Retrogrades and Eclipses: Walk Carefully on that Ice

Dear Subscriber:

Weeks ago I described our current phase of astrology as the winter whirl. Two inner planets are retrograde (Mercury and Mars) and we’re building toward a solar eclipse — the perfect recipe for confusion and originality. Dare I say paranoia, but do we really believe it? Is it really credible? Why do we take fear so much more seriously than, say, creativity? Eclipses apply mental pressure, which can spill over to other levels. If you’re feeling good, that will spill over and if you’re in conflict that can magnify or get hooked — let it go if you can.

Eclipses combined with retrograde planets, especially Mercury, the result can be the feeling of ever-deepening chaos. Yet deep in there is a LOT of creative mojo.

If you’re experiencing frustration, the best plan of action is to set clear goals and return to your tasks day after day grateful that you’ve made at least a little progress. There are bound to be setbacks and these, too, need to be handled gently, but any setback can contain the gift of an invention. Think that way and it’s more likely to be true.

Mercury retrograde takes us out of automatic mode. Humans tend to think like old-fashioned robots: in rote habits, which is another way of saying many people don’t think at all. Mercury stopping and backing up three times a year scrambles those patterns. There’s the added benefit of a built-in pause, and with a necessity to take care of old business.

Notice how much emphasis has been placed on corporations and government since Pluto entered Capricorn. That alone is a source of change and confusion, as is the ongoing opposition between Saturn and Uranus. Mercury retrograde in Capricorn is like looking down and pausing to pick up the pieces of what has been scattered as a result of these potentially disruptive events. Mercury is calling for an alert, even creative, approach that acknowledges the past without getting caught there.

Mars retrograde has a different flavor. We live in an aggressive culture. We wage war, we love competitive sports and we are trained to experience our creative journey as a rat race called a career. Mars retrograde is saying: slow down. Consider the factors that you normally might miss, like whether something is really worth doing; like whether you really want what you think you want.

Mars in Leo is famous for its ego-trip quality. It’s a lot of fire in one place, and when you turn that fire retrograde, the message is tune in and go in. Question your motives. Take off some of the pressure and listen to yourself. As you move through the next few days, Mercury stations direct on Friday, Jan. 15, the same day as a solar eclipse, which is a turning point. I’ll have more news on Tuesday.

Meantime, walk and drive carefully on that ice.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis


By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Now that I’m back in the Pea Patch, welcomed by snow drifts and glacial temps, my days of basking in the sun, reading the books that seemed to magically arrive in my hands, are over for a while. I finished the last book, borrowed from a friend, the final afternoon of my visit, and looked out over the quiet, tree-lined neighborhood to note the changes a month had made. Here in the Patch, autumn seemed to come in an eye-blink and faded away as quickly: perhaps ten days of color blooming on the trees, then a brisk wind and it was all crunching under my feet. In California, the deciduous trees took their time, and it was luscious to watch them slowly turn and drop their leaves until they stood as naked heralds of winter.

The Agony and the Ecstasy. Scene from a movie.

My last read was Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It was better written, perhaps even more interesting than his later offering, The Da Vinci Code, but like James Redfield’s Celestine Prophecy, the message was in the concept, and consequently Code became more valuable as a marker in collective consciousness than as a literary offering. Angels and Demons is a rousing conspiracy tale about religion versus secularism, the religion being Catholic and Papal and the secular being science and technology. Personally, I’ve never had a problem merging the two into a symbiotic whole, just as I’ve never seen politics as more than leavening in the social order; not so, of course, for those who can’t seem to define themselves except through railing against something and in so doing, solidifying it to the density of concrete. Brown’s earlier book made a potent argument that humankind, and especially the religious, cannot seem to comprehend that there is no fear in love. None.

