A birthday letter from Eric Francis, about our mission, and the ground we’re built on

Dear Friend and Reader:

My 55th birthday is this week — a moment of reflection and reorientation.

My chart has Pisces Sun and many other planets; Cancer rising and Aquarius Moon conjunct Vesta. I survived my Chiron return. Lately, I’ve been cleaning and catching up on work, and finally nearing the end of the Intelligence readings.

If I may request a moment of your time and thought, there’s something I want to ask for your help with.

The topic involves the health and sustainability of Planet Waves, and our ability to provide the services that we do. This letter is thorough rather than cursory, so thank you in advance for your attention.

We’re now (somewhat incredibly) in our 21st year, after turning 20 on the winter solstice. We’ve updated our websites every day for more than 7,300 days. I am finishing the 21st annual edition. I’ve written to you from many regions of the United States, and from Belgium, Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands and Poland.

We’ve been riding the waves and currents and hurricanes of the digital world for nearly its entire history (my first company, Student Leader, even hosted a bulletin board service or BBS in 1990!). I’m sure you know the Digital Life is an adventure: sometimes exciting, sometimes harrowing. I am one of the last astrologers of the print era and an early adapter to digital, and we’ve been directly involved in that transition.

Planet Waves started the same year Google did, and we’ve been on the ride for AOL, Internet 1.0 and 2.0 and the dot-com rise and the doc-com crash and the blogosphere and the social media age; the rise of Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

Compared to these massive entities, Planet Waves is a little seaside boutique, run mostly from people’s homes.

Yet we’re one that’s devoted to doing our work with the utmost integrity — excellent writers supported by a research team, with many layers of proofreading and fact verification before you read a single sentence. Our horoscopes are actually meaningful, read by many people who have no other use for astrology.

We cover controversial and complex subject matter — meaning the things that nearly everyone else refuses to write about. We take a holistic view of astrology, treating it as integrated with life rather than a thing apart. If you’re looking for organic, artisan, locally-sourced and handmade, we are it.

What I’m doing as your astrologer

We live in stressed-out times. Many people are just hanging on, whether emotionally, spiritually, financially or some combination. It’s very, very difficult to muster up real hope or faith in the future. Yet it’s possible to find your way.

As your astrologer, I’m here with an agenda. My mission is to remind you of your inner creative source; and to help you find your way there. That’s it.

Everything I say and write, whether presented as journalism or a horoscope or teaching or music, is intended to point you toward yourself. This might serve the purpose of healing, or of inspiring you to get your life in order. You might be making a professional decision, or working out a relationship: it’s all the same.

It takes a village to help me do this work for you.

We’re doing this in times when it seems like everything in the world is designed to alienate you from yourself, and seize the narrative of your life: advertising, the exploitation of your personal data, or news reports that feel like an onslaught of pain and negativity. Many of the most sensitive people I know sense that something is seriously askew.

And then we arrive in your inbox with a moment of peace and reflection. We’re here to remind you that you still exist, and that your life has value, in the midst of all this chaos and controversy and contention. If we challenge you, our intention is to do so gently and thoughtfully.

Yesterday, a longtime reader wrote to me in response to this week’s Monday Morning edition and said, "What you are providing goes far beyond astrology or journalism. Your writing and insight into life are on par with those of the great philosophers." High praise, though this is a fragile and sensitive role, with the world now in its fraught, benighted condition. But it’s the only one that I have.

About the ground we’re built on — you

When I posted my first web project in 1995 (The Worlds of Eric Francis), there were just 25,000 websites on the internet, in all the world.

Today there are 200,000,000 active sites and 1.6 billion total sites. We were among the very first subscription websites; today, everyone and everything is trying to collect, and then they aggressively pelt you with advertisements.

We are feeling this.

For us, subscriptions are the ground we’re built on. We don’t accept advertising — for many reasons, all of them related to ethics and integrity. We want a clear space for you to consider the meaning of your life. Ads do not comport with that purpose. So we depend on you, like an ashram depends on the people who seek refuge and healing there.

Over the past five years or so, competition from, well, everyone and everything has cut into our subscription revenue. Many who follow my work have become customers of my readings, but no longer subscribe. It’s true — we have a lot of ‘free’ materials; we want to be available for those who wander in from the cold.

This puts a lot of pressure on me to over-produce. And it creates a kind of seasonal roller coaster that we dearly need to get off of. We maintain publishing every day through the year, which means we must cover the same basic expenses from month to month.

About half of your subscription revenue goes to pay people: writers, editors, artists, proofreaders, fact-checkers and web developers (we do all of this on the equivalent of one low-paid corporate executive salary). The other half covers our overhead: internet service fees (which are substantial, as we host two decades of materials), rent, utilities, insurance and debt service. I own all the stock, and reinvest any extra funds right back into the business.

Building and rebuilding Planet Waves

At the moment, we’re involved in rebuilding the Planet Waves website from the ground up — a new content system, a custom mailing system, and an actual store, which will have individual user accounts. (It took me more than two years to find a developer who would do this at a cost we can afford.)

All of this is good news. We can do what we do for you, and we do it with love.

And — we need your help. Every couple of years I have to ask, and I’m encouraged by my readers to ask again when necessary.

We’ve greatly improved our subscription options; all now include your astrological charts, a PDF of my book, and many other features. You can see those here.

If you’re subscribing for the first time, thank you. You may also revive, renew, renew early, or upgrade and extend. We have monthly, quarterly and yearly options — something for every budget. We happily work with people on fixed or limited incomes.

We’ve also founded a nonprofit corporation, called Chiron Return, to publish Planet Waves FM each week (and host a document resource for investigative reporters, called The Gemstone File).

You can help us cover those modest costs by being a one-time or monthly sustainer. All donations are a tax write-off for U.S. citizens. Here is that option. We know there is a philanthropist out there who wants to help us take Chiron Return to the next level.

We are doing our best to provide a source of light and nourishment for our readers, and for anyone who may wander in from the wild and chilly internet.

Thank you for taking advantage of our work, and for doing what you can to make sure our mission continues long into the future.

With Pisces love,

eric

PS — if you would prefer to speak with us by phone, please leave a message at (845) 481-5616 and we will get back to you shortly. If you want to email us a question about your options, you may do so here.

PPS — Here is the new Planet Waves TV.