Dear Fellow Traveler:
Have you ever caught yourself or someone you care about describing this scenario: when you’re in a relationship you have to put your authentic life agenda aside, and be the ‘relationship you’, until you can’t stand it any more and you get out of the relationship so you can go back to being the ‘real you’ for a while? This way you can ‘focus on yourself’ and be creative and do the things you love; which works until you want a relationship again, for sex or companionship or both, but to get there you have to lose yourself and sacrifice what you consider the most important.
An 1886 bas-relief figure of Astraea in the old Supreme Court chamber at the Vermont State House. Astraea is the goddess of justice and the personification of Libra, the sign of the scales of justice, relationships and sexuality. Photo: Wikipedia.
There are lots of versions of this scenario, which I call a split-self or hemisphere effect. The two sides of the brain act like different people with different needs and often it seems that both sides can’t get their needs met at once, much less maintain a steady conversation. Another example is having intimate friendships with people, but after a while wanting to be closer than those permit, so you find a ‘relationship'; then the other friendships, even if not directly sexual, must end once you’re in a relationship.
Inside the relationship, you start to feel confined and want your other contacts, but various insecurities or the rules of appropriateness (yours or those of your partner) seem to prohibit that. Then you feel the limitations, and needing to deal with them, believe you have to sacrifice the relationship in order to have your more ‘normal friendships’.
I am not suggesting that all relationships have this quality, though the world makes a compelling case that many of them do. Many have noted that monogamy (or what I will call unconscious monogamy) can be an isolating way of life, presuming not just sexual fidelity but often a kind of mental, emotional and social fidelity. Often this is born of paranoia as much as it is from a desire for togetherness. And, to be sure, it takes confidence and courage to go beyond this style of encounter.
How do relationships devolve into this state? Many of them start there. Early in this thing we call dating, we introduce prospective partners to our publicist, who looks a lot like us, but presents information strategically to ensure that we’re acceptable to this other person who doesn’t know us and is sure to think we’re a total freak if we let on the truth. Typically when we do this we forget two things: the truth will eventually come out, and the other person probably has some surprises waiting for us. Dating is an interesting thing: it’s like a mock friendship. You might act like friends, and spend time together like friends, and say you’re friends, but the actual trust and familiarity are not there. It’s like they are on credit.
Meanwhile, many people don’t have sex with their friends so they don’t ‘ruin the friendship’. Hence, this thing we call dating — the certified path to relationships — takes place with someone other than a friend, such as an acquaintance, a stranger, a sex partner or as it turns out too often, an enemy.
In the dating process, we’re supposed to do everything we can to present ourselves as acceptable to the other person, conceal all weaknesses and fears, present ourselves as impeccably monogamous, as successful and in perfect health; not mention opposite sex friends, bisexuality or our cross-dressing bondage fetish.
Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue.
We all know how judgmental many people are, and more to the point, we know how judgmental we are. I think it’s fair to lament how closed-minded so many people are, and how unconscious they can be about it. Question for you: how long is your list of turn-offs? How long is your list of requirements for a suitable suitor? That will give you an idea how difficult we make it for one another, and how far we’ve drifted from relationships as a source of pleasure and companionship, rather than getting a list of expectations met.
It’s no wonder why we’re so terrified to be ourselves. There’s one other reason, too, which comes wrapped in a paradox. Most ‘unpartnered’ people you meet are cruising for The One. We’re not seeking ‘casual’ relationships or casual sex; those are allegedly insincere and unfulfilling. We want the supposedly Real Thing, which precludes hanging loose and being real. So instead, we polish up the relationship résumé and put on our most authentic air. The contradiction is that if we’re really looking for The One and not the supposedly dreaded, evil, scandalous, disease-laden friendship with benefits, The One is presumably The One who will accept us for who we are: and in that case, no gloss would be necessary.
Characterizing the typically backwards, upside-down thinking of the world, you could say that our search for a relationship is often driven by the desire to avoid relationships. The whole process is so laden with unquestioned habits, values and presumptions, including the presumption that it’s acceptable to lie, it’s amazing that anyone ever gets to know anyone else. But try as we may to avoid it, we do get to know one another, as the old saying goes, for better or for worse.
Then we wonder why our relationships are such a struggle; why we can go so long without a partner; why it so often feels like we’ll never have sex again; why we have to make so many compromises once we’re involved in a relationship.
Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue.
