Vashon Island, Friday, May 25, 2007

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Photo by Arun Kale.
Photo by Arun Kale.

On Birds and Dreams

By Judith Gayle

SOME SAY life is an illusion, a home movie projected by the collective unconscious on our personal viewing screen. In these days of heavy Neptunian influence, there seem to be a number of different realities playing out at once. We've got a split-screen going on, a multiplex, and it's hard to know which one to follow carefully, which to keep an eye on, which to ignore.

When I was a little kid we'd go to the drive-in on Saturday night and park in the section for the movie we'd picked; if you turned around and looked out the back window, you'd see three more giant screens showing three other films. When I got bored with whatever my parents had chosen, I'd turn and watch the other three, eyes darting from screen to screen, trying to make sense of them without dialogue. Lip reading, it turns out, is next to impossible, so I was forced to watch body language, response, costume, backdrop to get an idea of what was going on. It was good training for decoding these early years of the 21st century -- most of politics, I've found, is performance...maybe even most of life.

With Neptune opposing structured, responsible Saturn, we've had a series of shocks to the dearly held notions about our society, our leaders, and our nation that are akin to being absorbed in an epic movie and having the film break and the house lights come up. You know how cranky that makes you, especially if you were enjoying yourself. I remember the film breaking at a showing of Star Wars, years back, that I momentarily feared would lead to riot. Neptune has gone retrograde now, backing up again to let us consider our discomfort with the realities that are clamoring to intrude on us and, perhaps, notice how shabby the theater seats are and the many rips in the screen. We have plenty to be "dis-illusioned" about. We need to put down our popcorn and notice.

Continued at this link...

Today's essay by Eric Francis is an archive selection,
distributed while Eric is on sabbatical.

Sabian Symbols
Friday 24th June 2005

What Are the Sabian Symbols?

Hi Eric,

I am intrigued by the Sabian Symbols and actually do find that they seem to relate to people's angles and degrees of placement. Would love to hear your comments in general.


Dear Kristy

The Sabian Symbols are a relatively new astrology tool -- a degree-by-degree symbolic reference system -- invented in 1925 by the beloved Rev. Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, one of the truly original astrologers of our times. To create the system, he worked with a clairvoyant named Elsie Wheeler. Unfortunately, the exact date of their project is not known, or we could have a chart for the creation of the symbols

The Sabian Symbols are an exceptionally easy tool for even the most inexperienced astrologer, but also provide the most advanced astrologers with excellent information. They help illustrate and demonstrate the level of astrology that is symbolic, rather than that which is 'caused by a planet' or 'scientific'. They are, in a sense, based on pure synchronicity.

The Sabian Symbols comprise the first system that gives each of the 360 degrees of the zodiac an image or idea. Today, there are a number of these available, and every one I've picked up has at least been interesting and relevant to my chart. But the Sabian Symbols are the originals, and they are the most widely used -- so they are an important tool for astrologers conveying information to one another, and to the public.

To create the symbols, Marc Jones and a friend named Elsie Wheeler spent the day in a park in San Diego. Jones had brought with him a set of 360 index cards, on the back of which a degree of the zodiac was written (1 Aries, 2 Aries, and so on, up to 30 Pisces). The cards were shuffled and then, randomly, without looking at the degree written on the back, he would draw a card and Wheeler, would give him an image that appeared to her. Jones wrote down what she said. By the end of the day -- one day, with a lunch break -- they had scribed the whole set.

Jones took the cards back to the office and put them in order, and was surprised to see that the sequence made sense. Over the coming months, he wrote notes that explained and elaborated on what he felt the significance of the symbol was. In addition, he researched planetary placements of famous individuals and related them to the symbol for the degree in which the planet fell.

Here is a bit of history that hopefully I have not pulverized too badly. The name 'Sabian' relates to an occult brotherhood in Mesopotamia (specifically, Babylon), in the cradle of civilization, to which Jones felt the symbols had an association. Mesopotamia is in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley, in and around what today we call Syria and Iraq. It is believed to be the birthplace of agriculture, mathematics, accounting and many other developments considered to be a part of the modern world. Mesopotamia is also believed by many to be the birthplace of astrology; the term 'Chaldean' is at times used synonymously with both astrologer and Babylonian. It's unclear whether all of this knowledge derives from an older, prehistoric civilization such as Atlantis, for which Mesopotamia was a refuge or holdout, or whether the knowledge actually came into being there.

In any event, Sabian is the name for the channeled symbols, which Jones helped bring into being, and which have become a truly significant part of the astrology we practice. As the symbols are used more extensively, they form an ever-stronger morphic field -- that is, a psychic strength or power, as well as a natural resonance with more individuals. This process roots them more firmly in collective consciousness. In a sense, the longer they are used, by more people, the better they work.

The fact that the symbols, though randomly channeled, possess an internal structure and logic is partly what makes them so compelling. But it's also the fact that when you look up the symbols for degrees which your own planets occupy, they are likely to reveal much about your chart and how you relate to it.

The symbols were reworkd in the 1960s by a student and colleague of Jones, another renowned and beloved astrologer (and musical composer) named Dane Rudhyar. He re-released them in a book called "An Astrological Mandala," still widely available, which is considered by many astrologers to be the definitive version. Jones and his version have their followers, and the older edition is still in print. Rudhyar revised some of them, modernized them, and wrote his own commentaries about how they relate to their signs, their place in their sign (each zodiac sign consists of six cycles of five symbols each), and to a particular psychological process associated with that sign. Indeed it is this psychological and spiritual aspect of the symbols that Rudhyar reveals so well, and which is likely to be why so many people relate to his version of the set.

