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Monday, June 30, 2003 (revised)

Our hit counter says lots of you are arriving looking for the monthly horoscope. That will post with our new edition -- a double update including new articles by the Planet Waves writers, and a resource on alternatives to hysterectomy. I suggest you check back Monday evening for the whole caboodle. My review of the dissenting opinions (yikes, there are three separate ones) in Lawrence v. Texas will post in a day or two.

For the August edition, looking way ahead (a whole month), we are planning an issue on the theme of drama -- the personal kind, and the artistic kind. If you'd like to contribute, please drop a note to Tracy Delaney, with whom I'll be co-editing the next three editions of Planet Waves Monthly. (Thanks to Steve Fornal for editing the past three editions, including the one that posts tonight.) Looking super duper far ahead, the Virgo edition will focus on holistic healing. We are interested in hearing from people who have trained to be holistic healers, and those who have had experiences working with them. If you're interested in contributing, please drop a note to Tracy.

For those of you who have been contemplating subscribing to the weekly -- wouldn't this be a great time? I've been doing a series on the Centaur planets, as well as looking at the many changes in the current sky, plus the weekly horoscope, birthday report, and all kinds of other fun odds and ends. For more info, see this link, or to subscribe directly using PayPal or secure credit card server, use this link. If you would like to make a token donation, that's been added to this link as a new option. Here is a sample issue.

Thanks to the subscribers and volunteer writers, artists, designers and researchers who make this web page possible.

Catch you later. If you want to say hello to our strapping young designer/programmer Jordan while he completes the July edition, you may drop him a note here.

June 27, 2003

In a landmark 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that ass-fucking is constitutional, striking down a Texas law that forbids homosexual sex. The court stopped short of ruling that buggery, or anal intercourse, is mandatory. In a televised speech last night, President Bush urged the American people to support their country and explore this new dimension of jurisprudence. Okay, well, not really. But the nation's high court really did issue a ruling on anal sex. And it doesn't just affect queers: the court's ruling protects all kinds of consensual sex acts between adults, including putting an end to those absurd state laws banning cunnilingus (pussy licking) and fellatio (cock sucking) even between married adults.

Go figure. This counts for social progress on a scale not normally seen. We also sadly note the death of Senator Strom Thurmund, the great and vicious opponent of civil rights, at age 100, within hours of this decision being issued. This was purely a mere coincidence. Repeat, there was no cosmic (or medical) connection between these two events whatsoever, at all.

This is worth a side comment. Old Uncle Strom spent the better part of his century on Earth engineering the conservative takeover of reality, including importing the Republican party to the south which helped the GOP win numerous presidential erections in the past 40 years despite repeated scandals. That takeover included stacking the federal courts, including of course the Supreme Court, with right-wing justices. Then they go and legalize gay sodomy. They make butt fucking the law of the land.

Dropping dead is a fair, even understandable, response.

Yesterday's decision is the first time the court has revisited this issue since 1986. Previously, Planet Waves has reported:

In one of the most criticized cases of the past quarter century, the court found in the 1986 decision Bowers v. Hardwick that the Georgia state courts, and therefore those of other states, could legally prosecute gay men and married couples for engaging in consensual oral or anal sex play. The justices did not rule that sodomy, as these activities are legally known, was illegal per se, but instead ruled that the laws banning it were fine, even if the practitioners were adults and gave their permission.

Chief Justice Warren Burger, ruling in one of his last cases, added a concurring opinion on the issue. "I join the Court's opinion," he wrote, "but I write separately to underscore my view that in constitutional terms there is no such thing as a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy." He continued:

As the Court notes, ante, at 2844, the proscriptions against sodomy have very 'ancient roots'. Decisions of individuals relating to homosexual conduct have been subject to state intervention throughout the history of Western civilization. Condemnation of those practices is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards. Homosexual sodomy was a capital crime under Roman law ... During the English Reformation when powers of the ecclesiastical courts were transferred to the King's Courts, the first English statute criminalizing sodomy was passed. 25 Hen. VIII, ch. 6. Blackstone described "the infamous crime against nature" as an offense of "deeper malignity" than rape, a heinous act "the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature," and "a crime not fit to be named."

Apparently, the justices of the modern court decided that the unmentionable deserved quite the mention; they finally took a deep breath and relaxed about this very sensitive and personal issue. Yesterday's decision, Lawrence v. Texas, directly tossed out the Bowers decision in its entirety. Enough law review articles to sink the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan have been written criticizing Bowers as horrendous case law. It just took the justices close to two decades to get the point.

It is unusual for the Supreme Court to make a ruling in favor of sexual conduct. Typically, they rule in favor of sexual speech; sex in the court's view is traditionally better said than done.

"It's a different generation of judges," said Stephen Bergstein, a New York-based constitutional lawyer and Planet Waves writer. "We're in a different social era and the judges reflect that. There are seven people on the court now who were not there in 1986. Even a conservative judge would agree with what the court did today. But it's hard to imagine a 75-year-old white guy in 1986 really giving a damn about gay sex."

Yesterday's decision has the same legal basis as Roe v. Wade (1973), which legalized abortion, Griswald v. Connecticut (1965), which legalized birth control. Yes, birth control, even used between married people, could be banned by law prior to the 1965 Griswald decision and was in fact illegal in Connecticut based on a 19th century law. As a result of this decision, Planned Parenthood got its go-ahead.

"It's really a privacy decision. The word privacy does not appear in the constitution, but the court interprets the constitution to imply a right to privacy." This is probably pretty bad news for people who want to overthrow Roe v. Wade.

For more information, please see this link.

In the next edition, I'll look at the dissenting opinion.

Written in the Numbers

By Christine DeLorey
DeLorey's Numerology

Yesterday's article from The Nation by Dr. Renana Brooks [below] is the first breath of fresh air I have read in a very long time. It describes precisely the war on human emotion that I have dedicated my life to exposing.

From the perspective of numerology I have discovered that emotion is feminine energy in its purest form, that feminine energy is the will of humanity, and that the cycle of time in which all this is playing itself out is an unfortunate inevitability given our lack of understanding of the power and the purpose of emotion. Here we are at the beginning of the new millennium in which the number 2 evolves out of the number 1. (1 + 1 = 2. That is why the number 11 is so prominent right now). As far as a few powerful people are concerned, this must not be allowed to happen.

The calendar which determines this millennial movement is an important factor because it forms the very basis of a system in which #1 dominates. The USA claims that it IS #1.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when the big Y2K problem never happened in 2000, but we were fooled. The problems arising from the shift in numbers go way beyond a mere computer glitch. For those who are evolving spiritually and emotionally, it is a matter of personal survival.

1 is the number of leadership, independence, individuality, originality, progression, attainment, and learning about the self. Everything we have ever learned about those aspects is now being wiped out by those whose need to attain everything for themselves (greed). Greed is a form of hatred.

In order to dominate the people, the people's will must be broken. The only way to do that is to kill the power that comes from their ability to FEEL! Naturally there is a lack of outrage in the American people. Most can no longer FEEL anything!

Twenty-five years of specific research into the connection between numbers and emotion have taught me a lot. I remember that when the anthrax scare was happening, the new guardian of health, Tommy Thompson, issued an order to doctors all over the country. 'Knock this fear on the head!' he said.

Prozac sales soared -- a chemical substance designed to push emotions back into the body -- the exact opposite of the course emotions are, by nature, meant to take. That's how 'stress', the so called silent killer, accumulates. If we cannot express how we feel, the magnetic charge builds up - and builds up - within the body until it either explodes outwardly in a violent form, or it eats away at whatever part of the body is easiest for it to penetrate, causing illnesses of all kinds.

Fear that is not given recognition, let alone expressed, evolves. It becomes terror. Terror becomes war, the ultimate fear. Greed is a form of hatred. Rage is anger denied. The emotions of the people are being manipulated and tortured by a roller-coaster of contradictory terms. In a continual barrage of alternating data, they are told that they have much to be afraid of. Then they are told that fear is the problem. Be afraid. Don't be afraid. Be afraid. Don't be afraid. Until, finally, they can't take the giddying pace that their emotions are being put through until, finally, they tell themselves that there is nothing they can do about it, so why live in fear. They give up on any feeling that does not feel 'good' and just hope that the 'authorities' know what they're doing. Do they then trust authority? I think not, in most cases. Mistrust is also a form of fear. Emotions are not the problem. Denial of emotions is. Emotions are our gauge by which we measure our awareness of reality.

