No Sex till your Saturn Return

Spirit of Vesta. Photo by Eric Francis

TWO stories made news this week that ring the bell during these extraordinarily Scorpionic days — days leading to a wildly contentious national election in the United States, where presently Republican majorities in our legislative bodies are up for grabs. If you’re not from the US, you may well marvel at how strange this all seems.

The local astrological background, as we’ve been discussing, is that five of the traditional planets are currently in Scorpio: Venus, Mars, the Sun, Jupiter and retrograde Mercury talking to all of them (but speaking backwards, like on a Beatles album). And retro is the word. We also experienced the Mars-Chiron square on Monday, which seems a nice provocative emblem of the week’s news in the world of sex; last week, Venus and the Sun both squared Chiron. This pretty much assures we’ve all had some buttons pushed recently.

As for the deep background. As previously reported in Planet Waves, the US government has for 25 years been running a program misinforming (supposedly educating) teenagers on the dangers of sex and the virtues of being abstinent until heterosexual marriage. As part of the curriculum, students are misinformed that birth control doesn’t work, and in some places are sent for therapy if they so much as ask one question about homosexuality. The program often includes making teenagers sign an “abstinence until marriage pledge” that according to one study delays the first experience of teenage sex by about three months, but increases the risk of STDs and pregnancy.

I looked into the history of the issue last year, and learned that this was one of the very first social policy moves of the Reagan administration, dating back to shortly after Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. His administration worked with the conservative ‘think’-tank, the Heritage Foundation, to start getting Abstinence Only policies through the government. Cash is involved; states may apply to the Feds for grants to teach abstinence, and all but a very few take the cheese. Currently, four states do not. California, for example, is banned from taking the money because what is taught in its schools must, under state law, be consistent with the findings of science. AO sex indoctrination does not qualify.

This week, USA Today reported that new federal guidelines encourage the money to be used to brainwash unmarried adults up to age 29 that they should not partake in sexual activity. This is in despite of the fact that 90% of adults ages 20-29 have had sex, the newspaper reported, citing a federal study. But, the Feds are suggesting you should wait until your Saturn return before getting any nookie.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Abstinence education programs, which have focused on preteens and teens, teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex.

The National Center for Health Statistics says well over 90% of adults ages 20-29 have had sexual intercourse.

But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children.

Government data released last month show that 998,262 births in 2004 were to unmarried women 19-29, the ages with the most births to unmarried women.

“The message is ‘It’s better to wait until you’re married to bear or father children’,” Horn said. “The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence.”

We may question why it’s national policy under conservative administrations to indoctrinate people into not having sex, and why hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on this while people go hungry and homeless. We may observe that the most important social policy at the moment is fear. Whether it’s being freaked out about shampoo on airplanes or by the possibility of someone blowing up your local Super K-Mart because they resent our awesome way of life, fear is all the rage. But so far no commentator that I have seen has made the connection between fear as a way of life (and politics as usual), and a publicly-funded policy of sexual repression.

But someone named Wilhelm Reich did, more than half a century ago. Reich, a medical doctor and psychoanalyst, was Sigmund Freud’s favorite student until the two parted ways [that’s a story worth telling, but not today]. He was a practicing psychiatrist and writer through the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s. He noted that the Nazis placed sexual purism high on their list of social agendas, essentially spreading fear on the emotional level, weakening the integrity of personal relationships in the process.

In his 1942 book, The Function of the Orgasm, Reich commented on the relationship between repression and fear: “It became increasingly clear that the overburdening of the vasovegetative system with undischarged sexual energy is the fundamental mechanism of anxiety, and thus, of neurosis. Each new case amplified earlier observations.” In other words, the more orgasm is suppressed, the more scared people are, and then the easier they are to manipulate with that fear.

He observed, as well, that repressed sexual energy creates the effect of a deep mystical longing in people, such as a yearning for cosmic answers to their problems, rather than taking personal responsibility and making adult decisions. This mystical longing can be harvested by those with political agendas, and was answered in the person of Hitler, who portrayed himself like the god-emperors of old. His power was fuelled by the increasing anxiety, terror, and oppression of the Nazi regime, all of which were intermingled with a climate of sexual moralism. Remember that in Nazi Germany, homosexuals and prostitutes were among the specifically targeted groups, and part of the ethnic cleansing program held that only pure Nazis could have children.

