Scorpio de los Muertos & Mercury Station Direct

Grave of Catharine Gardner in Kingston, NY,
ca. 1792-1824. Photo by Eric Francis.

Dear Friend and Reader:

THESE NIGHTS of mid-Scorpio are when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest. They are the Days of the Dead: All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Dia de los Angelitos; with special days designated to honor the unbaptized, small children, those who died violently, and of course, our ancestors.

When our world is closest to the astral world, these souls can come visit; and we can visit them, honoring our predecessors in our hearts, and also with a simple ritual such as bringing gifts to a cemetery. In American culture, we call the whole business Halloween. That is an adaptation of Samhain, the high sabbat of the witch’s calendar. This is related to Beltane in May — the holiday of abundance, sex and passion.

I try to get to a cemetery every year, but my days are packed right now, and I didn’t know when I would have time. But I woke up Thursday morning (honored as New Year’s Day in the Celtic calendar, but this has been questioned) with instructions for a mission I had not planned. This was going to the Revolutionary War cemetery at the Old Dutch Church down the street from my house and making my offerings there. In particular, it was George Clinton, the first and longest serving governor of New York State and finally vice president of the United States, whose grave I needed to visit. Clinton also served as county clerk of Ulster County, where I live, a position he held for more than half a century during his long life of public service. He then served as vice president under two of our most venerated presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Grave of George Clinton, first governor of New York, in uptown Kingston, NY. Photo by Eric Francis.

I am not sure why I needed to contact him in particular, but I don’t question these things, and besides, he was coming through loud and clear. I collected some items from my altar (frankincense, charcoal, a cast iron incense burner). I was asked to bring a purple bandanna, so I took a nice faded one from my drawer. Then I drove around getting the few other items I would need, based on what I know about Days of the Dead tradition (mostly learned from my Planet Waves colleagues Paloma Todd and Jeanne Treadway).

Usually, you bring food and drink, and other offerings which can go as far as elaborate feasts held in the graveyard. Rum is a traditional offering in Latin culture; so is eggplant. The sweet vapor of rum, it is said, can penetrate between the worlds, and the spongy texture of eggplant is also able to be felt by those without bodies. The offerings are designed to bring the touch of physical life back to those who have left it, and to remind those of us who are living to appreciate the abundance and sensuality that we have available.

The liquor store had a cigar shop attached to it, so I bought two hefty cigars (one for the governor, and one for myself at some point in the near future). I bought a few of those glass memorial candles and small Dixie cups for the rum, and while I was in that aisle, at long last I remembered to pick up aluminum foil for my kitchen.

Revolutionary War-era graves at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, NY. Photo by Eric Francis.

Then I headed to the cemetery at the end of my street in earnest, feeling the spirit of the men who were guided by a vision rather than by fear; by the urge to prosperity rather than greed; by the drive to overthrow tyranny rather than kiss its sorry ass; and who gave their lives to our liberty, profit and benefit. They could see the future in a way that we cannot; they could feel the future, and they were dedicated to something called the principles of The Enlightenment. They could see, and were committed to, their lives in a way that completely eludes most Americans.

It was a warm autumn day, and the leaves were floating from the trees. Nobody else was in the cemetery for the purpose of visiting the dead; there were quite a few coming and going from the church on various errands. I set up an altar on Clinton’s marker, sparked up the frankincense and left the cigar for him. I was then directed to the back of the churchyard, where I found the grave of someone named Catharine Gardner, who died at age 32 in 1824. I set up an altar at her headstone using the purple bandanna, leaving an eggplant, plenty of rum and a cloud of frankincense pouring into the next world.

Living in Kingston, I feel like I am in the cradle of the American Revolution. Many places in New England could fit that description, but the feeling is palpable here like no place I’ve ever felt it; like there is some enormous crystal buried under the ground that is still transmitting information. I think my house is built on top of it sometimes, and I plan to make good use of it. The spirits of the original patriots and colonists seem to flood the sidewalks at times, and there are historic markers on many buildings and along the curbs of streets.

Their spirits are alive, if we will listen; their bravery, their endurance, their simple dedication to building the world, can be examples to us today, if we have the ears to listen. It is true that we need to build on their vision and expand it, but we also need to know where our foundation is rooted, and feel our existence resting there.

Eric Francis

Mercury Stations Direct: The Right to Speak Up

Jim Reed and Pete Malloy from Adam-12.

