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Archive for Friday 27th May 2005

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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A Genuine Gemini

Dear Readers:

I am writing on Bob Dylan's 64th birthday, and after mentioning him in my introduction last week, I could not resist taking a look at his chart and asking myself a few questions. Both the work of Bob Dylan, and the path of his musical career, are truly prodigious. Consider that he left rural Minnesota and arrived in New York City in 1960, braying his new folk songs at the age of 19, and then by 20 had played Carnegie Hall.

By 21, he was world famous, but with more the feeling of T.S. Eliot than Britney Spears. In his early performances, including many at the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village (there is an excellent CD available), he was sounding vivid warnings about the Vietnam War long before the war had even 'officially' begun in 1964. He was tackling civil rights issues and challenging the conventional wisdom of religion. And he had one of the strongest, most original voices in rock history.

Have a look at his chart, data provided by, with an AA rating (the highest):


Now, how do we account for a raging iconoclast who literally reinvented folk music and contributed greatly to rock music, and whose name is known on every continent, but who has no major planets in his 10th house (career) and none in Aquarius (invention, rebellion)?

Hmmm. We have been thrown a bit of a curve, haven't we? This chart provides us with a bit of a lesson to those who ask about 'missing houses' and also 'what do I do if all my planets are concentrated in one place?'

I can offer a couple of theories, and they focus on hard work, creativity and the lunar nodes. Notice the concentration of planets across his 5th, 6th and 7th houses. These houses represent creativity, work and relationships, respectively. They are internally focused. The suggestion is that he was, in essence, writing 'for himself' and not for his audience.

Let's consider some of the placements. In his 5th house, the house of artistic talent and taking risks (interesting combination of themes, yes?) he has a conjunction of Saturn and the Moon. This, most astrology books will tell you is 'bad': heavy, debilitating, oppressive, karmic, blah blah blah. Perhaps so. Yet in Dylan's case, it has provided him with a solid foundation and a strong focus on his creative process. And as an artist he is uncompromising in his truth -- but frankly, we need him for just that.

Yet this is not merely self-serving. He reaches people. Plus, his music is impeccable, and stands up to thousands of playings. He is one of the truly excellent guitarists in history. His lyrics could be the subject of a graduate English seminar (and probably are somewhere). And everything he does is driven by values: Taurus. Notice that he has four major planets in Taurus, Saturn, the Moon, Uranus and Jupiter. In the 5th, that's a lot of creative energy.

In the 6th house, he has the Sun and Venus. The old joke, 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!', is the story of Dylan's career. I heard that during the 1987 tour in which the Grateful Dead played as his backup band, he had them rehearse 100 songs for seven shows. Anybody but the Dead would have collapsed in a heap on the floor. He is a taskmaster. With Venus in his 6th, we know that his first love is his work.

Then on the 7th cusp, we have Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, perched like a beacon. This is what we see when we see the man: he incarnates before our eyes as a messenger, shape-shifter, and magician -- and with incredible power. For us listening to Dylan today, it's difficult to imagine what shocking force he came through with in the Sixties, challenging the older generation to get out of the way: "The times they are a-changin."

Hard work and a strong message is not enough to account for such fame, however. Here's where aspects to his lunar nodes come in. He has all those Taurus planets trine the North Node and Neptune in Virgo. Strong aspects to the nodes can make you a household word, and they can support the mission you have in life with great energy. Look at the charts of people who make an impact and you'll see this over and over.

Last, note that he has late Sagittarius rising. His ascendant is pointed directly between the Galactic Core (at 27 Sagg) and the Great Attractor (at 14 Sagg, a massive object far outside our galaxy). This portrays him as a cultural force to be reckoned with, a teacher, and someone truly able to have massive impact and work on the level of global consciousness.

Thank you Bob, and happy 64. "May you build a ladder to the stars / climb on every rung / and may you stay forever young" (from the 1974 'Planet Waves' album).

Here is Lois Rodden's write-up on Bob's chart.
NOTE that she uses a different house system (equal) that presents a different chart than you have above.

Here is a great site with lots to offer.

By the way -- today's edition of Astrology Secrets Revealed is the first anniversary of this project (hmm, it's a Gemini -- I never thought of that!). Thank you Jonathan for the bytes and hits, thank you to everyone who has written in, and I offer an ocean of appreciation to everyone who helps out (wow, it's a lot of people, in four time zones!): Vanessa, Deirdre, Michele, Rachael, Pam, Tracy, Chelsea and Greg. And thanks to Melanie and Joe for your wisdom and support.

Please tune into and for lots more about the current stars. Your subscriptions to my weekly news service sponsor this Q & A column -- thanks to the many happy readers who have subscribed. Here are a few of your questions for the week.

Dwelling on the Negative

Hi Eric

I'm so appreciating your work. I've just recently found it, and it is a resonant blessing for me at this time.

My question is: I took a break from astrology for awhile, honestly because a lot of what was finding in referencing challenging transits/aspects/etc. didn't support a lot of hope for good things to happen, and I would be finding myself in sincere trepidation of what could happen. So, I laid off astrology for awhile to really work with my center and clear the fear. Now, I'm dipping in again and am wondering if you have a perspective on this that could help me feel comfortable going deeper with astrology again. Because, here I am again. Looking at a transit... Uranus conjunct Moon in 5th house finding a bit of fear from what I've read. I just would like to be able to be with astrology where it is not about anticipation of upsetting events, but rather empowering my way forward.

