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Archive for Friday 15th April 2005

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Mercury is Direct

Was that a long Mercury retrograde, was it particularly difficult, or was it just weird in a super interesting way? It began at the Spring Equinox about three weeks ago, it ended the morning of the 12th (that was Tuesday) and was accompanied by a solar eclipse last week, which happened the day of Pope John Paul II's funeral -- perhaps the most massive ever in the world. These mystical rites seemed to transcend time, merging the Druid times, the Medieval era and the modern world of television and international events. Between the astrology and the associated news events, life seemed to take on the shapes and tones of a Salvador Dali painting.

Events like the pope dying often fall around eclipses of the Sun, and eclipses also bring clusters of events that gather a lot of public attention. It's fairly easy to predict, actually, it's just difficult to say quite what you're predicting. In this case the cluster included Terry Schiavo, Prince Rainier and then the pope, with the prince deserving a lot more attention than he got. What we can note from this is that people often tend to find common cause or join together for death more readily than life. There are no comparable wordwide celebrations. Even the royal wedding was haunted by the 'ghost of Diana' (mainly because the media won't leave her alone). If you ask me this is obsession with the dark side the result of deep confusion, which I would rate as both spiritual and biological, to the extent that the two can be thought of as different.

If I may, here is a bold statement. We live in a world where death has more credibility than life. This is why something erotic is considered taboo and something morbid is considered perfectly normal. There is really no way to stop this on a cultural level; but as individuals, we can each make a decision to honor the life, love and passion within ourselves, and let that stand as true and good. Yes, it takes bravery. Yes, people will say you'll 'get hurt' if you love, express your passion, or make decisions that honor what you really want out of life.

But what is the alternative?

These days we are in the stranger than fiction experience of Mars conjunct Neptune, which is stirring the imagination, firing up the delusions of certain people in certain quarters, and casting further confusion on the nature of truth and lies. Yet this aspect also comes with a sense of raging idealism, combining Aquarius, fiery Mars and deeply sensitive Neptune. This aspect has been exact all day Wednesday and Thursday and will continue to be rather close Friday and into the weekend. (It's located in the 18th degree of Aquarius. Each of the 360 degrees of the wheel has a visual symbol associated with it, called the Sabian Symbols. The Sabian for 18 Aquarius is: 'A man's secret motives are being publicly unmasked'. This speaks to the challenges of privacy and secrecy in our electronic society, which is a fabulously apropos symbol for Mars, Neptune and Aquarius.)

With these planets combining, we are in a psychically sensitive time, and depending on where this aspect meets up with the natal charts of some people, it will be either more or less fun...more or less chaotic. Just don't expect much of anything to stay much the same for long, particularly where beliefs and perceptions are concerned. But you can look and see through; you can think to the point where you can feel; you can feel to the point where your feelings extend far around you, and maybe even feel the life of the world herself, or human consciousness as one entity.

The biggest forthcoming event on the horizon is an eclipse of the Moon on Sunday, April 24, which falls in the mysterious sign Scorpio. Eclipses, as we have seen, have both personal and cultural implications. This is the last big mountain in a mountain range of planetary events and it, too, will shake things up a little, open some doors, close others and point to a few significant mysteries. But it would seem that the most turbulent astrology of the season is indeed over, and by now, with Mercury having turned direct, the world having tucked the pope safely in his crypt and sent him on the way to early sainthood, and equinox definitely having arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, most of us are on a clear course for something different.

Notice that the astrology has been working in a series of layers; of potent events that occur in a sequence and gradually reveal the essence of something, such as you.

Before I get into a few of your questions this week -- which seem to focus on Neptune rather than retrogrades, as I had planned earlier, I'd like to mention that this project of taking reader questions and offering thoughtful responses is sponsored by your subscriptions to Planet Waves Weekly. We have had quite a few very happy subscribers who came to Planet Waves from this page, we value your participation in the project, and the essay series has been taking some exciting new turns as I weave astrology into the fabric of science fiction. I look forward to being in contact with you there.

More news and almost daily blogs at

Here are some of your questions this week.

Neptune Transits and Loss of Ego

Dear Eric,

Help, Neptune is kicking my butt! And in this mist of love and compassion, I can’t seem to find my ego.

Recently, I received an astrological analysis for the year, and in a well written, computer generated synopsis of the year’s trends, I was told that the most relevant thing that I could do this year would be to find my voice, my essence, my personality, my uniqueness. Not to rely on relationships of any kind to define who I am. True, this is great advice, especially for me, but my question is, how do I find that uniqueness when I can’t find my ego or it’s discrimination?

