September 2016: Ontological Threshing

September 2016: Ontological Threshing

September holds a number of interesting configurations.  Together, they should serve to bring many of this year’s themes to completion.  The month is straddled by two eclipses.  The first is an annular solar eclipse in Virgo on September 1st.  The second is a penumbral lunar eclipse in Pisces on the 16th.  While the eclipse gates open, Mercury retrogrades through Virgo.  Mercury’s backward action encompasses the first three weeks of the month, as he does not resume direction motion until the 21st.

Between the eclipses and while Mercury is retrograde, Jupiter changes signs, entering tropical Libra, in which he will remain for the coming year.  A few days later, Saturn and Neptune complete their final square, finishing a series which has defined much of the year.  Later in the month, once Mercury is direct and the eclipses have had their say, Mars finally leaves Sagittarius, bringing an end to the red planet’s extended stay in the Archer’s sign this year.  It is a month where changes delayed or misunderstood will strive toward completion. All the while, the outlines of the next phase wobble into view.

All in all, September is set to give our personal and collective realities a good threshing.  What is and is not real?  Where does the line fall, and is it a line at all?  Though it might feel like a beating, threshing serves a point beyond malice.  It separates the wheat from the chafe, fact from fantasy, the subtle from the gross.

As Nietzsche pointed out in regards to morality, our ideas about reality must be attacked if they are to remain fit.  Though often dismissed as the masturbatory luxury of philosophy professors, the subject of ontology- what is real- is a layer of and factor in everyone’s life.   You carry an idea and image of reality within you everywhere you go.  It frames your actions and your ideas, your very idea of who you are.  It is woven into your identity and every story you tell and interpret.  It matters.

Yet few go to the trouble of customizing this vital construct.  Most inherit it, absorb it from their environment.  If this arrangement of facts and ideas is not sufficiently threshed, it becomes a prison, or worse- an uncomfortable and ill-fitting suit we can’t take off.   To take responsibility for assembling your own map and compass is what it means to become a philosopher, a magician, a sage.  This philosopher slumbers within all of us, like sleeping beauty, waiting to be awakened by our embrace.

Data Vortex

Mercury will be retrograde in tropical Virgo for the majority of September.  The sly planet stations on the 30th of August, and is retrograde as September begins.  The inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun, the midpoint and greatest depth of the retrograde, occurs on September 12th.  Mercury finally resumes forward movement again on the 21st.

Mercury retrograde periods are strongly correlated with communication, travel and technology issues.  The highways close, and lead us down strange detours.  Though all Mercury retrogrades has this in common, each opens up a particular set of back roads.  As I wrote previously, this retrograde journey is likely to lead to odd data centers and repositories of burnt books.

“All Mercury retrogrades have a cthnonian, or underworldly, quality. We explore the hidden, the forgotten, the buried and neglected.  Yet the underworld is vast, for more so than the waking one.  The dead will always outnumber the living.  So each of our triannual trips facilitate a journey to one of the underworld’s many diverse locations.  This one will take us deep into the halls of the destroyed library.

Here we summon Hermes Chtonios and propitiate him not to bring us speak with dead souls, but instead lost books, whose bodies were destroyed by fire, water and time.  This is the necromantic vision of the Great Library of Alexandria, the ghost library full of no long longer extant texts.  Yet this spectral library is not merely filled with the riches of lost Alexandria, but stocked with scrolls from burnt Shaolin and a hundred other biblioclasms.   In recent years, in addition has been built with hard drives loaded with deleted emails and files lost to hard drive crashes.

The residents of this spectral library are shady scholars and long-dead accountants, who manage and massage the reams of vanished data, occasionally arranging for their reappearance in the world of the living.  If you ask for a particular book, they might help you, or merely lead you deep into a vortex of numbers and letters.”

The Blinking Eye of Day

Much of September is swallowed by a pair of eclipses.  Indeed, we will have no normal new or full Moon until the very last day of the month.  September is thus subject to the deep pushes and pulls of the nodes, the thrashing and threshing of the eclipse dragon.  Expect the road to wind, rise and fall, as it follows the dragon’s path.

Eclipses are decidedly underworldly, as is Mercury’s retrograde, which should make the month considerably nonlinear, though things struggle back to the surface just before the Equinox, on the 21st.

September begins with an annular solar eclipse opposite Neptune and in a tight square to Saturn.  This eclipse is our gateway into the deep changes and rearrangements which September hosts.  In particular, this eclipse invites us to dig deeper to find what is real and what is not.  The lines have been crossed and the protective magic circle separating them have already been thoroughly scuffed.   Likely some of what you previously thought to be illusory has proved real, while some of what you were certain was true has come under question.  This solar eclipse in tropical Virgo acts in concert with retrograde Mercury to pull us deeper into these troubling ontological queries.

