Our Extraordinary Pisces Moment

Dear Friend and Reader:

On March 8 (8:55 pm EST or 01:55 UTC on March 9) there will be a total eclipse of the Sun in Pisces. These don’t happen often. The eclipse cycle passes through each sign about once per decade, and there’s no assurance of total eclipses during any one encounter with a sign. This eclipse is so interesting that I’m planning to take the next two editions to tell you about it.

Boku-maru is the supreme act of worship of the Bokononists, which is an intimate act consisting of prolonged physical contact between the naked soles of the feet of two persons. It has its roots in the Books of Bokonon, which exist in fiction in the novel Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

The horoscope below is my extended monthly, and it’s based mostly on the chart for the eclipse, which is also the Pisces New Moon.

Everyone has Pisces in their chart; it’s just a matter of where. Symbolically, that influence enters your life from whatever house Pisces is connected with, and also from where the planets associated with Pisces are placed. All of the signs play their distinct role in the mandala that is your birth chart. Let’s start with a description of what Pisces is about in general, then follow the vortex toward some specifics.

Pisces is a mutable sign. The word ‘mutable’ means liable to change. It comes from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root that means “to change, go, move.” There is a cognate out of Sanskrit that means “changes, alternates, joins, meets.” The mutable signs get a bad rap in classical astrology. It would seem, however, that they bring something essential to the equation.

The seasons of the year all end with mutable signs. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, Gemini is the last sign of spring. Virgo is the last sign of summer. Sagittarius is the last sign of autumn. And Pisces is the last sign of both winter and of the astrological wheel itself.

Mutable signs are therefore about transitions. If you live in one of those places with actual seasons, imagine the feeling of late summer yielding to autumn. The weather can be distinctly different every day, though driving in a consistent direction. Imagine the feeling of late winter giving way to early spring. There can be the sensation of going back and forth between the current season and the new one, and the feeling of gathering momentum.

That sense of variance and movement along a clear course is the inner quality of any mutable sign. Pisces ends a season and also a full cycle of the solar year. Life is emerging from a dark, dormant state, with a surge of energy that every living critter can feel.

In late winter, the feeling of spring is undeniable. The energy is moving through the Earth and every living thing is getting ready to awaken. Photo of the Grandmother Land (facing east) by Eric Francis.

So Pisces is at once an ending, a time of preparation and a seed moment. Back before the Internet, Brits used to call Pisces the dustbin of the zodiac, meaning that it’s the place where old karma is swept up and stashed away. I prefer to think of Pisces as the ocean that refuses no river. Eventually all water on the planet makes its way to the ocean.

Whether we’re considering Pisces personally or collectively, Pisces is also a source of creative water and what you might think of as the undersea life of the psyche. Associated with all forms of art, music, sensuality, mysticism and the feeling of being in the cosmos, Pisces seems to serve as a converter of deep, primal energies into refined human expression. The two merge in the experience of dreams, which are both elemental experiences and often magnificent syntheses of symbol, concept and feeling.

On the shadow side, Pisces can be a blind spot — a place where people and things go missing or come unraveled — and it’s associated with delusion and denial. Yet these are properties that enhance the potential creative wealth associated with this sign. In order to bring something new into the world, it’s necessary to be at least slightly delusional and to suspend rationality.

In classical astrology, Pisces is associated with Jupiter, the biggest planet and the one astronomically that exerts the most influence and control over all the other orbiting bodies. Jupiter is now in the sign opposite Pisces, which is Virgo, the earthy sign corresponding to the watery quality of Pisces. That’s creating an unusual situation. Jupiter is acting like a receptor of the Pisces qualities I’ve described.

Bond of Union by M.C. Escher, 1956 lithograph. This image describes the current relationship between Virgo and Pisces.

It’s as if Virgo, symbolically the seat of logic and reason, is being flooded with the vibes from the abundant energy pouring out of Pisces. And what would that be?

There are currently a whole lot of planets in Pisces. Depending on how you define that term, at the time of the March 8 eclipse there will be the Moon and the Sun; the South Node of the Moon; Chiron, a centaur planet, associated with awareness, awakening and healing; Ceres, a dwarf planet (or the largest asteroid); Neptune, the modern planet associated with Pisces; Mercury, a planet associated with Virgo; and Nessus, the third centaur planet. There are a good few others, but that’s more than enough to get us started.

