What exactly aren’t you scared of?

Dear Friend and Reader:

As Saturn cleared the last degree of Virgo and made its ingress to Libra yesterday, I’ve been watching the world with extra curiosity; and I’ve been observing myself in the process of watching. It was a strange week, though I think that many of us have actually taken a step. Others are struggling. The pressure is on. Saturn is applying in a square to Pluto, which might feel like a crunch, like a system breakdown/rebuild, and/or a series of long overdue personal turning points showing up.

Planet Waves
Photo by Bliss for Book of Blue.

Square and opposition are among the aspects that say bend in the road. Pluto in Capricorn, for its part, is doing its best to revamp antiquated systems and will be doing so for a long time. It may not be pleasant as some of them are torn down. Note: we have never consciously lived through Pluto in Capricorn. The last time it was here (18th century) was before the discovery (1930).

Saturn, pushing on Pluto, is now ramping up this theme. In the spring, other mighty planets join the alignment in what I’ll be referring to here as the cardinal T-square. This is not your ordinary turn left at the light. We’re talking about various forms of personal and system overload, and the need to develop a new approach to dealing with it. The current popular approach is to shut down, often because no other options seem viable.

The Aries Point is involved, which suggests a series of personal intersections with large cultural subject matter. Saturn is now opposing the Aries Point and Pluto is square it. The problem with this notion of a contact point between the widest themes of society and the most private ones is that most of us don’t experience ourselves as part of anything bigger than ourselves. More often, we feel alienated from most of what is around us. We wonder often enough if we belong in our personal relationships, perhaps the most modest definition of ‘something larger than ourselves’.

It’s time to download the Let’s Get Deep app for your iPhone. We’re goin’ in.

Apropos of the phantom known as 2012, many have this lurking suspicion that something is up with society on the largest, deepest levels; stuff like banks closing and other big systems collapsing on themselves. As my readers know, I don’t subscribe to the stock up on tuna fish school of spirituality. There are plenty of theorists with websites working around the clock to scare you. I am here with a more grounded, psychologically meaningful approach to where growth and the news intersect.

Yesterday, I ended up on C-Span, watching a discussion in the US Senate about healthcare, and this makes a charming example. Follow along with me as I explore the metaphors. This is the ultimate Aries Point kind of thing: many people know there’s a problem because they are dealing with it personally, or know someone who is. For example, we’ve all met that person with supposedly good health coverage, whose carrier refuses to pay their medical bills.

What I learned from watching TV

I learned from watching C-Span that the 30% in so-called administrative costs of insurance companies is largely about them hiring people to fight off coverage claims. Medicare has only 3% administrative costs; that’s a big difference.

Planet Waves
Photo by Bliss for Book of Blue.

A former housemate and friend in Washington State was covered by a disability carrier that hired a private investigator in an attempt to prove that she didn’t deserve her payments. They secretly followed her around with a video camera for months, literally spying on her. The leading spy actually came to our door one afternoon a few years ago, and, incredulous that he didn’t have a business card or shield, I had to march him to the property line. They cut her off.

When I researched the issue, I discovered that particular carrier was involved in a massive fraud scam, documented by the courts. Don’t ask me how I do it, but it took a five minute Google search and a phone call to a paralegal somewhere. We were able to purchase a large box of depositions and supporting documents for the cost of copying, which detailed the outrageous conduct of the company from many prior lawsuits. My friend sued the company and won, at the usual incredible expense and effort; and the insurance company passed along its legal (i.e., administrative) costs to the other policyholders. You can be sure that many of their formerly insured who also got dumped rolled over and let it happen, and that the company profited wildly on this practice.

With this kind of scenario, individuals are experiencing the real and direct effects of what is called the free market. Under this system of economics, the role of consumers is largely to be exploited. Our job is to pay our bills and buy the next cool thing, whether it works or not, preferably purchasing online. The problem is that when these monster-sized free market enterprises fail, usually due to lack of regulation, greed and blatantly illegal conduct, they go right to the government for bailouts. They act like a big daddy in the fat times, but they just have his credit card; then we pay the bill. So it’s only free market up to the point that it’s advantageous for the free marketeer. It’s like the rich man’s son becoming president.

