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The Radical Notion that Men Are People

Dear Friend and Reader:

Mars stations direct in Libra on Monday, after being retrograde since March 1. In modern astrology, Mars is the planet of desire, motivation, drive, impetus, volition and aggression, named for the Roman god of war.

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Photo by Charlie Lemay.
Our society has Mars issues. We have too many wars. We spend too much money on wars, on police and on imprisoning people. We also don't know the difference between need and want. We tend to want what hurts us and not want what helps us.

Mars is also about men. We train our men to be warriors, then seem surprised when they act like them.

The Mars retrograde journey has stirred up many questions, rocked the boat of relationships and shaken up the life orientation of many people I've heard from. Mars retrograde at its best is a study in desire: in getting clear about what you want and why you want it.

Certain events in astrology sum up an entire era, and Mars stationing direct is like the distilled essence of everything that's happened all year. Think of this as Mars holding a message or secret of some sort, and it's about to choose its moment and reveal it. That message will reveal something about what we've been through these unusually intense and strange months. I have a sense that something deeply introspective, some long-silent inner voice, will reveal its truth as Mars shifts polarities.

Yet because this particular Mars retrograde involved the Uranus-Pluto square, an aspect that describes the culmination point of an entire generation, there's information on tap that reveals something about our current phase of history. The Uranus-Pluto square is the second great turning point of our century, the first being the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001-2002 that arrived with 9/11 and two of the longest wars in U.S. history. One thing we have with Uranus-Pluto is the opportunity to reverse much that went wrong during Saturn-Pluto.

Because Mars is now in the spotlight, I think this would be a good time to comment on men and maleness. Back in April, Amanda Painter quipped that Mars running retrograde in Libra, the sign ruled by Venus, would delve so far into Libra that it would produce the first fully transgender planet. She gave language to something I'd been trying to put into words for months: this is a transformation experience for Mars and all things martian and male.

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During my coverage of Mars retrograde and related gender studies issues, several women have asked me what I have to say to men. But first I have something to say to everyone: men are people.

I say this because men are currently blamed for all of the world's problems. This is so prevalent that it's seemingly an unquestionable truth, perceived to be a fact of nature. Everything bad that happens is allegedly a man's fault. I don't deny the existence of the patriarchy, but it consists of a far more complex set of dynamics than most descriptions you will see.

The shape-shifting Archetypal Bad Man morphs from oil company CEO into the misogynist frat boy to the serial rapist into the emotional or sexual abuser to the womanizer to the psychological infant to the terrorist/active shooter to the deadbeat dad to the guy who will stick it anywhere to the state governor shutting down women's reproductive health services to the human trafficker to the hypocritical preacher, politician or warmonger.

Let's not forget the generic asshole, the jerk of a boss, the drunk, the guy who never puts the toilet seat up (or down), the dude who loves his car more than his girlfriend or children and your everyday inhabitant of the fragile male ego.

The presence of the Archetypal Bad Man, the one whose values and conduct are so base he's not worth bothering with or acknowledging, or worse, not considered human, is looming everywhere. As a result, everyone with a penis is at least a little suspect.

Not everyone feels this way. But enough people do, including many men, that it's time we take notice of the prejudice, and notice that it's not helping anything. It's not making the world a better place nor is it helping anyone be more enlightened.

These men all exist somewhere. They all have their female counterparts. It seems to be that society's problems are a human thing rather than a male thing. Yet the open and casual derision with which men are spoken of in our era is impressive, if one is able to notice. There's not a commonly-known word for this. Who has seen the word 'misandry' in print or heard it in school? Who could define it without a dictionary? Does it have anywhere near the connotation of 'misogyny'?

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If you are a man, you may find it extremely difficult not to take on some of this projection. However, I suggest you make a conscious choice of not taking responsibility for what you didn't do, that which is not yours or for who you are not. You don't have to accept the projections of others, especially those that would in any way deprive you of your humanity.

Yet at the same time you, like any other human, must evaluate yourself, and determine what is in fact yours -- and not because someone said so. You will only know what is yours if you search your soul. That is the essence of personhood. Personhood is not a destination. It's a process, and a lifelong journey.

Being a man has special demands in our society; being a man is a slight twist on being a person, as is being a woman.

I have some other suggestions for men and those people becoming men, which I would offer for all humans in search of their personhood. I offer these as ideas for your consideration, not as necessities or requirements. As ideas, they are focused on facilitating development into what you might describe as a self-actualized state. [Here is a discussion forum for this article.]

Get to know yourself. I know, this seems obvious -- but it's necessary to say in a society that is so committed to depriving people of self-knowledge, and where there are so many opportunities to forget. There exists a taboo against knowing who you are. Self-knowledge is considered a dangerous thing. Among those who lack self-knowledge, it certainly is. It's also an essential ingredient in freedom and the responsibility that comes with it. Knowing yourself is the ever-ripening fruit of a relationship with yourself.

