The Return of the King

Dear Friend and Reader:

So — what happens when you inaugurate the president with the Moon void of course during Mercury retrograde?

The long-awaited official waving bye-bye to the Bushes. Photo by Saul Loeb.

Naturally, you have to do it over again. After all that astonishing fanfare, the real kind with trumpets and flags, along with $125 million spent on the swearing-in ceremony attended by some three million spectators, Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the presidential oath of office. He came back to the White House the next evening for a redo, just in case anyone should doubt the reality that Barack Obama is indeed president.

If you’re an astrologer, you just laugh at this kind of thing, because the irony is so beautiful. The void Moon is famous for developments that don’t quite count; and Mercury retrograde is renowned for whatever you’re doing needing to be done over a couple of times. Garbling up the time-honored oath had that distinct quality of both factors, in addition to being a beautifully human moment amidst all the circumstance and pomp.

I doubt that our government leaders were consulting an astrologer, though one might have told them to try again, if only for ceremonial purposes. We might even want to do it a third time once Mercury is direct (if that happens, then you know somebody was reading their horoscope). Personally, I find it reassuring that Mr. Roberts, not my favorite jurist of all times, was concerned enough about the proper functioning of the Republic to hop his armored limo across town and take care of the mistake.

Meanwhile, as an aside: my own and many people’s favorite image of the day was seeing Dick Cheney being wheeled from the White House after the ceremonial coffee with the Obamas and the Bidens. I wish no ill or pain on anyone, though if you appreciate visual symbols, it was special to see the perpetrator himself unable to end his term under his own ambulatory power. That he left office a cripple after inflicting unimaginable pain on so many others added a dash more poetic justice to the day, as if there was not enough.

Hell on Wheels. Soon to be former Vice President Dick Cheney arrives in a wheelchair for the inauguration of Barack Obama. Photo by Saul Loeb.

Associated Press reported that Cheney hurt his back while moving boxes into his new home, and that his doctors recommended he take some days off his feet. Sounds innocent enough. The thing is that aristocrats, and even many ordinary people who can afford movers, never move their own boxes. Certainly the vice president of the United States, with an all-expenses-paid executive move, would not, under normal circumstances, need to lay hands on cardboard.

But nothing about Dick Cheney would qualify as normal. We can imagine what they were boxes of. Something heavy, since he pulled out his back; maybe it was grandpa’s porno library or rock collection. Or perhaps these were boxes of potential evidence. That is to say, paperwork so secret nobody else except the vice president himself could even touch it or know about it. The funny part is, he didn’t get to finish the job himself; somebody ultimately did touch those boxes, and thanks to that wheelchair, we all found out about their existence.

In any event, or rather many, many events, I hold it as a miracle that the Republic withstood the antics and criminal activity of what is widely regarded to be the most corrupt administration in United States history. It may simply be the miracle of the foresight of the Framers, whose invention of a government works pretty good, or the authors of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which limits anyone to holding the presidency more than twice after FDR’s four terms of office.

The Second Swearing-In Chart

Under normal circumstances, the new president takes office at noon on Jan. 20 after a November election, regardless of when the oath is taken. Still, common sense suggests that this is a chart worth looking at; it represents a rare event in history.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath of office a second time in the Map Room of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009. White House photo.

CNN reported the time of the second swearing-in as 7:35 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 21. [view chart]. That chart puts the Moon solidly in Sagittarius, and it’s doing something interesting: coasting past the Great Attractor, a very, very large thing broadcasting on every frequency except visible. It’s located in the middle of Sagittarius. The Great Attractor magnifies, it retreats and it has effects far beyond what can be seen, I think beyond perceptible space and time.

The Moon is conjunct a centaur planet, the next one after Chiron, called Pholus. This critter, discovered in 1992, accelerates events and gives them an irreversible property. Pholus is also about how we react to a famous person. Many people are indeed doing just that right now; we have our first president since Kennedy who is actually part of celebrity culture, or who can work those memes as well as Madonna.

And Pholus, even without the Great Attractor right there, is driven by curiosity. There is the question, “What would happen if I/we____?” Is it possible that this question could catch on?

