Well, September has been a doozy, and October promises more doozy-doing up ahead. For those of us glued to our screens this week, the ghosts of patriarchal bullshits past (don't forget Anita Hill) reared their sniveling heads and wept Pinocchio tears (poor beer-piss baby Brett) all over the book of whatever god they've made their oaths to. If it's a just god, then I don't know him, because there's nothing just in any corner of any institution as far as the eye can see.
Please, prove me wrong. Please, tell me the internment camps aren't being rebuilt in the desert. Please, tell me not one more black American stands the risk of getting shot in their own home by virtue of simply having a home and being a free person inside of it. All the people have, it seems, is each other. Perhaps that's all we've ever had, despite our many political divisions, the attempts to pit us against each other as if our lives are not always linked, as if anyone who has had to quicken their step and grip their keys between closing up shop and their front door is not my sibling.
These are the longest horoscopes I've written in some time, and I wrote them while watching the hearing, reading Dr. Ford's testimony, reading the dissections and responses to a man who was born to be above the law and raised accordingly. These horoscopes speak deeply to the Venus Retrograde which has fallen over us and affects each sign differently, if not significantly. Venus Rx is personal, and it will bring about old relationship issues; relationships between you and lovers, you and family, you and your notion of self. But, it is also in Scorpio, where Jupiter now resides, where Mercury the informant is placed this month, making its political implications known. Scorpio is a sign ruled by Mars (god of war) and by Pluto, a planet that stays in the business of pulling back the curtain to reveal the bones of a bad production. Pluto has gone direct this month in Capricorn, and it means to settle the score.
Everything feels new, but how can you keep yourself from sliding into old patterns? If everything is new, are you approaching everything in a new way? Change is a big word full of small steps, daily rituals, a collection of accountabilities. The full moon in Aries called you in to gaze upon the table you’d set for yourself and ascertain where, despite your abundance, you still felt hunger and lack. It’s easy enough to experience disappointment. To say, with a kind of certainty, that there are aspects of your life which no longer sustain you. It’s harder to figure out what does feed you and offers you life source; it’s harder to move toward that and away from the familiarity of pain.
In her writings, Agnes Martin (Aries) explained:
You will see that yearning is defiant and rebellious and, also, it exhausts itself which proves that it is unreal. We must give up the idea of salvation. You cannot be saved and the rest left. You must want joy for all not just for yourself. The exact same joy, want it whole-heartedly for all. To want joy for yourself is unreal, off the track and untrue. It is just as unreal to think you give joy to others. Each has its own joy. Joy is life. You cannot give life. You can want them to have it, that is as much as you can do.
What would it mean to accept that the forces posed against so many of us, and our ability to witness and care for each other, poison the wells our relationships drink from? With Mars, your ruling planet, in Aquarius, you might feel a call toward collective repair. How can you channel your rage, your personal pain, your ancestral grief, out away from shallow pools where self-pity gathers and toward the ocean of political dissent which threads so many aspects of your life?
It’s not easy living a proud life, no matter what kind of self-sufficient, sturdy, veneer you build in front of every rockslide. Truth is, these days, like most days, we need each other. Which is not to say that you won’t make it on your own or that, with enough willpower and seclusion, you won’t somehow push through to the other side of whatever level of stagnant hell this is. You will. And, if you want, you can go in alone like you’ve gotten used to doing (yes, even when surrounded by people with whom you never let yourself be vulnerable). It’s just that you don’t have to, and I don’t think you want to anymore.
Life hands us these lessons: the power of endurance, a kind of honor in having suffered so long it becomes a low-grade white noise at the core of our being, the ability to have people love you and care for you and never feel burdened by you is the mark of a good friend and strong leader.
But, what do we owe the people we love? Our faith in their ability to love us through our worst moments?
People circulate that old Adrienne Rich line, the one that claims, “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.” This Venus Retrograde, I want you to know the rest of it. Originally published in Sources (1983), she wrote:
That's why I want to speak to you now.
To say: no person, trying to take responsibility for her or his identity, should have to be so alone. There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors. (I make up this strange, angry packet for you, threaded with love.)
