The Mighty Equinox

Dear Fellow Traveler:

What a year it’s been. I am personally grateful to have astrology as a metric to understand history, and to see where it intersects with my own life trajectory. Some might say that I’m using astrology to force a measure of sensibility onto random events that really make no sense. But long before I had ever opened an ephemeris, I had read and loved these lines of T.S. Eliot, from the poem Burnt Norton: “We move above the moving tree / In light upon the figured leaf / And hear upon the sodden floor / Below, the boarhound and the boar / Pursue their pattern as before / But reconciled among the stars.”

The September equinox of 1994, the crew of the shuttle orbiter Endeavour recorded this image of the Sun poised above the Earth’s limb (where the curve of the earth meets the blackness of space). Photo: Astronomy Picture of the Day.

All year long we’ve been living through astrology called a grand cross, taking place in the cardinal signs. As described in prior columns, this is made up of many different events, some of which are in the past (a series of Saturn-Pluto squares; a series of Saturn-Uranus oppositions) and some of which are currently unfolding (the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction; the Chiron-Neptune conjunction). This has brought the ever-escalating feeling of tension, drama and near-madness that some people are thriving on, that others are confused by and that others are simply being worn down by.

Kudos to anyone who has the courage to stand up and try something new, to experiment with manifesting a dream, or to make a decision based on something they authentically desire.

While we could say ‘this too shall pass’, that is only part of the point. Mostly, when we go through an extended spell of high-tension astrology like this (the current astrology is rooted in events of 2008, and extends well past 2012, so it counts for ‘extended’), the alignments and what they represent leave us as changed people. It may be nice that what doesn’t kill you leaves you stronger, but only after it’s over. While you’re in the midst of the changes and the challenges, you get to make up the story as you go a long. To the extent that you don’t feel that way, you have the meta-challenge of shifting your perspective from that of passive to active participant in your own life.

We’re about to go through another peak of energy during the next week. This is a fast set of moves, mainly by the Sun and the Moon, which activate, or precipitate, long-standing patterns in the slow-moving planets that make up the psychic backdrop. I’ll go through both for you and give examples of how they might feel in both an individual and collective context.

Next week, the Libra equinox arrives on Sept. 23, simultaneously with a Full Moon in Aries. This is a combination of a solar event with a lunar event. Both involve the Aries Point, the intersection of the individual and the collective. Notice the tenor of the news. Notice the amazing extent of how the political rhetoric is going down everyone’s pants. The party identified with supposedly small, unintrusive government seems more interested in private policy than public policy.

Christine O’Donnell addresses supporters after winning the Republican nomination for Senate in Delaware on Tuesday. She is one of five candidates currently running for Senate who opposes abortion even in the cases of rape and incest. She believes that masturbation is adultery and considers herself a “secondary virgin.” When this kind of purity mentality is injected into political discourse, that has special meaning. AP Photo by Rob Carr.

Here is where we need to put our finger on the pulse of our own responses and reactions. Is it in some way comforting to see someone rise to a position of national attention who has recently admitted in an interview that she would stop all unmarried people from having sex, even with themselves? If you think through what this would mean, brought to the level of national policy, what do you get? And why is this coming to the surface now? What is the feeling behind it?

Now once again we have the Aries Point back in the spotlight. It’s been quite a year of this, and many of the major planets are in the process of ingressing cardinal signs, which emphasizes the phenomenon. The equinox, by definition, is an Aries Point event because the Sun opposes the first degree of Aries. The simultaneous Full Moon is occupying the first degree of Aries as well. We have the clue that something is up, something extra just out of the line of sight is brewing. This equinox-Full Moon is an impressive synchronicity: and it’s a textbook example of the kind of astrology that shakes out things that have been building, accumulating and waiting in the cosmic wings. I am sincerely happy that Dick Cheney is not in power for this one.

In the days before this double jackpot, the late Virgo Sun opposes a rare event in late Pisces — the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. We’ve heard of this one, though we met it last June when it happened in Aries. When slow planets align in conjunctions, they typically meet three times in a little cluster. Jupiter and Uranus meet every 14 or so years. But these meetings come in unusual patterns. The current cluster of three started in early Aries and then is moving back to nearby Pisces. There hasn’t been a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction there since 1334. This is happening when Jupiter is making a close pass to the Earth — great for people with telescopes or even powerful binoculars.

