Mars Direct: Our New Micro Environment

Dear Friend and Reader:

Mars has been direct for a little more than a week. This is describing a new phase of astrological life, outside the somewhat contained experience of Mars retrograde from April 17 through June 29.

The Sun as it would appear from Mars, depicted once every 30 Martian days. This is called an analemma, though because it’s on Mars, it’s simulated by artist Dennis Mamanna. See more at APOD.

Inner planet retrogrades can feel like bubbles of time. What happens inside the bubble tends to stay there for a while. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we enter the bubble and get a sample of a special sub-environment that’s usually less accessible but opens up like an enchantment.

Mars is retrograde just 10% of the time, for about 72 days out of every two years. It’s like a review and reset for Mars, which you can visualize as soaking in and charging up on the energy of the sign where it stationed direct, which was (and is) Scorpio this time.

Many people were not so enchanted by Mars retrograde, however; it was tense, it seemed to never end, and it went spelunking directly into taboo territory. But I would propose that it was still a helpful investigation for most, even if it was a bit rough. Then it ended.

Yet the feelings, revelations and lessons tend to come out gradually and in a more refined form in the months after the retrograde ends. That’s because Mars has to re-cross the degrees where it was retrograde, which it will do well into August. So we get to live out the process in slow motion — through the direct (rather than retrograde) motion.

Since Mars is such a vital planet (directly representing vitality), and since its themes are so prominent right now, it’s worth keeping the book open. Mars is the planet that represents seeking identity. If Aries is the sign of I Am, then Mars, its ruling planet, is the agent of self-discovery. Remember that Mars (the ruler of Aries) and Ares (the Greek version of Mars), are gods of war. The ancients left us with an association between identity and violence.

Planet Waves
Desire in the style of Scorpio. What is better: this, or shooting someone? There is a correct answer to that question, though it’s somewhat naughty.

Mars, however, is in Scorpio right now. It still has its Aries elements, but in Scorpio it seeks identity through sexuality and relationships. That is one option for how one might seek identity without killing people. (It’s also a metaphor for the conflation of sex and aggression.)

Desire, push energy and sexuality in the ‘I want you’ sense of it, are all associated with Mars as a critter of Scorpio. That is where we find Mars now, struggling to choose between these two diverging aspects of its nature.

Remember that sexuality is taboo and violence is not. So the path of least resistance for Mars is to attack someone rather than invite them home, smoke a joint and voluntarily get naked.

At the bottom of all this is the ongoing struggle of finding oneself. And presently we are all infused, dazed and confused with a largely unacknowledged effect of the internet, which is to diffuse identity. This is genuinely destabilizing, and all of society is feeling the effects.

All electric and electronic media, from the telegraph forward, create identity chaos by cultivating tribal identity. The really big development here was radio in the 1930s, which started the process of breaking down individualism and leading our society into a state of what seems like permanent group think. The most glaring example of this was the War of the Worlds incident of October 1938, wherein just about everyone was convinced that Martians were invading the planet, based on a radio drama.

Several generations of media later, the internet allows for near-anonymous, multi-personality existence. It also facilitates the total invasion of privacy, for example, by the NSA and by hackers. However you may look at it, there is no private, personal, individual existence on the internet.

This is one reason why, in my view, we are seeing so much violence in the world right now, whether in reality, in fantasy or in the ‘news’. There is an out-of-control war going on in Syria and Iraq, which we are told repeatedly is a function of the internet. What those who say that tend to think is that young people are hearing about the war and Islamist views via internet and are responding to recruitment propaganda.

What they really mean is the internet has created the perfect conditions for people to be so clueless as to who they are that going to a battle front seems like a workable way to find oneself. I know I declared the Anti Sixties over recently, though this is a hangover of that era. Kids used to hitchhike to San Francisco, wear bright colors, smoke pot, play bongo drums and have sex with different people — to find themselves.

Planet Waves
This newspaper cartoon from 1906 predicts that people will be doing their own thing with the telegraph. This illustrates how media have strange effects, in this case, on private relationships. See larger image here.

Today it’s appealing to head into battle, be it in the makebelieve Islamic ‘Caliphate’ (global state) or on the streets of the United States.

That might be through participating in gang violence (group activity), planning or actually doing a mass shooting (acting on a group), and even claiming that you’re acting on behalf of Al Qaeda, ISIS and Hezbollah all at the same time (hey, a group of groups).

