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©2003 by Richard Nolle
last revised UT 15:33 AUG 31, 2003

If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget it. This is real astrology. See the section above. Please note: this forecast is expressed in terms of Universal Time (UT).

It is the future that creates his present.
All is an interminable chain of longing.

-- Robert Frost

SEP 7 Mars-Jupiter OppositionMars and August just won't let go. The major celestial themes from last month hang on well into September. Mars still looms brighter in the sky than anyone alive has ever seen. And the Red Planet continues to make significant alignments with other denizens of the solar system, as it did in August. There's the September 7 opposition to Jupiter at 2 Pisces-Virgo, for example - the retrograde redux of May's alignment, and precursor to November's final leg of this year's Mars-Jupiter triad. (Mars stays within a few degrees of its opposition to Jupiter through the 16th of this month.) There's a kind of shadow Mars alignment in effect throughout September as well, what with Mars being no more than a few degrees from a conjunction with Uranus all month long - and yet never repeating its exact alignment of June 23.

With September continuing the strong Mars theme that dominated August (and most of this year), the last thing we can expect this month is peace and quiet. Instead, what we get is nerve and energy and conflict and confrontation - lots of struggle and strife. It's as if everyone remains a bit on edge most of the time. While we hit a peak in this cycle at the end of August, there's a lot of martial momentum to dispel before life settles into a more normal rhythm. You'll see it in the headlines, in terms of gruesome violence both individual and collective. From the guy who goes on a shooting spree at work or school, to the road rage shooter in the streets, to the terrorist sniper and suicide bomber, there's way more of that ilk stomping and skulking and slithering around than anybody needs. And while we're all well advised to watch out for 'the other guy' during this Mars cycle, it's well to remember what Pogo said: "We have met the enemy, and they is us." By that I mean we're all a bit edgier than usual, a little quicker to anger or agitation. So while you're being safety conscious, driving defensively and all that, remember to work on yourself. Calm down, count to ten before you give into that first rash impulse. It's always best to resolve conflict peacefully, and sometimes walking away from it is a viable option. But if that's not possible, don't go carrying a knife to a gunfight.

SEP 27 Mars Station (Direct)Wicked intent is far from the only threat while Mars remains prominent this month. Accidents and fires and panics can be every bit as dangerous as a nut with a sniper rifle. Make safety first your motto this month, especially whenever you're dealing with Mars-type stuff: flame, explosives, tools, dangerous machinery (including motor vehicles) and of course weapons and every kind of blade (from lawn tools to kitchen knives to scissors).

Again let me emphasize: the heightened Mars effect is tapering off this month, but slowly. It peaked in August, when Paris sizzled and British Columbia burned, when suicide bombers and snipers killed people by the scores here and there around the world in acts of terror large and small, when North Korea threatened to explode a nuclear bomb. The onrush of new provocations will slowly diminish now, slowly being the operative word. The aftermath of last month's geopolitical violence will continue to influence the course of events far beyond this month or this year, so you can forget peace in our time - if you ever even harbored that illusion. The lion won't lie down with the lamb just because Mars is now in retreat - unless it's for dinner. But it does slowly get better in September, apart from the mess involved in working out the consequences of last month's tragedies. So keep your guard up, especially around the dates of significant Red Planet alignments in September: the 7th (Mars opposite Jupiter) and the 27th (Mars going stationary-direct).

Another important carry-over from August is the Mercury retrograde. While the little Sun-grazer didn't make its retrograde station until August 28 (the day of the London Blackout), the whole "Murphy's Law run amok" scenario so widely associated with Mercury retrograde effectively began the day Mercury reached its maximum elongation east of the Sun. That, as noted in last month's forecast, was August 14 (the day of the US-Canadian "Great Blackout of 2003"). And while Mercury goes direct again on September 20th, you may as well plan on Murphy's Law being on you like white on rice until the 26th (the day of Mercury's maximum western elongation).

Mercury's Synodic CycleThis "extended" Mercury retrograde period lasts from Mercury's maximum east elongation, through the retrograde station, through Mercury's inferior conjunction with the Sun, through the direct station and all the way to the maximum west elongation. Basically, this entails the period during its orbit when Mercury as seen from Earth travels in front of the plane of the Sun, passes between Earth and Sun, and then crosses behind the plane of the Sun. The retrograde period, when Mercury appears to reverse its normal apparent motion, is only the most visible sign of this larger cycle: the passage of Mercury in front of the plane of the Sun as seen from Earth. A more accurate term for this notion of an extended Mercury retrograde might be intersolar Mercury, referring to the little planet's passage between us and the Sun as seen from Earth during this cycle.

I'm not saying that nothing goes wrong when Mercury isn't intersolar, mind you. What I am saying is that there's a particular pattern to the stuff that goes wrong during this cycle. It has to do with breakdowns in communication; mishaps in the transmission, exchange and processing of information. Stuff gets lost or delayed in transit, in other words; misunderstandings and monster traffic jams arise, things go astray, stupidity is celebrated as good sense, etc. That's not to say that there's no hope of getting anything right under an intersolar Mercury - only that it requires extra care, concentration and attention to keep things on track. And that's exactly what we all must do throughout September's continuation of the intersolar Mercury cycle that began on August 14: rededicate ourselves to making it clear, keeping it straight, and having backup plans ready to deal with the likely (if not inevitable) breakdowns that will occur despite our best efforts. Plan on it, more or less continuously all the way through September 26 - and be especially mindful of things that can go wrong when Mercury makes its inferior conjunction with the Sun on September 11.

