square pegs

The moon is in buoyant Sagittarius, and we're just past the Winter Solstice (so the light will begin to grow again in the Northern Hemisphere). Plus, Jupiter, the Cosmic Santa, is stationing to move direct on Christmas Day. So is everyone feeling fine?

Not quite. Although it seems that many of us are floating away from the stress in an appropriately Sagittarian bubble of what-me-worry? it's hard not to feel some pressure from the cardinal t-square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. That square is making it hard to chillax for the holiday season, and the intensity of the last six months or so (recently amped up by the eclipses and stations) can keep the pedal to the floor - even if we are only racing around our own minds.

Astrologically, although we are awash in the lighter aspects listed above, the sun is now in Capricorn. His first order of business, on Thursday, was to square Uranus. Luna is racing to meet up with Sol on Saturday, which means that she will be in Capricorn, also triggering the square. Then, on Thursday the 29th, the sun will meet up with Pluto.

The effect of all that is that we have an entire week when not only the moon but the sun is triggering the t-square. Hardly a relaxing time!

The new moon in Capricorn on Saturday is not far from Pluto (although not too close, either), and it is the new moon after the solstice. If we take in that energy passively, it is a time to see the direction things are heading. If we take a more active approach, it is an excellent time to set our intentions for the very active year ahead.

In fact, the entire period from the solstice on Thursday through the Jupiter station on Sunday can be taken as one long period of intention-setting. The tough Scorpio moon earlier last week should have helped us to clear out some emotional baggage, making us lighter as we go forward.

Scan the news, and you'll see that things have hardly been easy over the past few weeks. The intensity of December's cosmic activity has not been brought down to Earth very smoothly. That sounds very much like Pluto's "make it worse so it can get better" strategy.

Not that Pluto is all that invested in it getting better. But we should be. Take these few days to juggle your outward-going active energy with your inward-directed awareness. It's hard to remain in balance - but at least try to decide which you will fall when you get knocked off the log you've been rolling.

(the photo is of a goat in the Ecuadorian Andes, so I'm assuming a mountain goat)

kim jong's ill

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died on Saturday. The death was apparently due to natural causes, although like everything else coming out of North Korea, there is plenty of room for speculation.

Kim died on the same day as Czech poet, philosopher and one-time president, Vaclav Havel. The difference between the two men could not be more blunt, and the world's reaction reflects this. Havel's death was met with sadness and recollection of a liberating moment in Czech history. Kim's death was met with curiosity about who will succeed him at the helm of the wackiest country in the world.

The astrology of these events leads to the eclipse of December 10th. At the eclipse, the nodes of the moon (points associated with eclipses) were angular in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. That's no reason to think a past or present president will die, but it does signify comings and goings.

The lunar eclipse, and particularly the nodes, is square to the sun in the chart of North Korea (using Nicholas Campion's
Book of World Horoscopes; there isn't a specific time). Eclipses have a reputation for being bad news for the leader's of affected countries. It's not such a big deal these days, of course, unless you happen to be running an egomaniacal show a la Ramses the Great (which, uh, Kim was in fact trying to do).

At the solar eclipse of November 25th (considered even worse for kings and the like), Mars was square to North Korea's sun (the sun stands for the ruler in the chart of a country - especially one with a king, dictator, etc.).

Pluto was also just past a trine to North Korea's sun (exact on December 5th), an indication of transition and transformation in leadership.

2012 will see more hits to the country's sun from Mars, as he retrogrades in Virgo. Jupiter will be offering a supportive trine throughout the year.

If the sun of North Korea is being hit, so is Kim Jong Il's son, Kim Jong Un. He is the third Kim to be in line for the leadership of the country. That's good news and bad news for him: He may be getting a country for Christmas, but it's North Korea.

the revolution may not be televised

Despite grave reservations of many people, the U.S. Senate passed a bill this week that will allow the United States military to detain - indefinitely - people suspected of terrorism. Most troubling, it includes American citizens who are captured within the United States. Senator Al Franken has likened the bill to President Roosevelt's wholesale detention of Japanese citizens during the Second World War.

President Obama initially threatened to veto the bill, it is apparent the measure will now be signed into law. Apparently the language of the bill was changed to make it palatable to the President. Of course, because those caught under the bill will not necessarily be tried or even charged, we'll never know how it is actually implemented.

This dark news comes just after the full moon eclipse last week, although the bill was finally debated when the moon was in protective Cancer, and voted on when the moon was in Leo. It also came on the heals of Trickster Mercury moving direct (and so indicating reversals and perhaps subterefuge). But the real astrological forces at work are Pluto and Uranus.

Uranus, in the sign of Aries, represents revolutionary energy. Rogue individuals and groups are common with Uranus in this very individualistic sign, and for sure some of them are dangerous. The problem is that "dangerous" is relative to your perspective. As we see more and more protests in the streets over the next few years, there are going to be charges that those who challenge the status quo are essentially terrorists (and some will be).

Pluto is working to transform government and the power structures of our world. Pluto doesn't sit on one side of an issue or another - although many astrologers are quick to try to clam Pluto's energy for their cause. Pluto actually amps up all sides of an issue, driving both the forces of change and the resistance to it. So, as we get to see Occupy Wall Street and other protests demanding change, we also get to see police officers in military gear (and maybe soon military personnel acting as police) trying to squelch that change.

No one will win. The change that is being created is both deeper and different from that anticipated by any one individual or group. But this week's news certainly scores one for the frightening forces of control and repression.

eclipse round up

The early part of last week was characterized by some easy, productive aspects. Even the moon in Aries, setting off the cardinal t-square, seemed to be more inspiring than tense (oh, there was plenty of tension, but I'm speaking relatively).

As we got to Thursday, we were pulled into the vortex of the full moon lunar eclipse and Uranus station. These two important aspects happened within 12 hours of each other, essentially blending their energies into one mega-aspect.

The Uranus station suggests a theme of change, innovation, and movement. In the sign of Aries, we can add direction, and personal needs standing out above other considerations. The trick to handling Uranian energy (especially in Aries), is to assert yourself without running over others like a freight train. It's not as easy as it sounds.

The eclipse, on the other hand, was on the Sagittarius/Gemini axis. Here we are challenged to find the big picture, a perspective that can encompass all the individual stories. A good strategy is actually to connect with others and see what they have to say - not easy as both eclipses and Uranus stations don't encourage patience.

Taken as positive energy, these last few days were a chance to open up to our own truths, to recognize and accept things that we weren't aware of or didn't want to face. There's an almost reckless courage that comes from full moons and Uranus stations, and that can be very helpful. Once the window is open, the fresh air comes in. You may have felt like you said too much or opened up a bit more than you would have at other times. Now that the moon is in Cancer, you may want to retreat a little. But the fresh air feels good.

Looking at the news, I found that on the collective level, things were gruesome. Beginning with the Virginia Tech shooting, all I found was stories about murders - old and new. Again, now that the moon is in Cancer, we'll be feeling more protective, and we're likely to see that the madness of the shootings over the last few days creates greater suspicion and more calls for 'law & order' - which will probably be applied to peaceful protestors.

Take the next few days to integrate the energy and insights of this weekend. It was a powerful time, and if we can get past ego defensiveness, the growth opportunities are great.

