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Archive for Friday 30th September 2005

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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Truth, Justice and Libra

Dear Readers Around the World:

We're in the front entrance of an eclipse in Libra. It will be visible at about 11 am Monday as a partial eclipse throughout much of Europe and the UK, and will be a nearly-total eclipse in some parts of Spain. Here is the map for the eclipse, showing the "path of annularity" since this is an "annular" eclipse of the Sun.

If I were to write a basic guide to survival on Earth that applied astrology to life, Chapter One would be about eclipses. They are the most tangible, and most frequent, most useful regular events that push our lives forward.

But if I had to explain one sign of the zodiac first, it just might be Libra. This is because Libra is the sign of relationships, and life is made of nothing if not relationships.

Let's start with eclipses, which usually occur in pairs (solar and lunar, separated by two weeks), which arrive about every five and a half months. [But before I go down this road, I want to make a brief mention that Mars stations retrograde motion on Oct. 1, a reasonably rare event. That is not covered here -- please look on Planet Waves shortly for information about that.]

As nearly everyone knows, the Moon goes round the Earth, and once a month, there's a New Moon (Sun conjunct Moon), then two weeks later, a Full Moon (Sun opposite Moon). But during eclipse phases (which occur twice each year), there's a New Moon-Full Moon pair that's unusually exact; so, rather than passing a little above or below the Sun, the New Moon crosses exactly over the disk of the Sun. That is a solar eclipse. Then, in a corresponding event, rather than passing a bit above or below the shadow of the Earth (as it does in a normal month), the Full Moon passes right through the shadow; that is a lunar eclipse. (Sometimes the lunar eclipse comes first; sometimes the solar eclipse comes first.)

To mark approximately where these events are going to happen, there are two signposts in every astrological chart called the lunar nodes (well-covered in the archives of Astrology Secrets Revealed). The nodes are always there, and they are a reminder that both the next and the most recent eclipses are also always there. In other words, eclipses are not one-time events. They are like broadcasting towers positioned in the past and the future that talk to us NOW, all the time. And every once in a while, NOW goes right past one of these broadcasting towers, and we get the signal at full intensity -- during an eclipse.

But in reality eclipses are less like going past something and a lot more like going directly through it. If you've ever taken a rafting or canoe trip, they feel like going headlong into a standing wave. The wall of water, created by a narrowing of the flow, looks solid, but when we push into it, we change its shape for a moment, plunge through and come out on the other side. And in the case of an eclipse, that's often a whole new reality. Sometimes it's subtle; sometimes it's really obvious; but it's always true enough.

Here are the basic energetic qualities of eclipses, most of which apply most of the time.

  • The first is a concentration of experience. A lot happens in a short time; time itself becomes distorted. This works on an individual level, and on a collective level. In other words, time feels like it's moving more briskly as an individual perception, and then at the same time, world events arrive closer and closer together. This gives the feeling that "everything is speeding up." (Get used to it. This only gets more intense between now and 2012, which is like The Great Eclipse in the Sky.)

  • Events seem karmic or predestined. They may not be, but they certainly seem that way. A lot of how that effect shapes up depends on just what happens, and on your relationship to the ideas of karma and destiny. However, this "fate effect" merely emphasizes the more valuable sense that decisions are more important now. Smaller decisions mean more; larger decisions can have a much more vivid, lasting and sweeping impact on life.

  • Add some discontinuity. The world always seems to plow forward on its crazy way, and yet nothing ever seems to really change. Life is genuinely different as eclipses approach, and then never quite returns to normal. Instead, a new kind of normal takes over. In the process of the Soul evolution of the planetary level, and in our individual lives, these events represent critical transition points, simultaneously collective and individual, without which there would be very little progress at all.

  • So, another characteristic is a distinct sense of sudden transition. We move from one space of life into another. Personal relationships, including marriages and lover-relationships, are particularly susceptible to shifts, emotional movement or rearrangement. The change can manifest as a deepening of stronger relationships, or shake-ups in weaker, less stable relationships, many of which are likely to change dramatically. Anything that's not working with the process of our personal and collective evolution is subject to disruption, things that are working are subject to challenge, and their strength can be put to good use.

