Water Sign Theater

Daybreak in the path of annularity, in Valencia, Spain, looking southeasterly at the Mediterranean Sea — about an hour or two before a solar eclipse on Oct. 6, 2005. Photo by Eric Francis.

Dear Friend and Reader:

What is it about 2013 that makes its astrology distinctive? In a word, water. That means a year of exploring the nuances of, and the existence of, emotion, empathy and intuition. If you’ve ever wanted to take up photography, painting, music or filmmaking, now is the perfect time.

The Asian year of the Water Snake begins in a few weeks, which accents the Western astrology perfectly (more on that closer to the event). Over the past few years, there has been a gradual accumulation of planets in water signs, calling attention to corresponding issues with actual water on our planet. I’ll come back to those — let’s start with the feeling realm, which is where we benefit most from water placements.

Mostly harmless, non-poisonous water snakes waiting in the wings for their cue — or rather, cuddling in a rock formation along the Coxing Kill on the Grandmother Land in Ulster County, NY. Photo by Eric.

To those with strong water sign charts (for example, Sun, Moon or rising sign in one of the water signs Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces), the world feels a little more like home when there are planets in those signs. There is space and a kind of invitation to open up the emotional spectrum, and to feel ourselves, one another and existence itself.

Everyone else benefits too. Our society is made of earth, wind and fire; water is the scarce element. Every now and then, an architect throws in a little fountain. We ignore water until Lower Manhattan is reclaimed by New York Harbor.

Meanwhile we are constantly interacting with material objects, electricity, data, money, ideas, concepts, paper, metal and machines that burn fuel flying across the sky and speeding across the countryside. How much time do we spend with water? Let’s see, 10 minutes in the shower, 10 minutes doing the dishes and an extra 15 minutes chatting by the water cooler. Water is the missing element in most of our lives. We live in a kind of desert.

My old friend Be’jamin once said the world is divided between those who drink water and those who do not. Those who do are in the minority. Note, Diet Pepsi is not water, it is hazardous waste. Smart Water is neither. That said, it’s gratifying to see so many people starting to tote around non-BPA-type jugs of water wherever they go (if you’re one of those people, you might want to read up on the non-BPA controversy). Plastic bottles don’t just pollute the world; they inject your body with a kind of chemical called phthalates — basically, toxic hormones used in the formation of plastic that are pissed out in a few weeks but are constantly refreshed because there’s always more plastic to eat from.

The thing that really needs to be refreshed is water itself. Because the planet is a closed system, we have to do our best to add water to ourselves, detox and contain the contamination when we can. And, of course, make a lot less of it.

Rising Tide, 2010 to Present

Over recent years, planets have been moving into water signs. As happens with water, the tide rises slowly and steadily. It’s now about to come to a crest. But let’s take the story back a few years.

In 2010, Chiron began its ingress to Pisces, which started things off. That is Chiron for you — leading the way. (Well, Uranus had been in Pisces for six years prior, but that wasn’t very watery; it was like a hot tub with a short circuit).

Fishing boat reflected in Montauk Harbor. Photo by Eric.

Just prior to that was the Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune series of conjunctions in Aquarius, which got us used to the concept of water. Jupiter’s year in Pisces (early ’10 through early ’11) plus Chiron changing signs offered some contact with the reality.

The very day that Chiron ingressed Pisces for the first time, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded. We watched for 90 agonizing days as crude oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. Chiron will be in Pisces through 2018-2019, and is a constant reminder to take care of the oceans, lakes and rivers. However, it’s never really clear how to do this, since the problem comes from industry. Fighting industry, its lawyers and its scamming environmental consultants is never easy, but we all have to participate in the old heave-ho that will be necessary to set things right. Every product choice, indignant phone call to customer relations and public meeting in your community counts, as does doing what you can personally.

Neptune, a watery blue planet named for the god of oceans (and earthquakes) began its ingress into Pisces in 2011, completing that ingress in early 2012. Many people waited patiently day by day for that one, especially those with Pisces Sun or Pisces rising charts. Rockie Gardiner, in one of the most touching Sun sign horoscopes I’ve ever read, described Neptune in Aquarius for Pisces people as a journey so long you might not believe it would ever end, or have any sense of scale that might lead to a feeling of progress.

Meanwhile, Uranus left Pisces with a bang in March 2011. I mean several bangs, starting with an earthquake and tsunami followed by multiple reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station exploding and melting down, and then spilling unknown, though vast, quantities of radiation into the air, the ocean and the groundwater.

