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How to Fix the World, Part Two

Dear Friend and Reader:

We met the Yes Men a few weeks ago, after I spent Monday morning, Sept. 21 trooping around Manhattan as they gave out their climate change edition of the New York Post. This paracosmic spoof on the conservative tabloid was distributed to 100,000 New Yorkers as a global warming conference consisting of presidents, prime ministers and environment bigshots was pouring into the city. Distribution points outside the United Nations made sure that a bunch of copies made it into the proceedings, and the prank became national news.
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Outside the Film Forum in New York's Greenwich Village, where "The Yes Men Fix The World" premiered this week. Photo by Eric Francis / Planet Waves.
This week, a film featuring the boys premiered in a number of cities: The Yes Men Fix the World, a retrospective of their anti-corporate pranks over the past few years. This seemed like a fine occasion to look at their astrological charts and consider what their existence says about the nature of reality. [View movie trailer here. Several videos are linked from this article and they are all a lot of fun.]

The Yes Men -- created and led by Andy Bichlbaum, a Libra, and Mike Bonanno, an Aries -- specialize in impostering corporate executives, then delivering an environmental message to petroleum conferences, World Trade Organization meetings and even live on BBC World.

By yesterday afternoon, I still hadn't tracked down Bonanno's birth time. When I finally got him on the phone, I was fortunate that his mother was standing right there with him, and that she remembered when he was born. Then Mike invited me down to the city for some after-the-screening fun: what he described as a procession and some drumming but which really turned out to be the takeover of an enormous Whole Foods market in lower Manhattan. They are always stealth about their plans.

After cruising 100 miles down the New York Thruway and then through the streets of Manhattan, I arrived at the Film Forum in Greenwich Village just as the screening ended. Bonanno was on his way; he is a professor and had just finished teaching a class. I waited outside, where I ran into one of the guys whose job it is to follow them around with a video camera; this seems to be a whole genre of art. He said that the Yes Men worked relentlessly, as if he had been tracking them around the clock for days on end and needed a shower and a night's rest.

Soon after, Andy Bichlbaum came strolling up to the theater, and a few moments later, Bonanno arrived; just about every screening gets its own Q & A session. I followed them in. Standing in front of the movie screen, they took questions from the packed audience: How do you pay for all these antics? How is it that you don't get arrested or sued? Aren't people starting to recognize you?

Then they explained the plan to take over the local Whole Foods store. Why? John Mackey, the CEO of the national health food chain, had recently published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal wherein he said that it's not the government's job to provide health care and we should all fend for ourselves. Yes, the CEO of the groovy, crunchy organic food chain thinks that we're all on our own.

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Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum take questions from the audience Thursday night in New York City. They then turned a moviegoing experience into an activist event, and the Uranus-Pluto square had begun. Photo by Eric Francis / Planet Waves.
"Health care is a service that we all need," he wrote, "but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This 'right' has never existed in America."

So he's an erudite historian, and a patriot to boot. Interesting -- a careful reading of the Constitution (or of the case law) does not reveal any intrinsic right of his corporation to exist perpetually, either.

Tonight, the Yes Men would be getting revenge. They passed around the lyrics to "Hey Mackey!", sung to the tune of "Hey Mickey!" We would all meet in the frozen foods aisle and, after an announcement (via megaphone) of "a big spill in the health care aisle," the protest would begin, operatically.

Hey, Mackey, you don't seem to care
We're not as rich as you but we still need health care.
Oh, Mackey, you're so greedy can't you understand?
It's guys like you Mackey!

They needed a singer to lead the chant; a hand went up, a guy came to the front, and he was handed the black, feather-adorned megaphone for an on-the spot-rehearsal. Then they said they needed a choreographer. Was there a choreographer in the house? A hand shot up near the back and they had someone to design a few cute little steps, the organic version of the Hokey-Pokey. Oh, and there would be SurvivaBalls involved -- these huge inflated things that are supposed to enable corporate executives to survive floods, famines, pestilences, earthquakes and assault (in the event of climate change disasters). Using SurvivaBalls, the Yes Men had recently attempted to take the United Nations by sea, floating down the East River; only to be stopped by the NYPD five minutes later.

