Libra 2018 (Sep 22 – Oct 23): The Black Honey of Venus Cloacina

Libra 2018 (Sep 22 – Oct 23): The Black Honey of Venus Cloacina

Some times are complicated, composed of a multitude of themes, woven from myriad strands. The Sun’s time in Libra this year is not one of those. It is quite the opposite, as it is unusually singular in theme. That theme is set by Venus, which will remain in Scorpio for the entirety of the Sun’s time Libra. Venus creeps slowly forward for the first part, stands still during the middle, and inches backward during the end.

Any time Venus slows, stops, and assumes retrograde motion, it is significant. It is even more so this month, as when the Sun is in Libra, it is in Venus ruled territory. In the sign of the Scales, the Sun illuminates and emphasizes the matters of fairness and balance which Venus is concerned with. There is little to distract from this central theme, as other than the swift Moon, only one planet, Mercury, changes signs while the Sun is Libra. So let us speak of Venus.

Venus stations retrograde this year on October 5th, at 10 Scorpio. The planet will retreat back to 25 Libra, and there station direct on November 16th. This retrograde is thus naturally divided between the time Venus spends in Scorpio and Libra. Venus has a very different relationship to the two signs.

Venus is in its detriment in Scorpio, as the landscape of the Scorpion’s sign is inimical to Venus’ significations. On the other hand, Venus rules Libra, and is empowered, as the Venusian archetype expresses itself clearly and easily there. This retrograde thus has the quality of a transition from ugliness to beauty, from sullen strife to right relationship. It is the alchemical nigredo of the heart, the putrefaction of the rotten, followed by its purification and restoration— the albedo stage. In less esoteric language, this is the process of dealing with the dirty in order to get clean.

The second half of this, the purifying albedo stage which will occur when Venus re-enters Libra, does not take place until October 31st, well after the Sun has left Libra. Thus, for the entirety of the time that the Sun resides upon the Scales, Venus will be in Scorpio. As I wrote during the last Venus retrograde in Scorpio —

Beneath the Skin

Venus’ time in Libra makes relationships easier, with both parties tending to adjust for pleasing presentation and mutual harmony. When Venus moves to Scorpio, people are prompted to stop compromising and start getting “real.”

There are parts of everyone’s emotional make-up that they cannot and/or will not compromise. These parts are brought to the surface by the presence of Venus in Scorpio, and represent necessary stumbling blocks in human relationships.

Venusian energy is led into a downwards, drilling spiral by Scorpio. The mind digs to the heart of one’s motivations, tearing through old interpretations and seeking an authentic, if not pretty, emotional core. As the mind digs, the heart’s hidden contents well up. As in the literal search for black gold, drilling down is met with dark, sticky explosions that may well wreck your equipment for a bit.

What arises will inevitably be fear, which protects and confines us at the most fundamental level. Venus will seek intimacy while testing trust this Fall, challenging us to new levels of open-ness while activating our terror of betrayal. As this black gold surfaces in gooey geysers, remember to budget down-time for processing and refining what arises.

This thick tar is composed of rotten and forgotten feelings. Disappointments, unrealized desires, resentments. Emotional sewage sparkling with the rainbow of old miseries. It is the black honey of Venus Cloacina, Roman Goddess of the Sewers, who ruled over the relationship between the clean and the dirty on all levels. The waters of our heart are inevitably soiled as they grow heavy with little resentments, big betrayals and other toxic moments. On a physical level, sewers do us the favor of carrying away this waste water. Yet nothing simply goes away, it just goes somewhere else. Whether sewage is packed into tightly sealed drums or dumped into the local river system, it does not disappear, and the same can be said on an internal level. Venus’ time in Scorpio this year is a call to claim your “shit”, and in doing so take responsibility for both its source and its impact on your world.

