also don’t need an astrologer to calibrate levels of personal and collective anxiety, even anxiety about the sky. Apparently, sky anxiety is so pervasive, a NASA scientist, David Morrison, has coined the term “cosmophobia” to describe sky anxiety as a new emotional and psychological disorder. Cosmophobia is the fear of the cosmos, particularly the terror that the world will end by means of some astronomical occurrence. Think 2012, for it seems the previews for the movie are causing quite a psychic ruckus, much more than a minor tremor in the force. So much more that NASA has a website to field questions about the impending doomsday. (Score one for the woo-woos, whose speculations are now mainstreamed.) According to an article at spaceref.com, “there is a widespread internet belief” that the world will end on December 21, 2012, as the Mayan calendar predicts. The problem is the Mayans don’t actually predict that the world will end on December 21, 2012, just the long count of their calendar. As one of the modern Mayan Indian elders said, doomsday theories are “Western not Mayan ideas.”

So as planetary activity intensifies, try to keep in mind, these interactions are opportunities for transformation, not messages about the end of the world. And then let that awareness be your antidote to cosmophobia.

October 14, 2009
This week, and the next several weeks, a powerful undertow pulls daily life in all its myriad manifestations in a new direction. The zeitgeist is in the midst of a mood swing, and its sway is going to affect everything from simple interactions to tangled webs. Be prepared to move, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But try not to presume what the final destination will be. This new current runs deep as well as wide, which opens up a broad spectrum of potential and possibility. The best way to handle the intensity of this transition is to set your internal compass on “steady.” That way, as the external shifts occur, you can stay centered and grounded within.

Saturn is the prime mover in the transition. In two weeks, on October 29, Saturn moves into Libra, ending its sojourn through Virgo that began in September 2007. Several components of Saturn’s move are important. (1) Whenever a planet changes Sign, we experience a concentrated retrospective on what’s occurred during the phase that’s ending. So look back on the last two years and see if you can discern Saturn’s pattern in your life. (2) Saturn will retrograde back into Virgo on April 7, 2010, which means all its Saturn, in Virgo, lessons do not have to be learned, completed, and processed in the next two weeks.

(3) Saturn’s transit through Libra is…yes… all about relationships. As many of you already know, I prefer to think of “relationship” as a verb rather than a noun; a relationship is something we participate in, not own or possess. As the next two years of Saturn, in Libra, play out, many of us will find ourselves recalibrating how we relate to each other, as well as who we relate to. Keep in mind, your primary relationship is with yourself. Not in a selfish way, but in a paradigmatic way: we treat others as we treat ourselves or would like to be treated. So everyone will experience Saturn, in Libra, regardless of his or her relationship status.

(4) As Saturn enters Libra it also moves into a square with Pluto, a difficult interaction that intensifies our experience of Saturn’s move.

Technically, we are already in that Saturn/Pluto square, which is why personal and collective wobbles in the continuum seem to be increasing in intensity (as if that’s possible). And that intensification will only increase over the next several weeks, culminating on November 15, when the square is exact for the first time. Be prepared for fanaticism, personal as well as collective. Also anticipate a hardening of hearts, as strict adherence to a certain point of view, symbolized by Saturn, collides with the inexorable process of death and rebirth, represented by Pluto.

Over the course of the next several weeks, this column will explore Saturn’s move into Libra, as well as its square to Pluto in greater depth. Just be aware, as this square tightens its grip, self-righteous stands will seem like reasonable solutions. So if at all possible, instead of digging in, soften, and do your best to stay open.

October 7, 2009
The planets display their multifaceted talents this week, and successfully navigating this holographic kaleidoscope of astral interactions will require nothing less than a multidimensional mindset. And while some of us are always aware that nothing occurs in isolation, as the week unfolds, lots of us are going to be hyperaware of our interconnectedness. Be prepared to be surprised about who knows who and who knows what – you’ll probably encounter no more than two degrees of separation. Also expect to feel exceptionally vital as you move through what is sure to feel like an excessive to do list,  most of which is necessary. And – this is the best part – anticipate an optimistic attitude, supported by a strong creative current.  I know by now you’re wondering if I’m describing life on another planet; this couldn’t possibly be the forecast for Earth. But it is, and despite the growing list of serious and pressing problems, which have not gone away, this week offers a different perspective.

Venus, Mars, and Uranus are at the core of this week’s patterns. Venus is moving into a conjunction with Mercury and Saturn, a position that deepens the desire to be thorough in all endeavors. But Venus is also in an opposition to Uranus, an interaction that is likely to reject sobriety in favor of excitement. A Venus/Uranus opposition is known for strong and impetuous creative, as well as sexual urges. Translation: Don’t be surprised if you find yourself momentarily infatuated with someone or something that’s never before caught your eye. Just remember, under any Venus/Uranus contact, the rule of thumb is “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” The problem is the presence of Mars makes it impossible to deny those urges. Not only does Mars sextile Venus, a passionate coupling that’s sure to fuel romantic and artistic fire, but Mars also trines Uranus, an alliance that feeds the need to act on impulse. You’ll need skill to handle the intensity of this entire bundle, especially if you’re drawn to someone who isn’t as interested in a relationship as you may be. Yet, given the combined aesthetic sensibility Venus, Mars, and Uranus, its intensity can be put to good use moving creative mountains. Allow yourself to be inspired and allow yourself to try different approaches that may require unusual choices.

And saving the best for last: A Sun/Jupiter trine, exact on October 10, promotes optimism. But more importantly, it also encourages humor, which means you can expect to be laughing. I’m not suggesting everything will be funny, but this trine will provide the sort of psychic resilience to allow irony rather than despair.

As you move through the week, make the most of its vitality by embracing its intensity. And should you have energy to spare, which most of us will, spend some of that excess helping others.

September 30, 2009
This week, and the next several weeks, the sky bustles with planetary activity, and as it does, overcrowded calendars, here on earth, burst with too much to do in too little time and nervous systems stretch beyond any reasonable capacity to cope with multidimensional interactions in a linear world. It’s busy, but it doesn’t have to be insane. The best way through is to prioritize your goals, and then, to keep an even keel – emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The problem is staying calm in the midst of such a hectic environment won’t be easy. So incorporate doing more of whatever it is you do to stay centered, focused, and present, even if that seems impossible.

In case you weren’t sure what that swoosh was that blew by on Tuesday, it was Mercury Direct, powered by an assortment of astral cohorts. Mercury “turned around” in a conjunction with Saturn, an opposition to Uranus, and a sextile to Mars. Fortunately, Mercury is adept at multitasking. Unfortunately, we mere mortals aren’t as skilled, which means it will take extra effort and concentration to handle the plethora of all that needs to be done. Mercury symbolizes intellectual activity, as well as all things related to commerce and travel. So keep in mind, minds will be very, very busy. Try not to over-think. When Mercury shares the same space as Saturn (which it does until October 12), Saturn’s need for rules and regulations can turn Mercury’s meanderings sour and dour. But Mercury’s opposition to Uranus, as well as the sextile to Mars, ought to liven things up given that Mars represents physical energy and Uranus, the principle of sudden change. Be prepared for quick shifts in perspective and policy, as well as rapid repartee that could reveal more than surface opinion or concern.

But Mercury Direct isn’t the only force driving the days and nights to a fevered pitch. Mars is also busy forming its own relationships. (1) A Mars/Uranus trine excites the air with irrepressible urges for personal freedom and the physical determination to act on those urges. There is no stopping this positive combination; for those of you inclined to impetuous behavior, better take those “think again pills,” and for those of you given to “slugdom,” get ready to relinquish the couch or the recliner and move into hyperactivity. Normally I would add a warning not to act precipitously – with Uranus (and sometimes with Mars) there is always the danger of losing interest, changing your mind midstream, or creating an accident-prone environment because you’re in a hurry. But (2) Saturn’s presence – opposing Uranus and sextiling Mars – will add a somber note. Saturn won’t dampen the extraordinary vitality of this Mars/Uranus combo; it will just temper it a bit.

This week, rather than rush find a comfortable, manageable pace. There’s no need to burn out at the beginning. And if it happens that you have energy to spare, think about spending some of it helping others who aren’t as skilled or capable of moving into positive action as you.

September 23, 2009
How about those crumbling structures of the status quo? Civilization, along with civilized interaction, seems to be collapsing around us, but it’s a breakdown that started way before Wilson, Williams, or West. In the wake of economic dissolve, we appear to have reached some sort of weird negative critical mass that’s manifesting as an unbridled need to share opinions and then to mistake those opinions for facts. And because many of us are so indoctrinated by media propaganda machines, lots of us have confused the medium for the message and intensity for accuracy. The truth does not increase with vitriol and volume. And just because you like what someone says or how he or she says it, that doesn’t mean what's being said is correct. One of the tasks we’re facing as individuals, as well as members of the collective, is how to separate fact from fiction and truth from opinion so that we can make informed choices about what’s next.

The planets offer a couple of clues about our current situation. (1) Since the spring, we’ve been under the influence of a Jupiter/Chiron/Neptune conjunction, and while this conjunction is generally considered to symbolize altruism, Chiron’s presence signals both a deep wounding to those humanitarian inclinations, as well as the potential for great healing. Translation: Chiron is revealing selfish interests, and because Neptune can be called the Destroyer of Illusion, the extent to which we have ignored, denied, or rationalized self-interest seems impossible to ignore. But nowhere more impossible than on the issue of health care. Didn’t Jesus heal the sick and feed the poor? And shouldn’t that standard make the public option a given for every Christian? Period. But it’s not just the Christian illusion that’s being challenged by the Jupiter/Chiron/Neptune conjunction. Where is the moral outrage of all religious traditions against the injustice of poverty wherever it is found?

(2) Since last September, we’ve also been under the influence of a Saturn/Uranus opposition, which represents the dissolution of the stagnant structures. From a political perspective, this opposition has turned the oppressors into the oppressed. Or as Bob Dylan once wrote, “The first ones now will later be last.” Unfortunately, the newly oppressed are not adjusting well to their lowly position; they are revealing themselves to be the bullies they’ve always been. Aggressive crowds aimed at shouting down anyone who disagrees because the members of the crowd feel entitled to be angrier than anyone else. Well … I’m classifying that as bullying. The deliberate intention to cause harm because you don’t agree with someone’s point of view and you’re not interested in changing your own because you’ve been riled up by hate-mongering talk show hosts who are feeding off of fear and ignorance … yeah … that’s bullying. And this condition is and has been our status quo for quite some time. Is it stagnant? Not by a traditional definition. Does it serve? Only selfish interests.

Which brings us back to the notion that authentic altruism is possible, but only when we recognize each other as equally deserving of a good and healthy life regardless of race, gender, or religious or non-religious affiliation.

September 16, 2009
Tension, frustration, and overload sweep through emotional bodies this week, and as these mighty currents coalesce with personal and collective situations, emotional bodies are sure to move into overload and overwhelm. And it isn’t likely anyone is going to be “over it” anytime soon. You can say you’re letting go, but that doesn’t actually mean you are releasing the stress and strain or practicing non-attachment, skillfully. It’s going to take concentrated effort and expanded awareness to override the intensity, internal or external. It will also take determination to find and maintain a peaceful stance that will do no harm. Rather than drowning in a sea of reactions, devote time and energy to figuring out how to breathe your way to conscious and considerate responses.

The first source of stress is Mercury Retrograde – and this one is packed with snafus, mechanical, technical and communicational. (Yes…I know there is no such word, but, hey, Mercury rules language, so I guess that means I can make up a retrograde word.) Retrogrades are never a good time to update or install software, or change your voice mail message. It also wreaks havoc with contracts, negotiations, and traffic. (And today, as I write this, especially traffic.)  Terrible retrogrades demand drastic measures, so don’t hesitate to take your patience pills. (Just don’t resort to heroin – the retrograde will be over by September 29th.) Remember, Mercury Retrograde slows the pace of daily life, which should create opportunities to reflect and review. Unfortunately, when the slow-mo-rewind-go-over-the-details-one-more-time pace of the retrograde turns glacial, frustration morphs into intolerance. Give up the need to hurry and instead, make nice.