If Pisces represents a seed moment, that’s like the entire Burpee catalog sprouting out of the ground at once.

One of the most stand-out features of this chart is that Mercury, the Virgo planet, and Jupiter, the Pisces planet, are occupying one another’s signs. That’s called mutual reception, and it forms a kind of energy circuit along the Virgo/Pisces axis.

This chart section of the total solar eclipse shows some of what’s in Pisces. The first planet on the left is Venus, still in Aquarius. Then: Nessus, Mercury, Neptune, the Moon, the Sun, Chiron and the South Node. Above to the right is the Uranus-Eris conjunction, 2016-2017.

At the same time, Chiron, a modern planet often associated with Virgo, is in Pisces, enhancing the effect. Chiron brings a focusing quality to Pisces, making the ‘numinous’ more accessible. Chiron is like the lens in the projector or the nib on the pen, guiding creativity with structure and focus.

And the lunar nodes, which always travel as an axis, bridging two signs, are in Virgo and Pisces. So what we have is the merging or fusion of the Virgo/Pisces polarity. There is no better way to say “practical dreamer” than blending these two signs, and that is good news for everyone.

You might say that this is a visionary moment, where even the most rational plans can have an inspired feeling, and where one’s wildest dreams can manifest in useful form. We usually think of only the great visionaries being able to do this, but like a lot of things it’s a technology that is suddenly available to everyone.

I could write a book about how most of what actually gets done well in the world happens as a result of blending Virgo and Pisces energy, or — said another way — accessing the energy system represented by the whole axis. All pairs of opposite signs work this way, but it can be greatly enhanced by the presence of planets that facilitate the exchange, flow and balance of energy.

Focus on the Eclipse: Of Remembering and Forgetting

The South Node is now in Pisces, and this is an eclipse on that node. The South Node functions as a set of pre-existing tendencies, the results of the past — and as a release point. If Pisces is a dustbin, it’s time to take out the trash. If Pisces is a pool or basin of water, it’s time to drain it and clean out the bottom. If Pisces is a collection of emotional tendencies, it’s now time to choose the ones you want to leave behind. Yet this eclipse seems to be as much about remembering as it is about forgetting.

The eclipse is rather close to three minor planets. Memoria, an asteroid, is in the exact degree of the eclipse. While its direct translation is ‘memory’, though, it has a history in classical rhetoric: it’s the discipline of recalling the arguments of oratory. It’s about knowing your subject so well you don’t need to refer to notes, or as Dylan put it, knowing your song well before you start singing.

Additional planets in Pisces surrounding the eclipse, researched on Serennu.com. Tracy Delaney’s program lists all the stuff not found in ordinary charts. To the left is the minor planet catalog number; to the right, the degree position of the body. This includes Memoria, Borasisi, Manwe (another planet named for a fictional god, from the legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien), Atlantis and Salacia. I’ll say more about these next week.

Checking the Sabian symbols, a degree-by-degree reference tool, the eclipse occurs in an interesting degree of the zodiac — its symbol is “A master instructing his disciple.”

This has been rewritten to say, “Master and pupil commune in strength in a long walk.” Dane Rudhyar described this symbol as representing “the transfer of power and knowledge which keeps the original spiritual and creative impulse of the cycle active and understood.”

So in this eclipse there seems, at once, to be a theme of releasing something, and in that way, making room for some knowledge or wisdom that we must preserve.

What exactly needs to get released? I have an idea. One of the planets involved in the eclipse is called Borasisi; it’s in the very next degree, the second closest object to the eclipse.

Borasisi is an outer planet (located in the Kuiper Belt, slightly beyond Pluto) discovered in 1999 by three of my favorite astronomers, including Dr. Jane X. Luu. They did something unprecedented — they named their discovery for a fictional deity. Borasisi is the Sun-god in a religion in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle.

In this 1963 book, Vonnegut takes on some of the most relevant themes of our day, including the deceptions and delusions of science, the insanity of the nuclear arms race, the environmental crisis, and the way that technology seems to constantly create solutions that lead to even bigger problems.

It confronts the central lie that what we call progress actually gets us anywhere. In that book is the idea that if science is about the quest for truth, then the truth is what exploded over Hiroshima. The truth is what melted down at Fukushima.

