The Year
You Don't Forget.

What it all means for 1999

Plus: A Few Interpretation Notes for Astrologers

By Eric Francis

ARIES (March 21-April 19) -- Here on Fantasy Island USA, we live engulfed in the illusion that we're untouched by world affairs, and that no matter what happens, nothing matters. Yet the great mystery of 1999 is how collective experiences will impact the individual, and how Wee Little People will impact the Rest of It All. Another profoundly unsettling modern delusion is that our lives don't matter; that we are powerless; that we cannot touch anything larger than our own allegedly meaningless existences. And people actually fall for it, maybe even you. As events of the coming 12 months are almost certain to demonstrate to you, and indeed, to many of us, we live in one world, of which you are a critical and inseparable part. I believe the lesson is inevitable; you will learn it well, or not so well. Finding your way to the truth will require experimentation with a variety of experiences which you would normally be reluctant to indulge, and following through on commitments to priorities other than those you typically hold dear. Different experiences are the most important experiences. In recent eras of your life, you have learned a lot, and shaped yourself into a person with far greater confidence than you imagined possible. Now is the time to use what you know ­ remember those very words ­ and to keep in mind that just because everyone else may seem to live on Fantasy Island, you have more important places to be.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20) -- Let the Galactic Record reflect that in 1999, in many places a gallon of gasoline costs less than a gallon of water. Isn't that sick? Water is a pure, unprocessed and non-taxed substance; gasoline must be mined, shipped a great distance, refined in a putrid and complex process, shipped another great distance and then sold at retail with heavy taxes added in. Yet we pay a price for this bargain. Instead of processing their toxic wastes, petroleum companies dump them into the air, earth and water, saving a cost that would eat up all their profits; hence, we eat and drink their toxic sludge; hence, water sold by the bottle. Is this a fair price to pay for cheap gas? Some would say so. Now for a bold question: In what ways are you doing this in your life? Are you exploiting your future and your natural resources at the cost of your creativity, your health and long-term sustainability? The transit of Saturn into rock-solid Taurus suggests a mighty crisis of values for our culture, and for you, an extended time of drawing clear limits about what is truly important. All the major areas of your life must come into question: Your personal identity, your relationships, your parents, your past -- and, most important, where you truly want to travel in life. Who do you aspire to be? Do you secretly harbor ambitions (or terror) of being nobody? Or are you finally figuring out that you possess a creative force to be reckoned with? In honor of Saturn, I would propose as your mantra for the year some wisdom I once gleaned from a fortune cookie: "Be resolutely who you are. Be humbly who you aspire to be."

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) -- Have you noticed that for the past couple of years there's been something strange about your relationships? Some of you are nodding, and others are growling, "What relationships?" I doubt you'd be choosing to do things this way if you knew you had a choice, though for your troubles, you're guaranteed a future different from the past. Now a whole new energy rises to the surface of your experiences of connecting to The Other, along with a few cosmic-scale questions: Who is this other? Is it your twin? Your soul? God? Your true lover? Your fellow human? Existence itself? Or perhaps non-existence? What if any meaningful concept of relationship to any meaningful other possessed all of these attributes? Appropriately, your experiences over the next four seasons are designed to take you through many states of being, from the most deep and watery currents of emotion, to the brightest and most fiery states of passion. Vivid and rapidly changing contrasts burst and plunge you through these next months, and it appears that your only choice will be to maintain continuous awareness of your changing perspective -- to stop firmly at each viewpoint and perceive reality as it is in that moment. And then come the next questions: Who is this self who is doing this perceiving? Who is this me who is doing this relating to this other? How can I be so aware of my awareness? If you get confused by all these questions, remember to pause and invoke what I call the primary inquiry: Where am I, and what am I doing here?

