The Aquarium Age 

For the week of December 31-January 6.

2009 is a paradox: At the stroke of midnight, the planets promote pure individualism, with an almost singular concentration on common sense as the key to personal success. Yet the astral emphasis also is on community as the most important means of facing personal as well as collective challenges. It's a new twist on the needs of the one versus the needs of the many. A twist that leaves no doubt that the needs of the one are the needs of the many, for as the year unfolds, communal effort will emerge as the remedy of choice for personal and collective difficulties.

The good news and the bad news is that all year long a plethora of surprising plot twists continues to turn previously solid ground topsy-turvy. Some of the shifts are welcome, but the constant barrage of change triggers resistance. No one, no matter how committed to change, thrives in a constant state of uncertainty — nervous systems weren't meant to sustain adrenalin super surges for extended periods. And that resistance, personal as well as collective, is sure to turn into power struggles, which means discord on all sorts of levels — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual — is likely.

All year long, the Saturn/Uranus opposition continues to confront the status quo. The second exact opposition is on February 5, two weeks after the inauguration, two weeks into the new administration, and ten days after a January 26 solar eclipse that is sure to provide hidden information about just how bad the economic situation is. Oddly, many of us already assume it's much worse than previously acknowledged, which only exacerbates fear and anxiety about the future.

Fortunately, planetary signatures for 2009 signal the potential for hard work tempered by empathy and insight. The year begins with five planets in Capricorn — Pluto, Mars, the Sun, Jupiter, and Mercury — a sign thoroughly committed to doing whatever it takes, including hands-on hard work, to accomplish its goals. Those five planets are divided into two sets of conjunctions. From January 1 to 6, a Mars/Pluto conjunction continues to trigger issues of power and control, so if at all possible continue to refuse to use cruel or brutal tactics. At the opening of the New Year, this volatile conjunction is softened by a sextile from the Moon, in Pisces, a positive interaction that offers the potential for genuine empathy. Also during those dates, a Mercury/Jupiter conjunction provides the solid ground of common sense. Use this positive energy to set your intentions for the year — realistic yet lofty goals that will strengthen your sense of purpose.

Jupiter enters Aquarius on January 5, where it will spend the next year amplifying the need for communal cooperation, with an expansive reach that enhances respect for diverse opinions. Jupiter's presence in Aquarius also will add a touch of joy to our efforts to work together.

Fortunately, the new president has a lot of experience as a community organizer, a skill set that will prove invaluable throughout 2009 and the years ahead. A community is only as strong as its individual members, and its members are only as strong as the community. Sounds simple and even a little corny, but the thing about clichés is that they are true. Community service as we all know often requires sacrifice, so it might be helpful to know that the root meaning of "sacrifice" is "to make sacred." Something we might all be glad to do in the days ahead.

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

Aries March 21-April l9

It's the perfect year to release the need for unnecessary drama related to your career. Commit, instead, to steady progress that manifests as financial prosperity.

Taurus April 20-May 20

Be concerned with establishing and maintaining your professional boundaries, but also focus on how you can experience greater ease at simply being yourself.

Gemini May 21-June 21

You're in the midst of so many changes it's impossible to handle all of them gracefully, but that's no reason to freak out. Let the dust settle and you'll gain a new level of composure.

Cancer June 22-July 22

You're overwhelmed by a sense of responsibility to significant others, but your capacity to care doesn't have to be a burden. Honor your needs first, and then address the needs of others.

Leo July 23-August 22

Seek the recognition you deserve, but be prepared to work harder than you can imagine. And while you may grieve the loss of spare time, you'll be more than pleased with the fruit of your labor.

Virgo August 23-September 22

Believe in yourself, and that confidence will be your strength and protection. Remember, your destiny is in your hands, so rather than feel battered by fate, get to work.

Libra September 23-October 22

If you recognize rather than reject your need to belong, you'll notice just how deep that desire is in all of us. Embracing your sensitivity will only make you stronger.

Scorpio October 23-November 21

2009 is the year to sing your own praises. After all, you've accomplished a great deal and you deserve recognition for your efforts.

Sagittarius November 22-December 21

The focus is on transforming your sense of your value. Whether the arena is financial or psychological, be willing to plumb the depths to find the treasure.

Capricorn December 22-January 19

The company of friends and family will lighten a sense of duty and obligation. Allow yourself the sweet moments — they will refresh your spirit and renew your soul.

Aquarius January 20-February 18

There's no need to be shy. Jupiter's presence in your sign expands your perspective on a variety of subjects and encourages your whole-hearted participation in life.

Pisces February 19-March 20

It's a crystallization process that occurs over time, and as each piece of the puzzle solidifies, you'll feel greater clarity and certainty about your next step.

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