Eric Best—Fire Walk Teacher
Earlier issues of The Mutable Dilemma have featured two individuals who have learned to walk on and handle hot coals. My latest trip to the annual Council Grove Conference, a highlight of my year, brought me into contact with Eric Best who started teaching others to do the fire walk only five months after his first experience. Most of the chart interpretations we present in The Mutable Dilemma are anonymous, to protect the privacy of the subject, but Eric has consented to the publishing of his real name and phone number in the L.A. area. (213 322-5876) If any of our readers are interested in a personal experience of the fire walk, they are invited to phone Eric to learn the date and location of the next walk. The individuals I have met, and the reports I have read, agree that the experience produces an incredible “high” and often an ability to conquer long-standing fears. According to Dr. Stanley Krippner, a leading researcher in Parapsychology, over 10,000 individuals have done the fire walk in California. We have no figures on the number in the rest of the U.S.A.
Turning to Eric’s chart, our first impression is of a rising Uranus trine the MC which it rules, sextile Pluto, with Neptune in early Libra closely trine the Gemini Ascendant. The air signs in the fire houses and Leo in the Gemini house suggest an expressive person with considerable verbal fluency and a sense of humor. The rising Uranus is often found with a sense of personal uniqueness, willingness to take chances, to be “different.” The fire potential is strongly supported by an Aries Moon, the Sun, Venus, and two asteroids (Vesta and Ceres) in Leo, as well as a loaded Leo (fifth) house with Mars there natally and Sun and Jupiter there by secondary progression. The essence of fire is faith; in ourselves with Mars and Sun, and in a higher power with Jupiter. The fire motto is “I know what I want, and I have the right and power to do it.”
Unless the fire and air are tempered by earth and water, the person may be too impulsive and rash. This needed balance is shown in Eric’s chart by the strong occupancy of two water houses (the fourth and twelfth) in addition to Saturn, north node of the Moon and Pallas in the sign of Cancer. Water marks our need for emotional security. For the earth ability to persist and to be practical, the Taurus Antivertex and East Point, Saturn in the Taurus house, the south node of the Moon in Capricorn, and three planets and an asteroid in Virgo are helpful. However, since Saturn and the south node both represent lessons; the fifth house is a growth potential to be carried farther as we develop; and Jupiter and Chiron are similarly symbolic of long-range goals, it looks as if the earth capacity to be realistic and productive is well-developed at birth but due to be carried further in this lifetime.
The initial impression given by the chart is certainly of very high intelligence combined with great emotional warmth. The strength of letters three and four (Gemini and Cancer, third and fourth houses) suggests a very important role for the early family; parents and siblings. With Uranus, ruler of the MC, in the first house, a father figure is likely to be an early role model, whether we want to be like or the opposite of the parent or grandparent. An Aries Moon points to a mother figure as a role model, again whether positive or negative. Ceres in the fourth house usually connects it to mother, and the presence of five factors in that house reiterate the importance of the home and parent. The Sun, Ceres, Venus and Leo connect them to love (though also to power), while Vesta and Virgo connect them to the work ethic or health issues (efficient functioning in a job or in our bodies). Jupiter in the fourth house and the Moon in the twelfth house connect home and mother to faith, whether a traditional religion or high standards and ideals. It is common to find six-twelve emphasis with an ill or otherwise “victim” mother, but in this case, the aspects are mostly harmonious so we can suspect that the early life setting was relatively positive. Of course, we never can be sure of life details until we talk to the person. As our readers know, I believe that astrology shows psychological issues with many possible forms of manifestation. We create the life details with our attitudes and actions. My own information about Eric at this point is limited to the dates of the fire experiences.
Cancer and a node of the Moon in the third house often indicate a parent-sibling mixture. This may express as an older sibling (or other relative such as aunt or uncle) who has a parental role, or younger siblings cared for by the subject. Or the parents may be equalitarian, “like siblings.” Pluto in the third is commonly found with power-struggles against siblings, but in this chart, Pluto is sextile the first house Juno and Uranus. Still, Uranus is octile (semisquare) the north node and Pallas in the third, so some friction is suggested. With mixed aspects and several factors in the third house, it is common to find more than one sibling with some relationships mostly emotionally supportive and others competitive. Both Pallas and Pluto mark an area in life where equality is a goal, but we may have to grow a bit to achieve it, to learn to give, receive, and share easily. If we learn cooperation in our early lives with siblings, it is much easier to manage it later in our adult peer relationships such as marriage. Sometimes, Pluto close to the fourth house cusp may indicate a confrontation with death early in life. One of the Pluto lessons connected to sharing involves learning when is enough and how to let go; that we cannot possess another person. One possible event would be the birth of a sibling when Eric was only one to three years old while solar-arc-directed Pluto crossed the IC. A new sibling in the home forces others to share parental love and attention.
