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Eric Francis

 by Eric Francis | Aries Daily Edition

Above, Buddha Soldiers by Via Keller - Studio Psycherotica

Most Recent Daily Editions | Earlier Daily Editions from 2003

Alternate news links are just below, and also to the left.

Taking a Ride on Mars Conjunct Chiron |
Friday, March 28

What do the worst disasters of the Vietnam War, the downfall of a hawk president and the resignation of his distinguished, long-time secretary of defense all have in common? The answer is Mars conjunct Chiron.

The Mars-Chiron conjunction happens once every two years. On April 1, on the day of the Aries new moon, we will experience the first such conjunction since Chiron entered Capricorn 16 months ago. It is happening at a time when the United States is plunging toward the most serious on-the-ground battle in numerous generations, what will be preserved in history as the Battle for Baghdad.

When considering astrology from a historical standpoint, or even a personal one, remember that while cycles repeat themselves, they always do it in different ways and in different contexts. As the years progress, conjunctions happen in different signs and thus express themselves different ways. Outer planets are moving, and defining themes of long cycles in history. The galaxy is swirling and nothing is really the same. The one true hope that astrology offers is that an evolutionary process is in motion, for each of us and for all of us. Certain people are going to try to repeat cycles in old ways, and others in new ways. The choice remains open.

In the collective world, the Chiron in Capricorn era (which began in December 2001) has been marked by scandals in church, government and major corporations. We have seen numerous post 9-Eleven crackdowns on civil liberties, the Patriot Act and the proposed Patriot Act II. We've witnessed the conquering of Afghanistan, and the bombing and invasion of Iraq. We've also seen the emergence of vibrant global anti-war and pro-peace movements. While this may look like an even split between the good and the bad, remember that the United States is always bombing someone. Now there is vocal resistance, including from many foreign nations. And there are always ugly events going on down in the corporate bowels, and sick laws being passed by smiling tyrants. Now we're starting to find out about some of them.

Chiron moving through any sign brings what's already there to light. Capricorn, in the collective sense, is the sign of corporations, government and religious institutions. Raising awareness is how most of its effect as an agent of healing is manifested. Chiron's presence makes the impersonal very personal, emphasizing our individual relationship with these institutions, which function as the rough equivalent of our parents in our adult lives. While it may not be clear quite yet, we're in the process of redefining our relationships to the parental institutions that dominate our lives. John Lennon said that we shouldn't blame the institution, we should free our minds instead. But if our minds are bound, they are bound in a relationship, and getting clear about that relationship is what Chiron in Capricorn is about.

Within our private lives, we may also be seeing this theme appear as issues with our parents and partners that have reached an impasse, showdown or point of urgently demanding resolution. These needs may have existed for quite a while but which suddenly 'appear out of nowhere' or flare up due to the addition of Mars.

As it works out, the coming Mars-Chiron conjunction falls the same day as the Aries new moon. Auspicious? Well, some people like their music loud. Some results of this conjunction, which happens once every two years, will show up immediately, and more of them will appear around the time of the next full moon, in Libra on April 16. The coming full moon is vibrating with the feeling of being a significant turning point in both personal and world history. Part of this turning point involves Governor Bush's natal chart, which is getting its rafters rattled on that full moon. And part of it involves what is perhaps the single most important chart presaging the Sept. 11 attacks, which is under transits eerily suggesting that we have not gotten to the bottom of that incident.

But most disturbing is that this astrology coincides with the probable date range of the Battle for Baghdad, words that already ring with infamy.

Taking it Personally

The cover story of Time magazine from Dec. 30, 2002 tells us something about the first year of Chiron in Capricorn: the Persons of the Year were Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom, Coleen Rowley of the FBI, and Sherron Watkins of Enron. All three women are what's known as whistle-blowers: people who decide that the truth is more important than their personal reputation or livelihood. They see something wrong, it affects them as a person, and they take action. Cooper and Watkins blew the whistle on financial scandals within their companies. Rowley is at the center of what's known for sure about the fact that the U.S. government was warned of 9-Eleven scenarios long before Sept. 11, 2001. What the government really knew in advance of Sept. 11 is critical because the events of that day opened the door of everything else that followed, including the war on Iraq.

Consider these women, working their straight jobs and being part of the system and supporting their families working long-term career tracks -- all Capricorn enough themes.

Now add Chiron, raising awareness within the system. "I feel at this point that I have to put my concerns in writing concerning the important topic of the FBI's response to evidence of terrorist activity in the United States prior to September 11th," Rowley wrote in her now famous memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller. "These issues are fundamentally ones of INTEGRITY and go to the heart of the FBI's law enforcement mission and mandate." She said it was of "absolute importance that an unbiased, completely accurate picture emerge of the FBI's current investigative and management strengths and failures."

Rowley, personally embodying the maverick attitude so well demonstrated by all things Chiron, could have been writing a textbook entry on the planet. Integrity (which means integration), objectivity, accuracy, responsibility -- all documented in writing, via her memo -- are at the essence of Chiron's meaning and purpose. Acting as Chiron in Capricorn, she embodied the person who raises awareness within an institution. And then she felt the wrath of Capricorn come back at her. She was called a traitor, compared to a spy, and made an outcast. But the point was made: the FBI knew or should have known. It is now documented in history that the U.S. was warned.

Add Mars to this equation and you get power, speed and a cutting edge. Mars adds drive, desire, and some kind of incident or event. Mars is a personal planet and makes the transit of Chiron very personal.

Of Bullies and Underdogs

Dale O'Brien is a Eugene, Oregon-based astrologer who has studied Chiron in the charts of 2,500 individuals, and has lectured and taught about the new planet since the early 1980s. He offered Planet Waves readers his take on the Mars-Chiron combination.

"A significant issue would be being a bully, or being bullied. Psychologists have done these studies in which the abused tends to become the abuser. So whenever I see Mars-Chiron in any aspect, I look for that as a potential issue."

He likened it to the story of the Karate Kid in which someone who was threatened by bullies takes up a means of acquiring power and discipline and learns how to take care of himself. He takes the martial power of Mars and adds the precision and artistry of Chiron.

"With Mars-Chiron, one does not win by overwhelming force. It is not like Mars-Pluto or Mars-Saturn. It's associated with what would be called guerilla warfare. During the American revolution, the British and the other European soldiers would go out marching in a square. They would stand in a square and shoot at each other in a square, like Saturn. And what happened in the American revolution is that the Americans would stand on the edge of the woods and from behind trees and stand at the British standing in their red coats. And they would say, 'That's not fair'.

"They weren't behaving like human beings in war, they were using their animal instincts." Chiron, as a Centaur, is half-human and half-animal; he is fully connected to his animal side. As such, Chiron and all the Centaurs represent something that is, in a sense, super-human: we're animals. We may speak and play musical instruments and do surgery on one another, but we're animals, too. Is it any wonder that Centaur planets are not especially welcome in the cerebral, Greek-dominated world of astrology?

Under the influence of Mars-Chiron, says O'Brien, "The advantage is often for the underdog. He explained that the U.S. recently dropped numerous pamphlets in Iraq about how to surrender. And then what happened is that the Iraqis read the pamphlets and in an incident last week, came out looking like they were surrendering, and caught the American military off guard. 'Oh, we figured you were either fighting or surrendering'. And now the Americans are saying, 'This is totally unfair, you guys are not fighting fair'. The American position is that they're just supposed to stand there in their underwhelming numbers and their underarmed capacity and get the snot beaten out of them. So that issue is up, big time."

O'Brien said there's a sense that America was bullied by 9-Eleven, taking the mentality, "You hurt us, so we're going to hurt you back. You and I know and the rest of the world outside the United States knows that it wasn't Iraq that did 9-Eleven. But nonetheless, on a raw psyche level, the masculine psyche of the country has been wounded."

He said the aspect could be likened to "Underestimating one's enemy militarily." He encouraged me to dig up the history of the peak years of the Vietnam war as told by Mars-Chiron conjunctions. The three dates that came up were Feb. 13, 1968, Jan. 29, 1972, and July 24, 1973.

