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This November 1 at 6:28 pm, the Sun enters the Second Decan of Scorpio, called The Apparatus for Mutual Distillation, according to Austin Coppock‘s name conventions from the book 36 Faces. Consisting of two sealed beakers over fires, with tubes connecting them to each other at top and side, the double alembics each produce refined and rarefied material, and then deliver their purified product into the heat of the other: thus the apparatus heats and distills two products simultaneously through the filtration and interaction of both substances together. Let the flame and the heat get too high, and both products explode; let the heat last too long, and the alembics shatter; let the flame burn too low, and the contents of both alembics are ruined from a lack of reaction and intermingled substance; or let one flame run low while the other burns hot, and only one of the two reagents becomes activated, leaving the other dull and unrefined. It’s kind of like sex, you see? If one partner is into it, and the other is not, the play will be mechanical and swiftly over. If both partners are into the experience but unwilling to let it end, the game can go on a very long time indeed. The ingredient in the successful interaction is attention and focus — you cannot and must not let your attention wander in the present season: hold true to the promise that we will get better together — or not at all.
The ancient Greeks looked to Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis (or Diana) as the presiding deity of these next ten days. As the mother of the Sun and Moon, she has a primordial power to bring forth both the fiery Sun and the watery, mirror-like Moon into the world. In this role, as the archetype of motherhood, she was both a goddess ruling over childbirth, and the protector of children. When she was pregnant, Hera pursued her relentlessly, giving her no place to rest and give birth. She wandered from land to land, finally heeding an oracle that she would only give birth in place that was both land and yet not. Delos, an island in the Aegean Sea, was the place where she found refuge: according to myth, it was a floating island unmoored from land, where she was able to bring her children into the world. Only once the children were born did Poseidon bind it to the ocean floor with chains of adamant, and link the wandering islet to the rest of the world. Much later, in recorded history, the Athenians betrayed the people of Delos using this self-same story: owing to the island’s sacredness as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and a place of pilgrimage, the Athenians and other mainland Greeks convinced the residents to pass a law prohibiting women from giving birth on the island. Thereafter, the residents of Delos rowed pregnant women to a nearby island to be born — and several decades later, the Athenians thus claimed that all the Delians were really interlopers on the island, not native-born at all. They used this as a pretext for conquest and control.
In many ways, the intertwined stories of Leto and the alchemical apparatus speak to questions of nature and nurture. The materials placed into the alchemical apparatus can come from anywhere or anything; the food that the mother eats while pregnant can be a wide variety of peculiar nourishment. One way or another, the material gets transformed. But the place and time that the beaker is opened and the alchemicalized material is removed — or the moment that the mother gives birth and the placental cord is cut— something happens to the child, the mother, the philosopher’s stone, the place… all are woven together into the universe in a way that they were not before. My mother, almost from instinct, points out the hospital where I was born, every time we drive past. “That’s where you were born,” she says. “That’s where you came into the world.” Leto, and the alchemical apparatus for mutual distillation, both invite us to reflect on questions of what is portable, what is moveable, and what is a fixed place and time in the universe.
While in this Decan, the Sun has greater power than is usual for Scorpio, as the middle Decan here is ruled by the Sun. Although it’s under the rulership of Mars, the warrior planet currently cannot “see” the Sun from the Eleventh House — the relationship, called inconjunct or in aversion, gives the Sun a bit of relief from having to act with martial ferocity in all its doings.
Giordano Bruno, in On the Shadow of the Ideas, described this decan with an unusual foursome: a naked woman and two naked men, and one of the men playing with a dog while the other man and woman stand together. Is this the artwork sent with a future Voyager exploration to the ends of the solar system? Is it two separate moments in time, a man leaving a woman to go play with the dog? Is it the aftercare of a threesome? Is it the Gemini twins and their mother? It doesn’t tie directly to the image of the Alchemical Apparatus or to the story of Leto, exactly, but it does stir up questions well worth meditating on for further insight.
The four duodecimas of the middle Decan — Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini — also provide us with an opportunity to tell a new kind of story in four acts: 1) one of emotional interconnection, 2) fiery headspace, 3) contentment and pleasure in clear unity, and 4) the opening of new divisions. These periods roughly correspond to November 2-4, November 4-6, November 6-8, and November 8-10. As we pass through these sequences of elemental Water, Fire, Earth, and Air, our emotional issues will awaken new passion, which will then have to be grounded in practical realities, and new intellectual decision-making processes that involve the creation of widened options.
