Today is a point of balance, the Autumn or Spring Equinox. An ancient memory may stir within us at this time of awakening and surrender as wildflowers thrust their bright faces towards the sun in the south and a flutter of copper leaves quilt the northern hemisphere in russet and gold. On September 23rd, the Sun moves from the self-contained, contemplative archetype of Virgo into Venus-ruled Libra, the only sign of the zodiac represented by an inanimate object—libra justitiae, The Scales of Justice.
In the metaphorical language of astrology, the Libran part of our own birth chart will be illuminated for the next month as we practice and perfect the art of relating to others in an uncertain world, as we continually adjust, realign, re-establish our balance on the beam of life.
This is a time of weighing up, of accountability, and of carefully considering the promises we make, the promises we keep, to others and to ourselves. There’s a celestial line-up in relationship-orientated Libra right now—between September 22nd and 25th Venus and Mercury square Saturn and the South Node, that point of release, of old karma, that comfortable place of discomfort that draws us backwards, just when we begin to move forward. Saturn, associated with structure and boundaries, is said to be exalted in the Cardinal sign of Libra, so this month our integrity will be tested by those people or circumstances that knock us off balance, shatter our calm test our boundaries and our commitment. As we feel ourselves pulled into the dust storm of political intrigue and economic recession, we may be tempted to tumble from the beam as we wage war with the politicians, as we snipe at our lover, as we shame or abuse our body.
The Libran New Moon on 28th September (5° Libra) arrives with charm and grace and the promise of compromise. The Moon is invisible when she’s new, but she carries potent unseen energy if we have the courage to step back into balance, to find that still point of silence at the Centrepoint of our heart. We may begin to notice where we feel fractious, frazzled, out of kilter. We may buy ourselves a bunch of fresh flowers, close the curtains and light a candle, enjoy a favourite meal with the one we love. The fast-moving Libran Sun makes a square to Saturn and Mars moves into Libra on October 5th strengthening the need to carefully consider and weigh, restore the balance, before taking action.
The Full Moon on October 13th brings the raw vitality and verve of Aries to what we have imagined or initiated at the New Libran Moon. We hold the tension of opposites with Aries (self) and Libra (other). This Full Moon will reflect the state of our relationships. The bonds of love and loyalty that bind. The untethered ambiguity of those casual encounters that so easily tilt and topple. Research links happy committed relationship to lower stress levels, better immune function, and lower mortality rates, as oxytocin and vasopressin activate parts of the brain associated with calm, even the suppression of anxiety and pain.
Libra is associated with the solemn ritual of marriage, the ethics of contracts and agreements. Mystic John O’ Donohue writes, “when we approach each other and become one, a new fluency comes alive. A lost world retrieves itself when our words build a new circle.” It’s the symbol of the circle, the wedding ring, that contains us and offers a bulwark against the uncertainty of the world as Pluto’s passage through Capricorn (2008-2023) agitates the dark currents of power, politics and big business.
In the West, we’ve inherited a biblical injunction that marriage is sacrosanct juxtaposed with the view of the ancient Greek philosophers and French rationalists, where the right of the individual to happiness is enshrined. Writes Esther Perel, “we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide.”
As we re-imagine the institution of marriage, we begin a dance that requires balance and commitment to staying the course in a world that seems so uncertain. Psychologist Sue Johnson writes, “this drive to emotionally attach—to find someone to whom we can turn and say ‘Hold me tight’—is wired into our genes and our bodies. It is as basic to life, health, and happiness as the drives for food, shelter, or sex. We need emotional attachments with a few irreplaceable others to be physically and mentally healthy—to survive.”
Marriage can flay and brand, or softly kiss our soul. It is through our sentimentality, our innocence, our insistence in the “happily ever after” and the romantic dream of the marriage made in heaven, that we meet the dark challenges that a soul-ful union will always toss, like a gauntlet, before us. It is through the difficulties, often the sojourns in hell, that we refine the prima materia, the raw stuff of life, and learn the phases of Love in all their complexity. Writes Amy Bloom, “marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner.”
On a metaphysical level, the ritual of Marriage is sacred. It is a rite of passage, through which we metamorphose into a deeper, more soulful self. We integrate the masculine and the feminine within; we discover that he or she is not the god/goddess we thought they were. We discover we cannot depend on our partner to make us whole, to love us forever and ever, or to make us happy.
Perhaps we could see marriage as a threshold into a mansion of self-discovery. An archaeological dig into the layers of our ancestral past. A calabash that holds the milk of compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and for each other when we make mistakes, behave appallingly. Perhaps we ought not give up too soon, stand on our soap boxes pontificating about the flaws and weaknesses of the other. Perhaps then we will learn to truly love one another and not make a bond of marriage, but a circle of love that protects those who dwell within.
You were born together, and together you shall be forever more. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days—Kahlil Gibran.
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