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Focus on your growth. Growth isn't just for little kids, puppies and kittens. Psychologically and emotionally, I would propose that growth has three basic elements: maturity, confidence and self-esteem. These are different things, they are all closely related and they are all related to honesty. There's a severe shortage of these things in our society. They are equally meaningful, though I would say that of the three, the self-esteem crisis is one of the most serious issues facing our culture. Part of the problem is it's not easy to notice one's own lack of self-esteem. You may have to deduce it from your confidence and maturity levels (which are easier to see), or by noticing how you let others treat you. You can also see it in the value that you place upon yourself in your interactions with others. Once you notice your actual self-esteem level, it's easier to address in some constructive way. It's very unlikely to just "fix itself." It's something that you have to focus on.

Know what you don't know. If you are clueless, that will make this fact all the more challenging to ascertain. Figuring out how little you know is one of the most liberating experiences of life. Ignorance, which has as its root the word "ignore" -- an intentional, even forceful act -- is not an excuse for anything. Its vast popularity is no excuse, either. That is different from lack of knowledge. To address that, you have to figure out what you don't know. This takes special sensitivity, because you need to notice your voids of knowledge without judging yourself. When you know you don't know something, and you can admit that fact, then you can find out what you need to know. This is called intelligence. The more intelligent you are, the less prejudiced you will be. Prejudice is the result of not knowing when you don't know (whatever).

Learn to look after yourself. By this I mean acquiring basic life skills that are quickly being forgotten in our "service-oriented" society. Learn how to shop for food, how to prepare meals and how to establish and take care of your home. Learn how to wash your clothes and keep your house at least vaguely orderly. Learn how to take care of your body. Many men believe that it's a woman's role to do all of this for them. You're not learning this for their sake, however, you're learning it for your own sake. If you're terrible at cleaning or can't stand doing it, then learn to make enough money to hire a professional; that counts as self-care. Speaking of money, learn to organize yours, and to have a healthy relationship with it. Your money is your power. It's not your only power but it's one of the most important kinds. Know how much you have at all times, and look after it and measure every purchase on its investment value. In our society, functionality with money is one of the most essential ingredients in looking after yourself and one of the most obvious failings of people who might otherwise be successful and productive.

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Photo by Charlie Lemay.
Focus and master your talents. Pursue what you are good at, what is useful and what gives you pleasure. Note that some skills are to some people less "fun" but are also essential to a good life. You might not like filing taxes, but if you're good at it you have a distinct advantage. Our society has gone through a profound deskilling in recent decades. Most of your friends will spend most of their free time entertaining themselves. Obviously some amusement is necessary. However, humans stop growing when they stop learning. I suggest you spend a significant portion of your time building your skills and accumulating knowledge, and putting them to use. This will make you a more well-rounded, self-reliant and overall useful and productive person.

Take care of your health. This is a key aspect of looking after yourself -- indeed, the most important. All the things you know can hurt you actually do. If you work with chemicals, know what they are and what they do -- don't believe any claims of innocence by your company or by your boss. If you smoke, you are contaminating every cell in your body with every single drag of every cigarette -- smoking is that efficient. The cigarettes you smoke are also deadly to the people you come into contact with (second-hand smoke) and the people they come into contact with (third-hand smoke). To quit, you may need to figure out why you smoke in the first place. If you drink alcohol habitually, there's a reason for that too. You're literally consuming and expending the resources of your liver, of which you have but one. Note, if you want to preserve or improve your health, and have a good quality of life, you have to eat real food, which means knowing how to shop and prepare food. Additional note: I suggest you discover the extreme virtues of dental floss.

Beware of doctors and hospitals. The medical profession can do some excellent work and has made many strides in recent decades -- and it also needs to be approached with extreme caution. Many people leave hospitals sicker than they went in. (I suggest you look up the word nosocomial.) On all medical matters affecting you or your loved ones, I suggest you get two opinions on things that seem minor and at least three on things that seem more important. Most significantly, use your intuition. Doctors will want to prescribe or inject you with drugs they may not have fully researched. (Please look up the word iatrogenic.) It is up to you to understand what is being put into your body. Don't be afraid to stop the show and seek additional information the moment you don't understand something. It's worth mentioning that there exist many forms of complimentary or alternative care, often disavowed by the medical profession for reasons of competition. A good homeopath can help you resolve an issue that most medical doctors cannot diagnose. However, you must do your homework choosing an approach and a practitioner.

