Paul McCarthy, performance stills from Tokyo Santa, 1996. While I generally advocate a more earnest relationship to the unfolding of our lives... sometimes a little abject cynicism helps around the holidays
As we all continue to push earnestly toward a new post pandemic, though obviously not post-covid, normal, maybe it’s best to frame December as a return to the usual holiday shit hitting the fan. Expect delayed flights, lost bags, and the interpersonal drama that inevitably comes up when we go home to visit family, or travel with friends and loved ones. Mercury will be retrograde the second half of the month, and it starts off nicely! But as offices close and bags get packed, Mercury’s normal retrograde process takes a turn toward strife, conflict, and confusion that eases, thankfully, just in time to ring in 2024.
Let’s start with the good news. Mercury stations retrograde early in the morning on December 13th, and I have to say, I am a fan of Mercury retrograde. It’s not a good time to expect plans, writing, organizing, transacting, traveling, and other Mercury things to go quickly or smoothly. But it is good for sustained Mercurial work like planning, editing, building consensus, and ideating. This Mercury retrograde begins in structured Capricorn with some very nice input from both a particularly accepting Venus and a grounded and abundant Jupiter. Good uses for this first part of the retrograde might be things like fine tuning your filing and other work systems; becoming a thoughtful and efficient Christmas gift procurement machine; outlining the structure of a book; competing in just about any game or sport; losing yourself in complex holiday baking projects; or doing a particularly thorough job with new year’s resolutions.
It’s interesting that this Mercury retrograde starts mere hours before a new Moon in Sagittarius December 12 that looks quite limited in its capacity to get anywhere or do anything. I like that we go to bed with a no in one part of our lives, and wake up the very next morning to something that we can incrementally turn into a yes somewhere else. Give yourself some projects that take advantage of the beginning of this Mercury retrograde. Its productivity peaks in the afternoon of December 22 EST, when the Sun and Mercury meet in the very first degree of Capricorn.
Twelve hours later, in the wee hours of December 23 EST, Mercury leaves this relative comfort and productivity of Capricorn, and enters Sagittarius. Mercury is uncomfortable here. It’s invested in details and the parts of things, and Sagittarius is where you go on a quest to understand the big picture. Mercury in Sagittarius is good for telling fabulous stories and making links between disparate things to try to make them into a whole. But there can be a struggle for the truth when Mercury is in Sagittarius, simply because the whole tends to be more than the sum of its parts. December 24th, this struggle for accuracy deepens as Mercury moves within striking range of deceptive, confusing Neptune. December 25th, Mercury starts blending with Mars. Expect any travel to go sideways. Christmas day will be decidedly spicy. On that day the Moon gets involved in this Mercury-Mars-Neptune action, increasing the chances of a confusing, regrettable fight. This connection between Mars and Mercury, with all the sharp words it entails, is exact on December 27th. Everything will feel a lot better by December 29th.
There is one bright spot in a rather crummy holiday week–the full Moon in Cancer on December 26. While the New Moon earlier in the month will feel like a sneak preview of holiday mishegoss, the full Moon, with its lovely relationship to both Jupiter and Venus, is likely to feel more like a callback to the productive, grounded, smooth leadup to the holiday. Maybe the resolution to all this tension is grounded in something that was initiated earlier in the month.
While I pretty much never advise anyone to lean out of difficult astrological weather, I would do a little work to minimize damage December 22-29. It’s a particularly hard time of year for many people. Take care of yourself, particularly if you have a less than supportive family of origin or struggle with sadness or depression around holidays.
If possible, try not to make plans with anybody that you can’t do meaningful repair with this Christmas. There are better times to hang out with your loving but fragile and perpetually aggrieved mom, for example.
Try to travel before December 22 and after December 30. If that’s not possible, buy trip insurance. Don’t check a bag, or if you must, pack a couple of days of clothing in your carry on. And build in some extra time to get lost, misdirected, delayed, etc.
If your plan is to escape and go somewhere amazing that has a beach or a ski slope, keep your expectations in check. Find the joy in the chaos. Try not to need everything to be flawless, or everybody to be happy, to have a good time.
Lastly, keep in mind that this is ordinary drama, not total devastation. We’ve all been through stuff like this before, and any silliness, frustration, or hurt will pass.
Lord of The Year Horoscopes
Every month features too many transits. Lord of the year horoscopes help you focus on only the moments that are impacting you the most, and meet them with a specific set of tools that you happen to have at hand. You’ll need to know which planet your lord of the year is, either by using this handy annual profections calculator; booking an annual forecast reading with me, this is a timing technique that I rely on heavily; or just emailing me your birth date, time, and location–I am happy to tell you your lord of the year for free with no obligation.
If you are in a Moon year, one key role you’re being asked to take on is simply to hold the people around you, and reflect their light back to them. This holiday season, do not be surprised if you find yourself doing the emotional work of holding a big, passive-aggressive game of telephone, perhaps in which everybody tells you what they are really feeling instead of telling each other. Trust that listening and watching this unfold is enough–fixing or managing other people’s emotions could make things worse! But what you might watch for is an opportunity to put folks into a dialogue with one another, so that whatever needs to get hammered out can happen more directly. Keep in mind that around Christmas day, you will be acting more as a witness that can easily understand the particulars of both sides of a conflict. And the day after, your role in helping to repair tension or conflict is likely to be more about your capacity to love everybody in the room. That subtle difference between understanding different perspectives and simply loving everybody, and knowing when to do which one, looks like the key to making whatever conflicts are unfolding around you into productive ones.
