Mercury Turnaround: The Pisces Factor

Posted by Eric F Coppolino

Photo by Eric Francis.

Mercury stations direct at 6:33 pm EDT this Thursday, June 11. It’s been retrograde in Gemini since May 18. I’m again hearing from some readers and people who speak to me spontaneously that this was the most difficult Mercury retrograde they’ve experienced, though not nearly as frequently as with the prior one in Aquarius. The […]

Photo by Eric Francis.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Mercury stations direct at 6:33 pm EDT this Thursday, June 11. It’s been retrograde in Gemini since May 18. I’m again hearing from some readers and people who speak to me spontaneously that this was the most difficult Mercury retrograde they’ve experienced, though not nearly as frequently as with the prior one in Aquarius.

The current retrograde is in Gemini, though really the most salient factor is the involvement of planets in Pisces — centaur Nessus, Neptune and centaur Chiron. Neptune in particular adds the factor of events below the level of normal perception. With Neptune one can proceed on a current of thought not fully connected to awareness and drift in some unusual directions, then awaken as if from a too-long nap on a hot day.

Mercury in Gemini is distinctly mental, though in retrograde it’s also ‘something else’. That something involves Pisces — what you might think of as an imaginal, numinous, astral or creative factor. Neptune in the mix (Mercury is in an unusually long 90-degree aspect to it, called a square) makes it difficult to discern what is real, or even relatively real. Neptune often has an invisibility factor, a veil, deniability or isolation. That does not make things any easier.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Photo by Eric Francis.

As Mercury slows to its station-direct position (in apparent motion, it ‘stops moving’, which is an illusion on several counts, but a potent one) give yourself a chance to pause, consider what you’ve experienced, and be open to new viewpoints.

They’re likely to present themselves to you in any event. Whether you take active interest is another story. You might skip over the obvious, ignore what is subtle or, alternately, tune in and get the message.

I’ve noticed that Mercury stations (either retrograde or direct, but more often direct) arrive with a revelation of some kind: the truth about something percolates out; you make a discovery; you come to an understanding with yourself. Given the Mercury in Gemini factor, I suggest you take an inventory of what you’re not saying and what you’re not hearing. Notice what you’re not noticing. See if you can figure out when you don’t know.

On a purely practical note, keep an eye on cyber security. At the beginning of the retrograde I cautioned about this directly, and last week we heard about one of the most massive cases of hacking in U.S. history — four million federal personnel records were accessed by someone, somewhere, assuming of course that the report is true.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Photo by Eric Francis.

This week Mercury is backing into a square with centaur Nessus. The third-discovered centaur if you begin counting with Chiron’s discovery in 1977, Nessus themes include our collectively-held dark view of sex. Not all individuals feel this way, but Western society seems to be caught in a sexual dystopia that spans from AIDS to rape to pedophilia, where the only ‘good news’ lately is who had a sex-change operation.

Nessus is complex, but its themes are soaked in this dark world of the shadow erotic, so far as I can tell, for the purpose of awareness and healing. Astrology that points to the problem points to the solution, or at least how to make some progress.

Mercury retrogrades into a square just slightly more than a degree from Nessus. It’s very close as we speak and will be for about two weeks. This illustrates the approach toward a necessary topic, though in an unexpected or oblique way. The square was exact back on May 3, just before the Beltane Full Moon. The current square is a near miss, but it’s close enough for Mercury to pick up on what is being agitated or transformed by Nessus.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Photo by Eric Francis.

I would offer two informed theories as to what that is. First, there’s individual sexual darkness, unresolved history, ignorance and a wide generation of young people over-boiled in evangelical Christian repression and denial about sex.

Many people have been through sexual hell. Many others have not figured out they’ve been deceived: sex is a natural and beautiful mode of human communication and contact. It is not inherently a product, not an act of violence, not a property right. We have plenty of influence over where we want to take the dream.

Every individual is responsible for initiating and maintaining their own healing. This is an invitation. Mercury touches the edge of whatever Nessus is processing, enough to pick up on the message and learn something significant, though not enough to plunge in irrevocably. This is a call to healing and to awakening. What does that look like? Well, it sounds like a real conversation.

It sounds like a real conversation about sex and what you need to share about it. You personally. Not the weirdo on the Internet. Not the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. You, yourself. What you have to say. What you need to say. What you’ve learned and discovered and figured out; what you are willing to admit that you want, and challenge any shame you feel as you do so.

Second, we, you and me, are on call for bringing the conversation to the collective, in order to help shift the cultural reputation of sex. The PR position of the most natural experience in the world, the one just about everyone thinks about all day and much of the night, is at its worst ever — yes, worse than in the 1950s, when transvestites and queers were routinely arrested (that went on well into the 1960s).

This will take some courage and also the willingness to heal. It’s different from the ‘private’ conversation in that there’s an awareness of the collective issues involved; the way in which individuals are nearly asphyxiated out of a sense of play by a culture that’s obsessed by negativity, fear, poor body image and perhaps most of all, glamour.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Once you see the connections between you and all that stuff, you’ve stepped into the transpersonal level. This is, by the way, why stories of crime, pain and ‘deviance’ dominate the news when sex is broadcast. That stuff is filling the void where the real conversation belongs.

What we face is personal indeed; it’s interpersonal (others are often involved) and it spreads out into a much wider collective, and that’s where we need to bring the conversation. There are many counterfeits and diversions (scandal, for instance). There is shaming not just of so-called sluts (who don’t really exist; this concept is merely defamatory) but often of anyone who openly admits something kind and friendly about sex (that’s not dressed up for Sunday in some religious or moral value, i.e., sex is OK as long as you’re married).

This is not about OK, not about morals and it’s not about anything weird. I am talking about our natural critterness, our Bio 101, bees and trees, our inherent drive to create and to relate. Get it or admit that you do. Be bold and speak up about what is true for you, what you want, what you need, what you want to change, and see change.

