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United for Peace
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by Eric Francis | Pisces Daily Edition
Prior Daily Web Log, from June 2002 | CURRENT EDITION
Above: Fred Rogers testifies before the United States Senate in 1969.
| | Thank You, Mister Rogers
| February 28
He may have been the only television character to have ever really existed.
Fred Rogers, the Presbyterian minister who took to the airwaves and created some of the most loving, honest and daring children's television ever, died Thursday after a short illness. He was 74. The world loses one of its most gentle, faithful souls with Mr. Rogers' departure, and television loses one of its rare gems of a human being who used its power exclusively for spreading kindness and emotional safety. This was no put-on; it was just Fred.
For those of us who grew up in the tumultuous Sixties and Seventies, with our stressed-out families often flaking apart and so much unease in the air, Mr. Rogers' kitchen was a place of psychic and emotional sanctuary. There was never, ever a harsh or unkind word spoken, and there was always something fun and interesting to think about. But he was no Pollyanna; he talked about war, divorce and other frightening subjects about which children need to be taught.
I have a theory that when we grow up in the midst of everything unhealthy and people who resent one another, the one sane person who makes his or her way into our awareness is quite literally a savior. They are the missing experience; the direct evidence that something else is possible.
Fred Rogers was evidence that there was at least one sane person in the world. When I think of how I felt watching his program as compared to so many other moments of my childhood, it's as if my soul relaxes. He reassured so many millions of children over so many different generations dominated by television's constant coverage of violence, it's a little frightening to think of what the world would have become without him.
Remember that he also influenced parents, and at least provided an example for how they needed to relate to children: calmly, gently and directly.
Mr. Rogers was apparently a Pisces, with a Pisces Moon, Venus, Mercury and Vesta as well. I say apparently because his birth time is not yet available, and he was born so close to the Vernal Equinox of 1928 as to render his Sun sign not that important a question. He was the essence of the Pisces-Aries cusp: spiritually inclined, innovative, and conveying the sense of being from beyond the world. The last few degrees of Pisces are a mysterious zone of the great wheel, where the light shines in unusual colors.
With the mighty Uranus in Aries a few degrees away from his natal Sun, we see an astrological picture of the clear, pure sense of humanity that he emanated. And the Uranus-Sun combination is almost always the mark of a great inventor. With so much planetary activity on the Aries point (also called the Vernal Point, the first degree of the tropical zodiac) we understand why astrologers look to that part of the chart for indicators of whether a person will reach people with their work. A strong Aries point all but guarantees a measure of fame.
His Chiron placement is worth mentioning. It is located in the exact degree where Chiron was to be discovered 49 years after his birth. Chiron is often viewed as an astrological stand-in for the Cosmic Christ. Fred Rogers was quite literally a Christian missionary to children; few with such powerful Pisces in their charts can resist a spiritual calling of some kind, but his was distinctly religious as well.
"Through his daily half-hour children's program, Fred Rogers opens the door to childhood and walks inside, gently navigating his young television neighbors through their sometimes scary world in terms they can understand. They feel safe in his nurturing adult presence. He gives children permission to be children," wrote Christianity Today in a March 2000 article about him.
"But what most people don't realize about Mister Rogers and his Neighborhood is that behind the puppets, the tennis shoes, and the simple songs lies an abiding faith and weighty theology. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ordained Fred Rogers as "an evangelist to work with children and families through the mass media." He does not bring evangelism in its churchly sense to this calling, and neither does he introduce religious themes in his programs. But his daily neighborhood visits with children sow seeds that awaken something basic in their hearts."
Thank you, Mister Rogers.
Above: Faces in the crowd at Woodstock Festival, in Bethel NY, August 1969. Photo by Elliot Landy, Landyvision
Beyond The End | February 27
I once had a crush on a Jehovah's Witness girl named Wanda. I guess she was about 19, an old soul, and positively beautiful, with long, thick gold hair, all-knowing eyes and a graceful, sanctimonious way about her. She seemed to like me even though I was a bit of a Pagan astrologer freakazoid. She invited me to come to church a lot with her family, invited me even more times to the Book of Revelation study group, and once arranged for a VIP tour of the enormous Witness compound in upstate New York where they print all those copies of The Watchtower. After the tour of press rooms and translation labs and the office where operators work the phones using a complete national telephone database, a tour which went on for about six hours, we went back to her family's home for tea.
Their home was cozy, nestled in the woods of a town called New Paltz. Mom served us tea and cookies. She told the story of how Wanda was born upstairs in that house, delivered by her father without the assistance of a doctor or midwife. (She even gave me the exact birth time.) She told me how much she loved her home. "We plan to stay here until the end," she then said, out of approximately nowhere. I knew what she meant, but gave her a questioning look back.
"You know, The End," she repeated. "Wanda hasn't told you about The End?"
Mom turned around. Poor Wanda rolled her eyes. Mom was nestling in for Armageddon. This is not especially strange; she is just like tens of millions of people across our great nation, who have been studying the Book of Revelation since Vacation Bible School. This masterpiece of esoteric literature, with its cryptic seven stars and seven seals and four horsemen and a pale horse followed by Hades and the wrath of a Lamb and islands disappearing into the sea, is enough to send a 33rd degree Mason's head spinning, or, alternately, terrify a child. And it is not good news, with its pestilences unleashed and its earthquakes thundering and the Sun becoming black and the Moon turning to blood. And why does all this happen?
But of course -- because God loves us! Why else would be blacken the sky with smoke and locusts? Make no mistake -- this is big business. It's big bomb business and church business and duct tape business and gun business and poison gas business and gas mask business. God loves us so everyone can make money spreading fear and threatening the world; this is perfectly logical.