(the picture is of the Ecuadorian Andes, for no particular reason)

you said wha?

After the quiet of the long Pisces void, the moon is in Aries. Luna's already met up with Uranus and squared Pluto, and she's heading for an edgy square to Venus at 5:56 pm EST. An active, outgoing approach to relationship is called for, but if that doesn't appeal there could be some partnership tensions.

A few minutes later, retrograde Mercury will square Mars, and we could say exactly what we think (at least at the moment). This aspect will also spur us to action, although we can be very impulsive when these two planets rub each other the wrong way. With Mercury retrograde, we might wind up going back to an old issue (perhaps something from late October).

The tension calms later in the evening, with easy lunar aspects. At best, today should have us busy early on, then doing a little fine tuning later. At worst, difficulties encountered early in the day can be worked out in the evening. With Venus trining Mars at 10:07 am EST Monday morning, we might find that all's well that ends well.

Scorpions need not apply

You might think that as an astrologer I would like to see astrology in the news. I suppose I might, if the news were at all helpful to astrology, but that's rarely the case.

This past weekend, another example of "no news is good news" made it into the press, with the report that a Chinese firm has said that Virgos and Scorpios have strong personalities and are too moody, and they would not be hired. Apparently, Capricorns, Libras, and Pisces are especially encouraged to join the firm.

The story is a bit dodgy. It was reported through
Yahoo News and it did not name the firm. In fact, it comes from a job ad posted at Wuhan University, through an English-language training company. And although they are in China, they are concerned about Western sun signs. If it weren't for the serious atmosphere in China, it might be dismissed as a hoax.

But no matter! Like the 13th zodiac sign that made the papers last February, controversy has been stirred up and astrology looks silly. The idea that one or two zodiac signs would not be good for a job sounds - and is - preposterous. I can imagine how many people are looking at their wonderful Virgo and Scorpio coworkers and shaking their heads at the stupidity of astrology.

Some fans of astrology might be tempted to say that the problem is with astrological sun signs. If you wanted to know how a person would do at a job, you'd need to see their whole chart. But even with all the signs and aspects taken into account, along with synastry, you still wouldn't know how the energetic pattern of the chart is manifesting. It's a complex Cosmos, and astrology is only one piece of the puzzle.

I did know a Gemini woman who was head of speech pathology department at a hospital. She unwittingly assembled a staff of about 8 other Gemini's, making an entire department of Twins! But that type of thing is a Mercurial mystery, not a plan for running a business.

Some astrologers were upset when Finland barred companies from taking astrology into account in hiring people, but I thought it was a good idea. They also banned psychological tests, and I liked astrologers being put in the same company with psychologists. And I also thought the reasoning in both cases is sound - hiring people ought to imply a degree of personal responsibility on the part of the employer, and tests (physical, psychological, or astrological) are likely to wind up discriminating against people who would do a fine job.

The damage is done. A story like this has about 30 seconds of news appeal before its gone. No one who thought, "how stupid!" is going to give it a second thought. Mercury is retrograde, and I'll bet he's laughing.

Sagging hopes?

As the sun moves into Sag each year, my Leo heart breathes a sigh of relief. There's something about Virgo-Libra-Scorpio (the time of year, NOT the people!) that is difficult for me.

It may not be a Leo thing: Thanksgiving (and Christmas before the calendar change) is a Sag holiday. The external darkness of this time of year somehow calls us to make our own light: Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza are all about light. It is odd that the time before the solstice, when the light is reaching its minimum, that turns to corner for so many of us.

Usually, there's a bit of light in the mood when the sun hits Sag. We've waded out of the dark Scorpionic waters, and are floating above the ground, taking the long view. There seems to be so much
potential in Sagittarius, like the arrow that is about to be let loose from the archer's bow.

As I've been saying (but I'll say it again), since the eclipses last June and July, the tension of the cardinal t-square has been growing. Things really came to light when the sun was in Libra, and Scorpio featured all the power struggles associated with that sign.

So, will things calm down with the sun in buoyant Sag? Not likely.

For one thing, we're in for the duration as far as the t-square goes. All we need these days is the moon to be in a cardinal sign (which it is 1/3 of the time) for square to be set off. So the avalanche of change will continue no matter where the sun is.

But we have to remember that Sag has a darker side. It's a great sign for
searching for the truth, but when it thinks it's found it, watch out for dogmatic insistence on the One True Path.

What we're likely to see, in politics and protests, is more entrenched views and high-minded positioning on the issues. OWS may come out of the next month freed from the accusation that it doesn't have specific demands or a direction. But the ideological attacks on the protesters (as a rationale for more physical attacks) is likely to grow. We may also see a resurgence of the Tea Party, and perhaps a new force coming to play in the picture.

The rhetoric will be Sagittarian, but these are Uranian/Plutonian times. We see the action through the Archer's lens this month, but it is those two giants who create the scene.

black & white

Today, the moon is in Libra, the sign of balance. It's a placement that is usually associated with a drive for emotional harmony. Consideration of the other is such a prime part of the Libran picture that it is often considered to be a fault - the sun, symbol of the sense of self, is in fall in Libra.

Yet as soon as the moon left Virgo last night, I felt the growing tension. There was no surprise, however, because since at least the eclipses this past summer, things have been very edgy every time the moon goes into a cardinal sign (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn).

No wonder, when we consider that the moon's first order of business was to oppose Uranus in Aries, then Luna went on to square Pluto in Capricorn. Tomorrow, she's meet up with Saturn. The moon is reminding us, over and over again, of the cardinal t-square between those three heavy planets.

The sun's time in Libra this year was another powerful trigger to the square (the OWS movement really began to heat up when the sun was entered the cardinal sign in late September). I'm sure things will reach another peak when Sol goes into Capricorn. If you count all the triggers - including the upcoming eclipses - we'll be busy for the next several years.

I want to reflect a moment on the pace of change we have been feeling, and the rapid acceleration of change we are about to experience. The cardinal t-square has been working subtly for a long time, stoking up the engines of transformation. Since Pluto went into Capricorn, or at least since the economic collapse of 2008, tension has been growing. The riots in London this summer were perhaps the flagship moment of eruption, and it's been just one thing after another since then.

When Obama was elected in 2008, I remember many of my friends breathing a sigh of relief that change was on its way. Most of them were sorely disappointed very quickly. Although efforts to vilify Obama for economic conditions that developed over the decade before he was elected are childish, the truth is that his administration represents business as usual. From the hiring of a Monsanto executive to oversee aspects of agriculture to the
DEA's attack on medical marijuana in California, Obama has disappointed those who thought we were headed for real change.

But although Obama was not the catalyst for change many people had hoped for, change is on its way. The Tea Party began the process, and although much of the Tea Party is just a cardboard cutout of the Republican party, it is fueled by the same genuine discontent with the system that we see with Occupy Wall Street.

The demand for change is often not clearly thought out, and strategies for implementation are lacking in both cases. This is often used to dismiss the movements, but that is a grave mistake. The American - and French - revolutions got started without much more in the way of a mission. The American constitution wasn't wasn't written until about a decade after the Declaration of Independence. That's the way revolutions happen - make the change and develop an alternative plan later.

