December 2023 horoscopes: retrogrades, revelry and renewal


The end of the year is near — and we are galloping into December on the half-human, half-horse, all-optimist hooves of Sagittarius season.

This month begins with Mercury moving into Capricorn on Dec. 1. Here, the planet of communication and exchange takes on a direct, brass tax approach.

This is a Mercury that knows how to say “no,” without apology. Follow that directive as you discern between obligation and desire this holiday season.

On Dec. 4, Venus, the planet of love, attraction, attachment and aesthetics, moves into the basement heart of Scorpio. There is nothing casual and zero chill about Venus in Scorpio. It goes hard, makes hair dolls for its beloved, feels deep, demands truth, and doesn’t let go.

During this transit, which holds us in its leather-gloved grasp through Dec. 29, the topical will not suffice. We feel hungry for depth and discovery — especially in our creative arenas and personal relationships.

Let freedom ring and love rule when the sun skids into Sagittarius. Getty Images

There is an extreme and extremely dramatic edge to Venus in Scorpio, which makes us feel like it’s all or nothing, life or death, when it comes to loving and being loved.

Remember that everything is impermanent, and there are very few things that cannot benefit from taking a breath and a break.

Remember that everything is impermanent and there are very few things that cannot benefit from taking a breath and a break.

On Dec. 12, we’re under the spell of a Sagittarius new moon, the last of the year.

Sagittarius is the sign of abundance and adventure, of hopeful action and resilience, as resistance and this lunation asks us to take stock of inner riches and set bold course for strange shores in the year to come.

Mercury retrograde

2023 began and will end with Mercury retrograding, making us aware of crossroads in communication. Getty Images

On Dec. 13 (dun dun dun), Mercury begins its retrograde through Capricorn. Among the more maligned astrological transits, Mercury retrograde is a gift if we allow it to be.

In the fever pitch of holiday pressure this retrograde commands us to take pause, take stock and revisit themes and threads that need addressing so we can sail into the new year free and clean.

In the sign of the striving sea goat, patience in paving the road to riches is paramount — remember that nothing good gets away.

In the fever pitch of holiday pressure, this retrograde commands us to take pause, take stock and revisit themes and threads that need addressing so we can sail into the new year free and clean.

The winter solstice, the longest night of the year, arrives on Dec. 21, and with it comes the call to celebrate what grows, glows, and slows in the dark as we begin our march towards the burgeoning light of spring.

That same day, the sun enters Capricorn. The transition from Sagittarius to Capricorn feels a little like the brilliant, albeit burned out anti-underwear hippie passing the baton (or pipe) to the power broker.

In reality, these two archetypes are not so much separate entities but a continuation of the same sage. Sag seeks and Capricorn stabilizes, integrating experience and structure.

So how do we build with and upon the knowledge we have found?

Druids celebrate the solstice at Stonehenge in Amesbury, England. Getty Images

On Dec. 26, the full cold moon in Cancer and the last full moon of the year rises and shines. The moon can be its moon-iest self in Cancer, the sign of its rulership.

Cancer is cardinal water, in tune with collective longing and often at the mercy of its own moods. Cancer asks, if we don’t fully feel it, how can we expect to wholly understand it?

The Cancer full moon asks, if we don’t feel it fully, how can we expect to understand it wholly?

Cancer heightens our senses and our sensitivities, allowing us to be bruised by beauty and altered by openness.

Cancer is highly intuitive, borderline haunted by their perceptions, but remember intuition is dulled by the hive of a crowd, so use this watery full moon as an excuse to stay in and get high on your own supply.

Chiron, the celestial embodiment of ancient wounds and healing potential ends, hits retrograde on the very same day, bringing with it a kind of collective exhale and a revitalized sense of hope.

On Dec. 31, and none too soon, Jupiter, the Santa baby of the zodiac, goes direct after a four-month retrograde, bringing the new year in with a pocket full of pickled herring and good tidings.

Banger way to bring down the curtain, folks.

Read for your sun and rising signs. Be well, aim true, see you next year.

At the onset of the month, Aries, the sun, Mercury and Mars in Sagittarius are activating your ninth house of travel, expansion and shooting your shot. You may feel emboldened to make moves, but with Mercury retrograding in your 10th house of ambition come the 13th, the time is nigh for strategy, not offense. In the words of philosopher and military mastermind Sun Tzu, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

The sun in Sagittarius activates your eighth house of sex, death and transformation, Taurus. As a fixed earth sign, you have more trouble than most with change, release and interdependence, but now more than ever, and with Scorpio holding the reins of your ruling planet, you are poised to see where letting go, showing up and turning loose can lead you. Take heed the words of Scottish poet George MacDonald, “To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” Who can you let in and what can you let out this month?