But the true source of tension is the third exact contact of the Saturn/Uranus opposition, which occurred yesterday, Earth time (and, measured by cosmic moments, is still occurring). This opposition signifies the dissolution of the status quo and the resistance of the status quo to that decompensation. And we are definitely in the resistance stage of the breakdown process. To say that this opposition represents unrest would be an understatement. It would also be an understatement to say the current political and cultural turbulence is going to end anytime soon. When the structures of society are forced to change because they no longer serve, chaos is probable. (But that doesn’t mean it will lead to civil collapse) From my astrological perspective, we’ve been living in chaos since the last time Saturn and Uranus opposed each other in the 1960s. That series of oppositions also challenged the status quo and the status quo has been resisting ever since. The religious right and the glorification of Reagan are actually responses to the last Saturn/Uranus cultural revolution; we could contextualize what’s happening right now as a continuation of what started then. And while I’m not suggesting (although I want to) that the solution is wearing flowers and love beads, making love instead of war might move us out of the mess we are in.

So this week, put a flower in your hair, and do your best to believe in the power of love.

September 9, 2009
Don’t be surprised if you feel frayed around the edges or need more than a “moment” to pull yourself together. Nervous systems, individual and collective, already strained from the planetary push/pull of the Saturn/Uranus opposition, are at maximum capacity this week. And to add insult to injury, Mercury Retrograde, an astral condition infamous for frustration, exacerbates existing tensions. But that’s not all. Pluto also throws its weight around when it goes Direct on September 11. When the heavens bustle with activity, the daily hustle of life here on Earth is often overwhelming. Especially if you already have too much to do and everything takes longer than it should to get done. Emotional bodies tend to fry when the other systems – physical, mental, or spiritual – are overloaded, a condition that translates into trauma or tantrums. So as always, err on the side of compassion and be as kind as possible to yourself and others.

The third exact contact of the Saturn/Uranus opposition occurs on September 15. As most readers already know, this configuration symbolizes the dissolution of the status quo, and as part of that process, unrest and upset, personal or cultural. The September 15 opposition includes the Sun, as it conjuncts Saturn, in Virgo. The Sun’s presence puts the emphasis on tests of strength, particularly feats of physical endurance. Suit up for the marathon, but don’t push yourself too hard. Uranus has a peculiar relationship to the pulse, and when it’s in an opposition to a Sun/Saturn conjunction, hearts can follow eccentric rhythms.

Some of the upheaval could have a brutal edge, born not only from the tension of Saturn/Uranus, but also because Pluto throws its hat into the ring when it goes Direct on September 11 – not a great day to feel presence of the mythological king of the underworld. By the end of the week, on September 17, Pluto moves into a square with the Sun, stimulating a desire for power and a proclivity toward ruthless behavior as a way of consolidating influence. Resist temptation to exercise your inner or outer despot by making a commitment to stay in your spiritual integrity.

Mercury is retrograde until September 29. Most of you know the drill, but for those that don’t, here’s the skinny: Mercury Retrograde is all about reviewing the details of what’s already in motion with a fine-toothed comb. It’s not a good time to install new software or buy a printer or computer. Because Mercury Retrograde is also about travel delays and detours, give yourself plenty of time to get wherever you need to go. Mercury Retrograde is always about slowing down the pace of life and making time for what may have been overlooked.

This week, as this confluence of celestial activity stirs what is already roused, figure out healthy ways to self-soothe. Even if it seems like an impossible task, try to make time for quiet contemplation. And when you can, attune to the spirit of cooperation and offer a calm word or peaceful gesture to your fellow travelers.

September 2, 2009
Saturn/Uranus Opposition, Part 2
The ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition continues to polarize and divide what is already split and separate, and the gravitational pull along this axis of disconnection continues to exacerbate reactive states. Be prepared for even more surprising and deep gulfs of perception as the same set of facts are read from not just different sides of the political universe, but also from different sides of the consciousness galaxy. As always, when polarization is the theme, synthesis becomes a necessary and vital tool for finding and holding onto a middle path. Just don’t confuse a strong center with passivity. Finding a balance and keeping it, doesn’t mean striking a midpoint. There is no halfway between war and peace. The middle way that’s needed to maintain a strong center requires the stamina, confidence, and the willingness to live daily life with a resilient determination to find creative solutions that aren’t about capitulation or insincere compromise, but rather, creative solutions grounded in the power of imagination.

Uranus is the good news in the creativity equation. Uranus symbolizes the ingenious, inventive creativity that won’t settle for stuck, stagnant systems. This is Oraunus, the Sky God of ancient Greece, whose vast terrain symbolizes the infinite potential of the unknown. But there is a slight problem with Uranus, because it is also explosive and utterly unpredictable, which in human parlance translates into uncontrollable. Uranus tosses thunderbolts capable of lighting up the night sky with a sudden and terrifying fury. The task of consciousness is to figure out how to allow these Uranian illuminations to inspire new ideas about facilitating transformation without causing additional harm.

Saturn’s job is to delineate reality – it’s “the buck stops here” planet – and one of its roles is defining responsibility. And while many of us think of Saturn as the Lord of Karma, it is actually the principle that supports structure, and we need its systems to organize daily life. The problem is we can get caught and comfortable in a Saturnian structure even if it no longer serves. And when that happens, Saturn’s presence can ossify into stubborn, haughty resistance.

For the next several weeks, as Saturn, the principle of stability, opposes Uranus, the principle of change, finding and maintaining your equilibrium, inside and out, is essential.

Fortunately, we’re also under the influence of Mercury Retrograde from September 7 through September 29. And I say “fortunately” because retrogrades slow the pace of daily life, affording opportunities to review, reflect, and reconsider. I know Mercury Retrograde is generally dreaded, but in a psychic climate where so much is happening so quickly, a lessening of the pace might be helpful. What’s more, Mercury represents the facile component of the intellect that can move between heaven and hell in the blink of the mind’s eye. And that ability to move between polarities with skill is definitely a welcome addition that will enhance the potential for creative, imaginative breakthroughs.

August 26, 2009
Saturn/Uranus Opposition, Part 1
Anxious, Agitated and Belligerent, another trio of Disney dwarfs previously held in captivity in order to ensure a PG rating break free this week, and as they indulge their appetites for drama, daily life is likely to be punctuated by temper tantrums, power plays, and a disturbing sense of entitlement. Don’t be surprised if emotional confrontations, yours or others’, override regular routines, which means you also have to be prepared to be irritated with resentment, especially if you’re one of those people who is always trying to help. We are rapidly approaching the third exact opposition of Saturn and Uranus on September 15, and as the tension generated by that contact intensifies with each day, holding onto a calm, relaxed attitude is going to require a concentrated effort. It might be best to take life one day at a time until things cool down.

Just to recap: We are at the midpoint of a series of five Saturn/Uranus oppositions. This configuration happens approximately every 45 years, which makes it a fairly rare occurrence. Saturn represents the status quo, Uranus, the principal of change, and when they oppose one another, whatever existing structures, personal or collective, are suffering from stagnation start to disassemble. The last time a series of Saturn/Uranus oppositions occurred was 1965 to 1967, a period of time noted for the upset of civil unrest, as well as profound personal and collective transformation.

The first exact contact in the current series was on November 4, 2008, the day President Obama was elected. The second exact opposition occurred on February 5, 2009, just after his inauguration. His election was certainly a challenge to the status quo: it broke the long-standing historical prerogative of white men holding the highest office in the land. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the “status quo” is resistant to this shift in the power paradigm. Witness, for example, the hearings on Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor and the accusation that she would be an activist, and the implied racism in that accusation. As if the Supreme Court hadn’t already diminished its standing by its political activism in the appointment of Bush as president.

But what’s disturbing about the current civil unrest is its vitriolic nature, a condition that could be exacerbated this week as Mars continues its opposition with Pluto, a combination that encourages the use of brute force as a way of guaranteeing a position. I can’t help but wonder if part of what fuels the present venom is still a reaction to the changes of the Sixties. In February of 1966, there was a Saturn/Uranus opposition at exactly the same degrees of Pisces and Virgo as the first opposition in 2008; only the planets were in reversed Signs. Perhaps we’re simply picking up where we left off.

As these weeks unfold, it would be wise to remember the power of civil disobedience, and despite the current popularity of mean-spirited interactions, as always to practice non-violence at every opportunity.

August 19, 2009
We are certainly in the thick of it, four weeks away from the third exact contact of the ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition, and it feels as if its “gravitational” pull has the power as well as the volatility of the San Andreas Fault. Expect earthquakes of all proportion, from the political to the personal, to erupt all over the map of daily life. Some of these quakes are driven by enough volcanic force to drive apart what already feels hopelessly divided. And it’s not just the ongoing hostility over health care reform that isn’t really about health care reform. People are anxious and agitated about what lies ahead, and in the maelstrom of that uncertainty, conspiracy theories are clouding reason and exacerbating the already divisive air. For many, it feels like there is no safe place to wait out the storm. And from an astrological perspective, that may be true – we have several weeks ahead of increasing intensity. But that doesn’t make it impossible to establish and hold onto a peaceful position. Continue to refuse to engage in harmful activity of any kind and you’ll continue to help neutralize these pernicious astral winds.

The third exact contact and the midpoint of a series of five Saturn/Uranus oppositions occurs on September 15, which means for the next several weeks, we’re in the undertow of this configuration. Oppositions translate into tension. Saturn represents the status quo. Uranus, the inexorable process of change. This entire bundle is about an onslaught of challenges to existing structures and systems of organization, collective and individual. We have been in this Saturn/Uranus crisis since last September, and a contributing factor to the current histrionics is the aggregation of frustration over what’s changing, who’s in charge, and just how fast the changes are or aren’t taking place.

Unfortunately, as the Saturn/Uranus opposition tightens its grip, Mars continues to be at the epicenter of strife, a position that translates into irritation, aggravation, and aggression. Not so much because Mars only wants to fight, but because its interactions with Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto are fractious – and that’s putting it mildly. This week, Mars continues to square Uranus, as it simultaneously moves into an opposition with Pluto. A Mars/Uranus square signifies huge amounts of energy that can be applied to a specific purpose, but it will take spiritual skill and consciousness to spend this energy wisely.

The Mars/Pluto opposition encourages despots, feeds the need to seize control at any cost, and justifies ruthlessness as a means to an end. Do your best not to be reactionary. Remember, the means never justify the ends. The means are the ends, which is why violence never really changes anything and the revolutionary ultimately becomes the despot. Mars/Pluto contacts do support superhuman effort. And that’s just what’s needed for the next several weeks: the superhuman effort to stay conscious in thought, word, and deed. And even if it feels impossible, be kind and compassionate toward yourself as well as your fellow travelers.

August 12, 2009
Put on your Armadillo Armor, grab your patience pills, and make sure you have plenty of Rescue Remedy handy. This week, and the next several weeks are a hotbed of planetary conflict that is certain to manifest on Earth as a minefield of confrontation. We’re already in a war of words intended to create a quarrelsome, antagonistic atmosphere aimed at impeding forward progress. And as the Right Wing’s campaign to terrify and manipulate legions of people already terrified by a world they can’t comprehend escalates, opposition to that strategy is bound to engage even mild-mannered Democrats. From a global perspective, political conflicts already inflamed into physical combat turn even more aggressive. From a personal point of view, as suppressed, repressed, and depressed feelings rise to the surface of daily interactions, many of us are sure to start chanting, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it anymore.” It’s rebellion across the board because it’s just too intense. So intense, that even protection by the proper rites, rituals, or pharmaceuticals may not be enough to stave off impulsive reactions.

The celestial source of stress is Mars/Saturn/Uranus t-square, a tense fractious three-pronged pitchfork that stimulates frustration, agitation, and upheaval. Mars is at the midpoint of this difficult configuration. (1) Its square to Saturn was exact on August 10, but even as it continues to separate, it generates friction, especially when it comes to authority figures. Saturn does, after all, symbolize the rules and the regulations, and it insists on control. Parents of teenagers, pay attention: This square stimulates stubborn resistance and the tendency to act out. (2) As the week unfolds, Mars moves into its square with Uranus, and we move into action. This square is exact on August 18, but stays operative until August 27. Known for its explosive signature, this volatile interaction incites revolution wherever it can. From a political perspective, you can count on insurgency, especially where an unjust system has grown complacent in its power. On the personal plane, this Mars/Uranus square often spells d-i-v-o-r-c-e unless both parties make a giant effort to figure out how to work through the problems.

