Dear Friend and Reader:
Here in Kingston, a young woman named Leia LaTorre apparently took her life Sunday morning. I knew her pretty well, but many of my friends grew up with her, and this has been especially shocking for them, and for her family. Everyone is going to be experiencing this for years. I keep imagining I see her on the street. Right or wrong, we’re all thinking the same thing. This was not necessary. What could I have done? When I heard Wednesday night that Steve Jobs had died, I’d already been thinking about Leia for three days nonstop.
At Leia’s wake Wednesday afternoon, one of her closest friends asked me why, based on her astrology, I thought she did it. I said that in a few words, it involved self-esteem issues. This is a phrase that doesn’t mean as much as it should.
“She hid it well,” her friend said. Personally, I didn’t think so, but this clued me in to how deeply someone can be struggling and the people around them don’t necessarily pick up on it. Not that this would have helped; everyone has their own path and their own karma, and has made many decisions before they arrive on Earth in their body. And we make plenty when we’re here.
What Leia may not have known about herself is how well she was loved. Her friends and family were passionate about her. When I first met her, she was abrasive and full of attitude; her whole surface impression was ‘back off’. But I was curious, and it only took a few conversations to figure out how much I adored her anyway.
That dichotomy was one of my favorite things about her; it gave me the clue that something special was going on under the surface. When she gave me her chart data a couple of years ago, I learned her last name and discovered that we might be cousins; I am one-fourth LaTorre. Her name means The Tower. For those not familiar with tarot, that’s one of the big cards, and it loosely translates to something shocking happening out of the blue — or radical liberation and transformation.
Over time she warmed up and was friendlier to me, and confided things I could never imagine her saying to anyone else. From this, I learned something important from her about not taking someone’s attitude too personally — and to look right past it. But she could never hide her irritation with existence and how difficult it was for her to navigate emotionally through the world. Like a lot of people her age, she struggled with purpose or to have any coherent sense of her future. Like many people, relationships were a vital part of where she sought meaning, but in many ways this was like building on quicksand for her. When that’s what you want the most and it doesn’t quite work, that can be frustrating and lonely.
I don’t say the words ‘self-esteem issues’ casually, but rather in the deepest sense. Self-esteem is self-respect, and this cannot be found through other people. When this problem exists, it can feel like your core is rotting out, or like you’re an empty shell, and there’s very little that anyone else can do for you. Part of the challenge for someone in such a struggle is difficulty trusting. Trust is the foundation of love, and its absence leads to more isolation, which can take a person down a kind of psychic spiral, especially if alcohol or drugs are involved (and they often are).
Were I the pastor speaking to the many, many young people at her funeral service, I would say something like this. This kind of incident is when we remember that we have to do something to prevent this from happening to others, and thus to the whole community. Many people, young or old, struggle with depression and its consequences. Yet those to whom this is most likely to happen are the ones least likely to be open to help when it’s offered. The love that others offer to them often means the least, it seems doubtful or like it’s not deserved: that’s how it feels through the sensations of gnawing self-doubt and self-hatred.
Anyone struggling like this would likely have to be the one to admit they need some contact or help coping with the pressure of life. This means reaching past their isolation and asking for help in a direct way rather than the ‘calling out for help’ we’ve just witnessed. When they do, the people around them must take notice, but that can be challenging in an environment of denial. What Leia went through was a slightly more extreme expression of what many, many people go through every day, some of whom you might never suspect, unless you stop and listen. There are hundreds of ways to paper it over, including antidepressants — which are associated with increased suicide risk and which can turn episodic depression into a chronic condition.
Leia was born with natal planets gathered on the cardinal cross (in Aries, Cancer and Libra, many of them in the early degrees, aspecting the Aries Point), right where the 2012 aspect has been coming through. The gods of change were making all kinds of transits to her chart, pushing her to break out of her shell and participate with existence in a new way. For example, she was born under a pretty famous conjunction, of the two largest planets — Jupiter and Saturn in very early Libra (associated with the new era when Reagan came into office, AIDS surfaced and religion morphed into politics). That aspect was in 1981; everyone who has this aspect can feel it, at least as potential.
At the moment, Uranus in Aries is exactly opposite her natal conjunction, and this was pushing her to express herself in ways that from what I gathered from listening to her were totally alien to her. Many of us have planets situated where Saturn, Uranus and Pluto are coming through at the same time, and the pressure to grow and transform may be immense or even unbearable. If 2012 is about ‘everything, all at once’, ramp that up a few orders of magnitude based on how many planets you have situated where the aspect is happening. Leia had many, and her growth curve would have intensified over the years. Had she made it through, she would have seemed like a totally different person on the other end. And while these transits were challenging, she had been through a lot more challenging stuff during the past five years.
