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Archive for Friday 16th September 2005

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Epochal Times

Dear Readers, Far and Near:

We are certainly in a high stress moment in the history of the world, even the world as we've become (sort of) accustomed to it. And with the sensitive Pisces Full Moon approaching between now and Sunday, there is a nervous, emotional energy in the air that a lot of people are either going to be feeling or responding to unconsciously. Pisces can be a mellow sign, but it can also be edgy, and this Full Moon is in a pretty close square to Pluto.

Let's do a brief summary of the recent news. Our current moment of history (just speaking for this week or so) includes the 60th anniversary summit of the United Nations, where many world leaders have gathered in New York; a recent wave of riots in Northern Ireland; a blackout in Los Angeles; the ongoing total evacuation of New Orleans and occupation of the city by a mercenary army (Blackwater Security, a private security firm, some of its heavily armed members newly back from Iraq); and hence, the entry of an entire US city into the post-industrial age; publication of evidence that one of the New Orleans levees may have been demolished with underwater explosives; the beginning of hearings for the proposed new life-long chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, who claims to have no agenda whatsoever; the actual resignation of someone in the Bush administration, embattled FEMA guy Mike "Brownie" Brown (who is seeking "new opportunities"); a massive insurgent battle in Baghdad; and the discussion of the preparation for the effects of global warming on the cover of the International Herald Tribune (the international edition of the New York Times).

There is so much going on that what happened on Monday seems like old news as I write on Thursday morning.

I have not even mentioned Africa or anything going on in Asia, and there is a lot. We live in what you could call epochal times -- times of momentous change, under our feet and before our eyes. Don't be fooled by the fact that you may not watch the news or that the pace of change is so relentless that what we're witnessing may seem normal. It is not normal. Nothing about this time in history is normal. But then, when you look at what visionaries in the 1970s were saying about the direction of our society, we can see that things are coming to a head where industrialization itself will reach a crux point and call for a higher level of sensitivity to the environment and participation in world consciousness.

We might ask what planetary activity is associated with this cluster of events, which sounds like it could be a mock news summary out of a sci-fi novel. Remembering that the past 12 years or so have come with an unusual cluster of events, going back to the extremely rare Uranus-Neptune conjunction in Capricorn, I would associate the following current planetary developments with this historical cluster we're going through:

1. The approaching solar eclipse in Libra. The events of the eclipse window are just heating up and we have yet to see the most "interesting" of them. The Oct. 3 eclipse, which I get the feeling will be somewhat infamous, sets off many different charts with strong Libra signatures, particularly that of Mr. Bush. We may see some seismic activity as a result of this eclipse, which is in a sensitive area of the zodiac for movement of the Earth. As well, Saturn crossed the acting president's ascendant on Monday morning. Notice that he issued the first semi-apology of his presidency this week. I reckon that while Saturn appreciated this conciliatory gesture, the transit is not quite over.

2. Saturn in Leo. We promised you some changes. We saw a few dams bursting during the past century. But really, I had no clue. In the immortal words of Patric Walker [quoted on excellent authority], referring to astrology, "This sodding stuff works!" Too bad it works so freaking well. Saturn in Leo is a BIG change; it turns an energy that was largely feminine emotional into an energy that is passionate and fiery. But it's just part of the picture and hey, this transit is just beginning.

3. The approaching Mars retrograde in Taurus. This begins Oct. 2, coincidentally timed with the solar eclipse. Exciting, yes? Mars goes retrograde for about 10 weeks every two years and is often associated with a heightening of intensity in world affairs. The last time, it came with a massive heat wave in Europe as well as occurring near the beginning of the Iraq war. Mars, now at about 22 degrees of Taurus, is making a long, slow yod involved with Jupiter at 22 degrees of Libra and Pluto at 22 degrees of Sagittarius. This is a triangular aspect of 120, 120 and 60 degrees. The keyword is INTENSE.

4. We are thus having a major eruption of Pluto in Sagittarius. It's all about "ideology," isn't it. Okay, well, money factors in, and oil, but ideology is the way to get people going, or get them to forget. The Pluto in Sagittarius factor may be the most critical of all these I'm outlining here; it is the one that says that what we believe is what's really important, no matter how stupid it is. I.e., "I paid $60,000 for this big ol' truck that gets 10 mpg so by golly I'm gonna pay three bucks a gallon for gas and drive it everywhere!" (Yes, people in San Francisco love their BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] and many New Yorkers really do take the subway. But these are relatively small parts of America; most Americans simply have to drive to work.) Pluto in Sagg allows psychic space and let's say provides motivation for people to rally their idea of the forces of "good" and "evil" and make a huge fuss where there might otherwise be none. This has been going on since around 1994.

