About Dana Gerhardt

A popular columnist with The Mountain Astrologer since 1991, Dana Gerhardt is an internationally respected astrologer. She has lectured extensively and written for astrology publications on several continents. Her ongoing passions are the moon and living the intuitive life. Dana worked for many years in the corporate sector, where she observed the undeniable influence of natural cycles. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude from Occidental College in Los Angeles and did graduate work in literature at Columbia University and CSULA. Dana can be contacted by email.

The Sun enters Taurus April 19


What new initiatives did you launch last month while the Sun was in Aries?
Taurus is the time to develop, stabilize, or complete
whatever you began in the last solar month

It was the opening hour of my natural time workshop. Terri, sitting in the front row, frowned. Like many eager to learn about natural cycles, she took lots of notes and asked urgent questions. She wanted to get it right. But when I asked her to apply the solar cycle to her own life, her enthusiasm evaporated. After a few minutes, she raised her hand.

“What if you didn’t start anything in Aries? What should your project be for Taurus? Have you ruined things if you slept through the initiating month?” I understood. I’ve had those years when I didn’t feel particularly daring or heroic in Aries. Yet there was always something that made the Aries month different from the Pisces one before it and the Taurus one that followed. It was this “different thing” that represented each year’s new seed.

I asked Terri a few questions. Eventually it came out that she’d quit smoking during the weeks the Sun was in Aries. “Wow!” The room broke into applause. Terri blushed, though she was still frowning. “Isn’t that pretty pathetic? I mean where’s the heroism in that?”

Quitting cigarettes or eating less sugar or taking a taxi cab for the first time may not seem like heroic acts. Yet the truth is few of us actually march off to war, climb mountains, or rescue cats from burning buildings during the Aries weeks. We don’t launch life-changing initiatives every year. Yet something in us will leap forward. And that’s what we need to honor:  the hero’s archetype—however it is expressing itself through us.

Often, like Terri, we just don’t see it. That day, she needed convincing. A workshop participant raised her hand, “I’ve heard that quitting cigarettes can be as tough as quitting heroin. Sounds heroic to me!” Another offered, “I still remember the day when I quit. That was twenty years ago.  Isn’t something you remember that long an important initiative?”

Terri brightened at the group’s validation. Still, she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do now in Taurus. “Am I just supposed to keep quitting cigarettes during Taurus? That sounds dumb.” Stabilizing our heroic efforts is important and something the Taurus energy can help us to achieve. But rarely do we plan the Sun’s work. We need to enter each of its twelve months with awareness, willing to see what wants to evolve. That way we can keep ourselves moving in the right direction.

“Sometimes when the Sun changes signs all you need to do is ask that very question: what am I supposed to do now? It’s like a Zen koan, a question that succeeds not so much by answering it, as by having it in mind. The work of one zodiac season always leads naturally to the work of the next. How that happens is each month’s mystery.” Terri looked dubious, but promised to give me a report.

A month later Terri called. She’d been reading in a spiritual book about the destructive power of negative mind states. She recognized herself in that, in particular, her habit of anger. In fact, after she’d quit smoking, her anger seemed even more pronounced. She watched with horror as she snapped at her children and said cruel words to her mate. She urgently wanted to change, but how? “Then it hit me,” she said. “I had successfully quit smoking. If I could give up that habit, couldn’t I do the same with my angry outbursts?” She went to work with determination and had a profound Taurus season. Several months later, she called me again. “I’m so much happier. Things that would have made me angry just slip by me now. I’ve wanted this for years… and I owe it all to that productive Taurus season. Amazing!”

May the awareness of your Taurus season be just as profound and your activity just as productive!

If you’d like to explore the archetypes in even greater depth, if you like to journal and/or muse on the positions of the Sun and Moon, you may enjoy my enrolling in my Moon workshop (by snail-mail or email). It’s designed to deepen your relationship with the guardians of natural time, the Sun, the Moon, the zodiac… and you!


