US astronauts disembark SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and board the International Space Station

By Jackie WattlesCNN Business

Updated 3:13 PM ET, Sun May 31, 2020

US astronauts welcomed aboard the International Space Station

New York (CNN Business)Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have successfully disembarked the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and entered the International Space Station.SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft docked at the space station at 10:16 a.m. ET Sunday morning after launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Saturday and traveling 19 hours. After making initial contact with the ISS, Crew Dragon went through a series of steps to further mate the spacecraft with its port — including linking power and creating an air-locked seal — before the first of two hatches were opened.Behnken and Hurley are expected to remain on board the space station for one to three months, or for a maximum of 110 days.

NASA, SpaceX launch astronauts from US soil for the first time in a decade

NASA, SpaceX launch astronauts from US soil for the first time in a decadeOn Sunday morning, the spacecraft made a careful approach to the space station and then made a “soft capture” — meaning Crew Dragon made its first physical contact with its docking port at the International Space Station. Crew Dragon then made a “hard capture,” which involved using 12 latches to create an air-locked seal between Behnken and Hurley’s crew cabin and their entrance to the space station and linked up Crew Dragon’s power supply to the ISS.Sponsor content by CNN UnderscoredYour guide to the best nonstick pansA quality nonstick pan is a true kitchen essential; from stir-frys to burgers to omelettes, the stovetop staple basically does it all.

Spectators watch the SpaceX launch from a bridge in Titusville, Florida, on Saturday, May 30. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon capsule is carrying astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken toward the International Space Station.

PHOTOS: SpaceX’s historic launchSpectators watch the SpaceX launch from a bridge in Titusville, Florida, on Saturday, May 30. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon capsule is carrying astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken toward the International Space Station.

Behnken and Hurley emerged, smiling, from the capsule around 1:15 pm ET. They were greeted by fellow NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who were already on board the orbiting laboratory.close dialog

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called the station from the space agency’s mission control center in Houston, Texas.”We are so, so proud of everything you’ve done for our country, and in fact, to inspire the world,” Bridenstine said.When asked about their 19-hour journey to the space station, Hurley said he “couldn’t be happier” about the performance of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.The astronauts were able to sleep for a few hours, share meals and use the on board toilet during their journey. “The Dragon was a slick vehicle, and we had good airflow, so we had an excellent, excellent evening,” Hurley said.

Crew Dragon has a name: Endeavour

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley gave a tour of their Crew Dragon spacecraft using onboard cameras while the vehicle was making its way toward the International Space Station on Saturday evening.And they announced a name for the vehicle: Endeavour.NASA@NASA

Welcome aboard the @SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft!

In this video from space, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug reveal the name of their capsule: Endeavour. Take a look inside as the crew continues their journey to the @Space_Station: 

Embedded video

88KTwitter Ads info and privacy18.3K people are talking about thisThe astronauts picked that name for a few reasons, Hurley said on NASA and SpaceX’s webcast. On one hand, the name honors the years-long endeavor that was returning human spaceflight to the United States after the Space Shuttle retired in 2011. And it honors the longtime friendship that Hurley and Behnken have shared, and their histories with NASA: Both astronauts began their spaceflight careers with missions aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. (That vehicle’s namesake was an 18th century ship commanded by British explorer James Cook — hence the British spelling of “Endeavour.”)

Special cargo: A glittery dinosaur

NASA and SpaceX already revealed that a couple of special artworks were aboard Crew Dragon with the astronauts. But livestream viewers spotted a small, sparkly dinosaur toy on board with Hurley and Behnken as well.

What to know about SpaceX's historic Crew Dragon mission

What to know about SpaceX’s historic Crew Dragon missionDuring their update from orbit on Saturday, the astronauts shared what that was all about: They both have young sons who are big fans of dinosaurs, and the astronauts allowed their kids to vote on which of their toys would be stowed away on this mission.The selection was a blue and pink, sequin-studded Apatosaurus.

What this milestone means

Crew Dragon and the astronauts have now made it through two major milestones — launch and docking — without encountering any major issues. That’s a huge win for SpaceX, which has been working toward this moment since the company was founded in 2002.It’s also a point of celebration for NASA, which made the controversial decision to ask the private sector to design vehicles for transportation to the ISS after the Space Shuttle program retired in 2011. NASA has long partnered with the private sector, but it had never before handed over design, development and testing of a human-rated spacecraft to a commercial company.After delays, development hiccups and some political roadblocks, a successful first launch of astronauts will mark a huge win for folks within the space agency who hope to continue using more extensive commercial contracts. That includes for NASA’s ambitions to put people on the moon in 2024.


Translators:  Mike Zonta, Melissa Goodnight, Richard Branam, Hanz Bolen, Sarah Flynn

SENSE TESTIMONY:  Anger and frustration from a history of lost lives and livelihoods cause riotous explosion of energy.

5th Step Conclusions:

1)  Truth is the only cause and only effect of all action, always triumphant, the all knowing, all-finding present which includes the so-called past and the so-called future, infinite of mind and body, automatically inclusive of universal unearned and unearnable income/livelihood.

2) Truth is omnipresent constant balance omnipotent fulfilled beingness being all there is.

3)  One Infinite Consciousness, is Being the miraculous Whole of all Life, and the limitless Ways of sustaining it — which is unfolding in evermore harmonious equipoise, and motivating the ecstatic expression of means.

