Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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There are, I trust, quite a few personal awakenings on the event horizon as well. Eclipses are intense! They can bring up a lot of feelings and give us a weird sense of our lives being lived in automatic mode. But it's very important to pay attention at these times because there are always decisions to be made and these decisions can have consequences that last a long time.
Eclipses come along twice a year. Each time they arrive, we typically get a solar and a lunar; this time around, in that order. The corresponding lunar eclipse to this solar eclipse occurs on Oct. 28, when the Moon is eclipsed in Taurus. The charts for both these events, in two different formats, are posted on this page.
Each eclipse is unique. This one has some interesting features, one being that it makes an exact square to Chiron. Whatever occurs will be an opportunity to see a Chiron dynamic in action. With this chart, one could predict an event of some kind (square aspect suggesting 'event'), that somehow feels fated and reaches many people, and from which there is no turning back (all indicative of an eclipse), that provokes awareness of the way things are right now (Chiron). Chiron in Capricorn has certainly been stirring up a lot of consciousness about the government and corporate dimensions of reality. Awareness, while free, is a fairly scarce commodity. Then, once it's out there, it's not always so popular.
Now, a square to an eclipse is one thing; a conjunction is another. This eclipse does make an exact conjunction -- to an asteroid called Hybris. For this body, Martha Wescott gives the keywords: fated; bound by limits; or exceeding them. Hybris is the original Greek form of the modern word 'hubris'. Typically, hubris is a form of very damaging pride possessed by great (or seemingly great) men, and which, amongst various Hamlets and Macbeths of history, leads to their downfall. It can also be about their rising-above by people and individuals under difficult circumstances.
There happens to be a critical historical event on the eve of this eclipse, specifically the third debate between John F. Kerry and George W. Bush. These two men, who have taken on so much (in such different ways) are going to be facing off before the world with their backs pressed right up against this astrology. It will be very interesting to see what happens. It certainly raises the stakes. Then there is whatever we don't happen to know about.
One additional comment. At times, the Moon makes an exact conjunction to a planet, passing neither above or below it as it goes by, but rather covering it exactly. This is called an occultation. They are not extremely rare, but neither do they happen that often and they are usually fairly random in the calendar. Next week's eclipse is preceded within about 24 hours by two occultations: Moon to Mars, and Moon to Mercury. That adds quite a bit of emphasis to whatever happens and charges the Moon up with the energy of Mars and Mercury when it exactly crosses the disk of the Sun.
I'll be covering these events in greater detail in Planet Waves Weekly, as well as on PlanetWaves.net. That's the astrology service that carries my sun-sign horoscopes and essays, and which sponsors this page on Jonathan's site. SEE SPECIAL OFFER BELOW! And an announcement.
Now for your letters this week.
Hi Eric, (wherever you may be...)
Oceans of Warmth
Thanks for taking the time to write. And by the way I'm in Paris.
Wondering in New Paltz
As humans established their way of life on the planet, she remained our companion, waxing and waning dependably through the months, seasons and centuries. She provided a source of mystery and inspiration, though most important, for many millennia, she was the only light available to illuminate the terrifying darkness of night. She remains with us today, as our guide and friend, lighting our inner world and reminding us of ancient consciousness. She remains as a counterbalance to all the nose, harsh contrasts, and sharp edges of the world. The Moon is where I believe the study of Western astrology is best begun, first as an experience, then as an idea.
There are really two things that we call astrology. One involves delving into charts, books and concepts. That's the astrology you use to find an explanation of your 9th house Mars in Gemini, when you're hungry for knowledge and definitive meaning. It is, strangely, where most study of astrology begins and where it ends -- as the attempt to find objective truth about our most personal and unique existence. This is in keeping with our modern notions of everything being subject to scientific study, reasons and reasoning. This method contains the idea that there can be an objective astrological fact or interpretation.
The other astrology is that which we feel and experience. It's the one that nobody has to tell us about or define for us, and which has no objective meaning. This astrology is the journey we all take through the phases and cycles of the Moon, through the seasons, and through the ages of our lives. It is the astrology of inspiration, of moonlight on the water, of black cats on shadowy nights, and of the stars in the sky. This is the astrology that came first. It is a subjective experience, one that is unique to each person having it, and which cannot be proven or disputed. It simply is. This astrology has a lot to do with myths, legends and folklore, and the way that we see our personal story told in the archetypes of humanity.
