Tag Archives: Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo

Yesterday and Today

Dear Friend and Reader:

When The Beatles landed at the newly named John F. Kennedy Airport on Feb. 7, 1964, it was just 78 days after one of the most profound collective griefs in decades, one that unlike many before it was amplified by the power of television. The young president had been struck down in broad daylight in an American city, sending the Western world into shock.

Planet Waves
The Beatles, moments after stepping off their Pan Am flight on Feb. 7, 1964. Photo: Library of Congress.

The Beatles did not merely arrive; they stepped into a gaping void, a psychic and emotional cavern that had been violently ripped open like the president’s skull. With JFK’s death, the nation had lost it’s father and was still reeling with disorientation. Even people who detested him cried. The loss is palpable till this day.

The death of the president also meant there was a vacuum of male presence and leadership. Then a group of young men in their early 20s had unwittingly stepped up to the task, though I am sure this was not recognized for what it was at the time.

We cannot say what would have happened with The Beatles had JFK lived, whether they would have had the same impact or been received so passionately. We only know what actually happened.

When you consider the morbid scenes from that prior November, the presidential motorcade passing through Dealey Plaza, the unshakable Walter Cronkite crying on the air, Jackie Kennedy with her dress stained in her dead husband’s blood, Lyndon Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force 1, the ambulance taking the president’s body to the morgue, the funeral procession with its riderless horse — it seems like a different universe from the screaming girls and clever lads taking questions from the press.

People huddled around their televisions watching Kennedy’s casket go by morphed into families clinging to their TVs as screaming teenagers stampeded through airport corridors and Ed Sullivan introduced The Beatles that Sunday night.

Planet Waves
John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Indeed it was a different universe. Sometime during those 78 days, the Sixties had begun. That contrast of a collective wound and something to fill the void, or some element of healing, set a pattern and would repeat many times in this era.

Though the Sixties aspect, the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, would not make its first exact contact until October 1965, encounters between these two slow-moving, world-changing planets have a long warmup during which the most notable effects can be felt in advance.

If you want to understand the influence of this aspect, consider that The Beatles went from “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to “I Am the Walrus” in a few short years.

The Sixties were a rough time in history. For many, it was an exciting time; for many others, painfully controversial, as many facets of the old order were stripped away and something else began to take their place. Many more people struggled to hold onto the familiar as everything seemed to change around them — not recognizing that the changes were within them as well.

The nascent Civil Rights movement, which had begun to make progress in the Fifties, had some successes and also came under ongoing violent attack, surveillance and infiltration.

At the same time, there were numerous artistic and technological breakthroughs, and many horrid political tragedies. It’s difficult to sum up an era that included the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, the election of Richard Nixon, Woodstock, the Moon landing, protests on campuses across the nation and students murdered at Kent State.

From the Conjunction to the Square

Fifty years after The Beatles arrived, we are now at the next major meeting of Uranus and Pluto — the square. These two planets move so slowly that it’s taken them nearly half a century to go from their conjunction, the equivalent of the New Moon phase, to the square, the equivalent of their first quarter phase.

Planet Waves
The Beatles with Ed Sullivan during a rehearsal for their Feb. 9 performance on the program in New York City. Photo by AP.

The first quarter is a major turning point in any planetary cycle, and also a time of structural change. It’s a time of re-evaluating events since the beginning of the cycle, though usually history moves so fast at the time of Uranus-Pluto events that you can have the feeling that there’s no time to think. What the Sixties and our era have in common is how easy it is to feel overwhelmed.

The square can have many properties similar to the conjunction, though of course it happens in a different historical context. The square also lasts longer. The conjunction had three exact contacts in 1965 and 1966. The square has seven exact contacts from spring 2012 through winter 2015. Both have a wide margin on either side.

We saw the early influence of the square with the Arab Spring movement, the public union protests in Wisconsin and then the global Occupy movement, all of which began and peaked in 2011. Those protests were suppressed by governments pretty effectively, and also by various chilling effect measures like discovering that the NSA is databasing everyone’s phone records, email and other communications.

Laws that define participation in the environmental movement as a form of terrorism are going to deter some people. So will mass arrests, pepper spray and the prospect of lifelong surveillance. It all adds up.

Though there are some similarities, I think there is one significant difference between the Sixties and today. In the Sixties, many people believed that change was possible, and moreover, that their personal actions could lead to progress — not merely to personal or corporate profit. There was widespread idealism in the air, despite the many terrible events that took place.

There was the sense that anything is possible. The craving for freedom first described in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road had become a sweeping social movement.

Planet Waves
Recycling is not enough. All plastic ends up in the ocean, in one form or another. Much of it collects in gyres, or places where currents converge and the material cannot escape.

There was the feeling that if we don’t do something about this — that is, about whatever problem society is facing — nobody will. That value may not have saturated the culture, but there were plenty of people who felt that way, and they got a lot done. Out of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction era were born many movements that are still active today — anti-war, environmental, women’s liberation, gay rights, black power and others.

Today, cynicism has replaced idealism. The sensation that ‘we’re goin’ down’ has replaced ‘we can change the world’. I am aware that there are activists in our time working earnestly for change. What I object to is how little help they have, and how easy it is to dismiss their efforts as futile.

That so many people are overwhelmed is, I believe, the result of many factors. We know more than we did then — for example, about how serious the environmental situation is. What can anyone do, or think they can do, about a radioactive plume spilling out of a nuclear power plant in Japan, encompassing the north Pacific Ocean and spreading into all of its currents? What can we do about the tons and tons of plastic collecting in ocean gyres? Imagine trying to live without using plastic, no matter how much you want to.

What can we do about the rate at which fossil fuels are being extracted from the ground and injected into the atmosphere, trapping heat on the planet? What about all the methane being released from frozen reservoirs as the Arctic ice cap melts, doing far more damage than carbon?

How about politicians wasting time and resources trying to ban birth control and take away food stamps when the world is headed for a diversity of different brinks?

Every individual problem is overwhelming on its own, with 100 more like it right behind: GMO foods, the banks that get away with anything, billionaires by the million, chaos reigning in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria and many, many other countries, an economy that is vacuuming wealth to the top faster than the Fed can print cash, people in massive debt from educations that are now worthless for getting a job, the cancer pandemic…and it goes on and on.

It’s amazing that anyone has the gumption to be able to confront the future at all, much less envision some great improvement that might happen. Many people are reduced to getting through the day. Many are reduced to doing whatever it takes to get by.

Planet Waves
Actual scene from Chrysler ad on the Super Bowl featuring Bob Dylan, in which he claims that people in sweatshops assemble cell phones out of cultural pride. We’ve come a long way since his calling attention to the plight of workers collecting 30 cents a day.

In this environment, you could describe cynicism as the more appropriate response than idealism, or hope, or faith. It’s hard to have faith when greed has gone from being a problem that some people had to the religion of the masses.

At the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, Bob Dylan came up to The Beatles’ hotel suite and encouraged them to do something relevant with their platform; to recognize that they could deliver a message.

They listened. Dylan may have been the single biggest moral and artistic influence on The Beatles.

It was Dylan, the visionary, who warned of “guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children” before anyone outside of Rand Corporation, the White House or the Foreign Relations Committee had heard of the Vietnam War.

Now at the Uranus-Pluto square, we have Bob Dylan doing a Chrysler advertisement on the Super Bowl. No doubt he rationalizes it on the basis of American pride, the theme of the ad. Would that be the same patriotism that was drummed up to start the past 10 wars?

This one-time passionate advocate for blacks and the poor, who has decried slave labor in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan working for 30 cents a day, personally encouraged tens of millions of Americans watching the ad to “let Asia assemble your phone” — because they do it out of pride in their work.

Ask people why Dylan did the ad and they will probably say “he needed the money,” as if that’s a good reason for someone who has put out 35 studio albums and a heap of boxed sets. He can only top this one by going onto FOX News and encouraging us all to support the bombing of Iran.

The Common Ground of Pisces

Besides top-shelf Uranus-Pluto aspects, the astrology of our era has something else in common with the Sixties, which is Chiron in Pisces. This placement is a profound spiritual longing, which has many potential answers.

It is interesting that throughout the entire Uranus conjunct Pluto era of the Sixties and the current Uranus square Pluto era, Chiron is simultaneously in Pisces. The astronomical synchronicity involves Chiron’s 50-year cycle and the nearly 50 years it’s taken Uranus and Pluto to go from conjunction to square (0 degree relationship to 90-degree relationship).

Planet Waves
The Tsonga people of South Africa. All, as in all, humans are tribal. We need one another. When that need is replaced by alienation, the human condition becomes toxic. Photo from Kwekudee Blog.

Pisces, particularly with such a strong influence as Chiron, can be activated as a vast common ground, where people can discover how much they have in common, how much they can share and how much they can accomplish together.

I consider Chiron in Pisces The Beatles factor of the Sixties — the loving and spiritual element without which there would have been very little grounding or sense of purpose. It was not just The Beatles, but they personified it effectively, in a way that millions of people could relate to.

This can be expressed as well as related to or identified with — for example as art, music, community, intimacy and sex — among a million other friendly activities.

Yet Chiron in Pisces can also evoke a mystical longing that can be answered in toxic ways as well. The mystical longing is usually evoked by suppressing healthy expressions of emotion, passion, desire and creativity. People need to be people, which means we need to be together, feel together, do tribal things together and have collective experiences. When that natural instinct is suppressed, it expresses itself in many toxic ways.

One of them is rallying around the flag — a poisonous abstraction of the tribe. Another is worshipping a charismatic leader, which Dr. Wilhelm Reich identified as one of the key ingredients of a fascist takeover. Get people so desperate for sex and closeness, they will flock to a dangerous substitute, one that can destroy a society or a culture.

In our era, we are seeing the corporate form of this. It seems that every last thing is sponsored by a multinational or “nonprofit” corporation. Capitalism and greed are revered with religious fervor, and violating them can get someone branded a heretic or infidel. This common ground is becoming so crowded by corporate culture, I am surprised there aren’t Nike ads in yoga studios.

Planet Waves
Spasija Aleksoska’s extended family was taken in Trebenista, near Ohrid (in Macedonia), during Easter celebrations in 1959. The extended family was alive and well in the United States until the end of World War II. After the nuclear bomb, the nuclear family.

