The Low-Down on the Far-Out

Full Moon in Gemini, December 2016

Chart for the Full Moon in Gemini
Chart for the Full Moon in Gemini

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.
~ Albert Einstein, Old Man's Advice to Youth: Never Lose a Holy Curiosity, LIFE Magazine, May 1955

Dec.13 – FULL MOON in GEMINI (22:25 of Gemini)

When it comes to information, Gemini is a card carrying hoarder. The more the better! Driven by curiosity and the love of having facts, figures, ideas and theories at one's fingertips, Gemini is second to none as the go-to person for everything you always wanted to know about ______ (fill in the blank).

Gemini isn't usually big on digging deep into research or spending a lot of time poring over the data to glean meaning and wisdom from it—unless it continues to tickle their interest. Gemini usually prefers the option of flitting from one thought to another in free association.

So when challenged by Saturn to commit to the goal of reorganizing and reassessing the structure and purpose of all those ideas, Gemini tends to groan. Maybe even pout a little.

There are a few indications in the Full Moon chart that the Gemini part of you could be griping about having to finish its homework before it can go out and play. But the Saturn part of you will know that it's "good for you" nonetheless.

It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension.
But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes,
whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.
~ Carl Sagan

At the Gemini Full Moon, Saturn is closely conjunct the Sun and opposite the Moon. When the Gemini Moon tries to fly off in pursuit of the next cool and groovy idea, Saturn could be experienced as a ball-and-chain that keeps Gemini close to the ground.

Now: being grounded is not a bad thing! In fact it can be a very good thing, a useful thing, since it can trim away the fat of flabby thinking and help your thoughts stay lean and fit. If you want results, your ideas need to be based (at least in part) on information that is factual, verifiable and logical, and Saturn is only too happy to provide the reality check that Gemini needs to keep a clear focus.

Gemini might not be happy about this, but ignoring Saturn's agenda and methods runs the risk of becoming lost in a forest of myths, lies, half-truths, wishful thinking and possibly deception. If you want to utilize ideas in a productive way, the information they're based on has to pass muster or else the end result will be skewed.

One classic example is the proliferation of news stories on the Internet that are fake, deceptive, satire, misleading or outright hoaxes. If you hang out on social media – Facebook, Twitter and the like – you know that there is an enormous amount of information being passed around that is false, unreliable, ambiguous, incomplete or biased. And the true stories are often so outlandish and jaw-dropping that it's easy to get the true and the fake stuff mixed up. We live in a time that is often called the Age of Information, but lately it is more like the Age of Misinformation where we don't know how to gauge the validity of information anymore.

If you're at a point where you don't know what to believe anymore, you're not alone. And when you can't trust the validity of the information around you, how can you know what to believe, who to trust and how to make sound decisions? The truth is you can't. And that can lead to anxiety/insecurity or suspicion/rigidity or even hopelessness/depression.

Critical thinking is an essential skill today, whether we're reading a story on Facebook or deciding which cellphone plan to buy or considering whether you agree with an astrology interpretation. Saturn is just the guy to help with that. He'll bring your perception down to the basic information. It might not be fun, optimistic, inspiring or imaginative, but it will be information that you can reasonably rely on and it can help you avoid disappointing surprises.

Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you're thinking in order to make your thinking better.
~ Richard W. Paul

The potential for this Saturn effect is shown in the Full Moon chart in a T-square aspect pattern. Sun and Saturn oppose the Moon, and Chiron squares them all. The opposition indicates a challenge to find a comfortable balance between discipline and playfulness. Depression versus optimism. Logic for the purpose of discovering a workable formula with predictable results, versus logic that's like a game to access and play with thoughts and ideas.

T-square aspect pattern: Sun, Saturn, Moon, Chiron

With Chiron at the apex of the T-square, how well you do or don't balance these contradictions can have a strong effect on your general state of mind and spirit. If you wind up lost in that forest of ambiguity, you could fall into distrust, insecurity or disillusionment. In that case, you may be revisiting some old wounds which can leave you feeling more emotionally vulnerable than you would have expected.

It can help to take some time to get re-centered and grounded by connecting to people, activities, places and experiences that feel more comforting, familiar and pleasurable. Ideally this will work better if it doesn't involve copious amounts of alcohol or other mood/mind-altering escapism.

Better suggestions would be:

Every problem has a solution, although it may not be the outcome that was originally hoped for or expected.
~ Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

The Gemini Full Moon chart shows other indications of the need to become grounded and centered. For one thing, Mercury is in Capricorn which is Saturn's sign. That Gemini Moon is contained by Saturn energy on all sides!