To live in a constant state of fear is to live in hell. There is no doubt about that. But it is only lack of free will that prevents us from changing those situations which perpetuate the fear. Hell is not an exaggerated description of what is happening on Earth today. But fear does not need to be knocked on the head. It needs to be understood, expressed, and HEALED. It is part of our natural radar system, without which we cannot function FREELY.

All our various emotions need to be healed and their true power restored. Emotions are our negative energy but, of course, the word negative has been etched upon our minds as something 'bad' when that is not the case at all. We are electro-magnetic beings. Our emotions are our magnetism. Our Yin. The dark backdrop which enables us to see the light. They are the triggers of our thoughts. They are our ability to know. They are, indeed, our negative energy. The population is dumbed down when it cannot feel -- sense -- its own reality. Most importantly if we cannot feel - we cannot love. Is it any wonder why there is so much lovelessness in the world today?

I have spent more than 50 years trying to be free and to understand freedom. It is my reason for being in this lifetime. Freedom is ever-expanding openness. Beyond that, I do not see how freedom can be defined. And yet everything is closing down around us, including our access to truth. Secrecy is taking the place of openness, and freedom is being denied at every turn we try to make.

The number 2 embodies the feminine principle of equality -- which is the basis opf peace. The power of free will, however, has never been more imbalanced with just a tiny blip in the populace controlling (or seeming to control) everything! This does not mean that women are the answer to the problem, since most women have become just as unwilling to feel their feelings as men. Rather, it is the feminine energy that is in both men and women that needs to be saved and strengthened, so that it can save us. It is a part of our selves that has been so degraded and injured that it must be healed before it can do its job of healing the world.

We all know that change needs to take place on the inside before we can enjoy changes in outer reality. It is our collective inner war that has produced the current leadership. The real lesson of leadership that #1 has to teach is that human beings are meant to lead their own lives -- independently - rather than be led. It is the lesson of diversity -- peacefully coexisting with what at first seems like chaos.

The real war is going on inside all individuals -- between spirit and will, mind and emotion, masculine and feminine, love and hate. Hate is light without any love in it, and people do seem to favor light over dark regardless of whether it is loving or not. The empty talk that Renana Brooks so brilliantly describes is a form of light to many people. But it is light without love and is driven by the need to deceive and enslave. She did a marvelous job of describing the effect. I'm looking at the cause -- and desperately trying to find the language to explain what I have found.

Much of our language -- our ability to communicate -- is in danger of being rendered useless by the numbing down process, such as the word 'denial', or deceptive sayings such as 'all you have to fear is fear itself'.

This emptiness -- this void -- is the very thing that the will -- the emotions -- finds so painfully hard to deal with. Emptiness feels like death to someone who wills to live in ever expanding openness. And, yet, the more I allow myself to feel my fear, the more clearly I can see what is causing the fear, and the more alive I feel. The more I allow myself to feel my fear, the less I fear because when fear is allowed to evolve in its natural direction, it becomes courage!

Bush Dominates a Nation of Victims

By Renana Brooks

from The Nation - June 30, 2003 edition
Copyright © 2003, all rights reserved

George W. Bush is generally regarded as a mangler of the English language.
What is overlooked is his mastery of emotional language -- especially
negatively charged emotional language -- as a political tool. Take a closer
look at his speeches and public utterances, and his political success turns
out to be no surprise. It is the predictable result of the intentional use
of language to dominate others.

President Bush, like many dominant personality types, uses
dependency-creating language. He employs language of contempt and
intimidation to shame others into submission and desperate admiration. While
we tend to think of the dominator as using physical force, in fact most
dominators use verbal abuse to control others. Abusive language has been a
major theme of psychological researchers on marital problems, such as John
Gottman, and of philosophers and theologians, such as Josef Pieper. But
little has been said about the key role it has come to play in political
discourse, and in such "hot media" as talk radio and television.

Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques to induce surrender to
his will. The first is empty language. This term refers to broad statements
that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible
to oppose.

Empty language is the emotional equivalent of empty calories. Just as we
seldom question the content of potato chips while enjoying their pleasurable
taste, recipients of empty language are usually distracted from examining
the content of what they are hearing.

Dominators use empty language to conceal faulty generalizations; to ridicule
viable alternatives; to attribute negative motivations to others, thus
making them appear contemptible; and to rename and "reframe" opposing

Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech contained thirty-nine examples of
empty language. He used it to reduce complex problems to images that left
the listener relieved that George W. Bush was in charge. Rather than
explaining the relationship between malpractice insurance and skyrocketing
healthcare costs, Bush summed up: "No one has ever been healed by a
frivolous lawsuit." The multiple fiscal and monetary policy tools that can
be used to stimulate an economy were downsized to: "The best and fairest way
to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first
place." The controversial plan to wage another war on Iraq was simplified
to: "We will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American

In an earlier study, I found that in the 2000 presidential debates Bush used
at least four times as many phrases containing empty language as Carter,
Reagan, Clinton, Bush Senior or Gore had used in their debates.

Another of Bush's dominant-language techniques is personalization. By
personalization I mean localizing the attention of the listener on the
speaker's personality. Bush projects himself as the only person capable of
producing results. In his post-9/11 speech to Congress he said, "I will not
forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not
yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for
freedom and security for the American people." He substitutes his
determination for that of the nation's. In the 2003 State of the Union
speech he vowed, "I will defend the freedom and security of the American
people." Contrast Bush's "I will not yield" etc. with John F. Kennedy's "Ask
not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

The word "you" rarely appears in Bush's speeches. Instead, there are
numerous statements referring to himself or his personal characteristics --
folksiness, confidence, righteous anger or determination -- as the answer to
the problems of the country. Even when Bush uses "we," as he did many times
in the State of the Union speech, he does it in a way that focuses attention
on himself. For example, he stated: "Once again, we are called to defend the
safety of our people, and the hopes of all mankind. And we accept this

In an article in the Jan. 16 New York Review of Books, Joan Didion
highlighted Bush's high degree of personalization and contempt for
argumentation in presenting his case for going to war in Iraq. As Didion
writes: "'I made up my mind,' he had said in April, 'that Saddam needs to
go.' This was one of many curious, almost petulant statements offered in
lieu of actually presenting a case. I've made up my mind, I've said in
speech after speech, I've made myself clear. The repeated statements became
their own reason."

Poll after poll demonstrates that Bush's political agenda is out of step
with most Americans' core beliefs. Yet the public, their electoral
resistance broken down by empty language and persuaded by personalization,
is susceptible to Bush's most frequently used linguistic technique: negative

A negative framework is a pessimistic image of the world. Bush creates and
maintains negative frameworks in his listeners' minds with a number of
linguistic techniques borrowed from advertising and hypnosis to instill the
image of a dark and evil world around us. Catastrophic words and phrases are
repeatedly drilled into the listener's head until the opposition feels such
a high level of anxiety that it appears pointless to do anything other than

Psychologist Martin Seligman, in his extensive studies of "learned
helplessness," showed that people's motivation to respond to outside threats
and problems is undermined by a belief that they have no control over their
environment. Learned helplessness is exacerbated by beliefs that problems
caused by negative events are permanent; and when the underlying causes are
perceived to apply to many other events, the condition becomes pervasive and

Bush is a master at inducing learned helplessness in the electorate. He uses
pessimistic language that creates fear and disables people from feeling they
can solve their problems. In his September 20, 2001, speech to Congress on
the 9/11 attacks, he chose to increase people's sense of vulnerability:
"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any
other we have ever seen.... I ask you to live your lives, and hug your
children. I know many citizens have fears tonight.... Be calm and resolute,
even in the face of a continuing threat." (Subsequent terror alerts by the
FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security have maintained and expanded
this fear of uknown, sinister enemies.)

Contrast this rhetoric with Franklin Roosevelt's speech delivered the day
after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He said: "No matter how long it
may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in
their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.... There is no
blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in
grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounding
determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so
help us God." Roosevelt focuses on an optimistic future rather than an
ongoing threat to Americans' personal survival.

All political leaders must define the present threats and problems faced by
the country before describing their approach to a solution, but the ratio of
negative to optimistic statements in Bush's speeches and policy declarations
is much higher, more pervasive and more long-lasting than that of any other

Let's compare "crisis" speeches by Bush and Ronald Reagan, the President
with whom he most identifies himself. In Reagan's October 27, 1983,
televised address to the nation on the bombing of the US Marine barracks in
Beirut, he used nineteen images of crisis and twenty-one images of optimism,
evenly balancing optimistic and negative depictions. He limited his
evaluation of the problems to the past and present tense, saying only that
"with patience and firmness we can bring peace to that strife-torn region
and make our own lives more secure."

