Three Conversations We Need to Have

This view from NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover shows part of “Marathon Valley” as seen from an overlook north of the valley. It was taken by the rover’s Pancam on March 13, 2015.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Mars entered Cancer Wednesday, beginning an adventurous mini-era of astrology lasting through July 1. I introduced the topic in the Monday Morning edition with an article and horoscope based on the Mars transit.

Mars is the planet of desire. Usually associated with maleness, every person has Mars in their chart, so everyone possesses the diversity of traits and qualities that Mars can present, including various shades of urgency, need, desire, assertiveness, anger, aggression, and motivational drive.

The features that we see on Mars are due to its geological history, but the color of its atmosphere is something that’s highly dependent on how, when, and where you look at it. It can vary from yellow/brown to red to blue, depending on a variety of factors. NASA/JPL/Cornell/USGS, Mars Opportunity Rover.

Particularly in a competitive, market-driven society, developing one’s Mars is an essential part of the skillset necessary for survival. In a conversation some time in the early 2000s, the great Lois Rodden, the astrology profession’s birth data master researcher, said astrology was wrong in its belief that Mercury is the money planet. She said that it’s Mars, because it takes drive and motivation to earn money.

We are about to take a ride on Mars. Entering the cardinal sign Cancer, it’s about to make aspects to many planets located in Aries, Libra and Capricorn.

These include Chiron, Salacia, Eris, M87 (a galaxy whose black hole was recently photographed), Makemake, Logos, Pholus, Quaoar, Saturn and Pluto. That’s a lot of contact, and they are all squares and oppositions, some of the most potent aspects known to astrology. Given the nature of these minor planets, and Chiron in particular, this set of transits should come with a trigger warning.

Three Phases of the Mars Transit

Mars in Cancer will go through three approximate phases, two of them in May (happening now) and a third in mid-June. I am going to go light on the technicalities to keep this commentary accessible to those who don’t follow them, though I’ll mention the planets involved. For those following the Monsanto case involving Roundup, I will mention that at the end, and then on Sunday’s Planet Waves FM.

Tracing one’s ancestry is all the rage right now, though it’s more about collecting people and finding your cousins than doing family-related work. However, it seems some of that would be inevitable once you’re in the mix of the ancestors and their history.

The Family and Ancestral PhaseMars opposite Pholus and Quaoar (two ancestral influences which are now conjunct in Capricorn, the sign of ancestry). This describes the condition of our conversation about family. We know there is an issue with how children are raised, though this tends to come up only in adults who are attempting to address the damage done to them.

Nearly all therapy involves working through parental issues. Some of the best writing on this topic comes from Alice Miller, author of The Drama of the Gifted Child. She writes of most adults, “Without realizing that the past is constantly determining their present actions, they avoid learning anything about their history. They continue to live in their repressed childhood situation, ignoring the fact that it no longer exists, continuing to fear and avoid dangers that, although once real, have not been real for a long time.”

In the same book, she writes: “Many people suffer all their lives from this oppressive feeling of guilt, the sense of not having lived up to their parents’ expectations. This feeling is stronger than any intellectual insight they might have, that it is not a child’s task or duty to satisfy his parents’ needs. No argument can overcome these guilt feelings, for they have their beginnings in life’s earliest periods, and from that they derive their intensity and obduracy.”

In another book, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child, she writes: “I have never known a patient to portray his parents more negatively than he actually experienced them in childhood but always more positively — because idealization of his parents was essential for his survival.”

These are the topics we need to be discussing. One issue here is that how we are conditioned to exist in our families becomes how we are expected to exist in the wider society. Capricorn represents ancestry, family, corporate life and government life.

The Sexual Conversation PhaseChiron and Salacia are in a two-year conjunction in Aries. They will soon be taking a square from Mars. This is an opportunity for a real conversation about sexuality, our individual needs for sexual healing, and how we are going to handle the topic of sexuality within our families and communities.

Image from the Woodhull Freedom Foundation used in this Planet Waves article on abstinence indoctrination.

When slower-moving Salacia entered Aries in 2017, the news became rather salacious. That is how the news treats sexuality: like it’s all porno. Nearly all advertising has to have some sizzle or it does not get a result.

