Tuesday, October 4, 2022



There’s a place for old habits and patterns. They make for a smooth life, as your body remembers the way you did everything yesterday and automatically does it in the same way today. No decisions are made, no extra energy expended.


But when you move to a new place, you retrain yourself, and that’s what I’ve been doing. When I reach for a dishtowel, it’s in a different place. When I make myself a pot of tea, all the little gestures are slightly different, even if I end up with an identical brew. When I wake up in the middle of the night, it takes me a moment to remember where the bathroom is.


I’ve been relearning how to move through my daily life, in the two weeks that we’ve been in this new apartment. We’re in a more urban environment, leaving behind the whirr of lawn mowers and the snow drifts of the suburbs. I like it here, and I especially like living across the street from the library. I can practically hear the books speaking among themselves, murmuring their facts and fictions.


One thing that’s different about this place is the balance between light and darkness. On the west side of the apartment is a large bay window, and on a sunny afternoon, it sheds an intoxicating amount of light over the golden hardwood floor, stretching all the way through the living room to the kitchen. The light is so glorious that you just want to lap it up. We moved on a day warm enough to open the window, and we could hear the conversations of people in the street below. We felt plugged in to the life of this small city.  


On the east side of the apartment is my study, and no sunlight reaches here. When I walk in in the morning, it’s a cave, and my computer screen is like a deep glossy well. I grope for the first lamp, and then walk through the room twisting switches of all sizes and shapes, making the light happen. Then I turn on the computer, and it bursts into color.


The front door is also on the east side of the apartment. This is apt, given that traditionally you enter a sacred circle in the east, the direction of new beginnings. From the door, especially in the afternoon, we walk towards the bright light of the west side window. This reminds me of the journey made by every human on this planet – to begin in the darkness of the womb and to move towards that famous tunnel of light. The setting sun symbolizes the end of life, something I’m comfortable with in my later years.    


It figures that we would move into this place around the time of the fall equinox, and that the sun and Venus are now moving through Libra, the sign of the scales. (Next week, Mercury will also be in this sign.) This is the time when day and night are equals, when our consciousness strives for balance.


Libra’s opposite on the zodiacal wheel is Aries, and currently Jupiter is moving through the first degrees of Aries. The Aries/Libra axis is all about the delicate negotiations of relationships, the balance of interests between the Self and the Other. Aries represents the immediacy of the self, while Libra is all duality, about understanding other people.


The Aries imperative is to be clear about what’s meaningful to you. The Libra stance is to recognize that we all create meaning for each other, all the time.  Aries, a fire sign, fights hard for independence, and can see Libra as too wishy-washy, too ready to see the other side of every question. Libra, an air sign, is the idealist, the peacemaker, and sometimes this can mean giving up personal power and privilege in order to share them with others. 


So October is a significant month, when it comes to working out ways to live with each other. We are all somewhere on this track, moving from birth to death. We all carry a passionate spark of individuality, and we are also molded by the relationships around us. We can be both, just as this apartment contains both darkness and light.


There are a lot of new beginnings in October, as we pass the autumn equinox, the halfway point of the zodiacal year.  We’ve already seen a weather shift, with Hurricane Ian a glaring reminder of our mishandling of the relationship between land and water. We stole the land from the water, and the water’s way of regaining balance is to take the land back. Climate change is all about the earth’s efforts to re-establish equilibrium. When we go to extremes in our use of the planet’s resources, it has to go to extremes to counter us.


And yes, October means a new session of the Supreme Court. Libra is the sign of justice, but will justice prevail? We’ve already seen a Court hopelessly corrupted by McConnell’s dirty tricks, refusing to vote on a legitimate nominee during Obama’s tenure, and then rushing through much less legitimate judges during Trump’s tenure. Trump was a minority-rule president, as most of the last Republicans have been. And so, at this point, the current Supreme Court doesn’t represent the people. It represents the interests of the powerful few.


Voting itself is a very Libran concept. Imagine equitably counting the votes and then conforming to the will of the majority! Who thought of that? Shouldn’t we just have a free-for-all, and the last one standing gets to decide everything? There’s a large bloc that has always believed this. And there are many people who give lip service to democracy, but feel queasy at the idea of actually distributing power to the masses. But social imbalance is not sustainable, and sooner or later there is a mass effort to make things right.


It's the Libran way to fight for justice through voting, through the courts, through dialogue and persuasion, through community efforts.  But if this doesn’t do the trick -  well, by the end of the month, we’ll see the sun, Venus, Mercury and the lunar south node all in Scorpio. And Scorpio is not as polite a sign as Libra. It’s a sign of extremes. It’s not coincidental that this month ends with a holiday which involves dressing up as whatever you fear most.


Large, abrupt changes are disruptive, often violent, but they too are efforts to end imbalance. When the tipping point is reached, things fall. It’s natural and inevitable. So the question is – what can we do before we reach that point?  There are still opportunities to retrain ourselves, mostly by seeing where the imbalance exists, talking about it, and sharing solutions.   


So let’s appreciate the incremental but principled movements of Libra. The sign of balance is all about the energy that flows both ways, between darkness and light, night and day, law and liberty, self and other. Balance here doesn’t mean stagnation, but rather many small changes all the time, each change conscious of the others. It’s a gentle, responsive dance of opposites.  


It's idealistic, I know, but that’s Libra for you. But it’s also true of astrology, a symbol system that’s full of oppositional patterns. We all feel these inner tensions between one thing and its opposite, and yet we’re breathing in and out, finding balance in each moment. We are darkness and we are light, and all we need to do is accept our shared humanity in this world of contrasts.