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Hermes, Whispering at the Moon

Dear Friend and Reader:

When the Moon opposes the Sun once a month, the planets don't stop, though it's one habit of astrology to pretend as if they do. Of course, most astrology is based on pretending to make the planets stop; they don't stop at the time you're born, but that moment, etched onto paper, becomes your natal chart.

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Mercury at work. Photo by Eric Francis.
Like many astrologers, I cast the chart for the moment of the Full Moon and study it closely. The Gemini Moon and the Sagittarius Sun form an opposition on Saturday at 7:27 am EST (12:27 UTC). Along with that main aspect, the other planets make shapes and patterns throughout the chart.

One of the more interesting things peeping out of this chart is that Mercury, near the Sun, is conjunct the asteroid Hermes. Mercury of course is the Roman equivalent of the much older and arguably more famous Hermes (Mercury is more notorious than famous). Associated with movement, transitions and boundaries, he could mediate between the mortal and divine worlds. That is, he served as kind of bridge or communication vector between humans and the gods.

There are hilarious stories of Hermes' first day on Earth, wherein as an infant he taught himself to play the lyre; escaped from his nursery; rustled, killed and skinned two sacred bulls belonging to Zeus; crawled back into his cradle and pretended to be an infant. Zeus was furious. Hermes conned his parents into believing that such an act by a newborn was ridiculous.

He is therefore the patron of pranksters, thieves, travelers, merchants and orators. He is a trickster, known for pranks and, not really allied with the other gods, for his service to humanity. For this and 100 other reasons, I consider satire to be one of the most basic and necessary literary arts -- evidence that the mind is in the 'on' position.

One scholar described Hermes as "the archetypal core" of Jung's model of the psyche. Mercury, the planet named for the Roman parallel deity of Hermes, is usually what we use in astrology. For me he evokes the words of Lord Krishna: "I am the mind of the senses, the consciousness of creatures."

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Planet Waves portrait photographer Jeff Bisti -- Mercury at work. Jeff's talent for artificial lighting is astonishing. Photo by Eric Francis.
According to Robert Schmidt, one of the astrologers who specializes in translating and interpreting ancient astrological texts, very old sources say that astrology had five founders -- one of whom was Hermes.

They are referred to in the old literature as "the founders," and personally I've long wondered who the other four of them were -- and who Hermes really was. Of all the gods, I get the most vivid feeling that this Hermes was someone who lived and walked on Earth.

Hermes bears the caduceus, which is a symbol of commerce and of heralds in general (often confused with the rod of Asclepius).

To me, Hermes is synonymous with knowledge -- 'hermetic' secrets, the knowledge of science and the occult, and lots of background of history. The Hermetic teachings are considered the basis of the Western esoteric tradition. This is really interesting stuff -- I could dive in and not come out for decades. Oh wait, that's what I did.

In Saturday's Full Moon chart, Mercury and Hermes align exactly (to about one-half of a degree). They are conjunct in Sagittarius, the sign of wisdom and knowledge (and of all things exotic and alien).

Not only do Hermes and Mercury align in a conjunction, but the two square up with Chiron in Pisces, again, exact to the degree. Few things in astrology say "repository of knowledge and wisdom" like Chiron does. The square aspect may be described by astrologers as "at odds with," but it also has a way of bringing things together -- especially when it's exact, and this one is.

So what we get is Hermes, Mercury and Chiron working in effect as one system. Add to that the Sun, one degree away, and the Moon, exactly opposite the Sun, Mercury and Hermes.

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Madison Square Garden, New York City -- said to be the largest fifth floor on Earth. (The arena, holding about 23,000 people, is situated on the fifth floor of the structure). Photo by Eric Francis.
This is the chart of some kind of revelation -- such as of deep, ancient knowledge. About what? With Chiron in the picture, one might be inclined to say knowledge about healing. Yet the healing described is in the style of Sagittarius and Pisces. It is spiritual; mystical; existential. It relates to the whole environment.

I have said many times that we live in the age of Mercury. It seems that everything we see, do, touch and relate through is under the general category of what that planet rules. It's one reason why Mercury retrogrades are such vital events -- they make us aware of our environment, the environment that we usually cannot see for what it is. The environment of media and electronics that surrounds us is so pervasive that we hardly notice it until something goes wrong. You could say that this is Mercury getting our attention.

There are of course other ways to focus -- more creative ways. With the Gemini Full Moon, something is trying to get our attention, something translated into words and ideas. We often take for granted the power of words as a manifestation of alchemy, but in truth, the use of words changes everything. It allows an individual to know anything they can access in words; it allows people and the entire society to travel in time, since words can take us back to antiquity and help us envision the future.

