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Eric Francis Astrology Q&A
Archive for July 28th 2006

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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Chaotic Times & Turning Points

Dear Friends, Near and Far:

WE ARE in the midst of a challenging, chaotic moment of astrology. However you look at it, whether emotionally, psychologically or if you dare to turn on the television, we have a lot to process and deal with. How do you do that? The first thing is to say to yourself, "Wow, I have a lot to deal with right now," or, "The world is in an overwhelming state and I have no clue how to handle it." Or just state out loud to yourself whatever you happen to be experiencing.

I'll tell you this, and anyone who wants is free to fling their copy of "Magical Mystery Tour" at me like a Frisbee, but we are in a time of history every bit as intense, tragic and rich with potential as the 1960s. But what's missing is a sense of potential, experimentation and the desire to change the world. I think lots of people feel it deep in there but have no sodding clue how to express it, that is, to express themselves, particularly when we look around a see just about everyone else acting more or less normal, following the instruction manual.

I assure you: Trust me: Listen up: We all have a lot of energy to let go of and create with, and "if we could say anything" there is a lot we would indeed say. We all have our ways we would like to change the world, and ways we would be more authentically ourselves in our personal expression. So, I ask you, my friends, far and near; I ask you, sitting at your computer reading this: what, exactly, are you waiting for? For the cosmic ice cream truck to show up and sell it you for two quid?

At a certain point, you must be the one who gives yourself permission to be who you are. Why are we so wound up? Well how about 25 years of being told to Say No and buy Pepsi? We are, to put it in a word, a repressed society. The way to get un-repressed is not to read another book. The way to do it is to give yourself permission to be free, then immediately dare to try something new and/or naughty. Heck, this is already the SIXTH year of the Naughties -- naught Six ('06). What exactly are you waiting for?

Everyone would feel better with a way to get together and vent energy.

For people who are moving through the current energy with some ease, and feeling pretty good, be aware that people around you may be struggling a bit, and there are many who have no built-in mode for having fun right now. The world needs help with this, and also needs a lot of healing energy sent out now to individuals who may be feeling the challenges, and to the Middle East, which is at the moment becoming engulfed in all-out war.

The most immediate aspect influencing everyone and everything is Mercury stationing direct in Cancer. For the past three weeks, Mercury has been retrograde, something it does about three times a year. This ends overnight Friday to Saturday in most time zones (during the day Saturday down in Oz). The exact moment is less important than the general phase of time we're in, which lasts about a week in total with Friday, July 28 as the epicenter.

Sometimes this is called the "Mercury storm," and it can be a creative time, a moment of seeing through reality, a moment of making up your mind, a moment of letting the past go. Much of the effect that planets have involves their daily speed; that is, how many degrees they move in a day. Generally speaking, the slower the movement, the more powerful the effect. When Mercury is stationing, it moves slower and slower till it stops, then it starts in the new direction and picks up speed -- but this happens in a concentrated time period. This little table will give you an example. It tells us how many arc minutes (fractions of a degree) Mercury is moving each day this week. An arc minute is 1/60th of a degree, so as you can see, Mercury is moving well under a degree per day right now, which is another way to say slow and powerful.

Daily Motion of Mercury

July 26 Wednesday - 14 arc minutes, retrograde
July 27 Thursday - 9 arc minutes, retrograde
July 28 Friday - 3 arc minutes, retrograde
July 29 Saturday - 3 arc minutes, direct
July 30 Sunday - 9 arc minutes, direct
July 31 Monday - 15 arc minutes, direct
Aug 1 Tuesday - 22 arc minutes, direct
Aug 2 Wednesday - 28 arc minutes, direct

Note the speed changes, in particular, the increase we're about to experience. By Aug. 7, the daily motion is up to one degree and still building. So, in a very short time, it accelerates from the speed of an outer planet like Pluto (3 arc minutes a day, very slow) to the speed of the Sun (1 degree per day, pretty quick), and it makes this change in just 10 days. This is why Mercury is, at times, such a confusing planet and why Mercury stations are so intense.

I summed up the effect pretty good in an old article: "Stations can be stormy times, but they are also beginnings, and represent clear interchanges where decisions lead to different outcomes than those to which we’re normally accustomed. They are times of accentuated change."

Mercury is what's termed a personal planet. When astrologers use this pharase, they usually mean Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars. The "personal points" (things that are not physical objects, but which are still very effective) include the ascendant, the midheaven (the angles) and the Aries Point.

