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Archive for Friday 13th May 2005

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Finding the Lost City

Dear Readers:

Last week, I visited the Greek island of Delos, which is near Mykonos in the central Aegean Sea. Actually, I had no idea Delos was there; I thought I was going on my first-ever ordinary vacation to a place reputed for beaches and partying. This was a gift to myself for having worked 10 continuous years writing horoscope columns.

Shortly after arriving on Mykonos, a souvenir shop-keeper filled me in on what was right next door: a tiny island, 1,300 meters by 5 kilometers, that between the 7th century BC and the 1st century BC was the Mecca of the Greek world. There are ferries several times a day.

The place Delos holds in history began as the birthplace of the twins Apollo and Artemis, the gods of the Sun and Moon. Then it quickly became the place where thousands of pilgrims flocked seeking spiritual gifts, healing and an encounter with the gods. It evolved into a kind of spiritual city, with temples to numerous deities, and many tribes and religious sects living there.

As the centuries progressed, Delos became a major center of trade, and an even greater city grew up on the enormous wealth and prosperity this brought. Its vast marketplaces sold everything from corn to cloth to slaves. It is said to be Europe's first cosmopolitan center, with people from every country in the Mediterranean region and far beyond represented. Temples existed to most of the Greek gods, and many of the Middle East, including Egypt and Syria, as well as one of the earliest synagogues outside the mainland of Eurasia.

Marble stairs on one part of the city are worn some five centimeters deep, so many millions of people passed through over the many decades this island flourished as a society and destination point.

Twice during the first century BC, it was invaded, and the second invasion brought the society to a halt. It has pretty much laid in ruins since, having served as a pirate base and also a place where the building materials were mined.

But I dare say, the Gods and Goddesses are no less present today than they ever were. As an astrologer, these are the energies and personalities that populate the chart. It's just that instead of looking at the glyph for Venus, it's possible to go into what is left of the Temple of Aphrodite, where many thousands made offerings to the goddess of love, pleasure and desire (I personally brought her some Bjork and Talking Heads, figuring maybe she had not heard that yet).

Here's a picture taken from the ferry -- the astonishing view of what one sees pulling into the harbor.


I'll have more to say about this mysterious, beautiful place in Planet Waves and Planet Waves Weekly -- so please don't forget to check in.

Here are some of your questions this week.

Mars on the Ascendant and Anger

Dear Eric

Could you please talk a bit about Mars transits and the way they can affect people with Mars prominent in their charts? I have Mars conjunct my Ascendant as well as an Aries moon and it just dawned on me that I have spent most of my life being angry at one thing or another. The past few years Iíve pushed so many people out of my life through anger that it seems Iíve got barely a handful of friends left. Iíve suffered consistent insomnia as a result of waking up angry and not being able to stop thinking about whatever the issue is this time, as well as having several years dealing with clinical depression (anger turned inward). I am exhausted and want to live again, no matter how many things there have been to be mad at in my life and the world. Please help me learn to work with this energy.

Thank you for all you do,

Mars City

Dear Mars-City:

Once upon a time, astrologers named Francoise and Michel Gauquelin of France, came closer than anyone to scientifically proving the validity of astrology using thousands of charts in careful statistical studies. They discovered that Mars on the ascendant or meridian is present in statistically significant ways in the charts of writers, sports heroes and military leaders. It is one of the distinctions of fame through achievement.

These people have learned to channel their Mars. The ones we hear about have done so through their creative process and careers. The ones we don't hear about have learned to address their personal issues in a deep way. Great achievements are NOT necessary for happiness -- but what is necessary is that we learn to be in the flow of life.

Mars is creative energy. It can take any form, from passion to rage to selling used cars. If you are not an intensely 'creative type', sports and exercise are among the best methods for dissipating anger (and better advised than the various forms of warfare). However, I get the feeling that you need both. You are obviously someone with an abundance of energy, and if you don't use it for yourself, and for the benefit of others, you will use it against yourself and to the detriment of others. The energy is there; the choice is how you handle it.

If that Mars says nothing else, it speaks to your high level of individualism. What we do need to remember is that in our allegedly 'do your thing' culture, there are constant impediments to self-expression, and relatively few ways to express oneself in new ways and be socially acceptable (at least, as is so often the case, among our current friends or partners). So quite often, we either experience pressure to not express ourselves (frustration), or the need to do so and face the fear of rejection or not fitting in. I suggest you look at this particular theme closely -- you are likely to be quite different than the people around you; you speak a different language; you understand things that are not commonly understood. And you need to express them.

