by Joyce and Barry Vissell
A few weeks ago, Joyce and I got to experience the total eclipse high in the mountains of Idaho, in the exact center of the “zone of totality.” It was, for us, the experience of a lifetime. In our seventy-one years of living, there have been other major eclipses, but we have never been in their direct paths. And not since the year 1257 has there been a total eclipse that has passed across the whole of what is now the United States.
Would we have traveled a thousand miles just to see an eclipse? Probably not. So we bundled the eclipse with a favorite river trip, the Main Salmon River in Idaho, a magnificent 80-mile journey through one of the largest wilderness area in America. We were able to find a permit to start on the river trip three days after the eclipse, loaded up our camper with river gear, and began our adventure north from our home near Santa Cruz, CA, which, by the way, completely missed seeing anything of the eclipse due to heavy fog.
Joyce and I would have preferred to only experience the high moments of both the eclipse and the river trip. Part of life, however, is dealing with setbacks and challenges. And the real test of life is how we react to these difficult experiences. We do have a choice. We can get bummed out, angry and depressed; or choose the path of happiness, and accept what life offers us, even be grateful for the challenges.
So, heading up into the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho on Sunday, August 20, the day before the eclipse, we started to hear an engine noise that didn’t sound right. I looked under the hood, and it didn’t look good. There was a scraping sound coming from one of the pulleys, and the increased friction was burning the belt, spraying black rubber debris. We had two choices. Turn back toward Boise and civilization, and miss the full experience of the eclipse; or try to make it to our destination of the tiny mountain village of Stanley with a population of 63, and hope to find a repair shop. We took the risk to push on to a location about fifteen minutes south of Stanley that night to be in perfect position for the eclipse the following morning. That night, it was difficult to sleep because the ominous noise had gotten even louder.
In the morning, we hiked up a vast, open meadow along a small creek and found a cozy patch of grass to sit and wait. We were totally alone, away from the crowds gathered on the sides of the road, and the vendors selling eclipse T-shirts and other paraphernalia. Despite our concern about the truck, we were excited. We wanted to not only experience the eclipse, but also to use this very rare event, this perfect lining up of sun, moon and earth, to rededicate ourselves to our purpose here on this planet … to give and receive love, and remember the great source of that love.
It was late morning, and the sun was already heating up the land. Even at 6250 feet elevation, it was still warm, in the seventies.
Joyce asked, “How dark is it supposed to get?”
I didn’t have the right information, so I guessed, “I think the light of the sun will be completely blocked. We may not be able to even see each other.” I read somewhere that stars may even be visible. I turned out to be wrong.
We closed our eyes for a meditation. I alternated between peaceful quiet and anxious thoughts about what could be wrong with the truck, and getting it fixed in time for our river trip. There always seems to be something to worry about, something to compete with a peaceful meditation. Finally, we held hands and spoke prayers of gratitude and rededication, and a prayer for our truck. Nothing is too small for prayer.
I looked at my watch. We still had about twenty minutes of waiting. Curious, I took out my filter and looked at the sun. I gasped. It looked like something had taken a bite out of it. About a quarter of the sun was gone. I had no idea it had started. Every few minutes I checked. The sun was gradually being covered by the moon, and yet there was no change in the lighting.
Finally, things started to change. An eerie dimness, with amazingly sharp shadows. Some colors of sunset started forming in the sky and on the mountains. The birds stopped singing. Our two golden retrievers came close to us and sat there, seeming a bit confused, like the birds perhaps were. Then the sunset disappeared into dusk. I checked the sun. All that remained was a near perfect ring, or corona, of light. Joyce and I could still see each other in the dim light. And we couldn’t see any stars. The moon was precisely in the center of the sun, but could not block all the light.
Perhaps it’s the same with us. We think our light can be completely blocked out by dark thoughts, but the presence of the light can never be completely hidden. The light is so much more powerful than the dark, and can never be totally eclipsed.
We would have loved to just sit there entranced by this other-worldly phenomenon, but suddenly the temperature plummeted. We scrambled to put on more clothes to get warm. Yet again, another seeming distraction to take us out of our reverie. Or perhaps this is the natural pull of the earth to help us keep our feet on the ground, not unlike thoughts of our truck repair that also bring us back to earth.
