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Archive for June 30th 2006

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Cosmos & Psyche

Dear Friends, Far and Near:

It's not every day that a really exciting astrology book comes out. Sometimes you have to wait 30 years. As an astrology teacher, I have two main complaints: 1. There are nearly no good introductory astrology books, and by that I mean ones that cover the basic territory and don't fill your head with prejudices; and 2. Few are intellectually satisfying enough to be worth the time and effort reading. Usually it's just the same stuff over and over again.

Few people would call Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas an introductory work, but I do. In this brand new book, 30 years in the writing and which came out about two months go, Tarnas introduces us to the subject of astrology starting with the foundations of why it works, including exploring the phenomenon of "synchronicity" as documented (not theorized) by Carl Jung in the early 20th century. Synchronicity is when an event or personal experience in life is strikingly symbolic, and relates to some deep inner process we are going through at the time. From there, Tarnas moves onto archetypes, which are basically living symbols shared by much or all of the human race and which, together, form much of the psyche. Anyone who has seen a tarot deck has been introduced to archetypes.

Working from this very solid ground of 20th century psychology, Tarnas begins the discussion of astrology. I was expecting a book on planetary cycles and long phases of history. I was not surprised to see his excellent discussions of biographies and the ways people express their charts and, from these examples, change the world.

What DID surprise me is that at the beginning of this discussion, be gives a table of planetary symbols, and uses very simplified astrological charts with just two or three planets that you can figure out even if you've never seen or read a chart before. Then you get many excellent discussions of astrology working in the lives of notable people, including scientists and writers, as well as many examples of astrology in the historical process -- kind of like we do here at Astrology Secrets Revealed, only in Richard's distinctive style and with a heck of a lot more experience than any of us have.

Along the way, he does a few really beautiful things. One is he peels away the veneer of skepticism that has plagued astrology for centuries, showing in very plain language why it is that astrology is a perfectly functional idea; that is, demonstrating, despite the false claims of scientists, why and how it works. Few astrology books ever get into the philosophy underlying why astrology works so well, and the ones that do often go over everyone's head.

But more fun is that he reveals what science and modern philosophy has done to the world, which is take away all the magic of existence. He explains that astrology seems weird only in a "disenchanted" world, where everything is reduced to formula and we never look beneath the surface.

This all being said, I want to offer a couple of cautions that should not stop you from enjoying this book. One is that Richard's writing style is solid. He assumes nothing. You will definitely put your university education to work reading this work (it's about time, isn't it?). Second, you're not going to be able to "look yourself up" and "understand your chart" by looking up placements. But I can pretty much assure you that when you're done reading it, you'll know what to do with an astrology chart, you will see the world in a very different light, and most likely have the confidence start working with astrology on your own. Astrology will become real to you, it will make sense, and you may find yourself wondering why everyone else is not seeing the obvious.

The book is available in London at The Astrology Shop at 78 Neal Street, Covent Garden (perhaps call first, as it's selling fast).

You can also get it from for only $18, in a first edition.

This week we have two questions focusing on Neptune, one of which involves Saturn.

Images of Saturn-Neptune

Hi, Eric

Since the Neptune opposite Saturn aspect that you spoke of earlier is occurring at about the same time as my second Saturn return, could you please give some positive images of this that I could meditate on?

Keep up the good work -- especially enjoying your photos.
Thanks, Laura

Dear Laura:

Let's just restate that a couple of different ways for readers not completely familiar with astrological terminology. You're having your second Saturn return, which, since it's happening now, means you have natal Saturn in Leo. The first Saturn return takes place between the ages of 28 and 30, and the second between 57 and 59.

At the same time, transiting Neptune in Aquarius is opposing your natal Saturn in Leo. To some extent, this is true of everyone with Saturn in Leo, since Neptune transits have a rather wide orb of influence.

Your natal Saturn is experiencing at least two transits right now: transiting Saturn is making a conjunction (or 'return') and transiting Neptune is making an opposition. Both suggest changes to the structure of your life, but using two different methods: the more nuts and bolts, compressed, practical nature of Saturn; and the more elusive, illusive, dissolving nature of Neptune. As you've noticed, the fact that these are happening simultaneously is indeed significant, probably pretty challenging, and has rather enormous creative potential.

There are two processes in motion. Oppositions tend to express themselves more through the environment, relationships and circumstances in the first instance, and then subsequently are internalized. Conjunctions tend to express themselves from the inside out, and are then, in the second place, expressed in our experiences with others.

Some imagery would help. You can think of Saturn in Leo as a beautiful, ancient tower in an open field. You can think of the Neptune opposition to Saturn as powerful rain that comes once in a lifetime and changes the landscape all around the tower.

