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New York, Friday, May 11, 2012

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Adam Yauch: A Voice From the Chaos

Please note a correction to earlier editions of this page.

Dear Friend and Reader:

I can place my experience of the Beastie Boys into three distinct moments. In the late 1990s, I saw them play a benefit concert for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the black journalist on Pennsylvania's death row. The show was one of those special moments of activism in American history. Worldwide momentum was gathering in the movement to free Mumia, and to end the death penalty.

Planet Waves
Adam Yauch after the first Tibetan Freedom concert on June 19, 1996 in San Francisco, headlined by the Beastie Boys and Smashing Pumpkins. Through this work, Yauch helped spark the modern movement to liberate Tibet. The Tibetan monk is Palden Gyatso, who shared personal experiences of atrocities committed against the Tibetans by Chinese authorites. Photo by Kiino Villand.
Rage Against the Machine was the headline act that night at the Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey. The Beastie Boys, the white guys who brought rap to the suburbs, were listed as the openers. By some miracle, at that time I might have been the only relatively young person who did not own one of their CDs, nor had I heard a single note of their music. This was one of many experiences where my first impression of a band was a live performance. I had no idea what to expect.

I had excellent press seats just off to the side of the stage. My friend sparked up a joint just as the lights dropped and the guys came onstage. From the first moments, I was treated to one of the most sublime experiences of a rock concert that I can ever remember. Well, it was an unusual kind of rock concert, with a deejay playing turntables as an instrument, and none of the band members playing instruments.

Rapping for them meant telling stories and gliding around on the stage like dragonflies. Yet there was something else. These performers were clairvoyant. They seemed to open up an alternative dimension and bring everyone with them. It was as if the lead vocalist (emcee is probably the more accurate term), a guy with the stage name Ad-Rock, was able to levitate the room or shift the consciousness of the audience with a gesture of his hand, an extended pause or a few words of speech. They had a perfectly harmonized, astonishing rapport with their audience, and it was clear that they were rising to the occasion of this historic concert. It was one of those moments during a live performance where I could barely believe it was happening.

The evening, however, had a heavy theme: an innocent guy was waiting to be executed, presumably as punishment for having told the truth about some difficult racial issues in Philadelphia. Imagine the horror of that. We were doing what we could -- raise a lot of cash for his legal defense.

Through the evening, the Beastie Boys did something verging on impossible: they explained the relevance of a complex political issue to young people. Yet their message seemed to come across in empathic pulses, as well as in their few words of explanation, expressed with artistic mastery and respect for humanity. Some have described this as 'social consciousness', which extended to an existential level. Yet for some reason, I did not become a fan. I don't know why not; I never thought about it.

Planet Waves
Adam Yauch in his 40s. Photo by Mark Mainz.
My next encounter began last week, when I heard that one of them -- a guy who went by the stage name MCA -- had died of a rare form of cancer at age 47. I remembered that amazing concert and the sense of contact I felt with the band.

Partly due to my work on environmental toxins issues, I have a special place in my heart for young people who get cancer. There are just too many of them, it's not necessary and there is a discussion about this issue that simply must happen more openly. Omega Institute recently described cancer as "an ever-present part of modern life," adding, "Yet, for many people, cancer is a wake-up call to create a new, more conscious life." This is indeed what happens a lot of times -- but not always.

The cancer pandemic is rarely called what it is: an induced breakdown of the genetic code that directly touches half the members of industrialized society, and everyone else by extension. It is associated with lifestyle, but is it really possible to avoid plastic? Cancer as we know it may be the biggest crime ever committed, a systemic, slow-acting mass murder to dwarf the most deranged visions of Stalin. This in turn stems from many forms of corporate fraud and an endless litany of crimes against the environment: not negligence but intentional acts, all of them motivated by profit.

This past Saturday morning I was reading the New York Times obituary of MCA, whose birth name was Adam Yauch. I read the line, "Mr. Yauch (pronounced yowk) was a major factor in the Beastie Boys' evolution from their early incarnation, as testosterone-driven pranksters..." and I remembered who this was: someone I was friends with when I was a kid. I had the strange feeling that comes from making a remote, seemingly impossible personal connection.

We were both from Brooklyn, with a few months' difference in age. I ran down the possibilities and put together that I knew him from summer camp -- Camp Onas, in the mid-1970s. He must have spent half his childhood saying, "Adam Yauch. Y-a-u-c-h, pronounced yowk."

Planet Waves
Adam Yauch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Boston in 1995. Viral image -- photographer is unknown.
I paused for a moment and recalled the memory of seeing his face the first time one summer afternoon in 1975. I could see his eyes looking out at the world from deep inside himself, curious about what was going on around him yet shrouded in a little suspicion or a touch of darkness. These urgently seeking eyes are the same ones I see gazing at the world in so many of the photos taken throughout his life.

Camp Onas is a small, simple and (at least at the time) not so expensive Quaker camp. In the Quaker tradition, the experience is about people rather than activities. I spoke to Adam's mother, Frances, on Thursday morning, who said that Adam loved the place, and that it was "one of many beautiful moments in his life."

