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New York, Friday, July 8, 2011

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Why Does the Moon?

Dear Friend and Reader:

At first look, the Casey Anthony verdict earlier this week was shocking: to many it was obvious that she killed her daughter Caylee. On closer look, it's clear that the prosecution did not prove its case, and that they went too far in seeking the death penalty in a situation without a verified cause of death, time or location of death or clear motive. True, much of the circumstantial evidence pointed back to Casey. Not calling the police when your child is missing for a month is weird, but it's not capital murder.

Planet Waves
Casey Anthony's mugshot, from 2008.
What many are questioning and indeed are disgusted by is the public's fascination with the case as it unfolded over the past three years. "Because the case received such thorough media attention in Orlando, jurors were brought in from the Tampa Bay area and sequestered for the entire trial," Wikipedia's editors wrote. "The case became a macabre tourist attraction as people camped outside for seats in the courtroom, where scuffles also broke out among those wanting seats inside. The New York Post described the trial as going 'from being a newsworthy case to one of the biggest ratings draws in recent memory', and Time dubbed it 'the social media trial of the century'."

Why, when there is so much going on in the world, in a time when there are so many injustices and so much that needs our moral and ethical attention, is this what so many people were fixating on? One analysis is that it was fed to the public as a distraction from the global banking crisis, the struggle over the national debt and the debt ceiling, the move to cut Social Security and Medicare so that oil companies can be subsidized by taxpayers, school being cut back to four days a week because some states can no longer afford all five days, the endless lies about how cutting taxes for the wealthiest people in society creates jobs, the multiple wars in the Middle East, nuclear meltdowns (and nuclear plants submerging under water and forest fires near nuclear labs). We could view this as just another morbid circus designed to take our collective mind off of what really matters. I would propose that it's all part of the same thing: that the same mentality is driving every issue right now, and we are 'surviving' by cultivating the same insensitivity to everything.

Yet why people are fascinated by this case in particular is the part I understand. Everyone knows that techno-murder committed by the nuclear power industry or Monsanto is wrong, but who can relate to that? Try explaining the inner psychology of a chemical executive who poisons thousands of people by falsifying a safety study, or a school administrator who puts students in a toxic dormitory. It's so banal as to be sleep-inducing.

What we can identify with is the dark side of a relationship between a parent and a child. We've all been there, from one end of the relationship or both. I would say that how parents treat children is more important than any nuclear meltdown or banking scandal, because within those parent-child relationships is contained the future of humanity. And who is not moved -- be it chilled, disgusted, outraged, saddened or intrigued -- by the curious, inviting eyes of Casey Anthony?

Add to this the extent to which many women are obsessed by the concept of motherhood and you have a formula for excellent ratings. On of my readers, a Florida attorney, posted a comment to our Facebook page Friday morning: "What has amazed me the most is the depth of the emotions so many women had in response to the verdict. When I look at the women who expressed the strongest emotions, they are women who wear the 'badge of motherhood' as their very essence, their identifying factor in this world. And if someone wears a badge as strongly as some of these women do, it usually means they are struggling with that very issue in some form or fashion."

Planet Waves
This is the chart for Tuesday's not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. You can see Nessus as the light blue glyph with the letter N on top on the lower right, in Aquarius, which describes childhood as inherently abusive -- a point Alice Miller tried to make with her entire writing career. The Moon in this chart is perhaps the most telling planet: exactly square Mars, in the 8th house, suggesting that rage (Mars in Gemini) was the cause of death (by a mother, Moon in Virgo). Mercury, the highest planet, is square Jupiter (precise to one arc minute), suggesting that the truth was exaggerated by prosecutors. And Juno, representing a spouse, is exactly square the lunar nodes, suggesting that a marriage partner, or the marriage itself, was directly involved and that the whole situation turned on that one aspect of things.
I didn't pay any attention to the saga as it unfolded. I saw a total of five minutes of testimony from the bug expert two weeks ago, by accident. My only thought was: that's the expert testimony? They're going to have a hard time proving this case. I became interested the moment I learned the verdict was not guilty. Then I got a little shock when I remembered that just a week ago was a solar eclipse in Cancer, the sign of motherhood. That seemed eerie.

So I cast the chart for the verdict. It tells many stories, some of which I will share with you here. I researched the case and cast a number of other charts. Earlier in the week looking at the charts for Casey, Caylee and the crime scene, I became physically nauseous, which persisted for more than an hour after I closed the files. I don't remember that ever happening looking at a chart, and I've done quite a few creepy astrology cases. There was no special reason I could discern; the charts themselves are interesting but did not seem disturbing on their own. For example, Casey has her natal Moon in Cancer, and Friday's eclipse happened very close to that Moon. Seeing that I think most astrologers would have predicted her conviction.