Yet we don't know where the next level of change will come from. The Tea Party seems to have been eclipsed by OWS. Although the Occupy movements are strong now, what will happen next is unclear. Just as it now seems quaint to think of the election of Barrack Obama as the turning point, so we may look back to the relative innocence of the Tea Party and OWS.

As the wheels of change spin, we come to see that even the most absolute, black and white distinctions fade to shades of grey. That's a reason for great hope, and considerable fear, when we consider that the Uranus-Pluto square is not exact until pretty deep into next year.


This has been quite a week. We began energized by the moon in Aries. Mars, the Warrior, aspected Neptune, blending Arian energy with Neptunian illusion. Then Neptune stationed on Wednesday, casting a deep fog across everything. On Thursday, Chiron stationed in Pisces, Neptune's home sign. And on Friday, the last aspect before the moon goes void is a square to Neptune.

All week long we have been rolling through Neptunian uncertainty, but we've been driving with our foot heavy on the accelerator rather than the brake, thanks to Mars (as I learned in my Safe Driving course, people actually do tend to drive faster in the fog). Neptune is associated with sacrifice and martyrdom, and Chiron is often referred to as the Wounded Healer.

The news this week was certainly full of confusion, especially on Wednesday, when Neptune stationed. Rick Perry probably drove his presidential campaign off the side of the road by forgetting which three federal agencies he would cut if he were to win the election. The Republican debate on Wednesday night was apparently quiet Neptunian.

Mars/Aries has a sexual energy, and indeed this week has seen a lot of sexual news, although heavily tinged with Neptune/Chiron. Herman Cain's presidential campaign has had a monkey wrench thrown into the work by multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Cain's self-defense has been anything but clear.

But the most obvious Mars/Neptune/Chiron issue this week has been the charges against Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of sexually abusing boys for years (and at the college). Legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno was fired, as was the college president.
Paterno reported the abuse to his boss, but did not call the police. However you feel about Paterno getting fired, Penn State students apparently decided to make him a martyr, and rioted on his behalf. Martyrdom is another Neptunian theme.

Other Neptunian themes in the news this week included the economic markets' dips and recoveries amid new fears about the Euro, both from Greece and Italy (Greece's Prime Minister was also sacrificed this week, after pushing too hard in the wrong direction). Bangkok's floods are the worst in decades, and very Neptunian. The conviction of the leader of a U.S. "kill team" in Afghanistan is yet another Mars/Neptune saga.

We've seen extremes this week. Various victims (Neptune), including those of sexual (Mars) abuse and war (Mars) have had their voices heard, and perhaps some healing (Chiron) will take place. In other stories, we've seen people going off half-cocked, fired up with Martial energy but aiming with Neptunian uncertainty.

this is only a test...

Today is a busy day in the skies!

The Taurus moon meets up with Jupiter at 10:20a EST, creating enthusiasm and perhaps a bit of overindulgence (I don't know how much we can overindulge at that hour in North America, but our European friends should have fun!). The moon goes on to make an easy trine to Pluto, suggesting that decisions can be put into action later in the day.

Can be. But probably shouldn't be. Neptune stations to go direct today at 1:54p EST. We feel Neptune stations a day or so on either side, but they are most intense right around the station itself. The feel of Neptunian times is, like the planet itself, somewhat unclear and confusing.

On the upside, Neptune stations can help us to get in touch with other realities. Neptune can open us up to nonmaterial planes, both higher and lower.

At best, we can feel our connection to each other, to all other beings, to nature, and to the Cosmos. To one degree of intensity or another, we can generate compassion and realize our common experiences of love, joy and pain.

But Neptune, particularly when applied to the material world (as the lunar aspects today may tempt us to do), can also create false hope, misplaced faith, and poor judgment. That's why today might be a better day to meditate and dream than to put ideas into action. This week, thus far, has encouraged us to go off half-cocked - much energy saying "Go!" while Neptune has blurred the lines of reality.

It becomes very interesting when we see that
FEMA has chosen to test the Emergency Broadcast System at 2p EST today, just six minutes after Neptune stations. It's harder to imagine a better symbol for Neptune (which can create fear and a sense of hopeless uncertainty) stationing in Aquarius (the sign of mass communication) for the last time (for the last time in about 132 years, anyway).

Maybe the test will go smoothly. After all, the very idea of the test is scary enough. The EBS is a holdover from the Cold War. We all knew that had it been an actual emergency, we were toast. But look for signs that what we are hearing about the test and the system are not quite what is said. I don't want to sound paranoid (another Neptunian trait), but perhaps the real point of the test is to remind us to be afraid.

money don't get everything, it's true

With Jupiter in good aspect to Pluto this week, and the sun getting into the mix (from Scorpio), we saw a deal on Greek debt that - for the time being - has reduced tensions in Europe, and buoyed the stock markets across the world. Although the optimism in September couldn't be attributed to these aspects, we did learn during the Jupiter-Pluto trine that consumer spending increased last month.

Of course, power issues took on a more typical Scorpionic tone as Occupy Wall Street protesters clashed with police all across the country. The injury, in Oakland, of an Iraqi War veteran during the protests served to galvanize the movement in cities from New York to Memphis to Denver.

As we head into November, there will be a great deal of Neptunian energy around to put various spins on what has happened over the past few months, and a heavy does of Sagittarius will get us to believe we are right and that the cause (whichever one) is worth fighting for. As I've been saying for some time, with Uranus in Aries we are seeing many "rogue" groups - the Tea Party, Wikileaks, Anonymous, and now OWS - trying to course-correct by going to extremes.

Whether you see them as heroes or terrorists depends on your political perspective more than anything else. What is clear is that people are once again interested in politics. And the economic strain we've been under since Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008 is providing the fuel for that fire.

tunnel vision

Each month, as we head into the new moon, we begin to feel the pull inwards. Generally speaking, it is a quiet time of the month.

Not so lately, and especially not this time around. The new moon will be at 3:56p EDT on Wednesday the 26th, in the sign of Scorpio. The Scorpio new moon is a powerful one, an opportunity to get in touch with inner power, but also a point where life and death meet. The Scorpio new moon is always fairly close to Halloween and Samhain, after all.

But before we get to Scorpio, the moon is passing through Libra. Of course, the sun just left the sign of the Scales a few days ago, and it was a busy time. That's because with Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto in cardinal signs, the sun "triggered" these cosmic giants and the aspects among them.

In fact, for the last several months, each time the moon has been in a cardinal sign (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) it has also triggered the "Cardinal T-Square" in the sky. That's about a third of the time! If you look back three or four months, you'll see how much change we've really had. The Euro crisis, Occupy Wall Street (and beyond), and the emergence of
class warfare as a topic of political discussion all would have been just about unthinkable six or seven months ago.

As we move into the new moon, we'll be looking both forwards and backwards. Change certainly isn't going to stop or even slow down, new moon or not. But a quick glance at the headlines shows that there is a good deal of retrospective for things that have been in the news: Qaddafi is buried, Wikileaks may be stopping operations, and Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry are drifting farther from the center of attention.

This new moon represents something of an implosion of power. Personally and collectively, it is not a quiet time, but a pull towards our deepest core. Assume that life is going to change: what types of transformation would you like to bring about? What are you willing to fight to hold onto?

