Aquarium Age by Ralfee Finn
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Weekly Frequency 2012

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 26, 2012

It’s hard to know what to say at the end of this extraordinarily long year that seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye; a year that started with a painstaking, frustrating, and in certain instances, excruciating Mars Retrograde and ended with a painful, disturbing, and devastating Uranus Direct. All year long emotional bodies have run the gamut between anxiety and ecstasy, wild expectation and dashing disappointment, and now, finally at the finish line, far too many of us are suffering from physical as well as psychic exhaustion. Of course, we can always blame our travails on the stars: 2012 saw the first of seven Uranus/Pluto squares that will extend to March 2015. While those of us interested in astrological cycles understood going into 2012 that Uranus/Pluto contacts are infamous signatures for social change, no one could have predicted the particulars of the turmoil and tumult of the year, nor the depth of resistance to change that seems to ride the surface of our collective skin. And we are still only at the beginning of this crisis of change.

But it wouldn’t be accurate to say that upset and upheaval started this year; if you assess what’s taking place from an evolutionary or cyclical perspective, the process we’re currently experiencing started much earlier. Without going too far back in history, we could start with Pluto’s move into Capricorn in 2008. Pluto signifies change at the molecular core. Capricorn symbolizes authority, whether that’s personal power, or the power of governments, institutions, or corporations. Certainly, we’re in the midst of foundational shifts in all those areas – this doesn’t mean we’re all in agreement; we’re simply growing increasingly conscious of and uncomfortable with structures that no longer serve.

Pluto’s entry into Capricorn isn’t the only contributor to our current crisis. From the fall of 2008 until the fall of 2010, Saturn, the planetary ruler of Capricorn, opposed Uranus, the planetary ruler of Aquarius, and a planet I like to think of as the Che Guevara of the astrological system. Saturn/Uranus combinations signal the dissolution of the status quo, and they are often found in the charts of stock market upsets and the ensuing financial upheaval.  

But that’s not all. When Uranus completed its entry into Aries on March 11, 2011, the earth actually moved, and the earthquake in Japan so profoundly symbolized what was to come – at least to those of us paying attention – that it felt too big to digest, let alone metabolize and assimilate into our nervous systems and consciousness, personal or collective.

And yet, that is exactly what’s most needed for the next phase in our current crisis of change; for it’s no longer a matter of how much the “earth” has to move to accommodate personal and planetary healing. What we need now is conscious concentration on how to shift the systems we already recognize as toxic to our personal and collective well being. It’s not just the physical violence that needs mediation; it’s also the psychic, emotional, and spiritual violence we participate in everyday – violence to ourselves and to each other – that continues to poison our world. My wish for the coming year is that kindness will infiltrate our wounds and compassion will penetrate our hearts, turning revolution into evolution.

December 19, 2012

Welcome to the week of cosmophobia, a brief period of time when a doomsday disorder has the power to infect minds and hearts, sweep reason away, and convince multitudes of people that the world is coming to an end. For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, the Mayan Long Count calendar ends on Friday, and according to popular legend, so does the world. Anxiety about this event was so severe that NASA coined the phrase “cosmophobia” in 2010, defining it as an “irrational fear of the cosmos,” especially the belief that a catastrophic event will occur on December 21, 2012. Apparently, the trailers for the movie 2012, released in 2010, created wide spread panic, causing NASA to respond with a special website to quell fears– too bad the movie wasn’t as good as its hype. (You can visit NASA's website and read that response to the panic at http://lunarscience.nasa.gov/articles/cosmophobia/.) Until sometime Saturday, many of us will be expecting the worst. Unfortunately, even if you don’t suffer from cosmophobia, the psychic atmosphere will be intensified by those that do. And because many of us are reeling from the violent aftershocks of recent weeks, doomsday despair could have a pernicious effect. Protect yourself by getting grounded and centered in the here and now by doing whatever it is you do to maintain a healthy perspective.

Assuming that life goes on … the true seasonal New Year occurs on the winter solstice, Friday, at 6:11 AM EST. The dominant theme of that astrological moment is a trine between Mercury, in Sagittarius, and the Moon, in Aries – an optimistic signature that bodes well for the coming year. Mercury symbolizes intellectual processes and pursuits. The Moon represents feelings. Sagittarius is the Sign where we search for the broadest possible frame of reference; it’s home to all spiritual, religious, and philosophic traditions, as well as global interactions of every variety, from the physical to the psychological. Aries is the Sign of the individuation; it’s the principle that allows us to know ourselves as separate and distinct from others. Both Aries and Sagittarius are Fire Signs, which means they are passionate, inspiring, enthusiastic, and warm. The alliance between Mercury and the Moon at the solstice point, indicates the potential for thoughtful, heartfelt communication, as well as the capacity for sympathetic dialogue, as well as an authentic exchange of ideas – something we need right now, and something we will continue to need in the coming year.  

Personal interactions could turn family gatherings a little squirrelly on Christmas Day, as a Sun/Pluto conjunction amps up the need to vie for power, and a Sun/Uranus square simultaneously intensifies the need to push against the status quo. As the day unfolds, the Moon, in Gemini, the Sign of conversation, conjuncts Jupiter, the planet of expansion, and both sextile Uranus. This entire bundle fosters a lively atmosphere with differences of opinions and perspectives on a wide range of topics. It won’t be easy abstaining from the ideological fracas. And while discussion is necessary, do your best to remember the deeper meaning of the day by practicing good will toward all sentient beings, even and especially those you might disagree with.

December 12, 2012

Uranus continues to disrupt the routines of daily life, and as it catalyzes major and minor quakes – physical, psychological, and spiritual – the solid ground of normal obligations – working, parenting, commuting – easily morph into Herculean labors. And none of that heavy lifting includes the demands of seasonal/holiday preparations. It’s hard to imagine that life could get even more intense; yet for some of us, the days and nights of the last ten days have been overwhelming with interruptions and interference, some welcome and some not, and some so bizarre and shocking, that long after the actual news or event, emotional bodies are still reverberating with aftershocks. What’s more, sleep – that thing you need the most to cope with shift – also continues to be disrupted – deep sleep, sleep without interruption, sleep that allows the psyche to digest and dream, seems just out of reach for far too many, and getting the requisite rest, next to impossible. As a reader emailed last week: “Oy.” I wrote back: “Say ‘hello’ to Uranus Direct – and it hasn’t even shifted!”

Uranus actually goes direct, in Aries, on Thursday, December 13, early in the morning, approximately 7 AM Eastern Time. Some of us have felt the build up of this “course correction” as problems with temperamental communication and technology systems. So much so that more than a few have wondered if Mercury Retrograde is still going on. No, it isn’t -- but the Uranian connection to technology can resemble Mercury Retrograde, especially as computer screens suddenly go dark only to light up again without any assistance or as email disappears and then reappears, also within the blink of an eye. Like Uranus, Mercury also shares a close relationship to nervous systems – another reason people could confuse the influence of these two planets.

Uranus goes direct in a trine to Mercury, which translates into quick wit, as well as the ability to find simple solutions to complex situations. But the overall Uranus effect is far more intense than its interactions with Mercury. Uranus symbolizes the freedom fighter, the revolutionary, the urge to break free from whatever enslaves. For some, what enslaves can be seen through a psychological or spiritual framework. But for others, slavery is real, especially for women and children around the world, and because the reality of global slave trade can seem too big to tackle, those of us who want to make a difference often find it hard to maintain the confidence that change is possible; instead of trying to actively make a difference we tend to dissipate our desire to help in passivity. But not when Uranus makes its presence felt. The Uranian call to action can catalyze even the most complacent among us out of apathy. From a personal perspective that call often translates into many declarations of independence, as you or those around you, struggle to break free from stagnant systems that no longer encourage and support consciousness and growth.

One of the rules of revolution is to start where you are. Change doesn’t begin as a sweeping movement. It’s a “one step at a time” process that occurs one heart at a time. And when enough hearts combine, the need for transformation becomes self-evident.

December 5, 2012

For the next several weeks, erratic astral rhythms pulse through the routines of daily life, turning moods and attitudes, yours or others’, more than a just little wacky. Expect to be up one minute, down the next, and then up again in the blink of an eye, as minds and hearts swing from zealous enthusiasm about the future to utter despair over the past to complete confusion and consternation in the present (and all those feelings occurring at such a rapid pace you’ll think they’re happening simultaneously). Whether it’s mental or emotional anxiety, material or spiritual stress, personal or political frustration, unpredictable events trigger the default settings of habitual reactions, a condition that could result in a deep existential crisis. This may sound overly dramatic, but as the astral flux coalesces with the normal holiday turbulence of emotional expectation and ensuing disappointment many of us are likely to have trouble finding the even keel of thoughtful and kind responses. It’s hard staying steady in the midst of such powerful pulsations.

Uranus is the source of the intensity. Retrograde since July 13, Uranus goes direct on December 13, and for the next several weeks, as it “slows down,” “turns around,” and gathers “forward” momentum, many of us are likely to experience sudden reversals of fortune, negative and/or positive. Uranus is best understood as an agent of change, but its agitating presence doesn’t catalyze shift just for the sake of it. Uranus stirs stagnation; old habits, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, habits that keep us mired in patterns that no longer serve, are what Uranus shakes when it shifts. And because Uranus lacks a gentle touch, its presence is often experienced as abrupt endings and impulsive beginnings.

From a personal perspective, Uranus Direct could mean the end of a job, love affair, marriage, or friendship that no longer has enough glue to hold it together. And because Uranus thrives on innovation, its forward movement could manifest as a new job, love affair, or friendship. Just be aware, affairs of any sort that ignite under a Uranus signature can die out as quickly as they began. From a political perspective, Uranus signifies the freedom fighter, which means we can expect even more upheaval in all those areas of the world already ravaged by the need to break free from oppression.

As the coming weeks unfold, those of us less inclined toward spontaneity, are going to need patience – and lots of it. These Uranian waves are sure to interfere with a variety of plans, from revels to rituals to retreats. And while impromptu parties and parings have a thrill all their own, those who rely on schedules might have a hard time making the necessary adjustments. Remember to be kind to your fellow travelers. The Uranian need for individualism may be at an all time high, but we are, actually, all in this together.

November 28, 2012

We’re in the final stretch of a very long year, and even though the endless attention to detail attributed to Mercury Retrograde ends today, the next four weeks (really thirty-three days) will continue to unfold like a history lesson, as many of us ponder how we want to enter 2013. (Apologies to those who think the world ends on December 21.) Keep in mind, much of 2012 was devoted to review: The year started with Mars Retrograde, overlapped with Mercury Retrograde, followed by Venus Retrograde, which butted up against another Mercury Retrograde. (It’s no wonder that many of us felt as if forward motion was thwarted at every turn.)  Also consider this: In the midst of that unrelenting review, we experienced the first two of seven exact Uranus/Pluto squares, fractious interactions that tightened the tension in all the areas of life and in all the places in the world already too tense. Then there was Sandy, whose effect on those of us who live in her path – from the Northern Caribbean to Northern New York – continues to surge through the routines of daily life. All of which was followed by a nail-biting, wheel turning Presidential Election in the United States (which everyone realized would have global consequences) that simply exhausted what was left of already fried nervous systems. So if you’re wondering why you’re tired (and no matter how much sleep you get you’re still exhausted) realize that so much of what’s happened still needs to be digested and metabolized. And that’s just daily life on this side of the planet -- the column isn’t long enough to list the particulars of global turmoil occurring everywhere all at once.

Unfortunately, astral activity only ups the intensity ante this week. Today and tomorrow, the Mars/Pluto conjunction that’s been turning tempers testy for the last week, continues to encourage an often brutal approach difficult situations. What’s interesting about this current conjunction (other than its dyspeptic nature) is that is occurs at the same degree – 8 Capricorn – as the first Uranus/Pluto square on June 24. Be prepared for themes and issues that got set in motion then to repeat themselves this week and next – if they haven’t already taken over the conversation. The best use of this repetitive pattern is the opportunity to respond consciously to the same situation from a new, and hopefully wiser perspective.

Of course, there’s more. Also on November 28, a lunar eclipse (at six degrees of Gemini/Sagittarius) places the emphasis on practical matters (as lunar eclipses often do). This could persuade some among us to suppress important feelings. Knowing the difference between what to express and when requires skill. But here’s another interesting correlation: Even if you manage to withhold heartfelt emotions now, they are sure to surface on (or around) January 30, 2013, when Jupiter goes direct at the sensitive degree of this eclipse – six degrees, Gemini.

But holding back won’t be easy. Not only are we in the throes of the Mars/Pluto release, but we’re also on a steady approach to Uranus Direct, which occurs on December 13. As the tension of that “course correction” mounts, moods are likely to swing every which away. As always, the best way through this madness is to play nice with others.

November 21, 2012

The planets align in pernicious patterns this week, and as these difficult combinations coalesce with the “normal” frustration of Mercury Retrograde, patience, care, and consideration for yourself or others won’t be easy to access, let alone actualize. Expect aggressive attitudes from just about everyone – many of us will be struggling with the urge to use sheer brute force as a way of insuring a specific agenda. Also anticipate dramatic mood swings as many more struggle to break free from persistent emotional patterns that only seem to inhibit rather than enhance happiness. Part of the problem stems from the disparity between the ideal, which is all too easy to imagine, and the seemingly endless effort it takes to turn those visions into reality. Transformation always requires tremendous determination. It also requires humility, especially this week, when astral forces feed the tendency to bully or to be bullied. If possible, resist the temptation to devolve into a rant or a tantrum. Adding to the drama won’t serve any greater purpose – and it will probably only make matters worse.

Mars, Uranus, Pluto, and the Moon are the source of the strife. Mars, in Capricorn, conjuncts Pluto, as both Mars and Pluto simultaneously square Uranus. This is volatile alignment. Mars symbolizes the warrior. Pluto represents irresistible compulsions. And when they share the same space, Pluto tends to amplify Mars’ pugnacious temperament, a condition that translates into the urge to push certain situations regardless of the short or long-term consequences. Also be wary of rationalizing brutality as a necessary evil. The positive potential of this conjunction is the ability to demonstrate great determination through unrelenting effort. Unfortunately, that constructive application is likely to be out of reach, given the square to Uranus.

Uranus always accelerates change, and its presence and pressure through the friction of a square destabilizes the persistence of the Mars/Pluto conjunction. That destabilization has the power to turn the combined influence of all three planets toward violence. Bloodshed and loss of life in all those areas of the world that are erupting with aggression are sure to escalate. Personal grievances, petty or significant, are also likely to worsen. Avoid instigating a fight just to blow off steam. Children are especially vulnerable under this influence.  As are patiently enduring pets, so please don’t kick the dog because you can.

But that’s not all. The Moon moves into Aries on November 22, forming a conjunction to Uranus, and a square to the Mars/Pluto conjunction. As the Moon amplifies this already too intense astral bundle, lots of us will feel pushed to the brink. Be prepared for declarations of emotional independence, some of which might be bitter with disappointment, and others that might be too poignant with need and longing. Also expect that some of what’s said and done could have a cruel or brutal edge. Do your best to be compassionate. Soothing words will work wonders not just for the person you may be trying to calm down, but also for you, as a way of stepping away from an out of control emotional vehicle.

Sometimes the unseen forces that underscore day-to-day reality are daunting in their intensity, and meeting them with aggression often only worsens the situation. Although humility may feel like weakness in the midst of maddening hostility, humility in the face of what cannot be controlled has tremendous creative power. Let it be the wise choice.

November 14, 2012

This is my astrological true confession: I love Mercury Retrograde. I know my adoration goes against the tide of all the things that go wrong during a retrograde phase – I’ve heard the war stories and experienced the problems. But I don’t care. I love the attention that a retrograde requires, the awareness, the precision, and, of course, the opportunity to blame all communication and travel problems on the stars. (I was thrilled not to pin Election Day snafus on Mercury, because that would have sullied my secret love.) Yes…a Mercury retrospective requires patience, but it also provides plenty of opportunities to take a deep breath as you reassess what’s been put in motion

Mercury Retrograde, for those of you new to astrology, occurs three times a year (although for some it seems to last forever), when relative to Earth’s orbit around the Sun, Mercury appears to be moving backwards. And because Mercury represents intellectual processes of every dimension, as well as travel and commerce, when Mercury moves behind instead of ahead, all things related to its vast domain seem to do the same. Negotiations get stalled, papers get lost, text messages go to the wrong person, and email disappears as easily and frequently as socks vanish in the dryer. But that's not all. Travel arrangements go awry, especially trips and plans made during the retrograde. The hard and fast rule is that Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to initiate new projects. It is – and this is the reason I love it – a great time to review, reflect and reconsider – it’s a great time to think about the details, to dot the “i’s” of life and to cross the “t’s.” That attention to detail could take the form of reviewing a schedule, taking stock of mechanical supplies, or cleaning the cupboard. Despite its recent urban reputation as the Uber Snafuer, Mercury Retrograde is not the devil.