5. The recent Capricorn Full Moon on the summer solstice, reaching across the very first degrees of Cancer/Cap, setting off the June 21, 2001 total solar eclipse (the pre-9/11 total solar eclipse on the summer solstice, the first of the 21st century, please see last week's edition). Then there was the second Capricorn Full Moon one month later, conjunct Chiron. In actual fact, four events, Katrina, the London bombings, the Asian tsunami and Sept. 11 attacks, are all DIRECTLY related, if you take any clues from astrology.

6. The recent Varuna New Moon -- Between the two Capricorn Full Moons was a New Moon in Cancer that was closely conjunct Varuna, a new planet named for the supreme creation deity and Lord of Waters. (Varuna, minor planet 20,000, was discovered in 2000. It orbits beyond Pluto that orbits the sun in 282 years.) This New Moon, covered extensively on Planet Waves at the time, occurred July 6, 2005 -- close to the USA birthday, and that of its fearless leader. More on Varuna is in the archives of this column here.

7. The ongoing conjunction of Chiron and Nessus in Capricorn/Aquarius, which was exact for the first time in May (in Aquarius) and which is now retrograding into the last degree of Capricorn. This is a generation defining conjunction, and one that no living person has ever experienced. Notably, this conjunction, between two of the earliest known Centaur planets (Chiron, the first, and Nessus, the third), occurred exactly -- exactly to the degree -- with Chiron square of the discovery degree of Chiron. This process, looking just at Chiron, could also be summed up differently as "the transition of Chiron in to Aquarius" for the first time in about 44 years. Search Google for timelines of the late 1950s and early 1960s and see what you learn...clue: Chiron left Aquarius and entered Pisces the last time on the day after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. Movements of this planet help define historical eras.

8. The discovery and announcement of Xena, which we can now nickname Hurricane Xena. This super interesting development involves the first planet discovered in our solar system (since 1930) that is larger than Pluto. Many, many planets have been discovered since 1930, when Pluto was found; some are further out than Pluto, some close in size. This is the first that is larger, and apparently, it turns out that for once in astrology, bigger makes a difference. Before we come up with any definitive ideas about what Xena means, we'll need to see how this time in history turns out. We'll know soon, in about six or seven years.

9. The approach of Pluto toward the Galactic Core. We don't see this aspect reach exactitude until December 2006, and last through all of 2007 and beyond, but we are definitely close and we are well on the way. The Galactic Core remains a mysterious point, and it speaks to the mystery of existence and our galactic origins. It is perhaps the most potent symbol for unity we have in the chart or in the sky, as it relates to our particular mini-universe. Astrologically, it brings in themes including connection to the source, and messages that seem to be from far beyond our consciousness but which really originate within us.

10. The associated galactic astrology connected to 2012 -- which is the approach of the Capricorn point to a sensitive area of the Galactic Core region and the final days of the 1.85 million day Mayan Day Count, and the end of Baktun 13, the last Baktun in the Mayan long count. If you figure that we are now in the last seven years of a 5,125 year cycle (the long count), and that this is a key culmination point of the entire 26,000 year precessional cycle, we are IN the moment right now. More on many of these topics -- particularly relating to 2012 -- are covered in a web page called Bridge to the Core -- have a look.

But the real question, the real issue, is not the symbols of astrology, but rather the reality with which and in which we live. Many of us are feeling a sense of fear and uncertainty as a result of all this intense change, coming on so fast; these two feelings can lead to many other forms of doubt and loneliness. I am not feeling that there is any kind of "celebration of the conscious" going on -- rather, the conscious, those aware of the changes, seem to be concerned more than celebrating life. I don't blame anyone; most of the planet's population lives near a coastline, and we all breathe air and are supported by Gaia. We may be feeling a pretty serious sense of vulnerability as we watch while the prophesies of Earth changes seem to come true.

We have a big question to ask ourselves and one another: what do we do with fear? How do we handle the stress of our lives? How can we support those who have dedicated themselves to being on the front lines, whether as healers or as those who have descended into New Orleans as part of disaster teams, or to rescue animals?

The idea of astrology is not to lose ourselves in the astrological symbols, but rather to use it as a way we can be in our lives on the planet as firmly and as strongly as we can. To do that, we need one another. We need to reach out to others, and, because you are conscious, you may be the one who gets the job.

Updates continue daily over at Planet Waves -- including information about this weekend's Pisces Full Moon. See you there -- and please subscribe, because your subscription supports this juicy Q & A column, as well as the whole Planet Waves project. Thank you!