These questions need honest answers. We'll be asking them over the next few days, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

can we discuss this rationally?

pitchforks torches mob

Probably not

As the full moon highlights the Aries/Libra axis, we are pushed and pulled between concern for self and other. On one level, that makes for possible relationship tension, as our need to fulfill who we are personally can clash with relationship expectations - that's a theme that has been bubbling around us since Saturn and Uranus took up residence in these signs.

But more generally, the conflict is between the status quo (Saturn in Libra) and the energy of change (Uranus in Aries). Pluto, contributing from Capricorn, is intensifying both sides of the equation. This full moon has not added too much to the soup, but has turned up the heat under the pot.

We can see this in news stories from all over the world, from the
disgraceful trial of Yulia Tymosshenko in the Ukraine to Burma's more hopeful actions of releasing political prisoners (some of them, anyway).

Perhaps most obvious is the growing momentum of the
Occupy Wall Street protests, along with the growing criticism of them. What may have seemed like a few kids "playing Sixties" a few weeks ago now has the support of organized labor and a number of others. But as support has increased, so has the backlash against the protests and the protestors.

For those who have an idealized image of the 1950s and 60s protests, it might seem that it was all about guitars, joints, and problems finding a port-a-potty. Images of fire hoses, billy clubs, and raging anger might not come to mind, but protests are not particularly welcome when they question those in power. Pluto will be gaming both sides, amping up the demonstrator's anger as well as the condemnation.

It is through the debate and even outright fighting that results that real change happens - no one was gonna do anything because a couple of hundred people were camping in a park. Note how the protests didn't even get coverage until the police began acting brutishly -
as in the senseless macing of two young women.

Serious change is serious business.

a bridge too far?

Occupy Wall Street got almost no press in its first week.

Then the NYPD was caught on tape macing two young women, the number of arrests climbed, and suddenly OWS was on the map. This past weekend, the NYPD continued to do its part, by arresting more than 700 people as the protest marched over the Brooklyn Bridge.

There is controversy about whether or not the police actually led the protestors onto the roadway and then began arresting them. What actually happened is still very unclear, and likely to remain so.
Photo: Brooklyn Bridge, circa 2000, by Frank Feery.

All of this happened over the weekend, when the moon was in Sagittarius, and making generally harmonious aspects. We were building towards a Mars-Jupiter square on Sunday evening. Take it all together, there was a lot of powerful, idealistic energy around for the past few days. And as upsetting as the story is (no matter which side you take), it's clear that things could have been worse.

Today, the moon goes into Capricorn. Since at least mid-August, every time the moon has gone into a cardinal sign, there has been a heating up of the Uranus-Pluto square. The London riots, the panic over hurricane Irene, and the execution of Troy Davis all took place when the moon was in cardinal signs, as examples.

Monday and Tuesday are likely to be tense days. On Wall Street, the protestors outside may not be making as much of an impact as the Greek debt crisis has inside the stock exchange. The Uranus-Pluto energy amps up all sides of the equation, pressure from within and without.

Uranus in Aries highlights individual rebellion, but is also associated with rebel groups (Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party share the same frustration, from different perspectives). Whether the rebels are freedom fighters or terrorists depends mostly on your own point of view. Whether clamping down on them is restoring the rule of law or oppressing the people is also a matter of your attitude.

As the status quo becomes harder to maintain, both sides will push harder. Keep your eyes open over the next few days. The revolution may not be televised, but it is probably going to be on YouTube and Facebook.


The energy of the past weekend will extend into Monday, as the Sun-Uranus opposition is echoed by Mercury opposing Uranus. This configuration sets off the cardinal square in the sky between Uranus and Pluto, making it a very high-energy time.

The news is full of stories that reflect this energy. President Obama's newly-found tough guy stance had him saying that the Republicans would "cripple" America.
The NYPD was caught on camera macing some rather nonthreatening protestors (ah, but I guess they are threatening). Palestinian President Abbas has called for a Palestinian Spring (them's fightin' words).

But then again, the news isn't all bad.
Boeing has finally delivered its first 787 Dreamliner. This new plane is made from a carbon fibre that is much lighter than metal, and reduces fuel consumption by 20%. For an eco-conscious globe on the move, that's pretty good news. Of course, the cost overrun and delay in getting the plane delivered has had serious consequences for the economic health of Boeing - an ironic outcome, if you think about it. And hey, the King of Saudi Arabia has given women the right to vote in municipal elections (probably the only ones that matter if the king is making such decisions).

In our personal lives, too, the energy is likely to feel quite unsettled. We are heading towards a new moon in tight aspect to Pluto (Mercury is still in the mix, too) and eventually Saturn. At least through Wednesday, the tension will be running high, and power struggles are likely at every level.

Don't let anyone tell you that the Libra feel of this time will smooth it all out - Libra may try to put a nice face on things, but the underlying movement is titanic.

Since we're all likely to act with determination, it is at least a good idea to make sure the cause we are fighting for is a worthy one.

power struggles

I knew that there would have to be a prominent female in some kind of trouble. Venus in Libra opposing Uranus made me think it must be all about some wildly unconventional woman. And I guess at the end of the day I was right, but not in the way I imagined.

Michele Bachman is certainly a Uranian woman - vying with Sarah Palin as the Tea Party's foremost female. But she was really into the Pluto these last few days as she jabbed Rick Perry about mandatory vaccination of 11 and 12 year old girls against HPV. Preventing HPV is a way to prevent cervical cancer, but it is also perceived as a way to prevent a sexually transmitted infection.

Bachmann was on Leno, explaining herself last night. Power struggles surround the debate. On the one hand, it is Plutonian in its focus on sexuality and STIs. But Bachmann's point about whether girls' vaccination should be mandatory speaks to the question of who should have control over our health. Whatever your feelings about the HPV vaccine, you might pause before endorsing the government's ability to stick you with whatever they feel you need to be stuck with.

No easy answers... that's what Uranus and Pluto in square are all about. We've got work to do, and Michele Bachmann stepped in to guide us towards the tough questions this week. She's our Venus in Libra, for the moment.

start the revolution without me

While the major planetary aspects this week have not been especially tense (today's Jupiter/Mercury trine is great for focused communication - students should fair well), yesterday's moon in Aries set off the Cardinal Square between Pluto and Uranus.

It's getting to be a weekly occurrence - every time the moon goes into a cardinal sign, we get a bit more of the Cardinal Square delivered to us. Scan the news for stories and see how many you can find. What you'll see is a lot of what I like to call Pirate energy: throw a revolt, start a revolution, demand change at any price.

When Democrats demanded that Anthony Weiner resign his post in the House of Representatives, they must've figured that it was a certainty that another, more proper, Democrat would replace him. After all, his district is 3 - 1 Democratic and hasn't elected a Republican since 1920.

Bad calculation, it turns out, as
a Republican did indeed win the special election.

What we're seeing is anger and frustration at a system(s) we know isn't working. It's likely that many voters in the Brooklyn/Queens area that voted in the Republican don't share much of his political perspective. But details don't matter when the Plutonian/Uranian craving for change kicks in.

The need for change is real, of course. Uranus/Pluto is all about deep, relentless transformation. Yet what really needs to change can't be transformed at the level we are used to dealing with things. We can flip back and forth between the options we can see, and we can throw ourselves against the walls of the box we are trying to climb out of. Really, though, all we are doing is creating the energy that drives the real engines of change, deep below the surface.

just to be clear

Yesterday's opposition of Neptune to Mercury created a kind of one-day Mercury retrograde, although with its own special flavor.

