I LOVE TIME-TRAVEL fantasies. I'm hardly a science-fiction aficionado, but there's something so appealing about stories that explore unforeseen present-day consequences of seemingly insignificant actions made during jaunts to the past or the future. While the original Back to the Future is clearly the well-made film of the trilogy, I'm partial to Part II, with its manic past-present-future flip-flops and extravagant alternate-reality sequences. We are astonished by how dramatically life changes (and what a drunk Marty McFly's mother becomes) due to a single alteration in past events. When a vignette in one of The Simpsons' Halloween episodes explores similar possibilities—as Homer discovers a time-travel portal and proceeds to screw up the Dinosaur Age again and again—we are treated to a montage of ridiculous- ramification scenes, including one world where it rains donuts, and another in which baby Maggie declares, in theincongruous baritone of James Earl Jones, "This truly is a disturbing universe." (Makes you wonder what was going on in that alternate reality.)

Another favorite time-travel narrative of mine is a pulpy made-for-cable flick called Running Against Time (1990) starring Robert Hays (of Airplane fame) and Catherine Hicks (the mom on Seventh Heaven). In the preposterous premise, Hays is a guy in perpetual mourning for his brother who was killed in the Vietnam War after enlisting. When he stumbles upon a scientist who's discovered a method for time-travel, he decides to travel back to (ready for this?) stop the assassination of JFK, under the assumption that it was LBJ's leadership alone which led to increased US involvement in Vietnam; no assassination, no Vietnam War, no lost brother. Of course, the plan gets muddled when Hays ends up getting framed for the shooting rather than stopping it. The plot turns increasingly unbelievable (if it's possible), as girlfriend Hicks also goes back and ends up incriminated as a co-conspirator. The film even goes so far as to send filmed footage of the Vietnam escalation back from the future, which the scientist (in his younger body) brings to the White House to personally show President Johnson as a warning. Surprise! Another backfire, as LBJ is so humiliated at the prospect of his future legacy that he pledges to win the Vietnam War at all costs, thus intensifying the war efforts instead of halting them. ("Hanoi destroyed! Millions perish!) Predictably, the protagonists realize that it's best not to try to change history. ("Maybe the JFK assassination was unavoidable, meant to happen!")

I've invoked my favorite time-travel stories this week because, though presumably none of us have been surfing through time during the recent past, the current astrological scene is producing a sort of "deja vu" consciousness. When I look back over the last two to three months, I observe a trajectory moving from (1) a time of new and renewed commitments to progress and projects to (2) a temporary phase of distraction by personal challenges and subtle impalpable (i.e., spiritual?) concerns to (3) now, when things are quieting down and returning to a time of renewed renewed commitments. While it might have felt like we strayed from our paths, in fact, we endured internal preparations for that next phase of our lives. We thought we were ready in July and August; now we'll really be ready in October.

The past month has been dominated by both Mercury in retrograde and the Jupiter-Neptune opposition, which manifested itself societally in our commemoration of the first anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. As I've mentioned before, Mercury retrograde periods are all about reviewing and revising plans, taking stock internally of where we are, so that we can motor ahead once it goes direct. Meanwhile, the Jupiter-Neptune influence quietly mapped situations where our individual expressions came together in ways that fed our spiritual nourishment, though we may not have recognized these at the time. These two effects in combination may have left us feeling that like our wheels were spinning or that we'd lost our focus. This week is the final wrap-up of this seeming confusion. Mercury continues moving backward and briefly pops back from Libra into Virgo, turning our mental attention back to the details, as we formulate what we need to do over the next few weeks so that we feel "back on track"—even though we never really were "off track" (it just felt like it).

Sunday brings both an extremely pleasant New Moon in Libra and the eagerly anticipated return of Mercury to its regular direct motion. Last month's New and Full Moon were characterized by dynamic challenge and the need to work out conflicting energies, another element of the inner tensions that drew our attentions away from our practical outward work. As a thankful relief, this month's lunar cycle is one that is much quieter and will give a favorable push to any efforts we expend, once we incorporate last month's internal changes into our plans. With Mars nearby the stationing Mercury in Virgo, we will have the increased physical energy to cement these revised plans and start turning them to actions. Sunday's New Moon sextiles Jupiter, adding a subtle good luck to whatever ventures we begin. Starting something calmly, slowly and patiently now should result in its sprouting in the exciting air-trine Full Moon two weeks later.

The protagonists of Running Against Time return to the present in the end, with the assassination and the Vietnam War not having been prevented. But the shocking conclusion is that the dead brother is now alive, a surprising result of one brief conversation he and the Hays character had, back in the past, after which the brother decided not to enlist after all. Likewise, we return from our recent perplexing side-trip to who-knows-where, back to the place we thought we were ready to build anew from a few months prior. Now, though our dead relatives are likely not suddenly living, things are different than they were. We may not have been able to change history in the way that we set out to, but it did change in some currently unseen fashion that will play itself out over the next few months. As long as we don't try to run against time and instead just work with it, those changes will eventually reveal themselves and prove that those detours were, in fact, squarely on the path after all.