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Full Moon Medicine


Full Moons can be busy times–especially during a lunar eclipse. If you’re feeling tired and a bit off balance, you may be suffering from “energy retention,” a condition much like water retention (which is also common during Full Moons). With energy retention, the currents or flows in your field seem to expand without actually going anywhere. It can feel like you just ate a big meal, stuffed and lethargic–and, when there’s an eclipse, you might feel jittery on top of that! If you find yourself in this condition, there’s a simple remedy: Fill your inner self with moonlight.  It has the power to calm soothe and dissolve the tension.

Your imagination and your breath are all that you need.  As you draw breath inward, imagine that moonlight is also drawing into the internal spaces of your body. It helps to do this slowly.  If you have an area of your body that’s congested, in pain, or otherwise weakened, draw moonlight here.  Another  great practice is to fill your feet with this healing light.  Your feet represent precious soul space in your body.  They have connections with every other part of your body’s temple.  Bring moonlight into your feet and notice how the entire inner space gets charged. Or just keep filling yourself.  Draw the light all the way to the top of your head.  Do whatever will be most healing for you now.  Let the mind cool.

Filling with this wonderful medicine while you’re bathing  in outer moonlight usually improves the experience–but sometimes during eclipses, the energy is too much. Experiment. Is this practice more profound if you’re outdoors or indoors? Be sure to notice how you feel before your moon-working.  Notice how you feel after.  Move slowly. Allow the energy find its natural flow again.

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Conscious Uncoupling


I’m not a fan of celebrity astrology and the way it presumes to know all about the inner lives of famous strangers. Nor do I find Gwyneth Paltrow as obnoxious as many seem to. She’s a Libran with a Pisces Ascendant. Much like the princess sleeping on a pea, she’s sensitive to what’s not harmonious. Her commitment to living a refined and beautiful life suits her chart—as does her much hated blog called “Goop,” which offers the kind of tips that Marie Antoinette might have given to peasants.

But I was tickled by her use of the phrase “conscious uncoupling” to describe her split from husband Chris Martin, as that suits her chart too. Virgo is on the cusp of Gwyneth’s 7th house of partnership. Its ruler—Gwyneth’s Mercury in Libra—has been and continues to be transited by the great cultural change maker, the Uranus/Pluto square. Mercury in Libra is a thoughtful planet. It couldn’t bear anything harsh as “divorce”—it would want to “consciously uncouple.” The family is currently on vacation together, celebrating this new shift.

The Uranus/Pluto square affects the culture—but it also touches the charts of many people. Gwyneth’s transit is a teaching for how to understand our own. If one of your planets is getting a strong transit, consider what that planet means, how it likes to behave in its sign and house—and don’t forget to notice which house(s) it rules. The Uranus/Pluto square occurs seven times between 2012 and 2015; in fact, it’s exact again soon, during the week of April 20.  Check your charts! Look for planets between 11 and 13 degrees of cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn).


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Calling in the Aries New Moon


It’s another New Moon: when the magically minded make wishes and astrologers attempt to divine this cycle’s intentions. The wishes you make now may indeed be super-powered, but if you don’t have a strong relationship with the archetypes, don’t expect special favors. If you rarely go hiking with your wild Uncle George, don’t expect him to take you sky-diving. New Moons are potent times to forge alliances with the gods. Visit the invisible world. Humans have been rendezvousing with these archetypes for thousands of years. When you call out to the gods, they do respond!

Calling Aries

Aries never looks before he leaps. His mother never cautioned, “If you run with a stick you’ll poke an eye out!” At six, he challenged bullies twice his size. At sixteen he built his castle; he made the ceilings tall as sequoia trees. He strung an acrobat’s tightrope from room to room—sixty feet up, no net below. Now that he’s much older, he flies a hang-glider from the bedroom to the library, where there are books everywhere. Biographies and autobiographies—all about him: how he crossed the Alps with Hannibal, wrestled grizzlies, escaped from pirates; he’s even been to the Moon.

Aries is popular with the ladies—the celestial ladies. They guide his feet up snow-drenched mountains, fling trees to block his enemies; they send magic rope, golden eagles and unbeatable swords his way, just in the nick of time. Ask them why they take such good care of him and you don’t get the usual answers. He’s handsome, of course, dripping with youthful enthusiasm. He’s got strength to die for. Sexy too. But it’s his heart they swear they love. So pure. Whatever he does, he believes in.

