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The Low Water Mark

Dear Friend and Reader:

         Long ago, I spent the summer with a guy who later became famous on the "ancient aliens" scene. We did things like drum in caves and visit astrology conferences, and began typing in what became the Planet Waves customer database.

         We wrote a radio script (which became a short story) making fun of food-obsession, including a bit about vegetarians who eat chicken. The fictional scene took place in a "strictly meaten" community in Germany where they would eat things like horn flakes, rolled goats or half an antelope for breakfast -- and they concluded that since so many "vegetarians" eat it, chicken must be a vegetable.

Planet Waves
Venus figurine from Hohle Fels (Schwaben, Germany), dated to between 35,000 and 40,000 years ago. Its origins belong to the early Aurignacian, at the very beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, associated with the earliest presence of Cro-Magnon in Europe. The figure is considered the oldest undisputed known example of a depiction of a human being.

         Among our many conversations, my friend and I talked about what happened to Mars. Our society perceives Mars as a dry and desolate place, a vast desert. It's named for the Roman god of war. Its reddish color is associated with anger and spilled blood. It's easy to imagine what might have happened there, or at least that something did.

         My friend's theory was that, at some time long ago, an asteroid hit Mars and damaged the atmosphere. As the air drifted away, the planet dried up, and the Martians, instead of dealing with their situation and helping one another, made war on one another, resulting in the desolate place we send robots to today.

         (Plus, another student of such things suggested that there may still be a lot of "discarnated" Martians floating around on the astral plane, still wondering what the heck happened. He suggested that many encounters with supposed UFOs and space beings involved Martians showing up in people’s consciousness, via astral projection.)

Mars, the Metaphor

         I take these things as metaphor. We don't really know what happened on Mars, but some of us are noticing what's happening on Earth. Our planet seems to be heating up and drying out. Other unusual things are happening, such as increasing intensity of storms. In the midst of this, many people are reacting to one another with hostility, though this emotional state is rarely seen in context of the background environment that supports it. And a lot of people are floating around cyberspace like Martians without bodies, wondering where they are.

         Here in the midst of our technological boon, there's an abundance of strife and warfare. I mean this between societies and within them; between economic strata; between competing companies; between refugees and governments; between races; between factions within various movements; and for the use of resources. The United States has spent many trillions of dollars on wars since 9/11, while our national infrastructure is rotting out.

Planet Waves
Female figurines from Siberia, made of mammoth tusk, dating from c. 23000-19000 BCE. Image courtesy of The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

         On the social level, hostility, smug or overt, is at the highest peak that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime. Some of it is crude, blatant meanness. Some is nicely packaged, well-presented, shrink-wrapped, extremely polite aggression. It might be coming from jealous, zombie coworkers or twisted ex-in-laws or ex-whatevers with an axe to grind. It might be people spreading poison on Twitter or Facebook, as some attempt to shit where others eat. It does not matter: it's all the same thing, and we tend to take it as a given.

         Much of the strife and tension exists between men and women, as individuals and as "special interest groups" being pitted against one another. This, as if they are something separate, and have no common interests, nothing productive to do together, nothing to share, and nothing to celebrate. More to the point, the military theory behind the war between the sexes seems to involve the idea that one sex is inherently evil, and the other is inherently good; and that good must conquer evil.

         Where "the sexes" are involved, sex is involved. Here, we have issues. For all the talk about negotiating consent, this is impossible where people are not conversant. I would say that most ordinarily everyday folks are about as conversant in matters of sexuality as they are in string theory and would be more comfortable talking about the time they had a staph infection. On a really good day, we get a discussion of consent. And consent is a political concept; what happened to the emotional and biological thing known as desire?

         This relates to there being little concept of sex as existing (in the public dialog) independently of an additional modifying concept, such as misconduct, violence, violation, exploitation, trafficking, aggression, abuse, regret, or transgression.

         How long is that "sustainable"? And who exactly wants it? Who is ready to take a step in some other direction, or to help take possession of the problem? Or more to the point, what is the purpose of this war? Whose agenda is being served by disrupting the social relationships between men and women?