Planet Waves
Audience participation: moviegoers transform into activists, take to the streets, and head east on Houston Street towards the Whole Foods Market. Photo by Eric Francis / Planet Waves.
Then the audience of about 150 got up, filed out of the theater, and headed east on Houston Street, toward the Bowery. I knew the Uranus-Pluto square of 2012 had begun. It was time to fight the power, in an organic foods store. We stopped for one last strategy session about two blocks away. The SurvivaBalls would need to discreetly take their positions various places, and would need time to suit up and inflate. (They are inflated with fans, and if the battery pack is charged, this can take as little as one minute. But it takes longer to suit up.) Everyone else would need to nonchalantly walk around the store, pretending to shop. Then we would hear the announcement and gather in the back and start the protest.

I was tracking Mike, who had taken off his ridiculous black helmet and was still wearing his lab coat. He put the black, feather-adorned megaphone into a shopping cart, picked up a few squash, set them down in the basket, and marched past the dairy aisle. Others walked into the store and feigned shopping. Hardly any of these people looked like they had ever been to a protest before; now they were stealthily congregating next to the non-GMO tortilla chips, waiting for the moment of action, wondering if they should pick up a few groceries for the weekend.

At one point, a security guard, catching onto the fact that something, um, unusual was going on, questioned me about my cameras, and instructed me not to take pictures in the store. "Oh, I would never take pictures here, I'm just a regular working guy on the way home from a busy day, doin' a little shopping."

"Who do you work for?"

"The New York Times." I flipped out my Ulster County Sheriff press card, which he didn't bother to read. Crisis avoided.

Planet Waves
Andy Bichlbaum convenes a last minute strategy session in the dairy aisle of Whole Foods market on Houston Street. Photo by Eric Francis.
Several people asked me what was going to happen and what they should do; I said that this was the Yes Men moment. Their actions begin with an impeccable, carefully developed plan. Then things seem to fall apart. Then at the last second, it comes off flawlessly.

Suddenly we heard the announcement, coming from over near the salad bar. Loud and crackly and a bit obnoxious. ATTENTION SHOPPERS, THERE'S A SPILL IN THE HEALTH CARE AISLE.

Then the song and dance began, with drums, a bagpipe, clapping, and three adorable, enormous white critters waddling around. And the cameras and video cameras everywhere, more high-end Canons and Nikons than at a fashion show. And iPhones, cell phones and BlackBerries. I left a cell connection open to my friend Amanda in Maine, with the phone clipped to my camera strap, so she could hear the antics live. This was clearly the best documented supermarket takeover in history.

Hey, Mackey, you're a swine, you're a swine, you blow my mind
Hey, Mackey, what a pity you don't seem to care...
Oh what you do Mackey, do Mackey.
Don't break my heart, Mackey.

The mob moved toward the bakery aisle, and made a left at the kambucha. Security was now, finally, onto the plan. Guards and managers with walkie-talkies weren't sure how to handle this. Technically, it was potentially a terrorist situation, and there were all these...cameras everywhere. People brazenly disobeying the "no photos" rule. This more than anything seemed to push them to the brink of panic. They looked extremely nervous. Some of the employees thought it was first-class funny. One of the guards tried to convince Bichlbaum to, well, convince him of something, but nobody stopped singing. It just seemed to go on and on.

The lyric sheet said to "repeat ad nauseam until real health care reform is passed," and it actually seemed like it might last that long. But finally, we filed out into the street, everyone giddy. It had gone off impeccably. The SurvivaBall people unsuited. New York City police were buzzing around, wondering what to do; obviously they had been called by the store management. What exactly did they say? "It's the Big Fig, only...he's white...and there's a bagpipe..."

Planet Waves
The thrill of victory: SurvivaBall wearer outside Whole Foods. This product is allegedly made by Halliburton. Photo by Eric Francis.
Basically, the Yes Men had succeeded in getting everyone into their movie. Yet again. This is their specialty; and in truth, a Whole Foods was easy pickin'. They have taken on some big gorillas.

In what I often describe as the greatest prank in media history, Bichlbaum once impersonated a spokesman for Dow Chemical and, speaking to a live global audience on BBC World on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster in India, said the company was taking full responsibility for the toxic release and cleanup. Bhopal is considered one of the worst industrial catastrophes in history and has still not been remediated.

