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A Fine Line: Roe v. Wade at 40

Dear Friend and Reader:

Tuesday, the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court has its 40th anniversary. As I imagine most people know, this was the court's 1973 landmark ruling that defines a woman's right to terminate an early-term pregnancy, in consultation with her doctor.

Planet Waves
Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe, left, and member of her legal team Gloria Allred outside the Supreme Court after the historic 1973 ruling. McCorvey regrets her role in the case and has for many years been involved with the pro-life movement. AP photo.
Less often discussed is the extent to which the the right of a woman to choose her reproductive destiny influences every other aspect of her life. Borrowing some logic from The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, the female body is the reproductive pod, with its own set of biological instructions; the one who inhabits the body gains the distinction of person through her ability to determine the course of her own life. And for a woman, that includes deciding whether, and when, to have children.

We don't have an Equal Rights Amendment in the United States. The ERA, had it passed, would have said (it's very short), "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Too bad that one didn't go through. I believe that Roe v. Wade is the closest thing we have to it, particularly if you think that on the physical plane, biology influences destiny.

Few decisions in Supreme Court history have stirred up more controversy than Roe. Yet if you read it, the decision itself is not especially controversial, except of course for its logical result. It analyzes the issues thoughtfully and weighs the interests of the parties involved: the pregnant woman, the fetus and the responsibility of the state to regulate a medical procedure in order to protect the safety of the patient.

This is prudent given that in the 20th century, as many as one in six women who had an abortion died as a result of the procedure. The decision also protects the rights of the fetus upon reaching viability, including with life support, now held by the court to begin anywhere from 24 to 28 weeks into the pregnancy. The decision also attempts to clarify the legal issue of what a "person" is, since it's not defined in the Constitution, and decides that it does not include the unborn.

Background and the 44-Second Time Difference

Before we get into the truly fascinating astrology of the decision -- my purpose for writing today -- I think it's a good idea to have some background on the decision itself, you know, a little actual information about what was at stake. Just as a preview I will say that the chart for the decision is timed such that 44 seconds changes the rising sign. This, in turn, changes key rulerships in the chart, in a rare case of a chart changing entirely with less than one minute's difference in the time.

Planet Waves
Cover of the New York Times reporting Roe v. Wade decision the prior day. Former president Lyndon Johnson died the same day.
In Roe v. Wade, the court was reviewing the legality of an old Texas statute that made it illegal to "procure an abortion," except with respect to "an abortion procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother." Texas also allowed abortion in cases of rape and incest.

The case challenging this law was brought by Norma L. McCorvey, whose name was changed in court documents to Jane Roe. Pregnant with her third child in a state where most abortion was illegal, her friends suggested she claim to have been raped, so she could get a legal one. But she had no police report demonstrating that claim, so she then attempted to obtain an illegal abortion but found that the site had been shut down by police. She was out of options. By the time her case was litigated, she gave birth to the child and gave it up for adoption.

With the help of a legal team that was looking for a plaintiff to challenge the Texas law, McCorvey sued Texas (personified by Henry Wade, the Dallas County district attorney who also happened to be presiding at the time of the Kennedy assassination a decade earlier). She lost her case and her initial appeals, and then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court, in a 7 to 2 decision, determined that the Texas law was vague and unconstitutional, and infringed upon McCorvey's right to procure a safe abortion, including violating her liberty, her right to privacy and her right to due process. "Due process" means that in theory, when the state takes away someone's freedom, they do so in a judicially sound way.

In a concurring opinion affirming the majority ruling, Justice Potter Stewart wrote, "Clearly, therefore, the Court today is correct in holding that the right asserted by Jane Roe is embraced within the personal liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is evident that the Texas abortion statute infringes that right directly."

And he added, "Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a more complete abridgment of a constitutional freedom than that worked by the inflexible criminal statute now in force in Texas."

The court also held that the longer a pregnancy lasted, the more the state's interest in regulating that pregnancy increased. In the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, the decision was up to the pregnant woman and her doctor. In the second 12 weeks of pregnancy, the health of the pregnant woman becomes the focus, and in the last 12 weeks (when the fetus becomes viable), the state has the most rights and may even ban abortion.

A History of Controversy

On and off throughout history, abortion has been a source of controversy, in part because abortions were so dangerous for so long, far more dangerous than childbirth until the 1930s. Other sources of controversy seem to involve the fact that in marriage, a woman can be considered chattel property, and that historically, men have a claim to the heirs to whom women give birth.

Planet Waves
There is a relationship between abortion and the Inquisition that may be at the root of Christian mania about the issue. 'Witches' were often wise women and midwives who were versed in the 'secrets' of women's fertility and abortion. Many of these women were burned at the stake during the Inquisition, removing their knowledge from the culture. This is an illustration of the Val Camonica, Italy’s 'witchcraft' executions during the early part of the 16th century.
The court was aware of the territory it was stepping into. Harry Blackmun, the author of the court's majority opinion, framed the controversy in almost poetic terms:

"We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy, of the vigorous opposing views, even among physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires. One's philosophy, one's experiences, one's exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one's religious training, one's attitudes toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are all likely to influence and to color one's thinking and conclusions about abortion."

And he adds, in a true statement of the times: "In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem."

