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The Sun sinks into the tomb of the third decan of Virgo on September 12, 2020, at 3:37 am EDT, crossing from a creative space ruled by Venus on behalf of the sign-ruler Mercury, into the herald-planet’s own personal desmene, The Sarcophagus of the third decan (as Austin Coppock named it in 36 Faces).
We tend to forget that a coffin or a sarcophagus is genuinely a kind of technology, and that their master, Mercury, is a psychopomp — a fancy word meaning a “guide of the dead and dying to the next life”. A sarcophagus, literally a “corpse eater”, is a technological marvel of the ancient world, a stone box that (in mediterranean climates) usually collects heat from a decaying corpse and reflects it back, converting flesh to clean bone. When placed in the ground (instead of an open-air tomb), at certain depths even the bones are consumed by burrowing beasts and creatures, dead flesh converted almost instantaneously to new life. Of course, the new life doesn’t really look precisely like the old one… and the soul, being freed of the challenges of one body, is now able to pursue new forms — wriggling, crawling, creeping, fluttering, writhing forms that may or may not have a mind quite like the old one.
Yeah. I don’t like that image either.
Ironically, it’s Hestia the goddess of the hearth who ruled the middle ten days of this decan and this month — the keeper of the fire, the lady of the three-legged stool who tended the Olympian flame, the manager of the food and fuel of Zeus’s palace on Olympia. Once accorded one of the twelve Olympians, she gave up her throne in the hall to Dionysius and took a lesser place as the fire-tender — warming and feeding all, she had no time to preside from a golden throne; instead, she reigned from a position of humble service, for all would be out in the cold without her generosity. In her role as Vesta, the same or similar goddess ruled the state hearth of Rome. There she presided over the two (or four, or six, or possibly seven, by the very end of the Roman empire) Vestal Virgins, who were the keepers of the genetic records of which families could permissibly marry others and then produce offspring, and who were the recorders of deeds and last wills and testaments. The Vestal Virgins were one of the last pagan Roman institutions to be done away with, surviving until AD 394 when a Christian noblewoman Selena took it upon herself to cross the threshold of the temple and remove a silver necklace from the statue of the goddess; parallel decrees by the Emperor closed the temple and dismissed the attending priestesses. It’s possible that the custom of the Vestal Virgins took on a new form, though, in the role of the nuns who weave the pallium, an ecclesiastical garment that the Pope presents to senior bishops, conferring on them the authority to govern and manage a province of the Roman Catholic Church; much as the Vestals were once keepers of the testaments of senior Roman officials, so do the nuns confer authority on the legates of the pontifex maximus, the bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter. Old forms take on new guises.
As a Tarot card, Virgo III represents the completion of the Pentacles — the ten of disks, which Pamela Colman Smith showed as an elderly man seated in a chair in the courtyard of his noble house, surrounded by his married child and his loyal dogs. The completion of a life-well-lived is that you get to be buried in a box and rapidly turned into worm-food: a promising start to a new life in the food chain. Allegedly, most poor people (preserved by their available food in life much more than by the undertaker in death) don’t decompose so quickly or easily. The road to the underworld is faster if you have coin to pay the ferryman, and flesh to feed the garden worms.
I don’t know whether that’s true or not. Yet in several different ways, Virgo III represents completions, transformations, and conclusions that bring new beginnings: the rich man contemplating the accumulation of wealth and prosperity at the end of life and preparing to hand it on to a new generation, shown in the Ten of Disks; the yawning sarcophagus, ready to transmogrify mortal death into wriggling new life; the gentle retirement of Vesta from least-important Olympian to most-important house-goddess; the transformation of Vestal Virgins from authenticators of the state’s power to the weavers of the Catholic ecumene.
The Ascendant this time is in Fixed Fire, the sign of Leo, in the middle decan, The Laurel Crown. We see the rise and fall of many, the awarding of temporary honors, the granting of brief fame, the distress of temporary notoriety, and the constant adulation and betrayal of the crowd. The raging wilderness fires in California and Oregon and Washington are unlikely to abate at this time; a steady flame is likely instead. Venus holds the high ground by the Tree Bearing Fruit, separating from squares to the Midheaven and the Imum Coeli: the present times are calling for us to bring our artistic and fertile impulses to bear on the problem of “how shall we live in the present moment”, which simultaneously calls us to live for ourselves in the present reality, and not for our career or for our imagined realities. We must reinvent ourselves these ten days, or re-originate ourselves, and avoid holding to our most orthodox mindsets — we must all be more experimental in how we live.
The Sun occupies The Sarcophagus as it enters a trine with Pluto and departing an opposition with Neptune. Certain dreams and plans are dead and ought to be buried; shine a light on some of your old delusions, and focus your attention on certain toxic daily habits that need changing. New life can only emerge when you let go of what’s already necrotic. The Sun’s presence in the second house, joined to Pluto in the sixth, suggests that our current mode of labor is likely out of step with how we fund our lives, and that something has to be reëxamined here.
