When after all it was you and me

Dear Friend and Client:

Ted Kennedy’s departure from the planet marks the end of a dynasty in American politics. It’s interesting that we consider it so: John served as president a little more than 1,000 days, more than four decades ago. Robert was mainly known as attorney general. Teddy was a senator — being hailed, probably accurately, as the most effective in the history of the Republic. A dynasty is something with persistence over time; mainly that was him.

President Kennedy and his brothers, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy. White House, outside Oval Office. August 28, 1963. Photo by Cecil Stoughton, White House.

Neither JFK nor RFK came close to living out their true potential. Imagine what a different country this could be, if they had. The Rolling Stones once asked, who killed the Kennedys? The reply: after all, it was you and me. The implication is that we are all so distracted with greed and warfare that we cannot focus on what really matters; by our actions and our choices, there is only so much we will allow the cause of humanity to advance.

It was Ted Kennedy who we allowed to live, perhaps out of sympathy and perhaps because he lacked the sizzle to make him seem like a worthwhile target. Ted, in return, offered himself in service and gave his clan its reputation for service rather than for human sacrifice. We got to see him mature into his potential, something we missed with his three older brothers. He rarely had the spotlight. He was more a politician of the old school, that of making deals behind the scenes rather than mass public appeal. Yet in that distinctly Piscean way, he worked his way into our cells and established himself as part of the landscape.

One fact about the Senate is that there are not term limits. The limit on presidential terms — not included by the framers of the Constitution but added after FDR — limits what a president can get done; by the time you learn the job, you have to leave office. You can stay in the Senate for as many terms as the public can stand you, and Teddy had a lifetime appointment.

It’s obvious from his chart that he had no business being president, but many said that he had no business being a senator. (The same kinds of things were said about Jack at several levels of his political career.) Ted was 30 years old and he got elected on the basis of his family name. Then like someone who falls in love with their partner in an arranged marriage, he felt and answered a calling.

Before 1960 this was a different country. There were few protections for anybody but the rich. Short of the New Deal just about every civil rights law, labor law, health care law or anything that actually helped people was enacted during his time in office, and had his name and his influence on it.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy joked with his brother Robert, background, on Capitol Hill in 1965. Photo by George Tames.

Those who study history know that it was Joe Jr.,the oldest son whom Joseph Kennedy originally felt was destined for the White House, the one who was being groomed for the job. But he was killed in his airplane while on a mission over the England toward the end of World War II. Then came the Sixties, which in many ways were defined by the loss of the Kennedy brothers.

Ted was the sole survivor. He went on to become the antithesis of his father, a high-ranking Nazi sympathizer (as the United States ambassador to Great Britain), who had made his fortune from bootlegging. (Most people remember the bootlegging but don’t recall the fact that since his embassy was a leak back to Berlin, he was in essence a spy against his own country.)

How you go from there to some of the great leaders of the 20th and 21st century is a bit of a mystery, but it happened. One of the legacies that his older brother John left for American politics was the influence of the presidency over the other two supposedly co-equal branches of government. JFK cleverly used the force of his blazing Gemini personality and the early power of television to nearly eclipse the influence of Congress and the Supreme Court, at least in terms of visibility and being newsworthy on a day-to-day basis. The problem with this kind of spotlight is that if you’re “too progressive,” it can get you killed. Many lesser men abused the spotlight that JFK created. Most of them looked wan by comparison and still got their agendas past Congress and the American people.

Congress is not that glamorous. It’s often downright boring. There is that old joke, if pro is the opposite of con, what’s the opposite of progress? But Ted Kennedy was all about progress. He was an organizing, driving, unifying force in an unwieldy, viciously divided and sold-out legislative body. He was the guy who made things happen, and even the certified right wingnuts considered him their brother.

Who was he and how did he do this? I’ll give you a few snapshots from his natal chart in this article. The data is confirmed by Astrodatabank.

Defender of a Dream

Ted Kennedy was a Pisces, born Feb. 22, 1932. His friends remember him as charming, blunt, self-effacing and hilarious. He drank a bit, he got in some trouble, he got out of it, and he finally found a good woman to help him stabilize his personal life. Mostly he was dedicated and talented. He identified with people and they with him.

