From the Ground Up

The Kiss — Onslow Gardens. 1.5 m x 1 m. Watercolour on Paper. All images © 2019 J.R. Shepherd.

Dear Friend and Reader:

The United States is famously conceived as a government of, by and for the people, as Abraham Lincoln phrased it in his address at the Gettysburg battlefield cemetery. Every American knows those words.

Another use of similar language is contained in the preamble to the Constitution written decades earlier, which begins: “We the People of the United States…” which was a radical idea, emerging from a history of pharaohs, emperors and monarchs.

The preamble continues, “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Supernova, 56-x-76 cm, Watercolour on paper, by J.R. Shepherd.

The founders ordained a government designed to protect the people, and future generations; a government where the power emerges from the ground up. The founders understood that the authority of the government comes from its citizens. While this has been twisted and contaminated many different ways, the fundamental truth remains the same — including when We The People give away our power.

By Fraud and Persuasion

It may seem unreasonable to say this, with all of the corporate money in politics, and the invisible lines of influence, the corruption, and all else. Surely it seems like something has been taken from us, as if by fraud or persuasion.

Yet fraud is only such while someone does not know it’s happening. The moment the crime is discovered, the burden of responsibility shifts onto the victim to do something about it, and damages owed to them cease to accrue. Someone who chooses to knowingly believe lies, or not do anything about being lied to, is not entitled to much.

We have long since passed that point. If we are somehow not feeling that our government is so of, by and for us, we have to look to ourselves first, and that comes with many psychological obstacles.

There is another phenomenon of political movement coming from the ground up, which is the problem that we face with the presidency. It may seem like the government (in all its forms) is the issue, though I don’t think that’s possible. Everything takes place in an environment.

We create that environment, and decide how to handle ourselves within it. Yet we must be aware and be responsive before we can create change. Those are two serious issues at the moment: lack of awareness — or the desire to be aware — and lack of responsiveness.

Right now, the conditions we are co-creating are facilitating the problems that we see. It’s not just that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, is waffling on whether to impeach Trump. Less than half the population thinks this is a good idea. Of course, there have not been televised congressional hearings that would inform the public what is happening. Before the Nixon impeachment hearings, less than 20% of the population was in favor of impeachment. The hearings made all the difference.

New Moon in the Sibly Chart

This is the environment we are in. Now, let’s see how this looks through the lens of astrology — because something is up. First, some background.

The primary chart for the United States is called the Sibly chart. It’s the most commonly used chart for the day of July 4, 1776, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There are several charts for that date, but to me, Sibly is tried and true.

When reading a chart, one place to start is the ascendant/descendant axis — which represents the actual, physical horizon line, and metaphorically, the event horizon of the chart. When we see something developing near the event horizon, something is brewing, and that’s what we have now.

The Sibly chart has an ascendant of a little over 12 degrees of Sagittarius (that is, the rising degree). That puts the same degree of Gemini setting, on the 7th house cusp, which is where the Gemini New Moon is to the degree. In fact, it’s exact to within one-quarter of a degree: 12+ Gemini in the Sibly chart, with Monday’s New Moon at 12+ Gemini. This will happen on average once every few decades.

‘Hades’, Water, 2019, Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 40,” by J.R. Shepherd.

Please don’t be deterred by the numbers. It’s like saying that there is an event at 12 Gemini St., which is which is where the United States lives.

When a lunation (such as the New Moon) happens conjunct the mundane angle of a chart (such as the ascending or descending degree), that tells us the chart is activated at that time. There will either be corresponding events, or current events can be read in the context of the chart. We know from history that the Sibly chart’s angles are sensitive to events.

The 7th or descendant represents the overall environmental conditions described by the chart. You could say that the ascendant or 1st represents figure, and the descendant or 7th represents background.

Gemini: Two Positions At Once

Let’s start with Gemini. When we see Gemini in a mundane chart such as this, or sometimes in a personal chart, there may be some effort to hold two contradictory positions at once.

The environment may support that. Since we’re talking about the national chart, let’s talk about its titular head, Pres. Trump, and his environment of “we the people.” At the moment, “we” seems like a vast overstatement, when the real condition more like “us” and “them.” Certain individuals are struggling with “me, one person.”

During a press gaggle outside the White House Thursday morning, Trump accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of conducting a politically driven witch hunt, but also said Mueller’s investigation proved (closely paraphrasing) there was no collusion, no obstruction, absolutely nothing, totally innocent, not guilty means innocent, etc.

