Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Saturn Inches Forward in Publishing-Related Sagittarius

As Saturn (consolidation, concrete efforts) inches forward in publishing-related Sagittarius, I have a few interesting things to report.

First, the wonderful Jeremiah Moss, author of the fabulous Jeremiah's Vanishing New York blog, now has a book out titled, "Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul." You can check it out online here, but it is being widely distributed and sold, so check your local book shops. (Jeremiah would encourage local, independent book shop patronage!)

For the past ten years, Jeremiah has chronicled the horrifying gentrification of the Lower East Side of New York City, in particular the doubling and tripling of rents on retail spaces to make room for stores, restaurants, and pubs directed toward the rich and trendy. This practise has put hundreds (thousands?) of much-loved and much-patronized small businesses out of business or forced them to move out of their neighbourhoods. This practise has changed the entire landscape of New York City (not just in the Lower East Side), removing a lot of the heart and soul and quirky independence by which it was once characterized.

Jeremiah lovingly documents the vanishing businesses of the Lower East Side - that so many people patronize and love - before they disappear. And I love him for it!

(Aside: I also love Jeremiah's Vanishing New York blog because it's still a blogspot. Blogspots represent!)

The hyper-gentrification Jeremiah has so heartbreakingly and painstakingly chronicled in New York City for the past 10 years is a ubiquitous Pluto in Capricorn-era theme, displacing people from homes and businesses around the globe.

It's the abusive and coercive power of all mighty fiat currency  - a type of phony and corrupted power too often worshiped on Planet Earth and never so blatantly as during the Pluto in Capricorn years (2008 - 2024).

Entire cities are being re-made as playgrounds for the rich and trendy, driving rents and real estate prices up to the point that lower income people are forced out. Make no mistake about it - it's socioeconomic cleansing, a fundamental characteristic of the Pluto in Capricorn agenda.

My own beloved Art of My Heart store (seen to the left in its second - and more orderly - incarnation on the ground floor of the mall) was gentrified out of the TD Square Mall in Calgary, Alberta in 2009. This beautiful, soulful, independent, and utterly unique store was pushed out by the Pluto in Capricorn steamroller to make way for such thrilling and unique high-end chain stores as Brooks Brothers. 

The end of Art of My Heart broke my own heart into a million pieces and threw my life into a state of chaos. At the same time, I knew that what happened there was going on all over the place. The owner and I were far from alone in our unceremonious displacement. 

This article is from May 23, 2009, at the point when I realized Art of My Heart was dead and that it wouldn't be resurrecting in a new location due to sky-high rents all over the city. The article is full of grief and rage and Plutonic horror, and it's bang-on as far as what was going on (and is still going on) and what it was doing to the people involved.

"R.I.P. Art of My Heart":

"I'm just waiting. Inside the fortress that is me. The only place that feels good.

I'm waiting for this wave of hyper-gentrification to run out of steam, so that I can properly assess the situation. At the moment, even walking down the street feels like a blast from an overexposed dystopic imagery furnace. Fake light and happy, grinding its pointy high heel into my eye. A nouveau rich nightmare. Teenagers in brand new, sickeningly overpriced clothes designed to look "lived in." Street-tastic! Carrying Chanel purses (yes, high schoolers with Chanel), cell phones and iced coffees.

They look straight out of the pages of InStyle (Star/People/US Weekly) magazine, so I can see why they feel entitled. That takes a lot of effort. 

Mount Royal Starbucks where you'll get the snobby once-over just for going in to get a take-out coffee. They can sniff out non-upper-mid-class-yuppie status.

 It's a fucking wasteland. Sorry, but it is. 

The so-called alternative crowd drinking overpriced beer, eating overpriced breakfasts in pseudo-retro diners, sitting around in carefully chosen "styles" being all alternative and shit. Talking about how to market their band. Hoping to be noticed, to get famous. Even the indy crowd in this town has this marketing veneer lacquered over everything. 

No one just living their lives. It's all an agenda. Gotta be someone. Gotta get somewhere. Gotta play the game. 

Calgary, Alberta. Schlepping phony Western Canadiana for kicks, but the mean, mean underlying vibe is always there. Vicious millionaires bulldozing soulful establishments and people's livelihoods in favour of clean, cleansed luxury for its clean, cleansed luxury-deserving patrons. A city run by and for young souls. You can throw in a few newly-minted mature souls just to give it that fake "artsy/cultured" thing. Garbage. Trying to lure the people who don't know any better into dropping their money on overpriced drinks and food, clothing and accessories. Paying for fake experiences with fake money.