He was, after all, a Fish. He’s starting to remind me of another Pisces of his generation whose life touched an extraordinary number of people of many political persuasions and social strata; another one who carried a piece of American culture, and its pain, on his human back: Johnny Cash.

“For America, he was a defender of a dream,” Michelle and Barack Obama said in an email that just came in. “For his family, he was a guardian.”

Let’s look for those themes in his chart. I will cover five features in this article, for saliency. To sum up: he was Pisces Sun with Capricorn rising and a Virgo Moon. His 10th house of high office is empty, though Scorpio is on the cusp of that house. Most of his planets are concentrated in personal, not public, houses.

Virgo Moon conjunct Neptune (closer than one degree of precision; in the 8th house; or using whole sign houses, in the 9th house). To me this is the aspect that gives away the chart. It’s the image of a dream (Moon-Neptune) and the dream has a tangible, practical side: it’s in Virgo. This aspect represents the low-key, inexplicable charm. There is a perfect morph of the factual and the intuitive; the mundane and the perfectly invisible. Moon-Neptune also describes his alcohol problems and, if you count it as part of the 8th house, the horrendous legacy he lived with: that of so much death constantly around him. Yet again and again he personally escaped death: the plane crash, the car crash, and being the target of a prospective assassin who wanted to get his name in a history book. Looked at one way, that powerful Neptune gave him an aura of invisibility and afforded him excellent instincts so that he could protect himself. It speaks of a very, very strange relationship with his mother. I have never read a biography of him, but to me it looks like severe isolation from her caused by alcohol or psychosis.

Sun in Pisces, conjunct Mercury and Mars in Aquarius. Pisces and Aquarius go well together. In a way similar to the configuration I described above, Aquarius gives structure to the intuition of Pisces and Pisces takes the logical edge of of Mr. Spock. Mercury-Mars makes a fast thinker, anywhere, but especially in Aquarius. He was extremely intelligent; he could analyze and solve a problem before most people could register its existence. Strong Aquarian types simply must apply their intelligence as a basic fact of their self-esteem, and this aspect is in his 2nd house, covering that very theme. He knew his intelligence was one of his most powerful assets, and he did not hesitate to use it. The Moon-Neptune configuration and the Sun-Mercury-Mars configuration are opposite one another, and this represents a deep inner divide, that for years may have seemed irreconcilable. Had he not been compelled to take up a position of leadership, that inner gulf might have swallowed him whole. You could say that he made a conscious choice to rise to the occasion of his life. I think that we all have the potential to meet our astrology this way, or not.

Ted Kennedy. Painting by Andrea Ventura.

The Aries Stellium. A stellium is a close gathering of planets that does not include the Sun or Moon. Ted had Eris, the Black Moon, Venus, Uranus and Nessus in Aries. No matter how much conflict he might have been in, he had a sense of who he was. Venus in Aries — these people do love themselves, and it can be extremely annoying; but it’s much easier to get enveloped by their charm. Eventually they figure out that it doesn’t work being self-centered in quite the way that they are predisposed to be; they can turn that Venus in Aries into a gift for the rest of us and still keep it themselves. The difference is between love and vanity, which on certain levels of the personality seem to be related. The conjunction of Venus to Uranus in Aries reaffirms his incredible power of ideas, and Uranus, which emphasizes groups, takes them to a collective level. He learned how to move easily between the concepts of I Am and We Are. His best ideas seem to have come when he was struggling; this is more the chart of an artist than it’s the chart of a politician, but he turned politics into an art.

Chiron square Jupiter. These people are famous crusaders. Chiron provokes the social justice aspect of Jupiter. He shares this aspect with Johnny Cash, Joseph Conrad, Peter Fonda, James Fulbright, John W. Gardner, Robert Anton Wilson and Malcolm X. This comes from his sense of family wounding and some painful stuff about clashing with its values (Chiron in Taurus in the 4th house); and it deals with the family legacy, including the nature of the wealth that he inherited (Jupiter in Leo in the 8th house). In a real sense, he took his personal pain and his inheritance and put them together to create something helpful to many people. We know from his devotion he was not faking caring about people; his chart confirms this fact.

