Three Lifetimes in One

Dear Fellow Traveler:

The cardinal sign alignment we are living through keeps taking new forms. It really consists of many aspects at once, and at different times different aspects come into focus. It’s a little like using a camera on a wide-open f-stop: everything is in the frame, but only certain things are in focus at once. At the moment, the focal point is now the Jupiter-Saturn opposition, which is exact Monday.

The greatest Jupiter portrait. Credit: NASA.

I haven’t described this aspect in detail: it’s been a bit lost in the news of outer planets Pluto and Uranus. All Jupiter-Saturn contacts are significant — they are the two largest planets; they are the two transpersonal planets, meaning they are the gateways between the inner and the outer solar system, and are like a vast area of collective experience. The opposition is the peak of the 20-year cycle that began in 2000 — it’s like a Full Moon between Jupiter and Saturn.

Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, who after the long dark ages helped turn the lights back on in 20th century astrology, called this configuration “two lifetimes in one.” (Most are familiar with the work of Marc Jones — he created the Sabian symbols.)

There is potentially a lot of stress in the parallel-worlds alignment of the Earth sitting between these two enormous bodies, approximately like a pea in proportion to two basketballs. That’s what an opposition is — the Earth between two planets. Astrology does not always come with a gravitational effect, but in some cases it clearly does. The distance of the planets does not make a difference — they’re out there, having their effect on the physical and astral levels.

With Jupiter-Saturn this can feel like two similar but irreconcilable experiences; being pulled apart in two directions; serving two masters or two concepts; needing to integrate two different ideas; or many other varieties of two realities that seem to compete with one another and which really need to be integrated. The Aries Point is involved — this aspect goes from early Aries to early Libra. Part of the integration is about coming out of our small worlds and making contact with the wider world. There is a wake-up call in this aspect.

Jupiter and Saturn are like brothers — totally the same, totally different. While astronomically similar, gas giants with rings that are like mini solar systems, each represents a different principle, and these are usually seen to be opposite ideas: expansion and containment. Think of humanity, or a person, or the Earth, as a soft pot on a potter’s wheel. The potter’s hand inside the bowl pushing outward is Jupiter — the principle of expansion. The hand on the outside of the wheel is Saturn, providing structure and a sense of necessary limitation. The wheel spins — time moves on — and the pot takes its shape. Right now the Earth, that is us, is sitting on the wheel, being spun around. And man it feels like it.

Saturn from Cassini. Credit: NASA.

Then, we have a third planet within the exact focus of this alignment that is providing a distinct influence — Pluto in early Capricorn. Pluto is square both Jupiter and Saturn. These aspects are currently focused to half of a degree — precise, to a division of the wheel into about 700 thin slices. So, at the moment, we are in three major aspects: Jupiter opposite Saturn; Jupiter square Pluto; and Saturn square Pluto. Uranus is still in the mix, that is true, but it’s about to dip back into Pisces and is out of immediate focus, for now — it comes back into focus later in the year. That’s because Jupiter will soon retrograde into Pisces and there will be two additional Jupiter-Uranus conjunctions, in the late degrees of that sign.

The ‘missing piece’ in the current setup seems to be Cancer, a water sign. Cancer is about nourishment, and our human emotional experience. Cancer is also about incarnation, that is, our collective experience of incarnating as the human race, and the incarnation experiences of individuals. There is a point in Cancer — the South Node of the Moon. That’s telling us about our emotional patterns. I say this because the South Node describes a legacy of the past. It describes what we lean on and where we might be stuck. One thing we must confront is how stuck our emotions can get: how trapped in negativity, in obsession, in self-criticism, in the feeling of not having enough.

Pluto in Capricorn provides a point of reconciliation: the evolutionary principle. If we think of ourselves being pulled in two directions, or experience the sense of polarization — the opposite of integration — Pluto in Capricorn describes a means of focus. Capricorn represents the most materialized version of the material world. When we talk about waking up, or living fully, or being more spiritual, or awakening to authentic sexuality, or living with a greater sense of joy, or being alert to the changes in the world around us, all of those things can be described by Pluto in Capricorn. The word ‘soul’ is potentially controversial, though we need a concept for what it means to make contact with the inner life, the deeper sense of existence, that lives for something more than the crispy coating.