The sun in Sagittarius puts a high shine on your house of partnerships, Gemini. All too often the focus of the seventh house is romantic relationships and the contract of marriage, but in truth, the seventh house is the house of others, where minds meet, resources pool and the potential of human collaboration is planted. In honor of this and with the sun in your opposite sign, I encourage you to swing wide and wild when it comes to connection this month. In the words of luminary Anaïs Nin, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

The sun and Mars in Sag activate your sixth house of ritual, service and body, Cancer. A moon-ruled sign, you often frame service as something you owe others, but do not deserve yourself, or lean on caregiving as an alternative to self-development. Enough of that s—t. Your body and your boundaries form the foundation for how you give, receive and respond. With a full moon in your sign at month’s end, the timing couldn’t be better for taking care of you in service of all you were born to be. As Alice Walker reminds us, “Every small positive change we make in ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.”

A cluster of personal planets in Sagittarius are playing hopscotch in your fifth house of creativity, pleasure and the inner child, Leo. Because Sag energy is about seeking the edge and finding the answer, I encourage you to make art, make love and make a hot, holy mess this month from a place of primal need rather than a need to prove. I ask, what did you like before you learned judgement? What held value before commerce entered the equation? Who would you want if no one was watching? As your fellow lion and daddy of the art of archetype Carl Jung imparts, “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”

The sun and Mars in Sagittarius call to your fourth house of foundation, Virgo. Very few of us got what we needed as children, but as the optimistic archer teaches us, we are never too late, and there is always enough. In addition to reparenting yourself (a daily practice), this month opens the door for you to create a home in and of yourself. What makes you feel rooted? What makes you feel free? Sagittarius reminds us that we are built for both — that roots can live on the road and that attachment can be as much a hot air balloon as a ball and chain.

Sag season sings to your third house of communication and currency, Libra. Sagittarius is a sign famous for shooting off at the mouth, and while you don’t want to be uncouth, you COULD benefit from being more direct. Clarity is compassion, and speaking true is more important this month than sounding sweet. As David Shields expounds, “Honesty is the best policy; the only way out is deeper in: a candid confrontation with existence is dizzying, liberating.” Get honest, get deep, stare straight and get free, Libra.

The sun and Mars in Sag take aim at your second house of wealth and worth, Scorpio, and Venus in your sign for most of the month asks how you want to be worshipped. You often conflate intensity with love and danger with desire, but I wonder if under these arching skies you might venture to believe that feeling safe can coexist with feeling ferociously alive.

Happy return of the sun to you, Sagittarius! As you’re bolstered by the bluster of having the sun, Mars and Mercury cavorting in your sign this month, measure your ambitions against your energy levels. Tending to the tedious does not hinder your exploration of the extraordinary, neigh, it keeps you tethered to reality. Use the power of the new moon to honestly contemplate your own capacity to do and desire to complete. A “no” for now might lend itself to a rollicking success down the line. When Jupiter, your ruling planet, goes direct on Dec. 31, you’ll feel the wind in your sails and luck lapping at your hull once again.

The sun and Mars are doing a dark waltz through your 12th house of ghosts, the unconscious mind and self-sabotage, Capricorn. What are you hiding from or behind, baby? With the brightest star shining in your darkest corner and Mercury retrograding in your sign, the theme is reflection and revision. The 12th house is the threshold between worlds, between the baggage of what was and the blank slate of what is about to be born. Clear the cobwebs and come through that tunnel with a brand-new ballast.

The sun, Mars and Mercury in Sagittarius are moving and grooving in your 11th house of community, Aquarius. Attorney Neal H. Bookspan writes, “Networking is about knowing more people. Connecting is about knowing people more.” The difference is intention — networking wants a leg up, and connection asks for a step closer, ladder vs. bridge. Your challenge this month is to engage in intimacy without agenda.

Neptune, your ruling planet, goes direct in your sign this month, Pisces, and as it turns forward, it squares the sun, Mars and Mercury in Sagittarius in your 10th house of career callings and public perception. Squares create friction, and like flint to fire, this one lives between the stagnate and the luminous. Under the arrows of the archer, can you clarify what fantasies of yours have the capacity to catch on?

Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture and personal experience. She is an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers. She has extensively chronicled her travel experiences; among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery and strip club etiquette.

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