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Archive for Friday 8th April 2005

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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Dear Readers and Faithful Pilgrims:

The astrology this week is the approximate equivalent of a 98-degree heat wave striking New York City in July. The focal point continues to be on Aries. This article deals with one question that many are pondering -- "What on Earth is happening now?" Next week I will handle a whole raft load of your individual questions about the impact of eclipses, the current eclipses, and a few more relating to Mercury retrograde. This week I feel it's worth approaching the subject in its wider form a bit more journalistically.

Many, many questions are coming in with the same theme: how does these eclipses impact me? If Friday's eclipse is near your natal Sun, Moon or Ascendant, or if it meets any of those points in a 90-degree or 180 degree aspect, this is definitely a personal turning point for you. There can be sudden transitions, revelations of what you need, or need to do; and situations where people arrive into your life, leave your life, or take on new roles in your life. Involvement of Moon can affect physical spaces. Involvement of the Sun can affect our role in the world, and how we express ourselves. Aspects to the ascendant can shape how we see ourselves, experience ourselves, and project our sense of inner reality. If the eclipse falls particularly close to any one of these points, you can be faithful that this is a time of truly significant change.

No doubt, many people are in a time of enormous transition. Look at yourself, and listen to the stories people are telling you. We've lived through some intense planetary alignments the past two weeks, however, a lot of astrology has yet to happen; we are still (as of this posting Thursday night) on the eve of one eclipse, there is a second one in two weeks, and Mercury is in the process of stationing direct in early Aries. In the March 18 edition of this series, I offered a preview of what was coming in these weeks -- please have a look when you get a chance. That entry covered the associations of many astrological events focused on the Aries Point -- that is, on or near the beginning of the sign Aries, and suggested that it would be a moment when the world seemed to go a little wild.

If your own life is going a little wild, or if you're feeling especially restless, focus on the primary question of Aries: "Who am I, and what am I doing here?" This is a question that has a lot of currency right now. Then, while you're asking the question, make your decisions one at a time as the need arises, and trust the process of synchronicity to take you where you need to be. Eclipses are a time to meditate on the idea that all things work together for good.

Let's begin with the basics, and with a chart -- one of two that's clearly at the hub of the action -- Friday's eclipse. The other is the Mercury station direct chart for April 12, to which you've got a link to the Planet Waves chart library. Note also that we are currently experiencing a long conjunction of Venus and the Sun, the first since the momentous Venus transit of the Sun last June. That, too, was an eclipse-like event, which even from this distance is influential in the current affairs of the world.

Aries Solar Eclipse Chart

This is the chart for the first solar eclipse of the year, set for the Vatican, where the action seems to be centered. It's an odd kind of eclipse called a 'hybrid eclipse', part annular and part total. A total eclipse is when the Sun is completely covered by the disk of the Moon. An annular eclipse is one where the alignment is close enough to cover the disk of the Sun, but where the Moon is too far from the Earth to be large enough to do so fully. Astrologer Lynn Bell pointed me to the NASA web page's definition of hybrid eclipse, which I include for scientific curiosity and journalistic accuracy. I don't recognize some of the terms, and hopefully by the end of this article I'll have some ideas about the astrological symbolism:

"A hybrid eclipse is a unique type of central eclipse where parts of the path [the path of the Moon's shadow on the Earth] are annular while other parts are total. This duality comes about when the vertex of the Moon's umbral shadow pierces Earth's surface at some points, but falls short of the planet along other portions of the eclipse path. The curvature of Earth's surface brings some geographic locations along the path into the umbra while other positions are more distant and enter the antumbral rather than umbral shadow. In most cases (like in 2005), the hybrid eclipse begins annular, changes to total for the central portion of the path, and then converts back to annular towards the end of the path."

So this is, in a sense, two eclipses in one. Eclipses and other astronomical events gain their symbolic power from their rarity or uniqueness. Here we have a good specimen of an interesting, fairly rare occurrence that is surrounded by the world being in a rather rare (or perhaps even raw) state of affairs. By the way, most of the eclipse path is through the South Pacific Ocean, and it touches Central America at the end. It will be visible mostly from tiny islands scattered around the Pacific, and then from Panama and surrounds.