         Or put in metaphorical terms: what, exactly, happened on Mars?

Male, Female, and Balance on the Planet

         To my perception, the state of the male-female relationship is an indicator of the true state of the planet. This is not an original idea: on the deepest and also the most obvious level, in male-female relationships, we are talking about the basis of fertility, the creation of new generations, the ability to feed the population, and thus of human existence. We are talking about balance between yin and yang. This works equally for those who don’t consider themselves hetero, in terms of inner masculine/feminine balance (which also applies to everyone else).

Planet Waves
Terracotta female figurine believed to be from Cyprus, c. 1450-1200 BCE. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

         Which brings me to the topic of Virgo, the symbol of agriculture and the sign of the goddess. And ruled by androgynous Mercury, Virgo is also about inner gender balance. So let’s be clear here and state that out loud: the sign we associate with the goddess has an androgynous quality to it. Virgo is not ruled by Venus, for example, and Venus has no special dignity in Virgo. This is worth pondering, as it tells us something about both Venus and Virgo.

         Virgo is a pre-Christian symbol that has become associated with the Virgin Mary, who is an incarnation of the goddess cycle that also includes Demeter and Ceres. You can think of Virgo as an idea honoring the transition of humans from hunter-gatherers to agrarian people.

         Imagine how fragile that transition was in the early centuries, as people grew attached to having somewhat stable homes and somewhat dependable food supplies, yet had limited means to deal with the uncertainties of nature. This led to the development of technologies like writing (to preserve instructions for farming) and proto-astrology (a way of understanding the cycles and seasons).

         During this phase of history, which some say spans back about 12,000 years but may be double that, we can speculate a little, and say that humanity perceived the Earth as a living creature, one that would respond to its efforts involving food production. The many representations of fertility goddess and the obvious association between sex, fertility and our ability to feed ourselves are something we can learn from today. We have nearly lost any association between sexuality, love, and the ability to feed ourselves.

         We also live on a planet that is heating up and drying out as fast as the emotional realm in which we live. I am not suggesting that there is a direct causation of one by the other, only that there is a correlation. It's more like they are outgrowths of the same thing, that thing being closely related to the core of existence. With the exception of meat and leafy vegetables, everything we eat is a sex organ (seeds, beans, grains, gourds, fruit, pods, flowers) or sexual secretion (dairy). This is the essence of the sign Virgo, which is the sign of the goddess.

         Ancient societies made such a point of associating fertility, sex and food that we might want to pay attention to what is happening around us. We might want to notice the environment, on every level. That also means noticing what we avoid, and avoid discussing. Two verboten subjects, in our current milieu, are anything sincere about sex, and about the global climate situation, and the food situation.

Planet Waves
Limestone fertility goddess figurine from Cyprus, c.3000–2500 BCE. Image The J. Paul Getty Museum.

         We are being conditioned to think, speaking as a society with its norms, that all sex is toxic, and we live in a world where nearly all food is toxic. The two are directly related. I don't just mean in the sense of contamination or agricultural chemicals, which is a related problem, but rather in its most basic composition.

Meet the Burrito From Hell

         The Cheesecake Factory's breakfast burrito, at 2,700 calories and 4300 milligrams of sodium (the equivalent of seven Sausage McMuffins), is the result of agribusiness gone insane. Nobody could hunt or gather or scavenge such a thing. And is there any actual nutrition in there or is it all just fattening and inflammatory?

         This is food warfare, in a time when 12% of the world population is officially considered undernourished (that seems like an absurd underestimate; it has to be much worse, if you count all the people eating at 7-Eleven and BK).

         Something is out of balance, and we need to look within ourselves to find out what it is. It exists on the planet around us, though as a secondary effect of something going on deep within the human condition, which means within individual people.

         Sex and food are both existential facts of our lives. We tend to make a big drama around both of them. Whatever may be the utterly dismal state of sex education, how many people don't know the difference between GMO and organic food?