It’s fair to say that the combination of Uranus in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius was not good for water: through these transits, hydraulic fracturing became all the rage. This is a process of gas extraction that consumes millions of gallons of water per gas well, and leaves the Earth and groundwater contaminated with many toxic chemicals — all to do what solar or wind energy could do more cheaply and cleanly.

In October 2012, Saturn ingressed Scorpio for the first time since the early 1980s. This is providing some stability to the planets in Pisces. Chiron and Neptune give us more water and more awareness of the feeling level of existence. Saturn is here to help keep that yin energy in balance, and also help dredge out the territory deep at the bottom of things. I think of Scorpio (fixed water) as representing underground deposits of water, fossilized seas, inland brackish or high-pH lakes, riverbeds, bogs and shipping channels.

Montauk, NY. Photo by Eric.

In human consciousness, the Saturn in Scorpio factor brings up the theme of emotional maturity. Oh, that thing! It’s about learning to have some modicum of boundaries around our feelings, some sense of containment. We are said to live in a society where yang energy is out of balance — our aggressive, competitive and warlike society.

Just as strong a case can be made that we struggle with emotional stability and maturity. That people are not encouraged to grow up is a problem. That there are so many constantly refreshing sources of instability is an even worse situation. One of these is the persistent habit of manipulation, which if you ask me is an act of interpersonal warfare. Saturn in Scorpio is a reminder to cool down this factor; to mind your beeswax and not use secrecy as a way to concentrate power (really, that’s it’s only purpose).

Saturn in Scorpio is the territory where sex meets the emotions — the hormone drive, hormonal cycles, the deep emotional need to connect sexually in a way that’s not merely physical, and any time we exchange or merge DNA. Saturn in Scorpio is here to help us dredge out these channels. They are so cluttered with emotional discharge it’s amazing anyone knows what they feel.

There is big problem with ignorance around sexually transmitted infections, which is a from of passing around karma through sex. Saturn is saying: wise up, grow up and get a grip.

We also face a significant problem of hormone pollution. Everything you consume that has touched plastic (including cans, which are plastic-lined), and many, many other products, contain hormonally active chemicals. Then there are untold millions of people consuming hormone birth control and discharging it into the public waterways.

In many areas of the United States and other countries, there are just nine short steps between what you flush down the toilet and what comes out of your kitchen faucet. (Four of the steps are for sewage processing into effluent that’s ‘clean’ enough to discharge into a river; there is the brief time in the river; and there are the four steps to turning river water into ‘clean’ drinking water.)

The sewage per se is the last thing we need to worry about; the problem is the contaminants, such as the drugs and in many places, PCBs at the bottom of riverbeds. PCBs are a form of liquid plastic that was used through most of the 20th century and which still finds its way into nearly everything [for too much information, see my PCB website]. They are hormonally active chemicals, like every pesticide, dioxin and most heavy metals.

Personal story — I was recently looking at a house for sale in a nearby town; my friend reminded me that the town drew its drinking water from the Hudson River, which is the nation’s largest Superfund site thanks to GE’s ongoing PCB discharges. I called the town; there are indeed PCBs in the municipal water. There is no safe level. To find this kind of information out, you have to know what you’re doing. I did not buy the house, though one of my trusted PCB mentors explained how to get the chemical out of the water, if I wanted to.

Fountain in lobby of the Museum of Erotic Art, Paris. Photo by Eric.

I often wonder about the effects of all of this hormone pollution on our behavior and the ways in which we interrelate, which are so dependent on hormones and pheromones. I wonder about how much of the gender anarchy that’s so popular now is fueled by toxins on the parts-per-billion level. For years I have been proposing that there is a behavior problem with these contaminants.

Now, that turns out to have some validity. A recent retrospective of prior studiesassociates reduced lead rates with lower rates of violent crime. The researchers looked at every other social or economic explanation for the trends they could think of — and it turns out that lead is the probable culprit in unexplained, wide-scale violent behavior.

We can only wonder what the thousands of other chemicals are contributing to planetary insanity, as well as the political madness that is swallowing all common sense and reason. [Please see ECO section below for more information.]

One vision I would offer for Saturn in Scorpio is coming to terms with this issue, both as an environmental pollutant and as an emotional pollutant. How many people do you know who suffer from some endocrine disorder? Common ones include endometriosis, diabetes, thyroid problems, pituitary disorders and obesity (often undiagnosed as a hormonal issue).

Saturn in Scorpio is calling for awareness — and for a kind of purge. Do you know the sources of hormone pollution in your diet? Do you consider things like high fructose corn syrup as one of them? What about the hormones present in milk and meat? It’s time to get a grip on these issues.