It’s time to loosen up before rigor mortis sets in. There are better reasons of course, though that’s a pretty good one as they come.

76 thoughts on “Mercury Turnaround: The Pisces Factor

  1. RockhoundRockhound

    Thanks Eric, this hits so many relevant points right now, it’ll need a second or third read to aid digestion. Everywhere I go it seems, there is trauma falling out of the mouths of the souls I speak to and it feels epidemic in proportion. I’m intrigued by this and also by the quantity of previously unexpressed sexual trauma wanting to be heard and acknowledged. It’s like the tree is ripe and shedding heavy fruit, allowing its branches to rise up once more. You’ve illustrated that beautifully here. x

  2. Geoff Marsh

    Quite mind-blowing, Eric, many thanks. I think Saturn’s return to Scorpio could be the key that unlocks that necessary conversation – last big chance to structure our in-built sexual confidence for 28 years maybe.

    Thank you for Van the Man, Lizzy, much appreciated as always. Pecker up, it’s nearly time for more forward thinking. Here’s a chirpy little choon that I intend to play once or twice as I brush away the cobwebs after Mercury stations direct. Hope you like it.

    You’re right, Rockhound. Trauma even fell out of the mouth of my post-chemo cancer consultant this week. “Of course you’re feeling down, you’ve been through anguish and trauma.” No mention there of Merc retro, I notice. Anguish and Trauma? I thought they were a firm of Glaswegian solicitors specialising in claims for street violence (no offence, Scotland).

  3. LizzyLizzy

    Thanks for the lovely choon, Geoff! Should be teleworking today – cos the office is out of bounds to staff while some big conference is on – but am taking it easy – bliiisss.
    Take good care of yourself, dear Geoff – you’ve come through a lot. But I know that your indomitable spirit will see you through.

  4. Michael MayesMichael Mayes

    You know, this is interesting. One collective issue that I think is effecting me is the current obsession with women’s asses. I will give a very personal example, and try to be very concise. All my life, the conversation has been about ‘tits’ or ‘ass’. ‘Are you a tits, or ass guy?’ Well, it has created in me a neurosis. I am awakening, thank god, to the fact that my perception of what is attractive has literally been formed by this almost cartoon-ish image of a woman with big tits, and a big ass. I mean to say, it has had literal implications on my life, causing me to end relationships in a pitiful search for ‘something better’. Keyword there being ‘something’, not ‘someone’. Even with what I feel like is a good dose of spiritual awareness, this collective issue has taken root in me.

    That said, I understand that the female figure has been adored, worshiped, and desired since forever, for all it’s curvy glory. It’s also clear that sexual attraction is one of the most important factors for me in determining who to enter a sexual relationship with. Yet, perhaps my perception is warped by the collective because I don’t know whether it’s the voice of the shock jock radio host I was forced to listen to while riding in the car with my boss as we went from yard to yard cutting grass, or my own voice when I looked at my beautiful girlfriend’s ass and said to myself, ‘that’s not big enough’.

    1. Cowboyiam

      Michael – You say – “all of my life, the conversation has been about ‘tits’ or ‘ass’.” – not you but me – !! nice subject! – and then ______________

      “It’s also clear that sexual attraction is one of the most important factors for me in determining who to enter a sexual relationship with.”

      Isn’t it Ironic? how we ask the question – when we already KNOW? the answer?!. LOL you know.

  5. Eric Francis Post author

    Mike that is an interesting assessment and self assessment. Pardon the puns please. I want to offer you something that might let you off the hook long enough to take another step, which is when sussing out anything involving sex, go to the level of biology. what are these physical properties about? They seem to involve not just preference but also some bio tropism; reproduction seems to be involved. The role of reproduction in sexual choices is has plenty to it, though in the breasts vs. hips/ass, biology is present.

    Culture and glamor play a role as well. The female body in particular is subject to style guidelines. Female curves are just coming back “in” after decades after the Twiggy era began wherein models looked like emaciated, strung-out heroin addicts. (PS a lot of kids have died from heroin in that era as well and the fashion industry has not taken enough of a flogging for glamorizing all of this.)

    I will offer one more thing, based on about 10 years of doing nude photography mostly of women, and therefore engaging in body image exploration with them. Most women do more judging of themselves than you could ever possibly muster up. Someone you think is absolutely gorgeous might be obsessed with hating her thighs, when such a thing would not have occurred to you in a century of contemplation.

    And it would be a challenge indeed for them to snap out of some kind of thing like you just did in your post above. It looks to me like you’ve taken a step — that is not as easy for women, who inhabit the bodies they’re judging. And surrounded by allegedly more beautiful women to whom they are comparing themselves.

    This is not easy territory, though we could help ourselves significantly by being present in the moment, for real, and making contact with one another.

  6. Amy Elliott

    Mike, I salute your courage.

    Eric: you’re absolutely right; many women I have known judge themselves very harshly indeed, myself included, and we are assisted by our environment in doing so. The amount of conflicting, arbitrary, irrational information we receive about ourselves – from both men and women – is bewildering. Mike’s story points to a problem endemic in our culture.

    It’s strange living in a society that thinks itself so civilised and yet still contains an unwritten code for women (and gender) that would not look out of place in Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia.

  7. LizzyLizzy

    You know Mike – your thoughts reminded me of my elder brother’s feelings about women (he’s always been very open) , who was very affected by my father when growing up – who was a rampant womaniser for many years. I’m not suggesting that your father was too – but it might be that some of your ideas about your attraction to women come from that. Just a thought. Always grateful when you guys are so open and courageous (as Amy said) on PW.

  8. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

    “Second, we, you and me, are on call for bringing the conversation to the collective, in order to help shift the cultural reputation of sex. The PR position of the most natural experience in the world, the one just about everyone thinks about all day and much of the night, is at its worst ever…”

    One more reason I am psyched to be part of a team (with my partner) creating a short play about a relationship between an adult daughter and her 60-something mother: the way the sexual attitudes, restrictions and lack of conversation have both undermined their relationship with each other, and also undermined their respective experiences of sex (and views of themselves as sexual beings).

