Planet Waves Daily, May 2002


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

Daily Editions from April 2002

Wednesday, May 15 | Mercurious <> Related Article | View chart

At 11:47 am PDT Wednesday, Mercury does its most famous move: it turns retrograde. This whole retrograde business is a big part of the mythology of the winged god's planet, you know, the messenger carrying news back and forth between the gods, stopping on a dime, turning around, and doing it again three weeks later. In honor, have the word mercurial, which means fast-changing and a bit mysterious -- some describe Bob Dylan, a Gemini messenger, this way.

We also have the metallic element mercury, which you can't pick up with your hands. It eludes our grasp. Element mercury is unique: the only metal that's a liquid at room temperature. On the periodic table it's in the same neighborhood as gold (Au, or aurum metallicum) and silver (Ag, argentum). Mercury, (Hg, or hydrargyrum, which translates to liquid silver) is element 80. Unlike gold, it is extremely toxic -- part of the reason why gold is so precious is that it is, at full strength, medically inert. Silver is pretty non-toxic as well, but it's neither as rare, as durable, nor as heavy, as gold. And silver is more reactive; it oxidizes, making it medically unstable.

Mercury, the metal, is extremely stable, but it's also neurotoxic, that is, damaging to the nervous system, and it's xenoestrogenic, like dioxin: it is hormonally toxic, but not a hormone. If you can afford to, you can get it out of your teeth; composite fillings work well and don't poison you nearly as seriously. Some people say they feel better immediately after getting the amalgum fillings out of their mouths.

In the literature of homeopathy, which is like a combination of medical science, alchemy and astrology, we learn some interesting things about this substance. When made into a homeopathic drug (accomplished by diluting it many thousands of times, and thus revealing its deep inner properties while rendering it nontoxic) we find that its main feeling associated with people in a mercury state "is that of being dominated, suppressed or contradicted by an extremely dictatorial authority. The only solution in such a situation is to either get away from or revolt against this domination," writes Rajan Sankaran, the warm, brilliant Indian homeopathic doctor. He adds that its condition is rather desperate, with people feeling that everyone is an enemy; ultimately, such a patient can become very destructive and self-destructive. "Mercurius and many of its salts have a hurry, an impatience, a speed," he adds, with patients needing the remedy sometimes stammering and tripping over their words.

In everyday life, we associate mercury with the mass media: no surprise. Is not television a domineering assault on the nervous system? Does it not make everyone out to be an enemy? Do we not need to revolt or get out of the way? And it's interesting, and sad, how much of our total communication is reduced to this kind of battle-like fervor or legal banter. Most people can barely recite six lines of a poem, but we can cite chapter and verse of the rules we must live and do business by.

When Mercury, the planet and astrological player, goes retrograde, it appears to stop in its movement forward, slows down, pause, and reverse itself. The slowdown and pause lasts about a week (in its most intense phase). We can't see it happen because Mercury is too close to the Sun, so we watch it in the planetary tables; we watch it happen as math, an abstraction for which we can thank the Arab scholars, who also gave us much of our astrology. Mercury is actually passing between the Earth and the Sun when it does this trick of stopping and reversing; it is moving faster than us, so for a moment, as it approaches, it appears to be moving at the same speed, then, as it overtakes us, it appears to be going backwards. Like two cars on a highway moving at 70 mph next to one another, for a moment, both seem stationary.

When Mercury is in this condition, it is rather powerful, and we need to kiss its ass. We do that by slowing down, honoring communications, speaking clearly, listening and working carefully. We can honor the fact that the dataflow increases and we need to leave ourselves available to handle it. We do it by conserving time and money: all things that flow. Here is a chart for the exact time of the station (cast in Star Sprite, a chart animation program), which is fairly typical of the charts I use to write the horoscope column.

We could say a lot about this chart, but immediately I notice that Juno is rising. She is one potent asteroid, shaped like a little star with the cross below, and in chart after chart these days, I see her in the ascendant. Any clues out there?

Venus and Mars make trines to Uranus (Prometheus) and asteroid Pallas Athene, which is good for love and sex as long as you're not too hung up on being able to plan everything, or if your plans have many possibilities: the translation into English is "strategy for spontaneous opportunity." Mercury itself is stationing trine Neptune, thankfully (last time around, it was conjunct Neptune and that was too much Neptune even for his nephew, your writer). But note how the retrograde starts at 9 degrees Gemini and 59 minutes, just short of Neptune's position of 10 degrees Aquarius and 59 minutes. Air sign to air sign means it's a trine. The degrees tell you how close the trine is. The station says it hasn't gotten there yet, and won't coss Neptune's degree for more than a month -- astrologers use events like that to make up stories which you read in the horoscopes. However, I assure you, today's featured link is much more interesting.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
Top 12 Female Fantasies


Tuesday, May 14 | Nuclear Miracles

For those of you say your prayers, please toss in a good one for the world's nuclear power plants and nuclear arsenal. I did a piece on StarIQ a couple of years back, tipped off by a Deadhead client who is an excellent research astrologer in his own right. He told me that there's a clear pattern to the astrology of nuclear accidents; I checked; it's a pretty good theory. This thing called the nuclear axis is a fairly narrow degree range in the zodiac where, when things to wrong, there are usually planets gathering about its vicinity. And that's surely the case now, with Mercury retrograde right in those very degrees, and with an eclipse coming nearby.

