Burning Man

A Planet Waves Special Edition
for August 1999 <> Part One

by Eric Francis

Printable Version | Copyright ©1999 Planet Waves Digital Media

In a few days, on Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 12:08 p.m. British time, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun and a shadow will be cast on the Earth in broad daylight. For a few rare, strange moments, darkness will flood across England, France, Spain, Italy, The Vatican, Portugal, Germany, Turkey and many surrounding lands.

Eclipses are astrology we can't deny. If there is a conjunction between Saturn and Uranus, it's invisible, and while many people may experience changes, only astrologers and their merry bands of readers and students know what's happening. Yet when the Sun vanishes over Europe, you can be sure that normal activity will come to a stop. Our busy world will pause, and everyone, from shepherds in the hills of Bavaria to businessmen in London, will stand in the silent shadow of the cosmic order with the astonishment of small children coursing in their hearts.

This doesn't happen often, and you can imagine the awesome power of so many people embraced in a kind of simultaneous, captive meditation as everything around them momentarily ceases to be normal. Call it a reality lapse, only it's one into which the real reality can flow very easily.

In terms of their astrological meaning, eclipses of the Sun follow this image of collective awareness and radical break of continuity. Whether you can see the eclipse does not matter; part of the miracle of astrology is it works anyway. As many of us are discovering personally, eclipses are expanded moments of often uncontrollable, unpredictable change. They also bring the civilization and its communities together, usually through important collective events and the media.

Eclipses are evolutionary gateways, which is another way of saying that when they show up, we do a lot of growing in a short time. Delays are compensated. Old accounts can be wiped clean. While each is unique, eclipses often feel like being shot through a funnel of space-time, and we emerge somewhere different than where we entered. The key to making the best use of them is to move with the energy, not cling to anything or anyone too tightly, and to stay open. Literally, breathe, communicate, feel, love, observe and receive. Remember your intentions. The sense of panic that sometimes accompanies them yields nicely to awareness and revelation, mental conditions that are more natural than we often realize.

Synchronous with the moment of darkness, the heavens are arranged in what is called a "grand cross" aspect, with Mars, Saturn, Uranus, the Sun, the Moon and the Lunar Nodes arranged in a near-perfect "X" with the Earth at center stage. Lest the simplicity of this symbol be lost, I would note that rarely do we consider that our Earth is the centerpiece of our collective reality, the basis of all life as we know it, the home of the biosphere, the body of our bodies, the sustainer of our communities, our physical progenitor and the living sphere of evolution we all share. We are made of earth and we are part of the Earth. In contrast to ideas like "God," which register with many people as total abstractions, the Earth is tangible and always present, dependably beneath our feet, clinging to us. While we often say that "the Earth is in trouble" due to manufactured environmental conditions we now live with, I assure you that we are the ones who stand the most to lose by her injury or destruction.

And this theme of collective survival is quite vivid in our present moment. Synchronous with the eclipse is the arrival of a synthetic celestial object called the Cassini Space Probe. Cassini's complex, 20-month flight pattern has taken it from the Earth to Venus and then, travelling at a speed of 43,000 miles per hour, back past the Earth on Aug. 17, from where it will proceed to Saturn to send back photographs and data. Cassini is designed as a scientific messenger, but on the mystical level, Cassini is a warning. Carrying 72 pounds of plutonium, the largest such payload ever created of this incomprehensibly deadly substance, Cassini's message to humanity is to beware of the nuclearization of space, and to beware of all other forms of science that are out of control. Whether space is loaded with bombs or nuclear energy technology (as with Cassini), the risks are extremely high; for example, should Cassini or one of 13 similar planned missions go wrong, a probe could re-enter the atmosphere, where it would incinerate, distributing, in Cassini's case, enough plutonium to induce lung cancer in 32 billion people -- more than four times the current estimated global population. And for this risk, we get pictures of Saturn? It's too ridiculous to be possible.