The current Mercury Retrograde began on November 6 and continues until November 26. Mercury began its current review in a trine to Uranus, a positive combination that fosters innovation. It also simultaneously formed a square to Neptune, in Pisces, an interaction that could manifest as anxious sensitivity or the tendency to lie and deny rather than tell the truth. This week, the Mercury/Uranus trine is no longer in effect. But the Mercury/Neptune square continues. Try to notice where you think the truth won’t suffice.


By the end of the week, Mars begins to move into a conjunction with Pluto, as well as a square to Uranus, a volatile configuration that is certain to exacerbate normal retrograde frustration. Expect tempers to turn testy, yours and others.’ Mars symbolizes the ability to take a stand, which in certain situations is necessary and appropriate. The problem is that when the archetype of the warrior combines with the power of Pluto, the tendency to use force as a first resort can overwhelm common sense, especially when Uranus, the revolutionary, nudges the action toward rebellion.

As the week unfolds, rather than pushing against the river, practice patience, and accept the retrograde pace. It’s been an extraordinarily intense year, and Mercury’s invitation to reflect, review, and reconsider could help to put life in perspective. And as always, remember to be kind.

 

November 7, 2012

As many of you know, I live in New York City, where the devastation of Sandy has tilted the axis of everyday life. Nothing is the same, and nothing will ever be the same for millions of us. While the waves of the actual storm may have receded, the reality of Sandy’s wounding persists: Waves of grief, despair, and dislocation will continue to pound the shores of our communal psyche and breach the barriers of individual hearts for quite some time. There is no overestimating the kindness and care it will take to soothe so many souls from the shock of this storm.

As many of you also know, I write this column at least a week before its publication, which means until this morning, I had no idea who won the election. What I do know is that Mercury Retrograde began at 6:03 PM EST, on November 6. It was stationary for the first part of the day, a stagnant position for the normally fleet-footed, quicksilver messenger, and retrograde for the remainder of the day, a position that’s sure to have caused its own kind of communication storm because Mercury Retrograde is always about snafus, delays, and detours. So it was quite a surprise as well as a great relief to see the results. I would much rather sing the normal retrograde blues than an endlessly repeating election lament with the retrograde potential to last well into December. But the clarity of President’s Obama’s Electoral College win doesn’t have the power to neutralize political polarization, and the consequences of the election rhetoric and what it highlighted about the current condition of American politics will linger well past this Mercury Retrograde phase. Like the waves of Sandy – and the nor’easter about to hit our shores today – huge waves of disappointment, resentment, and animosity will continue to pound the circuits of our already too-stressed nervous systems for quite some time. Again, there is no overestimating the kindness and care it will take to soothe our national psyche and close the great divide of our political extremes.

Mercury starts its final retrograde phase of the year in a trine to Uranus and a square to Neptune. A Mercury/Uranus trine indicates a deep desire for free thinking, which tends to manifest as innovative and inventive problem solving – something we could use a lot of right now. Anticipate lots of challenges to normal procedures, but also expect an equal amount of frustration when new solutions don’t provide a quick fix. The Mercury/Neptune square is slightly more complex. Both Mercury and Neptune are infamous as symbols for the Trickster, often present in situations involving deception and deceit. Pay attention: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The good news is that Saturn continues to trine Neptune, a positive interaction that can sustain self-restraint, prudence, and sound intuitive analysis. Use it to cut through what may be keeping you from deeper insight into the next necessary steps.
The best news is a Venus/Jupiter trine that promises to keep hearts warm and convivial. We love this partnership, especially when so many are in need of generosity and goodwill.

Over the coming weeks, many of us will be searching for a perspective capable of holding the heart steady and true. That process is likely to have you moving between emotional extremes, but that vacillation isn’t necessarily negative. Remember: On planet earth you have to feel to heal.

October 31, 2012

Potent astral winds buffet bodies, minds, hearts, and souls this week, and as many of us attempt to navigate these powerful blasts, reliable daily rituals are likely to lose their solid ground. For some, this loss of stability exacerbates an already pervasive anxiety that inhibits settling down or settling in. For others, these winds distort the ability to discern, clearly, and perceptions seem to be filtered through a mirror that reflects all too vividly all that’s wrong. For most of us, uncertainty about what will be tightens our grip on what is. And because several surprises also ride these winds, unforeseen plot twists amplify perceptual distortion and psychic displacement. It’s a difficult week of change here on Planet Earth, and staying conscious and compassionate is sure to be the best way through.

Several factors contribute to these winds. First, Mercury, the symbol for all things related to communication, begins its last retrograde phase on November 6, at 6:03 PM EST. Yes…Mercury goes retrograde on Election Day. And yes, again, that spells trouble. A look at the US presidential elections over the last 100 years reveals that Mercury Retrograde has never started on Election Day. Mercury was already retrograde in 1908 when Taft won. It was retrograde during the elections of 1932, 1940, 1960, and 1980. On November 7, 2000, the date of the Bush/Gore debacle, Mercury went direct at 9:28 PM, which means it was stationary for almost the entire day, as it will be for most of this Election Day. “Stationary” means standing still, and Mercury’s seeming lack of motion signifies the potential for a wide range of snafus from communication to tabulation. (Will we ever forget the hanging chads?) And because Mercury is also known as the Trickster, deception is sure to be part of the drama.  

But that’s not all: Mercury goes retrograde in a trine to Uranus, a positive interaction that indicates a strong need for intellectual independence. Uranus is the revolutionary that seeks to catalyze whatever is stagnant. From an individual perspective, all week long, as this trine grows more precise, many of us are likely to feel a need to break free from restrictive thinking that inhibits personal progress. That agitation disrupts nervous systems, a condition that could manifest as disturbed sleep patterns.

One more thing about Election Day: As Mercury goes retrograde, we will also be under the influence of a Venus/Jupiter trine, a positive interaction that’s certain to have commentators waxing poetic. Those pontifications are likely to be even more dramatic than normal given that the Moon, in Leo, sextiles both Venus and Jupiter.

The good news is that Saturn, in Scorpio, continues to trine Neptune, in Pisces, a positive interaction that supports penetrating insight as well as foresight. Use its power to stay focused on what matters most, and you’ll find the resilience to handle the nervous energy of the week. And even in the midst of these restless winds, make compassion a motive force.

October 24, 2012

I’ve been avoiding writing about the planetary particulars of the upcoming election ever since the campaigning began. For several months, I’ve wrestled with the challenge of how to understand the election from an astrological perspective that would steer clear of prediction. Many astrologers have been combing the charts of the candidates, the candidates’ wives, the day of the election, and Inauguration Day looking for celestial clues about who will win. I’m sure several astrologers will get it right – but I won’t be one of them. My astral eyes cannot discern the outcome. As I’ve contemplated that lack of clarity, I have come to view this presidential election as a “Wheel Turning” event: It will decide the course of learning for the next four years. Whoever wins, the profound polarization that has been pulling us apart will persist until we arrive at an intelligent, compassionate renegotiation of our social contract, a contract that must include rather than exclude opposing points of view.

From an astrological perspective, the outcome of the election sets the tone for the next two and a half years of Uranus/Pluto squares. As I’ve written before, Uranus/Pluto contacts are historically the astral signature for all the movements for social justice, and you only need to glance at the headlines to confirm that women’s rights, civil rights, labor rights, and children’s rights are at the forefront of our current collective upset and upheaval. Uranus symbolizes revolution; it destabilizes stagnation and stimulates innovation. Uranus is currently in Aries, traditionally seen as the Sign of the pioneer, explorer, and warrior. In esoteric astrology, Aries is the Sign of volition: it is the will to be – to rise out of spiritual unity and individuate as a separate self.

Pluto, always found at the core of a paradigm shift, signifies the inexorable process of transformation that is best seen through the continuous cycles of death and rebirth. Pluto is currently in Capricorn, the Sign of authority, a category that includes governments and corporations.

Squares indicate an active process: Imagine two heads butting together at right angles. In the case of Uranus and Pluto, a ram, Aries, and a goat, Capricorn, horns locked in a dynamic challenge, each determined to win, and neither will let go. Aries and Capricorn are Cardinal Signs, which means neither comes to stasis easily. For the next several years, as these Uranus/Pluto squares continue, so will the struggle to define the relationship between the individual and the government.

Revolution is always about the power of individuals united by a common cause to effect a shift in existing conditions. But in order for that change to truly succeed, the opposition must be included in the new paradigm. If we are going to find answers, we must refuse to be polarized by those who would exploit ignorance and divide us by our differences. This election illuminates the depth and cynicism of that exploitation. And in that light, we’re being asked to consider the possibility of negotiating a social contract that serves everyone’s needs, even those we disagree with.

October 17, 2012

The planets provide the potential for greater clarity this week, and as they do, many of us are likely to experience a back-to-basics attitude that puts the routines of daily life into a new perspective. While some may experience this new view as lightning bolts of sudden realization, most of us are more likely to feel it as a subtle strengthening of insight that reinforces purpose and intention. But don’t let the subtlety of this astral influence fool you into thinking that it won’t have a profound effect. It has the power to clear the air and penetrate confusion, something we could certainly use right now, especially here in America, where we are about to make significant choices that will have lasting consequences for more than just our citizens.

The source of this potential for greater clarity is a Sun/Saturn/Neptune configuration. As the Sun moves toward its entry into Scorpio, on October 22, it forms a conjunction with Saturn.  A Sun/Saturn conjunction tends to lean toward a judgmental mindset that dwells on what’s wrong. Interestingly, that very same faulting-finding capacity also contains the seeds of incisive discernment – or what I like to think of as judgment without the poison of polarization. A finely tuned, discerning mind doesn’t deny the truth; it simply doesn’t need to belittle or shame those less capable. Saturn is the archetype of the teacher, and what defines a wise teacher is the skill to transform ignorance into knowledge.

Neptune adds intuition to this Sun/Saturn potential for penetrating insight through the positive support of a trine, and the result is expanded perception that fosters foresight. All astrological interactions play out along a spectrum from positive to negative interpretation, and many might interpret this Sun/Saturn/Neptune combination as a tendency toward hypersensitivity. In some instances that might be true, given that they both are in Water Signs, a placement that signifies feeling and emotion -- Saturn is in Scorpio and Neptune is in Pisces. But the deeper vein of this alignment is the care and cultivation of the soul. Neptune’s sensitivities are best served through compassion and empathy, for one’s self as well as for others.

The last election for President of the United States occurred on the day of the first of five Saturn/Uranus oppositions. Those oppositions signified the dissolution of the status quo, and certainly the election of President Obama was emblematic of that dissolution. Many felt we finally had a leader who exemplified change. Too many felt it was his responsibility alone to make those changes, and because expectations were so high, disappointment about how little has changed is profound. But very few anticipated just how hard the status quo would resist what is ultimately inevitable. Unfortunately, the debilitating effect of that resistance affects the collective psyche as well as the personal: Many of the most idealistic among us are apathetic about this election. Keep in mind that the Saturn/Uranus opposition was immediately followed by a series of Uranus/Pluto squares that represent a profound process of social transformation – a process that has only just begun.

Use this week’s deep potential for clarity and purpose as an antidote to ignorance, and don’t let the poison of political polarization paralyze the power of your individual voice. Vote.

October 10, 2012

Astral winds shift direction this week, and while it’s not quite a lessening of intensity, it’s a big enough break in the weather to inspire a new perspective. Even as I write this, I can hear you thinking, “What? No gloom and doom forecast? Could this be real?” And the answer would be “Yes – just don’t expect miracle cures.” The planets are providing chances to recalibrate attitudes, but making those adjustments, even the subtle or welcome ones, could be difficult, especially if you’re anxious about the future. But even in the face of uncertainty, significant shifts are possible. The best way through this process is to stay present in the moment, doing whatever it takes to maintain your center, and of course, whenever possible helping others to do the same.

The big news – and the unsettling news – continues to be Saturn’s entry into Scorpio. This transit began on October 5. The last time Saturn entered Scorpio was November 29, 1982. It’s often said that history repeats itself, something that can be seen through the repetition of planetary cycles that are based on the orbits of the planets around the Sun. It’s interesting to reflect on Saturn’s last entry into Scorpio. While much has changed in the last thirty years, a look at the events of that time reveals that much has also remained the same. For example, on December 3, 1982, the United States unemployment rate was 10.8 percent (some sources have it for the year at 9.7); Afghanistan was a war zone, but it was a war with the Russians; the climate issue then was El Niño and its influence on extreme weather; Time Magazine named the computer “Man of the Year” – could they have even been imagining Google or the iPhone?  

Scorpio has a distinct rhythm; it’s textural, guided by a unique filtration system that calibrates nuance and inflection. Yes…Scorpio can be rigid – it’s a Fixed Sign, after all, which means it’s not going to budge until it’s sure where it wants to go. But it is also a Water Sign, with the capacity to embody a wide range of identities from frozen ice to rushing waterfall to roaring river to constantly breaking waves to placid lake. Yet beneath all its guises, lie deep emotional currents that are active, even if they cannot be seen.

As Saturn transits Scorpio, many of us will experience those deep currents rise to the surface of daily life. Saturn is both the student and the teacher, and when it moves through a Sign, it educates us about that Sign by delving into its essence. Expect to feel called to previously unexplored emotional territory, internal as well as external. Because a Saturn/Neptune trine currently skews at least some of that exploration into the realms of consciousness, many of us are sure to increase self-awareness.

A Mars/Uranus trine also supports this week’s astral change of air. Mars is in Sagittarius. Uranus is in Aries. And when these two unite in a fiery, harmonious partnership, they inspire adventure of every variety. Use this passionate interaction to spark your enthusiasm.

October 3, 2012

The powerful hum of planetary motion rumbles through the routines of daily life this week, and because stagnant waters are particularly susceptible to its reverberations, many of us are likely to encounter major or minor disturbances in places we haven’t visited for a while. Pay attention: We are entering into even deeper waters of individual and collective transformation, and some of us could be more than a little resistant to the shift. Defense mechanisms, yours or others’, are certain to auto-set at DEFCON 2, and because resetting those systems requires gargantuan effort, you can anticipate spending plenty of precious time talking about what went wrong and what’s still wrong. But we’re not just in the stagnant waters of the emotional body. We’re also sailing on the seas of psyche, and skillfully navigating the depth of these potent and mysterious waters requires the poignant vulnerability of an open heart.

Saturn pulls us into the deep as it moves into Scorpio on Friday, October 5, when it leaves Libra, the Sign of relating, a transit that began on October 29, 2009. While I’m not implying that Libra and its vast domain of relationship are superficial, Scorpio is, as they say in Oz, “a horse of a different color.” Scorpio symbolizes the unchanging process of change – birth, death, and rebirth – and thus includes within its vast domain all the areas of life that are out of our control, including life, itself. From a slightly less abstract perspective, Scorpio also represents all the thorny human themes, such as sex, politics, finance, secrecy, privacy, and the process of transformation. Saturn stays in Scorpio until December 2014, which gives us lots of time to examine how we handle those issues.

Saturn signifies structure – wherever it is found, is where we find the bones of things. There is nothing superfluous or evenly mildly superficial about Saturn, unless we characterize its penchant for fault and flaw finding as trivial – mean-spirited on occasion, but never trivial. Saturn is the principle that allows us to distill wisdom from experience, and therefore it is both the student and the teacher. And no matter how friendly you feel toward this emblem of wisdom, eventually any honest definition of Saturn will include the words “inhibition,” “limitation,” and “concentration.” Scorpio is also no slouch when it comes to the deep waters of the soul; it will feel Saturn’s presence keenly, and so will we. Remember: Each of us has every Sign in our birth chart; each of us will feel Saturn’s shift into Scorpio somewhere in our lives.

