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East of the Son/West of the Mom

March 1st, 2009

By Mysti Easterwood

Part I – Saturday

When my son Taz turned 11 in 2007 he had an upburst of testosterone so powerful it rattled the kitchen cabinets. For several days I thought the boy was having an allergic reaction to our early spring, or was scoring steroids in the bathroom at school.

Mysti Easterwood.

Mysti Easterwood.

Taz is a triple Leo – Sun rising and his ruling planet, Venus, in Leo. I am a triple Cancer, with a splashy Mars/Uranus conjunct in my Cancerian eighth house. We do not, by way of understatement, argue nicely.

On this particular Saturday morning, no opportunity to act-out was left unexploited, no door went un-slammed (except the refrigerator’s); shoes, t-shirts, books were dropped in doorways, kicked along the stairs. He raged through brushing his teeth, used the remote by hurling it at the TV and things seemed to break just by being in the room with him. We had gone from zero to 60 before breakfast, and the energy had not yet peaked.

I called my creative partner – a double Taurus with Virgo rising — and described the riotous conditions. He lived 100 miles up the road, in a household of continuous mayhem. His method of dealing with it had been simply to acquiesce. “Let it be,” he said, his bottomless patience washing over me.

I had my eye on a lunar eclipse coming up later that day, and was determined to make a rendezvous with the event. My method would be to meet Taz’s onslaught with the ‘peaceful answer, which turneth away wrath.’ It would be an experiment, to see how hot and tepid intermingled.

And there was plenty of opportunity to mingle, if not tangle. My consort called back around noon, surprised to find me uncharacteristically serene. The kiddo’s temper ramped and flowed throughout the day. When I offered a homeopathic remedy for anger, it triggered a stomping fit that cracked the downstairs ceiling.

Five o’clock rolled around, and I wanted to be in visual range of the rising Moon. My bedroom windows faced north, and this required eastern sightlines. The living room was the only place in the house that offered this orientation. I dragged my cushions downstairs and plopped them in front of the TV.

“What are you doing?!” the young dragon screeched from the stairwell. “Meditating,” I said, “care to join me?” This invitation – like everything that day — was not well received. The neighbors in the adjoining duplex thumped the common wall in frustration.

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Facebook Turns Five, and a Question of Privacy

February 20th, 2009

Dear Friend and Reader,

While in Dublin over Christmas, I popped into the Lighthouse Cinema, a gorgeous new independent theater, to watch Etz Limon (Lemon Tree): a film about the Israel-Palestine conflict, shot through the perspective of two middle-aged women. In one scene, the wife of an Israeli politician divulged Palestinian sympathies to her best friend, who also happens to be a reporter. The next day, the wife’s opinion was all over the news.

An excerpt from Rachel Asher's Facebook page.

From Rachel Asher's Facebook page.

Living in the Internet age is like having a best friend who’s a reporter, and if you are part of a social networking site like Facebook, your best friendreally is a reporter.

Every photograph that’s taken, every place you go with someone is a potential news headline in the life of you and those around you.

On Feb. 15, news broke that Facebook made an attempt to hang onto your information for itself by changing its terms of use agreement. The Consumerist, a blog whose parent company also publishes Consumer Report, broke the story. Based on your privacy settings, Facebook has control over the information you publish on your page, and can reuse it whenever and however it sees fit, including articles that are posted as links from other websites. This would mean that Facebook has the right to reuse and manipulate this article you’re reading right now, because I posted it on my Facebook page.

What changed in the new Terms of Service agreement was what happens when you delete your page: previously, your content went with it. In the new Terms, Facebook got to keep your info. Eric has likened this to Ice-nine, the chemical referenced in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Everything Ice-nine touched became Ice-nine, and everything Facebook hosts becomes Facebook.

There was massive public outcry over this, and three days later they went back to their old terms and claimed sloppy contract writing as the reason for this near-massive infringement on our privacy and ownership rights.

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Poly is Political: Choosing the Freedom to Choose

February 15th, 2009

“We are equal beings and the universe is our relationships with each other.”
–Thaddeus Golas, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment

“The obstacle was not in Jacqueline, it lay deep within O herself, its roots deeper than anything she had ever before encountered. It was because René was leaving her free, and she loathed her freedom. Her freedom was worse than any chains.”
–Pauline Réage, Story of O

For an entire generation or more, right-wing political movements have hit us on the head with “the return to family values” as a top-shelf intoxicant in their political agenda. Visionaries of regressive social movements see the decline of society reflected in the supposed breakdown of the nuclear family, and view the repair of society as starting with what they feel is its most basic cellular element, a fantasy consisting of Mom, Dad and the Kidz contained in a neat package, a centrally-air conditioned, mortgaged suburban home.

