Astrology is an ancient cosmological tool. Previously revered as an esoteric “gentleman’s art,” over the past century it has been bottled and sold based on its most basic promise — to get your attention by talking, however abstractly, all about YOU. Yet past the boring individualism of horoscopes, astrology is a technology that reflects the rhythm of our collective culture. Transits of the planets correlate to fashion trends, government policies, the opening and closing of mediocre New York restaurants, or even your forthcoming divorce — it's all there, in man’s interpretation of the stars. To understand the stars is to take power in your hands, gaze at it, and dare to ask it: are JNCO jeans really being advantageously worn by Gen Z?
Ruby McCollister and Mercedes Kilmer, both actresses raised in Los Angeles, have studied astrology their whole lives, through books and real-life experience. (Acting and astrology go swimmingly hand in hand as they’re both tools of interpretation.) Each month, Ruby and Mercedes will offer you a charismatic read analyzing cultural patterns and personal reflections as told through the stars. After all, as any guy who has read a bunch of chaos magick books will tell you: As Above, So Below.
EXT. October 2021
LOCATION: The world
Enter October Transits:
- Mercury Retrograde in Libra until October 17th
- Saturn goes direct October 11th
- Jupiter retrograde in Aquarius
- Neptune retrograde in Pisces
- Uranus retrograde in Taurus
Mercury, the star of communication, commerce, nerves and neurological networks, speech and writing, will move through Libra, the psychic terrain of harmony, balance, equalization and surface beauty, from Sept. 6 to Nov. 2. This has manifested, for example, in an empowerment of the commercial beauty industry — New York Fashion Week, the Met Gala, the Venice Film Festival. What these events have in common is that they are public displays characterized by that Libran quality of apparent beauty.
Kim Kardashian and Bella Hadid are probably the most powerful living Libran embodiments. With Suns in Libra, they both represent the human (female) form as it should be, not necessarily as it is by default, and they are both enormously powerful figures in the commercial beauty, fashion and advertising industries. The day Mercury went into Libra, Bella Hadid strategically capitalized on her spiritual consciousness (Scorpio) by publicly launching (Libra) a new-age nootropic beverage designed to harmonize (Libra) the nervous system (Mercury).
From September 27 to Oct. 17 Mercury will retrograde: backtracking, revising and reviewing his recent attempts to harmonize through communication. A retrograde is when a planet, from our perspective on earth, halts its apparent forward motion and traces back its path. All direction has an implied perspective and all of astrology is anchored in observable light phenomena, so it’s not relevant to our purposes that the planet is not “actually” moving backwards. We can think of the planets as actors and the signs as areas of the collective psyche.
I just hung up on a two-hour conversation with my ex-boyfriend, a Scorpio, with whom I rarely talk. We meandered on topics such as his summer dropping acid everyday and crying in his car, how I think weed is fundamentally the most powerful drug on the planet, and how he believes that all contemporary music is couched in an unsensual postmodern irony. (I begged to differ.)
All conversations, however, hovered over a subtle theme: ghosts — which I always associate with Mercury retrograde.
When Mercury goes into retrograde, things may seem chaotic because time no longer observes forward motion. It stalls, slipping into a miscreant, languid confusion — moving not forward, but sideways. And then, in come the ghosts.
If we learned anything from The Others, it’s that ghosts aren’t some tortured dybbuks birthed from the mouth of Hell, but rather confused humans slipping sideways through the passageways of time. Mercury in retrograde is just this — a moment when portals open, exes and childhood best friends re-appear, and ideas from the past re-emerge, as the routines that usually propel us forward go haywire amidst the slow burn of time going sideways.
This month, as Mercedes said, Mercury goes retrograde in Libra, the second astrological sign besides Taurus ruled by Venus. Libra represents the platonic totality of Venus. Where Taurus represents a Camille Paglian vision of mud-thatched huts, debauchery and pleasures, Libra represents the Apollonian ideals of Society, Beauty and Justice (all first letters capitalized, if you catch my drift). So when the planet of communication and speed goes retrograde under a constellation of Greco-Roman ideas of beauty, one can find themselves stranded in the Hamptons, booking limo services incorrectly, and smoking marijuana indoors.