This side of the work is a bit of an odd thing for our technically-oriented world of passwords and college diplomas, and has no standing except maybe for mystics, poets and artists -- and people who know their inner truth is not in the dictionary. When you hear people criticize astrology as being unscientific or unproven, you can be sure that they are completely out of touch with this numinous aspect of the work. Yet they are likely to be equally out of touch with the astrology that measures fractions of a degree, studies the harmonics of math and looks diligently at the strange cycles of personal and world history.
Working with astrology as a tool, we ultimately make a path exactly between these two aspects of the work, drawing strength and wisdom from both equally. But the question is where to begin, and why. If we begin with memorization and facts, we approach the subject as something alien to us. If we begin with experience, then we're learning something through feeling and observation, and begin to build a relationship with it that's held in our bodies and senses. From there, it's always possible to branch out into ideas and concepts, in fact, it happens quite naturally, because quickly the study of nature quickly takes on symbolic value, and every question ultimately comes back to the question of self. Yet at least, beginning with one's personal experience and accepting that intuition is a vital part of life, the ideas and concepts that come later are grounded in something tangible.
Many people struggle a long time with the study of astrology, and work diligently for years. Then, you'll often hear them they say they cannot interpret a chart. My sense is that's because astrology is not yet real to them. It is an abstraction of the mind. Real means something we can feel, something we can inquire of directly, and something we can see for what it is, like an apple tree.
So start with the Moon. The nice thing about the Moon is that pretty often, you can actually see her. When you can't see her, you can discover her phase in the newspaper, or an ordinary datebook, calendar or tidal chart. And if you pay attention over time, she's pretty easy to tune into and feel. The Moon exerts enormous gravity on the Earth, its critters, plants and bodies of water. This affects every living thing and many 'inanimate' things.
If you learn something about the Moon's cycle by getting a feeling for it, you'll then know something about every planetary cycle, since they all have a lot in common. By the time you get into the technical details that come fairly early the study of astrology, your knowledge of the Moon's tendencies and behaviors, and the skills you learn in reading her, will come in handy every moment. Yet this goes beyond knowledge. Once you can feel something of the Moon's reality, it will be possible to feel something about any of the planetary cycles.
Mysteriously enough, most women experience a hormonal cycle that is closely synchronized with the Moon's cycle, which lasts about 27 days and 8 hours. That is, in just under 28 days, the Moon goes once around the Earth, visiting or passing through the backdrop of all 12 signs of the zodiac in that time, and returning to the point you began observing. In about the same number of days, women move through their fertility cycle of menstruation, ovulation and back to menstruation. For women, a good basic Moon experiment is to track your cycle over six months or so and see where your body and its quickly changing feelings mesh with the phases of the Moon.
The beginning of the lunar cycle is called New Moon. This is when the Moon and the Sun are in the same sign and the same degree. At the exact moment of the New Moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun align in a straight line with the Moon in the middle. Its technical name is Moon conjunct Sun. When stating an aspect between two moving planets, generally the name of the slower planet is stated before the faster one. It is the faster moving Moon that is making a conjunction to the Sun. The Moon is not visible at this time; it's too close to the Sun. The New Moon always occurs in the same sign of the zodiac where the Sun is at the time; for example, the Aries New Moon must happen with the Sun in Aries.
In the last days before the New Moon, we can see the thin slice of the Moon rise just before the Sun, early in the morning. After the New Moon, we can see the sliver of the Moon appear on the second or third night, in the evening, just after sunset. After the New Moon, the Moon is said to be waxing, or building in its light.
About seven days into the cycle is First Quarter phase. This is when you can see half of the visible disk of the Moon lit up in the sky (sometimes mistakenly called 'half Moon' but that's really an old term for 'Full Moon'). At this time, the Earth, Moon and Sun make a right angle, with the Sun at the point. The technical name for this aspect is Moon square Sun. It often feels like a turning point.
Then comes the Full Moon phase. This is the peak of the cycle, when the Sun and Moon are on either side of the Earth, at full polarity -- which people can feel. The Full Moon always takes place in the sign opposite that which the Sun is in at the time. Its technical name is Moon opposite Sun. In feeling, it is usually the most distinct of the cycles; just about any cop or diner waitress you ask will be able to tell you when it's the full phase because of how people act -- a little like lunatics, which word comes from 'Luna', one of the names of the Moon goddess. Many people do face challenges dealing with the enhanced emotions and hormones of this time.