The strong focus of partnership planets and asteroids in the third and fourth houses and signs points to siblings and parents as role models for future mate(s). We may stay in a partnership (adult lasting peer relationship) with the initial family of orientation. We may look (consciously or unconsciously) for a mate like or the opposite of an early family member. We may “mother” a mate or look for a mate to “mother” us. The pattern is very strong in this chart, since Jupiter, ruler of the seventh house, and Venus, the natural ruler of Libra, are both in the fourth house, while Saturn, ruler of part of the eighth house, is in Cancer and Pluto, natural ruler of the eighth is conjunct the fourth house cusp. Pallas, another key to partnership, is also in Cancer conjunct the Moon’s node. The rising Juno is the only partnership key to escape this association with home and mother, and its wide conjunction to Uranus connects it to the tenth house parent, presumably father. In a number of ways, Eric’s chart is similar to mine. I took care of three younger brothers, am currently in partnership with one of them, (Venus and Pluto in Cancer in the third house), and work with my kids with Virgo in my fifth house.
One of the potential hazards of the presence of Jupiter, Chiron, and Neptune in the houses of relationships is the danger of too-high expectations. We may expect too much of mother or vice versa, look for the perfect mate, want to be the perfect parent of perfect children, etc. Mars in Virgo closely conjunct Chiron (which is so much like Jupiter in its search for the Absolute) is an especially strong warning of such danger, increased by the conjunction with Mercury which rules the Ascendant so it is a key to personal identity along with Mars. The first house Gemini and Uranus help a lot, since air symbolizes a capacity for objectivity and acceptance, but in a personal session, I would certainly offer my favorite motto “I’ll be God tomorrow. Today it is OK to be human, on the way to perfection, and it is OK to enjoy the journey.” The powerhouse emphasis on Leo, both by sign and house, can also be a hazard since Leo points to a deep need for positive attention whether in the form of love, admiration, applause, respect, etc. It is important that our sense of self-esteem not depend on the responses of others. Again, the rising Uranus helps to counteract the danger since it shows a strong potential for detachment and independence.
Eric’s first fire walk occurred on the evening of September 7, 1983 in the area of Los Angeles. However, he described a meaningful earlier experience on the evening of August 16, 1979. He had been attending a workshop conducted by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in Escondido, California. The finale for the workshop was a fire ceremony held around 10:30 to 11 P.M. Eric said that during the ceremony, he had the urge to put his hand into the fire and to hold it there, but at that time he could not do it. Four years later, he learned how to do it, and just five months after his first walk, on February 18, 1984, he taught his first class in fire-walking. He has continued to teach, reaching several hundred people in the intervening two years. His last workshop prior to writing this article was at the Church of Religious Science in Clairmont, California, on May 17, 1986. About 22 people attended the session, and were able to walk on the hot coals.
What in Eric’s chart might fit such an unusual choice of career? Of course, we have the rising Uranus, ruler of the MC saying “I am different. I want my career to be different and independent, under my own control.” Neptune and Jupiter, keys to faith and idealism, also rule the tenth house as co-rulers of Pisces in that house of our role in the society and the handling of power. Jupiter also rules the last two degrees of the sixth house, the details of the job, and is conjunct Venus which rules the cusp of the sixth house, a further suggestion of a desire for an idealistic job, one that will make a better world. Pluto rules the Scorpio in the sixth house, and its placement along with Venus in Leo points to a need for warmth and a leadership role in the work. Jupiter and Venus in the fourth house and Pluto conjunct its cusp also point to work involving people; often the public in some form. Emotional security is usually involved when letter four is present. Risking bodily safety and gaining a sense of power over fear is an unusual association for letter four, and could only occur with a strong fire emphasis or some form of letters eleven and/or twelve. Fire, as already indicated, symbolizes desire and the faith to act to move toward the desire. Letter eleven (Uranus, Aquarius, and the eleventh house rulers) marks our urge to go beyond traditional limits, to be free to do whatever we want and to share that freedom with all humanity. Letter twelve (Neptune, Pisces, and the twelfth house) represents faith at the unconscious level in contrast to the more verbally conscious faith of letter nine. It is often even more powerful than letter nine because it is unconscious. As I say often, “the unconscious always wins.” So the teaching potential (air, nodes in the third and ninth houses, Leo) is being expressed in an unusual way.
