“These different kinds of pain share a common thread: our lack of healthy connection to each other, our inability to see the full dignity of each other, and the resulting culture of fear, distrust, tribalism, shaming and strife.”
— David Brooks in The New York Times
Dear Friend and Reader:
We live in the era of the algorithm. We are alive in the time of the news feed. Where we live, nothing is real, and many are convinced that they are not real. Yet you are, and something must be.
This whole internet-driven world we live in is steadily leading to the destabilization of many people as individuals, and of society. We keep noticing this, and keep wondering what this is about — why things are so weird; why nothing makes sense; why the ground of existence feels like it’s crumbling; why the value of lies seems to go up with the stock index.
The problem is in plain sight. The solution is more challenging to identify.
In one of our last conversations, Eric McLuhan said that we might remedy things if several generations of people could invest themselves deeply into acquiring book knowledge. It is the experience of books (which fosters an interior cultivation process) that leads to the idea of individuality as we know it.
His father, Marshall, earlier said there is no turning back once a new environment has taken hold; there is only adapting in the present, and creating the next environment. But where exactly do we get into this process?
Have you noticed the nonstop barrage of advertising telling us how wonderful artificial intelligence is going to be, how many problems it will solve, and how it’s the only solution to all that ails us? This is where we need to pause and evaluate the propaganda of what amount to religious hucksters — the techno evangelists. We see them in the news all the time. We think they are divining oracles, striding around in front of images of themselves projected 30 feet tall.
Imagine if you had spent the past 25 years in a world of only artificial sweeteners. How good would it feel to bite into a peach?
Your body would respond with the feeling of all you’d been missing. We are at a similar point today with AI, which encompasses all digital technology starting with Pong and the most basic four-function calculator. We are now sharing our physical, mental and emotional spaces with millions of robots. No, they don’t look like Artoo or C3PO, which is even more insidious. They are mostly invisible, or blended into other devices. We don’t notice how strange they are.
Despite the repeated urgings of my father (an uber-Aquarius communications professor who loves the next great thing), I was so averse to using GPS navigation that I never really used it to get somewhere until about three or four years ago, when one night I was lost in LaGuardia Airport. This seemed like an impossible situation, even for GPS, but I gave it a try. And when I did, I got the full experience of the voice from the heavens seeing me, hearing my plea for help, guiding me on and off the ramps, around and around, until I was idling right in front of my friend.
One might be inclined to think, “Oh, how wonderful.” I was thinking, and feeling, that was fucking weird. Weird, like drugs. Weird, like seeing a UFO. And herein lies the core issue: we don’t notice how strange this stuff is. We tend to swallow it whole.
Meanwhile, I am still excited about having a compass display on my rearview mirror. And just as when I was trekking around the East Coast on a bicycle as a teenager, I like actual maps, maps that show context and options. I like asking people for directions, if only to evaluate whether they actually know how to get around their own community.
And yes, when I’m lost at LaGuardia, I might dial in Siri. My current policy is to practice using it just enough to know the range of potential behaviors in different environments, which means, only occasionally. I would rather get lost than rely on a computer to help me find my way around a planet I’ve lived on all my life, unless I really need the help. When that time comes, I want to know how to use the tool consciously.
The Crime Scene, and Chiron the Sleuth
Chiron has now entered Aries; the transition into Taurus begins June 19, 2026, and it enters Taurus for good on April 14, 2027, so Chiron will be a long-term presence in Aries. (Chiron spends the most time in Pisces and Aries — about one-third of its 50-year orbit in two signs.)
To use an old phrase, this is a watershed moment. Apart from a brief spell last year, humanity has never consciously experienced Chiron in Aries. It was discovered in Taurus in 1977, so during the Chiron in Aries phase (the “me generation” era of the late ’60s into the late ’70s), no astrologer had a clue what was happening — at the time. But anyone there noticed how reactionary things were, how divided, how shrill, how intense. The last go-around of Chiron in Aries was the origin of today’s “identity politics.” (In media history, this was being driven by television.)
Where new technology strips away the fiber of humanity, culture and intellect, Aries has often been the crime scene. It’s no ordinary sign; it describes the primary place in our charts where we engage the process of discovering, becoming and fully experiencing ourselves.
Yes, the whole chart counts. Yes, the sign that most distinctly says, “I am” is the essential ingredient. Where you have Aries by house will help describe where you might begin your conscious quest for self. It is a point of access. Remember that any sincere commencement (or refocusing) of your quest counts. Saying yes to yourself in any form counts.