CANCER (June 21-July 22) -- Assorted versions of political and spiritual wisdom usually teach that it's better to care, and important not to be a hypocrite. I bid you consider the proposition that for you, a vital lesson on the road to holiness is not giving a shit, and learning how to pull double standards, or engage in what I would call soulful hypocrisy. Caring too much is unhealthy, and is often a form of deep distrust in the universe. It can be a futile exercise in control, and the result of other people either dumping responsibility onto you, or their playing helpless when they know you've got a social conscience and will take on any spare burdens that are lying around. As for soulful hypocrisy: that would sound like you saying, "That's your job/problem/issue, not mine," or "I don't really care about this, but it looks pretty important to you, so you better do something about it." Then there's the small matter of you green-blooded vegetarians who would love to eat a big prime rib: make it a juicy one. Or you nonsmokers who would love a tasty Dominican cigar every now and again. They go well with scotch. And as for all you pure-bred monogamists who are craving a sweet romp with your best friend? Be glad you're alive, and act accordingly.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) -- Most metaphysical systems start with the presumption that the self is divided into compartments and categories. The mind and the body are usually pitted against each other. The "ego" and the "holy spirit" are said to be at philosophical odds. "God" and "man" are seen as irreconcilably different. The senses allegedly "deceive us." The "lower" self and the "higher" self can get into disagreements over the nature and meaning of existence. There is reality, and then there are "illusions" that somehow contradict it. As these philosophies get more, well, interesting, "entities" arrive to dictate great books, space aliens deliver bold wisdom, and who we were in past lives can be seen as contradicting who we are today. All very fascinating. But is it really necessary? Is it true, and are there more effective ways to look at life? In my opinion, all of these ideas start the spiritual discussion in the middle, and ignore the obvious ­ and extremely necessary ­ unexplained and simple fact of being. You are here. You do not know how you got here. This is an important space to hold open and not rush into flooding with fancy theories that somehow define your existence as overly-complex or wrong. I would propose that you belong here, and that you have a right to be here, that all of you is here and available right now, and that here, now is a fine place to be. The rest ­ and there is plenty ­ will flow. PS, if the lights go out, try assuming you can see in the dark.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- Consider for a moment how important the word "mental" is within the concept "environmental." As time develops, I learn with greater clarity that we are what we think. We often struggle to live within a great legacy of the past, because the negative, fearful, hateful and survival-oriented mental forms of prior generations have been brainwashed, hammered, printed, imprinted and plowed into our minds since our first moments on the planet. Are your parents some shade of racist or bigot or bored shitless? Would they consider nuclear power a fair price to pay for air conditioning? Were your grandparents hung-up on what it was like during the "great" depression or "The War"? Do your relatives just love their jobs and boldly aspire to their creative dreams, or do you find yourself being insulted for pursuing what you want? While today we may exist in peace, prosperity and unimaginable potential, we remain conditioned by thoughts of battle, starvation and sacrifice. And we rarely notice that we live in a struggling biosphere at the same time. I believe that there is a clear connection between these two ideas of environment. Now comes your great confrontation with this legacy. Now comes the journey to your roots, so that you can be free of them, and directly discover a new experience of existence and coexistence. Can you imagine the celebration you'll feel when you discover that changing your mind really does change the world? I can.