That is what I would call an identity crisis. Many who do not directly participate easily get drawn into the drama via the extended nervous system of the internet and television, which are another form of group identity as we all see the same thing over and over, then tweet about it.

On the war front, violent incidents over the past few weeks are among the worst in the history of the 25-year conflict in Iraq and surrounding areas.

Bear in mind that things got really nasty after the United States and the U.K.toppled Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq, eliminating one of the most important roots of identity for a country, especially a dictatorship: its all-powerful leader. This happened right as the internet was taking hold as a popular medium.

The police, too, are seeking identity; as of today, American cops have killed 505 people in 2016, as reported on today’s edition of Democracy Now (The Washington Post cites 508). A disproportionate number of these people are African Americans and other racial minorities, which is in turn spurring a response in the form of Black Lives Matter and other movements. Violence being committed against people is forcing them to commit to who they are.

Planet Waves
Philando Castile.

In Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Wednesday, Philando Castile, 32, was shot dead in his car while reaching for his driver’s license, in front of his partner and child. And on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police shot and killed Alton Sterling, 37, while pinning him down to the ground as he pleaded for his life.

We might well ask why there is not more public outrage at this. It’s been going on and on, seemingly without end. The two kinds of domestic violence we hear about on a regular basis are mass shootings by apparent civilians, and shootings of people of color by the police.

They might seem unrelated, though they — and the pro-gun movement — are all features of the same environment, as is domestic violence, the third pole in the tripod.

This is not happening because there are so many guns. The issue is why there are so many guns, and why so many people want them so much, which is the product of a mentality that cannot be explained merely by availability and paranoia. One of the core messages of the gun is “I am someone important,” or rather, “I am someone.”

You might say that the war and murder of people of color is about racism — which is nothing more than inflamed, entrenched sickness related to identity. This includes personal identity and tribal identity, which in the case of racism is established on the basis of who one is not.

Disgusting as this can be, we live in a society that seems to only respect violence and murder. (As Noam Chomsky said in The Culture of Terrorism, if you want to impress Congress, tell them how many people you’ve killed.) There’s a prurient excitement about these events, which totally seize consciousness each for days on end. It’s as if killing is not just acceptable, it’s admirable — and I think the reason is that it touches some deep-seated need to know who we are. It touches that need, of course, without doing much to satisfy it, so the cycle continues.

My uncle Anthony Mazza from Brooklyn, who died many years ago, was a gun-toting, Confederate flag NRA type who said he wanted to join the KKK. His wife, my aunt Joan (who is somewhat more literate), explained to him that they didn’t accept Sicilians or Catholics. (Maybe they’ve become more progressive since then.)

Planet Waves
Alton Sterling.

The problem we face is that violence feels good. You might not think it does, but for many people it satiates a vacuum of self. That’s why so many people are obsessed by Walking Dead and other action films where hundreds of people die or get blown up. And it’s why death is such a dependable seller as a news item.

Then there are the less exciting forms of killing, such as risk assessment. The most banal form of murder is no less effective. If war is the extension of diplomacy, then murder is the natural extension of business. Every bite of food you eat comes from a business, and most of them are industrial scale.

Existing law allows chemical manufacturers to murder one person per million per chemical. We accept this as the cost of living, partly because it’s necessary to eat, and partly because we know that most food has to come from these big corporations.

We might figure one in a million gives us a pretty good chance of surviving, but not with tens of thousands of chemicals on the market — and with nobody studying the enhanced killing power of exposure to multiple toxins.

Neither is it shocking with so many random carcinogens floating around; just the background levels of dioxin raise the floor on chemical deaths to more like one person in 1,000 or even one in 100. That should not be shocking with nearly half of all people getting cancer sometime in their lifetimes.

This is why there is such resistance by industry to GMO labeling. No matter how safe they say it is, you can be sure it’s orders of magnitude more dangerous. Yet there’s not much of an on-the-ground movement to demand that labeling. We seem to willingly accept that some among us will be murdered by glyphosate in their nacho chips.

Yet I would contend that people with a stronger identity are more likely to be driven to take care of themselves, and to eat real food.

Planet Waves
My sincere Uncle Anthony in the 1960s. He was Sicilian Catholic born in Brooklyn but wanted to join the KKK. He didn’t get how funny that was. He moved to Tennessee and lived in a trailer.