The Cancer-Capricorn Axis. Let’s take this as a whole; it’s complex and could be worth a book chapter of its own. Cancer-Capricorn is extremely helpful in politics. One must combine the sense of home with the sense of authority; one must master parental energy from the left and right hemisphers, or at least take advantage of it; and powerfully activated Cancer connects a person to the public like few things can. He has Capricorn rising. Ceres and Pholus are in the ascendant, suggesting that he traces his spiritual lineage through the maternal side. He also bore the pain of his grandmothers, in particular. Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, is in the last degree of that sign. It is anaretic; it is a matter of do or die. I believe that late degree Saturn, in any sign, can be the symbol of a very old soul, one who has come here not so much to experience and to learn, but to get the work done. The Cancer side of this equation involves Pluto in the 7th house; this gives a picture of the amount of death that he faced, and that stalked him; and it reveals his particular way of connecting to ‘the millions’. Juno on the 7th cusp is like being married to the public or to the world itself.

Of course there is plenty else we could say about this chart; there is no way it can stand up to the man himself, genuinely one of our country’s great leaders. It’s not about being perfect. It is about caring.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

How Did We Miss This One?

The earthly possessions of Jeane Dixon, psychic to the stars (not to mention astrologer to First Lady Nancy Reagan) were auctioned off on July 26 by Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Somehow the article in The Washington Post slipped past us; otherwise we’d have at least taken a seat at the proceedings to see who would bid upon the savant’s possessions.

Celebrity psychic Jeane Dixon, who died in 1997, posing with her famous crystal ball — one of many items from her estate auctioned on Sunday. (Washington Post file photo).

Many of the auction’s specifics were reported at News-Antique.com, which said the total brought by the auction exceeded $312,000 — well beyond the predictions made by the auction house beforehand. The most noteworthy transaction was doubtlessly Dixon’s crystal ball, a highly visible symbol of her calling, which was sold for $11,950. However, that wasn’t the highest price paid for one of her possessions; that distinction went to a Continental gilt brass-mounted bas relief cast composition wishing well. Despite a pre-auction estimate that it would bring in no more than $1,200, it ultimately sold for $22,107.50.

Although the auction was only held last month, Dixon had actually died of a heart attack at age 93 in 1997. She eventually achieved fame through her predictions, which could be found in newspapers across the country, as well as through her acquaintances with the rich and famous.

According to Wikipedia, Dixon was born Lydia Emma Pinckert in Wisconsin and was raised in Missouri and California, though she didn’t talk of her past in public. After her death, the article states, “Many of Dixon’s possessions ended up with Leo M. Bernstein, a Washington D.C. investor and a banker whose clients included Dixon. In 2002, he opened the Jeane Dixon Museum and Library in Strasburg, Virginia, to display what he owned. Bernstein died in 2008…” Later that year the museum closed, and eventually some 500 boxes of items were sent to the auction house.

Red Rover, Red Rover

The planned night launch of Space Shuttle Discovery had been commanding pretty much all of the attention directed toward NASA this week. But with the launch scrubbed because of a malfunctioning valve, our eyes started wandering around to see what else was up at the space agency.

Testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August 2009 is assessing possible maneuvers that the Mars rover Spirit might use for escaping from a patch of soft soil where it is embedded at a Martian site called “Troy.” Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

And what to our wandering eyes should appear but the latest update on the Mars Rover Spirit, the plucky little robot explorer that has exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations during its tour of the Red Planet. However, it’s been stuck in soft sand since May 1, and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been trying to find a way to get it out. The effort has been dubbed “Free Spirit.”

The latest ploy? It’s “crab walking,” as explained by a perky and clearly enthusiastic Ashley Stroupe, a rover driver at JPL. Using Spirit’s six independently maneuverable wheels (one of which no longer rolls), the operators are trying to find a way to move it sideways up the incline where it rests, to get it away from obstacles in front of the robot.

While the rover is still stuck, there’s been some good news. It’s in a windy area, so its solar panels have been swept clean of dust and are providing enough power not only for the extraction attempts, but to continue use of its cameras and other instruments. But even if Spirit remains stuck (maybe until the long-proposed manned mission to Mars becomes reality?), there’s plenty to celebrate: Originally expected to operate for 90 sols (Martian days), it has surpassed 2,000 sols and counting.

Oh, and by the way: The new launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery is this Friday, Aug. 28, at 12:22 a.m.

But Is It A Regulation ‘Downward-Facing Dog’?

Over the past decade or so, alternative medicine and health practices that are ancient traditions in other cultures have achieved greater acceptance in the United States.

