Planet Waves Daily by Eric Francis from April 2002


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By ERIC FRANCIS | Daily Edition Through the June 10 Solar Eclipse.

Daily Web Logs (Blogs) from April 2002

Current Editions | April 2002 | May 1-15 2002 | June 1-10 2002

Tuesday, April 30 | Sinners & Saints

While it's timely, both in the season and the news, I would like to add a few comments to the discussion of the Roman Catholic priest pedophilia scandal.

The Roman Catholic Church has, over two millennia, built a global empire on the notion that sex is a sin. Jesus himself made only two comments about sex, both of them, in my view, pretty righteous -- the one about he who has no sin casting the first stone (at the Sacred Prostitute who became his friend, teacher and advisor), and his reference in the Sermon on the Mount to inappropriate lust and inappropriate sex being equivalent. Yet the church has built its entire theology around the idea that sexuality and spirituality are mutually exclusive. This is a lie so big, a concept so deeply ingrained in our bones, that few can look at it and actually see it, and one that few of us can refute because we are, simply, so confused.

The sinful sex notion extends into the very basis of Catholicism, that Mary conceived Jesus without intercourse, in what is known properly as the "virgin birth." She, previously, was born without "original sin" (properly called the Immaculate Conception) -- but the rest of us are born sinners. What was that sin? Our parents fucked to create us. It is the sin of temptation, going back to the mythical Adam and Eve, who were cast from paradise for desire. This is veiled in lots of literary and occult mumbo-jumbo, but after eating from the tree of the knowledge and good and evil, they cover their pubes in shame. Follow the logic: the impulse to create life is shameful. Life is a living shame.

Among all world religions, there is none that takes so restrictive a position on sexuality as Roman Catholicism, in which tradition there is never an appropriate time to experience erotic pleasure free from guilt. This is unique in all the world. In many other religions, how much fun the God and Goddess had getting it on would have determined how powerful a deity they would have created. In the at times rather conservative Hindu faith, there are magnificent teachings on sexuality, not the least of which is the Kama Sutra. Even Islam, which we think of as the most repressive religion in the world, is far more liberal about sex than Roman Catholicism. Writes the Muslim Women's League Homepage:

The Prophet [Mohammed] himself, while not divulging all aspects of his own sexual life, was known for his nature as a loving husband who was sensitive and physically demonstrative. In several hadith, he speaks about the importance of foreplay and speaking in loving terms during sexual relations. Again, the concept of mutual satisfaction is elucidated in a hadith which advises husbands to engage in acts that enable a woman to achieve orgasm first. (see Ihya ulum-id-din [Revival of Religious Learning] by Imam Ghazzali, chapter on Marriage). Sexual dissatisfaction is considered legitimate grounds for divorce on the part of either wife or husband.

Catholicism goes further yet, or in reality, further backward; it has constructed its theology on the anti-life position that sex, being a cause of deep shame and guilt, is tantamount to murder. The central icon of the religion is an image of murder, and we are told that "he died for our sins." Life and joy are confused with death and pain. No doubt that's how the Vatican has justified murdering so many people in so many crusades and inquisitions. And, tapping into the inexhaustible well of sexual desire, how it has made so many people lifetime subscribers by mixing Eros with shame and guilt, convincing them that they are horrible sinners, in a vicious cycle that can last as long as a person continues to breathe, and often does.

It goes on and on.

And what we are seeing emerge now is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We are not, for example, being told about the special rectory in New Mexico, in existence for years, where some pedophile priests are sent to cool off for a while.

Let's talk about Europe. In Germany, it is documented that many priests live as man and wife with their "housekeepers," and that the Vatican will support up to three children from these common law marriages. It is also recorded history (in a nation that deducts church taxes from one's pay check) that brothels were used as fund raising mechanisms for the building of cathedrals. Their clients? The priesthood.

In France, where sex is taken somewhat lightly, it's a joke that many priests are Queer, and possibly a tad indiscriminate about age. The English version of the Jacques Brel song "Seasons in the Sun," produced in here in the '70s, omits a stanza in which the young narrator says goodbye to the priest he has known for years; you would have to be French to get it, but the implication is that they were, let's say, involved.

