Dear Friend and Reader:
A few days before Hurricane Irene visited New York and New England, I picked up the I Ching that I keep in my bathroom nutshell library, and opened randomly to Hexagram 18, Disruption. This is a little like The Tower, or the rune Hagalaz, but the I Ching is more philosophical than most interpretations of those symbols. “Disruption leads to great success,” the commentary says, which is encouraging. The time frame is three days before, three days after whatever event. (I got the hexagram about three days before the storm, and I’m writing this article three days after.)
Wind under a mountain is how the hexagram is described. This might seem a little strange, as wind usually goes over mountains, or between them. Wind under the mountain would either stop the flow of air, or be air moving briskly (and with great focus) through a cave. You can think of this mix of elements as the grounding of an idea. Talk stops and focused action begins. “When disruption leads to great success, the world is pacified. It is beneficial to cross great rivers, in the sense that there is purpose to your actions.” And the commentary suggests: “Cultured people inspire others to develop virtue.”
What is interesting about tapping into ancient sources of wisdom is the association of meaning with worldly events. What happens doesn’t ‘just happen’, with some people shaking their heads at a supposed disaster while others say it’s all good or it is what it is. An event is a contact point; each one leads to the next, as we learn to intervene with awareness and intention. While the I Ching associates disruption with unusual success, for that to happen, change has to be experienced as an opportunity.
That’s the whole thing. That’s the issue, and by that I mean the very issue.
Not only do most of us not see change or disruption as opportunity; not only do we spend most of our time cowering or distracted; we’ve become a society that isn’t especially interested in rebuilding itself. I see this as a lack of vision, which in turn has many roots, pointing to cultural and spiritual problems. In truth it has little to do with the aftermath of a storm. It affects everything else, every day. This is particularly true as even a modest earthquake can cause problems at 10 nuclear facilities, and as the infrastructure of society is revealed as being more fragile every time something happens; then we spend our lives in the anxiety of knowing that everything might collapse at any moment.
On the local level, people have little choice but to put their communities back together as best they can when something causes a disruption, no matter how large. Somebody’s barn can become the Post Office and the church can become an infirmary. But often in the wake of a disaster, it’s too expensive to rebuild easily, and there can be large infrastructure issues that have to be addressed, such as repairs to roads and utilities. That often requires federal dollars, money from the society around us, to which we have contributed all our working lives.
As our country goes through its long series of (more or less) natural disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) currently only has $800 million on hand. This is supposed to be the first-response federal agency that we count on when things get exceptionally rough, providing disaster relief and some money to rebuild. Considering that Hurricane Irene will be one of the most expensive storms in U.S. history (costing between $7 billion and $10 billion), and considering that we’ve had floods, tornadoes and wildfires all year (mingled with various nuclear crises), our emergency agency is down to nickels and dimes.
I don’t mean to make U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, your personal spokesman, but he’s an up-and-coming sadist on the national scene, and lately he’s been on TV telling us we have to make budget cuts in other areas to be able to pay for disaster relief. (Note, after several months, he finally backed off of this demand Wednesday, admitting it would be appropriate for the federal government to assist without this kind of condition.)
At the same time, raising taxes, especially on the richest Americans or the companies they own, seems to be out of the question. Budget cuts means reducing federal services in a time when they’re most desperately needed. Do you understand why we’re fighting in Afghanistan, and why as a consequence we don’t have enough money to help Vermont?
These are not the days of guns and butter, as once proclaimed by Lyndon Johnson. We are now trading food and roads for bombs and drone aircraft. Even if we are not doing this personally, we are not actively resisting. Psychologically, I do understand the problem. What we face as a society (on top of what we must do to keep our individual lives going) seems too large to deal with. It’s for this same reason that our politicians are either thriving on chaos or resorting to cheap end-times mysticism. It’s not only easier and more profitable for them to do so; it’s what they know how to do. This is a violent mentality, and it begets violence. Congress has long specialized in providing money for murder, but we’ve always assumed there would be a little bit left over to rebuild bridges after a storm.
