Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio: Busting the SCIF

Further Down the Spiral: House Republicans talking to reporters after disrupting a classified committee meeting many of them were entitled to attend. Photo by Erin Schaff for The New York Times.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Any predictive astrologer looking at the astrology of our moment might have seen that the political environment would be boiling over the sides of the pot and onto the floor. The wide-angle factor here, the one spanning decades and indicating that something is reaching its conclusion, is Saturn conjunct Pluto in Capricorn.

We have collected most of my work on the topic in case you want to dig in a little deeper; there are many facets to the story. Saturn-Pluto represents what is operating in the background of existence — all of those factors that seem too big to do anything about, and the influence of which we might discount. By “influence,” I mean what is driving the world into its currently insane state of being.

Whatever our political position or opinion on global warming, we can all feel in our bodies what is happening to the planet right now. This is driving a combination of desperation and insanity. Photo of the Patagonia Ice Fields by David Silverman.

Among those factors is global warming (politely called “climate change”), which is triggering all of us on the level of species survival. They include digital technology, artificial intelligence and computer-simulated experience that is inducing the “deep disorientation of intellect and destabilization of culture throughout the world.”

They include the precarious state of our economy, characterized by an over-abundance both of billionaires and people living paycheck to paycheck.

Has it occurred to anyone that there is a direct relationship between these billionaires and multi-trillion dollar national debt? That the debit in federal accounts becomes an asset in the accounts of people holding massive wealth?

And finally, Saturn-Pluto represents not just political division but rather the fragmenting of American society into “two countries” (with the president openly talking of civil war), or the absurd farce of Brexit. Then we have the president of the United States claiming he is not subject to the laws and jurisdiction of the United States. (That actually happened on Thursday in a federal appellate court hearing in New York City. This is somehow the “new patriotism.”)

Saturn-Pluto in Capricorn, with help from both planets squaring Eris in Aries, represents the shifting, shaking ground we are trying to stand on — the “deep disorientation of intellect and destabilization of culture throughout the world.”

Except that “the world” is trying to act like everything is perfectly normal. We do, after all, have to go to work, take care of our families and put food on the table, which is not easy these days, amidst all the disorientation and destabilization. If you’re wondering why people are a little flaky, or why you’re having some challenges holding things together, consider that the ground is shaking.

Mercury Retrograde Conjunct Pallas: Political Intrigue

Then there is the immediate factor. In about a week, Mercury turns to retrograde motion in a conjunction to the asteroid (2) Pallas (another name for Athena). She is the ancient Greek goddess of law, politics, strategy and protection. This is happening in the sign Scorpio, where resources are exchanged, secrets are held, and healthy primal instincts can and do convert into social psychosis.

The Mercury conjunction to Pallas calls the theme of the retrograde, which is politics, just as a presidential impeachment is getting underway. Scorpio adds intrigue, survivalist quality, and emotional involvement and triggering. Much of the initial investigation will take place during the retrograde (which spans from Oct. 31 through Nov. 20).

Many are pretending that “augmented reality” is the greatest new thing in the world, though it’s having a disruptive effect on society even in its infancy. We are at the stage when physicality is considered less relevant, which means events of the physical world do not seem to matter as much. This an extremely costly distortion.

When Mercury changes apparent directions, there can be a squeeze effect. The truth can shake out or somehow reveal itself through an opening. Sometimes someone makes a mistake and says something they’re not supposed to say.

All of this has been happening in recent weeks, and the effect will likely intensify as Mercury storm takes hold next week in the days before the retrograde begins.

It is the combination of the retrograde, exactly conjunct Pallas, in Scorpio, that is so intriguing.

The “truth revealed” quality of a Mercury station (change of direction) is now being placed over a deep, high-pressure well (Scorpio), with a special political device attached to the drill (Pallas). With the presidential impeachment gaining momentum, it looks like we’re about to hit a gusher. This is not necessarily good news, as people are currently overwhelmed. But part of why we are so is that so much is being concealed and denied.