Traveling in Sicily in 1996, I had my chance to have sex with a Roman Catholic priest, who happened to be the keeper of a small cathedral. We were having dinner in the rectory one spring evening. The doors were barred. It was him and me and the saints. He inquired as to my entire sexual history, which I explained as best I could in French (not speaking more than 10 words of Sicilian). I truly liked the man, even loved him for how kind he had been to me. The opportunity was there; the moment was open; there would have been no guilt about it; I passed, or maybe balked.

On a less wholesome note, there was the story related to me by one of my first clients. His mother had grown up in rural Greece. As a girl, she remembered a road crew digging in front of a convent, and unearthing an infant mass grave. She told it to him as a warning.

Meanwhile, the church has preached sexual purity for endless centuries, and made their parishioners feel like shit, promised them a one-way trip to hell for celebrating their feelings and the love of their fellow men and woman, and, all the while, passing around the basket, and, apparently, quietly doing their thing.

If we take this logically, or even intuitively, or even scientifically, or hey, spiritually, we can allow ourselves to be vindicated for our biology, for our desires, and for our love of beauty, and make a note of the twisted creations that emerge, and the pain that is caused, when what is natural and loving -- the erotic impulse -- is suppressed, denied, and called evil. And, in the interest of nature, we would do well to leave that all behind, and go on with what is gentle and natural in our own lives, and get help if we find ourselves bound in the barbed wire of guilt and shame. We can heal that, and life is better when we do.


Monday, April 29 | Beltane

There can be no doubt that we live in strange, beautiful days, a time of transition so rapid we can barely see what is happening, and so dangerous we can barely trust it. A Vedic (Indian) astrologer I spoke with yesterday, inquiring about the conditions of the current sky as told in the lore of Hindu astrological teaching, said that with Saturn so powerfully aspected at the 6/10 eclipse, and so deeply involved in the coming events, we need to practice restraint. Restraint? In America? Eating only half the pie, not the whole thing. Take it from a guy with five fish tanks.

A measure of discipline, formality and conserving our resources is prudent, as is offering penance, that is, regret and apology, for what we feel are our prior misdeeds. He said that in Hindu culture, it's also considered prudent to make tributes to the gods, which we do, of course, for ourselves, not for them. I'll share some more of his insights later this week.

But there is another kind of discipline, a more celebratory kind, which is about maintaining love, respect and awareness around the traditions that help us hold stable lives. Traditions are usually seasonal. Each season has its appropriate experiences, foods, celebrations and transitions. If we can touch these points of the calendar in meaningful ways, we can begin to round out our lives. In the words of Rev Tevye, "Without tradition, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on a roof!"

In American culture, we tend to live devoid of community traditions and cut off from both human nature and the natural environment. And we think we can get away with it, that is, be sane and happy.

Our marketing culture doesn't cut it for honoring the seasons, you know, Christmas Blowout Sales don't quite stack up to Saturnalia or Solstice. And Christmas, a time of obligation and depression for many, has little to do with honoring the Christ, the spirit of unconditional protection, love and forgiveness taught by Jesus. But of course, that doesn't need to get in Jesus's way.

To keep life colorful and really live the seasons, we can also tap into pre-Christian traditions and get a taste for the rhythms and cycles of life. If you are Christian, you don't have to take my word for it, but Jesus doesn't mind if we make fire and raise some energy and take nourishment from life.

For the coming week, the Sun approaches the midpoint of the sign Taurus. When the Sun reaches the midpoint of any of the fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius), it's time for one of the cross-quarter days, the high sabbaths of the witch's calendar. There are four cross-quarter days: Samhain (pronounced sa-wen), which survives as Halloween, All Soul's Night, and the Days of the Dead; Imbolc, which survives variously as Ground Hog Day, Candlemas and the Feast of the Purification of Mary; Lammas, or Second Planting, in early August, known only in agrarian communities; and Beltane, which survives as Cinco de Mayo, Worker's Day, or May Day. These holidays are located, in time, halfway between the solstices and equinoxes, which divides the year in to eight mini-seasons. (Thanks to Jenny Singer and Carol Burkhart for their assistance over the years researching these holidays, and to Cynthia at for her devoted editing.)

