A key theme of 2021 is abstract, abundant dreaming about a future that simultaneously feels omnipresent and like it will never get here. The good news is that this month is about action! We will be asked to shift from imagining a future to enacting that future, starting today.
The less great news is that October is about conflict. It’s a sensitive time when we are all likely to make mistakes and be in touch with feelings like loss, fear, shame, and powerlessness that make people lash out. But it’s not a time to endure or retreat. Rather, we are being asked to study this time, modify our stories and behaviors, and get creative about conflict, perhaps by imagining ourselves as martial artists. We need a metaphor like this that gives us permission to focus on conflict so that we can build skills and discernment. Just like martial artists, we will repetitively drill aggressive encounters so that we can break through our habitual responses! And like martial artists we’ll embrace the difficulty and pain, and maintain a sense of curiosity as we study! Or at least, I hope so, because the reward is real. Each one of these difficult, skillful decisions to recognize and own our part in the conflict will be paired with an opportunity to articulate and move toward a future that is abundant precisely because we have learned how to be fairer and more compassionate. In other words, we will all be painstakingly learning how to do the future we want by responding differently, one conflict at a time.
Here are the highlights!
September 27-October 18 Mercury Retrograde
The mantra for this retrograde is “Build an abundant tomorrow by owning the pain you project onto others today.”
Pressure has been building since late September, as Mercury, the planet that symbolizes our minds and mouths, slowed down and started moving backwards while scrubbing back and forth against Pluto, the planet that represents our power to project the parts of ourselves that we hate onto other people so that we don’t have to face them. With Mercury in the sign of Libra, our thoughts and words are deeply focused on others, and the core lesson we are meant to learn in this retrograde is that focusing on others isn’t enough to make us altruistic! We must also consider what we are putting on others that is truly our own. Mercury, the Sun, and Mars will be in this tense relationship with Pluto all month, so there will be thousands of opportunities to say and do things that we deeply regret. It will be wise to write these conflicts down privately first, and take time to see if the conflict really lies within. It’s a good time to be gentle with ourselves because it’s hard to face our shadows! And it’s a good time to remember that we will all get hurt and hurt people we love in this process, and that this is okay.
Here is why we want to level up instead of endure. Every single tense contact with our personal painful growth edges will be paired with a good leadership decision, a door that opens to the future, or an opportunity to act in service of the future we want. This retrograde season is meant to teach us that we make a more loving future by being more loving right now! That includes loving and forgiving ourselves after massively blowing it.
October 6-9 New Moon in Libra | New Mars Cycle | Mercury Cazimi
All New Moons begin a story, and this New Moon in Libra is more like three new stories in one over three days, each resetting our various relationships to conflict. The beginning of a lunar cycle on the 6th resets our bodies, moods, and daily actions. The beginning of a new Mars cycle on the 8th resets the impulses and ambitions that compel us to action before there’s any thinking. And only after our embodied experience of conflict and the impulse to engage are reborn do we gain mental clarity about what we think the conflict is about on October 9. Helpful! If the goal is to enact a future that is truly different from the present and past, we are actually set up to change our habitual responses to conflict. But it’s important to recognize that we are gonna have to work for it. This is another indication that October is a practice period that helps us learn from mistakes--a whole Mercury retrograde of do-overs, and three different opportunities to reset. It’s as if the Universe knows how difficult our habitual response to conflict is for us to change!
What will change is conflict. But what will the qualities of this change be? Neither the Sun nor Mars are powerful in Libra, so perhaps we are meant to actively address the condition of powerlessness, starting with the personal and moving through that felt reality into the political. And because Mars and the Moon are key players, we know that this change is deeply embodied, practiced, enacted. We’re in the heart of a Mercury retrograde, so we know we are re-assessing our communication and exchanges. We’re working with Mars in Venus’ sign of Libra so we know that we are meant to get creative by sitting with a paradox. Love is tender and vulnerable, and it also requires drive and conflict in order to thrive. How do we become capable of loving conflicts? We stop avoiding conflict, get curious, and learn how it works so we can do it better.
October 20 Full Moon Aries
I’ve been heavy on the martial arts metaphor because hopefully all month you’ve been training for this Full Moon! In a repetitive month, it is more of the same--the ultimate reckoning with that thing that each of us needs to stop bringing to conflict. Maybe throughout the month some of us have found that we are replaying some core childhood wound, or can’t handle feeling ashamed, or feel pervasively unlovable, or consistently turn our supportive lovers into our abusive mothers and fathers. Others of us will finally recognize that the criticism we hear no matter what was actually said is always there because it’s coming from inside. For some of us, our part in the conflict will be fully illuminated, so we will see how much damage we do when we approach conflict the way we’ve always done. And some of us will meet this moment like we are Grasshopper or the Karate Kid and deploy new skills, shakily, and win. If some of us are able to say that we feel ashamed instead of lashing out in shame, or apologize faster and better, or admit that we are stuck in our childhood trauma… that could actually do a lot because the bigger problems we face are similarly grounded in personal habits around conflict. If we can be more skillful one on one, we’ll have different tools to address the way we become children in the presence of authority and the devastating consequences this has on things like public health. Or the way we cannot seem to do anything but crazily re-inscribe a shared legacy of slavery and genocide that we are ashamed of and traumatized by. All Full Moons are an ending or a release. Can we release these habits around conflict?