The last major phase is Last Quarter. Like the First Quarter, this is also Moon square Sun, but it's the waning Moon. This aspect marks the last week before the New Moon. (We just happened to pass this phase earlier in the week, as the Moon heads toward the Sun for New Moon and solar eclipse.)
In many cultures, rituals are held at the times of the New Moon and Full Moon. Ritual takes another step toward making a planetary event real, and putting the memory of it into our bodies. Ritual marks the occasion with a gathering, be it for pleasure, for spiritual purposes, or for community.
There are other lunar phases, located between the ones I've described above, but these are the more obvious turning points in the journey. The Moon in its course makes every aspect to the Sun: trines on the waxing and waning side; quincunxes on both sides; quintiles; sextiles; and others. We will get to those aspects later. Any two planets you might consider will have a cycle that is comparable to the Sun-Moon cycle. The faster planet will play the role of the Moon and the slower planet the role of the Sun.
If you follow the Sun-Moon cycle for a while, you'll begin to pick up the basic heartbeat of the planet. It is like the rhythm of the bass drum. It pulses about 13 times each year. Consider that in a lifetime of 80 years, a person will experience about 1,040 lunar cycles.
Following these pulses, you also may make some basic observations about how the Moon feels and how she expresses herself in the world. There may seem to be things that feel more appropriate to do or say at one phase than at another. You may notice changes on either side of a Full or New Moon. Your relationships may seem to change and shift with the lunar phases. Some people will be more sensitive to these changes than others, and we're all affected by them despite all the best efforts of the world to drown them out and make them go away.
Get a sense of this cycle and you're well on the way to being an astrologer. More on this question next week.
I have a beautiful little girl who is four years old who I absolutely love with all my heart. I have had three jobs in the past five months because most days I just don't want to get out of bed. Most people think I am this funny, outgoing person but they donít see the other side, I believe I truly underneath I am this outgoing person but the depression just seems to take control of my life. I have the ambition to succeed but when I do for some reason I create a drama so that I do fail, I don't know if it is because I donít think I am worthy of anything good in my life. Being a Taurus I am very strong-willed and determined, but this depression just has a hold over me and I am at my wits end, it doesnít matter how much I try to overcome it eventually it just creeps back.
You have asked for help. This is the most important thing a person who needs help can do. It means you are open to help. Please keep that door open.
I suggest, before going any further, that you find a place of compassion for your situation within yourself. This is the point of stillness that will give you some rest and help you assess things in a calm way. Struggling is bad enough, but we do have a tendency to judge ourselves for that struggle. I can tell you're doing some of that because you're mixing two thoughts that really have nothing to do with one another. The first is the expression of your pain. The second is the notion that it means something: that because of that pain, you sometimes feel you're unworthy of anything good in your life.
Now, I can see how you might have come to this conclusion. Deep inside every person is the belief in cause and effect, or else we would not be here. And it must seem that there has to be a reason why your life is the way it is. I can assure you there is a reason. And I can assure you that it has nothing to do with your worthiness. But I'm pretty sure it has something to do with what you were told about your worthiness, and what signals the adults in your early environment were sending you, based entirely on their own beliefs about themselves. In other words -- read this 111 times if you have to -- what people told you, and how they felt about you, had nothing at all to do with you or who you are. It was about their inner feelings and their own history. Of course, you took their treatment of you personally, as children always do; this is what people mean by 'taking it on'. The environment you were raised in, which by all indications was not so healthy, shaped your reality. But these people had their issues that existed long before you came along.
Depression is actually a misunderstood word. Most of the time we think of it as sadness or feeling blue. Actually, there is a great deal of pent-up anger and grief contained in depression. There is also judgment, which is really self-judgment that was passed along to us by our elders. There is usually quite a lot of guilt and shame. And there can be rage at the feeling of instability that these emotions cause by rocking our emotional boat from underneath; of never letting us have a moment's peace. I have a theory about depression, which is that it includes a lot of guilt about having our needs met and being taken care of, because that guilt was mixed in with our early experiences of being taken care of. Often, as adults living with such feelings, the path of least resistance is paralysis.
Depression or any other form of mental anguish are not merely hereditary. They are transmitted through environmental contact and through ongoing relationships that stream down the generations. The atmosphere, beliefs and actions that lead to depression are largely conducted or passed along in the act of relationship. They are also contained in the genetic code, just like the color of your eyes. But of the two, my take is that environment is the more important cause, and most readily available healing factor. In any event, it is the one we have the most control over now, when it counts. Environment includes relationships. I would propose that it's going to be through finding, establishing and developing new patterns of relating that you make the most headway in going beyond your current state, and getting yourself to a place where you experience some stability and sanity.