    It’s only a one-hour play due to the time-limits placed on all shows in the Portland, Maine, Fringe Festival. But we already know we have a longer play lurking inside of it, which will be asking to get written after we get this version off the ground.

    No, this is not (in some ways) what the hipster 20-something kids would normally flock to in this theater festival, but we might be surprised by who shows up (we certainly have a cast of actors connected to people of all ages and tastes, so that helps!). At the very least, we’re getting encouraging, enthusiastic responses from everyone from our sex therapist/coach friends, to people in our local dance community, fellow theater folks, and even my partner’s patients (he’s a doctor) when they ask him what he’s working on these days.

    There are so many ways to approach the conversations that need to happen around sex and healthy sexuality in this culture. The one I’m about to be part of just happens to be taking the form of a *funny* and also poignant one-hour play. We have to compress time significantly due to that time limit, but I think people will still have some good stuff to discuss. We’re pretty excited. :)

  9. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

    But in terms of this Mercury retrograde: having it in my 12th house where both my South Node and Nessus reside has been very challenging — and challenging for those closest to me as they get blindsided by reactions that are not about them, and which I can’t quite trace back to their true source. I’ll definitely be one with my ears open, mind on and antannae up as Mercury stations direct. I have some impressions about what’s going on for me, but it has that maddening 12th house/Neptunian quality of seeming to disappear every time I try to look at it squarely and focus.

    Which reminds me: I need to do a little more journaling around this stuff soon.

    Thank you, Eric, for such a thought-provoking piece.

  10. aWord

    Hi Amanda, you know — I’ve been so busy moving to a new place and feeling the uber heaviness of this Merc Retro that I forgot to explore what house etc it was hitting for me (it’s the 10th). Thanks for the reminder to look at the details (and to resume journaling) and to E for the useful article.

  11. DanielHugging Scorpio

    A long nap on a hot day is right. This retro is just stupid. Rational well thinking people, often in management positions acting like they just left high school. Weird thought out plans with no logical back up, no leadership, no accountability, and a strange blame game on top of it. It’s like everyone is stoned.

    I’m writing confirmation email after confirmation email because people seemed to have stopped writing sentences that make any sense. Then I get snarky vibes because my need for clarity is somehow misinterpreted as confrontational. “No, I just need the facts there Miss Sleepy Sleeperton from Sleepsville Illinois.” Okay, that was snarky…….

    Thankfully, I haven’t been pressed up against the CEO’s back wall with deadline issues or trapped in a meeting with a lot of stress. The only fun moment was when I was locked in a stairwell banging my fists on the door to be let in to the new meeting space, only to be told, “What are you talking about? All the doors are open!”

    No, all your doors are open. And I think you should close a few right about now.

  12. Shelley StearnsShelley Stearns


    Thanks for sharing.

    I was spending time with this guy a couple years ago and he shared some of his turn-ons. From my judgment, he was really steeped in military culture, which was telling him what a man was supposed to be, and was embarrassed about certain things that could be perceived as not dominant. Nothing was remotely shocking, but he did show me an “ass magazine” and I was surprised that the women in them were much larger and less toned than I was expecting. It sounds so naïve on my part, but those magazines taught me something real about sexual desire. And the whole ass thing!

    To the body image conversation:

    I just want to add that I’ve always loved my body, and am actually more confident with my clothes off than on. I feel I can be more myself and all the things I do feel inadequate about are not in the forefront. For awhile, I was obsessed with the fantasy of having sex with myself–two of me, two bodies–partly because I could really look at myself and touch myself as someone else.


    Your description of Nessus and Mercury retrograde is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, but in an uplifting, connected sort of way. I feel like I had tons of revelations last week, but you did cause me to think about what I’m not saying and not hearing.

    Sincerely, am I the only one who has been loving these Mercury retrogrades lately?

  13. Eric Francis Post author

    I suggest we start a branch of this conversation about how difficult it is to admit what I / you / we want (then trying). There is such fear of judgment. Modern day political correctness is a prison of conscience. I would much rather have an evangelical telling me I cannot want anything than some PC person telling me I’m a misogynist racist for liking Asian women*. Or whatever.

    One of the worst double binds men are caught in is: “If you say you are sexually attracted to me, that’s all you’re interested in.”

    Check that out. Talk about a self-esteem deficit.

      1. Eric Francis Post author

        Perhaps it’s possible. But there is always a point of attraction. And if you’re attracted because you like someone’s mind then you’re lying. Etc Etc Etc.

        I think that we all must learn to address attractions whether wanted or not without going into a status of war. Openly admitting sexual attraction has nothing to do with sexual violence. So we can cross that off the list of things to worry about.

        BTW the way re Reddit, doing it online is different from in person, where one must walk up to someone and say hello. It’s easy online.

        Further, I have responded to many women’s personal ads with thoughtful replies and have never once received an acknowledgement of the letter.

        There is something else going on. I have a clue what it is but I would like to hear from some women.

        1. pam

          Is it in part that many women aren’t just interested in sex but other things too. And sex is not the top priority over things like

          who is this I am being approached by, are there any consequences I’m not going to be able to handle, can I introduce him to my kids, is he honest, do we share a sense of humour, is he interesting me, does he mind that I have big thighs (or whatever), does it matter that I’m not (….) does he meet and like me or am I just another notch in the bed post, what are his politics, is he racist, does he smoke heavily, what about STDs, is he someone important in my life (ie responsibility either way), where is he coming from, what are his needs and aspirations, hurts, hopes, what is responsible. Do I like him, do I love him, is he a ‘fit’ with all his faults and mine taken into consideration. Assuming I have his best interests at heart and my own and those of any third party what is ‘right ‘ action. Do I have available time and energy to pursue this. Are there other considerations of any sort.