Oh wait — there already are, on yoga mats, garments and bags. Next we will have advertisements telepathically broadcast into meditation.

What corporate authority can interfere with but not completely suppress is the authentic inner spiritual and creative calling. No matter how much the Merlins of advertising and branding and finance may strive to do so, they cannot entirely vanquish your humanity. That’s why they have to spend so much money trying to do so.

They can come close. You can be anesthetized into thinking you’re not who you are, for a while. You can be lured away from your humanity, conditioned what to think, distracted from your soul or consume alcohol and fast food until you’re semi-blotto — but you’re still human, because you possess the Inner Light, the inner connection to the same intelligence that orchestrates your DNA. You are, even if you forget. So you may as well remember.

Yes, remembering your humanity can be painful in such dehumanized times. One of the paradoxes of awakening is the encounter with how many other beings are struggling. As you improve your life, you have to figure out what to do with any potential guilt that you have it good and others do not.

If you pay attention, you will find some people who have their ideals intact. Be kind to them and keep them in your life. There is very little you can accomplish alone, though you are personally the starting point for everything that happens to you. You are the one thing that all your relations have in common.

Remember that, as the world seems to grow darker than we ever dreamed it could.



Planet Waves

Belief meets destiny on the set of the Ed Sullivan Show, Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964.

Five Astrologers and an Entertainment Lawyer Comment on The Beatles

Sara Victoria

Belief met destiny on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, and the chart Eric cast for that performance makes the karmic scale of The Beatles’ relationship with the United States strikingly clear.

When the show began, the Moon in Capricorn was conjunct the South Node in the 4th house. This represents a deep, emotional, soul-level ambition that is fostered by discipline and karmic in nature — part of the destiny path of the event. Its placement in the 4th house indicates that this ambition has not yet reached fruition; it is still within, underground, unseen. The South and North Nodes are calculated points that describe ‘evolutionary intention’; the South Node evolves into what is represented by the North Node.

Planet Waves
The Beatles appear on the The Ed Sullivan Show. The Capricorn Moon on the South Node suggests that something is not just happening — it’s happening again. Are The Beatles a reincarnation phenomenon? If so, I would nominated Gilbert & Sullivan as their last go-around.

The ‘karmic destiny’ of The Beatles’ performance that night is written in the symbolism of the North Node in Cancer, in the 10th house of public profile. The evolutionary purpose of the event was for their emotionally charged ambition to spring forth from its hidden root and flower upon a world stage.

The staggering impact of the Ed Sullivan performance on The Beatles’ destiny path is seen in the conjunction of the North Node with the natal Sun of the United States. The U.S. and The Beatles were introduced by a cosmic matchmaker that night. The achievement of their karmic intent was inextricably joined with the collective identity of the United States. An astrologer could not have planned a more auspicious time for their American debut.

Dale O’Brien

Fifty years corresponds approximately to when Chiron returns to the exact place it was that many years ago. Since mythological Chiron was the wisest of all beings, god or human, the Chiron return is an opportunity to begin to live a wiser life based on one’s life experience.

Chiron is now in Pisces, as it was starting within hours of JFK’s presidential inauguration. Aug. 16, 1962 was the beginning of The Beatles as John, Paul, George and Ringo. Chiron in Pisces was exactly conjunct Jupiter in Pisces, with both trine Neptune in Scorpio. Chiron and Jupiter were also both opposed to Pluto and Mercury.

The Beatles were even more than just a huge financial success (Jupiter-Pluto). They were even more than a profoundly popular musical group with a sense of fun and humor (Jupiter-Neptune). Despite their youth, they were looked to as wisdom figures, and retained their popularity and credibility even when pursuing the wisdom (and to some extent the music) of India.

Planet Waves
The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The official stated time of touchdown is 1:20 pm, which gives you the very, very, very end of Gemini rising. Add just two seconds to the time (less time than the plane rolling down a little bit of runway) and you come up with the Aries Point in hearts and spades — 00 Cancer 00 rising — and that tells the story, of the impact of the event, of its lasting influence and how many people the event reached. It’s called the ‘Aries Point’ because the first degree of Cancer is square the first degree of Aries; Libra and Capricorn work too because they are opposite and square the Aries Point.

As we celebrate The Beatles now, Chiron in Pisces tells us to remember, in part, that we are all one; that music enchants and heals.

Debbie Keil-Leavitt

The Beatles’ arrival in New York on the afternoon of Feb. 7, 1964, was a profound moment in the healing of a reeling nation.  It was no cosmic mistake that The Beatles were first interviewed for American television on Nov. 22, 1963, only to have the broadcast delayed by the assassination of President Kennedy that same day.

Joy, pride and youth had all been lost to that murder, exposing America’s shadow, and the nation was in desperate need of a change of mood. The chart of The Beatles’ arrival has the important characteristic of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction on the 4th house cusp (angular; therefore, potent). This signature of the birth of worldwide transformation was in full force in the 1960s. The chart indicates a pivotal moment with Uranus-Pluto opposing the Teacher/Healer Chiron. The universe was handing us guidance to create a new cultural reality.

Chrissie Blaze

One may not immediately think of hard-hitting, rebellious John Lennon as a typical Libra because it is known that one major characteristic of this Sun sign is a desire for acceptance and to ‘fit in’. Those of us who knew and loved John in the 1960s and 1970s would find it hard to believe this was true of him. However, what we see about a person is not always what they feel inside. In John’s own bitingly honest words:

 “I always was a rebel…but on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted…and not just be a loudmouth, lunatic, poet, musician.”

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Venus-ruled Libra is indecisive and concerned only with love, romance and relationships. Once this intelligent, passionate Sun sign does espouse a cause worthy of their time and energy few can surpass their noble efforts to literally change the world.

T. C. Gardstein

The songwriting team of Lennon-McCartney was a formidable force. John Lennon’s Sun was in Libra, Paul’s in Gemini; the trine between the two musicians’ Suns manifested in mutual inspiration and what Beatles producer George Martin deemed “a healthy competition.” John and Paul rarely wrote songs together — but they often wrote in each other’s presence, sought out each other’s feedback, and helped each other with lyrics.

Planet Waves
The chart of a true and whole-hearted pervert! John Lennon has Chiron, Transpluto, Pluto, Vesta and Juno in the 5th house of flirty, risky sex — but Juno’s presence means he likes to do it with his wife, unless of course someone interesting comes along.

The finest Lennon-McCartney composition, “A Day in the Life,” was the result of two separate, unfinished songs grafted together into pure genius. This song also perfectly symbolizes the opposition between their Moons: John, the explosive “teddy boy” and drug-oriented, intellectual iconoclast, had an Aquarius Moon; Paul, the magnanimous, regal, pop-oriented showman, had a Leo Moon. This lunar opposition magnetized John and Paul to each other from the day they met and formed the duo’s backbone.

George Harrison was in his own private corner, as one might expect from a Pisces Sun and Scorpio Moon.

In 1965, during the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, George first came across the sitar. Through his subsequent study of this difficult instrument and Eastern philosophy, George was responsible for bringing the East to the attention of the “new world” (hip Sixties Western culture). He continued to support the Maharishi even after his band mates became disenchanted with the yogi. Apropos of his Scorpio Moon, George was also the first Beatle to explicitly reference sex in a song: on Revolver‘s “Love You To” (1966). Yet George’s water-sign vision, which ranged from sarcastic (“Taxman”; “Piggies”) to mystical to just plain beautiful(“Something”), was overshadowed by the Lennon-McCartney duo.

Michael B. Ackerman, entertainment and IP attorney

As for The Beatles’ impact on music, I think you know my answer: it’s like Jesus, there’s before The Beatles and after The Beatles; and after The Beatles everything changed.

Seriously, The Beatles arrival is probably the biggest pop culture impact event in the 20th century. Only Elvis’ arrival comes close and even then it’s not as multilayered. Someone once explained Elvis’ importance to me and I’ve never forgotten it: “Before Elvis boys grew up wanting to be their father, Elvis presented an alternative.” So on that level Elvis’ arrival is very culturally significant, also, Elvis added value to hillbilly status. Elvis was neutered pretty quickly by his induction into the Army. Then he did the movies, which made him meaningless in a pop culture context. The 1968 comeback special was good and a stunning return to form but he was never again the cultural force he was from 1956-1958.

Planet Waves
The chart of the mystic artist — another 5th house chart, this time with Pisces Sun there. If there is a chart about art for art’s sake, or communicating because that’s what you feel, this is the one.

But The Beatles brought long hair, Brits, upward class mobility for England and others (and the disarming of the slagging of the lower class and lower class accents), mass hysteria as a cultural phenomenon, complete dominance of pop music for a time, and major dominance thereafter (every new Beatles record or TV appearance was an event, which always drew ratings and piqued curiosity). Furthermore, a band who wrote their own songs? Elvis put his name on those songs but he didn’t write them.

Not to mention the other stuff — the introspective songs, the psychedelic stuff, the drugs, the fashions, the controversial remarks, or the pioneering approach to making music in the studio. Heck, even their films are quite good (notably A Hard Day’s Night), and I’d say the films and The Beatles flippant style in press conferences were a big influence on later comedy.

I say this not just as a fan, but The Beatles are the Big Bang of the 20th Century. The only other event that comes close is the Moon landing, which had ripple effects in terms of technology (Velcro, satellite communication which enabled cell phones, microwave technology which gave us the microwave oven, and many other developments came directly from the Moon missions).

Think about this: in the 50 years since The Beatles have come along, and with the rise in the standard of living and with the vast expansion of television as a phenomenon (most households at the time of The Beatles’ debut had one television, if they had a television at all), there are very few television shows that had more viewers than The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, and you know all of them: the finale of MASH, the finale of Seinfeld, the OJ ‘chase’, the finale of Cheers, the finale of The Fugitive, the finale of Dallas.

Seriously a half dozen shows (and I do consider the OJ chase a show — it wasn’t a chase, it was a parade) have topped or equaled the Beatles’ ratings on Ed Sullivan in 50 years despite the proliferation of the television set. As more television sets entered homes, viewing habits segmented and those communal events were fewer and further between. Some would say that’s the reason there aren’t more. I’d be one of them.