The problem with the nuclear issue is that people don't think about it unless a power plant is melting down. But there are problems all the time; we just don't hear about them, though Matt Groening has not let us forget the truth for a single episode of The Simpsons. This article by Peter Montague tells the story of a fairly average year, 1993. All that has really happened since is that the industry is enjoying something of a philosophical rebirth. The Bush administration, enemies of all things living, has been pushing for a nuclear power revival since taking office, despite the fact that it theoretically competes with his oil interests. Who cares? At least we won't have to deal with solar, wind or tidal power.

I would say it's been a miracle, or thousands of miracles, that we have not seen much action on the world's nuclear front. But of course, the good thing about nuclear disasters is that each one is a major setback for the industry.

As for nukes, the bomb kind. So speaking of miracles. The problem with bombs is they were designed to explode. Put them in the hands of stupid people and, well, you know, you never know. Early in my studies of A Course in Miracles, I was assured by my first teacher, Jim, that there were people on the planet aligned with spirit closely enough to prevent that kind of thing from happening. It helped that I could feel the reality of what he was saying, and allowed me to never really seriously entertain the possibility. Though that's never been a good enough excuse not to raise awareness when I have the chance to do so, and I have never forgotten Chernobyl, or another miracle known as Three Mile Island, which was, apparently, a far worse disaster than we were ever told. Miracle? It could have been worse. And it all but shut down the growth of the nuclear industry for a quarter century.

So, as usual, we humans are in a bind. The nation's nuclear plants are aging. But there is no anti-nuclear mass movement, to speak of, in the US. (Germany, which has a powerful Green movement, has agreed to phase out all nuclear power plants.) We seem to need a major nuclear disaster to get us off our asses. Not good. We don't need one because very little of that stuff causes a lot of people and critters a lot of damage in a lot of places. We can address both needs by paying attention to the issue. We can raise hues and cries with our elected officials and our power companies. We can say no to nukes.

And we can hold the space of the structure of matter remaining intact. The nuclear divide, the atom split, was an unholy breach in the fabric of reality that should never have happened. The people who are devoted to making that breach wider seem to be caught in the thrall or spell of an evil force and cannot see reality for the light of day. Awareness, and love for the living things of the Earth, are about all that can save us, if we're lucky. Might as well try, right?

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
Sweet Orgasm | by Vicki


Monday, May 13 | A Fish Story

We think of fish tanks as being pretty artificial: they are made of plastic, glass and powered by electricity. But in reality, they are enclosed ecological systems, where many of the cycles of nature take over and, in a most everyday miracle, the biological process just happens in a new corner of the universe. If a tank is large enough (usually 30-40 gallons or more) this process can be extremely stable and with minimal maintenance, it takes care of itself.

The most important part of that process in an aquarium is called the nitrogen cycle. Fish waste contains ammonia, which, once a tank is mature, is converted by ammonia-fed bacteria into highly toxic nitrite, which is then converted by other bacteria into a far less toxic compound called nitrate. The nitrate is either absorbed by plants or diffuses off as nitrogen gas. All of this works well if the tank is built up fairly slowly, and in balance -- not too many fish, or too much food, for example, and good filters that encourage biological process (such as AquaClear).

One of my tanks is 29 gallons, heavily planted and usually a lush little paradise for the rasboras and tetras who live there. But with plants come snail eggs, and the tank became infested. After a while I wanted to do something about the infestation, which was pretty harmless by itself, but which was just a little gross. Snail infestations, I've heard, usually stay in balance with the food supply. But I wanted to do something, and this seems to have caused the whole problem.

Instead of adding poison to the water, I added a pair of funny, scaleless little fish in the eel family called clown loaches, which eat snails. And they went to town. About a week and half passed, and Saturday, I noticed that one of the red phantom tetras, this beautiful clear red fish, serious and proud-looking when healthy, with a high, black dorsal fin, was covered with white spots, called ich, and really struggling. I could not find his cohorts; they were dead. Ich, or ichthyophthirius, a protozoan parasite that takes over when water gets unhealthy, had suffocated them. An entire species had been wiped out of that little world.

