News From Space:
A Planet Waves Editorial
By ERIC FRANCIS
As astrologers, part of our job is to keep an eye on the cosmos and tell people what we learn. Among few people in the culture, we are supposed, and suppose ourselves, to know, or at least have some reasonable suspicions about, the future. For some years, many astrologers have been watching the approach of an unusual-looking day in August; I am inclined to write "August 1999," but that is no longer necessary.
The day is Aug. 11, and its aspects include a total solar eclipse in Leo, involved with a grand cross aspect: the Lunar Nodes, Mars, Saturn, Sun, Moon and Uranus making a square arrangement, with the Earth at the point where "x" marks the spot. Grand crosses on this scale are quite rare, and are among the more noticeable astrological events impacting peoples' lives. Eclipses are notorious for focusing world news, ranging from the Persian Gulf War to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales to the recent impeachment and acquittal of Bill Clinton.
Looking a little deeper, though, Aug. 11 is linked with a variety of other correspondences between symbols in its horoscope and those in the Book of Revelation, the Tarot, and a variety of other occult systems. And the eclipse occurs within a several-week window of a time which Michele de Nostradamus singled out specifically in the summer of 1999 as a kind of decisive moment; Nostradamus did not give many exact dates in his quatrains, but he talked about the summer of '99, and specifically, about something scary -- what he called "The great King of Terror" -- coming from the sky.
The whole set-up is interesting, and I would not think any of it half so meaningful if not for a celestial visitor that does not appear in conventional astrology charts; not a comet, but a nuclear-powered boomerang which the High Priests of silence have shot on a trajectory to return to the Earth about a week after the eclipse, known by name as the Cassini Space Probe.
Cassini was launched for Saturn in the fall of 1997, with planned visits to three other planets on the way to create "gravity assist boosts" -- or what some scientists term the slingshot effect -- to pick up speed using the gravity of other objects as an accelerator. The first such stop was Venus some months ago; the next is the Earth, on Aug. 18 to be exact. Essentially, our planet will be used as a lever to catapult Cassini further into interplanetary space, where it will do a similar maneuver off of Jupiter, and finally pass by Saturn around 2004.
The problem is this. On this slingshot maneuver, Cassini will approach the Earth traveling at about 40,000 miles per hour. It is aimed to skim past the Earth's gravity field at an altitude of about 300-400 miles, which is a comparatively paper-thin slice of space. The risk: Cassini is carrying electrical batteries filled with 72.3 pounds of plutonium 238, the largest such payload ever. Plutonium, a man-made element, is so potent that according to Dr. Helen Caldicott of Physicians for Social Responsibility, inhalation of just one-millionth of a gram can induce lung cancer.
If the space probe malfunctions and plunges into the atmosphere, the capsule is not designed to withstand the heat and stress of re-entry; indeed, such re-entry is not on the agenda. Though safety issues around Cassini are considered controversial and are hotly debated, just about everyone agrees that it, and its plutonium payload, would be vaporized if the probe re-entered the atmosphere, and that the radioactive fallout would eventually diffuse into the Earth's entire biosphere, as did a 2.1 pound plutonium payload after an accident in 1965. Cassini's disaster contingency plans, as documented in federal reports by investigative journalist Dr. Karl Grossman, call for relocating entire cities in the event of its colliding with a populated area.
But for astrologers looking for "meaning" in the Aug. 11 chart, for those of us looking to space for our messages, it seems we would need to look no further than Cassini as a vivid, if unwelcome, sign of the times. I know that we live in a moment of history when the media portrays everything is a potential global disaster, and yet life always seems to go on as usual. And yet in the midst of life-as-usual the world is changing so fast that nobody can keep up with the changes, of which Cassini is definitely one. Dr. Grossman, among his many unsettling facts, has documented that Cassini is just the first of 13 such nuclear-powered shots currently planned by the American space program, and further, he has shown that all use of nuclear technology in space is part of the larger, well-documented program to effect the nuclear arming of space. This is kind of like "Star Wars -- The Next Generation"; it didn't end with the presidencies of Mssrs. Reagan/Bush. The Star Wars program has been well-financed under the Clinton administration, and Gen. Joseph Ashy (his real name), currently the top guy in something called the U.S. Space Command, has recently promised that "we will fight into space."
Recognizing the fearful nature of these thoughts, and what most people see as the fearful nature of the Aug. 11 eclipse with all its attendant prophecies, I want to state outright that I am not predicting that Cassini will malfunction and re-enter the biosphere in August. In fact, I will make the open prediction, based on statistics and not astrology, that Cassini will function fine on this stage of its mission. But I am also predicting, again, not based on astrology but rather on my reading of scientific papers, government documents and from a lot of experience playing the media game, that Cassini will make its brief visit this August with some gusto, and that it will be a reminder of just how ignorant, immature and brazenly careless we can be about our technology, and how we can respond like scared rabbits when we perceive a threat.
Astrologers have a responsibility to be optimists. The power of negative thinking is a force that must be reckoned with, and the less we have of it, the better. But we also have a responsibility to pay attention, and to follow the events of the day, and to advise people accordingly. I say this knowing that Cassini raises practical, political and spiritual questions bigger than an individual can theoretically handle. I know that to stop and think about what human beings are doing to the Earth and to ourselves can throw your mind into distress. I am aware that this distress is as much a problem in need of healing as the ecological threats themselves. But here you have it, in greatly understated form. Cassini and its many implications are now yours to consider.
Through my research of this issue and the astrology of 1999, I have come across one sober message that sums up the crisis nicely, from book three of Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh. Quoting the Big Kahuna, The One Consciousness, or the Woman Upstairs (whichever you prefer), Neale writes:
"As I have said, this isn't the first time your civilization has been at this brink. 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." ++
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