4) Truth is the strongest feeling of excitement, totally, wholly, and completely satisfied, Being the only Thinker, the only Means of valuing value, this Divine erudite Consciousness Awareness androgynous Identity, worthy of explosive applause, Being Ergon the only activity

5) Essential Harmonious Source is known and True, of Sound Well Being in and of Each and Every Individuation and expression As the Complete and total Power of Being, the Cause of All There Is Instantaneously Universal, the Integrity that is Always Everywhere. —All One Essential Harmonious Source is known and Expressed. Everywhere.

All Translators are welcome to join this group every Sunday at 7 p.m. Pacific time. Zoom link:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Part of a series on
Basic types[show]
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 Psychology portal

Psychodrama is an action method, often used as a psychotherapy, in which clients use spontaneous dramatizationrole playing, and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives.[1]

Developed by Jacob L. Moreno, psychodrama includes elements of theater, often conducted on a stage, or a space that serves as a stage area, where props can be used. A psychodrama therapy group, under the direction of a licensed psychodramatist, reenacts real-life, past situations (or inner mental processes), acting them out in present time. Participants then have the opportunity to evaluate their behavior, reflect on how the past incident is getting played out in the present and more deeply understand particular situations in their lives.[2]

Psychodrama offers a creative way for an individual or group to explore and solve personal problems. It may be used in a variety of clinical and community-based settings in which other group members (audience) are invited to become therapeutic agents (stand-ins) to populate the scene of one client.

Besides benefits to the designated client, “side-benefits” may accrue to other group members, as they make relevant connections and insights to their own lives from the psychodrama of another.

A psychodrama is best conducted and produced by a person trained in the method, called a psychodrama director.[3]

In a session of psychodrama, one client of the group becomes the protagonist, and focuses on a particular, personal, emotionally problematic situation to enact on stage. A variety of scenes may be enacted, depicting, for example, memories of specific happenings in the client’s past, unfinished situations, inner dramas, fantasiesdreams, preparations for future risk-taking situations, or unrehearsed expressions of mental states in the here and now.[2] These scenes either approximate real-life situations or are externalizations of inner mental processes. Other members of the group may become auxiliaries and support the protagonist by playing other significant roles in the scene[2], or they may step in as a “double” who plays the role of the protagonist.

A core tenet of psychodrama is Moreno’s theory of “spontaneity-creativity”.[4] Moreno believed that the best way for an individual to respond creatively to a situation is through spontaneity, that is, through a readiness to improvise and respond in the moment.[5] By encouraging an individual to address a problem in a creative way, reacting spontaneously and based on impulse, they may begin to discover new solutions to problems in their lives and learn new roles they can inhabit within it.[4] Moreno’s focus on spontaneous action within the psychodrama was developed in his Theatre of Spontaneity, which he directed in Vienna in the early 1920s.[6] Disenchanted with the stagnancy he observed in conventional, scripted theatre, he found himself interested in the spontaneity required in improvisational work. He founded an improvisational troupe in the 1920s. This work in the theatre impacted the development of his psychodramatic theory.[5]

More at:

Michael Franti says positivity is more important than politics now

Photo of Joe Garofoli

Joe Garofoli May 30, 2020 (

Michael Franti has shifted from politics to positivity.
1of4Michael Franti has shifted from politics to positivity.Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle
Michael Franti and Sara Agah Franti sit with their son Taj Franti at their home in San Francisco in February.
2of4Michael Franti and Sara Agah Franti sit with their son Taj Franti at their home in San Francisco in February.Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle
Michael Franti cradles his the feet of his 17-month-old son, Taj Franti, at their San Francisco home on Feb. 10.
3of4Michael Franti cradles his the feet of his 17-month-old son, Taj Franti, at their San Francisco home on Feb. 10.Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

Michael Franti has toured the world for three decades playing socially conscious, politically charged music. But the San Francisco resident’s new album, set to drop June 19 in the middle of the most intense political campaign in a generation, is nearly politics-free.

That is by design, Franti told The Chronicle’s “It’s All Political” podcast. To him, it’s not all political anymore.

Instead, the longtime activist is appealing to our human commonality at a time when racist rhetoric is peaking, people are filling the streets protesting police brutality, and Americans reflexively retreat into their partisan camps instead of seeking compromise. The title of Franti’s new album reflects his mantra in this era when shades of gray have disappeared from public life: “Work Hard and Be Nice.”

“I think it’s important to do (political music) from time to time, but I also feel like it’s important to express the full rainbow of human emotion,” said Franti, 53. “What music helps us do is … unlock those feelings that are so often bottled up.

“Our goal in politics is not to get candidates elected,” he said. “Our goal in life is to get candidates elected who can then improve the quality of lives for people so that people can be happier.”

Franti said his attitude began to change around the time he recorded one of his most politically charged albums, 2006’s “Yell Fire!” written at the height of the Iraq War.

In the title track, Franti sings:

“They tellin’ you to never worry about the future

They tellin’ you to never worry about the torture

They tellin’ you that you’ll never see the horror

Spend it all today and we will bill you tomorrow

Three-piece suits and bank accounts in Bahamas

Wall Street crime will never send you to the slammer

Tell all the children in the arms of their mommas

The F-15 is a homicide bomber.”