Dow Chemical had recently purchased Union Carbide, the perpetrator, for $12 billion, and for an incredible, uninterrupted five-and-a-half minutes Bichlbaum (using his alias Jude Finisterra) described how Union Carbide would be liquidated and the proceeds given to the toxic exposure victims. He added that Dow would open all of its product safety files to journalists and researchers and enter a phase of total transparency. Dow stock plunged 3% that day, costing shareholders billions.

But the Yes Men were not done. They went back to Andy's apartment in Paris and, using Dow Chemical letterhead, issued a press release that said: what you just saw on BBC World was a hoax; none of it is true. We will not be cleaning up the site, we won't be giving more money to Bhopal victims, we won't be opening up our files -- denying everything, point by point, upstaging Dow's own PR department.

"We target people we see as criminals, and we steal their identity to try to make them honest," explained Bonanno. Their Bhopal stunt on BBC World resulted in 600 articles appearing in the mainstream press; apparently, this is what it takes to get the media to cover something as important as the 20th anniversary of an industrial disaster that killed tens of thousands of people.

Planet Waves
Andy Bichlbaum poses as Dow Chemical spokesman on BBC World, taking full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster, which killed 25,000 people in 1984.
"You can't help but fall in love with them," said Paul Rapp, a Massachusetts attorney who has represented them and who helps from time to time. "They don't do any harm, they're provocative and they're as ballsy as they come."

The Yes Men got their start after acquiring the Internet domain GATT.org (a reference to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) where they posted a parody of a World Trade Organization website. "People looked at the site and didn't look at the content," Rapp explained. He said Michael Moore was one of the contributors, among other gifted satire writers.

Soon after, the Yes Men were contacted to make a presentation at a textiles conference in Helsinki, Finland, where they appeared as representatives of the WTO. In other words, in their first major coup, they were invited to the conference; they didn't have to fake anything. "It landed in their laps and they said let's go," Rapp said.

"They went to Helsinki and advocated slavery. Nobody protested. They all took notes and then had lunch."

It wasn't until the Vivoleum hoax in 2007 that they actually were stopped. They got on the agenda at the Calgary Gas and Oil Exposition representing ExxonMobil, introducing a new product. "As humans begin to die as a result of calamities caused by climate change, their remains could be harvested for an alternative fuel source called 'Vivoleum' that would eventually replace oil," Bichlbaum told the audience of oil execs from around the world.

They passed around lit candles purportedly made from the remains of a fictional Exxon maintenance employee named Reggie Watts, who died after responding to a toxic spill. They played a video tribute to Reggie, but by that time, security was escorting them out of the room. The owners of the conference called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who thought it was so funny they refused to arrest them. But the managers of the conference were infuriated and insisted that charges be pressed. According to Rapp, the Mounties recommended Canadian attorneys to defend them.

Now that we know who they are, let's take a look at their charts. I obtained the birth information directly from each of them in the past few days; I am publishing the charts but not the birth data so that nobody steals their identities. The rest of this article includes a technical discussion; not everyone will be up to it but nobody is allowed to complain. If you're a beginning student or even curious about astrology, try to follow along. I'm giving the details rather than just interpretations; and a discussion will be initiated Friday morning on the Planet Waves blog.

Right away, we see they have three important things in common. First, they're born in the 1960s. Bonanno is born in 1968 and Bichlbaum is born in 1963. Here, we have a rare example of people living out the radical astrology of that era, which has its roots in the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo. Both men have that rare aspect in full force, and interestingly both have it in the 11th house -- the house of community and the public. They feel that influence working in the public sphere, and are gathering energy and goodwill as a result of using that energy wisely and for the public good.

Rick Tarnas in his book Cosmos and Psyche said that in his astrological study of history, people born with one of the major Uranus-Pluto aspects find their place in history when the next one arrives -- which it's doing at the moment: the Uranus-Pluto square that's coming into focus and which begins to reach full strength in the spring. (I'll show this aspect influences all the signs in the 2010 annual edition of Planet Waves, Cosmic Confidential.)

