Tag Archives: professional sports

Use Your Head

Dear Friend and Reader:

In our society, we’re often faced with the question of what to do when something wildly popular and profitable turns out to be toxic, dangerous or unethical. In many ways it’s the story of our culture — the wonder drug that causes birth defects, the allegedly healthy new food additive that causes heart attacks, the all-purpose chemical that turns into dioxin.

Planet Waves
Sports Illustrated from Aug. 14, 1978, about the crisis of violence in football. Tarot card readers will note the homoerotic connotations, such as the tender embrace and one player with his hand on the crotch of the other.

The dangerous effects of many things we take for granted are simultaneously known and denied for decades. One current example is the denial of the well-known effects of radiation from cell phones and cell towers. How many people know, much less wonder, why the iPhone’s instructions warn you to keep the thing eight centimeters away from your head?

This is also the story of American football, now the most lucrative sport in the United States. College and professional games are the most popular spectator sport, and it’s often played as a contact sport by children in full gear. For many people, football is inseparable from their experience of high school.

Football is at the center of a $9 billion per year industry, the largest sports franchise in the United States. The NFL, the largest remaining professional league in the U.S., has an annual operating budget of about a quarter-billon dollars. Though I don’t think anyone can explain why, it’s registered as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association exempt from federal income taxes.

Association with the NFL is big business for everyone involved. Pepsi alone spends $228 million every year marketing and promoting NFL deals.
Today, according to Forbes, the average player salary is $2 million a year, and football clubs are worth well more than $1 billion each.

And, as it turns out, the game causes serious brain trauma in many players, and to some degree in all players. More than 4,000 NFL alumni are involved in a class-action lawsuit focused on the connection between repeated concussions sustained during the game and long-term degenerative brain injury. The results of these brain injuries are dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions, depression and a disturbing frequency of suicide among ex-players.

The issue first rose to public awareness in 2002 after Mike Webster, long-time center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, died of a heart attack at age 50 after deteriorating from years of mental illness. After his death he was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that can only be identified by studying brain tissue in an autopsy.

Through his career, Webster endured an estimated 25,000 violent collisions, each the equivalent of a car accident or a sledgehammer to the head. “Despite this, Webster was never treated by team doctors for a concussion, according to medical records submitted in the case,” ESPN reported.

The First Brain Trauma Lawsuit

Webster’s wife Pamela sued the NFL and was awarded $1.6 million in disability payments by a federal court. As the cases have multiplied, so too has the game’s profitability, and with that, denials of the dangers. This has been documented copiously by ESPN writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru in their 2013 book League of Denial.

Planet Waves
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell presides over an industry worth $9 billion annually and is paid $30 mil. a year. Photo by Jerry Lai.

“The game is more popular and safer than ever,” said Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, who earns more than $30 million a year. “I don’t walk in here thinking we’re in a crisis by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t say that in an arrogant way.”

In late 2013, the NFL and ex-players reached a settlement agreement that called for the NFL to pay $765 million into a medical fund that would cover exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research and litigation expenses.

But in January, a federal judge refused to approve the settlement, saying she didn’t think it was enough money to cover all the necessary expenses, which can exceed $150,000 per year in the case of a serious brain injury or neurodegenerative disease. Such settlements must include funds set aside for members of the affected class who have not yet come forward.

In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Pres. Obama said that he believed NFL players “know what they’re doing” and understood the impact that concussions could have on their long-term health. He said he would not allow his son to play football, if he had one.

“At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” Obama said. “These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”

But every lawyer knows the notion of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is obviated by fraud. Whether the NFL is liable for players’ injuries has a lot to do with what they told those players, or how they reassured them not to trust information that was in public circulation.

So just how long has the secret about brain trauma been out? Practically since the dawn of time. In 1933, the NCAA (the National Collegiate Athletic Association) distributed a medical handbook to its member schools, according to Deadspin.com, a football website owned by Gawker.

Planet Waves
A normal brain compared with a shrunken, malformed brain afflicted with advanced CTE. Image provided by the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

The handbook warned that concussions are treated too lightly, recommended that concussed players receive rest and constant supervision, and not be allowed to play or practice until symptoms have been gone for 48 hours.

For symptoms lasting longer than 48 hours, it recommended that players “not be permitted to compete for 21 days or longer, if at all.”

In October 1952, a doctor named Augustus Thorndike published in The New England Journal of Medicine the results of a study that urged players who suffer three concussions to leave football permanently, for their own protection. Around the same time, more information was coming out about repeated head trauma suffered by boxers.

Then in 1973, something called Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) was identified. That’s what happens when someone receives a concussion while still suffering the effects of a previous one. SIS has a 90 percent mortality rate, according to Dr. Michael Turner, whose study of a dead high school student was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Running Interference: The Mild Trauma Committee

The NFL, aware of all of this, did not respond until 1994, when it created the now-infamous Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. This was the first time that the NFL admitted there was an issue with players and brain injury, though the committee’s role seemed to be running interference on those raising the issue.

Planet Waves
New England Patriots player Bam Childress about to land on his cervical spine. Many forms of routine football injuries add up to degenerative neurological disease.

MTBIC, like many official committees supposedly designed to investigate things, spent a decade denying the connection between concussions and long-term brain injury. All of the lawsuits say that the NFL engaged in a disinformation campaign intended to convince players that the game was safe.

Deadspin.com reported that the committee was co-chaired by Elliot Pellman, a rheumatologist who claimed to have a degree from SUNY Stony Brook, a respected medical school. (He didn’t, Deadspin notes. He attended medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico.) Pellman was the New York Jets’ team doctor. Coincidentally, he was also commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s personal doctor.

The league is still in denial, a fact that has been covered in numerous books, articles and documentaries. Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president of health and safety policy, recently described the league as a “leader in addressing the issue of head injuries in a serious way,” adding, “by any standard, the NFL has made a profound commitment to the health and safety of its players that can be seen in every aspect of the game, and the results have been both meaningful and measurable.”

An article published this week by the professional medical journal MedPage Today pointed out the conflict of interest between team doctors who evaluate injured players, and the players who need an objective evaluation of their situation.

“Today a player with a suspected concussion not only can’t go back in the game, but he has to be evaluated according to a concussion protocol by the team’s medical staff and also by an independent medical consultant,” the journal wrote.