(3) Saturn and Uranus are tightening into their third exact opposition, which occurs on September 15, 2009. This opposition is about what happens when great waves of change wash away the structures of daily life. The financial foundations of the world are gone, and for many that means the regular routine of going to work has vanished, a disruption that cannot be measured solely in dollars and cents. And as the tension mounts during the coming weeks, you can expect some among us to melt down from the emotional, mental, and spiritual stress of not knowing what to do and no viable solution in sight.

Which is why, once again, it is important to remember we are all in this together and we need each other to pull through. So when you can, lend a helping hand to someone in need. With your love you can change the world.

August 5, 2009
A stern astral wind blows through the days and nights of daily life this week, and as it collides with today’s Lunar Eclipse, pragmatism buffets idealism, turning moods sour and dour. It’s not a pretty planetary picture. And as I mentioned last week, the next several weeks are equally bleak. Of course, not every life is going to play out like a grim chapter in a Dickens novel. Some of us will prosper and flourish. But for many struggling with the fatigue of holding life together, the question of how to handle this next negative convergence is right at the top of the survival list. The best strategy is to fly under the radar by refusing to engage in harmful activity of any kind. Intention is the prime mover that turns thoughts, words, and deeds into instant karma, so pay attention to your motivation. Is it really necessary to smugly or snidely comment on another’s choices or to rattle on about how you would do “it” better? Or, to participate in any of the other ways that bolster an “inferior” position by attempting to feel superior to someone else? The world is in the midst of a material and spiritual catharsis, an extreme condition that makes it all the more important to keep not just our wits, but also our hearts, about us.

The August 5 Lunar Eclipse is the last of the season. (Whew…I think I’ve had enough, thank you.) During a Lunar Eclipse conscious concerns overshadow unconscious ones and the here-and-now supplants the Dreamtime. Of course we know the Dreamtime, because it is the basis of all other time, can’t really be overtaken, but there are phases when that primary reality does seem to be heavily veiled. And this is one of those times, especially because so many minds are focused on material survival. Yet no matter how pressing the concerns of the 3D, when those concerns obscure spiritual perspective, finding any solid, reliable reality to stand on is a Herculean task. That has been and continues to be the challenge of this year’s eclipse season: Facing material survival through the lens of spiritual awareness.

Herculean, for sure, but not necessarily an impossible Labor if it weren’t for a difficult pattern of Martian resistance. Mars, archetype of the Warrior, is extremely active, all month long. First, and all August, a Sun/Mars sextile generates a vigorous, vital atmosphere. But lively is not the problem. What’s problematic is Mars’ other interaction. This week, it is in a square to Saturn, a fractious relationship that could devolve into harsh and bitter disputes intended to cause harm. This would not be a good time to become embroiled in acrimonious divorce or custody proceedings. This would be a good time to make love instead of war.

Humans do not live by bread alone and love has always been a powerful antidote for hate. So as this week and the coming weeks unfold, let your actions become a remedy for what ails.

July 29, 2009
This week is the first in a series of weeks—nearly seven to be exact—of incessant increasing intensity, both personal and collective. I don’t want to be an alarmist. And the news is never all bad or all good. But as the current celestial pattern unfolds, we are likely to experience escalating tension that culminates with the third Saturn/Uranus opposition on September 15, 2009. Saturn/Uranus contacts signify challenges to the status quo, particularly stagnant social structures, and thus far, this series has manifested as the dissolution of previously tried and true financial systems. And while some of us are clear that we are still in the midst of a paradigm shift that’s likely to include further financial upheaval, many of us may be thinking we are out of the woods. Not according to the stars. We are only at the midpoint of this five-part series of oppositions, which means there are still lots of plot points waiting to be revealed. What makes the third opposition on September 15 problematic is what transpires leading up to it. As Saturn and Uranus tighten their positions over the next several weeks, Mars moves from one pernicious interaction to another, and as Mars irritates, nervous systems chafe from stress, making meltdowns probable. The antidote is simple: refuse to engage in any mean-spirited, harsh, or brutal behavior. Period. But applying this remedy will take a deep commitment to conscious living.

By August 1, Mars will begin to square Saturn; the square is exact on August 10and stays operative until August 20. Mars is the principle of physical energy. Saturn symbolizes structure. Squares indicate friction. And as these two Titans clash their sparks become our tests of strength. Expect areas already disturbed to experience more disruption, political, economic, and spiritual. Also anticipate brawls or quarrels at home and in the workplace. Lots of us are gonna not just want to, but have to, spend the excess energy somewhere, which means as the petty or not so petty strife of the day amps up, taking or making a stand will feel justified, whether it is or not. Don’t kick the dog or anyone else in frustration.

But the true test of strength will be found in how skillfully the discord can be avoided. Mars/Saturn contacts can also signify concentrated energy, but in order to successfully harness that power, the determination to succeed has to be combined with a clear intention to do no harm. And that also means watching your words. Mars is in Gemini, the Sign of language, a position that will feed a tendency to say things in the heat of the moment you might latter regret.

If ever there was a time to “make nice” these next few weeks would be it. Lots of us are going to be more than a little testy, so when possible, keep the peace. It won’t be easy, but in the end, it will be the wiser choice.

July 22, 2009
Waves of emotion continue to break upon the shores of daily life, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself experiencing strong, maybe even disproportionate or inappropriate, reactions to certain situations. We are in the immediate wake of the July 21 Solar Eclipse, which means unconscious concerns are continuing to overshadow conscious ones, and regular routines continue to be disrupted by interference and interruptions. High anxiety is likely for some of us, as previously reliable circumstances turn uncertain. Others may be caught in the undertow of helplessness, swept away by an inexorable current of change that is impervious to resistance. And still more, maybe even most of us, are likely to simply feel overwhelmed by the ongoing dissolution of the status quo. While emotional bodies, yours and others, personal and collective, will try to make sense of what unfolds, it won’t be easy finding discernible patterns, which make it all the more important to remember that sometimes life doesn’t make sense and that’s the point. So rather than force your way through your feelings, take the time to experience your reactions and then allow that process to facilitate greater awareness.

Other than the complexity of the Solar Eclipse, the week is deceptively simple. No blatantly pernicious influences color the days and nights. That being said, we are at the tail end of a Venus/Saturn square. This is a short-lived interaction that’s been operating since July 17 and stays operative until July 26. Venus symbolizes love, Saturn represents inhibition, and their combined influence tends to signal a hard-heartedness that shows itself through a critical attitude that can never be satisfied with what is. Try not to be too harsh with yourself or others. Remember, Earth is not the planet of perfection. We are also at the beginning of a Sun/Mars sextile, a positive combination that fosters physical vitality.

But the reason the week is “deceptively” simple is that we are still in an eclipse season; there is another Lunar Eclipse on August 5. As we move toward this next Lunar Eclipse, we also move into a Mars/Saturn square, a fractious interaction that begins August 1 and continues until August 21. Mars represents the Warrior, Saturn represents limitation, and squares signify irritation that tends to manifest as abrasive interactions. All of which translates into Saturn’s determination to restrain that Martian need to take a stand. Of course, Mars is sure to resist Saturn and that resistance could manifest as violence, individual and collective. Expect yourself, those you love, and those you don’t even know to be hotter under the collar than usual. Also anticipate self-interest to insinuate itself into all sorts of situations. The positive application of Mars/Saturn contacts is the ability to work hard, with deep concentration, toward specific goals.

As the week unfolds, the key to conscious living is keeping life simple. And while this is easier said than done, it is not impossible, and it will be well worth the effort.

July 15, 2009
Expect more questions than answers this week. We’re still in a liminal realm, caught between a Lunar and Solar Eclipse, and this “land of in between” continues to produce a strange psychic stress that exacerbates survival issues. Of course, there is nothing new about survival issues. Here, on Planet Earth, most of us wrestle every day with how to survive. But this week, and for the next several weeks, those concerns take on a heightened intensity as they expand to include existential as well as financial concerns. So don’t be surprised if you’re wrestling with choices about how to live in a world whose old structures seem to be dissolving before new ones can replace them. The good news is that this liminal space, while transitional, is also highly creative; the struggle to make sense of and adjust to our current situation provides plenty of opportunities to break free from what enslaves, whether those chains are physical, psychological, or spiritual. The best way to use this time is to notice your reactions. Are they habitual? Motivated by anxiety? How do you handle the fear? While it may be uncomfortable probing your personal pattern, if you underscore your investigation with an intention to grow, your capacity to transform unconscious reactions into aware responses will increase.

Both the Lunar Eclipse on July 7 and the Solar Eclipse on July 21 occur in the Cardinal Signs of Cancer and Capricorn, two Signs most concerned with the practical and pragmatic aspects of survival. The Lunar Eclipse took place In Capricorn, which represents the societal survival structures that organize collective experience. The Solar Eclipse takes place in Cancer, the Sign that symbolizes personal survival issues, particularly themes of safety and security. The eclipse happens at the last degree of Cancer, a position that intensifies those themes. Eclipses distort time, which means we often experience their effect well before or after the actual event. During a Solar Eclipse, the Moon obscures the Sun, and as it does, the unconscious overshadows the conscious mind. So if you suddenly find yourself obsessing on survival issues, don’t worry. Just try to be cautious about letting apprehension and unease dictate your mood, attitude, or actions.

Uranus rides the eclipse current all week as it trines the Sun, stirring a profound desire, personal and collective, for reform and revolution. In the I-Ching, Hexagram 49, Ko/Revolution, offers much insight into the idea of revolution. One facet of that wisdom is the reminder that revolution must be founded on inner truth as well as higher truth.

As the next weeks unfold, have the courage to question your view of the world. And if you find there are areas that need to transform, make every effort to ground your revolution – psychological, political, material, or spiritual – in the deepest truth, so that the changes that ensue will be for the greatest good of all sentient beings.

July 8, 2009
Astral-adrenalin surges pulse through daily life this week, making it hard to settle down or settle in. Even those of us who look as grounded as a mountain may be experiencing deep internal volcanic movement. And those who are normally a little spacey may be barely able to feel their feet. We’re in the wake of two wobbling celestial events: Uranus went retrograde on Wednesday, July 1, a course correction celebrated by electronic madness as everything from iPods to refrigerators went on the blink. And a Lunar Eclipse on July 7 reversed the “normal” order of things, highlighting issues of safety, security, and survival. Oy. It is a week to chop wood, carry water, and apply consciousness to the simple tasks of life.

Uranus is best known as the astrological father of innovation and mother of invention, and its presence is usually experienced as sudden and surprising events that revolutionize reality. We’ve been in the thrall of a powerful Uranus configuration – a Saturn/Uranus opposition – since last September. Saturn represents structure and limitation, and their opposition signifies powerful challenges to the status quo. The last time this opposition occurred was the mid 1960s, a time of multidimensional revolutions in consciousness and culture. For many astrologers, including myself, this current opposition signaled the economic revolution we are currently experiencing. Since the end of this February, as Saturn went Retrograde, and Uranus moved forward, we have had a slight – okay, infinitesimal – respite from the grueling bad news about the stock market. And some are predicting that we have hit the bottom of the barrel of difficulty and are moving up. I would be cautious about being overly optimistic. The third exact opposition within this cycle will occur on September 15, which means by the beginning of August, as Uranus moves back into a tight opposition with Saturn, we could see even more turmoil. That being said, Uranus thrives on surprise, which translates into anyone’s guess about what the next opposition will bring. From a personal perspective, Uranus Retrograde is going to challenge decisions made in the heat of the moment during the last few months. So be prepared for reversals of fortune of every denomination, not just financial.

The July 7 Lunar Eclipse took place along the Cancer/Capricorn axis; the Moon is in Capricorn, the Sun is in Cancer. When the Sun overshadows the Moon, conscious concerns take the lead, and because Cancer and Capricorn are both pragmatic, practical Signs, this eclipse is sure to exacerbate issues of financial survival. Rather than get swept away by amorphous, generalized anxiety, use this eclipse event to identify the next step in solidifying your financial safety. Be aware, eclipses distort time and often the effect is felt six weeks prior to or after the actual event.

This is a week to keep breathing, as often and deeply as possible. Nervous systems of every ilk are feeling the strain of intensity and the more each of us is able to maintain our calm, the better for all of us.

