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New York, February, 2007

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The astrology of Anna Nicole Smith by Eric Francis

THE SATURN-NEPTUNE opposition is in full blossom this week, as the Sun sweeps through the once-per-generation setup, explaining everything from the extraordinary developments in the war in Iraq, to a Kansas City chemical fire involving as yet unnamed "solvents and mineral spirits" (whiff of dioxin, anyone?) to the wig and diaper-wearing Space Shuttle astronaut being charged with attempted murder of a colleague. There is an edge of uncertainty, desperation, strangeness and at the very least, inevitable change in the atmosphere of the planet.

Personally, it would seem that everyone is experiencing this on some level in our personal lives, even if only through the lives of people close to us: assumptions dissolving, becoming free from psychological patterns, and seeking a new depth of self-understanding. Saturn opposing Neptune is about waking up and transforming ourselves in a conscious way; if done gently, using a combination of imagination and manifestation; otherwise, by falling apart and coming back together in a different form.

As reality melts (then re-forms, and melts again), it's getting increasingly difficult to notice what means something and what does not. Indeed, so much has been happening with the feeling of this rare outer-planet opposition that we might decide the real effect is chaos, which is true on one level, but it's a special kind of chaos: that of something very wound up finally unraveling; something structured and based on doctrine yielding to something else that is intuitive, imaginative and real in the moment rather than in the past.

Thursday the Sun and Neptune made their exact conjunction, and then the Sun opposes Saturn on Saturday (or Saturn's day), so we can say the Sun is setting off the opposition. This came with the death of Anna Nicole Smith, which occurred with the Sun-Neptune conjunction exact to six minutes of arc (1/10th of a degree), summing up her difficult life, and reminding us that no matter how powerful the image of a woman is, she is still just a woman.

Sun-Neptune is the image of one who defined her life by being a fantasy of everyone else, and also an object of collective desire so potent nobody could miss it. I would describe erotic desire for her has a yearning to stir up the hot emotional pool of her soul, and to provide a space to feel herself at her core; something to grasp onto while she dropped into the depths of her own inner cosmos, with the reassurance of someone's solid presence.

It is clear from her chart that she died of a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. It looks like it might have been a deliberate overdose to seek refuge from a world in which she no longer belonged. I assure you of one thing: she was lonely. If the coroner wants a cause of death on the little form, let him write loneliness. She had just lost the one man who understood her: her son, who died in September right in her hospital room as she nursed her new baby daughter, now five months old.

This is the thing lost in all of the news reports I have seen: Anna Nicole Smith is the symbol of our nation's loneliness, and in particular, the loneliness of women. Sun-Neptune illustrates this sense of isolation dramatically, and also the corresponding immersion in the cosmic sea, the intuitive ocean, the oneness with and separateness from it all.

Ceres is all over this chart: the grief of mothers, particularly the grief of their mothers for their children (or in truth, anyone they love) being abducted into the underworld. She is the sister of Cindy Sheehan, who echoes our country's grief at the death of its children in a war that most of us have figured out is and always was unnecessary and disgusting, and will bankrupt our resources for generations. Anna's life echoes the death and loss of children by any and every means, be it accidental or deliberate, natural or artificial, through whatever process, including growing up.

The chart for the discovery of her body [notes included] has a stellium across Pisces that includes the ascendant ruler Mercury exactly on the midheaven (the 10th house, motherhood), followed by Uranus, Venus, Ceres and the North Node. This woman identified strongly with being a mom. Indeed, little else mattered to her; it was her life work and the guiding force of her troubled existence. Her death is going to affect a lot of people -- and by the time that Mercury on the midheaven goes retrograde, we will know more about her life than we want to know, more than we imagined we could know.

Ceres, if you recall, is the former asteroid, the first discovered, that was last summer designated a dwarf planet along with Pluto and Eris. I am hearing intelligent astrologers say we have no idea what Ceres means, but it's so obvious that it's possible to miss if you don't focus. The feelings of mothers are struggling to re-emerge within our culture as a meaningful thing; mothers are giving themselves permission to feel the struggle of being mothers; indeed, for the fact to be recognized the fact of having a child or children, or feelings about them, is meaningful at all.