When using the symbols, it's important to follow this method of relating them to a particular degree. From 00 degrees and 1' (zero degrees and one arc minute) of a sign, the point or angle occupies the first degree, all the way up to 1 degree and 00' (zero arc minutes) of a degree. From 1 degree and 01' you are in the second degree, all the way up to 2 degrees and 00'. By this method, from 29 degrees and 01' up to 30 degrees and 00' is the 30th degree of a sign.

Therefore, if a planet is at 24 degrees and 03', you would use the symbol for the 25th degree. This is in the instructions for the book, it's consistent with ancient astrology -- and it's often done incorrectly.

Here are a few examples of Sabian Symbols at work. The symbols that begin the seasons are really quite interesting. Here they are:

Aries 1: A woman just risen from the sea. A seal is embracing her. (This is the degree for the Aries Point, or first degree of the zodiac -- it depicts the creation of humanity. Curiously, it's more an image of the creation of Venus than the creation of Mars, but still, we have a creation image.)

Cancer 1: On a ship, the sailors lower an old flag and raise a new one.

Libra 1: In a collection of perfect specimens of many biological forms, a butterfly displays the beauty of its wings, its body impaled by a fine dart.

Capricorn 1: An Indian chief claims power from the assembled tribe.

Sometimes, events have unusual synchronicities associated with the symbols; other times, they are cryptic and seem to directly contradict the event, sometimes with such force as to be ironic.

The degree rising for the Sept. 11 attacks, also occupied by the planet Mercury, was 'Circular Paths', which Rudhyar suggests is about "Coming to terms with the inevitability of establishing steady rhythms of social activity." Certainly, the attacks established a steady rhythm of social activity in terms of fear on the march that is leading us nowhere.

Chiron was discovered in 1977 in the 4th degree of Taurus, 'The Pot of gold at the End of the Rainbow', which Rudhyar says is about the linking of the mundane and the celestial order. Here is additional confirmation of the bridge imagery that is so prevalent with Chiron.

The Moon of photographer Ansel Adams is in the degree Leo 5, with the symbol, 'Rock formations tower over a deep canyon'. It could be a description of one of his photographs -- the Moon itself included.

The Moon of former president George H.W. Bush is at Libra 18, with the symbol, 'Two men placed under arrest'. Rudhyars explanation: "A breakdown in the constructive relationship between the individual and society, and the expectable result." Ya.

Contradicting Transits

Hi Eric,

I've had my natal chart and upcoming transits done through a computerized website (astrodienst), and I've been trying to use it to learn how to do my own predictions. But one thing has me puzzled, and I think others may be wondering about this too. At any given time, there are multiple transits going on to one's natal chart, and sometimes the predicted effects seem to contradict each other. For example, in late July/early August I will have Saturn opposing my natal Mars, but trining my natal Saturn. The former is supposed to cause problems, the latter is supposed to be good. So which one takes precedence (or do they just cancel each other out)?

Is there a rule of thumb for figuring out which transit carries more weight?


Dear Puzz,

Your question reaches to the essence of why we need astrologers to do our charts -- or why we must really use prepared reports in an active way, as a research tool, rather than as a thing we swallow whole. Often the individual interpretations given in a prepared report for a given transit are excellent.

But then we need the mind of an astrologer to assemble the pieces of the whole, and apply the various factors to one another and take the interpretation to a new level. The same holds true for 'cookbook' type textbooks, books like Robert Hand's "Planets in Transit." In much the same way, the individual ideas can be valid commentaries, particularly if you contrast them with others. But then, somehow, there needs to be an added factor of putting the puzzle together.

There are ALWAYS multiple transits going on at the same time. Together, they form a pattern that relates to a set of experiences in our lives. I'll use your chart as an example, since you've written with the question. Since I don't really know what's happening with you personally, I'll need to stick to your chart and let you fill in the more important part, about your life.

Before I do so, I'll add this. I suggest you take a phase of your life that was either very meaningful or really intense (often these factors arrive together). Then, do your transits for that era and see how the combination of forces paralleled the combination of events, ultimately leading to one cohesive experience of life. Studying past transits is a truly valuable way to study astrology.

But as for the present. Here's your chart:


And, though this is in black and white, here's a chart symbols legend.

Let's use the example of transiting Saturn opposing natal Mars, but trine natal Saturn. The reason it can do both of these things at the same time is because you have an exact sextile aspect between Mars and Saturn.

Can everyone SEE this transit? Mars is easy to find; it looks like the thing on the door of a men's room. It's red in this chart. Mars is in Aquarius (blue squiggly lines). When Saturn goes into Leo in July, it will make an opposing transit to natal Mars. To see this, you have to imagine an 'extra' Saturn outside the wheel up in Leo near the left side of the chart. If we can, we'll draw this in using Photoshop.

That's one transit. At the same time, because you have NATAL Mars and Saturn in a close aspect, Saturn will be aspecting natal Saturn as well. Saturn is the yellow planet counter-clockwise. Your natal Saturn is in Sagittarius, and transiting Saturn will be in Leo. That means that Saturn is making a trine (by transit) to your natal Saturn.

Now, as these things go, I would not rate this as a major turning point in one's life. But let's look at the mix of energies and see if we can come up with something that makes sense to another reasonable human being, or to you.