I recognize that these might seem like abstract ideas; I will not dwell on them today, only propose that you consider them. The ideas of communicating through the body, and relating to the body as the locus of identity, have been under all-out stress since the development of radio in the late 1920s. Radio was the first mass medium (meaning, many people experiencing the same thing at once; a synonym would be broadcast medium).
After the telephone, radio was the also the first disembodied medium (a voice coming out of a box). It was wonderful — connecting us with The Shadow and FDR’s fireside chats; and we also learned via radio that God wanted us to bomb Hiroshima (and that it was a military base, not a civilian city). We learned that space aliens had invaded New Jersey, leading to mass panic, a lengthy media feeding frenzy, and the revelation that many people will believe nearly anything — if it’s broadcast.
This all centered around the arrival of Eris in Aries in the late 1920s (it’s still there), and we are still living with the effects of the the Uranus-Eris conjunction of that era. At the time, the seeds of both television and the digital revolution were also being sown; television was in the early testing phases, and the first crude transistor (a switch that is the core concept of a computer) was patented. If you want to know more, here’s my article on the subject.
We thought this was all changing society. That was true in one sense.
Really, it was changing us. But we see it as the world about rather than the world within. Did anyone look at a radio and think, “What is this going to do to me?” And when the iPhone came out, I doubt anyone asked that either. I doubt anyone installing a WiFi router ever asked, “What will this device do to me?” I never did; it was just so convenient and modern.
Now, when the technology is ubiquitous and not going away — we are starting to ask, however meekly. Study after study has described serious problems related to smartphones, exposing kids to this technology, and issues related to being bathed in radiation coming from every single direction, 360 x 360.
I have not heard of a brain tumor study the past few years, though I have read about many associated with cell phone use. Mostly I am hearing about behavioral stuff — things like insomnia and melatonin depletion (being soaked in microwaves is like being bathed in invisible light; it’s like trying to sleep with the lights on, which is used in torture).
Today, a friend who is a mother of four wrote to me and asked: “Do you know anything about EMF [electromagnetic frequency] sensitivity? Or do you know someone who does? I think I may have connected the dots on some of my son’s behavioral issues/mood swings, but would like to talk to someone who has some experience…versus me just googling.”
In some of us, Chiron in Aries may pull this set of digital-related issues into sharp focus and high relief. We may suddenly start asking deeper, personal questions about what technology has done to us, and is doing to us, and how we can address the issues. Specific questions may surface first: Chiron conjunct Salacia may focus issues surrounding the impact of digital on the body vis-a-vis sexuality — a serious issue that transcends morality or aesthetics and goes directly to the core of what a person is.
In its role as healing sleuth, Chiron in Aries can help shine a bright light on what has happened to us, ourselves — and what to do about it: how to define a problem in a way that it can be solved; who to go to for help.
Speaking of Digital
A little while ago, I received the following text message by mistake. It’s from someone who often texts me about her personal situation, so I was not surprised. My phone chimed, and I read: “Girl I have some major ass resentment shit going on in my heart with my dad. I know it hurts me and no one else to hold on to shit like that but I don’t know how the hell to 1) let it go 2) be able to continuously let shit go as it comes up. Not just bubbles up from past stuff but things that still happen or are reoccurring.”
This is typical of digital. First, we live in an inside-out world, where your most intimate thoughts can end up halfway around the world, at the speed of light — by mistake. (Or because someone’s husband sends all the photos of his wife having sex with a lover to her whole address book, schoolmaster, rabbis and all — I got one of those once.)
Setting that aside, though, she describes a real problem that many people are facing now: awakening to their anger and resentment. Well, my friend, at least, is awakening, and she can articulate her situation. She is in really, really good shape compared to many people. She has a clue what she is feeling.
Much of the population is in a digitally-induced stupor, perhaps aware of their emotions, but not the source, or of any potential solution. Often, these feelings are projected as blame, rage, shaming and attack, frequently associated with relationships, sex and gender. These days, there is a lot of anger being directed at men, and I suspect that most of it comes from the kind of scenario that my friend is describing: unresolved issues associated with her father. It does not take long to figure out that it’s not all dad’s fault.
There is plenty of free-floating, disembodied rage to go around as well, looking for a home among the many, many disembodied people in our society.
There are two ways this can go, and this is my cautionary note about Chiron in Aries. We may use it to focus on the world within, or the world around. One of its two basic modes of action will be to push self-awareness, growth, personal transformation, and self-actualization (whatever you may call it). The other is to merge into tribal collectives, who identify themselves by their sense of injury and personal injustice. This is the exact opposite of healing, though it’s often sold as the real thing.