The health of fish and the health of water are one reality; they form a continuous environment, a single system, just like people and their environment, but we don't tend to notice it so much in our own world, or we deny it.

I tested the water. I got a nitrite hit of about .5 to 1 part per million, not screaming hot, but I don't trust the test any more except as a yes or no indicator. This is because I had to do so many water changes to get the level down to nondetect, the math didn't add up. In any event, any detectable nitrite is a problem. I had never seen nitrites in this tank, and it had been so stable that I had not tested for a couple of weeks. The first thing to do was start changing out water (using warmed reverse osmosis water) till the level got down to below measurable, and also increase the temperature, since ich can't live above 85 degrees or so. Most of the other fish looked fairly good, considering the problem: all the rasboras, a few black neon tetras, the flying foxes, and the loaches were at least alive and moving. Two blue tetras, feisty little guys, looked a bit dull, and I could not find the third. It seemed that the weakest species, the phantoms, had been the canaries in the coal mine.

But nothing in the tank or community seemed normal; all the fish were huddled around the filter outflows, and the tank, once vibrant and happy, seemed like it had a pall over it.

I still had no idea what happened. I just did what I could to improve the situation without doing anything too radical. Then I got a theory. The one recent significant change I had made to the tank was adding the clown loaches. This turned hundreds of tiny snails in the tank into food; it made them bioavailable within the nitrogen cycle faster than the nitrifying bacteria could break them down. My theory was that the loaches ate a bunch of snails, which them turned to nitrites, which made the tank sick. When I went to the Seattle Fish Store yesterday to get supplies and medication, that theory turned out to be true.

Another factor that may have played into the situation was that I had run out of an additive to the water that puts in available carbon for the plants to eat, which fuels their life cycle and allows the water to be oxygenated while nitrogen waste is consumed. This process had, I presume, slowed down somewhat due to the carbon shortage, though I am not sure it would have made a much of a difference.

Meanwhile, I really missed those red phantom tetras, holding their territory between two rocks, fending off other fish, and doing their thing, and I felt horrible that my neglect or ignorance had killed them. Then I started thinking about the enclosed ecosystem known as the Earth. I told the story to a friend and he said, it sounds like whales and PCBs; the whales are getting wiped out by PCBs, which have been dumped into the environment by Monsanto and other companies since the early 1930s. However, PCBs do something really fancy. They don't just concentrate or accumulate like nitrites. They biomagnify as they move up the food chain. A few parts per trillion in ocean water can become hundreds of parts per million in the fat of a bird that eats the fish -- an increase of concentration of hundreds of thousands -- and in one really sad case, 40% of the brain of an aquatic bird was pure PCBs. The levels grow exponentially with each layer of the food chain.

Humans are at the top of the food chain. Dozens of PCBs and dioxins can be found in your breasts, blood, and breast milk, and nobody is exempt, since there are many millions of molecules of PCBs in each breath of air we take. The highest dose of PCBs that a child gets is from mother's milk -- and yet for many other reasons, breast feeding is still usually far better than bottle feeding.

Men, your sperm count is one-half what your grandfather's was. If that trend continues down the generations, how long till there is a massive epidemic of sterility? This is due to what's called the feminizing effect of PCBs and dioxin-like compounds, all of which act like the female sex hormone, estrogen. And unlike nitrites, PCBs don't break down in nature. They are super-durable compounds (made mostly of carbon and chlorine - yum) that were designed for their staying power in electrical and hydraulic systems. Now, millions of pounds are playing havoc in our rivers and oceans, as they have been since the 1930s. But this information was covered up by the manufacturers, Monsanto, GE, and Westinghouse, among others.

And, there are literally thousands of other ways in which the delicate ecological system of the Earth is under heavy strain: from the buildup of heat, from the buildup of carbon dioxide, from the thinning of the ozone, which acts as a filter that blocks the toxic wavelengths of solar light, and by the disruption of many, many life processes that keep the whole system in balance -- the Amazon rain forests, to name one, which are a crucial part of the Earth's immune system.

Back to the 29 gallon aquarium in my office. Things seem to have stabilized. I've added a half-dose of a highly recommended medication, after a talk with the company to check whether they thought it was safe for clown loaches (which, lacking scales, can't tolerate much of the medication). Currently they are the sickest fish in there at the moment, but I have faith that they'll pull through.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
Women Observing Men | by various authors


Friday, May 10 | Mothers Day

I grew up, and have spent my adult life, in an usual situation with my mother, whose own personal legacy prevented her from bringing her full presence to our relationship. In effect, she was absent, and it's taken me an enormous number of conversations with women and listening to how they feel about their children to appreciate the depth of commitment that it takes to be a mother. I am still not sure I totally get it.

