Low-Down Archives Jan-Feb 2009

January-February 2009

For the Solar Eclipse and New Moon Cycle in Aquarius :
January 26 to February 24, 2009

Jan.26 � SOLAR ECLIPSE and NEW MOON in AQUARIUS (06:29 of Aquarius)


Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Jan.26, 2:55 AM EST

London, UK:

Jan.26, 7:55 AM GMT

Sydney, AU:

Jan.26, 6:55 PM AEDT

"What's a Solar Eclipse?"

"What's a New Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

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

Visible from southern part of Africa, Madagascar, Australia (but not Tasmania), southeast India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.

Remember: Never look directly at a Solar Eclipse or you could damage your eyes.

Gung Hay Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year! By the Chinese calendar, this New Moon marks the beginning of the Year of the Ox. Oxen are known for their hard work and productivity, so for a year we all get to express the Ox side of our nature. With the global economy requiring a lot of sustained effort and "elbow grease" right now, the Ox sounds like a good animal energy to get us through the coming year.

This is also the second year in a row that the New Moon in Aquarius is also a Solar Eclipse. Eclipses are often associated with great upheaval and disruption, but they are ultimately agents of transformative change. A stellar example of this is the Feb.07.2008 Solar Eclipse in Aquarius which was opposite President Barack Obama's Sun and conjunct his Ascendant. His whirlwind year in 2008 that culminated in his unprecedented election is a radical example of the metamorphosis that Eclipses can bring to our lives! This year the Solar Eclipse in Aquarius lands opposite both his Mercury and Sun, indicating another challenging year where his communication, ideas, interaction and leadership will likely be tested and stretched to their limits � but we didn't really need the planets to tell us that, did we? ;-)

It's also interesting to note that the 2009 Eclipse also exactly conjoins the South Lunar Node of the USA's chart. ("What's a Lunar Node?") The South Node is often seen as a negative energy that brings unhappy experiences. However, I think this may be largely our perspective. The nodes actually embody a kind of yin-yang cycle. At the North Node, we take in a new challenge, agenda, quest, connection to others or a new direction. The South Node is where we let go of that which no longer serves our greater purpose, but this can be difficult because we tend to hold onto what's familiar.

But it's all in your perspective: the US had a Solar Eclipse at its North Node (the "taking in" point) in August 2008, just before the US economic problems mushroomed and became a global financial crisis. Now the 2009 Eclipse is on the US South Node (the "letting go" point). It suggests a jettison of existing practices, policies and excess baggage, which is necessary for healing and recovery. Sacrifices and letting go are not always bad. Think of it as cleaning out the closet to make room for better clothes that haven't yet been made or bought.

Here in Canada, we have our own political drama unfolding under the eerie twilight of the Solar Eclipse! Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper has chosen this day to recall Parliament from an unprecedented postponement. This prorogation began on Dec.04.2008 in an effort to avoid a vote of non-confidence by a coalition of three other political parties (as the Sun conjoined combative Mars and Mercury squared rebellious Uranus!). So this Solar Eclipse could see radical changes in our current Parliament! It lands squarely on the Descendant of Canada's repatriation chart (Apr.17.1982, 11:35am EST, Ottawa). The Descendant is the doorway to the 7th house � the house of "open enemies," which seems to describe the situation very aptly. The Eclipse also conjoins Canada's Moon, which itself rules our 12th house � the house of "hidden enemies." Will we discover further intrigue and surprises about which politicians and parties are allied with whom behind closed doors? Talk about a dysfunctional family! Who said Canada was boring???

On a purely transit-to-transit level, today's Solar Eclipse in Aquarius is conjunct the transiting North Node; so for everyone there is a "taking in" of new energy with this Eclipse. With such radical change dawning in the US and the ripple effects this will have�is already having!�on the rest of the world, the chart for the Eclipse in Aquarius shows there can be opportunities for those who are willing to look at the subtleties of the big picture and work hard for the results.

Jupiter is conjunct the Solar Eclipse in Aquarius, bringing optimism, a philosophical viewpoint and a sense of connection to something greater than oneself. This can be a very visionary energy that helps you spot opportunities of synchronicity. This might lead to a "lucky" break which is more likely the ability to see just the right moment to step in and grab an opportunity.

The Sun, Moon and Jupiter are in a sesqui-quadrate aspect to Saturn. This means the biggest thing that could get in the way of all that fortunate intuition is to get bogged down in analysis, details, perfectionism, specifics, or second-guessing what you think "should" be happening. However, when you work at getting these two approaches to cooperate with each other, they form a powerful engine that can move you toward your vision in practical, realistic ways.

