The Retro-Zone: Part 3 

For the week of February 1-7, 2012.

Daily life marches to an erratic beat this week, and as regular routines bend to unfamiliar rhythms, nervous systems are likely to strain from the stress of trying to adapt and adjust. Expect to be discombobulated, especially as time takes on a noticeable elasticity — some minutes seem to extend forever, while others blow by at the speed of light. Certain situations also seem to have a similar plasticine quality — some relationships feel as deep as the sea, while others seem as if they could disintegrate at the touch. This time distortion, coupled with the ongoing (and soon to be interminable) Mars Retrograde, has the potential to drive the efficient multi-tasker a touch mad, particularly if she is attempting to juggle several equally important missions. The best way to handle the pace, whether it's thrilling or agitating, is to breathe deeply and then to breathe again. And once you can feel your toes, try to remember that no matter how disconcerting the air may feel, it is actually possible to use time warps to your advantage.

The source of this week's irregular pulse stems from the movement of Saturn as well as Neptune. (Oddly, it's not Uranus.) And because Saturn represents the solid ground of reality, and Neptune signifies the fluid stream of consciousness, it's the contrast between their sharply delineated domains that stirs the disturbance in personal and collective psyches. Saturn begins a retrograde phase on February 7 that lasts until June 25, and this week, as it "decelerates" in preparation for its "course correction," a similar slow-down is likely to occur somewhere in your personal life. Saturn is in Libra, which means that some of the deceleration will occur in relationships. For some, that spells relief from constant friction or restlessness. For others, Saturn Retrograde could manifest as increased frustration, particularly when it feels as if others are failing to meet expectations. Be aware: Saturn Retrograde is an opportunity to review relationships both new and old, including and most importantly your relationship with yourself, and to make whatever adjustments are necessary or possible.

The more significant shift is Neptune's entry into Pisces on February 3; it will stay there until 2026. It takes Neptune approximately 165 Earth years to orbit the Sun, which means it transits all twelve Signs of the zodiac during that time. It hasn't been in Pisces since 1848. Neptune is the Ruler of Pisces, and when any planet transits its Home Sign, its qualities are concentrated and amplified. Pisces and Neptune symbolize altered states of consciousness, from the lowest states of drug- and alcohol-addicted states to the ecstatic states of mystical bliss, all driven by the desire to neutralize separation. So it wouldn't be surprising for additive appetites both old and new to be stirred, especially at the beginning of this phase, or for meditation practices to gain increased popularity.

There's no simple remedy for the intensity of this week's astral shifts other than to embrace them: Allow the Mars Retrograde to focus on the details, the Saturn Retrograde to refine your relationships, and Neptune's entry into Pisces to feed your need for spiritual connection.

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

ARIES Right now, your life is a balancing act, and it's going to take mindfulness to stay on track. Make "moderation" your mantra, and then when you can (and it's safe), let yourself go a little wild.

TAURUS Even if the attention feels uncomfortable, give yourself permission to shine, and don't worry about taking up too much space or about what others may think: This is your moment — own it.

GEMINI Of course you're going to say more than you should, and some of it will be inappropriate, but that's no reason to hold back or beat yourself up. Be bold, and when you're out of line, apologize.

CANCER It's really a question of how skillfully you can go with the flow. Yes, that sounds corny, but the truth locked at the core of that cliché has the power to resolve a deep level of anxiety.

LEO The difficult part is learning to trust your intuition despite evidence to the contrary. Gather the facts, but be willing to go deeper than what's obvious when you make your final decision.

VIRGO Resolve the tension by letting go — just release whatever it is you're so certain you are entitled to. Easier said than done, but well worth the effort once you're disengaged.

LIBRA Spend your excess energy wisely and refuse to engage in activities that might encourage a tendency to brood. Be determined to avoid a negative mindset, and you'll avoid the pitfalls of depression.

SCORPIO Be willing to embrace the opposite point of view, and you'll access a solution to your current crisis. You don't have to agree with your opponent; you just need to see it from a fresh perspective.

SAGITTARIUS The secret of your success lies in what you love to do the most — talk. Let your loquacious nature get the best of you and you'll also be your best.

CAPRICORN Believe in the possibility of helpful solutions that will benefit everyone, and you'll embrace the best attitude possible. You may not solve everything, but it will be a great start.

AQUARIUS There's no need to hold back, and every reason to hold forth. Trust your instincts and allow your intuition to guide your process, and you'll make the right moves.

PISCES Embrace your sensitivities, and you'll have a much easier time refining your intuitive skills. Yes, it is intense, but you can handle it.

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