A 1961 Israeli postal stamp depicting Virgo, the sign of the month of Elul. (Photo/Flickr-Karen Horton CC BY-NC 2.0)
A 1961 Israeli postal stamp depicting Virgo, the sign of the month of Elul. (Photo/Flickr-Karen Horton CC BY-NC 2.0)

Month of Elul: Repentance begins at home

Elul 5780

Aug. 20-Sept. 18, 2020

Elul’s theme is teshuva (repentance) — turning away from what is neither useful nor profitable, rerouting toward the correct direction as we prepare our hearts for the upcoming High Holidays. Our experience of the Divine during Elul is one of accessibility (“the King is in the field,” as the saying goes) as well as intimacy (Elul’s letters stand for “ani l’dodi v’dodi li – I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”). Recognizing the heart’s beloved takes humility and spiritual discernment, both of which are the superpowers of Virgo/Betulah, Elul’s ruling constellation.

The full Pisces/Dagim moon and in Capricorn/Gidi September 1 empowers harmonious reconciliation, deep emotional understanding, and powerfully transformative words of healing and hope. But externally there is a lot of conflict with aggressive, war-like Mars/Ma’adim stations retrograde September 9 in his home sign of Aries/Taleh.

Elul’s challenge is to resist internalizing these conflicting energies. Doing the inner work is crucial now, and external conflicts distract from the heart-cleansing Elul comes to facilitate. Use Virgo’s tremendous analytical powers to examine exactly what’s worth fighting for and what must be released.

Another distraction is the temptation to criticize others for not doing as you do, especially powerful during Mercury/Kochav’s square to Jupiter at the Virgo new moon September 17. Virgo’s tribal ruler Gad is symbolized by armed troops: Let those soldiers stand at the gates of your mouth, turning back harsh, judgmental words. Unless you’re setting a public example and modeling how to do the right thing, criticizing others comes off as hypocritical. Elul’s focus is on getting your own house in order, not ordering others. Teshuva begins at home, in your own heart, and nowhere else.


Planetary ruler Mars/Ma’adim in his home sign of Aries gives you a workout during the rest of 2020, starting with a square to Saturn/Shabbatai August 24, before stationing retrograde September 9. Prepare for a journey backward through November 13, returning to a crucial decision-making point you encountered between July 25-29 of this year. Tribal ruler Yehuda modeled teshuva at a similar decision-making point. Venus/Noga and Mars square September 4 with Moon in Aries, setting up relationship ultimatums between the desire for stability and the need for action. Avoid impulsive behavior by calculating consequences.


Taurus’ Tribal ruler Issachar produced 200 heads of the Sanhedrin, and the rest of the people followed their decisions. Model Issachar’s wise leadership when Venus/Noga in home- and family-oriented Cancer opposes Saturn/Shabbatai in work- and career-centric Capricorn/Gidi September 2. This difficult transit triggers feelings of loneliness, insecurity and fear of deprivation. Don’t demand ultimatums when Venus squares Mars/Ma’adim September 4, with Mercury/Kochav at the last degree of critical, hyper-analytic Virgo/Betulah. Beware of wounding words which cannot be unheard or unsaid, especially after Venus enters prideful Leo/Aryeh September 7.


Mercury/Kochav’s trine to Pluto on the full Pisces/Dagim moon September 1 births transcendent, healing and transformative magic words; speak to your own heart and free yourself from toxic secrets you’ve kept too long. Creative chaos morphs into fresh structure at Mercury’s trine to Saturn/Shabbatai September 3, your inner beauty and balance is restored September 5 when Mercury enters Libra/Moznayim. Last quarter Gemini moon September 10 completes your current cycle; travel light like tribal ruler Zevulon and prepare for unexpected changes of directions physically and emotionally, as restlessness ratchets up and patience diminishes.


Full Pisces/Dagim moon September 1 confirms intuitive wisdom. Your natural empathetic nature connects intimately with those who most need your sympathy and support. Last quarter moon in Gemini/T’omim September 10 reveals hidden motivations behind some of your actions. You may shock yourself with the realization that what drives you hardest is no longer relevant; you’ve grown beyond old paradigms and now must adjust your trajectory to meet new goals. Trust your analytical discernment at the new Virgo/Betulah moon September 17; your instincts are usually correct when it comes to evaluating what’s for real, and whether it’s really for you.