The problem is that a great many people believe what is not true, and willingly embrace what harms them. We are bombed daily with ads for drugs; they must comprise half the adverts on cable TV.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (published in 1963) raises themes of science that we don’t hear about much any more, such as: is it ethical to rig the planet with nuclear bombs?

Who thinks about whether GMO foods are toxic before chowing down a plate of Taco Bell? Are you vaguely concerned if any of that Fukushima radiation melted down into your sushi? Do you spray your lawn with Roundup, to kill those mean, nasty dandelions? Have you ever taken an inventory of what’s under your sink, and what it can do to you?

The last time there was a New Moon conjunct Borasisi was this time of year in 2011. [Go back in time and read that issue here.] One week later, the Fukushima meltdowns occurred. Astonishingly, Vonnegut got many of his ideas for this novel while working as a PR man for General Electric, the same company that manufactured the reactors that exploded and melted down at Fukushima.

But in the five years since that authentic global-scale mess, we’ve seen very little progress on eliminating these disasters waiting to happen, and the nuclear industry is still selling itself as the panacea for climate change.

An eclipse conjunct Borasisi is suggesting we need to confront this religion of technological denial and delusion. We tend to act as if there are no consequences to technology.

Yet one-third to one-half of the population gets cancer, which is bad for us and fantastic for the makers of chemotherapy drugs. Vast swaths of the population suffer from endocrine disease, autoimmune disease and depression. We are facing an autism epidemic, an asthma and allergy epidemic, a food sensitivity pandemic and superstrains of bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics — but most people think there’s no known ’cause’ for these things. Except what we’ve done to the environment.

Part of the central delusion of these issues is that someone is going to do something about this for us; that there will be some big solution. Really, any solution begins with individual choices, commitment to being healthy, then getting together to figure out what we can do collectively.

More next week.

