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Archive for Friday 11th March 2005

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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Dear Readers & Friends,

Today is the 11th anniversary of the day that I walked into Esoterica Books in New Paltz, New York and walked out with a copy of the Rosicrucian Ephemeris for the 20th Century and a deck of the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris. That was my birthday in the midst of my Saturn return.

Since this is a column about revealing astrology secrets, perhaps the story is apropos of the moment. Those were two main tools I used attempting to crack the code on a particular horoscope column that was running in The New York Post. The third was Alan Leo's astrology dictionary. Common sense suggests that if you want to learn a craft, learn the words that describe the work, so I followed that idea.

In essence, astrology is about secrets, because very few people make it accessible. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the net effect is that, most of the time, a kind of veil is thrown over the whole subject matter. Many attempts to explain things make them more complicated, as astrology must be communicated in spirit, as a feeling, and not just as technique or ideology. And in part, the veil exists within the mind of each person who approaches the subject, because we're not trained to look behind the puppet theatre of life. So by insisting on looking just at the puppets and not the strings and the paints and the puppeteer and his apprentice working up a good sweat in five different voices, we tend to miss the real show.

The winter that I bought that ephemeris, I was ass-deep, no, way over my head and treading water, in investigating Monsanto, General Electric and Westinghouse, plus various government agencies that had conspired to poison a lot of people with PCBs and dioxins. Think: thousands of pages of internal corporate documents from the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, kind of like a golden oldies station. Think: 10 full rewrites of each piece, and lawyers reading over the articles before they were published. So this notion of looking behind the veil was becoming natural, and though the subject was grim, it was interesting and there was a sense of justice around the work. And if you're looking for sensible, loving people, go meet some dioxin activists. Plus, newspapers and magazines were actually publishing what I wrote, which investigative reporters need more than money. My friends Chris and Jerry bought me a heck of a lot of dinners at the Wildflower Café that winter, going over lots of details and possibilities over brown rice and vegetables. I had a girlfriend named Hilary who had a touch of a sinister mind and a great sense of humor, and I bounced everything of her, too. Which was a good thing, because the subject matter was extremely heavy and it was difficult to find a shred of optimism.

That, I found in astrology.

So this was the backdrop of my plunging into an ephemeris for the first time. And while you don't need to be an investigative reporter to learn astrology, you need to bring some of that spirit of determination. You must need to know like you need to breathe -- otherwise, particularly with astrology, you just don't find out, and it may never make any real sense. And you have to be patient. You start by collecting the pieces one at a time, then one day you stick two together and you might get that feeling of AH! -- contact. So that's how that aspect works. Just keep at it and, I assure you, you'll get there. If you really want to.

In case you're wondering what the ephemeris looks like, here is a sample. It's from Raphael's Ephemeris, which, if you have even modest aspirations toward being an astrologer, you'll invest a five quid and get yourself a copy of:

Raphael's Ephemeris

Don't worry -- it looks a lot more complicated than it is. Using the book can be explained in half an hour -- maybe a good column topic.

Rapheal's is an annual edition, not a full century; after many, many decades in print, they have still not come out with a full-century edition, though I hear they pray about it often. (If you want a really nice full-century one, get the Aureas Ephemeris, from France. It's by far the best full-century ephemeris in print. You can get it at the Astrology Shop in London -- and you can get Raphael's there, too.) The ephemeris is more important than any chart, including your own. It contains all the astrology information you need to navigate through the most important moment -- NOW. Any newspaper astrologer could write an entire year of horoscope columns based on what's contained in that 48-page booklet, and many do. It contains so much information that it often seems like the best you can do is stick a spoon under the waterfall, but that's a good start.

As for the Tarot. The Major Arcana contains illustrations of all 12 signs and most of the major planetary energies. They present the images in the form of a little story of personal transformation. This story takes you on the 'Fool's Errand' from the Magician or Magus to the World or the Universe (depending on your deck, but it amounts to the same thing). These pictures will become very helpful in giving a sense of tangible substance to the ideas you're getting through the astrology. Pictures almost always help with processes of conceptualization.

The Minor Arcana combines the energies of the planets and the signs. Particularly in the Thoth Tarot, there is a lot of astrology information given in the Minor Arcana; each card as an aspect on it. Plus, you get a working sense of the elements -- Earth, Air, Fire and Water, because these make up the main structure of the Tarot.

