Low-Down Archives for November 2011

New Moon in Scorpio, Full Moon in Taurus

New Moon in Scorpio
Chart of the New Moon in Scorpio

Oct.26 – NEW MOON in SCORPIO (03:02 of Scorpio)

NEW MOON in SCORPIO

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Oct.26, 2011, 3:55 PM EDT

London, UK:

Oct.26, 2011, 8:55 PM BST

Sydney, AU:

Oct.27, 2011, 6:55 AM AEDT

"What's a New Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

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

Where does hope go when you enter the dark underworld of transformation?

When we go spelunking down into the deep caverns of our psyche, we often expect to encounter demons and monsters. These are things we either didn't know were there or wished they had died long ago.

And if we follow those monsters back into their lair far enough, we typically find that they are embodiments of parts of us that are scared, angry, sad, ashamed or confused. When we feel these things, we tend to "act out" and express those feelings in ways that are antisocial, dysfunctional, over-reactive or just plain counterproductive.

Well we all have a face
that we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves
when everyone has gone,
Some are satin some are steel
some are silk and some are leather,
They're the faces of the stranger
but we love to try them on...
~ Billy Joel

These are part of what Carl Jung called the shadow – the feelings, desires, perceptions and motives that are hidden from our conscious awareness, usually banished there by fear, shame, denial or ignorance. Once we start to see those demons for what they really are, by shining a light into the shadow, the healing process begins; that's when the transformational rubber hits the road and we start to make progress in deep seated change and awakening.

However, while we're still creeping through the shadow, whistling in the dark and checking over our shoulder for monsters, it can often seem that hope is very far away. And if we've been down there too long, without a vacation up on the sunny surface, it's easy to forget what hope feels like or to wonder if it was just a fantasy that gave us a false sense of security. (Richard Feriña wrote a novel in the mid-60s, which later inspired a song of the same name by Jim Morrison of The Doors The title perfectly describes this experience: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me.)

When we're in this state, anything that feels hopeful yet falls short of concrete proof can seem ridiculous, naïve or flawed. And yet, hope by its very nature tends to be enigmatic and ethereal. It's subtle and fragile, and when subjected to demands for validation or logic it can burst like a bubble under the strain.

Hope is a process of envisioning a positive outcome, which in the present may defy all common sense or probability. Hope is the light that gets us through the tunnel. If it turns out to be an oncoming train, well it still fulfilled its function – it carried us across the abyss of doubt and hesitation.

When we insist that hope conform to the rules of logic or guarantee its promised result, that's when hope can become disappointment, disillusionment or despair. However, there are times when we absolutely need something more substantial than a motivating fantasy. For example, your landlord or mortgage company tends to insist on something far more substantial than a wing and a prayer. And if you're in survival mode, trying desperately to conjure Saturnian reality out of Jupiterian optimism, hope may only get you so far.

Somehow, at the end of the day, each of us has to find a way to bridge the gap between hope and manifestation; between the dark hidden caves and the illuminated surface; between whatever can get us through the night and what we need to actually make it to the dawn.

After I began working with people in transition, I found that ending and losses are the commonest first sign that people are in transition. ...The irony is that people naturally view such events or situations as disasters to be averted, as problems to be solved, or as mistakes to be corrected. But since they are really signals that the transition process has commenced, making them go away is no more than turning off that alarm that woke you up.
~ William Bridges, The Way of Transition: Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments

The New Moon in Scorpio is upon us. As such, it is a general time of transformation and fundamental change. Across many cultures and historical eras, this season is associated with death and life and the liminal spaces in between. In modern Western culture, we know this time as Halloween. The ancient Celts and modern neo-Pagans know it as Samhain (pronounced "Saw-wen" or "Saw-wane"). In Mexico, they celebrate the Day of the Dead which has ancient roots in the indigenous culture.

It is said that the veil between the worlds (of life and death) is very thin at this time of year. As a result, the souls of the dead can cross through to our physical world, and the living can reach across that threshold and contact the dead.

Regardless what your beliefs are about this time of year, it is certainly a time of transition. In the northern hemisphere, it is the end of the growing season and harvest, the earth has shed her cloak of green and becomes barren heading into the winter months. In the southern hemisphere, it is a time when the dormant earth is coming alive in earnest, anticipating the coming of summer.

Transition goes from one thing to something else. During any transition, there is the decay and elimination of the old, while the formation of the new is still indistinct. A caterpillar in its chrysalis melts down into a sludge of molecules before it reinvents itself into a butterfly. In a similar way during a New Moon (also called the Dark of the Moon, both literally and figuratively), our energies also undergo a kind of suspended animation while they reorganize into a new cycle.

I know that when one door closes another always opens...but man, these hallways are a bitch!
~ author unknown

Psychologically, especially under Pluto transits and other Scorpionic energies, we experience the deconstruction of what was and will usually endure a time of emotional or spiritual hibernation while we await our personal spring when we come alive again.

So what happens to hope while we're in that transition state? Sometimes it can seem to be lost for a little while. Like the quote above, we are currently navigating through an astrological hallway between the dark caverns of Scorpio transformation and the light of Jupiterian hope. One way the New Moon chart shows this is in the Scorpio Sun and Moon that oppose Jupiter in Taurus.

On one hand, there is the Scorpionic need to dig down below the surface if we are to tap into whatever is buried there. On the other hand, there is the Jupiterian glitter of promising treasure to be had, but it's as if there's a hard shell that first must be penetrated without breaking what's inside it.

At the same time, this dichotomy is also echoed in a T-square that includes Mars opposite Neptune. Mars (Scorpio's traditional ruler) is in Leo -- all dressed up and looking for a stage on which to show off. Neptune is in Aquarius, the sign of the Collective, where individual priorities can become assimilated into the greater needs of the group (resistance is futile).

Rainbow Sundog cloud phenomenon

So we have intense energy (Mars) looking for a way to break through the clouds and into the sunshine, looking for approval and purpose in an enigmatic face that can mirror universal love or illusion or both (Neptune). The result could feel like a light that guides us through a storm, or it may turn out to be a mirage, a trick of lighting.

It might not be possible to tell which, just yet, and this is part of the nature of Neptune – you have to take so much of it on faith. There's very little that's concrete, direct or clear about Neptune, and what little there is may simply reveal that what you thought was real, isn't.

There is a lot of potential for disappointment and disillusionment in Neptune, but there is also potential for something wondrous, magical and inspiring. You just don't usually know which it is until after the fact, when you find out where the Yellow Brick Road has brought you. So again we are traversing the liminal spaces between light and dark, between hope and decay.

