The Sun’s time in the third decan of Scorpio begins on November 12, 2019 at 11:53 am Eastern Time. The Sun is past the midheaven, but sharing Scorpio with Mercury, which will conjunct (and actually occult, or pass in front of, the Sun — appearing rather like a small raisin or a pinhead on the the surface of a basketball… Mercury isn’t very big). So it’s an exciting time in astrology.
I started this column as a way to internalize the learning I’d gotten from Austin Coppock‘s book, 36 Faces (the 2nd edition of which should come out this winter), but Gordon White’s recent column/rant in Rune Soup, “Actually, astrology can lead to fascism if your metaphysics is in the toilet,” gives me pause. He’s quite right, of course — astrology’s birth-throes atop a ziggurat in Mesopotamia were governed by priests who were likely trying to find a way to manipulate a king; or were undertaken specifically by an unsteady ruler trying to find divine support for his rule. And so it’s worth considering Gordon’s “non-toilet” metaphysics, which is animism and the Australian Aboriginal notion — idea, philosophy, belief? — that the stars are the campfires of the ancestors.
Let’s sit with that a moment. Animism is, in brief, the idea that all things are alive and conscious, and that they have some indefinable quality called “soul” or “spirit” (and in a truly-technical sense, those are different things than both each other, and from “mind”. But if a fork, or a rock, or a tree is conscious or soul-alive, then so is a star, or a planet circling that star, and so is our Sun and so are its (his?) planets. If the stars are the campfires of the ancestors, then way out beyond our own solar system (which is alive and living), there are gatherings of tribes of conscious beings, telling their stories and singing their songs to us, around those living campfires. We can imagine, if you will, that across the volume of space, the sound of their songs comes to us, and we hear their message. We can ignore their message, we can fear it and recognize it as a song of war or of sorrow, or we can respond in joy to their songs of triumph. We can sit and listen, or we can sing back our songs so that they can in turn sit and listen while we take our turn to sing.
My own efforts to understand the Decans in an animist context began in poetry dedicated to the Hellenistic-era deities, demi-gods, and divinized heroes of the Mediterranean littoral. You can buy that collection of poetry here. I did the same thing with the Mansions of the Moon. There is a tradition that collectivizes and divinizes the tribes gathered around each asterism/star-cluster in the Decans, and maybe if I contrast that story with the planets that occupy each Decan, we’ll see a different kind of story-telling emerge. Let’s try it.
As before, we’ll start with some planetary placements, and then go on to the horoscope.
The Sun, of course, is in the third decan of Scorpio, which one fragmentary text assigns to Kairos — the deity of the right time; the ancient Greeks had two words for time, Chronos (associated now with Saturn) or measurable time, and Kairos which is the unstructured but exact moment of appropriate action, such as striking while the iron is hot. The blacksmith’s shop is a suitable metaphor for the next ten days, for the iron has been hot, and now it is time for the quenching, which is the setting of a desired shape with suitable temper. Temper is the middle ground between strength and flexibility, but rather more of the flexibility than the strength. While the Sun has no essential dignity here, he is not without power. Fixed flexibility sounds oxymoronic, but a blade is just that… and the smith only achieves that by listening to the song of the “right moment”, rather than by watching the clock. In your activities, listen to the song of the ancestors, and find the right moment from their harmonies.
We find the Moon in Taurus III and in the Fifth Mansion (because the Moon has its own ‘zodiac-like’ track of 28 mansions). The Hellenists assigned this decan to a collection of feminine spirits called the Litai, or prayers — and the Arabs believed the Fifth Mansion was the home of Gabiel, an angel of health and intellectual activity and goodwill. Across the vastness, the song of another campfire comes to us, and it is a hymn of prayer, rising to gods unknown, for patience, for harmony, for goodwill, and for health. Although the Sun and Moon are just past full, it’s a beautiful image, is it not? Two tribes of ancestors, one singing a basso profundo song of ringing bells and clashing iron… and one soprano-alto harmonic paean to peace and happiness under the gods?
Across the vastness, off a bit to the west of the Sun, there’s another song, this time sprightly and speedy, more jazz riff than sonorous, the song that the tribes of Mercury are presently singing in a kind of three-way call and response. The ancient Greeks regarded this part of the sky, Scorpio II, as the home of Leto the mother of the Sun and Moon, and so the three-part harmony rises of mother mediating between two children in rivalry. Presently, the soothing motherly voice sides more with the louder and more-public Sun — but the near-opposition with the Full Moon indicates that there is not yet a full intervention in the squabbles of the children… and maybe intervention would be less than helpful right now, anyway. All the same, in considering the arguments in your life right now, weigh third options and mediating forces, especially in intellectual debate.
