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Toronto, Ontario, Friday, August 7, 2009

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The Inner Goddess & the Inner Gaze

Dear Friend and Reader:

Friday morning, today that is, I will be in Toronto presenting a seminar at the American Psychological Association (APA) conference called "The Inner Goddess and the Inner Gaze." My presentation, as currently planned, will explore the phenomenon of the inner feminine, or anima, and its relationship to both men and women in our journey of growth and healing through the use of mirrors and photography.

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Ange from the Book of Blue sessions in Paris. Photo by Eric Francis.
Since I am not a psychologist, my presentation is co-sponsored by one: Dr. Christine Farber, a longtime Planet Waves reader; as well as my astrology student from the Omega Institute and a one-time client. She caught onto my work with Book of Blue and proposed that the themes I am covering in that project were ready to be introduced to mainstream psychology. She crafted a presentation using language from my articles, which was accepted by the APA women's psychology section as a seminar.

Book of Blue is an indirect outgrowth of my work as an astrologer, though expressed in photographs and intimate essays. As an astrologer, I have written and worked primarily with and for women, and in the process have explored my perceptions of women, studied the paths of their lives and done my best to understand their choices and values. I have always been conscious that part of why I am doing this work is to heal my relationship with my mother and with all women; and part of it is to be of service to women in response to a lifelong calling.

You might say that I am a woman-identified man. Given the choice of who is more 'my kind' of person, as in who I feel more like, I certainly feel like I have far more in common with most women than with most men. Yet in much the same way that relationships among women are fragmented by mistrust and competition, I noticed something similar in my own relationships that I set about working to resolve. The healing process largely facilitated by my work on Book of Blue has involved repairing a sense of alienation and isolation that has gradually given way to an atmosphere of communication and contact.

The [usually] fun part is I also get to be a man, and experience and witness the intensity and subtlety of female beauty, that is, intellectual, emotional and physical beauty, from the viewpoint of being male. Along the way, my inner feminine gets to make friends with other women and learn how to be female; and my inner man gets to polarize into his masculinity and explore our contrasts and how they feel. Along the way, I am working out a relationship with myself.

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Anya from the Book of Blue sessions in Toronto. Photo by Eric Francis.
Conscious of holding this space as mental preparation, I am able to create a space for my photographic subjects to see and feel themselves; to be a witness to their own self-aware femininity and humanity. Women spend a lot of time in mirrors, but I wonder how much of it is really about witnessing themselves. In my studio, that is precisely what they are invited to do: as a means of seeing their own beauty, integrating their sense of identity, processing guilt and body issues, and making peace with their judgments about themselves.

In Search of Venus

In astrology we work with inner archetypes all the time; they are the lead characters in the astrological drama. For example, everyone has Mars and Venus working in their chart; we all possess the same inner masculine and feminine aspects. Where these things are placed, and how we relate to them, are important factors that help shape our personality and affect how we adapt to life in our skins and in society. We know there is plenty of gender tension around us, and we feel it in our relationships; there are also gender relationships within us, which shape our consciousness, perceptions and experiences.

Usually we project that tension outward, rejecting the opposite gender internally and seeing her as a phenomenon in the outer world; without remembering anything about her origins in consciousness.

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Psychic Surgery: Behind the Mask
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

In case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of egomania going on out there; surely in the headlines, across our television screens, in our community and workplace, some in our own home. We all have an ego, of course. In the purest sense, here in incarnation, we need one to survive -- that sense of self that psychologists speak of -- and in that definition, I've always thought it better to have too much of one than not enough; life will chip away at the excess, so it's best to have some to spare. We all know people who seem too timid and withdrawn to be more than a doormat for other people's whims; some who are damaged and burdened by the past that seem unable to get out of their own entanglements of self-pity and victimization. The wounded ego is even more difficult a path than the pompous one; and yet both come from a misunderstanding of true Self and can rightfully be called egomania. We are each the center of our own universe; and we decide its trajectory.

