Through the Looking Glass

Dear Friend and Reader:

Neptune entered Pisces this week. In astrology, one of the measures of significance is how rare an event is. Neptune has not been in this position since 1847, just one year after its discovery, and a good while before the Civil War ripped the United States in half. No living person has experienced this transit before. So that qualifies as news. It’s especially news given that for the past 12 years, Neptune’s presence in Aquarius has worked like a fog machine to obscure the difference between truth and lies, to the degree where many are pleasantly oblivious to any distinction at all.

Illustration of Humpty Dumpty by John Tenniel, from Through the Looking Glass, 1871.

I realize that playing games with public perception is a time-honored tradition among the rich and powerful. Even as individuals, we have PR departments that work overtime, to make sure people think we’re pure and feckless. But the tools for manipulating perception have never been more influential, and it seems like the minds of most people have never been more susceptible to corruption (unless you count the ministrations of religion, which set us up to believe anything at all).

To be fair, the world has problems more serious than most mortals have any concept of how to confront, deal with or process emotionally. One could argue that denial is a reasonable approach. Yet the background fear level, coupled with that denial, is precisely what makes people so vulnerable to psychic attack. There is a direct relationship between denial of what is going on in the world around us and denial of our own personal material. And at times, the exaggerated sense that there is ‘something wrong with us’ can send the whole mind into denial — and this now has lots of cultural sanction.

Meanwhile, during Neptune in Aquarius, tsunami has become a household word. We have seen the flooding of New Orleans and many, many other places — too many to count (some days it’s hard to tell the difference between a tornado in the Bronx from a flood that covers a swath of New Jersey; it all blends together). Ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising to the point where island nations disappear under the water before our eyes — while climate change deniers tell us it isn’t so.

We’ve witnessed the contamination of the Gulf of Mexico with crude oil, and the federal government is back to issuing deepwater drilling permits for rigs using blowout preventer technology that predates the BP platform explosion. Thursday night, Rachel Maddow had on her program Michael Bromwich, the federal official responsible for issuing those permits. He defended using the old blowout preventers on the grounds that the federal government knew all along that they don’t really work. That’s what he said! It’s supposed to be an acceptable answer! If you would like to have the awakening experience of being really pissed off, here is that video.

For the past decade-plus we have been living with water on the brain. The first major example of a world-changing event under Neptune in Aquarius was the fraudulent impeachment of Bill Clinton — you know, the president who was dealing quite well with the federal deficit. That is to say, under Neptune in Aquarius we have been experiencing a wide-scale failure of logic. Though we can see the roots of this particular thought form going back a long way, the process has accelerated exponentially in these years of Neptune in Aquarius, which are now, finally, drawing to a close. Yet the damage done by floods is insidious.

I speak as someone with a lot of both Neptune and Aquarius in my chart. I respect these influences, and I know how destructive they can be. It is challenging to get your head above water; you have to really want not to drown. In order to function, Aquarius requires intellectual discipline, and Neptune requires discernment and a bit of detachment. When you subtract these, the psychotic politicians and the directors of television commercials set the tone of consciousness. We can, and did, end up with a political system that is ruled by people under no obligation to make any sense; no obligation to have any empathy at all.

Barack Obama greets Republican mastermind Karl Rove at a White House reception for freshman senators in 2005. Photo by Doug Mills for The New York Times.

Does anyone remember this bit from The New York Times Magazine, written by Ron Suskind? It’s an interview with a presidential aide to George W. Bush, from 2004, and is to me the essence of the Neptune in Aquarius era:

The aide said that guys like me [the author, a Timeswriter] were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Did you get that? He said, “You, all of you.” His psychic posture is demanding the total submission of the writer and his audience, that is, the whole population, to his own hallucinations. He is saying, we set the terms of reality, we will build our empire on this, and you must surrender (your mind and your will). Do you know who the speaker was? In a recent book, he was revealed to be Karl Rove. It’s no wonder that Rove is the reputed mastermind of the plot to get rid of Julian Assange, the creator of WikiLeaks. We cannot have any leaks of reality (such as our own documents) into this fantasy empire.

Now, it’s one thing that someone says this kind of thing, though it’s more appropriate for Shakespeare or a psychiatrist’s office than you would hope it is for anyone to be saying or even thinking in the White House. It’s another thing that Rove and his colleagues were and apparently still are involved in the military, the economy, the whole world. It’s what Lewis Carroll was getting at when he wrote this passage of Through the Looking Glass:

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’,” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

All paranoia, all the time — Glenn Beck, live and on the air, for now. Photo from Fox PR department.

