Planet Waves
New York, Friday, August 31, 2012

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Cue: Be One (or The Kuiper Belt Turns 20)

Dear Friend and Reader:

Astrology is based on the premise that the shape of the solar system reflects the shape of consciousness. If that's true, the edge of the solar system would represent a boundary or edge within the psyche, a place where familiar territory ends and the unfamiliar begins. Over the years, this boundary has moved gradually outward. For as far back as anyone was looking at the sky, the boundary was Saturn, the most distant visible planet. The edge moved outward with the first discovery of a planet -- Uranus, in 1781, and with that discovery, the age of science and industry had officially begun.

Planet Waves
Illustration of the Kuiper Belt by Don Dixon, which originally appeared in Scientific American in 2000. The outermost inner ring is the orbit of Neptune. The inclined orbit would be something like Pluto, though with a much longer orbit than Pluto actually has; in 2000 it would represent a possible discovery, though the shape and inclination are evocative of Eris. The Kuiper Belt is the cloud of small objects that surround the solar system. © by Don Dixon, all rights reserved.
Next came Neptune, which was finally observed to be a planet in 1846. Neptune for its part was a strange discovery -- Galileo was the first to see it, way back in 1612, though neither he nor numerous astronomers who followed him actually understood what it was, even though they noticed it was moving. Such is the elusive nature of Neptune.

After its discovery in 1930, Pluto was the furthest known object orbiting the Sun. It was discovered by accident, when astronomers were busy looking for something much larger, something they've yet to find.

Over the years, different astronomers had theorized that there were swarms of small objects beyond Neptune, though by 1992, only Pluto had been found. Most astronomers accepted that it was the outer edge of the solar system. There didn't seem to be a lot of interest in searching, either. There was no grant money available for the project; it was not as glamorous as studying the known planets. At that time, a lot of attention and resources were going into the Cassini mission to Jupiter and Saturn, as well as to Hubble space telescope projects that involved gazing out to the edge of the universe.

Jane X. Luu, then 29 years old, was doing postdoctoral work in astrophysics, collaborating with Prof. David Jewitt at the University of Hawaii's observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. They were researching small objects in our solar system, such as comets and asteroids. (One theory about this possible new region of space was that it served as a reservoir of comets.)

They had a question: why did space beyond Pluto seem so empty? In the true spirit of science -- curiosity -- they decided to look around.

"To us it was of scientific interest," Luu recalled in an interview last week. "In terms of prestige, we had never wanted to study any planet. Grants are easy. Why study something that lots of other people study? We were going to do things that nobody else wanted to do."

Planet Waves
The 2.2-meter telescope at Mauna Kea, University of Hawaii, where 1992 QB1 and the Kuiper Belt were discovered by Drs. Jewitt and Luu. Photo from the University of Hawaii.
So, they spent their time peering off into the edge of the solar system, looking for anything that was moving. Mauna Kea is an ideal ground-based observatory because it's sitting on top of a dormant volcanic mountain 4,200 meters above sea level, where the skies are often clear, and where there's minimal light pollution or smog. Plus, it's a smooth mountain, so there's relatively little atmospheric turbulence -- the bane of astronomers everywhere. They were using the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope, a dependable old beast that had been in operation since 1970.

On the night of Sunday, Aug. 30, 1992, just before 11 pm local time, they pointed the telescope toward the southeastern skies and focused on a faint object. In fact it was so faint, it's amazing they saw it against the backdrop of the stars. Over the next 90 minutes, watching on a monitor connected to a digital image captor, they noticed that the object was moving -- which meant that it wasn't a fixed star.

Jewitt and Luu had discovered the first-known object orbiting our Sun beyond Pluto. After 62 years of being the presumed edge of the solar system, Pluto's reign was very quietly over. However, it would take a long time for the news to spread. The object they discovered was not especially large, and these particular astronomers are not media hounds.

The discovery was given the provisional designation 1992 QB1 -- a technical reference that notes when it was discovered, and that it was the 27th object found in the second half of August of that year, nearly all of them asteroids of various kinds. (The second centaur planet, Pholus, had been discovered earlier that year, and the third, Nessus, would not be discovered till 1993. Centaurs are small planets located inside the orbit of Neptune.)

Planet Waves
Dr. Jane X. Luu, astrophysicist and co-discoverer of the Kuiper Belt, now a senior scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Official photo.
1992 QB1 has a nearly perfect circular orbit, which means it's very stable. (The stability of its orbit is evidence that this region of space is not the origin of comets -- they probably come from a region further away.) QB1's orbit is nearly parallel to the solar equator, which takes it around the Sun in just over 289 years. That's about 39 years longer than Pluto takes to orbit, though Pluto has a wildly elongated path, which meets the plane of the solar system on a steep angle.