But with acceptance has come an American tradition: Regulation.

Susan Van Nuys, right, and yoga class participants assume poses at her studio in Herndon. Virginia recently mandated that studios offering yoga teacher training must be state-certified. Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu — The Washington Post.

According to the Aug. 24 edition of The Washington Post, institutes that train yoga teachers in Virginia are now under scrutiny by the State Council of Higher Education, which thinks there may be a need to place strict requirements on their programs.

But the yogis who have been teaching new generations of instructors have proved (pardon the pun) inflexible, and are lobbying government officials in hopes that they won’t be faced with the same certification requirements as, say, vocational instructors. Such certification, the article notes, “requires a $2,500 fee, audits, annual charges of at least $500 and a pile of paperwork.”

Such is the price of once-obscure practices that become mainstays of American culture, and Virginia is not the first state to seek regulation of yogis. New York State imposed a certification requirement, but withdrew it after objections were reported in the media. Michigan began regulating such programs this year.

State officials note it is not the teaching of yoga itself that they wish to regulate. However, the teaching of teachers, they argue, requires certification, just as it is with academies that teach dance instructors, for example.

“We’re not looking at yoga classes. That itself is an avocation,” Linda Woodley, an official with the higher education department, told The Post. “But the teacher training is preparing people for a job. They can take the skills they learn and open up their own studio or just teach.”

By the way, according to About.com, Wednesday was the birthday of Yogi Bhajan (1929-2004), the man who brought Kundalini yoga to the west.




Weekly Horoscope for Friday, August 28, 2009, #781 – BY ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
I spent an hour with my mentor and therapist Joe Trusso this week, working through the theme of how anger and reason are incompatible. The same mind may be processing the experience, but that’s about all they have in common. Mars has moved into a position in your chart where you’re likely to have some emotional chaos stirred up, and that is likely to include some rage. I would ask you to ask yourself if there’s something beneath it: a well of emotion that is translating to hypersensitivity. This is deeply personal territory, and only you can make the journey. I would propose that you not be deceived by anger, particularly at partners or family members, no matter how justified it may seem. Meanwhile, you don’t have to take it out on yourself.

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
You’re in one of those moments where you can be grateful for what you’ve got: and by that, I mean the emotional content of your life. As far as getting stuff done, well, let’s say that the creative process may be taking longer than you like, but also that it works in mysterious ways. You know something is out of balance, though rather than letting it stress you out (a distinct possibility), identify and work on your most meaningful goals. Let this be the time in your life when you figure out that there are some jobs you’re not cut out to do; and there are some things you really need in a work environment. One of them is a sense of fairness. Another is beauty. If you’re thinking of changing jobs this autumn, start with working in a beautiful place. Or at least righteous.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Many things can spur you to creative action; the most dependable is necessity. You may have encountered a situation recently where you knew that the only way out was art or writing. The clue was, and is, that you could not work through the feelings any other way. That, as well, is the most challenging aspect of the situation. You know you need dedication and discipline to unravel the complicated, seemingly unmovable emotions that you’ve been experiencing for so long, emotions that may be making you feel tired beyond your years. Be grateful that your psyche is giving you options for a fresh approach. I suggest you not worry if friends or loved ones have no idea what you’re going through or why you’re approaching your life the way you are; it’s not anyone’s journey but your own.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
You not only have the strength to stand up to the challenges of your life, you now have the passion as well. For many weeks, something seems to have been sapping your energy and dividing you against yourself. If you got the feeling that all at once, something changed, that’s because it did. Mars entered your birth sign after a long stretch in one of the most sensitive, mentally active angles of your solar chart. Problems that seemed to have no source now have a solution. Confusion that made no sense has finally dissipated. One result is that you can feel larger than your various situations in life. Yet the main benefit is that you can focus your intentions and bring to bear the full force of your will. I suggest you begin gently, and get accustomed to your newfound power.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Fear is an important emotion, though we tend to abuse the stuff; I mean we often abuse it like a drug, and it takes over and runs out of control. There’s another problem, which is discerning the difference between fear and intuition. If we have a scary thought, how do we know it’s not an intuitive hint? This takes some sorting out; it takes some authentic self-awareness, of a specific kind. In general, I would advise against trusting the validity of fear in the first instance. Rather, initiate a dialog with it. It may be a tense dialog at first, because if you ask fear what it’s really about, it’s likely to respond with more of the stuff. If you keep asking questions, you’ll go through a series of layers and finally arrive at something unrelated to the seeming point of origin.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Financial issues come into focus now: you’ve reached that critical point where you know the only solution is going to come from applying some serious focus to the question. Think like a scientist, which means methodically. Don’t worry about solving all your problems at once — you’re approaching the time when you finally develop the long-anticipated permanent solution. Consider the following four to five weeks as an experiment in discovering something vital: what is and is not important to you, in this latest incarnation of your life. You thought you knew, but I don’t suggest you assume anything; your priorities have changed, owing to the full-strength maturing process you’ve endured the past couple of years. Some days this has been as much fun as having your leg in a cast, but it’s about to come off.

Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)
If you’ve been wanting to make new friends, now is the time. Here is why. Your planet, Venus, is now in Leo, in your solar 11th house. This adds up to meeting people who will value who you are; which is precisely who you want to meet, and keep, in your life. This is happening at a time when you’re making some surprising discoveries about your identity and sense of presence on the planet. This, in turn, is leading you to a new sense of mission in life; in short, everything is happening at once, but the one thing all these things that are happening has in common is you. Therefore, pay attention to who and what you identify with, and how it feels to do so. Beware of pride; focus on the sense of worth, which will mainly come in the form of comfort being seen, felt and heard.

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
You have tried many approaches to leadership. The thing to remember about being a leader in the Western world is that we are pleasure seekers, not people who are motivated by discipline. To the extent that most of your coworkers, friends and neighbors are disciplined, it’s all about acquiring the next burst of sugar, salt or fat. Therefore, lead people by making use of their affinity for pleasure. Take difficult tasks and make them fun, and be willing to show up when things are less than fun and add some pleasure to the equation. Just remember your agenda. You, personally, are not out to have a good time; you have a goal, and the more specific you make it, the better. Use your newly recovered charm to bring people on board. They will help because they want to.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22)
If you find yourself in any kind of hassle over a contract or agreement, appeal to the common good. It’s easy for people to fight or disagree if they have different objectives or values. If you encounter someone who presents themselves as an adversary, and it would appear that just such a person has shown up, seek an understanding of what is important to them, and work from there. You may find it annoying that they are emotionally motivated and can’t seem to think in a cool and clear way, but once you acknowledge that, you will find that they’re easier to handle; indeed, that you could manipulate them easily, as long as you stay cool. You don’t need to resort to any subversive tactics, however. If you give them a few good options, they will do the right thing.

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Someone is taking up your invitation and rising to the occasion of knowing you. You’re either thinking: it’s about time; or I wish this person was a little more level headed. You can afford to forgive people for taking their time precisely because life is short; it’s best not to throw good time after bad. Decide consciously if you want to take this person up on their offer to be closer; you don’t have to. You may feel they’re too impetuous, or like they could be kind and acknowledge their prior indecision, conflict or dedication to trivia. This is an assignment calling for character assessment. You need to look below the surface, applying your best psychological skills and insights. That is just the beginning: every relationship is a journey.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
When spiritual doors open, they rarely open all the way. Usually, we get a clue that it’s unlocked. That is like an invitation to open it ourselves, rather than have the energy come blowing in. Over the next few weeks, you will receive a series of hints that certain pathways in your mind are open and available, though you will need to be the one who makes the moves. Observe how the process comes through in layers, which include layers of denial. For example, something you assume could not be true bumps into an experience, and you decide that it might be true. Then you get a little more information and you feel certain enough to act on the information. Therefore, pay attention to what you believe, and what you think you believe; and what influences you to change your mind.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
What seems perfectly normal for you seems perfectly dangerous or even a bit outrageous for someone in your life, no matter how calm they appear. They are anything but calm; in fact that layer of stillness shows up in the astrology as something a lot more akin to fear. I suggest you not be fooled by silence, or the slight chill to the air. Your own heat and passion are getting through to someone specific, and perhaps to everyone in your environment. You can afford to be patient, and the rewards for doing so will increase on a daily basis. You can afford to trust, the main benefit of which will be spreading a sense of peace in your environment and a conscious release from anxiety. Fear is easily converted back to the creative energy from which it originated, and at the moment this is the story of your life.

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