Image: Durational performance by Mierle Laderman Ukeles, a great spirit guide for the month ahead
October brings eclipse season, so it’s worth reflecting on what eclipses are. Eclipses are about the placement of the Earth changing the way we perceive one of the most regular, reliable cycles we live by–the 29.5 day lunation cycle. During a solar eclipse, some people on Earth are positioned to see a new Moon as the Moon blocking the life-giving light of the Sun. And during a lunar eclipse, the Earth gets in the way of the Sun shining on a full Moon. Eclipses are like clockwork. Every six months, moving slowly backwards through the seasons, there will always be 2-3 eclipses that will be more or less visible to some people on Earth. There is no closer, more regular, or more visible astronomical phenomenon! At the same time, having the reliably luminous Sun or Moon temporarily go dark where you are is a pretty powerful bad omen. Astrologers have tended to describe the eclipses as “baleful rays” of the otherwise life-giving luminaries that portend the death of kings, the fall of empires, and other disasters.
This historical take has its own truth… but I think it’s more helpful to think of eclipses in two ways. First, eclipses describe a regular, rhythmic intensification of the drumbeat of life. They are a time when the Universe is demanding our participaton. They are also great symbols of our inherently limited perspective on this participation. Who doesn’t regularly see things in ways that darken what is light, or get in the way of their life unfolding as it should? This is a basic feature of human consciousness–we see everything from a position. We therefore mistake our subjective perception and experience for reality. And what is really funny is that we don’t get wiser or more enlightened by figuring out a special trick to stop doing that! Rather, we slowly learn how to hold our limited, subjective position less tightly, with less and less confidence that we must be right. Wisdom and grace are a function of struggles and failures that teach us that our position, perspective and sense of self are not reliable, not the whole story.
I start here because all the eclipses of 2023, both the ones in spring and the ones that define October, are being managed by planets in their “fall,” a term that astrologers use to connote that a planet is not merely uncomfortable or challenged in a sign, but in a place where the challenges are often ones of perspective or position. October 14 we have the first of three eclipses in Venus’ sign of Libra, and October 28 we have the last eclipse for about 8 years in Venus’ other sign of Taurus. All of this is happening while Venus is in the sign of her fall in Virgo, which is not a bad place for Venus to be as much as an easily disappointed or disappointing place to be. Here’s one way to look at it. Venus rules your desires. The ultimate Virgo power move is to figure out what, exactly, is real and true. And, well, humans have a very limited appetite for reality. You can test this yourself simply by trying to stand in a line without looking at your phone.
Venus in Virgo presiding over two eclipses–occlusions of the light that perfectly symbolize mistaking what we can see from where we are standing right now as The Truth--well, I can't think of a better opportunity to sit quietly and hold the possibility that there is a truth out there, but that we cannot or don't want to see it.
I don’t do horoscopes during eclipse season because horoscopes are a form of play, and eclipse season is just not a playful time. It's better suited for prayer. And this eclipse season, brought to you by Venus in Virgo, is a particularly good time for samu, or contemplative practice through service and work, and other contemplative forms of prayer that cultivate open awareness of what lies beyond your perspective. Instead of praying for something, October is a good month to be present while attending fully to your most mundane tasks. When you're doing the dishes, really just try to do the dishes and see what comes up. It's a time to sit quietly, watch with openness, and notice what's there. Notice your thoughts. Notice that there is a noticer that isn’t your thoughts. Notice the way these thoughts, judgements, opinions, and preferences cycle in and out. Of what? Notice the very small, very true, very precious beauty that arises when thoughts cease, even for a moment or two. These small, true,hard-won moments that required your patience and maybe even some discomfort, or an activity that humbled and focused your mind, are a beautiful expression of Venus in Virgo. And they are a first step toward seeing what lies beyond your ever-occluding, ever-limited point of view.
Astrology is complex, every chart is unique, and the month of September is so great for planning that I decided to have a flash sale. Take 25% off all readings using the coupon code SWEETSEPTEMBER until October 6, 2023.