Because it was beyond Pluto, 1992 QB1 was also the discovery of what became known as the Kuiper Belt, named (or misnamed) for Dutch astronomer Gerard Kuiper. QB1 was the observation that demonstrated that there are indeed objects beyond Pluto within our solar system. If there was one, there would be more. There are about 1,000 known today, and Jewitt has predicted that there are as many as 70,000 -- probably a conservative estimate based on an actual calculation.

Imagine the Kuiper Belt as a plane extending into space, similar to a ring of Saturn, though surrounding the Sun, out beyond all the larger planets. The discovery represented a radical step in the understanding of the solar system, though its significance isn't fully appreciated. Among astronomers, many other discoveries get more attention (Eris, for example). Studying these small bits of planetary matter give us a glimpse into the early history of the solar system.

Among astrologers, 1992 QB1 seems to get the least attention of any minor planet. This is in part because the minor planets are not a popular topic in astrology, and even among astrologers who specialize in the new discoveries, QB1 leaves most of them without a starting point because it doesn't have a name. The names of newly discovered planets almost always come from the astronomers (who don't generally 'believe in' astrology, or think about it much). Yet astrologers depend on these names to help them suss out the meaning a new planet might contain.

Jewitt and Luu had proposed the name Smiley, after the fictional character George Smiley in the spy novels of John le Carré. Smiley is a kind of anti-James Bond -- a quiet, disciplined espionage agent rather than one always running around with his gun drawn. But the name had been used on a main-belt asteroid honoring Charles H. Smiley (1903-1977), who was chairman of astronomy at Brown University. Jewitt and Luu did not propose another name, and they have no plans to.

When other bodies were discovered with orbits similar to QB1, they started to become known as the cubewanos, a pun on Q-B-1-ohs. This is some insurance that 1992 QB1 will always be its name. Once its orbit was confirmed and it got a place in the Minor Planet Catalog, its proper name became (15760) 1992 QB1. This always reminds me of Asteroid B-612 from The Little Prince.

Planet Waves
David Jewitt, co-discoverer of 1992 QB1 and the Kuiper Belt, now a professor at UCLA. Official photo.
Last week I asked Jane Luu if she would share some impressions about her now-famous discovery.

"A lot of people don't like it, because it started all the trouble for Pluto," she said. The discovery of QB1 led to many other astronomers looking for objects in the Kuiper Belt, and one of them -- Eris, discovered in 2005 -- led to Pluto being reclassified as a Kuiper Belt object. "They should think of it as a new frontier of our solar system. It's just like exploration way back in the 1500s. It's about mapping new worlds."

I asked how they financed the project. "We did it by lying and stealing, the usual way things are done," she said. "We didn't get any money for it. We would get telescope time to do other projects, and we would use it to do this. We're good astronomers; we publish a lot and we're productive, so nobody could accuse us of wasting resources."

The region of space that Jewitt and Luu discovered was named for Gerard Kuiper (1905-1973), who in his writings referenced the possibility of a swarm of objects in the outer solar system.

"Kuiper anti-predicted the Kuiper Belt," Luu explained. "He said it would be gone by now. It's near Pluto and he thought that Pluto was going to scatter everything away. It was all conjecture. He had no numbers to back up anything. He was just guessing."

It seems ironic that someone who predicted that something would not exist got that thing named after him. "Most people would be happy," Luu said. "He got something for nothing."

Planet Waves
Four original photographs that led to the discovery of 1992 QB1. The images show the object moving slowly westward through the sky, indicated by an arrow.
To correct this, it's sometimes called the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt (or in England, the Edgeworth Belt, though you rarely hear this), adding the name of Kenneth Edgeworth, an Irish astronomer, economist and engineer. In the 1940s, he proposed that there would be a disc of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. "Edgeworth was obscure," Luu said, "but he did not anti-predict it, like Kuiper."

Why wasn't the Kuiper Belt discovered sooner? It took 62 years from the discovery of Pluto, during a phase of history with increasingly spectacular telescopes. "These things were always out there, but people didn't look for them," Luu said. "People are not good at finding things they don't expect to see. What you look for you will find. But sometimes it takes a bit longer than you expect, if it exists."

Now, many of the most interesting new discoveries are found in the Kuiper Belt. Some are more of the nature of Pluto (called plutinos, with orbits around 250 years) and many others are of the nature of QB1 (the cubewanos, or classical Kuiper objects, with orbits closer to 290 years or longer). Plutinos are named for underworld deities. One example is Orcus, named for an Etruscan [ancient Italian, pre-European] underworld god who predates Pluto. Cubewanos are named for deities associated with creation and resurrection (Quaoar, a Native American creator god, is an example). There are other categories, which are sorted by how many orbits the smaller planet makes compared to Neptune. For example, Plutinos orbit twice for every time Neptune orbits three times. There are other categories with other resonances to Neptune.

