The Road to Nowhere

Photo by Eric Francis.

Dear Friend and Reader:

ON SUNDAY, Sept. 30, I drove from the Hudson Valley down to New York City and then to Long Island on a mission to visit my parents and collect the bits of my property that were scattered around the New York area.

After nearly a decade of living in many cities and countries, I have decided to make New York my home. When people say I’ve come back to New York, I politely correct them and say I’ve come forward.

Sunday was the first time I had seen both of my parents on the same day since (as best I can reckon) December 1982.

As for being in New York, I was waiting for that moment when it would indeed be about a step ahead and not a step toward the past.

That being said, I think my favorite thing about Kingston is that it’s soaked in Revolutionary War-era history. Second favorite is that I’m living down the street from Chronogram, the magazine which has published my monthly horoscope since 1996. I don’t have to call or email my friends there — I can take a break, walk down the block and visit.

But the past seems to be coming back to me even if I am not going back to it. My mother had a box of dishes and cups for me; they were not from the old days, but she has recently returned after a long and painful absence.

My friend Priya (who blogs daily for was keeping a huge plastic tub of my diaries, poems and notebooks from between 1980 and 1997 (these had previously been stored in Woodstock, where they survived a flood).

My father had two boxes of my published materials, some of them going back to junior high school (including a campaign poster from my run for ninth-grade president), and also various things I had mailed to him over the years when my suitcases overflowed. Speaking of overflowing, these items, as well, survived a serious flood in his basement with minimal damage. Some were the only remaining copies of articles lost when Hurricane Floyd visited New Jersey in 1999.

Among these retrieved collections were many treasures. It was kind of like finding everything that I had ever lost all at once. I still have only been through a portion of it. Memories of entire phases of my life, like distinct incarnations, return to my perception. I open a folder and am handling articles with my name on them that I don’t vaguely remember writing. Others are artifacts of truly stellar moments in my complicated trip as a writer, such as the series of articles that made the PCB and dioxin contamination at SUNY New Paltz a national story in the mid-1990s.

One item was a diary with notes from a dream I awakened to in June 1986; the dream notes are recorded on the first page of the journal, a thick black sketchbook titled in bold stencil lettering, “Wide Awake.”

That was the spring I graduated from SUNY Buffalo. I later learned that in that very month was my Chiron-square-Chiron transit. This is a key life transit that’s usually a time of huge transition (depending on when you were born, it occurs sometime between the ages of seven and 23 years old; kids today are getting it on the far younger end of the scale). It was a tumultuous moment of upheaval and near total uncertainty. At the time, Chernobyl was spewing radiation around the world. From that event, I knew that I would be an environmental journalist, but had no clue how I would ever get there, much less any concrete plan or even conscious desire to do so.

I had also just started A Course in Miracles, and as most people who have done that project know, the first few weeks or months can be mysterious, melting prior foundations of thought as if they were salt in the rain, and leaving you with a strange new perception of the world. Talking Heads had recently released a new album with the song “Road to Nowhere,” including the line, “The future is certain, give us time to work it out.” The drug ecstasy had become available, and my friends and I were experimenting with it.

In the midst of all this, I had a dream. I was sleeping in a room in my last college house that was devoted exclusively to art and sex (real estate was cheaper back then). I was up to the Course lesson, “God is the mind in which I think.” Here is the verbatim quote from my diary, describing the dream that morning:

“I descended past the sound of the rain and the prehistoric birds, past the soft roomlight and your gentle body-mist, past all attachment to madness, and I arrived at a window through which I could see — through which I could see the constellations — through which I could see all that is inside me, through which I could recollect my entire life, the doorway to love, the open window through which I hear the sound of rain and the prehistoric birds, not the perception of things, but knowledge. If this sounds familiar, perhaps it is because it is a universal, a common window through which we all may regard all. In my mind, I sit on the edge, gazing outward…”

There is a sketch of me sitting on this window ledge, viewed from behind, looking out at the stars. I had no idea what an astrologer was at that point, much less that I would become one. But the dream seems to be a direct reference to the story of our lives being written or contained in the stars, and about how I would eventually have the ability to interpret that information. Or, it seems, I did in that moment.

