“The future’s here. We are it.” — John Perry Barlow
Dear Friend and Reader:
There is a kind of combat happening on the streets of New York City, and many cities across the United States. Evicting the calm, sedate protest from Zuccotti Park Tuesday morning caused the Occupy Wall Street movement’s two-month celebration, long planned for November 17, to cascade into a massive event that New York City officials could not control. There are more people than police in New York City and every city in the world. Nearly everyone is affected by the economic issues that the Occupy protesters are organizing around, and crackdowns are only having the effect of bringing more people into the movement.
We’re now witnessing a standoff on the streets of the United States that has been brewing for decades, as wealth condensed into the hands of a very few people and one war after the next was fought for profit. Many of the wealthiest 1% have made their money profiting from the national security state that has emerged since Sept. 11, 2001. Now, the economy is so top-heavy that it’s toppling over.
As I write Thursday, I’m watching live video of a doctor with the organization PNHP.org talk about how the number one reason for personal bankruptcy in the United States is medical costs — even among those who have health insurance. He described a patient who came in with a broken leg with the bone sticking out who told him, “Do as little as possible. I cannot afford this.”
When people with legitimate concerns rise up exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest and are pushed down by armed police, who broadcast pepper spray into a crowd or plunge bicycles into groups of people, that is not civil society; it’s a combat situation. It’s a coordinated assault on human beings and on civil rights. I believe that this week’s multi-city eviction of Occupy movements was part of an organized effort to deny people their constitutional right to protest.
Yet it’s more than that. When police shoot videographers, arrest accredited journalists and inflict critical injuries on military veterans, that is open combat on a free society, and that is exactly what we’ve been witnessing in recent weeks.
When the powers that be react to political speech with a show of absolute power, responding to unarmed people with violence and aggression, you can be sure they feel threatened. They are outnumbered, and they know they are the less popular side, when it comes to hearts and minds. And they know more than we do. We’re experiencing massive, nearly nationwide protests with the banks open, funds moving and food available in stores. I am sure they dread to think what might happen were that to change.
As I write on Thursday afternoon, the NYPD has barricaded hundreds of people into Zuccotti Park. There are police with helmets in every direction. Let’s remember that this is not a student protest. It’s a statement by people of all ages and many backgrounds demanding redress from the ripoff of the economy by bankers, the corporate money that controls politics and government, the untold thousands of jobs that have been converted to slavery in Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Thousands of people have figured out they have nothing to lose. And they are under psychological pressure they experience mainly as fear, and then that bursts through and comes out as energy. That is the Occupy movement: an economic civil rights movement. What historians don’t know when they question why this is happening now is that the astrology is right. The confluence of oppressive events in the economy and the rest of society is meeting with the astrology of revolution.
There are always mass uprisings, revolutions and unprecedented cultural breakthroughs when Uranus and Pluto get together. That’s what we’ve been seeing all year. (Incredibly, Arab Spring was just a few months ago, even though it seems to be in the distant past.) As I have written many times, this is only the beginning; the first exact square of Uranus and Pluto is not until June, and the last one isn’t until late 2015. I know I keep saying this. We won’t really have a clear picture of what this energy is going to bring until the first square next spring. That is when the real acceleration begins.
What we’re witnessing now is a process of polarization. People are being radicalized, coming to terms with the nature of existence, and taking a stand, many for the first time in their lives. In the process we’re realizing we’re neither alone in what we feel or what we’re experiencing. Then the power structure is responding with unrestrained brute force, and rage that almost seems personal in nature. Years ago, Mike Frisch, my American Studies professor, explained that the purpose of a protest is to bring out the nature of the beast. By that, he meant that the nature of the power structure, its agenda and its conduct are latent until they are challenged. Then they show their true colors.
That’s what you’re seeing when you see Iraq or Afghanistan veterans being clobbered by the cops, young women being pepper sprayed and people being corralled someplace they would never go and arrested by the hundreds. Then others respond to this, and the protests grow. City officials and police feel more desperate, fearing they’re going to lose control, and they act more aggressively, which only feeds the protests and raises awareness of the issues.