Mercury and the Lot of Fortune hold the third house in Libra — Our communications should be serving to forge a chain of connection between ourselves and our neighbors. Take the time to develop a link between members of your family-of-choice, your next-door relations (and your backyard non-human persons), and your family-of bloom. The separating sextile with Venus suggests you don’t have to be hugely creative about these connections; a card or a note in the mailbox, or some birdseed in an obvious place, may be enough. The Lot of Fortune, though, advises us to keep spinning with The Gyroscope, recognizing that to catch a lucky break requires us to not overbalance or to maintain too rigid an upright (or moral/righteous?) posture. The narrowing opposition to Mars invites us to consider ways in which cutting ties with formal education systems may be useful — while recognizing that teachers still have much to teach us.
The Nodal axis floats between the Fifth and Eleventh houses in this chart, urging us to reconnect with friends and allies, and take less time out for private pleasures in the next ten days. At the same time, the South Node warns against allowing yourself to starve your more-feral side — and to be prepared to cut off relationships that no longer serve you well.
The stellium of Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn continues to linger in the last degrees of Capricorn, in the decan called The Throne. Saturn is currently the reigning sovereign here — duty and responsibility keeps our butts in our seats (glued to our videoconferencing software?) while we do our work. All three planets are retrograde currently, but before this period ends, Jupiter will go direct. And as it does, Pluto will gradually be pressed like grapes in a wine press… or puss in a pimple… or a whoopee cushion in a VIP’s chair. Someone is going to get fired, someone is going to be very embarrassed, someone is going to be made to look like a fool — and all the toxicity and poison and ugliness that Pluto represents is going to be pressed out and revealed. The final squashing doesn’t occur until November 12-14 depending on timezone… but we all might start feeling the pressure sooner than we’d like. Keep your pants on while on camera, OK?
Neptune has retrograded into the middle decan of Pisces, The Net. Although Austin Coppock associated this with the Net of Indra, I’ve gotten good mileage out of describing it in terms of the Internet — and in the 8th house, this suggests that the next ten days are likely to be filled with internet scams, grifts, delusions, and get-rich-quick schemes and political misinformation. Trines to Jupiter and Pluto suggest a mix of political disinformation and economic uproar, while the separating opposition with the Sun indicates a growing “fog of war” around what is real and what isn’t. Hold on to your tinfoil hats and your wallets, and try to avoid buying into too many scams or misinformation programs.
Mars, after a few weeks of fierce hakas and militant displays against his foes, finally goes retrograde in The Banner, indicating a growing combativeness and military and paramilitary action against foes. Given that the retrograde will last until after the US election, it’s worth noting that things can get pretty bad in Mars retrogrades — few wars start during them, but atrocity tends to take on brand-new forms at such times. Let’s also recall that the current pandemic appeared to be connected to the Mars transit through Capricorn and Aquarius in January and February, and that the approaching square with Saturn will energize the cold-pressed pimple of Pluto, as well as Mars’s more-venomous desire for a real fight. A new place of serious outbreak is a real possibility.
Uranus holds the midheaven, even as they try to run from this place of power: readers, know that your quest for greater freedom and individual recognition in your career and workplace is the right attitude right now — this is something you should be seeking, both for yourself and your co-workers. But you’re also likely to experience this work as ‘planting seeds’ or ‘preparing the ground’ rather than getting your way instantaneously. Thing of this work as requiring an almost-romantic seduction of the relevant decision-makers, not a one-and-done process.
The Moon reigns alone in her own sign, occupying the middle decan of Cancer, The Walled Garden. By Tropical Mansion, she is in the last minutes of the eighth mansion, signifying victory and achievement, and the powers of the spiritual realms siding with us against all other contenders. We’re thus advised to establish firm, strong boundaries; to create a fortress and to maintain isolation; and to cultivate lushness within our realms of retreat. Yet by Sidereal relationships, the Sixth Mansion is active, urging us to respond wisely to our attractions and affinities — this is not a fortress you can defend alone: you will need both watchers on the walls, and gardeners within, to create the community you will need in the next ten days. Do not shut everyone out — rather, be welcoming to those whose love and skill you trust and desire.
Horoscopes by Rising Sign
Leo: Shine a bright light on your work habits, see where your daily labors are not properly compensated, and consider killing a few projects that are not worth your time and energy. Communicate clearly with family and intimates about recent upheavals in the formerly-comforting parts of your career. Review how you want to be seen at work and at home, and consider a wardrobe revision for the fall.
Virgo: An examination of your partnership agreements is coming — for some, this means sorting out business relationships; for others, a marriage contract may be under review; for others, a chance to bury the hatchet with a rival… or possibly, in a rival. Certainly, transformations of old relationships is in the offering, if you allow it. This also brings a chance to build a new intimacy with old friends — but even that requires setting boundaries with some — and opening up to others in a new way. Stretch the edges of what you find pleasurable and fun, go a little wild if you can — a hike in the woods, or at least some time outside listening to early morning birdsong. But in your haste to expand the ranges of your happiness… don’t overdo it with intoxicants. Some long-lasting hurts lie hidden on that route.
