Chez Shakespeare

Roche famly, at Sunday afternoon tea, Shakespeare & Co. Books, Paris. Photo by Eric Francis.

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About all those cholesterol drug commercials

Good afternoon,

I’m a fan of a guy named Dr. Mercola — an osteopath with a writing team and a really good website. I have no idea how I even got on his mailing list, but I get his mailings and they are all valuable; some, like the one I am sharing with you today, are absolutely excellent. (For those with pets, he has a colleague on the site who is doing some great stuff on veterinary medicine.)

The incredible, evil egg? A variety of them, as sold in Haikou, Hainan, China. Photo: Wikipedia.

The current trend in drug commercials is cholesterol medication. For a while it was prostate, then Viagra comes into vogue, and now every other TV commercial seems to be about lowering your cholesterol to supposedly prevent heart disease and strokes. Well — based on known science, that turns out to be a likely case of bullshit.

In this recent article, Mercola’s writing team takes apart the issue, looking at a number of studies and what they say. One thing he notes is that by drastically lowering cholesterol, we deprive the brain of energy and that is a potential cause of depression. Cholesterol is also a key source of what we need to make sex hormones. So if you want to suppress your sex drive, cutting out cholesterol is a great way to do that.

Though I don’t do much investigative reporting anymore, I know the real thing when I see it. Mercola’s articles read like a very well-crafted set of research notes that could be developed into an investigative series on the issue they cover. I strongly suggest, by the way, that you look into his coverage of vitamin D. This is the vitamin that isn’t really a vitamin — it’s not found naturally in any food. Those links are easy to find, and there is a cholesterol-vitamin D connection: your body cannot synthesize vitamin D from sunlight unless you have a good level of cholesterol in your blood. Vitamin D, in turn, is the easiest way to stack the deck in your favor on heart disease and cancer.

With that, a side note about sun screen lotions: they block the production of vitamin D, which happens naturally only in the skin. We fear that sunlight causes cancer, and by adding SPF, that prevents the cancer-blocking property of sunlight. This is an old story: nearly everything the chemical industry creates backfires.

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The Moon and Neptune

By Len Wallick

In our present astrology, we have as our continued background the cardinal T-square. It seems that most of the major planets and many of the minor ones are lately a part of it. One planet we have not heard about lately is Neptune, meaningfully lurking on the outskirts of our collective consciousness, retrograde in very late Aquarius — our focus today after a very brief review.

Retrograde Uranus, still in Aries until the weekend, accompanies retrograde Jupiter having recently re-entered the third degree of the same sign. Retrograde Pluto, with its superior tenure, is in the fourth degree of Capricorn. Saturn is already in the second degree of Libra with Venus in the fourth degree and Mars in the eighth degree of same.

We have also been served a lot of information about the Sun and Moon this past month, most recently with the two luminaries separating today from their challenging conjunction in Leo. The Sun is still functionally opposed to the Aquarius conjunction of Nessus and Damocles. We have anticipated the impending Mercury retrograde in Virgo with Old Fleet-foot having entered its echo phase earlier this month, on its way to station in ten days. We have heard a lot about all those planets engaged with the dual themes of relationship and “all of us together/all at the same time.”

One might wonder how we have allowed Neptune to have so easily assumed its preferred role, out of the limelight, pulling the strings, the proverbial man behind the curtain. After all, Old Foggy has long been in a tight sextile (60 degrees of separation) to the Galactic Center in Sagittarius. Given that the core of our galaxy serves as the higher octave of the “all of us together” theme in the cardinal T-square as well as its thematic bridge to the aspects of 2012, one would think that would have given this aspect more attention; or rather, conscious attention.

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Astrology Today: The Oracle for Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010

Today’s Oracle takes us to the Scorpio monthly of Sept. 4, 2006

The Oracle.

This month we continue with the metaphor of a strong home life being the foundation for an eminently successful business life. Your emotional security is the basis of your creative success. The flexibility of your family life is the means by which you can focus yourself into the leadership role that life is demanding of you on a consistent basis. These relationships have come in and out of focus at various times, but never has the image been as clear as it is today.

