Deeper than Confetti: An Introspective Year

Dear Friend and Reader:

I’ve been watching the news the past few weeks for signs and symbols of Mercury retrograde in Scorpio, which ended Monday. This and the surrounding astrology (covered in Tuesday’s edition featuring Twin Peaks) caps off a deeply introspective year. I feel confident saying everyone learned a lot about themselves. Yet it was also a truly intriguing moment for personal-meets-political.

Portable podcasting gear set up in Montauk, NY, earlier in 2012 (probably for the Spring Report). Photo by Eric Francis.

My personal favorite story from the time of the retrograde — maybe my favorite Mercury retrograde story ever, except for the yak butter incident — happened Thanksgiving Day in New York City. Some of the confetti distributed by Macy’s for the famous parade consisted of shredded Nassau County (Long Island) police documents. This is not supposed to happen. Macy’s claims to use only commercially produced confetti.

By whatever miracle, some of what was actually used included shredded confidential police reports, with names of undercover officers, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and account information, according to a variety of press reports. Confidential documents are supposed to be shredded vertically, but these were shredded horizontally, so the information was legible.

Best of all, details of Mitt Romney’s motorcade to the last debate (held in Nassau County) made it into the mix. This was after the debate happened, but it’s still useful information to some.

The news reports were full of exclamations and inquiries about how this happened, and there is an investigation in the works. They need an astrologer on the panel, so they don’t miss the biggest clue — Mercury was retrograde in Scorpio, the sign of all things secret, concealed or otherwise on the down-low. Hence, these secrets were liberally sprinkled, in legible form, all over the public.

The confidential confetti metaphor works on every level I can think of. It describes the current state of privacy, with the perfect non-Internet incident. Some have remarked that privacy is being reduced to just another commodity, available to those who can afford it. I would say we have evidence that it barely exists at all.

Is there any such thing as privacy? Here is one description. Photo: Eric and Sarah, Blue Studio.

We have, at least, enough information to put us on notice that the notion of ‘private’ is a bit behind us — though there remains the question how we’re supposed to respond. Most people still cling to the idea that certain things about them are unknown to most people, and the idea of them getting out, even if nothing illegal was done, is a bit mortifying. Indeed, it is evocative of death, where so much about us becomes known — it’s just that we’re not around to experience the benefits.

The benefits? Yes! The benefits of feeling all that pressure taken off. The benefits of no longer wondering what everyone will think, and projecting judgment onto others with negative self-talk.

Yet as far as I can tell, the secrecy issue really has two sides: the information that we deny to others, and what we deny to ourselves.

The resounding message of this year’s astrology has been: come out to yourself. Reveal all of your inner secrets — to you. Explore inwardly; shine the light within and know yourself for who you are. I know that the fear in the way of that is deciding that you are going to encounter more self-judgment. While it’s true that we have to pass through some shadowy territory, I believe that most of it involves dealing with the effects of previous judgments and self-criticism, rather than encountering pain about who we are. In other words, what we’re dealing with is past emotional patterning affecting us now. This is good news; it lets us off the hook, as long as we don’t climb back on by replaying old scenes over and over.

In any event, to unravel this shadowy stuff subverts all kinds of ego games, obsession with image and problems we have relating to others. Liars lie to themselves, and someone who is honest with herself or himself is more likely to be honest with others. Part of that honesty means establishing a relationship with the truth and its value, as a primary focus of existence. Once you do that, many other values and ethics fall into place. The fog lifts over obvious distinctions between right and wrong.

One of the sticky spots does seem to be sex. This is the one place where nearly everyone grants themselves a pass to deceive others or deceive themselves, on some level. It’s one reason why I think it’s the place to begin, and why I suggest being honest with yourself about what you want, what you’ve done and what has been done to you. If you hang out in that space for a while, you can collect a lot of your scattered energy, find some relief or even peace of mind, and then open up to others in a way that isn’t terrifying.

Studio setup for Internet privacy photo in Blue Studio. We started with a complex setup and progressively removed elements to get a photo simple enough to be visually appealing.

Part of why it’s less scary is because you don’t have to worry about what anyone is going to find out. I have no way to quantify the energy that’s held in worrying what will happen if others discover something, but we all know that it’s agonizing.

Our introspective year has included retrogrades of Venus and Mars, plus the Venus transit of the Sun, which no person alive today (barring some technology that doubles the length of a human lifetime) will see again. The retrogrades took us in, in, in — and Venus revealing herself against the backdrop of the Sun, in broad daylight, seems to have awakened something in the feminine spirit.