Cassini is a test balloon in the new generation of Nukes in Space. We are the test subjects; the experiment is whether we notice, and if we do, whether we care. It is also a symbol of technology that is bigger and more powerful than us, and while there are many insane branches of science, few are so poignant. That only a tiny handful of people know of Cassini's existence is a symbol not of human ignorance, but of the concealment of information, and it's one that cannot be read separately from any other factor in this eclipse. But equally vital is that most people have learned about Cassini through a new medium, the Internet, which is another profound symbol of the times in which we live because it facilitates both individuals and mass numbers of people from any part of the globe finding one another, sharing information and expressing common interests -- and ultimately, with any luck, expressing social and political power. There are many examples in history of advents of communication facilitating populist organization, and the Internet, if we use it consciously, will be one of them.

These late-century years of revelation have been widely prophesized as a time of global devastation. This is the supposed time of the "Armageddon" of Christian theology, an event which would conveniently erase the necessity we now have to take responsibility for what we have created, to face our mental chaos and take action. Any God worthy of the name would not be so stupid as to allow us to declare karmic bankruptcy in such a moment. In fact, we stand at a global culmination point, and at an intersection of realities, a moment of Free Will if there ever was one. Much like the fact of this eclipse falling across Europe during the Sun's zenith in the sky, the celestial setup signifies a mighty threshold for humanity at its crest, promising a process of challenges to established ideas and structures, and magnifying, by what I would guestimate as a factor of one hundred, the transformative power of the event both personally and collectively. Though while there will surely be collective transformations, it's not guaranteed, by any means, in what direction. We get to decide that, one by one, day by day.

A telling symbol of our times is that many people have become interested in spiritual process. Historians say this is typical of turns of centuries, though the content of the contemporary divine message warrants attention. In one of the most popular modern spiritual books, Conversations with God, we have the Creator personifying as a deity who is aware of us, who listens and who says reasonable things, but who depends upon our ability to decide for ourselves. "As I have said, this isn't the first time your civilization has been at this brink," God explains to Neale Walsh. "I want to repeat this, because it is vital that you hear this. Once before on your planet, the technology you developed was far greater than your ability to use it responsibly. You are approaching the same point in human history again. It is vitally important that you understand this. Your present technology is threatening to outstrip your ability to use it wisely. Your society is on the verge of becoming a product of your technology rather than your technology being a product of your society. When a society becomes a product of its own technology, it destroys itself."

Perhaps, as evidenced by the mere fact that these words made it not just into print but onto the New York Times bestseller list, we are getting the message.

Many readers have asked me what to do with or about this eclipse. There is no one right thing. Simply, pay attention. Look and listen. Enjoy the day. Feel your own presence. Eat lunch in your favorite restaurant. Visit the gerbils in the pet store. Masturbate for six hours. Compose your magnum opus. Walk like you belong on the planet, and remind yourself that, despite any appearances to the contrary, you are blessed and secure in the trusted hands of Creation. We can surely respond to change with fear if we want, but it is only from the space of awareness and confidence that we can effectively make the creative choices necessary to get ourselves out of the problems that we are currently in. One reason for this is we can't save ourselves alone. We need each other, and to have each other, we will need to be in a space of love.


Darkness at the Break of Noon

One of the most practical things about eclipses is that they function as individual gateways, but are also part of the historical process, tending to unite large numbers of people in evolutionary movement. Consider the events of your life in the summer of 1997, when Princess Diana was killed, and you may get a sense of what I am talking about. This means that eclipse charts and the actual events surrounding them can be read collectively. So, first I will take a shot at the meaning of an eclipse falling over Europe.

Since the 15th Century, the British and European kings and queens, and their agents, have been actively conquering the world. The United States of America is only one of the more successful British/European settlements, and it too has set about conquering, conniving, infiltrating, and purchasing at below market-value everyone, everywhere and everything in sight. In all, many millions of indigenous people, hundreds of nations, thousands of tribes and communities and cultures, including advanced civilizations like the Aztecs, as well as untold forests and animals, have been executed for no reason other than they were in the way of progress. The killing still continues in many guises, such as "the war on drugs."