The planets in your natal chart that are getting rung like bells by the 2012 aspect describe your mode of participation in the current changes. It’s not that they want to get into the game — they are already there, and how you respond is the variable. While I’ve been pretty optimistic about this whole process, I recognize that for those who don’t feel ready, or who think that life is passing them by, it may be really challenging to go through these transits. Some of the changes are the kinds of things you don’t know how you’ll ever do till you actually accomplish them.
You may not know what to do with the sensation that change is inevitable. I don’t have an easy answer for that puzzle, but if you’re interested enough in astrology to be reading this, look at your chart and start to figure it out. Closer to the point, consider the things you’ve wanted to do forever but have not gotten around to. Think back to your childhood goals; the kid in you knew perfectly well what you came here to do, before anyone had a chance to talk you out of it.
One person to whom that did not happen was Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer (now Apple, Inc.) who died Wednesday. Steve always gave the impression of doing exactly what he came here to do, and doing it well. Remember, though — Apple was not always the computer everyone thought was cool. For many years they had just 10% of the market share; the company was an open secret. People were deterred by the fact that all their friends had PCs and Apples cost twice as much as a computer at Best Buy. So what if it was five times better.
Still, Apple had a way of leading from behind: they led the way in graphic user interface, in ease of operation and inviting people into the world of computers. We forget that it was only recently that the notion of everyone having a computer in their home would have seemed utterly ridiculous. Apple made it seem more obvious, even if most people still bought PCs.
It was not until Apple came out with an entertainment device — the iPod — that people outside their usual market started to notice. The iPod let you keep your entire CD collection in your pocket. That provided a point not just of entry but of obsession, and made people aware of their friendly computers.
Let’s take a look at Steve’s chart and see what it tells us. Steve was a Pisces with Virgo rising. This can manifest as a blend of the beautiful with the technologically sound; a vision with detail.
His Moon was in Aries, which has a dauntless quality. What sets the chart on fire is that his Moon was conjunct Eris in Aries, to the degree. Eris is that new planet with a very long orbit, the one that got Pluto ‘demoted’ back in 2006. Eris, named for the goddess of discord, sums up the personality chaos of our era, and Steve could speak right to this condition intuitively. He knew that computers had to be an extension of the human personality, and he created machines that people could identify with. Macs have always been visually appealing; people with an artistic eye can look at the thing all day, and to everyone else, it’s just cool. When the first Mac was introduced, the one with 128 kb of memory, about the size of an email, the thing talked and wrote in script, blowing away the soldierly IBM-style PC which responded only to code.
Steve had many planets on the cardinal cross — Eris and the Moon (close to the Aries Point, early in that sign), plus Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and the lunar nodes. That is a lot of innovative energy (which is mirrored in his numerology by the constant reiteration of the number 10). He was a pioneer, but I believe that the Moon conjunct Eris was the thing that made him who he was.
Here’s the odd part. Bill Gates has the same aspect. I noticed this when Eris was first named, and it seemed really interesting. What is more interesting is that we searched through thousands of charts in our files and hardly found anyone else with this aspect, and just one person with it as close as Steve’s and Bill’s — that would be Angelina Jolie. This is another way of saying that even among the famous and successful, this aspect verges on nonexistent. It may be that it’s just an extremely difficult placement and people have a hard time working with it.
And two of the people who have the aspect turn out to have been among the most influential people of the 20th century. (It’s also fairly close in the chart of Buckminster Fuller, who should be one of the most influential people of the 20th century and may be regarded as such someday.)
Moon-Eris allowed them to peer into the chaos patterns of rapidly developing technology and make absolute sense out of them. Programming is about seeing solutions to complex problems, and Eris has a gift for pattern recognition. As my friend Tracy put it, “Eris can see forever and through everything,” assuming one is not lost in the sauce of overwhelming consciousness. In these two pioneers, it’s interesting that they could see simultaneously the micro level, attuned to the most subtle details of how a computer works, and the macro level, understanding how this whole thing is going to work its way into society itself. This is getting me to think of Eris in a way that works holographically, where micro and macro dimensions contain one another.
Jobs had a special gift though, expressed in his idea that “a computer is like a bicycle for the mind.” He understood what he was creating in the most immediate sense of a relationship. (Watch that video here.) He had Jupiter conjunct Uranus, one of the aspects common to innovators and inventors. This gave the seamless integration of technology, innovation, beauty and soul. Yet it was located in the highly protective sign Cancer, which shows up as how proprietary Apple products are. There are still no Apple ‘clones’. This marketing method engages you with their products in an insidious way. We all know the people who obsessively collect every Apple product, and those who can get a Mac to run for 10 years. Tweak Steve’s chart just slightly and the whole thing might have ended up open source — that kind of populism is truly a Pisces thing. But so is being a master of the marketplace.
