Figuring Out Where You’re Coming From

Dear Friend and Reader:

In the astrology readings below, you have my interpretations for November, a month with two turning-point events in our mini-era of personal history. These are the main events on which I’ve based your readings.

Here is a bit of life as art: Pres. Obama ordered the White House illuminated as a rainbow the night that the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Photo: SF Chronicle.

The first is a conjunction of Venus and Mars in Virgo; this is the third conjunction between these two planets this year. As I described in many signs of Cosmophilia, the 2015 annual reading, this series of Venus-Mars conjunctions tells a story about relationships and one’s orientation on relationships.

It was only this past June that the Supreme Court ruled (in a decision that was surprising for many reasons) that it’s a fundamental constitutional right for same-sex people to marry. Yes, this had been in the works for many years — millennia, if you count the intolerance (spanning from shunning to execution) with which same-sex companions have been treated through history.

With just a little perspective we could see how huge this really is. I don’t think we’re quite there.

Now that this is resolved legally, at least for our society (following behind many other Western nations), we get to process the basic fact that same-sex couples exist and that their affections are presumed healthy. Whether subliminally or in the plain light of day, that is a comment about all people and all sex. What was so recently considered a moral outrage, a disease and a crime is now given the full protection of our legal system.

From here, we can focus some attention on a neglected topic of human relations — values in opposite-sex relationships, the ones we take for granted every day. These three conjunctions (the first in Aries, the second in Leo and the third about to happen in Virgo) describe a process of figuring something out.

Satire really is the pinnacle of journalism. I don’t know who did this spoof on the cover of Cosmopolitan, but they sure are funny. I immediately sent it to my editors at Marie Claire.

The setting and style have gradually moved from Aries (on the Aries Point), followed by Venus retrograde, then on to Leo. These are two of the more glamorous signs of the zodiac, especially where sexual and relational themes are concerned. The third conjunction is in Virgo, a sign that is practical, critical, inward-seeking and slower-moving. It is dedicated to healing, to service and to the growth and preservation of food.

Notably, Virgo is ruled by Mercury, an androgynous planet. While it’s the sign of the ‘virgin’ goddess, the gender-morphing quality of Mercury is an interesting comment (and one of many little puzzles left to us by the inventors of astrology).

I believe that gender relations underlie nearly all issues in society. When you include homophobia, misogyny, jealousy, rampant insecurity, possessiveness and treating people as property, and loneliness and sexual frustration, it’s possible to develop scenarios that explain most forms of suffering, misery, attack, greed and war.

From what I can tell, most people think they have fixed positions on most issues. This includes one’s sexual and emotional orientation, responses to past injuries, opinions of the opposite sex, and most important, one’s ethics. There are some schools of psychology that say we’ve made up our minds about everything of any actual importance by age three. That’s the time when the limbic system, which organizes memory and processes emotion, has taken form.

Obviously, to function in society, our viewpoint must change as we get older and discover ourselves in new situations requiring new approaches to life. But the mind, which one might think is the most flexible thing in the world, turns out to be one of the most rigid. At the same time, it seems that most people are so confused about their own views that it’s difficult for them to muster up a clear yes or a clear no.

This leads to the other watershed event of our era, the Saturn-Neptune square. We’ve been getting this in little waves since late last year, when Saturn dipped into Sagittarius for a few months.

We live in the age of the inversion — “your access to birth control violates my religious freedom.” Do we get how convoluted that ‘logic’ is?

Now Saturn is back in Sagittarius to stay, and we have a sequence of three Saturn-Neptune aspects: one on Nov. 26, the next on June 17 and the last on Sept. 10. Most astrologers will tell you how challenging Saturn-Neptune aspects can be, but the question is why?

Saturn and Neptune seem to represent opposing principles — one of formation, the other of dissolving. That might explain it. In a 90-degree aspect, they intersect one another at right angles. When this aspect happens, all kinds of crazy, impossible inventions and developments can emerge. This can work personally as well.

Saturn in Sagittarius can represent the idea of a solidly formed principle of some kind. Sagittarius is the sign of isms — spiritualism, fundamentalism, globalism, terrorism, scientism, imperialism and so on.

Sagittarius can (and prefers to) hang a little looser than that, but when you add Saturn, there is going to be a tendency to harden concepts into things that seem solid enough to use as the basis for a crusade. And that is the time in which we live. Recently, Pluto was in Sagittarius (1995-2008), and it was during this phase that all the ism stuff really started to become obsessive. The peak event was the Sept. 11 incident, leading to the ultimate Battle of the Isms. Even though Pluto left Sagittarius seven years ago, we are still living with the momentum and consequences of that era.

