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Honduran migrants walk to Tapachula from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. The migrants are part of a second caravan of more than 1,000 that forced its way across the river from Guatemala on Monday. Pres. Trump has deployed 5,000 troops at the American border, pretending that these people are some kind of threat to the United States. Photo by Rodrigo Abd.

Blowing in the Digital Wind

Dear Friend and Reader:

         A journalist being tortured, dismembered and murdered; the attempted bombing of two former presidents, a vice president, a CIA director and a whole collection of others; a Supreme Court nominee subjected to a public flaying, triggering millions of abuse survivors; and a mass shooting at a synagogue.

         Endless accounts of voter suppression; screaming attack ads around the clock; the president telling 30 lies a day; and a deployment of 5,000 troops to Texas to stop a bunch of refugees who are currently 700 miles away -- all in the run-up to an election: sounds like a free country in peril to me.

Planet Waves
The Democrats take the House. Photo by Sarah Silbiger.

         That's what we've lived through the past month. No wonder people are feeling shell-shocked.

         And it's not exactly like you can turn your television off. Tweets and Instragrams and Facebook notifications (and the next 20 kinds of "news" feeds) come at us from every direction. There's no escaping this environment we've created and allowed to subsume us with barely a question or concern.

         So, the Democrats took the House of Representatives yesterday. This will at least allow some pumping of the brakes on the insanity of the past few years. The Supreme Court is still in peril. And there's one other thing to consider: about half of all voters came out to the polls yesterday siding with someone spreading lies, bigotry and hatred. Angry people put Trump into office, and he's doing nothing to satisfy the needs that they had, except more bigotry and hatred.

         His statements are in themselves being counted by his supporters as accomplishments, but nothing is getting done. Video of soldiers putting up barbed wire does not solve a problem, especially if the problem doesn't exist. We are witnessing a delusional state, a total detachment from reality.

         That many people came out and elected candidates from the opposition party is evidence there is some ground left to stand on. The new House of Representatives will be the most diverse in American history, including the most women, plus two Muslim women and two Native American women (both firsts). An openly gay governor was elected.

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Supporters use their cell phones to photograph President Donald Trump as he makes remarks during a Make America Great Again rally in Mesa, AZ. Photo by Doug Mills.

         That's progress, though the Democratic-majority House of Representatives still is not in a position to get much done, without the Senate or the president's signature.

         However, the new House will have subpoena power; they will have investigative power; and they will have the ability to block whatever the Republicans want to put through -- so that means bargaining power.

         It's better than nothing. Yet we are still under conditions that seem like the global warming of rational reality, which is melting under our feet. In my assessment, this is a product of digital. Though there's been plenty of dumbing down the past 50 years, nothing has done the job like Twitter, reducing all thought to 140 characters (more recently, 280, but the damage was done).

         Yet that's just the surface layer of digital, which has had many deeper effects: digital has externalized memory (placed it outside the brain and body); it's permeated every single aspect of life, from the most minuscule financial transactions to meeting for lunch to buying a house; and it's reduced reality to zeros and ones (true polarization). Privacy is nonexistent: every facet of our lives has been blown inside out, and the world is being run through a blender.

         These are all facets of the one vast product of the digital environment. And now that many people are submitting to their own programmed stupidity, it will only seem natural and helpful if artificial "intelligence" comes along and makes our decisions for us. Beware.

         When people -- pundits, writers and other theorists -- describe the chaos and madness of our time, and say how nothing makes sense, the one thing consistently omitted from the discussion is the impact of digital. This usually gets relegated to specific topics like the influence of phones on kids, or the impact of social media on grammar. It's rarely ever considered in the context of the whole circus we're living in right now.

Planet Waves
A rally in Charlotte, N.C., last week. Pres Trump enjoys a herolike status among women who say he is fighting to preserve a way of life that they somehow perceive a being threatened by an (allegedly) increasingly liberal Democratic Party. Photo by Doug Mills.

         Now that we're all at the bottom of the digital ocean even though we barely noticed the tide was rolling in, it might make sense to study our environment more carefully.

         The digital environment facilitates disinformation better than it does actual information, due to the sheer volume of false data overwhelming the simple truth of so many issues. It's a more reliable vector for anger than it is for kindness. And now, just like any 18-year-old on psychotropic medication can have an AR-15, any marginally literate person can have in their pocket publishing power previously reserved by The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press or NBC News, though generally lacking the talent and the training.

