September 2018: the Cool Down


September is here, we’re winding down from the intensity of the Summer of Retrograde, but it won’t be Fall for another two weeks. August was something of a torrid scorcher, no? The final heatwave at the end was a fun reminder of how hot and uncomfortable the Sun can make us. Even my cats were complaining. Of course, Mars was helping. The hot and dry red planet has been at maximum brightness all Summer, and is the second closest to the Earth that he’s been in 60,000 years (the actual closest was in 2003, and he won’t be that close again until 2287). Mars stationed direct at his exalted degree of 28 Capricorn on August 27, which set us up to start September on better footing than we’ve been since he went retrograde on June 26, but he’s still moving slow in the sky right now, and the themes explored during the last two months of his backwards motion will be active through October.

Our beloved trickster, Mercury, was retrograde in Leo from July 26-August 19; the trouble caused during this period would have been a bigger deal if everyone hadn’t just been trying to survive the eclipses. Getting trapped in airports with flights delayed, cancelled, and rerouted, or losing luggage and having to buy all new gear, these were minor inconveniences compared to what other people were going through. It’s really all about perspective and hopefully this Summer grew your patience, stamina, and compassion.

Mercury has been in Leo for a long time, since June 29, and on their way out the door, they’ll blow Venus in Libra a parting kiss on September 3. On this day you’ll be able to share your thoughts and feelings with adroitness so use the moment well. It’s a great time to enjoy the company of friends by taking in the theater or having a spirited debate over dinner. Mercury zips into their exalted home sign of Virgo on September 5, and enters into a conjunction with Athena, empowering our speech and mental alacrity throughout that weekend.

The push forward continues when Saturn in Capricorn stations direct on September 6, adding emphasis to the grand earth trine with Mercury in Virgo and Uranus in Taurus that we’ve been feeling for several weeks. Saturn is known as the Lord of Karma or Lord of Time, and his entrance into his pragmatic home sign of Capricorn on December 19, 2017, was a much anticipated astrological moment. Wherever we find Saturn, we find the need for commitment, hard work, and perseverance. Saturn will be in Capricorn until December 2020, so we have another 2.5 years of slowly building in this area of our lives (look to the house Capricorn rules in your natal birth chart to see where this will affect you personally). On a large scale, expect this transit to cause both a hardening of rules and boundaries and a dismantling of unjust systems and processes. The humanitarian crisis happening on the US/Mexico Border with government officials separating children from their parents and holding them in for-profit detention centers, and the resulting demand for immediate immigration policy reform has been one prominent manifestation of Saturn in Capricorn.

If you have a brilliant idea that must be shared make sure you consider all the angles on September 7, when Mercury trines Uranus in Taurus and Saturn in Capricorn, and the Sun in Virgo is opposed to Neptune and Pisces. People are going to want to know how you intend to carry out your grand plan before they’ll believe you can make it work. There’s a hint of confusion in the air so it might be a good time to dream alone with your sketchpad before bringing anything to the table. The best strategy may be to root down into what you wish to manifest by keeping it a secret for the moment.

Venus has been in her airy high tower of Libra since August 6, which helped to cool down hot tempers, but a bit of passion flares at the end with a square to Mars on September 8. This is a great day to go for what you want. Show up in the world as your most beautiful and best self to attract in what you most desire. Reception is just as powerful as action, so call forth what you wish to conjure, but don’t get mad if it isn’t delivered right away. Things are going to get a bit more murky the following day, on September 9, when Venus descends into the deep, dark waters of Scorpio where she’ll remain for the rest of the year. It’s going to be a very Scorpio Fall, so don’t be surprised if your love life gets a big dose of ardor, obsession, intensity, and transformation in the coming months. Venus will enter her retrograde period on October 5; we’ll have both the active and reflective wisdom of the Scorpio teaching us about love, sex, death, healing, and everything in between for the remainder of 2018.

