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What's it All About?

And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
then I guess it's wise to be cruel
-- Hal David

WHEN I WAS living in Brussels, the seat of the European Commission (akin to the central government of Europe), I got to know some of the sex workers there. Belgium is close to the Netherlands and prostitution, though technically illegal, is practiced in the open. I learned a lot of things, among them that the best prostitutes work early in the morning, at around 7 am or earlier, because that's when the politicians can see them. The guys leave for work early, stop in the Red Light District, straighten their ties, then head across town to serve in various capacities of government officialdom.

George and Eliot photo taken from two images, uncredited. Edit by Danielle.
Every prostitute, every astrologer and every therapist knows at least one thing in common: doing these particular jobs, you meet people in all capacities of life; of all levels of worldly power and economic status, from the destitute to those sitting on millions or billions. Some are married; some are not. To some that makes a bigger difference than to others. You learn quickly that people all have the same basic needs, the same fears, and the same problems. And suffice it to say, plenty of politicians, judges, cops, doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs and erotic fantasy-fiction writers visit with prostitutes.

Therefore, it should not really surprise us that Eliot Spitzer, the former crusading state attorney general and soon to be former governor of New York, should want or need to consult a sex worker, or that he allegedly did so regularly. Must we act like he strangled a puppy for fun, or dined on human flesh?

Well, perhaps on forbidden fruit. There are few people in Western society more verboten than prostitutes; nobody except maybe a convicted murderer you would be less inclined to bring home to your parents and introduce by her proper profession. Forget the fact that Jesus had one seated to his right hand at the Last Supper; but we all know what happened to him.

Everyone loves a good sex scandal. It is about the only news item besides something like knocking down the World Trade Center capable of getting anyone's attention. What is messed up beyond measure is that after five years of atrocities being committed in Iraq, in the middle of the supposed War on Terror, in the middle of a worsening economic situation and millions of homeowners being foreclosed, indeed, the day after the president vetoed a bill that would ban the CIA from committing torture against people being interrogated, someone's activities with a call girl will seize headlines for weeks.

Tell me: if prostitution is a crime, why is a publisher profiting from it legal? How many newspapers have been sold?

Most people who take umbrage with the governor's alleged choices claim to do so on the basis of hypocrisy. As one sworn to uphold the law, he should not break it; it would seem that he did both. (He spent much of 2004 busting prostitution businesses in New York City.) However, as attorney general, he was obliged to enforce the law; as a human being, he needs to have sex. He was in the ultimate double bind; to be, or not to be. This is often the case where people are expected to prosecute on the basis of subjective morality. We might ask where the real problem resides.

It is equally remarkable that the only time our society can have a discussion of sex is in a criminal context: rape, abuse, scandal. Make no mistake: whatever else this may be, it is a form of sexual repression -- that is, repression of all forms of sex, not just the one in question.

Alone at the news stand. Photo by Danielle Voirin.
A scandal is an occasion to make sex and desire bad, disgusting and criminal; an occasion to demonstrate that all sex must have a victim, even if we don't know quite who it was. It is an occasion to call the New York State governor a horndog, as if the editor who wrote that never used pornography to masturbate, visited a sex worker, went home with someone new from a bar or ever got horny.

What we are hearing about this week was not sex tourism or human slavery; rather, it was ordinary prostitution, which will always exist and has apparently existed for a while. If human trafficking or child prostitution is really the issue behind the issue, what were the feds doing going after call girls and their customers, or rather, the governor of New York State?

In a word, the answer is politics. Wednesday, Truthout.org re-published a Feb. 14 op-ed that Gov. Spitzer had written for the Washington Post. Interestingly -- based mainly on the astrology, which we'll come to in a moment -- Spitzer went after the Bush crime family on the issue of banking and the mortgage/credit crisis. In that article, he wrote, "Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers."

He continued, "In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC [Office of the Comptroller of Currency, obscure federal bank regulators] invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules."

In other words, this was very likely a setup. New York lawyer Scott Horton describes convincingly in Harper's Magazine how the Spitzer scenario fits a pattern of Democrats getting busted under a Republican administration; and how the law that federal investigators moved under the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. He writes, "The statute itself is highly disreputable, and most of the high-profile cases brought under it were politically motivated and grossly abusive."

Here is the article -- it's pretty stunning.

Now that I have vented some spleen, what does the astrology have to say about this?

Let's consider the issues, in total: Sex, money, power, and control over people's lives. The element of death is brought in because this involves life and death struggles to the finish; the cover-up of war crimes; and (to give one example) potential threats to the life of Ashley Alexandra Dupre, the call-girl involved. She deserves a security detail if she wants one.