LIBRA (Sep. 23-Oct. 22) -- If experiences of recent years have taught you one thing, it's how to handle extreme states of mind and very unusual life circumstances. If you told me your life has been like a dream of riding a motorcycle on a high wire, or going through astronaut training, or perhaps even being strapped by the ankle to the Space Shuttle, it wouldn't surprise me a bit. If you described yourself as somehow suddenly knowing far more than you're "supposed to" know, or living through ten lifetimes in three years, that would make perfect sense. How do I know this? Since around 1996, you have been under the influence of two Centaur planets, which are recently-discovered aspects of the human experience in the form of small, potent worlds. Their names are Chiron and Pholus; their astrological keywords are radical consciousness, healing and release. Under their guidance, your life has more than transformed; you have developed the ability to transform, and to help transform others. At this point I could only understate the power of your mind and the strength of your will; you have demonstrated some truly awesome feats of human potential ­ and that means you are prepared. Based on the astonishing astrology of 1999, it's difficult for me to overstate how useful your skills are to this world, and to what extent you may recognize the depth of your calling into planetary service, which means that very exciting assignments await you, if you choose to accept them. The world, however, has no further need of martyrs. Do your job well, wash your hands, and know when to head for the beach.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- There are those times in life when we don't get what we want, only to realize we didn't want it in the first place. Then there are those times when we do get what we want, and then discover we didn't want it. These endless meanderings can seem to waste a lot of time. Wouldn't it be simpler to just know our real desires and follow them, and know when to give up if the universe is not producing the goods? Astrology is a map. Maps are very useful in navigating through challenging terrain. They provide useful advice about where to find good roads and interesting sights, as well as what mountains not to walk into and cliffs not to walk off of. The maps for the coming four seasons speak of a final stand against all that has stressed out your relationships in past years, which I am sure ­ anticipating better things ­ are factors you would give up if you could. Most of what we call relationships are really control dramas. We use them as a means of both defining existence, and of avoiding self-contact. All the marvelous dramatic turmoil can seem to promise growth and fulfillment, yet we're not so quick to recognize that it's pointless. So often, it seems that other people's lives are easier to grasp than our own. They are not. This year's events will teach you to change directions when necessary, and to walk away from useless struggles, odd as it may feel at first. More than anything, I believe you will learn what you really want, and gain the courage to act on that desire. We both know you've been holding onto something you don't want, and holding back from yourself. Cash in some of those chips, my Scorpio cousin, and do something nice for yourself.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 21) -- Imagine, for a moment, that you really live in another place and time, and there, you undertook the Shamanic ritual known as a Vision Quest. In this process, you went on a psychic journey and experienced yourself as being "reborn" in the form of entering and living through your current life on the Earth. This would mean that your entire life here is literally a quest for vision and meaningful experience ­ and moreover, that your life here is part of a much greater existence. How would you live your life differently knowing this? What would be the one lesson you had set out to learn during this journey through the planetary experience? What would be the most important observation about life here that you would tell your friends when you returned from your journey? And what if, in some mysterious way, your successfully completing your personal initiation was a key turning point or necessary step for the whole human race? Events of the coming 12 months seem determined to demonstrate to you that this life here is, in actual fact, part of a much greater reality. Rare and ominous astrological events point to the single theme of the return of your awareness of its true origins within you, affirming the knowledge that you are as inseparably part of all life as the Sun and Earth are inseparably part of the galaxy.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) -- Life has taught you patience. Life has taught you not to trust gains too quickly gotten, or sudden turns of direction. Life has also taught you that when there are two sides of an issue, both are likely to have flaws and blind spots. Yet life changes, and this is a year of collective transitions unlike any other since perhaps the mid-1960s, and a year of rapid and radical transformation for you personally. I sense that you've intuited this, because you're a sensitive person; I have a hunch that some invisible presence or reality has worked its way into your life to prepare you for the important and exciting events to come. Many people ask astrologers and Tarot readers, "Are the events good or bad?" I would say that for the most part you get to choose the outcome of your transformation. And choosing is the key theme of the year, because the experiences and realities which will confront you are going to demand that you make decisions, and at times, that you pick sides. Timing is critical; not ignoring early signals is as well; and taking counsel of both people considerably older and younger than yourself, as well as people you consider your immediate peers. But in the end you will choose, and follow through on your commitment. Perhaps this image will serve as a useful meditation: Some of the people in this world are who I would call the Swords. Others are the Torches. Which is your real tribe? If you consider this carefully, and listen with great attention to what people say to you, it will be easier for you to identify who is who, and therefore, where you really belong.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 19-Feb. 18) -- In the earliest editions of this column three or four years ago, I wrote about extraordinary life events on the horizon for Aquarians, and the dawning of a time in which you would finally get to live at home in a world that needs and appreciates you. That time is at hand. When it suddenly arrives, very likely by mid-summer at the latest, you may have forgotten that you read these words, but I doubt it. When real people are called into positions of moral leadership, there is always that little voice saying, "You're not ready for this," and another one that says, "Don't worry about it, just pay attention." In fact, you stand on very solid ground, and have little reason for concern about your abilities. Your years of refusing to play people's games have crafted you into a person not just willing to stand alone when necessary, or to speak up for what you truly believe, but have shaped you into someone who is actually effective at this kind of dissent. Your insistence on being free has compelled more people to be free than you realize. Remember that leadership in this new age is not from the top or the front, but rather from the center. It is facilitation, which literally means making things easier. Difficulty is a warning; seeing the joke of reality is confirmation that we're seeing clearly; and remember that we live in a time when the gifts of people much younger than ourselves must be recognized as a basic matter of common sense. And even if everyone else is thanking you, don't forget to thank yourself. I leave you with the immortal words of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who knew: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

PISCES (Feb. 19-Mar. 20) -- Most science, psychology and "common sense" are based on the idea that the universe is made of countless separate objects, concepts and people. Mystical traditions such as Taoism and astrology teach that this separation is a false appearance, and that the universe is one unified (as the word implies) entity. British quantum physicist David Bohm's pioneering research uses science to demonstrate the validity of the mystical view. Confronted with certain observations in the physics lab -- for example, subatomic particles seeming to be in instantaneous communication with each other over great distances -- he devised a model to explain the illusion of a divided world, described in Michael Talbot's magnificent book The Holographic Universe. Imagine a fish in tank, with two television cameras pointing toward it from different angles. If the TV monitors were side-by-side in a different room, someone who had never seen a fish could mistakenly get the idea that these were two separate creatures in telepathic communication. When one fish turned, the other would turn "simultaneously." When one would eat, the other would eat in a similar way. But they would "both" be the same fish in his tank, unaware he was "divided." Bohm believes this is precisely how the appearance of separation works, and that by focusing on the actual fish in his aquarium and not the images, we can have a more complete understanding and experience of life. You've collected extensive evidence exposing most of the world's teachings as grossly inaccurate or blatant fraud. What about the one that says you're separate from yourself and in conflict with your own existence? Or that you're out of your element in this world? You are one fish, my fellow Pisces, and all this stuff around you is water. Remember. ++

Additional astrological research by Maria Henzler.

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