This Hot Mess

Occupy Wall Street protest at Times Square, October 15, 2011. Photo by Eric Francis.

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Dear Friend and Reader:

If you dare to watch the news, you may get the idea that civilization is unraveling, or at best, that the political situation of the United States is so mired in its own insanity that it’s never going to get out of the swamp.

We are watching, silently for the most part, while every major problem that affects the world is being ignored. We are watching while war and epidemics spiral out of control — and yet while everything else is being made into an issue.

F-15 protest against the then-imminent war against Iraq, taken from Hungerford Bridge, in Embankment, London, Feb. 15, 2003. Photo by Simon Rutherford / Wikimedia.

All aspects of life — success, failure, education or the lack of it, poverty, wealth, gender, economics, one’s skin color, the food we eat, one’s internal organs (especially if female), the heat that prevents you from freezing in the winter, all communications from the most private to the most public, the meekest personal choice and even the subtlest emotion, are all subject to being politicized.

That is a weird word, and a stranger concept. In our time of history where it seems the destiny of humanity and every other species is being gambled, we are all standing at the intersection of the personal and the political.

Every last thing we desire, need, think or do can be turned into a political commodity, processed by spin doctors, spliced into a 30-second ad and force-fed back to us with an emotional charge designed to manipulate — that is, politicized. Our political systems, that is, the structures that supposedly run society, are nakedly answerable to nothing but the power of money. We all watch as the opinions of ordinary people and the wellbeing of ordinary people are ignored.

We are told there are issues, but nearly all the time, ideology is merely packaging designed to motivate political contributions.Congressional representatives, who must seek re-election every two years, spend their entire terms fundraising for the next election.

When I look at many politicians, I see a strange sickness emanating from them. It is imprinted on their faces, in their body language, in their voices and in what passes for reason. The parade looks like a pageant for who should get their photo in the dictionary next to the term “narcissistic wounding.” I look at many of them and wonder how anyone, anyone at all, could take them seriously; could trust them with anything, much less the fate of society.

Politics is deceptive, and for at least as long as we know, it always has been. Of the people I know who are involved in politics, I expect most of them to lie to me. I have for many years had friends in politics and as time has gone on, I have noticed that fewer and fewer of them reveal any capacity for truth — by which I mean their words and their actions being in alignment. It’s not enough to be personable or charming to seem real. The bottom line is that metric between words and actions.

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Protesters light up their cell phones in solidarity in Hong Kong during pro-democracy protests, Oct. 2, 2014. Photo by Xaume Olleros

When I was in my 20s, I got out of political campaign writing, something I was passionate about, because I figured out that in order to do that particular job, I would need to lie to the public on a routine basis.

I have done so personally. I have said things to public bodies, been quoted in newspapers and made written statements that were untrue based on my understanding that it’s simply how the game is played — and that my role as campaign manager was to win the game.

For example, in politics one never reveals a candidate’s true position if it’s going to cost the candidate votes without some other gain. One never gives their opponent an edge like that. If there is a campaign spending limit, and the limit prevented a real campaign, I would break the rules and do it in as untraceable a way as I could, and make sure the supporting documents looked good. In the campaigns where this happened, every single candidate did the same thing; if you did not, you would be assured to lose, which defeats the purpose of running.

I was always sure to lie for the ‘right’ cause and on behalf of the ‘right’ people, people I sincerely supported and had personally vetted, though it was deception nonetheless. Not wanting to play that game, indeed being disgusted by that game, I got out, and pursued being an investigative reporter, where verifiable truth is the only commodity. My time spent directly in politics was a blight on my conscience that took me many years to work out. This is why it helps immensely not to have a conscience if you want to be in politics.

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WTO week, 1999: Protest, puppets and pepper spray transformed the streets of Seattle — and a movement. Photo via Seattle Weekly.

Deception is the very feedstock of politics, as the game is currently played, and as it’s been played for a long time. One must actually do it personally to understand this fact in a meaningful way, and even then few will ever admit it. Once you’ve been involved, then it’s possible to look at any person in a position of power making a statement and know that the statement is either an outright lie, or conceals some deeper truth.

I think that on some level, most people understand this intuitively, though there’s another problem. Many who are eager supporters of one side or another, or who have dedicated their lives to an issue, are happy to have their self-deceptions affirmed by the glamour and supposed glory of the political ritual.

In politics, once you win, it no longer matters how you got there — at least not to the winner. It does not matter if there is collateral damage. This is especially true when a political position hurts others or deprives them of their rights. When you look at the political game, at the orgy of fear and manipulation, and if you think it’s in some way normal, you have been swallowed.

I have also worked for some fantastic candidates who were strong enough that the truth was the thing of value. In those circumstances there was no reason to lie, except for the little part about campaign spending limits, which (where it may have once existed) seems to be a rule made to be broken.

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Fake Michael Moore working for fake FOX News conducts pretend interview at Occupy Wall Street, October 2011. Photo by Beth Bagner.

This problem manifests on many other levels, most of them rather sly. The idea that it’s OK to lie in order to get your way is a manifestation of politics. A great many people feel that it’s OK to lie, as long as they deem it harmless and convenient (for them). In that condition, there is no question of personal integrity, and it’s then impossible to hold others to a standard of personal integrity and not be a hypocrite.

This is a reflection of the larger politics that overshadows us, and it’s something that feeds and vindicates the conduct of politicians. In other words, those who lie, and lie to themselves as a way of life, are far likelier to accept the fact that their supposed leaders lie as a way of life. To compromise truth means that after a while it becomes impossible to see it, and it is then perceived as nonexistent. Everything is just another position, just another posture.

