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.
Welcome the poetry of plants into thy body and partake of the nectar of a hundred million years of Earth’s wisdom.
In general terms, it is best to plant while the Moon is waxing (New Moon to Full Moon, increasing light) and to cultivate soil, and control weeds and pests while the Moon wanes (Full Moon to New Moon, decreasing light). However, one can work with cosmic influences in much greater detail using astrological principles drawn from the 18th century scientist better known as a playwright, Goethe, and his more modern day transmitter Rudolf Steiner.
The most auspicious time for planting, such as cover crops, in September and October will be from 5:18pm Tues., Sept. 26 through Thurs., Sept. 28 at 5:17pm when the Moon is waxing in the sign of Pisces. The best time for harvesting fruits, like apples and pears, is from 7:06am Wed., Sept. 20 to 1:20pm on Fri., Sept. 22, and also from 12:36pm Tues., Oct. 17 until 6:54pm Thurs., Oct. 19 when the Moon is in Sagittarius.
September 20 to September 29, 2023: Waxing Moon
September 22 – First Quarter in Sagittarius
The first quarter Moon is best for planting annuals whose yield is above ground, especially leafy sorts which produce seed on outside of the fruit.
Sept 20 and Sept. 21 and Sept. 22 until 1:00pm good for planting radishes, leeks and onion sets. It is also good for harvest, with fruits picked under a Sagittarius Moon, such as apples and pears, said to keep well (Moon in Sagittarius).
Sept. 22 after 1pm and Sept. 23 and Sept. 24 are good for planting ornamental shrubs and trees, and good for grafting and pruning, as cuts will heal well (Moon in Capricorn).
Sept. 25 and Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 are favorable for mitigating pest and weed overrun or imbalance (Moon in Aquarius).
Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 until 5pm are the most auspicious days of this period for planting seeds, such as for cover crops, so they get established before the weather turns cold and wet. It is also a good time for starting composting heaps (Moon in Pisces).
September 29 to October 6, 2023: Waning Moon
September 29, 2023 – Full Moon in Aries
Sept. 30 favors cultivating, tilling, plowing, pest and weed mitigation (Moon in Aries).
Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 are good times for planting spinach and Swiss chard to winter over and harvest early spring. Good for especially root crops which need the root system to overwinter (Moon in Taurus).
October 6 to October 14, 2023: Waning Moon
October 6 – Last Quarter in Cancer
The Moon is decreasing in light all the way to the New Moon, and all days of this period favor pest and weed mitigation, but especially October 8 and 9 are favorable for destroying unwanted trees or roots with less chance of their return, so these days would be a great for tackling the blackberry, Scotch broom or knotweed. Also favors harvesting fruit and root crops for food, as well as beans for drying (Moon in Leo).
October 14 to October 21, 2023: Waxing Moon
October 14 – New Moon in Libra
While we are moving out of the period in which planting is feasible, there may still be autumn’s harvest to gather. Oct. 17 after 12:30pm and Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 favor harvest of fruits, such as apples and pears, which are said to keep well when picked under a Sagittarius Moon (Moon in Sagittarius).