Back to School with a Handful of Aspects

Posted by Amanda Painter


Now that Mars is finally direct as of Monday, what have you been able to put in motion? Is there anything you actually feel more uncertain about or stymied by than you did last week? Hopefully you’re enjoying a sense of energy freeing up for use, though it’s possible that this week’s aspects are raising some new questions.

Editor’s note: this is the full PW members’ edition, featuring the Create segment; Planet Waves FM is still on hiatus; there is no weekly horoscope in this issue.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Now that Mars is finally direct as of Monday, what have you been able to put in motion? Is there anything you actually feel more uncertain about or stymied by than you did last week? Hopefully you’re enjoying a sense of energy freeing up for use, though it’s possible that this week’s aspects are raising some new questions.

Handfuls of school supplies; photo by Nick Amoscato under CC 2.0.

I’m not going to try to recap all of the week’s news. However, there is one story that caught my attention as having some resonance with certain facets of the astrology and themes I describe below. That would be almost the full caucus of U.S. House Democrats calling for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to state unequivocally that federal funds may not be used to arm teachers in the name of ‘protecting’ students.

As reported by The Hill, at issue is a federal grant program, created by the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, which provides funding “for states and local education departments with the broad goal of improving ‘school conditions for student learning.'” At least two states, Texas and Oklahoma, have requested permission to use these grants — which are focused on promoting “digital literacy” and “technology readiness” in low-income schools — to arm and train school employees as a line of defense against school shootings. (Unsurprisingly, the NRA has long supported such initiatives, as does Pres. Trump.)

“Based on the program’s authorizing statute, recent Congressional action, and precedent, you have the authority to deny such use of funds,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to DeVos on Tuesday. “Therefore, we urge you to swiftly exercise your authority to clarify to State and Local Education Agencies that [the funding provided under the law] may not be used to arm teachers and other school staff.”

DeVos, however, seems to be side-stepping her ability to declare, by the end of August, that she intends to take such a stand by Oct. 1, as requested by House Democrats. Instead, she is sending the issue back to the embattled Congress.

“The Secretary has no planned action on this issue,” Liz Hill, press secretary for the Education Department, said Tuesday in an email to The Hill. “If Congress would like to clarify the law, it should take the opportunity to do so.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported last week that DeVos is “considering the requests from the inquiring states.”

If ever there was an issue that perverted the sense of purpose and service of teachers, this would seem to be it. Likewise, the concept of arming teachers carries undertones of confusion around ‘devotion’ and ‘sacrifice’ to a disturbing degree. And I shudder to think of how the phrase “small cause, big effect” could play out should this insanity be allowed to move forward — everything from teachers accidentally shooting students, to further ‘normalizing’ a state of fear and martial law in our public schools.

Planet Waves
Simplified chart for the Sun opposite Nessus, also showing the other aspects and planets mentioned in this piece (except for Ixion, which is conjunct Vesta and Pholus). Note that the Sun is also moving into an opposition to Neptune. View glyph key here.

Even if what follows below does not resonate with you personally, you might try applying it to the issue just described. Chances are, you can think of other global events that also fit in some way.

Two of the aspects that have caught my eye are: the asteroid Vesta conjunct the centaur Ixion in Sagittarius; and the asteroid Ceres square the centaur Pholus and the Galactic Core (GC) in Sagittarius. In general, that Sadge energy might be lending a sense of restlessness — though the tension of these aspects could also be seen as questions.

For example, are you finding this week that your approach to nurturing your ‘higher purpose’ is to get critical of the ways you’ve often strayed from it? That could be one way Ceres-GC might manifest.

Yet, when we add in Pholus, another thread emerges: the idea that, just as a small act of selfless service can go a long way, so can a little self-criticism take on a life of its own. Which of those would you rather send rippling out into the world? Because even if you keep your fault-finding of yourself to yourself, there’s an excellent chance it could hinder your ability or willingness to offer your gifts fully to those around you — thereby shortchanging the world of your light. What might happen if you pushed aside any thoughts of ‘not good enough yet’ and just offered what you can do?

The Vesta-Ixion conjunction brings together a curious mixture of devotion/sacrifice (Vesta) and the amoral, ‘anybody is capable of anything’ theme of Ixion. Have you been wondering about the ethics of devotion and sacrifice lately, especially regarding a goal or a second chance?

Whether a second chance at achievement or a second chance at redemption has presented itself to you, what are you willing to do to pursue it, and how clear do you feel about it internally? People often say that actions do not feel like sacrifices when genuine love and joy are the motivating factors, or when something simply feels like ‘the thing to do’ without question. This could be a good day to note where you are along that spectrum.

You’ll also want to notice whether you’re meeting up with any reminders of people and situations who have compromised your ability to sort through questions like these in the past. This is one way of interpreting Friday’s opposition between the Virgo Sun and the centaur planet Nessus in Pisces.

Planet Waves
A fellow student in the lounge of the Kristin Linklater Voice Center in Orkney, Scotland, this past May. Photo by Amanda Painter.