Thank you!

Dear Desiree:

I would propose that you are putting too much emphasis on commentaries about aspects and not enough on living astrology as a creative experience.

Commentaries are important, but astrology is about life, not words. I would say if you're going to get involved with commentaries, the more the merrier. Read them, contrast them, compare them to your experiences, take them apart and put them back together. But they are not gospel. Astrology books are not the Bible and astrology is not a religion. It's a practical tool. If something you study does not help you in practical ways, move on to materials that actually do help.

Look up your old transits in your books, and see how they compare to your actual experiences. Do the same for your friends. Note the accurate or helpful parts of the ideas you read; not the parts that are discouraging or not helpful at all. Eventually, you will find writers that you trust and who guide you toward the light and not the darkness.

Honestly, I have given up on commentaries about transits, you know, the kind you find in transit books. If I may howl at the Moon for a moment, they are, for the most part, too damned negative and condescending. They tend to make too many presumptions, and I can't count how many times I've encountered the voice of doom in such books, even supposedly enlightened ones. In fact, you don't have to look far to find negative astrology books, and I think that we really need to be quite careful about these influences, because they can shape our experiences quite distinctly.

I had an experience with a client a few years back, a holistic doctor I had worked with for quite a long time. She made an appointment with me one day and when our call began, she said, "I went to a different astrologer, and she told me I was going to have the worst year of my life."

And I said, "What do you think we've been working on clearing up all these sessions?" That is, in the course of our work, I was looking ahead at her transits, listening to her life story, and tracking her experiences in the present -- and working with her on the issues I was fairly sure would arise at the time of some very intense Pluto transits that I saw coming. This is a counseling based method, rather than predictive. Notice the difference.

A transit is not a guarantee of anything except that one planet is going to make an aspect to another one. No astrologer can predict exactly what is going to happen, and if they do, there is a strong chance that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. When two minds join together and start looking at life and making agreements, that is extremely creative. Together, the astrologer (or author) and the client (or reader) create something. But what do they create?

It is true that outer planet transits are often challenging. It is true that people often have difficult experiences. And just as often, their lives are transformed greatly for the better, though I have rarely read a transit that described this happening, or explained how you can work a transit to your greatest advantage. Usually writers treat transits like the person is a passive victim of their chart. This is something that astrology has to grow up from and get over, and I hope it happens soon.

And as ones who gain truly valuable experience working with hundreds of clients, or who write for thousands of readers, it's an astrologer's job to help you see the meaning of your transits, to help you prepare for them, and guide you to live them in the highest possible expression. But more than that, it's up to the astrologer and the client to put their minds together and decide what the client really wants to create.

If you are working on your transits alone, that is, without the help of a professional astrologer, I suggest you do this for yourself.

In addition, I believe it's always helpful for astrology students to have a clear understanding of their lifetime history of transits, and to assess them in the most objective possible way. Look at what you experienced. Look at what decisions you made. Look at what you learned. Look at what you would do differently. As the new transits show up, apply what you've learned. Make your choices consciously. Look at what kinds of growth they represent -- and be as clear about embracing your growth as you possibly can.

Yes, the transits come -- and then you get to decide what to do with your life.

Gender and Astrology

Dear Eric

Can you please tell me what it is in a particular chart which indicates a male prefers to dress as a female?

Wondering Wife


Dear W.W.,

I'm going to start with my usual non-astrological approach: cross-dressing is one of those things that people do. It is so common that we simply have to recognize that it's normal -- because it's in the norm. I'm not saying it's as common as eating French fries, or that everyone approves; rather, that many people cross-dress, many start quite young, and many do it their whole lives.

For women cross-dressing has always been a sign of liberation and equality. The 19th century writers George Elliot and George Sand, not only dressed as men, but also adopted male names. Their writings achieved great success and they both led sexy, heterosexual lives.

The designer Coco Chanel brought boyish fashion for women to the mainstream back in the 1920s. In the Age of the flapper and the suffragette, women were throwing off the shackles of womanhood by cutting their hair short and donning pants, and for women things have continued this unisex path to this day.

It's only potentially a big deal when a guy wears clothes normally worn by a woman. This is because when a woman dresses like a man, this is a sign of achieving equality by literally taking on the mantle of 'the man'. These days, women who dress in feminine clothes are not treated with seriousness, and most often with outright derision. Madonna even wrote a song about it:

Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
'Cause it's OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
'Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
But secretly you'd love to know what it's like
Wouldn't you
What it feels like for a girl?
-- Madonna, 'Do You Know What it Feels Like for a Girl?'

Still, I can see where it would be intriguing, curious, or even a bit disturbing if your husband wears women's clothes, and you have not said much about the context of his proclivities.

