Welcome to Scorpio season … the darkest, gothest, most glamorously sinister time of the year. If Libra season was like a charming brunch with well-mannered guests, Scorpio season’s more like a murder-mystery dinner party: all about getting down and dirty in other people’s business, about probing the depths of humanity. At least, that’s part of the story.

Scorpio season runs from about October 23 to November 22 (give or take a day, depending on the year). During this time, scary things happen with regularity — Halloween, for example, and U.S. presidential elections. The scorpion is the most menacing of the astrological glyphs, and in ancient astrology, Scorpio was often associated with outright evil. So how scared should you be?

While this sign’s reputation for darkness isn’t wholly unfounded, it doesn’t give you the complete picture, either. After all, life isn’t bright or happy or fair all the time. This season offers all of us (not just the Scorpios!) a much-needed chance to look beneath the surface and acknowledge our own (and each other’s) complexities, shadows, and depths.

The primary Scorpio characteristics are intensity, perceptiveness, and a quiet, assured kind of power. Scorpio has two ruling planets: Mars, the planet of action, aggression, and desire; and Pluto, the planet of transformation, rebirth, and our subconscious forces. People are often surprised to hear that Scorpio is not, as they assume, a bold and aggressive fire sign, but rather a water sign, which are typically perceptive, intuitive, and emotional. Scorpio energy is certainly intense and powerful, but it isn’t loud; rather, it has a deep, thrumming core of determination. Scorpio has a laser-sharp focus, a powerful drive, and a strong desire to probe and get to the bottom of things. Scorpio is about depth, not appearances. Scorpio isn’t afraid of anything, even the darkest truths.

More than anything else, you should expect this to be a season of intensity. This might mean that you’re not able or inclined to let things go. It might mean that you’re quicker to become jealous or suspicious. Don’t be surprised if other people in your life respond to your actions with this kind of intensity, too.

At its best, Scorpio season can lend you an energy of fearlessness: a refusal to be intimidated by anyone or anything, or to accept answers that are easy but untrue. You can use this energy to ask provocative questions to surprise people, to disrupt your own and other people’s social comfort. Scorpio season is the best astrological backdrop you could ask for if you want to go to parties alone, or enter new and intimidating social spaces, or shout down senators in restaurants.

Scorpio is often stereotyped as the most sex-focused of all the signs, and for sure, Scorpio season might have you feeling sexual in ways more intense than you’re used to. It might have you speaking the desires you’ve repressed, or finally acting on what your body has long wanted. But Scorpio desire doesn’t have to be only about sex itself, but about experiences of intimacy and intensity, about feeling a personal and immediate connection to the world in all its wildness and depth.

Depending on the rest of your astrological chart, all this intensity might or might not sound exactly fun, but either way it can be tremendously rewarding and freeing, if you let it. Scorpio season might ask you to refuse to settle for less than what you really desire — and to figure out what that actually is. If you’re typically focused on comfort, or on harmony, or on success and prestige, this season can offer an invitation to rethink this, to put all that aside. What is it you really desire? What is it you really need?

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