Dear Friend and Reader:
Lots of astrology happens in March 2014, and that happens to be the month that includes my 50th birthday. It’s also my 20th anniversary as an astrologer. It was on my 30th birthday in 1994 that I walked into Esoterica Books in New Paltz and purchased my first astrological ephemeris, the book that tells you where to find the planets on any given day, making astrology possible.
In this edition of Planet Waves I want to tell you what led up to that moment and share some of what I’ve learned in those 20 years, but first an announcement.
At 7 pm on Saturday, March 8, I will be hosting an event called Journey Through Space, co-sponsored by Chronogram, at BSP in Uptown Kingston (323 Wall Street near North Front Street). This is my birthday event as well as my anniversary as an astrologer. We’ll have music by Blue O’Connell, my astrology teacher (and improv pianist) David Arner and the electronica ensemble Home Body.
I am planning this as an initiation ceremony in the fashion of a concert at my favorite music venue.
I’ll be playing my first gig as a guitarist, in a duet with David and then later in the evening with my music teacher Daniel Sternstein and the BSP house band (Dan Votke on bass and Mark Ferraro on drums). By some odd coincidence, all of my astrology teachers are not just musicians but composers as well, so I thought a musical event would bring that full circle, or more accurately, full ellipse. (The similarities between music and astrology are a fun discussion; you may be hearing more about that soon, especially on the Music Appreciation Hour program.)
I can barely believe I’m turning 50 (everyone must say that) but it feels even more unusual to look back on two decades as an astrologer. I do mean 20 solid years, plus an approximately seven year warm-up. Barely a day has gone by when I have not done some serious research, chart casting, reading or writing on some astrological topic. If I have missed any days at all, there have not been many. I have a restless, curious, relentless mind. Astrology is always interesting, always new, always offering something useful and alive.
Early in my career as an astrologer, I became aware of Chiron, a planet discovered by astronomer Charles Kowal in 1977. It was the discovery of Chiron that helped guide astrology from its murky occultist days into the modern era as a healing art. Though many astrologers don’t use Chiron, all astrologers have felt its influence.
Chiron has a 50-year orbit, so when one turns 50, that is their Chiron return. When I was new to this work and its many challenges, both intellectual and human, I always kept a collection of people over 50 around me, that is, a number of Chiron return graduates.
I considered 50 to be one’s coming of age as a community elder, and over the years I have initiated many people into that status at the time of their Chiron return. Now by my own definition, I am about to become a community elder.
Mentorship is a primary theme of Chiron, as is conscious healing process, growing into self-awareness and the integration of diverse talents and gifts. When you think of Chiron, think “holistic” and “whole-system thinking.” Chiron is the point of integration; the junction where microcosm meets macrocosm, especially when it’s in Pisces.
I’ve taken two main approaches to astrology — the healing and personal growth angle, and an integration of astrology with writing about world events.
The spiritual and psychological dimension you’re familiar with in my horoscopes, and in my essays about relationships, therapy and ethical issues. Sometimes this involves the direct use of astrology; the rest of the time the discussion is informed by astrology, which is always working in the background.
I believe I’ve made a contribution to my field in this area of the work, especially in developing the use of newly discovered planets that tell the story of the human condition we face today.
However, I’ve gone a lot further with something else — the integration of the personal dimension with world events, and describing the spiritual implications of what we call the news. This has a long history.
When I got my first journalism job in January 1987, I was hired by a newspaper in central New Jersey called the Echoes-Sentinel. The editor, Florence Higgins, was an astrologer. I mentioned her last month — the lady who could shock the staff of all seven newspapers in the chain with rumors of Mercury retrograde.
The day I was hired, I was given the one available desk in the office, which had an astrology calendar hanging over it. This began for me what would become a permanent association between newspapers, news reporting and astrology.
The three writers at the paper would cover town boards, planning and zoning boards, land use and development. As we did that, all day long, we would be given updates by Flo about the condition of the planets. I would study the astrology calendar, trying to make some sense out of it. None of this got into print, but nobody left the Echoes-Sentinel without learning the basics of astrology.
I was also studying A Course in Miracles during this time, which is advanced training in spiritual psychology and healing. Flo read my chart, sold me my first tarot deck and my first set of runes, and basically got me started on the path I am on now. Nearly all of this took place in a newspaper office.
