Planet Waves

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Journey Through Space
Dear Friend and Reader:

Lots of astrology happens in March 2014, and that happens to be the month that includes my 50th birthday. It's also my 20th anniversary as an astrologer. It was on my 30th birthday in 1994 that I walked into Esoterica Books in New Paltz and purchased my first astrological ephemeris, the book that tells you where to find the planets on any given day, making astrology possible.

Planet Waves
My mother Camille pregnant with me in March 1964, about a week before my birth. On the far left is my godfather and great grandfather Mario Cacciatore, then my father Joe Coppolino, and to the right, my aunt Joan Mazza. Not sure who took this photo, but it's in my grandparents' house in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; probably my grandfather Jimmy (Vincent M.) Cacciatore.
In this edition of Planet Waves I want to tell you what led up to that moment and share some of what I've learned in those 20 years, but first an announcement.

At 7 pm on Saturday, March 8, I will be hosting an event called Journey Through Space, co-sponsored by Chronogram, at BSP in Uptown Kingston (323 Wall Street near North Front Street). This is my birthday event as well as my anniversary as an astrologer. We'll have music by Blue O'Connell, my astrology teacher (and improv pianist) David Arner and the electronica ensemble Home Body.

I am planning this as an initiation ceremony in the fashion of a concert at my favorite music venue.

I'll be playing my first gig as a guitarist, in a duet with David and then later in the evening with my music teacher Daniel Sternstein and the BSP house band (Dan Votke on bass and Mark Ferraro on drums). By some odd coincidence, all of my astrology teachers are not just musicians but composers as well, so I thought a musical event would bring that full circle, or more accurately, full ellipse. (The similarities between music and astrology are a fun discussion; you may be hearing more about that soon, especially on the Music Appreciation Hour program.)

I can barely believe I'm turning 50 (everyone must say that) but it feels even more unusual to look back on two decades as an astrologer. I do mean 20 solid years, plus an approximately seven year warm-up. Barely a day has gone by when I have not done some serious research, chart casting, reading or writing on some astrological topic. If I have missed any days at all, there have not been many. I have a restless, curious, relentless mind. Astrology is always interesting, always new, always offering something useful and alive.

Planet Waves
One day old, looking skeptical about being on the planet.
Early in my career as an astrologer, I became aware of Chiron, a planet discovered by astronomer Charles Kowal in 1977. It was the discovery of Chiron that helped guide astrology from its murky occultist days into the modern era as a healing art. Though many astrologers don't use Chiron, all astrologers have felt its influence.

Chiron has a 50-year orbit, so when one turns 50, that is their Chiron return. When I was new to this work and its many challenges, both intellectual and human, I always kept a collection of people over 50 around me, that is, a number of Chiron return graduates.

I considered 50 to be one's coming of age as a community elder, and over the years I have initiated many people into that status at the time of their Chiron return. Now by my own definition, I am about to become a community elder.

Mentorship is a primary theme of Chiron, as is conscious healing process, growing into self-awareness and the integration of diverse talents and gifts. When you think of Chiron, think "holistic" and "whole-system thinking." Chiron is the point of integration; the junction where microcosm meets macrocosm, especially when it's in Pisces.

I've taken two main approaches to astrology -- the healing and personal growth angle, and an integration of astrology with writing about world events.

The spiritual and psychological dimension you're familiar with in my horoscopes, and in my essays about relationships, therapy and ethical issues. Sometimes this involves the direct use of astrology; the rest of the time the discussion is informed by astrology, which is always working in the background.

Planet Waves
My desk in New Paltz, New York, during the PCB and dioxin investigation era, before taking up work as an astrologer. The cards from Monte Farber's Karma Cards are the Sun in Cancer in the 11th house, a perfect reading of my journalism career. The guy peeking out is Peter Shipley, my old friend and fellow rabble-rouser.
I believe I've made a contribution to my field in this area of the work, especially in developing the use of newly discovered planets that tell the story of the human condition we face today.

However, I've gone a lot further with something else -- the integration of the personal dimension with world events, and describing the spiritual implications of what we call the news. This has a long history.

When I got my first journalism job in January 1987, I was hired by a newspaper in central New Jersey called the Echoes-Sentinel. The editor, Florence Higgins, was an astrologer. I mentioned her last month -- the lady who could shock the staff of all seven newspapers in the chain with rumors of Mercury retrograde.

The day I was hired, I was given the one available desk in the office, which had an astrology calendar hanging over it. This began for me what would become a permanent association between newspapers, news reporting and astrology.

The three writers at the paper would cover town boards, planning and zoning boards, land use and development. As we did that, all day long, we would be given updates by Flo about the condition of the planets. I would study the astrology calendar, trying to make some sense out of it. None of this got into print, but nobody left the Echoes-Sentinel without learning the basics of astrology.

Planet Waves
Self-portrait n Flagstaff, Arizona, spring 2007.
I was also studying A Course in Miracles during this time, which is advanced training in spiritual psychology and healing. Flo read my chart, sold me my first tarot deck and my first set of runes, and basically got me started on the path I am on now. Nearly all of this took place in a newspaper office.