However, the zealous intensity around the issue we are used to is a relatively new thing. In its decision, the court includes a summary of the history of abortion, acknowledging, "It perhaps is not generally appreciated that the restrictive criminal abortion laws in effect in a majority of States today are of relatively recent vintage. Those laws, generally proscribing abortion or its attempt at any time during pregnancy except when necessary to preserve the pregnant woman's life, are not of ancient or even of common-law origin. Instead, they derive from statutory changes effected, for the most part, in the latter half of the 19th century." Note, this is among a lot of things that we take for granted as having existed forever; the 19th century was a festering pond for very bad ideas written in very good English.

It is worth noting that abortions were an issue in what are called the burning times -- the murder of alleged witches in Europe that lasted for centuries, as part of the Inquisition -- because often the term "witch" really meant wise woman, midwife and herbalist who knew how to prevent conception and terminate a pregnancy.

Skipping ahead a bit, among the most vocal opponents of abortion in the 19th and into the 20th centuries was the American Medical Association (AMA), which has done more than its share of witch hunting over the years. Even as late as 1967, the AMA took a stand objecting to abortion except when the pregnancy threatened the mental or physical health of the mother or the life of the mother; cases of rape or incest; and situations where the child was expected to have a birth defect.

By 1970, the AMA was starting to change its tune. According to the text of Roe v. Wade: "[The AMA] emphasized 'the best interests of the patient', 'sound clinical judgment', and 'informed patient consent' in contrast to 'mere acquiescence to the patient's demand'. The resolutions asserted that abortion is a medical procedure that should be performed by a licensed physician in an accredited hospital only after consultation with two other physicians and in conformity with state law, and that no party to the procedure should be required to violate personally held moral principles."

Planet Waves
Justice Harry Blackmun, who was appointed by Richard Nixon, wrote the majority ruling.
So, this is a complex issue, and the health of the mother has been a concern for much of the history of the debate. This includes the awareness that abortion will happen no matter what, and everyone, including the government, has an interest in abortion being as safe as it can be, which means that it must be regulated like all other medical procedures.

This is key to the court's reasoning and is part of why this decision will be so difficult to reverse: "The State has a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other medical procedure, is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient. This interest obviously extends at least to the performing physician and his staff, to the facilities involved, to the availability of after-care, and to adequate provision for any complication or emergency that might arise."

The ruling makes the issue clear: "The prevalence of high mortality rates at illegal 'abortion mills' strengthens, rather than weakens, the State's interest in regulating the conditions under which abortions are performed. Moreover, the risk to the woman increases as her pregnancy continues. Thus, the State retains a definite interest in protecting the woman's own health and safety when an abortion is proposed at a late stage of pregnancy."

The court also admitted that the state has some interest in protecting prenatal life, ruling that:
Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of conception. The State's interest and general obligation to protect life then extends, it is argued, to prenatal life. Only when the life of the pregnant mother herself is at stake, balanced against the life she carries within her, should the interest of the embryo or fetus not prevail.

Logically, of course, a legitimate state interest in this area need not stand or fall on acceptance of the belief that life begins at conception or at some other point prior to live birth. In assessing the State's interest, recognition may be given to the less rigid claim that as long as at least potential life is involved, the State may assert interests beyond the protection of the pregnant woman alone.
In the end, the court held that women have the right to make their own decisions about pregnancy, in consultation with their medical doctor, up to the point where the life of the fetus is considered viable -- for three months in all cases, and then potentially for an additional three months into the pregnancy where her health is an issue.

The court described a right to privacy stemming from an earlier decision about birth control, Griswold v. Connecticut, holding: "This right of privacy... is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent."

And Now for the Chart -- or Charts

Looking at the astrology, we can get some insight into the nature of the controversy. There is actually a chart for this ruling. Data collector Lois Rodden (1928-2003), founder of Astrodatabank, states 10 am as the time, based on when the court goes into session. Rulings are then read and the text is made public. [To see the chart I've been working with, visit this page.]

This is one of those rare charts where 44 seconds makes all the difference in the world. If you cast the chart for 10 am, using the exact location of the Supreme Court building, you get very late Pisces rising -- that is, the last quarter-degree of the zodiac is on the horizon. If you cast the chart for 10:00:44 am, you get a chart with the first degree of Aries rising -- the Aries Point.

Planet Waves
This is the ascendant for the 10:00 am chart. The two planets you can see are the Chiron-Eris conjunction. Notice that the last degree of Pisces is the degree rising. It's not just the last degree, though, it's just 18 arc minutes or 44 seconds of clock time away from being Aries rising. I look at both charts in the sections below. If you want to see both charts side by side, they are on this page.
This is an edgy chart, on the edge. The last degree of Pisces rising describes the transitional nature of the issue. When a mutable sign is rising, there's sometimes not a strong hold on physical reality. However, I attribute some special properties to the last degree of Pisces, as it's the end of the entire astrological wheel. In my experience, it's a degree where you look for ways that the situation is the exception to a rule.

When you advance the time by less than a minute, that puts the first degree of Aries rising; the Aries Point is exactly on the ascendant. As I have written many times, the Aries Point is about the intersection of private and public life; the place where the personal is political. Indeed, this particular case is as personal as the political gets.

The stated time of the court going into session is 10:00 am (late Pisces rising). But obviously, it took the justices longer than that to settle in, the chief banged the gavel, and it took a moment for the audience to hush up; there was obviously a crowd in the courtroom that day. Then the decision was announced and distributed; this was probably later in the hour.

However, by 10 am the decision was finalized and printed and for all practical purposes, already in effect. So the main chart becomes the stated time chart. This is a documented phenomenon in astrology.