Part of being anonymized is eating generic, factory-processed food, and that food is indeed deadly. As Morgan Spurlock demonstrated in Supersize Me, eating at McDonald’s is a violent attack on your body. And that’s fine, if you don’t identify with your body. Of course, as soon as someone gets sick, body identity is suddenly thrust upon them.

I was curious about this conflation of identity meltdown and violence, so I called up someone who has written a lot about it: Eric McLuhan.

“Violence results from somebody ripping off an identity, recovering one, or establishing one. These are the three main provocations for violence,” he said. “This would apply at any level, personal or group. In a group you have a feud or a war. A feud is always about identity.”

He continued: “Identity is getting weakened daily by the new technologies. There’s nothing on which to base a private identity anymore, except a group. Group identities are weak and fragile and very subject to insult. A guy with a strong private identity can take a lot of kicking around. But you insult a group and you start a war, whether it’s a feud or something like ISIS.”

In an email a little while back, he continued:

“Private identity depends entirely on a culture of detachment and objectivity. Without detachment, everybody is always completely involved in and with everybody else: no privacy. Privacy makes sense ONLY in the context of a society composed of private individuals.

“The private individual has private thoughts and private ambitions. Such people are considered to be a mortal threat to any group society — or any group for that matter — and must be ostracized. Tribes often go to the extent of not just expelling the offender but killing him or her.

Planet Waves
Not a rock concert, but rather zombies and guys with guns from the wildly popular AMC program Walking Dead. They don’t walk for long.

“The ‘group man’ does not have an inner life: everything has to be ‘out there’ as a matter of course; nothing can be hidden or withheld.”

Of course, Mars in Scorpio wants to keep its privacy. It wants to keep its secrets, or share them with one other person. It’s in a long discussion with Uranus and Eris in Aries — the very image of individual identity exploding into group environment.

If you go within, you might be able to feel just where that tipping point is, and claim some of yourself back. You have the tools you need; you’re self-aware enough. You merely need to turn that awareness on; or, said another way, to remember who you were before the internet.


Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Tuesday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, by Planet Waves, Inc. Core community membership: $197/year. Editor and Publisher: Eric Francis Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Designer: Lizanne Webb. Finance: Victoria Pomante. Astrology Editor: Amanda Painter. Astrology Fact Checker: Len Wallick. Copy Editor and Fact Checker: Jessica Keet. Eric’s Assistant: Cortney Britton. Client Services: Amy Elliott. Media Consultant: Andrew Marshall McLuhan. Research, Writing and Editing: In addition to those listed above, Planet Waves is produced by a team consisting of Fe Bongolan, Kelly Janes, Amanda Moreno and Carol van Strum.


Surfing Cancer’s Waves, and Loving It

By Amanda Painter

One way to read the planets right now is that they are all about relating and relationships. But what if you’re not in a capital-R ‘Relationship’ currently? That’s okay: as a human being, a great part of your existence is concerned with relating to others in a wide variety of roles — work colleague, friend, sibling, parent, child, etc. — in addition to lover/partner/spouse.

Planet Waves
Sparklewater, a few days before the solstice as Venus entered Cancer. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Plus, there’s always your relationship to yourself in all your various facets. That is, how you think and feel about your dreams, fears, desires, self-esteem, your history, your plans for the future.

It’s the ways you navigate challenges and opportunities, the stories you tell yourself about them, and how those stories make you feel. I’m not talking about self-absorption or narcissism. More like, the more clearly you can relate to yourself, the more clearly you can relate to others.

Currently, the Sun, Mercury and Venus are clustered in Cancer. On one level, this suggests domestic, family-oriented, mother-child and caring/caretaking themes and energy. You might be noticing this in your inner experience as well as in your conversations and impulses (such as to bake, clean the house or have a heart-to-heart; yes it’s cliché, but clichés exist for a reason).

Yet those three objects in Cancer are making some very interesting and potentially provocative or compelling aspects to other planets around the zodiac wheel.

The first of those is a grand water trine between Venus in Cancer, Mars in Scorpio and Chiron in Pisces. A grand trine connects planets in the same degree of all three signs of one element (in this case, water) with a sense of flow and harmony.

‘Emotional awareness’ is the phrase that comes to mind. Chiron brings the awareness piece; Venus and Mars add the relational element, especially with regard to sexual or romantic relationships (and there may be an element of ‘family’ involved). The water signs are all about emotion.