          Apparently most people are entirely confused. Who knows where their food really comes from, or what is in it? Who knows how to prepare a meal without the use of stuff that comes wrapped in plastic? Are you lucky enough to have a farmer’s market or CSA in your area?

         I am a little amazed every time a houseguest leaves behind a sealed plastic bag full of perfectly uniform carrot cores that have been run through a lathe, or a sealed container of pre-chopped onions. This is not intended as a judgment but rather as an observation of what we take for granted here in modern times. Even plenty of "fresh" food is highly processed. A lot of stuff in the “health food” store is not that healthful.

Planet Waves
Painting by Majak Bredell.

         Here in our moment of 2,700-calorie burritos, individually wrapped carrots and supposedly no difference between sex and assault, we are getting messages from the past. This week the news service Associated Press ran a story about how a drought in Europe has revealed "hunger stones" along the bank of the Elbe River in the Czech Republic.

         AP writes, "The oldest water mark visible dates to 1616. That stone, considered the oldest hydrological landmark in Central Europe, bears a chiseled inscription in German that says: 'When you see me, cry'."

         The good news is that we know that drought is not a new thing; it happens regularly. The bad news is that at this stage of history, we're aware that there is something global going on. The even worse news is that despite all of our technology, scientific knowledge and supposed efforts at spiritual advancement, our society seems unable to actually do anything about our problem, or even agree that it exists.

         With the emotional waters at low-ebb as well, another message from the past was circulating on the internet this week: a message from women to men. We could also say, "When you hear me, cry." But that would be a different kind of tears.

         The planet may be heating up, and we may be headed for a climate crisis like nothing we could have imagined. Yet if we are going to have any hope of adapting, coping, or evolving, we'll need to get along well enough to experience our common interests, and act on them. We have many.

         And among us, we have what we need, and we have plenty to share. We may not be able to change the weather, but we can change the human condition.

With love,

Planet Waves FM is Back

Planet Waves

Your Autumn Reading by Eric Francis
Empathy-Pathos: A Study in Venus Retrograde

Dear Friend and Listener:

         This letter is to introduce the Planet Waves Autumn Reading, called Empathy-Pathos. This will be a study in Venus retrograde. We are offering all 12 signs currently for just $57

         This will go up soon to $67, and eventually $77. Early purchasers get the best price. I am planning to deliver the reading around the equinox, well ahead of Venus stationing retrograde.

Planet Waves
Eric Francis.

Project Description

         Mars retrograde just ended, and Venus retrograde is about to begin. Spanning from Oct. 5 through Nov. 15, the retrograde will be in Scorpio (where Venus is supposedly not so happy) into Libra (where she is supposedly thrilled). To me, this describes many shades of empathy (the ability to resonate with another) and pathos (suffering, or passion, which come from the same root). 

         In this reading, I will review Mars retrograde and the recent eclipses, and open up the territory of Venus and its unusual way of resonating and emoting. We'll explore approaches to the masculine and feminine attributes of Venus, as well as the introspective and expressive aspects of Venus through the retrograde process. 

         The retrograde begins with Venus square Mars, describing the prevailing tension and struggle with inhibition that characterize our time in history. From there, the journey is inward, to the source of whatever feelings you may be experiencing.

         These will be audio readings, featuring music by Vision Quest. With apologies to those who were planning on video, I'm feeling a little over-exposed at the moment and will be better able to deliver this reading in spoken word format, without the distraction of visuals. I will, however, add an introductory video that illustrates both Venus and Mars retrograde, so you have that to work with.

         The readings apply to Sun and rising sign, and will be 30 to 40 minutes each.

You may pre-order here.

         If you would like to order by phone, call us at (845) 481-5616.

         Thank you for your business, and for trusting me as your astrologer.

With love,

Eric has completed the astrology segments of your 2018-19 Virgo Astrology Studio. Currently available for just $44 -- order today and get instant access.

