by Terri Smallwood
Welcome, star watchers, to October, the first full month of the fall season and the domain of Venus-ruled Libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac.
Libra, one of the four cardinal signs of leadership and action, is an airy enigma. A masculine sign, ruled by a feminine planet, Libra is the only sign of the zodiac to be represented by an inanimate object - the Scales. Its not surprising, then, that balance is a keyword for Librans, reflected positively in their aptitude for diplomacy and not so positively in their stereotype of indecisiveness. Librans are mental list-makers, constantly weighing the pros and cons of every potential decision and always searching for the middle ground, the fairest and most just resolution to any situation. The Libran association with balance is demonstrated by more than just the symbol; it is inherent in Libras placement on the zodiac wheel.
Libra is the ruler of the 7th house of the natural zodiac. Poised just above the horizon line on the chart of the year, Libras domain begins with the Autumnal Equinox, one of only two days every year where day and night are of exactly equal length. Libra shares this distinction with her opposite, Aries, whose reign begins each year with the Spring Equinox.
Astrologically, the Sun is said to be exalted in Mars-ruled Aries, as his fiery cardinal nature makes the most of the lengthening days of spring. Aries uses the life-giving rays of the Sun to be a positive initiator of action. Aries forces are those of seed-sowing and creativity, filled with the energetic rushing of new life bursting forward throughout his season. In Aries, Mars and the Sun fuse naturally into a strong ego drive that confidently, if occasionally naively, goes forward into the world as a leader of men.
In Libra, the Sun is in its astrological fall, as reflected even in one of the names for autumn. The Suns rays are waning, and Libras airy mental nature adds a level of complexity to what should be a basic and simple drive. Like Mars, Libras ruling planet, Venus, is a strong creative force in her own right. But she is passively creative and too often gets caught up in prosaic contemplations of the beauty around her. With her fine eye for aesthetics and a natural appreciation for form, Venus likes to feel good, to be in harmony with herself and her fellows. However, with the Sun weakened, Libra finds the challenge is to find the impetus to actually initiate all the actions he dreams about. Despite these challenges, Libra is a cardinal sign, and has other tools at his disposal that more then compensate for being a less-than-ideal vehicle for the Suns powerful rays.
Libras forte is relationships. It is in relationship-building that we see Libras skill for diplomacy and penchant for harmony combine in a hefty one-two punch. Libra is the sign of partnerships of all kinds, but especially traditional marriage. Libras need for balance in all things means that hes always looking for the perfect mate, a search that epitomizes one of the strongest dichotomies of the Libran nature, and in its resolution is the key to Libras place in the zodiac.
As we travel through the signs we can see a definite pattern of roles being learned and re-learned, as each sign seeks to assimilate the lessons of its predecessor and build on the accumulated knowledge, and then to forge its own special contribution to humanity. Students of reincarnation have sometimes espoused this theory as a literal reality, suggesting that ones first life would be as an Aires, and then the spirit would continue through the Earth School in an orderly fashion, which would make Taurus something like second grade, and so on, until we reach our senior year in Pisces. But nothing in nature is ever this linear. Just a cursory glance at a sample natal chart shows how each of us is so much more complex than our Sun sign alone would indicate.
The person represented by the chart shown here is a Sagittarian. The Earth School approach would say that after assimilating the experiences and lessons of his Sun sign over the course of this lifetime, he would then naturally move along one sign and become a Capricorn in his next. And yet, while this Sagittarius is working through those Sun sign issues in this lifetime, hes also simultaneously working through a lot of other energy too, including the three planets he has in Capricorn. So in his next life, should he skip a grade and graduate to Aquarius? Its impossible to say. What can be said, from this astrologers perspective, is that each sign contributes a particular shade to the entire astrological rainbow, and throughout our successions of lives each person strives to add layers of colour to the rainbow of his or her soul. We build and rebuild on the lessons of our lifetimes, and each of our paths is unique.
As a method of study, however, there is much to be learned from a sequential look at the signs. Astrology is about patterns, cycles, ages. Following the Sun in its natural cycle through the effervescent panoply of astrological signs, we can see how perfectly the signs are a reflection of the natural world around us. To everything there is a season, after all.