Yet waste need not be wasted. Just as manure fertilizes fields, old hurts are the compost out of which real character arises. The proper alchemical engagement with poison does not turn us into poison, but medicine. It teaches us to accept the inevitably dirty facets of human desire and relationship, and accept them in both ourselves and others, freeing us from the aversion which makes the difficult exponentially harder to deal with. This is the teaching of Venus Cloacina, our Lady of the Sewers. The same wisdom might also be approached through sin-eating Tlazolteotl or revered Matangi, Mahavidya of unclean blood and polluted food. During the Sun’s time in Libra, consider dropping a flower and a short prayer down a sewer grate, for the goddess dwells there, too.

Venus, Mars and Uranus

Venus’ time retrograde this year involves significant entanglement with two other planetsm — Uranus and Mars. In Scorpio, Venus is in Mars’ sign. It is interesting timing for Venus to spend so much time under those circumstances now, as Mars has just finished up with his own dramatic retrograde. In many ways, Mars is handing off to Venus, passing the baton on the same set of issues. The Venus retrograde can be seen, meaningfully, as a different phase of the same process.

This is true not merely because Venus retrogrades in a Mars ruled sign. Other factors link the two cycles. Venus’ retrograde station is at 10 Scorpio, almost exactly 90 degrees from Mars’ retrograde station in June, which was at 9 Aquarius. This means that both of the planets, during their retrograde, aspect many of the same points.

It is particularly important to note that both of the two planets’ retrograde cycles square, oppose and conjoin almost exactly the same degrees. Thus, what received any of these aspects from Mars will receive them again, from Venus.

In addition to the points aspected in innumerable natal charts, both Mars and Venus make hard aspects to Uranus, which ingressed into Taurus in May. While Mars squared Uranus three times, Venus will oppose Uranus three times. Not only is the opposition a stronger aspect than the square, but Uranus is currently in a Venus-ruled sign (Taurus), and thus is much more responsive to her movements and condition.

Uranus-Venus combinations disrupt relationship structures and social relations. The two provide exactly the right spark to catalyze break ups and divorces. Even for those unions which are stronger, Uranus’ disruptive, innovative, rebellious power pushes relational rearrangements. Break ups and renegotiations are something we would expect from any Venus retrograde, but Uranus doubles down on these significations. This configuration should spit out a number of high-profile divorces and a new round of sex-scandals.

On the positive side, Venus and Uranus fuel artistic innovation and aesthetic experimentation, facilitate greater freedom of feeling and emotional expression. Venus will also help push through the disruptions and innovations which Uranus has planned in Taurus.


Libra I: September 22nd-October 3rd

The Sun sets foot in the first face of Libra on Saturday, September 22nd, and rises within that decan for the first time on the 23rd. The Sun takes tentative steps into the new season, and then takes the Scales in hand, to assess what is fair in love and in business.

The first face of Libra awakens us to the imbalances in our world, and stirs the desire for justice within our hearts. With Venus so close to her retrograde station, we are likely to find much which doesn’t measure up when placed in the Scales. The events of the first decan are not particularly easy, as they consist primarily of Mercury’s short but unpleasant configuration with Mars and Saturn, and then a Full Moon upon which Saturn squats, like a stone.

While the Sun is in Libra it urges us to maintain balance and poise, like tightrope walkers. Yet this year the rope stretches over an underworld river, and the point may not be to cross without getting wet, but instead to learn to swim.

Mercury and the Malefics

The first few days of the Sun’s time in Libra see Mercury aspect both Saturn in Capricorn and Mars in Aquarius. Entanglement with either one of these planets would be acceptable, but both malefics at once is tough. Mercury’s square to Saturn highlights obstacles, slows down communications, and delivers unpleasant news. Meanwhile, Mercury’s trine to Mars fires up communication and cognition. Mars’ influence makes for impatience while Saturn slows and obstructs, which makes for a rather frustrating mixture. Mercury’s aspects with Mars and Saturn are exact on the 23rd.