September 2018 Monthly Horoscope (#1217) | By Eric Francis Coppolino
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- Not everything is a question of power. Most are matters of influence, or what might be called informal power. For much of the year, you've been encountering a diversity of scenarios designed to teach you the difference. This is important territory to sort out, here in our era where many believe that the destiny of all power is to be abused, and where influence is so often mistrusted. Though much of this seems to exist on the social and professional levels, the underlying question comes back to your family, and how things got done when you were a child. How much force was used? How much persuasion? How much consensus building was there? Did those in the minority have a say in guiding the direction of events? One distinction between power and influence is that power requires no trust, while influence is all about trust. Right now, trust is the thing most lacking in the world, and it's creating a vacuum that is being filled not just by power, and the abuse of power, but the belief that there's one way to get things done: by force. You have seen and experienced the ways this fails utterly. It's time to understand how to work with informal influence, and for this, you must learn to cultivate trust. I know this is not easy. At times, it even seems impossible, or absurd. But for you, who want to get things done, it's essential.
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Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- No matter how much emphasis one places on relationships, human consciousness has a solitary quality. Setting aside the sheer, agonizing and needless loneliness that so many experience, there are subtle questions, for those who get to have plenty of company. How well do we ever really know someone? What are the gaps and the spaces in our friendships and intimate relationships, and how do we coexist with them? Yet this has an antithesis. There are moments of revelation when, suddenly, it seems we just understand someone, or really get where they're coming from. In those times facets of their character that seemed cryptic can come into focus and make perfect sense. People can reveal themselves in the most unusual ways, perhaps without ever intending it, making it easier to love and admire them for who they are rather than who we may think they are. This works within your relationship to yourself as well. In about a month, your ruling planet stations retrograde, which will take you on a tour of your own mysteries, and secrets you may keep from yourself. Some of these will involve your deepest sentiments about your sexuality, how you present yourself in your relationships, and profound questions of vulnerability and availability. This can be a rare experience of inner revelation, during which you will get to know yourself in a whole new way.
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Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- What is public and what is private? The line is becoming ever thinner, if it exists at all. Biographical facts, financial records, family photos and the most searing details of our intimate lives are variously hacked or turned to gossip, or we reveal them voluntarily. All of this is a fact of total digital immersion. It came upon us faster than global warming, with effects we've taken for granted more readily. The spiritual effects are the most profound: do you even know yourself any more? By that, I mean has your locus of identity shifted beyond yourself into an inside-out world of superficial validation? Does broadcasting an experience to the world make it real for you? Do you feel more or less content, relaxed and stable than you did 10 years ago? If you're concerned about these things, you have an opportunity to reconsider, though it's going to take some focus and energy. You must think of this as a spiritual issue of the first order, and I think you can feel that. First, it involves who you are inside, and whether that matches who you present to the world. Second, every one of your relationships is involved, in the most sublime sense: the network of souls that surrounds you and of which you are an equal part. Focus on these two elements, as a matter of what you might call karma yoga. Attend to them ongoing, every time you touch a device, and every time you come face to face with one of your fellow humans, and look into their eyes.
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Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- The past few months have certainly been a walk along the edge. And this has been no ordinary cliff-side stroll. You have been treading, in true shamanic style, the boundary between life and death, self and other, individual and collective, real and imaginary. You have been exploring the strange region where fear meets desire. You have, if this journey has gone well, learned how to assert yourself, and how to submit and surrender. You cannot do one without being able to do the other; the total dynamic is what counts. For the next 10 weeks, you will get to reassess everything you've learned. In some ways, you will get a do-over, which means you will get a second chance to make things right. Through this phase, which consists of Mars traversing the entirety of Aquarius, your 8th solar house, you will need to depend on friends and allies, particularly ones who have emerged recently. The thing to focus on is mutual interest, not self-interest. There are many elements of your life experience that feed directly into a collective reality. There are many facets of social reality that influence your life. Your role is to work the connections; to weave the reality you want to be part of; and to establish common ground. This is done slowly, and persistently; with care, and with patience.