Yet with Scorpio, we are into the territory of what makes most people extremely uneasy — matters of “life and death,” “death and taxes,” “sex and politics,” and the realm of control, possession and ownership of others (in their socially acceptable and encouraged forms, such as marriage and business arrangements). With all the Scorpio going on, it’s impressive that this has not turned into a sex scandal, though one is always bobbing up and down on the horizon.

Just this week, there has been some rank insanity; two things stand out. In a federal appellate hearing, Donald Trump’s lawyers argued that as president, he is immune from criminal investigation and prosecution. They then said this included his example of shooting someone on 5th Avenue in New York City — in effect saying that no local authority would have the power to stop him.

He is arguing that his presidential powers place him above the law, and grant him the authorization to murder someone. (A trial court said the notion of the president not being subject to judicial authority or investigation was “repugnant” to the laws of the United States.) It is not a stretch to consider that if they exist, such powers could be delegated to someone else — and that is where death squads come from.

While it’s one thing to hear a candidate claiming he can get away with shooting someone, it’s another thing to claim, in federal court, that the president of the United States is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, or any local jurisdiction.

Can anyone see how absurd and surreal this is? We are not, however, watching a movie. This is actually happening.

Busting into the SCIF

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives committees that are overseeing the impeachment inquiry — Oversight, Intelligence and Judiciary — were conducting a closed-door interview with a Department of Defense employee, called a deposition. The meeting was being held in a secure room, called a SCIF, which is designed to prevent surveillance by outside parties. Pronounced “sciff,” it stands for Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility.

Rep Matt Gaetz, one of the leading Trump apologists, led congressional Republicans who tried to bring phones into the high-security SCIF.

The event was open to members of both parties who are on the committees, but closed to the public and the press because it involved classified information.

This is routine government procedure that even most free-speech and open government advocates would admit is necessary. Members of both parties are present, and portions of the testimony (such as the opening statement) are almost always made public immediately.

Republican members of Congress entered the meeting room without authorization, staging what they called a protest that lasted five hours. The effect was to intimidate the witness and delay her testimony. Some brought their cell phones into the room, breaching the security protocol they themselves depend on. From what I have read, members of the committees who were legally entitled to be there took part in the protest, objecting to “lack of transparency.” [Read The Onion’s parody here.]

This is total bullshit. These are closed-door hearings open to both parties. There will be public hearings and a public impeachment trial. Then they can complain about that.

The message here is that people who are sworn to uphold the law and the constitution are acting like it does not matter. Republicans have taken to calling the impeachment proceedings “Soviet.” This is hilarious given that all of the issues, including the Ukraine issue, surround Russian interference in elections on behalf of the Republicans themselves.

At the same time, Trump is claiming that everything is secret, as he attempts to ban people from testifying before the committees, which he has no right to do.

Trump supporter expresses her unmitigated transcendent ecstasy at actually meeting the candidate. This is not a normal expression of respect, admiration or first social contact; something else is happening. Even her young daughter is making a preening gesture, classic attraction body language. Photo by Brian Snyder.

So we are seeing various ripples and shockwaves as a result of the abuse of the power of confidentiality. This is happening in a time when we all know everything always comes out when the laundry is unpacked, one way or another. These days that is sooner rather than later. But who actually cares? Who is impressed?

The big charade is people pretending they don’t know what is happening, or pretending it does not matter. The question is, how long can certain people hold the posture of balancing on one toe and trying to scratch their ass with their other foot?

Where Politics Meets Sex

Wilhelm Reich explained nearly a century ago that what we know of as politics is the sickest realm of human interaction, which is driven by a deeper sickness called the emotional plague. One manifestation of this involves how sustained suppression of desire and orgasm leads people into a desperate state of being that Reich described as the “mystical longing.” This is the harvesting of desire for political purposes — and it happens all the time.