The downtown mall has kicked all the real stores out in favour of luxurification plans handed down by Torontonian property management overlords.

Brooks Brothers is coming to town! How thrilling. 

Spaces are empty all over town. All over the country. All over the world. Bulldozed livelihoods. Lost our lease. Lost our lease. We're closing shop. And in a way, the independents are relieved. Because trying to keep your head above water in this increasingly corporatized climate is bloody exhausting. They tighten the vice little by little. Priced out. Squeezed out. And when the death of the business finally comes, it's accepted with a sigh. 

And so I wait for the bulldozer to run out of gas. Or to at least take a fucking coffee break. 

I can see it starting. "Luxury" stores aren't lining up to fill those empty spaces. The spots are sitting empty. Stalled monster condo projects all over town. Massive, gaping holes left in the ground with fences all around. They got ahead of themselves, trying to build on phony foundations.

And here I sit. I'm not sure what things are going to look like or if there will ever be a place I can stand being in again. 

Art of My Heart is dead. And every fucking brainless weasel in this town can go to hell."

My little beading zone at the second incarnation of Art of My Heart, TD Square Mall, downtown Calgary, Alberta

The funny thing was that after the richy-rich gentrification of much of Calgary, the oil bust came along! They poured millions into renovating the TD Square mall, putting in fancy sky lights, and booting all the independent retailers in favour of high end chains. And then people couldn't afford to shop there anymore!

From what I hear, downtown Calgary has been pretty much a ghost town for the past number of years - compared to the oil boom days, anyway. That city really could have used the oasis of soul that Art of My Heart provided. They blew it!

Second of my publishing-related announcements: my recent article on Leslie Demeniuk and pharmaceuticals-caused violent crime has been published in the Ripe with Rage zine out of Nashville, Tennessee. You can check the 80-page zine out here. This is the second issue of the Ripe with Rage zine and has a theme of Asylum.  

My own self-published zines are also available in some interesting places at the moment. They can be found at Spartacus Books in Vancouver, B.C., at Camas Books in Victoria, B.C., or at the University of Victoria Zine Library. 

I have to say, I'm most excited about the zine library. When my own local library accepted Hexagon Astrology Magazine onto its shelves, I had a little 'squee' of delight, and when I noticed that someone had actually checked it out, that 'squee' was magnified even further.  

 WWA zines

My own zines are also available online through this blog or through my Etsy shop

My efforts will continue to be focused on writing articles for the blog and for WWA patrons, but it's nice to have a physical medium to work with like zines. They create some cross-pollination and get the writing to people who may not come across it otherwise.
 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Saturn Direct with Dispositor Jupiter in Some Juicy Territory

 Photos: Willow

The engine for concrete progress in the material world, Saturn, turned direct early this morning at 21 degrees Sagittarius, and we're ready to take on a new chunk of growth, development, and achievement in the public sphere. Plans slowly start to solidify and take form. Our positions have been fortified, and we're now setting our sights on the next leg up the mountain.

Saturn will now move through the last decan of Sagittarius in one sweep before entering its own sign of Capricorn at December solstice. More on the Saturn in Capricorn transit is available in this article, "Saturn in Capricorn: An Astrological Overview for Long-Term Strategic Planning."

We're ready for one final push toward achievement and greatness in the sign of scholarly Sagittarius, structuring our lives according to our own truth and guiding philosophies, making commitments and decisions under the ultimate authority of our own wisdom and knowledge.

Achievements in academia, medicine, law, or publishing are particularly highlighted, but again, the greatest Saturn in late Sagittarius achievement may be the commitment to living by our own truth, our own ethics, and our own philosophies, even when they are not aligned with those of the society or collective around us. 

There's a bit of a shake-up indicated in the status-quo-as-you-go as Saturn moves through the last leg of Sagittarius, and our wild-and-free spirits lead the way on this.

The dispositor (key influence) of Saturn in Sagittarius is Jupiter, currently transiting relationship, society, and justice-oriented Libra. 

Jupiter in Via Combusta Libra is heading into some mighty juicy territory as Saturn gets going direct again in Sagittarius, and this indicates some sparkle and flash in the social/relational realms this September.

