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Peeling Back the Layers

Dear Friend and Reader:

It's been a complex, nervous week, hasn't it? It's not all bad vibes, but the Full Moon threw quite a few people a curve or two. However, behind what you might call the mental/emotional layer (they are often mixed, and need to be sorted out carefully) is the approaching conjunction of Jupiter and Chiron, which is exact Monday.

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Hookahs, in Paris. Photo by Eric Francis.
This is actually the first and only exact conjunction between Jupiter and Chiron for this Jupiter cycle. What we experienced back in April and May was technically a close alignment, though not an exact meeting. This conjunction will happen approximately every 14 years, so it is fairly rare; and here is why it's meaningful.

Jupiter stands for all the things we hope for and want: expansion, wealth, health, wisdom, culture and of course, excess. But too often it can be full of promise that it doesn't really keep. Chiron is in the equation to ground, focus and help us make contact with Jupiter energy; with that untapped sense of potential.

Chiron says that meeting our ideals is not always as convenient as we want, and that in fact it's not always what we want at all. Yet if we pay attention and are willing to take the necessary steps, growth is possible. To get there, we have to take or partake in the necessary pragmatic steps toward making any potential real, and Chiron may be the most pragmatic planetary energy we know of.

Jupiter-Chiron, with Neptune right there, is calling on us to focus on the unseen, the less than obvious, and that which we are inclined to doubt or deny. It is also calling on us to pay attention to the power of awareness itself, since this leads to every coherent observation or choice that we make. Neptune says that invisible forces are at work, and if you consider yourself invested in a spiritual view of life, I suggest that we remember, and participate more actively in our process of change, which (in Chiron style) begins with awareness.

The United States is a culture of denial. We're not the only place, but denial is one of our most prolific exports. We deny history. We deny that public figures have sex. We deny that our cultural problems are serious enough to actually call for serious discussion. We deny that antidepressants cause more problems than they temporarily alleviate. We deny just about everything that does not fit our personal vision of the American Dream. Chiron, in its usual attention-focusing form, is calling all of this into awareness. Yet what often happens is that shutdown mechanisms kick in when we start to notice, and decide that it's all too much to bother with. With these credit card bills to pay, when we are dealing with teachers at school or getting our kids through the flu, why think about 'the world' at all? Well, that's what got us into this mess.

There is an edgy quality in the air right now; we are living amidst actual uncertainty, and it's not something we're hallucinating. We live daily with the feeling of momentum building toward some inevitable, out-of-control change. It is true that there is plenty of change to come, with Saturn, Uranus and Pluto about to align on the Aries Point. Yet many factors suggest that we need to go beyond appearances. In the rest of this article, I will do my best to use some astrology and a bit of journalism to see what things look like when you pull back one or two layers.

Troop Escalation in Afghanistan: Unremembered History

On the eve of the Gemini Full Moon, Obama made what is being hailed as a famous, if highly controversial, speech at West Point about putting 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan, then beginning a withdrawal in 2011. The question is: is the beginning of the end, or the beginning of something a lot worse? We need to be asking this now. And we need to see the events of this week in the context of history. In a recent article on our front page, Fe Bongolan looked at the history of many empires that have come to Afghanistan to die. They range from Alexander the Great to the USSR. Nobody has ever succeeded in a war against Afghanistan. For today's purposes, I want to look closely at the history of the Sept. 11 incident that led to United States involvement in this region, and the astrology that came with that event.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis.
One clue to the seriousness of the situation is that the recent Full Moon fell along something called the Nuclear Axis, which cuts across early-to-mid Gemini and Sagittarius. When planets align here, significant nuclear issues often arise. The suggestion is that beneath the surface of this discussion is a nuclear issue.

Saturn and Pluto were aligned on the nuclear axis when the Sept. 11 incident happened, and I believe we were extremely fortunate that this did not involve an atomic bomb. The term 'Ground Zero' was used, which as you know is a phrase from the nuclear lexicon for the epicenter of an atomic blast.

