It really fucking *was*

OK, so who needs a hug?

When the Sun entered Virgo immediately after the eclipse two weeks ago, it entered the service of a retrograde Mercury; worse, it did so alongside the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto, Vesta, Pallas, Ceres, Juno and your mom. Save Neptune and Chiron — which had their own problems — the whole of the Zodiac was under the sway of a capricious, sadistic ruler, with predictable chaos as everybody struggled to keep pace.

(For the record: The fact that Mercury rules communication, including writing, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I didn’t write an article in the past few weeks. Nope. Nosiree.)

Pictured: The author, this time last week.

So anybody could be forgiven for taking a moment to cool down and collect themselves as Mercury stations direct between the 4th and 5th this week, finally putting an end to our collective astrological nightmare. And they should do exactly that, because a new astrological nightmare is just beginning and a moment is all they’re gonna get.


In short: As Mercury stations direct this week, it does so while closely conjuncting Mars, lord of all aggressive action; at the very same time, Mercury trines Uranus — avatar of revolution. Meanwhile, the Sun trines Pluto, merging the precision of Virgo with the intensity of Scorpio’s ruler. To top everything off, the Sun also opposes the conjunction of the Full Moon and Neptune in Pisces, lending an element of genuine spiritual fervor to the proceedings.

In many situations, this would all indicate an exceptional marriage of thought and instinct, heralding a period of revolutionary ideas and actions that could transform the world overnight. But unfortunately, this is not one of those situations: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are all currently in retrograde, meaning that the energy they’re putting into all of these aspects only amounts to a cloud of delusion fogging our vision.

So, as strong as the temptation may be right now, it is imperative that we all resist the urge for drastic shifts, and instead put in the tedious work required to make sure that the changes we want to make are both lasting and truly in line with who we are and who we want to be.

In other words, right now we are all nerds.

Generations of ancestors spawned so they could produce us

Between the eclipses and Mercury’s retrograde, we’ve spent the last part of our lives being shat upon and otherwise abused, and we’ve been quite down on ourselves as a result. But now, seemingly out of nowhere, we’ve experienced a sudden surge in confidence; with our newfound swagger, we’re even thinking about asking the hottest person in school out to the prom.

…But if we do that right now, we’re only going to get rejected; their partner — quarterback on the cheerleading platoon — is going to beat us up behind the bleachers; in the course of the beating, we’re going to wet ourselves; video of the wetting is going to be uploaded, and no college is going to want a kid like that on their rolls. So we shouldn’t do that.

But at the same time, we have a nerdy friend who’s clearly been pining for us this whole time; somebody who isn’t so flashy, and wants to help us through all of our tough life stuff simply because they care and want to help us succeed. They’re also likely just as hot as the cheerleading manager, only wearing glasses and ratty sweaters so you know they’re a nerd and they take off their glasses you’re like omg u’ve been beautiful this whole time ahhhhhhhhh and…

Anyway, this week don’t be the jerk who tries to ditch their friends to ask out the hot person; you’re only going to learn a very special lesson, and it’s probably going to hurt. The end.

You haven’t had an easy summer, have you?

It’s not hard to understand why: Your ruling Mars has been afflictedfor months now, and the obstacles placed in your path have defied easy solution. Suffering as you do from excruciating impatience, this state of affairs has been almost unbearable. The belief that you can blitz through any problem is so central to your being that when you’re confronted with one that takes more than one step to solve, you either:

A) Immediately retreat into self-doubt.
B) Redouble your efforts by attacking the problem the same way, but yelling and cursing a lot more; fail; retreat into self-doubt.
C) Deny that you lost at all; try to forget it ever happened; retreat into self-doubt; claim it’s actually self-care; cry when nobody’s looking.

Chances are that you’ve spent much of the summer alternating between those three options as your dilemmas have seemed ever more intractable, your rut growing deeper with every spin of your wheels. This past week has likely been one of the toughest: With a retrograde Mercury conjuncting Mars, it’s likely that you’ve been tantalized and infuriated by the solutions you’ve sought dancing just beyond your reach, blurred and formless while you struggled for the words that would give them shape.