Planet Waves
Simplified chart set for Sun opposite Pluto. The green triangle in the middle indicates the grand water trine; purple lines show the oppositions; red line shows the square. Counter-clockwise from the far-left: Chiron in Pisces; Eris and Uranus in Aries; Sun, Mercury and Venus in Cancer; Mars in Scorpio; Pluto in Capricorn. The Moon (not shown) entered Virgo today just before 6:41 pm EDT / 20:40:51 UTC.

What are you emotionally aware of right now? What is asking for your attention, empathy, receptivity and action? What do you want out of it? Or, more to the point, how do you want to feel in a particular relationship situation? Trust your intuition.

There can be a kind of whirlpool effect with grand trines. If you’re noticing that your creative or sexual desires, some past sore spot/issue/pattern, and your ability to offer and receive caring seem to be feeding each other in a big ol’ circle, what’s the way out of the circularity and into constructive action?

That’s where the other aspects to those three Cancer planets come in.

In a nutshell: be open to surprises; be willing to air out what has stalled or reached a plateau; be curious and willing to discover what has been secret. Speaking in ‘I’ statements and listening with compassion can help to keep things clear, gentle and more likely to open out into new understanding, rather than triggering the impulse to close up and hide.

Again, this relates to your interpersonal relationships — but also to yourself. You might be surprised how often people ‘hide’ things from themselves. Then again, you might not; denial is a popular vacation spot (and no, I’m not talking about that river in Egypt…).

The aspects offering the nudges to dig (or dive) deep and surf the unexpected waves are the Sun and Mercury opposite Pluto in Capricorn, and Venus square Eris and Uranus in Aries. Mercury exactly conjoined the Sun on Wednesday; their respective oppositions to Pluto are both exact today, almost eleven hours apart. Venus squares Uranus today in between the oppositions. It all can be taken as one event.

Essentially, it’s okay to recognize that someone you’re close to and care about has changed; it’s okay to show others the ways you’re changing and growing and cycling through phases, too. It’s okay to experiment, to shake up routines, and to shift your attention from something that hasn’t been working so you can focus on something new that just might do the trick.

It’s okay to let love and caring (and desire) lead you. Fear just keeps you in denial — complete with metaphorical crocodiles. Surely you can think of a better trip to take with your hard-earned time on this planet, and all of this beautiful energy.


Planet Waves

Marie Poppins and Sadeck Waff double up in their 2×2 Mirror Dance. Image: video still.

How to Double Your Harmony and Reflection

By Amanda Painter

With the sky giving us the mirroring effect of a solar opposition, the surprise of a square to Uranus, and the flow of a grand water trine, what is the best way to move through your life? If the crabwalk and swimming like a fish are both out, why not dance?

In this visually mesmerizing video of the 2×2 Mirror Dance, conceived of and choreographed by Marie Poppins and Sadeck Waff, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts (just like you). With a videographer situated at just the right angle and distance, Poppins and Waff perform a series of moves that are often angular, yet as fluid as water.

Keeping contact with the mirror for most of the dance, they multiply themselves to form beautifully symmetrical shapes of connection and separation — before disappearing off the margins, into the void.


This Week on Planet Waves FM
Hello Jupiter: The U.S. Chart and Medicine for the People

Dear Friend and Listener:

In this week’s program [play episode here], I look at the new environment in the days and weeks after Mars has stationed direct. There’s a grand trine in the sky — planets in all of the water signs. How does that feel, and how do you keep your room tidy?

Planet Waves
Power folk artist Nahko Bear is today’s musical guest. You can visit his website here and find out his latest tour dates.

I also look at the United States Sibly chart, the most widely-used horoscope for the United States.

There’s a streak of planets across the 8th house in the sign Cancer: Venus, Jupiter, the Sun, Mercury and others. This is a huge legacy of some kind, an inheritance. Who is it from, and what are we supposed to do with it?

Finally, I look at the Juno mission to Jupiter, which arrived Monday night to not enough fanfare.

A bunch of rocket scientists successfully slowed down their robotic probe (previously traveling at 130,000 mph) and parked it in a safe orbit around Jupiter.

There, it will photograph into the interior of the planet, measure heat and radiation, and perhaps give us a glimpse into the early origins of the solar system.