There's a LOT of history in those dates. As a point of background, at that point the Vietnam war had become the longest running war in the history of this country, and over 30,000 Americans had died. Lynden B. Johnson, a Democrat, was president, and it was pretty much his war. He had inherited it from Eisenhower and Kennedy, but Kennedy was in the process of withdrawing troops at the time of his death. Under Johnson, the war escalated greatly. But the Americans were bogged down in what was clearly becoming a no-win situation where everyone was losing.

Mars-Chiron Conjunction and the Tet Offensive

The weeks surrounding the Mars-Chiron conjunction of Feb. 13, 1968 (in Aries) saw something called the Tet Offensive. This was a campaign by the North Vietnamese waged during the time of Tet, the New Year, which is normally a time of truce.

Some references below come from a timeline at: http://www.landscaper.net/timelin.htm

"Communist plans called for violent, widespread, simultaneous military actions in rural and urban areas throughout the South -- a general offensive. But as always, military action was subordinate to a larger political goal. By focusing attacks on South Vietnamese units and facilities, Hanoi [the Communist capital] sought to undermine the morale and will of Saigon's forces [the southern capital, and purported US ally]. Through a collapse of military resistance, the North Vietnamese hoped to subvert public confidence in the government's ability to provide security, triggering a crescendo of popular protest to halt the fighting and force a political accommodation. In short, they aimed at a general uprising by the South Vietnamese."

The offensive didn't work so well. While those days of January and February 1968 saw some of the most intense combat of the whole 25-year Vietnam experience, the rebellions were put down in a few days. But there was a twist: it was a shocking PR victory for the North Vietnamese. The north lost in military terms, but won in PR terms.

"Americans at home saw a different picture. Dramatic images of the Viet Cong storming the American Embassy in the heart of Saigon and the North Vietnamese Army clinging tenaciously to [the city of] Hue obscured the assertion that the enemy had been defeated. With almost a half-million U.S. troops already in Vietnam, doubts on the conduct of the war prompted a reassessment of American policy and strategy." To say the least.

The Defense Department called for deployment of nearly 60,000 more troops, reservists and former servicemen, which Johnson put into perpetual "government study" mode.

On February 8, 1968, three college students involved in a civil rights protest against a whites-only bowling alley were killed in confrontation with highway patrolmen in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy said that the U.S. could not win the Vietnam War. February 18, 1968. 10,000 in West Berlin demonstrate against the war.

On February 29, 1968, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, one of the great hawks of his day -- comparable to Donald Rumsfeld -- resigned after concluding that the U.S. could not win the Vietnam War.

This was followed by the My Lai incident of March 16, 1968, which involved the infamous Charlie Company raping and massacring women and children in a Vietnamese village while superior officers hovered overhead in helicopters. This incident was later exposed by investigative journalist Seymour Hersch, and became one of the great symbols of the atrocity of the war.

More about this incident is at: http://www.dreamscape.com/morgana/mylai.htm

On March 31, 1968. President Johnson announced a virtual halt to all bombing of North Vietnam in a unilateral gesture of peace; discusses Vietnam in a speech for nearly 40 minutes, then announces "I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

But there was a backlash. The year 1968 also brought the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, both dedicated to ending the Vietnam War. And then there was the Democratic National Convention of August 1968, where the Chicago 7 protest organizers were charged with inciting riots. Protestors rioted in the face of 12,000 police, 7,500 Army troops and 6,000 National Guardsmen. They were later cleared of most of the charges after a stunning, hilarious fiasco of a federal trial.

Bombing of Cambodia: Tin Soldiers and Nixons Coming

On January 29, 1970, there was a Mars-Chiron conjunction in Aries. This was two full years after the disaster of Tet, and the downfall of McNamara and Johnson over the war. Vietnam had been inherited by President Nixon, who decided to drag it out as long as possible, and expand it into other parts of southeast Asia. Nixon at this time was secretly bombing Cambodia. While the effects of the conjunction did not play themselves out on the world stage until about 14 weeks later, it heralded yet another of the most important turning points in the history of the war and the social history of the era.

In Late April, Nixon got on television and announced that he had been secretly bombing Cambodia, Vietnam's neighbor. (This was the beginning of a campaign of genocide against the Cambodian people that lasted through the 1970s, initiated by the U.S. and continued by the Khmer Rouge, one of the most vicious regimes in world history in terms of the sheer number of people exterminated. This is copiously documented in the video Manufacturing Consent.)

Instantly, the anti-war movement reacted in a national uprising. The protests were so fierce that fully one-third of the campuses in the U.S. were closed before finals, or the administration seriously considered doing so. It was in this week that National Guardsmen shot four by-passers at Kent State University in Ohio, and students were shot at and/or killed at other campuses as well, including Jackson State and the State University of New York at Buffalo. In Buffalo, the campus was shut down by the president and students were sent home without academic penalty.

Mars-Chiron Conjunction of January 1972

After the Mars-Chiron conjunction of early 1972, the North Vietnamese Easter offensive began. According to Landscapper.net's timeline, "Total U.S. military strength in South Vietnam was about 95,000, of which only 6,000 were combat troops, and the task of countering the offensive on the ground fell almost exclusively to the South Vietnamese. Attacking on three fronts, the North Vietnamese Army poured across the demilitarized zone and out of Laos to capture Quang Tri, South Vietnam's northernmost province. In the Central Highlands, enemy units moved into Kontum Province."

Hubert Humphrey went on the offensive against Nixon, "saying that it was taking longer for President Nixon to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam than it did to defeat Hitler," according to Landscaper.net's timeline.

"Humphrey called for an immediate end to the war, declaring: 'Had I been elected, we would now be out of that war'." ++

I'd Like to Thank the Vatican... | Thursday, March 27

I'm going to take the day off from blogging and pass the torch to my esteemed colleague Michael Moore, who has written this piece in the LA Times.

One Question, One Answer | Wednesday, March 26

First a question, from Via, the artist of the piece above. Why isn't this front page news? (See link.) This is a March 17 letter from Henry Waxman, the great congressman from California, to Governor Bush, questioning why he seems to have repeatedly lied about 'knowledge' and falsified 'intelligence reports' that Iraq was developing a nuclear program. This is not, by the way, the first time forged documents have been used in support of this war. I'll look at another tomorrow.

But it's going to be difficult to match this one, which includes blatant lies told in the State of the Union address.

People have been making the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam lately, saying that the U.S. is 'making the same mistake'. My take is that this is no mistake. This war is intentionally another Vietnam -- an effort by the administration to entrench the country and the world in another war that goes on and on, and which defense contractors, banks and oil companies profit from ad infinitum. Lest we forget, Iraq is the second country in that region of the world being conquered under Bush, and his list of places to topple includes China.

Second, this quote has been circulating around the Internet, spoken by Hermann Goering, one of the top dogs of the Nazi regime, at his trial after the end of World War II.

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the country's leaders who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to greater danger."

Alternative Media

There would not be a war in Iraq today if the United States media were not a functioning subsidiary of the military and corporate establishment. This is one of the easiest points to illustrate, but if you're curious or pissed off, rent a DVD or video called Manufacturing Consent, about the life work of Noam Chomsky. If you are a member of the professional media, I highly recommend this documentary so that you get a workable perspective on just what it is you do every day.

We are fortunate to have the Internet and are in what promises to be the Net's finest hour. The truth is easy to find, if you look for it for about 10 minutes. Here are a few good places to start:

The Manchester Guardian for actual news and commentary the way it should be, from Manchester UK.

Znet is the web headquarters of the hardcore truth-in-politics information movement. Lots of Noam Chomskly's work appears here.

LegitGov.org is an excellent daily compendium of news we need to hear, collected from news sites all over. Very dedicated site mistress,in the person of Lori Price, although she is given to editorialize in the headlines.

BlueWorld.org, web page of Vision List member Lise LePage, she writes, "this site has pages for most of the countries of the world, with constantly updated headlines for each country (also maps of the countries, descriptions, flags, stats, even a picture if I could find one...Sorted by region so you can bounce around an area or skip to a new region... nice all around world news source, if I do say so myself.