For the next seven years, I learned journalism working as a reporter and editor. I covered American Medical Association conventions, federal agencies like ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), liquor and beer marketing, education law, the nurse shortage and many facets of business reporting. My second boss at a pro journalism job, Joel Whitaker, had been on the editorial staff of The Wall Street Journal. From him I learned how to write a solid business story; one breakthrough moment was covering the acquisition of Tropicana by Seagrams.
In 1989 I came to New Paltz to do news reporting and poetry, and started a news service that covered the SUNY and CUNY systems and the goings-on in Albany that affected public higher education. All that time I continued with my spiritual and mystical studies, doing my best to reconcile these two seemingly different realities as I documented the contamination of the entire planet.
Then in late 1991, the PCB accident at SUNY New Paltz happened, and for the next three years I covered the cleanup and the cover-up, and expanded my investigation into Monsanto, Westinghouse and GE, the companies that created the mess. The Las Vegas Sun, the Village Voice, Sierra magazine, The Ecologist and many other magazines carried my articles. I developed a specialty in chlorine-based compounds and the history of PCBs and dioxins, and built a considerable portfolio covering scientific fraud.
To sum up that message, at the time that I started studying astrology, I did not revere science as a god, nor as a valid religion. It’s not that I inherently distrusted any scientist; all I needed was a good answer to the question, “Where’s your data?” That question is the single most important tool anyone needs when confronted by a scientist with an opinion about something, especially if that something kinda sounds deadly.
At some point in this era, someone suggested that I check out the horoscope in The New York Post. I wish I knew who that was, so I can thank her. I am sure she lived in the Hudson Valley and may be reading.
So I started picking up the Post and reading the horoscope — and I was amazed, day after day, without exception. The writer, Patric Walker, clearly had unusual gifts for both astrology and for writing. His daily entries were maybe 50 words per sign, but he could convey with detail the nuances of my inner thoughts, my environment, and advised me how to handle them.
Patric demonstrated to me that astrology was real. After about two years I could not stand it anymore. I had to know how he created these readings. By any rational logic, what he was doing was impossible. There was no way he could be able to say the things he was saying with such impeccable relevance and wisdom, in a horoscope column. Yet he was actually doing it.
On my birthday in 1994, I had my deposition taken by the state Attorney General’s trial division. I was in the process of suing SUNY New Paltz in federal court.
I am not sure what they were thinking when they declared me persona non grata for my reporting on their PCB and dioxin problem — maybe that I would suddenly abandon my search for truth and justice for the students who were defrauded into living in those dorms.
What they got was a federal summons and complaint, and a year of litigation that ended with an apology that my civil rights had been violated, and a significant cash payout to me — something that the state does not do. The lawsuit received national press coverage in The New York Times.
Still wearing my suit from the deposition, I walked into the bookstore with my then-girlfriend and collaborator Hilary Lanner-Smith, and bought the Rosicrucian Ephemeris of the 20th Century, purchased The New York Post and that evening started studying astrology. Yes, in the ancient astrology text known as The New York Post.
After my 20-year world tour covering astrology and teaching at conferences, teaching engagements at places like Omega Institute and mentorship with many noted astrologers, studying Patric Walker remains the single most valuable learning experience I’ve had as an astrology student. And I got that information from a tabloid newspaper, for twenty-five cents a day.
One year later I began writing the Planet Waves horoscope. When I took up astrology, still deeply immersed in my environmental reporting, I did so consciously bringing in a world-wise ethos. I was accustomed to documenting the veracity of my words with thick binders full of research. I put that same depth of inquiry into astrology, digging into its history, tradition and modern practice.
I used my journalistic skill of seeking out knowledgeable people and put that to work, making contact with those who I considered to be the brightest astrologers in the world.
As for my writing, astrology gave me the chance to be personal; to relate to people about human concerns in a very basic way. I learned the most important thing of all from Patric Walker: speak to one reader, not to a group of them. To write a meaningful horoscope, use the same tone as a letter to a trusted friend. It was exactly this kind of personal contact I was looking for when I changed tracks from investigative reporting to astrology.
Almost immediately, I began applying astrology to world events — that is, the charts of news events, people in the news and trends of all kinds — particularly social trends and the cycles of history.
This has been done before, but I have often found it confusing, too technical and lacking in a compelling narrative. So, I set out to tell a relevant story that anyone could understand. I am not sure I succeeded (the first use of the word “conjunction” can scare some people away) but I have done my best.