I think you thought there was no such place for you, and perhaps there was none then, and perhaps there is none now; but we will have to make it, we who want an end to suffering, who want to change the laws of history, if we are not to give ourselves away.
I want to begin with a simple fact and move outward. To say to you, with certainty, that everything you feel is true. If today, you are sitting by a window reading this, and you feel alien in your body and alien in your environment, then there is something in you searching for belonging. You don’t have to prove that belonging is an attainable feeling so that you may yearn for it. Your yearning is in and of itself valid, it is a feeling both singular to your spirit and shared with your generation. If you are physically exhausted, if there is pain weaving through your soft tissues and gathering around your bones, that pain is actual. Even if it is born out of trauma, grief, depression, and diseases that disproportionately affect women who survive this rape culture. If you are angry at someone you love for not loving you the way you hunger to be loved, then anger is a true indicator of your hunger.
To say that what you feel is true is to live into it. To allow yourself the full spectrum of your humanness, so that you might know when it is time to leave the room, to feed yourself, to cut off the dead vines, and acknowledge that even you have limits. What happens after that is anybody’s guess, because your truth will never negate the truth of others, nor will it ever mirror it. That is why, despite our best intentions, we reconstruct memories. We were raised to compromise on the past because our separateness disallows our ability to confirm it.
This month, with Venus Retrograde in your sixth house and Mercury in Scorpio, you might want to spend your time getting to the bottom of emotionally murky situations in an effort to feel securely in place. Instead, it will be worth your time to assess the places within your body where you store your feelings. Trace the network of your nerves, your energy, your anxieties and ambitions. Pin the places where you’ve used the truths of others to harm yourself with isolation and self-doubt. The map is real with real implications, but you are the cartographer, and geographies can change.
The work that you are doing matters. Even if you are your only witness. Even if, after a day of researching until language stops making sense, or running errand after errand so that those that depend on you have everything they need, you feel as if you have nothing to show for yourself. Hear this, you have something to show for yourself. You do, because you are here and because being here is enough.
What is this talk of evidence anyway and to whom must we prove our worth and our validity and toward what ultimate conclusion? There is no checklist, no dinner table where the pudding can be set and the proof buried within. No matter how it might seem, our peers only glance at the trajectory of our lives, rarely knowing what actions and negotiations form our days into solid matter. Those whose lives are not contractually tied to our own are rarely concerned with our work beyond the scope of how it intersects with their own lived realities. It is good to remember that on days when you are tempted to compare trajectories and be unkind to yourself.
Our parents and partners are a different matter, each in their own way worried about the interplay between codependence and interdependence. Between what fosters love and what fosters resentment. It is important to acknowledge your debts and work toward repaying them, but you can’t structure your life by what you fear you owe others, and nobody who loves you wants that for you anyway. Ultimately, we stand the risk of being our own cruelest loan sharks, charging ourselves untenably high rates when we fail to meet our own impossible expectations. Expectations, I might add, that are often born of a culture that subsists off the invisible labor of poor women, especially women of color, while simultaneously devaluing that labor. This month, Cancer, begin the work of celebrating your accomplishments by re-imagining a value system for yourself that takes all your life’s visible and invisible labors into account.
For many of us, family is the first thing we know, our first understanding of collective responsibility, of (wanting and expecting) unconditional love and support, of learning how to communicate our needs, joys, and disappointments. Family is a framework gifted to us upon birth, and even the ones of us who are raised outside the bounds of traditional familial structures, hold ourselves to that framework—examining absences and erasures for clues about attachment styles and coping mechanisms. This inheritance, despite being measured by DNA tests, marital contracts, and the nods of public institutions, rarely exists in the public eye. How families function, how they sustain us, how they destroy us, and how they are destroyed by us in turn is often done in the privacy of our homes, where the only witnesses are the ones too close to understand where the fabric has been secured and where it’s slipped and fallen from the frame.
