Just at 1:17 am on November 2, 2021, only an hour and a quarter or so after midnight in New York City, the Sun enters the second decan of Scorpio, the one that Austin Coppock called The Alchemical Apparatus for Double Distillation (or The Double Distiller, for a slightly-shorter name). There the Sun is joined by Mars just entering the first decan. Soon, Scorpio will welcome both the Moon and Mercury — four planets in Scorpio on 5 November 2021, from 7:17 pm to 8:57 pm EDT, while the whirling heavens carry them through the cadent sixth house and the succedent fifth house — beginning a mere twelve minutes after the New Moon in Scorpio.
This confab of four planets in Scorpio will be one of the significant astrological events of the year, promising benefits to some and tribulation to others. In part this will be because, as each planet transits Scorpio, it will form a series of squares and oppositions, the negative or challenging aspects, to each of the planets in Taurus (Uranus) and Aquarius; (Saturn and Jupiter) the fourth side of the square, Leo, also goes through these challenges without the assistance of planetary support, as well.
The ruler of Scorpio overall is Mars, who is present in the first decan The Jawbone. Mars is thus dignified by sign, decan, and term, as well as by angularity and distance from the Sun. In about about two weeks, he will square Saturn — a traditionally difficult combination where discouragement, anger, fear, and ferocity combine to a dangerous stewpot. The transit perfects on November 10, just a few hours after Mercury’s square to Saturn, which will see us operating at the heights of our intellectual capacities… and at rock-bottom when it comes to communicating with others. It makes for an unusual and difficult combination, these successive hard aspects of Mercury and Mars to Saturn — where we are likely to be right about any given issue, but unable to communicate with either superiors or subordinates with skill or grace, and likely to deliver or receive unwarranted criticism or resistance to our ideas. Argument without resolution is likely. These two transits are likely to be particularly hard on writers, academics, and wage-earners… as well as those who operate in strongly authoritarian hierarchies like military and police.
The administrator of the second decan of Scorpio, though, is the Sun — present in a place he rules for the first time since Virgo I. Light and heat are essential to alchemical operations. We need both the slow, organic heat that gradually cooks the prime materials, and light to see the changes that are wrought in the original material as the alchemical process transforms lead into gold. In the double distillation process, two sealed beakers are placed over fires. Each has a condensation apparatus rising from its neck — and the egress from the condenser flows back into the opposite beaker. The distilled material from one beaker thus becomes the raw material for the other. Without careful regulation of heat, and without direct observation of the materials, the beakers will explode or the distillate will be ruined through over- or under-cooking. The Sun thus operates under the ambition of Mars, but brings a keen eye and a careful mindset to the work begun and ended here. As any artisan or craftsperson knows, sometimes the love of the work and the process itself also overtakes the ambition to have the thing being made — and the love of the flow-state we achieve while working through the process becomes more fundamental than the thing itself.
For the ancient Greeks, the middle ten days of Scorpio season was the time of Leto, the mother of Diana and Apollo. Hounded by Hera for her affair with Zeus, Leto was the victim of a prophecy that she would never give birth in the sea, nor on fixed land. Consequently, no place was willing to give the pregnant mother the time and space to bear her twin children. The tiny island of Delos — which is so small that you can walk across it, and around it, and end-to-end in only a morning — was said to be a floating island once upon a time, and so when Leto came to rest there, her birthing pains promptly ended, and she gave birth to the two twins — golden Apollo, the god of the Sun; and pale Artemis the goddess of the Moon. Once the birth was accomplished, Poseidon fixed the island to the bottom of the sea with chains of adamant, and Leto set about training her children for the duties they would assume shortly as the Olympian successors to the Titans Phoebus and Selene, the Sun and Moon deities of an earlier age. For this reason, she is called the “Rearer of Children” and honored as one who helps train youths to their adult responsibilities.
