You Are the Burning Guitar

“Callings Falling” by Lanvi Nguyen.

INTELLIGENCE for Sagittarius by Eric Francis

Next year’s momentous conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn takes place in your 3rd solar house — the one associated with communication, community and commerce (and they are all related). We could sum this up as the house of messages; and as your ruling planet Jupiter meets Saturn, the result is a kind of embodiment of your ideas: about yourself, about existence, and about where the two meet.

This meeting for you is inherently social.

You have a natural advantage: you have Aquarius there, which pulls the social order into focus. Yet for this to work, you’re going to need to be bigger than it. That’s easy for you, as your sense of the world is so much greater than most people dare to consider. Yet you’re also a visitor here rather than a natural-born participant. Sagittarius is the most distant of all the signs; it’s associated not so much with everyday life on Earth, but rather with the cosmic origins of humanity. Sagittarius describes existence on the most colossal scale we can imagine: the center of our galaxy is located there, as is the center of Laniakea, the supercluster wherein our galaxy is placed.

But we are far from the Galactic Core, and our galaxy is on the very trailing edge of Laniakea. In one direction, it’s a great distance along the galactic trail to the Great Attractor. In the other, a vast ocean of deep space separates us from the Perseus supercluster. This describes you, and the feeling that creeps up on you occasionally: that you may be far from home. (Don’t miss my Jimi Hendrix story at the end of this chapter.)

Your astrology for many years has been focused on your survival. Pluto moving through the 2nd house of the archetypal Sagittarius chart is about self-sufficiency. This mostly relates to resources, though it also is about living your own philosophy regardless of who might or might not agree with you. Pluto in the 2nd has a lone-wolf quality of financial self-sufficiency. Yet that also translates to emotional reality, because part of how society maintains the ties that bind is that we depend upon one another.

You seem to be doing this out of necessity, particularly in a world where so few people prove to be dependable, whether with money or with their feelings. So this is a natural place for you to turn your attention inward. While this is an intrinsic enough posture for you, Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn in 2008 focused your intentions. And Saturn’s ingress about 10 years later, in late 2017, reaffirmed your orientation, and your idea that in this world, you must primarily rely upon yourself.

If your astrology means anything, you’ve been doing the deep work of individuation throughout these years, which may be reflected in both the outer story of your life, and your emotional journey inward. This work of individuation begins to bear fruit when Jupiter, the Sagittarius planet, moves into Capricorn in late 2019, and you get a sense of how much you’ve accomplished and how much you have to offer.

The part about how much you have to offer is a top-tier element of your astrology; as for you, it’s the essence of your self-respect, and assurance that you will have a mode of participation. It’s time to start transitioning in this direction, and finding out how much you have by offering more of yourself, from the very core of who you are and what you love. This is not an especially easy task on our planet, and you will need all the practice you can get. There are relatively few who give generously from the essence of who they are; there are many in need, and who are willing to take. This would make any sensible person nervous, though at a certain point you will need to enter this space, and learn the nuances of how to get an exchange going.

Yet the real challenge is vulnerability. Despite its reputation for aloofness and fierce independence, Sagittarius is one of the most emotionally sensitive signs. That means vulnerability, which you have a way of guarding with everything you have.

Your point of arrival in late 2020, at the time of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, is the community-communication-commerce house, Aquarius, the 3rd place in the archetypal Sagittarius chart. This is a place of exchange, of ideas and of resources, which is the very essence of community. You have, for a long time, come through the dangerous territory of learning to rely primarily on yourself, though part of the effect has been to harden you, and to enhance your tendency to withdraw into yourself. Your astrology has you on notice that this phase of your life is ending, and is becoming something different and, most likely, better.

Yet this trek through the 2nd house, Capricorn, has put you in a position where you have to be extremely resourceful, and where you must be able to depend upon yourself to survive. Before I describe what that looks like, let’s go over what some of those resources might be.

On the deepest level, you’ve learned to trust yourself. While this is a work in progress, you’ve put yourself in a position where you have to be able to stand on your own two feet, which is a prerequisite for being able to walk freely about the Earth.