Let's take a look at the verdict chart and see what we can observe. The chart has Libra rising, which is an appropriate image for a legal proceeding (the scales of justice are illustrated by that sign). We find the ruler of Libra, Venus, placed in Cancer -- the sign of motherhood, and that keeps showing up prominently.

Venus is located in the second degree of Cancer, which means it's aspecting the Aries Point: talk about something that is deeply personal blowing up into a vast show of political theater that everyone can in some way relate to. This is the kind of situation that washes away any boundary between what we think of as personal and what we think of as political. The real-world places and situations associated with where these astrological contact points occur are extremely alluring and are indeed often irresistible. In other words, when there is an event in the world that shows up in the charts as connected to the Aries Point, many feel compelled to stare.

Venus in this chart is about to make a series of aspects, to Uranus, Jupiter, Chiron, Pluto and Saturn. Casey's ordeal has only just started. She's 25 years old and, assuming she survives the next few years (which presents a significant question), she will have to live with this for a long time. She did not get away with anything. Perhaps she did in the legal sense, with its supposed requirement for judicially acceptable proof (despite this, the innocent are often convicted of things they did not do). This is the kind of thing that it can take lifetimes to unravel, and I would note we are not privy to the long history that led up to what we have witnessed.

Venus in Cancer, aspecting the Aries Point, suggests this event is about mothers everywhere. In the verdict chart, she shows up in the 9th house, a house closely associated with the courts. It's as if motherhood itself was the thing on trial. For reasons I will get into in a moment, it most certainly is. [If you are studying this chart as an astrology student, notice how Mercury rules the South Node as well as 9th house. This implies a very long trajectory to this issue, and by that I mean many lifetimes. And such a prominent 9th house suggests that Casey's mother's psychology is a crucial factor in these events.]

Planet Waves
Family photo of Caylee Anthony.
There are some chilling planetary placements. Nessus, for example, is right on the 5th house cusp. Nessus, a centaur planet related to Chiron, is about the cycles of karma, and it has a close association with both revealing and healing psychological and sexual abuse. The 5th is the house of childhood and of children. Nessus indicates a cycle of abuse here, and Aquarius suggests that involves the structure of society. Meditating on the case all week, I thought: what happened to Caylee is a more extreme version of what happens to many children. Alice Miller's entire body of work is devoted to the theme of how childhood is inherently humiliating and kills something within most kids.

Caylee, the prosecutors said, was gagged with duct tape and poisoned with chloroform (a toxic sedative, much like ether). What child is not told to shut up? How many kids are drugged out of existence, be it by television or Ritalin? Well, there are a few; there are more conscious parents today than I remember as a kid, when every child was hit and there was no such thing as a time out. Yet hardly a day goes by when I don't see a child humiliated in public by his or her parents. And if I have learned one thing as an astrologer, it's how difficult it is to be a kid in our society. Very nearly everyone is still dealing with what they experienced during childhood, and once they discover it, many people are convinced that the damage they suffered is intractable.

"It wasn't until I wrote my books that I found out just how hostile society was toward children," Miller once said. "I have come to realize that hostility toward children is to be found in countless forms, not only in death camps but throughout all levels of society and in every intellectual discipline -- even in most schools of therapy."

Being a parent is extremely challenging as well. "In mothering, we meet our whole self, not just the light but the dark as well, the creative and the destructive and everything in between," said Jerilyn Brownstein, a therapist who specializes in working with mothers and expecting mothers. "But we aren't prepared to meet the whole self. Who teaches us? How do we learn to meet the destructive parts of ourselves?"

Planet Waves
New York-area motherhood therapist, Jerilyn Brownstein.
Things that harm can have beneficial effects, but, Brownstein said, "Only if we learn how to work with them. But when we push them underground, or when other people avoid them, they become destructive." Brownstein's practice is designed to help women keep these issues visible, where they can deal with them.

When I interviewed Brownstein for an earlier Planet Waves article called Born in the Sixties, she said, "Motherhood initiates women into their creator energy, and their destroyer energy. And unless they learn to work with their destroyer energy consciously, it can destroy a marriage, a partnership, a child's life, a child's self-esteem. It doesn't have to look like murder."