Meanwhile, we are confronted by local and global problems that we know are urgent, and at the same time facing political problems that just seem intractable. The system, especially on the federal level, is not broken; it’s a rusted-out wreck. It has some of its original shape, it’s vaguely recognizable as what it once was — but it sure looks like it ain’t goin’ nowhere.

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It is into this hot mess that we are called upon to show up for an election and cast a ballot. We are called upon to take politics seriously enough to take time out of work, errands, taking care of the kids, Facebook or whatever, and fill in the little circle. We are called upon to have some integrity and participate in a way that is integral to civic life. We are called upon to do what people have been shot at for demanding the right to do.

We must, by some miracle, pretend that all of this insanity does not exist, and make some rational choices about who will be better. It’s not easy, because nearly everything that happens in politics is an invitation to ignore politics, to tune it out, to get distracted or to do something seemingly more important or more pleasant.

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New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez gets in the face of New York City cops during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Wire photo.

Everything we see in politics offers some evidence that it doesn’t really matter, and that the best we get is the lesser of two evils.

It therefore takes extra courage to have the discernment to see there is one political party that has made it a point to repeatedly shut down the government. There is one political party that blocks nearly every vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It’s a party of government officials, paid from the public coffers, who proclaim hatred of the government itself, and are willing to damage or destroy it any way they can. There is one political party that does everything — anything and everything — to block participation in elections.

There is one political party whose platform involves being against people having the right to seek health care. There is one party that would block all reproductive rights of women, which lately (and astonishingly) would include blocking access to pregnancy prevention. Both of these are in violation of long-settled constitutional law, and common sense.

There is another political party that has problems of its own. In many ways it is equally sold out, not to Greenpeace but to the same mega corporate interests as their counterparts. They demonstrate their being sold out by refusing to fight; by refusing to stand on any principles whatsoever.

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Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9. Photo by Scott Olson.

Together both of these parties create a system that seems to support the status quo, that suppresses new voices and new ideas, and that makes you wonder who is who.

Meanwhile, the struggle of life has many people feeling exhausted and demoralized. People feeling stripped of not just their humanity but also of their basic energy are not necessarily in a position to participate, or to fight. People who are “entertained to death” may see little reason to get up off the couch, as long as they still have one.

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Despite some compelling appearances, the political system is not as monolithic as it seems. There are many voices, many points of view, and yet there is a power structure that marginalizes and silences many of them. The other thing to remember is that nothing is as intractable as it seems. Nothing is as permanent. The wheel of progress, or of karma, or of justice, is always turning, no matter how slowly.

There are idealistic people who want to get involved; there are honest ones. In many ways it is the culture of politics that corrupts people, that grinds them down and that compromises them. The culture of mandatory deception makes people into liars. Somehow this has to stop.

While we are alive, there remains a future, and while there are people younger than us, there remains a future worth investing in. Cynicism is not a viable position because, of its own, it will produce nothing. Hope is not a viable position, because it does not lead to progress, and it can be as paralyzing as bitterness.

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Protesters against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi wave national flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo July 3, 2013. Photo by Mohamed Abd El Ghany.

Between these two extreme polarities, we have the power to do what we can. My position on voting is that it’s vitally important — and not the only important thing. It is, however, a first step. Just showing up to the polls, even if you submit a blank ballot as a protest, is evidence that people on the ground — which holds up the political ladder — are awake and paying attention.

Just like going to church on Sunday does not render one spiritual, voting does not render one a real participant. It’s necessary to find many other modes of involvement — beginning with being an informed citizen. If politics as it is thrives on one thing, it is festering ignorance. Ignorance is not stupidity. The root of ignorance is the word ignore — to voluntarily not know. Ignorance is a conscious choice.

For many years I was so disgusted that I did not vote. I participated in issues as a journalist, where I had much more influence than merely casting a ballot. At some point I changed my mind and made a different decision. It went something like this. I looked at who was benefitting from lack of participation, and I figured out that the other guys — that is, people whose positions on issues I could not stomach — were benefitting. It was that simple.

I also decided that it would be personally hypocritical to advocate awareness of politics and participation in politics and also set the example of not participating on the most basic level. So, I plan to vote in the Nov. 4 national and local election. I will need to hold my nose in some races, and I may write in the names of my friends in others. But I will be there.


P.S. If you want a refresher on the solar eclipse tonight in Scorpio, I recommend looking at our article Eclipses of October, which we published one month ago.

Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon in Kingston, New York by Planet Waves, Inc. Annual basic subscription rate: $99/year. Core community membership: $199/year. Editor and Publisher: Eric Francis Coppolino. Business Manager: Chelsea Bottinelli. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Astrology Editor: Amanda Painter. Copy Editor: Jessica Keet. Research, Writing and Editing: Planet Waves is produced by a team consisting of Fe Bongolan, Brendan Merritt, Amy Elliott, Judith Gayle, Kelly Janes, Amanda Moreno, Casey Smith, Carol van Strum, Len Wallick, Lizanne Webb and Chad Woodward.

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This week’s issue of Planet Waves’ environmental newsletter focuses primarily on environmental advances: the success of trans-border forested corridors for tigers moving between India and Nepal; the empowerment and training of Mongolian herders to use ‘camera traps’ to collect snow leopard data; rebounding vulture populations in India; China halting logging in a wide swath of state-owned forests; and the success of community-based sustainable agriculture in Burkina Faso. The fly in the ointment? The EPA’s approval of Dow’s new herbicide containing an Agent Orange ingredient and glyphosate.

You can read this week’s full edition here, and sign up here to receive Monsanto Eco every Tuesday.

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Planet Waves

The lyrics “So don’t tell me what to do; and don’t tell me what to say” speak to more than just a possessive boyfriend in today’s political climate. Consider that just recently, FOX News hosts urged young women to just “go back on Tinder or,” saying they don’t have the experience to vote.

