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New York City, Friday, May 18, 2007

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Taurus New Moon: Planet Waves

Eric Francis
Photo by Dani Voirin
Dear Friends, Readers, Loved Ones and the Planet Waves Team:

It's time for me to take some time off -- what in academia is called a sabbatical. I just noticed that the word 'sabbatical' has the word 'sabbat' as its root -- in taking a little breather, I am keeping the Sabbath holy.

Time to breathe is generally something that horoscope writers rarely ever get, and it's not particularly easy for people who have a small business, either. Whatever challenges may be involved, this is something I need to do, and I am here to enlist your backing and share the details.

Astrology is deeply introspective work, and the constant feeling of so many people taking the words I write so personally is a big responsibility. I feel that a period of introspection and spiritual maintenance is necessary now. My plan is to pause my usual activities for five weeks, approximately through the Sun's course in Gemini (my 12th house, a nice time to go inside). I plan to do this regularly, so expect another announcement of this kind in late summer. Our terms of service are clear that I get breaks, though till now I have not taken advantage of this agreement; I admit to being a bit of a workaholic, the only difference being that I prefer actual work to workahol.

Our publishing schedule will be revised to minimize the impact of this shift; we will do our best to create the illusion that I'm still on the job. Please keep this email or URL for reference, and then please check out the next section -- the part that addresses community, creativity and our fundraising drive.

For this phase, through Gemini 2007, we will move the Monday (monthly bonus) horoscope to the Friday edition, per the schedule below. I will prepare a full-month Gemini birthday report that will be distributed with the May 25 edition and do the same for Cancer on June 22. Each Friday edition will include new essays and astrology by at least one of our writers, and an archive selection from my prior work. For Monday editions, we will also send an archive choice from one of thousands of pieces that I've done during the past five years, generally covering an astrology topic but sometimes something else.

The Friday editions affected will be the following (note the horoscope that will be included with each):

Friday, May 25
June Planet Waves Monthly + all Gemini birthdays
Friday, June 1
June Inner Space
Friday, June 8
June Lemonade
Friday, June 15
June End of Month Monthly
Friday, June 22
July Planet Waves Monthly + all Cancer birthdays

We will resume the Friday weekly horoscope on June 29, just before the Capricorn Full Moon.

Community, Creativity and Fundraising

We live in a daunting time in history: one with so much potential, yet where we must live with unusual pressure of responsibility, enormous potential freedom and at the same time, so much to be concerned about. Many people seem to be finally reaching inward as if their inner life is real. Yet I get the feeling that people are starved for community and starved for clear ideas about life. Planet Waves is dedicated to providing both community and ideas. In essence, we are a community of ideas, yet one that had an unusual beginning as a horoscope column.

The weekly format you now receive was begun in 2002, at the time we began offering paid subscriptions to Planet Waves. This felt like a bold gesture at the time, after having been an exclusively free site for nearly four years -- but it worked. Many people converted to paid subscriptions, which provided a base of funding for our work. At the time of creating the subscriber edition, I promised that the entire Planet Waves project would benefit from the change, and indeed, we have created many new services for both subscribers and the general public.

Over the past year, we've evolved the Friday weekly into a full-length magazine, developed the Planet Waves front page into a daily, general interest news portal, and added numerous blogs, forums and other features.

In our world of media madness, with all its violence, incessant marketing, hype and deception, Planet Waves is an oasis. We offer a coherent perspective on astrology and one of the few places to read about new planetary discoveries. We offer a solid political viewpoint, including a civil rights blog and a spiritual take on the news. We offer a sane viewpoint on sexuality. We publish magnificent photographs, and do our best to make sure that everything you read is presented beautifully. We are advertising free for reasons discussed in this link.

We also provide two different reader forums, and more to the point, many opportunities for people to participate in life and in the exchange of ideas. Most of our staff came from our readership. There are very few places in the world that are so open to participation, so willing to share knowledge and skills, and indeed, so willing to share whatever we have.

Doing Your Part

Taurus New Moon: Planet Waves
With this freedom to explore and develop our own personal beliefs and loves within the sphere of Planet Waves, we reach greater depths of personal growth than we could in almost any other group. With these gifts comes responsibility for supporting the world of PW. We get, and we must give back. Planet Waves itself exists in this spirit.