Speaking of. During the healthcare discussion, the war in Afghanistan came to the forefront of the national conversation, where it currently remains. This is supposedly not a personal issue, unless you have a loved one serving, or unless you have a deep concern about global affairs. In the current social climate, the first possibility is the more likely, and this war has gone on largely unnoticed for seven years at incredible expense. There are currently calls to increase troop levels, the violence has been escalating in recent weeks, and there has been lots of talk about what it will take to “win the war.” As I listen to John McCain give his mealy-mouthed victory pep talks, I’m having flashbacks to my Vietnam War history class at university.

Planet Waves
Burning Man mailbox. Photo by Eric Francis.

Now for the reality check. Does everyone remember how eagerly we sought revenge after the Sept. 11 incident? Do you remember how that surge of individual/collective fear was used to manipulate us into believing anything that anyone with an agenda wanted? [Here is the first Planet Waves article written after Sept. 11, called Hold On World.] That opened the way to all of this war. Both wars have turned out to be endless quagmires without an actual military agenda, and incidentally, we are the latest of many empires to attempt to invade Afghanistan. (The one before us was the mighty USSR. Before that was the former British Empire.) Osama bin Laden, our supposed enemy in Afghanistan who started as a CIA employee during the USSR War, was never caught, and is not even wanted in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. Take a moment and look at his FBI most wanted terrorist page. We knew enough to invade a country because of him, but he’s not even listed as connected to that event? Be careful not to fall off your chair.

Note that Sept. 11 was an Aries Point event that came at the time of the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001 — and is directly connected to developments now, at the time of the square.

Gradually, through 2002, the Bush administration convinced just about everyone we needed to invade Iraq as well. As I wrote in 2001, “Beware: the enemy is likely to switch at some point.” (This and a lot else is in the Sept. 11 chart.)

They told us about mushroom clouds and chemical weapons and women’s rights (in Iraq), and the United States invaded with great fanfare and barbecues and support our troops bumper stickers; and yes, a bit of protest. Bush declared mission accomplished on May 1, 2003. However, the United States is currently spending in range of $10 billion to $12 billion per month on these two fraudulent wars.

The current total cost is nearly $926 billion and counting fast (the link takes you to a rather disturbing cost counter). Most of the money is borrowed. It will have to be paid back with interest. That will double the cost. We’re talking about close to $1 trillion in principle alone. New Yorkers alone have spent more than $83 billion in federal debt and taxes on these wars. Remember, somebody got this money — companies like Blackwater, Boeing and Halliburton, and every bank that processes the funds and all the bondholders, all of whom profit. Hey, it’s a “free market” so they have the right. Then there’s the body count. Borrowing from the Yes Men, these are all golden skeletons in the closet — the cost not of freedom but of profits.

Planet Waves
Things were already unraveling for Charles Ponzi when he posed confidently for photographers in his office in August 1920. Photo: Wikipedia/Boston Public Library.

Of course we “can’t afford” healthcare. There are many who believe that these wars were designed to make sure that the agenda of increasing military spending and cutting social services was permanently encrypted as a national priority, no matter who was in power. The Republican Party could pack its bags and move to Tahiti and we would still be pouring money into these wars, with bodies coming home, for untold years.

Then came the bank bailout, which was really a payout to enormous businesses that had previously gambled away our savings and pensions — the great Ponzi scheme in the sky. By some estimates, this too actually cost close to $1 trillion (not the usual trademark figure of $700 million).

What is the solution? Swine flu. Lots and lots of anxiety, millions and millions of ‘vaccinations’, billions and billions of dollars into the pockets of big business.

This is all coming home to roost, right on time, as Saturn squares Pluto. But as we all know, this aspect is affecting many people personally; it is saying time is up on many deferred matters of growth, change and adjustment.

Really, Really Personal: The Fear Factor

Overwhelmed? Of course you are. You have SO much else on your mind; so many other cares, you cannot deal with this. We are so overwhelmed that many, many people are in a state of nearly constant anxiety, which leads to paralysis. And that is precisely how this all happens. We are so consumed and even overwhelmed by our own lives that it’s very nearly impossible to care about anything more. That is the plan. It’s worked before: one of the little remembered psychological tactics of the Nazis was, you have so much to worry about. That’s okay, the experts will take care of the bigger stuff.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis for Book of Blue.