Celebrating Beltane is really simple. Find a willing friend or lover, make a nice feast, and fuck, preferably outside. It's not exactly ordinary fucking: it's fucking for the Goddess, for the Earth, to honor one another, and to celebrate that life is reborn each Spring. Erotic play at Beltane helps ensure prosperity and health, and reminds us that we really are alive. It is honoring a tradition so old, so deep and so human that it connects us with the unbroken chain of life.

In the old ways, at Beltane people were allowed to make love with a partner different than their spouse or usual lover, hence, the reputation for Beltane orgies. Children born of these encounters held an honored place in the community. In many modern Beltane celebrations, this tradition is usually eclipsed by the modern social convention known as repression.

I have been to many awesome Belane celebrations, mostly at the Center for Symbolic Studies in New Paltz, New York (home of the Joseph Campbell biographers, Robin and Steve Larsen - hi everyone!), where the whole community gathered to make fire and dance and drum into the night. But celebrating Eros for the Goddess is, as far as I've experienced, the best, most wonderful and important thing you can do to honor this season.

If that seems impossible, out of reach or too good to happen, I suggest you think carefully about the kind people in your life, put on your sweetest face and reach from your deepest heart, and ask politely. Or, you may take yourself as lover, and celebrate the season, and the day.

Isn't astrology fun?


Friday, April 26 | Dualism

When the 9/11 incidents occurred, our national leaders, not missing a beat, a breath or an opportunity to stuff the defense budget, invoked the "us and them" mentality. Without presenting the public with any evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, we were told that a particular bad guy had done particular things because he hates us so much, and we were going to war against not just him but all the farmers and villagers within a thousand miles. Us against them. We've seen it before, since the dawn of time.

Do we feel satisfied now that we have bombed to dust a struggling little country where people survive on bits of sheep cheese?

While the "enemy" still walks the world?

In metaphysical or, if you prefer, spiritual, language, this mind set is called dualism. Dualism is the world view that everything exists only in terms of its opposite. God versus Satan. Good versus Evil. The American Way has its enemy, Fascism, Communism, Feminism and, most lately, Terrorism. It is Newton's Third Law of Motion applied to relationships: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (we better hope it's not true). Geeky dorks who memorize Star Trek can spout it off and make it sound like they know something that you don't. But why aren't they teaching us quantum physics? It was dusty old news, nearly a century old, by the time I was in elementary school. Nobody mentioned it as late as college. How about a course, Introduction to Modern Science? Why aren't we learning that the energetic field of the cosmos unified? How about a little String Theory, teacher?

And we need a better social theory to go with it.

One might think that, by this late date, we would stop falling for the notion that the dark man is always the enemy. Haven't we ever heard of racism? Take a look at the television. It's always the Arab, the Jew, the Gook, the Injun, the South American drug lord, and the ever-popular Nigga: but the Euroman is always the saint? We need to get a grip. We need therapy. We need to read Wilhelm Reich. Reich said we're just projecting our repressed horror of our sexuality onto the dark man, and then need to raise an army and kill him. America, you need to masturbate.

In any event, Gemini is the sign of dualism, the self/other reality that we seem, just about always, to slip into in terms of the enticing propositions for brutal enmity that it offers: the good twin versus the evil one, for example. The eclipse of which I write in this series happens in Gemini. It is conjunct no-bullshit Saturn. We are being called upon to look at this attribute of our, well, let's call it philosophy, but it's really our mind set, our psychic orientation, our cosmic chaos, our unacknowledged fear and inner alienation, that is, we are alien from ourselves. As a result, we are killing our world, and ourselves with it. I know, when those buildings fell down, it was really really terrible, and many people felt like they needed, you know, to pick sides. But there are no sides, there is just reality, the literally awful fact that we are floating in the cosmos in bodies that eventually die, but on a planet that could feed us very nicely, if we would only let her, among people who would love us, if we would let them.