“I wasn’t always this way,” he confesses. “I was reckless, an egomaniac. Until I burnt my house down while playing with fire. I spent the whole night studying the flames. By morning, I had learned its language. Fire leaps up with love, you know; it has more secrets than a forest of trees. If you can draw it into your heart and contain it, you’ll achieve impossible things.”

With Aries, “self” and “doing” are everything. Aries wants you to do yourself as though you were a verb. Call him in with some positive narcissism. I did not know what this meant until I relinquished my dislike of Aries people. Zodiac aversions arise when, out of the countless people you find annoying, you discover two or three share the same sign. This entitles you to roll your eyes and look knowingly whenever that sign is mentioned—until, as a spiritual person, you learn that everyone you dislike is a reflection of yourself. You resolve to appreciate that sign’s virtues, but keep coming up with more reasons to dislike it. Then one day you stumble across the thing you can’t do, and you realize those fill-in-the-blank-zodiacpeople can do it without a second thought.

My mother is an Aries. A former boyfriend was an Aries. That co-worker I tangled with in 1991 was an Aries too. Despite their sunny, inspiring nature and boundless enthusiasm, I’ve found Aries people can be rough and reckless—Stanley Kowalski brutes to my faint-hearted Blanche DuBois. Their ruling planet Mars connects them to their passions, so they compete, strike, and leap without being braked by thought. I may say I’d like to do something for months, even years before I do it (if I do it). I like to think about my actions, have discussions with friends in town, imagine strategies, consider the consequences, fantasize the rewards. But Aries people will just go off and do it. They’ll even skip the conversations with friends. (This is what makes them chaotic and unpredictable.)

But then one year I called on Aries for help and something new got into me. I had a writing project that had been languishing for months. The next day Aries startled me out of bed and sent me into my office where I just started writing. I had no plan. I simply showed up at my computer and started doing. Four days later, I had the entire project designed. I was delighted, of course, but also amazed at the creativity that had been inside of me, waiting to come out. Ah, so that’s what it means to discover yourself through action—the Aries way!

Aries’ Response

Waiting for Aries to appear is the fun part. No way can I predict his entrance. But it will likely be full of passion and energy—so do be careful when driving, crossing streets, starting political discussions, or working with knives. Aries likes to sneak up on you and yell “Surprise!” So be on the lookout. You might find him in the garden bursting with new colors and growth. You might hear him in the treetops singing a joyful song. If a sexy red dress calls to you from that little shop around the corner, it could be Aries trying to get you to have a little more fun. He might strike as a sudden desire for “something more.” He might rise you up off the couch one day, ready to cut through boredom, fear, useless anger, self-doubt, or the self-image that no longer fits. You may be surprised at your new daring. Don’t worry if you know exactly where you’re going. Just go!

If you’d like to explore the archetypes in even greater depth, if you like to journal and/or muse on the positions of the Sun and Moon, you may enjoy my enrolling in my Moon workshop (by snail-mail or email). It’s designed to deepen your relationship with the guardians of natural time, the Sun, the Moon, the zodiac… and you!

© 2014 Dana Gerhardt
All rights reserved

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Spring Equinox is coming


Spring will soon arrive. March 20 brings the Equinox—that pivotal moment in the year when daylight equals the dark.  Stand anywhere on Earth that day and you’ll see the Sun rise exactly East and set exactly West. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Equinox is a sign that our strange winter is finally over.  It’s Spring—time to break out and break through! Across my garden I see the signs. Hyacinths and daffodils are poking their heads above ground. Branches that have looked dead for months now sprout with new life. The birds are getting busier. While the Pisces New Moon “closed the circle” by inviting us to reflect on the past year, the Sun entering Aries encourages us to look forward into the future.

Aries energy is Ram energy: assertive, enthusiastic, initiatory, and optimistic.  This is just the energy we need to spring forward! First in the Zodiac, Aries guides the other signs on yet another round of adventures into unexplored territory. Aries, in fact, is the hero of the individuation journey as it unfolds through all 12 signs. Shaking off the strictures of the past, we follow jaunty Aries’ example, inspired to take up challenges and bring cherished dreams to fruition.  Wherever Aries falls in your natal chart is that place where you can turn for renewal and rebirth.