Wednesday morning's Full Moon fell along the Nuclear Axis, within two of the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001, which in turn was precisely situated along the ascendant/descendant of the most widely used United States natal chart. The destiny of the United States is closely tied to this situation. I am not saying we can predict things one way or the other, but I am saying that we are at a defining moment.

To those who are angry or disappointed with Obama for putting more troops into Afghanistan, I would remind everyone that this was in fact one of his campaign promises: to draw down the troop levels in Iraq, and to increase them in Afghanistan. I heard him say it over and over. We all know that this was a situation originated long ago by the Cheney/Bush administration, and then neglected for seven years while it festered and the infection spread. This, while all the attention was focused on a pointless war in Iraq begun on entirely fraudulent pretenses: the lack of a terrorist connection to Iraq has been exposed over and over again. Yet everyone seems to be blaming Obama for Afghanistan, or saying that he has claimed the war as his own.

Obama's reasoning for increasing the troop levels made some sense, if you ignore how many military contractors and lobbyists are pressing for this war, and also accept the orthodox mythology of the Sept. 11 incident: that terrorists based in Afghanistan were solely responsible for the attacks, and took the United States by surprise. But there is something that Obama cannot say in public discourse, which is that the Sept. 11 incident is not what we were told it was. Most of the terrorists were Saudi -- none were Afghani or Iraqi. bin Ladin himself, born in Saudi Arabia, is a former CIA operative. As the skies stood silent on Sept. 12, 2001, his family in the United States was whisked out of the country by jet plane -- the only plane allowed to fly -- and was not held for questioning. What I am saying here is that the whole bin Ladin and Afghanistan connection to the Sept. 11 incident is riddled with questions.

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Smoking gun or cover story? the Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief, which warned George Bush about an imminent attack by bin Ladin.
What is troubling is that the Bush administration was warned on Aug. 6, 2001 that bin Ladin was planning an attack in the United States, but did nothing to stop it. The CIA briefing is famously documented in the form of the Presidential Daily Brief from that day, called the Aug. 6 PDB, the first-ever daily brief to be released by the CIA. Bush, with his usual aura of professionalism and gravitas, told the CIA briefer that morning, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

If we go back a couple of years, we find another document, one created in 1998, authored by a conservative organization called Project for the New American Century (PNAC). This describes a plan for the United States to again become a dominant world power. PNAC describes the need for a multi-front war to be waged by the US early in the 21st century, but admits, "The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."

PNAC exerted influence on high-level Cheney-Bush administration officials, many of whom had signed onto PNAC's position paper and some of whom were key members of the administration: such as Cheney himself, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, and others. All of them pushed for these wars; they designed them and started them. This is old news, actually -- and it's not conspiracy freak stuff: it has been documented and debated for nearly a decade. But it's below the radar of television and mainstream print journalism.

When these events originally went down, Barack Obama was a law professor at the University of Chicago. A decade later, the whole mess has landed in his lap, and we expect him to work a miracle. Meanwhile, the situation has deteriorated. Afghanistan is barely a country, and the more serious mess is in Pakistan -- a nuclear-armed power and technically, a NATO ally.

I do not agree with the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, but I also know that there is a lot that we're not being told. Obama is dealing with a very unusual, extremely dangerous situation that nobody can talk about openly, certainly not on TV. Everyone involved is going along with the old Sept. 11 mythology, and unless we peel back that layer, we cannot see this for what it is.

The Aug. 6 PDB is damning enough, but my theory is that it's the cover story, not the smoking gun. Actually, it protects the prior administration. The document serves as the Cheney-Bush administration's shield between "oops, we should have known but were inept" and "we did it." One counts as incompetence; the other as treason. Once you start looking at what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, there are so many questions that it's sickening. Yet it's far worse that these issues can't get any serious airtime.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis.
Those of us who watched Obama speak on Tuesday night saw a tense human being, acting as if compelled to do something that (to my eyes and ears) was not what he wanted to do, but which falls under his duty as commander-in-chief. He was not preaching the virtues and glory of war. Unlike Bush and Cheney, the people of this country actually elected him, so he feels a sense of responsibility to his constituents. And unlike Bush and Cheney, his family is not invested in massive businesses that profit from war (to wit, Carlyle Group and Halliburton, respectively).

