Low-Down Archives January 2008

January 2008

For the New Moon Cycle in Capricorn:
January 8 to February 6/7, 2008

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Jan.08 – NEW MOON in CAPRICORN (17:33 of Capricorn)

NEW MOON in CAPRICORN

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Jan.08, 6:36 AM EST

London, UK:

Jan.08, 11:36 AM GMT

Sydney, AU:

Jan.08, 10:36 PM AEDT

"What's a New Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

Read more about how you experience CAPRICORN energy in your life.

The first New Moon of 2008 is a powerful one for many reasons! For one thing, being the first lunar cycle of the New Year, it "kicks off" certain themes that will continue to play out through 2008. If you like to make New Year's resolutions to focus change in your life, this New Moon is a good time to begin to set them in motion. For example, if you have decided to finally join that gym or get into better shape, the New Moon initializing energy can give your efforts an extra push. You may have to adjust your direction a bit after Mars goes Direct (Jan.30) but in the meantime it's probably better to get moving in a temporary direction than to sit around waiting until February. Use your best judgment about this.

However, the Really Big Event that's happening during this lunar cycle is Pluto moving into Capricorn on Jan.24. (Check back soon for a new article on Pluto in Capricorn. In the meantime, you can check out my article on Pluto in Sagittarius, where it has been since 1995.) That heavy breathing you hear at the time of the New Moon is Pluto knocking at Capricorn's door from a mere half-degree away! Pluto is moving into the same sign that the New Moon is in, making this New Moon especially important because it brings that Capricorn energy into strong focus.

So, let's examine the building blocks of Capricorn (much of which also applies to its planetary ruler, Saturn). Capricorn is all about establishing and preserving the status quo. Its aim is to build something enduring, solid and strong. To do that, there must be a predictable environment, and that means one that is logical, practical and structured. To achieve that, you need to plan ahead and be prepared to put your personal needs aside if they interfere with your goal. It means being responsible, accountable, authoritative and mature.

I know: this sounds like about as much fun as a root canal. (...which, come to think of it, is probably ruled by Capricorn!) However, in Capricorn we also find rewards and compensation, respect and admiration, and accomplishment of whatever Magnum Opus lights up your ambition. Capricorn is where we delay our gratification now so that we can gain greater benefits later – short term limitations for long term gain.

We usually fantasize about benefits and rewards being exciting and BIG, like winning the lottery or being swept off your feet by the lover of your dreams. We long for those big spikes that go off the scale and shake up our usual humdrum lives. Capricorn and Saturn are, in many ways, that humdrum experience that we try to escape from. Yet, they are actually unappreciated allies in our quest for fulfilment and positive change. Without Capricorn's stability and practicality, life would become so unpredictable that life would inevitably crumble into chaos. In our fantasies of excitement and elation, we usually assume that the answers to our dreams will automatically come with the stability under our wings that keeps us airborne and protects us from crashing to the ground. That stability is what Capricorn is all about – without it we could not survive.

Capricorn qualities take time to develop, so we need to find some motivation to keep us going besides inspiration, spontaneity and creative impulse. Therefore, Capricorn requires us to commit ourselves to the long-term goal of what we want to achieve. This is no frivolous decision. It is a serious commitment that may require us to make sacrifices and live within certain limitations. It usually means leaving behind other potentials that might have motivated us in the past with glittering possibilities, but now must be put on the back burner—for a while or forever—in order to conserve our energy and resources for the journey ahead.

For example, in order to buy that gorgeous 80GB iPod video player, you'll probably have to do without a few luxuries while you save up for it (or as you pay off your credit card afterwards). Capricorn and Saturn implement the budget that enables you to get the goodies. To paraphrase an astrologer I once knew: Jupiter promises, but Saturn pays!

So... this New Moon cycle in Capricorn brings an opportunity to take a look at your long-term goals. What goals have you been working toward? Where are you in that process? Have you strayed off the path lately, or are you on track? Do you need to reassess where you're going or how you're trying to get there? And where do you want to be 2 years from now? 5 years from now? 10 years? The New Moon in Capricorn is a good time to give these goals some serious thought.

If the road were to take an unexpected turn, how easily could you make the necessary adjustments without losing the essence of your goal? The path from here to there is likely to take some unexpected turns over the next few years. With Pluto changing signs, there's a powerful force being brought to bear on all things Capricorn. How you deal with responsibility, commitment, rules and authority may require examination and restructuring in order to be prepared for the journey ahead. The New Moon in Capricorn gives you a chance to take stock of where you stand with those issues.

One of the most common difficulties people have with Capricorn energy is the archetypal battle that goes on between the free Inner Child and the cautious Inner Adult. On one hand there is the part of us that wants to be independent, self-ruled, spontaneous, invincible and free to follow our desires and impulses. On the other hand, there is the part of us that knows the value of caution (looking before you leap), can put personal issues on hold in order to gain a larger benefit (delayed gratification), and understands that predictability, structure and rules can make life easier (example: street lights may slow you down but are essential for traffic to flow efficiently).

