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Photo by Elliott Landy.
How Did We Get Here? (Part 2)
They Were Barefoot in Babylon

Dear Friend and Reader:

A few weeks ago hanging out in the backroom of 30th Street Guitars, master luthier Matt Brewster mentioned that the Woodstock festival was held during the Hong King Flu pandemic. All public sources agree that this outbreak of H3N2 influenza-A killed a million people worldwide and 100,000 in the United States between mid-1968 and late-1969, during which time the festival occurred.

I posted a photo of the crowd to Facebook mentioning this fact, unaware I was wading into one of those seemingly pre-packaged, ready-to-snap shitstorms. My post got 157 comments, including a good few of the "there's no comparison between then and now," "you're comparing apples to oranges" (about which I finally wrote an essay), "it wasn't really in the middle," and the "you're an idiot" variety. People posted numerous articles "debunking" the claim from self-styled factchecking websites. Problem is, it actually happened. Even Snopes cannot make the whole Woodstock festival or a global pandemic vanish.

In that mysterious Facebook way, an audience of plebes spontaneously morphed into a panel of elite epidemiologists. They were quick to remind me that back then, more people smoked cigarettes and didn't wear seatbelts, either. True, true. I knew that.

Not everyone thinks the way society has handled the threat of the "novel coronavirus" was responsible, helpful, effective or for that matter, even meekly sane. Not everyone thinks that living in constant fear or hiding in one's home is a good idea, including and especially as a public health measure. That was demonstrated several weeks ago when we learned that 66% of new hospital admissions in New York City were people who had isolated themselves. There exist significant reasons to doubt or at least question the honesty of public officials.

As for no comparison between Covid and H3N2, well, there was an outbreak going on that had already killed a lot of people, not just the potential for one. During this event, 450,000 kids packed onto a manure-infused cow grazing pasture, with thunderstorms much of the weekend -- the perfect situation to "catch cold," but the show went on, and history has not recorded even one person who got sick. Had social distancing been enforced, the festival site would have sprawled out to Pennsylvania.
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Photo by Elliott Landy.
Was Anyone Worried at Woodstock?

But was anyone worried? Were they all so very very brave, willing to risk death? In all my research into the festival over the years, I'd never heard mention of it even once. So I went to my trusted elders for guidance. Monday, I wrote to Bob Spitz, author of the definitive Woodstock history Barefoot in Babylon, and asked if Hong Kong Flu was a consideration at the festival. He replied right away. 

"The short answer is 'no'. But I have no idea what you are referring to."

Festival founder and organizer Michael Lang, right, with site manager Stanley Goldstein. Photo by Elliott Landy.
No idea, as in none at all?

Just to make sure, I drove all the way to Woodstock (the town, not the festival) to get my prepaid copy of his book at Golden Notebook on Tinker Street, which was offering face-covered, socially distant curbside pickup service. I asked that the book be sterilized, and that all references to sex, marijuana and LSD be edited out, but they did not offer that service.

The topic is not listed in the index; it goes right from "Holtzman, Jac" to "Hooker, John Lee," without mention of Hong Kong, or Taiwan or Japan or the flu or anything.

So then I went right to the top, and contacted Michael Lang, who against all odds, dreamed up, founded and pulled off the festival. He emailed me and said, "It was not an issue then."

Growing more perplexed, thought I would ask an artist. They're perceptive. My go-to was Elliott Landy, the primary photographer who documented the event from the stage, and backstage. He is our collective visual memory of the event. Almost every photo you see of the concert was taken by him. Elliott knows me from my horoscope column.

Elliott wrote back an hour later. "You should know that neither my wife, who was there, nor I, ever heard of it at Woodstock."

I consider professional photographers to be among the most situationally aware people I've ever met. They pay attention to everyone and everything. Elliott was in personal contact with the organizers, and mingling with rock stars and their managers all weekend. He would have noted concerns about a deadly pandemic. Never heard of it. Hmmm. Seems nobody had.