The more these points are involved, the more we tend to feel and experience the astrology directly and personally. Of course, the outer planets have many different effects -- but they are usually the most effective when they are aspecting a personal point. The more emphasis there is on Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn in your personal chart, the more intensely you're likely to be feeling this Mercury station.

Let's take a look at the chart for the exact moment of the station, put on the ground in Washington, DC. I'm not one of these astrologers who likes to cast charts for Washington -- no, no, not me. But every now and then, it comes time to track events from that lovely town.

Mercury Station Direct Chart

Mercury is the little green guy on the left side, with the antennas. If you want to learn astrology, learn the glyphs. They are you’re a-b-c's. It still has the Rx next to the degree (in red, too small to read) but we are at the moment of the station with this chart. I post it, however, less for a look at Mercury and more for a look at the Saturn-Neptune opposition that happens to be angular, in the 1st and 7th houses at the time in question.

This opposition is the big one that's coming in. Neptune is an outer planet -- a big, slow, vitally important planet. Saturn is the most distant planet of antiquity -- for many centuries it was the last planet, the edge of reality. We've posted quite a lot about Saturn-Neptune at Planet Waves and over the months I've referred to it quite a few times here, but we are now in the vortex. The process started last summer, and its taken one year to build to exactitude, which occurs for the first time on August 31. The most recent conjunction occurred in 1987. We are now at opposition. This is a cycle that is a little like the New Moon and the Full Moon. The conjunction is the equivalent of the New Moon and the current opposition is like the Full Moon -- a peak in the 35-year Saturn-Neptune cycle.

It is fair to say that humanity finds this a troubling aspect. But we also live in the age of psychology, spirituality and other forms of potential self-awareness, so we have a new level on which to take this aspect. I will have much more to say in the coming weeks, but it really comes down to this.

Neptune in Aquarius is, for most people, about living with mass delusions. Call them whatever you want, account for it however you will, but right now much of society is living in a dream. Saturn in Leo is about an extremely well-formulated dimension of self-awareness taking over and confronting those illusions. This is a moment to wake up.

Since we all wake up every morning, we know how difficult and groggy that experience can be, especially if you were comfortable sleeping. But, we are getting wake-up calls coming on fast and furious now. We need to listen to them, but we also need to develop the skills to manage the changes that we're being called upon to go through. I would love to hear from readers about how you're adapting and what you're learning in this crucial turning point of history.

This week we have three questions from readers. But first -- a pitch for Planet Waves Weekly. This is an astrology service written by me, delivered directly to you twice a week. It includes my horoscopes, birthday reports, and astrological analysis, as well as one article a week on a world event or personal growth theme. Your subscriptions to Planet Waves Weekly get you lots of great personal astrology, and they sponsor the Astrology Secrets Revealed project as well as the whole Planet Waves group of web sites. So please sign up! Our readers rave about the service -- we get high to very high marks from 98% of our readers!

Here is where you can learn more about Planet Waves Weekly. We're doing some very exciting stuff now, and the horoscopes are better than ever, or so I'm told.

Meanwhile, the daily blog and photos continue at Thank you!

Yours & truly,
Eric signature

Astrology help in this edition from Arwynne O'Neill and Paloma Todd. Editorial assistant: Rachael Stillman.

Pluto Challenges

Dear Eric
Over the years, I've become aware of stressful Sun/Pluto contacts because my mother was born with Sun in opposition to Pluto (early Aquarius/Cancer -- January 24, 1936). Astrology texts say that this is an indicator of someone who was tyrannical in a past life and now meets similar people in this one. Also that this person is dictatorial, intimidating, and has a horrible temper. All true of my mother. I've noticed that I've had a series of friendships with women who also have Sun/Pluto aspects. Three of my past friends had Sun square Pluto. All were Sagittarius with Pluto in Virgo.

All were very difficult friendships for me. Texts indicate that these are people who will run over others without a thought for the harm it may cause. One colleague at work -- a woman in authority over my work -- also had Sun in opposition to Pluto. And a longtime friend has Sun conjunct Pluto. Texts also indicate that these individuals have very difficult relationships with their fathers. Some have absent fathers.