Then, after a few minutes, a sunrise that lasted seconds, then a brightening light and warmth, birds singing, dogs relaxing, and two people taking off their extra clothes. If we can just be similarly patient with our minds, all eclipses will be short-lived, and the light will always return.
After the eclipse, we drove into Stanley, where we found out there were a total of two auto mechanics and one was away fishing. The other mechanic, with the appropriate Idaho name of “Spud” printed on his shirt, quickly confirmed that our vacuum pump was failing, and we should not drive our old truck more than just locally. Our river trip put-in was August 24, three days away and four hours’ drive north. If we didn’t start our river trip on that day, we would forfeit our permit. Dear Spud got on the phone, found a new pump in Denver and ordered it. He said it “should” arrive in two days. We could only pray it would. And pray we did.
The truck part came in on time. We made it to our river put-in, and had a mostly wonderful river adventure. The not-so-wonderful parts of the trip were just some more eclipses, temporarily blocking the good … and bringing us back down to earth, where our feet could be firmly planted like the roots of a healthy tree.
Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:
Oct 11-17 — Assisi Retreat, Italy
Feb 4-11, 2018 — Hawaii Couples Retreat on the Big Island
Jul 22-27, 2018 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR
About the authors:
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.
Call 831-684-2299 or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.
by Heather Roan Robbins
Let an emotional high tide flow through as the weekend begins under a full moon lunar eclipse at 24 degrees of Pisces. It is followed by a flare of energy or determination and brings a potentially creative, decisive, though not necessarily wise, beginning of the week.
Eclipses can act like astrological acupuncture and unblock stuck energy, this one sensitizes us and helps us truly feel what we feel. And maybe feel what everyone else feels as well, as our psychic boundaries can feel unusually permeable. With the Sun and Mercury radiating Virgo work ethics we may feel the pressure to stay efficiently busy, but the rest of the aspects ask us to stay in our hearts. Honestly, everything will move faster if we slow down and pace ourselves.
The week arcs through sensitive perception, followed by action and a restless heart, and this can play out in many ways. Be gentle with sensitive feelings now, or later, under this weekend’s energy surge triggered as Mars trines Uranus and Eris under a fiery Aries Moon, tempers will flare. Revolutions will foment. Emergencies and tremors shake us up. Payback can be quick and difficult, and relationships could hit rough waters in response, so let’s not go there.
On the other hand, if we daydream and visualize under this sensitive Pisces eclipse, we can then boldly explore new possibilities or start building our vision and turn this weekend’s surge onto positive action. Get it done it, fix it, find it, build it, and then find tune the creative process early next week as Venus opposes Uranus under a cuddly Taurus Moon. And then correct, adjust or refine it once more when Mercury turns direct at the end of the week.
Now all this activity, and the care needed prevent a sensitive, squishy spell from mutating into a fight when the tide turns, can be unusually tricky with Mercury retrograde through Wednesday. Mercury is retrograde in its own sign of Virgo, which intensifies the retrograde pattern and can bring in more delays, minor mishaps, miscues, and missed connections, as well as make us unusually hard on ourselves when we feel we’ve messed up. But it may also help keep numerous retrograde follies to a more manageable size or bring in the brains we need to wing it spontaneously when plans fail. It helps to laugh.
On Wednesday, Mercury stations and turns direct and asks us to take a deep breath before we begin to unwind, straighten out, and fly right. The fall equinox on Thursday can bring a new sense of balance. Fall begins, and the road unwinds before us.
Friday, September 16: We may need to sleep in this morning, our dreams follow us into the day. The mood is sensitive and quickly, all our nerve endings can feel raw and aware, and life so full of little glitches. Help one another feel safe, heard; laugh together. Talk it all over, process and analyze feelings, but don’t take action on them until the dust settles next week. The eclipse early afternoon may reveal a truth or just leave us puddled. We get excited or reactive as the Moon enters Aries and Mars trines Uranus tonight.