Whatever the math involved, David Jewitt and Jane Luu proved one thing: that space is not empty beyond Pluto; there's something there. For astrologers, so invested in what these things mean symbolically, this is rich territory. Or it should be, anyway. Most people's consciousness stops at Pluto, if it even gets there, which is a significant limit, given the level of fear involved. One irony is that many astrologers don't believe in the minor planets. Yet the discovery of QB1 led directly to the reclassification of Pluto as a minor planet, complete with a minor planet catalog number -- now known as (134340) Pluto.

Beyond Pluto -- Beyond the Edge

I've been developing my own impressions of QB1 since 1998, when I was given an ephemeris by centaur specialist Robert von Heeren, who I met when I was living in Munich. He didn't share any ideas about QB1, just a folder with a stack of printed pages that contained the ephemeris he had calculated himself. [You can see Tracy Delaney's version here, on]

Planet Waves
Pluto, illustrated by John Smith in 1709. He is shown kidnapping Persephone. Pluto is usually depicted naked and wearing a crown or helmet; the helmet makes him invisible to those he's about to take.
For me it was news enough that something existed outside the orbit of Pluto. So let's start there, since it's a reference point. Each time a planet is discovered beyond something that's been the long-established edge of the solar system, we experience a paradigm shift, both in our understanding of the planets, and how they work astrologically. History turns a corner. There also seems to be an extension of the presumed limit on human potential.

Mythologically, Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld. His temples were rarely visited by anyone; he was not a popular figure. As the lord of death, he was portrayed as a kidnapper, who traveled under a cloak of invisibility, a power granted by his helmet.

Astrology usually associates Pluto with the topic of "death and transformation." Many would consider this a polite statement. Everyone who has lived through a Pluto transit consciously knows that they can be challenging. Indeed, they can be devastating, though we become deeper, more soulful people. As minor planet specialist Martha Lang-Wescott has said, we often miss Pluto transits when they're over.

In history, I associate Pluto with what I call the Death Works era. The mechanized, chemical-infused death orgy known as World War I preceded the discovery of Pluto by about 16 years, though once Pluto was discovered, things really got cooking. Hitler came to power just three years later and turned genocide into an industrial process. When he was done, Stalin took over and outdid him with the gulag system and many, many more murders.

The rest of the 20th century was pretty much one long war; just naming a few, there was Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and then Pol Pot's genocide; there was the "Cultural Revolution" in China (the wide-scale enforcement of orthodox communism); there was a long massacre in Central America and a simultaneous one in East Timor; there were the genocides in the Balkans, there was Bush War I, and an ongoing, seemingly endless war in Africa. The 21st century began with the Sept. 11 incident, which was used to propagate wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As Noam Chomsky wrote in The Culture of Terrorism, the way to impress Congress is to show them how many people you've killed; then you get funding to kill some more.

I don't blame Pluto for this, though I think that Pluto represented for many people a limit on their consciousness. The limit involved (and for many still involves) the idea that death is the ultimate power, and could be used to get anything, or to gain any advantage. In this toxic belief system, death is the end, it's the scariest thing, and whoever wields it can feel like God, or at least a god (and not such a creative one) for a while. Death and all the anxiety around it are often substitutes for sex, for love and for a conscious, willing sense of transition. Pluto can represent obsessive forces, and one manifestation is an obsession with death.

Planet Waves
Annalee Orsulich is a doula, who assists both the midwife and the birthing mom in the birthing process. Though it's being mechanized by medicine, in truth childbirth is an unpredictable experience every time it happens; some of a woman's worst fears and inhibitions can come up during a birth, as well as her greatest strengths -- and it takes someone special to hold space for that. Photo by Eric Francis.
Psychologically healthier people have a more functional relationship to change, and to growth, other themes that Pluto represents. Yet even for them, the shadow side of Pluto can be frightening, because it involves investigating the spaces in ourselves that we're taught to deny, and to be terrified of. Then gradually we integrate the fear of change, and the changes themselves. Through this process we evolve; we can learn to center ourselves in soul consciousness. Yet most people go kicking and screaming.

There has to be a better way. Chiron, discovered in 1977, did a good job of beginning that conversation of a better way; it was the first planet ever discovered that became associated specifically with the healing process. Chiron is also associated with holistic consciousness. Chiron, the "inconvenient benefic," is gentler than Pluto, and it's more consciously associated with healing and transformation rather than death and transformation.

Power in the style of Chiron is what you gain from going through your challenges consciously, and what you gradually accumulate as you address your sense of wounding, and develop the power to heal yourself (and possibly assist others). The gradual development of Chiron as an astrological tool was a big step on the way to what 1992 QB1 represents, which is a conscious, preferably willing, process of change. Chiron has taught us a lot about Pluto, and I think 1992 QB1 will have a similar role.

Researching the earliest notes I have on 1992 QB1, I found this comment in an article called Worlds Beyond Neptune, published on Planet Waves in 2003: "QB1 may have associations with the Phoenix-like process of arising into new incarnations within our current lifetime, which often happens as a result of near-death experiences or with the experience of 'ego death'."