Nobody Owns You

By Amanda Painter

Did you know that in the 2012 election, a full 53% of those who voted were women? So why are politicians so effective at whittling away women’s health rights — including access to birth control? More laws were passed in 2013 to limit women’s reproductive rights than in the entire previous decade.

Enter the Department of Peace, a group that’s taken to the Interwebs with a PSA video to encourage women not to ignore the Nov. 4 midterm elections in the U.S. In it, a parade of women (including celebrities) lip-synching Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit “You Don’t Own Me” are interspersed with factoids about women’s health rights in the U.S.

As the group writes on its website:

“Many of us may have access to good health care, but our experience being a woman — and our rights — shouldn’t depend on our zip code. Our sisters in Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Ohio, Arkansas, and so many other states don’t have what we have. The most regressive, anti­woman, anti­voting, anti­equality laws are being passed on the state level. This is why the MIDTERMS are so important.

“It’s not enough to vote — we have to vote like our futures are on the line­ because they are. That means you vote, but you also talk about voting. You post about voting. You bring some pals to the polls.”

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Planet Waves

Thom Yorke, main writer and lead singer for Radiohead.

Solar Eclipse, Mercury Direct and the Chart of Thom Yorke

We are in one of the most interesting astrological weeks in ages — on Thursday, the Moon, Venus and the Sun entered Scorpio at about the same time, followed by an eclipse of the Sun. Then two days later, Mercury stations direct in Libra. This is a lot of movement and it may have you feeling like you’re in a squeeze, under unusual stress or not knowing what to do. Easy does it — the astrology is moving fast and soon we will be in a whole new zone, the Scorpio zone.

Scorpio Eclipse Live Call-In Edition of Planet Waves FM

Wednesday evening we had a live edition of Planet Waves FM, with many listener call-ins. Note, we had some issues with the audio during the first 20 minutes of the program — this recording does not have that issue.

The program focused on tonight’s solar eclipse in Scorpio, Mercury stationing direct, and a diversity of themes and subjects that our many callers brought to the conversation. We talk about the progressed horoscope, what it is and how to use it; horary astrology; and why you want to ask your clients a few questions before you try to read the chart. There are no musical breaks, just a lot of dialog between me and our subscribers.

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Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

Your extended monthly horoscopes for November are published below in this issue. We published your extended monthly horoscopes for October  Thursday, Sept. 25. We also published your Inner Space horoscope for October  Tuesday, Sept. 30. Moonshine horoscopes for the Aries Full Moon published Tuesday, Oct. 7. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign.

If you want a refresher on the solar eclipse tonight in Scorpio, I recommend looking at our article Eclipses of October, which we published one month ago.

Planet Waves Monthly for November, 2014, #1021 By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Something you’ve recently learned or discovered about yourself now must be taken to heart in a relationship situation. Self-knowledge is the basis of any agreement you have with another person, and when you gain some of that (or what looks like quite a bit) it will necessarily influence your agreements with others. Or rather, it will if you are paying attention, and if you want to live sincerely. You have long known that you could not fit yourself into any situation or partnership that is smaller than you are. True, it’s the way of the world to try to cram ourselves into these situations, though such a compromise will eventually fall apart. You might start from the premise that no compromise is possible — not, at least, on the specific matters you have identified. And then what? Well, one solution to that puzzle is that you proceed as an individual on your own terms, and others will get to enter your life as individuals on their own terms. A relationship is not two people living as one, because in truth that is not possible. It’s two people acknowledging their mutual existence, respecting one another for their similarities and their differences. If this sounds like walking over a cliff, it’s because maturity is in short supply these days, though from the look of your chart, you are being called to tap into your deepest reserves.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — How you feel keeps changing, and that is the key to progress. If you are aware of the changes, then by definition you are aware of how you feel. That is the essence of your ability to direct the course of your life. All your other senses count, but your physical contact with your body and with your environment will provide your most intelligent guidance. That is a moment-to-moment reckoning with reality. You may be looking straight at the illusion that your existence is somehow about all these other people. They are involved, that’s for sure, though not quite in the role that you think. For one thing they don’t have the power to limit you. To the contrary, their role is to provide support, structure, and at times something to resist specifically so that you can assert your individuality in a meaningful way. There’s a big difference between doing this in theory or in fantasy and trusting people enough to stand up to them with your ideas. You don’t need to be defensive about this, though that temptation will exist. You also don’t want to put anyone else in a defensive position. Rather, you can assume an affect of neutrality, or of making an inquiry in the pursuit of truth. Set aside right and wrong for a moment, and allow your ideas to mingle with those of other people, and see what develops.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — For about six months, a topic has been on the agenda of a close personal relationship. It rises to the surface and then disappears. Sometimes it seems easy to consider; other times it seems too personal to talk about, and it’s the thing to avoid. Yet sooner or later you need to clear the air, with yourself and with people around you who in truth have a right to know what’s on your mind and share what is on their mind. In an intimate relationship, everyone needs to be listened to, otherwise it’s not really intimacy. Said another way, avoiding the most meaningful topics is an excellent way to turn down the level of contact, a way to make intimacy less intimate. Once you check for that factor and make up your mind how you feel about it, the next step is to have the conversation. You may feel intimidated by the weight of the past, or by how much there is to heal, when you write it out like a shopping list — though that is not how healing works. The larger questions all involve trust, and how to consider what has happened in the past. They are closely related. Trust is built and maintained, in a delicate process. Part of how that happens is that everyone involved demonstrates through their actions that they really have learned from history. That, and there are no more agreements to deny or pretend.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — There is a risk involved in everything. You flirt with this; it’s time to embrace it. It’s understandable enough that you’ve been cautious lately. You may have been knocked on your heels by some unexpected factor, and you needed time to review and revise your plan. What is essential is that you gradually draw yourself out of that aversion, use what you know and begin to take some calculated chances again. The key here is strategy, which you need to honor on every level — financial, creative, psychological and most of all relational. One central question is, what’s the role of others in your life? You might also ask what is the role of others in their own lives? These days you have a tendency to draw to you people who are fundamentally self-centered, and I suggest you learn to spot them before they gain any ground on you. It’s true that everyone needs to take care of themselves; everyone needs to eat. By self-centered I mean at the expense of taking care of anyone or anything else, and in particular, you. You will recognize these people energetically because you will feel depleted by them, and never truly nourished. Take the chance and move on quickly. You need partners who share your values, who share your ability to take care of others, and who can be self-focused with a very broad concept of self — all of us here.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — It’s not as complicated as it seems. It will be, if you try to analyze your emotions, and re-analyze them, and expect everything to add up to the same thing every time. To me, your solar chart says the place to start is to set limits, including limits on yourself. If you feel any competitive or jealous vibes, that is the place to start. If you feel resentful that you cannot express some deeply held need or even a basic feeling, that’s the place to set a limit, in the form of knowing that such cannot persist. If there is a need for leadership in your environment, everyone must play their role in a cooperative way. The challenge of your astrology seems to be finding a balance between being the center of your own world, and being part of the wider world. That balancing point involves being clear what you have to give. You are in an excellent position to offer support and affirmation, even though it’s clear that you are facing certain distinct emotional challenges. Yet as you acknowledge and work out these matters, you must stay a few levels above them, and a few steps ahead of them. Your planning must involve your probable emotional and physical state if certain conditions emerge, and include a plan to avoid those conditions. Be clear, especially with yourself. Be professional, including and especially in your own home.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Maintain your clarity of mind. There are forces in motion that are way larger than you, and they seem to be in operation in all areas of your life. You are not going to control them, but there are more and less appropriate responses. The more appropriate responses all begin with applied intelligence. Rather than being about how smart you are, this is about what you do with your information and your observations. It’s about what information you use to inform the choices you make, and knowing when you must make those choices. I assure you there will be moments when a decision seems too difficult, without enough time to think about it carefully. That is why you must be aware of your environment, prepare in advance to the extent that you can, and most of all, know yourself. The sensation of time as pressure is something to consider. Rarely will any perceived shortage of time be as urgent as you think. What is vital is that you set a structure for time, and work with a plan at all times. Set a deadline for everything. If you have to make a decision, make an inquiry and determine how much time you reasonably have. What feels like you have an hour may turn out to be two days. What feels like forever may be one week. Clarity of mind translates to time is of the essence.

