You Are Wearing a Gray Suit

Dear Friend and Reader:

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a training program for women as a male model and actor. The essence of the class was teaching women to be in their power, and how to treat men as people.

The exercise I took part in was late in the weekend, Sunday evening for a class that had started Friday night. The instructions were simple. One of the five men who was serving as a “model male” would sit in a chair. One of the students would approach him, with the instruction of making three observable statements of fact, for example, “You are wearing a gray suit.”

Kasia Urbaniak, headmistress of The Academy.

The effect was profound. For many of the women, it seemed like one of the most challenging things they had ever done. Some could barely speak. One was moved to tears, and the class had to pause so she could be consoled.

Leading the class was Kasia Urbaniak, former dominatrix with 17 years’ full-time experience, who had during those years also spent enough time in Daoist monasteries to come within four days of being ordained a nun.

She conveyed all of her experience and knowledge into a program she calls The Academy. She’s been reading my horoscopes since she was a student at Bard College, which she says have guided her career and the development of her school for women.

So, one by one, her students (who were standing) approached the men (who were seated). There was always a long moment of tension as the man waited for his counterpart to say something. Sometimes it seemed to take tremendous courage.

“You are wearing a purple tie.”

“You have interesting glasses.” “You’re cute.” “You look intelligent.” “You have crazy hair.” And as they did this, the women seemed to grow present and self-aware in a way that you rarely see. Most notably, they were not acting like men. They were encouraged to be women; to be as female, as womanly, or as whatever, as they wanted to be. The only prop was a riding crop. The men all granted permission to be touched, if the female subject felt that would enhance the communication.

Kasia, left, with co-teacher Ruben Flores and their assistants, debriefing after a recent class in New York City. Photo by Eric Francis.

Kasia has her theories about why this exercise, which would have fit right into Gestalt therapy experiments of the 1970s, is so profound. It involves women coming out of their tightly contained personality boxes, and acknowledging that someone outside themselves actually exists — in a direct transaction.

She tells them: come out of yourself. This is what you need to do, to get on top of any situation. It’s what we need, in an era when people are increasingly terrified to hold a conversation.

When you say you, and you mean it, that’s exactly what you do. You enter the world relationally, and you meet people face to face and eye to eye. You can dominate others in a way that is pleasant and refreshing. It’s a bold, ingenious process to demonstrate the power of acknowledging others in a direct and sincere way.

The men all seemed to have the same response: the missing experience of being seen, felt and acknowledged for who they are. It was amazing, yet so simple: actual affirmation, based on a fact of my being rather than something I’ve done or achieved.

Cover of the August/September Mountain Astrologer.

We will be hearing more from Kasia in the coming weeks. I have many questions for her, and she has many for me.

Mountain Astrologer: It’s All in the Houses by Eric Francis 

Last year, I taught an astrology training session called It’s All in the Houses. That was in preparation for a major feature in The Mountain Astrologer, which is about to be published. The class was my preparation for the article.

I’ve done many interesting pieces for this magazine. When I proposed this to Tem Tarriktar, the editor, he said, “We do a lot of articles about planets and signs, but not so much about the houses.” So, they took the piece — and it ended up the length of a monograph, taking up 14 pages of the magazine. It includes my House Keys sidebar, a delineation of the 12 houses.

If you’re curious about the “whole sign houses” thing, I give that a good airing out.

The resulting article is the basis for a book. It’s a long, solid feature that takes you through the territory of how the celestial events of astronomy become the worldly and psychological events of an astrology reading.

The issue is available to digital subscribers now. A subscription to The Mountain Astrologer is worth every penny.

Melanie Reinhart on the Next Planet Waves FM 

Melanie Reinhart.

Melanie Reinhart, one of the most astute and profound pioneers of Chiron and the minor planets, will be making the first of two planned appearances this summer on the next Planet Waves FM.

Chiron is approaching the 40th anniversary of its discovery by Charles T. Kowal, which was Nov. 1, 1977. We start the discussion there, and then progress into other subjects involving the centaurs, Pluto and Eris.