There's a lot here about letting go of fear, which is part of every healing process. QB1 shows us that there's something on the other side of what we're afraid of, and of the fear itself. Our prior model of the solar system seemed to be saying that there was nothing on the other side of Pluto, of death; last stop, game over.

When Pluto later came to represent what some astrologers call evolutionary process, its reputation improved slightly, though it still seemed to stand for an involuntary imperative. As many have noted, one reason why Pluto transits can seem so scary is the feeling of not knowing what's on the other side -- or fearing that nothing is there.

Planet Waves
The opposite of kidnapping: self-knowledge. I associate 1992 QB1 with processes that acquaint people with themselves, so that we're less susceptible to being taken over by others. One aspect of this is what I call "coupling," or getting to know yourself in an unusually intimate way. Photo by Eric.
This new discovery whispered that there was more, and that it was worth letting go of the fear, and I think that QB1 shows a way of doing that. In the chart, think of it as pointing the way beyond your perceived limits about death, which remains a thought so terrifying to most people that they cannot even consider it. Now in the metaphor of the solar system, we have something in the model that says there is more; that there exists something beyond this perceived edge, which we can access if we want.

As I began to explore that idea, I began to understand QB1 as representing anyone who would help people move through processes where this kind of transformation or release was happening. I associated it with those who help people be reborn at the end of their lives -- that is, an advanced kind of hospice work. There are some practitioners actually doing this now -- though the work is controversial, because it defies the medical establishment, the hospice industry and the funerary industry.

Midwives as well seemed to be involved in the process of birthing new people, and taking women over the transition into a new phase of their lives, which is often like a form of reincarnation. Midwifery is a profound service, and a sacred trust. Midwives guide women through what is in truth a near-death experience, and if it goes well, a baby is born and the mother is reborn.

I was also familiar with the work of Betty Dodson, who developed what she calls orgasm coaching: consciously helping women learn to orgasm (something more necessary than you may think). I began to associate QB1 with certain kinds of sexworkers, the ones who understood that they were doing a service to humanity through their work. This came into focus during a reading for a client in Paris who had 1992 QB1 exactly in her ascendant, and who was designing an evolved form of prostitution with a focus on helping people liberate their sexuality. There's a need in the world for well-trained sexual surrogates, who would help people past their inhibitions, phobias and fears -- and there are people who very quietly do this for others.

Planet Waves
Sex educator and orgasm coach Dr. Betty Dodson (second from left) teaching one of her bodysex classes, which she's taught since the early 1970s. Betty is what I would consider a thresholder, someone who assists others in crossing inner boundaries and inhibition, facing the fear of their own sexuality. She has worked with tens of thousands of women and has produced books and videos that have reached millions. This image is from her new video.
What all of these had in common involved taking people over a threshold, so I started to associate 1992 QB1 with the thresholder. As I developed the idea in my fictional stories, the thresholder began to emerge as someone adept in all of these methods of healing and transformation.

Their actual role is to guide people into self-awareness, which is another way of saying into relationship with themselves. I call this process coupling. This is not about coupling with another person, but rather that of becoming acquainted with, and friends with, and lovers with, the inner alien with whom we live.

These ideas meshed elegantly with a subtle, egoless (nameless) planet orbiting silently outside the realm of Pluto, off to the edge of the solar system. Thresholders show us what's beyond the edge, taking us into new territory and introducing us to the dimension that exists there. One day Dale O'Brien, familiar with my ideas, wrote to me and said the name is obvious. 1992 QB1 is your cue to be one.

It would make sense that 1992 QB1 was discovered on the first degree of the zodiac -- the Aries Point. Aries is the sign of "I am," though the Aries Point connects us to a collective reality. Indeed, 1992 QB1 relates to experiences, fears and inevitabilities that we all have in common. We all cross the threshold of the birthing process, then we do it over and over again. Many of us do it with help; assistance really is necessary here on Earth, with all its adversity.

If we look out at the current political landscape, it's easy to see how this core, essential human material is harvested into a commodity, used against us, sold back to us or forced on us. This can only happen if we don't take ownership of what's within us; if we're afraid to encounter the edge, and lack the faith that there's something on the other side.

This is less likely to happen with those familiar with themselves, and who have taken the step toward meeting their inner stranger, that being who lives on the other side of a psychic boundary. You could say that QB1 represents the truth that there is life beyond the body, and beyond whatever you're going through now.


Virgo Birthday Reading is Ready!

Hello Virgo Sun, Moon and rising folk -- and happy birthday to Virgo Sun readers.

I have just completed your extended Virgo Birthday Reading: an exploration of your astrology over the next year, designed for those born with the Sun in Virgo as well as Virgo rising. If you're not familiar with my birthday reports, I offer detailed, easy-to-follow readings based on many astrological factors -- not just the Sun.

