"Terrestrial Ephemeris," paint on wooden board, by Violetta Gluchowska

In the Air

For The Faithful | by Eric Francis

Taurus New Moon
April 23, 2001

Friends, Readers, Cousins,

_____For those of you who felt the shift of energies over the past five or six days, what you experienced was a series of long-awaited astrological events. That was astrology; that is what it feels like.

_____You can also look at your recent history. Consider who entered and left your life during the past week in particular, and also during the past six weeks, what you were doing back then last week or six weeks ago, and what you are doing today, and observe how you feel now in contrast to how you felt then -- if you can even remember. It was, for many people, a big struggle as these changes approached, most likely struggles involving commitment and self-esteem, and a few weird money problems. For other people, descriptors like working-out and untangling are more appropriate.

_____But something is distinctly over, and something has distinctly begun.

_____Noteworthy in the past 96 hours was the ending of Venus retrograde in Aries, a retrograde which began March 9, this being a fairly rare cycle which we last experienced late in the fated Summer of 1999. Changes within relationships that transpired during and just before these weeks are worth writing an extra entry or two in your diary about. Depending on your belief-framework, the experience may have been past-life resolution, reunion with long-lost people, or reconnecting for the sake of getting clear, then moving apart. You actually have, at this time, the opportunity to leave behind what you seem to have left behind in these weeks. In any case, for those of you who wish to be present in the present, a whole new cycle of love and relationships is available, all the more emphasized by the fact that Venus stationed direct Friday in the second degree of Aries: that is, right near what astronomers call the Vernal Point, where the Sun aligns each year to harken (and create) Springtime in the northern hemisphere. Lovely indeed. Just remember, where love is concerned, keep your sense of humor.

_____But, most noteworthy of all the shifts and alignments, mighty Saturn, Kronos, Father Time and the father of time, has struck the hour, and the hour is Gemini. Saturn is a planet all its own. Not the largest of the known worlds but certainly, from the viewpoint of our photographs, the most majestic, Saturn is the old devil who keeps us on our toes, keeps us engaged with a purpose, and makes sure we change our spiritual sheets every now and then. Saturn does not really care what purpose you have, as long as you have one. For those of you who are embarking on your first Saturn returns (those born between June 1971 and July 1973), your mantra might well be: That which is alive needs a purpose. Purpose feeds the power of life, leads us to health, strength and sanity, and helps us structure our world in such a way as it works while at the same time allowing for change.

_____Not having a purpose is not cool. Having one requires some responsibility, but it's a lot easier than not having one.

_____I don't know what it's like going through one's Saturn return now, because I did mine about seven years ago (while writing exposés on PCBs and dioxins in New York State, dragging government officials into federal court and that kind of lovely Saturnian stuff). Now, I don't get to watch too many ads for The Gap, and when I do my stomach knots up and I come close to losing my dinner. But I suggest that you draw your inferences for your purpose from elsewhere. You may think I'm out of my mind or a complete idiot suggesting that many people seek information about the meaning of life from such fonts of wisdom as The Gap's advertising, but I am neither. I propose, rather, that this is from whenst we draw most of what we feel and believe about ourselves.

_____Saturn above all leads us to come to terms with ourselves. Saturn is happy when we are what we are, when we do what we know is right, and when we dedicate ourselves in the long-haul. If you are afraid of Saturn, remember the words of the late Patric Walker, who reminded us that "Saturn always brings more than he takes away." He takes what we do not need and provides what we do. Without failure. Saturn does not, however, mix well with drugs, whether "official" meds that we are using to avoid problems we know we need to be solving, or with herb, alcohol or all three, or whatever else. I speak as a former avid pothead and liquid cosmic explorer, and make no moral judgments whatsoever on this theme: just an astrological one: Saturn says stay in shape, stay in form, make sober choices, and you can and will have the benefits of many other energies. Nobody is demanding perfection, just awareness and sincere, sustained effort.

_____Yet the message of Saturn in Gemini may have a lot more to do with culture-wide unfoldments than individual ones; both are important, but this transit has some major cultural messages attached to it that we need to keep in mind. I keyed into this issue in one of the most influential and obscure astrology books ever written, Esoteric Astrology by Alice A. Bailey. This book is fifty years old this year; it has worked its wonders on the astrological profession, seeped its way in to textbooks, horoscope columns and "how to" guides, though few people have dared or mustered the patience to understand the original source material (it will take you a few years, and it is worth the time and effort). In one passage, found on page 164, we learn:

Saturn is one of the most potent of the four Lords of Karma and forces humanity to face up to the past, and in the present to prepare for the future. Such is the intention and purpose of karmic opportunity. From certain angles, Saturn can be regarded as the planetary Dweller on the Threshold, for humanity as a whole has to face that Dweller as well as the Angel of the Presence, and in so doing discover that both the Dweller and the Angel are that complex duality which is the human family. Saturn, in a peculiar relationship to the sign Gemini, makes this possible.

_____It has taken me along time to get a grasp on the basic message here, and I am certain I have not gotten to the bottom of it, but I'll take a shot at an interpretation. This esoteric stuff (including all forms of occult study) can take quite a while to sink in, and it's important to be patient with yourself and give it time. First of all, the statement is talking about making something possible that would not otherwise be possible. Second, it depends on recognizing that there is not just God, who is in my experience quite real, but rather a variety of entities which function as gods but in harmony with the greater Being. Saturn's role as a Lord of Karma is to keep us up-to-date with reality, and prepared for what's to come next. Saturn in this case is not the planet itself, but rather the living, conscious spirit of the planet (the planetary Logos), represented astrologically by the planet Saturn as he appears in our charts.