          As a pisces (and perhaps all other signs?) it is possible to get a definite no feeling quite quickly and hopefully have moved away before you are even noticed, a yes is more tentative and fragile and ongoing, occasionally I have met someone that I knew was ‘destiny’ that I would either measure up or not to pivotal stuff ie basic honesty and awareness stuff or letting go, and often it is more murky.

          And also the few times I’ve been ideal weight and young and good in my skin, the attention from men is unrelenting and too much. I don’t know how women who are beautiful to men deal with unrelenting sexual interest directed at them.

          How about sublimating sex ie using this energy to fire ceative projects

          1. pam

            sublimation – not all the time but as another option – do men feel a pressure (biological) to have sex, if the subject is less urgent ie can be channelled in other ways women feel less pressured and more able to say no if that is there honest preferenc/reply

    1. Shelley StearnsShelley Stearns

      Those imposed gender roles that most of us perpetuate in some way or another have a lot to do with the experience of men and women in these kinds of interactions. If women felt empowered to respond to the, I’m sexually attracted to you, as just another statement that someone can make…

      I was somehow taught there was a power dynamic here and women can’t be assertive in this way by either reciprocating interest or not. Like we have to be socially pleasant.

      Personally, I like hearing these words because I feel I get so much of not hearing them that I end up thinking men only want me for my brain. And I like hearing them from men I am not attracted to.

      Also, a thought, there are ways to say , I am sexually attracted to you that attempt to give power to the recipient of your words and ways that attempt to take it away.

    2. Shelley StearnsShelley Stearns

      And I wonder, too, I am sexually attracted to you, is just a statement. It doesn’t say anything about actual intent to manifest in the moment or later. I mean, depending on the circumstances.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

      Cowboy — Sarah was not feeling well yesterday or today; I did not post a note as to whether it might be posted a day or two late because I did not want to over-promise in case we simply have to skip this week rather than cram it in. :) Don’t worry! She’ll be back; if not tomorrow, then on Sunday.

  14. DanielHugging Scorpio

    It is interesting Eric. When I was responding to women’s profiles (online dating), I ran into a lot of judgement material. I’m not certain this is what you’re referring to but I’ll share a thought or two and see if it follows suit.

    I realized that women are attracted to men for 100 different reasons and none of them are any of my business. Of course the cliche comes up: Just be yourself. But seriously wtf does that mean if I’ve got some things to fix in my appearance, social skills, written skills and overall self image. Being myself could very well be completely wrong. Or better: wrong timing.

    Timing meant for me that I was a work in progress. I was getting to know myself via the relationships I was imagining having (and actually having). That meant imagining myself in a new way – a way that was both experimental and rooted in my core.

    And then I saw how I was being too selective. That perhaps I was getting in the way by attaching too much to an image of a woman I desired, leaving no room for being surprised.

    Then I noticed how I actually preferred struggle as a means to define my desires. That somehow it had to be hard. Or better, that I had to feel a little bit rejected in order to try and convince her what an awesome guy I was. That I was different from the rest of the asshole guys women constantly complained about.

    Then I wondered if women were defining themselves the same way! What a mind f**k! Here we are keeping ourselves from one another because of really cool fashion magazines or porn sites.

    I have no idea what the answers are. I know that the type I went for looked a lot like my mom when she was young. How she looked when she came out of the shower once when I was 7 and she didn’t see me. How I inherently wanted to protect her from my father. It’s all there. But my healthy vibrant sexuality can thrive without needing to perpetuate that memory and need. Certainly going down on a girl and thinking of my mom is kinda f**king awkward.

    Anyway, the whole needing to hear from women is a bit risky imo. Who cares. I’ve heard everything from, “I need a man not a boy, who takes care of me, who is a man’s man, etc.” to “Women just wanna be fucked.” to “Intelligence is so sexy.” It would leave a guy trying to be so many things, and in the end, it doesn’t even matter because she doesn’t even know herself why she is attracted to you. She just is – or isn’t. It’s none of your business.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

      ” It would leave a guy trying to be so many things, and in the end, it doesn’t even matter because she doesn’t even know herself why she is attracted to you. She just is – or isn’t. It’s none of your business.”

      And this applies equally in the other direction, too (female to male — or choose your gender combo). It’s amazing how easily we can slip into a gaping chasm of low self-esteem when our attraction is not returned, no matter who we are and what we look like, sound like, talk like, etc. But sometimes people click, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes we can improve our chances, sometimes (often) we just can’t. Sometimes we’re in the right place at the right time saying/doing the right thing, and sometimes we’re not.

      So important to realize it’s not all about us, and whether we’re “worthy” of the other person’s attraction. We are worthy, period — in being ourselves: worthy of existence, worthy of love (self-love, god’s love, the universe’s love). But that’s not the same as trying to obligate another person into validating our worthiness for us, or assuming that that’s how it works.

      We have no idea what’s going on for them, what they are perceiving, what’s shaping their desires… and neither do we need to, really. But I can understand how it can often feel like that’s a crucial piece of the puzzle we’re missing. Thanks for the reminder that it’s not, HS.

  15. P. SophiaP. Sophia

    Well Mike, your comments made me smile. Maybe I am reading it incorrectly, but i celebrate and appreciate your saying, “all it’s curvy glory”. Being a women of 5’4, only 118, but still have curves for days, and get turned on by a man appreciating and lusting after me. I do not view your feelings, or comments as shallow. Maybe it is just a primal lust! And what is wrong with feeling, expressing or desiring that? I dont feel descriminating in the least admiring and desiring men, “all the soft, and hard curvey bits”, its a primal attraction for me (especially when fueled by emotion, love) I feel alive in experiencing. I am human, I have strong sexual desires and needs. I do not feel ‘bad’ about expressing these. In fact its very liberating. This is how I feel anyway.