Saturn opposite Mars in Aquarius has the feeling of an obstructing factor that gets you to focus. There is the sense of having a lot of very idealistic creative ideas (Mars -- Aquarius -- 5th) but which you need some kind of containment to express. There's a factor that comes along in the form of that transiting Saturn, which says, 'we want your creativity, but we want it in this particular way, and then you can do whatever else you want'.

Notice how the house placement of the planet(s) involved becomes important. The 5th is a particularly meaningful house for you because you have Chiron there, which really fires it up, and gets you craving experiences that you don't necessarily get to have. We could look at one natal Chiron aspect in particular to see that -- Mercury (in Taurus, up in the 8th house) square Chiron (in Aquarius in the 5th).

I need to interpret here, since I don't have you to ask, but that feels a little like: 'If I dare to express my creativity and let go, I'll cause total chaos. But I really need to express myself. I just don't know how to do it'.

Mars in the 5th is what you would actually be expressing. And it turns out that Chiron is in the transit picture. It's now making a long exact conjunction to your natal Mars. Transiting Chiron, remember, is now in the early degrees of Aquarius. So is your natal Mars. So Mars is getting a conjunction from transiting Chiron and is about to get an opposition from transiting Saturn. It's in a kind of squeeze.

So -- what's the squeeze?

Is it involving a creative project, or a relationship? This is the part where you have to fill in the blanks, wait and see, and take the appropriate action. Here is where the trine from transiting Saturn to natal Saturn comes into play. Your natal Saturn is in the 3rd house, in Sagittarius. This reminds me a little of a fixed belief system that does not want to change when the time comes to change your possibilities by changing your beliefs.

I would add one last transit note. At the moment, there is one you have not factored: transiting Saturn conjunct natal Uranus. This is one that is in progress now. And it's here to show you something; which is how to be the unique person you are in the world of commerce and conformism. Saturn is giving a shape to your 'uranian' energy, and it's also teaching you to be more stable.

All of these transits have the combination of frustrate -- excite -- express all working together. There are similar veins of thought running though them; Saturn both conjoining Uranus and then opposing your Aquarius Mars is the frustrate/contain/focus your energy aspect. Chiron is stirring up Mars (and in reality also Uranus and Saturn, since it's in the midst of transits to all of them). But as far as I can tell, the focus is on the 5th: art, experimentation, sex and taking risks.

I hope this gives you a little idea of 'live interpretation', which is of course only half the story -- the little half. The bigger half is you -- what you DO with these energies.

I could have just as easily put this in the front of this response, but let me say it here. Transits are not just things that 'happen to us'. Au contraire, they are opportunities we have, resources, and energies made available.

And like life, they are always complex mixtures of 'good', 'bad', weird, predictable and surprising. But WE are the ones making the choices, if we can muster up the guts and awareness to do so.

Thanks for writing!

Asking About Asteroids

Dear Eric,

Please could you tell us all about the asteroids you regularly use in all your charts and why you use them.

Many Thanks

Dear Mary,

This is big territory -- very big. I've devoted quite a few articles to it, some of which I'll include at the bottom of this reply.

At the peak of my asteroid use, late last year, I was working with about 80 bodies in all. These included the major planets, the first four asteroids (Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta, discovered between 1801 and 1807), a different kind of planet called Chiron (discovered in 1977, not an asteroid), and a variety of named centaur planets (bodies in Chiron's class, discovered 1992 to present). I also used about 8 planets beyond Pluto (called transneptunian objects, or TNOs) and then about 50 asteroids. [All of these are included in a feature called The Planets Now by Tracy Delaney.]

Collectively, there are other planets besides the big nine that are called the 'minor planets'. There are many categorizations, mainly used by astronomers, and also by some astrologers.

Each type of body has a different feel, and a different place in human experience and psychology. And while some tend to be deeper or more psychological than others, in truth, any of these planets can offer truly profound insight into the nature of a person or of how their chart works.

In general, the asteroids (such as Pallas Athene, Psyche, Sphinx, and Hidalgo) give detail. They help point to the exact circumstances surrounding the situations of our lives. They can provide stunning clarity and accuracy, if you are patient and allow them to speak. For example, Psyche talks about the sense of oneself as having a 'wound that cannot be healed', usually psychic or a kind of soul wound. It can be healed, of course, but Psyche can represent the sense that it can't be, and the key to finding how to resolve the thought pattern.

J. Lee Lehman, in "The Ultimate Asteroid Book," says that asteroids, 'have few concepts allocated to [each] and their being small and numerous may allow for many, very exact meanings'. Conversely, the planets have many very large, vague meanings, but the asteroids have very precise significance. This statement is only half true; some of the asteroids are exceedingly complex, and at the same time, conventional planets can have highly specific meanings in a given context.

The centaurs (Chiron-like bodies, including Pholus, Nessus, Asbolus, Chariklo, and Hylonome) talk about transformation processes, healing processes, as well as psychological tools we use to get through life. For example, Asbolus talks about how we handle extremes of adversity and danger as children. Nessus talks about abuse patterns in the family of origin, and how they manifest psychologically in adults.

The TNOs (objects in andbeyond Pluto's orbit) talk about where the deep psychological patterns of society meet the deep psychological patterns of an individual. For example, Quaoar talks about the family patterns of our personal lives and how they mirror society. It also addresses our personal creation mythology, including how we came to be who we are.