Where you find all that material is, conveniently, in one place: 8th house of astrology. Let's take a look at the chart for Monday's news conference, where the issue first came out. The chart is actually cast for time the news conference was planned -- the actual presentation, lasting about a minute, happened somewhat later. There is a well-known "stated time phenomenon" in astrology, such as using the time printed on a wedding invitation rather than the moment the couple said "I do." In the stated time, one announces one's intentions, and that is a dependable way to access the astrology.

Here is the chart, below and on its own page so you can look at it side by side with the text.
To begin with, the chart has Cancer in the ascendant, an echo of the Thema Mundi: the "chart of the world" from classical antiquity. I will not elaborate on this point except to say this is evidence that we are looking at a truly global chart -- if you're curious about this topic have a look later at that article.

This chart has an extremely impressive cluster of planets in the 8th house. There are days when astrology is like a child spontaneously blurting out the truth, and this is one of them. The 8th house is the house of secrets; a lot are spilling into the airwaves right now. Remember that more than anything, the 8th is the house of money. True, it is the deepest sexual house; but more often, it is associated with transacting large sums of cash, with banking, debts, taxes and the "resources of other people."

Do you see the planet that looks like a little key? That would be Chiron, located at the beginning of the 8th. Chiron is a place of hyper-focus in a chart, and also a place of potential injury and then the gathering of power and healing. There can be a long-term struggle any time you see Chiron somewhere, and we will invariably seek healing there, by hook or by crook. Chiron will often point you to the real issue behind the whole chart. And indeed that issue is in the 8th house.

Because the Earth is always turning like a roulette wheel, in any chart, a house can be associated with any sign, and in this chart the 8th is connected to Aquarius -- the sign of "all of us here."

To put it mildly, Chiron in Aquarius in the 8th house is the personal manifestation of a collective sexual wound. And that wound involves hypocrisy, which has driven our culture into hyper sexual overdrive. Not the hypocrisy of Spitzer being, at one point, the avenger of the sex trade and then seeking some comfort or relief there; rather, the extremely comfortable hypocrisy of the way that sex, sexual power and the entire sexual discussion are transacted throughout American and British society: as if sex were not something that we all want, need or engage in; as if sex were not the thing that created us.

My first impression of seeing Chiron in the 8th house was that we might find Eliot Spitzer dangling by his throat in a broom closet of the Governor's Mansion: it is also a sign of his personal anguish, at being accused of something that every living person in some way experiences.

The 8th house is also the house of marriage, that institution where money and sex are transacted lawfully and with church sanction. Indeed, the 8th house is all about the money transacted in sexual and familial relationships, be it by dowry, inheritance or the wife who rang up $10,000 on my dad's American Express card.

Where Aquarius is concerned, we have the symbol of collective resources; the wealth of the people. Not the penny-ante fee paid to a call girl, but rather more like the entire treasury. (It is interesting that this happens to be the same house as rules prostitution; many of us feel like whores for sacrificing so much of our personal wealth to the government, or our precious time to corporate jobs.)

Let's zero in on that house for a moment. It's the one below and to the right.

It's crowded in there. Not shown in early Aquarius is Nessus, the Centaur planet associated with the return of karma and potentially inappropriate sex. After Chiron is Neptune. Neptune in Aquarius in the 8th house represents a variety of things: all of those sexual lies we tell, crave and make mandatory; the way that sex is presented as a fantasy-fest in the media; and as the difficult to avoid denial factor associated with Neptune.

Oddly, Neptune also shows up as a spiritualizing influence. Though the New York Post and even the New York Times are frothing at the mouth, I have heard a number of very compassionate responses from the "man on the street." Everyone with at least three brain cells and a shred of ethics knows that if you point the finger here, you're a rank hypocrite. Neptune represents drugs, and hypocrisy qualifies as such. I believe that many people are addicted to the stuff.

Next we have curious little Mercury, which just left the echo phase (also called shadow phase) the very day before this news conference. All winter so far, Mercury has been dancing around in Aquarius, churning things up and setting the stage for this revelation.

Next we have Venus. I would propose that she represents Ms. Dupre, the governor's well-paid companion, but placed in Aquarius precisely on the North Node of the Moon, she represents every woman. Seeing a planet conjunct the node, I just leapt up from my chair to get my Sabian symbols book off the shelf. The Sabians provide an image for every degree of the horoscope, like a big tarot deck in the sky. The image of that degree is a tree cut down and cut up to ensure a supply of wood for the winter, i.e., a natural resource. A woman living and pursuing her musical career off of her sexuality means she is living off of a natural resource, one that she was given from birth. To a greater or lesser extent, such as dressing sexy, being sexy, dating the "right" people, having sex with them, marrying into money, or using marriage as a business device, nearly all women participate in this custom.