If you are in a Sun year, the first half of the month is a little frustrating! You’re here to love, and to be recognized as lovable. All of Sagittarius season you are in a fiery, passionate, fun place to do just that! But you also might feel like you are too busy to be in touch with your heart. Or you might be hearing a big fat no that you didn’t want to hear. Or you might be coming to terms with what’s not gonna happen. The good news is that you’re likely to avoid the worst of the holiday drama. And if you can just openly love your people in a heart-centered, completely sincere way, you could make things better for others who are having a hard time. You just might even get credit for doing so, which is likely to be important to you this year. Just try to remain aware of the subtle and important difference between loving someone and needing someone to feel okay for your sake. Your heart knows the difference between these things! Check in with it from time to time.
If you’re in a Mercury year, set yourself up with projects until December 22nd that benefit from multiple passes, deep attention, or collaboration, and be sure to make one of those projects a deep consideration of your Christmas plans. You are likely to be at the center of holiday mishegoss. Maybe you’ll assume that you know everything about a situation when you don’t. Maybe you focus on the wrong details or get overwhelmed, and become the agent of travel chaos. When this happens, you are likely to be the one who is in the wrong, so I want you to sit with how you feel about making mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes sometimes--it is okay! And nothing makes most people feel more vulnerable. If making mistakes or being in the wrong brings up shame in you, that is deeply human, and I want you to love yourself through it. Make sure you are enjoying the holiday with someone you can be wrong around, and can apologize to. Lastly, I would not travel December 22-30 if I were in a Mercury year. If you must, take extra care. Prepare for lost bags, rerouted trips, sleeping in the airport, and so on.
When Venus changes sign December 4, you folks in a Venus year might feel this as an intense deepening of emotion, or a greater capacity to not simply or abstractly love people for who they are, but really love the unlovable parts of the people you love. What’s interesting about this month is how helpful this perspective shift might be for the folks around you who are having a worse time. In the first half of the month, you might find yourself ensuring that holiday plans are more inclusive, or more accepting of your loved ones who suffer at this time of year. When the holiday strikes, you might find yourself pulling someone out of the drama. You might take a walk around the block and let your mom vent; get your brother high in the woods like you’re back in high school together; hug the partner who messed up your plane tickets; or let your friend fall apart in your bed while you stroke her hair. However this plays out, your job is to give judgment-free love and support, not necessarily to the person who’s right, but to the whole swampy mess that family and friendship can be, and to the person who feels the least loved in any given moment. By December 29th, you are done holding all this drama and are ready to party, so be sure to give yourself an epic New Year’s Eve plan.
If you are in a Mars year, I want you to consider what is worth fighting for this holiday season, because conflict is a necessary part of life. Here are some examples. It’s more than okay to walk into a family visit needing to be recognized as the parental authority of your kids; or as loving who you love, even if those positions are controversial. It really might be okay to get offended in the middle of a bunch of confusion about who is going to pay what during the beach getaway, if it reveals a pattern in which you're always paying more than your fair share. It’s less okay to be the one person on the plane who loses their shit after a couple of hours of everybody sitting on the tarmac. You see what I am getting at. You are at your most hot-tempered this year! But you still get to choose how you direct all that assertive energy, and I want you to use it in a meaningful way. Before December 22nd, write as much as you can about what you want or need to be brave or have conflict about, and what you want to cultivate grace around. This is important because you’re walking toward a test. Something is going to happen that might look like an incredible provocation but is just a simple mixup. Or conversely, something subtly f'ed up is going to happen that you need to stand up to. Only you will know which it is! So think about it ahead of time.
If you are in a Jupiter year, you are going to have a very specific gift to give the folks you spend the holidays with. You’re gonna be the one in the room that can rise above the drama and take a loving, relaxed leadership role. By leadership, I don’t mean being in charge of the itinerary every day of your vacation with friends, or setting a lifetime of boundaries with your mom in one day. That type of stuff falls more under "management." What I mean by "leadership" is being so secure in your own power and your own love for the people around you, and the fact that everything is going to be okay by New Year's Eve, that your mere presence helps to calm others down. Parents of babies and toddlers call this effect “co-regulation,” and it’s magic when you get it right. Simply not getting wound up and staying present in the face of big feelings helps little kids, and adults who are acting like little kids, calm themselves down. Just be aware that this is an extremely passive act. If the people around you are getting more and more pissed off at you because you’re rising above it all, you’re not co-regulating--you're managing them. You’re trying to have an effect. Take a step back when that happens and ground yourself in your own calm.
If you are in a Saturn year, it will be good to think about how this holiday’s plans inform what you are building over the long term, and act in service of those long-term goals. Are you creating a family of choice, friendship brick by friendship brick? Commit to that, not simply by saying no to your family of origin but by taking the initiative to create new traditions. Are you cultivating a new relationship with your parents in which you are a grown-ass adult? Consider every angle of that transition, including how you’ll show up. Don't just articulate the boundaries. Saturn years are a good time to go against type, challenge norms, and be the outsider. If you want to spend holidays traveling the world by yourself instead of shuffling around a cul-de-sac with your suburban family, you might find this easier to do now. Just keep in mind that it can be easy to isolate yourself in Saturn years, and for many folks, this is not a great time of year to do that. Know your needs. And know the difference between striking out on your own and hiding from the ones you love. If you decide to take space, also take extra care to make sure you can come back, and have relationships to come back to.