For the next seven years, I learned journalism working as a reporter and editor. I covered American Medical Association conventions, federal agencies like ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), liquor and beer marketing, education law, the nurse shortage and many facets of business reporting. My second boss at a pro journalism job, Joel Whitaker, had been on the editorial staff of The Wall Street Journal. From him I learned how to write a solid business story; one breakthrough moment was covering the acquisition of Tropicana by Seagrams.

In 1989 I came to New Paltz to do news reporting and poetry, and started a news service that covered the SUNY and CUNY systems and the goings-on in Albany that affected public higher education. All that time I continued with my spiritual and mystical studies, doing my best to reconcile these two seemingly different realities as I documented the contamination of the entire planet.

Then in late 1991, the PCB accident at SUNY New Paltz happened, and for the next three years I covered the cleanup and the cover-up, and expanded my investigation into Monsanto, Westinghouse and GE, the companies that created the mess. The Las Vegas Sun, the Village Voice, Sierra magazine, The Ecologist and many other magazines carried my articles. I developed a specialty in chlorine-based compounds and the history of PCBs and dioxins, and built a considerable portfolio covering scientific fraud.

Planet Waves
Astrologer in the house of politics: in the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, 2006, with presidential-level press credentials. In Europe, Planet Waves is recognized as an official press agency. Photo by the personal photographer traveling with the Aga Khan IV, a descendent of Mohammed treated as a head of state.
To sum up that message, at the time that I started studying astrology, I did not revere science as a god, nor as a valid religion. It's not that I inherently distrusted any scientist; all I needed was a good answer to the question, "Where's your data?" That question is the single most important tool anyone needs when confronted by a scientist with an opinion about something, especially if that something kinda sounds deadly.

At some point in this era, someone suggested that I check out the horoscope in The New York Post. I wish I knew who that was, so I can thank her. I am sure she lived in the Hudson Valley and may be reading.

So I started picking up the Post and reading the horoscope -- and I was amazed, day after day, without exception. The writer, Patric Walker, clearly had unusual gifts for both astrology and for writing. His daily entries were maybe 50 words per sign, but he could convey with detail the nuances of my inner thoughts, my environment, and advised me how to handle them.

Patric demonstrated to me that astrology was real. After about two years I could not stand it anymore. I had to know how he created these readings. By any rational logic, what he was doing was impossible. There was no way he could be able to say the things he was saying with such impeccable relevance and wisdom, in a horoscope column. Yet he was actually doing it.

Planet Waves
With Paloma Todd, Paris, 2007. Photo by Dani Voirin.
On my birthday in 1994, I had my deposition taken by the state Attorney General's trial division. I was in the process of suing SUNY New Paltz in federal court.

I am not sure what they were thinking when they declared me persona non grata for my reporting on their PCB and dioxin problem -- maybe that I would suddenly abandon my search for truth and justice for the students who were defrauded into living in those dorms.

What they got was a federal summons and complaint, and a year of litigation that ended with an apology that my civil rights had been violated, and a significant cash payout to me -- something that the state does not do. The lawsuit received national press coverage in The New York Times.

Still wearing my suit from the deposition, I walked into the bookstore with my then-girlfriend and collaborator Hilary Lanner-Smith, and bought the Rosicrucian Ephemeris of the 20th Century, purchased The New York Post and that evening started studying astrology. Yes, in the ancient astrology text known as The New York Post.

After my 20-year world tour covering astrology and teaching at conferences, teaching engagements at places like Omega Institute and mentorship with many noted astrologers, studying Patric Walker remains the single most valuable learning experience I've had as an astrology student. And I got that information from a tabloid newspaper, for twenty-five cents a day.

Planet Waves
New Paltz, New York, 2007, back to working on the PCB story with a few horoscopes mixed in. Photo by Dani Voirin.
One year later I began writing the Planet Waves horoscope. When I took up astrology, still deeply immersed in my environmental reporting, I did so consciously bringing in a world-wise ethos. I was accustomed to documenting the veracity of my words with thick binders full of research. I put that same depth of inquiry into astrology, digging into its history, tradition and modern practice.

I used my journalistic skill of seeking out knowledgeable people and put that to work, making contact with those who I considered to be the brightest astrologers in the world.

As for my writing, astrology gave me the chance to be personal; to relate to people about human concerns in a very basic way. I learned the most important thing of all from Patric Walker: speak to one reader, not to a group of them. To write a meaningful horoscope, use the same tone as a letter to a trusted friend. It was exactly this kind of personal contact I was looking for when I changed tracks from investigative reporting to astrology.

Almost immediately, I began applying astrology to world events -- that is, the charts of news events, people in the news and trends of all kinds -- particularly social trends and the cycles of history.

This has been done before, but I have often found it confusing, too technical and lacking in a compelling narrative. So, I set out to tell a relevant story that anyone could understand. I am not sure I succeeded (the first use of the word "conjunction" can scare some people away) but I have done my best.

