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Considering the Year Ahead

For the week of January 5-11, 2011.

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This new year is best understood as a period of transition between two phases of intense upheaval. While 2011 does offer the potential of profound transformation, its unifying thread is the need to synthesize what's already shifted in anticipation of what lies ahead. I realize that sounds ominous. But from an astrological perspective, when you compare 2011 to what we've just been through, or compare it to what we are about to experience in 2012 through 2015, it's going to be a relatively calm year.

Of course, 2011 won't go off entirely without a hitch. On January 22, Jupiter enters Aries; on March 11, Uranus follows suit. But unlike their combined entry into Aries last summer, Saturn is out of the picture and its absence lightens the load. Neptune moves into Pisces on April 4 (more about that as we get closer to its shift date). And only the usual suspects have retrograde phases during 2011; neither Mars nor Venus is retrograde until 2012. But don't let this seeming lack of astral intensity lull you into a false sense of "normal" — whatever that is. By June, there are hints of things to come, as a Uranus/Pluto square starts to throw its weight around. All Uranus/Pluto contacts signal deep, revolutionary processes of transformation. Squares indicate friction, and as these two agents of change push against each other, we will continue to push against stagnation, personal as well as collective. That square will be exact seven times between 2012-2015, and each contact will increase the intensity, both personal and collective.

The last two years of Saturn/Uranus oppositions shifted cultural, political, economic, and emotional poles so dramatically that it's no wonder the Armageddonists are convinced the end is at hand. But it isn't at hand. It's here. It's just not the end the alarmists are banking on. It is the end of life as we know it, just as the invention of the printing press, radio, telephone, television, airplane, and Internet ended life as it was previously known.

Only now we need no longer need mechanical inventions. We need innovative ways to better understand ourselves. What does it mean to be a human being? Who are we? How is it that we are capable of so much cruelty as well as so much creativity? How are we going to handle our power? We have so much technology available to us to enhance our physical existence, but technology has no soul. And we need soul to move forward with wisdom.

Recently, I became aware of faith clubs, where people of different religions join together to learn about each other's beliefs. It seems that as participants get to know each other, stereotypes fade and reason replaces prejudice. Why not have political study groups where Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, and Communists try to do the same thing? (From a purely selfish perspective this would accelerate my learning-to-love-Republicans issue.) If we follow the faith club model, these gatherings could diffuse so much of the sloganeering and sound-bite slang that has replaced thoughtful conversation and mutual respect.

Small groups of thoughtful people devoted to understanding our differences and identifying our similarities have the potential to accelerate soul growth in much the same way that microchips have transformed technology. When local shift reaches critical mass, global shift soon follows. Every lasting idea for social justice started with an individual or a group of individuals determined to turn idealism into action. Hearts united in compassion have always had the power to change the world.

If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that, too.

ARIES Stay in present time and simply continue to do what needs to be done. Just be aware: Staying present and being responsible doesn't mean you can't relax and have fun.

TAURUS It looks like a difference in attitude, and it acts like a career crisis, but in reality the intensity is pent-up frustration about how to satisfy your need for safety and security.

GEMINI Anticipate work-related surprises, but also expect much of what happens to be favorable. I'm not suggesting every wish will be granted. I'm simply advising you to be optimistic.

CANCER Try not to let conflict over financial issues affect interactions with significant others. Yes, you need to restructure, but those modifications have to benefit both parties.

LEO Moderation continues to be your greatest ally. Take your time, try not to take on more than you can handle, and do your best to simply stay in the moment.

VIRGO Stimulating conversations with partners, personal and professional, could catalyze a surprisingly fresh and creative approach to managing your finances.

LIBRA No matter what you call it, the challenge you're facing is still about relating. So rather than frame it as a "relationship issue," try to understand it as a repetitive pattern in need of conscious change.

SCORPIO Compulsively chewing on the same information won't help you to find an answer that satisfies. Instead of trying to control the process, try learning to trust it.

SAGITTARIUS If you allow yourself to receive, you could be pleasantly surprised by friends and family who are determined to make a positive contribution to your well-being.

CAPRICORN The routines of daily life are changing, and while at first these shifts might feel disruptive or disturbing, ultimately you will find yourself benefiting from the change of pace.

AQUARIUS Rather than assume the worst, expect the best. This sounds simple, but learning to train the mind toward a consistently positive outlook takes time and effort.

PISCES Sometimes opportunity arrives in odd guises, and because we're biased toward certain forms, we fail to seize the moment. Do not let appearances fool you — this is a chance to make actual, tangible gains.

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