This autumn, a scratch strikes your throat, then turns to a light cough. Is it seasonal allergies from the late-blooming ragweed and goldenrod? Or is it the other thing — the big, scary breakthrough-case thing? Once upon a time, pre-2020, you remember, people used to get colds. You’ll agonize and agonize, but you won’t be able to relax until you’re sitting in the hard plastic folding chair at the testing site, your mask pulled down to your chin. A large cotton swab is forced up your nose into the recesses of your brain. Oh brave archer, your eyes will water as the arrow of the swab is withdrawn and sealed into the bull’s eye of a thin capped tube.
For you especially, my earthy goat, it’s been a hard two years. The world is now online, and there’s no outside to temper that quiet ambition as you work and work and then work some more. This tendency comes to a crisis point in the grid-like prison of a Zoom meeting. You’ll try to participate, let your ideas flow into the conversation, but you’ll be met with only silence. You’ll question if you spoke at all. Throughout the meeting, no matter how many suggestions you put forward, issues and contingencies you raise, no one seems to hear you. Again and again, you’ll speak — and still you’re overlooked, unremarked upon. You’ll feel your horns burn in embarrassment and confusion. There is a part of you, dear Capricorn, that worries you are not enough. It’s why you’ve trained yourself to compensate through diligently working yourself to the hoofs. You want the reassurance from others that you are listened to, that your contributions matter, have impact. As the Zoom meeting zooms, you’ll ask yourself if your work is valuable. What do you really provide? Finally, once again you’ll attempt to speak up, and once again, no one seems to respond. That is, until the kind voice of your colleague (probably a Cancer) calls out to you, “Hey, I think you’re on mute.”
There’s a gregarious energy coming from the eleventh house bringing you an invitation to an actual house party, my sweet water bearer of good times. However, the invite is unclear about whether the party is indoors or out. Do you go? You play it off as eternally independent, but truthfully there’s nothing you love more than a crowd to stand out from. When you ask the host about the location, the answer is ambiguous. Everyone can do whatever they are “comfortable with.” Oh Aquarius, you know better than anyone how a gathering erodes your inhibitions. How even if you promise yourself that you’ll stay on the porch the whole evening, you can imagine what might happen as the sun recedes and you start to shiver. How tempting the lights and warmth will look through the windows, how you’ll gradually make your way inside. It will feel so good to temporarily suspend your knowledge of the risks of indoor gatherings and let yourself be enfolded into the overstuffed room, bodies anchovied together. You tell yourself you’ll stay six feet from everyone, but soon this promise relaxes into dancing. You’ll love the feel of other humans moving together. It’s so pleasurable, but no matter how much you try to ignore it, a niggling part of your brain will wonder if it’s worth it.
You will wash your hands, you will wash your hands, you will wash your hands, you will wash your hands, you will wash your hands, you will wash your hands, you will wash your hands. Your skin is chapped and cracked and peeling, but you will wash your hands. If twenty seconds with your hands under the water is good, why not two minutes? Why not twenty? You will wash your hands, you will wash your hands, you will wash your hands. Your days will be spent in front of the tap, the warm water spilling over your fingers. Your palms are open; you are safe.
Scorpio in your eighth house brings a time of possibility and possible confusion. This fall, your workplace announces a return to the office. “Okay,” you think, “that will be an adjustment.” Then senior leadership says, “No, wait — we’ll continue virtually.” Then a week later, a “hybrid model” is announced, in which half the staff works mornings in the office, then commutes home for virtual WFH afternoons. Then, it is declared, “Just kidding! You’re all working in the office all of the time, always, forever.” Then, “No, wait — we have no idea. Stay tuned.” Then, “Why aren’t you in the office?” Then, “Why aren’t you at home?” All in all, my sweet ram, you’ll have no idea where you are or where you are supposed to be, and maybe now is a good time to embrace being lost.
You’ve always appreciated the finer things in life, even though you know capitalism is, pardon the pun, bullshit. This transit sees you moving into your most materialistic instincts. While things are open, you’re soaking it in, going to every store. You’re an Earth sign, so you’re filling your abode with fancy plants: a striped alocasia with lily-pad leaves, a ponytail-shaped palm, some stringy, dangling succulents. You’ll buy a perfect pot to match each. There are such thrills to be found in a new sweater, new sneakers, a new plush bath mat. Oh, the ecstasy of no longer being limited to the essentials! You’ll go for coffee at your favourite patio. As you sip the skyscraper-high latte foam, you’ll try to ignore the small voice scratching questions into the back of your mind: How long can this last? When will we be locked down?
