Dear Friend and Reader:
Back during the Cheney-Bush administration, I used to have this notion that there was an astrologer working in the White House who was taking it upon himself to sabotage everything they tried to do. For example, they invaded Iraq with the Sun in the last degree of Pisces, when they could have waited one day and had it in the first degree of Aries, honoring the god of war and drawing on fire instead of water. But with their late Pisces military action, they got a toxic, unnecessarily deadly and expensive bog that seems to work for no one except military contractors.
More recently, the Obama administration has been saying that the last day that the United States will have money to pay its bills is Tuesday, Aug. 2. Therefore, the debt ceiling must be raised so that the government can cover basic services and make interest payments on prior debts. That happens to be the day that Mercury stations retrograde.
You don’t need to know that much astrology to see the potential problem with this. The last few days leading up to any Mercury retrograde can be chaotic. Murphy’s Law often seems to be in full effect. These days, sometimes called the Mercury storm, don’t lend themselves well to complicated projects, and even if you make progress leading up to them, all of a sudden Mercury switches directions and you can be back to step one. While most astrologers would avoid making arrangements with Mercury retrograde, just about every astrologer will at least tell you to wait out the storm and do things while Mercury is moving solidly one direction or the other.
Plans seem to be unraveling over and over as divided Republicans in the House of Representatives cannot get clear over what to do. There are divisions between the Tea Party Republicans and the older more traditional Republicans; and there are big divides within the Tea Party itself. They all seem to agree that (in theory, anyway) taxes won’t go up, and tax loopholes won’t be closed. Yes, the Christians refuse to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. What they can’t agree on is how much damage to do to Social Security. This is on one level a conversation about taking from the poor and giving to the rich. And Obama seems to be playing along with it.
But there is a deeper game going on. Republicans want Obama and the Democrats to give them cover for their votes earlier this year to kill Medicare. In other words, they want to get Democrats to vote for Medicare cuts (even small ones) so that they can say, “But the Democrats voted for Medicare cuts too!” in the 2012 campaign. If instead it becomes a point of contrast between the parties in the upcoming election and Democrats choose to campaign on it, we’re looking at another big wave election that gives Democrats huge majorities in both houses and an Obama landslide. The polls are extremely clear on this point, but this is going to take guts and commitment that we have not seen coming from the Democratic party or its leaders any time recently.
Meanwhile, the fundamentalist fringe movement is pushing the country toward both default and a drop in the United States (as of today) AAA bond rating. Either or both events would drive interest rates up for all Americans and American businesses, which would likely trigger an even bigger global recession. This is being done in the name of lower taxes and saving the economy. It reminds me of hanging themselves so they can’t eat so much — therefore they will lose weight. There are a large number of congressional representatives (nearly all of them Tea Party-types) who say they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances. In other words, they are intentionally pushing the government into default. Many want to see the federal government hobbled; others seem not to understand that there’s a problem; the majority are using this as an opportunity to damage or destroy what they think of as ‘socialist’ programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This attempt to dismantle traditional government structure is an interesting image of Pluto in Capricorn in a wholly destructive manifestation.
And all of this is happening in the few days leading up to Mercury stationing retrograde on Aug. 2, suggesting that little (or nothing) will get done, or that it won’t go according to plan and will need to be done over. Mercury stationing retrograde, especially in a mental sign like Virgo, can also represent people changing their minds. For reasons I will describe in a moment, that would indeed be a miracle. Here we have people claiming to have sworn to uphold the constitution and who have made a big show about it (remember the Republican stunt of reading the Constitution out loud at the beginning of the congressional session earlier this year?), threatening to default on the full faith and credit of the United States.
There’s one other astrological current event that qualifies as A+ interesting. In an article from earlier in the year called Here at the Edge of the World, I described many charts that have an important element at 28+ Gemini. Those include the main chart of the Sept. 11, 2001 incident (the Moon); the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004 (the Moon); WikiLeaks (the ascendant); the Fukushima quake, tsunami and meltdowns of March 11, 2011 (the South Node); and Japan (the Moon). Mars is currently approaching that degree of the zodiac.