Now, astrologers who don't use these planets often say, 'The regular planets can give you the same information'. Perhaps, and I try to make a habit of, every time I make an interpretation using minor planets, looking at the chart and asking what a traditional astrologer would see if they did not have the advantage of the minor planets.

However, here's the catch. The minor planets help us define issues, they help us spot specific circumstances, and they tell us a lot about the stories that we live by. They open up our minds to ideas and to ways of looking at the world. It is true that you can tell a lot about someone from their major planets. But when you discover that a person has an asteroid right in their ascendant that speaks volumes to the themes of their life...well, that's another story. When you find out they have an exact conjunction of a centaur to the Moon and another to the Sun, that deepens the chart.

It's neither necessary nor possible to use all the minor planets in a session. There are tens of thousands with names, so that's not going to happen. But the way to work with them is to develop relationships over long periods of time, so that you have some sense of who these critters are when you need them, or when they show up.

The influences of newly discovered minor planets are studied by observing charts (for people or events) when there is a conjunction to a major planet or the ascendant, and then noticing the themes and correlations to 'real life'. The themes are also deduced through the names and mythology of the body, the shape of its orbit, and other astronomical details.

One of the more stunning examples I have ever seen of a minor planet revealing its nature was that during the Scorpio New Moon last year, the Sun and Moon were conjunct the centaur Hylonome. Scorpio is about death, rebirth and transformation. This is a centaur about the healing of grief and that has been given the additional keywords, 'the cry of the people'. The New Moon was, exact to the day and hour, during the funeral of Yasser Arafat.

To give you an idea of what one of my typical minor planet charts looks like, here's an example, partly hand drawn, from my collection -- an eclipse from later in the year:

I've found that the best sources on the minor planets, all in Google, include the "Astrology Encyclopedia" by James R. Lewis, as well as anything by Martha Lang Wescott (very detailed and technically oriented, but excellent keywords), as well as Melanie Reinhart.

Here are two of my articles, the first on the first four asteroids and the second on Chiron, some centaurs and TNOs, and the third on two newer outer planets, from this column, plus extras:

Goddesses of Astrology by Eric

Worlds Beyond Neptune by Eric

Q/A response from this series about Sedna and Quaoar

Chiron homepage on Planet Waves with many articles

Maratha Lang Wescott, awesome author

Melanie Reinhart, another awesome author

Photo by Arun Kale.
Photo by Arun Kale.

Gemini Solar Return
By Eric Francis

Dear Gemini Friend and Reader:

It would be easy to sum up Gemini birthdays this year as beginning the time of completion of Pluto in Sagittarius, a transit that has been a profound influence in your life the past dozen years. That, however, is mostly in the background, for our purposes today -- save for those born the last half-week of Gemini, and those born with the last five or so degrees of Gemini rising. For you, Pluto is still very active, and a time of completion is indeed upon you. Yet we need to bear in mind that Pluto will be changing houses in your solar chart and every other solar chart through 2008 and 2009.

For most Gemini children, Pluto has become something that at least feels normal, and to which you have become more or less accustomed. The astrology of the coming four seasons is best described by your ruling planet, Mercury, moving first through your birth sign (where it currently is) and then taking a retrograde in your 2nd solar house, Cancer. I will go through the stages of this cycle week by week, and propose how they will play out as solar return (birthday) readings, but in general, we have a situation that looks a little like this.

Relationships are intense, particularly if they mean something to us, and often even when we think they do not. Mainly, they serve to teach us about ourselves, or they do if we're the least bit willing to learn. Yet you're discovering a whole new kind of learning, which involves raising how you feel about yourself to a high level of awareness. I've noticed that for most people, self-consciousness is distinctly uncomfortable, but with Mercury so active at the time of your solar return, diving into Cancer and then going retrograde there, such awareness will be both necessary and a driving force in the decisions you make this year. The first decision is how you feel about yourself.

To sum up, you may have thought that your life was predominantly about someone else, or the quest for someone else. Yet at the end of this educational process, we get a message that your life is about a far more complex relationship, you to yourself. The better this relationship goes, the easier it is to accept how meaningful it is. I would say it's going pretty well right now, so this would be a great time to remember that how you feel about yourself is basically the one decision that mediates all the rest of your reality, from how much money you have, to whether your relationships are satisfying, to whether you get to spend your days doing at least some of what you really want to do.

The opportunities are with you now. Life is coming toward you and at many points this year, offering itself to you. Yet in many ways life is receptor mediated: we can only have as much of it as we can accept.

The Basic Astrology

When the Sun went into Gemini this week, Mercury was in your sign and Venus was in Cancer, your 2nd solar house. The two were in a parallel aspect. Jupiter is in Sagittarius most of the year, your opposite sign. Pluto is close to the Galactic Core in Sagittarius, and late in the year there is a quadruple conjunction of Mercury, Jupiter, the Sun and the Galactic Core. Much of the year, Vesta is in your opposite sign Sagittarius, close to a point called the Great Attractor. For the Gemini annual report in the Spiral Door, please see this link.

The solar return dates below are approximate. Several of the installments may relate to your experience. The themes can recur in original ways for you -- use your imagination.

May 21-28 (Mercury in Gemini phase, Moon waxing, Venus in Cancer, Mercury opposite Pluto).

