Gemini Total Eclipse and the Sibling Society

Dear Friend and Reader:

Saturday’s total eclipse of the Moon is in Gemini — the sign of siblings, often associated with young people, young attitudes and easy-to-grasp ideas. Many factors suggest that this is a volatile moment, calling for discernment and embracing the faculty of conscious choice. [Note, this is the last eclipse before the series that leads into the Venus transit of the Sun and Uranus square Pluto in late spring 2012. I have covered that group in my newest special edition podcast.]

French student drums on the shield of a riot cop during a takeover of Bastille Circle during the evening rush hour in Paris one afternoon in 2005. This is my idea of the police exercising actual restraint. Nobody was arrested, nobody got hurt, and the protest was diffused in a few hours. The cop is probably thinking, “Now how can I slip her my phone number?” Photo by Eric Francis. More related photos here.

Part of the volatility involves the eclipse spanning the mutable sign axis of Gemini/Sagittarius; some of it comes from the polarizing effect of a Full Moon (all lunar eclipses happen during the Full Moon). Mutable signs can have a nervous and unstable feeling, which will often serve as a power source. When those properties are prominent, it helps to impart the structure and discipline factor of Saturn, which thankfully is in harmony with the eclipse in fellow air sign Libra.

Another aspect of the volatility comes from planets that are close to the Sun’s position in Sagittarius. I’ve been writing a blue streak about this since the fall of 2010 — a collection of newly-discovered, slow-moving planets that span the middle of high-energy, high-velocity Sagittarius. The combination of slow-movers and the fiery energy of Sagittarius is pushing us to get clear about what we believe, and to embrace both ‘spiritual’ lessons and the direct information coming through about our origins. By origins I mean from the distant past, whether ancestral or cosmic.

They are related. We are stardust, and we are the children of our ancestors. You might not be pondering this stuck in traffic on the 101 or running for the D train, but it’s thinking of you, and the pot is currently being stirred at full strength by both the presence of these new planets and the accompanying eclipse that is compelling us to get practical in our ideas about existence. Internalize the learning, the spiritual theory, the concept you’re trying to grasp in therapy. Understand that growth is something pragmatic rather than esoteric.

Be proud of what you are! This womens’ ADHD T-shirt contours to your shape and always looks flattering, even if you forget where you left it. (Use the link to purchase the shirt.)

Then, the eclipse is square Mars in Virgo. That’s focusing attention on getting real about two points — anger, and perfectionism. Mars is slowly stationing retrograde in Virgo, compelling us to come to terms with all the ways we want to change, and focusing a demand on impeccability. But this may be manifesting as perfectionism and that, in turn, may be coming across as the feeling of being damaged if you cannot get yourself to that theoretically perfect place. The two are closely related.

Remember, this is not about theory: these aspects all point to taking practical action. The Virgo piece of the puzzle comes with an asteroid conjunction that offers some caution. The points are Apollo conjunct Psyche. Apollo is the experience of making the same mistakes over and over; of not getting ‘the lesson’. Psyche is the sense that you’re wounded, as in mentally wounded, and won’t ever be able to ‘fix’ yourself. It’s the loss of faith in healing, particularly where psychological material is concerned. In our era we tend to take these feelings and diagnose them into disorders that can be treated with meds: social anxiety disorder, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, restless leg syndrome, and so on. That’s a way of compartmentalizing the situation, cutting it off rather than taking it on holistically. Instead of working through the many factors that contribute to a symptom, too often we give it a name and a drug — and many people are doing this to their children. Many of us had it done to us.

There are two other points in the Virgo mix, square the eclipse and close to Mars: an asteroid called Hebe, which often describes the codependent quality of the relationships involved; and Arachne, which imparts the sensation that this is all one vast conspiracy (ancestral in nature, that is, related to the family line and family of origin).

The ultimate in cynical politics, the Tea Party rallies outside an Obama visit to Portland, Maine. For all their sincere efforts, they will end up with Mr. Fraud himself, Newt Gingrich. Photo by Eric.

Alcohol is almost certainly involved. This may not involve current alcoholism but rather the legacy as it has been passed on through both the family and the social network that surrounds it. Remember being a kid at a ‘grownup’ party where all the adults did was drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes? That social ritual had an effect on you — and this eclipse is about figuring out, and healing, whatever that effect was. The emotional conditions around the abuse and even unconscious use of alcohol can be extremely debilitating in family relationships, creating isolation and deep distrust that can take decades (or generations) to finally unravel.

