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© 2009 by Richard Nolle
last revised NOV 30, 2009

If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget about it. This is real astrology for the real world. If it's real astrology for yourself that you want, you can get it by phone or in print. And if you need help deciphering the astrological glyphs in the graphics accompanying this article, see Astroglyphs: Astrological Symbols Guide. Please note: this forecast is expressed in terms of Universal Time (UT). Also please be aware that, while I never change a forecast once it's published, I do post errata to acknowledge typographical errors and the like.

Everything you need for better future and success has already been written.
-- Henri Frederic Amiel

Synodic Cycle of MarsThere are basically four major story lines to December, and they stem from four principal celestial themes: the Mars Maximum, the Saturn-Pluto square, the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction and the SuperMoon lunar eclipse. Each of these is a theme that’s been working for some time now already, and each carries into 2010. On top of all that, the Mercury Maximum (intersolar cycle) begins on the 18th, and also carries into next year. In short, December is something of a preview of the year to come.

If you’ve been following the news at all these past couple months, then you’ve seen ample evidence of the Mars Maximum cycle that began on September 23 – and which grows in intensity throughout December and into the new year. Specifically, September 23 was the very day that Presidents Obama and Sarkozy joined with Prime Minister Brown to denounce Iran’s “secret” nuclear plant. Since then, Iran has continued to defy and delay UN calls for an end to its nuclear enrichment program. Tensions with the West have escalated steadily in the process, with threats of military action on both sides.

That’s Mars Max for you, as I’ve said: heat, fire, danger and conflict literally and figuratively; elevated tension, the kind of atmosphere that cultivates inflamed passions, hot tempers and rash, even violent action - from interpersonal violence to terrorist atrocities to large scale military conflict. All these things have been on the rise since the current Mars Maximum began in September. They get more intense this month, which the Red Planet spends within just two degrees of its retrograde station on the 20th.

Mars Max is the close pass between Mars and Earth, the cycle when all things relating to the Red Planet grow in our lives as the planet itself grows bigger and brighter in our skies at night. This isn’t happening only ‘out there’ in the heavens or in the sphere of geopolitics. It’s also taking place within us and in the people around us. Again, look to the headlines from the last couple months to get your bearings. Human viciousness is never in terribly short supply, but nobody not in a coma can fail to recognize that depravity is especially abundant since the current Mars Max cycle got underway.

DEC 20, 2009 Mars Station (Retrograde)Take the November 5 Ft. Hood massacre for example, the November 26 college shooting in Pecs, Hungary; the Thanksgiving Day family massacre in Jupiter FL or the November 28 Russian train disaster (which authorities ascribe to a terrorist bomb attack); or the October 20 "honor killing" in Phoenix AZ in which an Iraqi immigrant ran down his daughter (and her boyfriend’s mother) because his daughter had become "too westernized". Much as we’d like to, we can’t forget any number of similarly heinous instances, including the October 24 Richmond CA high school homecoming gang rape, the October 12 Deerfield Beach FL attack in which five teenagers deliberately set a 15-year-old boy on fire, the November rape and murder of five-year-old Shaniya Davis in Sanford NC . . . you get the picture.

Knowing that the ugly side of human nature lies just under a thin veneer of civility, and that more predators than usual are on the prowl under the aegis of Mars Max, this is a time to be safety conscious, to rein in the animal spirits within and channel them productively rather than letting them loose on anyone who gets your goat. If people are cranky, if you’re short tempered too, realize that this is just the nature of the time/space field for now, and do your best to ride it out with as little drama and damage as possible. Realize too that this has months yet to go, so get a grip.

Remember that this is a worldwide and ongoing phenomenon, being planetary in scale and scope as well as extended in time (lasting until May 19, 2010). India, Pakistan and Afghanistan fall right under the Mars meridian line for the January 29 Sun-Mars alignment, the peak of the Mars Max cycle. The Rocky Mountains from Canada into the US (along with western Mexico) are on the Mars anti-meridian. These are some but not all of the focal zones for the alignment, and they may well be focal points for some of its more dramatic manifestations. But there are a great many other Mars moments in the cycle as a whole, and so these won’t be the only locales for Red Planet uproars.

Apart from the direct impact of the fires, clashes, crashes and explosions that are par for the course under this sort of Mars close pass, some such incidents can raise the possibility of a disruption in the oil and natural gas supply chain - which in turn can shock the financial markets and set investors and institutions in a mad dash for the exits. (The fact that Iran’s nuclear standoff was emphasized when the current Mars cycle began probably indicates that it will play a part in disruptions to the petroleum economy and financial system in general.)

