A Vast Public Park

View of the valley floor of Yosemite National Park from Tunnel View, in California. Far left is El Capitan; near the center in the distance is Half Dome. Famous Bridalveil Fall slows to a trickle in October, indicated by the darkened stripe of rock about a quarter of the way in from the right. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Dear Friend and Reader:

This week if you dared to turn on the television, you had your choice of the Earthquake Channel or the Riot Channel. These are both tragic situations, deserving of news coverage. Yet, as usual, coverage translated to needless over-focus, coming with the sensation that the world is ending.

That point was emphasized by Wednesday night’s Baltimore Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox game; no fans were allowed into the stadium. Baltimore Sun writer Dan Connoly wrote, “There was virtual silence. Crickets, with light typing from a hushed press box mixed in.”

Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park. Water volume is greater in spring, but autumn shows off the striped rock. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Such unworldly calm — the sound of crickets audible in the stadium during a Major League Baseball game — was contrasted with mayhem in the streets of Baltimore: peaceful protests, followed by less peaceful riots, arson fires, looting and attacks on the police, and incredibly, sabotage to firefighting equipment.

The outpouring of rage involved the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody two weeks ago. Somehow between the time he got into a police van and the time he got out, his spinal cord was severed. Such incidents are so common in Baltimore that there’s slang for them: rough rides. That sounds like a police euphemism to me.

In Nepal, scenes of agony were being broadcast nearly nonstop (and still are, on the international cable stations such as BBC World), with the occasional miracle of a trapped person being freed from the rubble. The problem with these images is that they almost always invoke the feeling of total helplessness in those seeing them.

Marshall McLuhan, my spiritual grandfather, taught us all that media are extensions of the senses and the central nervous system. We think of TV as being shown something far away (tele + vision). Really though, it’s like getting your eyes ripped out of your head and taken to the scene. That’s why it’s so exhausting. It does not help that television fixates on pain and agony and is distinctly unsuited to convey those emotions.

In fact it’s so difficult enduring this type of sensation that after our senses and nerve endings are extended, we amputate them. Being emotionally or psychically overwhelmed by an event leads to the next logical step, shutting down.

The emotions of these events came along with heightened sensitivity due to the approach of Sunday’s Scorpio Full Moon. The Full Moon is an exact opposition of the Moon and the Sun across an axis of the zodiac; in this case, the Sun is in Taurus and the Moon will be in Scorpio.

Taurus-Scorpio is the axis involving resources. Taurus is one’s own resources, beginning with one’s own body and sustenance resources such as farming equipment, land and money. Scorpio is shared resources, including DNA and other forms of sexual sharing, money gained through inheritance, and any resources gained through dowry or endowment.

Human society is, basically, a marketplace. On the most basic level, civilization is an exchange of what you have for what others have. If you have something to offer, you can present it for some kind of trade. That might be your labor, your time or your ideas. If you’re in finance, you might also lease your money to others. Money is a universal medium of exchange that can be converted into any form of labor, service or energy. It is extremely volatile, particularly now that it’s transacted digitally.

Looking east from Tunnel View at sunset, in Yosemite. Half Dome, just right of center, is 8.1 miles away. Photo by Amanda Painter.

If you don’t have something you can offer for exchange into money or barter — or if you don’t know you have something, or don’t believe in it — you may really have a problem. Society is not set up well to accommodate those who cannot participate in the marketplace. And it can be pretty cruel even to those who have something to offer.

The money transaction game is a special skill, and notably, it’s not one that is taught in school. Bookkeeping, accounting, investing and banking are considered special skills, not the generally needed skills that they are. Apart from the lack of money, many people struggle with a kind of illiteracy about how to use and handle it. It would seem that information is carefully guarded and a valuable resource of its own. But then tax codes are so complicated they make the heads of accountants spin.

There’s another huge problem. People are not often taught or encouraged to think in terms of what resources they have; that they were born with. We are conditioned to think that we have to acquire resources in order to do anything productive. For example, one must go to law school in order to practice law. People with innate talents, for example in writing, art or music, are often treated the worst by society. It’s as if people are punished for having something natural that they can share, by being made to feel that their gift is worthless.

I assure you that nearly all writers, artists and musicians go through this to some real degree. The lucky or perhaps shrewd and very determined ones have figured out how to get beyond it. Those not so fortunate really struggle. Artists figure out fast how messed up the world’s values are, mainly by being told or shown so often that what they do is valueless to those who have money. Personally, I think that jealousy is involved. Those who have sold off their humanity in order to win at the financial game are often jealous of those who have chosen to preserve and express their humanity.