It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
~ Wendell Berry

At the New Moon, Mercury and Venus are closely conjunct in Scorpio. Mercury has been chasing Venus for the last couple of weeks. He'll actually get close enough for a wisp of her hair to tickle his nose – just 3 itty bitty minutes of arc away on Nov.08 – but he doesn't quite make it. Mercury starts to slow down for the next retrograde cycle and Venus moves on without him. They won't see each other again until next June. In the meantime, they are virtually arm-in-arm. They travel in tandem that way for quite some time, forming the same aspects sometimes within hours of each other. This continues for the next 3 weeks and will colour much of how other transits will manifest.

In general, Mercury and Venus form an impressive alliance, blending Mercury's perceptual and articulation skills with Venus' artistic and diplomatic flair. It can be a very persuasive combination, and when you filter this through Scorpio, that persuasiveness can become so compelling it could even get a little overwhelming for the recipient. At worst, they could tip into the area of seduction and hidden agendas, although at best they could provide penetrating insight that is offered with love and finesse.

T-square: Mars opposite Neptune squaring Mercury and Venus

Venus and Mercury are at the apex of the T-square mentioned earlier, where the Mercury-Venus conjunction squares both Mars and Neptune. In fact, the Venus-Mars square is one of the closest aspects at the time of the New Moon (4 minutes of orb, applying). The T-square itself lasts from Oct.26 to Nov.03.

The T-square implies that the way we will instinctively try to mediate between the self-expressive Mars and the inscrutable Neptune is through gut intuition and articulating what that intuition is telling us. Mercury and Venus in Scorpio pose the question: What are you really passionate about? What really speaks to your deepest authenticity? If what you're trying to see in the mirror of hope and promise doesn't reflect something about your deepest nature, then you might not be seeing what's there clearly.

Be careful about taking what you see there at face value. What speaks to your deepest authenticity might reveal something wonderful and beautiful about you—or it might also show you something unsettling that you need to face, learn about, reclaim and transform. Whatever it is, know that you are seeing it because you are ready to face it. Remember that transformation like this takes time. It's a process, not an event. Allow it to evolve and unfold at its own pace, with a little nudging and encouragement from your intentions.

What helps this process is a tight trine aspect (120°) between Jupiter and Pluto. This shows that there is a way to cross that abyss between hope and disappointment; between enlightenment and desolation; between gritty transformation and visionary higher purpose. The Yellow Brick Road can take you through the enchanted forest and the sleep-inducing poppy fields and on to the Emerald City. The trick is you need to hang in there with the journey and allow it to take you there in its own way. And who knows what kindred spirits you'll meet along the way! :-)

Did you miss my Mini-Reading Day on October 25th? It seems quite a few people weren't able to book a reading in time, so I've scheduled a second day of Mini-Readings: Sunday, October 30th. 20-30 minute live phone reading with me for only $45! I'll even cover the long distance! (see details) Space is limited so be sure to book early. :-)

Oct.26 – Venus square Mars (21:59 of Scorpio/Leo)  (Oct.27 in AU)

Your receptive, diplomatic side is arguing with your assertive, decisive side. The result is either a battle of wills between your Yin and Yang, or a new creative energy that harnesses both. This could manifest in the form of relationship problems, financial struggles, arguments about control, or you are propelled to take action with plans that have been percolating for a while. If you're usually more comfortable with your Yin side (receptive, diplomatic), you might feel a bit backed into a corner or forced to negotiate under pressure. If you're more at home in your Yang side (assertive, action-oriented), you may feel compelled to blunt or sheathe the sword you would prefer to smite your enemy with. Either way, this is about balancing the two sides and finding a new cooperation that works for both.

Oct.28 – Mercury square Mars (22:55 of Scorpio/Leo) (Oct.29 in AU)

Fiery speech, argument and hot debate characterise this transit. This could come in the form of conflict, or it might be stimulating and challenging – or both! One thing to watch out for is that you may have a short fuse for a temper, and the same may be true for others around you. It can be a time when you blurt out things you later regret, or you might finally find the courage to do something that's long overdue. The problem is that one can easily look like the other, and what feels like courage in the moment might look more like reckless haste in retrospect. Harsh words can't always be taken back, so keep a grip on your objectivity and better judgment while you're verbally fighting the dragons. Use this energy to stoke your motivational fires, and use your ideas to generate positive action. It can help to pace your mental energy like racing a horse, which can harness abundant energy to fuel your decisions, courage and resolve.

Oct.28 – Jupiter trine Pluto (05:20 of Taurus/Capricorn)  (Oct.29 in AU)

The quest for freedom, wisdom and truth (Jupiter) now works cooperatively with the cycle of transformation, destruction and renewal (Pluto). The effects of this transit aren't likely to be flashy or perhaps even obvious. However, you now have access to optimism and far-reaching vision that can provide a more positive context to any difficulty you might be having in shedding old baggage, letting go of attachments or simply seeing your life changing at a very deep level. It is also a time when you can bring your understanding and wisdom to shine a light on that deep change, to light a candle in the dark corners of what is unfamiliar or scary.

This is the first of three passes of this transit: Jul.08, Oct.28 and Mar.13.2012.

Oct.28 – Sun opposite Jupiter (05:17 of Scorpio/Taurus)  (Oct.29 in UK, AU)

Your confidence and ambitions may become amplified, possibly to the point of becoming a problem under this transit. It may be difficult to judge how much is too much versus just enough, and it could just be easier want more and more..."just in case." You may feel the urge to travel or do something that could expand your horizons (literally or figuratively). However, satisfaction may seem just out of reach under this transit, so there is a risk of pushing too hard and lacking perspective or good judgment. You could find that tolerance, compassion and understanding are hard to find, either in you toward others or in others toward you (or both). You are seeing things through a mental magnifying lens, which may be distorting your perceptions or reactions. On the other hand, this can be a good time to take an honest look at how closely you are living by your integrity and values. Feedback might come from others who could be seeing something more clearly than you can see it in yourself. Or, you might find that a minor irritation about someone or something outside of yourself suddenly becomes a major problem. This is probably because you're seeing it more clearly (although not necessarily more accurately). The lesson of this transit is that everything gets amplified together – the positive and the negative, and at a certain point the difference between them may become meaningless. Reaching a balanced understanding of all that lies within that expanded view is the key to gaining wisdom from the experience.