Events of this year may seem to be a throwback to a much earlier time in your life, when you had less focus, less sense of your influence in the world, and seemed to be more at the mercy of external factors. Yet it is not that earlier time -- it is now. There is likely to be a confrontation involved, but one that you initiate for your own clarity rather than something that just happens to you.

More to the point, there have been many times in the past when you were more likely to be of two minds about things, and long years of experience taught you to basically work with one primary opinion. Events of the coming seasons will remind you of that learning process, and serve as a kind of review for getting back in contact with yourself as a unified rather than as a divided individual.

What you may have avoided in the past, you are likely to be seeking by decision. This gives you the unusual strength -- I dare say power, and a measure of control -- that comes with taking initiative in a situation. Taking initiative implies that you trust yourself enough to do so.

If you feel pretty good about yourself, this is easier. In case you haven't noticed, this is available: at the very least, you can trust what you know, and it's relatively easy to trust what you feel is important to you. This information is more likely to be conveyed emotionally or intuitively than it is by conscious recognition. It's also likely that at the point where you put your sense of strength to work, you will just simply do so by instinct or necessity, rather than have a long intellectual process precede it.

Here is the catch. What you get into which at first seems like a simple or natural process, particularly in a relationship with someone you perceive as more powerful than you, is likely to lead to a long and unexpected process of growth and discovery. In other words, you may not know what you're getting into. You may never have gotten into it if you did know. However, though time and experience will be demanded of you, along with going through some deep personal changes, I trust that you'll decide you did the right thing.

Let this all be a reminder that you cannot jump ahead of your growth; which is a reminder that this is a rare opportunity, available only now. Stick with your process. You have a lot to learn about coexisting with those you perceive as having power over you, particularly sexual or financial power, and what knowledge and experience you develop from the relationship will prove to be truly valuable in the next few years.

Can you have fun while you're doing this? But of course -- if you like to play with fire, you'll have a lot of fun. If you like to sharpen your wits against those of people who in prior times may have intimidated you to the point of silence, this is a great time to learn to speak, to listen and to feel. And I suggest you bear in mind that the events of the immediate moment are here to prepare you for a deeper, more complex story that evolves later in the year. Rather than concerning yourself with the future, consider what you are doing now, and how it benefits you as a learning experience.

May 29-June 5 (Mercury in Cancer, aspecting the Aries Point; Moon in full phase; Venus ingresses Leo; Sun in Gemini opposite Jupiter; Sun in Gemini square Uranus).

You seem to be leading two lives, natural enough territory for you -- but these days there is a special color to the dichotomy. The Sun making many aspects around the time of your solar return suggests that you are seeking a time of adventure, learning, and creating new experience for yourself. Yet Mercury in Cancer suggests a deep time of self re-evaluation.

Whatever may happen in "the world," your experience of life is in many respects dictated by your opinion of your experience. This I encourage you to indulge. Rather than looking for a seemingly objective position, consider how you feel about what you live through and let that lead the way. I'm not saying that only your opinion matters; I am saying that your experience is your starting point. What happens to you is in many respects about you. The more you are able to affirm your feelings, the more you will exist in the world around you on equal terms with others.

For a while, it's reasonable to allow your feelings, your ideas and your values to entirely dominate your reality. If others need to get through to you, they will do so, so you don't need to worry about bowling anyone over or being seen as self-centered. Indeed, the whole point of the current astrology is to give you the chance to center on yourself, no matter how emotional, irrational or intuitive you may become in the process. If others can't relate to you, so be it; sooner or later, you will be able to make contact with others regarding the discoveries you make now. This is to say, your way of relating is shifting, though I would propose that this is a step along the way to something else.

What is that something else? Well, if you can fully experience your reaction or response to a situation and really possess that as your own, it's safer to accept someone else for who they are. The deeper you go into yourself, according to this theory, the deeper you will be able to experience the people you care about. And there is plenty going on in their lives that is not only fascinating and compelling, but which is also something you have earned with many years of conscious learning in relationships.

Rather than your partners and close friends feeling that your emotional journey is somehow alienating, I trust that they will welcome your ability to relate exclusively from your experience. The high-powered types that you typically draw to you in your relationships would love nothing more than for you to be the master of your experiences and opinions, and for you to end the debate about what is right and wrong and delve into what is so.

Any opportunity to do something new, or go someplace new, on your own or with someone you care about, is totally worth considering. What may have been a long, somewhat vague list of places to go is likely to have boiled down to a few specific destinations, for specific reasons -- keep them in mind, and particularly as winter approaches, do your best to minimize your commitments so that you're actually free to move around the planet. Events of the late summer will remind you of the temporary nature of this thing called place. You live where you are in any moment, and your home is portable, not a fixed location.

June 6-June 15 (Mercury in echo phase; waning Moon into New Moon; Sun opposes Jupiter, then squares Uranus).

Try not to be too picky about whether you're making progress. It's not necessarily possible to distinguish whether you're going forward or backward. Progress is not the theme of the moment: re-evaluation is. Now is the time to question all the unquestioned assumptions of the past. What are they? Well, you don't really know -- by definition, you have not encountered them yet.

I would say that most people feel their values are original. But if you listen to what marketing people tell us, for example, that if you grew up in a Comet household rather than an Ajax household you're more likely to stick to your ancestral scouring powder, you may wonder.

I would also say that most people feel that either their early childhood didn't really affect them so much, or that it did so in ways that are not accessible and don't really matter. (Either that, or we're so fucked up we'd better not think about it at all.) I suggest that if you have even a hint of this, allow your assumption questioning to begin here.