I'm going to get in on the endgame; soon I'll be releasing a line of premium greeting cards that say things like, "Good Luck on Armageddon" and "Thinking of You on Judgment Day." I can guarantee domestic delivery; the Post Office has a plan to deliver in the unfortunate event of The End, and by the way, Planet Waves will remain online as well.
So, The End. We are all here together floating on the cosmic bubble known as World Earth. It's very weird here, out on the far edge of the galaxy. Existence is tenuous. Beneath all our ideas about life lurks a big question, you might say, the existential question. Little kids ask it all the time: what happens to me when I die? But adults tend to forget this, and lots of them get obsessed with The End.
When images in the newspaper seem to match images we have in our minds, that can seem validating. The World Trade Center fall down, and that was pretty gosh darned millennial. We have a presidential administration that wants to bring back smallpox demands a war every year, and creates wish lists (after we miraculously manage to survive the arms race and the Cold War) of countries on which to use nuclear weapons. We have AIDS tearing across Africa and Asia. We have people struggling in our own country, scrambling for food, but we talk endlessly each day of eternal war.
Whatever happens or doesn't happen in the next two hours to 10 years, human life will go on. So the end is not really the end, it's a kind of transition. It may be a rough, horrible, grotesque transition that you're not around for; it may be an exciting, uproarious time of power to the people, after which we all get to lounge around on a utopian, well-maintained lawn with friendly zebras and pigs, like in that painting in The Watchtower. But life will go on, even if it's just mutants and cockroaches.
The End is a very convenient psychological device which spreads well past fundamentalist religion. It provides a mental construct with which we can supposedly cope with fear, but without having to approach the questions of change, emotional surrender and individual mortality. The End helps us not worry about what a mess our lives might be, or about the pain of loss, or the prospect of growing old. Or what we want that we might have to work for. Everything will be fine; it will all just End. There are those who are wound so tight that their only notion of surrender involves a nuclear bomb going off over their heads.
The end is a guarantee that you won't have to deal with the necessities of growth, or change, or love, or losing love, or taking a chance. It's often a reason to not deal with sexual feelings. If you can hold out till The End, you may never have to fall in love, or deal with jealousy, or the prospect of tyranny, or the more frightening prospect of freedom. You can forget about death. There is not death; there is just The End. We won't have to face cleaning up the environment, getting involved in a 40-year political struggle, changing our lives, or making difficult decisions. The End will solve everything for us.
Part of the problem with this process is that it can work on an underground level. In other words, rising up in resistance to our millenialist fundamentalist Purple Kool-Aid and Cute Little Nuke-wielding government means we need to face the real choice to live and breathe. Waking up to what is happening means actually paying attention, and at first, that often hurts. It is much easier to let it all slide, to let them do what they're going to do and hope for the best.
The issue, it seems, is really better stated as The Beginning. The beginning involves a choice to live, rather than to jam oneself into a cave and avoid life, waiting for The End. Having suppressed life for so long, many people live on a level of fear that sounds like this: "If I make this choice, how can I escape the bottomless pit of regret that I had not come to the choice sooner?" And it may indeed seem hopeless, since the issue is compounded. There is the original suppression, and the terror of letting it go because of the fear of regret. But that question is a very powerful thought. One who is asking it can see the levels of the situation.
Anyone who chooses to come out of the fitful slumber of The End may notice that the world is a rather frightening place right now, tuning into the main channels of thought. One may also notice how much is possible, how much energy is moving, how amazing life can be when looked at the right way, how many choices we have, how mysterious history is. Then, in that moment, arises the eternal question. Imagine you walk up to the supermarket checkout clerk, reaching for your wallet, and he or she asks you:
"Will that be Love, or Fear?"
Above: Ambivalencia by Carlos Solorzano Smith
How Are You Doing? Your Replies | February 26
Well, it's funny..."the sense of fear and uncertainty that seem to be so prevalent in the world right now," as you say, is something that I have always imposed upon myself; worrying over inconsequential issues, fretting about things I cannot, and never could, control. I remember being seven or eight years old, waking up in the night and crying so often; terrified about the possibility of nuclear war, obsessed with this idea about the end of the world (after watching over and over with my older sister, an HBO documentary about Nostradamus, which was narrated in a most earnest and frightening voice, by none other than Orson Wells), able to think about nothing but the impending death of the human race.
I will be thirty-three years old on March sixteenth, and for the first time in my life I feel free; free of the fear of a something I could not name...free of the nagging low level anxiety that I felt reverberating through my cells, my entire being, from the time I can remember until now.
It's as though I've had some "light-bulb" moment; a realization that all of this fear and anxiety that our society feeds on, and spits back out all over each other, is an illusion; an illusion designed to keep us small.
So how am I?
I am shedding the impetus to be small and afraid; at last...
As for the state the of the world -- I've never seen anything but conflict on the news. Guess that's what makes it news. I do my little bit, I've participated in a local group that's against a war in Iraq...signed a petition..email to the premier.. etc. The state of the world, isn't really registering tho'. This prelude to a war or something.. has been going on for so long that, to quote a friend, "it's almost like 1984." I'm not scared of that...It won't rule me...still it's the personal stuff that I experience that scares me the most.
The swirl of emotions & scenarios in my personal life has risen to such a fever pitch in the past few months, I feel like I am barely able to keep my head above water. Is it the fear mongering? Is it the ongoing & very real (to me) effects of Saturn-Pluto? I am a Scorpio, 11-8-51, my life had been on auto pilot for a decade until the last few years. My economic security evaporated, my emotional even-keel went belly up, my usual robust health left me, my closest friend in life & long-time lover betrayed me in such a way as to cause all of these things to be magnified ten fold. Then, seemingly out of the blue, the past few months have returned all the good & beauty life has to offer, & I should feel totally wonderful. And was, until one action has snowballed into making me an emotional wreck, very unlike my normal self. So is it the prevalent fear floating like pollution in the air? All I know is, I am personally fearful about my own situation, & may have caught the fear flu. It's out there, you breathe it in, & suddenly your life is turned topsy-turvy as a result. I don't know. Maybe. But I feel awful, that's for sure.