But working with the cards assists with something else. It teaches you the feeling of reaching into the unknown and coming out with something that makes sense right now. Cards teach you about synchronicity in a direct, physical, tangible way. Then you get to practice, and practice feeling the connections between the unconscious mind, the hidden dimension, and the events and affairs of the world. You get to reach into seeming nothingness, and come out with something -- often, something quite personally meaningful, and with the sound of Spirit whispering to you. If you want to be an astrologer, that's the sound you need to hear -- the thread of light at the heart of it all.

Here is the chart for the Pisces New Moon, which was earlier today.

Pisces New Moon

And here are a few of your questions this week -- please keep them coming; we really love to hear from you. Catch you soon over at Planet Waves.

Dear Eric
Please can you help me? I am a mother of a four year old autistic child. I have been told by his teacher at school that the New Moon may be affecting him.

I am very interested in learning about this; is there anywhere I can go to get further details on this subject? He has been diagnosed now for two years with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is driving me mad at times...

Hoping you can help me to understand my son...


Dear Wendy
It is beyond question or doubt that the New Moon, the Full Moon and other more subtle moves by the Moon affect every living thing, including your son. And this has been a particularly emotionally tense week in a number of ways, mostly revealed by the Mars-Saturn opposition that we have been experiencing the past seven or eight days, and which peaked Monday.

As often happens, this week the planets are playing a symphony, not a solo, and Mars-Saturn is accompanied by a series of aspects that peaked Thursday morning with the Pisces New Moon. This last aspect turned out to be a relatively peaceful and supportive one, coming as it did in a trine to Saturn -- we could do a lot worse than Pisces New Moon trine Saturn, and not a lot better. However, even at the best of times, the New Moon can be intense, as it focuses a lot of energy in one direction and one point in the chart.

I do suggest you keep an astrological calendar handy and keep track of the major lunar phases. People in general, but in particular, people who are deeply connected to the unconscious realm -- such as those who suffer from autism and other situations that affect linguistic and cognitive regions of life -- will move in certain ways that you will be able to correspond to the motion of the Moon. This may not solve anything, but it will provide an occasional clue, and perhaps some advice about timing once you've observed the Moon over a few seasons.

Astrology may help in other ways as well. Yet it's important to remember that astrology does not provide cut and dried answers. We want it to -- and we need it to, but that's not its style. Astrology is circumspect and its insights come through intuition as much as they do through thought, and often they take time to sink in and have their effects.

I've cast your son's chart. I have never been involved in 'breaking the code' on a case of autism, but his chart offers a few clues. Imagine that he is a person with an overpowering sense of self-consciousness but no easy way to focus it. He feels so much, but his personality does not quite take the light he is emitting and arrange it into a pattern that he can focus on. I would suggest that any exercises, games or play involving recognition would be helpful. For example, if you take a collection of photos of an actor in different roles and make a game out of it, that could be helpful.

Looking at another aspect of the chart, I can see that he has a situation where knowing how to apply energy, how to apply and how to apply resistance, can become quite mixed up. I would suggest that any exercises that involve teaching him the differences between pushing, resisting and relaxing could be quite helpful. You could do these with toys, other physical objects, or physical exercises that involve his body, breath and movement. Keep this very basic.

He is incredibly physical, with Taurus so powerful in his chart, but he experiences his physical-ness primarily as emotion, and this is overwhelming. The emotional intensity seems to blot out his ability to think clearly. Language, the ability to resolve ideas with his mind, and to understand in tangible terms what is going on around him are quite challenging. But this does not reduce the intensity -- only increases his frustration. So he needs to gradually develop translation tools that help him integrate his experience with that of the world and the people around him. These are going to be intuitive tools that are based on feeling and sensing, rather than ideas.

I think relatively simple experiences involving the gratification of feeling understood will be genuinely helpful. He needs to know when you understand him, and he needs to know in clear terms. To really do this, you will need to tune in on an intuitive level, something I am sure you've been practicing quite a bit for the past four years.

Gradually, I think, he will orient himself on the world around him in more clear and accessible ways. But as much of that is going to come through his body and his physical feelings as it is through his mind and his perceptions.

Please let me know how he progresses. I will send you a copy of his natal chart privately.

Dear Eric
I was born on June 4, 1942 at 12 noon in the town of Grimsby, Ontario, Canada, I am as you can see in the transition period between middle age and the final chapter. The past several years have been difficult.

