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© 2008 by Richard Nolle
last revised UT 22:40 AUG 31, 2008

If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget about it. This is real astrology for the real world. If it's real astrology for yourself that you want, you can get it by phone or in print. And if you need help deciphering the astrological glyphs in the graphics accompanying this article, see Astroglyphs: Astrological Symbols Guide. Please note: this forecast is expressed in terms of Universal Time (UT). Also please be aware that, while I never change a forecast once it's published, I do post errata to acknowledge typographical errors and the like.

The future is always beginning now.
-- Mark Strand

Mercury's Synodic CycleAs I wrote in last month’s forecast, "Look for increased storm and seismic activity the whole last week of August, continuing into early September." As exemplified by Hurricane Gustav and the latest Sichuan earthquake, September opens strong on the storm and seismic front, in the wake of the August 30 new moon so close to the southward lunar equatorial crossing on the 31st. Similar match-ups occur at mid-month (the full moon on the 15th happening within minutes of the northward lunar equatorial crossing) and at the end of the month (the new moon on the 29th within a day of the southward equatorial crossing on the 28th). These Moon-Earth-Sun alignments coinciding with extreme lunar declinations represent greatly enhanced levels of geocosmic stress. Consequently, a month that lacks a single SuperMoon or eclipse ends up with an upsurge in severe storms with heavy precipitation and damaging winds; a raft of higher than normal tidal surges along the coast as well as extensive inland flooding; and an up-tick in moderate to severe seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes and volcanic eruptions).

There’s such a surplus of geophysical stress factors this month as to be nearly continuous, but I can see that the greatest risk for notable storm and seismic activity will be around September 1-3, 7-9, 12-23, and 26-30. In short, this would be an especially appropriate month to have your emergency supplies and plans in good order. Obviously, seismic and flooding risks are generally limited to specific regions, where disaster preparedness should be routine. But bear in mind that the solar and lunar factors described here are cosmic in scale, and therefore planet-wide in terms of risk. So be ready for heavy weather or worse, just to be on the safe side. And expect that weather delays can play havoc with travel plans, transportation and communication networks, etc.

Speaking of havoc impacting travel, communication and the like, the final Mercury intersolar phase of the year begins this month. Being closest to the Sun, Mercury goes intersolar as seen from Earth more than any other planet. Its intersolar phase includes the infamous Mercury retrogrades of astrological legend. While most astrologers pay a fair amount of attention to Mercury's retrograde, few realize that it's only a part of the more fundamental intersolar phase in the orbital interaction between Mercury and Earth, as they both orbit around the Sun.

SEP 8 Jupiter Station (Direct)Mercury's current intersolar phase begins on September 11, when the little Sun-grazer reaches its maximum elongation east of the Sun - its evening star phase. This happens when Mercury has come 'round to the same side of the Sun as Planet Earth, and is relatively near us. The little planet is then pulling up to pass Earth on the inside track, as it were; catching up to us from behind and then passing between us and the Sun. Just as it catches up with us, Mercury passes directly between Earth and the Sun. This is Mercury's inferior conjunction with the Sun – on October 6. After the inferior conjunction, Mercury continues pulling ahead of us until, on October 22, it reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun (its morning star phase), at which point the little planet is headed toward the far side of our parent star. Between these two extremes, the greatest east and west elongations, comes the fabled Mercury retrograde period of astrological lore, which takes place September 24-October 15 this time around.

Retrograde means moving backwards. This is what Mercury appears to do in our skies when the little inner planet catches up on us and passes us on the inside, between Earth and the Sun. First Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation, then it appears to stand still in the sky (the retrograde station), and then it appears to move backwards through the heavens for a period of several weeks: that's Mercury retrograde for you. It ends when the little Sun-grazer's backwards motion comes to an apparent halt (the direct station); after which, Mercury moves forward again, until it reaches its maximum elongation west of the Sun. The reality of course is that Mercury never stops in its orbit, and never moves backward: this is only how the relative motions of Earth and Mercury around the Sun cause Mercury to move through our night sky.

Mercury retrograde is the cycle when everything goes wrong, to hear some astrologers tell it. The truth is not so simple-minded. All things Mercurial are crucial during the intersolar Mercury phase; infrastructure, commerce, information, communication and transport being prime examples. Absent careful investigation and planning, and conscientious follow-through, all such things are apt to go off track during these cycles. Mercury's intersolar phase is a time for focus, concentration, planning, follow-through and communication - all the qualities of the active and involved mind, in short. In case you haven't noticed, most people are not especially alert and focused most of the time. When this kind of sleepwalking runs into Mercury's intersolar cycle, with its focus on mental acuity, it doesn't take long for things to go awry. If you're sharp and focused and alert, you can avoid a certain amount of this mess. In fact, you can even prosper by concentrating on tasks that center on thought, planning and communication. But you'll still have to dodge all the chaos created by the people who are sleepwalking. So be ready.