One other not-so-minor point: Scorpio is associated with jealousy and possessiveness, and all the dramas that often ensue from there. Of all emotions, I think jealousy is the one that (suitably) people are the most covetous of; it’s treated like an entitlement. I would say more people feel entitled to be jealous than feel entitled to be happy. This is not serving anyone’s creative, constructive or loving purpose.

Saturn in Scorpio is going to push the issue, which has a first cousin — the truth about the sex we want, the sex we actually get and our whole history. Most of this is left out of the relationship discussion, which is convenient until it is not so convenient at all.

Clip and Save — More Water in 2013 

That’s just the background! In mid-2013, Jupiter joins Saturn, Chiron and Neptune in the water signs, as it ingresses Cancer. By July and August, there’s an impressive lineup in Cancer, which brings the water issue to the most personal level. That’s the dimension of home, nourishment and the choice whether to nurture ourselves and those around us.

Fountain at Place Monge, Paris. Photo by Eric.

Cancer is about the most tangible level of actual human feelings. Yes it has the intuitive dimension, but really it’s where feelings come home to the gut level, the bosom and maternal instinct. I would propose that this is about a reconsideration of how and whether we take care of ourselves, our families and those we say we love.

What is the balance of giving and receiving in your life? What are your motives to share, or to express your needs? Can you discern a need from a desire?

Mercury ingresses Cancer on May 31, where it stays through Aug. 8 (more on that in a moment). Through nearly all of the month of June, Venus is in Cancer.

Meanwhile, Jupiter ingresses Cancer on June 25, a few days after the Sun does. It’s there for about one year. This is the faster-acting piece of the grand trine — Jupiter spends just a year in Cancer; and when it shows up it will be accompanied by several other quick-movers passing through this sign.

Mars enters Cancer on July 13, where it stays through Aug. 27. So through Northern Hemisphere spring and summer, there will be a rather impressive grand trine in the water signs, involving the following planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter (all buzzing around in Cancer) as well as Saturn, Chiron and Neptune. If you count times when the Sun and Moon are in water signs, all of the traditional planets will be part of that grand trine for part of the year.

There’s one more fun thing to consider: every time Mercury is retrograde, it will be in a water sign. Indeed, during the retrograde phase it will not leave the water sign it’s in — that is, it doesn’t dip into the neighboring sign.

The Mercury retrograde beginning Feb. 23 is exclusively in Pisces (Venus, Mars, Neptune, Chiron and the Sun will also be there). The one beginning June 26 will be exclusively in Cancer. It will be joined by the Sun, Mars, Vesta and Jupiter. The one beginning Oct. 21 will be exclusively in Scorpio, joined by the Sun, Saturn and the North Node.

Flooded cement mines in Marbletown, NY. Photo by Eric.

Okay, that’s a lot of water. This is coming from someone with about 10 water placements in my natal chart, depending on what you count, and it still feels like a lot of water. The meta theme here is that it’s time to connect with the truth that we are beings made of water, with feelings attuned to water, which flow like water.

We need to nourish our bodies with water, and take care of the Earth’s limited supply of fresh water. And it’s time to imbibe those forms of watery creative expression, and tune into the ‘psychic’ or intuitive realm — which will be coming through more distinctly (that’s a topic deserving of another article). Water is the medium of intuition. Imagine that all water resonates with all other water. There are no secrets and no point trying to keep them. Sooner or later, anyone aspiring to a more spiritually grounded life figures this out.

There is one last event that I’ll mention and cover in detail later in the year: the solar eclipse of Nov. 3, 2013 in Scorpio. This eclipse is the full activation of the grand water trine — and notably, it happens concurrently with a grand earth trine. In a sense the whole year, and all of its steadily increasing water energy, is focused on this event.

Think of it as an enforced moment of reckoning (the eclipse is conjunct Saturn; that’s the enforced part). This will be preceded by many opportunities to voluntarily come to terms with how we feel — beginning with the fact that we feel. This is the kind of thing it’s necessary to remind people of in 2013. This is not the time to hold back, it’s the time to express and explore the deep element.

Lovingly,

Capricorn Birthdays This Week (for Cap rising as well) 

A New Moon in your birth sign this week is a reminder that it’s time to leave the past behind, though you may still be processing some sadness or regrets about things that have happened before — including in the distant past. Rather than pressuring yourself to feel or not to feel a certain way, I suggest you stay with yourself and inquire within about what it will take to be ready to move on. Be open to what comes back; take the steps that you get in reply to your inner query. Meanwhile, you really do seem to be ready to take a leap forward, and this is all about confidence. That is the thing to study, to observe and most of all to practice. I know that confidence can seem like some kind of innate gift that’s bestowed only on the rare few. It’s like any other skill; it can be broken down into steps, understood in a clear way and most of all, improved through a course of repeated, realtime experiments. After a while you will see your faith in yourself was much stronger than you imagined. So you may as well take advantage of that now.

