In Search of Beauty, Justice and Integrity
Dear Friend and Reader:
Humanity has always had a little going for it, and these days it seems to have ever less. But two things we count on to preserve our sanity and give ourselves reasons for continuing on are beauty and justice.
And we depend on integrity — commitment to truth and honesty — to get through the day, though we expect them to exist in others more than in ourselves.
Libra is a metaphor for all of these qualities. It’s the sign of balance, associated with the planets Venus (representing love, beauty, and value) and with Saturn (integrity, structure, and the reality principle). Libra offers an outbound and masculine expression of Venus; it’s about action rather than its more laid-back cousin Taurus, which usually prefers to stay home and have things delivered.
Life has come to the point where we never expect anything or anyone to be fair. In fact, it’s easy to evaluate nearly everything as a scam, a trap or at least to be skimming the profits. Then people cheer the billionaires as debt soars, food prices rise and the economy slowly tanks. We are starving for fairness and justice, which are essential to liberty.
What we think of as love so often ends in conflict. What we believe is integrity often turns out to be a mirage; an image. Astrology teaches us that these core concepts are preserved, undamaged, within the Dharma.
What we think of as beauty is being reduced to technology. And despite all the goddess-talk, it’s becoming illegal to perceive a woman as beautiful.
These Things Must Belong to Us, Not to Others
I maintain that all of these essential aspects of the human experience would be more meaningful if we stopped projecting them outward, and took full personal ownership of them.
Every day, a billion or so words are published on the internet accusing others of lying. Yet maybe a few words here and there are devoted to self-critique and correcting one’s own past mistakes or misconceptions. The notion of a “conflict of interest” seems to have disappeared from our lexicon of ideas. It has been reduced to a cave painting, sealed from view, to make sure nobody hears about it. We are paying the price for that.
Yet how do you handle yourself when your own interests conflict with your responsibilities or your assigned power?
Libra, as an important sign of relationships, is in what you might call the zone of projection. The central idea of Libra is therefore to be self-reflexive. Projection means to cast off one’s faults and see them in others; and to cast off one’s own beauty and seek it outside ourselves.
The Mighty Equinox
The Sun enters Libra overnight Friday to Saturday (and very late Saturday in Australia and New Zealand). This is the mighty equinox, the halfway point in the astrological year, and the Sun at high noon in what is called sidereal time — the “24-hour” clock that measures the Earth’s rotation relative to the stars.
It’s also used to track the apparent motion of the Sun on its path around the ecliptic. On this metric of time, a 24-hour day represents a year.
This year, the Sun joins the asteroid Pallas in Libra. The second-discovered asteroid is named for an epithet, or alternative name, of Athena. She is the goddess of wisdom, warfare and protection — and handicraft. Goddesses of her cycle are associated with weaving, which is itself symbolic of writing and storytelling.
As the story goes, Athena was born in full armor from her daddy’s head. She was born ready for action. In this article, I’ll be using the proper name of Athena for the asteroid (2) Pallas.
Athena taking a conjunction from the Sun should bring out the very best in Libra, if we are open to receiving it. A goddess figure with a masculine expression aligns beautifully with the masculine expression of Venus. And both wisdom and weaving describe a version of the integrity factor of Libra’s exalted planet, Saturn. Dharma is acting as if to hold the world together.
Other Factors in the Equinox Chart
We are still living with a lot of retrograde planets. Venus and Mercury have recently moved to direct motion. Venus in Leo is now visible in the morning sky (the heliacal rise was last month).
But Pluto, Saturn, Nessus, Neptune, Chiron, Eris, Jupiter and Uranus are all retrograde. This may have the feeling of difficulty making forward progress. To me, it’s about a gestation period, before the new expressions of these energies take form.
Saturn goes direct Nov. 4, and the rest will follow one at a time as the Sun approaches a trine to them. This is when we will see what was hiding behind the veil of the retrograde.
Yet this is not merely about waiting; it’s about the opportunity for preparation. Retrogrades tend to turn attention inward, and we could use a lot more of that. Retrogrades turn attention toward the past, and there is much to reconcile. And they are also about what you are not saying, so you don’t “threaten” others.