Planet Waves
Integrating astrology into the news provides several benefits, the main one being context. Astrology allows one to see the connections between events, and to follow a contemporary event along a story-arc into the past and the future.

Using astrology, no single incident stands alone; it's connected to everything and everyone around it. Astrology reveals the web of life, and the karma that underlies situations. If you know where to look, astrology points to how we can personally take action.

I consider this a model for how to make the news relevant to people, and a new approach to community-based journalism. What we think of as the news has a really serious problem: it's alienating and usually irrelevant. I challenge you to read any newspaper article in something like The Wall Street Journal, or watch cable news for an hour, and tell he how most of what you read or see is actually meaningful.

Interconnection and context allow the inclusion of the reader into the scenario, whether it be an understanding of the emotional impact, of the cultural changes implied by a development or how an individual can adapt to the opportunities and the demands of the present moment.

Looking at the charts for spring 2014, I think that news astrology is going to have its moment. There is going to be a lot of news -- and a lot of astrology lurking underneath it. The process begins to take shape with the Mars retrograde that starts on March 1 (Mars chose the first day of its own month to station retrograde). And it comes to a peak in late April with a grand cross and a potent solar eclipse a few days later. Look for coverage of that in the April Chronogram and check in with Chronogram's 8-Day Week or for immediate updates.

And if you happen to be in the neighborhood or feel like making the trip, I look forward to meeting you at 7 pm on Saturday, March 8, at BSP in Kingston.


Section Writing and Editing Credits: News items below are written and edited by a team consisting of Hillary Conary, Anne Craig, Eric Francis, Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Painter, Susan Starr, Chad Woodward and Carol van Strum. Coordinating Editor: Elizabeth Michaud. Page assembled and coded by Anatoly Ryzhenko. Special thanks to the Fact Checkers List, which goes over each edition on Thursday night -- and to our main astrology fact-checker Alex Miller, and Amanda, who goes over all their suggestions. Our editions are also proofread and fact-checked by Jessica Keet.

Planet Waves
Pisces Sun: Encountering Neptune at the Zodiac's Headwaters

The Sun ingressed Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, on Tuesday. As a water sign, Pisces is the delta that refuses no river or stream, and is the spiritual headwaters of the psyche, from which all creative potential flows.
Neptune, the modern ruler of Pisces, is a long-term visitor in its home sign. Neptune is providing a fresh inflow of watery energy into Pisces.
Planet Waves
Sun and Neptune; Pine Point, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.
The Sun will make a conjunction to Neptune this Sunday at 1:11 pm EST, though we're definitely feeling its effect now. This pairing can feel emotionally and psychically sensitive, wide open and creative. It can also express itself in darker ways as depressive, or given to denial or overindulgence.
With strong Neptune events -- and this is one of the most influential -- it's necessary to stay alert and watch for less-than-wholesome influences.
This strong Pisces influence may heighten your sense of empathy or influence you to become more concerned with the welfare of others than with your own. The world could use more of that. If your work focuses on helping others, Sun-Neptune will strengthen this ability.
But for anyone who is already very sensitive -- especially psychically -- and who struggles with being wide open to the energy, emotion and unspoken agendas of others, Sun-Neptune might feel overwhelming. Being highly intuitive and empathic can be exhausting, especially if your inner/subconscious boundaries are not strong (Neptune tends to dissolve things like boundaries, hence the increase in psychic sensitivity).
If you're in that boat, consider taking some time for yourself this weekend to meditate or simply gather yourself away from social overstimulation. The urge to escape will be stronger for everyone -- including escaping into things like movies, daydreams, fantasy (sexual or otherwise) and artistic play. Neptune rules alcohol and drugs, too, and our culture happens to prize those forms of escape more highly than, say, meditation.
Planet Waves
From top: retrograde Mercury and Nessus in Aquarius; Sun conjunct Neptune, plus Chiron and Juno in Pisces. See glyph legend here.
There's a real potential to overdo mind-altering substances this weekend; notice whether you're trying to numb yourself. There are other ways to handle feeling sensitive or ‘too open' (such as a mini-retreat out in nature), but they're not as socially popular as getting blitzed. It can take a little gumption to break from the crowd.
Finally, pay attention to your inner honesty meter. Neptune's negative incarnations include delusion, denial and dishonesty. When the Sun, representing our consciousness, interacts with Neptune (especially via conjunction), sorting out illusions from logic gets challenging. We tend to be more impressionable and subject to both our own wishful thinking and self-delusion, and to that of others.
With Mercury still retrograde for another week, you'll want to track your thoughts carefully. Notice when you stray from verifiable facts into the realm of wishes or fears. Let daydreams fuel your next screenplay or painting, not your obsessions.
By Amanda Painter and Eric Francis

Planet Waves
Ukraine Government Backs Down from Attacks on Protesters

For several weeks there have been escalating, violent protests in Ukraine. By Thursday night, some estimates said that up to 75 people had been killed -- though the number keeps rising and is impossible to calculate accurately. Government forces cracked down on protesters who have been pressuring political leaders to shift Ukraine's allegiance from Moscow to the European Union.