Just like we don’t usually connect the lack of funding for real social priorities with massive military expenditures, we don’t connect our personal lives with what is happening in the wide world. Yet think about how many people are medicated for panic, anxiety, social phobia and depression. That presumes a state of overwhelm; and medicated overwhelm is not generally the place from which anyone is going to care much about the world; it would only make matters worse. We feel fortunate to get through the day, these days.

Even those who are not officially in the anxiety disorder league have lots to worry about: thoughts of money are only a source of fear for most people. What’s going to happen with your kids, or your parents?

Sex is typically associated with diseases, rape, heartbreak and loss of power. Going in the woods is associated with ticks. Half of the teenagers on the road are texting while driving; many older people are doing so as well. Heck, I can’t even text when I’m not driving. Six thousand people were killed last year by this practice, and tens of thousands were injured. Numerous drivers are otherwise drunk or impaired. Someone lost in their own world might ram into yours.

If you get sick or injured, your health insurance might not cover you, if you even have any — and stress is associated with plenty of illnesses.

For those with the luxury of having goals, there can be significant fear about how, exactly, we’re going to get anywhere with any of them. Many are filled with the feeling that they missed the boat on life. We’re reminded every time we see all these young upstarts on television, particularly the ones hauling in millions on limited talent.

Then there are the long-term issues. Have we really addressed the matters of growth that are constantly lurking beneath our lives? Have we done the therapy we need, or addressed those longstanding family issues? Some people are more devoted to this than are others; many people are really freaking out. Saturn to Pluto is a get-serious, grow-up moment. Many will hear the calling, and claim responsibility for their lives, perhaps for the first time. In such situations, the inner pressure may be pretty intense or disconcerting.

Others will give up, again. It’s an easy time to bury one’s head in the sand, waiting for the fear to pass and for everything to get back to normal.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis for Book of Blue.

I would ask: what exactly aren’t you scared of right now? What is the one place you feel confident in yourself? What can you really laugh at? That’s a possible clue for what you’re not afraid of.

The place or space where you feel no fear, or where you are willing to confront your fear, is the place to start your process of getting out of this mess — which I believe is on many levels a mental and emotional trap. That space where you’re not afraid may be where you connect with something about yourself that you can offer to others; simple generosity.

Or you may want to take it from the other direction: what are you the most frightened of? What’s the most paralyzing thing that you experience? That may be what you need to give a voice to, and confront; the gesture that will prove to you that you can set yourself free, one step at a time. The thing with fear is, it’s one thing to experience it, and it’s another thing to cocoon oneself in it as a place of ‘safety’ or refuge from life — where in one is protected from having to take risks; from having to face challenges; from having to really feel. Yet all this insistence on being a certain way because one is basically scared of everything is to do precisely that. Simply put, fear is often a lame excuse and little more.

Human awareness has two functions: to open awareness, or shut it down. Moment to moment, we are confronted by this one simple choice. I know that often it may not feel so simple. Yet the times we are living through demand that we be strong, present for our own lives, and available to the people around us, many of whom are in difficult shape. We need flexibility and willingness to change. We need the actual willingness to grow, which means parting with the ways of the past on a deeper level than ever.

Last, we need to be honest with ourselves, which is another way of saying opening awareness and witnessing what comes through.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis
PS, following up from last week. This week I’ve been hosting the post-movie discussion for the Yes Men at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, NY. One story I’ve been telling is that of the psychological study that determined what laughter is about. Why do people laugh? What does funny mean? I don’t have a cite reference, but here’s what I remember: the researchers determined that where laughter is present, people are no longer afraid. That’s one of my latest Yes Men theories: that they go into the belly of the beast, and laugh, and remind everyone not to be so scared when confronting serious issues.

This week the Yes Men were sued for the first time, by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Here’s why that was a stupid move: check out the lead in this CBS News story about the lawsuit: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is suing the Yes Men, activist group that fooled several media outlets into reporting that the chamber had changed its position on climate change legislation. Meanwhile, pressure continues to mount against the business lobbying group for its opposition to the legislation.”