In my personal experience and from what I have witnessed, the most powerful influence in maintaining depression is perpetuating the family relationship patterns that created it in the first place. Often, because depression creates dependency, the (toxic) family 'support' network is the same thing that is keeping many people sick. Telephone calls can be more than enough. It can be a very vicious cycle. These same cycles can and almost always do spread into relationships outside the family, making it seem like the entire world is a giant conspiracy.
Healing depression involves getting a sense of the complex emotions you feel inside. The first step is often deciding what is yours and what belongs to someone else (sometimes called establishing boundaries). In the midst of inner chaos and sadness, it can be very difficult to sort out the feelings of others from the feelings of your own heart and soul. The total fusion of all those voices and identities with yours can create chaos that is very painful and debilitating.
I can give you an example. For a long time I experienced feelings of resentment. These did not exactly dominate my character in an obvious way. But they did have a way of ruining my fun dependably, and poisoning my relationships. As I became aware of this feeling, it started to remind me of my biological mother, who was a very angry woman when I was growing up. Then I started to notice her voice attached to the little resentful thoughts. It was like I was her when I was feeling them, and as I noticed this, at first it was painful and a bit shocking; at that time I was in my late 30s. Then I began, slowly, mind you, really slowly but steadily, to consider how she perceived the world, as a separate idea from how I perceived the world. I began to remember little things from my childhood. My mother resents men. My mother resents that every time there's a shell in the linguini with clam sauce, it breaks her filling and nobody else's. My mother resents that she's not free because she has children. My mother resents she's not a singer and actress. My mother resents my father. My mother resents her father. My mother resents me.
This went on and on for a while until it occurred to me that she resents everything! And everyone. And every situation. This whole business of resentment, which I experienced as this deep, nearly silent inner voice within my own mind that I thought was all my own, was enticing me quite literally to hate myself. Then I finally realized that this was not me speaking. It had nothing to do with who I am and how I feel. These feelings were emotional patterns that had been engrained into my body and feelings from the outside, by things that were said to me, by what I was told about myself, and by what I witnessed going on around me.
Slowly, I've been able to sort out the influences of different early caregivers, including my grandparents. These were not always negative influences. The people who treated me with kindness, sometimes even with a moment of kindness (such as a guidance counselor I had one session with in the third grade, named Peter Viggiano), provided an influence that left a door open to that type of assistance or role in the future. And nobody's influence is wholly negative; it's just that in the healing process, we often need to start with observing the shadow side -- with what comes across as pain and negativity. In this process, I have slowly been able to find a sense of who I am in the midst of all these other influences and voices, and choose more healthy ways of relating to myself and to other people.
I can tell you this -- one thing that's been very helpful has been learning to accept help without feeling guilt.
Now, you've written to an astrology web page. And I've spent a lot of time with your charts, but more time considering the words you've written. I think by now, for those who read this column, my reluctance to answer pain with astrological interpretation is pretty transparent. This is just my way of doing things and I work this way, in part, because interpretation can be wrong, it can be inappropriate, it's usually unnecessary and generally it's not so helpful when what you need is compassion. It also takes a heck of a lot of words to explain an idea that leaps out of the chart in a moment, and the idea can be applied without any of those words.
Healing depression is, in my experience, never a mental exercise. It is not quite behavioral, but choices do count. It is always deeply emotional. But there are times when information can help. I can offer these few ideas from your chart, with a little prayer that they help you.
I can see what look like different threads or currents of influence coming from your two parents and the two sides of your family; I have alluded to several of the themes they convey above. Perhaps elaborating these will give a ray of light. Both sides of the family have their problems, which you would do well to sort out.