Planet Waves
Eric Francis.
They're presented in studio-quality audio format, organized as three smaller readings -- two sessions of astrology and one session of Tarot, using the Voyager deck by James Wanless.

You've entered a phase of your life with a deep emphasis on healing your relationships. The combination of Chiron and Neptune in your 7th solar house (Pisces) emphasizes going deeper into your human encounters, healing the residual pain of the past, and offers you an opportunity to gain more freedom of what you give and receive. I also go over the career-related material I covered in the Midyear Report, adding some additional thoughts.

The feedback that our listeners have sent in response to the birthday readings has been truly gratifying.

"Once again, Eric has over-delivered on his promise. These birthday readings are invaluable, I listen over a period of weeks and feel like I'm sitting with my strategist, my therapist and my friend. You can feel the thoughtful nature in his preparation."

Another listener wrote: "Please let Eric know that I loved the report, that it was more specific than a tarot reading I had just for me."

If you aren't a Virgo, this reading makes a unique and thoughtful gift for your favorite person who is. This is a gift you can give to yourself or others with confidence. It's designed to be motivating and inspiring.

Your Virgo reading includes two 35-minute segments of astrology plus a tarot reading using the Voyager tarot by James Wanless. The Voyager tarot lends itself to a vibrant, intuitive, visually centered take on the message explored in the astrology, and always includes some fun surprises. Your reading also includes the charts I used to create it, photos of the tarot cards, plus special discounts on other products.

All of this is just $19.95. You have unlimited access to the page, and you may purchase access at this link. Note, this appears on a Flash player, and we provide a downloadable archive so you can get it into iTunes if you have an iPod, iPhone or some other Apple device.

Happy birthday to all of our Virgo readers! I'd love to hear how this reading resonates with you, and wish you a passionate, transformative journey in the coming year.

Planet Waves

Planet Waves
Pisces Full Moon Conjunct Chiron; Lunar Nodes Change Signs

In case you're wondering what the minor planets feel like, we're getting an example this morning as the Moon moves through full phase conjunct Chiron. That was exact at 9:58 am EDT. The Moon in Pisces conjunct Chiron is a unusual focus of creative, emotional or spiritual energy (depending on how you perceive it). No matter what, it's a moment of catharsis and opening up to a new dimension within yourself; gaining a new perspective on your inner life. Something that might have seemed impossible or inaccessible may now feel within reach, perhaps after a long struggle.

Planet Waves
Full Moon at the Parthenon. Photo by Anthony Ayiomamitis.
This week we also experience the lunar nodes changing signs. They ingressed Gemini/Sagittarius in March 2011, and are now entering Taurus/Scorpio. The nodes assist us on our evolutionary path. They represent topic areas within ourselves that we encounter in real-life situations. The South Node shifting into Taurus is about working through deep attachments, blind spots and stuck areas -- those places that we seem to resist letting go of the most.

The North Node shifting into Scorpio represents an encounter with the primal forces of relating to others -- emotional and sexual bonding that we experience as true surrender. Though this is often unfamiliar territory, the North Node in Scorpio suggests being open to something you've truly never encountered before. The themes of attachment, bonding, jealousy and compersion become the places to explore under this astrology.

Looking at the immediate few days and the holiday weekend, the Moon is currently in Pisces and will be until it enters Aries on Sunday. Till then, use your discernment. Remember that something is not true just because you say it is, or because someone else tries to convince you that it is. Both Venus and Mars are currently in water signs (Venus in Cancer, Mars in Scorpio), so make sure you check in with what your emotional body is saying to you. The Sun and Mercury in Virgo offers an opportunity to consider things from a mental perspective, which I would consider essential under this astrology.

From early Sunday morning through the Labor Day holiday in the United States, the Moon will be in Aries. That's to say that it makes a conjunction to Uranus, square to Pluto and a square to the hypothetical point Kronos. This is calling for some focus and maturity, rather than acting impulsively, or based on some sense of past injury. Use your mind as a filter for processing your emotions. Remember to pause, notice what you're feeling, then think through your circumstances, before you take action -- though in the end, what you're feeling is likely to guide you. When you choose to let go, leave your inhibitions behind you.

Planet Waves
Top Ten Repeated Paul Ryan Lies

This week I'm turning over the POL microphone to someone more qualified -- Juan Cole, who writes the blog Informed Comment. In this edition, he takes apart the biggest lies being told by pathological liar Paul Ryan. I am not a fan of Barack Obama, and sometime soon I will make a list of what I consider to be his top-10 betrayals of the American people -- nearly none of which conservatives care about. That's always the thing that gets me: there are a lot of problems that both "sides" could agree on, but I maintain that the differences between so-called liberals and so-called conservatives have little to do with politics. More on that as the election approaches. -- efc

Planet Waves
Photo by Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia.
This year's Republican campaign may be the most dishonest in history. A couple of weeks ago I listed 10 major falsehoods and gaffes of Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan. He repeated several of them in his Tampa speech, and added a few more. In honest political debate, when a candidate says something that is not true, he is confronted by journalists and the public, and either gives evidence that it is true, or backs off. Ryan continues to insist on repeating known falsehoods, to the extent that even Fox Cable News lamented his dishonesty.