Quite often, the past is the present. If we want to find the real present, we need explore the past first. It won't be necessary to write a bestselling autobiography (though you may want to); however, journaling your observations will set you ahead in this journey. See if you remember how you experienced life as a child. Go as far back as you can. Try to remember all the interesting things that adults told you about "the way the world is" and about what is really important. See if you can remember what they told you about you. Make a list. It may be scary. If you were lucky, somebody read you Dr. Seuss. However, he had a reason for existence: he knew about all the weird things that adults say. He knew they will inadvertently (or go out of their way to) set limits on young people.

The movement of your planet, Mercury, through the early degrees of Cancer presents you with an opportunity to get a clear sense of what went on in the past and how it shaped your awareness. However, this is something you will need to look for consciously in order to see. Though you may be followed by a sense of déjà vu, you will still need to notice it and not be dismissive of the experience. Remember that we don't always want to find out what limits us, as if knowing would make it worse. I don't think it will; to the contrary, the more you know about what hangs you up, the more you will be able to free yourself from it. Merely being aware (awareness is never "mere," but you get the idea) will go a long way to set you free.

If you explore the current world with the perception of a child, you will discover a newer world than the one you found as a child. To do this well, you may want to crawl around on your hands and knees. Hang out with little kids under the age of four. Stay late at work, and circumnavigate your office crawling. Walk around the world with no plan for some time every day, and see what you just happen to bump into or where you end up. Try getting lost somewhere. If possible, visit your old neighborhood. Take some notes on what you remember, or take pictures.

If you have kids, listen to the things you say to them. You may want to set a news alert for the things that you tell them that your parents told you. Often this happens automatically -- but what you're looking for now is the gateway out of all that old material. The Sun's aspects to Jupiter and Uranus represent a bold moment of leaping into a new set of ideas about life. You may feel so confined by ancient wisdom or the lack thereof that creating new ideas will feel like breathing after holding your breath.

The best that life has to offer will come as something of a jolt to your awareness. Most hobbits like life to be the way that is comfortable, but I would propose this. What you were taught as a comfort zone is not actually so cozy; it is more confining. What you learn about this territory may be stunning. If so, that is likely to lead you to a new awareness that you may consciously use to change the direction of your life in ways that you may have considered radical yesterday, but which will seem healthy, sane and functional tomorrow.

June 16-21 (Moon is waxing toward first quarter; Mercury stations retrograde in Cancer; Moon occults Venus; Moon occults Saturn; Sun opposes Pluto, just one week till the last exact opposition of Saturn and Neptune).

The theme of reevaluating your past and values is redoubled for this phase of Gemini solar returns, as suggested by the retrograde of Mercury. Yet this takes on an eminently practical, real-world dimension. The deeper the re-evaluation, the more focused will be your ability to let go of what is really and truly finished. A wide variety of aspects speaks to your need to make some kind of total break with your past, or an important aspect of your past.

To do this, it's going to help a great deal to know your history. However, this is less likely to be your linear history and more your emotional history, your ancestry, the long family patterns that nobody really notices or admits, and finally, your embracing racial and ethnic heritage in a new way. You may want to uncover the story of how you actually came into being. It's probably different than you think, but you won't know until you find out.

Along the way, you will likely discover a lot about how you came to feel the way you do about yourself and about your existence. We tend to cling to our past opinions, but for you this is like being handcuffed to your chair. You may, actually, notice that this is how you feel, and you may want to use your other hand to call up dial-a-hacksaw and cut yourself free. You've known you needed to do this for a long time, and I trust that you know now is the time.

There are two occultations (exact conjunctions of a planet by the Moon) during your solar return phase. Occultations are like eclipses in that they represent tangible, even radical breaks in continuity. An extremely unusual coalescence of events may add up to decisions that seem equally unusual and daring. We might ask "what does it all mean?" yet we need to give events their meaning, rather than having that meaning imposed on us. It's a fine idea to remind yourself that events today don't mean what they meant in the past; that is the main difference between then and now.

Factors exist that are likely to take much of this re-evaluation into your most personal relationships. For this phase of Gemini solar returns, you are still well into the zone of Pluto opposing your Sun. This is considered one of the most challenging transits in astrology, because it compels so much awareness in relationships, and moreover, enhances their impact on our lives. This is why it will benefit you to stay in the moment and evaluate people and situations consciously and carefully. This is also a time to have no taboos, no sacred cows, and no secrets from yourself.

Because of our past attachments and values about sex, most of which are sentimental in nature (and tattooed into our brains by family and religion), we tend to miss the wide diversity of erotic experiences that are possible. We tend to project sex into the drama of one-on-one relationships that have "commitment" as a feature and (more significantly) some degree of social and family sanction -- and rarely deviate from this (if so, typically with the help of a lot of alcohol). However, at this point in your life, you seem willing to experiment with another sexual reality of some kind, perhaps one that is more transcendent; that is, something that takes you well beyond what has been familiar in the past.

Erotic doesn't necessarily apply to just sex; it is a viewpoint, an experience, an orientation. Anything can be experienced erotically, and you may recall a time in your life when this was distinctly true. Yet the concept most assuredly applies to sex, per se. It might be easier to describe potential properties of this new dimension.
- Willingness to drop your agenda and let the energy flow. This implies allowing a distinction between relationship values (the agenda) and your erotic experience.

