A Large White Dove

THE SATURN-NEPTUNE opposition is in full blossom this week, as the Sun sweeps through the once-per-generation setup, explaining everything from the extraordinary developments in the war in Iraq, to a Kansas City chemical fire involving as yet unnamed “solvents and mineral spirits” (whiff of dioxin, anyone?) to the wig and diaper-wearing Space Shuttle astronaut being charged with attempted murder of a colleague. There is an edge of uncertainty, desperation, strangeness and at the very least, inevitable change in the atmosphere of the planet.

Personally, it would seem that everyone is experiencing this on some level in our personal lives, even if only through the lives of people close to us: assumptions dissolving, becoming free from psychological patterns, and seeking a new depth of self-understanding. Saturn opposing Neptune is about waking up and transforming ourselves in a conscious way; if done gently, using a combination of imagination and manifestation; otherwise, by falling apart and coming back together in a different form.

As reality melts (then re-forms, and melts again), it’s getting increasingly difficult to notice what means something and what does not. Indeed, so much has been happening with the feeling of this rare outer-planet opposition that we might decide the real effect is chaos, which is true on one level, but it’s a special kind of chaos: that of something very wound up finally unraveling; something structured and based on doctrine yielding to something else that is intuitive, imaginative and real in the moment rather than in the past.

Thursday the Sun and Neptune made their exact conjunction, and then the Sun opposes Saturn on Saturday (or Saturn’s day), so we can say the Sun is setting off the opposition. This came with the death of Anna Nicole Smith, which occurred with the Sun-Neptune conjunction exact to six minutes of arc (1/10th of a degree), summing up her difficult life, and reminding us that no matter how powerful the image of a woman is, she is still just a woman.

Sun-Neptune is the image of one who defined her life by being a fantasy of everyone else, and also an object of collective desire so potent nobody could miss it. I would describe erotic desire for her has a yearning to stir up the hot emotional pool of her soul, and to provide a space to feel herself at her core; something to grasp onto while she dropped into the depths of her own inner cosmos, with the reassurance of someone’s solid presence.

It is clear from her chart that she died of a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. It looks like it might have been a deliberate overdose to seek refuge from a world in which she no longer belonged. I assure you of one thing: she was lonely. If the coroner wants a cause of death on the little form, let him write loneliness. She had just lost the one man who understood her: her son, who died in September right in her hospital room as she nursed her new baby daughter, now five months old.

This is the thing lost in all of the news reports I have seen: Anna Nicole Smith is the symbol of our nation’s loneliness, and in particular, the loneliness of women. Sun-Neptune illustrates this sense of isolation dramatically, and also the corresponding immersion in the cosmic sea, the intuitive ocean, the oneness with and separateness from it all.

Ceres is all over this chart: the grief of mothers, particularly the grief of their mothers for their children (or in truth, anyone they love) being abducted into the underworld. She is the sister of Cindy Sheehan, who echoes our country’s grief at the death of its children in a war that most of us have figured out is and always was unnecessary and disgusting, and will bankrupt our resources for generations. Anna’s life echoes the death and loss of children by any and every means, be it accidental or deliberate, natural or artificial, through whatever process, including growing up.

The chart for the discovery of her body [notes included] has a stellium across Pisces that includes the ascendant ruler Mercury exactly on the midheaven (the 10th house, motherhood), followed by Uranus, Venus, Ceres and the North Node. This woman identified strongly with being a mom. Indeed, little else mattered to her; it was her life work and the guiding force of her troubled existence. Her death is going to affect a lot of people — and by the time that Mercury on the midheaven goes retrograde, we will know more about her life than we want to know, more than we imagined we could know.

Ceres, if you recall, is the former asteroid, the first discovered, that was last summer designated a dwarf planet along with Pluto and Eris. I am hearing intelligent astrologers say we have no idea what Ceres means, but it’s so obvious that it’s possible to miss if you don’t focus. The feelings of mothers are struggling to re-emerge within our culture as a meaningful thing; mothers are giving themselves permission to feel the struggle of being mothers; indeed, for the fact to be recognized the fact of having a child or children, or feelings about them, is meaningful at all.