Whatever it does, Pluto tends to drive evolution forward, whether by focusing consciousness or by taking us kicking and screaming. In aspect to Saturn, though, we tend to contract awareness, and struggle in a kind of ‘conservative’ (which means fearful and reactionary) state. In aspect to Jupiter, we tend to crusade, we get hooked into our beliefs, and have this sense of being right. We can just as meaningfully (if not easily) take Saturn-Pluto and make deep adjustments to the structure of our lives; we can just as easily work with Jupiter-Pluto and make contact with the depths of our innate wisdom, what we think of as our ‘spiritual’ aspect, and put it to work in the world, as a matter of inner necessity for growth.

Pluto (center) and its binary companion, Charon. The system also has two known moons, Nix and Hydra. Credit: NASA.

But before we get there, we have to sort out all these seemingly competing realities; these worlds and aspects in parallel. We need to see the theme in a long, long story. Seeing theme is one of the most challenging things to do in art or literature because the theme is what is not necessarily being said directly — it must be inferred, implied from events, observed in patterns.

It is the ‘meaning’ piece of a series of events, or a circumstance; some would call it the ‘lesson’ but it’s more beautiful than that, and life is about more than lessons (which are a crude form of meaning). We are having an experience on this planet, and it calls for something we rarely offer back, which is to see our journey through all these trials and adventures, all these losses and gains, as one experience or journey, along which we evolve and become.

And then there’s the challenging point: to see this prior to everything being all worked out and living happily ever after — that is, to begin to pick up the message in the midst of the movement and the flow and to allow the process of growth and change to become a conscious experience. And with these planets all still aligned with the Aries Point, there is something about waking up and feeling the rhythm and dancing in an original way with the collective. There is something here about not being trapped in our heads. I think that one of the things we fear is that by encountering others, we give up our precious supposed individuality. What we would really lose are the limits of this thing we call the ego, which is a fearful identity concept. We would see, feel and experience the common ground, and in that process actually experience who we are as individuals, making a unique contribution to the whole.

If we’re afraid of losing ourselves, you can be sure we’re doing something other than being ourselves.

Yours & truly,

The Road to Somewhere Political Waves

The Dog Days of Summer are behind us now, and school has begun in many cities even though the hot weather continues unabated. Here in the Midwest we’re into our third week of brain-numbing heat, a steady virtual temperature of 105-115 degrees. The air smells scorched. This is the hottest decade on record and the most uncomfortable summer I can remember, with insect populations and allergens exploding.

Dog Days have nothing directly to do with dogs: they are named after the Dog Star, also called Sirius, which is the brightest star in all the heavens (excluding the Sun). Back in Roman times the Dog Star rose with the sun during late summer and it was believed that it was this conjunction of the two brightest stars in the sky that caused the heat of July and August.

Heat captured by the ocean creates even more problems in the long term. An iceberg four times the size of Manhattan unexpectedly calved in Greenland last week. The Canadian Ice Service will monitor its drift to keep ships and oil platforms apprised of its location. I’m sure it’s been this hot before, I’m sure icebergs of this size have dropped into the sea — I just don’t remember them. Everything feels sharply new and over the top. Our weather patterns are radicalized, and so are our political narratives. An uncompromising intensity on all fronts signals the approach of the next act, come what may. It may take a decade or two. History takes her time.

Speaking of schools, Nancy Pelosi called the House of Representatives back from their summer break to vote on an emergency jobs bill that saved 300,000 teachers, firefighters and police from unemployment. The $26 billion bill got Dem support, but Republicans objected that the money will go to teachers’ unions and the bailout of spendthrift states that can’t balance their own budgets. Think about that a moment. The good of the nation’s school children is hijacked by a political party whose average age is well over 50. Intellectual discussions about bipartisanship don’t factor in the disproportionate age differences. What might an absence of teachers look like in your community?  What would happen to the kids if the teachers weren’t paid? What would the future look like for them or for us? Republicans, who last month let almost two million unemployed citizens hang out to dry, sink to a new low in abandoning the nation’s children.

Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi and likely 2012 GOP candidate, complained that the federal windfall would equal the costs of reconfiguring the state budget to account for it. That sounds like a good conservative talking point only if you ignore the stats on national education, where Mississippi student achievement trails the very bottom of the list. Gov. Barbour appears unconcerned that his fourth-graders are the nation’s least proficient readers, perhaps because Mississippi standards place his elementary students in the top 10%. The federal government sets a national standard, but as Mississippi illustrates, states can and do create their own. Mississippi, patting itself on the back, is a legend in its own mind. This is also true of Texas, which rewrites history to suit itself and continues to toy with the possibility of secession. 

Similarly, Oklahoma compromised women’s rights with a collection of pro-life, pro-Christian laws making abortion all but impossible and access to birth control a challenge. Arizona has split itself in two, charged by the Obama administration with usurping immigration policies considered the venue of the federal government. In my own state, Missouri voted last week to approve Proposition C, making it illegal to mandate health care. This is a first assault on what the Republicans call ‘Obamacare.’ Several other states are drafting similar legislation to test the legal waters.

These and other issues of states’ rights will figure prominently in our future, much as Tea Baggers will show up in our elections. States will tout their own lowered standards, as will radical political candidates who are currently beating back moderate Republicans. Consider this the reactive vote. Federal money that kept the Republic tied to the national coffers disappeared during Bush’s decade of rash spending, leaving local communities to their own devices. Conservatives’ worship of states’ rights spawns the same kind of multiple challenges to federal authority that resulted in the Civil War. A portion of the nation’s voters and a disproportionate number of pundits refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Obama administration, and their radicalism plays out across the country.

In order to buy the Republican talking points, you must believe that government is broken beyond repair because it has failed to achieve what the private sector can produce, especially under an ‘inexperienced’ President with deeply socialist inclinations. You must believe without question that it’s time to get back on board the Fiscal Responsibility Express, driven by newly sober and serious Republicans. Never mind that Reagan’s assault on regulations brought us to this pass, or that Bush’s tax cuts and wars put us in this multi-trillion-dollar mess. Never mind that there’s nothing fiscally sound about corporate welfare, about bankers owning Congress, or about the federal government engaging in privatized war. Never mind that thanks to Obama’s health care bill, Medicare will continue to be fiscally sound through 2029 and Social Security through 2037. The Republican axiom is that Medicare and Social Security are welfare entitlements that must be eliminated entirely.

Our inability to face the truth prevents the kind of financial triage it would take to bring government back into balance. Paul Krugman recently wrote an editorial for The New York Times that spelled out America’s future in bleak terms. Krugman isn’t afraid to speak plainly, and it’s difficult to ignore an article by a Pulitzer winner entitled, America Goes Dark. Krugman deplores our inability to get past political considerations to rescue our ailing nation. From failing infrastructure to flagging community services and chronic unemployment, the challenges to our economy have brought us to a standstill. Without the political will of concerned citizens and legislators, we can’t take steps that have worked in the past to restore us. According to Krugman, a propagandized lack of confidence in government has brought us to this impasse. America is “on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.”

I know that isn’t a projection we want to wrap our arms around. We resist political discouragement on a daily basis, looking for some sign of returning normalcy. We seem to be caught in an epidemic of what actor Steven Weber calls Americide, but perhaps this is just a resting spot to catch our breath. Maybe this isn’t the new road, but the new fork in the road. Whom to trust, when doubt is epidemic? Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust common sense and decency and heart.

Some things are obvious, don’t you think? For instance, in what universe do we not fund our children’s teachers or education? Our firefighters and police? At what point do we no longer take care of each other? That route is the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere. We — you and I — we’re going the other way.


