Dear Earthly Voyager:
My old friend Christopher McGregor, a self-taught lawyer who approaches jurisprudence from a metaphysical angle, is fond of asking people, ‘What did you learn?’
I always thought this was clever, and I consciously picked up the habit. Now when someone visits a foreign country or comes back from Burning Man or a therapy session, or has a relationship encounter they choose to tell me about, I will often ask: what did you learn?
I’ve learned something from their responses. There are people who right away jump into describing what they observed, experienced and deduced from a seemingly mundane experience. They know without thinking that they learned something, even if it’s something ‘small’. Some know that it’s possible to learn something about the world, and to learn something about yourself at the same time.
There are others who look at me and say, ‘What did I learn? What do you mean?’ — as if it’s impossible to learn something when visiting your aunt or from taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.
So, on the cusp of Mercury stationing direct in Virgo (that happens Sunday, Sept. 12), I’m here to ask: what did you learn during these past three weeks of Mercury retrograde? And, since Pluto returns to direct motion Sept. 14, we can expand that timeframe a little — but first let’s consider Mercury.
This has been one of the psychologically deepest, edgiest and most challenging spells of the Mercury dance in a long time. These qualities relate to Mercury being retrograde in Virgo, one of its home signs. Virgo is not an easy energy, being so mentally focused to the point of obsession, often on self-criticism. It’s given to bearing down on small details rather than the bigger scenarios of life; whether we love the details or despise them, they require attention.
Political news during this retrograde has verged on psychotic, in the clinical sense of the word. Rage about the economy is being directed into racial hatred, emulating a condition that those who know 20th century European history might be familiar with. We are living inside an economic and political tinderbox.
Speaking of, there have been an unusual series of fires this week in the United States, in or near urban neighborhoods — one in Detroit, where 85 homes were destroyed, with the cause still unknown. There was a gas explosion and fire in San Bruno, CA, last night, where so far 120 homes have been damaged or destroyed. As of late Thursday the fire was only half contained. Residents said they smelled gas coming out of sewers for weeks. And 169 homes were destroyed and 1,000 families evacuated in Boulder, CO as a fire engulfed the forest near the city, and moved in on residential areas. City residents were being asked to prepare for possible evacuation. As of last night the fire was still expected to burn for 10 more days. Wind gusts up to 64 mph were fueling the fire and making it very difficult to contain.
Speaking of fire, the little minister down in Florida who was going to burn the Koran seems to have put his plans on hold. Everyone but him seemed to get that this was a bad idea. Thursday the Department of Homeland Security descended on his church and set up a security checkpoint. He also got a call from Robert Gates, the defense secretary, explaining that this could cause serious problems for our troops were it to happen.
Fire has been a factor in the minds of some as well, and not necessarily as passion. Mercury retrograde in this sign has stirred up all kinds of doubts and, in a way typical of Chiron (another factor related to Virgo), revealed the weaknesses in the various systems of our lives. If this is true for you, the question is, what did you do about it?
Virgo is a key energy in our lifetimes because it’s so closely related to information technology. In 1990, hardly anyone had a computer in their house, and next to nobody had the Internet. Now many people carry the Internet in their pockets and have three separate connections. When we get a compact set of events involving Mercury or Virgo, that can get overwhelming; hardware and software can fail; we can sense how meaningless it all might be. Yet there are gems at the bottom of all the static.
We’ve also had a few visits from the land of shadows. As I described last week, Mercury has been, and still is, contacting a diversity of points in Sagittarius. These are minor planets and a deep-space point called the Great Attractor, which was closely involved in Wednesday’s New Moon. One minor planet is called Ixion. It’s a Pluto-like body, with a 249-year orbit (Pluto’s is 250), though it has a particularly dark theme. My key phrase for Ixion is, “Anyone is capable of anything.”
Among the themes that came up are: what is the world like when people lose any perception of ethics? Everyone knows that locks keep an honest man honest and that there’s a sucker born every minute. So what keeps people from prying into our doors or lying about anything that can give them an advantage? Well that would be ethics. Ixion on the Great Attractor is stretching that concept a little thin. And, it’s going to be with us for a while.
The connection between Virgo and Sagittarius is asking about what material we have inherited from our family line, going back several generations. This includes the information contained in the deeper pool of our DNA. What is the influence of alcohol on our lives, and how has it shaped the emotional environment of our families?
What about those unfinished healing projects indicated by the retrograde (reference to the past) in Virgo (all matters of healing and wellness; holistic themes; mind-body connection). What’s the story with this little kid we contain, who so often tries to get our attention?
