Reprinted with permission from Mooncircles.

"I feel like I'm living through a hurricane," was the message left on my answering machine. It was not a call from someone in the Gulf states. When Katrina tore through New Orleans, when the pre-Rita exodus snarled Texas highways out of town, I heard from many people whose lives had been overwhelmed by a devastating event. An honor student was killed by a drunk driver, a marriage of seventeen years was washed up, a mother learned her son was dealing drugs at school. When large-scale tragedies occur, we all partake, not only with our sympathy and shared grief, but the same energy rippling through the event, ripples through us all. Like we're all on one great table and a giant hand yanks the tablecloth out from under our collective feet. Some of us will land. Some of us will wobble. Some of us will shatter. But we'll all feel it.

Although planets don't cause disasters, they do picture what we're going through. Uranus, planet of sudden and shocking events, is currently in Pisces, the sign of storms, sea, gas and oil. Astrologers have predicted this period-from 2003 to 2011-will bring accelerated natural disasters and crises in oil and natural gas, which is good reason to keep emergency kits well stocked, and investigate alternative energy sources. But it still begs the question, why now? Uranus will be in Pisces for another six years. Why do we feel so wobbly at this moment? That's what New Moon charts are for, carrying the sky-written message of what's important now. Three factors distinguish this month's chart. There's a solar eclipse. Mars has just gone retrograde. And four planets are aligned in a "Finger of God" aspect. For those who know little astrology, these terms might sound like I'm speaking Chinese. But without making the astrology too complex, let's try to decode their message.

Eclipses often bring dramatic or sudden turns of events; their impact can be felt weeks in advance. They can bring hidden problems to the surface, open or shut doors, accelerate change. Generally they suggest turbulent times that require we grow. But eclipses happen regularly, twice a year, in fact; and some years they're not so turbulent. To understand the different character of eclipses, astrologers have grouped them into families. This month's solar eclipse comes from a family with a strong Mars/Pluto gene. That means it's particularly potent. Says eclipse expert Bernadette Brady, this eclipse holds an "immense power, anger and force" that can suddenly clear huge obstacles or manifest as a rapidly moving crisis. An example of the first is the under-reported story of an American hostage held blindfolded and bound in a tiny underground cell in Iraq for ten months. The door to his cell was sealed with concrete. Yet incredibly, he was found, the cement door was cut through, and he was rescued. An example of a rapidly moving crisis is, of course, a hurricane. We got two in rapid succession. Whether positive or negative, with this eclipse, says Brady, "everything is moving at great speed."*

Mars represents our warrior nature.

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  • And yet, Mars going retrograde means that things will also be slowing down. A planet is called "retrograde" when, due to earth's relative position and speed, it appears like it's moving backward. Mars does this once every two and a half years. It turned retrograde October 1 and will go direct on December 9, but its astrological influence began in August and will continue through February 2006. That means we've already been feeling it, and will continue to feel it for some time. Mars represents our warrior nature. It's our ability to go after our desires, to get things done. When it retrogrades, we can feel like we've lost our sword and shield. Or like we're running through molasses-dramatized by the disastrously slow relief efforts for Katrina and the stalled traffic and out-of-gas cars in the pre-Rita evacuation. If we try to hurry through this period, we will be stopped-or frustrated at the least. If we push, something or someone may push us back. A more positive use of the time would be to slow down and go over what we've done. Mars asks that we take a deep long look at how we've been approaching important matters.