There appears to be one line of influence that was just pure rage, and its cousin, resentment. I can see this vividly because Mars is parked exactly on your 4th house cusp, in Pisces. I would call this an inheritance of anger, but as it's arrived in your psyche, it's the simmering kind of anger rather than outward eruption. And usually it may well be directed from you back to you rather than at the world. In Pisces, it can translate directly to the kind of fear that eats the soul. This is elaborated further by the presence of Pholus (a centaur planet whose first keywords are 'three generations') and Lilith (an asteroid who represents the original woman deep within us) in the 4th house. This suggests to me that there is a long tradition in your family of hatred toward women. This potentially translates (because you are a woman) to self-hatred, which is another word for guilt. Both Pholus and the involvement of the 4th house offer big clues that this is a very old problem. (When you visualize the 4th house cusp, imagine a spiral going down the chart, off the page, and into the distant past.) The fact that two older women in your family committed suicide provides some evidence of this hatred. Suicide also suggests many other problems in the family. Suicide is like a mask for deeper issues and often functions as a cover-up. You may know some of this story already.
There is another line of influence suggesting that the idea of emotional balance was simply nonexistent in your childhood, and that this condition set you reeling at a very young age. This appears to have something to do with your mother. Follow the logic: Moon (mother, childhood conditions, emotions, needs) conjunct Uranus (shock, erratic energy) in Libra (relationships, balance). There is no balance at all in that picture. This is exactly opposite your 5th house Aries Chiron, suggesting that there is a neglected child within you who is very angry about all of this. This child wants experiences! Fun experiences. Instead, all it gets is a wild ride that seems to lead nowhere. This opposition is the most clear chart image of the bipolarity you describe. And it can be associated with a lot of anger. You have to get to know and be friends with the raging child inside you. Or this child will keep wreaking havoc.
Last interpretation. Someone has dumped the burden of grief onto you. I sense that you have been scape-goated with grief, that is, blamed for something, or many things, that had nothing to do with you, and made into the ritual bearer of these emotions. (I read this into Vesta conjunct the centaur Hylonome in Cancer on the 7th house cusp. It's as if you're a 'grief surrogate'.) I would say that the first time you can have the experience of a relationship (even if it lasts a day) that is not based on you taking on someone else's sadness and grief will be a big step in your recovery. Even if you were to merely notice this happening once, that would be a fine step. The transaction of taking on this grief may be so subtle and so integrated with the sense of purpose you were given as a child that it feels totally normal.
What is normal is the hardest to see; after all, it's normal and we're not supposed to notice. As you get better, a lot of totally normal things are going to change, and seem pretty darned weird.
I'm going to end with a pitch for therapy (particularly if you're using mood stabilizers), and with an idea about therapy that may be rather unfamiliar. There's a notion in the world that we go to a therapist to talk about our problems. There is another idea, proposed in the book A General Theory of Love, that says that the purpose of therapy is to develop a relationship with the therapist; from that relationship, we learn to relate in a different way, and thus relate as a 'different' or more evolved person in relationship to another (at first, the therapist, then others). A therapeutic relationship is one that encourages a healthy growth pattern. This experience or pattern we can take into life with us, and cultivate further. Learning is a process. Relationships take time to develop. Therapy can take anywhere from a few sessions to two years to start showing solid results, but the best results are often experienced in the long run. So it's necessary to be patient and persist and let learning these skills of patience and persistence be part of your healing process. But the most important thing is wanting to get better above all else. There, pain serves as a good motivator.
A couple of other points. You need time outside, in the sunshine. You also need time to yourself. As a mom, this can be hard to get. But you simply must have some time on your own. I also suggest you get some regular help cleaning your house. If you don't know anyone who can help, put up a sign at the local church or health food store. "Please help me clean, free." You also need good food. Your body must be properly nourished for your mind to feel good. This adjustment can go a LONG toward helping the healing of emotional crisis, particularly in getting the first initial lift; ask a few people who specialize in this field to confirm. Stuff like flax seed oil, spirulina, B vitamins (mind food!), and a LOT of water all can benefit a person immensely.
And it would be truly, truly beneficial if you found one way, one single way, that you feel good expressing yourself, and that you have a desire to keep coming back to. It could be painting; it could be writing; it could be the study of Tarot cards; it could be playing chess; it could be dancing. But one thing, one space within your day where you really feel yourself, a space that is totally dedicated to you, would likely do you a world of good. Perhaps a small world, but it would grow, as worlds often do.
And remember this: every single person who has read this response is sending you loving vibes right now.
Open Letter for 'Giving Up'
I too have been in the depths of despair many times, mostly during my childhood, but I have been able after many years of help from people to come out of the other side a stronger and wiser person. I learnt to appreciate the small things in life like the sun rising each day, the birds singing in the trees and I also learnt that possessions count for nothing - it's people that matter.
Please pass on if you can, my love and thoughts to 'our friend' and the hope that she will always find what she truly needs.
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