To this, add the Great Attractor and the Moon, with Pholus at full strength in Sagittarius and the Moon like a condenser of the energy. In a public chart, the Moon is a significator for The Public, that odd entity that at once exists and does not exist as a distinct thing. Is The Public more reactive than it seems right now? Like, a lot more reactive? Is it absolutely ready to ignite, come alive, sense its own existence? We’ve become so accustomed to The Public sleeping through one atrocity after another that a lot of us have forgotten that it even exists.

For example, I wonder, how could we have that astonishing day of action on Feb. 15, 2003, protesting the imminent invasion of Iraq worldwide, and not have that evolve into a protest movement to stop the war once we were unable to prevent it? That was a brilliant day, then The Public went home, took some Nyquil and slept until the first week of November 2008. This Moon looks like The Public is currently in that supercharged pre-quantum state. This, as Chiron approaches Neptune in Aquarius, is to me the ultimate emblem of the anesthesia wearing off.

In the second swearing in Virgo rather than Taurus is rising, which is interesting because Mercury has moved retrograde from Aquarius to Capricorn. This is deep thinking with a mind for understanding how similar problems were resolved in the past. By contrast, much of the sky is about Aquarius now, a fitting image of an idea making process; and of group initiation. And it describes three million people braving long bus rides and scant few Port-a-Potties in freezing temperatures to participate in our pluralist administration taking over; to participate in history. Maybe it was to personally witness the end of the Bush nightmare. On the 20th, Aquarius was home to Mercury, the Sun, Jupiter, the lunar North Node (and hence an imminent eclipse), Nessus, Chiron and Neptune.

Sun conjunct Jupiter, the big jewel at the middle of this alignment, illustrates the people’s king. Both the Sun and Jupiter can have a regal quality, particularly when combined; Aquarius grants Obama and indeed our whole moment of transition the common touch, the quality of accessibility, and the feeling on some level that we all get to participate. The astrology and the feeling of the moment have a mythical quality, the sense of something larger than life. Jupiter conjunct the Sun in Aquarius (precisely aligned Friday) certainly emphasizes the point.

The Restoration of the Monarchy

In a sense, we have witnessed the restoration of the legitimate monarchy, in modern democratic style. No doubt Obama was actually elected. We not only saw it, and took part, but we felt it happen. Most of what I know about monarchy, nobility and their relationship to maleness and the stability of society, I know from J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings.

Shadow Self. Photo by Sean Hayes.

The Lord of the Rings opens in the time before the king; indeed a time when nobody even remembers when there was one, and gradually chaos and evil are setting in across the lands as a result. It’s the story about the valiant deeds by a few men who reclaim their sense of mission, some reluctantly, in the face of hopelessness. These actions lead to the downfall of evil and the restoration of order.

Being a symbolist, the feeling I get from reading this book over and over is that the monarchy is an inner quality, and that the “king” represents the restoration of the principle of sane maleness. It is an organizing principle in the psyche.

Indeed, we have been accustomed to anything but this quality through the Bush years, when our primary male exemplar was a mass murderer who so distrusted his own people that he had to spy on them. Bush of course was never a legitimate president. Had he been, things would not have gone so badly. He would have had some debt to the people who put him in office; I think it would have been difficult for him to express less sense of responsibility than we witnessed during his eight-year tenure. As for Dick Cheney, I can barely imagine the sight of his face without seeing blood trickling from his mouth. And to think they were elected on a platform of morality.

Their predecessor, Bill Clinton, could not control that most distinct element of maleness, his penis, and so fell into a political trap set by other men who had not addressed their own sexual shadow. The ensuing impeachment stood out as an enormous guilt and blame fest, where maleness itself was once again trumped up to automatic perpetrator status and put on trial before the Senate and the world. Again and again during the Bush years, people asked: if Clinton could be impeached for sex, how is it that Cheney and Bush can’t be impeached for any one of their hundreds of war crimes, or crimes against the people? Unless you understand the history of where sex meets politics, you are unlikely to have an answer for that.