July 1, 2009
For the last several months, every time I sit down to write this column I am perplexed about what to write. I have the format down: Identify the themes, describe how they play out, and then, offer up practical advice about how to handle the news. Or as a good friend once said, “Ralfee’s column:  First paragraph – life sucks; second paragraph, life sucks; and so forth until the end, which reads, ‘Here’s what you can do about it. And be nice.’” Okay…maybe it’s not that simple or succinct. But as I face the astrological picture for the coming weeks and months, I feel the need to break free from that format. Most of us already know we are living in exceptional times, and the current planetary patterns reflect that intensity. What the stars indicate for now and for the future is a highly charged, transformational time that is going to be deeply uncomfortable. But nothing is a fait accompli. Earth is a free will planet, and the outcome – or what we would call history – is determined by individual choice. It may not look that way at times, but nevertheless it is so. So…as the coming weeks and months unfold, as you continue to read this column – or any other astrology column – please keep in mind, astrologers interpret symbols as best they can, but how those symbols transform into life experience is neither uniform nor predictable. We are all (astrologer and reader) actually making “it” up as we go along – and while that’s a whole lotta uncertainty, in the end, it is a very good thing. True healing comes from staying on the field of action, no matter how uncomfortable, and allowing the necessary transformation to occur.

And we are definitely standing on a field of action. Uranus goes Retrograde today and stays that way until December 1st, and as it “turns around,” Uranus sextiles Mars from the 1-13. Uranus represents kinetic energy, Mars symbolizes physical energy, and when they work in unison, they generate sheer physical power. Much of that power will manifest itself as innovation, but also be prepared for sudden twists of fate, personal as well as collective.

We end this week with a Lunar Eclipse on July 7th. Even though we understand the science of eclipses, eclipses still signal a reversal of the “normal” order. And given the already Uranian pulse of this week, this eclipse translates into even more upset. As regular routines fall apart, be prepared for nervous systems, yours or others’, already on overload, to blow a fuse or snap a circuit breaker.

While I don’t think the planets cause events, I do think there is an inexplicable correlation between celestial and terrestrial cycles. I enjoy the mystery of astrology because it invites not just the mind, but also the soul, to participate in the dialogue between heaven and earth – and that’s a conversation we can all benefit from.

June 24, 2009
Fasten your seatbelts. Or should I say tighten them? Uranus goes Retrograde on July 1, which means this week and next are going to be more than a little bumpy. I can already hear the collective moan: “More than the last few weeks, with all the mishegas and madness so many people have been facing?” Yes…much more, because when Uranus changes direction, daily life increases in intensity, and little earthquakes, personal and collective, send shudders through regular routines. Be prepared to be off-center, and more than a little disoriented. Anticipate sleep disturbances, and also be prepared for pulses to exhibit erratic rates. The stars incline, as the saying goes, they do not compel. But Uranus, the planet that symbolizes breaking the rules, often breaks that rule, if only because we tend to experience such dramatic extremes before and after it changes direction.

Uranus signifies shift, so when it “turns around,” which it does once a year, for approximately five months, we tend to experience turn arounds as well; its “revolutions” become our retrospectives. The current retrograde phase lasts from July 1 through December 1, which means for many of us, the next five months of Uranus Retrograde translates into a reexamination of decisions made over the course of the last five months (February-June), especially decisions made in haste or in the heat of the moment. Love affairs you thought were kaput could be rekindled. Projects you thought were lost are suddenly revived with new enthusiasm. Out of the blue, you’re offered an unanticipated promotion. Just be aware, when Uranus goes direct in December, all the positions reversed during its retrograde phase could be reversed again. Uranus is, after all, the planet of startling plot twists.

There is no way to prepare for Uranus Retrograde, other than to practice yoga on every level – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – for flexibility is the best way to handle surprising events. What Uranus always does, whether it is moving backward or forward, is catalyze whatever is stagnant or stale. Uranus abhors the status quo but only if the status quo has hardened into an untenable rigidity. The good news about Uranus is that its presence is so blatant, it’s hard not to notice what it is trying to shake loose from either a personal or collective perspective. Pay attention to your resistance or where you are clinging to a position, political, philosophical, or financial, and you’ll be able to identify what Uranus is catalyzing. Remember, resistance is futile when it comes to Uranus, so make sure you’re willing to surrender what is no longer vital in your life.

We’ve been the midst of so much change for so long it seems almost impossible that the ante in this game of stress could get any higher than it already is. Nervous systems already fragile from prolonged states of adrenal emergency need tender care during these times. So be kind to yourself, as well as your fellow travelers during the coming week. A small gentle gesture can soothe an anxious heart.

June 17, 2009
A mixed bag of celestial signatures coalesces into yet another week of earthly intensity, and because so much is happening at once, it won’t be easy to prioritize time and energy. Fortunately, grounded discipline is a part of this planetary mix, but you will still need to keep your wits about you. With all that’s going on, it will be all too easy to become distracted or overzealous. What’s more, issues of power and control form the baseline of the week, as the idealistic need for personal freedom motivates spontaneous leaps of faith, but a potent need to control the outcome interferes with the purity of free expression. While these astral contradictions are confusing, they are also exciting, and it won’t be easy saying “no.” And that could lead to overextension or exhaustion. You’ll need discernment to navigate these crosscurrents, and don’t be surprised if you feel yourself pulled in opposite directions. Focusing on specific issues, rather than polarizing or withdrawing in overwhelm, will help to synthesize these seemingly disparate forces.

The Sun continues to trine the Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction, and as it does, it continues to shed a bright light on ideals, as well as what inhibits the integration of those highest principles and keeps them from becoming reality. This trine also fosters keen imagination, which means many of us may be feeling deep levels of inspiration. But because of Chiron’s presence, many of us may also be at a loss as to how to express those insights.

The ongoing Sun/Uranus square provokes the desire to break away from whatever inhibits personal freedom, imagined or actual. This rebellious signature encourages independence from whatever enslaves, internal or external, so be prepared for lots of people, including you, to take a stand for liberty.

The problem with this universal urge for self rule is that the Sun also opposes Pluto, a difficult interaction that persists until the end of the month. Sun/Pluto contacts are always about issues of personal power, particularly issues of power related to a father or a father figure. This could be a hard time for President Obama or other leaders who carry collective paternal projections. What’s important to recognize in the midst of this opposition is just how invested you are to giving your power away to such a father figure. This opposition also has a tendency to encourage despots, big or small. As Sun/Pluto opposition collides with the Sun/Uranus square, arguments, if not brawls, over who has the power are probable.

The very good news of the week is that Saturn trines the Venus/Mars conjunction, providing a grounding rod of realism. Apply the strength of this interaction liberally to any situation that seems to swing between extremes. This is a faithful and enduring signature that could turn lusty infatuation into a permanent condition.

As the week unfolds, try to think before you leap. While Uranian spontaneity is exciting and creative, it can also exacerbate power struggles. I’m not suggesting you defer your personal liberation. I’m simply advising discernment as an appropriate attitude in the midst of so much shift.

June 10, 2009
Daily life is still off-the-charts busy, this week, and it’s not just because Mercury Retrograde is over and everyone is still making up for lost time. All the planets are engaged, and that translates into action, which could turn the days as well as the nights hectic. These astral interactions are a smorgasbord of potentialities, running the range from the deeply esoteric to the deeply erotic. The good news is that because there is so much going on, no one will be left out – there is definitely something for everyone.

The ongoing conjunction of Neptune/Jupiter/Chiron continues, but this week, there is a new dimension to consider. The Sun trines all three planets, a position that further amplifies the idealism of this conjunction. Much has been written about this conjunction, and while I am thoroughly on board for the “higher” frequencies of this signature, I am also aware (as many of you are as well) that in order for a true transformational shift in consciousness to occur, what is unconscious must be identified, its role, recognized, and then its power, integrated. It’s not just simply a matter of wishing the economy would recover. It is fundamentally a matter of analyzing what went wrong, not in an effort to restore the old pattern, but to find an antidote for the toxicity of the failed system in order for a new model to be created. So while the Sun’s trine to this altruistic conjunction may illuminate its idealistic essence, what the Sun may also do is illuminate the repressive, callous shadows that impelled us to this collective moment in history. Again, true change begins with the individual, which means each of us has the power to change our participation in the old paradigm. Baby steps do not necessarily mean useless or ineffectual steps. Also keep in mind, Mercury continues to square Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron, which could make clarity an issue.

The good news is that Mercury also continues to sextile Uranus, supporting creative, innovative ways of thinking about all varieties of subjects and situations.

The best news this week is the ongoing Venus/Mars conjunction. Both are in Taurus, the Sign of sensuality and sexuality, and as the gods of love and sex continue to form a perfect union, mortal libidos are sure to go off the charts. Venus and Mars have been traveling in tandem for several weeks, so this may not be news for you, but this week (as well as last week), they have both been in a trine to Pluto, a positive alliance that is most commonly interpreted as a proclivity toward procreation (or at least trying to). If you are not so inclined, the power of this trine can be aimed at creative and artistic endeavors, but it will take a Herculean effort. That being said, Pluto’s presence clearly indicates transformation is possible. So while it may be difficult not indulging those sexual urges, this trine can be used to make powerful personal shifts. (Hmmm…how do you spell “tantra”?)

June 3, 2009
A non-stop marathon of planetary activity turns this week, and the next several weeks, into a powerful astro-drama that’s sure to challenge all of us, even those astral athletes who thrive on prolonged periods of intensity. Every member of the astrological pantheon has a part to play, and as their roles run the range of probable manifestations from negative to positive (and just about everything in between), one thing is guaranteed: you won’t be bored. The best way to navigate this planetary pace is to find a comfortable stride, preferably one that allows you to take breaks when necessary. Keep in mind, just because daily life is intense, it doesn’t have to be extreme.

Several factors contribute to the quickening. First, the ongoing Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction in Aquarius continues to inspire altruistic goals. But I’ve been looking closely at how this energy seems to be manifesting, and I’ve decided that Chiron’s presence is skewing this conjunction toward the deeper wounds of what keeps us from concretizing those ideals. But those wounds are hard to see because the causal level of greed and fear is so deep and because too many of us still believe that greed is good. This is why I think the effect of the Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction feels more like “hopeiness” than actual hope. (I didn’t come up with the idea of “hopeiness” although I wish I had. My cousin’s friend recently suggested that Stephen Colbert should make it a new word of the day.) We want change – yes we do – and when we see or hear President Obama speak, we think we are changing. But actually, some things are staying the same or getting worse. Certain detainees will never be tried. And now, along with resuscitating the banks with our tax dollars, we have legislation that gives the banks permission to charge as much interest as they want and gives us permission to carry handguns in state parks. This is not hope; this is hopeiness.

Second, Mercury, now Direct, and gathering forward momentum, squares the Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction. This interaction could provide the necessary friction to ask real questions about how to make real change. So don’t be afraid to ask what it will take to truly transform and insist that our president do the same. It would be a huge disappointment to so many if Obama became the next symbol of the status quo. Fortunately, a Mercury/Uranus sextile is also operating, which means innovation is possible, if not probable. Aim this energy at problem solving, and you could surprise yourself with positive, inventive solutions capable of tangible transformation.

Good intentions are a good start, but unless those intentions turn into action, all the words in the world won’t make a difference. Which is why it’s important once again to remember that each of us is a powerful agent of change, and that true and lasting change happens one person, one mind, and one heart at a time.

May 27, 2009
The planets are in transition this week, and so are we. Some of us are steeped in preliminary work, setting the stage for what lies ahead, but wishing for more time. Others of us are already hip-deep in organizational details, unable to postpone action, despite all admonitions about Mercury Retrograde. Even more are feeling the consternation of patience, waiting like a horse in the gate to simply get started, but for one reason or another the “race” keeps getting postponed. Most transitions tend to be uncomfortable, and this one is no different. The best way through is to gather your strength as best you can, and also to know, by this time next week, you’ll already by in overdrive.

Mercury goes Direct late in the day on May 30th, so don’t expect a strong forward push until Monday, June 1st. While this retrograde hasn’t lasted that much longer than other Mercury Retrograde phases (they usually last about three weeks), it does somehow seem longer. Maybe it’s the lengthening days as we approach summer, or maybe life just feels stretched. Or perhaps this retrograde seems longer because during the entire retrograde, Mercury has been so bloody busy, a situation that continues even as the retrograde ends. This week, Mercury squares the ongoing Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction. And while this conjunction is generally idealistic, the square from Mercury could have tongues wagging but words failing to convey any actual meaning. Mercury also continues to sextile Uranus, a positive interaction with the potential to keep minds actively engaged in creative innovation, a condition that could prevent the Jupiter/Neptune/Mercury proclivity toward gossip.