Add to this the fact that Mercury is preparing to go retrograde (Dec.19 to Jan.08). Mercury is currently moving slowly in a sign that already prefers a slow tempo, so you may find that your natural pace is a bit slower than usual this month and it's harder to do things as quickly or intuitively as you'd like to.

At its best, these factors can increase your mental clarity, focus, purpose and productivity, provided you're willing to be patient and allow it to unfold in its own time. You can push it a bit to keep it moving, but there will probably be limits to how much you can do that without stalling the process of whatever you're trying to do.

You may also find yourself in a rather serious, no-nonsense frame of mind—at its worst, even to the point of discouragement, depression, lethargy or just feeling tired. This month being a major holiday season that's intended to be celebrated and enjoyed, the reason for this might be that you're feeling some of the stress that is common at this time of year. If you're in a winter climate, it can sometimes help to expose yourself to as much natural spectrum light as possible.

Another thing to consider is that Mercury's slower pace could be mistaken for less buoyant emotions. This could be especially true if your location is currently in a winter climate. In other words, if your body or brain wants to go at a slower pace, you might be interpreting that as sadness or depression, even though it is more likely about the body's rhythms than your emotional state. Put another way, check to see how much your frame of mind might be a reflection of your body's energy level, not simply a response to your current circumstances.

The holidays are a time of celebration, socializing, magical lights, brilliant colours and some very delectable food and drink. And they are also a time when we can get carried away with overstimulation, overindulgence, high expectations and a bottomless hunger for more, more, more! The Saturn and Capricorn influences along with Mercury's retrograde cycle could help to modify the extremes and keep your energy level more stable and enduring.

Everyone has the right to doubt everything as often as he pleases and the duty to do it at least once. No way of looking at things is too sacred to be reconsidered. No way of doing things is beyond improvement.
~ Edward de Bono, The Use of Lateral Thinking

When Mercury stations retrograde on Dec.19 it will be tightly conjunct Pluto, but just shy of being exact by a little over a degree. Mercury catches up to Pluto again on Jan.29, after it has completed the retrograde cycle and exited the shadow.

This Pluto connection is likely to bring up issues throughout the retrograde cycle related to struggles for power, control and absolute authority, as well as the question of who gets to decide what's right and what's not. Since this is near-conjunction occurs as Mercury turns retrograde, it's likely to intensify the Mercury-Pluto combined effects. This includes communication that can penetrate deeply into the core issues and enable healing, or it could be for manipulation and control in order to gain excessive power over the other person.

Critical thinking will definitely come in handy during this time, whether you're looking to understand someone else's speech and behaviour more objectively (as opposed to emotionally), or to monitor your own words and expression to ensure you're using only as much force as needed.

As Mercury moves into retro-mode, it's a good time to rethink and reassess your situation. Does your measuring stick for right and wrong still make sense? What parts of your life are still working effectively and what is falling short of your best efforts? Is your life stable or is it just stuck? Are you being empowered and capable, or just authoritarian and controlling? Throughout Mercury's retrograde cycle, these kinds of questions are good to ponder, reassess and revise.

Philosophy ought to question the basic assumptions of the age. Thinking through,
critically and carefully, what most of us take for granted is, I believe, the chief task of philosophy,
and the task that makes philosophy a worthwhile activity.
~ Peter Singer, Animal Liberation

Although the Uranus-Pluto square has finished the exact passes, they remain close enough to combine with other planets. Jupiter is now opposite Uranus and square Pluto, which resurrects the Cardinal Cross energy that has moved through the world like a hurricane in the last 9 years or so. This energy moves in and out of focus from November 2016 until October 2017.

Cardinal T-square aspect pattern: Jupiter, Uranus, Pluto, Mercury

During that time Jupiter challenges you to explore what justice and fairness really mean to you. It's a time to question whether these qualities have been sustained or lost during the transformation of the last several years, and to understand how this change has unfolded.

Mercury's station shines a spotlight on the Cardinal Cross and how it may affect your perceptions and decisions. You may be called upon to adjust your worldview and beliefs about life, taking into account the events and experiences of the last several years.

When any kind of big change happens, it sends ripple effects through everything around the epicenter of that change. After several years of upheaval and stress, Jupiter believes it's time to go back to your philosophy of life and see if that might be out of date and in need of a tune-up.