  16. P. SophiaP. Sophia

    As far as the astrology, Natal Chiron, Vesta and Saturn, which Nessis is currently conjunct at 4+ degrees, all in Pisces 5th/6th house degrees. It’s been an interesting, growth orientated retrograde where i feel i have matured. Yesterday was a surprise, ending with a communication breakthrough. A very liberating period, where I learned I have more patience, and acceptance in myself and others than I ever thought I did.

  17. Eric Francis Post author

    I think that part of what I am describing is that for many or even most people sex is not perceived as sane or a refuge or a place of celebrating existence and one another. What I am gradually inferring is that it’s dangerous or hostile territory for a great many people; something used for ulterior purposes by many; treated only with dishonesty by many; and better if avoided or omitted entirely for a wide swath of individuals who might never admit that.

    Currently sex positive values are in the hands of the queer movement. We have delegated the discussion of sexuality to those who have come out.

    I just discovered something new: LGBTIQA.

    The unpronounceable acronym has been expanded.

    LGBTIQA stands for:
    “L” – lesbians;
    “G” – gays;
    “B” – bisexuals;
    “T” – transgender people;
    “I” – intersex people;
    “Q” – queer and questioning people;
    “A” – asexual people and allies.

    So, what is missing from this list?

    The first thing missing is masturbators — self sexuals, or those who are self sexual along with something else. For many of them self sexuality is their primary orientation, and some even admit it. This is not acknowledged. We are now up to A, asexuality and allies (!) — but SEXUAL WITH SELF is left out.

    One definition adds:

    1) asexual orientation – attraction to neither sex;
    2) pansexual orientation – attraction to all the sexes (including attraction to transgender and intersex people);
    3) polysexual orientation – attraction to many sexes, but not to all.

    All these definitions involve someone, just about anyone and anyone at all. But not simply ‘oneself’. Isn’t that interesting?

    Everyone, all kinds of interesting stuff some of it requiring major surgery and reorganizing one’s endocrine system, all gets in the queer club, unless their orientation is self sexual.

    The other thing missing is heterosexual people. That’s another way of saying sisgendered. Have you ever had that word? Basically it means “non transsexual.” Yes there is a word for this. In practice however it means heteros; by one academic definition I’ve read sisgendered means ‘identifying with birth gender and sex assignment and never questioned it’. If one is queer, by definition one has questioned at least gender and probably their sex assignment.

    So what has been and is developing is a definition of sex that does not include sis and hetero. It’s as if we have this huge assortment of sexual orientations — LGBTQIA — that turns straight into nouveau queer, the sexual outcasts, the non-normal, in that special way of being blanked — linguistically omitted from existence. How does one list ALL of the sexual orientations and leave out men and women who fuck (etc.) the opposite sex, and people who have sex with themselves?

    This would not be an issue at all if I will reluctantly call straight people had any kind of a serious discussion going, collectively. (Masturbators have been more vocal — at least there is Masturbation Month. We need to also declare Hetero Sex Month.) Some effort to educate and inform one another and to cast aside shame — which btw is I think the spiritual essence of the queer movement — what they call PRIDE.

    Pride translates to SHAMELESS.

    Perhaps when straight people openly and publicly disavow sexual shame and claim what they want, they too will come out of the closet.

    1. Amy Elliott

      Wiki says:

      Cisgender has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis-, meaning “on this side of”, which is an antonym for the Latin-derived prefix trans-, meaning “across from” or “on the other side of”.

      Heterosexuality is not included in the acronym above because it is considered societally ‘normal’ and therefore does not require specially raised awareness, because those of heterosexual orientation do not face substantive disadvantages through prejudice. Cis or cisgender is similarly positioned. The word simply refers to people who identify with their birth gender.

      There definitely needs to be a lot less guilt and shame around masturbation; and I guess it’s not easy to be “out” in terms of self-sex, but then because most people apparently engage in this practice, it does not carry inherent societal disadvantage in the same way as LGBTIQA does.

      By the way, objectum sexuality is also left out, albeit this is only just beginning to be understood.

      1. Eric Francis Post author

        Obviously queer is normal, if there are 20 varieties. It’s a question of who sets the norms and defines the deviations. There is a process going on, of excluding heterosexuality and defining it as abnormal. It’s been going on since the 1980s. You would have to hang out within these movements to get the full sensation of You Are Not Like Us.

        And this is simply not true.

        1. Geoff Marsh

          No, Eric. If there are 20 varieties of queer, it means that queerdom is varied, not that it is normal.

          As a celibate gay man I feel excluded from your list, but it doesn’t bother me in exactly the same way that not having sex doesn’t bother me.

          What seems to be missing from this discussion is the idea that it is heterosexual people who breed homosexuals, and they appear to be very good at it.

          1. Eric Francis Post author

            Everyone agrees that queer is normal — that is, it occurs in nature, without prompting. The question is how often. Not sure if you listened to the program but I was clear about people who choose not to be sexual needing a place, and our really understanding and being real about what that is.

    2. DivaCarla Sanders

      When I was immersed in sexological bodywork training, I was exposed to my own queerness as a vanilla hetero woman. In that small group of 25 or so, I was likely the most vanilla in a room full of folks on the LGBTIQ spectrum… no A’s in the room. Add some Ps, as many were polyamorous. They mostly had more exploration in the Kink Universe, so I felt rather pale by comparison. Yet we were all becoming conscious M’s, as masturbation is an important part of how we learned and what we teach as sexbod pros. Through the 10 day immersion I had an embodied taste of what QUEER means, as I was distinct in my orientation in that room (without the societal disadvantage, Amy). I also had an embodied experience of love and acceptance, as you can’t be steeped in sexuality and connection with people without dropping the defenses and falling into love and acceptance. While windows were opened to things I have and may someday explore, I also gained some self-love and acceptance, and shameless pride. I know that one can be a connoisseur of the finest beans and all the ways to serve them up. Everything tastes better with vanilla.

