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Archive for Friday 24th December 2004

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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Dear Readers, Cousins, Friends:
For the next couple of weeks -- news permitting, that is -- I'm going to do shorter columns, both to take a breather and to free some bandwidth to do the extended 2005 forecasts for my subscribers. [Does everyone know that we accept Australian dollars at par?] On this page, I'll be selecting questions that lend themselves to more succinct answers, which will be a healthy change of pace for your faithful writer.

Today's column is, by the way, the 30th entry in this series, which has run between 5,000 and 7,000 words per week. That works out to about 180,000 words in just over six months, carefully typed one letter at a time. The fact that this is book (or rather, several-book) length is not an accident, so please keep those questions coming, and before you write in, take a look at the back issues. There's a lot of astrology information in there. Tips for getting your questions answered are below.

As for the moment we're in. The holiday season is now upon us at full bore, and I'd like to reach out to everyone who experiences some form of the 'holiday blues', which I know from personal experience can range from sadness to raging depression.

People who don't experience this can be clueless as to what others who do are going through. After all, it's such a cheerful and lovely time of the year, with eggnog and sleigh bells ringing and jing-a-ling-linging, except for the subtle urge to chuck a Cooper Mini through a department store holiday display window.

There are tons of reasons for holiday depression. Most of them involve family. 'Tis the season when many people get back together with their living ancestors, and these people can push our buttons big time and typically offer little in recompense; a few meatballs hardly make up for what indignities we must suffer. We may love and value these people, and thank them from the murky bottom of our hearts for their extremely generous chromosome donations, but that's different than the way that we respond emotionally when they wind us up, or when their antics are too much to bear.

For many, the holidays trigger unhealed childhood traumas, and this is real stuff. Christmas was always an extremely stressful time in my childhood home, with negotiated arrangements per divorce and custody decrees, having to leave at midnight Christmas eve to switch parents, and people working so hard to have a good time and/or keep control that they stressed themselves into angina, high blood pressure and other medical phenomena. The whole thing seems in retrospect to have been a major cover-up for how little they liked one another -- to put it mildly.

I know this is not the case in many households that are truly loving. I am speaking to those who struggle, and feel alone in doing so.

I didn't break the spell of the holidays until one year when I left the country and spent Christmas with a friend who was at the time the last great contemporary Marxist scholar, and Christmas morning we sat at the kitchen table and did the charts of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Keep the Revolution in Christmas. (Che has a Capricorn Moon, but we would expect no less from a combination medical doctor, highly competent military leader and brilliant political theorist.) Take that, K-Mart!

People in the United States don't necessarily know how insanely commercialized the whole holiday thing is, which often adds to the sense of alienation. I have noticed in recent years that 'Christmas season' now starts fifteen minutes after Halloween. It used to start the day after Thanksgiving; there was an unspoken rule that it was tacky to do it any earlier, but unfortunately there was nobody to enforce it. (Heck, the first night of Christmas isn't officially till the 25th!) One year, I was filled with the temptation to ram my shopping cart at full speed, loaded with eggs, into the supermarket manager's office when they were playing digital Christmas carols in early November. Fortunately I did not. This year I am in Paris where, despite this being a very Catholic country, Christmas is barely noticeable, and where it is, it's done low-key and tasteful. I live in the center of town and have not once felt clobbered by Good Cheer. I'm even tempted to go to mass at Notre Dame, my neighborhood church. To see what they're offering.

By the way, did you know that traditionally Santa Claus wears blue, but a marketing campaign by Coca-Cola early in the 20th century turned him red, the world over? Twisted. I learned that on the BBC.

Anyway, here are a few holiday depression tips. Most of them center around surviving family gatherings. I'll be blogging a little extra around Christmas, so you can also tune into Planet Waves.

1. It's your life. Remember that you're under no obligation to anyone, to be anyone, or to be anyplace. Show up and leave when you choose. Make 'cameo appearances' when necessary. Jingle your car keys in your pocket for reassurance.

2. Call old friends on the phone -- the people you really, truly love and miss and care for. Human contact with people who truly know you on the inside will be reassuring. Make good use of your cell phone.

3. Don't drink. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and your CNS is working hard enough at the moment. Skip overdoing the heavy sugar items, too. While you're at it, drink a lot of water. Not drinking water is one of the main physical causes of depression. The brain dries up and freaks out. Maintaining good nutrition never hurt anyone. B vitamins are important when you're under any kind of stress. Don't eat what you're allergic to.

4. Treat family gatherings like a sociology project. Disappear to a back room and take notes on how the people treat one another, the things they say, and how they make you feel. (For example, "Uncle Louie acting like cro-magnum man again; still claims not to believe in evolution; no wonder.") If you apply mindfulness and a bit of creativity to these scenes, they will be much less likely to irritate you, and you might find yourself having a good time. It is healthy to be curious: what makes them tick? How did they get this way? You will actually be able to accomplish a good deal in terms of mapping out family patterns and making observations that will be quite useful in doing therapy, astrology or personal growth work, if such is important to you. Notice when you feel like you're feeling and/or acting like a 12-year-old.