My father, who is usually the most steadfast man in the world, is falling apart a little bit about finances. He has the strain of a daughter without a job, and he says that his whole retirement is at risk if I get hurt or sick. I don't have any other place to live because I don't have a bank account. I don't want to work at yet another coffee shop, I want a "real job", one that makes a difference. I feel powerless. I am so angry that sometimes I can't sleep. The impending war is doing serious damage to everyone's retirement money. Why does my wonderful father have to suffer because, as you so aptly put it, some "sexually wounded males" are out trying to hurt each other? There's no work because there's no money because of the Bush War. I just don't understand why our government continues to feel that they are justified in making our lives difficult. It makes me so mad that millions showed up to say no to war and Bush just ignores it. I am honestly having a very hard time with the energies around me and coming from me these days. I don't know what to do. It seems insurmountable. I know that strength and hope and miracles come from inside and I am working on it.
Things are changing so fast. Our security in old ways is slipping away, making room for new dreams and new ways of life. However, I don't really know what that looks like yet. It makes me feel panicky to know that I can't build with the old blocks, but I don't have the new blocks and in the meantime I have to build something! Despite this panic, this weird transition, my dreams are so beautiful. My dreams find me challenging the laws of physics, my dreams find me healing with color and speaking with movement. What a strange juxtaposition, but I suppose it makes sense.
Well I live and work in London, and it's always been a pretty stressful place, but with infrastructure breaking down, political parties being ridiculed left right and centre, and a Prime Minister whose actions and motivations we don't understand, you could say that there's a feeling of discontent, at least amongst my friends. The gallows humour and dry sarcasm for which we Brits are famous are useful in times like this, but underneath it all I think, at least for me, there's a kind of hope that perhaps, at last, we've got to a point where it's so very clear how unworkable our theories of government are, the spin, the media coverage, the violence, the war-mongering, the lack of listening to the people, SURELY, you think, someone's going to say "ok guys this is f*cked, let's start again and try and work it openly and honestly shall we?" I hate to say it but you Americans are getting tarred with the same brush as your President, and although we all know he only got into office because he's a lying cheating waste of oxygen, some of you still voted for him. What's he doing?! Why is he so hell-bent on having a war? Why is OUR leader so hell bent on a war? You know, I think a lot of us have lost our trust in the whole nine yards of it, government, politics, the lot. I just wish someone would stand up and shout very loudly "There is another way!". Perhaps I should?! Perhaps it's time for King Arthur to return and do it? We need something!
Personally, I think that in many ways it's a great time to be alive. Challenging, and hard work, but ripe with opportunity. This is the time when the most positive change can be made, and I hope to God/dess that I'm right in saying that we really can make an incredible change. We're in a position to change this world, and the way it's been run for a couple of millenia, and to do our best to repair some of the damage. I don't know if we'll do it, I don't know if we'll all make it, but I for one am going to do my very best, and I know a lot of other people who are doing the same. I'm not talking major political statements, I'm talking spreading the love, wisdom, and positivity in every day life, in every way you can, in the media that you're good at, talking, writing, painting, singing, whatever, so that (apart from days when I have PMS!) the people I come into contact with go away a little happier, more positive, more confident, more loving, and they then pass it on to the next. Simplistic, I know, but it's about the best I can do at the moment. And it keeps me going. That, and knowing that in the end, none of this really matters, but in a way, like getting the high score on Tomb-Raider, while you're in the game, it would be really great if we could do our best, and win.
well...maybe if i lived beneath a rock none of this would affect me but it does profoundly. creeping fear and anxiety bubble up seemingly out of nowhere. . .i feel tensed. yoga and meditation. . .good diet, no drugs of any kind (coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar or any other) are the only means by which i have to navigate this disaster. i feel this is a disaster and yet i feel sometimes beneath the fear there is hope. hope that the madness we seem to be entangled in will reveal itself for what it is. . .an illusion of separateness. we are not separate or the other and what we do to the others we also do to ourselves. maybe we should think about that before raining bombs down upon Iraq and are forced to watch video footage of children with their heads split open like ripe watermelons.
I feel like crying a lot nowadays. I do not cry when harsh, cruel and unjust events take place, I tend to harden against the blows. I cry only when I see something beautiful or someone sings a beautiful song in my ear. I need a lot of those now as I feel as if there were a big underground water lake deep inside of my self.
Man, I am really struggling. Struggling with my job and the total lack of meaning in it. Struggling with preparing for my wedding and feeling ripped off by both the cost and the expectations of others. Struggling with the lack of integrity everywhere, including at times, myself. But most of all I am struggling with fear. The fear that it may not mean anything at all in the face of all the craziness going on in the world. I am most afraid of living my life as a sheep, with all the others, doing what I'm told, following the rules, shaking my head at the evening news then cracking a beer for comfort, lacking the basic level of integrity which is being true to myself. But what can I do but keep on keeping on?
I am finding it very difficult to carry on in the manner I usually do. Doing unto others etc. I have coped by watching my Doves. They are always the same beautiful,peaceful and very fertile selves. I help them build their nests,care for their young,and they are always glad to see me. They are laughing Doves too,so that alleviates some of the seriousness that is around. I slept with a baby Dove on my shoulder the other night and realized things cannot be ALL that bad. God Bless.