Planet Waves
Andy Bichlbaum leads the anti-corporate choir in Whole Foods. Photo by Eric Francis.
The second thing they have in common is nearly the same ascendant; not just Scorpio rising, but within one degree: Bonanno has 2+ Scorpio rising and Bichlbaum has 3+ Scorpio rising; they are exact to within one degree of precision. When people have the same ascendant, it's easy for them to share a worldview. Regardless of what year they were born, they experience the passage of planets through the houses at the same time. Mars rules the ascendant of both charts; but if you look at their Mars placements, they are nearly in exact opposition, to within one degree.

Third, Bonanno has seven planets and points in Aries (innovative, bold, self-aware) and Bichlbaum has five planets and points in Libra (a drive for justice and talent for making things beautiful). Both men are artists and designers. They have bold alignments in the cardinal signs that mirror one another, and when you see them in action, that's how it feels. Like many talented actors who work closely together, they can anticipate one another's moves, communicate without needing too many words, and function as a unit without sacrificing their individuality. (In an interesting parallel to their opposite Sun placements, Andy is born on the West Coast, in LA, and Mike is born on the East Coast, in NY.)

I gave the charts to Tracy Delaney at Serennu.com to find the coolest minor planet placements. In her view, this involved Ixion, a small planet just beyond Pluto's orbit; and Ceres, the former asteroid. Both Mike and Andy have these two points placed prominently. Ceres deals with food, nourishment, grief and processes that create or restore balance. Ixion is all about morality and morality plays.

"Mike has Ixion exactly rising, and Andy has Ixion conjunct Moon. Both have Ceres in the 12th house, conjunct the ascendant," she wrote.

"Ceres/Ixion is a good description for environmental atrocities. Ixion is also 'capable of anything' as you often say. They seem to be bringing out the delineation for us: 'going way too far', 'shocking behaviour', etc. Nice to see Ixion can be expressed so positively."

Planet Waves
SurvivaBall wearing protester waddles out of the store. Photo by Eric Francis.
As I described in the Mighty Equinox edition, over the next few years, potent planetary energy moves into the cardinal signs. This began with Pluto moving into Capricorn in 2008-2009, and will continue with Saturn moving into Libra later in the month. By next spring, Jupiter and Uranus make visits to Aries (including an exact conjunction on the Aries Point), and the trend will continue with Mars entering Libra over the summer. This energy only builds from here, and the Yes Men are all but assured a continued rise to prominence.

The obvious question, though, is what gives them the ability to do what they do? That is to say, imposter nearly anyone and walk through walls? And get away with it over and over?

Bichlbaum's chart gives the first and perhaps the best clues. He has a loaded 12th house, which makes him not just a natural born actor, but also a talented shapeshifter.

Take a look at his 1st house -- four points in Scorpio, in particular a Mars-Neptune conjunction. Anyone with this conjunction is going to have an intense life. They have a visionary quality, which could manifest as anything from a gift for filmmaking, poetry, photography, and a tendency to take very big risks. They're not afraid to risk it all if they have to; it's been described as Kamikaze. And that's exactly what the Yes Men do: they dive in headlong, and see what happens.

But Bichlbaum works with a plan; he is a master of the game. He has the asteroid Pallas Athene precisely conjunct the Sun, which gives him an innate understanding of politics, law, strategy and plenty of protection. I think he's actually going to end up at the negotiating table on behalf of the public when the climate change endgame arrives.

Planet Waves
No arrests; no teargas; no nonlethal weapons, Tasers or paramilitary cops. Photo by Eric Francis.
Bonanno has a chart of a different color: it's difficult to pack more Aries into one horoscope than he has. This gives him initiative and inventiveness -- and in the 6th house a strong drive to service. This is Aries at its best: self-awareness, self-confidence and devotion to getting the job done. Bonanno is capable of nearly infinite amounts of work, which he mingles with a quest for pioneering adventure. Check out his Chiron directly on the Aries Point, to the degree. It will be interesting to see how his career develops when that Jupiter-Uranus conjunction happens there on June 8.

Bonanno is born between a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse (you can tell, in part, because his Sun is on one of the lunar nodes). Being born during or even near eclipses gives the feeling of living with the hand of fate on one's shoulder, it can make one's life seem larger than life, and can grant access to a wide public.