A key theme of Nessus is ‘the buck stops here’, and Virgo is a famously mental sign. If you’ve ever been in a situation where someone you’re relating to has been able to get you a little turned around in your head (especially about any kind of boundary transgression, from the subtle and energetic to something stronger or more malicious), this could be a time to see that for what it is, and to handle it differently. That is the essence of ‘stopping the buck’, after all: to exercise your considerable power of choice in how you respond to actions and patterns you’d rather not continue to engage.

Speaking of such dynamics: the last aspect to grab my attention this weekend is an opposition between Venus in Libra and Eris in Aries. At the risk of being too flip: are you the peacemaker or the crazy-maker in any given current situation? That is, are you focused on maintaining your relationships, or are you getting drawn into sabotaging them? You might not see yourself in either role — in which case, if you encounter someone who does, pay attention to how you respond.

This could be especially important on social media, where it can be easy to lose sight of the fullness of the relationships that underlie polarized debates. You might want to investigate the art of being inclusive, compassionate and civil while still maintaining healthy boundaries. Where is that point of negotiation in keeping the peace without feeling trampled or holding back your truth?

Against the backdrop of some slow-moving planets making major changes, these other planets are doing their best to keep you learning. We’re in a nice window of potentially clearer sailing now that Mars is direct (though you’ll want to stay alert, and apply what you’ve learned as it leaves Capricorn and retraces its Aquarian steps) — and with Mercury leaving its post-retrograde echo (or shadow) phase on Sunday. Though mark your calendar: Venus will itself be stationing retrograde in Scorpio on Oct. 5.

You might not be going ‘back to school’ like many kids are this week, but we’re all definitely still students. One look at the world — and at our beautifully imperfect inner lives — shows how much there’s still left to learn. What are you doing with this opportunity?

Yours & truly,

Amanda Painter

Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Sunday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, Planet Waves, Inc. Core Community membership: $197/year. Editor and Publisher: Eric Francis Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Astrology Editor: Amanda Painter. Eric’s Assistant: Ellen Dockery. Client Services: Amy Elliott and Victoria Emory. Finance: Andrew Slater. Technical Assistant: Emily Thing. Copy Editor and Fact Checker: Jessica Keet. Media Consultant: Andrew McLuhan. Music Director: Daniel Sternstein. Bass and Drums: Daniel Grimsland. Additional Research, Writing and Opinions: Yuko Katori, Cindy Tice Ragusa, and Carol van Strum.
Planet Waves

Your Autumn Reading by Eric Francis
Empathy-Pathos: A Study in Venus Retrograde

Dear Friend and Reader:

This letter is to introduce the Planet Waves Autumn Reading, called Empathy-Pathos. This will be a study in Venus retrograde. We are offering all 12 signs currently for just $57.

Planet Waves
Eric Francis.

This will go up soon to $67, and eventually $77. Early purchasers get the best price. I am planning to deliver the reading around the equinox, well ahead of Venus stationing retrograde.

Project Description

Mars retrograde is about to end, and Venus retrograde is about to begin. Spanning from Oct. 5 through Nov. 15, the retrograde will be in Scorpio (where Venus is supposedly not so happy) into Libra (where she is supposedly thrilled). To me, this describes many shades of empathy (the ability to resonate with another) and pathos (suffering, or passion, which come from the same root).

In this reading, I will review Mars retrograde and the recent eclipses, and open up the territory of Venus and its unusual way of resonating and emoting. We’ll explore approaches to the masculine and feminine attributes of Venus, as well as the introspective and expressive aspects of Venus through the retrograde process.

The retrograde begins with Venus square Mars, describing the prevailing tension and struggle with inhibition that characterize our time in history. From there, the journey is inward, to the source of whatever feelings you may be experiencing.

These will be audio readings, featuring music by Vision Quest. With apologies to those who were planning on video, I’m feeling a little over-exposed at the moment and will be better able to deliver this reading in spoken word format, without the distraction of visuals. I will, however, add an introductory video that illustrates both Venus and Mars retrograde, so you have that to work with.

The readings apply to Sun and rising sign, and will be 30 to 40 minutes each.

You may pre-order here.

If you would like to order by phone, call us at (845) 481-5616.

Thank you for your business, and for trusting me as your astrologer.

With love,


Virgo Birthdays and Rising 2018-19:

Get Your Year Started Right, Virgo — and Leo, and Libra!

“So deeply helpful and encouraging, Eric; confirms my experiences recently and over the past 10 years. Thanks so much for your care and guidance.

— Lisa

Dear Friend and Reader:

Did you hear the news? Eric was able to record the two segments of your Virgo Astrology Studio (previously called the “Birthday Reading”) this weekend — with the Sun fresh in Virgo, and just before the Pisces Full Moon.


How would you like to start your solar year with some of the most useful, most accessible, most empowering audio astrology available online? Your Tarot reading for the year (called the Virgo Tarot Studio) will be coming along in a bit — but you’ll get both the astrology and the tarot for just $44 if you order soon. Please be aware that the price will increase again when Eric publishes the tarot segment — these are the final days to purchase the Virgo Astrology Studio (which includes the Tarot reading) at the current price.