Jupiter-Uranus in Pisces is some of the most creative, inventive, beautiful astrology anyone could dream up. Many brilliant ideas that manifest over the next decade will have their genesis in these weeks. I would love to know what is being invented and what patents are being filed. I would love to know who is meeting for the first time — some of these encounters will result in collaborations that change the world. On one level this is a source of the madness and insanity in the political landscape: the ongoing invention of a fantasy world because the reality we’ve created is too painful. At the same time, there is an idea in there that works: the only thing that’s going to get us out of the bind that we’re in is creativity. Creativity, however, demands clarity. Looking to late Aquarius, we see that Chiron and Neptune are making a near-exact conjunction right now. That is about filtering out delusion and leaving the essence of an idea.

Passengers on the Statue of Liberty — Ellis Island ferry, summer 2010. Photo by Eric.

Here is where the Sun and Moon come in. The late Virgo Sun opposes the late Pisces conjunction between Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, shining some light on the whole circus, or sea of potential, that it represents. At the same time it makes a quincunx to the Chiron-Neptune conjunction, calling for a series of refinements and adjustments as part of the creative process. Then the equinox-Aries Full Moon comes on like a storm the next day, just after the Moon passes through late Pisces and turns Jupiter-Uranus into a triple conjunction. Does something happen? Well, this Full Moon represents a peak of tension and then a sudden release. We don’t get a lot of those lately; more often it seems the tension just builds like a thunderstorm that won’t let go and rain.

Or is that who we are becoming? The times we’re in demand that we hold it together. It’s like we get to fall apart for an hour at a time, at best — then we have to get back on the job. Adults who are managing to pay the bills and parents who manage to attend to their kids have a lot of responsibility on their hands, and everything seems so dire; so crucial.

There rarely seems to be a time to let go, to experiment with moving with the flow. Our relationship to time seems to be increasingly packed into a linear format, even as we hear of new dimensions opening up. For many, their day planner is packed tighter and tighter; everything is planned and there is no room for spontaneity. This is the thing we have to watch: our relationship to time and to potential. Basically, we need to exercise choice in every single moment, and at every opportunity we have.

The planets that are stretched out in this cross in or near the cardinal signs are bringing that tension into each and every one of our natal charts, which means our mental sensation of life. There is a feeling, perhaps in the background, not so distinct or identifiable, but a feeling. There is some sense of urgency implied, and it takes many forms. One of them is a sense of uncertainty about the future.

Whatever you may believe about 2012 or the Age of Aquarius or the rapture, humanity knows that we are passing through a series of energy checkpoints that address issues like sustainability, the ability of our systems to hold up, and our relationship to the Earth and to one another. We need a revelation, but more to the point, we need to allow that revelation to change our relationship to existence.

The simultaneous Libra equinox and Aries Full Moon and the events that immediately precede them are a flash of awareness, to those who are willing to look and see.

Yours & truly,

Battle of the Dueling Narratives Political Waves

The Democrats are in a lot of trouble, depending on whom you talk to. The Republicans will sweep the midterm election, no question about it. The President is a one-term failure, an enemy of the business community. Anger with the establishment has hit a crescendo, and the Tea Baggers have seized the zeitgeist, running the board of primaries and positioning themselves to take over the Congress. Obama’s big-spending government is targeted by those who will stop the hemorrhage of money in unrestrained entitlements, turn back the clock on wasteful programs, and bring back “America’s honor” as Glenn Beck would have it. The Baggers are the wave of the future.

Are Girl Scout cookies brainwashing children with a feminist agenda? Republican candidate says: “Yes”.

Really? Is all of this true? Is any of it true? Are we destined to be a nation led by those who want a repeal of the 14th amendment and absolute adherence to the Ten Commandments, who believe communal bike paths and community gardens lead to socialism and that Girl Scouts are fledgling feministas preparing themselves for abortions? Does the rise of the Tea Party signal the advent of a social order reminiscent of the John Birch Society, or is it just a typical backlash against Democratic politics? In short, is this as bad as it looks?

Backlash yes, but typical, no. We’ve discussed the astrology often enough that you know how critical is this period in history. It’s true that the Tea Baggers are leaving traditional Republicans in the dust at their primaries, which reflects growing disdain of both the establishment and incumbents, considered political insiders. The GOP, who funded the movement to start with, has had to embrace these radicals as their own, leaving their moderates behind. Having fostered the Bagger anger, Republican old-timers are scratching their heads at having lost control of the narrative. They’ve been forced to jump on board this moving train and, as Bill Clinton said recently, this new group of candidates makes George Bush look liberal.