Thursday, you had to produce corporate ID or proof of local residency to walk down a street in lower Manhattan. At Brooklyn College, there was an incident where an Occupy general assembly being held in a campus building was interrupted by police, who demanded student ID and would not give them back to the students until they left. Students were then pushed by campus security down a hall, down a flight of stairs and out into the rain. We don’t even need to ask whether this is necessary. It’s not, but it’s telling us something about the people who are responding this way. We can gather a clue that they fear this is going to get larger.
As this goes on, we are seeing just how much firepower the civilian police actually have: the kinds of weapons and tactics, the sheer numbers, all of which is being brought to bear on protesters. Someone just told me they were concerned that the NYPD might bring out the Hercules Teams, which New York magazine describes as “elite, heavily armed, Special Forces–type police units that pop up daily around the city. It can be at the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, or the stock exchange, wherever the day’s intelligence reports suggest they could be needed. These small teams arrive in black Suburbans, sheathed in armor-plated vests and carrying 9-mm submachine guns — sometimes with air or sea support. Their purpose is to intimidate and to very publicly mount a show of force.”
Actually that would be worth something: let’s see what power they are willing to bring out in the face of little kids riding piggyback on their parents’ shoulders, young people with their dogs and pet rats, unemployed nurses protesting the lack of jobs, people playing drums and young women holding placards about peace and love.
Centaurs, Personal Planets and the Great Attractor
On Tuesday, I summed up the astrology that blended the personal planets (Venus, Mars and Mercury) with highly potent planets called centaurs (at the moment, Chiron, Pholus, Nessus and others). These in turn are aligning with the Great Attractor, and the mixture is illustrating a kind of rapid acceleration and transformative alchemy. My impression from this astrology was that we would witness events that would have impact far into the future; that this would be a week of both history precipitated, and catalysts of future developments.
Yet this kind of energy movement can raise the sense of fear and conflict in many people. How you feel under potent astrology depends on your density level. The more fearful and contracted your energy, the more panicky you’re likely to feel. The more open you are, the more exciting and momentous it’s likely to feel. This is not a time to be caught in ideology, in denial or even in anger. It’s time to hang loose and pay attention.
In January 2010 I wrote that the next few years would make the 1960s seem like a walk in the park, in the same article proposing: “When the energy rises like this, many people feel it as something passionate. Yet for those who are struggling with obstacles, it can be extremely frustrating. We can find ourselves at a moment of awesome potential with nothing but chores to take care of. I suggest we remember that we’re in a moment of quickening. There are no shortcuts to growth, but there are moments of rapid acceleration, and we’re about to stroll into one of them.”
That was nearly two years ago, and we’ve been through this over and over again. This week, some of the most emotional planets, the ones that are closest to the core of how it feels to be human, have been (and still are being) catapulted through the realm of the centaurs — energies which for many people are the most uncomfortable. For most people, centaur energy is so far beyond the edge they would never go there voluntarily. Centaurs can represent the emergence of subject matter that (at times) is no more pleasant than the pus coming out of an infection.
In the midst of this acceleration, there is something extremely personal developing: the Penn State child rape scandal. This may seem entirely removed from the Occupy protests, but I would say they are aspects of the same thing, developing under the same astrology. The common thread can be summed up in one word: power. There is another common theme: group dynamics.
The difference between rape and voluntary sex is precisely the exercise of power as opposed to choice. That power can take many forms, and in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the coach accused of 40 counts of sex crimes, it took many different forms. By that, I mean within the one-to-one relationships he had with the boys he raped.
Yet there was part of his power that came from beyond him, which was the vast, decade-long conspiracy to cover up what he was doing. It extended through the ranks of the Penn State athletic program and administration and straight into the judicial system.
The cover-up included an active, aggressive and persistent form of denial, and lots of seemingly passive but equally toxic looking the other way. From testimony we’ve heard so far, Sandusky apparently had the active cooperation of university officials in committing his crimes, which is why the president and many other campus officials have been prosecuted or fired in recent weeks. I described this Tuesday as an aspect of the centaur Nessus in Aquarius, the sign of groups. Nessus is a focal point of the Uranus-Pluto square, and it’s calling group dynamics into focus. This can reflect how otherwise ‘good’ people can surrender their power and become a group that perpetuates evil. It’s almost as if many people have two identities — the one they show to people one on one, and the the other that emerges when in some form of collective. I believe this is a dangerous form of psychic fragmentation, responsible for much pain in the world.