EVERYONE who lives in the USA knows that “we have the right to remain silent.” That little prayer is from something called the Miranda ruling by the Supreme Court. If you get arrested, the cops have to advise you that you have the right to not testify against yourself, which is protected by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The “Miranda warning” typically includes something like, “Anything you say can be used against you in court.”

In our personal lives, we tend to apply the same idea — and we take it way too far. We typically refuse to speak up with those we call our intimates, then we wonder why nobody understands us.

After so often refusing to attempt to speak, we wonder why we cannot find the words to say what we mean. When we don’t compel others to speak up, we wonder why who they are so often turns out to be such a surprise.

We also have some issues with listening, but they are secondary. For anyone to listen, somebody has to vibrate their vocal cords, or set pen to paper. And it is true, sometimes we need to sit someone down and speak to them a bit forcefully in order to get a response, which many people don’t have the stomach for.

The problem with speaking up is that you must either commit to the truth as you know it, or tell a lie. There is power in words. They crystallize ideas and give them tangible form, which can be exchanged like psychic currency. They can indeed be used against you; and we can use them to our benefit as well. But we do need to admit the risk involved. If you say something, you will either need to stick with it, contradict yourself, or change your views openly. But if you commit to your feelings, you can’t dodge around in a noncommital haze.

But that haze gives those who emit it a form of power; often by being silent, we squeeze statements out of others, or compel them to speak to us. We leave them in a state of tense mystery about where we stand. Be silent long enough, hold back your opinion long enough, and others around you will get unstable. Used this way, silence is a particularly effective form of manipulation.

Mercury has stationed direct in Libra, in the process of a retrograde pattern that bridges Libra and Scorpio. This is about communication in relationships. The Libra-Scorpio line is where we develop partnership and association into commitment; where love evolves into passion and the urge to combine forces with another person.

Mercury working this line is an invitation to express the feelings associated with these themes. It’s an invitation to tell ourselves and the people around us where we stand. Life is different when we live this way. For one thing, you don’t seem so mysterious to yourself. Where you begin and others end becomes more apparent.

Our relationships are not a court of law, but too often they end up there. I think we can go a long way toward keeping them out of court and in the spirit of love by letting others know where we stand with them, and by asking them where they stand with us. It’s easier than it seems. But you need to go into the discussion willing to accept the truth, and willing to act on it.




