September: From Virgo to Libra

Dear Friend and Reader:

September is the month of the equinox. Whether you’re a reader in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern, the Sun soon enters Libra, which is illustrated by scales — of balance, of duality and the ones held by Astraea, the goddess of justice. To me, the thing that stands out the most about Libra is its affinity for elegance and beauty.

Artifact of Bread & Puppet Theater in Vermont, probably from the late 1970s or so, which was hung over the bread-baking station at Dance New England dance camp. The name Bread & Puppet derives from the theater’s practice of sharing its own fresh bread, served for free with aioli with the audience of each performance as a means of creating community, and from its central principle that art should be as basic to life as bread. It’s also a pun on, and reclaiming of, the political phrase, bread and circuses — the things that politicians use to keep the masses disracted. Grain and its storage places are under the dominion of the sign Virgo. Photo by Eric Francis.

For the moment, the Sun is newly in Virgo, as is Venus. I’ll take things in order, covering the events of early September, then covering the equinox and Libra ingress. The Sun through Virgo is the last solar month of the season; every season ends with the Sun in a mutable sign.

There is one last holdover in Leo: Mercury, which was retrograde through most of August (and will be so through this Friday afternoon, Aug. 26). These phases can be a bit chaotic, though the last week in August has been (and still is) particularly hectic. Friday‚Äôs station direct comes just a few days after the Sun entered Virgo on Aug. 23. Mercury changes direction in an instant, but the retrograde process does not end all at once; it takes an extra few weeks to unravel. I would propose that the process will be complete Sept. 10, when Mercury and Chiron — two planets associated with Virgo — meet face to face.

This opposition is a moment of awareness and revelation, where what we think of separately as practical matters and spiritual matters confront one another. If you’re inclined to think of them as ‘separate’ things, take the opportunity to draw from one dimension into other, that is, feeling the presence of spirit in the most ordinary things you do, and giving your spiritual principles some specific job or purpose in the world. I recognize this is considered challenging, and that may be because it relates to one of the fundamental divisions we experience, and that every spiritual path seems designed to address. This dualism shows up in many forms — such as the perceived differences between mind and body, thought and action, or intention and outcome — or in the words of Dickens, fact vs. fancy (a distinction we could use more of lately).

Amanda. Photo by Eric Francis.

There’s something in this aspect about making sure your beliefs and the data confirm one another, or at least inform one another. Some of the opinions we argue for the most aggressively have no basis in observable facts. Some of the most obvious and established fact patterns still fail to make it into our belief systems as something worth considering. The world would not be nearly so troubled if we could negotiate this territory.

Think of Mercury opposite Chiron as a kind of council meeting, where Virgo (what is documentable) and Pisces (what we believe or accept on faith) are going to hold one another accountable. But Chiron is powerful in Pisces, focusing belief into faith, and Mercury is at home in Virgo, sure in its knowledge. Both placements are confident; this can be a real conversation, rather than the usual exchange of dogma.

You might conduct an experiment as this astrology develops. Take one thing you believe and defend and do a little fact checking. How does that belief check out? Can you verify it, or authenticate it? Or, consider something new you learn, which you have reason to believe is true. Does this knowledge influence your conduct? If you do this a few times, you might be surprised what you discover.

There is additional discovery as the Sun and Venus pass through mid-Virgo and make squares to the lunar nodes, which is another way of saying that it activates the Gemini solar eclipse of June 1. One peak time of this activation is the Pisces Full Moon of Sept. 12, another aspect that plays on the logic-intuition dichotomy. The Sun is positioned such that it goes deep into the belly of consciousness, with the feeling of ‘the brighter the light, the darker the shadows’. On the other side of the zodiac, the Moon is in a position that highlights intuition and creativity. Notably, this event is synchronous with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 incident.

Teenagers take over the computer center at Dance New England dance camp last week. Photo by Eric Francis.

The Libra equinox is on Sept. 23. Changes of seasons are always special times, but at this phase of astrological history they are especially so because so many planets are collected at the early degrees of the cardinal signs. I’m referring mainly to Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn — but there is also an important (if rarely mentioned) point called Kronos in early Cancer. When the Sun ingresses Libra, it aspects all of these, and also picks up on Chiron in Pisces.

Because of this, seasonal changes might require bigger, more sudden adjustments than they would ordinarily. This process is being activated by the Sun, and the theme is self-expression. Because the sign involved is Libra, there must be some balance between ‘self’ and ‘expression’ if either is to be meaningful. I daresay this is a tricky one — whether we’re talking about keeping that balance in any creative process, or relational experience (self and other). Often it seems to be a razor’s edge, though veiled in the garb of Libra — which might come with the quest for social justice.