So recently, with the death of former Enron CEO Ken Lay on the local news in Houston, his birth date was revealed to be April 15, 1942. I looked up his chart and discovered that he has Sun square Pluto (late Aries/early Leo.) I surmised that this aspect gave him the audacity to think that he was more important that those whose trust he carried -- his employees and stockholders, and to run roughshod over their interests. I suspect that he could not face his own wrong doing, and so conveniently had a heart attack and died to further escape responsibility. Can you comment further on Sun/Pluto contacts, particularly the stressful ones?

Thank you and regards,

Dear Tyra
It sounds like you're having a hard time with the Sun-Pluto energy pattern. Plenty of people do. Unfortunately we don't have your chart to see how this expresses itself in your astrology. But let's do a little overview of Pluto and see where that leads us.

Speaking as objectively as we can, I don't think you could credit Sun-Pluto with anything but intensity. Intense in what way is up to the individual involved. While Pluto possesses certain traits, they are not inherently filled with, or lacking, morality. One's chart is one's vehicle; with it, you go where you can, and where you want. Your chart is your tool; like a knife, you can make dinner with it, or you can attack people with it. And I am extremely reluctant to associate any astrology with a past life condition unless I have other confirmation that this is true. Reading it in a book is NOT enough.

Pluto is a particularly sharp knife; a hot torch; a point in the personality where there may be focus to the level of obsession. This can be self-obsession, or an extreme focus on a viewpoint, or on growth. It can also emerge as celebration and revelry, or the drive to get rid of the old and change ourselves, or society, for better. Pluto represents the brightest light of soul, and some of the deepest shadow of psyche. But it does not grant, or remove, integrity. Our decisions do these things. Astrologers need to be particularly sensitive to the fact that while the planets shape our personalities and may reflect our karma, everyone really does have a choice in what they do and how they respond to existence.

Admittedly, the kinds of dimensions that Pluto usually represents are not the ones that people commonly do well with, inherently, or as they express themselves as passion, sex, power and the extremely strong personality type. Face it, the Western world is pretty milquetoast, and these days, the solution to everything is to ignore it or stuff it. But we are still learning about the Pluto archetype. One writer who really gets it is Richard Tarnas, whose new book "Cosmos and Psyche" I reviewed here a few weeks ago. He compares the Pluto archetype to Dionysus. We could use a lot more of this particular god these days.

"The Plutonic-Dionysian principle appears to act by compelling, empowering, and intensifying what it touches, with profoundly transformative and sometimes overwhelming, destructive consequences."

With regards to Ken Lay, we would expect any person capable of focusing their energy well enough to found a major corporation to have some Sun-Pluto contact. The Sun is particularly useful in the equation because the sense of self, ego, glory, expression (whatever you like), needs to be focused in the charts of pioneers, largely because they need to blaze a trail and face adversity. Kenny Lay, whatever may have become of him, certainly did both.

I'm aware of the strong bias against Sun-Pluto aspects in astrology texts, which are often described as "stressful" -- the conjunction, square and opposition. They are stressful in different ways. The conjunction of the Sun to any planet can create so much emphasis on the other planet, focused through one's sense of self, that the rest of the world seems to lack it entirely. A square is often an internal level of stress; most people alternate between the two sides of a square, back and forth, for years. Some people, if they are devoted to maturity, integrate the square and take it as the enormous gift to the character that it becomes.

An opposition can work within relationships. Sun-Pluto is going to need to be truly realistic about authority, whether from the outside or that which they emanate themselves. They may have what are called authority issues, or they may figure out that they are powerful; at which point they will hopefully do something constructive with their power. Circumstances of life may predispose either creative or destructive tendencies, but the choice is always our own.

Even the most enlightened writers can come out biased against these placements. I'll give an example in a moment.

But if you read most astrology books, you get a pretty ugly picture of Pluto. Let's use one of the first writers to take up Pluto in the English language, Isabel Hickey. She sees the difficult side but also offers remedies, of a sort.

Of the square, she says, "There is too much self confidence which borders on egotism. However, this may be a cover up for a deep-rooted inferiority complex." But she adds, "The person with this aspect must go deep to regenerate his negative attitudes as there is a resistance to change, along with a very strong self-will."

Of the opposition, she states: "The ego which has been blown out of proportion must now be reduced to its proper size."

The bias I see is that she does not leave room for people to express these aspects creatively as a matter of freewill or instinct. It is true that most natives with Sun-Pluto in a conjunction, square or opposition seem to face a kind of uphill struggle, but they also have the resources to work with the challenges they face.