In these columns, I’ve speculated about the role of these ancient Greek assumptions about festival cycles. With the Erinyes, Kairos, Nemesis, the Nymphai, and now Leto, all serving their turn as the recognized deities, it’s hard not to point to these deities as a civics curriculum of sorts. We know that the religion of ancient Alexandria was both syncretic (adopting elements from many cultures) and civil (less about personal believe, and more about creating norms of good governance). Having Leto in the calendar — right after a series of deities who remind us strongly that the gods are not our playthings, but will mess us up right royally if we’re not careful and humble around them — acts as a reminder to both mothers and children to grow up and to raise your children right: to be curious but not intrusive, to be honorable, to seek to learn appropriate skills, and to participate in the religious life of the city. The mother’s responsibility to the children does not end with their births, but continues until the babe is ready to assume their role as a stable adult in the polis. The children, too, have a duty to their mother, to learn what needs must be taught. Of course, this work is both intense and organic — with the parent changing as much as the child. Austin was right to label this decan the Alchemical Apparatus for Mutual Distillation — two separate vessels, each purified and distilled by the action of the other: very much like the interrelations between elder and youth working together.
The dodecatemoria, the twelfth-parts of a sign, in Scorpio are recapitulations of Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini: the two swimming together but at cross-purposes in the wholeness of unity; the first fire in the head; the lumbering beast; and the emergence of two human beings at the end. It’s very much like the story of a child from the moment of birth to rationality. First the fetus is inside the mother’s womb — very much wanting to stay in — while the mother wants the child out. That’s the Pisces energy. Then comes the Aries energy, the child breathing air for the first time and the soul fire sparking for the first time as the eyes open and the child sees for the first time. Then, for a time, the Taurus energy when the baby does little besides eat, sleep, and poop, constantly in the care of other humans. Finally comes the Gemini energy, when the baby shifts to communication methods like grunting, sign language, and eventually speech. Then are the two humans finally aligned in common purpose, but clearly distinct from one another.
Thus, in the Sun’s administration, and in Mars’s rulership, and in the assignment of Leto to this decan, we see this same theme play out again and again. It matches a theme in the signature of an ex-girlfriend: trust the process, have faith in yourself. Scorpio’s intense secrecy, its ambition to make things perfect and sensual and powerful, comes from this striving to produce perfection, and neither to under-bake nor over-proof any product of its hands. The result of this perfectionist attitude can be both delay, and richness of results. Remember, with Leto, that the process can not really be rushed — you are bringing the divine into the world of matter. It takes as long as it takes.
In the chart for the Scorpio II ingress on 2 November, we find the preliminary set-up for a great many squares, the most difficult kind of aspect in any astrology chart. An opposition suggests two different powers going opposite directions, like a car passing you on the highway late at night with its high-beam headlights on. The irritation and difficulty is momentary, and likely caused by some kind of misunderstanding. A square, however, is a deliberate collision course, where both parties are likely to both cause and take offense at something the other party has done or is likely to do. The Sun is just past his square with Saturn, and about to have his opposition with Uranus; Mercury and Mars are up next for their squares to Saturn; and in the meantime the Moon will run the gauntlet of planets in Scorpio, simultaneously facing an opposition to Uranus and squares to Saturn and Jupiter — before ending in an eclipse on November 19. The first half of November thus appears fraught with both actual and perceived challenges; it will be difficult to gauge and measure out an appropriate response to the shifts around us.
The chart, cast for 1:17 am EDT is a night chart, in which all the night loving planets share the daytime sky below the horizon. Indeed, except for Uranus and Neptune (both retrograde), all the planets are below the horizon, giving weight and portent to private and perrsonal events rather than publc and political ones. Heavy stresses are placed on family and household life in the next ten days, and relationship shifts are likely to be significant as well.
The Ascendant is in Leo’s third decan, the Banner, indicating that we’re likely to suffer from a strong personal desire to get online and defend a particular political or social or philosophical point of some kind — or advance an agenda. You may see this as “doing your part for the revolution” but Leo’s ruling planet is the Sun in Scorpio… I promise you, this is not the week you make anyone see the light and come ’round to your way of thinking through your writing or your hot take on TikTok (Why AM I writing a column this week???) You are likely to start a series of philosophical fights, though, whose psychic effects are likely to linger well past the American Thanksgiving… and you are unlikely to be able to extricate yourself from these disputations easily. Consider well if they’re worth starting.