You may have been on a cleaning spree since the Sun entered Virgo on August 23. Virgo season is a time to get organized and clear; make sure the sacred spaces in your home get wiped, dusted, and blessed, if they haven’t already. This mutable earth sign, symbolized by the harvest maiden, is spiritual because she values and creates G.ood O.rderly D.irection. The Virgo New Moon on September 9, is opposed by Neptune in Pisces and in a trine with Pluto in Capricorn. The nature of Virgo is to appear as having it all together all the time, and it’s her preference to believe that’s really true, but this Moon may bring visions and desires knocking on the door that don’t fit in with her perfect plan. The power of vulnerability is that once we have acknowledged and grappled with what is challenging to reconcile, we don’t have to fear or ignore it anymore. The struggle to self-actualize is real, but Mercury in Virgo can help us integrate the emotional wisdom of this Moon into the mental realm, making us more effective agents for change.

We’ll get another taste of earth sign rebellion and restriction on September 12 when Venus moves into an opposition with Uranus and a sextile with Saturn, while Jupiter, co-present in Scorpio, sextiles Pluto in Capricorn. Thankfully, the discerning insight of the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena, in Virgo, is helping Venus make sense of these contradictory elements and impulses. You may receive guidance about the kinds of changes you need to make internally to have the kind of relationship you want to have with others. If there’s power plays going on at work, make sure you have the support you need at home to feel secure on the job.

Mercury enters Libra on September 21, and the following day, the Sun departs from Virgo, officially ending Summer. The Sun’s entrance into Libra, the sign of it’s fall, on September 22, initiates the start of a new season: Fall. The Sun is exalted in Aries at the Spring Equinox, the beginning of the time of the most light in the year. The Autumn Equinox marks the transition to the dark period when the Sun is in his decline and night is longer than day. But on the first day of both Aries and Libra, at the 00 degree point, there is a space of balance, a moment of harmony in the world with equality between dark and light, day and night. It is an excellent time to walk in nature and pray for peace.

The Autumnal Equinox, Mabon, as the Gaelic pagan festival is known, is a time to thank Gaia, Goddess of the Earth, for the harvest’s gleanings and turn our attention to preparing for the transition to the cold period. In mythology, the solar God further recedes, reading to leave his body at Samhain, Halloween, on October 31. In this momentary evenness before the waning light we may consider what has grown in our lives since March 20? If you set intentions at the Vernal Equinox, what has come of them? Take a moment to appreciate the growth, however miniscule. Thank yourself and the universe for what you’ve created together in the past 6 months, and for the truths that’ve been revealed, even if you weren’t seeking them. Let your heart be full remembering all you have received. Set new intentions for the coming shadowy time of the year, and be sure to include a radical relationship with fiery healing and deep commitment to mental health and wellbeing. No one can survive winter on their own, so make sure community is well featured in your plan.

The Aries Full Moon on September 24, amplifies the Equinox energy into our bodies as the Sun in Libra is in a T-square with the Moon and Chiron in Aries, and Saturn and Vesta in Capricorn. This lunation is ruled by Mars who won’t clear his retrograde shadow until October 8, so we may not be feeling in our full glory at this time. But we don’t value the things we win easily as much as those we struggle to achieve. There is a philosophical mood to this Moon. Humans are drawn to astrology and other forms of divination not just because they help us understand when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, but because they remind and reassure us of the Divine love present in all moments that can help us to face the world, good and bad, with equanimity and grace.

Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

Virgo Art: Ryland Smith

August 2018: the Bounty & the Blessings

The start of August finds us at an unusual impasse with five planets retrograde–Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Pluto–and a couple of asteroid friends too, like Chiron. The feeling in the air is more like waiting than progressing, but all of this arrested energy is building within the container of eclipse season, when life speeds up and unexpected events happen. This contradictory dynamic can be challenging because movement is stilted, yet what is happening feels completely out of our control. Remember that basic Mercury retrograde good practices are not to make any major purchases, buy electronics, sign contracts, or start something new during this time if you can avoid it. Of course, life marches on, and many happy people have done all of those things during a Mercury retrograde and lived to be just fine. However, make sure to read the fine print, review details twice, buy the warranty, and most important of all, try to stay flexible, especially when traveling.

The desire for action is heightened on August 1, when Mars squares a soon to be retrograde Uranus. This is the second of three squares the red planet will make to the great Liberator, but since Mars is the closest to the Earth he has been since 2003, this one may be felt the most profoundly. The first occurred on May 16, so there may be a continuation of themes from that time, and the final square will happen on September 18. Breakthroughs are often preceded by breakdowns so if you’re worried you’re headed for the latter, it may just be a prelude before the former.