Your Mars is prominent, but it's quite well aspected by other planets. For example, it's conjunct the galactic core, which is also rising. This casts a whole different hue over Mars than all the usual stuff -- it potentially puts Mars on what you might call the highest possible level of awareness. Your Mars also makes sextiles to Uranus, the Sun and Mercury. So the real issue, from an astrological standpoint, is that your Mars has a lot of energy and support -- and you can get the full use of that if you direct your energy consciously and clearly.

However, we can also look at Aries. You have a Moon-Chiron conjunction in the 3rd house. This is rather impetuous, and it can verge on tactless -- but the deeper subject is a sense of physical and emotional overwhelm. (It's opposite Pluto, and this can turn a strong desire to relate into a sense of isolation or give you the idea that you're a lone wolf.) You experience desire strongly. Powerfully. The question is, do you really feel that, or do you kind of set the feeling aside, where it turns to something else?

Mars in Sagittarius rising is the astrology of a great quest. I suggest you ask yourself honestly what you want your quest to be, or what your quest is. Really be honest. If I had this placement and did not go on my real quest in life, I would be angry too.

Mars transits give us the chance to experience Mars in different ways than we do in our natal chart. You are about to experience Mars square Mars, which you may experience as anything from frustrating to a major breakthrough. Often, the breakthrough can follow the frustration.

A great book about healing anger from a Buddhist perspective is, "Anger" by Thich Nhat Hanh, which is widely regarded as one of the best books ever written on the subject. In it Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, says that we do not conquer anger by keeping it all in or letting it all out, but through the Buddhist concept of mindfulness. For when we express anger at others, we are really angry at ourselves, and causing our own suffering.

From the astro-diet kitchen, Mars in Sagg. suggests cutting out toxic, artificial foods and reducing sodium as much as possible. But what it's really saying is do what you need to do. Itís saying youíre a person of deep faiith -- faith you need to act on. Live your life. Deal with your resentments consciously, move on and be as free as Sagittarius needs to be.

18 months to live

Dear Eric,

My brother was recently told by a doctor that he has 18 months to live. Not 17 months and not 19 months -- exactly 18. I have tried to tell my brother that no person can tell another when he will die and in my opinion it was a very unethical thing to do, especially since my brother is showing no symptoms of this fatal illness. Nevertheless, on some day in 2006 which he has marked on a calendar, I believe he will lay down and do what the doctor told him. (He is currently seeking a second opinion). I want desperately to help him through this to whatever conclusion there will be, but I feel so powerless -- is there anything in my chart to show me the way?


Dear Susan:


I have met two different old (as in ancient) guys who were told by doctors they were going to be dead by the age of 18 (not 17 and not 19!). The literature from the branch of medicine known as homeopathy has numerous cases when on the scheduled day of surgery, there was nothing to remove because the remedy had cured the cancer before the operation happened. Every healer on the planet will tell you stories about their clients who were very sick and just got better; who were impoverished and learned to take care of themselves; who were lonely and found good company.

So even if your brother actually had some bizarre disease, and on any particular day had exactly 18 months to live, that would mean nothing special -- not guaranteed, anyway. Many factors can intervene, particularly if we let them. And yes, it's super duper weird for a doctor to predict the date of death.

Thus, before I start spewing off random expletives at this particular doctor, I am happy your brother is seeking a second opinion; at this rate he might want a third. If you can keep him focused on medical science, you would be doing him a great favor. It sounds like you love him more than words can say. The question of death is also what you might call deeply spiritual, connected directly to the meaning of existence. What do you think might lead him to even consider the possibility of 'checking out' in 18 months? Perhaps you can take the conversation right to this core essence.

Let's see what the astrology says. We can start with you, since you wrote the letter. I'll give a look at your brother's chart in a moment and we'll see what's up with his 6th house (medical), and his 8th house (matters of death and dying), and whatever is arriving in Nov. 2006.

As for you: there is some unusually powerful and equally mysterious stuff in your chart regarding siblings. (Techno: you have Scorpio on your 3rd house of sibs, with Scorpio's rulers, Mars and Pluto, located in the 12th house of big mysteries, the unconscious, the beyond, intense psychological stuff).