Speaking of Saturn, it is again the "handle" of the New Moon chart, as it was for the last New Moon in Capricorn (Dec.27.2008). Saturn, being the traditional ruler of Aquarius, is again the ruler of the New Moon's sign. (Although modern astrology often gives Uranus as the planetary ruler of Aquarius, Saturn remains the traditional ruler, albeit reflecting a different side of Aquarius than Uranus does.) At the last New Moon, there was a Stellium (several planets) in Capricorn, and this time there is a stellium in Aquarius. The emphasis has now shifted from Capricorn to Aquarius � from the conventional to the unorthodox, from order to deviation, and from authority to defiance or peer pressure.

This gives us a vivid view of the other side of Saturn. Whereas the Capricorn side of Saturn focuses on stabilizing and developing a centralized, hierarchical structure, the Aquarius side is more like the glue that holds a decentralized structure together�like a group of people. Each person is independent and individual, but operates as a unit within a greater whole. That whole requires something to sustain it and that's where Saturn comes in. This is a more flexible side of Saturn that is both strong and flexible enough to maintain the essence of cohesion in the face of radical change. It's the stuff that holds the bedrock together even when the building is torn down and as it's being rebuilt. Or think of it as the weave in the fabric that keeps its interconnectedness even while it's being cut up and pieced back together to make a new coat.

The lesson from this side of Saturn is: Make changes or go with the changes, but remember that you'll also need to hold onto a certain level of stability and wholeness. This is the calm centre at the eye of the hurricane, and it is important to find that centre in the midst of major change or trying new things. That centre usually shifts around according to your circumstances, so you will likely need to keep fine-tuning and adjusting your perspective or direction in order to maintain that centre.

What could both help and hinder this is Mercury retrograde conjunct Mars in Capricorn. It might be tempting to try and figure things out only using logic, rules and making things fit, since this may seem like the easiest path. A reality check is definitely a good idea, but don't let that get in the way of the opportunity for innovation, experiment and unexpected discovery that may also be available to you.

Little Eye aspect configuration

With Venus conjunct Uranus, and this pair sextile to the Mercury-Mars pair, the best solutions are bound to be creative, unconventional and original. Listen to your intuition and your feelings, and take these into account along with your reasoning and discipline. These two pairs form a Little Eye aspect configuration with Chiron and Neptune. This emphasizes even more that there's a subtle, sensitive, off-beat and perhaps elusive layer to whatever events surround you. Find that layer and you could discover ideas, possibilities, questions and illumination that can bring a new dimension to your situation.

That said, Eclipses can still feel pretty intense sometimes, which can be unsettling at the least. That's when it's important to get extra help, feedback, encouragement and guidance. Your situation may benefit from an expert, counselor, friend or other support person. To understand how this Eclipse and other transits are affecting your life and how to work with this transformative energy, it is best to get a personal reading. Find out more about readings and current special offers. 

Special Comments About the US Inauguration

Astrologers around the globe have been chuckling knowingly about how President Obama's oath got messed up and was later redone. This is such classic Mercury retrograde stuff!

Unfortunately, the fact that Mercury is retrograde in the inauguration chart is a concern to many astrologers. Remember that it is usually advised not to initiate new ventures under Mercury retrograde, since things can get confused, delayed, stall, have to be redone, etc.

However, I think Mercury retrograde describes the work Obama has ahead of him very aptly. So much of his work is to undo or redo things that were done over the last 8 years that have been unpopular, controversial or damaging. Sounds a lot like Mercury retrograde to me! Given the enormity of the task of healing the country on so many levels, I think any typical encounters with Mercury retrograde energy, like delays or difficulties, would probably be unavoidable no matter what Mercury was doing on inaguration day. I like to think we will see an example of a positive use of Mercury retrograde energy and coping skills over the next 4 years as the inauguration chart unfolds.

Another component that many astrologers are concerned about in the inaguration chart (Jan.20.2009, 12:05 PM EST, Washington DC, using the time of the original oath) is that the Moon is "void of course" at 29:47 of Scorpio. You can't get much closer to the next sign than that! Nevertheless, it is still is Scorpio. Using the most common modern definition, void of course happens when the Moon makes no more major aspects to other planets before it moves into the next sign. It is said to be without focus and therefore can be erratic and rogue in its expression. Ventures initiated during this time have a reputation for not reaching the intended goal. Like Mercury retrograde, this is considered something to avoid in the chart of a new project.

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So it's possible that Obama might find he has an even greater uphill battle than he already expects. On the other hand, the late modern astrologer Al Morrison had a somewhat unique view of the void of course Moon (The Best of Al H. Morrison, ed. Karen Christino). From his considerable research he noted that while you may not get the expected results, the outcome can still be valuable and worthwhile; even bringing significant breakthroughs of insight. So it's possible that Obama's work might take some detours that, although not intended, could still arrive at a beneficial destination.