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Nov. 1, 2007, #687 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
You may get yourself caught in a drama about public recognition for your efforts. The key to this will be not taking the situation personally; your work is one thing and what people think about it is another thing. Generally it’s good that the two have an arm’s length relationship; currently they seem to be dancing the tango. This would not be so bad if your emotional insecurities were not getting restless, seemingly of their own accord. How can you play this all to your advantage? You can start by seeing the relationships between seemingly separate circumstances. It would help a lot to notice that the things that seem to set you off are not the real concerns; make a habit of looking for the deeper layer, and you will find it.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You may be feeling like you’re at a monumental turning point, but at the same time, you sense that there is some piece of you missing. It seems like the picture of your life, or of your psyche, is not really complete. Yet is anything actually missing, or are you merely not noticing its existence? The real issue seems to be the presence of some inner quality that’s not entirely familiar, and which you are therefore not recognizing as part of yourself. It’s as if you’re focusing on the obstructions to your energy, rather than the access to it that you have developed. You may well ask where this kind of defeatism came from; if you get an answer, you will have a clue what to do about it. One thing is clear: you are again in a position to let go of an inner block or obstacle that has plagued you many different ways at many different times of your life.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You have tried the analytical approach; you may want to try a combination of expression and persistence. Most people with something to say or with the desire to create something underestimate how much dedication it will take. It’s not fair to expect anyone to get the message the first few times you put it out there, mainly because you’re still working out the fine points of what you are trying to say. Most of that working out comes in the repeated attempts to make yourself clear, so I suggest you welcome this process rather than resist it. You’re not talking in circles, and neither are you wasting your breath. You just need to listen to yourself more carefully.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
It may be easier for someone you care about to contain their energy than to express it, and this may be extremely frustrating. On the other hand, they may be seeking to light their fire on yours, knowing how devoted you are to keeping that fire hot and expressing yourself boldly. Fire is the one element that can make more of itself, but in the process, something is consumed and many other things are created, ranging from heat to ashes. I suggest you look carefully at all these factors, but don’t draw too many conclusions too soon. The point of actual contact has yet to come. The real discussion has yet to happen. It may take some days before their inner process allows them to bring their feelings to the surface, and it’s not possible now to predict what that truth is. For now, focus on your own.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
You have a lot of friends who want to see you and spend time with you. I suggest you get on the phone, no matter how busy you are, and let people know that you love them. As regards the financial turning point you’re at, what you must do is focus on what is important to you, though it seems like you’re making some essential discoveries about what that might be. It’s likely that you feel like you cannot afford what means the very most to you, but I assure you that is not true; to the contrary, once you figure out what that is, you will have exactly enough resources to make it real. The key will be refining your definition and setting the precise goal, and making sure you temporarily eliminate everything else from your agenda.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You seem to be done hesitating; you seem to have lightened up, and this comes with sensing an option that you could not see before, or did not want to exercise. You may still take a while to make up your mind, but I would propose that you’re making a different decision than the one you think you’re making. No matter who else it may involve, the decision is actually about how you feel about yourself. You would do well to ask where some of your misgivings come from, and why you seem to wrestle with the same issues over and over again. If in the coming days or weeks you find yourself being alone more than you want, consider that an opportunity to consider what you want besides being alone; but more to the point, please make up your mind about what you have to offer.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
There seem to be several different influences acting on you at the moment, but in truth you are the prime mover. You are in a position to establish a goal or stake a claim in the world, though this is deeply dependent on your sense of emotional security. Events will develop more or less like this: You will make up your mind about a goal, then have some misgivings about whether you’ve gone too far or even been too arrogant in your presumptions. While you’re doing your soul searching, however, you need to focus on your objective — even if you encounter some inner ethical dilemma. Trust me please, it has nothing to do with your ethics, only your confidence.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Commitment is never something you can push toward certainty. I think the concept is misapplied to relationships. From the outside it looks like we do something, but the doing is about a response to an inner movement. It would seem these days that a commitment you are trying to make is coming up against some invisible factor, or like a commitment you thought you made is dissolving and some other truth emerging. These are steps along the way to being truthful with yourself. Your past concepts of relationship, particularly those you collected in childhood or learned from the example of your mother, are not working for you. You may look out at the world and wonder what, exactly, will work for you — but knowing what does not work is an excellent start.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You are in the process of exchanging one kind of authority for another. Nothing about them is the same. The old kind of authority is what you grew up under, what the world suffers from, and the thing you have discovered has been so effective at strangling you. I suggest you experiment with different modes of authority; over yourself, over others, and in the way you perceive the world. You need to do this because this is a key time in your life for taking charge, of yourself, your affairs and to some extent, those around you. Yet this needs to be a new approach to authority, which begins with gentle self-mastery; which continues on the level of ideas; and which mainly involves making agreements, setting boundaries, and respecting those of others.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You risk getting way too caught up in the details for your own good. Those you have already taken care of, though you may not recognize it. You will discover this when you start taking care of the bigger issues, the structural ones, the philosophical problems you may not have considered. This is the essence of leadership now; and you are indeed being seen as a kind of exemplar when it comes to ethical questions that are too big for anyone to wrap their mind around. People often scoff at the idea of “situational ethics” — that what is right or wrong depends on the circumstances involved. Regardless, this is a topic on which you are becoming something of a modern master.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You can forget about being a private person for a while; everything about your chart suggests that you are one who is directly involved with the world, with your community and with professional aspirations that in some way affect quite a number of other people. What you must do from this point forward is run your world without a trace of envy or control over the feelings of others. Your aspiration and actual success must be designed in such a way that you allow others to be equally successful or more successful than you are. This is always easier said than done, even for an Aquarian. But when you make contact with your own unlimited nature, you will be much happier about how unlimited everyone else is around you.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
You have it in you to be the ultimate diplomat, which is a grand thing because you’re also the ultimate radical. Among the people who get things done are those who are able to finesse their really out-there ideas into sublime delicacies. This way the people who require refinement, gentility and grace trick themselves into going for something entirely new, different, and which upends the status quo in some subtle or less than subtle way. Just remember, as radical, creative or weird as you may feel, you have the talent to make a smooth presentation, and oddly enough, someone close to you is in the mood to take the potion and transform themselves in an equally unusual way.

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