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Christopher McGregor at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, mid-1990s, after video taping Eric Francis interviw Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt. Photo by Eric Francis.
The Emperor's Full Moon
By Eric Francis
Planet Waves Weekly

If you plant ice, you're gonna harvest wind.
-- Robert Hunter, "Franklin's Tower"

I am not a nice person.
-- Laurie Anderson, to an obscene caller

BACK IN the mid-90s, I found myself temporarily banished from the State University of New York campus in New Paltz, having pissed off some state officials with my reporting about PCBs and dioxins. One morning during this phase of my journalistic struggle, I was having breakfast in the Gay 90s Bistro, when a man, bearded, dark blond and a few years older than me, walked over to my table and extended his hand, warmly congratulating me for being the persona non grata (that was my official title). His demeanor was sincere, friendly and a little formal, his voice basso. Christopher McGregor turned out to be one of the best friends I've ever known, offering loyalty and integrity that seemed go back centuries. He is one of many unusually significant people in my life who have the Capricorn moon. I did not know it at the time we met; I finally saw his natal horoscope last year.

Chris was in a political struggle of his own in those days, facing multiple felony charges for allegedly beating up two police officers -- charges for which he stood trial, defending himself before a judge and jury, and of which he was finally cleared because he proved the cops' story was so obviously a fabrication. (His real crime was to challenge the validity of the state Vehicle and Traffic Law in legal papers he had recently submitted, for which his unlawful arrest was ordered by a judge.) A person of weaker character, of lower integrity and of less passionate contact with the reality of his own soul would almost surely have gone to state prison for ten years. And largely thanks to Chris's unflinching support, and the imaginative power of his self-trained legal mind, I succeeded in my federal lawsuit against the State of New York for their transgressions against my First Amendment rights.

Working night after night with Chris on both of our cases, the law became a mystical experience and an adventure in the history of consciousness. This is the essence of Capricorn. Capricorn at its best takes the spiritual themes of Sagittarius and structures them in such a way that they become accessible and functional -- religion as opposed to spirituality; nations as opposed to tribes; corporations as opposed to individuals trading or bartering. When this process goes too far, we end up with authoritarian dogma, in the form of evangelists, fundamentalists and tyrants. Blended in the right proportion, you end up with a George Washington or an Abraham Lincoln, both of whom were born under the Capricorn moon. So too were Adolph Hitler and Napoleon I. This should give you an idea of the diversity of its capacity for expression, though "world leader" is among the keywords for this moon.

If you read astrology books, most will tell you things about the Capricorn moon that it's probably best for those with this placement not to read until they know something about astrology, or have a good astrologer. Astrology books alone are enough to traumatize people with this moon, something they clearly don't need.

Debbi Kempton-Smith, writing in Secrets from a Stargazer's Notebook, unabashedly warns you that these people are the ones to watch out for, individuals who made of all ambition and no ethics and want only for success at any price, particularly if it's at your expense. Either that, she says, or they're boring old souls. Astutely, she calls this the Mommy Dearest moon, suggesting ones born with this placement were often abused and had unrealistic demands placed on them as children. Indeed, in my experience, if there is a moon for people who never were actually allowed to be children, this is the one. They can send strange messages to their own children if they are not very careful.

Grant Lewi, writing in Astrology for the Millions, is unusually benevolent, for an astrology writer. "You conceive of yourself as a practical, hardheaded individual who can compete successfully with the world on its own terms, and who finds his deepest satisfaction and greatest success," he wrote in his 1940 astrological text, still in print. "You are cast for a certain role and must play it in character if you are to get yourself over the footlights. You can't sway the audience by acting another part: people spot phoniness quickly. But they will recognize the power of your true role when you play it truly."

Evangeline Adams, writing in her 1930 book Astrology: Your Place Among the Stars, says that this sign is "on the whole a very bad position for the moon, for here she is in her detriment and the whole nature of Capricornus is unsympathetic. Almost the worst feature of the moon is her coldness, and this Capricornus accentuates. The senses of people with the moon in this sign are not likely to be particularly acute. The mental response to impression is rather quick, angry and antagonistic, yet there is an extreme keenness to receive information." She goes on to say that aspects to this moon by other planets do a lot to make it work for the better, or for the worse.

Isabelle Hickey, writing in Astrology: A Cosmic Science, tells us it's a poor lunar placement, especially for women. "Works against itself. Conservative. Strong ambitions. Power complex. Security of subconscious lies in authority." She continues, "Parental influence very strong. Subconscious fears need to be brought to the surface and dissolved through understanding."

Of these commentaries, Hickey -- whose focus is on the spiritual side of astrology, and who considered karma to be the operative force behind astrology -- gives the most insight into the extraordinarily complicated nature of this moon because she understands that there's something subconscious going on. That subconscious something is often a feeling passed from mother to child. It is not necessarily the moon of a bad mother. But there was something about the mother that needs to be looked at to help gain an understanding of the emotional condition of the child. Most people -- not just Capricorn moon natives -- are the first to deny that they have been in some significant way neglected or had unreasonable expectations placed on them.