Just as in a physical community, we must vote, serve on a jury, write for the local newspaper, pay taxes, clean the sidewalk, pick up trash, support the library, or whatever, in this ethereal community, we must do our tasks. They call it tarea down in the Southwestern part of our country. Tarea is the work you MUST do to insure your community survives and remains the sort of community you want it to be. It can be reading the water meters each month for free; it may be serving on a boring committee for five years to get the library expanded as it needs; it may be running the farmers market to get local produce sold. It can be any task, but everyone has a job. Most often this job is working to help pay your personal bills and your community bills.

Planet Waves is real. As a corporation, it is legally a distinct person. It has real needs just the same as everyone and everything else does. There is still a notion that everything on the Internet must be free, and I would like to caution you against taking that too seriously. In the paragraphs below, I would like to address a few different constituencies of Planet Waves readers and seek your additional support. The most important people we would like to ask for help are those who truly appreciate Planet Waves and can afford to do more. We have several upgrade options, and we welcome gifts.

People Who Forward. We have always allowed and encouraged forwarding, but some readers forward to specific friends or relatives every week. That is not the intent of the forwarding privilege. If you send to your daughter, your boyfriend, your mom or your sister on a regular basis, please be a mensch and purchase them a subscription.

My Friends. If you consider yourself a friend or someone who cares about me, please pay for your subscription. When a friend of mine comes out with a new product, I make sure I cast my yes vote by investing in it immediately. When The Onion started offering memberships, I nearly dropped my laptop diving into my pocket for my credit card, merely to contribute -- The Onion has given me so much over the years. When Richard Tarnas came out with Cosmos & Psyche, I immediately began buying copies for friends as gifts, in addition to putting out all the PR about the book that I could. When Betty Dodson released a new DVD recently, I accepted my free press copy, and purchased one for a friend at the same time, again, to vote yes. If you consider yourself my friend, please get out your credit card and convert to a paid subscription. Thank you.

Friends of Staff Members. If you are on the Planet Waves creative team, please ask your friends and family to subscribe. Be bold. For about $10 a month, they can make a big difference, and you will be weaving a community of support around your learning process at Planet Waves. You will be taking the step of inviting people to support your work and growth.

Former Subscribers. Like any publication, we have a list of people whose subscriptions have lapsed. Many of you come back to the daily homepage regularly, read your monthly, or enjoy our sample materials. If you are a former subscriber who still visits Planet Waves, please re-subscribe. We need you to do your part to support your community. Subscription-based services grow and thrive because people renew, not merely because they subscribe once.

Comp Subscribers Who Can Afford It. For years, our comp program has been there to help people who can't afford to pay. But many comp subscribers can afford to pay, and we ask you to do so. You can afford it if you have a job and some money left over for entertainment. If you are an astrologer on our colleague's list, and benefit from what you read, please sign up now.

Support, Sustain, Invest. We offer two different upgrade paths -- now called 'Gold Membership'. You can be a supporter for $100 a year, or a sustainer for $250 a year. The extra materials you receive (audio, a special reader forum, photographs and my complete sex article archive) are designed as an incentive to get you to upgrade, not as a product sale, but it's a nice package. We also accept gifts and investments. As anyone in a position to give such a gift would know, building a business is an expensive proposition. If you can support us, please do it because you can. For more information, please call Chelsea at (877) 453-8265 or (206) 567-4455.

We are currently working on a special project, an automated sales and subscription management system that will make Chelsea's life a lot easier. This is a custom system being written by a talented programmer. The estimated cost is about $5,000, and we truly need your help covering this -- it's a big outlay for us. Currently, we do many things manually that take a lot of time and energy, and this will smooth out the process. When we're done, we will move onto an automated horoscope editing system and various content management systems. We know some of you would be happy to help us cover the costs of these important projects -- please call Chelsea if you are interested in doing so. Thank you.

Participate. There are many ways to participate in Planet Waves, including by contributing your creative ideas, taking part in our forums, getting to know other subscribers through those forums, and bringing Planet Waves into your geographic community or introducing us to your circle of friends on the Internet. If you are a blogger, write about one of our posts -- and send us a link to your blog as well. If there is a local newspaper in your town, introduce them to the Planet Waves horoscope. Or think of your own way to participate -- there are an infinite number.

Thank you for getting involved.

We'll continue this discussion when I come back from my sabbatical in late June, for which my body and soul thank you sincerely.

Very truly yours,
Eric Francis
New York City, May 17, 2007

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