My musical guest is Nahko and Medicine for the People. If you’re wondering what new music is getting the kids going out on the festival scene, Nahko Bear is a great place to start. You can visit his website here; there’s a new album, called Hoka. I think you’ll like it. Special thanks to Amy Jacobs for selecting today’s music and sending Nahko my way.

During the program I mentioned that we have a combined summer sale of Vision Quest, the 2016 annual, and the 2016 Spring Reading. You will love these practical, visionary and creative astrology readings — that’s a promise. Ordering information is here and also below.

With love,

Planet Waves TV: Cancer New Moon, and the USA Horoscope

The new edition of Planet Waves TV covers Monday morning’s Cancer New Moon, the grand water trine and kite pattern with Pluto. I also cover the United States Sibly chart, the most widely used chart for July 4, 1776. I look at the question: why is the United States so neurotic? Why do we squander our resources? The answer seems to be that we feel guilty about how we got them. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Planet Waves

More information on the Summer Sale is available at this link.

Don’t forget to take advantage of our Summer Sale on Vision Quest, the spectacular 2016 annual edition, and the audio-video Spring Reading on Mars retrograde. We’ve knocked down the prices for individual sign purchases and for the complete readings, making this a bargain simply not to be missed. If you already have the readings, why not give them as a gift?

Vision Quest: Purchase all 12 Signs | Purchase Individual Signs

Spring Reading: Purchase all 12 Signs | Purchase Individual Signs
Or get both full readings here for just $67.



Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

Your extended monthly horoscope for July was published Thursday, June 23. We published your extended monthly horoscope for June on Thursday, May 26. We published your Moonshine horoscope for the second Sagittarius Full Moon, by Len Wallick, on Thursday, June 16. Len’s Moonshine Horoscope for the Cancer New Moon was published Thursday, June 30. Please note: we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign.

Short Monthly Horoscope for July 2016, #1107 | by Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You can now work out a mutually agreeable plan in an intimate relationship. When you look back on this development, you will see that the missing ingredient was being honest about what you want. You knew all along; this was a matter of admitting it to yourself. True enough, it involved subject matter that’s not easy to discuss even with oneself; but you seem to have figured out that you really need to be more open. This story is not over; you’re learning something that will set the tone of the next couple of years, so remember to use what you know. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Recent events have taught you a lot about empathy. It was a process, which you might think of as learning to be a compassionate witness to the process another person is going through. The key here is being helpful without getting so involved that you lose your independence. It’s easy to overcompensate and keep too much personal space, which doesn’t really help relationships. You now know how to find a balance. There is an easy formula: all expressions of care begin with self-care, and overflow from there. Then you have plenty of love, patience and food to go around. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Your financial life has a tendency to run in extreme cycles, more than those of most other people you know. If you know how to ride the waves, you can do well for yourself. Your solar chart indicates that this is a moment of relative abundance. This is a great time to get into the habit of stashing away money and other important resources. Just the fact of doing so will have a stabilizing effect; not just on your finances but on your self-esteem, and wealth attracts wealth. Society teaches us a big drama about running on empty. Running on abundance suits you much better. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Photo by Andy Spearing under Creative Commons.

“Your readings are always so insightful and their timing tends to unfold in a way that refers to a point that we may not have reached yet but will be experiencing soon (at least that’s how it has felt to me). Thank you for listening and for your art, which nourishes us all!” — Winter Clark

You don’t have to jump from a cliff to discover exhilarating insights about your year: anyone with a Cancer Sun, Cancer rising or a Cancer Moon can wade in gently with the two audio segments (currently available for instant access!) of the 2016-17 Cancer Birthday Reading (order here). Eric will have the video tarot reading and summary portions of the reading ready very soon.



Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You have every reason to feel good about yourself. Leave behind any recent challenges that may have had you working too hard to tap into the pleasure, creativity or contact that you need. If you orient your life on these core human experiences, you’ll find it much easier to reach for the great accomplishments you know you’re capable of. Success at this stage of your life has nothing to do with ambition. Rather, it’s about full appreciation of your own humanity, coupled with understanding that any job worth doing is worth doing well. Happiness is success; everything else is window dressing. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Your best ideas are going to come out of the blue, as if your inner genius is a kitten ambushing your head from behind the couch. Therefore, pay attention, and do that thing where you sleep next to a notebook and pencil, or ask your friends to write things down while you’re driving. There is energy behind your thoughts right now, and you will come up with solutions to problems that could turn out to be valuable, useful things. It doesn’t matter whether you feel creative; the fact is that you are, in some eminently practical forms. Put that gift to use. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Make room for some chaos in your life. It’s true that you love order and organization, but sometimes it works against you. Pick a room, a table, or some part of your living or working area where you allow a storm to brew. Then work in that space without any need to clean up, allowing things to become and evolve in their own organic way. This is a fermentation tank for your future goals, desires and plans. In every great success there is a measure of odd chance, the unpredictable and the unusual. Hold the space open, in a direct invitation to both new vision and opportunity. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — This is a moment of bold achievement for you, though remember that your real goal is to take care of people. Whatever you do, and whatever you aspire to, consider how important that value is to you. More than being about graciousness, you recognize this as central to your philosophy of existence. It will help considerably if you surround yourself with others who share this approach to life. You can also do some teaching, both in words and by example. You may not recognize how well respected you are, so keep in mind that what you say and what you do are powerful examples to others. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Mars has been retrograde in your sign for months, and it changed direction in late June. This has taken you on a journey deep into your emotions, including direct encounters with fear, desire, passion and memories you haven’t recalled in ages. You now know what you’re made of, and what you want. You don’t need to argue with yourself about these things; you merely need to accept what is true about you, and live from that place. Self-acceptance is a journey without a final destination, though as you travel this path you will discover others who accept you without hesitation. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You will lay many anxieties to rest this month, as you discover that your fears were all in your imagination. Once you let go of this kind of resistance, you’ll discover how much more energy you have. Eventually you’ll reach the point where your flow of love and creativity leaves no room for worry or self-doubt, which is how you’re likely to imagine yourself as an enlightened being. This is a rare form of confidence, deeply rooted in your soul. The more you focus on what you love about life, the more you will discover where your true strength lies. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You may discover that this is a rich month for relationships, so much that you will want to keep your options open. Many feel that when you’re doing that, there’s only so close you can allow yourself to get to other people. You might consider taking the opposite approach, where you stay open and embracing of anyone who strikes your fancy, with no hesitation. You certainly have a little something extra going on. These people are drawn to something, and that something is you. Being open to receiving is one of the great lessons of your life, great being another word for excellent. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Take some space for yourself this month, as in space and time to get to know yourself again. Plenty has changed, and you’ve been through a lot in recent seasons of your life, and it’s time to reassess. It’s true that you could find plenty to keep you busy. The angle of your solar chart that’s getting all the action is the one that covers ‘work and wellbeing’. Emphasize the wellbeing, minimize the work, and you’ll be stunned how much you get done with how little effort. Rest, recreation and repair are the keys to efficiency. This will serve you well. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.


Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You’re embarking on the summer when you discover your true talent as an artist, as a lover and — most of all — as someone who trusts yourself as these things. Pisces is the sign that’s designed for pleasure, though it’s easy to get distracted from that because you place such a high value on serving others. Yet it’s clear that you need an extended opportunity to soak in the beauty to which you are so sensitive. No matter how busy you may be tempted to be, indulge in what you know are the finer things in life. The result will be flowering into a new phase of your life. For your Eric Francis horoscope this week, please see this link.

12 thoughts on “Mars Direct: Our New Micro Environment

  1. Fe Bongolan

    It looks as though when Mars returns, it makes a big entrance:

    A largely peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dallas, Texas over the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling was violently disrupted when sniper fire wounded and killed Dallas policemen on site. It’s been confirmed thus far that of the 11 officers shot, 5 officers have been killed by sniper fire.

    At a press conference tonight, Dallas Police Chief David Brown announced that three of the four shooting suspects are in custody and the fourth was holed up by police in a nearby parking garage, where negotiations and exchanges of gunfire ensued. The fourth suspect told police “the end is coming” and that he will “hurt and kill more cops”. He has since been killed.

    We will continue to provide updates as events unfold.

