Planet Waves Weekly | By Eric Francis
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For Friday, January 24th, 2003 | Version 2.0

In the News

Dear Friend and Client:

In its winter edition, The Mountain Astrologer, considered by many to be the English-speaking world's best-respected astrology journal, published an essay on The State of Astrology by Jeff Jawer. The article takes readers on a VIP tour of the astrological profession, at one point commenting, "Recent trends in astrology seem to place more importance on rediscovering older principles and techniques than creating new ones."

Travelling back in time is certainly popular these days. For example, spin-off projects of Project Hindsight (founded by Roberts Hand, Schmidt and Zoller) continue to translate ancient astrological texts from Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Romulan, providing modern practitioners with morsels from the smorgasboard of early astrological wisdom. (Speaking of early, one night at about 4 a.m. during a Project Hindsight conference, I strolled into a motel room in Ithaca, NY to discover a cabal of beer-crazed astrologers sitting around a table. They had somehow translated a variety of complicated antique astrological rules into Tinker Toys, and were assembling Rob Hand's chart in the form of a precarious wood sculpture, piece by piece, growing more exuberant each time they made a new connection.)

Curiously, The State of Astrology essay omits historical developments in the past 25 years in the field of Centaur planet research, with major developments concentrated in the past six years. Nary is there a passing reference to this field of study, despite it being the subject of numerous Internet discussion groups, several excellent web pages, articles, several books, a variety of conference lectures and assorted ongoing rants. This omission struck me as particularly odd, given that astrologers are using new planets to develop counseling techniques, as well as map out the territory of previously unrecognized domains of consciousness, which is just what modern astrology (and its first cousin, transpersonal psychology) is usually hired on to do. Astrologers have, rather amazingly, also become involved with the process of naming newly-discovered planets, working directly with scientists at the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, MA. Break out the Tinker Toys. This is news.

New planets are more than just new little Chinese glyphs in the chart. They are more than theoretical. They are actual planets, just like Mars, but more like Pluto. They work in cycles, their transits are associated with major developments in many people's lives. They are small, but so are you; look what you get done.

But they make us work. New planets cause us to rethink our astrology. They cause us to look at our own charts and see them as strange territory. They cause us to ask questions that haven't been asked before, and many that woefully need asking again. They make us do research and wonder what the heck that aspect means and what Kepler or Dane Rudhyar would have thought. They remind us of what we don't want to know about, and of miracles that we'd be a lot happier for remembering.

New planets represent, in broad terms, two vital elements of reality. One is they begin identify a spiritual or psychological processes within the psyche, that is, things happening inside you and me. They help us see, define, understand and work with a pattern of life we might not otherwise notice.

Second is they point to processes developing within the culture. A new planet, as do all planets, will work on a collective scale as well as individual. In some way, they describe part of all of us. An attribute or quality that we all have in common can take up a life of its own in the world -- as a collective sense of the world, an event, a movement, or specific collective experiences. As astrologers examine the mythology and psychology of a planet, checking for its presence in the charts of world events and listening carefully for its messages within the culture, it's possible to get a sense of the news while it's happening.

Here's a quiz. Casting the 9-Eleven chart with the major planets, 65 asteroids and all the named Centaurs and objects beyond Pluto (about 84 objects total), which of them appears closest to the midheaven, that is, the symbolically highest point in the chart? The answer is Pandora, of the infamous Pandora's Box.

The Chiron-Mercury Conjunction

This essay is being written under the influence of a Mercury-Chiron conjunction, at the moment of the Mercury station-direct. Mercury has slowed down and is stationing exactly in the degree Chiron now occupies. Because Mercury moves rather like plutonium for a couple of days, the conjunction lasts a veritable eternity; Mercury is usually the fastest planet, but when stationing it is temporarily the slowest. Since the discovery of Chiron in 1977, it has occurred only one prior time that Mercury has stationed (either retrograde or direct) in Chiron's exact degree, on Oct. 13, 1995.

Such an event, mainly because it's so rare, has the ability give us a picture of something emerging in the world.

The best keywords I've developed for Chiron are raising of awareness. But of what? Usually, of the processes that initially hurt us but in the end empower us. In Capricorn on the collective level (not so much the individual), we see themes of corporations, government, authority figures and parents -- and all their issues. That all has certainly been on the agenda during the 13 months Chiron has been transiting Capricorn, and high on the agenda lately. Typically, all of the above-named suspects function best when they're working on the sly. They thrive in the dark. When you think of Chiron in Capricorn, imagine a Centaur walking around with a huge search light, illuminating the dank cellar where Kenny Lay is cheating his best friends at poker.