When you have this kind of condition, you have psychic anarchy. All men take some of the blame, since presumably it’s something about maleness itself that led to this situation. In Tolkien’s version of the world, the royal line fell into dormancy, and the vacuum was filled by the rising of a dark lord who enslaved people and made war on anything good. In our own times, the throne was occupied by a madman. All men are confronted by an insane king, either as something they feel free emulating, or as something they must revolt against.

Obama stands out in contrast to all of our negative stereotypes of black men: the guest appearance on Cops, for example. The new First Family provides us with an archetype (rather than a stereotype) of a healthy, balanced household — something that the Republicans have been trying to mock and masquerade as for a generation. We now have people who we are treating, and who the media is treating, as exemplars. We have finally decided there is someone ethical enough to emulate.

And at the center of this is Obama himself, who gets the joke. He once said that he fathered two black children, legitimately. I am searching my DNA for a memory of when a dark man took over as king and helped heal something in all the other men. I can get halfway there. I can see the scene from ancient history or legend, but I cannot dial it in fully. Within our own culture, this healing would come, in part, in the form of connecting with something in the psychic coding of less-dark men (such as Europeans) who are documented to project their own personal shadow, and cultural sexual shadow, onto darker men, often viciously.

That phenomenon helps explain the Holocaust, our own society’s outrageous treatment of Muslims and its disgraceful treatment of African-Americans, an astonishing percentage of whom are on the inside right now, that is, in jail. (This treatment of darker people was deconstructed in detail by Dr. Wilhelm Reich during and after the rise of the Nazis.) We still need to watch this phenomenon of dumping our toxicity onto darker people. It appears to be traveling with the human condition with the dependability of owls, rats, cats and dogs.

What we need is an image of the king’s virility and fidelity to his own intentions, and this we seem to have today. Obama, by his being, is making it respectable to be a man and show respect for humanity; to portray sincerity and humility. These are traits which one must grow into, rather than learn.

Bridge. By Susan Madsen.

Beyond the game of politics, his respectability will gradually have an effect on our culture, which has taken on a reputation for callousness, stupidity and shame during the last two presidential administrations. This effect will be true for African-Americans, who have never really been allowed to ride at the front of the bus, and for people of European descent who have long been accused of holding them down, even if we’ve had no part in this.

We are fast entering a time when we need a strong male exemplar to lead our society. We are, like it or not, a patriarchal society, and the patriarch we look up to therefore has a special role: to ground the sanity of the nation.

We are entering times of profound reorganization, change and upheaval, of which Obama’s presence is emblematic, and through which we will need strong, sane, clear-headed leaders whose voices we can listen to without cringing.

Through 2010 we are experiencing a series of Saturn-Uranus oppositions, an aspect that is progressive, confrontational and destabilizing. These are impressive even as a warm-up act for the truly profound astrology that develops into 2012. Indeed, by the time Obama is seeking his second term of office, three more outer planets will have changed signs, the Uranus-Pluto square will be exact for the first time and the birth contractions of society and indeed the world will be palpable.

To some, they are today.

Obama is the first president born with Pluto in Virgo, quite literally representing a new generation. He was born in the run-up to the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions of 1965-66, close enough to have revolutionary energy vibrating in his natal chart. We are now in the opening moments of Uranus square Pluto, the next major phase of that cycle.

Rick Tarnas notes in his astrological history Cosmos and Psyche that people born with a Uranus-Pluto alignment are likely to be the ones who take part in the events of the next alignment. While I do not know Barack Obama personally, I trust that he is quite aware of the societal karma to which he is heir. His call to service — with its distinctly Virgo energy — is a message to all those born in this generation, from whom we have heard remarkably little so far.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

Eclipse of the Sun in Aquarius Monday

We are in an eclipse moment. The first of two, an annular solar eclipse, occurs overnight Sunday to Monday at 6+ Aquarius. [Here is NASA’s official page on the eclipse.] This degree has a fun Sabian symbol — a child being born out of an egg. Humanist/composer/astrologer Dane Rudhyar describes this as “the emergence of new mutations according to the great rhythm of the cosmos.”

Bob Dylan summons us to awareness in the early 1960s.

