Archive for September 20th, 2009

A dear friend of mine, who’s very supportive of my work, called me a gifted writer. That made me think of the hours of research I do before I write, the time I spend putting my thoughts down clearly and the revisions to remove those ubiquitous typos and unhappy sentence constructions. I was touched by the compliment, but honesty prompted me to tell her that the only gift I have is a deep love for astrology. And for people.

Human life is chaotic, marked by passionate grief, fleeting rapture and the never-ending grind of keeping life running smoothly. It can be dull business with very little reward unless it is marked by love. In my early thirties, my definition of love has grown beyond that of romantic love. The deep bonds I share with my family, the dynamic relationships I have with people I work with, and the quiet satisfaction I find in my interactions with people I meet everyday have all coalesced together to form my life. These links sustain my life, my spirit, my heart and I love them.

But if you asked me about the love of my life, I would tell you that it’s astrology. If you asked me why I love it, I don’t have an answer. But I do know that I will love it till the day I die. And having a love like that, one that I know will last, fills me with gratitude. I never thought about whether I would be an astrologer. Today, I know that some day I will be one. I’m on a journey of learning and it’s been such a grand journey because of the astrologers I have met on the way. They have been my teachers, my friends. But more than anything, they have been and are my heroes.

Like any other set of specialists, each of them has a unique personality and they have come to their chosen vocation following different paths. Even though all the people I will mention here are professional astrologers, I use word the “vocation” instead of  “profession” because astrology is a labor of love. It’s often marked by years of solitary study, investment of resources in software and books, and no promise of a steady income in the future. And, worse, tainted by the uninformed skepticism or scorn of others. It has its rewards, too. There is the personal satisfaction of following your bliss, doing what you were born to do. And the difference you make in the lives of others. To describe astrology as only a predictive science is to do it an injustice. It’s also a tool that can be used for understanding oneself or others and this understanding allows us to find ways in which people can lead better lives.

A few months ago, when I saw what a difficult path astrologers follow, I sent many of them emails asking personal questions that related to their pursuit of astrology. This post is a result of the answers I received. I’ve held off writing it for months because it means very much to me. And now, having started, I’m not sure of the way in which to present the information I received. I don’t want to omit anything because I’m sure other astrologers and students of astrology will be interested in reading the responses I received, so I’ve included them all (I obtained permission when I sent out the emails).

The questions I asked very were simple ones. And you will get to read the answers in a five-part post. The first one was, “How did you get into astrology?” This is what they told me:

Austin Coppock: Well, it goes a little something like this. I was in college, studying psychology and philosophy. My primary obsession within psychology was personality typing systems. I was trying to understand people, especially myself, and personality typing offered some clues as to what species of human I might be. Unfortunately, all of the systems I came across cut the human pie with rough cleavers. Not subtle or dynamic enough to be of much use.
Anyway, I was at an internship in Chicago where my job was to climb 20 ft. mountains of recycled goods for an insomniac ex-menonite with a Ph.D education in Philosophy from the University of Chicago. In some of my spare time, I played video games. Or game, as it were. Specifically, Final Fantasy Tactics. It was a fantasy style strategy game where each character’s zodiac sign was important. Based on one character’s synastry to another’s, the probability of affecting that character with an attack was modified. Good synastry meant it was easier for the characters to affect each other, bad synastry meant the opposite. Anyway, I ended up memorizing the signs and their relationships with each other because it affected tactical outcomes in the game. Nerdy? Yes. Obsessive? Yes. I blame my Saturn in Virgo.

So I memorized the Signs and their relationship to one another. Then I started noting when people were born, and automatically began applying what I learned from the game to their interactions. It worked far better than it should have. I was intrigued, and began learning more about the zodiacal diagram- elements, modes, polarity, etc. The more I learned, the more accurate it became. As I progressed further down the rabbit hole, I found exactly what I had been looking for in psychology – a dynamic system of personality typing that starts with a handful of archetypal components but offered a near limitless number of potential human types.

I started reading everyone’s chart, and soon people were buying my dinner for it. It all went smoothly until I predicted my first death.

