With the Sun having entered Scorpio just a few days ago and Halloween just around the corner, we are starting down the path of the hours of darkness outnumbering the hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere. In the ancient Celtic world this was celebrated with Samhain, the festival celebrating the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. There is a definite sense of descending into the underworld during this time. In the northern hemisphere, the days are getting darker and colder and rainier, and we can literally see the deciduous trees shedding their leaves and shutting down until spring.
Although this can seem like a dark time and a time of death, there is a beauty in the turning inward and the introspection that this time brings. Even if we may not consciously be reflecting inward, it is highly likely that we are spending more time at home under a blanket than we did during the summer when we were much more outwardly facing and social. This is a time to think about the seeds we are metaphorically developing that will blossom in the springtime. Are we the kind of person we want to be? Are we living out our values? This isn’t a time to berate ourselves (which is rarely helpful for personal transformation anyway!), but it is a wonderful check-in point to see if we want to change course or alter direction.
And in so many ways, this is what the sign of Scorpio is really all about. Scorpio is a sign that celebrates the depths, and the very beginnings of seedlings that form that will grow into something amazing in the spring.
The Sun is not particularly at home in Scorpio. The Sun thrives when it is seen, and nothing about the Scorpio season celebrates what is seen. However, if the Sun spends its time in Scorpio wisely, it is likely that what the Sun manifests when he makes his way around the zodiac to Aries will be simply amazing. There is no beautiful thing to see without much work going on in the depths and behind the scenes. And this is what the Scorpio Sun is all about. Preparing what is below so that it can burst forth into glory.
It doesn’t feel arbitrary to me that in the classic “Zodiacal Man” which correlates Zodiac signs with body regions, that Scorpio is associated with (among other things) the reproductive organs. There is definitely a pre-birth component to Scorpio that ensures that there is something to be born in the spring.
Scorpio is also a Fixed Water sign, which further gives us clues into the characteristics of the Scorpio season. Fixed signs don’t change quickly, and they represent the most stable part of the season they occupy. (For Scorpio, this is midway through the Autumn.) There is a sense that it is really Fall. Leaves are falling, the weather is getting colder, the days are getting darker; we can’t fool ourselves into thinking that we are still in the Summer the way we often can during Libra season. This is one of the beautiful things about the Fixed signs; they so thoroughly manifest the power of the season they inhabit that we can see the full archetype of that season. For Autumn in the northern hemisphere, that full archetype represents a decent into darkness. In most areas, it also represents an increase in moisture and rain (remember that Scorpio is a Water sign! It is not surprising that our Fixed Water sign heralds the coming of wet days!).
With so much happening astrologically in fixed signs in 2021, the Sun’s entrance into Scorpio also prepares it to square or oppose Saturn, Uranus, and Jupiter over the next month. That is a set of three major aspects! There are definitely many areas for each of us to dig up within ourselves that will be difficult and unexpected, but that also have so much potential to really help us in our journey through life (especially with the final major aspect of the month being a square to our greater benefic planet Jupiter). Hard times are hard; but hard times can also bring good, even though good may feel so far from us.
As I watch the rain outside of my front window today and think about what that means for the Scorpio archetype, I am reminded that pre-birth typically involves darkness and water. That could be the water and darkness that cause a seed to sprout in the earth, the water and darkness that surround a baby in the womb, the tears we may cry in the darkness before we can rise at dawn as a stronger person, or the water and darkness from which humanity collectively came eons ago. Water and darkness are the harbingers of the change of life.
This is the beauty of our Scorpio season; it is our time to go deep within the dark areas of ourselves, do our shadow work, look unflinchingly into our truest selves and prepare the correct seeds to sprout during warmer seasons. This season, I hope I can work from this place of not re-birth, but pre-birth. Which dark corners of ourselves are ripe for examination so that we can manifest something different in the future than we have in the past? Scorpio contains the magic of that work; it is a time to prepare.
There has been so much change across the world over the past several months that it almost feels unbelievable that there could be much more change. However, May 10-15 was a significant week on the astrological front and, while nothing as prominent as the Saturn-Pluto conjunction happened over that week, there were still subtle but distinct shifts in energy that all of us will feel more or less, depending on natal chart placements.