Perhaps as a result of her situation, I have had many women in my life who have done a small or large part of the job of mother: who have treated me with devotion, generosity and a sense of assurance that I belong on the planet. There was Aunt Josie, my Godmother (1904-1994), whose door was always open to me, and whose chicken and rice was always on the table. There is Carol van Strum, a dioxin freak down in Oregon who adopted my investigative reporting career and, apparanely, me, who has been a fountain of love, acceptance and inspiration as we have spent a decade laughing at Monsanto et al. There have been mentors, teachers and friends.

There have been many lovers, all of whom tried to do a little piece of the job, sometimes to their peril. And today, there are some very fine women in my life, who I can say with full certainty truly love me. You see some of their names above articles and beneath artwork on this web site.

There are men who filled in vast portions of what was missing: my first therapist and mentor in my work, Joseph Trusso, who helped me set up a guardrail in my life, and taught me the basics of survival in this world. There is my Hakomi therapist, David Cole, who is teaching me that, on the deepest emotional levels, I don't need to go it alone, or be a victim of anything that has happened to me. His teacher, Ron Kurtz, figured out that healing does not need to be painful or especially complicated, among a few other brilliant revelations that qualify him for a Mother of the Century award. I have met many of the therapists he has trained, and they are all amazing. They are doing so much of the teaching and loving that was missing in the parenting that many of us had.

There is my father, who unceremoniously loves me, and who provided a stone on which to sharpen my blade. We can thank him for my obsession with media, for putting me through college, and much of the Aquarian energy you feel pulsing out of my writing.

Oh! I almost forgot. There are the kind, righteous men who have been my lawyers. I must tell these histories some day, but good lawyers are very special mothers, keeping the world safe for journalists who work on the Lunatic Fringe, among them, Michael Sussman and Alan Sussman, clever, compassionate and uncompromising civil rights attorneys, to name two.

I have a deep debt of gratitude for what my birth mother did offer, in the constructive sense. She insisted that I be a self-directed person, and that I take up the power of choice. She opened the way for me to be a cultured man, which meant, as a child, many Broadway shows, Gilbert and Sullivan light operas, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company at Lincoln Center. She gave me free run of the kitchen, and encouraged what was my first serious choice of profession, to be a chef. She set an example of somewhat blind ambition, and thankfully, I am a Pisces, but at least I am motivated.

As honestly as I can tell you, I have always known how to love, though the learning never stops. My real challenge has been learning to accept love, in the words of Hakomi therapy, to take in nourishment, and hence, gradually learn how not to feel like an alien or outcast in this world. A big project, but as they come, it's not a bad way to spend a lifetime.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
Selfloving Credo | by Dr. Betty Dodson


Thursday, May 9 | Awakening

"It is exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful. This awakening of dead or sleeping consciousness has already affected the lives of millions of women, even those who don't know it yet. It is also affecting the lives of men, even those who deny its claims upon them."

-- The poet Adrienne Rich, from her essay, "When We Dead Awaken," 1971

How do these words feel to you? What do they evoke? Can you relate to the idea of being alive in a time of awakening consciousness?

Have you ever considered our era to be something akin to that? By all rights, it should be. Based on pure necessity, it must be. But I am not so sure. Awakening consciousness is relative. In any given time in history, there are always some people who are really paying attention, who see through the sham, who get the cosmic joke, and witness the brilliance of reality for what it is. There are always a few awesome artists, virtuoso musicians, and impassioned poets, though they eat more or less well. There are always some people who work for progress even in the darkest times, and there are always some people who are leading lives devoted to clarity, creative process, healing and the freeing of the spirit.

When Adrienne Rich wrote those words, just two years before winning the National Book Award for her poem about gender identity, Diving Into the Wreck, awakening was resounding through our culture like a burst of predawn thunder can jolt an entire town. The people of that era were confronted by a force so powerful it was impossible to ignore: of changing power structures (young people would soon stop the Vietnam War), changing gender roles (many -- though not all -- women were no longer content to merely be wives and homemakers, and were demanding a measure of equality with their husbands and male coworkers), the Civil Rights movement was making continued progress through a series of major victories before the US Supreme Court (Roe v. Wade would guarantee the next two generations of women the right to reproductive freedom), and academic institutions were compelled to bring curricula into the modern world, among many, many other changes.

Today, we are accustomed to things getting worse and worse or, if all you do is eat Doritos and watch television, exponentially better. I mean, it's a great time for sports lovers. This is an awesome moment in history if you're into fashion. If television is your thing, baby you got it. If you're a fundamentalist Christian, you live in the most exciting time ever, a moment when you can really have the feeling of the long-awaited End Days. If you're into hard drugs, this is a brilliant era. There have never been better or more plentiful white powders to choose from.