Now let's add Mercury. Here, we have the chart's strongest element signifying individual consciousness -- that is, the mind -- as well as the mass media. In our era, they are closely related. We think we're those people on TV and they think they're us. Because Mercury is involved, it's reasonable to ask how we are experiencing this particular time frame as individuals within our own minds. What is our perception of the world, and how is it changing?

On one level, Mercury-Chiron can feel a little like madness. We might think the mind is splitting open, revealing its inner workings. In Capricorn, perhaps we're glimpsing the inner cosmos of mama and papa, who have bombs strapped under their wings and are headed for the Persian Gulf, or who wreaked havoc on us as children. True, not all parents are evil.

Mercury-Chiron can also point to unusual revelations or communication, or an aspect of thought that exceeds the boundaries of known mental patterns. It is, in a word, about something unusual. Chiron is the master of breaking the rules, or remaking the rules, or being the exception to the rule. This is rarely for the mere joy of rebellion; there is almost always a deeper mission involved.

Earlier Wednesday, during the Mercury station, this was the lead story on MSNBC, front and center:

"PARIS -- A day after President Bush scolded allies who might shrink from a war against Iraq, France and Germany reiterated their commitment Wednesday to avert a conflict, saying they were determined to find a peaceful solution."

Several hours later, the story about France and Germany thinking they're independent countries was shored up with some tough talk against Saddam:

"PARIS -- Even as U.S. President Bush was locked in a fierce diplomatic struggle with allies over possible war with Iraq, he upped the ante with the regime in Baghdad on Wednesday. After scolding European allies for their reluctance to back his war plans, Bush warned Iraqi military commanders not to use chemical or biological weapons on invading U.S. troops -- even if ordered to by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Despite Bush’s growing impatience, France and Germany stood firmly against military action."

This is a very special kind of anti-war protest. It's more than hippies on Market Street.

It must be so annoying. They're trying to sell the war story and France and Germany won't play along. Somebody should kick those idiots out of Epcot Center. And who do those weapons inspectors think they are?

Asbolus, Neptune, Hidalgo and the New Moon

Does it matter what is true?

Once the subject of truth comes up, some among the philosophically-minded will tell you there is no such thing, that truth is relative, that it changes, that it's an individual perception, that everyone has their own truth, and that what we think of as truth is usually incomplete. But let's be practical. Is it true that it's safer, as a general rule, to drive through a green light, or a red light?

When we look at the media, for example, MSNBC or cable television news, we are presented with a picture of reality. The picture is designed to draw us in, to make us feel like we're part of something. We hear again and again about the president's approval rating, for example. Who are those 9 out of 10 people I never seemed to meet, and who are the 6 out of 10 who so vehemently approve of him today, none of whom I ever seem to meet?

We are being presented with the illusion of a cultural identity that is fully aligned with George Bush and his stated objectives. Who is this person Bush? Who is delivering the message to us? Why does it work so well, and what, pray tell, might allow us to see through it? And why does it even matter?

On the first day of February, there is a New Moon in Aquarius. Astrologers will notice that it's in a close conjunction to Neptune. The basic elements are: Sun, Moon, Neptune, Aquarius: this could be describing a social process of some kind, what you might think of as an activation of the effects of slow-moving Neptune (illusion, delusion, drugs, denial, mysticism, compassion, spirituality, and the power of images on the subconscious -- such as television and film) in Aquarius (the population, collective ideals, ideals in general, the mass media, the intellect, group thought, the Internet). Neptune in Aquarius, which began in the late '90s, vibrates with idealism and reeks of false ideals. True, there is always a mass brainwashing campaign underway, but we might expect to see some kind of change or shift when a New Moon shows up right there.

With Neptune we typically don't see its effects until it's too late. This is part of why we look at astrology -- to get that early warning on the cosmic weather, and to see things that might otherwise be invisible, to give a process a name and cultivate a response.

Now let's sharpen the image. There are at least two other named planets within one degree of that conjunction. One is an asteroid, the other, a Centaur. Both are points that speak quite clearly about social processes. The first is Hidalgo, a slow-moving asteroid discovered in 1920 and named for a Mexican revolutionary priest who tried to overthrow Spanish rule. There are a variety of takes on Hidalgo, offered by some pretty smart astrologers. It can represent standing up for one's beliefs, for real, or soap-box style. It can represent being in charge, or the drive to do so. It can represent the assertion of will over others. In my experience, Hidalgo is more complex. It represents systemic lies that exist within a family or culture. It can represent the secrecy that perpetuates group dysfunction. An example might help.