I hope that I have been blessed with a kind and loving nature, but this Neptune transit is overkill! Neptune opposes Pluto, Neptune conjuncts my Sun and ascendant, Neptune here and Neptune there. I do believe that I will welcome Saturn with open arms to my sign!

I guess my question is, do you see any semblance of me in my chart? You advised that we live our chart. I feel like my chart is living me.

I have an abundance of love and compassion, and I am sending you some with this letter.
Oct. 12, 1948

Dear Donna,

Okay, let me see if I understand you. You’re looking for your ego? You could find it quickly by tempting yourself with a little greed, envy, fear or guilt. There are plenty of people on the planet who can show you how to do that. But I don’t think you would feel any better.

You seem to be describing the long conjunction of transiting Neptune to your Aquarius Moon, and opposite your Leo Pluto. Or, said another way, your natal chart has an opposition (180-degree aspect, two planets in opposite signs and at full polarity to one another), and Neptune in Aquarius is making a conjunction to the Moon and an opposition to Pluto.

The natal aspect alone is what one could call ego-dissolving, or certainly rather trying over a long period of time. It is likely that you based your whole idea of yourself on this aspect. Moon-Pluto is deeply psychological, there is a cosmic longing for contact, love and expressing your emotions. There is such yearning for empathy in this aspect that I can barely begin to describe it.

At the same time, I would have to stretch to think of two placements more opposite in quality than the Moon in Aquarius (which tends to focus on groups, collective themes, shared responsibility and be fairly easy going) compared to Pluto in Leo (a generational placement of the Baby Boomers, which focuses energy intensely on oneself, one’s goals, one’s identity and one’s personal state of existence -- and has a somewhat egotistical quality to it in a way that about 100 million Americans and quite a few Europeans express as part of their normal lives). But the Moon in Aquarius is going to cool this off, because it understands there is ‘more to life than me’.

The two placements working together will serve to push you out of your shell (as a lifelong project) and compel you to find your real community.

There are, essentially, two very different self-concepts functioning in your chart, even without looking at the Sun or the ascendant. And because of the Neptune transit, the whole theme of ‘self-concept' is up for reassessment right now. I suggest looking closely, because the desire to have your self-concept be the source of your true voice is a little like expecting your Microsoft Windows browser sit down and write a novel. It is true that you can use your browser to go to different web pages and write a novel, but something else is driving the computer along, and that something is you -- not your idea of who you are.

It's true that Neptune gets the keywords love, compassion and 'higher octave of Venus' attached to it all the time. But I don't think that any of those really applies. How we experience Neptune has a lot to do with who we are, how it's placed in our chart, our strength of character, and many other factors. Most outer planets are not so cozy or private. They will however compel us to make big changes, or to push our selves in entirely new directions. They will change the shape of who we are and the world that we live in. But to give one example, you can have plenty of Uranus in your chart and be brilliant, and if you don't learn to use your Mercury and express yourself, you may seem or feel insane.

Neptune in transit tends to wipe the slate clean. They also tend to have a sink or swim quality which compels us to develop what I will reluctantly call spiritual resources: boundaries, discipline, honesty, and a focus on the more important things in life rather than the petty ones.

I can say this for certain. Your Moon-Pluto opposition represents a long, ancient psychological legacy from your mother. I suggest you do a close investigation of what that is, even if you feel you already know. The presence of Neptune is like a healing balm that's saying it's time to dissolve all those old ego-concepts and let go of your ideas of who you were that were built with and based on this struggle. And Neptune always ‘brings things out in the wash' so that we can deal with them in a healing context.

But the initial loss of identity can seem genuinely disorienting, because there can be an interval between when we lose an old identity system or structure and find a new one. And the new one will be very different than the old one. This transit is an opportunity to let go of your childhood ideas about yourself. It's an opportunity to go deeper into who you are and find something within you than is more real than an ego concept.

Friend Self-destructing on Drugs


I am a subscriber to PlanetWaves Weekly. I know that Eric is extremely busy and does not have time for personal astrology questions, but I thought I'd give it a shot, because I'm desperate (sheepish smile).

I am extremely worried about a friend that is essentially self-destructing with drugs (legal and illegal)...he turns to them to deal with his unhappiness and depression and other unbearable mental states...he is pushing his body to the limit with these substances, but he avers that the alternative is a mental despair that would be just as bad or worse....a slow death, either way.