To travel the road of self-actualization is challenging, it can be thorny, it takes serious work, and the deeper rewards are often far in the future. This depends on knowing what you want. Chiron in Aries represents an activation of Mars. Mars is the engine that powers motivation. But Mars does not have direction. You need to give it that. Direction means honoring your desire, and sticking to it for a while, to find out what’s there when you arrive. The chances are you know what you want for yourself. Yet there are specific challenges in honoring that, and you can get sidetracked.
It is easy to join a mob and seemingly blow off rage in the name of social justice. That, however, has nothing to do with healing ourselves as individuals (nor as the human family), and our experience of actual human community. Community where you don’t enter a code into your text message window to “help people,” but where you make food for people who are grateful that you’re feeding them.
It’s easy to tap on your Dunkin’ Donuts app and have your coffee paid for and waiting for you when you arrive. This makes it easy to avoid people (which is a signature of digital, and of the purveyors of digital, who are not known for their social graces). I would rather have my 45 seconds of small talk with the cashier, and find out how her day is going here in our corner of the universe.
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for March, 2019 by Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Tonight’s top story in the solar system is that Chiron has entered your sign. It’s rare when an era-defining event takes place in the home territory of your Sun or rising sign, though it’s happened to you many times in recent years. Yet Chiron will have a way of helping you integrate many unusual past developments in your life. You may have several of those moments when it all suddenly seems to make sense. While this transit lasts eight years, the first year will be one of the most interesting of them, as Chiron makes many aspects to slow-moving planets in the next 12 months. The upshot is that it’s time to wake up and get hold of your destiny, particularly where your professional aspirations are concerned. Your awakening and the work you do are now so closely linked as to be the same thing. At certain times you can feel who you are; at other times you can feel what you want to do. Now, taking action based on both considerations will be more intuitive. You may still feel like you’re balancing two sides of an equation, going back and forth between them — though that’s a sign of progress even if it feels like acrobatics. It’s significant that all of your current astrology puts you into contact with a wider public. You may feel the allure of being part of some larger group or ideology. You don’t need this. Keep your own counsel, and hold to your choices and personal values. When you see a crowd, walk the other way. Your true success depends on it.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — In just two weeks, Uranus ingresses your sign (on March 6), to stay for the next seven years. It is unusual to have two slow-moving outer planets change signs so close together (see Aries, above), though that’s what we’ve got. Taurus is presumed to be the sign of tradition and stability, yet this transit will put you in touch with your fiery, daring, creative core. The first change you’re likely to experience is feeling more alive, and more willing to take chances. You may have challenges in holding down routines, though that will teach you minimalism and discipline — and these will grant you the efficiency you need to use your time and energy wisely. It’s fair to say that you’re entering an extended phase of self-reinvention. This is better if practiced as a daily experience. When you wake up every morning, ask yourself what you want to do — even if you already know what you have to do. The idea is to give yourself the opportunity to choose between options, even if it’s what order you want to do things, which way you travel to work, or what you want for breakfast. Under this influence, using disruptions as opportunities to pause and redirect yourself is a helpful skill. Uranus is self-inventive, and it can also bestow the gift of the creative flash. If you’re short on an idea, pause and ask for some guidance. This is not your “normal” mind working; you will be summoning the spark of the eternal spirit.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — One of the themes of Chiron in Aries is where the individual meets the group. This comes with the temptation to align yourself with a cause, a movement, or an organization; even a clique will do, in a pinch. There’s another direction of travel, which is that of self-discovery. It’s by far the more challenging journey. In truth, most identification with collectives of any kind is directly at the expense of seeking and finding oneself. It’s a little like giving all your money to a cult, when you would be much better off having your own modest apartment, and doing your own thing. For you, Chiron in Aries is a challenge to distinguish yourself: to stand out, and to stand apart. You have abilities you have not developed; you have a language gift that is like gold ore still buried underground. Yet with each passing day, the world is dragged deeper and deeper into a weird kind of conformist cool, nearly all based on marketing programs. The rest is based on the impact of digital, which has been particularly hard on your natural tendencies to be social. I suggest you resurrect those. Spend time in places where the internet is not a factor. Leave your phone home as many times a day as you can. Talk to people in person, and listen to what they have to say. You might ban all forms of online dating, and compel yourself to get among people and remember how to communicate with them. You will have fun, and will be doing your part to save the world.