— Section editor: Elizabeth Michaud

Section Writing and Editing Credits: News items below are written and edited by a team consisting of Hillary Conary, Anne Craig, Eric Francis, Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Painter, Susan Starr, Chad Woodward and Carol van Strum. Coordinating Editor: Elizabeth Michaud. Page assembled and coded by Anatoly Ryzhenko. Special thanks to the Fact Checkers List, which goes over each edition on Thursday night — and to our main astrology fact-checker Alex Miller, and Amanda, who goes over all their suggestions. Our editions are also proofread and fact-checked by Jessica Keet.


Planet Waves

Back in the USSR

What a great idea — start the Winter Olympics in Mother Russia just as Mercury stationed retrograde in Pisces.

Yes, that Russia — the same one that we were told was the reason why we were hiding under our school desks and out of the way of flying glass; the very Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the bastards with all those missiles pointed at us and spies in trash cans and cameras in cigarette lighters who have taken over Hollywood and are seducing our youth with sex and vodka.

Planet Waves
Nikita Kruschev and some Cuban guy are very excited about the Winter Olympics being in Russia.

The Russia of “I hope the Russians love their children too” fame.

Well, all is forgiven — unless of course something goes horribly wrong during the next 17 days. As of press time Friday morning, hours before the opening ceremony, we were seeing a lot of information about the condition of bathrooms and water in Sochi hotels. We also learned that the United States had again banned liquids and gels on all flights into Russia based on purported information about explosives concealed in toothpaste tubes.

Meanwhile Vladimir Putin, who has an interest in keeping things cool because he wants everyone to think he’s cool, and he’s definitely been on a roll since Pussy Riot’s appearance on The Colbert Report this week [see part one and part two, sorry about the insulting credit card ads], has reportedly been watching over potential “black widow” suicide bombers — women who are not necessarily widows but rather female operatives.

“What is interesting about Russia’s terrorism problem is the number of women who carry out attacks is greater than any other country in the world,” writes Stuart Ramsay, the chief Russian correspondent for Sky News.

We see this specter hanging out on the western horizon of the opening ceremony chart, as asteroid Juno. She’s right there, occupying the relationship angle (the 7th house cusp), right out in the open where everyone can see her. I will admit, it’s a little ominous having her there. I’ve been looking at this chart for a couple of weeks wondering what this is about.

Planet Waves
Chart for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Juno has several incarnations, though two main ones. In the first instance, it’s the emotionally disaffected person, generally a woman since her character is that of the jilted wife. But Juno’s problems emerge less from the fact of her being jilted and more from her inability to state her needs. She can represent all kinds of relational insecurity, fear of infidelity and the “maintenance of one’s position with the other,” as my colleague Martha Lang Wescott puts it.

The second incarnation of Juno is that of the guardian of justice and good causes. This is a slightly weird delineation given the other one, but I’ve seen it work sufficiently to trust this theme.

Everyone knows the problem. It’s easy to mess things up. It’s difficult to keep them in order. All it takes is one little freelance terrorist or cell to ruin the whole party. Given that, we might ask why things go so smoothly nearly all the time; whatever that turns out to be is what will protect everyone here.

While Juno can be the jealous bitch or the powerful guardian, the 7th has a similar property — it’s the house of partners and also of open enemies. So we have some ambiguity here. Checking 120 extra points, we discover that today Juno in this chart is in an exact conjunction to Aphrodite, an asteroid named for the Greek counterpart of Venus.

The chart has two other significant points of ambiguity. The first involves the Moon, which is void of course in Taurus when the ceremony begins. Void of course Moon means that the Moon is done making major aspects to major planets in its current sign. It can have a slippery feeling, noncommittal or uncertain.

Again checking 120 extra points, we find the Moon’s one applying aspect while it’s in Taurus is an opposition to asteroid Siva. I’m going to give you Martha’s whole delineation of that point, at least this one version: “Episodic, catabolic (breakdown/through) process that precedes insight; destruction of density/fixated beliefs (relative to aspects); crisis of death (stagnation) or regeneration; The Far East (including Vietnam, India, China, Malaysia, Japan;) periodic occurrence; ascetic; attention to sound.”

Planet Waves
Juno and Aphrodite on the western horizon? Well, close enough — it’s Pussy Riot on Stephen Colbert.

Personally I’ve always taken the “attention to sound” bit with Siva to heart — I use it as one indicator to LISTEN. However, this Moon looks like it’s about confronting the fear of change and instability; appropriate enough under the circumstances. There is no certainty in this situation.

Second ambiguous thing involves Mercury, which just stationed retrograde on Thursday. Mercury is a powerful element in the Winter Olympics chart — the chart has Virgo rising (ruled by Mercury) and Gemini on the midheaven (ruled by Mercury). And Mercury occupies Pisces, the 7th sign from the ascendant; hence it’s angular, i.e., near the horizon and more influential.

Plus Mercury does something called ‘fall’ in Pisces, a negative dignity which means that it’s slightly uncomfortable there but has to do some extra work to get its point across, then it can become significantly influential. And it’s also retrograde, which is another supposed negative, but Mercury just loves to be retrograde. So what we get is this weird Mercury that rules the 1st and 10th houses and is swimming upstream in Pisces.

If there was ever a chart that said, “You can’t really tell from this chart what the heck is going on, but it really doesn’t look that bad,” this is the one. Plus it has a lot to say about water, which is what has been dominating news reports from old Mother Russia.

Now I will say this, and I intend it as a warning.

Planet Waves
Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune tweeted: “My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, ‘do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous’.” Then after water was restored with this pee-colored blend, she tweeted, “I just washed my face with Evian, like I’m a Kardashian or something.”

Every time I hear one of these news reports about signs in Sochi bathrooms that say “don’t wash your face with this water,” I think that if Americans are not careful, we are all next. Water contamination is currently a big story in the U.S., the drought on the West Coast should be bigger news and fracking away all of our remaining fresh water should be even bigger news.

Anyway, back to the Olympics: journalists have been on the water beat from their water closets in their hotel rooms. Reports of group toilets and contaminated water have been bouncing around for days.

Here is my personal fave, out of The Wall Street Journal:

“Dmitry Kozak, a Russian deputy prime minister in charge of preparations for the Olympics, mistakenly revealed during a press conference that at least some hotel guests are under video surveillance in their own bathrooms. ‘We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day’.”

Wow! “Security” cameras in bathrooms! What fun! I’ve just checked asteroid Photographica in today’s chart and I predict that cell phone photos will provide some of the most entertaining moments from Winter Olympics XXII.

The Chris Christie Prediction that Came True

In the Jan. 10 edition of Planet Waves I said that the Chris Christie scandal would take a big turn once Venus stationed direct on Jan. 31, which is exactly what happened.

Here is what I said:

Leo, the sign that represents the president or the king, is on the cusp of the 12th. That indicates that the governor presided over the whole matter. The Sun, ruler of Leo, is also found in the 12th. He’s right in the mix, fully aware and sharing responsibility for the whole thing. To sum that up, the planets that rule the official government and its leadership, as well as the sign associated with the king, and its ruler, are all crammed into the 12th house.

This is your classic 20 pounds of shit in a 10-pound bag kind of scandal. And it wasn’t staying in the bag. The fact that the email got out, making it clear that the traffic jam was payback, that he fired a member of his team and accused her of lying, and that his appointee at the Port Authority said he wanted immunity from the feds, New York and New Jersey tells you that there was criminal activity involved. I think that will come out around the time that Venus stations direct on Jan. 31.

Here is what The New York Times said happened that day, among other things:

In Wildstein’s letter to Darrell Buchbinder, the general counsel at Port Authority, he claims the decision was “the Christie’s administration’s order.” (Apparently the letter was sent as part of a dispute over Wildstein’s legal fees — the Port Authority does not want to pay his legal fees related to the investigations into the lane closings.)

“It has also come to light that a person within the Christie administration communicated the Christie administration’s order that certain lanes on the George Washington Bridge were to be closed, and evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference he gave immediately before Mr. Wildstein was scheduled to appear before the Transportation Committee. Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the Governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter said.

More on this soon.


Planet Waves

Business as Useless, Uh, as Usual

The legislative branch of the U.S. government actually managed to legislate last week, passing the deeply flawed farm bill. But lest anyone take this as a sign that the gridlock is thawing, witness the snarling and snapping and grandstanding that is heating up over the prospect of raising the debt ceiling this month.

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Playing the blame game as usual; Republicans and Democrats can’t help but point fingers. Photo by Jonathan Ernst.

There is little doubt that the debt ceiling — the limit on the Treasury Department’s borrowing ability — will ultimately be raised, as it has been 80 times since the 1940s, with the largest number of increases happening during the Reagan/Bush I years. But earlier this week, Republicans who seemingly didn’t learn much from the government shutdown battle this past fall were seeing the debt ceiling deadline as a golden opportunity.

As per what passes for normal these days, Republicans are deeply split. Some loathe the idea of any raising of the debt ceiling no matter what. Others would be willing, but only if there’s quid pro quo; ideas that have been floated by this faction include speeding approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, canceling an Affordable Care Act provision intended to prevent premium increases, and undoing recent changes to military cost-of-living allotments.

The idea is to come up with something so brilliant and hard to criticize that every single Republican will get on board, but no such item has emerged from the fray. If it did, Democrats would block it at the Senate level anyway.

Any hopes of actual progress on issues such as jobs, infrastructure, immigration reform or unemployment insurance extensions, meanwhile, have fallen very nearly off the map as both sides focus their energy on the coming midterm elections. Democrats are hoping to mobilize the youthful vigor of Obama’s 2012 ground game, while Republicans are urging the IRS to loosen spending rules.

Riding Disinformation on the ACA Highway

Right-leaning media outlets including FOX News and The Washington Post sounded the battle cry yesterday in response to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) outlining the projected effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or ‘Obamacare’) on the nation’s budget, the economy and employment. The charge? That the ACA will cost the United States more than two million jobs over the next ten years — but it seems that in the rush to pillory Obama’s crowning achievement, the Right got it wrong.

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What the CBO report actually states is that the ACA will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade:

“The estimated reduction [that is, the reduction of available labor] stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business’ demand for labor.”

The key phrase here is “workers choose to supply.” We’re not talking about workers getting laid off; we’re not talking about hours being cut by employers; we’re not talking about jobs being sent overseas. The CBO is saying that 2.5 million people will voluntarily leave the workforce because they no longer need to stay in jobs just to get health insurance.

