“I’ve got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style.”
— The Man from Another Place, from Twin Peaks, Season 1, Episode 3, 1990
Dear Friend and Reader:
In astrology, Jupiter represents style trends, among many other things. The largest of the planets (1,200 times the size of Earth) orbits our Sun in about 12 years, exerting so much gravity on our central star that the Sun oscillates as Jupiter tugs on it. By the way, you can tell that to anyone who claims that the obstetrician exerts more gravity on the newborn baby than does Jupiter (by which logic astrology cannot possibly be true). I’ve never seen a doctor cause a star to wobble.
I don’t think astrology is based on gravity, though. Reading the charts is the art of reading symbols, whether they have any mass or not. That factors with no mass, weight or size can have an influence is plainly obvious. For example, what is a ‘sign’? It’s a direction in space. Is there really a young woman up in Virgo?
In our minds, there is. Virgo is the astrological home of the Goddess. It’s true that other signs are ruled by Venus and that Virgo is ruled by Mercury, who is androgynous. But you might think of Mercury in this capacity as a servant of the Goddess, capable of doing something that’s nothing less than tantric: bridging the gap and opening common space between maleness and femaleness.
Last week, Jupiter arrived in Virgo. It was last in that sign between August 2003 and September 2004. Those were difficult times, at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, during the first term of the Cheney-Bush presidency.
Despite the rawness of emotions and the still-open and infected wound of the Sept. 11, 2001 incident, there was a feeling in the air: we must do something about this.
I don’t miss the Cheney-Bush presidency, but I do miss the spirit of devotion that was infused into the peace movement, especially in the form of documentary journalism.
That is to say, actual thought, analysis and reasoning, mainly emerging on what was then a much smaller, simpler and decidedly less commercialized Internet.
In traditional astrology, the sign and concept Virgo represent food and the places where food is stored, in particular, grain and dairy. For modern humans these are essential. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun passes through Virgo during the time of harvest, when the crops are coming in and being processed, preserved and stored. This is a central concept of civilization; the difference between humans roaming around as small bands of hunter-gatherers, and humans as the dwellers of towns and cities, is our ability to grow and preserve food.
By a series of associations, Virgo in modern astrological thought includes service, medical care, healing and teaching. In my experience there is a larger concept: Virgo, and the axis it forms with its opposite sign Pisces, represent the holistic principle. Everything is related to everything else. When we really want to address a situation or problem, it’s helpful to invoke whole-system thinking: that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Any aspect of the environment can also influence the whole environment.
Said another way, what we think of as physical and spiritual are aspects of the same thing, accessible through one another. This idea is slowly catching on. For example, a scant few people are starting to notice how they feel after drinking two liters of diet soda, contrasted with how they feel better after drinking some water. The ‘mind-body connection’ is a popular phenomenon most easily found in yoga.
In astrology, the concept of an axis of two signs — in this scenario, the Virgo-Pisces polarity — is essential to understanding just about anything. What we have with Jupiter in Virgo is the planet representing Pisces visiting its opposite sign.
This is relational; it’s an image of seeming opposites morphing together. It’s an image of fertility — of the cosmic waters of Pisces soaking into the earthy territory of Virgo. Virgo and Pisces depend on one another, as do all the opposite signs. Now we get to experiment with what happens when there’s a real mutual union between them.
Why I say mutual is that Chiron is presently in Pisces. Chiron does not ‘rule’ Virgo, as it was not a factor in classical astrology. But it’s certainly a representative of Virgo, in terms of Chiron’s devotion to service, healing and teaching. Chiron is still on its long but not long enough visit to Pisces (spanning from early 2010 through early 2019). This invokes the ancient astrological concept of reception — Chiron in Pisces and Jupiter in Virgo are vibrating together, receiving one another’s energy.