Astrologically, we could call these conflicting forces Mars (Child) and Saturn (Adult). And guess what? Right now the heavens are aligned precisely so that you can work with these issues! The New Moon chart shows all of the planets bunched together except for two: Mars and Saturn. These two planets each form a separate "handle" of the chart. I've sometimes heard this distribution of planets in a chart called a "wheelbarrow" pattern. The idea is that in order to make it move, you must pick up both handles, not just one, or the whole thing topples.

This "double handle" is actually in effect from late December until mid-April (except for brief times when the Moon moves over to their side of the Zodiac), so there's lots of time to work with these energies. It is particular significant for the Capricorn New Moon because it brings these two primary forces into the foreground, challenging us to find ways to make them work together.

When these two parts of us are able to work together, it creates a very powerful force! This is the workhorse combination which takes the energy, enthusiasm and drive of Mars and harnesses it under the enduring guiding hand of Saturn toward a long-term or demanding goal. However, when they get locked into conflict, you may feel like you're just spinning your wheels – exerting a lot of energy but getting nowhere. Some astrologers have described it as feeling like you're driving with the brakes on.

In order to claim both of these energies in the months ahead, the Mars and Saturn parts of us must first face their respective demons. For Mars, this comes in the form of its opposition to Pluto and Jupiter. You must find ways to empower your actions and intentions with wisdom, compassion and acceptance, without becoming recklessly destructive but also without your interests becoming lost in the larger-than-life currents of the world around you.

For Saturn, this demon comes in the form of its approaching opposition to Uranus. Uranus brings creative chaos and change, shaking up all that order and predictability that Saturn tries so hard to establish. Saturn must ultimately make room for this Uranian fresh air, lest its structured system become stagnant, suffocating, arbitrary and rigid.

With Venus at the end of her T-square to Saturn and Uranus (see Jan.06-11), the key to balance can emerge from examining your values and priorities. Your relationships are also important, since those close to you may support and encourage one side or the other, which can tip your focus in that direction. This has the danger of keeping you stuck and unbalanced, or it could have the benefit of helping to balance you out. An honest look at yourself and your relationships will show which is which.

This lunar cycle is an important one because it is a stepping stone on which Pluto will make its entrance into Capricorn this year. The New Moon therefore gives you a chance to "get your affairs in order" at the start of the next Pluto phase of transformation, transition and change.

These issues will manifest in your personal life a little differently than for others. If you find it difficult to bring your Mars and Saturn energies together productively and positively in your life, it can be extremely helpful to seek out other perspectives, feedback and insight. A personal reading is highly recommended for this kind of self-growth work. 

Jan.11 – Venus sextile Chiron (13:56 of Sagittarius/Aquarius)

Although this transit lasts for only a few days, it is possible to make some progress in your healing and rebalancing efforts, although it will take some effort to make it happen. This may show itself in relationships, social interaction, finances, values, health or your spiritual connection to the Universe. You have an increased ability to negotiate with others and with your circumstances to achieve a fair compromise that results in equal sacrifice and benefit for all concerned. However, there is a risk of wanting to avoid conflict and discord so much that you negotiate beyond what you are truly comfortable with -- peace at any price. By accepting and embracing the effort or struggle that is required, you can get out of your own way and achieve a more healing balance in those struggles. You now have increased ability to facilitate changes in situations that are within your control. It can also be easier to accept and adapt to that which lies beyond your control. Your effect on others can be potentially healing right now, especially by helping them find a new balance and point of acceptance in the conflicts and struggles of their lives. 

Jan.12 – Venus square Uranus (15:47 of Sagittarius/Pisces) (Jan.13 in AU)

Under this transit, you may be tempted by impulse spending, or you might be somewhat erratic in your use of resources. This can result in unpredictable or unstable finances, so double check your bank accounts and credit cards before you draw on them. It is also a time when the way you relate to others (or they to you) could be somewhat inconsistent, fickle or impulsive. If your relationships or financial situation have been struggling with difficulties for a while, this transit could bring a lingering problem to the surface and require attention. On one hand, this could be a welcome breath of fresh air that cuts through the complexity of your problems and puts the cards on the table (despite the stress and conflict that likely triggered it). Or, you might feel resistance to making these changes and instead experience this as a time of unwelcome instability, upset and adjustment. However, this may be a good way to break free of excessive restraint, control or structure, which allows new possibilities to emerge that couldn't do so otherwise. 

Jan.13 – Mercury enters the Retrograde Shadow (until Mar.10) ("What's the Shadow?"  Read more about the Shadow. Read more about Retrograde Cycles.  Read more about Mercury Retrograde.)

Mercury now enters the area of Zodiac where it will later go retrograde (Jan.28 to Feb.18). During its retrograde cycle, Mercury travels through the same span of the Zodiac three times (called the Shadow). The first time through, it is going in direct motion (moving forward), then retrograde (looks like it's going backwards), and then direct again. This means there is a more involved process of development and change involved with things that Mercury influences—ideas, thoughts, frame of mind and mental focus. It also concerns the collection, exchange, analysis and organisation of information. All forms of communication are also affected—email and snail mail, the Internet, the media in general, books and magazines, as well as public transit (buses, trains, etc.) and neighbourhoods. The situations developing over the next 2 weeks (leading up to when Mercury actually goes retrograde) will likely require further research, deeper consideration and adjustments to unexpected discoveries over the next couple of months. Expect changes in your plans, increasingly disrupted communication, and new information coming to light that may not fit conveniently into your plans. It's wise to leave lots of extra time to do things, plan future projects and get to wherever you're going. If you must make important decisions during this time, try to build some flexibility into your plans to allow for later changes—or if possible, you may want to delay final or irrevocable decisions until well after Mercury goes direct (Feb.18).