Planet Waves
During mellower times, anti-government protesters hung out by a campfire in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), where most of the bloodshed has taken place. Photo by AP.
Images of Kiev in flames have been dominating U.S. news reports every night, which is unsettling for everyone -- especially the people in the pictures. I think that any time protests abroad are plastered across the U.S. media, it's a message with an intentional shock effect, and stirs up fear of civil unrest in the U.S. They also seem to be covering over what's going on down in Venezuela -- we will have coverage of that soon, unfortunately not today.

The current wave of protests goes back to November, and of course Ukraine has been in chaos many times in the past 20 years. But November 2013 stands out as the midpoint of the Uranus-Pluto square -- the revolutionary aspect of our time in history. There are countless manifestations of this aspect, though some of the more memorable include the Occupy movement, Arab spring, the protests in Madison, WI and an obvious state of unrest that is in the air these days.

November was the fourth of seven events between 2012 and 2015, and also the one exact contact of Uranus and Pluto using heliocentric astrology (that is, a chart cast with the Sun at the center rather than the Earth). So this is a kind of global tipping point. If you want some background on the Uranus-Pluto square, read my recent article about The Beatles.

The Uranus-Pluto square seems to manifest in waves, popping up in different parts of the world at different times and in different ways. Sometimes it feels like the different locales become proxies for what is a global struggle. Currently this is being fought in the streets of Kiev, Caracas and Bangkok.

But here is the thing to remember: whatever it may represent in the outer world, it's really about all of us going through some deep inner changes. Astrology starts inside human beings and extends into the world. That is why it can be associated with such profound personal changes and with global changes at the same time.

Planet Waves
Riot police officers take cover behind shields during clashes with pro-European protesters in Kiev, on Jan. 22. Photo by Maks Levin.
In Ukraine, a temporary truce between the government and the protesters fell apart Thursday during the day. Then Thursday night as Russian figure skater Adelina Sotnikova took the gold medal, the Ukrainian parliament, called the Verkhovna Rada, adopted a law that banned military action against the protesters.

Even before president Victor Yanukovych signed it Friday, police were seen backing off from their positions in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), where most of the bloodshed has taken place.

Yanukovych, who has taken the pro-Moscow side in this fight, agreed to stop using lethal violence against the protesters, and also agreed to early elections and a reduction in presidential powers. But Moscow has declined to endorse the accord, and many protesters will not back down until the fantastically corrupt Yanukovych is out of power.

Yesterday, several Planet Waves reporters dug into the issue for hours on end, trying to make some sense out of what's going on. The story kept changing every 15 minutes, and going back further and deeper into European history. In essence, Ukraine gets described as one country when it's really several smaller ones. The split is mainly along an east-west divide, with the east speaking Russian and being more loyal to Moscow, and the west speaking Ukrainian and being more loyal to the rest of Europe.

Meanwhile, complicating matters was a leaked phone call between two top U.S. diplomats that seems to indicate the United States is expressing sympathy for the protesters but then manipulating the situation behind the scenes. It's not clear who bugged the call or who released it, but in the age of the NSA, it's not shocking that it got out. The intent of leaking the call was to embarrass U.S. operators working behind the scenes.

Planet Waves
Boys, you don't have to fight like this! A woman addresses Ukrainian Interior Ministry troops who formed a battle line during the clashes. Photo by Gleb Garanich for Reuters via Al Jazeera.
American politicians such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) have visited Ukraine to show they stand with the people, but the leaked phone call indicates that diplomats are trying to plot carefully who gets into power, and to get the U.N involved. This gets extremely complicated; you can read about it here.

Now, in investigating the astrology, we went through a number of charts -- including two for Ukraine, and then a turning-point moment in its history, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. All of the charts have one common thread: they have major points aligned with the Uranus-Pluto grand cross that happens in April. There really is enough here to write a juicy book chapter, but the bottom line is that when all of the major charts for a country take a simultaneous shock, you will get a result. In fact it takes far less.

Let's take a quick look at the chart for the act of Parliament last night. We have good timing on this from our Ukraine bureau (our web developer, Anatoly, lives near Kiev). In reading a chart like this, the first thing you check is the rising sign and surrounding degrees, the planet that rules the ascendant, the 7th house (the western horizon) and the condition of the Moon.

The chart has Mars rising. You might not expect to see that in a chart about making peace, but this at least is Mars in Libra. Mars is especially influential because it's rising; it's in detriment in Libra, which is supposed to be a debility or weakening factor, but which can also make Mars stand out; and it's about to station retrograde. In sum, this is no ordinary Mars. It does not seem very aggressive. It also does not seem very stable, but it's holding steady.