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Chiron is now transiting your 10th house of reputation and responsibility. Soon, Uranus will enter your 11th house of your social world. These two transits are now part of the landscape of your life, and represent a whole new realm of possibilities for you. It will be helpful to distinguish two kinds of leadership: formal and informal. Formal leadership relates to your documented responsibilities; it’s about direct accountability, including those to whom you are accountable and those accountable to you. That’s the Chiron piece of the equation, where your most fitting role is to lead as a teacher. Your knowledge and experience are the roots of your authority (which is a word I relate to authorship). If you come from that angle, you will get better results with people. Uranus in Taurus is more about informal leadership: for instance, setting the example of being different, in ways that are not usually socially acceptable (face it, not much is). This transit is about your personal freedom, and it’s an invitation to push the edge, and to experiment. That includes hanging out with people you never thought you would, and challenging yourself to have a good time. This will suit you, because as this transit develops, nothing will be more boring than normal. And there’s a lot of normal going around right now, so much you can smell it walking down the street. In all respects, your astrology and your life journey are here to remind you that the only thing you can really be is yourself.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You can afford to be more ambitious. You would be; however, your daily responsibilities and sense of commitment to others keep getting in the way. Yet there are big changes going on in the world and in the depths of your psyche, and it’s time to break free. You will always be someone who maintains a high level of responsibility, though it will help you if you set minimums so you know that you’re at least meeting your bottom line. You can then define success by the new creative and professional territory that you take. You don’t need a revolution; you only need an idea. Remember that ideas are fragile in this world, especially for someone like you who has so much for which people are depending on you. Yet with each passing day, you can gradually modify your work patterns, and you can incrementally renegotiate the expectations others have of you, and what you have promised them. Better still, engage those same people to support your projects. This will be instructive. Not only will you discover who around you has talents, you’ll find out how they feel about expressing them; and better yet, you will get a sense of who in your life has a concept of mutuality. Who cares about you enough to get behind what you want to do? Who will watch the kids or watch the store or take care of your critters and plants while you do something new and interesting? Ask politely, and see who responds. The results of this experiment will be interesting.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You need to raise your standard for what constitutes “fun.” You are cautious by nature, so it won’t take much; though actual fun always requires pushing some limit or taking a risk. There has to be an element of passion involved, and that has to come from you and not from the thing you’re doing. Often your point of discovery involves other people. They are endlessly fascinating, challenging and time-consuming. They can provide a forum for your self-discovery, they can be teachers, they can be inspirations, and they can be major distractions. It will be helpful if you enter some territory where others cannot go with you. You need some point of inner orientation that’s not subject to the opinions of others. You might be surprised to discover the extent to which your every thought feels subject to evaluation and even to judgment. If you struggle with guilt in any form, this is likely to be an element of it. The underlying question may be something like: within your life, what is really yours? What physical things, desires, feelings and spaces actually belong to you? And when you claim these things that are rightfully yours, how do you feel? If you feel any misgivings, one result could be that you condition yourself to be cautious, so you don’t step on anyone’s toes, get in the way or offend anyone. This is the thing that needs to change. You must be free to express yourself, take your chances and make your choices, without worrying about anyone’s fragile state of mind. This will take practice, though now is a good time to start.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Pay attention to who you meet in these first few weeks of Chiron in Aries. Beginnings are important times, and you are in one now. Last year’s brief visit of Chiron to your opposite sign (associated with relationships) was a warm-up phase, a test run to acclimatize you to your new environment. Now it’s arrived to stay, and you can count it as a new feature in your landscape. The first thing to do is tune in to the people in your life and what they mean to you. This will of necessity require you to set aside your prejudices and go to a deeper level of human experience — with everyone. It’s true that in our era of history, people have never been more expendable. They seem to be easily blocked or deleted; you never know who anyone really is anyway. Part of your yoga in this realm might include never using a fake name on the internet. Consider that if you have to do something under cover of anonymity, it’s either the wrong thing to be doing, or you’re misrepresenting yourself. The notion of “privacy” (the usual reason for using fake names) is an excuse, and a toxic one. Every time you fragment yourself, you lose a little energy, and you have to maintain the split-off portion of your being. As part of this, you will expect others to be less real. The theme of Chiron in Aries is being real with everyone, and holding them to the standard of being real with you. Here in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, that’s a radical notion.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You have a lot going for you; all you need to do is relax a little. The main thing you will benefit from easing are expectations, both those you place on yourself, and those you place on others. The fewer expectations you have, the less disappointed in people you will be. This is not lowering your standards; rather, it’s about letting people be who they are. Once you know that, it’s easier to figure out what they want, and relate to them from there. However, for this to work you need to be curious about them, and in some way interested in pleasing them. You can afford to make room for who they are, even if they seem to change every day, throw you curves, or in some other way surprise you. This is good yoga for increasing your flexibility in general, and for your ability to be responsive to your environment. Overall, the less tightly wound you are, the better your life will flow. If it seems like certain people are pushing you intentionally, consider the possibility that that’s merely a perception, based on your density level. This is a concept that will be helpful to work with. The denser your vibration, the more erratic others will seem. The lighter and more expanded your vibration is, the more predictable others will seem, and you will be able to anticipate their moves. It’s a little like when you’re driving and you relax and pay attention; you can feel what’s happening just before it happens.