Venus in this sign and house points to the complexities of this situation, and of sexual relationships. Prostitution, particularly on this level, is not "renting out an organ out for 10 minutes," as two supposedly esteemed authors ignorantly, viciously claimed today in The New York Times. Yes, there are prostitutes who are enslaved and are treated very badly, just like there are women at every level of society.

Several years ago I had a close friend who was a high-end call girl in New York City, same basic gig as Ashley Dupre. She told me once that she deserved her $450 an hour because she was, at once, a business consultant, conversationalist, therapist and sex partner to the men she served. She had to do all of this in a detached enough way to be emotionally safe, but be close enough to be sincere. She had to apply an extremely high level of intelligence and refinement to her work. [Here is an article she wrote for Planet Waves eight years ago.] I could tell you a lot of stories about what prostitutes give to their clients, four out of five which have nothing to do with sex, per se. This is the picture of Venus in Aquarius.

Photo by Tyler Hicks for the New York Times.
Aquarius for its part is ruled by two planets: Saturn (from ancient astrology) and Uranus (from modern astrology). They have interesting placements. Ancient first. Saturn is in the 2nd house, the house of none other than personal resources; though so closely linked to the 8th in this chart, it is like Saturn represents the bankers hiding out in their cash, running the whole show secretly from behind the scenes; retrograde, clinging to old, stodgy values.

Uranus, the other planet of Aquarius, is conjunct the Sun in the 9th house -- spirituality, and Pisces styled, this is the spirituality of both indulgence and the cosmic imagination.

The 9th house, also standing for worldly wisdom, education and the law itself, is also graced by Vesta. Vesta is the Goddess manifesting as fire. That fire is the sacred inner fire that every woman and every man possesses -- the fire of creativity, art and of reproductive power.

In a chart, she is one manifestation of the temple priestess, at once renowned for her chastity and also "kept for a special purpose" -- the sexual and reproductive needs of the Hierarchy. Isn't that interesting? There is a tradition in many cultures of a special class of prostitutes, for example geishas, who are kept specifically for men of power.

In myth and in truth, Vesta's attendants -- the Vestal Virgins -- had the job of tending the sacred flame, the flame of all life, all creation, of warmth and of safety: the flame that means you are in a civilized place, not thrust out in the wilds. Vesta's message is that sexuality is a spiritual function.

Vesta in Pisces is a fitting image of Ashley Alexandra Dupre, whose sweet face and true vocation, music (not to mention her newfound international reputation) are well described by this placement.

We must go through the 8th house of death and transformation to find ourselves in the 9th house of enlightened ideas. This chart is very much a journey from the 8th into the 9th, and something truly positive may come from all of this -- though besides a debate about prostitution and an apparently decent guy about to take office, we have yet to see what.

And where, you may ask, do we find the governor? Mr. Spitzer would be represented by the ruler of the 10th house. The 10th is the house of the king, the president, the CEO, representing rank and achievement. Aries is on the 10th house, so we look for Mars to see where Mr. Spitzer is at.

We find him in the 12th house -- another place of secrecy, contradiction, and denial; in the sign Cancer -- the sign of family. This is a man with a lot of secrets. The 12th is also the house of the pleasures of the bed, and in the sign Cancer, we can be sure that what he was seeking with Ashley Dupre were the comforts of home.

The 10th ruler, Mars, also rules the president of the country in question, and that 12th house Mars in Cancer bears a striking resemblance to our secretive, war-obsessed Cancerian president, George Bush. He is still lurking in the wings of the 12th house, in total denial, and at odds with all sensibility or respect for the law.

Mars, representing both Spitzer and his main adversary, is in an interesting, dangerous place: first of all, in early Cancer it is activating the Aries Point, meaning it is functioning as a collective factor, keeping with the theme of this chart. It is exactly -- exactly -- square Pallas Athene, the goddess of protection, law and politics. And finally, it is opposite Pluto, in this case illustrating a power struggle of titanic proportions. We have not heard the end of this yet -- and more scandals of a similar nature may be in the offing. I wonder if we will ever find greater interest in sex for creation, love and pleasure.

Eric Francis

NOTE TO READERS: When this story broke last week -- as a local issue in Rhinebeck, NY (where one of the alleged managers of the Emperor's Club was located) -- I was finishing part six of "It's Not About Sex, It's About Self," which specifically addressed prostitution and related topics. If you are curious about the 8th house, I am including two sections from that article below. For more of my commentary on prostitution, here is an article from the nonfiction section of my Book of Blue project. And here is an article about the virtual Museum of Prostitution.

The Green and the Black

I bring these subjects up as background material for the astrology we are about to cover. This region of existence we are visiting, where death meets money meets sex meets transformation, puts us right into the theme of the 8th house of astrology. The 8th is probably the most psychologically complicated house (the 12th comes close, but you can hardly get in there), and it is by far one of the most interesting. It's also the house where nearly all the affairs of our current society are directed. It is the house that contains the gateway to everything we want and need the most.