4-A. Take pictures, and study them later. In fact, if you have a digital camera, you can spend hours taking pictures and reviewing them, and people will think you're participating and being helpful, when really you're spying on them. You can even email them copies of their reconnaissance photos.

5. At any gathering you will likely find one relative who really does love you, and by that I mean in a way that's not invasive or manipulative (which I don't define as love, personally). Make a point to sit near them and keep communication going. It's always nice to have someone into whose ear you can whisper, "These people are ridiculous."

6. If you're responsible for putting on one of these shindigs, remember, there is no such thing as perfection, and your mother will survive even if the potatoes are a little burnt. Recruit help in the kitchen, even if it's just company. Figure out a way to have fun. You'll feel better.

7. Focus on little kids. They are typically more real than the adults, they love and need attention, and you will get an opportunity to be fully present when you talk to them. Most kids are usually in a pretty good mood and will get you laughing. Kids are the perfect opportunity to sit on the floor and be silly. Help save them holiday trauma for decades to come.

8. Visit with dogs and cats (or and frogs, snakes, fish, etc.). Keep checking in with them; they are far removed from the level of human politics. Animals are an excellent and even medically sanctioned way to work with sadness and depression. They are calming and bring us back to our heart center. This, too, is a form of escape disguised as participation.

9. Bring some gifts that have a humorous basis. The custom of giving gifts allows you to bring anything (well, okay, within reason) into the setting. Books and CDs that are based on satire, kid's books which ridicule adults, or are just generally fun can shift the energy. Bring a funny DVD or two as a gift for a relative and insist that they put one on right now.

10. If people are expressing repugnant views, interview them instead of argue with them. Disappear later and take notes.

11. If you're a parent and you're stressing with the responsibility of that, create some support. Recruit other family members to assist you with your kids, or bring a friend to a family function for the exclusive purpose of support. Most of us don't know how to ask for help, or we forget. It's one of the most important life skills anyone can cultivate.

12. Love yourself. It's good practice no matter where you are and counts some times more than others.

13. Thank heavens you get to leave and go home.

14. If you lack family and want to get to a holiday celebration, I've found that charity dinners are amazing places. All churches, missions, shelters and such put on dinners at the holidays and often need volunteer help -- or just go and hang out. It's a fine opportunity to participate in the human experience from a whole new perspective. If you live in a rural area, set up a ride; people are traveling to cities all the time during the holidays.

Print this for reference. Keep it in your pocket.

PS, bring your tarot cards and do readings for people. Speaking of which, this week we begin with a question on the tarot.

Thus Spake the Tarot

Dear Mr Francis
I have a question about the Tarot. When drawing a single card for daily reflection or study, what does it mean when you get the same few cards all the time? Am I boring? Am I in a rut? Should I buy a lottery ticket? Should I study something else?

Thank you for your time and guidance.
Wondering and Confused

Dear W & C
Performance artist Laurie Anderson has a line in one of her songs, "If only I could remember these dreams, I know they're trying to tell me something."

All you need to do is listen to your inner voice. Often a card will come with a data packet that arrives mentally, as the physical image enters the space. This is usually the first thing you think upon the arrival of the card regardless of whether the card 'means' that or not.

Cards and all divination media sometimes speak with emphasis. They are not random systems, and they will, when necessary, try to get our attention. One of the ways they emphasize a point is to repeat themselves. So if a symbol is showing up, that's significant. But, significant of what? It's always good idea to remember that symbols stand for something else, and you need to find out what that something else is. You can do this by asking, by meditating, by doing research into the symbol, or for looking at your own thoughts for more information.

Sometimes symbols that appear in the cards will also show up in advertising, real-life scenes, books, films and so on. What do the symbols tell you in those contexts?

The reason you're studying the cards is to learn to listen to the cards and get their messages, which is exactly what you're doing. It helps to be patient and have the faithful expectancy that the message will come.

Cycles of Seven?

Hi Eric Francis
Hopefully my question may have relevance for others. Being the end of the year and the start of the new year, I have been reflecting on bringing in change and letting go of the stale. In 1998, I made a massive change (end of my marriage) in the hope that other fresh things would flow. I am sorry to say that they haven't. I have been bemoaning my stuckness to various people and they have said 'oh don't worry, its your seven year cycle', clearly meaning that its due to come an end. I thought it was crap I am starting to think not. For the record I'm a Taurus (May 5, 1970, born in Perth, Australia) and therefore I will be 35 this year, a multiple of 7. Are these people on to something??

Many thanks and much merryness to you for the holidays


Dear Kylie
There are many factors at work in astrology and numerology, and I'm reluctant to accept any one that claims to have the bottom line. I've heard that too -- 'it all comes down to sevens'. But you could just as easily say that it all comes down to eggs, and every time you eat eggs, the truth will come to you, and then you can attach special significance to the off-hand comments of waitresses in diners as they place your plate on the table.