In all, we need to do two things -- pay attention and work with the process. This is good advice for life at any stage, but particularly during an eclipse, these two little points can get you a long way from feeling overwhelmed to a sense that you're actually making some progress. Of course, with eclipses, it's best to not judge progress in the moment. Wait till you have a longer view.

One thing that we always need to remember about eclipses is that going back a very long way, and until recently, they were considered exclusively negative omens. Thus, there is a level of superstition associated with them, and this can verge on unconscious catastrophobia. Often, their properties, outlined above, have indicated the "end" of things, or a shadow falling on the light. And wee people don't really like too much change, as necessary as it is. But as we become better at working with psychology (for lack of a better word) and spirituality (for another lack of a better word) we can see eclipses in a dual sense -- yes, on one level, something happens, and on another level, we are involved in the experience of becoming. The more adept we are at processing shadow material, the more we can work with the light, and with the mysterious way eclipses help us see clear through reality -- or pass through seemingly solid barriers.

This kind of advanced thinking shifts the energy away from fate and in the direction of free will, a process with which astrology (i.e., humanity) has been involved for a long time, and will continue to be involved.

An Eclipse in Libra

We are fast approaching an eclipse of the Sun in Libra. We know that Libra is the sign that has something to do with balance, but in truth the symbol is the scale itself. Libra is about the act of careful evaluation; but those scales weigh Quality, not quantity.

To have a clue about an eclipse in Libra, we need to know a little about that sign first. Libra, in short, is the sign that reminds us that the temperature on Venus is 900 degrees. Libra is one of the most intense signs of the lot, every bit as potent as a fire sign, but politely presented as an articulate yet aesthetically sensitive air sign.

Here is what Alice A. Bailey has to say about Libra in the book Esoteric Astrology, published 1951:

"It is a sign of balancing, of careful weighing of values, and of achieving the right equilibrium between the pairs of opposites. It might be regarded as the sign in which the first real vision of the path appears and of the goal toward which the disciple must ultimately direct his steps. This Path is the narrow razor-edged Path which runs between the pairs of opposites and which -- if it is to be safely trodden -- requires the development of a sense of values and the power to utilize rightly the balancing, analytical facility of the mind."

This sounds like a good description of what an honest judge does. The scales of Libra are the symbol of the judiciary itself.

Aleister Crowley, an influential figure in American astrology and himself a Libra Sun, said that a sense of justice "seems to underlie every trait" of a Libra native. Librans by nature strive to be fair. "In religion, for example, he will not confine himself to any one system, but look for the best points in all and endeavor to strike a balance between them."

He continues, "Sometimes the delicacy of mental adjustment may be interpreted as indecision; in undeveloped types, it may really amount to this weakness. It is certain that the native will not form snap judgments; he may prefer to suffer acutely than risk injustice to others."

It is this quality of justice that is the thing to watch, and to cultivate, with an eclipse in Libra. In a sense, there is a test of justice, which is the name of the grand historical chapter at which we have arrived.

In life, it is necessary to be discerning, if not actually judgmental, and this is what we learn when there is Libra activity. And there is plenty coming up -- four events, spanning through next week, set the cosmic scene. First is the eclipse of the Sun, close enough to the first degree of Libra to be considered early in that sign, and hence (because Libra is opposite Aries) an Aries Point event. Next is an eclipse of Mercury by the Moon, on Tuesday, called an occultation. Next is a conjunction of Mercury to Jupiter, a meaningful aspect because such a conjunction brings together the ruling planets of two pairs of signs, Gemini and Sagittarius, and Virgo and Pisces. It is a kind of cosmic trigger; this will be a nig news day and for many individuals, a potentially very positive personal news day. Fingers crossed there, but that's what it looks like.

Finally on Thursday, Oct. 6, the Sun crosses the South Node, reverberating the message of the eclipse. All of this occurs within four days. There is definitely something big in the air.

