Dear Friend and Reader:
On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, blocking the Sun and casting a shadow over the Pacific Ocean. As the Moon moves and the Earth turns, the shadow will pass just south of Portland, Oregon, traveling southeast, reaching maximum intensity near Memphis, Tennessee, passing through South Carolina and then out into the Atlantic.
This is the first eclipse to touch both coasts of the United States since 1918, though that one had maximum intensity over the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, not on land. The Aug. 21 event will be the first eclipse to make landfall exclusively in the United States dating back to 1776. In that sense, it’s an unprecedented event, arriving at an unprecedented time in U.S. history.
Everyone paying attention knows that our nation needs some kind of shift. We need healing. Some think it has to be political, others spiritual, others social and economic. There are many different notions regarding in what direction these changes need to go. That might be the one thing that all sides agree on: change is necessary.
In astrology, eclipses represent watershed events. They can arrive with sweeping changes, and represent before and after moments. This works personally, and it works collectively — and it’s especially true for the place where the individual and the collective intersect. Said another way, eclipses represent collective events that can have deep personal influence. They represent change. And with the shadow falling across the United States, change is imminent. It’s an open question what kind of change we get, and what kind we create.
Of course, it’s rare that anyone has the idea that “we can create change,” much less a concept of what that change might be. As is written in the Declaration of Independence, “All experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
Said another way, people tend to put up with bullshit because it’s inconvenient, difficult or seemingly impossible to make any real changes. That idea is, of course, self-perpetuating, particularly as the problems get worse. And it leaves the business of change to people with agendas and advertising budgets. Their changes usually don’t work so well for you, unless you really think it’s a good idea to eat a cheeseburger between two slabs of fried chicken, wash it down with Diet Coke, then take diabetes and blood pressure drugs.
When you look at the problems United States society is facing, it’s easy to decide that there’s no solution. It’s not just that people can’t agree on the problem; rather, one person’s disaster is another person’s boon.
For one constituency, protecting women’s hard-won right to autonomy over their bodies is allegedly a direct affront to God (and let’s get back to killing Muslims and executing prisoners). For one constituency, providing social services is a moral obligation of society; for another, voting for leaders who cut off the voters’ own social services is something to celebrate and gloat over.
Sci-fi author Isaac Asimov got it right when he said in a 1980 Newsweekinterview, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.”
The cult of ignorance is currently camped out alongside the information superhighway, throwing beer bottles at passing vehicles. The ignorant now have a voice, and many with a very, very powerful voice have taken advantage of the ignorance and the divisions it’s caused.
When we add to that the destabilizing effect of electronic media, which has led to the idea that there’s no such thing as the truth and who cares anyway, we have a real problem on our hands — a problem that many think is merely theoretical and that few people can even see. Then we admit the ‘smart’ phone is ruining everything, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
As the Aug. 21 eclipse approaches, the pressure is going to increase, and we’re likely to see even more fracturing and polarization in the political discussion. Pressure can induce madness, particularly in the weak, and in those who lack intellectual and spiritual grounding. It’s also essential to remember that information is moving at lightning speed, every day, all the time. So what are we looking at? What’s the nature of this watershed moment?
The Setup Happened in Late May
It may be a moment of total chaos: of the maelstrom of contemporary life whipping up into its wildest frenzy yet. It may be a moment of profound unity. The last time we had that was Sept. 12, 2001.
In terms of specifics, it’s important not to entirely conflate the nation with the federal government, though the two are functions of one another. Many things that affect the whole United States involve the government. Many problems come back to the government for solutions, which are not forthcoming.
For a couple of years now, the United States has been dealing with the Donald Trump problem. Of course, Trump is not the Trump problem — it only seems like he is. The underlying issue involves technological change, and many people feeling either totally confused, or left behind by the “new economy” of the internet. The technology problem manifests personally as well. All of our previously dependable cultural reference points seem to have dropped through the floor, and at the same time, so have many inner reference points, such as the concept of meaning.
It’s one thing to search for meaning and seem to not find it. It’s another thing entirely to decide that there’s no such thing as meaning and call the search off.