Planet Waves
Chart for final vote of Ukrainian parliament Thursday night, unilaterally withdrawing military force against protesters. The measure was signed by Victor Yanukovych on Friday. Notice that Mars is rising in the east, on the left side of the chart. One shaky point in the scenario is the Sun, which rules the 10th and thus the government, about to make a conjunction to Neptune. Somebody, as in everybody high up, is not telling the truth.
As for Venus, which rules the Libra ascendant -- that we find in Capricorn, in direct motion, about to make a square to Eris. This argues that the whole thing could come unraveled. Or it might just feel that way. Eris can be a chaotic or destabilizing influence. It happens to be prominent in the charts for Chernobyl in 1986 and Ukraine's independence in 1991 -- right in line with the Uranus-Pluto square as it develops.

Now as for the Moon: this is the potentially encouraging part of the chart. We find that in early Scorpio. When checking the Moon, check the very next aspects and then the last aspect that it makes in its current sign. That story goes: Moon trine Jupiter in Cancer; Moon trine Chiron in Pisces; Moon conjunct Saturn in Scorpio -- lots of water sign energy here.

This chart looks like people are getting sick of fighting and want some mellower times. But really, to me it looks like this is all getting to be too damned expensive to persist. Saturn is in Scorpio and the 2nd house. There is no better way to say "cheap" than that. But none of this is cheap -- it's costing lives, money, time, fragile alliances are at stake, and while war is good for those associated with the war racket, it's not good for any other business.

Even if this situation begins to ratchet down, it will be on the brink of flaring back up again for the next two years at least. Meanwhile, I thought it was encouraging to see Parliament act, to see the president back down a little, to see the paramilitary police backing away from protesters and hey -- Putin feels a little better now that 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova took the gold in women's figure skating in a surprise upset for Russia.

-- Tons of additional research by Hillary Connary-Ghee, Elizabeth Michaud and Amanda Painter, with reporting by Anatoly Ryzhenko in Ukraine. 

Planet Waves
Monsanto Watch Feature Going To its Own List

For fans of Monsanto Watch (our obsessive coverage of Monsanto) and those concerned with GMOs and food safety, we will be putting this feature onto its own list, which will be distributed each Friday afternoon. Here is a link to opt-in for that list.

We will also include on this list news about nuclear power, Fukushima and other environmental concerns. Occasionally these items will appear in the member edition but we thought it would be a good idea to give them their own home. You may share this subscribe link with anyone you want.

Readers who want to take part in science and environment coverage can join our assiduous team. If you're interested, please send us an email here.

Planet Waves
Planet Waves
Detail from the right-hand panel of Hieronymus Bosch's medieval acid-trip of a painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, clearly showing musical notation on a naked, damned derriere.
Sun, Neptune, Pisces... and Butt Music

The Sun's ingress to Pisces and conjunction to Neptune is energizing our creative juices, especially in the realms of music, fantasy and eroticism. So it should not surprise you that some Butt Music from Hell is taking the Interwebs by storm.
You may be familiar with The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych painting created sometime around 1500 by the famous medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch. Held in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, this Early Netherlandish work is notable for its intricately surreal depictions of Adam and Eve in the left panel, damnation in the right panel, and a fantastical panorama of nude humans, curious creatures and hybrid objects in the center panel.
But have you ever noticed the Butt Music and wondered what it might sound like?
A blogger named Amelia, a music and information systems double major at Oklahoma Christian University, noticed one night with her friend Luke the musical notes Bosch had painted on one particular posterior in Hell, and decided to try her hand at transcribing and recording it based on what she knows of Gregorian-era chant. Inspired by Amelia, the blogger at worked out a full choral arrangement with improvised lyrics (you can hear both versions here) -- and Amelia is working with her college's music department to improve the accuracy of the transcription.
The two recordings might not seem like the perfect soundtrack for a hot night of art making or a quiet meditation retreat, but then chances are you won't be spending your weekend lying beneath a giant lute, either -- unless, of course, you get into some of the more mind-altering pursuits associated with Neptune.

Planet Waves

Sun in Pisces and 'What is a Transit?'

The Sun entered Pisces Tuesday, and I offer my comments on what that is about. Then I respond to a reader inquiry: What is a Pluto transit? In order to answer that I have to break down the differences between natal planets and transiting ones. Then I put the two together, using the chart of a reader named Claire. My musical guest is Shana Flana, a local psychedelic rocker. For additional resources and the chart, please see the full post.

Planet Waves

Have you ordered your 2014 readings by Eric Francis yet? The Mars Effect (our 16th annual edition!) has just published, and includes in-depth audio and written readings for your Sun, Moon and rising signs. We always receive a flood of positive feedback for these readings, and it shows just how meaningful they are. One customer wrote, "Every minute of Eric's reading is worth gold." We're offering you a special package price of $79 for all twelve signs, available only to current Planet Waves members. Or you may purchase individual signs for $29.95.

Why You Absolutely Want to Take a Class with Geoffrey Cornelius

When I was first studying astrology, someone recommended that I read a book called The Moment of Astrology by Geoffrey Cornelius. It's a book about horary astrology (pronounced hor-erry), the astrology you do when a client asks you a specific question.