Special Events: Grand Cardinal Turning
There is one unusual feature of the next ten days which bears special mention: The Grand Cardinal Turning or GCT, brought to my attention by fellow astrologer and colleague SJ Anderson on Twitter. For the first time since 1783 (and before that last in 1578 and before that in 1373), the ruling planets of the four cardinal signs will be in those signs on November 4, the day after the US presidential election: Mars in Aries, the Moon in Cancer, Venus in Libra, and Saturn in Capricorn. From about 5pm EST (aka after the Daylight Saving Time change) on November 4 until about 5am on November 7, the Moon will aspect each of those planets by square or opposition, hitting first Venus, then being besieged by the rays of Venus and Mars, then opposing Mars, then squaring Mercury while opposing Saturn at the same time. The events of 1783, (and before that in 1578 and 1373) appear to have been times of great change in the Americas, with the question of the rulership of the continents in some question. The 1783 date marks the official end of the American Revolution, for example, when a group of English-ruled colonies were officially recognized as an independent and self-governing nation; while the 1578 date coincided with Sir Francis Drake’s successful navigation of the Magellan Passage, and the beginning of the English government’s efforts to wrest the Americas from the Spanish and the French; while the 1373 date may approximate the founding of the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlán (though for convenience the Mexican government today uses a foundation date in 1325).
In none of these cases can the events occurring under the Grand Cardinal Turning be said to be large or significant enough to draw the attention and say, “this definitively changes things.” The founding of a city in a marsh, the navigation of a waterway, the signing of a treaty between successful rebels and their former king — the events of this November may not be either large enough or obvious enough to warrant much attention. But something may be on the verge of shifting, something that will take a century or more to manifest. We’re on the threshold of a grand new beginning… but if someone tells you, “it’s this thing” or “it’s that”… you should probably hold back from certainty for fifty or more years. Whatever it is, it’s more subtle than any of us might think it is. This is a transit worth bearing in mind, but not rushing to quick judgement about.
The Sun is in the Sixth House, below the horizon and only recently done opposing Uranus in Taurus. Just entering the Apparatus of Mutual Distillation, he promises a period of refining in watery heat, with steam and heat transforming us from the inside out, even as our release transforms all of those around us. For those cooped up in voluntary isolation or commanded quarantine with others this placement promises an intense ten days ahead, as our daily lives undergo a hermetically-sealed period of deep containment. Attention to the level of heat, and the quality of the seal, are necessary: don’t let things get too hot, but try not to break the seal too often: transformation is on the other side.
The Sun’s placement below the horizon makes this a Night Chart, making The Moon the most important planet in the chart. We find her in the Twelfth House in Taurus, where she’s an exalted and honored guest, just past the difficult full-moon conjunction with Uranus on October 31. Our nearest neighbor (which NASA recently characterized as ‘wet’ thanks to the discovery of water in sunlit places), occupies the last decan called The Prayer Beads, where she invites us into intuitive communion with the mindset of prayer and meditation. Uranus holds the first decan, the Plough, where they suggest practical steps taken now to prevent short-term difficulties and long-term upheaval. The ferocity of the Moon’s presence in the Fourth Mansion has abated; she now resides in the Fifth Mansion, where aggression is satiated and sovereign power begins to act with wisdom and practical intellect; waning from her fullest and now headed toward the dark of the moon, she promises diminishment and dissipation of violence and anger (though her transit of the North Node on November 7-8 should be noted, taking place in the seventh mansion of heard and heeded prayers for peace and goodwill). Uranus promises surprises in solitude, and actions taken on our own to protect against future failures.
Mars in the eleventh house, in his own sign of Aries, is next in sovereignty here in his own sign of Aries. In the middle decan called The Crown, he promises the reality of violence backed by legitimate authority. Here, he also prepares for an opposition with Venus on 9-10 November, just at the end of this 10-day period. The opposing forces of the divine feminine and the divine masculine are nearly co-equal in power, but patriarchy here has a bit of an edge. The current trine that Mars makes between the theoretical points of the Imum Coeli and the Descendant both invite us to consider how male styles of decision-making and male friendships affect both our families and communities.
Saturn is next in power, and promises a particularly cold and challenging time in the next ten days, as the odium and weariness of our obligations to others becomes manifest in challenging ways. The pimple of the upcoming Jupiter-Pluto conjunction is also becoming more noticeable, more angry, and more ferocious, as we close in on the ‘popping’ of it on November 12-13. All three planets occupy the decan called The Throne, showcasing what happens when multiple powers contend for control: one generous, one stern, and one toxic. Squeezed between Saturn’s dutifulness and Jupiter’s generosity, the pustule finally bursts and shows what has been lurking beneath the surface all this time: whether it turns out to be only an ingrown hair, or something more malevolent, remains to be seen. It is, however, in Pluto’s nature to make mountains out of molehills. It is entirely possible that the bubble will burst, and there will be no ‘there’, there. What seemed horrific while hidden, becomes mere water and healing pus on exposure to the light and the air. More generous Jupiter will take the lead, still in service to limiting Saturn, but their conjunction on December 21 will put Jupiter out in front (if still on Saturn’s apron strings) for the rest of the year.