Mercury makes 3 conjunctions to both Chiron and Neptune during this retrograde cycle. This acts as a bridge between these two planets, which are edging closer to a conjunction in 2010. During this Mercury retrograde, you may feel a longing to surrender to something greater than yourself, which could be anything from a spiritual experience to higher principles to some kind of group or community project. There is also an element of self-sacrifice or even sacred suffering that could be required. This can be a good thing if it means getting past stubborn resistance that has held you back from something positive. However, be careful not to fall into the trap of suffering for the sake of suffering or surrendering so much of yourself that you lose your power of choice if you find yourself in a negative or misguided situation. 

Jan.16 – Venus sextile Neptune (20:47 of Sagittarius/Aquarius) (Jan.17 in AU)

Artistry, romance, creativity and faith have the potential to flow freely now. Your creative Muse is whispering in your ear, although it will still take your own elbow grease to turn it into something real. Socially and romantically, things could run smoothly and even a bit magically, so be sure you are clear in yourself about what you really want. This can be a time of blessings and abundance (in all areas of life) ...but there is also the risk of overspending and being overly optimistic in your assumptions about money and relationships. Your natural beauty and warmth can be brought out by this transit, but don't just waste it on creating a façade of outer glamour and charm. Let the essence of your inner beauty and pure spirit shine through your appearance and mannerisms! 

Jan.17 – Mercury conjunct Chiron (14:23 of Aquarius)

Words can wound, but they can also heal. This transit may bring new awareness of the ways that you need to heal...and perhaps also the ways that you wound yourself or others, especially through thoughts, words and attitudes. You might become aware of harming yourself through negative self-talk or harsh self-criticism. Or, you might expect rigid perfection of yourself and forget that you are a multi-dimensional being who is, by your human nature, inconsistent and fallible. Your mental focus or attitude might have a sharp edge to it that is harsh, or you may encounter harsh attitudes from someone else that are hurtful, perhaps without meaning to be. Words and thoughts can be powerful tools. By reframing the message or situation in a different way, it is possible to turn hurt into healing and ignorance into wisdom. For example, it may help to eliminate either-or thinking by accepting that paradoxes and contradictions exist and may not have to be fully resolved for you to find a workable balance within them. By adopting a bit of a philosophical attitude, you may find it takes some of the pressure off the need for everything to fit together perfectly, which can leave some breathing room for everyone involved to be human.

Due to the upcoming Mercury Retrograde, this is the first of 3 passes of this transit: Jan.17, Feb.07 and Mar.05. 

Jan.19 – Venus opposite Mars (24:51 of Sagittarius/Gemini) (Jan.20 in UK, AU)

Your receptive, diplomatic side is arguing with your assertive, upfront side. The result can be either a battle of wills between Yin and Yang (yours or others'), or a new creative dynamic that brings both into a new balance. This could manifest in the form of relationship issues, financial struggles, or arguments about control. Or, you might feel it is time to take action with plans that have been percolating for a while, especially related to beauty, love, relationships, money, spending and negotiation. If you're usually more comfortable with Yin energy (receptive, diplomatic, beauty oriented), you might feel unusually sensitive to aggressive or forceful energy from others. At worst, you might feel backed into a corner or even bullied by someone who comes across as angry, pushy or (over)enthusiastic. If you're more at home with Yang energy (assertive, action-oriented, direct), you may feel pressured or manipulated to tone down your energy level to make it more socially acceptable. Either way, this is about finding a new cooperative balance that works for both sides, through compromise, negotiation and conflict resolution. 

Jan.20 – Sun enters Aquarius (until Feb.19)

Happy Solar Return to all Aquarians! While the Sun travels through Aquarius, we all have a chance to explore our rebellious, individualistic and futuristic Aquarian nature. This heralds a time to explore beyond the status quo and conventional reality, beckoning you to reach out to the lost threads of who you are. You may become more aware of your individual uniqueness and your part in the Great Collective -- both your surrounding community and the Collective Unconscious. In order to fulfil the unique fingerprint of your life's purpose, it is sometimes necessary to be rebellious, spontaneous, and to be open to the unexpected. You might become aware of the need for these qualities under this transit. There is always a constant tension between the need to conform to society's formula of what works best versus the need to step off the main path to explore new experiences, and both are equally necessary to the health of both the individual and the greater community. Archetypally, it is in Aquarius that we encounter our personal experience of the battle between "the needs of the many" versus "the needs of the few." During the Sun's adventure through Aquarius, be open to the ways that this dynamic operates in your life. What can trigger or inspire you into rebellion or going against the conventional flow of the world around you? What will motivate you into being a team player, when you apply your energies to support or defend "the needs of the many?" What visions of the future do you see when you are in either mode of being? This is a time when you may have the opportunity to observe and learn about both sides of yourself -- the part that feels like it's "me against the world" and the part that feels like a part of that world. 