At the same time, the Saturn return is saying it's time to do some structural work on your building; but the opposition to Neptune is saying that the time may not be right at this moment, particularly to make repairs or improvements to the outside, such as would be visible to the world.

Instead, you need to address the waters and the storm to the extent necessary, and possible: patch the roof, make sure the windows are shut tight and in good working order, and make sure you have the provisions you need. Then, address the restructuring of the tower from the inside out. Rather than work on the outside of the building any more than is necessary right now, work within your structure to make the adjustments you need.

Now, this is perhaps too concrete an image to convey what may be happening under the influence of Neptune; often we don't see the effects of Neptune transits until after they have come and gone, though working with astrology can give us some advanced time to prepare and address the themes involved.

The structure in this field involves something important about your sense of self, your sense of presence in the world and how you express your energy. In a sense, it's your ego in the most practical use of that word: your identity that relates to the outer world. Your own internal process is wanting to change things one way -- in fairly large bits, and in practical ways; but there are factors in your environment that are offering you something else: a more subtle kind of change, a gentler method of dissolving your ideas about yourself, and an approach guided more by inspiration and gradual melting and recreation than a more radical or sudden approach.

You do have some choice in the matter, and it would be helpful to choose whenever you can what method you will use.

One last idea that's worth considering is that in traditional astrology Saturn is one of the ruling planets of Aquarius. And it's now in the opposite sign, taking a transit from a planet placed in Aquarius. In traditional terms, Saturn is the dispositor of Neptune; it rules any planet in Aquarius. Because of this arrangement, the factor of structural integrity is likely to prevail as a working method.

The Lighter Side of Neptune

Dear Eric,

With Neptune coming up for retro soon, I have been more spacey than I want to deal with. What is the best side to retro Neptune?

Many thanks,

Dear Mona:

Let's take up the subject of Neptune retrograde -- there's plenty there. Now, I know what you're thinking. Neptune is confusing enough. Why does it have to be retrograde more than a third of the time? That makes it even more chaotic.

It is true, Neptune in any form is difficult to grasp, and it's often necessary to use some logic. This is an energy that's more like water than something solid, and you learn when you're little that you have to contain water in something to have any of it; and when you dive into a lot of the stuff, you have to take care not to drown. Relating to astrological Neptune works the same way.

This is by far the subtlest of the planetary energies we use routinely, relating at its best to realms of experience outside normal consciousness: expanded spiritual states; creative inspiration; intuition; high aesthetic sensitivity. The most common expressions of Neptune are in its denser and more toxic forms: deception and denial; the use and abuse of substances, which can foster deception and denial; and the absence of boundaries in interpersonal relationships, which creates mixed up, complicated situations.

If you're on a growth path, utilizing astrology as a tool, your relationship to Neptune is one of the most important things to work on. The nice thing about looking at life this way is that, if you have a problem with a substance (for example), you don't need to deem yourself an addict in order to conceive of your situation. You can, instead, think of the larger theme of Neptune in all its many expressions. Once you start working consciously with an archetype, you begin to develop a conscious relationship to the things it represents, and can, after a little while, begin to choose the levels on which you relate.

Retrograde adds another factor. Any planetary retrograde potentially suggests, at minimum, one or more of these possibilities:

1. Internalization of the energy involved. This is to say, during a transiting retrograde phase or when a planet is retrograde natally, it often functions as a more internally experienced factor than an externally expressed one. There is always a balance to maintain between the two modes, and often something to express despite a retrograde; and the need to internalize something despite a planet being direct.

2. Some reference to the past. Retrogrades are an effect of normal motion reversing itself, so there is some experience of time or progress moving backwards, people from the past resurfacing, or ideas from the past taking more importance in the present. There can be a review, or a time of integrating experience.

3. Some unique quality. With any retrograde, there is the sense of 'marching to the beat of one's own drummer'.

When you apply these ideas to Neptune, you get a powerfully influential inner world. There is an energy of reflection and thought. With any retrograde, a process is repeating or being gone over for additional development, emphasis or good measure.

I've suggested in quite a few articles that Neptune in Aquarius is the queen bee of the particular madness of our society right now. Aquarius represents many people, communities and ideologies shared by groups. When we look back (or if we look in the right mirror now) we'll see the extent of delusion that we live with as a society; a time of mass self-deception so vast and oceanic that we may fear that to begin having integrity would be like trying to bail out the entire sea with a tea cup.

I guess you need to start somewhere, and the retrograde to me is like a crosscurrent in the larger current of Neptune in Aquarius beliefs. There is an option; one need not experience it alone. There's a subculture we can access, a group that even those who are out of sync with the larger culture can tap into, or be part of the stream of.