“But that isn’t enough, said Tanzid Shams, MD, director of sports neurology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. ‘In an ideal setting, the clinicians on the field should have no financial relationship with the teams. Instead, they should function as independent observers similar to referees. This model would take out the conflict of interest’.”

Mars and Aries: The Astrology of Football

Ok, so much for the historical background. We now know enough to appreciate the astrology. It turns out that the timeline of football has been recorded back to the first football game ever played, between two college teams — Princeton University and Rutgers University.

I’ve also looked at the charts for the founding of the NFL, the first Super Bowl and this coming Sunday’s Super Bowl, plus a few other charts of people and events along the way.

Planet Waves
Believe it or not, there is a chart for the first football game. Somebody wrote down the date that Rutgers played Princeton and, according to one Princeton coach I spoke with this morning, Rutgers won. I don’t know the time so I used noon. The game was played on the Rutgers campus. The second game was played the following week at Princeton, and the home team again won that game (by a wider margin, according to the coach I talked to). Football, the sport, is a Scorpio with the Moon in Sagittarius. Note the Mars-Saturn conjunction to the top left side of the chart. Mars is within one degree of Saturn and both are conjunct the Great Attractor a polarized, controversial fuss.

The common theme these charts have is a prominent Mars, and in nearly every case, prominent expression of the sign Aries. Football is a martial sport, meaning that it has a violent and militarist quality (that word being derived from Mars, the Roman god of war). These placements are also significant in that both Mars and Aries are associated with the head, as well as with injuries to the head.

For example, the first football game was played with Mars conjunct Saturn. Both are conjunct a galactic point called the Great Attractor, implying that something controversial and polarizing is happening. It’s interesting that all of these points are in Sagittarius, the sign of higher education.

Another example is in the chart for the founding of the NFL. This chart is one of the most interesting corporate charts I’ve ever seen (it rivals that of the NRA, which I promise to write about soon).

The NFL chart has Chiron conjunct Nessus in Aries. Chiron often indicates where there is an injury, or a persistent point of re-injury. In the chart of an individual, it can also show a point of growth and awareness, though that seems not to be the case with the NFL — they are working on the shadow side of Chiron.

Nessus can also indicate an injury — with the added theme of a breach of trust or some kind of subversive activity. Nessus often points to sexual injuries and traumas; it’s within reason to describe all of football as the acting-out of repressed male homosexuality. What Nessus almost always indicates is that there will be consequences involved. Nessus can point to who is responsible or who will end up taking responsibility.

In the chart for the first Super Bowl, Mars makes aspects to 10 different planets, including the Sun, Mercury and centaur Pholus.

“Football is a dangerous sport, and based on the charts for the founding of the NFL, and for the first Super Bowl, it is precisely that danger which has added to the league’s success. This is exactly what these charts proclaim,” said Lee Lehman, a leader in the field of classical astrology, and a pioneer in the development of asteroids as astrological tools.

Based on the position of Mars in these charts, she said, “We have literally the story of the gladiators, who are just as compelling crumpled up on a heap on the playing field as making a spectacular catch. That is what the arena is for: the winners triumph, and the losers are carried out on a stretcher.” [You can read Lee Lehman’s full comments here.]

Let’s look more closely at the two richest charts — the founding of the NFL and the first Super Bowl.

The NFL Founding Chart

The NFL was founded as the American Professional Football Conference on Aug. 20, 1920. The meeting, held at a car showroom in Canton, Ohio, was intended to “raise the standard of professional football in every way possible, to eliminate bidding for players between rival clubs and to secure cooperation in the formation of schedules,” according to a local newspaper article published at the time.

The chart is made of numerous two-planet conjunctions, many of which talk to one another. Conjunctions concentrate power and get unusual or dissimilar energies working in cooperation. The Scorpio Moon is conjunct Mars, for example, again highlighting that planet and revealing the underlying anger and sexual tension inherent in the game.

Planet Waves
Chart for the founding of the predecessor organization of the NFL. This astonishing chart has many conjunctions, which focus its drive and intensity. One of the obvious ones is the Moon conjunct Mars — hot, horny and pissed off. But the jewel of this chart is a grand trine between Chiron-Nessus in Aries (brain injuries), Mercury-Neptune in Leo (delusion, denial and water on the brain, plus a hint of narcotics) and Pholus in Sagittarius (on steroids). See annotated chart.

Venus is conjunct Saturn in Virgo, suppressing feminine energy, subordinating it to a corporate structure.

As I mentioned before, we have Chiron conjunct Nessus in Aries. That is trine Mercury conjunct Neptune in Leo — which can be read several ways: delusional pride, denial, or water on the brain. It also hints at the steroid use that seems essential to being a successful player. Through these charts, there are clear hints at how steroid use has ramped up the number and the intensity of injuries. One is that centaur Pholus (which can represent substance abuse) in Sagittarius is trine both conjunctions, making a grand trine.

Then we have the Sun conjunct Jupiter in Leo. Can you say big, big, big (men, egos, money, scale)? Or rather, big and getting bigger. The size of the players, the weight of the gear and the urgency of competition have made this an increasingly violent sport, to the point where it could be described as a blood sport.

Sun-Jupiter in Leo, high in the chart at midday, illustrates how the game became so big so fast. Sun-Jupiter in Leo also looks a little like that $9 billion industry, which the current NFL leadership says it is intent on tripling in the coming 15 years or so.

This fantastically macho aspect masks over the delusions inherent in the Chiron-Nessus conjunction (the head injuries and their consequences) exactly trine the central delusion in the chart, Mercury conjunct Neptune. This is one of those trines that says “if you lie, I will swear to it.” (Not all trines say that, but it’s worth checking all of them for that factor, especially when something evil manifests.)

One last note on this chart: the Mercury-Neptune conjunction is square the lunar nodes. That is the karmic test; the factor on which the chart hinges. I’ve called this the central delusion — if the parties involved can wake up to that, they can get their bearings. It is, however, powerful anesthesia.

The First Super Bowl

This is another chart in the “too rich for words” category. The first Super Bowl happened at the peak of the 1960s astrology — the Uranus-Pluto conjunction is a prominent feature in the chart. Now that we are at the Uranus-Pluto square 48 years later, it’s logical enough that the issues inherent in the game are coming to the surface.

There were many breakthroughs in this time of history — indeed, nearly anything that succeeded made some lasting impact on society.