Learn to take care of women's bodies. If you're a man who has physical relationships with women, it's essential that you actually understand something about what a female body is and why it needs special care. Women's bodies are resilient, amazingly strong and do all kinds of fun and biologically fantastic things that men's bodies don't do. They're also more sensitive and more challenging to maintain. Rise above any ignorance and squeamishness you may have, or any sense that the woman's body is some alien "other." Get yourself a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and read it carefully. Ask the women in your life about the special care that their particular bodies need. You would be amazed at the subtlety, the detail and most of all at how much you did not know before.

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Photo by Charlie Lemay.
Learn to negotiate sexual consent. That means having an authentic conversation in a sober state about what both partners want and whether sex is appropriate for you both at that particular time. This includes being real about your sexual history. Sex is negotiated on a per-event basis, not as a standing contract -- even with your fiancee or wife. We are rapidly heading back into the time when there is no such thing as clear yes or clear no, but you don't need to go there. There's a lot more sex available without the integrity of a clear yes or clear no, but I don't suggest it's the kind of sex you want, and you can get in serious trouble without clarity. I would propose that you want to relate to people who are excited about you, for whom yes is clear, honest and real. That puts a filter up -- one made of respect and self-respect.

Keep it covered. Presume that all sex will include a condom, unless you specifically plan to create a child. You are responsible for the destiny of every single sperm cell your body produces. You are responsible for any pregnancy that you co-create. It does not matter if a woman says she is using birth control. Everyone needs to bring their own birth control to the table, and not put it off on anyone else. That means you, in the first instance. You are also responsible for any sexually transmitted infections that you pass along, or that you get. Condom negotiation with you should take a grand total of no seconds, though this is not the norm. Bring your own condoms and note that many women are sensitive to latex. Ask your partner about this. While you're keeping it covered, keep your private parts -- all of them -- clean. Good hygiene is essential to healthy, friendly sexual relationships.

If you're gay, accept that fact. If you're questioning, that's OK too. Despite all the positive PR about being gay in recent years, many gay men still pretend to be ungay. If you're biologically and emotionally attracted to men and are not so attracted to women (or not attracted at all), then you're probably gay. There's no point being in denial, even if you don't understand why you are gay.

Bisexuality is normal. Having attractions to and fantasies about both men and women is normal, in the statistical sense -- it's part of the norm. Many people of both sexes experience this (far more than you might imagine), and it does not make you gay. Along the way you will meet women who have attractions to both men and women -- I suggest you treat this with the utmost respect. It's not your sex toy, and if you're ever invited into the sanctum of female-female sex, consider yourself fortunate indeed.

Deal with your homophobia. Your homophobia is not about that other guy -- it's about you. Usually homophobia has a power source, an engine of some kind running it. It's up to you to figure out what that is.

Deal with your jealousy. The partners in your life are going to have attractions to others and others are going to have attractions to them. You are going to have attractions to people other than your partner. Make room in your relationships for the simple truth of this fact. The first way to do this is for you to deal with your own jealousy, which is at its essence a control drama and death trip. Note, just because you address your jealousy does not mean that other people will address theirs. It's up to you to select enlightened partners who share your values.

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Photo by Charlie Lemay.
Your sexual desire is your property and your responsibility. It's not up to anyone else to provide you with sexual gratification. It's not the responsibility of women, no matter what anyone may say, think or put into a music video. Your most available consensual sexual outlet is masturbation. It's more than about getting off; masturbation is an expression of your relationship to yourself. If you treat it that way, all forms of sex will become more relational and more about communication.

Your partners are not your property. You are not theirs. There is much confusion about this. Our society's whole relationship model is based on the presumed ownership of other people, which is so prevalent as to be taken for granted. The concept is inherent in everything from marriage to rape. This is the source of so much misery it's impossible to measure. Both sexes are trained to do this to other people. The only solution is to be your own person and to treat others as their own person. This takes bravery, enlightenment and risking people thinking you're weird. In fact it may require some authentic stubbornness and a revolutionary spirit. So be it.

Learn to be friends with women. By that I mean learn to have friendships with women where you treat them as equals and feel respected as their equal. I don't mean 'just friends' mode; I mean friendship with a real commitment. This may necessitate keeping the sexual and romantic aspects of the relationship off to the side. I am not suggesting you deny your feelings but rather that you express them in a way appropriate for that particular situation. Friendship makes a solid foundation for other forms of relationship, and tends to be what endures the longest. Note that it's also taboo in many social circles. This is a good taboo to break.

Learn to be friends, not competitors, with other men. Despite the incorrect notion that all men always stick together, men are often viciously competitive with one another, to everyone's detriment. If you don't want to live that way, you'll need to choose male friends who don't take that approach. Cooperation gets more accomplished, and is the only thing that can build a sane and productive culture. Cooperation means getting beyond the idea that there are absolute winners and losers, not seeing your interests as separate from those of others and being a more generous person. You will feel better about yourself and about existence.