Saturn begins its transit of Scorpio in a conjunction with Mercury, and both Saturn and Mercury trine Neptune. We love this signature: A Mercury/Saturn conjunction indicates the potential for deep thinking. The trine with Neptune provides the potential for imagination and intuition to amplify that intellectual concentration.

Do your best to stay calm through this Saturnian transition. Sure, there are relationship threads that still need gathering, but there’s plenty of time to find resolution.

September 26, 2012

Planetary patterns expand and contract with increasing strength this week, and their undulating rhythm transforms the mundane routines of daily life into a wild rollercoaster ride. Be prepared for emotional swells, yours or others, as most of us struggle to maintain our cool. Staying calm requires extra effort because most of these astral waves ripple through relationship waters, stirring poignant and often unresolved themes with significant others. Unfortunately, emotional bodies are already over-stimulated by the continuing release phase of the second Uranus/Pluto square, which was exact only a week ago. As the tension of that interaction continues to unwind, the urge to unload increases. So don’t be surprised if you’re bombarded by attitudes and opinions, yours or others’, about how everything should be done. And while some of these outbursts are justified, try not to indulge in mean-spirited discharges. Be determined to be kind to yourself and others. It isn’t possible to overestimate the power of compassion, especially during times of trouble.

We’re in the last ten days of Saturn’s transit through Libra, the Sign of relating; this transit began at the end of October 2009 and ends on October 5, 2012; Saturn won’t enter Libra again until 2039.  As Saturn puts a period at the end of its journey through Libra, many of us are sure to experience a condensed intensive on partnership issues, especially the ones that seem to persist no matter how much consciousness we try to apply. For some, this emphasis could manifest as magical moments of penetrating insight that break through the limitations of negative habits. For others, these next ten days are likely to be a reminder not so much about all the work that still needs doing, but of all the work that’s been done – and the benefits of staying on the field and working through the tough stuff. For even more, Saturn’s transit through the last degree of Libra provides opportunities to once again contemplate the importance of relating to those who matter most. Keep in mind as you move through this phase: It doesn’t matter whether you are partnered; what matters is looking at where and how you stand in relation to intimate relationships of every variety – friends, lovers, spouses, pets, plants, passions – and how well you are able to negotiate those bonds, especially when it comes to your relationship with yourself.

The Sun entered Libra on September 22, immediately joining the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square, as it opposes Uranus, in Aries, and squares Pluto in Capricorn. This potent T-Square is exact on September 28. Sun/Uranus/Pluto contacts are always about sudden and startling shifts of power, and whether those changes are individual or collective, they are sure to stir even greater upset and upheaval – if that is possible. But that’s not the worst of it: On September 29, the Moon exacerbates the tension of this T-square, when it forms a conjunction with Uranus, opposes the Sun, and squares Pluto, all of which is likely to manifest as rash or nervous behavior and a desire to break free from whatever enslaves.

Yes…it’s intense. But these astral interactions also carry strong creative impulses that facilitate transformation. Accessing that positive power requires an unflinching determination to grow and an equally strong intention to cause no harm.

September 19, 2012

We’re crossing the second of seven powerful thresholds this week so don’t be surprised if the seasonal transition from summer to fall has a keener sense of dislocation and disruption. Seasonal shifts are often uncomfortable, but this one has an even sharper edge than others. It’s delineated by several potent planetary patterns, all of which point to the necessity for profound individual and collective transformation. While many of us already recognize and can identify what needs to shift, the clarity of how to change so many conditions at the core at once continues to feel out of reach. And it feels out of reach because it is: We’re in a daunting process of trying to break through an old paradigm of polarization by gender, race, religion, and class into a new paradigm based on consciousness, synthesis, unity, and an ecology of the heart.

The second exact Uranus/Pluto square is exact and separating today, September 19. This square is part of a series that began in June 2012 and will continue until March 2015; it originates as part of a sequence of Uranus/Pluto conjunctions that took place from 1965 through 1966. Uranus represents provocation and signifies revolution; disruption is the way we experience its presence. Pluto represents transformation and signifies metamorphosis at the core; the inexorable process of death and rebirth is the way we experience its presence. Squares symbolize friction, hostility, and resistance.

While Uranus/Pluto interactions always indicate social and political upheaval, the current square as well as the next five in the series, are likely to stir even more tumult than we are already experiencing. As mentioned in previous columns, the movements for social justice – civil rights, labor rights, and feminism (to name but a few) – are linked to these cycles, and with each, those movements grow in depth and breadth. Unfortunately, so does resistance to their truth. And this is what confounds my bleeding liberal heart:  Why are so many of us still so reluctant to see the wisdom of social justice? It doesn’t make sense to support ideologies that divide rather than unite; the planet simply can’t sustain itself through discrete systems that refuse to acknowledge our common ground.

When hard aspects separate, dynamic events often signal the release of pent-up emotions. From a collective perspective, external revolutions are sure to gather momentum, and from a personal perspective, internal revolutions are also certain to gather strength. We’re likely to witness this intensification on September 23, when the Moon conjuncts Pluto, in Capricorn, as well as on September 29, when it conjuncts Uranus, in Aries. Both of these lunar interactions are likely to drive emotional bodies to extremes. Rather than perpetuating the intensity through behavior you might later regret, do your best to take no unnecessary action. The power to neutralize negativity is always in the present moment. Remember: As within, so without.

It will take courage and confidence to cross the transformational threshold of Uranus/Pluto, especially during the coming weeks, as we make important personal and collective choices that will decide the future. It will also take as much compassion as each of us can muster.

September 12, 2012

The planets array themselves in deceptively simple patterns this week, but unfortunately daily life doesn’t mirror that ease. A complex power grid lies just beneath this seeming astral simplicity, and skillfully navigating its surges requires confidence as well as consciousness. Many of us may be more than a little on edge. Be prepared for dramatic declarations or responses that at first glance seem disproportionate to the event, but upon deeper examination reveal dormant feelings in need of expression. Also expect some of what’s expressed to be startling and in certain situations disruptive. I don’t mean to paint such a gloomy picture, but as the waves of change continue to pound upon the shores of reality, long-standing rituals and routines are likely to be washed away. Remember: We are only at the beginning of a long, arduous, and (dare I say it one more time) intense process of revolution that is going to challenge even the most flexible of change agents to let go of what no longer serves so that something new and more effective can come into being.

The Uranus/Pluto square continues to drive the intensity. On September 19, we will experience the second of seven exact squares that are part of a cycle that began in June 2012 and will end in March 2015. From a broad perspective, we’ve been in the thrall of this square since spring 2011, when Uranus and Pluto came within a degree of exact contact, and we began experiencing ever-increasing waves of political protest. From a technical perspective, exact astrological contact and the period following it delineate a concentration of energy, making it more possible to see the effect. Often the consequences of pernicious interactions are all too obvious; other times they are less evident. Both positions are valuable: The broad view encompasses process; the precise examination hints at or in some instances boldly demonstrates what is in dire need of transformation.

Pluto goes direct approximately twenty-four hours prior to its precise contact with Uranus, and that forward motion is sure to intensify the already intensified air. All week long as we approach Pluto’s “turnaround,” the weakest links are likely to fail. Anticipate breakdowns where breakthroughs can’t be made, as well as meltdowns when too much is just too much. Don’t be surprised if you can’t catch your breath; hearts – yours or others’ – are sure to strain from the stress.

Many of us are already suffering with soul fatigue, especially those of us trying to make ends meet or working overtime to help others to make it through to safer ground. But because this square is a symbol for cultural and collective revolution, and because it always signifies social unrest, many of us are also suffering from the despair that our global situation may not change as quickly as it needs to for future generations to flourish. This would not be the moment to give up hope. Revolution happens one heart at a time, and yours could be the heart that makes the difference.

September 5, 2012

Nervous systems quiver from intensity this week, as several celestial patterns up the ante on the already hectic pace of terrestrial life. Even if you’re not involved in any time-specific deadlines or plans and projects in need of staying on schedule, you’re likely to feel time simply slipping away. And that could lead to a peculiar stress reminiscent of a recurring dream many of us have where no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to make the plane, train, or school bus. But that’s not all. The fascia of human interactions, already stretched from the strain of significant emotional demands, is sure to ache from an increased need to make sense of personal circumstances, as well as our collective situation. Despite several planetary configurations, all of which provide the potential for the solid, grounded application of common sense, a strange and uncontrollable need to test the limits of all sorts of realities causes nervous systems to stay on high alert. As this astral adrenalin pumps through the week, do whatever it is you do to stay calm, centered, and reliant upon the biggest possible perspective to guide you through the particulars.

Mercury, symbolizing all intellectual functions and endeavors, is at the source of this week’s nervous energy. Currently in Virgo, its Home Sign, which makes its mental might even mightier, Mercury is in a conjunction with the Sun, a sextile to Mars, a trine to Pluto, as well as a square to Jupiter. When Mercury shares the same space with the Sun, we tend to experience a lack of objectivity that often manifests as the inability to listen to and consider the opinion of others. (By the way, listening doesn’t necessarily mean you have to agree.) When Mercury forms a positive alliance with Mars, minds tend to move quickly, and because Mars is currently in Scorpio, a highly intuitive Sign, some of what occurs as a result could manifest as emotional agitation, especially if imagination takes over and urges the mind to latch onto the worst possible scenarios.

The good news in this Mercury mess is that when Mercury trines Pluto, we have an opportunity to experience an almost devotional need to get to the bottom of things intellectually. Mercury, in the form of Hermes, is the only Olympian god able to travel between heaven and hell in the blink of the mind’s eye. So when it joins with Pluto, or Hades, the god of the underworld, our minds have a tendency to travel between our own personal heaven and hell. Fortunately, a trine is a positive partnership so it might not be such a bad excursion. But you will still have to pay close attention to where your mind wants to wander – and why. Use this trine as an opportunity to gather self-awareness.

A Mercury/Jupiter square that also includes the Sun/Mercury conjunction provides the possibilities for an expansive perspective. While this bundle tends toward extravagance or exaggeration, it just as easily leans toward humor, and given the wide range of ideas we are sure to encounter during the week, irony is likely to take the lead.

Use your wit wisely, but also keep in mind that many of us are feeling an uncomfortable level of hypersensitivity as a consequence of the Uranus/Pluto square that’s inching toward its second exact contact on September 19, and too much mockery at the expense of others might have a detrimental effect.

August 29, 2012

It’s anything but a typical back-to-school, back-to-work, end-of-summer week – the planets are far too busy to be lolling about on the beach. We’re in the tightening grip of the second exact Uranus/Pluto square, an interaction that has more than a few nervous systems struggling to maintain reasonable responses to unreasonable events. We’re also in the last wave of the 2012 relationship intensive, and as unresolved situations with significant others, personal and professional, dominate the daily dialogue, the week feels like a retrograde something or other – but it’s not. The good news – and there is always good news – is that the planets support the physical and psychological stamina to keep putting one foot in front of the other and facing what needs taking care of. And if that’s each other, don’t hesitate to make thoughtful care your first choice.

The Uranus/Pluto square, with its signature of revolutionary upset, continues to be at the heart of the intensity. From a historical perspective, Uranus/Pluto contacts are always present when struggles for social justice escalate; the movements for civil rights, women’s rights, labor, and civil disobedience are all linked to their cycles. Uranus symbolizes the freedom fighter, and Pluto, the cultural nuclear reactions that effect change at the core. This week (as last week) the Sun, in Virgo, trines Pluto, in Capricorn, a positive alliance that adds a layer of strength to both the insistence for as well as the resistance to change – even if that resistance seems to lack both common sense and generosity of heart. As I write this, women’s rights are at the epicenter of the political news, and by the time you read this, I’m sure the Republican National Convention will make quite clear its agenda regarding not just the rights of women, but the rights of all those who benefit from social justice.   

Mars forms a sextile to both the Sun and Pluto, a position that transforms certain circumstances into tests of personal power. And it will certainly be a litmus test for the Democratic platform to respond with equal vigor on behalf of the young, the poor, the ageing, people of all color, and, of course, women.

And speaking of the feminine, Venus, the goddess of love, beauty, and what matters most, is forming a final square to Saturn in Saturn’s last moments in Libra, the Sign of relationships. (Saturn leaves Libra on October 5.) During Venus’ recent six-week retrograde phase, in Gemini, from the middle of May through the end of June, many of us revisited all sorts of relationships issues personal and professional. During that phase, a Venus/Saturn trine kept interactions highly idealistic. Currently Venus is in Cancer, the Sign of nurturing, and as she clashes with Saturn through the friction of a square, interactions are sure to be more emotional than intellectual. What’s more, because Saturn is the planet of limitation, we can also anticipate clearly delineated boundaries.

As you move through the week, try to focus on process rather than outcome. Remember, we are in the midst of a very long phase of transformation.

August 22, 2012

A hypersensitive astral air makes it difficult to establish and maintain an emotional equilibrium this week, and because skins are thin, reactions are likely to be immediate and exaggerated. Try not to misconstrue a casual, off-hand comment for a full-blown negative critique. Also do your best to curtail any harsh verdicts against yourself or others. Neptune, the master builder of illusion, is stirring all sorts of pots – personal and political, local and global – and because imagination is Neptune’s terrain, the potential to tell stories based on projection and presumption is high – very high. Stick to the facts and check them thoroughly, especially if you’re inclined to voice to harsh judgments about others, judgments you may be fabricating simply to protect yourself.

This week’s source of hypersensitivity has several facets. First, the Sun moves into Virgo, today, and as it does, it forms an immediate opposition to Neptune, in Pisces. A Sun/Neptune opposition has the potential to make many of us highly susceptible to suggestion and easily deceived by wishful thinking. And while for some that super-sensitivity stirs creative imagination and spiritual search, for many more, a Sun/Neptune opposition encourages a negative mindset that tends to see the worst in a situation. And that tilt toward pessimism could exacerbate a desire to self-soothe through drugs or alcohol. Not that self-medicating is necessarily bad, but the heightened stress from this opposition makes bingeing probable.

And that’s not all. Mars enters Scorpio tomorrow, and as Mars changes Sign, it sextiles the Sun and simultaneously trines Neptune. A Sun/Mars sextile is a positive, energetic interaction that favors movement and action. And while you would think that a Mars/Neptune trine would also be a positive signature – and in certain cases it is, particularly when used for creative pursuits – this trine carries a potent shadow: It’s a highly empathetic combination with a strong urge to merge. Keeping good boundaries under this influence will require attention and intention, especially if you are prone to losing yourself in romantic or other types of passionate relationships. Good boundaries are essential to healthy interactions of every variety.

As Mars leaves Libra behind, it also ends its conjunction with Saturn, but we won’t feel the full effect of that discharge until the weekend. Saturn symbolizes the harsh, critical voice of the judge that only speaks a separating dualistic language. Be careful not to aim the Saturn/Mars discharge at yourself or others.

The good news is that Mercury, in Leo, sextiles Jupiter, in Gemini, forming an amiable alliance that lends itself easily to conversations on a wide variety of subjects. It also supports an objective perspective, which is something much needed in the midst of such strong Neptunian waves.

As you work your way through the week, go easy with your fellow travelers – everyone benefits from kindness.

 

August 15, 2012

This week, even a superdog hero with uber-ears might find it hard to hear the cosmic click over the din of terrestrial chatter. But a failure to notice what lies beneath the noise won’t inhibit the planets from locking into the next phase of intensity. We’re on the approach to the second exact Uranus/Pluto square on September 19, and as we move toward that marker, many of us will become increasingly aware of an ever-escalating tension that seems to pervade all areas of daily life. This mounting tension is an ongoing condition that continues to aggravate individual as well as collective situations, especially those in dire need of peaceful remedies and compassionate solutions.

The Mars/Saturn conjunction, in Libra, is exact and separating on August 15. This conjunction officially ends when Mars moves into Scorpio on August 23. Whenever a powerful configuration separates we tend to feel the full brunt of its force. A Mars/Saturn conjunction is characterized as a pernicious interaction that tends toward negativity or violence. Pay attention: This conjunction serves as a period at the end of an important planetary message about relationships. Before entering Libra, Mars gathered its strength for the six months through its retrograde in Virgo, the Sign where we recognize our fundamental interconnectedness. Mars moved into Libra on July 3, nine days after the first exact Uranus/Pluto square; it joined that configuration for the first two weeks of July, when it opposed Uranus and squared Pluto. Mars began separating out of that configuration on July 19, the day and night of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.

