Dear Friend and Reader:
LAST WEEK, I suggested that it’s time to start counting the emotional cost of what we’ve been experiencing: the torrent of instability, crime and tragedy that has emanated from Washington, DC during the past eight years, thinly disguised as public policy. Lately the emphasis has shifted to the roller coaster of Wall Street, but it’s basically the same thing. Governments, banks and industrial companies function as one entity called the Military-Industrial Complex.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about this right before he left office, but the only people listening, as usual, were the ones who stood to profit. Now that whole structure is collapsing under its own weight, a process that will be plainly obvious, if not today, then by the Capricorn New Moon on Dec. 27.
This week I’m considering how it is that we got here, and where we’re going. In the outer world, we are witnessing two things, mainly: our entire system of investment turning into a cosmic crater, with its many terrifying effects and even more frightening potential; and a grassroots uprising in support of a political candidate who, to me, seems like an actual mammal capable of thought and emotion.
In the inner world, I sense that the feeling of a spiritual crisis is reaching a critical mass point. In my role as journalist I am a witness to the events of the planet and how they impact us as external circumstances. In my role as an astrologer, I work with people one-to-one on their most intimate points of growth: their willingness to change, how they work with their self-concept and how they maneuver their relationships. As a lifelong political activist, I consider this a form of specifically that: we experience the world from the inside out. Our inner emotional and mental reality is what opens or closes our potential, most of the time.
In the past year or so the reason most people have come in for work is almost unanimous: they are struggling for a sense of direction about what to do with their lives. Many arrive consciously wanting to grow up; yes, at the age of 30, 40 or 50. There is a tangible, openly admitted struggle to claim their lives, and to confront the shadow material of the past that has led them to be prisoners of their own existence. And there can be a lot of inner resistance they encounter in the process, much of which is decades old.
All of this I count as the best kind of progress. In particular, it’s encouraging that people are starting to figure out the role of their families as this led to their current predicament. This struggle — impressive enough on its own merits — is now taking place before the backdrop betrayal by those institutions in a society that is supposed to protect our trust, our money, our homes and our livelihoods. These institutions are violating our faith, stealing our modest wealth, depending on their own “parents” to bail them out (the Federal Reserve, which is borrowing from the future to pay for the past) and then throwing us (their metaphorical kids) from the airplane.
“Be grateful we gave you a parachute,” they say (they must mean the FDIC), as they watch us freefall toward the ground, idly wondering whether the thing will open. Here is a reality check. When I renewed my car insurance a few months ago, my broker set me up with AIG (the company that just got an $85 billion bailout and has already spent most of it). While their executives were off on a $400,000 vacation last week (which I didn’t know about, of course), I was motoring across the countryside wondering: Gee whiz, am I actually insured??
The current astrology, in the grand sense of the word (Pluto entering Capricorn and Saturn opposing Uranus) fits the scenario beautifully: profound and sweeping changes to the structure of society, and our relationship to that structure. The primary structure of society is the family, and we are finally figuring out that the heart of the matter is how we were impacted by our family of origin, and the influence that this has on our ability to function today. The sense of betrayal many people are experiencing and projecting onto the government or massive corporations would be better directed at former caregivers who in some way betrayed them: mainly by being too self-absorbed to ever function in a healthy relationship or take care of a young child, some of whom were outright exploitative.
I wish I had kept detailed files on the stories of childhood sexual and emotional abuse that I’ve heard from my clients — there have been many hundreds of them. I’ve heard enough just from my own intimate partners to fill a book. Many other people have blank spots in their memory and they wonder what’s in there, and how it relates to their current emotional struggle.
Now I hear more accounts from the models I photograph. One of them (I’ll call her Callie) has worked for my studio for a long time. She has an extremely strained relationship with her mother. For example, her mother steals her pay (demanding it for payment of her own bills, using guilt and threats of eviction as leverage). She abused Callie’s credit rating when she was just 18. This history prevents the girl from getting a bank account or saving enough money to get out of the house. When I met the mother, she gave me a moving speech about the sacrifices she had made for her daughter, which I might have believed had I not heard the stories of her abusing Callie’s Social Security number and leaving the debts outstanding.