The camp is founded on the principles of simplicity and nonviolence. The religious element consisted of one hour of silent meeting every Sunday morning, though that one hour a week led to a bond that we all shared, a connection to something larger. When we attended Onas in the mid-1970s, there were many conscious, talented and ethical young people working there as counselors, many of them driven by a back-to-the-land ethos of the moment. I credit Camp Onas as being the place where I first made contact with nature and with my emotional intelligence, and the place I first consciously noticed how beautiful women are. Contrasted with Brooklyn, it was another universe.

Tim Mammel was our camp counselor for a couple of summers. When I went to write to him on Facebook Saturday, he had already contacted me. We had at least one thing in common -- we didn't know that Adam was one of the Beastie Boys until he had died. Of Adam, Tim said: "He was a prankster, always up to fun. He loved to joke, but he was a thoughtful guy, as evidenced in his life," adding: "I love the Beastie Boys. And I'm inspired with the humanitarian work he did with raising awareness of Tibet being controlled by China and the tragedies that ensued. He became a voice for integrity and human rights."

Their efforts dedicated to Tibet, spearheaded by Adam, helped bring the issue to public consciousness. The first Tibetan Freedom concert on June 19, 1996 was considered one of the most significant benefits of that era, and at least in terms of raising awareness of the issue, it worked.

Planet Waves
The Beastie Boys in their video for Intergalactic, which is nothing but fun. The Beasties, under the clever guidance of Yauch, were the masters of D.I.Y., often directing their own videos.
At the time, Tibet was not a widely recognized issue. A few artists were aware of the situation; Tibet House was founded in 1987 by a group of artists and actors, and benefit concerts featuring Philip Glass and others were helpful in calling attention to Tibet, though exposure was limited.

The Beastie Boys were instrumental in bringing the issue to the forefront. Adam interviewed the Dalai Lama for Rolling Stone's edition of Aug. 8, 1996. The Dalai Lama said: "I am ready to negotiate [with the Chinese] anyplace, anytime, without preconditions. The most important thing [is that] there should be a free atmosphere to exchange ideas. Independence rightfully belongs to the Tibetans. Since the Chinese occupied Tibet, despite some positive changes, the people have suffered tremendously, immeasurably. As a result the majority of the Tibetan people, including young Tibetan communists, do not want to live under Chinese domination. But if we just insist on complete independence, that is also not realistic. So I am pursuing the middle way."

Yauch asked the Dalai Lama about his meditations for compassion directed at the Chinese oppressors of the Tibetan people, suggesting that Americans might find this strange, given that a friend is a friend and an enemy is an enemy. He responded, "The very concepts of friend and enemy actually depend on many conditions. The reality is that the status of our friends and enemies can change, whether it is within a year, a decade or many decades. Our enemies are not necessarily permanent enemies, nor our friends permanent friends. Therefore it is possible to change our attitudes according to this reality."

Closing the interview, the Dalai Lama said: "We need to develop compassion and a sense of brotherhood [and] sisterhood. Proper compassion means a feeling of closeness with others and, with that, a sense of responsibility. I believe that at birth, human beings are free from ideology but not from affection. Although anger and negative feelings are part of human nature, love and compassion are even stronger within us."

Born in the Sixties

Adam was born in the mid-1960s, just as the Uranus-Pluto conjunction was reaching its first peak in Virgo. This is the rare astrology at the core of the historical era we call The Sixties. Both Uranus and Pluto are slow-movers. They typically form a grouping of three conjunctions approximately every 115 to 140 years, and one was happening when Adam was born. When Uranus and Pluto get together (in a conjunction, square or opposition), there is always a revolutionary spirit in the air. The people who are conscious at the time, even as children, can experience that as a palpable energy, as formative historic events or as a direct calling. (For example, notice what you are feeling now about being called to participate in the global changes that are unfolding.)

Planet Waves
Adam Yauch, or MCA of the Beastie Boys. You can see the Mercury-Uranus-Pluto configuration in Virgo at the upper left of the chart (see chart detail below). You can see the Cancer/North Node configuration at the top of the chart, toward the right side. This is an example of a pronounced Sixties configuration -- it stands out in the chart because it's amplified through other planets. This chart is my rectification. His family said the time of birth was not available.
Yet those who are born at the time of a Uranus-Pluto event can embody the aspect as something that influences them their whole lives. Not everyone expresses the energy at full strength, or in an especially noticeable way. Often the best attributes of such an aspect remain latent, existing mainly as a potential. Whether it expresses itself or not depends on the specifics of one's chart, as well as biographical factors involved (the two are related). Certain astrological events later in life, often timed with biographical events, can awaken that potential.

But for some people it's awake all the time, during every moment of their lives -- which is often felt as a call to action. What we find in Adam's chart is something stunning: he has Mercury right in the mix of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. It's a triple conjunction of Mercury, Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. This is a sign where Mercury is happy and able to be himself at full strength -- and able to express the message of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction.

