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Eric Francis Astrology Q&A
Archive for Friday 25th March 2005

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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Aries in Reverse

Dear Readers,

What interesting astrology we've got going on now. If I had to describe it in a single phrase, it would be "pioneering introspective" -- like an adventure story of opening up new inner territory. Lots of Aries action -- Amor, Venus, Sun, Mercury and the lunar node -- all say pioneering; and the fact of Mercury being retrograde is pulling the awareness inward. So we have a mix of outgoing and introspective -- which is really a perfect balance.

The Full Moon in Libra on Friday is keeping everything perky as well. Here, the Moon meets the Sun-Venus exterior conjunction, pouring a lot of feminine energy through the ethers. So there's really an excellent mix of outgoing and interior; of masculine and feminine energies.

Here is a chart for the Full Moon, set in Paris. The Moon is in gray, in Libra, conjunct the minor planet (asteroid) Pallas Athene. The Sun, in yellow, is conjunct Venus, in blue, in the 5th house of this chart (toward the lower right). Notice the conjunction of Mars and Chiron in Aquarius, on the bottom, just to the left of Neptune (the little blue trident). Notice the somewhat loose square between Jupiter in Libra (in orange, upper half of the chart toward the left) and Saturn in Cancer (top right, in yellow). This square is a developing story that occurs after both planets have gone into new signs -- Scorpio and Leo, respectively -- on Dec. 17. We'll be watching that particular news.

Libra Full Moon chart

And without further ado, here are some of your questions and charts this week...tune into Planet Waves for more.

Dear Eric
I have read many, many horoscope sites, but your site is the one which on a weekly level in particular has always seemed spot on. I was born in Greenwich, London on Aug. 20, 1954, I once read in a horoscope book (not one of Jonathan's!) that anyone born on Aug. 20, 1954 would die of stabbing! As I was at the time a youth worker, I handed in my notice soon after -- what a horrible thing to write. In fact, I still look over my shoulder! I teach teenagers with learning disabilities and a few years ago young lady with serious personality problems chased me around the kitchen with a pair of scissors, once again I was haunted by the thought of being stabbed to death. When this young lady left I breathed a huge sigh of relief. If you do look at my chart and find the time to contact me, I sincerely hope the prediction was wrong...If however...

Anyway, enough of that keep up the marvelous site. I thoroughly enjoy consulting it.

Many thanks

Dear Maria
I would have to really reach into my most paranoid fantasies to come up with a more irresponsible thing for an astrologer to write.

What many astrology writers forget and some know too well is that astrologers have influence in the lives, thought patterns and spiritual journeys of their readers. I think that what was printed by this writer was the worst kind of abuse of that trust. Personally, I think it's tricky enough predicting anything, and most astrologers these days lean more toward, "If you have a disagreement, work it out honestly" than they do, "You are going to have a disagreement." Even Mystic Meg tells you what you should have for dinner rather than trying to predict it.

One does not need a degree in psychology to figure out that this is more responsible, easier and more useful; it's merely making better use of the opportunity to communicate with the person who is reading and whose life may be affected for years by an off-hand remark in a general audience book or horoscope column that could reach literally anyone.

I would add that there are quite a few people who use astrology as their highest form of spiritual guidance, at least the kind that comes in print. Many people take astrology very seriously and it can, at times, carry the authority of 'word from on high', particularly if it is accurate from day to day. So when something really, really negative like that comes up, even randomly, it can be horrifying, and the more into astrology one is, the more frightening it can be. Fortunately it does not happen that often -- but it happens. There was the time I did a Tarot reading for a terrified young client who had just called the same hotline I worked for, and was told that she was pregnant with a space alien's child.

The question you face now is what to do with the fear, that sense of looking over your shoulder. I personally don't have a special fear of being stabbed but I can tell you that I would be bothered by such a comment; most people would. What we all need to remember is that idiots write about astrology too; heck, they write about lots of other subjects so why not the stars. I have been spoiled by the work of kind, conscientious, ethical and basically accurate astrologers. Most people who wander around this region of the Internet get that kind of treatment. This is not true of everywhere. That may help your rational mind deal with the prediction.

With any troubling astrological or psychic prediction, I would also suggest cross-checking. Do you have any other independent verification of that particular idea? In reality, you have done exactly that, writing to I suggest that everyone seek a second opinion on spiritual matters about which you are having doubts -- but choose your advisor well.