As I am writing, a news event has been broadcast on CNN that reveals something of the influence of these aspects and points. Tom DeLay, the House of Representatives majority leader and (in theory) the second most powerful Republican in Congress, was indicted for criminal conspiracy. According to the rules of the House of Representatives, he must resign his leadership position while the criminal charges are dealt with. (This has happened.)

After what amounts to five years of nonstop crime, this is the first time a torpedo has actually hit the American political machine now in power. It is difficult from a political standpoint to overstate what a crucial turn of events this is, and DeLay is one of the best-connected people in all of American politics -- and a Texan to boot. He is in the flow of big money and has friends quite literally everywhere. So this is super weird.

As this was announced, Mercury in Libra was crossing the South Node in Libra to within three arc minutes (1/20th of a degree). When you think Mercury, think of the Bush administration, which is the Mercury presidency. When you think South Node, think of something old. Old, like karma. Mercury is revealing it, and bringing it to the surface. What is also interesting is that the node itself, and consequently the position of Mercury, are just one degree away from the ascendant of the Sept. 11, 2001 chart (8:46 am, Manhattan).

Indeed, much of the current activity, as well as Monday's eclipse chart, make a LOT of aspects to the 9/11 chart, and the acting president's chart, as well as the charts for New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. And while all this is going on, we get an unusual amount of activity in a very, very special horoscope: Election Night 2000 (Mercury stationing direct in Libra). Cousins, there is Libra, Libra everywhere, and there is a mighty eclipse in Libra right in the cosmic neighborhood, bending space, time and events in its direction.

Here is how the eclipse looks, set for Washington, DC:

Eclipse in Washington

Monday's Annular Solar Eclipse, Washington DC.

Now, this is a very fancy version of the chart, cast in Solar Fire 5. It includes a number of additional nontraditional points, called the Uranians -- eight "hypothetical planets" that are well worth examining when historical times get super duper interesting, as they are about to become. This chart counts for advanced astrology, but advanced and beginner astrology are really not that different. It's good to get accustomed to different chart formats.

I'd like to point out three things from this chart, and leave it to you for study.

The first is the ascendant (which will be the same in any chart). The ascendant is the horizontal arrow pointing to the left.

If we cast the eclipse chart for Washington, the second degree of Libra is rising. This puts the Aries Point as an angular position (on the 7th house cusp), -- once again invoking the Aries Point phenomenon that we've read so much about in Astrology Secrets Revealed. Another way to say this is that the Libra Equinox is rising, very nearly exactly. This is a reminder that it's an influential chart, and that it will have impact on many people.

It also puts the M87 galaxy, with its massive black hole, right in the ascendant. The galaxy occupies the second degree of Libra. It is RIGHT there in the ascendant. That galaxy has a huge flare shooting out of it (see illustration here).

Next, look for the planet Jupiter. It looks like a navy blue "4" toward the lower left side of the chart, in the 2nd house. Can you see it? It's right next to a green, diamond shaped Venus (called Pallas Athene).

Right near Jupiter is a very similar looking "4"-shaped glyph, in black, with a double vertical line; this is Apollon, a kind of super-Jupiter. It is one of those "hypothetical" Uranian planets, meaning it doesn't have a body; it's a point in space that conveys an idea, and that idea is: COMPREHENSIVE.

Commenting on this point, astrologer Blake Finley (new discovery, Web address at bottom of article) writes, "When in balance, Apollon gives us the understanding of the past, the future, and how they relate to perceptions in the present." He continues, "Apollon is almost like a 'lucky star' that seems to bring plenty to whatever it contacts. Whether we organize Apollon's abundant perceptions into a system, or leave them scattered and fragmented, depends on our personal wisdom and ability to truly see the overall picture and frame of reference." Good advice, Blake.

Jupiter and Mercury are now making very close conjunction to Apollon, exact Wednesday. Even by itself, this would be a major conjunction, when combined with the eclipse. But add Apollon and you have a clue that something very interesting indeed is going on.

One last bit from this mysterious Uranian chart. See if you can find Mars. He is in light blue, on the upper right side, toward the middle. He is accompanied by a weird looking little point -- Admetus. Another one of those Uranian points, Admetus is about deep stuff. He is about focusing the issues, digging deep into things (such as mines) and as such is a kind of patron saint of investigative reporters.

