I used to dread August. I never knew why. I used to blame the weather–the heat, humidity, and the subsequent kamikaze mosquito attacks of the Augusts of my childhood. But that wasn’t it. I never minded July, when the summer was fresh and fierce and the break from school still oh so necessary. But by the time August rolled around, something had changed. An ennui had set in, a feeling that would mutate almost to frustration by the time the first week of September arrived. There was a strange lack of focus in the air, a sense of ending, a longing for the new beginning that the return of classes and schedules would embody. The feeling of August, for me, was one of helplessness against the slow rolling of time. An inability to effect things. An inability to move forward.
Imagine my surprise when I got older, and found that, well, almost no one else felt this way about poor August. To them, August meant vacations and late swims and lightning bug hunts and the dread of the inevitable–the beginning of classes. Ennui??? Erm, no, not really.
It wasn’t until years later that a fellow astrologer offered the answer. “You’re a Virgo, aren’t you?” he asked. (I nodded. Like many Virgos, oddly reluctant to admit to such a thing.) “That’s it, then. Twelfth House phase.” Truly a head-slapping moment (not in a Moe Howard way, but in a “how can I be so thick/dense” way).
What I had neglected to see (and isn’t it odd how we often miss the most obvious in our own charts) was that August brought, for me, the Sun transiting in its yearly 12th house phase to its natal placement. In other words, my 10 degree Virgo Sun had gone around the whole zodiac and, dividing the natural cycle by equal houses, was in a twelfth house position from 10 Leo to 9 Virgo–the month before my September birthday, when it would return to its natal position once again. Adding insult to injury regarding my denseness, I also have a later degree of Virgo rising. So, rather than quitting the natural/virtual twelfth house phase on my birthday, this darkling Sun gathers momentum by transiting my actual 12th house, consorting with my natal 12th house Sun which is happily installed amidst the ghosts, leaky pipes, meditative insights and natural summing-up energies of what the old astrologers called, “The House of Self-Undoing.” (More of that in another post.) It finally made sense to me. It was all very Neptunian, this dreamy, foggy, unable-to-effect-things state of mind. And, as with all things Neptunian, something arises from the cloud of confusion and the ash of the life that has come before. When the Sun, the very heart of the chart, the engine of consciousness, quiets down in the 12th, it is possible to hear new voices whispering to us, guiding us forward. But only if we quiet down too, and let them in.
I have since considered myself lucky to have this triple-whammy solar phase every year (transiting Sun in 12th house phase, Sun transiting actual 12th, Sun conjuncting 12th house Sun). It gives me more time to pull those slippery strands of consciousness together and weave something concrete and earthy (useful) out of them. Now that I know what’s being asked of me, the feelings of frustration are easier to cope with, and I’ve learned to sit down and appreciate the stillness and just listen to what is going on around me and within me. How can I begin again? What needs to change? What habits, attitudes, ways of being do I have to jettison to save myself? Why am I hanging on, when I know I would be better off letting go?
Without this awareness, we focus on what we lack, rather than on ways we might move forward. Anxiety about getting older usually intensifies during this time. We fret about the future, or wonder how we’re going to drag our creaky bones through another year.
The Sun is very powerfully placed in its 12th house phase. This usually murky and uncertain house has the solar light focused on its dark and dusty corners at this time. It’s purpose is to help us clear the way, to help us prepare for the rebirth to come, the yearly rebirth that we all (astrology-oriented or not) celebrate when the Sun returns to its natal place on the day of our birth. Let’s learn to use it to our advantage. Fired in the solar light, and forged with awareness, the strands of previously unprocessed or unacknowledged experience can create new life.
More explorations on the Sun next time.