Looking at the astrology for the day you were born, I see nothing that seems particularly violent, much less that specifically involves stabbing. Mars, the planet that about 99% of astrologers would look to first for a question involving a sharp object or anything violent, is having a pretty good day, close to the Galactic Core in Sagittarius, awaiting a trine from the Sun and Mercury. That suggests that confrontations of those born that day can be worked out rather than needing to be acted out in some less friendly way. There is a spiritual approach to confrontation with Mars in Sagittarius and so much working with it in a harmonious aspect from Leo. With Mercury well supported, there is the clear ability to talk about things.

What's interesting, though, is a conjunction that suggests you may be obsessed by the idea of death, even a little more than the rest of us can be. There is a close conjunction of Mercury and Pluto close to your natal Sun. Mercury plus Pluto can certainly put the idea of death into a person's mind, or show that they have a belief to work out. You seem to use this astrology by working in tricky situations with people going through big changes. But I can see this as a possible source of an obsession with something that another person might have forgot long ago.

I suggest you take the thought pattern of that astrological prediction, and the Mercury-Pluto conjunction in your chart, a little deeper. There is something there for you. Death, transformation, surrender, dangerous information, sexuality and obsessions in general are subjects that can be covered by that conjunction. There is also a sense of needing to know the truth about all things all the time, and to live them outwardly with fearless honesty. If you run through that list in an introspective way, checking in with thoughts, feelings and experiences, you might make some discoveries that help you figure out what you really have on your mind.

Meanwhile, poo to astrologers who say mean things to their readers and terrify them for years. Fortunately there are not so many, and I'm happy to know none of the kind.

More about what to do when 'astrology goes wrong' at this link.

Dear Eric
Again, to the retrogrades -- my son has four planets in retrograde (1) Saturn, (2) Uranus, (3) Neptune, and (4) Pluto. He also has Chiron and Mars in 12th house. Is it safe to say this kid represses a lot of everything? His birth date is April 27, 1987 at 9:10 am in New York City.



Dear Monica,
You're his mom. Do you think he represses a lot of everything? Emotionally, his chart looks pretty good, given all that he has to deal with: he is aware of much more than he lets on.

I would suggest that all these retrograde planets in his chart say he does things his own way, in his own time. He may very well work on the inside of life more than the outside -- at this point. Personally, I get the feeling that I'm looking at the chart of a rather advanced soul who is likely to have some powerful relationships with extraordinarily large forces in life -- stuff on a scale that few of us know of or experience. He needs his adolescence and young adult years to prepare. However, I would not be at all surprised if what is happening to him now -- that is, his interests, his ambitions and his desires -- work out to play an extraordinarily important role in his life. I suggest that you take this time to encourage him to develop his most important interests. Listen to what he says and, to the best extent you know how, give him the opportunity to discover on his own. Travel, in particular, will be very influential at this point in his life.

His cluster of retrograde planets -- including three of the 'gas giants', Saturn, Uranus and Neptune -- is located around his 7th house cusp. These are large, expansive and far-reaching planets that affect many millions of people at once, and therefore can signify large entities of a 'transpersonal' nature that he will be relating to directly.

His personal relationships are likely to be interesting as well. But I get the feeling we're looking at the chart of a strong person whose inclinations lean far more toward good fortune than any other kind.

As for his Mars-Chiron in the 12th, while on the one hand he will need to learn how to deal with fear (as we all do), I have no doubt he will succeed. Mixed in with that the coding about fear is the coding about how to transcend it. He will figure out, sooner or later (or has already) that fear is for the most part a mental phenomenon -- but he is connected enough with his body that he will be able to work the experience from that angle too.

But I would add here that you are a critical point of contact for him and you always will be. No matter how complex, important, influential, or challenging his life may be, you are a critical point of stability, emotional reference, and for sure, a touchstone on ethical issues. To do this effectively, you merely need to be there; be present and aware; he will find you when he needs you. One of the more difficult issues he is likely to face surrounds the whole matter of faith. Faith cannot be taught in any conventional ways, but it can be learned by example, and people can hold the torch of faith for one another. You have certain experiences and predispositions that, no matter how many years pass in his life, place you in a better position to 'just know' and to have easy access to what some call the Higher Power. His orientation is very much on the material realm, the physical world. I would never say he is cut off from the spiritual realm, that is, where the mysteries reside, but he experiences this quite differently than you do, and he needs your silent guidance here.

While remembering that he is your son and you are his mother, I suggest you treat him with the full respect of the man he is becoming. He is far more than you imagine at this point.