Here’s how Eric McLuhan, media philosopher and professor of English, describes the situation: “The body is everywhere assaulted by all of our new media, a state which has resulted in deep disorientation of intellect and destabilization of culture throughout the world. In the age of disembodied communication, the meaning and significance and experience of the body is utterly transformed and distorted.”
Saturday Night Live‘s writers got it right when, commenting on recent government antics, they said, “Nothing matters. Absolutely nothing matters anymore.” McLuhan is describing the cause; SNL is describing the effect. Of course, different things matter as the times change. Yet the hyperbolic blasé attitude of society at this moment certainly is frustrating, particularly as so many of the blasé claim to care so very much. That’s probably just a game, since caring gives one a good image but is inconvenient, and not doing anything is so easy, and it doesn’t matter — as long as one seems to care somewhat. It would be more fun to hang out with pro-lifers. At least they actually give a shit.
That said, in May we started to see the chickens come home to roost in the narrative of the Trump administration. Between Trump firing FBI director James Comey to block the investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the naming of a special counsel to investigate those ties, there were daily missteps of stunning proportion, nearly all of which look like part of a cover-up.
Let’s see, we learned that Trump tried to get Comey to back off of the investigation of Michael Flynn, the short-lived national security advisor; we learned that Trump knew Flynn was under federal investigation when he was nominated and sent before the Senate for confirmation; we learned that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, had a role in the firing of Comey, even though he had allegedly recused himself from all matters involving Russia (because he lied to the Senate during his confirmation hearings about meetings with Russian officials); and on and on ad nauseam.
Here’s an interesting fact about the Aug. 21 eclipse: it comes within one degree of Donald Trump’s ascendant. The ascendant, possibly the most sensitive point in a natal horoscope, is the exact degree of the rising sign — in Trump’s case, the last degree of Leo. This eclipse happens in the next-to-last degree of Leo, so it’s going to have an effect on Trump and everyone connected to him.
The special counsel’s investigation is likely to be well underway by then, and so too are the inquiries in the House and Senate. To me it looks like the Trump administration is going to be on extremely shaky ground by August. And that means more change, more confusion, more chaos and more mystery about what happens next. The astrology looks like Trump finally explodes. Something, such as his own self-loathing (the other side of narcissism), might get him long before impeachment or indictment.
What the World Needs Now is Trust
This still doesn’t tell us where we, as individuals, fit into the picture. And as individuals, many, many people are in rough shape, unable to actually deal with the mounting pressures in their own lives.
I recently gave up a storefront in uptown Kingston. On the window was inscribed a quote attributed to Anais Nin: “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” That said, here is what I’m noticing, which I think is considerably different from who I am.
One thing I’m noticing is many people avoiding eye contact in public. I’m noticing the ever-burgeoning rise of social phobia. I’m noticing that many people won’t do something unless they’re getting paid for it, which is another way of saying that the motive of doing things for their own sake is evaporating rapidly.
I’m noticing anger, particularly from women. They don’t talk about it much; you can see it on their faces, which often look like they’re cast in stone. Attempting to start a conversation is widely seen as an affront. I notice many young men walking around the streets with a vacuous expression in their eyes. I see many people avoiding one another; I notice many people who seem terrified to go off-script even for a moment, or to embark on anything without a supposedly guaranteed outcome.
I walk into a busy café and half of the people are typing into computers or other devices. This is just an outer representation of what seems to be a society whose members are growing increasingly socially crippled, and unable to have a conversation without panicking or getting offended.
I hear, or hear of, many conversations that conflate attraction to another person with sexual objectification — or worse, with rape.
I hear talk of revolution and fostering change, without the meekest awareness that to do that, we have to get together and talk and listen to one another; to make any change at all, we need to be willing to work together — for no money, and no promise of success.
Underlying all of this is a profound lack of trust in one another, and in society, which must be rooted in people’s lack of trust in themselves, their perceptions and their assessments of people.
The United States is heading for a paradigm shift. Sooner or later, that will include the seemingly shocking discovery that we can’t trust politicians — which only seems to induce more cynicism, which is a form of radical distrust in existence.