There are, however, plenty of times when people take what you might call the low road. You cannot usually tell this from the chart.

I was fortunate in that before I started reading astrology books, I was reading The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley, who takes a truly enlightened view of Pluto, equating it with the "prime mover" of ancient cosmology.

In practical language, Wikipedia states, "The term prime mover is used to describe the main power source where the application is complex. For instance, the engine which pulls a semi-trailer is sometimes referred to as a prime mover, although the term is much more common in industrial applications. Simply, in the case of an automobile, the engine is the prime mover whilst associated equipment such as the electrical generator, power steering pump, fuel pump etc., are secondary movers."

He is not saying it's good or bad; he's saying it's primary and not anything else. It would be great if more people recognized Pluto as an essential elemental force in their psyche and consciously put it to creative use. Not everyone chooses to do this, however.

Personally, I would suggest you do two things. One is get to know your own Pluto placement very well. Second, I suggest you seek and find examples of people who are using Pluto as a tool of construction, creativity, problem-solving and focus. Notice their inner processes; listen to their story.

Yours truly,
Eric signature


Hello, Mr Francis
My name is Michelle Jones. I love reading your writings. My question is: What is in my astrological chart that keeps me confused, unsure of my choices, prone to failure, and a magnet for attracting deceptive people into my life experiences? With so much negativity that goes on in my life, I feel like I am not supposed to be here. Is that possible?

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your feedback.


Dear Michelle
Truth be told, you have a challenging chart, and you've not been going through an easy stretch the past few years, either. The overall life situation you're describing is not based on any one astrological (or biographical) factor, but rather a combination of factors, several of which I will go over, with some basic interpretations.

But I want to start off by suggesting you get yourself a copy of A General Theory of Love. This will explain the way that family patterns create lasting emotional and mental chaos in our adult lives and relationships, and why working with a therapist for a few years is one of the best investments you will ever make in yourself.

Here's why I'm saying this up front and not as an afterthought. As effective as any astrological information may be (and astrology CAN help you, particularly practiced in the long run), it helps immensely to be in a process of highly focused self-discovery, with someone who has been down many roads before you. Ideally, a relationship with a therapist is somewhere you can BE YOURSELF without ANY fuss, fear or interference, and then, in the course of the work, practice doing just that.

We all have a lot to sort out. You're fortunate that being American, you're likely to be a lot more open to help than people in many other countries. Astrology can give you the starting point; but you need to take the ball and run with it. Imagine, though, that it's not a ball, but rather you as a little child, who you have to pick up and carry for a few years, until that child is strong enough to walk on her own.

Michelle's chart

The first thing I see is an image of yourself as a child, in the form of the 7th house Pisces Moon. The Moon in Pisces is the great sponge of the zodiac. Its personality traits are a high level of emotionality, absorbing the emotions and psychic projections of others, and somewhat unsteady moods. The Moon helps us clarify and define our needs, and with the Pisces Moon it can be very difficult for you to do so -- therefore, you can always be trying to adapt yourself to the needs of others, or depending on them for a clear image of yourself. This is a fine way to get lost. There are plenty who would take advantage of someone doing that.

The Pisces Moon is placed in your 7th house -- your relationship house. So, you take that whole paragraph above and put it in one of the most directly, personally relevant houses in the chart. This placement tells me a few things that confirm exactly what you report in your letter. One is that it's very easy for people to take advantage of you. Two is that it's difficult for you to have clear boundaries with people. Three (an example of point two) is that it's difficult for you to sort out your needs from those close to you. Four, you tend to see what you want to see in people, rather than what is actually there.

Why does this happen? Well, if you wrote an essay called, "My Mother's Relationships With Men," you would learn a lot.

When I first read your question a few weeks ago, I said, hmmm, sounds like Neptune. Everything you describe in your question has characteristics of a struggle of some kind with Neptune. Neptune is the planet that makes people into Mother Theresa or a horrid liar. It's the one that grants stunning artistic sensitivity, or addictive tendencies. It is EASY to corrupt, about as easy as it is to poison a lake. And it looks like when you were young, someone did a number on your trust. I can see this from Mars square Neptune.

This aspect speaks of a not so easy environment to grow up in, and it tends (as does the Pisces Moon) to blur the lines between truth and lies, healthy or toxic, creative or destructive. The patterns are always set early and then we have to do all the sorting out when we're older and realize that things are not going so well. But it takes a lot of clarity; devotion; awareness; and dedication to your own cause, which for you is not easy.