Since Mars spends the whole month within just a couple degrees of its December 20 retrograde station, I figure that we’re in for a run of Red Planet manifestations that extends on into the new year. That said, there are a few pointers to potentially extreme manifestations. These include the Mars semisquare to Saturn on the 5th and 27th and the Moon-Mars conjunction on the 7th. Give or take a few days of each date, these may well be the most intensely challenging days in a generally challenging month.

Challenges of a different sort go along with the waxing Saturn-Pluto square. It’s a quadrature that was exact on November 15, but these two planets remain within less than two degrees of their 270° arc throughout December and on into January – when the aspect is exact again on the 31st, due to the Ringed Planet’s January 13 retrograde station. This is the first Saturn-Pluto square from Libra to Capricorn since the 1776-1777 quadrature. These things are relatively rare: 1274 and 539-540 CE plus 197-196 and 431-430 BCE are the only examples in the last couple thousand years or so.

2010 Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto T-SquareIf you’ve been following my forecasts for the last several years, that 539-540 CE time slot may ring a bell. It falls closely in the wake of the great 536 Saturn-Jupiter-Neptune T-square in Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius respectively; the one that coincided with a period of rapid climate change and a reorganization of some of the world’s great civilizations. And in fact the 2009-2010 waxing square between Saturn in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn is part of yet another historic T-square, in which Jupiter and Uranus are conjunct in Pisces-Aries, opposing Saturn in Virgo-Libra and squaring Pluto in Capricorn – a configuration last seen in the 539-540 CE epoch.

From the fall of the Nazca civilization in Peru to the last Roman Emperor on the throne in Constantinople in the 536 epoch, to the current shifts in climate and civilization, this sequence of planetary configurations has borne witness to the events that changed history. Global warming gone into hiding lately? Maybe the Congo’s Nyiragongo volcano, which for several years now puts out more sulfur dioxide in a week than the whole US does in an entire year, has a part to play in this. It’s happened before that volcanoes changed the climate, and changed history: think 535-536, when the climate changed and the world balance of power came unglued under the aegis of the last Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune T-square to form in the skies until the one just a few years ago now.

That’s the long run. In the short run, we’ve got this crisis in the world economy, the global financial system. The central bankers and politicians are telling us that recovery’s on the way. We all want them to be right. Then along comes the Dubai debt default, as Saturn squares Pluto in the heavens, and global markets have a fit. Will the markets recover in short order? Yes. Because central banks have created trillions of dollars worth of fiat currency – another name for debt. From an investment perspective, all that extra money has no place to chase returns but to go but into equity markets, driving the latest bubble – which manifests as a rising market in a sinking or at best artificially and temporarily stimulated economy.

DEC 21, 2009 Jupiter-Neptune ConjunctionIn my 2009 World Forecast Highlights, I described the triple Jupiter-Neptune alignment – which makes its third and final appearance this month – as a sign of the ‘one last bubble’ phenomenon, a "blind faith" in the power of humanity. Governments and central banks the world over have reassured their citizenry that deficit-funded stimulus and rescue programs would fix the global financial collapse. In the US and many other countries, most of that rescue package has essentially gone to banks, to prop up their solvency and get them to lend money into the economy again. But the banks won’t lend to each other because they know they’re broke. They won’t lend more than a pittance to consumers and companies, because they know they’re all at risk of a default. (And default they do, one "Freaky Friday" after another.) So the money just piles into the markets, expanding the bubble as long as possible.

What happens when possible runs out? We may see sooner than anyone would like, maybe during the 2010 T-square apparitions. Saturn squaring Pluto from the one side, and Jupiter-Uranus squaring it from the other . . . sounds like the next bubble bursting. Of course, as I’ve said for years, this is a slow and historic process. The burst of one bubble isn’t the end of the world. It’s just another settling of the soufflé. This isn’t Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall. It’s more like Humpty cracking and poaching in place . . .

With the Saturn-Pluto square in effect all month, along with the December 1 Uranus direct station and the December 21 Jupiter-Neptune conjunction (the Moon aligned with Jupiter at the time), it’s all so close and so run together that lurching from crisis to crisis is the most likely scenario – with no penultimate collapse, mind you. Give or take several days either way, the 1st, 10th and 21st are probably particular stress dates in terms of the financial system; whereas the 15th looks more positive. The 21st looks like a crisis postponed . . . a bail-out that kicks the can down the road.

