Dear Friend and Reader:
In the midst of so much that is overwhelming — the dire need to effect immediate steps to slow global warming; mass tragedies and fear-stoking threats (both real and perceived); even certain immediate circumstances of personal life — I have found myself grateful for a pervasive message coming through the writings of my colleagues at Planet Waves. This morning it struck me that each of them is essentially channeling our current astrology, whether intentionally or not.
The astrology, which I’ll come back to in a moment, involves the Sun in Sagittarius conjunct centaur Pholus and the core of our galaxy; Mercury conjunct Pluto in Capricorn; and even Mars in Libra opposing Eris in Aries. I’ll get to the exact dates and times and interpretations further down. First, consider these thoughts:
Amanda Moreno, in facing the global spiritual mandate to “stop fucking around, compromising our beliefs,” eventually comes back to the understanding that, “we don’t have to shoulder the entire weight of the world, but rather claim whatever part of it is within our reach and make the intention to heal it in some concrete way.” She also linked to this grounded, heartening essay by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (author of Women Who Run with the Wolves). Estes writes:
“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these — to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
“Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.”
Planet Waves political-and-spiritual writer Judith Gayle concluded her column this week with this offering:
“Here is the act that pulls back the curtain to expose the little man pulling the levers on our fears: each fear we face gives us an opportunity to strengthen our character, swing wide the bars of our prison of doubt and self-sabotage, and choose love as an antidote to all that ails us. We have forgotten that fear is a choice. We’ve forgotten that we can choose again.
“Do you want to become an activist this season, but don’t know how? Choose love. Pass along a smile, pay it forward, lend a hand. Get involved, offer kindness, model a belief that you can make a difference. Stay open to the highest and most life-affirming possibilities, and share your hopes for tomorrow with those who will listen.”
Actions such as those, simple and small as they may be, serve to keep us connected to each other and to what matters most within ourselves. Sarah Taylor, in writing this week’s tarot reading on Planet Waves, summarizes the card spread by saying that although you seem to have reached a waypoint along your path (which might feel like, or be, an ending of some kind), “There has been an awakening; and soon you find yourself on the next leg of your journey — one where you may well feel less isolated, and more connected.”
You are not alone — not alone in your fear, or your faith; not alone in the light you carry within you or in the darkness you may be facing. But sometimes to see the light of another or to perceive the wisdom hidden in the dark, you first have to look into the shadows.
Len Wallick, though he was writing this week about aspects other than those I’m focusing on here, writes, “… if you can, proceed with a determination to gather awareness from any personal experience you have with shadows over the next handful of days. If you do, you will be moving not only into light but with it, as you emerge into a new season with the Capricorn solstice next week.”
Seeing shadows is easy; they rest on the surface. Seeing the detail and reality of what shadows mask takes some deeper looking; a willingness to investigate and penetrate what is held there, and to take what you’ve learned (though not the darkness itself) with you for constructive use.
So, by now, you’re probably wondering about that astrology. Right, then. As Len mentions, we are nearing the Capricorn solstice. This is when the Sun enters Capricorn (which occurs at 11:48 pm EST on Dec. 21 / 4:48 UTC Dec. 22), heralding the longest night of the year and the beginning of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere.
Each year, on its way to this point, the Sun aligns with the Galactic Core — the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Our little solar system rests on one of the Milky Way’s spiral arms, way out there. This year, the centaur object Pholus (which has been moving through Sagittarius for a good while now) is nearly aligned with the Galactic Core (GC). The Sun is making a conjunction to Pholus today (Thursday). And although the Sun does not align exactly with the GC until Saturday at 2:41 am EST (7:41 UTC), it is definitely in the zone now.
So much so, I realized that the echoing messages I was reading on Planet Waves perfectly illustrate Sun-Pholus-Galactic Core. The key phrase for Pholus is “small cause, big effect.” And although this can have negative connotations (for example, in the chart of an oil spill gushing out of control in the ocean, or in situations involving alcohol combined with other volatile factors) I have also experienced Pholus lending its ripple-effect influence to positive experiences, emotions and actions.
Eric Francis and other astrologers tend to describe the GC as our “cosmic homing signal.” Located in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, the core of our galaxy seems to correlate to that sign’s higher-expression traits of being philosophical, spiritually seeking and optimistic; that is, humane.
Without getting technical, the GC is theorized to contain a supermassive black hole — an astronomical phenomena that is both drawing material into it and emitting radio waves. Astrologically, the GC carries connotations of “Source”; that is, whatever it is from which we came and also return to; or, rather, a metaphor for the collective unity of all life as we know it, and the message of that unity that we are so prone to forget.