With love,

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for March 2016, #1089 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You may have the sensation that you’re sitting out in a lobby of a theater, while the most fabulous show ever is going on right on the other side of those doors. Yet you may feel like you can’t find your way into that other room, the one where all the action is. Here’s a clue: it’s inside you. That other space, or other dimension, is your own imagination. You are not missing anything at all; what’s happening is that your potential is expanding quickly, and will continue to do so until you can’t contain it any more. This may take a few weeks; then events will begin to manifest rapidly. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay in touch with your inner life. Recognize that the ideas you have are excellent, though they may be in nascent form. They will require development, and this will take patience and persistence. You need to have enough faith in what you’re creating to stick with the plan for long enough to get results, which will only be the beginning. Rather than slow down, the way to proceed is in tangible steps that you accomplish one at a time, which lead you forward in ways you notice. Patience and taking the long view may not be your strong suits, though there are rewards for developing these skills.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Hold the space open around you. You’re likely to be drawing a lot of attention; and if you’re not conscious about how you handle this, you may start to feel crowded out of your own life. The focus that others place on you can be helpful, but only if you manage it carefully. It’s necessary to know who are your friends, who are your allies and who is unhelpful — and treat everyone accordingly. You seem to be developing a more self-sacrificing way of living, which is a beautiful thing, as long as you understand why you’re doing it and maintain your sense of balance. For you, the important reality checks mostly involve whether your bodily needs are taken care of, beginning with rest, nourishment and time to contemplate your existence. Your life will have a tendency to go in the direction that it’s already going, so it will be helpful to intervene as soon as possible and make sure that the mixture is correct. At a certain point you’re going to let go into what may become a rapid flow of positive creative developments. This is a form of nourishment by itself, but you know that you’re not really happy unless you’re rested, washed and fed. To that I would add giving yourself some space and time that is all your own.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — As you know, it’s easier for you to have wide, general goals rather than specific ones. Yet in recent years, a few special ambitions have manifested and taken up a life of their own. Events this month, including a total eclipse in the house associated with your highest calling, can propel you to a new kind of success. This is, however, the kind of success for which there is no formula. Yet several things are clear. You must strive for what is important to you now. It’s easy to get caught up in old goals, or outdated images of yourself. Stay in the moment. What comes your way may be something you’ve never considered before. Real opportunities can be total surprises. You may not feel ready or creative enough; you may feel overwhelmed. Let none of that deter you. Many of the greatest successes in the world arrive at odd or inconvenient times. Many people discover talents they never would have considered unless the circumstances presented themselves. I suggest you use this extraordinary time as an opportunity to set aside your expectations, whether negative or positive, and rise to the occasion of what transpires. The world is a strange place right now, and the quantum idea that life is a dream we create was never more obvious than it is today. Dream beautifully.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — One of the most brilliant inventors of the 20th century, Buckminster Fuller, was born under the sign Cancer. What drove Fuller was his desire to take care of the world. He devoted his life to improving life on Earth, as someone who created technology that solved enormous problems. You have a strong, urgent streak of this drive to nurture the world. The truly unusual astrology of the next few weeks manifests in the most creative, passionate and visionary angle of your chart. This is the super-alignment in Pisces, complete with a total eclipse of the Sun. Consider this a dimension opening to some potential version of yourself that you always knew you could become. When it happens, it’ll feel like it was always there, right within you. Yet in the transition between now and that moment, I would remind you of a few things. One is to stay close to your erotic feelings. The sensation of yearning, craving and desire is your psychic fertility. Invite this into everything you do, and notice how you respond to every person in your environment. Next, I suggest you be aware of the power of flexibility. Any truly creative environment is dynamic: there are many variables acting simultaneously on one another. The most important one is your own awareness. You don’t need to be in control. You merely need to pay attention.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Clinging to yourself, your ideas, your ideals, your money or your energy does not help. Your life is a collaborative venture, and there seems to be some rapidly growing influence to get more involved, and to take this to a new level. Yet in order not to be swallowed by your circumstances, or overwhelmed, you must loosen up and invite progress, healing and pleasure into your environment. Many people have something to offer you right now. Without alienating anyone, I suggest you choose carefully in terms of who has the thing you need the most. It might not be your official partner. It might be someone you hardly know, or someone who mysteriously arrived in your life. It might be someone you’ve looked up to for a long time and now you know you’re ready for this particular form of exchange. Be open and keep a loose grip on your reality. This will be mostly true on the level of what you think is important. You may need to rearrange your priorities, and more than that, act boldly on them when you figure out what’s true for you. It’s important that you do this before you feel the influence of others. This way you will recognize what is possible, and know that the motivation to change and grow is coming from you and not from others. That will be your basis of real trust.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You seem to be in a situation where you must handle the changes someone close to you is going through in a fully conscious way. Yet you don’t need to confuse those changes with how you think someone feels about you. Seek and you shall find the truth of that. You may have to wait a little while, and you would be wise to be supportive and refrain from judgment if any unusual events unfold. The thing to do is look for the opening, where what seems to be one thing leads to something else. Your whole environment has that potential — of a portal through the illusion of something and into a reality that corresponds only because it was previously concealed. Use your intuition, instincts and your senses and see the world around you as it is. This corresponds closely to a world within; they are like holograms of one another; a fact that’s always true but is now becoming increasingly obvious, if you slow down enough to notice. Given that, I would suggest you take as your personal motto, “When in doubt, tune in.” Listen and feel. Your ability to influence the flow of your own life comes in your knowing when you’ve reached a point of decision and then using your power to choose. Nothing is destined. Nothing is fated. You remain the center of your reality.