You may recall from previous articles that Jupiter in Libra is currently in air-fire kite formation with Mars in Leo, Uranus in Aries, and Saturn in Sagittarius. This kite will be activated again by transiting Venus in Leo September 12 - 17.

Jupiter in Libra is also just about to form its final opposition to Goddess of Discord Eris at 22 degrees Aries (September 1 - 5), which brings Eris themes strongly into the kite formation party. This contact to Eris brings up the potential for some social discord and shuffling over the next month, and we have a re-triggering of themes from this February 15, 2017 article, "Necessary Discordant Notes as Uranus Makes Its Final Conjunction to Eris in Aries":

"The most well-known story about Eris involves a big social snub. Eris was not invited to a prominent wedding that was going on, despite the fact that all of Olympus had been invited. The social roster was not complete. Eris had been shut out of the proceedings. As a result, the big smiles and boisterous glad-handing were too phony for her to bear, and she stirred up some drama at their little party to make things seem more fair.

Queen Shit Disturber, that one is.

Eris tossed a golden apple, referred to as the Apple of Discord, into the party. The apple was inscribed with "To the Fairest One," (ingenious) and three goddesses there, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, immediately started quarreling and vying for the prize. They stripped naked for the judge, Paris, and offered him bribes.

Eris played on the vanity of the women involved to great effect, making them look like fools, and, unfortunately, a war was even started over it.

The discovery of dwarf planet Eris in 2005 created discord in our solar system classifications, as well, resulting in the 2006 re-classifications of Pluto, Ceres, Haumea, and Makemake as dwarf planets by the International Astronomical Union. Here again, we have things being stirred up by Eris, but finding a new and more fair structure. That reclassification put feminine Ceres and masculine Pluto on an even playing field, rather than classifying Pluto as a planet and Ceres as an asteroid...

There's a prominent theme here of a person initially being warmly welcomed into the social fold, but his or her presence creating unexpected disruption and discord to the point that the individual is then expelled. The inadvertent golden apple...

The turbulence associated with Eris may come as a shock to those who fit more neatly into standardized social constructs...

The influence of Eris in Aries opposite Jupiter Rx in Libra indicates that discord in relationships and social scenes could have elements of:

-- big snubs and the aftermath of those snubs
-- standard female competitiveness and jockeying for position, especially around looks, appeal, and social and career positioning
-- the benefits of belonging socially versus the difficulties of being left out
-- the difficulties of belonging versus the benefits of staying independent
-- justice, fairness, and balance in social settings
-- the results of shutting certain people or perspectives out of society - anger, upset, disruption, violence, imbalance, injustice, ineffectiveness, skewed ideas of reality
-- the reasons people are left out and whether they are warranted
-- doing your own thing, balancing it with inevitable social disruption
-- disruptive elements (golden apples) brought into social structures that change the game
-- acts of raw individuality and personal will altering how people are viewed or thought of socially
-- the weight of social mores and customs stirring rebellion
-- social shuffling
-- social breakdowns
-- feisty or even violent changes in social status and position, including on the world stage...

Individuals may find themselves compelled to act as Eris figures, providing necessary "discordant notes" in social settings when bringing new voices and perspectives to the standard discourse and decision-making tables.

Following in the Eris mythology, many (most) of us haven't been invited to the current decision-making tables. But under these aspects, with the spirit of Eris in Aries so strong, we're going to show up anyway. We're going to plunk ourselves down and take our places, extended via formal invitation or not.

On the other hand, we may decide we don't even want a place at the stinky old table. We may be counting our blessings that we didn't get an invitation to their stuffy party. We may decide to say "to hell with it" to the whole kit and kaboodle and do things our own way. This is a distinct possibility under these aspects, too...

Under these aspects, there's a stronger understanding of our natural-born rights as sovereign human beings, and most of us understand, at least on an intuitive level, that the way things are going on this planet - including in many supposed alternative circles - infringes on these rights considerably.

There is a desire and an effort under these aspects to achieve greater independence, autonomy, and personal freedom - for everyone who wants these things. There is a drive to doing things on our own, under our own steam, by our own rules - but also to join with others who live by similar ethics.

Things are breaking wide open now. The rules are changing because they just don't work for the full social spectrum - and never did.

Overall, we can expect some dissent, discord, and disruption under these aspects, as well as a social shuffling and re-classification process as things shake out under the agitating energies.