An important part of processing change involves re-integrating new experiences with our existing beliefs and how we understand life. It involves the exploration of inconsistencies and conflicts between how you view human nature and how that might be affecting your decisions, choices and priorities. It's a time of adjustment, and especially under Mercury retrograde, changes of mind are a natural part of that process.

With Mercury turning retrograde within the celestial real estate of the Cardinal Cross, it means this retrograde period can be a good time to delve into some deep soul searching and self-discovery. Capricorn's agenda encourages Mercury to deal with practical, moral and philosophical loose ends in a way that promotes integrity (integration), with stability and endurance in mind.

When Saturn's challenges have been patiently and honestly worked with, and a mature realism arrived at,
the sense of freedom of spirit that can then be released is immense.
~ Anne Whitaker, The Saturn Cycles - Forging the 'Diamond Soul', Mountain Astrologer, Dec/Jan 2017

I want to take this time to wish all of my wonderful readers the happiest of the season! This is a significant time of year—the December Solstice—when the Sun reaches its farthest Southern point and begins its return trip back toward the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, this marks the official beginning of winter with the longest night, while in the Southern Hemisphere it begins summer with maximum daytime hours. Either way, it's a turning point in the year and a time to honour and celebrate the rhythms of nature and our greatest human potential.

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Whatever you celebrate, if indeed you celebrate anything at all, I wish you all the joy, delight, inspiration, fun and peace of mind that your spirit can hold!

Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation,
and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.
~ Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Dec.17 – Mercury returns from Out of Bounds (08:34 Sagittarius to 14:54 Capricorn; next OOB is Jun.16.2017)  (Dec.18 in AU)   ("What does Out of Bounds mean?"   "What is Declination?")

Mercury has been Out of Bounds (OOB) since Nov.18 and now returns within the bounds of the Sun's declination. An in-bounds Mercury is generally easier to work with, where your thoughts, ideas and awareness works more constructively with the world around you. You might find you have new ideas picked up while Mercury was OOB that you now are able to put into practice. If you've felt somewhat liberated by the OOB period, it might be a bit uncomfortable to feel simply "normal" again. On the other hand, if you were feeling a bit ungrounded or out of focus during Mercury's OOB period, coming back in-bounds could feel somewhat reassuring as your brain may find it easier to grapple with ideas and process experiences. Words and thoughts might fit more comfortably into what society regards as "normal" and as such, life may start to feel a bit easier to navigate.

Coming back in bounds can also be a bit of a bumpy landing as that unrestricted energy becomes squeezed back into its usual potency. This is a good time to observe your thoughts, ideas, communication and how you process information, as well as changes in Mercury themes in society around you. For several days before and after this date, pay attention to the things that amplify or cool down your awareness, perceptions and your need to express what you're thinking. Realize that this is an adjustment period, and having some patience with yourself and others can help to smooth and soothe this time.

Alternatively, the re-entry can also be an eventful time when changes in Mercury-related areas can occur. For example, you might feel this is the right time to start—or end—a conversation about things that inspire or aggravate you , or make changes to how and why you express yourself. A shift in how you experience or handle the exchange of ideas and information with others could inspire you to make positive changes in those areas. This might be due to a change in perspective as a result of your experiences while Mercury was OOB.

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Dec.19 – Mars enters Pisces (until Jan.28.2017)  (Dec.18 in HAST)

Mars in Pisces can feel like you're boxing with a cloud. Your motives and actions may seem to be led in some direction, rather than you consciously choosing what to do. Expressing anger or taking an assertive stand may easily lose its impact. Emotions and motives that are normally focused can become blurred in a fog of indecision and ambiguity. However, you may also be able to connect more easily to spiritual, intuitive, artistic and creative energy. Listen to your body and observe your spontaneous actions – what would they mean if you were having a dream? These things can give you clues about unconscious motives, feelings and perceptions (about yourself or others). In a way, you are more connected to the twilight spaces between worlds, which can make it hard to feel powerful or effective in the "real" world. It can therefore be tempting to slip into a kind of "victim mentality." Or, you might feel despondent, apathetic or kind of "spacey." It can help to do things that feed your spirit without needing to pump yourself up artificially.

Dec.19 – Mercury Stationary Retrograde (15:07 of Capricorn; until Jan.08.2017)  ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Mercury Retrograde.  Read more about Retrograde planets.)

Yes, it's that time again! Mercury goes retrograde for the next 3+ weeks. For up to a week before and after today, Mercury is moving very slowly or stopped (hence "stationary" or "making a 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 a good time 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 and learn to roll with the weirdness. It's common to have to reschedule appointments or redo things because the instructions or information got messed up the first time. Do some things that use your intuitive, creative, non-rational mind for a while until Mercury goes direct again.