If you are into trivial politics, oh man, you hit the jackpot.

And if you love love love nonstop violence with an unquenchable passion, this is, no doubt, your finest moment of all your incarnations.

Okay, there have never been Macintosh G4s before, and the Internet is very, very cool, but near-global starvation and poverty feels like a high price to pay.

Yet our current era is a true historical threshold. The events of last fall were part of a much larger process which you may have been reading about on this web page, StarIQ and others. We are witnessing the consolidation of power by major corporations at an unprecedented pace, we are witnessing the crumbling of individual privacy, and we are, by our nation's actions abroad and at home, courting a wave of terrorism that will make Israel look like Disneyland. If we are in a moment of cultural awakening, we're begging for pain as our alarm clock.

On an individual level, the level of the individual life -- your life -- it need not work this way. The planets are moving through just about every personal horoscope in a way that is pulling us to consciousness, forcing us to mature, or compelling us to get with the moment and experience our lives for real, probably all three. The problem is that when we wake up, we wake up to how messed up our world is, and we wake up to a lot of sleeping people around us who seem not to want to be roused. We wake up to the reality that, projecting into the future a bit, it's not so hard to look back on our time as a time of collapse, of that final moment when environmental disaster could have been averted, but people felt powerless in the face of the corporations that run their lives and control the government. It could have been a moment of great creative potential, if we only woke up to how great that creative potential was, and if we were willing to let go of some of our shabby ideas about life. We could have done so much, if only we quit the job we hate. We could have felt so free, if only we admitted to loving that person. It could have been a great moment of healing, if only we had sought out help.

There is still time.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
One Love | by our Elle McKenzie at Planet Waves


Wednesday, May 8 | A Wannabe Journal

In recent weeks, the theme of nudism has been vibrating on the Planet Waves list. Nakedan, a nudist-mystic, Cassia, a nudist priestess, and Brittany, who is presently dressed, have been discussing so much of nothing. Brittany, apparently, is planning to peel it off somewhere for the first time, and wants to hear some first-time stories. I wrote one version of my first adult experience of public nudity, then remembered that I have a clip from a little book of poems called "Wannabe" that I published for Dead tour in 1988. I had been sent to Ft. Collins to cover the Anheuser-Busch brewery opening, met Auggie 3d, met the Clydesdales, ate the food, drank the beer, got the story and, having completed my three-hour assignment, headed off to my free weekend in the Rockies. Oh dear sweet capitalism, wherefore art thou?

Anyway - I was going to write something about The Planets, but what follows is quite about The Planets, Today, as Venus and Mars continue to pass through the Saturn-Pluto opposition and we get to Get Real About Venus and Mars. It's called A Wannabe Journal. A factual note: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. People from Brooklyn don't [usually] like to be confused with [...and Hello to everyone in New Jersey!!]...

FT. COLLINS, CO., Recently [Summer 1988, Year of the Dragon] -- Looking out over magnificent Horsetooth Reservoir and wondering why the hell I live in Plainfield, New Jersey.

For a while now I've been laying out in the sunshine on this rock perched high above the reservoir. Speedboats and sailboats look like some giant's toys in the water far below. Beautiful clear day, but it's like, I'm a little tense. Trying to write, be creative. Can't really make it flow. We artsy types have to go through this kind of thing, in case you didn't know. It's part of evolution.

By and by, I begin to hear a pair of voices below me, a guy and a girl just rapping along about nothing much. The weather, tan lines, you know, small talk. Very friendly, swearing occasionally. There's a male and a female voice. I drift in and out of sleep, escorting the occasional red ant from my belly. Some time later, just mildly curious, I sit up and look down in the direction of the voices. About 70 feet down the cliff and just as far to my right, a pair of people are out on this enormous boulder. The guy is wearing shorts and a headband and shades. The gal, sitting about five feet away from him, is glistening gold and blonde in the sun, wearing nothing more than God gave her.


I lay back down again. It's impolite to stare. But no doubt you'd agree that such a sight would jar the imagination a bit. It takes no more than a minute to give into the temptation to take another visual drink from what, for a Jersey boy, is a rather unique and marvelous vision. I steal another gaze. Now she's lying on her back, naked as the rest of the wilderness and glistening with a coat of suntan oil. But it's more than a red-blooded boy can stand to look at for very long, so I lay back down on my little rock.

Suddenly I begin to feel very... dressed. I'm sunning with my shirt off, yes, and my sneakers and socks wildly abandoned beside me, but wearing a pair of gray cotton trousers and my Ray-Ban Secret Service sunglasses. Very, um, Colorado. Just hangin' loose, I is. Suddenly I start to feel... silly. The next thing I hear is a voice in my mind, this reasonable, calm, and unemotional voice, a voice that is always correct, say to me, "If she can do it, you can."