However, after a decade, this situation is a lot worse. Pakistan, to the south, is highly unstable, and a powder keg of rage -- of pent-up grievances that are centuries old. That Pakistan threatens the world with nuclear weapons is frightening. Saddam Hussein's Iraq, by comparison, was harmless, and the idiocy of our war in Iraq is clear. But this situation is different. Pakistan is out of control, or very nearly so.

The situation in Pakistan and the one in Afghanistan (which are tied together) are escalating faster than we can imagine. There is literal anarchy in Afghanistan, yes, caused by the United States, and the entire region is roiling with fanatics of a thousand philosophies. The hostility raging from fundamentalists everywhere is building; you can feel and see it, and I include fundamentalists in the heartland of the United States.

What the Astrology Said

I have written many times about the Sept. 11 chart, which in the most basic or advanced reading you like describes an inside job. Planets for the terrorists and the government occupy one another's signs and can therefore switch places, stating that they are acting in collusion. As early as October 2001, based strictly on the chart, I also warned that the stated enemy will change and it did, from bin Ladin to Afghanistan to Iraq and now back to Afghanistan.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis.
The Sept. 11 chart has Mercury rising, which says: get the message. The astrology also reminded us that the population was asleep at the wheel: the Moon was void of course. We did not get any message: the Cheney-Bush administration plunged us into not one but two wars based on an event the reality of which bears no resemblance to the story we were told, and so willingly believed.

This all serves to ask: should we believe what we are being told now? We have good reasons not to. Excellent reasons, in fact. Yet who is really paying attention? Do we think that even Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow can put together the pieces of what led to the Sept. 11 incident -- just the obvious ones? Can we look at what business interests favor this war? What about everything else we are not hearing? Politics as presented to the public grants access to the surface of the issues. In this short discussion, we have a glimpse of some of the information that we don't think about, mainly because we don't have access to any of it.

The planets tell us that we are at a significant crossroads right now, and by that I mean the alignment of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto along the Aries Point axis. We had a Full Moon on Tuesday night, just as Obama was speaking, that pointed us directly to the Nuclear Axis, the Sept. 11 chart and the United States chart.

Now that we have this huge mess on our hands, what is the right thing to do, and what can an individual do? It may be difficult to argue the point that raising awareness is the first step toward working our way out of the global crisis, which every day takes a toll on more and more individuals. But let's look at it the other way. Obviously we are being lied to, over and over. When someone lies, they can be assumed to have a motive. The motive is to distract awareness from what is so. Perhaps we can reason backwards from there: if someone is trying to distract you from something with a lie, maybe the most sensible thing to do is to seek the truth.

Yet we have many reasons for not seeking the truth -- for example, not knowing who to believe; the difficulty of having to think for oneself; and the comfort zone of bread and circuses. It should surprise nobody that Tiger Woods is getting far more attention this week than the troop escalation in Afghanistan. Our news media and to a large extent the American population was obsessed with whether a golf star had an extramarital affair; and whether he would keep his endorsement from a company that makes sporting goods.

When we talk about changing the world, or changing ourselves, I believe this is the first place to start making alterations: we need to wake up and pay attention. There are many who feel that to pay attention to the news is to soil our spiritual hands. Many feel that it's an indulgence of pure negativity. Your spiritual teacher or therapist might indeed ask you, why pay attention when you have no influence over the situation? Why get frustrated when you can't do anything?

That is precisely what I am questioning, though. There may not be protests in the street, and most people would be reluctant to go out and march against a war (unless the draft is reinstated). We do have influence, however, and it begins with awareness. In reality, it does not matter where we apply awareness, but sooner or later it's going to land on the connection we share with the world. Sooner or later we will figure out that our thoughts and our intentions shape what we call the world.

We often think of 'expanded awareness' as something that feels good. But with Chiron in the picture, we may become aware of our pain, of our futility, and of what we need to tend to but don't feel like we can afford to. Or is it merely inconvenient?

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

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