Return of Mercury Retrograde 

For the week of November 23-29, 2011.

Expect the world to wobble a bit this week, and while some might say it's been wobbling for a while (and they might be right), over the next several days many of us are likely to feel its quivers quite keenly. Rather than be alarmed, be aware. The current challenge being presented by these planetary tremors is figuring out how to discern the shifting terrain of change from the solid ground of certainty — distinctions that won't be easy to make, so don't be dismayed if you're feeling confused. Finding and maintaining clarity will require more than a fair degree of mindfulness, especially as emotional reactions, personal and professional, season interactions with more than a modicum of intensity. As always, kindness and respect for yourself, those you love, and your fellow travelers will act as a powerful soothing balm for frayed nerves and fluttering hearts.

Here's the astrology: The final Mercury Retrograde of the year begins on Thursday, November 24, and lasts through December 13. Mercury Retrograde is all about communication snafus and travel hassles, so if you are traveling, be prepared for a longer-than-usual trek for Thanksgiving. Also (if you can), avoid installing new software or buying new hardware. Don't expect your emails, texts, tweets, or any other kind of messages to go through without a hitch. And if you don't hear back, don't assume that silence is a response. Hit send, again.

But it's the solar eclipse on Friday, November 25, that ramps up the rattles and rolls of routine reality. From an astrological perspective, during a solar eclipse, conscious concerns are overshadowed by unconscious drives; as a result, emotional immediacy tends to overwhelm practical matters. This may not be news, given that we tend to feel the effect of an eclipse six weeks before or after the actual event. And because Uranus, the symbol for startling plot twists, forms a trine to both the Sun and the Moon at the time of the eclipse, there's plenty of potential for sudden shifts in consciousness, moods, or circumstances. For those readers celebrating Thanksgiving, you can expect your holiday feast to be peppered with odd bits of blurts, or, at the opposite extreme, staggeringly long bouts of boring details. Those readers not celebrating the harvest of the year on that particular day can expect the same sort of staccato conversation, with a slightly diminished need for emotional revelation.

As many of us either know or sense, we're on the threshold of a paradigm shift that will play out over the next several years of Uranus/Pluto contacts. As those astral agents of change quicken consciousness and catalyze revolution, each of us will experience the potential for deep and lasting transformation. Future columns will go into that potential in deeper detail as this Uranus/Pluto phase unfolds, but for now try to remember that true transformation occurs one heart at a time. And this week, be thankful for all the hearts that care about the well being of others.

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

ARIES The secret of your success can be found in your ability to blend spontaneity with determination. If you're willing to adjust your vision, the universe will rearrange itself to accommodate your picture of reality.

TAURUS Try not to let financial concerns override your expansive state of mind. Yes, you must continue to stay grounded in practical reality. But it is also beneficial to feed your creativity with optimism and joy.

GEMINI Hold your own despite an overwhelming desire to take care of others, and you'll realize that you don't have to surrender your standards to be effective. Believe in yourself, and you'll inspire others to be independent.

CANCER It's your choice: Brood about all the hard work of preparing for the holidays, or delight in the comfort of friends and family. Sounds simple, but actually relaxing may be harder than you think.

LEO It makes no difference what your medium is; what matters is your message. Sing, write, paint, plant, dance, or act — just do whatever it is you do to fully express your unbounded creativity.

VIRGO Acknowledge what you need to feel safe, and you'll be surprised how the truth will set you free. Don't worry about appearing needy; those you love will appreciate your candor.

LIBRA You're engaged in deep conversation, and while sharing secrets can feel good, be careful you don't say something you might later regret. I'm not suggesting you hold back; I'm simply advising discretion.

SCORPIO Pay attention to finances, but also notice how you value money. What does it mean to you? Is it about power? Pleasure? Security? Be mindful about money and you'll deepen your capacity for abundance.

SAGITTARIUS Sometimes it is all about image, but attempting to control what others see is simply exhausting work, especially if you consider that most of what people see is based on their projections. So rather than struggle with perfection, let it go.

CAPRICORN Try not to let your mind wander into territory you might later regret. Instead, keep yourself on a positive track by envisioning all the plans and projects you are soon to put in motion.

AQUARIUS It's useless to worry about what others think of you if only because most people aren't thinking about anyone other than themselves. Rather than rehearse, relax and share your ideas without any self-conscious hesitation.

PISCES Be prepared for surprising career developments to overshadow any previous concerns about being seen. Let your light pour freely forth, and let its power be dazzling, spectacular, and true.

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