It’s only the presence of Mercury that turns the Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction toward chitchat. On its own, this conjunction is all about an expansive idealism aimed at generous, humanitarian endeavors. It’s basically just what’s needed, given our current global circumstances, because this is the type of astral configuration that supports positive efforts to make the world a better place to live. Chiron’s participation can skew the interpretation of this conjunction in along several storylines. First, Chiron indicates the need to acknowledge and address the wounds of our collective greed. Next, Chiron signals the need to shift out of the idea that we are driven by animal appetites, which is the justification for the idea of the survival of the fittest. Third, Chiron also indicates that it’s time to release personal and collective identification with your wounding and move into an identification with our healing – and I don’t mean the Rapture. I’m talking about taking the very real knowledge we have about what we need to do to make the world a better place for all of its inhabitants and put it into motion. Chiron’s presence is about concretizing our ideals through action. The time for talking about change is done.

As the week unfolds, Mars moves into a trine with Pluto, a configuration that translates into extraordinary amounts of energy, and another reason the astral transitions of the week are uncomfortable. While it won’t be easy waiting until the retrograde is over, be patient, and by Monday, the shift will feel solid and smooth.

May 20, 2009
The planets are aligned in simple patterns this week, and their simplicity offers opportunities for clarity. Don’t get me wrong – the seemingly incessant intensity of daily life does not disappear. We’re still in Mercury Retrograde, after all, which translates into an unrelenting need to pay attention to the smallest of details. But overall, we get a little break, and if you’re as tired as I am, the lack of astral complexity is a welcome relief.

We’re in the last ten days of Mercury Retrograde, which means we’re in the last ten days of a slo-mo, rewind review of most, if not all, things in our individual lives related to communication. Conversations, letters, emails, contracts, negotiations, term papers and everything connected to computers – if language is being used at all – is certain to have suffered during this retrograde. Mercury goes Direct on May 30th, but we probably won’t feel the keen wind of its forward motion until June 1st or 2nd. Remember, the don’t-initiate-anything-new-rule still applies for three days after Mercury turns around. So try not to let frustration motivate you to jump the gun.

But there is good news about the last days of this Mercury Retrograde phase. First, from this week until the middle of June, Mercury squares the Jupiter/Neptune/Chiron conjunction, a powerful interaction that amplifies altruistic endeavors. As Mercury squares this conjunction, it activates imagination, as it simultaneously stimulates inspiration. Be prepared for lots of ideas, all of which could have a strong visual component capable of revealing the entire design in one great flash of brilliance. This square also stimulates conversation – lots, and lots of conversation.  So if you are a writer, spend your words on paper before they slip away through dialogue or idle chatter.

The second bit of good news is a Mercury/Uranus sextile, which is also in effect through the middle of June. This positive union generates an inventive mindset, as it simultaneously encourages all sorts of interests, from the technical to the intuitive. This is one of my most favorite interactions because it provides the potential to shift out of stagnant patterns. It also provides the energy to break free from intellectual habituations that inhibit rather than enhance creativity and transformation. The best news about this Mercury/Uranus sextile is that it has the capacity to amplify the altruistic intentions of the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction by providing dazzling flashes of how those humanitarian longings can be concretized. Remember, Uranus embodies the thunderbolts and lightning of change, often thought to be guided by divine intention. And those Uranian thunderbolts have the power to illuminate previously unseen or unconsidered choices.

It’s a good week to clarify confusing situations, even and especially those circumstances that seem mired in muck. You’ll need to be direct and precise, but you’ll also need to be patient with yourself and others.

May 13, 2009
The normal rhythms of daily life disappear this week, and in their place, a wide variety of mood swings sets the tone of daily interactions. For some, the absence of the familiar might make it hard to maintain a strong personal center. For others, that same lack could feel like a lot of permission to break free. Yet others are likely to experience the mind-numbing monotony of putting one foot in front of the other without ever getting anywhere. Okay…maybe life this week won’t be as dramatic as all of that. But we are in Mercury Retrograde, an astrological cycle that makes it impossible to rely on the regular routines of daily life. And that could be disconcerting, disorienting and discombobulating.

Mercury began its second retrograde cycle of review on May 7th, and will continue to retrace its path until May 30th. Mercury Retrograde is always about delays, detours, and snafus, related to travel, commerce, and communication. And while it is never a good time to initiate anything new, Mercury Retrograde is always a perfect time to review the details of plans and projects already in motion.

But it’s not Mercury that’s manipulating the week’s moods. We are also in the midst of a Jupiter/Neptune conjunction, a mystical convergence that tends to manifest as a devotion to altruistic, humanitarian ideals. Jupiter symbolizes expanded awareness and the quest for spiritual knowledge. Neptune represents imagination, as well as empathy, sympathy, and receptivity. And when these two planets share the same space, kindness and consideration abound. We like this conjunction, mostly because the world can always use a stronger dose of humanitarian concern – especially right now, at this particular moment in history, when the contractive grip of anxiety snatches the breath from so many. All attempts to think about good solutions are a welcome addition to consciousness, personal and collective.

But this conjunction is not without its shadows. Chiron is exactly conjunct both Jupiter and Neptune. Chiron, nicknamed the “Wounded Healer,” symbolizes both the split between instinct and intellect, as well as the potential for healing that schism. On the negative end of the spectrum, its presence could manifest as cynicism born of the recognition of how hard it is to actualize altruism. Yet on the positive end, Chiron’s participation could also engender a true optimism that sees the gap between imagination and reality and leaps into action anyway.

Unfortunately, from the 9th to 22nd, the purity of the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction is sullied by a square from the Sun, a fractious interaction that is likely to provoke excess and extravagance as well as emotional meltdowns, especially if unrealistic expectations aren’t met. But this square just as easily builds the muscle necessary to do whatever it takes to turn dreams into reality.

This week, instead of allowing retrograde frustration to determine your mood, use your time constructively. Contemplate how you would make the world a better place to live for yourself as well as for others.

May 6, 2009
Nothing is moving quickly this week or for the next couple of weeks, so if you are looking for a speedy anything or want instant returns or gratifications of any kind, you’ll need to travel to a parallel universe. The planets have a pace of their own, and attempting to force this natural rhythm will only result in frustration. So rather than wasting time or energy resisting or insisting that daily life be anything other than it is, take a deep breath, exhale, and do your best to adjust to the astral pulse. While the deceleration may feel awkward at first, within a couple of days, you’ll be wondering why you were so intent on pushing so hard.

The source of this slowdown is Mercury Retrograde. From May 7 to May 30, Mercury is in its second retrograde phase of the year. For those of you unfamiliar with Mercury Retrograde, here’s the skinny: Mercury represents all things related to communication and travel. Three times a year it appears, at least from our perspective on Earth, to move in reverse. And during those retrograde phases, all things within its vast domain also seem to move behind rather than ahead. Phones of every ilk, documents of every dimension, and mail of every denomination fail to perform to perfection, which means messages vanish into the void.

Computer crashes are probable under a Mercury Retrograde, so be sure to have a backup plan, especially if you aren’t backed up. Same with travel plans. Try to solidify your arrangements before the retrograde. And during the retrograde, be prepared for delays and detours. While Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to initiate anything new, it is an excellent time to review, refine, and reconsider anything already in motion.

Given the reflective nature of Mercury Retrograde, the next few weeks would be a good to time to contemplate the state of the nation, from a personal as well as a collective perspective. The first few months of 2009 have been months of significant shift. Although its immediate hold has lessened, we are still in the grip of the Saturn/Uranus opposition, a configuration that symbolizes confrontations with the status quo. Saturn signifies structures, Uranus, revolution, and when they oppose one another, certain facets of society tend to tumble. Just as an example, the last time we experienced an opposition between Saturn and Uranus was in 1965 to 1967, a time of tremendous social upheaval, when social mores disintegrated in a cultural revolution that was undeniable. We are in just such a stage, now. And just as consciousness was the cutting edge of change during the Sixties, during the current cycle, consciousness continues to be the cutting edge of change.

As Mercury Retrograde unfolds, instead of devolving into frustration or anxiety about the technological failures or traffic jams, contemplate what current cultural mores are in the process of disintegration. We are living through a paradigm shift, and the more we can see what’s occurring through a broad perspective, the easier it will be to adjust to the changes.

April 29, 2009
Don’t be dismayed if you can’t find a clear signal or consistent thread to guide you through this week’s wormholes of moods and attitudes. The sky is an odd hodgepodge of astral interactions. On one side of the celestial sphere, the strong, decisive trend toward hard but efficient work continues. While on the other side, passionate, yet compulsive, sexual urges delight and distract. And in yet another not so distant galaxy, Mercury prepares for its second retrograde phase of 2009, and as its preparations decrease the “normal” speed of light, the pace of daily life here on Earth begins to decelerate. But that’s not all. A Jupiter/Neptune conjunction continues to inspire vision quests, personal and collective, aimed at true transformation. These disparate planetary patterns could be disconcerting or discombobulating, but that doesn’t mean the picture is necessarily negative. Set your internal compass on positive, and that conscious intention will lead you through the maze.

The source of strength is a trine between the Sun, in Taurus, and Saturn, in Virgo. This positive combination tends to lean heavily in the direction of solitude and self-reliance; its potential for determination is undeniable. And even though it feels as if this is the place for me to add a disclaimer or qualifier, there simply isn’t anything “wrong” with a Sun/Saturn trine. Use its power wisely and you’ll access the potential to steady and stabilize the week’s wobbles.

A Venus/Mars conjunction, in Aries, continues to fuel amorous appetites as well as passionate pursuits. When Venus and Mars share the same space, they give birth to sexual and sensual urges, as well as intense emotional expressions. Anticipate declarations of adoration and affection, and while those pronouncements may come mostly from the heat of the moment, others come straight from the heart and are likely to cover a wide range of love interests, from the personal to the political.

Mercury goes Retrograde on May 7, and as we approach the turnaround, time distortions could make regular routines feel increasingly disorienting. Mercury will stay retrograde until May 30, which means the entire month of May is going to have a rhythm all its own. For those of you new to Mercury Retrograde, this phase tends to interfere with every thing related to communication and travel. So start your backup, hard drive engines, now. Also, if you are making travel plans, book those reservations before Monday, May 4, and you’ll have an easier time navigating the delays and detours of a retrograde.

Fortunately, a Jupiter/Neptune conjunction turns the air considerate, and while this configuration is no panacea for all that ails, it definitely takes the edge off by providing the potential for idealism and genuine concern for humanity. Just be aware, this conjunction is not a perfect union, especially if you’re struggling with addiction as a way of coping with stress. But if you can corral this optimistic energy and aim it at a good attitude, you’ll find real support for active compassion. And that would be a welcome addition to any week.

April 22, 2009
Idiosyncratic planetary patterns turns daily life oddly disconnected. And while it is true, the pernicious winds of recent weeks have lost their bluster, foreboding about what lies ahead still has a tenacious hold on hearts, minds, and souls. The stamina to forge ahead on certain projects is there and readily accessible, but enthusiasm is measured and there’s a reticence to get too excited about the possibilities. But that’s not all. To make matters worse, even though the next Mercury Retrograde phase of the year is still two weeks away, regular routines seem strangely out of sync – the Internet icon indicates you’re on line, but try as you might, you can’t download the necessary information. And that frustration has the potential to sour moods and attitudes. There are two essential elements to navigating this next phase. The first is patience, with yourself, with others, and with the process of change itself. The second is faith, in you, in others, and especially in the notion that while these are troubled times, they are not more than we can handle.

A Mercury/Uranus sextile is at the heart of this week’s erratic pulse. Normally, I would extol the virtues of this combination because it stimulates inventive ways of thinking. Period. And I’m still sticking to that interpretation. But neither Mercury nor Uranus is the most stable of planetary symbols (when they interact in any configuration, sentient nervous systems stretch and struggle to integrate the energy). And because this sextile comes at the end of several weeks of difficult Uranian interactions, we could feel more disconcerted by its presence than moved to innovative behavior. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself testy and suspicious when someone suggests a new way of doing just about anything.