Hi Eric,

Thanks first of all for your enlightened writing; I find your insights VERY meaningful. I'm a little worried about the upcoming eclipse. The things I've been reading are making me nervous about my plans. My life has not been easy, but for the last year or so I've been trying to make as many positive changes as I can to try to make the rest of my life a happier experience. It's been a pretty uphill struggle, going more slowly than I'd hoped, but I'm hanging in there. I've never really traveled much, don't usually go away on vacations, maybe three or four times in my whole life, so this year as a part of my positive change and a gift to myself for my 50th year, I saved my pennies (literally) and booked a weeklong trip to Macchu Pichu and the Sacred Valley. I'm a little nervous about it (altitude sickness, travel glitches, and especially leaving my cat with a friend), and now I keep reading about the October eclipse being eventful, and it's making me more so. I'm leaving NYC at 11:30 pm 10/2, arriving in Cuzco 10:45 am on 10/3. This may sound silly to some of your readers, but I spent all my savings to go on this trip, and I'm really hoping for the experience of a lifetime, but in a good way. Is there anything special I should worry about or look out for? Should I cancel altogether? Please help if you can, any advice you have to offer will be taken most seriously.


Dear Sheila,
First, congratulations on pulling this together. The journey began when you really made the commitment to do it. Have you noticed that your life has changed along the way? Second, congratulations on your timing.

While I would be extremely unlikely ever to suggest that anyone cancel travel plans (as an astrologer, I would rather be involved in planning, if anything), it sounds to me like your plans are ideal. I can't promise you everything is going to go as you imagined -- and I suggest you give that up as soon as possible, because the emphasis on this journey is mystery. Your choice to go to this awesome part of the world during a New Moon and solar eclipse sounds pretty meaningful to me. You are flying into the eclipse and will be arriving pretty much as it happens.

I can assure you that you're going somewhere that eclipses have been observed and celebrated over many thousands of years. The psychic environment and atmosphere of change and intensity that surrounds the event will add to the quality of the place, in such a way that may even be inseparable from the setting itself.

Eclipses are powerful moments of repatterning. They help us let go of old patterns and establish new ones. So, take that as you will; you have not traveled much and now you're taking this mystical and exotic journey, sending a message to yourself and the cosmos that this is the new way you want to live.

Since you're doing this for your 50th birthday, you're quite close to your Chiron return and I suggest thinking of this trip as being associated with that. While it takes some investigation to uncover the deeper themes of the Chiron return, this transit represents movement between two major phases of your life.

I will leave it at that, and wish you the best on your journey.



My specific question is: How do you handle/interpret singletons?

Tonight what struck me was natal Mercury retrograde at 29+ degrees of Aries, M.C. 2+ degrees of Taurus, and making no other obvious contact with other planets in my birth chart save a 3 degree orb trine with Chiron, 5th house. Then I realized that Mercury rules 11th house Gemini (where natal Venus is) and 2nd house Virgo (where natal Saturn resides). It seems that points to some writing ability as well as my incessant critical internal dialogue which plays into significant self-doubt (2nd house) and subsequently limits the social and financial rewards for my efforts (11th). Mercury's last degree placement in a sign also suggests to me that a personal growth area is getting that energetic self-criticism more into Taurean determination.

So while I had previously looked at Mercury as a "singleton" in my chart (don’t know if that’s the right word), what I'm wondering is if these are the kinds of processes you use in looking at planets which at first blush seem to be all alone.

Best regards,

Dear John,

John Birth Chart

It seems you've got the right idea in how you're proceeding. I would not, however, be so quick to give something a label like "singleton" and devise a special way of handling it. It's clear that your Mercury is in a special condition and can't have a rule applied to it.

Mercury carries a lot of weight in your chart. Besides holding the last degree of a sign, it is:

-- the highest traditional planet in the chart, granting what is called "accidental dignity"
-- the ruler of your 2nd house (money) and your 11th house (community, aspirations, rewards from work)
-- the ruler of your South Node in the 2nd house, suggesting that it is deeply involved with your values system and your past history
-- it is retrograde, suggesting further involvement with the past

I do have a method for handling retrograde planets, which involves using progressions. On the sixth day after you were born, Mercury stationed direct. Using progressions, we can look back to when you were six for some information about what that Mercury represents. Do you know anything about your life at that time?

Next, when you were about 16 days old, Mercury (now moving direct) crossed your MC and entered your 10th house and made an exact trine to Chiron. Using progressions, this corresponds to events around the age of 16 or 17. What do you remember about that era in your life, in any context at all, or as associated with the themes of the houses and the planet involved?

I think you can see from this that rather than applying an interpretive rule, I am applying a technique you can use to explore the actual territory that your chart symbolically represents. It takes a little time to let go of the reflex of interpretation. And what I have found through much experience is that the best way to explore the chart is to explore time.