When the Casey Anthony verdict came out this week, I called Brownstein to get her feedback, since the case was centered on precisely the kind of themes she successfully addresses in therapy and group process with her clients. It had been eight years since our last conversation, and she was continuing to develop her group process work with young and expecting mothers. "We can go to movies and be really obsessed with murder and violence, but what's at the heart of it?" she asked. "What are we trying to work out? What are we trying to learn about? We're trying to see these parts of ourselves in the outer world. But then there's this lingering question: how do I find the gem, the jewel? The gifts are in the darkness. But you have to build muscles to excavate and go in."

Most of what society does is designed to avoid that darkness and cultivating the strength to find out what might be in there.

Brownstein pointed out that a situation like this does not emerge out of a vacuum. "Events like this always bring up the question: in the circle around this woman, what were people not wanting to see? Whether she's guilty or not guilty, her child is dead, and there's information there. Who saw or didn't see things around this child? What don't we want to see and why don't we want to see it? It has to be really big to get our attention. The little voice inside that's saying look at me, work on me, look at this habit, this way of being that's not serving you. But watching someone go through a trial for murdering her two-and-a-half-year-old, that's got our attention."

Planet Waves
The Pill Kills is a propaganda campaign being waged by fundamentalist Christians in some states against birth control by the American Life League. They propose that the birth control pill is a form of abortion, thus, of murder.
I keep wondering about the events that surrounded Casey's pregnancy with Caylee. I keep wondering about the truth of her relationship with her husband -- the chart suggests in bold terms that he had a vast, concealed role in what went down.

The scale of related events goes way beyond one case. The eclipses we've just been through have happened during a particularly disturbing few weeks on the theme of motherhood and the reproductive rights of women. In June, Rachel Maddow reported that fundamentalist Christian activists are "not just trying to roll back abortion rights. They are trying to ban birth control as well. The American Life League's annual Protest the Pill event was held this past weekend in Texas. Their message: the pill kills. Using birth control makes you a murderer."

Maddow -- one of the few journalists who covers women's reproductive rights consistently -- added, "The Pill Kills folks seem like a fringy group, at least maybe on the extreme edge of things, but their politics on birth control -- I don't know, does it still count as fringe if it's being proposed by Republican lawmakers in eight states? Alabama state house tomorrow could give final approval to a bill that would change the definition of person in Alabama to mean, quote, 'all humans from the moment of fertilization and implantation into the womb'. The bill would ban abortion, outright, sure. But because of the way it's written, because of the whole fertilization and implantation language, because of the way birth control works -- with this bill, Alabama might just be poised to ban the most popular forms of birth control as well."

Two weeks ago, The Guardian (a left-leaning UK newspaper) reported that a Mississippi woman who became pregnant as a girl was facing murder charges -- and life in prison -- for experiencing a miscarriage.

"[Rennie] Gibbs became pregnant aged 15," The Guardian wrote, "but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit -- though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death -- they charged her with the 'depraved-heart murder' of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence."

Planet Waves
Many young women face a confusing psychic maze when considering their own reproductive and sexual power -- factors that are related but are not the same thing. Their eggs speak loudly, and so do the moral voices that have tried to take control over their lives. Propagating ignorance in the form of abstinence indoctrination is not the answer. Closing off access to the scientific progress of the 20th century is not the answer. There is no answer but respecting individual choice, and giving each young woman the freedom to follow her own conscience. Photo of Heather Fae by Eric Francis from the Book of Blue New York sessions.
The article continued, "Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the U.S. more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals."

The newspaper reported many other cases of American women who have been charged with murder as a result of incidents during pregnancy. This is a trend that has totally infiltrated U.S. politics to the point where we really do deserve to call our government the American Taliban. Indeed, in the 2010 election, 71 candidates for Congress or state governorships were in favor of criminalizing abortion, which is one shade away from turning every pregnancy into a potential crime scene.

And the anti-abortion movement has taken some ground the past few weeks as well. Kansas, for example, passed a law mandating the state's three remaining abortion clinics to make changes that amounted to redesigning their facilities on about 72 hours notice, or face closure. That is the state where George Tiller, an abortion doctor, was assassinated while at church -- and where the few surviving abortion doctors regularly have their lives threatened and their home addresses published.

In May, Texas passed a law that "requires doctors performing abortions to conduct a sonogram of the fetus and describe it in detail to the mother. Women seeking abortions must then wait 24 hours before having the abortion performed, unless they live more than 100 miles away from the nearest clinic, in which case the waiting period is only two hours." You can read the full article on the local CBS News website. I have heard of many other examples of take-backs of women's reproductive rights the past few weeks, including the notion of 'personhood' being extended to fetuses (technically, a fertilized egg is not a fetus, it's a zygote) as a way to charge people who get abortions (or so much as take birth control pills) with murder or manslaughter.

