Dear Friend and Reader:
Vesta is now in Gemini. Amidst much other astrology, this is a reminder to be mindful of what’s happening in our consciousness, with the words we speak and the digital information we take in.
A fire goddess from Roman mythology, Vesta in astrology represents devotion (tending the flame that cannot go out), and a central organizing principle (the hearth is the center of the home).
Gemini is the first sign that addresses the theme of mind and communications. It is an air sign, which rapidly conducts energy and information. It’s a dualistic sign (represented by twin humans), suggesting that there are two or more sides to everything.
Today we might think of Gemini as the “global village,” which philosopher Marshall McLuhan proposed in the 1960s would be the direct consequence of electronic technology.
“The global village is not created by the motor car or even by the airplane. It’s created by instant information movement,” he said.
He was cautious, however. “The global village is at once as wide as the planet, and as small as a little town where everyone is engaged in poking his nose into everyone else’s business. The global village is a world in which you don’t necessarily have harmony. You have extreme concern with everybody else’s business and much involvement in everybody else’s life. It’s a sort of Ann Landers column writ large.” This was decades before the Internet or household computing. Many years later, the Global Village modem manufacturer took its name from his idea.
A central element of McLuhan’s media theory is that all media extend the body and the senses. The television camera extends your eye to faraway places. The microphone is an extension of your ear. The wheels of a car are extensions of your feet. A photograph is an extension of your eye and your memory.
What tends to happen is that when new technologies appear, we extend our senses and consciousness into them, greatly enhancing our sensitivity and getting a thrill — and then when it becomes too much, the next thing we do is cut off that sensitivity — which means to go numb.
In some ways this is a predictable reaction. We’ve all experienced the mental overload of the media, and the need to tune out the news, or take a break from Facebook and so on. The problem with our era is that the amount of extending that we do, through many, many enhanced media, requires a lot of numbing out. The more one needs to numb out, the more energy one expends doing it.
The excitement of enhancing one’s senses lasts only until it gets to be too much, then in order to make it routine or even bearable, anesthesia is necessary. That’s how we go from some fabulous, wonderful new technology to a society of digital zombies. It’s why we wonder whether a device like a smart phone brings us closer to people or drives us apart. First it does one, then it does the other.
All of these new technologies affect us, by which I mean they radically shape self-concept, self-development, mental patterns, behavior and, by direct extension, all of our relationships. The odd thing is that while everyone suspects there must be some impact, very few people bother to carefully consider, much less study, what that actually is.
This is something everyone needs to do for him or herself. It’s not easy because, in part due to the numbing process and the speed of development, new media disappear into the environment fast.
Also, it’s difficult to study the influence of technology on one’s own mind because the reference point (the mind itself) is constantly changing or being changed. You might not think, “I slept better 10 years ago,” or “I had more friends before I had an iPhone. I have hundreds of contacts but I never seem to see anyone anymore.”
It’s not merely that there isn’t time. Everyone who has a pocket computer (a smartphone) spends plenty of time on it. These devices, as everyone who has one knows, can be huge time drains. They are used for strictly practical purposes only rarely, and even less so for creative purposes. Most of the time they are merely used habitually, and in turn, the behavioral patterns become habits as well.
When email first came out, I noticed that people had a tendency not only to delete individual messages but to delete, filter or block people. That came with a rush of power: not having to deal with anyone you don’t want to deal with. Yet use of technology is a potent form of mind training, and people become like the technologies they are using. It’s a few short steps from deleting emails to deleting correspondents to pretending people in the room with us don’t exist.
The thing that everyone forgets about the Internet, except maybe for media theorists and people at the very top of the game, is that the whole thing is based on robotics. We think of a robot as the tin can flailing its arms in Lost in Space, or R2D2 from Star Wars. Yet the physical body of a robot is just the surface, which is inert without programming. It’s the mental programming of robotics that we need to be watching, since we become like the media that we imbibe.
The word robot entered the English language in 1923 with the English translation of a play called R.U.R.(Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Capek. It’s from the Czech word robotnik, which specifically means slave, related to drudgery.
It is also related to the word orphan, which means without parents, though it’s based on language roots that mean hardship, suffering and trouble.
Many have noticed the ways in which portable devices create a kind of slavery, especially combined with social media tools that our free contributions enrich. In other words, social media companies make billions of dollars and have us as captive audiences — while we provide the content. And we all know it. We’re also providing, for free, highly specific personal data used to sell things back to us. Many have proposed that this is a kind of friendly-seeming slavery, with many unaccounted side effects.