Not to go off here, but weed seems to me a drug for listening to music and having sex. And I'm not talking in a heavy way, I'm literally talking in a weed way. Yet as weed consumption becomes more mainstream, the culture’s interest in sex (say the reports) wanes. Which brings us to other paradoxes and tensions:
This Mercury retrograde also answers to Venus in Scorpio, due to Libra being ruled by Venus. This month, Venus will mostly be in Scorpio, igniting strange desires, instincts toward domination and power. However, since Mercury is retrograde, one’s instincts and actions may misalign, and intentions may misfire. A tension between one’s sexuality and one’s ability to communicate creates flare-ups, anguish, and good sex.
Mercury retrograde on Sept. 27 coincides exactly with the Moon quincunx Pluto. A quincunx describes a planetary aspect of 150 degrees. Planets in this configuration are irreconcilable and invisible to one another; yet while these planets cannot “see” one another, from the God-like eye of the observer they exist in a perfect geometric relationship of fifths. In our natal charts, quincunxes describe compartmentalizations and blind spots, separated aspects of ourselves, around which paradoxically form the neuroses that singularly define us.
This quincunx is a time during which psychosomatic communications (Moon in Gemini) will want to come up to the surface from the foundations of our unconscious fears (Pluto in Capricorn) but may remain frustratingly unintegrated. This can actually work well with the Mercury retrograde and the upcoming trine to Saturn, asking us to pause, revise and carefully lay down a new mental framework. This is a great time to allow our psychosomatic intuition to reverberate and gather information without the pressure of it having to be articulated or acted upon. As the intuitive intelligence of the Moon in Gemini moves out of this aspect in the subsequent days, it will be ready to let Pluto’s atom-splitting power penetrate the foundations of Capricorn’s fears around scarcity, material security and historical precedent.
There will also be a trine from retrograde Mercury in Libra to retrograde Jupiter in Aquarius to the Moon in Gemini. This is called a grand air trine, wherein three planetary bodies form an equilateral triangle — creating the most stable, easily circulating flow of energy — across all three air signs. So there will be an intensification of and harmony between matters relating to the astrological air element: ideas and principles, intellect and spirit. Therefore, though Jupiter and Mercury are in retrograde, we can actually see a lot of forward momentum towards revisions and reimaginations, and all matters of the mind.
Overall, this is a great period for all sorts of mental activity, particularly reimagining old beliefs and patterns of thought. We will still have Mercury direct in Libra from Oct. 17 to Nov. 2, encouraging us to apply all our realizations towards new harmonious modes of relating.
Over the last few months, we witnessed summer go through its flop era. It was a suburban party girl of a summer. She was totally confused, trying to connect but tragically unable — a thirsty maelstrom of chaos that never will never directly slap you in the face, but will instead exhaust your conversations and suck all your energy without ever even throwing down. The summer was like being caught at the party too long with that chick — and because of her, you overstayed your welcome at the party!
It was a summer of unprecedented retrogrades of major planets. Saturn and Jupiter went retrograde early July, which perfectly ended that hazy debaucherous June. August then followed, when the planet of poetry and the unconscious and poetry (Neptune) and the planet of reinvention and radicalization (Uranus) also went into retrograde. All this retrograde traveled us back in time, confused our senses, made our sleep weird, made the urgency to party get so intense — and yet the parties were totally whatever.
It was a summer of flashbacks — a summer of Bennifer, tinned fish, whole milk, and low-rise cargo shorts. A summer of the unvaccinated dreaming of a pre-penicillin culture. We were all caught in a comical haunted house of ancient reference and mirage. The retrograde summer bled into a retrograde September, historically the most party-packed month of the Gregorian calendar. Yet, what was September? Like fashion week, a bevy of semi-hits and radical misses. Amidst a high-power agenda, only small moments of beauty cascaded through the confusion. Very retrograde energy.
As we emerge from summer and September, we get a moment of respite, as this month Saturn goes direct on Oct. 11 and Mercury on Oct. 17. The planets of discipline and mastery, and speed and communication, respectively, return to their natural direction. Things will begin to (barely) seem less random. Business and culture may once again have a rulership, a direction, a moment!
Ruby McCollister and Mercedes Kilmer are both actresses raised in Los Angeles.