It’s also true that Wall Street has issued an energetic “you’re dead to me” memo to Obama, despite his relatively gentle handling of their corrupt dealings. When progressives curl their lips at the weakness of Obama’s reforms, they should read between the lines of that memo. Obama has pissed off Wall Street. The joyous news that he will appoint middle-class advocate Elizabeth Warren as presidential advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should make big bankers tremble as well. Installing Warren in an advisory position allows Obama to bypass a congressional stonewall of her appointment, putting her to work immediately. If that doesn’t encourage you, my progressive friend, nothing will!

With unemployment growing, the President’s getting no love for his initial stimulus spending, called by the right an unnecessary giveaway and by the left, too small a fix for a gigantic problem. But let’s be fair. I heard an economist say that if you put the recessions of the 1970s, 80s and 90s all together, they wouldn’t come close to touching the depth of this one. Although the stimulus did slow the bleeding of public service jobs and stabilize the economic downturn, it was not calculated for this level of financial turmoil. The systemic collapse of the national infrastructure, both literal and figurative, took most of us by surprise and remains a great sucking hole of need, continually politicized. For instance, new census numbers will confirm a sizeable growth in poverty in the next few days, the result of years of neglect by former administrations. Also in the news, Obama has been able to reduce the deficit by 8 percent this year, while keeping taxes at a minimum. Which do you think we’ll hear most about?

If we listen to the right on the matter of this election season, it’s all over but the shouting. GOP lightweight and bagman, John Boehner, will replace Nancy Pelosi and lead his happy House majority into a frenzy of repeals, investigations and a likely presidential impeachment. Newt Gingrich foresees the government brought to a standstill, a shut-down much as he orchestrated in the 1990s. All spending except military will simply stop as big government is reigned in. States will have to shift for themselves. Big entitlement programs will have to be dismantled as unsustainable. With banks and corporations bearing no financial burden in this experiment, lest their wellbeing be harmed, the average citizen will have to shoulder the difficulties ahead. None of this, I hear you thinking, is acceptable in a rational world, yet this is the very choice we face in just a few weeks.

Thanks to the Baggers, our choices are evident, at least. Those seeking election make even the Republican base nervous. Karl Rove earned the ire of his fellow conservatives by insisting that homophobic, anti-masturbation, pro-creationist senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell of Delaware has no hope to win in November due to her crazy talk. Palin snapped a tweet his way and the rightwing bloggers went after him, fangs bared, which proves Bill Clinton’s comment accurate. Think of that! Bush’s Brain — the mastermind of the Bushie governmental takeover — is passé in the eyes of this new Republican radicalism. Dubya looks positively moderate compared to this extreme collection of Grand Old Party candidates and the core group that supports it.

There seems to be no opinion too absurd or allegation too mean-spirited to stop this new breed of GOPer’s. When Gingrich calls Obama a con man, after ‘whitey’s money,’ no one on the right corrects him. When Sarah Palin urges her Mama Grizzlies onward, I think Tupperware Party, but a lot of women across the country think Tea Party and growl in unison. Just about anything rightwing candidate Sharron Angle of Nevada says is flabbergasting. Me, I think there’s such a thing as being too damned crazy, and the Republican party has already wandered into that territory, turning its back on serious concerns to embrace the lunatic fringe.

It’s possible that we will see the right implode, failing under the weight of its divisions and infighting. I think their extremism will keep them from taking majority in the House and it appears that the Senate is safe. I’d rather see the GOP fade away due to the poverty of its ideology, but the corporations will never let their own party go quietly. The young, the ethnic, the gay, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free?” The Republican tent has no corner for them. Ultimately, Republicans become more anachronistic by the day. But there’s not much Obama can do in the next few weeks to push back against the rightwing rhetoric, especially with unemployment numbers so dire. He’s stuck with trying to sell us the message that things could get a lot worse.