He has a chart that pulls the Sixties astrology into full focus: check out the sextile between Neptune and Uranus (with a 25 next to each of them), and the Sun showing up at the point of a yod (at 26 degrees of Aries).

Remember as you study these charts, these are talented men who are responding to the times in which they live. They have determined to put their natural gifts to work for a purpose. Notably, neither has "given up a career" to do this work; both currently work as university professors.

We all have gifts. The Yes Men are rising to the occasion of history, and they are in tune with the times: the only people who can tell the truth have a sense of humor. Their message actually seems to be getting through, and now they're movie stars. As Paul Rapp, their sometimes lawyer said yesterday, "It's easier to get people to see your way of thinking when you get them to laugh rather than throw bricks at them. That's just human nature."

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis
PS, readers in the New York area are invited to meet me Saturday for the 6:15 showing of The Yes Men Fix the World. This will be at the Film Forum in Manhattan, on West Houston reet west of 6th Ave. Note, it would be smart to purchase tickets online in advance! For directions and other information you can call the theater at (212) 727-8110. I'll get there by about 5:30 pm and I plan to go out for dinner somewhere afterwards. If you plan to be there, please drop me a note at dreams@planetwaves.net. I'm planning to bring my dad, who is a nuclear industry public relations specialist.

As Good As A Feast
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

I've been thinking about endurance; it's not a happy word in this current sociopolitical climate. It conjures up visions of trudging onward, making do, standing against the storm. It often assumes that those who endure have some magical capacity to withstand any perceived loss or happenstance, no matter how grim, and emerge unscathed; that they are muscled and boned a bit differently than much of frail humanity, that they have an extra bit of oomph that the rest of us don't possess. Stuff and nonsense, of course; we're all configured with everything we need to endure and even overcome any slings or arrows aimed our way. We're not just bodies, not just a tumbled collection of wounded emotions and thwarted desires; we are all -- as Dannion Brinkley, who survived three Near Death Experiences and has written convincingly of the wisdom he received during those events, puts it -- powerful spiritual entities.

To assume that endurance requires glass-half-empty experiences that limit and diminish us pits us against the wisdom of our own life path; who can say what is random occurrence and what we've put in our own way to stumble upon, to overcome, to grow through? Kahlil Gibran tells us that, "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." Only a person who has endured and understood the journey can say, as did he, "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." In my own life, the most difficult periods plowed the ground for harvest; the greatest sorrows led me not to answers that would lull me back to sleep but to questions that pushed me forward into exploration and expanded awareness. Those who endure gather strength in increments, like mighty redwoods that add another thin ring year after year, decade after decade; or the grains of sand that slowly but surely become magnificent pearls.

Twenty-five years ago I sustained a personal trauma, a turning point in my life that set me back hard. A rather dim friend, studying to be a psychologist, told me that she 'saw the Phoenix arising' in me; that I'd be fine. Soon after, my Phoenix found itself in intensive care with viral pneumonia in both lungs; I lapsed into a coma, saw the Light, received a gentle chiding about my use of personal will and was sent back to get on with it. NDE? Assuredly. Smooth sailing on the other side of such an experience? Of course not. Brinkley, who was twice struck by lightning and suffers pain to this day, begged to be released from his body and allowed to remain on the Other Side on the occasion of all three NDEs. Our human ego, our tangled emotions, our limited self-perception are all 3D attributes that both define us and thwart our progress; endurance requires real internal work, a daily flexing of spiritual muscle that is grist for the mill of the Gods, grinding slowly and growing our beauty.

Planet Waves Daily

Coming Up in Daily Astrology and Adventure

Lunar Punch in the Face

We've come a long way since the Apollo program, when we would loft a rocket into space, land gently on the Moon, plant a flag, collect a few rocks and take some pictures for use on MTV. Today, NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) was scheduled to slam into the Cabeus crater, located close to the Moon's south pole, at 7:31 am ET.

The event was broadcast live on NASA TV, which will doubtless replay the video more often than a Billy Mays commercial in heavy rotation. If that's not enough, you can watch it over and over on your iPhone.

So what's up with this intentional crash landing? Well, the "punch in the nose," as the wags at SpaceNews.com put it, will enable NASA to determine what's in the soil of the lunar surface at that point. The way you do that is you make a big plume of dust and then you analyze it using spectrometry, among other things. All this talk about water up there -- well, we just had to dive in.