In the United States, this type of social policy is currently being effected through mingling religion and politics. The neo-conservative government in the United States is supported by a vast network of churches that essentially function as Republican clubhouses, and which push an agenda of supposedly Christian moral values. These involve foisting severe anti-gay and pro-marriage agendas on their constituents, including movements to ban gay marriage by state constitutional amendments. The only reason it does not seem outrageous is because we’ve grown accustomed to insanity.

The neocon anti-sex agenda rose to its very heights during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, whose supposed “high crimes and misdemeanors” involved denying that he had sex with Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton’s impeachment, along with many other agendas, could happen largely because most people suffer from sexual guilt and as a result, tend to be appalled by the erotic conduct of others. What other people do is always “deviant” as compared to one’s own “normal” behavior. One way to discharge guilt is to project it onto others, but that of course spreads it like an epidemic. Simply put, under this philosophy, weird or immoral is what other people do. Someone is always queerer than you.

Consider this. In neocon terms, you may have a serious problem even if you’re just attracted to someone of the opposite sex. In 2005, something called The Institute for American Values published a report called The Future of Family Law. In part, the report concluded: “As an institution, conjugal marriage addresses the social problem that men and women are sexually attracted to each other and that, without any outside guidance or social norms, these intense attractions can cause immense personal and social damage.”

Faster, Pastor 

A few days later, the sex thing came to the surface of American life again, this time in the person of The Rev. Ted Haggard (Pastor Ted), who shepherds over a flock of 30 million American fundamentalist Christians. Haggard stepped down from his post Thursday after a male prostitute said that the minister had been paying him for sex for the past few years.

The prostitute, Mike Jones, 49, of Denver, told the Associated Press that he came forward after learning that Haggard was a hypocrite: Jones found out that the minister’s organization has been leading the fight against gay marriage, where the issue is currently up on the Colorado ballot.

“It made me angry that here’s someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex,” Jones said, quoted in Associated Press article yesterday.

Here is a bit from Haggard’s Wikipedia entry:

Haggard is a firm supporter of President George W. Bush, and is often credited with rallying evangelicals behind Bush during the 2004 election.[11] Author Jeff Sharlet reports that Haggard “talks to… Bush or his advisers every Monday” and opines that “no pastor in America holds more sway over the political direction of evangelicalism.”[12]

In a June 2005 Wall Street Journal article, “Ted Haggard, the head of the 30-million strong National Association of Evangelicals, jokes that the only disagreement between himself and the leader of the Western world is automotive: Mr. Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas he prefers a Chevy.“[13]

Okay so is this guy running the country? Well, don’t answer please. But since I’ve done and gone down this road, let’s look at his chart. I only have a noon chart for him, which I have not seen as of this paragraph, but let’s have a look.

Well, the first thing that jumps out of this chart for me is his conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto. Contacts between Jupiter and Pluto tend to have a spiritual and socially crusading feeling. They connect individuals to collective consciousness in a big way, and in particular, the conjunction can put people in touch with the golden thread that connects all spiritual traditions. So far so good. In Leo, ’tis extremely charismatic. He is a real charmer. Add a cuddly Cancer Sun (family man) and Mercury and Venus in Gemini (the gift of gab) and the guy is ready to go; he’s on his way from churches based in strip-malls to presiding over a flock of 30 million.

But Saturn in Scorpio squares his nifty Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, weighing it down a bit and lending a desperate feeling (related to the square from Saturn). It’s a nice tight-fitting square. These 90-degree-type aspects between Saturn and Pluto almost always are like the arm and hammer of moral dictatorship. Those who do not suffer from moralism and have such aspects tend to be highly responsible types who take on (internalize) the burdens of society, sacrificing greatly in the process.

In the less altruistic models, we tend to get people who make others out to be evil while they themselves are holy. Individual qualities of people often extend their energies into society with this aspect, affecting the ‘personality’ of civilizations. The square and the opposition have similar traits, and we may recall it was the Saturn-Pluto opposition of 2001 that crystallized a world of hatred and religiousioty, with nonstop war and fear in its wake. Richard Nixon rose to power under the prior Saturn-Pluto opposition, promising to end the Vietnam War, but really escalating it wildly, and blaming antiwar activists for the debacle. To really handle Saturn-Pluto contacts, one must possess actual integrity, otherwise the whole thing gets projected onto others, often with catastrophic results.

