The Low-Down on the Far-Out

New Moon in Sagittarius, December 2018

Chart for the New Moon in Sagittarius
Chart for the New Moon in Sagittarius

It can be helpful to think of humanity like a pearl necklace. Each human being is a pearl with distinct characteristics, but underneath there is a string that ties us all together, invisible to the naked eye.
~ Gudjon Bergmann

Dec.07 – NEW MOON in SAGITTARIUS (15:07 of Sagittarius)

What does it mean to be connected to something greater than yourself?

To a child, this is about Mommy and Daddy who provide life's essentials as well as boundaries that help prevent calamities.

To an adult, it may be about being part of the greater community and the world.

For someone who is religious or spiritual, it may be a connection to God or Gods, spiritual Source, or All That Is.

Someone who identifies as an atheist might look to the physical laws of the universe, or to mathematics, or factual knowledge, or perhaps to principles that help us rise above reflexive animal instinct.

Belief in something greater than ourselves comes in many different shapes, flavours and packages. And most of us tend to grow rather attached to our favorite ones.

This is especially true of the beliefs that help us make sense of the mysteries in life. Even if we still don't understand what makes it all work, we have a conviction—a belief, if you will—that something or someone is behind it all, be it God, the laws of physics or something else. It enables us to let go and allow it all to unfold in its own way, without us having to feel inadequate that our knowledge and power are not omnipotent.

The universe is not only queerer than we imagine,
but queerer than we can imagine.
~ J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964),
geneticist and evolutionary biologist

Believing in something is the domain of Sagittarius, and to a large extent, Pisces. But not everyone would say they "believe" in something. Someone who follows a particular religious path would say they believe in God or Christ or Allah or the Lord and Lady, while those who identify as simply spiritual might say they believe in a sentient Universe or All That Is or the Great Spirit.

Belief is a tricky word. We tend to see it as something that is the opposite of proof—at least the kind of proof that is likely to have universal agreement. But we usually feel that our belief system works or makes sense, which perhaps is proof enough for us even if it's not enough for others.

What we regard as proof is a little different for each of us, according to the beliefs that we hold dear. If a religious person prays for help and gets it, this may be seen as proof that prayer works, whereas someone who prefers a more rational, tangible approach is probably more receptive to consistent, predictable results.

All of us—even the most open-minded or undecided—have a bottom line which we accept as given; as real and dependable. Even if it's just in the moment, we each need to have something we will accept without question. Although a bit different for each of us, without our essential assumptions we could not function. The Sun will rise tomorrow. Gravity will bring us back down to earth. We are loved unconditionally by a Higher Presence. Whatever our assumption is, everything else that we believe rests on that bedrock.

Religious and spiritual people are usually more comfortable with the word "belief." In their view, life extends beyond the five senses. They're used to the idea that some of their experience, perception, understanding or faith might not be objectively provable.

Atheists, rationalists and scientists, however, are usually uncomfortable with the word, precisely because it implies something that exists beyond the observable physical universe. Objective proof is often their bottom line. Such a person might believe in the power of logic or physical evidence.

There is no single right way to engage and exercise our Sagittarius and Jupiter energies. No matter what Big Picture we perceive, everyone has Sagittarius somewhere in their chart. Everyone has Jupiter in their chart. Everyone has a 9th house. We all live our charts a little differently.

Different strokes for different folks, as Sly Stone says.

"Is it possible that it didn't happen?"
Yes. As a scientist, I must concede that.
"You admit that you have absolutely
no physical evidence to back up your story?"

Yes.
"You admit that you may very well
have hallucinated this whole thing?"

Yes.
"You admit that if you were in our position,
you would respond with exactly the same
degree of incredulity and skepticism?"

Yes.
"Then why don't you simply withdraw your testimony
and concede that this journey to the centre of the galaxy
in fact never took place??"

Because I can't! I had an experience. I can't prove it,
I can't even explain it, but everything that I know
as a human being, everything that I am,
tells me that it was real.
~ Contact (1997 movie, based on the novel by Carl Sagan)

What each of these belief systems have in common, though, is that they give us a window through which to understand life and the universe. We're all trying to figure out what all THIS is and what it means. And with every viewpoint on life comes a different set of possibilities about what our place in it is.

