ARIES (March 21-April 19): When you don't like the response you appear to be getting, let your first line of comeback be a question. Ask them to repeat themselves, to clarify, to contribute additional explanatory details to back up their thinking. Should you be able to eke out such an inquiry without any underlying aggression (which might've already started rising in you before you had a chance to think things through, and to realize you don't have enough reliable info to hinge an angry reaction on), you may be surprised at what they go on to say. They aren't nearly as far off your mark as you'd first assumed. Perhaps there's a lot more room for negotiation than your original impression left you. Or maybe you'll even start to second-guess your own initial assuredness once, in the light of everything else they added to the discussion, you can better understand the personal roots of their position. That's the funny thing about resisting combative or confrontational first-reactions, Aries: Once you push through to the less-fevered curiosity that waits on the other side, you might actually come to marvel at other people's entirely distinctive, foreign and/or weird approaches to seeing the world especially with the self-confidence not to be threatened by 'em.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Do your best to ignore the false starts, the snafus, the mixed messages and mangled communications that may show up in your career or public-service zone. Mercury just went retrograde in your 10th, Taurus and in his characteristic 'trickster' pose, he's liable to mess with your head, leaving you to wonder if your present situation is less favorable than it actually is. Because we know your 10th house is also playing host to both Jupiter (an all-year-long advantageous presence) and the Jan 26 solar eclipse (more on that next week), it's safe to assume that 'more of the same' isn't exactly what your outer-world life has in store for your upcoming year. And naturally, the instability (especially for a Taurean) brings its accompanying panic. But your bigger picture in this arena looks pretty damn good, as long as you don't sabotage your success by trying to preserve things as they've already been. These few weeks ahead (with Mercury retrograde through Jan 31), alas, deliver a critical challenge: Can you calmly persist through this whirling array of phantom problemsfirst they appear, then they disappear, but are they really there?without overreacting, clinging to the past, lashing out at an innocent bystander, or fueling your fears of the worst? Try your hardest, since any problems that arise will only significantly worsen by your hasty reaction or maybe these 'problems' never really existed at all 'til you caused 'em?
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): When I think of you navigating yourself through these current few weeks, the image that comes through is endearingly heartwarming and adorable if not a bit bumbling. I see you, animated and upbeat, looking out across miles and miles of new ground to tread, a sensibly packed bag full of all the essentials strapped to your back, ready to have your mind blown open with things and people and experiences you've never encountered before. Yet, as you studiously compare the terrain ahead with the detailed map sitting unfolded in your hand, preparing yourself for the treacherous hairpin-turns and rocky river crossings, you're having trouble catching a clear grasp on what's what until the guy sitting next to you, gently and politely, points out that you're looking at the map upside-down. (Or worse: You're looking at the entirely wrong map altogether.) In that moment, Gemini, your ego might quickly veer toward defensive embarrassment. Stop yourself from going there. The more mature (and, frankly, the more pleasant) reaction is to let out a huge tension-splitting laugh at yourself. 'Guess I know even less about where I'm headed than I thought!' you might exclaim, as you toss the map aside and just start walking without it having already learned the first lesson of your journey, which is never to assume you know which direction is 'right', if you're simply seeking to expand your life into new territory but aren't sure what that ought to look like.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): I want you to treat this current month as a crash-course in reorganizing your notion of what it is to be a caring and nurturing person. We encounter these descriptors of your sign, Cancer, in virtually every astrological tract imaginable as almost a prescriptive mantra, reminding you (or is it subtle indoctrination?) that to be a child of the moon (your ruling luminary) is to own the responsibility for everybody's emotional safety and well-being. (Somehow, of course, the category 'everybody' often excludes you.) Here's where I problematize this 'caring-and-nurturing' premise: Sometimes, the most genuinely caring thing you can do for another person (especially one with whom you're quite intimately acquainted) will, initially at least, cause them some degree of pain or discomfort. You will have to point out an inconvenient truth, explain how your life is being negatively impacted by their behavior (see also: last week), or otherwise push them out of the nestto all parties' ultimate benefit, though likely not without immediate displeasure first. Likewise, the act of coddling another person, 'sparing' their feelings while taking on the burden of unhappiness yourself, does not exactly display true 'care'. Rather, it absolves them of the pressure to grow and evolve emotionally. It's highly unlikely you will ever cease to serve a caring-nurturer role, in this or that way, throughout your life. Now it's time to expand your notion of what that role entails. In its reconfigured format, caring just might include, for instance, making them cry.