Franti had traveled to Iraq 11 months after the war started, disturbed that he hadn’t heard more about its human toll in Baghdad, whose population of 5.4 million was roughly half the size of the Bay Area.

Shortly after Franti landed, an Iraqi family showed him where they hid in the basement of their home during U.S. bombing raids. The father described how they covered themselves with blankets as protection from the spraying shards of glass from their windows.

Franti was moved, imagining how he’d have to protect his three sons if his home was under attack. When he returned with his hosts to their living room, he played them “Bomb the World.” He wrote the antiwar song in 2003 as the Iraq War ramped up:

“We can chase down all our enemies

Bring them to their knees

We can bomb the world to pieces

But we can’t bomb it into peace.”

“I thought this family would be like, super moved and say, ‘Thank you for identifying with our struggle,’ ” Franti said. “But I was stunned when his face just soured.”

Franti recalled that the Iraqi man told him, “in very harsh tones, ‘How dare you come into my house and sing a song about peace when your country is actually bombing me?’”

The man told Franti that he wanted to hear “songs that make us laugh, dance, cry, sing, move and somehow move our hearts right now, because we are stuck in our home and we can’t do anything else but be right here. We need some relief.”

That is what Franti wants to provide now — some relief at a time when he hears an increasing amount of racism.

The Oakland-born Franti is of mixed race, the son of a white mother and a father who was African American and Native American. His mother put him up for adoption when he was very young, he says, because she feared her family would not accept him.

He was adopted by Charles Franti and Carole Wistl, a white couple, and he grew up in Davis, where Charles Franti was a professor of epidemiology at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Back then, Franti recalls that the Republicans he encountered were “fiscally conservative, but they weren’t mean, and if they were racist, they generally kept it to themselves. And I’m not saying that Republicans are the only ones who are racist, because all of us have prejudices.”

Americans are less likely to keep their racist thoughts to themselves now, he said, as “the political dialogue had changed so much since Trump started running for office.” In November, the FBI reported that it had recorded the highest number of hate crimes based on prejudice in 16 years.

Franti said Trump is “giving voice to this kind of hatred has allowed people who maybe had those kind of feelings to now bring them out into the open. … And that’s why I feel like the title of the record became so important to me.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Franti was scheduled to be on tour now with country star Kenny Chesney. That might seem like an unlikely pairing to Franti’s longtime fans, given that his music ranges from hip-hop to funk, soul and reggae and Chesney — who voted for Republican John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008 — is “is not political at all in his music,” Franti said.

But Franti said he and Chesney, who have become friends over the years, are primarily focused on bringing positivity and connection to the world. Franti hopes that when they do finally tour, their fan bases can intermingle and … connect.

“It hurts him as much as it hurts me to see our country have so much debate,” Franti said. “I don’t care who people vote for necessarily. Ultimately I’m concerned with the state of our country, and I hope that Trump doesn’t get re-elected. But every person has the right to choose whoever they want to vote for.

“But I don’t think it’s every person’s right to just sit behind their keyboard and be an a-hole to every single person they come across,” Franti said. “Whether you have the right to do that is not is not really the question to me. I feel like it’s morally wrong to just be mean to people for the sake of being mean.”

Joe Garofoli is The San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political writer. Email: Twitter: @joegarofoli

Traditional indigenous beliefs are a powerful tool for understanding the pandemic

Native American spiritual leaders say this is a time to recalibrate for a better future.

Jillene Joseph, a member of the Gros Ventre or Aaniiih people, enjoys a moment of sunshine at her home in Gresham, Oregon. The director of the Native Wellness Institute is deeply… Read More

PUBLISHED MAY 12, 2020 (

“What are we going to do?” Jillene Joseph asked the board of the Native Wellness Institute. It wasn’t a rhetorical question.

It was mid-March, and the board was holding an emergency meeting as schools and businesses began shutting down due to the novel coronavirus. The Oregon-based institute addresses trauma in indigenous communities, usually through in-person trainings that are rooted in ancestral teachings and traditions. Joseph, the executive director, knew she had to find a new way to help community members who were adjusting to stay-at-home orders.

Native Americans are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as crowded multigenerational homes. On reservations, where roughly half of Native Americans live, not everyone has indoor plumbing or electricity, making it difficult to follow the guidelines to wash hands regularly in hot water. As a result, Navajo Nation, the largest reservation in the United States, has an infection rate nearly as high as that of New York and New Jersey. As of May 11 there have been 102 confirmed deaths.TODAY’SPOPULAR STORIES

“An already traumatized people are being retraumatized,” says Joseph, a member of the Gros Ventre or Aaniiih people who are from Fort Belknap, Montana. Managing the pandemic’s psychological and spiritual toll has become her focus.

As a community health practitioner, Joseph sees traditional cultural beliefs and practices as powerful tools for helping indigenous people understand this pandemic. She is not alone. With an emphasis on community, resilience, and a holistic relationship with nature, spiritual leaders from different tribes express guarded optimism that people of all backgrounds will learn from the lessons coronavirus has to teach.

‘Blood memory’

For indigenous people, history plays an unavoidable role in interpreting the pandemic. One elder from Michigan called Joseph to talk about how difficult it’s been for her to care for herself and her family. After some reflection, the woman realized why: She was weighed down by thoughts of the smallpox epidemic that had killed so many Native Americans. She felt she needed to forgive the U.S. government for intentionally giving her people the illness.

