December Horoscope 2011

Endings and beginnings

The last month of the year always starts with the Sun in joyous Sagittarius and finishes with it in serious Capricorn. That doesn't mean that we can't enjoy ourselves throughout December, but that when it ends we should be making plans for the year ahead. Yet before we begin piling up presents or dreaming about the future, there are astrological signals that suggest some cleaning up is in order.

The necessity to let go and not look back starts with a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Gemini on Dec. 10. Gemini is a sign of diversity with wide-ranging interests that are expanded while the Sun is in Sagittarius. Eliminating clutter and purging plans, people, attitudes and behavior that don't contribute to material well-being and mental health is recommended. Assertive Mars' (in efficient Virgo) stressful 90-degree square to the Full Moon raises tension as the demands for productivity and precision increase. Cutting out what's just "okay" makes room for more rewarding people and experiences.

The Sun enters Capricorn on Dec. 22, which is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The ambitions of this hard-working sign are expanded with the Sun's fortunate 120-degree trine to boundless Jupiter on the same day. Trends, though, are profoundly mixed because lucky Jupiter turns direct on Dec. 25, underscoring the optimism this planet represents. However, the New Moon Solar Eclipse on Dec. 24, though supported by Jupiter, is close to dark Pluto and square explosive Uranus. The holidays may be weird this year as emerging fears clash with high aspirations under rapidly changing circumstances. One meaning of this chopped planetary salad of mixed messages is to think big, but to be ready to shift gears at a moment's notice. The Capricorn Sun encourages hard work, but trying to force issues or persistently holding on to a position that doesn't seem to be effective can be exhausting and frustrating.

In fact, going too fast is more likely to slow things down than to get you where you want to go in the first half of December. Mercury the messenger planet turned retrograde last month, which is a backwards cycle during which we tend to make more errors than usual. Mercury began its reversal period in enthusiastic Sagittarius on Nov. 24, increasing the likelihood of communication mix-ups, travel troubles, technical glitches and paperwork errors. On Dec. 13, however, the speedy little planet rights itself and starts advancing through the zodiac again. This will free up the flow of information, although there's a risk of being too open and opinionated until it enters responsible Capricorn in January.

Try spicing up the holidays by breaking with tradition and adding some new elements to the festivities. Venus, the planet of love and pleasure, enters innovative Aquarius on Dec. 20 where we tend to enjoy unconventional experiences. Inventing different ways to give gifts is one form in which this could work. But another, perhaps more important one, emphasizes the friendly and cooperative side of Aquarius. Dividing the labor and working as a team should make celebrations even more enjoyable and avoid unfairly burdening one or two people with more than their fair share of tasks.