Moon opposite Mercury 1:45 AM, Moon square Mars 11:16 AM, full Moon lunar eclipse 1:05 PM, Mars trine Eris 4:12 PM, Moon enters Aries 10:22 PM.
Saturday, September 17: We have the energy for a real adventure today. A chance to try something new, explore, meet new people, or build. Better we channel a restless feistiness into a good form or it can fuel irritable sparks. Our impulse control can be low, mistakes are easily made, so don’t blow up the wrong car. Building something can be satisfying, but let’s move slowly, measure three times, and prioritize safety.
Mars trine Uranus 1:04 AM, Moon opposed Jupiter 1:06 AM, Moon trine Saturn 3:54 PM, Moon square Pluto 10:38 PM.
Sunday, September 18: We may crave a change of scenery as Venus opposes Uranus. It’s a wonderful day to talk to strangers and buy art, but keep an eye on that aesthetic restlessness, because our judgement may not be as strong as our curiosity. Keep receipts and consider not coloring hair or choosing paint color for the house. As Venus sextiles Mars over the next two days, keep eyes open for new connections and opportunities for camaraderie.
Venus opposed Uranus 2:05 AM, Moon conjunct Uranus 12:31 PM, Moon opposed Venus 1:29 PM, Moon trine Mars 2:10 PM, Moon enter Taurus 6:50 PM.
Monday, September 19: Repair problems and discuss possibilities; plant seeds on fertile ground as the Moon forms a grand trine with Pluto and Mercury in Earth signs, while Venus in Libra trines Mars in Sagittarius. Go deep, get real, and stay on target with long-term plans instead of getting caught up in short-term reaction. Just know that plans make now will need to be revisited in the weeks ahead. Enjoy a juicy flirtatious energy, find new sparks in old friendships.
Venus sextile Mars 5:52 AM, Moon sextile Neptune 3:25 PM, Moon trine Pluto 11:10 PM, Moon trine Mercury 11:31 PM.
Tuesday, September 20: Do the research today as Mercury trines Pluto. Get the ducks in a row, details in line, find the information needed. The conversation deepens because we notice the leaves turning and our hearts longing.
Moon sextile Chiron 11:49 AM, Mercury trine Pluto 7:25 PM, Sun trine the Moon 9:32 PM, Moon enters Gemini 11:52 PM.
Wednesday, September 21: Like a dog settling into a nest, everything spins and stays in the same place. Patients furthers. Allow a lot of extra time, confirm all reservations and check for glitches as Mercury stations under a Mercury-ruled Gemini Moon. Confusion deepens this afternoon as the Moon squares Neptune and opposes Saturn; drift away, but drift in a safe place. Deal with last-minute changes in plans; they may be an improvement. Exercise one’s best judgment all day long.
Moon trine Jupiter 4:07 AM, Moon square Neptune 4:42 PM, Moon opposed Saturn 6:13 PM, Mercury stations and turns direct 11:30 PM.
Thursday, September 22: Doors begin to open and pressure equalizes though our nerves are still a bit frayed and impatient. Fall begins as the Sun enters Libra at 8:21 AM MDT. Mercury is still slow, so let’s take our time as we fix the glitches and mistakes, catch up, and straighten out interpersonal misunderstandings. Wait a few days to launch proposals.
Moon square Mercury 12:37 AM, the Sun enters Libra 8:21 AM, Moon sextile Uranus 3:11 PM, Moon opposed Mars 9:53 PM.
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by Heather Roan Robbins
The stars ask us to savor late summer’s ephemeral beauty and get ready for the year ahead. Mercury turns retrograde on Tuesday and nudges us to review our last year, renew old friendships and connections. A Virgo New Moon lunar eclipse on Thursday asks us to let go of ideas and practices that are no longer working for us, and start a new cycle. We can plant seeds now, but won’t really launch this fall’s enterprises until Mercury turns direct on the equinox, September 22. The beginning of September will be our chance to review, refresh, and pick up work we let go earlier.