SEP 20 Mercury Station (Direct)Most of these mishaps will be the product of natural forces (bad weather, solar flares, etc.) and simple human error or inattention, but some will be outright mischief - clever schemes to deceive, disrupt or steal. From hackers wrecking computers with viruses, worms and the like just to see if they can, to those wreaking such havoc for political reasons or personal gain, the level of vulnerability, uncertainty and insecurity is higher than normal during this cycle. (Crooked billing schemes, identity theft and inside jobs will likely add to this Mercury malaise.) Remember: Mercury is analogous to the nervous system, so all networks are vulnerable to breakdown due to mishap or malice while the little Sun-grazer is intersolar.

Be ready for screw-ups while Mercury is intersolar, but don't make the mistake of thinking that's all this cycle is about. It's a good time for straightening stuff out, for back-tracking and finding what went wrong and then fixing it. There is, after all, so much material to work with in this regard. So seek what's lost, retake and repeat and remedy to the best of your ability. Get all such stuff out of the way as much as possible before the 26th - then the emphasis switches from finishing old business to creating the new; from fixing what's wrong to planning for the future.

A tertiary September theme is signaled by the retrograde Uranus return across the cusp of Pisces and back into Aquarius, where it remains from September 15 to December 30. This is territory not seen by that planet since March - the heyday of the SARS panic, if you'll recall. Count one Uranus cycle back from that Uranus transit over the Aquarius-Pisces cusp, and you get the Spanish flu - a pandemic that started small and mild in the spring of 1918 and then went on to kill upwards of forty million people around the globe when it came back with a vengeance six months later. The First World War didn't end because somebody won, remember? It ended because so many soldiers were sick and dying of Spanish flu that no one could get a good battle going anymore. The good news is, medicine has advanced a lot since 1918, and treatments are much improved. The bad news is that medicine has come a long way since 1918. Now it can be used to create diseases that can be used as weapons. Worse yet is the fashion news: those stupid little masks make you look perfectly awful without doing a thing to prevent SARS.

SEP 10 Full MoonEpidemics - not just SARS - and other public health concerns tend toward crisis proportions under this transit. Mars being within a few degrees of conjunction with Uranus suggests an ailment characterized by very high fever (and suspicions of bioweaponry); the Aquarius-Pisces cusp and the simultaneous Mercury retrograde speak of respiratory as well as intestinal involvement. Probably, this points to more than a single illness. Watch for news about a resurgence not just of SARS this month and through the end of the year, but other emerging and reemerging diseases as well: West Nile and Norwalk and dengue and malaria and more in the US, for example.

And then there are the disturbances flowing through Earth's skies, seas and crust this month. Strong storms with high wind and heavy precipitation are part of this pattern, along with the attendant flooding and mudslides. Coastal flooding due to higher than normal tides are another manifestation. There's a seismic side to this, as well: moderate to severe earthquakes (Richter 5 and higher) and volcanic eruptions. Such are the signs of geocosmic unrest, and although they tend to peak around the end of the month, they're scattered off and on throughout September. For example, September 1st looks stormy and restive, in the aftermath of the August 31 lunar perigee (closest approach to Earth). Likewise September 4-13, thanks first to the Moon reaching maximum south declination on the 5th, followed by the full moon at 18 Pisces on the 10th and the Moon's northward equatorial crossing on the 12th. After a period of relative calm comes another storm and seismic window opens up from the 18th into early on the 21st, associated with the north lunar declination maximum on the 19th. And then comes the grand finale, the biggest impetus toward geophysical disturbance of the month. It kicks off on the 23rd, in advance of the new moon at 3 Libra on the 26th and the Moon's southward equatorial crossing the same day. The lunar perigee on the 28th stretches the risk window out through the 29th. All things considered, I suspect that the greatest risk for storm and seismic disturbances comes around the 5th, between the 10th and 13th, around the 19th, and from the 25th through the 29th.

SEP 26 New MoonIt's often said that everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. What can we do, other than be prepared? The dates outlined above are geophysical risk periods, times to be prepared for nature's extremes, just in case. (Remember: this includes seismic and hydrological as well as meteorological extremes.) Allow for weather delays if traveling, have foul weather options if you're planning outdoor activities, and be sure your emergency plans, preparations and supplies are in good order. You should know the drill by now: a full tank of gasoline, batteries, bottled water, flashlights, candles and canned goods. (Screw the duct tape!) Most of us won't be touched by anything too severe during these intervals - but anyone who is will fare better if prepared.

There's another, more directly personal side to these geocosmic stress windows, and that's the emotional dimension. People tend to be moodier, more prone to nostalgia, more caught up in their own inner world around the 1st and 26th, give or take a few days. There's a more outgoing and ebullient emotional tenor to the period a few days before to a few days after the 10th; which in combination with the Mars-Jupiter opposition tends toward boisterous or perhaps even aggressive behavior. Obviously people deal with emotions every day of every month. Still, these are the periods in September when emotional currents are generally higher than normal all around. At such times, the heart has reasons the mind cannot know, and whoever acts accordingly will likely prevail.

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