Mercury stations direct on Sunday, Sept. 12. The learning process is not over, but by now we should have the hang of things. In fact, thanks to the fact that Mercury covers the same ground three times, we get one last review of the subject matter as it moves from 5+ Virgo to 19+ Virgo, covering the territory where it was just retrograde for the third time — known as the ‘second shadow phase.’ Then in late September, Mercury will take new territory for the first time in six weeks.
The day of a Mercury station can have that feeling of the truth revealed. Odd bits of missing information can come out. Something that made no sense can suddenly make a lot of sense; what you know can assemble itself like a puzzle, though of course it’s really your mind doing the assembling. There’s a question, though: do we use that information? Do we assemble the final piece, which is bringing it into a decision process?
Pluto Stations Direct in Capricorn
Pluto in Capricorn is still a new influence. It’s the transit that is, in many ways, the pivotal energy of nearly every other event we’ve been experiencing this year and indeed going back nearly two years. Pluto was extremely active prior to that, because it spent the last few years of its trip through Sagittarius crossing over the Galactic Center. It was quite a culmination to a long transit that was dominated mainly by warfare and religious obsession.
Then came Pluto in Capricorn. Astrologers have understood this pretty well long in advance; Capricorn is about the structure of society, so the combination of the two meant a lot of changes in society’s institutions. Yet it also portends a refreshing of passion and celebration for which Capricorn is lesser known.
Pluto is about the soul’s journey. Often it’s difficult, here on the dense material plane; at other times we can easily flow with synchronicity. Yet in this phase of history, when we’re so obsessed by fear and when so many people live entirely dispassionate lives, and when so many are afraid to have new experiences, we need help: and Pluto in Capricorn is just that. It represents a new phase of evolution wherein we can crack the casing on those areas where we’re entrenched or stuck, and break out of the many ‘traditions’ that low-grade Capricorn represents in our era of history — like the one that tells us how cool it is to be totally hung up, smug or centered on personal ‘necessities’. This is not a time for purity, for orthodoxy or for leaning on the past; it’s a time to be flexible, adventurous and face the future, and that engine is coming right from Pluto in Cap.
Pluto first ingressed Capricorn on Jan. 25, 2008, staying for about five months. It returned to Capricorn to stay on Nov. 26, 2008. That was the year of the Wall Street banking collapse (the official beginning of the economic crisis, in the public’s perception) as well as the election of Barack Obama. It was the year that we began to see the hideous split in American culture between the Obsessive Regressives and the Supposed Progressives. Obama was elected during the last gasp of Pluto in Sagittarius, and we’re starting to see that have its manifestations now.
Pluto is retrograde the most of all the ‘nine planets’ — 44% of the time. This is because of its great distance to the Sun. This is the third retrograde in Capricorn; lately, it goes retrograde in early April and direct in mid-September. Because it’s retrograde so often, it’s a normal feeling for Pluto, which is a deeply introverted, introspective process most days. Then when it turns direct, it will have a moment of expression: growth and evolution are something that seem obvious, necessary, even desirable.
Of course, Pluto has been the focus of a good bit of stress and enforced changes the past year or so. We’ve recently experienced the third of three squares between Saturn and Pluto. This is the turning point we felt but didn’t necessarily see; it’s the one that actually made the difference. But it may take a little time to manifest — and Pluto direct is the time that’s likely to happen.
Among the first events of this Pluto direct is the Ceres-Pluto conjunction. This is about food. It’s about the food we eat as individuals, and the food we all eat collectively — the food supply, particularly the corporate one. The recent egg scandal, where half a billion eggs were recalled for salmonella, and then the disgusting conditions at the factories were revealed, is a hint of Ceres-Pluto — and that is a reminder to go small, to rely on local farmers as much as possible.
The Sky on the Cusp of Many Other Changes
After so many unbearably intense aspects and events through 2010, the sky (believe it or not) is currently at a bit of a lull. Jupiter and Uranus have backed off the Aries Point a little; Saturn has passed its square to Pluto. However, soon enough we will enter one of those phases when everything will seem to happen all at once. Over the next few weeks I will provide articles that detail these events.
Meantime, this segment of a chart will give you a clue. In the image at the link, take a look at those four planets with very high numbers — close to 30. To the left is the Chiron-Neptune conjunction, which is in its last months. Both planets are heading for Pisces; Chiron makes its last ingress in February, and Neptune transitions in during 2011 and 2012.
To the right is the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. We’re about to experience the second of three; this one takes place in Pisces. As I mentioned Tuesday, this is the first Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Pisces since 1334. In astrology, rare qualifies as potent. There will be one other exact alignment early next year, and then both planets will head into Aries again.
