By Mary Plumb | October 31, 2011
The New Moon was on October 26th at 3°02’ Scorpio. The Sun will be at 18°04’ Scorpio for the Full Moon on November 10th.
Mercury and Venus are close together now in late Scorpio and will move into Sagittarius on November 2. Our (e.g., my?) mood may be brighter then. For now, it’s the fixed water sign that has me in its grip.
Even if we aren’t thinking of zodiac signs, the visible world now — at least in the northern hemisphere — shows much about the essence of Scorpio. The dark is lengthening; the deciduous trees are dropping their brilliant leaves and standing bare and exposed, and, thanks to America’s undying consumerism, Halloween has become an ever more elaborate and extravagant commercial venture. We can see hoards of dreaded and fearsome creatures walking in our most conventional neighborhoods. (1)
It is of course our modern version of the ancient festival of Samhain. (2) According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and entities to pass between the worlds to mingle with humans. In the 8th century, the Catholic Church began calling these days (November 1st and 2nd) All Saints and All Souls Days, where we remember the dead. (The word Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve.”)
The whole month of November is dedicated to praying for the souls in purgatory. The word is from the Latin, pugare, to purify or to purge, and is the place the souls of the dead go to prepare for heaven.
Many traditions honor the dead. Tibetan Buddhism has many prayers and practices to help the dead, who are believed to be unable to generate merit for themselves. It is considered very beneficial to offer possessions of the deceased to others who are in need. A much loved object that the dead person gave to you in this life can be offered to the lama in memory of the person and for all those who have died. This is said to bring great benefit and to assist the dead in their transition.
I have a friend (with Scorpio rising) who is a hospice nurse. In the middle ages, hospices were a place of rest for travelers; those weary and needing shelter and food were taken in and cared for.
One primary idea in hospice care is the underlying assumption that the dying are travelers going on to the next place. (3) It is a way station; it is not the end. Religions offer many versions of what lies beyond this life, but the sign of Scorpio takes us into these transitional states.
My friend tells me that it is common for people very near the end of their lives to try to get out of bed, to try to take off their clothes. They commonly say, “I want to go home,” or “I want to get out of here.”
She also confirms what many of us have seen—people die very differently. Some struggle all the way and resist until the end; some appear to have a graceful and peaceful transition.
In the period of time that a life is ending and the person is preparing to die, all kinds of situations arise. In this in-between time, layers of incomplete or unredeemed life stories may have a chance to finish before the journey begins. Sometimes it is the remaining loved ones who have to let the departing ones go, echoing another great theme of Scorpio—the land of our deepest emotional attachments and intimacy with others.
I know of someone who is in hospice care now. Her beloved older dog has just predeceased her in death. She is bereft, but perhaps the portal is a bit more porous now, making it easier for her to leave.
Unless it is a sudden death, most illnesses involve a decline of the physical forces and a retreat into a different reality. People spend time in an inner passageway; many see and talk to their loved ones who have gone on before.
The sense of release and expansion of light can be unmistakable to those in attendance at a person’s death, as is the unspeakable poignancy of then feeling the body turn cold and vacant. The leaves that were so bright and cheerful are now gone, and it is in that starkness that we are placed closest to the greatest unanswerable mystery.
Scorpio’s most literal association is with physical death, and Scorpio takes us into the realm of death over and over in this life. But there are many different kinds of death experiences: sometimes it’s as simple as outgrowing something, or something outgrowing us.
Scorpio beckons us to venture into the heart of darkness that the death of a loved one opens for us. This is practical as well as symbolic. Healers have always known, and now medical doctors have documented, that unexpressed grief is a major cause of illness—cancer, heart disease, and arthritis have all been statistically linked to a grieving process that has been thwarted. This is the land where Scorpio, the proud eagle and the humble dove, dwells. We will all die, and we will all be bereaved many times in this life, Scorpio planets or not.
The acute realization that life will never be the same again is a gift of Scorpio, as is the delicate process of trusting, sensing, having a glimpse that something new will be born.
Scorpio attunes to the hidden forces. We can’t see the mystery that is unfolding in life. We can sense it, and may become familiar with states of boundless joy, profound despair, and the whole fierce range of emotion that is our lot. But Scorpio gives us the magician’s key to open to the healing force of life itself always moving through us. We are all going to die, and except for an exceptional few, we do not know when.
Steve Jobs gave us a magnificent glimmer of what might be next in his last words, generously shared with us by his sister, Mona Simpson, in her beautiful eulogy at his funeral. (4) She said that her brother’s very last words, as he looked over the shoulders of his family members surrounding his bed were, “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”
(Mercury in Scorpio was opposite Jupiter in Taurus on October 16, the day of the funeral, marking this lovely report from a traveler between the worlds.)
(3) “Linguistically, the word ‘hospice’ is derived from the Latin hospes, a word which served double-duty in referring both to guests and hosts.” Wikipedia
(4) New York Times