Pin in Map: Jupiter Conjunct Uranus

Ashokan Reservoir spillway, April 17, 2024. Photo by Eric Francis. More details at bottom.

Dear Friend and Reader:

I read a week ago in the New York Post’s astrology column (not its horoscope, they have both) that after the April 8 eclipse, the drama is not over — we still have the “even bigger” Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of April 20.

Jupiter is pretty big and Uranus can shake a mountain. The conjunction between the two of them is a 13-year event, and it’s described in exuberant terms by Richard Tarnas in his book Prometheus the Awakener.

I don’t have the book (about Uranus) handy, but back when things meant something, Jupiter meeting up with Uranus in this way signified meetings between great people, creative and technological breakthroughs and spontaneous moments of revelation and discovery.

Today, you could discover the ultimate secret to the universe, get distracted, click on a cool-looking banner and forget what it was.

Pay attention to who you meet these days. Pay attention to what begins. Never sign your life away — leave room for the unexpected (Uranus) and for learning and growth (Jupiter). There is more to come.

Ashokan reservoir spillway, April 17, 2024. Photo by Eric Francis

Concentrated Points of No Return

Both the eclipse and the conjunction represent significant personal and cultural developments (which I have been selling as a kind of fused event) — though eclipses have a way of dragging vast numbers of people into their sphere.

This is true even when they’re not visible; they are actual multidimensional events in space and time, and represent concentrated points of no return. The Moon and the Sun are right nearby; they are natural forces in the everyday world, connected with maleness, femaleness, the tides, the seasons and going to the beach.

When there is an earthquake felt in New York City right before an eclipse, The New York Times has to write an article saying no, it wasn’t caused by the eclipse. When an earthquake happens around a conjunction, nobody has heard of the conjunction.

But you have, and the meeting of Jupiter and Uranus is upon us. It takes place in Taurus on Saturday, the same day that the Sun enters Taurus. It also coincides with the Scorpio Full Moon (that’s on Wednesday, April 23) and the end of Mercury retrograde (two days later).

Our lives already have an out-of-control feeling, and this is like driving a little too fast when you come up on a series of tricky interchanges. The one thing you can do is slow down, keep your eyes on the road and maybe ask a co-pilot (friend, colleague, roommate, hitchhiker) to read the highway signs.

If eclipses are a point of no return, remember: with this conjunction happening now, we’re still there. There’s still time to make real decisions.

Spillway Gorge, downstream from the reservoir. Photo by Eric Francis.

What Was Your Initiation?

I suspect that for many, the 4/8 eclipse conjunct Chiron represented an initiation of some kind. An initiation means “to begin,” but it can also mean a rite of passage or a trial by fire. Such are always summonings to awakening. By “awakening” I mean to the true sobriety of your own consciousness.

Many are called; few respond. That eye of the centaur was a narrow passage. Chiron can represent painful experiences that (more often than not) we’re ultimately grateful for. It can also call up the need for healing past injuries or inherited wounds.

Eclipses often have this feeling, but the very exact conjunction to Chiron intensified the initiatory feeling of it by a few degrees of magnitude. This was an invitation to do some of the real work of healing. Our entire society is designed to avoid this.

The essence of Chiron transits and events is that of catching up with yourself. You may experience them as points of reconciliation, or even a mini-bankruptcy where you have to give up something and start over.

Sometimes there is the feeling of having had enough of something and you can finally let go of it, even after a long struggle. Sometimes you don’t have the idea you need to let go of something, or get over someone, and it just happens. Since this was an event in Aries, it was deeply personal.

Now that’s a place I would love to jump into the water — but it’s strictly verboten. Detail of Spillway Gorge. Photo by Eric Francis.

Digital Entanglement

The encrypted aspect of Aries and all that happens there is currently the way that the digital environment has become entwined with all of our self-awareness, self-concept, sense of identity and every facet of our relationships.

People are going on and on about the effects of artificial intelligence and infusion in digital technology, and some of that writing makes worthwhile points. But nearly all of it misses the point that we are the bottom line: each of us. The actual impact of AI is not swarms of robots, but swarms of people who are taught to be who we are by robots. All of us exist in two dimensions: one on the physical plane, the other on a synthetic astral plane known as the internet.

Many are more digital than physical, though in any event, the interplay (which is largely an unconscious thing) is at the root of many inward and external conflicts. It’s the essence of the feeling, “everything is going out of control.”

And as well, the impersonal feeling of society. When you get the sense that a humanoid you’re talking to cannot go off-script for even a second, you’re talking to someone who has been taught to “be themselves” by robotic technology.