Remember that we tend to learn through conflict. There are other ways to learn, but humans seem to back themselves into this corner frequently. You might want to think back to what you learned from the various points of contention over the past couple of months — it’s been a rather sporting summer, and through your adventures I trust you’ve learned something about conflict resolution. Libra suggests there is a virtue to learning from all sides of the equation. There is validity to the viewpoints you find the most ridiculous (even if that comes in the form of figuring out what you don’t want, or cannot abide). Connect with the person beneath the opinion. Encounter the lover beneath the archetype. Reach inward for the Self beneath your story. That point of contact will help you stay grounded in what you know in your heart.

Lovingly,
Eric Francis

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope – September 2011

Revised and Updated! Click for Eric’s Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Aries (March 20-April 19) — I suggest you become more curious about your sense of emotional injury. Usually we avoid investigating this kind of thing when we can. Yet recent events might have stirred you up a bit, and that’s an invitation to go deeper. This is especially true if you’ve had any of those ‘I’m feeling something deep but I really don’t know what it is’ moments the past three or four weeks. Your charts give a clue: the picture shows a relationship between your sense of pride, the sensation of being hurt, and a particular way you tend to get stuck. Somewhere in your distant past, you were told it was wrong to be self-centered, which you took as meaning ‘centered in yourself’. The result, of course, would have been to knock you off-center, as if that were somehow good for you or anyone else. Self-centered vs. centered in yourself has many equivalents. I suggest you also sort out arrogant from confident; narcissistic from self-loving; needing attention from craving meaningful passionate contact with others. Underneath these distinctions is a deeper value. The first concept in each pair is about alienation, and the second is relational. The first involves a sense of injury and the second is about healing. Yet they’re not really opposites; they are related like shadow and light, which depend on one another to exist. If you want the light, it’s necessary to embrace what’s going on in your shadows. Both, treated with awareness, are sources of nourishment and wisdom.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — There comes that point when the mental realm breaks through into the physical, as desire, decision or action — and you are at this point. The inner realm of ideas can be a lot of fun, considering what is possible and making plans for the future. It’s true that there are many possibilities, and you have many ways to express yourself. But thinking about things only goes so far. Suddenly experience becomes the journey, because it must. In my lexicon, experience means a direct experiment. Experiments start with a plan, but the whole point is that you don’t know the outcome. It’s easy to control one’s mind; it’s more challenging to guide it to be free. In an odd way, this takes discipline, which means focusing your desire to make an inquiry that is liberated from rules about the outcome. That’s when the experiment can really begin — and in a sense, it already has. You’ve been passing through a series of gateways, or more like choke points, and as you emerge through each of them you’re born into a slightly new awareness — each one closer to your body than your mind. These passages have served to wake you up to what is possible. When it comes to the actual, conscious experiment, you get to let go again, on a deeper level, sometimes involving another person — and sometimes for only a brief experience that teaches you a lot. Be sensitive to what each particular experience calls for.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Mercury is still cooling down from its recent retrograde. You will be working out the adventures and misadventures of the summer for the next few weeks, in a house that for you is about your immediate vicinity and your day-to-day affairs. Make sure you put extra emphasis on resolving unfinished business, despite your desire to move forward. There may be a particular ending that you need to focus on. One crisis of our society is how little attention we pay to closure. We leave the past behind as if it never happened, or in the alternate, slowly go mad with resentment. As a result we often live with the festering wounds of our families (in particular) for much of our lives. You’re at a point where a new kind of power is coming to you. You’re being summoned to unusual achievements, which is another way of saying that you’re activating your talent, potential and quest for the future. To focus that influence, it’s vital that you be clear about the meaning of your own history. I will give you a clue: it means less than you think, but for that to actually be helpful, you must be clear and see the influences for what they are. Your family — neurotic and contradictory as it was — is what made you unique. This is not a matter of discarding or moving beyond anything, but rather of integrating, accepting and making creative use of everything you’ve experienced in all of your time on the planet.