You can see the Uranus-Pluto conjunction at the bottom of the chart. That aspect can represent a clash of cultures, an upheaval in society or — in the 5th house — it represents a really rough game. That led Lee Lehman to comment, “Despite many denials, this player destruction truly is part of the entertainment. Let the carnage begin — but we’ll applaud when they are carried off the field.”

Planet Waves
Chart for Super Bowl I. This chart has a time, which was printed on the ticket — which at the time cost between $6 and $12. Note Venus on top of the wheel, and then note the massive aspect pattern in the 20-degree range, explained in the article. See annotated chart.

One of the most prominent features in the chart involves the rising sign, Taurus, and the placement of Venus, the ruling planet of Taurus, at the top of the chart. That is called accidental dignity.

Venus has no special dignity in Aquarius, but it gets props for being both the ascendant ruler and the most elevated planet. It illustrates the crowd-pleasing nature of the game (Aquarius), the corporate involvement (10th house) and the fantastic image and monetary value that the game somehow still has.

Jupiter is back in Leo, where it was when the NFL was founded. So for the NFL’s Jupiter return it got the Super Bowl.

But the most interesting structure in the chart can be read from left to right. Start with the triple conjunction in Pisces, on the top left. That is the Moon, squished between Chiron and Saturn. It would be a challenge to find an aspect that more eloquently said “emotional pain” than this one. The Moon represents the public, caught between a centaur and a hard place. It looks like the crowd is trying to work out its emotional pain by watching this game. One of my colleagues aptly described it as a blind spot, something that should be obvious but which is invisible.

Next, look at Mercury conjunct the Sun — in the 9th house of religion, in Capricorn, the sign of corporations. This looks like a megachurch or a cult.

Mercury is exactly sextile the Moon, and in a close sextile to Chiron and Saturn. It’s the image of something that works very well. Then there is Neptune late in the 6th on the cusp of the 7th — there is your drug/delusion/denial factor — and in Scorpio, another image of sexual fantasy.

Mars gets into the picture, taking squares from the Sun and Mercury (this combination of Mars and the squares having the potential for anger or rage). Mars makes aspects to all of the planets in the low 20-degree range. Which brings me to the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the 5th house. This chart represents a revolution, a sign of the times, happening a few months before the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.

It was also the height of the Vietnam War. So we have an image of the opposite of the peace and love concept of the Sixties — the return of the gladiators.

This whole aspect structure is all the more powerful because the Moon is directly involved. One of the co-rulers of the Taurus ascendant (the Moon is exalted in Taurus) and in deeply sensitive Pisces, the public is caught in a huge drama the like of which it does not understand. This scenario is far from benign, and beyond the medical implications for the players, there are ethical implications for everyone.

The Cult of Steroids, Violence, Advertising and Brain Trauma

Throughout the football charts, there are recurring images of sex, steroids and violence. Described by Neptune, we have images of television and denial. Super Bowl advertising is the most expensive in existence. All of this funds a game in which the players are getting their brains crushed. Looking at Neptune and other factors, it’s clear that steroids play a role in the injuries — ever larger players, on drugs that make them oblivious to pain, crashing into one another as a way of life.

Planet Waves
Steelers hardworking and genius center Mike Webster led his team to four Super Bowl victories in six years.

This is distributed with high glamour into a society that has issues around violence and sex, taking the form of a mass religion. This is co-mingled into a multibillion dollar industry that is a backbone of the advertising business — the central cult of capitalism.

And now we know that among other things, this is the cult of brain damage and degenerative neurological diseases that have destroyed the lives of many great athletes.

As Pam Webster, the widow of football legend Mike Webster put it in a Frontline interview, “He was incredibly smart. And to see his brain declining years later was such a sad thing, because he was incredibly smart, and what I’ve said — the boys have this gift that they see detail that no one else picks up on, and Mike had that gift.”

She described their motive to bring a lawsuit against the NFL, which was filed after his death: ” I don’t think it was a battle just to, like a lawsuit or a disability lawsuit to just win money. It was to get the NFL to admit that they had something to do with it, that whether it be a cover-up or the knowledge or the fault, he wanted to speak for thousands like him.”

“I think on some level he knew things were wrong,” she added. “He couldn’t hold a sentence. One thing he wrote was getting thoughts across were like trying to talk — he compared it to tangled fishing wire. When fishing wire gets tangled you can’t untangle it — not even like a necklace, but fishing wire. It’s clear and it’s all tangled up. And that’s how his thought process was.”

That’s a good description of the whole problem, as things stand today.


Research by Hillary Conary. Additional research: Hal Cohen, Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Painter, Len Wallick and Martha Lang-Wescott.


Planet Waves

Pete Seeger with his 12-string guitar at the Clearwater Revival in 2007. Seeger helped found the organization named after the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. The organization has been active on the issue of PCBs put into the Hudson by General Electric. Photo by Anthony Pepitone.

Pete Seeger: Voice of the Generations

The world said goodbye to the one and only Pete Seeger, who died this week at age 94. Famous for his songwriting formula of “three chords and the truth,” Seeger influenced numerous generations of musicians, lyricists and activists during his long life.

“Pete Seeger wasn’t one of those legendary performers who made the world a better place with music. He was the original. He was inimitable and unique and indomitable in his mission to bring light to the dark places,” Peter Scheer of Truthdig wrote this week [visit that link for the awesome video].

An enduring influence for change, for getting people together and for solving the world’s problems — and making music — Seeger was born with the Sun in Taurus and his Moon in Gemini.

Planet Waves
Pete Seeger, chart time rectified by Larry Ely and Eric Francis.

With this blend we get the enduring, deeply rooted power of Taurus expressing itself through the clever, verbally focused and multi-faceted personality structure of Gemini.

Yet that Gemini Moon is opposite the core of our galaxy, giving it a transcendent quality, as if he was channeling the supreme intelligence of the universe, translating it into language that everyone, even critters, can understand.

His Taurus Sun illustrates how he was driven by his deepest values, with passion stoked by Mars. Seeger truly lived in the “blacksmith shop of the soul” as Alice Bailey once described Taurus. Mars and the Sun together in Taurus say peaceful warrior like few things can.

His Gemini Moon lightened that presentation, gave him truly excellent verbal gifts, and a love of making contact with anyone and everyone. The Gemini Moon also afforded him many means of expression. I’ve also noticed that musicians with strong Gemini tend to be multi-instrumentalists (think Paul McCartney).