When outer planets change signs, life changes in sweeping ways. At such times, it’s vital to become a visionary of your own life. You have many precedents for this working — all the times you actually did something you previously thought was impossible. It’s wise not just to go with the flow but look where you want to be, and guide yourself there. And where would that be? I suggest you give that some thought as Mercury and Pluto change directions in the next few days. If you’ve been keeping any secrets from yourself, they’re likely to come out. Just remember, they’re coming out for a good reason.
See you next week.
Yours & truly,
The Courage Of Our Convictions | Political Waves
Editor’s Note: This article covers the antics of a Florida pastor named Terry Jones, who plans to have his second annual burning of the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 incident. Thursday afternoon certain cable stations were reporting that Jones, under pressure from just about everyone, had called off his book burning. He’s been saying all week that he would await the word of his god, but I don’t think Barack Obama counts. Jude cautioned that there are conflicting reports and that Mercury is retrograde. Let’s hope the little weasel is telling the truth. Meanwhile, last I heard, DHS and other fancy cops had turned the entry driveway to his church into a security checkpoint. The things people will do for a little attention. — efc
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when Americans lost their sense of themselves. I’d be surprised if the majority still considers our country the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave,’ but I’d probably be in the minority in thinking we’re more free than courageous. Deeply polarized, we take advantage of our constitutionally-protected free speech, a liberty exploited by those who limit, hate and oppose the tolerance that democracy requires. We are free to speak our hearts in this nation, and some of our hearts are very small and dark, indeed.
In a tiny church in Florida, a minister named Terry Jones plans a book burning. He intends to gather his handful of parishioners together on Sept. 11 to burn copies of the Islamic Koran. This obscure little group, which calls itself the Dove World Outreach Center, believes that Islam is the antichrist. Last year, Jones’s book burning was attended by about 30 congregants and local press, including The Independent Florida Alligator. Now, thanks to the liberal use of YouTube and an uptick in hatespeak from the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, Jones’s book-burning has become a current cause celebre. General Petraeus, seconded by Hillary Clinton and the White House, warns that Jones’s media event presents a danger to U.S. troops. Even the Vatican disapproves, but Jones is determined. A YouTube segment showing an American tossing Korans into a bonfire will be a made-to-order recruiting video for terrorists, gasoline on the fire of global jihad. Someone from Homeland Security might have a chat with Dr. Jones in the next couple of days.
Nine years ago we surrendered freedom for ‘safety’ and declared war on an emotion: terror. Bush the Younger had systematically dismantled the programs and protections that Americans counted on in emergencies, but we didn’t notice because we weren’t expecting any emergencies. And then it happened, televised on a clear September morning. The planes came, the Towers fell. We were shocked that anyone would want to wound us, horrified that the sanctity of our shores had been breached. We looked for answers and found the easy ones, the kind of simplistic mythology we tell our children to lull them to sleep: don’t worry about a thing — America is a shining city on a hill and Daddy’s got a gun.
Alas, the war on terror was not the effortless crusade we expected. And now, nine years later, we might ask the potent question that always cuts to the chase: are we better off today?
The answer to that question is so tragic that it would give liberals a hefty dose of political capital if people could remember who got us into this situation. The unfunded Bush wars, the privatizing, corruption, and cronyism that put us in such jeopardy are all but forgotten now that a black guy is in power. Some on the left might remind us that Osama bin Laden achieved what he set out to do, attacking American business interests with a canny understanding of what makes Republican corporatists tick. The myth that America is too big to fail and can forever expand its empire crumbled in the hands of the Bushies.
Those who wonder how we surrendered our courage and freedom so effortlessly need only to look at the small-minded, tribal factions, “wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” as Sinclair Lewis described them: the book-burners among us. German poet and playwright, Heinrich Heine, warned in the mid-1800s, “They that start by burning books will end by burning men.” A hundred years later his books were banned by the Reich, whose rise some say his work foretold.
We were dozing when the fear came, and it caught us unawares. That was a handy excuse nine years ago; today it’s the memory-cave of those who will not let go of their anxiety and insecurity, who resist the logical superiority of cooperation over competition and refuse to hear the whispering of their better angels. The changes endured by our nation during these years since 2001 are stunning, as explored by Bill Quigley in his op/ed, The United States of Fear. Yet we still suffer a kind of sticker shock from the Bush years.
