The Perfect Crisis of Individuality

Dear Friend and Reader:

This week we are experiencing stand-out astrology involving Venus and Mars, synchronous with an historic conversation about the public’s involvement in personal choices reaching the California Supreme Court — Proposition 8. That, of course, is the ongoing saga over whether same-sex couples should have the same relationship rights as opposite-sex couples. Last November, California voters approved the referendum banning same-sex marriage, spurred on by a campaign heavily funded by the Mormon Church.

Planet Waves
A Proposition 8 supporter, who did not want to be identified, prays while the California State Supreme Court listens to arguments over the constitutionality of Proposition 8. Photo by Paul Chinn/The Chronicle.

With Proposition 8, we have numerous deep, intriguing questions. For example, why is it a matter of public policy what kinds of intimate relationships people have? What would drive anyone to organize politically against individuals making a choice in their home lives? Does the public have a right to intervene, and if so, on what basis? Why do heterosexuals have the right to marry in the first place? If this struggle is about people being uncomfortable with the existence of gays and lesbians as full-fledged human beings, then what exactly is homophobia?

In case you’re inclined to think this is an issue affecting only queer folk, consider that anytime the state invades someone’s bedroom it could be anyone’s bedroom. We might ask how the government got past the front door.

If we look at the current astrology, we can see how personal this really is, because Venus and Mars are directly involved. The quick-moving inner planets are easy to feel and often get mixed up on the level of our personalities, desire nature and relationship experiences. Venus and Mars help us sort out the various shades of gender identity as an inner experience. Thursday, the day of oral arguments before California’s highest court, Mars made an exact conjunction to Chiron in Aquarius. Mars pulls together all things male, yang, assertive and warrior-like. Chiron is a relatively new planet (discovered in 1977) whose themes include individuality, awareness and the process of drawing strength from any healing process. They represent the two clearest archetypes of male warrior energy available.

Mars-Chirin aspects to me talk about the compromises that are put onto maleness at this time in history; men have few places they can actually be and exist as the wild things we are, at heart. We must be coated with civility at nearly all times, and are being feminized by both cultural expectations and environmental conditions (including chemicals).

Alternately, men are also seen as predators, even though we have ever fewer opportunities to hunt. But we still bear the stigma, and it is true that much of the time, sex is ‘blamed on’ men and the monster in their pants.

Put Chiron and Mars together and you can have a revolution. In Aquarius, this occurs in a region associated with ideas, science and developments in thought. Clearly we could use a few of those right now. Aquarius also reminds us this is a public conversation, one that (apropos of Chiron’s presence there) is long overdue. We have an excellent example of how Aquarius is about the struggle between individuality and what a collective body thinks it can do to make an individual conform to the rules. Chiron is stirring up this particular pot.

Planet Waves
Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace, 1770. Painting by Louis-Jean-Francois Lagrenee.

Then there is Venus, a planet associated with all things female, receptive, emotionally sensitive and most of all, valuable. Today (Friday), Venus stations retrograde in Aries, the sign with the keywords “I Am.” Retrogrades are about internal inquiries, and Venus in Aries is the perfect image to represent the question of how we feel about ourselves. I dare say this is sensitive territory. Most of us have mixed feelings in the matter of ourselves, and there is a wide swath of confusion where, for example, self-esteem (held to be a good thing) and narcissism (held to be a bad thing) overlap and are, for many, indistinguishable.

Venus in Aries can be proud, self-centered and more inclined to use the personal resources of others than to give them back — and often she will on some level feel entitled to do so.

Turn Venus retrograde in Aries and you can have an image of self-doubt, guilt, shame and embarrassment — shadow attributes of selflove or self-adulation (which can exist whether Venus is direct or not, and which show up many other ways in astrology). The moment of Venus stationing retrograde in Aries is like putting something into the scales of the love/hate relationship so many people on our planet have with themselves. The relationship can be so uncomfortable it’s stashed under the bed, keeping company with the dust bunnies and porno magazines. When that happens, it comes out in strange ways. I think that one of those ways is homophobia.