(The Daily Oracle is a random selection from one of 10,000 Eric Francis horoscopes. New horoscopes by Eric are published weekly plus twice a month in Planet Waves Astrology News and Planet Waves Light. The Oracle itself is a divination tool available to subscribers to either of these services.)

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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Sometimes, during a total eclipse of the Sun, a strange shadow of darkness can be seen stretching off into the distance. Called shadow cones, they are visible because the Earth’s atmosphere is not completely transparent, scattering sunlight and hence appearing blue during the day. Shadow cones are particularly dramatic for eclipses near the horizon, as geometry creates a long corridor of sun-blocked air. Visible above is a shadow cone caught during a sunset total solar eclipse visible last month from Patagonia, Argentina. The eclipsed Sun itself still appears bright around the edges of the Moon because of light from the surrounding corona. A few minutes later, the Moon began to move away from the Sun as both set behind distant Andes mountains. Text and photo courtesy of NASA.gov.

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‘A sigh of relief’

Editor’s Note: We’ve been asking our clients for feedback about the professional services we publish, and your responses have created the opportunity for an exciting dialog.


Dear Eric,

For me, coming across Planet Waves came at a time my intuition shot way up but my tolerance was about the same… and what I was reading week to week was a great, organized communication of things I was trying to verbalize. In many ways, the first few years kept me sane! I think as I have shared it with others here and there through the years, it always seems to come as a sigh of relief — they often find something in there that brings them from wherever they are, back to center. Now, it’s become a great tool for confirmation and contemplation as well as a reminder in tense times that there always is a bigger picture, we are all connected, we are all going through it together and that we are all gonna be just fine…

– Daniele from Venice

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The New Moon and You

By Len Wallick

Tonight at 11:08 pm EDT (overnight in the United Kingdom and Europe; Tuesday in Australia), the Moon will make a conjunction to the Sun in mid-Leo. A conjunction is two points at the same degree of the same sign on the wheel of the zodiac. Once every 29 days or so, that happens with Luna and Sol and it is what we call the New Moon. Today’s New Moon is close to the Leo midpoint, which is an especially sensitive point; the New Moon is talking to the cardinal T-square that we’ve been describing on these pages and can be seen as a precipitating event.

What is unique about this New Moon is that it makes aspects to many different minor planets, and is a kind of grand cross of its own. For example, Damocles and Nessus are opposite the New Moon in Aquarius, and it’s square the very distant planet Sedna in Taurus. I’ll come back to these aspects, which are calling for extra attention in our relationships.

We do not see the Moon at the time of the New Moon. It is situated directly between Earth and the Sun longitudinally. As such, the side of the Moon facing Earth is in shadow and not visible in the sky. When the New Moon takes place at or near the same degree as one of its nodes it is also a latitudinal conjunction with the Sun and we see Luna as a shadow crossing in front of the Sun, known as a solar eclipse. That happened a month ago. So this is the first New Moon after a lunar eclipse.

The New Moon is the beginning of a new cycle. It takes place in the context of a cardinal T-square that we’ve been writing about pretty much nonstop. Uranus and Jupiter are currently both retrograde in early Aries. Pluto, is currently retrograde in early Capricorn. Saturn is in early Libra, where it will be till late 2012.

These are the slow-movers in the setup. They cover three points of the cardinal cross, with other subtle points completing the cross from Cancer. Then the fast-movers come along: for example, they are joined by Venus and Mars, all direct in early Libra. And, once a month, the Moon comes along and completes the cross from Cancer, joining those ‘subtle points’ just mentioned. This will hold in a dependable pattern for many months: slow movers moving along, and the fast movers coming through and picking up or emphasizing the dynamic.

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Astrology Today: The Oracle for Monday, Aug. 9, 2010

Today’s Oracle takes us to the Virgo monthly of June 05, 2006

The Oracle.