This month, Venus Retrograde will be affecting your fourth house and the sun will be transitioning into Scorpio where Venus Rx is positioned. Your fourth house is the house of family and home, and Scorpio is the sign of transformation, of emotional foundations, and of spiritual veils and the unconscious. What’s coming up now wants to give you information about your self-beliefs and ability to relate to others, how these parts of your conscious and unconscious were established and how they are maintained. If there are parts of yourself you’ve buried for fear of what they might reveal about you—these parts will closer to the surface, aching to be tended to and loved unconditionally. What’s coming up now is a re-forming of your position within the family framework, a reforming which grants you agency and the ability to step back and see where the fabric is taught and where it is ruptured. This month ahead might be challenging for you, Leo. In many ways, it will demand that you re-evaluate your relationship and responsibility to the people who you call family.
The pain and discord of old wounds re-opening is an opportunity, Leo, to do one of two things: (1) Inhabit your vulnerability as an offering of trust which is also an offering of love and ask for repair directly or (2) Make a concentrated and committed effort to tend to those wounds on your own in ways that are restorative and holistically (incrementally) effective. Ostensibly, making a commitment to care for yourself in real ways so that you might have a more intimate sense of what kind of care you can receive and offer to others. In a perfect world, you would do both. If you do both, the world might adjust around you accordingly.
Sometimes, in the art world, in the literary world, even in the world of experiments and labs, we talk about what we create as our children. “This was so-and-so’s brainchild,” we claim. Or: “This baby is finally ready to be out in the world.” Surely, there are flesh-and-blood baby-making people who might find the comparison preposterous, yet it’s easy to slip into the habit of speaking of our creations as animate things that were born of us. Generating something new takes time, gestation, anxiety, hope bordering on delusion. Believing that it is worth your effort and that you are the best person for the job (to tell the story, to usher in the cure, to institute an institution shit) can feel impossible in a culture that wants many of us to doubt our power and our purpose—especially if what we create is not in line with the values of a capitalist system.
Given this level of emotional, spiritual, and physical commitment, the projects we devote ourselves to can be a kind of offspring. And, if that is the case, then it’s time you and I talk about your relationship to what you put into the world and how you talk about it. Venus Retrograde stations in your house of communication this month, and it would be valuable for you to examine how you communicate your projects and your purpose.
In what ways do you use language to diminish yourself in relation to the work you do? What happens to your brain-children when you make yourself small? When you sign on to creative ventures that are not intrinsically your own, do you do it out of a passionate desire to help raise the brain-children of your peers? When you are called to the table, do you come with an offering that is authentic to you, or do you come with an offering you assume is wanted of you? Taking on projects that feel disingenuous to your core mission will make you a resentful guardian. When you invest your time, energy, and presence in work that is meaningful to you, that work falls in line with your integral sense of self. When you trust that your gifts are necessary and your authentic self is of value, you are empowered to be the creative and inventive person you so deeply feel yourself to be.
You’ve worked hard to get where you are, Libra. The people who meet you now would hardly recognize the person you were 10 years ago, the many ways you sought to stand in your own way, the love you weaponized against yourself, the harm that was done to you which you repeated as a form reckoning. The people you meet now might not recognize that girl, her wayward hungry ghost spirit, but you recognize her. You see her in the people you draw toward yourself and the people you are called to walk beside in this life. You see her often because she belongs with you even if you think you have outgrown her. The wayward spirits that come to you bearing her energy are drawn to you the way some of us are drawn to visions of a future, a possibility we were taught was denied to us.
It is true that a healer’s job is to heal, and those of us in the business of healing others know that our own healing is never done. It is also true that the work we do in the world is not confined to the places where we sign contracts or exchange money. That kind of work is notable because it’s legible and, therefore, recorded, but it’s our hardly our human lot. Intrinsically, you know this, because you are a weaver. People come into your life like threads on a loom, and you welcome them into the larger picture. But, it is human to want to forget the pain and where it came from, to imagine there is any path on this human plane that does not depend on the placement and paths of others. But, the truth is, that just isn’t so.
This month begins with a new moon in Libra on the 8th, and a Venus (your ruling planet) Retrograde in Scorpio looms over your second house, the house of possessions, materiality, sensual presence, and foundation building. You will be challenged to think about the ways you allow yourself to feel secure and what security means in an era when every governing institution is facing a deep reckoning. If security is not our possessions, if it is not our labor, is it our relationships? And, how can we task our relationships with being our source of security when they are relationships woven in a landscape which threatens violence, rupture, and disavowal at every turn?