You may be familiar with the themes, since we are currently in a Uranus-Pluto epoch and I've been writing about them a lot. (This is the Uranus-Pluto square, which I've been calling the 2012 aspect. It really lasts from 2012-2015, with a wide orb on either side.) Let's start with Uranus: a planet associated with revolution, invention and disruption. Think of Uranus as the energy of inspiration, which up-ends the known order of 'reality'. It's a progressive force, focused on the future, and is the fundamental opposite of conservative. Conservatism is about preserving the status quo and Uranus is about striking the status quo with lightning.

Pluto for its part represents another unstoppable force, though one that works deeper on the interior of life. It has correctly been associated with evolutionary process, a kind of subterranean energy that moves all people and all of society forward, though often slowly. As with other very slow-moving planets, Pluto comes in and out of focus, and once it gets into the spotlight it can seem to act quickly -- though there was always a buildup involved.

Pluto has a revitalizing quality. It presents challenges that can confront us with imminent or enforced changes, the idea of death, near-death experiences and the deep urge to grow, and at the end of these events we often come out much stronger. Pluto's position in a natal chart is always an intense point of focus for that lifetime.

Planet Waves
Mercury, the green critter with horns, is placed between Uranus and Pluto in Adam's chart. You could say that Mercury is delivering the message of the conjunction. The blue cross in the circle is the Part of Fortune. To the top right is the Sun conjunct hypothetical point Transpluto, which helped him focus his creative energy like a laser and keep his mind open.
When we get Uranus and Pluto acting together, they combine and work in synergy, producing a third force greater than (and different from) either of the individual elements. In such moments, those with a progressive orientation can be called to action and those who are reactionary or regressive can dig their heels in and try to encrypt themselves in a fortress of the past. Such was the case in the Sixties and such is the case today.

With Mercury conjunct this aspect, its qualities become readily accessible, and this in turn had a distinct way of defining his personality and mental posture. In Virgo, Mercury starts off intelligent and actually able to think. When you put it with Uranus and Pluto, it works like the pickup in an electric guitar, gathering the wave pulses of Uranus and Pluto and focusing them into a message. And that message is brewing in a mind that is consumed by the combined force of revolution and evolution -- energy which must go somewhere.

We would need to look no further for an eloquent description of Adam's artistic sensibilities -- the divine chaos that was (and hopefully will still be) the Beastie Boys -- or the social ethos that he expressed in everything he did. It is fair to say that Adam took the best qualities of the Sixties and carried them forward in a new form for the next generation. This was part content and part form: part of their secret to success was mastery over their technology. They didn't wait around for people to do things for them. They took up their own tools and willed themselves into the big time, never sacrificing their ethics.

[For some obvious contrast, consider that Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails was born the following year and has Mars in Virgo conjunct the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, right where Adam had his Mercury. Reznor expresses the conjunction as cacophonic rage.]

One ethos of the mid-Sixties was being iconoclastic, which is to say, cracking the most precious images of society as it was in the past. In the United States, one of those icons is racism. Another theme of the Sixties was bringing diverse people together. In that era, the whole 'we've got to be separate and hate one another' thing had fallen on hard times: diversity was a passion, not a duty. Yet by the 1980s, racism (and various forms of racial separatism) had once again become a kind of cultural altar at which we were supposed to worship or, well, risk being called racist.

The Beastie Boys were having no part of this. They exploded the black-white barrier of their era like nobody else. This was the time of Public Enemy and Fear of a Black Planet (one of the more creative CDs of the time). Political correctness and a sense of victimhood verged on mandatory. A lot of those Malcolm X posters, of him peeking through the living room curtains with a carbine rifle, were hanging in dorm rooms. The Beasties responded with their sense of humor and talent for blatantly trespassing across racial barriers -- inviting everyone to their party.

Planet Waves
Cover of Paul's Boutique, the Beastie Boys' second album, released in the summer of 1989. Photo by Adam Yauch, who directed many of the band's brilliant videos, with no formal training.
The Beasties started out punk rockers who at first imitated and made fun of rap, then became one of the genre's most positive and creative influences, crossing racial divisions as if they didn't exist. Their prankster spirit was pure Sixties, and part of their popularity stemmed from the fact that their act was so much fun. That was a sweet coating over the substance they brought into their work.

As my friend Mike Ackerman put it, "In some ways, the Beastie Boys were this generation's Beatles. In the same way as the Beatles did, the Beasties got together as a band to do one thing and found their fame doing another, yet, also in the same way as the Beatles, the Beasties attempted to copy black music and like the Beatles forged their own style in copying this music." Yet beyond the music itself, what the Beatles did was use their platform for many good causes -- an idea they got, by the way, from Bob Dylan the first time they met him.

When we listen to the Beatles, the speed of their progression from A Hard Day's Night to Sgt. Pepper's is impossible to miss -- it happened in just four years. How did they develop that fast? Consider that the first of those records came out in 1964, on one side of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, and the other in 1967, on the other side of the conjunction. That was the very momentum that was driving Adam and his creative mind. He was able to give a voice to that chaotic energy of progress, and focus it into something cohesive.