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — The recent Full Moon in Virgo is summoning you to focus your path in life, make some decisions, and pull one particular creative angle into focus. I know this may feel more risky now than ever; our lives and the world seem so delicately balanced, and there is so little extra to go around (whether it’s time, money or patience). Yet you’ve entered new territory, territory where you must express yourself from the core of your being, and this is indispensable. Doing this does not happen overnight, though you’ve been building up to this moment for a long time. Your challenge has probably seemed to be about focusing your energy and commitment. Yet you know that on a deeper level, the real challenge has been about taking the plunge of accessing places you’ve never gone deep into, where there is no turning back. If for many long years this particular aspect of your calling has seemed scattered, and somehow impossible to focus, get ready for a new tack. One approach to this new era is to choose one thing, one seemingly small goal, and do it. The ideal aim would seem within reach, contained, specific and would likely be something you’ve experimented with for a while. As an objective, it would relate to a particular thing you produce or to development that you attain. This is not the end in itself; rather, it would be designed as a practice run, so you get the hang of doing it. And with that under your belt, you would move on to another.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You will never make up for your doubts with false certainty. The two are incompatible. It’s far better to stay in a space where you don’t know, rather than to enter territory where you don’t know that you don’t know. This is, however, the difference between awareness and lack thereof; between being intelligent and being a fool. Do everything you can to stay in contact with your uncertainty, your insecurity, and your overt state of not knowing. Then, stand in a conscious relationship to the mystery. For you right now, this includes important elements of the future, including who you are becoming. You are being driven by the feeling that there really is no telling, and you would be wise to make friends with this. The more you can hold open that space, the more you will give your potential room to grow and become. Beware of clarity, which is often the false certainty of a fixed point of view. One way to avert this trap is to be circumspect. Look at a problem, at a situation, and at yourself from many angles, and collect your observations. This is different from skepticism, which is the belief that the truth can never be known. Being circumspect is, rather, a gentle quest for truth. Along these same lines, it’s vital that you not allow others to confine you, or to define your reality for you. You will have an alert that this may be happening when you feel restless and boxed in based on someone’s ideas about you.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You have a strong altruistic streak, though at the moment, you must guard this facet of your nature. Kindness is almost always a virtue, though it takes many forms. It’s different from being naïve. It’s different from making an assessment of the world based on an assessment of yourself. A diversity of factors, including the pending Mercury retrograde, are recommending that you focus on getting the facts, and then studying the patterns. This is particularly true where matters of finance are concerned, as well as your personal value as an asset to yourself or in any situation. There are many facets to what I’ll call the “personal asset value” equation. For you, the final result must be solid, rather than a matter of speculation or feeling valuable or worthwhile. At this stage of your life, you need to work with tangible elements: skill sets, specific knowledge, reliability, problem-solving ability, and your positive financial impact. All of this extends further than your immediate personal sphere and reaches into the world around you; that is the essential nature of Aquarius. You are here to be of service, which is measured not in intentions but in results that you can see and evaluate. If you can do this for the next month or so, you will make significant strides in both your value to the world, and to your own income potential — two elements that by all rights are directly linked. But the link is not a given; do not take it for granted. This will take study and practice.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — The Sun has finally entered your zone of the zodiac, which comes as a relief for you more than any other sign. Your cosmic waters need to be refreshed and warmed, and now is the time. In the long-term sense, the most notable recent development is that Chiron has moved on from Pisces to Aries, ending an eight-year phase of your life. Consistent with the presence of Chiron, you have most likely faced a series of healing-crisis type events in recent years, including a few odd health-related matters. All of these developments have served to push your self-awareness to a higher level. You were able to resolve problems you didn’t think you could ever unravel, and others that you did not know about, and at the same time, put protections in place to make sure similar things don’t happen again. Given what an important transit Chiron through your sign has been (particularly if you were born in the 1960s), I would encourage you to take the forthcoming Mercury retrograde, which takes place entirely in Pisces, and do a review of your life since 2010. Start by finding some markers of where you were then: who you were with, what you were doing, how you felt, where you lived, and what was the most meaningful to you. Then, suss out the major turning points, and see if that gives you a better sense of how you got where you are today. The future is ahead of you, though briefly and sincerely, the past is calling you to notice the ways in which you’ve grown. Give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished.