December 16th-22nd: Expand and Grow

We begin this week with the Sun entering Sagittarius early on Saturday the 16th, joining Saturn in the Sagittarian domain. The Sun enjoys its time in Sagittarius typically, as the expansive and jovial nature of Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius connects well with the solar energy. There will be a slight sobering of this fiery energy on the Winter Solstice on Thursday, as the Sun and Saturn come into conjunction with one another. The next few weeks are highly creative and a bit scattered, but Mercury’s passage out of retrograde should help those who are feeling too overwhelmed.

The new moon occurs in Sagittarius very early Monday morning, with the Sun and moon meeting in conjunction at 3 degrees Sag. This energy encourages us to examine our own belief systems and attitudes toward knowledge and personal philosophy. This is a good time to sort through limiting beliefs or attitudes, and figure out what is working for us and what is not. This is a highly personal process and cannot be dictated by anyone else or their views. It can be useful to discuss this with others, but in the end the work is our own. This new moon calls us to examine our personal catalog of knowledge, and to clear out certain things so we can make room for the new. We may find our interests shifting, or our energy moving toward a new hobby or area to master. The Sagittarian overlay of this moon will make it feel very uncomfortable to limit ourselves while we are making these changes.

On Wednesday the 20th, Venus enters Sagittarius, joining the Sun and Saturn. This week is remarkably Jovial in nature, and has a very light, playful energy should we choose to align with it. Venus will transit Sagittarius until January 13th, and will encourage romantic trips, and travel as a means of understanding beauty and art. Creative partnerships open up once more. The relatively close conjunction of Venus and the Sun makes it impossible to view Venus in the morning sky during this time, but in another couple weeks we will begin to see Venus in the early evenings just after sunset as she follows the Sun through the zodiac.

On Thursday the 21st, we have the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, which brings the longest period of darkness of any day in the year. This day also coincides with the Sun/Saturn conjunction at 7 degrees Sagittarius. Saturn will duck behind the Sun, invisible from our viewpoint. Being the father of the solar system, Saturn’s seeming absence can foster the environment necessary for wild behavior from many. The chaotic energy of Mercury retrograde coming to a close in combination with the Solstice and the Sun/Saturn conjunction results in a dropping of inhibitions. The desire to be impulsive and act out cannot be held back anymore, and the feeling is akin to a dam that is ready to burst. This is a very short lived window that will last only through the next day or two. There may be judgment and dramatic reactions from some in the face of these unbridled, seemingly random actions from individuals and groups. The inner work of the new moon should still be underway this week, and it is a good reminder to try to focus on your own path rather than getting distracted by that of others.

On Friday the 22nd, Mercury retrograde comes to a close. This should allow for a more heightened focus and clearer communication, but we still have a couple more weeks until Mercury exits the shadow zone of the retrograde. During the shadow period, which lasts until January 11th, there may be echoes of the retrograde that are extremely illusory but can be distracting all the same. On January 11th, Mercury will reach 6 degrees Sagittarius, which is where it was when the retrograde cycle began. We will finally begin to break new ground at that point. For the next two and a half weeks until that day, there could be a tendency to fall into patterns or attitudes that are based on past feelings rather than present situations. If you are someone who struggles with staying present overall, it will be useful to practice awareness and meditation during his time. Physical activity will also assist with remaining grounded.

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December 9th-15th: Mercury Rising

This week, Mercury is the major player as it continues its retrograde cycle. Mercury has been treading backwards through the beginning degrees of Sagittarius over the past week, and re-enters Scorpio on Sunday the 10th. Mercury was in Scorpio fairly recently (November 1st-23rd) and so these themes will be familiar. While the past week had more chaotic, impatient energy thanks to the interplay of Mercury and fiery Sagittarius, the next week and a half will be a little less outwardly manic and more focused on internal dynamics. We may be forced to reexamine our communication styles in love and intimate relationships of all sorts. Themes of possessiveness and jealousy may come up again, in different forms for each of us. As with any Mercury retrograde, it is best to take things slow. Thankfully the urge to act without thinking has been lifted a little, but Scorpio is still known for striking whatever moves through its domain. Displays of passion are fairly likely, and should be handled with understanding and patience if possible. On Tuesday the 12th, Mercury comes into conjunction with the Sun at 27 degrees Scorpio, which signifies the halfway point of this retrograde.