Another thing to consider is that ancient astrologers used a different definition for the void of course Moon. William Lilly (considered one of the great classical astrologers) defined it as a time when the Moon is not within orb of a major aspect to another planet, period�regardless of where it is in relation to the next sign. Lilly used very wide orbs (up to 12-15 degrees) making it a fairly rare condition for the Moon. Using this classical definition, the Moon in the inaguration chart is not void of course, since it is less than one degree away from a sextile aspect to Mercury, although the aspect is "out-of-sign" � in other words, the Moon was in the next sign by the time the aspect was exact (about an hour and a half after the oath was taken). The sextile is a positive, creative aspect, which is very helpful. It seems that the two most worrisome planets in the inaguration chart are trying valiantly to become allies and make the best of it!

In any case, it might be possible that by redoing the oath, these awkward influences might have become softened in a somewhat better chart (which is a matter of some debate). The new chart (for Jan.21.2009 at 7:35 PM EST) has a Moon that is not void of course � by anyone's definition. It is, however, applying to a square to Venus, so we seem to have traded one potentially difficult influence for another. However, a hard aspect is usually considered better than no aspect at all; at least it has a focus, even if one of struggle.

Overall, I think it will be a very challenging presidency that will require all the strength, integrity, resolve and love that Obama, his administration and the country have to give. But we still didn't need astrology to tell us that, did we? ;-)

Jan.26 � Mercury Retrograde sextile Venus (23:43 of Capricorn/Pisces)

There is a potential to benefit from social connections, diplomatic communication and receptive awareness during this transit, although a certain amount of effort is needed to make this happen. It can be a good time for negotiating contracts and other agreements, especially if you consciously focus your intent on achieving balance with your counterpart, partner or opponent that results in a win-win situation for all concerned. There is also potential to appreciate and express beauty, pleasure and sensuality. If there's someone in your life that you want to get closer to, try speaking gently and listening receptively, which can be the key that opens the door to harmonious interaction. Creative ideas can also find expression now if you apply your conscious awareness to bring them into focus. The thing to watch for is a tendency to use manipulation to achieve an advantage, which might be done by you or to you. Keep communication straightforward and clear, and find diplomatic ways to deal with manipulation if you sense it happening. 

Jan.27 � Mercury Retrograde conjunct Mars (23:30 of Capricorn)

Spontaneous or impulsive words may come flying out of your mouth under this transit! If you've been struggling to keep opinions or observations to yourself, you might find it hard to keep them quiet, especially if you feel strongly about the situation. You might see things as more "cut and dried" than usual. Although you might feel frustrated if things don't happen in a direct, quick, straightforward way, it can also be a good time to make decisions and move forward with plans. On one hand, this can have a positive effect because it can give you courage to speak your mind and assert yourself candidly and honestly. On the other hand, you might also come across as abrupt, cranky, argumentative or even downright hostile, especially if you've been stuffing down anger or resentment for a while. This transit represents a new beginning in how you can handle self-assertiveness, communication and decision-making. By "listening to" your impulses, passions and urge to speak your truth, you can get an idea how your "inner voice" wants to emerge -- and how to do that without annihilating the other person. ;-)

This is the second of 3 passes of this transit: Nov.28.2008, Jan.27.2009 and Mar.01.2009. 

Jan.28 � Sun conjunct North Lunar Node (09:16 of Aquarius) (Jan.29 in UK, AU)

For a few days before and after this date, your sense of self and purpose are in sharper focus. You might encounter people who understand you more than usual, or you could find the courage to shine a little brighter than you normally do. However, this also brings a challenge to find and fulfil your potential within a broader context of life, friends, associates, groups and the world. It is a good time to look at your vision of the future�on a personal level but especially the wider vision you have for the world around you. What is your greatest potential over the coming year? Ten years? The New and Full Moons just before and after this transit are probably Eclipses. Check to see if those Eclipses form major aspects to your natal chart, since these will show a future direction for you over the coming months. The Sun-Node transit happening right now will help to focus those changes. A personal reading will help you understand what direction you can best direct these energies. 

Feb.01 � Mercury stationary Direct (21:44 Capricorn; direct until May.07) (Feb.19 in UK, AU) ("What does Retrograde mean?"  "What does Stationary mean?"  Read article about Mercury Retrograde.  Read article about Stations.)

For up to a week before and after today, you may experience mental intensity, confusion, and miscommunications or changes in your outlook. After being Retrograde since Jan.11, Mercury is now taking a slow turn to resume Direct motion. These past 3.5 weeks have challenged you to rethink and rehash things that required some fine-tuning or revision. The Direct station can be a time when clearer decisions start to emerge from the issues and struggles you've encountered during the retrograde period. Or, it might turn your perspective around so that you're seeing your situation fresh again. Over the next couple of weeks, while Mercury is still in the Shadow ("What's the Shadow?"), your brain may feel a bit like it's gradually waking up after a deep sleep. During this time, you can gradually put into practice the learning and knowledge you've gained from your retrograde "dreams" and moonlight visions. It will take time to get fully back into sync with the Mercury direct energy. So, take it slow, one step at a time, and untangle yourself one strand at a time. 