Welcome, dear Scorpio, to the emotional circus, please take your seat. Behold the trapeze act of the present moment, Venus Retrograde in your sign, where the past and present swing toward each other in a feat of performative grace, glittering, grabbing limbs extended, swinging to and from each other. What is the point of hope, you may wonder, of risking your heart on something new? It’s always the same. The new thing steps out onto the platform and grabs the old handle that takes it the dangerous way toward a quick ending or the grip of old patterns that return no matter how many therapy sessions you pay for. Our hearts, a microcosm of an international climate, where no one is ever held accountable for the harm they do to others. Where even those of us who stand ready to take responsibility have nowhere to take it to.
That trapeze act continues throughout the whole show of October, even as the light swings down onto Mercury in Scorpio, a clown car emptying out an obscene amount of bodies, colorful humans running in circles communicating the spectrum of human emotions plus the added note of a monkey on a tricycle. The ring widens with the span of their performance, and the line between human gesture and existential farce thins considerably. More and more it feels like the obscured thing is a void—a lack of meaning. Is it possible to be of purpose in a world like this?
Have you even noticed the elephant at the center of the tent, right there in the middle, so slow he appears statuesque? An animal already ancient by the nature of his disposition, Pluto emits a presence that is all-consuming and so powerful, it falls over the mind like a shadow recedes. Now you see it, Scorpio, now you don’t. In the movie of your life, here we come to the apex, the moment when everything on the ground coalesces in the eye of the viewer and becomes the viewer’s eye. What you have is the ability to perceive corruption and falsity. You have always had it. What we know about elephants and circuses and human cruelty is that no wild animal is guaranteed freedom in this world. But you are not a wild animal and neither are you the world that demands a circus. In the narrow space between production and captivity, faith is fuel for the imagination and an open door. Don’t close that door on yourself, don’t give in and let yourself believe that this emotional circus is the only world you get to have.
The 12th house has a big reputation. It’s known for revealing and reveling in the hidden aspects of one’s character. It rules large animals and secrets (which, large animals kind of are). It’s a house that relies on your instincts and intuition, it’s a house that gives special power to dream state—the kind of gauzy mansion that seems to be in every early-'90s music video from Meatloaf to Celine Dion. “I would do anything for love,” that house sings, then pauses instinctually and without explanation, “but I won’t do that.”
This October, Venus Rx falls on your 12th house and has been shadowing the general terrain for a couple of weeks now. Unsurprisingly, this kind of influence is two-fold. Dreams, ambitions, intuitions can ultimately become a source of power. In a world that seems doomed to collapse in on itself every other day, the ability to envision a future can feel like a blessing. That is, unless those visions are anything but soothing. Herein the conundrum lies, a conundrum that leads us to consider the formation of the unconscious. How do you, Sagittarius, feel in the places within you where wild states take every opportunity to pull your head underwater? How does your intuition give you power and how does it affect your sense of agency, convincing you that what you fear is inevitable?
When the unconscious is so near the surface, when the harder aspects of your nature, which you work hard to submerge, surface on their own accord and wreak havoc, all you can do is claim them. These large animals, these secrets, these stories and hauntings you wish you could control won’t be controlled because they are a part of you. They’ve waited a long time to give you important information, and they won’t quiet down until you acknowledge them and listen.
What the body forgets—a cut or bruise—the heart remembers. What you hope fades with time, an ache that informs your sense of self, is a pain that can last a long time in the heart. You know this because you are observant, because you collect your own stories daily up off the floor and arrange them back into neat rows that fit a train of logic that suits you. Still, one can observe with sympathy and without it. In fact, there is a different kind of observation, one I’m sure you’re familiar with. The kind that demands a person in pain move through world imperceptible in their suffering, and in this way dignified, or deliver proof of their victimhood as if for the voyeuristic pleasure of the viewer. This kind of observation presents itself as a thinly veiled threat, an accompaniment built around the notion of constant intimate surveillance and the need to legitimize the right to live.
