October is the month of the dead. This is the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. This is the time of the ancient festival of Samhain when we remember those who have gone before us, when we confront inevitable endings and that great taboo. DEATH.
In October, leaves of gold turn to mulch. Shimmering spiderwebs sparkle in coppery hedgerows. In October, Death is monetised. Brightened, kept at bay with a parody of plastic costumes and grotesque face paint destined for land fill.
“Endings seem to lie in wait” wrote the mystic and poet, John O’Donohue who died as he slept in the January of 2008. Endings lie in wait in those ordinary instants, those unremarkable moments when quite suddenly, life as we knew it is over, our security, sameness, ruthlessly snatched away.
Spectral plumes of mist curl from rust-coloured forests and from the hilltops the plaintive roars of the rutting red deer promise new life and the ambush of death this month. As the Sun moves through Scorpio now, we enter the reflective depths and we think about endings. Many of us may be sitting with uncertainty, painfully paring away those things that no longer serve us. We may feel scooped out, dead inside, the vestiges of a long illness still lodged in our bones. Endings come with the loss of our identity when we retire; with the changes in our body as we age, our brave beauty etched in our faces, our strength shining through our eyes. Endings so often strip us of our innocence. They come in the brutal betrayal that spills diamonds and rust from the forgotten places in our heart. “You sit down to dinner and life as you know it, ends,” wrote Joan Didion.
On the eve of a new Scorpio Moon on October 25th, Sun and Moon hold a séance with Venus in regenerative Scorpio, accenting the cartography of our heart. This eclipse amplifies the finality of endings; fertilises a new cycle of growth with the dust of demolition. Tonight, we come back to what we deeply value. And what we must discard or choose to keep. A solar eclipse is a high-voltage new moon, and a new moon encapsulates the seed of a new beginning, a new shaping of our expectations, though we may not be able to see just what they are until the Moon is ripe and full. And as this new moon travels between the Earth and the Sun, darkening the Sun’s brilliance, something, someone may be eclipsed. This symbolism is made all the more poignant in a culture where the brilliance of externalised power and earthly matters command the spotlight in 24-hour news loops and on social media. The essence of eclipses lingers like an expensive perfume, for two weeks before and after the eclipse. They act as celestial highlighters, amplifying, intensifying energy and they can be game changers.
As the UK Tory party faces yet another crisis, transiting Uranus symbolises the unexpected changes in political fortunes—“I’m a fighter, not a quitter,” said Liz Truss before being routed within a day. Uranus was moving over Mars in her birth chart. As I write, Boris Johnson gains the necessary 100 MP nominations for the leadership, then pulls as transiting Venus conjoins his Moon. Uranus conjoins and Saturn squares Rushi Sunak’s Mercury/Sun conjunction in Taurus. Will he become prime minister or could Boris volte face again and return as PM to dismember the Tory party?
The darkly brooding presence of Pluto, Scorpio’s modern ruler, casts a long shadow over the month of October in world events, perhaps in our own lives with news that has reminded us of the impermanence of this life. Pluto stationed direct on October 8th and the heightened effect may have lingered for a week before and afterwards in our own lives, most certainly in world events. There is a quality of the absolute that lingers and settles over us all now and presses its hard edges into our daily lives. Writes Joan Didion, “It’s easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends.” Something bigger than us, something fated, is at work.
We may remember that for the ancient Greeks, Fate came in the form of three Moirai, those three sisters who determined the Fate of every living creature. It was Atropos who cut the thin thread of life. We meet Fate when the Nodes of the Moon transit the planets or angles of our birth chart. The South Node draws us back, into the undertow of the past; we hesitate at the threshold, we circle endlessly in our place of discomfort. The North Node is where we see the diamond of our destiny, although the threshold crossing is never easy. Something is calling us to our purpose, our ability as a race to love and heal and to nurture one another and all creatures great and small.
Jupiter slips back into diffuse Pisces on October 28th and will tread water at 29° till November 12th, drawing us collectively and personally into the shape-shifting realm of water that washes and dissolves the structures of life. Jupiter represents our search for meaning, faith and hope, yet also accompanies bloated optimism, grandiosity, and greed. Jupiter moved through this degree point in early May 2022 as Mariupol was besieged and the divisive issue of abortion escalated. Scorpio is a feminine sign, and paradoxically ruled by testosterone-driven Mars. With Scorpio there can be no compromises. Death, darkness, trans-formation, may be unfolding themes in our lives this month and in our collective future “Light thinks it travels faster than anything, but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it” writes Terry Pratchett, in Reaper Man.
Mars, the war god is moving wearily through the heavens now. We may need more rest, more space to sit with painful emotions. Mars stations Retrograde on October 30th, and the battle out there may be an inner battle with the simmering heat of our rage; with our thwarted desires, with our view of the world that is predisposed to battle. “We have not yet arrived, but every point at which we stop requires a re-definition of our destination,” writes poet, Ben Okri, in Tales of Freedom.
As Nature contracts, exposing an uncompromising knot-work of bare branches and stubble fields; as the primordial pulse of the year stirs deep in our blood and bones, we might sense a slow, steady certainty moving through our body. This lunation carries the seed for repair, for release and renewal, if we trust the instruction of our hearts and know that death, like birth, is both an ending and a beginning. As we pause awhile, in this world of dying things, may those dead places in ourselves open to Love in new and deeper ways.
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