Callie has always had a particularly angry attitude toward men, and would sometimes go on bouts of spewing venom: at her boyfriend, at her ‘best friend’, also a guy, at her father and others; she has a lot to say about men in general, in particular how degrading they are to women.
One night she came over and we sat at my desk and talked. I wasn’t up for taking pictures, but I was content enough to sit there and listen to her. After countless photo sessions and two beers, she decided it was time to reveal that she had been sexually abused. The issue was still so disturbing that she would not say how, or by whom, but she would answer yes or no questions. It turned out that her mother’s then-husband had repeatedly used her for various forms of sex at around the age of 11. Using the yes or no format, I was able to assemble the story.
By way of feedback, I explained (as I have with many clients) that while her mother’s then-husband was the attacker, the real betrayal came from her mother, who let it happen in her own home. This betrayal continues in other forms today, principally humiliating emotional abuse, threats and financial games. I wonder how someone treated like this can ever gain enough confidence to finish school or take a functioning place in our culture, much less care about the Wall Street bailout. As you walk down the street and look at the faces of people, remember that many of them have faced (and continue to experience) this kind of treatment.
This sounds like an extreme situation, though in my experience it’s pretty typical. Alice Miller in her book The Drama of the Gifted Child explains that some of the worst forms of abuse involve the seemingly subtler forms of humiliation and degradation that we think are part of the “normal” growing up process, and to which nearly all of us were exposed constantly. As I understand it, the result is that we are taught that we don’t exist in our own right; we exist only in the context of being the person our dominant parent expects us to be. We learn to live to meet the expectations of others, in denial of ourselves.
Being stripped of our dignity and identity has, I believe, led us to the position we are in now, as regards the situation we face with the government and the banks: a society of hapless victims barely able to admit our anger, much less speak openly about it, much less act on it.
We might ask who would put up with stolen elections, the most rapid erosion of civil rights in our country since McCarthyism, an illegal war based on lies, waged by our own relatives, in our name and at our expense; with the president and vice president profiting from that war, concurrent with the loss of millions of jobs and so much other disgrace. When we were exposed to photos of the abuse by U.S. service members at the Abu Ghraib prison, I heard very little actual anger; just a lot of tsk, tsk, tsk.
Who would stand for it? The answer is simple: people who were abused as children, who never stood up to their parents and who have no plans to. Indeed, those who have no concept of what happened to them, who don’t understand their own pain and thus have no concept of their own independence because it has never really existed. If you cannot stand up to your parents and establish your individual freedom, and if your parents did not give you a solid foundation to stand on and demonstrate the responsibilities of both family and citizenship, you started as a victim and are basically left as a victim of far greater forces.
I don’t use the word victim lightly, and neither do I use it reluctantly. There is a taboo on this word, and I believe the taboo comes mainly from perpetrators or those who are justifying the actions of perpetrators. Not all parents are victimizers. Many of them do their best, but must function in a world that forces them to neglect their natural inclination to nurture their kids: the economic pressures of this time in history are enormous, for example, and kids are suffering for it. If you feel you may be hurting your kids or you want to do the best for them, the most important thing you can do is go to therapy; take care of your own emotional pain and they will be a lot safer.
In this and many other ways, the personal is political. It is specifically what becomes political. This is true in the most literal and direct ways. John McCain is an excellent case in point. Evidently he feels that the way he was personally treated as a prisoner of war (he was brutally beaten and tortured, as we all know so well) is his main qualification to be president of the United States. Since he does not seem to have processed his shadow material (as revealed by his constantly referencing his pain, his obvious lack of empathy and his difficulty telling the truth in most other ways), we can expect him to go from victim to perpetrator if he is given the chance. He talks about bringing our troops home victorious, oblivious to the fact that ordering them to “win the war” is more akin to Gallipoli than to Patton. It is also sending the message that if they don’t win, they are disgraced — even though they didn’t start the war or make the strategy.