Oct.31 – Sun sextile Pluto (05:20 of Scorpio/Capricorn)  (Oct.29 in UK, AU)

Your sense of purpose is potentially strong now, being able to tap into a deeper level of energy and determination. Your personality may be more forceful now, which can be great if you need to make a strong impression but perhaps not so much in situations requiring delicacy or subtlety. You have greater ability to see below the surface of things now, although it may not be as easy to put it all together and understand what it all means. It can be possible to unearth secrets or get at the core of unconscious patterns (yours and others'). However, you'll have to work to harvest the fruit of these potentials, and some of the insights and benefits may not become apparent until later.

Oct.31 – Venus square Neptune (28:09 of Scorpio/Aquarius)  (Nov.01 in AU)

Money, material resources, relationships and pleasure could be subject to confusion, deception, or unrealistic wishful thinking under this transit. It may seem that what you thought you had (love, friendship, pleasure, money, resources) has suddenly disappeared or isn't as dependable as you thought it was. You might feel disappointed, disillusioned, sad or alone, but this is more likely to be a passing phase than a serious crisis. The question is: what are your secret longings and subtle desires that may be operating unconsciously? These could be clouding your ability to relate to people and situations in your life. Old addictions, depression or idealism may surface as way of dealing with feelings. A better outlet would be to channel your feelings and experiences into creativity, beauty, inspiration and compassion; for example, art, music or helping others.

Nov.01 – Mercury square Neptune (28:09 of Scorpio/Aquarius)

Your mental focus may be a bit clouded, confused or lethargic right now, as your conscious mind struggles to grasp the formless, limitless expanse of the Universe and the unconscious. You may experience some disillusionment or disappointment, in your observations or communication with others. However, what is flowing under the surface of events right now is the need to dissolve away the crust of old expectations that blocks your view from seeing a greater Truth. If you're feeling off-balance, try to listen more than you talk, so that you can be receptive to your inner sensitivity. Left-brain analysis might be difficult to work with right now unless you balance it with a lot of right-brain intuition. You may have to let go of a rigid mindset, or give up what you think you understand about a situation in your life, in order to open yourself to a new perspective that is difficult to define but is ultimately in the best interest of your spiritual growth.

Nov.02 – Venus enters Sagittarius (until Nov.26)

Venus focuses her passion on truth-seeking, philosophical exploration, a lust for knowledge, spiritual intimacy, music in foreign languages and multicultural social discourse. It is a time to explore the meaning that your close relationships bring to your life, and the value that you bring to the Significant Others in your life. It is also a time when you might seek to increase your income (or your spending – careful!) and expand your potential for material wealth and self-worth. You will likely find that negotiations, interactions and transactions work best when you apply spiritual values to them and keep the big picture in mind. You may also find yourself involved with people and transactions that involve other countries, cultures, languages and travel. There could be a teaching-learning element in your dealings with people, so aim for the highest good of all concerned.

Nov.02 – Mercury enters Sagittarius (until Jan.08.2012)  (Nov.03 in AU)

Communication, ideas, thoughts and perceptual "spark" become expanded in Sagittarius. Your mental focus tends toward a philosophical and spiritual outlook that seeks the highest truth in the broadest context. However, it's not always easy for the conscious mind to assimilate and digest such a vast territory of knowledge, or to find the higher meaning in mountains of raw information. You might feel a bit overwhelmed by trying to take in such a panoramic view of your world, but the gifts from doing so are abundant and inspiring! To get the most out of this transit, try learning something new that expands your horizon. Or pick a situation in your life and imagine that you're looking at it from a mountaintop – what do you see from way up there that you can't see when you're closer to the ground? Just remember that whatever visions and insights you get from doing this, these are SOME of the truths to be found, but not necessarily the only truth. Leave room in your new understanding to remember that every mountaintop shows a slightly different view and that this doesn't make one mountain right and the others wrong.

Nov.02 – Venus square Chiron (00:40 of Sagittarius/Pisces)  (Nov.03 in AU)

You may be forced to make adjustments to relationships and/or finances now, as you face situations in these areas that just don't want to balance out the way you want them to. You may feel a bit like you're in a catch-22 (no-win situation), where the more you try to find balance and harmony, the more you feel like you're chasing your own tail around in circles. This is a time when healing in relationships and financial problems may be difficult to obtain. Harmony in these areas can seem impossible or blocked, yet it is still necessary to keep trying. By trying anyway, it may be possible to find a solution that meets your needs, even if it may not be what you wanted, hoped for or expected. Strive to find a creative solution that draws on your best side.

Nov.03 – Mercury square Chiron (00:40 of Sagittarius/Pisces)

Your mental focus and perceptions may feel a bit strained right now. You could find yourself locked in a struggle of indecision that stems from a "glass half empty" versus "glass half full" dilemma. It may be difficult to stay objective and evenly balanced in your perspective, but by working with this you could also find a new mental focus that gives you increased clarity. It might be tempting to sink into cynicism as a way to deal with what seems like a no-win situation. On the other hand, this transit could bring your mental perspective to a kind of "healing crisis" that forces you to get a better grip on the ideas, communication and frame of mind that have been problematic for you. Instead of reaching for extremes (hoping this will clarify the path in front of you), it will help more if you can take a few steps back to allow all the conflicting and out-of-sync elements to coexist together – creative paradox. If you have been in denial about something, this could be a turning point that allows you to grapple with the complex reality of your situation.

Nov.03 – Venus trine Uranus (01:11 of Sagittarius/Aries)

Spontaneity and liberation burst into your relationships, finances, resources and pleasures. You might feel compelled to try something completely different that shakes up the "same-old-same-old" routines you're used to. The upside is that you have the opportunity to break free of some old habits and breathe some fresh air into your life. But the downside could come in the form of impulse spending beyond your budget, or recklessness in your interactions and relationships. Strive to break free of what holds you back from being your true self, without destroying the structure of order in your life.

Nov.03 – Mercury trine Uranus (01:11 of Sagittarius/Pisces)  (Nov.04 in AU)

Unusual ideas, flashes of insight and seeing unexpected possibilities are all part of this transit. You may find it easier to be open-minded right now, especially about insights that have eluded you. Your ability to see beyond your usual horizon of perception can bring visionary brainwaves, as well as a fun sense of humour. You might be inspired to experiment with something new or do something out of character. You might have an impulse to break free of old habits or constraints. This can be a very liberating transit that opens your mind to new possibilities and ideas. However, be careful that you don't become so liberated and spontaneous that you become erratic, hyper or reckless. Words may come tumbling out of your mouth before you've had a chance to consider their wisdom, or you might find yourself talking non-stop and interrupting, creating a bit of awkwardness in those around you. On the other hand, you might also find the clarity and vision that gives you the words to speak your truth with new conviction. It's a great time to do some writing or other form of self-expression, especially if it's spontaneous or involving technology.

