Mars square Pluto and Saturn - Mercury opposite Uranus - Pallas Athena square Sun & opposite Moon - Moon trine Mercury & Neptune
“Ghastly grim and ancient Raven…Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, a man in mourning for his dead beloved is visited one night by a raven. The bird intrudes upon his morose solitude, determined to make its way in, but then delivers no clear message to his host. “Perched upon a bust of Pallas…Perched, and sat, and nothing more.” What to make of him? Who sent him? Is he a ghost, an angel, a harbinger of death, or just a clever bird? Is he friend or foe? More and more insistently, the man engages with the raven, until his mourning descends into mania and despair, feeling his soul trapped in the shadow of the visitor, still sitting, unmoving, above the chamber door.
The Norse god Odin was known to have two raven companions: one for thought and one for memory. As Mercury slows down in Scorpio, we, like Poe’s narrator, may find ourselves being pulled into the spiraling depths of both mental functions, and, in the case of memory, caught between the desire to hold on and the desire to let go. As Pluto and retrograde Mars wrestle each other, with Saturn close by, there will be a tendency to spin rational thoughts into anxious or obsessive ones. The planetary dance in general, in the upcoming days, reminds us that death, loss and fear will inevitably visit us all, but more often, the things that haunt us are the unseen, unconscious parts of ourselves that we project onto the outside world. Perhaps omens are what we make of them; our shadows may contains monsters and madness, but they may also contain deep truths desiring to be discovered, rich Plutonian compost out of which new growth, or new ways of looking at things, may emerge.
Is memory a blessing or a burden? Does it give us solace or trap us in the past? What has been haunting you, and can you give it space to be acknowledged without letting it take control of your mind? Maybe it’s not the past, but the future, that has you feeling anxious or out of control—can you recognize that, and then bring yourself back to the present and tackle one day at a time? If the spectre that persists at your window is rooted in trauma, can you ground yourself in patience, non-judgment and support before letting it in? There is no shame in asking for help.
These intense and looming transits, like the poem, caution us to seek balance between the rational and the irrational, between the controllable and the uncontrollable. Like the black-plumed raven atop bright-eyed Athena, thought and memory, light and dark, in working union, can lead to deeper understanding, and acceptance, of yourself. As this year’s sky stories, and the lessons of the gods, reach their climax, I hear and invoke the well-loved prayer: “Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Full Moon in Aries - Venus Enters Virgo - Saturn & Pluto Station Direct - Mars Squares Saturn
The wheel of the year is turning. Seeds we planted back in the spring are coming to fruition, and transition is in the air. And as if to drive the point home about the ephemeral nature of things, we begin the month of October with a full moon— resplendent now, but soon to wane. This lunation takes place in Aries, on the same degree as Chiron, the Wounded Healer. Mars, its ruler, is currently handicapped by retrograde and tied up in another unforgiving square to Saturn. And the Reaper God, restored to power and now moving direct, is ready to finish out his work for the year in Capricorn. Pluto follows suit soon after, making his direct station on Sunday. The mood is a heavy one.
On the other side of the sky, the plot thickens. The Libra Sun, enduring its time in the sign of its fall, must answer to Venus. For now, the goddess sits at the last degree of Leo, atop a royal star, and is in harmonious relationship to Mars. Accord, gratification and pleasure may be harvested. But act quickly, because tomorrow, she enters Virgo, the sign of her own fall. Ceres, the grain goddess, lies directly opposite her. The old story is unfolding: Persephone now begins her descent into the Underworld, and Demeter, in her grief, will soon cast a withering spell over the land. Our girl will be resurrected come spring, but it will be a long wait. We have been observing and venerating this cycle for thousands, upon thousands, of years—maintaining faith in the face of implacable limitation, and fear of the unknown.
The Harvest Moon, which is the annual full moon closest to the fall equinox, is so-named because, traditionally, it provided the extra light by which the workers in the fields cut the last of the crops before the onset of darkness and winter. Following that, there would be celebration and feasting, as cultures around the world have honored the work of the scythe, which cleaved the sacred space between feast and famine, potency and dormancy, life and death. The Sun is losing its vigor; the Corn Mother is no longer fertile. To give thanks for a bountiful and life-giving harvest is, paradoxically, to give thanks to the Reaper.
In the midst of life, we are in death, as the old saying goes. I would say the reverse is true too. This, to me, is the lesson at the heart of the Libran scales: holding space for all seasons in the eternal cycle, and recognizing that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. One door closes and another one opens, ad infinitum. This places us into a world of relativity and ambivalence, and challenges us to make peace with uncertainty. Full moons, likewise, invite us to confront polarities, and are times of culmination and release. In this particular lunation, endings, challenges, sacrifice and acceptance are additional themes being highlighted, and carried forward by the other transits throughout the upcoming weeks.
Meditate on the idea of completion in your life currently: What rewards are ready to be reaped? What is being consummated? What debt has been fulfilled? What has run its course and can now be released? And perhaps the most challenging work: how can you glean peace, find hope, and see beauty, when the darkness sets in?
September 27 - December 1, 2020
Mercury in Scorpio bestows a penetrating mind, a sharp tongue and a wicked sense of humor upon the native. The brain, alert and vigilant, is wired for the pursuit of truth, and maintains a strong grasp on whatever subject it decides to plumb. The memory keeps a running record of all of life’s growing pains—the wounds, as well as the wisdom that comes with them. This placement also gives a keen insight into human nature: it sees you naked, through your defenses, hearing not only what you say but what you don’t say, reading you like a book. Such a gift, used with care, makes for a wonderful psychologist, researcher, investigator, comedian, memoirist or psychic. If wielded with malice, it can expose, ensnare, manipulate or eviscerate.
Currently, as the veil between worlds starts to thin, Mercury is in its retrograde shadow phase, ahead of its upcoming station on October 13. Under the purview of Mars in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn (its rulers), both in a tense square to each other, this transit, which will see us through the next two months, is sure to feel fierce and fiery. It bodes well for erotic encounters and intense conversations, as well as volcanic eruptions and verbal tongue-lashings. Underneath our armor we are thin-skinned, so get good at recognizing your own triggers. With senses heightened, and wits sharpened, whatever you take aim at, you have a good chance of hitting the mark, so make sure to deploy your darts wisely.