Now that this is spilling out, we’re hearing on TV that there are many, many Jerry Sanduskys in the world. Actually, the Jerry Sanduskys, that is, the serial pedophiles of non-related children, are fairly rare. The vast majority of child sexual abuse happens inside households.
Yet in terms of the denial element, and the power element, what happened at Penn State — up to the revelations of the crimes, that is — is the same thing that happens in many households where the children are sexually abused by adult caregivers right under everyone’s gaze. That is the more common setup and it’s in many ways worse, because the betrayal is so intimate.
I am aware as an absolute fact that many of my readers have been harmed this way, and many others have been stricken indirectly (for example, they’re aware of or unconsciously struggling with what has happened to their parents, siblings or cousins), and the repeated exposure to this story is likely to be stirring up old wounds and unresolved anger. So too is the current astrology (please see ERO section below).
All of this is happening in a sexual environment where there is constant feigning of care and concern for underage people, whether this involves federal regulation of sexual imagery on the Internet or the potential suspicion of anyone who takes care of kids. Today, two 14-year-old girls who voluntarily choose to have sex with one another can be charged with statutory rape. Yes, it’s rare that they would be charged, but the laws are in place, and prosecutions do happen, despite the lifelong pain this can cause to kids who simply do not deserve it.
Now we find out what was going on, and being suppressed, in one of the most famous university athletic programs in the world, and how many well-placed, influential people had to cooperate in order for it to continue as long as it did.
The positive side is that this takedown is providing some healing for the many people who were raped by Sandusky, they will have access to civil damages, people will go to jail, and some future attacks may be prevented. There may be a sense of poetic justice and some healing for those who have suffered at the hands of others. Yet this whole incident also offers evidence of how much work we have to do on the personal level, even if we succeed in creating economic or political reforms. I suspect, however, that engaging in actual inner personal reform is the prerequisite for any meaningful changes in society as a whole.
The negative side is that any sex scandal is bad for all sex. Publicly associating attack, grief, shame and humiliation with any form of sex, no matter how evil, may evoke a sense of justice, but it also chills the entire emotional and erotic environment. Even as the toxins are cleansed from that one situation, they enter the total environment, adding to the pain that is already there.
This verges on impossible to see because the background level of guilt and the feeling of wrongness about sex is so pervasive even in those who have done nothing to intentionally harm or abuse others. The feeling of betrayal of emotional trust is so pervasive. The dishonesty that surrounds sex is so ubiquitous, and many respond with an attitude of sanctimonious purity — despite whatever they may actually do behind supposedly closed doors.
What are we going to do about this? I am pretty sure there’s a sexual revolution on its way. I can’t exactly tell you what kind, but sexual mores have become so restrictive on the one hand and so ridiculously unbridled on the other, that they are due for the kind of revolt that Uranus-Pluto events are famous for. Has anyone read the story about the Egyptian woman who decided to protest against macho by undressing on her blog? She nearly caused the Internet to explode. We might think, oh, that’s a Muslim country. But Westerners carry most of the same inhibitions as everyone else, rooted just as deeply. And we’re at a huge disadvantage for thinking we’re so free.
During the last sexual revolution, the thing that didn’t happen was an actual renegotiation of relationships. Sex became more available, but the terms largely remained unconscious and rooted in the economic discrepancies between men and women. If power relationships changed, much of the change was superficial. One starting point is learning to openly negotiate the terms of our relationships, and to be able to communicate our own point of view clearly enough for someone to understand it. We have to make room for one another, but closer to home, we have to make room for ourselves in our own lives. If you ask me, the next sexual revolution will start in the mirror and expand outward from there.
It’s truly beautiful and exciting that people are rising up in the face of economic injustice and political corruption. What we need just as much is to go inside, and begin to make peace with ourselves, and then to reach out to the people around us.
Something to Try: Infrequently Asked Questions
Patricia Thomas of London, a friend of Planet Waves (and Eric’s former editor at The Ecologist), has created two virtual decks of questions designed for anyone who would like to challenge their assumptions and shift their thinking — and anyone who already feels this process occurring and would like to engage with it proactively.
Questions have a way of creating momentum, of moving us forward. They make the mind active rather than passive, make us attentive to new ideas, open up new worlds and possibilities. Questions define and refine our thinking and our philosophy of life; they are the basis of our search for the truth of things. Questions are a manifestation of curiosity — and curiosity helps build awareness, appreciation and understanding.