Back By Popular Demand: Retrograde Rerun (from July 23)

Dear Eric,
We usually only hear about planetary retrogrades when Mercury starts skating backwards and we're warned that our communications will be fouled-up for the duration. Can you explain what effect a retrograde planet has on its interpretation in the natal chart? Does anybody put a special interpretation on retrograde planets in the birth chart or is it one of those things that depends upon the interpreter, sort of like a reversed Tarot card? I'm curious because I have both Jupiter and Saturn retrograde in my natal chart and, interestingly enough, so does my daughter. We also share a Cancer ascendant.

Thank you

Dear Susan,
There is no easy answer to the natal retrograde question and it is very much a question of interpretation, and that, in turn, needs to be based on experience. Part of that experience comes through getting to know people and what we go through as kids, and how this is reflected in the chart. Part of it involves knowing planets and how their expressions differ depending on their condition, including retrograde -- which is a pretty important status to keep track of.

Retrogrades seem to point to the past. A planet, which is a kind of time keeper, appears to move in reverse. This is an illusion based on relative movement, just like when one train passes another and you feel like you're moving in reverse. While the reverse movement is not happening (since both trains are going forward), the feeling is real.

I have worked with a few good theories about retrogrades. When I hear a plausible astrological theory I give it a trial run for a few years and if it seems to help people, I keep using it.

The first comes from an astrologer whose work I admire deeply, Martha Lang Wescott. She suggests that retrograde planets point to certain conditions of childhood wherein we had to turn off a particular energy so as not to threaten our caregivers. For example, if a parent is really threatened by a child's vitality or aggression, we might see that appear as Mars retrograde. Doing astrology, one must work like a detective. The retrograde planet will be in a certain house, and it will rule a house or two -- that is, where we find Aries or Scorpio on the house cusps, the planet will have some information for us about the affairs of that house. Then you need to put it all together. It is usually not that difficult, if you are able to gain some objectivity on your life.

Another theory that is less common but can be very helpful (explained best by a guy named Martin Schulman) is that retrogrades point to past life situations. Now, astrology itself seems to point to past life situations and the existence of past lives; you can see this if you look at charts long enough. How, after all, are human traits distributed so unevenly, yet with such precision? (Okay, the gods are demented, but we already knew that.)

While past lives are not proven, a lot of us have examples and experiences of familiarity with people, talents and events that suggest strongly that something is up. Retrograde planets can point to places where this effect is especially strong. So, look for both talents and hang-ups (unresolved situations) where these planets appear in the chart. These can be fairly extreme -- brilliant gifts and mastery; or extreme difficulties with certain situations that seem to recur.

In the instance of you and your daughter, there is a double parallel: both of you have Saturn retrograde (to give one example) and both of you have Capricorn on your house of partnerships, relationships and marriage. Do you see any parallels between your relationship life and her's? Do you notice a particular attachment to the past, or tradition, or to conservative partners?

If you work with these ideas, you can deduce the message of the retrograde.

One last note. When attempting to get the feel of retrogrades, I suggest you take a look at the secondary progressions. These track the planets at the rate of one day of real time, starting at birth, for each year of life. Hence if you're 30, your secondary progressions are the chart for your 30th day of life. Here is the question to check out: is a planet that's retrograde in the natal chart still retrograde in the progressed chart?

If not, how many days after birth did it go direct? That translates to a year when there was some action, experience or insight around this particular retrograde. Now the same holds true for direct planets, which can turn retrograde by progression.

Interpreting charts is an art and not a science, so you have to look, see, feel and reflect -- and ask people their actual experiences.

Jupiter Retrograde

Hi Eric
I am new to your site but just love browsing all the articles you have. I have been studying astrology with a small group of people who are just at this stage learning about our charts and ourselves. I wish to get my formal qualifications in astrology. During class last week we were doing progressions and just as we were leaving I noticed that in my natal chart Jupiter sits in my 10th house at 12 degrees and 41 arc minutes of Pisces, conjunct the midheaven (which is at 16 degrees and 16 arc minutes of Pisces) and conjunct Chiron retrograde 10 degrees and 44 minutes of Pisces, all in the 10th house.

I am a very curious person and love to learn but was told my learning would be difficult due to my Jupiter. My Jupiter went retrograde at this degree 12.41 of Pisces but according to the ephemeris it showed the retrograde as the following day, but at the same degree. What does this mean for me? No one can tell me much and it seems to be hard to find good information about retrograding planets. What does it mean for Jupiter to retrograde at that point? Is this treated as a transit, or would I be under the same influence as if it was retrograde natally? (Seeing as it went retrograde in the first 90 days of my life)

Will this interfere with my ability to study and retain information? I really wish to study astrology and would love any information you can tell me regarding this.