Let’s start with Saturn, which stationed retrograde at 1 degree of Aquarius on Sunday, 5/10 in the Pacific timezone. There was a little relief when Saturn departed from Capricorn so that it was no longer co-present with Pluto and the South Node. Now Saturn is headed back for its last set of interactions in Capricorn for almost three decades, and there will definitely be a theme of closing things out. Although Saturn won’t actually enter Capricorn until July 2nd, its retrograde slows down any momentum that it has been gathering in Aquarius and moves it closer to revisiting its conjunction with Pluto. Wherever Capricorn lies in your natal chart, expect a brief return to some of those recurring, perhaps more difficult, Saturn/Pluto themes from the past 2 and a half year as those energies become fully integrated in your life and head towards their final chapter.
One day later, on May 11th, Mercury moved into Gemini. Moving from the slow, plodding fixed sign of Taurus into its home sign of Gemini will be a move that greatly strengthens Mercury’s power, and communication will see an energetic boost. This is one of the more positive movements in the month of May, and any boost we can get to communication (particularly given that the majority of it is now done via video conferencing for most of us!) will be welcome.
One day later, late, on May 12th, Mars finally departed Aquarius for Pisces. While Mars in Pisces is not particularly inspiring as the Piscean dreaminess is antithetical to the Mars “get things done” attitude, this will be the first time since Feb 17th that Saturn and Mars won’t sharea sign. Putting a sign boundary between them should definitely provide some relief from the Mars/Saturn tension from the earlier part of the year. Mars in Pisces will likely be all about “doing”, but will direct that “doing” based on Piscean/dreamy intentions that may or may not be reflected in objective reality, so some of this Martian action may not result in the intended consequence. When Mars departs Pisces for Aries on June 28th, we will likely see a much more aligned, effective energetic push towards movement and accomplishment!
A few hours after Mars departed Aquarius, late on May 12th, Venus stationed retrograde in Gemini. While a retrograde Venus certainly doesn’t make relationships easier, it provides an excellent opportunity to revisit aspects of your relationships that may or may not be working and provide the chance to really evaluate what is serving you in your relationships, and what could benefit from an overhaul.
Then, two days later on May 14th, Jupiter joined Pluto, Saturn, and Venus in retrograde motion as it stationed at 27 degrees Capricorn. All of these retrograde planets will definitely lead to a collective “slowing down” with less forward motion than we would typically like, and a lot of revisiting old ideas/thoughts/evaluations in our minds over and over as we look for better solutions, and generally experience delayed gratification, particularly since both benefics – Venus and Jupiter – are among the retrograde planets.
Bottom line: there was a lot of planetary action starting the week of May 10th, and much of it related to planets moving retrograde!
In fact, we saw three planets station retrograde during that four day period. The word retrograde comes from the two Latin roots of gradi (meaning “to walk”) and retro (meaning “backwards”). So the word literally means to walk backwards. And that is exactly how retrogrades tend to feel… as though we have taken the proverbial two steps forward and one step backward, unable to make the forward progress we are trying to and likely feeling somewhat frustrated in the attempt. This will be felt in nearly all areas of our charts that these four planets touch. Mercury will join the retrograde party on June 18, just a few days before Venus stations direct on June 24/25. We will be dealing with this general planetary retrograde motion for several months, as the various remaining outer planets move into retrograde (Neptune on June 23, Uranus on August 16, and Mars on September 10). As can be seen from the rough diagram below, all of the planets will spend some amount of time retrograde in 2020, and some of them (particularly the outer planets) will spend a significant portion of the year in retrograde.
What do all of these retrogrades mean? How “bad” are retrogrades? Although the idea of taking two steps forward and one step back doesn’t sound appealing to most of us, it seems as though it is already a strikingly accurate description for the way the after-effects of the giant Saturn-Pluto conjunction that coincided with the worldwide covid-19 pandemic are playing out. This is true on both an individual level and on a collective level.