“He was an inveterate journalist and pamphleteer at Harvard, involved in a host of extracurricular activities, all of which took him off his studies, so he left in April of his freshman year. All through his life he was a student of music genres, origins, and of musicology,” said astrologer Larry Ely during our discussion of Seeger’s birth time.

Seeger had a potent alignment in the sign Aries (Mercury, Chiron, Nessus), which gave him sufficient personality struggle to seed an authentic quest for his true being; this is what he was able to express in his words (Mercury) as empathy for the human condition. In other words, this is not the chart of someone who has an ‘easy’ personality to live inside of, but he was tempered by the decades and he did the most important thing you can do if you want to grow and self-actualize, which is to express yourself.

He also had Jupiter and Pluto in Cancer, which you can think of as the golden thread weaving together all world religions. It is the aspect of “many shores, one lake” that is the basis of authentic spirituality.

Mainly, he was not afraid to use folk music as a spiritual tool, but he had the finesse to do it in a way that came across effectively. He was so effective that he was called to testify before the McCarthy hearings as a suspected communist during the 1950s.

Planet Waves
Pete Seeger’s banjo, inscribed with the words “this machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” Photo: Jim, the Photographer (CC-BY).

One of our editors, Carol van Strum, recalled: “During the Vietnam war, I think it was, Pete Seeger was on some major network show with big wigs arguing about the war, pro and con. He didn’t say a word, just sat there while the talk got more and more heated. Then softly he just started strumming “This Land Is Your Land.” At first no one noticed, and then the arguing politicos’ voices dwindled, leaving just the banjo. It was a truly spontaneous, glorious moment.”

Seeger had a strong connection to the Hudson Valley of New York, where much of Planet Waves is written. He co-founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an organization that has done much to call attention to General Electric’s PCBs contaminating the Hudson river, and which has hosted the Clearwater Revival for decades.

One of Pete’s last performances was at Brook Farm in New Paltz, New York, where he came to support young farmers whose land was being taken away by a corporate “environmental” organization [see Planet Waves coverage here].

The suit-and-tie environmentalists twice tried to persuade Seeger not to play that day, but he was undeterred. Even at age 94, he came out in the pouring down rain and held a house concert for a small group of people at the farming co-op.

“I have not seen my father so pleased with an afternoon of music in a long time,” his daughter Tinya Seeger wrote to Brook Farm Project’s leadership. “The afternoon was such a relief for him. He loved seeing so many local singing young people and is enthusiastically in support of all of you.”

So dust off your old banjo, tune up your guitar or tap on an old coffee can — and tell it like it is.

Now they took Pete Seeger before the law,
put him on the witness stand,
but he stood right up to tyranny
with a banjo in his hand.

Such a righteous banjo picker
watching out for me and you,
that was just a man that wouldn’t back down
on three chords and the truth

Three chords and the truth
three chords and the truth,
the only crime Pete Seeger done
was three chords and the truth.

He sang his freedom songs real good,
he’s still getting his message through,
you better check out old Pete Seeger on
three chords and the truth.
— from “Three Chords and the Truth,” by Ry Cooder

Section Writing and Editing Credits: News items below are written and edited by a team consisting of Hillary Conary, Anne Craig, Eric Francis, Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Painter, Susan Starr, Chad Woodward and Carol van Strum. Coordinating Editor: Elizabeth Michaud. Page assembled and coded by Anatoly Ryzhenko. Special thanks to the Fact Checkers List, which goes over each edition on Thursday night — and to our main astrology fact-checker Alex Miller, and Amanda, who goes over all their suggestions. Our editions are also proofread and fact-checked by Jessica Keet.


Planet Waves

Up, Down, Turn Around

Are you feeling the sense of impending change and rapid transition in the air? If so, I am not surprised — that is what’s happening. Get ready to make some fast changes in direction over the next few days and few weeks.

Thursday was the Aquarius New Moon and Friday, Venus stations direct. Let’s take those one at a time. The Aquarius New Moon — the conjunction of the Moon and the Sun in Aquarius — was yesterday (Thursday) afternoon at 4:39 pm.

Planet Waves
Chart for the Aquarius New Moon, which was Thursday afternoon. Venus stations direct today. Mercury has entered Pisces, where it’s about to station retrograde.

New Moons begin a cycle — and this one is especially significant, as it’s the Lunar New Year, celebrated by several Asian cultures. This friendly event with a “let’s get together” theme is still unfolding and will come to a peak with the Leo Full Moon on Feb. 14. The Moon-Sun conjunction is supported by many other planets, most notably Uranus in Aries. This is a beautiful chart for participation in any kind of group or collective experience while expressing your individuality.

Normally we think of groups of any kind (the posse you hang with, the company you work for, the Rotary Club) as having only limited capacity to embrace individuality. If that’s the case, it’s not really a group; it’s mass consciousness.

You’re unlikely to be invited to step out, however — you will need to push the issue and see what happens. If you cannot be yourself, you don’t belong there — wherever ‘there’ is.

Then today (Friday), Venus stations direct in Capricorn at 3:49 pm EST. Venus retrogrades are subtle, and they are interesting. This one has potentially been a review of family history, and a probing into the question of emotional obligation.

Venus has been retrograde since Dec. 21, the first day of Northern Hemisphere winter. This was a rare Venus retrograde, entirely in Capricorn; the last time that happened was the winter of 1802-1803. This event feels like a release and a reminder to keep your mind focused on the present, with the people who are among you.

If a chart ever said, “love the one you’re with,” this is it.

Less than one week from now, on Feb. 6, Mercury stations retrograde in Pisces. It will be retrograde for three weeks, ending on Feb. 28.

Once Mercury is done being retrograde on Feb. 28, Mars stations retrograde for the next 10 weeks. That is the central event of 2014, and the main focus of this year’s annual readings, called The Mars Effect.

The Chinese Year of the Wood Horse

Clean your house so that luck and prosperity have room to enter in, but hide the brooms and dustpans so that it cannot be swept away again! Yesterday was the first New Moon after the first Full Moon after the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice, making today the first day of the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year — kicking off the Year of the Wood Horse (last year was a Water Snake year).

Planet Waves
This illuminated decoration is from previous Year of the Horse celebrations in Belmore Park, Sydney, Australia. Photo: J Bar/Wikimedia Commons.