      Yes, Eric. Straight people need to some out of the closet, as hetero is the world view that has made everything else queer, and all sex shameful. Come out!

  18. P. SophiaP. Sophia

    E says, “And if you’re attracted because you like someone’s mind then you’re lying. Etc Etc Etc.”

    I find this is actually one of the biggest turn ons for me in another. The mind. But then I have Natal Venus/Mars conjunct in Gemini 9th. Or would that be due to Natal Jupiter in Tauras, 8th?

    1. DivaCarla Sanders

      Natal Venus in Aquarius, intellect and ability to express is a super turn on, and has led me down paths where the sex was not always a good match up. I learned to tune into the the animal as well as intellectual turn ons and things got better. The animal never works for me without the intellect present and enjoyed. P. Sophia and Amy, we are women. Is it a different algorithm for men? Animal first and the intellect can make it hotter?

      1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

        Carla: “intellect and ability to express is a super turn on, and has led me down paths where the sex was not always a good match up.”

        Funny, this sounds a little like how I’ve come to understand having Aquarius on my 8th house. I’ve found that my intellectual curiosity in non-traditional or non-vanilla sexual expressions, and explorations of myself, has often not matched up with what truly works for me once I’m in the bedroom (or wherever) with a partner.

        Iin fact, I think it’s been a contributor to choosing some partners and activities that really did not work out ideally for me. There were other big factors in those situations, though (a couple of karmic lessons; a phase of not understanding the cause and solutions for a form of sexual dysfunction I had) — so I can’t pin it all on the Aquarius 8th. But I think that Aquarius placement, paired with some youthful perceptions of social expectations (internalized peer pressure that my actual peers/friends were not in any way perpetrating), were very challenging to figure out for many years.

        But for sure, I’ve learned that while my mind needs to be curious and intrigued, I have to listen to more non-intellectual cues if sex with a particular person is going to line up, work right and feel good (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and yes, intellectually). My fantasies, however, go all over the place.

        1. Eric Francis Post author

          With Aquarius 8th, check out the situation with your Saturn. That will at least in part describe how the 8th manifests for you. The more prominent is Saturn, the more prominent 8th house themes.

          Any Saturn involvement with relationship and sex houses presents a special challenge, as Saturn is not exactly Venus. But there is also a durability and longterm vision that you can grasp.

  19. Pisces SunPisces Sun

    Wow, leave for a day and miss what seems to be a week’s worth of conversation, what a lively group today! Eric, good topic, meaningful and probing into the psyche about such a life affirming experiencing and exploration that has been warped, manipulated, and sometimes damned by institutions of many sorts. If anything, your writing makes us examine our thoughts about sex first, and then move forward to challenging societies’ twisted perceptions. Thank you.
    As a women, I have felt comfortable with who I am in my body, perhaps it’s the Leo ascendent but admittedly, as I get older, I long for the body of my youth, but its for everything, including climbing the mountains and skiing down them as I once did. But I have children, I want them to be comfortable with knowing that the human body is beautiful, their body is beautiful and sharing their body is a beautiful activity, whether alone or in a respectful relationship. Fortunately, I had this same knowledge, it helped shape my thoughts, but I also was exposed to everything else written here and agree with you that we must take up the mantle.

  20. GwenGwen

    Eric, I love yhe photos you include with your posts and articles! Whether they are portraits or abstract, they invoke a dreamy , surreal quality that connects with me on a deep level.

    I feel like I have been in Mercury Retrograde mode since the one back in December…it’s been a very long period of re, re, re for me…looking forward to breathing again!

  21. Eric Francis Post author

    People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.

    Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.

  22. LizzyLizzy

    I can understand the writer’s frustration, but I think she’s pretty humourless, and I don’t think that there can be anything more agonizing than growing up with the feeling that you’re in the wrong body – even more so if you’re the school star, as Jenner was – don’t think the writer has begun to imagine to what it must be like.

  23. Amy Elliott

    No, and the article unfortunately smacks of transphobia, in the sense that it does not accept that Caitlyn is, in point of fact, a woman. This is an interesting theme among some feminist writers – they are proud of resisting gender norms, but don’t carry through their own logic when dealing with male to female transitions.

    True, Caitlyn Jenner does not define womanhood for all women; and her example is far from what many trans women will experience, thanks to her wealth and status. But she is still a woman.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

      Funny (having not had a chance to read the NYT piece), my first impulse is to say that I think both perspectives may be equally valid; that we’re working with one of those situations where the truths of both people / groups of people are true (thanks, Mercury Rx in Gemini!). The question might not be so much “which one of these is most right?” so much as, “How do we reconcile these two truths?”

      How do we validate the needs, experiences, and perspectives of both, without automatically pitting the two “sides” against each other (or, indeed, insisting on thinking of them as “sides”?) yet without lumping everyone together, thereby obliterating the differences in perspective?

      I add that last bit because, to say to a woman who was born with female genitalia that whatever challenges, oppression, trauma, health difficulties, sexuality, etc, she has experienced somehow do not matter is a form of oppression.

      Just as much as saying to a trans person that the challenges, oppression, trauma, health difficulties, sexuality, etc, she or he has experienced somehow do not “count” is also a form of oppression.

      Somewhere along the way to claiming our voice, our autonomy, our individual identity, it can be really easy to forget our humanity, and everything we truly do share with all people. If we share some experience of suffering, trauma, feeling outcast/subordinated, or the struggle to be able to define ourselves rather than be defined by others, how great would it be if we could embrace and empathize with what is shared — rather than take up arms against what might *feel* like another layer of oppression.

      This shit is hard. And depending on where we are in our own healing process, and how severe our trauma, and how safe we feel, it may be damn impossible. At least for right now. Which is sad, but: I guess it’s all part of the larger collective process?

