From the STAR-NAVIGATOR for August 1998
Exploring the Planet and the Planets
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Written in Freiburg, Germany & Sts. Maries de la Mere, France, July 1998
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Thinking of You
On Judgment Day
By Eric Francis
ONE DAY NEXT SUMMER, August 11, 1999, at 11:08 am GMT, to be exact, the Sun will appear to dim out, blocked by the solid, apparently lifeless mass of the Moon. At this moment, our little world will be centered at the cross-hairs of several planets closely aligned at 90 degrees in a big "x" - known, curiously enough, as a "grand" cross. Many astrologers have been watching this one coming for years.
For my friends in the reading audience who don't normally stroll around at lunch hour pondering planetary alignments or The Millennium, I can offer only this definitive interpretation: It won't be your average Wednesday.
I know, it's a stretch. Clearly, we're more intellectually advanced than the natives Magellan tricked into believing he could make the Sun go out because he had predicted an eclipse, which gave him a lot of clout in their eyes. For the illuminated, educated mind of a modern Westerner, omens from the invisible world went out with the 1692 witchcraft trials in Salem. Right?
But then there are the pesky facts. Eclipses, whether we understand them or not, mark intense transition points. The Persian Gulf War and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales are among them, plus a peculiar weekend several years ago when an electrical malfunction caused a rare chain-reaction of PCB and dioxin explosions that tainted buildings at SUNY-New Paltz so badly that the clean-up bill exceeded $50 million, and one building could not be re-entered by students for six years. That same weekend, eight students were crushed to death in a bizarre incident in the City College of New York gymnasium. Both the SUNY and CCNY disasters were traced to negligence by public officials; the Gulf Oil War was murder; Diana's driver was drunk; but they all happened.
Eclipses, which often feel on a personal level like sudden, inevitable shifts in our lives, are not noted in most peoples' date books, and we're trained to ignore the connections rather than see them. The only place society consistently acknowledges astrology, the second oldest profession, is in a little mystical ghetto known as the horoscope column, though eclipses are often considered too esoteric to get mentioned.
Besides eclipses, grand crosses are about the only other events that entice astrologers to drop their charts, get on their knees and press their heads to Mother Earth. They happen every now and again (August 1996 comes to mind), but not like this one, which involves the Sun and Moon, Mars, Saturn and Uranus, precisely aligned across the powerful "fixed cross" of the zodiac - Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius - with the Earth dangling in the middle of it all like a pea, and a total solar eclipse thrown in for good measure. Frankly, it's ominous.
When I started to get a sense of the whole business, my instinct was to print greeting cards, beautiful plastic-coated things with Jesus in a white raiment descending from the illuminated orange clouds of heaven, bearing the message, "Good Luck on Judgment Day."
After all, the calf, lion, eagle and man, the symbols of the four fixed signs, re-appear as what some people call "the four beasts of the apocalypse" in the so-called Book of Revelation, that 1st century masterpiece of political propaganda and occult symbolism that got stuck onto the end of the Christian Bible. Its spectacular visions of flaming trees, oceans of blood and swarms of locusts that sting like scorpions (inflicted upon us by a loving God, incidentally, mostly for the ever-popular crime of fucking) have been used to torment humanity (and entertain assorted poets, artists and tripping college students) since around the day it was written. The journalist Hunter S. Thompson says it's what he reads when he's bored at 4 a.m. in a hotel someplace like Nashville. The front desk, which doesn't usually stock Chaucer and Blake, always has one laying around.
Still, the Book of Revelation maintains those few persistent shreds of credibility -- the poisonous ones I keep finding in my food and water, with fancy names like 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin. Revelation's images of "sorceries" and "vials of wrath" remind me a tad too much of my collection of Monsanto Chemical Co. documents for comfort, the evidence-tagged ones featuring sorcerers in lab coats cooking up their Pyrex jars of toxic rage.
Much as I'd love to dismiss the eclipse and the notion of an "apocalypse" as bullshit, the end of the world thing raises some valid questions now, and just in time. Of course "the world" isn't ending any time soon, but we're a different story. The poison is indeed spreading, households are in turmoil, and fear is rising. It's astonishing to me, ominous in fact, how many people smoke how many cigarettes no matter how much they know about how many poisons they contain, as if, why worry? As noted by German philosopher Dieter Duhm in his Political Theory for a Nonviolent Earth, there are many people already living in apocalyptic times. They range from the U'wa people of Colombia, who have threatened to commit mass suicide to protest destruction of the environment by oil exploration and drilling in their ancestral homelands, to many Christian and survivalist sects currently preparing for "The End" as a matter of what they feel is common sense.