I'm one of those mid-sixties babies -- that means Pluto is doing lots of fun stuff to me right now-- and that also means that the pervasive sense of fear in the world seems to be exploding in my personal life as well. Friends are posing as enemies; wars are being waged over the phone; opening an email feels a little like putting a foot down in a mine field. Weird. What the hell is going on? I am grateful for it. How I handle the anxiety of my daily traumas -- the fear of others' anger, the panic about how to handle my own anger (lovingly or protectively?), and so forth -- can teach me about learning to maneuver the BIG stuff. How to remain peaceful amidst the chaos. And hopefully make me more compassionate. I am afraid all of a sudden and what seems to calm me down is the realization that I was afraid all along; now, it's just staring back at me from newspapers and the television. Could it be that we are all scared shitless anyway; could it be that it's just THERE?
I'm trying to find a balance between knowing too much -- obsessively scouring the papers -- and hiding away in my New York apartment. Living in New York has been a test in itself these past few years, and I feel like 9/11 didn't teach me to be more afraid but to be more accepting of fear, more relaxed with it. Strange as it may sound, dealing with fear means bending into it. Resist it and you're doomed. See the devil on your bedpost in the morning and wish it good morning. Otherwise it'll delight in spooking you all day long.
Don't coddle it, though. Just say hello and get on with your day.
I live in NYC and was here during 9/11. Knowing quite a bit about my chart, I automatically went to it to see the repercussions of the event and to place it astrologically. It felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted, even though my mind was trying to make sense of it all. The grief around here was palpable and the uncertainty even more so.
Since then, and especially since the latter part of last October, all I can tell you is that I sense panic around me more and more. There is a general feeling of numbness around me with people I have known for many years.
Everything seems suspended in a frozen state. New York, which for many years vibrated energy, now seems to be standing still, almost like the Normandy must have looked like, had it not burned, at the end of that era. I don't know why that came to me as an analogy, but I know that it was fitted to serve for the 2nd WW before it was set on fire.
In my case, I'm dealing with what's happening in the same way I would deal with abject trauma. I'm taking it a day at a time, learning to look at only the day in front of me. I am immediately reminded of the dangers of looking into the future by sensing fear and nervousness the moment I begin to do so.
The morning that I took my first Bikram yoga class was also the day of my 48th birthday and the day the Columbia shuttle exploded over the West. I left class exhausted and detoxified. I got home to the news which filled me with sadness and awe. The pressure to go to war--as portrayed in the media, Bush's statements, flooding my head, exhausting me. I started going to yoga everyday and been going ever since. Each time feeling more and more released from the germs of panic, delusion and fear and depression that formed out of years of habit, media distraction and apathy. My old arthritic knee has started to straighten out too. In fact, everything is starting to stretch and become flexible. My energy is returning. I sleep great at night. Marched San Francisco's Peace March on February 16th. What a ball.
As in your article, taking care of me is the best antidote to the dangerous political mind warfare of this Administration. I haven't bought duct tape. I haven't panicked. I am not afraid. And more than anything else, I am not fooled. I think we've been so used to being "children" to our presidents--we've asked them to be our fathers, guides, sages. We have trusted them with our safety and livelihoods. And are extremely disappointed when they don't act like our ideal fathers should. This time around, this "Father Figure" reminds me of a Bad Stepfather movie. Stupid, toxic and terrified-asking everyone to be terrified with him. Cornered into the foxhole of his own mind. Its pathetic and one would almost be sympathetic if this moron didn't have his finger on the button...
How Are You Doing? | February 25
Usually I write to you. Today I'm just going to ask a question and ask you to write to me -- how are you doing? How are you handling the sense of fear and uncertainty that seems to be so prevalent in the world right now? In particular, I'm wondering how you're working through the emotions associated with all the changes that seem to be coming at us so fast. Please drop me a note, it would be great if you would take a few minutes and share some thoughts. I'll publish some of the replies in Wednesday's edition, without names. Please use this mail link. Thank you.
The new monthly edition is now in progress -- we're now aiming for a late Wednesday evening posting. Lots of very cool fish photos from deep beneath Puget Sound coming soon.
War as Abuse | February 24
When I was serving as a full-time investigative reporter in New York, I was confronted with a painfully perplexing situation. I was writing about badly contaminated college dormitories in New Paltz, buildings which had been soaked with PCBs and dioxins during electrical explosions and fires. But it seemed that no matter how accurate, clear, level-headed, spot-on or award-winning my articles were, I could not convince any significant number of students to move out or raise a fuss.
Students (with their parents in tow) would come to the campus, pick up a newspaper in which I had written a major front-page article about their very building, read the thing, then move into their room and hang the article up on the wall. One could not help but think that these students were just really stupid, real-life Bevis and Butt Head-types capable only of, "Wow, how cool, our poison dorm is in the newspaper."
Years later, when one of the former students died of leukemia, another possibility came to the surface. Many of these students came from toxic homes. They expected toxicity to be present in the place where they lived. For many of them, being away from abusive and negligent parents (the kind who might not bat an eye about leaving them in a contaminated building) was such a great relief, they didn't care, didn't want to mess up their newfound freedom, or didn't notice the problem. Wherever they were going was better than where they were coming from. So they moved into Bliss Hall, where the contamination had once reached a million times the questionable "safe" limit for PCBs set by the state.
But it took a whole lot of hindsight to figure that out.
In Friday's edition, I pointed out that every living person in our society today was raised in a time of nonstop war -- news of war, living amongst sick and suffering veterans, fear of annihilation, and other painful evidence of war. Many have pointed out that the reason why Europeans are so much more astute on the issue of war than are Americans is that they have suffered actual bombing campaigns that took out most every building and bridge in their society. I believe that is true, but I also sense that there is something more insidious, that is, deep and sneaky, going on.