Planet spotters can note that the exact oppositions between Jupiter and Chiron will take place on Nov. 3, 2015, Feb. 23, 2016 and Aug. 12, 2016. These dates represent potential thresholds, turning points or peak moments in whatever relationships, projects or transformations are represented by the Virgo-Pisces dynamic.
Let’s add one more thought — Jupiter also represents Sagittarius. So therefore, clever, practical Virgo is also being infused with the at-once worldly and unworldly wisdom of Sagittarius. This will expand the scope of Virgo, giving it a wider range of perception and more tools to use in its journey of healing and service. Jupiter also stands for the benefits of whatever we do. With Jupiter in Virgo, it will be easier to consider the benefits of taking care of one another and taking care of the planet.
I have an official sign description of Virgo, which I recently saw quoted somewhere:
“Virgo is a mentally oriented, highly intelligent, nervous sign that needs to remember it’s made of the element earth, not air. That’s another way of saying that your life is a constant process of translating from idea to reality and back. Ideas are not enough. Yours is not the sign of science but applied science.
“The difference is similar to that between working in theoretical physics and learning how to be a master baker, or using your skill in chemistry to be an expert hair colorist. Applying ideas can be challenging because the mental world changes so much faster than the often-stuck dynamics of the physical world, and we’re often at a loss for how to translate between the two. That would be your job: to identify ideas and how to apply them; to match up problems with corresponding solutions.”
Of all my concepts of Virgo, applied science is my very favorite one. This resonates with an idea offered by Woodstock-based therapist, philosopher and gem-cutter Joseph Trusso, who has Virgo rising: Use what you know.
Imagine all that wisdom flowing into Virgo by way of Sagittarius and Pisces — that’s a lot of opportunity to apply the things you’ve learned to the life that you’re living, and to the world situation.
The world situation is so dire that most people seem to have given up doing anything about it, or even wanting to think about it. There seems to be maturity and wisdom in the notion that you can’t do anything anyway.
That idea, of course, is bait for apathy and inaction: so why bother? Rather, just take care of yourself, feed your habits, and either a) trust that everything will work out for the best or b) that nothing drastic will go wrong. Have a good time; don’t worry about anyone who has it worse than you, because that’s bad luck. It seems as the divide between the haves and the have-nots grows more canyon-like, people think they have to take sides. And given the chance, most would side with the haves, even though they’re not one of them.
Meanwhile, I am often amazed when I think of the number of self-help books that have been sold and read, reaching the top of the bestseller lists, and the healing workshops that have been taken by so many people, and the years and years of spiritual practice engaged in by millions of people — and meanwhile we are still witnessing the world in what appears to be a serious slide into the abyss, much of which is emotional.
It’s also true that wars and wildfires are raging. Major economies are wobbling. The wealthy are gobbling up things like $100 million Manhattan condominiums as investments that they plan to leave vacant. There exist a vast number of people with so much wealth they seem to have no idea what to do with it. The reality is that doing something with it — that is, taking an active role in the world, and focusing one’s mind on what we might contribute — directly contradicts the way of life of possessing, amassing and keeping. This too is largely about matters of spiritual and emotional healing. Many seemingly different topics are drawn in, like survival, death, how we treat the other, and how far our scope of existence expands into time and space.
Said another way, do you think you’re part of something larger than yourself? Do you notice the extent to which your environment actually does nourish you? What is your role in the exchange?
When we talk about the concept of using what you know, and applying the wisdom you’ve gained from so much study and reflection, we’re talking about action; that is, what you actually do. There seems to be a contemporary concept that in living the best way I can, I am doing all I can. In being the best person I can be, I am doing what I can. That is true, if we’re talking about the beginning of the process, not the end.
The idea that “we’re all in this together” has taken a beating in recent years. It is directly contrary to the prevailing political views of our time, which are all about being rich, getting richer, laws which favor only the extremely wealthy, and elections determined more and more by money rather than issues. This is largely on the political level, but applying the holistic principle, we can see that politics is a method of organizing not just society but thought, and the frameworks of ideas — that is, the ideas that make up who we think we are, and therefore how we should act on any given day.