Yet equally political is the personal choice to exist in different kinds of family, or what some people call “love-style,” which includes the choice to have more than one lover or life-partner as a natural state of being. It is called “polyamory” or “panfidelity,” and the basic idea is in having committed, long-term relationships with more than one person. This is different than the polygamy of the Mormons or the Jews of the Old Testament because such families generally consisted of one man and a harem of wives. In many polygamous situations across the cultures, a man can have as many wives as he can afford to support.

Polyamorous situations, on the contrary, usually are extended families or networks of men and women who are striving for a more honest, egalitarian way of life. Polyamory distinguishes itself from “swinging,” which is a lifestyle generally involving weekend sex-play among married couples. Though couples involved in swinging often have long-term friendships, the essential nature of the marriages is usually quite traditional, with the couples frequently practicing what they term “emotional monogamy.” That is, it’s OK to have sex with other people, but it’s not OK to be emotionally bonded or in love with them.

Continue Reading…

Jupiter, Chiron, Neptune Conjunction of 2009

February 8th, 2009

By Dale O’Brien

“Shapes of things before my eyes…. Will time make men more wise?”
(from an old song sung by Rod Stewart)

As a new year lies ahead of us, astrologers and their readers can speculate on whether it will be a “good year” or a “bad year,” either encouraging passive hope, or else stimulating fear. A more enlightened way of looking at things is less simplistic, but quite worthwhile. The Serenity Prayer advises us to pray that, “…we accept the things we cannot change, change the things we can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

Planet Waves
Floating Shivasana. Image by Beverly Naidus.

What does the Serenity Prayer have to do with astrology, and the astrology of 2009? I’ve found (from Chiron’s mythology, astronomy and my own astrological research) that transiting Chiron points out issues best understood from the perspective of The Serenity Prayer. Chiron orbits between Saturn and Uranus. Accepting “reality” is Saturnine; “change” is Uranian, and Chiron, mythically, is the wisest and most ethical of beings, with no permanent allegiance to either perspective. Chiron’s wise middle path meanders through time and circumstance, reminding us that sometimes change is not yet possible, is perhaps not wise, but can occur. Sooner or later, though, if wisdom guides our choices, change can come at the right time. We can take this Chironic/Serenity Prayer approach to astrology in general, and “astro-logically” speaking, certainly should look at transiting Chiron in this manner.

Speaking of Chiron, 2009 features an extremely rare triple conjunction of Chiron, Jupiter and Neptune in Aquarius. Rather than to merely pontificate about what this WILL bring, let’s look at what the “logic of the stars” (astro-logy) reveals.

A conjunction is when the planets line up together, implying collaboration. The conjunction of Sun and Moon (the most obvious components of our sky), is called a New Moon, signifying a new beginning. Similarly, any conjunction is collaboration and a new beginning. Conjunctions of planets further away from Earth and Sun deal with matters larger than the person and ego, and are therefore bigger and influential. Celestial bodies, like Chiron and Neptune, that cannot be seen by the naked eye, and orbit beyond the last visible planet (Saturn) correspond to unique perspectives that have emerged from the formerly entirely unknown collective unconscious. Jupiter (like Saturn) represents a social/societal need in humans, which results in conformity. Unlike Saturn, Jupiter suggests what we “should” do, what would be a good thing to do (for various reasons), and is related to popularization, “the thing to do.” Mythically, Jupiter creates something out of nothing (e.g., a shower of gold that He made in one of his accounts).

Some conjunctions, like a New Moon, or any conjunction involving Saturn merit an exact chart for the exact conjunction. However, Chiron, Neptune and Jupiter have inexactitude in common, so the conjunction spans most of 2009, especially mid-May and beyond.

Starting in May 2009 we have Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron in “the Cosmic Lab” (co-lab-orating) concocting (or trying to concoct) something new. Like a birth, this is a significant beginning of a process that will have a purpose and focus not just for a brief time this year, but also for many years to come. As the faster- moving Chiron, and especially Jupiter, distance themselves from one another, we can follow up this new expression of human consciousness in years to come. What wants to come in for 2009 and beyond is a very big deal for humanity. Anyone born at this time, or anything started at this time, has the potential to be truly special. Anyone’s birth chart significantly aspected by this configuration will be challenged to readjust her/his life to be better, more inspiring, and soul-based. Time and space do not allow me to go into the height, the depth and the breadth of scope involved here, at this time, but I will lay out some clues about where we can look to learn more.