Venus stands in Sagittarius II, which the Egyptianized Greeks associated with Kore, more frequently known as Persephone, the queen of the underworld. The Northern Hemisphere knows the slog into winter this time of year, and we may consider Inanna, as well, descending into the darkness to visit her sister the angry and unforgiving underworld goddess Ereshkigal. Her ladyship is not particularly kind in this placement (we may recall her cruelty to Oedipus and Theseus and others who entered the kingdom of Hades), but Austin in his modern work on the Decans, 36 Faces, assigned the symbol of the horse’s bridle to this part of the sky; so we may recall the myths of Inanna bound and hung from a hook on the wall of Ereshkigal’s palace, and Venus trapped in the bed of chains crafted by Hephaestus. I recall reading once upon a time that the best man at a Berber wedding is supposed to bring ropes in case the bride resists; and the bride is expected to resist, so that she can be tied up! We can thus imagine the ancestors gathered around this fire, all singing a bawdy BDSM-themed wedding song, one in which the bride seems doomed to some sort of submissive role — and yet recall how Kore/Persephone found power as Queen of the Underworld, and how Inanna threw her unfaithful partner Dumuzi to the demons when she returned to life; the goth aesthetic of submission may hide a darker and more genuine power.
Farther west of the Sun comes the martial strains of a war-song: cacophonous and violent, with stern undertones of radical justice. It is the tribe of Mars, camping on the hill where they recognize wrong-doing, subject the offender to inquisition and dole out suitable punishment. The ancient Greeks gave this part of the sky to the dignity of Nemesis. We tend to think of her as the goddess of vengeance, but they saw her more as the arbiter of restorative and rebalancing justice — who constrained chaos, by violence if needed, with the imposition of natural law and of meet punishment for difficult crimes. We may call out in support of one side of the conflict or the other, but we must recognize that the ancestors have a stake in the imposition of justice upon the offender, and the restoration of rights and dignity to their victims.
Away to the southeast, where our friends live, the tribes of Jupiter are singing of Necessity in the decan of Sagittarius III. Anangke, the great serpent twined around the Egg of the World, was the Greeks’ idea of necessity… a great power crushing and constricting a delicate thing, either to eat or to nurture it. Our friends are facing difficult choices and narrowing options, and we sing in support of their decisions. We may not understand all the choices they must make, but their time of choosing is coming closer to some end. A choice is more royal and more noble than indecision: to let the clock run out is to let some others decide for you, while to choose before the clock winds down is to bear the responsibility.
The second decan of Capricorn, on the hills just south of the eastern horizon, is where the tribe of Saturn has their camp today — and they are building, once again, the whole edifice of their society: its hierarchical structure, its boundaries and taboos and expected norms. The ancient Greeks assigned Hygeia, the goddess of health through cleanliness, to this part of the sky, much along the lines of Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall.” Saturnine forces love boundaries and limitations and order, even when those things aren’t completely natural, and sometimes those kinds of limitations need reinforcement and re-recognition. So there they sit, just a little after noon, listening to the recitation of ancient customs and old laws, some of which seem quaint superstition and some of which seem entirely bonkers. There was a reason for all of those rules, once upon a time… are they still relevant? The Saturnian ancestors seem to think so, and their harsh, slow tones carry across the ground to your camp, warning you of dire penalties should you violate ancient traditions.
The three outermost planets are the tribes we know the least-well, and whose camps we have but recently begun to discern from the background noise of the forest of space. The tribe of Uranus is quite close to us and slightly to the east, under open skies in the pastureland nearby. They’re not singing so much as playing music and dancing, a celebratory song of the end of the harvest and the caesura from the groaning labor of plough and seed and shoot and fruit and store: freedom from bent back, freedom from taut shoulders, freedom to take leisure and ease! Women in flame-red garments move gracefully around the firelight, their drumming feet disturbing the earth, as the racing music conflicts with the Moon’s more-prayerful song. Neptune, in Pisces III, plays instruments like shakeres or seed-pod rattles: tiny beads bouncing off the thin walls of a box or jar — rather like the ancient Greek conception of Elpis or Hope, rattling around inside Pandora’s jar. Troubled in the swamp land and surrounded by stinging insects, their music nonetheless celebrates a happy conclusion and the hope of even greater happiness in the future. Who are those people? In the outermost edge of the east, the songs of Pluto kindred come on the air to us, where they camp in the wild places of Capricorn III. Does that sounds like royal trumpets, announcing the king seated and ready to decide before his council? Our Greeks gave this part of the sky to Tolma, a goddess of decision-making and rulership; and is it not fitting that the lord of the underworld sits atop his throne, making life and death decisions and administering his kingdom, at the same time that Venus puts on the outward bearing of a gothic bondage bride? Is king enthroned in state, ready to receive his future queen? Or is he simply transacting the business of his kingdom, and are we ready for his own dark decrees?