Another excellent UK source is The Independent with a writer named Robert Fisk, who has been covering the Middle East brilliantly and honestly for decades. For example, this.

Then of course there is always The Onion.

I don't have time to add the links here, but look up and to the left and you'll see a list of some of my favorite real-news links. Please send in your favorites -- send to eric@ericfrancis.com.

Back in a bit.

Pro-War Dream | Tuesday, March 25

Saturday night after the Seattle peace march and Audio Slave, I passed out in my car on the ferry. I might have stayed awake but I showed up at the dock during a 90-minute break in the schedule, and it was awfully late. All those cops and all that music and being up past bedtime had me plum tuckered out. When we arrived on Vashon Island, I made it as far as the commuter lot and decided to sleep for a while. When I woke up two hours later, I discovered I had left my headlights on. The car would not start; and for some unknown technological reason unrelated to Mercury retrograde, which is not happening, the radio had permanently switched to AM. After becoming remotely coherent and (first priority) trying to switch the radio back to FM, I called AAA and waited, listening to a station called KVI. All I knew about KVI before that moment was that their rather large transmission tower is located on a nice beach on Vashon which they supposedly 'own', and which the public is allowed to walk around on.

Well, there's more to KVI than KVI Beach. I don't plan on having an astrology program on the station any time soon. There was this announcer, John Carlson, very enthusiastic guy, reporting from a parking lot in a little boomtown called Bellevue (Microsoft Execuland) and he was very excited because everyone was coming out in favor of the war. It was a pro-war rally. Sponsored by the station, which had also raised $160,000 for the pro-war movement in a telethon recently and had printed up signs saying Support Our Troops and these were the hottest item going, for $5 each. Everyone was there -- all kinds of kids and moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and people were honking their horns as they drove by! It was so beautiful, it was the real America, it was the true spirit of freedom, so much so that Mr. Carlson was practically in tears. He kept using the word exuberant. Like there was no other word to describe this feeling running through his his body for the first time. He kept using it every other sentence.

Kids and dogs and honking horns and it's a really, really good time. People are just exuberant! Then it started raining. He hesitated. But suddenly he realized it was only getting more exuberant because of the rain! He ran with the tangent. "It's unbelievable! The rain is raining exuberance on people! They're using their shiny KVI Support Our Troops signs as umbrellas, which are waterproof, but they're even happier than they were a minute ago! The rain is helping! Horns are honking and it's so great, it's just beautiful. Exuberant!"

Uncontrollable paroxysms of glee. The dude was spazzing. He was so excited. He was part of the war effort. He was involved.

Then I realized it was 3 a.m. It was very quiet on Vashon and it must have been pretty quiet in Bellevue, way out on the East Side, because in my experience it's pretty quiet in downtown Seattle at this hour and on Capital Hill and in every other city neighborhood. There could not be all this fuss at 3 a.m. in Bellevue. It must be a re-run. When Carlson started taking live callers, I dialed my cellphone and there was no answer (too bad, I had plans, you see). The local towing company arrived, they plugged my Buick into a side panel of their truck, and it turned over, passed the charging-up meter test, thumbs up, thanks for showing up in the middle of the night, no sweat it's been really nuts tonight, sign here. The guy's wife was riding shotgun, moving the paperwork along, extremely effecient. I drove home listening, fascinated, my radio still stuck on AM.

One caller, a woman, was very upset about the anti-war protests. She thanked the riot cops for their patience and reserve with protesters and said she didn't know how they did it -- keeping their patience with those people. She said that if she were a riot cop she would break the kneecaps of anti-war protesters.

Another caller wanted to point out the two differences he had noticed between the anti-war protests and the pro-war protests. First of all, he had noticed that they need all those cops at anti-war protests -- he, too, had noticed the countless throngs of riot police; it wasn't just me. At pro-war protests, they need just one or two cops. But at anti-war protests they need hundreds of cops. Second, he noticed that at the anti-war protests, hardly anyone honks their car horn when they drive by. But at the pro-war protest, everyone honks their horn! Thousands of motorists are in solidarity with the pro-war movement!

Bush War II began so long ago I barely remember it. Let's see -- it was last week, I think. In my vague recollection from before the war began, there wasn't a pro-war movement. There was just the government, oops, I mean the governor, trying to have a war, and a vast, global anti-war movement. Before the war started, if you were a newspaper, you had to say there were protests in New York and San Francisco and Atlanta, and also in London, Rome and Paris. Now, with Support Our Troops rallies springing up all over, such as in Bellevue and on Air Force bases, a newspaper can print two photos and can say, "There were anti-war protests, and there were pro-war protests this weekend."

That's called balanced journalism. You give both sides of the story!

Well, we've come a long way since Bush War I, when there was just one big pro-war movement and CNN having an orgy. I even had these trading cards featuring soldiers and equipment and countries printed up by the same people who make the really nice football cards. There were cards for Dick Cheney and Colin Powell and President Bush and Saddam Hussein. I remember being bummed out that they didn't come with gum. I had the whole set -- free to the press, complete with an inch-thick stack of other articles written about them.

PS - Minimum Lethal Force from the London Daily Mirror, sent in by my comrade over in the Numerology Department, Christine Delorey.

PPS - Thank you Michael Moore. That was hot.

U-S-A! Kimberly Waldron, Kimberly Weaver and Ginny Witherspoon join the "Let Freedom Ring Rally for America" March 20 in Savannah, Ga. All three are wives of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq who are drowning their fear of personal loss with the drug of patriotism. According to press reports, approximately 1,500 people came to show support of local troops from Fort Stewart, Ga., the base of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, part of a 'pro-war' movement that exists largely as a figment of the media's imagination. Photo, Stephen Morton, Getty Images.

Peace March | Monday, March 24

Before leaving the house yesterday for the Seattle peace rally, I put on my press and guest tags from Millions for Mumia, the April 24, 2000 protest in Philadelphia on the birthday of Mumia Abu Jamal, the black journalist on death row after being framed for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer. Usually they hang on a peg in my bedroom, next to my Jerry Garcia designer necktie. I'm not much the good luck charm type. Wearing them under my jacket was a touch of nostalgia for one of the hottest human rights demonstrations I've ever been part of, and a reminder to myself about being in solidarity with my brother reporter Mumia as I physically stepped into the movement against the war.

After taking the ferry to the mainland, I discovered that the highway leading directly to downtown was closed for 'seismic testing'. I am pro earthquake safety. My expedition through the streets went well, considering I live on an island that makes Nantucket seem like an urban center.

When I arrived at the Federal Building, I was surprised at how small the rally was. There were about 500 people on a little plaza, nothing like the 25,000 at the Seattle Center of a month ago. It was clear that less than one week into the massacre on the people of Iraq, television had set in. With all those cool missile attacks on Baghdad, who needs coverage of the peace movement or the complicated business and political issues surrounding this invasion? Battle seems so necessary when you're fighting it. My friend Gail was there holding an Earth flag on the curb along 1st Ave. I said hello, then disappeared to eat my falafel, and took in the scene over lunch. It was not what you would describe as apathy. I decided that a small, impassioned antiwar protest on a Saturday afternoon is a lot more interesting than going to the supermarket and trying to remember if I need paper towels.

The emcee announced that there was a speaker's list forming, and I figured what the heck, I'll talk. I signed up, and while I was standing there waiting to go on, next to me was Tom Morello of Audio Slave, the former guitarist for Rage Against the Machine. I interviewed him in 1999 before Rage's benefit at Brendan Byrne Arena, then met him at the news conference the night of the show. A benefit for a 'cop killer' was big news. There were about 25 television camears lining the back and sides of the room that day. I knew Rage had disbanded in 2000 but had no idea what he was up to. I introduced myself and reminded him of our interview.

