I came out of a 3-day spiritual retreat last night to watch the final of X-Factor (UK) and listen to Alexandra Burke’s heartfelt and triumphant rendition of  “Hallelujah”…One of the extraordinary things about her story is that she was written off 3 years ago and embodies the “never give up” frame of mind, so I couldn’t resist a peek at her chart.  I think this twist in her life is down to her natal Saturn-Uranus conjunction common to all those born in her year (1988).  We have all collectively been through the Grand Cross of last Friday, and conducting a straw poll, about 8 out of 10 of us did find it heavy going, but Alexandra is one of those who came through able to manifest her potential.  In fact the Grand Cross directly connected with her Mercury in Virgo, and I think it is her intelligence and focus which (from an astrological point of view) has brought her to this success.  Before perusing the week ahead, take a pause to sense what you learned from last week, especially Friday’s planetary shenanigans.  Don’t worry if, like me after my retreat, you are completely blank about the lessons, it’s the willingness to learn that counts.  For many, it all seems a bit overwhelming and bewildering, and almost impossible to make sense of the complexity, and rummaging in my postbag descriptions range from “purifying” to “twinkly” so that is roughly the range of experience.  What can we do?  Sometimes if there is not a lot you can do physically, accessing your own inner peace is a start.  Because from there, you will ensure that any actions you take will come from the vibration of harmlessness, and any thoughts you direct will assist care and protection, whether towards babies in a vulnerable setting, homeless on the streets, or the suffering in the third world (remember to get the cheques out too to back up your kind thoughts).  This leads directly but ramblingly to tomorrow’s (Monday 15th) square of Mars to Saturn, which takes place in the evening in the UK, but in the afternoon in the US.  Mars and Saturn together can result in harsh action, and this may be reflected in the headlines of the day, but in oneself it is a call to harmonize thought and be aware of our actions.  It’s a reminder that every thought and action has a consequence, and is about creating right action ( to some extent through awareness of its opposite).  So kindness is its antidote.  Hopefully these lessons will be learned because there is a very kind sextile the next day (Tuesday 16th) in the shape of Mars sextile Neptune, this being a very direct compassionate “Crisis at Christmas” type of intervention.  Action and compassion are working together in this aspect, and thoughts and prayers may see results, too.  Time to focus on the innocent babe, the struggle of the homeless, the unspeakable suffering in the third world, but with a little muscle and less defeatism.  The sextile though speaks of balance, and subtlety, and small victories will speak volumes.  This aspect will have to carry the week, as there are no major aspects for the rest of the week, but it’s a fitting one for the run up to Christmas.  So there I have to leave you…right on the brink of next Sunday’s Winter Solstice…like any soap opera.