Jan.21 – Jupiter trine Saturn (07:37 of Capricorn/Virgo)

The expansiveness of Jupiter works cooperatively with the concise structure of Saturn in this transit. Its peak effects can be felt for up to about a week to 10 days before and after the exact date (above). This transit can bring adventure and caution into a healthy balance. You have the confidence and imagination to envision bright possibilities in your life, while also having the grounded realism to make the plans and do the hard work to make it happen. If you have been making plans to create, build or reach for a goal in your life, this is a time when you may be able to make substantial progress. You have access to vision that can see beyond obstacles, insight to deal with problems, enthusiasm to sustain your efforts, and faith in the process as it unfolds. It is also easier to be responsible, stable and predictable without limiting your options or potential. There's a slight possibility that this could backfire somewhat, by giving you the strength to push through your vision or opinion with such force that others find it overwhelming. Or, you might feel so reassured and confident with the way your life is unfolding that you take it for granted and don't apply any real effort to help it along ...and then wonder why it didn't bring as much as you thought. Make a point of putting this energy to productive use!

This is the third of 5 passes of this transit! The exact pass dates are: 16-Mar-2007, 5-May-2007, 21-Jan-2008, 8-Sep-2008 and 21-Nov-2008. It's somewhat unusual to have 5 passes of any Jupiter-Saturn transit, and it only happens when they are on opposite sides of the solar system (in other words, the trine and opposition aspects). The last time we had 5 passes of a Jupiter-Saturn aspect was at the last opposition in 1989-91. This current long-term trine aspect means we have two years to make the most of this productive and powerful combination of energies. Also, whatever long-term plans you are nurturing during this time, there may be a chance to develop something even better than you originally thought was possible.

Jan.22 – FULL MOON in LEO (01:54 of Leo)

Sabian Symbol for the
Full Moon in Leo

Leo 2

An epidemic of mumps.

This Sabian Symbol ("What's a Sabian Symbol?") seems rather negative and ominous, and yet it shows us something valuable about the energy of this Full Moon.

The mumps are an infectious virus that is caught by being around another person who has it. This symbol is therefore about the infectious nature of ideas, attitudes and actions. An epidemic is the spread of one thing among a Collective or among those you are in close contact with. This symbol does seem to caution us about our indulgence in negativity and toxicity which could be dangerous when allowed to spread unchallenged.

Dane Rudhyar (An Astrological Mandala) points out that the mumps are typically a childhood disease, which implies we are "like a child" at the beginning of a rebirth or new process. In the context of current transits, this symbol seems especially meaningful as Pluto enters Capricorn.

We need to be careful about getting stuck in pessimism, fatalism or other toxic attitudes, since others around us could take on the same attitudes and the momentum can quickly get out of control. In the same way, we need to be careful we don't "take on" the attitudes of others that only bring us down. The idea is to avoid bringing out the worst in each other.

However, a benefit of getting the mumps is that once you've had them, you develop an immunity to them. Even if you become affected (or "infected") by debilitating or destructive ideas, once you work through them and recover some of your strength and hope, you can always find your way back again if you stray off course.

Lynda Hill (360 Degrees of Wisdom) points out that if there is too much toxic energy around, a little separation, isolation or retreat from others could be a good way to avoid making things worse and allow healing. Take a break when you feel overwhelmed, and if others seem to withdraw from you for a while, try not to take it personally. The idea is to find ways to strengthen your spiritual, psychological or emotional "immune system," which may need to be done in isolation or within yourself.

I think the flip side of this symbol implies the possibility of a "positive virus." If negative attitudes can create a crisis by spreading around, then surely positive attitudes could generate a healing momentum that could help to strengthen or "immunize" us in a similar way. Think in terms of random acts of kindness or other ways to help others to brighten up.

 

Explore the Sabian Symbols for yourself with these recommended books:

The Sabian Symbols in Astrology,
by Marc Edmund Jones

An Astrological Mandala,
by Dane Rudhyar

The Sabian Symbols: The Original Symbols Fully Revealed,
by Blain Bovee

FULL MOON in LEO

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Jan.22, 8:35 AM EST

London, UK:

Jan.22, 1:35 PM GMT

Sydney, AU:

Jan.23, 12:35 AM AEDT

"What's a New Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

Read more about how you experience LEO energy in your life.

Strut your stuff! Put on a show! Express yourself! Dare to be visible! Let your light shine! The Full Moon in Leo is a time to be acknowledged and appreciated—and to acknowledge and appreciate others. It's a time to feel good about yourself and encourage that feel-good feeling in others. Take pride in your work. Play with your Inner Child—or even your Outer Child, if you have children. ;-)

The problem is that most of us struggle with Leo energy. Our light is either dimmed by guilt, shame and fear, or we crank it up so bright that it blots out everyone else's light. And actually, one is usually the "shadow" side of the other. Every sign has its "down side" and these are distortions of Leo's natural energy when it is not operating at its best.