Planet Waves
Geoffrey Cornelius.
It's usually based on the chart for the time that the astrologer becomes aware of the issue. It's a weird form of astrology because it's not based on the 'birth' of anything, or anything much happening; it's the intersection of thought with the cosmos, and then, by some miracle, the chart that's produced can often be read following a set of guidelines that are more strict than the rules of baseball, but which point to some useful information.  

Geoffrey sought to explain horary as the exception that proves the rule -- that is, as the basis of all astrology. In doing so, he wrote a book that debunked the pseudoscientists who would debunk astrology as pseudoscience. He unravels the ideas of people who would try to prove astrology's validity with science. Along the way, he did a fine job of showing the weaknesses in the scientific method. The only thing that survives his analysis is astrology itself, though he makes it clear why most astrologers don't understand what they do or why it works.

He demonstrates that astrology is a divinatory system that works at the intersection of time, space, symbols, consciousness and some spiritual force that's not quite possible to define. You get chapters like "When the Wrong Chart Works" (a study in the two birth times of Diana, Princess of Wales) and a reading of a random chart stuck in with an article attacking astrology that's not supposed to mean anything -- but it reads as legibly as a clear photograph. 

This is not just one of my favorite astrology books; it's one of my favorite books that I've ever read, as in ever, standing up to The Second Sex, Dubliners, The Grapes of Wrath and even The Lord of the Rings. When I open up this book and start reading, my response is always, holy shit, I cannot believe anyone has written something this good. 

As far as astrology is concerned, I consider Geoff Cornelius the smartest guy in the room. (He didn't quite get why I had to walk up to him and spontaneously hug him when I met him at UAC 2008, but now I think he does.) 

Planet Waves
Jonah Kelly Francis uses the Moment of Astrology as a pillow.
And I am completely thrilled that I will get to spend a few days in his class at Nightlight Astrology in New York City from March 28-30, an awesome, donation-based astrology school where I teach. The class will be held at the ARE Edgar Cayce Center in Manhattan (241 W. 30th St). Planet Waves is a co-sponsor of the event, mostly in the form of my telling my readers about it, which I plan to do a few more times. And I get to introduce Geoff to the class as a kind of warmup act. I will try to stay mostly calm.

If you care about astrology or have the vaguest aspiration to being an astrologer, or if you're curious about the nature of reality, get to this class. Pull together the $250 tuition (sliding scale, cheaper if you need), go through your contacts and find someplace to stay in New York City (or Nightlight Astrology will help you connect), clear your calendar and show up with your notebook. 

Then March 31-April 4, there is an astrology, yoga and herbalism retreat with Geoff and Maggie Hyde in the hills of upstate New York (in West Fulton, about 90 minutes from Kingston). This will be a mellower, more diverse presentation, in-residence for a few days. That is also covered on the Nightlight event page about Geoff coming to the U.S.

I am looking forward to seeing you there.

Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes -- and our Publishing Schedule Notes

Your extended monthly horoscopes for March are published below in this issue. We published your extended monthly horoscopes for February on Friday, Jan. 24. Moonshine horoscopes for the Aquarius New Moon published Tuesday, Jan. 28. We published Moonshine horoscopes for the Leo Full Moon Tuesday, Feb. 11. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign.