If this philosophy is allowed to persist, we will simply become a nation in decline. By that I mean if there is a bridge you depend on to get places, once it falls into total disrepair or collapses, you will simply have to find a new route.
The Situation in Sagittarius
The Sun is now in Virgo, a mutable sign. There are an additional three mutable signs — Gemini, Sagittarius and Pisces. By one useful method of doing astrology, what happens to one of the mutable signs happens to all of them. Therefore, something unusual happening in Sagittarius can influence the other three mutable signs, and in turn ripple out into the many charts that have something potent in the mutables (which is basically everyone and everything).
To explain this I will need to go technical on you. But I will make it simple: the number to watch is 14. Let’s start with the Irene landfall chart. That has 14+ Virgo rising. That’s really the 15th degree but since the big number is 14, that’s what I’ll call it. Just remember, once you get past 14 whatever you’re talking about is occupying the 15th degree (this information may come in handy someday).
The first 14 shows up in the ascendant of the Hurricane Irene landfall chart. Landfall is when the eye of the storm reaches the land, and it touched the Outer Banks of North Carolina at about 7:30 am on Aug. 27. That is the stated time, as reported in news coverage. And the ascendant comes up as 14 Virgo 22 (meaning 14 degrees and 22 minutes). You can see that on the far left of the chart. That number is the degree of the ascendant; Virgo is the sign rising. This is where a chart begins.
Now you look for other things that have the number 14, especially in the mutable signs: there is something, right at the bottom of the chart — Pholus, a centaur planet. We keep seeing Pholus show up in big charts — everything from the Fukushima quake to the shooting in Tucson to the hacking scandal at News Corp. Pholus is the planet with the small cause and the big effect. It’s a kind of detonator, or perhaps better said, a catalyst.
Pholus is at 14 degrees Sagittarius. It is closely square the ascendant, triggering the whole chart. That happens to be the degree of the Great Attractor. That is a fixed point (like a star, only much, much bigger, and not emitting any light) that is way beyond our galaxy. The Great Attractor is a power source, literally broadcasting on every frequency except visible light. It’s one of the largest and heaviest known objects in space, probably consisting of a massive amount of dark matter. It’s pulling more than a million galaxies toward it at an incredible rate of speed; ours is one of them. Basically, everything is moving in the direction of 14+ Sagittarius. And Pholus is sitting right there, right now, condensing all that power.
Pholus is not the only thing there. To see what else is in the neighborhood you have to use a more powerful tool than what comes with most commercial software; this we find on a website called Serennu.com, programmed by Tracy Delaney. The graphic at left is a sort for everything in the mid-mutable signs. Not only is there a lot — there is a lot piled up right in mid-Sagittarius. Not everything on this graph is in Sagg however — it includes all four mutable signs, but they are all working together. But what is in Sagittarius per se is really interesting, because to me it describes the underlying psychology of our time in history, and more significantly, the spiritual crisis. Here is why.
All by itself, Sagittarius is the sign that relates to things that are visionary, spiritual and exotic. That would include educational, so if you’re ever inside a really, really amazing library, you’re standing inside the concept of Sagittarius. It’s also concerned with justice, but on the level of the highest courts, such as the United States Supreme Court or the UN’s International Court of Justice. We all have Sagittarius in our charts. We all have an energy flow coming in from this direction, whether we use it or not.
What aspects the Great Attractor takes on part of the energy — especially a conjunction. People who have natal planets in aspect to the Great Attractor can have an odd kind of charisma, where they seem untouchable. It’s as if they have an invisible boundary around them, that makes you keep your distance but want to get closer at the same time. The word attractor is used because everything is rushing toward it, but nothing can ever keep up.
