Planet Waves | For the Faithful, of Retrogrades and Eclipses by Eric Francis


Of Retrogrades and Eclipses
(with a nuclear commentary)

For the Faithful | by Eric Francis

June 15-16, 2001

Dear and glorious readers,

.......We have arrived in another one of those extended moments when anyone who has heard of astrology is liable to wonder just what it is that's going on up there. We are not quite on a soul-wrenching trip like occurred in August 1999, or May 2000, when the whole galaxy seemed to rumble. But we are in some interesting currents and cross currents, and an eclipse is on its way.

.......The astrological backdrop is a huge grand opposition across Gemini and Sagittarius. Everything on the Sagittarius side is retrograde: Pallas Athene, Pluto, Mars and Chiron. On the Gemini side, we have a lot of planets opposing the retrograde planets, including Mercury (itself retrograde till June 28th), the Sun, Jupiter, the potent asteroid Juno (the wife of Jupiter) and mighty Saturn.

.......However, in Capricorn, we also have retrograde Ceres (the largest asteroid, comparable in size to Pluto) and the South Node (which is usually retrograde), and in Aquarius, Neptune and Uranus. This covers the major points now retrograde. Two other Centaurs (Chiron-like planets) are also retrograde -- Nessus and Pholus. Depending on your chart, this will all bump, scratch, ride or caress you one way or the other.

.......Most people are a bit too boring to appreciate the energy of retrograde planets. It takes creativity and flexibility. It takes a sense of humor. And it takes two other factors: one, appreciating introspective moments, since retrogrades call us within, and the other, being a forgiving person, since retrogrades open up and expose the past, its people and its subject matter. One needs patience with people and with things; life does not always work out as planned, but life is indeed what happens while you're making other plans.

.......Mars retrograde is a fairly unusual thing; while the outer planets can be retrograde 40% or more of the time, Mars is retrograde just 10% of the time, for a couple of months every two years. We are not accustomed to its currents, feelings and conditions. Ye Olde Astrologers told us that Mars Hates To Be Retrograde, but this is condition a rare opportunity to size up the various questions and subject matter of desire and passion, in reverse, from the inside. The recent Venus retrograde (this past spring) in Aries suggested that we look more closely and compassionately at our loving relationships with ourselves. Mars retrograde speaks of the same theme, only suggesting that we turn some of the desire we usually run on the outer world in our own direction -- Mars is an active fiery energy in a fiery sign; how do we REALLY feel, what do we really think, and how do we act in light of this?

.......And in Sagittarius, you could surely say that we are getting a chance to question our own dogma: religious, political, cultural and sexual. It's a time to slow down and red-evaluate, and to do more riding with the tide than pushing the river. It's not always possible to follow these planetary guidelines when we're in the midst of life, but it is sometimes possible to take in a little bit of planetary wisdom, to consider our options.

In the news...

.......In the outer world, this has been an interesting Mars retrograde, preceded by a Mars-Pluto conjunction (at the Spring Equinox) and mixed up with three (still unfolding) Mars-Chiron conjunctions, and all hanging around the galactic center (which is located at 27 degrees of Sagittarius). What we are seeing in the world is, for example, the execution of Tim McVeigh, and most of the opposition being overseas in Europe (an interesting Mars retrograde in Sagittarius picture, because Sagittarius is the centerpoint of international subject matter in astrology) plus some very interesting news that emerged recently about Mumia Abu Jamal, another international figure condemned to death. These men are both warriors in their own right, for good or for ill; Sagittarius is the home of the whole question of justice, or what some would call higher justice. (My old piece on the history of the Mumia case is at this link; the link above is a new and excellent story on developments in the case at

.......As these planets turn to direct motion (Mercury on June 28th, Mars on July 19th, Chiron on August 26th) there will be successive releases of energy, particularly as we build toward another extraordinarily rare event, the Saturn-Pluto opposition. Hold onto your hats the first two weeks of August. Saturn and Pluto are aligned at the Nuclear Axis, the degrees of the horoscope where all kinds of neat-o stuff happens in the world of atomic energy and nuclear weaponry when those degrees are activated by planetary activity. Most of it is not good (see the link). A Saturn-Pluto opposition counts for "activated." What has happened recently, though (so far, anyway) is that instead of there being another nuclear disaster -- which would be bad in the short term but good for the long-term, because nuclear energy desperately needs some bad press with Dubya pushing it as he is -- Germany went and banned nuclear power.