It does not help that it’s nearly impossible to have a real discussion about these topics. For example, in my experience, every person has his or her own sexual and emotional orientation. We each have specific needs, desires and tendencies. Yet nearly all discussions of relationship are based on the marriage model of allegedly exclusive heterosexual monogamy, or some certified, sanctified form of queer. There are severe penalties for violating these rules. Often it seems the people who dole out the penalties break the rules the most often.
We need some sanity here. We need to take relationships seriously, and that is going to take commitments to both growth and authenticity that are not generally proffered in our society.
Saturn entered Libra Thursday, and that’s an occasion to consider the next phase of our lives. The planet of authority, structure, boundaries and commitments changes signs every 30 months or so, and as it does, we move dependably from theme to theme. Saturn in Libra is about focusing on relationships, and in particular, authenticity and balance in relationships.
For anyone even vaguely conscious, relationships are a focal point of growth. That requirement — awareness — rules out plenty of people. So does the notion of growth. For many others, relationships are where we hang out and avoid progress and indeed avoid ourselves. Which is, you know, fine as far as it goes: but if this is the case, we need to save some energy and stop wondering why things go so poorly so often. Why the divorces become so vicious. Why we seem to be on a constant search that goes on and on and on.
At some point in my astrological career, after years and years of hearing scores of relationship stories — most of them from women — it occurred to me: many people enter relationships as a pact to avoid growth. I considered this for a while, and considered my own life, and I realized why it was true, or why it seemed true. Our relationships are predicated on the idea that a stable, longterm situation is the objective or aim. Therefore, we will tend to suppress anything that threatens that concept of relationship. One of the things that threatens a relationship is when people change. Growth implies change, often in profound and unexpected directions. Within our culture’s one available officially-certified style of relationship, growth can easily be perceived as a threat. To stay in a relationship, often you have to do your best to be the same. You have to be the person that your partner expects you to be.
Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue.
The first thing that Saturn says is face reality. Usually by the time Saturn comes along and sets a limit, we’ve been aware of exceeding the limit for a while. Saturn in Libra is like peeling a veneer off of things. Libra works on several levels, and one of them is about presentation.
Everything that Libra touches is impeccably presented, and Saturn is coming along to strip off the finish and see what’s under the surface. This is a terrifying prospect to most people. Most of us have so little experience simply being ourselves that we are extremely uncomfortable doing so. It feels unstable, vulnerable and scary. There is a fear we carry that if I am myself, this relationship will end.
The next thing that Saturn says is face your fears. Saturn can point to what we fear the most, and in the case of Saturn in Libra that would be about intimacy of any shade — and if you ask me, sex and relationships are inseparable. Any two people who get to know one another for long enough will at least develop some sexual curiosity for one another. Alice A. Bailey notes in Esoteric Astrology that Libra is one of the most important signs for understanding sex (even surpassing Scorpio in this regard). Anyone who has read (let’s be modest) so many as three books on the history of sex understands that we are nearly all clueless.
We are also a society of sexophobes. Most people don’t even know it. Many people become viscerally, visually uncomfortable at the least mention or suggestion of sex, which of course requires perpetuating ignorance. In my office I have a genre of reader mail known as “I am not a prude” letters. These arrive in response to my website’s frank articles about sex and pleasure, or my nude photos. The letters always start, “I am not a prude, but this conversation/photo/article is inappropriate for an astrology website.” I guess we’re just supposed to talk about romance — nothing too real. I suggest that we make the discussion of sex normal, and that we get over our apprehension about it by diving into the subject matter.
Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue.
Many consider avoiding the discussion a form of maintaining their integrity in a way you would expect from a vegan. In one of the classic “I am not a prude” letters of all time, a reader in Europe recently expressed not only her opposition to my photos but, when I pressed her for information, her objection to making information about sex available. “Sex is much better and more fun and more creative and more respectful without any ‘education’,” she wrote. “This leaves space for discovery.” As if there is anything but space for discovery in sexuality. (I strongly advise Americans to stop thinking that Europeans are more enlightened about sex and relationships. They just have more nude beaches than we do and lower BMI because so many smoke.)
Our culture has so thoroughly suppressed honest discussion of sex that the mere mention of the topic seems destabilizing, dangerous or perverse. So it becomes, perpetuating fear and ignorance to an astonishing degree, glossed over by obsession with scandalous subject matter. We live with the illusion that we are an oversexed culture. But we emphasize the glamorous and the scandalous at the expense of what is simply true for us. I suggest we look at what our obsession with scandal is designed to cover over, and what it denies us.