George W. Bush's October 7, 2002, major policy speech on Iraq, on the other
hand, began with forty-four consecutive statements referring to the crisis
and citing a multitude of possible catastrophic repercussions. The vast
majority of these statements (for example: "Some ask how urgent this danger
is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only
grows worse with time"; "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a
biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual
terrorists") imply that the crisis will last into the indeterminate future.
There is also no specific plan of action.

The absence of plans is typical of a negative framework, and leaves the
listener without hope that the crisis will ever end. Contrast this with
Reagan, who, a third of the way into his explanation of the crisis in
Lebanon, asked the following: "Where do we go from here? What can we do now
to help Lebanon gain greater stability so that our Marines can come home?
Well, I believe we can take three steps now that will make a difference."

To create a dependency dynamic between him and the electorate, Bush
describes the nation as being in a perpetual state of crisis and then
attempts to convince the electorate that it is powerless and that he is the
only one with the strength to deal with it. He attempts to persuade people
they must transfer power to him, thus crushing the power of the citizen, the
Congress, the Democratic Party, even constitutional liberties, to
concentrate all power in the imperial presidency and the Republican Party.

Bush's political opponents are caught in a fantasy that they can win against
him simply by proving the superiority of their ideas. However, people do not
support Bush for the power of his ideas, but out of the despair and
desperation in their hearts. Whenever people are in the grip of a desperate
dependency, they won't respond to rational criticisms of the people they are
dependent on. They will respond to plausible and forceful statements and
alternatives that put the American electorate back in touch with their core

Bush's opponents must combat his dark imagery with hope and restore American
vigor and optimism in the coming years. They should heed the example of
Reagan, who used optimism against Carter and the "national malaise";
Franklin Roosevelt, who used it against Hoover and the pessimism induced by
the Depression ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"); and
Clinton (the "Man from Hope"), who used positive language against the senior
Bush's lack of vision. This is the linguistic prescription for those who
wish to retire Bush in 2004.

Renana Brooks, PhD, is' a clinical psychologist practicing in Washington,
DC. She heads the Sommet Institute for the Study of Power and Persuasion
(www.sommetinstitute.org) and is completing a book on the virtue myth and
the conservative culture of domination.

June 24, 2003

My plan to work less is succeeding and I appear to be taking a break from blogging. So, going with the flow, I'll see you in a bit. As for the rest of the publishing schedule, the new monthly horoscope and essay are soon to be posted, along with a set of new articles by the Planet Waves writers, and the weekly is working more or less like clockwork, posting by email each Friday with a new horoscope and essay or two. The weekly is an affordable subscriber service which supports this web site. Subscribe at this link for as little as $4.95 a month or as much as $250 per year.

Because I'm balancing out work and play, the daily is likely to be sporadic for a few periods this summer, but I usually can't contain my fits of commentary for long, so please check in regularly.

June 23, 2003

Hey yo, I'm running late with the daily, but having a good busy time of my day. Please check back this evening for what will in all probability be a combined Monday/Tuesday edition. Meanwhile, here is a moment of entertainment for you.

Solstice - June 20, 2003

Well, some things never change, or they change really slowly. Summer Solstice is one of them. Funny how soon we've arrived at the longest day. It's always interesting to think that from this point the days get shorter, but one thing that seems clear is that they're going to get a lot more interesting. The rather deep changes in the astrologial climate of the past three months -- including several planets and points shifting into Cancer and Pisces after long journeys through air signs -- means we're in a whole new psychic climate. These changes will affect us spiritually, emotionally and praise the Lord, politically. I am reluctant to speculate too much, but I'll stick to the one solid prediction I made in the annual horoscope, which is that from the political standpoint this year will end a lot differently than it began.

Currently, however, it's party time. Tonight is Midsummer Night's Eve, the great, the mysterious, the lifting of the veil.

Thank you to all who contribute to Planet Waves in ways large and small; thank you to the readers and subscribers who support this project; thank you to the editors who publish the horoscope and articles. It's good to be with you.

Summer Solstice Bonus

Saturn's Homecoming

"However you envisage the process of conception, implantation, gestation and eventual birth, there is a sense in which it is the taking on of substance, or the coagulation of substance into a new form ... This is the past/present that we are, plunging into it, or absorbing it, or taking it on ... when you get to the depths of where Saturn is, there is no end, no bottom, no final cause."

-- Melanie Reinhart

I'm getting the feeling lately that I might be the only person excited about the new-born transit of Saturn across Cancer, which began Tuesday night (Wednesday morning in the eastern US and the UK). Most astrology fans are taking the news well, if a little solemnly. Others are brooding, muttering to themselves, "This can't be good" as they trudge toward the 7th Ave. subway. Thing is, the planets move. They always provide new challenges and new resources. In this world, anyway, attitude is just about everything.

Saturn is not exactly everyone's favorite planet. But it's certainly one of the most useful and necessary energies. If Saturn in Capricorn represents one's bones, Saturn in Cancer represents the shell and boundary that separates us from the larger world. Those critters that have crab-like shells -- they're called arthropods -- are the most successful phyla on the planet. You find them from the depths of the oceans to the highest mountain peaks where life exists. They organize vast nations (ant colonies spanning hundreds of miles) or survive by scavenging. It helps to have a shell. Especially one that flexes at the joints.

We last experienced Saturn in Cancer in the heart of the 1970s, spanning from Aug. 2, 1973 through June 6, 1976. (There were brief interludes during that timeframe when, at the beginning, Saturn dipped back into Gemini and toward the end, forward into Leo.) If you were alive then, scroll back to that era in your life and get a sense of what was happening. If it wasn't especially pleasant, remember that you're now an adult with a lot more power than the child or young person you may have been at the time of the prior transit. This makes a significant difference. The hard-won skills you acquired in that time you can now put to use.

When we think of these years, we might think of "The Energy Crisis," with its gas lines, the OPEC embargo, daylight savings time in the middle of winter and Jimmy Carter wearing a sweater while making speeches from the Oval Office to show that the White House thermostat was turned down to a responsible 68 degrees.

According to the Oak Ridge National Lab's (nuclear power salesmanship) homepage, "Waiting in long lines for short supplies, many Americans realized for the first time how central a role energy plays in the good life -- and how vulnerable some forms of energy are to political vagaries. Thus began, after the Mideast oil embargo of 1973-74, a rush to diversify America's energy base and to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil." <http://www.ornl.gov/swords/seventies.html> The message was we needed to grow a shell and take care of ourselves.

We also might think about the special kind of idealism that characterized the era, what you might call the values of the 1960s coming home -- literally into the home -- after the Vietnam War ended. Many elaborate and beautiful visions for a greater world emerged during the Sixties. The years immediately after were the time to put those visions to work.

This ethos was expressed in few places better than in the publication Whole Earth. According to its "about" page, at <http://www.wholeearthmag.com/about.html>, "Originally titled Co-Evolution Quarterly, the magazine was first published in 1974. For its time, it was very pragmatic and principled. It furthered social change and new movements by introducing ideas such as the Gaia hypothesis, watershed consciousness, whole system thinking and voluntary simplicity to readers. It featured many of the catalog's facets: access to information, book and tool reviews, essays, interviews with, and articles by seminal thinkers of the day. An early issue was edited by the Black Panther Party, another by beat poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure."

Much of what we think of as being part of the Sixties zeitgeist was really about the 1970s. The Sixties were run by the engine known as the Vietnam War, which pushed numerous social movements and helped people raise their awareness of important issues. When the war ended, there were big social changes as part of that process, and a lot of people with impassioned ideals on their hands, and their lives began changing. For some it was time for a sane and normal life, to settle down and start a family. For others, it was time to move to a commune and get back to the land. Many headed for the suburbs.

We also think of feminism as a central idea of this era. Well, there was feminism (a much older idea) and then there was that bizarre thing called Women's Lib and the push for equal rights. When I think of women's progressive movements of the 1970s, I think of Betty Dodson, my esteemed colleague, astrology client and goddessmother. She was not a women's libber and she defined feminism her own way -- naked. And, for the record, as neither "hetero" nor "lesbian." In an era when you were really, really queer when you were bisexual (allegedly a fence-straddler who couldn't commit), Betty was a good three decades ahead of her time -- now that it's all kinds of fashionable to be trans, bi and multi-gender.