The Full Moon in Aries

The Full Moon in Aries occurs on the 24th. It is, unfortunately, tightly configured to Saturn which pressurizes and complicates developing tensions. As I wrote in the daily entry for the 24th:

While the Sun in Libra casts its light on the delicacies of relational dynamics, the Moon in Aries feeds individual concerns. “Us!” the Sun in Libra says. “Me.” Says the Moon in Aries. The inherent disagreement between the Sun and Moon is not helped by Saturn’s input into the situation. Saturn complicates the balance between Self and Other by insisting that World also have its due. This lunation, and the ensuing fortnight which it describes, will thus require these priorities be carefully juggled.

The day afterward, the 25th, the Sun completes its square with Saturn, making clear the weight of responsibility and the actions necessary to meet it. Afterward, the Sun moves on to a trine with Mars, which it perfects on the 27th. The Sun’s trine to Mars is actually a good thing, as it re-establishes right relationship between the Sun and Mars for the first time since June. On an inner level, this is the relationship between intelligence and action, our goals and our work. We will come out of this brief gauntlet with greater coherence of purpose.

The Sun-Mars aspect occurs just as Mars makes its third and final conjunction with the Dragon’s Tail, the South Node of the Moon. With this last conjunction we finally begin to exit the process of martial purification which dominated much of 2018’s third quarter.

Onward, Pluto

The final event which occurs during the Sun’s time in the first decan of Libra is Pluto’s direct station, which occurs on the 30th in the 19th degree of Capricorn. This slow about-face begins 7 months of forward motion. Pluto’s direct station is not an event on par with that of Mercury, Venus or Mars, but it does signal a forward march to the slow, inexorable forces of change which Pluto commands. The station also shrouds the surrounding days with Pluto’s signature underworldly ambiance.

Libra II: October 3rd-13th

The Sun rises in the second decan of Libra for the first time this year on Tuesday, October 3rd. While the first face of Libra introduced the scales upon which matters are weighed, the second attempts to cement the equilibrium, binding the matters to that point of balance. Contracts and deals are drafted here, and marriages made. It is the decan of Libra ruled by order-creating Saturn, and Saturn is exalted in Libra, for the divine root of law is justice.

It’s here, in the second face of Libra, that the most action takes place. Venus stations retrograde on October 5th, and the New Moon arrives on the 8th, followed by a quick flurry of configurations on the 9th-11th.

Hermes and Hades

Mercury in Libra squares Pluto in Capricorn exactly on the 2nd, stimulating the intellect to seek secrets, out of both curiosity and fear. This aspect is good for research, but the tunnels which open up can get one temporarily lost in obsession. It is entirely on-theme with this solar month’s underworldly ambiance, and makes a nice lead-in to Venus’ retrograde station a few days later.

Venus’s Retrograde Station

After slowing for weeks, Venus finally begins retrograde motion on the 5th. As this particular journey has been brewing since early September, it may come as a relief to actually start the spiral backward and downward. As I wrote in the October 5th daily entry:

During that time her light fell across matters due to be revisited, reflected upon and reworked. The heart is often a more chaotic place during Venus’ retrogrades, as the bright planet’s underworld journey unchains complexes of restrained emotion. Hidden loves and hates are unbound while desire and aversion run unchecked. Though it can feel like a visit to the chaotic tempest described in the second level of Dante’s inferno, wherein the lustful dwell, there is a floor to this cavern. Embedded in it there are glittering gems- hard, gleaming nuggets of truth. Venus will walk these howling tunnels until November 16th, when she stations direct.

Dark Moon Deals

The New Moon in Libra arrives a few days after Venus’ station. As this union of the Sun and Moon occurs in the Venus-ruled sign of the Scales, it serves to even further orient things around Venus’ current alchemical experiment. Furthermore, the New Moon happens in the 2nd Face of Libra, which is concerned with both contract and betrayal. Agreements and arrangements in place are pulled into question. Negotiations will indeed pend, but also depend on what comes out of the process of clarification which Venus has us engaged in. This is a process you can keep up with and engage, but it is not one you can get ahead of. Take a moment to consider and adjust your pace and expectations.

