The Sun enters Libra at the autumn equinox Monday morning, so this is an occasion to continue my series on the signs of the Zodiac.

Libra is a cardinal air sign, ruled by Venus. It is all about using communication to create harmony and balance between people. My mnemonic for Libra is “finder of the song”.

Libra energy is diplomatic, esthetic, sociable, and indecisive. Although air is the element of intellect, in Venus-ruled Libra air is more about communication and interaction, rather than academic abstractions. Libra seeks interaction, connection, and relationship, and the reciprocal give-and-take of thoughts and ideas is the medium through which this goal is pursued.

Libra often takes on the role of a harmonizer, negotiator, collaborator, lover, or counselor. Libra will seek to consider the needs of others and to smooth out conflict whenever possible. Libra, like all cardinal signs, is looking for self-understanding and a sense of identity. Ironically (and perhaps profoundly), Libra sees reciprocity and relationship as the key to self discovery.

Libra is susceptible to certain traps, mostly having to do with focusing on others rather than self: low assertiveness, difficulty with tough choices, and fear of independence are all common Libra troubles. Libra can also sometimes become caught up in appearances, more concerned with being attractive and surrounded by attractive people and things than with getting to the bottom of things. Libra’s desire for harmony can make it unwilling to “stir the waters”, settling instead for the appearance of contentment.

The indecisiveness of Libra is an astrological cliché, but it should not be assumed that Libra is unable to commit or choose. Rather, Libra is concerned with the consequences of decisions, for both self and (especially) others. Libra needs to feel that the evidence has been weighed, the different viewpoints considered, and the impacts thought through. This is a process that can take some time and deliberation (like a court case), but there is a conclusion to be reached in the end. Libra just takes more time and thought to reach the conclusion than more impulsive signs are used to.

Planets in Libra tend to operate through the filter of interpersonal relationships, uncomfortable with both the narrowness of self-focused activities and the loftiness of societal or philosophical concerns. More than the other cardinal signs, however, Libra has ways of connecting with the energy of the other elements. Its esthetic sense keeps it connected with the physical, and its focus on relationships ensures that emotional realities do not take a back seat for long.

People born under a Libra Sun are called to explore and create relationship. As a Libran grows and matures, he or she comes to see interpersonal connection as life’s most meaningful goal. If the person has strong interpersonal skills to begin with, this project can get off to a rapid start. That’s not necessarily a good thing, however, as an eager Libran can pursue relationship at the expense of self-centering and self-knowledge. The challenge will be to understand that a clear sense of identity is a prerequisite to a strong relationship. Libras whose childhood or other astrological influences give them a taste of nonsocial ways of living may actually have an easier time of it in the long run.

With the Moon in Libra, a person is likely to see relationships as a source of comfort, a safety net to retreat to when life’s challenges become too intense. The Libra Moon needs happy, easy-going friendships and romantic partnerships for nourishment and support, although they may not reveal this need to people outside their trusted circle. Whereas a Libra Sun is willing to work hard at crafting the perfect relationship, the Libra Moon needs relationships that are more-or-less free of trouble and issues.

Libra as a rising sign bestows a great deal of charm and “people skills”. Such people fit in naturally in a variety of social situations, and help others get along. They can also be flirtatious, engaging, and attentive to others. A person with Libra rising is never at a lack for something to do as long as there are people around. Behind the affable mask, however, there may be motivations that are more personal and private. Others may mistake the charm and attention for a deeper or more intense interest. Being easy to get along with is sometimes a mixed blessing. The challenge for people with Libra rising is to let other see your true needs and opinions, beneath your agreeability.