Oct. 24, 2011 – I’m getting ready to leave town and I’ve run out of time to put together something new for this Wednesday’s New Moon in Scorpio (3:56 p.m. Eastern time). So I offer one of my favorite pieces from the Big Sky Astrology Archives, originally published in 2004. A passionate and blessed New Moon to you all!I am at a Chinese wedding banquet in San Francisco, seated at a table with eight strangers and my husband. I don’t want to be here; it’s only four days since the election and I’m still working my way through Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief. But one of the grooms is a dear friend who was best man at our wedding, and besides, it feels very fitting to be celebrating one of last winter’s legally sanctioned gay weddings so soon after eleven states passed gay marriage bans.
The room is crowded, warm, and noisy – it’s hard to hear even the woman seated on my left. As the dishes arrive, one by one, Sharareh and I lean toward each other to make conversation. When she mentions that the woman seated next to her on the other side is her daughter, I ask if she has any other children. Her face clouds over and she shakes her head. Before I can recover from having asked what is obviously a painful question, she leans in a little closer. “I had another daughter, but she died,” she tells me. “I don’t like to talk about it.” My heart sinks. I express my sorrow for her loss and assure her that, of course, she needn’t talk about it. But she can’t shake the question, and something in my manner must seem reassuring, because as we help ourselves to some spicy beef she tells me the story. How her daughter was killed in a car accident in Turkey. How she had called her daughter, frantic, after a terrible nightmare, just the night before the accident. “I’m fine, mom,” her daughter reassured her.
Eventually the conversation steers to shallower waters, and she asks what I do for a living. When I tell her I’m an astrologer, her eyes light up. “Today is my birthday!” she tells me. A Scorpio, I register, reflexively. “Can you tell me what the year will be like for me?” Now, almost any astrologer will tell you this is a question we dread in a party environment. There you sit, with only a birthday to go on, with no charts, asked to deal with serious matters in a light, social setting, with none of the usual tools of your trade. Ordinarily, it is a game I don’t play. But Sharareh has entrusted me with a confidence, and all I could give her in return was a sympathetic ear, and it doesn’t feel like enough. I decide to trust that the universe has something more for me to give her. As we fill our plates with the next course, a beautiful Chilean sea bass, I struggle to bring the heavens into focus in my mind’s eye.
It’s been four days since I bothered to look at an ephemeris. I try to locate myself in the lunar cycle, and counting backwards from the New Moon (I know the date, because of my deadline for this article) I find the moon’s placement for the day. I retrieve the recent eclipses in Libra and Taurus and place them alongside her Scorpio Sun. And as can sometimes happen – especially with water signs, who tend to be so open, psychically – I see some things, and I tell her about them, and she nods emphatically; and we talk about where she might go next. She is smiling now, and her brown eyes are snapping.
We talk for awhile of other things, and then dinner is finished, and a few couples begin to dance. I’m not a dancer, nor is my husband. But Sharareh and her daughter, and the two middle-aged, conservatively dressed women sitting next to them – also strangers to them when the evening began – take the floor with enthusiasm. Sharareh is Iranian, and a Scorpio, and her dancing is foreign, exotic, sensual; she is completely and utterly alive. The other women form a small circle and take turns in the center, emulating Sharareh’s dance, and they laugh ecstatically.
Sharareh’s daughter dances over to me and pulls me onto the dance floor. I don’t know how to dance, I’m awkward in my body, and I’ve spent four days wrapped inside a small, dark emotional space that has left me raw and stiff. I don’t want to dance. But the DJ is playing music from the early 80’s, and my body suddenly remembers what it was like to be 19. I find myself dancing, and laughing with the other women, and while I can’t emulate Sharareh’s dance moves, I find myself entering into the spirit of her dancing – letting the seriousness and the pain and the depression of the past few days fall away, giving myself over to the ecstasy of being alive.
This is what the Scorpio season asks of us: a total commitment to being ecstatically, completely alive, even in the face of death and defeat. A modern-day Demeter who has lost her daughter, Sharareh didn’t hide her pain, but neither did she hide in it. She simply added it to the banquet table, like another Chinese dish, and when the lazy susan in the center of the table began to swivel she instinctively moved on to the next course. I admired the way she fully inhabited her feelings but was able to come back and inhabit her body as well – enjoying the food, dancing with spirit and joy.
A few days after returning home, I’m not any happier about last week’s election. I still skip back to revisit the steps of grief, especially anger, which I’m finding is especially persistent. But the cool autumn winds of Scorpio, and my chance meeting with an extraordinary Scorpio woman, have stiffened my spine. Now when the hard feelings surface, I try to simply let them be instead of immediately stuffing them away. And when they ebb again, I look out the window at the impossibly gorgeous autumn sky, and breathe in the wood smoke from a distant fireplace, and pet the cat, and have something nice to eat.
The Scorpio season teaches us that life, like a temperamental lover, sometimes likes to test our commitment by showing us its ugly side. It’s easy to love life when it is kind to us, when it makes sense and makes us feel good. But can we love it when it is harsh and disappointing and determined to break our hearts? Scorpio answers, “Yes.” So while we’re alive, we would do well to live like Scorpios. To commit ourselves with passion to the process of living, to dance with that temperamental lover, and to taste every dish at life’s banquet table – with spirit and with joy.
© 2004 April Elliott Kent. All rights reserved