Cross-dressing is sometimes related to gender identity. Sometimes people do it just for fun. If you're looking to astrology for wisdom, consider this. One thing that astrology tells us straight away is that we each contain ALL gender identities. Everyone has Venus and Mars in their chart; everyone has the Sun and the Moon. In this respect, astrology takes a radical position. It is in a sense blind to biological gender classifications. All energies are available to anyone. They mix and match differently for everyone as well. We all possess a truly unique gender identity.

Your husband has an absolutely intriguing chart. We don't have the birth time (though it would be nice), but there is so much to see and feel, we can do fine without it. Look at that concentration of planets. That alone tells us we have an intense and potentially unusual person on our hands. Look at how these planets fall into what are arguably the most feminine and masculine signs (respectively, Cancer and Leo). You just don't see this kind of concentration every day, and I've never seen it appear like this in those two signs.

To make things far more interesting, the ruler of Cancer (the Moon) and of Leo (the Sun) are not just in a conjunction (the New Moon), bringing them together -- they are forming an eclipse, a kind of super-conjunction which was exact within mere hours of your husband's birth. Eclipses will have real impact within a month or two of a birth; he was born right in the eclipse. And, checking my American Ephemeris of the 20th Century, I see that in the summer of 1944 there were FOUR eclipses -- two of the Sun, and two of the Moon.

The upshot of this all is that your husband is a very, seriously, majorly intense person. It's not that he cross-dresses. It's that he was incarnated with some enormous amount of both male and female energy, of which he is highly aware and feels at every moment, as well as being born with more momentum than an avalanche in progress.

May I suggest you set aside the question about cross-dressing for a while and really, truly make an effort to get to know this person? I can tell you that he's probably yearning to be known, understood, felt, believed, and heard: there is nothing ordinary about him, but there is quite a lot that is subtle, and as he starts to express himself, more is going to come to his awareness.

You might want to start with asking him what the years 1988 through 1993 were about for him -- the untold story. Those were, by the way, the years that Chiron came through Cancer and Leo and touched all those planets, and the transitions and vents around this set of transits will certainly have something to say about the deeper nature of who your husband is, what he is dealing with in this lifetime, and what he needs to express.

See what you find out. I reckon it will be interesting, and most likely quite helpful for your husband to talk about.

Astrology courses

Hi Eric

Last year I completed first year of an astrology course, which I found to be interesting, but expensive. Is there a course you can recommend that is not going to cost me thousands of dollars? I await your reply.


Dear Margaret:

An astrology course? You are reading it right here -- and it's free.

I know that this column did not start one year ago with a systematic overview of 'these are the signs, these are the planets, these are the houses' -- but there are good books for that. Follow along with these weekly editions and you'll get the gist of the changing seasons, the movements of the planets, and the problems people take to astrology. And if you read through the archives, you will find a little of everything you need; you just need to put the pieces together, which you would need to do with any astrological training program anyway. Then, the next step is you need to begin applying and communicating about the knowledge in real life situations -- the sooner the better.

(But hey I have nothing against being a little organized, so if there is anyone in the reading audience with a talent for sorting out, selecting and editing tons of information into something presentable as a book, you are invited to get in touch!)

I don't believe we need astrology school to learn astrology. Please, nobody throw a tomato at me. I have nothing against astrology school; some of my best friends teach in them, and even Jonathan Cainer graduated from one, demonstrating that it's possible to succeed in a highly unusual way once you've done so.

I just think that we can learn a lot many other ways, and prepare ourselves as professionals quite effectively. Ongoing study -- one is never finished -- is a critical part of the process. But more important, what we really need to do is 1. Get involved in the work; 2. Find a dependable mentor or two (in person, on the Net, and/or a writer or two whose work we really resonate with); 3. Start working with people -- soon. Cast their charts and talk to them. Then you will discover that life and life experience is astrology school there is.

One hang-up that many people have about reading charts is that they feel they have to 'tell people about themselves', and many feel like they are inadequate to do so. I suggest an entirely different approach. You only need to look at their chart, speak with them sincerely about their life, while getting a feel for their astrology and how they experience it. While you do this, I suggest you study and work with as many charts of people you respect (such as famous people, whose data and charts are readily available online, and your friends).

I also suggest that if you have any aspiration to working with people as their astrologer -- any at all, no matter how slight -- you get yourself into therapy for a few years. This will help you understand your own issues a little better, so you will be less inclined to project them onto others. It is true that we always learn a great deal about ourselves working with people, and that we heal in the process of helping others heal. But at the same time, it's important to know at any point in a discussion whose issues are whose, and for that, therapy is very helpful, even vital. The concentrated quest for self-understanding is deeply important to any kind of healing work, a category for which astrology qualifies.

I know of no astrology program that teaches astrology by actually working with people from a relatively early stage in the work -- which is how I do it when I teach. But in actual fact, this is how people learn astrology, no matter what school they go to or what books they read. It is learned by a combination of theory and practice that is about one third of the first and two thirds of the second.

Here is our How To Begin Learning Astrology collection from this column.

Here is an old article of mine from The Mountain Astrologer, and the German journal Meridian, called When Astrology Listens.

Also, some of the most excellent books currently in print are written by Melanie Reinhart.

You might want to know about The Consulting Astrologer's Guidebook.

Catch you next week!

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