We view life starting with our base assumptions, and as we put some of the pieces together, we start to speculate what the Big Picture looks like. The problem is that we're all only looking at pieces of the whole puzzle. That blue piece with a streak of pink – is that the sky with sunset-lit clouds? Or maybe sunrise clouds? Or maybe it's a flower or a butterfly? Or an imaginary vision?

If I wish for $500 so I can pay my rent, and I win that amount in the lottery, what does that mean? Did God/dess answer my prayer? Was it because I took the risk and bought the lottery ticket? Was it a lucky coincidence? Did I consult my astrologer who suggested this as a potential solution?

It's a piece of a much bigger puzzle, and when we don't have clear answers, we tend to fill in the gaps with what we think must be there. Maybe we're right, maybe not, and maybe we will never know. All we can say is "It happened" and draw conclusions that are supported by our existing beliefs or that indicate we need to make adjustments to those beliefs.

And here's the zinger. What if there isn't simply one right answer?

What if we're all putting together a different puzzle?! Similar to each other's in many ways, to be sure, but perhaps calibrated individually according to who we are and differentiated by God's plan, or soul evolution, or cultural interpretation, or genetics, or...?

If there's any truth to this idea, that means there are as many different facets of the holistic universal prism as there are people to perceive it, and as many moments as all of us have to perceive it. This might help to explain why everyone has a slightly different concept of what we're doing here, how we should live, what makes it all run, and why.

If you stumble about believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?
~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Whatever we see as the Big Picture, the next question is: So what? Why should we care? It seems to be in our human DNA to care very passionately about these kinds of questions. So, why does it matter so much to us? Because depending how you answer those questions, it can radically change what you do with your life.

If we believe there is a Higher Deity who will reward or punish us for our actions in this life, it's a natural human instinct to want to avoid the bad stuff and aim for the good stuff. Who wouldn't? If we see the tenets of our preferred religion showing us how to secure a pleasurable place in the afterlife, we're more likely to be guided by those principles. If we believe that this is IT – that there's only this physical universe, of which we are but a speck – this may give us an acute appreciation for the preciousness of the present moment, since it's all we've got.

But these are all still beliefs. We may be 150% convinced that what we believe we know is the real deal, but when it comes right down to it, none of us knows for absolute certain. Even our personal experience can be misleading and subject to interpretation, and therefore isn't the most reliable measurement of how true or real something is. And scientific measurements may describe the universe in clear ways, but that's not the same as the subjective experience of actually living in it.

At the end of the day, all we can do is make our choices and choose our actions based on whatever we believe, in that moment, to be the true nature of the universe and our role within it.

A belief system is intended to bring hope, meaning, purpose and perspective. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, comfort and illumination during times of confusion, hopelessness and pessimism. It can provide us with a vision of possibilities that show us we don't need to stay stuck in suffering or despair or helplessness—or if we do, that there's some higher purpose that makes it worthwhile.

The problem is that beliefs are shape-shifters. What uplifts and gives hope to one person might feel like—or even be—the end of the world to someone else. And if a belief system directs its followers to eradicate other belief systems, or to do something that would inflict harm or suffering on others, then we have a problem. Each person on either side of that philosophical divide believes passionately that they are in the right and the other is wrong. And when beliefs collide, it can get ugly.

Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.
~ George Carlin

All of this philosophical meandering is to lay the groundwork for what awaits us in the chart of the New Moon in Sagittarius. This chart is very sparse in planetary aspects, but the few that are there definitely pack a wallop!

The Sun and Moon are conjunct in Sagittarius, of course (that's what a New Moon is). This begins a 4-week cycle full of visionary potential in which we can expand our possibilities and aim ourselves toward new horizons.

Sun, Moon, Jupiter square Mars, Neptune

The trigger that lights a match to the Sagittarian fireworks is Mars conjunct Neptune in Pisces. This conjunction is partile (same degree) and therefore very potent. But since we're talking about nebulous Neptune in slippery Pisces, along with impulsive, impatient Mars, the combination can product some weird and unpredictable effects.

Wrapping Mars in Neptune's aura can be a little like firing a flare gun under water. Rather than getting a brilliant arc of coloured light across the sky, you might get little more than a dull thud of splashed water. Mars' fiery intensity can become waterlogged by Neptune's inert, Watery nature. And both of them being in Neptune's sign of Watery Pisces doesn't help!

