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."
Pluto's power is consummate, and how he will act out is hard to gauge. One thing is certain: Pluto purges what is no longer needed.
And as far as the weather goes, astrometeorologist Carolyn Egan offers: "The winter weather during this period will bring fluctuations in temperature, producing both snow and rain, with much flooding. The northwest is more stormy than usual with above normal precipitation. That weather moves across the nation, and the Rockies will have record-setting snowfall. The mid-section of the country alternates with snow and rain with the changing temperatures. In the Northeast, it is possible to have a warmer than average season. Hurricanes this year will have the unfortunate alignment of Saturn opposing Neptune during peak season in early September, where severe flooding and exceptional winds occupy the charts during August and September."
Astrologer Emily Baumbach, who specializes in the Michael Teachings, has this to say: "With Pluto squaring the Nodes for much of the year, it's bound to be an intense time. I expect that the reevaluation/hibernation energy will last to some degree through most of 2006, with a sub-theme of the Goal of Discrimination (manifesting as pickiness, and wanting precision) starting to show up when Venus goes retrograde Dec. 24. We also have caution mode (carefulness, deliberation, slowness); pragmatist energy (wanting efficiency, working hard) sliding to realist (wanting the truth) and cynic (Jupiter in Scorpio's sarcasm); and a `chief feature' (what we'll struggle with most) of impatience.
This will be a year with lots of earth movements, changing addresses, athletics, sports, exercise, generally everybody moving around all the time; with a focus on the shadow--pornography, dark sexuality, crime, murder, capital punishment, prisons--but also transcendence of the personal ego. I hope 2007 will be easier for everybody."
The United States and the charts of Bush and Cheney
The charts of the United States, President Bush, and Vice-President Cheney are of particular interest at this time. In the U.S. chart, progressed Mars will turn retrograde in late July 2006, making it very difficult for war and any form of aggression to work in our favor. The Mars retrograde by progression is unprecedented in our nation's chart--and it will last for more than 70 years. How we conduct and assert our `energy'--militarily and otherwise--as the lead nation in the world is about to change. Retrograde planets have us turning inward, and a retrograde Mars will probably manifest as our becoming more thoughtful, conscious, refined, and civil in our behavior.
Astrologers are speculating about the extreme nature of that progression: With Saturn opposite his Sun and squaring his Taurus planets, the questions are: Will his health hold up? Will he have to answer uncomfortable questions about Scooter Libby? May he even `ascend to the throne'?
The seasonal charts (horoscopes cast for spring equinox, summer solstice, fall equinox, and next winter solstice) are especially interesting. Three out of four of those charts cast for Washington, D.C., have Saturn in Leo Rising, suggesting a leadership that is under the gun, fiercely struggling to maintain its sovereignty and authority.
How's Your Health?
Many of the new moons and full moons throughout the year have either Virgo or Pisces rising, implying that both labor issues and health care issues will be on the front burner. This is especially driven home when the lunar nodes change from the Aries/Libra axis to the Pisces/Virgo axis in June. The Solar eclipse chart in Washington, D.C., on September 22 at 29º Virgo (a degree of crisis) invokes a troubling image regarding overcrowded, understaffed and underfunded hospitals and even prisons. A demand for health care as well as hospital and prison reform are likely to follow. But the Chinese ideogram for `crisis' is comprised of the words `danger and opportunity' and a world of good can be born of these times.
Astrologer and Yoga instructor Mark Wolz said, "This is a year where dharma, or 'calling,' for each of us is within reach. How surely we make that connection is a matter of aligning clear intent with our will. As we move into 2006, a look at the fixed-sign grand cross featuring Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune tells me it will be a year in which people either connect the dots necessary to put their beliefs into action and manifest their highest vision, or else miss the connection and see little result by clinging to long-lost hopes and outdated ideals."
And Madalyn Hillis-Dineen echoes the theme of releasing the past: "While the energies this year may be difficult, we may be presented with a choice that allows us to break free of the bondage of negativity and fear. Will we let go of our patterns and see the opportunity to move forward to a new form of being, or will we remain stuck in our old familiar but worn-out habits? If we choose to act differently, to live in love and not in fear, then we will be able to know real freedom."
As for me, I'm excited about the incongruity in the heavens. The strange planetary combinations and wild intensity make for so much creative potential. There is much to work with and for that I am grateful. May you find many reasons to live with a grateful heart too.