Integrating astrology into the news provides several benefits, the main one being context. Astrology allows one to see the connections between events, and to follow a contemporary event along a story-arc into the past and the future.
Using astrology, no single incident stands alone; it’s connected to everything and everyone around it. Astrology reveals the web of life, and the karma that underlies situations. If you know where to look, astrology points to how we can personally take action.
I consider this a model for how to make the news relevant to people, and a new approach to community-based journalism. What we think of as the news has a really serious problem: it’s alienating and usually irrelevant. I challenge you to read any newspaper article in something like The Wall Street Journal, or watch cable news for an hour, and tell he how most of what you read or see is actually meaningful.
Interconnection and context allow the inclusion of the reader into the scenario, whether it be an understanding of the emotional impact, of the cultural changes implied by a development or how an individual can adapt to the opportunities and the demands of the present moment.
Looking at the charts for spring 2014, I think that news astrology is going to have its moment. There is going to be a lot of news — and a lot of astrology lurking underneath it. The process begins to take shape with the Mars retrograde that starts on March 1 (Mars chose the first day of its own month to station retrograde). And it comes to a peak in late April with a grand cross and a potent solar eclipse a few days later. Look for coverage of that in the April Chronogram and check in with Chronogram’s 8-Day Week or PlanetWaves.net for immediate updates.
And if you happen to be in the neighborhood or feel like making the trip, I look forward to meeting you at 7 pm on Saturday, March 8, at BSP in Kingston.
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for March 2014, #988 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — You seem to be holding onto a lot of energy that you absolutely must express. I don’t mean a modest amount of energy; I mean on a volcanic scale. Energy always finds a way into manifestation. Given what you’re working with you must take up the power of directing it in a constructive way. That’s not a given, and there are no guarantees. The closest you can come is a commitment to yourself to be aware from moment to moment where you focus your mind, particularly in your intimate relationships. You may need some time away from a partner, or space to experiment in entirely new ways. Any relationship is likely to either feel the stress or come along for the journey, though I suggest you not try to push or drag anyone into what is inherently about you alone. If you value the relationship, be honest about what you’re experiencing and negotiate the space you need. At the heart of the matter seems to be an experiment in emotional independence for the purpose of exploring and experiencing life in ways you may have long dreamed of. This will not be a predictable process, and once you admit that it’s happening, you will be on a journey with a life of its own. Or rather, a journey of discovering, perhaps once again, that you have a life of your own.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may feel like you’re trying to fit your ideas about yourself through a tiny opening — as if it’s impossible to have enough context to make a real decision about who you are or what you want. The tight space you’re going through will help you prioritize and focus. Think of what you’re doing as making micro-decisions, and consider any choice or adjustment a microcosm of the whole. It’s not merely that small choices add up to larger direction. Rather, each stems from a larger idea of what you want. There is tremendous power contained in reckoning these details and seeing their relationship to who you are. It’s easy to think that our lives hinge on the huge decisions we make. Yet even the most monumental changes of direction require many small adjustments to make them real. Therefore, you can think of each little observation or maneuver as an affirmation of who you are and what you want. This can involve the details of what you eat, how you spend money, how you spend your time (especially that) and where you invest your emotional energy. Your charts suggest you’re at a major crossroads that may not come across as such. You may have no specific validation — yet. Therefore, live well and live consciously, and trust that you’re coming around one of the most significant turns in many years.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Situations that were puzzling or seemed impossible will start to make more sense — in direct proportion to how weird they seemed before. In particular the last few days of February into the first few days of March may have that sensation of walking on the ceiling, playing music backwards looking for the secret messages or waking up being able to perform magic tricks that you don’t remember learning. Or, alternately, if you find yourself in a crunch point where you feel like you have no clue how to handle yourself, pay attention to how quickly your environment is changing. Then, adapt from moment to moment. That’s your specialty anyway, but usually you do this in autopilot mode. The challenge of the moment is doing everything manually, taking each breath consciously, and noticing the unusual openings that may come in the most mundane transactions. Many of those will be interior. The adventure of Mars retrograde in your 5th house makes possible a creative and sexual self-discovery experience like nothing you’ve ever felt. Your ability to experience life from both sides of the coin, your curiosity about the dynamics of desire and power, and a rare moment when you will allow yourself to say anything, well, it will all add up to a bold few months — as bold as you want. In fact, you may open doors that you’ll never want to close.