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Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- The truth matters. It matters to you, and to the people you care about. One distinct property of our plane of consciousness is that it's possible to deceive, and to deny. This often becomes less a matter of ethics as of pragmatism or convenience. Yet you need clarity, and you need sincerity, in all facets of your life. Be aware that the world does not generally support this, nor do our typical structures and agreements of relationships. In order to be real with people, and to insist on reality only, you may feel like you have to stem the tide. You may experience consequences. You may lose people you previously thought of as friends, and in the process, redefine friendship. You may need to get a few bumps and scrapes. You may need to challenge groups of people, or at least stand apart from them, something that's likely to have been a theme running through the year. Whatever it takes. It's essential that you know the difference between when you're making up your mind, when you're going with the crowd, and when you're not thinking at all. You owe it to yourself to stick to the first, which means understanding when the second and the third apply. And to do this, it helps to understand your motives, especially in any relationship where sex or money is at stake.
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Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- One of your challenges involves seeking pleasure without guilt. This issue might be the very bane of your Virgo Sun or rising sign, and presently a variety of factors are conspiring to iron the wrinkles and work out the kinks. The idea, though, is to seek pleasure not just without guilt, but also without getting lost in fantasy. This can be a challenging place to explore, as so many factors are involved, and it's one reason why getting lost in your work is one of the easiest things for you to do. And that, in fact, counts as a form of pleasure, though you need more. There's an art of doing things for their own sake, such as stamp collecting, or sex. The concept here is to subvert any notion of obligation, which is the lighter side of guilt. Do things that appeal to the child in you, remembering that kids are often motivated by something seeming like the thing to do at the time. If it's a selling point, this will work well for your productivity and creativity, though you will get the best result when you stick to "art for art's sake" territory. This will serve your relationships, too. With Neptune and Nessus creeping across your 7th house, your human encounters need a point of orientation, and beauty would serve well as one. The tantric principle I'm working with, though, is to avoid the realm of fantasy, and to stay grounded in your senses. This will activate a more tangible aspect of your imagination, which translates to tapping creativity more freely and more easily.
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Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- The astrological theme of this autumn will be Venus retrograde in your sign, and in your adjoining sign Scorpio. While the retrograde begins in October, the effects phase in beginning this month. You've witnessed partners go through the effects of Mars retrograde for much of the year. This has, for people close to you, brought certain personal events into a wide field of reality. Your process is likely to be different: a deeply introspective, personal questioning of private matters that are difficult to name and grasp. The general heading is "how you feel about yourself," and this is a difficult thing to parse because it colors your environment. Rather than seeming personal, it manifests in your circumstances, which you tend to process as external factors rather than internal. And you have a way of masking your questions about yourself. The most salient information you get over the next few months will come from your doubts about yourself. The placement of the retrograde will have a way of making these both tangible and personal, rather than environmental. Notice what you blame yourself for. Notice what you suspect others blame you for. This is not for the purpose of recrimination or having remorse. It's so you can get an inventory of what you blame yourself for, typically with no substantial reason -- much less actual evidence. Once you have a grasp on that, you can work it through more effectively, and make the changes you need to make.
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Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- One of the great challenges of life is to experience things as others do. It's a stretch to do this using logic and reasoning; it's more of a stretch to experience, emotionally, someone's existence from the point of view of someone close to them. The recent retrograde of Mars in Aquarius has had the effect of making you care a little less than you might ordinarily, which is essential to your independence. The fact of others trying to impose their worldview or reality on you has long been a fact of your life, and you are at a point where you're finally breaking free of that. I'm talking about something different, which is the reality that others experience, as apart from you, and with no intent to impose anything on you. I just mean what they feel and how they experience their own existence. Venus retrograde, which spans the entire autumn, will give you a tool, a kind of emotional resource. Here is a clue: The emotional experience of isolation is one of the most pervasive on our planet. I suspect this has gone on for a long time, though there is something about the digital environment that amplifies and enhances the sensation. It will help if we all had a little clue how lonely we feel, and get a clue from one another what we might do about it. What kind of presence do others need from you? That is the question.