The opposite of love is not hate — it’s fear. A Course in Miracles tells us that there are only these two core emotions, and while they appear to be in mortal combat, love must eventually win. Given that, it’s no surprise that our planet seems steeped in the darkest of energies and there appears to be no end to its strength and power. We are in purge mode, not only by weather pattern and climate change, but within the very fabric of our thought system. What is darkest is coming forward with a vengeance but, as I’ve mentioned before, it is no longer so dense, impossible and terrifying a stone that cannot be rolled away. Now the darkness is shot full of Light, but perhaps only those who can put aside fear to open themselves to love can see how fragile the darkness has become. The rest of us are as busy as ants at a picnic trying to patch the holes with concrete.

It’s been decades since I’ve given evil its 3D due. I substitute ‘error’ for evil in the Lord’s Prayer and welcome the disapproving looks of those around me. Long ago I discovered that evil spelled backwards was live — as God spelled backwards is dog. Both made a good deal of sense to me. Evil is the natural and mundane consequence of humanity’s lowest common denominator and ego drive, and we can begin to understand God/dess in the unconditional love that canines show as a matter of collective consciousness. Simplicity is always best, in my opinion, although there’s a difference between the profundity of simplicity and the kind of moribund simplicity we use to get through life, killing us softly thought after thought until we’re grateful to leave the planet.

The more dumbed down we’ve become, the dumber everything around us looks. That’s not true of simplicity and it’s also not by accident. Fear has been used as a bludgeon to bring us to this moment for all of the Piscean Era. We’ve been led to personify both God and Satan as extremes in consciousness, using our least imaginative template of understanding and putting both outside of ourselves as mental/emotional action figures. They give us someone to beg for boon, and to blame when our own failures in manifestation assault us. This kind of immature thinking has made us spiritual children, powerless and pleading — and evil licks its lips at the plunder available.

Is evil real? Sure, I see it every day. Is God/dess real? Ditto. Redefine them as fear and love. Nothing more, nothing less. If we have a blanket of evil thrown over this lovely world, it’s because we’ve not risen above the dense, egocentric thought forms that produce it. The eight years of Bushism made that blanket suffocating and we seemed unable to throw it off. Now we’re doing the difficult work of pushing it back and letting in fresh air. For me, it’s the simplicity of this issue that is most frustrating.

I’ve struggled with political reporting in these last months. It’s obvious to me where we’re going, where we MUST go and how contentious the path ahead. Getting there is working my every nerve, because quite frankly I gave up Drama Queen consciousness long ago and evil is just damned boring. Think about it. Now it takes a 2012 scenario with the whole of the planet crumbling to give us a cheap thrill, as if the daily events of our lives aren’t dramatic enough to rouse us. Terrible isn’t terrible enough, it has to look like complete annihilation to get our attention. I don’t circle this bait with any interest. Whatever political quivering was left in me burned to cinders in the early years of this century. You can’t maintain adrenal exhaustion and continue to breathe. That’s why the War on Terror was an immense failure, by the way. When fear stops working as a goad, ego’s played its Ace and been trumped by a Royal Flush.

One of my favorite columnists is Mark Morford, who contributes to the San Francisco Chronicle. Some think him an out-of-control wordsmith, but he tickles my fancy and almost always reads my mind. He wrote an interview with the devil the other day. Here’s a clever passage that shares some of my thoughts on this period of energy shift:

I appreciate your time. Now, many say the world is in a horrible state of turmoil…

Isn’t that great, by the way? That’s just f–king great. Dear God, I rule.

I’m sorry?

It’s not, actually, just FYI. Here’s a little secret I don’t talk about much, but you’ll forget it the instant I leave anyway: The world is actually teeming with beauty and life and rejuvenation, hope and awe and epiphany, every moment of every day. There is pure bliss, entire universes of knowing, pure God consciousness available in the smallest instant, the complete breath, the gentlest human touch. But you didn’t hear it from me! (Laughs, concrete curdles).

Well, there have been some pretty difficult, even horrifying events in the past few years…

Let me just clear up one misconception right here. People thought I was swamped during the Bush years, running that whole glorious, bloody spectacle. And it’s true, I was busy. But it was also wonderfully easy.

What do you mean?