It's true as usual. Nobody would even notice me, with her within 70 feet.

Being an easterner, however, I still associated nakedness in public with something you get arrested for. The only other time I ever saw nakedness in public was a flasher in the subway, getting arrested. I realize this is somehow different, but, you know, I'm socialized. The voice reminds me that if the cops take some kind of action, me and she are going to jail together.

I strip down to macrame, unelegantly, but, for sure, naked. Wow. Feels as natural as that water down there, and suddenly it becomes obvious: I'm not a Wannabe any more. I've done something real. I've crossed one more bridge and I'm furthur on my way. The sun and the wind, the feeling, simply amazing.

In the next scene, I am cruising through the mountains at 60 mph on the back of a motorcycle... Then I get that Feeling again, that Divine reflection, as we're riding along in search of some canyon. A glorious search, and I'm getting that glorious feeling again. The trees start to look especially... back-lit. The sky, through my Secret Service Ray-Bans, is this deep, gentle, blue green. I look out and see the trees as individual beings, the grass as communities of beings, the tan and bay and black horses as my sisters and brothers. Cows look up lazily at us as the bike roars past. The Feeling. It comes with the experience of total trust...I'm just totally mellow, breeze in my hair, amazed.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
The Other Sex | at


Tuesday, May 7 | Saturn, Venus, Mars

What is now happening is that the inner or personal planets Venus and Mars are in the process of crossing the position of Saturn. In sunnier climates than Seattle, this is making a spectacular show in the evening sky, in the west, involving the five visible planets. Venus and Mars are our closest neighbors, both in space and in consciousness. They are visceral. We can feel them. They are, together, the planets of sex, love, lust, desire, value and beauty; they are the planets of love and war, if you care to polarize them that way; they are the feelings of desire and of being desired (Mars and Venus respectively, though Mars is pretty desirable and Venus can rage with yearning that can blow by Mars and knock him over -- this we all know, when we're not pretending -- women are hornier than men).

Saturn is involved. As I write, Venus is in a conjunction exact to one-twentieth of a degree. Saturn and Venus are perceived by Western astrologers as being some kind of enemies. But the Eastern astrologers know that they are not: Both planets are involved in the rulership of Libra (Venus as its ruler, Saturn as being exalted in that sign). The two have a strong affinity for one another, relating to an air sign: and they are now in Gemini, another air sign.

Traditionally viewed as the lord of structures, limitations, building processes, and of tradition, the past and death, Saturn serves as a boundary of reality, a membrane between the psychological and the psychic, between the psychic and the psychotic. He is a reality test, moreso than reality.

One of my friends, an astrologer for many more years than I, described this situation as the planets crashing into Saturn, and many astrologers view it that way. But the image doesn't work for me: Venus and Mars crash into Saturn only if you forget that they are far closer to the Sun, and are passing Saturn on the inside curve, and as they do so, passing through the opposition between Saturn and Pluto that is defining our current epoch and our present generation. Personal planets are coming through the experience of what we think of as less personal ones, and this is the meeting is of the individuated mind and emotions with the sense of something much more vast. Whatever you are going through, no matter how personal it seems, it is part of something much larger: trust that.

The feeling, to me, is that Saturn and Pluto are acting more like a filter, like a purification process or a trial by fire. We are really getting to feel what it's like to experience Venus and Mars in a let's say enhanced way, without the possibility of denial that we so often carry around where these hot, lusty energies are concerned. The veils of denial are falling from the world. We are telling ourselves what we would not dare to say before. We are also hearing long-concealed truths (in the news, for example) that we have not heard spoken, but have known for decades (everything from the priest scandals to the death of frogs from pesticides).

We have an opportunity to experience how magnificent and how horrible life is, and we seem to have a choice between the two in many moments, a choice that may leave us wondering why it's not always so simple.

In a few days, Venus and Mars make a rare exact conjunction, called an occulation. Having passed through the test of Saturn opposite Pluto, the gods of desire come together with perfect exactitude, the sexual polar opposites in the highly polarized, extremely kinky -- perhaps the kinkiest -- sign of the zodiac, Gemini. We shall see what we shall feel.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
How to Dance by Giovan


Monday, May 6 | Pisces Moon

As a writer who invests most of my energy exploring what you could call the light side, preferring not to indulge my craft or my mind in pain and misery and selling Pepsi, I recognize there is something missing. It may be that my awareness of how difficult life can be for us, how frightening, how uncertain, and how lonely, comes through the background of what I am describing, since I am working to both create and convey a solution to something. And that something must be something. There is a reason we need healing.

