Taking the Leap

Dear Friend and Reader:

I’ve noticed that holidays tend to be associated with events relating to their names. For instance, a lot of people experiment with independence on Independence Day. We tend to get crucified around Christmas (it’s too long of a wait till Good Friday), and we can take a leap on Leap Day. Leap Day only happens once every four years. For the most part, it seems that humans prefer to sit.

Photo by Eric Francis.

The need to take a leap is going around, and strong. I’m pretty sure most of us don’t see the predicament we’re in, but we can feel it. In a word, that predicament is fear. I look, I listen, I read and it seems that many, many people are so scared they have no idea of what. For everything we may do that we want to do, we seem to have at least 10 rousing, supercharged fears to block our way. At the moment, most of our inputs feed and solidify fear.

Our often-unconscious involvement with the technosphere has most of us evermore crystallized into patterns that seem increasingly difficult to escape. For one thing, we tend to live within a very narrow spectrum of ideas about what is possible, what is appropriate, what will not get us into ‘trouble’. Input to our minds tends to vary between vicious negativity and banal triviality — in other words, so-called news and games. That is a pretty narrow spectrum for something as majestic as a human mind. I think that most people have existed within this tunnel for so long, there seems to be no way out.

I am pretty sure that the majority of people want love, and want to express themselves creatively — but these seem to be the most elusive aspects of life, and the ones we fear the very most. We talk about the desire, but not the panic lurking below the surface.

We tend to put so much emphasis everywhere else, perhaps in an effort to distract our minds from anxiety: success, acquiring things, and searching for a relationship rather than fully embracing the challenging experience of relating to people from a place of vulnerability. The thing about love and creativity is that for the most part, they involve giving yourself over, something that is allegedly scary. And you cannot do that if you’re cheap, or if you believe you don’t have anything worth giving, that is, if you fear you are empty.

Both love and art involve making some demands on the environment as well. I am writing this column in a taco joint in Woodstock. A moment ago, radio was set to WDST, which plays a lot of extremely annoying commercials that all sound the same. I took the prerogative to request that the house change the tune. We are now listening to Neil Young and Crazy Horse. I am sure you would prefer that when I’m writing your column, I listen to a poet (or nothing) rather than rapid-fire ads for laser surgery and snowmobiles.

I can assure you that nobody was going to turn off the radio unless I asked. Most people take the background noise for granted; we take the toxic environment as a given. We tend to be afraid to ask anything of that environment, except that our toxic cell phone works. And it better, for $1,000 a year.

Photo by Eric Francis.

People keep asking me when it’s going to happen — I’m an astrologer, so I must know. When: the relationship, the breakthrough, the richly creative phase, the end of the long struggle. When are those dumb laser surgery ads going to stop?  When is someone going to love me? I’ll tell you — sometime after you confront your fear.

Though, the idea that something is going to happen insinuates two things — one being fate, which means that the person wondering is somehow passive. Second, the thing that is going to happen…happens to them; victimhood is implied by asking “when is it going to happen?” I recognize this is how floods, tornados, earthquakes and spontaneous death usually go down, but it’s not usually how people make constructive choices.

How many decisions are made in wrecked automobiles, hospital beds or handcuffs? Many seem to flirt with these things because they need a change. I am not sure where this particular metaprogram comes from, but we’re usually taught to keep going until we crash. Then, the next step is to pick up the pieces. Yet how often is this actually creative? I’ve seen plenty of instances where even pain and loss fail to deliver a message we are able to actually get, that is, a message that we can let go of fear; that change is okay.

Once fear is suspended, opportunity and action must be combined in order for conscious, willing change to happen. This is to say, you have to take a chance and get off your ass.

Today is Leap Day, but we’re really in something of a Leap Season. In the astrology, I see nothing but opportunity. Maybe I’m projecting, so I had better copy my notes out of the margin and put them into this article. Some will be familiar with some of these ideas from Tuesday’s Pisces birthday letter, but astrology usually benefits from reinterpretation and the use of a shifting viewpoint.