Your sign is reputed to be the hardcore brainpower department of astrology, and to a large extent it’s true. But few understand the extent to which you struggle with words, because they always seem to slip and strain for real meaning. You can, however, take advantage of some unusual astrology under which more people than you’re accustomed to really do understand what you’re getting at, and can share your vision of life. You may need to be the one who dares to start the conversation, and you’ll need to put your idealistic views out there for others to hear — but it’s a chance worth taking.

(The Daily Oracle is a random selection from one of 10,000 Eric Francis horoscopes. New horoscopes by Eric are published weekly plus twice a month in Planet Waves Astrology News and Planet Waves Light. The Oracle itself is a divination tool available to subscribers to either of these services.)

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East Woods at Midsummer – Lughnasadh

East Woods at Midsummer. Photo by Eric Francis.

We are currently at what’s called Midsummer holiday. This is one of the cross-quarter days, when the Sun reaches 15 degrees of a fixed sign, currently, Leo. That was overnight Friday into Saturday, but due to Monday’s New Moon, the game is still on. In Christian terms this is called Lammas; pagans refer to it as Lughnasadh, celebrating the first harvest and the reaping of grain. In mediæval times the feast was known as the “Gule of August.” It gets a few other names tacked onto it as well.

These natural holidays tell the story of the year. The quarter-days are the equinoxes and solstices. At the midpoints of these days are the cross-quarters, sometimes thought of as ‘minor’ sabbaths but in truth, they are the real hot spots. We’re all familiar with Beltane, Mayday or The May. This is the Taurus holiday, celebrating birth, sex and wealth. It is the rite of spring, probably the oldest of the cross-quarter days. We’re all familiar with Samhain (pronounced sah-wen), which exists in modern times as Halloween. In Christian terms this is the time of year when we celebrate All Soul’s Day or All Saint’s Day, and in Latin countries, the Days of the Dead. This is the counterpoint to Beltane, the Scorpio holiday of death and rebirth.

The two sabbaths not commonly known in modern times are Lughnasadh and Imbolc — also called Lammas and Candlemas. (The Onion also celebrates Zweibelmas, named after its 128-year-old publisher emeritus, T. Herman Zweibel.) Note that all of these holidays or sabbaths go by many different names. For example, Imbolc is called Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of Mary, Groundhog Day and a few other things.

Basically, Lughnasadh is the first harvest or second planting. This, as contrasted to the final harvest at Samhain or Halloween. The Sun at this stage has reached the midpoint of Northern Hemisphere summer; that was yesterday. It is a solar holiday, one of the eight noted points of the Earth’s journey round the Sun. It is traditionally celebrated Aug. 1, a bit ahead of the exact Leo midpoint.

The quarter days are when the Sun changes seasons and aligns with the Aries Point. When we reach a cross-quarter day, the Sun is 45 degrees from the change of seasons, and thus activates the Aries Point. Tomorrow there is a New Moon at 17+ Leo, so we have a solar-lunar event very close to one of these midpoints. So, in a seemingly roundabout but in fact direct way, the Sun and Moon form a conjunction in alignment to the current Venus – Mars – Jupiter – Saturn – Uranus – Pluto lineup in the early cardinal signs. This could definitely shake the tree. Fortunately, Congress has gone home for summer recess. It would be nice if CNN took a recess as well.

Here is a cool bit from Wikipedia that gives a glimpse into how this festival was celebrated in relatively recent times. In The Every-Day Book by William Hone (published in 1838), he speaks of a festival common among Scottish farmers near Edinburgh that happens on Aug. 1, or “Lammas Day.” He says that they “build towers…leaving a hole for a flag-pole in the center so that they may raise their colors.” When the flags over the many peat-constructed towers were raised, farmers would go to other’s towers and attempt to “level them to the ground,” which, if successfully attempted, would bring great praise.

So, it looks like the farmers would play this elaborate game at halftime of the growing season and get their yayas out. Given how significant is our relationship to agriculture, Lughnasadh would seem to be a pretty significant holiday to note. Basically, whatever you see in the world around you, except for fucking, childbirth and death, is connected to agriculture. — efc

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East Woods at Midsummer

East Woods at Midsummer. Photo by Eric Francis

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