This changes more than the rising sign, though that in itself is significant. In mundane astrology -- that is, the astrology of world events -- the planet that rules the rising sign is the significator for the issue at hand.

With Pisces rising, the question is described by Jupiter in Capricorn (Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces). This basically describes the pro-choice position: reasonable public policy, described in part by Jupiter in the 11th house (of groups and aspects of the public).

Aries rising means the question is described by Mars in Sagittarius (Mars is the traditional ruler of Aries). Located in the 9th house, this placement describes the pro-life position; Mars, the 9th and Sagittarius are the perfect image of religious fundamentalism and judicial activism.

Let's come back to what these two charts say in a moment.

Chiron Conjunct Eris: Watershed Feminism Era

First I would like to point out one historical marker in this chart -- it's Chiron conjunct Eris. You can see this to the left, immediately below the horizontal line. Both Chiron and Eris are slow-moving points. Chiron spends nine years in Aries and Eris is spending more than a century there, so this is not an aspect that happens often -- particularly in Aries. This has an influence that lasted perhaps five to seven years.

Planet Waves
This is what democracy looks like -- a feminist suffrage (pro-voting rights) parade in New York City, 1912. Photo: Library of Congress.
Chiron conjunct Eris seems to be a good one for women's rights, at least in recent eras. The immediately prior conjunction happened in Pisces between 1917 and 1918, when the American women's suffrage movement was going strong. Women were given the vote by the 19th Amendment in 1920. Half a century later, Chiron had gone all the way around the solar system and was again conjunct Eris.

Chiron tends to bring out, intensify and focus the properties of any planet that it's conjunct. Here we have Chiron focusing the disruptive power of Eris, specifically disrupting the known order of reality and, in Aries, of personal identity. In the early 1970s, the feminist movement was again at its peak. There were many developments associated with women's rights at that time, among them the Roe v. Wade decision. Whether this chart has Pisces rising or Aries, that rather precise conjunction is in the 1st house; it's a defining feature of the chart.

If anyone has their doubts that it's really relevant, the asteroid Magdalena is within one degree of Eris. I think of Magdalena as the woman who is her own person, as well as having attributes of sexwork and sexual healing. The right to choose whether to carry a child to term is all about a woman being her own person.

Mary Magdalene is clearly illustrated at the right hand of Jesus in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper. She is the very archetype of equal rights for women, and Magdalena's bold presence in this chart informs our understanding of this asteroid. Its placement in this chart is one of those things that really makes an impression.

Scenario One: Pisces Rising at 10:00 am

In the chart for the stated time of the court going into session that day, the last degree of Pisces is rising. That means the ruler of the ascendant and therefore the significator of the issue is Jupiter, the ruler of Pisces; we find that in Capricorn in the 11th house.

Can you say boring? Well, maybe not boring, but not heaped on with pizazz. Better perhaps: mundane in nature. But then Jupiter is about justice. So we have an image of common sense justice holding up. The Pisces rising chart is a chart about a public policy discussion, involving what is actually a mundane matter of public health. Capricorn is government and policy; the 11th is the public focused on a special issue (all those who might need a safe abortion, and those affected by such a decision) and the court is acting in the public benefit (Jupiter).

Planet Waves
With Pisces rising, the planet that rules the question is Jupiter in Capricorn in the 11th house -- common sense, pragmatic, even conservative public policy. Roe was a conservative decision because it preserves the state's power to regulate medical practice.
Mercury is close to Jupiter. Mercury rules the 7th house -- the opposition. When considered in sane, reasonable and common sense terms (Capricorn), the two sides of the issue are actually pretty close together. Everyone, for example, should be concerned about the health of patients seeking a medical procedure. Even people who oppose abortion would, presumably, not want to see women who seek one bleed to death in an illegal facility.

Capricorn is about restraint. Both sides have a common interest in there being fewer abortions. There are many other points of common ground that both sides could agree on if they wanted to.

Pisces rising has a second potential ruler, which is Venus (I am sticking to traditional rulerships in this discussion). Venus is exalted in Pisces, and has a strong resonance with that sign. We can think of Venus as a second ruler of the issue -- and we find her in Capricorn in the 11th house, not far from Jupiter. Here is where we see some of the serious collective and personal pain lurking behind this issue, which is almost always lost in the blaring debate.

Venus in Capricorn makes many aspects to other planets, particularly a square to the Chiron-Eris-Magdalena conjunction in Aries. This is the image of a woman with traditional values coming up against the progress indicated by Chiron-Eris-Magdalena. Venus in Capricorn square these three points is just painful. It may lead to progress, but there is pain, chaos, confusion and an identity crisis to get through first -- an accurate depiction of many women at the time this decision came out.

In the 11th house, women's sexuality is put on display in one of its most sensitive moments: the regret or crisis of a pregnancy that would lead to the need for an abortion. There is often profound shame around unwanted pregnancy, which comes from families, the church and social norms that collectively are described well by Capricorn in the 11th house. You can still hear the stories of children born to mothers who were forced to hide in the house for the duration of their pregnancy, ostensibly to save the family the shame of the pregnant woman being seen in public.

To portray a woman as needing an abortion, in all of the potential shame, moral agony and unnecessary social pressure that comes with it, is about as unglamorous as it gets. It is a woman admitting that there is such a thing as sex for its own sake; that she does not want to be a mother at this particular time; and that she is capable of an error.

I will add that there is a lot of festering residual guilt about all of the abortions that have happened in the past, which is illustrated perfectly by the Venus-Magdalena-Chiron-Eris pattern.