Speaking of anything meaning anything, Glenn Beck didn’t last but a few days with Neptune in Pisces before he bailed out of, or was heaved overboard from, primetime TV. The imminent end of his psychopathology hour was announced by Fox this week, though sadly, no date was given. Beck has viewers, but apparently not sponsors (besides those selling survivalist gear, and gold, which qualifies as such). As Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out, you can’t really sell cars or insurance policies or anything particularly useful when you’re also telling people the world is going to end.

The End, however, is a popular item among the populace. Expectation of the world ‘ending’ is the ultimate release from responsibility, from the drive for growth and, well, from just about everything else in our particular world and on our level of existence. In this context The End can translate to, ‘Why should I bother going for that new job, if the currency system is going to collapse?’

Because The End is near, you don’t really have to do anything. We don’t have to do anything, such as set about the challenging task of solving global problems that have amassed during the past century; why bother? Here is the thing not said often enough about the many, many people, including every single fundamentalist Christian politician, who are into The End. It’s the projection of individual mortality onto the collective. In other words, when a person is not mature enough to have a conscious relationship to death, one way out is to say that ‘the world is going to end’ and thus ‘we are all going to die’.

Suppressed orgasm — the very stock-in-trade of religion — pushes conflict around death to the level of a psychic frenzy. Everything, including every relationship, becomes a survival drama. It is a condition wherein the mind cannot let go or embrace the idea of change. If political leaders know a lot of people are simply not dealing with death or sex (matters of the 8th house), then the money aspect of the 8th house is open to being pillaged. Money becomes the symbol of survival and the symbol of power, and that in turn can be used to manipulate anything.

Proposed Shutdown of the Federal Government

At the moment we are witnessing a drama wherein the federal government may be shut down today. I guess this happens every few years (the last time was about 15 years ago), but I don’t remember any such incidents directly. As it’s being explained to us, the Tea Party movement’s new representatives in Congress are pushing the more traditional Republicans into an agenda disguised as ‘austerity measures’.

Pushed by the Tea Party movement, Speaker of the House John Boehner is trying to use the budget crisis as a way to get rid of Planned Parenthood and take regulatory power from the EPA. Wire service photo of the great man.

Congress could pass a temporary law to keep things funded as the different sides work out the issues. This has been going on for a while, and each time, the Mad Tea Party tacks on conditions: We will vote for this temporary extension if you cut this much more money and include this brilliant idea.

The latest version of such a temporary spending law was passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives yesterday, which includes 60 measures that read like the right-wingnut wish list: de-funding Planned Parenthood, taking away regulatory power from the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce clean air and water laws, stripping from ATF its ability to collect information on people who want to buy multiple weapons, and on and on. There is an agenda in operation. The problem with these wild conservative proposals is that they are unpopular with most Americans, so it’s necessary not only to sneak them in but to force them though using this kind of blackmail. Then they get on TV and talk about how they want to be fiscally responsible. In truth, the Mad Tea Party agenda includes threatening to cut funding to the troops (which means their families) and hold that as ransom in order to withhold reproductive healthcare for young women.

This is similar to how Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, has tried to bust his state’s public employee unions as a supposed austerity measure. In fact, he created Wisconsin’s budget deficit by giving huge tax credits to big companies. And the unions themselves are budget-neutral; they merely give a lot of money to Democratic candidates. This strategy is becoming standard fare for our times — create a fiscal emergency, then do everything in the name of responding to that emergency. Here we have an example of pure Shock Doctrine politics: everything is done in the name of a crisis, or of responding to an enemy, and generally in the name of fear. It still amazes me to see my fellow human beings stand in front of a TV camera and spew out lies right in front of everyone. It amazes me that we cannot look at them and recognize: these people are so messed up emotionally, how do we trust them with that much power?

Fred Rogers testifies before Congress on the importance of Public Television on May 1, 1969 when Nixon was threatening funding to the program. You can watch the video here — it is amazing.

Among the other items on this same legislative agenda are getting rid of Public Television, NPR, Medicaid and Social Security. Clearly, our nation is in the grip of an opportunistic infection of the mind, based on its weakened integrity. Under this theory, tax cuts for the rich remain the answer to all the world’s ills. I watch a lot of cable news. I keep hearing guys from the Mad Tea Party come out of the room and say, “Yeah this is gonna create jobs. Lots and lots of jobs.” Most newscasters just let this go by unquestioned, and the general public — outraged by high taxes — just swallows it whole. But they (which is to say we) don’t get the tax breaks!

