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Kingston, NY, Friday, March 19, 2010

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Cosmic Equinox, or the Anti-Sixties?
Dear Planet Waves Reader:

We're about to experience a spring season like no other. It has an ordinary beginning, more or less. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, spring begins when the Sun's rays square the equator, just past noon in the Eastern U.S. zone on Saturday, March 20. We're currently in that brief phase where night and day are equal around the world. In the midst of this, the Sun enters the sign Aries and the new astronomical year begins. There are a few extra planets in Aries -- at the moment, Venus and Mercury, and of course, ultra-longtime tenant Eris.

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Late winter light near New Paltz, in Ulster Country, NY. Photo by Eric Francis.
Aries is a cardinal sign, which means if all goes well enough, it arrives with strength, determination and initiative. Think of all the energy rising out of the ground: seeds bursting into bloom, trees creating tens of thousands of new leaves to harvest the newly-available rays of the Sun, animals birthing and even people taking a moment to feel alive.

Part of our spring cleaning/revival is that Mars stationed direct on March 10. Mars is the ruler of Aries and the energy of the sky is now focused here. Despite a brief Mercury retrograde coming in a few weeks, and the fact that we will need to use some of that Mars direct energy cleaning up the mess made by Mars retrograde events, we are on solid ground. The thing to watch for is oppositions: you will have to do your part to sidestep needless contention and controversy. Keep your encounters real; choose well.

I say this recognizing how challenging life is for how many people right now, even the ones with homes and jobs and health insurance. The relentless 2012 quality of "everything, all at once" is still influencing our lives, and will be for a while -- particularly as the energy picks up over the next two months and everyone of every psychic shape and vibration responds their own special way to the conditioning forces that surround us.

The Second Equinox

In addition to the usual fire-surge of spring, this particular season contains a planetary event that takes this energy to a cosmic scale. On June 8 there is a second equinox, where two of the largest and also most influential planets align exactly in the first degree of Aries -- the Aries Point. Think of that degree as a kind of amplifier that makes an astrological event impossible to miss, resonating through the inner and outer worlds as if they were one thing, which of course they are.

Planet Waves
Kepler did some of his best mathematical work confirming the nature of the solar system under a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. He also made his living as an astrologer. I once wrote a postcard from his writing table, in a German museum.
The planets involved are Jupiter (wisdom, expansion, culture, pleasure, exotic) and Uranus (spontaneous, disruptive, revolution, ingenious, forward-thinking). They meet up every 14 years, in a different sign (the last time was Aquarius, in February 1997). This is a conjunction that is often around for mysterious confluences of great breakthroughs in human progress: psychoanalysis, quantum theory and the Moon landing; and in much earlier eras, some of the greatest work by Kepler and Galileo -- all of which happens at the time of other great discoveries, as documented by Rick Tarnas in his book Cosmos and Psyche.

And each comes with a distinct social environment, which feels like existence lighting up (and that light can throw a few shadows, too). Though any moment of astrology is unique in the world, it's possible to make some comparisons to past events. If you're old enough to remember 1969, you've felt something like this. The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction happened that year, in very early Libra -- precisely opposite of where it happens in the spring of 2010.

It was the year that opposition to the American war in Vietnam reached its peak. While 600,000 people marched on Washington to protest the war, another 100,000 demonstrated simultaneously in San Francisco. I've mentioned the Moon landing, which was in July -- the first time that humans touched the surface of another planet. By some miracle, this was followed a few weeks later by the Woodstock Festival in August, which was like life on Earth turning into life on another planet. One aspect of the technology of the mid-to-late Sixties (and in particular Woodstock) was the wide-scale availability of LSD, a drug that leads people to be mellow, introspective and loving toward one another.

The year was not all jubilance. Nixon became president that January. Manson murders happened that summer. The Beatles broke up and went their separate ways. Yet every event had a quality of being personally significant, affecting many people. These were not abstract news items; they were palpable experiences that we cared about, and that came crashing into our living rooms. They have all left many visual impressions in our minds. It was a mythic time in history, larger than life, yet also in the flow of life.

There are odd little technology details from 1969. The Boeing 747 and Concorde made their first flights. A lot of nasty information came out about Vietnam, including the fact of an illegal war in Laos (Cambodia was the next year). A grief-stricken Sen. Ted Kennedy drove his car off of Dyke Bridge, killing a former campaign worker. All of this happened in a few short seasons; most of it focused on the summer.