We in the United States live with the pattern of repeat and ongoing (and escalating) attacks by our government. on civilians around the world. We might ask: why is it that citizens allow this kind of program to go ever-onward, and in their names? Well, we have always been abused; our trust has been abused, as has our love of our country, and our fear, and our desire for freedom. It's as if, once promised freedom, we can be made to pay for it at any price, then have it denied to us. That is an abuse pattern.
We are subjected to endless pain -- the psychic pain of war-cries, the emotional pain of knowing that people are being killed, and for those who know that the government is lying, the pain of being lied to. In being subjected to this conduct of society's leaders, who we empower to take care of us, but who then steal from us and hurt others, we are in fact being abused. This abuse has gone on so long we don't even see it for what it is. We are so conditioned, we just take it.
It is abusive of our government to bomb Iraqis, and it is abusive of them to expect us to watch it happen and not feel their pain. It's just as abusive as a child being subjected to a parent murdering his neighbor's whole family. That's exactly what it is.
This abuse triggers our patterns of family abuse, during which adults did violence to us and to one another, neglected us in the process, and created a situation in which we were forced to get a grip on ourselves and take on the adult role too early. It was so pervasive we did not see it at the time, and most people don't understand what happened to them as kids -- but they suffer the pain every day. Just like children can't manage or finance a household, we know that saving the world is too big a job, especially faced with elders (Cheney, Bush, etc.) who persistently lie, abuse, attack and go on psychotic rampages.
Especially when we are faced with so many other responsibilities. In other words, just like kids have to take care of their schoolwork and friendships and that is a big job, I have to keep my household running and my business on track and mind my relationships and growth, at the same time I feel an overwhelming responsibility to participate daily in the peace movement, inform my peers, and so on. I must also process the constant pain of witnessing what society's leaders are doing, deal with my sense of powerlessness, and much else related. We all have responsibilities to fulfill, work that must be done, and kids and partners and friends and fish and dogs who need attention. And then on top of this we have to save the world? We all know that is too fucking much.
So when war comes, we both expect it and feel paralyzed. Our inner responses to this scenario, I feel, will be quite parallel to when faced with similar situations in the deep past. I suggest we be mindful of those patterns, and of our rage.
I am aware that I am not yet (in this post) calling for adopting a spiritual view, which would include connecting with Spirit -- that is, making the leap from rage at the government's actions to peace, and in fact being at peace in the midst of this -- and that is of course a necessary step, because it's really the only possibility for success when faced with an impossible situation. Part of the problem with that is that the spiritual view must be organic and born from within or else it's more religiosity, which is part of the abuse pattern itself.
In the meantime, I suggest that it's very important that we monitor our experiences and reactions to what is happening rather than try to control them. We contain these patterns. We expect supposed adults to attack and neglect us, and that expectation is a pattern we carry. It extends to our beliefs about government leaders. Just like children can take on ominous responsibility and leadership in critical situations in the lives of adults prematurely, we are expected to do so now. And to do so knowing that it might not work, knowing that we might fail and thus feel accountable personally for what is done to a nation of actual children in Iraq. This is truly a heavy burden.
We are entitled to be angry about this. I propose that expressing contemptuous rage is a very important first step in the process of becoming aware. It is the appropriate reaction. That rage has to go someplace, but more important, it must be acknowledged. My sense is that, in these years since Vietnam, we have been taking it out on ourselves. If we follow the patterns of our families, we will take it out on ourselves as guilt and shame, and possibly perpetuate the cycle by becoming abusers ourselves.
On this note, I suggest you notice if you're not feeling. Often, not feeling and not acknowledging feelings are defenses against what is going on deeper inside.
It took me a long time to forgive myself for not being able to shut down the contaminated campus in New Paltz. I worked very hard and I came very close to success. In the end, I can only rest knowing that I did the job I was called upon to do, having no real control over the situation and, in truth, not really understanding why students would subject themselves to living in a space filled with deadly poison. It took me a long time to recognize that I could not save my family from their emotional poison. I can only save myself. I do my best.
The Peace for Which they Died | February 21
There is a segment of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude in which the town where the book is set falls under a spell of forgetfulness. Thus, the local Tarot card reader, who in the past made her living telling the future, instead spends her days telling people the story of their own past. Well, quite frankly, I can relate.
I grew up watching the Vietnam War on television. Dad was studying for his Ph.D. in mass-media (you could say the church of the media -- he used to be a seminary student) and, as I've written before (since I do remember my past) each night at dinner we watched the war, in silence, because he was taping the news. I was a little kid; when little kids see something, they get the impression that that's the way the world is. I'm afraid a lot of us got that impression over a rather long period of time. There is not a person alive today who does not know the effects of our society living in a state of constant war, be it news and propaganda of our attacks on others, living with the constant threat of war and nuclear attack, serving in war, losing loved ones to war and its cousin, holocaust, experiencing the post-traumatic stress and war-related illness of survivors, paying for war with our taxes, or experiencing war directly by living in New York City or Washington during 9-Eleven.
We know nothing else, but we forget.
So, here's a Tarot card reading of the past.
World War I, between 1914 and 1918, was "the war to end all wars." But after the DuPonts and the Carnegies got finished doing their accounting, there was no way they were going to give up on that racket. Everything remained more or less calm for a while (if you don't count the War Against the People known as the Great Depression, during which family farms were invaded (foreclosed), millions of people turned to refugees, and potatoes were dumped in rivers, to keep the price up, of course, and armed guards posted so that starving people would not fish them out). To get us out of the depression, we joined World War II, which should properly be called The War to Continue all Wars.