SEP 9 Pluto Station (Direct)Among the sort of things to be ready for during the current Mercury intersolar cycle: strikes and other disruptions affecting transportation and communication (e.g. postal, phone, mass transit, trucking, airline, shipping, dock and warehouse workers, teachers and all manner of media). Weather both terrestrial and solar (including geomagnetic storms) can play a part in the kind of breakdowns described here, but human effort (and sometimes malicious action) is a part of the mix as well. Power failures due to infrastructure breakdown and computer network disruptions caused by hacker attacks, software vulnerabilities and the like are also just a crossed wire or a keystroke away from a major mess at these times. Given September’s ample heavy weather indicators, I think we can pretty well plan on weather disruptions playing a major role in the infrastructure breakdowns that are bound to happen this month.

If I had to pick a time to have a backup generator all fueled up and ready to go, a contingency plan in place in case the scheduled or expected didn't come to pass, a time to be especially sharp and steady and focused - it would be during one of Mercury’s intersolar cycles. Note the dates when it’s in effect this month and next; be ready with a fallback plan just in case. It's not so much that disaster is destined to strike when Mercury is in its intersolar phase. Rather, it's that everything pertaining to Mercury becomes crucial; and unless it's treated as such, then it goes awry. More and more, we live in a "just in time" world - and if the slightest delay holds up just one single thing, then a whole process screeches to a halt. Unfortunately, few people keep their eye on the ball with any consistency and diligence. And that's the reason these Mercury cycles tend to turn into Murphy's Law festivals. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Don’t mistake these cautions for predictions of unadulterated gloom and doom. September has its highlights as well. Take the triple conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Mars for example, in effect on and off from the beginning of the month all the way through to the 20th, more or less; and particularly noteworthy around the 2nd and 3rd, the 8th, 12th and 15th. A well-turned phrase, a stunning performance, a captivating presentation: perfect pitch and winning ways can take one’s breath away at times like this. Sexy and charming, flirty and bold, the flashing smile and twinkling eyes that startle the heart: that’s a good part of what goes on in early September, even if much else is going haywire at the time. It doesn’t hurt a bit that the potent Mars action of the last several months eases up in September . . . a little less crash and burn, a little more peace and quiet. August was a hotbed as predicted, what with the Georgia-Russia conflict and the rash of plane crashes. September should be a little gentler in comparison. (Everything’s relative of course: humans are not a pacific species.)

NOV 4 Saturn-Uranus OppositionFinancial affairs in September will continue the wild gyrations we have seen throughout the year. The problem is that there’s no fix short of a whole new financial system, and the powers that be aren’t ready to move in that direction yet. So we lurch from disaster to purported fix and back to disaster. Ineffective fixes inspire false confidence, most likely within a week or two of September 8 (when Jupiter goes direct) and 9 (when Pluto does the same); but developments later in the month (say, around the 23rd or 24th) demonstrate once again that the central bankers and treasury officials are merely attempting to rescue one set of worthless IOUs with another.

It’s as if the good doctors of international finance are attempting to cure the patient with one heroic operation after another aimed at saving this organ or that system . . . and then hooking the patient up to an IV of pure poison after each new surgery. The whole international finance system with its baskets of fiat currency is well into an historic total collapse, as described in my forecast for the year as a whole. The fix, as I have written, begins this year in the wake of the Saturn-Uranus opposition on November 4 – the day of the US election, coincidentally; although the solution I see developing is international, not just American. But it will take years to make significant progress, judging from that fact that Saturn and Uranus don’t finish the current set of alignments until 2010. A whole new IMF, a whole new World Bank, a whole new Bretton Woods agreement . . . it’s coming slowly but surely over the next dozen years. Meanwhile, be of good cheer and sound mind: reduce debt, stock up on essential commodities and other productive assets. Remember that the vast majority of people survived the last Great Depression. The lower your debt, the higher your stockpiles and the broader your network, the greater the odds that you’ll get through the current crisis too. Conversely, plunging ahead with "business as usual" is a prescription for certain disaster. Buy a house? Court a disaster. Take out a loan? Why not grab an anvil and jump off a bridge? I realize we can’t stop living and wait for things to get sorted out. But surely we can realize we’re in a hole, and at least stop digging.

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