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — With all the activity now unfolding in Aries and Libra, you may feel like your life is hanging in the balance. Yet you have plenty of influence over which way things go, you are protected by forces that may seem too large to see, and best of all, you are opening up to the people close to you. One theme that stands out in your charts is making peace with women, and if you are a woman, you may include making peace with yourself. There appears to be a trust issue that has been pushed beyond the point where you can ignore it, or live peacefully with the question unresolved. Part of this involves trusting yourself. Part is about trusting people to be transparent about their agendas and true to their own values. Bear in mind that the chaos and confusion so many people are in is not of their own making. It was imposed on them. Yet as a person comes of age and attains both adult power and responsibility, the option to step out of that pain and turbulence opens up. If your life is in the balance, it’s over the question of whether you can admit your deepest truth to yourself. That is, you may cycle through a diversity of desires, ideas and feelings which may at times seem to conflict. Actually each is a different facet of the same truth of who you are.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Your most intimate relationships are in transition, which means you’re being called upon to be especially flexible and resilient. One particular idea comes under the microscope — that of ‘the perfect marriage’. I believe there is such a thing, indeed I have evidence that there is. The perfection comes not from the static quality of the relationship but rather from its ability to grow, to change and to transform with the people involved. There must be a mutual commitment to healing; mutual respect for each person’s physical and psychic integrity. With that includes recognition of free choice in all matters, especially relating to the partnership itself. I recognize this violates most of the commonplace definitions and concepts of marriage, which seem to be focused around rigid concepts and presumption of ownership. That model is not going to survive the onslaught of the 21st century, and your life is too full and too rich to be constrained by any factor not of your choosing. Here is the challenge: when established structures change, there needs to be a new set of ideas and guidelines to replace them. Those are best if driven by what the people involved agree to as their bottom-line, most essential values. Any relationship between two people will either be based on a dominant-submissive model, or based on consensus. Consensus is based on mutual values. That is the starting point and that is the destination.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You must focus on the question of what is real and what is not. This will not be as obvious as it seems. I suggest you not assume you have this one right, no matter how confident you feel. Indeed I suggest you not assume anything, and make careful note of the facts of the situation. Opinions can be deceiving, and it’s essential to recognize them when you experience them. Facts are statements that can be documented and proven true or false. They are not about an emotional rationale or persuasive feeling; whether a fact stands up comes down to the data that supports it, preferably collected over time. The first area of your life to go over carefully is your relationships with loved ones, friends and partners. Do you have any outstanding commitments to them? Is there anything that got lost in the shuffle of the past couple of busy months? Is there anything you need to clear up? If you have made yourself invisible or have gone below the radar, if you’ve left facts out of the story or are avoiding anyone, now is the time to engage with them in a meaningful way. As you do this review, I suggest you consider the way in which your self-esteem may be influencing you. Consider how you act toward others when you’re feeling good about yourself and when you’re not. Your observations may surprise you.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Mars is about to station retrograde in your sign. That spans from March 1 to May 19. The retrograde process actually reaches back to early December, when Mars first entered Libra. So if you notice any shifts, changes or shakeups in the coming week or two, take the story back to late last year. The theme of this retrograde is profound self-discovery, though it may seem at first that others are the forum for what you learn, and you are the forum for their learning. That will work for a while, as you explore your inner dynamics within the context of a relationship. Yet as the retrograde progresses, you may feel the need to have certain experiences on your own. The forces involved are too powerful to cling to anyone or anything. If you feel a need, desire or obligation to maintain a connection or commitment, make sure you proceed in a way that is open and honest, and most of all, that works for you. If your personal needs require you to shift the pattern of relating, do so in a way that preserves trust and your options in the future. Said another way, you can live your life without burning your bridges — something you would come to regret. Your emotional involvement with someone may be intricate and delicate, and that calls for special handling, high awareness and always — always — remembering who you are.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Fear is a fact of life on Earth, the planet of eat or be eaten. How you handle your fear is not a given; you have many options. How you exercise them will make a difference. Let’s start with the basics: fear is a form of energy and it points to a deeper energy source. If you treat it that way, and seek understanding of what is not immediately obvious, you will learn that fear does not need to be debilitating, and that in fact it can be empowering. The first thing to do is let your fear speak. Get the message of what it’s saying. Translate it into terms that are clear, and that lend themselves to decisions. You’re likely to feel the most panicky when you feel like you lack the power to choose. Therefore, information that leads to a state where you can make decisions is what you want and need to have. Indeed, we could call this the theme of the entire Mars retrograde. This is a set of transits intimately linked to you because both of your ruling planets — Mars and Pluto — are so directly involved. When this fully takes shape in late April, you are likely to feel some serious pressure to make progress on many things you have set aside or left for the future. The thing to remember is to get the information you need in order to make an informed decision, and then another.