You have entered a different relationship with the notion (and the reality) of depending on people in emotional relationships. Perhaps it makes it easier that you’ve had challenges understanding where people are coming from, and decoding their mixed messages. If most people are not reliable, then it’s difficult to depend on them. The benefit of their being so, however, is that you need the freedom to go your own way, when you want to. Most traditional forms of relationship are likely to be stifling to you, and you must invent your own reality.

You have sunk deep roots into the ground, which is all the more satisfying given that the terrain of the Earth is entirely different from what you experience traveling the subtler planes of reality, and what you know to be true. There is density here, there is gravity, and there are strange forces at play, which seem even odder amidst the solidity of three-dimensional time and space. Said another way, you are learning how to adapt. Because you have the ability to contrast this reality with others, you have a perspective that many people lack. The notion of spiritual is useless without corresponding grounding in the physical, mundane world.

You are becoming adept at handling the instability of the world at the current time. Usually you handle this with detachment; now you can handle it with involvement.

A Community of Individuals

The notion of a group depends upon individuals. Most things called groups are not so; they are really based on mass consciousness. A group is made up of people who have self-actualized, or who have put that calling above mindlessly conforming. It’s fortunate for you that you have, first, the ability to be single-minded. Sagittarius does not yield easily to what is expected of it. That has two potential effects: one is to push you into individuality; the other is to place you in a position of leadership, particularly on the level of ideas.

We know this about Sagittarius. Even in his “astrology rant,” Jim Morrison acknowledged that Sagittarius is “the most philosophical sign,” before dismissing astrology as bullshit; he makes my point for me beautifully.

Bear in mind that your destination is Aquarius. Of course there is further to go, and there is more to do — though Aquarius is a point of arrival after many, many different kinds of experiences. The environment of your life changes radically at that time, with emphasis on you coming out of your shell, and offering something to your community that nobody else can. While this seems to emerge in just under two years (Dec. 21, 2020), you need to be well ahead of this trajectory, like a pilot who is approaching her destination, coming out of cruising altitude, and entering final descent.

The strength of Aquarius on the community, commerce and communication angle in your chart bestows a sense of order, and a natural intelligence. By all rights, you are excellent at business, particularly on the basic level of getting things done and supporting yourself. Think of this as your foundation, a natural talent, like being able to sketch or ride a unicycle. If you don’t have access to it, it’s likely that you have not claimed it or developed it yet; in the coming years, you’re likely to.

There exist all kinds of aphorisms about the relevance of the immediate community: all politics is local. Think globally, act locally. You can’t buy happiness but you can buy local, and that’s kind of the same. And while we’re at it, no place is paradise.

However, as these years develop, you are likely to orient yourself on some place, and that place will come with the focusing of an in-person rather than merely digital network, and you are likely to have a leadership role there. This is not the kind of thing you need to do intentionally at this point, but rather be aware that your life is heading in this direction.

You have other territory to cross before you get there; in particular, what seem to be two separate processes connecting your creative life to your ability to sustain yourself financially. I am sure this comes as good news. The trend toward the gig economy is now working at full strength with no turning back. The internet is obviating the whole concept of a job. And you have things you’re good at, and that you love to do, and that you would love to connect to an income stream. While some activities are more challenging than others in this regard, where there is a will, there is a way. One key to success is finding an angle or niche that you develop that comes as close as possible to your true art. Then you keep refining that.

For now, let’s take the two processes separately, and then size up a kind of ongoing experience where you gain traction and the contact between what you value and what you express align in some sort of explosive way.

Following Chiron Into the 5th House

Perhaps the most fully self-aware long-term transit is the arrival of Chiron in the 5th house of the archetypal Sagittarius chart (the solar chart), which is also a potent influence for Sagittarius rising. Fire to fire means a trine; Aries focuses the influence of Sagittarius into the tropism to become yourself and to do so entirely. Chiron will enhance this in a way that nothing else has.

In fact, the past seven years of Uranus in Aries, your 5th house, have had an adventurous feeling to them, and have come with some breakthroughs — but there have been two problems. One is that Uranus can have a scattering effect on consciousness. It’s like the supposedly creative person whose mind flies off in a thousand directions.