If Aries is in your 1st house, you may experience renewal through re-connecting with your unique sense of self. In the 2nd, you may want to initiate a new financial plan, or touch base with your core values. In the 3rd, Aries may feel re-energized through putting thoughts into writing or speech. In the 4th, Aries is reborn through spring cleaning, redecorating, or even moving. Aries receives inspiration in the 5th house through creative expression, or through rediscovery of one’s inner child. In the sixth house, Aries gets a fresh start by taking up a new health regimen, or reorganizing the office. In the 7th, relationships are the medium of rebirth, as Aries faces “the other,” while in the 8th house Aries mines new energy from the depths of the unconscious. In the 9th house, Aries is reinvigorated by a book of spiritual teachings, or a philosophical truth that puts life into perspective. In the 10th house, Aries leaps headfirst into tackling new career objectives. In the 11th house, it is through commitment to a social cause that promises renewal. And,  finally, in the 12th house, Aries is reborn through dissolution into universal consciousness, diving deep into the ocean of bliss, then emerging reborn.

The old myths teach us an important lesson about moving forward: don’t look back. In the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the underworld, for instance, Orpheus finally wins permission from Hades, lord of the dead, to rescue his new bride Eurydice from the arms of death. Yet if he should look back, he is told, Eurydice must return to the underworld for eternity. Tragically, Orpheus is unable to follow this advice, and, on the verge of emerging from the depths, he looks back and loses her forever. The lesson in this, I think, is that just when we have committed to moving forward in a new direction, we are tempted by doubt, looking backwards into the past with nostalgia and regret  – yet in the process undermining our faith in our newfound purpose.

To everything there is a season, as it says in the Bible.  Thus while there is a time to reflect upon and learn from the past, there comes another time when, prompted by the hand of fate at our backs, we must move forward with the evolving forces of life.  Now is the appointed time in the astrological year for embracing the future.

Join Enroll in my monthly Moon workshop, to get an even deeper connection to the Sun’s annual cycle!  Let the gifts of each sign energize your year.

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The Sleeping Goddess


It’s the last Full Moon before spring.  The weather is changing and changeable. Maybe it’s too cold  to sit out under the Moon. Or it’s cloudy. Here’s a lovely indoor Full Moon practice: as you drift off to sleep, become a sleeping goddess.. for the Moon of course is not just that round orb in the sky. She is the Great Mother. She lives within us always, but is especially close during Full Moons.  The picture above is a replica of the sleeping goddess of Malta, about whom history knows little, but your subconscious may already know her.  As you drift off to sleep on the night of the Full Moon (and this is sometimes hard, as many of us are kept awake by Full Moons!), imagine yourself becoming a sleeping goddess. If you lie on your right side as the goddess of Malta does, you’ll energize your moon channel, empowering it to do the Moon’s nightly chores while you sleep.

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The Retrograde Olympics


The weather was wrong. Hotels weren’t ready. The water was scary. The stadiums were empty. Even the uniforms looked strange. That the fifth Olympic ring malfunctioned in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics was perhaps a wink from Mercury himself, letting us know that we were in for some hijinks. This year’s Olympics had the bad fortune to synchronize with Mercury’s retrograde and the approaching shadow of Mars doing the same.

There were the typical upsets and snafus we expect from retrogrades. Equipment failures. Sudden tough patches of snow. Snowboarder Shaun White was one of several top athletes who failed to make the podium. The Russian hockey team was eliminated before the finals. Norwegian papers called their team’s performance the worst debacle in the county’s sports history. During an interview after failing to make the finals, skier Bodie Miller looked genuinely puzzled—the conditions were so different from what he trained for; he wondered if he was overthinking things.

The Olympics offered an exquisite stage for the same kind of  dramas we all have to contend with during retrogrades, albeit with lower stakes. But given that we’ve got another two and a half months of Mars retrograde, it’s worth reviewing what the Olympics taught us. First, and most importantly, we learned that retrogrades aren’t universally awful. They’re just a sign of unstable conditions. Things don’t go as expected. And that can be a good thing too. Many lesser known athletes were ecstatic with performances of personal bests. The young figure skating gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova was clearly in the retrograde flow zone.  Overthinking doesn’t work during retrogrades. We have to surrender to the moment, and in that surrender, we might find greatness too.