Celebrated in numerous Asian countries in addition to China, and by Asian expats living the world over, the festival actually lasts 16 days including the eve before the first day. Each day of the festival, which marks the time from this New Moon to its corresponding Full Moon, has its own particular focus and traditional activities associated with it, culminating with the Lantern Festival.

The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 animals. In the form of it that we know, the animal signs each relate to an entire year of the Chinese calendar (in addition to each of the months, although Westerners tend to be aware only of the correspondence of animals with each year). They also correspond to hours of the day, which determines the ascendant. For example, Horse rising is from 11 am to 1 pm, when the Sun is high in the sky. That tells you something about the year of the Horse — it calls on us to shine like the Sun at noon.

Each sign also cycles through five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) and alternates between having a Yin quality (female, receptive) or a Yang quality (masculine, assertive).

This Wood Horse year is also a Yang year. According to JB writing for The Feng Shui Society of the UK, “The previous Horse year was a Water Horse in 2002. The previous Wood Horse year was in 1954, sixty years ago.”

This means that if you are turning 60 this year, you have lived a full cycle of all sixty animal-element combinations (Congratulations!).

What is a Yang Wood Horse year likely to bring?

Planet Waves
Dragon in the Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, New York City, in 2012. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Apparently the Horse is already the most Yang of the 12 animals — fast and fiery (though grounded by some earth and its four hooves), with passions that run high. Romance and excitement may heat up, but so too could anger or conflict. The Wood element is about reaching upwards, planning the future and furthering your ideas in the world; the trick is to stay in the driver’s (or rider’s) seat.

Wild swings of emotion have the potential to tap into the Fire underlying Wood, causing plans to go up in smoke. Have a backup plan for important changes and decisions.

At the same time, when you let your passion sit idly, opportunities can be missed and momentum on projects stalls. There is a balance to be struck between giving a horse free rein so it can carry you swiftly to your destination, and keeping a firm hand so you can guide it without losing your seat.

Feng shui practitioner Raymond Lo told Reuters: “The upcoming Horse year is also a ‘Yang Wood’ year, when people will stick more to their principles and stand firm. So it is hard to negotiate or compromise as there are more tendencies for people to fight for their ideals.”

It’s important to identify when you can loosen your stand to allow progress for the benefit of all to continue.

If your business involves wood or fire, you should do well. If your personal Chinese zodiac sign is the Horse, you may encounter some tension and pressure in your life, as Horse meeting Horse throws off the Yin-Yang balance, according to some Chinese astrologers. Others, however, say this time of meeting your own sign can be rich for self-reflection. That’s a Horse worth putting some money on.


Planet Waves

Snowden Nominated for Nobel; Angry Birds Tattling on You

While the war-and-spying-obsessed U.S. government will not be awarding NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden any prizes anytime soon, not everyone is buying the attempt to cast him as a traitor. In the same week that new revelations about NSA data collection from mobile phone games emerged, and the Obama administration announced it will allow Internet companies to speak more specifically about when they are required by the government to turn over customer data, two Norwegian politicians nominated Snowden for a Nobel Peace Prize Wednesday.

Planet Waves
Edward Snowden; screen capture from his interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras on June 6, 2013.

Politicians from Norway’s Socialist Left party — Baard Vegar Solhjell, a former environment minister, and Snorre Valen — remarked that “the public debate and policy changes in the wake of Snowden’s whistleblowing had ‘contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order’,” according to The Guardian.

Snowden might not be the most likely winner among the scores of nominations, yet this acknowledgment speaks volumes about how citizens of nations other than the United States view the information Snowden leaked — information that is still emerging.

Take, for example, the latest revelations that the NSA has been collecting huge amounts of personal data from games such as the ridiculously popular Angry Birds and other ‘leaky apps’ — so called because as they are used, personal information ranging from where the user has been to their smartphone identification codes travels along the data pipelines and can be intercepted.

According to documents provided by Snowden, the NSA was working with its British counterpart on the collection and storage of leaked data from smartphone apps as early as 2007.

“Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, telephone logs and the geographic data embedded in photographs when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other Internet services,” reported The New York Times, based on documents shared by The Times, The Guardian and ProPublica.

As Planet Waves has reported before, even just a person’s record of calls can outline their entire life pattern for the NSA; the agency has more than just ‘patterns’ to work with now.

Planet Waves
You think you’re just hurling angry red birds at green pigs; really, all your personal data is leaking through the Interwebs to the NSA, possibly through this server aisle at Google’s data center in Oklahoma. Photo: Connie Zhou/Google.

User profiles created by online ad agencies offer government spies incredibly sensitive data — such as political affiliation and sexual preference. A secret British intelligence document from 2012 states that phones can be “scrubbed” for this info. In case you need it spelled out for you, this is the kind of information dictators and police states use to persecute and torture activists and ‘enemies’, whether real or imagined, to keep them scared, quiet and out of the way.

In light of these recent revelations, the Justice Department’s announcement this week that customers of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook will now have a slightly better idea of when the government asks these companies for customer data seems barely worth noting. The legal dispute began last year following Snowden’s initial revelations about the heavy use of Internet and social-networking data by the NSA and FBI.

The Obama Administration also announced Thursday that Admiral Michael S. Rogers, a cryptologist, has been tapped as the new director of the NSA, replacing General Keith Alexander. Rogers will also command the new Pentagon unit directing the country’s offensive cyberoperations.

From here, it all sounds ‘offensive’.


Planet Waves

A Ray of Light for Sick Sailors

Several members of Congress have requested an inquiry by the Department of Defense into the ongoing medical problems plaguing U.S. Navy sailors who were exposed to high doses of radiation near Fukushima Daiichi. The Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Hal Rogers of Kentucky, submitted the order in the 2014 fiscal bill on January 15.

Planet Waves
U.S. Navy first responders who were exposed to Fukushima fallout may soon get some relief, but not all health effects from radiation can be reversed. Photo: Nicholas A. Groesch/U.S. Navy.

Crew members onboard the USS Ronald Reagan rushed to the east coast of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, on a humanitarian mission to supply aid to the ravaged area. (Read Planet Waves coverage here.) The first responders were not warned of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, which released a radioactive plume heading straight for them.

Lawmakers from the House have asked Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson to gather data on the medical issues that resulted from this radiation exposure, such as leukemia, thyroid problems, gynecological problems, polyps and tumors. The bill directs the Secretary to “take all necessary steps to ensure that any health effects resulting from this humanitarian mission are fully addressed.” If the bill is passed into law, Dr. Woodson’s report will be due back in Congress by April 15.