We have a whole new rezoning process underway as far as personal and social "lines in the sand." We don't want our toes stepped on, and we don't want to step on the toes of other people."

So as Saturn grinds back into forward motion again in last-decan Sagittarius, there is the potential for some golden apples to be tossed into the social ring, creating a little necessary disruption in the standardized way of things. There could also be some ripple effects emanating from previously-thrown apples...

The potentially disruptive social/relational element carries through the month of September with Jupiter in Libra moving into its final opposition to revolutionary Uranus in Aries, exact on September 27. We're looking for new-era relational dynamics, win-win social scenarios, and the most productive and meaningful of social connections. This may indicate some breaks from standard social orders and rules for relating.

The winds of Aquarian change may not go over so well for those who like the standard social orders and rules for relating just fine.

The trick is to maintain regularity, tradition, and social structure wherever this is beneficial, but to also bring in new ways of relating and doing things where they are needed and where they make sense.

We aren't going in guns a-blazing, alienating those of a more conservative or structured nature. But we also aren't circling the wagons and shutting out new people or ways of doing things that would ultimately be beneficial to the scene.

Successfully striking this balance keeps Saturn, Uranus, and Eris happy - not an easy feat.

Ultimately, a social structure that does not work for all members of the society is not a fully successful structure. Keeping certain people shut out of society, on the outside looking in, can breed hatred, resentment, and even violence.

We are looking to broaden things a little in ways that make sense. We're looking for the next logical step to take that can be agreed upon (or at the very least, allowed/tolerated) by all involved.

In between its opposition to Eris in early September and its opposition to Uranus in late September, Jupiter in Libra will receive a little cosmic assistance from conjunctions to highly fortunate fixed stars Spica (September 6 - 11) and Arcturus (September 12 - 16). This indicates that socially discordant notes will be kept to a manageable level, as long as the necessary adjustments are made within the established social order.

If not...well, there's plenty of cage-rattling energy here. The universe will likely do its thing with or without our assistance. 

Our social contributions are in the spotlight over the next six weeks as Jupiter completes its transit of Libra, and this particularly involves social contributions that lead the way into new-era social energy and dynamics. Make sure the contributions you make are meaningful to you and that they are a true reflection of who you are and what you're about. These are the contributions that will have the strongest and most long-lasting impact.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Neptunian Mercury Retrograde in Virgo: Refining the Channel From the Spiritual to the Material








This article is available in its entirety to Willow's Web Astrology patrons. If you regularly find value in the writing and interpretations here, please consider becoming a patron. Patrons receive full articles to their email inboxes that are not available on the blog, as well as other fun offers throughout the year. Patronage ensures that WWA will continue through these bumpy and amazing times on Planet Earth. 







An excerpt from the article:

The friction I run into with most anarchist groups is that I consider anarchy a way of being, a way of life that naturally occurs, rather than a political movement or a scene. So right off the jump, there's a difference in the way I define and understand things.

There's much talk in anarchist circles about the supposed failure of the "anarchist movement," and I've never understood this. How can a way of life and a way of being inherent in most people (non-hierarchical, non-coercive free association; running our own lives; making our own decisions; helping those who need it; do-it-yourself problem-solving on individual and societal levels) be a failure?

There is also much talk in these circles about what people "should" do in order to be considered a "real anarchist."

"If you don't trainhop, shoplift, and live out of dumpsters, you're not a true anarchist."

"If you don't live in a squat, hop from summit to summit, and bust out Starbucks windows on the regular, you're not a true anarchist."

"If you pay rent and bills and have some sort of employment that pays you money, you're not a real anarchist."

"If you aren't involved in the ___________  issue/protests, you aren't a real anarchist."

I've even seen the question posed: "Can someone be called an anarchist if he/she doesn't interact with other anarchists?"

It's mind-boggling to me that that would even be called into question, that that would be yet another scene-imposed "requirement" to being a "real anarchist."

This type of posturing is bizarre to me (perhaps driven by teens and early twenty-somethings?) because there is no policing of behaviour/lifestyle/actions and there is no moulding of oneself to the dictates of the group with true anarchy/anarchism - not with my version, anyway. In my mind, trying to enforce a certain lifestyle or a certain set of political views on an entire group of people is antithetical to anarchy. (IE. non-coercive, non-controlling, non-authoritarian, each person is in charge of him or herself)

Recently, with Mercury in Virgo opposite spirity-weirdy Neptune in Pisces, I had an odd moment where my computer basically sent me, of its own volition, to an anarchist site that I'd had both rewarding and frictional interactions with in the past. I found the commentary of one particular individual interesting because it described the difference in definition that I've outlined above.