_____Now, when we grow through the major initiations in life (which most people experience as crisis), we move through a series of thresholds, one at a time; often we can actually feel this happening, or notice it as we help others along. Those of you on this journey surely know what I am talking about. At these thresholds, we are often greeted by powers greater than ourselves. Bailey references two such powers: Saturn, the Dweller on the Threshold, and another she calls the Angel of the Presence, who is not identified with a planet. However, she says earlier (on page 55) that on the mental plane, where we actually think and create our lives, the Dweller and the Angel are brought face-to-face and a duality is exposed and manifested openly. Something becomes clear through a process of polarization, or contrast. And humanity itself is this face-to-face confrontation. And it becomes really obvious when Saturn is in Gemini.

_____Gemini is the most basic sign of duality. It represents the two-sided aspect of a person and of humanity, yet where the two sides are not yet integrated and can often act in opposition to one another. All of us express the Gemini aspects of ourselves this way at different times. But the two sides must eventually confront one another openly. In the largest contexts, that is, in the context of the whole culture, Saturn in Gemini makes this confrontation possible; it brings the struggle to the surface. The last time Saturn was in Gemini were the last two years of the Vietnam War.

_____So, for example, we are currently divided as a culture whether we care about our health and the life of the planet, versus whether we care about indulging in convenience and unnecessary material gain, that is, gluttony and greed. But much of the time this duality is hidden -- hidden by the haze of television and drugs, by the alleged virtues of buying more and more, and also well-hidden by denial and refusal to acknowledge reality. I had somebody write to me tonight and tell me that I was "expecting a lot" from SUNY New Paltz college students when I thought they might recognize or at least suspect that their dormitories are contaminated with PCBs and dioxin, and therefore fill out a form and move out, for free. Expecting a lot! Fuckity fuck fuck fuck! If this is expecting a lot, expectations must be generally pretty down in the trenches of the abyss. Now, how are we as a culture going to recognize that we all (from one viewpoint, worth considering) live in the SUNY New Paltz dormitories (of greenhouse gas, genetically modified food, nuclear radiation, dioxin and pesticides) when students and their parents won't even fill in a form and move to another dormitory?

_____It's not too encouraging. What is less encouraging is the extent that we humans seem to have a hard time working together, except under the lash. You know, unless there's some guy standing there with a whip making us do it (i.e., threatening our pay check if we don't). Those of us who know in our hearts that there is a problem or that effort of some kind is necessary, need to actually work together, not just talk about things, but really truly pool our efforts, ideas and resources. True, most people around us will not give a rat's ass about most of this -- those, in particular, for whom swigging two litres of orange soda (made from genetically mutated corn sugar) is a delicacy, and that's a risk we'll have to take. But then, there are those of us who do drink actual water, and we are the ones who need to learn to work together. Water drinkers of the world Unite!

_____Saturn makes an interesting move this summer, in about five months, and when I put the whole Alice Bailey theory together on a cultural level, this is what I am reminded of. There is, on its way, an exact opposition between Saturn and Pluto. This does not happen often. It is a direct face-to-face meeting of very different energies, one being about structure (Saturn) and the other being about the power that holds structure together, or the power that is released when structure breaks down (called Pluto). They align across the Gemini-Sagittarius axis at 15 degrees in a place known to some astrologers as the "nuclear axis." I have written an article about this for StarIQ.com, and you can link to it here directly. Take a look and tell me what you think; I'll be taking the issue up in a future column soon.


_____I did not mean to bog your mind with such heavy thoughts. However, I quoted Alice Bailey and she is not known for her mirth or levity. She does not crack a grin once in 742 pages. Her commentaries about sex are not friendly. I have learned to treat anything that does not smile and is not horny with extreme caution. I make a rare exception for Esoteric Astrology. And that's Saturn for you. On the individual level, for us chickens, Saturn in Gemini is likely to come as a great relief, a chance to get focused and sort the bullshit from reality. We need this. We need to make commitments and stop expecting them to make themselves for us, or worse, to make us. We are going to see a change of inner and outer scenery that will really help us come to some clarity and feel better about our lives. And yet as we move through these processes, in fact, we need to proceed with caution. I often see people "proceeding with caution" in the sense of shutting down and withdrawing, or lying about themselves, which is a form of hiding. I am talking about another kind of caution -- taking risks cautiously, making one's decisions consciously, and enjoying life while it's here to enjoy.

_____Cousins, I am figuring this out.

Good to be with you,

Eric Francis
On Puget Sound

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PS, I am interested in hearing from people who have dared to read or study Esoteric Astrology by Alice Bailey.

PPS, I have to say this. Today was a really good day. It just was one of those days with a special feeling to it, if you know what I mean; there was this tape playing I'd never heard that somebody who came over left in the tape deck on auto-reverse, and all through what seemed like an endless afternoon it filled the house with a whole new mood and feeling-tone, like time was floating backwards or something, and I could remember the future, and it's okay. Does that ever happen to you? I get this more and more as the days go by, you see. Some great ordinary things happened today, a few lights appeared in the distance, I started a yoga class finally, I barely rushed anywhere once, and then, a little while ago, my old friend Jane called. Jane! I mean, you had to be there for it. Jane knows. Jane remembers. She's got the whole deal down, and she's survived hell and she's kept her heart wide open, and she knows it's not easy here and she remembers when it was really really not so easy for me; we have taken our turns dragging one another out of the mud. It was so good to talk to her. It had been a while. Jane, you rock. I love you.