On the natal level, here is a commentary from Martin Schulman's book Retrogrades and Reincarnation:

Retrograde Neptune Personality

The personality of the individual with retrograde Neptune is not easily understood by others. His motives do not possess the common sense that one expects to be at the root of all motivation. Instead, he vibrates to a higher music, heard only to himself. His perceptions do not come from the material plane, but are a direct connection with his Soul. Thus, he can be highly spiritual but cares little for the formed side of orthodox religion. He can have a great love for music, but cannot ascribe to any definite man-made structure within it. He senses practically everything, but he relates his senses much less to physical reality than to his perception of a cosmic universe. He knows much more than he could ever put into words, for here again he realizes the limiting qualities of language as being but just another formed boundary which could encircle his infinite understanding. He is able to see the appearances and illusions that others live in, and therefore has to try to make the best bargain between not toppling their sand castles, while retaining all the inner truths he knows.

Commentary on Neptune Retrograde (from

Retrograde Neptune is a time when the boundaries between reality and illusion get blurry and the energy of the dream life becomes larger than real life. Since the dreams are so close you can touch them, use this time to delve into your dreams -- keep a dream diary in the medium of your choice. Your dreams are speaking louder and clearer than the usual murky surreal dream state. Listen to your intuitions, court your muse, and seek inspiration. While the energy is so transcendent, stay extra aware of your boundaries and borders.

Commentary on Neptune Retrograde from Visionary Dreamer: Exploring the Astrological Neptune, Paul Haydn. Translated from Spanish by Paloma Todd

These natives feel a dilemma between their intimate inner needs and the outer world obligations; their needs is to find a meaning and purpose to all they do, and the outer world usually seems to them strangely resistant and inhibiting, especially because it puts them under the weight of social life obligations and economical restrictions.

Two Reader Comments

Dear Eric,

Just got another Galactic Core message and thought I'd pass it to you for your opinion. I'm thinking that all the attention and positive reactions to Al Gore's new film on global warming might be another example of the 3/29 solar eclipse. His sun is quite close to the degree of the eclipse and the Saturn in Leo trines it. Also, his Uranus (23 Gemini) trines the Neptune, Venus conjunction in the eclipse chart; his Mars/Saturn (and Pluto) opposes the Neptune/Venus conjunction, and his Jupiter at 29 Sag is close to the Galactic Core and transiting Pluto. Uranus has been going over his Mercury in Pisces, and in the 3/29 chart both transiting Mercury and Uranus are pretty close to his Mercury. There's probably a lot more, but it speaks loudly to me of film, artistic endeavors, shocking revelations, communication and global (if not galactic) matters. Not to mention the Aries Point "political is personal" stuff! What do you think?

Barbara Koehler

Dear Barbara:

I have not seen Al Gore's movie, but from what I hear it's a great example of Aries Point thinking, covering the interaction of people and our environment. I'm not surprised that he's having the kinds of transits you mention.

For those who are curious, Gore's data is March 31, 1949 at 12:53 pm EST, in Washington, DC. He was born in DC because his father was also a United States Senator.

Here is the chart, for anyone who is curious:

Al Gore Chart

Dear Eric,


Just a few scattered thoughts; I lived in the Hudson Valley of New York from about 1973 till 1987, most of that time in and around Rosendale. Was a little surprising to find someone else who had even heard of Rosendale, let alone lived there! Also I started studying astrology during that time, having gone through some very intense personal experiences and was seeking answers/explanations.

Astrology has since then been a great fascination, if not a vocation. Over the past few years that has only intensified. Something I've picked up on (thanks to you and the 9/11 chart) is a coming connection for Election Day in 2008. To wit, Saturn-Uranus opposition right across the 9/11 Sun (perhaps a bit of REVOLUTION?!?!), Neptune on the 9/11 Uranus, Pluto coming up to the 9/11 Mars. I would love to see you write on that. My take is that this will be a BIG turning point with (hopefully) the electorate if confusion around what "revolution" is properly addressed. That make any sense? Anyway, I have enjoyed your writing and astrological insights for years now and look forward to more!

Rob Green

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Planet Waves Weekly is the only place online to get the weekly horoscope of Eric Francis, both emailed and posted to the Web on a subscriber homepage each Friday. Eric is now writing Parallel Worlds, the 2006 annual edition of Planet Waves with the year-ahead forecasts, available to all subscribers. As a subscriber, you can keep up with Eric's essays on astrological developments, chart reading techniques, Tarot cards, and world affairs. Experience Eric's unique perspective as an astrologer-investigative reporter. Read more than three years of archives of essays and horoscopes. We invite you to look around and become one of many satisfied readers of Eric's daring and innovative astrology journal.

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