Libra: Communications with family and neighbors leads to some kind of financial success or personally-relevant lucky break. Working from home is hell on your body; make sure you get up from the chair regularly. Shine a little light on your solo time and on your time with women-friends: are you getting enough downtime, and enough artistic up-time with the girls who have your back or that you lead in the world.
Scorpio: Dreams of home occupy your night-time reveries, but it’s the plans you make on your own that lead to something resembling success, though your family or community may not see it that way. Some of your friendship may need a bright light shone on them, to see what wriggling horrors lurk in the big stone box. Artistic work puts you in the spotlight at your office.
Sagittarius: Be a little less ego-driven, and a little more in tune with how you can help friends and allies execute their vision. Money matters keep your posterior on the throne, but you also need to get out and force feed the exercise. Your career takes a leap forward with some challenges that are favorably resolved, even as some plans get transformed.
Capricorn: Right now you have to lead, but you should focus the boss’s attention on the state of your compensation if you’re underpaid for your industry… or shut off the spotlight if you want to keep the leader in the dark. Communicate your plan for the success of the whole team, especially if you want their help. Home needs your attention for a surprise issue.
Aquarius: A partner’s practical concerns benefit from your inspired guidance… provided you’re not too supercilious or condescending. Remember you’re talking to a peer of your realm, not a commoner. Falling down a business-oriented rabbit hole on YouTube would be valuable, but focus on what you need to stay upright … you’re not going to wield the righteous sword of justice this week, and it’s easy to fall into the figure-8 logic of an infinite loop: practical training in skills, not elaborate theories, will serve you better.
Pisces: A partner may need some downtime… or maybe some uptime in prayer. You need to confront some comfortable delusions about your money management skills, and maybe put a difficult relative and their opinions in their place. Some friends are dealing with some hard managerial problems, and would benefit from your comforting words or presence. Are you going to have to be inventive at work? Yes.
Aries: You may be feeling some significant anger-management issues at the moment, compounded by what you see as a challenging time in the arena of personal luck; a frustrating relationship with work or the lack of it, some neediness or domineering attitudes from relatives or neighbors. Some time with your favorite music, a chance to dance, or even some karaoke, might help relieve some tension; music CAN assuage the soul of the savage beast.
Taurus: You may feel like there are some ongoing disruptions to your sex life, romantic life, and plans for the future that are difficult to resolve. Your partner is being secretive and is probably driven to distraction by their own duties; You’re feeling cut off and shut out of other people’s plans, and like there are significant limits on your ability to travel or manage your life. Invest the time in becoming more attuned to the changes in your own life — once you pick up the thread of your own plans, your way onward will start to open before you.
Gemini: Life seems to be coming at you fast, with an urgent need to execute a plan on every new friend or ally, prosecute on every new project, and flay every single political or social or economic issue to death. It’s not helping. Remember the wisdom of the Moon in these next ten days: you’ve got to fortify your position on the one hand, and build up a team of allies on the other. All the crazy stuff at work is probably a delusion and distraction from the real work, which is managing the new legacies that seem to be cropping up around you like hissing snakes.
Cancer: The Moon’s present rulership puts you in a bit of an emotional bind. A partner is likely not providing the emotional support you need, but their work is creating a physical shell or fort against a range of worldly challenges. On the one hand, you need to take some time for yourself and shut out the world. On the other hand, you need to invite into your life the necessary people to provide warmth, lushness and emotional beauty. On one foot, you need to safeguard against betrayal by those who are close to you; on the other foot, you need to take a step toward the people you want and need on your team. Above all, you have to keep your head at a time when conflict seems likely, and good luck seems best achieved by keeping your head down and working from home. All these issues will pass — give ’em time — but you have a few more ten-day cycles to survive, first.
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I use iPhemeris for my charting software, and screenshot it to make charts. I want to thank the team that develops iPhemeris for the addition of Terms and Decans to their charts, appearing here for the first time!
I use Christopher Warnock‘s The Mansions of the Moon as the basis of my Moon placement delineations, and Austin Coppock‘s 36 Faces as the basis of much of my planetary delineations. Neither gentleman endorses me. My own book, A Full Volume of Splendour and Starlight, is now available as PDF download from my Etsy website.
Any errors in these columns are my own.
If you’d like to schedule a consultation with me, you can find additional information on the Services and Classes page.
If you want to read some of my other astrologically-oriented poetry, To the Mansions of the Moon is a collection of hymns to the angels of the Mansions mentioned in these columns. For the Behenian Stars is a collection of hymns to the first/brightest sixteen stars. The Sun’s Paces are hymns to the thirty-six Hellenistic-era deities and ascended souls of the Greco-Egyptian Decans-calendar. While not astrological, Festae contains hymns to some of the older Roman gods and spirits from the calendar created by Numa Pompilius, the second ancient King of Rome.