Vesta in Gemini is suggesting we need to set up some boundaries here. I don’t mean limiting cell phone usage or time online, but rather becoming aware of how these tools are affecting us, by which I mean changing us. The assumption with any new medium is that it’s a good thing, and the second assumption is that it will have no actual impact on existence except for convenience.
One branch of Vesta’s themes involves work, which is a direct extension of the devotion to tending the flame. Martha Lang-Wescott includes in her delineation of Vesta the preference for projects over people. I would say that is Vesta in a less conscious manifestation; Vesta can indeed be about doing work for its own sake, very much a property of the Internet.
“All electrical appliances, far from being labor-saving devices, are new forms of work, decentralized and made available to everybody,” McLuhan wrote more than 50 years ago. So one issue is nonstop activity, similar to the mind becoming evermore like a machine. “In our electric century the mechanical timekept city looks like an aggregation of somnambulists and zombies,” he wrote in the same work. (Somnambulists are sleepwalkers.)
This, too, is a direct consequence of cutting off sensitivity of these extensions that we so happily adopt. There are many others, and what to me is the most disturbing is the habitual cutting off of awareness and sensitivity, which happens repeatedly as new technologies enter our lives many times a year.
There’s a word for someone who extends their minds and their senses through media and into the environment and does not cut off their sensitivity: that would be artist. Artists engage in the very opposite process, of doing their best to use their tools consciously, and to stay open, aware and receptive at the same time.
We all face this challenge: to stay awake in the midst of so many influences that would put us to sleep. Philosophers and spiritual teachers have been talking about this for a long time. Yet we’ve never held so much creative potential in our hands, through these tools we tend to take for granted.
There is another way to look at the world and at our technology.
“Your communications systems have been waiting for this day,” it is written in The Starseed Transmissions. “They were created for this moment. Do not shun the technology that is available. Though it has been abused in the past, in loving hands it is capable of transforming the consciousness more quickly and efficiently than would otherwise be possible.”
Yes, but only if we do our part.
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for June 2016, #1102 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Take care of yourself — words often spoken and rarely heeded. Most people take far better care of their car than they do of their body, and incredibly, our bodies hold up under constant assault. Our minds, though, feel the stress, and we pay in ways we don’t usually notice. Begin to orient your life around your home. Speaking of cars, save yourself time, energy and money by reducing your time spent on needless travel. Notice the many things that make supposedly modern living into the frenetic chase it so often is. The motion and energy expended on so much that matters so little add up to one huge distraction from life. You need your energy now, as you’re in a rare space of personal breakthrough. It’s the kind of development that’s calling for you to pull your attention inward, so you can actually feel, notice and work with the changes that are developing. It is fair to say that you’re taking a genuine, long-anticipated step in your personhood. While this is a rare moment of personal evolution for you, it would be easy to miss the opportunity for profoundly improved self-awareness that you have in your hands. Feed and nourish your internal progress with quiet spaces, doing the things you love to do the most, and spend time with carefully selected people you care about.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You are rapidly moving into a space where you can connect your deepest inner truth to some form of creative expression. Consider that this is what many people reach for their entire lives. Others long wistfully for the meekest feeling of creative satisfaction. You can now be among the fortunate few who connect their soul’s growth to a mode of actual material expression. There’s a kind of Zen koan presented in your charts: remember how easy this is; remember how challenging it is. The ease is a description of how what you’re seeking is right within reach. You can accomplish it using skills you already possess. The difficulty is in continually coaxing yourself to respond to a calling or an idea that may seem elusive. You are not following a prescribed plan. You are not driving toward a destination. Creativity is like a river that runs through you. Your main job is to either get out of the way of the flow, or dive in and float along, and see where you end up. To borrow a phrase, you’re seeking process, not product. Think of the thing you make as a side benefit of an experience, rather than the goal. Gardeners understand this: you’re relating to the plants, you’re communing with their divas; you are tending to something older and larger than yourself. And in that journey, many beautiful things grow, emerge and appear.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — You must make space for yourself in your own world, and in the world. Nobody’s going to do it for you. In fact you might feel as if you’re being crowded out of an increasingly mobbed society. It’s nothing personal, of course; but you must make it so as a conscious act. Space begins with actual room: to work, to think, to live, to explore. Whether there might be an opening for you in a given field starts with whether you have the room to do what you do. Is your worktable big enough? Is your space quiet enough? Do you have time to think? Is there any wasted space in your home, office or studio that can be cleared out? You might start with the corners and work your way into the middle of the room. You could do that mentally as well, noticing what you tend to gloss over or habitually shove aside. As you clear physical and mental space, your energy will begin to flow in a new way. You will gain back some of the emotional self-control that you need to master your creativity. Here’s something to keep in mind: you are more likely to discover an opening or an advantage in the world searching inwardly than you are, say, from a listing on Craigslist. Then you must hold that open as you move through the social world and look for the connection you need.