The obvious need of the moment is to get out the vote, but the kids and independents that put Obama over the top last time won’t be with him this time. There’s a lot of energy being produced by the disenchanted on the right, and not much showing but discouragement on the left. I understand that feeling. But if we don’t do all that we can to support viable candidates, we may find ourselves with two years of this and this and this. Perhaps that would be the kind of cause/effect that would put the final nail in our old paradigm politics, but it sounds like the kind of painful exercise we all want to avoid. So encourage everyone you know to examine the issues and get out the vote. Tell them things could be a LOT worse, that they could be looking back on George Bush with affectionate longing. And tell them you’ll drive them and their friends to the polls.


Weekly Horoscope for Friday, September 17, 2010, #831 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Aries Confidential

You may not understand what is inspiring or motivating you, but I suggest you go with it. Over the next few days, the sky heats up to a fast boil as Jupiter and Uranus form a conjunction in the angle of your chart associated with your dreams and your imagination. Then comes the annual Full Moon in your birth sign. The result feels like a lightening of a heavy relationship situation that you have vowed many times to adjust or move on from but which has been more persistent than you imagined it would be. You can create a hybrid of honoring the responsibility and commitment of relationship while opening yourself up to the potential that comes with authentic contact. The catch, if you want to call it that, is that this might not arrive in the form that you think, or with the person you think. Plenty of things work better than expectations.

Taurus Confidential

Several developments next week will bring some relief from the convoluted mental and emotional experiences you’ve been through for the past month. The good part is that you got a look at where your creative energy goes: into needless obsession. Part of this was obsession with the past, or involved getting waylaid in some of your less-appealing childhood traits. You actually do have the power to be forward thinking, but I suggest you ask yourself if you really want to be; that is, if you think you’re sacrificing anything by letting go of what you believed yesterday or this morning. It won’t be your beliefs alone that make you feel better, but they will help; as the Sun moves into the health, well-being and work angle of your chart, you will shift your attitude and remember that responsibility is something that actually turns you on.

Gemini Confidential

For now, your thoughts come from your feelings; your ideas are the result of emotional impulses, and those impulses are not always correct. For that reason, you need to be careful — the translation process will happen fast, and have results that extend beyond anything you were expecting. For the next few days, I suggest you be especially careful what you say or do where alcohol is involved in any way (including merely being present in the environment). Don’t be fooled by the notion that you already thought things through carefully — many factors call not only for rethinking but also for reinvention. Even as the pace of certain events picks up radically into the early part of next week, I suggest you take this rethinking/reinvention process slowly. There will come a moment where you think you’ve ‘got it’ and then you’ll need to run it through the hopper one more time. So — steady as she goes.

Cancer Confidential

Next week’s Aries Full Moon reveals something that has been hidden — for example, how much you’ve accomplished, most of which you forgot about or decided was not important. You chalked it up to experience without quite recognizing that it was actually a work in progress. Meanwhile, events seem to proceed on two fronts: one is some potentially dramatic development, revelation or recognition; the other is a subtler, more introspective breakthrough of thought that is actually more potent than anything that happens visibly. Remember this; while outer developments will no doubt be welcome and bring some recognition for all that you’ve done, the more significant matter involves the way you direct your mind, and how you process your ideas into action. Good things are happening, but the best is yet to come.

Leo Confidential

You are starting to set certain things in order that have been resisting your best efforts and your lack of awareness. You’ve learned to pay attention, and to take action when you notice something needs attention. The decisions you make this week, particularly about your finances, will have effects that reach far into the future, and influence things you’re barely aware of today. So it’s vital that you make those decisions carefully, consciously and most of all, applying the full power of your intelligence. You cannot see all the potential repercussions or outcomes; you can only work with what you know, though your intuition might be telling you something. One missing factor has been a level of cooperation with those who have more resources than you do. You hold one piece to the equation, which is a concept. Someone else, or a group of others, has another piece: resources of a certain kind. Remember that the two are equal, or at least equivalent.

Virgo Confidential

Mercury, which recently turned direct, will be in your sign through early October; this will add up to more than two months of your ruling planet in your sign, including one of the most psychologically challenging retrogrades in recent memory. For the next three weeks, Mercury is going to cover the territory that it has already covered twice — first in direct motion, then in retrograde motion, and now again in direct motion. This is a layering process. That is how nearly all discovery, learning and healing proceed. They are less about moments of huge, dramatic breakthrough and more about gradually penetrating to the core. In a similar way, establishing new patterns, goals and a vision for our lives also happens in a way that resembles layering — the gradual building and development of what you might call inner technique. So take the time to build and grow carefully, intentionally, beautifully.