Saturn is the principle of discipline, but it is also the principle of loneliness and isolation. Mars symbolizes energy, specifically physical energy, which often manifests itself as aggression. Mars is the archetype of the warrior and signifies the male principle. The current Mars/Saturn conjunction has the potential to turn all sorts of interactions more than a little testy. At best, it is an opportunity to bring greater awareness to personal patterns of assertion and/or aggression with significant others, especially habitual reactions that may not accurately reflect your consciousness, intention, or heart.

Currently in Cancer, Venus also plays a role this week, as she opposes Pluto and squares Uranus. In the western astrological system, Venus isn’t typically associated with violence, but considering the stresses of the world we’re sure to feel her presence as part of the current unrest, individual and collective. Her effect could be felt in the financial realms, given that she symbolizes money, but from a personal perspective, it might be wise to be prepared for declarations of divorce as well as passionate proposals – she is the goddess of love, after all. Remember: Venus spent the first two weeks of her recent retrograde in a trine to Saturn, a position that invited us to reflect on how we speak and deliver information to significant others, both personal and professional.

The din that rides the surface of these deep currents is a Mercury/Uranus trine, a positive combination that actively supports innovation and invention. This trine also feeds a need for almost constant information, so be careful not to let that hunger agitate your nervous system.

As the coming weeks unfold, the Uranus/Pluto square will tighten its position, a process that will only exacerbate existing stresses – physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. Forewarned simply means better prepared for what lies ahead, and, for those who wish to be of service to their fellow travelers, better able to reach out to those in distress with empathy and compassion.

August 8, 2012

The sky provides another busy backdrop to the hustle and bustle of terrestrial affairs this week, as planetary patters continue to unfold along a wide range of diverse indications. Mercury Retrograde is finally over, and as it shifts out of rewind and gains forward momentum, many of us are likely to feel as if daily life is moving at the speed of light. But beneath warp speed, another, subtler change in the astral air turns attitudes increasingly earnest and moods much more serious. Some of us will respond to this shift with a sense of increased vulnerability, and despite the lack of retrograde snafus, could feel the need to withdraw. But at the other end of the spectrum, others irritated by the change might assume a preemptive belligerence as a stand against the potential for conflict and confrontation. Most of us are likely to simply feel defensive, hypersensitive to criticism, or just plain cranky, with little or no patience for neediness of any kind – our own or others’.

This week’s somber signature is a complex configuration between the Sun, Mars, and Saturn. All month long we’re under the influence of Sun/Mars sextile, a positive alliance that supports enterprise and endeavor. The Sun signifies spirit. Mars represents ambition. When they work together, we experience the enthusiasm to embrace life fully. The inherent passion of this sextile is amplified by the Sun’s placement in Leo, the fiery Sign of creativity, and Mars’ position in Libra, the Sign of relating. Expect much of the inherent exuberance of this sextile to express itself as dynamic interactions with significant others, personal and professional. A Sun/Saturn sextile strengthens the serious side of the Sun/Mars sextile. Saturn is always interested in discerning what’s true and enduring. For those not interested in sorting out relationship issues, this entire bundle supports and sustains the discipline to focus on the smallest details necessary to see any job through to completion.

But there’s a problem: We’re also in the grip of a Mars/Saturn conjunction, a combination with the capacity to turn interactions slightly more serious than they need to be. Saturn symbolizes the critical eye that tends to find flaws, a gaze that inhibits the free-spirited, willful force of Mars that only wants to pursue its ambitions and satisfy its physical curiosity. The result of Saturn’s stern hand often manifests as resentment or resistance to any perceived judgment. From a positive perspective, this conjunction provides the capacity to focus on a particular project with indefatigable concentration. Precision flourishes under its influence, but so can a harsh or bitter attitude toward others. So try to remember that a desire for excellence is never a valid rationale for cruelty.

As the week unfolds, and the snafus, delays, delays, detours, and interference of Mercury Retrograde recede, take a moment to gather your thoughts about what you’ve learned and how you want to apply that knowledge. Up until now, 2012 has been a series of retrogrades, all offering the possibility of genuine reflection on patterns and attitudes that no longer serve, all with an eye toward identifying what’s essential moving forward.

August 1, 2012

The planets are busy this week, and daily life reflects that activity through a hectic pace that isn’t likely to allow much time to relax. And, unfortunately, the hustle and bustle last for another couple of weeks. If it’s not deadlines, it’s family matters, and if it’s not obligations at home, it’s community commitments – whatever the reason, extra time just seems to evaporate. The inability to set aside fun time could also simply be a matter of trying to fit too much into too little. But given that the realities of daily life have been so intense for so long, many of us would benefit from a chance to catch our breath and settle down, particularly caregivers who’ve been running on little to no reserves because the need for help in so many areas is so extreme. While it may not be possible to put whatever it is you’re doing aside, it is always possible to work toward better balance, and making an effort to replenish your reserves of joy would be a great first step in that positive direction.

A Sun/Uranus trine feeds the hurried and often harried pace of the week.  The Sun is in Leo, the fiery Sign of self-expression. Uranus is in Aries, the fiery Sign of adventure. And when they unite in a positive alliance, they ignite a freedom-loving spirit that fuels revolution – and sometimes just for the thrill of it. We’ve been under this influence since the Sun entered Leo on July 23 and we will continue to feel its heat for another week. Use this passionate force for reform, but try not to abuse its power by provoking unnecessary conflict or confrontation. Be aware that while this trine can be unwieldy, when handled with care, its power fuels passion and creativity.

Fortunately, Jupiter, in Gemini, sits in a sextile to both the Sun and Uranus, a position that bodes well for good health and good fortune. This entire bundle can be applied to all sorts of healing – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and (dare I say it?) political. Jupiter’s presence bestows the ability to take in the biggest possible perspective, as well as the capacity to consider the moral consequences of important decisions. Its sextile to the Sun lasts until August 10. Jupiter’s sextile to Uranus continues until August 19. Jupiter/Uranus contacts signify positive solutions to stressful situations – exactly what’s needed right now to not only keep up with the activity, but also to soothe and calm overloaded nervous systems. Make the most of this beneficial interaction by allowing it to strengthen a generosity of spirit. But be realistic about what you can contribute and what you can accomplish.

Mercury is still retrograde; it goes direct on August 8, and all week long, it feels as if it’s at a standstill, which could be crazy-making, given the overall fast pace of the week. Or in the alternative, Mercury’s measured pace could serve as an antidote to the week’s planetary hubbub. Mercury Retrograde is always an invitation to slow down and reflect, review, and reconsider recent choices with an eye toward refining and improving the situation. Use the last days of this rewind to unwind.

 

July 25, 2012

The astral air prickles with electricity this week, prompting emotional bodies to bristle with a full range of intense reactions. Expect to feel unsettled or hyper-vigilant as you attempt to attune to these various celestial currents. Just be careful not to blow your circuits – the dominant planetary configuration is directly linked to nervous systems, and too much input could disturb or disrupt your equilibrium. For some, this dynamic atmosphere provokes panic, especially if anxiety about an uncertain future fuels fear and other negative attitudes. For others, simply handling the vacillations of daily life takes a toll, particularly on those committed to helping others to cope with extremes. But the week isn’t only bleak. The same dominant theme – a Mercury/Uranus trine – also provides opportunities for extraordinary clarity, and for those who manage to keep a positive perspective, viable creative solutions may seem to appear out of the blue.

The dominant theme of the week is a trine between Mercury, retrograde in Leo, and Uranus, retrograde in Aries, which disrupts the routines of daily life as it simultaneously inspires a fresh approach to the same-old-same-old. This is a fiery, powerful alliance with the potential to spark and ignite invention and innovation. Mercury symbolizes all intellectual aptitudes and abilities. Uranus signifies revolution and rebellion. Both planets are in Fire Signs, positions that amplify magnetic, dynamic, and often dramatic exchanges. Mercury/Uranus contacts enhance brainpower, and ideas flourish under this influence. Expect lively conversation, as Jupiter, in Gemini, sextiles both Mercury and Uranus, positively supporting this already strong tendency toward discussion. Just be aware that Jupiter tends toward exaggeration and excess, and when it is in Gemini, the Sign of information, the subjects of communiqués of all sorts, from a personal tête-à-tête to a transpersonal lecture, are certain to range far and wide.

The only problem is that both of these planetary dynamos are currently retrograde – it’s not a small glitch, if only because plans and projects initiated under a retrograde tend to take much longer to come to fruition, with the inevitable delay of desired results engendering more than a little frustration. Trust your intuition, and be patient. Eventually – Mercury goes direct on August 8 – some of those lightning flashes of inspiration could turn into tangible realities.

The Uranus/Pluto square continues to provide an irritating undertone to personal as well as political interactions, particularly activities and attitudes mired in stagnant perspectives that refuse to acknowledge what’s needed to facilitate positive transformation. Try to notice where you might be holding on to a position that has outlived its usefulness.

For the next ten days, a Venus/Saturn trine supports emotional sobriety. Saturn is currently in Libra. (It enters Scorpio on October 5.) This trine was also operative from the end of April through most of May so don’t be surprised if you find yourself revisiting relationship themes and issues from that time.

Mercury and Uranus, while exciting, have a direct effect on nervous systems, and those less skilled at handling the intensity are certain to feel their electrical systems achieving maximum capacity. Do whatever it is you do to stay calm and centered and encourage others to do the same.

 

July 18, 2012

The heavens are hyperactive this week, and even though the planets aren’t actually suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, many of us are likely to have a hard time staying focused, especially as emotional bodies, already overloaded from so many weeks of intensity, hit their super-saturation point and hearts and minds strain to absorb one more drop of stress. Frustration is also probable, given that we’re in the midst of a dual retrograde, a condition that awakens the Inner Hal in almost every machine from the laptop to the toaster. But don’t despair; while this rebellion seems intentional, artificial intelligence isn’t taking over – yet. (Although you could find yourself wishing it would so you could bypass the endless hours of tech support that don’t seem to make one bit of difference when a machine has a mind of its own. Alas, we’re still in charge.) Rather than bemoan the retrograde obstacle course, be determined to seize the creative power of the moment.

Several factors contribute to this week’s intensity.

We’re in the first week of a Mercury/Uranus dual retrograde: Mercury is retrograde until August 8, and Uranus is retrograde until December 13. Both planets “turned around” in tandem, as well as in a trine to each other. And even though a trine is a positive interaction, retrogrades always pose problems. Mercury signifies language, communication, and travel. Uranus represents technology, and the combination indicates snafus involving electronics and technology. Don’t drop your phone off a cliff in a hissy fit of frustration. It’s not the phone’s fault that the satellite connection is down or that the network is exhausted from overload or that too many pictures are clogging your hard drive.

Oy…oy…oy… pretty much covers the effect of Uranus Retrograde combined with Mercury Retrograde. But if I must elaborate: Uranus also symbolizes instability, which is one of the reasons it’s infamous for spontaneous and often startling plot twists that tend to manifest as complete reversals of attitude and perspective. Given that Mercury is often as squirrely and unstable as Uranus, especially when its retrograde is linked to the planet of the unpredictable, this dual retrograde has the power to humble even the mightiest of transformers. You’ll need huge stores of tolerance to handle the dual retrograde, so pace yourself.

But this week, you’ll also need equally deep reservoirs of compassion to handle the Mars/Uranus/Pluto T-Square that is exact and separating today, and over the course of the next several days. When an astrological interaction is exact and separating, we feel the full thrust of its power. Unfortunately, this T-Square is a pernicious interaction that easily justifies violence as a first defense against angst and frustration. Mars doesn’t back down easily, and when that defiance couples with the aggravation of the dual retrograde, the need to discharge pent-up feelings is likely to translate into all sorts of aggressive behavior.

As the week unfolds, do your best to resist habitual reactions. We are not machines, and our co-creative power always allows opportunities to make conscious choices. There’s never been a better time to kick any unconscious habit, especially if that habit is kicking the dog or anyone else who happens to be in your way. Stay mindful of your reactions and everyone will benefit – even you.  

July 11, 2012

The turbulent seas of change get even rougher this week and next, as several planetary configurations make the already too intense days and nights on planet Earth even more intense. Expect controversy and confrontation, both individual and collective. Frustration and ensuing temper tantrums are probable. And because of that, those tried and true patience pills won’t be enough to handle the interruptions, interference, detours, and delays that punctuate the ongoing unpredictable atmosphere. All of us – perhaps not the saintly – will need to think before we speak and breathe before we leap into reactions we’re likely to regret the very moment we start to go off on a tirade. A neutral stance would be the best position to assume, especially if you’re caught in the middle of conflict.

The week unfolds as a series of astral speed bumps – all of which are strong enough to take any of us off track. (1) On July 14, Mercury goes retrograde, and (2) on July 13 Uranus goes retrograde. Yes, I know I’ve listed them backwards, but that’s completely in keeping with the signature of this dual retrograde – they really act as one. Most of us know the Mercury retrograde drill, but that’s no excuse for failing to back up your information. Those of you new to Mercury Retrograde, here’s the skinny: Mercury Retrograde negatively affects all things related to communication and language. Translation: All mail sources from the snail to the email have problems, as do other all other sources of connectivity from phones to scans to documents to negotiations to travel.

But this retrograde is particularly problematic because Uranus symbolizes technology and that means your smart phone is certain to turn stupid. And it will take enormous effort to resist the temptation to throw your iPad or any other electronic device against the wall, in the lake, or off the mountaintop. We always feel an etheric bump when Uranus throws its weight around, but because the essence of Uranus is unpredictability … well, there’s no telling how we will experience the jolt.

On July 15, a Sun/Saturn square is exact and separating. This square is traditionally interpreted as a pessimistic interaction that could lead to hypercriticism -- but really, given the degree of intensity, who wouldn’t be pessimistic? From a positive perspective, this combination can serve as a sobering buoy amidst a stormy sea.

But it is Mars that poses the biggest challenge to stay afloat on these shifting seas. On July 9, Mars began a square to Pluto as well as an opposition to Uranus, forming a T-Square that culminates on July 17 and 18. T-Squares are laden with tension, and when they release, we experience their full effect. The energetic signature of the Uranus/Pluto square without the presence of Mars is revolution. Uranus and Pluto want to take it to the street. Mars easily agrees, and its famous need to lead, win, and get physical exacerbates ego conflicts, power struggles, and discord of every denomination. Keeping a cool head will require constant effort.

Navigating these waters successfully will require an abiding trust in the idea that positive solutions are possible even when we can’t see the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it’s enough to know that peace is the wisest choice.July 4, 2012

Welcome to the first week of what is likely to be a truly endless summer – but not because we’re catching the perfect wave. Quite the contrary; we’re entering many weeks of never-ending astral intensity, with all sorts of waves – physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual breaking in uneven patterns against the shores of daily life. As these erratic celestial rhythms collide with routine terrestrial agendas, there is a strong potential to be dragged under or pulled along by hidden riptides in a tumultuous sea of change. Yes…from a planetary perspective, it is that intense, but we don’t need the stars to prove it. All any of us need to do is witness our own lives and the lives of those we love. Just be aware, while these seas are intense, they are not necessarily negative; their rhythm may be unpredictable, but they are deep with creative potential for personal and planetary transformation.

For starters: Happy Mars Is No Longer In Virgo Day! Mars moved into Libra last night, ending its nearly 8-month sojourn through the detail oriented Sign of Virgo. Now, as it moves through Libra, it will focus on relationships, amplifying the urge to join with significant others, personal and professional, in the hope of finding a more perfect union. For those of you not interested in romantic arrangements, this emphasis is about relationships of every variety. But don’t confuse this Martian impulse toward partnering with a lack of personal ambition.

For the entire month of July, a Mars/Jupiter trine stirs a deep desire for success. Jupiter, the planet of expansion, is in Gemini, the Sign of communication, and its positive alliance with Mars, guarantees lots of talk, primarily political, but also personal, about what’s necessary for effective partnerships. Even the taciturn transform into eloquent raconteurs, as a Mercury/Uranus trine, with its potential for revolutionary thinking, amplifies this gift for gab. And because Mercury is in Leo and Uranus is in Aries, most of these exchanges are likely to be fiery and passionate. Be aware: Uranus goes retrograde on July 13, and Mercury goes retrograde on July 14. Yes…this is as intense as it sounds, and more about it next week. This week, make sure you back up everything on your electronic devices.