If, as the poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "Language is a map of our failures," then look at the map and note the prevalence of Spanish, English and French as regional languages, extending way out to the four corners of the Earth, and you will see where the Europeople slaughtered and enslaved populations, creating our modern industrial civilizations that have unfolded into the ecocidal, genocidal capitalist (and largely Christian) world we now inhabit. The fact of our current global environmental devastation is a direct result of the merciless, marauding tendencies of European, British and American ruling classes. It is the logical outcome of unbridled conquering; a technological extension of the concept of death-for-profit.

"In the next two decades," according to New World Vistas, a US Air Force publication, "new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict. These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills."

If I were making a movie about this, I would call it, Christopher Columbus: The Next Millennium.

"It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen," General Joseph Ashy, chief of the U.S. Space Command, nonchalantly informs us. "Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue, but -- absolutely -- we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space. That's why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms."

Interesting to remember that for all our Cold War paranoia about the USSR nuking us, America is the only country to have ever detonated atomic bombs on civilian populations. Just weeks after Allied forces reached Buchenwald, the first of Hitler's concentration camps to be freed, we sent out the Egnola Gay to bomb Hiroshima, a Japanese city that had been previously spared from conventional bombing because we wanted to strike a "virgin" target for the purpose of researching the effects of The Bomb on people and civil structures. A couple of days later, we were back, detonating Nagasaki, in all, killing and exposing to radiation untold hundreds of thousands of ordinary people.

I traveled through Germany for some months last year, investigating the Holocaust and attitudes about it. Most Germans, especially the young ones, were truly remorseful of their culture's history, which is more than I can say about most Americans. At least the Germans know about, and can admit, that what happened between 1933 and 1945, the murder of 12 million people in concentration camps, and the torture of many millions more, was wrong. Coincidentally, it's worth mentioning that in contemporary Germany and much of Europe, through the work of the Green Party and the agricultural Bio Movement, environmental values are now a real cultural ideal, and have actual political clout. In America, our idea of an environmental movement is when Monsanto, the biotech giant, runs the Food and Drug Administration, and when one of the company's former high-ranking corporate lawyers, Clarence Thomas, of "pubic-hair-in-the-Coke" fame, sits for life on the Supreme Court. Holocausts take many forms, and in America, enormous ones can be concealed by a little curl of crotch hair.

While it's not possible to measure human suffering, the Nazi storm of fire was a drop in the ocean of blood compared to those that came, and continues to arrive, in the wake of Columbus, Magellan, Cortes, John Smith and their numerous successors. To be sure, it has not been an easy half-millennium for the descendents of these human viruses, nor for the indigenous people they infected with their violence and religion, nor for the maimed and poisoned military veterans and cancer victims of our current century, whose children often fall ill as a result of their parents' war injuries. In our times, the word "world" is often synonymous with "war." And though we're conditioned to believe that war is "for the good cause" (to quote Nostradamus, in his famous 1999 quatrain), it's always a business venture. New military products, such as magnetic bombs, disease bombs, the mysterious assortment of nuclear bombs, and those space-bombs, space-based lasers and particle beams, are all fabulous for business -- not the local pizza parlor, but big business, which is big government, which are the banks. The rest of us, Wee People, just pay for it all, many times, many ways.

Yet as the plundering spirit has been turned inward to DNA, the basic encoding of life, even war is starting to look like a trivial problem compared to things like genetic engineering and the massive immune-system disturbances from which humans and many other species are now suffering. Millions of mutated plants are being turned loose on the Earth with no knowledge of the potential outcomes. Potatoes, the actual vegetables, the ones you eat in McDonalds fries, are registered as pesticides, since they're tinkered-with to kill insects. Plant genetics are rewritten so they can withstand herbicides, which are then dumped from helicopters, all for good money. And various "genome" projects seek to unravel, database and patent the contents of DNA, ostensibly for "progress" but really for profit.

The corporations which are spearheading the campaign to decode life and turn it into a marketable commodity are not exactly the most trustworthy entities on the planet, having long, documented histories of fraud and negligence, which are nice ways of saying Murder One. And they are now fully capable of manufacturing genocide in their laboratories and factories, and inflicting it, by accident or by contract, not just on the present, but on the entire succession of the future. But hey, it's just another frontier, right?