Libra Confidential

What do you love about yourself? You have some discoveries at hand. Qualities that in the past you may have doubted or thought of as weaknesses you can now consider to be some of your best assets or strengths. Other qualities that you may have previously considered to be your most redeeming assets may be the things you doubt the most. Yet in truth, all of these things make up who you are. The opinions you hold of yourself will change, and it’s helpful that they do; shifting your viewpoint about yourself will help you observe who you are in a holistic way. To be a whole person you need to be friends with all the different aspects of your psyche, or at least be aware of them and at peace with their existence. This is a learning process, and you’re in it now. I can tell you this: at the end of the day, and for that matter first thing in the morning, inner harmony is more important than popularity.

Scorpio Confidential

There is a fantastic dance of Venus and Mars going on in your birth sign right now. Okay, fantastic to some — those who love to visit with their seeming contradictions, for example, or who are curious about the inner exploration of gender. Beneath every discussion of sex, sex role, marriage preference, relationship style, gay or straight, dom or sub is the truth that we contain all of those polarities within ourselves. You don’t hear about this on the news, like you hear about the wild controversies about who in the minds of some should be allowed to get married, and who should not. But many of us know it’s true: a human being is inwardly multivalent. We’re all part man and part woman. We can all experience desire in the form of estrogen, or in the form of testosterone; and more often as is the case, a sublime mix of both.

Sagittarius Confidential

Your fantasies say a lot about you. One thing they reveal is how emotionally driven you are. Nearly every description of Sagittarius that you read will defy this idea; Sagg is supposedly the sign of ‘don’t crowd me, give me my space’, and ‘I’m so detached, I don’t need you’. Which works fine, as long as you forget how prominent Scorpio and Pisces are in your chart — creating the deepest elements of a vast, oceanic sub-personality that is all about feeling, sensation, closeness and contact. These signs are brimming with energy right now. You have Venus and Mars in Scorpio, the angle of your chart that describes your deepest erotic drives, your dreams, your vehicle of escape. And there is a conjunction involving Jupiter and Uranus in Pisces, right on the line where your emotional security meets your desire to take the greatest risks. The planets suggest that this is the time to explore, to envision and to experiment.

Capricorn Confidential

This week, Pluto began to move forward again in your sign, after being retrograde since April. One implication for you is the opportunity to see what you’ve accomplished in your most intimate personal growth. For a while you get to go over territory you’ve covered before, but to experience it in a new way, with considerable experience. Then at a certain point you will enter new territory; you will open up inner subject matter that you haven’t considered in this lifetime, or anyway not for a long time. Remember that you’re setting the agenda as you go, and I suggest that agenda include honoring the pleasure-seeking aspect of who you are. That’s the part that will feed you, motivate you, and inspire you. Pleasure is what nourishes you, and allows you to have something to offer others. So when you think of growth, think of fun. I know this can be a challenge. But it’s a good one.

Aquarius Confidential

You live in a moment of relative freedom and flexibility. Freedom is always relative; it’s always a direct function of how we feel and what we think, not whether we can physically walk out the door. So what, exactly, is holding you back? Well, I would propose that you’re spending more time trying to understand what isn’t true than you are celebrating and taking advantage of what is true. You may also be trying to strike a compromise, but there is no such thing as ‘partial integrity’. So my question is, what would you need to consider yourself in full integrity? There seems to be a question involving a very specific point in a relationship. Not the relationship as a whole, but something precise and challenging in a specific way that you have not necessarily named, or if you have, you come in and out of awareness of the issue. My question is, how much more awareness do you need, and how do you want to get it?

Pisces Confidential

We are now on the verge of an event that has not happened in Pisces since 1334: the conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus. For our world, that is unprecedented. I suggest you let this be a reminder that extremely rare things happen, and that they can happen to you. There will be an element of surprise with this development. But from the dimension of metaphysics, here is something I can offer you. Whether you feel ready for an improvement in your life will count for a lot. Readiness is not about being desperate, but being open. It’s not about feeling you deserve something but rather knowing with all your heart that it’s available. And it’s not about ‘having’ or ‘getting’ but rather about being. So I suggest you practice being the change you want in your life. This can be challenging if you’re feeling challenged, so I suggest taking any steps you can to set that feeling aside and embrace a space of being open and receptive.

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