Astrology Journal
By Pam Younghans

Photo: Auroras over Buksnesfjord, Norway on January 5, 2013 (photo by Frank Olsen)

OUR SECOND WEEK of the new year begins with a bit of a reality check. Saturn squares Mars on Monday, a reminder that our goals must not only come from a place of truth and integrity, they must also take into account that we cannot control — or predict or perhaps even understand — the desires and actions that others may choose.
This can be a irritating influence, as most square aspects tend to be. We may feel that our desires are at cross-purposes with someone else’s, and that our goals are not manifesting as easily or smoothly as hoped. It may be a challenge to keep our own anger in check in the face of obstacles that arise. But, the ultimate lesson of these frustrations is to find or build new levels of patience, discipline and inner strength amidst the uncertainties and unpredictables of life.
It may help to imagine ourselves, just for the day, to be wearing the shoes of someone whose patience and perspective we highly respect. That may assist us in finding those same qualities within ourselves more readily — we may even surprise ourselves at how much like that admired person we have the potential to be.
VENUS ENTERS CAPRICORN on Tuesday, setting up some interesting relationship or financial developments over the week that follows, as Venus first sextiles Neptune (Wednesday), squares Uranus (Saturday) and finally aligns with Pluto (January 16).
Venus in Capricorn is typically serious, conservative and relatively goal-oriented about its commitments and investments. It can also tend to be a bit unemotional or overly practical.
In sextile to Neptune, however, some of those qualities are softened a bit. A sextile is not a very strong aspect, but this one should assist us in opening our hearts to another person, and in forgiving both ourselves and others as needed.
THE EFFECTS of Saturday’s Venus-Uranus square are a bit less soothing. This is an aspect that reminds us how unique each of us is, and how important it is to accept and allow space for the differences between us.
If a partnership has become stagnant, is limiting its participants in their self-expression, or is in need of a wake-up call, this Venus-Uranus aspect can inspire the necessary change. One or both parties may use this square to rebel against (written or unwritten) relationship rules if they have been following them out of “should” rather than “want.” At the very least, this is a good day for everyone to give each other the space to do their own thing, to defuse built-up tensions and infuse the relationship with a breath of fresh air.
Then, as we begin to work with the energies of the Pluto-Venus conjunction next week, we will know more clearly what type of transformation is underway. If the relationship is capable of deepening, the issues that have arisen can provide fertile ground for greater honesty and intimacy. Or, if the relationship is not able to handle the different needs expressed by the people involved, this Pluto-Venus alignment can also provide the energy to change the form of the relationship. 
WE ALSO HAVE a New Moon this Friday, at 11:44am PST. The Sabian symbol for the 22nd degree of Capricorn, where the New Moon is located, is especially interesting given the relationship themes we’re working with this week:

“By accepting defeat gracefully, a general reveals nobility of character: The realization that one may grow through defeat as well as, and perhaps more than, through success.”

It is common for humans to feel that we have “failed” when a relationship or other enterprise ends. We tend to gauge success by length of commitment or other tangible, quantifiable measurements.
AND YET, how many seeming “failures” — a job lost, a divorce, a business enterprise or other project that never gained a strong foundation — have actually been the biggest successes of our lives, from our Soul’s perspective? My guess is many, if not most (or all?)…
The interpretation of that Sabian symbol, by Dane Rudhyar, adds a bit more clarity:

“This symbol presents us with the possibility of turning apparent external defeat into an inner spiritual achievement. We find what seems to be a paradox, but the spiritual life is always paradoxical. What matters most is always Inner Strength.”

Since Friday’s lunation is a New Moon, it marks both the ending of a cycle and the beginning of a new phase of growth. With Mercury conjunct the Sun/Moon, we have specific opportunities to change our way of thinking about those “successes” and “failures” in our lives, and to rewrite our futures from a more enlightened perspective.