Looking at the chart, we see the eclipse falls in the 5th house in Rome, as it will for most of Europe. It happens in the mid-evening on this side of the Atlantic, which is when the Sun is in the 5th. Count the houses starting with the left-hand vertical house where you see the blue circle with the x (the part of fortune) and the little purple question mark (Ceres, the largest 'asteroid', really a planet). That's the 1st house. Notice that Scorpio is rising, which is an appropriate symbol for a chart that is centered on a funerary ritual within which the whole world is participating. So, too, is Ceres in Scorpio, retrograde. Ceres often addresses the grief and pain of mothers. She has other associations with the Earth, with nourishment and with food in general, but retrograde in Scorpio is a reference to ancient grief of women. As we will see, the theme of women comes up many times in this chart.

Mars, the ascendant ruler, does some interesting things as well -- note that it's in a conjunction to Neptune, which I'll come back to.

Count the houses anti-clockwise from the 1st. Let's start in the 5th house. The eclipse is part of a grouping that includes the yellow circle (Sun), the gray crescent (Moon), Venus in blue and the North Node of the Moon, a little horseshoe, in orange. Whenever you see the Sun near either of the Moon's nodes in any chart, you can be sure that there is an eclipse or two in the vicinity.

Venus in the Eclipse

This eclipse is conjunct the planet Venus. In other words, it's a nearly exact alignment of the Earth, the Moon, the Sun and Venus. Venus is in Aries. So, in a sense, we have Venus being eclipsed along with the Sun. It always seems like Venus takes the weight these days. As the one named goddess in the traditional astrological color box, she often bears the stress of all things feminine, and is grossly outnumbered by male deities.

The 5th house is the original house we look to for information about sex (the 8th house came many centuries later and is a recent development in this subject area). Themes of the 5th include risks, art, games, gambling, daring activities, children, childhood, creativity, and the one that embraces all of these, sex. Given the Vatican's position on sex -- that you're not allowed to do it except to make babies; that God never did it; that contraception of any kind is not allowed; that it should not be fun, just productive; that only members of the opposite sex may partake, and only if they are married; and that you cannot even mention it or think about it without committing a sin -- this is an awfully interesting place for an eclipse right now. In order to support this position, many lies must be told (i.e., that 'condoms don't work and/or actually spread Aids', a reference for which I am collecting articles).

Fitting this imagery of ideological chaos and deception, we have Mars, the ruler of the 5th and the ruling planet of the Aries grouping, approaching Neptune in the 3rd house of ideas. Mars-Neptune must be handled very carefully. It's volatile, even explosive, it's subject to delusion, and it has some suicidal tendencies (drug overdoses, for example).

This conjunction occurs in the sign Aquarius. Aquarius is the sign of the media, large groups, the culture itself, and humanity. Neptune in Aquarius has come with an unprecedented era of not just deceiving people but of complete confusion where truth and lies are concerned. Mars coming through Neptune's region over the next few days is sure to raise these issues, or to just simply stir up chaos to a fevered pitch -- and note that the conjunction will be a prominent aspect in the chart for the election of the new pope.

As I said earlier, the eclipse is conjunct Venus, accurate to within two degrees. Astrology books will tell you that Venus 'falls' in Aries -- that is, she is allegedly weakened, and unable to express her true nature in this sign. I have seen that in natal charts of women where Venus is in Aries, there are indeed some real puzzles that such women face in expressing their femininity through such a fiery [yang] sign, particularly in a world where women are not usually allowed to be boldly much of anything unless they happen to be Madonna (the musician, of course) or Mother Theresa. They can break the rules, but that takes work, it usually takes the cooperation of men, and it often comes at a cost. I researched this placement of Venus in Aries a bit, and discovered in the book Esoteric Astrology by Alice A. Bailey something about the cause of this situation. Bailey states that because the Sun is exalted in Aries -- that is, it's quite strong in this sign -- that Venus is unable to express her true nature. This is consistent with traditional astrology: Venus prefers to be on the night side of the chart; she prefers to be as far from the Sun as possible; and she likes cool, wet, earthy or watery signs.

But as a result of this eclipse, something really interesting happens: the Sun is blocked with Venus right there. It's like the Moon (a kind of anonymous feminine co-conspirator) creates a huge pair of cosmic sunglasses put over the Sun that cut the glare make Venus and her influence visible. So rather than the influence of the Goddess being weakened in this event, I think that her influence, strength and power are going to come out in some rather definite ways. This occurs when the world is experiencing the revelry of a Holy Father who, bless his soul, did more to hurt, delay and set back the cause of women than just about anyone I can think of in my lifetime. Even the mainstream media has been pointing to the hypocrisies even before the funeral -- something truly unusual.

