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Kingston, NY, Friday, Jan. 2, 2008

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Dear Friend and Reader:

It's Thursday evening after another long day of writing Next World Stories horoscopes. I am officially ready to do something besides astrology for the rest of the evening. Today I had planned to wrap up all of the Earth signs, but I got as far as a solid draft on Taurus -- the last of the 12. Doing the annual, I use a method I learned from Alice Bailey's Esoteric Astrology: work the signs backwards, from Aries to Taurus via Pisces. So in my personal tradition each year, Taurus is a kind of endpoint of the project. I've left off just before the relationship section, having covered the Venus retrograde in Aries that takes place early in the year: a truly interesting event for Taurus.

Planet Waves
Eric Francis in Book of Blue studio.
What I like about the annual gig is that I get to explore the astrology deeply, and in close personal detail. In my private consults, I do a lot of astrological research but in the conversation, I focus on the client, using astrology like a homeopath uses the remedies: just enough of just the right substance.

With this project, I get to go a little thicker on the star-medicine, analyzing transits and searching the charts for new information, new concepts about how the signs work and exploring the movements of the outer planets (and some new discoveries) under a microscope. The sign change of Pluto from Sagittarius to Capricorn is providing an incredible amount of material to work with.

Then there is the alignment in the next sign over: Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune in Aquarius. This is about a conversion process. It's about burning up the past and making energy for the future. For every sign this process manifests differently.

In addition to co-editing the edition of Planet Waves that follows, I worked out the basics of the Obama Inauguration chart today as well. It's one of those delicate, strange moments on the brink of the unknown and the unexpected, just like the times we are in. Many other articles are coming in steadily. Philip Sedgwick of Galactic Times signed on for a piece today, as did another Chiron pioneer, Dale O'Brien; and the maestro of political astrology, Nancy Sommers of Starlight News. We have numerology from Christine DeLorey and a minor planet section that I'm co-writing with Genevieve Salerno. And we remain the only astrology website west of Alpha Centauri with a civil rights correspondent. Steve Bergstein, author of our Psychsound blog, has done articles on both the Supreme Court and the federal appellate courts, which will fulfill your civics requirement as a member of the Planet Waves coven.

Oh yes -- and there's both a Pluto in Sagittarius timeline which will take you down memory lane since the early 1990s, and a Pluto in Capricorn timeline from before you were born that surveys the cradle of the Declaration of Independence in the 18th century. Both were written by collections of Very Smart People.

As promised, I have raised the price for one sign of Next World Stories to $19.95, still a bargain, including all the extras. Three signs are still just $30. And you can still get all 12 signs for $25 if you extend your subscription to Astrology News by three months (or more, if you do it by phone). Thanks to everyone who has signed up so far. Note, there are other discount categories if you call Chelsea at the number above. Our company is currently running at a profit -- a great feeling for an American boy, and I plan to keep it that way. Tomorrow it's back to the Earth signs, and tonight for a little vacation, my ongoing study of self and gender in Book of Blue.

Yours, and very truly,
Eric Francis

Moving, Turning in Time
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

THIS New Year's Eve, for a change, I had a date. We are, in Pea Patch vernacular, 'running together'; I'm still amused by the notion, since nothing has inspired me to break into more than a brisk trot in 20 years, and barring some unforeseen emergency, I have no such intention. Still, in the Patch, if you ride in the front seat of somebody's truck more than a couple of times, you're running with them.

I was married once, for about 20 years, and I remember having a standard line about the benefits of marriage, when asked: you don't have to worry about getting a date for New Year's Eve. For reasons that still elude me, it's the one time when being dateless prickles. Maybe it's conditioning. Ringing out the old seems to require a kind of mob consciousness.

When I was a little kid, my parents would throw New Years parties. Those were the days when women never wore pants; their skirts were either skin tight with a kick-pleat, or full enough to park a bus under. Men wore buttoned-down shirts, smelled like Old Spice, and ignored children as best they could; the ladies were usually cheek-pinchers. Couples arrived at the house with covered dishes, the gals shifting to the kitchen and the gents gathering in what was most often called the rumpus room. Now they call it a family room. I never figured out what a rumpus was, but I saw early hints of it at those year-end parties.

Planet of Another Star First Seen with Human Eyes

Since 1992, we've known that planets exist outside our solar system (exoplanets), but until now we've never captured direct evidence of these planets. That changed Nov. 13 when American and Canadian astronomers gave us the first direct optical images of planets outside our solar system, orbiting a star called Fomalhaut b. And in one of those odd simultaneous double discoveries, other scientists may have images of exoplanetary family orbiting star HR8799.