Melanie is the author of many books. Her most famous is Chiron and the Healing Journey. My personal favorite is To the Edge and Beyond: Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs. Another called Incarnation is well worth reading and knowing.

In our next discussion, Melanie and I are planning to go over the interwoven myths of Chiron, Pholus and Nessus, in a coherent presentation on the topic. This will he a helpful discussion for anyone who is working with the centaurs or who is interested in the newly-discovered planets.

Monthly Horoscope is Below

This edition includes the July monthly horoscope. This may be the most cautionary horoscope column I’ve ever written. That’s based on the double Leo New Moons, one on July 23 and the other on Aug. 21, which is the total solar eclipse.

Amanda has your astrology weather for you below. Thanks for reading.

with love,

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for July 2017, #1156 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — The world is in a fragile state at the moment. You are currently doing pretty well and, by all indications, are on an upswing. Yet you’re in a somewhat odd position of noticing all the cracks in consciousness, and the fear that’s seeping through them. This is especially true if you’re any kind of boss or manager; the people who work for you seem to need constant care and are struggling to adapt to the world. It will be noticeable if you’re a parent or someone who looks after children. They all need extra care now; people around you, people you feel responsibility toward, are experiencing the stress directly; you have a deeper capacity to handle it, you’re stronger and you know more. As you focus on who and what needs immediate assistance, something interesting happens this month, which is that the aperture of your mind is widening. You are beginning to see and experience yourself in a bigger world; both geographically, and the potential of your own life. You cannot let yourself be fooled into thinking that there’s no use aspiring to better things, or having more fun, or exploring your abundant creative desires. You must keep your awareness on high and refuse to cut off or be deterred by the absurd and painful struggles of the world. You must have faith in yourself.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You’re in an unusual phase of making deep personal progress on your inner growth, without having too many trappings of success. You don’t have to impress anyone. What you’re doing is more important than whether you’re succeeding at it. What you’re learning is more important than any formal educational qualifications. Therefore, you can abandon all pretense, all desire to have the right image, and stick to the substance of what you’re doing and who you are becoming. Yes, there will be phases of resistance, where it may seem too difficult or pointless, and that’s part of the learning process. Just keep moving, keep exploring and push yourself to do better work. Over the next two months, a series of unusual events, in particular potent New Moon aspects in Leo, will help you settle into the person you’re becoming. But don’t get too settled. Your relationship to life is about your relationship to the society around you. Unlike a yogi sitting in a cave in the Himalayas, you are a person of the world. Your life and your growth become relevant as you extend yourself into actual circumstances: creative endeavors, your community, and the people with whom you share some political affinity. Above all else, you seem destined to discover that you are not alone, as an artist, an activist, or one in the position of caring for the world.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Do you have some message that you need to focus? You could start with a clear statement to yourself about what you want from life. That translates to what you want from your own existence. And as it turns out, you’re the only one who can consciously and willingly shape your existence and give yourself anything. Even what you get from others, you give to yourself (which is called receiving). So, let the first message be a statement of your desire. Include what’s important to you and why. When you know your priorities and you are aware of what you want, you then have the rare opportunity to live a principled life: a life ordered by your conscious intentions. Given the state of the world — the strife and the pain that so many people are in, often below the level of full awareness — something like focusing your intentions can seem pointless. Yet there’s never been a time when focusing your mind not only had a point, but is the most relevant thing you can do with your energy. The end of the chaos of the world begins with you: your thought process, your willingness to learn, your dependency on actual reasoning to guide your life. It may seem trendy to act like a total moron, or to act against your own interests. Your life is worth more than that.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You can make great strides on the financial front this month, if you cast aside all vestiges of status seeking. You have a mission; you have a purpose; you are fortunate, as such. And financial success is indeed part of that. Yet it cannot be the first thing on your mind. There’s something I keep telling young people, which is that something is not worth doing if it’s not worth doing for free. This may seem outrageous, but only to someone who had never experienced getting paid handsomely for something that violates their principles, that lacks integrity, or that they simply hate doing. This is the trap of working for money, and sooner or later, everyone who works for money falls into it. Therefore, pay attention to what you know is actually relevant. Focus on the quality of your work, and most of all, on the pleasure of being active and productive. Take all of your relationships to the human level; there are no “professional relationships,” there are merely encounters where the primary seeming purpose is related to one’s mission in life. Certain developments over the next seven weeks will guide you into seeking deeper connection to what matters to you the very most. You will not be able to ignore this; there’s no point even trying. Go right into the question. When you discover the truth, hold it gently, live it boldly and keep searching.