We also suppress discussion of relationships, and the reason for this is the mandatory monogamy rule. Permissible discussions about relationships nearly all center around perpetuating the illusion of monogamy. Any real conversation about sex would be driven by curiosity, and we all know that curiosity does not honor the notion of monogamy.
I am not saying that there are not people who are happily monogamous. Clearly, there are some. But the preferences, values or experiences of some couples are not enough to make this way of living mandatory for everyone. Let’s also make a distinction between monogamy as an organic state of being between two people, which seems to work pretty well most of the time, and monogamy imposed or self-imposed as a moral imperative, which seems to fail miserably most of the time. We need to know our options, and that takes finding out what they are, and challenging the guilt that might keep us in line if we want to try something original or different. If you’re curious, give yourself space to learn and discover. Get used to people thinking you’re different, and the feeling that your parents will not approve. Gay, lesbian, bi and trans people come out to their parents all the time and nearly all of them feel better about it. I think that those with ‘alternative’ concepts of relationships can learn a lot from them.
Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue.
Saturn in Libra suggests putting some discipline into understanding both sex and relationships: and I mean actual understanding, not regurgitating Sex and the City or what you unwittingly ate at your parents’ or grandparents’ dinner table 30 years ago. There are some excellent books out. One is called The Myth of Monogamy, which is based on DNA testing of all kinds of critters. No — ducks are not monogamous; let’s have a good cry and get over it. A new one that’s appeared is called Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. The publishers tracked down my address and sent me a copy. I haven’t finished it yet but it’s a lot of fun. One of the all-time classics is Eros Denied by Wayland Young, available for $5 from any online used bookseller (published by Grove Press in 1964). I promise you this will be one of the most enlightening books you’ll ever read. So too will A General Theory of Love, which talks about the neurology of emotional and sexual relationships, what we stand to gain by working with a good therapist, and how therapy works. [There is an ongoing thread about therapy on the Planet Waves daily blog.]
Finally, Saturn in Libra suggests that we have to make room for change. People who are alive grow and change, and the same is true for relationships that are alive. For those committed to living up to their grandparents’ 50-year marriage or someday being like that cute, old couple you see in your neighborhood, this may be a tough thing. For those who have no sense of who they are outside of a relationship, this might be scary, but in order to be in a relationship you have to know yourself, accept yourself and love yourself. Of course, this is society’s biggest taboo.
When you know yourself, you’re free. You don’t need to depend on others for your basic existence. You discover that it’s your privilege to love, that it’s your body and that this is your life. And when you’re real with yourself, you can be real with others — that is the starting point.
Yours & truly,
Related Article, with resources: The One and the Many.
In The News: Kid Ready to Resume Playdating.
The Big Smear
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
In 2003, before becoming either a senator or head of the short-lived Air America, Al Franken published a book called Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. His courage was astounding, considering the year and the political climate. Franken earned the ire of the right, particularly O’Reilly and Hannity at FOX News and ideologues led by Rush Limbaugh. At the time, many people were unfamiliar with the dynamics of innuendo, slander and outright lies legitimized by those in power. Seven years later, Al Franken has proved to be as courageous a legislator as he was a political commentator. I still can’t watch FOX without thinking, “Lies and lying liars.” Unfortunately, FOX continues to justify Al’s early warnings.
This week, FOX News played a short clip of comments from a recent speech to an NAACP gathering by Shirley Sherrod, a Department of Agriculture employee. Ms. Sherrod spoke of her feelings in 1986 at being asked to help a white farmer while so many black farmers were being ignored. Sherrod’s father had been murdered by a white farmer when she was a child. Her speech traced her personal journey through the maze of racism to the realization that it was not race, but the moneyed elite that created inequities. In her moving address, she made a case for classism.
FOX cherry-picked fewer than three minutes of commentary from Sherrod’s forty-minute speech, taking remarks out of context and labeling them [overt racism] against white folk. The NAACP reacted with knee-jerk censure, prompting Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to demand Sherrod’s resignation. The White House quickly backed Vilsack, then retreated when the NAACP reversed its position following CNN’s prompt coverage of Sherrod’s entire speech. When the white farmer and his wife — the subjects of the 1986 incident — called the FOX story hogwash, it became apparent that we’d all been had yet again.
