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New York, Friday, June 3, 2011

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Garden of Earthly Delights - Gemini solar eclipse. The bright spot at the top of this photo is the Moon and the Sun, about an hour after the conjunction. All photos in this edition were taken recently on the land (which also tells stories). Contact me if you if you would like larger versions, such as to decorate your website or illustrate an article -- or as prints for your home or office. Photo by Eric.
Yearning for Dharma: An Epistle of the Eclipses

Dear Friend and Reader:

Wednesday, I got a fortune cookie that said, "Cleaning up the past will always clear up the future!"

Who the heck writes these things, and how did I get one so perfectly describing a solar eclipse on the South Node, on the day of that eclipse? It's a simple, elegant description of something we all know to be true, but often have so much difficulty with. After all, the past is so abundant, and it can be so problematic. The future seems to barely exist, if it exists at all; and it's entirely uncertain.

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Natural archway in the woods of the Grandmother Land in High Falls, NY. Photo by Eric Francis.
But it keeps happening; it comes at us faster than we realize. Well, the past couple of years, we've been getting a clue.

Eclipses involve these alignment points called the lunar nodes. There are two -- North and South. In my podcast this week, I described how the South Node is about the expression or resolution of karma. Karma is the end result of the past; we experience it as the effect part of cause and effect, though the way to get a handle on karma is to figure out what the cause is about, and do your best to intervene in the process as consciously and as often as you can. After a while you start to figure it out. However the responsibility of knowing and actually living the truth that your actions have consequences can feel daunting. Part of why the past is so intimidating is that the world can not only be extremely unforgiving, but some take pleasure in inflicting that. It's easy to get the sense that there is no point bothering with healing, making reparations or getting clear. But resolving the past is not about them; it's about you. For those who figure it's just easier pretending nothing matters, there may be less to keep you up at night. Yet those concerns can be subverted into what psychologists call generalized anxiety that may very well be the result of not focusing on what is important. By important, I don't mean your taxes; I mean what is meaningful to your soul.

Though the eclipse happened two days ago, we can still work with it. We're now in a kind of hot zone of several eclipses (and the sign change of Jupiter, a related story) wherein it's possible to metaprogram our lives. A South Node eclipse in Gemini is about acknowledging and releasing mental patterns that don't work for us. Indeed, the whole 18-month transit of the South Node through Gemini is about doing this, though we have eclipses as focal points to help us move the energy along faster.

The South Node represents a point in consciousness where the past enters the chart, and where it can accumulate. Planets in the natal chart near the South Node can represent longterm manifestations of the past -- including of past lives -- that we're experiencing now. Planets transiting the South Node can represent situations that come up for healing, awareness and release. So the South Node really has this double function of representing what accumulates, and then the place we release it. By place, I mean in the manner suggested by the chart.

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Photo by Eric Francis.
With the South Node (and eclipses) in Gemini, we're letting go of old mental patterns, a sense of split reality, conflict and mental chatter. And while we seem to crave doing this, to get to a point of freedom within ourselves, there is another calling that most people feel at the same time, which is represented by the North Node. This is the pull toward new, unfamiliar experiences, though it has a subtle urgency more than an obvious one. The North Node can be the sense of what we came here to do. But it's often a calling left unanswered.

We tend to lean heavily on the South Node. It's familiar, it's got a sticky quality and a habitual feeling, and that can often overpower the tentative quest of the North Node. You know the feeling -- it's the tension between what you do and what you really want to do. It's the pull between what occupies your time now and what you wish you could be doing. It can also be tension between your need to make a living and your need to express yourself fully. Though many astrology students struggle with understanding the lunar nodes, they represent some of the most basic things that people go through.

Or shall I say people who are waking up to the idea that there may be a difference between what you're doing and what you want to be doing; what you feel stuck with versus what you crave. Not everyone experiences this. If you do, though it may be frustrating, it's a sure sign of awakening. There is a challenge involved, and the challenge makes it appealing to go back to sleep and pretend you don't have that certain desire: to be more authentic, to do something more meaningful, or to support your own growth through your choices and actions. I would note -- as we also know -- that there are many potential distractions and temptations. If you want to live your dream without quitting your job just yet, there may come a time when you have to stay home and work every weekend instead of socialize. And if you've done that for a while, what you may need is balance in the other direction.

