Sagittarians I Know and Love

Sagittarians I Know and Love

IN MY NEVER ENDING quest to do things slightly differently, I am going to spare you my usual boring, textbook rendition of Sagittarius this year, and get a little more personal, speaking mostly from direct experience.

Now, in case you’re thinking: “Oh my God, what’s he going to say?” — there is absolutely no need to worry; it’s difficult to embarrass a person with strong Sagittarius in their chart. They are bigger than us, and consequently seem totally oblivious to the usual psychological and emotional hangups that the rest of the world has, and do a fine job of importing a few extremely original ones from the Galactic Core or wherever they showed up from, toting little other than a carry-on bag and a pin-sized computer chip that includes their entire library and Frequent Flyer history.

To do this project, I opened up a program on my laptop called Io Detective and searched every chart in my system for Sun in Sagittarius; I got 736 hits; a lot of them are repeats, like five copies of Winston Churchill, who is actually an extremely good example. He may have been opinionated, but one way to spot a Sagg is that people have very strong opinions about them. He definitely had a world view, he did not let the small things get in his way, and he made an impact. Could he have been born under any other sign?

When you work with any astrological placement, there are always a few examples that pop up that make the skeptics of astrology seem like the Flat Earth Society. Scanning the list, the first one that catches my attention is The Grateful Dead.

At some point, I cast the chart for the first Grateful Dead concert, which was Dec. 10, 1964 in San Francisco, estimated time, 7:30 pm (if you were there and know what time was printed on the ticket, please write to me). Not only is the Sun in Sagittarius, it’s on the South Node of the Moon, meaning it’s an old, old story. Placing the Sun on the South node does not make an easy life, but it makes a meaningful one, and there are substantial gifts that are brought in from past incarnations, and a heck of a lot of momentum.

Sun on the South Node makes for some highly qualified astrologers, and the relationship is that it may take more than one lifetime to learn certain skills, such as alchemy. Which is made the Grateful Dead so Sagittarian — their singular ability to work the energy in a space until everyone and everything mysteriously transmuted, transformed and transcribed into something better, weirder, and different.

But said in terms that a music teacher would understand, the word is eclectic. Sagittarius brings together the best qualities of many cultures, time periods, ideologies and visions, and has a way of, well, alchemically blending them into something new. The Dead were supposedly a country and blues influenced rock band from the Haight-Ashbury, and they could indeed play rock. But in the course of a 90 minute set, you could be taken on a journey from cowboy tunes to spiraling Celtic ballads to acid jams that stirred the deepest synapses in your brainstem to traditional American songs reworked magnificently to long poetic morality tales, and you would then be deposited back on your feet with a rock and roll jam that could make a stadium of 60,000 people feel like the high school prom.

The other thing that was so Sagittarian about the band is that they did not stop traveling, except for a brief interval in the mid-70s when they took a little cocaine ¬†break; besides that, it was 30 years on the road, crisscrossing the country, three or four tours a year. You will always see the words “long distance travel” associated with Sagg and the associated 9th house, and if you’re ever sitting in a travel agent’s office, and it’s around this time of year, you can safely wish the person a happy birthday. Even if it’s not, they’ll probably get the joke because the chances are they study astrology.

Okay, here’s a story of someone I know personally. In 1992, I was editor of a statewide student news service in New York. One day, there was a series of toxic explosions on our local campus, SUNY New Paltz, which spread dioxins and PCBs and made a real mess that eventually cost nearly $100 million and took eight years to clean up badly. At the beginning of this, my friends and I were completely blindsided and had no idea what to do. Guys were walking around in moonsuits and we knew we were tracking dioxin back into the house from the campus — as was everyone.

One day in the midst of this insanity, a guy called Dave DeLucia saw our names mentioned in an AP article, and immediately faxed us some documents from his files that would help us get a bearing. He just happened to know a lot about this stuff, he had experience dealing with the State University and Department of Health in New York, and he knew exactly what we were up against — we did not. Then, with this other guy named Spearhead, he took the initiative and drove across the state, from Syracuse to New Paltz, in a rusted out pickup truck held together with bungee cords during a freezing winter, arriving with a case of beer and a pile of very relevant documents. Over the course of several days, he explained what to do, how to handle ourselves, and how the state’s games would play out. He knew what he was talking about, and his mysterious arrival was a godsend.