As the weekend begins we can see a beautiful conjunction between Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter in the early evening western sky. This lineup can expand (Jupiter) our thoughts (Mercury) with creativity and care (Venus). They are all lined up in earthy Virgo, which suggests that love can be best expressed through understanding what needs to be repaired, fixed, appreciated, and healed. This conjunction turns up the volume on our emotions, it is a great weekend to get married, gather with beloveds. Invest in art. Engage in compassionate action. Brainstorm how to heal the world.
This Venusian line-up can make the best even better, but can also exacerbate the longing in our hearts. It can amp up our emotional expectations, bring up frustration and anger where we don’t feel weak can fully express our creative process or our heart’s content. We can get restless and twitchy in relationships where we feel taken for granted or feel criticized. Because we are feeling so tender, critique can grate against our extra sensitive nerves.
As the weekend begins, active Mars squares intuitive Neptune, an aspect also which also has interestingly complex symbology. It offers us a chance to dissolve an old anger or outmoded ambition, and may bring complex situations which require both strength and sensitivity. We may have the urge to escape, feel sleepy, or need to be discreet about our actions as Mars squares Neptune. Other people’s indecision can really anger us, but it may be their truth. Any attempt to deceive can really cause a problem.
But it also brings up anger and the need for action (Mars) around water (Neptune) issues. We can get mad and/or take action around the potential for pollution of water (underlining the Native American fight for clean water in the Dakota oil fields), problems around floods, too much or too little water.
The Moon in verbal Gemini on Friday keeps the conversation going, the Cancer Moon on Saturday through Monday can our tendency to protect our heart, but it will be good to be around family or to return to places we have loved before.
Venus enters its own sociable sign of Libra on Monday and can help us finish summer’s emotional business. Mercury turns retrograde on Tuesday (appears to back up in the sky) and begins three weeks of review, reconnection as well as adds a few logistical complications. On Thursday a Virgo New Moon-lunar eclipse signals a turning point, a new work cycle but one that will have trouble taking off unless we are centered and patient. If (and when) arguments occur, let’s stop hypothesizing, no matter how right we think we are, and find solid facts.
Friday, August 26: Morning may be nervy as we juggle ideas and information; plans and mindsets changing minute by minute. Let’s stay light on our toes and flexible to make them good changes. Afternoon is generally warmhearted, but if we feel spread too thin we can get socially brittle, and that interrupts communication. Evening calls us back in, we may feel sociable early on but then need to curl back into the familiar and nest as the Moon enters domestic Cancer.
Mars square Neptune 12:56 AM, Moon sextile Uranus 11:02 AM, Moon square Venus 2:11 PM, Moon square Jupiter 4:09 PM, Moon square Mercury 6:30 PM, Moon enters Cancer9:06 PM.
Saturday, August 27: Relax, this day could be full of sweetness and love- if we don’t take it too seriously- as Venus conjuncts Jupiter in Virgo. Look for opportunities, find a way to share affection. Engage the arts with the whole soul, music, craft, creation. Don’t push people out of their comfort zones because they’re not interested today. Do take responsibility for one’s own happiness; the only danger is a tendency to start holding other people responsible for our happiness and resenting the lack thereof. Find the beauty nearby.
Moon sextile Sun 5:07 AM, Moon trine Neptune 3:58 PM, Venus conjunct Jupiter 4:28 PM, Moon opposed Pluto 11:38 PM.
Sunday, August 28: We may need time alone or with our closest people this morning, if we feel overextended we will not be interested in engaging strangers. Unless we can help. It can feel wonderful to reach out and help someone who really needs it today, which will bring a very different than being drained by people that can stand on their own two feet. Evening brings a softening; friendliness and poetry if we just look for it.
Moon square Uranus 3:41 PM, Moon sextile Jupiter 9:54 PM.
Monday, August 29: Reach out and connect; say goodbye to summer friends, remember people in your neighborhood, warm-up contacts needed for the fall, explore new neighborhood all as the Moon enters extroverted Leo this morning and Venus enters warmhearted and sociable Libra this afternoon. The aspects this week help us make easy transitions from one social sphere or sphere of interests to another. It will also bring our attention to issues of social justice and encourage a need for fairness on all sides.