How about that — they got it right. It’s not about the Yes Men, it’s about climate change, and every time this story runs it’s putting more pressure on the Chamber to take a realistic position on climate change.


Saturn Through the Signs

The Sun is square Mars, from Scorpio to Leo. Saturn has just entered Libra; after a retrograde back into Virgo in the spring, it will re-enter Libra on July 21, staying for the full 30 months. So while this is not the ‘permanent’ ingress, it’s one of just two times Saturn will walk past the Libra cardinal point in direct motion. The combination of a hot Sun-Mars aspect at the same time Saturn is on the brink feels like getting pushed over a cliff and hoping you can fly. There is something here about being your hottest, most raging self at the same time as you are trusting that you are grounded in your relationships. This is all about trust, in a daring, high-energy moment. It is not necessary to live your life as a religion based on your fears.

Planet Waves
The orbiting Cassini Spacecraft snapped this sweet shot of Saturn along with its largest moons (Titan, lower left, Rhea, upper right). Photo & Credit: NASA.

The Sun is conjunct Ceres, the minor planet that stands in for Mother Earth: she addresses nutrition, mothering, what mothers go through and what painful psychological material they convey to their daughters in particular; but also to their sons. Sun-Ceres also tells us about mother’s relationship to father, and in Scorpio, the sexual relationship of mother to father.

Ceres is a planet worth watching in an age where food is such a focus (from the whole supersize thing to mad cow to food lacking nutrients to why so many are so fat to why so many are anorexic to why food is used by many as a substitute for sex or to suppress grief). Ceres is vital in understanding the complex nexus of material that connects mothers and daughters — perhaps the relationship in society most urgently in need of investigation. Any woman wondering why she is not free would do well to look to her relationship with her mother, and her Ceres placement, for more information.

Let’s stick to Saturn today and trace the story over the past 14 years, since this is now the halfway point of Saturn’s trip through the signs. See if you can follow the progressions of your life. In case you’re thinking, “I don’t know enough astrology,” this is exactly how you learn the stuff. At lunch, print this list and take a survey of a couple of coworkers and ask them if the dates mean anything. Then you’re really being an astrology detective.

Saturn entered Aries on April 7, 1996 (one ingress. It returns to Aries in May of 2025). Saturn on the Aries Point is the beginning of a long cycle of history. Note, many cycles run concurrently.

Saturn entered Taurus on June 9, 1998 and on Feb. 28, 1999. Saturn was in Taurus for the grand cross/total solar eclipse of Aug. 1999 and the Clinton impeachment. This was the Neocon revolution going into overdrive. Saturn in Taurus is about values. We ran into serious issues with values at this time and have not really recovered.

Saturn entered Gemini on Aug. 9, 2000. and again on April 21, 2001. Saturn was in Gemini for the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and was indeed opposite Pluto for that event. That was the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001-2002. When you think of Saturn in Gemini, think Saturn = structure, Gemini = twins, opposite Pluto = something happens propagated by fundamentalism (including fundamentalist conservatism) = Sept. 11, 2001.

Saturn entered Cancer on June 2, 2003. This was a one-time ingress. It was in Cancer for the re-election of George Bush and Dick Cheney, conjunct many planets in Bush’s chart and square many of his planets in Libra. (Personally, Saturn crossed my ascendant and I moved to Europe for nearly four years.)

Saturn entered Leo on July 16, 2005. This was a one-time ingress. Saturn in Leo is exactly opposite Chiron in Aquarius at the time of the ingress. Neptune is also in Aquarius, and the Saturn-Neptune opposition that summer is the astrology we think of when Hurricane Katrina comes to mind. For some very strange reason, Saturn in Leo is associated with dams bursting. Michele, my assistant in Paris at the time, researched this like a lunatic, finally she came up for air and announced: When Saturn is in Leo, burst. We got half a lick of credit for predicting Katrina and the levees in New Orleans, from that.

Saturn entered Virgo on Sept. 7, 2007. This was a one-time ingress. While in Virgo, Saturn makes a series of oppositions to Uranus in Pisces; this is the banking crisis.

