by Nan DeGrove

There are days in September, just before the Equinox when time seems to stand still, and nature and life are poised in a delicate balance. One feather could tip the scale toward salvation or disaster — a dragonfly’s shimmering wing raises a storm half-way across the world; another species vanishes; a missed train changes a life; a kind word saves a lost soul.

Astrologers pay close attention to times when cycles change, when planets shift direction (retrograde or direct), change signs or in some way the planets form a new pattern, as a kaleidoscope changes with the slightest turn. September holds a pack of these cycle changes, making this month a critical one for doing and undoing, rethinking and questioning direction and our places in the vast universe. Venus turned direct in Leo on September 5th, after being retrograde since July 25th. Creative projects and romantic longings that have been gestating over the past month or so are emerging now. Venus is related to many intimate areas of life: love, beauty, friendship, style, art, attraction, but ultimately Venus is Psyche — soul coming into form in the world, and the myriad forms that Beauty takes to attract and beguile the soul.

The new moon of September 13th is a solar eclipse in Virgo, coming just before Mercury turns retrograde in Libra on the 17th, the same day that Saturn, after his last slog through the swamplands of Scorpio, enters Sagittarius. Then, September 23rd brings us to the Autumn Equinox, followed by Pluto turning direct in Capricorn, after being retrograde almost six months, AND … an eclipse of the full moon in Aries on the 27th.

I almost forgot Mars, often a loose cannon, going into Virgo on the 24th.

The art (and hard work) of astrology lies in synthesizing many different themes, and considering the range of possible/probable outcomes. We start by realizing these archetypes are operating on a global level. We all are in a great wave of change that intensifies this month. That’s the backdrop — migrations of populations, collapsing governments, environmental peril, bizarre demagogues pedaling hate and fear. We have gone down the rabbit hole like Alice.

Eclipses signify movement from one stage to another — often endings, but also new directions, births. The solar eclipse in Virgo comes right in the middle of the month, in the midst of an array of other powerful phenomena. I see the archetype of Virgo here as a midwife — a priestess of thresholds — overseeing the process of Venus mentioned above — the soul coming into form in the world. This means different things in our different lives, and as Virgo is a sign that loves order and ceremony, this is a time when ritual and prayer are needed. The full moon eclipse at the end of the month will reveal more clearly what is ending and what is emerging, as the full moon brings the seed of the new moon to birth.

Retrograde Mercury in the midst of all this, squaring Pluto throughout the month, sends a message of caution about impulsive communications and judgements. Small issues could become explosive; the peace making instincts of Libra are needed. Saturn will be in Sagittarius for the next two years — massive overhauls in areas of education, religion, law and social justice would be the optimist’s view of that cycle, but it could also go the other way … or both ways.

September’s planets and eclipses set the stage for the rest of the year. I have chosen Tarot* cards that I feel represent the dynamic energies of this period ─ images to act as keys for sorting out the mysteries of these times we are in:


The Star, for Venus, for illumination and hope in troubled times.


The Hermit for the Virgo eclipse, for introspection, discernment and refuge from stress.


The Hierophant for Saturn in Sagittarius, for the wisdom teachings of all cultures to mobilize in combatting ignorance, violence and greed.


Finally, the Fool, for the journey …


… and Temperance for integrity and balance.

*From the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.


Nan De Grove is a gardener, painter and astrologer. She contributes regularly to The Lore of the Garden and can be reached at