A Sun/Pluto trine does provide a deep well of strength, stamina, and the determination to move forward despite obstacles. The Sun is in Taurus, a Sign devoted to tangible, practical results. Pluto is in Capricorn, another Earth Sign that shares the same love of sensible, effective means and methods. Unfortunately, a Mars/Pluto square has the potential to turn this square into a propensity for sheer brute force. Please remember to be kind – we’re all in need of respect and consideration.

But the problem with harnessing that down-to-earth potential is the ongoing Jupiter/Neptune conjunction. For while this conjunction supports altruistic dreams, it can just as easily diffuse the power of those ideals through excess – too much concentration in one area and not enough in another, for example. Or the squandering of energy on ideas that are illusory. Also be aware that this conjunction feeds addictive appetites as a way of coping with the stresses and strains of daily life. So if you’re prone to satisfying your hunger through excessive use of drugs, alcohol, sex or shopping – although not too many people are indulging that appetite – try to substitute healthy ways of managing the tension. Be creative – write, paint, pot, play music, or find other, healthy ways of spending your energy.

April 15, 2009
Here’s the good news: Even in the midst of the madness there are opportunities for strength and clarity. Here’s the bad news: The tumult of recent weeks continues, and as it does, daily routines continue to beat to an erratic pulse. Expect disruptions, and anticipate feeling more than a little stretched, as nervous systems strain to maintain. Also be prepared for those around you – loved ones, as well as strangers – to also be overwhelmed by the intensity. But also be aware, the planets are providing plenty of potential to think through any crisis as it plays out, which translates into the ability to make grounded choices about how to handle the intensity.

The source of stress is the on going Mars/Uranus conjunction. It’s exact April 15th, and as it starts to separate, dynamic releases are probable. Mars symbolizes physical energy. Uranus represents kinetic energy, and when these two share the same space, their combined force creates an unstable atmosphere. That instability tends toward volatile excess that translates into meltdowns, personal and collective – something we’ve already seen too much of in the last several weeks. On a less violent level, this conjunction also signals a need to hurry through almost everything, big or small. As the excess energy produced by this conjunction spills over, the atmosphere turns antsy, so don’t be surprised if you’re feeling agitated for no “good” reason.

Fortunately, a Mercury/Saturn trines provides a thorough, thoughtful mindset, which supports a feet-on-the-ground attitude that encourages positive action. Mercury is in Taurus, Saturn is in Virgo, both, strong practical Earth Signs. As a result, we’re likely to feel that actual accomplishments are possible. Keep in mind, this potential for success isn’t only material. Yes, it’s good for business, but this trine between the planet of intellect, Mercury, and the planet of structure, Saturn, engenders the solid ground of clarity in a variety of endeavors.

A Sun/Pluto trine provides deep wells of strength, as well as determination. This is a positive union between the brightest planetary light, the Sun, and the deepest, Pluto, so don’t waste this powerful combination. It is best spent when it is directed at specific goals. Again, these aims don’t have to be professional or financial. They can just as easily be a desire for greater understanding or a greater capacity to integrate spiritual awareness into altruistic action.

As you move through another intense week it might be handy to remember that we are in the grace period of the ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition. The next exact opposition isn’t until September 15, which means we won’t start to experience the next full throttle level of its intensity until mid-August. But just because the tension is lessening, that doesn’t mean the lessons of this opposition are dissipating. This opposition is dissolving the status quo. We have no control over this disintegration and the falling apart of certain structures, personal and collective, cannot be stopped. All we can do is respond with consciousness and the determination to learn, so that we can grow new structures, better suited to our needs.

April 8, 2009
This week, even Gandhi could be cranky. We’re at the midpoint of a volatile planetary pattern that is at once pernicious as well as necessary. Pernicious, because it’s no longer possible to contain frustration, personal or collective, about the recession, and as that anger spills over into daily life, brutal confrontations, personal or collective, are probable. Necessary, because you can’t heal what you can’t feel, and as the anger and frustration release, it will be easier to identify the core emotions driving that personal and collective aggression. Pay attention to reactions, yours or others’, and do your best to avoid acting out.

The source of the volatility is twofold. First, we’re still in the release of the Mars/Saturn opposition, a tense interaction that tends toward a harsh heart. Be aware, as this opposition separates, it gets harder and harder to hold the line of patience. Second, as the steam releases from the Mars/Saturn pressure cooker, Mars moves into a conjunction with Uranus. There’s no good picture to paint about this interaction. Mars is the planet of physical energy. Uranus is the planet of the nervous system, and when they share the same space, Geiger counters rattle as erratic and often explosive outbursts disrupt and interfere with the routines of daily life. Before you jump in head first, take the pulse of your situation. Listen to the heartbeats of children and animals; they are often the best early warning system about a situation that is about to go out of control.

I’m sorry to offer up such a dreary forecast. I’m still staunchly on the side of positive progress and optimism, and I continue to view the shift we’re in as highly creative and transformational. But making the most of this opportunity for change means keeping it real about what the causal level of corruption is and how we all participate in it, consciously or unconsciously. The current brouhaha over bailout bonuses is just a symptom of a much larger issue. It’s easy to be outraged by the “fat cats,” especially when that outrage is fed by a voracious 24-hour news cycle comprised of bottom feeders, who wittingly or unwittingly antagonize a mob mentality. And while I don’t think the bailout bonuses are fair, I never felt the salaries were either, and I can’t help but wonder why nobody was outraged about those salaries ages ago. Did everyone think it was fair that one percent of the population was prospering while the rest were getting poor? Why are we against unions and not the drug cartels, legal and illegal, who run our lives? And why aren’t we as infuriated by child abuse, the sex trade industry, sweatshops, and every other actual violation of our humanity as we are by Madoff, AIG, or a war that continues to drain our coffers, not just of money, but also of life?

This week rather than acting out, ask questions that go the heart of your personal ire. Probe the deep, and you’ll expand your understanding about what needs to change in you. Which is where lasting change always begins.

April 1, 2009
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself channeling the ghost of Howard Beale this week. More than a few of us are already mad as hell, and as the week unfolds, last week’s restive wind turns fractious and agitates the already irritated air. Expect certain interactions to turn sour, especially if expectations about what those contacts should yield are unrealistic. Also anticipate disappointment to turn moods bitter and attitudes acrimonious. Part of the problem of facing our problems is that the illusions we’ve been clinging to are dissolving. As so often happens when illusions are destroyed, those of us identified with the façade have no idea how to handle reality. Even if you’re willing to admit what we are experiencing is the inevitable consequence of an ideological system gone bad, finding a new solution unsullied by the toxicity of the old one is going to take time. And because our culture is based on an  “I want it all and I want it now” state of mind, personal and collective frustration is likely to spill over. Pick your confrontations wisely and do your best to be considerate of your adversary. Remember, the greatest illusion of all is that we are separate.

The celestial source of irritation is a Mars/Saturn opposition that is exact and separating on April 4th. Mars is the principle of movement and likes to push forward. Saturn represents stillness and the need to carefully consider the consequences of action. Oppositions signify tension. Which means this opposition is sure to manifest as tests of strength over whose interests should be put first, yours or your opponents’. Be aware this opposition could also symbolize a test of will – the will of the people vs. the will of the government or the will of the individual vs. the will of the ruling class. It will be not easy to soothe this volatile interaction or to hold on to the idealistic idea of inclusion, because as Mars pulls away from Saturn, it’s only a matter of cosmic moments – next week, to be precise – that Mars moves into a conjunction with Uranus and the need to be absolutely free overrides cautious consideration.

Interestingly, while everyone is busy taking his or her stand, Jupiter draws closer to a conjunction with Neptune. Technically, this conjunction does not begin until next week (April 9) but because Jupiter is expansive and Neptune always has boundary issues, it’s likely this influence will kick in a little early. Which is good, because Jupiter is the planet of harmony, Neptune symbolizes empathy, and when they share the same degree of the astrological circle, we experience more than a fair degree of altruistic inclinations. Just be aware, Neptune is also the destroyer of illusions, which means as it combines with Jupiter, we will be challenged to discard lip service about compassion and move into a genuine concern for others that shows itself through action.

Use Jupiter/Neptune to be a peacemaker. Mediate, arbitrate, negotiate, and then do whatever you can to soothe and calm the agitated air of daily life.

March 25, 2009
Very little is quiet this week. Bodies, minds, hearts, and souls are stirred by restive astral winds that unsettle the already nervous air. We’re in the midst of several transitions. Obviously, the major shift is seasonal, and like most seasonal transitions, it’s unstable—warm one minute and cold the next. The rest of the shifts are just like the weather—all over the place, as moods and attitudes also vacillate between hot and cold. Expect interactions, internal or external, to be uneven, disconcerting, contradictory, and by the end of the week, more than a tad testy. Especially as resistance, yours or others, wells up to defend against the tides of transformation. Be aware, this resistance won’t be logical. While most of us say we want change, it’s true, not a lot of us are comfortable with the interim uncertainty between what was and what will be.

Mercury moves into Aries today, and as it does, it forms a conjunction with the Sun, and a square to Pluto. Mercury represents all intellectual activities, and when it is in Aries, it seeks adventure and turns minds eager to engage in quick-witted repartee. When Mercury is conjunct the Sun, objectivity takes a backseat to personal opinion. When that subjective conjunction squares Pluto, minds tend to dream big, especially about how to establish and solidify long-term personal goals. In other words, this entire configuration could easily serve a selfish urge to create a personal power base. So use this Sun/Mercury/Pluto bundle to ratchet up your personal planning power, but try not to assume that everyone will want to create your personal vision.

By Monday an edge invades attitudes as Mars, in Pisces, begins an opposition to Saturn, in Virgo. This opposition, exact and separating on April 4, lingers through April 11, which means we’re in for a couple of weeks of difficult dealings. Mars is the principle of movement – it wants to go where it wants and do what it wants when it wants. And Mars isn’t at all interested in discussing options, which is why it isn’t very happy in Pisces, a highly sensitive Sign, that’s interested in making empathetic choices based on mutual sympathy and kindness. Mars is a fiery, dynamic force that seldom considers the ramifications of its actions. But its frustration in Pisces is nothing compared to the misery of an opposition to Saturn. Saturn signifies limitation and discipline and its powerful presence inhibits the Martian freedom to move.

As Mars and Saturn oppose one another, we’re likely to assume a similar stance with any person, place, or thing trying to control our activities. Be aware, Mars/Saturn interactions have the potential to provide endurance, but they also manifest as tests of strength, and in some instances, sheer brute force. Don’t push so hard that your determination to succeed ultimately turns destructive to yourself or others.

As you make your way through the week try to keep in mind that all of us are under the same sky, all of us are under the same astral influences, and all of us could use a kind and considerate word.

March 18, 2009
Venus, currently retrograde, in Aries, has empowered me to speak boldly: I’m tired of all the bad news. I’m fed up with the media’s blaring 24/7 pronouncements about the recession. I’m particularly done with political bickering. And I’ve had it with pundits, preachers, and prognosticators – even astrological ones – who swear the economic Armageddon is at hand. I refuse to be bombarded any longer by a negative story line. Yes, the situation is bad. But what I want to know is what are we doing about it? When Aries (and we all have Aries somewhere in our personal chart) gets irritated and impatient it barks with frustration, which turns its natural candor brazenly blunt. I don’t know about you, but I’m done with the drama. I want a story that tells the truth without the toxicity of fear.

Venus is Retrograde in Aries until April 17, and except for a brief touchdown in Pisces mid-April, Venus spends most of her time in tempestuous, adventurous, and outspoken Sign of the warrior – not the worrier. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking a strong stand, made stronger by a direct declaration of your opinion, which of course, you will not only feel entitled to but will also feel is completely correct. Don’t expect agreement, and don’t expect disagreement to alter your point of view, which means there’s no need to send me an email offering a counter point of view. Aries clings quite adamantly to its perspective.