Scorpio Birthday Reading Now Available for Pre-Order

Dear Friend and Reader:

If you’re born under the sign Scorpio or have Scorpio rising (or have Scorpio loved ones), this is going to be an intriguing year, one of the most meaningful in a long time. Three planets enter your sign the same day, followed by a solar eclipse.

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That is an exciting solar return — a homecoming. In addition, Saturn finally makes its first moves out of your sign later in the year, and transitions into Sagittarius. This is a total change of energy and shift of emphasis.

Your birthday reading is now available for pre-order at the lowest price.

I intend to do the reading next week, which consists of two half-hour (plus) segments of astrology, plus astrology afterthoughts and what seems to be everyone’s favorite — a tarot reading using the Voyager deck by James Wanless.

Your reading includes two excellent extra features — access to last year’s reading, so you can check my work and check the progress of your life; and also a live call-in program so you can ask questions about what I cover and (to some extent) your own astrology.

If you’re friends with a Scorpio, this reading makes a beautiful gift they’ll use and truly love. All of my readings are recorded in studio-quality audio, and can be listened to on any computer or mobile device.

You can pre-order the reading now for $24.95, and I plan to have it ready for you by next week.


P.S. If you have not yet visited the new Planet Waves website, you can sign up for a complementary Introductory Membership here. This will give you access to many of our regular columnists and other features, and offers a glimpse of what a full subscribing membership offers.


Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You must continue to be careful with your money, though if you are both cautious and shrewd, you can come out well ahead by one month from today. Financial literacy is something that’s sorely lacking in a culture that’s supposedly all about money. However, ignorance is not your friend, not now and not ever. Presently, there are practical matters that need your attention, but the larger theme seems to be a question of honor. I know those don’t usually count for much, especially where money is concerned, though at the moment this is something that matters a great deal for you. Honor translates to impeccability. It means that all your actions with money and finance must match your stated values, including how you earn and how you allocate your resources. It’s essential that you work with a plan, and with full knowledge of how much you have at any time. Money is a measurement of power, though few people see it that way; it’s more often a place where they feel disempowered or cut off. Nobody who is good at handling or manifesting money got that way by accident. At minimum it required a decision and at most a long series of experiments, challenges and lessons. Do your part to help yourself. Get serious about your finances. Get real about how important this is to you and the people who depend on you.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — There is a sober quality to your charts this month, though it may take you a little while to catch onto that. You will the moment you get your mind out of the clouds, and away from any idealistic visions of how things might be. There are times for idealism and there are times to be fully focused on what is happening right now. If you want to unlock the potential of your moment, if you want to have it be more than a dream or a potential, I suggest you take the grounded and steady approach to your life. What is required the most of you is commitment. Not the words or the idea, but steadfast action, sustained over time. There are days when you will need to be content with less progress than you know is possible. That is why you will measure your progress in longer stretches of time than a day, a week, or even a month. When things seem difficult you must not allow yourself to lose your gumption or to choose what seem like easier options. Easier is not necessarily better, though there will be times when you’re sure that it is. In just a few weeks, Saturn will begin the process of moving from your sign to Sagittarius. Saturn has been a consistent guide and mentor to you, and in the remaining time that Saturn is in your sign, it’s necessary to internalize the Saturn principle, which translates to self-leadership.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You seem to be under pressure to get your life together, as if the responsibility gene has woken up. To me it looks more like the ‘be true to yourself’ gene is kicking you from the inside. You might say that’s the most significant responsibility you have, and at the moment it seems to be shocking you to your senses. Aspects this month may be sending you the message that this is your last chance to accomplish something of real meaning. It’s not your last chance, though it’s worth respecting the finite nature of time, and of a lifetime. Opportunities are temporary in their current form. They may reincarnate as something else, though the opportunity you have now is an original. You might be wondering if it makes sense to proceed based on a sense of frustration or limitation. For example, if you don’t resolve it before you make a move, will you carry that sensation with you into your next endeavor? There are two distinct schools of thought on this matter, one being that you begin something new exactly where you left off from the previous endeavor; therefore, never make a decision from a point of frustration. Another is that such a place offers you the necessary leverage, friction or motivation to break out of your inertia. Those moments are indeed precious, and I think they can be rooted in true strength.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You must keep your cool at all times. There will be times when this won’t be easy. You are potentially the most volatile ingredient in any situation, and in every one of those situations you have something to lose. It is of course a blight on our times how many people live like they have nothing to lose, which is creating an increasingly reckless society. You at least know you have something at stake. You can remind yourself that you depend on your friends and your allies, and that you would have little to show for your efforts had you not had their cooperation in the past, and if you don’t have it going forward. So you have a good reason to be aware of, and to adjust, your responses and your tactics. One way to know you’re in jeopardy is if you ever get the thought that you can go it alone. That may be your one warning, valid because it contains the idea that the people around you are expendable, and therefore, it does not matter how you treat them or how they feel. Yes, it can be burdensome to think about everyone and how they are doing, all the time — and I assure you that such care and attention could save your career, your reputation, your business or an important friendship. And if you stay alert and even-headed, you will have opportunities to solve problems and regain your creative grounding.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — I suggest you read a little about transactional analysis. That’s the form of therapy that developed the concept of transactions wherein people play the role of adult, parent or child. Everyone is involved in these transactions all the time, it’s just that they are rarely called what they are. Your job this month is to maintain the posture of adult. In that role, you need to relate to others as adults when possible. That is the easy part. Then comes relating to those acting like parents and children in a way that is appropriate, and wherein you don’t come out of the adult role — the place where you are stable, sane and fair-minded. People know how to play games designed to get one another out of adult role. People are, for example, constantly setting up situations where they must be treated as children, in a real sense compelling others into parent mode. You must be aware of this, not fall for it, and if you do, get back to your centered, present, adult mind as soon as you can. This is going to take some focus, as there will be situations wherein you will need to be rather bossy. With them, I suggest you do an adult thing and make sure that you establish, by agreement, the priorities and how the pecking order has to work in order to meet pre-established goals on time and in good form.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — What is it that you said you’ve always wanted to do with your life? When exactly do you think you’re going to do it? There is something in your charts saying that ‘when’ is right now. There’s something reminding you to connect your longterm vision with a point of focus — that is, to envision, to look and to actually see. That might feel like a beginning, but the truth is you began long ago. What you have in your hands is a moment when you can gather your principles all in one place, and recognize their validity. You have an even rarer moment when you can see the shape of time, and work with it. It is vitally important you recognize consciously that you have a future, and that your future is your most precious resource. It’s even more significant that you become aware of your vision, and that you connect it with these other ideas — the future and the shape of time. As you know it is easy to squander time, and that translates to being easy to squander a lifetime. Every force of nature seems to be guiding you in a better direction, that of embracing your potential as real, and honoring your own journey on Earth as a matter of integrity. This is not as dramatic as it seems, though you may have to establish some new patterns of consciousness. Like all journeys, that begins with a single step.


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24 thoughts on “This Hot Mess

  1. Len Wallick

    Eric: Your featured piece this week is easily one of the most powerful things ever to appear on Planet Waves. The first time i read it, the sheer passion and power behind both the composition and the issues you address left me drained – so powerful, so vital was its impression. The second time reading it (just to make sure it was really what i thought of it), you left me fired up, and feeling my stake in all you address. So, yes, darn right i’m going to vote. Let’s let Kimberly Guilfoyle and her ilk know we are here.

    Finally, those horoscopes! After all these years, still breathtaking! Actually more breathtaking than before. It’s as though you have become an Eric more than Eric ever was before.

  2. Shelley Stearns

    I agree with Len that the horoscopes are amazing; I experienced them as floating into depth, like seeing into an undersea cave.

    My ballot arrived in the mail this week. I miss the ritual of actually walking to the polls and the rush of excitement accompanied with it. I almost started crying every time I put on the “I voted” sticker and then sat up late with friends listening to the results come in. It might actually prove to me that my natal Cancerian Sun sign is patriotic. With convenient early voting, we’ve lost that bit of community, which saddens me.

    In Oregon, among other things, we are voting on GMO labeling, marijuana legalization, and an equal rights amendment for women. It feels important.

    1. Eric Francis Post author

      Shelley, there is a place for patriotism. I consider myself patriotic. I love my country, I feel like I belong in my society, and I choose to honor the whole history of my country.

      That is different than mindless jingoism, nationalism, our side is more American than your side. Yeah well, that’s difficult because people who spend their lives denying the rights and freedoms of others are not exactly in the spirit if what we think of as the United States experiment.

      It takes a lot of discipline to be libertarian — for example, to honor the “gun rights” of others and for those who are all about the glory of their gun rights to honor our collective safety and not let their troubled kid show up at school with an Uzi.

      Freedom takes discipline and requires accountability. I would call that patriotism, of a sort.