When one person gets freaked out, grossed out or tries to control the homosexuality of another person, we are walking around right inside this territory, but it is a communal issue as much as it is a personal one. Even if we’re not gay, homosexuality evokes the question of how we feel about ourselves. The physical and emotional field of a same-sex partner is, presumably, more similar to our own than that of an opposite-sex partner, so there is a sameness being explored.

If someone looks outside oneself at that and says, “how terrible,” that is a comment about how that person feels about his or her own existence. I think you would need to feel pretty disgusted with yourself before you told someone else how they can and cannot have a relationship with another person, and this is the drama we are seeing come to a head right now. Homo means same, and you are as close as it gets to yourself. I define homophobia as fear of self.

Venus retrograde in Aries gives us a chance to take the elevator down into the deepest feelings we have about our own existence. The process goes on for about six weeks, though this one has a special twist: Venus retrogrades back about 15 degrees and lands in the very last degree of Pisces, where it stays for about one week before re-entering Aries. This looks like a breakthrough; it’s the image of going deeper and deeper into self-awareness (Aries) and coming out in a collective place (Pisces).

Planet Waves
Chiron and Achilles in a fresco from Herculaneum, an ancient Roman town in the region of Campania.

Aries represents the ultimate boundary: the definition of self in contrast to the existence of everything around us. Pisces is either the place before ego boundaries, or it dissolves them and draws individual consciousness into the collective cosmic waters. So as Venus backtracks in Aries along the way to its investigations of self-concept and self, remember that it’s heading back to the headwaters — to a place beyond self. At the point of Venus stationing direct, we may experience a moment of seeing what it’s like to be just a little beyond these attachments; or to see them for what they are.

The last degree of Pisces is one of my favorites. Its Sabian symbol (or degree image) involves a boy seeing the shape of a face profiled in the side of a mountain, and as he grows older he begins to look like that face. It is the degree where we get to visualize who and what we want to be; how we want to feel; what we want to do. It is about seeing and taking an example. Venus in this degree is the perfect culmination of the retrograde; we go from questioning self to asserting some creative authority over who we are, or rather, being ultra-receptive to who we might become.

Other aspects make this particular Venus retrograde really interesting. Toward the end of the retrograde, on April 3, Venus backs into a square with Pluto in Capricorn. Squares, particularly involving Pluto, have a way of compelling self-inquiry and soul-searching. Venus in Aries, so busy trying to figure itself out, meets the unstoppable hormonal power and evolutionary engine of Pluto. If I had to translate this, I would say: the ultimate emotional or erotic submission is to oneself. However we may try to seduce, embrace or control another, we can really only do these things internally, though many relationships attempt to dramatize this externally.

For its part, Pluto in Capricorn is redefining the notion of corporate and government authority. We might encounter it as authority itself, or as the gradually heating-up drive to reorganize everything in the physical world, from banks to marriage. Those sensitive to this aspect will encounter Pluto in Capricorn as an internal force. That is to say, we get a moment to see that our whole authority complex — whether we take authority over others, or fear authority imposed over us — is a personal experience. If we work with our inner authority, we are a lot less susceptible to the authority of others, including the “subconscious” influences that our parents had over us (Capricorn theme).

Then for the next two weeks (April 3 to April 17), Venus keeps going backwards, over the Aries Point, the place in the horoscope where personal and collective experiences intersect — apropos of the place where Pisces meets Aries. Venus dips into the primal waters from which she emerged and really gets to be herself, before stationing direct on April 17 and making her way across Aries again. She makes another square to Pluto on May 2.