Love those who respect you. In the course of your life, you may fall in love with others who do not seem to love you back. You may put considerable energy into these seeming relationships. Unrequited love is a popular item on the menu of human diversions. This is worth looking at as early in life as possible. Who you love is your choice, and who loves you is their choice. I don't think it's possible to persuade someone to change their feelings. I suggest you cultivate a life policy of loving those who, at the very least, offer you respect, kindness and attention; and those who voluntarily offer you nourishment in some form. I have found that we tend to love who and what we take care of. This is a profound gift of human psychology, and I suggest you be open to it working in all directions.

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Photo by Charlie Lemay.
Go to therapy. Everyone in our society needs therapy. We all have childhood damage and neglect to work through, no matter how wonderful and attentive our parents were. Those injuries get in the way of happiness, success and intimacy. However, therapy is not just about dredging up the past or delving into one's unconscious motives. It's about learning to speak about one's reality and how to put one's experience up to a more objective mirror. Many men in particular feel, for some strange reason, that this is a sign of weakness, something I've never understood and which I suggest you not fall for. It's unhealthy to let things build up, and one potential reason we may see so much violence coming from men. The skills you learn from a good therapist will benefit you the rest of your life, and enhance your ability to help others in need.

Cultivate mentors. Therapy is a form of mentorship, though there are other kinds that are essential. Mentors are generally older people from whom you learn life skills, and learn about yourself. They are not ordinary friendships but rather associations with people you respect, and to whom you're willing to listen. They are relationships wherein you gain clarity and receive the gifts of someone's perspective and long experience. You get a chance to see how far you have to go, and you can get some reassurance that it's possible to actually make the journey. It's been said that a wise person is able to learn from the mistakes of others -- another reason it helps to have mentors. Along these lines, I suggest that whenever possible, you hang out with some people you suspect or are certain are much smarter than you.

Your anger is your responsibility. Anger is a natural emotion, particularly in a world with many aggravating and frustrating factors. As a matter of discipline, you can remove as many of those factors as possible, along the way to actually dealing with your anger. If you're someone who sulks, you're probably angry at your mother. Remember that in our society, men are trained to be warriors, and often have all kinds of warriors as heroes. They have superpowers, kill people with impunity and are able to act out their drive for justice or revenge. You are human and that places certain limits on you, which can be frustrating. You'll need to create healthy means to personal justice and ways to channel your warrior energy.

You don't need a gun. Guns provide a false sense of security. They also cast an eclipse over every other common sense form of avoiding or dealing with danger, from street smarts to staying away from where you don't belong to learning martial arts. If you ever have to use your gun, your life will be changed irrevocably, and unlikely for the better. If you carry large amounts of cash or jewelry as part of your work, you can probably afford to hire a security detail.

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Photo by Charlie Lemay.
You are not your father. You don't need to live up to any of his supposed expectations, and even if you do, he may not acknowledge you. Your life is your life; you are you and not anyone else. If you want the potential for a solid relationship with your father, be your own person and meet him on level ground.

You must come up with your own answers. There are many in the business of dictating right or wrong, telling you who to hate, what is moral and what rights you're supposed to have. Whether it's some relative, FOX News, a politician or a preacher, you don't need anyone telling you what to think or do. You do need to decide what to think and do, and that will take some conscious reflection and exposing yourself to a wide diversity of viewpoints.

Don't let anyone cheat you out of your passion. There are plenty who would say that to do what you want is wrong, that your sexual desire is incorrect or evil, and that what you know in the depths of your heart somehow goes against nature. Ultimately you are the only one who can give up your passion, your awareness and your freedom to choose, and these things are your birthright.

You will not live forever. Get used to that fact. Make your days, your seasons and your years count. Notice the passage of time. There are some who say you're not really alive until you have a conscious relationship with death. This relationship will help you value your time more consciously, and calculate the risks you want to take.

I have three book suggestions. These are the three books that helped me understand being and becoming a man, and understand women, more than any others. They are: Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man by Susan Faludi. They are all worth their weight in pure gold.


Here is a discussion forum for this article.

Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Tuesday and Friday morning in Kingston, New York by Planet Waves, Inc. Annual subscription rate: $99/year. Editor and Publisher: Eric Francis Coppolino. Business Manager: Chelsea Bottinelli. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Copy Editor: Jessica Keet. Research, Writing and Editing: Planet Waves is produced by a team consisting of Hillary Ghee, Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Painter, Amy Silver, Carol van Strum, Len Wallick and Chad Woodward. Special thanks to the Fact Checkers List, which goes over each edition on Thursday night -- and to our main astrology fact-checker Alex Miller, and Amanda, who goes over all their suggestions.

Charlie Lemay: About the Artist

I consider Charlie Lemay one of the great contemporary artists, and it's a privilege to have his work illustrate my writing. We met when he arrived one day many years ago as my astrology client, and I've since taken him on as one of my photography and philosophy of art (and living) mentors.

