Cause and Effect are Never Separate

Dear Friend and Reader:

Yesterday once again the world was greeted by a mass shooting. This one happened in Paris, a place free from serious terrorist attacks for more than 50 years. Tweets and therefore news reports rippled out within minutes of the incident. It became a global event, which I will define as spreading in a very short time to every continent including the laboratories in Antarctica (where people spend a lot of time on the Internet).

Human contact at Place de la Republique Wednesday night, where crowds gathered in support of the slain journalists and in declaration of freedom from fear. Photo by Danielle Voirin.

Underneath the perceptible story of what happened — a shooting by Islamic militants at a satire newspaper that made fun of everyone, including Islamic militants — there is the invisible part of the story.

That is how each of us must cope with being exposed to this event, miles away, with no real ability to respond in a meaningful way.

When other living creatures are in distress, the natural response of sane, humane people is to take action, to do something to avert the danger. But we’re dangling out on the end of the line here on the Internet, far from Paris, with exceedingly few ways to take action.

The energy shoots across the wires, through the satellites, across fiberoptic networks, the 3G and 4G networks, wifi and Bluetooth, runs into your central nervous system and hits a kind of dam. There’s no place for the energy to go; no intuitive way to respond. That is the helpless feeling you get when news like this happens. It’s that sense of psychic and emotional overload that’s so difficult to describe, and so challenging for sensitive people. [The Onion once did an excellent parody of this right after 9/11.]

In Paris, people did something healthy, and something that they do as part of their culture. Tens of thousands of Parisians left their houses and poured into the streets, gathering at Place de la Republique. This was ostensibly a political gesture in support of free speech and to inform the shooters and their sponsors that “we’re not afraid.”

Really, it was an opportunity for mass grieving, and to personally witness that other people felt something similar. It was a way to respond, in body; to make eye contact; to feel the warmth of humanity, even under duress on a cold night.

Personally, I responded by contacting Danielle Voirin, a longtime photographer and designer for Planet Waves, who lives in the neighborhood where the incident happened. I did what I’m trained to as an editor — ask her if she would take an assignment and come back with some photos. She said yes, and through the day I had contact with her, as her commentaries and pictures came in. This is part of why I am a writer and editor — so that I have a productive way to respond. When something happens, I ask myself: who do I trust, who is close to the scene?

Parisians at Place de la Republique Wednesday night. Rallies and protests are just something people in Paris like to do. Photo by Danielle Voirin.

I was confident of the result I would get, which was warm, beautiful images that told the story from the viewpoint of an artist. They would come in unfiltered by network censors or international desk editors, shorn entirely of violence and flashing red lights. No police uniforms or emergency vehicles. No need for press ID.

My plan was to send them out to you, which is what I did (and am doing here). The transaction involved spreading good vibes and cultivating a particular effect that I want to create: “I know someone who has contact with a person they trust close to the scene, and this is what they see.” That in turn translates to something recognizably real rather than abstract.

The subtext of all of this is trust. Instead of news cameras and reporters at the scene on the far end of the line, you got an artist. Artists have a special role in our media-obsessed society. They process their perceptions in a way that includes emotion, aesthetics, thought and a measure of transformation. There is human involvement and contact at every step; we see the expressions on human faces.

She wrote, “Was at Place de la Republique. Everyone is out. It’s a very special vibe. I felt like I saw all the characters in my neighborhood, everyone seemed familiar, in a soft wave of people going towards the square. They chanted, ‘nous sommes tous Charlie!’ and ‘liberté d’expression!’ mostly. And there’s the ‘not afraid’ signs, which were incredible.”

That seems to be the response or effect that manifested. One Planet Waves reader just commented, “Thank you for sharing these photos of people coming together to show their desire to stand against ignorance, prejudice, fundamentalism and violence. My first feeling was gratitude that the people there had the courage to listen to their hearts and move their bodies to come to union with others.

Did we miss some prophecy (or intelligence report) that we were supposed to see? Wednesday’s attack was a massive failure of French, American and NATO intelligence, but it was a lot more than that. CNN screen shot from Don Lemon’s program Weds. night.

“Profoundly powerful and heartening. And, also a deep knowing that there is fear in the face of barbarism and authoritarian control being exerted upon our natural creativity. I am writing this post mostly to say that rather than fighting fear or saying we don’t feel it, it might be more useful to recognize that fear will always be present in the face of the unknown and expanding cosmic consciousness. Courage — heart.”