We all know that two men having an emotional and sexual relationship are considered homosexual. In parts of Latin culture, this is only half true; this was related to me by the Cuban co-facilitator of a bisexual support group I was involved in last year. The man 'playing the role of the woman' (the bottom) is said to be gay; the man 'playing the role of the man' (the top) is said to be straight. The top maintains the full status of manhood without the stigma of being homosexual. He can be as macho as anyone else. The bottom has to deal with the whole gay thing.

To us, this seems a little ridiculous. If two men are together in a relationship, they're both homosexual. There is an obvious deception here, but it's cultural. (Part of the deception is that all gay couples organize themselves as tops and bottoms.) It is transparent (invisible) within the culture, but apparent (visible) outside the culture. The issues of Hidalgo act this way. If they represent a family secret ('we don't talk about what happened to mom when she was six') the secret kind of disappears into the background noise of family life. Nobody questions the effects of what happened to mom might have on them. If Hidalgo represents a cultural denial or lie ('George W. Bush is president') we just tend to forget the truth: that after losing the popular vote and cheating in Florida, he was elected by Supreme Court justices appointed by his dad. To test this issue, just try to argue that Dubya isn't the president -- even to a person who tends to vote Democrat. It is potentially quite offensive.

The presence of Hidalgo in this chart or any chart represents the possibility of becoming aware of precisely what is being denied, and asserting that awareness. Aspects tell us what might help us do so.

Okay, enter Asbolus. He is the fourth named Centaur, discovered in 1995 with an orbit of 76 years. He was named at the suggestion of astrologers, the second planet in history to have this distinction. His name translates from Greek as carbon dust. He is a kind of magician. Costa Rican minor planet specialist Juan Revilla's keywords include: preacher, magician, dreams, mist, fog, clairvoyance, penetrating, hiding secrets, mystery, conspiracy. Philip Sedgwick, a specialist in Centaurs and galactic points, is a little more explicit: "This Centaur insists that one always, always must follow their intuition. Typically real life circumstances demand their payment for failure to adhere to instinct. Leading charges against causes not worth engaging bring short circuits of life efforts and a significant loss of energy."

Amongst this collection of energies, are we seeing a theme develop here?

Let's look at Asbolus in the context of Aquarius, Neptune and Hidalgo, and in the moment known as now.

Presently, our national government is bent on going to war against a weak, barely-developed nation, which has not even provoked an attack. Our national leaders are willing to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians, inflict years of suffering, and ruin what is left of a struggling country because they want its resources. They want its stuff, so they're willing to kill a lot of people. But of course this cannot be advertised as such on television. Everyone knows it's really about oil and we're hoping it will be good for the economy. But when you turn on CNN all you hear about is the repeated use of the words 'weapons of mass destruction' and the insinuation that Saddam is the next Hitler.

How does this twist on reality happen?

In a word, magic. Here we see the work of Asbolus, being used manipulatively. We are a very magical country right now. Science is a form of magic, the manipulation of matter and energy to create a given result. Many films and TV programs now are about magic, spells, sorcery, and political mysticism, from Zena to Anakin Skywalker to Harry Potter. All drugs are a form of magic, more so the less creatively and consciously they are used. The media use magic, working on the level of thought and energy. Television is used to conjure up reality in ways that might be called purely manipulative. We are shown the illusion of consensus that is simply not true. Then we're made to feel like outsiders if we don't go along. This is dark magic. Magic and belief have a lot in common. What we are specifically programmed to do is believe what we see on television without further question, even if we know it's a lie. Usually it works beautifully. We live in a kind of dictatorship-by-hypnosis.

Here is where Asbolus is calling on us to wake up and see where our own minds have been Photoshopped. And by whom. Centaur planets often function as catalysts. The aforementioned Rob Hand, who has tried working with Chiron, told me that all he notices is that things go faster and are more intense when Chiron is present in an aspect structure, but that he can't discern its nature. His clients report this to him; he admits he can't pinpoint the quality of the energy, but he knows it's there. All Centaurs work in this kind of catalytic way -- and with time, their different specific scents and themes can be discerned.