Voters need to ask who Ryan represents. It is people who make a million dollars a year or more. Everything he says is intended to produce policy that benefits them, and which hurts working people. Millionaires don't like having to pay for government-provided infrastructure, or health care for workers, and don't like having to put up with unions. The rest of us like driving on roads without potholes, over bridges that don't fall down, and not being bankrupted when we need an operation. Since most Americans would be crazy to vote for policies that only benefit our three million wealthiest, out of 310 million, Ryan tries to appeal to workers with religion (banning abortion). He needs to put together a coalition of millionaires and some religious workers in order to win. But even that wouldn't be enough. He has to get people on his side who would be hurt by his policies. And that requires that he simply lie to them.

So here are some new lies he just retailed, along with a reiteration of my earlier refutation of points drawn from his stock speeches, which he put right back in his Convention speech.

Continue reading on Juan's blog.

Planet Waves
Planet Waves

Major Minor Planet Feature in The Mountain Astrologer

I have a major feature in the new edition of The Mountain Astrologer. This is the October/November issue, though it's available to digital subscribers to the magazine now. This is the first comprehensive article introducing the minor planets to be published in a mainstream astrological publication. It's about 8,000 words long -- a full treatment of the subject. In the article, I cover the history of the minor planets starting in 1801, and carry the story through 1992 QB1, Chiron, Pholus, Nessus, Hylonome, Borasisi, Eris and others. Here is a short quote from the article:

"One difference between the traditional and the modern planets is that you can see the traditional planets with the naked eye. I asked Rob Hand about this recently, and he said that the zodiac and the traditional planets "deal with normal consciousness. An invisible planet requires the expansion of consciousness in order to be seen. They cannot be seen by the normal senses, and that is very important." As we discover and delineate these bodies, imagine that we are gradually expanding our awareness into the invisible, non-normal realms.

"In a sense, we are going beyond the veil of the senses and the usual shape of consciousness. This lack of tangibility may, at least partly, account for why the minor planets tend to be so controversial. And given how many minor planets there are, we are getting the hint that there is a lot going on beyond the veil -- a very busy universe beyond the limits of the normal senses."

To read more, subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer, which will get you access to the digital edition.

Planet Waves
Pisces Full Moon and 1992 QB1

The new edition of Planet Waves FM is ready. In this issue, I start with a brief rant about women's reproductive rights and advocate for real sex education. I then describe the Pisces Full Moon, which is conjunct Chiron. That's some full-spectrum emotional and psychic power -- a rich event that will stoke your imagination. There's a lot of Pluto and Mars pouring in as well, which is all about desire and going deep. After a song break, this leads to the second half of the program, which is about the discovery of the Kuiper Belt and 1992 QB1. I introduce the subject here, and will continue with coverage in Friday's subscriber edition.

Planet Waves

Planet Waves monthly horoscopes provide a broader perspective that surveys the themes of the coming month and often, the weeks that follow. The September Monthly horoscope was published last Friday, Aug. 24. Inner Space for September was published Tuesday, August 28. The August Moonshine Horoscope was published Friday, Aug. 17. Please note that the longer monthly horoscope (published Friday, Aug. 24) is being incorporated into the Friday issue after the Sun has entered a new sign; Inner Space still publishes on Tuesdays.

Planet Waves

Friday, August 31, 2012. Weekly Horoscope #915 | Eric's Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Virgo Birthdays This Week

You seem to be trying to resolve an impasse in a relationship, or perhaps the whole history of your relationships. I suggest you allow the momentum of the situation to carry you, rather than trying to push. You're in the midst of a very different experience of life than a certain person, or people, close to you, and a good start would be to account for those differences. Yet what you have through this situation is an opportunity to reconsider what has happened to you in the past, which has led to many stories you've made up in order to account for that history. Go beyond those stories, and see if you can get to the underlying reality. Both of your parents are involved, though what you may discern is that you identify more closely with your father's experience than that of your mother; this would be the time to really understand what she went through. If you can do that, you won't have to relive it; you can focus on living your own life, and your own relationships, in the world as it exists today -- not the fantasy we think the past should have been. Note to Virgo and Virgo rising readers: I have covered this in the birthday report for your sign, which you can read about above or order directly here.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- After many months of delay, discomfort and frustration, you're at a point where you can open up your energy, feel who you are and allow others to do so as well. Yet while Mars in Scorpio is offering you the opportunity to merge with others, I suggest you stay connected to your sense of who you are. One thing you've gained during the past year is a new sense of your own presence on the planet, and some clarity about how good it feels to remain centered. This is difficult to gain and easy to lose, so I suggest you be clear that, as good as it may feel to merge with someone else, keeping a focus on your inner awareness is a higher priority. Said another way, no matter what you may have with anyone else, spend some time alone, spend some nights sleeping alone, and invest energy into taking care of yourself. And if you happen to not have that kind of company and you want it, focus on being open to your desires, and on taking that sometimes scary step from fantasy to reality. What is reality? It's something you experience, that you can describe.