In the Northeast, flooding resulted in the evacuation of one hundred thousand people as what was left of Tropical Storm Lee soaked the region on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Southwest,
millions of people lost their power, a Mercurial kind of event, but one that was caused by a Neptunian sewage spill.

Also, with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 just days away, the federal government has reported that there is a "credible" threat of a terrorist attack. That kind of vague but unsettling information has a very Neptunian feel, with unknown terrorists infiltrating the country and lurking about unseen.

Mayor Bloomberg also made a Neptune/Mercury comment yesterday, although one that shows a more constructive use of the energy of the day. He suggested that it is time to retire the term "ground zero" for the World Trade Center. That name has always carried an ambiguous energy, and it really was not used by New Yorkers for very long after 9/11. The
BBC article on the use of the term is interesting reading.

extended labor

Labor Day began as a celebration - or really an acknowledgement - of American labor. Not simply labor in the sense of work, but with respect to unions, the organization of workers. Collectively, workers have a better chance of making their needs known and getting them met than they do as individuals.

Unions aren't too popular in the United States. Not only are employers predictably against them, a great many workers do not like them. An editorial in the
Anchorage Daily News highlights how politicians want to be able to tell their constituents that they fought against labor unions. Odd, considering that most of any politician's voting base must be workers.

The decline of labor unions has paralleled an increase in working hours and a decline in real wages in the U.S., where workers have less vacation time, less access to health benefits, and fewer rights than in virtually all Western democracies.

Ironically, the labor news on the day before the holiday weekend was that there were no new jobs created in August. That news came as the moon was in Scorpio, and it served as a sobering balance to the high-flying aspects of the day.

What Labor Day has come to mean is mainly the return to work after summer. That actually only applies to students, of course, since most people work pretty much throughout the summer, anyway. But there is a sense of buckling down that comes after Labor Day. Tonight at 10:03 p.m. Eastern time the moon will go into Capricorn, an appropriate sign for the beginning of the work year.

a rough week

The cardinal T-square made yet another stop-off in the Middle East this week, this time visiting Israel. In the midst of the Arab Spring revolutions, Israel has been something of a pillar of stability. Foreign relations sunk to new low, though, as both Turkey and Egypt - the two countries in the region historically most supportive of Israel - expressed concerns over Israel's military actions.

Things are not going well with Turkey and Egypt, but it was the domestic situation in Israel that was perhaps most significant.
Hundreds of thousands of people have held an extended protest throughout the country over the past week. The protesters are largely from the middle class, and they are concerned with both the high cost of living and the uneven distribution of wealth in Israeli society.

Israel has only one planet currently activated by the cardinal T-square, its Venus at 5 degrees Cancer. Venus rules the Israeli fourth house of home, and so is quite important in the chart. It is being transited by both Uranus and Pluto, although neither is exact at this point in time. Saturn was on Israel's Neptune in July, and has been transiting the 8th house since the Spring of 2010, when the blockade of the Turkish flotilla took place.

Coming on the heels of the London riots in August, it is hard not to see the signs of rising discontent with the status quo. In the United States, we have thus far remained republican in our protests, endorsing the Tea Party as our protest mechanism rather than taking to the streets. General strikes, a European staple, are unknown in the U.S., but as the protests in San Francisco showed last month, mass action is a possibility. With Pluto in Capricorn, the push-back can also be forceful.

The point, though, is that if we really want to see the deep changes of the T-square at work, we can't focus too much on any one side of any one issue. To oversimplify is to miss the deeper process. Many people relate the T-square's energy to the past configurations in the 1960s - but is there any one person, movement, or action that could personify that entire era?

Instead, we have to recognize that each action is in a sense "turning the wheel" of change, and the direction we are actually headed is both open and unknown.


Today, the sun will be trine to Jupiter. This naturally fiery pair will be in the earthy signs of Virgo and Taurus, suggesting abundance and material wealth: Think King of Pentacles.

We could overdo it a bit, especially with too much food, and perhaps with too much work. But the Scorpio moon will help to keep us from going too far overboard. Like a deep keel reaching down into dark waters, the Scorpio moon helps to keep the buoyant sun-Jupiter ship in balance. A little reminder of serious issues even amidst celebrations, it can be kind of like digging your fingernails into your hand to stop from laughing at a solemn occasion.

Today's energy is very constructive, so use it well. Prudence, rather than excess, is suggested (but you don't have to be a prude about it!). At best, we will experience deep appreciation for what we have, even as we recognize that all that we build is ultimately transitory.

Collectively, we can see the same process at work. The economic forecast was dimmed yesterday (it wasn't glowing to begin with), and unemployment in the U.S. remained flat at 9.1%. Scorpionic news even as the Obama and his Republican foes argue over the best course of action.

And hey - on another note - last week Michele Bachmann "joked" that the East Coast earthquake was a sign from God. What jest will she make now that Sarah Palin's
Alaska was hit by a quake yesterday?

goodnight, Irene

So what happened on the East Coast, particularly New York City, over the past weekend?

On the surface, we were threatened by a massive hurricane and took precautions. Some areas were hit rather hard (
check out this video from Spencertown, in upstate New York), but the city escaped the worst of it. All's well that ends well.

If you were in the city over the weekend, you know that a strange and eery vibration informed everything that happened. Cases of water and canned goods hoarded into homes, bathtubs filled with water (is that to drink?!?), and boarded homes and businesses were part precaution, part panic. Mayor Bloomberg's decision to shut the city down as early as Saturday morning seemed extreme, especially the risky move of hundreds of hospital patients.

But even extreme actions don't fully capture the mood. On Facebook, the general feeling seemed to be that this wasn't going to be any kind of storm of the century, and that everyone was over-reacting. But why?

As a table-setter, Neptune's retrograde into Aquarius earlier in November has revived something of the mass panic feel that characterized the watery planet's time in that sign. The impending release of Contagion will revive the bird flu issue, for example.

What better fear than a mass epidemic or natural disaster to play on us with Neptune in the sign of the Water Bearer? During those years, we did have the Asia Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the swine flu issue (or nonissue), and of course the poisoned mail after 9/11. Just as Neptune was leaving Aquarius, the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, and radiation poisoned air and water. As one Facebook follower pointed out, our fear of the wrath of Mother Nature is a reflection of our unwillingness to seriously address global warming.

A little closer to this past weekend, Mercury stationed to go direct on Friday. Misinformation - and perhaps some disinformation - informed our decisions.

The tough Mars aspects to Uranus and Pluto of two weeks earlier were also being revisited. Those aspects coincided with the London riots. On Thursday and Friday of this past week, the moon was in Cancer, going over those same points, and Mars was squaring Saturn. The strong overprotectiveness that we felt, along with the authoritarian response, resonated with these aspects.

Add together Neptune/Aquarius and Mars/Cancer/Saturn, multiply by Mercury stationing, and you have a recipe for paranoia. Over-reaction to the storm is one manifestation. Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg had London on his mind and felt the need to exert control in advance.

Yet there is something deeper about what happened this weekend, and it is more specific to New York. As you know, we are approaching the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01. For all New Yorkers, this grim milestone is a reminder of the many losses, personal and collective, that that day brought.