Saturn in Cancer was the peak era of Betty's work with CR groups -- that is, consciousness raising groups -- which under Betty's engineering program involved nude women talking, getting to know their bodies and masturbating together. In 1974, the first version of her book, then called Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Self Love was published, shortly after her famous article finally appeared in Ms. Magazine (two years after submission and what she describes as "many" edits that converted her 17-page manifesto into a personal masturbation confession). The edits happened with Saturn in Gemini; the book materialized with Saturn in Cancer, and has sold a million copies under various titles and versions.

Betty had been going strong with her one-women awareness campaign since 1971, but describes the mid-70s as "a very dynamic time." Liberating Masturbation, the summary of all she had learned since going public, encourages women to go past their romanticized ideas about sex, to share masturbation, and to make the equation between raising awareness and spirituality. Betty is one among many visionaries who were stepping out of their shells at this time and daring to actually experiment with something positive rather than just protest against something negative. But like others, she had a measure of strength and autonomy and could brave the challenges of the world.

"I had gone to a NOW [National Organization of Women] meeting and I thought, my god, it's a meeting. They had by-laws and you had to vote on stuff. So I sought out younger women who said I should start a CR group," Betty said yesterday. "These were the cells of women's community."

In the 1970s, American society was settling down from a tumultuous decade, which ended with the Watergate scandal and the resignation of old Dick Nixon, but there was a sense of both necessity for change and potential for something better. In many ways, the theme of the era was that ideas needed to manifest in concrete, practical form; that as the button says, wearing buttons is not enough.

* * *

So what's the big deal about Saturn in Cancer? Some people know that Saturn is in its "detriment" in Cancer. Saturn rules Capricorn, hence, it's said to be weaker in its opposite sign. (The same is true for Saturn in Leo, by the way, since in the ancient system and in modern common sense, Saturn is the ruler of Aquarius. Hence for the next five years, Saturn is in detriment.) In this respect, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Conceivably, Saturn in Cancer is bad for Saturn, not necessarily for you. But given how well Saturn worked the last time it was in Cancer, that is, how well it did its most valuable public service of manifesting effective structural changes, I suggest we stop worrying and start working.

When a planet is in a weak sign -- in detriment or fall, or in a number of other positions that might compromise its efficacy -- it can function chirotically, like Chiron. That is, the perceived weakness can become a stimulus for strength and healing. By my reckoning, that was very clearly the case in the mid-1970s.

Perhaps part of the issue is that Cancer is considered such a maternal sign and Saturn comes with images of the Grim Reaper, Satan and the Dark Father. You know, corporations, governments and the school principal. We think of the official, buildings, heavy gray lead and all that stuff from old astrology books that give us material significations but no spiritual basis or method for dealing with the information. Saturn has an extraordinarily complex mythography -- I'd like to get into some of it -- but has an incredibly bad rap. Some of it had to do with being the "greater malefic" planet (Mars is said to be the "lesser malefic"). Even in modern psychologically-based astrology, the issues that Saturn is said to rule are some of the more challenging ones we seem to contend with: structuring our lives, dealing with limitations, and dealing with authority. Everyone in our culture has authority issues of one kind or another.

So I don't blame people for being a little nervous about Saturn in Cancer.

"We're afraid of father because nobody knows what a good father is. We try to do it but we have no template for it, no pattern to follow on the emotional level," Denice Taylor said to me today. "Very few people know how it supports, they know how it hurts to be related to in a masculine way."

Denice points out that we usually do have functional images of being related to in a nourishing way by a feminine figure since most of the nurturing in the world happens by and through women. But there's a missing volume on dad. In our culture, at least when most of us reading were kids and to a great extent today, it's dad who leaves the home when there is a problem; or dad was missing in action, always at work; or drunk and having affairs; mother is presumed to be the responsible, dominant parent and the one who will remain present.

"I think that when we force Saturn, when it's made into the scapegoat, we limit our own ability to manifest and give physical form to our creations. Maybe Saturn in Cancer will help us create more complete emotional definitions of words like father and mother, and family, and home," she posted yesterday to the Vision List.

Cancer is the sign of the home. When a planet transits Cancer, something or someone comes home. I would hope that any planet would be welcome here. Saturn is often associated with a parental figure, but the question is which parent. I take Saturn as a maternal figure at least as much as I do a paternal one. Isabelle Hickey, author of the beautiful Astrology: A Cosmic Science, takes Saturn as a distinctly feminine archetype, describing "her peace and her quiet power." There is the feeling that Saturn will represent the rising of an inner authority who will help us restore some sanity to our tumultuous emotions, and restore some order in our homes, and perhaps in our world. ++

As Isabelle writes,

She was the angel of Eternal Dawn
Lifting her hood I saw her face
And knew the glory that hid her grace.
From earth blinded eyes too dim to see
That only through her, could we ever go free!

The Saturn in Cancer Generation

By Lynn Bell

What does it mean to be born with Saturn in Cancer? Often it seems that your needs were not met completely early in life, on one level or another: material, emotional, psychological or spiritual. As a result people with this placement may try to compensate by investing much of their energy into repairing the past. Others have long ago given up, recognized that you can't build on broken foundations and entered life with a great deal less security than they might have wished for. The Saturn return brings changes for both groups of people, and for individuals. People who are born with Saturn in Cancer are now entering the stage of their Saturn return.

For those who have stayed close to home, Saturn's return will often break down an existing support system. Painful as this may be it is really happening because you don't need it anymore. All your beliefs about what you need to feel safe will be tested, and it can feel as though someone has come and kicked down something that you'd spent years constructing. But it may never have been big enough to begin with. You may have been building too small and tight for your own well-being. So yes it's painful, but it's also a relief. Imagine someone who's never experienced swimming without a bathing suit. What is it like to be naked in the water for the first time?

Crabs grow out of their shells, and there's a period of enormous and real vulnerability during the changeover. This is when it's easy to get caught by fear, scuttle away and hide out for a time. But for those of this group, who have been building their inner life, Saturn is asking you to emerge and bring you caretaking skills to the outside world. You may the one who can hold a container for many others to grow in -- such as run a company that helps individuals thrive, create a small business, or simply bring the wisdom of your inner life out into contact with others. Once your own fears have been dealt with, you, more than most, can build with an awareness of the needs of others.

Of course some Saturn in Cancer individuals never feel safe, no matter how big or powerful, no matter how rich or respected and they can inadvertently draw limiting boundaries around the other people in their world. In their desire to keep things safe, they choke off life and movement, and things dry up inside. Make sure your desire to protect others doesn't end up stifling the life out of them. Think George W Bush.

Some Saturn in Cancer people go overboard and become super caretakers. They are determined to personally and individually make life safer and better for others. Think of Mia Farrow and her thirteen adopted children.

For those who long ago gave up on the past it may be time to move back inside. Is it time to break the seal on long suppressed emotions? If you can do that and connect with all those rich feelings, a teeming, flowing life under the surface of things may be yours for the asking. Have you been afraid of feeling too much? Of needing others? It may be time to get close.

Risk taking of all kinds is encouraged by the trine that Saturn will soon make to Uranus in Pisces. It's an opportunity to fill your cup to the brim and drink deeply from the waters of change.

If you were born in 1973 or early 1974, you may have to break through some kind of tyranny, since Saturn was in aspect to Pluto then and you carry a darker, and heavier burden than others with this position. Perhaps the battle is with your own despair, or you have compensated by trying to have an unreasonable amount of control over the people and circumstances of you life. Uh-oh. Watch out. Time to let go.

Those born from mid summer-through fall of 1974 had Jupiter in Pisces trine Saturn at birth, and may find it quite easy to find grace, to open up to others and to the flow of inspiration that life brings us. Sometimes they are dreamers though, unaware of how much they have to bring to others, fate will be nudging them into giving more of their inner gifts.

Those born in summer 1975 and early 1976 have Saturn in aspect to Uranus. They carry within them the battle between the new and the old, and there's a revolution coming their way towards the end of Saturn's stay in Cancer. Unless they make easy steps in the direction of change right now, life could feel very turbulent in 2005.

