When the leaves begin to change and the air hints of frost, I am reminded of the air sign of Libra. An equilibrium is struck between day and dark and the earth hangs in balance before she commits herself full-heartedly to winter. The rustling of leaves in general makes me think of all of the air signs and the very stages that plants pass through.
Under the warm summer winds of Gemini, plants emerge and unfurl their green banners. If you’ve ever heard the fluttering sound of Poplar leaves (Populus tremuloides) as they tremble in tune with a rushing creek, you can understand this magic. Excitable little leaves shimmering in the wind, each green flag poised to pick up new, mutable, information from the winds aloft, reacting accordingly. Excited about the greening of the earth and the fresh scents put forth by summer. It’s as if the leaves are abuzz with new information that they must pass on to those who have roused from a deep winter slumber. Information is passed on at lightning speed along these spring breezes. Waking bears, and other forest creatures, understand this message system well. Green onions have sprung up in the valley! Worms are surfacing from the depths and bees begin to do their spiraling dances, indicating where honey can be found.
In the fall, the leaves turn crimson, yellow and orange. As a cardinal sign, Libra likes to initiate things and in this case, it has engineered an amazing metabolic fashion show of color. Photosynthetic pumps have been working hard all summer to create sugar stores for the tree which are now stored in the root system. Fall represents a perfect pause, a balancing act. The sun is dipping low enough on the horizon to no longer be useful for trees to photosynthesize and yet winter has not yet hit in its frozen fury. In grand Libran fashion, these dazzling colored trees pause to show off their artistic finery before it becomes necessary to shed their leaves and go dormant. It is a time of putting away, of harvest and rest. A midpoint, balanced evenly just as the equinox heralds in the evening of the days, measuring out the exact amount of sunlight to balance that of darkness. It is the Moon of Changing Leaves.
As winter winds begin to blow, the now dried leaves flutter to the ground in heaps and piles, creating a delightful crunch underfoot. It is a time of composting, of turning things back under, of compiling the materials for creating rich, dark humus. For now, though, the days are short and crisp and the nighttime stretches into eternity. Winter is, in essence, a time of death. And yet the death is necessary for the rebuilding that will occur in the spring. That is when the churned over leaves work their way into the rich dark humus revealed in the spring thaw…just as Aquarius gathers in the harvest from the previous 10 signs to mutate what it’s learned, to create something unique.
Meanwhile the sugar stores are used by the tree to survive the winter’s deep. This is akin to Aquarius mulching over what it has learned by the turning of the wheel to transmute itself into something unique. Aquarius also recognizes the beauty of all of the leaves (humankind) that contributed to the survival mechanism. The metamorphosis would have been incomplete without the contributions of many leaves, each extraordinary in their own fashion. Trusting in the death process is also a rite of this winter passage of air. It is this very trust that allows the spring rebirth to occur for when winter hits, leaves become a liability. The very fixed nature of this sign allows it to hold tight through the blustery winter months, silently churning and cogitating on what it must do to allow the metamorphosis to take place.
So, as you can see, the element of air can readily be linked to the seasons and even to life of leaves. It is all about passing on information, sharing and growing from what is learned. Transformation is also part of the process. The Gemini function gathers in the information from the four corners. Libra does something bold with it (cardinal). Think about how avant guard the entire leaf changing process is! Aquarius takes in all that it has learned from both the other functions and incubates it, so something truly unique can be reborn on the next cycle.
Aside from seasonal winds and blowing leaves, the air element also conjures other images. Violent storms can ride the winds of change as well. Swift, turbulent winds brew tornadoes and thunder storms. Ideas, which the air element represents, can be like that…sudden, over-turning, life-changing. Change is not necessarily a bad thing, but some thought should be given to what is left in its wake. Difficult angles to planets in air can cause upheaval if not handled creatively. Sometimes, however, a good storm is exactly what is needed to level the playing field of your life.