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Navy Claiming Oregon’s Coastline

February 6th, 2009
Planet Waves
On Cannon Beach, Oregon, with Mark. Photo by Rachel Asher.

Dear Friend and Reader,

This week, in Daily Astrology and Adventure, we have been covering what we think is a major issue — the Navy’s plan to take over the Pacific Northwest coast of the United States. This sounds too strange to be possible, but we have the documents.

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Managing Despair

February 1st, 2009

By Jeanne Treadway

FOR MORE THAN 20 years I’ve relied on three musical traditions to carry me through the ferociously maniacal holidays. On Thanksgiving, Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacree makes me laugh so hard I usually pee myself. Dec. 8, I mourn John Lennon’s death and celebrate Jim Morrison’s birth. I dervishly dance to Spanish Caravan, Waiting For the Sun, LA Woman and When the Music’s Over until I fall in a puddle of sweat and spent euphoria. Then I play a hodgepodge of John and Yoko and add my personal chorus to So This Is Christmas. I thank John and talk a bit to him about the state of Peace on Earth these days.

Planet Waves
Image by Jude Valentine.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve, I play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Jessye Norman’s incredible soprano lifting Ode to Joy to the heavens. These personal rituals remind me of the essentials: ecstatically singing out loud, dancing long and hard, laughter, peace, love and joy. So often during the past 10 years, though, I felt as if I was just going through the motions during these sacred days. What the hell could I say to John Lennon about peace?

Since Nov. 5th, my mood has improved. I actually feel hope stealing around my heart and into my thoughts, that ‘audacity of hope’ thing. It’s not a gushy goofy hope either. I am all sunshine and daisies because Barack Hussein Obama got himself elected but I still simmer in an edgy stew of 10 outrageous and unholy years, which can suddenly boil up and choke me with fury. So, I’m cautiously happy. No matter how brilliant, well-mannered and beautiful he is, Obama is a politician and most of them are scoundrels, so he might be one too. But when I read that our soon-to-be-President called Nancy Reagan to apologize for making a joke about seances in the White House, my cheerfulness settled in for a while. This man just might have integrity. He might understand his power to wound and to heal. Imagine.

The rampant abuse of privilege during the past decade nearly destroyed my body and my heart. Be it our domestic policies or our propensity to invade first and be diplomatic later, this departing administration crawled under every low bar of vituperative insanity in our history. Parading around as fervent Christians and crippled by the Rapture concept, that regime misused the power of their office and oath beyond anyone’s comprehension. And every time I hear some exhausted but sanctimonious voice droning that we all are doing our best so there really is no abuse, my raging, pissed off tiger aspect roars to the front, scaring children and scorching bushes.

Not only do we destroy any country that might stand up for itself and its citizens, we crush our most tender Americans, our children, beneath unacceptable poverty and uncontrolled fear. Abuse fills every newscast, every conversation, every policy, nearly every thought US citizens have had for this last decade. Abuse in the form of rampant terrorism by our own government. Abuse meted out as sound fiscal policy in corporate board rooms; no CEO or CFO or ChiefDoohickyOfficer should make more than the President of the United States, let alone $4,000,000, when bonuses are included. Abuse in the wanton destruction of our Earth. Abuse in the number of children who disappear each day and the number of murders and the number of rapes and the number of home foreclosures. So much abuse glossed over as security. So many abuses explained away by free enterprise and the beastly nature of humans. No beast does what we do.

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Year of the Earth Ox 2009

January 28th, 2009

Monday marked the beginning of the year of the ox, one of 12 animals that are used as annual mascots in the Chinese zodiac. If, like me, your understanding of the meaning behind these years is limited to memories of suburban towns, dark Asian restaurants with paper place mats listing the animals, a couple of attributes and some small talk, then the following article by Chad Townsend is sure to widen your scope. He’s researched the Ox year with encyclopedic accuracy, beginning with background on how the Chinese zodiac works and where the ox fits into it.

Planet Waves
A placemat illustrating the Chinese zodiac.

One thing I learned from reading Chad’s article is that in addition to 12 animals rotating as yearly representatives, there are also five signifying elements: earth, wood, fire, metal and water. This year happens to be the year of the earth ox, the ox’s native element, and because there are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac and five elements, this combination emerges approximately once every 60 years. In the following sections, Chad takes a look at the last year of the earth ox: Jan. 29, 1949 – Feb. 16, 1950, looking at political trends, revolutions in music and literature, civil rights and the year’s most famous cow.