This describes his mental qualities. The rest of his chart describes him as an emotional being: planets concentrated in the water signs Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. Let's start with Pisces, because those are the planets that are talking most directly to his Mercury-Uranus-Pluto.

Planet Waves
The Beastie Boys at Club Citta, Kawasaki, Japan, on their Check Your Head tour, Sept. 16, 1992. Photo by Masao Nakagami / Wikipedia.
Part of the Sixties configuration included Chiron in Pisces. This was the peace and love influence on the Sixties -- without it the whole era may have been pure hell. Chiron in Pisces fills in the spiritual piece, as well as the orientation on healing, and finally, it has a lot to say about the emphasis on music that was such a defining quality of that time in history. When we think of the Sixties, it's music that we often think of first. Chiron was not discovered at the time, but it was an active influence in shaping both events and the spirit of the era.

Adam has Chiron in Pisces directly opposite his Mercury, Uranus and Pluto grouping. It's right in the mix, balancing out his powerful intellect with true emotional depth. He has this placed in the 6th house of his chart, which is about art, risk-taking and all things passionate and childish. Chiron is conjunct Vesta, which adds the theme of devotion to his creative flame. [Note, in prior editions, I said this was in the 5th house. Apologies, I was confusing Chiron with an even more intense centaur planet, Pholus in Aquarius in the 5th. This was the sense of Adam as the genie let out of the bottle, how once he connected with his creative power there was no turning it off.]

Also in Pisces was Saturn, making a perfect trine to his grouping of planets in Cancer -- which has an amplifying quality, and which provided him consistency and stability. Strong Pisces in one's chart (and Chiron alone counts, especially if in aspect to other planets) describes a cosmic orientation, which is about neither religion nor spirituality -- it's experienced as something inherent about existence. This is apparent many other ways in his chart and, I believe, was a deeper force operating in his psyche than even being a musician or artist.

He also has a grouping of planets in Cancer -- deeply personal planets that shaped his sense of being. These include Venus, Mars, the Moon and the North Node. This adds extreme sensitivity, emotional depth and a tropism for all things feminine. This is someone who was bonded to his mother through his life, and her influence was his point of orientation. No matter how chaotic his life, or his mind, may have been, her influence and what I can only describe as a presence of the Divine Mother were guiding him.

Planet Waves
Scene from The Sun Behind the Clouds, a recent award-winning documentary on the Tibetan struggle for freedom, which challenges the political theories of H.H. Dalai Lama. View trailer here.
The North Node adds a special property to the chart: the orientation on dharma, which you can think of as 'correct action' or acting as if to hold the world together. When someone has planets concentrated around the North Node, and if they are vaguely conscious, you can be pretty sure they are going to be pulled to live a dharmic life, associated with a potent sense of responsibility to all of existence.

His Moon, close to the North Node, is conjunct a recently-discovered Pluto-like planet called Orcus (named for the pre-European version of Pluto, and a deity from the cycle of gods associated with the keeping of honor and the enforcement of contracts). I believe it's this Moon-Orcus conjunction that provides the quality of emotional depth and intensity that you see burning in his eyes in so many photos. And it's that same conjunction to Orcus that drives his quest for justice on an emotional level. On the intellectual level it was merely common sense, for him anyway. Lots of people feel that intellectual drive for justice with no special motivation to do something about it. Action usually comes from the empathic or emotional level, the feeling that one must take part, rather than the idea.

Finally for the water signs, he was born with the longterm Sixties visitor Neptune in Scorpio. I think of this as the sex-drugs-rock and roll influence of that era, though it added a touch of mysticism to the debauchery. Adam has this placement personalized by two asteroids that were in a long conjunction that year -- Pallas and Juno. Though it's fair to say that he was sexually lit up down to the last brain cell, those two asteroids suggest that he had many passionate, platonic relationships with devoted female friends. Juno also describes social justice, Pallas describes politics, and Neptune mingles this with the numinous -- with a sense of cosmic mystery. This shows up many other ways in his chart.

What is it that helped Adam take this energy and offer it to the world in such a big way? I think it's the presence of personal planets grouped in and around so many much larger generational influences. This is someone who took everything personally. He was not able to separate himself from the world, or from what he perceived as his responsibility to the world.

And that, if you ask me, was an accurate perception. As is said in Eastern tradition, dharma is the path to enlightenment. With the Uranus-Pluto square coming on at full strength, that is an idea to remember.

Eric Francis

Additional research and writing: Michael Ackerman, Theresa Geteles and Sarah Bissonnette-Adler. Special thanks to Kiino Villand.

Planet Waves
Drops of Jupiter (in Taurus); Venus Stations Retrograde

The sky continues to put on a spectacular show in Taurus, with Mercury being the most recent planet to join a concentrated grouping there. It joins asteroids Vesta and Ceres, a lunar point called the osculating apogee, plus the Sun and Jupiter.