         Though the news always has some bias, at least with a news organization there is some potential for institutional safeguarding of the flow of information. News organizations have gatekeepers: levels of editors, fact checking, legal review of sensitive stories, policy guidelines, an editorial board and a board of directors.

         None of this is a guarantee of truth, and there are still plenty of problems under this system, though it's still easier to send something viral on Facebook than to get something into The New York Times. Yet the problem is not so much what gets onto Facebook but rather the lack of capacity to discern what is true, or what makes sense -- which is itself an effect of the digital environment. That's what happens when you think the truth is outside of yourself.

Upcoming Astrology

         There are a number of astrological changes over the next few weeks that begin to take us past the events of 2018, into a new psychic landscape.

         Jupiter enters Sagittarius on Thursday, Nov. 8. This will help shake off the dark, even oppressive quality of Scorpio, of which we've had several overdoses this year.

Planet Waves
Mosaic of Jupiter and two of its moons, composed of images taken by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft from 6.2 million miles (10 million km) away. Photo by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

         Jupiter in Sagittarius has an optimistic feeling to it, and will help tap into some wisdom larger than one's own unfilled or desperate emotional and sexual appetites (which were magnified by Jupiter). It will help if we're more positive about life.

         However, there are two cautionary notes to this transit. One is Jupiter square Nessus in Pisces, and the other is Jupiter square Neptune in Pisces. Jupiter square Nessus can amplify the pain body. It can exaggerate the feeling of abuse legacy without actually doing anything about it. This is related to the internet, where it's only possible to complain, and nearly impossible to heal.

         Jupiter square Neptune, exact in January, June and September (in effect, all year), is a caution against idealism, hope and false optimism. This aspect, particularly involving Sagittarius and Pisces, can be abject denial (an American specialty or maybe a human specialty), lying to oneself or the rose-colored-glasses effect. There is no less work that needs to be done today than there was yesterday. A realistic attitude toward the work that must be done, and the challenges we face as a society, is essential.

         Jupiter square Neptune can also prompt religiosity or true-believership. We have quite enough of those things right now.

         Mars enters Pisces on Thursday, Nov. 15. This concludes the Mars retrograde, which I count (in its very widest metric) from when Mars entered Aquarius on May 15. This was an unusual event in that Mars had not been retrograde in Aquarius since 1971 (Mars retrogrades are skewed more toward the Leo side of the sky). The theme of Mars retrograde in Aquarius is what I would call "anger management."

         We hear a lot of talk about toxic masculinity, as if men are the problem. We hear exceedingly little discussion of toxic rage, which is the real issue we're talking about. To ascribe it to any one sex or gender is to project it outward (even if you're a man, it's always the other guy). Mars in Pisces has the virtue of processing emotions through the emotional body. And Mars through Pisces is, at least, pleasure seeking, rather than a transit that might incline someone to get off on anger. Why bomb your social media enemies with venom when you can eat a pint of Cherry Garcia?

Planet Waves
Venus traces an 'S' shape in this composite photo during its 2004 retrograde. Photo by Tunc Tezel via APOD.

         Here's one of my better articles on Mars retrograde in Aquarius, if you need a review. And here's how it manifested for me personally.

         Venus stations direct on Friday, Nov. 16. Venus retrograde through Scorpio has dragged a good few people through their unresolved emotional patterns and unmet needs. It's the opposite of a comfort zone; there's nothing glamorous about it; it's challenging in ways that are not easily described. Scorpio represents the almost-insurmountable attachments and fears that even the most advanced yogis must confront, such as jealousy, the fear of death, and others.

         It's also a confrontation with the past. Many of the subtler themes of this summer's Mars retrograde emerged with Venus retrograde. Mars in Aquarius is the external side of the equation; Venus in Scorpio (a sign ruled by Mars) is the inner sensation of those feelings and perceptions. It's easier to blame what is visible and what is apparent; it's difficult to account for your own feelings and perceptions as having something to do with you or your personal history. Venus stations direct during a quadruple conjunction in Pisces, described below.

         Of note is that while most of the retrograde was in Scorpio (where Venus is “uncomfortable” but actually in a strong position -- see related article), the station direct occurs in Libra. This is a bid to go beyond the appearance and glamor level of Venus and Libra, and to draw on the hormonal strength of Scorpio to be fully present in the world. Perception is more than appearance and it’s more than judgment. Be who you are, and give people a chance to get to know you. And when you find yourself in a “comfort zone” or “safe space,” that’s the time to pay extra attention.