What Time It Is

To understand a confluence of events that significant, it helps to look to astrology. There's unlikely to be an explanation in conventional history or sociology, or not one that's spiritually satisfying. Astrology is a matter of what time it is, and both the planets and world events help us see that. By 1969 it was time for people to get together; it was time for awareness of global issues to amount to something.

Planet Waves
600,000 people march against the Vietnam War in Washington, DC on November 15, 1969.
In Libra style, there were three massive peace gatherings -- the two antiwar protests and the historic pro-peace protest we think of as Woodstock. I have always considered Woodstock one of the most moving, poignant statements by the public against Vietnam; it's always seemed like the best protest ever. I thought I would ask Michael Lang, the creator of the festival, if he agreed.

"The war was definitely at the center," Lang said in a March 11 email. "Everyone's thinking was focused on stop the war."

What's different about the astrology of '10 as compared to '69 is that the setup is a mirror image. For example, we are now in two Vietnam-like wars (they serve no actual purpose, they are expensive and we're caught in tactical, political and ethical quagmires) but hardly anyone says a word. These wars, destroying the lives of many and causing incalculable grief, are nowhere near the center of public consciousness. They barely make the news. We are not paying attention, and when we look back and try to figure out how this happened, let the record reflect that on the day of the there was barely a conversation on the 7th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Where a conjunction occurs tells you something about how it's going to feel, and how many people it will affect. In 1969, the conjunction took place in Libra, a sign that's mellow on the exterior but with a lot of mojo coming out from deep inside. The themes of Libra include art, balance, beauty and relationship.

Planet Waves
Footprint of Buzz Aldrin in the lunar surface, July 20, 1969. Photo by Neil Armstrong.
In 2010, the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction takes place in the more impetuous sign Aries, a fire sign and the first sign of the zodiac. Aries tends to be self-centered and lacks the balance of Libra. It comes with a raw, unrefined and fiery quality. The two conjunctions have one thing in common, which is that they appear in the very early degrees of what are called cardinal signs -- the signs that start the seasons.

That puts them in aspect to something called the Aries Point. When you think of the Aries Point, the summer of 1969 is a great example of the energy. Even though two enormous planets were opposite the Aries Point that summer, it worked just fine to stir up the full effect of that degree: what I describe as the personal is political.

The conjunction of 2010, which takes place in early June, will have a different flavor, a different-feeling tone. Aries not only lacks any sense of balance; it's the opposite of balance: Aries is a surge of energy. By definition it is self-centered rather than other-centered. The energy is emotional (fiery, Aries) rather than mental (airy, Libra).

By 1969, the peak of Sixties astrology had already passed -- the extremely rare Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-1966. Currently we are approaching the next peak of that cycle, which is the essence of 2012 -- the Uranus-Pluto square. The energy of this square is now building; it hasn't happened yet, but we are starting to feel the vibes. We have quite a few surprises in store, and they begin right about now.

The Anti-Sixties?

In some ways this spring looks like an anti-Sixties moment rather than any kind of replay of the Sixties. The outspoken activists of our day are conservatives. There is kind of a contra-hippie movement known as the Teabaggers. Their name pertains to anti-tax protests (the original Boston Tea Party of yore), but (in perfect anti-Sixties spirit) also refers to a sexual act that few of them seem to have heard of.

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Spoof by The Onion on a protest by conservative activists such as the Teabag Movement. Read the related story here. Photo: The Onion.
Though they claim to be in favor of individual rights most of them are against a woman's rights, and sex education, and the rights of gay people. So it's an "individual rights for us, not for you" movement. Most Teabaggers are against government spending but in favor of war. But if you don't cut the military budget, that leaves the relatively small portion of the budget spent on actual social programs to cut.

There is lots of subtle, festering anger, yet little in the way of expression and no corresponding spirit of celebration. In fact, though it's taken me about 15 years to figure it out, there seems to be a perpetual retreat among many who have something to offer or share, unless they are convinced that it's going to be absolutely nonthreatening to their neighbors or the authorities. It seems dangerous or foolish to care too much. Somebody might notice you.

There's lots of talk about coming out and doing something together, then it seems like a big deal to have a drum circle. Clearly, many people are insecure, but many are riveted to their computers and iPods and that is the way they see the world: as an experience they observe remotely rather than participate in.

Injustice after injustice happens, and not only is there not a pushback, you barely hear a peep. In the late Sixties and early Seventies, women were gaining rights and recognition. Today that process is running in reverse. In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert on March 8 signed a law that makes it a crime for a woman or a girl to have a miscarriage. The law reads: "A woman is not guilty of criminal homicide of her own unborn child if the death of her unborn child...is not caused by an intentional or knowing act of the woman." Sorting out that convoluted language, if a pregnant woman falls down the stairs and loses her child, she can be put on trial for criminal homicide. The way the law is written sounds like she's guilty until whatever happened is determined to have happened unintentionally.