Indeed, motherhood remains one of the last truly natural facts of our lives, and this one, too, is disappearing fast, or rather, coming at us with some rare intensity so that we don’t forget. But who, exactly, recognizes the plight of mothers? Who not only talks about but recognizes, as a fact of relationship, post-partum depression, or the insanity of the world into which mothers bring their kids and to which they must surrender them? Who recognizes the ways in which mothers nourish and nurture the world? When we say “we don’t understand what Ceres means,” we are saying we’ve forgotten these things, and in truth, forgotten the Earth herself, who sustains us.

We might imagine that if the Earth herself has feelings, how does she feel about what is happening on her surface, and to her children, now?

This week’s most poignant aspect, Sun conjunct Neptune, occurred in the 20th degree of Aquarius, which has the symbol, “A large white dove bearing a message.”

You would really need to lack all sensitivity to symbolic messages to miss the point of that one, particularly in these weeks of our lives. But author-mystic Dane Rudhyar’s voice speaks to us over the decades, providing us with some clarity on this beautifully Aquarian degree: “The individual who has gone courageously and with indomitable spirit through her crucial crisis receives, as it were, a deep spiritual blessing from the soul realm: ‘Mission accomplished; peace be with you’. And in this blessing a secret prophecy of what is yet to come may be seen seen by the…spiritually sensitive mind of the recipient. Every real spiritual step a [person] takes in [her] development is the result of a victory over the forces of inertia and destruction.”

Other events this week help put the message in context.

The Lt. Ehren Watada Court Martial

Saturn-Neptune, which makes its second of three exact passes at the end of the month, is an aspect of clashing realities, skepticism about government, skepticism in general, and the dissolving of beliefs and institutions previously thought of as infallible (such as “astronauts always keep their cool”). Saturn-Neptune effects are easy to see, if you know where to look or rather what to look for. Contrast helps: think back to the fall of 2001, when we were under a different opposition involving an outer planet, Saturn opposite Pluto. Everyone knew exactly who the devil was, and what we needed to do about him.

Today, the only people lacking doubts are the ones I call the San Francisco brigade — the people who would support the government if somebody (like Dick Cheney) announced it would be in the national interests to bomb San Francisco. These are the people who think global warming is caused by polar bears.

This week, adding to the unusual rapid sense of transition, we also experienced the Venus-Uranus conjunction in Pisces, which has been sparking things up nicely; Pluto is still playing communications satellite with the Galactic Core; and the Moon is waning to the Year of the Dog’s morph into the Year of the Pig. Mercury is stationing to a halt in Pisces and we have a pair of eclipses across Virgo-Pisces warming up.

Here was the first exciting result of all this. Wednesday, a military judge declared a mistrial in the case of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first US officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. For those who have not heard of Watada or been following his case, he is the by all accounts exemplary officer who, after researching the Bush administration’s rationales for going to war, determined that it was an illegal and unconstitutional war, and said that if he participated, he could be prosecuted for war crimes. Instead, he offered to go to Afghanistan (which he felt was more clearly justified) but the Army refused, and instead chose to court-martial him.

In recent months, the Hawaiian-born first lieutenant, who joined the Army to defend his country after the Sept. 11 attacks, has become an icon of the peace movement for his courage and integrity in standing up to his superiors, particularly the Bush administration. “I hated to leave my troops, but something had to be done to stop this insanity,” he said in January, according to truthout.org. “How could I order men to die for something I believe is wrong? Wearing the uniform is not, and is never, an excuse.”

Monday, the judge barred two expert witnesses from testifying on the legality of the Iraq war, which is the heart of the issue. Watada did not desert and he is not a conscientious objector. Rather, he believed that Iraq was illegal and immoral. Watada’s lawyer, Eric Seitz, was accusing the judge of “taking every opportunity to constrict what we would like to say. It is a typical military case, where the military doesn’t want to hear what it doesn’t want you to say.”

Yet the judge allowed prosecutors to retain an expert witness at government expense but would not do the same for Watada. “The government can call who they want, and we can’t call who we need?” Seitz asked. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I learned that in law school, if not in nursery school,” he said.