For whatever reason, I had the foresight or presence of mind to record the time of the dream, and 21 years later, I could cast the astrology for the first time. What stands out from the chart is that the Galactic Core is exactly on the western horizon, conjunct to one degree (it does this for just four minutes a day). Whatever is near the western horizon or 7th house cusp is the thing we are relating to directly; the thing we are facing toward.

The galaxy, our home, our island in space (and as for its core, the place that very likely holds the mystery of God), is the astrological image of that window to the stars.

What is interesting about the way the symbol was presented in the dream is that astrology tells our individual stories collectively, and our collective story as a society. This is a key to understanding astrology. The same planets, stars and calculated points describe events and provide information on several levels. We all share the same planets. We are part of one reality no matter how separate we may seem, and astrology is one of the most compelling testaments to that fact.

What is most interesting is the way that the personal and collective levels can intersect. For example, my Chiron square transit, a strictly personal event, arrived with an environmental crisis that redefined the world (Chernobyl) and a moment of deep personal crisis and personal transition (leaving my community in Buffalo, which was in retrospect a community of working artists, writers and musicians — rare to find in this world).

Chernobyl granted me the inner recognition that I would be doing environmental journalism, and by the time Chiron had reached the opposition point in 1994, my environmental journalism had been published around the world. I was also given a (subtle then, less subtle now) clue that I would be an astrologer. That, too, happened in 1994 at the time of Chiron opposite Chiron. These transitions, really, total life metamorphoses, were described years ahead of their manifestation.

We think we have no clue. We walk around wondering what our mission or purpose is. Then, somewhere down the mingled threads of time, we can go through a transition so profound that we forget the old life we were living. At times we literally forget and never remember; including not remembering that we had some visceral, documentable sense of the future way back in the distant spaces we once lived in. We knew ourselves then, even when we thought we did not.