      1. DivaCarla Sanders

        I haven’t had time to read this article either, but women’s circles I am part of are talking about it. Given that each woman on the planet has a unique experience, we can welcome transwomen as other variation on unique female experience. And bottom line, this shit is hard, and will be for a while. It needs to be I think. Let’s be with the hardness and the shittiness, and not try to make it go away!

  24. Eric Francis Post author

    What she is pointing out is that the trans discussion is dominating many other discussions. I have been saying this in different ways for a while. Currently it’s the only discussion about sex, besides rape, that has any social currency.

    Also worth mentioning that the trans movement and the women’s movement as we know them represent the politicization of sex, sexuality and sensuality, which takes us to the opposite end of the spectrum as pleasure and affection and sharing. Politics is about power, which is generally a taking. Sensuality and sexuality are about giving, sharing, receiving. The power aspect must be set aside.

  25. CarrieCarrie

    “Openly admitting sexual attraction has nothing to do with sexual violence. So we can cross that off the list of things to worry about.”

    Not so fast. For women, admitting sexual attraction carries with it a number of implications in men’s minds. One; admission often means the male in question will think that means the female will actually have sex with him and his (too often) sense of entitlement sets in. If she then says she won’t act on it, a lot of men become actively aggressive and even threaten violence. Also, for females, admission of sexual attraction always carries with it the risk of being labelled a “slut or whore.”

    For men, any female admitting to him her sexual attraction means he may feel entitlement, performance anxiety, anger, or attraction (or any other emotions I missed). Should he keep being assertive or will she see that as threatening? There’s so much loaded into any sexual issues between the genders.

    It sucks to be either gender these days. It sucks to be gender queer or trans, too.

  26. CarrieCarrie

    “Further, I have responded to many women’s personal ads with thoughtful replies and have never once received an acknowledgement of the letter.”

    Some of that may be because too many women have begun talking with guys that seem to be “nice” guys in the beginning only to uncover a hidden (often even to the guy) sense of entitlement. I can’t remember how many times I dated “nice guys” only to hear them get pissed if, after listening and dating me several times (many of which I also paid for) I said I didn’t feel desire for them.

    I would also say that the same disconnect men have about the women they think they should desire and the ones they actually do desire happens to women as well. I noticed this in myself back when I was dating; the men I thought I desired were not the men I ended up falling in love with. This disconnect meant I would often not feel sexual desire for the men I later fell in love with because they didn’t match the men I thought I was supposed to fall in love with. The more masculine and socially acceptable their looks and actions were (more “hunk” type), the more attracted I was. Yet, it was the men who were less ruggedly masculine or not the socially acceptable hunks, that I ended up having real feelings for and THEN feeling sexual desire for.

    So hard for everyone to get around all that social programming about sex and desire and relationships. Most people never realize it in themselves, much less in others.

    1. pam

      ?Is it also linked to what value men place on women – as themselves – because if anyone writes a nice letter and it is actually a set up however carefully worded, to get sex at the end of it, this is different from actually setting up a meeting where reciprocity is possible. And reciprocity is reciprocity not another word for sex. And value is not just creaturely exchanges (which can also be warmth, and sentiment and space and shared experience and …. and not just sex) but seeing where each person is at and going with that, and this isn’t sex either – tho sex my or may not be there too depending on what the dynamic between you is.

      Eric, I don’t know if you feel women are to be picked over like a box of sweets, but some men seem to do this, or place men in a higher category where the function of women is to provide sex or meals or to be decorative or available or whatever it is, and this is ‘undervaluing’ imo.

      I’m not sure women want to be pleased, we like to know where we are, and if a man says he finds you sexually attractive it may be anything from a compliment to ‘spread your legs Sheila’, (and anything in between those two extremes).

      Do women love the tensions and flows of a relationship, being ‘in’ it rather than just looking for sex. The dance in the meeting, the intimacy in that – so if you say ‘I find you sexually attractive let’s fuck’, that might be too bare bones, but equally if your dance is just a set up as the quickest longest route to get to the ‘fuck’ that won’t answer either.

      Do you feel the dance, is the distance live. Do you like women, is she real to you (because if she is there is not always going to be another her in infinite numbers to say ‘next’ to, in fact you might find you spend a lifetime in wonderment and interest beside just one woman: if she is real to you).

      So I’d guess that is the answer to your query Eric about sex: what makes an individual woman real (‘live’) to you and not just a fellow critter to share a fuck with and move on to the next encounter. My guess is the women you are meeting are interested to encounter you but not as an encounter (ie a man’s way of dealing with his sexual drive?) but as a person in her own right. There are other factors in play other than just getting laid?

      Do you value yourself likewise?


          1. pam

            who am I, who do you find that I am.

            Perhaps I don’t know who you are Eric, and I apologise – I meant a milder comment than how I have obviously come across.

            It is quite possible I am mistaken – I was thrilled to see Orius with Pallas, perhaps I don’t write that sort of stuff in well; Equally I meant to qualify the answer to an answer, and then actually response or perhaps reply is better

            Obviously it is I who lacks finesse/dance (even in elementary conversation)


  27. DanielHugging Scorpio

    Two nights ago, I had a dream I was having anal sex with a guy. I have never had that before in dream or normal life. I would describe it as purely physical experience. It wasn’t really out of curiosity or lust after a man “feeling”.

    It was akin to male bonding on a very deep level. Like a man hug that went a bit farther. I’m a heterosexual man, but I liked having my sexuality move into this unknown area as an expressive aspect of my sexuality.

    I wouldn’t do this in normal life because I’m not attracted to men sexually, although I appreciate a good looking guy. But I wonder if the dreamtime experience was me having sex with myself as another guy? Another aspect of the dream was that we were not totally “into” each other. When I’m having sex with my girlfriend, it’s much more involved physically and energetically.

    Anyway, I wanted to share that!!! ;)

  28. LizzyLizzy

    Hugging – interesting dream. Yes, maybe it’s about really getting close to your own sexuality, and/or healing issues passed onto you by your father?