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Everything comes down to self-esteem. It’s the quality that mediates your relationship to yourself, to the world and all the people in it. I’m not one for claiming that something is a panacea, but for many reasons it would be wise of you to consider any question you face through the context of how you feel about yourself, and the degree to which you respect yourself. I believe this is true for everyone, but due to certain facts of your chart, and certain elements of the moment now, how you feel about yourself is the obvious, palpable tipping point of your existence. Notably, this inner quality will influence everyone around you. But self-love itself is not so obvious, and it’s wrapped in many taboos that you must violate in order to get where you’re going. I suggest you think not in terms of a goal or ultimate destination, but rather a feeling, and a sense of purpose that you can travel with. What practical actions have you already taken toward that end? What have you already accomplished? Look for specific examples, and then look for the pattern. You’ve accomplished more than you think. Where you’re at now is more about valuing and building on what you’ve started rather than starting anything new. Yet at the same time you may have a strong sense of starting over. To the extent it’s true, you’ve developed tools that you’re learning how to use. You are starting to understand something about your power: mainly — above all else — from where you stand right now, that you have the ability to choose.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Doubt does not work as a way of life, because doubt is not creative. Therefore, keep sending yourself positive messages about where you are, and what you can accomplish, in that order. The ‘who you are’ piece is one of those lifelong meditations for Leos. I know, it can be so certain, then so tenuous. Your sign is associated with gold, and your ‘planet’, the Sun, is a star — the center of our solar system. But the doubts and questions you’ve been addressing are human to the core. It’s strange how small disturbances, even those you forgot or thought you had resolved, can create a much deeper state of doubt than seems possible. What you have learned the past month, and are still discovering as Mercury works its way through your sign, is how to get out of your own way. This is a trick of the mind; so too is paralyzing doubt (or regret, or any form of anxiety). Yet when doubt seems to fixate on a deeper injury, or events from the past that still haunt you, that’s the time to be aware and make a decision. The past is gone, but a copy of it still exists as if written in a book. What you’re doing is rereading and reinterpreting the past — take that up actively. Be bold looking at old things, and old problems, in new ways. As you do this, one particular goal will come into focus, as will your faithful determination to make it real.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You are strong enough, and feel beautiful enough, to be yourself in your relationships — 100% yourself and nobody else. It might mean stating your desires honestly. It might mean standing up to someone in a way you never have before. It might mean making a decision based on nothing other than what you know to be true. One of the great challenges of human existence is creating a state of equality in our relationships. But there’s only one way to get there, as far as I can tell, which is calling ourselves fully present into our own lives. There comes a point where you know it’s better to be in no relationship at all than one that is not healthy for you, and that is the moment when equality is possible. This is a way of saying you have nothing to lose by being real, and it’s a way of saying you’re ready to offer yourself fully to the right situation. Now is the time to experience that sense of wholeness and self-sufficiency. In truth this idea goes far deeper than relationships, which get too much emphasis as the core meaning of life. Yet existence itself is a relationship — which might be between you and the other, between you and yourself, or between you and all that you don’t know. Being fully yourself means summoning your commitment to existence.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — There’s a fantastic musical from 1970 called The Me Nobody Knows. It explores the secret lives of inner city kids who put their feelings, observations and experiences into words. The play has no plot — only characters and a theme. In a similar way you come to the world with your own deeply introspective journey, your observations, and certain experiences that don’t seem to rise to the level of a story. Being totally open with yourself about this dimension of your life will help you feel strong, clear and grounded. Go beyond the familiar routines of your life directly into the feeling of existence. As you do, imagine what it would be like to speak your truth to the people around you, even as you discover it. Feel how bold and tentative this is at the same time, when you speak from an unfamiliar place and step out onto the edge of your awareness. That is the creative state: a kind of poignant unknown that you cannot hide from yourself. Shorn of intent or desire, something actually new can emerge. Shorn of judgment, you can allow your fears to come to the surface, where they have less power over you. Be aware of your sense of ambivalence and give it space to exist. There is indeed a you that nobody knows, and you’re discovering who this person is. Don’t rush; rather, listen and feel. You have no role to play, but rather a place to find where you are met by others who look at you through honest eyes.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You tend to be picky about your friends, and you hold them to a high standard. How much of that, I wonder, is a response to your feeling like you’re being judged and scrutinized by others? It looks like this scenario is starting to relax. If you’re feeling more welcoming of others on a social level, you can be sure they’re feeling more welcoming of you. It may seem that this is about letting go of social pretenses, and on one level it is. But the deeper aspect of that is about having reached the point where you have no option other than to be real. That’s drawing you out of your shell and giving you the courage to take a chance on a new kind of vulnerability. Making contact with your own creative force, and the deeper currents in your imagination, is a potent force for making contact with others in a way that is fully authentic. As you do this you will notice the people around you are more embracing than they’ve ever been, or rather, than you’ve ever noticed them being. Your own inhibitions played a role in isolating you from others, and in assuming that they were looking at you askance. Even if that happened in reality, sooner or later you will have to leave your impressions behind and proceed through life free of the prejudices past experiences burdened you with. Take the risk of creating your life in every moment. Life will return the favor by recreating you in every moment.