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© 2009 by Richard Nolle
last revised JAN 1, 2010

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.

I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.
-- George Burns

Mercury's Synodic CyclePay attention this month, or you’ll lose the thread for sure. That’s because there’s a Mercury Max (intersolar) cycle going on as the new year gets underway. It began last month with the little planet’s maximum elongation east of the Sun on December 18, and continues until Mercury reaches its maximum western elongation on January 27. And of course right there in the middle of the mix is the infamous Mercury retrograde, always the centerpiece of one of these cycles. That got started last month too (on the 26th), and continues until Mercury’s direct station on January 15. The whole thing may reach a peak early in the month (around the January 4 inferior conjunction with the Sun, give or take a few day). But there’s still plenty more where that came from . . .

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, but you can eat their lunch if you’re alert and ready. So be ready.

Synodic Cycle of MarsAmong 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.

One more hold-over from 2009 is another of what I’ve called the planetary "Max" cycles – when planets make their close approach to Earth. In this case, I’m referring to the Mars Maximum, which began on September 23 – and which continues in effect all the way into May. 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 including school and workplace shootings and mass murder to spree killings; all the way 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, as the Red Planet heads for its perigee (close approach to Earth) on the day of the Sun-Mars opposition at the end of January.

JAN 29, 2010 Sun-Mars OppositionYou’ve seen the news, you know it’s real. Take the November 5 Ft. Hood massacre for example, the November 28 Russian train disaster (which authorities ascribe to a terrorist bomb attack), the Christmas Day attempted suicide bombing of a Northwest Airlines passenger jet, or the suicide bomber who managed to blow up a CIA office in Afghanistan. Soldiers, cops and security guards need to be especially alert, now more than ever.

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.

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. This has months yet to go, so get a grip.

Remember that the Mars Max 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.

JAN 31, 2010 Saturn-Pluto Square (Waning)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 and other industries - 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.)

The Mars Max cycle runs all month long, although it peaks around the time of the Sun-Mars opposition on the 29th, which is within a few degrees of exact several days either side of that date – including the 27th, when Venus opposes Mars. Aside from that late January red zone, I’d also keep my guard up around the time the Moon aligns with Mars on the 3rd.

Saturn’s retrograde station at 4° 39’ Libra on the 13th (as the Moon aligns with Mercury in the sky, and with Venus a couple days later), and its waning (270°) square to Pluto from the same degree on the 31st means that January is sober as a judge, by and large. The Ringed Planet remains within a degree of its station and Pluto-square points the whole month long. Lots of good-byes, hard choices (often with little choice at all), and settling of accounts. Nobody ends up happy in most of these situations. Not a good time to be a miner, or a chemical worker; and likely a heavy load on health care workers, for some reason. Best strategy: reduce vulnerability to loss as much as possible. Relax, it doesn’t stay this way forever . . . the Venus-Jupiter alignment coming in February will be a welcome antidote. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a world class disaster. Keep your head down and slog through it.

The last time Saturn squared Pluto, we had the Dubai debt default, and global markets had a fit. Some similar shock can’t be ruled out as the quadrature repeats this month: a big bank, maybe even the central bank of an entire country, is certainly a possibility. Also large government agencies and corporations, local and regional governments, a sovereign wealth fund perhaps . . . you get the picture. I know lots of people like to crank up the drama at times like this, but I’m sanguine. This isn’t the end of days, it’s just another settling of the soufflé. (See my 2010 World Forecast Highlights for a longer term perspective.)

JAN 15, 2010 New Moon Annular Solar EclipseThere’s some pretty big storm potential this month, especially at the middle (around the annular solar eclipse on the 15th) and the end of the month (within a few days of the extreme SuperMoon on the 30th).

The January 15 annular solar eclipse at 25° 01’ Capricorn is conjunct Venus, at a time when Mercury aligns with Pluto (squaring Saturn) and Jupiter with Neptune, and very near the peak of the Mars Max cycle. Something spooks the equity markets around this time, some kind of a panic that probably stems from geopolitical factors: a threat, an attack, a revolution perhaps. There’s an element of secrets and deception being exposed, changing the rules of the game; on a more positive note, this eclipse speaks of discoveries and break-throughs. This first eclipse of 2010 belongs to Saros Cycle 141, which began in 1613, at the start of the Romanov Dynasty in Russia. Being a solar eclipse, this one has an effective shock window that runs from the 8th through the 22nd, in terms of its connection with disturbances in the skies, seas and crust of our home planet. (Significant storms and seismic activity are likely.)

All the world feels an eclipse, but only part of the planet actually gets to see this one. Parts of the eclipse action – if not the whole show - can be seen from Eastern Europe and most of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Indonesia. In addition, astro-locality mapping the January 15 eclipse shows a longitudinal arc from India-Pakistan over the poles and through west-central North America; as well as a horizon arc that sweeps northeasterly across West Africa and Central Europe, bending southeasterly across northern Russia to pass through Japan and the South Pacific to New Zealand. These particular regions and locations are likely to have their moment in the spotlight come eclipse time, but no place on our home planet is out of range.

JAN 30, 2010 Full Moon (SuperMoon)The first SuperMoon of 2010 falls on January 30 at 10° 15’ Leo, when the full moon aligns with Mars in the sky (and Venus with the Sun). It’s also particularly potent, for a couple of reasons: it’s the closest SuperMoon of the year, and it occurs within just a few hours of the Moon’s northward crossing of the celestial equator. Expect a full litany of SuperMoon phenomena from January 25 through February 2: an increase in coastal flooding due to higher than usual tides, a gaggle of strong storms with high winds and heavy precipitation (triggering inland flooding), and of course an up-tick in moderate to severe seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes as well as volcanic eruptions). And then there’s that Venus-Mars connection, which comes at a time when one of the year’s two primary cosmic themes is at full tilt. A SuperMoon full moon emphasizing Mars when the Red Planet is in its close approach to Earth (the Mars Max cycle) speaks of hot blood and hot tempers – particularly, as far as the January 30 SuperMoon is concerned, for people born under significant Leo-Aquarius factors. Remember: this is true not only for individuals, but for the collective as well; which is why the potential for terrorist attacks and military conflict will be running fairly high in late January and early February.

Being planetary in scale, there’s no place on our home planet that’s beyond the range of a SuperMoon, so it wouldn’t hurt to make ready wherever you are or plan to be during the January 25-February 2 SuperMoon risk window. That said, possible zones of special vulnerability may be indicated by astro-locality mapping the January 30 SuperMoon. Higher risk sectors align with longitudinal zones running from the US Midwest down through the Yucatan Peninsula and up through Canada, passing over the poles to cross through Russia, western China and eastern India. Horizon arcs sweep northeasterly through west Africa and southeastern Europe, crossing northern Russia and turning southeasterly over Kamchatka to cross out into the open Pacific Ocean. Again, I’m not saying that life is so safe as to be boring outside these indicated special risk zones; only that some of the more newsworthy events of the day will have ties to these locales.

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