Collective Retrograde Effects
As a collective, it would be hard to think of another time in recent history in which we have spent so much time agonizing and re-agonizing over decisions, trying to find the correct path forward. The news the past few weeks is rife with economic re-opening plans that are continuously re-evaluated as more data becomes available. Expected economic re-opening dates are announced, and then get pushed out farther. Re-openings start to happen and then are brought to a halt again. Restaurants are poised and ready to open and are continuously reviewing all guidelines for a safe re-opening over and over as more as the guidelines start to formalize.
Personal Retrograde Effects
And then, on a personal level, even for those geographic areas and industries where the economy is starting to re-open, everything looks very different than before and there is a feeling of having “retrograded” from the freedom that we experienced in January. Going grocery shopping takes longer than usual and requires extra vigilance to keep six feet between yourself and others. Even an activity as simple as walking down a sidewalk requires attention to detail and frequent detours to the road to keep from inadvertently passing too near another person. Buying simple items like flour or toilet paper may require trips to multiple stores.
Retrograde Effects by Planet
Yes, we are certainly seeing classic retrograde symptoms in our world already. And if we look at the four planets currently in retrograde (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto), how would we expect to see this manifested in particular?
Venus is retrograde in Gemini, which at a surface level would indicate that communication in our relationships would be delayed/frustrated during this time. YES!! Has anyone not been struggling to communicate over Zoom, with family, friends, and coworkers during this time! Has anyone not experienced Zoom fatigue on multiple levels over the past few months? Is there anyone whose communication has been been overall easier and more understandable and concise recently. (If so, we should talk; I would love to see your natal chart! 😉 )
Jupiter & Pluto
Jupiter and Pluto are retrograde in Capricorn, which would lead us to think transformation (Pluto) and prosperity/growth (Jupiter) would experience delays/frustration in many of our erected structures (whether political, social, governmental, etc). YES!! All of the boundaries which we have erected based on social distancing/flattening the curve are slowing down prosperity/growth on a global as well as a personal scale. In addition, our efforts to transform the structures around the ways we work has been painful and difficult for many of us. Finding our new daily routine, adapting to life without physically spending time with friends, family, or coworkers, figuring out how to either manage being unemployed during this time or how to continue working effectively from home…. this has required a transformation for all of us in all of our daily habits and routines.
Saturn is currently retrograde in Aquarius (and soon to be Capricorn) before it goes direct. That would lead us to look for delays relating to boundaries and new and potentially revolutionary technologies as well as humanitarian efforts. Again, we are certainly seeing struggles in those areas. As we attempt to find a balance between providing support for those affected either physically or economically by the virus, we are all caught in a macroscopic and microscopic struggle to find new ways of working, new ways of helping others, new ways of slowing down the virus, etc.
What can we expect next? Neptune is the next planet to go retrograde in Pisces (its home sign) on June 23. All of this collective energy of dreaminess may result in assumptions based on fantasy rather than reality that further slow down our ability to move out of this massive covid-19 time. Or, since Neptune is in its home sign in Pisces and hopefully exhibiting its more positive qualities despite the retrograde, maybe the Piscean collective dreaminess and knowledge that we are all together in this will result in some creative (although potentially delayed) solutions?
Regardless, while this is a long stretch with a variety of planetary challenges and we find ourselves re-evaluating decisions over and over as more data becomes available and conclusions we made last week may now be irrelevant, it is important to find the areas where these configurations can counter-intuitively set us up for success and help us move forward in the longer-term.
We have all been given a unique opportunity to evaluate what really has a purpose in our lives versus what has just “been there” but doesn’t reflect an energy we want to cultivate. This could be a habit we want to break, a person who doesn’t contribute to the energy we want to surround ourselves with, a job that doesn’t fulfill us, a lifestyle choice that we have outgrown, a routine we don’t have job in following. We can all pay particular attention to the houses in which these retrograde planets fall for us for pointers on which areas of our lives could benefit from a second look. (Certainly the Capricorn house in each person’s chart will have been particularly activated over the past several years and especially in the first half of 2020.)