Everyone knows someone who comes across as a bit too "full of themselves" and seems to think they have the answer to everything and believes they are always right (especially when faced with disagreement from others). This person may always seem to wind up the center of attention and doesn't share the stage very easily. Yet, this typically masks a lack of self-esteem deep down inside—a hunger for attention, positive regard, admiration and recognition that was perhaps denied in childhood. Or this person might never have learned that it's okay to doubt yourself and be vulnerable sometimes, so they don't dare show these natural human feelings for fear of evoking disapproval, judgment and rejection.

Everyone also usually knows someone who tries to deflect the spotlight. This person often puts themselves down, or at least raises everyone else up above themselves and idealizes them. The wonderful qualities that they see in others are probably also in themselves; yet they don't know how to embrace or believe that they have those qualities. Or, they might come from a background that rejected their individuality and lead them to believe there was something wrong with who they are. Self-deprecation can often be confused with modesty and humility, yet these are not mutually exclusive with self-esteem and positive self-regard.

In a way, both of these extremes hide in the shadows—the absence of light created by an obstruction to that light. The true authenticity and humanness of the over-confident person is blotted out by the overcompensating light that they pump out, so that no one will see how vulnerable they feel inside. The under-confident person hides in the shadows for fear of being visible and thereby protects themselves from judgment, rejection and their own feelings of inadequacy.

We all struggle with these Leo issues to one extent or another, at one time or another. Leo energy is meant to shine brightly, to express its joy in living, and to bestow a warm glow on all who bask in its light. But sometimes we need to delve into ourselves to clean out the cobwebs of doubt, remind ourselves of who we really are and allow our natural light to shine through. This cleaning process can be difficult if we've allowed a residue of guilt, cynicism or resentment to build up over a long time, or if we remain convinced that we don't have the right to shine clearly. And if we've invested a lot of energy in creating an artificial light on the outside to hide a muted or flattened sense of self inside, that cleaning process—as difficult as it might be—is an essential step in learning to let our authentic light shine instead of relying on a contrived one.

This Full Moon could be a time when you wrestle with or examine these issues in yourself, or perhaps observe them in others. The Full Moon takes place at a time when there is a lot of heavy, deep and profound energy happening in the skies. Pluto is teetering on the edge of Capricorn—a mere 7 minutes of arc away. (That's 7-60ths of a degree, or about one-tenth of one degree.) That's close! (And close only counts in horseshoes, grenades, atom bombs and Pluto transits. ;-)

Pluto moving into Capricorn seems to be bringing a rather heavy energy with it. An astrologer friend, Priscilla Costello, pointed out recently that almost all of the movies getting the rave reviews at the turn of 2008 seem to be very morbid, dark and heavy. She felt that this reflected the approaching Pluto in Capricorn energy. I think it's true that lately we seem to be drawn to intense or deep experiences that echo a growing awareness of this in our lives. (Read the Pluto article... Coming very soon -- I promise!)

This kind of heaviness might seem to dim Leo's light a bit during this Full Moon. Pluto forms an Irritation Wedge with the Sun-Moon opposition, which could feel like an annoying aching muscle or feel like you're wearing a scratchy wool sweater that you can't get quite comfortable in. If you feel unusually irritable or sensitive to the many issues, tragedies and problems happening in the world lately, this is one reason why, astrologically speaking.

We're all approaching a major transition—Pluto changing signs. This can be unsettling, as this deep archetypal energy shifts inside of us. And as Pluto in Capricorn pulls us deeper into serious issues and challenges at the time of the Leo Full Moon, it could stir up some old struggles around self-esteem, confidence and finding joy in life.

Venus is conjunct Pluto and opposite Mars, which could bring powerful sensuality, sexual attraction and/or intense interactions with others. The Leo Full Moon might want to come out and play in a passionate, forceful way. This could be an exciting adventure – just be sure your actions are in line with your values and integrity, since you'll need to take responsibility for the outcome afterwards.

Uranus also forms a Square Wedge to the Sun-Moon opposition, which could provoke an urge to jump out of that heaviness and into the "sweetness and light" of absolute faith in the goodness of life. There's nothing wrong with this, but do be cautious about becoming so blinded by the light that you can't see where you're going and run headlong into the brick wall of reality. Extremes of any kind right now are probably not wise. Instead, think "outside the box" and find ways to laugh about life—with life.

The Mercury-Neptune conjunction at the Full Moon could make it a little easier for your thinking to be influenced by whatever is in your surroundings. For example, if you expose yourself to war and tragedy on the TV or the Internet a lot, you might find you take this a little more personally than usual now. Ration yourself and take a break if you start to get depressed, lethargic or agitated, so that you can rebalance yourself with something more positive and hopeful for a while.

The Jupiter-Saturn trine can help you find some optimism in the difficult times and some philosophical perspective in the challenges. Aim to learn something from whatever you're going through—"good" or "bad"—and have some faith that this learning can bring you further along your journey toward your destination.