It will arrive Sunday morning, setting off all of those charts at once, giving this moment something distinctive in common with many of the weird things that have happened the past 10 years. As the Republican/Tea Party/conservative coalition in the House of Representatives starts to flake apart, we have yet another image of an unraveling power structure. We get another opportunity to see things how they really are. This seems to be just one more way the veneer is being torn off of so-called conservatism, the most recent (and ongoing) example being the still-unraveling Murdoch media empire. Though it’s out of the headlines in the United States for the moment, there was a development yesterday: the mother of another murdered child had her phone hacked by News of the World, sparking a new wave of outrage in the UK this week.
Mercury Retrograde — Aspects to Neptune and Transpluto
Mercury will be retrograde for most of August, between the 2nd and the 26th. The effect ripples out for about two weeks before and after the exact retrograde (called the shadow or echo phase). Mercury begins its retrograde in Virgo. It arrived there Thursday, creeping along in direct motion. It will station back into Leo on Aug. 9, and spend most of its time retrograde there. After stationing direct the 26th, Mercury will remain in Leo till Sept. 10, when it re-enters Virgo in direct motion.
Said simply, during this retrograde cycle, Mercury changes signs between Leo and Virgo several times. This is one of the lines adjoining our ideas of work and play; between a serious attitude and a more passionate one; between the creative force and the intellectual one. One way or another, we will all be working out some of the calculus regarding this important boundary.
Now, it happens that there is a big planet right in the first degree of Pisces — that would be Neptune. And there is an odd little point right in the last degree of Leo, called Transpluto. After being in Leo since 1937, this hypothetical point (a theoretical planet, used only by astrologers) is now transitioning into Virgo. Seventy-four years is a long time for any point to stay in one sign, so this is a transition worth paying attention to. And while it’s making this transition, it’s exactly opposite Neptune, and getting a series of conjunctions from Mercury.
The themes of Transpluto include raising awareness of rigid concepts, self-judgments and harsh or strict emotional treatment of oneself or others. As an influence in Leo for many generations, I believe it describes some of our problems with self-esteem. It’s like a narrow, judgmental thought form that we act out first on ourselves, then on others. And I would say that this concept tends to operate ‘unconsciously’ or is considered part of a normal personality. It can be associated with normal emotions such as vindictive jealousy, competition between mothers and daughters, and a variety of other feelings that manifest subtly or not so subtly.
When Mercury makes aspects to something, that’s about awareness. So we get an opportunity to see how rigid we can be, and maybe do something about it. I’m confident that under this astrology, we will have direct experiences of being exactly as intransigent as we are. What is normally unconscious will become more available to awareness. You can think of it as consciousness, or an idea, passing through a narrow space; this aspect reminds us that we may be witnessing the birth of a new paradigm.
Mercury is also making a series of oppositions to Neptune. The opposition between these two planets is saying pay attention, be realistic and consider what is true and what isn’t. It’s a classical setup for a lack of integrity unless you work diligently to have some. There is something here calling out for intellectual honesty; there is the reminder that every deception takes two parties, the one who deceives and the one who allows themselves to be deceived.
These themes of psychological narrowness, deception and rigid ideas can be applied easily to the ongoing political situation. For example, we’re being told over and over again that tax cuts for the rich create jobs (were that true, there would be lots and lots of jobs available right now) and that cutting government spending during a recession is a good thing (no serious economist believes that). Tax cuts for the wealthy (for whom the Doublespeak jargon is now ‘job creators’) tend to go into investments or to pay back debts, and the money stops circulating. Paychecks, unemployment checks and welfare benefits immediately circulate into the real economy, helping many people and businesses along the way.
The Cancer Miasm and the Tea Party
Wednesday night I had dinner with a friend who’s an experienced homeopath and teacher, helping me fill in some gaps in my studies. He was describing what homeopaths call the cancer miasm: that is, the whole thought form and energy pattern associated with the disease cancer. We Americans live in what may be the most carcinogenic society on Earth, and homeopathy proposes that this is as much about our mentality as it is about toxins in the food and water. Even mainstream medical practitioners note that one thing many cancer patients have in common is the habit of suppressing their emotions, but homeopathy is describing something other than an individual state. And it is describing how individual states of mind are an aspect of the larger culture.