So aren’t you lucky that when Mercury stations direct on Labor Day, it pivots within a degree of Mars, linking hands and pulling it along in conjunction for the next three weeks. Starting Monday, the solutions you’ve struggled to define will be cast in crystal relief, offering you the chance to dismantle the obstacles that have mocked you these many weeks.

This opportunity has a caveat built into it, however: With Mars trine Uranus, you may be tempted to take characteristically swift, brutal action even while Uranus’ retrograde motion warns against it. And most of the dance between Mars and Mercury will take place in Virgo’s ballroom — a place of incremental gains and tiny, precise movements. This summer has been a trial of patience above all things, Aries; if you’ve internalized those lessons, you can now begin to set yourself free.

Taurus, you have a flaw that you’re desperately unaware of.

You have an incredibly strong sense of self, so strong that you can often afford to be understated about it. But you tend to underplay it so well that even those closest to you tend to overlook it; and if you go too long without asserting your inherent power, you tend to overlook it as well. So you continually place yourself in service to others, playing the role of faithful friend and lover until the lines become hollow and your paces leave tracks in the dust.

It’s a trap you lay for yourself so slowly and subtly that you hardly notice until well after it’s been built and reinforced many times over — and since you only build things that reflect your own solidity, it can be a nightmare to break free.

That’s why you should embrace the opportunity the next coming weeks provide you. Your ruling Venus stands triumphant in Leo, the sign of unceasing self-assertion; by the end of the week, the North Node will form a perfect midpoint between your ruler and a Mercury newly freed from its retrograde — a clear indication that this is a time to speak loudly as you remind those around you of your intrinsic value. Even better, this week Venus begins to trine Saturn in Sagittarius, implying that any action that honors your sense of self-worth can only help you achieve your long-term goals.

You contain riches so bountiful that you tend to denigrate them, Taurus, the way you would water from your tap; this week, luxuriate within yourself.

OK, repeat after me: It’s almost over.

(It’s almost over.)

(It’s *almost over*.)

For weeks now, Mercury has whiplashed through retrograde, taking your entire sense of self with it; your talon-sharp mind has been dulled, and your words have fallen flat on your tongue. Worse, your usual sense of focus — we’ll be kind and call it adequate — has been even further fractured. In short, while you can often jete back and forth between seemingly unrelated subjects, linking them in profound ways, your leaps as of late have fallen short. Like, Wile E. Coyote short.

This past week has likely been especially frustrating, with Mercury beginning to conjunct Mars; you’ve likely felt spurred to action while at the same time being robbed of your ability to define what that action should be — and with it, the confidence that you need to take any action to begin with.

But, Gemini: (*It’s almost over*.)

Mercury stations direct on the fourth, and it pirouettes right on top of Mars. Your multifaceted sense of clarity — your ability to view all the sides of a diamond at once — will be restored; moreover, the vague imperative issued by Mars will soon be cast in clarion as you rediscover your greatest tools and press forward into the conflicts you’ve been unable to solve these past few weeks.

So, breathe easy, Gemini: It really, truly, honestly, legitimately, sincerely is almost over.


Where do you like to hide, Cancer?

I don’t mean physical spaces, even if every Cancer has at least one place they’ve barricaded against the encroaching world — usually your room, the door blocked with whatever stuffed animals you haven’t buried yourself in. I mean the room inside yourself, the compartment you retreat to whenever you’re outwardly poker-facing your way through an emotionally overwhelming situation.

Wherever that is, it’s very likely you’ll be tempted to lock yourself inside early this week, when your ruling Moon — in full bloom — conjuncts a retrograde Neptune in Pisces. The ruler of your watery sister (the one you usually look down on), Neptune represents the deepest parts of our unconscious, the part where dreams give way to delusion, and delusion gives way to dissolution and oblivion. It’s what you would be without that lacquered, impenetrable poker face shielding all of your most sensitive points.

As such, any aspect between the Moon and Neptune is a time of great emotional sensitivity for you — this goes double for conjunctions, and triple when the Moon is full. But what makes this particular transit *especially* rough for you is the Sun, hanging almost exactly opposite in Virgo.