The backdrop to the current sky is Pisces — that’s the season we’re in. Pisces is the last sign, so we have a few clues we can pick up from this. One is about completions, and the other being how the extreme waning phase of any cycle is the moment of seeding the new. We happen to be in the last sign, and approaching the Pisces New Moon — the last one of the four seasons.

Pisces has a few distinct qualities that are available to you: one of them being that a broad perspective is available. Another is that, coming last, we have a moment where things that have been delayed a long time can come to fruition.

This New Moon is conjunct Uranus — revolutionary, and in Pisces, imaginative. If you’re invested in the rational world, these constitute a big risk. But no change is possible without taking a chance. Uranus is really the energy of Prometheus. He’s the guy who stole “fire” (awareness, electricity, technology, passion) from the Gods and gave it to mankind. He is the patron saint of many revolutions, inventions and liberating experiences. Uranus is a powerful influence, but in Pisces it can also manifest as mindless diversion (ala the Roaring 20s, high-tech styled) and the entirely uncreative use of technology. Or, it can fire us up on the deepest levels of heart, soul and erotic passion.

The problem with Uranus is that it demands change. Responding to an idea can compel us to reconsider our entire life. This terrifies most people, and this is a phobia that should have a name we all know. Usually, we want the benefits of change without giving anything up (usually, this automatic thing is called progress). We want to fix everything that’s wrong without releasing the familiar patterns that glue us to reality, and as a result nothing or very little actually happens. So if you want creativity, passion and revolution, start by agreeing that this means change and that change means changing.

New York City as seen from the Palisades cliffs in New Jersey. Photo by Eric Francis.

Change takes confidence. Apropos of this theme, Achilles (now in Pisces) is an asteroid that covers the theme of false lack of confidence and to a lesser extent, false confidence. False lack of confidence? If you lack confidence, isn’t that just how it is? Well, no. You can have your pre-existing, organic confidence undermined or cloaked by factors that you can identify and remove. The past couple of weeks I have been noticing what a number parents can do on their kids. I have spent a decade and a half listening to adults tell me their story, that is, principally women in their 30s, 40s and 50s — many of whom are still struggling with what their parents did to them.

There are many, many permutations of parents eroding the confidence of their kids. Recently, I have been talking to a lot of young women involved with my photography projects, and watching what they go through in their day to day lives; their own challenges and struggles. I am witnessing the harsh toll that mothers often have on their daughters — such as crazymaking, sending radically mixed signals, and other attempts at total emotional control. An example of a mixed signal is the girl is told she has to support herself and live independently, and then her attempts to do so are met with anything from resistance to sabotage. It takes a lot of courage — a hell of a lot of the stuff, and support, and luck — for a woman to have any emotional or psychological independence from her mother. It takes being enlightened, brave, and truly loving for a mother to let go of her daughter. Usually, this means being a therapy graduate, and there are far fewer of those than high school graduates.

It takes guts to even mention this issue. I’ve spent most of the last 24 hours struggling with how to say this in such a way as not to offend my readers, but I feel like it must be said. If we want young women to become people, we need to do things that help them build confidence.

Men become people by taking a step beyond their father; by knocking him off his horse; by realizing that his judgments don’t matter. They are rewarded for concrete achievements, with anything from accolades to money to power. I don’t think that women have so many parallel rituals, and the emotional bonds between women are entirely different than those between men. Men, so often accused of being “emotionally superficial,” and fathers being so often marginalized or self-marginalized, have a slight advantage here. I believe that for a wide variety of reasons, it’s more difficult for women to become free of their mother than it is for men to become free of either parent. The mother-daughter bond is typically held in place by a kind of emotional projection that blurs the boundaries between the two women.

I am sure that a great deal of the problem involves lack of sexual confidence. I ask nearly every young woman I work with or meet what she was taught about her sexuality, and the answer is usually nada. There is no way a young woman can be confident in the world unless she has some clue as to her sexual power, the accompanying responsibilities and how to handle them. The constant message is, “Be sexual but don’t have sex.” That, if anyone remembers what it was like to be young, is not going to work, and it is not working. The current prevailing wisdom is to preserve purity with ignorance. And that is not working, either.