Most Americans and many Europeans today have never experienced comprehensive sex education, or even read a book about sexuality (however, the Netherlands was doing great for a while; also some northern European countries are less uptight than the rest). In the United States, most adults today have either been subjected to “Abstinence Only” indoctrination, or some watered-down version of sex-ed under the watchful eye of the Christians.

Most Westerners do not have a context for discussing sexuality that exists outside of transgression, assault or political empowerment as a frame of reference. Most people refuse to discuss the emotional exchanges involved in sexual expression, even with an intimate partner. Most cannot or will not discuss their actual desires; it is easier to gossip. Most will not discuss the pleasure aspects of sexuality, due to a pandemic of pleasure anxiety.

What we get instead are little five-minute movies (all featuring “amateurs”), nonstop discussion of sexual assault and harassment, and the occasional discussion of sexually transmitted infections. If you tune into Comedy Central at 5:30 am, you will see a long infomercial about vibrators; that is progress but it’s not much.

Here is a potential sticking point, though: while we are all free to honor consent for both men and women, and play with the idea of enthusiastic consent, we live in a time when people are frightened of sex and sexuality, and tend not to have access to the words and concepts necessary to have the consent discussion.

Sexuality Has Roots in the Family

Issues and subject matter around sexuality all have their roots in the family. Most of the worst sexual abuse happens within the family or the household. If you take a slightly wider frame of reference, it’s clear that nearly all children are impacted. Here is what may be the most famous quote of Wilhelm Reich, from his 1933 book, the Mass Psychology of Fascism:

“Suppression of the natural sexuality in the child, particularly of its genital sexuality, makes the child apprehensive, shy, obedient, afraid of authority, good and adjusted in the authoritarian sense; it paralyzes the rebellious forces because any rebellion is laden with anxiety; it produces, by inhibiting sexual curiosity and sexual thinking in the child, a general inhibition of thinking and of critical faculties.”

This is a good place to pause for a moment, before reading the second half of the quotation. This second piece is essential to understand, as Reich proposes that the suppression of sexuality is not about religious moralism, as others argue. Rather, it is about the convenience of the parents, who want “better behaved” kids. To some extent, we were all subjected to this.

Dr. Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957).

“In brief, the goal of sexual suppression is that of producing an individual who is adjusted to the authoritarian order and who will submit to it in spite of all misery and degradation. Initially, the child has to submit to the structure of the authoritarian miniature state, the family, which process makes it capable of later subordination to the general authoritarian system. The formation of the authoritarian structure takes place through the anchoring of sexual inhibition and anxiety.”

This last sentence is the gem. Perhaps write this on your wall: “The formation of the authoritarian structure takes place through the anchoring of sexual inhibition and anxiety.”

The World Crisis Phase. In mid-June, Mars will come in range of an opposition to Saturn and Pluto, and a square to Eris. This encompasses issues in the wider world. The planet is heading for a perfect storm of accelerating climate change effects, their economic impact, and a political crisis in the United States.

It’s not easy for most people to look over the rim of their individual teacup, though with Mars opposite Saturn and Pluto, it will be obvious that we face a problem bigger than what the news is reporting. The deeper issue is the matter of denial, public incredulity, and resentment driving one’s political views. Human societies are eternally famous for their lack of foresight, and for their lack of ability to learn from past mistakes.

Yet on the individual level, so many people are so overwhelmed that to think in terms of “world crisis” verges on impossible. So this is left to political leaders who are busy raising money for their next campaign from the very entities who are causing the problems.

Planet Waves
Rendering of Monsanto’s chart hung over my desk, originally for the cover of The Mountain Astrologer. You can read the whole article here. Digital illustration by Lizanne Webb.

The Monsanto Verdict

On Tuesday, a jury awarded a $2.055 billion verdict in favor of a couple in California — Alberta and Alva Pilliod — who proved their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by long-term exposure to Monsanto’s popular weed killer Roundup, known generically as glyphosate. In March, Edwin Hardeman was awarded $80 million after he proved to a jury that his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by Monsanto’s Roundup. And in August 2018, a California jury awarded Dewayne Johnson, a former groundskeeper, $289 million in damages after getting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from Roundup — the first case of its kind. The jury found that Monsanto “acted with malice and oppression.”