I am not saying that money is evil or makes people evil (it can seem to have those effects, but that’s another discussion). I am saying that most people don’t like what they have to do in order to make money. And they often resent when someone does what they like to do, and tries to convert that into a living.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Photo by Kathy Linehan.

Sunday’s Full Moon arrives at the time of Beltane. Beltane is the mid-spring holiday that reminds us that all wealth comes from the Earth. Where Taurus and Scorpio meet in the most organic way is the agricultural fertility ritual that involves having sex out in the fields as a way to send loving energy into the Earth. The Earth in turn responds by producing the food that sustains people all year long.

Here is the point where we get beyond an economy as the platform for trade between you and me exclusively. We get the reminder that there is always a third party to the equation of trade — the Earth itself. Without the source of all this goodness, there is nothing to have.

And as long as trade is done on a limited scale, there is less to have. It’s very helpful when people combine their resources and create something that is greater than the sum of the parts. For example, to have a ship that brings resources across the sea, it usually takes more than one person.

If you want to have a market that attracts people who want to exchange resources, it helps to have many vendors; rather than competing, they create a kind of magnetism that draws people to the event. This, in turn, facilitates diversity, and improves quality. Many times I would wander around the lavish outdoor markets in Paris and Brussels and think that I was experiencing the very height of civilization. Wares and commodities (such as olives and cheese) from all over the world were available to anyone with some money.

That’s the catch, isn’t it. You have to have something of value to offer in order to get something back. To do that you have to know what that thing of value is.

Because money has been reduced to an abstraction, we forget this. We forget that there really is an exchange of what you do for what other people do. Instead of thinking of money as a useful resource, we tend to think of it as power, or as the root of desperation. The volatility of money does not help this. There are only so many camels or bales of hay that a person can have. But there is no practical limit on how much money one can have, which creates all kinds of imbalances.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Photo by Kathy Linehan.

In this weekend’s Full Moon chart, Jupiter is placed at the midpoint of the Moon and the Sun. Jupiter is in Leo, the sign of gold. To one side is the Moon in Scorpio, seemingly with an unfulfilled need. To the other side is the Sun in Taurus, seemingly with something to offer. The exchange happens by way of Jupiter, which looks like a kind of central pool of resources.

Jupiter in Leo is a reminder that there is plenty of everything to go around. It’s a reminder that we can afford to be generous. Often it will be through your generosity that you discover your abundance; that you discover what resources are available. I believe that the key with the resource of money is to keep it moving. Savings are good, just like air in a bagpipe is good, but in order to get any sound out of the thing you have to squeeze out some of the air.

Another interesting feature of this Full Moon is Mars, the planet that in traditional astrology rules Scorpio. This forms a bond between the Moon and Mars. In a sense, Mars is an extension of the Moon in Scorpio. The Scorpio Moon might be expressing a need of some kind, or at least a passionate feeling, but that is focused in the planet that rules Scorpio.

The great Lois Rodden (who pioneered organized birth data collection and rating) once wrote a missive in which she said something like: astrology thinks that Mercury is the planet of money, but it’s wrong. Acquiring money takes drive. It takes focus and energy. This we find in Mars. That makes sense, because Mars is indeed the ruling planet of Scorpio, which is about shared resources, and a certain shrewdness around money.

In Sunday’s Full Moon chart, Mars shows up in one of my favorite degrees of the zodiac: 25 Taurus. This degree has the symbol “A Vast Public Park.” (By symbol, I mean something called a Sabian symbol, a degree-by-degree reference system that provides descriptions for all 360 phases of the zodiac).

A public park is a resource that we can all share. It was acquired with public funds from a pre-existing natural resource, the land. You might say that the park is set aside for collective enjoyment, but given the problem of industrialization and technology, these spaces are becoming more important for survival. They are artifacts of the gone world.

View from atop Lembert Dome in Yosemite National Park in California; elevation 9,455 feet. (Not to be confused with the iconic Half Dome, made famous by Ansel Adams and countless others.) Photo by Amanda Painter.

They are reminders of our heritage. And they are the most important wealth of a nation, particularly the United States, which has enormous debt; the National Park system is both the endowment and the collateral of our society.

Mars in this degree is saying contribute some of your energy and your resources to the collective. Remember how little would be possible if you did not. I know that the currently fashionable economic theory, the sham known as the free market, preaches the doctrine of survival of the fittest, or at least the smartest. Were that true, there would not be a Bank of America or a Chase or Citibank left standing.

