The Curves of Autumn

AUTUMN in the Northern Hemisphere spans from the equinox on Sept. 23 to the solstice on Dec. 22. All seasons cover three signs of the tropical zodiac, always reaching from an equinox to a solstice or vice versa. The season includes the cardinal sign Libra, the fixed sign Scorpio and the mutable sign Sagittarius. Seasons always begin with a cardinal sign, peak with a fixed sign, and dissolve into the next season with a mutable sign.

Note the association between the autumnal equinox, when night equals day, and the sign Libra. The symbol of the scales is one of balance, which has with any luck at all been attained in the six months since the vernal equinox — symbolically and for many people in reality, the time of commencement and action.

It is, however, the themes of the fixed sign that are the often most poignant of the season, in the case of autumn, Scorpio, the themes of which include connection with the spirit world, death, sex, the final harvest and preparation for the long winter ahead. Prominent holidays include Halloween, Days of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and in the United States, a national election on Nov. 7. This is a legislative election where the House of Representatives and Senate will be distributed, apparently by hook or by crook.

Autumn 2006 has several unusual astrological features, which I’ll summarize in this article and develop as the events approach. As an introductory comment, the planets are currently moving in a locomotive pattern, tending to cluster in one sign around the time the Sun moves through that sign. At the equinox, for example, we had the Sun, Moon, Mars and Mercury in Libra, with Venus close behind. By Dec. 10 we have Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, the Sun, Pluto and Venus in Sagittarius. In between, a similar alignment occurs in Scorpio. The effect is to greatly emphasize the energy of one sign, with a combination of inner planets and in the case of Scorpio and Sagittarius, a transpersonal planet (Jupiter) and an outer planet (Pluto).

Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

Mercury is retrograde approximately every four months, as it passes between the Sun and the Earth. The actual retrograde lasts just over three weeks, but the entire process takes about two months each time, including what some call the “shadow phase” and what I call the echo phase. These are the two phases on either side of the actual retrograde, during which Mercury is moving direct in the degrees where it will be, or just was, retrograde. Many people report that retrograde effects are obvious during the echo phases. In all, the Mercury retrograde effect is in effect about half the time.

There are also short intervals between Mercury retrogrades where it seems like something is up, such as a mild haze of confusion cast over communication and technology.

Mercury retrogrades are usually considered time to take care of old business and to set aside the beginnings of things for a while. However it can be a fairly good time to sketch, plan and consider one’s options, and to clean up obstacles from the past that may get in the way.

Mercury retrogrades in water signs are fairly rare, though we are having some lately. As part of this particular retrograde, Mercury will make a series of exact conjunctions to the natal Neptune in Scorpio of everyone born between early 1960 and late 1967, emphasizing that planet in their charts. Jupiter has also been in this neighborhood for the past year or so, and at this point Mercury and Jupiter get together for a series of meetings.

Here are the key dates associated with the retrograde:

• Echo phase begins when Mercury reaches 9+ Scorpio on Monday, October 9.
• Station retrograde is Sunday, October 29 at 25+ Scorpio.
• Station direct Saturday, November 18 at 9+ Scorpio
• Echo phase ends when Mercury reaches 25+ Scorpio on Monday, December 4.

Mercury-Jupiter conjunctions, which typically happen about once a year, are interesting because they bring together the rulers of all the mutable signs in one place. In traditional astrology, Gemini and Virgo are ruled by Mercury. Sagittarius and Pisces are ruled by Jupiter. Because this Mercury retrograde occurs close to Jupiter, there will be a series of three.

Two are conjunctions to Jupiter in Scorpio. First is a conjunction with Mercury in direct motion on Oct. 22 (concurrent with an unusual Venus-Sun-Mars alignment in late Libra). Mercury is again conjunct Jupiter in Scorpio on Oct. 31 (on All Hallow’s Eve, or Sahwen*). As Mercury clears its echo phase, Jupiter enters Sagittarius on Nov. 24.

There is, as a result, an unusual Mercury-Mars-Jupiter exact triple conjunction in the 4th degree of Sagittarius on Dec. 10. This alignment is sextile the ongoing, very slow moving Chiron-Nessus conjunction in Aquarius that has been developing over the past two years.

Jupiter Enters Sagittarius

Jupiter has an orbit of about 12 years, and last entered Sagittarius Jan. 14, 1971 (close to a conjunction with Neptune); on Sept. 11, 1971, in an exact conjunction with Neptune; on Dec. Dec. 26, 1982, close to a conjunction with Uranus; and on Dec. 9, 1994. It stays in one sign for about one year, and its cycle is reminiscent of the Chinese zodiac. Interestingly, in our era, it tends to change signs while the Sun is in Sagittarius.

Jupiter is the first ruling planet of Sagittarius (some consider Chiron a secondary ruler). We now understand some of what makes Sagittarius what it is, including the Great Attractor in the 15th degree and the Galactic Core in the 27th degree. Over the next few seasons, Jupiter will make conjunctions to and emphasize these points, peaking with a conjunction of Jupiter, Pluto and the Galactic core on Dec. 11, 2007.

