Horoscopes | Week of January 4-10, 2010

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Image is everything. Okay, no, it's not. But it is something worth considering… particularly now, Aries, when you have a couple-weeks' opportunity to devise and delineate the specific steps required to produce the image best suited for achieving what you most want from your career or public reputation over the coming year. What type of person will the key VIPs want to see in that coveted role? Which traits ought you forefront, in order to position yourself as the best fit? What should you say to whom, with which words, in what context, and when, to increase the likelihood of getting the response you want? While these aren't atypical questions for any strategic-planning session, they don't exactly come naturally to you Aries types—and therein lies the potential problem. The freewheeling, instinct-driven, extemporaneously expressive straight-shooter in you doesn't necessarily like being pinned down by schemes and methodologies. The very notion of 'image' seems to fly in the face of all that here-I-am-take-me-or-leave-me immediacy your sign is known for. Yet, if you are serious about hitting that lofty goal (and I do believe it's in your reach), you'll have to consciously tone down some of the impulsiveness (not forever, of course!) and start proceeding more by design. It's not disingenuous, I swear… merely foresightful.


TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Distinguish yourself by embodying those tenets of integrity you'd most like to become identified with. Integrity is not merely a navel-gazing shell-game of moving big fancy words around and around until you can string together the most impressive-sounding philosophy that has little-to-no relevance to your everyday being, Taurus. You must be it. Such consciousness in action is how you ensure your limited years here on Earth are not unfolding by mindless repetition or random chance. Such guidelines give you something against which to check your progress, to determine whether you're moving closer to (or further away from) a life that you can proudly say has been worth the effort. If you're hesitant to this exercise, let me suggest you're resisting the finality of such an exercise… likely because you fear setting a standard that then you'll have to hold yourself to, much like a halfway-attempting-to-quit smoker will refuse to declare, 'I'm never having another cigarette again!' because he wants to remain a man-of-his-word and perhaps isn't as ready to ditch the butts as he'd like to believe. Are you quietly afraid that, in a particularly heated moment, you won't live up to your own stated standards? Because, with Mars retrograde poking away at your house of private emotions (the 4th) and tempting your stormier side to act out, maybe you ought to be—and that's why this is all so presently relevant.


GEMINI (May 21-June 20): There is a strange connection between this week's Scorpio horoscope and the one I'm about to offer to you, Gemini. Whereas I've been attempting to guide Scorpios toward allowing their social comminglings to be light and laidback and without excessive complications weighing them down (because we all know how Scorpios can behave so intensely as to be off-putting or downright scary), you're due to receive the near-opposite advice. You Geminis mustn't purport to tell a tale that things are easy-breezy or loosey-goosey in certain situations that are anything but… that you're free to cavort however (and with whomever) you'd damn well please, when there are in fact extenuating circumstances (whether voiced or left unspoken) entangling you into partial submission … or that you're not going to let anything 'get you down', though, privately, you've got a heavy heart or a nervous stomach. (Because don't we all know how Geminis can act so casual or superficially chipper as to be off-putting or untrustworthy?) Despite any Mars-retrograde-inspired tendencies to simply turn a different direction and forge small-talk about the weather, your quality of character is far better served by assenting to deal with the full reality.


CANCER (June 21-July 22): As concerns about whether you've got enough or how you're ever going to take care of it all threaten to heat up (thanks, Mars retrograde in the 2nd), don't overlook one rather obvious and easily accessible tool in counteracting the worry: The support and assistance of other people. I know this isn't the kind of groundbreaking epiphany that folks will pay good money for (you're in luck—this horoscope is free!), but I feel in your case, Cancer, it begs being explicitly pointed out. Otherwise, I fear you'll continue letting your internal emotional reactions to practical real-world situations get the best of you, working you into a private frenzy that'll keep you grabbing for the pints of ice-cream comfort or fitfully fidgeting in bed all night. Every one of us has certain parts of life that we're relatively more and less equipped to handle, whether due to natural talents and limitations or experiences we've learned from and been scarred by. That's why collaborative efforts so often produce a more well-rounded product than what one lone individual, too proud or stubborn or embarrassed to ask for help, can muster. And even if the 'collaboration' is merely a matter of sharing your struggles out loud with important people in your life, inviting them to be your personal touchstones, that may prove to be enough to quell a good portion of your silent stress. On this two-way street of human connection, we are here to serve each other.


