When Worlds Collide

Planet Waves by Eric Francis
May 2002

THERE ARE POINTS IN OUR LIVES where fear is not just a lame excuse for not living, but also a vast waste of beautiful creative energy. There are times when it's outright dangerous to hesitate, to not dare to look beyond fear, or to use fear as a way to hide from what we know is true. Now is such a time. The astrological charts for May and June suggest that we are entering a phase of potent, turbulent and at times forceful planetary movement. These are transits that will change the world and change our lives, and the creative potential for this extended moment is rather awesome.

This process has already begun. Some readers may recall an article last year in which I explored the Saturn-Pluto opposition across the Gemini-Sagittarius axis. It is not over. The peak of this activity occurs on June 10, in the form of a total solar eclipse, which I will come back to. In the outer world, the main event that we associate with the Saturn-Pluto opposition, a slow-moving aspect which unfolds over two or more years, is what we now call 9/11. This was followed by the bombing of Afghanistan and the worst period of violence in the Middle-East since 1967. We could look back at what amounts to a coup d'etat in the presidential election of 2000 and see the connection; it's there, in reality and in the other reality known as astrology.

Saturn plus Pluto equals maximum friction. Saturn is the immovable object. Pluto is the irresistible force for change. When these two energies meet face-to-face, as is the nature of an opposition aspect, extraordinary change happens. It is not especially subtle -- remember those towers falling down like marionettes.

The last time the Saturn-Pluto cycle peaked in the 180-degree, or opposition aspect, was 1965 and 1966, a truly exuberant moment in history, when people felt an inner potential that they knew had the power to change the world. People born in the mid-sixties are going through some of the most intense changes of anyone alive today because, by chance or fate, the two Saturn-Pluto oppositions meet at a perfect right-angle.


Disaster and Light

When 9/11 went down, everyone sensed the change. It was shocking, terrifying and somehow beautiful -- and larger than what we were seeing. We were offered a sense of being in the moment, in community and, sad as it is, the inspiration that comes with responding to a common threat. Our death-obsessed culture tends to live in denial of death, and here we were faced with a glimpse of individual and cultural mortality that allowed us to truly feel alive. For people close to the scene, something really strange occurred: New York City changed, in structure and in spirit.

On some level, we all vowed to keep that spirit of progress alive in our hearts, never to forget. Many of us have forgotten, and have returned to our more or less normal lives.

The problem with fear is not so much that we experience it, but rather that we define ourselves with it. The problem with our visions is precisely that we tend not to use them to define ourselves.

But the astrology has not forgotten. The Saturn-Pluto opposition is far from over. The charts for May and June culminate in a rather wild total solar eclipse on June 10, which happens exactly on the Saturn-Pluto axis. The Sun and the Moon, meeting in a perfect conjunction, will "set off" the aspect. This solar eclipse is attended on either side by a lunar eclipse, which is a rare occurrence; usually eclipses come in pairs, not threes. Eclipses can be described by these key phrases: acceleration; threshold; point of no return; a sense of fate; a sense of loss of control; inevitable change.

Or, you can say brilliant moment of unfolding potential. And you may be thinking, sure, about as much fun as a tidal wave. A big party, like a tornado.

How we experience such points in our history usually depends on how much fear we are carrying or, in the converse, how strong of a vision. The problem with fear is not so much that we experience it, but rather that we define ourselves with it. The problem with our visions is precisely that we tend not to use them to define ourselves. These events suggest strongly that now is the time to look at our fears, admit to them, and get on with the business and pleasure of visioning our lives, which to me means living out our true purposes, or at least setting out to discover what they are.

The alternative, really, is to court a big mess for ourselves, because fear has power whether we like it or not. When energy moves, both losses and gains are possible, and in the coming eight weeks, vast amounts of energy will both move and change forms. The question is what side of that power we want to be on.


A Rare Sky

Along the way to the eclipse, late April and early May present a rare planetary alignment that will allow sky observers to see every visible planet in our solar system in a single evening. "There will be other opportunities in the future to see the planets in different configurations," said Philip Sadler at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, "but it won't be anything like this for at least another 70 years. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Then we have the following events, listing only the most sensational. This edition is printable.

<> May 3-6 (approx.) Beltane, the High Sabbat of the Pagan calendar
May 10
, the planets Mars and Venus will appear to pass so close to one another that, to the naked eye, the Roman god of war and the Roman goddess of love will become one.
<> May 12, Taurus New Moon
<> May 14, an extremely rare "superaspect" involving the moon, Venus, Mars and Saturn in which the four planets align in four dimensions of space and time.
<> May 15, Mercury stations retrograde for 23 days. Note that for about four days on either side of the station, there is what's known as a "Mercury storm" when the retrograde effect is at its most pronounced.
<> May 20, Sun enters Gemini.
<> May 25, Saturn-Pluto align exactly for the third time since Aug. 2001, and the last time until 2035.
<> May 26, lunar eclipse, Full Moon in Sagittarius, during Memorial Day weekend.
<> June 6, Sun opposes Pluto.
<> June 8, Mercury stations direct. Mercury storm is about from the 5th to the 12th.
<> June 10, total solar eclipse and Gemini New Moon at 7:46 pm EDT, exactly aligned with the Saturn-Pluto axis and with George W. Bush's natal chart. Be glad you're not him.
<> June 21, Summer Solstice.
<> June 24, lunar eclipse at the Capricorn Full Moon.

As Martha Lang-Wescott often reminds us, the gods are demented. And as my editor reminds me, keep it short. I offer three closing comments.

One, on the most mundane level, it would be wise to keep your plans simple, back up your data early and often, and stash aside a little money, always helpful during Mercury retrograde. It might also be highly prudent to consult an astrologer to see what all this means for you personally. We may see some very strange historical events unfold during this phase and, as we did last summer, we may experience a delayed reaction by a couple of months between the eclipse and its effects. If you ask me, we'll get both. If things turn ugly in the outer world, remember that community is more important than the stock market and that healers are usually more helpful than doctors.

Two, it ain't the sixties, though astrologically and politically there are some striking similarities (the Vietnam-Afghanistan parallels are pretty blatant, for instance). The sixties had several qualities that we seem to lack. One is a sense of unmitigated idealism running through much of the culture. Two planets were present in the sixties that seem to be sitting out the main events of today: Uranus, the most Promethean spirit in all of astrology, and Chiron, which activates awareness in very specific ways and gives us the guts to stand out from the crowd. The conformist attitudes of our culture, cemented in by the media trance, are beyond disgusting; they are highly debilitating. What was present in the sixties that is not so present today is the spirit that it's okay to take real risks for what really matters.

Three, we do have some awesome resources available that make fine community-building tools. We have one another. We have all the mystical, spiritual, tantric, yogic, shamanic and religious training we've been accumulating since crystals first came into vogue. But to paraphrase that old button, "Hanging out with your crystals is not enough." For the first time in history, we have access to interactive media. I highly recommend that you get your news from alternative sources on the net rather than from television; then you will find out what a raging, tragic fraud the "war on terror" is. I highly recommend that you use email to set up in-person meetings with people in your community.

And remember, it's only a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder.++

Space graphic above from the Rosette Nebula in Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Sulfur.
Credit: T. A. Rector, B. Wolpa, M. Hanna. Planet Waves logo by Eric, and Via Davis.