  2. Fe Bongolan

    Here’s a Facebook post I got tonight from my friend Elizabeth, who has been living abroad for around a decade:

    Talked to my mom on the phone last night, sniffling through a cold and she says maybe if you left Africa you wouldn’t always be so sick. I point out last time I was sick was in the USofA, in her house, and she admits. But I know my itinerant life makes her worry. I lived on the street terrorists shot up in Paris, though many years before. A high school classmate was badly injured in the Brussels airport attacks. A city I have loved and worked in, Bujumbura, became the site of violent suppression of protest including multiple murders, and friends fled to exile. I write this from another city dear to me, in a country with a problem with police impunity and extra-judicial killings- last week a prominent lawyer and his taxi man who were last seen hollering from a police cell were found murdered in a river.

    The violence is blatant, shows no sign of abetting; perhaps it has always been so but now we have videos and the internet to keep it in mind. My mother worries. She knows I’d go back to any of these places; she wishes I would just come home.

    So yesterday I read that Philando Castile, shot to death in his car just outside of my hometown in St. Paul, Minnesota was the cafeteria supervisor at my elementary school. We didn’t overlap- he’s younger than I am.

    I think about home, about a safety that never was for many. I’ve been pulled over by Minnesota cops and my blonde hair and pale white skin, my décolleté- I’m willing to femme it up on those rare occasions when objectification works for me— have helped me never have a speeding ticket. I’ve been pulled over for a taillight, and the officer just asked if all us girls were drinking in those cups was coffee.

    The word home gives an illusion of safety, but that safety is built on the same structures of privilege and oppression that assault and creep, that stifle our imaginations, and make ‘us’ think that we are ‘safer’ in middle America than in other further, violent locales. It is a safety ‘we’ are accustomed of thinking of as enforced by people in uniform, who are on ‘our’ side. Indeed, my elementary school had a visit every year from Officer Friendly, who would explained to us how cops were there to help us and how we could always run up to an officer for help.

    But in a country built on slave labor, in a country where a black man in a hoodie still invokes a murderous fear in white men with guns, where the history of enforcement is bound up in the protection of ‘free’ labor and denying personhood to black citizens, where demagogues propose walls to keep ‘those people’ out — in that country our ‘we’ is fractured. We have known this – and our various ‘we’s’ create our own havens be they in compounds or dance clubs- but even these- like Pulse – are not immune to this tide of violence. We are not equal in safety.

    I have a ticket back to the US next week. Frequently the border guard has greeted me with a hearty ‘welcome home’. One, after reassuring himself that Kenya didn’t have Ebola, told me I must be so glad to be back. Indeed, I am always glad to come to a country I love for its diversity and ingenuity. But I am scared of America, an America that imagines citizens as threats, as a right to own an assault weapon as more important than a right to not be shot. Of an America where the solution to police murder is someone’s tragic idea to murder police, to fight terror as the war on it has so aptly taught us, by creating more terror.

    America suffers from a failure of imagination. Claudia Rankine writes that ‘black men are dying because white men fail to police their imaginations.’ We live in a country where a hashtag has to remind us what should be obvious – that #blacklivesmatter. But it is not only white men who are failing. And it is not just a policing of imagination we have failed at. It is a failure to do the real, concrete work of imagining the experience of another and then doing something to make that experience better for all of an unfractured ‘us’. It is a failure to imagine better policy and implement it. It is a failure to include all of us in safety.

    Our founding fathers failed in their initial imagination of “We the people” by excluding the people not like them. But we are not tethered to their failure- America is a country of revision. Perhaps it is the nearly rubbed out American optimism in me- I somehow still believe we can do better. I believe we must. America has produced thinkers and activists for as long as we’ve been a country. The groundwork is there. But we are so heartbreakingly overdue.

    1. Amy Elliott

      That is incredibly profound and heart-wrenching. I sincerely hope America does do better. (I hope the same for the UK after its own recent failure.) It’s all that can be wished for. The ancient Greeks knew that even a curse afflicting many generations can be ended. It might have to involve painful change, but choosing what is right is always possible.

    2. Amanda Painter

      “America suffers from a failure of imagination. Claudia Rankine writes that ‘black men are dying because white men fail to police their imaginations.’ We live in a country where a hashtag has to remind us what should be obvious – that #blacklivesmatter. But it is not only white men who are failing. And it is not just a policing of imagination we have failed at. It is a failure to do the real, concrete work of imagining the experience of another and then doing something to make that experience better for all of an unfractured ‘us’. It is a failure to imagine better policy and implement it. It is a failure to include all of us in safety.