Meanwhile, the Sun represents your conscious awareness, especially of yourself. Put all that together: your conscious awareness, small causes having big effects, and that message of unity and a “homing signal.” What do you get?
To me, it looks like a beautiful reminder that we often only need to make small actions: the kind word or smile; some small step of healing in your personal sphere; any act of connection; allowing your inner light to shine amidst the chaos, darkness and fear so that others might see it; looking far enough into what can seem like a “black hole” of despair to receive a message of awareness and unity. Those modest steps have the power now to ripple out, to multiply exponentially as they get passed along from person to person, magnifying their positive effect.
No, it is not instantaneous. It’s not even a finite endeavor; this is lifelong work we’re talking about.
Yet our lives are made up only of a series of present moments. We can string them together to gain context from the past, and we can extrapolate them into the future to gauge and guide the possible consequences of our actions.
Ultimately, we only have right now; and you are well aware of how long journeys are made of single steps, each one made in its time.
Speaking of time, there are a couple other astrological aspects in effect at this time, as mentioned. The first I’d like to touch on happens Saturday along with the Sun-Galactic Core conjunction, quite fittingly: Mercury conjunct Pluto in Capricorn, exact at 1:56 pm EST (18:56 UTC).
Mercury conjunct Pluto relates beautifully to this idea of looking in the shadows (or the black hole) to gain awareness, and taking it with you into the light. The aspect relates to a mind that penetrates deeply and observes keenly; simply skating along the superficial levels of issues will not be satisfying this weekend. Yet this is not generally characterized as a mental tone that gets bogged down or depressed with all that delving; rather, it’s possible to use the agility offered very constructively.
That said, as with all things relating to darkness or power, there’s also the potential to act destructively. Beware of mental power struggles, such as getting so preoccupied with an idea (or something that’s missing) that you waste much of Saturday — though the obsession should pass easily as Mercury moves along.
More importantly, stay aware of how you speak to others; particularly if you need to persuade them of something, it could be easy to come on strong. You only need to take a look at the field of Republican political candidates to get a sense of how Capricorn colors the less productive side of this conjunction: misusing power by misrepresenting oneself, misrepresenting the past, and man-handling established institutions. That could apply to the illustration of how leaders of developed nations influenced the COP21 climate summit in Paris, also.
In the end, both with those political examples and in your personal experience, a question emerges with Mercury-Pluto: Are you willing to accept what is necessary for growth and development? Remember the idea of a ripple effect and small first steps if that idea invokes anxiety for you.
Finally, because we do so much of our living, learning, growing, changing, loving and light-sharing in relationships with each other, a word about an aspect forming between Mars in Libra and Eris in Aries. These two planets, named after mythological siblings (each of whom had some anger management issues), are moving into an opposition that’s exact Sunday at 6:03 pm EST (23:03 UTC).
It can be easy to let your desires — whether for acknowledgement, sex a certain way, an equal say, room for all parts of your identity, or something else — hide in the shadows. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of asserting yourself. You might hurt the other person’s feelings; you might disrupt the seeming stability you’ve found or crave; you might have to reveal parts of yourself whose existence you barely admit to yourself; you might not be comfortable taking the lead; and so on.
Yet between the way Libra can compromise Mars’ ability to be direct, and the myth about Eris using covert means to express her hurt and anger over being left out (thereby causing tremendous chaos), it’s a good idea for the next few days to be extra-aware if you’re feeling at all frustrated, thwarted or passive in a relationship. Because those qualities and the current astrology could be a recipe for passive-aggressive behavior to get attention or get desires met. Since this is an opposition, you might find that you’re projecting this state onto another person, or that you’re seeing it mirrored back to you.
Either way, if some part of you is feeling left out or forgotten, remember to be direct about expressing this need. Diplomacy — a hallmark of Mars in Libra — is great up to a point, unless the other person is not getting the message.
You don’t need to get into a power struggle or get manipulative, sneaky or overly persuasive (the Mercury-Pluto influence). Just make sure you are being clear, honest and accurate, and that you own your desires, frustrations and other feelings.
As mentioned, Pholus is in the picture. And Pholus is harmonious in aspect to both Mars and Eris, lending a hand. A little will go a long way.
This is just as true for expressing what’s missing in a relationship as it is for acting as if to hold the world together with a shared smile, or by walking instead of driving your car. You might have to reach into the dark to see what it is that wants to be brought to the light; and you might have to step from the shadows to let others see your own soul’s glow. But as we approach the longest night of the year, even a single candle can shine far and show you the way home.