Given this, I will pass along two additional moments in history that may be meaningful to you: the spring of 1977, and then the autumn of 1977. In the spring, Chiron crossed your Mercury and MC; in the fall, it was discovered. What do you remember about those times? What do people you knew back then remember? What was the "before and after" scenario?

I'm curious to see what you discover.

The 2nd House: Not just Money

Dear Eric,

I was wondering if there is a less materialistic interpretation for the 2nd house. Yes, I do expect this to be a more fruitful year in the finance department than last year but I'm bored to tears reading about it everyday. It seems like all the astrologers out there are determined to talk about my bank account nonstop. And planetary action seems more exciting in almost any other house besides this one-dimensional 2nd house. Surely these people must be missing something -- or is life really going to be a bunch of deposit slips and bank runs this year?


Dear Dottie,
I am with you. Part of being a modern astrologer is developing modern and creative interpretations for the houses. This is an ongoing process. The world is changing and the houses represent the world as we know it. The signs are the deeper energies; they are more stable; they are less subject to creative interpretation. Houses are local, here and now affairs; they are specific to individual cultures, because they represent your experience of life where you are standing on the ground or where you were born, including the time and the place.

The houses are like the rooms in God's mansion. Each has a specific purpose, feeling and décor. The houses are about our lives and our experiences. They are neither theoretical nor particularly cosmic. You could make a case that they are the most basic element of astrology.

Traditionally, the 2nd house is about one's personal resources. It all started with a cow (Taurus, the corresponding 2nd sign, is represented by a sigil that looks a little like a cow or bull). In the olden days and for many people today, when you have a cow, you have milk and you can plough the fields. From there, the modern (industrialized) world equivalent became the bank account, but the story ends here only if you're a really boring astrologer.

The opposite house, the 8th, is the house of "other people's resources." The 8th has a heck of a lot more meanings than any other house -- ideas I used to write about (in true 8th house style) obsessively.

The 2nd house is so important because in a sense it represents the poverty line; the eat/not eat, rent/no rent line. How we navigate this line is a BIG variable. Not everyone rich is born rich; not everyone with a college degree can stay off the streets; some people can get by on exceedingly little money and really make you wonder what the big deal about cash really is. These are 2nd house attributes, for the most part.

I view the 2nd house, the planets in it, their aspects, the ruling planet (that is, the ruler of the 2nd house cusp), and that planet's aspects, all as being significant of resources of every kind. As we know, "resources" are a lot more than money. There is also the quality of resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is like, okay, you have a computer, what do you do with it? You have a bit of land, what potential do you see and how do you use it? You have this brain and body, how do you work with them in the world?

If we look at the various 2nd house placements, we can get some information about how resourceful a person feels, how they relate to their resources, and how they express them.

But as Robert Hand (referencing him a second time in this article) once said, modern astrology is psychological astrology. Every house has what you might call a material expression and also a psychological expression. In this respect, the 2nd is just about the most important house, because it deals with self-esteem. That is to say, it deals with how we value and relate to ourselves.

The word "esteem" usually disappears into nothingness in the concept self-esteem; I usually use the term self-respect. But let's get a few definitions of esteem and see what the idea is about. Says Wikipedia: "Dignity in humans involves the earning or the expectation of personal respect or of esteem." So it's associated by this definition with the concept of dignity. Princeton's Web definition brings back, "The condition of being honored (esteemed or respected or well regarded); 'it is held in esteem'; 'a man who has earned high regard'."

So in essence self-esteem is about the regard in which we hold ourselves.

Now, to get to the bottom of a house, you have to do some detective work. But I have found the 2nd house to be worth the work, because it often reveals the true situation with the client. To do this work you need to first look at the house and see what planets it contains, if any. If there are none, don't worry; because the ruling planet is going to tell a story. But first, look at the planets IN that house and see what they are, how they feel and what they seem to imply. Then, look at the houses that those planets rule to tell you where the influence came FROM.

Next, look at the ruling planet of the sign on the house cusp. It may be in the 2nd house, it may be far away. But it will have a condition; it will tell a story. What is it saying? Is the planet happy where it is? Does it feel natural? You will start to get a picture. (You can use this basic method to analyze any house.)

The 2nd house has one last theme that I think is vital. If the 8th house is the sex we have with others, then the 2nd is the sex we have with ourselves. What I'll call the 2nd house sex phenomenon is a big one these days. There are many people who, by choice or by default, are their own lover. Perhaps this is a modern issue; perhaps it's been going on all along. But it's for sure something to check into when looking at or talking about the 2nd house.

Catch you next week with more questions and answers.

See you over at Planet Waves, where updates continue daily.

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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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