He is trying to hold two entirely contradictory positions at once: Mueller is a corrupt political operative; Mueller did a legitimate investigation that vindicated him. That is nuts, but it wouldn’t work outside of an environment where the split already exists. If it blends in with the environment, that is called normal.

It’s not that nobody is noticing, though. Most people who notice just don’t know what to do with that kind of insanity. It is potentially paralyzing and so offensive as to be repugnant. Anyone with the least familiarity with the Special Counsel’s investigation knows that Trump’s assessment is a bald, self-serving lie. This kind of lie only makes sense to someone who wants to be deceived.

And now we have a New Moon in Gemini on the Sibly chart’s event horizon. We could make up some metaphors for that: one is, the Sun and Moon in a conjunction can represent seeing the contrast between the two sides of the issue. The New Moon could represent some sea-change in the environment. But how exactly does that happen?

Well, it can — astrology often seems to describe social vectors that, ultimately, nobody can account for — like the spirit of revolution during Uranus-Pluto phases of history (the Sixties, and the Occupy Wall Street era).

An Underlying Issue: Family and Government

The Sibly chart is packed with family issues. Without getting technical, the chart to me looks like that of someone who receives an inheritance and then squanders it. The discipline to do something creative is just not there; rather, there is the imagery of a petulant child. I am seeing this described by planets concentrated in Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, all of which are currently under major transits.

Consolida, 56-x-76 cm, Watercolour on paper, by J.R. Shepherd.

Most people are dragging around generations of unresolved family material. In my experience working with countless people who are trying to make some progress in their lives, I know that most have not confronted their parents, or the truth of their childhood experiences and family background.

Said simply, at least in the United States, most people are running around with limitless mommy and daddy issues. They have not claimed their adult power. This is what we see going on in the relationship of the people and the government — and if the “home” work is not done, our relationship to the government will replicate the family environment.

In the Sibly chart, the 8th house is particularly emphasized: it contains Venus, Jupiter, the Sun and Mercury. This speaks of both great wealth, and also selling out (such as marrying for money rather than love, when really the thing one actually wants to do is play).

It is a fair statement that the United States population is a child that desperately needs to grow up. Grow up means being willing to be accountable to oneself, and to others; it means taking on the challenges of awareness and participation.

In our era, participation is not considered a worthwhile activity. Rather, we are currently in the trend of needing to be seen as influential and important people. The underlying reality does not matter much, as long as the illusion is there. That does not comport with participating and taking action; it’s the opposite condition.

Yet to take action, one must claim one’s knowledge. If that knowledge goes against the prevailing social trend(s), that alone can be a source of paralyzing conflict.

Speaking of the Moon

Let’s conclude with a discussion of the Sibly chart Moon, which tells us a lot about the underlying emotional state described by the chart. The Moon in a mundane chart (among other things) represents the public, and in a national chart, the public psychology.

The United States Moon is in Aquarius. This is a friendly, quirky Moon that has a gregarious nature. In an unevolved state, however, it can seek social approval at all costs. When fully developed, you end up with Kate Bush or Neil Young — strongly individualistic people who spend their lives going against the grain of society, and succeeding at it. Anyone who knows either of these artists loves them for their originality and their ability to speak to universal themes. Another was Diana, Princess of Wales, an absolutely distinctive person who lived by her own rules and was loved and respected by millions.

That is not the situation with the United States Moon. First, it is void-of-course — it’s not making any more major aspects to major planets before changing signs. That comes with the feeling of aimless drifting. In Aquarius, the directionless direction it will take is to revert to conformity.

‘Elaine-the-Fair’, Air, 2019, Oil on Canvas, 20″ x 30,” by J.R. Shepherd.

The Moon is conjunct Pallas Athene. This is the asteroid of politics, and reflects the American obsession with that topic, though it’s without any real impact or intent to make changes. While Pallas represents law and government, it also represents daddy pleasing. So the tendency to conform has the deeper need to make daddy happy. At the moment, that means whatever makes Donald Trump happy.

The Moon tends to represent a maternal influence, so this is the influence of a mother who wants to make daddy happy. That is the underlying “mother’s logic” of the chart. You can do anything you want, as long as you don’t challenge Big Daddy — such as by being a mature, self-determined person. The United States chart describes a matriarchy, not a patriarchy. But being void-of-course, it’s not doing the single most important thing that mother does for a child, which is set the boundaries of its ego, clearly defining self from other.

Down the River

It’s frightening that the “we the people” of the American chart is represented by that void-of-course Aquarius Moon. Right now, we the people need to challenge both the irrational logic of daddy pleasing, and whatever we think daddy wants from us.