Now Saturn is pointing out the obvious — we live in a time when it seems most people have hardened beliefs, which are not really ever subjected to questioning or any process of verification. And Saturn is about to meet Neptune in a series of encounters lasting a long time.

Stranger Than Science Fiction: “As the fathers are making these vows and promises, they present a purity ring (or other item) to their daughters. These daughters are then under their father’s guard and protection until they are married and replace their purity ring with a wedding ring. The daughters promise their fathers that they will stay pure.”

Neptune in Pisces, for its part, would seem able to dissolve anything. Neptune is a slower-moving planet than Saturn (165 years for Neptune and 29 years, six months for Saturn). It’s associated with Pisces for a number of reasons.

Though not a planet from the classical era of astrology, Neptune has well proved itself as something that has the power to melt away existing forms, similar to how the mythological god Neptune could change the world with floods, earthquakes and tsunamis.

If Sagittarius represents religion and belief, Pisces represents the direct experiences of these things that resist expression in just about anything except art and music. In other words, what starts out as mystical experience in Pisces seems to work backwards through the signs and show up as a moral, religious or spiritual concept in Sagittarius.

For most people, most of those concepts go unquestioned most of the time. That’s a polite way of saying they’re hardly ever questioned. They are just taken for granted, as if one mutters to oneself, this is what I believe, all day long. This muttering usually goes on in other scripted speech and action — that is, how we respond to life, how we treat others and in the decisions we make without thinking about them.

Making a decision involves more than rolling the dice. Actual thought is required. Scientific American has covered the issue.

What is right and what is wrong, for me? What do I believe and why do I believe it? Am I responding from conditioning or from an idea of my own? We don’t usually come to these questions until there’s a crisis of some kind.

And that, I believe, is where we’re headed with Saturn in Sagittarius square Neptune in Pisces: a mass-scale run-in with countless unquestioned dysfunctional beliefs. There is no assurance that tangible questions will form, much less be answered, on a cultural level. You may find that you’re the only one doing any questioning and answering.

The way you’re likely to get there is by running into a belief you had that was not working. But first you’ll have to figure out that’s what’s happening, since it may not be obvious. Then once you tune into that, you can work the issue out by defining the problematic belief as such.

That, of course, will take honesty and awareness and the willingness to first see then question your own ethical position. On our planet, that is special. It’s easier to go back to sleep, but you don’t want to sleep through Saturn square Neptune.

Here is one clue — the most problematic beliefs imposed by religion involve sex and death. Religion has co-opted the foundations of existence and consciousness, basically claiming a monopoly on them. It has no right, no standing, no basis in truth, to do that. These supposedly sanctimonious beliefs are rarely questioned or even noticed for what they are. Remember that.