The judge’s refusal to allow his expert witnesses put Watada in the position of having to take the witness stand himself, to explain in his own words the immorality and illegality of the war. This helps us understand the perils of prosecuting someone who is standing up for the truth, at least as long as the media is focused. When you prosecute someone, sooner or later, the chances are, both sides of the story will come out — which leads to my theory as to why the military judge — under orders that I would propose go right to the top, since this whole issue goes right to the top — declared a mistrial.

Pretty incredible, given that they just could have bagged him — assuming the seven-person jury went along, which it just might not have. Any lawyer will tell you that with a jury, no matter what jury, you just don’t know.

It was suggested by a reader in the Seattle area today that the mistrial was an act of mutiny by the military against the Bush administration. I won’t count that out, but I think there is a more plausible reason: Watada going on the witness stand would provide him with an international forum for expressing his views about the war, which in turn would start a debate. That had to be stopped, so the government cut its losses and got out of the game.

Note that, unsurprisingly, a real discussion seems to be something the war’s advocates fear the most. Consider that this week, in our second historical development, Republicans in the Senate threatened to filibuster (that is, talk endlessly about nonsense to block real discussion). Here is how the San Francisco Chronicle reported it:

Senate Republicans on Monday blocked debate on the Iraq war, stymieing efforts by Democrats to send even a weak bipartisan message opposing President Bush’s order of 21,500 more troops into an intensifying civil war in Baghdad and Anbar province.

Senate Republican leaders pressured their most vocal antiwar critics into a test of party loyalty, using a procedural vote to save the administration a major embarrassment and stall Democratic plans to ratchet up pressure on the White House to begin pulling back from Iraq. The move also saved wavering Republicans from casting a difficult vote revealing their stand on the war.

Unless the Senate impasse can be broken, the war debate will turn next to the House, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has promised to begin debate next week. House Democrats had hoped that the Senate would move first, demonstrating a strong, bipartisan resistance to Bush’s war plans, but that does not appear likely.

Libby, whose previous testimony was entered into evidence this week, believed that George Bush had personally authorized him to reveal the contents of a classified document to a reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller.

“If the president tells you to talk about a document, it’s declassified,” Libby testified about why he believed he was authorized to discuss what was then still a classified document, according to truthout.org. This is a somewhat complicated story, but a good summary can be found in Wikipedia. It is a good example of a dirty tricks campaign that blew up in the face of its perpetrators.

So there you have it: unreality is falling apart at the seams. But will it matter? The prophetic words of Perry Farrell, “nothing’s shocking,” never seem to have been truer. But while nothing may be shocking, all of these developments are adding up to light slowly dawning.

It was just one week ago, Groundhog Day, that the world acknowledged for the first time that global warming and climate change were real things, created by human activity. Groundhog Day is another name for Imbolc or Candlemas, the first of the cross-quarter days. This is a day reserved by our culture for weather divination — will there be an early spring, or a late one?

Will the ice caps melt sooner, or later? Will the world end, or won’t it? Sometimes the universe is an amazing place, delivering us this United Nations report on Imbolc. Indeed, it seems the cosmos is speaking from every corner; from every angle; that there is a glint of light from every shadow. At least as we hold the light in our own minds, we light the shadow of the world with awareness, and wake up to the reality that we are free to make choices.

Aquarius Solar Returns, part four

By Priya Kale with Eric Francis

Lately it may have seemed like you’ve been wading through a fog, feeling your way through life for some kind of rope to guide you. But look carefully. It’s not really a fog, it’s more like one of those prism postcards where you look at a historical site as it was when it was built, and as it is now. As you shift your angle of view, the image changes. Each one may look as real as the next. You would be well advised to choose the one that you want, call that real, and enter the picture.

The Sun-Neptune-Saturn configuration described above is strong in your chart right now, and is indeed astrology of the most personal kind for you. It would be difficult to describe astrology under which it would be more feasible to alter the course of your life, your sense of self, and how you relate to your world.