My own life can have an incredibly alienated feeling many times, and the sense of lost love that I feel here can make me feel like I'm as far from God's creation as you can get. I can look at the world and it seems like the strangest place I've ever seen, though I don't remember seeing any other. And I know there are no easy answers, just steps we can take to get us from one point along the journey to the next, and ideas we can consider that help us see and feel ourselves and the world in more honest colors. And I know that if we get together and make the choice to offer friendship and healing to one another, it can really make a difference.

How easily we forget one another.

I would like to think we forget others because we take care of ourselves so well, but our culture's nonstop drive to alienate us from ourselves and one another, and our confusion of selfishness with self-awareness, really takes us to no-where. In truth, taking care of ourselves has a strong feeling of taking care of everyone around us without a sense of sacrifice, or one leads directly to the next, at the least. But when we forget our own souls, when we take up the belief that life is cruel, alienating, and a kind of prison, we abandon ourselves and everyone we love, and everyone who loves us, and people do love us.

When we forget that people love us, we abandon them. Of all the things I can tell you for sure about this life, I can tell you this with full certainty: we're not going to make it here alone. But to really be open to others, we need to be open to ourselves. It may seem like a paradox.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
How to Be Your Own Lover at


Friday, May 3 | Weekend Update

Today, Mars exactly conjoins Saturn in Gemini at 10:57 pm Pacific Time. This is usually considered a stressful aspect, but Gemini changes everything, adding dimensions of flexibility, thought, ideas and this sign's particular variety of dualism that allows us to consider two very different sides of a situation or concept, even it they totally contradict.

Writes Phil Sedgwick in today's Galactic Times, "Mars and Saturn, if you're watching the early evening sky, can be seen coming together in an awesome five planet parade. Venus, Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter all provide us with a cosmically inspiring visual feast of the order of the Universe. Yes, indeed, Saturn insists upon order. Mars adds his hot iron so that even his temper can be forged into something malleable and useful. This is a strong time. Order and structure prevail as dominating thoughts. Most people abundantly think about how the monumental goals and tasks can be invoked."

The Moon entered airy, energized Aquarius last night, and will be aspecting the Gemini alignment in a trine for two days. Trines are associated with the ease of expression, and the ease of doing nothing. They are largely potentials, opportunities that can be seized upon where clarity and intention are present, and this configuration holds solid as the Moon exactly trines Saturn-Mars Saturday morning, then makes a useful, clear-headed sextile to Pluto and the Lunar Nodes later in the day.

The upshot is that, through this Beltane weekend, there is amazing opportunity for awareness, progress and fun, on important goals as well as transient ones. The Sun reaches the exact midpoint of Taurus at 9:37 am on Sunday, May 5. Enjoy. Back Monday.

In the previous version of today's daily blog, I mentioned a book called The Architects of Time, on the asteroids and the school of Uranian astrology, by Martha Wescott, which is available at I am including a song which includes the title in its lyrics.

"History Will Teach Us Nothing"

By Sting

If we seek solace in the prisons of the distant past
Security in human systems we're told will always always last
Emotions are the sail and blind faith is the mast
Without a breath of real freedom we're getting nowhere fast

If God is dead and an actor plays his part
His words of fear will find their way to a place in your heart
Without the voice of reason every faith is its own curse
Without freedom from the past things can only get worse

Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away

History will teach us nothing
History will teach us nothing

Our written history is a catalogue of crime
The sordid and the powerful, the architects of time
The mother of invention, the oppression of the mild
The constant fear of scarcity, aggression as its child

Sooner or later
Sooner or later
Sooner or later
Sooner or later

Convince an enemy, convince him that he's wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing

Sooner or later the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away

History will teach us nothing
History will teach us nothing

Know you human rights
Be what you come here for
Know your human rights
Be what you come here for
Know your human rights
Be what you come here for
Know your human rights
Be what you come here for

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
Babysitting Can Be Fun at Solo, by an anonymous writer


Thursday, May 2 | Doom and Gloom

I am aware that lots of you are surfing the web looking for some explanations of the intense astrology that is unfolding in Gemini (explained a bit more clearly atop the current weekly horoscope), and across the Gemini-Sagittarius axis. I am aware that not all of what you're reading is so pretty. I am aware of end-of-the world-type stuff, of predictions of massive personal hassles, and assorted visions of pestilence and global strife being proffered by some of my esteemed colleagues.

And I am also aware that astrology works.

But just how astrology works is the best reason why, I think, that we need to stay away from predictions of doom and gloom, just like we need to stop watching television and packing our precious minds with the constant jabber and insulting nonsense that is the embarrassment that is known as corporate commercial radio. This is all my opinion, okay? And I'm really opinionated, but here is what I think. I think that if we take on all those mental poisons, we get sick, and sick just translates to miserable and stupid. What is known as the mass media is an indoctrination process designed to keep you in line, shut you down and get your money, while offering you nothing in return for your loyalty. There is so little interest in the truth that any offering of truth there happens to be counts as part of the overall fraud of the rest of it, you know, a little reality mixed in to keep up some appearance of credibility and give the lies flavor.