This is not the norm, however. This is not generally how people respond to media. Usually the end result is much more frustrating. Creating this effect is why I’ve chosen to become the media rather than merely a consumer of it.

However, what nobody is saying about this incident is how we’re supposed to respond to all the painful, frustrating images — those of us on the flesh, blood and brains end of the global electronic nervous system.

Books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television (in approximately that order) and now the Internet have woven the planet with an ever-more intricate electronic web. This network extends the senses and the human central nervous system out to anyplace something might happen — usually something painful.

We have this idea that television brings the scene to us. What it really does is drag you to the scene. Or said another way, it rips your eyes out of your head and brings them to the scene, and pumps the data into your brain. That’s one reason why it’s so exhausting. There are others, one of which is the inability to take evasive action; TV comes with the feeling of paralysis so inherent to its existence that nobody notices.

A theme of the protests was We Are Not Afraid. I thought this was a refreshing change from the usual “We Are Terrified And Getting Revenge” theme we see so often in the United States. Photo by Danielle Voirin.

And finally, most media weight the visual sense more heavily — especially TV and Internet. This creates a distortion, which depletes energy.

But mostly, we have to process all this pain through sensory extensions that are not actually in our DNA or natural biological structure, and this is very difficult.

I believe it’s so difficult that we really need to pause and consider how media affect, influence and transform us. That’s more than a boycott, such as refusing to watch TV or read the newspaper. The whole society is being influenced, so you get much of the effect whether you watch TV or not. It percolates through many other aspects of society. (You still may decide you’re happier without it.)

This extended central nervous system is so powerful, some guys with automatic weapons, a shotgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher showed up at the offices of a French satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo yesterday and killed 12 people. These included cartoonists, editors, a guest, a bodyguard and a cop who was near the escape path of the killers.

That was their obviously insane choice for how to respond to cartoons making fun of the prophet Mohammed. No need for confusion here — they were responding to something on the printed page, not by writing a letter but with a well-orchestrated shooting spree. They were allegedly representatives of some larger organization or viewpoint that sponsors this kind of ideology.

Let’s consider that version of events, which is what I call the ‘standard narrative’. Muslim radicals go on various rampages, killing people. Cartoonists responded with commentary, making fun of religious extremism. Radicals responded first with firebomb (in 2011) and then with mass murder. Because the target of the attack was a newspaper office, people have risen up in favor of free expression, which is, as the French president said, a cornerstone of the republic itself.

Charlie Hebdo reveled in the offensive. In this cartoon, on the cover of the magazine, burka-clad women are staging a protest. The line above says, “Sex slaves of Boko Haram are outraged.” The quote says, “Don’t touch our children!”

So simple an adult could understand it.

It’s not so simple that a child could understand it. Most kids would wonder how any of that makes sense. We should be wondering the same thing.

The chart for the incident is not so simple. After checking a diversity of sources, I am pretty sure I have the time down to within five minutes, at 11:30 am local time Paris. Ten minutes in either direction does not change much, so we have a workable chart — confirmed, of course, by the chart itself.

The idea of using astrology is to get beneath the standard narrative. My first question for any chart like this is “who did it?”

Additionally, I always want to know the exact history of the weapons that were used, which would tell you almost everything you need to know, and who actually trained the militants (who were obviously well-prepared professionals rather than amateurs or random nut cases).

There are two trends in contemporary thought. One is to eschew “conspiracy theories.” The other is to assume everything is a false-flag attack — that is, that someone other than the known perpetrator was behind it, for some covert political purpose, such as to start a war or instigate a backlash against civil liberties.

When you look at this chart, as with many charts, it points back to the government as the sponsor. (Yes, I am getting sick of this coming up as a theme — I get the message, thank you.)

This chart is rather bold about it. It has Pisces rising; the ascendant ruler, Jupiter, points to the nature of the question and the apparent description of the perpetrator. Sagittarius is on the midheaven, which begins the 10th house, the one associated with the government. That too points to Jupiter. With just those facts, it verges on an open-and-shut case. This was some form of government-sponsored terrorism, though this can have many meanings.