that vortex where science & theology intersect has thrown open a door &
cast its light further into the Unknown than ever before. This place where
reality pulses ever brighter & ever more mysterious; perpetually just out of
reach & paradoxically right where you are sitting now. As my Advaita teacher
would say "All effort is a going away from what you fundamentally are, for
You Are what you are looking for." The questions having arisen out of the
answer itself: that which we are most intimately composed of. The closest
metaphor for tuning in being to listen, in stillness. Waiting without
waiting for anything. A natural resonance with the living hum at the core of
-- via - studio psycherotica - 1999


Thursday, April 25 | The Galaxy & The Twins

Late last year I did a juicy little series on Sagittarius, which got into some pretty cosmic material, since the core of our galaxy and something called the Great Attractor both are located there. There is indeed something a touch unworldly about all people, and all things, Sagittarian, but we do live in an unworldly world. Hence Sagittarius is the sign of global reality, culture and wisdom. But hey, who needs Sirius when you've got Epcot Center?

The symbols for the signs of the zodiac are like huge road signs pointing out into space. Who cares if they are real or not, conceptual or literal? They are there. If you aim your mind in the direction of some of the strangest things in the universe, you can see a road sign with a huge picture of a centaur, the mythical half-man, half horse. He marks at least two known center points of the universe (one local, the core of the galaxy, and the other more cosmic, a point toward which about a million galaxies are converging, the Great Attractor). All of that stuff is shining back toward us; it is a look at our reflection. What is being reflected?

In the other direction, Gemini, you see a pair of twins: you see people. Isn't that interesting? Following the zodiac in the usual order, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, the third sign is the first 'human sign', one characterized by people and not an animal (there are only two others, Virgo and Aquarius, both of whom apparently depict Goddess figures). In Gemini, the people are portrayed in dualistic fashion, as we like to see ourselves. In fact we don't do so well alone, and, whatever shrinks (and authors of books on codependency) have to say about it, we tend, in a big way, to define ourselves in the context of one another. Perhaps it's worth mentioning that Gemini is associated with the sixth trump of the Tarot, The Lovers, which in older times was also known as The Brothers. Fundamentally, lovers are like siblings. They represent the human condition in its most basic form.

In Gemini, we manifest in pairs: self and other, Adam and Eve, me and my brother. Toward Sagittarius, off the other way, we see the most cosmic condition in its most trippy form, places we'll never actually go, conditions we'll probably never understand. We seek the cosmos, instead, in our cosmic twin, the person with whom we wish to connect. But there is usually a vast missing element in that relationship, such as, the big picture. We are all in a love triangle with the person we're with, and, you might say, God.

The eclipse on June 10 occurs in the sign of the twins. An eclipse represents a change in condition of some kind in the sign where it occurs, and we certainly have a lot of work to do in our relationships, which tend toward superficiality, deception and violence. We need a better way, and that way is opening.


Wednesday, April 24 | Sabian Symbols

This is a do-it-yourself astrology essay, in which I'll be offering an aspect of the basic data that astrologers use to make interpretations. It may seem a little cryptic, but think of it as dream interpretation and it may evolve into its own intuitive logic that might relate to yours.

There are 360 degrees in the astrological wheel, and each planet or point occupies one of them; any time there is an event, it occurs within one of them (or more, if more than one planet is involved). In any chart, most degrees are empty. Each sign has 30 degrees that comprise its longitude, or width. Sometimes several elements pile up in one degree (a conjunction), or in a short cluster of degrees (also called a conjunction, sometimes called a stellium). Back toward the beginning of the last century, Marc Edmumd Jones, one of the great lights of the collective astrological soul, worked with a clairvoyant and channeled images, or symbols, for each of the degrees (in 1925, in San Diego). These are called the Sabian Symbols. They were later reinterpreted by another of the most beloved astrological luminaries, Dane Rudhyar, in a book called An Astrological Mandala. They are one of the best-loved tools of both beginner and advanced astrologers.