This obsession with keeping mum is slowly choking off the ability to hear the truth. You may think it’s dangerous, though if you do, you will never know its true power. Integrity demands that you say what you mean, and claim your truth outwardly as well as inwardly. Yes, there is a payoff for silence — and usually, that involves blood money.
My Meeting with Athena
To my eye, the truly glorious aspect in this chart is the Sun joining Athena in Libra. The Sun will track the asteroid until the conjunction on Oct. 1. If you are committed and determined, this is a potential point of emergence.
While on the topic of Athena, I once met her personally. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say she gave me a personal message. This was in 1996, when I was between a trip to Crete and Egypt with Barbara Hand Clow, on my way to Sicily to take care of ancient family business.
Whenever I get to Greece, I feel like the Pope: my first instinct is to kiss the ground. My mother feels the same way. I was sure my DNA would come back with some Greek blood, but it did not.
Anyway, on my first-ever visit, I had one day and one night in Athens before heading to Palermo. I was determined to go to the Acropolis and visit the Erechtheion, her temple. I got to the Acropolis at about 4 pm. It was a misty, almost rainy afternoon, though I had enough of a view of Athens to be moved to tears, and to personally witness the city she was named for, and which she protects.
The Acropolis is about a seven-acre plateau on top of a pretty high hilltop. I only saw one other visitor, and one security guard, who seemed to be hiding in his booth to stay out of the light rain.
So by some miracle, I had the place to myself. First I visited the Parthenon, which was the official government office (and later an armory, where there Turks hid gunpowder, which exploded when it was bombed in 1687, nearly destroying the building).
Finding the Erechtheion; Athene Finding Me
I made my way to the Erechtheion. I had never seen a photo of it, so I didn’t know what to look for — but I got there easily enough. Then I discovered that it was closed. The entrance to her temple was roped off. So I slipped off to the side of the building, in what seemed like a little alleyway (there are a lot of those amongst Greek artifacts).
I lit some stick incense as an offering, and jammed it between two stones in the structure (probably a crime). Then I leaned back against the building, closed my eyes, requested her presence, and waited. But I did not have to wait for long. It was as if she was expecting me. Within a minute or so, her spirit manifested: a palpable presence above me and to my front left.
And then her message came in: “I have given up an element of my femininity to do what I do, just as you have given up an element of your masculinity to do what you do.” And that was it. She introduced herself as one with whom I shared a parallel existence, blessing my mission and purpose — whatever she perceived it to be.
I knew what she was talking about.
And that was it — she was gone, leaving her blessing with me.
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Planet Waves for October 2023 — Part One
By Eric Francis
These horoscopes are based on the chart for the Libra Equinox, posted above. Next week I will look out to the end of the month. — efc
ARIES — Standing up to your relationships is a matter of confidence, not confrontation. Ultimately, this is about understanding that no relationship is strictly necessary, and that all must have a purpose. Sadly, we are trained to act from a place of obligation, and relationships are expected to serve their own ends. Yet with ethics like this, it’s easy to get lost in a fog. Whether you or someone else initiates a discussion, the encounter must happen and be on honest terms. When that happens, you will see that your viewpoints are probably not so far off. However, a seeming difference in opinions may mask a deeper issue of desire. Since I am speaking to you, my question is: what do you want, and what do you want from the relationship in question? Make sure you know these things, and are being sincere with yourself in your assessment. Either you will get them from this relationship experience, or you will not. You cannot expect anyone to change; therefore, you must be willing to make the changes that place you at the center of your existence.
TAURUS — What seems to be about something large is really about something small. In other words, the core matter is not a big deal, but it’s a subtle, important one. Yet it may be taking exaggerated forms that conceal your actual situation: the decision you need to make, the thing you may be keeping from yourself, or whether you accept some truth about your existence that you know you cannot avoid. Such small items - often what psychologists call “withholds” - have a way of holding back progress and can do so for years. Your charts looking ahead to the spring describe quite a bit of progress that could be delayed or even diverted if you are not entirely real with yourself, and act on what you know. The coming conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus in your birth sign or rising sign takes place April 20, 2024. This is something to honor and respect now, and if you do, it will be much more relevant then. Tune into your potential, and recognize that you have not always identified what was holding you back in the past. You are a more mature person now. Notice, and do what is right for you.