      1. Shelley Stearns

        Yes, you are right. I’ve just read too many descriptions of Cancers as unquestioning flag flyers. After a childhood spent singing ‘My Country Tis of Thee’ and idealizing Columbus and The Mayflower, and then learning I was lied to, it’s been difficult.

        I see now, though, that part of patriotism is acknowledging ad using the power that I have access to.

  3. Amy Elliott

    Eric’s insights reflect most sorrowfully on the system under which we live. I was not actually aware of how deliberate and pervasive the culture of lying among politicians is; I always assumed it must be self-deceit, or the natural perspective that comes of being very rich.

    What strikes me as odd is that the lies are so very blatant, when the cruelty and injustice of capitalism run mad are plain for all to see. What is being hidden, then? Is it perhaps that politicians are so shallow and amoral that they willingly purchase power at any price? Or the frightening concept that maybe too many human beings are just the same, happy as long as they come out on top?

  4. Eric Francis Post author

    What’s being hidden is something I did not go into, which is a vast culture of corruption. The illusion of public service is usually a facade over a far-reaching self-serving society that is essentially privileged (meaning, any deal is available, if you know how to play your cards), vast amounts of money changing hands, involvement with organized crime, and so on. There also various cabals and alliances, such as the one that is hell-bent on banning birth control and abortion, though that too is a surface layer because right below that facade, anything and everything can happen.

    I recognize there are less corrupt locales than New York and the East Coast in general. The federal level seems totally lost at this point, but perhaps not unrecoverable. Congress is a society of its own, with its own laws and rules and customs, where nearly anything goes, if you are just a little slick about it.

    For England, you can look at the relationship between the police, MPs, the prime minister and Rupert Murdoch’s “news gathering” organizations. That is just a little whiff of what is really going on. It’s just the part we can actually see.

    1. Eric Francis Post author

      Clever, but let’s say you are going to crash and you have the choice of driving your car into ongoing traffic or into some trees, and you choose the trees to save those random lives in the other lane. Still the lesser of two evils, and indeed, a lot less.

  5. Shelley Stearns

    Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has been vocal about the NSA as well as against the reaffirming of the Patriot Act. In an interview with our local NPR branch, he spoke about how he knows more than he talks about publicly because he is bound to secrecy and going public would completely push him out of the investigative process.

    As he said that, I felt a little nauseous, yet conflicted, and it brings up some truly serious questions. Do we need people in power to do what he is doing? Do I trust him? He did vote for the original Patriot Act. What are the alternatives? Should we choose to work within the system, and if not, what would that look like?

    I’m still discovering where I can be and do in this process.

  6. Via email, to Eric Francis Post author

    I thought you handled the voting issue well. Yeah, the system stinks with gerrymandering, Citizens United and electronic vote tabulation, but doing nothing (i.e. note voting) only helps perpetuate the flawed system as it is, and worse, the policies which detract from social benefit.

    I enjoyed reading your personal journey, although “enjoy” is not quite the right descriptor. More accurate to say I related to your experience. My undergrad is in political science (1978), I interned with a U.S. Senator for a year and a half, did some work on a congressional campaign, and got out. The constituent services we did at the Senator’s office were great, but I quickly tired of the bullshit. I stayed out of politics–except for voting–until 2000 when I saw we had nothing less than a bloodless coup. I began paying attention again, got involved with the Dean campaign in ’04 and when Kerry got the nomination, got on staff for another congressional campaign. When I experienced firsthand another questionable result I put my efforts into election integrity (e.g. keeping paperless Diebold machines out of Ohio). To cut this short, yes, vote, and make whatever small contribution we each can.

  7. Via email, to Eric Francis Post author


    I thought you did a great job looking at both sides of these politically weird times. Having lived in Scranton and the surrounding area for all but 14 years it is easy to see how corrupt things can be but also how important it is to show up and be involved. I have been working since 1976–I think that was the 1st year you could vote at 18!? Jimmy Carter college delegates , right after all the cynicism that Dick Nixon and Watergate! Some sense of hope was sorely needed and you felt being a part of the play was important.

    Maybe we are just being enlightened to more of what the system is s really like if not exposed. The internet/media/chicken littles have somewhat confused those who had their heads down…and really who wouldn’t want to duck with so much noise. But, as innocent as it sounds as a collaborated effort we can do something about it if you just knock on the door and open the conversation sometimes.

    Perfect –no way… but better than having to show up with armed guards.

    I could go on but…from the home of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton there really are some lessons to be learned.

    I took this attitude to Boulder Colorado and we were able to pass Amendment 64! Now the whole world is watching;-)

    Feels complicated but good.

    Nancy Carroll Mercanti

  8. Via email, to Eric Francis Post author

    Hi Eric I’ve been a member of planetwaves for a few years and have found it rather helpful to give perspective when the world seems to be going crazy and sometimes my life as well. The last few weeks in particular however, your Thursday edition reading the initial essay has made me feel depressed and hopeless in a way that I almost don’t want to read it anymore.

    I enjoy astrology for the framework it can provide to understand the events symbolically as a means to keep finding my center despite events. The only place I can be effective and alive in the world right now ( maybe ever in the sense that my center is my support and source of support in making decisions etc.)

    Yesterday as you told your story of being a journalist and your disillusionment and woundedness I realized that my emotional reaction had more to do with that overlay than even the actual events you were describing. I then found myself needing to give you this feedback. I can’t change the political scene (and I don’t know what taking action means at this point except by voting and giving some money even though that whole machine is making me crazy) – all I can do is keep working on healing my own wounds and releasing old junk that keeps me from living life as the real me with my particular skills and gifts.