The Moon, at least, has your back for a little while. In Libra’s first decan which she administers, she’s well placed even though she’s cadent in the third house; and she’s in the Fifteenth Mansion — a combination for bonding with super close friends over spooky things, or forming new friendships. In close conjunction to the Lot of Fortune, she holds out the opportunity to make good money, as long as you’re willing to be fair in the transaction and not extortionate. Mercury is peregrine in Libra and not well placed by term, decan, or even dodecatemoria — they promise conversations of only middling usefulness and expertise only half-heartedly employed; you’re unlikely to get peak performance from doctors, therapists or financial advisors in the next ten days… and consultations in the latter half of the decan (November 6-11)are likely to be more confrontational than curative. Be cautious in opening too much.
The fourth House is where most of the action is, and for the next ten days at least Mars and the Sun will be present, joined by Mercury and the Moon later on. Mars is likely to propose ambitious but relatively unachievable goals for home — and precipitate an argument when these goals are seen to be unreachable. There are some ways to contain the whirlwind, of course: a good mopping of tiled or linoleum floors is a great way to start, followed by a vacuuming and deep cleaning with cleansers where appropriate. On the one hand, a thorough scrubbing is no substitute for a badly needed kitchen remodel — but with tangled supply lines, grossly overpriced lumber and tile, and shortages of white goods (aka kitchen appliances) in stores and shelves… do you really want to open up the walls right before winter holidays begin? As my parents’ contractor once said, “I promise your kitchen will be ready by Thanksiving… I just can’t promise you what year it will be, this year or next.” The Sun and Mars demand that you set a high standard for the condition of your house and your household… I advise you to set a high standard for a lower-level goal: a clean house is a lower-level goal. So is eating dinner together once a week, rather than “formal dinners every night.” Work for a high level of engagement to meet lower-level expectations —and remember the Monty Python sketch about paying for an argument; with lower stakes you’re less likely to go overboard in the heat of the moment.
In the fifth house of pleasures and happiness, the South Node and Venus occupy opposite ends of the sign of Sagittarius. The South Node always represents the idea of less or absence or lack, and in the first decan representing haste, it promises a sort of dignified slowness and delay in finding happiness in the next ten days. The book you just ordered will be delayed, and the library won’t be able to get you an advance copy; your friends will show up late to the wine tasting you arranged; your favorite cookies will be out of stock at the grocery store. The South Node also represents where the sh*t comes out, and you will find that your haste is artificially slowed: the police officer will pull you over for going over the speed limit; you will get in an accident while texting and driving; demanding a rush job at the take-out restaurant results in significant mistakes in your order. SLOW DOWN, and accept that the slowness is particularly mandated when it comes to hobbies and pleasures: you’ll get better results from attention to detail anyway, so take your time. At the same time, Venus offers creative burdens for your consideration: winter holidays are coming, and at least some of your gifts could be hand-made, if you start now. The nature of such projects at this time of year is always heavy-duty: it’s worth the time to think about whether or not this work is in you to take on. Recognize that the impetus to make all your holiday gifts yourself is real; be honest with yourself about what you can genuinely accomplish in the time you actually have.