I'm just wondering why the only place I've heard about this is from my news-scouring editorial assistant. This issue is not registering in public awareness. In another era, women would have been in the streets protesting. Now it's high fashion to say, "That's too bad, but what can I do about it?" -- that is, if you've even heard about it.

Many people who identify as liberal have set up so many strict rules for themselves that it would be comical to describe them as liberated. Many seem terrified to so much as talk about sex. Spirituality imposes as many dictates as the pope, as does the mandate of having the perfect image. These conceptual structures, which to me feel like keeping oneself in a cage, are going to come under a lot of stress when this conjunction happens. It absolutely bursts with human potential -- with the 'I Am' energy of Aries.

Reaching for Human Potential

Human potential and self-awareness are something we could do with a lot more of right now. I keep hearing people ask when everyone is going to wake up; this aspect looks a lot like an awakening. I would be more optimistic if I heard people ask about when they are going to wake up.

Planet Waves
At Boeing Field in Seattle, two early 747 aircraft are parked. In 1969 there were three breakthroughs in aviation -- the Moon landing, the Concorde and the 747. Technology is one expression of the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, but so too are breakthroughs on the mental and spiritual levels of thought. And the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction has a lot to say about the cooperation that makes technology and other forms of human progress possible. Photo courtesy of Boeing Corporation.
I have a few concerns about this conjunction. Aries is a militant sign, and we live in an era when militants get most of the attention. It's ruled by Mars, the ancient god of war. In the Sixties activists would put flowers into guns. Here in the anti-Sixties, "activists" carry guns. The modern equivalent of the back to the land movement is: start a militia.

This conjunction has a lot of Mars to it, and we've just come through a long, challenging Mars retrograde that covered the entire winter through March 10. This came with plenty of frustrated will and desire, still working itself out. However, over the next two months as we approach the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, the energy shifts in the direction of expression, of self-awareness and of some new kind of liberation, particularly for our era.

Here is the issue I'm having, if it's not clear yet. It seems like the people who feel the most comfortable speaking up and claiming their space are the ones who would hold others down. My concern is that this conjunction is going to embolden them more than it's going to speak to the people who wish they could stand up, express themselves and be free for its own sake. I understand that it can feel dangerous to do this, but I'm wondering how far into the basement, the closet or the corner we're willing to be pushed before we push back or just take our space.

True, push doesn't need to come to shove. It's possible to simply be free, but I think that the fear of a confrontation, and the fear of being seen as different, is precisely what keeps many, many people locked in their house, typing on the Internet under a fake handle that can't be traced back to them.

Here's the silver lining. Clearly, we need more group consciousness in our culture; we've done just about everything we can do alone, from going bowling to imaginary sex to a DVD exercise program. Anything significant that we need to do as a society will take the combined efforts of many. Most of the really fun things we want to do, we do with others.

Yet groups are groups of individuals. A collection of people who are not individuals is a mass and not a group. A mass has completely different dynamics, such as the sum total of everyone who drinks Diet Pepsi, or the mentality of a mob.

A conjunction this strong in the first degree of Aries has individuality written all over it. The thing about this kind of individuality is that it calls on us to really be who we are, to say what we believe and express the energy and potential we contain. That, in turn, is an invitation to grow and change in obvious, expressive ways -- in ways we might be seen and noticed. As of today, that is supposedly as scary as it gets.

Let's see about tomorrow.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

What's New at Planet Waves

As usual, there's all kinds of exciting stuff happening on Planet Waves websites. We've completely revamped the Planet Waves homepage, making us the easiest website to navigate since Netflix. This weekend Daily Astrology & Adventure will morph into a news blog, covering the latest details in the health reform vote taking place Sunday. I have posted one of the more significant charts and I am sure a discussion will emerge at that link. Then there's the conversation about the astrological houses as they describe sex and relationships which continues, up to nearly 90 comments as of this writing. Eric has followed up with an entry about why some people get bristled by his articles on the topic, collecting comments as we speak. Len Wallick has done some excellent articles this week on the equinox, including one called Intimations and Speculations. Eric will have a more technical summary of the equinox at the Cosmic Confidential Diary.

Don't miss our guide to site navigation for subscribers. That will come by email in a little while.