So Jerry Garcia wasn't demanding you cover your face with a rag? Janis Joplin wasn't telling her bass player to back off and not breathe so much? Melanie wasn't insisting that you stay home and save lives? Pete Townshend wasn't The Boy in the Plastic Bubble? Grace Slick didn't want you to stuff a sock in your mouth? There were no plexiglass dividers in the hospitality tent? No influenza crisis area staffed by the Hog Farm? No electric guitar sanitizing stations? How the heck did everyone survive?
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"Preventing" the spread of a virus on San Francisco's Dolores Park. Photo by Noah Berger.
Pandemics Yesterday and Today

Despite current claims that we are experiencing The Very Worst Thing Ever, Hong Kong Flu was a significant global pandemic, as Covid is claimed to be. It was a problem beginning in July 1968, and would presumably be a serious problem in late August 1969, as influenzas come in waves. They're also spread by droplets, as the "novel coronavirus" is said to be. Respiratory viruses are also believed to be spread by aerosols (dry particles), as Covid is believed to be. To my thinking, it would seem they are directly comparable.

New York Times headline from December 1968, about five months into the Hong Kong Flu pandemic that would kill 100,000 Americans and 1,000,000 people around the world.
In 1969, nearly all grandparents remembered the "Spanish Flu" outbreak of 1918, which killed an estimated 675,000 Americans in a much smaller United States, including many young people. The 1957-58 "Asian Flu" pandemic of H2N2 influenza-A was in the living memory of everyone at the festival. That killed between 70,000 and 116,000 Americans in a country about half the population as today's -- so for statistical comparison to today, we can double the death toll.

The concept of an "influenza" outbreak should have been deeply troubling. Yet as if nothing was going on, there were all those kids and young adults packed in together, commingled with mud, passing joints around, sharing beers and sandwiches and cans of Coke, many of them naked and hugging and kissing and having sex and even breathing the same air. Nobody even washed their hands, much less sang Happy Birthday twice while doing so.

Did anyone catch the flu? Does know or anyone care? If they did, do they even remember?

Where the comparisons end, though, is that in 2020, world war was declared against a presumed virus, based on sketchy statistical death projections promising millions of bodies. Every school system, college and university was shut down. Every sports league has been shut down. Broadway went dark, as did nearly every theater in the world. Restaurants, bars, social haunts, shopping malls, movie theaters and brothels -- all closed. Every 24-hour dive and diner from Portland, Maine to Portland Oregon, closed. And every concert, music festival and tour has been canceled. As far as I can tell, you can't even have band practice many places.
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Photo by Elliott Landy.
The Megadeath Threat (and You Could Be a Silent Killer)

The initial estimate, first proposed by a Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London (later fired for violating social distancing rules), proposed that 70% of the world could get the virus, with millions dead. This was soon after repeated by Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, which gave it real traction in the news. No serious doubts about these numbers were expressed. The worst-case scenario was sold and purchased at full retail value; more like extortionist rates.

In response to the threat of tens of millions of corpses, a series of stock market crashes in March took out 30% of the market's value in advance of any problem manifesting in the United States. Right before Earth Day in late April, the price of oil fell below zero to about minus $30 a barrel due to lack of demand (the one bright spot in this mess).

Part of what led to the lockdowns was that people were informed they could be a superspreader. Yes, it could be you. Just like that lady in Korea who almost killed her entire church! The lawyer in New Rochelle who almost killed the whole synagogue! Anyone at all could become Smackwater Jack and shoot down the congregation -- and not even know they were doing it. The new church shooter doesn't need a gun, and could be you.

Kids were, and still are, being told they can kill their grandparents (or anyone) with a hug. There was a lot of hugging going on at Woodstock. This current paranoia is on the level usually requiring hospitalization and heavy medication, but it became normal and in essence mandatory to think this way. Just like nobody noticed the Hong Kong Flu at Woodstock,

What was the one certain difference between then and now? What could be behind such an astronomically different responses to what was essentially the same thing? How about: in the 1960s, people were not so spooked by one another. In 2020, people acted exactly how they had been conditioned to become: terrified of everything. And how did that happen?
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Will Farrell in one of the "Device Free Dinner" videos.
That Was Then. This Is Now.