Planet Waves Monthly for November 2015, #1072 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — There are two main aspects to this thing we call spiritual. One is the visible part, which involves bodies of ideas, teaching and learning those ideas in the world, the organizations people take part in to facilitate that, and more formal institutions and their various rules and laws. It’s in this area of life that someone may strive to be a better person, to accumulate knowledge, to attain purity, and so on. Then there is the invisible dimension — the one that lurks and lingers behind everything, occasionally finding its way to the front of awareness. It’s a parallel world, which can be visited through direct experiences: dreams, journeying, direct exploration of awareness, transcendent erotic experiences (such as through tantric practice), near-death experiences, and those vast moments of personal revelation that cannot be planned. It’s easy to see why Carl Jung said that religion (the first group of concepts) interferes with religious experience (the second). For you now, the conceptual and pre-programmed level of spiritual life is about to be dissolved into the direct, authentic experience. This will take some time — the next year or two — though it’s beginning now, as you read. Therefore emphasize your actual journey — what you feel, and who and what you experience. Put less into books and concepts and ‘practice’. The rehearsal is over. You are now the instrument, the musician and the audience.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — For any individual in possession of talent or desire to accomplish something, there is a phase of learning about how the quality of your work and the audience response are two different things. This could be said about any phase of life, though let’s focus on the work you do: the thing you want to be known for, and what you feel is your true gift. One reason people hold back developing their talents (we all have them and in my experience, just about all people are aware of that fact) is out of fear of how they will be received. I would remind you that some of the very greatest artists and thinkers have received initial responses verging on insulting. To give one hilarious example (which I will come back to soon): the Wright brothers were busy flying an early model of their airplane around a field in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, but the local newspaper refused to send a reporter. I could rattle off dozens of these tales from memory. The message of the story is that your work must proceed regardless of what you think people will think, what they actually think or whatever the heck else. This includes your friends, your ‘friends’, your family and so on. Ultimately you must resonate with your own creative core. Be true to your vision, come what may.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Beware of anything that someone claims is both a moral and a medical issue. Said another way, how you feel is not a matter of some external opinion, and neither is how you seek your wellbeing. Gradually you’re breaking down your old, mostly inherited beliefs of right and wrong. An ethical person must be in command of their own understanding of their personal truth. You recognize that people do what they do, and you will do what you do. There’s actual freedom in that, because when you recognize that you have a choice in any matter, you’re more likely to exercise that choice honestly. So I could start this horoscope over by saying, beware of any situation where you seem not to have a choice, or where someone tries to convince you of that. Or: be aware of your options. If you seem to run out of them, ask yourself, what would I do if I didn’t feel some authority was breathing down my back? What would I do in a world where judgment and grudges were not such an issue? Incidentally, if you’re at some crossroads where the choice seems to be either relationship or career, you might start by asking yourself who set that up and why it is you would have to choose one over the other. There are potential reasons, though it may not be true.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — The feeling of risk is not the same thing as actual risk. The notion that ‘this feels like I’m about to jump off of a cliff’ is not the same thing as standing at the edge of a mountain precipice with the wind blowing and condors gliding around. Make sure you understand the difference, because where your creative (and sexual) process is taking you is in the direction of a personal boundary. You might say that’s the place where you will decide to keep it real, or to choose some other alternative. Why would you do anything but be real? Well, you might feel out of practice. You might think it’s scary, mistaking a personal edge for an actual thing you can fall off of. This zone I’m talking about is the place where you can make contact with your vitality. I know this seems to spook or freak out those who are easily frightened. Many people think there’s such a thing as too real or too alive or too free or whatever. That simply must be their problem. You have reached a point in your development when nothing but actually being — and feeling — alive will suit you. This truth or necessity or bottom line (as you wish) resounds through all areas of your life, which are not really areas at all. Part of being alive is embracing how all of your existence is indeed your existence.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You must remember what you’ve learned and are still learning about how to handle your finances. First of all, I reckon you’ve gotten the message that the details matter. Second, it looks like you’ve figured out that the bigger scenario matters — and that these two things must align into a unified whole. However, there is deeper information in terms of understanding what your assets really are. Whenever you make or earn money, you are converting something into it. That might be your time, it might be your ideas, it might be your labor. Probably it’s a mix of all three. In terms of really understanding your assets, I suggest you consider what blend you’re currently using, and how you would like to change that in some way. Less time and labor requires having better ideas. Not caring so much about ideas means more effort over more time. The thing to remember is that you actually do have personal assets, a fact which may be asserting itself many ways at the moment. It would be wise of you to keep track of what you know about what you have to offer. Yet more significantly, it’s in the experience of actually offering your gifts that you make them real. Be generous. Measure with a cup and not a spoon. Measure by the week rather than by the hour. Or perhaps don’t measure at all.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You are learning how to get out of your own way. This is a lifelong theme for you, though recent developments have made this a necessity rather than some kind of luxury. Virgos are the experts at outsmarting themselves. That’s the first of many seeming skills that you will get to dismantle on the way to accessing your true purpose and gift. Another is the thing about trying to convince yourself of something, such as whether it’s true or false. You could more easily do an assessment, review the facts and make a decision based on what you actually observe. A third thing is the concept that you are less than anything or anyone. That’s something that seems to prove itself, though that’s why you really need to subject it to some scrutiny. Now, as for what is actually true — it’s very likely that at your core, you live to be in service. That can work against you. It will, unless you choose consciously to make it work for you — which directly implies a kind of plus-plus symbiosis with your environment. Getting out of your own way is about seeing the relationships you have with others. Mostly it’s about understanding that you exist both as an independent entity and also as one who is interdependent with others around you. That is a fact of existence, and it’s beyond reproach. Put it to good use.