Nov.05 – Mercury enters Retrograde Shadow (03:51 of Sagittarius)  ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mercury Retrograde.)

Mercury is now "in the Shadow" – the area of Zodiac where it will later go retrograde in about 2½ weeks time. 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 extensive 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. This includes not just talking, but also 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 couple of 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, to plan future projects and get to wherever you're going. Patience is a valuable quality during this time. 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.

Information is the name of the game during a Mercury retrograde cycle! If you're a beginner and want an easy to understand what it's about, check out my articles on Retrogrades.

If you know your way around a chart fairly well, there are two books I highly recommend on retrogrades in general. One is Erin Sullivan's Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape which is detailed, comprehensive and very in-depth. Everything you ever wanted to know about retrograde cycles and planets! Erin's book is also available in a Kindle edition.

Another excellent retrograde book is Joanne Wickenberg's republished and updated Your Hidden Powers: Intercepted Signs and Retrograde Planets, which includes information about interceptions. It too is very comprehensive and detailed about retrograde cycles, including progressions, natal retrograde planets and transiting retrogrades.

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Nov.07 – Mars opposite Neptune (28:08 of Leo/Aquarius)

For up to a week before and after today, you have a chance to discover and work with your blind spots and the hidden motives that trip you up. You can get a better look at the ideals, hopes, longing and dreams that motivate you. Your actions may reach for heights of inspiration or the ecstasy of surrender. This could bring release of tension...or an encounter with illusion and deception – and it might not be easy to know which is which. It could feel like you are spinning your wheels or "shadow-boxing" and not sure why. You may be dealing with a hidden agenda or unconscious motives (yours or someone else's). You might be trying to apply a proactive solution to an ambiguous situation, and wonder why it doesn't work very well. Responding to conflicts or obstacles in a passive-aggressive or manipulative way could be tempting under this transit, since it may be hard to know how to take direct and effective action. Resentment might become a defiant way to express "toothless" anger. Part of the problem may be that you are fighting against your own unconscious idealism. Feelings of disappointment, helplessness or frustration may bring up deeper feelings from your unconscious, making it difficult to know how to respond effectively in the here-and-now. Being honest with yourself about what's really going on inside you will go a long way toward increasing your empowerment.

Nov.09 – Neptune Stationary Direct (28:08 of Aquarius)  (Nov.10 in AU)  ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Retrograde planets. )

Neptune now turns direct after being retrograde for about 5 months. For up to a week before and after this date, you might feel a bit dreamy, disconnected, depressed, sluggish or scatter-brained. The Neptune energy takes you into a non-rational, intuitive place and can stir up feelings and issues from the unconscious. Vivid dreams could give you insight into situations you have been wrestling with, and your intuitive sensitivity might seem to come out of nowhere. Or you might experience the opposite—your dreams elude you and you feel cut off from your usual intuitive sense. What is happening is that your "right-brain" (intuitive, creative, non-rational, faith-oriented) is passing the torch to your "left-brain" (rational, logical, linear, practical), and you can get caught in the whirlpool of transition. Try not to control the process, but allow it to carry you and point you in a different direction. The learning you have gathered over the last five months or so—related to spirituality, longing, inspiration, creativity, imagination, fantasy, divination and intuition—can now start to be applied more directly in your life over the next few months. It may be possible to channel your experience into a creative form—possibly artistic, but definitely creating something new out of what has been, which can ultimately be healing and uplifting.

Full Moon in Taurus
Chart of the Full Moon in Taurus

Nov.10 – FULL MOON in Taurus (18:04 of Taurus)  (Nov.11 in AU)

FULL MOON in TAURUS

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Nov.10, 2011, 3:16 PM EDT

London, UK:

Nov.10, 2011, 8:16 PM BST

Sydney, AU:

Nov.11, 2011, 7:16 AM AEST

"What's a Full Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

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

Inch by inch, row by row,
Gonna make this garden grow,
Gonna mulch it deep and low,
Gonna make it fertile ground...
~ David Mallett (The Garden Song, as sung by Arlo Guthrie)

Before you can plant a seed, you first have to dig down below the surface. Till the soil, loosen it up, aerate it, fertilize it. Only then are you ready to plant the seed.

The Scorpio New Moon (Oct.26) dredged up a lot of soul searching about how to traverse the gap from despair to hope. The Full Moon in Taurus is the next step in this journey.

The Scorpio New Moon asked: where does hope go when you enter the Scorpionic underworld of transformation?

The Taurus Full Moon's answer: it sprouts roots and grows in the form of something new.

And yet, in order to do that, the seed itself must decompose, be cracked open and endure life-force changes in its fundamental substance. Growth and rebirth, although often anticipated as a wholesome, healing experience in gentle Taurus, is seriously not for the timid!

The Taurus Full Moon has all the ingredients to lead us through a robust yet complicated process to emerge from the Scorpionic Underworld into the light of day.

Complicated how? For one thing, the Sun and Moon have no other major aspects to the rest of the chart, other than their opposition to each other (a.k.a. Full Moon). They do have some powerful minor aspects to other planets, though, and these form an intricate yet solid skeletal structure in the chart.

And guess which planets are woven into that skeletal structure? Yup, you got it—Uranus and Pluto in square aspect to each other (90°). That Uranus-Pluto square seems to permeate everything these days!

Untilled soil, however fertile it may be, will bear thistles and thorns; and so it is with man's mind.
~ St. Teresa of Avila

Cradle aspect pattern

Together these four bodies (Sun, Moon, Uranus, Pluto) form an aspect pattern that I've never seen a name for. The aspect pattern is a bit like a Cradle aspect onfiguration, which is composed of two planets in opposition, with two more planets in sextile (60°) and trine (120°) to the opposed planets. The Cradle is found in charts of people who have a knack for finding ways to soothe and reassure in times of stress. While this can be a very creative dynamic, Cradle people may also find it difficult to deal directly with that stress of the opposition because it's just too easy to find refuge in the ease of the trine and sextile planets.