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for March 2014, #988 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- You seem to be holding onto a lot of energy that you absolutely must express. I don't mean a modest amount of energy; I mean on a volcanic scale. Energy always finds a way into manifestation. Given what you're working with you must take up the power of directing it in a constructive way. That's not a given, and there are no guarantees. The closest you can come is a commitment to yourself to be aware from moment to moment where you focus your mind, particularly in your intimate relationships. You may need some time away from a partner, or space to experiment in entirely new ways. Any relationship is likely to either feel the stress or come along for the journey, though I suggest you not try to push or drag anyone into what is inherently about you alone. If you value the relationship, be honest about what you're experiencing and negotiate the space you need. At the heart of the matter seems to be an experiment in emotional independence for the purpose of exploring and experiencing life in ways you may have long dreamed of. This will not be a predictable process, and once you admit that it's happening, you will be on a journey with a life of its own. Or rather, a journey of discovering, perhaps once again, that you have a life of your own.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- You may feel like you're trying to fit your ideas about yourself through a tiny opening -- as if it's impossible to have enough context to make a real decision about who you are or what you want. The tight space you're going through will help you prioritize and focus. Think of what you're doing as making micro-decisions, and consider any choice or adjustment a microcosm of the whole. It's not merely that small choices add up to larger direction. Rather, each stems from a larger idea of what you want. There is tremendous power contained in reckoning these details and seeing their relationship to who you are. It's easy to think that our lives hinge on the huge decisions we make. Yet even the most monumental changes of direction require many small adjustments to make them real. Therefore, you can think of each little observation or maneuver as an affirmation of who you are and what you want. This can involve the details of what you eat, how you spend money, how you spend your time (especially that) and where you invest your emotional energy. Your charts suggest you're at a major crossroads that may not come across as such. You may have no specific validation -- yet. Therefore, live well and live consciously, and trust that you're coming around one of the most significant turns in many years.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- Situations that were puzzling or seemed impossible will start to make more sense -- in direct proportion to how weird they seemed before. In particular the last few days of February into the first few days of March may have that sensation of walking on the ceiling, playing music backwards looking for the secret messages or waking up being able to perform magic tricks that you don't remember learning. Or, alternately, if you find yourself in a crunch point where you feel like you have no clue how to handle yourself, pay attention to how quickly your environment is changing. Then, adapt from moment to moment. That's your specialty anyway, but usually you do this in autopilot mode. The challenge of the moment is doing everything manually, taking each breath consciously, and noticing the unusual openings that may come in the most mundane transactions. Many of those will be interior. The adventure of Mars retrograde in your 5th house makes possible a creative and sexual self-discovery experience like nothing you've ever felt. Your ability to experience life from both sides of the coin, your curiosity about the dynamics of desire and power, and a rare moment when you will allow yourself to say anything, well, it will all add up to a bold few months -- as bold as you want. In fact, you may open doors that you'll never want to close.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- With all the activity now unfolding in Aries and Libra, you may feel like your life is hanging in the balance. Yet you have plenty of influence over which way things go, you are protected by forces that may seem too large to see, and best of all, you are opening up to the people close to you. One theme that stands out in your charts is making peace with women, and if you are a woman, you may include making peace with yourself. There appears to be a trust issue that has been pushed beyond the point where you can ignore it, or live peacefully with the question unresolved. Part of this involves trusting yourself. Part is about trusting people to be transparent about their agendas and true to their own values. Bear in mind that the chaos and confusion so many people are in is not of their own making. It was imposed on them. Yet as a person comes of age and attains both adult power and responsibility, the option to step out of that pain and turbulence opens up. If your life is in the balance, it's over the question of whether you can admit your deepest truth to yourself. That is, you may cycle through a diversity of desires, ideas and feelings which may at times seem to conflict. Actually each is a different facet of the same truth of who you are.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- Your most intimate relationships are in transition, which means you're being called upon to be especially flexible and resilient. One particular idea comes under the microscope -- that of 'the perfect marriage'. I believe there is such a thing, indeed I have evidence that there is. The perfection comes not from the static quality of the relationship but rather from its ability to grow, to change and to transform with the people involved. There must be a mutual commitment to healing; mutual respect for each person's physical and psychic integrity. With that includes recognition of free choice in all matters, especially relating to the partnership itself. I recognize this violates most of the commonplace definitions and concepts of marriage, which seem to be focused around rigid concepts and presumption of ownership. That model is not going to survive the onslaught of the 21st century, and your life is too full and too rich to be constrained by any factor not of your choosing. Here is the challenge: when established structures change, there needs to be a new set of ideas and guidelines to replace them. Those are best if driven by what the people involved agree to as their bottom-line, most essential values. Any relationship between two people will either be based on a dominant-submissive model, or based on consensus. Consensus is based on mutual values. That is the starting point and that is the destination.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- You must focus on the question of what is real and what is not. This will not be as obvious as it seems. I suggest you not assume you have this one right, no matter how confident you feel. Indeed I suggest you not assume anything, and make careful note of the facts of the situation. Opinions can be deceiving, and it's essential to recognize them when you experience them. Facts are statements that can be documented and proven true or false. They are not about an emotional rationale or persuasive feeling; whether a fact stands up comes down to the data that supports it, preferably collected over time. The first area of your life to go over carefully is your relationships with loved ones, friends and partners. Do you have any outstanding commitments to them? Is there anything that got lost in the shuffle of the past couple of busy months? Is there anything you need to clear up? If you have made yourself invisible or have gone below the radar, if you've left facts out of the story or are avoiding anyone, now is the time to engage with them in a meaningful way. As you do this review, I suggest you consider the way in which your self-esteem may be influencing you. Consider how you act toward others when you're feeling good about yourself and when you're not. Your observations may surprise you.