Moon sextile Venus 12:22 AM, Moon sextile Mercury 12:23 AM, Mercury conjunct Venus12:32 AM, Moon enters Leo 2:11 AM, Venus enters Libra 8:06 PM, Moon trine Saturn 8:20 PM.
Tuesday, August 30: This day can spin in circles for better or worse, Mercury turns retrograde and steps on the brakes as the as the Leo Moon trines both Mars and Uranus, and steps on the gas. Have patience, take advantages of opportunity but don’t push where there is resistance. Don’t try to push through that resistance, instead, notice where there are openings, or take a moment to hold still. Think of the Korean expression for a meditation retreat which reads literally “to leap like a tiger while sitting”. We can plant seeds now that will grow in the months to come, though we may not see results until at least October.
Moon trine Mars 1:50 AM, Mercury retrograde 7:03 AM, Moon trine Uranus 10:19 PM.
Wednesday, August 31: We can get nervous and critically grumpy about delays that arrive just as so much needs to be done; we become unusually aware of our to-do lists as the Moon enters the dark of the Moon in Virgo. If our nervous system refuses to work and just needs to hold still, do so; it will help us be more efficient in the long run. We can relax, do what we can, and let ourselves digest and absorb our life. Don’t believe an inner critical litany, do look for and celebrate what is working.
Moon enters Virgo 9:22 AM.
Thursday, September 1: We can all feel so serious on this new Moon eclipse in Virgo, exact at 3:03 AM MDT, and opposed confusing Neptune. We can make excuses of why we may feel not up to the day, with energy low, feeling insecure or with a tendency to generalize anything negative. Or we can make this a day to hit a reset button and recommit to our health and the health of the world around us, one gentle step at a time.
Moon conjunct Sun 3:03 AM, Moon square Saturn 4:24 AM, Moon opposed Neptune 5:32 AM, Moon square Mars 12:38 PM, Sun square Saturn 9: 21 PM.
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by Heather Roan Robbins
Welcome to the astrological new year’s eve; energy builds as the spring equinox approaches. But today let us review where we stand, notice what we’ve learned and accomplished, and sketch out what we need to empower in the year ahead. Align so that spring’s rocket fuel sends us in a good direction.
The Moon starts the party when it enters enthusiastic fire-sign Leo early this Fridaymorning, even though the Pisces energy lingers with the Sun (for one more day) Venus, and Neptune in intuitive, foggy Pisces. Mars forms an irritating sesqui-quadrate with Uranus and sets off minor squabbles and shots across the bow. The weekend brings an enthusiastic restlessness and encourages us to plant seeds of fertile new beginnings. Though seeds of future discontent can also take root.
Energizing Sun enters brash fire-sign Aries at 10:30 PM MDT on Saturday and marks the first moment of spring. Thoughtful Mercury follows on Monday. They join Mars, already in enthusiastic, proactive fire-sign Sagittarius and light a blaze under us, under our hearts, and encourage us to step out of any lingering low-energy Piscean doldrums. They also lower impulse control and light a fire under every already-simmering pot on in the political landscape.
Aries imbues us with same bravery that a crocus has as it pushes past cold ground and reaches for the Sun, brave life starting over in the spring of this uncertain world. Aries loans us courage, directness, and the tendency to act without thinking through consequences. We have to add that ourselves.
This fire under our heart is both softened and made more dangerous (as in -not the least bit realistic) by a magical, romantic, idealistic Venus-Neptune conjunction in Pisces. Keep eyes open for new connections of all kinds, for romance, spiritual brethren, and creative collaborators, but stay in the present with one another.
This momentum runs smack into some tough, confrontational aspects right away. Already inflamed political differences can really square off as expansive, liberal Jupiter squares contractive, conservative Saturn. On Wednesday the direct Aries Sun opposes the Libra Full Moon in a lunar eclipse and spotlights any tension between our needs to express ourselves and the compromises necessary to create a healthy relationship.
This eclipse can help us shake off co-dependent patterns. With Venus and Neptune conjunct—we want to love, love our partner, best friends, and cohorts. But if we feel we have to choose between our needs, and those of our relationship—we’ll tend to choose our own. We need to know what we need and want so we can negotiate in a clean and clear way, explore a healthy way forward that benefits all. If we feel we have to capitulate to keep the peace, we’ll rebel asap. This goes for politics and family dynamics as well as our love life.
