The Cosmological Letter: summer solstice edition
The itinerant 16th-century European physician and scholar remembered as Paracelsus Magnus has returned once again to our valley, as he does four times a year, breaking the boundaries of time to inform us about the season that lies ahead.
My dear friends, I offer this delineation of the messages given by the stars regarding the autumn season now waiting to unfold. Early in the afternoon of September 22nd our Sun enters the sign of Libra, signifying the Autumnal Equinox, as the days begin to grow shorter and nights begin to lengthen toward winter. Gentle Libra lies opposite harsh Aries where, according to venerable Ptolemy, the Sun had been unfettered in his exaltation. By entering this sign of balance and consideration he becomes uncertain, and his dignity is said to be in fall.
The following week, on the 27th of the month, Mercury is once again retrograde, bringing his amiable thoughts into a revery. The mind may seem clumsy and distracted, but its considerations are too intangible for easy articulation, and is involved in matters not measurable yet still significant. Communication may seem disjointed, and tasks interrupted by certain frustrations, but only as we insist upon our expectations being met.
Early in the morning of October 6th, the New Moon conjoins the Sun with Mars and Mercury in Libra, and her generous naivety is well-counseled by Aquarian Saturn’s cautious trine. As the Sufis to the east have said, “Trust in Allah, but tie your camel.” The following day, Venus leaves Scorpio for Sagittarius to become less provocative and more affectionate, although Pluto, ruler of Scorpio, becomes direct in Capricorn to reveal darker impulses, although in cautious and subtle ways.
The fortnight following this lunation is especially active, as the Draconid meteors begin to shower and all that has been bound up in retrogradation becomes gradually loosened. After Pluto, no fewer than three more planets go direct. Saturn does so on the 11th, cautioning the following week with intention and resolve until big-hearted Jupiter encourages our appetites and ambitions on the 18th, and Mercury unbinds himself once again the following day, rousing himself from his wool-gathering.
On the 20th, in the predawn hours, the Orionid shower of meteors begin their cascade, trailing vaporous trains behind as they fly from Orion’s upraised club; and yet, these faint streaks of light may be difficult to recognize as the Full Moon in Aries, the Hunter’s Moon, sails down the western skies to set at sunrise.
Then the second month of autumn deepens and hardens the season, as our Sun asserts himself in vehement Scorpio late in the evening of October 22nd. Thus begins a darker, more troubling time. On November 5th, Mercury and Venus, agents of the mind and heart, react in their different ways, with Mercury taking up the weaponry of wary Scorpio while Venus hides her gentleness within the armor of grim Capricorn. It is a time to be attentive, yet to be neither terrified nor overwhelmed. As has been said: Be a witness, not a victim.
During the previous afternoon, the New Moon joins the Sun in Scorpio, where according to Ptolemy her considerate dignity is in fall and her warmth is hindered by the opposition of an intractable Uranus in Taurus. Do not be surprised by an impatient, pervasive moodiness setting in and taking hold the following day, as Venus leaves kind Sagittarius for stern Capricorn and Mercury enters Scorpio. And yet, although the heart may seem hardened, it is also patient, and if the mind seems obsessed it can be insightful as well.
Meanwhile, glorious meteor showers continue throughout the following nights from Taurus and from Leo. This rather fretful middle month of the autumn season culminates in the early hours of the 19th with the Moon’s partial eclipse at her north node, telling us that causes for regret should be ignored so that useful purposes can be discovered. This is the Mourning Moon, the Darkest Depths Moon according to Celtic tradition, and yet this hard month of Scorpio unwinds into a happier resolution as the Sun gladly enters grand Sagittarius on the evening of the 21st.
Sagittarius, the final month of autumn, is easily much livelier, for Mercury casts aside his dissatisfaction to join the Sun in that happier sign on the 25th of November, celebrated by the fireworks of the Andromedid meteor shower cascading across the night skies. Piscean Neptune then rouses herself on December 2nd, coming to inspire the opening days of December with new hope, confirmed by the Sagittarian New Moon on the 4th with good reason for newfound confidence.
Mars then joins the Sun in Sagittarius a scant few hours before restless Mercury moves into Capricorn on the 13th of the month; though there may be pleasant times ahead, they are tempered with a certain mindfulness while the Geminid meteor shower plays generously across the heavens that night.
The evening of the 18th will see the Full Cold Moon rising, marking the start of the Halcyon Days. These are, by ancient tradition, the seven days that surround and embrace the Winter Solstice, ushering the Sun into Capricorn on the morning of the 21st while the Ursid meteor shower plays across the night skies. This is a special time of quiet regard in the natural world, as the halcyon bird comes down from the sky to calm the wind and waves, animals and birds rest quietly in their dens and nests, and autumn finds its end with the beginning of winter.
Signed, Paracelsus Magnus, Doctor