Yours & truly,
Solstice and the Compression Effect
By Eric Francis
The Sun is close to its southernmost point along the horizon. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, that means the Sun makes a short, low arc across the sky, rising late and setting early. Then right around what we call the solstice, the Sun’s apparent position moves northward along the horizon and the days gradually get longer.
On one level it’s simple, though we are complex beings. As much as we isolate ourselves from nature in climate-controlled buildings and cars, we still live on a planet that orbits a star in a galaxy, and what we’re feeling is that reality.
Then there’s the immediate sensory effect and the sensation of time compression. Your body may be wondering where the Sun went. This year at least, it’s been unusually warm in the northern United States, so the effect is not quite as emphatic.
Still, in a few days, the starry dynamo of the night will seem to stop and reverse itself, as the Sun seems to change directions and the days not only get longer — they cease to get shorter. But that’s not all that happens at solstice. If you think of the cosmos as a vast thing that gyrates, our experience of this spinning thing can seem to stop and reverse itself. It’s a lot more than the days getting longer.
Till then, you may be feeling that sensation of compression emotionally. I’ve noticed that time and events seem to be concentrated this time of year. There can be the feeling of release at the solstice, like that compression effect suddenly lifts.
(Similarly at the summer solstice, the feeling of being stretched out can seem to relax.)
The compression and concentration effect has been rather noticeable since Nov. 13, with every possible kind of terrorism happening and the entire world needing a dose of arnica montana.
Another Week From Science Fiction
That was also the kind of week we just had, one that would seem to be out of a made-up news synopsis in a science fiction novel (there are many in the book Stranger in a Strange Land). Monday, the mayor of Flint, Michigan (setting of the first Michael Moore documentary, Roger and Me) declared a state of emergency because the entire city drinking water supply was tainted with lead.
How exactly did that happen all of a sudden? When the area was in a fiscal crisis, an “emergency manager” bureaucrat took the town off of the Detroit water supply (saving $5 million a year) and started drawing water from the corrosive, contaminated Flint River. Chemicals in the water stripped the protective coating off of the pipes throughout the city and presto — lead poisoning.
The same week, terrorism threats were called into the New York City and Los Angeles schools. LA closed its system for one day (1,027 schools, nearly three quarters of a million students) and New York City did not. Both threats were hoaxes. California was already on edge from the recent incident in San Bernardino.
A mistrial was declared in the trial of a cop accused of helping to kill Freddie Gray in Baltimore. The jury could not reach a verdict. Now prosecutors get to decide if there will be a new trial. Part of why this is so newsworthy is that the Baltimore prosecutions are the first time in anyone’s memory that the police have been charged with murder of a person in custody.
Republicans had yet another debate, and Jeb Bush of all people emerged as a kind of hero, challenging Donald Trump on his proposal to violate the First Amendment to the Constitution by banning Muslims from the United States. I would think that strict constitutionalists (i.e., conservatives) would be more concerned about this; it’s sad when the big squeak comes from those masters of genocide themselves, the Bush clan.
And the U.S. Federal Reserve, a quasi-private bank that funds the nation, raised interest rates for the first time in “almost a decade” (per media reports, but I cannot get a clear answer exactly how long). Basically, this means that banks will pay slightly more to borrow money from the Federal Reserve, and then pass that cost along to people who consume by borrowing. Note that banks have paid nearly nothing (between one-quarter and one-half percent) for all that time — and are charging anywhere from 5% to 25% for us to borrow that money.
The Solstice Chart
The horoscope for the solstice, 11:48 pm EST on Dec. 21, 2015, has as its main feature the Saturn-Neptune square. A Pluto-like point called Orcus is in the aspect pattern, in Virgo, opposite Neptune and square Saturn. We don’t know much about Orcus, as it was only discovered 11 years ago and has not been subjected to much scrutiny.
Like Varuna (discovered in 2000), Orcus is of the cycle of myths associated with the keeping of promises. Unlike Varuna, Orcus is an underworld deity rather than a creation deity.
We can at least say that it deepens the picture of the Saturn-Neptune square. Contacts between Pluto (astrology’s best-known underworld deity) and Neptune tend to create a spiritually penetrating effect, which can be toxic if it’s not handled carefully. Many great minds, and many sinister minds, were born during the Neptune-Pluto conjunction of the 1890s.
The presence of Neptune in this chart and indeed in the next year of our lives, is about using discernment, and not playing the denial game. Like any substance addiction, it can seem to work for a while, though mainly at the expense of complicating, concealing and compounding problems.
The Taurus Moon is sextile Chiron. This is about emotional integration. That’s a nice new-agey term for feeling your feelings, and for being aware of them. Feelings are of both the mind and the body, and the integration bit is about bringing the two together. You might say that there is a reminder to be in touch with your feelings, and also the clue that this will be easier than usual — if you remember that denial is the main problem we face here on the planet at this time.