Planet Waves
Io, one of Jupiter's Moons that is about the same size as our own (and which may have geological conditions similar to those present on early Earth), is shown against the face of Jupiter. This Sunday, the Taurus Sun makes its only conjunction to Jupiter in Taurus for a very long time. Photo by Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA.
Speaking of: the latter two points -- the largest in our solar system -- join together on Sunday in their one-and-only conjunction in Taurus. There can be just one conjunction of the Sun and Jupiter each year, and since Jupiter takes a year to go through one sign, that means this is the only Sun-Jupiter conjunction in Taurus till May 19, 2024.

So if you're born under this sign, or if you're a fan of Venus, or if you love and appreciate all of the good things that Taurus has to offer, this is a happy moment. In truth this will influence everyone slightly differently, though it represents a windfall or opportunity of some kind for everyone. Soon after this event, Jupiter moves onto Gemini.

Speaking of Gemini: Venus stations retrograde there on Tuesday. This is the third inner-planet retrograde of the year, though it's a special one -- it includes the Venus transit of the Sun on June 5. Venus then stations direct on June 27, just three days after the first of seven Uranus-Pluto squares. Gemini is an inherently androgynous sign, and we are going to get a taste of what it's like to embrace that quality. Venus, perhaps the most feminine influence in astrology, penetrates the Sun as it makes its exact conjunction on June 5.

We are also in the season of eclipses across the Gemini-Sagittarius axis, which happen just prior to the Venus transit. The first eclipse takes place within hours of the Sun's ingress into Gemini on May 20, a little over one week from now. More on these events next week.

Planet Waves
Obama Bursts Out of Closet, Supports Marriage Equality

Wednesday, President Obama became the first U.S. president to declare his support for same-sex marriage. He had a little help from his boyfriend Joe Biden, who had come out of the closet a few days earlier. Obama at first insisted that they were just friends. But then it turned out he really did agree with his political partner -- and was taking social justice lessons from his kids. In an interview with ABC News, Obama credited his daughters as indirectly influencing his decision, saying, "Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them. And frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change of perspective." Obama addressed the issue just days after Vice President Joe Biden declared his support for same-sex marriage, which had set off new calls for Obama to clarify his position. Obama still says the issue is to be decided by individual states. Earlier this week, voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, while in Colorado, Republicans blocked a same-sex civil unions bill in the state House, prompting Gov. John Hickenlooper to convene a special session beginning on Friday. These people protest a bit too much.

Planet Waves
Someone is Actually Paying Attention in Vermont

Vermont is set to be the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking is a process of drilling for natural gas that is known to pollute groundwater supplies, destroying the land and home values in the process. Vermont representatives voted last week to approve the ban, reconciling differences with a similar bill passed in the state senate.

Planet Waves
Once again I will inflict this photograph on you. Fracking is a disgusting mess, and blatantly stupid as freshwater supplies run out. This is the tidy side of things -- above the ground. Below the ground, this shit is injected into freshwater wells, and can destroy the water supply for a whole community. This photo is from a recent article in New York Law Journal, which describes the legal nightmare of fracking for mortgage holders.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is expected to sign the bill into law. While there is not currently any fracking being done in Vermont -- since the state lacks the abundant natural gas sources found beneath New York and Pennsylvania -- the state's shale formations along Lake Champlain extend from Quebec, where fracking has occurred, according to Alternet. Environmental activist Bill McKibben offers a wider view of why the ban still matters: "A ban on this process makes sense, if for no other reason than it will keep the oil industry from pumping lobbying dollars into the state." Well, there are many other reasons besides that.

In related news, new climate data shows the period from May 2011 to April 2012 was the warmest ever recorded in the United States. The average temperature over the 12-month stretch was nearly three degrees Fahrenheit above last century's average. The United States has also just experienced the warmest March on record. Among the negative effects of fracking is the release of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to global warming.

Planet Waves

Planet Waves
We Could Have Told You That -- Or Did We?

Excavating for the first time in the sprawling complex of Xultún in Guatemala's Petén region, archaeologists have uncovered a structure that contains what appears to be a workspace for the town's scribe, its walls adorned with unique paintings -- one depicting a lineup of men in black uniforms -- and hundreds of scrawled numbers. Many are calculations relating to the Maya calendar.

One wall of the structure, thought to be a house, is covered with tiny, millimeter-thick, red and black glyphs unlike any seen before at other Maya sites. Some appear to represent the various calendrical cycles charted by the Maya -- the 260-day ceremonial calendar, the 365-day solar calendar, the 584-day cycle of the planet Venus and the 780-day cycle of Mars, reports archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University, who led the exploration and excavation.

The project scientists say that despite popular belief, there is no sign that the Maya calendar -- or the world -- was to end in the year 2012, just one of its calendar cycles. "It's like the odometer of a car, with the Maya calendar rolling over from the 120,000s to 130,000," said Anthony Aveni, professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate University, a coauthor of the Science paper. "The car gets a step closer to the junkyard as the numbers turn over; the Maya just start over."