Also included in the aspect structure is a Jupiter-Saturn square, from Leo to Scorpio. What is interesting about Haggard’s transits now is that currently there is another exact Jupiter-Saturn square going on, occupying very close to the same degrees. So, he’s got a Jupiter-Saturn square being activated by these same planets, in the same signs, in the same aspect, though transiting Saturn is conjunct his Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, and Jupiter is conjunct his Saturn. Is that cool? Well, not for him.

If you like asteroids, note that Haggard has Sappho (an asteroid associated with both homosexuality and with popularity) closely conjunct his Sun. He has, at the very least, made quite a name and national reputation for himself as an opponent of homosexuality.

Of note to those interested in Centaur planets, Pastor Ted has a Chiron-Pholus conjunction in early Aquarius, which is now taking a transit from Chiron (as well as from Nessus). In other words, Ted is having his Chiron return, and Pholus and Nessus are directly involved.

And the square setup that I described earlier (Jupiter/Pluto squared by Saturn) is actually a grand fixed cross: the Moon is in late Aquarius shows up, and the Centaur Nessus (associated with potentially inappropriate sexual contact) completes the square from Taurus. Tantalus fits the picture exactly, also in late Taurus: the endless torment of wanting what you cannot have.

All a sad story indeed, particularly as the message to so many millions of people is that who they are naturally, as God made them, is wrong.

We all learn fast that the best way to get what you want is hypocrisy. In other words, if you open your mouth and state plainly who you really are or what you really want, generally the reward is having your opportunities closed off. This is particularly insidious in personal relationships, where the relationship is maintained on the pretense of being someone else. Because we all must play by these rules to some extent, we become increasingly tolerant of hypocrisy, assuming it’s just one of those things that exists, which we must live with, and which has the virtue of allowing us to conceal ourselves with a measure of impunity.

There are two parts to getting out of this, I think. Part one is allowing people a lot of space to be themselves, which means not rejecting them purely for the violations of our particular moral or purity standard. The other is doing the inner work to resolve what might cause us to do just that. Unfortunately, it’s easier to project and condemn than it is to allow, and for that ease we pay the price of often being blinded by the walls of our own inner compartments, many times ending up clueless about what is real and what is not, or worse, deciding that it really doesn’t matter.

The Squeeze

A short note on the Mercury-Venus conjunction of Tuesday. Mercury is now retrograde in Scorpio, and is backing into an exact conjunction with Venus at the same time both planets are exactly square Neptune. The configuration is a little more complex, actually, because Neptune is conjunct Ceres, and Venus and Mercury are conjunct the Sun; these factors add emphasis and detail, but the core aspect, exact to arc minutes, is Mercury-Venus square Neptune.

This setup the core of the whole Mercury retrograde process, but it seems emblematic of the collective crisis we’ve been living through for so long. It has a lot to do with sorting out what is true from what is not, on the most personal levels, and then standing by that truth. Just Mercury square Neptune alone can be the seat of a controversy on the subject of honesty, leading in some cases to a measure of impeccability, and in others to people not being able to vaguely distinguish between truth and lies. It is one of the most difficult squares there is, in my experience, because it tends to come with a blind spot about how what is true for you is not necessarily true for someone else.

However, people are quite accustomed to falling for accepting the beliefs of others, unquestioned.

This aspect takes place Election Day in the United States, when the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress are up for grabs (called the midterm elections, because they fall in the middle of the presidential term). In the American system of checks and balances, the three equal branches of government must be held by different political interests, or the system begins to cease functioning. As James Madison wrote, when you put people with the same ideology in charge of everything, that is the definition of tyranny. Currently we have a neocon majority in both houses of Congress, a neocon White House and a very wobbly split in the Supreme Court that put Bush into office.

The Bush/Cheney/Rove administration is aware that if it loses this election, there may be dire consequences: impeachment, for one thing, or congress withdrawing authorization for the Iraq war, as well as the inability for the administration to accomplish anything at all the next two years — except by threat, force and horror.

Campaigning has become extremely nasty, as it has been prone to do the past half decade, because all the usual rules of American politics that might mediate things are suddenly being thrown to the wind. We are seeing the ethics of west-Texas political maneuvering take over reality entirely; there is no honor, and there are no limits; only crushing your opponent.

The way that is done now is by taking the most personal matters, such as who we may choose to love, and fighting them out viciously on the national political stage. Who questions that whether someone loves a man or a woman is their private right? Perhaps more people than speak up, but unless we’re prepared to sacrifice our own freedom to choose, there is hypocrisy in silence.

