Libra Equinox, Mercury Direct and…New Vacuum Cleaners

By Amanda Painter

Sometimes even when things are most frustrating or confusing, the universe will offer a little humor. Case in point: just before writing this on Wednesday, which is trash day in my neighborhood, I took a walk. Along the way, I saw a total of three empty vacuum cleaner boxes, and another box for some other cleaning device, in the recycling bins.

Morning fog dissipating over a silvery sea. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Morning fog dissipating over a silvery sea. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Why is this funny to me?

Because today, Thursday, Mercury stationed direct in Virgo at 1:31 am EDT (5:30:30 UTC).

And it did so with the Sun in the last degree of Virgo — the Sun enters Libra at 10:21 am EDT today (14:21:03 UTC), for the Libra equinox and the beginning of a new season. But at the time of my walk, the Sun was at the far edge of Virgo.

Now, Virgo is a sign closely associated with being (or getting) organized and focused on the details, and putting a plan into action. All those new vacuum cleaners seemed to suggest a common experience of people wanting to tidy up better.

Yet, at the same time, I had to wonder: with Mercury retrograde, did these people actually get the best vacuum for their needs? Will it work right? Will they have to return it for a more suitable model?

Regardless of those details, the sightings made for an amusing illustration of the astrology: After journeying deep into Virgo and acquiring a new tool (vacuum), you release the parts that are not necessary (the box), and then you’re free to use the tool productively.

Or to put it in more psychological terms: perhaps this Mercury retrograde has reacquainted you with previously learned lessons about areas of your life where you need a better plan or more organization; or thought patterns that are either self-critical or self-creative; or old ideas about service and work. If you’ve experienced insights along any of those themes (or others — you get to decide what this retrograde ‘meant’ for you), ask yourself: What is the tool that you can now use moving forward?

What things surrounding that insight are actually unnecessary to carry with you? For example, do you need to keep re-living a negative experience to use its lessons as a tool now? That sounds like baggage, to me; or, if you prefer, an empty box that you can safely put out with the recycling rather than keep in the hallway of your psyche. Who needs that clutter?

Which brings me to the Libra equinox today: the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and a time when everyone on Earth experiences equal amounts of light and dark. We get a very literal image of balance, and Libra is symbolized by a set of scales.

Yet Libra is also a cardinal sign, and cardinal signs are known for taking initiative. Chances are there’s something you’re itching to get started on — though whether you’ve worked out all the details or feel like the timing is right is another question (thanks, Mercury!).


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If you’ve felt like the Sept. 16 Full Moon did not dissipate as much energy as you had hoped it would, a stormy Mercury plus the Sun at the end of a sign and a season might be contributing to the edginess, along with some other factors. How do you deal with that?

In the first degree of Libra, waiting for the Sun, is a lesser-known centaur object named Elatus. Astrologer Zane Stein, known for his research on the centaurs, notes that Elatus has a direct relationship to Chiron in myth. So we know that a process of bringing awareness to a situation is being invoked. Stein mentions that Elatus in a chart might relate to fleeing a situation before things get worse — or fleeing before you reach your potential.

Yet Stein also mentions that the Sabian symbol for the discovery degree of Elatus describes building a bridge across a deep gorge: group cooperation over separateness.

If Mercury retrograde and the Sun in Virgo have found you critical of something, and with good reason, what constitutes fair and balanced action now? Is there a bridge to be built with others — or with yourself?

Or to switch metaphors, is it time to discard an empty box of mental baggage and use your new tools in creative, rather than destructive, ways?

Whatever your answer, you don’t need to be in a rush to get up to speed. Mercury will take a few days to work out its kinks, which means you’ll want to go slowly and double-check everything before you hit ‘send’ or sign on the dotted line. Even small, quiet, balanced steps are a start that a Libra Sun can support.

13 thoughts on “Libra Equinox, Mercury Direct and…New Vacuum Cleaners

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Lizzy — I’ll be curious to hear if anybody else has anything to say about Elatus. As I read about the point, I found myself saying “ah ha!” about a couple of its potential themes, regarding people around me and their decisions — which was a fascinating feeling.

