New Moon in Libra

griffins

ca 1st – 2nd Century

New Moon in Libra

Darkness surrounds every New Moon, as the Moon withdraws its reflected light to be reseeded by the Sun. With the Moon shrouded in black each month as it approaches its revivifying solar union, we are invited to silently recenter within the mysterious liminality of an old cycle ending while another begins anew. It’s a time fit for feeding ancestors and engaging in cleaning and clearing, opening awareness to whatever next wants to emerge while we tend to what came before. A sense of initiatory descent will be especially palpable during the New Moon in Libra on October 16, as we will need to incubate our knowing intuition to navigate through the rocks and hard places surrounding the lunation.

The New Moon is separating from an opposition with Mars retrograde in Aries and applying toward a demanding square aspect with Saturn in Capricorn, with the Sun in its fall in Libra. The New Moon is also separating from a catalyzing square with Pluto in Capricorn and applying toward a discordant opposition with Eris in Aries. The syzygy in the sign of the Scales will be measuring how we have been impacted by the weight and gravity of the past year that began with the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, as well as the disorienting eruptions that have shattered expectations during the past couple months of Mars volatilizing Saturn and Pluto.

The Libra New Moon demarcates our movement beyond the midpoint of the Mars retrograde period as well as Saturn slowly beginning to separate from Pluto for good, yet simultaneously brings us down into the depths of  all the trouble they have stirred up. Innumerable injustices and instances of oppression and corruption have been exposed creating an impossibly large list of problems in need of solutions. Rather than exhausting yourself by spinning out in too many directions at once, the New Moon in Libra beckons to find nurturance in chthonic caves where wells of restorative cleansing may quench excessive inflammation. Necessity demands cultivating a strength that will sustain instead of drain.

The New Moon is near the degree of the fixed star Spica, the Spike of the Virgin whose light represents the wheat held by the Winged Goddess of the Virgo constellation. Bernadette Brady wrote that the wheat sheaf symbolism of Spica “can be considered a symbol of her [the Goddess] gifts to humankind,” as Spica is a source of brilliant, extraordinary talents and skills. The Coptic people of Egypt named Spica as “Solitary,” which goes well with the New Moon being in the exaltation of Saturn. Though the lunation is surrounded by difficulty on every side, by engaging with the slow, thorough contemplation of Saturn we may receive the gift of realizing the circumstances we need to separate ourselves from and the hardships we need to endure that will be worth it in the end.

Spica is not the only sign of a goddess speaking, however, as Ceres in Aquarius is stationing direct in Aquarius in a flowing trine aspect with the New Moon. Ceres will station direct on October 18 at 28°36′ Aquarius after having been retrograde since it previously stationed on July 6 at 12º49′ Pisces. Ceres in Aquarius will form a supportive air triangle with the New Moon in Libra and the North Node in Gemini that can facilitate vital guidance emerging from purging what needs to be released. Ceres in Aquarius grieves and rages against all the oppression within societal systems she perceives with her piercing intellect. As Ceres stations and speaks out, we can realize essential aspects of our soulfulness through the purgation of emotions that can be likened to the threshing of grain governed by Ceres that reveals the essential vitality hidden in the shedded husk.

Tim Addey in The Seven Myths of the Soul wrote that as goddess of fruitfulness, Demeter (aka Ceres) is most closely aligned with the phase of the hero’s journey in which the hero returns from the other world with the elixir to bring into their home community. To Addey, the hero under the influence of Demeter “is no longer serving his own perfection but the universe’s perfection,” operating “essentially” and “from his very being” rather than out “of mundane conquest.” Spend time listening during the Libra New Moon as Ceres stations, so you may discover what elixir you are gathering to ultimately return with from the sequence of intensifying transits that will bring 2020 to a close.

Justice Pagan Otherworlds Tarot

Justice from the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot

Venus in Virgo rules the New Moon while applying to an opposition with Neptune in Pisces and a trine with Jupiter in Capricorn. The benefics, Venus and Jupiter, being in trine yet each also being in its own fall is a telling signature for the lunation requiring descent into a deeper sense of whatever circumstances you find yourself within. Venus in Virgo is also heading toward forming a square with the transiting lunar nodes, bringing her critical eye to the northern bending of the lunar nodes where she can survey whatever is out of balance and in need of repair. Exalted status symbols are no concern for the star of Aphrodite during the Libra New Moon, as she will be bringing her attention to those in marginalized communities and those in need who have been neglected or ignored.