On May 20, Venus finishes crossing the degrees where she was retrograde (the end of ‘shadow phase’ or ‘echo phase’) and enters new territory again — interestingly, while making an exact conjunction with the Moon. But we are a little ahead of ourselves: the month of May is an incredible time, which I will come back to soon enough. That is when we have not only my favorite holiday, Beltane, but the triple conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune.

Planet Waves
An outdoor exhibition of Nightmare Quilt (1989). Project by Beverly Naidus.

Let’s come back another planet with an Aries connection, Mars, which as we know is conjunct Chiron in Aquarius. Mars in Aquarius takes the story of the individual drama (Aries) and places it in a collective realm (Aquarius, the sign of All Of Us Here). Mars in this sign illustrates the ongoing tension between an individual and the people around him involved in being oneself, versus being who others expect us to be. Mars represents individual desire. Prop 8 is a nifty picture of society attempting to define who and what an individual is supposed to be.

Chiron has been in Aquarius for about four years, doing much the same thing that Mars is doing now, only on a deeper level. Chiron in Aquarius is a long, dragged-out process of an entire society finding its sense of existence, one person at a time, and in collective ways. Prop 8 itself is one example of this; the election of Barack Obama is another. Groups of people are beginning to find their voices in a clearly visible way that is oriented on healing. Note that it does not always feel this way — only at “special” times. If you think every day is special that will be annoying to you, but let it remind you that waking up is possible.

Add Mars to Chiron and we can suddenly feel this process viscerally. A lot of people don’t notice Chiron, but it’s suddenly impossible to miss when you add Mars. Or rather, the question implied is impossible to miss: what is this thing we call a “self” that is the source of so much drama, controversy and expenditure of energy, in the actual context of everything else? Chiron has a way of getting down to the existential level. Mars conjunct Chiron is like saying: Okay, I suddenly realize I exist. Now what?

Or: Wow, I am noticing that I barely notice I exist. I feel invisible. I need to assert myself in life, but I have no clue what I am exerting, or how it feels to anyone else. Mars conjunct Chiron can evoke the existential injury — that compromised sense of existence; then we might feel compelled to do something about it. Aquarius presents a complicated question, because it immediately implies existing in the context of so many people and patterns, and most of these want us to be just like they are, which you could sum up as unaware. So the struggle is one of self-awareness versus all the collective forces that are designed to get us to forget, forget, forget (advertising, negative news reports, petty self-obsession).

Mars to Chiron (and soon, conjunct Neptune) implies that Mars is acting in a full-spectrum way usually thought of as being the domain of Venus. It’s as if the Self implied by Mars opens up to all its senses and psychic faculties and tries to perceive the world as it is, and experiences existence itself as a relationship: to oneself, to other, to life, to a creative process. This sounds like what used to be called Getting Real.

If you ask me, we’re in a fine time for this particular adventure.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis



The Terrible Majesty of Not Knowing
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

There’s something interesting going on in the mortal mind; you may have noticed and wondered what it means. I’ve received jokes in my inbox these last few days accompanied by notes that say, “I don’t know why this is funny but I roared.” I’ve gotten Republican screeds that should have spun me up in righteous indignation but instead, made me laugh until I squirted tears.

Planet Waves
Mirror. Painting by Susan Madsen.

Friends and readers have reported that daily reviews of cataclysmic news has them distressed on some primal level, yet feeling cheerful for reasons as yet unfathomable. Challenges that might have made me despondent and depressed in decades past have presented themselves, given me a brief and anxious moment, and then quickly become just another item on my quarrelsome little “To Do” list.

If you want perspective about your personal woes, look into the lives of those around you; that has more punch today than at anytime I remember. The old saw about crying because we have no shoes only to discover the person with no feet takes on new perspective as we look around us today. Someone who has, regrettably, lost a large percentage of their investments is still infinitely better off than those who are without a job and healthcare or who have surrendered their home to the bank.

Perhaps we’re not taking so much for granted these days; finding our inner gratitude. Life’s soap opera has become our daily fare — and with it has come a kind of insulation that provokes good humor and laughter? Wickedly Divine, that.