Illogically, we may punish the Democrats for their political timidity this election season. To do so will only bring on more of the sweeping dysfunction that big corporate money buys us. Incredibly, a recently-polled 58 percent of the public believes that Republicans would NOT duplicate the policies of George Bush. Meanwhile we march against mosques in Manhattan or burn books in Florida and wonder why we haven’t moved farther into a civilized 21st century. We haven’t learned the moral lessons of history even as they make themselves obvious in our art and entertainment, our churches and mosques. Was it only fear that kept us from hearing our higher angels, who speak for inclusion and respect with voices like these?
Another 9/11 anniversary will come and go this weekend. If we wonder how things could have gone from bad to worse since then, we need only look back at 2001 and examine the choices we made. We are not the same people that were attacked then, we’ve been down the road and around the bend since. We know something is fundamentally wrong with a false religious narrative that defies our Constitution, yet we lack the courage to enforce a healthy separation of church and state. We are anguished by continued warring that serves no evident purpose, yet we lack courage to rise up against it.
We need to put aside the simplistic notions that ‘safety’ is worth more than freedom, that ideas can be killed with bombs or guns, or that might can make anything right. Perhaps people like Glenn Beck and Dr. Terry Jones are put in our path to awaken us, to make ethical choices so painfully obvious that we must act upon them. Democracy, it’s been said, is not a spectator sport. We must gather our courage to validate only the voices for truth, peace and equality.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, September 10, 2010, #830 – BY ERIC FRANCIS
In many relationships there is often that feeling of one person being ahead of the other. This might involve personal growth, apparent commitment to the relationship, desire to experience new things within or outside the partnership, and many other possibilities. The current distinctions may involve whether one partner is more into sex, more into relating, or able to understand the way that these things integrate. With Venus and Mars doing an interesting dance in your partnership angle, this theme may surface, and the way the planets are arranged, the story is going to evolve. One day someone may seem to be running ahead of you; another day they may backtrack or need to revisit something from the past. I suggest you participate in this dance as an active partner, which means knowing what you want, and listening to what others want. Remember, desire is subject to change.
The most dynamic and creative angle of your solar chart is connected to the sign Virgo, which suggests that your passions can get bogged down in many layers of psychology. By passions, I mean your creativity, your curiosity, your sexuality and your desire to experiment with anything new. By psychology, I mean things like rationalizing, guilt, denial or critiquing your desires and ideas out of existence. You alone know how much time you waste doing these things, and by time I mean hours and years. Mercury is about to end its retrograde phase in this part of your chart, suggesting that you can work out a chunk of this material with something that equates to a single idea. You may not be familiar with the power of ideas to transform your life; to you, one may seem like another. Yet ideas are no more abstract than you are. If you are handed a solution or an approach, I suggest you try it for a while and see where you end up.
Lately, it seems that everything comes back to safety and security. From airport screening, to every package coming with two or three safety wrappers, to Net Nannies and spam filters and a password for everything, we are a world obsessed with security. Yet rarely do we notice that security is in our minds. Whether we actually feel safe is a thought; it’s not connected to how many locks we have on our door. You inherited your concept of safety from your elders, who in turn got it from your mutual ancestors. If you’re a clear observer of yourself, you see the way the ideas of all these other (mostly neurotic) people influence whether you feel safe at night. Yet you’re entitled to your own absolutely unique concept of what constitutes peace of mind. If you’re paying attention you might notice that it has very little to do with secrecy, guns, locks or things that filter your email for you.
Mercury’s retrograde in Virgo, your 3rd solar house — communications, ideas, writing, state of mind, your neighborhood — has likely come with a reassessment or a crisis. Let’s talk about mental health first, a topic we need to consider in how colonized our minds are by a constant barrage of ‘information’ and messages, all of which we’re supposedly responsible for. This is enough to drive anyone into madness and frustration. You’ve seen the need to not only reorganize but to also be vigilant about the workflow and the impact of data as it moves through your life. But there is something deeper, which is an idea that may be deeply meaningful to you, and something you’ve wanted to act on for a long time. I suggest you do what you need to organize your life around making that happen. Small moves will mean a lot, and one step will lead to another.
How is your financial reassessment coming? Have you figured out that your resource base comes in many different forms, not just money? We’re obsessed with cash in our current era, to the extent where there is a price connected to very nearly everything. Yet when your neighbor knocks on your door to borrow a cup of sugar, do you write it down in a book? Or have we stopped depending on our neighbors for that kind of thing? I suggest you consider what you’ve learned about how resourceful you are, and how this connects to the diversity of forms of wealth. What they all have in common is that they arise from the Earth. That makes a case for developing grounded ideas about how you come to have enough. Meanwhile, cash itself is the focus, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this Mercury retrograde, taking a look at your accounting methods and, at the least, knowing how much money you actually have.