To publicly acknowledge the abortion issue in the Roe v. Wade decision was to put this all on public display. It's about the whole society admitting the existence and claiming the underside of women's sexuality. This is a profound source of controversy as we all have some stake in what is done to women.

Scenario Two: Aries Rising at 10:01 am

If we advance the time of the chart by less than a minute, the chart has Aries rising. That makes the planet that rules the question Mars in Sagittarius. This is militant, zealous, driven by opinion and belief and obsessed with religiosity. There is no common sense, logic or thought of the public welfare in the Aries chart. It's the chart for the over-the-top public reception of the decision, or perhaps how the losers did not take defeat so well.

Emphasizing the point, this is in the 9th house of religion and ideology. And making matters worse, Mars is conjunct the Great Attractor, a massive deep-space point that polarizes issues. Simply put, the 10:01 am chart is a bully pulpit for religious leaders to grandstand their own cause, stir up controversy and make a huge mess on supposedly moral grounds.

Planet Waves
This is the chart set for 44 seconds later, putting Aries in the ascendant. This makes Mars the planet that rules the question, which we find in Sagittarius and the 9th house, full of fire and brimstone.
Further, the 9th rules the higher courts, and with the Roe v. Wade decision, the whole issue was pushed -- at least for the Pro Life side -- into an exclusively judicial forum. The one and only goal surrounding abortion became making abortion illegal.

Now, everyone knows that making something illegal does not stop it. It only pushes it underground, to some extent out of sight and to a large extent outside the ability of government to regulate it. There is also the power trip involved, and it's basically male in nature (Mars), as well as driven by religious belief which in theory will be dramatized in the courts.

Mars is opposite Saturn, which has the feeling of a hammer coming down on something. Saturn is in Gemini, emphasizing that there are two sides to the issue, but Mars in Sagittarius doesn't care about that -- except for the advantage of causing a polarized controversy. Such is great for raising money for your cause, concentrating political power and getting a years-long adrenaline rush to the thought that you're doing something bold for the Lord.

The Pro Life camp belies its position by going out of its way to make sure there are more abortions, not fewer of them. The same movements and politicians who will fight to make abortion illegal are opposed to birth control and sex education. The past few years the Pro Life camp has gone on to state its opposition not just to Roe v. Wade but also Griswold v. Connecticut, the decision that makes birth control available to everyone.

Anyone who is really against abortion would want to have fewer unwanted pregnancies. To have fewer unwanted pregnancies, we need to have real sex eduction, widely available birth control, and a society that promotes the values associated with thoughtfulness and with the care of children. The Pro Life position seems to affirm the rights of fetuses only until they are born.

The Aries rising chart describes this as what it is, a religious crusade having no investment in the reality of the human condition. The 9th house where we find Mars is packed with planets and points -- there are as many as there are in Capricorn. These include Neptune, which in religious environments can be an inspiration or an intoxicant. There is Ceres, which is about mothers and daughters, and what they go through emotionally. There is the Black Moon Lilith, which can represent the fear of women and their darker tones; and there is Juno, which is about the 'role of the wife' as someone who does not get her emotional needs met, and who can barely open her mouth to say what they are.

At the front of the pack is Mars, ready for a religious war at any cost. Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court intervened a moment earlier, reminding everyone that at least for that moment, we were a nation under the rule of law and not religious zealots ready with their nails and crosses.

In the end, however, matters of pregnancy, birth and raising children are about neither law nor religion, and this whole conversation needs to find a new forum if we are to take better care of ourselves and one another.


Planet Waves
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Reader Feedback on LISTEN, the 2013 Annual Readings

Dear Eric,

Just got through listening to Capricorn Listen. It was remarkable and so healing to listen to! The Pluto transit can bring a lot and it's hard to wrestle it down into words unless you're in therapy perhaps. But you did just that and in the end gave us a focus as we pass through our personal underworld into the light. Thank you for your persistence, patience and brilliance.

– L.

Dear Eric,

I am weeping with happiness right now after reading and “listening” to your Aquarius reading. Tears are running down my face and I am sobbing. But that is a good thing.

I don't know how to express my gratitude for your reading of Aquarius. I am thinking that you should attach happy rabbit ears to the picture of you in your hoodies. I feel understood, and APPRECIATED for who I am at this point in my life.

Love you Eric, and Thank You and All at Planet Waves.


Dear Eric,

I just listened to Part 1 of the Capricorn audio; tears of joy as I absorb the truth of your interpretation as I am bathed in the bright sun coming over the golden gate bridge on the morning commute! It verifies my experience since the new millennium, celebrates all my hard work, releases me into the beauty, richness and privilege of this time. Love the music -- really icing on the cake. A magnificent start into the LISTEN journey! Just a little feedback for you.

Big virtual hugs,

Plus a few more random bits of feedback:

Thank you for a brilliant, just amazing reading for the next two years, though I will listen next year as well. You are very generous of spirit.

Eric, just a quick note to say I am blown away with the relevance of LISTEN. I have to listen again and am still processing before I can really comment, but so far, it's astounding in it's direct application to the state of my life NOW.

The accuracy of this reading and framing of concepts is brilliant.

I just finished the first half of the audio. So affirming. It's like Eric has been living at my house these last few months.

Planet Waves
Sun and Mercury in Aquarius

The current big news is that Mercury and the Sun are about to enter Aquarius. But first let's review some events of the past week -- this has been a transitional moment for partnerships, including marriages and marriage-like relationships.