Neptune in Pisces is casting a mystifying fog over the Libra New Moon through which Venus in Virgo may discern the path we need to take. The false glamorizing of celebrities, hypnotic manipulation of social media, and all the rest of the inessential dross spilling out from the culture of the times will need to be filtered and processed by Venus so we do not become distracted from the heart of the matter at hand. Venus in Virgo may also transmit imaginal insights through its interfacing with Neptune that may surface in dreams or the emergence of omens on our daily path, since Venus is in the domicile of Mercury and Mercury recently stationed retrograde while forming a harmonizing sextile in Scorpio.

Paul Klee Sibyl

Sibylle (1934) by Paul Klee

The other major source of propulsive volatility underlying the Libra New Moon comes from Mercury retrograde in Scorpio applying to an opposition with Uranus in Taurus that will become exact on October 19. The oscillating wattage between Mercury and Uranus will not be new, for Mercury first formed an opposition with Uranus on October 7 after having spent a week building up tension with Uranus before that. We can expect more unexpected announcements and events that radically upturn narratives and plans as they finally complete their opposition. Yet we can prepare by remaining open to the kind of jolting awareness Uranus can bring to longstanding patterns that allows us to finally break free from their grip on us.

Since Mercury stationed retrograde only three days before the lunation, the star of Hermes is full of mischievous tricks to play and oracular messages to deliver.  The first waxing crescent light of the forthcoming lunar cycle will unite with Mercury in Scorpio on October 17, bringing greater clarity for what needs to be emptied and shed with intention during the following week when Mercury will enter its invisible, underworld phase of putrefaction. The closer Mercury comes to uniting with the Sun on October 25, the more Mercury will take on the quality of the Sun’s calcining fire that dissolves what is stuck and opens deeper attuning with needed messages from our unconscious. 

Whatever messages we receive from the opposition between Mercury and Uranus will be important to pay attention to, for the Moon in the forthcoming lunar cycle will wax into fullness on October 31 during a Full Moon in Taurus that will be conjoining Uranus.

Four of Swords

4 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Libra 3 Decan

The New Moon is in the third decan of Libra associated with the Four of Swords tarot card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image above we see what looks to be a funerary knight in prayer under a stained glass window of “PAX.” This image also evokes balancing through meditative silence within a sacred space of solace. Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger in their book on the tarot noted symbols in the image that contrast “inner and outer issues, the abstract world and daily life, perfect ideals and limited reality.”  Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how the figure is in position of re-balancing body and mind like someone laying down to incubate. The funeral atmosphere with the single sword below the figure also evokes cutting away the inessential and false so we may embody more fully the genuine legacy we are meant to leave behind once we depart to the ancestral realm. Fittingly, the stabilizing and providential presence of Jupiter and the psychopomp nature of Mercury are the rulers of the third face of Libra.

Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “A Gyroscope” to the third face of Libra in his book on the decans 36 Faces.  Coppock equated the third face of Libra with the “gyroscopic stability” of “equilibrating movement through a chaotic universe,” as “its secret resides in the eye of the storm, calm and clear as the chaos of desire and fear whirl about.”  Coppock notably pointed out that earlier images associated with the third decan of Libra as found in such text as the Picatrix and Three Books of Occult Philosophy featured images of “furious indulgence” and “extremes of revelry” that co-exist in the third face of Libra along with the equipoise of the Four of Swords image.  Coppock suggested this face reveals the lesson that “the center of balance is always moving, and those who would walk this face must follow the center, however erratic its motion may seem.” Ultimately, Coppock concluded that those who properly traverse the third decan of Libra can “see through the eye of the storm,” discovering equilibrium and sanctuary in even the most chaotic of circumstances.

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs linked Nemesis to the third face of Libra. Known as a goddess who enacts retribution upon those full of hubris, there are diverse stories of her origin that place the parentage of Nemesis in the primordial (Oceanus as her father in some stories, Nyx as her mother in others) as well as her being a sister to the Fates. Nemesis is a divine force of restorative balance, redistributing fortune to correct for what has come disproportionally out of balance and punishing those who arrogantly act out of balance with natural forces of change. Her presence in the decan of the Libra New Moon is a warning that repercussions may be striking those who have been hubristically acting out, while also emphasizing the need to tend to whatever has become out of proportion in your life. Let the Libra New Moon guide you to the excess that needs to be trimmed and the outworn parts of yourself ready to be molted and shed. You will want to lighten your load to be more responsive to the many momentous events that will be erupting during the lunar cycle ahead.