The welcome end of an overly long marriage was not without its problems. Now I am going through a period of adjustment after the unwelcome end of a two and a half year relationship. Throw in a health mystery and subsequent employment/financial spices just for good measure. I've been very successful as a parent and in my career, but I have never had a successful 'romantic' relationship. I've noted that recently here in Canada this has become a big issue. I expect it has something to do with witnessing our parents' stay-together-come-hell-or-highwater marriages and finding that this model just doesn't work for us, or often for them. It might also be a result of marriages starting out in one social climate but being lived in another.

But I, like millions of others, really want a partner to share life with. It appears that most of the questions I see on your site are from younger people, but I feel just as lost and confused and fearful now as I did at 19. This is both surprising and disappointing. Life has thrown me some curves just as I'm losing mine, and it unnerves me to find myself in this position of lost confidence. My question is where do I go from here and how do I get there? And is there any there? When you are young there seems to be so much time to get it right.

None the Wiser

Dear NTW
Isn't it interesting that the most common feeling on our planet is loneliness, and the most abundant thing is people? Do you ever wonder what's going on with that?

There's something in your chart that suggests to me that the old models of relationship no longer work. There is something in society that also suggests the old models of relationship no longer work -- but that something shows up very personally for you. You are someone who needs to blend a need for emotional freedom with a rather strong drive to bond. So you have this interesting mix in your psyche, and for you, the need for both bonding and freedom are undeniable. By freedom I am talking about emotional freedom, but you also need a lot of social freedom -- you need your friends and the people you look up to, and you need someone who these other people in your life do not threaten.

You are, in a sense, a person of the future, floating around on an island of the past. It is more than interesting how much the world has changed in the past century, and still most of society's institutions are still attempting to enforce the same model of compulsory heterosexual marriage (I'll call it CHM for short) as the one and only true way of life. Even assuming that CHMs were indeed the most virtuous thing there is, our society is for the most part no longer made of the same extended families, neighborhoods, and communities that would have, in the past, supported relationships and households.

So these relationships, when they happen, often have a high-and-dry feeling, because they are not well integrated into the larger experience of life. This is a big deal because humans are tribal animals, not solitary ones. Yet we tend to ignore this and see our primary relationships as molecules that float around having little to do with the larger lives we live, or the lives that we need. The relationship model we are taught tends to deny affection, love and support from 'outside' the relationship, we are taught to be threatened by these things. Often the relationship is seen as a retreat from one's usual activities with peers. And that is a truly unstable situation, as is proven by divorce statistics, which have increased substantially since the 1970s. This is not good for us, or our kids.

Assuming a noon birth, as you've suggested, your chart tells an interesting story where relationships are concerned. The ruling planet of your ascendant (Mercury, as you are Virgo rising) and the ruling planet of your descendent (7th house or partnership angle, Jupiter, as you are Pisces there) are in a conjunction. But Mercury is retrograde and Jupiter is not, so the two are pulling away from one another. Alternately, if we use Neptune as the ruler of Pisces, Mercury is square Neptune -- an equally challenging situation.

It seems to me that what you are set up for is a lifetime of learning scrupulous honesty in your relationships. If you are seeking a partner, I suggest you consider the field of possibilities to be all those with whom you can be truly honest about who you are and what you need. This statement runs rather contrary to what we're generally taught -- don't be yourself; don't reveal who you are.

To get to know ourselves means casting off the many layers of denial we are taught by our parents, church and other 'social' institutions. You have a rather unique way of feeling, and while we could say this about anyone, you are truly an individualist and you really need to come from an unusual depth of self-understanding in order to relate to another person. You have many, many planets in Gemini as well, so this means you need to get to know yourself from several perspectives and know all the facets of yourself well.

Then, from there, I think you'll be able to invent a relationship form that you can live with, but that is truly unique to you. Remember the extent to which you are turned on by intelligence, but also need sensuality. Remember; don't forget.

Dear Eric
My new granddaughter Kylah has Chiron within one degree of her 8th house, which is full. Uranus, Neptune, Venus, and Mercury. Do we apply Chiron to the 8th house as well?


Dear Debbe
I would say to count the 8th house, Debbe. I follow William Lilly's rule that when a planet is within five degrees of the following house, you count the next house. However, I also feel that the house cusps are like a zone of their own, where we make the transition from one side of a subject to the other. There is a reason the two houses are next to one another; that the issues are joined. And when a planet falls on the house cusp, or very close to it, that process is indicated. So you need to make up an interpretation that bridges your ideas about the 7th house with those of the 8th house.