We look at them askance, with a kind of sideways leer, and yet sometimes with a little envy, not so arrogant as to think they're totally nuts. I mean, who knows, right? When you stop and think about life for one second, your brain flashes: This Is Weird. And there's a little dioxin and PCBs in everything we eat and drink, right? And sperm counts in men today are half of our grandfathers', right? At that rate, how long before we're all sterile? And what about cancer rates hovering at around 50%?
Deep in the backs of our minds, way down in the dim crevices of the brainstem, near the data we use to fart, lurks the question of whether there's going to be some big cataclysm to mark the end of the millennium. Something like a financial market disaster or a chunk of California falling off the map, or a little atomic skirmish in midtown Manhattan, just to let us know we got it overwith. After all these aeons, we finally have the ability to nuke ourselves, and good. And I mean, wouldn't it come as a great relief, after all the suspense? The question I hear asked most often seems to be when, not what. People in my community in New York seriously talk about Mohonk Mountain House becoming a kind of seaside resort. Then there are those highly spiritual and politically conscious individuals secretly wishing "It" will happen, just to screw the Rothchilds, the Rockefellers and the banks. Anything for a little revenge.
And then, finally, are the sensible folk, the cool, rational beings who are certain things out there will be fine, but get the pressure from in there. It penetrates the air conditioning, the carpets and the surround-sound Vivaldi, mindless of the unplugged phones, creeping clear through the lies they told just to get a little peace and quiet. Lurking quietly in the corner. Waiting.
Little glimpses of how reality has become disconnected from what some people call "spirit" or "the source" and what other people call "the planet" are everywhere. There is an inner world wanting to burst out, and an outer world constantly bursting in, demanding to know: How long are we going to keep doing nothing about the devastation of the rain forests for the sake of Big Macs? What about that nuclear dumping in the oceans you read about yesterday? And why are you pretending the slow, steady heating of the atmosphere is meaningless? Don't the questions themselves drive us so mad that denial is an essential part of getting through the day? Don't they scream, "You are powerless!" I would call this a first-class spiritual crisis. Nothing Bill Clinton signs or that the UN adopts can stop it. No well-documented facts we read in the newspaper, like the ones about the tobacco scandals, can make us change our lives.
Then there's the eclipse, which blazes out like a huge yellow sign on the slick highway blinking C - A - U - T - I - O - N. Eclipses release pressure, which can be messy, and we are under pressure. However, I am one of those good news astrologers. Massive eclipses? Flaming trees? No problem. Grand crosses? Oceans of blood? All in a day's work. Locusts that sting like scorpions? I have a recipe for them. My job is to miraculously turn anything and everything I see in the sky into some kind of uplifting message from which, at the very least, no matter how dismal, pathetic and hopeless things look, you can gain fresh perspective and take action rather than merely freak.
This is one reason why I'm writing about this long before the New York Post and the Weekly World News and The Jesus Channel grab hold of it. I expect that my esteemed colleagues at these reputable media, and lots of others, will have a feeding-frenzy with - or under the crazed influence of - this eclipse the like of which we haven't seen in a while. Here's why.
Within days of the event, the Earth will be visited, hopefully briefly, by a gadget called the Cassini Space Probe. Remember that name, if you don't already. This device was sent out by space aliens - namely the US government's cosmocrats at NASA, who last October launched Cassini amid great but not-great-enough controversy. Cassini's flight path is currently taking it to Venus, after which it will fly back past the Earth next summer, timed impeccably with the eclipse. This "flyby" will hopefully "slingshot" the probe further out into space, past Jupiter, to photograph our old friend Saturn. Astrologically, Saturn represents the edge, and we are surely headed there.
The problem is this: Cassini contains 72 pounds of high-grade plutonium, used in the electrical batteries that run its digital brain, radios and cameras. This sexy (and expensive) hunk of radioactivity will skim past the Earth's atmosphere moving very, very fast - at about 42,300 miles per hour. If the slide-rule dudes at NASA screwed the pooch on their calculations, or if something mechanical or technical goes wrong that day, then Cassini, which has no heat shields, can re-enter the atmosphere, where it would incinerate like a meteor, spewing its nuclear stash all over the biosphere. This would be bad.