What started as a way to remember the questions that were most important to her personally and in her work as a journalist — questions that often get forgotten under pressure of life and deadlines — evolved into two rough decks of cards, and eventually into a web-based project, Infrequently Asked Questions. The website features two virtual decks of cards with more than 100 questions each. The CultureShift and InnerQuest decks prompt the user with the kind of questions each of us needs to ask when we find ourselves on the threshold of a new challenge — whether personal, cultural, technological or philosophical. They work like Tarot in that we often draw the cards to us that we need — even if their meaning is not always immediately apparent. It’s a game — but it also has a serious purpose. Have fun with it and feel free to help it evolve further by providing your feedback.
Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. Weekly Horoscope #882. | Eric’s Zodiac Sign Descriptions
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Are you feeling like you’re about to explode? That’s what it looks like from your chart, more or less. There is indeed something in you that’s pushing to be reborn into the world, which is a version of yourself that has faith in your own confidence. You keep going through this, and every time you hope you’ll get it right. Try this visualization. You’re standing face to face with a being you perceive as much greater than yourself: taller than you, enormous on a scale different than human, and the essence of creative power. Now imagine this being morphs into someone who resembles you, before your eyes. It is you, and you can ‘become’ this seemingly separate entity — and then you remember. You’ve made a promise to yourself. It feels more like a sacred vow, and you know that the time has arrived to honor that commitment. But how? I am sure you know.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may feel like you’re out of place, in over your head or that too much is expected of you. Yet at the same time, you’re a determined, persistent person, who loves a challenge and who has some real ambitions to do the right thing in the world, and for the world. How can both conditions be true at the same time? Well, they can be, though the meeting point is making peace with being called to live up to your potential. Yet called by whom? If it feels like you’re being called by someone or something outside yourself, you may be projecting the matter. But then, that’s often how ‘callings’ arrive in our lives. We are presented with opportunities, and the means to explore them. What is presenting itself directly to you, in your immediate environment or your mental environment? What are you doing in response?
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — When we admire someone, the question is, are we seeing something in them, or seeing something about ourselves that we identify with in them? And is one more legitimate than the other? These are questions you have to ask for yourself, with regard to one particular relationship. Both conditions may turn out to be true. This would also be worth inquiring about if the situation is a negative attachment of any kind, which might be a judgment or the perception of someone as egotistical, self-serving or arrogant. I know that first impressions mean a lot; if that is the case, go back to your very first impression for more information. In the meantime, I suggest you give this involvement the rest of the year to work itself out, and make careful observations before you take any action or make any commitments. In the world of personality, anything can be a mirror, so use your discernment.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — This may feel like a particularly messy or alienated time where your relationship commitments are concerned, but what if those mattered far less than being true to yourself? You may think that you’ve lost your way, but your astrology suggests that your true quest has just begun. It’s far less about your relationships and more about a soul journey that you’ve been preparing to embark upon. Most of the time, this gets confused with having a ‘soul mate’, which is a distraction from the elemental truth that your journey through the world is an experience unique to you. The intimacy you’re seeking is a state of spiritual harmony with yourself. This is something you can share with others; and the more in tune you are with yourself, the more meaning their self-presence will have for you. I would just remind you that this is not about relationships, it’s about being in tune with your own existence.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — The next few days you may feel like you’re walking through a fog. It’s likely you’ve driven through a fog, and you know what to do: slow down, increase your mental focus, and relax at the same time. The problem with this fog is that it has a psychic charge to it, and the charge is a kind of reactivity. If you have any sensation of mistrusting others, or the feeling of lurking betrayal, slow down. I don’t know the source of these thoughts, but a careful reading of your solar chart advises caution about believing your own fears. Once the Sun enters your fellow fire sign Sagittarius next week, you will proceed with new confidence, but I suggest you be vigilant any time you feel your confidence falter. You’re stronger than you think, and your awareness gives you more information than you know. Proceed with care rather than caution, and faith rather than hope.