This chart has two more aspects worth mentioning now: one is Jupiter opposite Chiron. This is about grounding spiritual ‘energy’ and ideas in tangible form. This is yet another image of integration, one of the most meaningful keywords of Chiron.
Last is the Uranus-Eris conjunction. We’ve never lived through this one before. Eris was just discovered in 2005. But it could be explosive, it could be enlightening, and it could pave another information superhighway to total distraction. That distraction could include a proliferation of media-sponsored violence.
On the most personal level, the question is: do you invest your life in glamour, or do you invest your precious time and energy into self-realization?
Planet Waves Weekly Horoscope — Dec. 17, 2015, #1080 | By Len Wallick
Aries (March 20-April 19) — If you keep two words in mind, you will be present with many of your most important issues. The first word is ‘means’. The second word is ‘ends’. Knowing what means you have available is very much like knowing how much money you have in your bank account. The more limited your means are, the more important it is to be aware exactly what they consist of, and how they fluctuate from one day to the next. Having an abundance of means implies that it’s less important to be vigilant. Ends are a slightly different matter. To be clear as regards to ends you must know and be honest with yourself. Hence, it would be suitable to consistently ask yourself what you want from any person, place or situation. That way you can keep in touch with who and what you are, which will in turn help you to evaluate whether you would like to be something or somebody different. — by Len Wallick
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Proceed from your strengths, and keep an eye on your weaknesses. Easy to say, right? Not so easy to do. First, you must know your strengths. Next, you must admit to your weaknesses. It will help (at least to start with) if you think of yourself as having one strong foot and one weak foot. Then you should be conscious of how things came to be the way they are. If your stronger foot got to be that way because you favor it, then consciously using the weaker foot in its place more often should result in greater balance and a smoother stride — which will ultimately work its way up your being to make you more whole and hardy. Should your weaker foot have gotten to be that way because of injury or some other sort of affliction, you must first determine what kind of healing is possible. That way you will know if you need to resign yourself to keep pushing off your stronger foot indefinitely, or just in the interim. — By Len Wallick
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — It appears as though you are developing a ‘nasty’ streak of common decency. Fortunately, there is no cure. This is not to say you haven’t been a decent enough person up to now. Rather, you are about to plumb greater depths of the stand-up person you have always been. As with exploration of caves, you will probably have to overcome trepidation. It will mean sorting real from imagined risks in order to realize the potential you now have to reach those personal depths, and then return to demonstrate in public practice what you’ve found. Therefore, in your continuing evolution towards being a more truthful, just and trustworthy person than ever, be guided by your own resistance. You will not want to push yourself too hard all at once. Go back more than once, and just a little deeper each time, into discovering what is entailed when you do the right thing rather than just your thing. — By Len Wallick
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Unless your situation is a matter of having to fight for survival, it’s probably not a good idea to choose conflict for the time being. Rather, select from three other possible responses whenever you feel an urge to respond with aggression. The first option is cooperation. As the saying goes, if you can’t (or shouldn’t try to) beat them, join them. By working to create with those you might otherwise oppose, it’s very possible to achieve gratification while also contributing to influence the nature of what is created. Where cooperation is not possible or appropriate, consider negotiation. Give a little in order to get a little. In the process, gradually establish and learn to maintain relationships so that negotiation can be either continuous or resumed at any given time. Finally, where cooperation and negotiation are not available, try practicing tolerance and give time a chance. — By Len Wallick
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — If you have had to endure loss this year, it should now be possible to assuage some of the pain that came with it. As your first order of business, be gentle with yourself. If you need to mourn, allow yourself plenty of time. If you need help with or guidance through the process of grieving, give yourself the gift of finding the assistance you need. At the same time, don’t be hard on yourself. Guilt and shame are probably not your friends. Neither should you be critical of yourself regardless of what role or responsibility you have had in bringing on whatever has brought you down. Regret exists to learn from it. Remorse is to be expressed so that you can move on. Lighten your load by giving yourself credit for having done what you can in the past. Proceed to do what you can now. Especially as regards to any form of consolation or compensation that is now making itself available, endeavor to meet it at least halfway. — By Len Wallick
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Repetition can get old fast, especially for you, especially now. Therefore, where repetition is necessary, look to make it also refreshing — such as is (or should be) the case with bathing. On the other hand, any forms of recurrence or recitation that do not also confer a sense of renewal deserve the patient, yet judicious, scrutiny that you are especially gifted at conducting. Purging in any form should not be a hasty matter, for once tossed is often lost. Even so, any form of reiteration that has not, in a long time, provided you with a return on the time and energy you are investing is probably not worth persisting with. Therefore seek to find a middle way between recklessly abandoning routine and reflexively attaching to it. Remember that the idea is to continuously improve the quality of your life. So ask yourself whether discarding a particular practice will, in fact, achieve that end. — By Len Wallick