The right has made an art form of distortion. They’re past masters at selecting some factoid, twisting it into a pretzel of accusation and moral platitude, and pushing it down our throats whole and unexamined. They did so with weapons of mass destruction, with government spying on U.S. citizens, with torture. They practice the art of deception daily. Their leadership tackles the big, faux issues — ‘bankrupt’ Social Security, death panels for grandma, the return of the Black Panthers, etc. — while their footsoldiers muckrake. With nothing to lose, they proclaim everything a win. They will throw anything at the Democrats that might stick. They will push any button, frighten any citizen, or stain the name of anyone in order to spread doubt and disenchantment.
The Sherrod clip originally appeared on Andrew Breitbart’s radical-right website, Biggovernment.com, which was also the source of the 2009 ACORN ‘sting’ video. The ACORN bit of theatre featured an outlandishly dressed ‘pimp and prostitute’ supposedly receiving from ACORN helpful hints for tax avoidance, human smuggling and child prostitution. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was an umbrella NGO dedicated to neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other lower and middle-class issues. With over 400,000 members and 1,200 neighborhood chapters, ACORN received 10% of its 25 million-dollar budget from federal funding. Sting videos from both coasts were heavily edited with a bias toward employees of color and looped to run on FOX.
Cardinal T-Square Homecoming: Cancer Birthdays for 2010
Dear Fellow Traveler:
I’ve just finished the 2010 birthday report for Cancer and Cancer rising. I also recommend that people with the Cancer Moon listen to this report, as the Moon is the body that rules this sign.
For information about zodiac sign greeting cards, drop a note to email@example.com
The presentation includes an hour-plus astrology reading, and a 20-minute tarot reading. I cover, in detail, the cardinal T-square that is now taking shape in Aries, Libra and Capricorn. This is the aspect that is reshaping the world, and which is so profoundly affecting your sign. The interesting thing is that Cancer seems to be the ‘missing sign’ from this setup, though in this report I look at a mysterious point that is in early Cancer — a slow-moving hypothetical planet called Kronos.
The cardinal T-square is acting like a set of conditioning forces, setting high goals for your professional aspirations (Jupiter and Uranus in Aries), your relationships (Pluto and a lunar eclipse in Capricorn) and changes to your home and security base (Saturn in Libra). All of these elements are working together to provide an environment where progress is inevitable. Having not just fallen off the astrological turnip truck, I also know how stressful this is for some of you less-acclimated to nonstop change.
Cancer, after all, is a vibe that likes things safe and solid, though now the forces of progress are all over your life.
It’s therefore incumbent upon you to use them to your best advantage, rather than experience them as destructive forces — and you do have this option. Here is where Kronos comes in. Think of this point as a super-Saturn, describing an inner growth process through which you recognize your authentic role in the world. One of the keywords for Kronos is “VIP.” It is about authoritative positions and expert status, in the words of Martha Lang-Wescott, suggesting that the time has come for you to put your knowledge to work, and to focus the self-respect you deserve for having gained that knowledge. Kronos entered Cancer in 2000-2001 and will be here for many years to come. It’s a helpful influence I suggest you become familiar with.
Last week’s eclipse in your birth sign is a reminder that you are at a true turning point in your life. And Chiron plus Neptune entering your sympathetic water sign Pisces represent wide expansion of your horizons.
I cover all of this in the 2010 Cancer birthday report. I suggest that Cancer rising also listen to this because these transits will affect you directly in the same ways they affect the Cancer Sun. And this sign being ruled by the Moon, those with their lunar placement here will benefit as well.
For those who are wondering how I can go into this kind of detail without having your natal chart, I explain it in this link on the Cosmic Confidential website. While I have a gift for creating these kinds of reports, I am tapping into a property of astrology that allows me to create a more accurate report than the ‘custom reports’ that assemble many bits out of a database. This is an actual, complete reading of the astrology affecting the sign Cancer.
Our audio reports have received rave reviews from our clients, and are among the most successful products we’ve ever offered in Planet Waves history. For instant access to your 2010 Cancer report, check this link. The cost is just $14.95, a fraction of what a computer-generated ‘custom report’ goes for. You will receive an audio link that you can play as many times as you like, and there is the option to download the whole thing so you can put it into iTunes or your iPod.
Please let me know how the report works for you. Wishing you the very best of love, luck and adventure rising to the challenges and opportunities of these transits,
Yours & truly,
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, July 23, 2010, #825 – BY ERIC FRANCIS