One of my clients is a psychologist, and when I ran this past her, she said of McCain, “The compassionate therapist in me sees a survivor of complex trauma desperately trying to hold onto some way of making sense of his experience and to therefore heal. I even think he may be recreating the trauma of a Vietnam soldier not being supported by his country by running for the highest elected position of the country just to be ‘rejected’. It seems to me there is a part of him that wishes to be rejected (again). He also seems to be quite dissociative — like a caricature of himself.”
Let’s hope so. I suspect that Sarah Palin is a full-on sociopath, capable of feeling no pain of others and exceedingly little of her own; to a degree that makes our current president seem mostly harmless. He is not.
At the beginning of the Bush presidency there was much analysis of his language, his basic posture and actions as being classically those of an abuser. Like most survivors of long-term abuse, we “got used to it,” we made the adaptations that were expected of us and we tried to move on — dragging the past behind us, often ignorant of what it really was about. The interesting thing about abuse survivors is that they (we) are so often wracked with guilt, because we took on the blame — and this happens to be, on one level, the essence of Capricorn. It contains the guilt associated with taking personal responsibility for what our parents did to us; guilt about our supposed obligations, and guilt involved with breaking free of them.
One way to understand what we have been put through the past decade — if you need to understand — is considering the concept of what I call shadow loyalty. This is a kind of covert loyalty directed at people who take from us, abuse us and generally disrupt our lives. It is a copy of the secret loyalty we felt for our caregivers who frequently did the same things to us. Contained in that shadow loyalty is a need to be accepted by people who are robbing us, and the fear of being cast off, a tribal wound that I’ll come back to when we explore the forthcoming Chiron-Neptune conjunction in Aquarius.
For now, let’s see where Pluto in Capricorn fits the picture. As we can see, a force we don’t understand is going to rip through the power structure, rendering it nearly ineffective until it transforms itself.
All the old concepts of what it means to be a country are being dissolved: for example, the notion of “free market capitalism” has evaporated during the past month. Thursday’s news, as the Dow Jones Average fell to about 8,500 points, was that the U.S. government is considering taking an ownership stake in banks to ease the credit crunch. As I suggested previously in this space, this kind of move is an important step in the technical definition of fascism: a conservative government that denies human rights and is directly merged with corporate interests.
One development of Pluto in Capricorn (already in progress) will therefore be an even faster consolidation of power than we’ve seen in the past 10 years. We are so close to the brink that we refuse to look. All we need is the combination of further economic collapse to the point where our ability to access food is compromised, combined with an act of “terrorism” to get everyone good and scared, and anything is possible. And given how few of us can see our parents for who they are or look directly at the legacy that they left us (preferring to emphasize the positive), it’s questionable whether we would be able to recognize such events for what they were — we’ve been fooled many times in the recent past. We will see the “nature of the beast” emerge as that beast, “the system,” faces its own death. But this will be meaningless unless we are able to interpret it, and recognize our own power in the situation. It is far easier to give up our power than to claim it.
At the same time, Pluto in Capricorn feels like a supremely powerful spiritual force plowing through material structures, including psychic ones: self-concepts, relationship concepts, family concepts and the notion of where we belong in our society. It could be the soul force for which Pluto is so famous; and it could be paralyzing fear, for which it is equally renowned. These two processes of destruction and regeneration will be going on simultaneously, so the opportunity to make a decision about whether to individuate or to get in line with the New World Order will be one we don’t have time to luxuriate over (we’ve had plenty of that).
You typically get people to cooperate with oppression through a sense of obligation, and our deep-seated need for someone else to be in charge. We possess this need because other parts of our psyches (the ones that foster self-actualized personhood) tend in our particular era to be under-developed. Given the opportunity, few people will actually make the necessary efforts to sustain mutual support and cooperation that would replace top-down authority. Few people have sufficient sense of individuality to relate to others as an individual, and those who do find it very difficult to coexist with those who do not.
We’re transitioning into the beginning of a crucial era, in fact meeting this thing we’ve been calling 2012. In addition to a major change in the Mayan calendar (the end of the 13th baktun), the planetary astrology builds to a rapid crescendo between now and then, complete with social upheavals that will make the Sixties feel like a rehearsal for the high school pageant.