Nobody at Woodstock had Instagram, Twitter and Facebook going off every 20 seconds, reminding them of the alleged body count and "case" count ticking up by the second, all but demanding that they be terrified and if not you're insane.

There were no 24-hour cable news networks committed to driving up ratings, delivered to living rooms and phones, ensuring that everyone panic. Those news reports running around the clock, competing with one another, must present this as the greatest horror movie ever to come to life, or else what's the "news"? Another boring pandemic just like the last one everyone forgot about?

In the Woodstock era, people were still aware of being physical beings, physically responsive to one another. They did not wake up and check their news feeds about what to think and feel. They were not electronically processed renditions of themselves, driven out of body by over-involvement in digital technology, afraid of one another, and mortified of physical existence. Everyone was not a presumed rapist or terrorist.

People were at a festival to have fun and to physically be together because that is what you did; there was nothing else. There was no such thing as doing something "virtually." That was the whole point: to gather, in one place, for real -- and be real; to feel the beauty and strength of being together, at the biggest combined peace sit-in and darshan ceremony in history.

They had real things to worry about, too, such as getting drafted into the Vietnam War and coming home in a body bag or without legs, or having to kill innocent people halfway around the world, and/or being sprayed daily with Agent Orange and dioxin. They were not in Vietnam. That became reason to celebrate. You can only do that when you know you're alive.
Planet Waves
Photo by Elliott Landy.
The Case of the Viral Virus

What happened with the "novel coronavirus" is that the concept of a deadly virus went viral, in the age and medium of viral. It did so not only through droplets or aerosols but far more significantly, by spreading a panic at the speed of light through the extended central nervous system known as the internet. This network is extremely sensitive to fear-based thoughts and ideas. It's a special place where even your oldest friends can turn into shrill assholes when they disagree with you. 

For some reason, animosity, anger and fear are conducted through digital systems much more easily than friendly thoughts or beauty. People talk about the dopamine hit delivered when someone "likes" your post. The truly addictive internet drug is cortisol, the stress hormone, as stress has a way of reaffirming how stressed you're supposed to be and why your anxiety is so important and helpful to the planetary condition.

Initial news reports spreading panic around the clock were rife with images of sickness, death and disaster; of emergency rooms and ambulances; of doctors and nurses either wearing environmental gear or complaining that they didn't have any. These were relentless, horror-inducing and inescapable for anyone connected to the network, which is pretty much everyone, all the time. Troops of disinfectant-wielding soldiers dressed like the band DEVO were seen marching through the streets of every Asian city spraying some unidentified toxic chemical on everyone and everything.

Yet this problem is about far more than the content that is delivered by internet and digital television -- it's about what the communications conduits do to our relationship to ourselves, to one another, and to existence. 

Newspapers deliver the news slowly; they are easy to ignore, and were even then. You must go to them, find a quiet spot, and read reflectively. They are not available everywhere all the time. They do not lurch at you or vibrate in your pocket 100 times a day. The 1960s was the age of Walter Cronkite on Monday to Friday evenings for half an hour (originally, for just 15 minutes). He spoke to you in a calm and reasoned way, and went home. There were no TVs at Woodstock, and barely any telephones. Some newspapers got there, mostly for the purpose of organizers reading about their own festival.
Planet Waves
Nothing says it like art. As a writer, I bow to art. This is from the series, "Social Distancing Aids" by Mike Jantzen. See more of these photos, by the artist, at desiznboom.
Utterly Transformed and Distorted

Many times, I've quoted philosopher Eric McLuhan: "The body is everywhere assaulted by all of our new media, a state which has resulted in deep disorientation of intellect and destabilization of culture throughout the world. In the age of disembodied communication, the meaning and significance and experience of the body is utterly transformed and distorted."

It was into this "utterly transformed and distorted" relationship to our bodies -- cultivated and sustained over decades -- that the concept of the "novel coronavirus" was inserted. It was not merely injected into a communication system. It was broadcast through a communication system that had already transformed people, pushing them further into disembodied experience.