GEMINI — You have blessings that you may not be counting, and are not even aware of. Now that Mercury is direct, you can tap into some of those, even though they may remain out of sight for a while. You will validate their existence by accepting their gifts. One of these is peace of mind. It can seem insane to have any state of serenity in the world as it is today, so you will need to do this on a kind of dare. Being at peace with yourself will not make things go wrong, so you have nothing to lose. And contrary to the experience of those who spent 10 years in psychoanalysis, a state of serenity is a decision and a habit, in that order. With the Sun about to enter your fellow air sign Libra, this is a good time to experiment — and to do so in a creative way. Creative means learning; learning is the discovery that something is possible. This is not so much an event as it is a state of mind, and for you, the immersion in beauty is always the thing that gets your mental and emotional glands flowing.
CANCER — When the Sun enters Libra, you’re invited to be at home in the world. Of course, that invitation is open all the time, though when the Sun moves through your 4th solar house you can truly feel it, and feel the inclination to respond. Said another way, it feels safe to feel safe. There is something else going on which may be contributing to this. A Chiron-like planet called Asbolus has entered your sign; after completing a brief transition period, it will be with you for about 20 more years. This is focusing your awareness of the serious problems humanity faces at this time, and is likely to be calling on you to stand up to them. This includes the matter of evil, the vexing influence that family influences can have, and the tendency for things to run out of control. You are starting to understand that you share something in common with all life. This is a deep realization, and it will give you strength. You are starting to recognize that your actions make a difference. And you are in a position to gather around you people who want to make changes. Get to know them before you determine that they are sincere.
LEO — It’s been said that fortune favors the bold, and this is true for you now. Yet the nature of courage is less about conquering the world and more about expressing your ideas with some finesse and gusto. You know you’ve got a tendency to understate where you might express yourself with flair; and to avoid confrontations when you need to engage. Now is the time to turn up the torch, and to speak directly rather than in rhymes, riddles or metaphors. Get to the point of what you want and what you need. This is not merely about self-expression as an abstract concept, or for pleasure. This is about your spiritual quest, your healing process, and learning to be yourself without reservation. Factors involving areas in your chart where you establish your reputation, take leadership and take responsibility will be building in strength over the next six months, and we could also say that fortune favors preparation. Yet the first step is saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Of course people will respond, and even the meekest comments invite pseudo controversy. That much is a game; being real in your writing, speech and artwork, at all times, is the essence of your spiritual journey.
VIRGO — There is a reason why financial matters are treated with such taboo: they involve secrets, they touch on issues of death and legacy, and people tend to treat money as if it was some occult, mysterious object rather than a storage device for energy. The way to handle taboo is to call it what it is, and to dance with fear rather than cow down to it. Yet there is another factor that impacts you directly. Financial freedom is personal freedom. You are aware that, on one level, your ability to make choices depends on your resources. And at the moment, your astrology is saying to get your own, and to be minimally dependent on others. For many people, the appeal of relationships involves a monetary arrangement, which is then cast as love or partnership. You will make useful discoveries if you peel back the layers and look closely at the dimensions of your agreements. What would you do if you suddenly had all the resources that you needed? What about your situation would you change? That would be an honest assessment of how you really feel. Then the question moves to, do you need to take action in any event?
LIBRA — Relationships of all kinds have been under scrutiny the past couple of months, and once again this comes to a head in the chart for the Sun entering your birth sign. Slowly, the fog is clearing. The truth is emerging, though this often happens through confrontations — not your favorite thing. Gradually, you are determining what is necessary, what is harmful, and what you want and do not want. With the Sun moving through your sign, and a solar eclipse forthcoming, think of this moment as a phase of sorting out. Be grateful every time you’re faced with a decision, and make a choice. Pay attention to how many situations in your life are the result of not deciding rather than consciously exercising your discretion and your power to choose. While much of life seems to be a popularity contest, in truth, that does not apply to any issue that actually matters. It would be best to remember that people decide how they feel about you; you have no control over that. But you do have control over whether you’re true to yourself, and whether you honor your own opinion rather than wondering what the neighbors may think. I know that has never seemed to matter more, and in reality it has never mattered less.