"So how about that Tom Ridge?" I asked -- Mr. Terror Alert System, the former Pennsylvania governor, who is the most recent guy to sign a death warrant for Mumia. We caught up on the case: Ridge's death warrant was stayed by a federal judge, after the same judge threw out the penalty phase of Mumia's trial because of bad jury instructions by the trial judge. But Mumia is still on death row because the prosecution filed an appeal, knowing full well it would never actually dare to win the appeal because that would require a re-do on the penalty phase of the trial -- as terrifying to the prosecutors as doing the whole trial over. The state's case is such a disaster of conflicting fabrications that they would never want the facts and witnesses to end up in open court again. Talk about 25 TV cameras. So the situation is just going to sit there, sand bagged as they say, but we can be pretty sure Mumia won't ever be executed.

Morello and the former Rage Against the Machine have been among the most devoted and consistent supporters of Mumia, not only playing numerous benefits over the years, but also serving as highly articulate spokesmen for his cause and educating hundreds of thousands of their fans about the issue. And they have set the example that it's okay to speak up. I've always admired them for their no-holds barred, high-quality art-as-activism, and their commitment to such crucial issues as Mumia and the death penalty. No matter how socially responsible and spiritually grounded it is to be against the death penalty, it's an extremely unpopular cause amongst some pretty scary people.

"What's your new band?"

"Audio Slave."

"Show sold out?"


"Any press comps available?" It never hurts to ask is part of my religion.

"I'll see. Give me your phone number, if someone calls you, you're on the list." I scribbled my cell number on a Planet Waves card and passed it to him.

"Hey, do you mind if I speak before you?" he asked. "I've got to make it to sound check on time."

"Not a problem."

"Are you sure?"

"I'll put it on my resume."

And so it was, after a long and extremely exciting and informative day of rallying and peace marching through the streets of downtown Seattle in the company of more than enough city, state, county, federal and local police from every town in the region to invate a small Middle Eastern country, all in full riot regalia equipped with wands, tear gas, pistols, shotguns, horses, bicycles, paddy wagons, knee pads, shin guards and thousands of plastic handcuff strips, I was treated to one of the unbelievably hottest nights of rock music I've encountered in a long time, as a guest of the wildly talented guitarist who happens to be one of my political heroes. Anyone who knows Audio Slave knows what I'm talking about -- I had no clue, okay, I had a clue in the form of Rage Against the Machine. But I did not know Morello now plays with former Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell, and that this was the last night of the tour. On Morello's amp, nice and high so everyone could see it, was taped a large, hand-written oaktag sign that askd, "How many Iraqis per gallon?" He is not one to leave you wondering about his opinion on important world issues.

A little while after I gave my rather calm and reasonably well-informed rant, about media activism and devoting oneself to the long, at times frightening, boring and frustrating process of rising above the programmed ignorance of education and television, the rally began mobilizing into a march. It was time to take the talk out for a walk. The emcee made everyone repeat a kind of pledge which involved stating that they knew that there was no march permit, that stepping from the sidewalk into the street at the wrong moment could result in arrest for 'j-walking', that tear gas might be used, and so on.

The streets were now filling up with imperial stormtroopers, reminiscent of the famed Battle in Seattle of November 1999. About fifty of the Sheriff's deputies, with ballistic-proof padding on their chests that gave them the robo-cop look, and equipped with nifty Prosecutor 24 fiberglass riot sticks (the kind with little handles) in their gloved hands, and helmets and face shields, had seized 1st Ave, and were holding a battle line against a bunch of peaceniks armed with spring water, children and wool mittens.

First I noticed that the traffic had stopped, then I saw these rather impressive cops jogging into formation at approximately the same rate they were getting paid, time-and-a-half. I looked at their faces, applying my newly acquired skills as a Hakomi therapy student. To say they were contemptuous would be kind. But what could they possibly be angry about? Hmm, these people are here to intimidate me, I thought. Then I visited with some dogs and offered my sympathy for how noisy it was. To relate to a dog in a crowd you have to be really calm, which is the way you need to be anyway, and it's instant good vibes. Most dogs in such situations really seem to like it when anyone approaches them gently and lovingly.

I was not planning on marching, but then two things happened. First I saw my friend Constance in the crowd, and second, as we were saying hello, the Infernal Noise Brigade came by, leading the march into the downtown area with its drums, plastic buckets doubling as drums, cymbals, flags and its signature art piece, a shopping cart adorned with several huge curved mirrors, with its members doing their mock-majorette thing, in old marching band uniforms, creating enough sound to mess with the seismic testing going on under the nearby expressway.

The Infernal Noise Brigade conveys the oddest mix of utterly serious and totally kidding, filling the atmosphere with the unmistakable feeling that everything is cool. We followed. Later I had an insight into just how much guts it takes to do that, to walk past these heavily armed officers who are there to prevent everyone from exercising their right to peaceful protest against the government. Interesting that there are next to no cops sent to 'pro-war' rallies; you have a right to express your views as long as you support the government.

I estimated the later crowd at about a thousand -- for once the newspapers said it was bigger than I guessed, 1,200. But the number of police was comparable, about 300 or more. One cop armed to the teeth for every four groovy peace marchers. As the crowd moved through downtown, a series of divide and conquer maneuvers split the protestors into four groups [details at Seattle Indymedia]. Platoons of officers did their whole paramilitary thing, atten-hutting and right-facing and forward-marching in embarrassingly sloppy formation with their grim expressions. There were 18 arrests Saturday, mostly for the alleged traffic infraction of j-walking. My friend Gail saw someone get their face beaten bloody by several riot cops after stepping into a crosswalk after the light had turned green. What's the world coming to? You don't even break the rules and they beat you senseless. The Sunday papers ignored it; the editor I spoke to wasn't interested.

Some of us are wondering: how far are they going to go with this?

What is next?

Above, protest this week in Times Square. Photo courtesy New York Indymedia.

Vision List Posts | March 21

Pam wrote - "I think it has more to do with the distance. So many people have a numb psyche as it is and the media just glamorizes the onslaught."


I agree that it has to do with distance. The promotion of terrorism at home, as well as the "axis of evil" moralistic brainwashing, is done to promote separation. Forcing sides effectively prohibits empathy or any feeling of connection. I think it is this emotional and spiritual distance, more than a physical distance, that initiates and allows violence. And I think that it is just as true at the personal level as at the national.The fact that it is so easily done at the national level is a reflection of an epidemic failure of relationship at almost every level of our culture.

We are, however, at an evolutionary threshold, and it is evidenced by the peace movement. I think it is starting to go beyond ideas of what is theoretically right or wrong. Some people are starting to feel connection at a more universal level, even if they don't realize exactly what is happening yet. Maybe it's the development of some sort of ethical synapse.

In my opinion, it starts to happen when we decide to relate from what connects us, a shared or common purpose, rather than what separates us, our agendas. Evolution is at the purpose level; political/power dynamics are at the agenda level. Evolution is the harder choice, and it is usually not supported, at first, by the "tribe".


PS The blossoms on my peach tree are fragile, delicate pink buds, and the air smells like cedar and wet earth. It's incredibly erotic.

Buddha Mind by Via Keller | Studio Psycherotia

Off to See the Wizard | March 20, 2003

War was launched at 9:45 ET last night on the Iraqi people, and a second military campaign was commenced half an hour later, on the people of the world. There are two wars in this equation. One is a war being waged with cruise missiles, and the other with television.

I don't have a cable video feed into my home. I watched Bush's speech on a sputtering stream that, in between frequent stalls to reload the buffer, was for some reason running at 28.8 Baud. The four-inch image and the audio were serious low-resolution, fuzzy and echoy, minus the vividness and glamour that can make TV so shocking and convincing. Every time the presentation stopped, I could pause and think about what I was seeing. The blur and the distorted audio, strangely, worked like an enhancing filter. Looking at the tiny screen I felt like I was staring down the wrong end of binoculars but seeing everything much more clearly. It was real; it was not.

I heard someone who resembled the self-acclaimed president speaking in his most measured voice ever, with his tongue smoothed and polished, his words like silver, and his eyes looking like two little holes. He spoke gently of his compassion and his desire for peace and healing, then would freeze mid-frame as I would mediate on the still image. He spoke, in even tones and carefully paced language, of the many friends who were supporting our great nation in our time of need, in this necessary struggle against a common enemy. He promised, in his kindly and fatherly way, democracy and freedom for the people of Iraq. He reminded us how a terrible villain was a threat to peace. All as sirens wailed and his cruise missiles and cluster bombs pounded hellfire upon a civilian population, people just like your kids and your neighbors and yourself.