The next few weeks will be a collective "visit to the cemetery" for us all. There will be a number of events, and strong media coverage. For example, National Geographic channel premiered its interview with President Bush last night.

Astrologically, the resonance of this past weekend with 9/11 was very strong. If you look at the chart for the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center, you will see that this past weekend Saturn was one degree past the ascendant and tightly conjunct the 9/11 Mercury, while Mars was in partile conjunction with the 9/11 midheaven.

My assessment is that in a sense we "relived" 9/11. Transportation was shut down. No baseball or Broadway. Lower Manhattan was evacuated, and there was talk of cutting off the power there. Airports were closed and the skies were silent.

It wasn't all over-reaction and panic, of course. Some prudent decisions were made. But what we felt was amplified by the strong resonance of this past weekend with 9/11.

do as i say

Okay, so we all know that Mercury is retrograde until tomorrow evening.

Three days before the retrograde might not have been the best time to finally decide to put up a Facebook page and open a Twitter account, but I did. The funny thing about retrogrades is that not only do we experience snafus in the area of life described by the planet, we often feel a real compulsion to do the very things we know we might be better off delaying.

A few clients have asked me about when they can safely go buy new electronics, for example. During Venus retrogrades, we often feel that we want to begin a new relationship. And during Mars retrogrades - well, we want to do a lot of things.

Anyway, it was no surprise when yesterday morning I logged onto my Facebook page and found myself confronted with the setup screen. It wanted me to upload a photo, invite friends, and all the other first steps - steps I had taken a month before.

Later in the day, I just forwarded through all those screens, and eventually got back to my page, just as I had left it the day before. But in the meantime, I decided to take my own advice, and rather than anxiously or angrily dealing with the Mercurial setback, I went to the zoo.

the absent sun

It is worth noting that on yesterday's sun-Neptune opposition, those not present - particularly men - were making headlines. We had both bright and dark images of men as leaders, yet neither was with present - the absent sun.

Martin Luther King was one man not with us yesterday, although in Neptunian fashion he was here in spirit,
as his memorial opened in Washington.

More darkly, as Libya appears to join the Middle Eastern dictatorships that have fallen, their leader, Moammar Gadhafi was nowhere to be found.

wedding bells

I somehow missed it!

With Venus in Leo opposing Neptune in Aquarius, I expected that we would have a story about a prominent female in the news sometime over the weekend.

But it wasn't until this morning that I realized that this weekend was Kim Kardashian's wedding! The event had all the elements - Kim standing in for Venus in Leo, with
USA Today even describing it as a 'royal' wedding. And of course, there is a ton of illusion (Neptune) and lots and lots of media (Aquarius) surrounding the event.

Today, we might see a more serious manifestation of the sun-Neptune opposition, as Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, representing an extreme of solar power (ah, yes, sadly even Leonine energy can go wrong) is pressured by the international community and rebels in his own country to step down.

And/or, we might just see another movie star gathering Neptunian attention - Charlie Sheen, are you there?

In our personal lives, it can be a matter of seeing clearly versus over-idealizing someone or something. We might find someone to be a 'star' in our lives, or we could decide to step into the limelight ourselves. Either way, it could be the case that today's fanfare fades as quickly as the hoopla about Kimmy's wedding will.

By the way, there is no particular reason why today's picture is a Marigold.


On Sunday and Monday, Venus and the sun will take turns making oppositions to Neptune. The book on these aspects suggests getting taken for a ride by a con man of one type or the other... seeing too much in a potential lover, or following an ideal that comes crashing down. With Mercury and Neptune both retrograde, it certainly is the case that we could act on misinformation. But...

Neptune-in-Aquarius issues like health care and immigration can get a fresh look under these oppositions. We'll be revisiting these issues over the coming months, until Neptune returns to Pisces next year. What these oppositions do is to give a personal face to public issues.

For example, there are two stories in the news about immigration. President Obama's recent decision about deportation procedures includes the possibility of gay marriages being considered ground for an undocumented immigrant staying in the U.S., and
a San Francisco couple is using this to appeal deportation.

Perhaps even more powerfully,
the man who rescued a kidnapped six year old girl in New Mexico has revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant.

These two news stories put personal faces of love (Venus) and heroism (the sun) on the immigration issue, throwing Leonine light on the Aquarian debate. A higher manifestation of the aspects over the next two days could be greater compassion. Venus in opposition to Neptune - sharing the love, transcending the boundaries.


India's popular anti-corruption leader Anna Hazare was jailed yesterday. The Indian government said it was necessary to prevent violence... leading Hazare to comment that the current Indian government has more in common with the British Raj than a true democracy.

We've seen a lot of clamp-downs on freedom for our own protection lately. San Fransisco's BART system cut off cell phone use over the weekend out of fear that protests would turn violent, leading to both controversy and retaliation (see yesterday's post).

Uranus-in-Aries rebels like Hazare, Wikileaks, and Anonymous are challenging government and business power structures, which are responding in a Pluto-in-Capricorn way. Pluto will transform the powers that be, but in Plutonian fashion will probably do so by bringing both sides to an extreme.

But the powers that be are concerned.
BART allowed the protests to go on yesterday without turning off passenger cell phones. They took care of the protesters the old fashioned way - with police in riot gear. No arrests were made.

please turn off your cell phones...

Here's a question a lot of people have been asking me in the past few days: "Something's going on astrologically, right?"

Last week's Martian aspects to Uranus and Pluto gave us a taste of the Uranus-Pluto square that we'll be living with for the next several years - and the results were not encouraging. Anger was the most prevalent emotion, erupting into violence not only in the usual hot spots like the Middle East, but also in the usually-stable U.K..

But although the fiery energy of the T-square is perhaps most obvious, Neptune's influence can also be felt. From the largest internet hacking caper in history, to the court decision that will probably send U.S. health care reform to the Supreme Court, to the coordination of the London riots via Twitter and other social media, the seeping, covert energy of Neptune is all over the past week.

If governments were not happy with Wikileaks, they must be freaking out over Anonymous. The group hacked into a variety of law enforcement sites last week, releasing embarrassing data about police practices. Then, yesterday, the group released private customer's information as a retaliation for San Francisco's transportation system cutting off cell phone use.

BART claims it cut off cell phone use because riders planned a disturbance. Watching London burn last week must have made them anxious to avoid a similar scene. But Anonymous has made sure that such simple measures can't be used without a second thought. And of course, shutting down communication networks is also a strategy used by governments in the Middle East and particularly in China. There are no easy answers.

Rogue groups like Anonymous capture the energy of Uranus in Aries. Whether any one group is viewed as heroic or terrorist is largely a matter of perspective. What is certain is that over the next seven years we will see increasing influence from these groups. Sometimes we'll cheer them on as they challenge the existing power structures, sometimes we'll see them as the lunatic fringe.

Either way, going to extremes is part of what the Uranus-Pluto square is all about - deep change that is created as we whirl between polarities.

It seems many of us felt personally the same kind of energy that was so apparent in the collective. This week's moon in Aries (especially on Wednesday) will have us revisiting the Uranus-Pluto square. Take a deep breath...

taking care

As predicted (by me), the return on Neptune to Aquarius has led to a reexamination of the issue of health care reform in the U.S..