Sexual desperation converts into the desire for authoritarianism. This is often answered by a charismatic leader, who is often a despot or cult leader of some kind. This is one reason why oppressive political movements start with sexual purity campaigns. One of its properties is being in love with the police state. Nobody who is emotionally balanced and sexually satisfied would take any comfort in a tyrannical government. They are perfect opposites. [More at this link.]

There are currently many factors conspiring to hold down all forms of feeling and vulnerability, as well as the expression of natural sexual desire. Not all of these factors are visible as what they are; some are connected to religious movements (abstinence-only indoctrination) and some to “progressive” movements (the false notion that any sex, particularly between a man and a woman, is potentially rape).

This is what sexual pain looks like. Photo by Mike Sagar.

There are hundreds of these ideas floating around now, which are leaving many frightened and confused. They are all the result of grafting sexual desire to inhibition and anxiety. This is the preexisting weakness from which all of the current political insanity is drawing its power.

Almost always, this is beaten into us as small children. In adults, one of its manifestations is the claim to sexual purity, which itself takes a thousand forms.

In this state of being, people are easily manipulated and terrorized. What should be seen as plainly wrong and unjust can seem right and fair. This is because it feeds into extreme emptiness, pain and longing that needs something — anything — to fulfill it, as long as that something does not require vulnerability.

I know it may not look like a bunch of people busting into a secure meeting room with their cell phones is an adolescent sexual tantrum, though I suggest you smell the desperation that is driving this. One message is that there is no safe space for adults to do what adults are entitled to do.

That is where we stand today. If you are wondering why so many things that make no sense are getting such traction, consider this possibility. Notice how you feel when you are sexually relaxed as opposed to carrying tension and longing.