The time period may not have been marked by financial woes like we’re experiencing today, but it was certainly a time of great change: in the aftermath of WWII, countries like Ireland, Israel, India and others that don’t start with the letter “I” were established. Fear of communism was rampant, and George Orwell’s infamous novel 1984 was published, describing the prison that was life under communist rule. McCarthyism was budding and blooming, as was the civil rights movement: 1949 was the first year no African-American was lynched.

In 2009, our next year of the Earth Ox begins with an African-American president. In the study of cycles and patterns that so often fascinate us in studies of the zodiac, these two historical moments seem to join together. It will be interesting to review Chad’s article as this year unfolds, as parallels almost certainly will emerge.

Happy New Year,

Rachel Asher

Introduction to the Chinese Zodiac

2009 is the year of the Earth Ox. Chinese astrology changes animal signs and qualities (yang to yin, yin to yang) annually and changes elements (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire) bi-annually. Animals are always yang or yin, the same as the signs in Western astrology. 12 animal signs times five elements equal a 60-year cycle. Ox will always be yin or in the second year of the element. The first year of the element is yang.

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Barack Obama and Leos born in the Year of the Ox

January 27th, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Suzanne White, and it explores the Oxen personality, and, in particular, Oxes that are Leos. Barack Obama is a Leo/Ox: he was born on Aug. 4, 1961. Have a look at the profile below and see how it fits with our new president’s personality, or the Leo/Ox you know and love. To read more from Suzanne White on the Year of the Ox, see below. –RA

Leadership and dominion combine here to create an unforgettably forceful personality type. The tone of rapport with Leo/Oxen never feels quite intimate or cozy enough. One wonders if there is really a heart beating inside their dense ribcages or whether they are propelled by some remote control device in their garage. This assessment of the indifferent attitude that the Leo/Ox emanates is perhaps harsh, or may seem unfair. But the Leo/Ox is so austere in manner that it’s difficult not to imagine him as obdurately insensitive.

Barack Obama speaking at a campaign rally in Abington, PA. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Barack Obama speaking at a campaign rally in Abington, PA. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Leo/Oxen get places. They never cease pushing and advancing and arriving at goal upon goal despite hurdle after hurdle. We usually admire the Leo/Oxen that we meet and we cannot help but admit that they are amazing: strong, courageous and, most of all, effective. Leo/Oxen take the reins in every situation and when they are onto a project or idea, they never let up until they have mastered it.

These people are opportunists and do not hesitate before the dark wall of the devil. They plunge through fire and never flee conflict.

Normally, Leo/Oxen don’t talk very much. Around the house or office, they come off as strong but silent, even stodgy personages. It’s always obvious that Leo/Ox feels himself individual and separate from the group. And if he involves himself at all in any group endeavor or communion, he must have center stage, do all the talking, crack all the jokes and generally hold forth. Now, all of a sudden, in company with a captive audience, the Leo/Ox becomes gregarious. When he is listened to, the Leo/Ox is an orator, a performer, a fabulous synthesizer of information and a raconteur par excellence.

Leo/Oxen are “know-it-all” types and rarely let anyone get a word in edgewise when they speak. They are not too curious about others’ opinions or reflections on their views. The Leo/Ox is the personification of the Father Knows Best approach. He is the first and final judge of what is suitable and intelligent. If you have a different opinion, keep it. When there is a Leo/Ox in the room, everybody present is on his show. He is intransigently, tenaciously and arrogantly there. You are mere decoration.

The Leo/Ox character seeks permanence and longs for solidity in both personal and public ways. He is as earthy as they come and seems to need to sop up warmth from the outside, to hold on tight to love and marriage and dreams of home and family for dear life. Yes, he is successful and unbeatably strong. But it can get lonely inside that autocratic head. And the Leo/Ox needs somebody else to turn on the heat. He can build and make and do anything at all humanly possible — except simple tenderness. Expressions of affection are not given to the Leo/Ox, and when you get to know them well, you realize that what’s lacking weighs them down.

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The Earth Ox Year – by Suzanne White

January 27th, 2009

Dear Friend and Reader:

The wonders of the Internet.

When I was new to reading about astrology, I found a book that covered the Western signs in the context of the Chinese zodiac. It’s called The New Astrology by Suzanne White – a book where you can look up some ideas to go with being a Leo Rooster or a Pisces Dragon, and it was intelligent (the Pisces Dragon, my own sign, should seek employment as a philosopher or photographer, Ms. White suggests).

'Colorful bull' to greet Chinese new year.

'Colorful bull' to greet Chinese new year.

