One year, just after Halloween, the new bride of our neighbor, a lovely man in his late 50s, was killed in a car accident. Our neighbor, who was her passenger, was left hospitalized in critical condition. They had been married less than one year.
When we occasionally encountered him on our evening walks, he was so happy about his new marriage, so in love with his wife, that he seemed lit up from the inside. They were still engaged in the happy work of newlyweds—negotiating space in their home, having the place painted, deciding where to put the piano. It was weeks before he regained consciousness after the accident, weeks before he realized she was gone.
After some neighbors first told us the news, my husband and I ambled home from our walk in shock. “It just goes to show, you’ve got to enjoy every minute,” observed my Moon-in-Taurus spouse, “because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
That is the truth. Bad news about someone else makes us appreciate what we’ve got. And untimely death is the ultimate Bad Thing, the grim joke that raises profound questions about life itself. It’s best not to rush past the mourning and depression that naturally follow death; they are instructive. They are moments when we examine our commitment to being alive, and whether it can survive the certainty of death.
Most modern astrologers like to look on the bright side of things. We look for helpful ways to frame even the most difficult human traits and experiences. For instance, when we talk about this New Moon/Solar Eclipse in Scorpio (Oct. 25, 2022, 3:49 am Pacific time, at 2º Scorpio), we’ll talk about opportunities for empowerment, personal responsibility, changes in direction, and letting go of negative patterns. Nothing wrong with that; these are legitimate interpretations of the Scorpio archetype.
But sometimes, life serves up something that comes with personal pain and psychic harm that can be hard to frame positively. Eclipse times can stir up old hurts and the baggage that has kept us stuck in place. Pluto’s long, grim march through Capricorn (since 2008) has marked a long, difficult period in which personal and collective myths of control, power, and wise authority figures have come into a collision with cold reality. The evening news has been full of grim reminders about what can happen when people reach their breaking point, and of the powerlessness of their victims. Most of us have stories of our own that we could tell, too.
Underlying such stories is the chilling image of people who woke up thinking it was going to be a great day, never realizing they had seen their last sunset. At least for a moment, something like that makes you think about how you got up this morning expecting things to go a certain way; will the rest of the day bring some awful event that makes all your little plans look silly and naïve?
It’s not just events that can make us feel this way. I’ve known—and I’ll bet you’ve known—people who are sort of death’s minions as well. People who treat you like a joke, who are deeply cynical, who grimace wryly at your efforts to express yourself or better your world through education, political action, creative endeavors. The snide, know-it-all cousin; the sarcastic co-worker. Their arch comments and cold criticisms can sap the joy out of anything. There is nothing in them of the vulnerability that endears us to our fellow travelers, no cracks in the armor through which a well-sung song can pierce their hearts. They live behind one-way mirrors, spying on us going through the motions of life while remaining invisible themselves.
They may never lay a hand on us, but what they do our spirits feels like murder. As sure as terrible news of a neighbor’s untimely death, they stop your heart from wanting to shine.
Each year the Sun’s transit through Scorpio, the sign of mysteries, of power (and powerlessness), and of death, reminds us that every human story has the same ending. No matter what we try to do or become, death appears to have the last laugh. At first glance, the cynics seem to have it right: in the face of such grim reality, why should we bother to hope, to love, to care, or to sing?
There’s an answer—or at least a clue—in the annual Leonids meteor showers that pepper the sky with light each year (midnight to dawn on November 16-17, 2022), while the Sun is in Scorpio. The meteors take their name from the constellation Leo, the part of the sky from which they appear to stream. Leo and its ruler, the Sun, symbolize life force, our reason for being here, and the part of each of us that engages passionately in life. It’s Leo that symbolizes the human urge to create art and children, to outwit death by leaving behind bits of our immortal selves. Even in Scorpio’s dark season, this urge manifests itself in an awesome light show.
My Scorpio New Moon altar will be crowded with mementos of mortality. Glowing candles will nestle among pomegranates, fake bones and skulls, dried blood-red roses, and photos of loved ones who’ve moved on. My favorite muerto will stand with her hands on her hips, chest puffed out proudly as if she’s ready to let loose with a song. A picture of my neighbor’s wife, lovely and peaceful on her wedding day, will be there too. And something tells me that even if she’d known she and her husband would have less than a year together, she’d have been just as joyous on that day. When we love another person, we create something deathless.
We’re reminded at the Scorpio New Moon how easily accidents, illness, and murderers can take our bodies, at any moment. Eventually, the body will die—there’s no avoiding that. But to my mind, life isn’t a body. Life doesn’t disappear just because it takes a form we no longer recognize. Life is like Leonid sparks of comet dust, streaking across the sky, illuminating eternity even in the season of death.
Solar Eclipses that fell near this degree in Oct. 2014, Oct. 1995, and Oct. 1976, are distant cousins of this one. See if you can find connections between what was happening in your life then and where you’re experiencing change now.
Writing and collages © 2009-2022 April Elliott Kent
More about this week’s highlights in the latest episode of my podcast!