As the week unfolds, try not to succumb to “compassion fatigue” – a psychic state created by the recognition of just how much suffering exists in the world, and the consequent reduction of concern. Aung San Suu Kyi recently described this state in her Noble Peace Prize acceptance speech that she delivered 21 years after the prize was awarded. She also said that while she was under house arrest “the lesson of kindness…small or big” convinced her “that there could never be enough of it in the world.” These are such necessary words for those who choose compassion as an antidote for the violence and cruelty of ignorance. Given the blaring and seemingly endless conflicts we encounter everyday, everywhere, compassion fatigue surrounds us. Rather than succumb to what may be the most profound heart disease of our time, renew your efforts to reach out to your fellow travelers and offer shelter from the storm. According to Aung San Suu Kyi, “Kindness can change the lives of people.” (You can listen to her entire speech at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRYyEk-5zoI&feature=related)

June 27, 2012

Another week of potent planetary shifts translates into another powerful episode of life on planet Earth, and because these astral waves of change are so strong, some of us might actually feel the ground move. Don’t worry; I’m not predicting earthquakes. I’m simply suggesting that as the stars shift gears, we’re likely to experience emotional, mental, spiritual, and psychic tremors. Finding your equilibrium and keeping it in the midst of these transitions is essential to handling the flux. Also be aware that when worlds wobble, old routines are often replaced by new ones, and getting used to the different rhythm takes time as well as patience --children and seniors often have the hardest time adapting. Attitude adjustments are also necessary in the relationship realms, especially the universe of romantic liaisons. Couple that intensity with a dynamic need for personal freedom and Independence Day, at least for some of us, could take on a new significance.

Venus and Mars both play a crucial role in this week’s unfolding astro-drama. Retrograde since May 15, Venus goes direct today, and as she moves forward, we will continue to revisit relationship issues, but with two important differences: (1) As Venus moves ahead, the knots of persistent partnership issues that seemed tangled beyond repair will start to unravel. Just be prepared for certain solutions to be surprising. We’re under the influence of a Venus/Uranus sextile from now until July 15, and when the goddess of love partners with the god of unpredictable plot twists, stagnant situations often receive a much-needed bolt from the blue. It’s possible to fall in love in the blink of an eye under this configuration, but that doesn’t mean it will last. And the same is true for sudden urges for divorce.

(2) On July 3, Mars moves into Libra, the Sign of relationships, ending its nearly eight-month journey through Virgo. This is part of the reason the terrain of daily life feels as if it’s trembling; Mars has been grounded for a pretty long time in an Earth Sign devoted to details, and while it may have been a frustrating journey, many of us have grown accustomed to that landscape. Libra is an Air Sign, which means we are moving from the practical to the conceptual, and that elemental difference is going to disturb the psychic status quo. For most of us this shift is a welcome relief, but it does continue what seems to be an unrelenting astrological emphasis on relationships and relating. Most often Libra is understood as the Sign of marriage and professional partnerships – and it is – but the truth is everything is relational, and you can have an intense relationship with a group of people, an idea, a place, a meditation practice, or a bank balance.

As the week unfolds, it’s important to remember that we are also in the grip of the first exact Uranus/Pluto square, which includes an opposition to the Sun. This is a demanding, dynamic, fractious interaction that feeds a need – individual and collective – to release the shackles of ossified systems no longer capable of growth. The challenge of this square is ultimately one of relationship – our relationship to each other, to the planet we share with other species, and to the idea that all of us are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

June 20, 2012

Uranus/Pluto Square: Part Four

The planets align with increasing complexity this week, and as the routines of daily life mirror the sky, many of us are likely to feel overwhelmed by the attention required to handle the details with skill. Finding a way through the week without getting lost requires figuring out how to defy the gravity of conventional wisdom but not lose the solid ground of common sense. This challenge is not for anyone devoted to the “tried and true.” Much of what’s worked before isn’t working anymore (and actually hasn’t worked for a while), so the old excuse “this is the way it’s always done” doesn’t hold. But we’ve yet to create innovative, viable solutions to a seemingly endless stream of emergencies – and that’s a problem, especially as nervous systems struggle to stay steady. Don’t be surprised if you or someone close to you just can’t cope with a “normal” task. Be careful not to push yourself or those you love too hard – almost everyone is stretched to the limit, and honoring those limits will help to soothe the stress.

Several configurations contribute the complexity. Today, the summer solstice signals the start of a new season, and as the Sun enters Cancer, the focus shifts ever so slightly away from the intellectual pursuits of Gemini to the intuitive concerns Cancer. But it’s not a complete change of heart – Jupiter and Venus are still in Gemini pursuing information and conversation.

Saturn, retrograde in Libra since February 7 goes direct on Monday. For the next several months, as it moves through the last degrees of Libra, the Sign of relating, there will be ample opportunities to experience greater clarity about what we are hoping to give to and receive from significant others.

That clarity is strengthened when Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, goes direct the morning of June 27. Venus Retrograde focused on relationships, old and new, and as her review comes to a close, you might feel the impulse to make decisions about certain interactions. Be patient. Venus “turns around” in a sextile to Uranus, the planet of surprising plot twists, making a sudden change of heart probable. Allow this last week of her retrograde and the first week of her forward motion to unfold before you make any important decisions.

The core of this week’s intensity is the first exact square between Uranus and Pluto occurring on June 24. Uranus represents the freedom fighter; it’s currently in Aries, the Sign of the warrior, a position that amplifies its tendency toward aggression. Pluto represents death and rebirth; it’s currently in Capricorn, the Sign of authority, a position that amplifies its tendency toward control. As they clash through the forceful friction of a square, we’re in for an increasingly volatile process of transformation. Interactions between Uranus and Pluto facilitate progress toward social justice, but they also stir resistance toward that evolution. How we handle the push and pull of this potent struggle is yet to be seen. Will the Occupy movement gather enough momentum to challenge a system that only serves the very few – and finally persuade it to shift? Will reactionary members of the right continue to buy enough sound bites to turn fiction into fact? Will others on the left find a strong enough voice to galvanize positive action?

As the coming weeks unfold, try to keep in mind that each of us plays a role in creating solutions to the multitude of complex situations we’re currently facing. Every personal choice contributes to the collective outcome. Every heart has the power to make a difference.

June 13, 2012

Uranus/Pluto Square: Part Three

Restless astral winds agitate hearts and minds this week, stimulating a desire to break free from all constraints, real or imaginary, individual or collective. This yearning for freedom is certain to give birth to dramatic proclamations and ultimatums, and whether those announcements are personal or political, they are likely to include a litany of grievous behavior that will no longer be tolerated. Keep in mind that while many of these efforts to clear the air are sincere, they are also likely to be filtered through pent-up, predominantly negative emotions that need to see the light of day before any true transformation can occur. Rather than reacting to these toxic discharges, try to see beyond the sludge of bitterness, anger, or despair. To be sure, the victim’s lament can try the tolerance and patience of others, but there are real casualties in this world, and those stories need to be heard and seen through the ears and eyes of compassion – not blame – for the conduct and its consequences to truly heal.

The source of astral agitation is the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square, which will be exact to the degree and minute on June 24. For the last couple of weeks, this dynamic interaction has been within close enough range to be considered exact – only thirty or so astronomical minutes separate Uranus and Pluto. As they tighten their hold, the intensity of daily life has tightened its grip, squeezing crucial issues to the surface of consciousness. The effect of a hard aspect is usually seen when the planets start to move apart, but the nearly exact contact of this square persists through the entire summer until the second of the seven exact squares on September 19. It isn’t until mid-October that the tension releases and the effect starts to clarify – just in time for the elections in the United States in early November.

When Tip O’Neill coined the phrase “All politics is local” he was referring to the notion that voters tend to focus on local concerns rather than national issues. Given the current state of the world, it can be argued that local, national, and global concerns are no longer separated by distance, climate, or culture; global is the new local. But there are other ways to interpret his political wisdom. Local begins at the beginning, at home with all of our relations: family, friends, neighbors, pets, and even plants. We learn our values early and young, which is why changing attitudes and fighting prejudice is such hard work. Acquiring a more expansive worldview requires leaving behind the bias we learned as children. And that maturation often involves a change of heart. 

Focus the creative power of the Uranus/Pluto square on local transformation. You can’t preach peace and kick the dog. And while it’s true the world is drastically out of balance and in desperate need of creative solutions at every level, the place to start any lasting revolution is always at home. The world only changes one heart at a time.

June 6, 2012

A steady hum of constant conversation underscores almost every activity of daily life this week – and you won’t even have to listen closely to notice it. But because so much is being said by so many, you’ll have to listen carefully to catch the important information. It’s not that these conversations are generally disruptive, although some of them could be seen that way; it’s that they are packed with so much information that even the most fearless of data-gatherers and processors are apt to get dizzy from simply trying to keep track. Some of us may feel bombarded by a deluge of the trivial, while others of us will find themselves listening with sensitive ears that are able to pick up the deeper subtext. Wherever you find your ears along this frequency, do your best to find a neutral internal stance that allows you to hear without necessarily reacting to or judging what’s being said. Some of these conversations are nervous interactions meant to fill time. In some instances, you or those close to you could simply be discharging, oblivious to the power of words. At other times, some of us might simply be thinking out loud, which could be disconcerting for both the speaker and the listener if either one takes what’s said too seriously. And of course there will also be cases of serious heart-to-heart exchanges that will move the soul to a new, expansive understanding of just how complex it is to be a spirit in the material world.

The source of this celestial emphasis on conversation is a concentration of planets in Gemini, the Sign of communication. Although the astronomical “transit of Venus” is behind us, from an astrological perspective we’re still in the midst of a Sun/Venus conjunction that lasts until June 11. When the Sun and Venus share the same space, their perfect marriage blends the illumination of spirit with individual values. Anticipate lots of talk about what matters most, and why. Also expect that many of those conversations will veer into discussions on a wide range of subjects from the financial to the spiritual and everything in between. Anticipate plenty of opinions whether or not the “opinionator” is qualified to assess the situation. Of course, that seems to be the standard these days; do your best to be patient as you attempt to correct the facts.

Jupiter is the other contributor to the chatter, idle or otherwise. It enters Gemini on June 11, and its presence in the Sign of contact and connection is certain to set tongues wagging on every subject imaginable. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, and even though that will scatter the topics of conversation over a broad spectrum, because it also symbolizes the search for truth, many communiqués are also sure to be thoughtful.

Much of what’s said will also be funny. Among its many meanings, Jupiter also signifies humor, so be prepared for the laughs to be plentiful. And that’s a good thing, given the serious undertone of the Uranus/Pluto square – but more about that next week.

May 30, 2012

Uranus/Pluto Square: Part Two

The planets continue to speak boldly, and as their daring messages sweep across the skies, from horizon to horizon, daily life reverberates with increasing intensity. No one is exempt from this quickening, even those among us who are making great strides toward joy – their joyousness will only increase. The current celestial influences are amplifying all areas of human endeavor, and as we attempt to adjust to this period of change emotions are sure to run high. Don’t be surprised if you or those near to you are raw one moment and defended the next. And don’t be startled if you find yourself withdrawing from situations you would normally embrace – or embracing situations you might otherwise avoid. Give yourself permission to be authentic, and let that authenticity be your guide.

Several interactions continue to this increased level of intensity. We are still in the throes of Venus Retrograde, and as the goddess of love continues to revisit her recent past, so do we. Don’t despair if you’re dwelling on memories of springs past; be willing to recognize your part in it, and then, use those reflections to grow. Venus’ domain includes relationships of every conceivable denomination from lovers to friends to cousins to neighbors to pen pals to pets, so don’t limit yourself to amorous interactions.

On June 5 and 6, a rare astronomical event occurs – the transit of Venus – during which an actual Venus/Sun conjunction can be seen. It won’t happen again for another 105 years. (This particular event happens in pairs; the last one was on June 8, 2004. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-150) I’m not certain how to interpret this occurrence through an astrological perspective, but it makes sense to see it as a further illumination of Venus’ current position in Gemini, the Sign of communication. Ultimately, Gemini is about intimacy; twins are its symbol, and it is through day-to-day exchanges in our local environment that we learn to share our feelings and speak from the heart. When we are children, that means sharing with our family, and as we grow, our expanding environment includes friends, classmates, neighbors, and co-workers.

On June 4, a lunar eclipse occurs nearly one degree opposite the transit of Venus, at fourteen degrees Sagittarius. Lunar eclipses put the focus on practical matters, which means we can expect a lot of shared data (translation: shared feelings). Interestingly, during this eclipse, Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, occupies the degree at which Venus began her retrograde. Be clear and direct as you engage with others, and remember to listen just as carefully.

At an even deeper level of activity, we’re at the start of a nearly three-year sequence of interactions between Uranus and Pluto, the two most powerful astral agents of change, and their combined light illuminates a profound cycle of individual and collective transformation. There are no shortcuts through this inexorable portal of change, a condition that could make many of us anxious – even if what’s happening is positive and expansive. Try to quell that anxiety by remembering that the ultimate creative power is always in the present moment.

 

May 23, 2012

Uranus/Pluto Square: Part One

This week – and for many, many weeks to come – the planets remind us that history actually does repeat itself. But don’t confuse this cosmic repetition with the ongoing retrograde review of recent personal relationships patterns; that retrospective continues for another few weeks, and then recedes. The deeper repetitive pattern we’re in is part of a much older cycle, a cycle whose signature is rebellion and revolution, turmoil and disruption, and if we’re willing to learn from history, then it will be a cycle that provides a much deeper way of understanding our human situation. It’s a celestial dimension that adds new meaning to the cliché about living in “interesting times”: We’ve just entered a three-year cycle of seven exact squares between Uranus and Pluto that are certain to accelerate the already rapid pace of personal and collective transformation.

Astrology sees interactions among all the outer planets – Jupiter to Pluto – as repetitive patterns that make it possible to recognize specific collective cultural trends. From that perspective, all Uranus/Pluto interactions signify intense processes of change and revolution. Uranus represents a catalyzing force that disrupts the status quo. Pluto represents the principle of death and eventual rebirth. And when they interact, their combined presence manifests as dynamic and dramatic chain reactions that engender shifts in attitudes and action. The movements for civil rights, gender rights, and workers’ rights can all be identified as manifestations of Uranus/Pluto contacts.

The current series of squares began with a Uranus/Pluto conjunction that occurred from 1965 through 1966. The beginning of a cycle sets the tone for what will follow. The Sixties were a time of disruptive upheaval, as a deep desire for freedom moved many to search for new, creative answers to the same disturbing circumstances that always tend to mire us in the worst of what it means to be human: The need to exploit others on the basis of race, gender, religion, and economics. The violence of this exploitation can be seen as desperate attempts to assuage our existential anxiety by creating the illusion of safety through the delusion of superiority.

The first square takes place on June 24. On June 6, 1966, in Cape Town, South Africa, Bobby Kennedy delivered a Day of Affirmation Speech to the National Union of South African Students, in which he referenced the notion of living in “interesting times” and what is required of those who do. He calls those interesting times – nearly fifty years ago -- times of “danger and uncertainty” but also times that are “more open to creative energy” than “any other time in history.” His words still ring true.
 (http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/RFK-Speeches/Day-of-Affirmation-Address-news-release-text-version.aspx)

Many cultural paradigms shifted during the Sixties, but the crucial issues remain the same today. And because they do, the next several years of Uranus/Pluto squares are sure to inspire the movements for social justice. Those movements will reflect the current cultural syntax, but they will also express the same concerns about the well being of our fellow humans. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to contemplate how you want to respond to the challenge of those concerns. Remember: Our collective reality is created by our combined individual efforts.