The normally mobbed Spanish Steps in Rome o nMarch 19, as empty as they’ve ever been, as people stayed inside avoiding the coronavirus. Photo by Carl Bildt via Twitter.
That term is a fancy way to say paranoid, disoriented and irrational. Acting as if the reality of the physical world does not matter, or if it does, the only thing real is a pathogen that can kill you and nothing else matters. Acting like a ghoul or zombie. Or a mummy, wrapping one's face in cloth, or a bank robber from the wild west, wearing a bandanna to cover one's face.

Acting as if you have no idea who you are, or what is good for you -- a state which would seem to facilitate instantaneous terror at the least threat, in a world where anything at all may be contaminated with a deadly virus. Anything except the bandanna you leave on the kitchen table.

We saw pictures of Italy: Milan emptied out, looking like the neutron bomb had gone off. The usually-teeming Spanish steps of Rome vacant of any people. Reports of so many deaths they could not bury the bodies.

Then just like that, it was gone. "In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy," said Alberto Zangrillo, the head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in the northern region of Lombardy in a May 31 Reuters interview.

That region was the most seriously affected in Europe, and now we're being told that the virus clinically no longer exists there. Just like last week's viral cartoon or cat playing the glockenspiel. Given that coronaviruses usually take 18 months to burn out, that's a strange development.

Italy, so recently the horrifying epicenter of the crisis, has also rolled back its death toll, saying that 88% of those people had other illnesses and would have died anyway. In Sweden, which did not lock down, only 7% of the population tests positive for antibodies. In New York City, which did lock down, 20% of the population tested positive for antibodies. In England, so few people are "infected" that that there may not be enough "infection" to test a vaccine.

This has not stopped England from banning visitors to one's home, in effect, prohibiting sex with anyone but one's live-in or spouse.

And as if that were not over the top enough, how about this advice from Harvard: avoiding kissing, showering before and after sex, and even wearing masks while having sex. "Abstinence and masturbation were ranked as ‘low risk' sexual activities, while sex with people within a household, and sex with people from other households were ranked as ‘high risk' activities."

In their study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers, led by Dr. Jack Turban, wrote: "For some patients, complete abstinence from in-person sexual activity is not an achievable goal. In these situations, having sex with persons with whom they are self-quarantining is the safest approach." Is it a surprise that the study was partly funded by Gilaed, a company involved in manufacturing Covid drugs?

It's time to study how this perverse, psychotic insanity passes for helpful or normal. Clearly, we are not in Woodstock anymore.
Planet Waves
Supposedly the world's largest garden gnome along Route 209, on the way back from visiting the Woodstock Festival site on June 2. The gnome is quite large. Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
Making the World More Like it was Already Becoming

At the time the coronavirus novel became a bestseller, the world was already socially distancing -- through "social media." Many were already sitting at restaurant tables texting others rather than conversing. Many were already spending more time on Facebook than with their families and their actual friends. There were public service campaigns featuring celebrities urging people to have device-free dinners. Presumably those ads were necessitated by a lot of devices at the dinner table.

Many people were already stuck at home with few social options, and only the internet to keep them company. Coronavirus rules have basically shoved everyone onto the internet for everything they were not already there for. It is astonishing to think that "going away to college" now consists of sitting in one's bedroom and trying to study. The internet was already a viable way to avoid life experience. Now it is required. Colleges and universities still don't know whether they're opening, and some are considering becoming permanent remote learning institutions.

The physical world is taking on the same isolation. Now, everywhere you go, you see a new plexiglass barrier, "separating" you from someone. Given that viruses can go around things, this is purely symbolic, but it's being accepted without question. Social distancing rules are still in place. There are little stalls and stickers on the floor everywhere. There are one-way aisles in many stores. Everywhere, people's faces are covered and among many, there is a nervous, chilly quality in the air.