The imagery is 'so much larger than life', to borrow a little Peter Gabriel; and it has overtones of spiritual -- the spirit world -- world bridger (from Mayan mythology) -- and perhaps a touch of past life memory that might unconsciously lead you to fear for the loss of siblings. Or, for that matter, children, as you have a conjunction of Ceres, Mars and Pluto. The part about children and mothers comes from Ceres, whose daughter was taken down to Hades by Mr. Pluto.

You are intimately connected to what some call the hidden world. I do suggest you tap into this intuition deeply and go beyond your fears; feel for the truth, and for the truth of what you can do. You are someone whose chart tells me that experience has taught you a great deal, and has been your greatest teacher. This experience has taught you how to relate to people in crisis by reaching for the child within them. I would suggest that you have a true healing gift if you can reach that spark inside you where we are all little kids. There is a relationship between this inner spark and your gift as a healer. They are one and the same thing.

Remember that you are one of your brother's most important connections to his past, and to the child he was. You may know him better than any person on the planet, and he may know you better than anyone. I suggest that you take the whole story of your relationship into account when communicating with him about this subject. You don't necessarily have to bring it up, just remember those times way long ago when the world as we know it today did not exist. You have a gift for him there.

As for your brother. He has a placement that might lead him to build up exaggerations in his mind in regards to health issues: Jupiter conjunct the Moon in his 6th house. He also has Chiron in that house, which can intensely focus interest on health, and Scorpio is involved, so his thoughts might naturally tend in the direction of the worst possibilities. That makes the case for things being far less extreme than they seem.

On the other hand, however, I suggest that he watch his health and take care of this matter quite consciously, because in 18 months (Nov. 2006) he does have quite a lot of intense activity in his 6th, as a number of planets show up in Scorpio (which occupies his 6th house). There are many connections between his 8th house (death, sexuality and transformation) and his 6th -- so we can take them as one subject, for the purposes of this discussion.

There is most certainly a major change he is trying to make. Yet the arrival of so much in this angle of his chart at that time feels like pressure; it feels confusing; there is still the ever-present sense of exaggeration that follows him anywhere; there is the need to be careful about communications with medical professionals, and to get things in writing (that also means to read up on things!); and to be wary of the role of fear in his experience of health and wellness.

In fact, his whole story around health can be summed up as 'emotional health' and this is what he needs to be mindful of more than anything. So the best astrological advice I can give is to deal with things early; not to let matters build up; to keep the discussion going. What happens is not a matter of fate -- it is a matter of choice, of response, of decisions made with medical professionals, and more than anything, of his relationship with his existence, which is definitely coming up for discussion.

And to a real extent, he is counting on you to keep that discussion focused, sane and positive. Thanks for writing in.

Gambling Addiction

Dear Eric:

Greetings to you and thank you for this opportunity to ask about my addiction.

Since 1997, I have not been able to stop wasting money or time at the casino near my home. I have tried many diversions; a job out of town, hiding money, making a promise to go only once a month (if I make it that long I spend more than if I went weekly, and stay over 12 hours), etc. I have calculated I have lost around $140,000 since 1997. This makes me feel sick, lost, out of control, and I feel many times a day I have let myself down. My mind keeps me going back to the casino with all types of cunning thoughts about the thrill of winning or false thoughts that I can live on $15 a week so I can gamble away all my pay check. I no longer feel the thrill of winning; I feel scared because I put that money back into the casino before I leave, plus more. I spend money I don't have. I see I am in the grips of a progressive addiction. Gambling is daily on my mind no matter how much I am enjoying myself elsewhere. I can't wait to get back to the casino. I speed going down the road while I am actually screaming and crying trying to get myself to turn the car around and go home. But then my mind tells me something that entices me to once again sit in front of a slot machine. Sometimes I go from the casino to my day job without sleep. My emotional ground is not good. I have had this intense focus on magic, gambling, risk taking since I was a little girl. Is my destiny one of doom?

Please, what light on this addiction can you see for me? What and where is my door out of this hell?

With warm regards,


Dear Joanne

I would agree that you have a problem -- and also say out loud that reading what you have written is the best evidence anyone can have that you are ready to deal with it, or that you are in fact already dealing with it. You can clearly speak your simple truth, and that is a very good sign.