Honey, I had armies of devoted minions in power back then. I basically sat back like a fat, narcotized Hamptons housewife while my staff brought me cupcakes made of war and fear and homophobia, Christian evangelicals and Muslim hysteria and economic failure. Glorious, glorious time.

But now? Now it’s … different. Bloom is off the black rose, you might say. I’m still busy, still plenty of ugly out there, but I’m not in control anymore. Now I’m just herding cats. Very, very dumb cats.

I can safely say that politics is about as insufferably tedious a topic these days as I’ve ever experienced. What is good and pure and Light is peeking out of the cloud of darkness on the Hill, shining through the Swiss cheese of obstruction and greed and personal ambition that produces the mushroom cloud of density we suffer. At this point, tracking the glimmers shining through is all that keeps me intrigued, because, as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, the scripted reality shows that are so popular these days work my nerves. Think of politics as more of the same.

Yes, the mundane, dark-spirited and superstition-laced evil mankind does is just damnably boring these days, no longer a Machiavellian machine grinding us into compliant dust, but now a kind of noticeable and desperate knee-jerk response from those who refuse to let go of the old game. A good many of us are playing a new one and have little patience left for the old. While I have a grudging tad of respect for the leaders that work these dark arts, I can’t say the same for their followers. Compassion kicks in when I get too annoyed, ballast to the ego-concerns that point me to my own fears of their never getting the point. Too often though, I’m left wanting to shake them awake none too gently, blow a dog whistle in their ear to get their attention and point out that they’ve become the weighty baggage of an old understanding and the barrier to a new one. It won’t work, of course, until it does, and the energies flooding the planet are more potent alarm clocks than any argument you or I could make. That means we have to find a way to keep faith with the future while allowing the dense energy signature of the past to dissipate around us.

Another witty writer I appreciate is actor Steven Weber of Wings fame, who blogs for Huffington Post. He recently wrote a snippet on his disenchantment with politics, hence blogging itself. Speaking of our current holding pattern of loggerheaded dissension, he wrote of his hopes for Obama:

But the game, it seems, is bigger than him, bigger than all of The People.

Because it uses The People. It uses them as fuel and as fodder; it bleeds the hope from them and substitutes it with fear; it is run by tyrants steeped in a tradition of oppression. Only they don’t oppress with the immediate application of armies and gulags and stormtroopers. They oppress gradually, slowly, steadily…with sugar. They suppress with intoxicants. They dazzle the eye with semblances of old pride and faded glory, both too diluted to have any practical effect upon a sated and dispirited population.

They have successfully bamboozled The People into having faith in a system which is incapable of reciprocation.

And so my president, for whom I have the utmost respect, is the most visible of dupes. Hell, given his savvy, he probably even knows he and his country have been rendered incontrovertibly, tragically superfluous.

While I have sympathy for Weber’s frazzled nerves, it’s easy to think the worst. That’s the toe-hold that evil — error — has on our souls. Last night, surrounded by unopened luggage and the disorder a month away from home produced, I clicked on the television for some comforting noise and noted a PBS offering about depression. Studies show that depressive personalities receive good and bad news disproportionately; they focus on the bad. Good news doesn’t impact them with the same intensity, and if given a compliment, they are inclined to dismiss it. While there appears to be some truth in our being at the mercy of our DNA wiring, there is also much learned behavior that influences us. What has been learned can be unlearned. We have choices. If we let others make them for us, or sink into despondency about where we are today without understanding that life is a daily revelation, we can easily lose our way. Always, always, always life is choice. Thoughts are choice. Attitude is choice. Self-control is choice. We should take meds if we need them but realize our own responsibility in choosing our life’s path.

So, as much as I understand Weber’s frustration and gloom, I prefer Morford’s larger picture:

I’ll toss out some names and current events, and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind. All right?

Bring it.

Barack Obama

Ha! Dude pisses me off. Can’t seem to rile him. Thinks he understands things. Actually does. Know what I hate more than anything, and that includes laughter and singing in the shower and multiple orgasms? Wisdom. Calm, assured wisdom in the face of all the whining and screeching I can muster from my minions. Such gall. Makes my soul pimple.