In the most basic colors, there is a petulant quality to this eclipse. It has the sensation of childhood rage, which would be rage against something much larger than oneself, and it’s combined with the sensation that the expression of anger is useless — but yet something that we cannot help. When that anger burns out, we’re often left with cynicism. That is the feeling of being burned out and defeated, with toxic, smoldering rage. This paralyzed sensation is not what you would call healthy — and if you’re feeling this eclipse you may be feeling a release point.

Enough is enough. It’s time to grow past this stuff and take command of our lives and our mental health in a tangible way. The eclipse square Mars is an action point. How long have you waited, or tried, or efforted? What is the one thing you’re not doing? What is the obvious factor, the obvious point of action that you’ve avoided for whatever reason?

The Davis Pepper Spray Incident and the Sibling Society

In a 1997 book, Robert Bly described what he called the sibling society, a world of half-formed adults who don’t want to take responsibility for their lives. This, he says, is the world we live in. We see it as the people who don’t want to pay taxes, who think someone else’s kids should fight the wars, and that someone else should stand up to the banks. Since The Sibling Society came out, the situation has only proliferated with the massive surge of infotainment that has come along with the Internet and lives lived mainly through apps and devices.

Iconic photo by Louise Macabitas of Lt. John Pike — a campus peace officer — casually spraying UC Davis students in the face with MK-9, an extra-strength oleoresin capsaicinoid (OC) weapon.

Saturday’s eclipse reminds me of his theory, in particular the relationship between the Moon in Gemini (siblings, children) opposite vast ancestral forces we cannot control (all those planets in Sagittarius) compounded by the square to Mars in Virgo. Add to this the frustrated ‘adult’ feeling of wanting to be perfect.

I remembered that book when a friend sent me the “what really happened” video of the Nov. 18 University of California at Davis pepper spray incident. This supposedly shows the context of what happened after riot police cleared a small Occupy protest off of a lawn at UC Davis. That is, instead of the short video of Lt. John Pike spraying the students, you see 15 minutes of video that led up to the actual spraying. Of course, this is not the full context. That goes back weeks, or even months; you’re never shown a single tent, for example. What you see is an out-of-context fuss, over what, you’re not sure unless you know.

Then, you’re treated to the scene of an officer in full riot gear, backed by about 30 of his colleagues (those visible in the frame), stating into a megaphone, “This is your last warning. Should you choose to remain, you do so with the understanding that a peace officer will place you under arrest for a violation of the law. Any resistance, whether passive or physical, shall result in additional charges. You shall be arrested, handcuffed and may be transported and incarcerated at the Yolo County Jail. Will you leave at this time?” The cop then barks into his megaphone something about “unlawful assembly.” He does not mention the potential use of chemical weapons.

Career Day with Lt. John Pike, one of countless parodies of Macabitas’ photo circulating on the Internet.

After the tents are cleared and some arrests are made, you see the young students with their book bags and preppy attire, circling about a group of heavily armed riot police, chanting “set them free.” Some of them sit down on a campus walk; these are the students who are sprayed at point-blank range with MK-9, an extra-strength oleoresin capsaicinoid (OC) weapon.

A lot has been said about this incident, which in the eyes of most people amounts not just to excessive force by the police, but to torture. When we tacitly (or directly) approve of the torture of Iraqi prisoners, we are inviting the same thing in our own communities. Is that obvious yet?

Meanwhile, local police departments have been militarized against terrorists, and in the absence of terrorists, any dissenter will do. I don’t say this lightly. One of the reasons conservatism has become so popular in recent years is that it’s a safe point of view to hold. There is a long tradition in the United States of treating anyone whose views are one inch left of center as a subversive or threat.

California is not new to the issue of police abusing chemical weapons, however. Given what it’s cost them in the past, you would think they might exercise a little restraint, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Use of pepper spray has been litigated up to the U.S. Supreme Court, in a famous case involving eight people who were protesting the killing of redwoods, and who were both sprayed point blank and had the chemical applied to their eyes by police using Q-tips. The protestors sued the police, and the litigation went on for years.