People who work with the public say there is a hostility present that reminds me of the callous way people treat one another on Facebook or Twitter. It's a little like people have been transformed into the internet versions of themselves, cloaked by distance, fear and veils.
Planet Waves
In actual fact, Singapore and New Zealand are using robo-doggies to enforce social distancing. A device like this also appeared Season 4 of the Netflix series Black Mirror. That one hunted and killed humans.
We are Being Trained by Robotic 'Dogs'

Marshall McLuhan in his analysis of media effects noted that we become like our tools. Our tools are currently robotic. Very nearly every transaction in life is processed through a robot, meaning the artificial intelligence of the internet. We are therefore conditioned to be that way with everything we do.

Those are the mental patterns that we are taking on and emulating. This is usually an unconscious process, which includes adopting computing metaphors for all aspects of life. However, in case you want to be fully woke, some places are using robotic "dogs" to enforce social distancing. We are sure to see more robots doing the policing in the next few years. There are plenty of invisible ones being used.

Marshall's son Eric, who lived through the computer age, noted, "At electric speeds, we, not messages, are sent. It is an old observation that on the phone or on the air you are in more than one place at a time, minus the physical body that you once used to define identity. The cybernaut abandons his body and physical identity and self (including gender) whenever he embarks on each trek into cyberspace. The conditions for disorientation are complete: out of body, out of time, out of space."

We think people were tripping out at Woodstock. In fact, they were all there the whole time, hanging out with the one another, the music and the mud. History has recorded not one single violent incident at that festival. Contrast with the supposed Woodstock revival in 1999 -- the first "Woodstock" of the digital age (and the last ever attempted) -- which was held on a fenced-in former nuclear bomb warplane base, which devolved into looting, rape in the mosh pit, and other hostility and violence.
Planet Waves
Photo by Elliott Landy.
When We Don't Know Who We Are -- And When We Do

The week I'm writing this, the lockdown has degraded into violent protests in many cities across the United States, ostensibly related to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. That, in turn, evoked all the prior incidents of unarmed people of color being killed by the police.

It is easy to see this as the expression of frustration and a response to racial and social injustice. The background anger about the economic situation, which is disproportionally affecting people of color (as is Covid) is obviously present as well. Consider, though, that Marshall McLuhan proposed, "Violence is always a quest for identity."

Identity is the very thing that has been destabilized in the world of digital immersion. It's not that people waltz around saying, "I don't know who I am. I forgot who I am. I need to search for my soul." That would be tremendous progress. Ask any Buddhist monk. Notably, finding oneself was a theme of 1960s spirituality, and you hear nothing about that quest today.

Disembodiment means unconscious loss of identity, and which attempts to find relief in killing people, looting and riots. The police are suffering from the same issue; many are on a rampage of their own. Both white supremacists and Antifa are also enraged, and seeking violent "solutions." Everyone is affected by the digital environment, whether or not they participate directly (and nearly everyone does).

Human contact is perhaps the only thing that could satisfy the quest for identity prior to resorting to violence, so restricting contact with one another -- and in England, making it illegal -- is only going to stoke violent responses to life situations.

The Woodstock Festival, though not specifically planned as such, was a sane and healthy response to the violence and horrors of the Vietnam War. The thought of an equivalent "pandemic" as the one we are in now didn't even cross people's minds at the time. They were not afraid. They were bigger than a pandemic. They knew who they were or were on a quest to find out. People knew they had that option, and they used it intuitively. It was the thing to do.

This year, a war was declared against a "virus." America loves to declare wars: on drugs, on cancer, on terror, on countries and on its own citizens. One way to view the participants of Woodstock was as refugees of America's endless wars.

Now, in our time, the war has come home to the streets, by way of the internet. As Marshall McLuhan noted, "World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation."

"With Covid-19, the virus is delivered physically, but the much greater effects were delivered virtually via social media," Andrew McLuhan, Eric's son and Marshall's grandson, said this week. "We may even be able to eventually say, regarding Covid-19, that not only did the effects precede the cause -- the effect has vastly outgrown any biological cause. That's a first, certainty on this scale."