.......Go figure. It is not exactly a rapid phase-out that Germany has approved (ending with the closure of the last nuclear plant in 2018, I think) -- but in this world that's pretty good. And it is an interesting manifestation of the nuclear chart, which we may come to see as the chart that times the events that lead to the demise of the nuclear industry. I am not saying that the Atomic Gizmo Drivers are not going to experience a moment of human frailty and fuck up some time during this astrology, that is, during July or August... and if you are one of those Homer Simpson-types who sits at the console of a nuke, please, be careful. No beers on the job! Don't smoke a doobie before coming to work! It's nice that Germany banned your industry, but lots of horrid things have happened when planets have aligned with the original Nuclear Chart (again, see the Nuclear Axis link, above) so let's hold all those little technological wonders in the light and hope for the best. And let's do it for a while: the nuclear axis is hot all through the spring of 2002, with Saturn and Pluto hovering around mid-Sagittarius.

As for eclipses...

.......Now, in the midst of all of this we have a total solar eclipse coming just four hours after the Summer Solstice. This will occur on Thursday, June 21, 2001. This occurs at 12:58 p.m. BST, or at 7:57 a.m. EDT. For those of you whom this idea of a combined solstice and eclipse makes nervous, let me toss in that it's a lot better than happening four hours before the solstice, because the Sun and Moon at the end of a sign are not always so happy; events are far less predictable; but at the beginning of a sign they are a lot more stable. In Cancer, this event seems truly amazing, and I'm neither taking nor making nor bargaining with any of the ill omens normally associated with eclipses. We just need to take the trip.

.......For some people who are under pressure, there may be a sense of impending doom, or nervous energy that does not know what to do with itself. This is typical of eclipses and we need to follow them over a period of years and get used to it. Then we can ride the energy rather than get ridden by it. If you can, if you have the option, wait it out; postpone important decisions or new commitments; this is all very good astrology to wait out, unless you feel you can profit or gain an advantage by putting other people under pressure at a time when they are likely to crack.

.......Astrologically, that is, in the world of people and feelings, I have seen that eclipses have some predictable effects in general, but that the exact effects are not so predictable. In the Planet Waves horoscope, two months prior to any solar eclipse I cover what I see as potential effects, so check the current horoscope for more information. But the phenomena of eclipses are fairly complicated and they don't work the same for everyone. Some people are really sensitive to the energy and others are not; some are sensitive to specific eclipses and other people are not; it depends on what house, angle or planet the eclipse conjoins or opposes in your natal chart.

.......My keywords for eclipses in general are:

<> Acceleration of time or the sense of time. Things seem to speed up.

<> Acceleration of events. Events themselves come closer than normal.

<> A sense of compression, as if a day is a week or a week is a month.

<> A sense of impending decision. We seem forced to make up our minds about things. usually it can wait, in reality.

<> Quantum leap, mental or spiritual.

<> Struggle or difficulty, if we are resisting the changes represented by the eclipse.

<> Sense of events being "fated."

<> "Inevitable" change around the subject matter of the house and sign involved in the eclipse as it intersects with any natal chart in question. For this you have to know your chart a little. Ask an astrologer.

.......The feeling of an eclipse is like being in a time tunnel where the temporal wind picks up to a brisk speed and does not let up for a while. We are then delivered someplace else. The Sun, Moon and Earth are in a perfect line with the evolutionary gateways of the Lunar Nodes, and this alignment with the Nodes is what causes the effect. I have found it interesting that it's difficult to see what's on the other side of an eclipse before it happens. This may be because an eclipse is a powerful time of choice and decision; we can't see what's there because the option is open.

.......My basic guidelines for eclipses, learned from experience, are:

<> Avoid travel on the day of an eclipse, if possible. If you do need to travel, leave plenty of time so you don't need to rush. Take it easy -- people are likely to be a little edgy.

<> Be with people you want to be with during the eclipse and if possible the days surrounding it.

<> Do what you want to be doing during an eclipse, that is to say, for the day and those surrounding it, do what you really love.

<> Please, please, don't mess with mind-altering drugs. Eclipses are extremely powerful and you need to be in the full competence of your mind.

<> Take advantage of them. An eclipse is a kind of mystical vortex; you can take an interesting and one-of-a-kind ride from one place to another. So -- make those important decisions; seek guidance; do ritual; manifest what you want and need; seek healing; pay attention.

.......The June 21 event is an eclipse in the sign Cancer, and it may represent changes in the way we think of home and family, and our mothers. We will need to be IN OUR BODIES for this experience, so I recommend grounded activities, such as being with the Earth, in a forest, or working with the earthly elements. Take the time to do this. Take off Friday, June 21 and just mellow out. That is the best astrological advice anybody can give you, if you had any desire for advice. Of note, the corresponding lunar eclipse to this solar eclipse (they tend to come in pairs) is the Capricorn Full Moon July 5th at 11:04 a.m. EST.

.......Meantime... I will be on a breather through the second two weeks of June, taking some time to explore my new home town. If you'd like to do any astrological work, July is the time; you may email, or call me at (845) 339-3339.

Happy eclipsing,

Eric Francis

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