Feb.02 � Venus enters Retrograde Shadow (29:11 of Pisces; in Shadow until May.20) ("What's the Shadow?"  Read article about Venus Retrograde.)

Venus now enters the span of the Zodiac where she will go retrograde from Mar.06 to Apr.17 (between 29:11 Pisces and 15:27 Aries). This is similar to when Mercury enters the Shadow, except that we are now building up themes and energies related to Venus � beauty, art, love, pleasure, desire, fairness, diplomacy, finances, possessions, values. As Venus approaches her retrograde station, you may notice increasing experiences and events that emphasise these areas.

For example, money and income could either increase or decrease during the Retrograde phase, and then often returns to its former state after Venus turns Direct again. Romantic possibilities may heat up during the Venus cycle, only to cool down again afterwards if there is no real substance to sustain it. Or, existing relationships might go through a period of confronting and sorting through issues or problems that have been lurking in the background. If the relationship is on shaky ground, this might push it to the breaking point, forcing you to do some serious renegotiating or consider ending it.

In this time of global economic struggle, this Venus retrograde cycle is likely to be about rethinking and recalibrating our financial motivations and ambitions on an individual level, as well as national and global levels. With Venus mostly in Aries during this cycle, it is wise to be cautious about impulse spending. However, do listen to your instincts about new possibilities for financial advancement. Generally, it is usually a good idea to wait until Venus is direct � and ideally out of the Shadow � before launching any new ventures. You might find the doors of opportunity don't open wide enough to walk through them until that time anyway. Use any delays or hindrances to double-check your assumptions and do a solid reality check with a qualified expert. 

Feb.02 � Venus enters Aries (until Apr.11) (Feb.03 in UK, AU)

Your style of handling relationships, finances, resources and values now take on an attitude of assertiveness, directness and the pursuit of freedom and independence. Impulse buying may be a stronger temptation than usual, so be sure you can afford whatever it is! Your way of interacting may be somewhat more direct, open or flirtatious during this transit. You may have opportunities to acquire money quickly and casually...and spend it too! You may also be more open to trying new things in the areas of finances, relationships, interactions and your values. Trying out new ideas can take you into uncharted territory...which may or may not be welcome depending on how comfortable you are with change. But this still may be just what you need to get you out of a rut in the affected areas. This can also be a good time to celebrate and appreciate yourself just as you are, as a unique individual.

Venus is in Aries an unusually long time because it will go Retrograde on Mar.06/07 while in Aries. (See Venus enters Retrograde Shadow, above.) 

Feb.04 � Mars enters Aquarius (until Mar.14/15) (Feb.05 in AU)

This is a freedom quest! The assertive, forceful energy of Mars can be at its most rebellious, defiant and eccentric while in Aquarius. We may feel especially independent. Or perhaps more accurately, "counter-dependent" -- whatever is perceived to be dependent or restrictive may trigger an automatic reaction in the opposite direction. On the other hand, you may be inclined to jump to liberate someone else who is in a dependent position -- perhaps an "underdog" or a noble cause. Taking a leadership role to champion an unconventional cause may make you a lot more noticeable...which may or may not be to your advantage (depends whether you want to continue in that role). It can be a good time to invest your energy in activities involving groups, friends, community or Humanity as a whole. Motives, behaviour and energy can be a mixed bag of unstable, spontaneous, unpredictable, liberating, obstinate and/or humanitarian. Have fun with it, but it may be wise to keep a lifeline to something realistic and grounding. 

Feb.05 � Saturn opposite Uranus (20:39 of Virgo/Pisces)

Responsibility and common sense face off against revolution and vision under this transit. These energies mix together like fireworks inside a small room! The fact that they're in an opposition aspect (180 degrees) only amplifies their differences. However, you can get them to complement each other provided you don't get locked into thinking that one must win out over the other. It's tempting to get stuck in one extreme or the other, thinking that it's a contest about which is the "better" planet/approach/candidate/path. At their worst, they can create a war between the past and the future, between rigid conformity and chaotic rebellion, or between needing others' approval to feel good about yourself versus being so independent that you can't allow yourself to connect with others.

At best, this is about negotiating a cooperative balance between these extremes. Saturn contributes stability and caution, which provides balance with the flexibility and foresight of Uranus. When these two energies work together well, they can produce lasting change that opens up old structures and allows room for future growth. Uranus inspires you to open yourself to your best unique potential, while Saturn provides a solid foundation on which to express it.