Taking action could become difficult, like trying to run through a deep swamp. Lethargy, depression, laziness and a longing to just coast on the current are possible effects. It might be hard to know what action to take, when, how or why, because Neptune's idealized vision of All That Is Possible can be a bit daunting when you're just trying to figure out what clothes to put on for the day or which shampoo to buy at the store.

It's easy to succumb to stagnation where anything you do feels like it will never measure up to your greatest potential and highest dreams. And when you try to push back by telling Neptune "It's just shampoo, for crying out loud," Neptune's voice will emanate from the starry sky above saying, "Yes, and everything is everything..." Ya okay, thanks Neptune, that's really helpful... (not!)

On the other hand, Neptune can inspire Mars to act according to its most noble motives and intentions. Neptune's ideals can rouse the Mars part of you to be guided by the most heroic, uplifting and highest sense of purpose you know. Whereas you might usually walk past a homeless person begging for money, Mars-Neptune could lead you to suddenly see them through the eyes of compassion and empathy. Or, you might be moved to start a new routine or ritual that can develop your Piscean "muscles"—artistry, music, creativity, meditation, yoga, jogging, hiking, volunteering, lucid dreaming, etc.

There are two circumstances that lead to arrogance:
one is when you're wrong and you can't face it;
the other is when you're right and nobody else can face it.
~ Criss Jami, Diotima, Battery, Electric Personality

Where the struggle comes in—and there's always a struggle, right?—is in the tight square aspect (90°) between the Sun-Moon conjunction and the Mars-Neptune conjunction. And we should bring Jupiter into this picture as well. For one thing, Jupiter is also strong in his own sign of Sagittarius, and also happens to be conjunct the Sun and Moon. Although the conjunction orb is a bit wide (8:43) and separating (was exact Nov.26), and therefore dissipating in strength, Jupiter gets special consideration here since he rules the New Moon's sign.

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Jupiter is also the traditional ruler of Pisces, and is therefore also the dispositor of the New Moon's nemeses, Mars and Neptune. So Jupiter has a lot to say in this conversation!

This combination of Jupiter, Sun and Moon in a conflicting square aspect to Mars and Neptune could be the perfect storm for passionate debate about what truth really is and whose beliefs are the best. At worst, it could descend into a battle of wills about "my God is better than your God," or "my truth is the only truth," or "I know I'm right and that means you're wrong, so I can pass judgment on you and condemn you for it."

In the midst of that kind of combat, the Big Picture can suddenly shrink from a universal magnitude down to the dimensions of our ego's wants and needs. And when a vision of Something Greater Than Ourselves—which is designed to be elevating, illuminating and growth expanding—becomes little more than a tool for the ego, we are at risk of losing the purpose of the exercise.

So, what to do? Well, start by remembering that we're all human, and no matter what your Neptune seems to say about that, it's okay to be human. When we contract the breadth of our potential, it's usually because we feel we need to defend or protect ourselves. So, start by telling yourself that it's okay to feel what you feel, but also that you don't have to act on it just yet.

Try expanding your view of what's happening by including both your own issues and the trigger that's happening outside of you. For instance, if someone is pushing your buttons, remind yourself that some of your experience is probably about them and what they're doing, but part of that is also how you're reacting. Look within to see what you're bringing to the conflict, and see what you can do to get a handle on your own stuff. If you're overwhelmed or upset, take care of yourself first. Then look beyond yourself to see what's left in the situation that belongs to the other person.

Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided
if people would simply take the time to ask,
"What else could this mean?"
~ Shannon L. Alder

There is no Air in this chart – no standard planets in Air signs. The dominant elemental energies are Fire and Water, while the strongest modality is Mutable. This could swing the already passionate energy into an emotionally intense or impulsively explosive direction. Stabilizing your reactions in situations that push your buttons might be a challenge, with all that Mutable influence shifting the movement of that energy.

The last word goes to Mercury who is stationary-Direct (YAY!!!), having officially turned the corner just 10 hours before the New Moon is exact. Mercury sneaked back into Scorpio on Dec.01 when he thought we weren't watching and will be reborn into Sagittarius on Dec.12. For the approximately 2 weeks in between, Mercury is in his Psychopomp role, ushering our thoughts down into the depths of the unconscious. There, Mercury shines a light of awareness into the hidden nooks and crannies of our thoughts.