Economic factors obsess us. Not so long ago, Bush’s war was the touchstone of resistance for the progressive movement; yet this week, as Obama announced all the troops out of Iraq by 2011, that news didn’t even make the headlines in many papers. Our economic situation, rightly, not only resonates our old acquaintance with Third Chakra survival issues but vibrates the Plutonian signature of the coming transformation of power and responsibility.

The Washington Post’s EJ Dionne, who wrote an article on the President’s plan to rewrite our social contract and adjust distribution of wealth in a badly unbalanced nation, displayed an awareness of metaphysical reality in this statement: “Our political system adjusts badly when the familiar landmarks erected during controversies of the past are swept away and prepackaged arguments become obsolete.”

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Coming Up in Daily Astrology and Adventure


We Were All Nearly Killed This Week

It really would have sucked, but fortunately it didn’t happen.

Planet Waves
Barringer Crater on Earth. Photo by D. Roddy.

Buzzing by at 12 miles per second, the space rock known as 2009 DD45 passed within cosmic spitting distance of the Earth on Monday. The Near Earth Object (NEO) was discovered last week by Australian astronomers, and was easily tracked by NASA and others as it flew past Earth. In the past, asteroids were harder to follow, but advances in technology made 2009 DD45 as predictable as the order you put on your socks.

Computer World, our leading experts on random technological information that we don’t really need to know about, explains: “All of the data collected about the asteroid was fed into a program running on a Dell server running eight processors and Unix software. The program, called Sentry, used all the information to automatically make calculations about the asteroid’s path, its proximity to Earth and impact probabilities.”

All told, the NEO was about the same height above our satellites as the satellites are to the Earth. When it passed Tahiti at 13:44 Universal Time, 2009 DD45 was only one-fifth the distance to the Moon. It measured between 69 and 154 feet across.

These types of space rock fly-bys are surprisingly common, and many asteroids simply burn up in our atmosphere. In fact, an asteroid did just that about a century ago. On June 30, 1908 an asteroid of similar proportion to 2009 DD45 hit Earth: it broke into pieces before making impact, but the largest piece leveled trees in Siberia for 840 square miles.

In case you weren’t in Tahiti for DD45’s nighttime passage, you may get a second chance. Because its orbit is in an orbit that intersects Earth’s, DD45 may swing by again. Stay tuned.


Utah Residents Are A Bunch Of Wankers: But Not On Sundays

What do you get when you mix Mormons, a virgin porn czar and a high-speed Internet connection? The most voracious consumers of subscription porn in the country.

Planet Waves
Result number two when one Googles “naughty.” Utah’s citizens, according to Google Trends, is first in the nation in searches for “naughty,” “pornography,” “naked girls,” “striptease,” “topless,” “nude” and “strip poker.”

The Winter 2009 edition of the Journal of Economic Perspectives published some intriguing research from Benjamin Edelman of Harvard’s School of Business [click here for the pdf]: In four different measurements analyzing broadband Internet connections and subscriptions to Internet porn, Utah’s residents are the number one purchasers of online subscriptions.

High consumption of Internet porn seems to be directly related to the level of social restrictions: states that ban gay marriage and are more conservative are more likely to watch heaps of porn. The Beehive State in particular (named for bees, not the hairdo) has duplicity down to a science.

Utah’s vocal about its opposition to pornography, and from 2001-2003 hired Paula Houston, a 41-year-old virgin, as Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman, aka Porn Czar. While the formal reason for ending the program was lack of funding, I’d venture a guess that the real reason was lack of chafing and increased use of two-handed typing.

Ms. Houston was a firm follower of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), whose headquarters are in Salt Lake City. The LDS’ stance on pornography is unequivocal: “Using pornographic material in any way is a violation of a commandment of God: ‘Thou shalt not…commit adultery…nor do anything like unto it’ (D&C 59:6). It can lead to other serious sins. Members of the Church should avoid pornography in any form and should oppose its production, distribution and use.”