If we play the entire history of the Bush administration in fast-forward, we see a sequence of events starting with the outright theft of an election. Bush lost the popular vote and cheated in Florida. A moment later arrived the Sept. 11 attacks, followed by mysterious and unsolved anthrax incidents directed at certain key federal legislators, the Supreme Court and specific members of the media. After shutting down newsrooms, congressional offices, the court building and making everyone freak out about their mail, there was a war against Afghanistan launched on the pretense of fighting terrorism. But the important terrorist got loose while the way was opened for the long-planned Unocal oil pipeline with which the Taliban (the old Afghani government) was not cooperating. These developments came with the imposition of the Patriot Act and the Terror Alert system. Under this system, Red Alert is functionally martial law. (Recent news reports say that it's like a snow storm -- you stay home from work. Under Red Alert, anyone outside their house can be presumed to be the enemy.)

Next, we either learned and quickly forgot, or never heard, that the federal government was repeatedly warned about the possibility of just such an attack as happened on Sept. 11, by governments considered both friends and enemies. We forgot or never heard, as well, that Florida's Governor Jeb Bush, the president's brother, had issued an ominous executive order relating to terrorist attacks, merging the police and National Guard into one entity in the event of an emergency, on the Friday before Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Through this time, the fear of terrorism -- manufactured pumped out in a steady stream by the Department of Homeland Security and the television news conglomerate -- became the excuse to do anything and everything, to declare anyone an enemy, and to spy on any person or organization. We were told that wire taps, secret arrests and military tribunals were going to make us safer.

Near the anniversary of Sept. 11, the administration ramped up its push to go to war with Iraq, and over the next six months, lost most of its allies, ignored the United Nations, and pretended that UN weapons inspections were not working. It was revealed that various documents being used to convince the world of Iraq's danger were falsified. We learned that the US and UK sold Iraq most of its weapons. Valentine's Day weekend, worldwide protests erupted. They, too, were ignored by leaders of the US and UK in the single-minded push for war. The terror alert was raised to Orange, then lowered to Yellow only so that it could be raised back to Orange again.

Speaking at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland this week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia informed the public that civil rights would be scaled back as part of the war effort. "The Constitution just sets minimums," he said. "Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires." He did not say what rights he was talking about. He did not mention that under executive order, numerous plans are in place to suspend the constitution entirely in a state of emergency.

Many people believe this is all for their own good. It's likely they would be saying the same thing as they were herded into football stadiums put to use as detention centers.

Who is the enemy? Would it take Jefferson or Franklin to see that we are moving toward tyranny, and are at best out in the parking lot? It takes a man named Noam Chomsky to see that we've already arrived. The single most important way that autocratic efforts are effected in a democratic society is by media hypnosis, which is so pervasive most people would argue that they are quite well informed by their TV sets. He explains that what guns and violence are to military dictatorship, propaganda is to a democratic dictatorship. Chomsky is the famed linguistics professor from MIT who has devoted his life to exposing what he describes as "the culture of terrorism" -- that would be the United States. I highly recommend a video documentary on his life, available for rent at many video stores, called Manufacturing Consent. I've been a media activist for years -- and still it was a shocking eye-opener.

The Astrology

People opposed to this war and those who support peace and freedom may take some consolation in the fact that it was launched under extremely shaky astrology, and that when the other shoe falls, it's going to come down with a stomp. The United States government has spoken. I think we will be surprised at the response we hear. While the war itself began under miserable astrology for such a venture, Friday's stunning conjunction of Mercury and the sun in the first degree of Aries promises that a message will be heard round the world, loud and clear and with never-before-seen energy.

We know the risks of this war: mainly, killing, hurting and shattering the lives of a lot of people, an unpredictable deterioration of world conditions and a serious economic downturn. But regime change begins at home, and there are political risks for the administration as well. These appear in several charts, but a good example is the chart for Bush's televised announcement that the war had begun, at March 19, at 10:15 p.m. ET, Washington DC. Given that this is a propaganda war on the people of the world, I consider this the official opening salvo. (MSNBC reported that Bush 'launched the order' at 6:30 p.m. ET; NBC reported that the bombing began at 9:45 p.m. ET.)

In the 10:15 p.m. chart, the moon in Libra is very close to being void-of-course. Void-of-course means the moon won't be making any new aspects until it reaches the next sign. It is an uncertain time -- the moon is 'out of play' and in a kind of null zone. The moon is still separating from its trine to Saturn at 10:15 p.m. The fact that the moon is making its last aspect, and at that, a separating trine to Saturn, does not bode well for anyone being able to control this situation. It starts off in control, then control disappears like it was never there. (One of the root charts in this situation is the Sept. 11 chart, during which the moon was void, and that situation is now very much out of hand.)

The Bush War II chart has Scorpio rising and Taurus setting. Thus Mars represents the United States and Venus represents Iraq. The two planets make no aspect. In a real war, one would expect to see the two planets interacting in some way, or moving toward a meeting rather than away from one. But the lack of a meeting suggests that this is not about Iraq -- or what we think of as Iraq, its leader and government -- at all. If we take Pluto rather than Mars as the ruler of Scorpio, we see that the most recent aspect between the two planets was a sextile -- a very harmonious and integrated meeting. But it's separating; it has already happened. Much like the Sept. 11, 2001 chart, in which the planets representing the terrorists and the government are in perfect harmony and even trade places, Venus and Pluto have recently been in perfect cooperation.

Also in the Bush War II chart, the moon rules the 9th house, that of foreign governments besides the open 'enemy'. The moon, in general, can represent the public as well. With the moon about to go void, we might wonder about what the peace movement is made of, but we shall soon see. We also have an interesting picture of France, Germany and Russia, which, like the world population represented by the moon, have little to lose.

With war "news" now being used as a excuse to eclipse any other actual word of world events (I guarantee you it's been extremely annoying to the mainstream press to have to write all these stories on protests, France, Germany and the UN) anyone depending on major media will be cut off from reality, and treated to a nonstop feast of bombs busting in air. But there is the Internet. The Mercury-sun conjunction on Friday says that real news will be moving fast and furious.

I would project that some kind of retaliation -- not necessarily military or violent -- comes unexpectedly from a foreign government, perhaps in the form of going public with information damaging to the administration. In a propaganda war, what you have to fight with is propaganda. This could be something like unreported 9-Eleven secrets held by foreign governments (perhaps, for example, credible information could resurface that the White House was warned in advance of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and let them happen).

Here is the main element in the Bush War II chart -- the kicker. The sun is very much void of course, which is a much larger issue (and at that, in the last degree of the zodiac). If I were the White House astrologer, I would have selected Friday afternoon for the launching of the war, unless I wanted to sabotage the plan, in which case I would have chosen the day they picked. To do the war well, we would want to wait until the Sun is in Aries (the sign of the god of war) and the moon is a lot less shaky -- and in Scorpio, another Mars-ruled sign. Instead, they started a war with the sun in Pisces and the moon in Libra, both signs involving Venus, the goddess of love. Well, good for them.

Meanwhile, sun void in my experience opens the door to strange possibilities and connotes a less-than-positive, and unpredictable, outcome, for the actor. The 10th house, the president's house, is involved -- Leo is on the 10th, so the sun represents Bush. This is just not good news for Bush. He has done something truly unusual here, which us unleash a massive pre-emptive war, on false pretenses, for private gain, allegedly singling out one person, upon an entire society, against the direct will of many governments and worldwide popular uprising. This is extremely unusual. His own chart tells us that the other shoe will indeed fall; this will unravel. The question is how many people he will kill first.

The sun is at equinox now. In the northern hemisphere, light is about to take over where darkness long ruled. There is a sense of balance moving into consciousness and awakening to life. But this war was launched in the last moments of winter.