Aspect pattern

In the current aspect figure, instead of sextiles and trines, there are two planets in sesquiquadrate (45°) and semisquare (45°) aspect to the opposition. These aspects are part of the octile family (based on division of the circle by 8) and related to the stressful yet dynamic square aspect family. (The semisquare is "half a square" and the sesquiquadrate is "a square and a half.") The octile aspects are not gentle, creative, warm and fuzzy, like the trines and sextiles. Rather, they tend to be prickly, irritating and vexing.

However, like other aspects in the octile family, they can also be very motivating and dynamic. Although the octiles are not considered "major" aspects, don't underestimate their potency! It's a bit like sitting on a tack: it doesn't have enough brute force to do serious damage, but it's uncomfortable enough that it's likely to get you up out of your seat pretty quickly!

So, instead of supporting you in a nurturing way, like the Cradle does, this aspect figure holds you in place with prickly precision. Its effect is that a little discomfort will go a long way in provoking change and/or that only small adjustments can be made to reorient you in a better direction. I suppose we could call it a Hard Cradle, but perhaps a better name for it would be an Iron Maiden. ;-)

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones, We are made of dreams and bones,
Need a place to call my own, 'Cause the time is close at hand...
~ David Mallett (The Garden Song)

So just what is holding us in place? What needs to be adapted, integrated and allowed to nudge us in a different direction? Well, it all goes back to that transformation/rebirth thing again. You've got to dig deep before you can plant a new seed. We've been doing that since the New Moon in Scorpio, although preparing the ground involves more than just sticking a shovel in the dirt. You've got to remove the debris and get rid of the weeds and anything else that isn't what you want to grow there. It's all about purging the old in order to make way for the new.

And the Uranus-Pluto square is only too happy to help with the task! Together, Uranus and Pluto are capable of tackling even the rockiest terrain with a pick axe, dynamite and a backhoe, transforming it into fertile ground (or at least useable). Since we're dealing with trans-personal energies here, this transformation is tapping into larger-than-life forces.

On a personal level, you might feel like your back is to the wall and you have little choice but to make changes in your life. Your usual stability or routines could be getting shaken up, forcing you to become empowered in a different way in order to keep up with the instability.

On the other hand, you might be "occupied" by a passionate desire to make dramatic changes in a world that seems to be falling apart. No matter which side of the political divide you're on, it seems we all see a world that is not as we feel it should be and is in sore need of change. While Taurus seeks stability and Scorpio seeks control, Uranus and Pluto are saying, "Not yet! There's work to be done first."

Inch by inch, row by row, Please bless these seeds I sow,
Please keep them safe below, 'Til the rain comes tumbling down...
~ David Mallett (The Garden Song)

To continue our gardening analogy: once the ground is prepared, it's time to deal with the seeds. There are two possibilities here. You might be moving toward a summer growing season (as is happening, literally, in the southern hemisphere). Symbolically, you might be heading into a time of fruition (which can happen regardless of where you are in the world). Your life will be expanding and building itself up now, so that you can harvest the outcome later.

Garden

In this case, it is a time to "plant your seeds" and cultivate your hope and intentions for renewal. Pull your dormant potential out of storage, plant it using your creative imagination, and make a commitment to follow your dreams through the entire growth cycle. This will probably work best if you are guided and inspired by your dreams, but navigate using realistic tools and resources. And remember that you are a co-creator of your life, with some things within your control and other things that are not. You can do everything right and still need to wait for the rain. Taurus patience is a blessing.

On the other hand, you might be moving toward a winter season in your life (which we are, literally, here in the northern hemisphere). Symbolically, this is a time of letting go of what was, as you enter a period of darkness and mystery waiting, for rebirth. It is an ending time, and yet not. Like any good farmer, you don't just throw away your seeds after the harvest. You collect them, protect them and put them in storage, so that they'll be ready when the earth is receptive to new growth again.

In this case, it's symbolically a time to invest in some long-term hope and vision that can carry you through a season of hibernation. That doesn't mean you cease to function, nor that your life becomes stuck. You might need to go away from actively pursuing a dream for a while, so you can come back to it fresh later. It means some deep part of you might go into a spiritually meditative state for a while, where you allow the Universe to do its part in a hidden place, while you pursue other things on the conscious surface.

Grain for grain, sun and rain, Find my way in nature's chain,
Tune my body and my brain to the music of the land...
~ David Mallett (The Garden Song)

Whether you're moving into a summer phase or a winter phase, they are both a necessary part of the natural growth cycle. It's crucial to work cooperatively with the process, not try to impose control over it. You can't grow anything if you keep going out into the field to tug on the shoots, telling them to "grow faster," or transplanting them over and over to perfect their position. Growth and rebirth form an organic process that needs to unfold in its own time and in its own way. Too much control or perfectionism can sabotage it.

And in the case of a symbolic winter, the Universe must be able to "do its thing" behind the scenes. If you insist on trying to plant seeds in the frozen ground—pushing forward prematurely or forcing something to work that conflicts with its true nature—you'll wonder why your efforts are unsuccessful. Neither can you hurry the process by continually going out to check on winter's progress. It's like trying to bake a soufflé when you keep opening the oven door to see how it's doing.

There is a cyclical rhythm in nature that we, as creatures of nature, must follow. When we try to control it and direct it, running from the hard stuff and hiding in the easy stuff, we risk disconnecting from those natural cycles, and then the outcome can become diluted or damaged.

Taurus is all about "tuning your body and brain to the music of the land" and other natural rhythms. Taurus, the Fixed Earth sign, knows the value of patience and cultivation. It's all about pleasure—not just sensory pleasure to sooth or stimulate the ego, but the kind of well being and peace that comes with knowing that all things must pass. What goes around comes around. When you try to rush, control or manipulate the process too much, you interrupt its natural rhythms and sabotage the effectiveness of the outcome.

In the end, you have to let go, surrender to the process and risk failure, in order to allow for success. You have to enter into the darkness of hibernation before you can awaken to renewal. And you need to prepare and plan your resources in order to have what you need available when you need it. Surrendering to the process doesn't mean you get to sit back and not participate. It means you work cooperatively with the process, balancing nature with nurture, and allowing the cycle to proceed in its own way.

It also doesn't mean it has to be a serious experience...