    Thats an ongoing process as it is for you and everyone. I hope you can check whether your coverage about world events and politics can be freer from your own wounds and history of being a political journalist. I am not denying what is going on in the world but it doesn’t help anyone if I get in such a dark desolate place that I can’t function and anchor something positive, and I don’t want to dread reading particularly the Thursday edition.

    It’s actually unusual that I would take the time and effort to write this kind of message so I hope you will at least consider it in the constructive spirit with which I write it.


    1. Eric Francis Post author

      This correspondence went on for a while. Here is my last reply. The writer said that I am “against workshops” despite the fact that I teach plenty of them. I asked her how she would handle discussing the political realm with a readership and she replied:

      “Well I have the same question of you when you exhort people to engage and do something.”

      = MY REPLY

      I would say that your kind of street therapy project ca 9/11//01 was transpersonal activism, particularly in a time of crisis when the most pressing issue was psychic wellbeing or even merely stabilizing traumatized people.

      I would also say that communities need to take that a step further and begin to solve their own problems. That starts with a conversation focused on identifying problems and action that can be taken. I recognize the difficulty of this when the iPhone is “god.” This kind of problem-solving can involve things like therapy groups, which we do not need to leave to psychiatrists.

      I am not necessarily against workshops. I am against them as the end point. There is a big difference. What I have said many, many times is that it is now time to use what we have learned in all those workshops — because if not now, then when?

      I am not necessarily making a call to activism in the conventional sense, such as marches, though I chose to illustrate the piece with marches to make the point that the people are numerous and we can concentrate power. But they have to be sustained. One day of protest against the Iraq war was a kind of friendly gesture.

      Then it was up to Code Pink and Julian Assange.

      In my article I wrote:

      Just like going to church on Sunday does not render one spiritual, voting does not render one a real participant. It’s necessary to find many other modes of involvement — beginning with being an informed citizen. If politics as it is thrives on one thing, it is festering ignorance. Ignorance is not stupidity. The root of ignorance is the word ignore — to voluntarily not know. Ignorance is a conscious choice.

      I think that the very most important thing we can do is to stop choosing to be ignorant, to choose to inform ourselves and one another, and to have a real conversation.

      In my analysis the whole problem we face is rooted in ignorance.

      My work is predominantly aimed at assisting people overcome their ignorance. If we can do that, maybe we can figure out where we really stand with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with the world.


  9. Via email, to Eric Francis Post author

    Greetings Eric

    Much respect that such a gifted socio/political journalist and astrologer asks for feedback – never too big for your own skin; love that. I hope it’s OK that a reader from the UK can comment on the voting piece you refer to below.

    For me this piece had a slightly different flavour, redolent of an old ‘Randy’s Rant’. I sensed your passion, frustration and quest for truth. This style of writing was different though. Did the ‘pageant for narcissistic wounding’ comment take you through the door of journalism into vitriol? Then, I read on and I see there is history here. A personal experience which challenged your integrity and presented you with life choices. A blight on your conscience. I hear that.

    I got a little confused when you described the different political parties as in, I couldn’t see where one ended and another began but maybe that was your point. Is there some restriction preventing you from naming and describing each one separately?, that would have made more sense to me.

    Generally I found the piece surprisingly negative and, when you turned the tone to how important it is to actually vote, I had to go back a bit and re-read the context to make sure I had understood what you were saying. To me, everything which preceded this point seemed to urge me to walk away and have nothing to do with the political mess the US is in. But now you are saying it is really important that I do. OK, I’m listening now but remind me, why am I voting. You hint at diluting the power bases by returning a nil vote (do I understand this correctly?) and I catch a whisper of how important it will be that I’m actually there casting my vote but I need a bit more please… What’s my motivation again?

    So, dear heart, how you handled the piece is a great question. As an observer in this, I see a different writing style from that which I am used to. This piece wasn’t the usual open and questioning piece which inspires me to be creative in the way I see and challenge the world; this piece felt quite heavy, or judgmental, or cynical, or frustrated, despite it having a plethora of really great evidence to back it up. That’s what sets you apart Eric and to quote your words back to you, “…and pursued being an investigative reporter, where verifiable truth is the only commodity” You normally pepper your pieces with links to the background stories you touch upon. In this piece, you’ve chosen not to and that’s interesting.

    How did you feel before, during and after writing this piece? How long did it take to write the piece, compared with a piece of similar word content? How do you feel now?

    As a metaphysical weirdo who changes her world by changing her thoughts, I wonder at the power of your words, Eric. If our words shape our world / if life goes where energy flows – then my final question to you might be “Do you realise the power you currently have to shape and re-shape the world?”

    By reading, re-reading, sensing and feeling your words for the last two years now, I am on track. Thank you, evolved being. I know I’m exactly where I need to be and as scary as that sometimes feels, I’m diligent in reinforcing the changes with strong messaging which acknowledges the past but spends no energy at that bank.

    With love and appreciation
    Chrissy (UK)

    1. Eric Francis Post author

      Hi Chrissy,

      Thanks for your reply.

      The whole topic is fraught with ambivalence and conflict, inner and outer. Since you’re spared the onslaught of American political rhetoric in the UK (thousands and thousands of attack ads on TV, for example, many sponsored anonymously), you may not quite know the style of what is presented here.

      For parade of narcissists, check out Rick Scott, the guy on the right. Or Ted Cruz. Or Mitch McConnell. It’s pathology on a level I have not seen elsewhere, and I watch a lot of international news.

      In this piece, I chose not to be outwardly partisan, but everyone knows that the Republicans are going after the right (of minorities) to vote and women’s health rights and are making constant noise about illegals and closing the border. The Democrats are not.

      It was a difficult piece to write. I set aside a whole day to do it, probably not enough time, after many days of nonstop writing.

