The Sun enters the third decan of Virgo on September 12th, and rises in that decan the first time this year on Wednesday the 13th.
Journeying through this face, we are led down into a cave, its walls covered with half-eroded drawings. It is a ritual place, and on a stone slab is laid a desiccated, mummified body. Broken and whole objects surround this figure, jars, obscure statuettes – some to aid them in their journey into the next world, others a testament to their time here on earth. It is a place of remembrance, but also a gateway, a portal between life and what-follows.
After a bit, the ghost of the dead one sits up, their spectral form separating from their physical body, and looks out at the walls of the burial chamber. As the phantom gazes, the paintings come alive with retrospective scenes of life. Laughing children play, lovers entwin and quarrel, and the fierce eyes of rivals flash. You’re reminded of the scene Pamela Coleman Smith painted for the 10 of Pentacles.
This decan of Virgo is thus a chamber of endings, consequences and legacies. This third and last face of the Virgin leads up to the equinox, and thus concludes a season, a quarter of the year. The focus on outcomes and legacies is in part a function of this. There is a looking backward at the months which comprised the quarter, what happened within them, which was achieved and endured, as well as what mistakes were made. This being the time, in agricultural terms, that the final harvest for the year is reaped, lends additional weight.
So let us enter this place, dry with dust but thick with ghosts, to reflect on the season passing away. The more accurately we feel it, the more accurately we will be see the oncoming future it has laid the ground for. Causation is a line, a long snake which twists and entwines with others, but rarely ends. If we can find that thread, we can follow it up to the present moment and beyond.
Our guide down these tunnels is none other Mercury as psychopomp. He is the ghost of Christmas past, present and future, and also wears the name and face of dog-headed Anubis. This decan is ruled by Mercury, making it one of the few cases where the ruler of the sign and the ruler of the decan are one in the same.
If we look to Mercury, we find the planet in the process of climbing out of the hole it dug during its retrograde. Though Mercury stationed direct on September the 5th, the planet is still slow, having not yet regained its normal speed. Additionally, our guide does not clear the degrees it retrograded through — its shadow period — until the New Moon in Virgo on the 19th. Furthermore, there is the matter of Mercury’s conjunction with Mars, the third and final one this season, which occurs on September 16th at 7 Virgo, the first having occurred on June 28th, and the second on September 3rd. Finally, there is the matter of Mercury’s opposition with Neptune, which is the same aspect the tricky planet’s most recent retrograde began under.
Mercury Conjunct Mars: Sharp Tongues
Mercury-Mars conjunctions see the messenger lend his/her technical expertise and communications network to the rancorous red planet. The first conjunction in late June coincided with the massive Ukrainian cyber attack, which may be the most literal possible outcome for a conjunction of Mercury (communications, technology) and Mars (attacks). The second conjunction, which occurred on September 3rd, coincided with North Korea’s landmark detonation of an improved nuclear weapon, followed immediately by open military threats from the United States. Heated communications, indeed. What mundane events the third Mercury-Mars conjunction brings remains to be seen, although the theming so far has been archetypally literal.
On a personal level, Mercury-Mars conjunctions often sneak an angry edge into communications, and oversee periods of irritability and impatience. Nonetheless, Mars’ ferocity can also be channeled into tremendous productivity. If you’ve fallen behind on your to-do list, it would be wise to time a sprint during the days leading up to and immediately following the Mercury-Mars conjunction, as the configurations which follow are more contemplative than active.
Mercury Opposite Neptune: Dream Analysis
After the conjunction with Mars, Mercury will move on to complete the other piece of unfinished business— the opposition with Neptune in Pisces. Mercury stationed retrograde opposite Neptune back on August 12th, and finally makes it back to the same point on September 19th, which is also the day of the New Moon at 27 Virgo. As I wrote of the opposition of Mercury in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces back in August:
“Mercury is ever the clarifier, and plays that role to the hilt within Virgo, the sign which it both rules and is said to be exalted within. Neptune, on the other hand, is infamous for muddying the waters and blurring the edges, making distinctions hard to draw. Like Mercury, Neptune is also in a sign which lends it exceptional strength — Pisces. This suggests that this part of Mercury’s cycle has a particular emphasis on clarifying the various illusions, half-truths and visions which emanate from Neptune.”
Thus, coming back to this contest a month after it began, we should see the outcome of Mercury’s month-long attempt to cut through Neptune’s fog, as well as the emergence of the reconciliations between the opposed realms of logic and fantasy, accounting and imagination.
The New Moon in Virgo: Reverie
The Mercury-Neptune opposition sets the tone for the New Moon in Virgo, which occurs on the same day. The New Moon, which takes place in the third decan of Virgo, leads us into that face’s chamber of remembrance and consequence, and invites us to lay down on the stone slab to think and dream.
It is a place to consider legacies and consequences — what people’s actions leave for those who follow in their wake. It is also a retrospective point on the season now passing away, to consider which fruit ripened and which soured. This lunation might also be turned to matters buried deeper in the past, as the third decan of Virgo, being intimately concerned with the relationship between life and death, is suitable for eulogies, remembrances, ancestor work, and practices such as Castenada’s “Using death as an advisor” or Buddhist maraṇasati death-mindfulness visualization.