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — If you are a bit uncomfortable in your own skin, the feeling will probably pass. Meantime, you might want to make the most of whatever restlessness you feel. Indications are you have at least two options. Which you choose should depend on whether excitement or relaxation is more appropriate for you right now. Either way, you will probably need to take some unaccustomed form of action to relieve what appears for all the world to be an uncharacteristic but fortuitous itch. If you think a bit of excitement will best serve to get whatever it is that’s bugging you out of your system, it would probably be better to try a thrill that does not carry the risk of bodily harm. In other words, better to perform at an open mike than bungee jump off a bridge. Should relaxation seem like the best way to float your boat into more comfortable waters, look to do it in familiar surroundings. Better a candlelit bath or three in your own tub than a single trip to the spa. — By Len Wallick
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Put your powerful imagination to work by envisioning yourself in roles you have not yet dared to take on. For you, the most important part of your constructive daydreaming will be variety. Rather than becoming fixated on visualizing yourself as a rock star, for example, dare also to dream of being and doing many other things. As a matter of fact, no matter how strong your attachment to any particular fantasy, put it away after a day or two and allow yourself to move on to other reveries. That way, you will be maximizing the possibility of eventual fulfillment while minimizing the potential of ultimate disappointment. Unless your circumstances somehow dictate that you must soon settle on and manifest one — and only one — of the many possibilities you can see yourself becoming, take your time and wait until you have been through enough scenarios to be sure of which calls you with greatest certainty. This is not procrastination; it is finding your way. — By Len Wallick
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Don’t allow any perceived lack of what you conventionally consider progress to get the better of you. To the extent that you can, be task (rather than timetable) oriented. Think of yourself as making a map rather than following one. If you can arrange to see your life that way for the next five or six months, you will avoid a lot of frustration and spare yourself a great deal of wasted energy. In other words, instead of being obsessed with trying to get somewhere, focus on accomplishing something. Let that thing you are making happen justify wherever you need to go and whatever you have to do to complete your task. That way, every cul-de-sac, blind alley or dead end you encounter can be welcomed, noted and recorded as an integral part of the greater whole — rather than be a cause for exasperation. Don’t worry, by this time next year you really will have gone somewhere, precisely because you did something first. — By Len Wallick
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Expectations are not your ally, at least not for now. Better to have as few expectations of others as practicality will allow. It’s also a good idea to have only the most humble expectations of yourself. This is not to say you should abandon your ambitions or become some sort of spineless Caspar Milquetoast. It is to say that you should consider making flexibility one of your highest aspirations. If you will but reflect on your experience over the last seven or eight years, it should be clear that being rigid has not been nearly as helpful for you as being supple has. Rest assured, the goals you have pursued have left you with erudition, skills and qualifications you will retain for a long time, even if you have actually attained some very different (and almost certainly very worthwhile) objectives. In fact, nothing will have been lost if you will but combine the admirable diligence you have already shown with a more pliant perspective on your life. — By Len Wallick
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — It does not suck to be you. Don’t go to that dark place except to laugh at it. You should not measure yourself according to conventional standards when, in fact, you have been unconventional. Neither is it in any way right or appropriate to upbraid yourself for having practiced your idiosyncratic ways even if others cannot or will not understand. As much as you have had to endure the pain of losing who and what you have lost to be who and what you are, you have almost certainly gained even more. At the moment those gains are probably not apparent. Rather, the accumulated stores of what your originality has built up are hidden, and not from you. There are unprecedented and (as of yet) untapped reserves of creative genius inside you. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a way to access that genius without resorting to drugs, alcohol or other forms of self-destruction. — By Len Wallick
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You probably have an excellent and widespread reputation for all the things you are best at. That’s your mountain and you have built it. For the sake of that formidable massif, don’t allow any detractors to provoke you into making their molehills of disparagement any bigger than they are. Outside of legal recourse against the most clearly actionable forms of libel and slander, your best bet is not to dignify your critics. Don’t spend any of your valuable time and energy defending yourself against their petty complaints. Rather, seek to widen the base of your achievements by exposing your best work to more people in more places. In addition, exercise the greatest care so that in any personal contacts you make, your character and not that of others is the focus. Finally, your mountain’s best bet against any forces of erosion is to continue growing even higher at a pace that no aspersions can keep up with. — By Len Wallick