While neither the Church nor the Porn Czar were able to stop Utah’s incessant watching and wanking, they did manage to slow it on Sundays. Mr. Edelman, author of the Internet porn study, explains: “on the whole, those who attend religious services shift their consumption of adult entertainment to other days of the week, despite on average consuming the same amount of adult entertainment as others.”


Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, March 6, 2009, #756 – By ERIC FRANCIS


Planet Waves

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Venus stations retrograde in your sign Friday. Though this has been warming up for months, events this week are likely to take you in a new direction of self-understanding. One question you might ask is why you experience so many doubts. Normally we try to bury them in the closet or under a few martinis. Your doubts are your best teacher right now, particularly if you are someone inclined to think that how another person feels about you should determine how you feel yourself. True, that is all of us to some degree, but there is something extra special about the way you are perceiving your value in a relationship at this particular moment: follow your doubts inward and you will reveal some core truth about yourself, long suppressed.

Read your 2008 annual for Aries. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Aries and Aries rising here.


Planet Waves

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Are you tired of being a prisoner of yourself? I hope so. Admit, if you need to, that when you feel free you’re really on a kind of work furlough, intended to meet a certain purpose. Lately you’ve been experiencing some enormous progresses in how you encounter the world; true confidence in how you play your role in life, and possibly even an unusual sense of mission. Following this will get you part of the way toward self-knowledge. Your imagination will get you the rest of the way. Your growth right now is less about doing what you are afraid to do and much more about thinking what you are normally afraid to think.

Read your 2008 annual for Taurus. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Taurus and Taurus rising here.


Planet Waves

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
You seem to be at the whim of your insecurities lately, no matter how exciting or ambitious you may feel: there is an emotional stumbling block. I would call it getting lost in the small stuff, which may mean lost in things from the past that keep coming up and preventing you from making progress. One clue I can offer is that in order to know how you feel, you don’t need to grasp it intellectually. The more intense your feelings, the more intense your analysis — which is entirely counterproductive. This involves your relationship to the past. Yes, there are some things we need to understand before we let go of them, but too often this is just a trap; an invitation to stay stuck.

Read your 2008 annual for Gemini. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Gemini and Gemini rising here.


Planet Waves

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
There comes a point where the opinions and cooperation of others matter only so much; you need to become the leader, which includes setting the terms of your relationships or at least starting the conversation. Many people around you are able to think of little other than their supposed financial concerns. This is one of the oldest time-wasters in history. I suggest you find people who have more exciting things on their minds. This is good for business; it’s good for creativity; it’s good for one’s social experience of life. Mostly, it is a sign of progress, of which there will be many in the next few weeks. That is, there will if you remember to keep it light and look for people with light in their eyes.

Read your 2008 annual for Cancer. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Cancer and Cancer rising here.


Planet Waves

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
You have a knack for seeing the good within the people who others judge harshly. You have your way of processing the negativity of others, of seeing their positive side, and it actually works. You may soon discover a problem or issue that someone close to you has been dragging around. This one may throw you a curve; though I would propose that in a few months it will seem like no big deal. Context is everything, and what you’re perceiving needs to be understood in its larger framework of life. All in all, this discovery and others you have made recently are part of what in retrospect you will see as one of the most fulfilling times in your relationship journey. And this, as you know, is about taking the bitter with the sweet.

Read your 2008 annual for Leo. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Leo and Leo rising here.


Planet Waves

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Don’t fall for a mistake you’ve made many times the past five years, which is that everyone else is liberated and open-minded and you are stuck in your ways. It is true that many factors are influencing you to take an even more conservative approach to life than usual. One of those is the fear of instability. Another is that you may lack a rational explanation (or solution) for the anxieties that weigh you down. People who are less enamored of fear and more willing to take a chance are making themselves known to you. You can just as easily make yourself known to them, and while you’re at it, I suggest you question why you would experience fear at all — especially of a person.