Tribal leader Shimon put his values on the line when defending the honor of his sister Dinah in the matter of Shechem. If your personal values are not aligned with your material valuables now, deficits of both heart and bank balance are possible. Sun trine Uranus/Oron September 2 empowers major career changes. Sun trine Jupiter/Tzedek September 9 casts favorable light on roles in which you are of practical service. Sun opposite Neptune/Rahav September 11 shines an accurate spotlight on potential distortions around shared resources. And Sun trine Pluto September 14 supercharges your personal power and charisma.


Elul is your annual spiritual recharge. The full Pisces/Dagim moon September 1 with Mercury/Kochav’s trine to Pluto primes powerful words of truth you’ve struggled to articulate to a partner. Though you’re famously analytical, you haven’t yet figured out how to have your cake and eat it too; this is because you fear sharing your truth with your significant other will be the dealbreaker in a relationship you value. Trust that you’ve built something lasting and speak truth with love when Mercury trines Saturn/Shabbatai September 3 and sextiles Venus/Noga September 4 before moving into Libra/Moznayim September 5.


God stopped the sun and moon for tribal leader Ephraim’s descendant, Joshua ben Nun, and you may require a similar cosmic miracle during the sobering Venus/Noga-Saturn/Shabbatai opposition September 2. Take a significant pause as this transit recalibrates the planet of love, inspiring her to set her house in order. With social activities severely curtailed, you may feel all dressed up with nowhere to go, and frustration tempts you to rebel September 15 at Venus’ square to iconoclastic Uranus/Oron. Stick to the plan and resist getting sidetracked!


Mercury/Kochav trine Pluto at the full Pisces/Dagim moon September 5, powerfully initiating deeply transformative and healing communications between you and a beloved. Relationship repairs are empowered during Mars/Ma’adim’s retrograde September 9-November 13. Sun’s trine to Pluto September 14 empowers radical change; wherever you’ve felt stuck in the past is exactly where you may now blast through the rock with the powerful dynamite of the enlarged consciousness you’ve worked so hard to develop. You’re able to see yourself in the light of your new growth, and to hold space to examine past actions with equanimity.


The trine of the sun to Jupiter/Tzedek September 9 is a spiritual chiropractic, re-aligning your perspective on your career. Repair your ambiguous relationship to work and money. Tribal leader Benjamin’s portion included the Holy of Holies; stop devaluing your most sacred space and realize how protecting your most precious assets — your time and attention — increases your value. Resync with your spiritual ideals; Jupiter’s retrograde, which began mid-May, gave you the opportunity to review your deepest beliefs, ends September 12. Mercury/Kochav square Jupiter at the new Virgo/Betulah moon September 17; time to negotiate a better deal.


Tribal leader Dan’s task guarding the borders was probably a lonely one. Venus/Noga opposite Saturn/Shabbatai September 2 illuminates your own sense of isolation when allowing work to consume your life. Don’t downplay the effect this has on you. Overwork is taxing your emotional health. Take advantage of the Mercury/Kochav trine Saturn September 3; ideas to streamline responsibilities and allow more intimacy pop like lightbulbs on an overloaded circuit. Sun’s trine to Saturn September 17 at the Virgo/Betulah new moon smooths ruffled feelings, revealing answers. Challenge yourself to accept affection without calculating the price.


Tribal leader Asher’s generosity to others is legendary; showing generosity to yourself now is your challenging task. Sun’s trine Uranus/Oron September 2 resurrects moribund ideas, enlivening original insights into almost everything except the deepest secrets of your own heart. Venus/Noga in Leo/Aryeh from September 6 onward wants attention, warmth, laughter and adoration; what are you doing that’s making you too busy to pay attention to her? Conflicted feelings arise when Venus squares Uranus September 15, weighing the need for closeness and love with the price of relinquishing uniqueness. Allowing intimacy does not invalidate your individuality!


Moshe’s blessing to tribal ruler Naftali included total satisfaction with his portion. Your task now is to feel satisfied with yours. The full boon in sensitive, psychic Pisces September 1 with a supportive sextile to powerful Pluto and trine to communicative Mercury/Kochav empowers you to speak with the kind of love which enables a great release of toxic emotional baggage now. Sun opposite Neptune/Rahav September 11 sheds practical light on ideals, dreams and visions; Jupiter/Tzedek’s direct station September 12 empowers manifestation of the most viable and likely of these to succeed in your material world.

Lorelai Kude
Lorelai Kude

Lorelai Kude began her career as a professional astrologer in the 1980s. She holds a BA in Journalism from San Francisco State University and a MA in Jewish Studies from Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union, where her thesis topic was astrology in Jewish cultural history. Find more of her work at astrolojew.com.