With love,

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for November 2019 (#1266) | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — We live in the age of politicized sex, which is not sex at all. This is reaching into every facet of human relationships, though it’s not always obvious what is happening. One challenge is that our society currently has little concept of sexuality that is not part of a public dialog involving power, rights or legal issues. Be aware that this might find its way into your most intimate partnerships. Out to one extreme, this could involve some legal matter arising. However, it’s more likely to work its way in subversively, through unquestioned beliefs and expectations. There’s also the question of how contemporary issues relating to gender and women’s rights influence the most sensitive elements of your life. The question you might ask yourself is, what do you want? If you’re seeking emotional exchange, vulnerability and pleasure, then relating through a political filter will not serve you. If you are seeking respect, that is done by agreement, and through a claim to natural rights rather than legal ones. Most people are not interested in being equals in some legalistic sense. Relationships involve complex dynamics, with “topping” and “bottoming” in various shades being distributed through the emotional and logistical landscape. If you want to be treated with respect by someone, you must treat that person with respect. You decide for yourself what that means, and then can communicate in a way that will hold someone’s interest voluntarily. Throwing down an ultimatum may be honest, but it will have consequences.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may be ready to see someone’s point of view, or they may be ready to see yours. However, you might step back from expecting anyone to agree with exactly what you’re saying or thinking, because it’s so subject to change. Said another way, your current environment does not support fixed points of view. The Earth generally is a place where you must keep your perspective moving, though particularly now, in your one-to-one relationships, communication needs to be a dance. Take the space to make up your mind a little differently every day. Give others the space to have ideas that evolve over time. With Mercury retrograde in your relationship zone, “over time” might be a little quicker than you may think. That could mean progress on key issues that have been stuck or delayed, which takes place over a few weeks rather than a few years. The important thing is that you actively seek an understanding of where someone is coming from at any given time, and that you have a sense of your perspective at any given time. Then remember everything is in motion. One potential direction of travel for you is from the need for attachment to the need for freedom. Particularly in your relationships, there’s often that unacknowledged but deep element of wanting to have your options open. This may seem to contradict the usual concept of Taurus as a fixed sign, who demands perfect fidelity. Take it easy there — Venus is about to enter Sagittarius, which will boldly expand your horizons.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — The forthcoming Mercury retrograde (Oct. 31-Nov. 20) describes your process of discovering the right work to do. I don’t mean the right job; rather, the activity that involves you fully and also works out to be of service to others — in that order. Much discussion of work activity these days involves monetizing something. I’m suggesting a different approach: noticing what you lose yourself in, which also happens to connect with others in some relevant way. Where that happens, there will almost always be some financial opportunity. This month’s planetary movements, which are focused in Scorpio, describe you exploring this zone, which is your 6th house of work and service. The retrograde of Mercury in this area involves seeking some form of mutual benefit; that’s the underlying layer of Scorpio. And in this style, your investment must be passionate and committed; nothing boring will do. That said, there are always the elements of every task or project that are less appealing, and your point of view and mental attitude will make the difference there. Remember that this is all a process of discovery, including getting a feel for a strategy that works for you. Mind your politics and your social customs; key people will be involved in helping you get from one place to the next. They will be judging you based on your fair-mindedness, your ability to follow through, and your ability to stick to your plans long enough to see if they are viable. It all starts with you, investing yourself in something you love.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Sexual exploration for its own sake is still considered taboo. It almost always is, except for brief intervals, in specific times and places. And in our era, there is always the potential for some political concept to worm its way in and spoil the fun. The Sun combined with Mercury retrograde in Scorpio — your 5th solar house of art, sex, creativity and play — will have a way of taking you into this territory. Part of the intrigue involves Pallas, the asteroid of strategy, law and politics, who is noted for her asexual qualities. Notice how inhibition sets in the moment the discussion moves to people’s rights and other legal issues. If you want to avoid, evade and elude the emotional-erotic elements of life, the easiest way to do that is to place them into a political context. Then, no fun is possible, because people are waiting for the state legislature or state police to burst in. What you want is basic consideration, mutual respect and the sense that everyone involved in an erotic situation wants to be there — and that’s about all you need. There’s a delightful indignity to much erotic activity. It’s a little chaotic and people are naked and there is submission involved. Your hair gets messed up and stuff gets thrown all over your room and with any luck everyone has fun. Even assuming that what you’re doing is perfectly legal, it still defies the law of puritanical conduct. You can make no claims of being pure or exempt from natural desire. That is virtue.