With Neptune, Asbolus and Hidalgo in Aquarius, we are being activated, lit up, called to pay attention, and offered an opportunity to see through a cultural lie, to use our intuition. Then perhaps to speak up. Do we question who owns the media who puts out the 'information' we are being fed all day? Do we question the priorities of the coverage? Why do we have to stare at a stock ticker? Do we see the personal connection that taking this information in has to our own senses of identity, awareness, safety, or our inner emotional life? Do we consider the effects of our country waging war on our personal relationships, or the development of our children? Neptune, Asbolus and Hidalgo may be 'transpersonal planets' but the Sun and Moon are very, very personal. And sooner or later, the energy of those 'transpersonal' planets comes home. Compare all the flag-waving and joy and excitement (and even trading cards) at the time of the Persian Gulf War to the suffering in individuals and families from Gulf War Syndrome.

Planets belong to everyone. Our inner processes represented by planets belong to us. Sure, they can be stolen; our minds can be colonized. We can take up some of that Hidalgo spirit and kick out the infiltrators. We can and in reality must take over their processes when they are being used against us. Anyone who's had a Saturn return knows how important it is to become Saturn and structure one's life consciously rather than let external forces do it to us.

There are signs that the blind are learning to see, and for once it's even making the news. It must be very annoying to some people, but the truth slips in every now and then. Thursday afternoon's top story on MSNBC:

"Jan. 22 -- President Bush’s popularity ratings -- once among the highest of any president in the past 60 years -- are eroding across the board, according to a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. Bush is losing ground in several key areas, including foreign policy, the economy and his handling of the war on terrorism. And as the escalation of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf continues, the poll finds a growing number of Americans oppose military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power."

It is always worth asking who controls the media, and what their agenda is. Including the astrological media, where certain issues just don't make the news. ++

Planet Waves by Eric Francis

Early Aquarius Birthdays
Feed your freshest dreams. Take care to gently wash away your old dreams. Listen to your inner voices, ask which is true, and consider its teachings. Honor your fears, and your desire to run from them. Feel your compassion for people who have spent a lifetime deceiving you about yourself, and those who have denied you pleasure, and the ones who thought your ideals were a joke. Express your anger honestly; it will help. Feel your desire to go beyond being afraid of what you feel, and what you need. It is actually true. And, though you may have to slowly work your way toward a clear sense of your reality, you will arrive, and along the way you will feel the ecstasy of choice, and the simple truth that no matter what your heart has been through, no matter when it happened, your most natural power is the power to heal and grow strong.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
It has been said that there is no escaping religion; all we get to choose is what religion we follow. I speak in wider terms than just organized systems of doctrine. What shows up strongly these days is how you relate to your concept of God, and your concept of Goddess, which are two entirely different notions. Can you relate to inner experiences or concepts of God and Goddess who express erotic feelings, desires and the drive to connect? It is becoming more popular to consider sexuality in spiritual terms. It is still taboo to consider religion in sexual terms. But for you, enlightenment without passion is probably not going to work, but simply put, it's just not enough.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
At long last, emphasis shifts to the outer world after a seemingly endless trip through your inner abyss. And just in time. Have faith that you're carrying with you the strength and awareness that you gathered in your months of introspection, and that you'll be able to fulfill the commitments you've made to yourself in recent critical turning points of your growth. You know that one of those is a promise that you will surrender to your own power each time the need or opportunity arises. It is easier to surrender to weakness, I know. We are taught to do it from a very young age. You now live in a different world. You are in truth a different person.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You have a long time to consider an issue that once troubled you deeply. The essence of the question as I see it is really about understanding your resistance to change. It's worth the effort to question what you may view as your traditional side, because it has very little to do with you. It is based almost exclusively on the values of your parents, which then translated neatly into values and expectations in relationship, particularly where the C word comes in -- commitment. What you may be experiencing as a measure of turmoil is really nothing more than your inner psychic world straining under the necessity to change: to be who you are now, not who they were then.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
The workings of one particular relationship continue to mystify you. What you are seeing is a fine example of the exception to the rule. But who made the rule? I call for an investigation. The exception you are experiencing points to the larger question, the larger field of reality of your life. Typically you are given over fairly easily to a natural cycle of change, while the people who are drawn to you cling to the lord only knows what fears, beliefs or antiquated ideas about themselves. But this effect is the result of something you were taught, not something natural. Someone is now offering you a new idea about what is possible.