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Be mindful any time you seem to be doing something useless or futile; pause and ask yourself why you’re involved and what outcome you want. If you feel like you’re working off karma, stop and question that. Be even more mindful if you feel tempted to tout your own accomplishments in a way that is even vaguely inappropriate. Aspects this month and into August demand humility, sensitivity and awareness of your environment. You must focus on correct action, and reaching for a sense of ease and flow, and a mutually supportive approach to all people and all projects. You are approaching an unusual birthday season, with two New Moons in your sign, on July 23 and Aug. 21. The second of these is one of the most noteworthy solar eclipses of our lifetimes, and it represents a potentially beautiful turning point in your life. Yet you must not lose your way in the glare of ambition; the most suitable approach to any task is to do it for its own sake, because it’s the right thing. Rather than taking a clever approach, take a sensible one. Rather than being competitive, be cooperative. Most of these things are likely to be lurking beneath consciousness until you find yourself in a situation where they become a concern. For that reason, it will help if you proceed with full awareness and caution.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You want to succeed. You feel like you’re going places. You know it’s time to be more visible and move up in the world. Yet this is a delicate moment, surrounded by uncertainty. And that calls for special care, and living by a clear code of ethics. Be transparent about your motives. You’re likely to experience the temptation to be a bit subversive, particularly later in the month; this will not help you or anyone. You might subject yourself to a standard: anything you can’t openly discuss is in some way unwholesome. If you state one reason for taking an action or making a decision when you’re really driven by something else, ask yourself why that is. It may be related to a matter of trust; you may be trying to deal yourself an unfair advantage; you may have some concerns or questions that you need to address. If you proceed openly, honestly and with one agenda, you’ll keep your life simpler, and be more likely to succeed at what you’re doing. However, that entirely depends upon your definition of success. You can define it by how much influence you have, how much money you make, the quality of your work, or how many people you help. It would be prudent to guide yourself in the direction of altruism. Feed your soul, and help the world through this troubled time.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You’re increasingly being drawn into a position of leadership and, like many before you, you may be noticing that this can be a lonely place. If you discover that, you might pause and direct your leadership toward bringing people together. The world is awash with bosses, board members, directors, executive directors, chairmen, big chiefs, bigger chiefs and even bigger chiefs. Look where it’s getting us. Rare to find are those who are tuned into human needs, and responding to the absurd fear level on the planet. Commit yourself to being a reassuring presence. Devote yourself to holding space for people to be themselves, which means being different. If you’re in a position of authority, be conscious of fairness and respect; err on the side of those with disadvantages. This is the perfect remedy to any mood or feeling that you are left out, or that the world is in some way being unfair to you. That may or may not be true, though even if you’re feeling it, that’s true enough; respond with empathy, compassion and mercy. If any such scenario is happening in your household or family of origin, you will indeed need to rise above past conditioning and be called upon to forgive prior transgressions. But you have no need or duty to subject yourself to any further crisis or pain.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You may have an idea that it’s time to move up in life, make a splash or get your message out. If you’re feeling that, do it in subtle ways, and pay attention to how you feel. What you want to avoid, with the full strength of your soul, is proceeding through life with a conquering spirit. That may become a real temptation later this month and into August, as Mars enters your 10th house of power and reputation. While the world seems to thrive on this lately, you’re in a position where ambition can easily turn to hubris. Therefore, erase all traces of self-importance from your personality. Don’t let yourself be haughty even for a moment. Recognize the existence and the contributions of others, to your life and to the community. If you must reach upward, do so through sincere aspiration, which would mostly be about aspiring to serve. Recognize that your contribution is but a small part of what will help, and modestly seek to help others make their contribution. All of this will call forth your more sensitive side, precisely when your astrology is enticing you to be less sensitive and less caring. Remember that you’re not merely going against the grain of your current transits; you’re bucking the tide of a world that’s drunk with power, and is going mad with the stuff.