Along that vein, Mars has recently entered Aquarius. Since the Mars retrograde last spring, every sign change of Mars feels like progress away from the most wrenching astrology of 2014.

Mars in Aquarius is about progress. It feels like light passing through a prism, or a trickle of energy flowing through an integrated circuit board. It's also a source of motivation that can energize a group. Mars may usually emphasize the individual, but in Aquarius it's a reminder that groups are groups of individuals.

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Time travel through literacy -- researching Patric Walker horoscope columns from April 1989 on ancient microfilm in the New York Public Library, home of Hermes. Photo by Lisa Gatto.
It's also a reminder that humans in their current state of evolution need leaders. Part of why they need leaders is that humans are conditioned to be lazy thinkers, and also trained to follow.

This is an evolutionary condition that is often exploited by people with toxic agendas. Humanity must learn to distinguish people with political skills and entirely self-serving tendencies from people who are able to work for actual collective goals.

I realize that sounds like a tall order, but it happens that there are many, many people who know how to work for collective goals that don't purely involve driving a business agenda. It's just that many of them don't know that much about business or politics. And some of the friendliest people are the most easily taken advantage of.

While humanity ideally would be able to develop its social organizations in a non-centralized way and still make some progress, for as long as there is the widespread reluctance to take leadership, we will need leaders to help get us to the next place.

Looked at one way, the Mercury-Hermes-Chiron configuration could supply some useful information -- such as about how to conduct what you might think of as the commerce of evolution. For example, if we get evolutionary knowledge from an Internet site, newsletter, book or other media, someone needs the business knowledge and framework to make that happen. That is a special skill, or at least it is at the moment. It's also true that most people just cannot be bothered. It's easier not to do things than it is to do things, though for some people it's impossible not to do things, no matter how difficult.

Looked at another way, an aspect that potent could provide information about just about anything at all. Pisces and Sagittarius provide very wide environments.

The Full Moon (and Mercury and Hermes) aligned with the Great Attractor in Sagittarius suggests that anything is possible, and that seemingly small ideas have the ability to travel a long way. We know that this is true -- there's just that small bit about letting that be true.


Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon in Kingston, New York by Planet Waves, Inc. Annual basic subscription rate: $97/year. Core community membership: $197/year. Editor and Publisher: Eric Francis Coppolino. Business Manager: Chelsea Bottinelli. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Astrology Editor: Amanda Painter. Copy Editor: Jessica Keet. Research, Writing and Editing: Planet Waves is produced by a team consisting of Fe Bongolan, Brendan Merritt, Amy Elliott, Judith Gayle, Kelly Janes, Amanda Moreno, Casey Smith, Carol van Strum, Len Wallick, Lizanne Webb and Chad Woodward.

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John Coltrane, photographed by Francis Wolff for Blue Note during the "Blue Train" sessions in 1957. You can listen to A Love Supreme in its entirety here -- although YouTube on your computer speakers can't quite match the experience of hearing vinyl through some serious headphones.
What the World Needs Now: A Love Supreme

By Amanda Painter

Fifty years ago this Tuesday -- Dec. 9, 1964 -- legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane began recording A Love Supreme in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. The album became a milestone in jazz history; and befitting its Sagittarius birth date, is a clarion call from Coltrane's soul to the rest of humanity.
"During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening, which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life," wrote Coltrane, then 38, in the album's liner notes. "At the time, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. This album is a humble offering to HIM."
The 33-minute suite, remarkably recorded in one four-hour session, comprises four sections: "Acknowledgement," "Resolution," "Pursuance" and "Psalm." It was described as "devotional music of the highest order ... which aims to brings listeners to a higher state," by Tom Moon in his 2008 book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. 
Although Coltrane himself was not a Sagittarius (he had a Libra Sun, Aries Moon and Pisces ascendant), there's still a connection. In the 2011 article Clarence Clemons: Centaur of the Saxophone, Eric delves into the prominence of centaur object Pholus in charts related to the saxophone. Coltrane's Pholus, unsurprisingly, is conjunct the Galactic Core -- that cosmic homing signal that, in part, makes Sagittarius what it is.

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Top Five Events of 2015, Part 2 and The Grateful Dead Anniversary

In this week's edition, I look at a few more of the top five events of 2015, recapping Chiron and Borasisi in Pisces, then the three conjunctions of Venus and Mars and the Jupiter-Saturn square. My musical guest is The Grateful Dead, with one song of covered by Burning Spear -- and I look at the chart of the first Grateful Dead concert, which was 49 years ago tonight, on Dec. 4, 1965.