Along with this missing information is conveyed many forms of the idea that she cannot run her own life, make choices, or live without a man. Or there is the mixed signal: you can live without a man, but you can’t have the skills or confidence to do so. I don’t see this getting significantly better at the moment; I do see the form of the problem changing, which is a kind of masquerade for progress.

I suggest we make a run on the bookstores for copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and invest in a few high quality sex toys for the young women in your life so they at least have an alternative way to blow off steam while they sort out their sexual values.

What to do with boys and young men is another question, one that we will address soon. (My friend and writing partner Paloma Todd and I are currently developing a project devoted to boys and men, called Mars Calling. This, you will be hearing about shortly.)

Let’s move onto another asteroid.

Vesta, now in early Pisces, brings in the very Piscean themes of sex and service. These can be considered together; they can be considered separately. The primary message of Vesta is tend your sexual and creative fire like it is the first and only thing that matters. This is THE gesture of owning that fire — because taking care of it implies a form of direct stewardship that builds an investment. Have you ever taken care of a campfire or a woodstove? It’s not a gas furnace. It requires constant attention to something that has a life of its own, but your efforts and focus support that life directly. This is the creative or sexual experience at its most basic.

Fae as Mirror Bearer from Book of Blue. Photo by Dani Voirin.

With Vesta, though, there is a profound question of whose fire it really is. Traditionally, the Vestal fire was at the center of the Roman town. It was collective property. The flame was not allowed to go out, and it was tended by women who were a kind of collective property as well. There was a tradition of keeping the flame going around the clock, and of starting new fires in other towns with the hot coals of an existing one. This is where the theme of service comes in.

Our inner creative fire is, in a sense, collective property. Sex, creativity and service gain a significant portion of their value because of their value to others; because we share. Usually this gets abused; our sexual energy can be pirated or appropriated and our creative energy can be taken over by a temp agency. We can lose all sense of self due to a haunting sense of obligation that has no known origin that we are aware of.

Vesta in Pisces is about burning the fire of the imagination hot, tending that flame, and putting it to use. Pisces loves art, sex, music and any form of imaginative pleasure. These things start with you and extend outward into a space that you define. In other words, Vesta in Pisces says set your definitions, create your space, and have the experience you want. With Vesta, defining and using space is a vital process. In Pisces, the idea would be to arrange your space for maxiumum pleasure and creativity.

Vesta is still in early Pisces, opposite Saturn in Virgo. There may be an apparent conflict here between pleasure and responsibility. But Vesta has no existence at all, if it’s not based in responsibility. The question is — what responsibility? To whom, and why?

The New Moon cluster consists of six planets clustered within two degrees, including the Sun and Moon. The New Moon is accompanied by Niobe. She is saying cool it on the pride — just do your work, do your thing and forget about pride. Pride is not a sin, but it is a huge distraction and self-aggrandizement. It keeps most of the better things in life away from us — for example, we might be too proud to approach a person we like, fearing rejection. We might be too proud to try something (like paint), fearing we will look stupid.

Bacchus is also in Pisces, something of a homecoming for this guy. He is saying, make room for divine madness. Let go of your mind. It’s tired of clinging. Humans need to transcend normal consciousness regularly, and the way we do that is through sex, drugs and art. Yes, in our parochial society, allegedly bad, worse and worst. He and his predecessor Dionysus were among the most deeply respected gods of Greek and Roman antiquity. Bacchus is the one word answer to why I don’t believe in purity. I think we are safe, if there’s such a thing as safety, if we use sex, substances and technology creatively and with awareness. Creatively means actively, with the mind ON, making something new — a new feeling or experience, a new quality of time, a new thing, a new idea, a new approach to life. If you’re into Bacchus, I can’t say it any better than I did Tuesday — make friends with cock and balls — your own, the idea, those of the people you love, those you meet — and use them creatively.

Carolyn Grillot of Paris, age 20, firedancing outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Photo by Eric Francis.

Child, another asteroid clustered in with the New Moon, is inviting you to return to your childhood dreams, ideas, ambitions and needs. We were typically cheated out of these, by intense social pressure. Kids are curious, articulate, creative, passionate and basically free. Then they have inhibitions, judgments, guilt and doubts piled on them by everyone from parents to teachers to peers. In other words, we cease to be kids when the fear smothers us.