If I should die before I wake, All my bone and sinew take,
Put me in the compost pile, To decompose me for a while,
Worms, water, sun will have their way, Returning me to common clay,
All that I am will feed the trees and little fishies in the seas,
When radishes and corn you munch, You may be having me for lunch,
And then excrete me with a grin, Chortling "There goes Lee again!"
~ Lee Hayes (In Dead Earnest, as sung by Pete Seeger)

Venus, the planetary ruler of Taurus, is now in Sagittarius exactly conjunct Mercury—both at 10°. This union has been building for a long time, but at the last minute Mercury gets distracted and decides to go back and check out some old girlfriends just to be sure he's not making a mistake. He'll catch up with her again in June 2012. In the meantime, they get together in a tight triple conjunction with the North Lunar Node on Nov.13-14.

As with the Sun and Moon, Mercury and Venus have no major aspects to the rest of the chart either. There is only a semisquare (45°) to Saturn. Although these Sagittarian planets are excited by the prospect of reaching out for freedom and truth, Saturn is cramping their style by clamping on a bunch of conditions and rules—all for their own good, of course. It means that truth needs to have some basis in provable fact, and any freedom must include a responsibility and accountability clause.

Mars conjunct Regulus, opposite Chiron and Neptune

Mars is (still!) opposite Neptune and Chiron, as it has been for a couple of weeks now. What makes this time special is that both Neptune and Chiron are stationary at the time of the Full Moon. Both have been retrograde for several months and are just now turning direct again. Chiron, especially, turns direct less than 3 hours after the Full Moon is exact, and Neptune turns direct the day before the Full Moon.

Since stationary planets are extremely strong in their energy, this opposition is likely to be surprisingly strong at the Full Moon. Stationary Neptune casts a mystical spell over the chart, surrounding it in a warm mist that makes it oh sooo easy to just let go of trying so hard to maintain your current direction. Or, it could coax you into letting go of your resistance to move in a particular direction. Either way, you might feel like you just landed in a nice hot Jacuzzi where you just let go, give up, give in and melt into the heat.

Whether this is a help or hindrance for you depends on your situation. Are you avoiding being proactive in some way? This could be a good thing, then. Or, are you trying valiantly to hang onto something in an effort to make something happen that just doesn't want to come together? Then letting go might be a good thing since it could clear the floor for something new and unexpected to appear.

Mars itself is at 29 degrees of Leo. The final degree of a sign is always an awkward place. You're not yet where you will be (in the next sign), but you're not fully engaged in the current sign anymore either. You're doing closure with the current sign's energy, and closure is often something we prefer to skip over—hence the feeling of unrequited longing to be in the next sign. On one hand, closure can be about celebrating what has been, but it's also about saying goodbye to that experience and separation is difficult for most of us. This is a transitional point, and in many ways a very Neptunian kind of energy (regardless of the sign).

So for Mars to be here, opposite a stationary (and very strong) Neptune, don't be surprised if you feel like a lump that's splat on the floor, yet trying valiantly to get focused and proactive. On the other hand, this could also be a time when you consciously are able to shed old ego attachments and become completely open to brand new instructions downloaded from the Universe into your brain.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
~ (Serenity Prayer)

With Chiron being even more stationary, and also opposing that 29° Mars, you are challenged to accept what is or what was, which might feel unacceptable. For example, you might be faced with the awkward realization that you can only do so much with a difficult situation that doesn't have a clear solution or outcome. And yet, there is invaluable wisdom to be gained from the struggle that brings you to that realization. Once we stop insisting that the resolution of a problem must be "thus and so," then the deeper healing can begin because we free ourselves up and can move on.

What also makes this opposition extremely powerful is that Mars is conjunct the fixed star, Regulus. Regulus is the brightest star in the Leo constellation—the heart of the lion. It has long been regarded as a star of royalty, which can bring honours and success to the fortunate person who has it prominently in their chart. However, like any powerful energy, it is likely to backfire if you abuse it.

This potent energy is being brought to bear on Mars, so its energy is made more powerful, for good or ill. Much depends on how it interacts with your chart, too. In general, Mars endeavours might be very successful (assertiveness, ambition, progress, physical energy); however, they might also be risky, reckless or even dangerous (accidents, short temper, violence, arrogance). Mix in the opposition to stationary Neptune and Chiron, and you have a recipe for anything from inspired victory to disappointed disaster.

While Mars-Regulus would be remarkable at any time, it is especially intriguing and important now because Regulus is changing signs! It is moving from the tropical sign of Leo into Virgo. There is much that can be said this! However, I'll just say that it is especially significant because it is moving from a masculine sign into a feminine sign, which echoes a gradual shift in our experience of those energies from a masculine-dominated world to a world where women and feminine energy are more highly valued.

For Mars to be conjunct Regulus at the final degree of Leo, just as Regulus is on the cusp of such a significant transition, it is as if Mars is giving the masculine aspect of Regulus one final salute before it fully assumes a more feminine expression.

Taurus is a feminine energy, ruled by Venus. This yin/yang duality could compete for dominance and become polarized, or they can complement and balance each other. The important thing to remember is that all of life is cyclical, with rhythms and seasons. What goes around comes around; Taurus knows you just have to wait for it. In the meantime, dig deep, prepare the ground and have your seeds ready.

All my life's a circle, sunrise and sundown,
Moon rolls through the night time, 'till daybreak comes around,
All my life's a circle, still I wonder why,
Seasons spinning 'round again, years keep rolling by...
~ Harry Chapin

Nov.10-28 – Grand Trine Kite aspect pattern

Grand Trine Kite aspect pattern

This is an unusually potent Kite aspect figure. Mars, Jupiter and Pluto form a Grand Trine (all 120° from each other). At its best, the combined effect can be about a passionate fight for justice or working hard to expand and enhance a project that has a transformative effect. At its worst, it could amplify anger that becomes hyper-critical of others (just trying to help, of course), while it's a little too easy to assume that your own motives, intentions and behaviour are above reproach. It's not about vindictiveness, really; it's more about excessive but well-intended confidence.

Nov.10 – Chiron Stationary Direct (00:38 of Pisces)  (Nov.11 in AU) ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Retrograde planets. )

For up to a week before and after this date, you may feel a bit like you're caught between worlds—the spiritual versus the physical, the mental versus the emotional, or the outer objective world versus your inner subjective experience. Chiron has been retrograde for the last 4½ months, giving us time to assess the places in our lives that need healing and to discover the ways that we might be wounding ourselves or others. This includes physical health issues, emotional vulnerability and mental perspectives that create more problems than they solve. As Chiron turns direct, everything we have learned over the last five months becomes ready to be applied over the coming three months (while Chiron is still in the Shadow). Right now, you might find you reach a decision or turning point about issues you have wrestled with since May concerning goals, career, expectations or authority. If these issues have been stressful, this might come out now in the form of health problems, so it's a good idea to be gentle yet disciplined with yourself in this area. It could be a time of ambiguity, feeling like you're caught in a whirlpool that mixes up possibilities with limitations. Or, you might experience some clarity, as the paradoxical coexistence of realities and potentials on the path before you come into clearer focus. Either way, it is a time that can be magical because of its ability to bridge the gap between what is and what might be.