You’re familiar with the situation: people staying in jobs they hate or that are a poor fit for them, and older workers staying in jobs past the point when they might otherwise retire, solely because they need the health insurance offered. The ACA allows people to get health insurance privately, freeing them to leave the workforce if they can get by on retirement savings and social security, or to reduce their hours, or to find employment they actually prefer. It’s still not universal single-payer health care, but the CBO report indicates we may be edging closer.

The Right-wing media misinterpretation seems less a legitimate confusion and more like a deliberate move in the chess game of disinformation being played by the Koch brothers, et al.

“Too bad this reality isn’t permeating the liberal force field of thinking only positive thoughts,” crowed the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, claiming projected job loss. Too bad the fact of what the report actually stated is not permeating the Right-wing force field of crazy.


Planet Waves

Nuke News: Never a Dull Moment in Japan

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a joint venture between the two multinational conglomerate corporations, has agreed to pay a minuscule $2.7 million fine to the U.S. government. The settlement comes after GE Hitachi was accused by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of making false statements about known flaws of their nuclear reactor designs.

Planet Waves
Just what you always wanted — an Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor, brought to you by GE and the people who make the Hitachi Magic Wand.

GE Hitachi concealed problems in its Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor [see propaganda video here], specifically involving a steam dryer that removes liquid water in boiling-water type reactors. The companies knew that vibrations from the steam dryers could cause cracking of the vessel and loose debris entering the steam lines, thereby compromising the safety of the nuclear reactor.

U.S. Department of Energy supplied federal funding to GE Hitachi between 2007 and 2012 for up to half the cost of developing this steam dryer and acquiring certification. According to a Wall Street Journal report, a spokesperson for the company denies the allegations and says they settled the lawsuit in order to resolve the accusation. GE and Hitachi both engineered reactors for Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi in the 1970s, where four out of six units were crippled in the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Three experienced total core meltdowns.

Meanwhile TEPCO, the utility operating Fukushima, says that it decommissioned units 5 and 6 last Friday, the only two reactors left intact after the disaster. Units 1, 2 and 3 experienced complete core meltdowns, and Unit 4 incurred severe structural damage due to hydrogen explosions and is in the process of having its spent fuel removed.

TEPCO’s decision to decommission the reactors reportedly came at the urging of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited the plant last September. The prime minister’s administration is cultivating the image of taking a firm stance that the government is handling the disaster at Fukushima.

Public concern in Japan over nuclear power is growing, despite attempts to keep the subject quiet. Last month a radio show host quit his job after the program director told him to avoid discussing nuclear power because his comments “would affect voting behavior” in the upcoming gubernatorial election in Tokyo.

Despite the prime minister’s efforts to keep concerns over nuclear power out of the spotlight, three out of four candidates for mayor declared they were against nuclear energy in a debate on Saturday.


Planet Waves

Monsanto Votes Down Proposal Supporting GMO Labeling

Sometimes you have to get into the belly of the beast and give it a stomach ache to get your point across.

Planet Waves
Colorful fish art cars drive past protesters outside Monsanto’s shareholder meeting. Photo by Sarah Conrad.

Advocates for GMO labeling did just that last week at Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, at the annual shareholder meeting. They were there to lend support to the first-time-ever Monsanto shareholder vote on a resolution to support GMO labeling — brought by shareholder and food safety activist Adam Eidinger of Occupy Monsanto, and presented by family farm advocate Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now!

Outside the building, five colorful “fishy cars” representing the unlabeled fishy food that has been genetically modified and consumed for years drove home the protesters’ point: Label it.

“We’re just coming to their shareholder meeting as a response to what they’ve been doing around the country,” said Cesar Maxit, designer and architect of the five fish art cars. “We’re taking the fight to their home, their shareholder meeting, saying we’re sick of it.”

“We’re asking that Monsanto stop fighting the will of the American people, 90 percent of whom want to know if their food has been genetically engineered in a laboratory,” said Murphy.

Monsanto shareholders said ‘screw you’ to the 90%, however, when 95% of them voted “No” on the resolution. The text of the resolution is here, along with Monsanto’s board of directors’ recommendation to defeat it.


Planet Waves

If Mercury Taught Photography

In honor of Mercury retrograde (which began yesterday), check out these “50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos on the Internet,” collected by Reshareworthy.com. Mercury is a clever, creative trickster — and while most of us are all-too familiar with the ways the fastest planet can cause trouble, we don’t always stop to appreciate the happy accidents that can occur when things don’t go exactly as planned. Some of the photos featured actually are the results of careful planning; others capture once-in-a-lifetime moments of happenstance, never to be recreated. Hopefully they’ll inspire you to play Mercury’s game with a little more curiosity, playfulness and appreciation of the unexpected.


Planet Waves

Mercury retrograde and Philip Seymour Hoffman

In the current edition of Planet Waves FM [link to program] I take you on a tour of the coming Mercury retrograde, Ceres in Scorpio and also revisit Venus in Capricorn. Then I look at the charts of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Our musical guest is Big Spoon.

Options for Apple users and a downloadable MP3 are available on the Planet Waves FM page.


Planet Waves

Have you ordered your 2014 readings by Eric Francis yet? The Mars Effect (our 16th annual edition!) has just published, and includes in-depth audio and written readings for your Sun, Moon and rising signs. We always receive a flood of positive feedback for these readings, and it shows just how meaningful they are. One customer wrote, “Every minute of Eric’s reading is worth gold.” We’re offering you a special package price of $79 for all twelve signs, available only to current Planet Waves members. Or you may purchase individual signs for $29.95.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

We published your extended monthly horoscopes for February on Friday, Jan. 24. Your extended monthly horoscopes for January  were published Friday, Jan. 3. We published Moonshine horoscopes for the Cancer Full Moon Tuesday, Jan. 14. Moonshine horoscopes for the Aquarius New Moon published Tuesday, Jan. 28. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign.


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Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, #986 | By Eric Francis

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT — You are invited to join Planet Waves tarot writer Sarah Taylor for her first U.S. tarot workshop — on Saturday, Feb. 15, in Rockport, Maine.

“Romancing the Tarot: Learning to Speak the Language of Intuition” is a four-hour, participative journey through the tarot deck, and into the realm of the intuition. Gain a practical understanding of tarot and how it communicates its message; learn how to perform simple, useful, tarot readings; discover a stronger, clearer connection to your intuition. All levels are welcome, including absolute beginners. You can also book a private reading with Sarah the day before the workshop.

To reserve your place, and for more information, call The Maine Beehive, Rockport, at 207-236-3111 or visit www.integratedtarot.com/events.

