Whatever That Thing Is

Dear Friend and Reader:

I recently mentioned a conjunction developing in mid-Sagittarius, aligned with a body called the Great Attractor. The alignment was precise to the arc minute this week, which I trust opened a door to its meaning. I associate it with a kind of toxic spirituality that is on the loose lately. The conjunction involves centaur planets, which can manifest as the desire for healing, or if they’re taken unconsciously, as some inflamed, weird behavior. The alignment also involves a little Pluto-like planet called Ixion, which I associate with the curious lack of moral or ethical consciousness in public discourse, and also in individuals.

Photo by Amanda Painter.

We’re seeing this blatantly in modern politics; the campaign of 2012 has begun, and it’s all about who you can screw over the worst. I know you may not watch the news, and if that is true, I can tell you that the political environment would qualify as unconscious, inflamed and weird lately. I am as disgusted by politics as anyone right now. But as I was watching one of these “jobs creation” discussions today, peering through the language and the deception, it occurred to me that politicians get away with what they do because most people don’t understand politics — that is, how the game is played, and who influences it from backstage.

Most people don’t even know that it’s a show. It takes time to get there (you have to participate directly or watch from the first few rows to notice that). It requires some experience to see the Democrat/Republican game for what it really is, and what it has become. Though the parties have different outward positions, they’re about as meaningful as dividing the summer camp into the Blue and Gold teams for the mock Olympics.

The summer camp is capitalism itself. Wall Street sets the most basic terms of our society, which you can tell (in part) because there is a stock ticker on every TV station’s news ticker rather than, say, the voting record of our representatives. Political campaigns are now all about the money invested by people who purchase influence, and the supposed issues are a total ruse. The flow of cash, lots of cash, determines nearly every decision. The ongoing debate over eliminating Social Security — I cannot believe I’m even typing those words — is about who gets their hands on that huge fund. The ‘social policy’ angle, I believe, is a kind of game.

In order to convince us that we need to take away benefits that people have paid for their whole lives, and that every employer pours money into every week, we have to be convinced that it’s a bad thing, and to do that, we need to chill down the emotional temperature of society. We all have to be turned a little colder and desensitized to one another’s needs. Usually this is done indirectly.

Photo by Eric Francis.

You may have seen video of the discussion during the Republican candidates debate when eternal presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Ron Paul was asked what society should do if someone who was healthy and didn’t think he needed health insurance (and didn’t want to pay the $300 a month) ended up in a coma. Should society keep him alive? The audience cheered at the possibility that he should be allowed to die.

This was not at some homespun yahoo political rally — it was at a Politico/CNN event, and the questioner was Wolf Blitzer. At the prior debate, something even weirder happened. Brian Williams, the anchor and managing editor of NBC News, asked candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry: “Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

The weird thing was, at the mention of the executions, the audience sent up a cheer, Williams paused, and then he finished his sentence. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, but the little kid in me feels nauseous that people would cheer about executions. Of course, we’ve all seen the ‘pro death’ rallies in dark prison parking lots as someone receives the lethal injection.

Perry replied, “No sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, very clear process in place of which when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that’s required. But in the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed.”

Photo by Eric Francis.

A thoughtful, clear process? That would be the same one, mandated by the Supreme Court’s Furman decision, that resulted in at least 13 false convictions in Illinois, which as a result stopped its death penalty in 2003. I cannot imagine not struggling with something like the potential execution of an innocent person at all. And if he’s appeasing himself that there is Supreme Court review of each case, he’s kidding himself. That review is strictly at the court’s option. It is he who has the power of executive clemency.

He cannot, or will not, admit that he’s struggled even a little bit. By its advocates, the death penalty is always presumed right, no matter who is declared innocent after they were killed (at least 24 executed people were later declared innocent in the United States prior to the temporary suspension of the death penalty in 1967). For the population, the death penalty is about blood lust. For politicians, it’s about demonstrating who is boss, and I believe that it’s a form of modern-day human sacrifice. Note that if economic conditions persist and the unemployment rate stays where it is or gets worse, Rick Perry is the person we’re most likely to have as our next president.