If you're feeling overwhelmed or depressed or "out of centre," do things that feed your sense of well-being. Seek out friends who enjoy your company. Find someone to talk to who can hear and understand your pain, and then let it go for a while. Take a walk in a beautiful corner of nature. Get some feedback or insight from people you trust to help you find your centre again (like a personal astrology reading). Read books that inspire you and open up your ability to see beyond the gloom.

Allow yourself to accept that you are in whatever mood you're in, and give yourself permission to simply BE, rather than feeling you must push yourself to be something other that who you are in that moment. Avoid the angst of wondering why you can't shake off a feeling of heaviness and putting things in larger-than-life terms. Instead, focus on what you can do right now, in this moment, to make that moment better.

If you're feeling good about life and good about yourself, share it with others! Help them see the light in themselves if they are stuck in the shadows. Laugh about life together and reinforce the validity and preciousness of existence. Leo is ruled by the Sun, so make this your honorary birthday that starts a new day! 

Jan.22 – Mercury Direct conjunct Neptune (21:00 of Aquarius)

The imagination soars under this transit! Possibilities seem richer, insights appear more magical and creativity flows like liquid honey. Your intuition is likely to be more fluid, and you may even have psychic experiences. Dreams may be more vivid and active, including daydreams. You may feel a need for quiet meditation or just being alone with your own thoughts. Your mental focus may seem a bit blurred, although in the outer edges you may catch a glimpse of ideas and possibilities that you don't ordinarily notice. It can be an inspiring time if you are involved in creative activities, like artwork, music, writing and other creative forms of communication and self-expression. This is a time when your "Right Brain" (intuitive, creative, non-rational) may be very active. In fact, it might be a bit difficult to bring a sharp focus to your "Left Brain" (logical, rational, realistic). Your judgment and ability to be objective may be off, and you could be more prone to wishful thinking and flights of fantasy. If you're making an important decision now, it may be wise to do a reality check with a trusted friend before you commit yourself.

Due to the upcoming Mercury Retrograde, this is the first of 3 passes of this transit: Jan.22, Feb.02, Mar09. 

Jan.24 – Venus conjunct Pluto (29:57 of Sagittarius)

Intensity in love and close relationships can occur under this transit, as well as a compelling need to get more control over your finances and assets. This could manifest as power dynamics emerging in your interactions with others, in which you engage in a negotiation for a better balance of power that is more in your favour. Or, you might become somewhat obsessed with the pursuit of pleasure and beauty, possibly trying to compensate for a low sense of self-worth. Or, there can be a valuable opportunity to develop a deeper connection with those close to you. You might find it necessary to negotiate with others for financial support. You may have to dig deeper than usual to extract needed resources from hidden places (or to deposit them there, out of reach from others who want a piece of your hoard). Keep your integrity high and dry by being honest with yourself about the ethics of your actions. 

Jan.24 – Venus enters Capricorn (until Feb.17)

Friendly, abundant Venus travels through serious, structured Capricorn, bringing out her grounded, material side. It may be time to make new plans and commitments for material or relationship goals. It can be a time to get serious and make some solid decisions about what works and what doesn't. It may help to organise and systemise the way you approach relationships, finances, resources and pleasure. An example of systemising pleasure is to schedule regular time to pamper yourself, or to make a point of doing the hard work that will pay off in pleasure later (like eating healthier food or working out more). Although this might seem a bit unromantic or uninspiring, you'll find that laying the groundwork for what you want to attract into your life will provide support for the rewards to come. 

Jan.25 – Pluto enters Capricorn (until Jun.14, then Nov.26.2008 until 2023) (Jan.26 in UK, AU) (Read NEW article about Pluto in Capricorn - Coming soon, I promise!  Read article about Pluto in Sagittarius.)

This is the first of two entries Pluto makes into Capricorn before it stays there for the next 15 years. The last time Pluto changed signs was 1995, which was quite a while ago! Pluto in Sagittarius has been about digging into the foundations of our morals, values, beliefs and understanding of life, scrutinizing all that is sacred, to see if it still fits in our modern world. Pluto in Capricorn is likely to be about the similar scrutiny of our societal institutions – government, infrastructure, authority and leadership. Over the next 15 years, we could well see many bastions of power fall from grace in the public eye, as the hidden workings of long-entrenched institutions come to light. (Read the in-depth article...Coming very soon -- I promise!)

The interesting thing about this ingress (when a planet enters a new sign) is that Venus conjoins Pluto just before it moves into Capricorn. This inflames our passions—not merely sexually, but our desire for intensity of experience and an intimate connection to life. There may be a sense of yearning to believe that all the struggles and striving of the last 12 years have fulfilled some kind of higher purpose—not just for Humanity on a global level, but for each of us personally.

Is it possible to take all the conflict, discord and struggle of the last dozen years and transform this into love, forgiveness, acceptance and generosity of spirit? Or might we be too enticed by glamour, hedonism, over-indulgence and short-term gratification that short-changes the potential of higher love? Either way, this is a rare opportunity to learn more about and deepen the capacity of your human spirit. 

Jan.28 – Mercury Stationary Retrograde (23:14 of Aquarius; until Feb.18/19) (Jan.29 in AU) ("What's Retrograde?"  "What's Mercury Retrograde?"  Read more about Mercury Retrograde.  Read more about Stations.)