The humorless, sexless quality of the world; the bald insensitivity; the inhumane quality; the sense of people being inaccessible and unavailable; and most of all, the free-floating rage: these are effects of robotics on consciousness.

To keep your humanity, I propose you need to do two things, mostly: trust yourself, and be real. They are integral to one another. One is worthless without its counterpart.

Water funnels into the spillway gorge. Photo by Eric Francis.

In the News: Our Moment

News headlines can be read like tarot cards, which give a picture of the moment. Please keep in mind that these things also reflect the first seasons of Pluto in Aquarius.

In the days before the great conjunction, Israel and Iran stand on the brink of war. Iran is said to have launched a volley of missiles and drones at Israel last weekend, and Israel has yet to mount a reprisal.

In Thursday’s New York Times, one headline reads, “Miscalculation Led to Escalation in Clash Between Israel and Iran.” There is also an article about Google firing 28 employees involved in a protest over the company providing cloud services to Israel.

The former president of the United States and potential next president is facing 34 felony charges. The trial began Tuesday when the first jurors were sworn in.

This is the first time a U.S. president is facing criminal charges, and it’s also the first time a presumptive nominee is. The charges relate to accounting maneuvers used to conceal a $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, a porn actress with whom he had an extramarital sexual affair. She will be a star witness in the trial.

Meanwhile, Pres. Biden’s son Hunter is facing up to 17 years in federal prison if convicted of firearms charges, and is also facing federal tax charges in a second criminal case. For the first time in history, felony charges are the norm for both major presidential candidates.

Colorado has extended digital privacy rights to include brainwaves gathered from devices such as meditation enhancement headbands. And in Oman, a year’s worth of rain in a single day killed 19 people and paralyzed cities in the United Arab Emirates.

Ashokan Spillway, photo by Eric Francis.

If, Through All the Madness

There’s an old Carly Simon song I love, called Safe and Sound. While it’s ultimately romantic (and therefore, escapist), it offers a semi-fictional accounting of headlines from the mid-1970s that’s always stuck with me.

Here’s a sample of the words:

Flash from Mexico, the toreadors have all turned gay
Roman whores have quit to seek a better way
Dope has undermined the morale of the Buckingham Palace guards
Motorcycle gangs ride naked down Hollywood Boulevard

What’s impressive 50 years on is how “the madness” seems so innocent. Naked motorcycle gangs! How quaint…how friendly.

More was happening in the mid-’70s, of course — the Nixon resignation happened the year the song came out; the windup of direct American involvement in the Vietnam holocaust; the 1973 oil crisis; and much other mischief.

Even those events seem low-impact in contrast to the current global situation.

Carly concludes her song, “If, through all the madness, we can stick together, we’re safe and sound.” This is still true in a sense — though it extends far beyond the special relationship. We need a vastly extended sense of “we.”

The impact of digital technology, and the past four years in particular, has been to rip us apart from one another. We see this happening, and act as if it’s not.

That’s exactly the kind of division of consciousness that will be greatly enhanced by the new digital divide — the one between what’s real and what’s not.

With love,

Eric signature

About this week’s photos

Photo by Eric Francis.

It’s been a rainy spring here in New York. I live somewhat near the Ashokan Reservoir, the first of the great Catskill Mountain man-made lakes that provide water for New York City. It should be listed as a Wonder of the World. You can read about, hear an interview and even see a documentary about the construction on Planet Waves FM (I’ve posted the soundtrack as a player).

A dam blocks the modest Esopus Creek and (with the help of a good few weirs and dykes) the reservoir fills an entire valley where there were once 12 towns, many lush farms, a railroad and a few thousand graves.

It’s said to hold 123 billion gallons (this is obviously based on a calculated formula; nobody has measured with a bucket). I’ve read that the valley once held an ancient lake, which is probably true. This area was under a mile or two of ice 12,000 years ago.

The Spillway, in the first two photos, is where excess water runs into the lower Esopus, which was rerouted onto the bed of another creek whose name I forget. Then a mile or so downstream is a wholly natural item, a stone gorge. It’s the kind of thing you might miss if you drive over the bridge without looking at where you are.

All of the above photos were shot using a fast 70-200 lens, the same one I had on the camera from my previous night’s assignment.

Here is a picture of the flooded valley from the old days.

Here is a scene from the construction era, which gives you a sense of how big the thing is.

Possibly the town of Olive City during the building of the Ashokan Reservoir circa 1907. The town was soon submerged under 100 feet of water, along with 11 others. Photo from the Department of Environmental Conservation archives.

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