Pluto, for its part, crosses the degree of the core about once every two and a half centuries, and was last there before the French and American revolutions.

This is a 2012 checkpoint. The astronomy of 2012 is primarily concerned with the zone between the Galactic Core and the first degree of Capricorn, where the the Road to Xibalba, or cosmic vulva, makes a dark band across the Milky Way. The ancient Maya and other people believed that this was the crack through which humanity emerged countless aeons ago. What we think of as “2012” involves at least two points: one is that the 12th Baktun ends, culminating a cycle of about 1.8 million days; and the first degree of Capricorn has precessed into a conjunction with the dark band or Road to Xibalba. Pluto in this region of space is itself a prolonged checkpoint, however the presence of Jupiter will give us some inkling of where we stand as we reach the end of the 13th Baktun of the Mayan long count.

Election Day 2006

For the purposes of national general elections and many state general elections, Election Day in the United States falls the Tuesday after the first Monday of November — always with the Sun in Scorpio. The polls can legally open at midnight on Nov. 7. Here is the chart.

The locomotive pattern is in Scorpio and includes Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter, all of which are square Saturn in Leo and Neptune in Aquarius. The most precise major planet aspects in the chart are Venus in an exact square to Neptune, Mercury retrograding into an exact conjunction with Venus. This is, unfortunately, yet another setup that reeks of fraud. It is the combination of retrograde Mercury with the square to Neptune (slippery enough) combined with something of great value — Venus. This is the chart of a perfect flimflam, conveniently located in the astrological sign associated with secrets.

Once again, we have a chart with a pronounced Mercury at a critical electoral turning point, and at a turning point in the history of the Bush administration. In a dozen charts over the past five years, Mercury has made such spectacular appearances. Mars moving into a square with Neptune (exact Nov. 17) hints strongly that perpetrators will be especially bold and daring in their deceits, who knows, perhaps enough to get caught. The problem is they have been caught before, and few have actually cared enough to speak up.

Americans have blithely accepted the theft of two presidential elections, but this would be more significant if about half the voters had not cast ballots for the thieves. Once again, the notion of democracy in America is in an extremely tight spot, and the repeated success at electoral theft and deception through abuse of television has emboldened those who would do it in. It is, however, likely to be one of those things we don’t miss until it’s gone, and which we don’t know has gone missing until it’s found lost one day.

It is unfortunate that the loss of fair elections isn’t associated with a national shortage of ice cream.