Long story Virgoan-short, I came to realize that my version of anarchist is more an adjective or adverb describing a way of being, while the other version, more often used in “the scene,” considers anarchist a noun, a definite thing, a concrete label, an identity that has come to be associated with these certain lifestyle markers (all the "shoulds") that I find so aggravating.

This may seem like a small distinction - and it is.

(The only real reason I declare myself an "anarchist astro-reporter" is to give people fair warning as far as what my writing/stance is going to be like. It heads off misunderstandings and social friction.)

But this small distinction removes me from much of what I find problematic with the "anarchist scene." We are working with different definitions, and understanding this small distinction saves me (and those I come into contact with) a lot of unnecessary frustration. 

These are the types of small distinctions and refinements that we can expect to make with Mercury retrograde in Virgo.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chiron in Late Pisces: Spiritual Solidarity with Leslie Demeniuk and Those Unjustly Imprisoned, Past, Present, and Future

Photos: Willow

This is a call for spiritual solidarity with Leslie Demeniuk and for all those unjustly imprisoned on Earth, past, present and future. 

Leslie is a 48-year-old woman currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole at Lowell Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Ocala, Florida.

(Lowell Correctional Institution has been described as "a special hell for women," where it is common for female inmates to die under suspicious circumstances. There have been accusations by prisoners of sexual exploitation, beatings, and torture of inmates by guards.)

Leslie is a victim of the pharmaceuticals industry – of their dangerous and deadly drugs, of their lies, of their cover-ups, and of their diabolical greed, which places profit over human life. Leslie is a victim of the patriarchal hierarchy known as the medical establishment, where doctors and medical professionals often refuse to listen to patients, arrogantly (or at the very least, ignorantly) continuing with practices that contravene the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm:

"I will apply diatetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice. 

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect."

It is the pharmaceuticals executives of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer Inc. who should be serving this prison time, not Leslie. Leslie – like millions of others around the world  – is a victim of a reckless and irresponsible industry focused on profit, rather than real care and consideration for human beings.

In 2001, Leslie was going through a divorce and custody battle and was experiencing depression - a natural reaction considering the circumstances. Leslie saw a nurse practitioner at a local clinic and was given trial samples of the new generation anti-depressant Zoloft (manufactured and sold by Pfizer Inc.), as well as the anti-anxiety medication Xanax. 

(Of course, the instant reaction from the mainstream medical establishment is: drugs.)

After she began to take the pharmaceuticals, Leslie had an immediate adverse reaction, which involved swelling and hives. She called the clinic to report the symptoms and was told to continue taking the pills. After two more weeks on the drugs, she experienced hallucinations, suicidal thinking, and an overwhelming urge to drink alcohol. The suicidal thinking went to the extent that she picked up a gun and was very close to killing herself. 

Leslie attempted to report these side effects to her doctor but was not able to book an appointment for three weeks. Instead, she went back to the nurse practitioner who originally gave her the samples of Zoloft and Xanax, and he immediately switched her to Paxil (manufactured and sold by GlaxoSmithKline), another new generation anti-depressant. This was done despite Leslie questioning the nurse practitioner about the safety of such a switch.

New generation anti-depressants are also linked to a side effect involving an overwhelming urge to drink, and Leslie experienced this, as well, abusing alcohol at the time that she was taking the pills. 

Three days after starting the Paxil, in a state of drug-induced chemical psychosis, Leslie shot and killed her sweet babies, twin 4-year-old boys, and attempted to overdose herself on pills.

By all accounts, Leslie was a very loving, caring, and devoted mother, and this terrible act was completely out of character.

Leslie was tried in a Florida court in 2006, before the full extent of the side effects of these drugs were known in the mainstream public.

In 2004, GlaxoSmithKline won a motion in court that allowed it to keep information about studies, trials, and investigations regarding the risks and safety of Paxil out of Leslie’s trial.

Chemical psychosis and violent behaviour now linked to anti-depressants like Zoloft and Paxil were not well-known side effects in the mainstream public at the time, and this court ruling barred Leslie’s lawyers from bringing the company's own data in as part of her defense. In a case that could have set a much-needed court precedent in situations of drug-induced psychosis and violence, this ruling protected the drug companies. 