Retrogrades are important periods for pushing beyond our comfort zones. Whatever events they bring—they stretch us. And while more typically we groan whenever another retrograde begins, we should also, perhaps, be a little delighted. We should know that we’re going to be tested. It’s the retrogrades of our life that have made us strong.  And most of all, we should remember to keep a sense of humor, which is just what the Russian hosts did in the closing ceremony, when the fifth ring winked.

Mars is retrograde from March 1 to May 19.


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Calling in the Pisces New Moon


The wishes you make now may indeed be super-powered, but if you don’t have a strong relationship with the archetypes, don’t expect special favors. If you rarely sip tea with your quirky neighborhood psychic, don’t expect her to throw rings of protection around your house. New Moons are potent times to forge alliances with the gods. Visit the invisible world. Bow and open yourself to their touch. Make an offering. Humans have been rendezvousing with these archetypes for thousands of years. When you call out to the gods, they do respond!

Calling Pisces

Pisces plays the mandolin and wears sky blue shirts that smell like lavender or sometimes roses. When he visits, you might hear snow melting. Tulips and daffodils poke their heads above ground to greet him, while starlings dream of their future: finding a soul mate, nest-building, teaching their young to fly. Pisces’ mother used to worry about him. He’d spend long hours alone in his room. Whenever she pressed her ear to the door, holding a bowl of soup or grilled cheese sandwiches, she would hear strange voices, sometimes sobbing, maybe a violin, or a trilling bird. One year he drew a thousand portraits of clouds. Next year he took up face painting, until every kid in the neighborhood had become twelve fantastic animals. The year after that he spoke just one word: “Ah.” He studied poetry and took long naps in college. Later he tried the corporate world, but missed too many meetings. One day he kidnapped the shipping department and took them to a matinee just before Fed-Ex arrived.

Pisces says that life’s too short and there’s important non-work to do. “Each day listen to your desires and follow them exclusively. That’s the wisdom of flow.” I’m suspicious: “How would anything get done?” His eyes grow wide and mirthful, as if to say “You’ll see when you finally try it!” I’d like to, for when I spend time with Pisces, my worries exhaust into a peaceful sigh, like petals releasing from a tired rose. At night Pisces tells me to sit in a dark room with a single candle for at least two hours. If I stay there long enough, I don’t know who I am anymore. Yet my heart grows as big as the world.

Let your heart likewise expand this cycle. Let your imagination run free. Business can take care of itself. The cherry trees are in bloom. You might be yearning for a little poetry or the delicious escape of a movie marathon. You may get lost in the sound of a symphony or the gentle touch of silk. Can you let yourself drift and dream? Soon enough the Equinox will be calling you to action. Next month brings the Warrior’s New Moon. Prepare now by first drawing closer to your soul.

If you stir dirt into a glass of water, it gets murky. But if the glass sits for awhile, the dirt will settle and the water will clear. Something similar happens to the mind in meditation, which is another fine way to meet this New Moon. Sit. Come to stillness. Wait at Pisces’ door like an initiate at the gates of a great teacher. Without expectations, enter the void. This is the end of the zodiac; all signs are contained within it. Perhaps you can sense this, how harmoniously Pisces holds everything and dissolves everything, how this readies us for the Aries adventures to come.

Of course, no matter how dreamy we might like our lives to be, there’s always some unpleasantness. Sure as there are fairies making everything right, there are complainers making everything wrong. How do we respond? Pisces can inspire our most saintly self—or our most victimized. When you’re unconscious of its gifts, Pisces will make you whine: “Poor me!” or “Why me?” Remember that unhappy dinner last night? Maybe the sesame chicken was too dry. Maybe the salad dressing was bottled instead of fresh. Or maybe your dinner date never showed up. Pisces only wants you to understand that everything was just perfect.