         Mercury stations retrograde on Friday, Nov. 16. A few hours after Venus moves to direct motion, Mercury begins its third retrograde of the year. This year has been the handoff of one inner planet retrograde to the next. This retrograde takes place entirely in Sagittarius, and begins in a conjunction with the Great Attractor. This can have an effect of amplifying controversy -- but who would ever notice? Mercury is exactly square Neptune when it stations retrograde, which is a caution against truthiness and self-deception. But again, whoever would notice?

         This is an interesting retrograde pattern in that it begins with the Moon in a conjunction to Mars, Nessus and Neptune in Pisces. Then it ends on Dec. 6 with an exact Mars-Neptune conjunction. That alignment offers more caution against deception and self-destructive activity.

         All of these aspects in some way call attention to Neptune in Pisces, an almost invisible transit which needs to be called to the forefront. These aspects will help us do just that. In sum, I would say that the message is: let's get real.

With love,
PS -- I've entirely omitted the erotic aspects of Scorpio from this essay, which are all over the New Moon chart and inherent in this particular sign. However, for those interested, I'd like to offer an article from the Book of Blue series, apropos of the season, called Her Scorpio Milk. Like most of the writing in Book of Blue, it's boldly erotic and woman-centered. For those curious about the project itself, here’s an article called Inner Goddess, Inner Gaze, from about 10 years ago.
Monthly horoscope in progress on my desk at The Place of the Way.
November 2018 Monthly Horoscope (#1226) | By Eric Francis Coppolino
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- It may seem to you like everything is up for negotiation, but nobody knows what they want, and certain individuals keep changing their mind. The scenario looks a little like this: first, someone seems to want what you want, then they want something else. Then they have to think about that more carefully, owing to something their mother said. You may be left feeling like someone you care about makes no sense at all, which does not make it easy to relate. Fairly recently, though, you were in a similar dynamic, where you had little clue what you wanted, or needed, except that it was clear you needed your space to think independently and not be beholden to commitments, at least for as long as you needed to sort yourself out. Others may be less bold than you are about this need, which all people have. Someone more timid might try to persist with a policy of people-pleasing, while at the same time trying to do what is right for them -- and never shall the two be reconciled. I suggest you make room in your life for people to make their own decisions, just as you need to do. Open up space for this, and do your best not to take things personally. Easier said than done, and worth working toward.
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Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- Some of the pressure you were feeling much of the year has let up, as Uranus has backed out of your sign and into Aries. This will give you an opportunity to reassess something that few people ever get around to: who you are. The forthcoming seven-year journey of Uranus through your sign, which you've had a taste of, will confront you with this question many times. It will help if you have some sense of your true direction, so that you can use this transit to bring out your deeper being rather than feel like you're being changed, molded or shaped. Who you are is no surprise to you; difficulty arises when you go into denial of that fact, and try to simulate being someone else. Your true identity emerges from within you, not from an external frame of reference. And with Uranus in Aries between now and March 6, you have extra access to your inner world. You may notice that it's a little chaotic in there, as if you don't have solid ground to stand on. Yet you've gone through other changes before, even on this scale, and the truth is that there's something entirely consistent about who you are -- far more so than most people you know. You may be concerned this is the very thing that might change. Considering just that possibility will be informative. For example, change into what?
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Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- Don't take anything at face value this month. Anything includes anyone. This is not a matter of being suspicious, but rather one of letting the truth of statements be borne out before you commit yourself to action based on them. This will take time, patience and discernment. You're perceptive, but often impatient, and are too quick to act in a lurch, because something sounds good, or feels good. Yet with Mercury stationing retrograde in a square aspect to Neptune on the 16th, you cannot take anything for granted. Your astrology is compounded by the delusional nature of our times: unverified information moving at the speed of light; Twitter feeds going by like the line at the world's largest McDonald's in Orlando, with about as much nourishment; and insecure people saying many things they don't mean, and don't know for sure. This is encouragement for you to slow down the metabolism of thought and of speech, and to question yourself persistently. Go deeper than you usually do, moving in layers, as is indicated by Mercury retrograde. Being 'conclusive' is a bad habit; it's one of the true enemies of intelligence. You must keep an open mind at all times, which primarily means being open to the possibility of being wrong. Once this approach saves your ass a few times, you will find it a lot more appealing, and may even become an advocate.