This is a situation that can easily give rise to the kind of obsession with elitism that we are currently witnessing — as well as the hapless, pathetic groping for power that we see so much of on the individual and collective levels.

As a society, there is no easy solution to this. People grow up in one of two scenarios: either they want to, so they can claim their lives; or they are forced to by their circumstances to respond in a mature and thoughtful way, and develop only through pain and struggle. This is by far the more “popular” method.

Growing up voluntarily means means thinking for oneself, without being forced to. This is the grassroots activism we need in our time: a movement on the ground of people practicing independent thought. That means taking the risk of going against mother’s logic, pleasing daddy and making up your mind based on what you think others think is right.

For many reasons, there is no easy way out of this. In fact, if there is an “easy” way, it’s selling oneself down the river, as the expression from the mid-1800s goes. A reference to slavery, there is nothing easy about it.

I will leave you with a question, for my American readers and anyone else who wants to answer: when you think of the urgently needed changes in American society, what do you view as your role, personally?

With love,

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for June 2019 (#1248) | By Eric Francis Coppolino

Aries (March 20-April 19) — This month you will have a series of opportunities to confront your fears, particularly those associated with authority. This would count for whatever form authority may take, whether the most powerful corporate or government powers, or whoever lives with you in your bedroom. Yet if you do this in an aggressive way, you will only reap more of the same. Anger and attack thoughts lead to insecurity more than any other factor. They don’t even need to be expressed to have the effect of making you feel impotent or helpless; you are likely to take them out on yourself, which is the root of the problem. However, that can get to the point where you need to discharge the energy, and get it out of your own consciousness, which is what typically leads to directing it at others. This is where it’s necessary to pause, preferably before the temperature gets too hot or matters seem too urgent, which is now, early in the month. You have an opening to conduct a civil conversation, which is best begun when you have something to say. This may seem to take courage, where waiting until you’re frustrated, enraged or depressed does not. But this is not a reasonable tradeoff, as finding the inner strength to speak about what is troubling you can and usually does get a positive result. I suggest you do so sooner rather than later, and that you get to the underlying matter — not the relatively minor surface issue.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You’re in a delicate space of figuring out how your sense of the way that others perceive you undermines your confidence and self-worth. It is true there is a connection between the value you think others put on you and the value you place on yourself. That link is entirely in your mind, and you begin to lose the moment you make the connection. The loss of energy comes, among other ways, in the form of thinking that if you can only change someone’s perception of you, you can change the way you feel about yourself. Yet this verges on hallucination; it is all in your mind. And this is particularly challenging when the opinion you think you’re trying to change, or that matters, is that of everyone. The place your antennae must perk up is the moment you stake your self-worth on anyone else’s point of view. I don’t mean the value of a product you make, which has a relationship to one marketplace or another. I mean your value as a person. Even the most successful public figures have a hard time with this one. And now we are all living in the hall of mirrors of the internet, and many of us are heavily invested in social media. It may seem a contradiction, though it helps to seek understanding of yourself through relationships — by which I mean real ones; honest ones; ones wherein your value is tangible, to you. Yet even that will only get you so far toward coming to an understanding with yourself that only you can reach.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — In several crucial ways this month, you will play a supporting role in the lives of others. This is rarely a situation that is in balance: a great many people are either hardcore givers or takers. I’m talking about something different: investing yourself in a situation or circumstance that is not exactly your own, and working for an outcome that you may not directly benefit from, but which you understand needs to happen. To my thinking, this is the ideal modality for helping another person: a combination of involvement and detachment that adds up to true commitment. The bottom line of any situation you’re in is taking control over your sense of purpose. There is something here about doing things for their own sake, even if you “have to” do them. Once you have taken over why you are doing something, you have claimed the most important element of your creative power. You can then convey this into your sense of mission for anything you do in life. You will have freedom from various trappings associated with money (issues around doing things only for pay, doing them for no pay, and many gradients in between). As for assisting others (or someone specific) in immediate and upcoming scenarios: your role is to do what you can. That means what you have the time and energy for, and what you make time and energy for, because you can. This is different from coming in and saving the day. It’s different from sacrificing yourself. Be mindful of your potential role recruiting the assistance of others, and serving as a positive example.