I cannot seem to figure out whether he is creating this mess or whether it is happening to him. He never tells his therapist the whole story. I can safely say that I know more about his situation than most people do, which is what makes this situation heart-wrenching for me. Although we have had a rocky relationship, this person is one of my closest friends, a friend in the manner you have defined, and I feel utterly helpless. I read somewhere that astrology is not destiny, but my sense of helplessness is making me ask if it would be possible to predict his life span (to put it euphemistically), given the circumstances? I would be devastated if anything happened to my I was wondering if you would be able to see such an event in my chart: I was born at 3:14 pm on January 18, 1983 in Seattle, WA, USA. I only know my friend's birthday: June 21, 1974. I hope I don't sound callous...this drama has been going on for over a year now....and I am fearful and hanging on by a thread.

Sincerely and a devoted reader,

Dear Rukmini:

Thanks for writing. Fortunately, this column allows me the opportunity to answer some reader questions every week, an opportunity I appreciate as much as the readers who write in. First a few comments about your friend. Fortunately, he or she has a therapist. This is often the dividing line between whether people pull through these things or not.

However, I am not sure you're looking critically enough at just what game your friend is playing in life. It's my turn to ask for your pardon for being callous, but I would speculate that he or she knows exactly what is going on, and has chosen this as a method of not dealing with life. Certainly, if this person is flirting with an overdose, they are making a statement to themselves and the world. But I find it interesting that this person is also in therapy. So there is a level of consciousness around the situation.

It's true that because he or she was born the last day that the Sun was in a sign (Gemini) there can be a certain struggle getting focused -- a struggle that will come to a head just as Pluto transits out of Sagittarius in a couple of years. It's also true that beginning in 2003, there have been some exceptionally difficult transits, and that going back to the summer of 2001, there have been transits pointing to a need to get clear and get oriented on reality. What you need to remeber is that your friend is an adult, a certified graduate of their Saturn return, and someone who has a responsibility to take care of themselves, or get help doing so. I think that it'll take until Pluto makes its exact opposition to your friend's Sun in late 2007 that the real endgame will come.

The chances are that whatever is at the root of this situation is deeply entrenched. Addiction is never the real problem. There is always, always something, some pain or some unaddressed crisis, beneath it, driving the need for control that is at the heart of any real addiction. Hopefully therapy will provide a forum for that something to eventually come out.

The question for you is probably: What is the best role you can play for this person? And I would say, in short, love them until the love begins to shine through. Even if they don't think they can feel it, you can have faith that it's making a difference, that your love is providing a point of orientation and a sense of relative reality. I can say this as a person who has been loved through quite a few situations where I was pretty far out there on the edge. Your presence makes a difference. You don't have to do anything but be real.

The other thing you can do is to live your life as fully and as truly as you can. You really must find a way to not let this bring you down. You're a lot younger than this person, you obviously deal with life differently, and you're quite resilient and strong. However, with a Pisces Moon and Cancer rising, you might find it a little difficult to set the psychic boundary -- and you can be certain that issues some people have with substances tend to drag people in, push their limits and are, in a sense, contagious. And while you may be able to rise above your own addictive potential -- something that all people have, of course -- one way for the darkness to get in may be through another person. So I do suggest you watch that line and if you need to, keep your distance.

This is your friend's drama -- not yours. Best to keep it that way.

Dealing with Negative Energy in the Workplace

Dear Eric,

I am going to try and see if you can provide some insight for me. I became aware of your link on Jonathan Cainer's site which I visit daily for some guidance. But I have had a challenge that I can't seem to get direction on.

I now professionally work in the health care world as a senior buyer -- I purchase all big capital items (things costing over $500.00 dollars and that have a life span of over two years) for our hospital and satellite doctors offices. I work hard and am constantly receiving praise from the departments I work for. The challenge is the environment I work in. I have coworkers that would like nothing more than to see me fall flat on my face and I have a new boss of two years who has yet to grasp the hospital purchasing program and I believe wants me to go; I feel he believes me a threat.

I have been trying unsuccessfully to find other employment. I enjoy the health care setting but I would like to have your insight as to my near future. I also love to write novels but with the energy that I put into my job here, it leaves very little time for that. I would appreciate some direction from you.

Your time is appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.
May 2, 1952, around 1 a.m.
(place not given, Washington DC used)

Dear Linda:

I am aware that midlife career changes can be very difficult, including job changes. However, because your chart is so prone to power struggles and obsessions, I suggest you find yourself a new place to work, and from the sound of it, something new to do. It's a big world and there are lots of places for you. But you may not feel that way.

One way to look at the situation is psychologically and emotionally. In other words, while this is obviously going on in your workplace, you can take it a level deeper and look at it as purely personal material that you get a chance to deal with now. That would best be done with a therapist (not necessarily a psychologist, but anyone who works with people in a talk-therapy setting who can help you feel the deep emotionality of this situation, the frustration and the sense of being trapped and abandoned.