In that case, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the police officers’ “repeated use of pepper spray was also clearly unreasonable. As we recently concluded, the use of pepper spray ‘may be reasonable as a general policy to bring an arrestee under control, but in a situation in which an arrestee surrenders and is rendered helpless, any reasonable officer would know that a continued use of the weapon or a refusal without cause to alleviate its harmful effects constitutes excessive force’.” [Read the full decision here.]

Wake Up, Empire.

The “what really happened” video is an attempt to show how reasonable and restrained the police really were, because the kids were chanting and, for a few moments, had formed a one-person-deep ring around the cops. To my eyes, the video is an attempt to vindicate the sadistic behavior, in effect saying it was the fault of the students. One ex-FBI agent, the parent of a UC Davis student, wrote on a discussion list, “After viewing the entire video, I believe that the police acted with great restraint. I can only guess how the NYPD or the LAPD would have reacted to being surrounded by a hostile crowd demanding that they release their prisoners.”

Realistically, this “hostile crowd” consisting entirely of young students reminds me a lot more of the audience on the kids’ TV program Wonderama than an anarchist riot or even an ordinary student demonstration. And it started as a bunch of students living in tents on a lawn, protesting the demolition of the economy by a few banks and a few individuals who have profited from the losses of many, many people. That’s my view; I’ll leave it to you to decide if the police with their batons, helmets, sidearms, rifles, tear gas, Tasers, bulletproof vests, pocket knives and practically unlimited backup available, were justified in feeling threatened when confronted by unarmed kids dressed in clothes from The Gap chanting “set them free.”

Okay, now for the consciousness piece — the spiritual piece of the discussion. Let’s go deeper than the apparent circumstances to the underlying levels of causation. My take — as a matter of conscience — is that police are never justified in using weapons against unarmed people, and we have become a country way too willing to accept the use of violence by police on anyone who dissents. On a campus, in particular, I believe that the administration is morally bound to avoid hurting students by the legal doctrine In Loco Parentis, or “local parents.” This is one reason why campuses have their own police departments; the cops get to know the campus community and we have a truly local police force. It’s a great idea and usually it works pretty well.

But clearly something went wrong at Davis. A friend named Eric Traub offered another point of view that I’ve been considering carefully, and I will share it with you. Here is what he wrote (note, it’s a long quote, going to the end of the article):

Lt. John Pike, about to be surrounded by little blue people whose language only has one word, defends himself before something really bad happens. Apologies to Pierre Culliford and Papa Smurf.

“In Loco Parentis is exactly the takeaway I glean from the Davis video, in this way: human beings are still a childlike and developing young species. Whoever steps forward as a ‘parent’ tends to dominate. We are only now just beginning to emerge from the patriarchal paradigm that has dominated the past dozens of millennia of societal progress. Humans being human will, for the time being, seek somebody to be the parental guiding force in their lives, abdicating their will, intelligence and choices.

“Rather than allowing the bankers, government, and various other Saturnine structures to parent us, it’s time for ‘we the people’ to rise up and be as parents to ourselves and stewards to the world around us. The healthiest form of parenting is often called ‘authoritative’ versus authoritarian parenting. Authoritative parenting takes the stance, ‘We will find the best way together.’ It leads, but from partnership. But it DOES lead, not just team up leaderlessly. This is parenting from a self-reflexive standpoint that recognizes respective roles, i.e., I’m the parent and it’s my role in our relationship to guide you as the child, but that doesn’t make me a demigod, just the parent at this time with a responsibility to fulfill. It’s a responsibility-driven orientation, balanced by reflexivity and compassion.

“The OWS movement so far has been more like children rising up against parents, than a new form of healthy, holistic leadership. Consequently, it reinforces and exacerbates the very thing it protests against. And here enters my bottom line to watching the Davis video.

And of course, the presentation of the Declaration of Independence by the drafters to the First Continental Congress. People seem to have a clue what the conduct of police during the Occupy movement actually means.

“We have to decide: do we truly want to effect change and accept all the implications of that change, including a far greater share of responsibility for making the world and its systems work, and the tremendous labors that entails? Or, do we simply want to protest and throw a collective tantrum against the way it’s been?