But these are just our own interpretations of the songs we hear on the edges of our country. Earth has its own place in the wheel of the Zodiac, right at the start of Taurus II, to which Austin assigned the symbol of the Linga-Yoni carving, a symbolic phallus and vulva joined together in coitus — and to which the Greeks assigned the Horae, or Hours, the divine goddesses who watch over time. We ourselves are camped in the place where we are considering our relationship to time and to the passage of hours, and we are besieged between the drumming disruptive feet of the happy Uranians, and the prayerful hymns of the Moon-people counseling patience and peace.
Rising Sign Horoscopes
Now we can turn to the horoscopes. In the last column, we looked at the Four Pillars — the Ascendant, the Sun, the Moon, and Jupiter — to get a sense of how we could choose to act in the next ten days, and what issues might occupy our attention. In the context of the “haunted” spacescape, with tribes of ancestors chanting and singing on the horizons of our awareness, is that the best way forward? Maybe, maybe not.
It is the case that the fixed signs (Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Virgo), being angular, are likely to experience particularly-heavy or prominent days between now and the Sagittarius ingress on November 23, particularly if they choose to act. The mutable signs of Pisces, Gemini, Virgo and Sagittarius, in the succedent houses, are likely to find that these days will have some sequences where they will be able to act; and some issues where they will be acted upon. The cardinal signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, being cadent, are likely to find that they are moved this way and that way by external forces, in which it is difficult to find steady footing or establish a chosen trajectory.
Aquarius: The songs of the Sun and Moon reach your camping place, but there is a tension between them, and they sound equally strong from where you sit. To be more comfortable, listen more to the Moon than the Sun; to feed your ambition follow the Sun. Don’t neglect the songs of Saturn and Pluto, either, but recognize that you can help your friends manage Jupiter’s song of narrowing options with grace and dignity.
Pisces: The Neptune-powers are camped directly on top of your treasure, though they do not know it — to attack the forces of upheaval and revolution is to win liberation for your wealth, but also to draw attention to it; recognize that you are called on to make journeys and learn new skills, both at home and away — heed the Moon and Mercury’s songs in the coming days, but acknowledge the Saturnine and Plutonian forces, especially as they affect your professional allies and colleagues. The singers under Jupiter, chanting about the serpent and the egg, remind you that your friends face tightened choices and straitened circumstances — harmonize with them as you are able.
Aries: Across the valley from where you sit listening, a bright red fire burns on the hillside, and you hear the drumming justice of Mars, rearranging your beloved’s economic life to disadvantage. You may be asked to step in with familial resources and community allies to help them find a new song. The hymns of Saturn and Pluto remind you of a certain situation at work, and the tension between needed change and old tradition. Venus and Jupiter’s songs harmonize with yours, and invite you into creative partnership with them… your melody interlocks well with theirs, and with those of your friends who enjoy new learning opportunities.
Taurus: The Moon-people are camped quite close to you, and sing hymns that sound loud and beautiful, and remind you of home. Yet the songs of the Sun and of Mercury come across the valley to you, indicating that your partner’s career options involve both travel and labors that require time apart. You have journeys of your own you ought to be planning, too — and the songs of Saturn and Pluto call you to important duties that will administrate your kingdom and re-establish its borders and bounds. Yet will you do so? Many may be called, but few heed the harsh slow songs of paperwork and accounting.
Gemini: Your own song sounds only faintly; a trick of the ground means that the funny songs and parodying ditties you’d like to sing don’t seem to resonate well in this place — and the songs of the ancient past seem out of place. Across the valley, the songs of Jupiter and Venus call to you, but they seem out of rhythm with your own preferred music. The dances of Uranus are troubling the places where you work, and the waters bubbling up through that swampy ground are staining your fancy clothes and muddying your reputation. No other song seems compelling — but there’s a quiet place that reminds you of your own home, and how much tending, it currently needs.