Mercury now goes retrograde for the next 3-3½ weeks. For up to a week before and after today, Mercury is moving very slowly or stopped during the station. During this time, you may experience intensity, frustration, confusion, miscommunications, or feel like you're getting bogging down in your progress. Mercury retrograde is usually a time when it is best to rethink, rehash, reflect, and tie up old loose ends, rather than begin new ventures. It is typical for new insights and information to emerge later in the retrograde cycle that you didn't anticipate, which can change the whole picture. Because of this, it is usually advised to avoid making final or permanent decisions (e.g., signing contracts or putting new projects into action), during the retrograde and even up to 2 weeks after Mercury goes direct. However, it is an excellent time to do fact-finding, research and investigation to prepare for major decisions, which are usually best put off until well after Mercury goes direct. In the meantime, while Mercury is retrograde, expect the unexpected, and leave lots of extra time when planning your schedule (to minimize any disruptions from delays and complications). Stay flexible; for example, it's common to have to reschedule appointments. Do some things that use your intuitive, creative, non-rational mind for a while until Mercury goes direct again.

Mercury is retrograde in Aquarius, which can bring up thoughts and ideas that are way off the beaten track! With Mercury's usual conscious thought patterns turned inside out under the retrograde, you might get anything from very weird dreams to brilliant new ideas to thoughts that are scattered and fragmented. Your attention span might be a little short and you could easily feel bored with anything that seems ordinary, monotonous or too limiting. You might also feel frustrated and overwhelmed because you feel a need to stretch your thoughts and perceptions beyond your usual horizons, yet feel trapped by the demands of day-to-day life. On the other hand, you might find you are able to spontaneously reach beyond your usual limits and view life from a totally different angle. Ideas may explode suddenly in your mind and words could burst out of your mouth. You might be tempted to say things for shock value or to break down a wall of resistance that you perceive is in your way. Write down your best ideas to process and develop later.

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Mercury will make 3 conjunctions to both Chiron and Neptune during this retrograde cycle. This will bring increased awareness of the distant but approaching Chiron-Neptune conjunction, even though this doesn't become exact for 2 more years. This Mercury retrograde can therefore bring awareness of spiritual struggles, especially the longing to be made whole (or holy) in problem areas that might not have a clear solution. There is a chance to gain some insight into your journey toward healing, recovery and wholeness, but first you may have to acknowledge or confess the ways you feel out of sync, wounded or fragmented. This kind of healing work is best done within a context of accepting yourself as a work in progress, whose job is not to be perfect but to continue evolving. 

Jan.29 – Venus trine Saturn (07:05 of Capricorn/Virgo) (Jan.30 in UK, AU)

Stability in relationships and finances characterises this transit. You have increased ability to be disciplined about spending and to invest the hard work to maximise your earnings. Your ability to grasp the solid, realistic facts will help you choose wisely in your investments of both money and interaction with others. Commitment and structure are easier to achieve and embrace than change or taking risks. Self-worth can benefit now because you are less inclined to give in to mood swings. However, if you are prone to depression, you might want to be careful you don't become so grounded and stable that you lose touch with your sense of hope and potential. It is a good time to make concrete progress in matters involving beauty, love, harmony and balance. Keep your pleasures simple and humble for maximum benefit. 

Jan.30 – Mars stationary Direct (24:05 of Gemini; in the Shadow until Apr.05; Direct until Dec.20.2009) (Jan.31 in AU) ("What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Mars Retrograde.  Read more about Retrograde cycles.  Read more about Stations.)

For about a week or so before and after this date, your energy can feel intense, erratic, volatile or liberated. After being retrograde for about two months, the energy that has been collecting during that time now begins a gradual release. It is possible you may reach a point of decision about issues that you have been struggling with, in the past 2-4 months. Low energy will return either suddenly and erratically, or gradually. If you have been wrestling with issues about assertiveness, aggression or forcefulness, the station can bring a turning point that brings resolution to your frustrations. Depending on how constructively and therapeutically you have been working with these issues, this resolution could be a positive time of self-empowerment, or it could produce an explosion of controlling and forcing others to bend to your will. Over the coming two months (while Mars is still in the Shadow), you will apply and integrate the energy and learning that has been gathered and is now being released.

Mars has been Retrograde since Nov.15.2007. Mars entered the Retrograde Shadow on Sept.17.2007, and will remain in the Shadow until Apr.05.2008. Mars Retrograde is a long process that is still unfolding over a period of 7 months.

Just to make things even more interesting, Mars has been opposite Pluto since mid-December 2007, and remains within orb until the end of March. That's 3.5 months of Mars opposite Pluto! If you've wondered why the world seems so intense and edgy lately, now you know. This is a time when we are all faced with the question of how to empower ourselves in the face of larger-than-life or overwhelming challenges. You might feel motivated and determined, or powerless and desperate, but this is not likely to be a time that goes unnoticed in your life. Mars and Pluto will continue to unfold in their joint cycle for the rest of 2008, returning to the conjunction again at the end of the year. Any changes or decisions you make now will have ripple effects and implications for the rest of this year. If Mars and Pluto make aspects to your natal chart, this can intensify and personalize this energy in your life. A personal astrology reading can help you make sense of it, so that you can find (or create) your inner strength and resolve. 