This does not worry me as much as the spiritually vapid social environment we’re living in, evidenced by all those people who raise a cheer about lethal injection or letting a patient die. It does not worry me as much as the people who consider themselves spiritual who think they are going to meditate away the bad people — that’s as ridiculous as Perry’s plan to pray for the federal budget deficit to go away, and I think we need to recognize that fact. I don’t think the solution to the problems we face will be a political one. But I think that along the way we will have to understand politics.

That is not the final destination. The final destination is understanding ourselves. And we might start with understanding the disconnect that is allowing all of this to happen, and the way it’s being exploited by a kind of opportunistic infection. Choosing not to participate in politics does not make one immune. This is particularly true given that we’re experiencing an artificially created economic crisis concurrently with the same forces wanting to remove the social safety net that is the only thing between what we have right now and an actual depression. Most working people curse the poor and not the wealthy for their problems, but they have a lot more in common with the people they look down on. And this whole mental complex has developed into a kind of sadistic mania.

Photo by Eric Francis.

We have to ask ourselves how this can be happening. I think we need to cultivate an understanding of what is happening within humanity, and I mean that on an individual level, then multiplied out by however many people there are. What we think of as ‘the media’ is prohibited from discussing this issue as a matter of personal ethics, and it’s not a small matter. Politics is currently all pumped full of religious rhetoric, which is a ruse for something that’s essentially a spiritual problem.

Let’s revisit the conjunction happening in Sagittarius for a picture of how that looks. Sagittarius is the sign associated with the spiritual quest, or quests of any kind for that matter. I like Alice Bailey’s description the best: the arrow represents the one-pointed direction of the soul determined to be conscious, free, and most important, determined to travel on its path of initiation or discipleship. Sagittarius is on one level about the centaur (who shows up there in some representations of the sign, because it’s in the constellation Centaurus), and this describes the spiritual question of, ‘Am I a man, or am I an animal?’ The whole war against sex that politics is currently so drunk on plays off of that very conflict, and it’s a septic conflict at the moment: it’s infected. But if we take Sagittarius on what you might think of as a more evolved level, it’s about the quest of making contact with one’s soul. And here, our society and many people in it have a little problem.

The way most people are trying to handle the infection factor, and many other attributes of the issue, is with painkillers. This is represented by Pholus, which is about intoxicants; those include everything from alcohol to video games. One of the mental states of Pholus is being so drugged that you’re out of control.

Hylonome is the next factor — a female centaur about grief and how we deal with it, extending from the most personal response to mass eruptions in society. It’s about ‘the cry of the poor’ (a cry growing louder by the day) and how we respond to it. Hylonome can have a suicidal or ‘senseless’ quality. We must suppress an enormous amount of grief just to get through the day. We do so every time we turn away from pain and suffering, every time we walk past someone we could afford to help, every time we train ourselves to be insensitive. We might dress this up as ‘having boundaries’, or we could say that to be alive right now, many think it’s necessary to live behind walls.

Photo by Eric Francis.

You can think of people who cheer about a patient dying, or inmates dying, as a wall. What is behind that wall? The answer is a world of pain. This would be better served in a therapy room, and is safe enough in one’s living room, but when it becomes expressed as public policy, we all have to be concerned.

I have also mentioned Ixion, the small planet hanging out in this neighborhood, the one that’s about lack of morals and ethics; in a word, depravity, disguised as religion (nothing new, I know). Ixion is less precisely aligned in this mix (it’s about two degrees from Pholus and Hylonome) — but it’s been working over the Great Attractor for several recent years, evangelizing the weak with the idea that there is no difference between right and wrong.

As for the Great Attractor itself. What we know is that it’s a supermassive, pumped-up radioactive deep-space point that even astronomers have a hard time understanding. It’s not what you would call human. Nobody has ever seen it. Its existence is inferred by many clues, such as all the galaxies rushing in its direction — more than a million of them. But it’s rushing away at the same time. If Sagittarius has anything to do with our soul’s quest, this is an extremely tense situation — and to some degree we are all in it.

We might start to work out our situation with a basic understanding of cause and effect. Every effect has a cause, every cause has an effect, and the two cannot be separated, no matter how fast we run, or how blotto we try to make our awareness. In a word, this is the law of karma.

Much of what we seem to struggle with is free will. If we have free will, then we need karma as a governing agency. We currently live as if cause and effect have no relationship. We don’t need to prove the point one way or the other — we just need to look at what is so.