Aquarius is all about the collective, and Neptune has the capacity for compassionate action, and of course for caring. Hospitals and nursing homes are under Neptune's sign, Pisces, for example. Care for the masses is thus very Neptune-in-Aquarius.

Hardly has Neptune returned to the sign of the Water Bearer (he retrograded in just a bit more than a week ago) than the Health Reform Act has been dealt a major setback. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that forcing Americans to buy private health insurance is unconstitutional, a ruling that conflicts with a prior Appeals Court ruling. The conflicting rulings suggests a strong probability that the issue will go to the Supreme Court, and that could mean the end of Obamacare.

With Mercury and Neptune both retrograde, it's hard to see an outcome. Rick Perry's Tea Party candidacy seems to suggest dark days ahead for liberal causes... but that requires an understanding of the Uranus-Pluto dynamic, too much for a Saturday.

Personally, I have been a long-time advocate of universal health care in the U.S., but I think that we need a government-run system, not private insurers profiting from mandatory enrollment. As a strong advocate for health care reform, I nonetheless agree with recent ruling, although undoubtedly with a very different motivation than others who are cheering it.

no show

Yesterday's cosmic energy was full of mixed messages.

The void moon in Capricorn suggested applying oneself to routine tasks. Working is always a good idea when the moon is in the sign of the mountain goat, and while a void isn't a great time to initiate, you can often sail easily through daily matters.

On the other hand, the moon's last aspect before going void on Wednesday night was tense square to Saturn, and during the day it made edgy quincunx's (150 degree aspects) to the sun and Mercury. The explosive Mars-Pluto opposition also happened during the void, early Thursday morning.

What all that means is that there was a great deal of internal combustion cooking during a time when sailing on autopilot might have been the preferred option.

It seems that managing to hold back and not saying anything might have been the best strategy. Texas Governor Rick Perry didn't make it to the Republican debate Thursday night, and
his absence may have put him in the pole position for the 2012 Republican nomination. I didn't watch the debate, but reports are that things were not exactly inspiring.

Today, the moon is in sociable Aquarius. There are a couple of challenging aspects, including a square to Jupiter that is exact at 6:20 p.m. EDT. After that, the moon heads towards a trine to Saturn. The evening's energy should be outgoing and optimistic.

Having a direction or purpose to guide our meetings is a good idea, and we might find that idle discussion wends its way around to politics or ideals. The Jupiterian energy might push us towards a bit of excess, but the evening really calls for good manners.

out of the ordinary

A friend of mine recently summed it up like this: "Everything is getting beyond itself."

Maybe it's the end of the Mayan calendar. Maybe it's the Cardinal Cross in the skies. But today's Astroblog doesn't explore either causes or synchronicities, just the facts.


9 of the 10 warmest years, since we've been keeping track in 1880, have been in the last decade. The 10th year was 1998.

Of the 20 largest stock market percentage losses in a single day, 5 have been in the last decade.

And, interestingly enough, there have only been
20 perfect games pitched in major league baseball, going back to the 19th century. Four of them were pitched in the last decade. Three were pitched in the last two years. And had a bad call not foiled on perfect game, 3 would have been pitched within a three week period in 2010.

Just a few facts that seem to indicate that things are indeed getting beyond themselves.

mobbed up

The London riots began as Mars entered Cancer, setting off the Summer Ingress (when the sun enters Cancer). No doubt this summer will be remembered as the summer of the riots in England.

Mars didn't just enter the sign of the crab, of course. This week he's aspecting Uranus and Pluto, setting off the square between the two of them. That aspect will be in orb for years to come, and we've seen signs of it in action already. The riots in the U.K., however, serve to get our attention. In a world filled with violence, it matters when a Western city like London is rocked by mayhem - we don't notice the Middle East as much because we're used to such things happening there.

Mobs - angry, but also looking to make a little on some looting - are quite characteristic of Uranus in Aries: it's The Age of the Pirate (
click here for my article on the topic). Mars later makes an aspect to Pluto in Capricorn, bringing in a sense of festering anger at the status quo. Rogue groups and Power Brokers will face off - neither will win, but in the process we will dig up deep issues about who is in charge and what needs to change.

With the Uranus-Pluto square in orb for years to come (to 2016, if you give it ten degrees), we'll be seeing a lot of this energy. Many aspects of the old power structure and the ways of life we have become used to will have to change. If we can accept the need for change, we might make the transitions less violently and with more compassion.

More patient astrologers will find the exact moment that the riots began and the astrological triggers. But the big picture is that our attention is focused on a city much like any other in the Western world, and we aren't as safe and secure as we might like to think. That's the symbolic message of the situation in London.

Gathering clouds

At this writing, the New York markets are not yet open. Everyone is speculating about whether they will come tumbling down, or if the S&P downgrade of the U.S. credit rating will be shrugged off by investors. A shrug-off could certainly happen: after all, professional investors often by 'junk' bonds and very iffy penny stocks. But markets run on psychological contagion just as much as rational assessment, and with Neptune back in Aquarius and Mars about to square Uranus and Pluto, a mild reaction seems unlikely.

Some people are apparently hoping for a crash, a way of clearing out our old system so that we can begin building a more sustainable, sane economy and society. As much as I'd like to see change, I don't think we are ready for such a dramatic shift. Bread lines and mass unemployment are more likely to fuel violence and mindless destruction than to stir up universal compassion at this point. The London riots over the weekend are an example.

Those riots are also yet another example of Neptune in Aquarius - as they were apparently coordinated via a network of Blackberrys, making them harder to trace than other social networking devices. With Mercury opposite Neptune, getting a clear idea of what happened may take some time, if it happens at all.

We are in the most energetically packed week of the month. Between now and the full moon on the 13th, the energy will be running fast and furious. Mars squares Uranus later tonight, then Pluto on Wednesday, followed by Saturday's full moon.

You might want to get a bag of popcorn and watch what happens in the world, as issues bubble up and burst open. But in our personal lives, those same energies can lead to a sense of frustration and anger. The Dog Days of summer are hot this year, so try to chill.

Up, Up, and Away...

The moon has climbed out of the Scorpionic waters and has begun floating through Sagittarius. There are two things we are likely to see as a result.

The first is a general improvement in our individual and collective moods. Sagittarius has an openness and a hopefulness that is much harder to come by when Scorpio is the dominant sign. Even with the moon making some tough aspects today and some very hot aspects just around the corner, the feeling should be a bit lighter than the past two days.

On the other hand, Sagittarius is also associated wi
th beliefs and belief systems. The optimistic energy of the sign can also be used to fuel polarized ideological fights. We could see this in the fallout from the S&P downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and Governor Rick Perry's faith-based rally on Saturday.

In our personal lives, Sagittarius gives us a choice between exploring new possibilities or clinging dogmatically to beliefs we may have outgrown.

A nice Venus/Saturn sextile tonight supports relationships and social activities. It's more of a nice family dinner than a wild party, but that might feel right just now. A bit of elegance wouldn't be out of place, given the signs involved (Leo/Libra).

The sextile could also serve to provide some stability in the financial markets, although the Mars/Uranus/Pluto aspects early Tuesday morning are already beginning to build, returning us quickly to the Scorpionic tension.