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He is both a photographer in the classical style, often using black and white film, and a digital artist, morphing his studio work into elaborate montages and triptychs that emerged one day as a nearly fully-formed deck of tarot cards.

His book, Seeing: Insights and Images, will be available shortly. I will let you know when that's ready. There are some excellent galleries on his website.

In an email this morning, Charlie wrote to me:

When I was asked in 1996 by Karen Smith to write what I thought the job of the artist was, for the digital show I was participating in, I said, "to wake up the artist, and then for the artist to wake up others." 

I stand by that still, and it seems to be indicated by the neuroscience. In the sequence of events, impulse, command, action, and rationalization, all our jobs might be to do our best to not interfere with impulse, to allow it to flow through us and be made as whole in the physical world as each of us is capable of. That may be what "getting it" is really all about. The secret of our existence might be to simply be and allow this physical manifestation of the spiritual to manifest. Our insistence on the rationalization as the reality may be the cause of all our problems. He added: All critics, like our thoughts, are late to the party and have nothing whatsoever to do with the initiating impulse. Like our conscious minds, they may actually inhibit the flow when they become the arbiters of this process. This includes our self-critic especially.

Mars Stations Direct: Planet Waves Community Forum

You are invited to a first-of-its-kind event -- a Planet Waves open forum, presented as a call-in radio program. It'll take place at 8 pm EDT on Sunday, May 18, 2014. This will be an opportunity for Planet Waves readers all over the world to hear from one another and participate in a live conversation. The focus of the discussion will be Mars stationing direct, which happens one day later. The event is free, though you'll need to preregister

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You'll be able to participate via telephone, Skype or by listening to a live stream. Internet listeners will be able to participate via a chat feature; I'll read some of those comments on the air.

We are planning to develop these events into a number of formats, including live question-and-reply sessions associated with each of the birthday readings and 12-sign reading products, and a series of astrology classes. 

Subscribers who participate in Sunday's event will be offered an upgrade path, available the first year with discounted early renewal, that will enhance their Planet Waves experience. This will include opt-ins for a daily mailing and astrology update text message service, and teleconferences on special topics open only to Planet Waves core community members (our subscribers).

I am looking forward to seeing you there. Once again, here is your link for pre-registration.


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At Long Last, Mars Stations Direct

As Mars stations direct over the next few days (exact Monday, May 19, at 9:31 pm EDT), see if you can feel the subtle shift of energy. This has not been an ordinary Mars retrograde, owing to the fact that Mars has now passed twice through alignments with the Uranus-Pluto square -- the aspect that is helping define this moment of our lives, individually and together.

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This is a brain schedule, but it's similar to a train schedule. The word LONG, above, is short for longitude. You can see the daily positions of Mars and for contrast, a far-away planet, Pluto. Notice that for about four days, Mars moves slower than Pluto. Note that this lists the retrograde as ending on May 20 because it's set for midnight Greenwich Mean Time, four hours ahead of New York time.
I've been referring to this as the cardinal grand cross. You can review my description of that aspect in this article, called A Matter of Trust.

These next few days as Mars stations are a sensitive moment. Mars in Libra seems to be hanging in the balance, about to make a decision about who it is.

There may be a subtle edginess in the air, an apprehension about what direction to take, and the sensation of many things unexpressed.

Easy does it. I describe this in greater detail in today's edition of Daily Astrology.

Mars has been retrograde in Libra, the sign opposite Aries, which it rules. So we've had many questions arise relating to role reversal, sex and gender, relationship, and matters of desire and consent. This has raised many questions related to sex roles and sexual identity, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways they influence relationships.

When Mars is retrograde, what's really happening is that the Earth has passed between Mars and the Sun. When that's happening there's a visual illusion that Mars has changed directions. Now that the Earth has moved out of that alignment, Mars will soon appear to move direct.

Yet before this happens, there is what's called a station -- Mars appears to be standing still in the sky, and in the ephemeris. For a few glorious days, Mars seems to be moving as slowly as an outer planet. In the table above, I've compared its daily position to that of Pluto. Note that the only column where either have any progress indicated is arc minutes, or sixtieths of a degree.

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Sample of my latest chart for Mars stationing direct. In my handwriting are included the points Typhon, Logos, Atropos, Child, Vulcanus, Cyllarus, Kronos, Requiem and Amor. Full chart here.
There are many ways to think of this. One is a kind of pregnant pause. Another is a delicate balancing point. Given that Mars is the planet of action and Libra is the sign of balance, there may be a decision, or many decisions, involved. There may be questions of commitment. You can scan through the different factors in your life and notice where the metaphors apply.

Mars emphasizes the matter of desire, in particular, focusing the question of what you want. So as Mars pauses in the sky, this is a good time to consider that. One of the factors is likely to be the impact of the "what you want" concept on a relationship -- that is, how you feel someone else would respond, or how they do respond.