To top things off, England this week moved closer to adopting abstinence-only indoctrination as the country's method of sex education -- a method used in the United States for the past 30 years, initiated by Pres. Ronald Reagan and the Heritage Foundation in 1981. So after denying young women access to real information about reproductive health, the proposed solution to this crisis is to deny them access to reproductive health care, abortion and even birth control, then bring murder charges when something goes wrong.

I suggest we ask ourselves what's going on -- a lot more than the obvious.

Eric Francis
Additional Research & Contrbutions: Sarah Bissonnette-Adler, Fe Bongolan, Gary Caton, Amanda Painter, Dena Seki and Carol van Strum.

Planet Waves
To discover how the developments of the next six months influence you personally, check out the Planet Waves 2011 Midyear Report by Eric Francis.

Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, July 8, 2011, #866 - BY ERIC FRANCIS

Revised and Updated! Click for Eric's Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- You've learned a little about human relations this week, and how to gently guide outcomes to your benefit. Now is the time to remember what you've learned. Maintain your best political posture. Small gestures, decisions or interactions can lead to results with much more significant consequences than you imagined. Without walking on eggshells, be conscious who you're relating to, what they believe, and what influence they might have. On the other hand, don't underestimate what you learn from very nearly anyone, what ideas float your way, or who in your environment might know someone who can influence a situation positively. The key thing is not to assume; know what you need to know, and know what you don't know, particularly as regards to your environment and people in your environment.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- You can open the flow of your psychic or emotional energy to anything you want. Whatever happens, or whatever you choose, there is an intensity factor involved, and you appear to be in a situation that is influencing you to change profoundly. But despite how things may appear, the direction of that change is optional. You are making decisions ongoing, and anything that seems inevitable is worth questioning. This is not about 'having an out' as much as being conscious about what you want, where that might come from, and how you must adapt if you're going to be in a position to receive it. Your own emotional density level will profoundly influence the situation and how you experience it. By density level, I mean are you in a tight and contracted state, or are you expanded, aware and open to progress?

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- You have time to correct an exaggeration or over-reaction that occurred earlier in the week, though without seeming like you're acting in a lurch. Check back over the past few days and see if you're not still under the influence of some event, questionable information or social interaction that pushed things out of proportion. Adjust your perspective; set some limits on your own responses and make sure you check the validity of every fact involved. With some conscious boundary setting you will be able to guide the situation back into both a realistic scale as well as take advantage of some mutual benefit you may not have seen at first. By mutual I mean something that everyone benefits from. Be vigilant against exaggerations, gossip or repeating anything at all that you have not personally verified. Don't count on others to demonstrate maturity and restraint -- that's clearly your role.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- Last week's eclipse of the Sun in your birth sign is not only still reverberating with change and emotion; it has barely begun to reveal its secrets. The qualities of eclipses include pattern setting, changing continuity, and a sense that what feel like karmic developments are afoot. I suggest you keep using all of these to your advantage now. The Sun is still illuminating your sign, the Moon is waxing toward full phase and there is strong energy coming from the other water signs: all of these things bode well for your ability to gently direct the flow of your life. As I have suggested before, refer back to your long-term vision, and make sure that the small choices you make are in alignment with your actual goals, desires and needs. You're standing in a moment when it's possible to influence your life for many years to come. Make sure it's the influence that you want.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Cancer, please go to this link.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- You're in a position to represent the views of someone close to you, or those of a group of people you care about. In essence, you're the spokesperson. That's a funny word because it evokes the image of bicycle spokes that come together in a hub, with that hub connecting everything to everything else. Make sure you stay in contact with people who seem to be on the periphery of the situation, as well as those close to the center. One little catch is, you may not actually feel like you know enough or are confident enough to be in this position. However, your ability to doubt yourself, such as even to ask that question, validates that you have the sense of responsibility that is necessary to support others in a way that is clear and effective. What you're representing is the worth of something, and part of how you're doing that is because you have a sense of your own worth. Yet you also have something that is a special gift of Leo: you understand we're all in this together.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Leo, please go to this link.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- There's a hidden factor involved in your life, and you're going to have to deduce its presence using clues. One of the clues will be that you encounter a limit or an authority figure, but when you test the boundary, you find out that it's something designed or intended to help you rather than block you. This should suggest that you mind your perceptions of what is helpful and what is not; of who is cooperative and who is not. Your first impression may not be correct, and experience will have to be your guide. That said, we all have our prejudices, and I suggest you beware of any you carry that are based on some missing information (most are). Therefore, the best thing you can do is inform yourself. You're currently in a position where you can make unusual advances on a professional agenda, but only if you're fully aware of what that agenda is. Therefore, know yourself.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Virgo, please go to this link.