Remember this time is one of breaking free from old limitations and finding your way to your true path. Fear is a normal part of the process, but few have as much to give as you do, if you can confront things deeply now. ++

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

In my metaphysical travels of the recent of weeks, I've slowly been making up an answer to the questions I posed the past couple of days, which is the how and why of all of this that we're seeing in the world. I really question it when I click on MSNBC and see an image like the one above, promising us that terrorist cells are operating in the US, waiting to lurch (which I toasted, roasted and melted down in Photoshop). I don't miss the fear factor here. I have not watched 30 minutes of television in the past year, so I'm really sensitive to when material in the media is just aimed at terrifying people.

And it works. I can only imagine the fear of people who have to fly, who work in skyscrapers, who spend time in crowded metropolitan areas, who live in Manhattan with the constant presence of the military. But it just oozes out of the media, particularly television. Newspapers seem warm and cozy by compare. I can feel the emotional manipulation, the attempt to twist people till they're in so much pain can't think. And I can hear us pleading: make the fear stop.

This is the barb. When people are desperate for the fear to stop, they will agree to anything. Who care what's true or false? Fear is extremely painful. It is debilitating and it chokes off our life force. The problem is, and I speak from experience and not from a book, that defenses and denial just make the fear worse. The problem is that defenses seem ever more logical the more fear there is. In the face of threat, it hardly seems sensible to respond with love, sensitivity and awareness. So as long as we do what seems intuitive, what seems to follow logically -- to respond to fear with fear and defense -- we're caught in the spiral and it no longer matters what is true, real or meaningful. All that we feel is fear, and all we want is for the fear to stop.

People can really get desperate for a solution under these conditions, and as nauseating as it is, someone like Dubya can look really good.

In response to yesterday's blog, a reader offered this -- thank you -- from the
Des Moines Register.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003 (late update)

Today is a really special anniversary: at 2:30 a.m. June 17, 1972, the break-in at the Watergate Hotel happened. Before Travelgate, Contragate and Whitewater, there was good old Watergate. The Watergate complex in Washington is this ritzy condo and hotel where the Democratic National Committee had its headquarters during the 1972 election. "The President's Men" -- who were part of, yes, it is true, something called CREEP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President -- decided it would be necessaty to plant bugs in the offices of their rivals. Isn't that mean?

But see, then they got caught. And a couple of well-connected young reporters named Woodward and Bernstein got on the story. The story ran just about daily in the Washington Post all summer and through the election in the fall of 1972. Nixon won by the biggest landslide in US history, taking 49 states. Then the shit started to hit the fan. More than 18 months later, in the summer of 1974, Nixon finally resigned.

In one of the early articles on the scandal, we find this quote:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Lawrence F. O'Brien said the "bugging incident . . . raised the ugliest questions about the integrity of the political process that I have encountered in a quarter century.

"No mere statement of innocence by Mr. Nixon's campaign manager will dispel these questions."

I asked the Planet Waves writers why it took so long. We might even ponder why Nixon won in the first place -- except that CREEP had funneled money into the Democratic primary campaign the candidate it considered to be the weakest of the lot, George McGovern.

Our intrepid articles editor, Steven L. Fornal, whose hair is somewhat longer than mine, offered this:

"America loves its 'President' even more than it hates leaders that lie, distort, bribe, intimidate...It was seen as 'liberal' bashing of a great president. Remember, at the time, 'Love it or leave it' was the sentiment du jour. At time of war [Vietnam, Iraq, terrorism], America Right or Wrong!

"It's difficult to write ode after ode about the greatness of the man (viz., NYTimes), then have to put forth the truth: That he's a small-minded, racist bigot with extraordinary power to maintain at any cost, especially by lying and cover-up."

Steve seems to be blending metaphors between Bush and Nixon, which is understandable enough.

Denice Taylor offered:

"Maybe the timing wasn't right until Saturn got fully into Cancer in 1974. Which also lets me take a quote from Monday's daily : 'Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of public attention, this level of misinformation suggests some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance. That is, having their beliefs conflict with the facts'.

"And add my favorite quote from Janis Joplin -- 'It's all the same fuckin' day, man.'."

Pam Purdy wrote:

"I was eleven then and I remember that summer as when I became politically aware, well sort of. Nixon and Agnew came across as organized, fatherly figures who knew what to do and how to get it done, they had the means and the werewithall. McGovern was a whiny fingerpointer who hadn't proven he could do any better.

"People were exhausted from the Vietnam War, they wanted to be done with the ripping apart of families and the culture, they were by then nostalgic for the '50s when they were growing up and had the choices of a lifetime ahead of them after having been through a childhood of World War II deprivation and unrest. The people I'm referring to are those that voted, were sedentary in their conservative lifestyle and viewpoints, the seekers of security, safety and stability.

"The people that turned their attention to Nixon and his corrupt ways were in the process of reintegrating themselves into a societal cohesiveness that they had reinvented. It took them time to come together for a long term movement within the cultural structures of the American political and corporate machine. They had been involved with discovering new selves and new ways of being and were more reactionary in their behavior with a more surface approach in the outside culture while inwardly exploring.

"When they had evolved with a renewed consciousness they began to infiltrate to what was then the fortress of established money. And a the culture was split into segments like an orange turned insideout. Some stayed counterculture and others adopted a middle ground. Still others became what they had once stood apart from in their attempt to be a part of the emerging new age, but their hearts weren't in it fully.

"The conservative ones that stayed behind and voted and followed the Nixon political whitewash took a long time to face what they had once believed in. In many ways they took Nixon's corruption as a personal disgrace that they couldn't bring themselves to look at decidedly and clearly. Their security was once again shattered in their lifetime, they had lived through WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, civil unrest in their own home towns, and now papa president was once again selling them down the river."

Jeanne Treadway wrote:

"McGovern's campaign was hamstrung way early in the race because he selected Tom Eagleton as his running mate. Nixon's henchmen dug up psychiatric records showing that Eagleton was being seen regularly (or had been) for mental health issues. The Nixon people played this up as a huge problem and Eagleton was dropped. McGovern could never get momentum again. Humphrey was a very nice man but had the demeanor of the Maytag Repair Man. Humble, competent at everything but running the country. The time period was enormously filled with the energy of change. And, as Pam said, this scared the living shit out of most voters. Fathers and sons couldn't talk. Mothers and daughters were afraid of each other. Values were swirling. Nixon played this all masterly, convincing the American public that a change from him and his regime would result in heinous changes for the basic man on the street. Lies swirled around us as much as air did. Those of us in the McGovern campaign had to fall back on McGovern, essentially, because RFK and MLK, Jr. had been snuffed out and with them our enthusiasm and ideals. We didn't think McGovern could win; we believed that Bobby could have. Great Goddess, it was intense. Maybe more will surface again soon."

Monday, June 16, 2003

While I'm busy trying not to be stunned, shocked, mortified and outraged, I thought I'd pass along this little bit of information that came over the Political Waves list. Right now I'm open to any suggestions you may have about how to deal with the (ongoing) most insane level of public deception I've ever seen waged in my lifetime and Lord knows I've been looking. By deal with, I mean hold your spiritual center in the face of energetic and psychological chaos. I mean keep you faith in the face of what is just really challenging to see. I have nothing to propose right now, but I'm meditating on the question.

Poll: U.S. not grasping war facts

By Frank Davies
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- A third of the American public believes
U.S. forces have found weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, according to a recent poll. And 22 percent said
Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.

Before the war, half of those polled in a survey said
Iraqis were among the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.

But such weapons have not been found in Iraq, and were
never used. Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from
Saudi Arabia. None were Iraqis.

How could so many people be so wrong about
life-and-death information that has dominated news
coverage for almost two years?

"It's a striking finding," said Steve Kull, director
of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at
the University of Maryland, which asked the weapons
questions during a May 14-18 poll of 1,265

"Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of
public attention, this level of misinformation
suggests some Americans may be avoiding having an
experience of cognitive dissonance."

That is, having their beliefs conflict with the facts.

Kull said the poll's data showed that the mistaken
belief that weapons of mass destruction had been found
"is substantially greater among those who favored the

Pollsters and political analysts see several reasons
for the gaps between facts and beliefs: the public's
short attention span on foreign news, fragmentary or
conflicting media reports that lacked depth or
skepticism, and Bush administration efforts to sell a
war by oversimplifying the threat.

"Most people get little whiffs and fragments of news,
not in any organized way," said Thomas Mann, a scholar
at the Brookings Institution, a centrist-liberal think
tank. "And there have been a lot of conflicting
reports on the weapons."

Republican pollsters said any controversy over weapons
won't change public attitudes because ridding Iraq of
an oppressive regime was reason enough for war for
many Americans.