Retrograde Mercury’s conjunction with Jupiter on the 2nd suggests that such researches are likely to bear swift fruit, or at least enticing clues.  This conjunction attempts to unite the intellect with revelation.  Furthermore, this conjunction will help us better understand the growth that Jupiter has attempted to facilitate during his humble year in Virgo, only a week before he leaves.  Look to the upgrades you’ve yet to install and that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Double Rainbow

Early morning on September 9th, Jupiter enters Libra.  In Virgo since August of 2015, Jupiter begins a new year in a new sign.  While Jupiter’s time in Virgo was not entirely free of opportunities or upgrades,  Jupiter has had a hard time pushing his optimism through Virgo’s tight filter, and it is for good reason that it is considered one of the weakest sign positions for the giant planet. Jupiter rules optimism and hopeful, solution-oriented frames of mind, and his debility over the last year has been reflected quite clearly in the general consensus that everything is awful and nothing can be done.

The good news is that Libra, the sign which Jupiter will be in until October of 2017, is considered much more conducive to the business of the big planet.  All of Jupiter’s significations should get a boost, especially those related to reconciling contention and creating balance and harmony.  It is one step toward the depolarization so desperately necessary in the current discourse.

Jupiter’s initial foray into Libra will see the planet share the sign of the scales with Venus, who entered Libra on August 30th and will remain there until September 23rd.  These copresent benefics will go a long way to stabilizing otherwise wild trajectories through September, and provide grease to otherwise creaky gears.

A Good Threshing

Jupiter and Venus take up stations just in time to help equilibriate one of September’s more important, and challenging, configurations— the third and final exact square between Saturn and Neptune.  As I’ve written previously on the nature of this empyreal friction:

“Saturn advocates for strong walls and stern discipline while Neptune is content to let things flow as they will. The two powers of concretization and dissolution, of walls and waves, are quite clearly contrary and Saturn’s attempts to build firm boundaries is confused by Neptune’s insistence on seeping through every crack.

Though the friction between the two planets can be witnessed in a variety of places, it is perhaps most clear in the ongoing refugee crisis, which took shape on the same time line as the square between Saturn and Neptune. The current administrative structure of the EU is simply unequipped for the flood of refugees streaming out of the Middle East and North Africa. Responses to the crisis have tended to bifurcate into the Neptunian- limitless compassion, and the Saturnian- higher walls.

On a personal level, the friction between these planets corresponds to a confusion about when to be disciplined, and when to let things flow. Great benefit comes from separating what you’re trying to concretize from what you’re trying to dissolve, as both processes can occur, but not in the same place and at the same time.”

There is another level on which these powers conflict, and that is the troubled relationship between Saturn’s world of facts and Neptune’s realm of the imagination.  As pointed out by my colleague Chris Brennan, this intersection can be seen positively in the rapid development of commercial virtual reality, as well as the strange hybridization of reality and fantasy exemplified by Pokemon Go, the tip of the augmented reality (AR) spear.  On a negative level, the friction between Saturn and Neptune has also given birth to a number of utterly fantastic and perniciously toxic, yet widely believed, political narratives.”

Although this is the final exact alignment between the two, and should bring the associated issues and processes considerably closer to resolution, it will take much of the coming season for the issues to work themselves out.  This is in, in a sense, the last message.  What we make of it is another matter.


The 12th and 13th host an interesting configuration between the Sun, Mercury and Mars.   The Sun, Mercury and Earth line up here, with Mercury the meat in the cosmic sandwich.  This event, which happens thrice-yearly and dubbed the inferior conjunction, marks the dead-center of Mercury’s retrograde.  It is, metaphorically, the point when Hermes the Psychopomp reaches the bottom of the underworld.

Yet this is no simple communion between Mercury and the Sun.  Someone invited Mars, who from Sagittarius squares the pairing perfectly.  On an external level, the 12th-14th will likely hold contain some of the most acute Mercury retrograde miscommunications and crossroads conflagrations.  Yet behind the noise and in deep contemplation, Mercury reflects upon the rampages of Mars this year.  What can be learned from all the contention and violence that occurred?  What of value was brought to light, and where do things go from here?  The hard part, of course, will be to gaze upon on the force and fury without being swept up in it.

The Ocean Sacrifice

September’s second eclipse, a penumbral lunar one at the end of Pisces, occurs on September 16th.  This eclipse sees much wash up and wash out on the shores of imagination.  The tides will try to take useless or toxic fantasies back out to sea, while depositing a few strange jewels from the hidden deeps.