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Stay a few steps ahead of the many situations that are brewing in your life. Write the Boy Scout motto on your mirror, or put it on the home screen of your phone: Be Prepared. Your primary worldly and spiritual lesson at this time is that you are the leader of your own life. The way to not let anyone usurp or undermine your authority over yourself is not to hand it to them. This means choosing who you respond to, and how. It also means choosing the ways you confront others when that has to happen — and in this world, at this time, such is inevitable. Strategy guides, both ancient and modern, tend to recommend against going blow for blow. This necessitates clear thinking, and working with viable strategies. That, in turn, requires knowing your goal; knowing what you want — and then everything else follows from there. But you must hold your objective in mind. You determine the outcome you want (whether you get there or not), and you establish the steps on the way to getting there. Once you claim these crucial steps in the process of whatever you’re doing, you will find that it’s more difficult for others to hold power or undue influence over you. Therefore, keep making decisions. That is how you navigate through this world; it is your most awesome and sacred power. It is the difference between driving a car and falling asleep at the wheel. If you feel yourself getting drowsy and starting to nod off, or going into denial, stop, take a breath, take a nap, or eat lunch — and go back to making decisions.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Keep a close pulse on your fears this month. The challenge here is that fear is something most people would rather not think about, so they tend to push it under the surface of consciousness. I suggest you do the opposite, which is to bring your fears to the surface, and use them as a guide to your awareness. However, there is an issue at the moment in that we’re being pelted with reasons to be afraid pretty much around the clock. They seem to come from across your phone, every news feed and, most of all, from inside your mind. That is the real source of fear; it is a thought. Then one has a series of responses to that thought. Some objects of fear, held in the mind, seem rational, and many make no sense at all. Yet they are all the same, in the sense that they are mental phenomena. While it may seem odd to take fear as one’s teacher, on this plane of reality, we have little other choice. When you hear spiritual teachers talk about “working with shadow material,” this is what they mean: to pay attention to “negative” emotions including fear, guilt, anger and shame, all of which are related. Do you notice these feelings? Do you judge them? And what do you do with them? Your options may seem like taking them out on yourself, or taking them out on someone else. Neither of those is suitable. There are other possibilities.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Your chart describes high aspirations this month, though you will need to remember your manners. It will be easy to get into conflicts with friends and allies, and this does not help your personal or professional aspirations. What I suggest is that through June, you spend as little time in public as possible, and as much time doing the work you do the best. Your astrology contradicts that idea; the surface level has you out in public, moving and shaking. There will definitely be occasions for which you will want to get out, though caution in those environments is essential. Your emotional impact is far greater than you can conceive. People will respond to things you say in ways you did not imagine. Therefore, staying close to your actual work — the creative substance of who you are and what you do — will make much more productive use of your time. You want your work to have the impact and the influence, and it can, as long as you stay one step detached from its effects in your community. This is an important step in the life of any artist, writer, or person of social influence: to let your work speak for you, rather than you speaking for it. And before your work can speak for you, you must dig in and work out what you are doing, which can only come through a process of experimentation, revision and more experimentation. This process will drive your evolution forward, and it will have an influence that you may not see and can surely trust.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Be mindful of your relationships with those who have authority over you. This might include anyone from your boss to the government to a relationship partner. Some facet of the corporate world could also count — an insurance company, for example. You will want to be at your diplomatic best at all times, and stay way ahead of any developing situations. In other words, where you see the potential for confrontation, work in advance to defuse the conflict. If you focus and listen, you will be able to unravel problems before they go out of control. And if you find yourself in the midst of a controversy, or some situation where you need to take charge, you will have plenty of intelligence to work with. The most vital issue you can consider is how you treat your adversaries. Public image is of the essence. Make sure you address them with the utmost respect, or at least the appearance of respect. Speak in understatements, and use inference. Let the facts speak for themselves, without needing to argue for them with too sharp of a point. In terms of the politics of the situation, it’s not clear who is on whose “side” at the moment, and it would be wise not to take anyone’s loyalty for granted. You will need to let people stand the tests of both time and stress, and remember that in all situations, actions speak louder than words. Demonstrated example speaks louder than theory.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — In any negotiation process, make your expectations known, and inquire as to those of others. This is not a time to make assumptions, or to take anything on faith — and you will likely be inclined to do so. Therefore, be cautious. Take care to work out the conditions of the discussion in advance, on mutual terms. If you’re engaged in a conversation and you notice that the topic drifts outside of the agreed parameters, gently bring it back into bounds. This, too, is likely to happen. Persist in these methods any time something of value, or any commitment, is being worked out, even if it’s fairly small; there will be instances where the small points may count for more than they seem. What you are practicing is your words having meaning that is documented and therefore verifiable. If your words have meaning in this sense of the idea, then you are grounded in reality, and therefore have relevance. There are times when it’s necessary to take things on faith, or to ask people to take your position on faith, though this is not one of them. It’s the mental trend of our times to take everything on belief, with an emotional gust pushing behind it. Now and for the foreseeable future, your life policy needs to be a commitment to standing on the solid structure of thought and language. Not only are you vulnerable to being challenged, you could easily provide others the means to effectively challenge you on matters where it truly counts. Your strength is available in objective truth, not subjective opinion.