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Saturn and Uranus come into opposition about every 46 years. So for many of my viewers, either you weren't alive when it happened last (in 1965-67) or you might not remember it very well. The last opposition took place in the tumultuous 60s, when the radical youth faced off against the aging "establishment." It also combined with the infamous Uranus-Pluto conjunction which also fuelled the dramatic changes that began in the 60s. Over the next few years we are approaching the square aspect between Uranus and Pluto, which indicates a major turning point in the processes that began with the conjunction. The Saturn-Uranus opposition is the prelude and perhaps the facilitator of that turning point.

The dramatic disruptions and changes we are seeing now�economically, socially, politically and ecologically�are the early rumblings of long-term change. This will unfold both collectively and individually over the next 2 years. Trying to control or hold it back (Saturn) will only amplify the reactionary result (Uranus). On the other hand, just giving up and letting the chaos run wild (Uranus) will only send us crashing headlong into reality and harsh consequences (Saturn). Both sides must have a say in what happens.

This is the second of 5 passes: Nov.04.2008, Feb.05.2009, Sep.15.2009, Apr.26.2010 and Jul.26.2010. It is likely to affect you most if you have any planets or points in your natal chart between 15-23 degrees, particularly in the Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces). To learn more about how this transit is facilitating change in your life, it is best to book a personal astrology reading with me. Find out more about readings and special offers. 

Feb.05 � Venus square Pluto (02:26 of Aries/Capricorn) (Feb.06 in UK, AU)

Relationships and interactions are likely to be deep, intense and transformative under this transit. The same goes for your sense of beauty, and your material and financial dealings, which may require you to delve far deeper than usual to discover the truth under the surface of things. You may encounter the dark shadow of your desires -- the obscure, secret or unconscious hunger that hides underneath the "politically correct" face you show to the world (and to yourself. This is a challenge to be resolved in some way. It might bring out conflict rooted in envy or jealousy, if someone has something (or someone) that you feel you are entitled to. Or, it might prompt you to reach very deep into your soul to find your inner beauty and value. You may be challenged to develop empathy or empowerment about something that initially seemed undesirable, unforgivable or scary. This transit can show you the problem areas that need to be transformed and healed. And seeing these more clearly can be a catharsis that sets that transformative healing in motion.

This is the first of 3 passes of this transit during Venus' retrograde cycle: Feb.05, Apr.03 and May.02. This transit could indicate difficulties with finances and relationships, but these struggles are ultimately transformative. Although you may find that short-term gain works best, it's not a good idea to get stuck in the issues of the moment. Look to the bigger picture of where you want to go, but not so much that you overwhelm yourself with gloom-and-doom morbid imaginings, nor with a kind of masochistic blind faith that disregards the realities and gives your power away. 

Sabian Symbol for the
Lunar Eclipse - Full Moon in Leo

Leo 21

Intoxicated chickens dizzily flap their wings trying to fly.

What a strange Sabian Symbol! ("What's a Sabian Symbol?") Any kind of bird is usually symbolic of spiritual energy (the soaring spirit), but chickens tend to be regarded as more mundane than majestic. We see them less as enlightening and more like lunch.

Intoxicated chicken learning to fly is often how we feel when we make our first attempts at something new. It's hard to "get off the ground" and our efforts can make us feel dizzy and silly. We might imagine becoming magnificent eagles soaring through the sky, only to find our first efforts seem comical or even humiliating.

The "dizzy flapping" is us scrambling to find the right rhythm or formula that will lift us free, but this is a chaotic "hit and miss" approach based on reaction, not focused action. "What reacts ... is the ego and the ego can never 'fly'" says Dane Rudhyar. (An Astrological Mandala)

Lynda Hill cautions against "an attempt to do too much too soon." (360 Degrees of Wisdom)

Marc Edmund Jones sees the symbolic irony in us having to use our physical existence to achieve a spiritual connection to the Universe. Although chickens can fly, their flight is greatly limited. Jones sees this as a symbol for "creative self-mobilization which will enable [you] to rise to the needs of every possible situation." (The Sabian Symbols in Astrology)

In a nutshell: Do your best, don't be surprised if things don't go as you planned, and learn to laugh � not at yourself but with yourself!


Find out more about the Sabian Symbols in these recommended books:

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

The Sabian Symbols in Astrology,
by Marc Edmund Jones

An Astrological Mandala,
by Dane Rudhyar

Feb.09 � LUNAR ECLIPSE - FULL MOON in LEO (20:59)


Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Feb.09, 9:49 AM EST

London, UK:

Feb.09, 2:49 PM GMT

Sydney, AU:

Feb.10, 1:49 AM AEDT

"What's a Lunar Eclipse?"

"What's a Full Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

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

Isn't it rich? Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air.
Send in the clowns...
Making my entrance again with my usual flair,
Sure of my lines, no one is there...
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don't bother, they're here.

- Stephen Sondheim

Leo loves a good show! Create a captivating production or artistic expression and you'll have Leo's attention. The kind of production being created at this Lunar Eclipse is more like a Salvador Dali painting or a lithograph by M.C. Escher! This time is filled with irony, satire, paradox and absurdity. Be sure to wear your sense of humour!