Change is not comfortable for most people. We would rather have things be just so, and we’ll do almost anything to keep them that way, including deny our own growth, health, liberty and sanity. We will stay with people who we don’t love or barely care about. We will keep jobs we hate. Most of all, we will refuse to face our pain. We’ll do all of this for the illusion of stability. Or maybe it’s preserving the illusion of stability that protects us from the scourge of freedom.
As society goes into its gyrations and birth contractions and we are compelled to recreate ourselves as we explore our relationship to the whole, you can be sure that many will be struggling with an adaptation process, and with what feels like an inordinate amount of growth. We will not have much time for regrets. We will not have time to ponder whether we’re ready for a new way of relating to one another, be it through community, new models of relationship or more functional ideas of family. There will be many people who feel that they are retarded because others much younger have done some of the work, and figured out how to stand on their own and as part of a group.
Those of us in the helping professions are going to have plenty on our hands, and our own healing process will accelerate as a result. Most of us already have plenty to do, and we need to start organizing support networks so that we can keep the sanity we’ve worked so hard to gain, and not get dragged down by so many who are calling on us.
I have suggested on a number of occasions that if you want to see what material you’re going to be working with during Pluto in Capricorn, study the era from late 2001 through 2005 and investigate what that tells you. Decide what you accomplished, what you did not accomplish and most of all, what you learned.
And please consider this equation, from my article How To Be Your Own Lover, that deconstructs guilt — this emotion being the life blood of all oppression. This brief segment was co-written with Joseph Trusso, my longtime Holistic Therapist and mentor. In taking on Pluto in Capricorn, we will need to challenge and overthrow the guilt of our families, and of our society, which we carry internally. We carry it as guilt about sex, freedom, happiness and even love; I believe that guilt is the essence of what Freud called Thanatos, the death urge. It is what is paralyzing us against standing up against injustice, against the lack of emotional freedom we feel, and ultimately it’s what’s going to mess up our children. It is up to us, you and me, to break the cycle.
“Fritz and Laura Perls, early pioneers of Gestalt Therapy, taught that guilt is resentment turned against itself. Generally speaking, children, being the powerful yet powerless little critters they are, take upon themselves the notion of ‘fault and blame’. They cannot imagine adults (who are personifications of the gods and goddesses) making an error. If they do, it’s still the “fault” of the child. ‘If only I would’ve done this or that, daddy wouldn’t hit me’. ‘If I were quieter, mommy wouldn’t drink’. And so on. Since they are at ‘fault’, they are ‘guilty’, and since they cannot rage against the adults very successfully or have a real impact on the direction of events, they turn the resentment at being pruned, modified, corrected, disciplined, strongly directed or dictated to, back at themselves.
“That is guilt. It’s fair to say that our lives, so often filled with the idea that we cannot influence the direction of events, so often caught in the web of control, of bosses, of taxes, of children and yes, of our sexual relationships, are often holographic copies of these original crushing relationships with parents and teachers. Yet as adults, the programming, the patterns, are contained within us. They are internalized. Check it out: do we have especially creative jobs? Dare we say what we feel, go where we want, be who we are or have sex with who we desire? Or are we pruned, modified, dictated to and denied out of existence by our own self-control?”
That is the question, and if we can ask it honestly we may find the source of our real human wealth as a bunch of bankers and unelected bureaucrats steal the rest.
Yours & truly,
Tumbling Markets, the Eris Full Moon and Mercury Retrogade
AS I MENTIONED two weeks ago, Mercury retrograde is not the best time to buy a clock radio, or to bail out all the banks in the world.
Despite throwing a trillion dollars into the crisis, the markets are still tumbling, and world banking leaders will be having one of their emergency meetings in Washington this weekend. I’ve noted many times that things I buy near or during a retrograde turn out to be things that I don’t need. Things that appear to be broken may only be masquerading for a problem. Usually what appears to be one kind of a problem will have another cause or not be a problem at all (unlikely in this situation, but you never know — it’s working out very well for some people).