The modern delineation of the 8th includes sex and sexuality, surrender, death, estates and trusts of the dead, the resources of other people, debts to other people (such as creditors), transformation, secrets and taboos. It is also the house of obsessions, including our own, and the obsessions other people have for and about us.

It's not about sex. It's about Self
Feu Rouge district of Amsterdam. Photo by Eric Francis.
This seems like an extremely odd lot to mix together, but actually it's easy to run one thread through all those needles. Let's go back to the first astrology writing in the English language and look for a clue. If you check in with William Lilly, you discover that as of 1647, the 8th is the house that covers "death, dowry, the substance of the wife, etc." (This is the title of the chapter.)

In his delineation of the 8th house, Lilly writes that it covers: "The Estate of Men deceased, Death, its quality and nature; the Wills, Legacies and Testaments of Men deceased; Dowry of the Wife, Portion of the Maid, whether much or little, easily obtained or with difficulty. In duels, it represents the Adversary's Second; in lawsuits the Defendant's friends. What kind of Death a man shall die. It signifies fear and anguish of the Mind. Who shall enjoy or be heir to the Deceased." He also mentions that it rules the colors green and black -- interestingly, not purple and black, the traditional colors of mourning, but green and black.

Let's consider the money aspect of this house. The 8th is the 2nd house from the 7th -- therefore, the partner's resources. That is how the dowry and wills/inheritances stuff comes into the picture. Most of the time those resources are passed by marriage, or by death, which is the thing that basically marries marriage to death. Often enough, those resources, and the marriage or death that would procure them, are elements of our sexual relationships, so we must relate to these legacies before we actually inherit or accrue them through marriage or death. We relate to death, more or less consciously, as a factor in life. I don't think any two lovers have ever walked the Earth and not considered that the inevitability of death, if nothing else, will end their worldly relationship.

Now, if you wonder where sex fits into all of this, here is a clue. In the next line of his 8th house sketch, Lilly says, "It rules the Privy-parts." This would, I presume, include access to and what we do with those privy parts, including those of our spouse or lover. And it includes how we treat them -- we hide them away; we are typically embarrassed to have them seen; they are taboo.

Privy is an interesting key word for the 8th house, because it so often involves what is secret or private. Sex, death and money are the famous themes we are not supposed to discuss, talk about, think about or know much about. Where they mix is tabooer still. Relationships that fall under various kinds of privilege (privy) or Sub Rosa status qualify for 8th house encounters, and those include marital partners, and privileged relationships with accountants, attorneys, investors, or trustees.

Note, also, that sex is a secret topic in Western society. Piles of erotic material are carefully secreted in the great museums and libraries of the world. There is a vast body of hidden material in these places that you can only access if you have some legitimate academic standing; to this day, the best collections in the world are locked down. Archaeologists led the way in restricting our knowledge of the ancient world. The erotic art of many non- or pre-Christian cultures has been both destroyed and/or hidden from students, plain folk, and most scholars for a long time now. And as a result, our sexual heritage is hidden from us; our perspective on life and on sex is skewed almost beyond recognition.

Above all things, this one historical fact may set the tone of the 8th house. But we are not so different with money, and death is one of the biggest taboos in Western culture.

It's worth considering the quintessentially 8th house theme of prostitution. Where someone charges money for sex is not only a crime, it is shunned as one of the most disgusting expressions of femininity. I am guided to mention the extent to which Jesus is reported in scripture to have loved prostitutes; one is at his right side at the Last Supper. Society does not share his passion, most particularly women. Indeed, prostitutes are reviled to the point of barely existing in the culture's eyes; they are "forbidden people." Yet all they do, like so many others, is mix money with sex. What is different about them is that (at least in theory) they choose to do it; they practice a form of promiscuity; and they engage in sex outside of church sanctity (that is, marriage). They are literally profane, which means excluded from the temple (remembering, of course, that Jesus specifically included Mary Magdalene). Among the taboos of the 8th house, prostitution is high among them. This is particularly deep 8th house material when a woman is owned by a pimp.

Oddly enough, we almost always guide our relationships straight into the 8th house. They become secret societies; often we must carefully hide the fact that we are having sex with someone else; there are numerous ways money is exchanged when sex is exchanged. Many times in relationships, money is a "secret" motive. In these situations, boundaries blur and expectations can start to run rampant. For example, where sex automatically becomes marriage, where marriage automatically insinuates money, or where sex (directly or not) insinuates money, are some of the most controversial aspects of our lives, and of the culture -- and we can easily plunge into this region and get lost.

