2023 November/December
We arrive at an equalization of hours of light and dark as the Sun enters Libra, the sign of balance on Sept. 22, tipping the scales towards ever increasing dark hours. The autumn equinox signals a rebalancing of Earth’s life energies, a transition towards the torpor and restorative rest of winter. A flurry of activity accompanies the energetic reorganization of equinox, whether that be the harvest of summer’s growth or preparing the ground to both rest and restore itself to receive next spring’s rebalancing act. We might meditate on the relationship of light and dark in terms of the balance between output and input, or productive and fallow time. What new balance might we be looking to strike to keep up with a sustainable momentum of life?
 Within the larger astrological arc, the autumn equinox spotlights our aspirations, ideals and dreams as the future-oriented Sun opposes the unifying and divinizing qualities of Neptune (exact Sept. 19). This particular cosmic influence requires the loosing of imagination and metaphorical means of reflection, as it is better for dreaming than for strategizing. Sun-Neptune periods can also be a little confusing and disorienting, particularly when trying to use linear thought processes. Even so, we may be able to access more creative solutions thanks to a greater permeability and openness to external influences. The sign of Libra emphasizes relationship to others, and Neptune adds in the mystical perception of unity that transcends all differentiation between Self and Other.  
Though our typical thoughts around belonging and including others has most likely been open to different perspectives since June this year, under the influence of Venus’ retrograde, which wraps up on Oct. 6.  She has held a very long square aspect to the liberating powers of Uranus (exact Sept. 29) throughout her retrograde, which tends to provoke uncoupling and the exploration of freedom within relationships. This final exact square aspect between Venus and Uranus may sound a final note in a process of redefining self-image, self-in-relationship and the connections we would like to maintain beyond this summer’s turbulence. Meanwhile, the focalizing power of the Sun has taken up Venus’ torch now, as the sign of Libra is said to be ruled by Venus, who symbolizes reciprocity, harmony and beauty, and the Sun in Libra will function through her lens until Oct. 23.
We might take hold of larger visions of the cycles and expansions of life through the equinoctial portal as well, as the high energy of the Sun briefly forms a harmonious grand trine aspect with Uranus trine Pluto. The interactions between the slower moving planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto provide indicators of wider movements in culture and society, and Uranus trine Pluto is a long-term planetary influence active all the way to 2023 which indicates a striving for evolutionary innovations. It is also companioned for the entire duration by revolutionary Uranus’ sextile aspect to visionary Neptune, which tends to stimulate desires for spiritual utopia. These long-term influences suggest that the upheaval of the 2010s and early 2020s will be finding integration into the foundations of culture and society through this decade, and throughout the world we might see new iterations of political, social and moral values.
Yet the astrology of the 2020s does not appear to be less dramatic when hung against the backdrop of current historical events, and will call for continual adaptation to changing circumstances in our individual lives. In navigating such changes and taking an active role, perhaps the philosopher-farmer Wendell Berry’s suggestion that we seek to fight for what we believe in, rather than fighting against what we abhor, can steer us away from needless conflict and towards creative responses to challenges as they come.
Now turning our gaze to the night skies overhead, we will begin to notice a rapid loss of light  as we begin to tilt away from the Sun, losing 3 minutes of daylight each day until we have 3 hours less of sunlight by the end of October. On the other hand, we will gain 3 hours of night sky under which to appreciate celestial phenomena. Venus’ newborn morning star is her brightest phase and she is approaching greatest western elongation (distance from the Sun) on Oct. 23, which means she rises pretty early (3:30am) and is high in the eastern sky before the Sun gets up. Mercury has also recently had their heliacal rising as morning star on Sept. 16 and will dwell in morning skies until disappearing from view around Oct. 10.
Ironically, during these lengthening nights we should begin to consider the Sun’s impact on the night sky as we approach solar maximum over the next two years, meaning the height of solar flare activity and an increase in the aurora borealis, including in lower latitudes on Earth. We may now predict auroras with some accuracy, via the short-term Ovation Aurora Forecast from NOAA (linked here: https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-30-minute-forecast). Just press play on the animation at the linked NOAA website to view the forecast for today. If you’re inside the Northern Lights covered area or around 500 miles (800 km) above or below, you’ll have a chance of seeing the aurora. The intensity of the aurora is shown in different colors from green (faint/normal activity) to yellow (higher activity) to red (very strong activity). Keeping one eye on the cloud cover and the other on aurora forecasting, we will be able to enjoy some powerful encounters with the mysterious beauty of the Northern Lights in the coming years.
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