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You cannot force a breakthrough, though you can set up the conditions that facilitate it. The first step is to become conscious of everything you tend to overlook. This would require a genuine exercise of mindfulness, and dropping your awareness down to the levels you generally don’t notice, or tend to miss. Your dream activity will be profoundly revealing, and clue you into the ways that you can better cooperate with yourself. The phenomenon of levels is vitally important now, though not in the usual sense of pay grade, highest academic degree or the corporate ladder. By levels I mean that a certain type of awareness tends to open up a corresponding dimension in the world. You align your mind, and you notice something or someone that you might not have ever noticed otherwise. It can help to be randomly aware of whatever you observe, to introduce yourself to people you might not have acknowledged, and to shift your point of view continually. There’s one other thing: what you choose to nourish. You will come to love, and to make ever more real, that which you devote loving energy to. This includes doing what you can to take care of people who seem to have much more than you. Few gestures are more effective at establishing common ground, which you might call the key to your success.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Most blessings are hidden: we don’t notice them. Pay attention; and not only observe but embrace the many offerings existence is holding out to you. First among them is what looks like some burning spiritual thirst or desire. You can count that as a gift because without it, what motivation would you have to seek your deeper truth, embrace your life or strive for freedom? You may be experiencing an emotional craving for sex that has replaced your previous need to feel safe and secure. Count this as a gift because you’re going beyond the need for things to stay as they are, and are becoming willing to challenge yourself and allow your life to change. You may want independence from your family and its drama, which is a gift because you have your own life to live. The essential blessing of this time is the ability to honestly admit what you want, stepping out of any guilt or hang-ups for doing so. This is no small matter, as we live in a time of increasing criminalization of any desire that does not involve your credit card number. You seem ready to burst free from this oppression, though you would be wise to have a plan for what to do with any inner backlash. In this instance, as in most of life, guilt is a sure sign you’re doing the right thing.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — For most of the summer, Jupiter remains in your sign. This is fairly rare, manifesting every 12 years. Jupiter is a planet of opportunity; and in Virgo, for you, it’s the opportunity to expand your inner horizons. It’s when you stretch your inner capability for experience, for feeling and for the movement of energy through you. There is no doubt that Jupiter in your sign is the invitation to improve your life in many ways, and you’re likely to be experiencing many of them without even knowing it. Yet the most vital of these is consciously exploring your capacity for new experience. You are too young to be set in your ways. I suggest you not take any comfort in doing something, or limiting yourself, because that’s ‘just the way you are’. One thing Jupiter represents for you is the integration of outer experience, including people, into your life. It’s about accepting not just the ideas of your environment but also embracing its actual influences on you. As you encounter new experiences (again, including people) it helps to expand into the potential that they reflect. I recognize there are a few possible issues here, one of which is what seems like a culture-wide reluctance to change; the other is a crisis of trust. To put it mildly, actual growth requires both change and trust.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Success for you is a matter of caring, of devotion and of beauty. Our culture has long been driving a notion of success as competition and greed. This is not in your DNA, and you would be ill-advised ever to act as if it is: to take part in practices that are, in effect, destroying society. You know that you must take another path, something that respects the inherently familial nature of humanity. This month, particularly toward solstice, your sense of caring increases exponentially, partially in response to what looks like the tail-end of an extended self-esteem crisis. Here is the catch: caring in the style of family can breed resentment. You might feel like you have no choice. That, in turn, can come with a wildly varying cycle of devotion. It may seem inescapable, though it’s one of the essential disciplines of your life to stabilize your caring for others, which is a direct extension of your caring for yourself. If you feel resentment, consider resolving that one of the deepest healing projects of your life. This month you will get a chance to feel how beautiful it is to devote yourself fully, to see its effects in the world and to feel the benefits in your own life. Your success is not about you or the wider world separately, but rather the sensitive place where the two intersect.