When sex insinuates a permanent bond rather than a playful or creative exchange, this is 8th house sex. Usually, this is seen as a virtue -- in Puritan thinking, sex for fun is not good; sex for commitment is good. The marriage contract, as anyone has learned in anthropology class, is designed more than anything to consolidate wealth within a community or clan.

Mix money, property, sex and legacy in one hopper and you get a picture of the modern 8th house, and the 8th gives us a picture of how society operates on some of its most fundamental levels. The power that people hold over one another, through sex, money or some kind of death-related agreement are all the kinds of power issues, power trips or situations that come with the 8th house. Consider the stories of battles over estates that crowd the shelves of libraries and courthouse storage rooms. And we must not forget the murder trial transcripts; the Nuremberg proceedings stashed away in the Hague; the many of examples when a life and death struggle meant exactly that. In many more instances, death threats have been used abundantly, with great effectiveness.

Yet this is the kind of relationship that most people seek; you can look to this house to discern the kind of sex that someone wants the most. Yet it tends to create a situation where people are highly dependent upon one another, where resources are shared and where we must ultimately surrender to the power of another person. These relationships, at least in our minds, are the ones that can be separated only by death, or that we think of as lasting "forever." In a sense, death is always a third party to any relationship in the 8th house. It is like this shadow figure haunting or enchanting this house, providing its distinct allure.

What Freud described alternately as Eros and Thanatos seem to have been a particular pull of the 8th house that makes us want to give ourselves over, or succumb to these qualities of relationship -- and to tell ourselves that we are headed for an inevitable meeting with their power: be it with orgasm, with the expected soulmate (or the fear they will never come), with the pot of gold or with death itself. If you are someone who has ever said that "sex makes a relationship messy," you are talking about a struggle with 8th house material. And the only way to deal with that is to raise consciousness; to become aware of these themes in all of our relationships. It is not sex that makes the 8th house messy, or for that matter money. It is denial of these things.

Orgasm, Death and the Sublime

Think of the 8th house at its best as where we dance with inevitability. Everything that we experience in the 8th is going to happen -- sex will happen; if we are due to inherit money, the person eventually will die; we will eventually die; if we are having sex, the orgasm (if we are open to change) will eventually come. Typically the 8th becomes a dance of death: ego death; flirtation with orgasm and desire (often secret desire).

It's not about sex. It's about Self
Lady in Paris. Photo by Eric Francis.
Part of the 8th is the struggle to be free of the struggles of money/death/sex struggles of the 8th and embrace self-acceptance in the face of others. Part of self-acceptance is being aware that all living things die; we die; and relationships, as part of the changing world, will invariably change.

Mortality is one of the most crucial 8th house issues we can address if we want to be healthy, balanced people and have up-front relations with others. In that curious 8th house way, it is one of the topics we keep from ourselves, and stuff under the surface. Often, we stuff it below the surface of our relationships as well. It then arises as neurosis (playing dead games and resistance to change), suppressed orgasm, or life and death power struggles. Indeed, it is often the fear of death and the fear of being alone (a kind of fear of death) which leads us to plunge into the 8th house bonding unconsciously, and get ourselves stuck there.

If we transpose this onto sex, we come up with jealousy. This emotion is an extreme attachment coupled with resistance to change, projected onto sex and a sexual partner. Jealousy is a kind of dance with death, and it can certainly kill a relationship. Indeed, often it is evidence that a relationship is already dead, locked into a neurotic pattern that can only change when the partnership passes through the crucible of the 8th house and transforms into some other form. One way or another, the people in the couple must let go -- into their love for one another, to their mutual independence, to their need to be apart, or to some combination. But let go we must, if we want to move on with our lives.

This necessarily involves grieving, something that our culture does not sanction much less encourage. Consider that after Sept. 11, there was no national time of mourning. We were told by our government to go out to dinner to stimulate the economy. After the assassination of John Kennedy less than 50 years ago, the nation shut down, black, for three days.

To successfully pass through the 8th house, people must either pay off the debts they have to one another, walk away, or forgive them entirely. Forgiveness is a huge theme here: of the transience of life, of ourselves for changing and necessarily moving away from, or betraying, others as a result, for them experiencing these things in relationship to us, and ultimately forgiveness of the fact that even if a partnership is not separated by other factors, usually one partner will die first and in so doing, demand that the other let go of the relationship.

In sum, the entire mystery of existence (and how we enter and exit existence), as we struggle with it and embrace it in ecstasy -- consciously, and not in our dreams; in the presence of another; and in the face of death, comes home to the 8th house.

The 8th contains the thing that we fear the most, be it death, pregnancy, surrender, intimacy, separation or isolation. The profound sense of obligation that we feel to others, and the sense of a debt that we cannot pay, can and often are abused. The 8th is a place where total trust is necessary and extremely rare to find. It is the place where we must embrace what we want but cannot have. It is that zone of consciousness where we must relate to ourselves and to the other simultaneously; that perfect contradiction.