If you want to know how many people died in that war, just imagine all the peace marches from last weekend, all the peace rallies everywhere, especially those huge ones in London and Rome, and double or triple that figure. Imagine a march going on for weeks and weeks on end, 24 hours a day, 12 people abreast, and you've got a scant idea how many people died in World War II.
There was a big party when the War to Continue All Wars was over, but now it seems more like a commencement celebration. We "ended" that war by dropping nuclear weapons on two, not one but two, Japanese cities that were virgin targets, places that had never been bombed, so we could properly study the effects of our weapons. This is covered in the film The Atomic Cafe -- I strongly suggest you rent it. Soon after, we were in a nuclear arms race with the Soviets. The world was so safe and so fine that we now had to face the daily prospect of its annihilation. This was called the Cold War, which was a chilly time. During the Cold War there were a stream of developments (the H-Bomb among them) and numerous (140) nuclear air-bursts over the American southwest (covered in the book American Ground Zero). The cold war seemed to have ended a few years back with the fall of the Soviet Empire, but our president, the CEO of the Rear Guard, has brought it back. We are now as close to nuclear war as ever, probably closer; the world nuclear clock is currently set at seven minutes to midnight.
The Cold War was not enough, so during that time, we had a few hot wars. First there was the Korean War, one of the first of an endless stream of wars on the Communists (the old word for Terrorist). That was followed by the Vietnam War. The United States sent men, women, guns, money and lobsters for officers to dine on for well over a decade, between the early Sixties and the early Seventies. We dumped tons of dioxin-tainted Agent Orange on both the local people and our troops, and massacred villages, and carpet bombed Laos and Cambodia. Millions were shot, and millions more were sickened by chemicals. That war ended as a national disgrace witth cries of "never again."
What most people did not recognize is that, as one Vietnam was ending, another was beginning, this time in Central America. It started under Jimmy Carter as a covert little war against the Communists who were going to conquer the world from El Salvador, and when Ronnie Reagan and George Bush took office in 1981, it became a full-time occupation of the White House under the direction of someone named Oliver North. Now, by twisted methods, this war (which had since moved into Nicaragua) involved Iran and Iraq. Here is the short version. The Bush/Reagan White Housee made a deal with our then-enemies, Iran, to sell them weapons in their war against our then-friends, Iraq. (In capitalism, your friends are usually the people who buy your weapons and your enemies are the ones who don't, but the problem is that this restricts your market, so whenever possible you have to sell weapons to both sides. So we were providing both Iran and Iraq guns to maintain a war against one another that lasted about 10 years.)
The profits on weapons sales to Iran were diverted to a CIA-created terrorist organization called the Contras. The Contra Terrorists (whom Reagan loved to call "Freedom Fighters," an accurate name), under the authority of the U.S. government, were responsible for the bombings of schools, farming cooperatives, churches, hospitals and other "soft targets" (things that don't shoot back, for more info, see The Culture of Terror by Noam Chomsky) throughout little impoverished Nicaragua during the 1980s. This was part of a plan to destablize the government of that country so that people would elect a right wingnut more sympathetic to Washington. It worked. Daniel Ortega (a "Communist") was voted out of office. Tens of thousands of people "disappeared" in the process, in Nicaragua and many other countries down there.
Meanwhile, a steady stream of bombs, chemical agents, biological agents and nuclear components were sold to Iraq by the US and England. The "weapons of mass destruction" that CEO Shrub keeps talking about were sold to Saddam by none other than his own daddy. Oh, Dick Cheney sold a lot of weapons to Iraq after retiring from a distinguished career as secretary of defense in the early '90s (between the Gulf Wars), but that's another story.
It was now time for George Bush to ascend to the throne and, rather shortly after moving his office to a more posh setting in the appropriately-titled White House, he commenced the War On Drugs. This was and remains a multi-zillion dollar perpetual hot war (a war with shooting guns and bombs and chemicals) against the people of South America and California, among other places.
Then came the nearly-forgotten Persian Gulf War (a/k/a operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), in which we protected the legitmate feudal monarchy known as Kuwait against Saddam Hussein, whom the US ambassador, April Glaspie, invited to invade that country. That is correct. In the summer of 1990, Glaspie signaled Saddam that there would be no repercussions if he invaded Kuwait (which country, if you recall, was stealing Iraq's oil by slant drilling), so he invaded.
Are you getting bored? I still have 12 years to cover, and I've actually skipped over more than two-thirds of the wars that happened between World War II and today. But speaking of covers, I am now looking at the cover of Newsweek from Jan. 7, 1991, on the eve of Bush War I. The face is that of Saddam Hussein and the headline is "More Than Just a Madman." Like my dad, I like to save old media relics. They come in handy. If you read the thing (which I can barely stand to do) you see all the familiar faces -- Dick and Bush and Colon and Saddam and all kinds of cool gadgets getting sent over there, and soldiers in their desert cammies marching along raising a cloud of dust, and we're going to end this once and for all, and it's like, we have to defeat this guy, he's a real threat to world peace.
He's the next Hitler.
And then Newsweek asks the ever popular question, with Pro and Con columns: Should we attack earlier -- or later?
Why not try all three? ++
Signs of the Times | February 20
Let's recap a few of the outer-world events of our so far very interesting year, which began with an exact Sun-Chiron conjunction, an aspect I'll come back to this week -- in a sense it holds the key to the question.