Second is the combined effect that Uranus and Eris in Aries have, which is about driving people out of body, and distorting the relationship to the body; which is messing with everything. The fact that hardly anyone is noticing, or talking about this, does not argue for its irrelevance. To the contrary, what people are not tending to notice is the thing that you need to notice.

Chiron’s ingress into Aries is going to reverse this process, or at least heighten attention to it. For many it will be an extremely rude awakening — to come back into the body after so many years of being driven out (particularly for young people). I have covered this in detail in the Aries reading, though I will summarize here and make it specific to you, since for Sagittarius this is about the all-important 5th house.

Chiron through your 5th will continue the long meeting with many points in the 2nd, Capricorn. For many years, these two areas — Capricorn and Aries — have been playing off of one another, which has created tension between what you count as your value, what you count as your need to express yourself, and where they meet. More on that in a bit.

Think of Chiron entering Aries as coming out of the Matrix — the disembodied digital state — and suddenly remembering that you’re really just lying in a laboratory, traveling through existence in mind only. What would that person want to do? Well, most likely, go back into the illusion, because it was so much more interesting than living with the relative limits on physicality. The other option is to come back into body, and shed the whole electronic dream to some meaningful degree. That means accepting the pain and struggle and challenge of physicality; it means not rushing into the digital escape hatch. Know when you’re doing it! The feeling is, you can go and go and go, and there is no real challenge; no real daring element.

You have a way you can do this: which is to take up residence in the 5th house — for you, Aries. Where Aries lands in any chart is a place where there is deep potential for self-development; a case could be made that it’s an essential ingredient in finding true-self versus not-self. This is because Aries contains the ignition to personhood. It’s the meeting place where the unmanifest, numinous potential of Pisces meets the expressed and lived reality of our world, Aries.

Yet Aries has been the scene of being driven out of body and out of individuality (please see this article, as well as the Aries reading). This means that most of the opportunities of this zone of consciousness have been squandered. We have countless self-concepts, selfies, online profiles, online identities, avatars, handles, email addresses, blogs, websites and feeds — all of which distract attention from the core being who is you.

Chiron in Aries will pull focus to your 5th house. Trine your Sun or rising sign, this will be both easily accessible and easily missed — that is the nature of a trine. The 5th house is usually associated with sex and creativity, which are a good start: they would make a fine antithesis to the phantasm of the online world.

There are two facets to the 5th that set it apart: one is the quest for direct experience. The second is that there is a risk involved. So if you’re doing something and there is no direct, hands-on experience, and no risk, you’re not in the 5th house. Given the fantasy universe of the digital realm — which certainly shares one important property with the 5th: it’s all a huge video game (gaming is a 5th house thing, but the digital realm is risk-free unless you count identity theft) — the risk is going to be PHYSICALITY.

Now, this is physicality with a certain mindset connected to it. It’s possible to be in a physical sexual situation and still be immersed in fantasy. So if sex does not feel a little dangerous, or challenging, or edgy, it’s unlikely to be serving your purpose. Note that part of the daring aspect of eroticism will be a conscious element of self-exploration. Going past what is “appropriate” is also part of this. This need not be restricted to erotic experiences with official partners. But it needs to be away from the digital realm, with the possible exception of making art — though it would be entirely better if your art is in real time and real space.

You may seem decidedly less free in this realm. Errors are more difficult to correct; some may be impossible. You can get hurt, and not just a mental bruise. You can make a mess and then you have to clean it up; that is the nature of art. And the results don’t always match the way you imagined them. The lengthy, never-complete process of becoming an artist is that of gaining control over your material and your ideas, which is another way of mastering yourself. In this sense, you are the sculpture or the song; you are the poem or the performance. It’s not something apart from you.

If you don’t count yourself as having an art form, or a mode of personal expression, I would strongly encourage you to embark on one, and to do so promptly. In my experience, everyone has paints or a guitar or something in the closet or the basement. Writing projects count, though I would say they count for more if you print the work and share it with people in physical space — and always sign your name to it. Writing, to meet these specifications, would be of the kind where you are a little concerned what people will think about you if they read it. Writing, to count as 5th house, would need to reveal something that you cannot take back. If you write poetry, get yourself to an open mic and read it to an audience. If you play music, play it for friends, whether you think it’s brilliant or blah or “just you.”