It can also have a magnifying effect on whatever is there, like a cosmic repeating station that might take the relatively subtle theme of a planet or asteroid and broadcast it outward. Remember, the Great Attractor is the mass of many thousands of galaxies; it’s positively enormous. Then things come along and line up with it, and that’s exactly what we have going on now.
One of them is Pholus, a centaur planet (small, potent, weird orbit, demanding awareness). With Pholus, you don’t need any other factor to have a magnifying or accelerating effect, but it’s sitting smack on the Great Attractor right now. If the best key phrase of Pholus is ‘small cause, big effect’, add the Great Attractor and you might say, ‘very small cause, very big effect’. Pholus also covers the theme of how we react to famous people, and it’s all about intoxicants (from alcohol to Prozac to video games). And the thing about Pholus is that it can unravel several generations of buried or previously encapsulated karma. When Pholus is on the scene, you’re dealing with stuff your grandparents and great grandparents did not deal with, be it family karma or that of society. And we are getting a big blast of this right now. We are dealing with a society that has not been building itself up for the next generations, and which has not been dealing with its problems.
Note: If you have a point in your natal chart at or near 14+ degrees of any mutable sign (Gemini, Virgo, Pisces or Sagittarius), it’s taking a long transit from Pholus, and is likely to be a central point in either your healing or growth process.
Because there are several planets conjunct the Great Attractor, we can get an idea of the themes that are involved, as this multi-generational bubble is burst and lots of stuff comes gushing out. I won’t be able to cover all of the points — there are a lot of them, but I will prioritize and cover the ones that strike me as the most significant.
The Cry of the Poor, Amorality — and a Narcissistic Society
Of the many points involved in this configuration, three others stand out in Sagittarius. Note, all are objects orbiting our Sun. They are all in Sagittarius, a sign associated with spiritual matters, and a region of consciousness where we would draw the perspective that helps us acknowledge that we’re all in this together. You can think of Sagittarius as collective soul.
The first such point is Hylonome, a slow-moving centaur, which has been working over the Great Attractor. Hylonome is a female centaur who commits suicide when her partner is killed. This has been associated by astrologers with a theme of senseless grief, and sati, the (supposedly outlawed) ritual practice of women in some parts of India who choose or who are compelled to self-immolate on their husband’s funeral pyre (this association was made by Melanie Reinhart).
There is a related theme, which is ‘the cry of the poor’ (noted by Juan Revilla). On a planet with the kind of resources that ours has, in a society as technologically advanced as ours is, poverty is a manufactured product, inflicted on people as a matter of policy. Hylonome can be associated with mass expressions of protest or grief (such as during the funeral of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, during which it was precisely conjunct the Scorpio New Moon).
At the moment, an asteroid called Narcissus is conjunct the Great Attractor. I keep seeing this conjunction. Then every time I tap into Washington, DC politics, I notice how it’s a bonfire of the vanities, to borrow Tom Wolfe’s phrase. The players on the stage are involved in a big ego drama that gets them a lot of attention and happens to influence the economic and military fate of the country and in many ways, the world. But it’s totally disconnected from reality. It’s also a comment on a society that is driven by narcissistic values — from the big star you’ll be if you wear these pantyhose, to the Army of One that will supposedly win the war against the terrorists.
On both the political and social levels (that is, what they do in DC and how we conduct ourselves driving through an intersection or in line at Panera Bread), it is this narcissism that is the state of mind that can ignore the cry of the poor. Someone with a job can feel a sense of smug superiority over someone who doesn’t have one; people with pious religious views (a Sagittarian theme) can feel superior to the unsaved. In Sagittarius, this is the perfect image of the fundamentalist Christian movement that is yielding a bumper crop of politicians who conflate their own smug piety with the birthright to political power.
Also close to the Great Attractor, and part of this psychological grouping, is Ixion. This is a planet out near Pluto, discovered in 2001. Ixion, an early human king, was the first murderer and later, the would-be rapist of Hera, the Queen of Heaven. I associate this point with amorality — the lack of any moral sensibilities at all. To me this represents what appears to be a potent, even prevailing value, grossly inflamed at the moment, of not caring what is right or wrong. We expect, and in a sense endorse, our leaders making disaster relief after a hurricane into a political issue.