Planet Waves
Mercury as seen by the Mariner 10 spacecraft. Photo by NASA.
Through the past weekend and into this week, Venus, Juno, Saturn and Pluto have been dancing around in an aspect pattern. There is a gentle push for what might feel like immediate change -- though really, it's a confrontation with long-pent-up feelings about the way we are conditioned to be in relationships.

This is not just about the relationships themselves; it's about the cultivation of a certain sense of being, or self, or existence, that makes us able to be in relationships that don't work for us -- and when we start to grow, the relationships can be strained. That's been happening, and there has been a long discussion brewing in the planets, which peaked this week, about the nature and meaning of marriage and associated models of relating.

As for Aquarius -- this is the sign of groups, and of group thinking -- this is to say, the dynamics as they change when an individual meets several other people. Mercury ingresses that sign on the 19th and the Sun a bit later the same day.

Note that just before Mercury and the Sun change signs, they form a conjunction in Capricorn at 3:56 am EST on Jan. 18. This can lend itself to the ability to convey ideas to others, especially in a teaching situation. However, Mercury conjunct the Sun can also contribute to a lack of perspective, as ego-consciousness (the Sun) gets right up in the mind's eye (Mercury). Light can blind as well as it can illuminate.

If you've found yourself in a situation where tempers and egos are getting in the way of clear perception and thinking, consider taking a step or two back away from the immediate action. Things could cool off as Mercury and the Sun enter Aquarius, allowing for some damage control -- and an open, airy space for new ideas.

Planet Waves
Simplified chart showing the Sun at its moment of ingress to Aquarius, with Mercury (green critter with horns) just ahead of it. At the top are Venus (blue 'female' symbol), Juno (purple asterisk) and Pluto (red golf tee) in Capricorn. Mars (red 'male' symbol) is approaching a conjunction to Nessus (aqua glyph), a centaur planet in late Aquarius.
Mars is already in Aquarius, and it's going to be making an aspect to a slow-moving point currently there, which could trigger some emotional material in group environments. The upshot of all of this is to pay attention when you're in a group of three or more people. Make sure you preserve your individuality. I don't mean by being an annoyance or antagonizing anyone, but by being true to yourself and what you believe. Being true to yourself means not giving up your power to others, for approval or acceptance or any other reason.

And what about the Moon? It leaves Aries for Taurus at 8:36 pm EST on Friday, Jan. 18. Taurus Moons highlight our sensual and material natures, bringing questions about value (including the quality of our sensory experiences) and resources to the forefront. As the Moon opposes Saturn in Scorpio the next day, notice whether you feel any sense of limitation in these areas -- especially if it seems to be coming from another.

That Taurus Moon will be making favorable aspects to the Venus-Juno-Pluto grouping mentioned in Capricorn. It may feel easier this weekend to sense how any insights you've had recently about relationships, marriage, jealousy and love can allow you to act in better alignment with your overall values. A Moon-Mars square in the fixed signs Taurus and Aquarius could give a stubborn edge to any emotional flare-ups in groups this weekend.

On Monday the Moon moves into Gemini at 9:04 am EST. Those working on Monday can look forward to a mentally focused (or perhaps distracted) and communicative day.

Planet Waves
Planet Waves
Capital Building during Obama's first inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.
Obama's Second Term Begins Sunday

Pres. Obama's second term begins Sunday. The president, under regularly scheduled conditions, takes office at noon on Jan. 20 after an election. In modern times this produces a chart with Taurus rising, Aquarius Sun and Capricorn on the midheaven for every presidential term. We can study these charts long into the future, but let's look at Sunday's chart.

Note that there will be two inaugurations this year -- a private one Sunday and a public one on Monday, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Obama was also sworn in twice the last time around. After flubbing the oath of office, Chief Justice John Roberts came over to the White House later that night and swore in Obama a second time. Obama will be tied for the record number of times a president has taken the oath of office, second only to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served four terms.

Planet Waves
Chart for the beginning of Obama's second term Sunday.
The Aquarius Sun and Mercury are high up in the chart, presenting the image of friendly populism. However, Capricorn actually rules the midheaven, so it's really more problematic than that. There are two presidencies -- the friendly Aquarian one that we see as its public face, and then the real agenda going on behind the scenes, indicated by Capricorn.

With Capricorn on the midheaven -- that is, the 10th house, which is about the presidency -- the ruler of the issue is Saturn in Scorpio. Saturn is placed on the relationship angle; this looks like more obstruction. As usual in these years of our history, the issue seems to be religious, with Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn in one another's signs. There remains a titanic struggle between government bureaucrats and the American Taliban.

The Moon is rising in this chart -- the ceremony begins about 20 minutes before moonrise. The Moon is square Mars, which is angry and, moreover, given to camping out in its position. The 'camping out' factor -- stuck in an emotion -- is accentuated by the Moon being close to its own South Node. Also the Moon has special dignity in Taurus because it's exalted in that sign.

The word 'intractable' comes to mind: old values, religious values, and festering anger. It is old anger, which we know because the South Node is there. The interesting thing is that it seems to be directed at or have some contact with whatever is represented by Mars in Aquarius -- there seems to be considerable public anger as well. It's like values on two different levels of reality are clashing -- the private interests of the Taurus Moon contrasted with the collective interests of Mars in Aquarius. However, Mars in Aquarius could also be the few, the proud and the pissed off (over their issues).