In this placement, the Sun represents the unceasing demands of the everyday world — the basic tasks that seem manageable until you start putting them off, at which point they build up until they threaten to overwhelm you. In other words, the exact kind of thing that could send you scurrying to your panic room at a time when the stuffed animals inside are already looking extra snuggly.

But as strong as that temptation might be, Neptune’s retrograde motion indicates a time to shun your usual retreats and fight through whatever landslide threatens to bury you. And once you do, you can stand secure in the knowledge that you don’t *always* have to hide inside yourself — every once in a while, you can leave the door to your panic room open.

Are you OK, Leo?

Right up until the eclipse, your Sun was in rulership; most of the Zodiac danced to your rhythm, and even if all was not right in the world, much was right for you. Then, just after the eclipse, the Sun entered Virgo and reported for work under a retrograde Mercury; I imagine the effect was much like a glass rolling off a table, and you’ve been in free-fall ever since.

(Remember when Mufasa got shoved off that cliff? You’re Mufasa; Mercury is Scar; Virgos are hyenas.)

But, as ever seems to be the case with you, there’s a pile of mattresses at the end of your drop. This week, Mercury stations direct in Leo, right on top of Mars, a clear indication that now is the time to act on all the thoughts you had while plummeting to the ground. This opportunity has a catch, though: The Mercury/Mars conjunction trines a retrograde Uranus, lending a temptation towards swift, revolutionary action at a time that begs sober discipline and hard work.

That doesn’t mean the coming weeks have to be quite as dreary as all that, though. At the end of the week, the North Node in Leo forms a perfect midpoint between Venus and Mercury, lending you the chance to reap great rewards in your personal life. You likely had a lot of scary thoughts while you were plunging to the ground, Leo, and as much as you would like us to believe otherwise, they’re not the kind of thoughts you can just strut off by yourself.

This week, resist the urge to overadjust from the retrograde by seeking those people in your life who can affirm the sense of self-worth you hold so dear. Otherwise, the rest of Virgo season will be another long free-fall, with nothing to break it at the end.

There’s a delusion very near and dear to you, Virgo.

You think yourself the model of objectivity, impartially sorting lies from fact in an unending search for truth. You’re more than a little bit condescending about this, too; you view the rest of us as benighted souls sullied by greed and ambition, blinded by the muck crusted in our eyes. You stand above all that, insisting that even though Christmas falls in December, clearly Christ was born in September, for only a Virgo could truly save the world.

But the truth is, you’re every bit as prone to self-delusion as the rest of us, and maybe even a little more so: You convince yourself that your personal ambitions align with the greater good so thoroughly that there is no separation between them — and as a result, you wind up doing far more harm than those who are honest in their avarice.

This is all particularly relevant this week: Your ruling Mercury stations direct in Leo, just as its power is being boosted via mutual reception via the Sun in Virgo; it does so right on top of Mars, lending a sense of urgency impelling you to press forward in solving whatever problems have been on your mind throughout this retrograde period.

And this would all be wonderful news if not for the position held by the Sun at the exact same time: Almost directly opposite the conjunction of the full moon and retrograde Neptune in Pisces. Neptune is the avatar of all our deepest delusions, and with the assistance of the Moon, it provides an almost ineluctable pull across the point where reality melts into fantasy.

This week, Virgo, make absolutely certain that your actions are in line with the objectivity you hold so dear; if you mistake Neptune’s lure for a higher call, you will be dashed upon the rocks of the shore.

Libra, you do everything gradually and then suddenly.

Nowhere is this truer than in your relationships: You’ll spend months — years — putting up with insult and injury, all in the name of keeping peace; you’ll internalize abuse, finding endless fault in yourself while at the very same time slowly building justified resentment towards your tormentor. Then, one day, somebody lights a match and all that resentment catches fire, destroying all within your path…

…Including those who had nothing to do with your torment. In fact, because you allow resentment to build for so long and your eventual outburst can be set off so randomly, people who are innocent of any crime against you are *often* the ones who bear the weight of your punishment, while the guilty barely feel it at all.

This week, as Mercury stations direct while conjunct Mars — calling everyone towards rash action — you feel an additional impetus as Jupiter in Libra begins to oppose retrograde Uranus. This aspect places you in a tricky position: You’ll likely become acutely aware of all the roadblocks standing in the way of your long-term expansion, particularly those you allowed to be placed while you were trying to keep things pacific.