Leo is all about creative self-expression. Whether you're painting a picture or moving with the rhythm of dance or just arranging some flowers in a vase � if you put a little something of yourself into it, you're using your Leo. But creativity often takes strange detours on its way to its final form. It's rarely a straight path. This Full Moon in Leo is all about those weird and wonderful surprises that can come about when you let spontaneity inspire you.

This Full Moon is also a Lunar Eclipse. Astronomically that means the Moon will move through the shadow cast by the Earth and become dim for a few hours. Astrologically it means you are experiencing a fruition or turning point in the process of self-discovery and growth that has been developing since the Solar Eclipse in Leo back on Aug.01.2008. From now until the next Solar Eclipse on Jul.22.2009, you will look for ways to express those discoveries and integrate them into the rest of your life so that they will endure beyond this Sun-Moon cycle.

What emerges now is a quirky, unexpected, ironic perspective on something that might have seemed ordinary at first. This might feel a bit irritating or frustrating or confusing because it means you probably can't just carry on "business as usual." You can't simply walk from here to there without having to consciously think about where or how to put your feet � literally or figuratively. If you try to take your journey for granted, you might trip over something you weren't expecting or you might miss something of value because you weren't paying attention.

Irritation Rectangle aspect figure

Astrologically we can blame this on an aspect pattern called an Irritation Rectangle. (For an excellent book on aspect patterns, I highly recommend Aspect Pattern Astrology by Bruno, Louise and Michael Alexander Huber.) This is formed from the Sun-Moon opposition (the Full Moon aspect) and the Saturn-Uranus opposition, and all 4 corners of this rectangle are joined by quincunx and semi-sextile aspects � a combination of conflict, paradox and philosophical struggle. What is unusual and makes this aspect figure very strong is its precision � all planets are at 20 degrees.

trick drawing: young or old woman?

It's as if there's an argument going on that is deadlocked, but instead of resolving it through mediation or negotiation, everyone needs to take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. It's like looking at those drawings that look like one thing at first, and then look like something totally different when you shift your mental perception. For example: look at the drawing at left. If you look one way you'll see a young woman, but looking another way you'll see an old woman.

How you see yourself, your situation or the world can change your entire perception. What you expect to see will shape what your brain tells you is there. If you are afraid to see something, it can block you from seeing something that is really there. And when you get too locked into one way of seeing things, you could miss something important.

The message of this Lunar Eclipse is to open up your mind, heart and spirit. There's something out there that is waiting to be recognized. You might have to look past the paradox to see it. You might need to laugh at the absurdity or let yourself be awestruck by the irony. It might be necessary to let go of your need for predictability � the truth may well look totally different than you expect it to. And you might have to be willing to live with answers that don't fully satisfy your questions but can nevertheless give you valuable insights.

Jupiter is closely conjunct the North Node right now, expanding visionary possibilities as well as hopes and dreams. Getting past the paradoxes and confusion will probably be easier if you focus on looking for the greater truth that can sustain you in a new understanding, not just a few clever ideas that will give you some short-term rationalization.

There continues to be a 5-planet Stellium in Aquarius, and the Sun is very closely conjunct Chiron at the Full Moon, which just adds to this "catch-22" kind of energy. Problems or challenges that you face now may demand that you deal with them, yet there may not be a solution that fully resolves the problem. One possible example is a health problem that you just have to wait out (like the flu or a flare-up of a chronic condition).

The Stellium has many more layers of insight to discover! There is a parade of planets going through Aquarius from late January to mid-March. The faster-moving Sun, Mercury and Mars are trekking past Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune which are moving more slowly through Aquarius. Mars in particular buzzes through this sign from Feb.04 to Mar.14, igniting the collective energy.

The biggest theme in this Stellium is centered on the Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune conjunction, which is in effect throughout 2009. In general, this is a spiritual combination. Jupiter is our beliefs and our quest to participate in something greater than ourselves. Neptune is the Source of our essence, whether you believe this to be a mystical divine spark from beyond the physical world or a fundamental connection to all physical existence on the molecular level. Together these two planets create a transcendental world of possibilities that melts the boundaries of the imagination. Idealism, truth, hope, joy, ecstasy and vision are commonplace concepts in the Jupiter-Neptune realm.

Chiron contributes an off-note to this symphony of inspiration. It's no longer just an "oh my goodness, life is breathtaking, let's bliss out" kind of spirituality. Now the message becomes: "life is beautiful AND tragic; it's joyous AND bitter-sweet; it's hopeful AND disappointing." This is where some of the paradox and irony comes from. Chiron is the "yes but..." that reminds us that no matter how full of wondrous possibilities life can be, some of those possibilities could include disappointment. Not all of life has a happy ending. Bad things happen to good people every day. These experiences shape us, erode us, sculpt us and ultimately turn us into creatures who exist simultaneously in two worlds � the physical and the spiritual. Chiron is the energy that challenges us to find the joy in living while also acknowledging and embracing the sadness. It encourages us to create useful and meaningful recipes for lemonade made from the lemons we receive from life.

