(9.23.02) It's fall again, if you can believe it! This past Sunday night marked the Autumnal Equinox, or the beginning of the season, as the Sun moved across the celestial equator from Virgo into Libra. Astrologically, we are now halfway through the year. And though the sun is still shining quite warmly in many parts, its light is subtly less bright. Summer is wrapping up. The days are a little bit shorter, and the feeling in the air is a little bit heavier. Though the plants and trees around us are still in late-summer bloom, they have already reached their apex of full flowering and seem to be quietly waiting, in anticipation of their imminent seasonal declination. Every once in a while, a breeze blows, containing a faint hint of what's to come in the next several weeks. And then it vanishes.

Libra, the Sun's new sign, is represented by the image of the scales—which has given many casual observers the misleading idea that Librans embody perfect grace and balance. I'm sorry to disappoint you (especially any Librans clinging to this misconception), but these scales are rarely in balance. In continual though almost imperceptible motion, Libra shifts back and forth with its tiny tinkerings, in the admirable attempt at achieving calm. This motion is often in reaction to the behavior of others, as Librans are known to define themselves situationally in relation to other people. They are acutely aware of how their actions will affect someone else. Thus they can use this skill to preempt unpleasant confrontations or gently direct interactions toward a given end, whether motivated by selfishness or altruism.

Libra, then, with its polite pleasantries and cool charm, makes a perfect astrological ambassador between summer and fall. Chronologically, it is sandwiched between two discerning signs—Virgo, with its categorical precision and perfectionism, and Scorpio, which insists upon diving into intensity at the expense of comfort. During Virgo time, we conclude the carefree days of high summer and return to hard work, putting off our immediate pleasures for the future, like children bidding sad farewells to their summer camp friends and grudgingly returning to school. By the time we hit Scorpio, autumn is in full effect. As night's darkness and the coming winter's chill envelope more of our daily existence, life sheds its leaves and the curtain separating us from other realms gets thinner; reminders of death are everywhere. In between, Libra coddles us with mild weather and tacit acceptance of responsibility. Having been back at work for a few weeks, we realize it's not so bad after all—or else we suck it up and put on a game face for the time being. We softly jiggle the scales, knowing we are mid-transition.

As we enter the new season, last weekend's peculiarly dynamic Full Moon continues to leave its magical mark on us. Though my previous comments on its effects were couched in a playfully trivial television metaphor (Eight is Enough, anyone?), I don't mean to insinuate that the planetary configuration involved was itself flat as a TV plot. Rather, the stalemate-busting, energy-generating combination of aspects-—Sun & Moon squaring Saturn, Jupiter & Neptune squaring Venus, and Mars squaring Pluto—kept its power hidden from the surface with the Virgo-Pisces influence of withheld outer expression and rich inner workings. Thanks to this Full Moon, our creativity and love-urge have been stimulated, our stubborn will has been productively broken and transformed, and our ego has been subjected to a bit of much-needed authoritarian restraint.

So what do we do now? First, we get reacquainted with ourselves before powering ahead into new terrain. Mercury is still retrograde for another couple weeks, which favors reevaluation and revision. What we planned for our futures last month may no longer serve our needs this month. Second, we quiet our familiar mental chatter so that we are able to tune into fresh, disorienting psychic messages, giving us clues to what's next, if we opt to recognize them. Mercury moves into trine with Neptune, further convoluting regular communication and replacing it with ambiguous cosmic poetry. Surrender your clarity; it's a hopeless cause. Instead, practice your psychic observation skills. Perhaps you spend a day wandering without direction, eavesdropping on strangers as if they were tarot cards or tea leaves. Paint, sing, meditate or dream; but please don't try to make decisions. Finally, we follow the Libran lead and camouflage our confusion behind a smile (which, incidentally, I've heard releases hormones that actually make you feel better—is this true or a pop myth?). In this gesture, we enjoy a degree of psychic anonymity, all the better with which to disguise our dabblings in other worlds.