      Regarding the stories of being a political operative, I have not publicly written about them yet, though somewhere there is a piece, not very circulated, on the PW server (from 1999 or so) that we cannot find, called “I Lied,” about one particular campaign. Many of those documents have recently come back to me.

      I did not take the piece in the direction intended due to a length restriction, which is the sexual neurosis of politics ala Wilhelm Reich — all of those quotes are still in a research file, open on my desktop. There are other layers to the problem; Reich has proposed that the politics that lead to fascism, including the kind we are seeing in the U.S., are driven by sexual pain and longing.

      Generally propaganda encouraging people to vote is jingoistic, even if lately in a hipsterish “Rock the Vote” style — tattooed cool guy votes cus he cares about [whatever, gay rights], minirotyish looking woman cares about [women’s rights or whatever]. And that’s it. There is no acknowledgement of the political problem. Few people ever speak to the cynicism. We are just supposed to get hip and vote, assuming it matters and is all that matters.

      My position in that article was: the system is buggered, we are in deep, and your vote counts if for no other reason than you showed up and cast it, hence, a blank vote is as good as any other.

  10. Linda Rock

    Still some might choose The Trees or make a quick call on the random group being worth saving or not . Isn’t that the thing . How awake we are at the wheel of our own lives and how conscious and close to its centre.Feel’s like there’s so little time left to argue the toss and stand outside of this shit . The time is now . It’s happening and not choosing is choosing.Getting smart about it ( and believe me I’ve been smart about it ) doesn’t help. When it all looks so dark – Hell you’ve just got to ‘get in there ‘ and let some light in. Truly it’s what the world needs right now. It starts with the truth . Me being honest about me and hat’s a tough call !

    Amazing article Eric, Thank you

  11. Via email, to Eric Francis Post author

    Loved the discourse on politics. Without an insider’s view, it still all feels corrupt to me. Still, I vote! A hard-won right, and it does feel like exercising what little power I do have. I consider it vital & I’m glad you changed your mind. One of the reasons I subscribe is because you are so honest. It is so incredibly refreshing to see authenticity in action. I admire your courage, and consider you a mentor! It was a wonderful article. — D

  12. Linda Rock

    Hi Chrissy, thank you for commenting here . I’m also in the U.K . However for me the article ,at its core wasn’t just a ‘voting piece’ ( however great that piece was, and it is ).The resonance for me was ” that the system [world wide] is buggered” Which I took as a reflection of the way the world is going about its business at this time in history. And we’re all part of that story.

    You ask Eric “what’s my motivation ….? “. Surely your motivation is you ? So I offer you back your own words “Do you realise the power you currently have …..”

    Actually I’m not sure many of us do right now , or if we do we’re shy of the inherent responsibility For me this article hit upon just that . Re-claiming a sense of some power . Power to create change and create something worth living for . Even if it starts with a X in a box . No one is just an observer in this . Everyday in every way we are all voting for or against something – simply by being present here at this moment .

  13. Via email by Judith Gayle Post author

    That would be a worthwhile post, Fe … it’s an important topic to rattle our cage and shake us awake. Reaches farther than just race, too.

    For instance, today’s conversation about voting has me perplexed … as in how anyone can fancy the question, “WHY should I vote? What’s in it for me?” Am I the only one who thinks that sounds arrogant to the point of completely self-involved and socially impaired? As if … since I don’t agree with either side, it’s not my fight and I don’t have to get any of that nasty partisanship on me.

    Am I ‘off’ on this … or …. ??

    And as for white privilege, maybe some of those who don’t think it’s a problem need to come visit me in the Pea Patch, where all my good Christian Republican neighbors call Ebola the “nigger flu.”


    1. Eric Francis Post author


      THANK YOU. The idea that voting or not voting because it doesn’t mean anything anyway is a luxury most people with a sense of entitlement think they can take for granted.

      They don’t feel the price. the most vulnerable do, and they don’t exist, at least in the minds of those who don’t want to see the impact their apathy creates.

      I am feeling this one down to my toes. Like music, one doesn’t talk about it. One plays it.

      At the keyboard this pm. Love you all, PWs!!!

      — Fe B

  14. Phyllis Capanna

    Hi Eric,
    Loved this piece, although I’ve read it only once through. Some of the reaction in the comments reminds me of a heated discussion that followed a piece you wrote about sexual provocativeness, in which you said something like, even though it’s never okay to force someone to have sex with you, it’s also important to own that dancing naked on a table top is sexually provocative. I understand this voting piece and that other piece to have one thing in common: A passionate, deep, painful calling up of a gut truth in service to healing our humanity, our world. You risk making yourself look “negative,” “dark,” or “heavy,” as the messenger because you value truth more than looking good, or, for that matter, feeling good.

    On the actual topic of voting, nothing drives me crazier than people deciding not to vote. Nothing. It’s the one thing, the easiest thing, the thing we can all do, and damned if some people decide to voice their disgust that one day by abstaining. I’ve struck up a conversation with a Republican state senator here in Maine, having found that he reads and responds to his email and is open to hearing my point of view, which is very different from his. That feels good. I also make it a point to talk about politics, especially food production, which I’m passionate about, everywhere, even in the most unlikely of places, because, for whatever reason, lots of folks don’t know what’s going on. Ignorance? Weariness? Poverty? Lack of access? Blind trust? I don’t know, but I do enjoy engaging personally with real people, with an open mind and with the intention of creating a dialogue. Isn’t that politics at its core?

    I really appreciate the way you laid yourself on the line in this piece, revealing a past that is painful and using your mistakes to good purpose today. That feels like one of the major ways this Mercury retrograde with everything in Scorpio plus eclipses has functioned, at least in my life. A chance to have something come back up for review, a chance at a do-over that’s difficult but worth it, and a chance to heal from being present to all that the moment holds.

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