This month is the turning point of the year. Right now, everything is still lush and green, with just a touch of yellow here and there. But buried in every leaf is the imprint of its inevitable cycle, a cycle that exists in me as well. Each of them will eventually make that spiraling journey to the ground.
This is the time of year when we all hear a little voice in our heads saying, “Prepare.” We know we must get ready for the leanness of winter. I don’t have to chop and stockpile wood, or mash berries into jam, or turn over the fields. I live in a world of central heating and well-stocked supermarket shelves. But there’s still something in me that listens to that little voice, and that makes ready for change.
This September is a turning point composed of several pivotal events. For one thing, there are two eclipses, a solar eclipse on September 13 and a lunar on September 27, and eclipses always signal important new beginnings. These are chances to throw off some outworn aspect of your life, and begin again. The solar eclipse occurs in Virgo – where Jupiter is also positioned - so it’s especially good for changes in health practices, work routines, and daily patterns.
Virgo is the sign of practical work, of tools, of herbs and grains, and of service to the community. For our ancestors, this was the time when we worked together to gather and dry and preserve the things that would keep us healthy through the winter. We shared knowledge about healing techniques. We made sure that everyone would have what they needed to survive the cold days. It was a time of industry and efficiency.
This eclipse will bring many people back to an innate sense that things need to be done, and done well and thoroughly, before the season changes. It will guide people away from the abstract and towards the immediate and practical. And so it can mean working together towards specific, measurable goals.
The challenge of Virgo is that it’s a sign of discrimination. The ability to discriminate is vital to doing a good job; you have to know what works and what doesn’t. But old, deeply-held prejudices can give a limited sense of community, so that these Virgoan good works don’t go as far as they could.
At this solar eclipse, the sun and moon are inconjunct the rebel planet Uranus, and so there’s some tension around the Virgoan tendency to control, define and limit. Uranus is constantly pushing to open up the dialogue, to act upon a passionate desire for liberation. But in this new chapter signaled by the eclipse, liberation requires a definite agenda, a set of tasks, a to-do list.
We see this most clearly in the Black Lives Matter movement, where there’s been success in getting the basic message out, and directing attention to the problem of racist policing. But continued momentum requires more specific goals, along with a structure that will support these. That will be the next turning point. Ecological activists, too, will focus more on tools and techniques, and on finding ways to make them fit seamlessly into ordinary people’s lives.
When it comes to feminism, the movement has been pretty diffident in the last few decades. The focus has mainly been on health and work issues, rather than on larger, more inclusive messages. The Virgo solar eclipse underlines this tendency, but it can also mean some significant gains in these areas. The recent concentrated attack on Planned Parenthood can be fought from a widespread awareness of the practical, immediate value of the organization. And the battle makes it clear that the right wing is trying to take away some of the tools that women use in our everyday lives.
The Virgo solar eclipse supports a candidate like Bernie Sanders, who tends to be pretty specific and practical in his approach. (He has the sun, Neptune, and north node in Virgo.) When politicians speak in generalized sound-bites, they become much less relevant, and so I think the Virgo emphasis of September will narrow the field.
On September 17, Jupiter and Neptune face off across the Virgo/Pisces axis. This axis holds the tension between faith and reason.
On one side, you have the mystical, transcendent Neptune in Pisces, and on the other, you have the community workhorse, Jupiter in Virgo. The question that keeps emerging is: what do you believe? This question drives Jupiter in Virgo crazy. For Virgo, if a system works, it’s good, and if it doesn’t, it’s not so good. It’s not so important what you may believe. But the right wing is living in a climate supported by a fervent set of beliefs. And when it pins political stances to questions of faith, the right doesn’t have to make sense. These beliefs don’t have to “work”.
The right wing largely mobilizes around a rejection of gay marriage and the right to abortion. People weren’t going to get hot and bothered about tax issues and the rights of corporations, so the party core found something else to get people demonstrating, voting, and donating money. Something that relates to deeper questions around sexuality and identity, and so feels a lot scarier to those who believe they’ve figured these things out.
With September’s Jupiter/Neptune opposition, this faith vs. works question is going to be highlighted. Of course, the best solution is for both sides to identify their areas of faith, as well as their commitment to particular areas of community work. And this is happening, as social justice movements find religious allies. Even the Pope has turned out to be an ally in certain struggles. And many right wing religious organizations do practical work in their communities, helping to feed the hungry, so there’s a point of connection there too.
But when faith is connected to deeper fears, it’s more pointed, more feral. As Mercury goes into its three-week retrograde phase, right after this Jupiter/Neptune opposition, we are all thrown back into the unfinished business of the past. Old struggles are re-fought. Old prejudices and assumptions have to be addressed and vanquished. And because Mercury is in Libra, there will be some legal battles along the way, and some people will be held accountable.
And at just about the same time, Saturn enters Sagittarius, the sign of inspiration, philosophy, global awareness and community activism, where it will spend the next two years. Sagittarius gives an overview. It hangs a banner high up in the room in which all the Virgo workhorses are doing their thing. This banner is a call for adventure, a call to create a new future.
Quite a few revolutionary figures were born with Saturn in Sagittarius, among them Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emma Goldman, Mahatma Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Maria Montessori, Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, Eartha Kitt, Elie Wiesel, Cesar Chavez, Maya Angelou, Sidney Poitier, Che Guevara, Martina Navratilova, and Ellen Degeneres.
This is not to say that everyone born with Saturn in Sagittarius has had a progressive agenda. It gives passion for a cause, but not all causes are equally benevolent. Everybody will be more zealous during the next couple of years, and so there will be some fiery clashes between different world-views.
But one thing that Saturn in Sagittarius will do is remind us that it’s important to keep moving, to keep envisioning and creating a better world. There will be times when we’re all trying to do this, while operating at cross-purposes, and there will be a lot of commotion without change. But there will be other times in which inspiration runs through us. Each person lights up, and in turn, passes this light to all the people they can reach. And we can all reach a lot of people.