The scientists say the symbols reflect a certain world view. "The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like this," Saturno said. "We keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It's an entirely different mindset."

Source: Physorg.

Planet Waves
Even UAC Knows There Are Two Zodiacs

Remember that whole "your sign is wrong" hoax that put astrology in the mainstream media in early 2011, nearly shutting down the Planet Waves servers for a few days? Part of the answer to the confusion that ensued was that there are two main types of astrology. Western astrology, what we (usually) do at Planet Waves, aligns with the seasons; Vedic, or what is practiced in India, aligns with the constellations. Hence, you really do have two Sun signs, depending on which type of astrology you're using -- but there is much more to Vedic astrology than that. UAC 2012 (the United Astrology Conference, set for New Orleans the week after next) has scheduled a whole track of workshops devoted to Vedic astrology, designed to be accessible to Western astrologers. There are 18 sessions in all, covering topics such as: Vedic Astrology and Psychology (David Frawley), What is Your Dharma or Purpose in Life? (Bill Levacy), Unconventional Relationships (Bill Levacy), Vedic Medical Astrology (Suhas Kshirsagar), The Importance of Mars in Kaliyuga (Chakrapani Ullal), Intro to Vedic Palmistry (Juliana Swanson) and Jabbering Away in Sanskrit So You Sound Extra Spiritual (Eric Francis). You can read descriptions for all 18 sessions here.

Planet Waves

Planet Waves
Stephen Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak earlier in 2012. Sendak died May 8.
Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

Since 1963, children have ventured into the world created by Maurice Sendak in Where the Wild Things Are and felt understood in all their frustration, rage, love, loneliness; their desire to have authority over themselves and those around them; their need for freedom and their need for safety within four walls. Sendak died Tuesday at the age of 83. In January, he was interviewed at home by Stephen Colbert (part two is here). In the midst of Colbert's ironic shtick and Sendak's crusty bluntness, it's clear that he had great respect for children. He remarks, "There is something in this country that is so opposed to understanding the complexity of children. It's amazing." That lack of understanding gets played out repeatedly each time Sendak's book In the Night Kitchen gets banned for showing a naked little boy, complete with penis, frolicking in his dreams. According to playwright Tony Kushner in an interview Thursday on Democracy Now!, Sendak has a copy of the book in which a librarian had whited-out all of the penises in the illustrations, creating 'diapers'.

Planet Waves
Find Your Current Monthly Horoscopes Here -- and Schedule News!

This section also includes the upcoming publishing schedule! The May monthly horoscope (long edition and an article called "The Lighter Side of Taurus") was published Wednesday evening, April 25. The most recent Inner Space monthly for May was published Tuesday, May 1. We published Genevieve Hathaway's most recent Moonshine Horoscope (for May) on Tuesday, May 8. All Tuesday editions are now being published to the subscriber area only and are no longer being distributed by email. The next monthly horoscope by Eric will be the June edition, to be published the evening of Wednesday, May 23. There will not be a regular edition that week -- and there may be additional changes to the schedule due to the UAC conference, which we will be covering on Planet Waves FM.

Planet Waves

Friday, May 11, 2012. Weekly Horoscope #903 | Eric's Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Taurus Birthdays This Week

If your birthday is anywhere in the neighborhood, this year will have a questing quality, or the feeling of being larger than life. There is strong activity in all three earth signs, which are providing you with a sense of grounding for whatever adventures you may embark on. You can be sure of one thing: that this is not the time in your life to invest your energy in preserving or clinging to the past. Rather, you're being summoned to take part in experiences that draw you into the future. The Sun's conjunction with Jupiter is offering that quality of expansion beyond what is familiar to you. Yet both the Sun and Jupiter are conjunct Sedna, a relatively new (and distant) discovery that represents the less trusting side of human nature. I suggest you not make your decisions on the basis of expecting something perfect to come along, but rather on the basis of what seems interesting or even exciting, and let one thing lead to the next. If you approach life with curiosity rather than the drive for achievement, you will learn more, have more fun and in the end, accomplish something interesting. Keep a light (and open) heart at the same time you fulfill your commitments. To learn more about your astrology for the next four seasons, listen to my birthday reading for Taurus, which includes an hour of astrology and a tarot reading.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- The more I study people and their experiences of crisis, the more it becomes obvious that nearly all struggle emerges from lack of self-worth. The trap that people seem to fall into over and over again is believing that their self-worth comes from someone else. Your self-worth comes from you. Usually it doesn't come across in one revelation, but rather in a series of discoveries made over time. You're ready for a significant revelation about who you are and why you belong on the planet. You've been on the brink of this breakthrough for a long time. Yet the relationship question has been a complicating factor. It's true that contact with others is an essential part of life, and that people provide both reflection and opportunity to learn. It may be true that no one situation is perfect, yet there are many in your life that add up to a perfect constellation of circumstances for what you need.

