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A Spiral Door

Paying attention has a bizarre way of awakening something deeper -- "the mind of the senses, the consciousness of creatures," in the words of Lord Krishna. Noticing one's senses is grounding, you start to pick up on a lot of beauty, and sometimes even the really weird stuff often has a way of being pleasurable because there is pleasure in noticing. The mind behind the senses comes to life, and feeds us life.

By Eric Francis

THERE ARE two basic ways to do astrology. One is you use a chart or study a particular cycle to explain something. The other way is you look at a person, time period or an event, and allow that to explain the astrology, exploring what the two have in common. One way relies on the mind a bit more, the other on the senses.

As this annual edition of Planet Waves goes to press, Pluto is in a close conjunction to the Galactic Core for the first time in about 250 years. This is the image of a Spiral Door: a door of the soul, a door in time, a door in history. A lot more is happening, in particular, Jupiter is exactly square Uranus this week, which is a rare and exciting aspect. Mars is on the Aries Point. Eclipses are starting to brew up. But let's focus on Pluto.

What does this conjunction mean? Let's check the sensory data. First, how do you feel? What do you notice around you? Do you feel safe? Do you have what you need? Are you having fun yet?

Second, let's check in with the world. What events stand out? In this approximate time frame, a Democratic congress was elected, Saddam Hussein was hanged and a lot of people feel sorry for him, Bush stated his intentions to bomb and/or invade Iran, the United Nations informed us that 34,000 Iraqis were killed in 2006 (a ridiculous understatement), more people are sick of the war than ever before, the running totals 3,000 US troops dead and 500 with major amputations were announced, two of Saddam's accomplices were executed, Somalia was bombed, there were some huge earthquakes, a black man and a woman declared their candidacy for the US presidency, insane winter storms are coursing through much of the United States, the worst storm in many years ripped through Northern Europe, pounding on coastlines and rattling everyone's houses, and the House of Representatives did its First 100 hours project, putting through a series of laws that actually help people. That, and a few other things. Gee, it sounds like the Great Tribulation. It almost sounds like 2012.

Except that for most, life goes on as normal. The only time I remember someone commenting to me on what was happening in "the world" is when I came into my favorite Turkish restaurant, where I am now and where I write a lot of articles, and the guys were happy that Saddam had been executed that day. Turks and Kurds are cousins, and Saddam was mean to Kurds. Nobody mentioned it again. When the big storm came through the area last week, a pipe above my bedroom leaked, so I discussed the weather with my landlord. Other than that, once I walk out my door, it's life as usual. Oh, smoking was banned in a lot of restaurants in Belgium by order of the King -- a step forward for civilization. I love that smokers now have to stand out in the rain rather than blow their toxins onto me.

Does this tell us much about Pluto on the Galactic Core? Does that tell us much about now? What's for dinner? What about that comet?

Fritz Perls, a pioneer of Gestalt therapy, said that we need to lose our minds and come to our senses. For the most part I agree. The stupor that much of humanity finds itself in would melt away if we would pay attention to our sensory data and not fixate on the constructions of our minds. It would help if we did not constantly jam our senses with repetitive input that basically ensures we can neither sense nor think, but rather that we exist in a perpetually tense, mildly uncomfortable form of half-sleep, something that in fact many people know they are doing intentionally and allow to persist because they feel it's easier. Listen, and you will hear people talk about this, admitting to voluntarily staying asleep. Interesting, right? Well, maybe not as interesting as dogs or playing drums, or dogs playing drums.

It is true, one response to an overwhelming situation is to deaden oneself. Deaden is a strange word. It seemingly means to numb out, but it really means to slowly kill. True fact, one option we have in the middle of life is to slowly kill ourselves, including shutting down our minds, abandoning our bodies and impatiently awaiting death. We have other options. One is to become more alive and experience life more vividly.

Coming to one's senses, that is, actually looking around, listening up and smelling the world, is an excellent idea, according to many who have tried it. You know, you notice the critters around you and stop pretending all those other people on the street aren't there. Paying attention has a bizarre way of awakening something deeper -- "the mind of the senses, the consciousness of creatures," in the words of Lord Krishna. Noticing one's senses is grounding, you start to pick up on a lot of beauty, and even the really weird stuff often has a way of being pleasurable because there is pleasure in noticing. The mind behind the senses comes to life and feeds us life.

Perhaps the difficult part is that once you start to feel, you will typically start to get the feeling you need to do something: get a new job, lose weight, go to therapy, make art, stop the war, have sex, quit Prozac, clean your room, have more sex, move out of your parents' house, move out of your parents' city, start a blog, etc. Action is the fruit of knowledge. Therefore, I make no distinction between deadening oneself and having a great excuse to do nothing; no distinction between not wanting to do anything, or deadening oneself to make that possible.

Often, you can find out a great deal about someone's intentions (including your own) from the results. People in a lot of conflict typically like it that way; people who refuse to live their lives get the benefit of not having to dare living; if you are making art and making love and doing good work, the chances are you planned it that way, and do it actively. Outcomes frequently reveal intentions, despite appearances.

