Beyond the Reactionary Floorshow

Dear Friend and Reader:

Sometimes I wonder if humanity is not a puppet, subject only to the influences coming from outside. I say this because as we approach the first exact square of Saturn and Pluto, events of recent days are so characteristic of this aspect that it leads me to wonder how, exactly, these things are scripted.

Photo by Eric Francis.

The Saturn-Pluto cycle, which had its last peak in the summer of 2001, is described in Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas as a cycle of crisis and contraction — a time when reactionary movements thrive on fear and narrowness. Fuelled by our anxiety about change and our obsession with clinging to the supposedly little we have, those with an agenda we refuse to look at eat human energy like the cannibal scavengers they are; bless their tortured souls.

We also tend to let the same energy consume us from inside. This of course produces change, but not necessarily of the kind we say we want — progress toward a more pleasant and egalitarian world.

Sunday is the first of three exact squares in this cluster, and this autumn has come with the feeling of a squeeze or the attempt to push things to a head. The confluence of events included the massacre at Fort Hood last week, where a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist opened fire on his peers, killing 13 people and injuring more than 30 others.

The massacre is being used to foster a bunch of new anger and hatred directed toward Muslims, and more justification for why we are in Iraq and Afghanistan at all: there is a jihad movement and it’s out to get us. This, as President Obama considers proposals for exactly what to do with Afghanistan — such as whether and how to increase troop levels. Here is something to consider: he won’t be able to pull the troops out without a wide public consensus that we don’t belong there at all; and that these wars are doing nothing but damaging the world and our own society.

Why is anybody at all surprised that Maj. Hasan took out a couple of guns and shot all those people when he is part of the same military that has killed at least 93,000 Iraqis? This, based on the lie that Saddam Hussein did 9/11 or had the power to blow up the world? Or the lie that we’re in Afghanistan fighting the terrorists who attacked New York, rather than fighting people who simply want us out of their country? And why is it turning out that this event was preventable, much like the Sept. 11 incident that preceded it? The FBI had reportedly intercepted communications between Hassan an Islamic cleric that should at least have given them half a clue that (by their own rules) he needed to be called in for an interview.

Two days after Fort Hood, the House of Representatives passed its version of the health care bill, which included a public option — but which also included a provision banning abortion.

Mourners at the memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas, as seen on CNN Live. Photo by Eric Francis.

This was introduced by Rep. Bartholomew Stupak of Michigan, so it’s called the Stupak Amendment. Bart is a member of the C-Street Coalition, a group of congressional representatives, both Democratic and Republican, who frequent a certain house on C-Street where they get their marching orders from Dominionists, the radical Christian movement with a platform calling for the takeover of government by religion. I had to look this up in Wikipedia for a basic definition:

“Dominion theology is a grouping of theological systems with the common belief that society should be governed exclusively by the law of God as codified in the Bible, to the exclusion of secular law, a view also known as theonomy. The most prominent modern formulation of Dominion Theology is Christian Reconstructionism, founded by R. J. Rushdoony in the 1970s. Reconstructionists themselves use the word Dominionism to refer to their belief that civil government should be controlled by Christians alone and conducted according to Biblical law.”

How very Saturn square Pluto. The whole “pro life” thing might make some sense were it coupled with comprehensive sex education so that unwanted pregnancy might be avoided; and with substantial funding to protect poor young mothers after they give birth; and with a real system to care for fetuses once they’re born as children, if the natural parents can’t take care of them. When you subtract those two factors from the equation but leave in opposition to abortion, the agenda is easier to see for what it is. And when you look at the supposedly holy agenda in the context of the death penalty, the underlying political truth becomes even more obvious. This agenda is not about helping people or protecting anyone; it’s about power and control. And that power and control is being organized and funded by religion, or what passes for the stuff.

Note, at this stage in history it’s actually necessary that, when communicating with the public, I explain that one of the most basic concepts on which the United States of America was founded is the separation of church and state. This is central to the idea that reason and the pursuit of knowledge are what must govern our affairs, and that every person has the right to practice his or her own religion without interference from others.