On Friday the 15th, the Geminid meteor shower reaches peak visibility around 2am EST, with around two meteors a minute. The constellation of Gemini, of course, is ruled by Mercury. Everything seems to come back to the planet of communication this week.

Mercury’s starring role continues on Friday, as it comes into conjunction with Venus at 23 degrees Scorpio. The two planets form a trine to Rahu, which initiates a karmic sequence for most regarding personal relationships and soul connections. Mercury is in retrograde, so brings a certain level of confusion or inability to recognize the truth about a situation (or at the very least, to communicate it to others). Rahu forces us to move out of our comfort zones in order to evolve, particularly when it comes to our ties with others. It is likely that over the next two weeks, relationships will both evolve and dissolve under the residual pull of this transit. Scorpio makes everything seem more significant and intense, and so it is possible that these dissolving relationships can be re-examined once Venus and Mercury have both moved into Sagittarius the first week of January.

December 2nd-8th: Imagination Sparked

This week kicks off with the visibly largest full moon of the year, a true super moon in the constellation of Taurus. If you check the skies Saturday night as the moon rises, it will likely look extremely large on the horizon (provided there isn’t cloud cover to hide it!). The sun remains in the sidereal sign of Scorpio and so this full moon is in the sidereal sign of Taurus. This is a time for gathering our resources, and preparing ourselves for the next stage. Much of this will be very physical and tangible in nature, i.e. gathering supplies for our next project, finding the funds necessary to purchase a car or home (or even much smaller things), and building the relationships and connections we need to make these things a reality. There may be some resistance to working with others, since Scorpio keeps things hidden and closed off by default. The Taurean grounding allows us to step out of our comfort zones a little and try something that we may not have dared to in the past. This will allow us to travel further than we believed possible.

On Sunday the 3rd, Mercury’s retrograde cycle begins. Mercury is currently in the Sagittarius constellation, which it entered on November 24th. The effect of the past week of Sagittarian Mercury has brought a renewed energy and mental stamina. We may have found it difficult to relax, or to quiet a curious mind. Mercury will halt in its place at 6 degrees Sagittarius, and will begin the illusion of moving backward across the backdrop of the night sky. The key word here is illusion. Illusions can be very persistent in this world, and can feel extremely real in nature. Mercury will cycle back into Scorpio, retracing its path all the way to 19 degrees Scorpio. This retrograde cycle will cover 17 degrees of the zodiac and will complete on December 22nd. As with any retrograde cycle, the issues that tend to come up are mirrors of issues we just seemed to have gotten through. Mercury’s area of focus tends to be on communication, memory and technology. He deals with anything that is being passed from one place to another (typically intangible but sometimes not). This process gets slowed down a bit during this time, and with all the cultural focus on Mercury retrograde, we tend to exacerbate this period even more. Mercury throws up illusions that remind us of issues we have yet to overcome in ourselves. Impatience tends to be the biggest one for most of us during these periods, but you may find different variations on this theme for yourself and those closest to you. We will continue to discuss Mercury retrograde in the next two forecasts, but this week be aware of your tendency to want to push forward frantically in order to get immediate results. This is the first trap that Mercury throws out for us, and can be overcome by going against the instinct and moving with a slow and steady pace. This will alter quite a bit by next week, when Mercury re-enters Scorpio, so this chaotic energy should only be an issue over the next several days.

The Geminid meteor shower begins this week on Monday the 4th, though it will not reach its peak until the 13th. If you search the skies in the middle of the night, you may be able to see some dust trails from the meteors that trace back to the Gemini constellation.

On Friday the 8th, Jupiter becomes the brightest point in the early morning sky. Jupiter is currently transiting the Libra constellation, and will be visible clearly about three hours before sunrise. Jupiter’s appearance heralds the coming of the Sun into Sagittarius next week, and provides an expansive look into our own imaginations. Jupiter’s prominence is a good omen for travelers and for those who seek to explore through knowledge or spirituality. Jupiter’s appearance bodes well for those interested in using this time (about three hours before dawn) for lucid dreaming, astral travel or for simply getting up to study. Knowledge soaks in easier during this period.