It is clear that the fulcrum of history that occurred in the mid-1400s, back when we learned the devastating news that the world was not the center of the universe, is heading in some potentially catastrophic directions. And it's time to put the Earth, the World, back at the center, before it's too late. We understand this intellectually, but do we get it emotionally? Do we get it on such a level that we can never forget? On a level that inspires anger and action, and gets us to provoke our relatives? And would it all be more obvious if not for the constant influx of television and radio blotting our consciousness from early in the morning to late into the night? If we stopped to think, don't you think we'd be able to think?

We humans are great survivors, though at the moment we use denial as our primary means of staying sane, and it is killing us.

Yet we persist with our lives, frustrated and confused as we are at times, and as elusive as happiness and fulfillment seem to be. We raise our children and care for our pets and do what we can to stay in our relationships even when people are mean to us. We carry on with our professions, our creative lives, and our dreams, as best we humanly can. We work toward something, even though we don't quite know what it is. But one thing we need -- even some of the most spiritually advanced people on the planet, by the way -- is a clear vision of collective survival, and to understand why such a notion is so strange to so many of us.

And here is this eclipse, this inevitable threshold, which rings in a series of astrological events of which this is just the beginning. The eclipse darkens Europe, the "first world," the very seat of empire, and it falls in Leo, the sign of royalty. Among other elements in the celestial configuration, Saturn, the symbol of government, which is stuck and frustrated in Taurus, is challenged by revolutionary, brilliantly creative Uranus from its sign of rulership, Aquarius; and Saturn is exactly opposed by warrior Mars from its sign of rulership, Scorpio.

All told, this is not a particularly happy omen for established powers or structures, all of which will someday fall. But mainly, it is a message of opportunity for us to take some ground and to claim back our own minds from the inner colonization we have all undergone. Awareness, not perfection, is the goal I suggest you strive for, because it's the critical first step, and it's actually attainable. All things begin in consciousness, so participation first means becoming aware of the world situation, including the very real signs of progress. We, as individuals, are the very first fields of action where the process of planetary healing must begin, and we then take this process into our communities, defining "community" as we proceed.

But please make a note of this detail. Awareness, like DNA, is a double process. At the same time, we need to taste our human potential, both to help and heal, as well as to create, love and explore reality. As Sting said, "Without a breath of real freedom, we're getting nowhere fast." One of the great tools of the oppression has been sexual repression, which is the repression of the life force and of love. We must learn to go beyond this manufactured sickness toward the great sea of pleasure that awaits our arrival. Another tool of oppression has been the long cultivation of male domination of women, and the apparently justified female mistrust of men, but these too are synthetic products. Our first real communities will be cultures of two, three and four, as we slowly begin to feel the love and trust we are capable of expressing toward one another, and assisting one another not just in survival, not just in coping with pain, but in attaining our creative visions and personal ideals. Without one, we will not have the other

Events and astrology reveal each other's true meanings, but in the end, life is more telling than the oracle, and life is what we actually participate in. In the continuation of this essay, I will survey several collective events surrounding the Aug. 11 total solar eclipse in an effort to "read" the world and see what we can learn. I'll start in upstate New York, then look at events in Berkeley, California, then through Colorado and central Florida, back to New York, then into cyberspace and to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. There are no direct, linear connections between these locations or events; but they are synchronous; they are all happening right around now. Just like everything else... and it should be quite interesting. "Stay tuned..."

Have fun. Pay attention.

Burning Man continued here... "Flashpoints"

Planet Waves Contents | August Horoscopes | Extra Eclipse Horoscope

To learn more about biotech, visit the Rachel database.

Thanks to investigative journalist Prof. Karl Grossman for his awesome work on Cassini, and to Raphael Garritano, Arthur Joseph., Kalli Halvorson, David Arner, Laurie Burnett, Elisa Novick, Maria, Keiko and everyone else who has run process with me on this eclipse for weeks, months or years. Thanks in advance to Evil Pippi of Burning Man in San Francisco. "Firefall," image above, by www.FireImages.com, provided by Domunique and modified by Eric Francis. All contents ©1999 by Planet Waves Digital Media, all rights reserved.++