We’ve begun a new year, one that can be exciting if we allow it to be. Think of it as the adventure of a lifetime, because that’s just what it is. We have a lot of concrete to bust through, a lot of density to dissolve. We have, ahead of us, a year of patience to muster, compassion to summon and forward motion to inch toward before the floodgates of consciousness break. Think outside of the box, because the box is decaying before our very eyes. That is our part in this, that is our purpose. And, because we can choose it, we will also have moments of joy and clarity and progress and hopefulness to balance our energy and contribute to the collective. The choice between love and fear awaits us, everywhere we look. Choose well, beloved. Dog is watching, having amused Itself at the error humankind does, now patiently anticipating the bright and blissful arrival of love. And to that, may I add my own resounding, bright-eyed and tail-wagging WOOF!

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, January 8, 2010, #800 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Aries Confidential

There is much you want to say and do, but something tells me you’re experiencing more obstacles than opportunities. The frustrating part about this is that you have plenty of ideas, and there is energy moving; all the signals are telling you to make your mark. In about a week, an eclipse of the Sun will release some of this pressure. Until then, it’s vital that you not push, not seek or make firm commitments, and in particular that you not try to fix anything that isn’t broken. Most of what you’re experiencing involves circumstances rather than systemic issues, though if you study those circumstances you will be able to identify one or two wider problems that you would be wise to work on, though only after the eclipse and the concurrent station direct of Mercury — no matter how tempting it may be to meddle now.

Taurus Confidential

You seem unsure what to believe, or where your beliefs are guiding you. The thing about beliefs is that we assume they’re true because they exist, rather than noticing they exist and questioning whether they are true. There are rewards for embarking on what seems like a brave expedition into your own ideas; your false beliefs do little other than get in the way of your more meaningful and authentic ones and you have yet to discover a thing or two about what is really true for you, as in for you personally. The real discovery will be an understanding of what ideas you carry around that have nothing at all to do with you, and were placed into your mind by others. Why exactly was that? Well, that’s the real pearl for which you’re diving.

Gemini Confidential

Here is the key to forming a consensus. First, identify the common values you share with someone. Make sure you get those common values to a clear understanding. For contrast, create a separate list of values that you don’t agree on. Then, focusing on the values you have in common, agree on what would be the right course of action. For example, if you are in accord with a partner that you want to spend less money, then it’s easier to determine where you will make the savings, based on that fundamental point of agreement. If you haven’t come to this deeper agreement, it’s more likely that you will struggle in the conversation of where to make the savings. Simply put, consensus proceeds from identifying common values to taking logical actions based on those values.

Cancer Confidential

Your relationship life may seem pretty complex at the moment. From the look of your charts, you feel like you have no idea where anyone stands, and you may have the feeling that there are a good few things you have yet to learn about someone close to you. There’s not a conspiracy, though — there are however ideas, decisions and commitments in progress, most of which are too formative to get a clear sense of. You can afford to be patient, because as you suspect much that is unclear or unresolved now will become a lot simpler over the next week or two. If you can keep your expectations to a minimum, you will have more space in your open mind to work with openings, opportunities and benefits that come your way before long.

Leo Confidential

Focus on taking care of ideas and projects that were left behind during the past year. This common wisdom of Mercury retrograde holds true more than ever now; there seems to be plenty left behind from the whirlwind and tumult of 2009 that could use your attention today. And there were some very good propositions that got left behind as other forms of progress took over. I suggest you work through any backlog of projects and clear both your desk and your mind. Even if you don’t think that there’s anything you have to do, if you dig around you will find at least one potential issue you’re very glad you didn’t miss. This is the week — you’re actually not under that much pressure. Things will be much more hectic next week.