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — This is a visionary moment, though you may be experiencing it with anxiety in a way that you cannot describe. Perhaps this is coming across as a sense of hesitancy, uncertainty or a struggle making a decision that has no basis in physical reality. In truth there is more going on below the surface of your mind than on the surface level. However, in order to tune into that, and get the benefits, I suggest you take some time alone and do some soul searching. Your orientation on life has become even more external than usual in recent seasons. The real nourishment that you need, whether for success or happiness or intimacy, will come from your relationship to yourself. And from the look of your solar charts, that can be a compelling experience — richer and more wholesome than nearly any experience you can have with someone else, at least right now.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may already be getting the message to get serious and focus on your work, and your highest goals. This is the time to put those together — to recognize the relationship between achievement, reputation and developing your competence. Those three factors will continue to add up to one thing: self-confidence. There are markers in your solar chart that you’re cultivating faith in yourself, though I’ve noticed this is something that needs to be claimed, taken possession of, and put to good use. You can ask yourself the question, “Were I more confident, what would I do?” Meanwhile, beware of social diversions this weekend. They are precisely that. Devote your time with friends to the ones who matter the most. ‘The crowd’ loves to waste its time — I suggest you make contact with someone, or with a few people, who you care about deeply. There is the potential for some profound honesty and emotional exchange.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Any real career is likely to be a story of two steps forward, one step back — though the good news is that there are more forward steps than backward ones. One brilliant detail about your astrology right now is that any setback has the potential for conversion into achieving something that seems impossible. Your charts look like you’re coming close to your dreams, but are not fully willing to take the plunge. Over the next few weeks, I suggest you consider what it would mean to dive into a goal so important, it may have stalked you since you were a child. Go back to that original notion of “what I want to be when I grow up,” the first one or two that you can remember. Then look around at the world today and see what needs you perceive that match with what you have to offer. Note, I am not talking about a five-minute think-over — more like a five-week investigation.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — There is an overwhelming amount of water energy in the sky right now, which means you’re right in your element. Remember that crabs live on the bottom, in the deeps of the ocean. You are less affected by what is going on with the other elements than they are by what is happening in the water signs. So as Mercury retrograde picks up momentum, you’re likely to be feeling more at home than many people around you. However, as Mercury retrogrades into Aquarius on Feb. 12, you have reason to pay close attention to joint financial matters. There is the potential for both confusion and for making mistakes in contractual issues. Therefore I suggest you follow the wise advice of “don’t sign, don’t buy, don’t commit” until after Mercury stations direct on Feb. 28. By that time you will know what you need to know — and there is plenty. String people along, call them up and talk about puppies or tell them your astrologer said to wait. Whatever it takes.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — The financial news I’ve related in the Cancer horoscope applies to you as well, only sooner rather than later. This is not a good time to be negotiating, but it’s a great time to figure out where people are coming from, what they have to offer and how you can mutually benefit. However, that information will come out in layers rather than all at once. People will tip their hand a little at a time, though you can be certain that you will find out what you need to know, under a couple of conditions. One is that you use your “sixth sense” or intuition — however you prefer to think about it. Most people feel the hankering of their intuition but few actually respond. I suggest you focus on careful listening — to yourself, and to others. People will give you the clues you need in order to understand their point of view. Indeed, most will state it outright, usually toward the beginning of any interchange; the question is whether you’re paying attention.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You will need to play it cool with a partner, and not allow yourself to get caught in an emotional current that may have nothing to do with you. The question seems to be whether and how much you’re willing to be part of someone else’s delusion. You may have a clue that this is what’s going on, though till now you have not been able to do much about it. As the next few weeks progress, it will gradually become clearer what has been happening. The biggest trap remains trying to fix someone, or persuade them to your point of view. They will either come around to reality or not — the more vital matter for you is your own commitment to reality. At a certain point, logic and your own commitment to your healing will take over. You have been firm about this for a while; you get how important it is. Remind yourself again.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — The current astrological news involves Mercury retrograde, which may be making it more challenging than usual to keep your composure and your focus. However, for Libra, the more compelling factor in your solar chart takes place on March 1 — Mars stations retrograde in your sign. Retrogrades of Mars are among the most palpable. They can put even confident and decisive people into a state of limbo, because Mars is all about going for what you want. When retrograde in your sign, Mars will have the effect of putting you into contact with the aspect of yourself who desires and who chooses. If there is a healing crisis associated with this, it’s along the lines of being honest with yourself about your desire. It’s also about maintaining a steady keel when you have reasons to doubt — that is, not allowing your doubts to take over your whole mind. The next three weeks of Mercury retrograde will be excellent practice for the real adventure.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Scorpios are often regarded as the sign known for their intensity rather than for taking care of people. My take is that this involves the anxiety others experience when confronted by someone who compels them to feel something other than a sugar high. I want to propose that your presence is an actual source of nourishment and support, even if you make people uneasy sometimes. Or to refine that statement, you have the option to focus your presence and your influence in a wholly positive way, and you’re in a moment when the faint of heart are more receptive to you than they usually are. Don’t underestimate the extent to which you play into their fantasies and their desires. People often refuse to admit who and what they want, or worse, they’re afraid that actually having that experience will in some way change them. In honor of that, I suggest that you be open to what you want, and to having it, with full awareness that you will change for doing so.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — At this time in your life, the concept of fair exchange is a necessary ingredient in your growth and your happiness. Be aware what you can contribute to any situation — that is to say, without feeling exploited. Be aware of the people who give to you so generously. Be aware of their devotion to you. It may seem un-Sagittarian to openly express gratitude, but I assure you that it would merely stand as evidence that you are a conscious and magnanimous citizen rather than another of the blocks and stones we so often keep banging into. There is no situation in your life that feeds you that you don’t have the power to feed and support. Your own well-being, your sense of belonging and most of all your need for fairness depend on it. Without aiming to appeal to your self-interest, let me say this another way. Everyone benefits from your generosity, of heart, of soul, of your wisdom and your resources. You benefit by being reminded how much you have.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You may be feeling like your mind is anything but clear, however, your astrology is saying you have an opening for something better than clarity, which is originality. The chaos that’s swarming around your thought process is a necessary ingredient of authentic creativity. Perhaps a musical metaphor will help. It’s necessary to learn scales and theory and be somewhat disciplined to be able to play an instrument. When it comes down to having your own ideas, improvising or letting your feelings out, you have to step outside those frameworks and embrace the unpredictable with a flexible state of mind. Current planetary movements may seem to be overdoing this a little, though think of what you’re doing as surfing rather than paddling around a heated swimming pool. Also I would note, you cannot actually drown in an idea, and if you find one that seems like it could do that, you can be sure it’s a pretty darned powerful concept.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — This would be a good time to avoid making decisions about money, including those about how you feel about your self-worth and the monetary value of your work. One thing about many, many Aquarians is an egalitarian spirit about money. This does not usually harmonize well with a world where the primary value seems to be greed. Indeed, in my short lifetime, I’ve seen greed go from a problem that some people have to a virtue to be aspired to. One productive thing you can do is remind yourself that you have an entirely different take on money than all of that. While you may not be ‘liberal’ on all issues, I am sure you’re firm on everyone having a right to food, shelter and pleasure. You don’t believe that others need to lose so that you can gain. Here is where you have a major advantage. Aquarius is one of the most structured signs, and wealth flows toward order and organization.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.


Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Do your best not to let anyone who seems thick or dull get on your nerves. Have some compassion for the fact that those who resist their own intelligence or intuition are out of their element with you. There is a slight conflict in that you are not thick, you value your own intelligence and you are ridiculously perceptive — therefore you notice the fact that so many people are walking around in a coma of denial. Here is the good news: You do have your influence on them, which is about as dramatic as layers of salt melting off of a deer lick (that’s a big block of salt people leave in their backyard in winter for deer). You may not see the block changing shape regularly but the deer notices that they are getting something good, which is also a vital nutrient. You may not notice people having radical revelations but you can trust that you’re having your influence, which will gradually get results in the form of having a deeper exchange with whoever is involved.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

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Let Me Recognize the Problem So it Can Be Solved

Dear Friend and Reader:

Working with my collaborators at Planet Waves, I set out on a mission of finding signs of progress amidst the many strange and tragic news events of 2013. Americans, as a lot, are people averse to following current events, and when we do, we rarely look back in an honest way.

It’s true, there’s hardly time these days. Yet part of not looking back means not remembering what we’ve learned in the past, not taking advantage of our mistakes. It sounds good to praise the power of now, but that serves little purpose if you forget a discovery about yourself that you made a day or a week ago and never put it to use.

Planet Waves
Butters prays to the all-knowing NSA, asking for protection for his friends, his family and even Cartman. Image: South Park Studios.

By many accounts, we are alive in a momentous era in history, and events of 2014 are going to ramp this up by a few orders of magnitude. Astrology describes this scenario in a longterm aspect called the Uranus-Pluto square, part of a cycle that you can trace back through history and observe the upheavals, revolutions and transformations of society. This one pattern is enough to shake up any skeptic who claims astrology isn’t real.

The last time we experienced a major phase of this cycle was in the mid-1960s, when Uranus and Pluto formed a conjunction. It’s only in hindsight that we can see the positive developments of that era. Yes, it was an exciting time to be alive if you were not wracked with anxiety or paranoia. There was great music, better drugs than we have today and the social environment was far less uptight. Many people felt the calling to get involved politically. Yet sadly, many look back and describe their experiences of that era as empty.

There were also the assassinations of many progressive leaders, and while that was happening, tens of thousands of 18-year-old boys were being shipped to Vietnam and coming home in flag-draped coffins a year later, or soaked with dioxin and terror three years later. Many people lost close friends, boyfriends, fathers, husbands and brothers to a war that just about everyone now admits was a pointless disaster. Yet who stands up to the equally corrupt, profit-driven war machine today? Do you?

Mars retrograde in Libra is going to send a jolt of energy through the Uranus-Pluto square, and precipitate many events long in development.

In searching for the positive, just about everything fell into one category — the revelation or acknowledgment of a problem that had been previously concealed or denied. The main developments seemed to be evidence of people waking up to injustice in one form or another.

There is a lesson in the workbook for A Course in Miracles that is titled, “Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.” It begins, “A problem cannot be solved if you do not know what it is. Even if it is really solved already you will still have the problem, because you will not recognize that it has been solved. This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized.” [Full text of lesson.]

Problem 1: NSA Spying Is Unconstitutional

In June, a man named Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the Obama administration had expanded the program of spying on the American people, created by the Bush administration. This caused an actual fuss.

Snowden, fearing for his life and his freedom and preferring not to be tortured, went first to Hong Kong, then to Moscow, where Vladimir Putin gave him a visa to stay for a year.

Various courts have litigated the program and in logic befitting Alice in Wonderland, managed to find it constitutional.
Then in late December, a federal judge named Richard Leon came out and said the obvious: the program is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Planet Waves
Judge Richard Leon. Photo from Suffolk University Law School.

That is the one that supposedly guarantees that the American people shall be secure in their papers and their possessions, which will be subject to search only with warrant specifically naming the thing to be seized.

Leon was appointed by Pres. George W. Bush, which may seem a little strange — but a true conservative believes in following the Constitution, and federal judges are appointed for life to make it possible for them to think with their own minds.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Judge Leon wrote in a 68-page ruling. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

We contacted Judge Leon’s chambers to get his date of birth, so we could look at his chart. The court clerk said that we could have the data as long as we promised to keep it private. So I will not be publishing the chart, but I can tell you about his chart. Judge Leon has a conjunction of the Sun and Chiron in Sagittarius, the sign of the higher courts. Sagittarius is a sign known for its guts and its love for freedom. Sun conjunct Chiron is the very image of a maverick willing to hold Big Daddy government accountable.

Sun-Chiron in Sagittarius emphasizes teacher of ethics quality of Chiron. Mars conjunct Saturn in Virgo is someone who actually cares about the details, and who doesn’t want to be pushed around.

With a little tuning up, it’s easy to get a potential birth time, which emphasizes his willingness to take responsibility (Nessus rising, ‘the buck stops here’, in Taurus based on truly-held values) and that characterizes his nature as a public figure who wants to keep some vestige of privacy in his own life by not publishing his private data. It’s also interesting that he trusted us enough not to — that tells you something about him.

“He loves Beethoven and he loves rock-and-roll,” Richard Hauser, a vice president and assistant general counsel at Boeing, as well as a former law partner of Leon’s, told The Washington Post. Now that explains everything.

Judge Leon’s ruling will work its way up through the D.C. circuit appellate court and most likely to the Supreme Court. Whether it’s upheld or not, the ruling was a shock to all the apologists who made excuses for how it was ok to mass harvest data, including for example MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, who really seems to think that we’re being spied on for our own good.

The same week, a panel commissioned by Pres. Obama recommended that the president remove NSA authority over phone data, leave it in the hands of private companies, and put the NSA under civilian control.

We are very close to recognizing this is a problem. Why most people don’t get angry about it is interesting, and can be explained by the idea that someone cares enough to listen to them. I proposed this in one of my columns, and then South Park noticed the same thing and used the concept in an episode from September (Let Go, Let Gov), featuring Butters praying to the NSA for the protection of his friends. NSA spying plays into a God complex that both the government and its citizens have. At its essence this is a spiritual problem.

Problem 2: Government-Subsidized Minimum Wage

In 2013, protests about below-poverty wages erupted outside fast food restaurants and big box stores like Walmart. It actually made the news when Walmart suggested that employees donate food to one another so they could have a good Thanksgiving.

Planet Waves
Fast food workers stage a protest against McDonald’s outside one of its restaurants in NYC. Photo by Eduardo Munoz.

One of my favorite facts of the year is that megacorporations that pay minimum wage (and often, minimum taxes) have massive numbers of employees on public assistance. An astounding 52% of McDonald’s employees receive food stamps or other forms of public assistance, costing the government $1.2 billion a year, while the company makes $5.46 billion in profits.

McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson is paid $6,875 an hour. Were he paid the federal minimum wage, he would have to work 1.89 million hours a year.

Conglomerate Yum! Brands comes in second place for pumping the government, with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC eating $648 million in public assistance; Subway is next, costing $436 million, Burger King $356 million, Wendy’s $278 million and so on. Fast food corporations chiseling their employees costs the government $3.8 billion each year.

It is good news that we know this. It makes it a lot easier to see that those who advocate for “free market” capitalism are full of shit. This kind of information may take a little time to sink in, and it has to sink in deeper than the public’s addiction to fat, salt, sugar, cheap meat and carbs, but it still counts for raising consciousness.

Problem 3: Monsanto (and it’s now a household word)

I have covered the crimes of Monsanto since 1991, so it’s always been a household word wherever I live — and a secret just about every place else. This year, Monsanto came under the spotlight after a worldwide protest was called against the agricultural nightmares it creates.

Planet Waves
March Against Monsanto — the first-ever global protest against a company — in Venice Beach, CA. Photo by Lizanne Webb.

On May 25, the March Against Monsanto was staged, with protests in cities around the world. While this was not exactly the Occupy movement, it was a miracle that people came out to protest a corporation that until recently was known mostly to farmers and people who visited Disney World as a kid.

The battle over labeling genetically modified foods did not go well, but it’s now on the surface of awareness. On the eve of the March Against Monsanto, 71 senators voted against an amendment that would have guaranteed states the right to enact mandatory GMO labeling laws. Meanwhile, the FDA tried to run interference on state labeling, saying that it could not conflict with federal labeling regulations. It all comes down to money, and everyone involved in the issue knows that.

One problem is the bribery known as campaign contributions. One of GMO’s biggest apologists, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, received $739,926 in campaign contributions from agriculture firms in 2012, which would give her a reason to chirp endless lies about how wonderful GMO crops are, how they resist disease and feed the poor and resist droughts. All of this is now out in the open.

One problem getting the country on board is junk food. Those who chow down on Doritos don’t really care what kind of corn it is.

Problem 4: Relationship Bigotry

We actually made some progress on this one. The Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act, one of the most ridiculous laws ever written, passed thanks to two serial adulterers, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton.

California’s referendum allowing same-sex marriages was also upheld by the Supreme Court. There are now 17 states that allow same-sex marriage and 33 that ban same-sex marriage. That may seem lopsided, but the cat is out of the closet. The important thing is that the Supreme Court has set a precedent, and any law that is challenged could easily fall on its face.

Planet Waves
Pope Francis just likes to have fun, he loves women and he doesn’t think that the church should judge gay people.

Many places with a ban have populations that are not nearly as bigoted as their neanderthal, religious-nut politicians. Speaking of neanderthals, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and Alec Baldwin got spanked — to the tune of millions — for making homophobic comments. Baldwin lost his program after making an anti-gay slur to a photographer.
Phil Duck took a public flogging from A&E for stating in an interview with GQ magazine (among other things) that the United States has a problem with sin.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

For additional emphasis and color, he added: “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

His apologists are saying he has a right to express his views under freedom of speech, which is true — and A&E has a right to dump him for the same reason. Let’s see if they do. It’s too bad Anything That Moves is not in print anymore — I would buy him a gift subscription.

Meanwhile in Rome, the new Roman Catholic pope even got into the act, telling reporters, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a very beautiful way, but says, wait a moment, how do you say…it says, [that] these persons must not be marginalized for this, they must be integrated into society.”

Then came the best surprise of all. In December, a federal judge ruled that laws prohibiting what the Utah law called ‘cohabitation’ — that is, a word in the statute substituting for polygamy — violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion and assembly. The law said that, Clark Waddoups quoted Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, saying that the Constitution provides people with “an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.” Judge Waddoups was also appointed by George W. Bush. Go figure.

It’s worth adding a bit about Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist minister who officiated at the wedding of his gay son. He was suspended from the ministry after a church ‘trial’ in November, but he has refused to step down.

And Then There’s Us

It seems in hindsight that the collective awareness has indeed cracked open within a relatively short amount of time. Much of what I’ve just reported is indicative of raising consciousness. What seemed totally impossible just years ago is now a palpable reality. Each of these developments offers some evidence of actual change.

Planet Waves
A high school student at an anti-government protest in Paris sees her reflection in a riot officer’s shield. Photo by Eric Francis.

Yet those of us who have been aware of these problems for a while know there is still a long way to go. Fortunately, we are in the midst of an acceleration process indicated by the Uranus-Pluto square.

Awareness is a crucial first step. That’s where we are, on the verge of fully recognizing what we know. Many people are observing that an old order is dissolving. Yet for real change to happen, many individuals need to take up the work in a deeply personal way. With awareness comes the need for incredible responsibility; for a kind of impeccability.

New consciousness can start to rise, and then be blocked by old hangups, habits, the fear of change and other facets of the past weighing on people who say they want to move ahead. Progress requires more than hope and good intentions. There is the reality of the road ahead.

Those who have already treaded the path of real change for a while know how deep and dark the journey is; how uncomfortable; the extent to which any seemingly outer issue must be embraced as an inner reality in order for actual change to come. We know how much therapy, spiritual work and experience it can take to unravel deeply ingrained patterns.

It is challenging to take that kind of responsibility and do something about what we feel and see; it’s much easier to stand in dumbfounded paralysis, completely shocked and desensitized, or to entertain ourselves to death, watching events unfold like a circus. How we respond is ultimately a personal choice. The moment of decision is arriving.


— Additional writing: Chad Woodward. Additional research: Hillary Conary, Elizabeth Michaud and Len Wallick.

Note to Readers: Subscriber editions will be off next week for the Christmas holiday. We will resume subscriber editions on Friday, Jan. 3. The blogging team will be working as usual, and I plan to keep doing Planet Waves FM as I work through the 12 signs of your annual readings.

Section Writing and Editing Credits: News items below are written and edited by a team consisting of Hillary Conary, Anne Craig, Eric Francis, Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Painter, Susan Scheck, Chad Woodward and Carol van Strum. Page assembled and coded by Anatoly Ryzhenko. Special thanks to the Fact Checkers List, which goes over each edition on Thursday night — and to our main astrology fact-checker Alex Miller, and Amanda, who goes over all their suggestions. Our editions are also proofread and fact-checked by Jessica Keet.


Planet Waves

Venus Retrograde: Something Old, Something New

We are hours away from the southern solstice, when the Sun aligns with the Tropic of Capricorn. That’s also known as the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice, or summer solstice for our readers in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Planet Waves
Sculpture by Jim Dowd made from redwood driftwood, on the Grandmother Land in High Falls, New York. Photo by Eric Francis.

For those of us on the northern side of the globe, we are pointed as far away from the Sun’s rays as we will get — therefore, we’re having the shortest days of the year. The Sun appears to rise and set at the same position on the horizon (sol + stice, the Sun seems to stand still), and if you have not noticed yet, winter begins.

The short days and seeming remoteness of the Sun create what I call a compression effect, which is sensory (fewer hours of sunlight, cloudier days, standard time imposed on us), nutritional (vitamin D starvation, unless you like super chilly nude sunbathing or supplement heavily), plus emotional and psychic, as the Earth reaches an extreme of its annual cycle. The days fly by this time of year even more swiftly than usual. It’s not just because of the holidays.

Despite the cold weather, the Earth is actually closer to the Sun this time of year. This reminds me of Ali G’s interview with Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut who accompanied Neil Armstrong to the Moon the first time people went there in 1969.

Ali G: Do you think man will ever walk on the Sun?

Buzz: No. The Sun is too hot. It’s not a good place to go to.

Ali G: What happens if they went in winter, when the Sun is cold?

Buzz: The Sun is not cold in the winter.

Entering Capricorn, the Sun jumps onto the cardinal cross, where it will make aspects to many other planets positioned there, including nascent Mars in Libra, the Uranus-Pluto square and Jupiter in Cancer.

Planet Waves
Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen) asks his ‘main man’ Buzz Aldrin whether man will ever walk on the Sun, perhaps in winter.

This year the solstice comes with a special twist — Venus stations retrograde a few hours later. Just as the Sun enters Capricorn, Venus stations retrograde in Capricorn. Venus retrograde lasts about six weeks, ending on Jan. 31.

Venus is retrograde least of all the planets, just over 7% of the time. By contrast, Mercury is retrograde 19% of the time, and it sure seems that way.

Note that this is the first Venus retrograde since the Venus transit of the Sun in June 2012 — that day when Venus could be seen walking across the surface of the Sun (even if we can’t do it, she can). Venus retrograde (or Mercury for that matter) happens when Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth.

Venus retrograde is one of those conditions that tends to evoke the past. Old lovers and friends can reappear, or you might find yourself visiting old places or remembering things that you have not thought about since you experienced them. In Capricorn this can feel nostalgic, or like family karma can be being stirred up (and it may be, especially with Pluto in the neighborhood), so make sure you wear your psychologist hat to family gatherings rather than your ‘they push my buttons’ hat.

Images of Venus retrograde in Capricorn include romantic relationships with older people (which implies older people having relationships with younger ones), spending time with older people in any context, seeing the value in prior ways of doing things, curiosity and passion for history and poring through old photos and nostalgia. (Remember this for your late holiday gift purchasing — here are some hints).

Planet Waves
Venus transit of the Sun from 2004. The corresponding event was in June 2012. The next will happen in 2117, many Venus retrogrades from now. Photo series by Anthony Ayiomamitis in Athens.

I have a theory, somewhat supported by experience, that the more unusual the astrological event, the more unusual is whatever it represents. At the end of its retrograde, Venus stations direct in Capricorn on Jan. 31; this seems to be something that happens every eight years in our era. However, for all of those Venus stations direct in Capricorn going back many decades, the retrogrades started in Aquarius and ended in Capricorn.

I had to go back to the Venus retrograde of 1802-1803 to find one that happened exclusively in Capricorn, to the days when Pres. Jefferson was in office. So we’re about to experience something that has not happened in about 210 years.