This is a spiritual problem, and it’s a social problem. For a paradigm shift to be even vaguely helpful or meaningful, it must include trust. In order to trust one another enough to start the conversation, someone is going to need to take a risk.
I would, in that light, propose that it’s the people who have a spiritual life, who have some grounding, and who have found a basis for trusting themselves and trusting existence, that should take the first step, many times a day. It’s only the people who can see and hold awareness of this corner that we’ve painted ourselves into, or been unwittingly shoved into, who can plot a way out. If you cannot see a problem, you surely cannot solve it — so those who see the problem must be the ones who take the first steps.
One way or another, we must heal our damaged trust.
Your friendly neighborhood astrologer,
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for June 2017, #1153 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — You may be thinking one thing and feeling another. Which is correct? Time will tell, though if you’re in a hurry to make up your mind, you’ll want to go with what you feel rather than what you believe. Evidence of that might come with the experience that no matter how hard you try to convince yourself of something, you don’t believe it. The attempt at convincing rather than the not believing indicates what your real position is. You have other evidence; you have many clues; this is not as complicated as you may think, though there’s a reason why you may be having difficulty accepting what you know: it would challenge your larger belief system. For most people, human nature guides them to alter the facts, or choose from among the facts, to prevent a belief from being invalidated. Yet you’re at the point in your hard-won maturity where you must go beyond protecting false ideologies. It’s time to shed those like a husk and learn to invest your faith in the truth of what you know. You’re at a distinct advantage over most people: you have actual priorities and values, and you’re willing to speak up about them. You’re even willing to be unpopular if you need to. Be confident in your own intelligence, and daring enough to speak truth to power, including your own power.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Venus returns to your sign on June 6, after making some fancy moves in Pisces and Aries through much of the spring. You may decide you have no idea what all the fuss was about. After a long and mysterious journey, you’ve arrived in a familiar place. Yet what you went through was not only meaningful, it was an irreplaceable, once-in-a-lifetime sequence of events that provoked something rare for the human race these days: a desire to understand yourself. This, in turn, extends into your partnerships, whether business or personal. What you must always remember is that your inner life influences your relationships more than it does for others. Unlike many people you know, you cannot conceal your inner reality and still be happy in a relationship. It just feels awkward, as if you’re living a double life. What you learned through your many self-inquiries over the past few months is exactly what you’ll benefit from sharing with people around you. This will lead to real conversations, the kind where you don’t know where they’ll lead. You might say that, for the purposes of your growth, anything that’s predictable isn’t real; it’s a contrivance. That is, in part, because nothing is actually predictable; but moreover, the attempt to make it so merely subtracts from your potential rather than adding to it. Therefore, stay in unfamiliar territory as much as you possibly can.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — This month, in some form, family must be a priority. That doesn’t automatically imply your family of origin or blood relatives. Family, the original idea, involves the tribe, the extended family and the community. In contemporary terms, we call this ‘family of choice’. And too often, that family of choice includes only people we think we agree with 100% on every issue. You’re being called on to open up your belief systems, and to openly embrace people whose views you don’t share. Recent conflicts or disagreements have only served to underscore the necessity for being more open-minded. It’s not merely about being so tolerant. Rather, this is about being intelligent. You have a lot to learn from people whose views you don’t support, including (if nothing else) gaining clues about human nature. Yet there’s also something about your nature and the way in which you tend to contain both sides of every coin, even if you only look at one side or the other. A coin implies value, and yet such is worthless unless you present all of it rather than just half of it. Strive for a perspective that transcends the nasty oppositions that the world imposes on thought (mostly to the benefit of advertisers, who thrive on conflict). The word integrity is based on a deeper concept, which is integration; in this case, of yourself.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — The Sun enters your sign this month, followed hours later by Mercury. The message: you’ll decide you really did know what you were talking about, and what you were doing, all along. Yes, you’ll encounter some reasons to doubt your thinking, though don’t take them too seriously. Rather, use doubt as an opportunity to shore up your plans, do additional research and refine your timing. Most of what you need to begin, or whatever major moves you want to make, should probably wait until after the solstice on the 21st — by which time you will have worked the bugs out of your plans, and decided you’re worthy of things actually working out in a way you’re happy with. So, endure the bumps; work through the grind and the possible sensation that you don’t really know which way is up; let yourself encounter your self-doubt; and then be prepared for a breakthrough. Let yourself be led by passion and curiosity rather than by reputation or any concerns about your image. Take pride in the fact that you’ve built your career defying expectations and throwing conventions to the four winds. To the extent that you succeed in this crazy world, that will be your formula for success, as long as you remember what you can do so well but sometimes forget: be polite to the people who are helping you.