Oppositions tend to express themselves more through your environment and external factors where as a conjunctions reflect more on the inside out process, the process of you becoming you. This experience dates back to around 1989, when another sweeping series of changes came through your life; now those are coming to full fruition. The Saturn-Neptune opposition has been for the most part a wake up to reality, where things you once thought were true are slowing fading away and others emerging as the truth of your existence.

With the 1st and the 7th houses, there is a call to self identity and your own expression and that of a partner or how we might relate in our intimate relationships, which always a delicate balancing act, but in truth it’s the essence of existence: balancing our lives with those around us; doing our thing, but in the context of the people we are about.

Saturn represents the idea “that reality is what appears in form.” Thus it addresses the shape and sructure of our lives, and also boundaries and limits. Neptune is lord of the ocean, dreams, our subconscious minds and psychic contact, so it goes ‘beyond form’. You are poignantly aware of your desire to manifest a relationship based on your individual ideals and not what are dictated by society; it’s about time you admit this to yourself. There seems to be a clash in reality which is calling you look beyond your preconceived notions of what is and isn’t true. In the midst of all of this you have an deep yearning for excitement and that heady sense of heightened awareness that can only come from passion.

There is a need for balance and direction, which is a matter of making decisions. Look at your life now. What is it that you most want? and what is it that (in your perception) is stopping you from achieving it? If ‘freedom is a responsibility’, then what about commitment? Surely that is a responsibility too, but we need definitions of responsibility other than we were given by teachers, ministers and our parents; we need our own definitions. The idea is to find out what works based on what is true for you, not someone else, and not any beliefs that you might have clung to in the past. Work on these aspects of yourself first. Once you begin to get clear, it will be easier to relate with firm ground under your feet.

Often in relationships unmet needs and desires are allowed to fester, for fear that speaking your mind will hurt the other, or more to the point, induce them to leave you behind. I would say in the spirit of Sun-Neptune — this is a necessary sacrifice; we must give up our fears to have the life we want, unless we want a life of fear.

The moment you decide to stop censoring your thoughts in your intimate relationships you open up the barriers to reality. Many make a yoga of silence and subtle deceit, and these things ultimately slowly erode relationship to nothingness. All your brilliant musings, fantasies about an ideal relationship and can only manifest, if you dare to share that dream and vision. Those who understand you will help you create it; those who do not can and must move on.

This is an important year of growth in all aspects of your personal expression, your true values and beliefs are slowly taking form, as is your desire to live your life by your own rules — including to take the chances you need to take. Breaking free of patterns that no longer serve you and embracing a more authentic way of being assures that when you do disagree with partners where there is an actual bond, an actual sense of shared mission, those differences can be aired in a safe space with less fear of rejection or loss or jealousy, and more allowing and encouraging one another to be all that their soul desires. That is true freedom, that of commitments formed when partners are truly free and willing to face the unknown together.