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- Mars is about to station retrograde in your sign. That spans from March 1 to May 19. The retrograde process actually reaches back to early December, when Mars first entered Libra. So if you notice any shifts, changes or shakeups in the coming week or two, take the story back to late last year. The theme of this retrograde is profound self-discovery, though it may seem at first that others are the forum for what you learn, and you are the forum for their learning. That will work for a while, as you explore your inner dynamics within the context of a relationship. Yet as the retrograde progresses, you may feel the need to have certain experiences on your own. The forces involved are too powerful to cling to anyone or anything. If you feel a need, desire or obligation to maintain a connection or commitment, make sure you proceed in a way that is open and honest, and most of all, that works for you. If your personal needs require you to shift the pattern of relating, do so in a way that preserves trust and your options in the future. Said another way, you can live your life without burning your bridges -- something you would come to regret. Your emotional involvement with someone may be intricate and delicate, and that calls for special handling, high awareness and always -- always -- remembering who you are.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- Fear is a fact of life on Earth, the planet of eat or be eaten. How you handle your fear is not a given; you have many options. How you exercise them will make a difference. Let's start with the basics: fear is a form of energy and it points to a deeper energy source. If you treat it that way, and seek understanding of what is not immediately obvious, you will learn that fear does not need to be debilitating, and that in fact it can be empowering. The first thing to do is let your fear speak. Get the message of what it's saying. Translate it into terms that are clear, and that lend themselves to decisions. You're likely to feel the most panicky when you feel like you lack the power to choose. Therefore, information that leads to a state where you can make decisions is what you want and need to have. Indeed, we could call this the theme of the entire Mars retrograde. This is a set of transits intimately linked to you because both of your ruling planets -- Mars and Pluto -- are so directly involved. When this fully takes shape in late April, you are likely to feel some serious pressure to make progress on many things you have set aside or left for the future. The thing to remember is to get the information you need in order to make an informed decision, and then another.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- Don't worry if you think people don't like you, or if you're having some difficulty managing your social relationships. I suggest you take the events of the next few months as an extended opportunity to learn where you really stand with people, and also to learn how to build your overall standing in the community. I don't mean your popularity -- I mean real things like trust, dependability, loyalty and the willingness to stand up for what you believe in, even if it's going to piss off some people. Though you have it in you to be the supreme diplomat, you are also a Sagittarius, and your sign is equipped with a sharp edge. Still, it may be necessary to err on the side of asserting yourself. Do that firmly, directly and with understatement. Be a keen observer for passive-aggressive tendencies in yourself or in others. The 'passive' part is just a ruse for the 'aggressive' part, so get underneath that if necessary and suss out the source of that energy. Meanwhile, any relationship or encounter can lead to contact with anyone. That's a good incentive to say friendly things about people, and a reminder that in your life, the usual seven degrees of separation between you and any other person is about to be reduced to one or two degrees of separation. The world is small, and it's getting smaller.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- You will be summoned to leadership in the coming months, perhaps immediately. Events and your own desire for integrity and achievement will give you the opportunity to exceed your current abilities and expectations of yourself. What you must be cautious of is any moment when you're doing something that cannot be reversed. This could be applied to many different situations, but I really mean decisions from which there is no going back. Despite that, you will need to be bold, and I suggest you assert that by listening to people you respect and taking what they say under advisement. That does not mean 'take all advice', it means consider what people say. This is basic politics and it's also common sense. Speaking of politics -- know who your allies are, and put them to work for you. Seek their assistance, and make sure they know how much you appreciate their contribution. Leadership is not all about the leader -- it's all about the people who surround and interrelate with that person. You want one or two people who are not afraid to disagree with you, assuming you have determined they are intelligent and respectful. When life is coming at you from all corners, make sure you have those corners covered. At the same time, you will command respect by standing on your own and never shrinking from a decision.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- There are those moments when you're sure it's the dark night of the soul -- when you have no sense of direction, and when you doubt whether you have the strength to go on. But lately, you are experiencing these junctures as something more like a nearly impossible alchemy of transformation. This process goes as deep into you as anything ever has. No matter how challenging your inner life may seem (speaking of the next three months or so), or how isolated you may feel from time to time, you have a truly amazing phase of your life approaching when you can change everything by changing yourself. Or rather, you will be given all you need to make deep inner changes, which will manifest in your seemingly outer life. You may feel like you're making only slow progress on your journey to self-knowledge and personal healing. Yet with these things, what you have is less important than what you do with them. If you use the self-knowledge you have gained, you will inevitably build on it. If you trust the process of your healing and allow that commitment to guide you in all of the decisions you make, you will advance your healing dependably. As you move through this territory, I have one suggestion. Be bold, and keep no secrets from others. Then be even more daring and keep no secrets from yourself.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- This monthly column marks my 20th anniversary as an astrologer and my 50th anniversary being on the planet. I'm happy to have made it half a century, though I am equally grateful to have devoted two decades of my life to daily study of, writing about and teaching astrology. I'm especially grateful to be a Pisces astrologer, because to me that means I have an understanding of all the rivers (that is, the signs) that flow into the ocean. The Sun is now in Pisces, and is making conjunctions to Neptune and Chiron in our birth sign. That means the waters are flowing freely at the moment, and it happens to be the season of your birthday. This setup means that you have equal access to intellect and intuition; to creativity and healing ability; to your expressive gift and your ability to receive and to listen. Make sure you put all these factors consciously into the mix of your life. Don't leave anything out. You know you're on a mission, and I suggest you give this everything you have, and make sure you collect the rewards of your efforts as you go. You are the specialist at long-range planning and deferred gratification. I suggest you adjust that slightly, focus on bringing what you've worked on forever to fruition, allow it to feed you and continue to learn whatever you can from anyone who is successful.
Looking for an in-depth astrology reading? Order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It's a great package of audio and written readings that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also order individual signs for $29.95 here.

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