Cynicism vs. Optimism 

For the week of May 13-19, 2009.

The normal rhythms of daily life disappear this week, and in their place, a wide variety of mood swings sets the tone of daily interactions. For some, the absence of the familiar might make it hard to maintain a strong personal center. For others, that same lack could feel like a lot of permission to break free. Yet others are likely to experience the mind-numbing monotony of putting one foot in front of the other without ever getting anywhere. Okay, maybe life this week won't be as dramatic as all of that. But we are in Mercury Retrograde, an astrological cycle that makes it impossible to rely on the regular routines of daily life. And that could be disconcerting, disorienting, and discombobulating.

Mercury began its second retrograde cycle of review on May 7, and will continue to retrace its path until May 30. Mercury Retrograde is always about delays, detours, and snafus related to travel, commerce, and communication. And while it is never a good time to initiate anything new, Mercury Retrograde is always a perfect time to review the details of plans and projects already in motion.

But it's not Mercury that's manipulating the week's moods. We are also in the midst of a Jupiter/Neptune conjunction, a mystical convergence that tends to manifest as a devotion to altruistic, humanitarian ideals. Jupiter symbolizes expanded awareness and the quest for spiritual knowledge. Neptune represents imagination, as well as empathy, sympathy, and receptivity. And when these two planets share the same space, kindness and consideration abound. We like this conjunction, mostly because the world can always use a stronger dose of humanitarian concern — especially right now, at this particular moment in history, when the contractive grip of anxiety snatches the breath from so many. All attempts to think about good solutions are a welcome addition to consciousness, personal and collective.

But this conjunction is not without its shadows. Chiron is exactly conjunct both Jupiter and Neptune. Chiron, nicknamed the "Wounded Healer," symbolizes both the split between instinct and intellect, as well as the potential for healing that schism. On the negative end of the spectrum, its presence could manifest as cynicism born of the recognition of how hard it is to actualize altruism. Yet on the positive end, Chiron's participation could also engender a true optimism that sees the gap between imagination and reality and leaps into action anyway.

Unfortunately, from May 9 to 22, the purity of the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction is sullied by a square from the Sun, a fractious interaction that is likely to provoke excess and extravagance as well as emotional meltdowns, especially if unrealistic expectations aren't met. But this square just as easily builds the muscle necessary to do whatever it takes to turn dreams into reality.

This week, instead of allowing retrograde frustration to determine your mood, use your time constructively. Contemplate how you would make the world a better place to live for yourself, as well as for others.

If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that, too.

ARIES You'll need an even-tempered approach that includes both the biggest possible picture as well as the intricacies of even the smallest details. Find that balance, and you'll handle each situation with skill.

TAURUS You'll have a much easier time handling your responsibilities, personal and professional, if you make the time to prioritize your concerns. Don't be surprised if this process is as simple as a list. Sometimes success really is in the small stuff.

GEMINI Yes, you have to make tough choices. But you are up to the task, especially if you allow yourself to assess the situation dispassionately. I'm not suggesting you disconnect; I'm simply advising you to objectively consider the data.

CANCER Be prepared to feel more than a little overwhelmed. But also be aware, while this state is uncomfortable, it is also temporary. So be patient, bide your time, and trust that relief is on the way.

LEO The focus is still on partnerships, personal and professional, so spend some time figuring out what needs "work" and how you can make any necessary improvements. Remember, "relationship" is best understood as an active process that needs constant conscious participation.

VIRGO Be willing to ask tough questions and you'll be surprised at what you will be able to uncover and discover. This doesn't have to be a cathartic process; it just has to be honest.

LIBRA You're in a deep transformative process, thinking about what the next step should be. Take your time, allow the situation to unfold, and you just might be surprised by the outcome.

SCORPIO Career concerns override other interests, and while you may resent the intrusion of work, these demands don't have to be overwhelming. Handle each situation individually, and you'll keep a good flow.

SAGITTARIUS Volunteer and assist, but also resist the temptation to make promises you can't keep, especially if those promises involve specific deadlines. Your timing could be off and that might create a problem.

CAPRICORN Continue to avoid financial leaps of faith, and instead, concentrate your attention as well as your efforts on strengthening your existing state of affairs. It may not be exciting, but it will be stabilizing.

AQUARIUS Allow yourself to take center stage and don't hold back. A highly charismatic light illuminates all your talents, as it simultaneously catalyzes several unexpected opportunities to shine.

PISCES You are likely to feel a strong internal pull, and while that longing may feel antithetical to social obligations, honor it. You need the rest and relaxation that comes from long hours of quiet contemplation.

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