Stationary Mercury trine Stationary Chiron

Mercury is in a Water sign (Scorpio) which could just increase the intuitive, emotional and fluid nature of our thoughts and mood. On the other hand, Scorpio's modality is Fixed, which could help to stabilize the elastic quality of those feelings by bringing some containment to excessive intensity. The risk is in becoming stuck in your feelings that you can't move through the process to get to the other side. So, it's important to check in with your thoughts, feelings, impressions and self-expression to see if you might be dwelling a bit too much on those intense reactions and thoughts.

Mercury is also exactly trine Chiron (120°), who is also stationary and about to go Direct (Dec.09). Mercury seems to want to hang out with other stationary planets during this retrograde cycle. When Mercury went retrograde (Nov.16) he was exactly square Neptune which turned Direct about a week later. Now he's making the Direct turn in tandem with stationary Chiron. This has added a lot of extra intensity to Mercury's stations as well as the entire retrograde-and-shadow cycle (Oct.28 to Dec.24).

We are all different. Don’t judge, understand instead.
~ Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

There's a lot of potential in this lunar cycle for inspiration and visionary revelation. The challenge is to avoid getting caught in brain-scrambling debate, disagreement and cynicism. Aim to question your assumptions without getting stuck in self-doubt. Reach out to discover your highest potential, more than trying to impose your vision of what someone else's potential should be. Teach in order to provide food for thought, without insisting that the "student" must follow your own path. Help others through compassion and love to believe in themselves, and while you're at it, do the same for yourself.

December hosts many religious and spiritual celebrations, largely due to the Capricorn Solstice. There is a wonderful opportunity to become aware of and learn about other belief systems and traditions from your own. Sagittarius is all about exploring, so—go explore! And I wish you all very Happy Holidays!

I had an experience... I can't prove it, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever. A vision of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we are NOT—that none of us are alone! I wish I could share that. I wish, that everyone, if only for one moment, could feel that awe, and humility, and hope. But... That continues to be my wish.
~ Contact (1997 movie, based on the novel by Carl Sagan)

Dec.06 – Mercury Stationary Direct (27:16 of Scorpio; Direct until Mar.05.2019)  (Dec.07 in AU)  ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Mercury Retrograde.  Read more about Retrograde planets.)

(Repeated from last update.) Mercury finally turns direct! Yippeeee!!!! ;-) But we're not out of the woods just yet. For up to a week before and after today, you may experience mental intensity, confusion, and miscommunications or simply changes in your outlook. After being Retrograde for the last 3 to 3½ weeks, Mercury is now taking a slow turn to resume Direct motion. This period has 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.

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Over the next couple of weeks, while Mercury is still in 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.

Mercury stations while being trine to Chiron (120°). In addition, Chiron stations direct just 3 days after Mercury. As a result, the Mercury-Chiron trine lasts an unusually long time – roughly from Nov.28 to Dec.16. This greatly amplifies the effects of these planetary stations, as well as the trine aspect between them. The result is that for these 2½ weeks can be a great time to focus on making changes to the health of your mental attitudes and physical well-being.

For example, you may be more receptive to the warmth of peace and goodwill of the December holidays than usual. You might experience increased tolerance for disappointment – it might not be the end of the world if life isn't perfect, since it's likely to be easier to find that silver lining and enough positive perspective to get you through the stressful times. On the other hand, if you tend to have a "Bah Humbug" view of the holidays, you could be more susceptible than usual to the irritation that goes with that. Whether you have positive or negative experiences, it's important (and possibly easier) to find ways to take care of yourself so that you don't get overwhelmed.

Here are the key dates of this Mercury cycle (for North American Eastern Time):

Dec.07 – Mars conjunct Neptune (13:44 of Pisces)  (Dec.08 in AU)

This can be a strange time of lethargic confusion or uplifting inspiration or both! On one hand, you might feel very motivated by creative and spiritual inspiration, as new possibilities seem to appear magically in your imagination. On the other hand, you may feel a bit like you've lost your "edge," where your focused energy feels blunted or blurred. Direct action may not be possible, easy or effective, and as a result it could be easy to lapse into feeling a bit powerless, lethargic or discouraged. You may have to act on faith instead of fact; and whether this is a "good" or "bad" experience will largely depend on how comfortable you are with ambiguity. This transit initiates a new cycle of working with these themes that lasts about 2 years. The events and issues that come up now likely have more to them than you see on the surface, and the deeper levels will unfold and develop throughout the coming cycle.