Nov.10 – Mars enters Virgo (until Jul.03.2012)  (Nov.11 in UK, AU)

You are likely to have a lot of energy for working in practical ways under this transit. This can be a good time to respond to projects, challenges and obstacles with some analytical problem-solving. It may be easier now to take action in ways that are adaptable and flexible to match the situation at hand. However, it is also possible for your actions to become fragmented or bogged down in detail, so try to approach what you do with a purpose and an easily reachable goal in mind. Health issues may be a focus now, either out of necessity (health problems may flare up) or out of motivation (determination to improve your health). If you are looking for a new job, this could be a good time to get focused and go after what you want. It is also a good time to devote your energy to service of some kind. For example, you could help a friend move, or volunteer at the local food bank, or just perform some "acts of random kindness."

Mars stays in Virgo an unusually long time because it goes retrograde in Virgo in 2012 from Jan.23 until Apr.13. More on this below, when Mars enters the retrograde shadow on Nov.18.

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Nov.12 – Mars opposite Chiron (00:38 of Virgo/Pisces)

Your efforts and physical/emotional/mental energy may struggle with fundamental limitations and latent imperfections under this transit. Weakness or chronic problems in health may flare up now, especially if you are under a lot of stress. It will help to do whatever is necessary to support and take care of yourself. You may find it works better to minimize or prevent deterioration, rather than to attempt a complete cure of whatever ails you. Emotional health may also be affected, bringing out latent issues related to anger, sexuality, assertiveness or courage. This is a time when you can probably see all these problem areas more clearly, and as a result it can seem like they are getting worse. While this may or may not actually be true, you are in a position to respond to these issues in a different way now – precisely because you are able to see the nature of the problems more objectively and clearly. So don't allow yourself to just be intimidated by difficult experiences you might have now; use them to take steps toward a new well-being.

Nov.13-14 – Triple Conjunction

Mercury, Venus and the North Lunar Node all get together for a tête-à-tête at 14 degrees of Sagittarius. They must be performing a secret ritual in a hidden valley somewhere, because there are no other major aspects from them to the rest of the chart during this time. In other words, they're talking with each other but not to anyone else. Although they reach their closest distance on these days, they've been texting each other for some time, anticipating their triple rendezvous. On a personal level, this is your head and your heart daydreaming about the perfect lover, or imagining what it would feel like to attain perfect wisdom, or channelling a Pulitzer Prize winning book on how to create harmony in our diverse, multicultural world, or... You get the idea. So, keep an eye on your background thoughts, desires, dreams and imaginings. There might be hidden treasure in them! Watch also for people coming into your life who can help you achieve your heart's desire, and/or you theirs.

Nov.13 – Venus conjunct North Lunar Node (14:18 of Sagittarius)  (Nov.14 in AU)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

Your love, beauty and joy are especially visible to others right now. You are likely to be at your most attractive – both in body and personality. You could become a magnet for what you desire today – just be careful what you ask for, since you might get it! What you attract to you might be material abundance, admiration and appreciation from others, or perhaps a sense of well-being that brings you into a more beautiful balance with those around you. This can also be a time when you begin a new relationship or social contact, or perhaps you begin a journey to make yourself or your world more beautiful, loving and kind. At worst, or if other stressful transits are also in effect, you might also have a tendency to fall into over-indulgence, empty glamour or compulsive craving.

Nov.14 – Mercury conjunct North Lunar Node (14:18 of Sign)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

Ideas are in focus, especially when they're shared with others. It could be a time when you observe or notice something new, giving you a new perspective that you will mull over for the coming several months. Or you might be called upon to give a talk or presentation that shares information with others. It might be an especially active time with emails, Facebook, Twitter or texting. Communication and collection of thoughts and ideas is the central theme here. Keep your eyes, mind and curiosity open – the world could be showing you something important and fascinating!

Nov.16 – Mars trine Jupiter (02:50 of Virgo/Taurus)  (Nov.17 in AU)

Energy, assertiveness, aggression and sexuality are amplified during this time. Physical, mental and emotional energy can run high. Your motivation can take on an air of confidence and purpose. If you normally shrink back from asserting yourself, this can be a time when it's a bit easier to find the courage to take a stand. It can also make you more sensitive to this amplified energy in others around you. If you are distressed by Mars energy in general (afraid of anger, intimidated by aggression, cautious about sexuality, etc.), this transit might bring a bit more of it than you can comfortably handle. However, it can also give you an opportunity to experience and make friends with this energy. If you typically enjoy high energy, this can be a time when you can make progress with plans and projects, and have flirtatious or impish fun along the way.

Nov.18-28 – T-square aspect pattern

T-square aspect pattern

This T-square aspect figure starts with Mars opposite Neptune and Chiron, and then adds the Sun in square aspect to both sides of the opposition. This is essentially the same T-square from Oct.26-Nov.03, when the Venus-Mercury conjunction formed the apex point. You might feel like you're a bit stuck, with your self-confidence and physical energy not as accessible as they usually are. On the other hand, this may also be a time when you can shed light on the underlying roots of lethargy, cynicism, discouragement or depression you might have. Since this aspect pattern is in orb for the upcoming Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius on Nov.25, there will be more about this energy and how to work constructively with it.

Nov.18 – Mars enters the Retrograde Shadow (03:40 of Virgo)  ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mars Retrograde.  Read more about Mars Retrograde cycle.)

Mars now enters the Retrograde Shadow—the area of the Zodiac where it will go retrograde. Similar to when Mercury goes into the Retrograde Shadow, you will start to increasingly feel the effects of the coming Mars retrograde over the next couple of months. Mars retrograde can increase—or decrease—the things to do with Mars: anger, physical energy, motivation, sexual energy, etc. The important thing to remember is that, as with all retrogrades, Mars retrograde will require the reconsideration or redoing of things to do with Mars. So, the Mars-like themes emerge in your life during this Shadow time are likely to need reworking later when Mars goes retrograde.