  29. MarthaMartha

    Wow! Such an interesting discussion, really glad I came back to read all the comments!

    Obviously Caitlyn Jenner hasn’t had all the experiences growing up female that shape a woman’s identity as an adult. Does that disqualify her from being a “real” woman? Not in my mind, but I can see where the issue is troublesome.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on how Rachel Dolezal might fit into this topic? She has recently been outed as transracial. Her parents are both Caucasian. They adopted 4 African-American children when Rachel was young. Rachel is now the head of the Spokane, WA branch of the NAACP, and also teaches Africana Education classes at Eastern Washington University. She has presented herself as African-American, darkens her skin and kinks her hair. Not exactly the same as Caitlyn Jenner but a case could be made about similarities between transracialism and transgenderism.

    I thought it was so interesting that Rachel’s story has come to light now, but don’t know enough astrology (yet! – thanks for the great classes, Eric!) to mention the relevant events.

    1. pam

      Martha, is reincarnation relevant? ie you reincarnate in the west diving to the freedom/’safety (Tibetan buddhists) or sole other aspect of a lifestyle. Are some gay men reincarnated monks who didn’t know something crucial about sex/masculinity somehow and in that case are transgender transrace individuals similar.

      Meaning no offence – it is only that in quite a few gay men’s regard I am struck by a Tibetan buddhist slant somehow which caused me to wonder. I also know several (white) women who are intrinsically ‘African’ in their gestures and character, often married to black guys or playing african music on african instruments, which has also made me wonder about reincarnation – of course it could just be nurture over nature?

      But not always?

      1. pam

        Perhaps necessary to qualify by adding that I have noticed my own ‘consequential’ ignorance/errors – sometimes necessitating that I backtrack/requalify which sometimes has led me to wonder if others make similar ‘existential’ mistakes…

        1. pam

          a simple example of an ‘existential’ mistake is one I made when I was 20 ish. I was so frustrated with a situation I said – OK if i can’t run or walk but must only crawl I’m not going to do anything.

          ie in effect I stopped myself doing anything. it is the classic I walked down the street and fell in a hole it wasn’t my fault and it took me a long time to get out etc. But it took me years to work back to that ‘decision’ and undo it. Something you don’t know can have the same effect and then you have to really hunt around to clarify it. ie why and what is stopped

          But. Unstopping a stop. It is the same whether an ego expression as mine was or from not knowing how to be – a willingness to let go of preconsceptions. And move into that space in whatever way it takes and you are able. Crawling along if necessary without complaint freed up everything again. i have never forgotten it

          I’ve put this here because of the comment I wrote before but also because of the aspects with M87 and this article I stumbled across which has a couple of lovely sentences (I’d exchange ‘destroy’ for dissolve as though it never was)

          1. pam

            And so true too that it is sometimes possible to do legwork for someone else that you cannot or will not do for yourself and in the process you find you have freed yourself too

          2. pam

            Or just as simple as changing your mind. Or even accepting that the most open I can be is to experiencing how I might be mistaken – if Life can show me that. That I would be open to that…

  30. DaveDavina

    Personally, I’m not sure how Rachel Dolezal fits in here. Some of the media I’ve seen – at this point I have to admit that I’m in the UK so I’m not exposed to a vst amount of US stuff – has been using it as a stick to beat Caitlyn Jenner with. Roughly along the lines of, ‘Look, she’s pretending to be Black – a bit like you as you’re pretending to be a woman.’ A simplistic reading I’m sure – race is one thing and gender is very much another but some of the comparisons certainly smack of Transphobia in my book. Not that I’m suggesting that you’re treating it that way, Marsha.

    I should also point out here that I was born male but, as my name suggests, I consider myself Trans these days. I’ve been reading this discussion with much interest and I’m sure I’ll have something more to add later on once I’ve digested it a bit more.

  31. pam

    There is also a question of maturation and time as well as timing. A pregnancy takes 9 months, what are you growing in your encounters and what time does this take to manifest (alot of relationship stuff takes weeks or months or years of effort – if you start at the top the only way is down? What would make a relationship sustainable and self perpetuating?)

    Or, how about not having an agenda – just go into the meeting without expectation or definition and see what turns up, it might be sex but it might also be some missing element, a different ‘take’ on something, something you get to contribute, a clarification, art, refining something you know, teaching it, even just being helpful. many many relationships aren’t sexual, just because something different is called for?

    Also Eric what are men looking for in a (sexual) meeting, what are you men offering to a woman you find attractive that she is going to drop everything for you.

    Starting out you (women/anyone) have no experience but with time you have some discernment and or you have responsibilities which are sometimes non negotiable and not just because you are hidebound or trapped but worth working at/finishing, or you know that this is not worth even starting, this you don’t feel, this is not your call, this is not authentic in some way etc etc

  32. MarthaMartha

    Hey Davina, I really appreciated your comments, thank you!

    To clarify my own position, I support everyone’s right to self-identify. I would never presume to assert that I know better than someone else how that person should identify herself or himself. This includes the right to change how they look on the outside so it matches who they are on the inside, if that is what they want to do.

    I’ve taken heat from people, even close friends, who insist my perspective isn’t discerning enough, that it dilutes the identity of the group to allow any old self-proclaimed member to join the club. I understand their concerns but don’t feel the existential threat the way they seem to. Maybe I’m naïve in that sense.


  33. MarthaMartha

    Wrote the above and then read this, which also informs the discussion:

    From the NY Times:

    “But Dolezal’s exposure also comes at a time when racial categories have never seemed more salient. The same social media that is shaming Dolezal has also aggregated the distressingly numerous killings of African-Americans by the police into a singular statement on racism and inequality. In this moment, when blackness means something very specific — asserting that black lives matter — it follows for many people that categorical clarity has to matter, too.”

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