Looking at his chart, I am not surprised to see that he has a Sagittarius Sun and Aquarius Moon. Why am I not surprised? Well, the Sun and Moon blend a lot of characteristics in Dave’s chart — like an activist and humanitarian core, as well as honestly giving a damn. But the Sagittarius part involves the ability to see the big picture, and do something about it; to not be daunted by the idea of going where you need to go; and by a general love of adventure. For his paid work, Dave at the time was an EMT who worked on an advanced life support ambulance. He then went onto be an investigator for the county coroner’s office.

He’s not the only Sagittarian I know who thrives on this kind of intense adventure, and does it well.

While we’re on the subject of dioxin freaks, the next person to save my ass in the midst of the ongoing, expanding environmental disaster in New Paltz also turned out to be a Sagittarius, Carol Van Strum. It took us about a year to get in contact, but she turned out to be involved with the fraud litigation against Monsanto and GE that would become the basis of my reporting for the next three years; indeed, that would, in true Sagg fashion, make my local story into a worldwide one.

Carol had plenty of experience with dioxin polluters, particularly in the Pacific Northwest — a history told in the book A Bitter Fog (easily available from Amazon last I checked). Carol, through her community organizing, meticulous research combined with a long-term vision, and most of all, the respect she commanded, led one of the most effective anti-Chlorine movements to date. In particular, she and those she organized were directly responsible for Dow Chemical Co. pulling its product registration for 2,4,5-T — a vicious chemical that comprised 50% of the defoliant Agent Orange. Essentially, under pressure from a bunch of Oregon tree-people types, Dow removed one of its worst products from the market. (Note: the other 50%, 2,4-D, is still on the market. Don’t buy any lawn product that says +2 or “plus 2” on the package — it is Agent Orange and may contain dioxin.)

Another in the realm of tree people on a mission is Karen Pardini, who for years has successfully done battle against corrupt land conservancies in New York State — organizations including the Mohonk Preserve and and the Shawangunk Conservancy — which steal people’s land under the guise of “environmental preservation.”

In an early professional career, she was one of the leading lay midwives (that is, not a nurse, but a very experienced traditional midwife) in New York State, and delivered enough children to populate a good sized village. Karen has spent a lot of time in West Africa (in particular, in Guinea), and also is a travel agent. Her house resembles an international youth hostel at times. In fact, it used to be a hotel.

More lately, she’s become active in her local rescue squad, supervising a basic life support ambulance and helping organize the whole operation. She is one of the people you would be happy to have first on the scene of any real problem. She went down to New Orleans at the height of the Katrina disaster as part of a DMAT team, a portable emergency room similar to a M*A*S*H unit.

I called her up this morning to get a few more details. Not surprisingly, she had some opinions. “Saggies have to jump up and do things. They need to be adrenalin involved. If you get an hour or so every now and then where a Sagg is challenged to use brain, body and mouth, we’re happy.”

Speaking of those who are adrenalin involved, equate fun with adventure, and cannot stay off of airplanes, we have Jonathan Cainer. What he accomplishes in a day is what most people do in about three weeks, and others in three years. His verbal gifts and esoteric knowledge (both good resources for an astrologer) quickly made him the number one horoscope writer in England, and in the view of many, the world. Note that he is ably assisted by a calm, clearheaded, equally charming and solidly Capricorn business manager named Mark who helps him ground his visions. Sagittarius always needs this kind of common-sense and stabilizing influence around. (Karen, for example, has a Taurus life partner and is ably assisted by a double Capricorn.)

Even in real life, Jonathan has a way of saying these visionary things that just seem to manifest. The people around him look to his vision, trust his leadership and put up with his eccentricities. He weaves community around him wherever he goes, like he’s actually here on a mission to do just that. I spent a few weeks with Jonathan last year and my very favorite scene from that visit was him piled high with small children and surrounded by teenagers, laughing — papa to the max, and completely irresistible as such.

I know two other Sagittarius astrologers you’ve probably heard of. One is Jeffrey Wolf Green. He has written two books, Thus Spake Jeffrey, Vols. 1 and 2, on the subject of Pluto — in his interpretation, the soul, a subject near and dear to Sagittarians, since their sign rules this subject. Providing some explicit proof of the Sagittarius phenomenon, Jeff wrote what is probably the single most influential astrology book of the 20th century (really called Pluto: Evolutionary Journey of the Soul). He broke the Pluto barrier; nobody knew what to make of this planet until he spelled it out, and many have gone on to evolve ideas that basically did not exist in astrology before he got there.

This is typical of the trailblazing quality of Sagittarius, particularly where ideas are concerned.