Saturn enters Libra on Oct. 29 and July 11. In the process it makes a square to Pluto — the first of three squares to Pluto is exact Nov. 15 [corrected – I originally said the 17th]. If you notice from this list, something happens every time that Saturn aspects an outer planet, but the odd thing is, it seems to be manipulated. Most of those turning points are what you might call manmade. But except for man himself, what is not?

Saturn leaves Libra and enters Scorpio on Oct. 5, 2012, where it will be for the infamous by presumed reputation winter solstice of 2012. This is a one-time ingress.


The Seventh Generation
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Nothing says Fall like the sweet, shivering anticipation of Halloween when swarms of youngsters collide with one another in search of treats across American neighborhoods. For the young ones, there’s the thrill of hiding behind a carefully prepared costume, walking the dark, shadowed streets with a flashlight and pillowcase, ready to reap a killing in yummy stuff and get a peek into other people’s houses. It’s a celebration of chaos and excess, approved greed and semi-danger that seizes the imagination of children everywhere and, at least for one evening, welcomes the safely-gelded terrors of mock murder and mayhem, monsters and supernatural possibilities that go thump in the night. It’s Sun in Scorpio with a big chocolate-coated grin.

Planet Waves
Trick or treat? Digital collage by Noise Collusion.

Halloween has changed a good bit since I was a kid. In those Long Gone Days, we were let off our leash entirely since most parents knew their neighborhoods and their neighbors and sternly advised us whom to avoid. Now, conscientious parents walk with their kids or go in groups, avoiding those houses that they’re not sure of and scooting them past the dark hulks of homes sadly foreclosed. The fear of treats tainted by LSD or razor blades is mostly behind us, but prudent parents advise their young not to eat anything until they get home, where the candy can be dumped out and properly assessed. Items not entirely sealed and the occasional homemade goodie are carefully scrutinized and probably tossed. What was once a kind of primal, spontaneous celebration of season, as well as a delicious echo of the Old Religion, has become a holiday industry reaping millions if not billions that has its own rules of engagement and is frowned upon by churches that see all things that celebrate Earth as an assault on faith. The all-knowing Evangelicals apparently have the inside scoop: Jesus would never, ever trick-or-treat.

In the Old Days, we got to wear our costumes to school and parade around so everyone could admire them; now you can’t, for reasons of security and, in some areas, acceptable attire. Moms would send in homemade treats for rollicking class parties; now they can’t, unless they’re store-bought and blister wrapped, duly authenticated as safe. I’m sure that as all this micro-management of our children’s safety became customary, there were parents who mourned the limitations being imposed on this free-wheeling childhood tradition, and yet, should they think about it for any protracted period, they might be a little more concerned for the season itself and the very Earth essence it represents. The danger to their children has little to do with psychotic cupcake-poisoners and more to do with climate change. As a bonus, all the plastic wrappers and disposable paraphernalia of this holiday really DO go thump in the night. Increasingly toxic seas and landfills burgeoning with our debris are more of a tragic trick than a treat.

Planet Waves DailyComing Up in Daily Astrology and Adventure

Panel Comes Down Hard On NASA

The Augustine Panel, tasked by President Obama to thoroughly review NASA’s programs and mission, issued its final report last week and, as Space News reported, no punches were pulled. Yet the discussion pushed the open door to private space travel a lot wider, since that will be the only option in the United States. Who knows if the free marketeers weren’t behind this one.

Planet Waves
Norman Augustine, left, chairman of a presidential review of manned space options, and panel member Edward Crawley, right, brief reporters Thursday. Photo & Credit: NASA.

In a nutshell: The Constellation manned space flight program, designed to be the successor to the Space Shuttle program that shuts down next year, isn’t sustainable under the current budget and plan.

What does that mean, exactly? That the panel, composed of independent experts on space flight and technology, doesn’t think NASA will have Constellation ready for manned flights until 2017 — which might be after the International Space Station is decommissioned, unless its budget is extended. And even if that happens, the Constellation program would subsequently be delayed two more years because it would lose funding in favor of the ISS.

So, is that it? Is manned space flight over for another generation, or longer? Not necessarily.