In this forum, the best I can offer you are a few professional opinions. The first of these is that, though it may be difficult, I suggest you think of your gambling situation as a symptom and not the issue itself. The fact that it's so pervasive, that it is so dominating of your life, seems like evidence that this is the problem and not the surface layer -- but beneath the surface is the real subject matter, and if you address that subject matter, you will surely make progress. But just like your current state has developed over a long time, the solution will take some time and some patience.

I can see from your chart -- or make up a story, anyway -- about why gambling became your particular form of obsession, given other factors in your chart and in your life. For example, Uranus (creativity, spontaneous experiences) is retrograde in your 5th house of risks, gambling, and romance. This is opposite Jupiter in Sagittarius. I could see a real desire to take chances that are not too dangerous. You're also not apt to be too lucky of a gambler with that, which may be a real saving grace in the situation. Imagine if you won more often.

There are a lot of reasons in the culture as well, a culture we do not admit is as lonely as it is. If you had to fly to Vegas, it would be harder; now casinos are everywhere, and people do need to do things and engage themselves in social contexts. Casinos are appealing environments because they are safe, people are respectful, they are comfortable, and women are treated with respect. The men act like gentlemen or they are out on the seat of their pants. So they are real traps.

Like other addictions, gambling takes the place of what we really want from life: pleasures that nourish us, meaningful social contact, creative opportunities, work we love, deep relationships and satisfying sexual experiences. You know, the usual things most people struggle with not getting.

Once we peel back what is very much a faÁade, that is, the form of the addiction, underneath it, there is in your chart all the usual material that people bring to their healing situations. One 'positive' thing that gambling does for you is distract you from this work.

There is, for example, a significant question in this lifetime about how you direct your productivity and take up responsibility (Saturn square the lunar nodes). This is no small aspect. Arguably, it tells the whole story of your chart by asking the question, which direction shall I take? And this is a question that you now have to answer, as one particular direction has led you nowhere you want to be.

There is something about your mother's influence on you, and the way you inherited her old stuff, which I would propose pushed you to be intense in a way that others could not seem to handle. This, in turn, may have created an alienating condition throughout your life. You seem to need a much more physical and emotional experience of affection that usually comes from mom (this is all described by Leo Moon square Scorpio Chiron).

And you are someone who needs authority. You need to really be in charge of something that you have to take care of. Remember that 'addiction' is from the same word root as 'dictator', 'dictate', 'contradict', and others -- the issue is control. And healthy ways to exercise control are by creating, by building, and by coexisting in respectful work experiences. In this regard, I would say that your time in the casino takes the place of a lot you could be doing professionally and creatively.

There are obviously other risks in life that would be much more interesting and satisfying. Yet herein lies the heart of what may be the gambling aspect of the problem -- you have become involved in something that takes everything and gives nothing. This is a metaphor, and you may find other examples of this in your life, and in your history.

Last, it's worth noting that gambling involves a particular form of energy known as money. So with this information, all your values about money come into the picture, going straight back to your grandparents. It is worth pointing out that slots are your game of choice. There is NO chance of beating the odds with this and it is not a game of skill like poker or roulette; it is a non-game, a machine, and there is no interaction; it is pure luck. Is there a comment about you, in your choice of game?

This all being said, there is the question of what to do about getting help. There are two ways you can go, really. One is to presume you have a gambling problem, per se, and get assistance from gambling organizations; I will provide a link. It would be good to read some about this subject and hear how others have gotten their lives back in order. Remember that this viewpoint takes the position that gambling itself is the problem, and studies gambling related behaviors as being disruptive. I am suggesting that there is also another way to look at it, which is that gambling is the result of something else.

The other path to help is to go to the level you're probably going to end up on, which is addressing your life holistically, through a long-term therapy process. This path takes the premise that you are not so much trying to 'control an addiction' but rather understand yourself in a deeper way and let go of that particular problem, to make room for healing others. A therapist with a well-rounded background, with some spiritual grounding, and with some experience in body-centered work, could become a truly helpful person in your life. I suggest that productive work with a therapist be given at least two years to get the deeper results, but they will be two years that are well worth the energy, time and expense.

This article may be helpful.

This site may be helpful:
The National Council on Problem Gambling

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