I am going to take an educated guess that these have been psychologically trying weeks for you. That won’t be true for all Virgos but I know that this has been a particularly challenging Mercury retrograde for some, given its presence in your sign. What may be making the difference is how much progress you’ve made, till now, addressing the past. If you’re someone who lives with a sense that the past is unresolved, you may be feeling this more than others. It’s true — family history presents us with many challenges. Ghosts of the past can arise in the form of people with new names and faces. Old relationships can haunt our current ones and patterns tend to repeat themselves. However you may handle the past, you still need to navigate through the present, and this comes down to making decisions. Once Mercury stations direct this weekend, you’ll be working with information or at least an angle you haven’t considered yet — and this will make the correct choice seem obvious.
If you hesitate, you’re in a position where someone else might make a decision about what is important to you. The thing is, you may not be sure quite what to do, or what feels right. And you may need some time to decide, especially if the question involves a relationship. I suggest that, despite however much influence someone has had on you, that you pause for long enough to get a sense of where you’re really coming from. That may take you a couple of months. This is a deep situation, and parts of it are veiled in shadow. But here is what I can tell you at the outset. Relationships are based on shared values. Yes, they are based on chemistry and other kinds of attraction, but what makes a relationship last, and grow, is a foundation on values. So I suggest you evaluate this carefully in your inner world, and listen to those you meet and get a sense of what is the very most important to them. Make this a way of life.
I don’t think anyone has to encourage you to experience desire, but what I think could be meaningful to you is some encouragement to explore that desire on the level of curiosity, creativity and play. You don’t need to participate in the exceptionally uptight times in which we live. I don’t think you want to. However, it may be that ‘other people’ have an idea of commitment that interferes with your concept of what it means to simply be free — to breathe, to socialize, to explore your curiosity, to explore your feelings, to experiment. You know, all those things that commitment supposedly prevents. I suggest you not be afraid of what you want. I would also suggest that you ask directly and find out what the people or person closest to you wants. And if you’re not in a relationship situation that prevents you from being a different person every day, well — there are some amazing options available to you.
The next few days offer something of a cosmic trigger for you to move forward on a career or professional matter that has taken its time, and recently been beset with delays or complications. I suggest that you go over all of your prior work; sort through your files and correspondence records, and give yourself a sense of perspective. You need to know enough of the details to make a timeline, and to have a sense of how this idea has evolved. Remember, you need this overview because you’re the one who has to manage the project. Your role is in part political — that of getting people to work together toward a common goal. For that to happen, you have to know what the goal is, and that means what it was and what it is becoming. And the missing factor you’ve been seeking for so long — it may well make itself known this weekend or early next week.
Be particularly mindful of any correspondence that goes across the ocean or the continent. You can also put this to work for you. If you’re trying to figure something out, call your friends on the other coast, or across the pond. Look for someone with a distant, removed or elevated perspective. In fact whatever mystery you’re now facing would look easier to solve if you personally traveled and looked at it from across the plane of reality. If you’re trying to solve a problem, look carefully about how your beliefs influence your perspective on the situation. You seem to be caught in a small idea where a big one is called for; you’re using an analytical tool where a creative solution is what you need. What you think is the issue may not be the issue at all — and as the next month or so progress, you will focus on what you’re trying to change and become, within yourself.
You have more freedom than you think; you’ve done the deep work of breaking free, you’ve endured the pain and the struggle, and you have experienced many enforced changes. Now comes the greatest challenge and the true reward — taking up life as a creative journey. That journey, if you allow it to, could take you far from where you are today, but you still seem to have some lingering emotional attachment or nostalgia. Just remember, that’s what’s keeping you tethered rather than some huge obstacle or impossible task. Yet if you’re not accustomed to the idea that you create your reality, the notion of doing precisely that may itself be daunting. I suggest you tempt yourself with the idea of what you truly want, especially if it seems impossible to attain.
Once people start cooperating with you, you will recognize how vital it is that you cooperate with yourself. Or perhaps if you are true to your own cause, others will feel compelled to get behind you. Either way, this is the time to focus on your deepest, highest or best vision. It’s also time to stop assuming that it’s not going to happen and, to the contrary, assuming that it is going to happen. Indeed, what is possible, even probable, is something extremely rare, in fact, a development that may be unprecedented. And while others may play a supportive or pivotal role, I suggest you not delude yourself with any idea of not having exactly what you need right now. The more you focus on the truth that you are exactly who you need to be, and that you have exactly the resources you want the most, the more you will let go of your resistance, get into the flow and let your dreams manifest.