In February and March, Mars especially brings this spiritual/physical paradox to your doorstep in one form or another. It is a time when you might experience life like beautiful music filled with the passionate angst of a minor key. Or like a magnificent painting made from clashing colours. Or a healing massage that makes you ache. This could produce the kind of experience that needs someone else to hear and witness what you're going through, yet makes it difficult to know how to put it into words. You might also struggle to even know what it is you're experiencing. A personal astrology reading can help to clarify and come to terms with this powerful energy, especially while Mars is activating it in your life. Find out more about a personal reading with me and special offers currently available...


Feb.09 � Sun conjunct Chiron (21:07 of Aquarius) (Feb.10 in AU)

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

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Feb.12 � Sun conjunct Neptune (23:56 of Aquarius)

 This can be a time of great creative ability by taking unfamiliar or little-used sources of inspiration and channeling them into self-expression. This may or may not be "creative" in the artistic sense of the word, but definitely can involve taking an inspired approach to problems and challenges. It is a great time to be romantic, creative, intuitive/psychic or spiritual. Just remember that inspiration still means you have to work for the results. Don�t confuse intuition with being able to take divine intervention for granted. You may experience profound faith in the bountiful blessings of the Universe under this transit, but don't just assume you'll be granted everything you wish for. What you pick up from others and your environment can also become mixed up with your own wishful thinking, making it hard to tell where you stop and the rest of the world begins. However, hope, optimism and imagination spring eternal. Your sense of self can become infused with a sense of vision and having a mission, feeling that you are truly a Child of the Universe. Enjoy it while it lasts, as this transit only lasts a few days, but do a careful reality check before you act on the magical possibilities before you. 

Feb.13 � Jupiter conjunct North Lunar Node (09:11 of Aquarius)

Optimism, vision and imagination are strong under this transit. During this time, you could meet or interact with someone who is a mentor, advisor or inspiring teacher. Or, you might be one of these things to someone else. It is a time to quest for ultimate truth, greater understanding and highest wisdom. You might have a spiritual awakening or feel the need to rethink your beliefs. This transit is in effect from mid-January to mid-March. 

Feb.14 � Mercury enters Aquarius (until Mar.08) (Feb.15 in AU)

Mercury in Aquarius brings objectivity, detached mental focus, and communication that strives for unprecedented breadth and height -- even to the point of adopting an �ivory tower� mentality. This is a good transit for anything requiring a scientific or analytical approach, as well as anything that calls for you to "think outside of the box." This can be a time when you start to see old familiar situations in new ways, giving you a fresh perspective on things. This planetary energy is not likely to be supportive if you need to take a gentle or sensitive approach to personal interaction, however, since you may be more tempted to just say what needs to be said and let the chips fall where they may. Your mental outlook may be focused on upcoming possibilities, and it can be a good time to map out future plans and try on new ideas, since you are likely to be more open-minded to things you had previously dismissed as unrealistic or too "out there." This can be a time when you suffer from "cabin fever" and need to get out of the house more, especially if you've been cooped up for a long time due to bad weather, hard work or just lack of motivation to do something different. Breaking free of old routines can be a good thing -- just remember you have to live with whatever mess you make in the process.

Mercury now re-enters Aquarius, where he turned retrograde back on Jan.11 and then backed up into Capricorn on Jan.21. Mercury continues to guide our awareness through the Capricorn-Aquarius transitional energies since December. We're learning more about the dual sides of Saturn (planetary ruler of both signs)�the conservative authority figure versus the group facilitator; the organizer of corporate entities versus the organizer of community and societal entities; the realist who believes in following the straight-and-narrow versus the idealist who believes in promoting diversity and new ideas. As you assimilate the experiences, ideas and learning of the last couple of months, think about how you have to some extent walked both paths and encountered the need for both approaches to life. 

Feb.16 � Mars conjunct North Lunar Node (09:07 of Aquarius)

For up to a week before and after this date, you are likely to feel energized in some way. You might feel enthusiastic, active, passionate, easily angered or downright wired. Or you could be around others who are feeling this way. The important thing is to find a constructive or beneficial outlet for this energy. It's a good time to try new things or take risks BUT make sure this is balanced with some solid common sense too. 