The afflicted sailors have joined together in a lawsuit against TEPCO, the power plant’s operating company, seeking compensation for punitive damages. Paul Garner, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told Stars and Stripes that the request by Congress is a positive step in the ongoing battle; “It feels like maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But we shall see.”


Planet Waves

Farm Bill Passes House, Aggravates Many

After two years of bickering, the least productive Congress in United States history passed a farm bill this Wednesday. Some of what’s in it has been praised by specific constituencies — Christmas tree growers are pleased with a provision that will allow them to collect a fee of 15 cents per tree for promotion of their industry — but the list of the dissatisfied is far longer.

Planet Waves
A cartoon by the Food and Water Watch website.

The first farm bill was passed in 1933, to support struggling farmers and stabilize crop prices during the Depression. The bill governs all spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including farm-related policies and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.

Republicans wanted SNAP funding cut by $40 billion; this version cuts $8.5 billion, meaning about 850,000 households will see benefits cut by $90 per month. The USDA’s Economic Research Service predicts that food prices will continue to rise by about 2.5% to 3.5% over 2014.

Corporate welfare fared better. “The farm bill would plow most of the savings from ending widely discredited ‘direct’ payments — subsidies paid regardless of whether a landowner grows a crop — into other subsidy programs,” said Sara Sciammacco, communications director for the watchdog Environmental Working Group. “It is a bait-and-switch. The new subsidies will further tilt the playing field in favor of the largest farmers, increase the cost of farm subsidies to taxpayers, and create new incentives for farmers to plow up even more wetlands and prairies.”

Republican senator Mitch McConnell, facing election-year challenges in both primary and general  elections, advocated an amendment that will establish test plots for cultivating industrial hemp.

The bill is more than 900 pages long and is expected to pass the Senate shortly, after which it lands on Obama’s desk.

State of the Union: God Help Us, All Agree

President Obama stuck to his familiar rhetorical style for Tuesday’s State of the Union address, using anecdotes to illustrate his points and highlighting the ways in which he believes he is succeeding. Acknowledging the partisan struggles that have kept Washington mired in gridlock, he said he would use the power of executive order to bypass legislators if necessary, and used the word “together” twelve times.

Planet Waves
One thing everyone agrees on: Thank God it’s over.

Progressives were displeased with his praising fossil fuels and urging “bipartisan trade promotion authority,” which is interpreted as “fast track the (very controversial) Trans Pacific Partnership.” Assertions of the reality of global warming, support for the peace process with Iran, and a reminder that he still wants Guantanamo Bay closed may have helped somewhat.

Then came the response…and the response…and the response. The opposing party preparing a scripted rebuttal to the SOTU became a tradition in American politics in 1982, when Democrats felt it would serve them to reply to Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric. But there’s never been a year quite like this.

The official GOP response came from Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), who used the example of her own ascension from apple picking to Congress to illustrate the America the GOP wants to create, which sounds like the one Obama spoke of, although the word “together” was not used. Both speeches ended by asking the Almighty’s blessing.

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) responded on behalf of the Tea Party faction, blaming “government-driven inequality” for failing schools, abortion rights, gay marriage rights and environmental regulation. He used the word “together” four times, and also ended by invoking the Deity.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) took to YouTube to deliver his very own response. He invoked “the democracy of the marketplace.” He too asked that God bless America.

All of the speeches claimed the solution to income inequality, which two-thirds of Americans identified as a problem. Lee’s reference to corporate welfare probably played about as well with the corporate Tea Party backers as Obama’s adherence to his ‘all of the above’ energy policy did with environmentalists.

Takeaway, perhaps: The state of the union? Fractured in several places, especially within the Republican ranks. But hey, you knew that before Tuesday.


Planet Waves

Keystone XL Only Part of Pipeline Problem

Crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands began flowing this month from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast through the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, while debate continues to rage over whether Obama should approve the northern leg, the Keystone XL. Advocates for fossil fuels say that the repeated spills and derailments of trains carrying crude (see last week’s Planet Waves story on “bomb trains”) are a good reason to allow the XL, which would have double the carrying capacity.

Planet Waves
Protestors outside the White House make their voices heard: pipelines carrying tar sands oil are bad news for the environment. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters.

What they don’t want to talk about, besides the fact that many environmental advocates believe tar sands extraction to be a bad idea in the first place, is the record of environmentally devastating leaks in oil pipelines. Just this month, an Enbridge Energy pipeline called Line 67 spilled about 125 barrels in Saskatchewan, Canada. Enbridge is working to double Line 67’s capacity, increasing the chances of a repeat of 2010’s major spill that spewed about a million gallons into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

Since then, 251 spills of various sizes have been recorded — including one in North Dakota last September that leaked 20,000 barrels. A study by the Wall Street Journal found that the industry’s leak detection alarms and software only catch about one in five leaks; the rest are discovered by employees and neighbors, often after they’ve been leaking for a while.


Planet Waves

Every Sperm Is Sacred — But Is It Legal?

Two stories about legal proceedings involving sperm donors have been making headlines recently. In one, a man who agreed to provide semen to a lesbian couple so they could conceive is being sued by the state of Kansas — not the women involved — for owed child support; in the other, a family who used a fertility clinic more than 20 years ago in Utah has learned that a clinic employee switched his semen with the specimen provided by the father, and he might have done it to others.

Planet Waves
“Artificial Insemination,” tongue-in-cheek C-print featuring tadpoles, dinner plate and black T-shirt, 1998. Photo by Nina Katchadourian.

William Marotta, 47, of Topeka, Kansas, answered a Craigslist ad in 2009 placed by two women who had “gotten the cold shoulder from a physician.” He provided his sperm so they could perform the insemination themselves. The three signed a contract that he would not in any way act as the father of any resulting child.

The State of Kansas is now seeking to recoup $4,000 in state assistance it has given to the biological mother, plus child support. A judge ruled in favor of the state late last week; Marotta and his lawyer plan to appeal as soon as possible.

According to a provision of the Kansas Parentage Act, “The donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in the law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived, unless agreed to in writing by the donor and the woman.”

The Kansas Department for Children and Families, in a prepared statement to ABCNews.com, maintains that the provision as worded makes it clear that “individuals [donating sperm] must go through a licensed physician in order to avoid the financial responsibilities associated with parenthood.”