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Remember to mind your politics. You are in rare form in many other ways — unafraid to stand out, bold about expressing your ideas and willing to take charge. Yet what you need is to employ your political skill. That means politeness, following basic policy and applying a little polish to your presentation. You are in a visible position of leadership, though I suggest you focus your efforts on fostering cooperation. You will have to take some initiative but if you remember to do all those things beginning with ‘pol’ you will find that your charm and positive attitude get you further than letting anyone know who is boss. One other not-so-subtle point — be aware of emotions like envy, jealousy and the desire for control. Leave that to other people and be aware that these emotions are in the environment. What they all have in common is a competitive edge; that is the thing to identify in any form that it arrives, to let go of and to find viable options for.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — What we think of as marriage is a religious concept. Then by some miracle it ended up a civil instrument, influencing taxes and under the jurisdiction of the state courts. I am aware that there are ways of thinking of partnership and even marriage unrelated to any of these venerated institutions. I would ask what role any have in the exchange of human emotions or organizing a household. You’re in a phase of questioning many other values that have percolated through to you via religion, though you may never have recognized them as such. It is time. They all have one thing in common: controlling behavior and concentrating wealth in the hands of the church, in both cases using guilt as the lever. The matter can be reduced to one short inquiry: what would you do in a world where guilt held no value? Would you need in some way to be reined in? Or would you conduct yourself ethically anyway, and still have a good time?