Not surprisingly, this movement is being used to sustain a philosophy of fear and greed rather than love and generosity, as preached by the long-forgotten founder of the Christian movement, Jesus of Nazareth. I am not a bible scholar but I do know that Jesus healed the sick and fed the poor. We’re real chumps if we think that Christians want to throw the sick and the poor out in the street; by their works you shall know them.

It’s also a baby after it’s born. Right to Life propaganda in rural upstate New York. Photo by Eric Francis.

Part of the problem with the Stupak Amendment is the ban; whatever you personally think of abortion, it happens to be a constitutionally protected right of women to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy. (The rich always have the right of abortion, because they can go somewhere it’s legal and get one. The Roe v Wade case is really about protecting those who are less economically fortunate. So the Stupak amendment discriminates on the basis of income level as well as gender.)

But the Stupak Amendment took an additional step and prohibits anyone on federal aid of any kind from purchasing an insurance policy which covers abortion; which is like saying that if you’re on federal assistance, you lose your right to free speech. Note, this provision has only been passed by the House of Representatives. We don’t know what the Senate version will contain. As for the Stupak Amendment, it’s the thought that counts.

The rest of the problem is that very few people responded or even noticed. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the world’s first out lesbian news anchor, explained the issue to her viewers in clear terms. She was the only commentator that I saw who did not gloss it over; there were probably a few others, but most treated this proposed law pretending it was just something normal that actually has a place in American society; and like it made perfect sense to link it to health care. [By Thursday night, Jon Stewart was onto the issue and got the story right, including stating clearly that a woman’s right to choose is as basic as spleen surgery or any other procedure.]

We live in a time when it’s difficult to see that there’s a higher principle than our own personal beliefs. And we have a lot of people marching around telling us they get their information directly from God, but we rarely subject this to psychological analysis.

I could take you through layer after layer of understanding why this kind of thinking exists: an obsession with controlling women, for example, or the terror that certain individuals feel about having never looked at their shadow material. In truth, that is none of our business. It helps to remember that the purpose of politics is to concentrate wealth and power, usually at the expense of the ethics and principles that it professes to espouse. Most people have no idea how the game is really played, or how personally the consequences can come home. Both the purity campaign and the violence amount to little more than a floorshow that distracts us from the real agenda.

Photo by Eric Francis.

The problem with these Saturn-Pluto aspects is that they are used to capitalize on the baser instincts, fears and ignorance of humanity and basically turn us against our own interests.

A Saturn-Pluto aspect like we are experiencing does not mandate that we retract from progress and turn into our own enemies, but it makes it seem appealing. The more scared someone is, the more fear feels like a refuge; that is, until that false sense of “safety” runs out. It’s easy to shove this stuff down our throats, like sugar, salt and grease, packaged as a delicious hamburger and contaminated with e-coli. We think we love it; we can’t get enough; the price went down to 99 cents. Hurry on in.

There are three other aspects on the radar that we need to be tracking. Next up is movement in the Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune configuration in Aquarius. This setup, which reaches another peak in December, is about waking up from the delusions we use to help us survive and those that are pounded into us by advertising — such as Pepsi leading directly to sex and a Chase credit card leading to a wealthy, generous husband. It’s about seeing through the bullshit we call spirituality and translating our personal growth into awareness and action on the level of civic involvement. Yet we live in a time when the concept of a common good is considered socialism. In fact it is the purpose of society itself. Scarcely one of us could survive in the woods for a week.

How do we think we look as perceived through the eyes of others? How does our notion of their image of us affect who we think we are? That’s the theme of the upcoming Mars retrograde in Leo. The astrological equation is Mars (ruler of Aries) in Leo (individuality) opposite Aquarius (the sign of groups). Photo by Eric Francis / Book of Blue.

I recognize that part of the problem is that the moment we pull our heads out of the sand, the world looks like it’s in pretty dismal shape. Yet the fear and sense of futility are precisely the emotions we need to confront. Those are bits of our personal shadow material that adds up to an environment where reactionary politics and stealing from those who have the least seem to make perfect sense.