Eric Francis

Photo by Eric. This is from slide film — now I remember what it looks like.

Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, #875 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Revised and Updated! Click for Eric’s Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Aries (March 20-April 19) — The past six weeks have been a challenging time in your home life, and you seem determined to resolve certain family or personal issues once and for all. However, I strongly suggest you check carefully and make sure that you’re solving the right problems. Your solar chart suggests that the main thing you’re struggling with is confidence. This started in early August disguised as an emotional issue, leading to all kinds of conflict and mischief. However, recent developments indicate that the actual matter involves the deepest level of faith. You may not be able to see this; matters of faith have a way of rendering themselves invisible. We more often see the results. Faith in this instance translates to faith in yourself, though that in turn connects to your sense of connection (or lack thereof) to something larger than you. The next few days may feel edgy, as if you’ve reached the limit of how far you can work with these themes; stay close to the edge and you will learn a lot.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You may be confronted with so much opportunity you don’t even recognize it as such — you may just feel overwhelmed. I suggest you do what you can to shift from an emotional orientation to a mental one. Think of your various life situations in a logical way, using words rather than impressions. You’ll not only feel better if you do; you will also be able to make some clear decisions that can free up your time and energy for what matters the most. Clearly you have a lot happening on the work front, and this is where I suggest you focus your energy — though this is going to require that same mental clarity I just described. Your emphasis on projects and responsibilities is not happening in a compartment. In truth it connects to every other aspect of your life; what you call ‘work’ is a doorway to many points of contact with yourself. Think of it as an organizing principle or point of integration rather than someplace you go every day — or would go, if you had the chance.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Life is not a game of how little consciousness you can get away with, but rather how much you can stand. You seem to keep drifting into a kind of slumber, then waking back up in the nick of time. This is partly because you’re using your mind for what you need to be doing with your senses. Let your mind process the information coming in through your senses, and you’ve got the formula for staying awake and alert: that’s a fancy way of saying paying attention. That is likely to lead you directly to creative mode. For you at the moment, the opposite of dullness is not alertness but passion, and you will know it’s passion because it comes with a blast of impulsive curiosity and the desire to dare. There is still part of your psyche that wants to lull you back to sleep, but once you catch the energy wave that’s building inside you, you will love where it’s taking you.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Someone you meet this weekend will give the impression that they’re important — and may be very important in your life. I suggest you not trust this on its face, but rather treat the person respectfully as your equal and see what develops. You’re at the end of a challenging cycle of experience, and are apt to be looking for a sense of authority. Tune into that within yourself. You know enough; you’ve been through enough. At this point authority translates to knowing what you want, and nobody else can tell you that. Others can keep you busy as you make your decisions about your own desires, and they may be able to point you in the general direction of yourself. That, however, is the limit that I suggest you allow others to have on you, no matter how enchanting, charming or all-knowing they may seem. Resist the temptation to think so — but make sure you listen carefully for grains of truth and wisdom. They are equally likely to come from you as from anyone else.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Have you ever had the experience of a splinter or shard of metal embedding in your skin, then healing over? Gradually it works its way toward the surface, and then finally one day pierces through. It’s an amazing feeling, and it reminds you that the body’s healing process works gradually but dependably. You’re experiencing something like this on the psychic level. It’s as if a fear got embedded in your mind, and disappeared beneath the surface. It’s presence down there was not exactly benign — it caused its share of chaos until it finally settled into place. Now it’s working its way upward, and it’s about to break the surface and set itself free. You may be experiencing this as the expectation of getting injured in some way, and in a sense that is true — there will be a little tear as it emerges fully into your awareness. But you’ll be a lot happier that it’s ended up where you can see and feel it, and where it cannot do any more damage.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — The Sun is now making its way through the last degrees of your sign. It’s been a long month, but you’re about to be the recipient of one last surge of summer energy, motivation and drive. You will, that is, if you don’t allow a partnership situation to sap your energy. I suggest you keep your focus on yourself, as challenging as that may be. The main distraction is likely to be emotional turbulence, and you may want to go deeper into the relationship in order to ‘work that out’ or ‘resolve it’. This is more like a temptation than a reality; the more you extract yourself from the situation and get some perspective, the easier it will be to see it for what it is. I recognize that you may have the sensation of descending into an uncomfortable kind of self-judgment, but your release from that feeling arrives shortly after you’re directly honest with yourself about it.