While documentary evidence that Europeans or Americans purposely spread smallpox is scarce, there’s little doubt that colonizers brought infectious diseases that killed an estimated 90 percent—some 20 million people or more—of the indigenous population in the Americas. “Even though we may not have been alive in the time of the smallpox epidemic, that’s in our blood memory,” says Joseph, “just as historical resiliency is also in our blood memory.”

(Related: Native American imagery abounds, but the people are often forgotten.)

Those deeply rooted experiences can lead to acceptance, especially among elders. “They have been through so much and experienced so much that there’s no need to fear or even panic,” says Tiokasin Ghosthorse, the Stoneridge, New York-based host of First Voices Radio and a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation from South Dakota. “It’s almost like this [pandemic] is familiar.”

As such, indigenous communities aren’t dwelling on the pandemic’s backstory. “Indigenous peoples don’t always need to go and explain what happened, why it happened,” says the Reverend David Wilson, a Methodist minister in Oklahoma City and member of the Choctaw Nation. “We just know it’s there.”

“We’re taught not to think of nature as separate,” explains Ghosthorse, and that includes COVID-19. “The coronavirus is a being,” he says. “And we have to respect that being in an ‘awe state’ and a ‘wonder state’ because it has come to us as a medicine” to treat spiritual ills.

Reconnecting with culture

At a time when people around the world are sheltering in place, maintaining meaningful connections is vital. Native American leaders are finding creative ways to reach out. In an effort to bring positivity, calm, and reassurance to indigenous people, Joseph and her colleagues tapped into the community of Native American storytellers, musicians, healers, and even comedians to create the Native Wellness Power Hour.

Since it launched on March 21, thousands have clicked into the institute’s Facebook page to listen to prayer songs, lectures on navigating healing associated with PTSD, especially related to the ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, or just to dance along with others tuning in from around the country.

In Oklahoma, Native American Methodists sent videos of themselves singing tribal hymns to the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, which incorporated them into virtual church services. “We work hard to keep people connected to our culture and our language,” says Wilson, who is the conference’s superintendent. “Most of the people who have texted me or called me say, man, we love that—especially the hymns.”

Lessons for the future

While this pandemic is presenting an opportunity to find meaningful ways to connect, it’s also a wake-up call with important lessons for the future. “If we don’t learn from now,” warns Mindahi Bastida Muñoz, general coordinator of the Otomi-Toltec Regional Council in Mexico, “then another thing, more powerful, is going to come.”

(Related: April saw the first coronavirus deaths reported in indigenous Amazon communities.)

Bastida, who is also the director of the Original Caretakers program at the Center for Earth Ethics in New York City, says the world is out of balance and that anthropocentrism—our human-centric outlook—is the cause. “We think that we are the ones who can decide everything,” he says, “but we are killing ourselves.”

“Mother Earth is saying, ‘please listen,’” adds Joyce Bryant, known as Grandmother Sasa, the Abenaki founder of a healing center in New Hampshire. “We have to care about others. You know, the grass, the trees, the plants, the air, the water—all are extensions of ourselves. And they teach us.”

“Living in harmony with Mother Earth is a lot of work,” says Bastida, but it can be done by reviving the indigenous idea that humans serve as caregivers of nature. He’s working with spiritual leaders across the world to return to the old ways—producing food by hand, finding medicine in plants, animals, and minerals, and performing rituals and ceremonies that send prayers to Mother Earth.

Perhaps the biggest lesson that indigenous spiritual leaders hope people will take from the pandemic is that it’s a time to be still, to reflect, and to listen to elders. Both Joseph and Wilson likened this period of stay-at-home orders to a long winter, when people would traditionally stay inside and listen to stories. According to Joseph, it’s like Earth is saying “not today, humans, you need some more reflection.”

How Race Was Made

March 1, 2017 (

For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Photo: The Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal. The highlighted figure in the center is an effigy of Gomes Eanes de Zurara. The figure at the top right is Prince Henry the Navigator. Photo by Harvey Barrison.

Download a transcript of the episode.

Astrology of June 2020 – Solar Eclipse in Cancer

May 30, 2020 (

There is a lot going on in June 2020. But two things stand out: 1.) a powerful Annular Solar Eclipse at the Solstice, and 2.) retrograde intensity – we have 6 planets retrograde in June.

And if that was not enough, we also have a potentially disruptive Jupiter-Pluto conjunction at the end of the month. There’s a lot going on in June!

Let’s analyze the most important astrological events of the month of June:

June 3rd, 2020 – Venus Conjunct Sun

On June 3rd, Venus retrograde is conjunct the Sun at 13° Gemini, and a new 584-day Venus cycle begins.

This is when Venus leaves her nightgown and transforms into a morning star. Venus is still invisible, burned by the Sun. But it is in the purifying heat of the Sun where we will experience a rebirth of the heart.

June 5th, 2020 – Full Moon And Lunar Eclipse In Sagittarius

On June 5th, 2020 the Eclipse portal opens with a Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius.

This is our first eclipse with the Nodes in the Gemini/Sagittarius axis – and even if this eclipse is penumbral, and less powerful, it will still give us the first hints of what to expect from the upcoming eclipses on the Gemini/Sagittarius axis.

This Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse is square Mars, so it triggers the Sun-Mars square. The Mars cycle is a metaphor for the hero’s journey.