The Moon, co-ruler of the Taurus ascendant, runs into that rage pretty quickly after this event. The anger might be racial and it might be about the inevitable trend toward gun control that will be emerging this year.

This whole issue of old values informed by old religion comes up again with Venus, the ruler of the ascendant, showing up in Capricorn in the 9th house. This is a chart more appropriate for the coronation of a pope than for the beginning of a presidential term in a supposed democracy.

Now, where are the openings? I think that anger might be one of them -- if people are angry about the right things. There is power in anger; it needs to be focused into something productive, however.

The wider public is ruled by Pisces, which is on the 11th house cusp -- Neptune and Chiron are there. This is a kind of mix of idealism (Neptune) and the sense that we have to do something about all of these problems (Chiron). It's not going to happen until we get our priorities in order. What exactly is the big attachment to the past? What is the fear of the future, or of our potential?

This sounds like a good question for therapy, which would probably be time better spent than getting involved in the federal level of politics, at least at the moment.

Planet Waves
Nessus, the Nodes and an International Tipping Point

In the last few weeks two particularly horrific instances of gang rape in India (and one in the U.S) have been getting a lot of attention. Astrologically, there is a strong indication of why: centaur planet Nessus, representative of deep shadow material often linked to multigenerational patterns of abuse and potentially inappropriate sexual contact, is square the lunar nodes -- a pair of points linked to the ideas of 'karma' and 'dharma'.

The South Node is currently in late Taurus; the North Node is exactly opposite in Scorpio. The Taurus-Scorpio axis is known for themes of sex, possessiveness and deep exchange, among others.

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Indian men attending a rally against sexual violence in Bangalore this past weekend donned skirts to point out that simply wearing a skirt -- or any clothing choice -- is not an invitation to rape.
Having Nessus square these points is indicating a potential turning point or tipping point on the issue of the global conflation of violence and sex. At least the issue is coming up.

In one high-profile incident in late December, a 17-year-old Indian girl committed suicide after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers. News of her death came amidst growing public outrage over a rash of gang rapes in India.

Another incident in particular -- the brutal rape of a 23-year-old pre-med student who was traveling by bus with a male companion -- has sparked unprecedented ongoing protests for the last several weeks in India. The young woman was recently named by activists in a gesture of honoring that she was a real person who suffered, despite the Indian media's refusal to name her.

Her name is Jyoti Singh Pandey, and she died as a result of her injuries after nearly two weeks in the hospital last month.

Activists are calling for redefining rape in Indian law in addition to greater sensitivity to survivors and a need to get to the roots of such widespread violence against women (it is estimated that a woman in India is raped every 20 minutes).

This is a significant change in attitude and surge in activism in a country where rapes are largely considered to be the fault of the woman (and a disgrace to her family).

Secrets and lies masquerading as 'honor', violence appropriating sex to perpetuate power and possession: these are the patterns at the tipping point. Which direction the Nessus-nodes square tips is up to us.

Planet Waves
Idle No More Heats Up

Across Canada, the union of human rights and environmental stewardship has evolved into the Idle No More campaign -- an activist movement gaining momentum and global attention. Following a series of 130 events in Canada and worldwide in solidarity last Friday, the group has called for another global day of action on Jan. 28.

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Earl Sunshine of Grand Prairie takes part in an Idle No More protest outside Vancouver City Hall in Vancouver, B.C., on Jan. 11. Photo: Jonathan Hayward / Canadian Press.
Idle No More began as a series of protests against a controversial government budget bill last year, and has since expanded into a nationwide movement for political transformation. Aboriginal and environmental activists are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to honor treaties with First Nation tribes, open dialogue with environmentalists, and reject tar sands pipelines that would infiltrate First Nation territories.

"Something that Canadians don't often realize is that First Nations are the last best hope that they have of protecting lands for food and clean water for the future, not just for our people, but for Canadians, as well, because we have constitutionally protected aboriginal and treaty rights that they don't have," said Pamela Palmeter to Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. Palmeter is the chair in indigenous governance at Ryerson University and spokeswoman for the Idle No More movement.

Theresa Spence, chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, has been on a liquid-only hunger strike since early December as part of the movement. She was due to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other First Nations leaders, but pulled out of the meeting over the exclusion of Canada's governor general and in solidarity with Friday's protests.

The environment -- specifically climate change -- is actually a key human rights issue. (Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, explains this in a recent interview with The Boston Phoenix.) That interconnectedness is now heating up the Canadian winter by taking tangible strides to demand action.

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The Road Map to Harmony.
What Harmony Can Look Like

The website has created a "Road Map to Harmony." Their introduction explains, "In the complex web of our world, each part of the system affects all of the others." Many areas need improvement, and many organizations, businesses and individuals are working toward greater balance. It's a well-known idea, but this site takes our understanding of how energy, education, sustenance, health, earth, flora & fauna, connectivity, exchange and coexistence interrelate, and translates it all into a clear, visual interactive project -- complete with actions you can take to help guide us all to a sustainable future.

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Here is an audio introduction to LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition, which includes readings for the 12 Sun and rising signs. Each reading is about 3300 to 4000 words in length, plus two 40-minute audio readings. This half-hour audio explains how I did the work, and what is included with your purchase.

In the LISTEN readings, I cover a diversity of personal growth issues, relationships, money and professional development. Different signs have different emphasis; the written and audio readings are completely different, though there may be occasional overlap. The audio was all completed on Dec. 20 and the written was completed Monday.