Planet Waves
For the first time ever in the history of history, a visible-light image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a planet orbiting another star. The red ring of dust and debris surrounds the star Fomalhaut; the planet is toward the edge of the ring. Click the picture for larger image.
Marc Kuchner, a NASA scientist with the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, sees these discoveries as the start of new era, "A time when we can look at other planetary systems and see extrasolar versions of our own solar system, like looking in the mirror." Kuchner thinks "we are seeing new worlds across another kind of ocean, the space between our solar system and other planetary systems."

What does this discovery mean to astrology? It turns out that Formalhaut is not just any old star. Long considered one of the four Royal fixed stars, ancient Babylonians and Greeks alike honored it as a celestial symbol of transition between life and the afterlife, and medieval scholars called it the star of Archangel Gabriel, the messenger of God.

The name is Arabic for "mouth of the southern fish/whale." As the 18th brightest star in the night sky, it lights up the "mouth" of the southern constellation Piscus Austrinus at 3+ degrees Pisces and was easily seen by the earliest star-gazers.

We can also learn something from current position of this star. Each degree of the zodiac gets an image, called the Sabian symbol. The symbol for 3+ Pisces is about an isthmus connecting two bodies of land, an image of contact between two distinct geographic locations.

If we are meeting ourselves, these discoveries at the end of Pluto-Saggitarius era may point us to a larger theme of expansion and spiritual reorientation for all humanity, and for astrologers in particular. Plus, we now know for sure that there are indeed other planets around other Suns, which is evidence that there may be life 'out there'.

Previously, we had only theory and indirect evidence to support the idea of exoplanets; now, like Mary confronted with a visitation from the Archangel Gabriel, we finally see the evidence of something we once took on faith. Pluto's turn through Capricorn will ask us to reorient our understanding of the physical structures of our universe. Astrology is always slow to pick up on these discoveries, though this would appear to be an open door we can go through.

Alongside the Hubble discovery, Canadian Christian Marois and the Herztberg Institute of Astrophysics (using the Gemini and Keck telescopes in Hawaii) announced the first direct image of multiple objects orbiting a star. Three objects orbit HR8799, a young star 140 light years away and about 1.5 times the size of our Sun. However, anything 13 times the size of Jupiter may itself be a type of star called a brown dwarf.

If they exceeded 13 Jupiter masses, they would be capable of deuterium fusion in their interiors and thus qualify as brown dwarfs under the definition of these terms used by the the international committee that tracks new discoveries. If classified as true planets, the Marois team can claim to have imaged the first exoplanetary family.

A short video from the European Space Agency explains more about the Fomalhaut discovery process.

Talking Down Under: Capricorn Tremors at Yellowstone

A spike of intense earthquake "swarms" rippled though the Yellowstone Caldera on Dec. 27, during a Capricorn New Moon and Mars-Pluto conjunction. The site, located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, is a former supervolcano, a 34 by 45 mile wide area in Yellowstone National Park that averages more than 1,000 tremors each year. But there is no such thing as a former volcano. Anything that was one could go off again, and geologists believe that this one could take a big chunk or the United States with it if it does.

Planet Waves
Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley.
University of Utah seismographers noted an increase in tremors on Dec. 26, leading to a peak quake event of 3.9 magnitude on Dec. 27 at 10:15 PM, MST. Over 250 events were measured within a 24-hour period, the most active day on record for some years. However, researchers in Utah cannot find "any causative fault or other feature without further analysis."

They might want to look to astrology. Mars, Pluto and Capricorn on the Aries Point could hardly be better astrology for quakes or volcanoes. And we have plenty more of that kind of astrology coming. Let's hope we work it out psychologically rather than geologically.

The Yellowstone Park Caldera, a bowl-like depression left from an ancient supervolcano eruption about 2.1 million years ago, is still geologically active. Scientists don't predict volcanic activity in the near future, but a recent study published in Journal of Geophysical Research--Solid Earth found that between 2004 and 2006, the central floor of the caldera rose by almost seven inches before deflating again, signifying a shift in expanding magma in the dormant volcano below.

Columbia Report: From the

This week NASA released its final report of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, nearly six years after the shuttle disintegrated over Texas while reentering the Earth's atmosphere killing all seven astronauts aboard. [This link into the CNN article on the report contains the PDFs of the full document.]