They are easy to use and fun to interpret, in effect, turning the astrological wheel into a Tarot deck with 360 cards that seem to turn up randomly, but can make interesting patterns.

Below are the symbols for events we will be encountering over the coming weeks, stated in the language given by Rudhyar in his later book. This is the first time I am looking at them together.

Events and their Sabian Symbols

April 26 - Scorpio Full Moon - 7 Scorpio - Deep sea divers. The will to explore the hidden depths of all experiences and to search for primordial causes.

May 12 - Taurus New Moon - 22 Taurus - White dove flying over troubled waters. The spiritual inspiration that comes to the individual in the overcoming of crisis.

May 15 - Mercury Stations Retrograde - 10 Gemini - An airplane performing a nosedive. A superior ability to challenge nature and play with danger.

May 25 - Saturn Opposite Pluto - 17 Gemini/Sagittarius - Saturn's degree: The head of a robust youth changes into that of a mature thinker. The transformation of physical reality into the power to build concepts and intellectual formations through which knowledge is transferred. Pluto's degree: An Easter sunrise service draws a large crowd. The culturally stimulated longing for group participation in a process of rebirth.

May 26 - Lunar Eclipse & Full Moon - 6 Sagittarius - A game of cricket. The development of skill in group situations testing collective goals.

June 8 - Mercury Stations Direct - 2 Gemini - Santa Claus furtively filling stockings hanging in front of the fireplace. A rewarded faith in spiritual blessings.

June 10 - Solar Eclipse & New Moon - 20 Gemini - A modern cafeteria displays an abundance of food, products of various regions. The assimilation of multifarious knowledge through the synthesizing power of the mind.

June 21 - Summer Solstice - 1 Cancer - On a ship the sailors lower an old flag and raise a new one. A radical change of allegiance exteriorized in a symbolical act: a point of no return.

June 24 - Lunar Eclipse & Full Moon - 4 Capricorn - A group of people outfitting a large canoe at the start of a journey by water. The ability to use natural resources and basic skills in order to achieve a group purpose.

A note on using the symbols. When looking up a degree, they are not "rounded" in any direction. Rudhyar writes, in a footnote on page 44 of the current edition, "I should make it clear that, if the symbol is referred to the position of a planet in an astrological chart, Cancer 5 degrees begins at Cancer 4 degrees and one second or minute, and ends with Cancer 4 degrees 59 minutes, 59 seconds [which may appear in the chart as Cancer 5 degrees even]; just as the first year (year number 1) of a life begins at birth and ends with the first birthday. We are dealing with a process, and Phase One starts the very moment the process begins." A simpler way to say this is that planets occupy a degree; 8 minutes of Cancer is within the first degree of Cancer. One degree, thirty minutes of Cancer is within the second degree; and so on.

More tomorrow. If you have questions you would like to see addressed in this column, please drop me a note at More info with the new weekly horoscope.

The Right To Exist by Chris Grosso


Tuesday, April 23 | Touched by the Heavens

Today's blog was prompted by a post from Bev, who has an early Gemini ascendant and said she was really feeling these eclipses. Everyone with Gemini or Sagittarius rising will be noticing these eclipses a little more than the rest of us, as will people with a Gemini or Sagittarius Sun or Moon. But let's stick to the rising sign for today. Most Gem or Sag rising people will experience the June 10 solar eclipse in their 1st or 7th house. In astrology, this is called "angular," which is another word for with great awareness. The 1st house is the house of self-identity, covering the self and a variety of self-concepts, like the personality or soul; the 7th is the house of other-identity, i.e., relationships. Eclipses focus energy and prompt us to change. These are the two most basic houses of the lot, and the most sensitive. When stuff happens there, we know about it.