“The Davis incident illustrates, I believe, the latter. And demands the very question I am asking to be answered. The cops were wrong in almost every way. But the students were equally absurd in their tactics, lowering themselves to the same level of unconsciousness as the forces arrayed against them. The cops behaved exactly as one would expect them to behave, and actually with a reasonable degree of constraint for cops. The students, granted though they be immature and in need of In Loco Parentis, needed to be the more evolved human beings in that moment and they could have demonstrated something very powerful: that the ruling structures are unnecessary now; that we are rendering the old way of running this planet obsolete.

“If we are going to Occupy Wall Street, we better start thinking more like adults with responsibilities to one another, and less like petulant kids who want parents to rebel against as a cheap and fast means for carving out our identities. Davis turned into a fiasco, and I think its best value is to precipitate dialogue about how we can accelerate the maturation of OWS and get something accomplished, which accomplishment may well determine the future of humankind. This is not a task to be treated with childish emotionality. It’s time that we ALL grow up. Together.”

I think this is a sensitive and informed point of view, and it does not justify spraying unarmed students with pepper spray at point blank range. I would love to hear what you think.

Eric Francis

Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. Weekly Horoscope #884. | Eric’s Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You are in a seed moment. They come occasionally — phases of your life when what you do, think and feel creates who you are becoming; when you express intention through action, not by planning. You’re in a moment of not knowing what you’re getting yourself into, making choices you would not necessarily have made if you knew what they implied. Yet there are few other ways to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Remember that one definition of an adventure is that you don’t know where you’re going to end up, and I promise you that this, at least, is true. What you do have control over is whether you are authentic in the moment. In a world where most people are taught to fake most of the time, that might be a stretch. Your most dependable path to right action is being entirely real, all of the time.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may feel like you’re racing toward some kind of limit, where an inner resource (such as faith in yourself) is running out. That sense of impending limitation or crux point is clear in your charts, but what stands out more boldly is that another limitation you cannot see is about to give way. Your current sense of urgency is more closely associated with the second situation than the first; in other words, something is happening other than what you’re obsessing over. Don’t waste time fussing over the form of the problem, or what you perceive your problem to be. This would be true especially if you are defining an issue in a way that has resisted resolution in the past. Take care of the practical matters at hand as efficiently as you can. Learn from your day-to-day experiences. Emphasize the positive role you play in the world. Heaven and Earth are indeed moving, and you are moving with them.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Occasionally you have a stunning breakthrough appreciating the person you are. It’s as if some mental block lets go, or some veil drops, and you can actually recognize and experience yourself as the strong, nurturing person you are. Something like this is happening right now. Your realization seems to come in two phases, something like this. You remember something amazing about yourself that you keep forgetting, which shifts your sense of identity. Just when that’s far enough in the past that you forgot it happened, a relationship changes. You become free within the relationship, or free yourself of the relationship. You may not see the connection between the two, but the turn of events proves that authentic self-respect can take you past any limitation in your relationships. If you remember that these two are directly related, you will save yourself incalculable time, energy and grief in the future.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You may not consciously keep secrets from yourself, but you also may not see the ways you work against your own cause. What feels like the revelation of some deep inner truth is really about you aligning with yourself in a tangible way. In fact, you are healing a split in your mind that has presented you with many challenges that you did not understand. The split has outwardly manifested many ways: as holding competing goals, divided loyalties, or a sense that you could not get the ‘two halves’ of yourself working together. The thing is, once you can see something like this, however dimly, you increase the chances of doing something about it. And you are about to get a rare glimpse at this outdated aspect of your inner makeup, or rather, your self-perception. The simplest way to put this is that honesty with yourself will get you real results in the real world.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You are bigger than your public image. You are bigger than all the chatter or gossip in the world. Somewhere between nothing and exceedingly little that could become known about you would negatively influence the opinion of anyone who really mattered. Therefore, you are free to let the truth about yourself be known. Take the initiative and express your most daring innermost thoughts if that is what you choose to do. This can be in the context of an intimate relationship, or some much larger social context wherein you finally arrive at the recognition that you want to be known not just for what you do, but also for who you are. What most people have not figured out is that any aura of concealment breeds negativity just as dependably as truth and clarity dispel it. The sensation of potential risk you may be experiencing is not the same as an actual danger — it’s a lot more fun.