Though my viewpoint is limited, and biased by a special interest in the topic, I have seen how Mercury retrograde in Scorpio has led to an impressive sexual and emotional awakening: people making decisions, coming to realizations, coming out of denial and into themselves, and the desire to express this in words.

We now head for the one remaining landmark event of this year — the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice of 2012, which is day of the Mayan calendar. I read that chart for you last week in the article Something About Juno, and my not-so-surprising discovery is that the solstice chart mainly presents a deeply personal message about self-relating and relating to others.

Speaking of Introspective: Personal Astrology 

This is the time of year that I dive into the personal astrology for all 12 signs, in the creation of the Planet Waves annual edition. Each January, I release a set of readings that covers the entire zodiac, applicable to Sun sign, rising sign, Moon sign and special topics such as relationship partners. This year the annual is called LISTEN.

In my reading of the world and of the planetary movements, this is the next step in saving the world — learning to listen: to ourselves, to our environment, to our children, to our partners: listening and paying attention to what we learn. The astrology is providing rich information about how we may do this — especially the part about going past the fear and the mental chatter and listening on the soul level.

Eric, working in Yum-Yum Noodles of Kingston, photo by Sarah.

I’ve been developing this work since July, casting more than 100 charts and studying the positions of dozens of minor planets as they move through the zodiac, dancing amidst the well-known bodies. The project is well underway, and completing it is something I will associate with this time of year for the rest of my life.

The annual is always a deep journey for me. Setting aside the production details, the art, the music and the articles by other contributors (most of which is now handled by the talented people around me), I essentially have to re-learn astrology every time I do it, then express what I have learned in empathic language that makes sense to you.

The annual now consists of a written and audio portion for each sign. I go to a depth that most astrologers would say is impossible for “Sun sign” astrology, which may be true — I use many techniques not employed by Sun sign writers, including a solid understanding of the houses, some ancient techniques and modern planets that speak to the human condition at this time in history.

Mainly, I pour myself into the work. At a certain point, the need to provide something original for everyone catches fire, and the whole thing becomes a discovery process. The charts never stop speaking. Once I start the audio, I can go on for hours — it is astonishing how much information the charts provide. I have to set a word limit on the text so I can stop and move on to the next sign.

The result is something that changes my life, and is designed to help you change yours, in the ways that you want. You bring that willingness and that motivation; I provide some information about themes and timing. I offer a way through the noise, and an interpretation of the aspects that you won’t read anywhere else. I work with the foundational idea that astrology does not describe a problem to which it does not also offer a solution. What good would it be otherwise?

Horary chart for LISTEN in my kitchen recording studio. The chart has Pisces rising, with Neptune, Chiron and the Moon in the ascendant. Pholus is on the midheaven. Chart’s data is July 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm, Kingston, NY.

I also work with the idea that the main quest we are on is healing, creativity and growth, which are aspects of the same thing.

This year, I am making some space to do this work a little more comfortably. The Planet Waves edition you’re reading will pause for the holidays, so that we can all catch our breath and spend some time off of deadline. I’ll be sending out a special schedule notice about that later Friday or Saturday morning. Please check your email.

Today it occurred to me that it would be helpful to get some of this information to you by the winter solstice. In terms of the 2012 readings for LISTEN, I may be able to finish the audio by the winter solstice. I am not promising that — but it seems possible. The written portion would come out sometime in January, as usual.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend that you review the 2012 annual, Revolution. Revelation. Reality Check. (If you were a customer of that edition, please revisit it; if you need your login information, please write to us.) If you have not signed up for it, we will be offering that next week at a special price for current subscribers. Reality Check was the culmination of four years of work researching and reading many charts leading up to 2012.

Each annual edition builds on the prior one, and is designed to have a shelf life of two to five years. It is relevant now, and so too are the past several annuals. We will make the last three editions available as a package offer (Next World Stories, Light Bridge and Reality Check).

Basically, what you see in Planet Waves annuals fulfills the dream of many astrologers who came before me — making available individually relevant astrology, affordably, in a beautiful presentation. The voice you hear and that you read is my own, and I view our relationship as a bond of trust.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

With love,

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 #928 | By Eric Francis

Sagittarius Birthdays This Week 

You can finally set yourself free of the expectations of others, or what you perceive their expectations to be. There is a difference, and it’s an important one. You still run the risk of getting lost in your relationships, though not if you pay attention. Sometimes it seems like you compensate for trust issues by throwing yourself into situations you’re unsure of (or have reasons to question) and hoping for the best. I know that at the other extreme, it’s possible for you to put all your energy into avoiding allowing anyone close to you, but that’s been getting tired, and you’ve figured out that despite being a visitor from a faraway galaxy, you like human contact. I suggest that on the way to getting that contact, you engage people in a conversation till you understand them, and allow them closer incrementally until you ave a real basis for trust. There is such a thing, and it will help you create relationships that are easier to be in, and easier to move on from should you discover that you need to.