This first Sun-Mars square (which occurs on June 5th, 2020) is when the hero leaves the “familiar world” and crosses the threshold to the “unknown world”.

This phase of the Mars cycle is when the hero is the most vulnerable. This is the Victim state of the Hero.

Later in the Mars cycle, when we have the Sun-Mars opposition (on October 13th, 2020) the hero will have to confront the villain.

That’s why right now, at the time of the 1st square, we’d better get ready. It’s time to draw on our resources, find a mentor, and ask for help. Which internal resources can you capitalize on to get ready for the “battle”? Which skills do you still need to master?

The Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius is a great time to see where you’re at and make an inventory of your assets.

June 13th, 2020 – Mars Conjunct Neptune

On June 13th, 2020 Mars is conjunct Neptune at 20° Pisces.

Mars is the planet of action. When we go for what we want, we act from our inner Mars. Mars is a straightforward planet “That’s mine, that’s yours”. Mars cuts, separates, divides and draws clear boundaries.

Neptune on the other hand, is the planet of oneness. Neptune dissolves any boundaries. When Mars and Neptune collide, we are asked to integrate these two very different parts of our psyche.

Mars conjunct Neptune will ask us to take a close look at how we assert ourselves and go for what we want: it is ok to be assertive, it is ok to take action, it is ok to go for what you want, as long as your actions don’t violate other people’s “Mars” their wants, rights and personal liberties.

That’s of course not an easy task. Where do you draw the line from being authentic to yourself while allowing other people to be their authentic selves… without it being at the expense of your personal authenticity?

Many philosophers have tried to answer this question and there is no right or wrong approach. But that’s what we have astrology for. We can at least become AWARE of what is going on, and from that place of awareness, try to act from our highest possible self.

June 18th, 2020 – Mercury Goes Retrograde

Just when we’re a few days shy from Venus going direct… Mercury goes retrograde at 14° Cancer to spoil all the fun. Mercury is retrograde until July 12th, when he turns direct at 5° Cancer.

If you have planets or angles between 5°-14° Cancer you will be especially influenced by this Mercury retrograde cycle. And of course, if you have a Gemini or a Virgo ascendant, you are by default on the radar of Mercury retrograde, since Mercury is your chart ruler.

However, whether or not you have planets in Cancer, or a Gemini or Virgo rising, you will still be influenced by this cycle – since Mercury retrograde will transit a particular house (or houses) in your natal chart, influencing the corresponding area or areas of your life.

With Mercury, 4 out of the 5 visible planets – Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn – are now retrograde, which is rather unusual. This is a time of deep introspection.

In the middle of the retrograde cycle, Mercury is conjunct the Sun at 9° Cancer, starting a new Mercury cycle. The new Mercury cycle chart is square Chiron (at 9° Aries) so the upcoming Mercury cycle has a Chiron “flavor”.

A Mercury cycle lasts for 116 days, so the upcoming 4 months are a good time to start a project that connects the qualities of Mercury (writing, communication, learning, commerce, DIY) with the qualities of Chiron (healing, spirituality, astrology, herbs, alternative healing, shamanism, working on the family/karmic wound).

June 19th, 2020 – Sun Conjunct North Node

On June 19th, 2020, the Sun is conjunct the North Node at 29° Gemini. The Sun is our identity and the North Node is our purpose in life.

The Sun is conjunct the North Node once every year. This is the best day of the year to ask yourself “Who am I really?” “What is my true purpose? What is my life path?”

Notice the first answer that comes to you. Gemini has a curious, open-minded vibe. It is important that you don’t try to seek confirmations or validations to existing assumptions during this time.

Instead – be like a Gemini. Be open-minded. Welcome new perspectives. Accept that you don’t yet have all the answers.

June 21st, 2020 – Sun Enters Cancer, Southern Solstice

On June 21st, 2020 Sun enters Cancer which means we have the Southern Solstice – the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Each solstice and each equinox sets the scene for the next 3 months of the year.

This Solstice coincides with the most powerful Eclipse of 2020. This is BIG. The upcoming 3 months will have a fated flavor. Each day will feel like an eclipse!

June 21st, 2020 – New Moon And Solar Eclipse In Cancer

On June 21st, 2020 we have the most important eclipse of the year, at 0° Cancer, a power degree. The Eclipse occurs hours after the solstice so it is extremely potent – because this is where the Sun changes direction in the sky.

This Solar Eclipse is an Annular eclipse, creating a beautiful ring of fire effect, and it is visible in Central Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The Solar Eclipse in Cancer is a North Node eclipse. Unlike South Node eclipses, which have a karmic flavor, North Node eclipses are opportunities to rewrite the script of our destiny.

The North Node is like a vortex – anything is possible when we have a North Node Eclipse. But be mindful of what you do. Because there will always be a payout – usually at a future South Node eclipse.

The eclipse is square Mars and quincunx Saturn. Both Mercury and Neptune are stationing retrograde, while Venus is stationing direct at the time of the Eclipse.

We will feel just like a crab, with one foot we go in one direction, and with another foot in another. Push and pull, pull, and push.

But we can all learn from this Cancer approach. Walking sideways gives us room and time to assess the environment, take calculated risks, and still get to our destination.

June 23rd, 2020 – Neptune Goes Retrograde

Brace yourself – Neptune joins the retrograde party. Right now, we have no less than 6(!) retrograde planets. Outer planets like Neptune are at their most powerful, i.e. more keen to implement their “agenda” when they change direction – that is, now.