That’s different from the standard narrative, the one about the bad guys against the good guys, with clear lines of good and bad. In this chart, we see from studying the midheaven that the government appears to be out of control (Pholus, the centaur of the runaway reaction, conjunct Ixion, an outer planet that says no morals whatsoever and anyone is capable of anything). Pholus and Ixion are in a long conjunction and keep showing up prominently in charts for this kind of event. Pholus seems to be associated with mass death incidents.

The story we’re being told by the media is simple; the story that this chart tells is extraordinarily complex, and there are no clear sides, no clear winners or losers. But there is a lot that’s concealed from view.

We can look a little deeper. The chart has some features you would expect for an ideology-driven terrorist attack. For example, there is a strong 9th house, the house associated with religion.

This chart has Sagittarius there, the sign associated with religion. There are two points associated with government and politics there on the cusp of the 9th house — Saturn, and the asteroid Pallas. (That gives them the full influence of being IN the 9th house.) If there is some ideology here, it’s very well organized and even legalistic. Whatever was driving this event involved strategy (Pallas) but whatever that was, it had the feeling of a prophecy (Sagittarius 9th house).

To emphasize that point, we have the Sun in Capricorn (the planet of the king, in the sign of government) in the 11th house — right out in the open. That too looks rather official and organized. It also looks public and friendly. Then again Vesta is in the scene, which shows up in a good few charts where people are sacrificed for the cause. One viable reading of this chart is that the Charlie Hebdo editing team was, basically, sacrificed for a larger agenda. But who exactly did the sacrificing? Was it just the terrorists?

The government could have easily protected them. That is the main problem with the scenario as we have it. Of course, an alternate to that theory is that the French government had their heads in the sand.

The government is your friend — except for the bit about how the ruler of Capricorn, Saturn, is the very thing embodying religious ideology (Saturn in the 9th in Sagittarius). This says a few things, among them that the government itself is driven by religious ideology (it surely is, in the United States), and that there is some mix and mash going on between the perps and the cops.

At minimum, what happened was a massive failure of French intelligence, and probably American and NATO as well. The Charlie Hebdo office was the single most likely soft target in France to be hit by terrorists; it had previously been bombed in 2011.

Memorial at Place de la Republique. Photo by Danielle Voirin.

There was a fatwa on the editor — like a mob contract for his head. He had a security detail. It would have been a no-brainer to set a perimeter around the place, or move the office to a more secure location.

From what I understand, this event is being considered a stunning wakeup call for European governments about the Islamist problem they have.

These are governments that have done relatively little to stop this kind of threat, with the added problem of permeable borders (there really are no more borders within Europe). But while true on one level, this is still a surface layer of the issue.

To complicate matters, looking into the 12th house, that den of secrets, subversive motives and conspiracies, there’s a cluster of planets — Mars, Nessus, Neptune and Chiron. If this chart is a three-ring circus, the 12th is the ring that’s surrounded by a veil, with so many distractions next to it you don’t notice anything is behind the curtain. Or maybe you can see movement in there but you don’t know who it is. It’s almost like shuffling up the plot of several Tom Clancy novels and trying to follow it as one story.

Here is the shared problem with the false-flag, conspiracy theory and anti-conspiracy theory approaches — they all have the same problem.

For quite a while there has been no practical difference between the government and their presumed counterparts, the terrorists. It seems like everyone is on every side of every issue, where and when it’s convenient. We know that in some confrontations, the friendly government is friends with al Qaeda and in some, their enemy. This thing called ISIS can be equally ambiguous.

Clockwise from top left, cartoonists Jean Cabut, known as Cabu; Bernard Verlhac, who drew as Tignous; Georges Wolinski; and Stephane Charbonnier, better known as Charb.

To give one example of this issue, Osama bin Laden was blamed for the 9/11 attack, which is often called a false-flag, government-sponsored event. Yet bin Laden was a CIA operative against the Russians in Afghanistan. So he is personally a government product. (Bill Clinton has said that bin Laden was also never officially accused by the FBI or CIA of 9/11. Additionally, 9/11 is not even on his wanted poster — but the U.S. went to war with Afghanistan on the pretense that he did it.)

Add that to the fact that every act of terrorism supports the massive anti-terrorist, national security infrastructure. That is a vast, government-sponsored business — and terrorism in any form is very, very good for that very lucrative business.