Mercury Enters Scorpio

The day after the New Moon in Libra, the 9th, we see the only planetary ingress which occurs during this solar month. Mercury enters Scorpio, and by doing so sets foot in the same tunnels which Venus is currently retrograde within. As I wrote previously:

Here the messenger leaves behind Libra’s ambivalence for the focus of the Scorpion’s hypodermic. After entertaining a variety of options during Mercury’s time in Libra, we’ll be pulled to narrow our scope and discard distractions if we’re to maintain control of our descent into the season. Although focused, Mercury in Scorpio has an almost compulsively pessimistic tendency. Don’t let healthy skepticism turn into fearful paranoia, as a balanced mind will be your finest asset for navigating the challenging emotional truths of the weeks ahead.

The first few days of Mercury’s time in Scorpio are relatively dramatic, due to an opposition with Uranus, a potentially revelatory configuration which is equally happy to facilitate both breakthroughs and breakdowns. The 10th, which is the day Mercury and Uranus most perfectly oppose, is also the day that Mars in Aquarius and retrograde Venus complete a perfect square. Mars and Venus stir both the passions and the loins, brewing up an emotionally volatile mixture which might better sipped than swallowed whole. During the same span of days, the Sun completes a square with Pluto, further contributing to its volcanic potential.

Libra III: October 13th-23rd

The Sun enters the third and final decan of Libra, which spans the last 10 degrees of the sign, on October 13th. The third face of Libra is more mobile, and less serious than the Saturnian second. Libra II takes the principle of balance, introduced in the first face of Libra and tested in the second, to its logical conclusion, asking how we might find our way between balance and imbalance. The third face of Libra thus entails spinning out toward the periphery and returning again to center. We make our own temporary peace with off-kilter situations, adapting our footing as required.

During its time in the third face of Libra this year, the Sun will oversee less dramatic configurations than it did in the second. If anything, it is a bit of a breather before the intense Full Moon which waits just after the Sun’s ingress into Scorpio. It is Mercury who makes the most aspects during this decan, checking in with Mars, Neptune, Pluto, and most importantly — Venus.

Mapping the Heart’s Dark Forest

The most important configuration during the Sun’s time in the third face of Libra is Mercury’s conjunction with retrograde Venus in Scorpio on October 15th, as it brings the power of words and logic to bear on the primarily felt and sometimes mysterious processes afoot. Although some of it will happen anyway, there’s no reason not to lean into this configuration by making an honest attempt to communicate clearly, both to yourself and others. Not everything that needs to be said will be pleasant, but not everything that is important is pleasant.

Mercury’s Meanderings

After the conjunction with Venus, Mercury moves on to make a funny pair of aspects to Neptune and Mars, which infuses thoughts and communications on the 18th and 19th with an odd combination of Neptunian daydreams and Martial goal-orientation.

The last planetary aspect of the Sun’s time in Libra is Mercury’s sextile to Pluto on the 22nd, which lends a little extra depth to communication, although with the number of ongoing configurations also pointing toward chthonic and transmutative themes, this is rather par for the course.

End of the Road

The Sun’s time in Libra comes to an end on October 23rd, when it enters Scorpio. The Sun’s time in Scorpio will see us reach the secret heart of the underworld whose tunnels Venus has been guiding us downward, and Venus’ subsequent movement from the nigredo phase of putrefaction onto the albedo phase of purification.

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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. Allison H. 4 years ago

    I’m glad to see you back on the monthlies! I hope this means your retrograde break has been the revival you needed 🙂

    I’m grateful to have this roadmap for the next month. I’m not exactly looking forward to this trip, as it touches on some tough things/insecurities for me, but having this guide will help me to stay focused on what wisdom I can gleam from the tumult! Thank you!

  2. Spike Neuberger 4 years ago

    WELCOME BACK!!!?????????
    We missed you!

  3. Siobhan Merrill 4 years ago

    Such gorgeous writing. So glad I signed up. Thank you

  4. maria 4 years ago

    happy to have you back!

  5. Myroslava Hartmond 4 years ago

    Thank you for your hard work on this column, dear Austin! You were very much missed, and every word is gold.

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Libra 2018 (Sep 22 - Oct 23): The Black Honey of Venus Cloacina

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