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You might decide it’s finally time to say what you feel. Not what you think people will agree with; not offering “both sides of the story”; rather, what you actually think and feel. You don’t need to take out full-page advertisements or sponsored Facebook posts. Rather, say what you need to say in the moment when it’s appropriate. That could mean when you feel it the most, or when you decide it is the right time. Here is the thing to keep in mind. You’re figuring out where you’re coming from. The angles of your chart that address ideas and communication are in flux. It would therefore make sense to let people know you’re thinking out loud rather than making firm statements of certain conclusions. In our times of lazy, incomplete partisan thinking, being able to argue or at least explain both sides of an issue is an excellent exercise. What you may discover is that one side is usually approaching the question rationally (or what it thinks is rationally) and the other is doing so emotionally (and may be claiming absolute logic). Sorting this out involves going deeper into human nature than most people are interested in, but you’re already there. There’s one other factor that usually gets left out: how creative is your approach to reality? Can you see things in a way that’s both original and interesting? You will know this is happening when a question you’re trying to resolve suddenly ceases to be boring. Your curiosity is invoked and you want to dig in and figure out how things got to be the way they are. That is truly living.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Events in your fellow earth sign Capricorn continue to grind and thrash and compel you to let go of your inhibitions. This is the challenge of this time in your life. It’s where your particular moment intersects with our collective moment in history. We tend to delegate everything to authority, and therefore wait for authority to intervene. Civility is being delegated to rules that everyone is supposed to follow but nobody really understands. If you want to be an adult, with the freedom and responsibility of an adult, who is free to have all the fun you can afford, consider this. You do not need external authority telling you what is right and wrong. This includes both authoritarian concepts, and various (numerous) forms of pseudo-parents who tend to run and mess with our lives. The appealing quality of tyranny in any form is that it seems to absolve people from both vulnerability and the need to make difficult ethical choices. This only works for so long, because ultimately your evolving mind needs to wrestle with its own conscience and set itself free. Eventually, being protected and safe and secure becomes so tedious that, once you’ve experienced something else, you will never want to go back to it. One way to sum up your astrology is that your consciousness is moving from a political/parental orientation to a creative/exploratory one. This is the leap that so many people are afraid to take, mostly fearing they will be disapproved of. Therein lies the true Revolution.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — As you do your best to sort out your finances, remember that, usually, just one thing leads to monetary success. That one thing is determination. You can pick through your values and your priorities. You can assess your virtues and your faults, your credits and your debits. In nearly any financial matter, what wins the game is drive, motivation and desire. Therefore, don’t get too distracted by the small details. For sure, get the help of a bookkeeper if you need to sort out your paperwork. Definitely know where you stand — how much you have, how much you owe, how much you bring in and how much you spend. All of that matters and will be helpful. Yet nothing matters as much as wanting to succeed. I suggest you get out of your mind any hesitancy along the lines that there is something wrong with financial success. I also suggest you do your best to be true to your values, so you can sleep at night and appreciate the rewards of your efforts with a clear conscience. Then go about doing what must be done. Your solar chart indicates you will have some breakthroughs on the level of financial strategy that will be helpful and may last a lifetime. There’s no such thing as a “strong foundation” that cannot also withstand the fact that the ground shifts. In order to have true security, you will need to be comfortable (and draw strength from) being insecure, at least for certain special occasions. And on a planet where nothing much is certain.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Mercury is about to make an intriguing retrograde in your sign (Oct. 31-Nov. 20). For you, part of the appeal will be how psychological the astrology is, beginning with Mercury holding a long conjunction to one of the most important asteroids, Pallas. Plus, Venus is in town for the excitement (until Nov. 1), and Mars is lurking in your 12th solar house of deep introspection. Altogether, one result may be that you acquire a kind of superpower of insight into the motives of others. You’re good at this already, though the benefit of the current alignment is how your self-awareness helps you peer into the minds of others. Just two caveats. One is to make sure you are taking their feelings into account as well, and using your ability to help others be at peace with themselves. Second is that there are people in your environment who can throw you a curve. You may get them totally wrong. They may surprise you in some way you were not expecting. You will learn the most from those instances, because the exceptions are usually far more interesting than the rules. However, the most exciting surprises are likely to come in the form of the discoveries you make about yourself. These will be the real gems. For example, you may have noticed there is some thought form or idea deep in your consciousness that too often allows you to be ruled by your inhibitions. It’s an overcautious aspect of your being that needs to be on the shelf of a curio cabinet, not running your life.