Seventy-two pounds is mucho plutonium. Far less can make a modest atomic bomb, say, something on the scale of Hiroshima. But this is an atomic battery, not a bomb, and the potential danger is the release of the plutonium rather than an explosion. In one prior space accident, just two pounds of plutonium burned up on re-entry of a satellite, and traces of that specific satellite's fuel, which were marked ("radioactively tagged"), were found in every corner of the globe. According to Dr. Helen Caldicott of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other scientists, exposure to only one-millionth of a gram of the stuff can cause lung cancer, which means many other illnesses too. Thus, Cassini packs enough plutonium to give more than 32 billion people lung cancer. The planet Pluto represents mass-consciousness. Now I see why.
NASA documents talk about the need to "demolish some or all structures" in the event of Cassini falling from space and hitting a city, and to "relocate the affected population permanently." They've even budgeted for it.
In addition to Cassini being a very stupid idea, could it be the "terror" that will "come from the sky" that Nostradamus predicted hundreds of years ago for July and August 1999?
According to Dr. Karl Grossman, the investigative reporter and journalism professor at SUNY-Old Westbury who's digging out all the facts on this issue, NASA keeps raising its estimates of how many thousands of people would be killed by "accidental" re-entry of Cassini. Yet while scientists, astrologers and Revelation-toting Christians generally consider one another heretics, it all does kinda point to the same thing.
As for old Nostradamus, he's right. There will indeed be "terror from the sky" next summer if the media grab the Cassini story and run with it, terrifying everyone, perhaps legitimately, yet pretending they had no clue about the danger of the plutonium release last October when Cassini was launched. And if they don't - man, sister, mama, then I'll be even more shocked. It would sell a lot of newspapers, and besides which, we have a right to know.
So the grand cross/total solar eclipse of August 1999 turns out to be a kind of final exam for the second millennium, with many questions. We are, in my reading, facing a global initiation. The Earth itself takes center stage (at the center of the cross, and in the flight path of Cassini). An aspect of this initiation is that we get to respond to an environmental threat together. What will it be? Terror? Repentance? Rage? Will we pack into the discos, like in Tel Aviv the night Saddam Hussein was shooting off Scud missiles? Will we stay calm and let Cassini whirr right by, refusing to suck it in with our fear?
Will we take the perfectly platinum opportunity to demand that the other dozen or so scheduled nuclear-powered NASA missions be scrubbed because the risk is just too ridiculous? Will we demand an end to the new, improved plan for the nuclear arming of space that the US government is currently executing? [See Dr. Grossman's recent statement at the United Nations, below.] General Joseph Ashy, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command has stated: "It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happenSome 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 spaceThat's why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms."
Do we really want this?
Will we take the opportunity look at some other very important environmental issues ourselves, rather than expecting expert commissions to handle them for us?
People love disasters. Disasters bring out the best in us. I've covered my share of midnight fires and ecological catastrophes, and it's very exciting. Things like blackouts, floods, earthquakes, subway strikes and wars pull the community together and make us all heroes. Sure, a few of us die, but it's worth it, right? One splendid week of the whole planet facing a massive threat to its existence - a little terror from the sky - would just perk us all right up like laughing daisies, and make the global village a real experience, not just a modem. And what a great movie concept!
In this light, the biggest question Cassini raises is about the outer life versus the inner life: what you might call the galactic versus the genetic. Do you have to be forced by allegedly outer circumstances to look at your existence, or do you look because it's time? Here's the one huge place where I lack my faith in the human race. Space Alien lottery tickets are very popular. Too many people, for my comfort, need UFOs landing in their back yards to believe that "we are not alone." Too few people can just pet a dog.
We know from countless movies that the threat is always from "out there." We like it that way. Yet is it clear this time that human beings have personally turned this weapon on the Earth?
Surely, a whole bunch of fear zapped from you, through you and into you all at once in a kind of high-tech cosmic horror-show, reported live on CNN - complete with prophesies and astrology charts to back it up - can wake you up and finally get you feeling alive and thinking seriously about your life choices and what it means to be here with the rest of us on our little blue world in space. There's a better way. But hey -- good luck on judgment day.++
Scratch and Sniff: A Clue from California
Interpretation Keys for the Eclipse
Karl Grossman's Statement at the UN
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