Essentially as some of the largest cyclical motions in our solar system have temporarily ground to a halt and slowly reversed directions, a pause button has effectively been pressed. We all have the opportunity to step back, evaluate the direction of our lives, and make any needed changes so that we are ready as the pause button is released. When fairer skies come in the future, they may be even fairer based on our ability to evaluate the areas of our lives that need to be transformed and on our motivation to put in the work (whether physical, psychological, spiritual, or emotional) to do just that.
I feel Pluto in the air each and every day these days. I feel a deep heaviness which falls deeper into my body than the Saturn heaviness. I know that Saturn (rightfully!) is getting a lot of focus in the current climate, but let us not forget that Pluto has also been traversing Capricorn since November 26, 2008 (synchronistically, a time of economic recession in the United States) and will be there until January 21, 2024. Let us also not forget that is was the highly visible Saturn and Pluto conjunction in mid-January that kicked off many of the events in this subsequent cycle. Also for reference, the last time Pluto was in Capricorn was in 1762-1778 (also a time of great upheaval!). Pluto has a long transit cycle, and I think that is part of the point of its power. Pluto has been almost synonymous with “transformation” among astrologers, and true transformation doesn’t happen quickly. Transformation may be catalyzed in an instant or in a single event, but the resulting change that leads to lasting transformation grinds away slowly over the following months. That is the type of transformation I feel happening within myself, and also within in the world. I will call out that I am going through a Pluto square with my natal Pluto, which is probably making Pluto’s energy appear all the stronger to me. But still, when I observed how quickly Mars skipped through Capricorn (Feb 17th – Mar 31st – about six weeks) and then compared that with Pluto’s long, agonizingly slow trek through the same sign (about sixteen years!), Pluto’s transit feels almost unbelievably long.
Most people’s worlds have been turned upside down quickly (about the time Mars passed through Capricorn, lighting a match and activating Pluto and Saturn in quick succession and likely catalyzing many of the February and March events), and yet the actual transformation that will result in people’s lives as a result of this crisis has only begun to unfold. There is still so much to be experienced and suffered and learned before the last vibratory notes signal the end of this epochal time. People’s sense of security has been shaken to the core; people are finding that trust in their finances, their health, or their government may have been misplaced. There is a sense of betrayal that the entire world can have come to this state, and even people’s own day-to-day autonomy is no longer theirs to command, as the United States (and many other areas around the world) are insisting on social isolation, the closure of businesses, and only emerging from your house for critical reasons.
That sense of betrayal in safety and security is where much of the real Plutonian transformation will occur over the following months and years. People will likely no longer feel as confident in the economy. Or in their job (or even in their industry). Or in the way they have been able to rely on friends and family (much harder when you can’t leave your house to see anyone!) Most of the people living through this time are still in a state of shock and are more focused on how to stay healthy, find canned beans and toilet paper, and get through the acute phase of this ordeal than they are in thinking about any longer term changes in their psyche.
However, the interesting thing about transformation is that it is typically what happens internally in our deep psyche while we’re focused on intense circumstances instead of on our psyche. In fact, we often aren’t aware of the full extent of the transformation until we come out the other side and reflect on the naivety of our previous self; that self that had a more limited set of experiences and fewer scars. In that way, transformation is very like the shadow that we often associate with Pluto; hidden from view, obscure, and representing an absence of light or attention. Even in the light of the current astrological flurry relating to covid-19, the primary focus is on Saturn, while the large, slow gears of Pluto’s quiet, merciless transformation continue to turn.
What does this mean for us in the throes of the acuteness of coronavirus?
Maybe there is no work we can consciously do. Maybe there is nothing but a shadow, and it is hard to work with something so ephemeral that it is defined merely as the absence of light. Or maybe it means that it is time to take a deep breath and consciously start our inner Plutonian work. Start excavating those dark craters of our life that we have been neglecting but in which insecurity has arisen as a result of our world being shaken. Maybe proactively embracing Pluto in Capricorn’s iron will to deconstruct an entire structure and erect a new one will make this process less painful.
Capricorn reigns during the winter solstice, the darkest part of the year in the northern hemisphere, leaving plenty of darkness and shadows in which Pluto can do its work. And until the shadows clear and the sun emerges, it may be difficult to see what the shadows have wrought.