We each have the heart of a child. The adult that surrounds that child typically functions more like a terrified prison guard than a healthy parent. You need to get inside that relationship, get the prison guard out of the way, and be a better parent to your inner child. Ask the kid in there what he or she needs; what he or she wants the most. There is nothing like a Pisces New Moon conjunct Uranus to fire up the childlike spirit and imagination — and to stir up the revolutionary impulse that each of us possesses as a birthright of being human.

That is the opportunity. What you do with it is something else.

Yours & truly,

Eric Francis




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, February 29, 2008, #703 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
That which you could not see and feel now appears to have some substance. It may not have it for long; if some picture you’ve been missing comes into focus, try to memorize it. What you may be feeling is that people are simply not reacting to you like you want them to. You cannot seem to reach them emotionally. You are all kinds of fiery, and you’re certainly not concealing your opinion. The people around you are interesting, smart and diverse. But you can’t seem to reach them on the level of tears and sweat. Over the next day or two you will have a mirror dropped in front of your reality, and you’ll catch a glimpse at what others are responding to, or trying to respond to. To put it simply, you need to go deeper. The good news is that you are about to do precisely that.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times lately, you’re working swiftly toward a creative and professional breakthrough (both). Yet you may be wondering if it’s the one that you really want. Well, it is what you make it, for one thing. For another, to the extent that something feels wrong, it is likely to be an unusual and compelling source of power. Focus on what’s working and how you’re applying your creativity to help it out; and focus on your resistance. The resistance or questioning you’re likely to be feeling is a clue to what you think is wrong about yourself. That, in turn, is your ticket deeper. Any potential wrongness you may feel, any resistance, the sense of incompleteness, is like a ruse thrown over your most dependable source of power and strength. As you notice this, you’ll learn to cast off no part of yourself.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Your plans are beginning to materialize, but I suggest you think of them more as visions. Visions are more interesting than plans, and the implication is that they call for a higher order of creativity. Plans are something you do with a pencil and paper; visions flash before your eyes. Plans are a fun game. Visions have a living quality and compel your soul to respond with every quantum of your life force. They represent a kind of confrontation. There may be a test of faith: do you have the strength to accept something so amazing, so beautiful, so seemingly real (but which does not exist yet)? Start with the vision that seems to be coming in loud and clear, and use the notion of planning as a means of building toward it step by step. As for faith, you don’t need a lot of the stuff, just a little.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Look at the faces of the people who look at you, and watch their face change in the first three seconds of eye contact. That will tell you something about what they want, and what they have to offer. Most of all it will reveal something about what they see when they look at you. I assure you that the people who approach you are doing so because they want some kind of an exchange with you. You need to figure out what each exchange is about. The subject matters will be highly diverse. The directions of energy flow will be many. In any one-to-one situation, there are more than two people involved. Notice who they are; take a look at them hiding behind the scenes. Watch which way the resources are flowing. But most of all, have fun exploring all those social taboos you love so much.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
An unusual opportunity is approaching. It may be love, it may be sex, it may be business — but whatever, you will recognize it by the feeling: orgasmic fusion with the cosmos. Something absolutely real, perhaps feeling a little dangerous, a little alien, but entirely necessary. You are so open to the possibilities of life right now that I could hardly imagine you being reluctant. What may give you pause for caution is considering the extent to which you want to embrace the pain of others. I can tell you this — to the extent you recognize and have empathy for one person’s pain, you open up to the struggle that the world is currently in. There is a positively enormous battle raging inside people’s hearts and souls about where and how they fit in. The pressure to fit in has driven many people to the point of insanity. You alone seem to represent, for so many, a safe place they can be an individual. Remember that as the events of this week unfold.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Does the work you are doing offer you something you cannot get anywhere else? I see two significant possibilities here. One is that you are learning and doing exactly what you need to be, and you know it. Your chosen work has taken you through the vortex to a state of mind and experience — particularly of community — that you always knew could be true. The other potential is that where you are, you don’t fit in, and it’s getting extremely painful. Maybe you possess a quality unique to Virgo (and often Pisces) that grants you a high tolerance for pain, and enduring unacceptable conditions. I suggest you leave that talent in the dustbin. There is only so much pressure to conform that you can really stand. There is only so much of this that the world needs. Over the next few days, the intensity of your calling is going to get stronger. If you are feeling that now is the time that you must do absolutely the right thing for yourself, please make that choice.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