Another astrologer who basically jumped up and did something is Robert Hand. One of the truly household names among those who have so much as two astrology books on their shelf, Rob is not just an astrologer but astrological historian, translator and archivist of ancient texts, founder of Astrolabe (makers of Solar Fire software), closely involved with Astrodienst, and someone gives excellent lectures on the ideology of astrology. He is into knowledge, and into sharing it. Well into his sixties, he has returned to university to pursue advanced academic degrees.

When he got his start as an astrologer in the 1960s, he pursued astrology with a seriousness and scholarly approach that most of the field was distinctly lacking at the time. As he evolved in his work, he was a leader of the movement to restore ancient texts and make them available to the profession, co-founding Project Hindsight and founding The Archive for the Retrieval of Historical Astrological Texts.

The Sagittarius files are full of people who are leaders in the field of ideas and consciousness. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant reformation, shows up; as does Margaret Mead, the great anthropologist; two undisputed leaders of the rock music phenomenon, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison; and while we’re at it, Frank Zappa. From what you know about Sagittarius, does it surprise you that any of these people has their Sun in this sign?

The basic symbol is an arrow. That is focus; direction; a piercing, flaming, quality; a trajectory; momentum; energy. It’s interesting that the planet of Sagittarius is Jupiter, considered soft, puffy, benefic, and bearing gifts; but the sign itself is symbolized by a fast-moving pointed object, both the warrior’s deadly weapon and the hunter’s most useful tool.

So there are two facets to Sagittarius: the all-encompassing (Jupiter, bringing in the symbolism of all cultures, vast libraries and storehouses of information) and the pointed (the arrow, representing the clear trajectory that personally takes us over those vast distances). Both are symbols for “give me space, don’t crowd me” vibe for which this sign is famous all across the galaxy.

They are extremely, extremely annoying to many people, but those same people will probably be the first to tell you they appreciate their presence and voluntarily put up with their oddities, because it’s worth it.

In her 1951 book Esoteric Astrology, Alice A. Bailey provides some commentary on Sagittarius symbolism.

To wit:

Sagittarius is sometimes depicted as an archer on a white horse, and a study of the meaning of this symbolism will reveal a great deal of inner teaching. This is one of the later ways of portraying this constellation. Earlier, in Atlantean days (from which period we have inherited what we know about astrology), the sign was frequently depicted by the Centaur — the fabulous animal which was half a man and half a horse. The horse symbolism dominated Atlantis myths and symbols, just as the ram and the lamb are prominently to be found in our modern presentations. This earlier sign of the Centaur stood for the evolution and the development of the human soul, with its human objectives, its selfishness, its identification with form, its desire and its aspirations.

The archer on the white horse, which his the more strictly Aryan [indo-Iranian] symbol for this sign, signifies the orientation of the man toward a definite goal. The man is then not part of the horse but is freed from identification with it, and as the controlling factor. The definite goal of the Centaur, which is the satisfaction of desire and animal incentives, becomes in the later stages the goal of initiation, which meets satisfaction in Capricorn, after the preliminary work is done in Sagittarius.

Next week, news permitting, we’ll take a look at some of the modern scientific discoveries involving Sagittarius and see what they have to offer.

But if you’re curious, I suggest you breeze through this half-completed project called The Centaur’s Arrow, from 2001. There’s lots of good stuff on Sagittarius in there.

Planet Waves by Eric Francis
Friday, Nov. 25, 2005 – Weekly Horoscope #586

An extended Sagg birthday report, combining parts one and two, will be published Monday.