Next up after that is Mars retrograde in Leo. Mars is retrograde every two years, and this one is about understanding our relationship to everything that is larger than us. Mars and Leo both have strong individualistic energy; put that opposite Aquarius and the many planets currently working through that sign and we have a series of encounters with the larger movements of our culture, which shape and condition us as individuals.

The retrograde says we look inside for the truth of how and why we respond the ways that we do; then maybe we will recognize that we’re all in this together. What exactly are we looking inside for? Hmmm, how about what’s the root of all this paralysis we take for granted?

Last on the radar is the conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus in the first degree of Aries. While this happens in the spring, in truth it’s happening now. Like any aspect, this one can go several ways, but either way it represents a kind of populist explosion. Maybe it’s going to be about peace and love and maybe it’s going to be the biggest Klan rally in history. Maybe we will wake up to the fact that whether we admit it or not, we are part of something larger than ourselves and that something is part of us.

Whatever we may see on the news, whatever may be going on with the stock market or in the streets, for each of us it’s going to come down to a personal choice.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

Lou Dobbs Was CEO of

The comings and goings of 24-hour cable news celebs and their constant ratings wars and personality clashes don’t generally pass muster for a Planet Waves story.

CNN anchor Lou Dobbs. Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/AP.

But then you run across information like this from The New York Times: “Mr. Dobbs quit CNN once before, in 1999. […] He became the chief executive of, an astronomy news source, but returned to the network two years later.”

That would be Lou Dobbs, Mr. Independent himself, CNN’s [now former] quirky, outspoken, so xenophobic it’s kind of funny news anchor, who quit the network this week. He had recently clashed with management over some of his remarks — such as giving credence to those who questioned President Obama’s citizenship, for example. [Actually, it was John McCain who was born in Panama, outside the Canal Zone in the city of Colon, and who is not, in fact, a natural born citizen.]

But I mean, there might be foreigners out there. Really, really weird ones who want our jobs and who don’t have to worry about any kind of fence keeping them out.

“Well, space has been a lifelong interest,” he said in 2000 during an online interview and chat with the site. “From building rockets at the age of 10 or 11 — building rockets from scratch and trying to make them work, which we did succeed in doing on rare occasions — and a lifelong interest in astronomy and the space program itself.”

There’s some pretty interesting bits in that interview. Such as Dobbs and his wife “volunteered for the civilians in space program back in 1983,” and his prediction that a manned mission to Mars was realistic within five to 10 years if advances in propulsion were made, though he offered a more sober estimate of 20 to 30 years. Then there’s his thoughtful response to a questioner who asked about the likelihood of life elsewhere in the cosmos:

On the right side of the wheel, we see Dobbs’ extremely rare triple conjunction of Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron; the last time it happened and one of the few times in recorded history that it’s ever happened.

“The possibility of life in the universe, at least statistically, one would have to believe is great. In terms of intelligent life, also is significant. The possibility is fascinating and it’s reasonable for us to conduct a search that would extend as far into the universe as possible,” Dobbs replied. “I do think it is a little unrealistic for us to expect alien life, should it exist, to span the cosmos, identify us, and then for us to expect a communication. I think it’s far more realistic that we attempt in the search to meet halfway — extending our own reach as far as possible — the heavens.”

But not Mexico.

I just had to check his astrology. He actually is a crusader for social justice, born during an extremely rare conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune in Libra (along with his natal Sun) — it happened once in the 20th century and if memory serves, there’s not another one prior for hundreds of years. We are currently in a similar conjunction now, in Aquarius.

The social crusade part comes specifically from the Jupiter-Chiron contact; his spiritual piece comes from Chiron-Neptune. Yes, he can be delusional on a fairly grand scale (Sun-Neptune) and exaggerate (Sun-Jupiter) but he makes a good show out of it and is willing to take his lumps. He’s one of those people that no matter how off-base he seems, you know he’s sincere — not running an outside agenda. Frankly, he has about as much of a chance at making it at Fox News as Amy Goodman.

