Astrology Secrets Revealed by ERIC FRANCIS

Around the World in 71 Days and 14 Hours


February 11, 2004 (with chart)


Dear Intrepid Readers:


While in other news the world is quietly going mad, Ellen MacArthur, a 28-year-old amateur sailor born in Derbyshire, England, completed an around-the-world journey in just over 71 days and 14 hours. She sailed solo from the English Channel down around Antarctica and back, arriving without fanfare Monday night at 10:29 pm Greenwich Mean Time. French authorities said she could not light flares or be greeted by other boats because the area is a busy shipping lane. The party happened the next morning, as she was met closer to shore by a little fleet of fans and supporters and escorted home to Falmouth Harbor.


Last week I mentioned that there was an awesome lineup developing in Aquarius. When Ellen reached the finish line, that alignment was at its peak: we were in the last 24 hours of the lunar cycle, just before the Aquarius New Moon, impressive enough by itself. There were also two close conjunctions in Aquarius, Moon conjunct Venus (the closest and next immediate event) and Mercury conjunct Neptune.


"For the current days," I wrote, "the emphasis is on Venus, which just arrived in Aquarius. This is a different kind of feminine energy than we're used to. Her emphasis is on the intellect rather than on the emotions; she is a master of science, but able to maintain a state of equality with her peers; her idea of love is a lot more free and liberated than what we're generally accustomed to in our society, and she can be an important teacher." In another article somewhere, I mentioned Venus in Aquarius as the female avatar, a description I read in the 'Mountain Astrologer' magazine a few years ago.


All together, I could not think of better words to describe Ellen MacArthur except Hot Damn.


Among the most impressive Aquarian themes of Ellen's journey were the team of people -- Team Ellen -- who are actually her tribe and family of choice. In a truly Aquarian way, they connected to her via technology, communicating with her and even monitoring her sleep patterns via satellite. And around the world, the family of supporters and admirers who kept track of her astonishing journey spread the network wider. She received more than 60,000 emails during her journey, which were automatically posted to her site and which she could download while aboard her ship.


Imagine how important this kind of human contact is while you're floating around Antarctica.


Let's take a look at the chart for her arrival home Monday night.


With charts for truly extraordinary events, we often learn more from the chart than we can say about it; at other times, striking symbolism emerges that is so apropos of the moment we are handed something like proof of astrology's ability to see the quality of a moment as easily as a camera records the image of a tree in daylight.


It's always nice to say hello to the ascendant first. Libra is rising. We have, for sure, witnessed a feat of balance, initiative and energy -- as well protection and luck, represented by Jupiter about to rise over the horizon. Very nice. A little planet has risen a few minutes before our chart is cast -- Pallas Athene. She is the ultimate diplomat, warrior, strategist and protector. So there is quite a bit of protection suggested in this chart. One would need protection, to sail 27,000 miles through all kinds of weather all alone. And it certainly required strategy.


The main focus of energy is from the 4th to the 5th houses; notice the cluster that includes Chiron (little green key, in Capricorn, lowest planet), followed by the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Neptune and the Sun and Juno (in Aquarius), and Uranus (in Pisces, a surprising, inventive and inspired event, on the water). Because the ascendant of the chart is Libra, we can use whole-sign houses and count all of Aquarius for the 5th house -- a daring, risky and creative undertaking (5th house), expressed by a group of people (Aquarius).


I am particularly fond of the Mercury-Neptune conjunction -- you could read that as 'news from the sea'. If you're trying to figure out the meaning of Mercury, you can always substitute the words 'message from' or 'news about' and see how that works. At the same time, all the Aquarius references vibrate with technology. This woman was not sailing around in a barrel; it was a glorious example of scientific artistry. Mercury, Neptune and Aquarius make a nice image of her sleek little sailing ship and its nervous system quickly skating along the surface of the water.


The closest -- that is, the very next -- planetary aspect in the chart is the Moon conjunct Venus. Here, we have a picture of the leading actor, Ellen MacArthur. This is obvious intuitively, but when we suss out the technicalities, the image works out nicely. Usually, the ruler of the ascendant of the chart is the planet that symbolizes the question, the main event and in this case, the person who is the subject of the chart. Because the ascendant is Libra, that would be Venus in Aquarius.


Venus is about to be conjoined by the Moon. Notice that Cancer, the sign ruled by the Moon, is on the 10th house cusp, at the very top of the chart. The 10th is the house of achievement, reputation, status, and standing in the world. Saturn in Cancer standing there, high on top of the chart, is certainly an image of achievement on the high seas. The Moon, ruler of both the 10th and of Saturn, becomes the representative of that house, and we see that in the moment of arriving back home, it's like she's being blessed by the Moon, the lord of the 10th.


The fact that the rulers of both the ascendant and the 10th -- widely considered the most intense, important houses (also described as angular houses) -- are in a conjunction speaks to how solid of an achievement this really is.


Cancer, the Moon and Aquarius have something in common: being representatives of 'the people'. They are all populist factors, and certainly plenty of that energy is around. But there's an interesting feature in this chart, which is that Saturn and the Moon occupy one another's signs. In traditional astrology, Saturn rules Aquarius, and the Moon rules Cancer. These planets are placed in one another's signs -- a somewhat rare condition called mutual reception.


Opinions are all over the map on whether mutual reception is helpful or not, and if we're using this chart as a test, in fact, she lived through the trip, she broke the record, and when it was over, she got to dance around on her ship with a big bottle of champagne spraying all over the place and millions of friends and admirers sharing her achievement. Do we have anything to complain about? It could have worked out a lot worse -- and in truth, no better. So this is one example where we have to assume the mutual reception was helpful.


Mutual reception is handy when you have a planet that's in a sign which does not usually go along with that planet. For example, Saturn in Cancer is not considered particularly strong in some instances (it is very strong in others).


However, when we apply the mutual reception, Saturn goes to the sign of its rulership, Aquarius. Also note, as the highest planet in the chart, it's granted what is called 'accidental dignity' which in this case is no joke.


If we follow the astrological rule 'mutual reception by degree' -- that is, the planets switch signs, and keep their original degree -- we wind up with a very solid Sun-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius.


Now, what does this chart tell us that we could not find out on BBC? I must take an intuitive leap. I think that this is a far greater achievement than is being recognized, and that the repercussions will go further, even though we may never see them. In the bizarre world of news (where we typically hear about these things), the priorities of life are twisted beyond recognition. So the full impact of achievements is not recognized, because it has few opportunities to be recognized.


I propose that we're going to be hearing more from Ellen MacArthur, and not just about sailing. I see her as some kind of honorary international diplomat, a true woman of the world, whose ideas may become quite valuable to the rest of us.


Certainly, we can consider what she has to say now.


The world is not a particularly easy place for anyone, but most girls grow into women in the shadow of how allegedly great the great men are. When a young woman does something this astonishing, this outrageous, this 'impossible' -- the message that goes out to the girls and the women of the world is not just beautiful, it is indispensable. Trust me, I took plenty of inspiration from Ellen's achievement, but I think it counts a lot more for young girls who are growing up in a world where all they see (particularly in the media) are negative messages. Ellen went a long way to show us something else.


"I hope that through what I am doing at the moment, through be determined about the goal, can show people that things can be possible, it doesn't always go your way but it can be possible," she said at her news conference Tuesday.


"That's something that I've always believed, so any way I can take that forward let's hope that that's a positive thing."