Clouds also seem like a good symbol for the air element for they can take on a variety of shapes, ideas and changing conditions. Cumulonimbus mammatus clouds, which form over the Sierras when the air is ripe for a storm in the fall, are heavy and expectant with rain. These are some of the most dramatic clouds I have ever seen. Like mammary glands, they hang heavy and hopeful with much-needed water, over a landscape parched for rain. When pressed against jutting mountains, the moisture gets squeezed into pouches and you can feel the hopeful, creative potential in the pent-up air. Horsetail clouds also portend of coming cold fronts with an uncanny accuracy. Lenticular clouds form lens-shaped shields over the mountains and can warn both of high winds aloft as well as the direction those winds are travelling. So as you can see, clouds like the air from which they are formed, herald in new information.
The element of air can bring us discoveries, scientific inventions, communication and computer technology and new ways of thinking of things. Consider the Greek scholar Archimedes.
Though some might argue that Archimedes “Eurkea!” revelation that he stumbled upon in the bathtub had to do with the element of water, I will argue that his air element had a strong say in the matter. As this Greek scholar stepped into the tub, he saw the water level rise and suddenly realized that the volume of irregular objects could be measured with precision, based upon the amount of water they displaced.
Einstein, another scientific genius, had Jupiter in Aquarius in his 9th house natally. The 9th house really represents our ability to synthesize information and to see the whole picture, while Aquarius has a strong link with science and new-age thoughts. Jupiter here would lend Einstein’s mind an expansive, seeking quality to it, one that was bent on discovering the laws of nature, of how the world worked (also emphasized by Pluto in Taurus in 11th house). His theory of relativity revolutionized the fields of physics and astronomy in our times and overturned Newtonian physics, whose ideas had held sway for two centuries prior to his discoveries. Stars, black holes and gravitational waves can be predicted with his theories and scientists today are still using his ideas to further explore additional hypotheses.
Naturally, Jupiter also lends a bit of luck to the part of our life that it touches…and with Einstein, it seems that the uniqueness of his very brain and higher thought patterns could have played a part. Besides having a larger than normal corpus collusum which connects the two hemispheres of the brain and allows for information exchange, he also had several missing brain structures such as the Sylvian fissure. Oddly, these missing bits may have encouraged other neurons present to learn how to communicate more effectively. Einstein also had more gilial cells relative to other neurons and they were stacked up in the left part of his brain in an area known as the association cortex. This part of the brain is used for synthesizing information from multiple other brain regions. So, he was graced with a forward thinking scientific brain and he relied heavily on intuition and sudden revelations to advance his theories as well.
Einstein sums up his big brain well, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and “The only real valuable thing is intuition.” He also believed that God did not randomly play dice with the Universe and that the only thing that got in the way of his learning process was our formal education system!
Aside from brilliant humans, we are not the only entity to capitalize on the element of air. Bats have done it as well. Echolocation is a form of sonar that these mammals use to locate forage. By emitting sounds and waiting for the sound to bounce back to them once they strike an object, bats are able to triangulate and find prey. Not only can they tell where an animal or insect is, but they can tell a lot about its size and other features as well. This lets them hunt in darkness and find food in places, like caves and hollowed tree trunks, where there is less competition. Again, we see an information exchange system active upon the waves of air.
Shamans, who are able to outwit time as well as space, also seem to use their minds to navigate between the worlds. Some can even shape shift into other beings by concentrating deeply and aligning their energy centers with allies. Telepathy also seems like a form of intelligence that mysteriously travels the air waves.
This fall, as we move into eclipse season, and find the air element of Libra highlighted, these are important thoughts to keep in mind. Perhaps you don’t need to shape shift, but the element of air holds a lesson for us all. What new concept do you need to master? What relationships and balancing acts must you excel at to gain the life you want? What metamorphosis needs to take place? Look at the planets you have in air signs, along with the angles they make, to get a hint of this fall’s themes.
Whether you are admiring a dust-devil, the Pythagorean theory, or the leaves of the changing moon, contemplate the amazing element of air and all that it brings to the world of being.
The winds of change are blowing. Master the learning curve and enjoy the ride.