That being said, many things happen in cycles of seven. One is that Uranus changes signs every seven years. Another is that Saturn squares, opposes or conjoins its natal position every seven years. Another is that the progressed Moon will make a major aspect (new, quarter, full) every seven years. Chiron has recently in the seven-year aspect end of its cycle.

The problem with applying a seven-year theory to these is that all these things work on different seven-year cycles. Therefore, every couple of years, a new one goes off. This does not mean you're unusually sensitive to one of them (astrologically or numerologically), and to test that theory somewhat scientifically, why not make a chronology of your life and see if you come up with anything that looks like a big change on a seven-year pattern?

I am, however, a bit skeptical. I don't think astrology (or nature) is so nice and neat, but I think that the mind wants them to be.

I can tell you that if you're 35 years old, you're about to experience your Pluto square aspect. The Pluto square means that Pluto has reached 90 degrees from its natal position. You were born with Pluto at 24 degrees and 56 minutes of Virgo. During the next two years, Pluto will cross and recross 24 degrees and 56 minutes of Sagittarius -- a square, hence, your Pluto square.

This is not an aspect that gets a lot of air play (such as the Saturn return at 29). But it's equal in measure, in importance and in effectiveness to the Saturn return, and if there is any aspect of your life that's stuck, this one will get you going. You just may not like it at first. But by the time it's done its work, you will be very glad, and have a little altar to Pluto set up in your kitchen.

This aspect is all about letting go of the past. Any work not accomplished by the Saturn return five years ago (which sounds like your divorce, because sometimes the Saturn return can get going early) can be cleaned up at the Pluto square. That seems to be its purpose; it's another major leverage point for growth.

I do want to comment on something you said, about, "bringing in change and letting go of the stale." This sounds like a good intention, but there is more to clearing up our lives than that. Often it takes sustained effort, and connection intention with action on a daily basis, to make real changes. Your Pluto square phase is likely to come with that kind of energy, so get ready for it. Pluto is not a passive energy, and it pushes us to take sustained actions over the long-run -- not to do something and hope it will have results. With Pluto, there is always something else to do -- until there is not, and we know there is bnot because we actually feel better and often, at the end, have a very different life than any we ever knew.

Progress, Outer Planet Styled

Hi Eric
I have one more year left before my youngest child goes off to school. I have enjoyed very single minute of being an at-home mother and raising our two children. I have very mixed emotions about the next couple of years, teary because my babes are growing up but also quite excited/anxious about this next chapter in my life. I have dabbled in astrology for years but am unsure what path I should take. Any clues? Thank you very much, just love reading your website.

Brisbane, Australia, 5:30 pm AEST.

Dear Mandy
Congratulations to you, and thank you on behalf of your kids, for devoting yourself to being a mother. I've cast your chart, and I think two factors are particularly significant at the moment. Both have one quality in common: independence.

Mandy chart

At the very bottom of your chart, on what's called the IC, you have the sign Sagittarius. You'll see that because there's the number 23 next to it. The IC or 4th house cusp has a lot to do with parenting, the household, the security base, and one's emotional conditions. It just happens that at the moment you've written to me, Pluto is about to cross that line and enter your 4th house. This is a long process; most Pluto transits take two years. But you're at the very peak of this transit now -- as in right now.

This tells me that you're very likely to make some big changes, and that the transition in the lives of your children is part of a much bigger change for you -- in fact, a total reorientation. You're likely to be seeking your emotional independence, which will take root in all your relationships.

On a very similar note, you have a Pisces Moon. It's in red, looking like a little crescent Moon, on the right side of the chart, with the number 8 next to it. Right now Uranus is in Pisces and in 2005, it's going to begin its transit, by exact conjunction, of your Moon. The Moon says 'mom', 'house', 'household', 'feelings', 'security' and -- in your case -- your truly compassionate and spiritual meanings.

When we add Uranus to that picture, the energy of change increases in giant leaps. The transition indicated by Pluto crossing the IC is just one factor that is saying the same thing -- the chart amost always repeats its messages, particularly the important ones.

The question now is, how are you going to work with these changes? What are you going to do with your need for more independence, freedom, excitement, and self-sufficiency? I strongly suggest you get your husband or partner (you didn't mention one; I am making an assumption) in on the project, because he's about the most important person whose cooperation you will need.

When one person in a relationship goes trough such awesome changes, really both people in the relationship are getting the transit. It would be interesting to see his chart at the moment and note the ways he's being called upon to grow, to expand his life and to develop his style of family and relationship.

These can be truly exciting and liberating developments -- if they are handled consciously.

Thanks for your excellent questions.
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A Few Housekeeping Points
When you write a letter to me for this column, you have a much better chance of having it answered if you keep it short and succinct. Rewrite it a couple of times till you get it clear. Have a definite focus, and present it in a way that's clear and lends itself well to a response. Write in your best English and please honor the rules of punctuation and capitalization that you worked so hard to learn. And please spell out your birth data, such as Jan. 1, 1980 at 3:45 AM in Leeds, England.

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