Despite the defense presenting an internal memo from 2000 in which a company scientist for GlaxoSmithKline acknowledged a link between antidepressants and homicide, the knee-jerk public reaction to a mother killing her own children resulted in Leslie being convicted of two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Since Leslie’s trial in 2006, it has become much more widely known that SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs like Zoloft and Paxil can cause suicidal thinking and actions as well as violent/homicidal behaviour in people having adverse reactions to the drugs.

Leslie is but the tip of the iceberg, representing many more victims who, in a pharmaceutical-induced state of chemical psychosis, have committed suicide, assault, or homicide.

How many other victims of the pharmaceuticals industry are spending time in prison under similar circumstances? The real numbers would be staggering. I suppose these can be called iatrogenic (physician-caused) prison sentences...

A list of other examples of SSRI-related homicides committed by adults can be found in this article, "Precription-Only Homicide and Violence" by Dr. David Healy.  

The link between violence and SSRIs (as well as other pharmaceuticals) has been well understood through anecdotal evidence for many years. The pharmaceuticals corporations, mainstream medical establishment, government regulatory agencies, and media have been much more reluctant to acknowledge the link, however. 

A Swedish study released in 2015 studied more than 850,000 individuals taking SSRIs and found that individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 had a 43% increased risk of committing violent crimes while taking SSRIs versus when they were not. (Source.)

Many mass shootings in recent years have involved people on SSRIs, particularly young people. "In the last 28, years, there have been at least 47 acts of violence committed by those on or withdrawing from psychotropic drugs, leaving 194 wounded and 133 killed." (Source: "Psychotropic Drugs: A History of Violence," Citizens Commission on Human Rights

(And remember - these only represent the incidents that have been conclusively linked to psychotropic drugs like SSRIs, not the real numbers.)

As early as 1990, researchers and psychiatrists were warning of increased risk of suicidal thinking and actions when taking SSRIs. Victims of these drugs have been screaming about side effects ever since. However, there has been a concerted effort by pharmaceuticals corporations to downplay or cover up potential side effects.

In 2004, SSRI manufacturers were forced to place a black box warning on the drugs about the increased risk of suicidal thinking and actions in young people only. (In one of those "cosmic coincidences," this black box warning was added the same year GlaxoSmithKline won the right to keep safety information about Paxil out of Leslie's trial.) This black box warning, of course, does not go nearly far enough, merely scratching the surface of the true risks associated with these drugs, which affect adults and young people alike. 

In a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline in 2017 over the suicide of Illinois man Stewart Dolin, evidence was presented showing that people taking antidepressants like Paxil (the SSRI Leslie was taking at the time that she killed her sons) were almost nine times more likely to exhibit suicidal behaviour. Stewart's widow, Wendy, was awarded $3 million from GlaxoSmithKline in 2017, though the ruling is being appealed.

Since Leslie’s trial in 2006, the entire climate and the entire body of public knowledge around this subject has changed as the truth about the dangers of these drugs has come out.

At this point, millions of people have experienced similar side effects, millions of people have been victimized and have lost their lives or the lives of loved ones because of the irresponsible and reckless prescription/dispensing of pharmaceuticals like Zoloft and Paxil.

On December 8, 2009, I finished the last of three antibiotic pills prescribed to me by a walk-in clinic physician for what was believed to be a mild urinary tract infection.

By the next day, I was crawling around my apartment on my hands and knees because my tendons had turned to mush and I could not put weight on my Achilles.

I was having an extended, drug-induced panic attack with morbid and suicidal thoughts coursing through my brain without cessation. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t sleep. There was intense pressure in my head. I had a severe headache to the point that I could barely move my head off the pillow. My ears were ringing loudly. My vision was not lining up correctly. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw colours and shapes and figures and flashing lights, as if I had a strobe light going off behind my eyelids. I couldn’t use artificial light or look at my computer screen without pain. I had fatigue so crushing that crawling to the bathroom and back took a couple hours to recover from. My entire body felt poisoned, and eating food made me feel worse. I was so weak, I could barely lift my arm to my mouth to feed myself (subsequently losing 30 pounds in three weeks). I was convinced I was going to die.