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, September 29, 2006, #630 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
You probably never expected close partners and loved ones to rise to the occasion as well as they have, but what you are witnessing is their willingness to change and grow. In some ways, you may be getting more attention than you thought you wanted, and with that, your participation in life is being called for to a significant degree. Now is the time to practice not being noncommittal, not being casual, and not letting your true feelings stand in the background of your own thoughts. For some months, you’ve been experiencing the benefits of others being devoted to you, though what you’re hearing from a partner or loved one lately may suggest that they’re having a change of heart. Someone close to you has indeed reached a turning point, but it’s one that will set them free of the past, not the present. Family Focus: Children always look to adults for the example of how to feel and respond.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
What exactly are you being asked to give up? Is it anything you need? If so, how are you defining “need”? I would propose that in recent weeks you’ve been unduly hard on yourself, demanding perfection down to the last detail and holding yourself to a level of integrity that may just be exhausting. This is what you’re working to relinquish, I think, but only because it doesn’t really work to allow a flow of creativity and passion in your life. You can trade in the notion of perfect for many useful things; you may explore; you are free to take possession of your curiosity. You have many options for how to define your psychological space. But space is the operative concept: make that there’s enough for yourself. Family Focus: Your steady leadership has made a deep impression on kids and your partner.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Take a deep breath and remind yourself how much you love life. In fact, remind yourself with every single breath, and notice how different existence is when you see it as a work in progress, a game, or a journey rather than as a problem to be solved. Notice how you dared to love, and love actually is coming back to you. There are two angles of your chart that are calling you strongly in these seasons of your life. One is the house associated with life lessons, ethics and what some call spirituality. The other is the house associated with art, passion and living like a child. Given these choices, I don’t think you need mysticism or truth-seeking at this point, I think you need to live like today is the only day. Family Focus: Children need the company of one another more than they need adults.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Is it fair to say that your fears were for nothing? Well, if you learned that much, then they served a healthy purpose. But the key to accepting this gift is remembering, in the future, that you are a person destined to take solid steps toward a worthwhile place in life. You have plenty of evidence to this effect. You are committed to having a positive impact on the world around you. And you seem, above all, to give yourself to the experience of living on the planet like it really is a safe place. Every “fact of life” may suggest this is a fantasy, and every cell in your body may be saying it’s your only choice, and in truth, the world’s only choice right now. We’ve seen where fear, terror and living in the past get us. Let’s see where something different gets us. Family Focus: Make three long-overdue changes to your living space.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
What a relief to have turned a whole new chapter in your life. How exactly did that happen? Well, it seems you did your best to work through some deeply pressing questions on a mental or intellectual level, until you realized that was not going to get you anywhere. Another principle took over: that of balance. There is something to be said for the teaching that if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Obviously we could not live like that all the time, since there are always uncomfortable necessities of growth and change that arise. At this point, doing what feels good, and thinking what feels good, have worked well for you. And it would not surprise me if you noticed that those who are devoted to conflict are also devoted to misery. Family Focus: You can now be more present for the needs of others.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You don’t need to question why your financial fortunes have improved so dramatically. And if it happens that you’re not there yet, I’m here to tell you that opportunity abounds, if you can get your heart and head above the turmoil of the past two or three months. Last week’s solar eclipse was a major point of reorientation, and has pointed you in a most healthy direction. However, you’re never going to find your abundance in toil; you’re going to find it in living a balanced life and making sure that you associate two concepts — “resources” and “beauty.” Create, indulge and express beauty and you will have plenty of what you need. Family Focus: Be generous with those you love; it means more to them than you can imagine.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
From the look of your solar chart, it’s been a challenging but meaningful few weeks. A dramatic solar eclipse followed by the Sun’s ingress into your sign last weekend signaled the end of all the struggle, but it turned out that there was one last knot that had to work itself out during the past few days. That was the real turning point, the break in the pattern and the point of no return. Your astrology says that what you’ve been struggling with is the concept of purity, perfect fidelity and impeccable devotion. The wisdom of having an option to these weighty notions is finally becoming obvious. Living through changes, and indeed living at all, is something we do in practice, not in theory. Family Focus: Your self-confidence and sense of freedom will rub off on everyone.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
By now you’ve noticed the benefits of shifting your reality to your inner world, rather than being so invested in the busy details of the outer one. Thankfully, others are as concerned about the details and having a positive impact on the flow of events as you are, and their willingness to take action has allowed you some space to step back and not force yourself to be so strong all the time. But perhaps the strange thing is that your inner focus is allowing you to be stronger than ever. It’s not that trust is always so well invested, though for the moment yours really is. It’s that fear and mistrust weaken the psyche. Family Focus: The quality of your inner life affects everyone around you — profoundly.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Suddenly, you have so many more options — and you’re reaping the financial and emotional rewards of many jobs well done. True, there are always wrinkles and things you need to mend, and it’s a great idea to travel with a little sewing kit and an extra set of batteries. But anticipating a minor challenge or two is not exactly what you would call pessimism. I also recognize that your taste for adventure has been tempered lately by your encounters with all-too-practical reality. Factoring all of this in, I propose it’s time to start living boldly again. You’ve done some of your best work the past few months, and even where you’ve fallen short of your aims, you’ve gained immeasurable knowledge. Family Focus: Get everyone out of the house — parties, friends’ homes and little adventures.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
The frustrating thing about what you’ve lived through the past season or two is how difficult it’s been to point to the actual source of stress. Sometimes it’s felt like a gaping sense of doubt; at others, like you were drowning mentally, or like you could no longer tell truth from lies. At times the pressure has disappeared into the background, only to appear in a new form. But over the past two weeks, there’s been a shift in the winds of fortune. You have persisted through a long series of challenges, and you’ve faced many tests of your integrity. You have passed them all, and now you’re likely to find yourself in an unusual position of authority. Remember to mind your political sense, be generous with those who are loyal to you, and kind to those who are not. Family Focus: You command awesome respect these days as a parent and partner. Please be modest about it.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
At least the pressure you’ve been under has compelled you to sort out your priorities. At least making so many mistakes and misjudgments has slowed you down and taught you to apply several different levels of perception to every situation. But most of what you have learned is to trust your first instinct, that little intuitive tap on the shoulder that comes the moment you’re aware that you’re in question. I am not suggesting you throw logic into the ocean, but rather proposing that you really do know what’s best for you. Now is the time to apply this talent to your long-term plan. You cannot know the future in a definite way, but you certainly know the general direction in which you must point yourself. Family Focus: The most ordinary events morph into the most spiritual, and back again.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Remember the Threefold Law. Usually it’s thought of as the harm we do to others comes back to us three times (a very old notion that was picked up by the Common Law as something called treble damages). But the laws of karma don’t just cover ‘bad karma’ — they include the results of all actions. What if the good works you’ve created in your life started to return to you, manifold? What if the fog cleared and you saw that you had truly invested your life into something worthwhile, from which many others benefit? What if it turned out that you were not really adrift all this time, but following sensible, tangible guidance that has led you exactly where you need to be? It’s time to stop asking “what if.” Family Focus: Contrary to what the astrology books say, you’re the one who brings an element of structure to people’s lives.

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