There is one last gem in this alignment — Borasisi (an outer planet discovered in 1999). This is the planet that reminds us of the human personality trait, ‘If I believe it, then it’s true’. Borasisi is in Pisces, square the Great Attractor and all these points. I think of it as a denial factor (‘if I don’t believe it, then it’s not true’). I covered this planet — which has associations with global toxins issues, the nuclear crisis and General Electric in particular — the week before the quake and meltdowns in Fukushima, in an article called With Love from Borasisi.
And as if this were not enough, the Sagittarius group is opposed by Chaos (an outer planet discovered in 1998). Judging from this alignment, remembering that all of these points are ramped up to an exponential degree of influence by the Great Attractor, it would seem there is no escaping our warped perspective on life. And these are all located in the heart of Sagittarius — where we really could be drawing our highest impulses to embrace our soul’s mission on Earth.
By this I mean that the point in our charts where we could be inspired to express our highest vision is at the moment — and it’s a long moment, because these are nearly all slow-moving points — where we must contend with self-obsession, overwhelm and the desire to zone out. Or looked at another way, right at the point where we draw some of our deepest inspiration is a kind of chaos generator, making focused awareness seem impossible.
The Full Moon of Sept. 12
As I mentioned earlier, what happens to one of the mutable signs happens to all of them (this also works with signs on either of the two other crosses, cardinal or fixed). As the Sun moves through mid-Virgo, it’s going to make a series of squares to all of these points, basically lighting them up. These squares from Virgo to Sagittarius are coincidental with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 incident. This culminates with the Pisces Full Moon on Sept. 12, 2011.
As the Sun and then the Moon make squares to this whole grouping of points during the next week to 10 days, you may notice yourself, the people around you and the media environment go through a strange, seemingly unconscious process that appears to be associated with grief surrounding Sept. 11. That is the surface layer; what we’re getting is a chance to observe the layers of feeling, fear, denial and exaggeration behind the political pathology of the past decade. We are getting to see the results of the logic, ‘If I barricade myself in and declare the whole world dangerous, I will feel better’.
Many of the factors involved (in particular centaurs Hylonome and Pholus) suggest that deep healing is possible, including of the multigenerational issues implied by Pholus (for example, misdirected patriotism, addiction to a war mentality, and the belief that there is a pill to cure every problem). But the prerequisite to that experience of healing is awareness — and dealing with the fear that is currently inherent in paying attention — at least at the moment.
The Pisces Full Moon also makes a square to the solar eclipse in Gemini earlier in the year (both are mutable signs; we are now about three months or 90 degrees of solar movement past that eclipse). This will add public resonance — eclipses have that sensation. This is another way of saying that the Full Moon of Sept. 12 is square the lunar nodes: it’s a potential turning point, which includes all of the themes associated with the planets in Sagittarius (which are condensing around the North Node).