Using what you know is the same as the spirit of service. That might be in service of what actually makes sense for you personally, or what makes sense for you to do within a wider concept of your environment. It means not pretending to not know what you do know, i.e., recognizing the problem with denial. The fact that denial is such a popular mental habit does not mean that it’s good for you or for anyone.
But it takes real focus and intention to come out of denial (and dealing with what you denied). You might say that’s the whole purpose of spiritual training, of therapy, of community work, of political participation, of nearly anything that requires you to say to yourself, “Yes, I get it,” and to then take the next step of doing what makes sense in the context of knowing; of getting it.
I would propose here and now that a great deal of the pain or discomfort or fear or depression that you may experience from time to time, or often, could be resolved by “getting it” and doing what makes sense in that context.
Said another way, not feeling good is often the result of not doing what you know is right. It’s possible to feel much better about yourself, by which I mean to feel better, by acting in the way that you know is correct — and teaching yourself to do so consistently. Habituation is essential in change of viewpoint, attitude and action. Young people are taught by habit, and older people must remember to learn by habit. This is of course difficult for people who relish being ‘set in their ways’.
The 1960s were an extraordinary time in history. I don’t want to romanticize them but there was, in fact, a spirit of awakening and of action and participation. It was not all hallucination and revelry; for many, there was a bold practicality to that era, coupled with the sense of urgency for action. The notions that we’re all in this together and that we share a common space, and of doing something with what you know, were more widely practiced.
The essence of 1960s astrology involved Virgo and Pisces. There were many breakthroughs in that era, and in some ways we are still riding on its coattails. I think the most significant experience of that era was the actual sensation that we’re all in this together.
We still are. And the idea that we are has never counted for more than it does today. It may be easy to live in a bubble, but I assure you, it’s lonely and eventually you’ll run out of air. Meanwhile, it’s very likely you know exactly what to do, because you’re called to do it every day.
Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 #1063 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Your desire seems to be pulling you in two directions. The way it looks astrologically is that being passive is not working as well as it usually does. By this I mean you know you have to assert what you want, though you often end up just allowing things to happen; this in turn leaves you with people, things and circumstances that you don’t necessarily want. The other direction is newfound confidence in bold experimentation with desire. You have the moxie to go for what you want, by which I mean who and what you want. This involves taking various risks, such as rejection, or discovering that you don’t like what you discover. I suggest you allow a spirit of curious adventure to override all such concerns. Tempt yourself with what is possible. Allow yourself unfettered desire for exactly what interests you, be it someone or some creative endeavor. You will discover that this is a very different approach to life than hoping what you want notices you, or responds to your signals. Quit the Morse code and just plunge into the experiences that you want.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — The Sun’s ingress into Virgo is an invitation to explore your ideas, bringing your body along. You’re being called beyond the mental experiment, and into the journey that you take with your hands, your senses and your sense of adventure. Treat any hesitation that you may feel as an ankle-high fence that you could hop over with one leg if you wanted to. You may have the sensation that your emotional experience will not translate into a specific form of expression that you want. I would propose that the most significant use of your emotions is for motivation; feel your energy in motion and embark on a conscious experience. You will tend to believe what you tell yourself, so therefore use language that describes curiosity, desire and craving for truth that goes beyond some concept of what is supposedly true. Use discipline gently as a tool fully under your control; return to any activity daily if you want to make it part of your life. What you’re experiencing is not a temporary phase but rather an opportunity to reorder your priorities and access a deeper level of what some call talent.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — If the potential expressed by your ancestors was really the thing that limited you, you would have little to look forward to. Therefore, I suggest you use what your parents and grandparents accomplished as a baseline; as a kind of low-water mark that you were born to exceed. Much of what you know about their lives involves the struggle that they went through. You may have some feeling that in order to honor them, you have to honor that struggle, which may mean attempting to repeat it on some odd, unconscious level. Actually, their modest achievements are what has opened the way for your greater ones, including happiness that exceeds what they believed was possible. I would call your attention to an issue that is passed on from generation to generation: jealousy as a birthright. As twisted as it is, toxic, competitive envy is often handed off from parent to child as some kind of unalienable privilege. It’s nothing of the kind, and I suggest you replace it with the wholly positive response to what others do and what they have. Think of any good thing you see as the expression of your own potential, because that’s what it is.