Knowing that I needed to sound vaguely intelligent about Chinese astrology with the New Year happening, I drove to Mirabai Books in Woodstock yesterday to fetch the book, which is in print and selling copies 20 years after it came out.

Then it occurred to me to call the author and see what she had so say. I found her email address, wrote to her and the next day, we were in a long conversation about this, that and several other things. And at the end of that conversation, one of the truly eloquent writers on the Chinese horoscope offered Planet Waves readers her Earth Ox article, as well as one we’ll print above this, about the Leo Ox — that is, Barack Obama’s combined sign.

Suzanne, a Wave of love and appreciation for your work.

— Eric Francis
for Planet Waves

The Year of the Earth Ox – by Suzanne White

1709 Samuel Johnson

1769 Napoleon Bonaparte, Le Marquis de Sade, Adolph Hitler, Jean Cocteau, Erle Stanley Gardner, Robert Benchley, Jawaharlal Nehru, Claude Rains

1889 Charlie Chaplin, Sessue Hayakawa, Jean Cocteau

1949 Ivana Trump, Lindsay Wagner, Billy Joel, Sigourney Weaver, Paloma Picasso, Jessica Lange, Richard Gere, John Belushi, Jeff Bridges, Sissy Spacek, Niki Lauda, Hank Williams, Fanny Ardant, Patty Lupone, Ken Follett, Lionel Ritchie, Meryl Streep, Lindsay Wagner, Shelly Duval, Keith Caradine, Robert Caradine, Twiggy, Ed Begley Jr., Bruce Springsteen, Sigourney Weaver, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Armatrading, Ted Danson, Sissy Spacek, Tom Waits, Victoria Principal

Here we enter the year of the busybody dictator Ox. Curious to a fault, nosy and meddlesome, Earth Oxen think they know best, and they often do. In general, these folks consider themselves superior to other people. They not only think they are better; they believe they were born to lead others, to teach the poor things how to live, and sometimes even to push them around like pawns on the chessboard of life. What we have here is a very nature-oriented, earth-bound, power-mad megalomaniac whose nose for locating flies in life’s various ointments is practically infallible.

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Best Articles of 2008

January 25th, 2009

Dear Friend and Reader:

As we near the Jan. 26 solar eclipse, a time for letting go at the past, let’s take a look back at the past four seasons, which seem to have whipped by like time-lapse photography. This was a year that Pluto changed signs: we will not forget it. We will remember for any number of reasons, personal and cultural. It was the year of the banking collapse, and of Barack Obama getting elected; it was the last year of the Bush administration. Yet when you take an interior view of life, you get a different perspective: the relationships that changed, or which began or ended; how our kids were doing, and those close by; what we’ve been learning and how we’ve been growing.

Planet Waves

Pluto changing signs represents a turning point for all of us: looked at one way, a contraction; looked at another way, the grounding of a vision that we have for ourselves. By grounding, I mean the process of making real; of taking idealistic visions and turning them into organized realities. I don’t suggest you let the supposed bad economic news get under your skin. And if you find yourself in a position where you need to “survive” (which is condition normal on the planet, though some days are definitely better than others), figure out how to do it in a more meaningful way.

Between now and 2012, three outer planets change signs (Neptune, Uranus and Chiron, close on the heels of Pluto). Saturn and Uranus make four more oppositions to one another, the next being Feb 5. at 5:55 am EST. In the midst of this, Saturn moves into Libra, squaring Pluto (next autumn). Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune make a very compelling conjunction in Aquarius, a process that works out over two years (with a big peak in May). Many of these developments have an influence on the Aries Point, meaning the news will be big, and it will be personal. But as interesting and strange as this will be, the real excitement does not start till June 2012, when Uranus squares Pluto and the revolution begins. I’m up to my cerebral cortex in all of this astrology as I prepare your extended length horoscope in Next World Stories.

Astrology’s job is to look forward. For a moment, let’s look back. Rachel picked out her favorite pieces from 2008, which are below. Without making more work for Anatoly (who does our web design) here are a few of my personal favorites from 2008. One thing I did was devote a lot of energy to Eris, the planet that was classified and named in 2006. One article is below; here is another: Calling Home the Castaway Woman. This covers several of the more controversial feminine archetypes that are swept to the side of our society, including Lilith.

Speaking of ladies on the edge, I did yet another astrological tribute to my sex mentor, the High Priestess, Dr. Betty Dodson. It’s a really cool demonstration of how to take apart an astrology chart as well. There is a lot of good stuff here about the asteroids and Chiron.

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