Around this time in 1802, a war between Sweden and Libya (then Tripoli) ended. In January 1803, Almanach des gourmands was published, naturally, in France — forerunner of Zagat, the first guide to restaurant cooking (the Italian restaurant had not been invented yet). The inventor of the “first practical steamboat” demonstrated his invention, in Scotland. And speaking of France, future president James Monroe headed to Paris to discuss purchasing New Orleans — and completed the Louisiana Purchase.

Venus retrograde in Capricorn will remind us that the past is not as far away as we like to think, try as we may to escape, pretend or forget what we have learned. As William Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

For the coming weeks you might discover that it’s very much alive.


Planet Waves

Activists To Be Included in Russian Amnesty

An amnesty bill put forward by Russian president Vladimir Putin and passed by the Russian parliament has sparked cautious optimism among supporters of the two jailed members of the band Pussy Riot and the Greenpeace members facing trial as part of the Arctic 30.

The conviction of the punk pranksters of Pussy Riot for “hooliganism” following an anti-Putin protest staged in a Moscow cathedral, drew condemnation from free speech advocates, artists and human rights groups worldwide. The band, whose members cite the riot grrrl movement in the U.S. as an inspiration, is vocal in support of feminism, eco-awareness and LGBQT rights.

Planet Waves
Protesters calling for the release of Greenpeace activists imprisoned in Russia, on Oct. 31, 2013, in Paris. Photo by Pierre Andrieu.

Two band members were sentenced to serve two years; a third was acquitted (see Planet Waves coverage here). Both the imprisoned women — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina — are mothers of young children, one of the groups targeted in the amnesty bill along with minors, pregnant women, women over 55 and men over 60, the disabled, Chernobyl cleanup workers and military veterans.

The Arctic 30 members, all but one of whom have been out on bail pending trial, were facing charges stemming from an attempt to board an oil rig in September of this year. The activists, who come from 13 different nations, originally faced charges of piracy that were reduced to “aggravated hooliganism” in late October, and were facing up to seven years. (See Planet Waves coverage here.)

The amnesty is a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution,and will affect 25,000 people in all, freeing 1,300 prisoners convicted of minor offenses and relieving others of pending charges and non-custodial criminal sanctions. Supporters of the activists are holding their breath until actual freedom’s achieved.

Family members of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina say the amnesty is “too late” so close to the end of their sentences; given Tolokonnikova’s description of the conditions, however, any time shaved off imprisonment may well be precious.

In other pardon-related news, President Obama has extended an olive branch to eight federal inmates convicted on crack cocaine charges and sentenced under laws that have since been changed. Six of the eight faced life in prison. All eight are now expected to be freed within 120 days.


Planet Waves

GMO Seeds at Heart of Alleged Conspiracy to Steal Secrets

A glamorous James Bond spy story this isn’t. Yet two cases of alleged international espionage by Chinese nationals have rocked the halls of Monsanto and other biotechs, with the intellectual property contained in their GMO corn and rice at stake.

Planet Waves
Weiqiang Zhang and Yan Wengui, accused of trying to steal samples of seeds from a research facility in Kansas. Photo: Reuters.

The FBI filed two separate cases last week. In one, Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, a Chinese citizen lawfully residing in Miami, was the alleged head of a plot to steal GMO corn seeds and send them back home to his employer, Kings Nower Seed, a subsidiary of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Company.

For several years, Mo drove around Iowa and other Midwest states in rented cars, with a changing cast of Chinese companions — followed by FBI agents down dusty back roads — stopping at secret test fields owned by Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer to gather seeds. He also bought seeds from farmers, but refused to sign the standard paperwork required by the companies for their use.

Mo has been jailed in Florida, awaiting transfer to Iowa where the charges were filed. He has not yet been indicted, according to his attorney, who says the FBI cannot prove the seeds were proprietary property of Monsanto or DuPont.

Mo may have had help from “several potential ‘insiders’ at U.S.-based seed companies,” said the FBI. These individuals may have provided Mo and his alleged co-conspirators with information on where the companies were growing seeds from an “inbred line.” Inbred lines are the parents of the hybrid corn that seed companies sell to farmers, and are patented.

“Pioneer executives estimated that the loss of an inbred line of seed would result in losing approximately 5-8 years of research and a minimum of $30-40 million,” the FBI filing stated.

In Kansas, charges were also filed last week against Weiqiang Zhang, a Chinese lawful permanent resident of the U.S., accused of stealing genetically modified rice  from Colorado-based Ventria Bioscience and providing the seeds to scientists in China.

From a letter filed with the court documents, Zhang — a Ventria agricultural seed breeder who got the rice from a company farm in Kansas where he worked — apparently was angling for a job in a research facility in China, and thought access to Ventria’s technology might make him an attractive candidate.

Planet Waves
Monsanto Co. DeKalb brand seed corn sits on a pallet at a farm in Princeton, Illinois. Photo by Daniel Acker.

It’s unclear whether anyone in China asked him for the seeds, although he was also accused of handing them to agricultural officials from China. A second man, Wengui Yan, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has been named as a co-defendant in the case.

The Chinese are in a hot debate over allowing GMOs into their food supply. The general public strongly opposes it, while government officials see it as an answer to their country’s expanding food needs. China has been importing GM soybeans since 1997, and also allows the import of some varieties of genetically modified corn, though both are subject to strict controls. GM corn and soy are only approved for processing into soy oil, soymeal and animal feed, not direct human consumption.

In November 2009, the agricultural ministry issued bio-safety certificates to two strains of pest-resistant GMO rice and one variety of corn, approving them for use on experimental plots. Commercial planting of GMO crops is strictly prohibited, thought to be due to the government’s concern with fierce public opposition.

“China doesn’t need to develop GMO. If we cultivate land well and waste less feed (don’t throw dead pigs into rivers), China’s agriculture can feed the Chinese people,” Gu Xiulin, a Yunnan University of Finance and Economics processor, wrote on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging website similar to Twitter. “GMO is a magic knife that can annihilate mankind and destroy the environment… don’t be fooled.”


Planet Waves

Targeting Target — and Possibly You

As many as 40 million people who used credit and debit cards at Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their private banking information stolen, the corporation revealed in a notice to consumers released on Dec. 19.

Planet Waves
If only the dog had stolen the card numbers, shoppers would still be okay; most dogs can’t read or type that well.

The theft, first reported by Krebsonsecurity.com and confirmed by Target’s CEO one day later, took place at brick-and-mortar Target stores across the United States and involved the data encoded in the magnetic strip that’s swiped through card-reading machines. Thieves of the data would be able to use it to create counterfeit cards. Online transactions at Target.com were apparently not affected.

Data that may have been stolen during the breach includes names, card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes.

Target advises all customers who used major credit or debit cards or Target store cards during the period when security was breached to watch their statements for any suspicious transactions, and says it is working with a “leading third-party forensics firm” as well as major financial institutions and the Secret Service to investigate the matter fully.

The news comes at an inauspicious time for Target, whose executives recently reported great success in enticing consumers to sign up for its own store credit cards.


Planet Waves

Year in Review: Abortion Rights and Women’s Reproductive Health

The Guttmacher Institute has not yet released its comprehensive ‘year in review’ report detailing the setbacks and advancements in women’s heath care policies and abortion rights in the United States. But Guttmacher’s midyear report painted a clear picture for the first half of the year, one easily extrapolated with some highlights (and lowlights) from the full year.

Planet Waves
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis voting against a motion during her filibuster. ‘V’ is also for ‘victory’; as temporary as hers was, it empowered pro-choice activists. Photo by Eric Gay.

During the first half of 2013, state legislators enacted 43 provisions aimed at restricting access to abortion.

“Although this is significantly lower than the record-breaking 80 restrictions that had been enacted by this point in 2011,” notes the Guttmacher Institute, “it is nonetheless a higher number of restrictions than in any year other than 2011 and as many as enacted in all of 2012.” (Emphasis added.)

The report also notes that, “Although initial momentum behind banning abortion early in pregnancy appears to have waned, states nonetheless adopted myriad restrictions on access to abortion. However, this year is notable also for positive action on other reproductive health issues in a few states, including important new provisions enacted to expand access to comprehensive sex education, expedited partner treatment for STIs and emergency contraception for women who have been sexually assaulted.”

2013 began with the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January, the landmark Supreme Court decision upon which abortion rights in the U.S. are founded. According to Democracy Now! a poll at that time indicated that for the first time on record, a majority of Americans (70%) opposed overturning Roe v. Wade.

Much of the lawmaking this year indicated otherwise, although in March a federal judge struck down a 2011 Idaho law banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the time, it was believed to be the first such instance of a federal court ruling such a law to be unconstitutional; abortion rights supporters hoped it would set a legal precedent for challenges to similar laws in other states.

In fact, a kind of legal back-and-forth actually looks like a hallmark of 2013, with a noticeable trend of federal judges blocking (even if temporarily) extreme and potentially unconstitutional abortion restrictions in a number of states including North Dakota, Alabama, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The harshest anti-abortion bill in a decade to come before the U.S. Congress was approved by the House in June. Pres. Obama vowed to veto the bill and it got no traction in the Senate, but its appearance at all raises a red flag. The previous week, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), pissed off many when he remarked that the number of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low” — as though only rape survivors deserve choice over their pregnancies and bodies (but only after being violated first).

Planet Waves
Opponents to an abortion bill in the Senate chamber as Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters against the abortion bill. Photo by Eric Gay.

Perhaps the most memorable highlight for pro-choice activists also came in June: Texas state senator Wendy Davis helmed an 11-hour filibuster of a bill that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization and imposed harsh regulations that would have closed nearly all abortion clinics in Texas.

Sadly, the bill was passed in a special legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry — but not before hundreds of people on both sides gave public testimony, highlighted by Katie Heim’s “If my vagina was a gun” poem.

Hopes were raised in October, when one federal judge ruled parts of the Texas law unconstitutional — only to be dashed the next month, when a federal appeals court reinstated the law.

On a slightly different tack, just last month Michigan became the ninth stateto require insurance companies to charge additional fees to women for abortion coverage, often referred to as “rape insurance.” (Planet Waves coverage here).

In November and December, we’ve had some mixed birth-control news. On the one hand, the Guttmacher Institute has released a report showing that the Affordable Care Act is getting something right, enabling a significant wave of women to receive birth control without paying a copay. However, the Supreme Court also recently announced it will hear claims by two for-profit companies that think they should be able to deny employees birth control under their insurance plans. (Planet Waves coverage here.)

