Scorpio does not have a reputation for being especially happy. “Intense,” yes; “brooding” and “extraordinarily perceptive,” sure. But while the occasional Goldie Hawn or Sally Field can skew the averages, Scorpio is seldom characterized as “perky” or even “upbeat.” The Sun, the ultimate astrological symbol of life force, struggles in Scorpio, a sign that is keenly attuned to mortality.
And yet, one of the most infectiously joyful people I know was born with the Sun in this sign. (She also drew the Moon-conjunct-Saturn card; perhaps in astrology, as in grammar, two negatives create a positive?) While I doubt she’d describe her life as perfect, and she certainly hasn’t enjoyed a uniformly happy past, she is the person who comes to mind when I try to envision what I would call authentic happiness. That is, a kind of happiness that seems grown-up, that seems earned. A Scorpionic kind of happiness.
Many of us suffer, I think, from a fundamental misunderstanding of what happiness actually is. It’s not about being in a good mood, necessarily, or laughing all the time. It’s not about getting in touch with who we were as children, before life happened to us; rather, it’s about living with integrity – knowing who you are and creating a life that makes sense to you. The way most of us get to know ourselves is through overcoming challenges and adversity. Through hardship we learn the limits of our strength. Through loss, we learn what is essential. And through darkness, we come to a greater appreciation of light.
In the part of the world where I live, Scorpio’s time of year is a season of long shadows. A full month past the Autumnal Equinox, we really begin to notice the days growing shorter and the nights cooler. At our house this week, we broke out our sweaters for the first time in months. We lit candles as night fell; the cats cozied up to us for warmth.
The season’s holidays seem shadowy too, and haunted. Halloween is a sugar-soaked, horror-themed prelude to the old holy days of Samhain/All Saints Day; it’s death played for laughs, by kids in acetate costumes. (But adults know the truth about loss and quietly bow our heads on the Feast of All Souls.) In the U.S., Veterans Day is an acknowledgement of those who served in some of our country’s most brutal conflicts, most of them haunted by the ghosts of comrades who didn’t return.
It seems that Scorpio’s season is just made for hanging out in cemeteries.
All of this makes a New Moon in Scorpio a bit confusing. New Moons are always about beginnings; but how to reconcile the idea of conception with haunted Scorpio? This way: most human life begins with sexual intercourse, submerging individuals selves, surrendering to what the French euphemistically call la petite mort—“the little death.” The powdered, sanitized business of babies is careful to remove any hint of a connection between intimate human contact and its natural by-product, but if the truth were a movie it would be given at least an R rating.
At the Scorpio New Moon(Nov. 14, 2020, 9:07 pm PST), we have to lose ourselves a bit in order to conceive a new self. As a society, so much of our energy is spent rather frantically pushing uncomfortable, embarrassing, human truths into the shadows. If your life were a house, there would be one room where you keep all this Scorpionic energy… your altar, your baptismal fount, your terrors, your secret, sexual excitements. Everything is sacred in this room of your house, and what’s sacred we keep secret—and we protect our secrets, and our uncomfortable, embarrassing humanity, because they reveal what has power over us.
There’s something a bit supernatural about Scorpio, too, that entices us to imagine that we might find a way to outwit the overpowering laws of nature. Astrology emphasizes the “transformational” interpretation of Scorpio, inviting us to entertain the notion that we can harness its power to beat the odds. Maybe all those vampire and zombie movies are right, and we can cheat death. Maybe we can have unprotected sex with numerous opposite sex partners of child-bearing age and never experience an unintended pregnancy. Maybe we can figure out how to conceal our secrets in one big ironclad room, safe from prying eyes.
Maybe, maybe, maybe. But while I’ve lost many more loved ones than seems fair, and I’m in no hurry to lose more or to die myself, I don’t want to live in an immortal world. I want to mourn my dead, savagely, because I had the pleasure of loving them so dearly. I want to fight death because I’m determined to embrace life ecstatically. I want to proceed with joy into everything that makes life difficult, because they are the same things that make life dear. And I want to heed the example of my good Scorpio friend who looks life straight in the eye, sees it for what it is, and decides to go ahead and love it anyway.
© Images and writing 2013-2023 April Elliott Kent