Aries (March 20-April 19) — There is ambition, and there is aspiration. Ambition is associated with hubris — the tragic flaw. It’s about gaining advantage at any cost, including one’s integrity. Aspiration is about the desire to grow, to excel and to succeed. Now is the time in your life when you have the opportunity to sort out the difference, which is not so well understood. While this has been developing as a theoretical issue for a while, now the ‘what ifs’ are starting to manifest, and you can examine the results of your choices and your actions. The key difference between ambition and aspiration is that one requires suspending personal growth and the other requires that you involve yourself fully in it. It is easy enough to push people into doing what they don’t want to do; they are used to being taken advantage of. It is challenging to think ethically, and to consider the greater good in every decision you make. I suggest you pause and do just that, because you are entering a moment of instant karma, where it all comes back to you.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Belief is the central theme of your life — what you believe, why you believe it, and the origins of your point of view. Ideally, it would help to go ‘beyond belief’ entirely, because the concept is so flimsy. But at first it helps to sort out what you think is true, and why you think so. Once you get there, an investigation of what’s actually true is the next step. This is partly a matter of learning, and partly a matter of direct experience. Information or an idea is obviously not wrong by default when it comes from someone else, though you can go deeper into the truth when you have your own experience to illustrate or modify your perception. This is another way of saying that meaning is only truly meaningful in context, and one context you now have is a relationship or close interpersonal situation. You seem to be in a situation where someone else’s beliefs are good as far as they go. Be grateful when you reach that limit, because that’s the point when your deeper learning begins.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — It is often said that the truth hurts, though it’s much better at healing. The issue that often arises, though, is what you do with your fear of hurting someone because you tell them what you really need, feel or want. If you’re in a position where you need to do this, I have a few suggestions. One is remember that ultimately, you don’t need anyone’s permission or understanding. However, the benefit of a consensus is that it protects the integrity of the relationship. Real consensus is reached by a meeting on the level of the underlying values, not just the matter at hand. Also, I suggest you factor in the social conformity piece of the puzzle, which may be a central influence within the situation. The idea of ‘hurt’ may involve the fear of not being accepted. Yet there is a deeper layer: I suggest you be keenly aware of the unresolved pain that others may be carrying, even as you embark on your own commitment to a new level of healing. You don’t have to be a slave to that pain, or fix anyone — just be aware of your environment.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — The recent eclipse in the most sensitive angle of your solar chart looks like it stirred up some, well, I was going to say energy, but what I really mean is information. Secrets do not stay secrets forever, and I suggest you celebrate this cosmic truth. The beauty held for you in things being revealed — within yourself, by others or to others — is about being a unified critter. Concealed information splits you into pieces. Divisions within your life and those of the people around you tend to pit you against yourself. In a time when relationships matter to you more than ever, you need to be your own best friend, which means operating with one agenda that is tuned to your own best interests. The eclipse comes with the lasting message that you cannot keep secrets from yourself. You cannot divide your character, and you cannot be anyone other than who you truly are. I think from now on, this learning agenda will be a lot easier.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Your charts describe a creative explosion on the one hand, combined with the productivity of Stephen King on the other. The thing is, you will need to put these two seemingly different elements together. This is good astrology if you’re someone who tends to live a split life, for example, between your creative passions and your work responsibilities, or between your career and your kids. You have the energy and the focusing power to get it all done. So I suggest that you invest your time and energy into what matters to you the most, since the ability to work so much and so well, having so much fun, does not arrive every day. You will be better guided in your choices for where to direct your energy by using your intuition rather than following a preconceived agenda. In fact, part of what you will discover is the ways that you can change your work patterns to increase your efficiency. Under this kind of setup, seeming mistakes can count as happy accidents that teach you a better way to do things.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You finally seem to be making some progress on the whole “too cautious to be a passionate lover” thing. Bit by bit you are dismantling the structure that contained your desire, your curiosity and your vital force. You’ve come far enough in the process of setting yourself free to feel that it’s possible and you know how good it feels. It looks as if what you’re doing is cutting yourself loose from the persistent guilt that always seems to have lurked around your sexual exploration. That has not stopped you from doing it, but it has slowed you down and mainly it’s compromised your pleasure. The problem with guilt is that it makes a person feel as if they are wrong, which seems to validate the emotion. This is the basic con job involved, and once you know the game it’s a little easier to subvert. Remember that guilt is always inserted into a person by others as a control device. I would remind you that your ancestors, right down to your parents, are entitled to a grand total of zero influence over what you do, who you do, what you like and most of all what you want.