Instead, Jobs founded what eventually became one of the most profitable companies in the world, but one that is also known for beautiful, elegant products that actually work.
No matter how innovative it is, all of this technology comes at a cost. Steve’s Moon conjunct Eris in Aries understood well the profound search for themselves that people are on, and he answered this with technology people could relate to. Apple was the first to put out a computer that doubled as an entertainment center, in a time when we are clearly entertaining ourselves to death. How you use a computer is, of course, a choice, and Apple has put a lot of computers into schools and into the home offices of teachers.
It’s disheartening that Steve Jobs died of cancer, and that Apple’s most successful product, the iPhone, may also be its most carcinogenic. This is true of all cellphones, especially the ones that run simultaneous connections to five networks (voice, data, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS). That’s a lot of microwave activity to put right next to a hole in your skull. I’m not the only one who notices a weird burning sensation in my ear from the iPhone, and as a result I rarely use the thing as a phone, limiting myself to about five minutes a day, if that. The rest of the time I leave it as far from my body as I can. It cannot be said enough that cellphones are the cigarettes of our day and age, and must be treated with actual caution.
It would be great to see Apple become an innovator in product safety, now that it’s one of the most profitable companies in the world.
Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. Horoscope #877. | Eric’s Zodiac Sign Descriptions
Aries (March 20-April 19) — The approaching Full Moon in your birth sign may have you running forward in all directions. I suggest you slow down and make some decisions about what belongs on top of your agenda, what can wait and what doesn’t belong there at all. As you go through this process of prioritizing, you will gradually discover where your real strength lies — which is not in brute force but rather in strategy. Therefore I suggest you pull back for long enough to get your thoughts in order and make a few clear decisions. That may not be easy with the Full Moon approaching over the weekend; in fact you may have to fight the constant urge to charge ahead. But that is clear evidence that you’re not using your head, and I don’t mean to crack through someone or something. If you do nothing else the next few days, spend some time gathering information, and then consider it carefully.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You have been through a lot recently, and you still may not understand quite what it was. Your solar chart suggests you’re on a profound, even urgent, search for a sense of who you are. Be careful not to let that get to the point of desperation, and if you are struggling with anything, you would benefit from framing it as part of the question, ‘who am I?’ This is usually taken for granted, or papered-over with some form of group or partnership identity. If you find that those shared identities are not working for you, or if you are filled with the sensation that there must be something more, direct your search inward. If that makes you feel nervous, that’s all the more reason to go there. The sense of panic that many people feel these days relates to a false sense of emptiness, and that is something that begs to be investigated. Once you open up to yourself, it’s much easier for others to open up to you.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — We live in a world where there are many predictions of doom and gloom and very few people calmly working toward solutions. You need to be one of them, and over the next few days I suggest you begin by taking up what seem like the most insurmountable problems in your life. Stop at nothing, meditating on the mantra that creativity can get any job done. If you reach a blockage, the chances are it’s based on some idea you have rather than an actual physical fact. Shift your perspective, ask the question a different way, or try an entirely different approach. Beware of mental blocks and quirks in your belief system that might challenge your gumption. You might give yourself some peace of mind by outlining the best- and worst-case scenarios. And please remember: you can only control what you say and do. You cannot control how others perceive you.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — People perceive you as being stronger than you may feel these days — and they’re probably right. While there is a get-serious attitude prevailing in the planets lately, there’s also something about expressing your strength and your passion. Yet what is rarely said is that you need to use your strength for your own cause rather than against it. I suggest you take some time and get clear about what that might comprise. If you find yourself resisting something you know is true, make a decision. If you find yourself needing attention, create that in a healthy way. But above all else, I suggest you reckon with the difference between the past, the present and the future. You seem to be obsessing over past events, and you could serve yourself well by acknowledging that a certain phase of your life — particularly involving your family — has finally come to a close. Try living as if that’s actually true and see what happens.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You may feel like you’re running into a wall, and if that is true I suggest you take a much larger view of your situation. By larger I mean stretching the time spans involved, considering how the issues would look if you were not confining yourself to a strictly local point of view, and considering where you might draw extra strength and inspiration. There seem to be no shortage of people willing to help you, though you may not recognize them as such. That said, there is a degree to which discipline and determination will win the day. You need to take conscious steps toward your objective. Most cats only hunt when they need to, and this would be a good time to go out on the prowl and bring home something good.