Like Leslie, taking a pharmaceutical prescribed to me as harmless by a medical professional (in this case, the fluoroquinolone antibiotic Cipro) had transported me into a living Hell.

That Hell has involved years of debilitation and pain that continue to this day.

Like Leslie, I experienced chemical psychosis induced by the drug I took. Suicidal and morbid thoughts ran through my mind constantly (remaining with me for years until I smoked marijuana medicinally for a period of time, and they mostly stopped). My body and mind had been turned into a living Hell by the drug. The world around me seemed like Hell. And I was being convinced by the effects of the drug that suicide was my only hope, my only escape, from this intolerable Hell I was experiencing.

By extension, it is not difficult to imagine that in the state of chemical psychosis Leslie experienced, killing her boys and herself was the only way to release them from this Hell-world they were inhabiting. 

Leslie Demeniuk is a victim of the pharmaceuticals industry in one of the most heinous ways possible. She has lost her darling sons and also her own freedom. She has not received justice and is now paying for the crimes of others with her own life. 

Perhaps equally, however, Leslie is a victim of a culture that pathologizes natural human emotions in times of trauma and crisis. She is the victim of a culture that drugs people with potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals rather than providing any real support or assistance through traumatic events.

Why are people not referred to counselors or therapists, for example, before they are put on potentially dangerous drugs? (Answer: the money)

Someone to talk to, someone to help with child care, cooking, or cleaning, someone to cheer her up, someone to make her laugh – these simple, human acts are not being provided within the medical establishment or by the fragmented and stressed society at large. This leads to a treacherous disconnection from the basic support that could mean the difference between health and breakdown, between life and death, for a mother (or anyone) feeling desperate, depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, and alone.

It is an entire culture that failed you, Leslie, and it is failing all of us, too, in one way or another.

You, sweet lady, with your Darkest Moon, your Black Moon Lilith point, in Cancer. The vilified mother, tossed to the wolves by a society that cannot stand to see its own reflection, its own failings, its own hypocrisies. You hold that mirror up, Leslie, and you're banished because of it.

Transiting Ceres (nurturing) and Venus (women) are currently conjunct your Black Moon Lilith in Cancer, and we can see how the shortfalls that failed you are failing all mothers, all caregivers, all people. We can see the suppression of natural emotions as people - particularly mothers - try to keep up in an insane and inhumane system, and we can see the dysfunction that inevitably results from this emotional suppression. We can see the hidden shame, the dark feelings, the emotional extremes (Black Moon Lilith) of over-taxed mothers (Cancer), doing their best within this insane and inhumane system. 

The mother who drinks one too many glasses of wine every night, the mother who takes one more sleeping pill or pain pill or anti-anxiety pill than was prescribed. The coping mechanisms.

Your North Node dharma path on the final degree of the zodiac, 29 Pisces, conjunct natal Chiron. A supremely karmic path to walk. Institutions, prisons, drugs, smokescreens, obscuring of reality, individuals victimized by collective circumstances. The end of the line where all the chronic problems, all the loose ends, all the leftover dysfunction and pain and shameful understandings are dumped. A pain that has no discernible beginning or end. Bearing the burdens of victimhood, devastation, and loss for the collective. Walking a path that illuminates the victimhood of us all via your own story, weaving invisible threads, connecting dots, joining hearts and spirits through time and space. Walking the path of the mercilessly abandoned, of the supreme scapegoat, of the psychically tortured and imprisoned. 

But eventual redemption, transcendence – if not in this world, then in the next. Natal wounded healer Chiron in early Aries is walking with you on this path, conjunct your North Node, blazing you through this brutal pain for an ultimate understanding of the love that sustains and binds us and for an ultimate understanding of yourself as a person within this broader context. Walking this path under the painful (Chiron) identity (Aries) of a murderer, wearing the mark of a heinous criminal. But that's not who you are.

Leslie Demeniuk is not a criminal. Leslie Demeniuk is a good and loving mother who lost the most that any mother could ever lose – her darling children. The loss of a lifetime of freedom most likely pales in comparison to that.

Leslie is a victim of a greedy and evil industry, just like the hundreds of millions of others who have been adversely affected by dangerous pharmaceuticals, kept on the market and prescribed daily without adequate warning or precaution. This group includes me. 

Let’s hold that Dark Moon mirror up to the real criminals – the ones in suits and ties sitting in corner offices at pharmaceuticals corporations, the ones in white coats recklessly scratching death sentences or life sentences on prescription pads, the ones behind pharmacy counters dispensing horror and hell in little bottles, the ones in governmental offices giving it all a green light.

