How New is the Year?


Welcome to my first posting of 2006, in which I remind everybody that not much has changed astrologically since the end of '05.

Okay, it's only a few days into the new year… so how much could be different already? But when we look back over the past few months and realize I've been saying the same things this whole time—do the phrases 'grand cross' and 'Mars in Taurus' sound familiar?—you might wonder if, at least by now, there should be something new to report? Argh, if only…

Review: The grand cross is comprised of four planets at 90-degree angles to one another. Currently (and since late Nov 05), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune are all squaring or opposing each other. And they do so from the middle degrees of the fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius), the most doggedly obstinate among the zodiac.

What does this configuration mean for us? Concisely put, tensions between firm impulses at odds with each other (whether internal conflicts or clashes with outside forces) tighten, intensify, and bear down on us with a slow burn… until we can't take it anymore and something gives way? Or are we among the stoic, self-immobilized ones who refuse to budge, no matter the weight of constant pressure on us to break into action? (Does any of this ring a bell?)

I know for sure there's something to this, based on the unprecedented number of times people who barely care about astrology have asked me, 'What the hell's been going on?' They, like me, have witnessed firsthand the dramatic life changes brought forth by the grand-cross pressure—communions and breakups, job firings and hirings, household discord, illnesses, windfalls, epiphanies. (When we're squeezed against by planets from every side, what else to expect but a core of dormant dynamism rising to the surface?)

And they, like me, have also felt the physical effects—changes in appetite, pent-up energy begging our bodies to express it or otherwise get it out… and most notable of all, an epidemic of sleep-related symptoms. Everyone who talks to me about 'what's going on', it seems, has been braving a gnarly bout of insomnia. Or else it's interrupted sleep, with multiple awakenings a night (and the subsequent trouble finally getting up in the morning). And then there are all those extra-rich dreamscapes, with so many otherworldly adventures and activities to explore while asleep that we find ourselves exhausted the next day.

I, for one, continue to experience the most restless and fitful sleeps of my adult life, having slumbered a whole night through only a handful of times in recent weeks. Trust me, this is highly unusual behavior for me. I'm one of those guys who can always sleep uninterrupted, anytime and anywhere. That is, until now.

Interpretively, I associate this amplified sleep-time liveliness with an anticipatory excitement in the air, playing out in the collective unconsciousness, all while we do our best to keep it going in our waking lives. With this potent grand cross pinching us 'til we squeal, major developments can't help but occur. Stalemates are cracking, inertia busting open. Shit is happening, people…

… only it hasn't yet, in every case, started to appear as though it's happening. That's the Mars-in-Taurus-since-Jul-05 factor at play. As I've written countless times over these recent months, Mars's injection of verve and vitality operates sluggishly in Taurus… and its two-month retrograde sure didn't help the cause of forward momentum. There's been a veritable twiddling of thumbs impatiently waiting for a chance to actually grab something. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

In some cases, the constraint has already burst to propulsive action. (Even slow-and-steady Taurus has a breaking point… and once it's reached, watch out!) Those are the relationship deepenings and departures, work-life and home-life climaxes we've been witnessing.

But in many other cases, the dams have yet to break. These burgeoning breakthroughs still simmer below, bubbling up through dreams or divine deductions, yet not fully manifest. For these, we can expect more obvious developmental movement in Feb 06, once Mars moves out of its retrograde shadow and (finally!) into Gemini.

The grand-cross restlessness also continues a bit longer, through the first two-thirds of January, until retrograde Saturn slides far enough out of orb to grant us respite. At that point, we're left with a three-pointed T-square—Mars opposed to Jupiter, with both squaring Neptune—which allows somewhat freer motion, while lacking any sure comprehension of what ground each new step falls upon.

Without Saturn's restrictive influence, the Mars-Jupiter-Neptune combo can lead us to reactionary escapism. It makes sense, really, when you ponder the last few months' astro-influences as I've described them—conflicting forces squeezing us from all sides, energy pent-up, momentum stalled. Remove Saturn from the picture, and why wouldn't we want to wander as far away from the serious business as possible? Blow off steam? Disappear into a fog of fantasy, hope, and refusal to cope? During the last third of January and the first week of February, such exaggerated avoidance of recent events' consequences is tempting.

It's exciting to rip open our crisp new calendars, to date our checks with a different ending number… and to glimpse a conclusion to the grand-cross/Mars mania within our sights. But for one more month, we've still got old business to handle. The year ain't so new quite yet. Even if the big breaking point has already come into your life, there are still lingering details to wrap up before mid-Feb 06.

Once Mars hits Gemini on Feb 17 and activity levels sharply accelerate to attention-deficit grade, you'll be glad you did.