Planet Waves
Last discernible image recovered from flight deck video of the ill-fated shuttle Columbia, Feb. 1, 2003.
Damaged on liftoff by insulating foam that fell from the fuel tank, Columbia burned up and broke apart hours after a New Moon in Aquarius, the sign most associated with technology. [View chart.] The Neptune conjunction served as a wake-up call to give up our romantic ideas about technology, in a way similar to the Challenger disaster of Jan. 28, 1986, which was witnessed by millions of school children watching on television because of the "Teacher in Space" program.

Notably, NASA's worst accidents tend to occur during the same calendar week, in late January or early February.

The Columbia disaster occurred during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, and at the time it did not seem like a particularly good omen for the war. This was accented by debris falling close to (on a global scale) the president's personal ranch in Texas. Two weeks later, timed precisely with the Full Moon, millions of people gathered in hundreds of cities around the world protesting the invasion.

[I have a theory as to why a rescue was not attempted, when the rocket scientists on the ground had every reason to know the orbiter was damaged: the nation was involved in the "march to war," a war that would happen just weeks later. Had the world's attention been riveted on a weeks-long rescue of seven astronauts in space, it would have taken all the mojo out of the Cheney administration's vicious, lustful urge to bomb Iraq. Part of my astrological confirmation of this is that the New Moon was conjunct Neptune, and when there is big news and a big Neptune, you can guess accurately that a big lie is involved. --efc]

Planet Waves
Columbia lifting off on its final mission. The light-colored triangle visible at the base of the strut near the nose of the orbiter is the Left Bipod Foam Ramp.
The final report, in perfect doublespeak (since everyone died), is titled the Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report. The report basically concludes that while the astronauts would have died anyway from loss of cabin pressure, they also suffered from lethal trauma, and their extremely expensive spacesuits, fashioned from half a century of experience, did little to protect them. Here is a short excerpt from the report.

"Human space flight is still in its infancy; spacecraft navigate narrow tracks of carefully computed ascent and entry trajectories with little allowable deviation. Until recently, it remained the province of a few governments. As private industry and more countries join in this great enterprise, we must share findings that may help protect those who venture into space. In the history of NASA, this approach has resulted in many improvements in crew survival. After the Apollo 1 fire, sweeping changes were made to spacecraft design and to the way crew rescue equipment was positioned and available at the launch pad. After the Challenger accident, a jettisonable hatch, personal oxygen systems, parachutes, rafts, and pressure suits were added to ascent and entry operations of the space shuttle.

"As we move toward a time when human space flight will be commonplace, there is an obligation to make this inherently risky endeavor as safe as feasible. Design features, equipment, training, and procedures all play a role in improving crew safety and survival in contingencies...

"The Columbia accident was not survivable. After the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) investigation regarding the cause of the accident was completed, further consideration produced the question of whether there were lessons to be learned about how to improve crew survival in the future."

Next World Stories, the 2009 annual from Planet Waves, is coming on Jan. 3, 2009. Click here to learn more.

Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, January 2, 2009, #747 - By GENEVIEVE SALERNO