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You know that you must do what’s right, even if it’s the more difficult option. This might involve a financial decision. It might involve making some kind of seeming sacrifice for a partner. It might be a spiritual matter that’s compelling you to be true to your own ethics and values, rather than those of someone else. The emotions and challenges at the outset are unlikely to last long; the first few steps will require the most effort and care, until you figure out that you’ve made the right decision. This means the right decision for you and, potentially, someone you care about dearly. Said another way, your loyalty must be to the future and not to the past. You are faced with doing what is right now, not what might have counted as right at some point long ago. One of the deepest inborn traits of Sagittarius is the ability to go against what is trendy. At the moment, it’s just wildly popular to throw one’s most deeply held values to the four winds, do what will make a person seem cool, and claim to have integrity. Thankfully for everyone, you have a much higher standard. You are now being confronted with the importance of honoring your own values. This is a genuine transition for you; it’s also an investment in your future.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — During the next seven weeks, there will be two New Moon events in the sign Leo, which is one of the most sensitive areas in your solar chart. This is called the 8th solar house: a profound zone of transformation, rebirth, merging and separating from others, and losing and finding yourself. In classical astrology, the themes of death, inheritance and dowry come up; in modern astrology, the 8th stands for profoundly transformative events. And you have Leo there, which suggests that your pride interferes with your ability to be honest. Your self-concept makes it difficult to let go of your self-concept, and you can be stuck wondering whether your hair is done up right for the big ayahuasca ceremony. One of these two New Moons is a profound total eclipse of the Sun in Leo, which takes place Aug. 21, and the other is a potent Leo New Moon conjunct Mars on July 23. This is some serious transformational mojo. If you have jealous tendencies, or are into control dramas, you can expect these things to be crushed to powder. You might just give them up in advance and save all the energy. The overarching message of these events is to remind you that no relationship is a trophy; no profession bestows status; no person is your property; you are the property of no other person. That’s cause for celebration.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — This summer will have a ‘before and after’ quality to it: your life before, and your life after. It’s time to focus on some relationship issues, which really means how you think about the people in your life. This won’t all happen at once; there’s a gradual phase-in of both the review process and the necessity to make important decisions that, you may discover, were long overdue. The thing you want to be mindful of is aggression in any form, no matter where it’s coming from: from you, from someone close to you, or from your environment generally. Violence can include pushing your agenda on others. You will be called upon to make some adjustments: in particular, to go with the flow of what others want and need. This may feel submissive, though actually, by helping others, you’re the one who is learning, and you’ll receive some deep nutrients through the experience of shared purpose. Aquarius is a social sign, and we live in distinctly anti-social times. You of all people face a profound necessity to actually participate with the world in a meaningful way, which in part means experiencing the meaning of others as something directly relevant to you. There can be no pretending here. There is no ‘using relationships’ for some other purpose. Everything must stand on its own virtue, its own necessity and its own relevance. Including you.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You’re heading into a busy couple of months; remember to get out into the sunshine every few days, because your efforts at work are going to keep you focused, productive and fully engaged in what you’re doing. You will discover that, whatever that may be, you’re part of something much larger than yourself. This sensation may increase exponentially as these weeks progress and the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse approaches. This is your chance to do your very best work, and have some unusual impact in the process. Here is the key, however: Take a laid-back approach. I don’t mean slacking. I mean using understated language, emphasis on consistency and quality, and never, ever bragging about what you do. If there was ever astrology cautioning that modesty is essential, it’s your solar charts for the next two months. Remember that you’re not working for money (I explain the pitfalls of that in the Cancer horoscope). You’re working to get the job done and, thankfully, you will have abundant energy and ability to focus. While things rarely go perfectly every day on our particular planet, you’re likely to have the feeling that you’re making progress and that your work is relevant and helpful to others. You can guide that gently into paying the bills, which in turn will reveal a good few methods for how to do so even better in the future.

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