Cancer: You want your own song to be louder right now, but across the dale the loud judgments of Pluto and the songs of Saturn call you to responsible reflection on your duty, both to yourself and to your partner. The songs of Mars impose new responsibilities at home, too, far more authoritatively than any career directive. Your friends are praying at home — for its health, for the safety and well being of their parents, for peace and prosperity… but prayers are not always answered. Will you assist them with their songs, and support their hymns? Other friends are traveling or learning new skills, like the ditties of Jupiter and Venus; you could join them with your own song, and match their dance steps. Will you?
Leo: How strange! The Sun’s songs and Mercury’s three-way hymn are all calling you to stick close to home, and manage household and family affairs with tact and grace! How appropriate, since it will take a lot of patient prayer to deal with the ongoing disruptions in your workplace, where the dance of the Uranians provides a thudding counterpoint to the Moon’s more solemn rites. Have you thought about working at home? That may not be any better — you’ll have to regulate your work with a Saturnine rigidity to get much done. Your personal work should include harmonies with Venus and Jupiter — helping friends wrangle their current challenges, and negotiating questions of power in the darkness— but you might find that you have a gift for that kind of entertainment right now.
Virgo: Those rattles of Neptune’s dancers are likely echoing hard in the recesses of your brain, and triggering certain reminders about what’s yours, what’s mine, and what’s ours; your arguments with a partner over money are echoing in syncopated rhythms with those shakeres and rattles. Do the songs of Jupiter and Venus resonate when you are at home? Act upon them, and invite friends to participate in your discussions and intentions — but give your full focus to the judgmental rhythms of Saturn and Pluto’s dialogues when at work, and let no one else intrude. Give yourself to learning the Moon-song when traveling or engaged in learning activities — prayer is an essential component of these activities at the moment, and you will find her harmonies serve you well.
Libra: With the Mars-songs ringing in your ears, it’s hard not to be self-critical or to feel personally liable for the faults of the world right now. But the songs of Jupiter and Venus invite you to consider a wider definition of “home” and “friendship” — get out in the neighborhood and encounter some new friends! The judicial and administrative rumblings from Saturn and Pluto urge you to put your own household in order, to look after your parents, and the Moon counsels patience with regard to legacies. Great upheavals seem foreordained in your gathered resources, so a thorough review and accounting may be in order — let the three-way call and response of Mercury be your guide as you count and account for both expense and income.
Scorpio: You sit in your place of power in these next ten days — but this power comes with obligations, for you ought to recognize obligations to entertain both beautiful women and older men of your acquaintance… and likely not at the same table at the same time, at least not just yet. Are the resources of your encampment up to the task? Your wider neighborhood lacks certain entertainments that you might like to offer, and you may sense that you’re alone in feeling this duty — your partner has their mind on more spiritual concerns, and may choose the Uranian dance.
Sagittarius: You harmonize well with the songs of Jupiter and Venus in the next ten days, though they may clash with disruptions and crashing sounds in the places you call home. You hear in the song of Neptune some hints of growing expenses at home, and the judgements of Saturn and Pluto seem both limiting and expensive. Pull taut the purse strings for a change, and sing sotto voce with the tripartite song of Mercury, and the hymn of the Sun. If weakness or illness appears at work, take reasonable precautions and consult the physicians where needed… but compose your own prayers for good health, too, and join with the paean of the full Moon. Fortune comes from wandering camp to camp this month; do not stay in one place too long but flit between the songs, joining first one and then another. Learn all the tunes, and harmonize wherever you can.
Capricorn: It must be difficult to hear the songs of the other tribes and peoples, and the potentialities that exist out there in the darkness where choruses are chanting — for the legalisms and the adjudication of Pluto and Saturn are happening right beside you, and the discussions and the technicalities of both choice and limitation are loud. The hymns of Jupiter and Venus call you to look after your friends, but this seems more of an … abstract goal with theoretical value, rather than something you could take concrete steps to achieve. Might you have to travel, in order to help your allies or benefit your career? Perish the thought! You are likely used to remaining in one place, and having others seek out your assistance — and yet the journey might prove truly educational, if you were to sit with the Sun-singers a while, with them close at hand, and sing with them instead of hearing their voices echoing across the high country between you. Make the effort, go see them. Or stay at home, but voice your prayers with the Moon’s song on your lips, as impractical as that may seem — you’re not exactly a prayerful person, but you may find that listening ears find your voice provides both a useful counterpoint and harmonious richness.
This has been an interesting column to write, and thank you for coming on the journey. If you enjoyed it, please consider leaving a comment; even if you didn’t enjoy it compared with prior columns, consider leaving a comment anyway, and ask me to go back to the old format or to encourage me to continue to try to create this sort of column in the future.