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Don’t worry if you think people don’t like you, or if you’re having some difficulty managing your social relationships. I suggest you take the events of the next few months as an extended opportunity to learn where you really stand with people, and also to learn how to build your overall standing in the community. I don’t mean your popularity — I mean real things like trust, dependability, loyalty and the willingness to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s going to piss off some people. Though you have it in you to be the supreme diplomat, you are also a Sagittarius, and your sign is equipped with a sharp edge. Still, it may be necessary to err on the side of asserting yourself. Do that firmly, directly and with understatement. Be a keen observer for passive-aggressive tendencies in yourself or in others. The ‘passive’ part is just a ruse for the ‘aggressive’ part, so get underneath that if necessary and suss out the source of that energy. Meanwhile, any relationship or encounter can lead to contact with anyone. That’s a good incentive to say friendly things about people, and a reminder that in your life, the usual seven degrees of separation between you and any other person is about to be reduced to one or two degrees of separation. The world is small, and it’s getting smaller.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You will be summoned to leadership in the coming months, perhaps immediately. Events and your own desire for integrity and achievement will give you the opportunity to exceed your current abilities and expectations of yourself. What you must be cautious of is any moment when you’re doing something that cannot be reversed. This could be applied to many different situations, but I really mean decisions from which there is no going back. Despite that, you will need to be bold, and I suggest you assert that by listening to people you respect and taking what they say under advisement. That does not mean ‘take all advice’, it means consider what people say. This is basic politics and it’s also common sense. Speaking of politics — know who your allies are, and put them to work for you. Seek their assistance, and make sure they know how much you appreciate their contribution. Leadership is not all about the leader — it’s all about the people who surround and interrelate with that person. You want one or two people who are not afraid to disagree with you, assuming you have determined they are intelligent and respectful. When life is coming at you from all corners, make sure you have those corners covered. At the same time, you will command respect by standing on your own and never shrinking from a decision.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — There are those moments when you’re sure it’s the dark night of the soul — when you have no sense of direction, and when you doubt whether you have the strength to go on. But lately, you are experiencing these junctures as something more like a nearly impossible alchemy of transformation. This process goes as deep into you as anything ever has. No matter how challenging your inner life may seem (speaking of the next three months or so), or how isolated you may feel from time to time, you have a truly amazing phase of your life approaching when you can change everything by changing yourself. Or rather, you will be given all you need to make deep inner changes, which will manifest in your seemingly outer life. You may feel like you’re making only slow progress on your journey to self-knowledge and personal healing. Yet with these things, what you have is less important than what you do with them. If you use the self-knowledge you have gained, you will inevitably build on it. If you trust the process of your healing and allow that commitment to guide you in all of the decisions you make, you will advance your healing dependably. As you move through this territory, I have one suggestion. Be bold, and keep no secrets from others. Then be even more daring and keep no secrets from yourself.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — This monthly column marks my 20th anniversary as an astrologer and my 50th anniversary being on the planet. I’m happy to have made it half a century, though I am equally grateful to have devoted two decades of my life to daily study of, writing about and teaching astrology. I’m especially grateful to be a Pisces astrologer, because to me that means I have an understanding of all the rivers (that is, the signs) that flow into the ocean. The Sun is now in Pisces, and is making conjunctions to Neptune and Chiron in our birth sign. That means the waters are flowing freely at the moment, and it happens to be the season of your birthday. This setup means that you have equal access to intellect and intuition; to creativity and healing ability; to your expressive gift and your ability to receive and to listen. Make sure you put all these factors consciously into the mix of your life. Don’t leave anything out. You know you’re on a mission, and I suggest you give this everything you have, and make sure you collect the rewards of your efforts as you go. You are the specialist at long-range planning and deferred gratification. I suggest you adjust that slightly, focus on bringing what you’ve worked on forever to fruition, allow it to feed you and continue to learn whatever you can from anyone who is successful.