LEO (July 23-August 22): Entering 2010 with a retrograde Mars in your sign means the typical resoluteness associated with the new year's promise of new undertakings has been replaced with an all over the map quality that's anything but resolved on a single focus. So be it, Leo. By now, if you've been reading this site (or really any reliable astrological news-source), you probably already expect to find your usual energies flipped around, diverted or disobedient. This may not, therefore, be the best moment to define all-encompassing ambitions for the year ahead… at least not if you intend for them to remain unvaryingly relevant 'til December 31, '10. However, you really should make an agreement with yourself, to last through the end of May, that you'll keep very regular habits when it comes to fulfilling those day-in-day-out duties to yourself, your work and your household that must be maintained (or else deleterious consequences shall be yours for the suffering). While your 'bigger' goals will likely remain moving targets for a little while to come, your less impressive or noteworthy (but no less important) routines and responsibilities aren't changing much and require continual attention—if you want to maintain your health, your job and a livable home environment. Whatever you don't do just digs a deeper hole for later.


VIRGO (August 23-September 22): Life of Joy and Pleasure and Play, I'd like you to meet your most formidable adversary… Groundless Encroaching Manias, Phobias and/or Paranoias. And in this battle royal, Virgo, who would you most like to emerge victorious? It is important to deliberately root for a side since, after all, it is your filter on the world and everything in it that's at stake. So if you really do want to savor your time here on the big blue marble, you must decide to prioritize merriment and mirth—all while knowing full well that shit-stirrer Mars, retrograde in your 12th for many weeks to come, is fighting for dominance over your psyche and would prefer you to stay in, picking at invisible zits and poking at imaginary rolls of fat, panicked at all that could go wrong if you dared to cavort unreservedly. To win this war on behalf of a Life of Joy and Pleasure and Play, you must erect a front of resistance, one which refuses to budge once time has been scheduled for creative diversions, romance, gaming or goofing-off. Though the specifics of how you plan to enjoy yourself may change, the commitment to do so must remain mandatory. And when the 12th-house Manias, Phobias and/or Paranoias begin to blare, give 'em one of two responses. (1) To the worrisome what-if scenarios, reply, 'We'll worry about that if and when the time comes, not now.' (2) To the relentless self-criticisms, shrug your shoulders and say, 'So what?' Neither adversarial campaign possesses a convincing reason not to rejoice.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22): This is the year you stand on your own two feet. No matter who leaves or returns, freezes you out or tempts you to come closer. No matter which jobs or paychecks, living situations or family obligations, friendship connections or political affiliations come or go (or never show up at all). And no matter how it looks from the outside. Stay standing firm. You're due to continue toughening up in '10, Libra… and while you might not welcome this heightened responsibility for solidifying yourself every morning when you wake up, you know it's high time to claim it. There will be moments when you soar from the thrill of finally claiming independence, speaking your mind, changing the terms of previously unhealthy relationship dynamics, and/or letting perfect appearances fall by the wayside—and there will be moments when you trip or fall, scramble to backtrack toward the safe retreat of shallow grins and non-committal answers, permit other people to boss you around, and/or lose all confidence in having made any progress at all. (That's just Saturn testing your resolve, which is of particular concern when he sneaks back into your solar 12th from April through July.) But as long as you embrace that this is the year of unwavering self-belief, you will remain standing. In fact, it's not really much of a choice: Commit to Saturn's root-laying work, or you could very well get knocked on your ass.