Virgo, the sign preceding Libra, completes one season in nature, and one cycle in astrology. Virgo is the last of the personal signs, the six signs that fall below the horizon on the natural wheel of the zodiac. Last month, we looked at Virgos role as servant, and how that role developed as an answer to the ego drive of Leo. (To see Septembers Star Watch, click here.) Virgos need to grow through service to others lays the framework on which Libra can expand and develop his role as the first of the more public, outward-looking quadrant of signs.
The signs that lie above the horizon - Libra through Pisces - are traditionally more concerned with public life than their more private counterparts on the underside of the wheel. Moreover, the chart divides vertically as well, and signs on Libras side, the right or western side, are more outwardly motivated - by others - while those on the other side are more self-motivated. Libra, with his drive towards partnerships, continues the other-motivated theme of the western side but also begins the transition into the public top half.
If Virgo is the power behind the throne, then Libra wants to be the one sitting there, but only with his perfect queen beside him. Libras focus on relationships introduces him to the outer world, but safely - one person at a time. Librans want to be out there, and the charm and grace bestowed upon them by their ruler, Venus, give them ample skills for social successes.
Strong and balanced Libras are fair and affable leaders. People follow them naturally, basking in the glow of their radiant smiles and respectful of the unmistakable logic Librans use to solve problems. Decisiveness is never a Libran strong suit, but Librans dont earn their cardinal right to lead by strong decision-making anyway; they lead by building consensus, by weighing the voices and opinions of others and then presenting a clear and equitable solution. That is, they can do all those things when they are feeling comfortable and balanced on the inside. There is, of course, a flip-side to Libras charm.
Filled with the strong desire to be socially accepted, some Librans develop their exterior masks to the detriment of their own inner selves. Superficial and self-conscious, this variety of Libra possesses all the natural allure of his more balanced counterparts, but he uses it to manipulate others. He becomes adept at maneuvering people to do what he would like, to create the appearance of building consensus, but secretly seeking to control the outcome. An unbalanced Libra uses his skill for debate to create unceasing arguments, just for the sake of arguing. His airy nature takes over to the extent that he forms only shallow relationships with others, reflecting the shallowness of his relationship with himself. Fashion-conscious to a fault, overly-concerned with his looks, a Libra such as this may lack the ability to form the kind of meaningful connection with another that is so imperative to this signs growth.
To regain their balance and perspective Librans need to develop self-awareness, and not allow their need for social acceptance and their fascination with beautiful things to override their true goal. To unite firmly and meaningfully with another takes a great deal of self-knowledge. Strength in self becomes strength in relationships. In this respect, Librans would do well to look across the zodiac to Aries, situated in the 1st house of self in the chart of the natural year, but also seek to balance their strong ego drive with the grace bestowed upon Libra by ruling Venus. To find a perfect partner, one must first learn to be a perfect partner.
Although it reverses the traditional gender polarity of the signs, this description of a married couple from The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence illustrates the difference in concerns between Libra - in the role of the farm wife in this passage - and those of the preceding sign, Virgo - in the character of her farmer husband:
Looking out, as she must, from the front of her house towards the activity of man in the world at large, whilst her husband looked out to the back at sky and harvest and beast and land, she strained her eyes to see what man had done in fighting outwards to knowledge, she strained to hear how he uttered himself in his conquest, her deepest desire hung on the battle that she heard, far off, being waged on the edge of the unknown. She also wanted to know, and to be of the fighting host.
The cycle that ends with Virgo and begins anew with Libra is one more step on the astrological wheel of evolutionary consciousness. Earthy Virgo, concerned with service and committed to excellence in daily life, opens a door for Libra, a door that looks out into the larger world, and offers a glimpse of what the journey over the horizon holds in store. Not quite ready to forge out alone, Libra looks for a partner to steady her, a perfect counterpart with whom she can share her natural intellect, love for lifes finer things and all the grace that Venus grants her children. Thus balanced on the inside and out, she learns that a marriage is made of two whole individuals, combining to create something bigger, rather than two fragments striving to find wholeness. Her lesson to learn and share is about the bounty of love, reflected in the bounty of autumns golden skies.