The option is to throw the gauntlet down to private enterprise — a “private option,” in contrast with Washington’s current debate over a “public option” — and allow non-governmental entities to service the ISS (along with the ongoing Russian Soyuz program) while NASA works toward a long-term goal of putting people back on the Moon and going to Mars. It’s part of a so-called “flexible path,” one of the options the panel presented to NASA.

There’s a price tag even if part of NASA’s mission is surrendered to private contractors, of course. The panel recommended plumping NASA’s budget by $3 billion per year to help meet even the scaled-back goals its members saw as realistic. In their vision, the space agency would also pick alternate targets that might make for easier landings, such as the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, or large asteroids like Ceres.

However blunt and rational their assessments, it’s clear that the Augustine panel — named for chairman Norman Augustine, a former Under Secretary of the Army and an aerospace businessman — is optimistic that America’s future does include some kind of manned space program, as evinced by the title of their final report: “Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation.”

The full text of the report can be downloaded here.


Happy Samhain, Sahwen, All Hallows Eve and Halloween

When you were just a kid, Oct. 31 was pretty simple: It was the night you put on a costume and collected candy from the neighbors.

Planet Waves
Typical Halloween scene in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Wikipedia.

Of course, like every other major holiday on our calendar, Halloween means much more than that. Built on the ancient Celtic tradition of Samhain co-opted by the Romans first and later by Christianity, it’s now accorded one of the highest honors of modern society.

Its own retail season.

Even with a third of consumers expecting to cut back on purchasing for the holiday this year, the Chicago Tribune reports that some $4.75 billion should be spent on what has become, by some reckoning, this nation’s second-most-popular (and profitable) holiday after Christmas — which also shares similar pagan roots, but that’s another post.

So what has this buying frenzy, and the associated parties and trick-or-treating, to do with the old Samhain rituals surrounding the end of their year? Well, quite a bit, from the tradition of Druids wearing animal skins during ceremonies (costumes); to the Romans tagging on a festival for the goddess of fruits and trees (bobbing for apples).

True, a lot of that is speculative. But what’s clear is that Halloween has touched something deep in the American psyche. Perhaps the fact it offers a ritualistic and publicly accepted opportunity to shed for one night the lingering Puritan roots of our society and turn loose the inner self, to embrace abandon and celebrate the fact that we like to celebrate. Change who you are for a single evening. Mingle with the dead and the famous and the fictional. Give out loot like you were a pirate king (and to the most appreciative of all recipients, children). Deny reality with little or no consequence, depending on how much alcohol you imbibe at your All Hallows Party.

In short, embrace the unknown. That’s what Samhain was about, the night the Celts held that spirits of the dead could pass over the barrier between worlds and bring with them the mysteries of what lies beyond the grave. Modern Halloween shares that love of mystery and lets us indulge in it, if only for a night.


Looking Up and Looking Down

A picture. You know what’s it;s worth. Once upon a time, newspapers and magazines (remember LIFE?) were the main conduit of powerful images to our homes. However, even with newspapers folding and magazine circulation stagnating, it has never been easier to get astonishing photographs in front of people, thanks to the Internet. Throw the heavens into the mix, as both subject and platform for photographers, and you get some amazing stuff, like we noticed this week.

Planet Waves
More than 9,000 years ago, a catastrophic volcanic eruption created a huge caldera on the southern end of Onekotan Island, one of the Kuril Islands, located off the southern tip of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Today, the ancient Tao-Rusyr Caldera is filled by the deep blue waters of Kal’tsevoe Lake. Photo: NASA.

Space Weather is one of our favorite haunts. It has a large and dedicated following, every single one of whom, it sometimes seems, has a camera attached to a very good telescope. That results in stunning images like this sunspot by Paul Haese of Blackwood, South Australia. “By unleashing six C-class solar flares in the past 48 hours,” the website reported Tuesday, “sunspot 1029 has become the most active sunspot of the year so far.” You can also watch its progression across the Sun’s surface on this movie clip.

This past Monday night, the Moon and Jupiter were in close alignment, and Alan Friedman of Buffalo, New York, was one of many contributors to share his photo of the conjunction.

Pointing a camera toward space has been a favorite pursuit of photographers since the invention of the art. But in recent decades we’ve been able to put the camera in space and point it back toward Earth, and NASA’s Earth Observatory website showcases the magnificent perspective that is offered from orbit.