Weekly Horoscope for Friday, August 13, 2010, #827 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Aries Confidential

If you’re expecting someone to ‘catch you’ you may be waiting a long time, or they may not bother. By that I mean that playing hard to get is likely to make you impossible to get, and if you’re seeking the companionship of a particular person, I suggest you reach out to them honestly. You may feel as though you haven’t wrapped up the old story of your relationships and therefore it’s not time to start a new story. But part of the old story involved being impetuous and having that not work so well for you; the new territory (if the word ‘new’ means anything) is cooler, more thoughtful and made of more direct transactions. Your reaching out to someone is not the surrender of your independence, but rather the initiation of a process that could take a few seasons and which, in the end, will have a solid result.

Taurus Confidential

Have you ever asked yourself why you spend so much time waiting? The answer may be some form of being afraid to take chances, which is another way of saying insecure. The part of your mind that is afraid to make decisions is under some scrutiny now, which you may be feeling as pressure. In actual fact, the power of decision is the one freedom we actually have in this world. It is quite a dependable power, true, but I’m saying it’s really the only power. Consider the ramifications of not making decisions, or if you consider the times when making a simple choice helped improve your life even after a long delay. We all know you don’t like being backed into a corner, but then, that does seem to be the one time you can dependably choose from among your options. I suggest, to avoid this feeling, you give yourself a timeframe within which to make any decision that you know you face. But I think you’ll catch on soon — that simple recognition is 80% of the issue: recognizing that you need to decide is the first authentic step in the decision.

Gemini Confidential

What point is there in knowing history? Well, you don’t know until you find out. The deeper question is, “Does what we know actually make a difference?” That depends on who you’re asking. If you ask me, it makes all the difference, especially if we want a future different than the past. For now you may feel bogged in a past entanglement, emotional state or family situation. This, in turn, seems to relate to your health or your mental health. It’s like you just walked into your long-gone great grandfather’s basement, stuffed with boxes, and you have to find the one fact that matters and you’re wondering why. Your impulse for going down there will show its value in the end, but you’re going to discover a lot in the process. The thing to remember is that this isn’t about your great-grandpa or the artifacts of Cleopatra. You’re on a quest to discover something about yourself that speaks directly to a current situation.

Cancer Confidential

How you handle a financial situation involves how you use the resources you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. And you have plenty, despite a recent scare or sense of lack. Remember that your most precious resources are, in order, your health, your energy, your creativity and your reputation. All of these have come under some stress the past week or two, but you are bigger than the situations in your life. The opinions of others are like barking and yelping as compared to your actual reputation, and I suggest you remember this. Your value is not in question, unless you do the questioning, and you seem to be doing plenty of that. I suggest you get off that ride and practice having confidence in yourself. I know it often seems like some magical gift that people have, but it’s more like learning how to rollerskate. Theory only goes so far.

Leo Confidential

The way the planets are aligned, you may wake up to the reality of a situation the moment before it’s too late; that is, just in the nick of time. This is an old story — something similar may have happened at this time last year, and you thought you got the message and moved on. I suggest that, without going paranoid, you scan through the various situations in your life, and look over your desk and your appointment calendar and your bank statements, and make sure everything is in order. Listen to what people say to you and discern whether they’re telling the truth. Be methodical. Start with the obvious and then, as you gather information, allow the process to continue for the next month or so. What you discover will make a difference, and may not only save you considerable trouble in the future — it could be a source of significant profit. But initially, it’s going to look like a problem, to which you will come up with the solution; and that turns out to be an invention.

Virgo Confidential

You have a rare, as in truly unusual spell of Mercury in your sign for more than two months, which started July 27 and ends Oct. 3. This transit seems determined to teach you how many layers and facets of yourself you’re working with, and working through. I trust that you’ll discover the extent to which you intellectualize your existence — that is, use concepts to define who you are, rather than exist and allow useful information and ideas to emerge in the process. Then there is the question of the past and how it weighs on you. There are two turning points coming up over the next few weeks wherein you may make discoveries that key you into how this works and give you an easy way to release yourself from something you didn’t even know is holding you back.