Not good news for crooks. This is very good news for people in the media who want to do their jobs, and there are a few.

Another one of his attributes is stuck things, or dealing with them. Notice from this chart that Mars, which stations retrograde Saturday (covered on Planet Waves) does so in an exact conjunction to Admetus. This tells us a lot of information (about money and resources, particularly oil) is going to come unstuck.

We are going to see some extraordinarily strange events unfolding in the political arena over the next month or two (particularly around Oct. 30), and on some level, they may be very entertaining and give us some satisfaction that sometimes, bad things happen to bad people.

But the real question is this: what would Justice do?

What would the truly fair outcome be? Politics is not about entertainment; it is not about revenge; it's about how our world is run; it's about who eats and who starves and why; it's about who is dropping the bombs, and who is under them -- and it's about working for the right outcome.

So get out your sense of fairness and of right and wrong, dust it off, awaken your childhood ideals, and remember the old protest slogan, because we're going to need it now: No justice, no peace.

I have time for two questions this week. Please keep them coming, and look for near-daily updates and more coverage of the Libra eclipse at Planet Waves and Planet Waves Weekly.

Divisions of a Sign

Good day Eric!

Thank you always for sharing your wisdom. I am a little frustrated being at the end of my sign. Every time I read a horoscope, it usually explains how it will affect March and early April born Aries. I also realize how different the March Aries are from the early April ones and the late April Aries, like myself. Can you give me more insight to how a sign, in this case, Aries is broken down into different phases within a sign?

Thank you!

Dear MJ,
It seems we're on a late Aries roll today, as we approach a lunar eclipse in this region of the sky later this month. I know that there are some astrologers who divide up "March Aries" types and "April Aries" types, but I am not one of them. It's true that people can come up with some innovative ways of interpreting the calendar that are surprisingly insightful.

Also, there are a lot of ways that signs are divided using classical techniques. But first, let's handle the "end of the sign" question. This is often referred to as the cusp. From what I have read, signs don't have cusps -- houses do. The division of a sign is a clear line; it is an actual angle that the Sun makes to the Equator. The division of a house, on the other hand, has a nice wide margin of transition where the themes merge and blend. It is based on a calculation, not the location of anything in particular.

It is also true that there are times when the symbolism of being a Sun Aries, but close to Taurus, is too good to miss. There are times when being born the first day of a sign has a vivid image connected with it. There are times when anything can be read as a symbol. However, a good starting point is to consider house cusps as transition areas and signs as more or less clear lines.

[The visual irony here is that in most astrology charts, the houses get the lines drawn in ink, making them seem firm, and you have to use your imagination and follow the numbers to see the divisions of the signs -- making the signs seem fuzzy.]

But on April 17, you're actually not born so close to the edge of Aries. The Sun still has about three days to go before reaching Taurus, so I would hesitate to say that you qualify as an edgy placement, invoking a lot of ideas about what it means to have the Sun in the last two degrees -- various themes of special growth situations which I have found to be meaningful.

This all being said, you are born with the Sun placed in the last "decanate" of Aries (also called a face, a division of the sign into three) and you're also in the last "term" of Aries (a division of the sign into five). So by two methods of reckoning, your Sun is in the last division.

Here is what we learn from that. The divisions are each ruled by a planet. This is a way of assigning an energetic quality to that particular little zone. Now, for reference, these two qualities (term and face) are not used so often by astrologers; and face is used more than term, which is practically a forgotten concept unless you're one of the freaks who likes collecting dusty old books.

The last term of Aries is ruled by Saturn (cousin Yasmin says that Rob Hand once pointed out to her that all the last terms of all the signs are ruled my Mars or Saturn -- which the ancients considered difficult). Since the Sun (the planet you have in that term) and Saturn (the term ruler) are considered rather different energies, this is considered challenging. Also, Saturn is supposedly a kind of opposite energy to the sign Aries. So that's considered challenging -- by the ancient ways of thinking. However, I can think of few energies better for Aries than Saturn, precisely because Saturn offers so much of just what Aries is typically lacking.