My friend described the cancer miasm as being about a psyche gripped by intractable ideas; that is to say, a mind that will not budge. This is the essence of fundamentalism, a mode of thinking that currently has the United States Congress and thus the world economy by the throat. Everyone on the majority side in the House of Representatives pretty much agrees that any raising of additional revenue is out of the question, and that they’re going to cut benefits from people living on government pensions they paid into for decades. Note that I am talking about a psychic state described by homeopathy and not conventional medicine; there is some relationship, and it’s not necessarily direct (though it can be). It influences everything from our politics and social behavior to our food production methods. We all struggle with the miasms of our whole society and our family, not just the individual ones we have. We live in a carcinogenic society that produces cancer in nearly half of all people. This is territory not embarked on by conventional medicine, which deals only in dose-response relationships and only rarely addresses mental or emotional states — or their effects. Within the fundamentalist movement, there are fixed ideas about sex (don’t talk about it), abortion (murder in all instances), birth control (now also considered murder) and homosexuality (no way, Jose). All unions are bad, government is bad, taxes are bad, regulations are bad, and on and on, ad nauseam. Note carefully (it is not that hard to see) that nothing is being created except chaos. There is no plan to make, to build, to improve, to develop; the only goal is to control people (mainly through sex and private relationships) and eliminate the government’s role in the process of creating civilization. This philosophy of government is a disease process: cancer of the mind. There is something — you might call it a spiritual presence — lacking at the center of people and organizations who think this way which leads the way to aggressive religiosity. The Grand Canyon is really 6,000 years old and there were dinosaurs around when Jesus was alive. Who cares about science? There’s no such thing as evolution. (Go figure!) Like the often aggressive medical condition known as cancer, this mentality also facilitates aggression in general: multiple wars, a five-fold increase in prison population, numerous, ongoing accounts of police brutality (including the frequent abuse of Tasers) and so forth — and note that it seems to be ‘untreatable’ and out of control.
In the midst of all of this, there’s a rule that says absolutely no compromise. Do not bend. Never give in. Never flex. Have you wondered about this? Pres. Obama politely pointed it out in his speech Monday night — the part about compromise being a dirty word. We saw a lot of this operating in the days when Karl Rove was in the news. One of Rove’s most basic plays is never back down. The people currently holding Congress hostage are so convinced they’re right that they’re willing to let the whole economy crumble before they consider some other possibility.
I don’t think a majority of people think this way, but this style of thinking is certainly all the rage in politics right now. “If they budge on their position, they fear they will collapse,” my friend said of those gripped by the cancer miasm. “They reject all rational arguments in order to maintain their insanity.”
This condition has three main psychological roots. One is the compulsive need for control over themselves and their immediate environment. This extends into the environment as the desire to control others, but the real struggle is for self-control. That can be projected out into fantasies of total control over everyone and everything.
Second is the wobble factor: there is no stability to this type of psyche, and the prior characteristic is an attempt to compensate for this. With this comes the fear of being attacked, which would precipitate both lack of stability and loss of control. Intellectual process is replaced by superstition and belief in ‘out there’ notions.
Third is a lack of centeredness. There is no sense of the core of their being, of an inner reality. Everything gets pushed out to a rigid surface of the psyche — what Wilhelm Reich called personality armor. This leads to loss of sensitivity, loss of contact with the world, and a sense of isolation from people and from reality. It’s like having a thick shell that allows for no compassion or human sensitivity.
This condition describes many of the people we see in modern politics, as well as the people who support them. The crazy thing about the Tea Party movement is that it’s not really possible to discuss the issues. Everything comes from a predetermined place. The framework of the discussion is fixed far in advance and can never change, except to become more rigid. What people with this picture need is to develop some psychic mobility and a sense of flow — but that feels really dangerous.
But what about the rest of us? What about the people who don’t start this way, but who eventually fall for it? My friend described another energetic picture, described by one of the homeopathic remedies: that of being divided against oneself. It’s the way of thinking wherein, ‘this may be true, but that may also be true. Maybe there isn’t really a truth. Who knows?’ It’s not really possible to come to a conclusion; the truth does not really exist. Then the left and right sides go into battle, or as is often the case, the upper and the lower (mind versus body, for example).