So whether it’s terrorists who did this, state-sponsored terrorists or the government itself becomes a difference sans distinction, as no matter how you look at it you get the same result. Still, it would be interesting to know exactly who trained these guys who shot up Charlie Hebdo‘s editors, and where that happened, and when, and to trace the path of the weapons from the initial order to manufacture to every hand they passed through.

You would probably want to puke. Which would be an appropriate reaction to this whole scenario, but nobody really does, unless one of their closest friends was killed.

When I want to sort out an issue, I will often go to the comments on The New York Times website and check out what its impressively literate readers have to say. Last night the Times posted an editorial saying that we cannot let terrorists set the editorial policy of a magazine. Many readers noted that the Times does not have the guts to publish one of Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons, so that position is fundamentally hypocritical.

One reader left this comment, which I will leave you with, because it sums up everything so well.

It seems like humanity is at war over three basic issues:

The autonomy of women.

The purpose of education.

The ability to take a joke.

Just think of how much could be resolved if we all could just come to an understanding, or even agree to disagree, about those three things.

Of course, there’s nothing new about the controversy over these issues, or even violent conflicts over them. And there’s also nothing new about these issues acting as a cover or distraction from the real issue at the heart of every conflict, a competition for resources and economic opportunity.

Remember that the Islamic terrorists who have been wreaking so much havoc for the last quarter century were bred much the same way as killer bees. The United States deliberately trained, armed and organized young militant Muslims to help repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

When we left them twisting in the wind after they essentially won the Cold War for us, they naturally turned against the West. (It didn’t help that we did that whole thing with the Shah [of Iran] back in 1953, and then, of course, there’s our support of Israel….) So if you’re looking for some original sin, some institution at which to unleash your anger, you might want to take a look at your dollar bill and your thermostat. Do not blame Islam, which is no more susceptible to violence, oppression and ignorance than any other religion.

That is what we’re dealing with, on the most human level. And the question I leave you with is, now that has entered your consciousness, what do you do with it?


Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015 #1031 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Trying to imagine how others perceive you can be perilous, and you’re almost always wrong. It’s such a waste of time and energy I suggest you skip it, and hang out where you feel good, where you feel welcome and where people willingly make eye contact with you. However, this is a fine time to keep your promises, take extra responsibility for and with the people around you, and hold yourself fully responsible for what you choose. It’s also a great moment to defuse any disagreements in your environment or at least to take the opportunity to ratchet them down rather than ramp them up. Go gently in your environment. The vibe in the air is that of instant karma, so spread peace and love in ways large and small.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Leadership can be perilous. When you get to the point of involvement in life where you exceed the limits set by your parents (or where you know you have to), it can be frightening — until it’s not. You look like you’re ready to see not just how far, but how well you can push those limits. All parents set them, consciously or unconsciously, and they end up being the template of how we interact in situations where authority is involved. For you this is about taking a new role in the structure of any group you are involved with. This role depends entirely on your intelligence and creativity; that is the theme. Your breakthrough is figuring out that you’re one of the smartest people in the room and not caring if that offends anyone. A happy day.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Be conscious of those with a political agenda. By that I mean anything other than a personal agenda of goodwill and intimacy. However, you face a challenge in discerning this, because you’re likely to either be a bit too harsh or a bit too generous in your evaluation. You need to give people a little time to show their colors, such as a day or two. Listen to what they say and in particular what they prioritize. Notice any tendency to drama — that is usually a political gesture of some sort. Meanwhile be conscious of these things in yourself. There is an undercurrent of tension in the air, and you may have a tendency to act from a sense of injury. The antidote is to stay alert and notice when you feel like you’re being treated unfairly. Right then, wake up.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Take care of business and never mind the slings and arrows. They are merely conceptual, the approximate equivalent of mental static, though they may be convincing at times. Never mind the porno spam. You know the emails you write and get from your friends are much more interesting. Yet even better is the prospect of actual intimate contact with others, and that looks like a real possibility if you choose to stay in the company of people who have the word ‘yes’ in their vocabulary. I’m aware that ‘yes’ is considered to be everything from dangerous to immoral to un-politically correct. What that whole point of view ignores is that without yes, nobody and nothing go anywhere. You definitely have some people and places on your agenda. Remember who, remember where, and be available.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Don’t worry about what you’ve decided is impossible. Stick to what you think is possible, even if that’s just a matter of opinion. It’s a particularly meaningful opinion because in many ways it’s the determining factor in the matter. People have done absolutely ridiculous things, under the belief that they could pull it off, even if they would not have tried if they knew what was involved. Also, remember that you can shift something from the ‘impossible’ to the ‘not impossible’ or ‘I’m doing it no matter what’ column at will. It would however help to have that opinion come from the inside rather than trying to convince yourself of anything. There’s plenty to do that you already know you can, you have a thing for stretching your capabilities, and there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Hold everyone to the truth, starting with yourself. This isn’t as difficult as so many people make it out to be. You see people respond all the time as if reality itself were some kind of mortal enemy to be held at bay, or eliminated when possible. But honesty is not vaguely as uncomfortable as living with the tension and pressure of denial and ignorance. Get things moving by releasing some of your own pressure in this regard — for example, saying what’s been on your mind that you’ve been concerned would have some kind of negative response if you let it out. Consider this a gesture of healing, and of opening the way to even deeper repair of a problem you’ve wanted to solve. What would that be? It involves when you choose to compromise and why.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You have been walking a delicate balance, which may feel something like being on the bomb squad. But the explosives you may feel you’re handling have lost their power for years. What they have is a kind of nostalgia, which is what you are dismantling. It’s more like needing space going through someone’s old collection of memorabilia, which is taking up your old basement, and coming across a deactivated souvenir grenade from World War II. It’s worth handling consciously, getting rid of and getting on with your work. But then your discovery gets you thinking about why someone, anyone, would save such a horrid thing. Who would want that? What is the story behind it? As you start to figure it out, you begin having surprisingly deep revelations about your own life and the direction you want to go.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Your sign is not known for its cool detachment, but it’s a resource you have available right now. This is not the removed distance of not caring; it’s an unusual kind of objectivity caused by being deeply concerned about an issue of justice and wanting the right thing to happen. You know that in order to do that you must remain fair-minded and see the situation in its entirety. You know that you must work with a balanced mind and present both yourself and your ideas that way. The more concerned you are, the more collected and relaxed you will want to be — so calm that it comes through your voice.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Saturn in your sign is placing you in the role of arbiter of reality. You are having to do so in a time when it’s not widely accepted that there even is such a thing. But there has to be for you. There has to be a reference point or orientation — even if there is not a bottom line. So start with a point of orientation, a benchmark or watermark that you can use, at least, as a way of measuring change. Then, you persist in being the kind of person who knows when they’ve thought about something and when they have not. If there is one thing undermining basic agreements and understandings of what is real, that’s the one. Work out the logic a few different ways, and then translate it into words you can explain.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Take care of your home, and who and what you consider home. Keep the fire burning, which is to say, consciously and carefully tend the flame. If you have any questions about the way your life is going, consider that your devotion and attentiveness are the most potent force for your life. The image of the hearth is radiating from your charts; the symbolic one, and the one at the center of your domestic and spiritual life. It’s the source of heat and light, a space where you can prepare food to nourish your loved ones, and a space to gather. Do this consciously, from moment to moment and day to day, never assuming that it’s someone else’s job. You are the one with the understanding and the capability — that’s why it’s your role.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Consider the potential repercussions of anything you do. If you focus on your most loving intentions and let them motivate you, you’ll feel safer and be more secure. The thing you want to look after now is your own best interests. They serve you, and they also serve the people you care about, so there’s no conflict there. It’s difficult to consider what is right for everyone else but it’s pretty easy to distinguish what is right for you, what works, what feels ethical, and most of all what seems intelligent. Remember that when you take action, there’s always the likelihood of reaction. Think that through in advance. Be aware of how you direct energy, especially if it involves focused assertion or aggression. Be as gentle as you can.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Your worst fears are not true, as you will soon see. But you may as well notice what they are, how they feel and the general theme, which seems to be the results of your karma. Well, your karma is a lot better than you think. People who consciously concern themselves with right and wrong, with self-reflection, and with the possibility of denial are usually working on a pretty high level. You are aware of the possibility of denial and you’re also aware that you can do something about it. You are aware that your thoughts have influence and even power. So, you’re in good shape. At the moment, you can afford to take it all in, and see where you can add something positive and creative.

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