As for the face, or decanate ruler, in the last decanate, this would be Venus. When you consider the energies of Sun, Venus, and Aries, how does that add up in your mind? Hmm, it sounds adventurous, a little tense, perhaps a bit self-centered. Venus, according to the old rules, is in its "detriment" in Aries, so there is a comment being offered here.

We are getting a look at why the end degrees of the zodiac are considered challenging.

Here is a little more modern view, quoted from an article I wrote last year called Revolution of the Willing. It pertains specifically to the last two degrees of each sign, but we can borrow something from the spirit of the idea in relation to what we've just read. Begin quote:

Kirsti Melto in Finland wrote to me a few minutes ago about a discussion unfolding on the Finnish astrology list. She said, "Raimo A. Nikula described how there is always a paradox involved in last degrees: they can be not only 'punishing', but also be spiritually very rewarding, because the individual has in his possession the whole extension of the sign. He said that you can't tell whether it's going to be punishing or rewarding only by looking at the chart. The last phases carry the possibility to purify the soul so that new life experience is possible, but first you may have to face those things which rise from the unconscious. He said that he has noticed that it's not the last degree which is the most difficult one, but he thinks it's the degree just before, the 28+ degree."

End quote. Here is the table of Essential Dignities that I am referring to.

I hope this clarifies things rather than makes them more confusing.


Hi Eric,

I really enjoy your intelligent discussions of astrology beyond the sun-sign horoscopes that proliferate on the Internet. I've learned a bunch from reading this column. Would you be able to discuss the use of midpoints -- how and why they work? (I have never been able to understand them from a friend's explanation...) Also, how do astrologers see the use of midpoints?

Many thanks, and keep up the good work!

Best wishes,

Dear May:
A midpoint is a kind of aspect that has no specific number of degrees attached to it; rather, it is a point located halfway between two planets. Sometimes there are planets we find at the midpoint; sometimes there is just "empty space" that sits there waiting for a transit or progression to come along and call our attention to it.

Any two points in the chart have a midpoint, bar none. Therefore, there are a lot of midpoints in any chart. Some of these are really interesting. You might notice, for example that the placement of two planets forms a midpoint right at your ascendant. Therefore, all the time, your ascendant is going to be involved with the energies of those two other points, which you probably would not have noticed had you not checked midpoints in the first place.

Sometimes, you will notice that several sets of planet share a common midpoint which, once again, you would not have seen unless you had looked at the chart. You could say that midpoints are a way to see involvement of different planets that you would not have noticed just from looking at the natal chart or the aspects. You could say they reveal a hidden dimension that has math as its basis.

Given this, you now know enough to experiment without a specific theory to apply to what these points "mean."

If you use your imagination, there are plenty of metaphors available to understand a midpoint; you can consider it a balancing point between the two planets involved. You can consider it a point of integration, or a point of expression. You can consider it a kind of hidden zone. If you run a midpoint table, which just about any commercial astrology software will do, you can look at your midpoints and see if you notice anything interesting.

This "look for something interesting" method is the main tenet of my Gee Whiz school of astrology. You study the chart till you see something that gets your attention, and say Gee Whiz. Don't worry about what it means; just notice it and look it over, and sooner or later, you'll notice that it starts talking.

There are ways to prompt the discussion. For example, let's say you notice an interesting midpoint. Maybe there's a planet there, or two planets. Then, you either notice that a potent planet like Pluto or Saturn made a transit over the midpoint at some time in the past; then you do a little autobiographical study to see what you come up with.

If I were going to look at a chart using midpoints, besides seeing what turned up as interesting, I would probably be interested in the Sun-Moon midpoint; the Venus-Mars midpoint; the Ascendant MC midpoint; and a few others that stand out because they represent such well-trodden but also challenging factors in the personality. The first two examples I offered involve balancing male and female polarities. The third could be seen as the point where we balance "personal identity" (ascendant) with "professional identity" (MC).

In your chart, Sun/Moon falls at 15 Scorpio 59. Venus/Mars falls at 20 Scorpio 16. And Asc/MC falls at 3 Pisces 47.

To reach Uranian astrologer Blake Finley

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