Along with this year’s other most influential transits, Eric spends some time in this reading discussing Saturn’s journey through your fellow earth sign Capricorn over this year and next. Since this is happening in your 5th house, there’s a strong theme here of reclaiming your childhood. Virgos have a way of growing up early and getting lost in the joys of work and service. But what are you discovering about pleasure for its own sake?

Along with your two astrology segments and tarot, you also get access to an extended description of your sign. If you’re new to Eric’s audio readings (or just need to review your past year), you’re invited to listen to last year’s reading as a gift from us.

I don’t think I have read anything so achingly beautiful in my whole life as this Virgo reading. I say this not out of drama, but rather out of the way it reads contextually in this particular moment, inviting me into the deep territory of full expression. Masterpiece! Equally terrifying and great fun! Much GRATITUDE. Big LOVE.”

— Rev. Jody Lotito Levine, on last year’s Virgo annual

Wishing you all the best for the year to come,

Amanda Painter

P.S. Show your favorite Virgo how much they mean to you: give the 2018 Virgo Astrology Studio and Tarot reading as a gift. They’ll get instant access to the astrology segments, and an email when the tarot portion is ready.

P.P.S. If you only want the tarot portion on its own (called the Virgo Tarot Studio), you can order the Virgo tarot reading individually here. (Please note: this is the same tarot reading as what’s included in the full reading.)

P.P.P.S. You can also still order the full Leo Reading (Astrology + Tarot) — or get the Leo Tarot Studio on its own. Plus, you can now pre-order the Libra Astrology Studio and Tarot here.

Planet Waves
“Assimilation” by Chelsea Dub, one of the Blue Ribbon Prize winners of the Art of Autism and Disability Legal Rights Center art contest. All of the artists in the contest are neurodivergent and have identified as Autistic, as a person with Down Syndrome, or as having another disability.

Navigating the World Just As You Are

By Amanda Painter

This week, I’m going to let the artist behind today’s CREATE — Chelsea Dub — take the floor, rather than trying to editorialize about her work. I think her eloquence on the Art of Autism and Disability Legal Rights Center website speaks for itself. — Amanda

“This painting is a critique of neurotypical human bias, and how certain minds are not only valued over others, but set as the standard by which all other mind processes must conform. This is represented through the removal of the chicken’s head, which is cast aside to the ground like garbage, and replaced by the head of a parrot, who is considered to be a smarter, and generally more appealing, bird. In so doing, the chicken’s mind becomes marked as undesirable — disposable, even — and the parrot’s mind becomes the instated ideal.

“The juxtaposition of the nonmatching puzzle pieces serves to illustrate the incompatibility between society’s rigid expectations and reality. This is further emphasized by the forcible, desperate attempt to secure the puzzle piece of the parrot’s head to the chicken’s body with nails. While this Frankensteinian approach may work as a quick fix, there are visible gaps — holes in the logic of the entire attempt — and it ultimately won’t have meaningful or long-lasting success.

“Rather than treating a chicken as a defective creature or an un-evolved parrot, each animal and their cognitive process should be respected as valid in their own right. A chicken is well-equipped to navigate the world as a chicken, and a parrot is well-equipped to navigate the world as a parrot. Likewise, how the brains of autistic or otherwise neurodivergent humans are wired is valid, and we are adept at navigating the world in our own ways rather than assimilating into a neurotypical culture that rejects our unique experiences by restricting accessibility.”

Listen to Vision Quest on Live Stream

Planet Waves has an in-house music ensemble, called Vision Quest. We have a 38-hour loop of our music, which you can listen to any time. Included are finished pieces, rehearsals, live concerts, drum grooves, and spoken word recordings. I consider it a kind of musical divination. Click in randomly at different times of day and see what you discover.

Planet Waves
Eric may be on hiatus, but we are still running the Four Winds Almanac every day. Sign up free for your comprehensive guide to daily astrology, calendar, birthdays and more. 


Monthly Horoscopes and Publishing Schedule Notes

Your extended monthly horoscopes for August were published on Thursday, Aug. 9. We published your extended monthly horoscopes for July on Thursday, June 21. Please note: we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Thursday after the Sun has entered a new sign. This schedule is a little looser while Eric is on his sabbatical; however, he is planning to publish your extended monthly horoscope for September soon.

Planet Waves

Editor’s Note: Although we have no weekly horoscope for you in this issue, we will be sending out an extended monthly horoscope for September by Eric soon. Please watch your email for that special mailing. Also, Eric has written a Monday Morning horoscope for the coming week; that will be mailed out this Sunday evening, as usual.

You can also review this week’s Monday Morning horoscope at this link.

One thought on “Back to School with a Handful of Aspects

  1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter Post author

    “This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The number is far higher than most other estimates.

    But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

    We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

    In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.

    “When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.

    From this NPR story, which I meant to post here last week, but was busy with other tasks:

    I am rather concerned that our chaotic, Right-leaning administration could easily use the incorrect numbers to bolster such moves as arming teachers, militarized police in schools, and so on. I do hope the adjusted numbers — and this NPR story itself — are spread far and wide. It’s a startling and important discrepancy. And the factors that led to it need to be addressed comprehensively.

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