Thanking you in advance,

2 July 1962
4.55 AM AEST Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

Coleena chart

Dear Colleena,
Jupiter retrograde in your 9th house (not your 10th, though it's close enough to have some influence there) is suggesting that you not take the advice of astrologers too seriously. You display the perfectly charming Piscean trait of gullibility.

For instance, the astrologer who told you that you would have trouble retaining information. This is a matter of opinion, and maybe they saw it in another client or student at some point. However, I personally don't see any astrological basis for the claim, particularly phrased in such negative terms; i.e., an astrologer could say, "You will need to work a little extra hard, but you can do it."

You have strong Pisces in the 9th house, including Jupiter and Chiron, which is a mighty conjunction that very few people are blessed to have. Chiron and Jupiter retrograde suggest you already know what you're doing, and that you need to learn to tap into your feelings and your body and come back with the information you've already learned so many times during so many lifetimes. You need to learn a little basic choreography and develop the skill of counseling, which can be done quite effectively without astrology; so the astrology is a gift that it's wise to use sparingly.

Also, 'retaining information' is only part of what we do with astrology. Most of what we do is communicate with people; and much else is something that happens intuitively. Isabel Hickey was so bad at casting charts that sometimes she would get planets in the wrong sign, which is difficult. But I don't think anyone would say she was a bad astrologer. (My old friend Rob Norris once had a reading from Isabel. He called for an appointment, this was a while ago, and she said, "Well, I have a two year waiting list, but call me if it snows. People always miss their appointment when it snows." One day it snowed and that's how he got in.)

I am, however, mildly troubled that you would take that kind of statement at face value and not challenge it with an attempt to learn on your own, or to seek out multiple opinions, and see what happens -- and perhaps that's what the astrologer who made the comment was getting at. No matter what an astrologer says, it is an interpretation. To be an astrologer, you need to think critically and not take authority at its word. You can learn this skill. That is my interpretation.

The main thing that tells me you have the ability to learn this is that you have strong Virgo in your 3rd house -- you have Pluto there. That's more than enough to balance out any misplaced trust, faith in authority, or simple deception that might come from having strong Pisces. Pisces always needs to be balanced by Virgo. You need to think through your own questions and assess any situation you're presented with for yourself, rather than take someone's word for it. While we're remotely on the subject of progressions, it happens that in your progressed chart, both Mercury and Uranus have joined Pluto in Virgo, further strengthening that aspect of your chart, adding considerable power of innovation (Uranus) and a kind of tireless ability to think, work and develop your skills (Mercury).

Actually doing astrology is a process of reasoning: you could call it astrological thinking. There is a working out involved; a kind of calculus, in which you consider the questions, and the different factors that appear to be influencing it; you weigh and balance the arguments on both sides of the issue, or however many sides there are; and you become the judge of the situation. You need to go through those steps more than you need to memorize anything. The steps themselves require less memorization than learning a few basic moves. Look at the ruler of your 9th house and tell me if you have a good head on your shoulders.

In response to your inquiry about how to learn the work, I am not a great fan of teaching astrology in schools. There are some people who do very well studying that way (Jonathan has a formal astrological education, for example, and I am sure he benefits from it every day). And I understand the appeal of cademic certification; we live in a world that covets the piece of paper that says you can really do it. However, with astrology of all things that piece of paper is particularly worthless unless you can actually do the work.

I teach astrology the way I think it needs to be learned. I share the information here, in response to specific charts, inquiries and case studies. I leave my notes in the margin for everyone to see and evaluate, and we take the time, space and energy to post many charts for anyone to look at.

While you might think that the astrological system demands an orderly approach, I don't think that's true. The system itself is highly structured and ordered and sooner or later you're going to start making your own lists of what the planets and houses mean, without anyone telling you to do that.

I suggest you go about learning through diligent self-study, finding a good mentor or two (which will truly happen at the right time, and they can be writers from any era -- as long as you connect on the spirit level). And suggest working with as many people on their charts as you can muster up for the exercise. To be an astrologer, you need the technical basis, the philosophical basis, the connection with spirit and, most of all, the connection with people and what they go through on Earth. Spend as much time as you have listening to what they have to say about their lives. Their charts will become quite transparent if you do that.

When there is a decent astrologer around, even someone mildly willing to be a decent astrologer, people show up. Even if you are only vaguely helpful to those who seek your help, the good Lord will send you scads of people who need you, because they need you, and you need them to be a better practitioner -- though I trust that your help will be significant. The most important quality to cultivate is sincerity. If you can do this, the truth comes through your work.