From Eclipse to Eclipse

Pope John Paul II, born the exact day of a solar eclipse in 1920, will be buried Friday, the day of a solar eclipse 84 years later. This is an excellent example of how eclipses, and the associated nodes of the Moon, act like attractors of public issues, personalities and events. There are so many examples in history that a multi-volume book could be written about the subject, and based on these direct experiences, eclipses have gained a well-deserved reputation as being potent omens of turning points.

That reputation is generally not considered positive, which is to say, eclipses often bring traumatic events, enforced changes or points of no return. They are also extremely useful energy currents that, with a little skill, we can use to make vast improvements in our lives. How we view these things has a lot to do with our personal psychological and metaphysical orientation. If we tend to believe in fate, then we tend to be at the mercy of events; if we tend to believe in choice, then we will tend to use events and developments as occasions to make decisions. It has not been until relatively recently in history that some of humanity has had the luxury and privilege of making decisions as sovereign individuals.

What's most interesting about eclipses is how they create events that bring people and society together. The most stunning example that everyone remembers was the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. She died on the eve of an eclipse, and the energy of that event sent its waves around the world. At the end of the same week, on the eve of her funeral, Mother Theresa died; and the world was grieving the loss of, and witnessing the funerals of, two of the most beloved, best-known women and devoted planetary servants at the same time. Eclipses always come with unusual synchronicities.

Consider how this looks astronomically. An eclipse is literally an intersection. In the case of a solar eclipse, as we will experience Friday, it's a place where at least three things converge: the ecliptic (or apparent path of the Sun); the Sun itself; and the Moon. This must occur during a New Moon. During such an event, the Moon passes directly between the Sun and the Earth, casting a shadow on the Earth. During a normal New Moon, the alignment is not exact, and a shadow is cast into space. So an eclipse is really a very precise alignment, which happens relatively rarely -- most years, there are two solar and two lunar eclipses. Some years there are more, some there are less, but usually two of each.

Borrowing from the 'convergence point' imagery of an eclipse, think of all the trains and airplanes from all over Europe converging on Rome, where millions are flocking to the Pope's funeral. Polish airways and train lines have had to lay on extra trains and flights to accommodate the masses of people who have taken the Pope's death as a kind of personal signal or message and have put their bodies in motion. CNN is reporting that two million Poles are now traveling to Rome.

Around the world, millions of people are acting as individuals together to mourn the loss of a prominent person. Whatever we may think about his reign as pope -- and certainly he deserves equally strong praise and criticism for what he has taught his flock -- the fact that people are getting together, opening their hearts and sharing something is actually what counts the very most.

I have had some moments of clarity about why exactly eclipses are so potent. But they qualify as mystical experiences where the light shines through all the facts and ideas of astrology, and I can't really explain them. However, eclipses are something we can feel, and they are excellent beginning points for students of astrology to use to get a feel for how astrology works. To do this, you just need to observe events around the times of eclipses. And you can look up the old ones in the ephemeris, check the dates, and see what they tell you.

In the case of Friday's eclipse, it's been a busy little world leading up to this event. We've seen not three (things come in threes) but four deaths of celebrated individuals, all of whom mark the turning point of an era: The pope, Prince Rainier of Monaco, the great American writer Saul Bellow, and the very noisy, complicated, politically embroiled death of Terri Schiavo. What all these people have in common is that their lives and deaths have touched many people; they have made unique contributions to their cultures; they experienced a measure of longevity -- all three men lived into their 80s, the pope's reign was the third longest in history, and Rainier was the longest-serving monarch of Europe; and Schiavo survived 15 years on life support. And particularly in the case of the pope, the Prince and Schiavo, these people represented symbols of something larger than themselves -- very much an eclipse theme.

That the eclipse is square Saturn suggests a turning point or limitation in things that have experienced unusual longevity.

Lately, news events have been particularly emotional, frenzied and unusually intense as well. Of course, it's sometimes difficult to sort out the more or less intense times, given that the 'news' is usually a barrage of negativity that seems impossible to make any sense of.

Is anything positive happening in the world?

Of course it is. But you really have to look to find it, and in that case you often have to have some kind of special training -- training that teaches you to look at your own life and the experience of being human in a world where you're supposed to be a number. Borrowing from the wisdom of astrology, what we do during eclipses tends to multiply. They are like cosmic energy repeating stations. They make excellent days to program your life exactly as you want, or at least to include elements of everything you like most about life. They are potent moments wherein to focus your will, your desire and your intentions.

Please keep that in mind. See you next week with more questions and answers.


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