Marotta’s lawyer, Ben Swinnen, has argued that the intention of the law when it was written in 1973 was to protect heterosexual couples using sperm donation from later interference from the biological father. Swinnen also maintains the lawsuit is “politically motivated” in a state with a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. Gee, you think?

Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, Utah, an investigation has been launched by the University of Utah into whether or not a man named Thomas Lippert, who was employed by both the now-defunct Reproductive Medical Technologies, Inc. (RMTI) and the former University of Utah Community Laboratory (also closed) may have substituted his semen for the semen of scores of other donors — without any knowledge of the women seeking to get pregnant.

Planet Waves
Photo given by Thomas Lippert to his mother of an unidentified child he claimed to have fathered via regular sperm donation.

The issue came to light when a mother and the daughter she had conceived using artificial insemination, presumably with her husband’s sperm, decided to do DNA testing through 23andME just for fun. Through a series of surprising discoveries detailed by genetic genealogist and television consultant Ce Ce Moore, the family found that the daughter’s DNA did not match her father’s, and kept investigating.

The trail led to Thomas Lippert: a former law professor who once kidnapped a college student and held her captive in a dark room, applying electroshock treatments to her in a bizarre experiment to make her fall in love with him. Lippert served a grand total of two years out of a six-year sentence, and inexplicably landed a job in a fertility clinic despite his criminal record. He has since passed away, as has the founder of RMTI, complicating the investigation.

The family — Pam, John and Annie Branum — have gone public with their story so that other families who used the clinics in question during the late 1980s and early 1990s can find out whether they received the right semen, setting up an informational blog.

The University of Utah has also set up a website detailing the steps they are taking to investigate, complete with their official statement, FAQ and telephone hotline.


Planet Waves

Citizens Halt Monsanto Maize Treatment Plant — For Now

Monsanto has lost round one to residents of Malvinas Argentinas, the Argentine town where the company has started the construction site for the world’s biggest maize seed treatment plant.

Planet Waves
A protest sign posted outside Monsanto’s seed production plant in Argentina reads, “Stop looting and contaminating! Monsanto out of Cordoba and Argentina” Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/AP.

Malvinas Assembly Fighting for Life and other organizations in the town began to protest outside the site on Sept. 18, and brought a lawsuit to halt construction. A provincial labor court ruling on Jan. 8 upheld the activists’ cause.

The court ruled that the municipal ordinance authorizing construction of the plant was unconstitutional. It ordered a halt to construction work and banned the Malvinas Argentinas government from authorizing the construction until Monsanto carries out an environmental impact assessment and a public hearing is held. The company stated that it had already conducted an environmental assessment, which is currently under review by the provincial Secretary of the Environment.

Monsanto is planning an appeal to have the decision overturned by the provincial High Court. The Jan. 8 ruling cannot prevent the installation of the plant, which is scheduled to become operational this year, but if the environmental impact assessment is unfavorable to the company, Monsanto will not be able to build the plant in Malvinas Argentinas, said Federico Macciocchi, the lawyer representing the residents.

The company is planning to build more than 200 maize silos and to use agrochemical products to treat the seeds. Scientific studies have shown negative effects on health from both seed transportation and handling of and exposure to different agrochemical products, and this casts reasonable doubt on the safety of the plant, said Victor Mazzalay, a social researcher funded by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council at the University of Cordoba, and a resident of Malvinas Argentinas.

“When there is a health risk related to environmental issues, reasonable doubt should bring the precautionary principle into play; that is, an activity should not be developed until it has definitely been proved to be harmless,” he said.


Planet Waves

Venus Direct, Aquarius New Moon and Trippy Electronica

In the first edition of Planet Waves FM after completing your 2014 readings, Eric’s theme is “the weather” versus “the climate” in astrology. He looks at the Aquarius New Moon and Venus direct, as well as the series of Mars-Eris oppositions — and how they fit into the Uranus-Pluto square. For additional resources please see the full post.
Planet Waves

Have you ordered your 2014 readings by Eric Francis yet? The Mars Effect (our 16th annual edition!) has just published, and includes in-depth audio and written readings for your Sun, Moon and rising signs. We always receive a flood of positive feedback for these readings, and it shows just how meaningful they are. One customer wrote, “Every minute of Eric’s reading is worth gold.” We’re offering you a special package price of $79 for all twelve signs, available only to current Planet Waves members. Or you may purchase individual signs for $29.95.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

We published your extended monthly horoscopes for February on Friday, Jan. 24. Your extended monthly horoscopes for January  were published Friday, Jan. 3. We published Moonshine horoscopes for the Cancer Full Moon Tuesday, Jan. 14. Moonshine horoscopes for the Aquarius New Moon published Tuesday, Jan. 28. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign; Inner Space usually publishes the following Tuesday.