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- Now is a moment to take leadership, though not the bossy kind. I'm talking about the kind wherein you become the facilitator of cooperation, based on what you know the goals to be. Don't be squeamish about this -- you are fully in tune with the people around you on an intuitive or emotional level; you may understand the overall direction of things better than the people supposedly in leadership. Therefore, trust what you perceive, and use your skill to guide the flow of events in a positive direction. You have much more influence than you may recognize right now; by that I mean, you may be working as an admin assistant or secretary, seemingly lacking 'real' authority, but there is something about your position within the social structure that allows you to guide things in a subtle but authentic way. If you happen to be in a certified leadership role, remember that people respond to their emotions before they respond with their minds.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Libra, please go to this link.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- People influence one another in ways you would never expect. That theme of influence is starting to show up in most of the signs this week, and for you it shows up most strongly among those you're attracted to, and those who are attracted to you. This quality of mutual attraction has the potential to be rather potent, and the sense of mutual reactivity might be stronger than you're expecting. If you feel a lot of energy, you might want to slow down the movie a little, and take your time making decisions that you cannot reverse. I'm not saying don't make those decisions, I'm suggesting that this is a time to consult with both your impulses and your rational mind. Regarding any questions of investments, spread out your risks and make sure you understand you know what you're getting into. Remember, there are at least two sides to every story, and to every person.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Scorpio, please go to this link.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- This is no ordinary time in your life. I feel like I need to keep reminding you of that, because the world is so strange right now, and there's hardly ever been a moment when you felt your experience on the planet was typical of anything. That said, even by your standards, your potential is hyper-charged at the moment. The way to take advantage of this is to keep grounding your vision into some form of tangible reality. If you have an idea, make a sketch. If you meet a person, follow up and establish the contact. If you get an offer, think it over and respond promptly, and decisively. Don't be afraid to move on from what does not work -- your ability (and willingness) to do so will influence the way that events, resources and people flow in your direction. One last point: the oldest and most modern concept associated with Sagittarius is global. Think large; reach further. Your life is a quest.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Sagittarius, please go to this link.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- You've become so accustomed to living under constant pressure that you may not remember any other way of life. The pressure to change can get on your nerves, and it can affect your nervous system. I suggest you notice the extent to which the stresses that have been on your life, potentially going back a decade, have eased up. You have matured, and you've proven to yourself that you're able to handle any situation that comes your way. At a certain point you must make a conscious choice to trust that capacity rather than investing any fear at all in the notion that you're not up to the challenges of life. Not only have certain tension-causing pressures begun to wane long ago, there are supportive influences in your life that you may not have noticed, and if you have, that you may not trust. That is your choice, of course, but you can only take advantage of what you have faith in, and you will tend to love who and what you nurture.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Capricorn, please go to this link.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- You're used to applying yourself to most problems mentally; the concept of intuition defies rationality. But I don't suggest you make any special effort to foster your intuition, even though your solar chart strongly favors this. Subtle flows of information generally come toward you rather than you going toward them. Seek and ye shall find works with some things; with others, it's more like be open and ye shall receive. Therefore, focus on your openness. Listen with the part of your mind that is not so prone to questioning, even while you're busy asking and inquiring. The thing about intuition is that despite what the other methods of evaluation say, it's the one that usually turns out to be correct. By usually I mean nearly all the time, enough to ask yourself what good reason does at all. Think of it this way -- intuition is inherent knowledge. Reason helps you put that knowledge to use.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Aquarius, please go to this link.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- The door you always thought was closed is now open, and you can use it if you remember to. That's the key -- remembering, and among the things on your memory list would be the benefit of a sense of ease in whatever you do. Connecting with ease is a conscious choice. It's not about luck; it's not about privilege. Most of the time, you make a decision. Now, this implies that you have choices open to you, which is my basic concept of freedom. If you feel perplexed or uncertain, ask yourself what your choices are. If you have at least two options, consider yourself fortunate, and make a decision based on what will work out best for you (or for everyone, depending on your values). If you go through this process, you're likely to find your life is a lot simpler than if you do not. Though it may be difficult to grasp, the most important decision to make consciously is the one about who you are.

To order Light Bridge, your full-length 2011 reading including written and audio segments for Pisces, please go to this link.

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