The nodes are an axis, and that means they are about balance. Usually, we must balance in the direction of the North Node. And it is an ongoing quest. Working as an astrologer for what feels like a good portion of eternity, I hear about this all the time. Besides wanting the perfect relationship, it's the thing that most people come in with: a clear case of their North Node waking up, and not knowing how to handle it. It can be a strange feeling, compelling to some, annoying to others, but in the long run unavoidable -- and we know it.

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Photo by Eric Francis.
It will manifest as a person wanting to do what they came here to do, though often feeling helpless to get there, or even to begin. There are both counseling techniques and astrological techniques that can facilitate this, but really the client needs to be willing to cooperate with what is indeed his or her own agenda. It will usually help to clear some baggage out of the past, which might come in the form of dysfunctional beliefs or the agendas that others attached to us with that glue known as guilt.

Guilt can take many forms -- that's the first thing to understand about it. We may have to work through many forms of guilt to get unstuck, such as feeling it's 'too late', the sense that there's 'not enough time', and a past sense of failure. Note, these can all crumble or melt when life is taken over by a sense of adventure, curiosity or the need to go on a mission of some kind. We've all heard people say, "Had I known what I was getting involved in, I wouldn't have done it, but I'm glad that I did." That's the North Node.

Eclipses -- which activate both the North and South nodes, because they come in pairs or threes -- are times when this whole process is shaken up and accelerated. Eclipses push the lunar nodes and the process they represent into overdrive. The South Node eclipse in Gemini has started a process of clearing out thought patterns, beliefs and ideas that don't work for us.

How do you know what doesn't work? Well, you probably already know, and it's not that hard to figure out if you gather some evidence. In any event the process starts moving as the eclipse happens, and you're probably getting some information from your direct experiences. Or as The Onion put it this week, all American problems could be solved by just stopping and thinking for two seconds. That would go for Canadian, English and Australian problems too. A lot of what I do as an astrologer is hang out with people and think. We apply reasoning methods; we think through the issues. (I offer many of the thought processes in this column, having learned them from experience in therapy and working with people.) With the nodes, the thing to remember is: work out both sides of the equation.

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Photo by Eric Francis.
If you're working with the nodes in your chart, or if you want to, I suggest you check a diversity of sources for what your placements are about -- but emphasize the house placement over the sign placement. (Note, some sources are a bit overconfident about what these placements mean, and make statements that are not supportable. Therefore, read with an open mind, compare the sources and make sure the statements are supportable before you take them on board.) The sign placement is useful because the sign has a ruling planet and you can get some big clues -- indeed some of the most meaningful clues -- about what the nodes mean by studying the condition of the planet associated with that sign. For example, if your North Node is in Sagittarius, look at what Jupiter is doing for information about how you use your North Node. Remember -- planets are not merely symbols; symbols stand for something in your life. Doing astrology is partly about figuring out what reality the symbols correspond with.

The next eclipse is a total lunar on June 15, a potent one on the North Node that happens to be conjunct the Galactic Center. I described this with the monthly horoscope a few weeks ago; that introduction is probably worth checking out again, since these ideas seem to take some repetition. Here we see the progression from letting go of ideas and patterns that don't work and plunging into something bigger. Bigger, as in the soul-level calling represented by the Galactic Center; the sense of global reality, expressed in an individual way. The forthcoming eclipse on the North Node is about the undeniable yearning for dharma, and connecting what you might think of as the deepest calling you can connect with. It's a moment to refresh your mind with your original commitments, instructions or inspiration for coming here (however you choose to think of it).

I will admit, whatever the GC represents is going to be a pretty high calling. It may feel intangible or, if you have a sense of what it is, impossible. Yet it's about nothing less than the constant calling you feel, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the front of your thoughts, that there is something you want to do and need to do. That is the calling to dharma -- your personal calling to do what is right for you, and acting for the greatest good for all concerned (the two are related, but they come in that order). Dharma is a form of integrity wherein personal right action and the cohesion of the world are recognized as being part of the same thing.

Remember, it's an experience, not merely an idea. And that experience may feel strange and tentative at first, and that's the feeling to follow, and to follow into yourself.

Eric Francis

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Photo by Eric Francis.