Pluto winds up in the sixth house again, seated on The Throne of Capricorn. His natural tendency is to accumulate all the bad decisions of thousands or millions of people into an ugly, if not actually toxic, big-picture grand-scheme-of-things situation. You will be running into this mess every day, for the next ten days — stuck in traffic as everyone seems to go in the same direction (and tries to hasten there, see South Node in the previous paragraph); everyone panic-buying the same goods in shops and online; everyone starting their winter holiday shopping early (because they’ve heard about the logistics challenges); people forgetting or actively challenging the mask mandates despite real or imagined COVID numbers in the area. Whatever the situation, remember that it’s not apart from you. In the words of some unknown civil engineer, “you’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.” Your small and perfectly reasonable decision-making, in conjunction with thousands of other people’s perfectly reasonable decision-making, has put you in the current mess: be patient, it will sort itself out… try not to add to the problem by getting angry at all the perfectly reasonable people around you who just happened to ruin your Saturday afternoon. A side effect, too, is that it will be hard to find a qualified plumber or groundskeeper right now; have a clear sense of what’s a genuine emergency (water bursting from a pipe right next to your electrical panel), and what’s relatively low priority (a leaky faucet): it won’t fix the problem any faster, but it will help you wait out the delay.
Saturn and Jupiter are both below the horizon in the seventh house — once again, the Others are likely to be the source of your highest joy in the next ten days, and the origin of your greatest miseries. A friend of mine once said “Marriage, when it’s working, is like being in heaven… and when it’s not working, it’s hellish.” This is the insight that’s going to be breathing down your neck in the next ten days, as the household matters in Scorpio keep pinging on the question of how and how well your relationships operate. A great deal is likely to be left unspoken, as conversations go un-held and un-heard. The next conversation opportunity arrives and goes unused, too, even as the first missed opportunity goes stale. There’s a deep loneliness here which is going to be hard to escape from — and yet escape will often seem like the only option. I choose those words seem like carefully — this pattern breaks up in early January, and until at least then it’s best to consider your current stagnancy with business partners, lovers, spouses, and significant others a temporary pattern which is likely to improve in the new year.
One of the reasons for the stagnancy may be Neptune in Pisces in the eighth house, which is currently retrograde in the third decan called the Cup of Blood. Neptune is a dissolver of norms and a launderer of dreams; in this position, he is putting medical experts and armchair doctors alike through the washing machine — tumbling together a complex mix of genuinely useful insights with rumor and confusion, which tends to absolve many of responsibility. One of the ways this imprudence or misguided behavior can manifest right now, is for your closest allies… like your spouse, or your business partner or your significant other to spend money specifically beyond their means, or beyond your shared means; or to commit time and energy to a project beyond their capacities to fulfill — Reread the previous paragraph, in other words, and ask yourself if the stagnation in your relationships might be the result of the erosion of shared norms around finances, work duties, or the partnership agreement… and then gently broach these subjects in a way that avoids casting blame or fury… and maybe own up to your own problems along these lines first, and ask if your partner is going through something similar. You may not be able to work your way all the way back to the original norms, but you may be able to drink from the common cup again.
Uranus in the tenth house puts all of our careers under some stress in the next ten days. You may struggle to get the recognition for your Instagram posts, no matter how much the term “tasteful side-boob” seems to apply (thank you, Gary Trudeau of Doonsbury for such a memorable phrase). Some sort of sex scandal may appear in your workplace. The Midheaven advises you to keep your head down, do your work, and not pay too much attention to brewing scandal or difficulties in drawing attention to yourself: it’s not a great time for attracting much attention anyway.
Horoscopes of Decan I of any sign are free to the public; Decans II and III are available to the $3/month tier and above on Patreon.
have a Patreon account for those who want to support this column as it approaches the midpoint of its third year (I began with Leo I in 2019 ). We’re currently doing a decan walk through some Tarot, astrology, mythology, and magic. If you don’t want to become a regular patron, you can also buy me a Ko-fi in $3 increments, and any column I write after receiving a Ko-Fi donation will be open to the public. You can also schedule an appointment with me using Accuity Scheduling, for a natal or solar return consultation.
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 Hugh Tran‘s Physis typeface to craft logos for this blog, as well.
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, as is my Almanac for 2021. I follow T.Susan Chang and the Reverend Erik Arneson for insight into Tarot. 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, “A Full Volume of Splendour and Starlight” contains these smaller collections:
- To the Mansions of the Moon is a collection of hymns to the angels of the Mansions
- 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.
- Festae, hymns to some of the older Roman gods and spirits.