Both the sun and moon so close to the edge presents a picture: Bush (the sun in the 5th) as childish, deceptive and rogue, and other governments (moon in the 9th house) at the end of their restraint (separating trine to Saturn, someone they used to cooperate with). Astrologers may note that the sun is also in an exact square to the Mars-Pluto midpoint, and that Mars is on the sun/moon midpoint. You could say they are shooting themselves in the foot. It may not be obvious quite yet. With powerful tyrants, the best thing you can hope for is that they will take care of their own undoing. Few other things could get me to subscribe to cable television.

And hey -- the really good news is that once I finish the horoscope, I can head over to Seattle for a peace rally. I've been waiting for that since 1981. ++

Exqusit Mortality by Han Hodges Baer

Mars-Chiron | March 19, 2003

Addressing Iraqis directly, he pledged, “The day of your liberation is near.” -- MSNBC

To me, what remains the most shocking aspect of how the "war" -- that is, the currently poised attack on the Iraqi people -- is being covered is how the pain that the people under the falling bombs will suffer is consistently omitted from reality. The second most shocking thing is that we're being offered a portrayal of battle that is righteous, glorious and victorious, not mentioning the body bags that will be used to send our heroes home. There are many lies being told about this foray. These are the worst of them, and the most obvious to see. The only way not to see is not to look.

The above statement by our supposed president is one of the most cynical things I've ever heard. It's up there with Harry Truman announcing that the United States had done God's work by dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. Yes, that is what he said. Here is a sample, unfortunately, missing the 'God' bit. Note - Hiroshima is an ordinary city, not a miliary base.

I'm having a hard time keeping a positive attitude about this situation, and I'm having to get over the sense that it's my responsibility to do so. Shit, this is depressing stuff to deal with. And I don't seem to have lived a single day without being confronted with news of war or the necessity to do something about it. What has my attention this morning are the inner emotional and psychological elements that allow us to stand for what is happening: to take it for granted, to not face it, to not be outraged. At the same time I understand how important it is to keep listening for signs that we are not simply accepting this. And I understand how important it is to keep living, to keep the fabric of our lives intact enough to care for ourselves and the people who depend on us.

There are many forces at work here.

It seems, though, that any honest look at this war situation would lead us to an honest look at what we have endured in our own lives. It requires what Alice Miller describes as "the art of not feeling pain" to allow such atrocities to happen. We are very much supported in that art by our deeply embedded addiction to chaos, distraction and violence that is fed to us via television. It is the pump of deception. It's also a powerful hypnotic trance that can and usually does take us out of awareness that we really do need to get our lives together, even in the face of the unconscionable global consequences that this war might have. Global consequences mean personal consequences. We all depend on society for food and water. Television removes our awareness from necessity and puts it on consumption -- in particular, vanity, empty gratification and violence.

To me what is the most disgusting about this latest war is how it combines committing atrocities on a civilian population, with the personal greed of the oil executives we call the White House, with the total neglect of the real problems the world is facing today: the environmental and health and food and water issues. The media has many people convinced we need to destroy the illusion of an enemy while at the same time ignoring the real perpetrators. But with GE and Westinghouse and many of their cousins controlling what we see and think, what else can you expect?

And who has the time, energy or psychic capacity to confront reality, anyway? Well, it actually seems that some people do, because there is a peace movement emerging, and we shall soon see what it's made of.

My deeper hope is that we'll take this very personally, that we'll make the connections on the most intimate levels, and observe how a society that is obsessed with violence and consumption has shaped our lives and our choices. In my own inner world, I have never experienced such dedication to my own healing process, and to maintaining a state of basic health within my household and order within my business. I'm learning something new about both discipline and compassion for myself. My pain threshold has gone way down. I am watching myself make more responsible choices. I am working for a balance between what I put out and what I take in. I am keeping focussed on what needs to happen every day and am succeeding pretty well at not being concerned about the future. I am tapping into a formula for making the future by being right were I am. It is challenging.

I had an astrological experience last week that I want to share. Doing the charts for the April monthly horoscope soon to be posted to this site, I saw a pattern of images that began telling very specific stories about the next month, from Tuesday's full moon to the next one, on April 16. There are many ways to read astrology, many angles from which to peer into the charts, and typically I direct my outer interpretation to the emotional / psychological level, maintaining a spiritual focus on the inner level. Recent political developments that were foreshadowed in the February charts, including the shuttle Columbia and the awakening of a worldwide peace movement, have kept my door open to focusing on the social / political dimension as well.

As I've written recently, the same aspects that influence world affairs are active in our personal charts. Our personal charts are active whether we're aware of them or not. There is always a connection between personal feelings and developments and the political events from which we seem to be so far removed, though we're trained to ignore this. Astrology makes it undeniable. The connections stare astrologers straight in the face.

On April 1, at the next new moon, there is a Mars-Chiron conjunction in Capricorn. Once again we have a powerful Centaur planet conjunction on the day of a lunar event. This is part of the usual synchronicity pattern of astrology. But then, it's not: the Mars-Chiron conjuntion happens on average once every two years. Going back to 1964, it's only happened two other times that such a conjunction has coincided with a new moon within 24 hours: on May 12, 1983, and again on May 14, 1991. That's two times in about 468 months. The most recent sequence of Mars-Chiron conjunctions (a rare triple-header, due to a Mars retrograde) occurred in the spring and summer of 2001 and were rather memorable. It's interesting to see where we've come in one cycle, from right before 9-Eleven, to the present day.

Mars and Chiron are an important mix, and represent a critical cycle, because both are warrior energies. Chiron was a teacher to heroes and warriors; he taught battlefiend medicine and other forms of heaing, including herbalism, chiropractic and surgery; he taught ethics; he taught music. We can infer from this that his intention was to cultivate ethical and psychologically-balanced warriors who could protect and defend the country, but also think for themselves. Not all of his students did the right thing all the time -- they were human -- but they were the generation of great men we associate with Helenic Greece: Achilles, Jason and Heracles, among others.

Mars is the 'god of war' and the Roman name for Ares, the son of Zeus and Hera. His sons were Demios and Phobos, the gods of terror and tumolt. Ancient astrologers in both the Western and Vedic systems show a great mistrust of Mars. Modern astrologers understand Mars as the Yang force, the procreative energy and the power of desire. When we look honestly at what most people do with their creativity and sex drives, it's easy to empathize with the ancient viewpoint.

The meeting of Mars and Chiron in the thick of our cruel, psychotic and deceptive attack on Iraq -- particularly in the sign Capricorn, with its many references to religious, government and parental influence -- is most significant. We are getting an opportunity to work with the severe injuries to the male nature that our socity inflicts. Today it's fashionable to talk about how our culture oppresses 'the goddess' without acknowledging that the 'god force' of maleness is equally abused and exploited. The overwhelming majority of combat soldiers, pilots, marines and sailors who are now in the Persian Gulf are men, and while we can say they are 'serving the country dutifully', most joined the military simply to get money for college. I am sure no recruiter looked them in the eye and said, "Son, we'll pay your tuition, but you'll have to become a mass murderer."

More about these charts tomorrow, including forthcoming revelations about the truth of 9-Eleven and events in the life of George Bush.

Arianna | March 18, 2003

The Full Moon passed at about 5:34 a.m. EST today, an experience which often comes the experience of a break in deadlocks. We saw one: on a rare occasion, Resident Bush was in tune with the astrology and announced his resolve to go bomb Iraq against the will of the United Nations and many of his closest allies, against the will of the world population, and against the facts. It would be SO interesting if, when the Resident is making a speech and tells a big lie, the action could stop and someone who knows what she is talking about could set the facts down.

I nominate Arianna Huffington, a political columnist for Salon. For now, I pass the torch to her. I'll be back later in the day with an astrology report.

To hell with worldwide protests, an unsupportive Security Council, a diplomatically dubious Hans Blix, an Osama giddy at the prospect of a united Arab world, and a panicked populace grasping at the very slender reed of duct tape and Saran Wrap to
protect itself from the inevitable terrorist blow-back -- the business of America is still business.