- Being completely in the moment of an encounter and immersing yourself in another state of reality. This can mean encountering the power of others.

- Being willing to take a chance, to encounter the unknown, and to experience the "other side" of who you are. Everyone has desires they don't admit. Now may be the time to admit them and make them real.

- Feeling where erotic experience takes you -- beyond your "role" in life and into a new state of existence. You could call this the erotic priestess or Vesta consciousness: the power to bestow pleasure and to apply erotic energy as a healing experience, and taking pleasure to a new level by consciously dropping your inhibitions and guilt.

- Being creative with your experiences, which includes breaking some taboos. To do this, it's helpful to be willing to encounter uncomfortable situations, and to try again if something is not quite fulfilling. This is a time to take a few of your favorite fantasies and explore ways to make them into reality.

- Being radically honest with people about sex -- including the people you want and don't want.

- Encountering the mystical aspect of sex, which is if course easier said than done -- but it can be done, and the first ingredient is willingness to do so, and to embrace the moment you are in for all its strange beauty.
Your responses to your sexual experiences will be revealing of the whole nature of your life. Let these experiences change you. Don't miss the psychological miracle of standing up to your father and father figures (in the most pleasant and liberating way) that manifests in the process. In essence, the theme is that confrontation is really about being willing to live your life, to change and to at least experiment with freedom.

In an odd way, all of this is a means to an end. You are in a phase where you are going deep, and where one discovery will lead to another in some rather unexpected ways. One experience will lead to another; your past, and consequently your present life, will transform as a result, but there really is no predicting in what ways.

-- Written May 24, 2007

Gemini. Photo by Deirdre Tanton.
Gemini. Photo by Deirdre Tanton.

Planet Waves
Monthly horoscope for June 2007, standing in for weekly horoscope #664 - By ERIC FRANCIS

