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Rockie Horoscope

First things first. Romantic Venus leaves secretive, sotto voce Scorpio on the 16th for the in-your-face bluntness of Sagittarius. The rules of the game could change dramatically, especially while Venus challenges daredevil Uranus on Sunday. That's also when Mars and Saturn reward conscientiousness and productivity. But because Mercury comes out of retrograde late that night, don't count on achieving the results you expect. Mercury flipping is flippy; drive defensively, doublecheck messages. On Tuesday at 4:42 a.m. PST, the sun crosses into Capricorn and winter officially begins. Commemorate the solstice with a ritual and a libation.

Aries

How does a headstrong Aries react to being reined in? You'll find out while your Mars ruler is favored by tradition-bound Saturn this weekend. If you're in business, their supportive alliance could be the reward for sticking to a plan, for showing both patience and prudence. Handling financial matters now - e.g., mortgages, insurance policies, taxes - benefits your entire family. Obligations become far less important once Mars enters high-spirited Sagittarius on Christmas Day. How soon after that will your latest adventure begin?

Taurus

This weekend could be a turning point in a romantic relationship, mainly because your Venus ruler gets zapped by eccentric, erratic Uranian energy. Matters of the heart may do a U-ey faster than you can say, "Oh no, Mercury is flipping again!" After the Messenger faces forward, a false impression, an erroneous e-mail, should be corrected in time to enjoy a sociable, spiritual Christmas Eve celebration. The arrival of winter on the 21st suggests a greater dependence on the values you share, even if they - the values, not the folks - have morphed into something else.

Gemini

Twins born in June might hear about a modification of their work routine when Mercury goes direct on the 20th. Those born in May could sense a weird vibe emanating from a partnership arrangement. When your ruling planet changes direction, you tend to reflect the switcheroo faster than the rest of us. So take it slow and relatively easy for as long as you can. While material matters will probably progress at a constructive, productive pace, you'll feel more comfortable pursuing spiritual, artistic, even purely recreational goals instead. 'Tis the season.

Cancer

The winds of change blow through your house of romance and risk as Mercury, direct as of the 20th, starts to retrace the path it was on in mid-November. You may think you're repeating a lesson you've already learned, but your awareness must have deepened considerably since then, and will continue to do so for another few weeks. Meanwhile, measure your actual progress in a venture or an adventure that began in late May, because Mars is finally favoring Saturn in your sign. Saturn is the dragon blocking your way, Mars the hero with a thousand faces.

Leo

The winter solstice on the 21st marks the Coming of the Sun/Son as the nights begin to get shorter and the days grow longer. Since no sign suffers from seasonal depression as much as you cats, be grateful that whatever funky mood you've fallen into will lift relatively soon. Helping you shift gears is the (let us assume) delightful surprise in store when your sun ruler and unpredictable Uranus sextile. An opportunity to experience something totally new and different could pop up as soon as you hang up your Christmas stocking. Freaky fun.

Virgo

Natives born in August are the primary targets for Cupid's heart-piercing arrows this weekend. Blame or thank the disconcerting square between romantic Venus and erotic, erratic Uranus for whatever happens. While your retrograde Mercury ruler prepares to change direction late Sunday night, all Virgins may be focused on transporting yourselves, physically and mentally, from here to there. Try to avoid decision making, paper signing, car repairing, computer fiddling, etc., until Mercury has had time to inch forward later in the week.

Libra

More footloose and fancy-free than you've been since August. Such is the upbeat or, for some, unsettling forecast as your Venus ruler travels through Sagittarius for the next three-plus weeks. Enjoy the opportunity to run wild for as long as it lasts, because once Venus gets to Capricorn, you'll want to take care of business and little else. Use the time in between to ski, sail or simply thrill to the great outdoors. The first delicious distraction should appear when Venus flirts with experimental Uranus this weekend.

Scorpio

While your Mars co-ruler is still in Scorpio, but only until Christmas morning, take a moment to appreciate the sense of stability and self-worth you're picking up from the rewarding trine between Mars and Saturn, the relentless taskmaster. You've done what you set out to accomplish, skirted the roadblocks placed in your path since Saturn met Mars in May, and now you can enjoy the satisfaction and prestige that comes from a job well done. Seriously, it might be two years until you hit this high a socially sanctioned high note again.

Sagittarius

One pleasantly provocative, one decidedly disruptive surprise is scheduled to occur before the year ends, as first Venus then Mars in your sign toys with unpredictable Uranus. But the most significant change could coincide with Mercury's direct station in Sag on the 20th. Will you simply revise an opinion or uncover unconscious patterns of behavior? As long as there's something to show for Mercury's trip through Sagittarius, you'll be all the wiser - healthier, too. As far as wealthier goes, maybe during the NFL wild-card weekend?

Capricorn

This is the weekend to release that merry holiday spirit. While your Saturn ruler and passionate Mars support each other, you can do no wrong. Your authority is undeniable, your advice invaluable. While everyone else is reacting to the mess Mercury makes whenever it flips, Goats maintain their steady footing and accepting attitude. Capricorn begins Tuesday morning, so do something special to commemorate the start of your season in the sun. And welcome whatever surprise Santa has planned for Christmas Eve. Try not to cry.

Aquarius

What's different about you lately may become obvious to all concerned this weekend. Magnetic Venus in your midheaven, the place where you make a name for yourself, is focused solely on your independent Uranus ruler. If you don't get more than the lion's share of attention, it's probably because you've hidden something in the closet beside the Christmas presents. Next weekend, when the prestigious Capricorn sun shines its light on Uranus, could be just as interesting, as well as a lot more profitable.

Pisces

Once knowledgeable Mercury turns direct in your house of foreign travel, religion and higher learning, it'll be safe to think about the changes you intend to implement in 2005. The Messenger doesn't flip into retrograde again until the last day of Pisces, by which time you should have decided how you'll spend that birthday money. Like your Uranus neighbors, you're apt to find yourself in the spotlight a few times before the year ends. Thank or, as we get closer to New Year's, blame the idiosyncratic Uranian vibe emanating from early Pisces.


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