With love,
Planet Waves
Sign artist Mikey Randels repainting the historical marker at the Woodstock festival site, June 2, 1010, something he does once a year. He said he is a Covid survivor. Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Sunday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, Planet Waves, Inc. Core Community membership: $197/year. Editor & Publisher: Eric F. Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Associate Editor: Amy Elliott. Assistant Editor: Joshua Halinen. News Editor: Spencer Stevens. Client Services: Victoria Emory. Illustrator: Lanvi Nguyen. Finance: Andrew Slater. Archivist: Morgan Francis. Technical Assistants: Cate Ryzhenko, Emily Thing. Proofreading: Jessica Keet. Media Consultant: Andrew McLuhan. Music Director: Daniel Sternstein. Bass and Drums: Daniel Grimsland. Additional Music: Zeljko. Additional Research, Writing and Opinions: Samuel Dean, Yuko Katori, Kirsti Melto, Amanda Painter, Cindy Tice Ragusa and Carol van Strum.

Monthly Horoscopes and Publishing Schedule Notes

Your extended monthly horoscope for June was published on Thursday, May 21. We published your extended monthly horoscope for May on Saturday, April 25. Please note: we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope after the Sun has entered a new sign.
Planet Waves
Monday Morning Horoscope #231 for June 1, 2020 | By Eric Francis Coppolino
Aries (March 20-April 19) — It would serve you well to have as your goal in life to be trusted, and to conduct yourself only in ways that facilitate this. The way to begin is by taking total accountability for your actions, your choices and your feelings. Even then, it's possible to hold accountability for an event that seems to be outside your control. I suggest you go to a position far from the accepted social norm in the Western world — it's someone else's fault if a person slips and falls. To shift away from this is not convenient. It involves taking on liability for what may not be provable as your 'fault'. Yet this is a special exercise, designed to establish where, exactly to draw the line. You can start your analysis from either end: "I'm not responsible for anything," or "I'm potentially responsible for anything." Currently, it would make more sense to take on total accountability and then learn how to rule out certain claims, after carefully observing yourself, anyone else involved, and doing an honest analysis. That's the tricky part. You will not be able to guess, and figuring out where your accountability lies will take time. Get your full Aries reading by Eric here.

The Journey of You and Chiron | A New Reading by Eric Francis

Anyone who has encountered it is curious about Chiron. Planet Waves provides one of the few dependable online sources of information on this unusual planet. For the 10th anniversary Astrology Studio reading, I will be covering Chiron in Aries — a momentous event for all those born under this sign, and of high interest to everyone else. Get instant access to this reading here.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — To the extent that your notion of sexuality is in any way associated with power, now is an excellent time to question that belief. This may include revisiting any event in your life that taught you that others have power over you, or that you are in any way helpless. It may be that certain people are dangerous and that others have at some time harmed you. If you are still affected by those events, you have something to place at the top of your healing agenda. There is, however, something else, which is the idea that sex is always a matter of power and that someone who holds this belief is automatically the weaker party. If we counted the ways this concept is hazardous to your peace of mind, that would take a while. Any idea that places a person inherently into the position of victim is the more serious danger than any physical or emotional threat. The reason is that such a state of mind interferes with the ability to be discerning. One can project danger where there is none, laying the burden onto everyone. This need not be. Get your full Taurus reading by Eric here.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
You can now get instant access to your 2020-21 Taurus Astrology Studio here for just $44. This reading focuses on a professional breakthrough toward the end of the year, and preparing you for this development. Venus retrograde in the spring is preparation. Mars retrograde in the autumn is preparation.

Ultimately this is a spiritual development, yet in reality we are talking about aligning your purpose with action, with a calling, and with an opportunity. Elements of the reading go out to a series of power steps in 2021. Read more.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — You must keep a sense of proportion where certain matters of the past are concerned. Your charts suggest you're being called to address something from your personal history. Rather than considering your ideas about it, or the ways it was encrypted into your experience, first address the most basic facts of the situation. What situations and events led to it? Where did it take place, and how did that come about? Who was aware, before, during and after? It's important to have a wide definition of the circumstances. I would propose that the best use of this astrology is to seek healing. For that, you need to correct your memory of what happened. This will take an unusual degree of honesty, and that will require curiosity. If this has troubled you for a while, it will help if you understand why that is. It may seem to "go without saying," though you definitely want to connect your feelings to your thoughts to your voice. Then listen to yourself, or read what you've written. Get your full Gemini reading by Eric here.