We passed the peak of Mercury retrograde Monday with the Mercury-Sun conjunction in Libra (I incorrectly reported that it would be Saturday last week). We are now well on the way to the Full Moon, exact at 4:02 pm EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Then Mercury stations direct 24 hours later, at 4:05 pm EDT Wednesday, with the third presidential debate following a few hours later (impressive turn of events). This Full Moon is conjunct Eris and occurs in the thick of the Mercury storm.
Events next week will be every bit as exciting as what we’ve witnessed in the one month prior — it will be one month to the day that we heard news of Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers (hard to believe, as it feels like so much longer).
The fact that these events are happening in the run-up to a crucial presidential election indicates something of their truly out of control nature. I have marveled at the ability of CheneyBushCo and their publicists to keep a handle on developments, to the point of what felt like artificial manipulation by high level practitioners of magic. Either that magic is not working any more — or the guys supposedly leaving office are experimenting with that Trotskyite/Neocon idea of building the New Republic on the ashes of the old one.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, October 10, 2008, #735 – By ERIC FRANCIS
Aries (March 20-April 19)
You know something a bit ahead of when you’re supposed to. Your instincts are on high alert and you may be having some vivid and symbolic dreams. This may give you an opportunity to anticipate someone’s actions in advance, though I suggest you do nothing of the kind. You have some of the information you need, but you’re missing a vital bit — a discovery you’re about to make about yourself. Until you get there, let the situation unfold as it will. The next five or six days arrive with a series of revelations and turning points, but mostly you will assemble several vital pieces of your own story that have, until this point, been missing. Your environment will shift immediately, but this time around, the results are coming from the inside out.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You may have the sense that you’ve been going nowhere fast, bogged in deliberating over meaningless decisions and meanwhile obsessed with the conspiracy of love. Oh, I forgot to include adding up money that isn’t here yet. You can count on events over the next few days to help you get your priorities in order — and that, as it turns out, is the one thing you need. Knowing your priorities is the remedy for confusion. This word manifested in the English language in 1550 and it meant “mix or mingle things so as to render the elements indistinguishable.” Before you know what order your priorities need to come in, you can start by observing what they are, and seeing one as different from another. Then you can arrange them as you need.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
This week above all else, make sure you don’t believe what your public relations department is putting out. Maybe it’s true; maybe it’s not; something else definitely is. The image that you seem to be projecting into the world is distinctly more self-centered than what you are learning, developing and creating on a deeper level of your existence. You might not be ready to share your feelings or ideas with anyone you’re not personally involved with. At the same time, you seem intent on making a splash. The risk you run is going public with something — anything from a social event to a major project — then changing your mind the next day. Before you commit to anything, I suggest you know exactly what you’re doing, even if that means waiting to figure out just what that is.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You seem to struggle with belief more than you do with faith. The two are related, but they’re not the same thing at all. Faith is something that happens through us; belief is a decision that we make, usually based on evidence (be it true or false). What I suggest you do over the next few days is believe in what you personally witness, and verify on your own. Let the unusual developments in your existence teach you what is possible, and believe in them because you’ve seen they are true. Faith does not require any evidence. Belief is an educational process. You need both right now, and the events of your life are poised to open some doors; your chart is currently set to move at full throttle, precisely when the moment is right. When that happens, be prepared for a rush of energy, activity and a touch of fertile chaos.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
You seem to be figuring something out rapidly, and when you do, one thing will lead to another faster than you might imagine. Beware that you may reverse your position or opinion in the next 48 hours, no matter how strongly you felt about it; and you may discover that once you make up your mind, one thing leads to another more quickly than you realized possible. In other words, what seems like a relatively simple decision based on observed facts or what you learn as a result of being curious can have effects far beyond what you were thinking possible. The result may have a feeling of being irreversible, like you’re at the point of no turning back. This is mainly a mental phenomenon connected to one very solid creative idea.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Once you solve a particular financial situation that’s been aggravating you for a while, the solution is likely to stick. What you may not recognize is that while you were busy adding up numbers or making a strategy, you were really making a decision about yourself. Said another way, the decision may have involved your personal worth, while you were thinking about your economic value. I recognize you’ve very likely been through a particularly agonizing experience of self-doubt the past few weeks, and you have an interest in making sure you don’t go down that particular spiral again, because it leads nowhere. Well, at least it led you to realizing that it goes nowhere. The second reward is that the most dependable form of self-reliance you have comes in the form of recognizing a good idea when you think it, and then personally witnessing the value of acting on it.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