You are starting to take your own life personally. This is a beautiful thing. You have an odd way of taking your own life impersonally, as if you’re trying to balance your own existence against that of the world around you. In a sense, your typical self-assigned role is to assess rather than to participate. The calling to join the dance of experience is stronger than it’s ever been, but you need to take a chance. Obviously, you have figured this out by now. No mental trip, no verbal concept, no architectural design, is going to compensate for your craving to actually dare something you don’t normally have the guts to even consider. I suggest you take the step at a time when it feels like you’re risking something significant. Strengthening ability to take a chance on the unknown, or on the uncertain, is the spiritual lesson deep beneath the surface.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You are melting, and that’s a beautiful thing. It’s about time. It takes a lot of heat to get a Scorpio to turn from a solid to a liquid, and the temperature is just about right; just a few degrees to go. Yet you have to trust that you’re not going to lose your temper, or worse, plunge into a world of emotional neediness that you strive with every cell in your body to avoid. In essence, you have to let go of the fear that you will seem needy and at the same time, you need to be willing to go there. People are more impressed by your human traits than by your superhuman ones. Now is the time to invite people into your most private and personal spaces, and share one of the most precious qualities in the universe — empathy.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Your mind is usually exploding with ideas, but not like this. You need to do something with them — not just run around feeling so very highly entertained. Because of your usual abundance of highly inventive concepts, you typically feel like you can just let them go, because there is another brilliant one coming along. Forget that — you can count on abundance, but not of ideas of this quality. Therefore, use the principle of containment. Yes, try to catch lightning in a jar. Get out your video camera, your digital camera or your ordinary camera…do it naked or dressed, in public or alone…dive into technology and record, record, record. Audio counts — capture your ideas. Then over the next week or so, do something even braver — play them back.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Mars moves back into your opposite sign in the coming days, and makes an opposition to Pluto. Most astrologers you read on the subway will tell you that this is about a clash of some kind, and who knows, maybe something will come to blows. But that’s not the only way you can use the energy. The word direct comes to mind, and yes, many people feel that anything direct is terrifying. I hope that your hard-earned evolutionary progress makes that seem distinctly unappealing. Embrace the energy of face to face. Embrace direct. Let people come to you — leave the door wide open — and be afraid of nobody. This is the point in your life when you can actually afford to have no fear, of anyone or anything. And if you can do that — you can have a lot of fun, as long as you use some of that basic Capricorn common sense.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You are making some enormous discoveries about who you are — but so far, amazing (and frustrating, at times) as the trip has been, it’s like it’s all been practice. Now, discoveries are beautiful, and becoming someone new is beautiful, but I suggest you pay attention to the shadow factor. In other words, not everything that comes up will be about sweetness and starlight. We tend to be a society of people addicted to over-stimulation without risk. One of the ways we avoid risk, on the most personal level, is to avoid the discussion of anything about ourselves that we don’t like; to filter out the emotional level of experience (and all its contradictions) with the more easily crafted mental level. I suggest that you go willingly wherever your psyche wants to take you. I suggest you make a vow that there is nothing in yourself that you’re unwilling to look at see, feel, or experience. You crave freedom — this is one of the first things you need to do, if you really want it.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Keep stoking the flames of your imagination. Your life is interesting and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But the furnace that’s pumping out all the heat is that place deep in your psychic sphere that only a Pisces really understands. It’s where you access your deeper self, soak up the energy and bring in entirely new visions for yourself and for the world around you. There’s plenty to occupy you in your waking life, and as a result, you might forget to keep looking behind the veil. I assure you, not only is your inner world equally interesting, it’s also currently the spawning ground for a new generation of creative projects, erotic journeys, friendships and mystical revelations. Envision yourself as free from your inhibitions in tangible ways, then let your vision manifest.

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