The results can be awe-inspiring, such as a volcanic plume rising from the island of Montserrat. They can provide clear evidence of man’s presence on the planet, as from this fire at a fuel facility in Puerto Rico, or cargo ships clustered in Great Bitter Lake along the Suez Canal in Egypt. And, of course, they can be the source of valuable scientific information, such as identifying the areas impacted by tsunamis or weather patterns that can significantly impact the climate.

Or they can simply find a beautiful spot we would likely never get to experience in person.

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Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, October 30, 2009, #790 – BY ERIC FRANCIS


Planet Waves

Aries (March 20-April 19)
If you can’t find ’em, grind ’em. That’s what they used to say back in the days of the standard shift car. Most drivers today would not know what to do with an actual gearshift and I think that driving suffers as a result; people are out of touch with how their car actually works. Driving is almost all visual now, rather than based on the feeling of how the wheels, the gears and the engine interrelate. This is one of those weeks where you’re learning to shift in manual mode. This applies particularly to your relationships. When you’re learning to do this, you may stall out. You have to actually think about how steep of a hill you’re driving up. And there are advantages. You can do fancy things, like downshift when you need extra power. That is exactly what I suggest you do right about now.

Planet Waves

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Be conscious of the conditions placed on any relationship, by you or anyone else. They come in two general categories: conscious and unconscious; that is to say, the conditions that are spoken and the ones that are not. The unspoken ones are the most insidious. Your goal for the foreseeable future is to keep all of your agreements on the table, and to discern carefully which are reasonable and which are not. You are under potent influences leading you to grow, to mature and most meaningfully, to widen your horizons. Anything leading you to maintain a narrow mental perspective is one likely issue: some form of guilt, imposed on you long ago by someone in authority. If you find yourself in a moment when it’s unusually difficult to proceed, ask yourself if someone from the past is running your life.

Planet Waves

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Most people think that art, or doing anything new for that matter, is about creativity. Actually, it’s mostly about discipline. On proportion, I would say that you need about one part creativity for every nine parts focus and determination. This is in part because anything you actually make, and make with your authentic being, requires focus and effort. This is particularly true for you given both your multitasking type of nature, and how complex your life has been lately. The problem with over-emphasis on discipline is that it can squash creativity. Therefore, a third skill is involved: applying resources from both hemispheres of your brain, as needed. This is a very special kind of balance; the kind that calls on you to continually decide whether you need to draw on the creative attribute or the focusing attribute, and to make the adjustments promptly.

Planet Waves

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
You’ve been getting the message to clean house for a while. I mean this in the physical sense. It’s time to open space, to clear closets, and to make sure that there is a relationship between functionality and aesthetics. There is something in your psychic space that wants to be opened up as well, and this involves your concept of where relationship meets security. You place a lot of emphasis on relationship as a form of security, and it has not always been dependable. You may be too easygoing here. You tend to be emotionally flexible, but this does something strange: once you feel you’ve been taken advantage of, you can become way too self-centered for anyone’s benefit. These tendencies don’t originate with you, but you do have the power to change them. Be gentle on yourself and those you love as you clear them out and update your files.

Planet Waves

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Mars has been making some sparks in your birth sign lately, which is provoking ripples of insecurity. But Saturn’s move into Libra yesterday suggests that the air-conditioned side of your head must prevail. By now, you’ve figured out how you look at your life determines how you feel about yourself. Your perspective determines how much complexity you see and experience. Now is the time to work for one solution that simplifies the equation; a method to address the madness or maybe just the complexity. It’s not that you need to get organized; it’s that you are seeking, and very likely to find, a whole new organizing principle. This is about going to a new level of self-perception, which in part is about getting over your resistance to new ways of doing things. I understand you seek comfort in stability; but at the moment, that is not the goal. Strive for focus.