And here’s mine: The media keeps referring to this recession as if we’ve been in a halcyon period of milk and honey abundance for the last several decades. Hel-lo? Did I miss something? Most of us didn’t strike it rich in the high, fast, free, and easy financial world. Most of us have been in a constant struggle to survive, especially as the spending habits of a small minority jacked up prices on necessities, especially rent and food, not to mention oil and health care. Since Reaganomics, normal life (whatever that is) has become increasingly expensive, as our system, bloated on its own greed, continued to devolve. Those of us who weren’t in the small echelon of the rich, attempted to maintain a personal status quo through plastic, which on one side of the coin was a god send, but on the other, was a ring of hell Dante could never have imagined. But if you listen to the media, none of that struggle existed. From the infomercial point of view, we’ve gone from an Ozzie and Harriet to Road Warrior over night, and at any moment there will be riots in the street.

Yes, we are at a crucial period in our collective history, symbolized by the Saturn/Uranus opposition, and the coming Uranus/Pluto square. But I refuse to make the worst possible scenario my picture of reality. From an astrological or a purely terrestrial point of view, our current crisis is cyclical. We’ve been through this before. From a spiritual perspective, these are the times that grow the soul. And that’s a story worth telling.

March 11, 2009
This week, the air turns feverish with all sorts of fancies, which spark a variety of love affairs that ignite imaginations, yours or others, young or old. Not only are we on the threshold of spring, when bodies, minds, hearts, and souls start to surge with seasonal urges, but Venus, goddess of love and beauty, also dominates the astral action and stirs a desire for love – all kinds of love from the passionate to the Platonic to the pubescent. It’s actually a nice break from what has felt like a non-stop, there-isn’t-anything-else-to-talk-about financial migraine that’s been hanging on since the Saturn/Uranus opposition started in late September. And while this week isn’t a complete break from the madness – Venus is after all also the goddess of m-o-n-e-y – it is definitely a change of air. So breathe, deeply, and make the most of this phase by pampering and indulging your desires.

Venus is retrograde in Aries, the Sign of physical adventure, as well as the Sign of individuation. She began her seemingly backward journey on March 6 and won’t go direct until April 17. Aries is a Fire Sign that symbolizes action, ambition, competition, and impetuous behavior motivated by impulse and instinct rather than reason or logic. It is the Sign of spring when (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) the days get longer, the sun warmer, germination begins, and so does the strong need to get physical. Aries is best known as the explorer who needs to physically climb the mountain or sail the sea to discover new territory. Aries is not the Sign that will cultivate that new territory.

When Venus is in Aries, love at first sight is a probability. Understand, these infatuations aren’t necessarily destined to burn as embers – they can flare up and die down quite quickly. Aries likes romance and often loses interest, especially if a relationship gets bogged down by mechanics. As Venus retraces her steps during this retrograde, you may find yourself revisiting old affairs or old affairs may be visiting you. What’s more, because she is in Aries, some of those encounters could be Dangerous Liaisons. So pay attention and don’t get yourself embroiled in a situation you can’t escape.

Venus is also the goddess of creativity and her fire easily translates into a creative intensity that is sure to keep you concentrated and focused on projects already in motion or help you to give birth to new ideas and concepts.

Venus began her retrograde journey in a sextile to Jupiter, in Aquarius. We love this because positive Venus/Jupiter contacts foster grace and harmony, as well as the desire to be happy. And happiness is something we could really use right now. Use this warm-hearted interaction to be cheerful and kind to yourself, as well as your fellow travelers. You won’t be betraying anyone by allowing yourself or encouraging others to be happy. Remember, whatever we focus our attention on becomes our reality. And right now, an optimistic, positive outlook would be a welcome perspective.

March 4, 2009
This week, the planets signal upheaval, and as they do, nervous systems turn cranky. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself roaring like a lion. We’re in the midst of a disconcerting flux that’s sure to ruffle feathers as well as fur. Attitudes, yours or others, are likely to range from manic ambition to hypersensitivity to stubborn resistance to unbridled rebellion. What’s more, interruptions, big, small, significant and not so very important interfere with even the best-laid plans. The good news – and there is always good news – is that while the planets are weaving complex patterns that challenge the ability to stay steady, a strong creative streak also runs through the week, providing lots of opportunities to transform difficult situations through imagination.

The ongoing Saturn/Uranus opposition is still the major source of disruption. It’s been at the epicenter of recent challenges to the status quo, financial and otherwise. And although the range of direct influence is waning, this week, the Sun conjuncts Uranus and opposes Saturn, which re-stimulates this already over-stimulated combination. A Sun/Uranus conjunction symbolizes the need for personal freedom, which is why it is always tends to manifest as rebellion against whatever enslaves. When the Sun opposes Saturn there is a natural tendency toward pessimism, a perspective that could easily translate into escalated conspiracy theories about the economy. Call me crazy (and I know some of you will) but it seems pretty clear that capitalism ain’t working any better than communism, making it just as clear that we need a new system, one capable of addressing the complexities of what we are facing. The old system won’t work because it doesn’t meet our needs, which is why it’s getting harder and harder to raise it from the dead. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that we need no system. We need solutions that recognize and address individual needs as well as global needs.

A Mars/Mercury/Neptune conjunction exacerbates irritability and the tendency to overstate or exaggerate, often to the detriment of others. So don’t gossip or grouse your time away. If you don’t have something good to say, be quiet. Silence in these days of constant conversation could be a welcome and soothing experience.

Venus, goddess of love and beauty, gives birth to the powerful creative current of this week, and the next several weeks. Venus will be retrograde from March 6 through April 17. Except for a brief touchdown in Pisces, from April 11 tp 24, Venus spends most of her retrograde phase in Aries, a placement that ignites passionate love of every denomination, as well as a position that revels in romance, again, in a variety of venues. Be prepared to fall in love, but also be prepared for old flames to flare up.

Venus turns around in a sextile to Jupiter, a positive alliance that can be used to amplify the laws of attraction. Jupiter is the planet of great good fortune, and when it unites with Venus, we have opportunities to form beneficial alliances as well. Allow yourself to align with this already positive planetary partnership, and you’ll find it easier to maintain a generous, compassionate attitude.

February 25, 2009
A compassionate astral air continues to inspire altruism this week but finding a way to channel that idealism isn’t likely to be easy. It’s not easy staying positive amidst the constant blaring of bad news. But like the stars, I’m still holding fast to the idea that it’s possible for us all to make it through these waves. Don’t get me wrong. The current financial deterioration has caused and continues to cause real decompensation, personal and collective, as well as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. As a consequence, hearts can’t seem to unclench from the stress, and that tight grip translates into a no-spending-even-if-you-have-it attitude. Which only makes matters worse. Many of us — and not just people struggling to make ends meet — have slipped into a strange paralysis, afraid to make a move because no one knows what will happen next. But if we are going to transform the situation, we have to wake from the panic-trance. A negative mindset isn’t going to take the risks required to come up with inventive solutions that will make a difference.

A Jupiter/Mercury/Mars conjunction in Aquarius, the Sign of philanthropic pursuits, continues to power the potential for a true generosity of spirit. This week, Mars and Mercury will conjunct Neptune, forming an aggregation that could exacerbate the current paralysis, especially if you are just waiting for the answer to present itself rather searching high and low for the right remedy. You have to give the universe something to work with. After all, Earth is not a passive planet.

The stimulus package will help, but frankly, I keep thinking we also need to be making local stone soup. For those of you not familiar with the story, Stone Soup is about three tired and hungry soldiers on their way home from war who wander into a town looking for something to eat. The townspeople, afraid they won’t have enough for themselves or that the soldiers will eat all their food, lie to the soldiers and say they have to no food to share. So the soldiers decide to make stone soup. They put a kettle with water on a fire in the middle of town, and put stones in the kettle to cook. After a while, the soldiers talk about how the soup would be better with seasoning or possibly carrots, cabbage, or potatoes, and with each “if only we had…” the townspeople, now fully engaged by the magic, start contributing all the necessary ingredients to make a perfect soup. Et voilà – a feast is created for everyone, and all the scared townspeople realize that once you know how to make soup from stones, you never have to worry about being hungry.

In the current climate of scarcity the disparity between the haves and the have-nots grows increasingly clear. Some of us can barely scrape together a kettle and stones, while others have the necessary ingredients to prepare a wholesome meal. So if you can afford it, don’t hoard it. Practice local generosity, and allow the current of altruism to inspire good works. Real acts of kindness have the power to move all of us into positive action.

February 18, 2009
An altruistic air continues to drive astral activity this week, but the planetary theme song shifts away from the purely collective hymn of the “Age of Aquarius” to the slightly more personal mantra of “All You Need is Love.” It’s a subtle shift that’s likely to deepen a personal commitment to being of service and actively working for change. It could also encourage lesaffaires de coeur. So don’t be surprised if your impulses are driven by instinct rather than intellect. The good news is no matter where you focus your attention or spend your energy, positive, passionate enthusiasm is going to power your choices.

A concentration of planets in Aquarius continues to place the emphasis on how to make a positive contribution to community. The primary source of this motivation is a Mercury/Jupiter/Mars/North Node conjunction that sextiles Venus, in Aries. This entire bundle fuels musings on love and beauty, as well as creativity as an expression of the heart. From a collective perspective, this interaction manifests as many and varied artistic expressions of beauty, from poetry to cosmetics to music to lighthearted comedies delicately aimed at self-awareness. From a more personal perspective, it’s still all about artistic expression, but it’s also a strong sexual appetite and a desire for sensual pleasure.

There is also a Chiron/Neptune conjunction in Aquarius. This configuration is a little more difficult to delineate, in part because Neptune is always slippery and therefore hard to grasp, but also because Chiron, whose nickname is the Wounded Healer, is a heavenly body that leans heavily toward the esoteric, not that Neptune isn’t just as mysterious. Neptune represents imagination, receptivity, sympathy, and empathy. Chiron, symbolized by the Centaur, represents the split between animal appetites and spiritual aspirations. As these two travel together in Aquarius, we are likely to experience strong longings to make a difference in the world, while we simultaneously struggle with how to live the truth of that idealism. It’s never been easy to actualize the notion that the needs of the one are the needs of the many. Perhaps what this conjunction signifies is the critical mass that’s needed to shift the existing paradigm, which seems to value individual success more than the well being and health of the collective.

The Saturn/Uranus opposition also continues to emphasize change. Saturn is in Virgo, the Sign of Ecology, and Uranus is in Pisces, the Sign of consciousness. We’re only a few days away from the second exact conjunction in the current series of five. The next one occurs on September 15, 2009. During the last series (1965-1967) the positions of Saturn and Uranus were reversed. Saturn was in Pisces and Uranus was in Virgo. That period in history was driven by social consciousness that culminated in a wide range of cultural revolutions. What we forget about that time is that it had to be lived.

The current period in history – the one we are living – is also driven by social consciousness, and it, too, will culminate in a wide-range of cultural revolutions. But that result is hard to envision when you’re struggling through the uncertainty of the moment. The future is never as clear as the past because it’s busy being created by our response to the present.

February 11, 2009
Concentration is the name of the planetary game this week. By Saturday, Valentine’s Day, five planets – Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, the Sun, and Neptune – are lined up in the Sign of Aquarius, suggesting a celestial strength that’s sure to manifest as the deliberate desire to focus on a particular plan or project. Be prepared to chew on your favorite subject like a dog chews on a bone. Also expect many of those compulsive efforts to yield positive results. Most importantly, the majority of those purposeful missions are likely to be funded by altruism aimed at community service, which means good works can be derived from good intentions. While every day is a good day to make a difference in the world, right now is an especially good time to be an agent of change.

The star of the week, and the source of probable positive results, is a Mars/Jupiter conjunction. Jupiter symbolizes the urge for expansive, harmonious aspirations. Mars represents physical power, and when they share the same space (they are conjunct until the end of the month) they enhance our power to concentrate on specific ambitions. And since concentration is already the signature of the week, this conjunction amplifies the already existing potential to direct time as well as energy toward specific goals. Be ambitious, be bold, think big, and be determined to overcome obstacles.

The only obvious obstruction to this week’s focused mindset is a Sun/Neptune conjunction, also in Aquarius. The combination of the Sun and Neptune inclines toward the mystical, and as part of that spiritual bent, tends to dial up increased sensitivity. Be prepared for you or those around you to be more than a little susceptible to suggestion. If you’re feeling good about your prospects, protect that attitude by turning off your TV or radio off. You don’t need fear-mongers bringing you down or corrupting your sensibilities.