If you absolutely must do something important during this time that can't be postponed, don't be surprised if you wind up having to redo things. It can help to be especially vigilant about triple-checking what you do, but some of these mishaps can't always be predicted or prevented, so don't be hard on yourself (nor on others).

Remember: Mercury loves to play practical jokes. This is his playtime. ;-) It helps to learn to laugh with him.

Here are the key dates of the current Mercury cycle (using North American Eastern Time):

Mercury is retrograde in Capricorn, which can create a very serious mindset. It might be a bit of a struggle to maintain your optimism, especially if you keep trying to escape that seriousness by pretending it doesn't exist. If you have a tendency toward depression, this transit might bring that up to some extent, so it might be a good idea to be prepared for this with a list of coping strategies (things you can do that make you feel better about yourself). This can be a good time to slow down and lower your expectations a little – not because you don't deserve better or because you're giving up, but because you're willing to be gentle with yourself and simplify your life a little. On the other hand, this can be a great time to apply yourself to some productive work on a project or goal you have. If you're facing a situation in your life that requires you to "get real" and get results, this transit can be a resource for that.

Dec.21 – HAPPY SOLSTICE! Sun enters Capricorn (until Jan.19.2017)

SOLSTICE DATES

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Dec.21, 2016, 5:44 AM EST

London, UK:

Dec.21, 2016, 10:44 AM GMT

Sydney, AU:

Dec.21, 2016, 9:44 PM AEDT

Happy Solar Return to all Capricorns! And Happy Solstice and Happy Yule to all of us! When the Sun enters Capricorn each year, it marks the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere (longest night) and the Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere (longest day). Yule is the traditional celebration of the December solstice in European-derived cultures, welcoming the start of the increasing light. While the Sun is in Capricorn, we have the opportunity to explore our connection to the earth (Capricorn being an Earth sign) in a physical way. Whether you are bundling up to survive a cold winter, or unwinding after the summer heat, or getting down to business as the landscape blooms in "downunder" summer splendour, there is something very manifest and substantial about the experience of Capricorn. This energy calls on us to get real in whatever we are doing – to bring structure, responsibility and discipline to whatever we do. It is a time to work on our "containment." Not in the sense of suppression, but in terms of defining the boundaries within which our growth can flourish down the road, and keeping our impulses from inconveniently spilling over the edges of those boundaries. Sometimes that means cutting back in certain areas in order to focus your energy and make room for new growth. Sometimes it means having to delay gratification and reward until you reach a certain point of progress. The Capricorn rule of thumb is: if you do whatever is necessary, the rewards will come.

Astrology - a light in the darkness

So: How's 2017 going for you so far?

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Dec.24 – Saturn trine Uranus (20:33 of Sagittarius/Aries)  (Dec.23 in UK, AU)

Saturn is the planet of taking responsibility seriously and making things stable and manifest. Uranus is about breaking things apart, giving them more wiggle room, and bringing creative chaos designed to wake us up. Since they are now a friendly, cooperative trine aspect (120°) these two dramatically different planets are about as close to being on the same page as they'll ever be! At best, Uranus can help Saturn loosen up and not be so stuffy, strict or stagnant, giving more room to grow, evolve and adjust. In turn, Saturn can help Uranus stop short of destroying the place, giving him an anchor of purpose, practicality and realistic clarity.

This can be an excellent time to make a big change in your life, but it will probably work best if you do it Saturn's way. Start by figuring out what your goal is, what you really want to end up with. Then plot a realistic plan for how you could get from here to there. Write it down so you have something to refer to later, including a list of resources you can draw on, people who would support you, and a Plan B if things go completely haywire. It can also help to have a map of priorities and limits—not to put a damper on things but to have an sense of how far you are and are not willing to go if you need to change your plans.

This transit can give you the best of both worlds – the spontaneity, awakening and vision of Uranus combined with the practical groundedness of Saturn that helps you integrate the changes into the fabric of your life.

Dates for the current Saturn-Uranus trine: Dec.24.2016, May.19, 2017, Nov.11.2017.