Coming to some sort of balanced ego involves what I think of as 'process,' the necessary adjustments of a lifetime that pare us down to a list of self-reflections, hopefully lengthy, and a short list of what we Absolutely Know; a line or two or three. That would be the chapter in our memoirs that indicates we've finally seen through the mind-fuck that tells us we ARE our ego; until we can do that, we haven't the necessary balance to push back the false face we wear to find the shining soul within. Ego is the loudest voice within our head; the one that takes offense, plans punishment and revenge, manipulates to get its needs met, justifies its every whim, protects itself at all costs and feels a burst of power when it 'wins.' There are a lot of ways to look at our ego-self; I prefer the one offered by A Course in Miracles. Ego is the tyrannical, insistent voice of our false self, identified with the body and its fears, competitions, attacks and defenses; it is, in essence, enemy to the actual Self, in justified terror that if it does not overwhelm its host and assure it's the only voice heard, it will disappear. In Course, there are two parts to this trap of density and illusion; ego and guilt -- we will look at the first, today, because it is the enormous lower-thought nut we need to crack and discard.

Essentially, I think of the ego as the default spokesman for the outer world of appearances; the one that is a projection of our thoughts and desires made manifest, the one that has a set of pecking orders that, as we shift this era, we are suddenly unable to agree upon. It would be lovely if I didn't have to pick on the Republican minority so much, but their very purpose, as declared by the expired leader of their pack, William F. Buckley, is "to stand athwart history," delaying progress and protecting the status quo; this represents the very split in consciousness we're facing. The conservative movement is Poster Child for the old ways, and the old ways no longer reflect who we are; the new must shimmer with new resonance and expanded understanding if we are to love ourselves and our planet back into sanity.

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Coming Up in Daily Astrology and Adventure

Spitzer Warms to Task, Snaps Hot Pics

Okay, just to be clear, the use of the term "warm" in this application is extremely relative.

Planet Waves
Spitzer's First Warm Image. Credit: NASA.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, an infrared observatory launched in 2003, recently ran out of the liquid helium it used to keep certain instruments cool. As a result, the telescope has "warmed up" to a mere -406 degrees Fahrenheit (or 30 Kelvin, for those who are counting), and now its cameras are operating in a different spectrum of the infrared.

And that's resulting in images like this and this, taken July 21.

Phil Plait, over at Discovery.com's Bad Astronomy, explains the change in Spitzer's operating temperature this way: "Unless cooled, the mirror and the rest of the telescope will glow brightly in the infrared, making it impossible to do any science. It would be like shining a flashlight down the 'scope! So Spitzer uses liquid helium to cool some of its instruments down almost to absolute zero."

Make that "used" helium as a coolant, Plait adds. It's all boiled away over the last five-and-a-half years, but a sunshade still provides some protection and allows the cameras to take the current images without being washed out by ambient heat.

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Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, August 7, 2009, #778 - BY ERIC FRANCIS

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Aries (March 20-April 19)
You are free to think what you want, do what you want and associate with whom you please. But if that statement still evokes doubts in your mind or your feelings, it's time to figure out why. Nobody likes to admit how much power others hold over them, yet the only way to liberate yourself from that power is to be aware of it. Recent events have exposed some psychologically controlling tendencies in the people around you, and your tendency to go along with it. This kind of pressure would have no appeal, though, were you not uncertain of your own opinion in a critical matter. The point is that when you are united with yourself, there is no way that another person can have an undue influence on you. This is the real lesson. In other words, it's not about them, it's about you.

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Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
You are bigger than anything you encounter; you can embrace any circumstance. Like all people, you tend at times, or often, to feel smaller than your situations and looked at one way, your life is an exercise in recognizing your true place in the scale of the cosmos. Now you have some bonus opportunities to practice. While it's true that you don't have control over most things, you have vast influence over how you perceive yourself and others. This is the key to finding a place of harmony with them. Yet the thing about people is that they feel so many different things, and these feelings can be destabilizing to themselves and to others. They often exist in a state of contradiction. You have a talent for embracing contradictions; for recognizing that they exist within you, too, and thus taking away their power in your relationships.

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Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
There has been something standing between you and your success, and even your ability to express yourself clearly. Recently you caught a glimpse of what that something might be. It probably looked like some ugly psychological tendency that you're dragging around; in reality, it's a thought form that has hijacked your identity by forcing you to follow its every whim, subtle or not. You could call it a hidden negative expectation. The powerful part was not the negative aspect but rather the hidden one. It directly involves what would, presumably, happen to you if you open up and reveal a vulnerability. By exposing this you make yourself stronger, not weaker.

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