Hello Aries -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Taurus (April 19- May 20)
Taurus (April 19-May 20) -- If you want more fulfilling relationship experiences, you need to be less rigid. That's to say, loosen up and dare to experiment with what you don't know. Opportunities to do this look like they're arriving in abundance. You may be noticing how different other people are, and the diversity of possibilities. Yet what you may be feeling is precisely your way of adhering to what's familiar. Think of this as being confronted by your own boundaries. It may make you nervous to even think of going past those self-imposed limits, though the first step in doing so is finding out what they are. While you're doing that, I suggest you observe any self-critical or self-judgmental thoughts, particularly if they come in the form of concern over anything within you that you think is dark. Now for the expert-level spiritual maneuver: If you have a negative reaction to anyone or anything, can you see how it's an extension of your fear of being that same thing? If you can acknowledge that much, you might notice that your fear is really desire.
Hello Taurus -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). If you would like to hear your Taurus birthday reading, please visit this link.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- You're on the verge of a professional breakthrough, though you may not feel that way. You also may not recognize it when it happens. Indeed, you may have the sensation that you're making far too little progress rather than taking a step forward, so I suggest you be extra vigilant about what you experience. I'll give you three examples of how this might manifest; if none of them are specifically accurate, consider them metaphors. One is that your sense of weakness or lack of confidence manifests in an unexpected way. This might involve making emotional contact with someone you thought you had to impress. Another expression could be how revealing a vulnerability resonates with people you work with and deepens your relationship, opening up a sense of mutual respect. One other possibility is how being present for your own feelings, and unusually honest with yourself, stokes your confidence and allows you to do something you thought was unlikely or even impossible. To sum up, make friends with what you think of as your weaknesses, because they contain some of your greatest potentials.

Hello Gemini -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). Have you listened to your birthday reading? Click here for an hour of astrology plus a tarot reading by Eric.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- If there's any tension between you and someone in a position of authority, check whether the playing field is level. Or rather, get an understanding of the ways in which it's not level -- in particular, noticing whether you slant things in a way that doesn't work for you. You may not want to 'play the game', though does it really work to sacrifice your standing with people you perceive as being in a position of authority? How does that reflect on those who look up to you in any way? I suggest you consider carefully how your actions set you up for how you're treated by others. Being rebellious is pointless at this time in your life; being inventive, innovative and most of all collaborative will work beautifully for you. One way to see how pointless top-down models of authority are is to see what it feels like when people rebel against you, then you recognize that you set that example. The way to be authentically powerful is to begin with respect: for people, for their feelings, for commitments, and most of all, for yourself.

Hello Cancer -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). To hear your birthday reading for the year ahead, please visit this link.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) -- Focus on keeping an open mind, especially about what you tend to resist the most. When speaking, imagine that everything you say on any topic or any person is actually a statement about yourself. This will keep you tuned into your thought patterns and how they reflect your ideas about your own existence -- and your potential. If you do this, you're likely to make a discovery about yourself, which I could describe generally as something that's extremely obvious that you hadn't put together yet, even though you had all the information you needed. When you tell other people about this discovery, they're likely to say that they knew this all the time and figured that you did, too. Note, this is not the revelation of 'something bad' about you. To the contrary, no matter what the topic, you're likely to discover a reason to appreciate who you are, which anyway is always the theme of this time of year, though right now, at this time in your life, you're in a special moment of transition.

Hello Leo -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). Did you miss your birthday reading? Click here to order an hour of astrology plus a Tarot reading by Eric.

Planet Waves

Hello Virgo and Virgo rising readers. I've just finished your 2012-2013 birthday reading. Click here to listen to your hour-long astrology reading plus Tarot.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) -- You're at a turning point, and it involves understanding how you think. The time of 'keeping secrets from yourself' has long passed any usefulness you thought it had. You might well ask whether it's even possible to conceal something from yourself; there's a word for that, and that is 'denial'. But let's use the first, perhaps kinder, phrase. Right now everything hinges on how you handle this secret you're keeping from yourself. By everything, I mean a lot more than you think is possible from a relationship to a single idea, fact or thought form. It's functioning kind of like an energy dam, and once you clear up this misunderstanding with yourself, your energy is going to flow like floodgates have been opened up. If you can be honest with yourself about who you are and what you want, you may find yourself noticing that it's distinctly possible to embody that much more easily than you thought. Self-awareness is self-becoming.