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Events this week may take you past a personal limitation you’ve felt, particularly one involving your privacy. Or rather, your perception of what is to be private and what is to be public. I would propose here that these are merely mental concepts, since eventually, everything is known. For you the question is: do you harness more energy by trying to seal up and sequester your personal truths, or by revealing them? Think of the region of your psyche that contains what you might conceal or reveal a battery, full of energy. You get to use that energy any way you want, though you can only tap into it if you’re real with yourself and with others. To put it in somewhat hokey (but no less true) New Agey terms, your truth is your power, and you get to use it any way you want. Any form of accessing one’s true power requires at least a moment of daring, as it well should. You’re now being invited to do just that. Remember, if you ever get stuck, opening up a little goes a long way — and opening up a lot can go even further.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — If you want to improve your financial situation, be more generous. This counts for yourself and with others, in that order. Your astrology bestows you with a natural obsession with money, which may manifest as anything from being hyper-cautious, to thrifty, to a spendthrift; none of these are really virtues. None of them reflects the deeper underlying nature of money, or of resources. You tend to over-think things, rather than allowing your ingenuity to work for you. It would help if you thought in larger, wider ways about your potential and about the amount of whatever you need being available to you. One thing that might help is noticing every time you encounter a thought of lack or scarcity. Ask yourself whether that’s really true, which may in turn lead you to ask yourself how you came to that conclusion. What facts support it, and which suggest that something else is possible? There is a belief that wealth is created by pinching pennies. Actually, it’s created by efficiency and the conscious use of resources. To this end, interesting ideas count for a lot. And so does letting things flow.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — The Sun is about to join Jupiter in your sign, ushering in what may be one of the best birthday seasons in years. Mercury, the Virgo planet, is also in your sign, and you have a lot going for you — this is not an illusion of some kind. Yet you may be feeling anxious or hesitant. This appears in your solar chart as some form of not knowing what you want; at the same time you may feel overly aggressive about wanting something you’re not sure you want. What they have in common is the way you manage desire, which is the most potent force in the human realm. As you may have noticed, very little can stop you or anything when you really, really want it — which is why many different philosophies try to define desire as a bad thing. Whether good or bad, desire exists, and you can think of it a little like voltage. Electricity must be managed carefully or it becomes a dangerous force of nature. But used with awareness and intention, it can be applied to nearly any need. Your desire is that strong, so be clear what you want and what you don’t want — and notice when others try to impose their will on you.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You’re headed for a deeply meaningful personal encounter of some kind, though it’s different than you may be expecting. In case you’re inclined to worry that some facet of your public image is at stake, you can relax; what’s unfolding is much closer to the core of your self-perception and your inner life than anything that others would even care much about. But if you’re concerned what others might think, it would help if you made notes on your worst fears and best expectations, because those will provide you with a mind-map. Expectations and anxiety are more closely related than is obvious. We tend to think of hope, or expectation, as a good thing and anxiety as a bad thing. But they are part of the same concept, which is trying to manipulate the future in an uncreative way. That said, fear is a valuable teacher right now, because it describes a certain contour of your mind in which you have a tendency to get trapped. You may expect this to be a permanent feature of your inner landscape, though I assure you that’s not true. You really can work with this situation and work it out beautifully.