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You face the challenge of working out the balance between giving, receiving and seeking what you need. This can be a delicate equilibrium to maintain, especially with so many people in such a depleted state, and you having so many responsibilities. You know that you must take care of yourself; and at the same time, you take the idea of dharma seriously. That means “acting as if to hold the world together,” or said another way, making every effort to actually participate meaningfully in the lives of the people around you. This is a bold and necessary philosophy, and every now and then it calls for a cold, clear re-evaluation. You might ask: when you invest your energy into someone, what are they doing with it? Are they, too, building the world, and passing the gesture forward? When you direct your time, thought and motivation into an organization, have you considered its motives? What is its purpose on Earth, and whom is it helping? Are your most intimate relationships nourishing or depleting? You need dependable sources of strength. It’s clear that one of them is leadership and serving a purpose. Yet this month and this summer, you must go deeper, and make contact with a source of energy that you draw from the Earth, such as better food, time in nature, your own creative projects, and love that both gives and receives.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — It’s time to take the bold step out into the open, where people can see you. The Sun’s transit across Gemini is a study in doing things right, doing them well, and being respected by those who are aware of you. That’s helpful, even if you have to tap into the competitive side of your nature. Then the next necessary step is meeting your audience. That’s the real challenge: the difference (for example) between writing a dissertation for an audience of three, and a book that could get into anyone’s hands. You’re ready for prime time. You’re ready to face the wider public, which also means to serve a larger audience. This may be professional; it may be social; it’s likely to be some degree of both. The thing to remember is that this is not ‘all about you’. It’s about a relationship between you and your human environment, which becomes the equivalent of a family. While Virgo is considered one of the quieter and more retreating signs of the zodiac, the cosmic map of your sign describes you as someone who thrives in any role where you’re relating to a group in an intimate way. This might include running the camp kitchen, organizing childcare for an activist movement, or figuring out how to host 25 visitors. However, the real subject matter is more likely to involve your ideas.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Summer is when your career tends to thrive, and this summer will be a particularly bold example. However, for that to happen, you’re going to need to balance recreational time with productive time in an efficient equation. One is gong to feed the other, and it’ll be healthy of you to motivate yourself to work with both the promise and the reality of a life worth living. First, you must master the art of being able to set up and get work done anywhere — measured in productivity and tasks accomplished rather than in time spent doing things. That will mean being task-focused: keeping a schedule and making sure that you’re flexible enough to handle the usual bumps and wobbles of daily business. If you notice yourself fighting with any of your business equipment, upgrade it; time is precious and frustration is pointless. On the recreational side, you’ll need to do things like plan a late start on the day after you’re planning a late night out. Then see how that goes. One last detail: you will need to enlist others in supporting you. Most people have jobs that they can turn off and leave behind. You have some professional calling in which you’re deeply invested, and which is depending on you. Gently involve everyone in that process, whether this involves respecting your space and time, or assisting you directly.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You might focus less on the details of finance within a relationship and devote yourself to increasing your professional revenue. There seems to be a conversation that’s gone on too long and that does not appear especially productive, despite a recent breakthrough. Where joint finances of any kind are concerned, the question to ask is: what do you actually owe anyone, and what do they owe you? What is the actual dollar figure? It might be zero; it might be more; it might be less; but the thing to agree on is the amount, and then move on to something more interesting. If there’s some discussion in principle, it’s likely to be a veil thrown over a deeper emotional or sexual matter. If that’s true, do what you can to distill that to its essence so you can really decide what it means to you. And the deeper question in your relationships is one of mutual support. Do yourself a favor and hang out with people as generous as you are. From the look of your solar chart, they are right nearby. Meanwhile, back to business: it’s time to take a holistic view of where your money comes from, where it goes and why it goes there. You must become a master of two issues: connecting your talent to your revenue stream, and then managing your cash flow impeccably. One key to this is building up your savings.