As with Mercury and the Sun’s conjunction days before, Mars again insists on being part of the configuration.   Perpendicular to the Sun and Moon, Mars in late Sagittarius t-squares the lunation.  Mars’ prominent place relative to this eclipse will thus add some additional turbulence to our ride atop the eclipse dragon’s back.  Hold on tight, yet do not hesitate to offer what the sea requires.  Lightening the load we carry may be just what’s needed to stabilize our trajectory.


On September 21st, Mercury finally stations direct at 14’ Virgo.  This about-face coincides with the swift planet’s reemergence into the eastern pre-dawn sky.  Mercury moves forward from this point onward, climbing higher and brighter in the morning sky.  You can expect the majority of the Mercury retrograde hijinks to be over by this point, as the main roads open back up and the secret tunnels close up for another three and a half months.   As Mercury’s direct station occurs in a tight trine to tiny Pluto in Capricorn, we can expect many to emerge from the underworld holding a mixed bag of riches and secrets.

Fair’s Fair

The Sun enters Libra on September 22nd, a mere day after Mercury’s direct station.  The Sun’s ingress into the sign of the scales marks the equinox, that moment of brief equality between day and night.  Yet that fleeting equality will quickly pass, as night takes the throne in the north and day begins its reign in the south.

The Sun in Libra sheds its light on the relationships between things, the shifting balance of harmony and strife, connection and alienation.  Look to tweak the equilibrium of your relationships, as well as the balance between different areas of life.  The Sun will be in tropical Libra until October 22nd.


The day following the Sun’s entrance into Libra, the 23rd, Venus exits the sign of the scales, abandoning balance in pursuit of the secrets hid within the Scorpion’s burrow.  In Scorpio, Venus seeks the pleasures of depth, danger, and debauchery, not to mention the holy grail of intimacy.  It offers all the goth aesthesis you could ask for, though you may end up with some of the social alienation, too.  The evening star will be in Scorpio until October 18th.

 A World of Possibilities

On September 25th, the Sun makes its annual conjunction with Jupiter at 3’ Libra.  This alignment sees the Sun shine it rays upon the as-yet-unrealized opportunities which Jupiter will offer this year.  Look to areas ripe for potential growth over the next year.  Expanding your social circle, improving your relationship skills and squashing feuds is a good place to start.

Fort Capricorn

On September 26th, Mars enters Capricorn.  This is a momentous day, as Mars has spent the entirety of the year in either Scorpio or Sagittarius.  The red planet’s movement into Capricorn is thus a welcome relief from themes which have doubtless become sterile by now.   Furthermore, Mars is happy to be in Capricorn, as it is considered to be exalted within the Goat’s mountain fortress. In Capricorn, Mars is strategic, practical and a touch ruthless.  Here the red planet counsels patience, and teaches how to leverage the terrain to your advantage.  Mars will be in Capricorn until November 8th.

Firm Footing

Just as September began with a new Moon, so shall it end.  Unlike the dramatic, eclipsed New Moon of September 1st,  September 30th’s New Moon is in Libra and right next to newly ensconced Jupiter.  This is an excellent time to re-establish balance after a big month—no, a big season.  While the fourth quarter of 2016 is not without its challenges, those pale in respect to confusion, rancor and violence of previous quarters.

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Horoscopes are not a real chart reading by an experienced astrologer. They are fun and can be reasonably accurate, however. In addition to referring to your Sun sign, read from your Ascendant and Moon if you know them. If you don’t, find out! I’m a long time fan of the free chart generation software at
Aries: The Ram
Taurus: The Bull
Gemini: The Twins
Cancer: The Crab
Leo: The Lion
Virgo: The Virgin
Libra: The Scales
Scorpio: The Scorpion
Sagittarius: The Centaur
Capricorn: The Goat
Aquarius: The Waterbearer
Pisces: The Fish
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Austin Coppock is a writer, esotericist and astrologer based in Ashland, OR. He published paperback Almanacs from 2011-15 but began posting his prognostications online last year, referring to his collection of weekly, monthly, yearly essays and daily delineations as “The Online Almanac”. This work is made possible by his supporters on Patreon. Austin was President of the non-profit organization “Association for Young Astrologers” from 2012-2016. His most recent book is “36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans”, published by Three Hands Press.


  1. GH 6 years ago

    I have a strong Jupiter placement, but Libra is ill-ruled in my chart. Should I keep expectations low for Jupiter’s time there?

    • Author
      Austin Coppock 6 years ago

      Jupiter’s time in Libra will probably help you improve Libran matters. Sometimes Jupiter, instead of offering you a new good thing, helps you unknot an old bad thing.

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September 2016: Ontological Threshing

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