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Now is the time to renegotiate certain contracts and agreements that no longer serve their purpose. Therefore, I suggest you go over every agreement that you’re currently subject to, assess its reason for existing and see if that reason is being fulfilled. Some of these may be pretty old, you may have forgotten others, and some, you may not even be aware you’re subject to. Here is a clue: is something or someone ‘driving you crazy’? Is there a source of chaos in your life? Something putting pressure on you that you seem unable to get out of? See if you can trace this back to some kind of commitment or agreement that you made. Go back to the moment of that transaction and look at the exact language, whether in writing or what you recall having said. Research or remember what was said to you, in terms of what promises were made. Did you hold up your end of the bargain? What about the other person or organization? Once you have that information, you will have plenty to work with. The concept of a relationship is taken too seriously, and the reality of a relationship not seriously enough.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You are in extraordinarily rich relationship territory; your bonds with others are deepening and the potential exists for one particular person to join you in entering unusually deep caverns within yourself. I suggest, however, that you embrace these developments with a spirit of welcoming change rather than courting permanence. It’s not that the people you encounter now will not last; to the contrary, one or more may prove to be around for quite a while. I suggest that you stay in the present and keep the energy moving, allowing the elements in the environment to form new compounds, and the sensations in your body to lead to a new depth of emotional sharing and contact. Your concept of a partner or lover is changing, as is your desire for language to describe the experience and to share your feelings with others. These are matters more practical than mystical, particularly the language piece. Listen carefully, say what you mean and get your conversation partner to propose what they think you mean. Certainty of understanding is rare; you can come close now.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — It’s time for some deeply ingrained patterns to change, particularly involving the work you do. You have a leverage point right now; key elements of the system within which you operate are at maximum stress. As designed, the system cannot take the pressure it’s being subjected to. But don’t wait for things to ‘get better’ to make the changes that you need to make; the whole point is to redesign things to accommodate — or better yet, eliminate — the kinds of tension that you’ve been experiencing lately. Several factors are involved, including communication, how resources are allocated and understanding the nature of commitment as it exists within your environment. Speaking personally, you have to get out of two modes: one is “this is how it’s going to be because this is how it always was” and “we need a rigid structure or set of rules to solve this problem.” In truth what you need is flexibility — on everyone’s part, though you’re in the leadership role when it comes to setting that particular example.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Loosen up a little and you will be a lot happier. You need a more playful outlook; I think naughty is the word. I suggest you stop asking if you’re ‘in integrity’ and realize there is only so much that can go wrong, under your present plan; the world will not end if you have more fun. Yet you may have to consciously set aside attachment to the fun you didn’t get to have, that you opted out of or that ended way too early. I know it’s difficult not to have some feelings for what you sincerely regret, though it’s likely to get in the way of what you can experience now — and there is plenty being offered to you. What all those opportunities for fun have in common is the need to take some kind of chance. I don’t mean walking along the ledge of a skyscraper, though it may feel that way sometimes; I mean an emotional risk, such as entering a vulnerable situation where you have the potential to get hurt. Yes, it could happen, but it’s less likely if you’re conscious of your environment. It’s the vulnerability that will allow in the sense of contact and pleasure.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — I suggest you stay close to home the next week or so, close to a place where you can pull in and retreat. You seem to be processing some unusually deep feelings, though they’re coming through with the approximate ease that water moves through the bedrock of an aquifer: dependably, though slowly, requiring time and patience. The material includes a review of your as-yet unmet emotional and relational needs; there is something about the past that’s holding you close and about which you may have some regrets, including regrets about how you treated someone when you were feeling neglected. At the same time, you may notice that your curiosity is going in new directions. You may think that it’s your brain acting up, though I would propose that this is an actual physical inquisitiveness that is calling you to explore. You may not feel ready now, though if you’re patient with yourself and don’t try to escape from the past, you’ll discover renewed freedom to try some truly interesting experiences.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Something is much simpler than it seems. But to see that, you must think it through for yourself and not be swayed by the opinions of others. I suggest that you skip the part about analyzing everyone’s motives and see what the situation looks like in its most elemental form. If you had to script it into a play for shadow puppets, how would it look and sound? Who would the characters be? I think, probably, it would look like some family scene that you decided you were tired of long ago. You seem to perceive yourself as an irritant in a group environment, as the one who stands out or is different, and a) gets hassled for such and b) always feels like you’re the one who might have to go, so that everyone can settle down. That’s the scenario to let go of; it’s no longer true and seems to be entirely a replay of old tapes. In reality, under the current astrology you seem to be the one wanting to be the adult in the room, which is a good thing — as long as you recognize the difference between adult and parent.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You may feel under pressure to make some big decisions, particularly of a financial nature. I suggest, however, that you wait until the end of the month (when Jupiter stations direct) before finalizing anything, particularly involving an investment or banking matter. You have more to learn about where partners or significant others are coming from, and what you learn will influence your decision. Meanwhile, it would help if you turned your sense of pressure into a sense of opportunity: in this case, you need to restructure your affairs in some way, which will have a benefit over time. There is an intimate connection between money and the structures that surround it, which takes many forms (including relationships). I suggest you make a commitment to have no guilt about doing what you need to do in order to make your affairs run more smoothly. And, though I will mention it again, take the next few weeks and see if you can deduce what close partners or associates really have on their mind.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Accept the past in its current form and recognize that there is little you can do to change it, or to mitigate its effects. Yet if you take an attitude of ‘let it be’, you may find that more peace of mind comes to you than you could ever have if you try to rewrite history, pretend certain things didn’t happen or get stuck on your regrets. If you allow it to be so, the past will start to make sense in a way you had not considered before. You stand at a new moment in your life, though you will recognize this in a more palpable way if you embrace what is present for you now, and notice that you have many new options for how to live. This calls for shifting your perspective, along two orientations. One is your relationship to attachment. It’s no longer possible for you to be stuck in the way things were in the past, or to use epoxy and jealousy to graft yourself onto anyone. Second is your relationship to stating your basic emotional needs. Resolve to speak up and state them clearly, in language that another mortal can understand without the help of a detective.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Your mission is to foster cooperation without worrying about your popularity, and without going out of your way to make enemies. In other words, the people around you are not going to work together so well because they like you so much; and they are not going to work together because they hate you so much. They’re going to do it because it’s the right thing to do and because everyone’s life will be easier. Therefore, you have to be gentle in your approach to leadership, and recognize that you have a real measure of authority before you ever open your mouth. However, I suggest you tune into certain facts of the underlying psychology — both your own and that of the circumstances around you. It seems to be driving everything, and you may be the only person in the environment who has the ability to perceive what’s going on, including being able to suss out the sexual politics that are involved and are, as usual, significantly influential.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You may or may not consider yourself ‘marriage material’ though I would propose (pardon the pun) that this is an excellent few weeks to explore your partnership potential. You have your own ideas about what a relationship is, and you may think that few others share those ideas. There are people in your circle of friends who are starting to catch up with you; these may include former partners and those you know through some aspect of work. Anyway, my point is: for the next month, experiment with the idea that your ideas about relationships are right for you and that other people have been learning from your example. There is a kind of collective transformation in progress right now, and it’s likely to manifest in your life as opportunities for contact that you thought were unlikely or impossible before. The challenge for you will be to leave behind the pain of what has not worked; any past struggle with rejection; and any prejudices you still may hold about what other people think about how you live. There is a lot that others have not been saying. Love, listen and learn.

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