SCORPIO (October 23-November 21): While you presently have much to learn about simply showing up for your social encounters with a certain detachment from particular outcomes, that renegade Mars retrograde in your solar 10th could be a little too unabashedly goal-oriented for your own good. See, Scorpio, sometimes we miss pleasurable details about who another person is, whether we've known them forever or have just now met, when we're too concerned with what we want from them or, of course, what they want from us. And though I'm sure you already know that too much investment in controlling the dynamics of an exchange is likely to saddle what would be an easy casualness with unnecessary complication, Mars's influence may still have you, first and foremost, on vigilant guard that you're being properly credited and rewarded for that which is (at least in your mind) rightfully yours. This Mars impact isn't going away anytime soon, so you'll need to understand how this 'on-guard' tone has the capacity to jeopardize the interpersonal conviviality that'll make or break the flow of your days. (Also: Review this previous horoscope.) Every interaction is both a fresh slate and a perfect whole in itself. Arrive to each one anew, and participate in it on its own terms.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21): Honor both (1) your emerging clarity with regards to a lack of ambiguity about what's ethically 'wrong' for you and (2) your immediate need to cleverly formulate what you're going to do to eliminate such 'wrongs' from your life. Let the most morally appropriate next-steps become increasingly obvious to you, Sagittarius—and boy are they!—without impulsively acting on 'em before your ducks are in a row. Hatch a series of well-thought-out plans, complete with alternatives (should something not work out as you imagined it would), that'll carry you through the first half of the year. Then, follow the roadmap you've sketched out for yourself. Remember: You won't really help to craft that 'more meaningful existence' you crave by faultily ignoring financial (and other practical) concerns simply to make your point, only to find yourself squandering several months on pulling yourself back to level ground. With a bit of disciplined visioning, you can pursue a fuller alignment with your values—and not have to start from scratch (again!).


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): These two weeks ahead were sent by the heavens, Capricorn, to support you in setting the agenda for your 2010 and beyond. I included the 'beyond' to emphasize that the present potency of all this Capricorn energy—including Pluto and next week's solar eclipse—is mightier than the average New-Year-season's convergence. Therefore, don't just think about those extra five pounds you want to lose in the next couple months or that modest raise you're due for at work; concentrate more consciously on the five- and/or ten-year master objectives. And as you start recognizing those most glaringly self-evident areas in which your current life falls way short of that longer-range vision, pay extra-attentive mind to which relationship bonds (to romantic loves, business partners, financial institutions, familial traditions, and the like) are implicated. This question may well prove to be less abstract that it first sounds… particularly if your first-week-of-'09 focus is scrambled or dashed by unwanted intrusions of someone else's agenda. Can you still 'set' your agenda, or do you now realize you're competing for control over your own guiding premises? Be open to seeing the relational situation in a new light (without, that is, shaming yourself for not having noticed earlier).


AQUARIUS (January 20-February 18): If (as I stipulated last time) your 2009 was about opening your eyes wider than they were before, 2010 thusly asks that you give your peepers some time to adjust to the new landscape now visible. Especially now during these opening moments of the new year, Aquarius, you have a lot of stealthy observation to partake of—and, quite frankly, very little lucid direction to follow. Even your intuition may seem to sputter, pulling you one way one day and the apparent opposite the next… with no reason to believe either instinct was 'incorrect' at the time it hit you. All of this is as it should be, even if it's simultaneously annoying. So if and when your bosom-buddy or other-half gets on your case for hesitating to make your mind up right away, for refusing to pull your head out of the clouds and simply 'move it all along' (presumably in the manner they'd most prefer), don't conclude the problem is you. It may likelier be a more nuanced conflict between (1) the 'you' who's an interactive participant in this particular relationship and (2) the 'you' who presently requires a lot of receptive, solitary moments within which to integrate into this altered here-and-now. How ought you solve it? Dunno exactly… but probably not by letting the dreamier, more introspective 'you' go unheard.


PISCES (February 19-March 20): Here's a scenario I don't want you to live out this week, Pisces: You're all ready to dive into the duties of the new year ahead, reenergized by the recent holidays (and happy as hell that 2009 is finally behind you!). Though admittedly there are other more leisurely pursuits you'd probably prefer to take on, you've made peace with all the work that's ahead—and rather than engage in too much conversational check-in (and end up with somebody else's fingers in your pie), you just roll up your sleeves and get busy. Only problem is, after having labored for many hours or otherwise made what seemed like a whole bunch of progress, you annoyingly discover (1) you've stepped on someone's toes or overlooked their instructions, (2) you've redundantly replicated something that's already been done, (3) you neglected to ask others with experience for advice and, as a result, missed a key shortcut and unnecessarily did way more than is necessary, or (4) otherwise wasted time and energy by proceeding in isolation instead of communicating with other stakeholders. Please don't allow this to happen to you. A shrewd discussion or two, with you foregoing assumptions and asking lots of informative questions of your pals and teammates, can save you from this wasteful fate.