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References

Addey, Tim. (2000). The Seven Myths of the Soul. The Prometheus Trust.

Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.

Burger, Evelin & Fiebig, Johannes. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot. Llewellyn Publications.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Spica. Constellation of Words.

Warnock, Christopher. (2010). Mansions of the Moon: A Lunar Zodiac for Astrology and Magic. Renaissance Astrology.

Communion of Venus & Spica

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Virgo

from Urania’s Mirror (1824)

Venus conjunct Spica

104 A

Evening, / you gather back / all that dazzling dawn has put asunder: / you gather a lamb / gather a kid / gather a child to its mother

104 B

of all stars the most beautiful

— Sappho fragments translated by Anne Carson

Venus has been glowing in the twilight of cooling Virgo sunsets recently with Spica, commonly known as one of the most beneficent fixed stars in astrology. On August 31 and September 1 the star of Aphrodite aligned by zodiacal degree as well as visually in the sky with Spica, the ear of wheat in the left hand of the Winged Goddess in the Virgo constellation (for a visual look at this Earthsky article). Spica has also been connected with images of lamps, pearls and other symbols of bringing knowledge like the wheat cultivating Ceres.

Venus was recently at maximum elongation as an Evening Star and is now in process of descending each evening as she approaches stationing retrograde at 10º50′ Scorpio on October 5. After being retrograde for forty days and nights, on November 16 Venus will station direct at 25º14′ Libra, coming into close contact once again with Spica. In fact, Venus enters the “shadow zone” of her upcoming retrograde on September 2, meaning that Venus will begin moving through the zodiacal degrees she will eventually return to in November as part of her underworld, retrograde journey. Thus the communion of Venus with Spica is an initiation that takes us into the space of the regenerative Venus retrograde that will open October. Spica will hold its steady course in the meantime, awaiting the return of Venus at the end of her retrograde when they will unite at dawn as Morning Stars.

What meaning can we find with Spica marking the beginning and the end of the zodiacal terrain in which Venus will experience her 2018 retrograde journey? Known as Sunbala, Sunbale, Sumbela, Sumbalet, as well as Spica, the Spike of the Virgin, it has been said that the light of Spica which symbolizes the wheat held by the Winged Goddess is a source of cultivating knowledge and bountiful gifts. Bernadette Brady wrote that Spica brings “a gift of brilliance, an innate talent, skill or ability which is out of the ordinary,” a “symbol of knowledge and insight.”  Brady wrote that the wheat sheaf symbolism of Spica “can be considered a symbol of her [the Goddess] gifts to humankind.”

Spica has the nature of Venus and Mars so is an ideal starry source of nourishment for Venus as we transition from a period of Mars retrograde into Venus retrograde. Periods of Mars and Venus being retrograde can be difficult due to increased levels of volatility and change, yet also can help put us in touch with core talents and gifts that demand engagement and expression. As Venus unites with Spica at sunset, we may sense the gift of a skill that wants to emerge from within us to be refined, developed, and honed over the next few months. Spica at the gateway of the upcoming Venus retrograde speaks to essential insight and knowledge available to be uncovered and integrated from now through November.

bodes uranographia virgo libra

Uranographia (1801) by Johann Bode

Venus conjoining Spica also marks the entry of Venus into her sidereal home of Libra, as Spica demarcates zero degrees of Libra in the sidereal zodiac favored by Indian astrologers. This means visually against the backdrop of the constellations, Venus is also now entering the space of the Libra constellation she calls home. In contrast to the perspective of the tropical zodiac which views Venus as moving from Scorpio back into Libra during the upcoming retrograde, in the sidereal zodiac Venus will spend the entirety of the retrograde within her home of Libra.

The Coptic people of Egypt named Spica as “Solitary,” likely due to it being relatively isolated from nearby stars [Constellation of Words]. Similarly, Spica is the star at the heart of the 14th Lunar Mansion known as Al Simak, “The Unarmed.” Donna Woodwell has ascribed the image of “The Harvest” to this mansion, writing that it is about “separating the wheat from the chaff,” overcoming fear in order to end, leave, or move on from relationships and circumstances that are not fulfilling or delivering what we need.