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You make your own definition of success — or rather, when you learn that you can, you will be much happier. One problem with what we think of as success is that we tend to be told what it is, over and over again, then we try to live up to the myth. Usually that comes in the form of approval of authority figures, fame or supposed security, all of which are transient. There is very little security possible; only confidence is worth reaching for, and that is an inner state. Success is about what you want, not what someone else wants for you. You are the one — and the only one — who must approve of what you do, so that you may have a clear conscience and grounded sense of purpose. What happens next will reveal these concepts as the simple and obvious facts that they are.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — It’s impressive, when you look at it, how beliefs get in the way of reality. This often happens below the boards of awareness, though of course at other times it gives people a false sense of control. If you don’t like a fact, you can always pretend it’s not true. Now, however, you are being called upon to understand not only the actual data but also its implications. Suspending your beliefs of what is true while you conduct this investigation is essential. And, I would remind you, none of this suggests that what you believe, or perceive, is wrong — only that it’s subject to verification. Along the spectrum of ‘true’ and ‘false’ I would add the distinction of ‘true enough’ — for a given purpose, for a given time. As time progresses, you may apply a different standard or metric, but the important thing is that you have a basis for validating what you believe — or not — without resorting to prejudice.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — I’ve mentioned a few times this year something about not being afraid to be unpopular, while not going out of your way to have people dislike you. Typically how you handle any issue on this side of the spectrum is by brushing it off, but that is a way of denying your deeper emotional sensitivity. Who you are, what you say and what you do seems to be having a profound effect on someone. You don’t need to be self-righteous about your values; you don’t need to compensate for what you perceive as the weaknesses of others. All you need to do is to recognize the dynamic between you and someone close to you. Be receptive to the changes they are going through. This will help both of you, it will ease the tension of the situation and you will get to experience the pleasure of being consciously resonant with your environment in a new way.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You may be outgrowing a relationship or even a whole volume in the history of your relationships, and if that is true, I suggest you welcome the change. Yes, this can be easier said than done, but you have a lot going for you, and a lot going on, and it’s not healthy for you to suppress your energy or to give anyone else the role of doing so. That said, the situation you’re in could easily transform itself into something much better, on a different level of existence. And, that said, the thing to do is release your attachment to the form of the relationship, and then discover what the content actually is. Something that was veiled is coming to the surface, but it will take you a few days to figure out what that is; in fact, what you’re experiencing is a journey that will take you about six months to ‘figure out’, and during that time, I suggest you remain open to everyone and everything.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — There is no way to understate the size and scale of the transformation you’re going through. I would say that ‘it’ feels like it’s coming at you from every direction, but there is only one direction — from within. This weekend’s total eclipse of the Moon is encouraging you — indeed, necessitating — that you find a healthy and creative outlet for your energy and any frustration you may be feeling. If there is a healing agenda that seems to involve a relationship, I strongly suggest you do your part of the work first, then wait several days (say, till Wednesday) before you take any discussion into a situation involving a partner, spouse or adversary. If you don’t install a delay, you’re likely to get your wires crossed and blame someone for your material and potentially take on responsibility for what is not yours. Sort it out first, then have the conversation.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Somewhere in A Course in Miracles is the notion that “you are an idea that can never leave its source.” This is directed at those who feel separate from spirit or from the rest of humanity; who feel alienated from the flow of creation. I bring it up today because your astrology presents that very image of connection that would obviate the sensation or illusion of being separate. Thought is creative, and you are made of thought. Thought is free, and you are free to create yourself into who you want to be. Yet the key words here are create and want — which imply conscious choices. This, in turn, implies taking full responsibility for the process. That one fact is enough to deter most people from ever daring to create who they are, or rather, from doing so consciously. You create yourself all the time, and the power to do so has never been more palpable or accessible to you.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Imagine how different your life would be if you had felt confident and secure the whole time. Consider how much energy you have wasted on the fear of developments that never came to pass, on lack of faith that you could come through, and on anxiety that had no special source or identifiable topic. Saturday’s lunar eclipse illustrates a breakthrough on this theme. The essence of your fear is the experience of being divided against yourself, and you are now in a moment where those two seemingly different halves are joined together. Or, more accurately, a moment where you recognize they were never separate. This is something you will feel in your body first, before you begin to recognize it as a concept. In truth, this has been developing for a while, and now it’s finally becoming obvious enough to translate into authentic confidence you can apply toward your most cherished goals.

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