Pisces’ Response

Waiting for Pisces to appear is the fun part. No way can I predict his costume. But if you find yourself wandering into rooms for reasons you forgot, if you feel the urge to float for hours in the bathtub, or to take a long drive to nowhere, Pisces may be present, trying to get you to pause, listen, and come into this moment, where he promises you’ll find everything. Pay attention to your nightly dreams. Listen to your daytime fantasies. These are the expressions of your soul. Can you read their language? In the weeks ahead, you might find yourself suddenly weeping, overwhelmed with compassion, for the orphans in Kabul, the Libyan widow, the bankrupt yoga teacher, or the tense soldier prowling volatile streets on the other side of the world. This cycle may we all find, on our fragile spinning globe some grace, some power, the hand of sweet guidance. Call it faith or hope; both belong to Pisces. And let’s join with Swami Beyondananda in his prayer to the hot dog vendor:  “Make me one with everything.”

If you’d like to explore the archetypes in even greater depth, if you like to journal and/or muse on the positions of the Sun and Moon, you may enjoy my enrolling in my Moon workshop (by snail-mail or email). It’s designed to deepen your relationship with the guardians of natural time, the Sun, the Moon, and the zodiac.

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We’re entering Pisces soon!


The Sun–the source of our vitality–enters Pisces on February 18.  Pisces is the sign of the Dreamer, the Artist, and the Mystic.  The solar Pisces month encourages us to renew our vitality by nourishing these parts of ourselves. Grant some “me time” to the inner dreamer, artist, or mystic. These characters are most alive, perhaps, in the affairs of the house where Pisces falls in your chart.  But you don’t need to be that precise. Just vow this month to face the sky with your Mystic self.  Clear from your mind how astronomers have named the stars or astrologers have interpreted the planets.  Simply enter the night and see if there is a twinkling light—a star or planet–that catches your notice.  Settle your mind and ask:  “Do you have a message for me?”

The answer may come in words.  Or it may not.  It may come as a feeling, a sensation, a new conviction.  It may come immediately or hours later.  Your work is simply to be receptive and reverent.  Thank the sky by agreeing to bring this message into your world—through a new decision or action, a changed perspective, an inspiration you share with another.  You may even want to name your star and commune with it throughout the month.

Working this way requires a special dreamy kind of clarity.  Your conscious mind may be suspicious. It might diminish your reverence by accusing you of just pretending. The very phrase “just pretending” reveals how our culture typically views Pisces perception. As children, before we heard this phrase, we were wiser. We knew that we had this special ability. We could flow through our days like mermaids through water. We knew how to listen to  stars and how to get help from the fairies whenever we needed it most.  This is the month to remember all that.

If you’d like to harmonize with the Sun throughout the year, you may enjoy my enrolling in my Moon workshop (by snail-mail or email). It’s designed to deepen your relationship with the guardians of natural time, the Sun, the Moon, and the zodiac.

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Precious Hours Ahead


We get such a brief window of retrograde-free time, I’m telling you way in advance, so you can mark your calendar for the next New Moon, when we get a precious twenty-four hours that are retrograde-free. On Friday, February 28, it’s a New Moon, no personal planets are retrograde, and aspects between many of the planets are lovely. Usually we would say a moment like this is great for launching important projects. But whatever starts now will quickly meet the frustrations and/or general slowing-down of Mars, who goes retrograde on March 1.

So maybe we should rather spend the coming Pisces New Moon in luxurious dreamtime. The wise know that the gift of unstructured time brings great rewards. If we get quiet enough, we may get a sudden vision of how best to proceed. So schedule that Friday for something decadently romantic and self-nourishing, as is appropriate for Pisces. Just imagine, two whole weeks to plan that!

2014 is one of those years that begins with a string of retrogrades, first Venus, then Mercury, now Mars. With retrogrades, our progress struggles forward through invisible molasses. Or what has long been simmering on the back burner chooses now to boil over. A metaphorical boulder may suddenly block the road.

But retrogrades can only expose weaknesses that have been brewing for a while. So that’s what this time is good for—fixing what’s shoddy or weak. Verbs with the prefix “re” indicate where our efforts are best directed. We need to repair, renew, return, review, revise, reorganize, remember, revisit, or refrigerate (as in, chill out). Approached this way, retrogrades can strengthen us and our projects. So for this slow start to 2014, perhaps we should be grateful.

Mercury stations direct on February 28 at 9:00 am EST. Mars goes retrograde on March 1 at 11:24 am EST.

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