Subscribers can get all 12 signs for the price of three. Individual signs are $19.95, which includes access to the associated articles and resources that are part of LISTEN. If you are not a subscriber, you can get a free trial subscription and still be eligible for the subscriber price.

Use this link to purchase the signs individually.

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Your Monthly Horoscopes -- and our Publishing Schedule Notes

The January monthly horoscope was published Friday, Dec. 21. Inner Space for January was published Friday, Dec. 28. The December Moonshine Horoscope was published Tuesday, Dec. 18; we will be publishing the January Moonshine on Tuesday, Jan. 22. I recommend reviewing the monthly horoscope at the end of the month. Please note that the longer monthly horoscope is being incorporated into the Friday issue after the Sun has entered a new sign; a new Inner Space is still emailed on the following Tuesday.

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Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 #934 | By Eric Francis

Late Capricorn Birthdays

You may have gone through an unexpected, rather thorough revolution in your values over the past few weeks, casting off ideas that have not served you, embracing other ideas that feel right and most of all, bringing yourself firmly into the present moment. That is the place to stay; that's the place to find your true purpose and your authentic pleasure. Venus in your sign is suggesting that you understand that your ideas about love are changing. Your ideas about commitment are going through a kind of modernization process. And you are developing an ability to see your insecurities for what they are. I suggest you stay close to your fear this year instead of running from it. Pay attention to what it's saying and see if you can figure out where it's coming from. In so doing, you can gradually cultivate your freedom. Note to Capricorns: I plan to have your birthday reading in one week. I also invite you to check out your LISTEN annual reading. They will be significantly different products.

Early Aquarius Birthdays

This is a visionary time in your life. That means it's a time for you to open your eyes and see who and what you are, and embrace who and what you can be. I suggest an actual, immediate and informed process of considering your potential. This would include any evidence (in the past or present) of your talents, any desires to accomplish something unusual that you may have kept to yourself or abandoned, and accounting for how you feel about the fact that you're alive and have a life to live. Most people look at their life as if gazing down the wrong end of a telescope. I have been there myself. What is near looks distant; what is large looks small; what is beautiful lacks detail or context. I suggest you turn the telescope around and consider where you may go. I suggest you use a wide-angle lens and see your life in context -- the widest possible context of you in a world that may be going through some chaos, but also one where anything is possible. Note to Aquarians: I plan to have your birthday reading in one week. I also invite you to check out your LISTEN annual reading. They will be significantly different products.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- Be conscious of group dynamics. That means knowing what group dynamics are: it's the peculiar way that people change when they get together with a few other people. It's not always pretty. Groups in many ways seem like an invitation for things to get weird, and for people to surrender their individuality. You're not likely to do that, but I want to suggest that you take a special advantage here, and become the facilitator. The thing is, you need to do this in a slightly subtle way; as subtle as you can muster up for an Aries, which means using your political skills. Get to know everyone and their point of view before you state your own. Take the temperature of the people around you, and figure out which way things are headed organically. You may need to do nothing more than to guide things in that direction; you may need to intervene. Proceed gently, slowly and carefully and avoid, at all costs, being argumentative, aggressive or even overly assertive.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- You have been through some kind of 'test of faith', which has changed you in some way. It may have changed your point of view on a relationship or on relationships in general. The thing about faith is, we don't usually know we have it until it's tested in some way. There's another way to look at it, which is as an experience designed to bring you into the present moment. You have your share of old, quaint ideas that don't work for you. And that not working is no longer working. You need, and you are searching for, something new. I suggest you begin your search with an understanding of the purpose you want to serve. Discovering your purpose will suggest specific goals, philosophies and an approach to life. Much of this will involve the purpose of your relationships, which are an extension of the purpose of your life. So, the most basic question is: are these two things in harmony?

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- You are in a phase of working things out on the idea level, including figuring out who are the right people to have in your life. You also seem to be experimenting with concepts for what you might do in the future. I suggest that you focus this process, and be prepared to put your ideas into action. There is a short timetable on some rapidly approaching opportunities. The timing involves Mars, which is currently in Aquarius and which crosses the sensitive 10th house of your solar chart when it enters Pisces on Feb. 1. This is a point of decision, action or opportunity -- and you will need to recognize it when you see it. You will also need to be prepared for a few challenges early on, which will give you the chance to prove your dedication to what you're doing and what you believe. This opportunity may be subtler or more humble than what we see glorified in the world around us, and it's of no less importance to you for being so. It's what you make of it that counts.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- If we need an ethic for the next age of humanity, it's 'the greatest good for all concerned'. When you think of the shift in thinking and orientation that would be required to use that idea, it seems like a lot. But it starts with something simple, which is being able to see past self-interest. I believe it's necessary to take care of yourself so you can participate in taking care of others, but that's another way of seeing beyond your own life as the cosmic be-all. Now, in your life, it may be, and this is the thing that I'm suggesting you stretch: that you stop and before making any decision, consider the influence on everyone who is involved. Then consider your self-interest. You are making progress when you're able to keep both in your mind at the same time, and consider the facts until you get some pieces to a solution set that works for everyone. Such a thing actually exists -- though it will help if you believe that first.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- The Sun and Mercury enter your opposite sign Aquarius this weekend, which places an emphasis on your relationships and in particular your relationship to groups. You've already been on this page for a few weeks, and I would remind you that you've already worked out most of the challenging issues, the bumps, the grinds and the potential points of contention. Therefore, the Sun and Mercury coming along are a likely point of empathy, cooperation and progress -- I suggest you run with this opportunity, and set about doing all the things you know you cannot do alone. You understand the personalities involved, and you have a good sense of what you want to happen. Here is the key -- creative leadership. Initiate the ideas that focus the goals. Set the goals that actually constitute progress. Count on your intelligence, that of the people around you and be the one who openly has faith in everyone else. It's a great role to have on the planet, and you happen to be the one who has this assignment.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