Indeed, motherhood remains one of the last truly natural facts of our lives, and this one, too, is disappearing fast, or rather, coming at us with some rare intensity so that we don't forget. But who, exactly, recognizes the plight of mothers? Who not only talks about but recognizes, as a fact of relationship, post-partum depression, or the insanity of the world into which mothers bring their kids and to which they must surrender them? Who recognizes the ways in which mothers nourish and nurture the world? When we say "we don't understand what Ceres means," we are saying we've forgotten these things, and in truth, forgotten the Earth herself, who sustains us.

We might imagine that if the Earth herself has feelings, how does she feel about what is happening on her surface, and to her children, now?

This week's most poignant aspect, Sun conjunct Neptune, occurred in the 20th degree of Aquarius, which has the symbol, "A large white dove bearing a message."

You would really need to lack all sensitivity to symbolic messages to miss the point of that one, particularly in these weeks of our lives. But author-mystic Dane Rudhyar's voice speaks to us over the decades, providing us with some clarity on this beautifully Aquarian degree: "The individual who has gone courageously and with indomitable spirit through her crucial crisis receives, as it were, a deep spiritual blessing from the soul realm: 'Mission accomplished; peace be with you'. And in this blessing a secret prophecy of what is yet to come may be seen seen by the...spiritually sensitive mind of the recipient. Every real spiritual step a [person] takes in [her] development is the result of a victory over the forces of inertia and destruction."

Other events this week help put the message in context.

The Lt. Ehren Watada Court Martial

Saturn-Neptune, which makes its second of three exact passes at the end of the month, is an aspect of clashing realities, skepticism about government, skepticism in general, and the dissolving of beliefs and institutions previously thought of as infallible (such as "astronauts always keep their cool"). Saturn-Neptune effects are easy to see, if you know where to look or rather what to look for. Contrast helps: think back to the fall of 2001, when we were under a different opposition involving an outer planet, Saturn opposite Pluto. Everyone knew exactly who the devil was, and what we needed to do about him.

Today, the only people lacking doubts are the ones I call the San Francisco brigade -- the people who would support the government if somebody (like Dick Cheney) announced it would be in the national interests to bomb San Francisco. These are the people who think global warming is caused by polar bears.

This week, adding to the unusual rapid sense of transition, we also experienced the Venus-Uranus conjunction in Pisces, which has been sparking things up nicely; Pluto is still playing communications satellite with the Galactic Core; and the Moon is waning to the Year of the Dog's morph into the Year of the Pig. Mercury is stationing to a halt in Pisces and we have a pair of eclipses across Virgo-Pisces warming up.

First Lieutenant Ehren Watada
Here was the first exciting result of all this. Wednesday, a military judge declared a mistrial in the case of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first US officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. For those who have not heard of Watada or been following his case, he is the by all accounts exemplary officer who, after researching the Bush administration's rationales for going to war, determined that it was an illegal and unconstitutional war, and said that if he participated, he could be prosecuted for war crimes. Instead, he offered to go to Afghanistan (which he felt was more clearly justified) but the Army refused, and instead chose to court-martial him.

In recent months, the Hawaiian-born first lieutenant, who joined the Army to defend his country after the Sept. 11 attacks, has become an icon of the peace movement for his courage and integrity in standing up to his superiors, particularly the Bush administration. "I hated to leave my troops, but something had to be done to stop this insanity," he said in January, according to "How could I order men to die for something I believe is wrong? Wearing the uniform is not, and is never, an excuse."

Monday, the judge barred two expert witnesses from testifying on the legality of the Iraq war, which is the heart of the issue. Watada did not desert and he is not a conscientious objector. Rather, he believed that Iraq was illegal and immoral. Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, was accusing the judge of "taking every opportunity to constrict what we would like to say. It is a typical military case, where the military doesn't want to hear what it doesn't want you to say."

Yet the judge allowed prosecutors to retain an expert witness at government expense but would not do the same for Watada. "The government can call who they want, and we can't call who we need?" Seitz asked. "What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I learned that in law school, if not in nursery school," he said.

The judge's refusal to allow his expert witnesses put Watada in the position of having to take the witness stand himself, to explain in his own words the immorality and illegality of the war. This helps us understand the perils of prosecuting someone who is standing up for the truth, at least as long as the media is focused. When you prosecute someone, sooner or later, the chances are, both sides of the story will come out -- which leads to my theory as to why the military judge -- under orders that I would propose go right to the top, since this whole issue goes right to the top -- declared a mistrial.