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, February 09, 2007, #649 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Before you reverse an important decision, you may want to give the situation a chance to work itself out. What you are dealing with are for the most part your own doubts and insecurities, not facts. One or two key facts are about to emerge, and I suggest you take your time evaluating their significance. What first appears as a level of discord in your environment will more likely turn out to be a way you were out of accord with yourself. Before you attempt to set things right around you or find out who could be playing a cleaner game, make sure you understand your own viewpoint and your own way of seeing the world.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
Your public role continues to be visible and this arrives at a truly meaningful turning point in your life. You may feel like you’re in a situation that you cannot get out of, but I assure you its roots go a lot deeper than what is apparent now. Your commitment to taking care of other people and moreover, to helping them find their way, is working out to be a good way for you to take care of yourself and find your own way. Make sure you keep awareness of this seemingly dual role, however, so that you can from moment to moment sort out what is yours and what belongs to someone else.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
This may be a time to practice your gift for understatement, and to keep your other gift for saying a lot tucked away for another time. In particular, I suggest you refrain from making promises or predictions that are likely to be based on incomplete or incorrect information. Mercury’s forthcoming station retrograde in Pisces will shake the tree, and as each one of those apples lands on your head, you will feel a little like Sir Isaac having a profound cosmic and scientific revelation based on something ordinary and earthy that happens. Collect those apples in a bushel basket, and keep them cool and dry. You’ll be very glad you have them once Mercury stations direct in early March.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Please don’t succumb to the feeling that you’ve worked your way from one corner and into another. I suggest, rather, that you mark your progress consciously, and what you’ve learned in making that progress. Look at all the opportunities you have to be free, to express yourself, and to share yourself erotically or emotionally. By now you’ve figured out that you need to make some choices, but they will be a lot easier if you keep in touch with your own needs and maintain continuous awareness of how you feel, inside the wrapper of how you think you feel.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Realism has always been one of your strong suits, but now you seem to be caught between striving for a totally objective point of view and swimming in an ocean of your own opinions, fears and feelings. I suggest you keep it logical for now. As the Sun, your astrological stand-in, makes its annual opposition to Saturn this weekend, you may have a tendency to see things in the most limited or sober terms. Remember that just a few days ago, your imagination was rich with ideas for solutions. They are worth every bit as much today as they were yesterday, if you take the time to remember what they are.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Beware of any situation in which you end up in the role of pursuer. It’s a game of chase you are unlikely to win. It would seem that what you really want is for someone to chase you, but on a deeper level, what you want is for someone to understand you. The problem here is that attempts to explain yourself may really be attempts to pursue and/or be pursued. When Mercury stations retrograde in a few days, your priorities will become clearer, and you will understand something about how you engage in relationships that you could never quite put your finger on before.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
You don’t need to justify your activities, though I wonder why you might be doing so. Your astrology suggests that you may be reluctant to take on a commitment that someone else is keen to have you accept. There is part of you that wants to do it as well, and you know you have a lot to offer the situation. Consider this. Even if you don’t “formally” accept a certain set of responsibilities, you will be having a positive effect on the situation, by bringing your energy and also by setting an example. In essence, you will assist more by being than by doing, which happens to be the perfect solution for a person with a lot else on her mind these days.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You’re in a truly rich space in life right now, and your chart tells me you’re a magnet for good things. Even if you’re carefully pondering whether you want some of them, I suggest you enjoy the moment and what it’s offering. In a word, it’s offering options. The fact that you can actually pause and decide whether you want to dance with some of them is something to celebrate, not feel reluctant about. The more you experiment, the more you will discover. But here is a clue, maybe a big one: your ideas about a situation or thing, and that actual situation or thing, are two entirely different somethings.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You keep wading your way through a boggy, wet forest where you would prefer to be scaling a high mountain. I suggest you notice the rather unusual weather patterns within the ones you think you notice. The climate is changing faster than you can imagine and in point of fact you are not really stuck anywhere. This week is leading to some kind of profound lesson that you will be happy you learned, and which you will be determined to feel you learned for good. This is probably true; but you will need to take special care to remember, and it would seem the most effective way is a discussion with the people you consider your closest friends.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You have two strong advantages in this situation, which are your imagination and your flexibility. But you also understand something about the relationship that has so far eluded whoever you are dealing with, and which is unlikely to be apparent to others around you. The fact is, nobody is holding anything over your head. Nobody has any special power, and they cannot force your hand or do much at all. All you need to do is embrace the fact that you are basically equal with this person or situation and you will feel a heck of a lot better.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You seem to be on an important quest for resources. Try starting with the idea that you have everything you need right at this moment, including enough money, and the only real puzzle is how to put it to work for the maximum combined benefit and the minimum waste. One seemingly small but effective decision will lead to another. The goal is economy, not size; intelligence, not impressiveness. You still may be responding to your fears more than your sense of what is possible, but at least you’re discovering just what those fears are. That is always an asset — and it comes from you alone.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
The important thing is this: don’t expect others to go along with your plan 100% all the way right at this moment. You can, though, trust that people know you’re onto something, and reasonably expect them to do a little thinking and catch up. Meanwhile, keep your focus on appreciating life and doing your part to feed your own happiness. No law requires you to be happy, but no law prevents it, either. Some say that the key to contentment is compromise, and I would agree that this is one ingredient; the lock itself is knowing who and what matters to you, and keeping your focus there with no guilt, only love.

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