"People supported the war for national-security
reasons and that shifted to humanitarian reasons when
they saw evidence of Saddam's atrocities," said
Republican strategist Frank Luntz.

Several analysts said they are troubled by the lack of
knowledge about the Sept. 11 hijackers, shown in the
January survey conducted for Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Only 17 percent correctly said that none of the
hijackers were Iraqi.

"That really bothers me because it shows a lack of
understanding about other countries ó that maybe many
Americans don't know one Arab from another," said Sam
Popkin, a polling expert at the University of
California, San Diego.

"Maybe because Saudis are seen as rich and friendly,
people have a hard time dealing with them as

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

My friend told me this story from a recent trip to Cuba.

In Spanish, there are two ways to say "to be." One is the verb estar -- to be, in the more transient state, usually used to describe feelings or experiences that are moving. For example, bienestar, the transient state of well-being, or estoy alegre, to be happy or have fun.

Then there is the verb ser, which describes more permanent or fundamental states, such as soy humano, I am human. It describes the things that don't usually change. If you were going to say, "I am made of bones on the inside," you would use the verb ser. But you don't usually use it for feelings.

So, she was in Havana, riding a bus, talking to the bus driver. What is so special about Cuba? The bus driver was commenting. It's simple: he said, Somos felices.

We are happy, in the fundamental state, the steady and non-transient way. All of us; all Cubans have this underlying level of contentment that does not change. As an American, that gave me something to think about.

I'll be taking a break from daily writing till Monday, June 16. Thanks for showing up every day.

Let's see what life is offering. Fan that flame. Keep that faith.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

A number of people have asked me what I think is going to happen next on the political scene, in particular whether Bush is going to come undone by the scandal about the lack of weapons of mass destruction. Then a friend with family in Kansas tells me her relatives are all in love with little Dubya, and see him as a man of action, decisive and strong and someone who protects and takes care of us.

You might say the difference is how susceptible people are to the marketing campaigns of television that work to convince us of the benevolence of the government even as the legs of the "great society" we live in are cut out from under us. The Onion parodied this beautifully in a recent article about a ceremony aboard an aircraft carrier in which Bush celebrated the cutting of veteran's benefits. One would think that support for the troops, support for America's role as a world "peacekeeper" and support of veterans would have something in common. Under most circumstances, they would. But today, if you try to follow the prepackaged definition of what it means to be loyal to your country, you're going to slip into madness.

Again and again, our treatment at the hands of the media and the government reminds me of the abuse and neglect of children. We are those children. As an astrologer I get to talk to a lot of people who went through this; I learned that I went through this myself; what I've learned is that in most cases of abuse and neglect, the child is the one taking care of the parents. Think about that as you work two days a week for the government which lies to you and undermines you at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, there remains the question of what to do about what we see and experience. It's way too easy to gloat in the possibility that Dick, Bush and Colon will get their comeuppance. Even if our non-president is horribly humiliated, that (like the death penalty) will not right the injustices that he has perpetrated on the people from whom he's stolen. And it won't fix "the system." And it won't fix our slow-to-learn minds that allowed him to take office even when we knew there was a real problem.

A big part of the problem is that television shapes our consciousness very powerfully. Mainly it does so by manipulating two things -- fear and desire, often confusing the two. It also fills the need for real information in our lives. I know I've recommended this a number of times before, but I suggest you check out the video Manufacturing Consent. It's a double VHS or DVD -- it will take two evenings to watch (I suggest this, or you might go into overload). Part of what keeps us feeling fearful and helpless is ignorance. This video goes a long way to clear the fog.

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Monday, June 9, 2003

Late last week we learned that the two top editors of The New York Times resigned after what the paper called in a page-one headline the "furor on [a] writer's fraud." It was refreshing to see the top heads of the Old Gray Lady held accountable for the content of the newspaper (excluding, of course, the publisher, who owns the place) after the sacrificial whipping of Jayson Blair, the 27-year-old African-American writer who apparently fabricated, plagiarized or wove lies into more than three dozen articles. The two top dogs knew what was going on, of course. So that makes it an editor's fraud as much as it does a writer's fraud. That outgoing executive editor Howell Raines took "ultimate" responsibility makes what happened sound like an oversight error and conceals the fact that he and managing editor Gerald M. Boyd were in on the scam from early on.

My take is that Blair became the scapegoat for the deceptions and gross omissions of the entire mainstream media during Bush War II. As such, the Blair story served as a coverup of the much wider truth that's starting to percolate out finally, which is that the war on Iraq was based on fabricated and misrepresented evidence, obvious business interests and the violation of 17 separate United Nations resolutions. Somehow it became more important that a sociopathic young reporter said he was in Texas when he wasn't.

In other words, the big lies are okay, and the small ones get you in trouble -- eventually. But the big ones are just business as usual: overlooking the real issues, deceiving the public about the conduct of both the United States president and the Iraqi leader, and ultimately, leading the country blindly into war, all in the name of keeping us informed. There is no way Bush & Co. would have been able to pull off their fabulous cock-and-bull stories had anyone in a position of journalistic authority said something. But that would have been unpatriotic. As Raines said to his staff on his way out the door, "You had a good war."

Another dimension of the coverup angle is that the Blair scandal is being portrayed as some kind of exception to the rule. But The New York Times is infamous for its fabrications, its "borrowing" the work of other writers without credit (they have done this with two of the biggest stories of my career, so I can speak from personal experience), and for stunning omissions of the most important stories (East Timor, to give one example). In the 90s I was privileged to write for a journal that specialized in exposing just these things in The New York Times and its peers. It was called Lies Of Our Times, affectionately LOOT. I'll attach one of my clips at the end of this post.

In the years I've been observing, the single most stunning deception perpetrated by the Times, for which the newspaper has never made amends, involved a scandal in the early 1990s wherein reporter Keith Schneider did a series on the "new revelations" about how the dangers of dioxin were exaggerated by bad science. Schneider and his editor, working with a flunky of the paper industry at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) named Vernon Houk (now deceased), created a disinformation campaign for which Monsanto and Dow Chemical will be eternally grateful.

In a high-profile page-one series that lasted for about eight days, the Times said that dioxin, as it turned out, was as about as dangerous as sunbathing. That is what they said. A chemical that is measured in parts-per-quadrillion, that disrupts hormones and accelerates cancer like ether accelerates fire, is a day at the beach. This went out over the Times news service and was picked up by newspapers all across the country, who repeated the lie as if it were gospel truth, lambasting everyone who ever fell for how dangerous dioxin was, and criticizing the government for having spent so much money trying to clean the stuff up.

Dioxin, if you recall, was the toxic byproduct in Agent Orange that made so many soldiers and Vietnamese sick during that war, and has poisoned their children; it was the reason for the Love Canal evacuation; it caused the elimination of the town of Times Beach, Missouri; it was found at SUNY New Paltz in Bliss Hall; it is in the tampons that cause toxic shock syndrome; it wreaks hormonal chaos in people and the environment; it is genotoxic and is passed on for seven generations from the person who is exposed. But it's like, you know, the Bahamas. Heck, I read it in The New York Times.

A freelance investigative reporter named Vicki Monks, one of the heroines in my journalistic pantheon, dismantled the Times series and prepared a cover article that she placed in American Journalism Review in 1994. When I turn the piece up in my collection, I'll have it retyped and link it from this page for you. The article is essential reading for anyone who wants to know why you can't trust the news. And had Vicki not done her excellent work, the chances are that newspapers that parroted Schneider's lies would either have never known, or figured the issue was "controversial," that is, that the truth is somewhere in between. It is no such thing. During the era when those articles were being published, information was pouring out of laboratories establishing that dioxin was far more toxic than anyone ever suspected, in part because its mechanisms of action are far more subtle than anyone expected.

There is no safe dose, period.

Now, as we slowly start to see the truth about Iraq appear in the mainstream press, one can only hope that the shock of what happened to Blair and his bosses prompts journalists to say a little more of what they know, and for their bosses to let them put it into print. But for the most part, you're on your own, and the journalistic headstones of Jayson Blair, Howell Raines and Gerald M. Boyd stand as reminders of that fact.

The New York Times has embarked on a search for a new executive editor. I was considering applying for the job. But I know of someone much more qualified: our old friend Keith Schneider.


Dioxin Critic Sued from Lies of our Times.

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Friday, June 6, 2003

For the second time in my life, I received Darshan last night from Ammachi.