When you think of the ways that people have the most power over one another -- through giving or withholding sexual gratification; through sexual secrets; and through the giving and withholding of resources, you can see the kinds of struggles that emerge when we enter this house.

There are remedies to these struggles. They include embracing mortality and therefore the process of change, being absolutely honest, and having a gentle relationship to obligation. To truly be free of 8th house struggles, we need to master the material of the 2nd house, which is about being reasonably self-sufficient when it comes to sex, money and our values. Having a strong relationship to the 2nd house includes having this seemingly elusive thing called good self-esteem, which actually means self-awareness, respect for one's values, and giving oneself the means to express one's actual values in tangible ways.

In the 8th house, we must either mix those values, let go of them, or transform them. We may, in a brave moment, submit to the truth that death is sexy. Well, we may not think it is, but we sure do love when Jim Morrison thinks it is.

Weekly Horoscopes, Monthly Horoscopes, Astrology News, Daily Astrology Blog, Birthday Reports

Rob Hand: Another Good Reason to Come to UAC

ONE GREAT reason to come to the United Astrology Conference, or UAC, in Denver May 15 to 21, is because (if the gods are smiling on us) Rob Hand will be there. If you ever read an astrology book by one of the old masters -- Alan Leo, CEO Carter, or Isabel Hickey for example, and wished you could have met them, or come to one of Isabel's Friday night classes in her home, transpose that thought onto 2008 and Rob Hand.

Rob Hand: Another Good Reason to Come to UAC
Photo of Rob Hand from Blast Astrology Conference 2007 by Eric Francis.
UAC for its part is a week of Cosmic University, featuring more than 100 speakers, 270 courses and Planet Waves reporting from the center ring of the Big Top, cotton candy in one hand, digital recorder in the other.

Speaking of Hand, Rob is one of the most interesting presenters currently on the circuit. I cannot speak for anyone else but myself: I'm one of those conference-goers who spends five minutes in a lecture and gets the point of the whole presentation holographically. I get restless, and I leave. When Rob is giving a talk, I sit there attentively for the whole thing, scribbling notes feverishly and laughing nonstop at his Sagitattitude.

Author of a fairly large pile of books, he is one of the pioneers of modern psychological astrology and at the same time one of the best-versed presenters on ancient techniques and astrological history. Catch him in the lobby and he will tell you some great asteroid stories.

I once tackled him as he was coming out of an elevator a couple of years ago and insisted that he tell me something about Chiron -- even though he doesn't use Chiron, I wanted his opinion. He proposed a delineation that sounded something like this: it's the weak spot in any system that, when you fix it, makes the system perfectly efficient, but if you don't fix it, everything falls apart. I've been mulling that one comment over for years.

Here are his offerings for UAC 2008. See you there!

Panel: From Ancient to Postmodern Astrology

A comparison of traditional astrology, including Hellenistic and Medieval, will be made with postmodern psychological astrology. What are the core principles of each tradition? Where do they stand on the question of fate versus free will? What are the respective strengths and weaknesses of each model? Do they overlap and is there a possibility for integration? Panel participants: Rick Levine (moderator), Rob Hand, Demetra George, Robert Schmidt, Glenn Perry, Greg Bogart, and Keith Burke.

Astrology and the Picatrix

The Picatrix was a philosophical and practical manual of magic composed in the early Middle Ages by an unknown Middle Eastern writer who either was from Harran or strongly influenced by the Harranians. The basis of the Picatrix's magic is astrological, specifically electional astrology. Its interest to us is that the philosophy of the Picatrix makes it clear that astrology is not deterministic and that individuals can harness "stellar virtues" and become active co-creators in their own destiny.

The Hermetic Philosophy of Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno was a philosophical maverick of the 16th century burned at the stake in 1600. He is often portrayed as martyr to science because of his support for the heliocentric view of the solar system, but it actually had much more to do with his magical and spiritual views. This lecture will discuss his views and the implications that they have for astrology.

Uncorking the Bottle
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

IN OUR QUEST for a fulfilling life, we often look to success as our touchstone for happiness. Success in finances, in career, in relationships makes for a happy life -- or not. Studies show that some of us are hardwired for happiness, others not so much; but all of us have potential for happiness.

Sculpture by Daniel Hourdé, Paris, spring 2006. Photo by Danielle Voirin.
Astrologically, Saturn's relationship with our natal Sun and their placement shows how easily achievement will come to us, but those people who seem to be on R&R lifetimes aren't necessarily happier than those that face obstacles and challenges. Money and power look attractive to us but that path comes with its own pitfalls, and provide us myriad examples of stumbles and upsets among the rich and famous, proving that happiness and success are not the same things. Happiness is less about circumstance than about attitude.