Last week’s column ended with the suggestion that readers allow love to steer the stars, a bit of advice that provoked someone to write in and ask how that was possible: Are we guiding the stars or are the stars guiding us? I love this question, because it goes to the heart of our relationship with the sky. Most of us tend to think that the planets make things happen, and certainly the language used to describe planetary activity is causal.  But to define astrology as only causal is to deny our role as co-creators of reality. What if the universe does rearrange itself to accommodate our picture of reality? Or, as it says in the Emerald Tablet: “That which is above is from that which is below, and that which is below is from that which is above, working the miracles of one.”

If we are co-creators (and I’m puttin’ my money on the idea that we are), then astrology would represent a symbiosis between heaven and earth, a mysterious relationship, to be sure, but also a powerful one, that would never allow us to give our power away to the stars.

February 4, 2009
This week, and the next several weeks, the planets promote a joyful desire to be of service. I won’t go so far out on a prediction limb to declare this the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but Jupiter does align with Mars — and several other planets — in the altruistic Sign of Aquarius. Since any time is a good time for the mind’s true liberation, this celestial concentration is certain to inspire endless choruses of the “Let the Sunshine In.” Anticipate a much-needed, mid-winter change of astral air that attunes internal and external soundtracks to a hopeful, positive spirit capable of responding to life’s vicissitudes with harmony and understanding.

On February 4, Mars joins Jupiter, the Sun, and Neptune in Aquarius (Chiron and the North Node are there, too), the Sign best known for its egalitarian approach to life, as well as the Sign symbolizing humanitarian concerns, social justice, and philanthropy. But the riddle for those born under Aquarius is how to balance those idealistic leanings with the very human desire to be special. Keep in mind, we all have Aquarius somewhere in our birth chart, which means most of us wrestle with the need to be unique somewhere in our individual lives. And that might just be what impels Aquarius toward invention and innovation. It may also be what inspires its reputation for being zany, wacky, and more than a little eccentric. Of course, not every Aquarius marches to the beat of a different drum or lives an I-gotta-be-me-I-gotta-be-free iconoclastic life. But almost all are adamant about everyone’s right to personal freedom and happiness. And as the planets concentrate in Aquarius, most of us are likely support that conviction.

On February 5, the second opposition between Saturn and Uranus is exact and separating. This configuration signifies the dissolution of the status quo. The first opposition was on November 4, 2008, and certainly that day dissolved a long-standing Western cultural paradigm, as it simultaneously celebrated a new model. Saturn represents social structures — government, corporations, and the like. Uranus always catalyzes what’s stagnant — even if a dormant state is comfortable. Oppositions denote the tension inherent in the push as well as the pull of polarization. Be aware, there are three more oppositions: September 15, 2009, April 26, 2010, and July 26, 2010.

From a transformational perspective, a deep creative river runs through the current series of Saturn/Uranus oppositions. Its current is mighty, and that translates into the potential to seek inspired solutions to the disintegration of structures that no longer serve. We have opportunities, personal and collective, to reach past normal, standard responses. Social Band-Aids based on expediency won’t work. And there’s nothing left for hedge funds to hedge their bets on. Our societal and cultural structures require new vision if we are to remedy our deep personal and collective dilemma.

Over the course of this week and the next several weeks, allow yourself to be moved beyond the contraction of uncertainty and anxiety into the fresh air of invention and imagination. And when possible, allow love to steer your stars.

January 28, 2009
This week, three planetary patterns converge in an inharmonious alliance, and while any one of these configurations could be disconcerting, the combination of all three is sure to make daily life more than a little confusing. Expect to be discombobulated especially when it comes to “time,” so don’t be surprised if you’re early one moment and late the next. We’re between eclipses, celestial events that always create a time warp. We’re also at the end of a retrograde, shifting from slo-mo rewind to fast forward. And we’re in the countdown to the second exact Saturn/Uranus opposition, when history tends to repeat itself. Anticipate reactions to this week’s time wrinkles to cover a wide range of emotions. One moment, attitudes are broad and expansive, but a moment later, they are nervous and thin. And all the while (and here’s where it gets really slippery) subtle undercurrents exert powerful pressures that are sensed more than seen and felt more than … well, I’m not sure what because the whole point is you can’t quite put your finger on it.

There was a Solar Eclipse on January 26 and there will be a Lunar Eclipse on February 9. Eclipses send shadows across the sky, altering the “normal” patterns of day and night, so don’t worry if you can’t quite get your bearings. Also don’t be dismayed if your enthusiasm drops down a notch or two from uberidealism to nuts and bolts pragmatism. Lunar eclipses always turn consciousness toward practical concerns, and that grounded-ness will be needed in the days to come as we get to work attempting to solve problems, personal as well as collective.

The first Mercury Retrograde phase of the year ends on February 1, but don’t expect communication efforts or travel plans to return to normal until Tuesday, at the earliest.

On February 5, the second Saturn/Uranus opposition will be exact and separating. All week long, as tension generated by this opposition mounts, we are likely to experience the same sort of fluctuations in the financial markets as we did during September/October 2008. What’s more, the presence of the Moon, which squares both Saturn and Uranus during this second contact, exacerbates emotional stress, and that could translate into strong reactions fueled by the intensity of the moment. Do your best to be your best during these extreme moments. Remember, this opposition is about the dissolution of the status quo; it symbolizes a process that rattles stagnant structures and systems that no longer serve the collective good and will continue to do so until we find transformative solutions.

Fortunately, all week long a Mercury/Saturn trine turns minds logical, thorough, and direct, as it simultaneously provides opportunities for insight and understanding. So rather than worry, think, deeply, about how you can make a difference in the world. Collective strength is only as potent as the power of individuals to digest and metabolize awareness into action.

January 21, 2009
It’s the day after President Obama’s inauguration and here we are: Hopeful, but still reeling with anxiety about the future. A new positive, thoughtful world leader is promising to lead us through the dire darkness of our personal and collective situations to safety. But some of us can’t quite help but feel as if we are in an extended episode of Lost, where back-story and future-story are merged in a powerful miasma of uncertainty. On Lost, they’re trying to find the island. On Earth, we’re trying to find the bottom. It’s a curious cultural conundrum: We want to be saved from ourselves—from our fear, our financial dysfunction and our personal and collective lack of positive vision for the future. But we’re operating (at least most of us are) from the assumption of a guaranteed entitlement to certainty, as if life once was and is always supposed to be predictable, reliable, and good. Not that I want to paint a purely negative picture. I’m actually a lot less gloomy about what lies ahead than many of my fellow astrologers. I just think that clinging to a rigid picture of what reality should be doesn’t leave a lot of room for addressing and transforming what is.

This week, personal and collective ruminations are guided by several equally intense astral patterns. (1) We’re still in the first Mercury Retrograde phase of 2009; it lasts until February 1st. When Mercury retraces its path, we get a chance not only to comb through the details of whatever is already in motion, and but also to reconsider and perhaps readjust our attitudes and approaches. This particular retrograde also permits a recalibration of expectations, personal and collective (2) There’s a solar eclipse on January 26th, an event that tends to warp time, so don’t be surprised if you’re feeling out of sync, either minutes ahead or hours behind. During a solar eclipse, the Moon overshadows the Sun, an event that symbolizes unconscious desires dominating conscious ones. Often information previously hidden by the bright light of day is suddenly revealed, so be prepared for several surprises.

But that’s not all. (3) On February 5th, the second opposition between Saturn and Uranus will be exact and separating. This is a similar signature to the first exact opposition on Election Day, and it is likely to translate into more manic market fluctuations. Please do not confuse the Dow with the Tao. Financial markets are never a measure of ultimate worth. And as Lao-tzu advises in Tao Te Ching, “Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.”

Oppositions signify tension and tension pulls as well as pushes. So as the intensity of daily life increases, take the time to notice what draws you in and what repels. If you do, you’ll find a way into understanding how this opposition is affecting you. Also try to keep in mind, while these are tough times, they are also potent times, bristling with creativity and opportunities for transformation.

January 14, 2009
It’s Mercury Retrograde – and I’m glad. (Words I never thought I would write, but words that are true.) Glad because I feel as if I have complete permission to recuperate, not just from the opening days of the New Year, but more importantly, from the last two months of the old one. A lot has shifted since Mercury last enforced a review, and while the end of the year is usually the time for quiet reflection, for many of us too much was happening too quickly to simply sit during the Solstice season and do some very necessary thinking. Brooding, maybe, especially as the economic picture turned gloomier than even Dickens could have imagined. So I’m glad to have a Retrograde that will allow me to process through what still remains to be understood, digested, and metabolized into consciousness. And during this particular Retrograde, the possibilities for understanding and refining on the basis of that understanding are great.

For those of you new to astrology, Mercury signifies communication and travel. Three times a year, it appears as if it is moving backward across the sky. And when that occurs, it seems that all things related to communication and travel seem to go awry. Which causes such a great gnashing of teeth, I’m sure they can hear the collective frustration on Mars. But despite the delays and hassles generally blamed on Mercury Retrograde, this phase does have a beneficial side: The pace of life slows down, which seems to provide the time to review, reflect, and reconsider what is already set in motion. Which is why I’m so glad it’s here and that I have nearly three weeks – it lasts until February 1 – to hear myself think.

And here’s what I’m thinking about this week, as Mars, the Planet of the Warrior, moves into a trine with Saturn, the Planet of Authority, as well as a sextile with Uranus, the Planet of Change, all of which coalesces into a strident “might for right” unless its force is channeled into non-violent efforts: November’s election ended an eight-year “reign of the bullies,” whose “bring it on” mentality just wanted a fight, and whose belligerence gave permission to all despots, powerful or petty, to exacerbate rather than soothe existing polarization. Now that we have a “convenor” in the White House, perhaps we can start to listen to disparate points of view and find creative, peaceful ways to settle our differences. The problem is settling down the bullies won’t be easy, for what we know about bullies is that they are often more afraid than the rest of us. And given the current climate of anxiety, extra effort is needed to calm all of us down, not just those who are most afraid. A positive interaction between Mars, Saturn, and Uranus can supply an indefatigable effort to work for peace, especially if we are willing to slow down and practice patience with others and ourselves.

So rather than despair about the normal retrograde snafus, welcome Mercury’s review and use it to think deeply about issues that concern you, both personal and collective.

January 7, 2009
It’s the second week of the New Year, but many of us are still reeling from the extremes of the holidays. Whether it was the weather, the economy, the Middle East, or emotional eruptions that challenged the volcanic power of Kilauea the intensity of has seemed unrelenting. Fortunately, from an astrological perspective, there’s a break in the onslaught of violence, as this week, the planets arrange themselves in a quieter, and somewhat gentler picture of reality. The good news is that as daily life takes on a slightly less frenetic pace there will be ample opportunity to reflect on what was revealed.

The source of this change of pace (as many of you may have already guessed) is the first Mercury Retrograde phase of 2009. From January 11th through February 1st, Mercury seemingly retraces its path and all things related to its vast realm seem to move in reverse as well. From cell phones to Bluetooth networks to junk mail, communication devices of every kind are vulnerable to frustrating and often unexplainable glitches. Also, negotiations, contracts, court papers, and other written documents suffer from innumerable changes and revisions. And as if all that isn’t enough, travel and traffic detours and delays are probable.

When the mechanics of the world go awry, the best thing to do is to settle in, get comfortable, and take a closer look at the details of what’s already in motion.

The best news of the week and of the retrograde is that as Mercury retraces its path, it maintains a close relationship with Jupiter (at least for most of its retrograde phase) and that combination supplies a steady stream of ideas as well as the ability to express opinions and insights eloquently. (Looking ahead, the inaugural speech should be exceptional.) A Mercury/Jupiter conjunction also signifies good old fashion common sense that can be applied liberally to almost any and every situation.

Jupiter just entered Aquarius on January 5th, where it will stay until January 2010. I always like to say Jupiter symbolizes great good fortune, and while that is true, Jupiter is also a symbol a big, fat, happy planet with a broadband frequency that ranges from philosophy to religion to harmony to humor to the quest for existential truth. Aquarius is the Sign of an egalitarian perspective that is simultaneously concerned with social justice, humanitarianism, and a desire to live in the big picture, as that picture relates to communities, local and global. Jupiter’s transit through Aquarius will be a powerful anchor for keeping our priorities clear about the necessity to help each other through the next waves of personal and planetary shifts.

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