September 16th-22nd: Autumn Harvest

Saturday begins with a conjunction of Mercury and Mars at 13 degrees Leo. These two planets have been dancing around each other over the past few weeks, and last met on September 2nd near the beginning of the Leo constellation. This marked the end of the Mercury retrograde period, and this week Mercury will finally emerge from the "shadow zone", meaning the area it previously covered while in retrograde motion. Let's look at retrograde periods for a minute, as there are three stages to any planetary retrograde: -Retrograde motion: A planet (in this case we'll discuss Mercury) seems to move backwards across the starfield. It will move through the planetary degrees it had previously covered. Mercury "halted" at 17 degrees Leo back on August 12th, and spent the next three weeks moving back to 4 degrees Leo. During this time, we often have to deal with issues from the past or have to repeat our own actions. This time requires patience and a keen eye in order to double-check work, as mistakes or misunderstandings are common.

-Direct motion: When the retrograde period finishes, the planet begins to make its way forward. On September 5th, Mercury began moving forward again at 4 degrees Leo. Since it spent the past three weeks moving back through an area it already covered, it will have to move through this "shadow" for a third time. The retrograde period is effectively over, but we still feel echoic remnants of it during the Shadow Period.

-Shadow Period: The Shadow Period lasts until the planet makes it to the degree point where the retrograde motion cycle began. In this case, Mercury will finally reach a new degree point on Tuesday the 19th, making it to 18 degrees Leo (the retrograde period began at 17 degrees Leo, so this is "new territory" for Mercury, at least since the last time it made it through all the signs and was in Leo). While we are in the Shadow Period, we have a chance to learn the final lesson of the retrograde period. What issues came up for you during this Mercury retrograde? How can you learn and grow from these challenges?

(Of course, planets don't really move backwards. Retrograde motion is an observable illusion that occurs from our vantage point here on Earth. Like any illusion, it carries weight in the psyche and consciousness and so affects life around us to some extent, but is all smoke and mirrors.)

The Mercury and Mars conjunction occurs right before the Shadow Period ends, and so is a powerful impetus to clean up the last remnants of retrograde and move forward fresh. Retrograde periods tend to bring up whatever was left over from the previous retrograde cycle, so they are always easier if we deal with the lessons that come up rather than pushing them under the rug.

On Sunday the 17th, the Sun enters Virgo. This is the "harvest period" and lines up with the coming Autumnal Equinox and New Moon. The New Moon is on Tuesday the 19th and occurs at 3 degrees Virgo (Sun conjunct Moon). This New Moon is truly an offering for fall, which we enter on Friday the 22nd. On New Moons it is beneficial to release, let go and confront that which no longer serves us. The Autumnal Equinox is the meeting of light and darkness, when the day hours are equal to the hours of nighttime. Under the Virgo compass, we may feel a compulsion to organize, tidy and disperse. It is a time for making room for the coming harvest, whether by letting go of possessions and clutter, or by making the necessary life changes to allow room for the new.