Life, in case you haven't looked at it this way, can be defined as a daily series of interesting and informative mistakes -- you'll make at least one today, probably several. You'll pass by opportunities that lay just beyond the door of acceptance of authentic self, by filtering incoming information through learned beliefs and biases, habitual response patterns and guilt. Guilt is the debris that we pile up in our subconscious to trip over in our conscious world -- it drives our activity and attitudes like a ghost in the machine.

Guilt begins early in our childhood; this is less a natural instinct than one we're taught by repeated incidents of shaming and ridicule, it's the equivalent of withholding love. It's a critical program that, once installed quickly becomes self-propelling. It's the beginning of the false life we lead, the false voice we listen to. It's the author of "good" and "bad" and that black/white mentality that drives us at our lowest level of awareness. Guilt is the operating system behind most of what's wrong in the world because it colors our thought system to keep us in fear, and fear has led us to warring -- internally by sabotaging our opportunities for uncluttered consciousness and externally, for example, in our nations blind dependence on militarism.

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For those who are interested in an astrological consultation with Eric Francis, the waiting list has been re-opened. If you are currently on the list, you should have heard from Chelsea this week; after recovering from Small World Stories and the Compersion series, Eric is back to work as your friendly neighborhood astrologer. His consultations focus on whatever precisely you need, and make good use of Chiron, Eris and a number of other new astrological factors that are difficult to get a clear opinion about. To place yourself on the list, which is open to subscribers only, please email Chelsea at info@planetwaves.net, or call her at (877) 453-8265. She'll ask for your statement of intent and for you to fax back the confidentiality agreement, and you're ready to go. If your situation is truly urgent, for example involving a health issue, please say so.
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Planet Waves
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, March 14, 2008, #705 - By ERIC FRANCIS

Aries (March 20-April 19)
A close partner or loved one seems to be going through a change you don't entirely understand. They may be envisioning a better life but are standing in the face of some kind of obstacle. You may possess some part of the solution; you may represent a door in the wall. You can trust this situation -- if you let yourself be free and follow the contours of the emotional landscape, you may find yourself on a new level of reality, and you will not be there alone. If you find yourself suggesting that someone not smash his or her head against a hard surface, remember all the frustrating times you did the same thing. Why did you live that way for so long, even when you knew you had an alternative? Someone else may have the maturity to see that you offer an option to a much more difficult way of existing. The difference between you is, they have less of an affinity for pain than you do.

Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You seem so sensitive, and the world seems so harsh. Yet you appear to be in one of those classic situations when all you need to do is walk a mile in your brother's shoes; that is, reverse the roles. Find a way to perceive yourself from the outside, and ask yourself how you would react, given what you notice. This will greatly assist your ongoing process of claiming back any projections you have thrown in front of you. In other words, you need to own what you perceive, and determine the extent to which its source is purely internal. Once you do that, you can search for something new inside yourself and consider that as an option. The chances are that once you do, it will appear in physical form. Then you can see it, begin a dialog, and experience the emotions that come along with this.

Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Is the land around you unfamiliar? The thoughts? The ideas? Are you being plunged into your emotions more deeply than you're accustomed to? If so, it's all good. If not, you may want to open up an emotional, sexual or creative vent. It's there for you; you have a lot you need to let out, and there is no time like the present to be present for your feelings. As you do this, you're going to go through a series of transitions; you may feel like you have no grounding, no solid or tangible reality to cling to. We civilized folk tend to run from this feeling as fast as our little legs can carry us, and cling to the next thing that looks vaguely certain. That would be copping out; you need your uncertainty now. You need to not put any more lies in the way of the truth. You need, I think, to be feeling a little insecure. It will remind you of how transient and precious life is.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You may not feel like playing politics; more likely, you feel like playing hardball. You need to play a little of both. Be careful that you don't suck up to the self-interest of others, however. You need to be making the case for collective interest, and to state plainly that adaptability is a virtue. It may be difficult to get people around you to agree on a strategy; start with one of your own, work it from the inside out, then look around and see who comes along with the project. Be honest about this -- right now both you, the world and your personal world need the benefits of cooperation. You have obligations to people, and people have obligations to you. We may not like the concept of "obligations," but think of them as meaningful commitments that are for everyone's mutual benefit. This is where playing politics comes in. You need to become completely convincing on the point that what is good for everyone is good for everyone.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
The past couple of weeks have compelled you to make more alterations than a busy tailor handles in a month. However, if you pay attention, you will notice that you have the world, and your world, and much besides, in precisely the position you need them. You may not see the truth of this now, but when the Sun enters your empathic fire sign Aries in just under one week, you will see for sure that your life has come into balance. You will be able to see out to the horizon, and you may even decide that the coast is clear. Meanwhile, I suggest you work with key allies and your exceptional persuasive skill to convince others to help you resolve a difficult financial issue while you have the chance to do so. This opportunity will be replaced by another, but why wait?