Feb.01 – Venus conjunct Jupiter (10:01 of Capricorn)

Romance is in the air, harmony is reflected in everything around you, and love and beauty abound! This can be a time of sweet mercy, pleasure and peace, both personally and in relationships. It can also be a time when your ability to attract money, resources and rewards into your life are especially strong. You might consider indulging in a lottery ticket! Or maybe treating yourself to some creature comforts, like a massage or a double chocolate brownie or anything that gets the endorphins flowing! Unfortunately, this can also be a time when you are prone to over-indulge in pleasures or overestimate your resources. By all means enjoy this lovely feel-good energy, but it's also wise to keep your "addictions" in check. Don't entirely disregard your diet, your budget or your realism in relationships. 

Feb.02 – Mercury Retrograde conjunct Neptune (21:25 of Aquarius) (Feb.03 in UK, AU)

The imagination soars under this transit! Possibilities seem richer, insights appear more magical and creativity flows like liquid honey. Your intuition is likely to be more fluid, and you may even have psychic experiences. Dreams may be more vivid and active, including daydreams. You may feel a need for quiet meditation or just being alone with your own thoughts. Your mental focus may seem a bit blurred, although in the outer edges you may catch a glimpse of ideas and possibilities that you don't ordinarily notice. It can be an inspiring time if you are involved in creative activities, like artwork, music, writing and other creative forms of communication and self-expression. This is a time when your "Right Brain" (intuitive, creative, non-rational) may be very active. In fact, it might be a bit difficult to bring a sharp focus to your "Left Brain" (logical, rational, realistic). Your judgment and ability to be objective may be off, and you could be more prone to wishful thinking and flights of fantasy. If you're making an important decision now, it may be wise to do a reality check with a trusted friend before you commit yourself.

This the second of three passes of this transit: Jan.22, Feb.02 and Mar.09. 

Feb.05 – Sun conjunct Chiron (15:48 of Aquarius)

For a few days, you may become focused on physical, spiritual or psychological healing...or you might become aware of the need for it due to problems. Your physical vitality may be more susceptible to health problems, and your inner or spiritual strength and sense of purpose may feel a bit weak or vulnerable. However, you might also experience new motivation to build up your strength and endurance on all levels. Therefore, this could be a time when you embark on fresh health or fitness goals, or new directions that carve reformed purpose out of previous hardships. Psychologically, you could become aware of the ways that your self-esteem is undermined or sabotaged -- either by outside situations or people or you doing it to yourself without realising it, or even ways that you do this to someone else. This is a good time to observe and learn about how these issues operate in your life, what role you play in this dynamic, and how you could make different choices. By increasing your level of acceptance of human imperfection, of both yourself and others, you can strengthen those areas where you now feel vulnerable. Since self-esteem (yours and others') can be a bit fragile now, boosting self-confidence through praise, support, encouragement and confidence can have a powerful and healing effect right now. 

Feb.06 – Sun conjunct Mercury Retrograde (17:20 of Aquarius) (Feb.07 in AU)

When the Sun conjoins Mercury Retrograde, there is a new beginning in the areas of awareness, communication, use of information and exchange of ideas. This may or may not be heralded by a recognisable event or experience, although for a day or two your consciousness may shift. Your awareness and mental concentration may take a dip into the unconscious, becoming unusually murky and muddy, or it may rise into ultra-consciousness and become suddenly clear and lucid (afterwards returning to the usual Mercury retrograde fog). A new awareness or perspective on what has unfolded during the retrograde cycle thus far may surface now, or an unworkable attitude or perception of these events may fall apart under the weight of new information. This shift of awareness may be obvious or subtle, sudden or gradual, but this transit marks a turning point in the Mercury retrograde cycle. It also marks a time when mental awareness often goes further underground, for the rest of the retrograde period, making it a little harder to operate objectively and rationally in the outside world. Spend some time in your right-brain, intuitive, non-rational mind, which can coax your mental creativity and inventiveness to the surface. 

Feb.06 – Venus sextile Uranus (16:56 of Capricorn/Pisces) (Feb.07 in UK, AU)

Relationships, finances, resources and pleasures could benefit from spontaneously trying a completely different approach. If these areas of your life have been getting a little stale or too routine, this transit could shake things up a little...just enough to make things interesting and breathe some fresh air into your familiar routine. Unexpected income could come your way, or you might discover something you just can't resist buying, or you might have an opportunity to make new social connections. The upside of this transit is that it's possible to break free of old habits and enjoy spontaneous interaction. The downside could come in the form of impulse purchases that are beyond your budget, or behaving a bit recklessly or making snap decisions that you can't live with later. This energy is best used to break free of what restricts you, without shattering the foundation you're standing on. 

Next Update:  SOLAR ECLIPSE! NEW MOON in AQUARIUS - February 06, 2008 (Feb.07 in UK and AU). Available by Feb.06.

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