The high ground of the sky is held by Neptune in Pisces, fully entangled in The Net of the middle decan while the Midheaven holds the middle decan of Aquarius, called Heaven and Earth. The watery trickster, submerged deep in the confusing and turbulent seas of Pisces, promises new confusions on the internet that particularly affect our careers and reputations, while the Midheaven indicates a need to learn for our selves through a combination of our ethical precepts and the practical realities of the present moment, how to manage the balance between our workplace and careers, and the rest of our lives.
The North Node – South Node Axis is once again found on the Ascendant-Descendant line, inviting us to take rather more time for ourselves, and give less to others. With the South Node in the last decan called The Horse’s Skull, the warning is to avoid beating a dead horse when it comes to helping others: some people just can’t be persuaded to put on a mask. On the North Node side, more executive function is needed for ourselves. Whatever else is going on in the world, you have to move your own plans forward. The Ascendant, in the middle decan The Hermaphrodite, invites us to be more aware of our bent genders than usual: we’re neither entirely masculine nor feminine, and learning to think with and feel with our less-developed sides is likely to be useful in the next ten days. At the same time, the Descendant in The Bridle invites us to recognize that everyone else is subject to the same intellectual demands, physical needs and emotional passions that we ourselves feel: the hardships of quarantine (or whatever you want to call this endless waiting) are real for everyone, and affect everyone in different ways. It’s hard to know whether this is a description or prescription, but The Lot of Fortune, indicated by a circle divided in quarters by an X, is in the Seventh House, in the decan called The Poisoned Arrow, indicates that the thing we most want, contact with others, is both the source of our good fortune and our worst destiny right now: choose who you sit with, with more care than usual.
Venus and Mercury are both in Libra, with Mercury in the third decan called The Gyroscope, and Venus in the first decan called The Blindfold and the Sword. Here, Venus presents a vision of justice and fairness. Loving the night yet existing in daylight and climbing the sky ahead of the sun, she nonetheless resides in the underworld, trying to understand how to make man and woman play fair. As mentioned earlier, she’s approaching opposition with Mars on November 9-10, and during November 4-7 she has a role to play in the Grand Cardinal Turning mentioned earlier. She has quite a busy period in the next ten days, and she may be reeling from the changes expected of her.
For their part, Mercury rounds out the planetary placement of the next ten days. In a place of no special dignity or power, and retrograde to boot, they nonetheless turn themselves around: going direct on November 3, the day of the US presidential election, they spend November 9-10 in their own duodecima, able to analyze the presidential election just past with clarity and space to breathe. They won’t have any super special dignity here, but there’s likely to be a sense that the future is manageable. Mercury will go retrograde again on January 31.
Horoscopes by Rising Sign
Gemini: You’re likely to feel overly empowered at work in the next ten days, with your particular body of knowledge in significant demand and no one else measuring up in quite the same way. Take the time to educate your colleagues instead of lording it over them; you’ll make better allies with the humble approach. Your partner if you have one, or a business ally, may be feeling constrained or limited in significant ways, and there’s an oppressive financial decision looming on the horizon. Providing comfort through the process is better than trying to force a decision. You owe yourself a creative night or three: try painting or poetry. It will be hard not to judge your own work, but try — and keep producing rather than critiquing.
Cancer: You may be due for a bonus soon, but it comes at a cost of doing work for and with people that you loathe, and whose idiosyncrasies are poisonous to your well-being. Gently, slow down your productivity. If anything is going to pop around them, let it be them: your knowledge is likely to put you in good hands, especially if you can keep out of the delusions of the internet for a week and a half. When you’re next home, take a look around your dwelling, and identify some changes you’d like to make; communicate these desires effectively to your partner. You may not be able to act on them until after Christmas, but at least you’ve started planning.
Leo: A long-held dream of yours for your friends or family is coming up against some surprising real-world limits and challenges. It may be back to the drawing board for you. Before you sit down with a new pad of paper, though, sit down with a friend and work out where and how your dream went off the rails; a post-mortem would be a good exercise. And give yourself a break, too: you’ve been pushing on this problem for at least a year, possibly two and a half. You can afford to take ten days off before you redesign from scratch. This isn’t going anywhere — and a respite might reveal heretofore forgotten secrets.
Virgo: Stick close to home in days ahead. You may have to get creative with your finances, may have to cut off some long-standing plans, and review old accounts to claw back some cash from “fun funds” you had set aside. There’s a pair of projects that could make your career in the long haul, if you put in the necessary time and educate yourself about some surprising features of that work now… but don’t expect immediate fruit from these labors; this is about instituting a phase change, not a sudden transformation. Fun? Not for the next while, but things look better in the future. Keep plugging away, and check in with a few intimate friends if things get tough.