Mars and Neptune are also parallel and reach exact less than 3 hours before the conjunction. This considerably amplifies the effects of their conjunction! So, you may find the strength of your motivations and impulses have more gravity than you would expect. There is great potential for action that inspires (or is inspired by) creativity or idealistic principles, on the plus side, or by deception or wishful thinking on the other. It can be good to give yourself over to the flow of your intuition and inspiration, but you still need to keep your wits about you and think objectively to determine if you're chasing after a worthy cause or an illusion.

Dec.07 – Mercury trine North Lunar Node (27:19 of Scorpio/Cancer)  (Dec.08 in AU)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

Today, and up to a couple of days before and after, things can feel like they're starting to make sense. What you read, hear and observe may seem more obvious and your ability to put this into words could flow more easily. You might identify and figure out how to utilize the tools, skills, assets and ideas that could bring you further down the road toward whatever destination you're pointed toward. However, a reality check about how wise it might be to act on these ideas and benefits is still a good idea. Write down good ideas to follow up with later.

Dec.09 – Chiron Stationary Direct (27:53 of Pisces; Direct until Jul.08.2019)  (Dec.08 in HAST, AKST, PST)  ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Retrograde planets.)

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

Chiron is trine Mercury when Chiron turns direct. This aspect is in effect for 2½ weeks. See Dec.06 for more about this.

Dec.09 – Mercury Direct trine Chiron (27:53 of Scorpio/Pisces)

Your mental focus and communication now get an injection of healing energy. Cynicism and depression may soften now, as you become more receptive to a more optimistic viewpoint. If you have been caught up in escapism or "stinkin' thinkin'" (thinking you're more in control of your impulses than you really are), you may now find some relief and healing. Mental argument and critical "self-talk" can now find some reconciliation and acceptance that brings some peace of mind. You have increased ability to find the right words and understanding to help others with their problems. Compassion and empathy may be more accessible because you can identify your own experiences with what you see in others. You might also find someone who can give you good advice or support about your own problems – possibly a teacher or mentor – or you could become this to someone else.

Both Mercury and (especially) Chiron are stationary during this transit. See Dec.06 for more about this.

Dec.12 – Mercury Direct enters Sagittarius (until Jan.06.2019)  (Dec.13 in AU)

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

Dec.15 – Mercury-Sun Greatest Elongation as Morning Star (23:50 of Sagittarius)   ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mercury Retrograde.)

Mercury reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun today, meaning it's as far away from the Sun as it's going to get (from Earth's perspective). Mercury is the Morning Star, meaning it is visible in the Eastern sky just before sunrise, which occurs after Mercury has turned Direct and a few days before it leaves the Retrograde Shadow.

Thoughts, awareness and decision-making tend to be clearer, and your path ahead may be easier to see. It can be a good time to reflect on the information and awareness you've gathered in the last couple of months and finalize plans for how best to act on these. If you were feeling confused or frustrated during the retrograde period, things can make more sense now. Let this be a time of fresh perspective and awareness.

Here are the key dates of this Mercury cycle (for North American Eastern Time):

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Dec.16 – Venus Direct sextile Saturn (09:34 of Scorpio/Capricorn)  (Dec.17 in AU)

It is possible to find some stability in your relationships and finances under this transit, especially if you are willing to negotiate fairly and realistically. You have increased ability to be disciplined about spending and budgeting, and to invest in hard work to maximise your earnings. Your ability to grasp the solid, realistic facts will help you choose wisely in your investments of both money and your interaction with others. Commitment and structure may be easier to approach and achieve than if you take risks now. Your self-worth can benefit from this transit because you may be less inclined to give in to mood swings. On the other hand, if you are prone to depression, you might want to be careful you don't become so grounded and stable that you lose touch with your sense of hope and potential. It is a good time to make concrete progress in matters involving beauty, love, harmony and balance. Keep your pleasures simple and humble for maximum benefit.