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — This is a complicated time for you personally — but don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of a moment when the door is open to a great achievement or two. It’s often true that the energy in all aspects of your life increases at the same time. On a personal level, you’re sorting out some potentially troubling, at the very least challenging, questions. Here is one. If you excel in the world, and shine in your chosen profession, does that make you a self-centered, egotistical so and so? Of course it doesn’t, but there are family influences (overt or sly) you might want to investigate, which propagated a belief that success is a sign of bad character. From the look of your charts, you’re in the somewhat uncomfortable position of being compelled to find your individuality, while at the same time pushing back against conditioning that until now you only had a scant clue existed. You will discover more of these influences as you continue to push — they are part of the same self-discovery process. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say a self-creation process, which feels a lot like taking back space that was taken from you. I reckon that as you do this, opportunities will open up in the world around you that match your inner growth. Just remember: even if you seem to get a lucky break, you worked for it — and you will need to put some focus into developing it.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Someone close to you may be acting like the human trampoline. I reckon they’re about done, none too soon, either. You cannot really control others, but you can definitely set limits on what you’ll tolerate. Meanwhile, you have more important matters on your mind, and you want to maintain a thoughtful and productive environment. That said, avoid an ‘all business’ attitude. Keep your flexibility and sense of play. You’re in a position of leadership, and that starts with holding a vision and then acting on it. That means bringing people around you into focus — and that is why anyone whose primary function is to rock the boat needs to spend a little time in the water. Yet make sure that you’re not contributing to any games. Be clear about what you want, first with yourself and then with others. At the same time, make careful note of how others influence you. Make sure that their lack of confidence does not become your own. You certainly might have empathy with someone who is feeling less than confident of themselves, but don’t have too much. The chances are that their crisis of confidence isn’t quite what they think it is. Therefore, don’t fall for it — and then if their state of mind influences you or anything you’re doing, address the matter directly with them. This is a moment for you to be steady and stable as a top priority, and though life has thrown you a few curves lately, you’re up for the challenge.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You seem to be working a particular edge of your presence in the world. The feeling is something like ‘this is so new and strange, but I’m sure I’ve been here before’. Both are true. I want to suggest something bold, which is that you’re currently in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual initiation. This is the challenging, painful, beautiful, interesting and necessary process of emerging into the world as the person you always knew you were inside. This may feel tentative and subtle at times, bold and inevitable at others. In this stage, the most meaningful thing is not what you accomplish or do in the world — rather, it’s tuning your perceptions and responses to a new frequency and feeling tone. For the moment, life is all about how you respond to it. You may notice yourself easing out of any competitive tendencies into more collaborative ones. You may be noticing the prevailing fear-based consensus reality for what it is — and in the same gesture understanding that this is simply not your way. Note that how you distinguish yourself and your individual nervous system from the toxic cloud of anxiety is by becoming more sensitive, not less. I know this feels like a big gamble in a world where so many people seem poised to assault at the least opportunity. Part of your evolutionary mission is to be on the forefront of people who actually feel safe on the planet.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You live closer to the dreamtime than many people — indeed, nearly everyone. By this I mean that you stand with one foot in the unseen world, and the ‘real world’ often looks misty and strange to you. This moment in your life is about going as far beyond the veil as you can, into that other world, and then taking that insight and grounding it in tangible form in the physical plane. One of the gifts you have is the ability to sense the transient, delicate quality of the existence that we share. You may feel like you’re straddling two worlds, one that everyone agrees exists and another that few people believe is real. Remember, that doesn’t make it or your experience any less real. But as someone tapping into an alternate realm of knowledge, you may feel moments of isolation or exclusion. Part of how you’re working through that is by keeping at least one foot and part of your mind in the local world of experience, no matter how strange it seems. There is deep wisdom in exploring that quality of standing apart. I suggest you not rush through it. In order to feel your deeper connection to this world, it’s sometimes necessary to feel your sense of separation from it. This will give you perspective. With that perspective you will be able to sense where you are coming from — I mean that literally — and in the same gesture, have an unusually clear vision of where you are going.

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