Libra: Creative work, whether written or painted or danced, is so “you” right now. Sure, you may be having an argument with a spouse, or significant other, or business partner; there may be some upheavals in your cashflow, or a surprise in your bank account. But you’ve learned a few important lessons, you’re able to do the necessary outreach to friends and spend less time with certain odious neighbors; and matters are coming to a head in your household situation. The next ten days should see resolution of several difficulties.
Scorpio: In the next ten days, cast your eyes on your daily schedule and work habits, and see if you can find some things worth being grateful for in your regular routine. You’re changed as much by it, as you change the workplace around you: there’s a mutually-beneficial web of relationships there that is purifying and refining both workplace and worker. If you have a partner, expect that some financial matters may creep into discussion, but keep your temper on a short leash; the truth is they may need resources more than you do right now. That may lead to some ugly discussions wit family members or close friends. Still working from home? It’s for the best right now. You may dream of going back to the office in power, but practical reality is that home is a divine place to ride out any storm.
Sagittarius: Your fortunes are tied up in making people understand who you are, and that means doing a better job of self-presentation. It may be worth asking your significant other or business partner to weigh in on this, and to discount your own take on who you are to some degree. Finances are under some significant pressure, I’m sure, but the bubble is about to burst on that, and monetary decisions should be easier. Have you really thought carefully enough about recruiting business clients close to home? Is the picture of you that’s available on the internet the real you, or an illusion of who you are (and I don’t just mean the physical images, I also mean the reputation).
Capricorn: Past decisions are haunting you for some reason, and you’re having to change things that made sense at the time but no longer serve you. It’s bringing up a lot of ugliness or unpleasantness. You may get a good idea for a business of your own, though; or you may find that you need to pay much more attention to your household goods than you’d like to or you’re used to. There’s a creative balancing act that needs to be done with your career right now. Whatever you do this week, make sure that you create the necessary documentation to go with it, even if it’s extra trouble; the documentation makes the work more valuable to you in the long run. An argument may spill over into real questions of leadership and ownership of home and hearth.
Aquarius: Some form of recognition for work you’ve done takes center stage, with both your partner and you benefitting from the acknowledgment. You find that you have darker thoughts about this recognition when thinking about it later, but try to learn from the experience, and communicate it to a friend, during some kind of social occasion. A financial windfall turns out to be a bit of delusion. but you and your partner may both be taken in if you’re not attentive to the obvious warning signs. A family member stirs up some trouble; the best course of action is to give some sign or signal that they’re in charge — while continuing to do what you think best. Some sort of upset may give you a few days at home alone: use the time wisely to prepare for certain obvious and likely futures.
Pisces: The temptation is to believe that truth cannot be known, or if it can be known, that you’re not capable of knowing it. But there’s an abiding truth in you, which you can’t find on news sites on the internet nor in the messages and memes you share with friends. Trust that truth, and follow where it leads you, and learn to rely on it. There’s a nasty buildup of trouble among your friends and associates, spilling over from past decisions and policies, and that’s going to be addressed quite soon; do your best to stay out of it for now, and concentrate on your own household’s needs this time around — but be supportive of your intimate friends when they come to you to explain the sudden changes. A dream project may see the best time to launch it, but it will require creative help from a friend with a fair eye for value and a reputation for creating win-win situations. Share your thoughts with them soon.
Aries: The next few days may see you blocking friends and acquaintances on social media, left and right, and hashing out your take on issues with a partner, a business ally, or a family member. There may be a strong temptation to lash out. There may be a strong temptation to say something along the lines of “well, if I ran the world…” but it’s important to remember that you DON’T. You’re going to get triggered and angry about things that people say to you, but there’s no way that you can prove everyone else is wrong. More than that, you may be deluded by information that you alone have — but which may or may not be true. Try to hold your fire off for a little while, and give yourself time to discern true friend and foe. You may discover that not everyone is as horrible as they seem at first glance.
Taurus: There are so many things that need doing right now, and so many things necessary to your long-term health and happiness, and yet you’re caught in a bit of an in-between state, unable to go back to the way things were, and yet not quite able to proceed forward. A lot of it has to do with money: you need more of it than you have to achieve the goals that you want, but all of this is likely to come from your partner, who may be under some financial strain themselves, and trying to demonstrate some skillfulness in areas of expertise where they could still use some extra education. You’d like to cut through the current quarantine madness and just hang out wit friends (even the ones who are kind of jerks), and none of the creative or communicative work you like doing is really making you happy at the moment. Lean into the learning and the toxicity of the present moment, and see what ancestral legacies come from the gift of that pause over the next several days.
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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.
I originally planned to start the CGD course on this date, because the sun would have been conjunct my midheaven.
And then Covid happened. At least I started doing the LBRP before the June eclipse, when I felt the world was going nuts.