Dec.17 – Mars sextile Pluto (20:06 of Pisces/Capricorn)  (Dec.16 in HST, AKST, PST, MST)

This can be a time of intense and powerful energy. It can be especially so if you focus your intention to tap into and use this energy deliberately, although if you are triggered into a reaction you might find it is more forceful than you intended. This can be a good time to make changes that have far-reaching, transformative effects. Your powers of persuasion can be stronger now, so be careful you don't try to force things to the point of making something happen that perhaps should be left alone or treated with a gentler touch. Sex and other passionate urges may rise more easily now, although obsession and the need to control your surroundings might come up with them. This transit is perhaps best used to refresh your sense of passion and transform your sense of purpose and direction.

Dec.17 – Venus leaves the Shadow (10:50 of Scorpio; Next shadow begins Apr.10.2020)  (Dec.18 in UK, AU)   ("What is the Shadow?"  Read more about Venus Retrograde.  Read more about the Shadow.)

Venus finally finishes her retrograde cycle by leaving the Shadow – the area of the zodiac where she was retrograde up until 4-5 weeks ago. Before that, Venus was retrograde for about 6 weeks, after spending 4-5 weeks in the pre-retrograde Shadow. The whole cycle lasts for about 3.5 months, and we are now at the end of this current cycle.

Look back on these time ranges and see if you can identify a pattern in your life. The pre-retrograde Shadow phase may have seen the development of issues, problems, challenges or changes in your desires and appetites in the areas of relationships, finances, resources or the need for balance. During the retrograde phase, you may have reconsidered and re-evaluated these areas, identified something you wanted to change, or perhaps allowed yourself to express feelings or desires that you normally keep locked away. You might have experienced either an increase or decrease in sex drive, desires, finances, social connection or romance during the retrograde phase and to some extent during the entire cycle.

The post-retrograde phase (which ends now) is the time when you make changes or choices based on what has emerged during the other two phases. Anything that increased and filled up the foreground of your attention may now recede into the background again, and things that seemed to hibernate or disappear may have begun to resume. We will not see the Venus Retrograde Shadow again for another 15-16 months.

Here are the key dates of this Venus cycle (for North American Eastern Time):

Dec.19 – Sun square Chiron (27:56 of Sagittarius/Pisces)  (Dec.20 in AU)

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

Dec.20 – Sun trine Uranus (28:43 of Sagittarius/Aries)  (Dec.21 in AU)

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

Dec.21 – Venus trine Neptune (13:53 of Scorpio/Pisces)  (Dec.22 in AU)

This can be a time of romance, creativity, and a sense of oneness with the natural beauty of all that exists in the world. On a social or intimate level, things may run smoothly – even a bit magically! So be sure you are clear about what you really want. In terms of finances and material worth, this can be a time of blessings and abundance that could seem to appear out of nowhere. But be careful – it can also be a time of overspending and wondering where the money went! Your natural beauty and warmth shines through now, so it is a good time to peek out from behind any façade of glamour or illusion you might be cloaked in. You are likely to see the very best in others (and they in you), so that negotiation, interaction and attraction can seem to flow effortlessly. This magical attraction energy could also open you up to seeing wonderful qualities in others that may or may not actually be there, so do a reality check with a trusted friend before you make any important choices.

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Dec.21 – Mercury Direct conjunct Jupiter (09:34 of Sagittarius)

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 judgement call. Your conscious awareness is open to spiritual experiences right now.

Dec.21 – Sun enters Capricorn (until Jan.20.2019)

SOLSTICE DATES

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Dec.21, 2017, 12:48 PM EST

London, UK:

Dec.21, 2017, 5:48 PM GMT

Sydney, AU:

Dec.22, 2017, 4:48 AM AEDT

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

Next Update:  FULL MOON in CANCER. Available by December 22, 2018.

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© 2018 Wendy Guy. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or used without the author's written permission. Astrology diagrams © Wendy Guy unless otherwise noted. OTHER CREDITS: Most or all of the quotes on this page were found at GoodReads.com.  Artwork Centaur Cacus Threatens Vanni Fucci, by William Blake, via WikiCommons. Image of old merchant ship by Elena Duvernay, via 123rf.com.


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