The simplest way to say this is that unless we take our political problems to a higher level, what you might call a spiritual level, we’re going to be caught in the same game endlessly. The issue is evolutionary. We might ask ourselves not about when we’re going to come up with a solution to our political problems, but rather to the problem of politics.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, #873 – BY ERIC FRANCIS
Aries (March 20-April 19) — If you’ve learned anything from the past month, it’s to choose your battles. This would include the struggles you face within yourself; most of the emotional turmoil you’ve been through was unnecessary. I say that knowing you’ve learned a lot, including the way in which conflict can feed on itself. In any situation you find yourself in, remember that there is an easy way and a hard way. The easy way is likely to involve some form of expressing yourself constructively. The hard way is likely to have a tense emotional pitch and be fraught with angst. You will know which path you’re choosing by your emotional state. Either way, you’re making contact with energy. One way will come with confusion, emotional chaos and pressure; the other will come with a grounded sense of work well done, and the experience of easing tension. The choice should be easy, that is, if you choose.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Artists are at a significant advantage over many other people in that the work they do gives them the opportunity to embrace many facets of their being, and to use conflict in a productive way. It would seem like every cell in your body is reaching for this way of being in the world. The Sun and Venus are in one of the most creative, dynamic angles of your chart. Yet as they make their way through this territory, you’re likely to encounter many layers of old resistance, dysfunctional beliefs and pain that seems to be coming from somewhere beyond you. I suggest you allow this material to come up and out, rather than trying to deny it and push it back down. By approaching these experiences with curiosity and some passion, you will take pressure off of your relationships, and off of yourself. The beauty is that right now you’re in precisely that spot where creative process and healing process intersect — a place there is little use for judgment or guilt in any form.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — As Mercury is making its way across Leo in direct motion, you can now tap into some of the energy that seemed to get lost in so much chaos over the past few weeks. You still seem to be caught in some controversy over what you want the most, or what is the most important to you. You might ask yourself why that is controversial — and how it got to be that way. A controversy implies that there are two sides to the issue, competing for who is right. Who exactly are you fighting, and why? One clue I can offer is that this may have something to do with how you think you’re perceived by others. If you’re trying to make a point, impress anyone or control your image, you can be sure that you’re not really focused on your own values. Part of what you may be going through is the need to be yourself among people who would have you be some other way. In any event, I suggest you put the whole situation into words — it will make a lot more sense when you do.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Mars making its way across your birth sign since early August has come with many challenges. It’s as if you’ve had every fight you can ever have. This will be true for a while — until the next opportunity for conflict arises, in which case you get to make a conscious choice based on what you’ve learned so recently. We could sum up the underlying question this way: How can you relate to your environment in such a way that allows you to state what you need, but without having that become a point of contention? The question you might ask yourself is, why do you associate your own needs and desires with guilt? This is a question with an answer, which I suggest you investigate. Making contact with this deep-seated conflict will help you live in harmony with your environment. You don’t like to be told what to do, especially in your own home. Yet you have some commitments to others that call on you to share your physical and emotional space. If you experience this as a potential source of pleasure, you’ll have a lot more fun.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Now is the time to shift the emphasis of your career from achievement to the financial rewards involved. You’ve accomplished a lot the past few months; if you ease back on that particular drive, you will see more ways that what you’re doing — or what you’re planning — can be financially rewarding. I say this knowing that most people do what they do for the money, and the deeper rewards are usually considered secondary. You seem to have the opposite tendency, and could afford to be a little more motivated by feathering your nest. This will inspire you to do more that’s of service to the world around you, not less. For the next few months I suggest you go over old plans, projects you set aside and goals that got sidelined to other activities. Many of those have embers that are still burning, and are points of creative contact with people who could be valuable creative partners. Cultivate those relationships and everyone will benefit.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — For many people it’s a long way from their vision of what they want to the reality of manifesting it. For others, it’s a long way from their faint notions of what life could be to any focused idea. For you, the door to both your highest vision and your ability to manifest it is wide open. Yet you have to cross the territory of one particular paradox to get there. I would describe that as how the problem-solving mind and the intuitive mind work together. You’re often a mental, logical person, but at the moment that particular gift is being overtaken by an intuitive gift. Problems and puzzles that will defy your intellect will be transparent to your intuition. You don’t need to labor over having every step in the mental process organized or thought out. You already know the way through the maze.