Hello Aries -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- This weekend is the Sun's annual conjunction to Jupiter -- the only one in Taurus for the next 11 years. That's the astrological picture of a rare gift coming to you (and the image of a very, very special birthday). Yet there are those moments when the astrology looks brilliant yet there seems to be some underlying issue. One thing to be careful of is the sensation that nothing is ever good enough. This may seem like a peculiarity of our society, though it's been an issue for so long that it's recorded in mythology. Sometimes it's the feeling of abundance coupled with imperfection; or it could be the feeling of having a strong presence in the world, yet you are trapped or isolated. The beauty of life can, at any time, be complicated by self-doubt. And if you feed it, that's the emotion that's sure to grow. If you emphasize and explore your life-affirming emotions they are the ones that will grow -- in a spectacular way.
Hello Taurus -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed) If you would like to hear your Taurus birthday reading, please visit this link.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- The sky is warming up to a series of rare, amazing and most of all beautiful events in your sign, and your opposite sign Sagittarius. Have you felt the vibrations approaching, and the pace of events accelerating? I suggest you not worry if certain elements of your life seem unstable, uncertain or on the brink of some unexpected change. That said, you may just be feeling the approaching astrology as a sense of adventure. My suggestion as we approach these events is that you hang loose. I suggest you remain as flexible as possible, and surround yourself with people who make flexibility a way of life. There's no way you can really plan for what's coming, and in times like that your superior skill of human adaptability is your best asset. Keep looking at things -- as in people, events and most of all, yourself -- from as many viewpoints as you can. Move forward using curiosity like the bright headlight on a train, and know that nothing can stop you now.

Hello Gemini -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- This is the weekend to spend as much time as you can out of the house. Circulate and socialize. Be your natural, expressive and emotional self. Notice the people around you and notice who notices you. Take any opportunity to be around people you've never met before, and stand in your confidence as you make one discovery after the next, and open yourself up to being discovered. If you're someone who digs the Internet, take at least two or three occasions and put out something vividly real about yourself -- what you consider your best creative work, your true vision or your deeper feelings about the world and where it's going. Share your talent for the pleasure of doing so. We are in the midst of some rare astrological conditions that will help you send a vividly clear signal to exactly the right people. And while you're doing that, keep your ears on and listen for what comes back to you.

Hello Cancer -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- You have some kind of professional opportunity that's developing -- and it looks like many people can benefit from what you do, or what happens to you. Please don't make the mistake of doubting what's possible. The truth is that anything is possible, and right now you're a magnet for potential. One key is to think large, or larger than you might. I'm always surprised by how small many people's concept of big turns out to be, so I suggest you amplify the scale of your idea by an order of magnitude. What works for you, and what always has, is to stay close to the core of what your life means, and what you want to express. What's happening for you is not about success as usually defined by those with a mind for business. The theme is artistic integrity, contact with your values, and your natural role as a leader. What you're leading with is your concept of what actually matters to you the most -- so remember to put that first, foremost and perhaps, only.

Hello Leo -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Spring Checkpoint: Individual Signs Now Available

We will soon figure out that it's actually 2012. The recent retrogrades of Mars and Mercury seemed to create a delay, but really this winter and early spring has been a phase of gestation. Over the next four weeks, the energy starts to pick up pace dramatically, and we will discover where we are and that something unusual, and beautiful, is happening. Even as we approach the truly beautiful potential of the astrology that's developing, many people are struggling with their day-to-day lives. There are more questions than answers; the economic and political situations seem hopeless; the pace of existence is going so fast that there seems to be nowhere to get in a little meaning, or seek some peace of mind.

Planet Waves
Here is where astrology can help. Astrology looks at the longer cycles, and the deeper themes -- and can help you see your life in context of the present moment, no matter how chaotic it may be. Context means a sense of where you fit in that will help you see your potential and make better choices.

For years, I've been helping my clients prepare for making the most of the astrology of the 2012 era. Based on this experience, and many years of study, I've prepared a set of readings for all 12 signs (and rising signs, and Moon signs) that guides you through this astrology, step by step. I cover the most challenging and energized developments of this spring, which includes eclipses, Venus retrograde, the Venus transit of the Sun, and then a few days after the Sun ingresses Cancer, the Uranus-Pluto square.

Each sign gets a half-hour discussion. These came through loud and clear, with strength and meaning. I spent a week designing and recording them, and I am grateful to be able to offer them to you as a tool to help you guide your decisions, as you seek deeper meaning along your journey.

Spring 2012 is a kind of checkpoint along the way to wherever you are going. But really it's a calling into the adventure of existence, a bold invitation to go beyond your past limits and explore something truly new about yourself.

Signs are now available individually for an amazingly low price, cheaper than the paper shopping bag costs at Jimmy Choo -- order your reading here. The report is getting rave reviews from people who are currently working with it, including these words from a customer named Donna: "OMG -- thank you thank you thank you -- just spent this morning listening to my [Spring Report] info, and am so blown away by the accuracy (and relief!) in this experience. Thanks so very much for your part in supporting this work and for showing up in the way that you do!". Here is the link to order.