September 16th-22nd: Autumn Harvest

Saturday begins with a conjunction of Mercury and Mars at 13 degrees Leo. These two planets have been dancing around each other over the past few weeks, and last met on September 2nd near the beginning of the Leo constellation. This marked the end of the Mercury retrograde period, and this week Mercury will finally emerge from the “shadow zone”, meaning the area it previously covered while in retrograde motion. Let’s look at retrograde periods for a minute, as there are three stages to any planetary retrograde:

-Retrograde motion: A planet (in this case we’ll discuss Mercury) seems to move backwards across the starfield. It will move through the planetary degrees it had previously covered. Mercury “halted” at 17 degrees Leo back on August 12th, and spent the next three weeks moving back to 4 degrees Leo. During this time, we often have to deal with issues from the past or have to repeat our own actions. This time requires patience and a keen eye in order to double-check work, as mistakes or misunderstandings are common.

-Direct motion: When the retrograde period finishes, the planet begins to make its way forward. On September 5th, Mercury began moving forward again at 4 degrees Leo. Since it spent the past three weeks moving back through an area it already covered, it will have to move through this “shadow” for a third time. The retrograde period is effectively over, but we still feel echoic remnants of it during the Shadow Period.

-Shadow Period: The Shadow Period lasts until the planet makes it to the degree point where the retrograde motion cycle began. In this case, Mercury will finally reach a new degree point on Tuesday the 19th, making it to 18 degrees Leo (the retrograde period began at 17 degrees Leo, so this is “new territory” for Mercury, at least since the last time it made it through all the signs and was in Leo). While we are in the Shadow Period, we have a chance to learn the final lesson of the retrograde period. What issues came up for you during this Mercury retrograde? How can you learn and grow from these challenges?

(Of course, planets don’t really move backwards. Retrograde motion is an observable illusion that occurs from our vantage point here on Earth. Like any illusion, it carries weight in the psyche and consciousness and so affects life around us to some extent, but is all smoke and mirrors.)

The Mercury and Mars conjunction occurs right before the Shadow Period ends, and so is a powerful impetus to clean up the last remnants of retrograde and move forward fresh. Retrograde periods tend to bring up whatever was left over from the previous retrograde cycle, so they are always easier if we deal with the lessons that come up rather than pushing them under the rug.

On Sunday the 17th, the Sun enters Virgo. This is the “harvest period” and lines up with the coming Autumnal Equinox and New Moon. The New Moon is on Tuesday the 19th and occurs at 3 degrees Virgo (Sun conjunct Moon). This New Moon is truly an offering for fall, which we enter on Friday the 22nd. On New Moons it is beneficial to release, let go and confront that which no longer serves us. The Autumnal Equinox is the meeting of light and darkness, when the day hours are equal to the hours of nighttime. Under the Virgo compass, we may feel a compulsion to organize, tidy and disperse. It is a time for making room for the coming harvest, whether by letting go of possessions and clutter, or by making the necessary life changes to allow room for the new.

September 2nd-8th: Rebuilding

On Saturday, Mercury and Mars meet in conjunction at the point of 4 degrees Leo. This will feel particularly significant, because Mercury will be emerging from retrograde in a couple days’ time at this same degree point. Mars provides energy and enthusiasm today, which could turn into a chaotic feel if we get too swept up in it. This is because Mars is especially driven in the sign of Leo, and as it meets with retrograde Mercury it can hit communication blocks, or be slowed down by other forces. This could lead to having a ton of pent up energy and seemingly nowhere to put it. Being active will be important, as exercise and time spent outdoors will help to distribute this kinetic energy in a healthy way.

Mercury retrograde completes its tri-annual cycle on Tuesday the 5th, resuming direct motion at 4 degrees Leo. At this point, it will become easier to express ourselves creatively. Public image or self esteem may have taken a hit under this retrograde cycle, and so we can begin to rebuild this or reframe our concepts of how we want to present ourselves to the world. When a planet comes out of retrograde, it has to travel through the “shadow” zone and figuratively retrace its steps. Mercury retrograde began in early August at 18 degrees Leo, and it will take the speedy planet until September 19th to rearrive at that point. As we move into late September then, it becomes even easier to reinvent ourselves, utilize new ideas in communication and technology, and be understood by others in a way that is relevant to who we are presently, and not who we once were.