Here is where I part ways with my dear old Uncle Fritz. It's when the senses deceive us; when we need to apply the abstract mind to determine the truth. For example, our senses tell us the Sun goes around the Earth. We needed smart people, not trapped in their beliefs, who could do (or invent) math and see past the visual illusion of the Earth being the center to find out otherwise. They had an odd way of putting the truth of the Universe above all else.

Sometimes we have to look deeper than the senses. Sometimes pretty people are shitheads. Sometimes you need to look at the chart and make some assessments about where things are at. Pluto is crossing the Galactic Core now, and we know this.

This event is the culmination of Pluto in Sagittarius, a long, intense era of history that goes back to the middle of Bill Clinton's first term, and which notably involved a sex scandal that changed the course of world history. We've all been through a lot, and a lot of Pluto transits. Now we're in this big moment, and some are wondering what it all means.

Pluto is the astrological lord of the soul, of death and regeneration, of deep change, and of a specific dimension of sex -- the hormonal one, the one that pushes us to evolve, the one that drives us to total surrender. The Galactic Core is the spot where a super-massive black hole is binding our galaxy of 300 billion stars together with its gravity. The GC is a little like an astrological stand-in for God. Pluto is the stand-in for all that drives the human experience forward. Pluto going over this point is intense. Something that represents the potent God-force within (Pluto), and something that exists as the God-force in the outer world (the Core), are aligning, and we are watching the results. The sex aspect of Pluto and the God aspect of the Core are aligning, and the two are being superheated and fused into one consciousness.

And despite whatever significant progress humanity is making, we have a lot of death, murder and the making of mayhem and profits. In the midst of this exquisitely spiritual transit of Pluto in Sagittarius, the United States government went into a nation and committed mass murder in the name of peace right in front of everyone's face. We hardly hear a peep from anyone who objects. For our purposes, Cindy Sheehan does not count. I am talking about everyone else. When was the last time you gave a rant about the war in the employee lunchroom? People are "waking up," but not often to the point of action or actually caring. Meantime, we have bizarre things happening to the weather patterns, we have to buy water in little bottles because the water in our taps is no longer drinkable, we cling to the last few drops of oil, the ice caps and ice sheets are melting, and life goes on as usual. Here is where we need the abstract mind to help us.

I think that the Bush-Cheney administration going into Iraq, committing mass murder (interspersed by commercials) and basically getting away with it, deserves a closer look for a moment, because it reveals something about us, and it may reveal something of the times to come.

We need to ask our abstract mind what that really means. If this is you, what's your issue? The fact that the World Trade Center was such an obvious inside job and the boys got away with it is in the same category. So, too, were the stolen elections, the gutted constitution, the spying on all of us. How would you feel if I had access to your email, disk drives and could listen to your phone calls? We are seeing how much can be done to us and how few people will say boo because they want life to go on like it did yesterday. Of the 30 percent who still support Bush, I wonder how many would agree that if Bush said he had to bomb San Francisco, that would be fine. How do you feel about Dick Cheney shooting 450 birds on a hunting spree? What if you found out I shot 450 birds this weekend? Would you still read my horoscopes?

Pluto on the Galactic Core is a practice run for whatever we are calling 2012, and how we respond to events now both predicts and gives us a sense of our choices as we approach the vortex. How you are responding now predicts how you will respond as the intensity goes up, and it is going up. What is your main goal at this point? What are you doing about it? What is your relationship to your community? What is your vision for the world? Does it have anything to do with your vision for yourself? If so, what are you doing about it? Do you see spiritual growth as an abstraction, or is it something with tangible results and benefits? If God is in your life, does God tell you to get off your ass?

Perhaps the real issue is psychological, what we do with so much change, in the midst of so much change, which amounts to our whole way of perceiving the world being turned upside-down. Are we willing to embrace the total unfamiliarity that would subsume us, if we admitted the feeling, and the reality that creates it? Do we feel equipped to do so? What if we are not? Then what do we do? Go back to sleep, or wake up and help one another live? Or do we watch it all like the video game we wish it was? Do you ever worry how many people think it's all such a cool illusion? Does it bug you how many people are waiting for "Jesus to come back"?

Pluto aligning with the Galactic Core is the image of something deeply personal aligning with something vast, powerful and impersonal, and the two are having a talk. This is orienting us in the direction of home, and home starts with awareness. Globally, this alignment seems to be raising bloody hell, and with it, a slow wave of awakening; but it's nothing less than the hell we've denied decade after decade. And it may actually be that outer events getting so intense represent our awareness rising.

I recognize the paradox in all this, by the way. To live, we have to wake up, and to wake up, we have to wake up to the beauty and the horror of it all, and process the information. This is more complicated than eating ice cream, but it's better for you. In this, the ninth annual edition of the Planet Waves, called The Spiral Door, I've asked a few of my friends who have gone through the door recently to show us how it's done, or at least tell us what they've learned.

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