As with many of its products, Monsanto hides its tortious (criminal) conduct by requiring that its products be used. In the case of PCBs, one of its most famous episodes of global contamination, Monsanto lobbied federal regulatory agencies and the insurance industry to make use of PCBs mandatory in the electrical transformers in public buildings — as in hundreds of thousands of public buildings. As it turned out, the transformers routinely exploded and released dioxin. I covered that for Sierra, in case you’re interested in reading the history.

Monsanto’s whole genetic modification program went from idealistic, fraudulent visions of feeding the world, to rewriting the genetic code of its seed to withstand the application of Roundup. When you hear “GMO,” think: contaminated with glyphosate. 

Alberta Pilliod and her attorney Brent Wisner, after the jury reached its verdict this week. To Wisner’s left is Alberta’s husband Alva. The jury found that both got non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma from exposure to Roundup, which as of today is still being advertised on Comedy Central and MSNBC.

In a 2013 front-page article in The Mountain Astrologer, I gave the history of Monsanto and took a close look at its natal chart. This article would make an intriguing, satisfying read for anyone following the Roundup issue.

Here is a larger rendering of Monsanto’s natal and current progressed charts. Note, the time on this chart was calculated by two professional rectifiers working independently of one another, unaware of one another’s work: Ursula Fugger and Larry Ely. Based on Monsanto’s history, both came up with Aquarius rising.

Monsanto’s chart has been under some powerful transits the past few years, and is currently under a whole new wave of transits involving Chiron and Pholus that will last for many years. I was aware that what we are now witnessing was possible, however, having covered the history of Monsanto back to the dawn of the 20th century, I could not bring myself to be too optimistic. Even so, I did conclude my article with this commentary:

The transits “could easily influence Monsanto’s relationship to regulatory agencies and the public that it so often depends on, and may represent an unraveling of its corporate image. Some of this will depend on whether Americans in particular wake up to the questions, the lack of safety testing, and the economic difficulties associated with GMO crops.”

And I concluded: “While there is no way to predict exactly what the Uranus-Pluto square will bring, there are few astrologers who would dare to underestimate its potential power. Those who are working for a sane response to genetic modification, or to stop Monsanto outright, should know that the company is approaching a vulnerable moment, which is an invitation for activists to persist in their efforts.”

I’ll have more to say about this on Sunday’s Planet Waves FM, where I will be joined by world-renowned herbicide expert and Planet Waves editor Carol van Strum.