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Pay close attention to your anxiety level, and don’t let it run away with you. I recognize that there is plenty to worry about. Yet most of that fear rushes in where your sense of yourself is missing. Therefore, when you encounter fear, focus on who you are. If at that moment you distinctly feel a lack of any concept of who you are, check in and see if you’re using an elimination process, that is, trying to figure out who you are not and hoping that the remainder tells you something. I don’t think this will work very well; the statement ‘I am not’ does not translate directly to ‘I am’. Focus on any affirmative desire, goal or purpose that you might feel. Now, what happens when you do that? Do you feel any more confident? When you notice your own presence in the world, do you feel more vulnerable, or less? Do you feel more in harmony with your environment, or less? Work with these equations for a while and you will regain your sense of orientation.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — There are many people angry at God right now, and I dare say that God is getting blamed for many things that are clearly of human creation. With Mars moving through the angle of your chart associated with your spiritual identity, I suggest you investigate the role of anger in this relationship. My question for you is, if you’re angry, who exactly are you angry at? You might be inclined to say yourself, but I would propose that self-directed anger is misdirected. You’ve been through a series of inner skirmishes the past month. Some of these may have stressed your relationships, and sent one particular person into retreat. Once you understand who you’re angry at and why you feel that way, you will stop inflicting it on yourself and get out of the thought loop that you seem to be in. Go patiently, and notice when you decree any particular possibility as being out of the question.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Your solar chart suggests that you feel every possibility within you of what a person can be, and like you can actually express any of it at will. The interesting thing is you feel bigger than all of your different properties combined, which is a fine thing to notice. You will need to draw on each flow of energy and use them for a productive purpose. At this stage you can work with the idea that there is no such thing as ‘negative’. Rather, there are merely things you notice going on, within you and in the world around you. Each has a purpose; each can be put to good use. Everything you notice not only can support your goals and objectives, you must draw from it as an energy source in order to have its creative potential accessed, and to siphon the energy off of potential sources of conflict. That said, you will soon reach that moment where certainty runs out and when it’s time to take a chance based on your best instincts. Part of how you can trust those instincts is by being in harmony with all the light and dark within you.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — There’s a lot of tension between the religious ideas that our culture offers, and its ideas about sex. In order for religion to get any traction, it has to define something as evil, and with extremely rare exceptions, that something is sex. We can see examples of this every single day as various ‘presidential’ candidates wage war on anything and everything erotic. At the moment, the spiritual angle of your chart (Sun in Virgo, 9th house) is in perfect harmony with the erotic angle (Jupiter in Taurus, 5th house). This works well with your long-term program of dismantling all of the sources of guilt in your mind. At times this may feel like a process of forgiveness; at other times it may feel like the discovery that you never did anything wrong, despite the shrill cries of those obsessed with death. That really is the question: the whole issue of sin comes down to whether it’s okay to be alive, and if you decide that it is, then the obvious thing to do is celebrate.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Does working to improve yourself actually make you a better person? I guess it depends on what we mean by the words working, improve, better and person. Life is for the living; there is a relationship between theory and the practical experience, and at the moment I suggest you emphasize the latter. Inner process gets you so far; placing yourself in environments where you can explore your ideas about life, and about yourself, is how you discover what is real for you and what is not. All knowledge is contextual. Self exists in the context of community, of relationship and the expression of creative purpose. In all these aspects of existence right now your chart is bursting with energy. I can also see that there is a perceived risk involved in stretching into new experiences. That risk factor is precisely the difference between theory and practice — though there is another word for it: potential.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — This is one of those moments when the doors in your relationships can swing open mysteriously. This follows a phase of some turbulence and frustrated potential. Since Pisces is one of two signs that has its partnership angle ruled by Mercury, your relationships come under the influence of Mercury retrograde three times a year, and that can churn things up. The planets in their courses are presenting you with opportunity; what you must bring is trust. Trust would not be so meaningful had it not been an issue in the past, so this is a significant contribution on your part. What exactly are you trusting? The first thing is your own perception. The second is that the people around you are in fact devoted to directing their energy in loving and creative ways. There are no guarantees of these things, and I remind you we live in an exceptionally challenging time for any relationship because so much is changing so fast. Therefore, trust your flexibility. It’s one of your greatest assets.