Like So Many Popping Corks 

For the week of December 29, 2010-January 4, 2011.

It's a hard week that ends an even harder year, so before you lose yourself in bacchanalian revels on New Year's Eve, take more than a moment to look back and take stock. Unfortunately, for many of us, reflecting on what the year has wrought won't be easy. It was an uncommonly intense year, which is why New Year resolutions (no matter how dramatic the promises of behavior modification might be) are certain to resemble pleas for help rather than a list of goals. And because even the air feels edgy this week, corks of all kinds — not just champagne — are certain to pop, as you, someone you love, or complete strangers find it impossible to contain potent feelings previously held at bay.

As we look back, the visual icons for 2010 won't be Tea Party placards. Smoke belching from a frozen volcano and oil leaking from a rupture on the ocean floor are much better symbols for what the planet and her inhabitants could no longer hold back. As emotions, yours or others, continue to erupt over the course of the next several days, try to keep in mind that as startling as those outbursts may be, they are actually in keeping with the tone of the year. For those not setting the air on fire, breathing is the best solution for tension. One other bit of help: Mercury goes Direct on December 30.

Several astral forces contribute to the intensity of the week, but the hard edge is provided by a Mars/Saturn square. This is a pernicious interaction that leans toward harsh, bitter criticism. Be aware: Much of the abuse generated by this square is likely to be a defensive mechanism disguised as a preemptive strike — as in "I'll get you before you get me." Avoid getting sucked into a vortex of negative energy. Vengeance, while immediately gratifying, solves nothing. Simply refuse to engage in negative interactions of any kind. By next week, the worst of this square will be behind us.

We are also caught between two eclipses, a position that contributes to the wonk of the week. The solstice lunar eclipse put a period at the end of two years of Saturn/Uranus oppositions in the Mutable Signs of Virgo and Pisces. The solstice eclipse occurred at the same degree as the final exact contact in that series of oppositions; it also took place in Mutable Signs. The solar eclipse on January 4, 2011, occurs in Capricorn, a Cardinal Sign.

Mutable Signs are the peacemakers of the zodiac. Cardinal Signs are the initiators. And when they demand action, compromise often takes a back seat. This is not the stubborn resistance of a Fixed Sign. It's simply an irrepressible need to move. Jupiter and Uranus both enter Cardinal Signs early in 2011. What's important to recognize, now, on the threshold of the coming year, is how this week presages the transition from a Mutable to a Cardinal frequency. Pay particular attention to what you can no longer tolerate or pretend to tolerate.

It's been a hard year, not without its growth opportunities, but difficult nevertheless. Don't allow the last days of the voyage to harden your heart. As you navigate the intensity, let compassion be your compass, and let it guide you safely to the shores of kindness.

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

ARIES The challenge this week is figuring out how to avoid blame or blaming. Neither give nor accept a pointed finger; instead, do all that's necessary to maintain a neutral stance.

TAURUS Heartfelt exchanges with significant others offer opportunities for healing, but you must be willing to put aside pride and be humble. This isn't about being submissive; it's about being sincere.

GEMINI Rather than dwell on what isn't working, concentrate on what is. Apply your innate ability to turn lead into gold and you'll create a positive and practical solution.

CANCER It looks like a partnership problem, but at the core this is about your relationship with yourself. Take the time to get in touch with what you really want and need.

LEO A little restraint goes a long way, especially when it comes to demands on others for time and attention. You don't have to disappear, but it would be wise to practice moderation.

VIRGO Don't use "tough love" as a self-righteous excuse to blow off steam. If you are going to apply a stern attitude, make sure the situation merits it.

LIBRA As disruption continues to ripple across the surface of your psychic pond, your first instinct is to try to control it — but that's not possible. The only choice is surrendering your attachment to the outcome.

SCORPIO Give yourself permission to be uncomfortable with certain circumstances and you'll avoid projecting your worst thoughts onto situations that are confusing and out of your control.

SAGITTARIUS If you can refrain from spending more than you have, you could be surprised by waves of happy feelings. Who knows? You might create a solvent New Year.

CAPRICORN The secret to your success is believing in yourself and trusting in your ability to problem solve. This is your gift — finding solutions and then integrating those ideas into action.

AQUARIUS Yes, the details are important, but worrying over them will only make you anxious and tense. Trust in the process and do whatever it is you do to relax.

PISCES The old adage is "neither a borrower nor a lender be." But you're too empathetic to withhold help when it is needed. Don't despair — a generous heart is a valuable gift.

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