Materialistic scientists have tried to “explain away” the fire walking as something purely physical, possible for anyone if the fire is not very hot and the time spent in contact with the coals is brief. However, I have seen Komar walk 20 feet on a bed of coals from tree trunks which had been burning all afternoon and were still so hot no one else would go within several feet of them. He walked slowly, deliberately, planting his feet solidly, and he did not have even a blister. A doctor present in case of an accident said that no normal person could have put one foot into that trench of coals without being crippled. There are also cases of fire walkers who did it successfully on several occasions but who were burned when distracted out of their “altered state of consciousness”. We do not know how such an altered state protects human flesh (and clothing sometimes) from burning, but humans have learned to induce the state. “Primitive” people in many parts of the world produce the altered state as part of a religious ceremony. It is very related to faith. It is also often related to being swept up emotionally in a group experience. I have not attempted the feat myself since I tend to stay in the conscious mind analyzing everything and am not sure I could let go enough to let the unconscious take over. I have never been hypnotized though I tried it twice with different professionals, and I suspect that the talent for fire walking is closely related to the capacity for depth trance in hypnosis.
What can we see in Eric’s chart that would fit the capacity for such mind-over-matter or psychokinetic ability? I look first at Vesta and Pluto for the capacity to concentrate and focus the mind, though Saturn aspects can also support such a capacity for “tunnel-vision.” We do not have to look far in Eric’s horoscope. He has a Pluto-Vesta-Sun conjunction on his IC! Any planet close to an angle of the chart must be given extra weight. The IC and fourth house are among our keys to the unconscious, along with the other water “letters” of our astrological alphabet. As our readers know, the Vesta-Sun conjunction is often associated with healing power, whether spiritual, mental, or physical. The Sun marks our drive to do more than we have done in the past. Vesta symbolizes our capacity to totally focus on the details of a job, with a sense of dedication and commitment. Pluto indicates the capacity and the desire for self-knowledge and self-mastery. We could not have a more appropriate combination for mastery of mind and body.
I have mentioned already the identification with faith shown by Chiron conjunct Mars and Mercury. The extremely close aspects between Ascendant, Jupiter, and Neptune are a further indication along with the strong twelfth house. The south node in Capricorn in the ninth house marks a lesson involving faith and reality. Capricorn, like Saturn, is often a key to fear until we learn to handle the “rules of the game” in this material world; learn what we can do, what we can’t do, and what we have to do. Once we have learned the lesson of Saturn, Capricorn, and the south node, we have an obligation to give something to the world in that part of life; in this case, to give knowledge of how to gain faith.
Adding some of the new asteroids gives us the usual repeated message. The asteroid California was natally retrograding in the ninth house at 4 Aquarius, widely trine Ascendant and Neptune. By progression, California for years stays in an exact grand trine to Ascendant-Neptune. Eric came to California from Kentucky to broaden or deepen his faith.
If the asteroids are properly named, both Phaethon and Hephaistos are associated with fire. Phaethon couldn’t handle the horses of the Sun chariot, and started fires on earth, upsetting Gaea who appealed to Zeus (Jupiter) who struck him down with a lightning bolt. Hephaistos was the blacksmith to the Gods, forging their weapons in his furnace and associated with volcanic fires. Pele is also associated with volcanoes as the name of one that erupted in Martinique with great loss of life and as a goddess of volcanoes in Hawaii. Eric has natal Hephaistos within two degrees of his Ascendant (conjunct Gaea), and it was within minutes of the Ascendant when he did his first fire walk. He has Phaethon in his first house near the second house cusp natally, and progressed on his progressed Ascendant and Saturn for the initial fire walks. His progressed East Point was opposite progressed Pele when he did the first fire walk. Since his experiences have been positive and successful, these fire asteroids can clearly be a key to success despite Phaethon’s negative outcome in the myth.
Hestia was the Greek equivalent of Vesta. Eric has Hestia exactly conjunct both natal and progressed Neptune, part of his grand air trine with California. Urania, similar to Uranus, is in 26 Libra with the nodes of the Moon holding long progressed squares to it while progressed Urania had moved to square the natal MC and progressed Pluto when he defied the conventional law that fire will burn you. Two of the asteroids might be connected to magic (mind) power; Merlin (King Arthur’s wizard) and Hekate (alternate spelling Hecate—a Moon goddess associated with the underworld and witchcraft). Eric’s natal Merlin at 20 Cancer was aspected by progressed East Point, while natal Hekate opposed natal Saturn and progressed Hekate opposed progressed Saturn, Ascendant, and Phaethon. I have found Pandora a key to insatiable curiosity. Eric had it progressing over his Descendant when he opened the box to his new talents. All the preceding aspects are exact within a one degree orb.