With love,

Planet Waves Weekly Horoscope for May 16, 2019 (#1246) | By Amy Elliott

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Your ruler Mars is now in the realm of your family and ancestral roots, from where it will form a series of potent aspects to a variety of major and minor planets. As it begins that journey, keep in mind who you’ve become more recently: the personal growth and significant achievements you have gained — and who you are developing into. Certain recollections or people may tend to make you feel as if you’re back in the past, emotionally speaking; remember you’re an autonomous adult, and that you have the power to face them down and remain firmly in the present.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Keep the rational part of your mind in the driver’s seat over the next few days, particularly in any situation where you don’t have all the information you need to solve a question or a puzzle. Emotions may run high, and could interrupt your thought processes without necessarily showing up openly. Be especially wary of fear and of rage, and if you find yourself feeling them, that’s a sign you probably need to slow down and investigate what you’re experiencing, before moving on. There is no rush, and denial will only cause further delays down the line. Be honest and forgiving with yourself, and take what time you need.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Take a pause before deciding your next steps. Some fruits of recent labors are about to make an appearance, and you’ll want to ensure you’ve gathered in the whole harvest before deciding how to distribute it. Some meditation (in the general sense) may be useful in terms of checking in with your more profound feelings, and steering in the direction you’re being called toward. Although you might be tempted to dismiss or avoid such guidance, it’s likely to offer some valuable insights in a way that normal waking consciousness usually cannot. Ideas and viewpoints abound; for a while, try being open to all.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Mars in your sign is likely to afford you access to a wellspring of energy and dynamism, which would seem to be pretty much at your disposal. Embrace it with a sense of adventure. This may mean entering the spotlight somewhat, and being at the front and center of events in a way you might not generally be used to. Yet there’s a side of you that’s all about pioneering and leadership, and it’s these qualities that will support you in the forthcoming weeks perhaps more than any other. Let go of any superstitions, habits or fears that tend to keep you stuck in the same old routine, and spread your wings.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Cultivate your faith in the concept that much in this world is still benevolent and good. This will be especially useful if you can’t currently see how a particular situation is going to pan out; even more so if you are feeling inclined to suspicion or distrust. There may be good reasons for a dose of healthy skepticism relating to some elements of the process; however, you should be in a position to take any necessary precautions without despairing of the whole thing. When in doubt, make contact with your internal compass, and keep an eye out for signs from the cosmos.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Changes in the dynamic of certain friendships or social groupings may well be worth paying close attention to over the forthcoming week. Be cautious of where unseen motives could come into play on specific issues; notice if someone is framing a request or subject of discussion in a particular way, and if that gives you the impression of your choices being limited. You may have more freedom in this scenario than currently appears. Think for yourself, and consider a broader variety of viewpoints, including any instincts you have. Do not allow others simply to persuade you into acquiescence.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — With Mars now in your zone of career and ambition, you may feel energized and inspired to press on with a certain project. Just be careful not to rush ahead too fast; there’s no need to be obsessive about checking every minute unimportant detail every ten seconds, but at each stage make sure you are clear to proceed before doing so. There may be one or two unexpected hitches, though in any case being organized and prepared will serve you well, and allow you to move at a steady enough pace without essential points of accuracy being jeopardized. This is too important not to get right.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — The power of reflection and (re)consideration in the human mind is a really remarkable quality. While it is becoming increasingly clear that our species is not so markedly distinct from others as previously thought, it’s still an impressive trait. When choosing how to act on received information, it allows us the freedom to adjust our responses consciously rather than reacting autonomically to an instinct or impulse. That power also conveys responsibility: there is an ethical duty of sorts to use what we have and cultivate it. Make sure your higher mind and values are holding the reins this week.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — If you are feeling things rather intensely of late, go easy on yourself, but also be honest about your emotions. Those two concepts really go hand in hand. Denying or minimizing one’s experiences and carrying on regardless is a common enough tactic; yet it may be best if you consider this method as a non-option for now. You need to slow your pace, and take some time exploring the various complex layers of your internal landscape. Among other things, addressing this matter will give you a far clearer sense of what you really owe to yourself, and an accurate location for your lines in the sand.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Some people enjoy immensely the thrill of a surprise adventure, for example, or a blind date. Others are more apprehensive. Yet every new experience involves some element of the unknown, and these can be immensely enriching to our lives. A loved one or close friend may have some ideas or plans that could open your eyes to an entirely new perspective. Taking this up may require you to muster some courage; however, your horizons should grow exponentially. This is probably ideal, especially if you’ve been feeling somewhat stuck in a rather humdrum existence, and in need of refreshment and stimulus. It won’t be lacking.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Keep a check on any tendency you might have to give in to anxiety about certain issues, however pressing they appear at present. The worrying could get out of hand relatively easily. Instead, try to investigate solutions and channel the nervous energy constructively. You can almost certainly achieve a great deal in a small passage of time, if you have the mind to. What you may now view as an irrefutable crisis should, before too long, be revealed as containing far more nuance than is now evident. At any rate, it’s unlikely to present a challenge you don’t already know how to surpass. Have faith in your skills.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Acknowledge the true scope of your creative or innovative abilities, along with the breadth of your accumulated wisdom, and do not seek to impose limits for which you have no tangible evidence, whether by yourself or at the behest of others. That includes not trying to fit inside a pigeonhole. Hold the space of liminality: this is a region rarely occupied at present, and thus an increasingly sacred charge, rather like tending to a stray cat whom no one around appears to feed. In turn, what you discover is likely to inspire and enrich your ideas in a way nothing else quite can. You could, so to speak, wind up with a new pet.

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