And what does Neptune want from us? Neptune wants to dissolve our ego so we can be at one with the source. Neptune’s message is that separation is an illusion and that we are all ONE.

When Neptune is direct, we look for experiences of “oneness” outside ourselves. When Neptune is retrograde, we seek oneness within ourselves.

At the Neptune station, you may have some experiences, insights, or intuitive messages (pay attention to your dreams) that will reveal how you can access those Neptunian resources within yourself.

June 25th, 2020 – Venus Goes Direct

Now some good news. After a 40 days and 40 nights trial, on June 25th, 2020 the goddess of beauty and love finally turns direct at 5° Gemini.

If you’ve been feeling confused, emotional, divided, torn between different directions, Venus direct will come with the much-needed relief and clarity.

June 28th, 2020 – Mars Enters Aries

Brace yourself again. Mars enters Aries, and he’s here for a loooong stay – 6 months to be exact.

The good news is that Mars is not yet in the shadow zone (it will enter the shadow on July 26th, 2020) so you still have one month of Mars in domicile – which is a great place to be for Mars – anda great time for you to take bold action on your projects.

June 30th, 2020 – Jupiter Conjunct Pluto

… and brace yourself one more time. Jupiter is conjunct Pluto at 24° Capricorn – this is the second “kick” in the series of 3 (with one more to go).

The 1st conjunction occurred on April 4th, when the Coronavirus crisis was in full swing, and the final conjunction occurs on November 12th, 2020.

Pluto had been in Capricorn since 2008 – and while Pluto has a reputation of being overly secretive and working behind the scenes, Jupiter has the reputation of exposing, magnifying and inflating. We have a conflict of interest.

In 2020, Jupiter is asking Pluto to do what he dreads the most: to reveal his hidden agenda.

Both Jupiter and Pluto are known for blowing things out of proportion. We’ve all seen the less fortunate manifestations of this aspect.

But there is always a positive side to everything. And this 2nd conjunction will likely come with a solution or alternative route to the problems that have been brought to our attention at the time of the 1st conjunction.

It’s up to us to do our homework and act from our highest selves. Because the 3rd conjunction in November will come with the final outcome.

And – some good news – Jupiter and Pluto also have a reputation of being extremely generous. So act wisely, and you will reap the rewards later this year.

June may seem a month to fear – with all the eclipses and retrogrades.

But there are also many great things happening this month – Venus direct, Sun conjunct North Node, Jupiter conjunct Pluto, to name only a few opportunity-linked aspects.

June has something in store for everyone. Cheers to June!

–Astro Butterfly

A 60,000-year-old cure for depression

The author took part in a water vibrational healing ceremony (Credit: Credit: Catherine Mercer)

Traditional healers have been entrusted with the well-being of indigenous Australian communities for as long as their culture has been alive – yet surprisingly little is known of them.

  • By Bonita Grima

30 September 2019 (

There I was, on a cold but bright day in late autumn, wearing nothing but my bathing suit, lying on a pile of kangaroo skins and engulfed in plumes of smouldering leaves from a peppermint tree by the banks of a sacred river.

Kwoorabup has been a place of ceremony for thousands of years. The river, located near the small town of Denmark, 360km south-east of Western Australia’s capital, Perth, was given its name by the local Noongar people, who believe it was formed by the Wagyl, a giant serpent from the creation period known as the Dreaming.

Most people journey to this wild coastal stretch of Western Australia’s Great Southern region to visit vineyards, sample delicious produce and holiday by its strip of stunning beaches, but I was there to have my spirit rebalanced by the local medicine man, Joey Williams.

Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people have the oldest living culture on Earth. For around 60,000 years, their intricate understanding of ecology ensured survival, and their physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being was achieved by maintaining healthy, balanced relationships with all living and non-living things.

At the heart of their communities were traditional healers. They have been respected and entrusted with the well-being of Aboriginal communities for as long as the culture has been alive, yet still today surprisingly little is known of them. The few healers who remain, of which Williams is one, have extensive knowledge of Aboriginal culture and are believed to possess supernatural abilities. Their role is to treat physical, mental and spiritual ailments using bush medicine, smoking ceremonies and spirit realignment – the latter being a common remedy for depression, or what indigenous Australians call “sickness of the spirit”.

Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people achieve well-being through balanced relationships with nature (Credit: Credit: Catherine Mercer)

Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people achieve physical, spiritual and emotional well-being through balanced relationships with the world around them (Credit: Catherine Mercer)

In 2017, the World Health Organization published a study stating the total number of people living with depression in 2015 was estimated to exceed 300 million – an increase of more than 18.4% since 2005.

More recently, the Australian Medical Association announced their agreement with other leading global health organisations, declaring climate change a “health emergency” that will cause a higher incidence of mental ill-health, among other health-related issues. With modern living an apparent threat to both mental well-being and the planet ­– and having personally battled with depression myself – I had wondered whether answers could be found by looking back to the wisdom of the world’s oldest continuous civilisation.

An Aboriginal elder and mubarrn, meaning “medicine” or “lore” man in the local Noongar language, Williams told me his healing ability has been passed down through his ancestral lineage. For him, and other Aboriginal healers, the most important first step in relation to healing is the ability to reconnect to the land, since for indigenous Australians, connection to country represents connection to their culture. For this reason, we’d started the healing ceremony the previous day in the Stirling Range National Park, a 90-minute drive north of Kwoorabup, to experience a reconnection ceremony at an ancient sacred site on the traditional lands of the Koreng tribe to which he belongs.