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You seem to be making up your mind how you feel about yourself. It’s a complex matter, isn’t it? I assure you, despite war, famine and strife, this is one of the most challenging situations that humanity faces — how we feel about ourselves. It’s made more complex when everyone from your cousin to your mother to the Audi marketing department wants to get in on the game. Having misgivings about yourself makes you weak and susceptible to manipulation by any of those parties. Here is the thing: in getting strong and clear about this, you run the risk of being a little too harsh on yourself, or putting up a kind of emotional barricade to keep out certain people and to block yourself against feelings that don’t contribute to your happiness. If you do that, you might get the feeling that you’re trapped in a relationship with yourself. While it’s true that your relationship to yourself is the one affair you cannot leave, feeling trapped in there is no consolation. I suggest you open the door, just a little, and let in some light and sunshine.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — I can barely begin to imagine the ways the current astrology is manifesting for you, though the sense I have from your solar chart is that you’ve never felt stronger or more determined to participate in the world as a functional adult. That’s just fine, as long as you keep your sense of humor. That is your key to the humility that will remind you that you’re human, and keep your Scorpio water moist and humid rather than having it all evaporate. I suggest you spend as much time as possible on The Onion’s website and make sure you catch a few episodes of Stephen Colbert, someone capable of raising sarcasm to the level of inspiration. There is another side to humor, pointed out by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who notes that humor means taking things lightly rather than with a heavy heart. I think that these days, cultivating both forms would serve you well, particularly in writing. I always consider a bit of well-wrought comic relief, irony or a satirical eye evidence that the author was actually awake whilst typing.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — The Sun’s upcoming opposition to your ruling planet Jupiter is a moment of reckoning for you. It represents you breaking a kind of deadlock or loggerheads with yourself, and will allow a confrontation with the notion that you are somehow bound by the expectations of others. The only thing you can really be bound by are your expectations of yourself, so in one gesture you’re setting free yourself and the people you care about. The thing is, you seem to be taking to heart what others say, and you’re unusually susceptible to their influences at the moment. Part of what happens over the next few days is that you actually see and feel the ways in which you may have allowed yourself to be herded into a corner. Despite your persistent quest for freedom and your love for having space around you, this happens more often than you may care to admit. The first step on the way to getting out is figuring out that you’re there. Then, if you can do that, the next steps may be obvious.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You don’t need to push yourself, anyone or anything as hard as you may think. There is plenty of momentum carrying you, and your boundaries are working well enough that you have no need to be defensive. In fact, you could let your guard down at the same time you ease off on the push energy, just a little. Just enough to see that you feel good relaxing into an environment that you have every reason to trust. One thing you may want to be aware of is that over the next week or two, your fantasy world (yes, your rather exotic erotic one) is about to set itself on fire, as the Sun in Sagittarius makes a series of aspects and Venus and Mars continue to dance around your chart. Your imagination may even take on a life of its own, and seem so vivid as to be real (this, I call phantasy). This is sometimes a form of astral contact and it may be that you are actually communicating with some of the people who enter your mind. I suggest you stand way back from judging anything you imagine; just let it work its wonders on you.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — How are you doing with your fear of deep contact? You seem to have passed through a series of gateways recently, which have led you both closer to others and more significantly, to yourself. You cannot really yield to anyone, or yourself, if you’re experiencing fear — neither physically nor emotionally. Or said another way, if you pass through your fear and self-judgment, you can emerge surprisingly intact as yourself. What you are doing is dismantling inner barriers that have blocked you from your inner awareness, and trapped certain aspects of yourself within compartments that are built of what you can think of as shadow material: guilt, shame, anxiety and the fear of not being good enough. One by one these are bursting, and what’s being released into your environment are little jolts of the creative and loving energy that they were containing. After a while, these bursts will give way to a steady stream of light which will not only be abundant, it will be infinite. The best thing you can do now to demonstrate this fact is to be generous with yourself and with others.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Confidence comes in a number of forms, and one of them — perhaps the most meaningful for you — is emotional. You understand that there is usually no basis for comparison between you and the world, though you also know there are times you feel more confident and less so. It may be annoying that you cannot always create that confidence on your own; it’s best when it emerges naturally, and you seem ready to blossom over the next few days. Confidence will express itself in the form of charisma, appeal and a relaxed certainty that you are up to the mission you have taken on. How you feel about yourself is what will radiate out to the world, so the more you ease into the flow of your life, the more warmth and cooperation you will draw to you. Trust that people understand something intuitively and are willing not just to cooperate but to co-create with you. This will present you with options; when you notice them, make sure you choose what you actually want.

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