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To purchase the signs individually please use this link.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- You are certainly managing to stay busy. The key is staying healthy. To this end, I suggest you note the close connection between your mental state and your state of health. You are the living incarnation of psychosomatic: the mind influences the body. This is associated with having Aquarius on your 6th house, the house of health and work. Mars is now moving through this region of your chart, and that's an indicator to take care of your mind, which means to observe your mental state and to back down from your efforts when you start to overheat. You may want to do this preemptively and focus on certain points of conflict that have come up the past few weeks, and work them out while they are obvious and are still motivating you. Over the next few days, you may get the feeling that you were missing something obvious. And if you get that feeling and get that something obvious into focus, then I suggest you do what you know you need to do about it.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- Controlling tendencies have a root, which is usually some form of insecurity. Right now, any such tendencies that you have are being challenged by circumstances that are offering you the opportunity to see that you don't have control, but you do have a significant influence. I suggest you assert that influence, which involves asserting your creative authority. I am saying it this way to give you extra faith that your ideas are good enough to be authoritative; you can afford to be confident in them. That means putting them into words and maybe pictures, and presenting them to whomever you think needs to see them. Trust your creativity. Trust your ideas. They may need some revision, true of any idea really, but they are strong enough to stand up to a review and you are strong enough to participate. Make sure that you stay with the process of anything being implemented through to completion. Assert yourself at every stage. This could be big.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- If you've been feeling insecure lately, or struggling with family members or housemates, you should see a turn for the better this weekend as Mercury and the Sun ingress the sensitive 'home' angle of your chart. The key to success with those you live with and among is communication. You happen to be extra sensitive to what I will call the tribal level of reality, though if someone can find that reference in an astrology textbook in the Scorpio chapter I will be impressed; it gets overlooked, maybe even by you. When you don't get along with people, or when you feel like an outcast (even a little like one) it tends to color your whole life; you really feel it. You can now make up for some lost time by both expressing how you feel in a gentle way, as well as hearing from others how they feel and not being threatened by what they think, feel or believe. You really do live in a safe world, and it's essential that you keep remembering that.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- You are in possession of an idea that could change your life, and could even change the world. To be fair, these things pop up all the time, and plenty gets in the way of their development or manifestation. The first thing, however, is lack of respect for one's own thoughts; the second thing is lack of discipline and the third is usually difficulty communicating the idea to others. So I suggest you work on these one at a time, beginning with honoring your thought process, focusing your discipline to develop whatever it is you've been thinking about, and finally, learning to communicate what you're doing and why it's a useful thing. This equation may be the direction that your whole thought process needs to go in order for you to be successful. They're not such difficult steps, but they require actual self-respect; they can be equally good at helping you create it. That is the master theme of your astrology in these years of your life -- take advantage of it.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- Pluto in your sign has been seeing a lot of action these days. You may feel like you keep getting dragged into emotional dramas, or like people come running up to you and pounding their fists on your chest. As it turns out, you are the force to be reckoned with. You don't even have to do much and the mere fact of your existence is leading others to rethink their ideas and re-feel their emotions. One theme coming up is the nature of commitment, which is getting a total overhaul. You have seen, and gone through, some truly remarkable transitions over the past week or so, and I suggest you make sure you are seeing the world in the present moment, and meeting people where they are right now. It's likely to be a truly different place from what it was a year ago, a month ago or even a few days ago. What is happening in your life is evidence that both people and circumstances change. That means that you change, and you can count on this happening now.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- With the Sun and Mercury about to enter your sign, you may be feeling a mix of apprehension and excitement. What you may actually experience is a sense of grounding, and the ability to catch up with where some of your desires have been going. It's true that they've been running ahead of what you think you're ready for; that's another way to say that you're making progress and are oriented on forward motion. Over the past few weeks you've been through some kind of inner odyssey. Remember what you've been through; commemorate it in some way, preferably in a way that preserves a few of the details that may not seem important now but which will be significant reference points as the weeks and months of this year unfold. Always remember your inner reality, even as you make your way in the world. Always remember that you're part of a community even in your most deeply introspective or solitary moments.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- One gift of the next few weeks is going to be the opportunity to understand your fears, particularly the ones that get chalked up to being 'unconscious'. You want to know about this dimension of yourself because when the energy ramps up, as it will certainly do over the next two or three weeks, all of your emotions will be amplified -- and you don't want any hangups to get in the way of the fun, the opportunities and the potential that are waiting for you. You're about to become a magnet for human contact, and that will give you choices in the matter of who you associate with. I have a suggestion: stick with people who have a healthy opinion of themselves and their capabilities, rather than those who are overly self-critical or hung up. Resist every urge to 'fix' these people and instead, focus on what feels right for you. If you have something to say to someone who experiences struggles that don't turn you on, be direct, clear and gentle, and maybe remember when you were held down by a similar affliction; then get back to doing what you've wanted to do for so long.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

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Listen is done and beautiful. Monthly horoscopes are done. It has been a busy week for this little fish! I am looking forward to my first weekend off in a while.

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