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Be mindful of how your emotions are influencing you. This will be a special challenge, because often you think they don’t affect you at all. And at the moment, that power is rather invisible and, in most other ways, difficult to discern. So you will need to look for indicators of your overall mood, beginning with how expressive you feel. Use this as the primary metric of your mental health. Do you find yourself holding thoughts and feelings inside, or can you easily express what you need to say? If you’re usually a creative person, how is that going? Are you writing, drawing, making music or moving your body as you usually do? Or do you feel caught in some invisible morass? Another thing to check out is how the people around you are conducting themselves. Are they being reasonable and truthful? Or are they acting out in some way? Make sure you’re using documented observations to make this assessment, to avoid being persuaded by any bias you may have. Meanwhile, if you want to be more involved with life, the thing to do is to stoke your curiosity. This will work in nearly any form: artistic, mental, erotic, intellectual. You will find it satisfying to read old books on psychology, by authors like Fritz Perls, Eric Berne, Alice Miller, and other classic writers. Above all, you need to cultivate understanding of your situation, your growth process and your creative process. This is an active endeavor, not a passive one.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You’re not in the mood to be provoked, though people seem to keep doing it. Or are they? Are they merely being themselves, which on certain days is a little too erratic and emotional for you? There may be two different things going on: how people are conducting themselves around you, and how you are responding. With both Saturn and Pluto retrograde in your sign, your attention is likely to be inwardly focused; the inference is that you are engaged in some deep growth work that must be done in a solitary environment. Yet it’s also a position of what you might call maximum density, and can indicate resistance or unwillingness to change or even budge. In that condition, any irritant from the outside is likely to seem worse than it really is. How you respond to your surroundings will be an indicator of your mental and emotional state. In any event, there is something that seems external that is trying to get your attention. You can think of it as an element of your own awareness, or some facet of yourself that you’ve disowned or cast away. It could be showing up as someone’s desire for you or your attention. Or it might be manifesting as someone being provocative, assertive or aggressive. What matters is how you respond to this influence: what you call it, and what you think it represents. Since it’s likely to be coming from a person, consider who this person is to you, and what their presence in your life means to you.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Be mindful of your health this month, which will be directly related to your state of mind, or more accurately, your emotional state. You seem to be holding a lot in; that may be related to feeling like you don’t have a suitable way to express yourself, or you’re not noticing one that is available. With Saturn, Pluto and the Moon’s south node lingering around the most sensitive angle of your chart, it would appear that you’re trying to process something difficult and somewhat dark from the distant past. This has you extra sensitive, and other factors have you feeling like you’re pushing the limits of your emotional capacity. The best approach to this scenario is to find people around whom you can be easily conversant about your feelings and your overall situation. I suggest this be people who do not have a vested interest in you, or vice versa, as that tends to complicate matters and remove the objectivity that is necessary for a clear conversation. Consider the possibility that you don’t really know what you’re dealing with here, though the state of your body will be an indicator. Look to any form of irritation, inflammation or heat as a metaphor. Notice when a problem is cyclical. The nature of the cycle holds the clue to what the physical issue represents on the mental or emotional level, and also holds the most useful clue to how to resolve the problem on every level. You want a gentle approach that helps you unravel things gently.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Keep your energy moving outward. That is the message of Mars in Cancer, and many other factors. How you go about it matters, though. Not everything will help. For example, confrontation in anything but the most ritualized form (such as martial arts, chess, or writing to a politician) will be counterproductive and serve as a drain on your energy. Being truthful in an understated way will be helpful, as it will ease your sense that the world has no integrity whatsoever; at least you can express yours. What you really want to do is what you can feel. Painting, drumming, daily personal writing, and any honest sex that you can get will all feed your soul. While your professional plans may seem to be moving too slowly or not at all, work in the background while Jupiter is retrograde (which ends Aug. 11). Set up the conditions for success: efficiency with time and money, learning to direct your energy, and working with modest goals that you can more readily attain. Now is the time for a total reassessment of your larger goals or visions for both your professional life and your overall existence. Don’t rush this process. It will take until around the autumn equinox to get clear about what it is you want to be doing and why; what you don’t want to be doing and why; and what possible means you might use to get to your goals. Keep in mind, though, that as you attain genuine inner clarity, many of those means will present themselves and be within reach.

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