Virgo Confidential

If you have kids, even grown kids, this is obviously a more complicated time than you were counting on. The lesson is that growing up is not a straightforward process, and neither is helping people grow up. What’s interesting is that there are clear parallels between your life and the lives of the young people you know or coexist with today. One of the best gifts we can offer our kids is being aware of what our own childhood was about; and doing our part not to repeat the parts that were not so pleasant. You’re at one of those points where the layers of time are transparent; usually they are entirely opaque, and we live as if trapped in a tunnel, isolated from the wisdom of what we’ve learned or experienced in the past.

Libra Confidential

The more you untangle your feelings, the more feelings you have to untangle. I would caution that there are certain emotional conditions that you cannot resolve through mental maneuvers. Others will lend themselves well to a concrete understanding, though you may not be able to tell which in advance. I suggest you go gently, and remember: you are not your feelings. If you’re having feelings that are bigger than you, you’re in the middle of a distortion. If that is the case the first thing to do is remember that your feelings are part of you — not the other way around. You are bigger than whatever you may be going through; you are bigger than your family situation; and for that matter, you’re bigger than any goal or creative idea that you have.

Scorpio Confidential

You seem to be caught in that balance between work and profession. Your aspirations and intentions are one thing; what you have to do every day is another. Sometimes they seem to have no relationship; all the work in the world doesn’t get you where you need to be. At the moment, you seem to be sacrificing certain higher goals for the sake of immediate short-term needs, though without seeing the connection. At the moment they are woven together; there seems to be a puzzle and something of a psychological situation that you are being called on to confront, and this seems to be little glory or promise of success. But it contains an idea: the seed of a breakthrough. Start with making a science of routine.

Sagittarius Confidential

Plenty is weighing on your spirit these days, and no matter how much you do right now they don’t seem to come out right. I suggest you not try so hard; ease off on the effort. Introduce a new word to your language: efforting. That’s when you’re working harder than feels right, or feels healthy, to get something done. I think you need a bath; you need water, and you need to shift your environment in a way that’s soothing to your emotions. This may be a short-term palliative, though we are in one of those live day-to-day moments. If you can do that for a couple of weeks, you will find that you’ve eased yourself into a better place: much better than you’ve been in for a while, and your troubles will seem a lot smaller, if they even exist at all.

Capricorn Confidential

You may be one of the few people you know for whom things are going well — the big ones, anyway. One of your strengths is that you know how to sort out the small stuff, and keep your eyes on the real stuff. Remember that if you find yourself getting frustrated or confused. And by the way if you feel like you’re not accomplishing anything, or have no real opportunities to do so, look more carefully. Remember that your goals don’t merely consist of a list of hoped-for achievements; they involve putting principles to work in everything that you do. I have emphasized the point of leadership many times in recent months: and ethical leadership is the kind we need the most right now, particularly if you are even vaguely influential in a business environment.

Aquarius Confidential

You seem to urgently need the truth about you to be known. It looks like you’re on the brink of a catharsis. It’s grown painful holding so much in; and worse than that, unnecessary. You may fear the consequences of what would happen were the truth about you known. But think of it this way: There was a time when you were more inclined to deny your personal reality even to yourself. Now you’re far more honest within the confines of your own mind. Do you feel better? Does your existence feel easier and safer? I would imagine so, and there will be a similar effect when you open up to others. One gesture of truth deserves another. What you are taking now is a formative step on the way to yet another commitment to integrity.

Pisces Confidential

Do you have the right to benefit from your own existence? Well, if you don’t, then who does? Nature exists on the basis of symbiosis. A beehive produces plenty of honey for both the bees to live on and for the beekeeper to sell. You’re at the end of a long phase of your life when the keynote has been sacrifice, or rather, the belief in sacrifice. I am not suggesting that we don’t have to give up what is not serving us, or that in the process of repairing the world, we’re not going to have to make some exchanges. What I’m suggesting is that you seem to have adopted an unnecessary kind of sacrifice as a prerequisite to success; and this is simply not necessary. You produce more than you consume. You create more than enough benefit to go around. Keep reminding yourself of these things.

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