SCORPIO — Events of the next month will help you blow off pressure. There's often an odd, hidden intensity before the Sun enters your sign — that is, when it’s moving through Libra each autumn. Yet this year there are points of release that will feel better than your ears popping after you get off of a long flight. Scorpio is the sign of secrets, and there is plenty that you don’t reveal to yourself. That is part of the pressure equalization. Not getting how you really feel often leaves you in an indecisive state, or waiting for someone else to act, so that you can react. You will have opportunities to experiment with taking initiative. That will be the most wholesome response to your inner revelations; one will flow to the next. The whole point of making a personal discovery is the impetus to take action based on what you know. There comes a point where you can no longer live with certain conditions once you have determined what they are. Your chart is set up such that you are at your most alive when you allow yourself to be resolutely who you are. If you’re looking for a key to success, that’s an excellent place to start.
SAGITTARIUS — The time will come when you must make big moves, though it’s a little in the future — about three seasons from now. Now is the time to prepare, by which I mean learning how to engage in all facets of your work in a new way. The thing you want to be doing is the one where time seems to disappear. You are so involved that you look at the clock and it’s 9 pm and then you look again and it’s 2 am. Notice what you’re doing when that happens, and do more of it. There is another feeling tone to work with, and that is a sense of discomfort or tension in certain creative, sexual or self-expressive experiences. It’s the opposite of the feeling I described above. You may enter certain situations and feel like you can never really be sincere enough; or like you’re not real enough; or like you’re uncertain who you are. You may not think of this as helpful, though really it’s about working your inner frontier. Make friends with what is unfamiliar within you; with parts of you that are injured; with what you don’t understand. These are the true sources of your strength and creativity.
CAPRICORN — The Sun entering Libra is calling you to take leadership, in your life and to some real extent, in the world around you. You may not like the fact that we live in a political world, though it’s time to engage that fact fully — and take control over your own affairs. While yours is often described as the strictly business sign that is all about ambition, it’s humorous that these topics in your chart are covered by a sign that’s about balance, beauty and justice. The more you emphasize these qualities, the more compelling you will be. For example, even in the most seemingly formal situations, you can dress how you like. You always look good with a splash of color. You can apply this idea to the realm of personality, and even to corporate or family circumstances. The digital world is stripping us of sensory experience, and you have a lot to offer. Yet it’s also bleaching out another factor, which is our sense of justice. At the moment, this is burning bright in you, and you can hold it up like a beacon in our dull world. Emphasize contrast, and demonstrate boldly that there are such things as right and wrong.
AQUARIUS — The Sun entering Libra on Saturday will help shift your priorities, and remind you that you live in a much wider world than you usually notice. Though the concept of “levels” is not always helpful, in this scenario, the idea of rising to get a better view is appropriate. Shift your priorities to a higher order. Consider what really, truly matters to you, and emphasize those things on a daily basis. Most of what the world is clogged with are petty matters that have no relevance, and no use except to waste time. Yet this is a profoundly important time in your life, and your direction of travel is also deeper as well as higher. Your foundations are shifting. Even further down, the tectonic plates of your soul are moving and rubbing up against one another. There are mountains forming within you. In truth, there is a new world being born within your psyche. The first signs of this will be your choice to take a more magnanimous view of people, and of life. You will find yourself offering your help when you do not stand to benefit. You will recognize what is true because it’s beautiful and elegant and feels right (rather than stirring up angst or worry).
PISCES — Patience is not a virtue. It’s a necessity. So too is the art of not wasting time waiting for something to happen. The thing to do with time is to use it wisely; that means reconciling the past (represented by Saturn retrograde in your sign, for about another six weeks). It means looking inward for what you need to address, and then preparing for what you know you want to do in the future. The Sun’s ingress into Libra favors all forms of negotiation. Generally, once you’re in a position to discuss the possibilities with a willing party, you can come to an agreement that works for everyone. So the more of those discussions you get into, the more you’ll be able to figure out what you want. It’s essential that you determine where you stand with everyone in your life, and notice who is willing to engage in the sharing and exchange of resources. That must include you; offer what you reasonably can to any situation from which you benefit. Do a little more than your part — not a lot more, just a little more. Then really pay attention and see what happens next. Important developments are on the horizon; it’s up to you to make sure they are the right ones, that support you and the greatest good.