Amma is a 49-year-old spiritual teacher from India, held in her own culture to be the equivalent of a living saint. For the past 35 or so years, she has offered a ministry that mainly consists of hugging people. Around the world, to the tune of an estimated 21 million hugs, she has embraced and blessed people -- embracing the world, in the words of the rather endearing slogan of her project. Amma is also the queen bee of what's described as a "vast network of charities" that do everything from feed the poor to help people with AIDS to chip into the Sept. 11 relief fund.

Amma's name means mother. Ammachi means beloved mother. Her full name is Mata Amritanandamayi Devi: Mother of Divine Bliss.

Yesterday was the opening of her annual summer U.S. tour, held at the Lake Union Armory in Seattle. The armory is like a big gymnasium and was set up with a whole bunch of chairs and places to sit on the floor and a variety of tables around the edge of the room which, later in the evening, offered books, crafts and Vedic astrology readings.

I arrived on a fabulously soft evening with a couple of friends and we got our Darshan tokens, numbered slips of paper -- we were in the 151-200 range, which was pretty early. From there we went out to wait in the park and watched a seaplane come in for a landing right over us, plunging onto the lake a few hundred feet beyond. Then it was time to go back in.

A purple felt walkway had been laid from the curb into the temple. We all waited around for Ammichi's van to show up. I parked my butt on a recycling can right near the doorway. Very mellow vibe, but bustling a little as pilgrims arrived and got themselves situated. The crowed chanted a mantra I hadn't heard. Someone outside blew into a conch shell, a very distinctive sound like a crude trumpet. The chanting started in a new cycle outside, people inside picked up the tempo, and then a plump little woman with a baby face strolled briskly down the aisle, stopping to check out little kid and embrace him, and disappeared into the armory.

We mingled in after her. It was a big crowd though there was lots of space at the edges of the room. First there were inspirational talks by one of Amma's swamis whose name I didn't catch; then Amma gave a talk, in Hindi, which was translated by a guy I believe is called Swami G. Every now and then she would stop him, whisper a long explanation of something (as if she were teaching, not merely correcting his translation) and he would continue. She talked about the basic spiritual themes. She suggested that our anger did not need to be bandaged, but rather kept out in the open air so it could heal. She gave a parable of a guy who arrives home from work panting and tells his wife he's just made a great discovery: instead of paying $2 for the bus, he ran home behind it. "You could have run home behind a taxi and saved $20," his wife says to him.

That's our logic as Amma sees it; she suggested we walk home on the sidewalk.

Amma, like so many other spiritual teachers, was then extolling the virtues of how children feel and see the world and why we need to be like them. And just as she's saying this, a stunning little girl who's adopted my friend Stephanie for the evening says to her, with a little squeeze, out loud, "Why do you have such big boobs?"

At one point during the evening I spoke with Prasannan, the tour astrologer, for about 10 minutes, initially seeking Amma's birth data, which he wrote neatly on a Post-It. I can't exactly tell you why, but it was really fun to connect with him; a humorous, super-intelligent quality came through his intensity that suggested he was on the story. In our astrology, Amma is a Libra. But in Vedic astrology, she's very, very Virgo. One look at her face and you can see it. Sidereal override.

Rituals are comprehensive affairs; they start the moment you leave the door on the way there, maybe before. So everything that happens in a kind of container, and that's where I remember my talk with Prasannan happening, though it didn't feel that way at the time. I wanted his take on Saturn in Cancer, acknowledging that in the Sidereal system (the one astrologers from India use), it's still in Gemini. He gave me a few ideas for how to think about it. He reminded me how important the sign in the ascendant is when it comes to evaluating the action of a planet.

At some point the music started. A lot of really intense tabla playing and that whole Indian vibe that just sends me. I remembered that the first time I ever heard the sound of a tabla was on a George Harrison song:

When you've seen beyond yourself
then you may find
peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come
when you see we're all one
and life flows on within you and without you.

The music goes on as Amma sits on her meditation cushion and dances with her arms, mostly her left arm. I'm well into wandering around the room mode at this point, going everywhere I can, checking out everyone I can: yum. The chanting works into that magnificent om nama shivaya number, which for some reason it feels like I've heard a thousand times, and then the music finally stops, the lights go dim, there's a meditation, some breathing, and then the hugging ceremony begins. By now it's 10:45 and she's got about 600 people to hug, maybe a lot more.

Our number range came up, and we got into the queue, sliding up to her seated, then kneeling. As we were waiting, there was a kind of promo film being shown on a projection TV, of Amma at the UN receiving the Gandhi-King award, and then doing her thing all over the world. There was a long, long talk on her feminist position. She is serious about this, and it's well stated: men and women are like the two wings of a bird.

I approached the altar; assistants instructed everyone to blot their faces with a tissue, to kneel until embraced, when to do exactly what. Then she was holding me against her breasts, clutching my shoulders against her. I relaxed. She smelled like flowers. She whispered a mantra into my ear. I felt and listened and was then looking into her sweet face, to which I said Namasté.


For those in Seattle there is one last public event, on Sunday night after the retreat. The tour goes on from here, I believe to nine other cities. She is in Europe in the fall. For details, check Amma.org.

Thursday, June 5, 2003


I must be daft or really, really disconnected from the rest of the world because I just don't get this. I have just read your daily and have been regularly. This all seems more like a conversation that I'm listening in on, but have no part in. Yeah, I can visibly see the lunar eclipse and can know about the solar eclipse but I just don't feel the vibe. Even with the consultations with you I feel just as lost as ever. What's the key to this? Why do some of us have no clue? All I felt this week end was alone and really pissy come Monday night. But nothing earth shattering, just the usual ennui and isolation. If you have any suggestions feel free to offer them.

I would say the key, if there is one, is being gentle with yourself.

People experience astrology differently, and intense changes in planetary setups are not always easy. Often they are just intense or overwhelming and nothing seems to help shift our perspective. There's no right way to experience the planets. There are just ways that are more or less pleasant, more or less productive, more or less liberating. Sometimes it just feels like this strange, nameless pressure. If that's true, it's probably a good idea to get yourself talking to you, so you can listen.

The question I would propose is: what is it about now that makes it now? Even if you feel lost and annoyed, feelings that are easily enough understood by a whole bunch of people reading (for sure, a lot of people experienced both the eclipses and Monday's aspects as emotionally difficult, and feeling lost in our particular world is about the most natural feeling there is). Still, there are likely to be factors about this time in your life that set it apart from all others. These factors might be people; they might be elements of cultural history outside yourself; they might be the way you are feeling about yourself. I am aware you're saying you feel as lost as ever, but is there not more, even if it's just a little, even if it's just a little worse than ever or if the world seems a little dumber than ever?

In reality, in actual fact, the world is different in every moment. But if you don't feel that it's different now, then there's likely to be an element of your consciousness holding you to the past, or to a feeling you had in the past.

What is it that you want that you're not quite admitting to yourself? And are you angry about anything you haven't put into words? If that something is very old, are you upset with yourself about still feeling so strongly about it? If you said something, even to yourself, would you feel like you were blaming someone you shouldn't be?

Or -- one last take -- what is it about yourself that you feel you need to hide away the most carefully, perhaps the most beautiful attribute of who you are? Could it be that very aspect of yourself that's the missing piece of your awareness?

Of this you can be sure. No two days are alike. The movements of the planets try a little differently every day to wake us up, to give us a chance to notice. As the Grateful Dead said many times, once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right. But of course, it seldom turns out the way it does in the song*.


*(That would be Scarlet Begonias.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Well now don't you feel better? Since Friday, all of us here have come through three pretty intense stellar gateways. The first was the annular solar eclipse Friday night. The second was the third exact pass of Jupiter opposite Neptune yesterday. The third, Tuesday evening, was Saturn slipping into Cancer. It must be really weird for people who don't notice, can't feel or don't 'believe in' these energies to hear people talking about them as if they were tangible as the boxer who lives next to my house and howls (while I'm on the phone with clients) until I slip a biscuit into her sensuous mouth. Is it really that vivid? Am I just looking at the charts and imagining things? Who knows. Maybe. Maybe Tallie the howling boxer is a dream I'm dreaming, too.