Leslie's story can be seen in the series Women Behind Bars, Season 1, Episode 11, available for viewing on Netflix.

Though the tone of the Women Behind Bars series is quite sensationalistic and somewhat blood-thirsty in your standard "American (In)Justice" sort of way, it also illustrates just how many people (in this case, women) are in prison, enduring terrible conditions, who should not ultimately be there. At the very least, who should not be serving such lengthy sentences considering the circumstances. Women snapping and killing their long-time abusers, women who are present when their abuser kills another person, women who have few to no viable options for getting out of the bad situations life has dealt them, often since childhood.

As wounded healer Chiron transits the final degrees of Pisces (institutions, prisons) from 2017 to 2019, this issue comes to a head. 

Individuals are bearing the burden for intentionally-engineered social conditions that divide us into the fortunate and the unfortunate, the haves and the have-nots, the success stories and the failures. Individuals are bearing the brunt of an intentionally-stratified, fiat currency-driven, and unequal society. Ultimately, this social structure is a toxic failure driving people into anxiety, depression, and ill health.

One of the primary reasons for the breakdown of Leslie's marriage - leading to her depression - was her husband's service in the U.S. military, which involved long periods of time away from home working in war zones. Leslie's ex-husband Tommy Demeniuk is also a victim in the worst possible way of the pharmaceuticals industry and of the military industrial complex, two industries which are intricately connected. Though he likely doesn't see it this way, Tommy is a victim of a society stratified by class where poor and working class people are paid (relatively very little) to fight the wars of rich men and women. In this skewed system, the poor and working class are forced to supersede their own best interests, risking everything to secure wealth, resources, and territory for the rich. 

I’m so sorry, Leslie. I’m so sorry you didn’t get the support you needed when you needed it and that this toxic culture filled the void in the horrific way that it so often does. I’m sorry so many of us are being victimized in this way, that so many of us are not getting the support we need within these Pluto in Capricorn-era patriarchal hierarchies, driven by money and illusions of success rather than caring, consideration, mutual support, basic common decency, and respect for human life.  

And so we must reject this culture that keeps us so stretched and stressed, so isolated and exhausted, so depleted and at-the-brink. So disconnected from each other in fundamental ways.

We must reject a culture that fails the caregivers, the mothers, the nurturers of society (Cancer) - those who have given so much - when they need some of that care themselves.

We must hold the hands of those at the edge, on the verge of tipping into the bleak. And we must courageously reach out for a hand when we find ourselves at this point.

The establishment does not care about us. It was not designed to care. Caring wastes time; it cuts into profit margins; it gives competitors the edge. 

So we must care for ourselves and for each other – radically and lovingly, fiercely and fully, gently and sweetly.

We must do better. We must make up for the failings built into this system to harm us. We must warn each other about the traps designed to ensnare us.  We must link our fingers into a net - so strong - to catch us when we fall. We must create asylum, refuge, secret pockets of sanity and humanity stumbled upon magically when we most need to find them.

We deserve better. You deserve better, Leslie. So we must make it better, together.

Transiting wounded healer Chiron forms conjunctions to Leslie's North Node on the final degree of the zodiac, 29 Pisces, in 2018 and 2019. This is followed by her Chiron return at 4 degrees Aries in 2019 and 2020. The healing cycle is coming full circle. The healing Leslie needs as an individual is the healing we all need. 

Please support the freeing of Leslie Demeniuk and all those serving prison time for the crimes of the pharmaceuticals industry.

Please research the potential side effects of any pharmaceutical (or even herbal remedy) before you take it. Do not take your physician or pharmacist's word for it.

In the hearts and minds of those who seek real justice and equality on Earth, we know that the social structures as they exist cannot go on. As transiting Jupiter in Libra forms its final square to Pluto in Capricorn (exact August 4), this could not be more apparent.

Until our efforts bring about the grand-scale changes needed, we stand in spiritual solidarity with those unjustly imprisoned on Planet Earth, past, present, and future. We link arms, we hold hands, we join at the heart with anyone who has been unjustly imprisoned and with anyone in a state of socially-engineered desperation or isolation who feels as if he or she is in prison. 

A better world is not only possible - it's necessary. Thank-you for being here and for helping to make things better.