Weekend Astrology: Jupiter in Taurus

Today is Friday, June 3, 2011. This weekend, Jupiter enters Taurus, where it will be through the spring of 2012. Unlike its recent visits to Pisces and Aries, Jupiter's visit to Taurus is uninterrupted by retrograde back into Aries. The Taurus placement and Jupiter's consistency there speak to a sense of stability, consistency and even-tempered growth. We have been living with a lot of Aries lately, and that's had a hot, scorching feeling. Taurus will cool Jupiter off, like how taking a walk in a forest is good for your mind. Forests offer wisdom that cities do not.

Taurus appreciates that sense of continuity, and Jupiter -- the ruling planet of Pisces -- is great friends with Venus. I am not suggesting that life will be peaches and cream; we still live in challenging, even aggressively challenging, times, but this transit will be helpful, and a point of cooperation with much else going on. For example, Jupiter in an earth sign begins to pick up Pluto in Capricorn, which opens the way for the expression of ideas, passion and handy stuff like devotion that could be directed politically (among other ways).

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Before I go on, here's a quick rundown of current placements. The Moon ingressed Cancer Friday at 4:36 am EDT. The Sun, of course, is still in Gemini, about to get to the midpoint of that sign. Mercury just went into Gemini as well, and is making a square to both Neptune and Chiron. The Mercury-Neptune square can struggle with integrity (it's important to state the truth under this aspect, and you might say to understate it). Mercury square Chiron can have the feeling of self-doubt, how could I be such an idiot, or thinking you're wrong when you're actually perceiving things accurately. I suggest you cross-reference, reality check against the viewpoints of others, and don't be too frustrated by the sensation of not knowing. Being aware that you don't know is the first step toward finding out.

Now, as for Jupiter in Taurus. Note that in less than two weeks, we're having an eclipse of the Moon in Sagittarius. The North Node is also in Sagittarius, hence we will be having an eclipse there. The sign change of Jupiter, and the aspects that Jupiter makes, are connected to the themes of this eclipse. Remember that as you consider what you're reading. The North Node is on the Galactic Core and that represents the direction of the pull; but where Jupiter is represents the worldly application of that quest, and there is hardly a sign more earthy than Taurus. You might say that Sagittarius is the concept, or the way the idea manifests in your crown chakara; Jupiter is telling us about how and where to express that.

Jupiter is the principle of expansion, as well as fortune, and wisdom. Grounding Jupiter in Taurus takes away nothing, and the cooler temperature allows for a more deliberate approach than we get in Aries. We need this: a sense of persistent expansion rather than the aggressive striving and vying that are so characteristic of our world. This won't be boring. Taurus is restless down there, take it from someone who collects these people in my life. They are not as calm as they seem; they are on fire inside. But that fire is being expressed like trees pushing up from the Earth, or those volcanoes in Hawaii that expand the island a little bit every day.

Let's take a look back and consider the last time this transit happened. Jupiter last entered Taurus in early 2000. That was a monumental year -- the year of the Metal Dragon, and the year of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Taurus. A lot happened, and it was not all so happy -- including events that paved the way for where we are today, most particularly the [stolen] election of the Cheney/Bush administration. Fortunately -- very fortunately, since we have quite enough on our hands -- there's not a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction this time around (that won't happen again till late 2020, in Aquarius). Still, it would make sense to take a moment to review where you've been and what you've done since 2000, which (like 2012 ahead of us) was a fabled, mythologized year. If the optimism of 2000 turned out to have been squandered, perhaps the abundant pessimism associated with 2012 will turn out to be false. If you would like to peer back into the astrology of 2000, here is an article from that era called The River of Night.

The first thing Jupiter does when it changes signs is make aspects to Neptune and Chiron. Jupiter is associated with Pisces and both of these planets are in Pisces; that is a strong connection. Jupiter has traction in this relationship, and those planets in Pisces have a means of expression. Think of all that Pisces energy flowing into Taurus through Jupiter. Now imagine Jupiter making contact with Pluto in Capricorn -- all that nerve-wracking, precipitous, crumbling sense of change that Pluto is creating in Capricorn but translated into something more stable and easy to handle.

So, while we could say that Jupiter in Taurus is all about Jupiter in Taurus, what it actually does is connect that Sagittarius energy to the Earth, where it can express itself tangibly; and open a doorway to putting the energy of three outer planets to good use. You could say this is the perfect connection between the 'spiritual' and the 'material' -- though you have to admit, any planet where mold spontaneously grows in the basement and where critters are found on the bottoms of the oceans and the tops of mountains -- and everywhere in between -- is pretty spiritual to begin with.