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Every factor in your chart is teaching you self-discipline. If you are noticing that others around you are pushing you to be more focused, committed or attentive to your work, you're more than likely skirting the internal messages to do the same thing. You may have the idea that fun is the name of the game, and that if you must back down or focus to have that fun, so be it. This would be missing the point. What you need is a holistic approach to life, wherein everything you do is of equal value. Manual is as "creative" as painting is as adventurous as cleaning the basement is as important as finding time for sex and passion. For your purposes right now, everything is the same; the discipline you must strive for is about improving everything you put your fingerprints on, and improving yourself in the process.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Now that your home planet Venus has moved signs from Aquarius to Pisces, you may feel that you must give up on something or someone. If that's true, what you must give up is a mental pattern or set of ideas that have crystallized themselves in your thinking, perhaps invisibly. Among them is the idea that you will be held at emotional arm's length from the world, or that any risk you take must be purely intellectual. Notice that the people around you are taking other kinds of risks. Notice that a key partner or associate is not strictly defining what is possible today on the basis of what was possible tomorrow. True, you may be feeling particularly vulnerable now, and you may fear that people will perceive you as a bitch if you assert your independence, authority or plans. Well, maybe they will. Do what you must, take a hot bath, and sleep well.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You have more support than you may imagine. You're likely still reeling from a blow-for-blow power struggle and the residual fear, guilt or pain may be coloring your worldview. In fact, that episode is over. And since it ended, plenty has changed: people are actually being supportive (if you will notice). You have the ability to make changes that previously seemed difficult, such as moderating who and what you deem to be a friend. More than you need to adjust the actual people around you, you would benefit from redefining what, in your mind, constitutes an ally, a supporter, a compatriot. There are people right with you, right now, who are setting the example you need. Listen to what they are saying. Look at the example they are setting. Consider using the inspiration they are offering.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Are you the beneficiary of your life yet, or are you still making some kind of huge investment in the future? Or are you simply obsessed with your money and power? You would be a wise person to keep your thoughts positive; keep your awareness turned up high; pay attention to the people that you meet for the next couple of weeks. There are some who will change your life, if you can step out of your internally-referenced state of mind and make contact with the wider world around you. And what, you might ask, is at the core of consciousness, the hook to this internal referencing? Well, there is a self-esteem wound trying to work its way out of your flesh like a piece of embedded glass. You may not be able to get it free overnight, but you surely would benefit from being aware of the process. Remind yourself where that bit of glass came from. It was not always there; someone put it there.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
The throttle is opening. You have help: someone is devoted to prying you out of your niche, or at least opening the way for you. What you seem to fear most is offending someone on whom you're emotionally dependent when you stretch into your enlarged, enhanced or otherwise cranked-up psychic capacity. You may well offend someone, but you cannot let that stop you. Remember, everything in the world is offensive to someone. Hell, everyone in the world is offensive to someone, and people who dare to fire up their souls and take chances tend to piss off others. So take the bitter with the sweet; someone is making a direct approach to you. He or she is appealing to your most creative side. You may not feel like you have so much to offer in this regard; you may indeed feel stuck. However, go back to your New Year's or birthday resolution, the one about taking more chances and pushing your creative power for everything it's worth.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Your life today is not nearly as difficult or complicated as it was one month ago. Yet as pressure and urgency continue to melt away, new layers of emotional freedom and psychological independence are making themselves known to you. No sooner does this happen than you are presented with an opportunity. Now you get to ask yourself: is this the opportunity you want? Does someone you perceive as important really want what you have to offer? Do they have something to offer you that helps you feel more naturally yourself? Or is there some other constellation of feeling? In any situation where there is an exchange, you need to ask: what is being exchanged? Specifically what is being given and what is being received? What is being offered by one or both parties that is not being received? And what is being demanded? Sort this stuff out, for real. Put it on paper, so you can see it.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Here is some news -- Venus has just arrived in your sign. Just when you thought things could not get better, they are showing plenty of potential for getting a lot better. If at any point, the good things in life may seem to confront a limit, remind yourself that it's probably a false block. The way around any obstacle, however, will involve looking to the left and the right; it will involve the cooperation of someone else; it will involve taking a chance; and it will call for you seeing the limitation as a gift. You don't need to fall in love with the limitation, just acknowledge it, thank it and then reach in another direction. You seem to be faced with two choices: a highly structured situation that is heavily laden with the energy of the past; or a daring new situation that is calling on you to let go of the fears you so recently determined you don't actually need. Now comes the moment of decision.

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