I am wondering how much Americans must have taken away from them before they figure out that something is missing. How long before we wake up from our ADD around social consciousness and realize they can do something? I wonder what we think is the purpose of all these taxes we pay. If the social programs all disappear, all we’ll have are bombs and guns. For those who live in a world of pain and fear, that does make some sense.

I will add, however, that the introduction of Chiron and Neptune in Pisces is a game-changer. Like anything involving Pisces, it may take a while to get tangible results. The first thing that will change is perception. Outer planet transits always shift the whole climate and our perception of the world around us. For a while the lies will be transparent before we figure out what to do about them. There are other game-changers that are en route, particularly Uranus square Pluto. That is the action piece. I’ve said in previous articles that this presumes something against which to take action — and now we’re starting to see what that is. The next essential step is coming from a positive vision for the future, and I know that seems like a heck of a lot to ask right now.

When In Doubt, Raise the ‘Safe’ Level

Also this first week of Neptune in Pisces, Japan dumped 15,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Engineers managing the cleanup of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant were making room in ‘low’-level waste tanks to hold high-level water (some of it reported to be 5 million times more radioactive than the allowable levels). Thus, the ‘low’-level water had to be flushed, and the only place to flush it was the Pacific. The official line is that these persistent toxins will he harmlessly absorbed by the ocean, but one would need to have no understanding of biology to believe that. These toxins will migrate through the entire globe through a process called diffusion, while at the same time moving up the food chain in a process called bioconcentration.

Finally, a clear image of the external damage at Fukushima. This picture, taken by a small drone aircraft, shows the destroyed reactor building of Unit 4, the one with the spent fuel pond that kept bursting into flames. The photo shows the scale of the building, which has been nearly impossible to see in previous photos. Photo: Air Photo Service Co. Ltd., Japan. More photos here.

A strong aftershock hit northeastern Japan on Thursday. Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS) reported: “Today’s earthquake (which we have seen variously reported as between 7.1 and 7.9 in magnitude) has knocked out power in some sections of northeast Japan. The single-unit Higashidori Boiling Water Reactor and the Rokkasho reprocessing plant have lost offsite power and are running on emergency diesel generators. Offsite power may also have been lost to the three-unit Onagawa nuclear complex, although there is a report that power remains for the reactors themselves, but not for the fuel pools and that those are relying upon emergency diesel generators.”

Meanwhile, as radiation continued to spread across the United States, the EPA raised the supposedly ‘safe’ level of radiation exposure — something that Japan did recently as well. According to The Tennessean, a Gannett newspaper (associated with USA Today), “The EPA is preparing to dramatically increase permissible radioactive releases in drinking water, food and soil after ‘radiological incidents’, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.”

The newspaper reported that the rule does not require public airing before it’s decided upon. The article continued, “Drinking water, for example, would have a huge increase in allowable public exposure to radioactivity, the group says, that would include: a nearly 1000-fold increase in strontium-90, a 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for iodine-131 and an almost 25,000 rise for nickel-63.” Gee, when the going gets unsafe, redefine safe. This would not be the first time in history that the ‘safe level’ has been raised to just above the probable exposure level. That’s how it’s done with PCBs and dioxin. You clean as much as you can (or feel like paying for), and call it good.

For some reason this reminds me of Alan Hale, the state legislator in Montana who is arguing in favor of abolishing drunk driving laws. He also happens to be a bar owner. Here is some video of that. But back to nuclear power.

Physicist Michio Kaku, one of the founders of string theory, has been outspoken about the nuclear crisis in Japan. Photo: BBC World Service.

Michio Kaku, a professor of physics at City College of New York, is warning that “three raging meltdowns” are underway at Fukushima. Here is that video interview.

But probably the most distressing news of the week came in the form of speculation, though based on history and the available facts. Yoichi Shimatsu, a Hong Kong–based environmental writer and former editor of the Japan Times Weekly, has proposed that the nuclear installation at Fukushima was housing a covert nuclear weapons program. She believes that several of the reactors were functioning as enrichment devices rather than as civilian power plants.

She writes:

“The smoke and mirrors at Fukushima 1 seem to obscure a steady purpose, an iron will and a grim task unknown to outsiders. The most logical explanation: The nuclear industry and government agencies are scrambling to prevent the discovery of atomic-bomb research facilities hidden inside Japan’s civilian nuclear power plants.

