Whether you're a spiritual single or a Desperate Housewife, the planetary activity on Feb. 14 suggests that this Valentine's Day, many of us who are playing the field may find ourselves playing for keeps.

Even longtime 'plastic paramours' Barbie and Ken are about to resume their relationship, though love may not be the reason why: According to last week's story, the reconciliation is not so much about the couple's devotion to one another as it is about the economics of it all. "Mattel is hoping Ken's return to retail stores can also revitalize the company's overall fortunes," according to the article. Without Ken, "Sagging Barbie sales = sagging profits." But Ken has used the time away from Barbie wisely: "Ken has revamped his life--mind, body and soul," says Hollywood stylist and Mattel consultant Phillip Bloch.

This amusing toy story captures the earthy and practical theme encoded in the heavens of Valentine's Day 2006 and describes the paces that many of us are primed to put ourselves through in order to attract a reliable partner, secure a commitment from the object of our affection, or strengthen the romantic bonds of an existing liaison.

But are "reliable" and "practical" the sweet seductive words that our Valentine's dreams are made of? Not usually. And shouldn't Valentine's Day be less about the boardroom and more about the bedroom? Well, sure. But with the Moon in Virgo, Venus in Capricorn, and Saturn in Leo this Feb. 14--stability is sexy.

Lovers the world over are ready to make some long-term plans, get a mortgage and hire a decorator while others are summoning up the guts to call it quits for a relationship that's not working- in order to make room for something that will.

Since early December, Venus, the planet of love, has been in traditional Capricorn, the Saturn-ruled business-like sign known for worldly ambition. Just having finished a retrograde period (on Feb. 3), Venus is taking her time resuming her usual pace. She seems to be thinking things over and is atypically moving slower than Mars--who is briskly on his way out of earthy Taurus (where he's been since July 28. 2005).

Mars is just three days away from entering glib and airy Gemini, and we can feel him chomping at the bit. But for the moment, he is smack on the Pleiades (29º Taurus), the constellation of the seven weeping sisters, and is that much more likely to be sensitive, romantic, empathetic and even receptive to what Venus has her mind.

So this is quite the picture: Saturn in formal Leo; Mars, edgy and over-sensitive at the end of steady Taurus; and Venus in calculating Capricorn aided by the helpful sextile to Jupiter in Scorpio. Mercury and Uranus are conjoined in poetic Pisces, so the words will flow.

The question is: how can this poignant planetary moment be seized upon by each of us to enhance and build on the love we have or to get that much closer to manifesting the love we desire?

Valentine's Day takes place not during astrological Leo, the sign of romance and love affairs, but on Feb. 14, when the Sun is opposite Leo--in the freedom-loving highly individualistic sign of Aquarius. How interesting, because it implies that perhaps love flourishes when all parties are free to be themselves. Yet Venus, the planet of beauty and attraction so celebrated on Valentine's Day, is all about cooperation, culture and connection: to our environment, our community, and to each other.

In her book, Making The Gods Work for You, author Caroline Casey reminds us that "relationships are not necessarily for mere ego happiness; their function is to contribute something necessary to the evolution of the universe. Good relationships are good for the world, and are an arena in which antagonisms are worked out." She then quotes poet Mathew Arnold: "To be cultured is to be acquainted with the highest possibilities of the human spirit throughout time."

The current sextile between Venus in earthy Capricorn and Jupiter in watery Scorpio is extremely fertile, both literally and figuratively. The growth potential for all of us is endless. And while both signs are concerned with what it takes to sustain a relationship in style and comfort, that concern does not preclude the romance of it all. Quite the contrary. This Valentine's Day may be one of the best we've had in a while. Yes, love is in the air all right: and it's in the water and in the earth. Be real and open to the possibilities.

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