The full moon hits on the same day that Mercury comes out of retrograde (Tuesday 9/5), casting an emotional light on any misunderstandings or personal dilemmas that have arisen or worsened over the past few weeks. This full moon is in Aquarius on the Vedic calendar, and creates a dynamic interplay with the Sun in Leo. New and inventive thoughts and ideas are given the chance to be brought into the public eye. This is an apt time for electric change. The full moon symbolizes manifestation and harvest, and so we harvest the Aquarian ideals of art, love and spiritual Renaissance. This is a turning point for many. We are waking up to higher concepts of love, and understanding how to bring these into the world. There is a mass emphasis on suffering and division between communities at present, and this full moon serves as a reminder to keep evolving and to fearlessly live as an example of light in the world. The Leo/Aquarius polarity reminds us to not get caught too much in egoic trappings, and to think of how our actions serve others as much as ourselves. How can you best live as a constant source of light? Meditate on this and see what arises.

August 12th-18th: Dig Deep

This week, speedy Mercury is brought to a theoretical halt at 17 degrees Leo. The planet of communication will spend the next three weeks on a retrograde cycle, taking place entirely in the sign of Leo, finally resuming direct motion on September 5th at 5 degrees Leo. The early stages of this retrograde period will be extremely noticeable because of how fast Mercury has been cruising along this summer. Creative projects could spin out, or communication regarding collaborations on the business or art level may be met with confusion. If you try to move along at the pace you were going, there may be a sudden wall in your path where there once was none. We all go through Mercury retrograde a couple times every year, so this energy is familiar enough. It requires us to slow down, take a few steps back and remain patient.

On Sunday, the Sun and Saturn aspect one another in a helpful, positive way. Saturn’s beneficial qualities are brought out by the solar energy, and we are able to buckle down and stabilize more than in recent weeks. Saturn provides us with a grounding energy that is great for tackling projects and items on a to-do list. This energy pairs well with Mercury retrograde, as Saturn’s keen eye catches what Mercury may have missed. Slow yourself down a little and communication and technological glitches will be brought to a minimum.

On the Vedic calendar, the Sun enters its home domain of Leo very early on Thursday the 17th. The Sun rules over Leo, and is extremely comfortable here. It is free to openly shine, and wants to be seen and heard. Connect with others through generosity and charity. Appreciate others to be appreciated yourself. There is a subtle desire for attention this month, and it will likely come out in very different ways for each person. Appreciation and gratitude is the key that will unlock each communication difficulty this month.

The big news this week occurs on Friday. Rahu and Ketu, the Vedic node points, are changing signs for the first time since January 2016. Rahu will be entering Cancer and Ketu will be entering Capricorn, where they will be through March 2019. The last time these nodes were on the Cancer/Capricorn axis was in January 1999-August 2000. Ketu is actually fairly content in Capricorn, pairing up with Cap’s ruler Saturn to bring access to a certain level of career and business stability that has been harder to come by for the past couple years. Ketu grounds in here and gives us solid footing, but could cause us to get caught in material world considerations and leave little room for imagination. This placement will allow for a lot of big changes that will have more staying power. There will be very little back-peddling over the next year and a half.

Rahu in Cancer is a little more awkward. In Vedic mythology, the moon (which rules Cancer) is frightened of Rahu. As Rahu will spend the next year and a half in the moon’s domain, we are brought face to face with our own fears. We may have to confront emotions we are uncomfortable with. This can be very intense, and it is important to reach out to others instead of thinking we can handle it all on our own. Everyone will be going through this to some extent, and so coming together with others will make it easier to navigate these dark lunar thoughts. Some may become outwardly manic under this influence because they are seeking guidance and help. Enter into these interactions with compassion as your main motivator. The influence of Ketu can increase the need for power and dominance in some, so temper this with the positive aspects of Cancer (intuition, sensitivity and nurture) to overcome those who seek to divide.