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Be careful what promises you make for the next few months; make sure you’re fully prepared to come through immediately when you offer something to someone. I also suggest you conduct an inventory of promises you’ve made but have not kept. You don’t have to fulfill all your old commitments at once, though I suggest you keep them in mind, and get in contact with anyone you feel you’ve neglected and let them know you’re aware of that fact. You’re doing this more for your own sake than for anyone else’s. The chances are that you’ve injured people far less than you may fear, if at all. Yet the way things go in our particular world, people are always grateful when someone voluntarily makes amends. Often the result is a greater overall gain than if the whole thing had not happened, coming with the subtle but authentic feeling of faith in humanity being restored.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You’ve had an unusual week, that’s for sure. I suggest you write some diary notes about what you experienced, thought, felt, heard and said — because it’s going to come in handy. The beauty of it all is you’ve had a chance to assert yourself in some unusual ways, but this is not the moment to stop: rather, it’s your jumping-off point. You may not at this moment recognize the influence you’ve had, or the strength of your ideas; you may not know the power of what you’ve discovered or indeed that you’ve discovered anything at all. This is why I’m suggesting you put some notes in your journal, take some photos of yourself, save a few artifacts and bookmark the whole thing. What you’ve created is a formula that blends freedom and responsibility, neither of which is meaningful without the other.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — As the Sun moves through the final degrees of your sign, it’s making an aspect to Neptune in Aquarius — a square, which implies tension, emotional conflict and the sensation of not knowing what’s true. This looks like a playback of confusion you’ve experienced many times before, particularly around your birthday. If you’ve never quite arrived at the point where the confusion became your teacher, now is a great moment to let it be just that. The space of not knowing is a vital one to enter fully. Usually we react with denial, which often comes in the form of false certainty. The thing you want to watch out for these days is false uncertainty. You know you’re pushing certain issues a little more than some people who say they like you would prefer. Don’t worry about being popular. Don’t argue for your cause. Pause and walk away before you respond or react in an emphatic way. You may think that others challenge you at their own risk, but if you overreact, the peril is yours and yours alone.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — If our culture is infused with narcissism, how can we distinguish it from anything else? We live in a society that confuses self-esteem with arrogance, self-love with vanity, creativity with self-obsession and self-awareness with having a big ego. Yet there’s another layer as well. Having grown up in such an environment, many people lack any sense of who they are or what they want, since that rarely mattered to their early caregivers. Being raised by narcissistic people means their goals became your goals, and their fears became yours — another way of saying that you didn’t exist in your own right. In the midst of a sea of narcissism, the first step is often to come back to — or find for the first time — what we value and desire. Be aware of that, and take the next step and encourage others to discover what matters the most to them.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Someone close to you may be offering intuitive or common sense guidance, but you may still have your doubts. I suggest you take a look at why you feel that way. It may be reluctance to take any guidance at all, or it may be that you’re questioning their motives. You may be concerned that you’ll have to rearrange your life if you change your mind about something. But most likely you’re resisting information that comes from this elusive thing known as intuition. Fear may be getting in the way of your own subtle senses, and you may think you’re getting conflicting information. Anyone who is offering their viewpoint is likely to have a lot deeper information than they’re letting on. If you want to know more, ask. In the end, you’re responsible for any decisions you make, but decisions are best made having considered several points of view.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You may feel like you’re under some unusual pressure that you have no idea how to respond to. It’s like the air is getting heavier and the walls are growing closer in, but I suggest you pause and ask how much of this is some combined effect of your mind and your feelings. This is adding up to a sensation that feels like it’s coming from your environment. I suspect this is true, though you’ll have confirmation (and some relief) soon enough, when the Sun changes signs to Sagittarius next week. Meanwhile, Neptune has just stationed direct in your sign, about to exit after a 12-year journey. There’s some natural advice that comes with this: you have a window of a few months to tidy up any matters of self-deception that have afflicted you going as far back as you can remember. The pressure you may be feeling is the need to be real with yourself, something that’s best done gently.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — I suggest you do a little study of the times when taking care of your own needs was used against you. This can include anything from being responsive to your own feelings to taking care of your dietary needs. Start with your parents and other dominant adults who were present when you were a child. One result, especially for you, can be a guilt complex around taking care of yourself, which many try to assuage with self-neglect. It doesn’t work. But neither does fighting for the ‘right’ to look after your own basic interests. You can go a long way by noticing when you’re having either response — guilt, or fighting. You may have the impulse to run from either. I suggest you hang out with the feeling and see if you can map it out, and learn something from it. Then, observe how you feel as you focus on basic self-care with a clear conscience. I know, it can be a little strange.