Happy Birthday Sagittarius! [Print Edition]
THOUGH YOU HAVE an unspoken goal of staying out of the spotlight, lately this has seemed all but impossible. The best you can hope for is to have some time for yourself, where you can really be yourself, and not have to live up to the many expectations of the world. You’re unlikely to be receiving less attention any time soon, no matter how hard you try, so you may as well go with the flow and take the opportunity to lay the groundwork for certain plans of which nobody but you are aware. If you perform well over the next few months, supporters and colleagues will help you any way you want.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
The difference between when you feel free to choose and act, and when you don’t, is quite distinctive. Indeed, it’s like living two entirely different lives. If only you could turn the switch on the inside rather than waiting for the grand celestial movements to liberate you. However, what you’ve been through lately points the way to some options for the immediate future, and you would not have nearly the sensitivity or awareness that you have now, had you not been through certain struggles or tribulations in the recent past. You really have learned something, and you really can put it to use.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
It’s true that the deck is not entirely stacked in your favor at the moment, and you seem to be breeding as much contention as you are making progress. But at the heart of the matter lies the simple theme of clear agreements. Such are based on actually stating the words that make up a contract, but more important is the need to understand the agenda of people with whom you are dealing. This way, you don’t need to question their motives if words fail; you’ll already have a good idea where they’re coming from. In any case, ask — don’t assume.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
The Sun moving into your relationship angle this week has brought certain matters to a head, but you need to make sure you’re having the right conversation with the right person. You could find yourself venting all kinds of frustration or raising urgent issues with someone who has no relationship at all to what you’re attempting to address. This could be a psychological diversion; the real subject matter is deeper than you’re accustomed to going, but you are safe as long as you maintain a commitment to gentleness, listening and being clear within yourself.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Next week’s New Moon will have a variety of helpful effects, principally helping you address certain day-to-day concerns about your health, your work and whether you’re on the right track spiritually. The three issues are related, because they involve the way you walk or sit in the world under the most ordinary circumstances, perform your assigned duties, and take care of your mind and body — all basic, here and now life functions. But the master theme, for you, is the spiritual one. To the extent that you are doing anything other than giving your best effort and openly receiving what you truly need, you will need to make some adjustments.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
There is an exchange going on, but more is being exchanged than you think. How might you get a sense of what that is? Look at your art, writing, erotic play or other creative outflow and see what clues you can get. On one level, you may feel like you’re on an entirely inner journey that can lead only to the center of your being; on another level, everyone in your life is involved, and is receiving some impression of who you are and what you offer. You are in the spotlight, but you’re not performing, there is really no script, and whatever you do comes from your inner core and extends out to the world.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
The biggest surprises involve self-discovery, and life seems to have handed you a few choice ones lately. It’s beautiful what some awareness can do, isn’t it? As the days go by, you’re being taken to the heart of a particular family matter that has certainly proven to be burdensome enough. However, this is a situation that you’ve been to the bottom of before, and a few times before that; and the basement keeps getting deeper. Here is the key: this is a matter around which you have built your identity, from childhood onward. So by changing your perspective of “it,” you are changing your perspective of yourself.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
You may be having a difficult time making up your mind — or your mind is having a hard time making up you. In any event, you’re not under contract to think the same thing every day, to have the same opinions or the same ideas about God. You’re not a minister with a flock of conservatives writing checks to hear how good they are. Your relationship with the divine cosmic forces involves only you and them; that is the extent of the negotiation now underway. Let the back and forth work out for a while. The process is leading someplace positive and realistic, bizarre as it may feel.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Jupiter’s (rather new) presence in your sign is likely to magnify everything, including how you feel about it. It’s like one day you’re noticing the dirt in the corners and the clutter under the sink — only it’s the residue in your mind. And this is one of those cleanup jobs that gets worse before it gets better; and the kind where you start by organizing a shoebox of old postcards and it becomes a project that spreads to the attic, the basement and the storage locker. The main thing is have fun, and I mean it. Attitude is everything, but this really can be a true creative indulgence.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Suddenly, everything is the same, but everything is different. What’s happened is that in one little swoop, the Sun entered your sign, and is now on course for its annual trek across the Galactic Core. Of all the people in the world, it’s fair to describe your life as a camping trip on Earth rather than a place you’re totally certain you belong. But every now and then, the world feels a little more like home, and this is the time — no matter how utterly weird just about everything and everyone is. But you can cut them some slack; they are Earthlings and you are a Sagittarian.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
As I suggested last week — you have learned who you are not, but you have some deep discoveries to make about who you are. These are made possible because you’ve made peace about some things that are not true about you. And those were a great distraction that came mainly in the form of some kind of invisibility. You have been anything but invisible, of course, but in a strange way you could not see yourself. It’s been a long combination of factors that have got you to this point of self-realization, and the beauty of it is that the journey has just begun. And you will take with you everything you’ve learned in these first years of the third millennium.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
If you look back at what you’ve been through the past week, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll be prepared for another experience that’s related, forthcoming in about five or six weeks. That will be after all the holiday madness has passed, the first week of the year — remember. Remember the clues, facts, data, events of the past week; keep a file; it will all come in handy the first week of the year, to a startling and extraordinarily helpful degree.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
These are the days of the exact Jupiter trine Uranus aspect. It’s fair to say that you can work and play normally; that would work. It’s also perfectly reasonable to say that you can push some boundaries, reach for an unusual new experience you’ve wanted for a long time, try opening a door that’s long been locked, or develop those select projects that have resisted progress you’ve craved so deeply for so long. Your chances of success are tilted, stacked and arranged nicely in your favor. This little event is also very good for the people around you; you have the ability to both spread a lot of pleasure and also to solve just about any problem of which you may become aware. And that, if you ask me, is fun.

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