This is the test: how will we respond when confronted with something crushing, to our hopes, to the plans and goals of someone we love, to the life circumstances presented? How will we deal with a worst-case-scenario that we always thought would somehow be avoided? And we must understand something right at the start: what’s being tested is the standard of our own attitudes and beliefs, the relationship we have internally with the Universe; it’s not a test imposed from the outside, though the externals embody challenges particular to each of us as individuals. Who are we, and where do we go, in a spiritual sense, when trials come? This is the test.

Everyone appears to be grappling with something like this now, something that shows quite clearly how closely our spiritual ideas and ideals align with (or diverge from) our practice of such in the material world. Those who believe the spiritual and the physical do not reflect each other are having the worst time right now, as they confidently reject the concept of our earthly existence as a manifestation of both spirituality and karmic challenge. And please don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that those who appear ‘lucky,’ have money, or accomplish much are somehow ‘doing better,’ spiritually speaking, than the rest of us–for who can know with certainty the real challenges being faced by any individual other than ourselves? For those who seem blessed, the test may come in a form such as, When I have great luck, how do I treat others? When I enjoy prosperity, what do I do with it, and how do I spend my intangibles, like time and love? When I accomplish, do I appreciate the roles others have played in my success? And those who enjoy abundantly in the material world may be in the midst of a response that could lead them to a hard fall, a big loss, a tragedy, in any area–for, since all energy is in spiritual terms interchangeable, the difficulties faced may play out in any arena, and carry their own special meaning for the individual–and the rest of us may have little awareness of the reality of things for anyone else.

Astrologically, I see a handful of likely culprits that may describe hurdles we’re facing; of course, one will be more or less responsive, depending on how such aspects hook into the natal chart. For some it will be a medley, for others only one aspect will be the focus of the challenge; and how we respond is as unique and individual as each Being. As well, major transits to natal planets at this time may carry the individual key to the current challenge.

Some of the aspects considered have been in effect for a while, others are just forming, but in any case the circumstances have been shaping up in their overt manifestations for roughly two to three months, so I believe a majority probably take the Saturn opposition to Uranus as background. This is likely a contest of wills, with each side firmly convinced that their approach is the ‘right’ one. That alone should be the clue that flexibility and empathy are the keys to unlocking the stalemate, no matter the subjects or justifications. For those whose upsets came rather abruptly (even though one can look back and trace a vapor trail of potential as the two factors made their way toward each other) I would suggest that Saturn quincunx Neptune may be expressive of the challenge: fear v. delusion, the tried and true v. the unknown, the solid v. the intangible, tight boundaries v. none at all. Too, the Saturn/ Neptune quincunx may be adding to the already existing situation, providing a sense of ‘reality v. unreality’ to the proceedings. And for some, the shift of Pluto into Capricorn may hold the key, with its challenges that ask, is our world, and what we do in it, truly relevant, or must it undergo extreme and irrevocable change?

Sun conjunct Juno is another candidate, bringing classic identity and empowerment struggles to the fore. Do I do it for me, or do I do it because ‘they’ told me to, and if I do, what does that make me? Choices here are dependent on how thoroughly we know our own Soul identity and purpose for both effectiveness and meaning, while the Jupiter/ Pallas square pits our own internal wisdom against the social order; the conflict is on a larger scale, or at least against a wider backdrop, with our choice affected by how conscious we are of the social standard, and how dependent we are on society’s judgement to feel comfortable in our own skin.

Points at which we may get feedback that will let us know how well we’ve handled things (many revolve around Mercury as messenger): Jan. 19th Venus semi-square Pluto= values, finances, and relationships surrender to ‘the Truth; Jan. 20th-23rd Venus conjunct Uranus= generally may indicate our response to the events of the 19th, if we’re ‘keyed’ to Venus; those awaiting news or revelation must get through the retrograde period first, then Mercury turns around and reveals what was ‘cooking’: Feb. 20th-23rd Mercury conjunct the North Node= it’s a destiny-shaping message; will we listen? Feb. 22nd-24th Mercury conjunct Jupiter= the social order gives us feedback, or the repercussions of our struggle are bigger than we anticipated; Feb. 25th-27th Mercury conjunct Juno= we learn who holds the real power, and we find the definition of andextent of our own strength in the process; Feb. 28th-Mar. 3 Mercury conjunct Mars= if the message requires action, this is when we’ll take it; Mar. 3rd-4th Mercury conjunct Chiron= we hear how to heal; again, do we listen? We also have a ‘weak point’ March 4-6th when Mercury conjuncts Neptune and we are in danger of succumbing to illusion or fantasy, inner generated or offered from without, and we have a possible ‘payoff point’ on March 4th when Venus sextiles Pallas, highlighting the wise course in relationships, values support, and finances.