Apparently, evolution occurs faster than the kind of endless, gradual incremental slide that we think of it as. New forms of life, inluding physical forms, are born into existence at surprising moments.

The eclipse is conjunct Jupiter in Aquarius, which offers projection and suggests that our moment is about a radical change in public attitude, values and mental patterns. With Mercury conjunct Mars in Capricorn, this may be occurring more quickly than we’re expecting.

As I have mentioned a few times, this eclipse is reminiscent of an event in February 1962, nearly 47 years ago, which seems to have had an influence in sparking off the 1960s. Both charts have something else in common, which is being close in the approach to a major Uranus-Pluto alignment. This long cycle, which repeats about every 121 years and has four major turning points, is now at one of its hot spots. It also was in 1962, and by some coincidence when The New York Times was founded in 1851 (please see story below for details).

We are now in that moment right before the revolution, though there are many sensitive types, and those open to the energy, for whom it is happening at what feels like full strength right now. But behold, the pace accelerates as these days, seasons and years unfold.

Eclipses are pattern setting times; which means they are the times we can let go of old modes of existence and establish the new ones that we want to live by. With so much emphasis on Aquarius, this includes our modes of relating to groups, the conditioning patterns of our friends, our sense of community and expanding our need — it is a need — to participate in the world in a meaningful way.

An old fog is lifting: you could call it the fog of group self-delusion. Consensus reality is changing, but that can only be the result of a the consensus itself changing. There is a place for you as this happens; there are people for you; there is a time for every purpose, including awakening.

Old Grey Lady Gets a Sugar Daddy

She might be 158 years old, but she’s still a hot date: The New York Times, that venerable Grey Lady, is getting a new lover. Carlos Slim, with a net worth estimated at $60 billion, became involved with the Times on Sept. 10, 2008 when he purchased a 6.4% common-stock stake in The New York Times Company. This made him the largest stockholder outside the Ochs-Sulzberger family, owners of the company since its inception. Until now, the Times has remained one of the only family-controlled major newspapers left in print.

Carlos Slim’s father, Don Julian, opened a dry goods store in Mexico City that was worth over $100,000 in 1921. Don Julian gave all his children allowances and a savings book so they’d learn to manage their income and expenses. Photo courtesy of Carlos Slim.

Monday, Slim assisted the Times with its $1.1 billion debt, providing a $250 million loan. His second cash infusion in only a few months has tipped off observers that Slim may be headed for an outright takeover of the newspaper.

Commencing publication on Sept. 18, 1851, The New York Times has a reputation for a buttoned-down style. Venus is conjunct the Sun in late Virgo, which bestows this aura of propriety despite the many news reporting scandals the newspaper has endured since the early 1990s. What is interesting about the Times is that it commenced publication under some of the most revolutionary astrology ever documented, the Uranus-Pluto conjunction. Similar astrology opened the way for the French Revolution, the 1960s and many other eras in history characterized by surges of progress.

The Times also has Saturn in the mix. The conjunction of 1851 was actually a triple: Saturn, Uranus and Pluto are clustered in early Taurus, so there is a strange mix of reactive conservatism and revolutionary idealism. The Times has often embodied this psychic division, which is illustrated a second time in the chart by the Gemini Moon (for centaur fans, this is a Gemini Moon conjunct Nessus).

Pluto in Capricorn is now precisely trining the Times’ Saturn-Uranus-Pluto conjunction, a suitable enough image of a door being opened to restructuring, modernization and new life.

Slim was born and bred in Mexico City. His father moved to Mexico from Lebanon in 1902, skipping the Ottoman army draft. Four of his brothers were already residing in Mexico, one of whom brought the first Arabic printing press to the country, and founded one of the first Lebanese magazines in Mexico.

Slim made his fortune in communications when he bought Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex), a fixed-line operator (as opposed to a mobile line, where the connection is wireless). Today, 90% of telephone lines in Mexico are operated through Telmex. He has amazing foresight when it comes to investments; he bought 3% of Apple stock right before it came out with the iMac in 1998, for example. He attributes this luck to information. He is versed in the work of his friend, the futurist/humanist Alvin Toffler, whose work explores digital and communication revolutions.