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Mars ends its long retrograde in your sign on June 29. If you’re asking yourself why your life has been so unusual, why so much emotional material has come up, and what exactly is the nature of the conflicts you’ve experienced, Mars retrograde can help illustrate the point. Several persistent matters are likely to keep vying for your attention. Those are the things to look at and listen to rather than complain about. There are two messages that are pouring through the astrology. One is the emphasis on being here now. By that I mean living in the present, rather than burning your energy obsessing over the past and the future. Note that the very purpose of focusing on anything other than the present is specifically to do just that: essentially, to evade your own life. The answer is found in the second message, which is to be honest about what you want. The whole matter of actual desire can have a way of up-ending social conventions, expectations and agreements, but the real ‘danger’ is that of actually living. I suggest you face that supposed danger; that you take the risk of actually living for what you want rather than for what is expected of you. To be fair, I must say this will have many unexpected results. There is a risk involved in movement and change, and an even greater risk in stagnation.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You are being taken on a tour of what might be called your underlying motives. You are tapping into the deeper level of your feelings. What you may be noticing is that they don’t quite jive with your image. Neither do they blend well with your conditioning, which other factors in your solar chart are insisting you come to terms with. If you are experiencing any conflict, consider the relationship between these two layers of your psyche. First there is the inner you, driven by passion, a sense of mystery, incessant curiosity and vibrant sexuality. Then there is the outer you, which seems to need space and independence, yet is often caked in a layer of fear that’s difficult to penetrate. Now, at least, you have the impetus to move from the inside out. Your core motives, necessities and desires are speaking to you, growling and groaning and insisting that you take notice. Here is what I propose, for your consideration. You have nobody you must impress, most particularly your parents or some visage of them (the priest, rabbi, lawyer or insurance company among others). There is no outer authority you must obey. You may govern yourself with decency, empathy and a sense of balance, but you don’t need to serve or have the approval of any external master. You are, therefore, free to respond to your actual self.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — It’s time for your reputation to live up to your substance. In the age when everyone is their own full-time publicist, it can seem that the thing people are the most afraid of being known for is who they actually are, and what they actually think. This is plastered over — habitually, even incessantly — by the image of integrity and authenticity. Yet it’s not enough to seem sincere. You’re being guided into revealing yourself, your feelings, your misgivings and most of all, what you want. This is likely to be happening among the people you consider your friends and colleagues. Here’s where things get tricky. Social groups are based on the principle of inclusion and, by inference, exclusion. There’s always the lingering primal fear that one will be cast off. So to reveal your inner truth — that is, to actually say what you want, what you want to do, and with whom — you must face that fear. At a certain point the pressure of being bottled up, and the constant need to seem pure and ‘in integrity’, must give way to being known. This is true even (and especially) if you are addressing inner conflict, which is seemingly the most important thing to conceal. Open up and let in the fresh air and sunshine — and as you do, build the confidence that people love you for who you actually are.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — The poet Marge Piercy wrote, “The good must learn to cultivate their anger like fields of wheat that must feed them, if they are ever to win.” One of the unspoken issues of our time is seething rage, what one pundit called “distemper among the electorate,” that (for example) is driving much of politics at the moment. Yet anger, if taken consciously and properly understood, can be a tremendous force for change. Many other emotions considered unsavory and/or politically incorrect can be cultivated and worked with constructively. Really, do we have any other choice at this point? Shadow is only shadow if it’s unconscious, which typically means projected onto others. You are in a rare position to see the deal the way it’s going down — and to do something about it. This will surely be in many small ways, and potentially some big ways. The action piece is about taking accountability, including for what may not properly be your responsibility. You are in a position of leadership, and your example counts for more than you may know. Yet a vital part of that example involves how you move what is inherently frightening, negative, shadowy and toxic to a new level. This is more than about ‘seeing the positive’ in something. Rather, you have the capacity to recognize anything with emphasis behind it as a source of energy, and to tap that energy on your way to changing the world.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Keep giving yourself permission to have fun, then go and do it. This month is the perfect storm of opportunity. Mars turning to direct motion in Scorpio is about leaving all of your hang-ups behind. The Sun and Venus heading for your fellow water sign Cancer will open many doors; it’s up to you to walk through them and to keep your emphasis on the grand creative experiment that is life. You can afford to be less picky about who you associate with. Ideally you would find a little something nourishing or inspiring in everyone. If you come from that place of appreciation, you will emit positive vibes and find it easier to move around various social circles. You would be wise to pause and consider the possibility that people are intimidated by you. There continues to be an alignment of slow-moving, deep and evocative planets in your sign. One response people might have to you is that things get real fast when you’re in the room. This is not your problem; don’t take it on. It’s been a long time since people in Western civilization have been this frightened of their shadow. You will get the best results if you consciously choose not to be frightened by anyone or anything, and hang out where art, love and celebration are made. If nothing comes up immediately, be persistent. You will break through.