No one in the administration embodies this bottom line mentality more than Dick Cheney. The vice president is one of those ideological purists who never let little things like logic, morality, or mass murder interfere with the single-minded pursuit of profitability.

His on-again, off-again relationship with the Butcher of Baghdad is a textbook example of what modern moralists condemn as "situational ethics," an extremely convenient code that allows you to do what you want when you want and still feel good about it in the morning. In the Cheney White House (let's call it what it is), anything that can be rationalized is right.

The two were clearly on the outs back during the Gulf War, when Cheney was Secretary of Defense, and the first President Bush dubbed Saddam "Hitler revisited."

Then Cheney moved to the private sector and suddenly things between him and Saddam warmed up considerably. With Cheney in the CEO's seat, Halliburton helped Iraq reconstruct its war-torn oil industry with $73 million worth of equipment and services -- becoming Baghdad's biggest such supplier. Kinda nice how that worked out for the vice-president, really: oversee the destruction of an industry that you then profit from by rebuilding.

When, during the 2000 campaign, Cheney was asked about his company's Iraqi escapades, he flat out denied them. But the truth remains: When it came to making a buck, Cheney apparently had no qualms about doing business with "Hitler revisited."

And make no mistake, this wasn't a case of hard-nosed realpolitik -- the rationale for Rummy's cuddly overtures to Saddam back in '83 despite his almost daily habit of gassing Iranians. That, we were told, was all about "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

No, Cheney's company chose to do business with Saddam after the rape of Kuwait. After Scuds had been fired at Tel Aviv and Riyadh. After American soldiers had been sent home from Desert Storm in body bags.

And in 2000, just months before pocketing his $34 million Halliburton retirement package and joining the GOP ticket, Cheney was lobbying for an end to U.N. sanctions against Saddam.

Of course, American businessmen are nothing if not flexible. So his former cronies at Halliburton are now at the head of the line of companies expected to reap the estimated $2 billion it will take to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure following Saddam's ouster. This burn-and-build approach to business guarantees that there will be a market for Halliburton's services as long as it has a friend in high places to periodically carpet bomb a country for it.

In the meantime, Halliburton, among many other Pentagon contracts, has a lucrative 10-year deal to provide food services to the Army that comes with no lid on potential costs.

Overnight, March 17-18, 2003

Speaking of Cainer and that Virgo Full Moon he's writing about.

Funny that you say that I see relationships (i.e., life) as a problem to be solved. There is a diamond of truth to that. I can tell you this about it. When I got to the point where I wanted to solve my problems, that is, when I was ready to consciously acknowledge that I was suffering, and wanted to not suffer, life became a problem to be solved. And in so doing, I was able to actually resume living.

I can tell you this, too: I endured a lot of pain before I got to that point. I also endured a lot of the pain of my parents and my grandparents, as an experience in my body, soul and heart, not having the least clue what was happening. For a long time I didn't realize that the chaos I was experiencing was pain.

The pain itself had a distinct property of convincing me I deserved it. What convinced me that I did not was walking with people through their pain, over and over again. I started to get the picture. The truth was more obvious in them than it was within myself, but after a while I started to make the connection.

What I now see is that I was really learning was to hold open a space of healing for others within myself. I practiced this a lot, and was eventually able to hold that space open for myself. I know in theory you're supposed to do it the other way around. But here the Course in Miracles comes to mind: I will be healed as I let him teach me to heal.


No one lives in this room
without confronting the whiteness of the wall
behind the poems, planks of books,
photographs of dead heroines.
Without contemplating last and late
the true nature of poetry. The drive
to connect. The dream of a common language.

--Adrienne Rich, "Origins and History of Consciousness"
from The Dream of a Common Language


Current Astrological Highlights

This week we have the double-ripple of the Fool Moon in late Pisces on Tuesday, March 18 at 2:34 a.m. PST, and the Aries Equinox (Spring above the equator, Autumn below the equator), when the Sun crosses into the sign Aries, on Thursday March 20, 2003 at 6:00 p.m. PST. On Wednesday, we will experience something called the Sun being void of course. This condition is rarely noted by modern astrologers. It works much like the Moon being void of course. When the Sun is finished making aspects to other planets, or when other slower planets (such as the Moon) are not making aspects to the Sun, it is void of course. The effect is truly strange, working like a door to a different dimension of possibility. Unusual things happen, and can happen. But they are not stable. They will probably not lead to lasting results.

Visions for War, Visions for Peace | March 17

It seems appropriate that Spain, the US and UK met in the Azores Islands yesterday to declare that they would be heading into a war with Iraq without the backing of the United Nations. Whether they will remains to be seen. The Azores are located in the eastern Atlantic, about 900 miles off the European coast. This is one proposed location for the 'lost continent of Atlantis', which, though speculative, is highly symbolic. In the Atlantis mythology, we learn of a civilization whose technology far outpaced its ability to use that technology responsibly -- the machines became the creative force, not the people, and that destroyed them. Another version of the myth, offered by J.R.R. Tolkien, speaks of a civilization so intent on eternal life that it actually set out to make war on God.

Meanwhile, the third wave of worldwide protests since F-15 blossomed into reality, with candlelight vigils last night in thousands of cities and towns around the globe (above, a vigil in Istanbul, Turkey is shown). Alternative web pages, newsgroups, e-mail lists and private address books continue to link the developed world's population in a network of light. Over this network, we can send swarms of information about the political situation and protest movements to anyone who can get to a university, a friend's house with a computer, or a public library -- assuming they lack a rig of their own. We are about to witness one of the most awesome and magnificent political showdowns in recorded history. Spain, the US and the UK stand out amongst the more brutal and successful conquerors of the past 500 years. They are about to discover a force more powerful than they are.

The antiwar movement is truly a peace movement. It's mellow, easygoing, joyous and serious all at once. It is a mainstream movement. I was talking with peace activists on a street corner in West Seattle Saturday and commented that this was bigger than the movement of the 70s. One guy, about my dad's age, corrected me. Yes, this is bigger. But it's mainstream. This is not a confrontation with 'straight' society; this is the voice of regular people. The anti-Vietnam movement was a brutal confrontation with many people and institutions that believed that the Vietnam War would help us defeat communism. Now many of the same 'kinds of people' -- working people, veterans, parents, grandparents, business men -- who were frantically defending American ideals by supporting the bombing and poisoning of Vietnam are now on the streets voicing their hopes, prayers and intentions for world peace.

There are still people who support this war. Many of them would support the bombing of anyone or anything. I don't count them. Others are taking out their frustration or aggression on the nearest available visage of an enemy. Quite a few people are caught in the media trance.

Many people have done enough therapy and New Age workshops, or are just plain intelligent and educated enough, to see right through all of that.

The coming astrology has a lot to say -- for tomorrow.

Three Visions for Peace | March 14

Everyone seems a little edgy these days, or almost everyone. Can you blame us? The world might end, you know, if things get out of hand in the Middle East. I am so pissed off. I just finally get my bookshelves straightened out, and my supply of kitchen towels all washed and folded in a neat pile on my counter just like I like them, and the freaking world might end. It is so not fair. And all for what? Oh, cheap gas! Last night I invested $37 in a tank of the stuff for my car. I didn't say 18-wheel truck, I said car. When I went into the convenience store, since it was after dark, I had to leave my credit card, my gold watch and my hiking boots as collateral. But the cashier was like yeah, it's bullshit. The gas you just bought comes from South America. I love how well informed people are these days.

Well, anyway we are in a period of high anxiety, high awareness, high altitude or high stress. One or more of the above. The mere fact of all the Pisces energy seems to have people swimming or drowning in their feelings. As of Friday, Sun, Mercury, Uranus, Pallas Athene and Hopi are all in Pisces. Mercury alone would be enough to have this effect.

The psychic energy -- or pressure, depending on how you experience it -- is building, and it will most likely continue to build with the Virgo Full Moon (on Tuesday) over the next few days, a lunation which may be somewhat emotionally itchy because there will be a temptation to make all that emotional material mental. You will know this is happening if your wires are getting hot. Running emotional energy through mental channels has the feeling of too much, of overwhelm, of depression, of frustration.