Dates for the current Saturn-Uranus cycle:

Dec.25 – Venus trine Jupiter (20:24 of Aquarius/Libra)  (Dec.26 in AU)

Your luck and opportunity to attract money, love, resources and self-esteem are high right now. The flow of attraction (whether that is magnetizing people, things or opportunities) is riding a strong current right now. You could find it easier than usual to get the resources and abundance for whatever you need right now. On the other hand, "your eyes may be bigger than your stomach" (as mother used to say), meaning your desire may magnify your sense of need beyond what is wise. You may be tempted to spend, flirt or bluff your way through situations, preferring to ignore or avoid hardship, boundaries or drudgery. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but be careful you don't get your hopes up so high that you set yourself up for disappointment or make promises you can't keep. It's probably wise to balance this easy flowing energy with some discretion and good judgement.

Dec.25 – Venus sextile Uranus (20:33 of Aquarius/Aries)

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.

Dec.25 – Venus sextile Saturn (20:39 of Aquarius/Sagittarius)  (Dec.26 in AU)

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.

Dec.26 – Mars conjunct South Lunar Node (05:24 of Pisces)  (Dec.27 in AU)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

This transit's range of influence is roughly 2 weeks before and after this date, although it reaches its peak now. The South Lunar Node is where we let go of, move away from, express or release something. Although the South Node can involve loss of some kind, it can also signify that what had previously been actively in the "foreground" of your life is now moving into the "background" and becoming assimilated as simply one part among many, rather than being a specific focus. Often whatever is being released is something we took in, embraced or began to move toward when Mars passed over the North Lunar Node. The North Node is sometimes known as the Dragon's Head, which eats or consumes. The South Node is known as the Dragon's Tail, which... well you get the idea. ;-) Since this involves Mars, what is being embraced or released likely has to do with anger, aggression, assertiveness or forcefulness. This might also be about sex or physical energy or something being set into motion. Depending on your natal chart, this could also involve the houses Mars rules and resides in, as well as where the current transit is taking place.

Dec.26 – Sun trine North Lunar Node (05:22 of Capricorn/Virgo)  (Dec.27 in AU)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

You may feel confident, optimistic and empowered today and a couple of days before and after this date. It can feel like the pieces are falling into place and you can make progress in what you're striving to do in your life right now. And if only because of this added self-confidence, this could indeed happen. Just an added caution, though: even though the lights are green doesn't mean you shouldn't look both ways before moving forward. In other words, a reality check as to the wisdom of what you want to do is still a good idea.

Dec.26 – Jupiter opposite Uranus (20:33 of Libra/Aries)  (Dec.27 in AU)

Which is better: wisdom or genius? Is it better to reach for a higher truth, or to crush limited thinking? Which do you think is more important: honouring a code of morals and principles, or deciding for yourself what is right in the moment? Would you rather have (or be) a mentor who shares knowledge, or stand out as unique (or an outsider) within a group of like-minded people?

These are the kinds of questions and issues that may be pulling you back and forth right now. Jupiter wants to reach out to the next horizon, always exploring. This part of us pursues knowledge, truth, justice and principles in order to become a better person who lives up to our potential. Uranus, on the other hand, is about breaking free of anything that restricts us or holds us back. This part of us is trying to wake up, to expand our awareness and be open to things we have been defensive against or afraid to face.

It may seem like these two energies are polarized. Perhaps you feel you must choose one direction over the other. You might find you feel committed to one side, while someone else personifies the other. For instance, you might find a teacher who inspires you, but in order to learn from them you must do things their way; asserting your own opinions or thinking independently is discouraged. Or you could have a group of close friends who all share certain values or priorities, but you're starting to see things differently and it causes some discord between you.

Here's something to remember: Jupiter and Uranus do have certain things in common and can complement each other, if you can resist the urge to choose one and reject the other. Finding the balance will make this transit a lot more peaceful, fruitful and productive. The parts of you that correspond to both Jupiter and Uranus reach for a higher truth and a greater perspective. Both energies want to uplift you out of habitual, short-sighted or stubborn ways of thinking. To find the balance between conflicting sides of these energies, try to take a few steps back so that you can see a bigger picture that incorporates both sides. Rather than choosing one over the other, find a way to understand how both could make sense at the same time.

Jupiter is opposite Uranus: 1906-1907, 1934, 1948, 1962, 1976, 1989-1990, 2003, 2016-2017, 2031, 2045 and 2059.