Knowing what resources are there will help NASA determine where to establish landing sites in the long run, should they return men to the Moon. And who knows, maybe there's gold; and we're going to need a place for a really big prison colony; and a staging area for deep space travel; and so on.

According to NASA's website for LCROSS, the exercise is a two-stage operation. First, a rocket that the mythically clueless wonders have called Centaur, will slam into the Moon, sending up a debris plume that may reach 10 kilometers in height. Up above, the LCROSS mothership will first photograph the whole thing and stream video directly back to NASA, then pass through the plume and analyze the debris. What's NASA looking for, specifically? Signs of water and "water fragments" (OH molecules), as well as salts, clays, minerals and organic bits and bobs.

Then the mothership herself will strike the surface, creating a second debris plume. That will be examined by the Hubble Space Telescope -- as well as, NASA hopes, hundreds or thousands of backyard astronomers with 10-inch or larger telescopes, which should be capable of spotting the action from planetside. Once is never enough.

A Ring for Phoebe

One of the most alluring things about space is that because of its very vastness, it's possible for truly enormous things to effectively be hidden in plain sight for centuries, even millennia. Then, one day, some clever stargazers think of a new way to look at part of the sky that's been stared at countless times before, and suddenly something truly magnificent appears.

Planet Waves
An enormous ring discovered in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The yellow line shows the orbit of the moon Phoebe, which circles through the newfound ring, represented in tan. Both Phoebe and the outer ring orbit at an angle of 27 degrees from the main ring plane (they also orbit in the opposite direction of the other rings and most of the moons). Credit: NASA.
This week, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working with the Spitzer Space Telescope, identified a new ring around Saturn -- a ring so vast that its size is hard to comprehend.

The inside edge of this ring is some 3.7 million miles away from Saturn, and the ring itself is 7.4 million miles wide. It's not very dense; at 20 particles per cubic centimeter, you couldn't walk around on it. That's reason it wasn't spotted sooner. Within it orbits Saturn's moon Phoebe, which is one of the planet's most distant satellites; both Phoebe and the ring, in fact, orbit in the opposite direction of the rest of the moons and rings.

The ring was found by University of Virginia-Charlottesville astronomer Anne Verbiscer and her colleagues, who used the Spitzer Telescope's infrared imaging system to identify the giant ring. According to the JPL website's article on the discovery, infrared was the key to finding the ring.

"The ring would be difficult to see with visible-light telescopes," the article reads. "Its particles are diffuse and may even extend beyond the bulk of the ring material all the way in to Saturn and all the way out to interplanetary space. The relatively small numbers of particles in the ring wouldn't reflect much visible light, especially out at Saturn where sunlight is weak."

Added Verbiscer: "The particles are so far apart that if you were to stand in the ring, you wouldn't even know it." Of course, he means "float around in the ring."

Another Saturnian mystery may have been solved by the discovery of the new ring, as well. Back in 1671, the astronomer discovered a Saturn moon he named Iapetus, and several years later he noted the moon has a giant dark spot on it. Now it's suspected that the spot was created by impacts of materials from the ring on Iapetus, "slamming the icy moon like bugs on a windshield," according to JPL.

The first thing most astrology readers are going to ask is: what is the implication for astrology? My reply: the solar system, which makes up most of our symbolic set of references for the astrology we do, is a work in progress. We hardly know anything about it.

It's remarkable that this discovery is announced just as Mercury was making a conjunction to Saturn, in aspect to the Galactic Core (see Wednesday's daily astrology post). This is a message from Saturn. And it's about the galactic nature of Saturn (for eons, thought to be the outermost planet): this ring has the distinct image of a galaxy, a far-flung plane of dust.

The ring also does something a little like Pluto or a Centaur planet: it intersects the plane of Saturn's traditionally referenced rings at an angle. Pluto's angle of intersection the Sun's equator is about 11 degrees. This ring intersects at about 27 degrees. So there's a mystery. If some force is holding the other rings in place where they are, some other previously unknown force is holding this one in place. That raises more questions than it provides answers, though one implication is that this is how Saturn works in astrology as well. It has another influence than the one we think it has.