I play three songs -- Sage and Spirit, Just a Little Light and Estimated Prophet. Those links take you to the lyrics on The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics (in the case of Sage and Spirit, the song notes, as it's an instrumental). Here is that chart.

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Chart for the first Grateful Dead show, at the Acid Test at the home of Big Nig on Dec. 4, 1965. Note, I just went looking for Big Nig's name and found this comment at Tom "Wolfe didn't give it in EKAT [Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test]. McNally didn't give it. Lesh didn't give it. I can't find a single scholar/dissertator in the last fifteen years who's given it." I will call David Dodd.

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Your Monthly Horoscopes -- and our Publishing Schedule Notes

We published your extended monthly horoscopes for December Thursday, Nov. 27. Your extended monthly horoscopes for November  published Friday, Oct. 24. Moonshine horoscopes for the Gemini Full Moon published Tuesday, Dec. 2. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign.

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Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, #1027 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- Keep what you say meaningful, mindful and minimal. Your words have impact beyond what you know. I know the 'meaningful' part is challenging, since you can't usually decide for yourself what is meaningful to others, anyway. You can, however, focus on what is meaningful to you, and describe it in as few words as possible. The tendency of your astrology at the moment is many words, not a few words, however. And the tendency as well is to water them down. If you want to go overboard, do it in writing. And you will stay closer to meaning if you stick to what you're the least comfortable saying, what is the most private; or pushing the edge of your comfort zone, you will verge directly into meaning. You can say these things to yourself, and you can experiment saying them to others. The meeting point of the two is putting them into writing -- and sharing the writing, while the inspiration and sense of daring is still with you.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- Sex is cosmic. Why is that so controversial? Could it be that someone made it so? If you look around, most of the controversies of the world are fabricated, and most things that should be getting the buzz going are kept on the down-low. Seen one way, the cosmic nature of sex, phrased as a question, begs the true nature of existence. We all got here from sex. But that's the ordinary part. The interesting part is the access to consciousness granted by sex; that is, by sexual desire, experience, curiosity and what can happen in sexual relationships. What can happen is discovery. What can happen is alchemy, between two or more people, and within oneself. Here is a clue: Alchemy is a relic of the ancient world. It's not regarded as real today, even though so much of it happens. To see alchemy for what it is, look at the world through ancient eyes. Look at the world as if you were dropped into its midst from some other simpler, quieter civilization.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- You could be the walking controversy this weekend, for no good reason. You could cause a fuss by saying 'have a nice day'. The key will be not taking this personally. Along the same vein, you could be triggered by something said by another. Remember, this is all an illusion. It may feel very real to some people, especially the ones who thrive on controversy or use it to stoke their identity. As a Gemini you have a gift for keeping it light. You can get serious, though you can dial in a kind of levity and the appearance of being superficial. You may need this skill over the next few days, and I suggest you use it without hesitating. It's highly unlikely that anything polarizing will have actual meaning, though it could have real impact -- not the best combination. Keep a smile on your face, and when people get feisty, pretend not to understand. Then listen carefully -- there may be some profound wisdom underneath all the bluster and chaos.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- How are you doing at learning to take things less personally? Or rather, maybe the process is meeting every experience of your life on such an intimate, inner level that it becomes so personal that you embrace existence fully. By this I mean it's possible for you to understand everything as something that happens within you. The perfect analogy: In a dream, a whole world arises, complete with people, scenery, theme and logic. In our culture, we understand that a dream is something that happens within us. (There are other approaches -- for another day.) Now think of 'the world' as something that happens within your senses, within your mind, within your consciousness. This is, at least, biologically true: your whole experience of life happens within your brain and nervous system. Imagine the influence that gives you. Consider how vital your own attention is to your experience of life. Count as real the ability you have to choose for yourself what is true and what is not.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- Pride is the last feeling that you want to stoke right now. There are others that will work much better -- like cooperation. I was going to say "group integration" but that's a term better used in the Aquarius horoscope. This astrology is coming from Aquarius by the way -- in the form of Mars entering your opposite sign. As for pride, I know the temptation may be there, though it will come off to others as confrontational, and that's unlikely to be what you want to do. At the same time, you may be noticing that others are asserting themselves to you, that is, asserting their will and their ideas. The key is to meet them without resistance. Imagine the encounter as more like dancing and less like wrestling. When dancing you have to apply some strength and firmness and yet be flexible and flow. Then imagine a group of people doing this dance, without choreography -- just music. Listen for the music.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- Listen to what your body is saying. Your body will reveal secrets about your past, if you will only listen. I suggest you ease back on sugar, caffeine and anything else that might alter your consciousness, at least over the next few days. This is for the express purpose of tuning into the messages that are profoundly important but also can be easily obscured. The thing you might have to offer in the equation is the willingness to experience some discomfort. You might also need to sort out the content of what is happening in a current relationship until you understand the subtext. And you will need to see beneath any feelings that you may have about your family, particularly your father's side of the family. All of this will be worth it. It will be a small inconvenience to bear, on the way to making what could be the first of many discoveries that set you solidly on the healing path.