Faced with this awareness, you’ll likely want to barrel through those roadblocks and smash anyone who dares entrap you; but if you follow that instinct at this time, the bill for collateral damage will be so high that it will cancel any gains you make. Instead, you should resist the urge for drastic, revolutionary change and begin to put in the slow, sometime tedious work of extricating yourself from the traps you’ve allowed to be laid without bringing the whole world down around you.

In other words: Resist the urge to explode; dole out the powder from your keg so that you can supervise a clean, controlled demolition later. Libra season, after all, is right around the corner.

Scorpio, let’s talk.

As you may already understand, you can be a touch…Vicious. Even now, I imagine you’re barely suppressing a gleeful cackle in acknowledgment of your own lethality. And up to a point, that’s fine: You represent the final judgement of death, and you wouldn’t be very good at what you do if you didn’t enjoy it to some extent. The problems only start to come in when you cross the line between taking satisfaction in reaping those who are overdue for judgement and enjoying the act for its own sake.

And Scorpio? You do that a *lot*. And while you think you can get away with it indefinitely, even you can get got: Why else do you think Geminis exist?

This week, the Sun in Virgo trines your ruling Pluto, retrograding through Capricorn. As a result, you’ll likely be feeling especially Scorpionic this week, dark matter welling up inside your skull until you feel like you could freeze people in place with the slightest glance and shatter them with the merest flick of your stinger,

But Scorpio? This would be an exceptionally bad time to do that; the Sun also opposes the conjunction of the Full Moon and a retrograde neptune in Pisces, itself trining many of your placements and sextiling your own Pluto. Neptune is the avatar of our deepest delusions and emotional sensitivities, so if you lash out now, it’s likely going to be with fury rare even for you, and you will be exceptionally indiscriminate in your targets. And since Pluto currently answers to a Saturn trining Venus, those targets are likely to include your long-term friends and partners — when you calm down, you’ll weep, for you’ll have no one left to destroy.

Instead, do something you normally loathe: Take a page from Virgo’s book. For all its quirks, Virgo is ultimately a sign that affirms life through slow, steady creation; take all of your dark energy and use it to build something, even if its a killing machine that will later allow you to reap more efficiently.

In other words: Today, resist the temptation to give in to your most destructive impulses; after all, death will always win tomorrow.

Who’s your favorite partner, Sag?

In all likelihood, you have several; even if you’re living in monogamous bliss, you probably have a more than a few people competing for your attention in platonic arenas. It’s just how you are; always in search of some new experience, you get antsy when you’re with any one person for too long. You may cherish that person, but there’s a projector in the back of your head playing a non-stop loop of all the things you imagine you’re missing, and no amount of love will ever shut it off.

That sense of wanderlust may be particularly strong this week, Sag: Your ruling Jupiter continues to float through Libra — sign of all romantic pleasantries — where it begins to oppose retrograde Uranus in Aries. Uranus is the caged bird constantly singing for freedom, a prisoner raging against their bars; its energies mesh perhaps too well with the avatar of relentless self-expansion hanging opposite, and you may begin to see relational prisons where none actually exist.

And none *need* exist, so long as you choose your closest relationships carefully. As Jupiter opposes Uranus, Saturn in Sagittarius begins to trine Venus in Leo; this is a clear indication that it’s time to double down on your commitment to those relationships that most affirm your sense of self-worth — those relationships that offer a world of experience in and of themselves.

So this week, Sag, fight the instinct that there’s something better just over the horizon; explore the riches right in front of you.

Let’s talk about the relationships you’ve built, Capricorn.

Because you have *built* them; keeping with your preference for structure, you’ve started every serious relationship you’ve ever had with a blueprint in mind, one immaculately customized to your needs. You’re not a hands-off architect, either: Once construction begins, you’re onsite every day, making certain that every last detail of your vision is made physical, with no deviation.

But life rarely conforms to your vision and — as much as you may wish otherwise — people are not inert building blocks whose sole purpose is to conform to your tastes. Your friends and partners have their own desires, including many that inevitably contradict yours. You can tolerate this for a while — deluding yourself that they will eventually come around to your way of thinking -but if the gulf between their needs and yours grows even an inch too wide, you would rather tear the whole structure down than accommodate those you supposedly love.

