Reflections on the Autumnal Equinox

Last night, my husband and I celebrated the Autumnal Equinox.  We were married six months ago in the Spring, in the exact moments when the Sun passed over the ecliptic from Pisces into Aries.  So it was an anniversary of sorts.  It was also rather disappointing.  

We were up late, too late, because we know that the conscious mind unspools as the body draws closer to sleep, and we are more receptive to the Powers That Be when the analytical mind is restful.  But perhaps we passed by that magic moment, from receptivity into exhaustion.  I also thought it necessary to clear the air before the ceremony, to vent the grievances that have been sticking to us like psychic glue as Saturn transits build up steam in our respective charts: Saturn opposes my husband's Aries Moon later next month, and squares my Moon in Capricorn.  As any astrologer will tell you, you can feel the heavy feet of Saturn marching toward you several months before the transit is exact.  

So with the last gasp of the Sun in Virgo, conjunct Mercury for some added verbal sharpness, I critiqued my husband's behavior, and he critiqued my complaints.  Edgy Mars conjunct the Moon in Leo meant that emotions were at war, and Venus in a rather wide conjunction to Saturn prompted us to do the hard work of asserting boundaries before any harmony could be reached.

We soldiered on, and called the directions, and the Goddess and the God.  It was the first Mabon that my harvest altar was blessed with the fruits and flowers of the hands of my household.  A bowl of juicy tomatoes and my husband's pepper crop reflected the candlelight.  Potatoes and squash gilded with our garden dirt mussed the golden-purple altar cloth.  Brian drummed and I rattled, to shake out the heavy energy.  Yet Venusian peace and harmony eluded us.  Wasn't Brian neglecting the thanksgiving nature of our celebration, by airing personal problems in sacred space instead of heaping gratitude on the Goddess and the God, for the roof over our head and the fruits of our harvest?  My Virgo mind complained.  Brian fell asleep during the meditative portion of our ritual, as he always does, and I grew fretful.  Why doesn't our personal connection add to the power of the rituals we create?  Why are we at cross-purposes?

I sent him to bed, and unsuccessfully tried to scry with an obsidian crystal ball.  Why wouldn't the magic come?  The night was hot and humid, not reminiscent of The Mists of Avalon at all!  There was no crispness in the air, no winds of change to whip up the static, no October smell of fire and Fall.  I guess we'll have to wait a bit for that.

Earlier yesterday evening, two of my friends gave an astrology talk at a bookstore here in Eugene, Oregon.  How do we apply astrology to our own lives, the audience wanted to know.  How indeed.  I have seen astrologers falsely inflate the importance of quick transits by Venus and Jupiter, and falsely demonize long transits by Uranus and Pluto.  How indeed.    

A priestess friend phoned me yesterday, to check on the transits for an upcoming dance performance.  The Sun was trining her natal Mars on the day in question.  "Beautiful," I said.  "Your public identity is in easy flow to your physical ability and coordination, just perfect for a performance.  You'll appear strong and vibrant."  Yet I felt that she wanted something more from me - a prediction, a guarantee.  For those astrologers like myself who don't believe astrology makes anything happen, but only articulates energetic possibilities and trends, it can be difficult to speak to the question of just what astrology can offer as a life-tool.  

For myself, I find astrology extremely effective as a post-mortem, such as I performed on our Equinox ritual last night.  No, the gods are not disappointed in me, No, my marriage is not in trouble, we were simply feeling the effects of dyspeptic Mars and stick-in-the-mud Saturn on the warm-fuzzy feelings associated with Venus and the Moon.  One of the most powerful, visceral truths astrology has to offer us is, "This too shall pass."  No life situation or the feelings it caused can last forever, because the planets keep moving and stimulate new places in the natal chart.  The energy always moves, and astrology can help us find the hidden treasure in the hard times.  Ugh, Saturn, we all with good reason say, and yet nothing beats Saturn for competence and professional acumen.  I woke up this morning and was motivated to initiate an astrology blog, a move that will hopefully contribute to increased recognition and respect in my field.  Praise Saturn.  Saturn is a businessman, a careerist.  The energies that were damping my affection for my lover last night are the same ones that are pushing me to come out as a worldly authority. 

We are co-creators with the Divine on the one hand, and on the other we are pinioned to the Wheel of Fortune.  A successful life is not one in which we manifest everything we've ever wanted according to our exact specifications.  That is a Western dream of flat perfection.  Flat perfection is a dead-end; if you're honest, you'll notice that the accolades that come too easy do not feed your soul.  It's the hard tasks, the ones that take everything out of us, of which we are most proud.  Sure, you might be the CEO of a successful company - but forgiving your mother has been a life-long journey and adds untold richness to your life when you finally get it right.  You might be an effortlessly glamorous woman who has coasted through life on her looks; finding and knowing your inner value gives you more confidence than that genetic lottery you won.  

The astrology I practice, Evolutionary Astrology, looks beyond flat perfection and mastery of the material world to the bumpy places in the road, to the karmic hang-ups and wounds which keep us from finding joy in the now.  Some astrologers focus on manipulating energetic possibilities to achieve material success.  I honor them and they find the clients who need them.  Though I daresay that letting Uranus prevent you from starting a business is a questionable choice, or that pinning all your hopes on Jupiter for financial success is not entirely sound.  In other words: predictions are often wrong!  A predictive astrologer might caution against starting a business when Uranus is on the ASC because the results could be unpredictable and short-lived (could being the operative word).  An evolutionary astrologer might tell you to go for it anyway, because the business is fresh and ground-breaking (Uranian), and represents an important bid for authenticity in your personal development.  So what if the business itself crashes and burns?  You just made a great leap forward in consciousness, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would have been missed if you'd spent it twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the planets to align. 

Just as ships at sea are subject to the whim of the elements, so we are alternately batted and soothed by planetary configurations.  The green deck-hand might have a reactive response to the changing tides and weather, and be forever scrabbling all over the ship to attend to its shifting needs and speeds, and find himself feeling rather overwhelmed by the sudden alterations.  But the Captain sees all in advance, he reads the subtle changes in the sea and knows the various procedures to prepare for calm and for storm and for strong wind.  Astrology can transform you from the deck-hand into the Captain.  The Captain doesn't control the weather, but he knows how to care for his ship, when to batten 'er down and when to open 'er up.  But sometimes even the master of the ship has to gulp and pray and hope for deliverance; astrology doesn't rescue us from Fate.  It just gives us a map and a language, sometimes a lantern and a rope.  And in those most vulnerable moments, astrology gives us something else, something astrologers don't talk about near enough: holy humility before forces much larger than ourselves, and a tremulous awe in Divine Plan. 

The little Sunflowers that I grew from seed were clipped and vased for the Equinox; the liquor bottle I stuck them in tipped over on the altar and shattered the lithium crystal with its pink and coral threads.  Energy was released; the wobbly integrity of the one was transformed into the pointed focus of five strong shards.  Of the two Larch trees given us on our wedding day, one died, and one remains to be properly bonsai'ed.  Here we go a'sailing ...