This condition is described by another homeopathic concept — a remedy called Anacardium. It is made from a tropical plant; note that in homeopathy remedies have complex pictures that emerge over many years of use. The word means ‘without heart’. Anacardium tends to describe the majority of people who don’t want to commit to a position, who consider themselves middle of the road. It’s a lot like the situation of an abused child whose parent will not let them make any decisions, such as what clothes to wear. If they digress, they will be punished cruelly. So they behave well, but underneath that facade is the sense of being disgusted with themselves. That describes the weakened condition of the American public rather succinctly.
In a column Wednesday, Paul Krugman of The New York Times explained that the mentality killing the United States is not right-wing extremism. Rather, he proposes, “the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.”
He notes correctly that news reports portray a situation “in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.”
“What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most voters, who get their information on the fly rather than doing a careful study of the issues, to understand what’s really going on,” he said. “The ‘both sides are at fault’ people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.” He ends somewhat ominously: “It’s a terrible thing to watch, and our nation will pay the price.” What he is saying is that the pre-existing heartless middle of the road position makes us susceptible to fundamentalist abuse.
Let’s review the two concepts. The cancer miasm that infects fundamentalist politicians is about being overcommitted to one side and totally intransigent. In this state, flexibility is death — leading to death. The Anacardium position suffered by most voters (who cannot seem to discern good from evil, or who vote for the politicians who openly want to take away their privileges) is about refusing to commit to anything at all, lacking any confidence. It is the product of abuse, and subject to abuse and opportunistic disease (such as cancer). The two are a dangerous combination because those who are overcommitted will find it easy to push around the people who are not committed at all.
Mercury Stationing in Virgo, Mars Entering Cancer
Mercury stationing retrograde in Virgo on Tuesday is the perfect image of changing one’s mind. Virgo is a mutable sign, and it has a mental quality; Mercury rules Virgo, and it’s intelligent, mentally agile and adaptable. And this agility is not always merely an option. Mercury stationing can create situations to which we have to adapt whether we like it or not. Think of it as a decision you make in your healing process because you want to be well. So in the midst of all this intractability, we have a teaching moment that’s likely to reveal it really does help to be able to think things over and do what’s right. Mercury stationing retrograde in Virgo is about discernment.
But something else interesting happens the next day. On Wednesday, Mars enters the sign Cancer. Concurrently with the retrograde of Mercury, Mars makes aspects to nearly every slow-moving planet. This includes the T-square on the cardinal cross (Uranus in Aries, Saturn in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn) — so we’re going to get an approximately four-week spell when the 2012 alignment (the cardinal T-square) is fully activated and becomes a grand cross. On Aug. 17, Mars will cross over the degree of the July 1 solar eclipse, reminding us what that was about. (It was a big eclipse, as we are now discovering.)
As it moves through the sign Cancer, Mars makes what are called hard aspects to Saturn, Uranus and Pluto — indicating the potential for some hotheaded, reactionary and yes, rigid emotions (the sign Cancer principally expresses itself emotionally). This is a good time to get beneath the shell (associated with the crab) and defensiveness of this sign, and open up to the deeper empathy we’re all capable of. And we will have help.
As Mars moves through Cancer, it does something else: it makes trines to Neptune in Pisces, then Chiron in Pisces. A trine, considered a soft aspect, is an aspect of flow, and this is a trine involving two of the water signs. Mars is alternately making hard and soft aspects, suggesting that water will have the opportunity to take the path of least resistance — the experience of flow and flexibility. Water signs are involved: this is creative flow, with a feeling of empathy, and creative results.