Your 2020-21 Gemini Astrology Studio, The Sacred Space of Self, is now available for instant access. The reading covers Venus retrograde in your sign, Vesta in your sign, Saturn in Aquarius, and the momentous astrology at the end of the year.Thank you for your business and your trust.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Mercury has entered your sign, and will be treading a delicate path these days. So, too, are Venus and Mars. These three planets are integral to how we feel and perceive the world. They address many different state of mind issues. And, interestingly, this week they are all making contact with centaur planets (in various combinations, Chiron, Pholus and Nessus) which suggests many people will be dealing with deep material, and potentially be triggered. For you, Mercury is offering a reminder worth considering: how you frame an issue or a topic will determine how you think of it, and what you think it means. How you describe a problem or seeming problem sets the parameters of whether and how you solve it. For example, some people tend to see every difficulty as presenting a potential opportunity. This is not merely rhetoric; it is an approach to existence. For healing to be real, the challenge most certainly must have the element of opportunity. Otherwise, what is the use? Get your full Cancer reading by Eric here.

You may now pre-order your 2020-21 Cancer Astrology Studio for just $33.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Remember you are bigger than your circumstances, or any life situation, or any problem you may face. The astrological metaphor is that your sign is ruled by the Sun, into which every planet and asteroid, and the entire Kuiper Belt, could disappear without even being noticed. Yet it is odd the ways in which Leo can sometimes embody a sense of littleness. Recognize that this is a choice, often one made out of habit. The whole notion of who and what you think you are is habitual, usually based on past conditioning. We all received negative messages as children, and some received more than their psyche could handle. Among other things, this manifests as a lack of curiosity, and a compromised ability to feel one's potential. You can unravel this. The worst is over, and most of the ways these habits are enforced is by your own choices — and those have roots and origins. Simply said, you don't need to send yourself the negative messages you heard when you were younger. You can be positive, though the short way through the forest is to allow yourself to be curious. Get your full Leo reading by Eric here.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — When you make an assessment of what someone thinks, or what someone means when they say something, it's crucial that you account for your own values. You are in the territory of "we see things as we are." Therefore, be careful about ascribing motives, or reading too much into what you think of as the tone or the timing. If you find yourself getting judgmental, ask yourself why. If you come up with a "reason," test whether it's intellectually or spiritually valid. Given all of the various prevailing conditions of the planets right now, you want to be in a continuous state of inquiry. Current aspects could also have you experiencing bitter distrust of your world and of people generally, and of certain individuals. I suggest you not count your perceptions as being valid, but rather, keep an open mind and ask yourself why you're reacting if you're reacting. There is, however, a deeper question: what is your relationship to pleasure, and the things that give you pleasure? For example, music, or reading books? That, and you need human company, with someone you trust, in person. Get your full Virgo reading by Eric here.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You will need to keep your adult presence this week, and remember you are looked to as an example in all that you do. You may be called upon to make decisions, and you will need to take your time with them rather than acting in a lurch. This does not mean you should be indecisive. You'll need to use your sense of when you have enough information and have sufficiently polled the people whom any decision impacts. There is an art to doing this. That involves seeking the views of others, without getting pushed around or allowing them to persuade you. I have seen that few have any clue how to do this; many think listening to someone means doing what they say, rather than hearing and attempting to comprehend. Listening means listening, and taking responsibility for what you learn. Be cautious of those who try to push a sense of urgency on you, trying to get you to act faster. The first question to ask when presented with ANY decision is, when does this need to be finalized? Get your full Libra reading by Eric here.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Be honest about your desire nature, even if you don't feel it fits your image. If you want to be seen and noticed for something, let that be being real. It usually turns out that those who think of themselves as real can be honest about everything except for sex. You now have a rare moment where transparency is possible, and therefore so too is accountability. This is not all about 'bad things', though this is a good time to come to terms with anything of that nature. The zone where there's the biggest hang-up is not about pain but rather about pleasure. The obsession with pain often involves an avoidance of that which is positive or creative or just fun. So I suggest you take a balanced view, and be real about yourself on all fronts: every version of what has happened to you and how you feel about it; what you have chosen to do and how you feel about it; and who and what you want. Let this be a liberating experience. Get your full Scorpio reading by Eric here.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — To some extent, family messes up everyone. It may be to a greater or lesser degree; the injury or mistrust inflicted may be addressed, or it may fester. One's past, no matter how difficult, may teach cruelty or compassion. Nobody else can dictate for you how to use your personal history, though many will try. Neither is your situation political, which means appropriate to transact anger for public power. (That may be your nemesis.) Keep what is personally yours personal, so you may take care of yourself, heal and grow. That includes sharing your feelings and your experiences in an intentional context, with someone you trust. Meanwhile, if you don't feel safe in your home environment, you have the ability to make a decision about that. You are no longer subject to your circumstances as if you don't have any power. Between the state where you feel unable to choose and the one where you are able to is a change of awareness equivalent to sunrise illuminating the world, revealing your options. Get your full Sagittarius reading by Eric here.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — The kind of stress you've been under is not easy to endure for long. However, you may have noticed that a particularly demanding kind of intensity and pressure has given way to a space where you may choose voluntarily to adjust your awareness, make choices and grow. At the heart of this is an increasing ability to see yourself beyond your physical circumstances, and the most concrete definition of your personal history. You are learning to allow your awareness to expand. At times this seems to take tremendous courage, though it's on the level of the first time you walked to the store alone as a child. To enter your frontier you must leave behind the familiar. Your old ideas do not protect you. Your longstanding concept of reality no longer serves you. It is too small for who you are. Yet to exist in some other reality you would need to see yourself much more elegantly than you do today. Get your full Capricorn reading by Eric here.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You want to be approved. Yet that desire would only come from not approving of yourself, which in turn would lead you to wonder whether someone else could ever do so. Herein we have the paradox of seeking self-approval outside oneself. I suggest you make a list of everything you want approval for, and from whom. Let this be an evaluation of how much of your power you've given to others. Also note the extent to which society is built around the concept of giving power away in this particular form. Most people, before purchasing a product or going to a restaurant, want to read the reviews — none of which assure that you will have a positive or negative experience. It's true that restaurants (and books and plays) depend on reviews, and many good things have been lost to history due to clueless critics. When it comes to something you have personally done or created, or some facet of your character, you cannot outsource that. Ultimately, you must make up your own mind about yourself and what you do. Get your full Aquarius reading by Eric here.