The free market is not free, and it’s a doctrine of cruelty. Nature is definitely not communist, but I see far less evidence that it’s capitalist. The most productive animals that I know of are bees. They work together and run the hive at a profit.

Mars in the degree of the vast public park is saying that cooperation is the way of nature, or at least points the way out of the economy that has been created by values other than honoring humanity, and the exchange of our natural gifts — with nature as the mediator.

Have yourself an awesome Beltane Full Moon and remember, all wealth comes from the Earth.

With love,

Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, April 30, 2015 #1047 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Yours is the sign of ‘me’ and ‘I am’, but something else is in the air at the moment. I suggest you focus your orientation on both shared resources, and collective resources. Political and corporate rhetoric for the past 30 years has force-fed people with the idea that they themselves are all that matters, everyone else be damned. We need to recognize what an anti-social concept that is, since the whole notion of society is based on the sharing of resources that pay for things like streetlights, fire departments, storm drains, parks and even shopping malls. I suggest you think of everything in collective terms, and notice your connection to everyone with whom you transact even the most casual business. Notice how people depend on you and how you depend on them. Notice what energy (in any form) moves when that dependency is activated. You may pay someone to make your lunch, yet even so, are you grateful they did it for you?
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — This weekend’s Full Moon across the Taurus-Scorpio axis is going to bring certain relationship matters to a head. If the air is clear, this could be great fun; the peak of energy would manifest as something erotic or passionate. If the air is not quite clear, small matters could become large ones, and that has the potential to do some damage. Therefore, I would suggest maintaining a policy of gentle clarity, and at the same time, maintaining a perspective on what really matters. You are in an unusual position to notice the feelings and viewpoint of others. If you can do that, you will have a realistic sense of scale. You will be less likely to overreact or over-compensate. I suggest you make sure that every relationship in your life is assigned a larger purpose. Some relationships take them on naturally; some need to be trained. From the look of the planets over the next week or so, I suggest you work both of those approaches.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Mercury in your sign is urging you to be discerning of what people in power say to you. You’re on notice to question all agendas, including your own, though especially those to which you’re subject. To avoid making a discovery too late, I suggest that you listen carefully to what people say — and strive to understand its implications. The thought processes of most people fall short of that step: what is the implied meaning of a statement or an action? Either that, or those implications are greatly overestimated and misunderstood. What you’re looking for is subtle, and there is likely to be some element of discernible truth or lack of truth in what you hear. Or there will be if you employ your reasoning skills, logic and gift of language. To put it simply, pay attention and think for yourself. Stop and notice when you discover that you’ve lapsed in those things. It would also be very helpful to take written notes, because aspects suggest you might discover and then forget the most important bits of information.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Sex is the word and the deed. The Moon is full in Scorpio this weekend, and for you that’s about an adventure. I recognize that for many people, sex is getting scarier, as what it tends to lead to is a form of intimacy. Remember that sex starts with you, and it comes back to you. There may be others along the circuit — lovers, friends or fantasy partners. If there are, remember that you have something to offer them. You’re a kind of erotic and creative reservoir. You can afford to be generous, and think in terms of the nourishment that you offer to people. Really focus on that, so you see it and understand it. At the same time, pay attention to what’s being asked and expected of you. Pay attention to what you’re being given. Notice how you feel before, during and after any sexual encounter, whether it’s alone or with someone else. It’s up to you to maintain balance in all of the equations of your life, especially this one.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Jupiter in your birth sign gets to ride the full energetic wave of this weekend’s Full Moon. You may experience this as the sensation of power, of strength, of safety or simply of belonging. Let that strength emerge from the inside rather than from the circumstances of your life. In fact you may feel like that’s your only option, as you may feel disconnected from certain external factors, or like you’re the only one who really understands. Your solar chart describes a situation where you can reach out to someone who feels that they’re the only one who understands — though they don’t feel nearly as strong or as confident as you do. You may need to inquire gently what’s going on. This person may be communicating by not speaking rather than saying something out loud. This person’s feelings are arranged in layers and there is likely to be a group dynamic involved. Follow the lines and you will learn a lot about your own current family pattern. One discovery will lead to another. It’s that kind of weekend.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You seem determined to assert your leadership and your message, though I suggest you listen first and speak later. You have a chance of being misunderstood, or worse, presumed to be wrong. Therefore pay attention to your surroundings. What you have to offer is something of lasting value, which is a balance against thinking you have to get it all out and get it right the first time. The natural point of intervention is a writing and rewriting process. For many people writing is pretty easy; it’s the revision part that slows them down, or they seem to lack confidence in their ability to do it. You might say that writing is about making up your mind, and revision is about changing your mind — and that’s what makes both thinking and writing relevant. Editing means there is no presumed perfection; rather, the message of the editing medium is that life is a work in progress, and ideas in particular benefit from exploration. What you are looking for is something that resonates more deeply as truth. To go in that direction, sometimes you must add, and other times you must subtract.