The few traditional Aboriginal healers who remain are believed to possess supernatural abilities (Credit: Credit: Bonita Grima)

The few traditional Aboriginal healers who remain, of which Joey Williams is one, are believed to possess supernatural abilities (Credit: Bonita Grima)

Western Australia’s only southern mountain range is an area of extraordinary beauty. It’s one of the few places in the state that gets snow, and spring sees it dotted with an array of brightly coloured wildflowers. Home to 1,500 species, many growing nowhere else, it’s one of the world’s most important areas for flora.

Many of these native plants have medicinal properties, and because Williams spent his early childhood living off the land with family, it’s no wonder that he, now in his late 50s, refers to the area as his “supermarket” and “pharmacy”.

Wading through knee-high grass, Williams showed me how to dig for bloodroot (good for numbing toothache) and gather resin formed from the oozing red antiseptic sap of a marri tree, which strangely resembled the very thing it is known for healing – an open wound. “It cures stomach ache too,” he said.

Indigenous Australians see the land as a “mother” and very much alive (Credit: Credit: Bonita Grima)

Indigenous Australians see the land as a “mother” and very much alive (Credit: Bonita Grima)

As we walked, Williams demonstrated that to him and other indigenous Australians, the land is very much alive, with songlines (cultural memory codes that hold knowledge of a place and define the responsibilities attached to kinship and lore) scattered across its skin. After singing the specific songline attached to the spot we were standing, Williams “read” the land to me, pointing out peaks like chapters. “There’s Bulla Meile, the hill of eyes,” he said. More commonly known as Bluff Knoll, southern Western Australia‘s highest peak is where the Koreng people believe they return after death. “And straight out in front of us is Talyuberlup. See her face, breast and stomach?” he asked, tracing curves in the air. “Meaning beautiful woman sleeping. She’s the protector of this range.” 

Following his gaze, the undulating countryside did indeed look like an expecting mother resting, and served as a reminder that Aboriginal people see the land as a “mother” and a guide for reciprocal wellness.

Back in the car, we continued on to Wickelenup, a semi-dry salt lake that is a “power ground”, a place where the Koreng people have performed ceremonial reconnection rites for thousands of years. Wickelenup means “lake of many colours” and it’s named for the ochre pits resting beside it. These large deposits of clay earth produce pigments ranging from pale yellows to deep reds, which, when painted on the body during a ceremony, represent the important connection that indigenous Australians have with the land.

I only have to listen to you for half an hour and I know you

Entering Wickelenup, Williams used clapsticks and what he called a “protection song” to summon his ancestors for the protection and blessing of our steps upon the Earth. After crossing a bed of clay that looked as if giant tins of red and yellow paint had been dropped from the sky, he led me to an oddly shaped chunk of volcanic rock that he used as a platform for grinding ochre. Williams stood with his eyes closed and sang the songline belonging to his family, the Kaarl Poorlanger, meaning “people of fire”, before mixing ochre on the stone and painting a russet-coloured pigment onto my skin in a technique known as “smudging”.

“This is your mark, your connection to this land. You might wash it off later but I know it’s there… and so will you,” he said.

Looking at the symbol on my arm, I asked why he had chosen what looked like ripples in water. “I didn’t,” he said. “You chose it in your mind.” Sensing my confusion, Williams elaborated. “I only have to listen to you for half an hour and I know you.”

Aboriginal knowledge of the land has been passed down through songlines (Credit: Credit: Catherine Mercer)

Aboriginal knowledge of the land has been passed down through songlines, cultural memory codes that define the responsibilities attached to kinship (Credit: Catherine Mercer)

Whether healers truly possess any psychic ability, it seems a key skill Aboriginal people have honed over thousands of years is an advanced way of listening.

Elder Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, an Aboriginal activist, educator and artist from Australia’s Northern Territory, believes “dadirri is the Aboriginal gift” the world is thirsting for.

Meaning “inner deep listening and quiet still awareness” in her Ngangikurungkurr language, dadirri is a form of mindfulness and reciprocal empathy we can develop with the land, each other and ourselves, according to Ungunmerr-Baumann. “We call on it and it calls to us… It is something like what you call ‘contemplation’,” she writes on her website.

For indigenous Australians, this spiritual listening practice provides a way to observe and act according to the natural seasons and cycles in a way the modern world seems to have forgotten. “We watch the bush foods and wait for them to ripen before we gather them. When a relation dies, we wait a long time with the sorrow. We own our grief and allow it to heal slowly,” she told me.

According to the WHO, the number of people living with depression increased more than 18% between 2005 and 2015 (Credit: Credit: ANTAC)

According to the World Health Organization, the number of people living with depression increased more than 18% between 2005 and 2015 (Credit: ANTAC)

While much ancient Aboriginal wisdom and culture has already been lost, elders such as Ungunmerr-Baumann are striving to keep what’s left alive, but it’s not an easy task. When the First Fleet of British settlers arrived in Australia in 1788, Australia’s indigenous population was thought to be around 750,000. Ten years later, it was estimated to have dropped by 90%, due to the introduction of new diseases and violent clashes with the European colonisers. Today, indigenous Australians make up just 3.3% of the population. The forced separation of families and removal of Aboriginal people from their traditional lands, lore and practices affected the passing of cultural knowledge and led to the intergenerational trauma that is still being experienced today.