For example, you may feel an urgency to take action that winds up having to be reconsidered or redirected later (during or after the retrograde period). You might feel very motivated, focused and driven to make progress with plans and ideas you have been thinking about, although needing to make some changes to these plans while Mars is retrograde. You could feel increasingly on a "short fuse" due to feeling pressured or stressed. You might become more sensitive to the hostility, anger, sexual energy, frustration or defensiveness in others. This tension could become unavoidable during the retrograde period, forcing you to deal with conflicts that have been building for a while. Or, tensions might suddenly drop during the retrograde, like the calm centre of a hurricane, giving you a period of "cease-fire" in which to reconsider your position and decide which battles are important enough to fight and which ones are best left alone. Your physical energy may also increase or decrease during this time.

Nov.20 – Sun square Neptune (28:10 of Scorpio/Aquarius)  (Nov.21 in AU)

Your ideals, hopes and wishful thinking may loom a little too large during this time, making you prone to disappointment and disillusionment. You might want a fantasy or dream to come true so much that you disconnect from the reality that seems to be in the way – only to find that the obstacle was serving a positive purpose after all. Your imagination may be very active now, but not easy to control or balance with reality. However, it can be a very creative time if you're able to harness that imagination for productive use. Unconscious urges and longings may be especially close to the surface, so you have an opportunity to learn more about the hidden forces that drive you (and perhaps distort your view of the world around you). Spiritually, you might discover that your yearning for enlightenment is not the straightforward path you had hoped for, but it can be just as valuable (although disappointing) to discover what is *not* your best path. Emotionally you may feel a bit overwhelmed, discouraged or confused. On the plus side, you have an opportunity to observe a deeper part of you, which is usually camouflaged against the distracting background of day-to-day life. There is tremendous creative, spiritual and healing potential to be found by listening to and working with the inner voices from those depths.

Nov.22 – Venus sextile Saturn (24:48 of Sagittarius/Libra)

It is possible to find some stability in your relationships and finances under this transit, especially if you are willing to negotiate fairly and realistically. You have increased ability to be disciplined about spending and budgeting, and to invest in 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 your interaction with others. Commitment and structure may be easier to approach and achieve than if you take risks now. Your self-worth can benefit from this transit because you may be less inclined to give in to mood swings. On the other hand, 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.

Nov.22 – Sun enters Sagittarius (until Dec.22)  (Nov.23 in AU)

Happy Solar Return to all Sagittarians! While the Sun is in Sagittarius, we all get to explore our horizons, seek our highest truth, discover our spirituality and gain fresh wisdom. Sagittarius energy encourages us to reach beyond our grasp, to exceed our limitations, and to rise above our primal impulses. Whether we are encountering other cultures, countries and languages, or expanding our horizons through new knowledge or spiritual awareness, this is a time to be uplifted and inspired. We are challenged to explore meaning in our lives and to connect with whatever we regard as sacred and sublime. In Sagittarius we also gather new knowledge and understanding, making sense of the patterns and themes within the raw information around us. It is not enough to simply have facts and data. Sagittarius presents us with the opportunity to reach for the highest truth we know, and then to exercise that truth in moral and ethical ways. The trap we must be careful to avoid is that it's easy to assume that our truth is truth for everyone else too, which is not necessarily the case. Our well-meaning wish for others to experience the inspiration and passion that we feel can seem to turn us into self-righteousness know-it-alls. It's tempting to believe that we are privy to knowledge that others are denied. There can be a fine line between sharing passionate knowledge versus shoving opinions down someone's throat. Everyone has their unique perspective on life, and therefore their own sense of meaning and truth that works for them. And yet, debating and challenging each other's knowledge, beliefs and values are also an important part of the Sagittarius passion for exploration. As the Sun journeys through Sagittarius, expand your awareness of how these issues play out in your life.

Nov.23 – Sun square Chiron (00:43 of Sagittarius/Pisces)

Your self-confidence and patience may be a bit strained right now, stretched by the urge to break free of chronic constraints. Motivation and self-esteem may seem to sag and suffer from old problems that you thought were resolved. This is probably because you are seeing "the flaws in the system" that are preventing you from getting the results you want. It will help to take a fresh approach to your situation. You may need to let go of what you think the results "should be" or how they should come to you. Be open to getting what you want in a different form than you were expecting. You may have to work extra hard for results now, especially if it means having to find a different route to success. If it seems like a door of opportunity has closed, look for an unexpected advantage or hidden alternative. This could allow you to tap into other opportunities that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

Nov.23 – Sun trine Uranus (00:45 of Sagittarius/Aries)

You are more open than usual to spontaneity, surprises and "flying by the seat of your pants!" Your sense of humour and fun are let loose during this transit, as is your ability to break out of old outworn habits. You may get a flash of insight, a burst of courage or a surge of inspiration under this transit. The spirit of who you are can become released now, possibly leading to you behaving a bit "out of character." It's a great time to try new things and experiment with something that's out of character for you. In fact, it may be surprising how easy it is to break out of your usual routine...so much so, that it's good to be careful not to be too reckless under this transit. If your self-confidence, self-expression or self-esteem have been stifled or dampened lately, these could come flying out rather erratically, carelessly or chaotically. Strive to have fun pushing the envelope without ripping it. ;-)

Nov.23 – Mars trine Pluto (06:00 of Virgo/Capricorn)  (Nov.24 in AU)

You may feel a strong urge to embrace and engage power, assert your desires and act on deep impulses. Your sexual energy could also be very high now (use it wisely). You might feel like nothing can stop you or hold you back. In fact, the ability to create change and take action is especially strong right now. If you have been preparing to put plans into action, this can be a powerful time to do so. But also be aware that too much of a good thing can sometimes backfire – it is possible to overstep your bounds or come on a bit too strong, with this energy. Suppressed anger, frustration or an urge to "vanquish the enemy" may be expressed more forcefully than you intend. It will help to center yourself and focus on acknowledging your emotions, impulses and power – then use your good judgment when deciding whether or how to act on them.

Nov.24 – Mercury Stationary Retrograde (20:07 of Sagittarius)  ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mercury Retrograde.)

Mercury is now "in the Shadow" – the area of Zodiac where it will later go retrograde in about 2½ weeks time. 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 extensive 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. This includes not just talking, but also 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 couple of 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, to plan future projects and get to wherever you're going. Patience is a valuable quality during this time. 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.

Nov.24 – Venus sextile Neptune (28:12 of Sagittarius/Aquarius)  (Nov.25 in UK, 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!

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