The risk element is where the self-development piece comes from. Do what you can to get together with other people.

Self-Esteem Is an Earned Asset

Let’s return to the action in Capricorn — your 2nd place of self-worth and self-esteem. I have often had an odd feeling about the term “self-esteem,” or maybe the way that it’s used. These days it seems to be thought of as this mysterious, rarefied state of being “woke” to how beautiful and precious you are, which is only undermined by all the slings and arrows of the world, and the deeper conditioning to hate themselves that many people face every day.

First I want to recognize those whose respect for themselves has been intentionally stripped away, shamed or degraded by others. This has happened to many people — all of us, to some extent. Effective therapy practice teaches that there are steps we can take to back away from those who might continue to do this, and, more significantly, the tendency to do this to ourselves. This does not always work; there are many people who have accomplished great things and received many accolades, and who still feel like under-achievers. At its essence, this is a spiritual issue.

When I looked up “self-esteem” in the Etymology Online Dictionary by Doug Harper, I learned that it’s an old term (dating to 1615 or so). But then in the 19th century, it was popularized by phrenology, which assigned it a bump. A bump, that is, on the head, where the phrenologist could ostensibly read how much of it you presumably had.

This is the problem — it’s thought of as a thing; and you have it or you don’t (that’s how head-bump reading works). And just think — psychology is obsessed with a concept that existed before but was popularized by phrenology of all things. I guess too bad if you don’t have that little thing on your skull.

I would like to introduce a new concept, that of self-esteem as an earned asset. I recognize a potential controversy here — I’m proposing that one must earn feeling good about themselves. So be it. We need to be interested in the kind of self-esteem that we can take to the bank: that we can turn into respect for the work that we do, respect for our actual value to society, respect for what we know, respect for what we have built up over time. In lived reality, people who are able to earn money based on their talents are the ones who recognize those personal gifts, and develop them over time; and develop their reputation. This is not bestowed by a faerie godmother or by having a famous family name. Respect must be earned, and that includes self-respect — if it is to be real.

With Capricorn occupying your 2nd house, you’re the perfect specimen for this idea, and particularly now, with Saturn, Pluto, soon Jupiter, and several new discoveries moving through this region of your chart. Capricorn is the sign of things that are built and earned over time, such as canyons, governments and corporations.

It is associated with the traditions of the human experience, and for you, it can work as a personal guild system, where you enter as a novice (sweeping up ashes and fetching water), work your way up to apprentice (where you get your hands into the work, supervised by others), then become a journeyman (where you work on your own), and then to master (where you initiate and teach others, and eventually create a lasting legacy). Only imagine doing this with yourself, in all aspects of your life — though with a special focus on your creative talent.

This has been going on for a while, as Pluto has been driving an evolutionary inferno through this region of your chart since the summer of 2008. That process has been pushing you to develop a kind of self-reliance for all of that time, particularly striving to gain your independence from your family. Freud said that financial matters involved father issues and Jung said mother issues; Capricorn can switch-hit in this respect, and we can place it all under the general rubric of family. You may have made more progress than you think, though Pluto seems to have made a mess in its path.

Saturn and Capricorn work in two modes. One, as mentioned, is long-term, which can mean years or decades. Yet in addition, both reward initiative almost immediately as it is taken. And they reward devotion and sustained action as it happens. That’s the spot you’re in right now. Saturn is the ideal image of a process of learning and earning — and of claiming what is yours.

Speaking to the matter of where your recognition of who you are meets your self-respect meets your earning power, this is done accomplishment by accomplishment, whether large or small. In academia, this is often by degree. In reality, it’s not so simple, and it is more meaningful.

