The holidays are always rife with gift-giving melodramas, travel snafus and family flare-ups. But this year, astrologers warn, there will be more mammoth aggravation and tumult than we’ve seen in almost a decade.
It starts with Black Friday and Saturday, which they say will be doomed by bad deals and under-stocked merchandise. And shoppers who wait until after December 9 will get stuck with faulty products or presents that no one wanted in the first place. By mid-December, holiday travelers will be hit with bad weather, mechanical errors and possibly, terrorist threats. Wars may break out, marriages will dissolve, people will lose their jobs and, as astrologer Gahl Sasson put it, “the whole planet is going to have Tourette’s syndrome.” But that’s not even the worst of it. The darkest day comes on the Winter Solstice (December 21), when a full moon eclipse will wreak its own special havoc.
“It’s a nightmare,” says New York astrologer Susan Miller. “People will be in tears.”
Some of this drama is rooted in the infamous astrological aspect known as “Mercury Retrograde” that lasts for three weeks, three times each year. It is the period when the planet, as viewed from Earth, appears to be moving backward in the sky. Astrology buffs mark their calendars in advance of this phenomenon and brace themselves for computer crashes, accidents of all kinds, lost car keys, misplaced packages, misunderstandings and other everyday chaos.
“When Mercury retrogrades, it scrambles all kinds of information causing confusion almost like static,” says Sasson, who is based in Los Angeles.
This year, Mercury retrogrades from December 10-30, the first time since 2003 that this aspect has fallen at Christmas. And though most astrologers blame Mercury retrograde for minor mistakes, it is also credited with some of history’s most newsworthy debacles as well.
This is the same astrological weather in effect during the January earthquake in Haiti, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April, the “flash crash” on Wall Street in May, President Obama’s fumble during his January 2009 inaugural oath, the Bush-Gore election nightmare in November 2000, the Wall Street crashes of 2008 and 1987 and yes, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
December’s Mercury retrograde takes place first in the sign of Capricorn (from December 10-20) and then in Sagittarius (from December 20-30), promising to stir tensions inside families and between governments. “People are probably going to be forceful about their agendas,” says astrologer Ophira Edut, who with her identical twin sister, Tali make up Elle magazine’s AstroTwins. “There could definitely be some holiday throw-downs and international tensions rising up between the 20th and 30th.”
“The last thing we need is another layer,” says astrologer Miller. “And here it is. It’s coming.”
But complicating things, astrologers say, are a series of other challenging planetary shifts. As Sasson describes it, on December 13, Pluto, “the planet of death,” Mars, “the planet of war,” and Mercury, “the planet of communications,” will be so aligned as to inspire people to be more manipulative and say things they don’t mean.
The position of Uranus, meanwhile, is making “people ... feel their lives are falling apart,” says astrologer Michael Lutin.
“There’s a tremendous, more than ever, level of uncertainty,” says Lutin. “It’s washing like a tsunami over the entire earth.”
Then on December 21, there’s the total eclipse of the Moon in Gemini (which rules aviation), which is square Uranus (which rules the unexpected) that falls during the winter solstice. This, says Miller, is a recipe for disaster.
“We’re all a little over-the-top on everything,” says Miller of this season. “We’re spending money. We’re spending energy. We’re spending emotion. We’re very busy at that time. And the last thing we need is another layer. And here it is. It’s coming.”
Not all astrologers see this season in such dire terms. “I don’t think it’s going to be a nightmare,” says Edut. “There may be more to navigate. A lot of family dynamics. Travel dynamics. The eclipse will bring some drama for some people. Some people might be getting that little pink slip in their in box. Other people might be getting a surprise holiday bonus. It really depends.”
Astrologers do have tips on coping with all this astrological drama. Finish shopping by December 5, offers Miller. Buy gift certificates, practical gifts and steer clear of electronics and big-ticket items. Don’t overbook yourself during the holidays. Buy refundable plane tickets. “Try to be elastic enough so you can help the people around you who are in crisis,” Miller says.
“The good news is [Mercury retrograde] can reveal hidden things,” says Gahl. “Let’s say you lost something before Mercury retrogrades, you might actually find it. It’s a great time to go on Facebook and look for old friends. Clean files. Deal with unfinished projects. Edit. Review. Reevaulate. Reassess.”
Troubled relationships can actually be mended during this time. Diplomacy has a good chance.
“Just give in,” says Miller. “Roll with it.”
Gina Piccalo spent a decade at the Los Angeles Times covering Hollywood. She's now a contributing writer for Los Angeles Magazine and her work has appeared in Elle, More and Emmy. She can be found at ginapiccalo.com.