While the Mercury station in Virgo gives the opportunity to be mentally flexible, make decisions and use our intelligence, the Mars aspects give us the choice to express rather than suppress our emotions. The two are related; both describe becoming unstuck, but in both instances, it’s a conscious act — the healing process (as humans experience it) is a conscious choice. These aspects suggest we will have lots of options, if we choose to explore them.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, July 29, 2011, #869 – BY ERIC FRANCIS
Aries (March 20-April 19) — If you have the impulse to help someone, make sure your resulting gesture is actually going to be helpful — in advance. Perhaps go one step deeper and question your motives, and your perception that anyone in particular needs your assistance. If those checks tell you to proceed, I suggest you then call the person up and ask if there is some way you can help, rather than just taking it upon yourself to do so. Meanwhile the focus of your life really needs to be you right now. You’re entering a phase ideal for inner questioning, and seem to be seeking the resolution and completion of certain stories that have gone on seemingly forever. Your first impulse to cut yourself off from the past may be followed by the recognition that you have yet to do precisely that, but remember what you’re seeking is not ‘cutting off’ but rather emotional closure.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Pay attention to the conditions at the beginning of any story or circumstance to get a sense of how it’s likely to work out. Pay attention to the presence of unresolved material from the last cycle, because it’s likely to be carried over into the next one. Aspects of yourself that you think of as inherent or unable to change are the ones that are caught on this treadmill. It can, at first, take an enormous amount of will power (conscious intention, followed up by action, with the results reinvested in intention) to get out of a cycle wherein history repeats itself. But there is something else at work. It’s about belief. Usually, belief is an unconscious process; the decision to accept something as true or not is rarely preceded by actual thought and contemplation. I suggest you watch this process in action — particularly when it comes to what you believe about yourself. It’s not all true.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — You seem to be focused on the distant past. I suggest you sort out the difference between your opinion of things, and how you feel about them. Your mind seems to be overrunning your emotions, and your emotions are trying to come to the surface. One way to work with this is to set aside your opinions and stick to the basic facts of any situation. Given that certain key parts of this scenario are related to the history of your life, and the history of your family, that may take some research, though that will serve a few purposes. One will be to correct any misconceptions you may have; incorrect facts have a way of leading to frustrating or useless opinions. Second, you’ll get a chance to be a bit more detached about your situation, which will allow your perceptions some space to take in the nature of reality. Remember, the ‘nature of reality’ is best explored as an experiment in perception. You don’t need to come to any conclusions; anyway I don’t think they will help you, because what you’ll benefit from most is an open mind.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — There are two really good ways to work with money. One is to treat it as a science. The flow of wealth has certain properties that are rather unrelated to what you may have been brainwashed with as a kid. Careful study of people, of how they conduct transactions, and where you fit into the equation will tell you a lot. The second way is to treat money as energy, which can flow or get stuck. You can have a lot of energy, and it can get hung up; you can have relatively little and it can flow nicely and you feel successful. Yet the thing that will prevail over both is how you feel about yourself. This is the one essential thing that will have a way of dictating all the terms of your existence. No matter what else you may feel, believe or be up to, how you feel about yourself is both cause and effect; origin, journey and destination. Question your judgments. Embrace and share your gifts.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — This weekend’s New Moon in your birth sign is the harbinger of great beginnings. I suggest you take the long view, however, and not let any questions or doubts get in your way. Keep them on your shelf, where you can see them, but you don’t have to take them down and play with them every 20 minutes. It’s true that to ‘succeed’ means being on the brink of failure; to ‘have’ is right on the edge of not having. It is this line that so many people fear getting close to, opting instead for the supposedly safe ground of mediocrity. That is not your fate, though the coming few weeks represent a time of re-evaluation of your goals, your plans and more than anything your deeper sense of purpose. You were given the talents that you have; what do you plan to do with them, and more significantly, for what purpose? You are in a time in your life when great things are possible, and perhaps when you’re experiencing more truly positive developing than you give yourself credit for.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — It is sad but true that most people who pass through our planet don’t go much deeper than the surface of who they are. One tradition I respect describes this as “the fear to look within,” which emerges from one thing — the fear of what we think we will discover. Borrowing from Christian terms, we fear that we will find sin. Translating that from Latin, we fear lack of some kind. In modern psychological terms, there are a great many people who are terrified that they are empty inside, and therefore spend their lives existing on the shell of their psyche. There is really only one way to find out the truth, and that is to dive inside. Yes, there can and often are challenges associated with entering unknown inner territory. But much like diving into water, the fear is all in the anticipation. You have recently embarked on some kind of unusual inner journey. Yes, this is real; and so far as I can see, once you pass through the narrow gap of self-judgment, you have nothing to fear.