October 23-30 Scorpio Season | Sun Square Saturn | Mars Into Scorpio
The month ends with the Sun entering Mars’ home of Scorpio and picking up the familiar drumbeat of 2021 by squaring Saturn on October 30. It’s interesting, since we have been so focused on Mars this month, that on the very same day we go back to dealing with that slow, grinding pressure cooker of lasting change that is the Saturn-Uranus square of 2021, Mars will join the party too. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming, but with a new, powerful Mars in his own sign ready to kick some (ideally more compassionate) ass! Saturn is scooting his way back to Uranus, and the Sun, Mercury are meeting these bigger forces, so we will face multiple reminders of the limitations we face as we reform or rebuild our lives, and the way that those very limitations are challenging us to free ourselves from something so that we can be a more authentic part of this new world we are creating.
Your Sky—Rising Sign Horoscopes
Your professional or public life has been volatile for some time, and this might be leading to new partnerships. Conflicts this month are likely to be about your public standing or new career roles, and you’ll be turning all your martial energy to managing conflict in collaborations with more grace than you’re accustomed to. This is endless territory for refinement! You will be smart to channel “soft” martial arts like aikido that seek to blend with the attack, extend an aggressive encounter to increase the creative possibility in it, and that are about neutralizing conflict rather than simply winning. If you can bring your partners along with you through conflict, this will likely result in more people having your back. And this is important because the Full Moon on October 20 could reveal something about your own needs or purpose that is either getting lost in each conflict because you’ve confused “blending” with caving in to the attack, or ideally is handled more and more effectively as you get more skillful at advocating for yourself in a way others can truly hear and participate in.
You might be recovering from being betrayed by a teacher, or changing your relationship to an institution, or are otherwise deeply re-examining your beliefs. This month you will be fighting for these beliefs in an important way, but you have a particular challenge because the conflicts themselves might express themselves indirectly as health issues, accidents, or drama that feels like it is happening to you. Of all the signs, it is going to be hardest for you to see your role and agency in this month’s conflict! So it’s going to be helpful to develop a martial awareness of your literal surroundings, your body, exercise, sleep, and diet. It’s also not a bad time to listen into the meaning behind things like persistent headaches, back pain, random accidents, or why you’re participating in an ongoing saga. A big part of being a martial artist is extending awareness, and bringing your training into your life. If you can become the Bruce Lee of your habits, you will be in a better position to rebuild the next chapter of your career. And you’ll also be better able to face the Full Moon on October 20, which will reveal that thing deep in your subconscious that has been generating all this drama, poor health, or bad luck.
A literal or karmic debt is going to come due, and create a lot of conflict with your kids, a romance, or in your creative life. Your best response might be to cultivate a “happy warrior” vibe, and figure out how all this conflict could become fun, or turn into a creative project. This might look like needing to visit a parent to take care of an obligation and turning the trip into an exciting adventure for the sake of a child or romantic partner. Or you could find that buried family trauma not only becomes a topic of discussion, but leads you to write a memoir. However you transform this conflict into material or adventure, your impressive ability to keep things light will be key, but be sure to retain a sense of craft as well as a sense of frivolity! You’re training for the Full Moon October 20, which will reveal whatever you’ve been able to make of this to a wider audience.
Some of your deepest relationships may have been exposing themselves as rotten or bankrupt, or otherwise going through a big transformation. This is likely to cause a lot of conflict at home this month, and unlike other signs who are being tasked with staying in the conflict, your job is to fully accept and articulate what you know you’ve lost so that you can move on. Perhaps you could imagine yourself as a wartime journalist whose job is to clearly and accurately describe the battle and its losses. In this, it’s crucial to tell a story that puts the blame for this loss where it belongs, and neither projects your total victimhood nor the way it was all your fault. You will have real help putting this loss to rest for the next few months if you can tell a true, effective story about what happened. And the growth that will come out of this loss and your deeper understanding of it is likely to be fully revealed as a moment of career growth around October 20.
Your relationship to service has been changing! This can show up all kinds of ways but perhaps you’ve been putting others’ needs above your own in a way that makes you feel unseen. This month, the conflicts are likely to be about this discomfort, and your conversations, inbox, text bubbles, and social media platforms will become your dojo! Your repetitive drills will be about sharpening your communication skills and taking at least 60% of the responsibility for what happens in each conflict. What you say in the heat of the moment, and how you say it, matters! And you are training for a situation that calls for total verbal mastery. Around October 20th, the strain of travel, advice from a respected teacher, or a legal issue will be the ultimate test of your ability to both be in radical service to others and advocate for yourself in a way that can be heard. Keep remembering every time you feel the pressure that you’re working toward a “black belt” in authentic, loving partnerships.