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- It's time to bring the passion back into sex. Passion does not necessarily mean love affair, and it does not mean soul mate. It has nothing to do with 'spiritual' unless you're someone who associates spiritual with biology. This is less about being horny and more about being curious and creative. Imagine if we unhooked from sex all those other values, and just left curious and creative. We would have something fun to play with. You in particular need sex to be interesting, whatever kind of sex it may be. Interesting translates to something different, and a spirit of experimentation. I know this passage of writing will never get into The Missionary's Guide to Perfect Fidelity, and that's a good thing too. You're not a missionary and perfect fidelity is not your goal. In fact it may be the last thing on your mind right now. Remember, curiosity, creativity, experimentation.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- Aah yes family, the original group. The tribe. The thing to which we think we belong, and yet somehow, so often, do not belong. The group by which all other groups are measured. You may encounter the temptation to define yourself by the ways in which you've got nothing in common with those people. You may be feeling some anger, directed at the past, perhaps for the way things are today. You may get the urge to "burn down their house" (metaphorically, of course). Anger is useful. It's a reminder that you may actually have a beef with someone, though it's not always clear who, or why. I suggest you sort that out. Start by assuming that anger is a clue; merely a clue. Then once you have that clue, follow it in and see if you can figure out the dynamic. Don't be attached to any one discovery. Hang loose and be flexible as you move from idea to idea. You will learn a lot the next few weeks as you do this.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- You really do know -- even if you think you don't, and especially if you're not supposed to. To make an observation, you don't need to have read the book or collected the certification. There are some things you just know. You might call it intuition, but from the look of your solar chart it's a heck of a lot deeper; more like the direct memory of something you learned a long time ago. This could be a fleeting experience for you, though I suggest you focus on any interesting revelations long enough to get the actual content and impact of the message. You could find yourself remembering all kinds of things that are absolutely beyond your experience, training and knowledge level. I suggest that you not declare yourself any kind of expert or lay claim to this information any more than to enter into a relationship with it. This is something that can develop over time, if you make the investment of focus and reflection.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- Mars leaves your sign on Thursday, ending an interesting micro-era of your life. This began Oct. 26, and it probably started with a bang or two. Looking back, what do you see from a distance, and with the perspective of time? I would encourage your curiosity about the events of the second week of November. What did you learn? It has a bearing on the next few weeks, with the main point of contact being what happens when you judge yourself for things that are outside your control, or judge yourself at all. One of the ways that you, personally, handle the global self-esteem crisis is to detach yourself from the issue. It's actually a pretty good strategy, since so much of "lack of self-esteem" is a kind of red herring. Often, it involves a con-job by someone else -- in the distant past or five minutes ago. But sometimes you cannot distance yourself; sometimes you have to grab the question, look it in the face and say: AND?

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- Mars enters your sign on Thursday. Mars sign changes are always meaningful, and always noticeable, though this one bears a personal message to you. The theme is how you use your energy. That's significant now because you will have access to plenty more -- drive, motivation, persuasiveness and personal power. This may be off-putting to some people. You don't need to make your case strongly, or for that matter at all. You will definitely need to apply diplomacy to any situation in which you find yourself. If you don't add that as a conscious factor, you are likely to decide that you just don't care and dust it up with someone needlessly. So I suggest you apply your best Aquarian cool, and distribute that Martian energy evenly through your circuits. Let Mars make you more of what you are: humane, idealistic, and -- underneath a mind often boggled with a whole bunch of ideas -- passionate and sensitive.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- Keep your plans big, and keep them to yourself. What you're doing now -- everything from the changes you're initiating to the edge you're walking along -- has the power to grow into something far beyond what you currently have, or think is possible. You don't need to trace that trajectory, or even plot out the scenarios. To do so would likely be to limit yourself. Rather, focus on the kernel of what you're doing, as close to the seed of the idea as you can. Retreat inward rather than extend yourself outward, particularly on this one thing that you've got a grasp on, or that has a hold on your interest. Yes, the Sun in Sagittarius moving across your solar 10th house is about expanding and being visible, which you can do in other ways -- in ways that are already tried and true. As for this new thing you're discovering, keep that between yourself and your notebook.

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