World Weather: Mudslides Compound Earthquake Woes

The Indonesian island of Sumatra, devastated by a powerful earthquake Sept. 30, was dealt further blows in the following days as huge mudslides ripped through some areas. According to The New York Times, as many as 600 people were buried by landslides after the earthquake, taking the estimated death toll well past the 1,100 previously reported.

On Thursday, Typhoon Melor continued its creep northward through Japan's minor islands, heading for the main land masses and threatening heavy rains and high winds. The Tokai region was expected to receive more than 15 inches of rain Thursday, prompting Toyota to shut down its manufacturing plants in the area around the city of Nagoya, Japan's third-largest city.

Meanwhile, in India a week of flooding has left more than 250 people dead in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, located in the country's southern region. More than 2 million people fled their homes during the inundation, MSNBC reports.

And Southern California was on the good side of a cold snap this week, as temperatures dipped 10 to 15 degrees below normal  and winds died down -- all boons to firefighters who were working to contain the 7,100-acre Sheep Fire that had been raging through the mountains, timber, and chaparral -- not to mention communities -- in the San Bernardino National Forest.

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Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, October 9, 2009, #787 - BY ERIC FRANCIS

Planet Waves
Aries (March 20-April 19)
Most people strive for stability in their relationships, which is good until it gets boring. Elements of your work life may be influencing you to seek a little jolt of excitement elsewhere, but be gentle on the people you love. You have an opportunity to see how far your insecurities will allow you to go. You've been sensitive lately; the past seems very close by, and your fears seem easily provoked. Confidence is most meaningful to dial in when you're feeling less than confident, which is one of those emotional paradoxes that works brilliantly when you get a handle on it. Remember, if you're feeling fear, give the fear a voice. Pay attention if you notice yourself shaking things up for their own sake. True intimacy happens on the uncertain edge, and you're close to it now.

Planet Waves
Taurus (April 19- May 20)
You seem to be doing a lot of negotiating with yourself about whether to take a risk on something; though what you've left out of the conversation is a real assessment of what that risk actually is. It's too easy and entirely popular to think, This is too risky, but rarely do we ask what we have to lose. This question would help whether we have plenty to lose or, as is more likely the case for you now, very little to lose by allowing yourself to experiment. Well, the one thing you stand to lose is a false belief that someone else is in charge of your life. Nobody wants to think this; usually it comes up in the form of excuses that all cook down to some version of, "If I try this, my mother won't approve of me." And then?

Planet Waves
Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Mercury is about to become free of its retrograde in Virgo, a transit that has made progress seem like a thing of the past. The process has certainly given you plenty to meditate on, and you may be wondering if you're any better for having gone through so much mental and emotional introspection. I suggest that you not try to make up your mind about this right now; try to avoid judging anything at all. Simply move forward and see where you end up in a few weeks. For a while you'll still be covering what seems like old territory, doing some things over and rethinking history yet again. You'll notice the difference vividly when you arrive in new territory, and that's the time to keep your focus on what is new and what you're creating.

Planet Waves
Cancer (June 21- July 22)
The question "What is a self?" is an old one, yet few people have answered it for themselves. If we ask what is a man or what is a woman, the answer is part biological fact and part social concept; a construction with no truth anywhere but in our minds -- and thus open to interpretation. You're at a point where it's become necessary to let go of a model or concept of who you think you are. Yet it would be wise of you not to confuse this with who you actually are. The past can be a tyrant, all the more so because we tend to be out of contact with it, or discount its influence. There's a way to deal with the past effectively: with total awareness. If you do that, you can trust that the choices you make now will indeed have the power to help you change your life.

Planet Waves
Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Who hasn't looked at a cat and wondered what's going on in that mind? In the secret life of Leo, you're harder on yourself than nearly anyone recognizes. I reckon that in the past week you've had a revelation or two about why that doesn't work, and as the next couple of weeks progress, you'll be gifted with some ideas about a better policy by which you can run your life. I'm not suggesting that you suspend your ethics, which serve you well; I am proposing that most self-improvement is less about 'working on yourself' and more about making up your mind about what you want and what is right for you. Contrary to some astrological rumors you are not a selfish person by nature, though you need to be just selfish enough to take care of yourself well.