Rent a War
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Early in this century, we discovered that our military had become dependent on the services of private contractors. We were surprised to learn that deals were being struck not only for goods and services, supplies and reconstruction, but also for protection and security. Enter Blackwater USA, a paramilitary organization that provided mercenaries -- literally hired guns -- to defend the new Iraqi Embassy, oversee their many subsidiaries, and provide services to the CIA. Controversy regarding Blackwater's activities grew steadily until a shooting incident in 2007 left 14 civilians dead.

Planet Waves
At the 6,000-acre training ground of Blackwater USA, scores of former military commandos, police officers and civilians are prepared each month to join the lucrative but often deadly work of providing security for corporations and governments in the toughest corners of the globe.
During the Bush years, the Coalition Provisional Authority compiled a list of 60 different firms providing security services. Blackwater was the second largest contractor in support of troops in Iraq. After changing their name to Blackwater Worldwide in 2007, they began offering their services internationally. The Department of Homeland Security used Blackwater in the relief effort during Hurricane Katrina at a cost of $240,000 a day; their heavily-armed presence drew sharp criticism during that anxious period. The Blackwater brand became an embarrassment. To sidestep the resulting bad press, the company changed its name to Xe Services in 2009, and its originator and president, Erik Prince, stepped down. The name change has not stuck with a wary public, however, and the press continues to call the company Blackwater. As Shakespeare's Juliet murmured, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Or stink as badly, considering our topic. Yet this foul organization continues to thrive despite the Iraqi government denying it further permits to operate in that nation.

Make no mistake, private contracting is big business, critical to the U.S. military industrial complex. According to recent reports, we utilize about 250,000 armed or unarmed contractors in the Iraq and Afghanistan war theatres, approximately 50% of our total force. With the American footprint fading from Iraq, our attention has turned toward Afghanistan, and so has Blackwater's. Obama has declared a major goal to be the training of the Afghani national police. This project was in the hands of DynCorp for the last several years, with little progress noted. The Department of Defense has now solicited bids on a new contract for this task.

Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, March 19, 2010, #808 - BY ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aah, the mysteries that spring from women. But I would ask: is it the girl, or the grown adult? Is it a mix of both? And what is their relationship? I suggest that you discern the difference between them. They may show up in the same place, with different needs and agendas. The girl needs protection. She has a fragile quality to her psyche and is touching her nascent sense of identity for what may feel like the first time. The woman has held down an enormous amount of energy and feels like she's going to explode, melt down or go mad from lack of attention. Here is what's going on a few layers down: the source of inner chaos is the sense that her gifts are not being received by the world, or that she lacks the courage to offer them.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
You may be figuring out that there is a difference between who you think you are, and who you really are. To some extent this is true for everyone, but your sense of yourself seems to be rather fired up these days. You seem to be concerned about how you're perceived, and you are doing your best to hold your attention on a concept of yourself that you want to emphasize and then broadcast that into the world. Here is what I am inclined to ask: are you angry about something? Does that something involve whether you feel safe? I suggest you address the safety issue first, which may involve some actual question about how you feel in your environment. Stick to practical issues rather than trying to compensate with the force of your personality. If you have something to say to someone, say it directly -- not in fantasy.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
"Friend" is the most trampled word in English, and Facebook is not helping matters. For you this word needs to be connected to an actual idea of what constitutes an authentic friend. Checking the history of this word, it is connected to the idea to love. So someone you love is one version of who you might consider a friend. If you can say the words to them, that is a good indication; if you can say what you love, that's even better. Researching deeper, the word friend is indirectly related to fiend or enemy. It's vital that you know the difference. Perhaps someone who causes a disruption in your life is a friend, but it's not likely. It may be that someone centered on themselves is a friend, but that is even less likely. Someone who speaks the truth to you, sincerely and clearly: that is a friend.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
You have all the luck you need to succeed; you have the talent; now you need focus and efficiency. If you're going to begin anything this week, limit that to two items, preferably related to one another. You are in the mood to get things going, yet you need to be careful and discerning about your motives, and the speed with which you attempt to accomplish anything. Be mindful of people around you who stir up conflict or strive to get attention. One way you can cut back on this phenomenon is by being clear with yourself about who you are, and why you do what you do. This will set a boundary; your clarity will, at least, help you see when others are not clear, or when their agenda does not match yours. What you do with that information is another issue, but the fact that you will indeed need to have it is clear.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Your ideas about life are moving faster than your life, but that's about the speed of things: fortunately ideas take time to manifest, because not all of them will serve you. Mars is moving slowly -- and I would add, with extra potency -- through your birth sign now. That is a clue to strive for progress one day at a time, but even that might be a bit too fast some days, because it would seem that your intention is to do deep work and lay a solid foundation. I suggest you set an agenda for the week, and contrast that with your agenda for some longer stretch of time, such as a year. Make sure the items on your weekly agenda match some items on your longer one. Then, yes, take existence one day at a time -- and remember what happened yesterday.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
You've been on quite a ride in the relationship department the past few weeks, but I would ask: what in life does not involve relationships? Even when you're walking around your apartment alone at 3:30 am, you are in relationship to everything you see. The thing about your connection to a vase, a television or a book is that you know you bring the energy. You make up the story. This is more challenging to see in dynamic, live-action situations. That's partly because they involve two or more people bringing their energy. Yet the same value holds: you continue to evaluate everyone around you. The question is, on what basis are you making that assessment? Or maybe this is the question: in what ways do you feel your mental state is compromised by a relationship in which you have a vast investment of 'self'?

