The Inconvenient Truth, by Steven Forrest
“September opens straightforwardly with Venus in Libra and Mercury in Virgo. Each planet is in the sign it naturally rules, in other words. And that symmetry can be a bit bland, like a beige rug in a beige room. But then things get a lot more interesting. On the 9th, Mercury crosses into Libra where it resides for the bulk of the month, until finally entering Scorpio on the 29th. Two days after Mercury slips into Libra, Venus leaves it, crossing the border into the classic sign of its “detriment,” Scorpio, where it remains until the end of the first week of October.
It is this period from September 11th onward, with Venus in Scorpio and Mercury in Libra that is what I’m interested in. Harnessed in an evolutionary way, this planetary combination can trigger conscious deepening, support both truth telling and truth hearing, and foster the resolution of tough, longstanding intimate conflicts. Experienced unconsciously, it can read like the script of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.” People can tear each other apart in the name of love, in other words.
What does it mean when an astrologer says that Venus is in “detriment” in Scorpio? The word is unfortunate and I believe astrology would be better off without it. “Detriment” implies something is wrong, and yet the real truth is that when a planet is in the sign opposite the one it rules, its action can be enriched, not degraded. In a sign that is antithetical to its own nature, the planet is forced to deal with complication and paradox. It feels more subtle and nuanced, sounding more like a wise old Jungian analyst tempered by time and experience than like a fulminating Fundamentalist preacher—which is the great peril of a planet in its “agreeable” sign of rulership!
We see this paradox right here: Venus seeks harmony in relationship, but Scorpio, at its best, is about ferreting out intense and challenging truths. Such ferreting does not always lead to harmony. People are not always happy to hear the truth, and it takes great courage sometimes to say it. Scorpio can correct the Venusian tendency to “make nice,” and can enhance mere harmony with the edgier quality of more genuine intimacy.
Most of us have experienced the deepening of relationship after a conflict has been handled respectfully and effectively. We solve an immediate problem, but we do much more—we build trust and a tradition of not being afraid to face shadow-work. We feel closer for it. The process is not easy, but it beats the shallowness of a relationship entirely predicated on never challenging another person’s defense mechanisms or sensitive areas. This psychological intimacy is what Venus in Scorpio is about, at least at its best. With Venus in that sign from the 11th through the end of the month, September promises an environment conducive to intimate honesty and the shared exploration of the deeper layers of our being. It also promises some terrific sex, as anyone who has ever “made up” with a loved one after a battle can attest.
That is Venus in Scorpio—at its best. How can it go wrong? The easiest answer is that by not dealing authentically with troubled areas in a relationship, these issues tend to fester. People “get into bad moods.” Snaky, destructive comments abound, and they lead nowhere. Cold distance permeates the room. We drift apart and we don’t know why.
But there’s another danger. Under Scorpio’s very psychological influence, we can feel compelled to “get on our partner’s case,” imagining that we have more insight into him or her than we really do. Even trained psychotherapists fall into this trap. They become enamored of a theory they have concocted about a client’s predicament. The theory might even make good sense and be well-intended—and still be completely wrong. For example, maybe a lawyer makes some dumb professional moves, and the psychotherapist decides the lawyer has some deep, self-sabotaging issue around “accepting her success.” That interpretation could be true—but in this case the reality is simply that this lawyer’s soul is crying out, saying, “Help, I was never born to be a lawyer!”
The point is that insights can be intoxicating and can completely beguile the ego of the person creating them. Believing that we are right is addictive. With Venus in Scorpio, we need to be careful not to fall into that proud trap. There’s the true “detriment” of the configuration. Wrong insights pressed aggressively and self-righteously upon a partner always lead to damage. If the partner defends against them, distance and mistrust are created. If the partner succumbs to our analysis, then it is even worse. We have damaged and misdirected our partner’s soul for the sake of our own pride.
Enter Mercury, the great god of communication. On the 9th it passes into Libra, the sign of The Balance. Libra represents the wisdom of knowing that every story has two sides and that for every truth there is an equal and opposite truth. Light is a particle. Light is a wave. If light is particle, it could not possibly be a wave, and vice versa. Yet both are true. That’s a physical fact, and it is also quintessential Libra. Expecting paradox, we perceive the universe far more clearly than anyone with a philosophical ax to grind.
When I am using Mercury in Libra energy consciously, maybe I have a terrific theory about you. I like the theory, believe it, and I am attached to it—but I never lose sight of the notion that I might be wrong. You might connect the same dots in a different way, just like different cultures have seen different constellations in the night sky. In this healthy expression of the configuration, my mind (Mercury) is shaped by the knowledge that life is ironic, ambiguous, and beyond any one single interpretation (Libra). Knowing that, I make more room in my head for your reality. I expect you to surprise me. I know I might be wrong about you. I am genuinely curious about you.
There are some truths that are so vast and so paradoxical that no single person can hold them. Mercury in Libra senses that slipperiness. It naturally expresses open-minded curiosity about the other person’s view and interpretations. It feels such curiosity sincerely. And that Mercurial curiosity balances the potential “psychiatric” excesses of Venus in Scorpio.
From September 11th onward, we are all invited jointly with our friends and partners to discover deeper layers of intimate honesty. To tell the truth, we must know the truth. Telling the truth is thus an achievement far loftier than merely refraining from lying—and infinitely loftier than putting on our “guru’s hat” and shaming anyone with a bombardment of dubious “insights.” This is a month of listening and really hearing. This is a month of letting our loved ones help us see familiar interior landscapes from an entirely different angle. It is about looking at ourselves, the ones about whom we care, and the dance we do together—all from a completely fresh and alien point of view.
Through the miracle of love, we see ourselves through the eyes of the beloved. They are not necessarily wiser eyes than our own, but they see truths we do not see. And if we express that kind of openness and humility, there is a fair chance our partners and friends will respond similarly, opening themselves to our own insights into them. And together we can be a whole lot smarter and clearer than we could ever be alone.”