There's quite a bit in your chart that tells me you're living out a childhood situation in your workplace as an adult. The aspect is a conjunction between the Moon and Pluto (see first question above for information about a Moon-Pluto aspect, some of which may apply). This is in Leo -- intense. Then, these two planets receive a square from Mars, which is in Scorpio. So you have the Moon square Mars, and Mars square Pluto. That, my cousin, is a heck of a lot of power struggle, and it relates directly to childhood and in particular mother because the Moon is involved.

So, one way to work this out is on the outside, as a career issue, and there's nothing stopping you from doing that. There are plenty of great resources for finding jobs. The other way is to start with where you are at right now, and work with the probable roots of the situation. See all these destructive dynamics for what they are. That will have an unusual benefit: it will give you a measure of power in the situation, because you will become conscious of what is going on, and you'll be able to make some new decisions about what to do. And when you move on, you'll be able to identify the kind of unfriendly, unsupportive vibes that you're now trapped in. And you will have gone a long way to unhooking them within yourself. Basically, I'm proposing that through therapy, you'll get to a place where you don't need this kind of nonsense any more.

Unexplained Low Energy for Otherwise Fit Child

Dear Eric:

My daughter born on the 29th of December 1990 at 7:43 am in Brighton in the United Kingdom has been causing me concerns. I seem to have a gut feeling that fears for her 'long term' health. She has very weak hair growth (never really reaches shoulder length), very dry and 'porous' that is so thin in the length that it should be cut and kept short because it ends almost like small irregular feathers. She has had chronic gum problems.

We've been around doctors right up to the children's hospital in Great Ormond Street in London. No certain diagnosis, the faint possibility of a genetic disorder but that does not look like anything that could be traced either in my family or in her father's family. She is a contrast of fitness (slim with very strong muscles, an excellent rider, she works with horses every weekend, good at trampoline, she has an excellent hold/control on her body in the air) and total lack of energy. She will just go to sleep and as soon as she stops and will have low energy on days when she doesn't go to the stables. She finds it hard to concentrate at school, I believe because of energy problems. Sometimes she looks so pale.

This nagging worry is like a layer of stress in my life. What could I learn about and 'for' her health from her chart?

Thank you,

Dear Michele:

Letters like yours really make me wish I was a trained alternative practitioner, but fortunately there are some very, very good ones in the UK. If your daughter was born in Brighton, hopefully you're easy driving or train distance to London, and I assure you there is someone in that city who can help your daughter -- the question is finding the right person. You can, however, start with a shift in your own thinking. This is an issue I've been wanting to address for a long time, and I hope I can do it some justice. I speak, therefore, not as a practitioner, but as someone who has worked with many, known many, and has interrelated with the ideas of alternate health since around 1986.

I will begin by saying that both intuitively and based on experience, I feel there is hope for your daughter to fully resolve her situation.

You say you've gone to doctors, so I'm going to assume you're talking about Western doctors -- that is, MDs who work with a certain set of beliefs, and a certain set of drug therapies. Their theories and drugs do help some people, but they actually cure very few people because, for the most part, they work on the surface of the problem. And that is, for most, well enough -- if you don't mind taking their drugs for a long time, or if you feel you have no other choice.

However, there are many, many health situations that fall through the cracks of Western medicine. There are a numerous cases that have distinct symptoms and cause great suffering, but in the end have no known syndrome, diagnosis or identity in Western medicine. There are aspects of the physical body that are basically ignored, but would give enormous information; there are groups of symptoms that, to doctors, have no use. And this does not mean they don't exist or, as you know, cause suffering and concern.

Now for the paradigm shift. There are other ways to look at wellness, sickness and the condition of the body. There are other ways to measure the state of a human life. I will suggest that having rock-solid blood work, over time, is likely to be healthy to many alternative practitioners, such as a naturopath. So I suggest you collect your daughter's health file and get it ready. Also, I suggest you write a little history of your pregnancy, health issues that run on both sides of the family, and the progression of what has developed with your daughter's health over time. The purpose of gathering this information is go give your new health practitioners as many clues as possible, and to be working on as high a level of awareness as possible. I can tell you that if the right person reviews the file and spends a little while with your daughter, they will get a picture and be able to recommend a course of treatment.