Lewi is on the scent as well: further in his commentary, suggests that when this moon leads to struggle and long-term unhappiness, it's because its natives "get the image inverted: [ones whose] great inner need is no less for success, but who feel themselves frustrated and incapable of ever achieving it, and who in consequence become bitter and hard in failure." No doubt, there is a long story behind this condition, and the more thoroughly that history is understood the more easily a person struggling with this placement will grow past its more difficult tendencies and experiences.

Lest we forget, astrology is here to help us help people, not judge them. None of these great classic texts, in my view, really conveys the essence of the emotional and spiritual crisis that comes with this lunar placement. For sure, this is not an easy question, and I dread to think that a therapist might work with such a person not knowing their moon sign, because it provides vital information. From this point, I am writing from experience rather than astrological theory; what follows are my perspectives, not scientific facts.

The lives of those with Capricorn moons are almost always characterized, at least for a while, by deep pain, loss and suffering, but they will be the first people to tell you that what doesn't kill you makes you strong. Pain has turned them into survivors. When it works to the common good, they become unusually adept, practical humanitarians. When it works to everyone's detriment, they can retreat into themselves, putting up active defenses that seem aggressive. They may pass along the notion that pain builds character, by their actions. They may even convince you they have no heart. Nothing could be further from reality: these are some of the most sensitive people alive; it's just that they hide their pain so well. Part of how this can be done is by compartmentalizing their feelings. Cap moons are among the best feeling compartmentalizers in the business. This is one way they can avoid necessary change, or set aside their sensitivity when they need to.

Many who have been hurt seem to have little reservation about displaying or living through their chillier side, and this, I have found, holds especially true for women. For them, being callous and decisive, whether in personal or professional affairs, seems to offer a kind of ultimate safety from their feelings of vulnerability. There are several philosophies of life for this moon, including "people were mean to me, so I can be mean to them." The smart ones outgrow this; the less astute ones just suffer until they get it, either reaping what they sow, or by becoming victims of the circumstances that they have seemingly created. Yet if they created them, it has been the result of a much larger pattern, usually going back generations and, some would say, lifetimes.

Another philosophy is a lot more responsive: "People were mean to me, so I'm not going to be that way to anyone, ever." This can take root in early childhood, particularly in severe abuse situations.

Where anger is held onto, one result is a spiritual crisis of the first order. Many with this moon seem to have decided that suffering is the only way they're going to learn. So often it seems so unnecessary, but their lives are built on their perception of necessity -- that is their one-word credo, necessity -- so there is no debating the point -- not till they bring it up. They usually do so when life circumstances demand that they seek out the help and compassion they have so long denied themselves, and which was denied to them as children. At some point, sooner or later, they come around to the thinking that forgiveness is possible, once they discover that it exists in theory. But often it takes a very, very long time.

There may exist a deep contradiction within them where being kind reminds them of the kindness that was never offered to them. It can take a long time for them to realize that they can afford to be kind, and that they prosper will spiritually when the people around them prosper materially, so they might as well help out. In truth, practicing compassion and kindness, which are learned skills as often as not, are the best therapy for this moon.

One is, though, left to wonder whether the material and power issues that seem to be so often associated this placement -- particularly issues based on an adeptness with money and power, and the corresponding struggle with generosity -- are not compensating for something else, such as the emotional neglect and abuse that is always so common with this placement.

A number of the Capricorn moon women I know are those for whom people will do anything. They can command loyalty that rivals that of Don Corleone. Their women friends can regard them as wearing the mantle of power in the community or social circle; their word is unquestioned or unquestionable; their authority was apparently granted by birth right. If not, you can look for their insecurities being right out on the surface, which is in reality the most enlightened and difficult way to live.

They often have an unusual effect on men, who may feel: "I want you. I need you. I know I'll never have you. But I'm honored to be in your service. Please tell me what to do, and I'll do it." This power is often sexual: I have rarely seen sexual prowess, or depth of sexual yearning, rival this moon's -- if so, only in the most dyed-in-the-wool Scorpio types, and then in very different ways. With the Cap moon, sexual power is often secured by denying themselves and others gratification; with Scorpio, power is created through sexual involvement. But in surveying the many Capricorn moon women I have know, both personally and as clients, some of them, it is clear, just don't get it: they don't feel, see or understand their power over men, even though it may be glaringly obvious to everyone else. Often this is a good thing, and often these are the ones who wear their doubts on their sleeves.

Men often relate to the sexual power of women with the Capricorn moon as a submissive responds to a dominatrix, that is, with the exquisite pleasure of surrender to something stronger and greater than themselves. My take is that this is the way that the Capricorn moon experienced or was subjected to love as a child -- as an extreme submissive. Once this has happened, it's difficult to experience love as anything but an extreme power relationship, or as some kind of struggle for power. Since the moon represents our needs, this is the level on which the phenomenon is experienced. It is safe to say that Cap moon people were not allowed to feel the need to be loved. This can translate into a need, in some people, for sexual power of a very specific kind that may, in the end, have very little to do with actual love. And it's fair to say that it very much needs to, and that the temptation to have it not be so is very much present.