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Venus returns to your sign in a week or so. This happens about once a year, though it’s still a beautiful thing, coming right when you need it. It was only recently that Saturn (another planet that represents you) moved out of Scorpio, which signals a loosening up of your resources. If you have not noticed this, you can use the Venus principle to help get things moving. In a word, that’s about attraction. But attraction doesn’t mean standing around looking cute, seeing who offers you what. Libra and Venus in Libra are self-assertive. The image in the planets is about having the confidence to present yourself to the world in an open and accepting way. There’s a serious confidence issue in our society right now, crippling many people. Our obsession with spectating is a direct expression of lacking the courage to dare. You now get some direct relief from any such shortage. You still must present yourself to the world, start the conversation and practice the art of mingling with the human race. It’s just that you’re likely to be feeling better about yourself, as if you’ve somehow found yourself after having lost track of who you are. Thing is, your current experience of finding is likely to bring a real discovery. Keep your sense of wonder right where you can feel it.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — After sending an email query to all the Scorpios in my database, I got an earful one weekend in late October, hearing what many have been through during the past two years of Saturn in your sign (that ended in mid-September). Saturn is usually experienced as lessons learned or struggled with. The purpose of Saturn is to convey the authority principle, inviting you to make your own decisions, rather than having the rules imposed on you from the outside. You’re now in a delicate position of having to step up to this challenge. Look around and you’ll see that it’s clearly more than most people can handle, hence the extreme over-reliance on government, family and corporations. Saturn in Sagittarius presents similar, but subtler, challenges. Do you believe what you believe because you were told to, or did you actually determine that it was true? A rare aspect (Saturn square Neptune) describes some of your most cherished opinions being challenged. This in turn calls for a total reassessment of your reality. It’s not enough to believe something because you always believed it, or because someone presented it as the only option. Where this really comes home is your self-worth. Your opinion of yourself must be balanced and realistic, and usually that means recognizing that much of what you were told simply was not true. When you get there, it’s a profound and stunning revelation.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Saturn’s journey through your sign will have many plots and themes, and each will feel like a distinct phase of your personal history. A new one is about to begin. The immediately prior phase involved accountability (that was Saturn square Nessus). That was the message about how it’s easier to take responsibility than it is to blame. It’s better to have a personal code than be subject to the laws of others. Now we have the first of three Saturn square Neptune events, which extend through 2016. This describes the challenge of certainty, which so often seems nonexistent. You may have heard the term ‘moral relativism’, a fancy name for the idea that we decide what is right for us. That’s exactly what you must do, but the challenge is honoring the wider context in which you live. You can and must do what is right for yourself, though for that to work you need a fairly wide definition of self. What you will be exploring is the intersection between you and the connection you have with others, who to some degree are also part of your ‘self’. That’s not a fixed line. It’s barely visible. It will change based on context. Remember, there are no absolutes; there are no proscribed definitions. You must apply these ideas with each decision you make, and learn something from each experience.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You might be wondering what you’re pushing against, or what you’re running into. It’s something that’s there but which you can neither see nor feel easily. Trying to describe it to others is akin to describing the logic of a dream, which doesn’t even make sense to you when you try to consider it rationally. You must start this phase of your life being the only one who understands who you are or what you go through. Because so much is in motion, it would not be helpful to declare, “There, I get it!” Rather, I suggest seeking the kind of understanding that comes in layers. Remember, though, that we’re in the territory of dream logic. That implies a unique point of view, and at other times a state of isolation. When you find people who actually understand something you say or feel, spend some time with them. When you encounter someone who cares enough to listen, pay attention and share in any way that feels appropriate. You have one special responsibility right now, and it may be difficult: to be absolutely honest with yourself, even when you’re uncertain what the truth is. If all you know is that you don’t know, that’s a good place to start. Your other quest is doing something with fear. Running, hiding and avoidance have outlasted whatever use they had, which was not much to begin with.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — The Sun, and soon enough Mercury, will be in your 10th solar house of getting things done. Whether you use your solar chart (as I’m doing here) or your natal chart, it’s helpful to follow the Sun’s journey through the various seasons of your year. The 10th house is about visibility. It’s about being seen but, moreover, making sure you’re known for what you want to be known for. Reputations, properly established, take time to be built. The returns can seem minimal, even over long years. But you are starting to accrue some experience, and to make some progress on the issue of personal power and influence. Still, I suggest you seek to establish yourself with your good work rather than try to collect. The world is in an extremely confused state right now; the wars and violence seem never to stop, and we get very little in the way of pleasure that doesn’t come with corporate sponsorship or a high-priced admission ticket. Therefore, keep your focus on what is right. Remind yourself that you’ve cleared out enough psychological baggage from your internal space to have a clue who you actually are. Not everyone has made this investment; most people have kept filling their attic while you were busy cleaning up yours. You are therefore in a distinct position of leadership. You can actually see, feel and breathe.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You’re in a period of achievement — though it may not feel like that, or at least not every day. Such a phase is different in that it’s not so much about preparation as it is about the results of the work you’ve already done. Of course, you’re always still learning, and this is essential to maintain as a daily yoga. Your current project is about working on the perfect hybrid of what you do and who you are. (I originally typed that as ‘who you do and what you are’, also accurate.) We see a lot of problems arise in the world when people try to split their character. By that I mean they have a reputation for one thing, and then conduct themselves in a way that entirely contradicts that. For you, Saturn square Neptune is about being one with yourself, which you will get to do on a moment-to-moment basis. The more you do ‘out in the world’, the more you will need to reconcile that with who you are, and who you are becoming. This is saying a lot, given that the end of the year is the busiest time for your professional activities. The underlying theme is about never losing touch with your humanity. But it works the other way too — the closer you stay to your core truth, the more you will achieve.

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