This month, the conflicts are likely to be about committing more fully to joy, which sounds simple enough, but entails dropping the critique and analysis, and increasing scary things like presence and intimacy. Your resources will be your weapons! To create more loving conflicts, it will become crucial to both carefully sharpen your sense of the assets you bring, including the ones that you might gag on like your inherent lovability and worthiness. You’re training for a karmic showdown that is fundamentally about who gets to control your sense of self worth. Around the 20th of October a debt will come due, and if you can love yourself and bring joy or play to that conflict instead of trying to be right, you’ll be surprised at how much power you have. Ultimately your reward will be a more compassionate relationship to hard work and service.
Your family life has been dying and being reborn for some time, and while this has been completely necessary, it has not been okay for the people you love most. You might be feeling guilt about this, and needing everything to be okay. For everybody. Except you. The conflicts this month are going to be family conflicts, and the martial truth you will face is that nobody else is going to be okay until you become a fierce, skillful, compassionate advocate for yourself. Train hard, Libras! Practice taking direct responsibility for how you feel and what you need! Yes! I said how you feel! What you need! Because everybody faces a showdown on October 20th, but yours is the ultimate Battle Royale. Your ability to project your needs onto your partner instead of owning and advocating for them will be fully illuminated. You’ve got a bigger assignment than most, but the “black belt” you seek in intimacy, joy, and ease is absolutely attainable if you do the work.
Your communication projects, or perhaps communication with extended family, have been going a little too deep, even for you. Conflict this month is likely to be about what you’re processing or discovering as you are writing, talking, publishing, or relating to extended family members, and you might particularly benefit from the spiritual component of martial practice. You’re digging for something in other people that is inside of you. Cultivating a still, listening mind through meditation could give it a little space to come out all on its own. If your mind is sufficiently calm, around the 20th of October an accident, tough work deadline, or an illness will provide an opportunity to really see the way this thing you’re looking for is right in your own blind spot. This insight is going to help you create the kind of family relationships that you want and deserve.
Your worth, on every level, has been getting a massive and sometimes painful overhaul, and you might be suffering from a misperception that you’re a burden. The conflicts this month are going to be about this feeling of burdening others when it comes to everything from your wallet to your self esteem, and tough as it sounds, you will absolutely need to rely on others. Your social networks are going to become your army! Whether this is about building a loyal client base or finely tuning in to where you belong because you don’t feel good where you are, be a strategic general and assemble your troops. Take responsibility for who you surround yourself with, how they make you feel, and how they serve you. Around the 20th of October a social crisis or a situation with your child will fully illuminate the need for this army. And keep in mind that if you can conquer that feeling that you can’t rely on others, you’ll be closer to the extended family relationships and daily life that you want.
Your identity or life path might have fundamentally broken down last year like everything else did… and if that’s true you might understandably feel a little embattled and defensive about it! Conflicts are likely to be about this breakdown of self and the number it did on your self confidence, and the good news is that your work will be your dojo! By throwing yourself with martial spirit into a new project, job search, or position, and carefully attending to all the ways this new experience is going to ignite your ability to judge, worry, and naysay, you stand to both heal from the past year and a half and rebuild your bank account. Just keep in mind that a lot of martial artists are in the dojo because they are avoiding other parts of their lives. Work could serve a similar purpose for you right now. Around October 20, your family will need your love, and you might not like the way they ask for it. This request will expose either the full extent of your healing and compassion, or your escapism.
All year you have been getting serious about self-leadership and getting clear about your identity and purpose. The direction you’ve been finding will get a serious boost this month through persistent conflict with a teacher or a journey that tests your beliefs. This sparring is not going to feel good! In fact, it could feel undermining, or as if you’re surrounded by enemies. While it’s possible that these enemies are external and real, it’s more likely that this showdown that you think is external is between you and your inner critic. On the 20th of October, if you’ve done the work, an email, social media post, or maybe a contact with an extended family member will illuminate how much you have learned, how your beliefs might have shifted, and how much more you might be able to love yourself.
You’re in the process of learning something deep about where you belong and who your friends and supporters are. Conflicts this month are likely to be about who you’re gathering around you or who has your back, and the martial power you’ll be developing is a little counterintuitive. What you owe (and don’t owe!) folks, and how you handle your obligations more generally, will be the subject of endless refinement, and like a truly gifted martial artist you’ll want to consider both the technical details of each transaction and the profundity of indebtedness writ large. This focus on both proficiency and meaning could open big doors to your future, which seems to be focused on spiritual and psychological growth. And keep in mind that you’re going to be learning in public. Around October 20, a conflict within your community that pits what you have against what you owe will either showcase your newfound facility for managing your debts or expose your insecurity… likely a little bit of both.