“A secret nuclear weapons program is a ghost in the machine, detectable only when the system of information control momentarily lapses or breaks down. A close look must be taken at the gap between the official account and unexpected events.”

The Way Forward, Through Pisces

I recognize that none of this is pleasant to think about. But it all points to the need for something better. If we want the quality of life on our planet to get better, we need ideas, and we need ways to apply those ideas. But first we are going to need to understand our thinking, and the thinking of the people who are pushing the world into various nightmare scenarios. Or maybe we don’t need to understand them, actually — maybe we only need to understand ourselves. That might actually work.

For example, if we challenge our tendency to believe lies, that blocks the process of deception. It actually stops the pathogen of deceit in its tracks. That is about shifting our own motives toward valuing truth. Sooner or later, we will need to face this shadow that is cast over humanity, yet for now we can begin with our own hearts, minds and souls.

One of the most dysfunctional beliefs is that what we think, feel or do does not make a difference. That is to say, if you ask the question, “What does my being more informed about nuclear power do to prevent a nuclear accident?” you may get a null answer: logically, it may make no difference at all.

You may decide that, if you live within 100 miles of a nuclear power plant, you need an evacuation plan. That will help you and your family but it won’t help solve the larger problem. In fact, however we analyze it, there may not seem to be an answer to the larger problem. We can make token gestures, which make small contributions, which might add up — but that takes a good bit of self-convincing.

So what if we take the whole situation as a matter of personal integrity? What if that’s the only thing on the line? What if we make just one decision — to stop believing lies? That is by default a commitment to be more discerning. It is a decision to be better informed. It implies a decision to be more honest with ourselves, and in turn, more honest with others. Doing this would shift our relationships toward integrity. I know we don’t usually think of this as being associated with Pisces, but that’s what time it is.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, April 8, 2011, #855 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Eric’s Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You run the risk of thinking you know more than you do, and then acting too quickly. Nobody likes to admit how much knowledge they lack, but in your case right now that awareness would be profitable. You may be making assumptions about someone else that are based on your doubts about yourself. For the moment, I suggest you address your inner reality rather than trying to seek accountability in anyone else. Your inner sphere may contain more conflict than you’ve previously imagined. One way this may be coming out is as a conquering spirit, such as ambition or the desire to make a name for yourself. You do know a lot; you possess enough information to be considered an expert. But what you’re missing is more important than what you know. It may take you a couple more weeks to figure that out, and when you do, I think you’ll be glad you waited a little while longer to take action that you cannot easily reverse.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may be experiencing some challenges sorting out a relationship situation. This would include seemingly extreme contrasts of right and wrong, the desire to solve everything at once, questions about jealousy and power, and why it seems to take so little to set you off so deeply. The mistake you may be making is orienting your identity around a relationship, and worse, around what you think of as being the public perception of that relationship. If you determine that your life is about you, that will not only provide a solid starting point; it will be easier to determine the best course of action. If you want to be less at the mercy of external factors, you can have precisely that. If you do, you’ll have an opportunity to admit your own confusion, which is something that (with patience and inner awareness) you can actually do something about.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — If you forget any notion of popularity, reputation or recognition, you will get closer to the truth of a core issue. If we’re talking about something that relates to your work, remember that success may be measured more effectively in achievement and financial reward than what you think people might think. In any event, I suggest you establish your goals, and question why you would want anyone to approve of you. You may have a good reason, though I suggest you figure out what that reason might be. Under the planetary alignment of this particular moment, you will accomplish a lot more if you have the guts to go against popular opinion when necessary. You only need to be a little diplomatic, and understate what you know. Your position is actually the mature voice in a noisy room.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — A new source of information has opened up for you, though you may not trust it yet. You’re too accustomed to doing rather than receiving; striving rather than allowing the flow of your life to guide you to the right place. This new factor, represented by Neptune in Pisces, is subtle, and one of its main properties is that you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. Chiron in Pisces may be offering you the feeling that you need to get yourself down to some ancient Mayan ruins to understand the state of the world, or of your life. Neptune in Pisces is about opening up to the subtle flow, and listening to the softly spoken voice within. There is an element of faith involved, and when you sort it all out, that faith is in yourself.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — When you put the pieces together, you’ll see that you’re standing on equal terms with the world in a way that’s unusual even for you. It’s true, there seems to be some significant missing factor. This points back to the ways your mother wasn’t there for you in the way that you wanted — though the result was to push you up and ahead in the world. Or rather, you had gathered strength and independence to assert yourself against some pretty significant odds. One thing I suggest is that if you want to find that missing element, look where you think it is, rather than where it’s more convenient to search for it. It’s more likely to be an emotional factor than what you might think of as a spiritual one. You’re more likely to notice it in your dream life than in your waking life. What you’re encountering here is the sensation of powerlessness or inferiority that silently irritates so many people, and it’s probably better to start that from an indirect perspective.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You are in the perfect position to get a business arrangement to work out right. You know the right people, and you have the right idea. Just make sure you don’t cut yourself out of the deal. Including yourself does not qualify as Republican-styled self-interest; it’s more about Virgo-styled equanimity. While we’re on the topic, I suggest you think in the long run rather than the immediate future. There is innovation in the air and enormous benefit can be created for everyone involved. You’re the one who is going to hold the space of ‘the greatest good for all concerned’, something that not everyone understands at the moment. While this is far from being a globally accepted idea here in our competitive world, in your life it’s an idea whose time has come.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — The nice thing is, you’re not in the crosshairs. Someone you know may feel like they are — which is more of a feeling than a certain truth. The feeling involves the experience of being unusually influential, and potentially an inner controversy over what creates that influence. You are doing a good job of shifting out of a fear-oriented posture in life, and your example will help guide them to a more relaxed place. You have the ability to see through the chaos and insanity of the world, which is another way of saying you can see all of the chaos for what it is. You’re able to keep your emotional distance without being detached; you can create enough intellectual distance to see from a realistic perspective. Hold that pose.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Be cool. That means use your mind, and keep your emotions under a close and watchful eye. You’re right on the brink between passion and rage; between creativity and chaos. It’s not luck that will keep you on the safe and productive sides of those lines — it’s awareness. Truth is, you need all the drive you have in order to penetrate the density of the world. Yet the key is focusing your energy, and that means using it consciously, deliberately, carefully. I did not say hesitantly. I didn’t say fearfully. Just imagine you’re handling a laser (or, borrowing from a typo, a lawyer — which is to say, do what a good lawyer does and spot issues with precision, selecting only the most compelling ones that have leverage and penetrating power).