Pretty incredible, given that they just could have bagged him -- assuming the seven-person jury went along, which it just might not have. Any lawyer will tell you that with a jury, no matter what jury, you just don't know.

It was suggested by a reader in the Seattle area today that the mistrial was an act of mutiny by the military against the Bush administration. I won't count that out, but I think there is a more plausible reason: Watada going on the witness stand would provide him with an international forum for expressing his views about the war, which in turn would start a debate. That had to be stopped, so the government cut its losses and got out of the game.

Note that, unsurprisingly, a real discussion seems to be something the war's advocates fear the most. Consider that this week, in our second historical development, Republicans in the Senate threatened to filibuster (that is, talk endlessly about nonsense to block real discussion). Here is how the San Francisco Chronicle reported it:
Senate Republicans on Monday blocked debate on the Iraq war, stymieing efforts by Democrats to send even a weak bipartisan message opposing President Bush's order of 21,500 more troops into an intensifying civil war in Baghdad and Anbar province.

Senate Republican leaders pressured their most vocal antiwar critics into a test of party loyalty, using a procedural vote to save the administration a major embarrassment and stall Democratic plans to ratchet up pressure on the White House to begin pulling back from Iraq. The move also saved wavering Republicans from casting a difficult vote revealing their stand on the war.

Unless the Senate impasse can be broken, the war debate will turn next to the House, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has promised to begin debate next week. House Democrats had hoped that the Senate would move first, demonstrating a strong, bipartisan resistance to Bush's war plans, but that does not appear likely.
Libby, whose previous testimony was entered into evidence this week, believed that George Bush had personally authorized him to reveal the contents of a classified document to a reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller.

"If the president tells you to talk about a document, it's declassified," Libby testified about why he believed he was authorized to discuss what was then still a classified document, according to This is a somewhat complicated story, but a good summary can be found in Wikipedia. It is a good example of a dirty tricks campaign that blew up in the face of its perpetrators.

So there you have it: unreality is falling apart at the seams. But will it matter? The prophetic words of Perry Farrell, "nothing's shocking," never seem to have been truer. But while nothing may be shocking, all of these developments are adding up to light slowly dawning.

It was just one week ago, Groundhog Day, that the world acknowledged for the first time that global warming and climate change were real things, created by human activity. Groundhog Day is another name for Imbolc or Candlemas, the first of the cross-quarter days. This is a day reserved by our culture for weather divination -- will there be an early spring, or a late one?

Will the ice caps melt sooner, or later? Will the world end, or won't it? Sometimes the universe is an amazing place, delivering us this United Nations report on Imbolc. Indeed, it seems the cosmos is speaking from every corner; from every angle; that there is a glint of light from every shadow. At least as we hold the light in our own minds, we light the shadow of the world with awareness, and wake up to the reality that we are free to make choices.

-- Additional Research: Ursula Fugger

Planet Waves Live Coverage from NCGR!, the eclectic astrology & news webspace, will be providing daily, front-page coverage from the NCGR conference March 8-12. Coverage will include audio interviews, ongoing blogs, and photos. Now emerging as one of the premier astrology sites on the Net, Planet Waves serves a devoted worldwide readership with its unique blend of astrology, news analysis and where you fit into it all. The project's founder, Eric Francis, is visiting from Brussels for the fun, and will be joined by associates from Germany and the United States, including the world-famous Chelsea Bottinelli. Look for the Planet Waves banner!

Astrology Secrets Revealed Forum is Back

After having taken a break to produce The Spiral Door Annual Edition and Almanac, Astrology Secrets Revealed is resuming with questions that were submitted in 2006. This is our way of maximizing the Mercury Retrograde for you. We’ll be working ONLY on submitted questions all throughout the Mercury Retrograde. We will accept new questions on and after the Spring Equinox, which is March 20, 2007 at 6:25 pm GMT.

Call For Astrologers: If you are an astrologer who loves to share insights and is into astrology for the love of astrology, then please write to and tell her a little about why you’d like to answer questions on this forum.

We Still have a Few Almanacs Left!

We have nearly sold out of our shipment of almanac PDFs, but we have a few left! To order one, click here. Also, part four will be published shortly.

Annual Audio: Slow But Sure!

Eric says: "I am more than halfway done with the annual audio, and am making slow, steady progress on these sign-by-sign readings, some of which are half an hour long. Update soon! Thanks for your patience while I am traveling and working a little slower than normal after Spiral Door parts one and two."

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