Leo (July 22-Aug 23)
Take care that your tendency to have misgivings about yourself at this time of year does not get the best of you. Life and the stars are way too good. But something else rather extraordinary is shaping up in your world, what I can only describe as a way through the maze in your relationships to people. Much of what troubles you is simply not understanding people's ideas about themselves. It's true: that's strange territory. Then, when people get together, those ideas begin to express themselves in yet more distorted ways. And for you who pretty much always know where you stand with yourself, it's just all too weird. But not for long.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
It is no longer the past. You are always free to live as though it is, but then, you're always free to live as though you're in paradise, too. By now you've had a while to contemplate what really constitutes taking a risk, and if I understand your solar chart correctly, you've been working out the ways in which very old fears have been preventing you from living in a way that expresses any of your true curiosity. First I want you to know how few people actually ever question any of this. Second, in the midst of all that fear and reservation, I suspect you've discovered something very revealing about yourself and tasted some exotic, deep quality of your inner nature. Once is not enough.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Libra. Venus. Venus in Sagittarius. Venus in Sagittarius fast heading for a conjunction to Pluto. In the house that governs your immediate surroundings, your psychological patterns, what you write and the content of your thoughts. God that feels good. Feel that pull to reach into yourself. Feel that instinctual drive to say something to the world that you really deeply have to say. Feel the exquisite lure of truth that takes you beyond your fear and shame. Feel your need to stretch into your own sense of truth, and to let any possibility be real.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
So what are you doing with all this energy? I would welcome you aboard any social crusade I happened to be waging, but I think you've got a deeper mission on your mind. Your ideas are more than concepts, they are values that are fast at work shaping your life and the world around you. It is one thing to know what you believe and have a sense of who you are. It is quite another to feel that as fire in your heart and dare to express it full-strength to the world. But from the look of things, you don't really have a choice. That energy is going to go somewhere, so do the universe a huge favor and put it someplace really good.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
There is this brilliant idea you're after, but if you just stay put for a moment it's going to land on your hand like a magnificent blue dragonfly. What I love about dragonflies is how ancient their kind is. They seem like they were here from the beginning, and carry such pure messages. But this blue dragonfly looking at you with her sweet eyes is very much a creature of the moment. She has already experienced what you are about to tune into, then move through, with all your emotions, your body and your full awareness. All you need to do is relax, take a few slow breaths, and hold her gaze.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
In the midst of many deep, amazing revelations often lurks the desire to run. I think this is just something about being human, or as the case may be, partially human. It is precisely our humanity that we have bred out of us, and a kind of terror of it that we have bred into us. All those people who think we're supposed to be as stilted and stumbling as they are don't help matters any, not to mention all those people who don't under any circumstances want to know who they are. It is clear that something different is happening to you now, that you are blessed with a truly unusual kind of awareness. It's as if you are sailing up a river, heading toward the headwaters. The country is unknown, and the water is clean.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You have a lot on your plate right now, and this year's month-long Age of Aquarius arrives with an awesome sense of movement within your life and in the world around you. The coming two weeks are likely to bring a series of developments that exceed your wildest imagination, and that is saying a lot. Word on the street is you need to pull your awareness of these changes into your body. This is a theme of your life. We both know that. Very good stuff is possible, a depth of healing you're just not accustomed to, and clarity, and a vision for your life. But it must encompass more than your mind. You need to take this into your cells. I have an Aquarius Moon so I know how challenging this can be. I'll figure out a way to say it, but if you do first, please let me know. But perhaps this will suffice. Respond to the needs of your body one by one, as you notice them.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Far be it for me to say this, but basically, you just need to relax and let what's happening happen, and what's about to happen happen, and ease back on putting too much energy into what you want or need to happen. This is a skill I suggest you begin to get an appreciation for. It will help you in the weeks ahead, as well as in the months ahead, and especially in the days ahead, when one particular change or development finds its way directly into your world. Part of why you need to subtract the element of will is due to a split in your perception of yourself. These developments are under the influence of something much closer to your true self, but you just don't recognize it yet.

How do newspaper horoscopes work?

Planet Waves Weekly and are edited by Eric Francis, with help from Chelsea Bottinelli and the Vision List. This newsletter is $49.95 per year and published 52 times per year plus the monthly horoscope. We encourage our readers to contribute their artwork and writing to the Planet Waves project and to cultivate themselves as creative forces in the unusual and socially formative times in which we live.

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