U.S. government issues new dietary chart

Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, June 3, 2011, #862 - BY ERIC FRANCIS

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

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- You really can let bygones be bygones with a sibling. At the same time, it's always useful to recognize who a person is and accept them for that, rather than trying to change them in any way -- and I do mean any way. Most people are committed to who they have become rather than to who they are becoming. You don't live that way, and your charts are all about moving on. You see a bigger world; you are aware of the existence of horizons much wider than you've ever lived. That really is the difference between you and the people you grew up around. The challenging part of accepting that difference is feeling free to be who you are as an active process, rather than a fixed notion -- and not using your past, or the figures of the past, as a point of comparison by which you judge yourself. A little compare and contrast is okay, but not too much. You are learning to see yourself in the context of wider potentials than you, or they, ever have, and the habit of comparison is a way to block that. Aim for the sky.

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

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- Earlier in the week there was a solar eclipse in the financial angle of your chart. Did you figure out anything about how your two contrasting views of money tend to deny one another rather than support one another? I've described this before: a double values system. On one side, you might like money, but on the other be convinced that money corrupts people. Or you might appreciate good things but feel guilty about having too much. Recent events are likely to point out the contrast, which can be frustrating if you don't have a way around it. The thing is, you do. You know that there's a solution set, and you're close to having it figured out. The key rather than figuring it out is to live the version of the truth that you want to be true. Conflict serves a purpose -- usually to appease someone in authority. Once you let go of the conflict, you move into a position where you serve yourself, and are therefore also useful to others.

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

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- When eclipses reach your birth sign (something that just happened this week) you can be thrown into an identity crisis. That's actually a good thing, as long as you know what's going on. And what would that be? Identity is more flexible than we like to think. Indeed, it is our choice to cling to who we think we are that tends to throw us into crisis, particularly when we don't quite know. The way to find out who you are is to let go of your old ideas of who you thought you were. I know that this is more difficult than it seems, but that's generally because we don't know what those old ideas are. I would say, you have bumped into one any time you encounter frustration or a sense of failure. Think of that as a matter of identity rather than as a fact of the world. See how far back you can trace the story of that particular emotion. It's often liberating to put together the simple fact that something has a history. Then remind yourself that you're in a different place and time, under different rules. Stay conscious and you can change the game.

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

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- The thing about having any feelings at all is that they sometimes lead to deep feelings, which can lead to a sensation of being out of control. The fear of this turn of events leads many people to skim the surface of their feelings like an insect skeets along the surface of water. Bugs can do that using a natural thing called surface tension -- and that is what you feel when you meet many people. It's a defensive layer that coats the outside of their psyche that makes them seem impenetrable. While doing this may seem like a prudent thing to do (after all, it keeps people out) it also blocks the feelings of those you might want to encounter in a deeper way. Most of that surface tension is expressed through the personality as indifference, which is a little like cutting off the flow of blood to your brain. You're not indifferent; in fact, you're very different, and you're curious about other people who are different as well. Open the door and let them in.

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) -- I suggest you notice the direct relationship between what you set as a goal and what you accomplish. I am not here to tell you that you can do this; I am here to suggest that you investigate the ways you do so regularly. Once you notice this, you will have evidence how important your goals actually are, because they're the thing you actually get done. This is a pivotal moment for adjusting your goals. Choose what you want; let go of what you do not want. Work for what you want. Stop working for what you don't want. Observe any conflicts in your plan. Perhaps most significantly, resurrect old plans that you may have forgotten about the past few years. Dust them off and see what they say. At the very least there will be some gems in there that you can apply to your current projects. One last thing -- a sense of play is vital to anything you begin now. The more fun something is, the greater chance of success you have, in part because you're succeeding from the beginning.

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) -- As I have written many times, one interesting thing about your sign is your tendency to have two distinct careers. I say this knowing that many people walk around with an assortment of business cards, and have five different web identities. I don't mean that -- I mean that you have the potential, and the inclination, to be a master of two distinct professional activities. On the surface, they may seem to have little in common. Yet they are informed by the same values. You do them for the same inner reasons, though they might appear to fulfill different outer purposes. Right now I suggest you emphasize the unity of these two modes of your existence, particularly if you've been feeling out of balance about your work. Do your best to feel good about whatever you're doing, which will help you succeed and also provide a positive frame of reference for the decisions you're about to make.