This takes us to the identity theme in the chart: to what extent do you submit your whole identity to a relationship that you're in? For many people, their identity is dependent upon a relationship, and without one, they don't feel like a complete person. This setup is suggesting it's time to look at that issue. You may indeed be formulating your need for independence, or discovering who you really are in the context of a relationship. 

Once you have that going, then you get to experiment with "being yourself," which might mean "asserting your individual will," and seeing how that influences things. Because this whole arrangement involves Mars and Libra, there may be a specific focus on sexual desire, and on sexual or gender orientation.

While this is happening, Mercury is moving into a square aspect with Chiron. Mercury -- the original planet synonymous with mental -- is in Gemini. On one level that is the very symbol of smartness, though since Mercury is approaching a square to Chiron (exact Saturday), there are some poignant questions appearing in the chart. [Link to an introduction to Chiron.]

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Somewhat simplified chart for Mars stationing direct. Note that Mars is high in the sky across the eastern United States, and it will be visible from many other points west. If skies are clear, you can be looking at Mars while this happens. It's interesting that the Aquarius Moon is making an exact trine to Mars at the moment it stations, an image of mind-body integration that is also inherent in Mars in Libra as well.
The first is described by Mercury approaching the depth and full-spectrum sensation of Chiron in Pisces, and involves recognizing how superficial most communication is. Yet the mind that may be caught in that superficiality has a deeper question, which is about its own capacity for emotional intelligence. 

Who hasn't had the notion, "I'm not smart enough for that"? Yet with Mercury-Chiron aspects this can be a debilitating obsession. This aspect seems capable of bringing lurking doubts to the surface. The opposite of this is another prevailing state, that of being cocksure, absolutely certain of something with no basis in fact or experience. 

I would describe Mercury square Chiron as the aspect of "know when you don't know." My first words of training for young journalists, knowing when one does not know is the first step to finding out. It is the essence of intelligence. Yet in this illustration, with Chiron in Pisces, the superficial mind, the one that might be entertained by TV commercials, is encountering something on a different order of reality. 

So this is not really about facts or ideas; the encounter is more along the lines of one of those spiritual awakenings when someone one day realizes that everything they know is wrong. That would be a real point of beginning.

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Why plants move around in circles as they grow has "been a mystery since way back." Plants may be stationary but they're rarely still, says biologist Roger Hangarter. They're simply coming up with engineering solutions on their own time. Photo: Science Friday video still.
The Mystery of the Spiraling Cucumber Tendril
People born under a Taurus Sun often seem to live in a separate temporal universe, moving along at their own pace until provoked to get moving -- mirroring the often-slow emergence of Northern Hemisphere spring. Likewise, J.R.R. Tolkien once noted that while plants and animals share the same physical universe, plants seem to inhabit their own temporal universe -- but it has taken time-lapse photography for humans to get a clearer view of how that operates.
Flora Lichtman, producer of the Science Friday video series, notes that the reason behind why plants move around in circles as they grow has been a mystery since way back. Lichtman has featured the time-lapse movies of biologist Roger Hangarter, creator of the website Plants in Motion, as well as the work of physicist Sharon Gerbode and biologist Joshua Puzey, to create an entertaining explanation of how cucumber tendrils twist -- and of the broader engineering implications of the discovery.

"If you do enough time-lapse, you see that there aren't too many parts of a plant that don't move," explains Hangarter. The branches move around, the leaves wiggle around."
If you can slow your own perception down enough the next time you're with your favorite Taurus, you just might notice the same thing.

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Scorpio Full Moon, Games People Play, Millennial Generation Astrology

This week's extended edition of Planet Waves FM covers three topics. I begin with an overview of the current astrology including the Scorpio Full Moon (which was exact Wednesday), Venus passing through the grand cross and Mercury square Chiron. 

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Eric Berne, from the book jacket of Games People Play, first edition.
In the second section, I look at the work and the astrology of Dr. Eric Berne, innovator of transactional analysis. This is the 50th anniversary of the book Games People Play, and Dr. Berne's 114th birth anniversary was this past weekend on May 10. 

Dr. Berne was one of the great contributors to modern psychology, and one of the most practical. His work has largely been left behind as "pop psychology" but its source was an idea he developed while training young psychiatrists, and it managed to break into popular culture. I consider his work and take a look at his chart as well.

In the third section, I look at the astrology of the millennial generation, in particular people born between 1983 and 1999. I cover a series of events that shaped the lives and thinking of this generation, and which helped define the concept "millennial." 

You will learn something about the chart for Pluto entering Scorpio in 1983, the Saturn-Uranus conjunction of 1988, the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1993-1994, Pluto entering Sagittarius in 1995 and the Chiron-Pluto conjunction of Dec. 30, 1999 (the Y2K aspect). Note, this is just the beginning of my Astrology of the Millennials coverage. I will be back soon with more.