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — It is amazing how different your perception of yourself can be from how you’re perceived by those around you. I would say that on the whole, most people have a much higher opinion of you than you do of yourself. You might doubt them, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It also doesn’t mean that you can live by allowing your friends to shore up your self-esteem. You can, however, make careful note of what you observe outside you contrasted with what you observe inside you. You can notice the filter through which you’re seeing yourself, and through which you are perceiving what others say about you. On a good day, you will simply trust. The notion of whether you’re a ‘good person’ or a ‘bad person’ is made irrelevant by something, for example, like trusting the love that you feel. That said, if you have anything for which you want to make amends, now would be a great time. Acknowledging where you feel you have fallen short commands something more important than the respect of others: and that is self-respect.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — I strongly suggest you go out of your way to play fair the next few days, and while we’re at it, keep that as a goal for the next month. One hint that you may need an ethics check is if you’re perceiving differences between yourself and others that are translating into rationales for how you, in turn, might act toward them. The operative device here is rationalization. Listen for moments when you are stating reasons to yourself, which you then build into strategies. Others don’t have to be wrong for you to be right, and further, they are entitled to be wrong and you don’t have to do anything about it, or even have much to say about it. Part of why this mode is so problematic is because in getting into the ‘me vs. them’ state of mind, what you’re really doing is cutting yourself in half. If you approach the world from a whole state of being, you will see a lot less conflict, and the conflict you do see will mean a lot less. And for you to succeed, nobody has to fail.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — The professional move you’re contemplating is going to come in three phases, the first of which you seem to have embarked upon this week. Consider this the test phase of a new project or journey. Note carefully your environment, including what influence you seem to have, and what influence you lack. Check carefully the extent to which certain details need attention, and what practical matters fall into place. Then, get ready for a total reassessment of your plan. At this point it does not matter whether you seem to succeed or fail. Stick to your vision, indeed, nourish it and let it nourish you. The relationship between your vision and any particular outcome is like the relationship between the Earth and a tree. The tree is rooted in the earth; it grows from the Earth, but the planet that that supports it, where those roots sink in, is something far greater. Then, let that guide you through the next few phases of your movements.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You may be feeling a kind of anticipation anxiety, as if something big is about to happen. The way the world is, I would not call you paranoid; the current structure of consciousness is all about something big happening, to which we all respond like criminals when the lights are turned on, then we go back to sleep. In this environment, anticipation anxiety can be a real problem, a kind of lurking psychic sensation that something is about to pop up. I suggest you channel that feeling directly into a creative outlet of some kind. That could be anything from making music to listening to it; express some wholesome indulgence in pleasure; get around some people you love and trust and make food. The kind of fear you may be processing is a lot more poignant if you think you live in a vacuum, and if your creative energy gets bottled up. And it’s likely to vanish entirely among trusted friends and when you take part in any form of play or loving communication.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You need to figure out a way to vent some pressure. Obviously, make it constructive, though I can tell you from your charts that this is the deep underground kind of pressure, unlikely the kind you can work out with a stroll in the park. I suggest you work your way down to that level gradually, but steadily. This is one of those psychic equations where there is always a little deeper you can go, so I suggest you just move inward toward the direction of any tension you might feel. There comes a moment when the energy you’re holding starts to release. Then you can relax into a new layer of yourself and keep going. As you explore and experience, notice how your relationship to existence changes. Notice what happens to your tension level, your anxiety level, and your perception of your problems. Notice how you think others feel about you. Notice, more than anything, changes to your sense of what you think is possible.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Mars is about to enter your sympathetic water sign Cancer. That’s another way of saying how much fun you have will be matched by how much fun you think you deserve. While Pisces has a reputation for being hedonistic, I have found that more often the opposite is true: those born under your sign who are obsessed by ethics plunge themselves into service. This may be a defensive reaction of some kind. It may also be a common-sense response to existence in a world that, frankly, needs a lot of help. Anyway, I would propose experimenting with a new kind of common sense, the one about you experiencing some of the pleasure and nourishment you want. The key word here is want rather than need; needs are great, but that concept seems to be a hedge against the guilt typically associated with desire. I’m suggesting you jump over the hedge and go right into the garden.