 (March 20-April 19)
It's unlikely you're leaving any stone unturned or taking any insecurity for granted. How could you, when your mind is working overtime attempting to figure out the source of what troubles you? The figuring may be part of the problem, however. It does not help that there are moments when you really do feel like you can calculate the nature of your emotional needs and odd hesitancies. That little taste of success is enough to keep you going in what amounts to the wrong direction (forward). Try orienting yourself in reverse: in time, in your assessment of what you want, and internally rather than externally. Consider the child you are rather than the adult you are forced to be. Consider what you do not say as being the most significant indicator of what you truly want to say. Look for your reflection in the fears and dysfunctional beliefs of others. Imagine what they are not saying, and you'll have a clue what you are not saying. Then listen to yourself.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You may well be asking whether current developments amount to a union, or a separation. Let's say they are both, and that one depends on the other. Many seeming opposites at the moment depend on one another, and what all the different factors have in common is encountering something, some situation, that feels much larger than yourself, perhaps more compelling than you're accustomed to admitting and even way over your head. The separating factor is about letting go of a past experience or model of yourself that you cannot bring into the new phase you're entering. This transition has a lot to do with your parents; you are seeing, maybe for the first time, how vastly different you are from them. However, the intellectual awareness of this difference matters not. What is happening is an energetic experience of being entirely different with every cell in your body, sloughing off so much weight and expectation, and emerging somewhere new with the ability to choose what you want, based on who you are.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
You have better things to count than your pennies. Since you seem to be intent on counting, what I suggest you consider is yourself. You need to start in the past. I can tell you from working as an astrologer for more than a decade that most people have no clue, none at all, the effect that their early family environment had on their psyche. We all need to stop being defensive about this -- stop being afraid to piss off our parents; moreover, stop kissing their asses, and get honest about what was done to us as kids. For those who are parents, this will make you a better parent, which is not beside the point, at the moment. While you're doing your damage assessment, I suggest you also note the ways that what happened to you has helped you; we are never injured without being given some corresponding, often greater, reward. But understanding just what was going on in those early reaches of the past deserves your full attention at the moment, and much of that involves the value you were taught to put on yourself. This is a rare opportunity to reckon your accounts.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You have a right to change your mind. To do that, you have to know your mind, and for that, you need to find out what's there. I trust that you'll discover many things -- ideas, beliefs, patterns of thought -- that you don't need, and once you identify them, you're in an excellent position to let them go. I don't propose you concern yourself with what is new, what you want to create, or what you are seeking, but rather with the process of identifying and releasing, in that order. In essence, you will be making room for what is new, and at the same time, learning to identify what is what, so that you have a basis for deciding whether you really want it; whether it's useful; whether it helps or hinders you. Current aspects are providing you with the potential to reach an astonishing depth in this process, and to see and understand yourself in a way that is typically impossible for human beings. To do this effectively, you will need space and time, hopefully something more than evenings and weekends.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Gestation is a sensitive process, as anyone who has gone through pregnancy has learned. It's delicate for the fetus, and equally so for the host. The relationship compels us to explore the boundary between the two, recognizing the ways that we are one with what we create, and the ways we must distinguish ourselves from it. And more than anything, on some level we come to terms with the creative process being something that works through us and with us, but which is not entirely under our control. What exactly are you creating, and how? Whatever it may be, it's leading you on a deep journey into yourself, and very likely deep into your past. The image that comes across in the astrology is something akin to diving into a deep, watery inner world, swimming down to the bottom of the ocean, and retrieving yourself down there. If you feel limited by any factors in the outer or waking world, remember that a large part of your consciousness is preoccupied. Shape your life with that awareness and you'll have enough energy for everything.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You are in a long stretch of life where others are providing a great deal of your impetus, motivation and creative fire. You have some excellent teachers, just the right kind: not just iconoclasts, but inventors. When you look back on these years, you will be blown away by how much you learned from the people who are closest to you, the people who you chose and those who chose you -- and they are not done coming into your life. Once again, this energy comes to a peak, but now a strategy involving a group becomes the focus. This may not be apparent until later in the month, and you will have plenty to keep you busy until then. The extra energy you put into your professional activities will be well worth it, as long as you remind yourself that your success is not a popularity contest. In actual fact, a little dissent is a good sign, and it will prompt you to invent the strategy for cooperation that seems like an inevitable development. If you find yourself searching for the right people with just a little edge of emotional irritation, you're on the right track.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
In the long story that is your life, this month presents you with an unusual development. You seem to be looking for a person, a place or a specific niche in your community, and I reckon you are about to find it. The key is this: do not hold yourself back. I suggest you abandon judgments about things like pride, being a show-off, seeming like the queen bee, or charging too much for your wares. Forget it. Come on at full strength, in the full flush of your power. Then, prepare for some kind of humbling experience that puts everything into context. This could be a meeting with a person whose authority you respect, with an institution or organization that recognizes who you are, or with some kind of limitation with which you have to contend. Whatever happens, it begins one way and winds up another way: you're likely to start off feeling quite uncomfortable, and end up feeling like you're in exactly the right place at the right time.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Don't you sometimes wish you could scream and shake people and get them to be less passive? Well, of course you do. But you may not need to scream, and you may not need to say much at all. Key people in your life seem ready to take the authority that you need in order to trust them. You are an authoritative person by nature, though you tend to lose ground due to a certain passivity of your own, in particular your reticence to reveal yourself too much, to offer praise, or to clearly state your needs. On the other hand, you can be extremely aggressive about getting those needs met. If you can understand your own relationship between where you push and where you hold back, you will have some excellent perspective on someone who is working through a similar set of emotional circumstances. You'll also be a lot more likely to recognize when someone is actually taking leadership, offering ideas highly valuable to you, and in effect, saying yes -- in their own way.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Peaks and valleys, rushes and lulls, are streaming through your life. Take advantage of a relative calm spell to redistribute your energy. This may actually be a brief phase when less is demanded of you, when your ideas come on a little less furiously, and when the situation in your household is easier to consider. It's all rather subtle, though, like the difference between a bolt of lightning (your usual state of energy) and a computer chip (what you currently have going on). There seems to be one particular belief or value with which you're struggling. I would describe it as a place where you want your ideas about life to be free, but where you feel you're stuck, restricted, or trapped in your ideology. Now, another person, someone you care about deeply, seems to be entering the same dilemma. I suggest you not fall for the limitation aspect of this idea, but rather go past that to the potential that it describes. Apply the concept of 'negative space'. Something you see as an issue describes the whole world around itself.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Whatever crisis comes to a head this month, you're well positioned to finally resolve it. You can now see it in both of its main aspects, one that has seemed to drag you through certain key relationships that are based on obligation, commitment and some form of debt, and the deeper struggle -- your coming to terms with how challenging it is to be in any way idealistic. You are not, by nature, a cynical person, but something has done a good job of tempting you. You're not particularly hopeful, either, but you are finally making contact with an aspect of yourself that wants to live in a perfect world, and believes that we can create a perfect world together. You just know too much about human nature to be a pushover or a Pollyanna. The long story that seems to be coming to a conclusion has tested you, but more to the point, you've found out what you're made of, discovered what you're willing to tolerate, and made some difficult decisions about what is important to you. In the end, you will probably forget this whole entanglement, but you will surely take with you what you've learned.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Humans have a strange relationship to difficulty. For one thing, we call it "difficulty," but we seem to be motivated by little else. This comes back to our rather strange (in my view) relationship to change. We all say we want to change, we make plans to change, we try and try to change, and for the most part, things stay the same, until we encounter a difficult or painful situation that forces us to respond in a tangible way. I would propose that you reassess at this point in your life the extent to which you're responding to your environment, and the corresponding extent to which you're responding to your own intent. What responsibilities do you put on others that you really need to take up yourself, and what do others put on you (or do you take on) that really belongs to them? You need to take some things back in the coming weeks, and you need to give some things back in the very next gesture. Or, you can reverse the order; whatever feels right. Just be clear what you are doing -- and consider the possibility that you don't need to say why.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Being brilliant is not enough. It's nice, but what you need is a strategy. Indeed, what you are likely to have coming through right now is precisely that, though it may seem like something that only has a value far in the future. I would differ with you on this point: what you are capable of thinking of now, you are capable of enacting now. The path to your goal, or rather, your next interesting destination, is unlikely to resemble winning the lottery, however. At this point, you're being guided by three things, to which I can ascribe astrological aspects for those who are curious. One, you are reaching the conclusion of a long process of professional development, but have yet to claim your real achievement (Pluto through Sagittarius, your 10th solar house, working its way across the Galactic Core). Two, you are restless and brewing new ideas that are freer and more creative than anything you've experienced lately (Jupiter square Uranus). Three, the process of invention can be extremely efficient (Pallas conjunct Uranus in Pisces).

CREDITS: Managing Editor: Priya Kale. Webmaster: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Proofreader and Fact checker: Sara Churchville. Horoscope Editor: Jessica Keet.

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