DEC 31, 2009 SuperMoon Partial Lunar EclipseThe SuperMoon partial lunar eclipse on the 31st is another big story in the sky this month that presages an important theme for 2010. That’s because this particular SuperMoon is extreme not only by virtue of the precise alignment entailed in any eclipse and because it occurs so close – within 24 hours – of the Moon’s perigee (closest approach to Earth). It also happens within just over 24 hours of the Moon’s maximum declination north of the celestial equator. Summer and fall of 2009 was a time of close association between SuperMoon alignments and another lunar declination extreme – not the maximum declination, but the minimum, the Moon’s actual crossing of the celestial equator (from north to south or vice versa). This final SuperMoon of the year just happens to be the first in a series of three full SuperMoons extending into 2010. The next two are January 30 (an extreme SuperMoon, occurring within just a few hours of the Moon’s closest perigee of the year) and February 28: both occur shortly before a southward lunar crossing of the celestial equator.

Strong storms and very powerful earthquakes were much in the news during the summer and fall of 2009, as the extreme lunar declination SuperMoons took place. I expect that the December 31 SuperMoon, as well as those of 2010, will also be accompanied by very powerful storms, extreme high tides, and notable seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes as well as a spike in volcanic activity). This month’s SuperMoon storm and seismic risk window runs from the 28th into early January – probably into late on the 6th, given the Moon’s southward equatorial crossing on the 5th.

Of course the potential risks of any SuperMoon extend all over Planet Earth. So it’s good to have your emergency kit handy wherever you’ll be during the December 28-January 6 geophysical risk window, and to figure on travel delays, power outages and the like due to bad weather – or worse. Astro-locality mapping may suggest a few especially high-risk zones, including a longitudinal swath through the Great Plains states in the US up into Canada in the New World, and from western India/eastern Pakistan northward in the Old; as well as along a horizon arc sweeping from southern Alaska across northern Canada and northeasterly across southeastern Australia.

Mercury's Synodic CycleWhile the New Year’s Eve SuperMoon eclipse shapes up to be the strongest storm and seismic signal of the month, there are others that also presage a stirring of the skies and seas and crust of Planet Earth. The full moon on the 2nd happens on the same day as the Moon’s northern declination extreme, indicating a geophysical stress window that extends from the end of November to December 5. Another up-tick in the number and intensity of storms, moderate-to-severe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions centers within a day either way of the Moon’s southward crossing of the celestial equator on the 9th, and from late on the 14th into the 17th as the Moon reaches maximum south declination. The 20th and 23rd also bear watching, plus or minus about a day and a half in either direction.

Last but not least this month is the final Mercury Max (intersolar) cycle of 2010, which begins with the little planet’s maximum elongation east of the Sun on December 18. It’s a cycle that intensifies with Mercury’s retrograde (December 26, 2009 to January 15, 2010), and peaks at the January 4 inferior conjunction with the Sun. The cycle remains in force until Mercury comes to its maximum western elongation on January 27, 2010.

Among the sort of things to be ready for during this latest Mercury Max cycle are strikes and other disruptions affecting transportation and communication (e.g. postal, phone, mass transit, trucking, airline, shipping, dock and warehouse workers, teachers and all manner of media). Weather both terrestrial and solar (including geomagnetic storms) can play a part in the kind of breakdowns described here, but human effort (and sometimes malicious action) is a part of the mix as well. Power failures due to infrastructure breakdown and computer network disruptions caused by hacker attacks, software vulnerabilities and the like are also just a crossed wire or a keystroke away from a major mess at these times.

It only feels like Murphy’s Law reigns supreme during Mercury Max cycles. The truth is that all things Mercurial are especially crucial during the intersolar Mercury phase; infrastructure, commerce, information, communication and transport being prime examples. Absent careful investigation and planning, and conscientious follow-through, all such things are apt to go off track during these cycles. The Mercury Max phase is a time for focus, concentration, planning, follow-through and communication - all the qualities of the active and involved mind. Unfortunately, most people are not especially alert and focused most of the time – otherwise no one would be texting while driving. When this kind of sleepwalking runs into Mercury's intersolar cycle, with its focus on mental acuity, it doesn't take long for things to go awry. If you're sharp and focused and alert, you can avoid a certain amount of this mess. In fact, you can even prosper by concentrating on tasks that center on thought, planning and communication. But you'll still have to dodge all the chaos created by the people who are sleepwalking. So be ready.

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