Many people are struggling right now. There are others who are on solid ground, the organically stable and well-nourished types. There are those who have trained for this moment or who are simply naturally prepared, who are able to help by working in support of their immediate circle of friends and family. Others are helping in world service: peace activists working around the clock, for example, or the people babysitting and cooking their meals, and there are lots and lots of those. If you are on the peace brigade and you're reading this, thank you. A thousand times. Not everyone can do what you are doing. Many people want to.

But, as I keep saying, as a way of offering permission, some people are having a really hard time right now. If you are struggling in any way, please ask for help. Please do what might not be so easy for you and reach across to someone who can assist you, help nourish you, support you, give you a break from the kids, or whatever you might need. Including the person in the next cubicle, or your boss, or some friendly person nearby who just seems available.

If you need and can pay for expert help -- a therapist, massage therapist, a homeopath, whatever -- then surely do; it's worth the investment. If you can't, ask for help, and open up to receiving it, and see what happens. If you have trained in a healing or support art but have not begun to use it, this is quite potentially your moment to put your skill to work. Everyone will benefit. A few more points of unsolicited advice from the Chiron department before I move onto my three visions for peace.

If you are going to be assisting others in some capacity, you will probably need several pieces of equipment, or their equivalent. One is to remain as well-nourished as you can: food, rest, companionship, whatever. Next is you will need some contact with more experienced people than yourself, people you can use for reality checks who understand and appreciate the role you feel called upon to serve in. Ask for help when you need it. Get other opinions. Know when you don't know and bounce questions off of people you respect.

Last is that it's very important to know when you cannot help another person. If you feel that you cannot, it's okay to say that. It is more noble than to attempt what is really not working. You can only do your best. It is okay -- even vitally necessary at times -- to refer people on to others. Among the warning lights are situations in which you repeatedly feel frustrated or depleted. Those are different feelings than tired at the end of the day.

An Evolutionary Threshold

To me it is clear that the world is at a threshold of consciousness. We are here together. We are not here alone. I'm perceiving standing at the threshold of war as an opportunity for enlightenment. Any society always goes to war with at least a vague consensus of its population, or the mirage of one, and sometimes with many of its citizens in a wild, frenzied fervor. Leaders use many tricks to persuade and incite people to violence, always creating the illusion of an outside threat to mask the private interests that stand to profit by destabilizing or conquering another country.

This is largely accomplished by hiding the injury that will be inflicted on ordinary people (as opposed to 'opposing' armies) of the target country. The damage we inflict is almost always ignored, or rationalized away. Honest journalism -- to give one example -- would currently be offering us long feature stories about the current state of Iraqi hospitals, interviewing their doctors and health ministers, and providing reports back to the rest of the world about what will happen if their health system is overwhelmed or destroyed. How is it that our 'Christian' leaders can express concerns about the politics and government of Iraq without expressing concerns about the people on the ground, who would be under the bombs? The answer is very, very simple: offering that perspective would turn people against the plan to attack in droves. It would be seen as unjustifiable, immoral, vicious, unconscionable, or whatever you want to call it. It would be attacked as 'anti-American'. One cannot maintain murderous feelings and compassion in their heart at the same time. So those preparing for the rampage must abandon all sentiments of compassion. And they must persuade as many other people to do the same as possible.

One of the lies we live with is that the will of the people can be ignored. But I have proof to the contrary. In time of war, the will of the people is always manipulated, silenced or somehow subverted. If the will of the people could be ignored, that would not be necessary, now would it? We would not need to be blitzed with propaganda to make us think we're in favor of something, or that something is necessary. But bad things have been stopped in the past, and good things have been created.

Any time the government is pressured to do or not do something, from give women the right to vote or end a war, it is always a vocal minority -- in other words, not a big majority -- that gets the job done. What I feel right now is that with our individual minds, we are choosing to join one collective or another: one which is willing to let this happen, and another which is not willing to let it happen.

The Investment of Consciousness

My sense is that, for some reason, some energetic or evolutionary reason, our choice of where to invest our consciousness right now is very important. Holding the vibration of compassion, of true concern and of doing what might feel like voting with one's conscience, does not only have the potential to be helpful. It seems likely that that's what's going to tip the balance and carry us through this particular territory to a whole new place. The first time in modern history that people stop some kind of war before it happens will not be the last. Imagine if we were to discover that by holding the thought of peace, or expressing our moral opposition, or by coming to a peace rally, we could actually make THE difference? What fun!

Those working for peace in the current world crisis have three distinct advantages in the current situation. One is that the mirage of a threat is looking mighty thin. Most people know that Saddam poses very little threat to the United States, and that in the event that such a potential becomes real, we can act then. Most of us are also fully aware of how bombing the Middle East can lead to an increase in terrorist attacks here, rather than helping avoid the possibility. If in theory the Muslim world is some kind of hornet's nest (which I seriously doubt) why would anyone want to kick it?

Also working in our favor is Sept. 11. The modern United States, before Sept. 11, had never experienced an attack on its own soil. Our government has bombed numerous societies but our citizens have never known the direct horror of war. While the memory of Sept. 11 has been used successfully to whip up pro-war sentiment (does anyone remember the war against bin Laden that actually won us Afghanistan but left bin Laden roaming free??), Sept 11 was also a powerful initiation that it's extremely painful to be under falling bombs and falling buildings.

Also plenty of people are fully aware of being manipulated by the media. I have heard the comment many times: Why when 90% of the population allegedly supports something do I not know one person who is in favor of it? Who exactly are they polling?

Many people are experienced in visualization exercises. We could present a model for the creation of reality which demonstrates fully that we visualize reality into existence. It does not come into existence any other way. Therefore we must have a very clear sense of our visions.

I want to suggest three possible visualizations to help defuse the potential for a bombing campaign on Iraq.

First: Visualize the present time from the standpoint of the past and witness the fact that the war never happened.

Or: See the future as consisting of 'time tunnels'. We can choose any tunnel. There is at least one that leads directly away from the prospect of war. Hold that possibility open. Hold the door open and point others toward it.

Or: Witness a massive uprising of consciousness, activism and celebration of life that makes the war vibrationally and politically impossible.

Dane Rudhyar Speaks

This is offered by Jennifer Wilks Christian of the Planet Waves Vision List. In the book Occult Preparations for a New Age, 20th century astrological pioneer Dane Rudhyar stresses that through crises are born new beginnings; they summon new potentialities into existence.

"He who is . . . definitely ready and intent upon entering the Path - the path of total transformation -- can expect to travel with suffering as his companion. He has deliberately entered a process of transition. He has placed himself 'out of gears' in order to be able to change to a higher gear; and the change is very rarely smooth, because, unlike a well-engineered car, each position of the gears resists change; instead of some kind of lubricant to facilitate the displacement, each gear is surrounded with a mass of particles opposing the shifting. Every transition between two states results in suffering."

Of crises, he says that "all have this in common: they challenge in us the desire, the power of imagination, and the will to make a fresh start. . . . Will we stop actualizing our inherent potentialities of consciousness and personality unfoldment, defeated by circumstances? But these circumstances have called upon us simply and solely to offer us rebirth!"

"Why is so hard to summon the new potentialities of existence, to begin again with faith in 'tomorrows that sing', to be once more virginal under the dawn that calls for expansive newness? We don't know how to offer the New -- ritualistically, in sacrifice -- the fruits of our past to which we remain so attached; or we do not dare, because the ghosts of the closing cycle crowd upon us, oppress us, and block the door to new possibility.

"Courage is the need: the courage to have faith in man's inalienable right and responsibility to make new and unprecedented beginnings; the courage to dismiss and forget the ghosts; the courage to face the awesome darkness of the Night of the Soul in certainty of dawn: the courage to allow one's consciousness and ego to be ground like a lens to the perfect form that will enable the creative light of the new potentiality to become precisely, effectively, and accurately focused upon one's innermost center of being, and thence released in love for all. Courage, faith, and throughout the whole way, love, and clarity of mind: these are the essential requirements for whoever dares to enter the Path, the path of ever-renewed transformation."

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