Chelsea Bottinelli




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, October 12, 2007, #684 – By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
The time has come to revise a significant commitment in your life. It does not matter whether you are the one who needs a change, or whether you perceive your partner as being the one who does. You’re both likely to be on the same page, or at least reading from the same book. The way to make this change is slowly and consciously. In truth, you will experience a series of what may be perplexing personal developments, and have the opportunity to harness their power through communication. However, the tricky part will be negotiating the boundaries. Whose issues are whose? Who is acting out one role in the relationship while someone else is acting out the other? Be aware that there are several levels of truth and illusion, but most of all be aware of the love you both share.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
Be alert to people delivering the opposite message — or to yourself receiving a straightforward message backwards. This is an ultra-simplified way of saying you need to allow your interpretation to change on an ongoing basis, and allow people to revise their own thinking just as often. This is a good policy any day of the week, but for you it’s particularly important because your life has entered new territory for the first time in ages. This is a daring space, with many opportunities to experiment. Yet it seems like there is something daunting hanging over your head, perhaps a situation involving authority, commitment, or the need for structure. It may involve a limit that you run into. The central question, as always, involves how to make that work for you rather than against you.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
For a long time you seem to have been reaching emotionally for a certain kind of relationship. Now that you’ve come closer to it and have become acquainted with your feelings relating to this person, you are likely to be reconsidering everything. Check whether your hesitation involves the concept of the relationship or the emotional position of the individual you are considering encountering more closely. In any event, seeing things from both sides of the street is healthy, if you ask me. At a certain point we do need to dive into a situation to have any idea of what it really contains. Yet an important aspect of “readiness” is knowing ourselves well enough to have a sense of where we really stand — with ourselves, and then with the world around us.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You’ve embarked on an unusual quest that will take you deeper into the core of your erotic nature. For you, Mercury retrograde in Scorpio is about investigating the deepest qualities of your sexual nature, which in turn will give you access to your creative essence. For some, the connection between what is erotic and what is creative is difficult to see. For some, it is perfectly intuitive. You can get out of your own way by giving yourself space to test the theory. Dive into your sexuality, first as a personal, inner phenomenon, and then as something you can share. I would caution that you may need to violate some form of appropriateness to do this. You need to cross a boundary, break a rule or do something that satisfies you in a way you have simultaneously always wanted, but have also been afraid of. Then, witness the long-term results in the part of your life that you call art.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but these days you need to pick both with equal care. Meanwhile, I suggest you make a note not to worry if anyone in your social circle is acting strange, or if you seem less popular than usual — particularly if the subject matter involves money. Someone is going through their own personal transition; you are getting some practice taking a realistic view of life, and also finding out the role that you play in your community. Currently, your astrology is arranged in a way that may lead you to take things personally, indeed, rather emotionally, but I propose that there are more creative ways to respond.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Imagine if people really felt free to change their mind. Imagine if you felt free to change yours. In many ways you are a flexible person, willing to adapt to your changing environment. On another level, you have a tendency to back yourself into a corner and get hooked on fixed ideas. These seem to change only when you’re forced by circumstances or irrefutable evidence. In a sense, you are so accustomed to change that you tend to cling to any opportunity for stability, even if that involves clinging to ideas whose time has come and gone. Then there are those times when you let go of an idea, certain that it has in some way failed you. As Mercury stations retrograde today, look for both kinds of circumstances; that is, opportunities to change your mind and to change it back.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
You need to carefully review and most likely revise a financial agreement with a close partner. Catch the situation now and you’ve caught it in the nick of time, before any unrealistic expectations are set in stone. You have been entirely too willing to succumb to the values of someone you care about, and not willing enough to see your own needs or your own side of the story. Don’t pull out of the arrangement in a lurch; rather, suggest that some of the other points of the discussion, such as the ones you know about but have not said anything about, get some air play, and expect the process to work itself out through the first week of November. Be clear that you are still interested (assuming that you are). Be aware that you have some thoughts you don’t quite have the words for yet, and be aware that these involve some of your most deeply held values.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You seem to have stopped short of a blatantly jealous episode. You also seem to have become aware that love cannot be sized up on a score sheet, like a game of bowling. Most of all, you seem to be noticing that while people can’t fit your idea of an ideal partner or even prospective partner, you have the ability to back off a little and give them room to be who they are. That, in truth, is the person you need to love. And if you will pay attention, you will notice a couple of things: the person or people you care about the most are going through a profound transition right now, and could benefit from your compassion and wisdom. Second, someone who you typically view as a lover or love interest is genuinely your friend. Make sure you respond by genuinely being theirs.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You are certainly seeming quite mysterious to the people you care about these days. They cannot fathom you, and you may have the idea that you cannot fathom them. Even though there’s little you can do about this for the moment, I suggest you be aware that people may have the sense of being lost in your world, or lost in your creative process. And to put it mildly, they don’t know where they stand. Sooner or later you’re going to surface again and re-adopt some of your affability, but until that time comes, you might want to take some time to check in, and invite others to do the same. It’s pretty good timing, anyway, because there are imminent professional developments for which you could make very good use of the assistance of your friends — if they knew you need them.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
I am always uncomfortable when, in a horoscope for Americans, I push the issue of something international unfolding in the stars, because we don’t tend to be people who have much to do with those in other countries (the Internet has helped us break out of our mold). However, the focus of your chart is precisely that: something from abroad or at least from far away, which seems to be coming to visit you or which you are going to visit. This is a real meeting, and a beautiful one. You can safely disregard age differences, differences in the perception of power, and any minor flubs that enter the picture: inconveniences, delays, lost items in the mail, or whatever. Focus on the soul of the meeting; the spiritual interior; the mystery of who you are, now being revealed.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Never underestimate what brilliant possibilities can become real. Never underestimate the power of your friends to help you make your life exactly the way you want it to be. The true gift is the feeling of being supported by your circle of friends and loved ones, which to an Aquarian is the experience of living in a friendly cosmos. Anyway, people around you are capable of things you would scarcely believe if I told you what they were. Fear not that some minor career plan seems to have come off the rails. You will be grateful when you experience what develops over the next couple of months, and at the moment, you can use your free time to be just that — free. While you’re at it, walk around saying “Good things are coming my way.” Don’t mumble, speak.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
A partnership situation has been taking its sweet time finding its way into a form you understand. Currently, it is going through a transformation that will help you clarify the issues and figure out where you really stand with the most important people in your life as they figure out what it means to be them. It will also provide you with some of the deeper nourishment you’ve been craving for so long. Remember that everything and everyone are in flux. Yet there is a discernable rhythm to these developments, because the planets always move in a way that makes sense once you look at it carefully enough. Here, I can offer a clue: there seems to be a dichotomy between your emotional and erotic needs; and between these needs and your concept of what a relationship should be. Make sure you’re open and real about all of it.

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