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You have come to a point where you must discard your antiquated ideas about relationships. The people around you may not be on the path that is right for you, but they’ve certainly been providing enough provocation to wake you up. Finding your way is likely to fit a ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ model of thought, and this may come on like a storm. It’s essential that you recognize that your environment has become too confining for you. Yet everything in your surroundings serves a purpose — and you’ll have to redefine those purposes or how you engage with them, if you’re going to make any progress. Said another way, you have to get your needs met. But many of those needs are no longer valid or useful, and the best thing you can do for yourself is take this opportunity to figure out what is what. Allow yourself a moment of everything being transient. Imagine your life with no attachments, and consider what you would do.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Taking authority has been a huge theme in your life this year. It’s been more like a dance with leadership, with power, and with ego drama. As Mars crosses the midheaven angle of your chart, you’re about to begin a whole new round of the game. Don’t let the temporary sensation that you’re standing on quicksand trick you into doubting your confidence. In a short while you will be fully engaged in a scenario that calls for your competence, leadership and restraint. How you handle yourself will either stir people to rebellion or command their loyalty. What makes the difference is how much confidence you inspire in them — and this really is up to you. Part of that ability to inspire will come from being undeterred from your goals, which I suggest you know well enough to recite in your sleep. Part will come from your ability to relate to people in a way that transcends the game level of reality. Connect with the idea that you’re in service to something larger, then carefully demonstrate this to others so they can do the same thing.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You are running on your instincts, to say the very least. I don’t just mean guiding yourself by them but rather caught in a torrent of inner guidance that may be taking over your mind. This goes deeper than intuition. I’m talking about something that feels more like surfing: being driven by the actual power of your thoughts and emotions. Intuition would be how you guide yourself within that stream. You may continually reach the point where your mind (or someone close to you) tries to intervene, and tells you you’re doing the wrong thing or don’t have the facts. Rather than getting into a pissing match, I suggest you enter into a dialog and do some fact checking. You then have a clear basis to accept or toss any idea that goes contrary to your inner flow. You’ve experienced plenty of examples where your logic was wrong, and I’m sure you wish you had tested it rather than merely taking its word for things.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Be careful in your financial dealings with others the next few days — there may be a predator in your midst, and if so, their behavior will not be obvious at first. You will need to be extremely sensitive to your boundaries and your sense of when your principles are being violated. That is the time to take notice. This in turn will help you notice what your principles are. If you maintain a continuous analysis of what is right and what is wrong for you, your sense of potential will open up. This is not the time to bend your ethics in the direction of what is most convenient, though I recognize that this is a prevailing theme of the times in which we live. Rather, subject everything you encounter to actual scrutiny, including your own thoughts. There is a line between this and not trusting anything at all; you’ll be able to see it if you look and feel. On one side of the line, everyone is suspect. On the other, everything appears in a shade of gray.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — I’m sure you would be grateful to know just what is bothering you. It seems to come into your awareness then sink beneath the surface. You may have the idea that it’s something specific, however I think that you’re responding to your environment. You’re more sensitive to your surroundings than you think, and the past five or six weeks have come with a diversity of twists and turns that have taken their toll on you. You may be tired of what some call passive aggression; you wish people would give you straight talk and reveal their motives. But deeper down, there is a question brewing about your philosophy of relationships. You know you need commitment and stability, and you know you need your freedom. This seeming contradiction is perhaps more evident in the lives of Aquarians than any other sign. At the moment, I would remind you that it has an abstract quality, based on the past. Treat your relationships individually, and size up how each one plays off of this theme.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Your faith in relationships may be at low tide, though I suggest you invest that faith in individual people rather than an abstraction or idea. Most people don’t know the difference. There is a difference — one is a thought in your mind, and the other is a person with whom you can have a real exchange. Such a person may well be in your environment right now. Their presence may be a little stronger or assertive than your usual tastes would prefer, though there is a real point of contact between you. I suggest you allow yourself to be provoked. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. The beauty of this encounter is that someone’s strength can make contact with an aspect of your psyche that you rarely allow anyone to see. Allowing that vulnerability is about you — not the other person. You’re the one making the choice, you know it, and that’s the ultimate turn-on.

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