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Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- Many events of the summer and autumn will start to make sense early next year. Until then, you will need to be patient, but don't bide your time: use your time well. The primary theme in your charts for the foreseeable future involves confidence. Despite the freewheeling reputation of your sign, you tend to rely on tradition as a foundation: for example, established values, methods and structures. And at the moment, those are the very things that are shifting, grinding and at times collapsing. While you may be losing something in terms of an ability to have expectations, you are gaining freedom from the past. This particularly involves your family and its values, which have had a way of being the foundational layer of your own. What you are discovering is that you've carved out your own way of doing things, your own beliefs, and your own values, going back a long time. Now, you're in the process of claiming the progress you've made, and acknowledging that you are in fact different from your predecessors in substantial ways -- one of them being that you're much happier than they were. There's a reason for that, which is yours to discover. Along the way, consider this: any tradition that does not grow, evolve, and develop is dead. To be relevant, helpful and meaningful, tradition must travel with us travelers, as a living companion.
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Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- The recent Mars retrograde ended in your sign; that's a way of saying that a collective issue of some kind came right back to you. It has landed in your lap for your evaluation. And that issue is desire. You have a way of allowing other people to determine what you want; what is appropriate for you; even what is true and what is not, in what you think of as some objective sense. By now, you may be experiencing the futility of living this way. Your ability to evaluate these things for yourself is the essence of your ability to exert your will. Now, seemingly all of a sudden, your will and your desire are of supreme importance. The odd knife-edge you may be walking is, can you experience desire without guilt? Can you have a notion of what is right for you, without experiencing some emotional compromise leading you to want to apologize for existing? Be clear about that much: guilt in any form means doing just that. This is not about right or wrong; those are subjective judgments. Your existence is about who you inherently are, and your right to guide your life from your core values. You have been told over and over again that you cannot have a value without others first approving of it, which is why you think you need the approval of others.  I have news for you today: that's not true.
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Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- Between Sept. 10 and Nov. 15, Mars makes its way back across your sign. One essential moment in this process is on Oct. 8, when Mars takes new territory for the first time since going retrograde in late June. For now, let's consider what happens between now and Oct. 8, which is what I call the echo phase of Mars retrograde. During this time, Mars will make contact with the degrees of the zodiac where it was recently retrograde. This is not a repeat, but rather a review, from an entirely different perspective. All the planets are in different positions. Every factor and alignment in your life has shifted, a little or a lot. You have gained experience and familiarity with unusual inner territory. And most of all, there are both feelings and elements of your reality that you cannot deny. In a sense, you are holding the secret to your own existence, and this is a tremendous responsibility. As Lou Reed said, self-knowledge is a dangerous thing: the freedom of who you are. Once you possess that knowledge, you possess a key to freedom. When you deny what you know, you also deny your ability to act upon it. You get both, or neither at all. This is another way of saying that your freedom is, of itself, a kind of responsibility, which is wholly and entirely why freedom is so wildly unpopular.
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Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- Events this year have rearranged your inner reality. They have done so in ways that you wanted, and that you needed, and that you never could have predicted. The resulting changes in your life will emerge from the evolution of your inner architecture. This is not an automatic process. It can seem that way, if you approach your existence in a fog, though certain distinctive elements of recent events have done their bit to burn away the haze and reveal what was lurking in the shadows. What your astrology strongly suggests is that you've been liberated from something, starting with a pattern of thought that was operating beneath your consciousness. This was a little like a coral reef lurking a few feet beneath the waves. You might not know it's there until you run into it. Yet in our particular metaphor, you go further: you recognize that the reef is alive, and it's you. What you have, in total, is the opportunity to shift your identity from any externals, images, self-images and expectations, into a reality that is more akin to what you want and what you design for yourself, as a living process of growth and invention. You have discovered the location of this inner territory, and many of its properties -- the most significant among them is that you heal, you grow, you change, and you live your life from the inside out.

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