Many with Sagittarius rising - particularly the fist 18 or so degrees - have been undergoing profound rearrangements of who they are, dating back as early as 1995 (the later the degree rising, the more recent the incomprehensible or awesome changes). It's not exactly like who a person is, on the deepest levels, changes casually, or easily, or without a fuss. Pluto in your ascendant is something of a trial by fire, but it also gives you impact, influence, focusing power and, perhaps, a sense of special destiny in everything you are doing. You will push other people to be themselves as you push yourself to be you in a whole new way, and if not, experiences, people and seemingly outer influences will be signed on to do the job for you.

Those with Gemini rising are under the influence of Saturn. Since Saturn moves faster than Pluto, all Gemini rising people will go through a Saturn transit over their ascendant some time between 2001 and 2003, peaking this year, a transit which has many dependable key concepts: restructuring one's life, starting over, clearing out, severing from the past, seriousness, heaviness, a sense of authority, and others.

This coming round of eclipses is like a period of time in which all the Gemini and Sagittarius changes, even going back years, are being summarized by intense and closely-gathered events. One may change very fast and this has an impact on relationships; relationships may change fast and this has an impact on you. If it's about relationships, the best advice I can offer is this: the more you value your relationship, the better you will be served by allowing you and your partner room to grow. It's not necessarily hopeless, though it may feel that way; but if you accept that there are some things you can't change, you will see the ones that may respond to love, effort, and experiences such as counseling. With either Saturn or Pluto active in your chart, just about any astrologer would tell you that time alone, that is, hours, days and maybe weeks on your own, will be really helpful.


Monday, April 22 | Earth Day - Introduction

This is a daily edition of Planet Waves designed to provide astrology updates through the June 10 total solar eclipse. We're in for an interesting adventure for the next six weeks as this eclipse approaches, and knowing as much about astrology as possible will help you not only wend your way through the strangeness, but make the most of it. Surviving is a good thing; having fun is better; being a creative part of your world is the best, that is, if you ask my opinion.

Eclipses are a special breed of astrology, which have a lot in common with getting vacuumed, pushed or catapulted into a whole new reality, a new life, and a new feeling of potential. They are the great thresholds of the everyday world, happening in groups twice a year. (We experienced dramatic eclipses, for example, on Aug. 11, 1999 and June 21, 2001.) The June 10 eclipse, as is explained in my new column, When Worlds Collide, is the major activation point for the Saturn-Pluto opposition we are experiencing, and have been since last summer. This means changes in the world, but it really means inner growth. As we let go of the past, what some call "issues" come up, ones you may have thought you dealt with long ago, but this is usually a good sign. It's better to leave behind what you don't need and don't want, and also to disengage yourself from it in an effective way. People are very attached to their comfort zones, their patterns of normalcy. I understand that these are important and help keep us feeling stable and sane. But I suggest that you seek and find your discomfort zone, a working edge where you are willing to take risks, leave behind familiar territory, question certain long-held assumptions and give yourself a new space within which you can get real.

Today the Moon enters Virgo, and begins a square to the central axis of the eclipse, which is across Gemini-Sagittarius (the Moon's square is exact Tuesday morning). But first it squares Mars this evening, so be prepared for a little surge of energy, anger or discomfort that will clue you in to an important need you may not be acknowledging.

 Keywords and Key Phrases for Eclipses

o The first is concentration of experience. A lot happens in a short time; time itself becomes distorted. This works on an individual level, and on a collective level.

o Events seem karmic or predestined. They may not be, but they certainly seem that way. A lot of how that shapes up depends on your relationship to the ideas of karma and destiny.

o Add some discontinuity. The world always seems to plow forward on its crazy way, and yet nothing ever seems to really change. Life is genuinely different as eclipses approach, and then never quite returns to normal. In the process of the Soul evolution of the planet, and in our individual lives, these events represent critical transition points without which there would be very little progress at all.

o So, another characteristic is a distinct sense of sudden transition. We move from one space of life into another. Personal relationships, including marriages and lover-relationships, are particularly susceptible to rearrangement. The change can be deepening of stronger the relationships, and shake-ups in weaker relationships, many of which are likely to change dramatically.

Anything that's not working with the process of our personal and collective evolution is subject to disruption, and things that are working are subject to growth and challenge.

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