Planet Waves

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
The changes of the past two years have been nonstop; you would probably agree with this. Or, if I said, the changes of the past seven years have been nonstop, you would probably agree with that as well. Yet these two timeframes represent entirely distinct growth phases for you. We might ask, though, what constitutes meaningful change. And we would be wise to ask how much you struggle to make lasting changes, and what you have to sacrifice in order to do that. Part of your turbulence has involved a perception of yourself as being unstable. You get defensive about this, and you have gone to some extreme measures to ground yourself; to stop the shaking; to try to learn how to relax your mind and its many concerns. Here is a clue. You can now let this stability come from the inside, rather than trying to impose it with rules and laws from the outside.

Planet Waves

Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)
You may be experiencing a relief in pressure, or a system breakdown. Often the two will arrive together. If you are being compelled by life to make changes, remember — you can make them incrementally. It’s vital for your health and sanity that you not attempt them all at once, and in particular, that you not think you must do so. Start with the most important changes; you will actually need to pause and prioritize. At this point, don’t think too far into the future; deal with what you know about now. Over the next few weeks you’re likely to experience yourself going through a kind of funnel, or taking an unexpected turn. It may feel larger or more significant than it really is. Most of the pressure is in your mind. This is why I am suggesting you think things through, think in stages, and make your changes gradually.

Planet Waves

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
In so many ways, you are the unstoppable force. Yet it’s not usually easy for you to direct your energy confidently, often because you are at the mercy of your emotions, your fears and a peculiar reluctance that does not have a name. Lots of your energy goes into working out emotional details of relationships, though this is directly a reaction to the fears you haven’t quite identified. Now more than ever you may wonder if you’re a slave to these fears, but I would propose that this is a time to liberate yourself from them. There will be rewards for doing so, because you know you cannot aspire to your highest goals, or even your more modest goals, unless you face a vast unknown within yourself. You may notice that this feels less daunting and more like an open invitation.

Planet Waves

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22)
You are someone who puts enormous emphasis on your social popularity. It’s time to start asking whether this works to your profit or your detriment. When we actually examine how many actual friends we have, usually they can be counted on one hand. The rest of the people we associate with have little influence on our lives, though they serve a variety of purposes: supposedly ensuring an adequate supply of sex or relationship prospects; giving us a feeling of belonging; or ways to pass the time. A moment of maturity has arrived. There’s something urgent about it; you have some solid reasons to focus your social horizons, as well as your expectations from life. The people you associate with need to be the ones who share your values. The goals you profess and work for need to directly reflect those values, for reasons that will soon be obvious.

Planet Waves

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
You may have recognized the crucial difference between being and doing. Most of the time we forget there’s a difference. We are typically ‘civilized’ to place an emphasis on what we do rather than who we are. Yet think of it this way. If you were to subtract all of your activities, who then would you be? If you were to be relieved of all your roles in life, what would your existence feel like? That’s the space you need to work from as Saturn makes its most significant move in many years. Saturn will indeed summon you to action, though the instruction set you work from needs to be based on your inner reality, not your image, appearance or what you did yesterday. It’s vital that new commitments you make reflect the recent profound discoveries you’ve made about yourself. At this stage of your life, it’s the only formula for true success.

Planet Waves

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
There may be more agnostics born under the sign Aquarius than any other. It’s easy for you to have an “it could be this, or it could be that” relationship with the realms of existence that defy perception. This approach leaves you lots of room to be creative. Yet in his delineation of the five senses, Aristotle omitted the sense of knowledge. That is to say, even if you’re in a dark, silent room floating in an isolation tank, you’re still aware. We’re taught to think that awareness can only be fed from the outside, by some material input. Is that really true? Do we have enough awareness of these inner realms to even know, or have a clue? I would propose that there is an additional source of input to consciousness that does not include the senses, and doesn’t even involve the mind; it is the awareness behind both.

Planet Waves

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
You may still feel like you’re swimming against the tide. However, Saturn’s move into Libra will give you some traction. It will do so if you focus on agreements and commitments. It may feel boring, and you may feel like this kind of approach to life lacks imagination or limits your potential. My sense is that this emphasis will have the opposite effect — to give you a basis for progress; an organizing principle. This involves people, and the kind of people you will harmonize with are those who are not only unafraid of commitment, but rather those who thrive on the stuff. Though the notion of commitment is vague to some, think of it as mutual contact and awareness relating to specific objectives. This will become the conduit for so much more that is on its way.

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