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Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- The Nov. 7 Scorpio New Moon looks like it might open some doors in your erotic life. Usually horoscope writers couch this in the term "romantic," and I am specifically not talking about that: I'm talking about a form of sexual intimacy that's much deeper than "romance" and which will require a corresponding risk, and at the same time, promise you something much deeper in the way of fulfillment. Yet in our era, this whole region of eroticism is the one that is most often shunned and eschewed. It's treated like it does not exist, yet nearly everyone is drawn to some deeper realm of their desire, even if it slips in for a brief visit as you're waking up, appears in your dreams, or shows up in intimate moments when you're not expecting it. There is a taboo on knowing who you are. This is rarely called what it is, though it's engaged by connecting with your deepest and potentially most secret desires. The alternatives are things like aggression, sleepwalking or frustration, and none of those are especially appealing. The astrology of the past six months may seem to have warned you off going too deep, or taking too many risks. Yet based on the most elemental makeup of your nature, you will want to get back in the water again. Be conscious about it, and please keep it real -- not digital.
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Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- You have to be confident in yourself before you can be confident in anyone else. Usually, the opposite presumption is considered true: the commitment to or from someone else is supposed to make us strong. Yet how is that possible? Your consciousness is the center of your experience. Even if you have perfect faith in someone else, that faith is coming from you. The place to orient, at the moment, is faith in yourself. Another word for that is fidelity, which is most often used in the context of marriage (and banking). So let's start with the premise that all fidelity is to you: your mission in life, your existence, your happiness. This may be subject to an accusation of being egotistical, though the opposite is true, since the ego is an illusion and I am talking about something real: actual grounding in your true self, and what you're doing on this planet, at this time. That may be the realest question you can ever ask, and it may make you quake in your boots, as the old saying goes, especially if you want to be wearing ballet slippers. Yet between the two may be some kind of crisis of faith, which I suggest you welcome. You will know that you're in the right zone, mentally and emotionally, when you find yourself asking questions that you cannot easily answer.
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Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- It's been an overwhelming year, perhaps even heavy, though help is on the way. Jupiter joins Mercury in your 4th house of grounding, home and family this week, to stay for a year. This will take some pressure off your mind, and help you prioritize what matters the most for you. That includes taking care of yourself, and it also covers resolving old material -- drawing an "end to the matter" (borrowing from ancient astrology) in several important things related to your family, especially on your father's side. The two are related: the living well bit, and the one about resolving the past. Resolved might not be the right word; displaced is a better concept, since what is old and dysfunctional must, in a sense, be outdone by something noticeably better and more worthwhile. This must start with where you call home. Jupiter through the 4th is what I think of as the "feather your nest" transit: making your home space acceptable to your physical body. Take the time to make small improvements, eat better-quality food, and do what you must do to feel confident. It matters less where you are, and more how you feel, no matter where you may be. The persistent challenge will be emotionally honesty. Listen to the stories you tell yourself, and check the facts. Make sure you're correct, and that the elements of your version of events add up to something that makes sense.
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Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- The essential message of Venus retrograde in your sign is whether you're going to run your life influenced by unconscious emotional forces, or by using conscious strategy and making decisions. First, though, you will need to differentiate between the two, and notice the results when you use one method or another. Here's a way to focus the difference. One way seems like someone else is making decisions that you're subject to, even though nobody else is around. Those will tend to be based on things like avoiding perceived threats and dangers, more than on creating something positive for yourself. And those fears will likely belong to someone else, which is a way of having you under their control. When you make your own decisions, you will feel the clarity of your own mind, you will notice yourself in a reasoning process, and you'll sense the satisfaction of choosing for yourself. You need a plan -- especially a financial plan. When you're in control of your own money, you know that you're sloughing off the influences of parents and other overlords. This really is the keystone to the bridge that will lead you into the next phase of your life. That, and speaking up when you need to, stating directly what you need, and never getting bogged down in guilt. That is an art you can master.
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Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- You may finally be feeling some relief from Venus retrograde now that Venus has backed into Libra, where it stations direct on Nov. 16. Before that happens, Jupiter leaves your sign and enters Sagittarius (Nov. 8). Usually, Venus and Jupiter in one's sign are considered benefics, and no doubt you've gained in ways you have not noticed yet. However, while they've been present, you've also been under unusual pressure, both emotional and psychological. It may have felt like certain issues settling over you like a dome, or thought forms you could not evade or escape. Scorpio is an unusual sign in that, collectively, it holds all of the things supposedly civilized people are the most afraid of, such as the mysteries of sex, life and death. And this is partly why people respond so strongly to you. Jupiter moving through your sign has magnified these elements of consciousness, making you aware of them (whether you identified them, or not). What you may notice over the next few days and through the coming month is that these feelings evaporate, like they were never there. They're still present, but will now go back to their earlier size, rather than the recent fun-house-mirror exaggerations you experienced. Venus, for its part, has been encouraging you to seek within yourself for answers. That is something you would be wise to remember. There is no "out there." It's all in here.