Dates for the current Jupiter-Uranus cycle:

Dec.26 – Mercury Retrograde sextile Neptune (09:37 of Capricorn/Pisces)  (Dec.27 in UK, AU)

Your mind is very open to imagination, dreams and compassion under this transit, with a little applied effort and focus. This can be a very creative time, when ideas flow like a magical river. It can also be easy to get caught up in yearning and fantasizing about your hidden wishes, although it is possible to channel this into creative expression. (e.g., writing poetry, dancing, wistful music, singing in the shower, whatever!) The possible disadvantage is that you might want so much to reach a state of inspired intuition, magical outlook and effortless communication, that you are willing to be deceived rather than fall short of what you are hoping for. Listening sympathetically to others' problems may come easily now, and you are more likely to get a compassionate response from others about your own problems. However, it may also be difficult to draw clear and firm boundaries with others, since you are more susceptible to the emotional gravity of others. It is ultimately a time for optimism, hope, creativity and intuition, although it's wise to keep at least one foot on the ground.

Dec.27 – Sun sextile Mars (06:00 of Capricorn/Pisces)  (Dec.26 in HAST, AKST)

You have power, energy, motivation and enthusiasm to fuel your ambitions now! The catch is you will need to reach for it; it won't simply "come to you." Reach into your past experience and reach forward toward your vision of what you want. This will help to guide your actions and focus your assertive energy in the direction you want to go. This is a good time to make progress toward a goal. Or, you might want to take steps to leave behind inhibitions that have held you back. This transit can also make you more apt to take risks and find the courage to do things you might not otherwise do. Your tolerance for obstacles may be shortened, and making it easy to assume the only way through them is by using direct force. This may or may not be wise, depending on how extreme you want to take it, so use your good judgment and don't throw away your diplomacy.

Dec.28 – Sun conjunct Mercury Retrograde (07:28 of Capricorn)  (Dec.29 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.

Dec.28 – Mercury Retrograde sextile Mars (07:13 of Capricorn/Pisces)  (Dec.29 in AU)

This is the second of three passes of this transit, which generally supports forthright communication and finding your assertive voice, if you wish to cultivate that. By now you have a chance to examine your usual mode of communication and may be seeing how it could benefit from improvement. Or, you might have been trying out some new forms of communication or being more outspoken, and might be experiencing the feedback and reactions to this. Perhaps it's a good idea to soften words that are a bit too blunt? Or you might find making a sharper, more specific point will get to the heart of the matter and avoid misunderstandings. This is a good time to try different creative ideas on for size and see which ones bring the results you are aiming for.

Dec.28 – Saturn square Chiron (21:01 of Sagittarius/Pisces)  (Dec.30 in AU)  (Article: Chiron in Pisces)

Chiron is the planet of wounding and healing, where we face our fear of inadequacy, alienation or endless sorrow. It points to our Achilles Heel where we are the most vulnerable, imperfect and humbled—which ironically is also where we'll find our best, most human side. Saturn is the planet that teaches us to be self-defining, take responsibility and grow up. Bringing the two together suggests a difficult yet productive struggle.

Chiron's orbit moves between Saturn and Uranus – between the mundane world of matter and form (Saturn), and where we awaken and grow beyond the limits of our ego identity (Uranus). As such, Chiron represents the need to balance creaturehood with sentience; our participation in the here-and-now world versus our potential to exceed the sum of our parts. Therefore, when Saturn comes calling at Chiron's door, especially in a stressful aspect like the square (90°), it is usually to let us know that we need to adjust that balance back toward more practical matters.

During this transit you may find your woundedness or distress getting the better of you, requiring you to refocus and reorganize your efforts to deal with them. This can be a bit of a tricky manoeuvre though. You could feel tangled up in discouragement, unresolved conflicts with ghosts from the past or cynicism about the future. It may be tempting to try to use Saturn in a defensive way, to wield control or authority over others. However, Chiron's lessons are usually not about either of these qualities. Chiron requires a certain level of acceptance about what lies outside your realm of personal control, as well as a commitment to change and adjust what lies within it.

Therefore, your best way to turn this corner in the Saturn-Chiron journey is to start by examining where your boundary is between what you believe you can and can't do about problem areas. The question is whether that boundary is still relevant and effective for you. You'll probably find that some adjustments need to be made, but first you'll need to understand why and how to do this. So that's the next step – to discover which skills, resources, policies and principles are missing or have become stuck or needs additional support.

This transit has 3 passes: Dec.28.2016, Apr.30.2017 and Nov.02.2017. The last time we saw a Saturn-Chiron square was 41 years ago: 1975-1976 (with an extra long opposition in between, 1986-2006, due to Chiron's eccentric orbit). The next time they square each other will be 2039-2044.

Dates for the current Saturn-Chiron cycle:

Next Update:  NEW MOON in CAPRICORN. Available by December 29, 2016.

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