[I suggested to one Cap moon client that she spend more time around dogs, and learn to love the way dogs love. I asked her how she felt about dogs loving her. She replied: "I find it too painful. It hurts. I'm not used to it. It's too overwhelming. I don't want to be emotional, or open to that." She continued, "It's very frightening. It's too much." Fortunately this is showing up as awareness! Because once awareness is there, we get some freedom.]

I offer Dona Summer, Stevie Nicks and Cher as evidence of this moon's deeply evocative, soulful erotic power in women. Famous women with this moon also include Lucille Ball, who was not merely a truly brilliant comedienne but also presided over a vast Hollywood film and television empire; Laurie Anderson, one of the pioneers of performance art, and whose dark sense of humor is as dry as Lucy's was slapstick; Clara Barton, the pioneering nurse and "angel of the battlefield" of the Civil War era; and Indira Gandhi, who succeeded her husband as leader of India after his assassination, and was herself assassinated.

Men with this moon are of an entirely different ilk. They are all extremely sensitive as well, and no less ambitious -- the notable conquerors of history include more than a few with this moon. They tend to be friendlier and more affable, but can retreat into their igloos pretty fast. Their wisdom, too, has been born of suffering, but men seem to wear it better. Capricorn seems to connect them with an innate femininity, but it's not always apparent from the outside.

It creates consummate politician types, those who just naturally understand how power is organized and orchestrated, often because they have been subjected to it so poignantly as children. They often respond to the world by becoming its leaders, in small ways and large. This world is more accustomed to allowing men to be in charge, so they can find their place more easily, usually without the big fight. But they need to be less political in their personal relationships, and more centered on the needs of their partners. (This could be said, actually, of both men and women with this moon, who often formulate the idea that the world is a vast political institution and so endeavor to treat it that way even in the most intimate settings.)

In the "famous chart's folder" we find among the men: Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver, two great inventors. Edison, for his part, was in equal measures cruel and brilliant. Carver was black. He could take less for granted. He had a mystical relationship with plants, and would walk through the forests in the predawn darkness awaiting instructions from God. We also find David Byrne, the founder of Talking Heads, whose early lyrics featured the kind of "just get over it, don't feel sorry for yourself" advice for which this moon has an international reputation. We find Augustus Caesar, heir to Julius Caesar, who avenged the Emperor's assassination, was involved in the slaughter of 200 Roman senators, waged war and finally united Rome. This is a complex moon.

We also find Mumia Abu-Jamal, the black journalist who has survived more than 20 years on Pennsylvania's death row. He was falsely convicted of killing a police officer in the early 1980s and has inspired an international movement to both free him and shut down the death penalty. During this time, he has persisted as a social commentator and critic, never losing sight of his principles or the larger issues surrounding his conviction. Mumia always reminded me of my old friend Chris McGregor; I was not surprised at all to learn they had the same moon sign. In terms of crusaders with a passion for law, attorney F. Lee Bailey and Bobby Seale (the Black Panthers' minister of propaganda) come to mind.

Somehow, it does not surprise me that each of these people is born with the Capricorn moon, though the differences among them are often profound.

I was discussing the Cap moon with a female friend who has this placement some months ago. I proposed to her my image for a "moon within a moon" -- those concentric carved jade balls you find in Chinatown. Somehow, the craftsperson managed to take a solid block of stone and create three or four spheres carved within one another. These are extremely delicate and equally beautiful. Because all the spheres move, it's never in the same position twice. You cannot see inside the thing. You have no idea how it came to be. If you drop it, it shatters. Too often, people with the Capricorn moon have been dropped.

She related another image. Imagine a city, she said, with a little island next to it. On the island is a stone castle. In the castle lives a princess. One night there's a grand party and everyone is invited. The castle is illuminated, there are fires in every fireplace, there is a great banquet and the princess is there in all her radiant glory.

The party ends, and the weeks and months pass. No one has heard from her. When the city dwellers see the castle in the distance, they remember the party, and wonder why they haven't been invited back. They remember the princess celebrating, remember the castle as warm, people everywhere, and they may resent not being welcome there any more when she's there having a great time. What they don't realize is that all the lamps are out, the hearths are cold, she's alone and scared, hiding down in the basement.

This is not such an encouraging picture, I know. And it's probably not as simple as encouraging these folks to come upstairs, lower the draw bridge, and visit town for a Frappuccino with their buddies. Another friend with the Capricorn moon just wrote to me after reading the draft of this essay. "There is so much more to this moon that cannot be expressed," she said, "and the question here is how does one get their emotional needs met when they've had to spend a lifetime covering things up?" ++

Capricorn Full Moon article

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