Please drop us a note if you have any questions.

Eric Francis

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- What is the difference between religion and spirituality? Usually, religion is about itself, and spirituality is about exploring the nature of existence, and in particular, of your existence. Religion is about the values that are put on you, or enforced by some form of authority, and spirituality is about you determining what is meaningful in your relationship to existence. Yes, it takes a lot to stand up to outside influences, and to decline the many opportunities we have every day to sell out our power, our passion, our deepest values. You can at least count on one thing: you've cultivated a dependable relationship to life. Said another way, you have built a solid relationship to yourself. Anytime you feel guilty for doing what is right for you, you can be entirely certain that you're hearing an antiquated voice of authority trying to con you out of what is not just rightfully yours, but what is in truth all you actually have: existence itself.

Hello Virgo -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- I suggest you be open to receiving. There is plenty coming your way, though you have the choice whether to allow it in or not. One reason you might hesitate is because vulnerability means you would have to be open to any possibility, and while you sense many wholesome ones, there are a few of which you're somewhat less trusting. You can still be open and use discernment. You can be aware without being suspicious. You can choose what you want from among the many options -- though I suggest you choose what you truly desire. For that to happen, it will help if you make some decisions, or at least refine your ideas about what you want. Closer to the central point of your astrology, it will help if you're open to the generosity of others. It's true that there always may be better opportunities available, and nothing can stand in their way except for your own doubts.

Hello Libra -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- One of the rules of our society involves what I will call mandatory exclusion. For example, imagine you've been single for a while, and you meet someone you like. Then the next day you meet someone else that you like. There would seem to be some unwritten law that says you can only choose one of those people, to the exclusion of the other. Into this mix is often added guilt and shame in a diversity of formulations. Now, let's consider your here-and-now reality. You are curious, or so it looks from your solar charts. Your imagination is on fire. You may be so consumed with desire that you doubt your ability to think clearly, and thus to make a good decision. Here is an idea to consider: You have the right, and the ability, to experiment without making a 'permanent' commitment in the process. This is, however, less about the expectations of others and more about what you're willing to allow yourself to experience and feel.

Hello Scorpio -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- It's better to regret the things you've done, rather than the things you haven't done. Looking up the author of this quote, passed on to me by my Sagittarius yoga teacher Zosha, I discovered that it was being attacked as shallow and unphilosophical. As an astrologer who works with people at their points of decision, and also through their phases of being stuck, I propose that it's pretty good advice. The refusal to dare slowly drives many people insane. Over the next few weeks, many opportunities are going to make themselves available to you. Some -- not all -- of them will be once in a lifetime, though what they will all have in common is that they are part of what is defining this moment of your personal history. Yet there's a bigger story unfolding -- a global story, something about humanity being at a threshold, and something about your participation in that experience. At the very least, pay close attention to what you hear when life is calling you.

Hello Sagittarius -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- Have you ever paused to wonder why so many people seem to have heart attacks over the whole gay thing? What, exactly, is the shock, that anyone might be attracted to anyone else? We could extend this to mixed-race situations, differences in generations and people of wildly diverging political persuasions for whom this fact is blotted out by the love they feel for one another. The power of attraction is working magnificently in your life right now, and the crazier the diversity, the better. Any hangups of the past can be seen as precisely what they are -- somebody else's bad idea, based on nothing but fear. Taking this to a more personal level, I suggest you experiment with going past any anxiety you might have about who or what you're attracted to, or who is attracted to you. The weirder, the more interesting, the more unconventional, the more fun you will have. For extra pleasure, play with the idea that everyone is a mirror.

Hello Capricorn -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- The Grateful Dead used to sing, "If you get confused, listen to the music play." The current astrology says: "When in doubt, make your living space nicer." Obviously you have more than this on your mind, including a diversity of concerns about where you're at, whether you're really making progress and what you're doing with your life. Right now the astrology is showing me a picture of you putting down roots, of expanding into your space and of treating your living environment as if it's your body (i.e., lovingly). Maybe have a small, spontaneous get-together in your home on Sunday evening, inviting over a few of your closest friends and maybe a few new ones. This specifically should happen in your personal space, not a public space of any kind (even if you may think your home is not up to par -- nobody will care). Practice gratitude for the dry roof and the door that locks as the path to enlightenment.

Hello Aquarius -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- Have you ever had the experience of being able to write something into existence? You describe something: a person, an adventure, a scenario, and somehow it manifests. Or you say something to a friend, admitting to a desire, and then by some process you don't understand, you have the opportunity right in front of you. That's what your charts look like right now. You can play with this to your heart's contentment. I would make a few suggestions, though: don't take fear so seriously. Give it a voice, and move on to your descriptive process. Stretch your imagination, and reach into the spaces where you feel the most curiosity or thirst for missing experience and imagine, in some tangible form, what it would be like to explore them. And if by some chance you're a writer, take some time this weekend, give yourself some space, and start the project that you really, truly want to do (and if that's already started happening, turn up the energy).

Hello Pisces -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

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