Guernica, by Picasso

Astrology of October 2020

Alex Stein


Today, October 13th, Mercury turns retrograde in Scorpio, opposing Uranus. On October 16th, there will be a New Moon in Libra. The New Moon will form a powerful T-Square to Saturn, Pluto, Jupiter, and Mars. Mars is still retrograde.

The longterm Saturn-Pluto-Jupiter triple conjunction in Capricorn is the keynote of the time, so anything we might say about Mercury, Mars, or the lunar cycle must refer back to it. We are living in an apocalypse, meaning a time of uncovering. Old structures are being demolished, the body of humanity itself is covered in boils, while literal and metaphorical bodies are piling up.

I am not going to do an astrological breakdown of the news. I follow just enough news to not be ignorant, and I peep at it through my fingers, as I would a horror movie.

I am interested, however, in how the outer world mirrors the inner world and vice versa. Most people, if they think about it, would probably agree that whatever humans do to each other, or to the planet, stems from our psychology. Our hidden desires, fears, traumas, and the images at their center, blossom into the actual events of life. But it also works in the other direction. Psyche is not limited to humans. The world itself has a soul, with its own dreams and desires. In many ways, our inner lives (and the outer events they precipitate) reflect the movements of the the soul of the world. The movements of the world soul, or anima mundi, can be read in the movements of the planets. That is what astrology is. It provides us a key to witnessing the never-ending dance of inner and outer, above and below.

All month, I’ve been meditating on this idea that the world is a mirror for our psyches, and conversely, the idea that we are a mirror for the world’s psyche. Mirroring is Libra material, so it relates to the upcoming New Moon. The insight that a single perspective alone is not sufficient, that at some level we must seek the truth of ourselves in the reflection of others, is one of Libra’s great gifts. By “others”, I would include other individuals, groups, and even plants, animals, spirits, and the world itself. We might even learn to relate to our own psyche as to another being. Libra, whose goal is balance and harmony, notes points of discord and imbalance between perspectives, working to restore balance and resolve tension. Sometimes, however, that tension must be raised to the highest possible pitch before it will resolve. With this New Moon making a tense T-square to the tough and sometimes brutal planets Mars, Saturn, and Pluto, this is one of those times where Libran charm takes a back seat to the more intense process of holding an unbearable amount of tension until balance emerges by grace alone.

The combination of Mars, Saturn, and Pluto creates what astrologer Austin Coppock calls a “meat grinder”. The depth and compulsion of Pluto combines with the control and resistance of Saturn, and the sharpness and forcefulness of Mars. Trying situations and intense confrontations arise, along with all of the emotions that attend them. Mars is now retrograde, as well. During Mars retrograde, we are invited to follow a martial trail of breadcrumbs into our psyche. Here we find the deeper roots of our anger, our rage, or of our desire. It does not mean we cannot take directed action, Mars’ usual specialty. But it does mean that any action we might take, or any anger we might express, is likely to reveal something of our inner world to us. The retrograde is an invitation to follow whatever beckons. This is underlined by Mars’ square to Pluto (which can stir up repressed emotions and drives, leading to brutal shows of force), to Saturn (which frustrates Mars through resistance), and to Jupiter (which can fan the flames and put a nice dollop of ego atop the devil’s sundae). The T-Square alignment of this New Moon promises to flip the “on” switch to this “meat grinder”. Let’s hang onto the Libran notion that the world is a mirror and therefore, the most constructive thing we can do is attend to our own process. Through this understanding we might restore balance. We might even ask ourselves, “how has my attitude been imbalanced? How does my idea of myself conflict with the reality of myself?” Pay attention to dreams and synchronicities. The imbalances are likely to show in the rough terrain of Saturn-Pluto-Mars — issues of fear, control, anger, etc.

Against this backdrop, Mercury is turning retrograde in Scorpio, a sign ruled by both Pluto and Mars. Scorpio represents the emotional, psychological dimension of Mars, asking us to develop the courage to descend into the underworld (Pluto). Though Mars is in Aries, its other, more extroverted sign, the retrograde and aspect to Pluto are begging us to look within, and to transform our relationship to all things Mars. Mercury’s retrograde in Scorpio helps by turning the collective mind around and sending it down dark psychological alleys. The real point of Mercury retrograde is not to mess with your computer, or the mail. It is to set your mind to reviewing, digesting, and renewing. It wants to shake up your perspective. Mercury will also oppose Uranus, which can make for some bigger than average snafus, but can also deliver sudden and shocking insights — insights, perhaps, of a deep, psychological nature. Mercury-Uranus can symbolize a revolution in thought, a quantum-leap in perspective.

Here’s a perspective: much of the pain of humanity is not personal. Of course, many people are suffering directly from disease, oppression, poverty, racism, sexism, and more. But that suffering is an expression of the psychic scars of human life, reaching down the ages. The inquisition, the holocaust, the slave trade, witch hunts, atrocities committed by normal 19-year-olds in Vietnam — such things are deeply inscribed on the psyche of all humanity. And those are just a few that come to mind. Who knows what horrors lurk in the memory of our species? They even reach back to the experience of our animal ancestors. When we feel rage or fear today, we are probably not aware just how deep its roots go. Armed with the insights that the world is a mirror and that our psychic currents, both personal and collective, run deep, we may not only better navigate these high seas, but experience undreamt-of healing.

One other aspect of note: Venus, the ruler of Libra, will oppose Neptune a couple of days after the New Moon. With the planet of love and beauty opposing the planet of dreams, transcendence and delusion, there will be plenty of room for us to drift off into la-la-land — to evade the hard inner work demanded by the other planets. If we can hold on tight, grit our teeth, and look our demons directly in the eye without blinking, this aspect can offer the potential to experience transcendent beauty and love. Art and music can be powerful catalysts to our process of transformation and healing at this time — especially art that speaks directly to the hard archetypal energies present, like Picasso’s Guernica, or Holst’s Mars from the orchestral suite, The Planets. This aspect might also test our capacity for compassion. Can we keep our hearts open, even as we move through the meat grinder? Can we do so honestly, without superficiality or an evasive “flight into the light”?

Never was there a better time to get to the roots of what is going on in the collective psyche. Personally, this lineup will most directly affect people with important planets and points in the late degrees of the cardinal signs, Capricorn, Cancer, Aries, and Libra, but it is still present for all of us.

Gaze into the mirror — what do you see?