I wonder, Capricorn, if there is a way for you to divorce yourself from this kind of observation. Especially when you turn it, most critically and cruelly, onto yourself.
Expectations are a tricky thing, they were probably invented by a coyote, or a sphinx, or a genie that just wanted to get free of his golden lamp. When we have no expectations of ourselves or of our loved ones, we are limiting our capacity to trust them, to trust in ourselves, and to receive love. Yet, when we build our expectations to impossible heights, when we don’t communicate our needs and expect them to be met, when we imagine ourselves the protagonists in everyone’s lives instead of just our own—we run the risk of pushing those we love farther away when we mean to pull them close and uphold their best selves. This month, with Venus Rx in your house of friendship and collective mind, I challenge you to examine the tools you’ve developed for nurturing your most meaningful connections. Are there ways for you to sharpen the arrow of your intentions? Are the ways in which your needs can better learn to be met in accordance with the needs of your community? Can you observe yourself, as you are now, with compassion stripped of defensiveness and invite others to do the same?
On this day when many women are sleepless in the purgatory that makes up the core of this nation which calls itself "united," I’m thinking about what we get to have in this life and for how long. We are always changing, it’s true, and certain lived experiences will make us change quicker and more suddenly. The death of a loved one, the loss of a dream, an environmental shift. Otherwise, whether we know it or not, the change that occurs to us is incremental and always already happening—like a stone that was obscured by high tide peeking out and out until there it is—plain as day and hard as fact. Trauma resurfaces in this way too, surprising us with what we thought we understood ourselves, as if one fell asleep in their car and woke to find a ghost at the wheel.
There’s the poem called “You Can’t Have It All” by Barbara Ras that goes:
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs, / so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind, / glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness, / never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you / all roads narrow at the border.
It’s a poem about noticing, and it could be a gratitude list, but I don’t think Barbara Ras is interested in gratitude. I think there is a kind of grief and solemn prayer in acknowledging what happens to beauty; how either it’s mistaken for what is ordinary or it’s mistaken for something everlasting. Beauty on this Earth is sacred, but it is also mortal. Like all mortal things, it is designed to leave us. This month, while Uranus (god of transformation) remains Rx in Taurus and even as Mars (god of war) shines his red-hot light of action over your stars, take time to notice what you get to have in this world, today, tomorrow, the day after that. Compare what is given to you to what you think you’ve earned the right to keep. Imagine a sacred order that teaches us how to love beauty for the way it leaves us. What are the teachings of such an order worth to you?
You might have heard the phrase “Knowledge is Power” before. Perhaps you saw it on an old library poster and thought about that NBC public service broadcast that shot a star rainbow across space with the words “The More You Know.” These visual inscriptions have stayed with many of us and, as fashion re-circulates old aesthetic gestures in the form kitsch, it’s worth noting that we—the consumers—know exactly what is being sold to us at exactly what kind of bad quality. We consume the gesture because we convince ourselves we are self-aware enough to be in on the joke. We imagine ourselves producers, not sentimental but camp.
The phrase “knowledge is power” is not a '90s phrase at all, in case you didn’t know, dear producer. It’s a term found in ancient books, Persian and Latin, a term that has a strong presence on the page. But, lifted into this contemporary moment, the phrase begins to disintegrate. In a world where information is multitudinous and simultaneous, a world where we are flooded with data at every turn, where visual culture is endlessly self-referential and almost never fully reflective of the actual time in which it exists, knowing because a fraught place—a place where we can cultivate a reflexive weakness and an affinity with disinformation.
Why am I telling you all this? Stuffing your heads full of facts, full of knowledge you don’t necessarily need? Only this, Pisces. In a world where information is a landslide, but truth is the form that land once took—now unrecognizable and unrecorded—it is not enough to look for clues in the world around you for how a person should be. The information you are given, the visual cues, the maps, they won’t serve you. Nothing you learn out there will make you feel powerful. True power can’t rely on fear or manipulation and true love can’t either. In a world where truth can’t exist, learn to be the truth. Align your values with your actions and find out what that teaches you about self-worth.