But there is something far worse that happens in this process. What is known as the media substitutes for your precious imagination, and, in time, all but destroys it. Fortunately, imaginations come back to life with a little nurturing, playing with Tarot cards, and drawing with crayons. Lacking imaginations, or lacking access to our imaginations, we lose the ability to envision better, saner lives for ourselves. We infuse our minds with toxins that engender flares of paranoia and the constant drone of lurking fear. We forget why we are alive. Our priorities become centered around things and not people. They become centered on meeting our 'obligations' to the marketing culture instead of living authentically richer lives, something that can be done for surprisingly little money and modest effort.

All this planetary action in Gemini tells me that the mental plane is astonishingly fertile with ideas and possibilities for self-entertainment, not to mention making our lives, and our world, a better place to live. If you've never tried it, perhaps, you know, put your television in the closet, and see how you feel a month later. But as for astrology: please remember that it is a visioning process. What astrologers vision has the power to become real, if you allow it to take root in your mind. We can see the highest possibilities, or the lowest. We can see just the problems, or we can see the solutions as well. We can see fear, or love, and there is -- fortunately -- nothing in between.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
The Virgin Masturbators at


Wednesday, May 1 | Masturbation Month

At Planet Waves, every month is Masturbation Month; we are part of a growing international conspiracy to break the silence and wash away the ignorance and shame that surrounds this most basic expression of our sexuality, and hence, of love and life. But in the United States, May has been declared the Month of Masturbation, rather successfully, by our Jill-Off buddies down at Good Vibrations in San Fran and Berkeley. This event happens with the Sun in the sign Taurus, which is a pretty good astrological symbol for selflove. I recently checked: none of the original organizers had astrology in mind when they set the date.

I write a lot about masturbation on this web page, and for others, and I encourage our writers to do the same. This is primarily an astrology site, and since astrology is about the basics of personal growth, I speak openly about the subject at places like astrology conferences. The world knows this web site is somewhere to read about, and talk about, the subject in an enlightened, educated way. I count Betty Dodson among my most important astrology teachers. Didn't know she was an astrologer? She's not -- she has me for that. She's an orgasm coach, writer, lecturer and filmmaker, and has single-handedly waged a masturbation revolution for the past 30 years. In the spirit of Betty's work, I also conduct workshops (really, playshops) on the theme of selfgiven pleasure at least once each year, and encourage a spirit of openness and wholeness on the subject among my friends and lovers.

But why?

Because I know something. Because I have discovered something. Because it's obvious. Masturbation is the universal sexual language, and our greatest common denominator. Masturbation transcends gender and sexual orientation, and is a primal human experience. Masturbation is real.

But then there is the issue of the freedom we seek. At the core of all sexual shame and repression is a taboo on selfpleasure. We need to clear our shame and repression not just so that we can experience erotic joy, but so that we can experience life. We can pussy foot, we can try to touch the issue of the erotic crisis with a ten-foot pole, we can 'do the nasty' all we want and hope we get free. We can look critically at religious morals. But so far as I have done the calculus and lived through life and explored the bounds of reality, the most direct way to erotic freedom is to embrace the sex we have with ourselves. I suggest we do so lovingly, openly, creatively and with a spirit of adventure. Openly? That is what I said. I propose that we end the ridiculous secrecy and denial with which masturbation is shrouded. I suggest we heal the pain and loneliness so many of us experience. I suggest we talk about masturbation, write about it, and, when appropriate, actually do it with our lovers and friends.

With our lovers? And friends? Yes. Please: speak up if you want to share your experiences in this area of life. Masturbating together is liberating. It is honest. It is a free, shameless and celebratory way to acknowledge our sexuality. It is a way to be sexual without implying Kommitment, without risking pregnancy or disease, and yet fully honoring ourselves, and honoring our beloveds. Masturbating together enhances the psychic, emotional, visual and auditory aspects of sexuality, which are often forgotten in sexual exchanges. It cuts us loose from bonds we didn't know we were wrapped and trapped in, and is an easy, available way to facilitate something we're all working on -- sexual healing.

And after few experiences of masturbating together, your solo practice will take on a whole new dimension -- as will your expression of contact sex.

I also suggest we make art and theater about masturbation, photograph it and record it, and remind ourselves that this is an amazing, profound and very real way to share and celebrate sexuality.

Through the month of May, I will include a Masturbation Link of the Day with this daily essay. Please send in your suggestions, which I will eventually compile into a single web link.

Our Featured Masturbation Month Link du Jour
The Masturbation Hall of Fame

 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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