First a few points of background. Mesopotamia (now called Iraq) is known as the "cradle of civilization." Between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which run though the desert there, is a highly fertile basin of land where Sumerian civilization emerged about six thousand years ago. The Tigris runs straight through Baghdad. In this region, historians tell us, people developed such innovations as writing, agriculture and the recording of sales transactions, as well as double-entry accounting and recording the details of its advanced farming techniques that were passed onto the next generations. The Sumerians are also credited with the invention of the wheel, banking and the safe keeping of valuables in vaults. Long before Egypt, Greece and Rome, Sumerian culture flourished.
"The most famous Sumerian epic and the one that has survived in the most nearly complete form is the epic of Gilgamesh," writes Achilles.net, in its summary of that culture's history. "The story of Gilgamesh, who actually was king of the city-state of Uruk in approximately 2700 BC, is a moving story of the ruler's deep sorrow at the death of his friend Enkidu, and of his consequent search for immortality. Other central themes of the story are a devastating flood and the tenuous nature of man's existence, and ended by meeting a wise and ancient man who had survived a great flood by building an ark."
Then, last summer, America's appointed CEO and heir to a vast fortune amassed in a military investment bank called the Carlyle Group, stepped up plans to bomb modern Mesopotamia back to pre-history (for the second time in 12 years). As the first anniversary of September 11 came and passed, and people around the world mourned the darkest day in modern American history, the CEO attempted to cash in on the grief and fear of the world in an effort to mount a "pre-emptive" war against a country that had not provoked an attack and where half the population is under the age of 15.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, who supervised the previous full-scale bombing of Mesopotamia, urged that the matter be brought before the United Nations. About two months later, on Nov. 8, Security Council Resolution 1441 was adopted. United Nations notes explain its purpose: "Such a resolution would reinforce the mandate of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors so as to ensure that the inspections are credible and to dispel doubts about possible prohibited weapons programmes." Weapons inspectors went to work. War bluster blew from the mouths of the non-elected CEO and his minions, through the commercial media network, on a continuous basis. The purpose of the United States government became the bombing of Iraq.
In early January, George Ryan, the Pisces Republican governor of Illinois, granted executive clemency to 167 people condemned to die by state homicide, sparing their lives. This came after more people were freed from death row as innocent (13) than were executed (12). Ryan the prior week also pardoned four death row inmates who were falsely convicted after their "confessions" to crimes they did not commit were extracted by police torture. Discussion on the issue was so quiet you could hear a stalk of grass splash in a lake. The death penalty is one of the most important vote-garnering issues for the Republican party, of which the CEO is the ruling member.
War plans continued.
On February 1, at the New Moon, a US-owned space craft called Columbia, named for the supposed discoverer of the new world, broke up on re-entry to the atmosphere, over Texas, the CEO's home state, killing seven astronauts and grounding the entire Space Shuttle fleet. Debris was found just 75 miles from the CEO's personal ranch. War plans continued.
On February 14, two reports by UN weapons inspectors indicated that the process was moving forward. Countries refusing to back invasion plans included France, Germany, Belgium, Russia and China.
February 15 brought millions of people to the streets in coordinated peace protests in at least 602 cities. Nothing like this had ever happened. A peace movement that had been building since late last summer showed both its power and its international popularity. Many cities reported the largest crowds in history which, with the exception of New York City (where public officials denied a march permit and poured on thousands of police), were extraordinarily mellow.
The protests widened the first rift ever in the history of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. "Old European" countries like France and Germany were pitted against "New European" countries like Turkey and those of the former Eastern Block. American CEO Bush agrees that the weapons inspectors will have at least two more weeks but that the deadline for war would come "sooner rather than later." He says that he was not swayed by protests of the previous weekend. His popularity slips to a post 9-Eleven low.
At last report, plans for war were being held up by Turkey, which was demanding billions of dollars more in payoffs to host the war from airbases there.
* * *
The astrology behind world events is the same astrology that pushes us to grow, feel and evolve. It is the same astrology we look to for information about the changes we are experiencing in our individual lives. As always, when there are high-impact world events that reach massive populations, there is corresponding astrology that reaches us personally, directly, and seemingly from inside ourselves. It takes a lot of planets lining up to move the world, and when they start working together, they are working with extra force on our natal planets -- that is, the planets in our birth charts. So when world events heat up, our personal lives can begin developing at an unusual pace.
The combination of world crisis -- and these days, joined by a worldwide response to crisis -- and unexpected or shocking personal developments in our private lives can seem coincidental. It may seem like the events of the world are having some kind of direct impact on us, scattering our focus or creeping into our lives. On the simplest level, the powers that be are vying for your attention, affection and cash. There is a kind of war of the Titans that is fueled by the psychic energy of people, which is captured or collected places like the media or at a protest.
And then there is fear. A few people are pushing the world, that is, the world and all its living things, out to a brink of sanity and stability for their own private, greedy purposes. There are a lot of folks out there who are taking seriously the need to tape up and seal a room in their house, stocking up on batteries and candles. It may seem like it's just the frightening nature of the world situation, and all the instability we see, that's causing our inner turmoil.
Astrology's perspective is that the same energetic movements behind the scenes are making both the seemingly separate private and public worlds unfold at once. In reality it is all one world. That world exists, among other places, within individual perception, and its events are part of us even if we don't get the connection. Usually it even takes astrologers many years to see the contact points between personal and political reality, but it's just as plain to see any time you look.
I'll get into the specific long-term astrology of these events in the coming days, but for now I want to suggest that you spend as much time talking to people about the world situation as possible, including how it's affecting you personally, and whatever else may be going on for you personally. If there is a message to these events, it's that we need to come out of our shells and caves and cocoons. We need one another in order to feel safe being real. It may not feel safe to dare; it may seem like the more we raise our awareness or open up, the more fear and uncertainty we feel. The key is not experiencing it alone.