Saturn in Gemini has been damned fucking interesting. I am being polite when I say that; this you know; you lived through it too. On a point of pre-history, Saturn in Taurus we remember mainly for Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. In May 2000 there was the somewhat imfamous Taurus alignment, wherein the seven traditional planets grouped in that sign all at the same time for the only time in recorded history (true). Then there was a one-time-only exact conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Taurus on May 28 (the day I moved to Seattle, not an accident, God knew I was moving and planned the conjunction for that day). Jupiter-Saturn conjunct happens about once every 20 years, in the current era tending to fall in a leap year or the year after. They are always big years. News of that approximate timeframe was the NASDAQ crash of April 14 followed by the fabulous A-15 anti-globalization protests in Washington. You know, it feels like I haven't gotten up from my chair since.

Saturn dipped into Gemini Aug. 9, 2000, commencing the era that thankfully ended about an hour ago. On Oct. 15, 2000, Saturn retrograded back into Taurus, where it was for the Grand Old Voter Fraud of Nov. 7, 2000 (Saturn in Taurus honors traditional values), which coincidentally happened the night of a Mercury station. Shortly after Bush was inaugurated, on Jan. 24, 2001, Saturn turned direct in late Taurus and finally entered Gemini for good on April 20, 2001. At that point, Pluto was about halfway across Sagittarius, sitting right on the Great Attractor.

The first exact pass of Saturn opposite Pluto was Aug. 5, 2001. What was happening in your life then?

Then came Sept. 11, without question the defining moment of the Saturn in Gemini era. When you think of Saturn in Gemini, think of the twin structures of the World Trade Center. And after that, a whole lot of war. The war on Afghanistan allegedly in retaliation for 9-Eleven and the war in Iraq for some reason or another and the Patriot Act and the war on Arab-Americans and the whole lot of it.

There was the Columbia. There were the peace marches [scroll to bottom] in more than 600 cities two weeks later. There was the tortured final buildup, the big crescendo of lies, leading to the war on Iraq, which began the day before the vernal equinox, strangely, just two-and-a-half months ago.

Pluto is still in Sagittarius, making everything into a kind of wild war of brazen ideology. Saturn in Cancer begins a new chapter in history, and with it closes the book on the Saturn-Pluto opposition that we'll never forget, much as some of us would like to. There will be many more stories to tell. National politics will be no less nauseating. The president's chart starts to come under the influence of Saturn as we speak. He's going to be forced to grow up one way or another, or at least we can only hope.

Saturn makes no additional retrogrades back into Gemini; this was the first and final ingress. Saturn reaches the Leo border July 16, 2005 and begins its process of going into that sign then.

Full (initial) coverage of Saturn in Cancer and the conjunction to the transneptunian (TNP, Uranian or hypothetical) point Kronos, which also just entered Cancer after a 40 year trip through Gemini, will be in this week's weekly essay, to published Friday with the horoscope. This will include a discussion of Cancer Saturn returns, which are happening to a crop of candidates born in the early 1970s.

Solstice Tarot Readings

Tuesday, June 3, 3002

So where were we. So what's goin' on. So who's the king of the universe. So what's the big deal.

It slipped my mind that 2 June 03 was last pass of Jupiter-Neptune. I always do that with Neptune, space him until I remember. My teacher warned me about that. What a day.


Reader Question Department. Quote:

I was happily contemplating Saturn leaving my sun sign and realized that the horoscope I was reading for June talked about Saturn in the first house. I have my own chart and remembered that Saturn was actually in the tenth house and given the borders of the house, Saturn wasn't really leaving the tenth house for a fair amount of time more. I read your article on how sun sign astrology works (assumes ascendant equals sun sign and uses whole signs as equivalents for houses). So, then I went to the ascendant forecast and that matched to some degree as well, but it, too was off. I am guessing that these mismatches occur because the "whole house" astrology assumes that the borders of the signs are the 1st and 30th degree while the actual house (based on birth chart) may cross signs (begins in one sign and ends in another). So, neither a sun sign based ascendant or birth sign forecast is entirely accurate.

1. From the mathematics of it, are the sun sign forecasts more accurate the closer you are to the first degree of the birth sign or of the ascendant?

Note, I've edited my answers a few times for clarity. Which was gosh darned well not happening yesterday.

A. In short, the whole sign house system presumes that the first degree of every sign is the beginning of each solar house. Even if your're born with the last degree of Scorpio rising (for instance) the first degree of Scorpio is your whole sign ascendant. And if you are born on the last day of Scorpio, your whole sign ascendant in the solar house system is the first degree of Scorpio. This is just for the purposes horoscope columns and also works the same way if your astrologer is into the whole Helenistic movement and uses whole sign houses when reading your chart. Even if, in that case, were you 22 degrees of Libra rising, the first degree of Libra would be considered your ascendant.

How does this work? In short, the chart must start somewhere and it really doesn't matter that much where it starts, as long as you decide that's the beginning.

There is (at least) a double metaphor going at all times, the solar chart and the true natal chart. There are many ways to gather the same data, be it sun sign, reading the actual chart, the Chinese system, the Vedic system... it's all running parallel. How the astrologer taps into the information is just that, a method. Remember that the whole business of astrology is a) a hologram and b) a kind of illusion. The same metaphors express themselves many ways. The most important thing you can have is an astrologer dedicated to interpreting them well. It sounds like you might want to get into that gig - if you're asking these kinds of questions, you're ready to do some serious astrology.

2. Do ascendant forecasts (using sun sign astrology) generally fit better from the perspective of where the planets are located at the time of the forecast?

A. This is another double issue. Yes, if you're Cancer rising and you read the Cancer horoscope, you do get a look at your actual house transits, to a degree, though of course it's happening under a whole sign system, which works regardless of where your house cusps happen to be - I personally think that whole sign houses often trump the house cusps. Using sun sign forecasts for ascendant readings is important and useful. (Cainer, to give a second opinion, says no to this one, in no uncertain terms. No double dipping - one horoscope per person.) Thing is that most writers base part of their presentation on prejudices they have about traits of people born under different sun signs. Of course, if you know your rising sign, then those prejudices might work just fine for that aspect of who a person is. A lot of that has to do with how much you identify with the energies and characteristics of your rising sign.

3. It occurred to me to try and read the forecast for the sign in which the rest of the tenth house occurred, but I figured that would create greater mathematical error (and probably confuse the hell out of me). Is that true?

A. If you're doing this kind of thing you might as well get a copy of your natal chart and go to town. But in terms of using horoscope columns for 'expanded purposes', there are lots of possibilities for how to play. They all depend on knowing the basic meaning of the houses, and counting the signs from your sun sign. Let's say you have Cap on your 10th house cusp for example (any Aries would have that). I see nothing wrong with reading the Cap horoscope for a little clue. Or if you're a Pisces, I see nothing wring with reading the Sagittarius horoscope (the 10th solar house) for a similar clue about your professional life if that's what you're divining. This is after all divination, and if you can ask the tea leaves or some chicken bones, you can ask a horoscope column.

Monday, June 2, 2003

An unusual edition of Planet Waves has just been posted. Created by writers from the Vision List collective, the update looks at sexual dichotomy (an appropriate enough theme for Gemi ) as expressed in the relationship between the structure known as the corporation, and the substance known as Earth. Whether metaphor or actual experience, we get about ten views of this mixture. This, as Saturn, traditionally associated with structure, official power, government, parents and corporations, leaves the sign of the twins and enters Cancer for the first time since the early 1970s. We could all tell stories of dichotomy and dichotomy resolved from these few years of Saturn in Gemini. We have seen the twin towers of the World Trade Center disappear. We have all learned something meaningful wherever in your chart the sign Gemini expresses, and it does express somewhere.

Two of our writers explore the relationship between people and drugs; drugs being the products of corporations and the medical establishment. One writer was on the receiving end of 'treatment' and the other is a homeopathic practitioner in the UK. This is a really interesting study in Gemini, if you ask me, on the various relationships between people, substances and society. One writer explores the dissolving corporation of her marriage. Another looks at the lover known as Earth, and those who covet her. A guest writer looks at the relationship between corporations and humanity. Editor Steve Fornal gives us a chilling little exposé on a corporate-government program called HAARP and its impact on the environment.

The Saturn in Cancer piece serves to put it into the home, which is what most of our writers are getting at this month. Saturn, ruler of Cancer's opposite sign Capricorn, puts the planet in a place where it's alleged to be uncomfortable. Yet Saturn in Cancer is a vast project of integrating something into its seeming opposite. If we're going to be free of certain structures of our society, which seems remotely but eminently possible, then it's only because we're able to attain a certain mastery of structure's ways and means within ourselves and in our immediate world. We all need a house to live in. In this world, you can, among other things, 'own' property, rent from a corporation or build a nice pile of stones and live in it.

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