Of course there were aspects to all forms of Mars, our traditional God of fire. Eric’s first urge to handle fire came in Escondido where his local Ascendant is exactly quincunx his natal Mars. It is just one degree earlier in the L.A. area. Natal Phaethon is on his north node of Mars. Progressed north node of Mars had reached a semisextile to Gaea, Hephaistos, Ascendant. The natal south node of Mars at 15 Libra is quincunx Eric’s East Point, trioctile Gaea-Hephaistos. Progressed south Mars squared the true nodes of the Moon. The Arabic Part of Mars (Ascendant plus Mars minus Sun) at 3 Cancer was sextile Jupiter, square Hestia and progressed Neptune, semisextile Ascendant. The progressed Part of Mars had reached the conjunction with the north node of the Moon. Heliocentric natal Mars formed a T-square to natal Saturn and Hekate from 5 Libra 57. Progressed Heliocentric Mars at almost 24 Libra was sextile natal Ceres, semisextile progressed Sun, and trine progressed Juno, natal Phaethon. As mentioned above, all listed aspects are within a one degree orb.
Traditional progressions also pointed clearly to a major change in the life. Eric’s progressed New Moon, the beginning of a new 30 year cycle in the life, fell exactly between the date of the first fire walk and the first time he taught it. The New Moon in Virgo in the Leo house certainly fit a new profession which put him in front of people. Equally impressive is the fact that two of the slow moving planets, Saturn and Pluto, both reached the exact one degree orb for an aspect to the MC at the time of the first fire walk. Saturn formed a quincunx to the MC while Pluto opposed it. Again, we can see that these aspects can manifest in very positive ways. Progressed MC was just leaving the opposition to natal Mars but was still within the allowed one degree orb. Progressed Ascendant was just coming to natal Saturn for the Kubler-Ross fire experience, and it just reached progressed Saturn in 1984, in time for the new career teaching fire walking.
The quotidian angles which move about a degree a day, circling the whole chart in a year, also had appropriate aspects. The quotidian MC was conjunct natal Moon on the evening of the first fire walk when the security needs of the Moon and the fire courage of Aries and the faith of the twelfth house confronted each other. The local quotidian MC (at the actual site of the fire walk) was just coming to the birthplace progressed MC, opposite natal Mars-Chiron; again fear-realism-law (MC like Saturn) met fire-faith (Mars-Chiron). Much more might be said. I was fascinated to note that the local quotidian Ascendant was just coming to natal Uranus on the night of the Kubler-Ross fire ceremony. I was also impressed by the Harmonic Arc Directions which put directed Uranus conjunct directed MC within the one degree orb. The Harmonic Arc chart is one of the most focused I have ever seen with almost everything around the areas of 10-11 degrees; 19 degrees; and 26 degrees of different signs. Saturn and the north node of the Moon at 2-3 degrees set off the natal Ascendant-Jupiter-Neptune combination. It is a dramatic chart. I have not tried to use this relatively new technique in forecasting, continuing to test it by running it on the computer “after the fact,” for past important events. I have done many dozens of these tests so far, and continue to be impressed with the potential of the technique, but it is a difficult one to handle, requiring a computer. Even a calculator does not give sufficient accuracy to produce positions to the minute because our initial positions of the planets are only exact to the minute of longitude. Planetary positions calculated and stored by the computer are carried to several decimal points. The Harmonic Arc chart is calculated by multiplying each planet by the solar arc. Unlike other arc directions which add the same amount to each factor in the chart, multiplication produces a unique motion for each planet depending on its natal position. Planets early in the zodiac move very slowly. Planets near the end of the zodiac are moving with extreme speed, though if the harmonic arc chart were calculated just once a year, they would appear to move slowly backward as they make nearly a complete circuit of the zodiac each year. Planets in the middle of the zodiac seem to leap about half-way around the circle each year. If any of our readers who have our programs are working with the harmonic arcs, I would like to hear about your results. All the varied techniques of astrology work some of the time, but some techniques are more reliable. To know whether a technique is consistently useful, it must be tested on many types of charts by many astrologers. In spite of 30 years of work with astrology and its multifaceted potentials, I am still surprised when I find intelligent astrologers who “swear by” techniques which I have found totally unreliable. The methods seem to work for some people but not for others. I can only conclude, as I have written on other occasions, that we tend to attract people who fit our own natures. The techniques which work on our own charts are likely to work most of the time on the people who come into our lives.
To wind up what has grown into a rather long article, Eric Best’s horoscope provides us with a fine example of a talented person who challenged the normal fear of fire and discovered some of the power of the mind. In addition to the teaching ability, his chart shows potential healing ability. We wish him continued success in his growth.