There’s a very real chance that you’ll be tempted to do that this week, as the Sun in Virgo trines a retrograde Pluto in Capricorn; Pluto is the avatar of death and rebirth, the demolition that takes place before construction; it’s one of the only planets that rivals your ruling Saturn for sheer power, so the instinct to give in to its destructive pull may be tempting even for someone of your iron constitution.

Speaking of Saturn, this week it begins to trine Venus in Leo from its perch in Sagittarius; your instinct for control over all things may be especially strong as a result, causing you panic and overreact when your partners act on any proud, Leonine instincts. Meanwhile, the Sun also opposes a retrograde Neptune, avatar of all delusion, adding an unhealthy dose of irrationality towards any major action you take. So, with all of these major energies colliding, what are you to do instead?

Saturn’s long journey through Sagittarius is nearly at an end, Capricorn; for years, it’s been trying to teach you to loosen your steel-willed control of your environment and those within it. So don’t let it down now: This week, listen to the needs of your friends and partners and do what you can to accommodate them; that way, you can build together.

Let’s talk about your sense of discipline, Aquarius.

(You have one, I promise.)

Representing the spirit of freedom itself, you *abhor* discipline, because it inevitably carries a whiff of restriction — the very word itself conjures up images of detention and Catholic school nuns salivating at the chance to rap your knuckles with a ruler. You can’t stand the notion of someone disciplining you, so you refuse to discipline yourself — you’re the kid finishing their homework minutes before class because you spent all night catching Pokemon under the guise of self-care.

And what’s both frustrating and amazing about you is that you can often pull that off; the absolute bullshit that you throw together at the last second can be powerful, even revelatory. So you confound your teachers and slack off in class, ever-confident that your own innate brilliance will always save the day in the end.

But Aquarius?

Saturn doesn’t play like that, Aquarius.

As Saturn stationed direct last week, it began to trine your ruling Uranus in Aries almost immediately after Uranus turned retrograde itself; it will continue to trine your ruler well into the next year. And Saturn is the lord of discipline, a shitty gym coach who boasts that he graduated from the School of Hard Knocks, and expects you to laugh at that joke. There are no last-minute escapes in Saturn’s class — you either run the laps it tells you to, or you wind up running twice as many as punishment.

There’s no way out of this, either, Aquarius; it’s time to take your licks. Luckily, though, this period has an auspicious beginning: As Mercury stations direct, it trines both Saturn and Uranus, forming a Grand Fire Trine before it zips back through Virgo — the sign of incremental gains and precise action.

So this week, focus on your long-term goals and start making the small adjustments to your life that you’ll need in order to accommodate them; because if you don’t do that now, Saturn will wind up embarassing you in front of the whole class.

Alright, first of all: It’s going to be OK.

Second of all: Really.

Early this week, the Moon enters its fullest phase in Pisces, conjuncting a retrograde Neptune late Tuesday night — a marriage between the ruler of all emotion and the ruler of your deepest unease. Then, just as the effects of this conjunction begin to wane, the Moon conjuncts Chiron — the lord of your absolute deepest pain. As if that weren’t enough, the Sun in Virgo opposes Neptune, driving a syringe into the most uneasy aspects of your identity.

(It’s really going to be OK.)

With all this going on, you could be forgiven for building an elaborate blanket fortress and shuttering yourself away from the world until the Moon enters Aries early Thursday. But as tempting as that may be, that exact instinct is the crux of all your anguish right now.

Even in the best of times, you seek retreat from the world around you, preferring to float in your own private ether; but that same isolation is what allows you to get lost in your own delusions and fantasies, ensuring that the inevitable pop of your bubble will only be more jarring and traumatic. The Sun in Virgo is sharpening its needle to do exactly that, and much like an injection of necessary medicine, it’s best not to fight it.

Instead, take this rare opportunity for what it’s worth: Allow yourself the courage to probe the deepest recesses of your fantasies to find the truth they sprang from in the first place. And once you find that truth, bring it forth into the world so it may grow. It’ll be ok.

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