You’re an expert in multiples and dualities, and so you recognize there probably won’t be just a fourth wave. Will there be a fifth wave? What about a sixth? A seventh? An eighth wave? A hundredth? A thousandth wave in which your imaginary grandchildren (coincidentally twins) never leave the homepod and you tell them stories of days before our Amazon and Zoom overlords? You’ll tell them about when you used to casually wrap your arms around someone else. But they aren’t listening to you, old Gemini — they’re distracted by their portable holograms. But you remember. You remember. You remember.
Tiny crab, hard shell on the outside, but there is much in store for your tender underbelly. Someone, a casual acquaintance perhaps, will ask you for a hug, and you will have to ask yourself so much in the short span of a second. You know your pincers are meant to grab, to feel and touch and comfort, but still, you’ll need to assess. How long have you known the hug seeker? Are they vaccinated or do they look like someone who might refuse? They are not wearing a Hugs Over Masks shirt, but sometimes these things aren’t advertised. Is there any way to know? You’ll feel the claw of obligatory social pressure to wrap your bodies together in an embrace. Will their cheek rest against yours? Will you feel their breath hot, warm and moist against your neck?
Leo the amorous lion, the lover, ruler of the fifth house, romance blows in for you this autumn like leaves in a windstorm, swirling their way across the pavement. All this to say, you will meet someone, perhaps online. Maybe their messages, their gentle banter will woo you to a blanket spread across the grass in a park. It’s still warm, the mane of the sun sinks into the sky, a bottle of juicy red wine, tiny plastic cups. The twilight and cicadas will seduce you, and then your lover’s lips on yours, the flick of a tongue against your teeth. Oh! The euphoria! After the kiss, you’ll laugh. What a release after the last two years. How much life to still be found. Leo, my entertainer. You’ll make a joke like a good lover does, something teasing like, “You’re not an anti-vaxxer are you?” Oh kitten, how the laughter will fade into the awkward silence that follows. Your lover holds you close, softly whispers in your ear, “Well, actually, the term we prefer is individuals for vaccine choice.”
My Virgo, my innocent one, if only all were so conscientious. Neptune’s wayward orbit brings chaos to your organization — your bookshelves organized pleasingly by spine colour, the letters on your label maker worn and shadowed from use, your inbox always a lovely, symmetrical zero. This season, you’ll find yourself in the deli aisle at the grocery store. A loud woman demanding porchetta will stand too close to you while you wait. You’ll shift away, but as if a magnet is attached to your feet, she’ll move closer again, closing the gap between you. When you look back at her, you’ll realize her mask has slipped threateningly beneath her nose — droplets, droplets, droplets as she receives her ham. As you wait for your order to be prepared, you’ll notice the woman remove her mask completely, shove it beneath her chin, and begin to munch on the ham straight from the deli wrapper, little bits of meat stuck like floss to her lips. Shy one, we both know you won’t say anything in the moment, but as you exit the store, you’ll sanitize three times with the thick, gluey alcohol from the automated dispenser and wonder if you’ll ever feel clean again.
Libra the equalizer, weighing and balancing every choice, every decision. At times this makes you wishy-washy, never more so than right now. You’ve been envisioning a trip for so long, through all the lockdowns. This was your escape. Envisioning a beach, specifically, your birthday on a beach! Toes in ocean, skin glittering with heat and sand. But should you go? Should you book a trip right now? Can you? Do you have to isolate before your flight or upon your return? Is it even morally responsible to fly? To go away? Oh Libra, so many thoughts resting on the heavy shoulders of your scales.
You can’t stop looking at all the masks on the ground: disposable blue, black, pink. My sweet scorpion, it stings how you recognize that they must cover the world over. You’re remembering the sun in summer, the bright alien-red furnace of it through the smoke from forest fires. It feels surreal, like sci-fi, but it’s also the most real thing you’ve ever known. Our weather, our climate is changing. Evidence is everywhere and you’re just one small arachnid, miniature and powerless. All has not ended, though. Remember, you are still here: to witness, to survive. Even at the finish, there is still joy to be found.