  1. Len Wallick

    Amanda: Amazing observation about vacuum cleaners. While I can’t afford to buy one, i’m actively looking to borrow one at this time. Combine your worldly observations (and your call on the astrological correlations) with those in Amanda Moreno’s column today, and we get a really resonant and practical perspective – at least in regards to what many of us are facing on a personal level. Thank you for that. As you say, small, quiet and balanced steps do indeed seem to be the ticket. Right on.

  2. Michael Mayes

    My department head heard me out, and he’s willing to let me do an independent study for the remainder of the semester. That way I stay in the program, and can be excused from the “production machine”, if you will. This newfound path allows for self-creativity, or even “non-creativity” as we discussed the idea of “not creating anything” and how that manifests in the context of my journey as an artist. He helped me see how this situation can be flipped on its head, and become fruitful ground to create something of authentic substance.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      “He helped me see how this situation can be flipped on its head, and become fruitful ground to create something of authentic substance.”

      Sounds like a perfect Mercury station illustration, doesn’t it? Perspective shifts are always so incredibly beneficial.

      1. Lizzy

        “Perspective shifts are always so incredibly beneficial.” Yes – hard to do – but wonderful when one can. Well done for challenging the course status quo, Michael!

  3. Heather

    Yes Amanda,” Or to switch metaphors, is it time to discard an empty box of mental baggage and use your new tools in creative, rather than destructive, ways?” and insights galore along the way, mind you they do inch their way along so to speak until a mighty paradigm shift occurs.

    Indeed, what if we saw these moments as the esoteric equivalent of ‘cleaning’ out our auras of negative energy?

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      “Indeed, what if we saw these moments as the esoteric equivalent of ‘cleaning’ out our auras of negative energy?”

      Heather — I’m definitely a fan of the idea that any kind of clearing/cleaning/reorganizing is beneficial on levels other than the one we’re working on (or *think* we’re working on). Though it might not all happen at the same time; I’ve definitely experienced that working the process on one level can gradually lead to similar effects elsewhere, including just the desire or motivation to create that clearing/de-cluttering effect.

  4. rachael harrod

    Amanda, your comment about elatus is spot fucking on for me…and comforting as well, seeing as this is what has been front in center for awhile in my life, in a very complicated relationship. It’s been building, and the thing that hangs me is the fleeing before you (we) reach the potential part. It mentally feels like stick a fork in it, but my heart still sees potential. or am I just in denial?( or am I NOT?) As far as re-living the negative experience to use the lessons as a tool? thank you for that brilliant visualization of what I’ve been doing and have been aware that i’m doing, but still hadn’t been able to shake…until, yesterday.

    mercury retro in virgo and the eclipses have held me in an exquisite tormenting mental space that felt like shards of glass…a song one hates that persists singing in your head, and no volume control! and it felt like it was climaxing daily (like the end of that beatles song whose name escapes me, with the chaotic crescendo that suddenly ends)

    yesterday, we blew of the day and just went to lake george in the adirondacks, took a boat out for awhile. just soaked in the shift in energy….finally my mind went quiet and receptive….I received the missing puzzle piece inspiration..and at that moment, a bald eagle flew over me and holy shit, what a message…2 hours later, a monarch butterfly, over the water, over me.
    great spirits blessing and a message of transformation…and a message of balance. and love.

    thank you amanda!
    getting out my vacuum cleaner!

  5. Amanda Painter Post author

    rachael harrod — damn, you sound like you are IN IT!

    Thank you for affirming those thoughts on Elatus. Goddess knows I’ve seen those themes in friends and in my own life, and for sure: getting stuck on the mental level and the double-bind of “wait — which thought is DENIAL, and which is my TRUTH??” is maddening.

    Your animal symbols are just gorgeous; I’ve seen a few monarchs this last week, which is heartening — since a couple years or so went by with none at all.

    (Oh, ant that Beatles song: are you thinking of “A Day in the Life,” or another one? That’s the one that finally ends with the huge piano chord that slowly dissipates. But there’s another one that ends with this cacophony of babbling voices… blanking on which one that is…)

  6. rachael harrod

    I still don’t know exactly which is denial and which is my truth, but I can sit in peace knowing that for now It’s ok that I don’t fucking know! ya know what I mean? 🙂
    A day in the life! that is it!
    the monarch was such a blessing….they were all over when I was a kid, we always raised and released them in grade school…I saw none, last year…2 this year and now one on the lake. It is heartening!

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