 

May 16, 2012

The routines of daily life diverge from their normal rhythms this week, as several powerful celestial patterns continue to pull hearts, as well as minds, in diverse directions. This scattering of attention is sure to produce a peculiar psychic and/or emotional disequilibrium – but don’t worry about the tilt. Life isn’t wobbling completely out of control, even if there are moments when some of us are likely to feel overwhelmed by persistent situations that no matter how hard we try just won’t seem to “straighten out.” Truth is, the idea of getting anything “straight” is its own kind of challenge right now, given that we’re also in the thrall of an astral time warp, straddling past, present, and future realities, all at the same time. Balance is key to handling this astral flux, and while that might sound like a simple solution, finding and maintaining a steady internal stance in the midst of so many potent shifts requires a deep, perhaps even new, level of concentration and skill.

Three significant configurations contribute to this week’s wobble. First, Venus just began a retrograde phase on May 15 that lasts until June 27. Venus, the goddess of relationships, is retracing her recent path through Gemini, the Sign of information, which means many of us are revisiting data about our relationships or our relationship habits. We’ve been in this Venus intensive since the beginning of May, when Venus began her trine to Saturn – a positive alliance that lasts until the end of the month. Saturn is in Libra, the Sign of relating, and one of the Signs Venus rules. Because Saturn represents the principle of learning, many of us have been experiencing profound lessons in intimacy.

At its core,  Libra is the Sign where we attempt to embrace a process of learning how to relate to another human being as an equal without surrendering a sense of self or asking the other person to do the same. This is a difficult dynamic for many of us, especially when conditioning keeps us enslaved to unconscious patterns that often take the form of projections, making it nearly impossible to see the other person clearly. Staying conscious in the midst of old emotional patterns is among the most difficult personal work of all, and while the current relationship intensive may be exhausting, it is providing real opportunities for insight and growth.

A solar eclipse on May 20 exacerbates this intensive, as it reveals hidden patterns. During a solar eclipse, the New Moon overshadows the Sun, and from an astrological perspective, this “reversal” of light can be interpreted as the power of unconscious drives to overshadow conscious concerns, allowing previously withheld feelings, yours or others, to see the light of day. Eclipses distort time, so you or a partner may already be experiencing this heightened state.

The Uranus/Pluto square is also tightening its grip, and as we move closer to the first exact square, emotional reactions are sure to run high. So in addition to making “balance” your mantra, also try to choose kindness whenever possible. It will go a long way toward alleviating the tension of extreme reactions – yours or others’.

 

May 9, 2012

We’re under the influence this week, held in the sway of several powerful celestial forces, all of which manage to maintain the status quo: a consistent escalation of intensity, individual and collective, that isn’t ending anytime soon. (I know; just keep breathing, deeply.) Handling this acceleration is likely to challenge even the most conscious among us, especially over the course of the next few weeks as the stars emphasize partnerships of every denomination. Relationship issues are seldom simply easy, even when they work well. Eventually, every true meeting of the heart is certain to bring up differences. Whether those differences are political, emotional, financial, cultural, or spiritual, figuring out a skillful way to resolve the tension always takes a moment or two. And that’s the current task: Finding the cardio-resilience to make room for other, equally valid, points of view. Unfortunately, in times of stress many of us tend to revert to our default settings, standard emotional responses that no longer serve, yet seem like a safe bet if only because they’ve worked before. But given the current climate of transformation, those habituations could boomerang easily, especially if they override deeper, more authentic responses. Make every effort to stay conscious of where you might be reacting out of habit, and then do your best to move your response into present time.

Venus is at the epicenter of the intensity. The goddess of love and beauty still trines Saturn; she is in Gemini, the Sign of conversation, while Saturn, symbolizing knowledge born from experience, is in Libra, the Sign of relating. They are having a deep dialogue about alliances, which means many of us are also contemplating our personal and professional bonds. On May 15, Venus goes retrograde, and all week long, as she slows down in preparation for her “course correction,” certain areas of life are likely to feel stalled. She’s retrograde until June 27.

Venus Retrograde adds a deeper octave to the already ongoing relationship discussion, and as she revisits her path, it would be wise to revisit your patterns. The actual review doesn’t have to occur in person, but that being said, old lovers could get in touch, and they will definitely want to talk. The presence of Saturn will skew these exchanges toward the deep. Whether those tête-à-têtes will fan old embers or spark new flames is uncertain; what is clear, however, is that these dialogues provide opportunities for insightful intimacy. Gemini is also the Sign of siblings and cousins, which means several of these conversations could take place with family members.

And some of those Venus Retrograde conversations could be quite surprising. A solar eclipse on May 20 also occurs in Gemini, and because eclipses always tend to reveal hidden knowledge, and because Gemini just loves dispensing data, some of us may be saying or hearing things we always suspected were true but could never prove.

The best news is the continuing Sun/Jupiter conjunction, which is spreading its jovial light far and wide, supporting laughter as a potent remedy for healing hearts. Let this exuberant relationship enhance your heart’s resilience and keep you optimistic about your opportunities to transform.

May 2, 2012

The planets tilt the routines of daily life toward even greater intensity this week, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself increasingly skewed toward how things “should” be. These leanings could include opinions, decisions, or actions you never imagined you would embrace or embody; or, conversely, you might find yourself clinging to established positions with a fierce and poignant loyalty that refuses to be budged by reality. We’re in a process of transition, in preparation for an even longer process of transformation, and the next several weeks represent a “that was then, and this is now” threshold between what was, what is, and what will be. Figuring out how to move through these shifts is going to take skill. Transitions are often uncomfortable, especially when they require a change of mind or a change of heart – or both. Anticipate feeling vulnerable or exposed. Do whatever it is you do to protect yourself, but make sure you stay open to the potential for profound change. Personal pole shifts require courage, but they are almost always worth the energy and effort.

The astrological threshold we’re standing on opens into several years of squares between Uranus and Pluto, the two most powerful change agents in the astrological system. The first exact square is June 24, and while that sounds as if it’s too far in the future to have an effect right now, from the perspective of cosmic time, we’re already in it; Uranus and Pluto signatures are always present in times of revolution and evolution. Protest thrives under this influence, and as the next several months unfold, we are certain to see an increase in dissent. Expect those demonstrations to be more than political; personal revolutions are just as likely, as individuals chafe from restraints, real or imagined. Over the next several weeks, as this square tightens its grip, daily life will preview what needs to shift. Pay close attention to what you are resisting the most – that’s usually the first sign that something’s gotta give.

A Venus/Saturn trine adds a sobering and steady touch to the week. Venus is in Gemini, the Sign of communication. Saturn is in Libra, the Sign of relationships. And as they form a positive connection, we have opportunities to do the same, especially through conversations aimed at conveying important information. This trine supports heartfelt exchanges, but be careful not to be too blunt. And as always, consider your situation from the other person’s point of view before you make proclamations you might regret.

A Sun/Jupiter conjunction, in Taurus, provides an optimistic attitude that can also serve as a soothing balm to mounting tension. The core of this idealistic combination is joyous vitality. It also fosters humor. Laughter is the greatest medicine for the heart, so this week, when possible, lift your spirit by finding the funny – it’s almost always there.

April 25, 2012

It’s another week of planetary déjà vu so don’t be surprised if you feel as if you’ve been here (wherever that might be) before, or if you feel that you’re reading the very same column you read nearly two months ago. Mars is moving forward, and as a result we’re plowing through certain astral fields—again. But don’t let the familiarities or similarities fool you into thinking that this repeat performance is exact. There are too many variations on the theme to make it the “same old same old.” Pay careful attention to the details, as well as the differences, and use this time to make the necessary or desired course corrections. The skies are providing a strong current of positive energy, and as we are pulled along, there are real opportunities to make tangible progress toward your goals—whatever they may be. Just don’t expect instantaneous results. This dynamic signature occurs in Earth Signs, which are notorious for taking the appropriate amount of time to get the job done right.

The source of this powerful yet familiar pattern is a Grand Trine between the Sun, in Taurus, Mars, in Virgo, and Pluto, in Capricorn. We experienced a similar configuration in early March, when the gorgeous Venus/Jupiter conjunction, in Taurus, also formed a trine to both Mars and Pluto. While this week’s combination lacks the grace of Venus and the expansiveness of Jupiter, it is still extraordinarily vital, and has the potential to support whatever you are determined to bring into being. The planetary concentration in Earth Signs is the equivalent of a rich and fertile astral garden. The Sun and Mars provide the ambition, vigor, and determination to grow, and Pluto endows the entire bundle with the capacity to make exceptional efforts. You provide the seeds—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Make an extra effort to plant with a clear intention of what it is you want to grow. Also note: Pluto can tilt minds as well as hearts toward a ruthless attitude that wants success at any cost; the best way to avoid being sucked into a Plutonian vortex of fanaticism is to simultaneously cultivate a wholesome attitude toward the outcome.

As with any actual garden, those seeds will require careful tending: Sunlight, rain, and fertilizer are all necessary components for a successful harvest. So as you are planting your seeds, try to assess how much work will be necessary for your astral garden to grow. In some cases, all that’s necessary is a strong and clear intention. In others instances, a bountiful harvest is dependent upon time and energy. And in cases of collaboration, success relies on a combination of factors, some known and others often surprising. Whatever your personal garden plan might be, try to include an openhearted patch that grows genuine compassion and concern for the well being of your fellow travelers.

April 18, 2012

How do you spell “relief”? M-a-r-s D-i-r-e-ct. And how do you spell “be careful what you wish for”? A week of such rapid acceleration in almost every sector of life, that simply catching your breath will feel like a major accomplishment. Okay, I’m exaggerating—slightly—and as I wrote last week, Mars takes more than a moment to gain forward traction. But as the week unfolds, many of us are going to feel as if the sluggish, poky local train of regular routines has turned into a swift high-speed rail express. Concentration, determination, and mindfulness are the keys to keeping your “vehicle” on track. Distractions will abound, especially as everyone—even the animals—experiences the shift in pace. Interruptions will also be frequent—everybody, especially children—are likely to need assurance that all is well. Of course it is, primarily because even as the intensity intensifies, and nervous systems shudder from the shifts, beneath the astral hustle and bustle the planets are also providing a solid grounded foundation. As always in times of transition, set your internal compass on steady. And when possible, encourage and help your fellow travelers to do the same.

A Mercury/Uranus conjunction sets nervous systems on fire this week. Mercury, recently released from its retrograde review, entered Aries on April 16, where it immediately formed a conjunction with Uranus. Mercury symbolizes the mind, Uranus represents innovation, and when they share the same space, their perfect union engenders intellectual flexibility. This conjunction also produces a strong intuition, as well as a heightened capacity for conceptualization. Also anticipate a strong need for conversation; so many ideas are likely to strike you as more than a little interesting, you could find yourself talking to anyone who will listen—friend or stranger. What’s more, because both planets represent movement, you are likely to also need more than the normal amount of exercise and activity. But that’s not all: Mercury and Uranus were also conjunct from March 3 through March 23, which includes the first half of the recent Mercury Retrograde; don’t be surprised if you find yourself revisiting circumstances set in motion at that time.

And the déjà vu continues: Mars, transiting Virgo since November 2011, turns around at the position it occupied in mid-November, and as it does, some of us are likely to be revisiting situations, issues, and themes set in motion last year. As Mars gains forward momentum it will move through Virgo quickly, entering Libra on July 3, which I will formally dub “Mars Declares Independence From Virgo Day.”

Fortunately, Mars Direct also provides a solid foundation for daily life. As Mars turns around, it trines the Sun, a positive, powerful configuration that fully blossoms when the Sun enters Taurus on April 19. This trine signifies vitality, and because Taurus and Virgo are both Earth Signs, it fosters strong urges to get everything done. For the next several weeks, we are out of the retro-zone. (Venus goes retrograde on May 15, but that turn around seems light years away.) At the moment, there is no need to put anything on hold.

April 11, 2012

Listen closely and you’ll hear the sky shouting, “Earthlings, start your engines.” And don’t be surprised if you also hear a roar of approval resounding through the ethers. Just don’t let the antsy excitement of days prior to Mars Direct – Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – fool you into false starts that might waste time and disqualify you from the actual “event.” Bide your time, and wait until Saturday when the final stretch of a nearly twelve-week Mars Retrograde is over, to put your bodies (and everything else) in motion. Mars “turns around” very late in the day on Friday, April 13, and these last few days of practiced restraint could irritate nervous systems, especially those already fried from trying to be as patient as possible. Most, if not all of us, are more than willing to put an end to the constant culling from the past and enter into new territory. So hold on for just a few more cosmic moments; relief really is in sight.

But nothing is simple, not even the end of a Mars Retrograde, for as Mars goes direct it’s likely to generate rhythmic disturbances, sending ripples through the regular routines of daily life. Don’t forget, many of us adapted to its “backward” motion – and got used to it. Now, as Mars moves forward, “normal” is going to shift, again, and that’s sure to take some getting used to. Mars punctuates this entire adjustment period by taking its time – a week or so – to gather momentum; so don’t be surprised if you feel suspended in time.

A Sun/Saturn opposition, while not directly related to Mars, exacerbates pre and post Mars Direct irritations this week. All Sun/Saturn contacts carry a serious signature, and this opposition, with the Sun, in Aries, and Saturn, in Libra, symbolizes the tension between the need to push ahead and the desire to weigh the consequences before taking action. Notice where you’re feeling willful, and rather than resent Saturn’s challenge, use it as a gauge. Not every impulse needs to be satisfied. Focus Saturn’s sobering intensity on projects that need precision.

Mars Retrograde turned the first three months of 2012 into an invitation (of sorts) to identify and confront persistent issues that previously seemed to evade a true process of transformation. And while many of us are still unconscious or in denial (I’m not naming any names – just sayin’.), many more of us found the courage to confront deeply entrenched patterns, even if that confrontation meant facing demons, both internal and external. Of course, there is always more work to be done, but that knowledge doesn’t diminish the work of the moment.

As Mars gathers forward-momentum over the coming weeks, it will provide plenty of opportunities to rebuild and replenish personal reservoirs of stamina, strength, and confidence. Use this time wisely by making your keyword “authenticity.” Align with the bravery of Mars and show up for your situation, whatever it might be. Conscious participation at every level of life is the positive key to so many of the problems we face, personal as well as collective. And also be aware that Virgo, where Mars has lingered for so long and will continue to traverse for the next several months, has the power to reveal the true interconnectedness of life, the ecosystem that underlies all of our interactions – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

April 4, 2012

For the next several weeks, the planets are rearranging their positions, providing a rare opportunity to experience the Wheel of Life in motion. And although it can be argued that this great karmic turning is always taking place, we seldom have a chance to witness as well as experience its recalibration so potently. Many of us could feel pulled in a new direction, as if caught by mighty undercurrents and powerless to override their strength. Others, compelled by new inspiration and aspiration, could experience an overwhelming desire to set their personal course toward what previously felt unachievable. Still more are likely to feel their feet on the ground for the first time in what has seemed like too long, and that groundedness is sure to give birth to a new sense of purpose and enterprise. Wherever you find yourself along this spectrum of adjustment, know that you are in process. The current astral rotation occurs in its own time, and there is no pushing it to hurry up nor negotiating with it to slow down.  

Mercury Retrograde ended on April 4, at 6:11 a.m. EDT. (I can hear that sigh of relief.) Mars Retrograde ends on April 13, at 11:52 p.m. EDT. (I can feel the anticipation.) But that doesn’t mean that either planet will gain forward momentum quickly. Mercury takes until Monday to resume its normal quicksilver pace. Mars takes much longer; it won’t be up to its competitive capacity until the end of the month. So continue to be patient and don’t expect any one area – especially the area you most need to budge – to move at a satisfying rate.  

The last several months of retrograde review, reflection, and reconsideration have been uncomfortable and disconcerting for several reasons. Mars, retrograde in Virgo, focused on details that couldn’t be overlooked or finessed, no matter how huge the effort to sweep them under the carpet. Mercury Retrograde amplified that Martian review, and added the extra element of instability, as Uranus helped to spotlight stagnation and atrophy. If you haven’t identified that one persistent repetitive pattern—or what I like to call the karmic red thread—that has held you hostage to patterns you’ve tried repeatedly to transform, keep looking. Use the forward, yet deliberate pace of the next few weeks to isolate that theme. Many of us have experienced it as that one issue of truth that must be faced. For some, that thread appears to be financial, but don’t be fooled by surface appearances; money could symbolize deeper issues of personal worth. For others, the theme is all about betrayal, but again, penetrate the depths of your despair, and be willing to explore your role in the dynamic. For even more, the retrograde red thread been deeply emotional, surfacing issues of longing for connection and meaning through love, home, and safety, as well as the longing to be seen and received fully by family, friends, or lovers. From a spiritual perspective, many have simply yearned for the deeper truth of the heart.