As the world gradually moves into another phase of potent Uranus-Pluto astrology, the revolutionary side of the Times, under Slim’s influence, may yet make itself known. But after enduring the fraudulent reporting of Keith Schneider in the 1990s, Jason Blair a decade later and other problems in between, longtime lovers of the newspaper would be grateful to have an extended phase wherein the newspaper became known for telling the truth.

Mercury, Punk’dster, Strikes Again

On Jan. 11, as Mercury turned retrograde, Czech concept artist David Cerny punk’d the stodgy Council of the European Union. His joke? A 2,760-square-foot model kit-like sculpture that depicts the 27 EU countries with ironic, politically incorrect stereotypes: France is on strike; Sweden looks like an IKEA flat-pack; Britain is missing altogether. Bulgaria is a patchwork of Turkish squat toilets and Italy is covered in soccer players who look as if they’re masturbating with the help of soccer balls.

The piece, sardonically entitled “Entropa,” was commissioned to celebrate the temporary Czech EU presidency. Twenty-seven individual artists would illustrate the theme “Europe without barriers.”

But Mercury the Trickster had other plans. The underfunded and over-ambitious EU plans inspired Cerny and his colleagues to secretly change the plan.

To complete the postmodernist joke, Cerny’s team created a brochure, complete with 27 fictional artists and dense mock artist statements. Elena Jelebova, for example, is a Bulgarian whose toilets intend “to cause a scandal, especially at home,” with a “punk gesture, intentionally primitive and vulgar, fecally pubertal.”

The hoax was revealed soon after it’s unveiling. “We knew the truth would come out,” said Cerny to the BBC. “But before that we wanted to find out if Europe is able to laugh at itself.” Bulgaria didn’t: it demanded the Turkish toilets be covered. But the rest of the European countries are — in good Mercury retrograde style — rethinking their assumptions about one another. Which is the point, says Cerny: “Self-reflection, critical thinking and the capacity to perceive oneself as well as the outside world with a sense of irony are the hallmarks of European thinking.”




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, January 23, 2009, #750 – By GENEVIEVE SALERNO

Aries (March 20-April 19)
The secret to having a full life is to be engaged in everything that you do. It seems that while you understand how important passion is for your work, the thirst for liberation is suddenly making the tasks of your calling a list of burdens or reasons not to do what you love. Perhaps now is the time to consider exactly what your calling is. Here is a hint: the search for the gift we all have to offer to humanity is a liberating process by which we learn about ourselves. Do you know who you are and what your powers are? No doubt they are diverse, courageous and commanding in their daring. If you know where to look within yourself to find these gems, they will be even more empowering.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
It’s hard to envision that you are at all similar to the pumpkins in the pumpkin patch when you are the only child there. But there are some things that make you and the fruit of the field related: you both depend upon your sources of nourishment from the world outside, and you both are trying to grow. The effect that you have on the world when you perform the tasks you truly love is one of the most rewarding moves you can make, but lately a sense of fight or flight has begun to spur you. You have begun to realize that there is an intimate link between you and the people who receive your gifts. Whenever you get nervous this week and it’s a situation involving what others expect from you, try to visualize them all as a field of squash. Notice how easily it relaxes you.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Migratory birds know where to go based on the position of the Sun. Right now it seems as though you are receiving irresistible cravings to explore the world either physically through travel or verbally through intense philosophical discussion. In this case, the cues you are receiving are the Sun in its seasonal position and the thought that transformation is due in your own life very soon. When the birds take to the sky, they do it in groups. They have survived the aeons because they can blend their consciousness easily for the betterment of the whole. Indeed, transformation does not come easily if it’s looked at as a solo mission.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
In Chaos Theory, that which appears to be random at first is soon understood to be part of a greater pattern. Your relationships are starting to become very important to you, and as such, the exchanges of information, the sharing of ideas and the desire to be loved and to love have a transformative effect on you now. Your sudden desire to get out and try new things is part of the process of learning the effect other people have on you. This should not be confused with a sign of weakness: as you may have guessed, we are all connected. This principle of relation is the same as the hurricane that results from the flutter of a butterfly’s wing. If you keep this reciprocity in mind, you are sure to get back what you give, doubled.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Sometimes when you feel the closest to a person, it is because you are reenacting an old pattern that no longer fits the situation. When such a situation arises, it’s usually followed by a sudden flash of awakening. Think of those cartoons where the rabbit puts on a dress and some lipstick and fools the hunter into taking him out for a dance. It’s only a matter of time before the hunter leans in for a kiss — and that’s when the realization strikes. Unbounded joy and enthusiasm have a way of blurring little details that tell the true story of change. It is this passage of time that spins the most beautiful story of all: pay attention to the details involved with transformation.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Have you ever noticed that the people who understand the works of certain artists the best are those closest to the artist? The reason for this is the sense of openness that comes from intimate relationship with others. Intimacy does not always involve physical affection, but it does always involve a feeling of risk and honesty. Right now it seems as though you are coming to a realization that you have what it takes to be an honest, creative individual. The more open you are to explaining your choices, the more your relations will understand you. There is nothing to be afraid of as far as judgement is concerned: once you accept your role as an expressive entity everything else is just fuel for the fire.

Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)
When a candle does what it is made to do, it brings light into dark places. When a fisherman does what she loves, her family gets fed. When the weather does what it wants, it brings us inside to change our clothes. Being yourself is the greatest service you can provide everyone around you at this time. Luckily, the boost of confidence you may need to get to that point of honesty is ready for you to access it. When you decide to make the changes necessary to support your decision, expect the unexpected. The process by which you open yourself up involves many doors and windows and the wind is sure to blow some misplaced papers around. Just remember: for some, paper blowing around is a mess waiting to happen, and to others it is a confetti party.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Imagine a person moving into a house and living there for years without exploring each room. If she ever decided to throw a party, she would be very limited in the space she could provide guests. It might even influence how many people she chooses to invite. Right now it looks like you are ready to bust out of the old rooms and find a new place for yourself, fueled by an inner sense of confidence that you can wield like a flashlight into otherwise unlit spaces. Generosity and creativity go hand-in-hand when one realizes the way to a full life is realizing each facet of the personality has a purpose.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22)
One of the best ways to calm yourself down after a particularly hassling experience on the road is to find a place to stay and unpack your bags. Then, one by one, fold each article and put it back in the bag as neatly as possible. This way you learn exactly what you have with you and you come into contact with each part. If the bag was your mind, unpacking it would be a form of mental inventory. Think of what you have done, what you will do and how it brings you a sense of self-worth and inner security. There is much fun to be had in the coming days, but without self-esteem to temper your hand, you could make some reckless choices.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Have you ever tried to sneak up on a sleeping cat? It’s usually pretty hard, but if you can pull it off and do something abrupt, like clap or pop a bag, they just about fly out of their skin. Not only do they wake up, but they get quite irritated. In a way, this is a good image of someone getting too comfortable with the way things are and then getting irritated when something changes. The real purpose of change is not to add spice to your life, but to keep you from forgetting the value of flexibility and to get you to use parts of yourself that may have fallen asleep. When the tune changes, it’s the best time to try out that dance step on which you’ve secretly been working.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
It’s not often that you come to realize self-expression at its fullest. When a series of events occurs that gets your motor running, it coincides with the realization that the garage is a bit crowded with old junk and empty boxes. Give away the things you have held on to for so long — values and objects both. To give yourself lovingly to new experiences is not only liberating, but it’s also the best way to discover which parts of your value system you hold in high regard, and which ones you could do without.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
A certain level of patience is required for the tasks you have before you. There is an old story about a vampire chasing a little child through an empty house. The child had a jar of seeds and when the vampire got too close, the child spilled the seeds onto the floor and ran. The vampire could not move until it had picked up every single seed and organized it by size and shape. If one looked at the vampire and the child as parts of the same entity, what would the lesson be? Sometimes before we can indulge in our most childlike behaviors, we must make preparations, and we must organize our thoughts for the purpose of awareness.

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