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Someone is about to tell you something, give you a hint, or offer you an idea. In fact, this may keep happening over and over the next few days, and you may not know what to make of it. I’ll tell you — listen and take notes. Ideas are merely that; to be of any use, they need to be explored, developed and tested out. That is most of what we think of as the ‘creative process’ — it’s more like scientific development than it is like being in the heat of passion. There are typically more questions than answers. And the journey is such that the destination is a place you arrive at rather than a place you head toward as an intentional act. So when I say this is a rich creative moment for you, I mean that it’s a takeoff point for many experiments that will bear beautiful fruit and exciting experiences.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — The emotional complexity of the moment is obvious from your solar chart, though I wonder how you’re experiencing it. I suggest you let any pressure you might feel vent off gently rather than allowing it to build up. You can guide yourself to a point where you convert that pressure, frustration or overwhelm into a key decision. If you’re feeling the astrology as excitement, passion or a yearning for freedom, that’s a reminder to maintain your focus, and to allow those energies to be contained enough to guide you to clarity. In a ‘positive’ frame of mind you might have a bit more of a challenge maintaining focus; slow down, ground yourself and remember what you want. You don’t want everything and you don’t want just anything — you have an agenda. Therefore, remember yes and no.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — See if you can draw yourself away from the mental activity of the moment and look at the total picture of your life from a different perspective. There are some fun methods you can use to do this — spreading tarot cards is a good example. You can cast a spread and ‘do a reading’ or you can put the cards down and notice that your perspective shifts from the level of the game to looking from above the game. You can go to the top of the highest building or mountain (or hill, if that’s what you’ve got) in your community and look down at the world, and imagine looking down at your life. You can make a map of all the people you’re currently involved with and draw their relationships. Look where you fit into the picture; get clear about the idea that you’re part of the picture. This will help you simplify matters significantly.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Keep taking tangible steps to improve your finances, and at the same time, remember your resources come in many forms other than money. Now would be a fantastic time to take an accounting. You will benefit from knowing how much you’ve got, and how valuable it is. In doing so you will stoke the sensation of abundance, and that will, in turn, lead to more abundance. As for opportunities of what to do with that wealth, or who to do business with, give that time to develop. Learn to be with the potential of who you are, without having to discharge it in any particular direction. This is the time to fully own and appreciate your resources. In a sense, I suggest you identify with them, in that you observe the extent to which what seems to be yours is actually a reflection of you.

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