An Astrology Reading from Someone Who Really Understands Gemini

To My Gemini Readers:

Soon after the Sun enters your sign, I'll have an extended reading for you. My readings are highly practical sources of information, inspiration and motivation. I speak directly to you in plain language. They are divided into three sections -- two astrology segments of about half an hour each, and a section of astrology afterthoughts and a tarot reading.

Planet Waves
These readings morph the best of my work as a Sun-sign astrologer and a professional counseling astrologer. When I developed this method, I thought it might work pretty well, but I've been amazed at the response I've had.

Astrologically, I will cover the unusual Mercury retrograde that happens in Gemini, the highly unusual grouping of planets that's working its way across your relationship angle, and what it could possibly mean to have the planet Chaos in your sign.

I'll also go over the influence of the grand cross, and focus on Uranus square Pluto and the impressive influence of Chiron and Neptune on your career.

The reading is accessible and playable on any kind of computer or mobile device (smartphone, iPad, etc.). It includes a live question and reply forum that will be held right around the New Moon (archived for those who cannot make it), as well as access to last year's reading, so that you can review and check my accuracy. Plus you get an extended written description of your birth sign. And there will be some fantastic original theme music composed by Daniel Sternstein.

It'll make an awesome gift for you if you have Gemini Sun, Moon or rising, or for the Gemini in your life, and is now available to subscribers for the pre-order price of $19.95.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes -- and our Publishing Schedule Notes

We published your extended monthly horoscope for May on Friday, April 25. Your extended monthly horoscopes for April were published Friday, March 21. Your Moonshine horoscopes for the Taurus New Moon published Tuesday, April 22. Moonshine horoscopes for the Scorpio Full Moon published Tuesday, May 13. We also published an Inner Space horoscope for April Tuesday, April 1. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign.

Planet Waves

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, May 16, 2014, #998 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- When Mars stations direct next week, the mystery revealed is less likely to be how someone feels about you, but rather how you feel about a relationship situation. When that moment arrives, remember how much thought you've put into this situation. So when you finally get that information, I suggest you trust it. The chart describes a scenario where you've wondered what to call something, whether you're stuck there, what you want and what your environment is telling you -- all of which are stylizations of the core idea of how you really feel. The only reason such a simple thing could be made so complicated is because it has so many other seeming manifestations, which all seem to move the central reality of the situation away from you. It never was outside yourself and it never will be. That counts for many other situations you may be wondering about.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- The past will stalk you to the extent that you let it. Note that the past is not a thing, but rather a set of perceptions, expectations and beliefs that were more appropriate for another time in your life. It may also extend to the results of choices you made in the past that still have some manifestation today, but not usually. If so, most of the time they are obvious and easy to address by making decisions. But the decisions might indeed be clouded by those perceptions, expectations and beliefs. You may not be the only one who needs to address these elements of history; someone close to you may be struggling to have a clear, tangible and useful opinion about the way things are versus how they were supposed to be. I would suggest here that these seemingly complicated, even convoluted, questions come down to, "Who am I now, and what do I want to do?"

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- You may be feeling edgy and uncertain as the Sun makes its way across the very last degrees before entering your birth sign. When it does, I think you will feel new determination that may seem, on one level, to be driven by your desire to survive or endure. Yet there's much more going on, in particular, a surge of creative and sexual energy that you've been holding back for some reason -- perhaps out of an abundance of caution, or because your life seemed too complex to give yourself the space to take any chances. However, that seems to be the very thing you now must do, if you want to get anywhere. Taking chances sometimes means risking everything, but more often it means allowing yourself to do something that you previously hesitated over. As of today you may think you'll never have the courage or the confidence to do that. I think you might feel a lot differently in a week.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- You have learned a lot the past few months, by some measures more than you've ever learned (and resolved) in such a short timeframe. I would sum this up in a few words as "leadership comes from within." You must take over your own life and your living space, and get into alignment with the people around you before you can be effective in any other aspect of your life. This is not true for everyone; many people can be grossly out of whack with their environment and still get a lot done. You cannot be. Remember that every waking moment -- what you do is every bit as important as where you're doing it. Your energy level and overall performance will be entirely influenced by where you're doing whatever you're doing. How you feel will be your best barometer. That includes how you feel about the people who surround you. For all of the above, choose carefully.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- The Sun's entry into Gemini will make it easier for you to catch up with all the changes that have been going on around you. You haven't exactly been left in the dust, but progress does seem to be moving a little faster than you prefer to go. Your solar chart suggests that the most meaningful thing you can do is be available and visible. Take every opportunity to engage and converse with others well beyond your home office, your cubicle or the cafe where you usually work. You're the one who must bring the initiative and reach out to others. Make the call, send the email, start the conversation. Gemini is the 11th house of your solar chart -- the house that brings the greatest benefit, the income rewards of your work. Gemini says this will happen through human contact, and the Sun says that starts with visibility. So freshen up and take every opportunity to be seen and heard.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- Mars stations direct in your money house (Libra) just as the Sun enters your career house (Gemini). This is a great combination. Mars is the money planet -- making money takes motivation. The Sun is a fine indicator of work and reputation. Put the two together and you can allow success and financial motivation to drive your desire to succeed, and allow success to drive your financial goals. This may all seem too worldly and not so spiritual, though I would define 'spiritual' as being responsive to the conditions of your environment and your current stage of growth. The past six months have come and gone with all kinds of questions about money, and the best direction you want to be taking. It looks like the next week will provide you with significant information, though I think your deepest discovery will be about who or what is the most important to you, and what you want to do about that fact.