Bond, 006+

Standard and Poor dropped the U.S. government's credit rating from AAA to AA+ late on Friday, around the time that the Moon in Scorpio was squaring Venus (associated with values and valuables). Scorpio is associated with banks, investments, and financial institutions.

The economic impact in uncertain, although it can hardly be considered a shot in the arm for the economy. Interestingly, the S&P report said that the political system in the U.S. has become less stable, a reminder that our 50/50 political stalemate has consequences beyond getting our ears chewed off by cable news networks.

The fallout of the decision is likely to be intense at least through all of those Sunday-morning political talk shows. When the moon reaches Sagittarius later on Sunday and into Monday, we may see a more optimistic response (floating away from the issue) and/or more polarized ideological debates.

Neptune is back in Aquarius, and issues about the collective welfare (health care reform was a Neptune/Aquarius issue) will be prominent over the next six months. That won't undo the energy of the Uranus/Pluto/Saturn square-off in the skies, but it might help to stir up some compassion and a realization that we're all in this together.

Meanwhile, the Neptune/Aquarius energy blends with the rogue energy of Uranus in Aries, as a group named Anonymous has hacked into U.S. law enforcement websites and released scads of internal information about policing practices.

Wikileaks receded as a top news story when Neptune left Aquarius earlier this year - but
this story is sure to recapture our collective imagination.

Dark Waters

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's Venus-Jupiter aspect, with the moon in sociable Libra. Today's energy is quite different, as the moon has moved into Scorpio. Luna will square Venus late Friday/early Saturday, and yesterday's fun and friendship can become more intense - either more passionate or contentious.

Although we are approaching a nice Venus/Saturn aspect that should make the mood on Sunday a bit lighter (the moon will be in Sagittarius then, too), we can also feel the building of a series of aspects between Mars and Uranus, Pluto, and Saturn that will make for a very hot beginning to next week.

Financial markets are reeling all over the world, and the political situation - particularly in the Middle East - is very volatile. The tension of the Mars aspects is enough to overshadow more positive energies, at least on the collective level.

Rebels and rogues (or Pirates, as I like to call them) abound. That's part of the theme of
Uranus-in-Aries, and we'll be seeing a lot of it over the next seven years. From political rebels in Syria to polygamists in Texas, the energy of the rebel is strong. Witness the Tea Party's effect on the recent U.S. debt negotiations.

In our personal lives, we're likely to be feeling something of the same energy. It can make for a difficult time, but as individuals we have a greater chance to steer this energy in a positive direction. Be true to yourself, while being considerate of others, something I like to call Creative Selfishness.

Hacking Coffers

Neptune backs out of Pisces into Aquarius at 10:54 Eastern time tonight, but he is already casting his shadow before himself (behind himself?).

Neptune has many facets and aspects. He can signal an inspiring, spiritualizing ability to transcend our usual boundaries. When less evolved energies are involved, Neptune can be about deception, illusions, and dissolution. Personified, Neptune can be a saint or a con artist.

Aquarius is also multifaceted. The energy of this sign includes ideals, as well as the groups that embody them, and the mass communication networks that connect us: radio, television, and the internet.

When a planet changes signs, we often see a news event that shows the issues that are going to be part of the planet's trip through the sign. Not necessarily the only issue, but what we might call the flagship issue. Today, we have two stories that have Neptune in Aquarius written all over them.

The first is the report of the largest-ever internet hacking attack.
The Los Angeles Times reports that thousands of companies, organizations, and government agencies were hacked in a coordinated and sustained attack (the hackers not only took data one time, but remained embedded in the sites for as long as five years). The attacks appear to have had support from an Eastern European or East Asian government (fingers are already pointing to China).

Infiltrating the internet is disturbing enough (read the LA Times story and you'll agree), but the other Neptunian story is even more disturbing, as more than 36 million pounds of ground turkey is suspected in a salmonella outbreak. The Associated Press reports that the government can't issue a recall as it isn't sure of the source - not atypical for Neptunian times.

Recent Neptune-in-Aquarius stories included the hyped-up scare over H1N1, swine flu (the story "broke" on a Neptune station). Neptune is indeed associated with viruses and diseases that spread through less-than-obvious means, and of course Aquarius implies distribution through mass means, such as the food supply.

There are even more Neptunian stories... once again, DB Cooper, the aerial thief who disappeared, is in the news. And New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is giving away money for Aquarian causes - to help keep the state's regents exams in place, and to help minority youth. So, you see, Neptune in Aquarius ain't all bad.

The Friendly Skies

With Mercury retrograde, it seems a good time to re-sume the Astroblog. Or perhaps it's a bad time... that's the thing about Mercury retrograde, you can't be sure. At any rate, it is appropriate.

Mercury rules transportation, and the FAA shutdown is a very Mercury retrograde story. Republicans want to cut $16.5 million dollars from the $200 million allotted for rural development, which Democrats would like to maintain. The stalemate has shut the FAA down (although the rest of the government is open for business... more or less).

The thing is, with the FAA shut down, it cannot collect revenue on passenger fares - those annoying fees that make every day a Mercury retrograde when you purchase a flight for one price then watch is climb as fees are added. It is estimated that the shutdown will cost as much as $1.2 billion in revenue - about 73 times the dispute amount of $16.5 million.

Passengers are still paying the fees, by the way - but they are going to the airlines rather than the FAA. You can't get much more Mercury retrograde than that.

Bulletin: Astrologer Finds 13th Month!!

Scientific Community Rocked by Discovery!!

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Jan. 17 - Amidst all the flap about a thirteenth zodiac sign, Regis K. Downlander, an astrologer, amateur astronomer, and hotel clerk, has discovered a thirteenth month in the Julian year. 

"I was working the night shift," said Mr. Downlander, "and I was just kind of doodling around with a calendar and a calculator, and all of a sudden there it was right in front of me."

Astrologer Finds 13th Month!!

Mr. Downlander sent his findings to to NASA, where astrophysicist Jon Finer had to admit that the astrologer was correct in his calculations.  "It's quite a gaffe for the scientific community," Dr. Finer said, "First, that little girl finds a supernova, and now this... we really have to get on the ball!"

Although the actual calculations are quite complex, Mr. Downlander explained it in layman's terms.  "You see, there are twelve months in the year, but 365 days, so that means that five days are left over.  Then, seven of the months have 31 days, meaning that there are an extra seven days - that makes twelve extra days.  Now, we all know days are longer in the summer than the winter, and if you add up the total number of hours, it totals 18 additional days.  Bingo!  An extra month!"

What to call the new month has been a concern in the scientific community all day.  "Since the months September through December are essentially numbered (
September means seventh, October means eighth, etc. - Ed), it makes sense to add on another one, but no one seems to know what the Latin word is for 'eleven,'" said Dr. Finer.

"We thought about adding a number on the front end, before seven (September), but Christian groups were up in arms at the thought of a month named 'Sextember.'"

Where to put the extra month has also been the cause of considerable debate. Both Major League Baseball and the National Football League have already begun petitioning congress to bring the month into their respective seasons, thereby lengthening them. It appears likely at this point that the powerful National Retailer's Association will demand that the extra month be placed between November and December, thus lengthening the holiday retail season.

People on the street are baffled about all the new changes.  "A new zodiac sign, a new month, the world's going crazy!"  said one pedestrian, adding that his employer had warned that no matter how many months there are, there would still be only one week of vacation.