Astrology News

December 2011 Newsletter

The year is coming to a close. I love this time of year, as it affords the opportunity to look back on a mini segment of life and reflect on the choices I've made, the experiences I've had and the things I've learned. It's also a time when I take that information and use it to formulate a revised game plan for the next cycle. And every year at this time I join a group of friends on the Winter Solstice, and we share those intentions, stating them out loud, solidifying the energy firmly within ourselves and with others as witness. If you've never experienced a Winter Solstice ceremony, why not make one up yourself this year, even if you do the solitary version. Light a candle, make a list, and speak your heart. Begin to let 2011 fade into memory and prepare to bring in the next year with even more wisdom, love, and wonder than you've ever had before.

If you've been to one of Steven's AP programs this year, you may have experienced his latest work: Dreaming the Volcano, in which he prepares us for using the Uranus+Pluto square and Neptune's entry into Pisces in our charts, and those of our friends, clients and loved ones. As many of you know, Uranus and Pluto haven't even yet hit the exact square, and yet 2011 has been a pretty colorful year, ripe with the tension between those two archetypal forces. Steven's work on the subject provides a clear way to work with these energies in a grounded and real way without succumbing to the temptation to go into fear-based projection. I for one have spent far too many hours fretting over various doom-and-gloom predictions found on the internet. No matter what happens over the next three years, we'll be at our best if we are grounded and heart-centered. And Steven's work helps us get there.

On a lighter note, at year end I also love all of the "Best Of" music and movie lists that come out because they help me catch up on great creative works I might have missed. Feel free to email me yours!

Warm wishes,

Tony Howard

Your Mercury Retrograde Report Card

Steven ForrestMercury will being making a Station - standing still in the sky - about the time these words appear. It has been going backwards - Retrograde - since November 24th. It will continue in Direct - forward - motion through the zodiac until March 12, 2012, when it will turn Retrograde again for another three weeks or so, until April 4, 2012.

Many of us know about Mercury Retrograde. It is a piece of technical astrology that has entered the popular culture. Astrologers tend to view it as High Jinx - simply an unlucky time for doing “Mercury things,” such as buying electronic equipment, signing contracts, initiating significant communications, traveling. At a simple level, there is objective truth in this attitude. For example, I pulled an article off Yahoo! a while back that did not startle me very much, having watched this phenomenon for many years. “According to figures from the Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the percentage of late flights into and out of La Guardia Airport during the past three summers rose to 24.6 during Retrograde periods from 22.8 during non-Retrograde periods. What's more, during the past three years, claims of mishandled domestic baggage rose to 5.44 per 1,000 passengers during months when Mercury spent more than half the time in Retrograde from 5.38 per 1,000 in months when the planet was not in Retrograde. That works out to one extra lost bag per 15,000 passengers.” Those are not hugely impressive numbers, but they are objective enough to help us believe that Mercury Retrograde’s effects are quite real.

Still, to think of Mercury Retrograde as simply “bad” is a very simpleminded kind of astrology. It is indeed bad for certain things - and quite excellent for others. When a planet is Retrograde it is going back into earlier degrees of the zodiac. It is returning to ground it has already covered, in other words. And it is encouraging us to do exactly the same thing, “on earth, as it is heaven,” so to speak.

So maybe you have written a letter telling a friend that you “will not be coming to the wedding.” But when you go back and re-read it, you realize that you left the word “not” out of the sentence! It is often as simple - and as catastrophic - as that. When Mercury is Retrograde, read that “fine print” a second time! Anyone who writes knows that one can proofread and proofread - and still miss basic errors. The moral: if you can possibly avoid sending that letter until Mercury is Direct, you should consider doing that.

These are just practical concerns. There are deeper matters. Errors can creep into our plans and our thinking that are not simple oversights. Sometimes we just haven’t thought deeply enough about a subject. You are tempted to buy that expensive car - but do you really need it? What does it symbolize to you? The car may be fine. But the problem is that it is not “your car.” If Mercury Retrograde slows you down and helps you reflect a bit before you commit, you will be happier in the long run.

Thoughts run through our heads all the time. That stream of consciousness is how we create and experience our world. Mercury’s retrograde periods give us a chance to weed out our thoughts, to go back over our assumptions, to filter out mistakes and rationalizations. If we use it that way, it can be a precious, productive period.

As I mentioned earlier, Mercury goes Direct on December 13 and will not be Retrograde again until March 12, 2012. You might wonder why I am writing about it now when Mercury is not Retrograde anymore. There is a reason: we are all about to get our report cards on how well we did with this Mercury Retrograde period from which we are now emerging.

Mercury entered Sagittarius on November 2. Sagittarius correlates with your basic beliefs. That means your philosophy of life, but also your fundamental explanation of “what is going on” in your life. You have been invited, since Mercury turned Retrograde on November 24th, to reflect upon errors and bad assumptions in your understanding. No one likes to do this - and Sagittarius is linked to the universal human desire to be “right!” Yet you have been afforded a chance to reflect on your mistaken attitudes and to weed out beliefs that will make a monkey of you if refuse to see them.

On December 13, Mercury goes Direct. You will be plunging ahead, unfettered. Wisely? Stupidly? Thinking you are bullet-proof? Believing you are right about everything? Setting yourself up to say “oops” in a few weeks? Or will you have have used this Retrograde Sagittarian Mercury period to sort out facts and truth from errors and comforting lies? Were you patient, humble, and reflective - or did you light the fuse on a firecracker in your back pocket?

From January 8 through 27, Mercury is passing through Capricorn, a sign that is linked to commitments and “getting real.” This is the “grown-up world,” and it will up the ante. Will you actually buy that sports car that will only make you miserable - and your chiropractor happy? Or will you harvest the sweet fruits of patience and reflection.

To use Mercury Retrograde periods to sort ourselves out is the aim. Exactly what we are sorting out we can deduce from knowing the sign in which Mercury is moving. (If you are a technical astrologer, it helps to know the House through which Mercury is passing, and the aspects it is making too). In this case, the sign was Sagittarius, so the errors were tied into our beliefs.

Next Retrograde period. Mercury will make its Station in Aries on March 12, 2012, but then Retrograde back into Pisces on March 23rd, turning Direct there on April 4th. You may, for example, be given a chance to reflect on the right (or wrong) balance between aggression (Aries) and surrender (Pisces). And by fighting that war in your head, you may avoid fighting it in the world.


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