In short, we’re still trying to prove that women are people and corporations are not. It will take more than luck to make 2014 the year that we do, and full-on vigilance to ensure Roe v. Wade stays intact — along with its predecessor, Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized birth control.

For an outline of major abortion law developments, use this link; or access all 2013 Democracy Now! headlines and stories on the topic here.


Planet Waves

Planet Waves

Your Capricorn Solstice Tunes

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, the first official day of winter is Saturday as the Sun enters Capricorn. What could be a better soundtrack to your solstice rituals than the four musicians of Ethnobeat, from Irkutsk, drumming on the thick, melodic ice of Lake Baikal in Siberia in this video?

Lake Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface freshwater (presumably during the summer), making it the largest by volume (and it’s the deepest, at 5,387 feet/1,642 meters). Even better, it is thought to be the oldest lake in the world at 25 million years — and you know how much Capricorns love the past!


Planet Waves

Gemini Full Moon: Federal Judge Rules Against NSA

Link to program.

In this week’s edition of Planet Waves FM, I cover Tuesday morning’s Gemini Full Moon and the revelation that came with it: there is a federal judge who was willing to go on the record and say that the NSA spying program is unconstitutional. I also cover the chart for the solstice and Venus stationing retrograde. My musical guest is MISSION TO MILO.

In the program, I reference the natal chart of Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on the NSA harvesting of phone records. You can see his chart and my article about it on the blog of The Mountain Astrologer on Snowden’s chart.


Planet Waves

Have you pre-ordered your 2014 readings by Eric Francis yet? The Mars Effect (our 16th annual edition!) will be out in January, and will include in-depth audio and written readings for your Sun, Moon and rising signs. We always receive a flood of positive feedback for these readings, and it shows just how meaningful they are. One customer wrote, “I’m so grateful to you for the illumination and the reassurance this reading has bestowed.” We’re offering you a special package price of $79 for all twelve signs, available only to current Planet Waves members. Or you may purchase individual signs for $19.95.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

We published the extended monthly horoscope for December Friday, Nov. 29. Inner Space for November was published Friday, Nov. 1. Moonshine for the Sagittarius New Moon was published Tuesday, Nov. 26. We published Moonshine for the Gemini Full Moon Tuesday, Dec. 10. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign; Inner Space usually publishes the following Tuesday.


Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, #980 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — To accept the idea that ‘this is the way things always were’ is an excuse, especially if you know the theme of your life is change. The question seems to be, will you take initiative, or are you expecting someone else to do it for you? I suggest you make your own decisions and initiate your own moves rather than expecting something in your environment will start the process. What you come up with will be a lot more interesting than what anyone else does, even if others talk louder. Just think your plan through a couple of times, especially if it’s work-related. Things are changing around you, and I suggest you see where they shake out over the next five or six days before doing anything too radical. The best idea will be a simple, easy-to-understand and, most of all, useful one.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Imagine that you visit an older relative you have not seen in years, and while you’re there you wander up to the attic. You see a trunk that seems to be for you, illuminated by the light from a small window, and you open it up. It’s full of artifacts from a century ago, stuff belonging to people to whom you’re related but who came through the planet decades before you. Old diaries, letters, newspaper cuttings, photographs, physical objects from life in the past, are all neatly, lovingly preserved in this trunk, and as you go gently through them, you figure out that they were indeed intentionally left for you. But who left it there? And how did they know you would find it? This is all a metaphor, and from a psychological point of view, you’re the one who has left a gift, an inheritance or a trousseau for yourself. There’s a lot in there, as will slowly become obvious over the next month or so.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Be careful not to take on the issues of others. You may be especially reactive over the next few days, especially if people around you are in an intense mood. I suggest you choose your influences and your company carefully, especially through the 24th. Don’t let anyone push you into any agreement, longterm or otherwise, that you don’t really want to make, no matter how infectious their enthusiasm or persuasion may be. Events of the next week or so will help you figure out where you really stand with yourself, and therefore, put the opinions and feelings of others into context. It is this context — remember the concept — that is essential to your making healthy decisions for yourself. You’re someone who is inclined to consider the wellbeing of others in the choices you make, so you don’t have to worry about that factor; at the moment, you cannot count on others to do so.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Keep your heart and mind open and you’ll be better able to receive what others are offering you in your intimate relationships. You may sense that there’s a lot to their feelings, and you may be hesitant about allowing yourself to experience that. Phobia about intimacy, and hesitation in matters of the heart, do little to foster your happiness. Every relationship experience requires taking a risk, though in truth most of that involves allowing yourself to be vulnerable. A little self-therapy on that topic would be a great place to start. Ask yourself what you fear, when it comes to getting close to someone you care about. Is it about hurting someone else? If so, how long can you keep that up for? Or is it about the way a relationship might change your life? You already know how you feel. You know what you want. That’s actually worth something.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You may have health matters on your mind, though I don’t suggest you stress about them; stress seems to be the problem. There’s also some missing information that will clarify matters considerably, and you won’t need to wait for long. I suggest that you strictly maintain a few guidelines, however. Make all your own decisions, based on what you know and understand. That’s another way of saying pay attention, take an active role and use what you know. Don’t succumb to anyone’s authority merely for its own sake or on the assumption that someone else must know more than you do. Your vitality is what helps you heal, grow and create your environment, and all three of those elements are interrelated. Your existence is holistic — part of an integrated whole, with each aspect influencing the others. You don’t need to treat symptoms, but rather, seek deeper understanding, shift your orientation and keep reminding yourself that everything is connected.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You seem to be experiencing boldness and hesitancy at the same time. The combination, if left unaddressed, could create delays and waste energy; there’s no point spinning your wheels to get nowhere. And you have plenty of places to go, and experiences you want to have. If you have any form of mixed feelings, take the elements in the mix one at a time and see what they are trying to tell you. See if you can notice your source. The self-assertiveness you’re feeling does indeed seem to be about you; the insecurity and hesitancy seems to be coming from somewhere else, perhaps even someone’s influence from the deep past. It would not vaguely surprise me if that turned out to involve another person’s religious baggage that was leaking into your environment. In plain terms, you don’t have to worry about what others will think. You don’t have to be pure or give the image of being ‘not a slut’ to project some kind of faux conservatism. What you feel is more meaningful than what anyone else thinks.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Venus, the planet traditionally associated with your sign, stations retrograde over the weekend. That’s a fairly rare event; no planet is retrograde less than Venus, though this event happens entirely in Capricorn, where Venus has not been exclusively retrograde since 1802. The next two months are a truly beautiful time to resolve old family issues, particularly on your father’s side of the family. The material may surface on its own; you may be aware of topics or themes that you’ve been brewing for a few years, which you’re now ready to address as a conscious choice. Please use this time well. Nothing like it will happen again for years to come. For you, making peace with the past also means understanding what happened, why it happened, and how it influenced you. Nobody is going to hand you easy answers, but you are eminently capable of putting the pieces together. Take your time; be both careful and intuitive.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You’ve got to let some of this pressure off. It seems as if you think you’re supposed to feel a certain way in certain situations, as if the ‘correct’ emotional tone were prescribed in advance. This extends to your opinions about things and the specific way you’re supposed to think. None of this is valid; much of the pressure is your attempt to respond to the illusion that it might be. I suggest you question that assumption, and consider the possibility that it has a source. Once you make the decision to express yourself rather than suppress yourself, you will feel less depressed, more alive, and more in control of your life. You may feel that to do those things, you have to change your whole way of thinking, though it’s easier and subtler than you were told, especially with the kind of cosmic support you have right now.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.



Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Consider carefully the influence you have on someone close to you — you’re a much more potent force than you may imagine. That includes on individual people and also on your total environment. You may be going through so much interesting, intense, strange or curious inner movement that you may not be noticing how it’s radiating out into the world around you. Take the time to get some feedback from others about what they perceive about you. Open up the space for a dialog and put more energy into listening than into speaking. Trust that people already get what’s on your mind. You will learn a lot from what they have to say and from slowing down enough to get a sense of what they are feeling. While this theme is focused right now, it’s going to be a recurring theme for the next two or three seasons. So, take a deep breath.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — The sky is now focused on your sign. The Sun makes its annual return to Capricorn on Saturday (the southern solstice), and just a few hours later, Venus stations retrograde in your sign. This is a combination of factors that are likely to ignite your passion, help you focus your energy and feel how strong, loving and creative you can be. The reason you can be these things is because you are them already, so this is really a matter of emphasis, and of bringing out what is already inside you. I suggest, in that spirit, that you remove as many encumbrances on your time and energy as you can for the next few weeks. Make room for yourself. Take time to reflect and to appreciate who you have become and what you’ve created for yourself. This will be a meaningful time of reflection that will have the power to shape the course of your life.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You seem to be asking yourself some deep questions about a relationship, and about the meaning of all intimate partnerships. This is not a fleeting inquiry but rather a crux point where you are finally getting to the heart of the matter. These questions involve whether you’re able to fully express your emotional needs, what kinds of commitment you’re comfortable with, and the role of marriage in your life. There is the ever-present question of negotiating your independence. This is a moment to consider all of your reasoning around the concept of permanence, and the way that it influences your emotional climate. There is also the not-so-small matter of how and why resources are exchanged. What falls under the category of an obligation, what do you feel is taken from you, what is a fair exchange and what is freely given? Once you have unpacked these subjects, you’ll find it a lot easier to relate to others in a way that is fair, and that you understand.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Take advantage of excellent opportunities to expand your income the next few weeks, beginning immediately. You already know of some prospects; there are others you have not thought of, and still others that you came up with and set aside or forgot about. You may find it easier now than ever to cast off any doubts or misgivings you have over the so-called profit motive, which you can replace with the elemental fact that your work and your ideas have value and worth to the people who get the benefits. However, you don’t even need to go there; it still has the feeling of an excuse. Look at your life, size up your resources, consider what you’re capable of doing and decide what you want to do. Develop a strategy that you adapt as necessary, but use as a guideline. In worldly terms, this should involve income for work and services provided, how to efficiently handle debt and tax-related matters, and an overall business plan. Get competent help when you need it.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


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