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — If someone seems to be interfering with your success, or your forward momentum, look right at the situation. Others may have strong opinions, though that’s different from having power over you. It’s essential that you see this difference now, and really get the distinction. Otherwise you will invest way too much energy in the views of others, or what you perceive as their viewpoint, and ultimately prove yourself ‘right’. What I suggest is that you do what you want until someone tells you that you can’t. If you do, you might make the pleasant realization that nobody is going to stop you. This might even inform you that your concerns about what others think have no bearing in reality, and amount to little more than tying your own shoes together. You have a bold mission right now, and you don’t need collaborators. What you do need is to cooperate fully with yourself. You would benefit from applying some push energy to your goals and your surroundings. Once you do, you may wonder why you waited so long, and decide that asserting yourself with some mojo would be a fine way of life.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Your sign has the reputation of being the ‘big-picture thinker’, the one that can’t be bothered with the details. But the details matter, and you know they do. The fine points of what you’re doing are central to your success. Yet being a micromanager could be detrimental. So you need to know which details to focus on and which to leave to others, or not worry about. Take full charge of whatever requires your specific technical competence. Take responsibility, clear through to every stage of follow-up, about things that are specifically about your own ideas. For example, make sure you do the final edit on anything you write, prior to its being sent out. You also need to be the judge of the critiques of others. Be generous with the wastebasket on this one; only rarely are opinions worth much, so take a moment to extract a potentially valid point from everything and then discard the rest. The key to using your astrology the most effectively is being specific. Vague generalities are a liability now. So break everything down to steps, state the end-goal in concrete terms, and stick to your process.
Capricorn(Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — What would you do if you had a year to live? Most people would live very differently; for one thing, the endless squander of time would be the first thing put to a halt. Time would suddenly be seen as the precious resource that it is. For most people this is a scary thought, since it tends to remind them of two things — one being how much time is wasted, and the second being the uncertainty of the amount remaining. You would go a long way toward finding some real strength by admitting both of these things, and asking yourself what the logical conclusion is. So, give it a try — inquire within what you would do, and how you would live, if you had just one year. One thing I’d propose is that this will help you get your priorities in order. You will see the connection between your day-to-day way of life, and your longer-range goals that absolutely depend on the wise use of time, including what we humans might consider long spans of time. You have a real agenda for this life, and it will take some skill to make it happen. Let that begin with a moment of clarity.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You will benefit from some real cooperation, though this will come in the form of someone with specialized intelligence. Look around and pay attention, and don’t settle for anyone who seems to know less than they claim. The puzzle you seem to be facing is how to let go of certain responsibilities that weigh you down — yet doing so in a fully responsible way. This will take some ingenuity, and very likely from a viewpoint not colored by your emotional attachments. In other words, you need some applied intelligence, to a specific situation. One of my favorite lessons in A Course in Miracles is about recognizing the problem so that it can be solved. State whatever you’re trying to address in a way that can in fact be resolved, so you’re that many steps closer to actually having that happen. If a situation is resisting being worked out, I suggest you state it in a different way. Turn it backwards, upside down or inside out. Imagine what your life would be like were everything in perfect order. That vision will be truly informative. Really, stop and consider how things would be.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — The question that you want to call into focus repeatedly over the next few years is: what is true, and what is not? This includes variants such as, what is true for me, and what’s true for this other person? You may find yourself in various circumstances where there are different versions of the truth, or two main alternatives that seem unable to be reconciled. This is a trap, and you can sidestep it by staying awake. If you’re tending toward a more complicated version of events or possibilities, experiment with simplifying things. Notice where the complication enters the scenario, and see if you can get an understanding of that influence. Try to break things down to their very most basic elements. You’re entering a phase of your life where your success depends on your clarity. Yet clarity will require an ongoing process of observation and assessment. Look, listen and feel. Always trust yourself above and beyond the trust you put into others, since you have the power to be the most dependable person in your life. As long as you stay awake and aware, nothing is beyond the power of your own intelligence.