Planet Waves

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, #985 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Count on a friend or partner who is ready to step up to the challenge. You can be sure that a recent close call in this person’s life reminded them what really matters; it was truly a lesson learned. Meanwhile, this situation or one related to it taught you that you must refine your political skills. This is not just a matter of being able to play the game, though that counts for a lot — or rather, doing so without losing your soul. It’s also important to say thank you and please, to leave no email unanswered, let people know where you stand on commitments to them, and be honest about your values. It’s important to treat allies like allies. Put on hold — for good — any impulse to be aloof, a bitch or needlessly cocky. Success is a human skill, always fostered by the good graces of your fellow humans.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — This may be one of the great moments in many years for knowing and understanding who you are. This has not been an easy aspect of life for you, though suddenly you are making actual progress — and you feel it. You may have discovered that where self-knowledge is concerned, the answers you get are only as helpful as the questions you ask are meaningful. To ask meaningful questions requires some knowledge. At the very least, you’ve come this far. In this, you seem to have discovered the secret to having faith in yourself. That’s the one about how much better it is to make a significant discovery by yourself, on your own terms. That will come in handy when someone you care about embarks on their own inner journey. Those close to you have learned something from your inner quest, and you have a feel for the appropriate space to hold when someone else is there.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — You are getting some clues about a career move, which is more like a re-envisioning of your life. This is not the kind of thing you do all at once, though there are indeed flashes of brilliance and illumination that can happen. Be aware that you don’t need to be in a place of love and light for that to be true, though you will feel better if you are. Either way, this is a moment when you can actually feel that your potential is real. Work with that. Get your idea into some tangible form, not just merely an inner picture or notion. Sketch it, put it on paper, write it down, come back to it the next day, revise, invent, reinvent. Keep all your notes. Keep going. Try one version where you describe what you would do in a perfect world with any opportunity. If you notice yourself declaring anything impossible, don’t believe it.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Were I writing this horoscope in 1930, I would look at your solar chart and say, “Expect a letter from overseas.” But it’s 2014 and you’ve probably already had 20 pieces of spam from Kazakhstan today. However, you can still expect a meaningful communication from a friend in another country — and before that happens, use your astrology consciously and reach out across the water. For those whose work involves any form of writing and publishing, this is a glorious moment. Notice your own thoughts going by. You seem aligned to receive the idea of a lifetime. Remember that the best ideas are not merely concepts; they are like archetypes that you develop a relationship to over time. Some of the most beautiful encounters begin in a subtle way, and develop in an individual way. Therefore, set aside your prejudices and look at the world through your wide-angle lens.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — The recent New Moon in your relationship house opens up the potential for a previously closed or strained connection to be re-opened. Check whether people close to you are suddenly more in the mood to negotiate and exchange — though never underestimate the value of your own willingness to have a real conversation. Use that resolve wisely; many others do not possess it in the abundance that you do. Start the conversation. When in doubt, listen for a while. Let the ideas that people express turn over in your mind until you have a grasp of where they’re coming from. That is likely to feel like a breakthrough. The more taboo the subject, the better. This is the time to say what was impossible before. Yes, this involves a risk and yes, these exchanges will change you and shape you and also your relationship. That’s the whole idea; that is what it means to relate in an open way.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You currently have some of the most interesting sex transits I’ve seen in a while. Here’s how it looks to me: The hot-spot is self-focus — that of you or whomever you’re interested in. Many experience this but few will say much about it. Part of our culture’s obsession with relationship is a way of making narcissism acceptable and cool. It’s culturally acceptable to express it through another person. In reality we are all in relationship to one another’s self-love (or less savory feelings directed toward oneself). How the partners feel about themselves, rather than about one another, sets the tone of the relationship more than anything, in my view. And this is what you are free to explore, in an unusually delightful way. This would go from the dark to the light, not just the feelings you say are ‘good’. Another way to read this chart is as the bold message to indulge in guilty pleasures. And I’m not talking about Fettuccine Alfredo.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You’re not a child anymore — be glad of that. You are also larger than the maze of feelings that have dominated you for so long. It would be worth asking why you had to make the mistakes so often, so that you don’t have to make them again. Yet there really was only one error in judgment, which was doubting your right to exist as the person you are — not who anyone else would have you be. There is always another opportunity to make that mistake — or to choose differently. The new form it could take is reluctance to do what is right for you; or as reluctance to act on your feelings. You might assign that to an emotional obligation, however if you feel any sense of obligation or guilt, you are probably dealing with a hangover from someone who was determined to teach you that you were not really free. Any such teaching would be false, because such a thing cannot be determined by anyone but you.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — A loved one or close partner may influence you to change your mind about something you have believed — or misbelieved — for a long time. Don’t worry if it feels strange that you’re being influenced by someone else; if there is trust, that is the bottom line. Coming around on an issue or giving up an old position is a necessary skill. The world has a lot of this that it needs to do, in order to get out of its current circumstances, which specifically come down to being stuck in the past. Yet there is a deeper lesson about you needing, and wanting, to be more mentally flexible, and more open to new ideas. Nothing has validity merely on the basis of “that’s how it was done before.” Value must re-affirm itself in every moment. It’s often said that there is nothing like an idea whose time has come — I would add there’s nothing like an idea whose time is done.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You are reaching the point where, if you don’t make a conscious move, you know something is going to come ‘out of nowhere’ and make the move for you. This is a way of life for some — wait long enough, something happens, a decision is made for them. In their minds, they are ‘saved’ from the responsibility of having to choose. That however subverts the single most important power we possess — the power of decision. I suggest you remove the elements of chance and self-coercion from your decision-making process. Stay as far as you can from that zone where you feel like you will be forced to choose. You don’t need to experience life on this level. The pleasure of the moment is about acting in a way that is wholly voluntary and in full accord with what you know, what you want and how you feel.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Venus is about to return to direct motion in your sign after a six-week retrograde. Whatever has happened to you in these weeks, I suggest you make a conscious choice to remember what you learned, and put it to work on a daily basis. Remember what you discovered about yourself, and don’t forget that it’s really about you, here and now, not some alternate version of yourself somewhere else. You may be wondering why it was necessary to put up so much resistance to something so obvious. You don’t owe anything your emotional loyalty, and the sensation of owing is what would render any affection worthless anyway. That you still may struggle with guilt is the product of what was done to you — not what you did to others. You can heal almost any relationship with your sincerity. What you may appreciate is that’s exactly how you heal yourself.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — This is the year when you’re going to figure out money. Yes, money. The great mystery. The endless source of worry. The eternally useful. The font of evil. The ever-elusive. You may be discovering that you have to be more realistic about this topic. You like to take a spiritual approach — which you always will — but I would propose that it’s more about practicality than it is about purity or idealism. In your particular case, there is a deep element of healing, which bears a strong resemblance to acting on what you know to be true. Any overly-idealistic notions you have about money are likely to obscure this fact. Any purity-based approach is likely to obscure this fact, such as the desire not to seem materialistic or to have ‘clean hands’. Practical starts with honoring your values. If you don’t like gambling, you don’t go to the track. If you feel any activity for which you are paid is out of accord with your values, choose what is in accord. There is little or no gray area here.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Continue to take an organizational approach to your life and your work. Whatever you’re doing, you’re not in it alone. You are accompanied by those who have similar values as you do, and those who have similar respect for existence. You know that you’re alive in a moment of profound change, and you’re very likely to be feeling a calling to contribute. That is the theme on which to relate to others around you. Refuse to honor apathy or incompetence as values. Take the lead on focusing the mission of your community. Do this through constant communication with others, and with the determination to gently build consensus. You’re likely to feel like there is some missing element, lack of contact or a blind spot that you have to deal with; don’t take that so seriously. You’re on precisely the right path to get to the destination you want. Developments over the next week or so may not prove that point, though within a month or so I think you’ll be absolutely confident. Till then, have faith.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

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