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Witness in the Dark
An introduction to the Next World Stories horoscopes
By Christine Farber, Ph.D.

while you and I have lips and voices which
are for kissing and to sing with
who cares if some one-eyed son of a bitch
invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

since the thing perhaps is
to eat flowers and not be afraid.  

-- ee cummings

AH, TO EAT FLOWERS and not be afraid.

My heart becomes more childlike in response to cummings' words, as the liquid life that runs through my veins wishes to skip, twirl, fly, eat flowers, and be not afraid. In this childlike state I feel called to be brave.

Like cummings, Eric Francis calls on us to be brave. Like the muses, he inspires us to say yes to life and to step fully into our responsible and creative place within this world. Like the poets, he invokes and honors the soul of the world; and like some depth psychologists, he is a doctor of the individual and cultural soul. As an artist, he gathers a world that is always more than, yet contained within, the art itself. Finally, as a phenomenologist, Eric remains faithful to truth, to the things of the world, and to experience; and in so doing he stands, always, at the threshold of the visible and invisible -- which is the one place from which we can truly claim our humanity. 

I discovered phenomenological and humanistic psychology right before I was about to give up on the subject of psychology altogether. I was disappointed by my introduction to this discipline back in high school, surprised by the lack of soul in a subject named for this most human, if elusive, quality of being: psyche.

My first two years of college coursework did nothing to challenge this disappointment; and so while I remained a psychology major, I also began to take as many philosophy courses as registration procedures allowed in order to seek an education for and of the soul. I wasn't as smart as my philosophy peers and it was usually a bit too ungrounded for me; still, philosophy was much closer to the subject I thought I would be studying as a psychology major, so I went with it. By my junior year and just in the nick of time, before changing majors altogether, I found some upper-level courses in depth psychology and existential-phenomenology. It was here that I discovered the psychology I had imagined years prior, instantly falling in love with psychology as the study of soul.

On most days, now, I consider myself a reluctant psychologist. Reluctant because I do not wholly fit within the discipline; nor do I wish to. Had I been introduced to astrology earlier in life, I may have followed this road instead. Interestingly, my entry into this cosmic art three years ago rekindled my faith in psychology as well as my passion for life, and Eric Francis played a pivotal role in reigniting those fires-ones that were close to burning out.

Psychology literally means the study of soul, and if we use this definition rather than the legal term, Eric is one of the most gifted psychologists I know. His grasp of the subtleties and nuances of human experience, on both the individual and collective level, speaks of a person who himself has traveled to the depths and heights of experience, has dared to look into the shadows with flashlight-or probably more correctly, floodlight-in hand, has risked falling in and getting lost there, and has climbed back out to reflect on such experiences with the skill and sanity of Aquarian detachment. From this marvelous place, and with his gift for the lyrical magic of words, Eric invokes us to take our rightful place at the threshold of what is (in)visible and from here, to listen for our unique calling and respond in-kind, co-creating the lives we wish to live.

He's sort of like a hard-assed muse, and his work speaks to the juxtaposition of an unwavering loyalty to truth with the compassion and inspiration of a heart broken wide open. It is this quality that leads me to describe Eric as a phenomenologist. Phenomenology is many things. It describes an approach and a subject matter-a how as well as a what. As an approach, or method, phenomenology espouses its primary principal of fidelity to the things themselves. Rather than measuring Spring, phenomenologists describe it, thereby allowing the truth of Spring to speak for itself. The insights, observations, truths, and descriptions that result from this way of being with the world comprise the subject matter of phenomenology.

Far from believing that we can be perspective-less, phenomenology encourages us to own our points of view, which further allows us to hold them in abeyance and to be open to surprise. In my opinion, phenomenology is the beginning of deconstructionist thought-the first invitation within a post-Enlightenment world to examine and question one's assumptions. Doing so, of course, creates the open space for something new to emerge. This is the gift that Eric brings to his colleagues, clients and readers, and he delivers it with the uncompromising dedication of a hard-ass and the loving compassion of a person who knows how much this matters.

Truly grasping the creative power of this open space evokes a visceral response: a surge of chi, a well of tears, the tingling of kudilini ascending up one's spine, or a fire in the belly, for example. We cannot not be moved in our meeting of the nothingness-the open space from which all else arises. Eric lives here, and invites us to join him. I don't have words to acknowledge the enormity of this gift, though I have felt it. The poets describe it and the muses inspire it. Living here takes courage, which is yet another offering from Eric and the staff of Planetwaves. By painting a picture of what life is like when we actively participate in its creation and by creating a community that lives and supports this, they offer us the courage to follow suit. They invite us to remember the wonderful things that we can do with our lips and voices if we so choose.

Poet, muse, artist, psychologist, phenomenologist, and gifted writer. I could also describe Eric as a savvy businessman -- one who is tuned into the universal order of things such that on about the 10th anniversary of his online, ad-free news outlet, the New York Times joined many other papers that now print ads on the front page. I will refrain from elaborating, though, and instead say that Eric is also, and above all else, an astrologer. Or is he a journalist? Astrology is celestial as it gets. Journalism is as mundane. As above, so below. His work functions to hold space for us to find our rightful place within the universe, which, like the sky, extends down to the Earth. His primary tool is astrology; and using it, he elucidates the mystery of the unity of creation along side the individual expressions of such. He invites us to glimpse the invisible web of connections within which we are each called to find our place and to contribute.

"Rather than trying to interpret our lives and actions and motives, we best understand human reality when it is placed within the harmonies and tensions and dramas of the cosmos; we find ourselves by discovering our place within these larger dimensions. We find out who we are, learn what it is to be human, enter into the soul's path of desire, take our proper place within the dramatic action of the whole of the universe, from the depths of hell where egoism reigns supreme, to the mid-realm of purgatory where the imagination gains ascendancy, to the heights of heaven-bound consciousness, where soul lives in inspiration" (Sardello; 2002, p.xi).

This is what Eric does best: He places human reality -- in all its beauty and ugliness, heights and shadows -- within the harmonies and tensions of the cosmos, thereby assisting us across the threshold that is nothingness, and into our lively and creative place within these larger dimensions. I cannot think of a more essential invitation as we usher in 2009, or better companions to have alongside us on this journey than Eric Francis and the family that is Planet Waves.

Sardello, R. (2002).  Preface. In R. Romanyshyn, Ways of the Heart (pp. xi-xvii). Pittsburgh, PA: Trivium Publications.

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