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Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- Jupiter enters your sign this week, where it will be for about one year. This is a homecoming of sorts, as Jupiter returns to one of the signs that it rules for the first time in nearly a decade, and returns to Sagittarius for the first time since it arrived last on Nov. 23, 2006. This is one of those transits that offers everything you ever wanted from astrology -- in its potential form. With Jupiter, you're the one who must make your mission real. You must activate your potential, make decisions, set goals, and determine to seek what you know is right for you. We could say that Jupiter describes what is possible -- and that the other symbol of your sign, the arrow about to be let loose from its bow, represents the one-pointed arrow of determination, focus and direction. There's not a rush to let the arrow fly, though. In fact, there is reason for caution: you are still too influenced by negative feelings and events, at the moment, to have a clear sense of what you want. And Jupiter's long square to Neptune in Pisces could have you more optimistic about certain goals than is called for. So you will need to make a point of being honest with yourself about the downside to any possible endeavor, but also, aware that certain influences may be leading you to be unrealistic about particular factors. Facts, data and time are your friend, and the three will work well together.
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Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- You may still be experiencing a struggle about whether you're willing to offer yourself fully to what you want and need to do. The spirit of our times is to make a half-hearted effort and call it good, or to emphasize this odd thing known as comfort over the strength and guts that it takes to get anything done in this world. You may feel like your goal requires too big a sacrifice to make it worthwhile, and if that is true, then you need a more significant goal. You're being called upon not to do something but to become someone. What you do is merely a facilitator or venue for who you're becoming, and whether it's large or small, meaningful or petty, brilliant or dull, you will be devoting your whole being to the process. This does not merge well with a predictable, safe, steady nine-to-five kind of existence. Rather, you will need to take risks that may feel dangerous and that will certainly push you out of any zone of comfort you may be in. You don't want a safe space; you want a space where you can, and must, be real, with yourself and with the people around you. You will benefit from facing your fear, and rather than rising above it, burning it as fuel. This calls for the recognition that you may not succeed at what you want the very most. But that desire would be worthless otherwise.
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Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- The long, challenging and at times absurd transit of Mars through your sign ends mid-month. Whatever happened to you was in some way unprecedented, and nothing like it is likely to happen again. The last time Mars was retrograde in Aquarius was back in 1971, a time curiously like our own. So this has probably stirred up some old material, including family baggage (which is closely associated with Aquarius, though you won't read this many places). Mars retrograde has highlighted the problem of anger, collective and individual, and more to the point, the struggle associated with addressing it. Anger also equals anxiety, guilt and any form of struggle associated with aggression or resentment, in whatever direction it may flow. This cannot be addressed in "the world," since it's such a deeply individual response to existence. Mars in your sign, including the 12-week retrograde, has compelled you to take a level of profound responsibility for what happens in your life, including how you feel and how you respond to events. More than anything, though, you've been compelled to have a bold reckoning with what you want. I don't mean want, like a BMW. I mean want, as in want from your privilege of existence. And I don't mean want, as in desire somewhat; I mean want as in you feel like you'll drown if you don't have it. You've learned a lot this year. Don't forget it, by which I mean remember every day.
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Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- Your deepest fears rarely come true, and no matter what you've experienced this year, that remains a fact of existence. It's now time to focus your life in the most productive and constructive ways. Jupiter entering Sagittarius this week crosses the midheaven angle of your solar chart, which will open up a world of possibilities you've never quite imagined. Yet you will need to rise above your own anxiety in order to take full advantage of this yearlong transit. This is not just the fear of things going wrong; most of what concerns you is lack of confidence. Neptune in your sign (an ultra-longterm visitor) can feel like a massive hole where your courage should be. So that's the element to work with. The thing to remember is that courage is earned, not bestowed. That happens through conscious trial and error; doing what you're not supposed to do; saying what you're not supposed to say; and attempting what you think is considerably beyond your potential. Jupiter's first point of contact in Sagittarius will be a square to Nessus in your sign, which represents an opportunity to overcome some debility inflicted on you by your family, or someone who abused your trust. The second will be an extended square aspect to Neptune, which seems destined to inform you that you genuinely know what is true and right for you. Let time prove your theory, rather than letting someone else disprove it.
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