Mostly retrogrades are about frustration, especially when Mercury and Mars—the two planets that drive the mechanics of daily life are both in “reverse.” But nothing that occurs in the sky is ever solely about superficial indications. The shifts of the coming weeks allow all of us an opportunity to witness what occurs when individual responses to persistent personal themes coalesce into a collective mood. Gather your strength and hold true to your vision of what’s possible, and continue to put your soul power to the karmic wheel.

March 28, 2012

Past, present, and future merge in frequent déjà vus, this week, so frequent, in fact, that you’re sure to feel as if you’ve been “here” as well as “there” before. And chances are you have – just not in this dimension. Pay attention: It’s hard to know where memory, imagination, and prognostication meet this week. The planets are moving along diverse pathways, and while some of the planetary interactions display their power directly, others are subtle with nuance. Riding these different currents will require skill. Some of us are likely to feel as if history is repeating itself – and it is. Others could lose their balance, as routine reality morphs into the Dreamtime, causing psychological or emotional vertigo and dislocation. But for most of us, the challenge lies in figuring out how to hold onto a strong sense of personal direction as we simultaneously find the heart to be patient with our fellow travelers and with ourselves.

The dual Mercury and Mars Retrogrades are at the core of this dimensional convergence. Mercury ends its retrograde on April 4, and oddly, it goes direct exactly at the degree that Mars began its retrograde on January 23. This shared position is likely to have many of us revisiting events related to that specific time, particularly when it comes to travel, communication, contracts, and negotiations – all categories within Mercury’s vast domain. Don’t be surprised if you receive emails, text messages, or even packages sent to you or by you long before Mercury began its retrograde on March 12.

As Mercury starts to slow down this week in preparation for its “turn-around,” daily life is certain to slow to a crawl. And while that’s “normal” for the end of any Mercury Retrograde, this particular course correction could feel even more frustrating, because Mars is also slowing down in preparation for its turn-around on April 14. (Technically, it’s April 13, but so late in the day, it might as well be the next day. All of the sticklers about details please forgive my latitude.) By next week we will start to feel the undertow of Mars finally ending its review.

But Mars still plays a distinctive role in creating the multidimensional currents of the week: It opposes Neptune, in Pisces, an interaction that tends toward hypersensitivity. Be prepared to feel out of sorts, and anticipate a strong desire to self-medicate. This opposition has the potential to open up psychic channels, but that potential also carries the possibility of getting lost in assumptions, imaginary or actual.

It’s yet another week of learning to live comfortably in uncertainty, but don’t be surprised if it’s an opportunity you’d rather not take advantage of. Not only are we dealing with flashbacks and/or flash-forwards, we are also dealing with power issues, as the ongoing Sun/Pluto square turns exact and separating on March 29. Be prepared for everyone to want to be in control of everything. Also anticipate politics turning even more vitriolic—if that’s possible. The best way through these waves is to find your center of gravity and to hold on to it. So do whatever it is you do to stay centered, and then help those around you to do the same.

March 21, 2012

Don’t be surprised if you or those around you are speaking in harsher tones. Planetary patterns strike a strident chord this week. Gone is the soothing, throaty voice of Venus, who “speaks low when she speaks love.” She’s pulled away from her perfect union with Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto, and as she separates, her dulcet tones lessen (yes, I really miss her presence), causing hearts to grow less fond and interactions to turn more aggressive. Also be prepared for increasingly jarring interruptions and intrusions that fray nervous systems already overloaded from the intensity of the dual retrograde of Mercury and Mars. But that’s not all. Nervous systems are also challenged by unpredictable shifts of circumstance, some of which manifest as complete reversals of fortune (some for better, some for worse), and some that are simply breathtakingly senseless. It’s not an easy week. But it’s still possible to skillfully navigate the days and nights, especially if you’re willing to be kind, first.

Not only is Venus ending her brief and powerful participation in the Grand Trine between Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto, but Mars, still retrograde until April 14, is also pulling away, and as a result, the vim and vigor of the last few weeks–the “I can do anything” attitude–is dissipating. Remember, Mars has been retrograde in Virgo since January 23. (I know—who could forget?) And since that time we have been reviewing the details of things set in motion since mid-November, 2011. Don’t be surprised if you start to experience retrograde fatigue during these final weeks. Mars thrives on motion, and three months of Mars moving behind instead of ahead is taking a toll on even the most patient among us.

Mercury Retrograde is also upon us, but the good news is that this retrograde continues to be anything but normal. While the snafus associated with a retrograde are still likely to occur, the stagnant “why won’t anything move?” signature is missing. Lots of things are moving–even things you wish would hold still. And that’s because Uranus dominates how the retrograde plays out–at least for this week. Uranus is conjunct Mercury, in Aries, and on March 20, the Sun joined forces with both Mercury and Uranus, as it moved into Aries, signaling the start of spring.

Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication. Uranus represents innovation and invention. The Sun signifies the fire of life. And when all three combine in an astro mélange a trois, nobody and nothing is moving backward. Period. Especially not in Aries, the fiery Sign of forward motion and irrepressible action. This powerful alliance is sure to stir strong desires for reform and revolution of all sorts, not just political, although protests for freedom are likely to surge in frequency and intensity. Also expect personal protests, in the form of divorce or defiance. This triple conjunction inspires the need to break free from whatever enslaves, whether the shackles that bind are real or imaginary.

As you work your way through the week, do your best to make kindness your first response. It’s easy to forget, especially when the air is charged with revolution, that we are all in this caldron of change together.

March 14, 2012

Throw out the retrograde rulebook, seize the creative moment, and do your best to get comfortable with the idea of moving free-form through the routines of daily life. This week, we’re all making it up as we go along. And while the co-creative power of every moment always determines reality, the knowledge of that power usually rides beneath the surface of normal consciousness and regular routines. But not this week—so many potent moments play out simultaneously that even your multidimensional beanies with the special antennae won’t capture enough bandwidth to handle the potential for extraordinary experiences. I know…I sound like I am exaggerating, but this is the week to err on the side of wishful thinking. So think big rather than small, and visualize what it is you want to bring into manifestation. Then focus on all the details necessary to give birth to your dreams.

Both Mercury and Mars are retrograde, but even as they seemingly move behind instead of ahead, they are busy—really, really busy—and their hustle and bustle nullifies a large portion of the normal retrograde sluggishness. For those of you new to Mercury Retrograde, because Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication and travel, conventional astrological wisdom views retrograde phases as great opportunities to review the details of what’s already in motion and to refrain from starting anything new. But Mercury’s current position defies that warning: Mercury is conjunct Uranus, the planet of revolution; both are in Aries, the Sign of exploration; and their united presence is a powerful combination for ingenious innovation. This is a direct celestial invitation to “think different.” By the weekend, but especially by the start of the workweek and on the vernal equinox, the Sun joins this dynamic duo, and its light intensifies the need for intellectual freedom as it simultaneously amplifies the need for personal freedom. Be prepared to move, quickly, in all areas of your life, and let stagnation become a thing of the past.  

But the purely creative beauty of the week is a Grand Trine between Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Pluto, all in Earth Signs and all coalescing into a benign configuration that supports the potential to manifest the heart’s desire. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, is already forming a perfect union with Jupiter, the planet of expansion; both are conjunct in Taurus, where they are happily fostering harmonious environments and joyous attitudes. The benefits of this radiant coupling are amplified by their trine to Mars, in Virgo, a positive combination that supports artistic endeavors. And despite the Mars Retrograde signature, which could signify a delay in the actualization of creative efforts, the entire configuration indicates the potential for success. But that’s not all. Venus, Jupiter and Mars also trine Pluto, in Capricorn, and that’s what super-charges the entire bundle. Pluto supplies the extraordinary power to tackle big plans and projects, and its presence makes possible all sorts of success.

Use this beneficent Grand Trine to visualize joy, yours or others, and don’t despair if it takes more than a moment to actualize those visions. This Grand Trine is in Earth, the astrological element that persists in its endeavors until the mission is accomplished.

March 7, 2012

It’s a wacky week, here on Planet Earth, with so many ups and downs and back-and-forths that simply surviving the multidimensional psychic flux requires surrendering any notion of “normal.” The planets are challenging the status quo, and as a result, many situations as well as states of mind regularly taken for granted simply evaporate at the touch (a condition that continues for the next several weeks). The good news is that life is exciting. But it’s also exhausting, especially as the constantly changing terrain makes it feel as if nothing is “for sure.” Learning to live comfortably in a state of uncertainty is always a huge challenge to hearts as well as minds. And for the next several weeks (really, several months) many of us will be facing just such a challenge as we work our way through an elaborate maze of personal and planetary transformation.

The epicenter of the wackiness is Uranus, in Aries, conjunct Mercury, also in Aries, as Mercury prepares to go retrograde on March 12. Uranus, the planet of sudden shifts, is infamous for catalyzing stagnant patterns. Mercury, the planet of all things mental, includes within its vast domain language, communication, commerce, and travel. During a retrograde phase, as Mercury seemingly retraces its path, regular routines go slightly screwy, especially this retrograde which runs currently with the ongoing Mars Retrograde. Mercury’s retro-review process is often experienced as interference, tangible and intangible, which poses problems in the invisible realms, as well as the actual day-to-day reality. Be prepared for everything from hardware to software, cell phones to landlines, Twitter to parcel post to experience snafus. Back up everything. Then, back it up again.

But also be prepared for Uranus to turn this retrograde into something completely different. First, we haven’t had to wait for the exact start of Mercury Retrograde to feel its effect – some people think it started last week. What’s more, Uranus is such a powerful force for innovation that even expecting the unexpected won’t be enough preparation for what we are likely to witness during the coming week, as many of us experience complete reversals of attitudes and goals. Don’t be dismayed if you’re tempted to ignore the Mercury Retrograde warning not to start anything new, and instead, feel the desire and passion to simply follow your bliss. Aries is the Sign of the pioneer, after all, and when Uranus stimulates that already adventurous spirit, the impulse to act is likely to override any warning to stay put.

The urge to move is also motivated by a unique grand trine between a Venus/Jupiter conjunction, in Taurus, Mars (and just for today, the Moon conjunct Mars, in Virgo), and Pluto, in Capricorn, all in Earth Signs, and all working together to help support extraordinary accomplishments, individual and collective. This grand trine is quite brilliant – literally, you can already see the Venus/Jupiter conjunction in the night sky. The power of this radiant configuration cannot be stifled, controlled, or curtailed. It symbolizes the power of the heart and the fundamental joy of love. Use it to manifest your heart’s desire, and to stand strong on the ground of what really matters most to you.

February 29, 2012

Start your backups, now. And don’t procrastinate. On March 12, Mercury begins its first retrograde phase of 2012, a phase that lasts until April 4 and a phase that runs concurrently with the continuing Mars Retrograde (which we already know doesn’t end until ten days later, on April 14). Because Mercury and Mars drive the mechanics of daily life, we tend to feel the effect of their simultaneous retrogrades quite keenly – so keenly, that non-believers often convert into astrological zealots. Mercury represents travel, transportation, commerce, and every little thing related to communication. Mars signifies mobility and movement, from moods to muscles to meetings. When they both seemingly travel in reverse, life on Earth resembles an obstacle course of technicalities and trivialities. Patience is a must during any retrograde phase, but especially this one. Skins, already thin from the grueling, yet subtle, effect of the last six weeks of Mars Retrograde, are likely to grow increasingly sensitive over the course of the coming weeks, as Mercury Retrograde kicks in.

While most of us know the Mercury Retrograde drill – review, reflect, and reconsider plans and projects already in motion – this Mercury Retrograde has a unique signature. Mercury goes retrograde in a conjunction to Uranus – a dynamic interaction that begins this week and continues for the first three weeks of March. I love this conjunction because it symbolizes the ability to “think different.” Uranus signifies invention, independence, and revolution; it catalyzes whatever is stagnant and in need of a creative shift. When it combines with Mercury, it stirs mental processes that help the mind to free itself from the shackles of convention. Until the retrograde begins on March 12, this conjunction is going to have minds moving at a breakneck pace. Just don’t lose sight of the speed bumps ahead. By March 9, as Mercury starts to slow down in preparation for its “turn-around,” many creative excursions could run into roadblocks.

This week, we are in the grip of a Sun/Mars opposition that is exact and separating on Saturday, which means we will be feeling its presence well into the beginning of the next workweek. This is a tense interaction that fuels egos and then temper tantrums as a way of assuaging frustrated ambitions. Unless it is really worth fighting over, just let it go – it will be good practice for the coming weeks, when frustration levels are certain to be challenged. Mars doesn’t make direct contact with Mercury during their shared retrogrades, but we will still feel its assertive presence.

Use this week for preparation. Back up everything, and don’t forget to include your tax information. Most importantly, do whatever it is you do to maintain an even keel, and if at all possible, help your fellow travelers to do the same.

February 22, 2012

Signs are everywhere this week, and they aren’t all astrological. A wide range of rich symbols are likely to materialize out of the blue, in all sorts of settings, and because their presence feels synchronistic, it would be hard not to think of them as messages from a living universe. Pay attention to who or what crosses your path. And don’t worry about missing the signals; they are plentiful, from red tail hawks in the park to baby lizards in the desert to a song that seems to be playing everywhere. The only work involved is figuring out what these messages might mean. If you need assistance, get your multidimensional beanie out of the closet, dust off the special antennae used for ET communiqués, and set your dials on receive. (Those of you new to this technique: simply imagine your favorite hat, add a set of TV ears on top, and you’re good to go.) Just be aware: You’ll need a strong set of filters. Intense emotions are part of the package, which might make it hard to discern the difference between what you’re feeling and what others may be transmitting.

The source of this heightened awareness continues to be a concentration of planets in Pisces. First, the ongoing Sun/Neptune conjunction is still transforming empathy into psychic intuition. This conjunction tends to manifest as super-receptivity, another reason why good filters are a must. Pisces is the Sign of melting boundaries, and when that urge to merge is amplified by Neptune, its Ruling Planet, the capacity to melt into another person is breathtaking. And that goes for the potential to get lost in situational merging as well. Under this influence, it’s possible to be so susceptible to suggestion that you take on the prevailing mood of those around you, without even noticing that you’ve lost your center.

Mercury is also in Pisces, and because Mercury symbolizes the mind and all its activities, its presence in Pisces is sure to be felt as intensified and inspired imagination. Allow yourself to dream, and don’t be afraid to dream big. The only problem with Mercury’s position is that it opposes Mars, retrograde in Virgo, an interaction that could lead to a restless, nervousness that spends itself as an argumentative attitude. This opposition lasts until Sunday, so do your best to avoid quarreling just for the sake of it.

As you attempt to receive and make sense of the signs this week, be careful not to get caught in Neptune’s illusions or delusions, which could feel real, but might only be familiar, unconscious projections. Instead, allow the psychic sway to facilitate a deep spiritual conversation — a dialogue with the invisible realms that enlivens your ability to see a different and perhaps more transformative perspective.

February 15-21, 2012

Don’t be surprised if your psychic cilia quiver with intensity this week – all the extra features of your personal intuitive antennae are likely to be working overtime in an effort to cope with a highly sensitive environment. Celestial interactions are stirring deep pools of psyche, and because those pools contain imprints from previous experiences, confusing memory for reality is probable. But it’s not just projection that dominates perception. Dreams and other inspired stories of the soul could have a visceral effect that would make it easy to mistake fiction for fact and illusions for actualities. Being able to recognize nuance is also essential, especially when handling certain tender situations. The inability to distinguish degree or tone could cause some of us to get lost in space, freeze from anxiety, or feel a deep sense of dislocation. Fortunately, the planets support staying grounded in the midst of this super sensitivity, no matter how expansive our personal or collective altered states might be.