Planet Waves

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
It may surprise you who turns out to have what opinion this week, or what experience you learn that someone close to you has been through. Whether you identify with it is another question, but I suggest you do your best to empathize in any event. That seems to be the whole point. The problem with allowing yourself true empathy with something you may not relate to is that you will reveal things about yourself (to yourself, and to others) that you were not expecting and that you may feel uncomfortable with. However, if you stick with the process, you will learn something about yourself -- quite potentially, something that's been eluding you for years. One of the core issues involves how you see yourself in your relationships: is your self-image the one with gifts, or one who brings problems?

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Mark Twain joked about not letting one's schoolin' get in the way of one's learnin'. I would say: don't let your work get in the way of your professional aspirations; don't let your professional aspirations get in the way of your ability to get things done. After considerable frustration and confusion, you can now get the two going in the same basic direction; at least tuned to the same key. You may have to do this in manual mode. I suggest you see where your smaller efforts add up to drive forward your larger objectives. See where your larger objectives can call on you to scale back what amounts to busy work -- but not your dharma. That is, some things that feel like busy work are actually actual, authentic committed duties. Just because you don't like doing something doesn't mean that it's not truly vital.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
There seems to be some family or tribal drama threatening your peace of mind. Since I know how delicate that peace of mind has been for you, I'm feeling a little protective: and that's who you need to surround yourself with. Meanwhile, you're facing a complex psychological situation that you would be wise to handle mentally rather than emotionally. I am not saying you need to run from the emotional dimension, but rather that at this phase, your emotions are an indicator of what you can work out through awareness, analysis and most of all, through an understanding of your family history. What you are going through may feel like it's 'in the present' but I would say it's more of the 'the past is the present' variety of personal material. Where to begin? If you can, talk to your mother.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Make sure you're kind to the people who feed you; make sure that you choose to feed the people who are kind to you. Make sure you feed yourself. This is the moment of the equinox, when night and day are balanced around the world, symbolic of a state of equilibrium. Ceres in your sign is suggesting strongly that you consciously balance out all the exchanges in your life. Evaluate carefully and be mindful of your prejudice. What you think is a loss might not be a loss. What you think is a gain might not be a gain. The basis on which you need to evaluate is on what nourishes or depletes you. Be clear about this. We are all accustomed to situations where we give more than we receive; where generosity works against us. Make your decisions with no hard feelings; just gratitude that you can indeed get your life in order.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
You're starting to understand what changes you need to make. The feeling has been intuitive till recently, and you've had some radiant moments of clarity. That's different than observations that you can refer back to, which reveal what you're actually experiencing. Even in considering your healing process, you've been idealizing matters in a way that has not, until now, stood up to the evidence. I'm describing a few of the properties of Chiron, which is gradually separating from its conjunction to Neptune. You're encountering a new kind of clarity, and a new depth of intuition. Honoring this, I suggest that you have no opinion that you cannot support with data; that you have no hunch you cannot support without actual observation, preferably something that you've written on paper or typed in an email.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
I know, you still can't see around that corner -- the one that seems to be behind you but is really in front of you; the one that seems to have defined a decade of your life, but which is really right in front of you. The way to work with this uneasy tension is to choose where you want to be. Get out of automatic mode and make your decisions with full awareness of what you are choosing, and what your options are. You have, at the moment, an overwhelming amount of potential, and this may not be making your life any easier. So you need to focus, and you need a basis for what you choose to focus on. You have three choices, approximately. One is what you perceive as necessity. One is what you perceive as crisis. The last is what you want, and that may be the most difficult to see -- but it's clearly the most important to look at.

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