Guaranteed, he will be back doing something interesting. Dobbs also has an eminently practical Taurus Moon, which lends itself well to a crusading dreamer.

Dobbs made his name on cable TV covering business news, and in his 2000 interview supported the idea of expanding private space industry as well as continued government funding of a space program. Now that he’s departed CNN and his next venture has yet to be announced (the Fox network has denied reports he’s in talks with them about joining their financial news lineup), it will be interesting to see if his passion for space might surface once again. Hopefully he will get to meet our “alien” counterparts — I am sure that would get him a reprise on CNN.

This just in — The Onion today is reporting that Dobbs was deported back to Mexico after living illegally in the United States for 48 years.

Dreamtime May Be The Brain’s Cup of Coffee

The first human ancestor to experience a dream was probably also the first to try and interpret what the nighttime vision meant, asking themselves, “What’s my brain trying to tell me?” Well, okay, maybe they didn’t know about their brain. But dreams are one of the great ongoing sources of mystery and inspiration for humanity.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just your brain doing yoga. Photo by Eric Francis.

Now a Harvard researcher is positing that the brain’s not trying to tell you anything by dreaming — it’s trying to get itself ready for work.

According to an article at, a recent study by psychiatrist J. Allan Hobson determined that the purpose of dreams is “physiological rather than psychological. During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep the brain is activated and ‘warming its circuits’ and is anticipating the sights, sounds and emotions of the waking state.”

So the fact you found yourself walking into the office naked, or running through your high school trying to get to a classroom you can never find before the bell rings, could just be the brain’s equivalent of starting the car on a cold morning and letting it sit for a while. Except, of course, for those times when dreams blow you away with their meaning.

The article said Hobson equated this brain workout to jogging: “The body does not remember every step of a jog, but it knows it has exercised, and in the same way we do not remember many of our dreams, but our minds have been tuned for conscious awareness.”

Dreams happen during REM sleep, which can be measured by instruments that read brainwaves. The content and purpose of dreams, however, have been the subject of intense speculation and study over the centuries. Even though he’s found a physiological explanation for why we dream, though, Hobson does not discount a possible psychological purpose, as well.

“Dr. Hobson finds support in lucid dreaming for his argument for dreams as a kind of physiological brain exercise,” reported. “A study co-authored by Hobson and published in the September issue of the journal Sleep reported that elements of both REM and waking were apparent in lucid dreaming, especially in the frontal areas that are quiet during normal dreams. According to Hobson, this suggests there are two systems, which can be running at the same time.”

World Weather Roundup

A reminder that hurricane season extends well into the fall, Hurricane Ida savaged parts of Central America at the start of the week. Angola Press reported on Tuesday that 130 people died in El Salvador as a result of the storm, which hit the country on Monday and caused widespread flooding and mudslides. More than 130,000 people had evacuated their homes in an attempt to flee the hardest-hit areas. Ida also left a swath of wreckage in its wake as it passed across Nicaragua late last week.

A boy walks past an array of makeshift houses damaged by Typhoon Mirinae in Taytay, Rizal province, east of Manila, Philippines. Photo: EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN.

Ida subsequently was downgraded to a tropical storm and hit the Gulf Coast late in the week,

WikiNews reported this week that parts of Scotland also endured heavy flooding following intense downpours. Worst hit were Aberdeenshire, Arbroath, Tayside, and Grampian, with “Arbroath is being described as virtually cut off, with major routes including the main railway line to Aberdeen disrupted.”

Two weeks of heavy rains also caused widespread flooding in Kenya, causing a mudslide that killed one girl and prompting authorities to order hundreds of residents in other areas to evacuate their homes in case more mudslides occurred, reports.

According to Radio New Zealand International, the island nation of Tonga recorded a 5.9-magnitude earthquake on Nov. 2 — just five weeks after a huge 8.0-magnitude quake sent a tsunami crashing into the Tongan island of Niuatoputapu. The Nov. 2 quake was centered more than 350 kilometers north of the island of Vava’u. No damage or injuries were reported.