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) -- Saturn stations direct on June 12, which tells me you're in the process of coming to terms with who you are. This is a matter of taking authority over yourself, rather than letting others have that privilege. This may be eminently pleasant. But if you're struggling a little, note that this is one of the most challenging things that a human being can do on this planet and in our time of history. The story of Earth is the story of people giving up their power and then trying to get it back. Beneath this drama there is a tendency that we are dealing with, which you could call planetary in nature; it's about how we get control over kids. Indeed, we treat children as things to get control over; then we treat women that way; then we treat men that way; and soon enough we all walk around believing that it's our God-given right to make sure that people feel like they have control over us. That's why coming to terms with who you are and what you want can feel like no less than waging the French Revolution. If so, then Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

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) -- A subject that has, for weeks, seemed intractable is now open to discussion. Something changed -- don't worry about what. The effect won't be influenced by whether you understand why the air seems clearer, or why others seem less attached to their past positions, or more accurately, their past contradictions. I suggest you invest your energy in listening and inquiring rather than making statements. This is a fairly rare opportunity to experience the people around you going against what they think of as their nature, and in the process, being of service to the whole situation. I would remind you, however, that there are much more important matters on the line than what is currently up for discussion, and by that I mean fundamental matters of your own integrity. Don't get lost in the details, the trivia, or the gossip. In fact, move on from them as fast as you can.

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 week's eclipse in your opposite sign has done a good job of stirring the pot in your relationships, which is another way of saying: in your life. What seems to be an external circumstance is really a projection of your own thoughts. It's not always easy to see this, but your perspective at the moment is well suited to work with this dimension of reality. When you see or experience something outside yourself, follow that inward. This counts for 'negative' and 'positive' developments. The current experiment may take a couple of weeks to yield the full effect, which is about discovering how you influence your world. One thing to keep an eye on is that the effect will proceed from the outer to the inner; something will happen, and then you will discover how you influenced that, or how it worked out for you. Practice noticing and then you can start using this as a method to live by.

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 may not feel ready, but you have an opportunity. The lack of readiness has a few components, one of which is being reluctant to take on any more responsibility than you already have. However, if you're thinking this, you may be working with an outdated concept of responsibility. We could start with an easy shift into the 'able to respond' definition of that word; explore that for a while and check out how you feel. In practical terms, doing more is not always a matter of working harder. There are three factors at play: awareness, efficiency and desire. Start by being aware of your surroundings and how they are changing. This includes what supposed authority figures are saying, doing and planning. Next, look for simple solutions to what may seem like complex problems. You should be able to see through the issues and observe them for what they are. Last, the desire factor addresses any additional work. It's not work if you really, truly, want to do it.

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) -- Your homing instinct is going at full strength, and it's closely related to your sexual instincts. Indeed, it would be safe to say that they are one and the same at this point. That does not assure that they are 'correct' -- we live in a world that tends to go counter to what we know in our cells. So you will need to conduct an investigation, or more accurately, an experiment. The essential nature of the experiment is communication, but it's a fairly daring kind. A door that was closed is now open; it's both an inner door and an outer one. There is a mirror effect going on; you are in an environment that is at once social and also psychological. So as you explore, remember you're exploring yourself -- and that you're providing a space for someone to explore who they are as well. The key is to keep the flow of communication open in the midst of any communing that may be going on. Listen and speak as your environment rapidly evolves.

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) -- Your home is becoming a busier place, and I suggest you welcome that fact. As always, you need to make sure that you have the time and space to retreat and do what you can only do alone, but besides that, leave your doors open. Explore your neighborhood and make new friends, even if you thought there weren't any to meet. Look up some old friends and see what's going on with them. Your environment is shifting and at the moment distinctly lacks the inert quality that so much of the world's environment has right now. There is just the right touch of reactivity in the air; just the right touch of the miraculous or the odd chance. The zone you're looking for is the one where you're pushing your boundary of safety or confidence but you know you're probably okay. This is a way of discovering that your sense of security has you hemmed in, and that you're definitely safe and grounded -- the more so for taking some actual risks for the sake of your happiness.

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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