Feb.16 � Venus sextile Jupiter (09:59 of Aries/Aquarius) (Feb.17 in UK, AU)

There is an abundance of creative inspiration, material enjoyment, feel-good pleasure in the air! Your luck and opportunity to attract money, love, resources and self-esteem are high right now. It may be relatively easy to attract the people, possessions and opportunities you want or need, but you'll still have to work to get them. On the other hand, your eyes may be bigger than your stomach (as mother would say) and you might be tempted to charm, flirt or bluff your way through a situation more than usual. There may also be a tendency to self-indulgence. These are not necessarily bad things, but it's probably wise to remember to use this energy to enhance your best judgment, not override it. 

Feb.17 � Mars conjunct Jupiter (10:06 of Aquarius) (Feb.18 in AU)

"When the Moon is in the 7th House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace with guide the planets and love will steer the stars!" This quote from the song "Age of Aquarius" from the musical Hair describes this transit. When the aggression, drive, courage and desire of Mars are combined with Jupiter's love of justice, mercy and higher purpose, we can get the best of both worlds. On the other hand, we can also get the worst of both worlds; for example, self-righteousness or over-zealousness. This transit sparks a new beginning in our use of these energies, which unfolds over the next 2 years or so. The questions to ask yourself at its initiation, now, are: Will you use your energy to seek greater understanding, or to jump to conclusions? Will your courage be used to fight for justice or to blame? Will your passion and drive be used to advance a higher purpose or to inflict angry destruction in the name of judgment? The reality will probably lie somewhere in between, but awareness of which extreme you are drifting toward will allow you to make choices about whether you want to correct your course or go with the flow. 

Feb.18 � Venus sextile Mars (10:39 of Aries/Aquarius)

It is possible now to take a balanced approach to conflict, problems and projects that require effort. This can combine both a gentle touch and firm action; sensitivity and forcefulness. Negotiation and interaction with others could be aggressive and determined now, but also balanced with sensitivity and style. Any expressions of anger, frustration or discontent are more likely to be tempered with fairness, moderation and composure. You'll have to apply some effort to get these opposite energies working in sync together, but the potential and opportunity are there more-so than usual now. 

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Feb.18 � Sun enters Pisces (until Mar.20)

Happy Solar Return to all Pisces! While the Sun travels through Pisces we all have a chance to attune ourselves to our intuitive, creative, spiritual and reflective nature. This can be a time when dreams may become more important, meaningful or frequent, as the unconscious swells into consciousness. It is a time to spend quality alone time with yourself away from the noisy world, so that you can tune in to the still, small voice within. This might be done through meditation, prayer or seclusion. Although not necessary to do in seclusion, you might also connect with that inner space through music, art, dance, yoga, Tai Chi or walking a labyrinth. This is a non-rational space (not necessarily the same as irrational) that emerges from the formlessness of the unconscious full of possibilities for manifestation. Pisces holds the gateway to our source of creativity and our spiritual Source. It points the way to the Great Unknown, where all life begins. Therefore, while the Sun is in Pisces, we have a chance to meditate on our relationship to this womb of creative energy. So try your hand at writing poetry. Or, try drawing or painting, especially with your non-dominant hand. Immerse yourself in a warm bath and listen to the most beautiful music you can find. Walk through a labyrinth, or walk through a forest. Take some time to just BE. 

Feb.21 � Sun sextile Pluto (02:49 of Pisces/Capricorn)

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

Feb.21 � Mercury leaves the Shadow (until Apr.22)

Mercury finally leaves the shadow�the part of the zodiac where it went retrograde from Jan.11 to Feb.01. This means the confusion, delays and miscommunications of the last 2 months have mostly dissipated and things should be more or less back to normal (whatever that is). The difference is that you now have the benefit of seeing things from a different perspective, which gives you more choices than you had before. If you've been waiting until Mercury finished with the retrograde cycle before you made a final decision about something, this can be a good time to decide what direction you want to go. Just don't forget your common sense. 

Feb.22 � Mercury conjunct North Lunar Node (09:14 of Aquarius)

Ideas are in focus, especially when they're shared with others. It could be a time when you observe or notice something new, giving you a new perspective that you will mull over for the coming several months. Keep your eyes, mind and curiosity open � the world could be showing you something important and fascinating! 

Feb.24 � Mercury conjunct Jupiter (11:37 of Aquarius)

 This aspect can make you quite talkative and your mind flooded with ideas. Be careful you don't blurt out any secrets! Your stream of consciousness ideas can flow abundantly right now with optimism and visionary possibilities. Write down your best ideas for later development, since you may be having too much fun playing with ideas, to stop and make them manifest. Basic perceptions and simple communication can provide food for thought that feeds your greater understanding and philosophical insight. Your point of view expands to identify opportunities, possibilities and the broader implications of what is happening around you. You might get a flash of vision, insight and inspiration. You could be called upon to form an opinion, consider a different viewpoint, expand your knowledge, or make a judgment call. Your conscious awareness is open to spiritual experiences right now. 

Next Update:  NEW MOON in PISCES - February 24, 2009 (Feb.25 in UK, AU). Available by Feb.24.

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