Here are a few thoughts and queries:

How do you treat your accomplishments? When you walk in the door to my apartment, you’re standing in a little hallway where I’ve framed many of my early achievements as a writer: a major investigative piece, my first horoscope in the Daily Mirror, an article about my work from The New York Times, an introduction I wrote for a book by the Parkers, and others. Every time I walk in, I am reminded of what I’ve accomplished, even if I don’t notice.

Make yourself some kind of achievement gallery. Give yourself credit for your milestones. Frame your art. Treat what you make with your hands with respect. You will continue to accrue self-esteem.

I am aware how challenging this is. There are so many forces that seem to be pulling us in every direction, but the most dangerous is out of the space-time continuum and into the world of fantasy. Bring yourself back in. Try to have relationships with these difficult-to-understand humans, and don’t let them drive you too crazy.

My Jimi Hendrix Astrology Story

About a year ago, on a Friday night, my studio phone rang. I leave my numbers published, and my work is known throughout the world; when the phone rings, it could be anybody.

It was an older man, someone who claimed to be an astrologer, old enough to have worked with many luminaries in the 1960s. He was well-spoken and earnest. People claim this kind of stuff all the time; I’ve been around a little, so I’ve heard plenty. I always listen carefully, applying the discernment I’ve cultivated both as an astrologer and as an investigative journalist.

Though I don’t believe astrologers should just go reading people without their prior consent, I went with it, took notes, and cast a chart for the event (I cannot find the file, but it’s still somewhere in my studio and I will find it and get back to you). Some things he said about me, rather eerily, came true — and he did not have my chart in front of him. He said he was scrying off of my full-page advert in The Mountain Astrologer.

One thing he said that I remember is that he worked with Jimi Hendrix, who I consider the ultimate Sagittarian (there are others, and I know a few personally, though of slightly lower voltage). He said it was Jimi’s belief that he came here to shift a vibration of some kind; to offer something that only he could offer, and to move on.

I am familiar enough with the various schools of electric guitar to say that Hendrix taught all of us who play rock music how to play. He created an entirely new sound, and then he would light his guitar on fire (put it on the stage, douse it with lighter fluid, and light it on fire; that’s a physical metaphor for how the guitar felt to him).

I suggest you be more like this: feel the fire in your hands (this is pure Chiron by the way). Light that guitar on fire. Feel the mission you came here with. Feel the message you came here to deliver, the vibration you came here to shift. Then do it. Take the chance. Get out of your own way and proceed in the most daring direction of travel.

Speaking of travel, I will leave you with a passage from the 2017 Sagittarius annual.

A few seasons ago, when I was researching Laniakea — which included an interview with its co-discoverer, Brent Tully — I experienced a kind of vision. I was dozing in my car along the side of a remote road in upstate New York, waiting for an appointment. It was early summer; a beautiful, warm, late afternoon, and my car windows were open. I dozed into half-sleep, the kind where lucid dreaming or astral projection sometimes happen. The vision was prompted by the sounds of birds’ wings fluttering in the woods nearby.

I was transported to a perspective where I could see, hear and feel a vast migration of souls traveling for eons along Laniakea. Fluttering through the cosmos, these souls were being drawn toward the center-point. Souls would land on a planet like birds in a park, activating that planet to sentient life.

Each star system and planet they land on produces a distinct and unique vibration, and thus a distinct experience of life. None is like any other. What we are doing here is something we can only do here, in our world, at this time. Then we rejoin the vast migration, making our way from galaxy to galaxy, planet to planet, having distinct experiences on each one. In our region of the universe, all of us are moving over time toward a vast pool of subatomic particles that contemporary scientists believe make up the Great Attractor. One might describe this as Shambhala.

I was shown no wider context for this migration. I was not told a purpose. I was only shown that it’s happening, and that we are part of it. Also it was clear that the notion of mastery involves learning what’s necessary on any given planet at any given time, and that this is our opportunity to learn what we can only discover here, in our particular place. Every place offers a different vibration and set of teachings, a different quality to which we must adapt.

You are indeed a traveler, and you have landed here, where you came to do what you can only do here. In the system of Esoteric Astrology, it’s interesting to note the planet that rules Sagittarius is the Earth. Therefore, everything about your existence, and your experience here on Earth, is spiritual.

So be it.

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