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Put your health and wellbeing first, and all else will flow from there. There are, to be sure, times a person’s gotta do what they gotta do — such as when duty calls. But this is theoretical if you lack the power to respond fully, and that is what I suggest you preserve and cultivate. You are sensitive right now; your emotions and the health of your body are more closely linked than ever. It’s for this reason that I suggest you tend to the needs of your body — for nourishment, water, rest and, most of all, pleasure. You have a lot to do; the environment in which you must perform has many variables, some of which have not manifested yet. Yet you can rise not just to the occasion of your circumstances but also to the occasion of your purpose. You are closer now to that purpose than you’ve been in a long time, despite the sensation that it’s difficult to grasp. The purpose of all your creativity is to develop your own original existence. Categories like art, work, personal, business, home, office, artist, craftsman and many others are blurred in your life to the point of being meaningless. You get to explore all of these things and develop them in ways that suit the purposes that you decide are valid. You are creator and created; be bold and loving as you may.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — We have all read that Scorpio is the most sexual sign. If there’s one thing that everyone knows about astrology, that would be it. What’s not known is how other signs arranged around the wheel facilitate this, the most significant being Pisces. Your creative zone — the do it for fun, get out the paints and the champagne, the cameras and the models, let’s get this art party going — is Pisces. This stokes your imagination, melts your tendency to be restrained, and gives you a place to get into the flow of life. And this whole region of your consciousness is not only calling you, it’s like the raging river on a glorious spring day inviting you to shoot the rapids. Here’s what I suggest. Rather than telling yourself how creative, or liberated, or experienced you are, approach life as a newcomer. You’re aware by now how much has changed around you, and how nearly every previous expectation you’ve encountered has melted, faded away or exploded. Approach your existence as a learner, always seeking permission to be a little more free. It’s true that you have to let go in order to do this, but you’re not dropping anything more than a shell you no longer need, and that never really protected you. Above all, I suggest you forget psychology and any any form of rationalizing, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to feel.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You seem to be alternating between the feeling of wanting to run coast-to-coast, and that of being backed into a corner. The first is a more accurate representation of your true state. The bit about being stuck or held down is merely because you have not yet figured out how to make the most of your circumstances. This, in part, is about an emotional quagmire connected to your family. There’s no version of ensnared as effective as the emotional dysfunctions of close relatives. What happens over the next few weeks is akin to a drain opening up at the bottom of your psyche, allowing you to drain one particular emotional pool associated with your distant past. This might even be your ancestral past. You came into this life a different person from your relatives, with a different mission and your own set of unique and vital assets. Don’t let anyone convince you that someone else’s problems are your own; but — closer to the point — don’t convince yourself. It will take some focus to step out of those influences, though the most effective way will be to step into your own life: your highest goals, your unusual style of leadership and your willingness to serve. Others who are obsessed with their problems live their way; you have your own agenda and every right to live fully.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Your chart looks as if you’re writing the greatest novel ever created. However, if that’s not exactly what’s happening, you might pay closer attention to the idea dynamo that is your mind — and show it some authentic respect. Rather than your usual concepts of propriety and integrity, however, this is the respect that an artist in her studio would demonstrate for an infinite supply of paint and canvas: the willingness to hang loose and experiment. The ideas you’re thinking, feeling or at least capable of are not anything that’s been thought of before. What you express, therefore, has no need to be based on anything tried and true, certified wholesome or subject to the rules of grammar. You are safer in deep water than you are near the rocks and shoals of others’ expectations (or presumed expectations). The days of living up to your parents are long since gone. That revolution has happened, though freedom makes people nervous. Have you noticed that? Most people don’t trust themselves actually to be free, and so generally choose some form of confinement (usually mental, and often sexual). That policy will not facilitate the cosmic explosion going on in your mind right now — though you must. Do yourself a huge favor and face your own infinite potential. Give yourself permission to take the chance. Make up the rules as you go, the most important of which is some form of YES.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — It’s time to take a step financially. However, for this to work, you will need to make contact with money as the expression of something else, perhaps several other things; and you would decide what they are. It would seem that your fortunes are intimately intertwined with those of someone else, but that is the nature of any economic system; you are not walking around gathering nuts and berries (and even that was done with collaboration). Your own sense of your value to the world is what to focus on first. In the vast exchange process that is the whole world right now, you are giving up something old for something new. Look carefully for some element of your values that no longer works, and update it for something that is about right now: the world the way you know it is today, and who you know yourself to be today. Figure out exactly what you have to offer, from the core-center known as your soul, and then notice who will benefit from that quality. This is your point of exchange. The most vital conducting medium will be service rather than money, though correctly financing the venture is clearly in the stars. Remember at every single turn that this is about you, and it’s also about a heck of a lot more than you. That is happy news.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You will live a year or two this month. It’s as if you’re entering an acceleration chamber, where you will be taken from where you are now, through many changes, to a new place and time. It’s therefore essential that you know the direction you’re headed, and have some idea where you want to go. This means focusing goals in tangible language. Work from your highest priorities, and put some thought into what they are. Eliminate goals that are no longer actually on your agenda. Then you might revisit certain desires, ambitions and objectives that you let go of in the past, whether because they seemed impossible or because you were not ready. You will find that some of those things seem much more practical and attainable now. The whole world is in a phase of acceleration, moving so fast that people don’t have time to think. You, however, must take the time, and consider where you’ve been, where you are, and what you want. This will invariably lead to considering who you were, who you are and who you want to be. Remember that the feeling tone of those destinations is as vital as the specific facts: tones and shades such as relaxed, loving, spacious, creative, erotic, exciting, alive, engaged, successful — mix and match your favorites, then feel your way there.

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