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Many people are walking the streets with the idea that there’s something wrong with them that they cannot fix. This leads many to indulge in all kinds of ‘solutions’ that serve two purposes — one is they offer the sense of doing something, and the other is they provide a distraction from the real problem. This second one actually is a purpose; I’m sure you know many people who spend their lives running from themselves. You may be inclined to seek answers through a relationship or partnership, or to consider everything that’s amiss in your life as being the result of another person’s involvement. You may think that this is the one thing that will set you free — whether that means to escape a relationship or to find one. But I am sure you suspect that the solution resides within you, and I don’t mean that as a metaphor of some kind. I mean it as literal reality, though it would help if you believe this sincerely, or were at least willing to experiment with the potential.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Make sure you remember which problems you’ve already solved, and not put effort into solving them again. If your mind is seized by the notion that everything can go wrong, give it a few hours or a few days and the sensation is likely to pass. It’s clearly rooted in something that happened in the past. While that may have some resemblance to what is happening in your life today, there are enough differences in the circumstances, and in your ability to handle them, that you can have faith in your choices. If you’re feeling nervous, you can do a check-over of your work and your reasoning process to make sure you have the details covered. This is not the time to reverse yourself. Rather, it’s the time to go deeper, which means going past a certain edge of hesitancy and fear and making contact with the actual emotional material that is calling out for healing.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Are you really under as much pressure as you think, or would it be more accurate to say that you know more than you think? Consider the difference for a moment. Knowledge does imply responsibility, and you’re clearly under some scrutiny that would require you to act on the best information you have. Here is the challenge: It’s vital that you filter out thoughts directly motivated by fear, particularly if it’s of the ‘everything is gonna fall apart’ variety. Don’t ignore the fear — let it have a voice, then listen for the other voices that offer much better information. It’s clear from your chart that something is bothering you, but you have yet to figure out what it is; that will come soon enough. Your goal right now is to avoid making decisions based on unconscious motives or anxieties.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You may be feeling some kind of psychic burden that is weighing on you, or constantly sending you back to the beginning of something. If you’ve noticed this, it might not be what you think it is; you may be dragging around someone else’s anxiety. You can be sure this is true if you’re enmeshed in any kind of self-criticism that seems to have no escape. The thing is, there actually is a way out, but that won’t come in the form of solving a problem that doesn’t exist, or ‘curing’ something you think is wrong with you that is not actually an issue. I suggest you start by questioning your beliefs. What evidence do you have that something is the way you think it is? By evidence, I mean something pointing to a cause rather than effect. If you cannot find the cause, you may not be dealing with a real issue, only your perception of one. But this will take some investigation.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Gandhi said we have to become the change we want to see in the world. Your chart says you have to become the authority you want to see in the world. Let’s face it, humans need leadership and they need guidance. The best people to do that are the ones who have some authority over themselves, which is to say, those who don’t need to be told right from wrong, and who are capable of getting some work done. ADD may be all the rage, and it may be provoking you from time to time, but that doesn’t work if you’re the boss in any capacity. Maintain your inner focus, do nothing that either is or has the appearance of being hypocritical, and set the example of what a decent, down-to-Earth and honest person is. What you may be concealing is a bit more inner turmoil or emotional chaos than you’re used to experiencing, but that would not count for hypocrisy if you own what you feel and recognize it as inherently human.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Tapping your creativity requires indulging some chaos (or inspiration, depending on how you’re wired), and some discipline. Any creative product is the result of both, and you need them in the right blend. That might take some time to get right, but I suggest you indulge yourself in one side of the equation or the other, and the moment that seems to not be interesting, go to the other side. Chaos might look something like writing all of your ideas into a notebook. Discipline might look like typing them in and arranging the order, refining them and seeing what you’ve got. Neither side is worth much without the other, but for a while it’s better if you take turns rather than try to do them at the same time. I suggest that you do a rapid cycle, rather than hanging out too long with one or the other. What remains constant between them is having faith in yourself. For what it’s worth, you actually do have an idea worth developing.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — The time has come to make a financial move of some kind, or several moves that add up to something significant. It may include a restructuring of how you conduct business or account for your money; it may be a revaluing of some kind; there are obviously agreements that you need to renegotiate and partnerships that you might want to develop. Plenty has changed since the last time you did anything like this, and I suggest that you review carefully just what that means. Look at your income pattern over the past five years. Consider carefully how your goals have changed, and how your value within your field has changed. Part of what you’re about to do is cash in on what you’ve already accomplished, and how you’re going to get there is to think about it in a totally new way.