Anyway, here is the chart. I hope we know what actually happened after this one blows through town. Meanwhile, I suggest you set a watch on your camp, do regular perimeter checks, and accept nothing less than the whole truth when speaking or being spoken to. We can get it, if we hold ourselves and everyone else to the same standard, in that order.


Interesting video hosted on You Tube
Whatever Happened to the Adolescent Family Life Act?

Models at rehearsal for Fleurs d’Eden benefit fashion show last weekend in Brussels. Photo by Eric Francis.

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, November 03, 2006, #635 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Happy Birthday Scorpio!

This year you will very likely to addresses one of the most difficult questions in all of human life and human growth: what is the difference between you and me?

What is mine, and what is yours? Whose issues are whose, and how do we take ownership of our personal material? In any intimate relationship, there is a blurring of the boundaries that normally separate two human bodies, minds and households. I might never lend another person a CD, but I might leave my whole Luciano Pavarotti collection at your house. That might be a token of some values we share, whether about music or material possessions; it may just be about trust or affection.

Generally, trust is founded on having common interests. But the many ways people have diverging interests are often swept under the rug in the name of creating common ground that may not actually exist. In the process, we often deny the common ground that’s really there. One of the biggest human errors in relationships is when we ask, or worse, expect people to lie to us because we don’t want to know the truth.

This is the year to learn the art of keeping clear with others. You will see the power of truth and the damage of secrecy. You will be able to use the truth to heal the hurts of the past, as well as have experiences that show you that you want no part of denial or veiled realities of any kind. This process must start with being honest with yourself before asking anyone else to be honest with you. The inner standard of integrity is the gold standard.

What you may find is that a partner or loved one is more willing, at first, to open up this subject matter than you are, but you somehow have little option but to go along with the experience. This scenario can arise one of many different ways, ranging from a sudden decision to come clean with you, to your coming to a new understanding of who he or she is. The thing to keep in mind is that any triggering event is necessarily the beginning of the discussion, not the end.

It may take you a little time to catch up, but before long you may find yourself deeply compelled by the process of truth-telling. Be gentle. Gentleness is not about compromise, it’s about your tone of speech, the words you use, and the way you structure your ideas. It’s about recognizing that everyone has the same capabilities, we have all made mistakes, and we are together for the practical purpose of resolving the past and embracing the present.

There may be some interesting boundary lessons, including learning how to assist others without getting too involved — even if something is going on right under your nose; even if someone’s problems have taken up residence where you live. Such might be the case in any question involving both a relationship partner and one of your kids. Often children become points of contention in relationship where they really have no business being made such by either partner.

Relationship partners have a responsibility to work out their own relationship with your child or children without interfering with your relationship with them. It is common sense that the blood bond comes first, and everything else is a kind of social construction; but it takes a high level of ethics and sensitivity to maintain this awareness.