Hello Virgo -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) -- I suggest you make a list of all your unfinished business with everyone in your life who truly matters to you. You're drawing to the close of a major phase of your life, as Saturn gets ready to leave your sign and enter Scorpio. This phase dates back to 2009, when Saturn first entered your sign. I've described it in the past as a time of coming to terms with yourself. If you were born in the early 1980s or the mid-1950s, it also coincides with a life passage called your Saturn return (no matter what Sun sign you were born under). The themes of these Saturn events include embracing maturity, grounding your life in a purpose, setting boundaries and dealing with what are sometimes called 'authority issues'. Yet as a Libran, part of coming to terms with yourself means coming to terms with your intimate partners, and your philosophy of relationship. Notice whether you've outgrown anything lately; that's the feeling of not being able to fit the person you are into the idea of what a relationship is that, for a while anyway, served you well.

Hello Libra -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) -- Make sure your emotional approach to others is gentle, and not an ambush. Be aware of the intensity that others may perceive in you, but which you may not have noticed in yourself. Yet you might also question why you are carrying this energy. Your astrology suggests that you might be feeling fragmented, or lacking focus -- though not lacking at all for drive. That sense of fragmentation, if you're feeling it, could lead you to overcompensate with push energy or raw desire. You don't need to do this. Your supercharged state is noticeable and attractive to others; I suggest you work on focus. Get clear what you want to do, and refine your agenda as you become aware of it. This will help you groom subtle inner conflicts out of your psyche, which in turn will help others feel you as a unified being working with a clear purpose. As a result, you will know intuitively to be less aggressive. Assertive is all you need, such as saying hello and cordially introducing yourself to someone you want to meet.

Hello Scorpio -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) -- If you're feeling rebellious, I suggest you pause and ask yourself why. It seems like you're in an agitated emotional state, something verging on panic, though it looks more like subtle panic, if such a thing is possible. An outer manifestation of this might be feeling cramped in a relationship situation, as if you're overcommitted or feel like too much is expected of you. In truth, you're the one placing the expectations on yourself. You may also have the feeling that you've revealed more about yourself than someone close to you has, though I suggest you consider carefully whether this is really true. While you have the image of 'what you see is what you get', your astrology suggests that you're a lot more secretive than you want anyone to believe. Therefore if you think that someone you care about is not being forthcoming, make a list of all the things about yourself, your experiences and your desires you haven't mentioned. It's true that you're entitled to your privacy, though that's not really a valid path to intimacy -- if that's what you want.

Hello Sagittarius -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) -- If you've learned nothing else the past three years that Saturn has been in Libra, your house of career and reputation, it's that you need to expand your horizons. Have you done that? Have you looked over the teacup walls of the thing that you used to call your career? What for you might seem like a wild experiment would feel to those around you like a basic wholesome idea. Therefore, you can afford to push a certain limit, which may be associated with how you identify yourself as a 'responsible person'. You usually take this too far, and much of it is an image, anyway. If you set the image aside, you'll see that you need a lot more room to maneuver. You might also notice that in truth, your responsibilities are a shared burden, though when you're in a position of leadership, your most significant role is to provide some ethical guidance. Open up this discussion with the people around you, including (when appropriate) those you consider to be in a position of authority over you. You don't simply do what you're told; you do what everyone agrees is the right thing.

Hello Capricorn -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- Everything comes down to self-esteem. I do mean everything. While it's possible to paper over your self-doubts or a spiritual hole, that comes at a significant cost, and it doesn't work forever. You are, however, in a rare opening where you can see how your respect for yourself will lead to actual confidence. It's clear that there is plenty that you want to accomplish; you have some real goals, and you must know by now that you're at the get-serious point where professional matters are concerned. The key to acting on those aspirations begins with monitoring closely how you feel about yourself, and understanding why you tend to count yourself out. A viable measure of this is how often you say the words 'I can't' as opposed to 'I can'. That's a belief, and I suggest you investigate the roots of that idea. Your chart at the moment suggests strongly that you can accomplish anything you want, and there's plenty that you want. Why make excuses, or argue for your weaknesses, when you can actually participate in the world?

Hello Aquarius -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- The Full Moon in your birth sign peaks on Friday. The Moon is conjunct Neptune and Chiron, the longterm visitors to Pisces, and resonating with Mars in Scorpio. This translates to a moment of deep transition and self-creation, which I am sure you're feeling. I suggest you go through some of the doors to the future that you've left open for yourself; take a bold step into what you've already been creating for a while, and which you're now ready to embody -- even if you don't feel ready. You're at the stage where the thing you want, need and are indeed craving, is direct experience. If you need to, think of whatever you're about to do as an experiment. That will at least relieve you of the idea that you have to already be good at something in order to do it. You're at the point where you can be guided by your intuition and your imagination. Chiron is providing you with a constant beacon of awareness, though depending on who you are, you may have to resolve to go beyond a sense of failure or delay that may have affected you in the past. That story is over -- and now you're in a very different place.

Hello Pisces -- Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

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