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You are in the last weeks of Jupiter in your birth sign. The ruler of your sign, it visits your sign for one year out of every 12. This time around, it may have felt like trying to expand into some substance that would not hold the shape you were pushing it into. You may be wondering what became of all the effort you exerted. One thing I suggest you make is an inventory of your ideas since January. That includes plans, whether long- or short-range; and the things you decided you wanted to do, but may have given up on, or forgotten about. (A good few things disappeared into the Jupiter-Neptune square that is thankfully behind us.) Please resurrect those ideas. Dig through your emails, scribbled-on placemats and other places you might have stashed them. Ask your friends and collaborators what they remember. Jupiter is about to change signs into Capricorn, and this will be no ordinary run of astrology. By which I mean you will be gaining considerable traction on the business and financial front, which will be building on years of work, effort and sacrifice. Jupiter through Capricorn and, starting in late 2020, through Aquarius, will bring out the practical visionary in you. You will have the thing you need the most, which is help from Saturn: time management, steady persistence, business structure, efficient use of resources. Meanwhile, Jupiter is in your sign and conjunct the Galactic Core until Dec. 2. This is pure visionary, without the practical applied yet. Let your ideas flow, write them down, and keep track of them. I mean it.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Soon, all eyes will be on Capricorn, in the astrological sense, and what Capricorn represents in the world. I am talking about the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto that takes place on Jan. 12, as well as all of the worldly events that surround that conjunction — the likes of which we have never seen before. Between now and then is one major event, the retrograde of Mercury in Scorpio. This takes place in your 11th solar house, which covers your public image, your social circles and important elements of your professional life. Think of this as a final passage before fully engaging the Saturn-Pluto event in January. Here is what I get. You must get over any discomfort with being seen or appreciated as a sexual being. It’s simply a fact of your existence. Yes, this affects every life in some way, but you present your Scorpio energy to the public. This is an essential ingredient in what “Capricorn” means. Our society is involved in a massive game of charades right now, where many people are pretending that the matter of sexual vitality does not exist, is not a factor, is inappropriate, or is wrong — particularly as expressed in the public realm. If you hesitate, or apply any negativity to your natural state of being, you will be sending static down the line — like listening to music with a loud hum, which prevents appreciating the beauty of the work. I suggest you take the seemingly radical step of suspending judgment of sexuality in any form. Let biology be biology — it rules the roost. In so doing, you will claim an essential element of your power. This will make you more visible, more appealing, and more able to command respect. But — and this is a big but, so to say — only if you respect yourself. You do not need to be good. You only need to be real.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You will be making some important career decisions this month, though I suggest you not act on them immediately. This is crucial, because on March 21, Saturn enters your sign. That may seem like a while, though you have some work to do, cleaning up some past situations, getting your shop in order, and making peace with certain facets of your consciousness. By that, I mean making peace with yourself, as you go through some deep inner changes, on the way to being reborn in a new form. The rebirth part is associated with Saturn in your sign, which transition happens between March and December of 2020. So the kind of planning I’m talking about is medium- to long-range. This will involve a few levels of thinking, including a sense of your trajectory: knowing the next major destination you want to get to. It will help if you set aside plans that are no longer valid, and which no longer serve. This is an exercise not undertaken often enough: purging your agenda, and closing down old projects and files that burn energy and distract your attention. Your mind needs a central organizing principle, and that is recognizing what you want and what you do not want. Meanwhile, you must be impeccable in your business dealings and be aware of the layer of politics underlying everything. Rather than thinking of the political dimension as a place you can “win” or “have an impact,” try regarding it as a set of protocols that facilitate your involvement in society, where skilled interaction can help you get things done.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Mercury retrograde takes place in your fellow water sign Scorpio, one of the most resourceful angles of your chart. By solar house, this is the 9th, pertaining to long-term plans, long-distance travel and your spiritual orientation. For you, all of these are expressed through Scorpio. That means depth, involvement with others, and a biological and sexual connection to cosmic existence. You understand instinctively and from experience that the creative force works through sexual expression. In the first instance, that is how we all end up in bodies on Earth. Religion has tried to make this controversial, and sinful, and has attempted to deny it outright. This disconnect is one of the deepest sources of trouble on our planet. All of the worst neurotic behavior — such as we see in politics, and the sick distortions of social issues — makes its way into our reality through this disruption in the natural order of life. Your job now is to foster your own connection, which means to yourself, your body, the people around you, and your existence. This is your connection into your DNA (through which “God” manifests), your sense of purpose, and your ability to belong on the planet. Do not let anyone take that away from you; and further, do what you can to understand, foster, and strengthen your connection to your own nature. You will need to have this conduit running strong over the next few months. When Mercury stations direct and the Sun enters Sagittarius (both, around Nov. 20-22), the pace of your life will pick up, your responsibilities and visibility will increase, and you will need full access to all of your resources. Said simply, that means feeling good about yourself and what you want.

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