      “Our founding fathers failed in their initial imagination of “We the people” by excluding the people not like them. But we are not tethered to their failure- America is a country of revision. Perhaps it is the nearly rubbed out American optimism in me- I somehow still believe we can do better. I believe we must. America has produced thinkers and activists for as long as we’ve been a country. The groundwork is there. But we are so heartbreakingly overdue.”


      Fe, thank you for sharing this succinct, beautifully insightful email from your friend Elizabeth. The constant adrenal firing that the news seems to require of us and create without our noticing is exhausting; I am grateful to have these words to read to counter that effect.

  3. Len Wallick

    Thank you, Eric (and Amanda and Amy). Once again, you are on the wave front of events with this headline piece, and the sad news that followed only hours after. Also a grateful nod to Fe for her informative news update and for sharing the e-mail from her friend. Once again, you and Planet Waves give us a way to understand what would otherwise be a much greater challenge to comprehend.

  4. Kelly Grace Smith

    In the work I am doing, the people I am seeing, professionally and personally…it comes down to some simple, but not easy issues…identity and reality. Our sense of Self and our ability to discern the truth and reality.

    And how fear impacts everything.

    How do we belong, without needing to belong? How do we be separate, but not alone? How do we genuinely connect, but not attach? How do we take part in community, but not follow?

    How do we possess the energy to see and accept the realities the world is showing us quite clearly, without living in a low-grade state of fear all of the time? How do we face reality, and also our responsibility for that reality? Are we responsible because of our actions…or because of our allowing? Our words or our silence?

    All these years, why didn’t we believe the communities of color when they told us this was happening? Why did we need to see “the proof” of this truth on video? Where’s our disconnect? Our empathy? Our trust?

    The challenge is indeed, great and complex…the ways to meet it wisely and well are not. But we refuse to “believe” that embarking upon the road “back home,” if you will, can really be…simple. It can.

    Kelly Grace Smith

  5. Amanda Painter

    I admit it: sometimes when the news gets to be too much with mass tragedies piling on top of each other, I can feel myself detach a little. I just can’t let all the violence and sadness and outrage in. It’s just too much. My friend and former roommate Lisa just posted this video, with the invitation to post some beauty to counteract all the terribleness we’re awash in.

    And within moments, I could feel all the grief and pain of it all come washing through on the wave of those chords and united voices and poetry, and I started bawling. I needed some energy to move a little. Your reaction may vary. But if you’re feeling the need for either beauty or catharsis, give this a try. <3

    1. Eric Francis

      I have a strong stomach…that comes from covering a lot of politics, crime and mass poisoning incidents. But I have to say this week pushed me pretty hard. It was more than enough dealing in any small way with the murders of Castile and Sterlinig. The audio and video were just so graphic and the emotions so potent. The callousness of their shootings made me want to throw up. Then last night I flipped on the TV (I usually check in with Maddow and Hayes) and was met with this sniper situation. While that was happening, Trevor Noah did a non-funny wake the fuck up piece. At some point I checked in with a friend in law enforcement via SMS, then went to bed, and woke up with a headache that’s lasted all day. I rarely ever get headaches. I mean like a few times in my life. This is a lot of pressure, and for me it’s mostly indirect.

      1. Amanda Painter

        Yes — I really get the feeling that a lot of people are feeling the psychic/emotional/energetic pressure of this week. I have not watched the videos, but I did hear some audio on Dem Now. I felt like that was as direct and visceral as I could get — at least this week.

        1. Amy Elliott

          I saw the video recorded by Castile’s girlfriend. It gave me a very powerful impression that for whatever reason, the cop treated all three of the people in the car as not quite human; not deserving of the respect given to human beings. That may seem an obvious interpretation, as there is evident racism in these executions (let’s call them what they are: ‘fatal shooting’ does the victim an injustice). But it wasn’t quite clear to me before just how deep that goes; with how much indifference a cop can murder a man for a broken taillight and then arrest his partner, apparently for just being there. Seeing the horror of it made it real.

          I agree with the article you post below, Amanda: as a first step, those of us lucky enough to be white should maximise our understanding of what is truly going on; then we’ll be all the readier to put a stop to this crap once and for all.

  6. Len Wallick

    It occurs to me that i need not join “fight club” to forge an identity. There are other ways to find out or define who I am. There are other ways to find out or define who we are. Let the buck stop. No more violence. Many thanks to Amanda for her links to other, better ways.

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