Neptune is the main contributor to this week’s sensitive skin. On February 3, it moved into Pisces, its Home Sign, a position that amplifies the quality of empathy shared by both Neptune and Pisces. It also enhances that Piscean capacity to feel the deeper pulse hidden beneath the beat of surface reality. On February 19, the Sun also moves into Pisces, where it forms a conjunction with Neptune for the first time in approximately 150 years. Of course Sun/Neptune conjunctions have happened in other Signs over the course of Neptune’s 165-year orbit around the Sun (and therefore around the zodiac belt), but a Sun/Neptune conjunction in Pisces hasn’t happened since 1861. It’s a significant astral moment that has the power to stimulate a deep desire for mystic reverie. But be aware that this conjunction can also quicken a susceptibility to suggestion; be careful who and what you watch or listen to – you just might find yourself indiscriminately parroting the most recent input.

Saturn trines Neptune, and because Saturn’s natural tendencies lean toward the sober assessment of almost all situations, it can help to tether some of the more imaginative (dare I say “spacey?”) Neptunian musings. Use Saturn’s practical and pragmatic sensibility to keep your feet on the ground.

But no matter how strong Saturn’s pull might be, Neptune’s undertow is sure to be stronger. First, Mercury is also conjunct Neptune until Friday, a configuration that skews minds toward an over active intuition that can be easily distorted by projection and fantasy. (Mercury and Neptune are both infamous as astro-tricksters.) And second, by Tuesday, a new Moon, in Pisces, hits the reset button on emotional sensitivity, a condition that could send already overactive psychic cilia into spasm.

February 8-14, 2012

Passions run deep this week, and hearts long for the thrill of amorous adventures – an astral current befitting the days and nights leading up to the holiday of love. And because Uranus skews many of those feelings toward the eclectic, it would be wise to expect unconventional and imaginative ways of saying, “I love you.” But these fervent feelings are not limited solely to romantic longings. Those among us who are not inclined toward sending flowers or chocolates on Valentine’s Day, as well as those not pining for a partner or tormented by lost or unrequited love, could experience this passionate stream as creative surges. And those surges could be just as captivating and convincing as love-at-first-sight adrenalin rushes, because they have the force and spontaneity to displace habit and routine. Allow yourself to be swept away, and you just might discover or recover a piece of your heart that you didn’t even know was missing.

The source of this ardent energy is a Venus/Uranus conjunction, in Aries. Venus is the goddess of love, and when she transits Aries, she has a tendency to be direct about what she needs and wants. She also has a tendency to be impulsive, especially when she’s infatuated, which happens quite often and quite quickly. Uranus represents sudden shifts; it is the principle of revolution and change, and because of that it signals instability. This is why any combination of Venus and Uranus turns feelings of love erratic. But that’s not all. Venus and Uranus contacts are also deemed erotic. So don’t be surprised if you feel a strong desire to explore – if only in your fantasies. Polite astrologers of bygone days have always referred to the erotic yearnings of Venus/Uranus as “peculiar and strange inclinations.” These days, given just how much exposure most of us have had to all sorts of choices, it would be hard to define any inclination as odd. (Individualistic, perhaps, but odd – not really.)

But there is a rub: Connections formed under Venus/Uranus contacts don’t often last; it’s the infatuation that’s thrilling, not the possibility of longevity. If you must propose under this influence, go ahead, but wait a few weeks before actually saying, “I do.”

Of course, Uranus is the master of surprise, and because it only catalyzes what’s stagnant and in need of change, those who have avoided intimacy could find themselves moving out of seclusion and into inclusion and interaction. And while that sudden immersion in connectedness might feel awkward at first, the trick to handling this type of Uranian shift is staying as present as possible for the process.

From a creative perspective, the Venus/Uranus conjunction is sure to stimulate all variety of artistic endeavors, especially if you allow yourself to move out of habitual choices. Try a different tonal range or a different palate. Listen to new instruments, and experiment with unusual rhythms. Most importantly remember that life is the most creative expression of all and use the vibrant combination of Venus and Uranus to live with greater gusto. Be innovative, inventive, and willing to make the most of the moment, regardless of how fleeting its magic may be.

February 1-7, 2012

The Retro-Zone: Part 3

Daily life marches to an erratic beat this week, and as regular routines bend to unfamiliar rhythms, nervous systems are likely to strain from the stress of trying to adapt and adjust. Expect to be discombobulated, especially as time takes on a noticeable elasticity — some minutes seem to extend forever, while others blow by at the speed of light. Certain situations also seem to have a similar plasticine quality — some relationships feel as deep as the sea, while others seem as if they could disintegrate at the touch. This time distortion, coupled with the ongoing (and soon to be interminable) Mars Retrograde, has the potential to drive the efficient multi-tasker a touch mad, particularly if she is attempting to juggle several equally important missions. The best way to handle the pace, whether it’s thrilling or agitating, is to breathe deeply, and then to breathe again. And once you can feel your toes, try to remember that no matter how disconcerting the air may feel, it is actually possible to use time warps to your advantage.

The source of this week’s irregular pulse stems from the movement of Saturn as well as Neptune. (Oddly, it’s not Uranus.) And because Saturn represents the solid ground of reality, and Neptune signifies the fluid stream of consciousness, it’s the contrast between their sharply delineated domains that stirs the disturbance in personal and collective psyches. Saturn begins a retrograde phase on February 7 that lasts until June 25, and this week, as it “decelerates” in preparation for its “course correction,” a similar slow-down is likely to occur somewhere in your personal life. Saturn is in Libra, which means that some of the deceleration will occur in relationships. For some, that spells relief from constant friction or restlessness. For others, Saturn Retrograde could manifest as increased frustration, particularly when it feels as if others are failing to meet expectations. Be aware: Saturn Retrograde is an opportunity to review relationships, old and new, including and most importantly your relationship with yourself, and to make whatever adjustments are necessary or possible.

The more significant shift is Neptune’s entry into Pisces on February 3; it will stay in Pisces until 2026. It takes Neptune approximately 165 Earth years to orbit the Sun, which means it transits all twelve Signs of the zodiac during that time. It hasn’t been in Pisces since 1848. Neptune is the Ruler of Pisces, and when any planet transits its Home Sign, its qualities are concentrated and amplified. Pisces, and Neptune symbolize all altered states of consciousness, from the lowest states of drug and alcohol addicted states to the ecstatic states of mystical bliss – all driven by the desire to neutralize separation. So it wouldn’t be surprising for addictive appetites, both old and new to be stirred, especially at the beginning of this phase, or for meditation practices to gain increased popularity.

There’s no simple remedy for the intensity of this week’s astral shifts other than to embrace them: Allow the Mars Retrograde to focus on the details, the Saturn retrograde to refine your relationships, and Neptune’s entry into Pisces to feed your need for spiritual connection.

January 25-31, 2012

The Retro-Zone: Part 2

Nothing moves quickly this week, so put aside expectations of immediate results and instead spend some time adjusting your personal pace to a slower, more deliberate and sometimes hesitant beat. Mars, the planet that symbolizes motion, is seemingly moving behind, instead of ahead, and it’s the first of several planets to place us in the 2012 Retro-Zone. When astrologers say a planet is “retrograde” they mean that it appears to be moving backwards in the sky relative to Earth’s orbital position around the Sun. And although we know retrograde motion is an illusion, the effects often feel all too real. Any planetary retrograde phase is about review, reflection, and reconsideration, and because Mars symbolizes action, many of us will be revisiting a wide variety of previous choices. Unfortunately, neither retrospection nor introspection is a Martian strong suit so don’t be surprised if you’re resistant to examining past decisions. The biggest problem is likely to be frustration, yours and others’, as daily life turns into an obstacle course of second-guessing and changing plans. Be sure to set your personal compass on “patience” – we’re all going to need plenty of it to handle the Martian fall out.

Mars Retrograde began on January 23 and continues through April 14. (It actually goes direct close to midnight on April 13.) Approximately every two-plus-years, Mars goes retrograde for approximately two or three months. Mars symbolizes muscle in all its forms, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. For some, that translates into athletics and competition; for others, it’s about heart; for even more, the presence of Mars is experienced as ambition and the need to succeed. From a spiritual perspective, Mars signifies self-actualization, and is best understood as the arms and legs of the ego. Mars is the principle that allows us to differentiate from others and to individuate. It takes Mars 687 Earth days to orbit around the Sun. Add in the time of its retrograde phase, and every two or so years each of us experiences a Mars Return, when it returns to the position it occupied at our moment of birth. The first Mars Return occurs when we’re two years old; it’s the astrological explanation for the terrible twos, when we start saying “no.” And what we mean by that “no” is “I am not you.”

During the next several months of Mars Retrograde, we’re likely to hear a lot of “no’s,” particularly in the political arena, as more and more people regress to the terrible two’s and tantrums replace statements of policy. But Mars Retrograde is also just as likely to inspire mature resistance, and its power is best demonstrated by the ability to take a stand. Given the multitude of injustices in the world that require a strong united “no”, the next few months of Mars Retrograde could inspire an abundance of protests and demonstrations.

As the coming weeks unfold, merging your personal stride with the retrograde rhythm will take skill. And there’s no need to hurry; we’re only in the first week of a many month/many planet retrograde expedition, a celestial trek that’s likely to require almost constant tweaking to find the right attitude, inside and out.

January 18-24, 2012

The Retro-Zone: Part 1

We’re entering the Retro-Zone this week (and if this column came with sound effects, you’d hear the theme from The Twilight Zone or the sci-fi ringtone on the iPhone as you read along). On January 23, Mars begins a review that is the first in a series of planetary retrogrades that will last for nearly eight months. (I heard that “ouch.”) As each of the inner planets — Mars, Mercury, and Venus — makes a retrospective journey, it won’t even be a stretch to think of the coming months as an excursion into alternate dimensions of “sound, sight, and mind,” as The Twilight Zone puts it. And because Mars, Mercury, and Venus drive the mechanics of regular routines, when their backward motion overlaps (as it does this year), daily life resembles a “land of shadow and substance,” where the edges of “things and ideas” meet in the vast terrain of the imagination.

Frustration is the most obvious danger in the Retro-Zone, and even though we are only on the threshold, for the next several days, as Mars starts to slow down in preparation for its “turn-around,” moods are apt to reflect the change of pace. Pay attention: For most of the next eight months, nothing is going to move forward smoothly, a condition that will easily fuel meltdowns at all levels of emotional and psychic intensity. Mars signifies self-assertion, and because anger and rage can be found on the negative side of the assertive spectrum, plenty of people are going to be steaming about a plethora of delays and detours. Patience is the obvious antidote, but finding patience and holding on to it will take extra effort.

Another likely dimension of Mars Retrograde is an exasperating focus on minutiae. Mars goes retrograde in Virgo, the Sign commonly known for its obsession with detail. And certainly during this retrograde we will all be looking at every little feature of every little thing (until we can’t stand to look any longer). Please remember to be kind as you sweat the small stuff; most of us make mistakes, and what transforms those errors into lessons is the ability to groan and then to grow.

But don’t discount Virgo as merely the Sign of the Fussbudgets. Virgo’s deepest current is the recognition of an abiding interconnectedness. Pisces, Virgo’s opposite and complementary Sign, always gets the kudos for its mystical urges, but Virgo is no less mystically inclined. Virgo is the Sign where we recognize the sacred in its particulars; it’s the birthplace of ecology, where the interrelatedness of all forms of life is recognized and honored through service to all living beings. As part of its retrospective, Mars invites each of us to look at how we are connected. For some, that inquiry could translate into the need to establish new, stronger bonds. For others, old ties that no longer serve are likely to be severed.

At the core of Virgo lies the idea of an organic connection that unites all living beings, and as Mars lingers in Virgo for the next five and a half months, many hearts might be moved toward greater awareness of what unites us, as well as an increased desire to be of service to our fellow travelers.

January 11-17, 2012

So many predictions have been made about 2012, and so many of those prognostications seem so dire, I’ve been avoiding adding to the load. I often scan the news to see what’s bubbled to the surface during the transition from one year to the next, and it’s clear from recent headlines that we don’t need astrologers to tell us that we’re entering a pivotal year: 2012 is an election year in the United States, and many, if not most, of our elected officials still seem to be more interested in the power of the sound byte than the actual concerns of their constituents, a condition that tends to translate into false accusations and misinformation blaring so loudly and so constantly it’s easy to mistake the noise of media manipulation for reality. It’s also a condition that we have brought into being by our collective acceptance that sound bytes and staccato bits of information are the way to go – Twitter, anyone?

We also don’t need astrologers to tell us that we are still in the financial soup. The economy may show signs of health, but no one is talking about the credit card debt that still leaves many people gasping for air, the commercial real estate situation, the plight of students, the foreclosure miasma that is still given lip service and has devastated so many lives, or the unemployment disaster that continues to destroy so many lives. Health care is not only still a problem, but has never been so clearly the emblem of a much bigger issue: Many of us have forgotten to care about each other, and the common sense that would allow that concern has fallen out of fashion. Where is the reality TV show that demonstrates the benefits of kindness and makes altruism glamorous? Whenever I see a commercial for The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, I wonder what was it that tipped the scale of value to such an extreme that the perfection of form has so completely supplanted the significance of substance.

From an astrological perspective, there’s no telling what’s going to transpire this year because 2012 is a portal into several years of dynamic change, with Uranus, the planet of surprising plot twists leading the way, and Pluto, the symbol of change at the core, following just a hair’s breadth behind. When these two planetary archetypes unite in any arrangement, we experience profound upheaval. Time may have chosen the protestor as the 2011 person of the year, but last year’s turmoil was merely the tip of the collective iceberg. Yet as history evidences, the upheaval Uranus and Pluto symbolize is not necessarily negative; their interactions signify multidimensional revolutions that focus on issues of personal freedom as well as social justice.

So here are my predictions for 2012: “Social conscience” is its mantra. And while not everyone will be interested in chanting those words, one of this year’s red threads is recognizing where and when personal interests and collective concerns meet. Be aware: This mantra is a call to evolution, and while it’s not a new call, some of us will be feeling its necessity for the first time. Even experienced revolutionaries will need to take an inventory. There’s no longer room for polarization and exclusion. The success of humanity’s next dimensional leap depends on our ability to include the needs of all sentient beings. The only lasting revolution is evolution.

January 4-10, 2012

It’s a “hit-the-ground-running” start to the New Year, and like birds gathering seed before a storm many of us are going to be collecting the threads of a variety of plans and projects. There’s little more than two weeks left before we enter the retro-zone, an approximately seven-month period of seemingly endless retrogrades that will have most of us attending to the details of whatever we forget to take care of now. Even if you manage to jump the gun, you’re still going to need to pace yourself for the next couple of weeks. There’s no use showing up for what promises to be a strenuous period exhausted from the preparations. The good news is that there is plenty of positive planetary support for stamina and strength, as well as a strong spirit of cooperation. If you don’t have anything that needs your attention, ride the current of the next couple of weeks by pitching in where help might be needed. For those anxious about getting everything done, there’s nothing like a helping hand to soothe stress and lessen tension.

The source of strength this week is a Mars/Sun trine, a vital, vigorous configuration that supports ambition, determination, courage, and intentional activity. Even if you are not inclined toward competition, this is the astrological partnership that’s sure to make you want to win. Mars symbolizes action, and is believed to rule the muscular system. The Sun represents our essential vitality, and when the Sun and Mars work together, we experience surges of physical power. Put this dynamism to work by applying it to all those areas in your life that could use a nudge. Especially put your body in motion: Run. Walk. Hike. Stretch. Swim. Just move, and make the most of it, because by the 20th, when Mars prepares for its retrograde phase, very little is going to move easily.

Mars goes retrograde on January 23, in Virgo, at 23 degrees, and stays retrograde until April 13, when it goes direct, also in Virgo, at 3 degrees. Mars thrives on forward movement, and when it seems to be lagging behind, as it does during a retrograde, we experience all sorts of Martian challenges, challenges that range from mildly impatient frustration to absolutely unbearable frustration. (Not kidding.) And because Mars represents the warrior, as the retrograde seems to stall plans and projects, many of us could feel inclined to up the ante by getting angry in all sorts of situations where we feel stuck, blocked, or impeded in our process. But don’t misunderstand. While Mars Retrograde might bring out the devil in some of us, Mars Retrograde is not the devil. And while Mars may not like retracing its past, we can certainly benefit from the review.

During the next several weeks, utilize the positive planetary support of the Sun/Mars trine to stay focused on all the things in your life that are related to movement – cars, trucks, buses, bikes, shoes, skates, skate boards, and schedules of every denomination. Push, but not to the brink of exhaustion. Most importantly, start practicing patience for yourself and your fellow travelers.

 

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