However, she is a small child. So I strongly suggest you don't do too much interpreting, and get to know her instead of her chart. Her chart will come out in time; but she is very, very young and she needs to make up her own mind before people make up her mind for her. And that is a basic reading of an 8th house Chiron.

Chiron in Aquarius

Dear Eric
I have heard that Chiron is moving out of Capricorn and into Aquarius, right about now.

I also understand that Chiron will move back into Capricorn for a brief stint in August. What does this movement in and out mean for Capricorns?

Warmest regards,

Dear Sharon
I covered part of this question in the Feb. 18 edition of this series as the lead article, and from another perspective on Planet Waves. I could add a bit more about the details of the Aug. transit of Chiron back into Capricorn, and then its final return to Aquarius.

Chiron is a planet that moves around the Sun fairly slowly, at least compared to the Earth. So when the Earth orbits the Sun, it changes our perspective on the location of Chiron, and at times Chiron appears to move backwards. This is called parallax motion. It is an illusion, on one level, but it accounts for the retrograde effect of outer planets.

Sometimes when an outer planet (Chiron, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto) changes signs, it goes from one sign straight into the next. But more often, it will dip into the new sign, then return to the old sign, and then go back to the new sign 'for good'.

Astrology is a symbolic system as much as it is a 'real' one. So we can read this kind of transition symbolically as a more gradual change of eras rather than a sudden, abrupt transition. This is how time flows, and in this case, the astrology reflects it. But since we have not lived through this particular transit or anything like it for 50 years (which factors out most of us), we have to see what happens.

As for how this affects Capricorns, there are two answers. For newspaper horoscope writers (those using Chiron, anyway, but the same would be true with any outer planet), we use this as a general symbol that has specific meaning to the degree that the astrologer using the symbol is able to make general statements about the condition of the sign. Certainly it's a rich image, Chiron shuttling back and forth over the line between Capricorn and Aquarius, which associated with Saturn and Uranus -- the two planets most associated with Chiron. And many of those statements will have some resonance.

For astrologers doing natal charts, this change will be particularly vivid in the lives of people who have anything at all in the last degrees of Capricorn; who are born on the last days of Capricorn; or who have late Capricorn rising. And, of course, early Aquarius -- since Aquarius is the new sign that is getting the influence of Chiron.

Any way you look at it, it's the end of an era -- particularly in political and social history. Which, I am quite sure, just about everyone is going to welcome with open arms.

Here's a bit about Chiron in Capricorn, written nearly four years ago.

Incomplete Chart

Dear Eric
I love your Planet Waves writings; thank you for doing them. My question: I have been attempting to have my chart done. Two astrologers told me, consecutively, "There is something wrong with your chart, this is not right, no, nyet, better not to." A third told me my chart is "incomplete" and would be difficult to read, she doesn't get a good feeling, part of it is "missing" so bye bye. Huh? While I will be the first to admit my life has made soap operas seem like they're not even trying, I have learned to maintain a sense of humor. But frankly, this uncharming hairnet of dread arranged by three sets of astro hands around my chart seems a bit much, and has left me curious and, face it, irked. Is there something odd about my chart? Is it stuck to the bottom of Chiron's clubfoot shoe? What? You always seem well balanced; hence, may I toss this curious hot potato to you? I was born on September 1, 1957 in Chicago, IL, USA at 6:58 a.m. Do I proceed in my quest to have my poor little circus freak of a chart done, or do as my friends suggest and give up? (If the answer is truly scary, blink once...)

Thank you,
Chart Challenged Virgo in Boston


Dear Andrea
I have looked at your chart and I did not blink. I am looking at it now. I have no idea why, or which, astrologers told you that your chart is wrong or incomplete. And I don't know how much authority this will carry or reassurance it will bring you, but those comments are among the most ridiculous I've ever read in my nearly 4,000 consecutive days of nonstop obsession with astrology. It is true: every now and then you hear something really over-the-top, which is why it's important to take astrology with an open mind and a grain of salt. Someone will declare in a book that a planetary placement ruins the chart. Or that something suggests someone is cursed in some way. These are the kinds of statements we need to throw away -- and fast.

It is, however, unusual that you had three astrologers refuse to read your chart. Looking at your natal, I cannot see any reason, even for concern, that there is something amiss with the chart, as a chart. I think you have the usual mix of great, good and not so great things, but any astrologer who actually reads charts for a living sees that as many times a day as they see a client.

