Today is Samhain, often called the Witches’ New Year. It is the final harvest sabbat, one of the ancient Celtic cross-quarter days marking the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. Although the exact midpoint is no longer on October 31—this year it falls closer to November 7—many witches still observe the traditional date as a sacred time in the Wheel of the Year. It is an in-between period as the nights are growing longer, the trees are surrendering their leaves, and the last fruits of many crops are gathered.
It is also a time when we honor our beloved dead, those who have passed back into the great cycles of decomposition and regeneration.
We are always moving with the dead.
Go for a walk, and every place your foot falls is full of those who have come before.
We can know this, even as we also know that death is a great mystery. In some sense, there is no death, only life, the endless transformation of states. And yet we also know loss, we are broken apart by grief, losing some parts of who we were when we lose those we love.
As the nights continue to grow longer, we descend into this realm of darkness, this mystery, this blackness of all that came before and all that is yet to come and all that we cannot perceive in excess of the visible and the present.
This is a time for surrendering certainty, for sitting with deep questions without answers, for feeling our way into the dark.
If you feel so moved, you might create an altar to your ancestors—of blood, of path, of possibility—the ancestors of the land, the more-than-human ancestors reaching across deep time.
You might think of this time as a moment in the spiral of time inflected with ending/beginning, letting go of what is no longer needed and opening to what you don’t yet know that you need.
I hope you are staying warm, soft, and slow. Those are some of the spells I am casting today.
Mars stations retrograde on October 30 and will be retrograde until January 12. This retrograde cycle is at the heart of Mars’ extended journey through the sign of Gemini from August 20, 2022-March 25, 2023. As Mars moves retrograde, we may need to revisit and reconsider points of contention or conflict, both in our own thinking as well as in our conversations or connections with others.
Black feminist activist and scholar Angela Davis—who has Mars in Gemini in her natal chart—writes in an essay entitled “Difficult Dialogues”:
“We fight the same battles over and over again. They are never won for eternity, but in the process of struggling together, in community, we learn how to glimpse new possibilities that otherwise never would have become apparent to us, and in the process we expand and enlarge our very notion of freedom.”
This feels like valuable wisdom to bring into this Mars retrograde cycle in Gemini: the battles in which we are engaged are never won for eternity. We fight them again and again, and in doing so, as we engage in these struggles with one another, we learn how to glimpse new possibilities that we would perhaps never have known if we had avoided the conflict or turned away from the fight.
If during this period of the year you find yourself revisiting and rehashing conflict—particularly around the topics of the house that Gemini occupies in your chart—consider that rather than struggling to win or to be right, a possible goal for engaging in such conflict can be to come to recognize what we could not recognize in any other way. What are you learning about yourself, one another, the situation, or the world in which we live because of this clash of perspectives? What is becoming more possible because of revisiting and reviewing this conflict again and again? And how might these lessons expand or enlarge your very notion of what it means to be free?
On October 25, there will be a Solar Eclipse at 2º Scorpio.
Eclipses bring the kind of change that comes from an interruption of expected patterns, sometimes interruptions that come from witnessing the shadow of something we have not previously been ready or able to see. Every solar eclipse is part of a Saros Series, a family of eclipses that gradually spiral from one pole of the planet to the another over the course of hundreds of years. This eclipse is part of Saros Series 6 South, which began on March 6, 1049. At the origin of the series to which this eclipse belongs, the Sun and Moon were conjunct Venus in Pisces—where Venus is exalted—suggesting that eclipses in this series may bring some kind of dramatic new developments or disruptions related to love, desire, pleasure, or artistic pursuits. At the same time, Mars in Leo was opposing Pluto in Aquarius, which can describe conflict or struggles with power or those in authority, challenging the misuses or abuses of power that we are witnessing.
At the time of this eclipse on October 25, the Sun and Moon will once again be conjunct Venus, now in Scorpio where Venus is in detriment. This concentrates the Venusian themes of love and relationships, perhaps coming to major turning points once we acknowledge ways we feel under-resourced or deficient in our loving connections, perhaps requiring going deep into areas that might feel uncomfortable or difficult to face. There may be challenging power dynamics that we have to confront in order to truly love in the ways that we need. This eclipse is likely to be most personal for folks who have visible planets at 2º Scorpio, and we may also see events related to these themes reverberating throughout public life.
Altogether, I am reminded of several quotes from bell hooks:
“Trust is the foundation of intimacy. When lies erode trust, genuine connection cannot take place.”
“To be loving we willingly hear each other’s truth and, most important, we affirm the value of truth telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.”
“Love can never take root in a relationship based on domination and coercion … there can be no love when there is domination.”
Whether you experience this eclipse in a deeply personal way or not, I hope it reminds all of us to examine how we are loving—affirming truth and trust, refusing domination and coercion, in all of our relationships.