Astrology Studio for Pisces | A New Reading by Eric Francis

This is a momentous time in collective history, and a turning point in your life. As the year develops, most of the movement — including Pisces' ruling planet Jupiter, and the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction — will be pointing into Aquarius, the most sensitive and innermost angle of your chart. I will also cover the retrogrades of Venus and Mars, and the forthcoming Jupiter-Pluto conjunction in your friendship sign Capricorn. Mostly, I will help you orient on your profound journey, and offer guidance how to harmonize with the world at this unusual time. Get instant access to this reading here.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You are passing through some tricky territory for the next week, with Mars in your sign making many aspects, and a lunar eclipse coming up on Friday. However, do not overestimate the danger or personal risks. Rather, do what you can to keep a balanced perspective. That means not getting yourself caught in any hype or controversy, and taking your time evaluating any situation you might meet. Remember you must make up your mind about every issue that personally affects you: that is your privilege and your responsibility. The place to devote most of your loving attention is relationships centered in your home. Pay attention there and do what you can to ease any stress and to facilitate goodwill and healing. As for your endeavors in the seemingly outer world — such as asserting yourself in professional affairs — now is the time to step forward and take some territory. Events may proceed in unexpected ways as the week develops, which can work in your favor — if you remain true to yourself. On a spiritual level and all others, this is the challenge. Get your full Pisces reading by Eric here.

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