I think the metaphor of our government bombing the cradle of civilization is worth meditating on. Beyond political rhetoric and corporate greed, reaching into a time further back than our computers can accurately calculate the positions of planets, we share a common origin. Is the desire to destroy what is left of Iraq purely political and economic, or is there something deeper going on?
What's That Sound? | February 19
I arrived late for Saturday's protest at the Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle, with a friend who was in town visiting for the weekend. We parked and followed the crowd onto the campus of the city's enormous cultural center, then from there followed the thunder. I wound up face-to-face with a guy unexpectedly asking me for a press pass; I happened to have an ancient one, showed him and was escorted with my companion onto the press pavilion.
We were met with the stunning vision of 30,000 people packed into a vast center courtyard. I could not believe my eyes or my ears. I've been to lots of cool protests but had never seen or felt anything like it. It was like waking up from too-good-to-be-true dream and discovering it was real. People near me were just smiling at one another, dumbfounded. It was really true. I kept looking at my friend, and we just knew something really amazing was happening in the world. A change had come. I have asked the question so many times: When will people finally wake up? I had my answer -- right now.
Make no mistake: last weekend's worldwide protests against the Bush administration's planned escalation of bombing of Iraq create an enormous problem for our war-obsessed government. The main one being they now know people are not believing their lies. They now know people are not falling for their terrorist PR tactics -- for example, their nebulous Code Orange and statements like "we know something's going to happen but we don't know what." It is becoming extremely obvious that terrorist threats are being used by our own politicians purely as devices to manipulate people. Nixon would have been envious.
The Bush administration and the entire mainstream media establishment have the bullshit pumps going at full throttle, and despite this, people took over the streets in every major urban center in the Western world. There was no violence. There were remarkably few arrests. In reality the marches were so mellow and easygoing it makes you wonder how it is that our so-called leaders can't get along with anyone.
That the national capital of the peace movement was New York City, the target of the 9-Eleven massacre, was nothing short of beautiful. (That Mayor Bloomberg, the Bush administration and some dumb judge tried to stop the protest is perfectly shameful, but that's a rant of its own. Besides, it didn't work.) We had the true sense of standing in solidarity with people in every world capital, an estimated 602 cities around the world not counting places like Davenport, Iowa, which blew the cover on another Big Lie: that national (or more accurately, corporate) priorities somehow trump the fact that we live on our one World Earth.
That people braved freezing temperatures and rain and turned out by the millions gives us a lot of information. For sure, we know that many, many people are committed enough to do something about their opinions. In theory it takes a lot to get people off the couch. We have a sense of what it means for such-and-such a percentage of people being against the war means in tangible terms. We are reminded that the positions that governments take bear no resemblance to the feelings of the people they represent. In the supposedly pro-war countries there were the most enormous demonstrations: the UK, Spain and the United States. I have spent enough time around government officials to say confidently that makes them very, very nervous.
It helped that on Valentine's Day, France, a UN Security Council heavyweight (known as a permanent member, with veto power over any resolution) put its foot down, and two reports by UN weapons inspectors came up so far so good. The United States had nothing to go on, and incredulous newscasters had to report that simple fact. It was a religious moment. Isn't it nice that somebody with a little power objected to the notion of a preemptive death campaign against a country half-populated by children under 15 years old? Preempting what?
If we recall -- it's been a while -- that the week prior, a tape of Osama bin Laden's voice summoning the Jihad mysteriously appeared in the middle of Code Orange, wherein the Department of Homeland Security decided we all had to be one level more paranoid. Why are Osama's (supposed) appearances so conveniently timed?
Millions of people taking to the streets around the world makes the nasty game of taking control by spreading fear a lot more difficult. You can attack people psychically only when they are frightened. Yet there is only so scared you can be when you're parading through your downtown area with marching bands, dogs, kids, Radical Grandmas for Peace, Veterans for Peace, anarchists, hippies, acrobats, neighborhood organizations, people giving out candy, moms and dads, your local political leaders, and a whole mess of people carrying huge puppets mocking out the alleged president. Code Orange. I mean really.
The media has a similar problem on its hands. Protesters (most of whom were not really protesters at all, just people who showed up for their very first peace demonstration, with kids, neighbors and pups in tow) are their viewers, readers and the customers of their advertisers. Reporters know they are merely parroting government spokesmen and press releases on the nightly news, and they know they're not even familiar with their own clippings files. The media is nothing more than an echo chamber where a version of the story is repeatedly broadcast at full volume, and that reverberates back to editors, politicians and pollsters as "public opinion." Now something different was bouncing through the hills. A war for oil? The United States is the real terrorist threat? Regime change begins at home?
Where the heck did people hear that stuff? Well, not on CNN. Most of us found out about the coordinated protests by way of the insidious menace known as the Internet. We got the word in virtual reality, but nobody could deny that those mobs filled those streets. New York, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, San Francisco, Paris, Seattle, it was the same scene. And this, before the attack on the people of Iraq had officially begun.
We have waited a long, long time for this day, and many people have worked very hard to make it real. It did not happen by accident. We created it. We created it with our thoughts, with our decision to rise above ignorance and boredom, with our emails to friends, and by walking out the door and heading downtown. Cops in cities said they experienced the largest demonstrations in their city's history. After a century of nonstop war, it's about time.
It actually takes very little activism to tip the balance on an important issue. The "status quo" is not as stable as many people would like us to think. Right now the proposed genocide on Iraq is a house of cards. Politicians may play it cool and pretend not to notice. They can get on TV with their shifty eyes and threats of violence and make endless rationalizations for what they are going to do. But they know what they're doing, and they only feel really safe going ahead when they are certain that people are fooled. Guess what.
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