LEO (July 23-August 22): Loyal fans of long-running TV shows often lament the periodic 'freshening-up' of their beloved programs that occurs when the principal cast changes, with either the weepy departure of an old favorite or the startling addition of a fresh face (the new boss! the long-lost cousin! the adopted grandkid!). After all, we get attached. We turn the ensemble of familiar characters into a veritable familythen resent it when any 'family member' leaves home ('please don't go!') or brings a new sweetie to Sunday dinner ('who the hell is that?'). You Leos are among the most loyal of the zodiac tribes, likelier to reserve a permanent place in your heart for those close to you than to run through casual pals faster than you have a chance to get attached. Yet, without the occasional introduction of exciting new social input (that is, exciting new people) into your life, the plotlines get old real quick. The same conversations happen over and over again and the ones that are basically unpleasant start to wear on everyone's nerves to an increasingly greater degree. I say all this, Leo, to lay the foundation for what I sense is coming your way: a noteworthy change in casting among your principal troupe. Is there a new person in your life who is now absorbing a sizable chunk of your attentions? Is there someone who's been around a while, but, in light of irreversible changes in one or both of you, no longer serves your best interests? The specifics are unclear. All we know for sure is that, as part of a natural evolution, certain key individuals will soon be assuming either significantly larger or significantly smaller roles in the production that's your day-to-day life.
VIRGO (August 23-September 22): If Mercury's latest retrograde, now in effect (Jan 11-31), results in you having to revisit some task or topic you thought had already been put to bed back in '08, please don't start pounding your head against the wall in penitent disbelief. As I indicated last week, Virgo, you have too much other planetary stuff going onlike Mars poking you to consciously get out more and have more of a good time, and Venus lovingly stoking your care for other peopleto focus solely on logistics and output. I'd even go so far as to say this: If the process of readdressing or redoing forces you back into close contact with certain other stakeholders in the matter, then perhaps this (your chance to reconnect with a partner, colleague or co-worker) is actually one of the driving cosmic purposes you have to readdress or redo. Forget about the final product for just a second, since its now-exposed 'incompleteness' is your likeliest source of frustration. Instead, think about how the current Mars and Venus placements may help you do a better job at fostering collaborative success. Mars inspires you to be more assertive with your observations and suggestions (maybe you can say what you refrained from saying last time?), while Venus encourages you to attain a better understanding of their viewpoints (maybe they actually had a valid point after all?). Is it possible that what you'll really be revisiting is your ability to work effectively and enjoyably with others?
LIBRA (September 23-October 22): If I have anything to do with it, Libra, by the end of this year, you'll be having a lot more fun than you were in '08. Actually, allow me to be even more precise: By the end of this year, you'll have granted yourself much more permission to pursue certain activities and relationships over others for no other reason than they are more apt to directly bring you pleasure and enjoyment. This year ahead provides an odd backdrop for this lesson, though. As you must already know, upholding the collective status quo will become progressively unfeasible in '09 and into '10 and this fact is liable to generate much justifiable angst among many of us. Yet along with it, if we can suspend our needlessly worrisome thoughts long enough to observe, emerges a tremendously fruitful space for awe-inspiring freedoms to innovate and co-create a new life closer to our ideals. What I sincerely wish for you, my precious Libran, is that the intensifying weight of trying to be everything to everyoneat the same time everyone else is also changing so dramatically, they don't even know what they want from youwill finally bear down on you so uncomfortably that, in the midst of that last straw about to break the camel's back, you have a sudden all-encompassing epiphany. The only choice you can make with any certainty is to do whatever the heck you want. And while you're at it, why not make it fun?
SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): Sure, there are compelling enough reasons for me to toss out the typical suggestion to 'go underground'. You have plenty of turbulent inner concerns to delve into, pick at, obsess upon, lash out against or wallow in and I want you to know I honor that. Still, if I were to follow through on such a suggestion, Scorpio, it would go against all that I wrote in your last installmentnamely, that one 2009 challenge is to not disappear every time the urge comes on, but to instead maintain your social connectedness. And far be it for me to confuse you. Therefore, I'm obligated not to endorse the 'go underground' strategy for your own good, of course. I realize, alas, I should probably sweeten the pot, if I honestly expect you to brave the storm of the outside world at such a time. So here goes: A very happy Venus is currently in your house of love, joy, romance and play (the 5th). Being in Pisces, she's well aware that some of your parts are feeling rather tender, and she's agreed to watch over you while you're out and about. Maybe, just maybe, she will unassumingly lure you into actually enjoying the leisure time you spend with pals, at cafes or in bars, attending parties, walking through the neighborhood and otherwise exposing yourself. She might actually show you a whole new way of approaching these hyper-emotional moments in lifewithout having to put everything else on hold. And then, when you're done receiving her bounties, you can go back home, lock the doors, and do whatever it is you Scorpios do when you're by yourself.
SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): Ordinarily, I get ample mileage out of teasing my Sagittarians about your matter-of-course tendency to impulsively speak out sometimes before bothering to consider (or perhaps without caring to consider?) how your words will hit the other person's ears. (In the biz, we refer to this condition as 'foot-in-mouth syndrome'.) Yet, in a strange reversal of what might otherwise be something to warn against, I actually think it'd be simply wonderful if you obeyed your impulses and uttered whatever thoughts came into your head, regardless of context. But here's the catch (and ain't there always one?): I encourage you to blab and blurt your first reactions only if you're willing to allow all the other players the same privilege. That means you must couple your talkativeness with active listening (which also means leaving long pauses between utterances, so they get a chance to insert words and sentences too), so that those 'first reactions' also constitute relevant participation in an actual dialogue. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about weighty debates, intimate confessions, or silly shit-shooting, the point remains the same: If the give-and-take functions properly, you'll find your uncensored comments, shocking though they may be to others' ears, will develop into totally surprising conversation with a thing or two to teach everybody involved.
CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): Okay, so you know how I recently lauded you as 'the wisest economic mind on the block these days'? Well, I'm still sticking by my assessment, Capricorn with an up-to-date caution that, though your ideas and attitudes remain unquestionably wise, the immediate present simply isn't the time to take irreversible action or 'seal the deal'. This is merely a question of timing, not of overall strategy. Mercury now finds himself retrograde in your money house (the 2nd), which, according to any Astrology 101 handbook, would make this a highly unfavorable time for buying or selling property, signing contracts, or conducting major financial transactions. (Mercury turns direct on Jan 31.) I, of course, reject such simplistic interpretations and indeed see this month ahead as a highly favorable moment for reviewing your bank balance one more time (maybe you missed something?), rethinking your first-quarter budget (perhaps a little redirecting from the 'icing on the cake' category to 'essentials' is in order?), and otherwise leaving yourself wide open to changing your mind. If indeed you are the wise economist among us (and I believe it to be true), you'd be especially wise to stay apprised of all the latest developments in this growing macro-instabilitycontinually ready to react, instead of foolishly clinging to 'answers' you came up with last month, which are already seeming quaint. Acclimate yourself to this constant readjusting.
AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): Dismiss the sense of urgency straight away. Isn't the novel notion that, thanks to Jupiter and his gang, 2009 will be a year for Aquarians to mark in their history-books enough to grant you some peace-of-mind? I'm not making this crap up. You will have an unforgettable time of things in '09. For the time being, however, it's pretty clear you don't know exactly why or how these months ahead will be so unforgettable. Guess all you want. Your future destiny is still cloaked in mystery if for no other reason than you still have decisions to make or not make, perspectives to acknowledge or ignore, and intuitive inklings to heed or discredit. And how the remainder of January goes down will have a lot to do with shaping it. Mercury's just turned retrograde in your sign (through the end of the month). Plus, the Jan 25-26 new moon is also a Jupiter-blessed solar eclipse in your sign. In combination, these two events virtually assure that an as-yet-unknown piece of newssomething you simply couldn't have foreseen even last weekis on its way to your consciousness, essentially promising to rattle your current understanding of what's ahead for you. By the first week in February, things will look different. (Whether the external reality will change, or simply your interpretative stance toward it, remains to be seen.) From this light, then, you mustn't rush yourself into any certain move. The shifting landscape will resolve some of your outstanding questions on its own without you having to 'do' anything other than respond.
PISCES (February 19-March 20): You've left me here again with this ol' familiar creative struggle: how to provide you another paragraph of words to describe psychic sensations and experiences that defy words. Argh. (I know, I'm the writer. I'm supposed to possess that ability to touch the untouchably sublime verbally.) I wish I could just reprint last week's horoscope and call it a day only with the p.s. that now Mercury is retrograde, also in your solar 12th, indicating that the language in which you're thinking and speaking is that much further from the systems of logic (or so we tell ourselves) that the rest of us use. Yes, Pisces, your sensitivities and instincts and divinatory gifts are operating in turbo mode. Yet, I'm not entirely convinced that attempting to convey these tidbits of mystical revelationat least in any straightforward, easily understandable formis worth the effort. Being attuned to this level of awareness (when many of us just aren't) is what sometimes leaves you Pisceans feeling alienated or alone, after all. This is not a bad situation, however. Let's not overlook that Venus remains in your sign for the next three weeks (and that's not all Venus is cooking up for you either!), an influence that should help bridge any chasms between you and others even if the streams of communication are still a bit choppy. And an utterly fantastic approach to these few weeks? Turn those prophetic visions, cryptic feelings, and romantic notions into some kind of art, whether or not you intend to ever share it with anybody else. Get 'em scribbled into your journal, painted on the canvas, sculpted into clay, or otherwise recorded on film or digital file. When you look back on what you did months or years from now, you will stun yourself with your eerie prescience.