But one woman advocating for greater recognition of traditional Aboriginal healing principles, practices and medicine is Dr Francesca Panzironi, a human rights academic from Rome. The CEO of Australia’s first organisation of Aboriginal traditional healers, Panzironi formed Anangu Ngangkari Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (ANTAC), with Ngangkari (healers of Australia’s central desert areas) in 2012.

“For indigenous people, it’s about reconnecting to culture and accessing healing techniques that are different from Western medicine,” Panzironi said. “Western medicine looks at the body from a mechanistic perspective, whereas healers highlight everyone has a spirit that intimately links to the body and emotions.”

Aboriginal Ngangkari healers now work alongside Western doctors and mental health experts in some public hospitals (Credit: Credit: ANTAC)

Aboriginal Ngangkari healers now work alongside Western doctors and mental health experts in some public hospitals (Credit: ANTAC)

Although traditional Aboriginal medicine is not recognised as an alternative medicine in Australia (due to difficulty regulating spiritual practices and the lack of testing of bush medicines), Ngangkaris are recognised in South Australian legislation through the Mental Health Act of 2009, and ANTAC now has healers working alongside Western doctors and mental health experts in some public hospitals. They provide “complementary” treatments to medical care for indigenous Australians – something especially beneficial for people recovering from intergenerational trauma, stemming from colonisation.

Panzironi says there has been increased interest from non-indigenous people, too, who are dissatisfied with the mainstream model and are looking for alternatives. “We had a middle-aged woman who reduced her intake of antidepressants significantly over a six-month period of regular pampuni (a massage technique used for spirit realignment by the Ngangkari, particularly in the stomach, which is thought to be connected to the mind), in consultation with her GP. Both the woman and her doctor noticed improvement in her mental health,” she said.

Currently ANTAC has a mobile clinic allowing Ngangkaris to travel to patients in areas of Australia where access to their services are non-existent, but Panzironi would like to see hospital programmes similar to the one in South Australia rolled out nationwide. “The goal is to have Aboriginal traditional medicine recognised as an alternative medicine and to make healers commonplace, as a viable choice for everyone through Medicare [Australia’s universal health care system],” she told me.

During ceremonial reconnection rites, the Koreng people paint their bodies with clay – a practice known as “smudging” (Credit: Credit: Bonita Grima)

During ceremonial reconnection rites, the Koreng people paint their bodies with clay – a practice known as “smudging” (Credit: Bonita Grima)

Back at Kwoorabup, Williams was preparing for the final stage of my spirit realignment ceremony. After using smoke to cleanse and protect our surroundings from bad spirits, as is the traditional ceremonial practice among Aboriginal people, he placed a small stone upon my navel – a tool, he said, to absorb my vibration or spirit.

“We’re all made up of vibration,” Williams said. “It’s connected at birth through the umbilical cord. It’s the essence of who we are.” Through his water vibrational healing ceremony, something that is unique to mubarrn of the area, he explained that I’d be able hear my spirit amplified when he placed the stone in the river. “High vibration means anxiety,” Williams said. “Low vibration is depression. I’ll take your vibration and balance it by releasing it through a portal I’ll open in your back.”

We’re all made up of vibration – it’s the essence of who we are

I had known the water would be cold, but that still hadn’t prepared me for the shock I felt when it came time to immerse myself in the river. Floating on my back, with Williams holding me, I tried to relax and listen to my “vibration” with the stone now held against my spine, but my shuddering body wouldn’t cooperate.

Pain from the freezing water intensified and I was also experiencing discomfort because I was unused to feeling supported. An irrational fear came over me – if I didn’t break free, to move by myself in a way I was used to, I might sink. But then I felt a strange force pushing up from under me and realised it wasn’t just Williams supporting me, but the river itself.

Doing as Williams asked – to relinquish control and acknowledge pain and trust – I tipped my head back and focused on the warmth of the sun’s rays. I remembered something I’d read earlier by Ungunmerr-Baumann. “We cannot hurry the river. We have to move with its current and understand its ways,” she’d written. Moments later, much to my disbelief, my ears filled with a sound like the motor of a distant power boat, growing louder and resonating within – sounding a lot like anxiety, according to Williams’ earlier description. Letting go, I breathed out and went under.

The author took part in a water vibrational healing ceremony, which is meant to amplify the vibrations of one’s spirit (Credit: Credit: Catherine Mercer)

The author took part in a water vibrational healing ceremony, which is meant to amplify the vibrations of one’s spirit (Credit: Catherine Mercer)

From my own experience, recovering from depression is a little like resurfacing from a cold river; thoughts like colours and sounds seem brighter, louder, clearer. And even if there’s no magic fix for mental illness, it seems indigenous Australians have much to teach us about developing greater awareness and reciprocity with our planet for our physical and emotional survival – if we only take the time to listen.

“You need to ask, who you are, why you’re here, where you’re going,” Ungunmerr-Baumann told me. “We know who we are as Aboriginal people. It’s in our language, dreaming, country. We’re waiting for all people to listen and hear what we hear so that we can connect and belong together.”

(Contributed by Hanz Bolen, H.W., M.)