You CAN do this. But you have to be very stringent when it comes to matters of truth. If you catch anyone lying to you once, that needs to be the last time. I would also banish anyone from your life whose relationship with intoxicating substances is anything less than healthy. But the same is true for people who overdo any aspect of Neptune, from personal drama, to religion, to those who are not grounded and tend to uproot you.

But here's the real catch: owning your self-deception and not projecting this onto others. You must always acknowledge when you're telling yourself the truth, and when you're telling yourself little lies. I am sure you know -- the goal is to be fully conscious of the knowing, and then change your tune.

The past few years you've been going through a series of transits that have been shaking you up. These include transits from Uranus and Pluto which have been enforcing and imposing all kinds of changes on your life. To say chaos would be an understatement. In particular, Uranus crossing your 7th house cusp in 2003 and making a series of conjunctions to your Moon has probably brought one of the most unstable times in your life. Yet you may have also met some inspiring, exciting characters -- though I don't doubt you're wondering whether they're really good for you.

But they seem to have taught you to hold your own and to define your own reality with others. This is, in essence, the theme of your life: defining your identity, and finding yourself in your relationships. I have seen enough astrology like this, and talked to enough people, and have read your letter carefully enough, to know -- this is likely to be VERY difficult for you.

You need the needs of others to define yourself, it would appear. Too much of this can be self-destructive, and to the extent that you do need the needs of others, you must contain that energy within a structure, such as volunteer work with animals (people are too darned complex, really). The path of a chart like yours is often service; strong Virgo and Pisces as you have will always benefit from serving. But this must be conscious, healthy service.

But more important is true introspection; inner vision. There are spiritual paths that can help, but I must tell you that I'm not the biggest believer. I feel that the strongest, most durable path of introspection when we really need help is working with a solid therapist, someone older than ourselves, who is of the gender that you have the least difficulty trusting. If you have more difficulty trusting women, get a male therapist, and vice versa.

You still have some very helpful and life changing midlife transits ahead of you. And as you get clear and make decisions, and most of all, as you define your own existence and set the terms of your relationships, you will only benefit. The fact that you have written to this column is telling me you're ready to clear your mind and accept the help you need. Let this be a beginning.

Please stay in touch, Michelle.

Yours truly,
Eric signature

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Dear Eric
In the article about Bush/Blair "open mic", you state that the Sun and Mercury are conjunct in the eleventh house. The chart you provide shows them in the tenth house.


Dear Cecilia
Here is the chart you're referring to, and the edition is that from last week.

The Sun and Mercury are indeed in the 10th house, good catch. When I make a mistake, I'm always curious how it happened and here's what I see. Mercury and the Sun are intercepted in Cancer in the 10th. They are in the 11th sign from the ascendant -- and if you use whole-sign houses, which I'm trained to do (in addition to the usual house system shown in the chart), Cancer actually counts for the 11th house. So, I think Cancer is working simultaneously as 10th or 11th.

I did not mention the interception -- that is, Cancer has no house cusp going through it. That's a sense of isolation. Bush is "in public" but he he is very isolated. But this, we know.

Thanks for writing in.
Eric signature

Reader Comment

Hi Eric
Some thoughts regarding last week's analysis of Bush and Blair's "Live Lunch" conversation.

"Image of Bush, 28 Virgo: "A baldheaded man who has seized power."

I think "baldheaded" refers to sexless. Hair is a symbol for virility. It’s like "a man without the power to satisfy himself or another overcompensates by seizing power."

Fits Dick Cheney perfectly. (Although Laura will tell you it fits Bush, too.)

Also, Jon Cainer had a really good essay on Tony Blair's chart and the relationship to Bush’s. Basically, it said that Blair is being used by Bush. That there’s a blind spot there for Blair. I tend to see his actions in that light – which renders him less heinous, but sadly even more pathetic.

Interesting analysis of the transcript. Geeze… "Yo, Blair..." "Sophomoric, crass imbecile" doesn’t begin to describe it. You really do feel like you’re dreaming when you see that.

Anyway – Thanks for the analysis!

Deborah in Seattle

Dear Deborah:
Here are some lyrics you may enjoy.

And remember, as old Dick Nixon said, "The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous of a weapon as it was in Samson's day."
Eric signature

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