And the month started off with Typhoon Mirinae slamming into the Philippines, killing more than a dozen people. Photos of the aftermath can be found at Monsters & Critics.




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, November 13, 2009, #792 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Awakenings, Gradual and Spontaneous

Dear Friend and Reader:

This weekend, Saturn and Pluto align in the first of three exact square aspects (from Libra to Capricorn). We’re seeing this crash through the news — for example, last week’s Fort Hood massacre and its aftermath. This is the first major point of awakening in the United States wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then there’s the long overdue battle over health care in the United States. There are equally profound changes developing for each of us individually. They may be arriving in the form of challenges; reassessments; or the kind of system breakdown-rebuild that is characteristic of Saturn-Pluto aspects.

While this is happening, beware of an aspect developing in the background (and which has been cooking all year), which is the conjunction of Chiron and Neptune in Aquarius. If you want to know what this is about, make a list of the ways that our society lives on denial. Do you really want to know where your hamburger comes from? Are you sure you want to know what’s in your flu vaccine? Are you really happy with how your friends or partner treat you? Everything developing in the planets right now favors awakening from denial and seeing your life for what it is. After careful assessment, you may even decide it was better than you thought. And you will undoubtedly see where there is room for improvement.

Closer on the horizon is the Scorpio New Moon, which is exact Monday at 7:14 pm. We’ve heard many times how the veil between the worlds is thinnest when the Sun is in Scorpio; this is the peak of that energy, when the veils that separate us from the truth will fall away, at least for a moment.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Many people are getting the message that it’s time to break out of the monogamous shell. Clearly this is not for everyone, but it’s a viable option for more people than attend polyamory conferences. The big excuse — that there’s no way one’s partner would go for it — may be obviated by the profound changes that any partner or potential partner in your life is currently going through. You’re changing and so are they. We all know that the certified relationship model does not work for most people; one way we can tell is the high rate of misery and failure in our relationships. We try to resolve this by cycling through new people; but really the issue is more about the nearly-impossible-to-follow rules we try to play by. Be brave and lead the way.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
It’s time to do that Taurus thing again and get out of your head. One of the odd miracles of your sign is that yours is simultaneously the most physical of the 12 and also the one most likely to get trapped upstairs. You have options at the moment, and your mind will come in handy as far as determining what is healthy and what is not; what you actually want and what you don’t. Notice when you’re getting mixed up in a process of rationalizing. If you’re having conversations with people who are not there, call them and work it out in real life. This will give you permission to explore the exceptionally interesting opportunities in your environment. Stick to who or what you actually want and you will be perfectly safe.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Mercury (planet Gemini) changes signs again, from Scorpio to Sagittarius. Look for a mirror effect: people will say what you’re thinking, and you will say what you think they’re thinking; even if you’re right, it will more likely be about what’s on your mind. Have fun with this; it’s a form of harmony, but with enough tension in the equation to keep things interesting. For you, it’s playful astrology mixed in with lots of simmering, passionate, verging on dangerous astrology. Playful plus dangerous equals kinky, which is another way of saying being experimental with desires you don’t usually talk about. Start by talking about what you want or need, and seeing if, by chance, this is not mirrored perfectly in someone supposedly outside yourself.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
I’ve been in a long email correspondence with one of the world’s leading radical feminists; or at least she was when feminism was something that had a voice in society. What I’ve discovered is that she wandered off into the desert of denying pleasure; and worse, of denying that sexual reality is an influence in every other aspect of reality. At the moment you are poised for a sexual awakening that feels like thunder and lightning on a hot summer night — the kind of night when you want to leave the windows open despite the pouring rain. Or, more likely, run naked in a field, even if that means taking the risk of getting hit by lightning. That’s the spirit.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
The Scorpio New Moon takes place in one of the most sensitive areas of your chart, and you may find yourself on an emotional ride. You can make this easier if you notice when you’re feeling someone else’s feelings and when you’re experiencing your own. Who is that someone else? Your mother comes to mind. She seems to have a lot to say lately, on that internal level where parents always end up. Who else? The younger person you were, years ago, back when you didn’t realize you were in fact young. Her message to you goes something like this: remember that everyone feels old, because we’ve never been older than we are today. This logic also says you were just as old then as you are now. It’s a matter of perception. Young is what young does.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
You’re discovering that the structures, rules and policies you maintain are in the way of actually existing. When it comes time to renovate, it’s necessary to determine which walls are load-bearing and which are simply dividing space. This is a metaphor for certain structures in your life. A few actually hold up the framework of your existence, others merely compartmentalize. One of the compartments involves money, and how you think about it. Part of why you struggle in this area of life is that as a child you were denied the space to dream. As an adult this developed into an obsession with practicality, which as you know isn’t always so practical. This particular wall is not actually holding up the house. It’s just getting in the way.

Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)
You have reached a moment where you cannot deny your emotional reality, and part of that reality is saying that the present must be different than the past. This holds logically: the past is over, but if that is so, why does it have so much influence? The reason is that instead of burning our karma, we pile it up like cordwood. That, or the whole forest catches fire. This is a karmic moment for you, where you come to a revelation such as, “I am a different person than my family expected me to be,” or some form of “I’ve outgrown my life and it’s time for something new.” But as I’ve said before, you don’t need to make this change all at once; whatever you do, or whatever you attempt, the change will come in distinct phases; this is phase one: awakening.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
All of the interesting astrology this weekend involves your sign and your planets, Mars and Pluto. Some of it is so enormous it’s spinning the world on its finger. Some of it is so personal that you feel like you’re in a burning building, or more accurately, like there’s a fire burning in your belly. Like most civilized people, you wonder if civilization would not come crashing down if you acted on your deepest needs and urges. The question is, how intellectual do you want to make this conversation? You can do your usual thing of analyzing till the passion ceases to exist (or at least until it’s safely contained); or you can take a ride on the Scorpio New Moon and be exactly the person that you are.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22)
If you’ve been keeping any secrets from yourself, they are about to burst into your awareness with a passion. If you’ve been feeling lost, murky or depressed, you’re about to wake up, and wake up rather suddenly. If you’ve been feeling bored, get ready to feel extremely curious. You will benefit from encouraging yourself to be extra passionate or expressive, to the point of what may even feel like lewd; that’s the hot zone. This is the moment when you discover how ridiculous it is to maintain an image. You’ve been feeling held down because you’re holding so much inside, and that includes what you cannot admit in polite company. So get yourself into some inappropriate company as soon as possible, and check your judgments at the door.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Most people would say it’s inappropriate to view anyone as a potential sexual liaison, but I would say it’s more in touch with your authentic nature. Said another way, you’re someone for whom the line between friend and lover is more of a gray area, and now is the time to explore this potential. Your world will not unravel in a storm of anarchy and chaos. You will not go on a crime spree or become a prostitute. If you draw criticism, it’s all about envy. The truth is, the world is awash in pheromone communication, the level of awareness where we’re all sizing one another up all the time. Take a moment and explore how good it feels to be honest about this.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
This is a beautiful time for a crisis of faith. While you’re in there, consider what, exactly, you feel moved to have faith in. We usually associate faith with God. Yet we do so with no tangible concept of what God is, which gives us a foggy concept of what faith is about. Your current situation is more personal, or needs to be. You’re not being called upon to have faith in something outside yourself, but it’s not strictly about you, either. What you are looking for is an intersection where your purpose connects to a larger purpose; where faith in yourself is akin to faith in a creative force that is at once contained within you and greater than you.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
In your personal mythology of relationship there is the partner you want, and the partner you want to be. Both are undergoing a revolution. It’s possible that someone currently active in your life is going along with this wave of progress, and it’s possible you’re figuring out that you need to move on. Either way, there remains the fact that your notion of what a relationship is and what it is for are evolving rapidly. This is so fundamental to your identity and sense of belonging on the planet that I suggest you honor it with every cell in your being. The trajectory of your life does not follow any fairy tale you were read as a child, or the disaster that your parents’ life may have been.

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