For the first time in recent memory, hardly anyone seems to be ready or psyched for the Holidays. I hear people saying, "Can't we take this year off"? What is going on? Will the malaise of the moment and this feeling of overwhelm be carried forward as the theme throughout 2006?

As the saying goes, "the darkest hour is just before dawn" and no doubt, the year before us perfectly illustrates that sentiment.

So will 2006 be all sunshine and roses? Hardly. But the conflicts will be colorful, and with the intense hilarity and richness of Jupiter in Scorpio in hard aspect to Saturn in Leo through much of the year, the tension could be downright entertaining. That is, if the climate of heightened religious fervor doesn't intoxicate us all. Most of all, the frustration that many people are experiencing at the moment will yield joyful experiences, revelations, epiphanies, and reasons to celebrate before the year is through.

But in the meantime...

Winter Solstice 2005:

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurred on Dec. 21, 2005 at 1:36 PM EST; in Washington D.C., the chart set for that time has the warrior planet Mars, in `don't budge me' Taurus rising as part of a fixed grand cross. That relentless grand cross configuration has been in place for over a month now and will continue to be a major influence through the beginning of February at least, with many of us feeling as if we are on the cross.

The Grand Cross is the symbol of Christianity. Its meaning is quite simple: On Earth we all have our `cross to bear', and we often find ourselves dealing with next-to-impossible circumstances. The only way for that cross to work for us is to be centered in our heart.

Astrologer Madalyn Hillis-Dineen, chair of the National Council for Geocosmic Research explains: "The year opens with a grand cross in the fixed signs and that pattern repeats itself at various points during the year. Let's look at this `difficult' pattern and try to see the `divine' in it. Christians believe that Christ died on the cross for the salvation of humanity. Isn't the purpose of pain and suffering - those grand crosses of life - for our ultimate salvation, so that we can break free of our own mortality and live in spirit?"

Whether one is Christian or not, understanding the symbolism is of value. We all share space on Earth and we are all under the same heavens.

Venus and Pluto:

Also of importance this season: the planet Venus is about to go retrograde (the apparent backward motion of a planet). Venus is now stationing (standing still) at 0º Aquarius conjunct Chiron (the asteroid associated with wounding) on Dec. 23, prompting us to face our `collective hurt' so that a healing can occur--but how? We may become aware of the source of our pain and how our actions impact others so that peaceful coexistence can become a reality rather than a wistful colloquialism on a Christmas card.

The Venus retrograde, which lasts through Feb 3, takes place in the sober sign of Capricorn, (with Venus going forward in Capricorn through March 5). Old relationships may reappear during this transit, perhaps to be forgiven for past indiscretions or possibly for a more serious and commitment-oriented `round two.' Proceed with caution and take to heart the wisdom of Sophie Tucker's song, "Never Let the Same Dog Bite You Twice."

Will there be more natural disasters in 2006? Read more >>

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  • In 2006, Pluto will pierce the Galactic Center (26½º of Sagittarius) for the first time since the late 1750's. Pluto penetrates and transforms everything in its wake, and since it will be transiting the very heart of our galaxy for the first time in the modern era, all bets are off. Will that manifest as a cosmic universal `open heart surgery?' Will there be some sort of `galactic chiropractic' beyond the tsunami, the Pakistani earthquake, or Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma that shook us to our core in the last 12 months? Or will Pluto pull the plug and challenge our very sense of safety in order to grab our attention long enough so that we begin to straighten up and fly right?