In any event, you can count on one thing the next four seasons: by the time we meet again in this space next year, you will be a lot more in contact with yourself, much more confident, and keenly aware of the difference between past issues and how you feel today.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
As you’ve discovered, there’s a difference between thinking you’re running your life, and actually doing so. You’re keenly aware at this point of all the ways you are at the mercy of the whims and decisions of others. Today and this weekend you can go a long way toward recognizing the specific ways in which you truly are at the wheel. Remember of course that no matter how fiery an Aries you are, you’re part of the human race, whose members have a distinct tendency to give their power to others. There is a temptation, which is the notion that it’s somehow an easier way to live. Family Focus: Find a way to show children that love is not always about drama.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
Since the real concern on your mind would appear to be security, why don’t you confront that one directly? Not whether a certain person can offer you security, but rather the whole issue and its origins. Who gave you your preconceptions of what it means to be safe? What are the contradictions in those ideas? It would seem that in any quest for solid ground, you are seeking something in your life you feel has gone missing. You can figure out just what this is, but the surprise may be when you discover that it was not missing at all. Family Focus: A child who is emotionally distraught will bounce back in a few weeks.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Keep your resources moving, including various forms of assistance and support. Pay attention to who needs what, who has what to offer, what you need and what you have to offer — then arrange a distribution network. This is not only good karma, it will actually make your life, and those of your friends, a good bit easier. Better still, the astrology of the moment is about establishing patterns. This is just the kind of pattern we all need, and you happen to be in a rare position to do something about it. Family Focus: A trusted uncle understands a particular problem that a child is having.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Once you know what you want and what you value, you can take leadership, and that is the theme of today and the next few days. True enough, you’re not in a position of perfect harmony with your environment, but you’re doing a lot better than you have been any time recently. This is in part because you’re allowing the chaos factor to work for you rather than against you. If you remember that any idea in original form will differ somewhat from the idea in polished form, you’ll feel much more sure of yourself, and others will feel more confident as well. Family Focus: Children are empathic and observant now, but may be saying nothing about what they notice.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Innovation is the key, and it need not be a big fancy one. The thing about keys is when the right one fits the lock, nobody really cares what it looks like; it worked. It may be a small key that does the trick, and you may have to turn it gently, and if it doesn’t work, there may be a back window open that you can crawl through. You can, however, trust that the way is open, that ideas will flow, and that you will have the resources you need to ensure your wellbeing. Be mindful, however, that your notion of wellbeing is also taking a journey. Family Focus: Keep a sense of proportion. Any crisis is far smaller than it seems.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
The missing piece may be showing up today, but don’t be too shocked if it turns out to be the recognition that that you didn’t quite understand where someone was coming from. In any event, you’re set for yet another discovery of where a partner stands, and I know there have been a few of those lately. The surprise, however, will be figuring out how useful the information is. You now have a chance to go with their process instead of against it. It’s not like you have to cave in to someone’s viewpoint, but rather, put that viewpoint to work for you. To put it bluntly, know to whom you’re selling. Family Focus:Real time with kids and loved ones will prove to be a deep inspiration.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Life is better when people are direct with us — that is, if you’re a bold person. A certain individual’s blunt and perhaps insensitive honesty may be off-putting for the first three minutes, but I suggest you get over it a little quicker than that. Immediately pluck up some confidence and make sure the discussion continues, particularly if this person is in a position of authority in your life. Over the next few days, you may decide you’re deeply grateful for their gesture, and what you learn as a result. This is all part of a plan to make your life easier, and it will work wonders in time. Family Focus: Young ones benefit from discussions of people with values very different than yours.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Yesterday’s ideas are too often of little use today. But the planets and the intelligence that orchestrates them are suggesting strongly that you not only hold on to your ideas, but also dust them off every day and take them one step further. Let this be a devotion over the next month. Take a chance on the possibility that you’re cultivating a garden, or a particularly brilliant project, or solving the oldest, most troubling problem you’ve faced all your life. This may seem like an unlikely week, but sooner or later, the knot untangles. It may as well be now. Family Focus: A child understands something that an adult caregiver does not.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
There is more developing in your life than you may imagine. I may have said this before, but this time I really mean it, in hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades. Much seems uncertain now. It’s impossible to get a grasp on who feels what, who means what, and who is about to do what. I suggest you let none of it bother you at all, and just let the story develop. What happens today is just a sign of the positive developments to come, and how many people’s lives will improve when the results of all your devotion and work come to fruition. Family Focus: No matter what you’re planning, make sure you maintain some ‘normal programming’ every day for your kids and partner.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Welcome an opportunity to spend time at home with someone you care about. I would not be surprised at all if ‘out’ is the last place you feel like being at the moment, but you’re also fully aware of people and your desire for contact with them. Part of why you may feel like being a little more retreating than usual involves an aspect between Pluto and your ruling planet, Saturn. There is a deep, rare change occurring in your life, which will soon manifest clearly. It’s not wrenching and dramatic, but it’s penetrating and somewhat urgent — so conserve your energy. Family Focus: Kids know perfectly well how to be free. Let them lead the way.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Continue to take professional matters slowly and carefully. What seems simple today will seem complicated tomorrow, and you need to remember the basics. The basics are the simplest way to state the purpose of any enterprise. Something like, “The purpose of a horoscope column is to give readers insight into their lives, to which they can come back to dependably.” Use that sentence structure when you’re trying to assess the purpose of anything, particularly a professional situation. Then between now and Nov. 9 or so, keep repeating it, particularly if you’re feeling confused. Family Focus: Tell your children about what you’re experiencing. They will understand.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Finances are now the focus. Take the weekend and think through some of the more challenging questions you’ve been facing and you will undoubtedly come up with answers by Monday morning. Don’t push or squeeze for the information, just work through the questions until you make a little progress, then make a little more. The timing on taking action is, by the way, a good few weeks off, so there is no rush — you have plenty of time to plot, scheme and refine your plays. Speaking of plays, this is less about work and more about fun. Family Focus: Your children and loved ones benefit greatly from your self-respect.


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