THIS IS in-between time. Or, rather, in-the-middle-of time. We are in the middle, between the lunar and solar eclipses. I'm favoring the "in-the-middle-of" descriptor because it connotes ongoing activity. "In-between" makes it sound like we're in a lull, some darkened purgatory sandwiched inside of two precise beacons of isolated illumination. In a lull, we are anything but. These two weeks, between last Tuesday's lunar eclipse and the solar eclipse on Dec. 3, contain the roots of transition between old emotions and new behaviors. Right now, we are on our knees, digging through the dirt, yanking unsightly weeds and scooping holes for implanting seeds.

On the occasions when I'm lost in non-astrology-related thoughts (yes, this does happen to astrologers), sometimes I'll forget about a full moon, an eclipse or some major transit. Usually I try to synch my life up with astrological cycles so I'm not swimming against the currents—and because, like any of us, I need all the cosmic help I can get. I stay aware of lunar cycles, so I can plan my fresh starts for when the moon is new and prepare for emotional catharses when it's full. But during those distracted off-times, when I'm a day too late in noticing the moon has already passed its fullest peak and is now waning, I get annoyed. I imagine I've passed up the chance to effect change. I tell myself, I'm stuck and must wait another month.

This past week, someone lamented to me that he'd wasted the energy of the lunar eclipse. He did not spend his Tuesday, as he had hoped, committing to healthful habits. Instead he strung himself out on multiple espressos and pigged out on greasy, unsatisfying, heat-lamped egg rolls. Then he ended the evening with a hearty dose of self-flagellation, all the while jittery from the caffeine and nauseous from the grease. Following logic he misappropriated from my writings on eclipses, he felt he'd somehow doomed this next chapter of his life to six months of poor diet and self-blame due to his eclipse-day behavior. Naturally, I had to set him straight.

These two examples—his and mine—are ridiculous, guilt-producing uses of astrology. Regardless of the moon's position or Uranus transits or Saturn returns, we possess the power to recreate our destinies and change our futures every single second of every day. Waiting for the next full moon is an astrological excuse to procrastinate. Of course, we must be compassionate enough with ourselves to recognize when we aren't quite ready to make big changes. Sometimes there are smaller, internal, psychological baby-steps we need to take—like grieving or releasing anger or pumping ourselves up with self-esteem—before we can effectively act in an external fashion. Lunar eclipses (like last Tuesday's) are like spotlights shined on our emotions, dramatically exposing hidden or overlooked problems in some area of our lives. In my friend's case, his reenactment of undesired behavior during the eclipse resulted in an increased sense of emotional anxiety. This might then lead to actual behavioral changes, if he so chooses. The epiphanies and subsequent windows for new opportunity don't necessarily appear as we might expect, but they are there, if we want to recognize them. (Another reason why astrology is so useful as a hindsight-is-20/20 type of tool.)

Astrological time is best thought of as a set of cycles, of circles, instead of a string of linear points. As each circle turns, a specific focus of energy (such as an eclipse) flows increasingly towards its apex, peaks, and then decreases in intensity. The closer a given moment is to the peak, the more concentrated its manifestation of the energy. But there is no instant turn-on or cut-off point of an eclipse or other transit, no light switch that flips. That is why the entire eclipse "season" of, say, one week before the first to one week following the second (about four weeks) is within orb, or allowable distance from exactitude, for containing significant transitional events. It's the same concept we apply to our sun signs when a person's birthday is near a cusp, or border between two zodiac signs. A planet crossing the boundary between two signs is not like a car driving over a state line, at which point the laws of California suddenly don't apply and the laws of Nevada abruptly take effect. Someone born on January 20, for instance, will "officially" be a sun-sign Aquarius but is likely to manifest a blend of Capricorn and Aquarius characteristics, as his birthday is on the cusp. This Jan. 20 sun is colored with a healthy burst of Aquarian energy (as the very first and very last degrees of a sign are), but it also still contains strong remnants of the Capricorn-ness that hasn't had ample time to dissipate.

In addition, a sensitive point such as an eclipse degree, is reactivated in the future when some transiting body crosses it. In other words, when a traveling planet hits the same zodiac position in which the moon was during an eclipse, the thematic energy from the eclipse will surface again. When Mars reactivates the lunar eclipse on January 13, 2003, by transiting the same degree of Scorpio where the sun was positioned on Nov. 19, whatever emotional complexes are being triggered now will likely see some renewed surge of attention. This could indicate that, for those of us who decided to act favorably in response to the eclipse's uncovered emotions, we will feel a physical boost to our efforts around Jan. 13. Or, for those who fled from responsibility during the eclipse time, mid-January might be a time where our inner turmoil is exacerbated and begs more desperately for relief. In either case, my point is that, even weeks after an eclipse has raised issues in our lives, the moment for choosing change and actualizing our truest desires still hasn't passed us by, remains ever-present.

Yet, of course, certain moments do provide extra oomph from the universe to help us choose change more easily. This in-between or in-the-middle-of period is one of those times, approaching next week's solar eclipse in Sagittarius. We confront the unknown, as it throws unexpected twists and turns in our face, like those machines that relentlessly spit balls at the burgeoning tennis player looking to improve her backhand. With Mars and Venus hovering within orb of conjunction, we act and react in equal doses like a pro, our projective and receptive selves working in unity. The trick is to be ready for whatever shows up in our court, perfecting our technique so it continues to improve over time, volleying until we win game, set and match.