I have said many times and will remind you: the astrology you get is only as good as the astrologer you get, so, speaking to everyone, choose your astrologer well. But how to do that is another question. You can really only go by three things. One, the quality of what they write, particularly the ideas. Two, a referral from someone who has had a good experience. Three, luck.

The same holds true with books. It's important to seek books that are highly regarded, as well as to consult many commentaries. And in the end, you must live through your chart and see what happens as the transits and progressions come and go. That, really, is the full experience of astrology.

Looking at your chart, I can't see anything that is 'wrong' or that it is somehow not complete. I see all the planets. They are arranged in one of about six quadrillion ordinary patterns. It was an ordinary day in history. In Redding, CA, the Seventh Day Adventists opened a new church sanctuary. It was the last day that Pelican Stadium was used in New Orleans. The Pelicans were beat by Memphis 7-3. The Moon was in Sagittarius and the Sun was in Virgo on the day you were born. That happens once a year for about three days. Mercury was retrograde in Virgo. That happens every few years for three weeks.

You are born with Virgo in the ascendant (rising), just past sunrise. It seems like just another typical day in the cosmos, if you're asking me, which you are. And I am dismayed that an astrologer would not take your chart up like the professional they claim to be, and begin the discussion by asking you what is going on in your life, and why you are seeking the guidance of astrology.

So may I ask? Maybe you could help clarify by sending another letter, stating your needs and concerns.

If I may make a suggestion, as you have your Chiron return coming up next year, this would be a good time to begin looking at Chiron. At this point, I wholeheartedly recommend two authors, Melanie Reinhart, who takes a more psychological approach in her two books, "Chiron and the Healing Journey" and "Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs"; and Barbara Hand Clow, who takes a more experience-oriented approach in her book "Chiron: Transformational Bridge."

Also, I've written a copious amount on this site, (free archives), as well as on Planet Waves and Planet Waves Weekly. You might start here.

For reference, you have Chiron in Aquarius, in the 5th house but on the cusp of the 6th house. So I would read Aquarius, as well as 5th and 6th house placements, when you are in a book that organizes the information by house or sign. Your Chiron is retrograde. All in all, you're probably a truly original thinker, you're likely to have boundless energy, and you wish you were more of a raging optimist than you are. But with all you've been through the past five years, you have good reason to be optimistic, because you know it could have turned out worse, and probably turned out much better than you were expecting. Make a list of everything you're now free from and you'll see it's a fairly long list.

Anyway -- please get back to me with specific questions for your astrology and I'll be happy to take up your letter in a future column.

What will happen?

Hi Eric!
I was born (at least in this life) on March 31st, 1957, at 6:15 am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I've been told that career and financial success is something that will more than likely happen for me in the last half of my life (whatever that is). Also, that success in career will come first, followed by a successful relationship with a significant other. My question is, do you concur with this? Quite frankly, I feel like things are about to kick off for me in ways it never has before with my career and wanted to get your input. By the way, I love your website.


Dear Maria
It's not my style to look at the chart and start making predictions. Some astrologers do it much better than me. Even in my horoscope columns I do my best to be an armchair psychologist and offer some of grandma's common sense rather than try to be Nostradamus.

You certainly have an exciting chart, in that you are not the kind of person to sit around and wait for life to happen. With eight major points in the fire signs, including six in Aries, nothing is likely to stop you in this life, not even the biggest mountain range. Certainly, your optimism will be well rewarded and you have a lot to be thankful for: you are inventive, creative and truly passionate about life.

And the forthcoming eclipses, one of which involves Aries, will stir the pit a bit and get you thinking about who you are, what you want, and who you want to be.

I would say that your chart is so full of creative initiative, that you would just be wise to take the good tidings of the astrologer you spoke to, and go out and get the life you want going. You could spin gold from dross, and you have an excellent way of being self-aware and self-supportive that helps others do the same.

So share your wealth, and spread the good vibes.

Planet Waves Weekly is the only place online to get the weekly horoscope of Eric Francis, both emailed and posted to the Web each Friday. The Friday mailing comes with a weekly birthday report. Plus, there is a Monday mailing of a bonus horoscope. 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 two yeas of archives of essays and horoscopes. Planet Waves Weekly is about to add a daily astrology feature that will describe how to make the most of the energy of the day. And all subscribers get free access to Bridge to the Core, the 2005 annual pages. 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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