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — It’s challenging learning how to be easier on yourself and also more disciplined at the same time. Yet that’s the challenge you face at this stage, and fortunately it’s a riddle with a solution. However, you won’t be able to get around the need to pull out the stops and focus your efforts on something that may be difficult, and that requires a large investment of your energy. So the ‘going easier’ aspect of things may be about cultivating a state of mind where you settle in for the long haul and commit to both long days and a long growing season. This calls for a special mental outlook, where it may be necessary to disconnect from your desired outcome for a while, and invest yourself fully in the process. That will do two things: it’ll remove a distraction, and at the same time, open your mind to other possibilities for where you’re going, including something that appears to manifest randomly. The way the summer and autumn shape up, it looks like no matter how hard you work toward a specific outcome, success will come in an unexpected form, in an unexpected way. Therefore, you can use goal setting as a kind of guidepost, to keep you heading some general direction rather than going in circles. Just remember to focus on the quality and integrity of your work, rather than the goal.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You need a change in perspective and environment. This means shifting your emphasis away from things you must do, and people you must do things for. It means emphasizing what’s interesting over what’s boring; what’s new over what’s repetitive; what helps you relax rather than what’s hyper-focused. Fortunately there are activities and people calling you, and it would seem that you feel the resonance and are excited about having some fun. The question is, if you’re not ready to dive in, what’s holding you back? Is it a commitment to someone, which might carry an implied ‘threat’ to the relationship if you explore yourself in new ways? The nature of commitment, jealousy, and control in your relationships is a theme to consider carefully. You have the perfect opportunity to do that if you want to explore someone or something but feel like you can’t, you shouldn’t, or you mustn’t. Many people believe that these strictures are worth it, to get all the benefits of the relationship. It’s worth questioning carefully whether that’s really true, and what the real benefit to you is. There are commitments that yield freedom, and there are commitments whose primary benefit is constraining freedom and limiting one’s options. Yes, strangely, strictures are often experienced as a benefit, though this is rarely acknowledged. The question is: what life do you really want to lead?
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You might take this month and define your healing goals. Take these on two levels: the ones about repairing or unraveling what’s not going well, and determining what you need for an enhanced experience of wellbeing. Let’s consider part one, the repair side of the question. This might involve fulfilling a commitment to go to therapy, to reassess any medications you’re taking, and getting a handle on any physical issues that you want to address. They might include better diet, losing weight or more exercise. They might include addressing any persistent health matters that have been a distraction. Start with what’s easy and obvious, and focus on experiencing the benefits of commitment to the project. Don’t take it all on at once; you’re less likely to succeed. On the other side is what you need to live in a way that’s more compatible with who you are. One crucial thing is getting your work environment right. You spend a lot of your time there, and it has a profound influence on your state of mind. Think of your workspace as both home and healing space, where you must not only be productive, but supported in doing so. Take control of your environment. Remove what does not belong there, and add what you need (such as a reliable source of good food at work, and a place to rest).
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — This month has two distinct phases: the Sun’s transit through Gemini (your 4th solar house) until June 21; and then after the solstice, when the Sun is moving through your fellow water sign Cancer (your 5th solar house). For a Pisces, this is a necessary contrast to work with, as these two angles bring out different aspects of your nature. During the first phase, it’s essential that you pull in and retreat as much as you can. It’s a time to honor your limits, focus inwardly, and catch up with yourself, particularly after what has been a ridiculously busy spring. There may be a whole side of your nature that you’ve had to neglect for the past couple of months, and this is the one to acknowledge and reconnect with. Most likely, this will call upon you to spend as much quiet time as possible, dwelling within your inner reality. Once the Sun reaches solstice, the energy shifts and you tap into the power of cardinal (action-oriented) water sign Cancer. This will bring out the expressive, passionate and creative side of your nature, in a kind of reversal from the inner attention that you’ve needed to give yourself. The more you draw yourself into your inner universe, and map out your private reality, the more energy you’ll have when it comes time to open up and explore the world around you.