There is much to celebrate at the beginning of the month because August 1 is the pagan festival of Lughnasadh/Lammas, the first harvest, when people give thanks to the earth for sacrificing her bounty. If you like you can decorate your altar with flowers, grain, corn dollies, freshly baked loaves of bread, and images of the Sun. This is an approximate halfway point between the Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox and there is a mingling of moods. We’re in Leo season, the Sun is high in the sky, fruit is ripe on the trees, and the fields are abundant with crops. This is Gaia in her full glory, yet contained within this moment of Summer grandeur is the promise of the Fall because the Sun has already peaked and light is on the descent.

Ancient people wove the astronomical cycle into their mythology. The movements of the Sun were illustrated through the life cycle of the God. The Goddess was constant throughout the year, but the God lived and died over and over, being born from her anew only to pass again in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. At the Summer Solstice/Litha the Green God, in full strength, joined with the Goddess, but there is a bittersweet element to Lughnasadh as the pregnant Goddess realizes that her consort is fading. Although the God will eventually die in the Fall, he will live on through the child the Goddess is carrying, their son (Sun). The myth reminds us of the preciousness of life because change is the only constant, and this too, shall pass. Lughnasadh is a wonderful time to connect with your appreciation of Gaia for the gift of food that sustains and nourishes 7 billion bodies all over the world everyday. Make a ritual out of a meal and thank the thousands of human hands that contributed to creating your plate, most of all the farmers and farm workers.

Harmony and peace are the order of the day as Venus enters her home sign of Libra on August 6. Symbolized by the scales, Libra is an air sign, which rules the mental realm, and seeks balance and justice. Venus will stay here until September 9, helping us to learn how to live in right relationship with all beings. The following day, August 7, we have another earth shaking event, as Uranus stations retrograde, adding to the backward motion in the sky. The Awakener will be retrograde for the remainder of the year, retreating into Aries on November 7 and giving us another taste of fire. Until then, he will retrace his steps through Taurus, reminding us of what he came to build with the Venus ruled earth sign.

The last eclipse of the year occurs at the Leo New Moon on August 11, which is an excellent night to set intentions about self-actualization and self-expression. Speak your mind if there’s something that needs to be said, but make sure the words flow from your heart. If others are not able to receive it, let them be. Focus on doing you because that’s really the point of all this, to shine your beautiful light out.

Mercury emerges from their retrograde period as a morning star on August 19, infused with the wisdom of their travels and ready to begin a new cycle. Still in vibrant Leo and square Jupiter, there may be a playful spontaneity to our speech and thoughts, but try to temper any overly enthusiastic impulsiveness. The Sun leaves it’s happy domicile for the cooler climes of restrained Virgo on August 23. While in Leo the Sun loves to romp and play, but Virgo has a To Do list and free time comes last. We now turn our attention to getting clear about priorities and organized about how to carry them out. If you’ve neglected your nest a bit during the busy bustle of Summer, beautify now as you settle into spending more time indoors during cooler days.

There is a luscious full moon in Pisces on August 26, co-present with Neptune, the modern ruler of Pisces, God of the Ocean, and trine Jupiter. Neptune has a mystical aura, and heightens psychic sensitivity. This would be a great night to convene that coven you’ve been dreaming about, and practice scrying together with your crystal ball. The Sun in Virgo is opposite this Moon, and trining Saturn in Capricorn, reminding us that our big visions need to be grounded in the earth to take root. The danger of Neptune is the desire to bypass the messy and mundane physical world on the quest for spiritual enlightenment, but that doesn’t work because our body is the entry point for experiencing the wisdom of the Divine.

Our will returns in full force on August 27 when Mars goes direct in Capricorn where he is exalted. After two months retrograde, since June 26, Mars is ready to get to work again. Enjoy this day and notice if you feel different now that Mars is moving forward again, especially people with Aries or Scorpio Sun or Moon. Although Uranus went retrograde in August, we are leaving the month in a better position than we came in with Mercury and Mars back in action.

By the end of the month you can give yourself a pat on the back for having survive eclipse season. We may continue to feel some reverberations till the Virgo New Moon on September 9, but the hardest part is behind us. Enjoy the heat of August and remember to gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Much love.