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Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
You often torment yourself with the details, but not like this. However, you do seem to be working your way toward the conclusion of a process that has lingered since midsummer. I would remind you that you're not working on anything but yourself. Here's a little exercise that I learned from uber-Virgo Brad Blanton, author of Radical Honesty. Every time you say the word "it," get rid of the T. That would mean that "it's difficult" translates to "I am difficult." "It's expensive" would translate to "I am expensive" and "It's nice out" would become "I feel good today." As you play this game, you'll start to notice how much projecting you, me and the rest of us do. Once you do that, you can start to claim your reality as something you create or at least witness on your own terms.

Planet Waves
Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
We tend to view having a strategy as a good thing, and sometimes it is. Yet sometimes having a plan isolates us from being spontaneous, which is one of those things that allow for authenticity and intimacy. The fact that you're being so conscious of your plans seems to be born out of a missing sense of your own existence. True, you've been dragged through quite a lot the past week, but that hasn't given you an actual sense of who you are; though hopefully it's offered a clue as to what's missing. Each time you find yourself making a strategy, pause and ask yourself what you really want. If you find yourself being mentally defensive and trying to ward off dangers that don't exist yet, stop and ask again. Let the answers guide you.

Planet Waves
Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
You seem to be enmeshed in an old belief that you're trying to get rid of and thus improve your life. Some make it sound like it's the easiest thing in the world: change your beliefs and change your life! Most of us know it's not that easy. Usually, we have no clue what we believe, much less why. If you look honestly, you may discover that you're hooked in emotionally rather than intellectually; and that the root comes from a hidden pattern that you picked up from your family, which is in turn rooted in religion. I would propose that most religious beliefs are emotional rather than spiritual in nature. Whether they are true doesn't matter. That we feel better for a moment is the goal, and it's one that's no longer serving you.

Planet Waves
Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Jupiter, the planet associated with your sign, is sitting close to a halt in Aquarius. This tells me that an idea is getting ready to either start moving, or come to fruition. Anyone involved in the actual manifestation of ideas, which is probably something you attempt on a regular basis and even succeed at, knows that they seem to take on a life of their own. To the extent that life has included a lot of sleeping in, walking backwards and irritating your friends, it now seems ready to include progress, utility and a bit of fun. There's not a rush here -- some of the best stuff on its way, especially in the concept/project department, develops over the next six months. All of it grows from what you've been up to lately, and what you are doing now. Therefore, take one step at a time, and the occasional opportunity for a leap.

Planet Waves
Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
If you perceive yourself in danger, remember that you're protected. This protection won't get you too far into a string of felonies, but it will support and embrace you when you know you're doing the right thing for yourself and for the people you love. Herein lies a slippery matter, though: what if there's a conflict between the two? What if doing the right thing for yourself hurts others? The truth is, most of the time it does not. Something else is going on: not only are you being given an opportunity to see your fears for what they are, you have an opportunity to see your strengths for what they can do for you. Remember, as so many do not, that there's a difference between a fear and a crisis.

Planet Waves
Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Someone just pointed out to me that one manifestation of the Age of Aquarius (a very long age lasting 2,000 years, and a relatively short one of lots of planetary energy coming through your birth sign in our current era of history) is that everyone has to endorse everyone else or nobody believes anything is valid. We know this is more ridiculous evidence of how much trouble many people have thinking for themselves, a trait so rare few people even have a clue. I would pose two questions this week: one is how can you take a ride on this property of existence in a constructive way? Second, can you bring awareness to your own struggle in thinking for yourself? Or put another way, have you signed up anyone to run your life?

Planet Waves
Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
This has not been an easy stretch of your life in certain close relationships, but you're no worse for wear. In fact, the clarity you've gained has been worth all the effort. You may be lacking the angst and the drama of recent months, but that's not a substitute for happiness. You can handle a crisis, but I assure you that you would not prefer them if you had an alternative, and you're now being invited to give yourself precisely that. You are about to enter new territory in your personal and sexual relationships. The way to maximize this astrology is to look for points of agreement you share with people, and work from there. If you have similar ideas about food, eat together. If you have values in common about money, do business. If you share common ground about sex, create some sex.

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