Read your 2008 annual for Virgo. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Virgo and Virgo rising here.


Planet Waves

Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)
What you learn about someone close to you this week will reveal something you need to know about yourself; something you’ve been wondering about for a long time. It is rare enough that other people can become a vector for our own self-understanding, and this is actually a prolonged experience you are embarking on now — a true journey of relationship. The thing to remember is that you have a vested interest in the outcome of things; and I would remind you that the outcome is neither set, nor predictable. Yet it does have one characteristic: it is subject to your visioning process, particularly of yourself.

Read your 2008 annual for Libra. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Libra and Libra rising here.


Planet Waves

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Finally, what is practical or sensible is starting to matter less; I think this involves your recently adopting a different notion of “progress” than the one you’ve used for so long. Notably, someone close to you is leading the way. The lesson here is that the independence and autonomy of others is not only not a bad thing, it’s essential for a healthy relationship. When others change or define growth on their own terms, we often react as if it’s going to be the worse for us. I suggest you trust these developments, and take the opportunity to guide events day to day only as far as making sure you are having fun; that would be progress.

Read your 2008 annual for Scorpio. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Scorpio and Scorpio rising here.


Planet Waves

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22)
A Sagittarius friend recently said that I keep commenting on ideas, ideas, ideas — and she’s still waiting for a good one. If you resonate with this thought, something is so obvious that you may be missing the point. Some ideas don’t seem to be worth much until we take a risk and get involved. The story of your life at this time is to go beyond potential and beyond concepts and engage yourself in what you value or believe in. I know that often it’s necessary to go through the motions for a while until you make the discovery of what really matters, and why. Other times there is the perception of a risk involved that we don’t understand. Work with your hands and your heart will follow.

Read your 2008 annual for Sagittarius. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Sagittarius and Sagittarius rising here.


Planet Waves

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Faith is not a technical issue; it involves suspending logic, though I would argue, applying discernment. Discernment that is liberated from rationality involves intuition on a level that few people would trust. They might say that logic dictated a certain course of action, or rather, avoiding one, but usually it’s about fear. What I’m getting at is that fear usually keeps us from doing the right thing more times than it helps us avoid the wrong one. There is a way of being that calls for exploring what makes you scared rather than dodging it, precisely to see what you were avoiding. And I don’t mean playing in traffic: I mean what is prudent enough, but makes you nervous anyway.

Read your 2008 annual for Capricorn. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Capricorn and Capricorn rising here.


Planet Waves

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Your life has been like a kaleidoscopic mix of desires, fears, possibilities and breakthroughs, and true to form they are all blended among one another. At times you may not be able to tell the difference between what you yearn for and what repulses you; what you love and what makes you angry; what you need and what you think is excessive or unnecessary. For once, the expression ‘it’s all good’ comes to mind, and you seem to be in a liberated enough place to have this actually be true. The essence of that idea is not that everything that happens is good but rather that you are willing to apply your creative spirit to interpreting life’s events and decision points.

Read your 2008 annual for Aquarius. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Aquarius and Aquarius rising here.


Planet Waves

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
This week’s Full Moon is a catch-up point for you: many things that have been delayed or waiting for their cue just offstage will make their entrance. You can count on activity building to a peak, followed by a few surprises — keep your plans flexible, and most of all stay in motion. You are about to connect with something larger than yourself, and larger than you’re accustomed to, and in some way it is about to connect with you. The central equation of your life right now is about balancing responsibility with freedom, and vice versa. The first thing to be aware of is that there is a relationship between the two. The second thing to be aware of is that if you work that relationship, there can be profound rewards, unattainable any other way.

Read your 2008 annual for Pisces. Order your Next World Stories 2009 annual for
Pisces and Pisces rising here.


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