On the other hand—if we are so fiercely independent that we isolate ourselves, this too will be tapped and questioned. Our needs and wants, or theirs? That dichotomy is an illusion. What would that third perspective look like? This eclipse wants to know.
We process that unfolding story over the rest of the week as talkative Mercury trines Mars.
Friday, March 18: On this last day in the astrological year, with the Sun is the last degree of Pisces, Mercury in Pisces, and Venus approaching a conjunction with Neptune, the Leo Moon call us to engage but the lingering Pisces energy can leave us tired and easily overwhelmed even though we can feel a growing excitement. The morning calls us to review and remember. After an easily-angered, abrupt, impatience mid-afternoon as Mars challenges Uranus, the mood mellows into a sociable evening.
Moon enters Leo 1:54 AM, Moon trine Mars 9 to 45 AM, Mars sesqui-quadrate Uranus1:42 PM.
Saturday, March 19: On this octane-charged day let the changes begin, the Leo Moon, Uranus, and Saturn forms a grand trine in instigating fire signs during the day, and Sun enters Aries at 10:30 PM. The doorway open, so reach out and connect, present, investigate, and flirt. Life can feel both like a performance art—and vitally real. Morning is rich and interesting, afternoon has a lazy spell, the evening rocks. Feel magic in the air as Venus conjunct Neptune overnight, but stay aware of surroundings and potential consequences.
Moon trine Saturn 9:07 AM, Moon trine Uranus 2:42 PM, then VOC. sun enters Aries10:30 PM.
Sunday, March 20: Morning stays magical, though we may feel a bit fried or hung over no matter what we did last night as the Moon enters Virgo midday. Garden those new possibilities with practical action. Evening grows edgy as the Moon squares Mars, family members and political opponents grumble, but it may just be frayed nerves or feeling over-extended or underutilized. Rest and practice patience.
Moon enters Virgo 11:39 AM, Venus conjunct Neptune 11:44 AM, Moon square Mars 9:13 PM.
Monday, March 21: We see the problems in earlier enthusiasm on this fuzzy-thinking morning, but shouldn’t get discouraged, just refine our work instead. Share a sweet moment, offer encouraging words midday as the Moon conjunct Venus. Our repartee gets snappier in the worst and best of ways, conclusions may be jumped to or rash decisions made as Mercury enters Aries around dinnertime.
Moon oppose Neptune 7:59 AM, Moon conjunct Venus 10:13 AM, Mercury enters Aries6:19 PM, Moon squares Saturn 8:06 PM, Moon conjunct Jupiter 8:26 PM, Moon trine Pluto 9:54 PM than VOC.
Tuesday, March 22: We can spin our wheels, the mood is oddly wandering and peripatetic as the Moon makes no major aspects. A good day to discuss options and grow our understanding, a tough day to build momentum. Relationship issues itch and need gentle attention; jump to no conclusions.
Moon VOC all day until it enters Libra 11:23 PM
Wednesday, March 23: Speak with direct honesty and compassion on this potentially eventful day; the lunar eclipse at 6:00 AM highlights interpersonal tension and conflicting needs. Notice tension between the right to free speech verses diplomatic fairness, the loud and angry needs of individuals vs. the collective. The Libra full Moon reminds us that if we have no justice, we get no peace; if we know justice, we can know peace.
Jupiter squares Saturn 4:15 AM, Moon opposed mercury 5:11 AM, Moon opposed Sun-lunar eclipse 6:00 AM, Moon sextile Mars 10:32 AM, Sun conjunct Mercury 2:10 PM,
Thursday, March 24: Yesterday’s story develops. Stay honest and keep the heart open even under duress. Find facts this morning, stay solution-oriented as some people show their difficult edges midday. Be prepared to make decisions this afternoon, but make them for the long haul rather than a short urgency.
Moon sextile Saturn 8:33 AM, Moon square Pluto 10:25 AM, Moon opposed Uranus 2:54 pm, Mercury trine Mars 4:44 PM.
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