For all Libras whose birthdays occur before Oct. 15, Mercury is retrograde in your sign, and for all of you, Mercury will be in your sign carrying plenty of that retrograde energy. If we apply astro-logic, here is what we learn. Mercury rules your 12th house of inner secrets, unresolved personal business and, most notably, ancestral business. You may be discovering how much these seemingly obscure aspects of life actually run your life. You may have spent a lot of time in your life trying to take the mud off of your windshield, but now you’re finally realizing that the stuff is splattered on the inside of the glass, not the outside. So get out the white vinegar and newspaper and loosen it up. You will do so just in time to make a major discovery about someone that will, in turn, break up a difficult deadlock on a relationship that is rooted in both people lacking a tangible sense of who they are.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You may wonder where your confidence is coming from when you know how insecure you really feel. You seem to be blessed with the full strength of your being, and at the same time, a lingering sense that there’s just something you don’t understand about yourself. But truth be told, you’re figuring it out: when you sense that you’re missing something within yourself, you are able to hold that space open and allow some new information to come in. This is a special kind of doubt; and I suggest you wear it gently. You don’t need to assert yourself with anyone — the fact that you are able to question yourself so deeply is creating what I can only describe as a spiritual opening through which some profound gifts are about to emerge. Take it gently the next few days, because deep in your psyche so much is shifting, growing and finding its way to your awareness.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
Everyone has a unique sexual orientation, and most of the time it’s rather different than the neat and tidy one we present to the world. If I were to redesign the Kinsey Scale, it would go in about seven directions, including values that account for many shades of emotional, relational and sexual preferences. And part of the model would allow the concept of one’s orientation to evolve with time. You seem to be exploring who you are in the deeper recesses of your imagination at the moment. At the root of your quest is the need to be emotionally free rather than just sexually free (it’s dangerously easy to experience a kind of sexual freedom specifically at the expense of emotional imprisonment). One potential result of being emotionally free is that it will open the way to make different choices — and being who you are, you just might find yourself wanting to do that. Remember this as you negotiate with yourself.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You’re one of those people who needs everyone around you to be put on notice how emotionally sensitive you are long before you walk into the room. You are viewed as the stalwart, gutsy, unshakable kind of person; you are emotionally sensitive down to your cells. This is especially true lately. Your emotional antennae are up, and you seem to not only feel people but to absorb their vibes without even knowing it. Be aware of this process, but I would propose you not be afraid of it. You can spend your days wondering what everyone is thinking about you, but that wondering is often a form of fear. This is true particularly if you allow yourself to be stifled, or feel you must shut down internally, in order to protect yourself. You’re reaching a point in your life where you know this is not serving your best interests.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You seem unable to reach God or Goddess on your usual channels, and what you’re feeling is clearly not matching any definition of “higher self” that has been covered in a New Age manual. So let’s forget about higher self and keep the conversation focused on Self. One need not look too far to decipher that most forms of spirituality simply deny the existence of a self in a world whose primary missions are to grow, to be aware and to communicate. You are not here merely to survive; that, you accomplished long ago. And your quest to discover the living intelligence that guides the cosmos is not about hacking your way through some complex system of ideas, but rather a journey to a familiar place where your mind is the origin of your perceptions. Familiar? Not for everyone, and not all the time, but for you, truly so.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
In recent weeks, you’ve been making your way across a strange human landscape where you’ve had to negotiate for everything you need, and ask for the things you want. You must know that on some level this is not necessary; your commitment to relationship would, in a sane world, be more than enough to facilitate any exchange. Yet it helps when others demonstrate not just their commitment but their desire and heartfelt need to meet you in a place nourishing to both of you. You may not, at this moment, be aware of how much progress you’re making establishing that basic foundation of equanimity. You are a Pisces. You realize more than most that we’re all in this together. Make space for how, bizarre as it sounds, this notion is the highest level of spiritual evolution that most humans will ever aspire to. Someone close to you is on the brink of a revelation.