Dealing with Transits to a Stellium

Hi Eric!
I've been going through enormous growth and changes, particularly since the beginning of the 1990's. My entire life and myself as an individual has changed completely since then. Whenever change happens it all seems to overlap with me so that career, finances, relationships and what I value all get an overhaul at once. I was born on March 31st, 1957, at 6:15 am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. My Sun, Moon, Venus, ascendant and Mercury were all in Aries at the moment I was born. Sun, Moon and Venus were in the 12th house and Mercury was in the first house. Mars, my ruler, was in the sign of Gemini and in the 2nd house. If you would please look at my chart, I'd really value any insight you could offer me. I just love your in-depth forecasts and am hoping that you'll have the time to reply soon.

Thanks, Eric

mariac chart

Dear Mariac,
I think you've described the energy and common experience of a stellium quite well in your question. People with points of concentration in a chart (called stelliums, or clusters, where a number of planets are grouped together) tend to go through a lot at once, because when a moving planet makes a transit to that region of their chart, it stirs up a lot (please see next question for additional clarification).

I think that a blind person would be squinting at your chart. You were born at the Aries New Moon, with the New Moon rising, and for sure, Mercury and Venus are mixed in. However -- you are now under some rather extraordinary transits, including Mercury retrograding back over these planets, and an eclipse that will aspect your Sun, Moon and ascendant.

These are powerful harbingers of a deep, authentic personal re-emergence. Rather than predict who you will become over the next month or so, why don't we wait and hear back from you? In the mean time, hang loose.

Is Saturn Evil?

Hi Eric,
I'm not quite clear about the role of Saturn for people who happen to have that lovely planet as their ruler. Some of my friends look at it as being 'born under a bad sign'. Can you fill me in a bit?

Wrightwood, CA

Dear Zita,
I have a bold idea: here is a picture of Saturn taken from the Cassini Space Probe. What do you see?

Big Saturn

Saturn is an entirely necessary energy. In the world of humanistic astrology, that is, astrology that is equally rooted in the human realm and the celestial realm, most astrologers assess the planets on the basis of their utility. We would all be in a lot of trouble without Saturn's gift of helping us structure and order our lives, set boundaries and be clear about what we must do.

It is true that in ancient astrology, Saturn is counted for a 'malefic' planet. But both astrologically, spiritually or psychologically, or any other way you want to measure, I can see no justification for this. Saturn is, however, an energy that we need to respect, work with and ultimately master if we are going to have a fulfilling life.

I suggest you give a little sneer to people who demonize any planet or any energy. Each and everyone has its uses; they can all be abused; as people who delve into the world of astrology, we must make allies out of each and every one of them. But particularly Saturn. To understand astrology, one must understand, appreciate, work with, deeply respect, and not forget to laugh at Saturn.

If you want a good book that makes it easy, check out "Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs" by Melanie Reinhart available at Midheaven Books or the Astrology Shop in London. For a commercial book, take a look at "Astrology: A Cosmic Science" by Isabel Hickey, available just about anywhere.

Hi Eric,
I am fascinated by your ability to read into world events and would like to know what you thought about the recent opening of public land in Alaska to oil drilling. As a history teacher, I am appalled since it is well known that the companies promoting this are sitting on millions of acres of private reserves yet to be tapped. I'm afraid that once this last public reserve is exploited, these monopolies will will then cash in on their control of the oil in those private reserves and hike the price of oil up as far as they please. I am distressed by the continued addiction to oil and public ignorance and complacency to corporate control. Do you think there is hope of change prior to a truly serious energy crisis?

One Sensitive Capricorn

Dear Sensitive Capricorn,
I am with you 100% and I think you understand the motives for what is happening quite well. I would like to point you and our reading audience to a DVD called "The End of Suburbia," which I found to be exceptionally informative, insightful and mind opening. This deals honestly with the questions of what is called being past the 'peak production' of oil both in the US and the Middle East. What you see will put world events into context and give you pause to reflect on the future. In honor of Chiron in Aquarius, I suggest you take up a little collection (it's a modestly priced DVD, anyway) and make a group evening out watching it. An interesting discussion will follow -- guaranteed.

Comment on Therapy

Good morning Eric
First, thanks for a wonderful response to the question about therapists. I may have a bit of bias about therapy, since it is my profession and I teach an undergraduate course in interviewing and relationships at our local University...but your response was heartfelt and, I believe, accurate. I've actually learned more about doing therapy from my own therapists, then in academic settings.

So thank you.

Please drop by Planet Waves -- lots of good stuff happening -- read our feedback here!

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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 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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