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- You are approaching a moment of truth. It could be about any aspect of your life, though it's likely that an intimate situation is involved. Your charts tell a story about your having gone through a series of initiations over the past six months, which has put you in a place where you could hardly have expected to be. You may, as a result, have outgrown a relationship. Rather, it looks like you've become the thing that you've always sought in other people. That means that you no longer need them to provide it; this in turn will save you loads of time and energy pursuing something outside yourself. Yet at the same time, you want to relate to others, and this is suggesting that your contacts with others will benefit from a new purpose. I don't know what that will be, but I would propose that it's more about being a whole person than it is about being half of a relationship.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- You may have dreamed many dreams about what you would do, if only you were less afraid. You may have even tried, and succeeded, to go beyond your own inhibitions. The journey of Mars through your 12th solar house has been a study in these hesitations, which has served to remind you how much time you've spent wondering if you were doing the right thing, or what might have happened if only things were some other way. It's time to leave your regrets behind you and confront the moment in which you stand, edgy though it may be. You're not really standing at the edge of a cliff; you're standing right on the edge of your relationship to yourself. There really is no point hesitating about that. If you were fully committed to your relationship with yourself, many factors in your life would seem far more confident than they often do. And that moment of full commitment is about to arrive.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- You may think you've been struggling to fit into the world someplace, when you've actually been succeeding at doing just that. I know it may not feel that way, but there's a discovery or two you have yet to make about what the changes of the past few months have really been about. One thing I can tell you is that determining the direction of your life is not merely a process of elimination. It's true that eliminating non-viable options is critical, and you’ve done some of that, but that's not all you have to do. I suggest you take an inventory of what is working in accordance with your stated life plans. Notice what is already happening in some form or fashion the way you say you want your life to be. Notice where your gifts are already recognized. Notice who tells you, or in some way demonstrates, "you belong here," and notice how that feels. Use that information to make any further choices.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- Everything you've been doing the past few months has been mere preparation for the Take Leadership position you're about to adopt. Since that was preparation, it's worth remembering everything you've learned since early December, especially about your professional relationships. It is clear that you either want or are destined to dominate a certain situation, though you may realize you cannot do this in an obvious way. You must do it in an artful way. That involves an emphasis on beauty, any time you get the chance, but mainly it involves finesse in your relationships. Even if you've rubbed certain people the wrong way, you have the chance to make amends and align your mutual goals. One thing you can trust is that you have something of worth in the relationship, be it power, influence, talent, a vision or charisma. Remember that, and notice how well the skills of others compliment your own. That is a good position to be in.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- You can take things more lightly than you have lately, and you'll probably feel just that inclination. You might even call the feeling 'spiritual contact'. However, one reason I try (not so successfully) to avoid the concept 'spiritual' is that it's an abstraction of what you already contain and who you already are. So, an aspect that suggests that you're growing on the dimension of faith suggests that you have more faith in yourself. An aspect that describes 'messages from the gods' can be interpreted as you getting into deeper contact with who you are and fulfilling your reason for living. An aspect that describes 'lessons' is also about your willingness to learn. All of these images relate to your chart, and therefore to your existence -- suggesting a moment of enlightenment, which is to say, becoming lighter; a moment of contact, which means improved communication with yourself and, if you want, with others around you.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- Looking at your solar chart I would take an educated guess that you wish things were simpler in your professional life. Many of the more meaningful small planets are clustered in your 10th house, and it has a churning feeling -- the sensation of relentless developments, transformations and revisions. Yet this truly unusual set of conditions is the very thing that is helping you create or achieve what you are doing. For example, the presence of many seemingly smaller goals rather than one pointed objective is compelling you to be fully adaptable and to reassess what you're doing on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Your mind is organized such that you can handle this much change. But there's something more significant at work. You have the ability to observe the order in the chaos; to see a vision rise up out of the mists. And that's exactly what you're doing.

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