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You seem to be uncertain about the flow of revenue associated with your profession. You might be asking whether what you have will last; that’s a matter of planning. It’s also about considering your alternatives carefully and not being caught in any one way of doing things. You can consider the entirely opposite approach. You can consider two approaches at once (a kind of A/B test). Mostly, as you are about to discover, your success is about being seen for who you are, which means embodying who you are with confidence. Remember that the only vocation you will find satisfying is one in which you are actively supporting, nourishing and nurturing others. By active, I mean that you get reasonably immediate results and your own efforts are not too far removed from the benefits that others receive. Others around you are willing to cooperate with that. In fact they seem to have, at least for the moment, found that space where they’re open to the concept of the greatest good for all concerned. Get it while it’s hot.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — This weekend’s Full Moon in your birth sign will stir up deep passions, needs and desires. True enough, that’s happening most of the time, though astrology like this arrives with depth and feeling and some mystery. So take that ride, with no expectation where it will lead you. One thing I suggest you focus on is your sense of mission. Not your career, not your ambitions, but rather your calling. Think of this in an integrated way. Your calling is not separate from who you are or what you do, but rather something that you express with every cell in your body. It’s also something that is expressed through your relationships and your contact with your environment. You may understand this in theory — that who you are is never separate from what you do — though now you get to experience that as visceral. This is the physical sensation that you are real. It may fill you up and seem to pass by, but really it’s not going anywhere. Remember the feeling and keep creating the conditions that lead you there.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — If a conversation with a friend or partner seems to hit a block or impasse, keep it light. This is definitely not a situation where if something is stuck, whack harder. In fact the opposite is true. There’s likely to be some external factor that is causing a distraction or distortion. In other words, there’s an element to the situation that is not true, but you believe that it is, and that’s the root of the problem. One thing that will help is giving things time, as in a few days. Several current factors suggest that it’s not easy to see viewpoints for what they are. Others indicate that there’s likely to be an emotional exaggeration (most likely on your part). Therefore to avoid needless complication, interpose a delay. Now is not the time to speak the truth at all costs, because you may not know what it is. Even if you verify certain facts, there are going to be more that come to light. Therefore take it light and take it easy. All opinions are subject to change.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You may be grasping for a strategy that you cannot wrap your hands around. In this and other ways, you may feel like you’re standing on ground that cannot really support you, either because it’s actually shaking or because you don’t trust it. You may feel like you have to put all your faith into something intangible. If I may reinterpret that: what you’re actually experiencing is the potential for change; the simple fact of movement and indeed progress. The expectation of a static universe, of situations and people not changing, is a formula for chaos. The more you expect things to stay the same, the more they will seem to be changing out of your control. The more you notice where you are now and notice the movement of energy, the more you’re likely to feel that you can guide your life and make decisions. The mere fact that decisions are possible speaks to the power of change. Add the factor of necessary risk and you have a formula for progress.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You may need to keep your balance in a relationship situation. If you’re finding that’s true, notice where you’ve been left out of the equation. You may have left yourself out, or there may be some setup that somehow includes the viewpoint or needs of everyone else but which omits you. Therefore, notice whether that’s true, and write yourself back into the script of your own life. There seems to be some question of public opinion involved in this whole topic, such as whether you fit in, whether your ideas are acceptable, or what people perceive as your image. I can offer you a clue. There’s something you are saying or doing that is in fact daring, and which as an indirect result calls out the lack of courage of others. It’s not that you’re trying to do this; it’s a matter of perception. It would be wise of you not to pay too much attention to the stuck viewpoints of others; rather stick to your idea or your message.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Security for you is a state of mind. We could say that’s true for most people, but you’re especially sensitive to the ways in which your mental state sets the scene for whether you feel safe in your home or on the planet. This is independent of whether you’re actually safe, or have reasons to feel that way. What is interesting about your solar chart is that you have two distinctly different viewpoints related to your own sense of belonging. Sometimes they conflict, sometimes they work in harmony, and sometimes they function independently of one another. One growth mission you have now and for the next month or two is charting this out. You will get to create a mind map, and this map will take you into the distant past. For now, I suggest you stay in the moment, and adopt as your mantra a question: Is that really true? Use that with everything you hear, what you say and what you think.

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