Libra Confidential

You’ve been in some strange territory the past week or so, and more than a fleeting experience, it works out to be a turning point. Consider what you went through, and what you learned, and now consider what this says about your relationships. How do you define yourself based on how others treat you, and how they treated you in the past? On one level, the current phase of your growth involves identifying family patterns and cutting yourself free from them. There is a conscious level and an unconscious level. That’s the most challenging one, because it’s so challenging to bring our awareness to this issue. Here is where astrology meets biography. What’s happened to you in the past week reveals some of what you’re trying to address on the unconscious level. It rose to the surface in that particular drama. And now you know what it is, if you interpret a bit.

Scorpio Confidential

You seem to be at a loss to explain a sense of deep inner disconnect. It’s as if you can’t get both poles of the battery to touch the contacts at the same time. In gender terms, your inner male and inner female are in a standoff, though you might feel it as hot pursuit. Yet can you really pursue yourself? The inner dynamics of this setup are complicated. There is a long history to the situation, and it spans both time and geography. But ultimately, you contain the whole story. That story may come down to: are you trying to get your father’s attention? It may not literally be in the form of your physical father, but rather someone who acts like him, who stands in allegiance to people who are toxic to you, and who doesn’t ever quite give you what you want. I wonder how you would analyze the situation, in that case.

Sagittarius Confidential

Are you torn between two concepts of who you are? Does it feel like you live in parallel worlds? It just might. And there is a catch, which is the sense that if you make a decision of any kind about which you prefer, you will eliminate the other possibilities. Here is a visual that may help you make sense of the situation. Imagine you’re standing in front of a screen, about four meters back. There is a light source behind you, casting opposing shadows on the screen — one to the left and one to the right. Those are the two seemingly different concepts of your life that you’re struggling to get into alignment. If you turn around and face the light, you will be surprised to see that both shadows are from one source, not two. That is what is important to you. By important, I mean the most meaningful. It will have different expressions at different times, but those expressions are rooted in the core idea of your deepest values and desires. Look into the light, not the shadow.

Capricorn Confidential

If you’re dealing with the government, a large company or with anyone in a position of authority, remember that you hold most of the cards; you have the influence. Therefore, allow the other person or entity to make the moves, then you respond. The situation is going to come into focus over the next week and a half, and how much power you have will be abundantly clear. The key is to not fight yourself, and not give in to your fears or your insecurities. This is the true test of leadership, and the basis of the kind of psychological autonomy that is rarely spoken of in our current era of consensual slavery. The way the planets line up, it seems like you’re going to discover how unfree you feel before you make a series of moves calculated to take advantage of the actual prerogatives you have, and that you created.

Aquarius Confidential

The current issue is a matter of faith. You may see it as a test of faith in a relationship, but the only person you can be true to is yourself. Therefore I suggest you not be swayed by the apparent outer nature of the situation, or by who else is involved, and treat the developments you’re experiencing, or expecting, solely as a matter of your inner growth. That growth may feel enforced or compelled as the next week or so develops, and if you have the sense that this is your last chance to make a difficult decision, consider that may well be true. And then? Well, the simplest way to say this is that you’re responsible for what you currently know. That responsibility would come in the form of acting on what you know. You’ve had a lot of time to go over this, and it looks like you’ve considered the various implications of your situation, and your options, on approximately seven prior occasions (enough to lose count) going back about two years. This time around, something is different.

Pisces Confidential

Focus your energy on what is happening behind the scenes. Peel back the layers, ask questions, and recognize that there is plenty you don’t know that you will benefit from knowing. Currently it matters less than normal what’s happening on the main stage. The real show has yet to begin. Now is a time of preparation, of reflection, of review, and of making your arrangements for the next stage of your life. When does this begin? Well, it begins some time after you agree to commence the review phase. Meanwhile, your existence will be no less interesting or meaningful for having less in the way of outer results; the fact of your being more inwardly focused is going to offer helpful opportunities to make long-awaited adjustments and repairs, as well as the space to refine your vision of what you want. If you focus on these things, they will get results — the best kind, which is the ones that come from the inside-out.

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