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Recent developments in your professional life have moved quickly and a few times have given the impression of going out of control. It's almost as though one moment you felt like you were the center of attention and in the next you experienced a feeling of alienation brought on by a new perception of the events at hand. At the heart of this matter is a need for validation from your community -- a fear that if no one is thinking of you, you do not exist. Yet, you have managed to stay on top of your developments as they build. You have access to a lot of cooperation at this time: people are out there to help you, but you've got to ask. Inviting others into your big scheme will not only get the job done faster, but it will provide you with a sense of community that may well be needed right now.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Your ambitions are rarely kept secret. This is one of the reasons why people may compare you to the rock of ages. You know what you want and you go for it. Your ideals for what you desire are beginning to beg for a little reform. Perhaps you have come to a situation in which a deep change is demanded of you and you are hesitant to do it. You have a big vision which you are now putting your mind to. It's an odd combination of old and new that will give your vision the strength to endure -- but you must be ready to let it take on a life of its own.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Mollusks are incredibly sensitive to changes in water current. When everything is calm, they expose their soft bodies to catch a bit of food, but the moment something changes, they snap shut and become all shell. The mind can imitate the clam very well when it comes to new ideas that hit close to home: the slightest deviation can render the brain impermeable. A hasty retreat can shortchange an interaction. The fact is, I see a situation in which someone had their mind already made up before the event started and it cast its pallor over the whole experience. This week looks like a good time to exercise the higher mind. Even if you don't change your mind about your own ideals in the end, you'll benefit from the workout no matter what.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Imagine there is a place you can go where you can eat a full course meal in total darkness. You order it without reading a menu; the waiters might be naked for all you know. You could even eat naked and no one would see you because it is so dark. Now imagine that you heard from some source that this same restaurant had some problems with the health board. Would you go to it? Why or why not? Clear motives and intentions, as well as reliable sources are important in any situation that has to do with the exchange of energy or resources. Mutual transformation is a shady category for our society and it is very hard to get straight answers from any one direction. Know as much as you can about a situation before you go forward. If you have to go to a "restaurant" that sketches you out, order toast.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
I've heard it said that if you want to keep one bird as a pet, it helps to give the critter a mirror to stave off its lonliness. The bird does not recognize its own reflection, but sees another bird. It's interesting to see all the different reactions: fear, anger, love, curiosity. It is a powerful image: what you see that attracts you or repels you in other people has as much to do with yourself as it does them, perhaps more. A situation may arise where the singularity of self dissolves in contact with many other people. When this happens it's possible to recognize humanity as a whole instead of a collection of fragmented personalities. It's a kind of peace and a wide open doorway for compassion to take place. There are no strangers in the world: just portions of yourself that you have not met yet.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
There is plenty of help available to you in the realm of your work environment. The problem is whether or not you can trust the job to others. It's up for debate how much of this is due to your ideas about what is best clashing with their ideas of how it should be done. Even though many hands make light work, often times too many hands end up dispensing more nervous jitters if the end of the project is more important than the journey. Put another way, is it more valuable to get things done perfectly, or is the lesson more enduring if it is about working in harmony with others?

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
A surge of creative energy is a welcome way to visualize the way you want things to be. This week is a good one for relaxing and letting the juice flow, for you may find yourself with a vision so profound that the temptation to drop everything and get to making it real will be very strong. Please daydream responsibly! As the native of balance, this can be a chance to practice taking your visions and using your resources in such a manner that you achieve what you want without over-reaching your means. Try to look at the things that limit you as possibilities for real invention.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
The desire for peace is one way to deal with the shadow material inherent in the past. What is blocking your sense of safety and the feeling of belonging that you desire? Your suspicions are correct that something bigger than you had previously thought is going on. Whatever fears you experience can be looked at like stuck ideas that prefer to stay put and not grow. One way to battle this feeling is to become as aware of your surroundings as possible: seek out the old stories, talk to people who have known you for a long time -- they have endured for a reason and they may provide you with the clues you need to refine your sense of harmony with your environment.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
You have some important insights into how things work, some profound ways to express your role in the Universe, but it seems as though you are not reaching out as far as you should. Perhaps there is a fear that no one will understand or even believe you. There is always a chance that they won't, no matter how thorough your investigations and how clear your presentations. Here is my advice: when you attempt to communicate with those around you, it is not their validation of your ideas that gives you presence, it is your own acceptance of the truths you have discovered. Put another way, it is not so much about them as it is about you reaching out. Their reaction to you is secondary.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Just like the beginning of a long trip requires a look at the gas tank, so your position right now seems to be steering you at taking a look at your personal inventory. You may find yourself in a situation where you are realizing how much you have and will gain depends upon sources that come from many directions. They are shifting and changing. This can create a situation where you feel your own self threatened with the same flux that your resources are experiencing now. It is one way to learn what you are truly made of. It is another way to get inspired to create for yourself as many methods to reach your goal as possible.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
When a person decides to model for a drawing class, it is always interesting to see what the drawings depict. Usually, the pictures look nothing like the model, nor do they resemble the model's perception of herself. The exchange that takes place is an education in how others see the model and how the model's perception changes. It looks as if you are finding yourself in a position not unlike the model's -- you are learning how others perceive you and whether it be true or false, it is educating you about yourself. An open heart and a forgiving mind for yourself and those who you make contact with is always a good idea in situations like this. Remember, whatever a person thinks of you is insight into their nature -- not yours.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Have you ever been cooking away in your kitchen when you realized there was some ingredient you needed in the basement, and instead of going down those creepy stairs, you skipped adding that ingredient to the stew? How did it come out? There are all kinds of good reasons not to go into a basement: poor lighting, loose steps, bad smell, maybe even rats or unwanted tenants. But what if the kitchen was your consciousness, the soup was the life you are trying to create for yourself and the basement was your subconscious? Wouldn't it be strange if you hadn't changed the lightbulb of your subconscious for so long you got used to it always being dark in there? Awareness is the lightbulb.

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