On October 14, 2023, an annular solar eclipse in Libra lights the skies ablaze. Indeed, as the moon briefly blocks out the sun’s light, we’ll be subject to a burning “ring of fire” effect, dangerous to the human eye. Eclipses are times of searing awakenings and scorching revelations — what will come through the portal this time?
On a new moon solar eclipse, the moon briefly passes between Sol and the earth, obscuring our view of the sun. On an annular eclipse, the moon nears its farthest point, or apogee, from the earth. From our vantage point, the moon is too small to entirely block out the sun, creating a delightfully evil “ring of fire:” pitch black enclosed in a Mordor-certified ring of heat.
This eclipse goes down on the south node, which is in Libra from July 2023 through January 2025. The south node functions as a karmic release valve, a parting point for shadows, selves, and history. In those uncanny moments of the eclipse, the sun’s fire acts as a seal, binding something dark and abject, giving it shape and contrast through which to emerge.
Eclipses are not necessarily times for manifestation, but rather, reshufflings of the cosmic decks. The currents and culture around us are shifting. The changes you need to make will reveal themselves, if you watch closely (using those special goggles) and pay attention. Something is forming in the pitch black of the moon’s apogee. Give yourself time to perceive and reckon with it.
October 2023’s Eclipse In Libra
To grapple with this eclipse, we must appreciate the dark side of Libra. This is the sign of the social butterfly — or, depending who you ask, the social climber — which inspires us to leave the farmhouse and hit the town square, to engage, adapt, and inevitably collect social capital. Libra rules the seventh house of relationality: How do others reflect back what we wish to see in ourselves? The best way to succeed in the meat market of public esteem is to make ourselves relatable, to show others their heart’s desire, their best self, their projected fantasy.
So what happens when a Libra shatters the mirror, breaks the projector, goes her own way? The last Libra eclipse of this cycle went down in October 2005, when the Libra Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” could be heard around the world. Stefani had made her name as a ska rock icon, and would supposedly “betray” her fans by electing mainstream pop glory, and later by marrying country singer Blake Shelton. What does Gwen Stefani owe you, exactly? Did you think she was like you, when you were a rebellious teenager? Does she have to fit your image to keep you happy? And why should she care what you think?
This eclipse arrives on the heels of the Libra Doja Cat’s new album Scarlet, originally titled Hellmouth. Days after the April eclipse, Doja called her albums Hot Pink and Planet Her “cash grabs,” laughing her way to the bank as we “fell for it.” Scarlet is harder, crueler, a dare for us to keep listening, even if we can’t trust that the joke isn’t still on us.
Of course, the Libra triumph of 2023 (and, perhaps, the century) was the trial of Gwyneth Paltrow, who was accused of a “ski and run” at a resort in Park City, Utah, back in 2016. Paltrow elected not to settle this case out of court, but to instead let the people have their show. For The New Yorker, Naomi Fry writes that “any semblance of relatability is completely absent from the Paltrow trial, which is why it makes for such an engaging watch. The actress has unabashedly leaned into every stereotype that has ever been used to label her, showing up to court, day after day, impeccably turned out in well-cut garments by leading designers, in shades of taupe, ivory, slate, and olive.” Paltrow once declared, rather infamously, that she couldn’t “pretend to be someone who makes $25,000 a year.” And why should she? So that we don’t have to inspect our own materialism, the ways we’ve played the game, and even won?
When the south node hits Libra, we learn that not every balance is worth preserving: to be powerful, but down-to-earth; beautiful, but relatable; brilliant but accommodating. When the scales are tipped, we claim what’s ours. We reveal all that’s petty, bourgeois, and moralistic in the eyes of our beholders.
How To Deal
When the “ring of fire” emerges, Mars will be at one degree of Scorpio, the sign of truth at all costs. Pluto is nearing the end of its 15 year Capricorn saga, in which it has revealed the fallacies and false promises of capitalism. Venus and Lilith are in Virgo, the sign of the once-adored, violated virgin.
How far did playing along get you? Can you count on the money to last, when you can’t maintain the approval? How have the terms of social conduct boxed you in, restrained you, crippled you in others’ expectations? The worst nightmare of a people-pleaser is the moment when we’re suddenly not enough, the look of disappointment in another’s face, the rejection we knew couldn’t be prevented — no matter how hard we tried. If we only exist in the estimation of others, we perish when they no longer have use for us.
At the time of the eclipse, the moon will be at its darkest distance from us, bungeeing into the abject dark beyond moralism. Your calling, when all this goes down? Tell the truth. Watch your worst fear come true. See what happens when you say no, when you flip your image, when you risk your flimsy social and economic standing. You will have to learn to relish in disappointing people, because it will reveal who really has your back, and who has enjoyed you as an appendage of themselves. Explore the divide between authentic relationships and calculated connections, which Samuel Delany describes in Times Square Red, Times Square Blue as contact versus networking. Of course, both modes of social progress have their place, so long as you know the difference. It’s only a game if everyone knows the rules.
In the aftermath of this eclipse, you’ll have peered into the pitch black of the moon and faced the abject horror of a society built on social capital. But own the show, and your place as its star, and you’ll ascend beyond rejection, judgment, and approval. You’ll be untouchable.