Chris Warnock in his Mansions of the Moon described the Al Simak mansion as being about breaking apart “restrictive or inappropriate bonds,” and that while we need to be “wary of the impulse to fight with those whose temperament is opposite to our own,” this mansion of Spica “might also indicate that we need to remove ourselves from an uncomfortable situation that goes against our nature.” The connection of both Venus and Mars to Spica is evident in these words, and this lunar mansion theme also resonates with the general meaning of Venus moving retrograde from Scorpio back into Libra.

prudence pendant

Pearl and gemstone pendant of Prudence (ca 1550-60) gazing into mirror while holding a snake, symbolizing self-knowledge and wisdom (from The Met)

Indian astrology for ages has placed Spica (“Star of Opportunity”) as the defining star of Chitra (“The Bright and Brilliant”), the 14th nakshatra which has been associated with a Bright Jewel or Pearl, making Spica a pearl of divine spirit within the heavens we have within. Dennis Harness in The Nakshatras explained Chitra also translates as a “painting or work of art” and “reflects the many, variegated colors seen in the radiance of a white star.” Chitra possesses Tvashtar, the Artificer, or Shaper, as its presiding divinity, he who is “the master of maya and magic.” Harness wrote that not only is Chitra “one of the most mystical nakshatras,” with “a deep spiritual depth,” it also also brings “sudden flashes of inspiration and the urge to realize one’s true self.”

Mars is the ruler of Spica’s nakshatra, and as Chitra has correspondences with serpents and female tigers, it signifies passion, seduction, charisma, and righteousness. Mars at the final degree of Capricorn will form a square aspect with Venus at the final degree of Libra on September 8, a day before a New Moon in Virgo. The square aspect has the nature of Mars, bringing about volatile change and opportunities for courageously rising to work at whatever needs to be done in a difficult situation. The gifts of Spica to be accessed from now through November as part of the Venus retrograde process will be hard won, penetrating self realizations that will guide strong effort bringing forth new talents.

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Libra

from Urania’s Mirror (1824); Zuben Elgenubi is the alpha star of the Libra constellation and can be seen in the image on the right side of the scales

Jupiter in the Scales

Experience shows us

Wealth unchaperoned / by Virtue is never / an innocuous neighbor

— Sappho fragment translated by Mary Barnard

Jupiter will be co-present in tropical Scorpio when Venus stations retrograde in tropical Scorpio in October, bringing its expansive, visionary influence to Venus moving retrograde in Scorpio through the rest of October. Visually in the night sky, Jupiter has been passing through the scales of the Libra constellation near Zuben Elegnubi, the alpha star of the constellation. In fact, Jupiter earlier in the year moved retrograde back through the scales and stationed direct in July near Zuben Elegnubi, and Jupiter is only now beginning to move away from the alpha star of the Scales. From an Egyptian cosmological view we could interpret this as Jupiter being weighed on the scales of Maat. With so many environmental and political crises occurring in global events, we’ve all been called to face a difficult reality and question how we are contributing and what we are capable of changing.

Bernadette Brady wrote that Zuben Elgenubi “symbolizes higher ideals . . . for in its meaning the prime motive is not personal gain but rather to benefit the group” and involvement in “social reform or social justice.” One of the two scales along with its twin Zuben Eschamali, in more ancient times Zuben Elgenubi was known as one of the two Claws of the Scorpion constellation. Jason Holley has spoken about Libra nature embodying both the Scales and the Claws, with Libra’s intrinsic spatial awareness of tension systems enabling the triggering of conflicts as well as effectively negotiating interpersonal dynamics. The rebellious nature of Venus retrograde combined with Jupiter in tropical Scorpio will be powerful allies for any movements centered around social justice.

Sonata_No._6_(Sonata_of_the_Stars)._Allegro

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1908) Sonata of the Stars

References

Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.

Brady, Bernadette. (2008). Star and Planet Combinations. The Wessex Astrologer.

Carson, Anne. (2002). If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Vintage Books.

Harness, Dennis. (1999). The Nakshatras: Lunar Mansions of Vedic Astrology. Lotus Press.

Sappho a New Translation by Mary Barnard. (1958). University of California Press.

Spica. Constellation of Words.

Warnock, Christopher. (2010). Mansions of the Moon: A Lunar Zodiac for Astrology and Magic. Renaissance Astrology.