As you do this, you may notice that you are ‘taking over' the case. You have to be the boss; the coordinator of the situation. Your job is to consult experts, but in the end, you make the final decisions at each stage, in close discussion with your daughter. Generally, in situations like this, healing comes gradually, and the Western notion of a magic pill needs to be abandoned. Rather, substitute a model of gradual increase in strength, symptoms disappearing one at a time over a stretch of months or a couple of years, and unexpected efforts having beneficial results. Generally, when a case is treated holistically -- that is, when the person is treated as a whole entity and not just as their hurting body parts,

There are several categories of providers. Recently, a pamphlet was published in the UK by the Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Heath that makes official information about what kinds of practitioners do what available. These include auruvedic medicine, which is imported from India; Chinese medicine, an Eastern form of herbalism, which includes acupuncture; homeopathy, a system developed in Germany in the 18th century, which, in the right hands, can get stunning results; and naturopathy, a relatively new system that integrates many alternative and mainstream methods. Naturopaths are a kind of physician who have an expanded idea of health and wellness as well as an expanded tool box. They also know people who may have seen a case like this in the past.

It may seem like a lot of work to wade through all these methods. Of the ones I have listed, I would recommend contacting an auruvedic practitioner and a naturopath as your first lines of defense.

I'm an alternative practitioner known as an astrologer, however, and this is what I see. I think that a big part of the issue is nutritional. I see this clearly: food is an extremely important area of your daughter's life to watch. It's also rather challenging to change people's food habits, and young people in particular may care very little about this subject. But your daughter is a serious, mature girl and she may be cooperative. I'll get to her psychological profile in a moment -- it's going to be very helpful. But let's stick with nutrition.

Low Energy Child

The reason I point to food as the first place you can get results, besides the fact that this is usually true, is because she has a potent aspect structure involving the minor planet Ceres, which is all about nutrition. Ceres makes aspects to Venus, Chiron, Saturn, Mercury and the lunar nodes. From an astrological standpoint, this is a no-brainer, if you're familiar with Ceres. Everything points back to her. The square to Chiron would be more than enough; that she is square the lunar nodes tells me her whole life could turn on what food she eats.

How does she feel about food? Does she enjoy food, and what 'food issues' does she have? How well does her digestive system work? There may be questions of nutrient absorption, that is, getting the most from her food. I suggest you ask a doctor to do tests for parasites, including candida.

She must eat a balanced diet. Consulting a dietician who has some holistic training, rather than just a mainstream medical dietician, would be a very good start. But very basic improvements can come through fresh flax seed oil, an excellent brand of spirulina algae (my favorite is Pure Planet Red Marine Algae, which is about half green spirulina and half ocean algea), and mineral rich foods like seaweed. Other foods rich in enzymes, such as organic raw mango, miso (never cooked, just warmed with soup), and all raw foods, would make a very good start. Make sure she has enough water and use an excellent natural sea salt for mineral balance.

Next, on this list, which foods is she naturally drawn to? Beef, broiled meats, chicken and chicken soup, eggs and eggplant, fatty meats and fried foods, garlic and ginger, Korean ginseng, glutinous rice, green peppers, hot and spicy foods, leeks and onions, mushrooms, peanuts, persimmons, pig's knuckles and pork liver, red foods (beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) sesame oil, shellfish, sour foods, tangerines, and vinegar. Those would likely be helpful.

Last, I would like to inquire about her mental and emotional health. She is an exceptionally complex girl. Anyone with Capricorn rising, five major planets plus the Moon's North Node in the 1st house is an complex person and will have difficulty feeling understood. And she may not be able to express this feeling directly. However, because Chiron has been in Capricorn for several years, beginning in late 2001, she has been under constant, nonstop Chiron transits between then and earlier this year. This is not easy, and the transit, combined with the transit, can result in a condition of feeling constantly unwell. Plus, she has been under a heavy Saturn transit for most of this time, and remains under it.

I strongly suggest that she have someone she can talk to about herself once or twice a week for at least a year.

I truly hope some of this helps. Thanks for writing.

Reader Comments

Dear Eric / Jonathan,
First of all thanks. Originally, I was an (astrological) skeptic reading a lot of vague, polarized 'advice'. However, your generous, openhearted approach has rekindled a respect and appreciation in your work.
-- Peter

Dearest Eric,
Thank you so much for your generosity with your gift, not only in/with astrology, but your humanity and self-seeking/awareness.
-- Patricia

Hello Eric Angel,
I must say what an absolute joy to read your subscriber letter to 'The Space Brothers' -- anyone with half an amateurish inkling towards Astrology, the Ancients and the belt of 'Orion' definitely has a 'knowing' aspect to the subject matter contained therein. Like you I believe that the 'Space Brothers' are an absolute entity, not merge figments of imagination and I believe that Spielberg did his best when he addressed this very issue with 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'. Many years ago now but still a movie with issues that asked you think, and think hard.
-- Heather

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