Dawn Bodrogi: It’s Linda Goodman’s fault.  Her book on the Sun signs was published when I was a kid, and they offered it for next to nothing through our school book club (would they allow that today?).  I was about 11 or 12 when it came out in the sixties, and I was completely hooked at the first read.  It resonated with me–completely–as if I understood it better than I thought I did, as if there was something between the lines that was calling out to me, and it made me hungry for more.  I had read the Sun sign columns on the comics pages of the newspaper, like everybody, and didn’t really think anything of them.  Linda’s book changed everything. Even at age 11, I knew she was tapping into something universal and primal–and yet she wrote from experience, and her writing was so colourful and clear. I still remember some of her images vividly–the Virgo woman waiting for the bus, exact change for the fare counted out in her gloved hand–the woman who needed both bread for her table and hyacinths for her soul.  My next purchase was a ‘serious’ astrology book, a compilation, that gave step by step instructions on how to draw up a chart by hand, with an ephemeris and a table of houses (included in the book).  I drew up my first chart at age 12 and never looked back. Sun Signs is long gone, but I still have that other book somewhere.  Astrology owes a lot to the mass market paperback movement of the sixties.  There were books by the serious astrologers of the day, people like Sybil Leek, available for 50 cents.  Anybody could get their hands on them. 

Kingsley: I got into Astrology as a young boy after reading Richard Sterling’s horoscopes in my mothers Woman’s Weekly magazines. In my early twenties I would wait in anticipation for the Daily News paper to arrive at my work so that I could match my daily experiences with some very good star sign reports. I bought a book on moon signs and that was that.

Anthony Picco: I was suckered into it… Seriously, I thought astrology was all nonsense, but began to notice many of the people I got along with had birthdays around the same time of the year, so I got a notebook and started jotting down everyone’s birthdays to look for patterns. I didn’t see strong ones, but decided to have a professional astrologer read my chart. By the end of the reading I was stunned into paranoia. How did she do that? I had to find out. Within less than two years I was a self-taught practicing astrologer. I came to me so quickly that someone once said it was more like I was “remembering” astrology than learning it.

Julie Demboski: I’ve always been interested in ways of understanding the human psyche, and I see astrology as one of those ways–I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t intrigued by it, especially the psychological facets of it.

JNealJeremy Neal: My grandfather was the reason. He was a rather enigmatic character, a Capricorn with a Pisces Moon and a member of Dion Fortune’s Society of Inner Light. He had an enormous library of occult and astrological works which he left to me in his will. I picked up a copy of Ebertin once at his house, I was maybe 11 or 12 and I was just fascinated by it. He told me that it was an important and interesting book and I think that was the point that he decided I would be a good recipient for his book collection after he died. He talked to me (rather mysteriously, I think) about astrology after that, on and off, when I visited him. He died when I was about 14 and both he and my grandmother passed away within days of each other and I’ve always wished I could have asked him more about astrology. I had some of his personal papers too, he would draw up charts and make notes and write short essays about his understandings, they were very profound. I have copies of books too, like The Mystical Qabbalah, Cosmic Doctrine and so forth with his handwritten notes in every margin. That’s where I learned about Alan Leo, and I’d read most of his works by the age of 16 : I’ve continued to try and glean the sense of astrology from a vast array of sources ever since but it all began in grandfather’s house all those years ago.

FrederickFrederick Woodruff: My mom and grandmother were avid Dell Horoscope magazine readers. Also, all those tiny little “pocket” sun sign books were always scattered around the house. I collected those like baseball cards. This was the day when Horoscope and American Astrology magazine were pretty formidable, drawing topnotch astrological writers and thinkers, not the crude sort of watered down material that appears in between 1-900 psychic sludge today. But the short answer is: I fell in love. The way a mystic reacts to nature, I suppose you could say I became enamored with the notion that the cosmos were a living being that we were in relationship with, and vice versa. It’s been a forty-year love affair.

Kingsley: I got into Astrology as a young boy after reading Richard Sterling’s horoscopes in my mothers Woman’s Weekly magazines. In my early twenties I would wait in anticipation for the Daily News paper to arrive at my work so that I could match my daily experiences with some very good star sign reports. I bought a book on moon signs and that was that.

MCurrieMatthew Currie: My Dad was a chronic skeptic about everything. My Mom used to sneak out and read tea leaves behind his back. I think when you combine the two, you get an astrologer. I remember my Mom tossed me a copy of “The Compleat Astrologer” (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) when I was about six and said, “There’s too much math here for me.” I took to it like a fish to water.

MichaelMichael O’Reilly: Very slowly. I worked a variety of jobs until I could support myself as a professional astrologer. My degrees in Math and Psychology laid the foundation.



FernFern Feto Spring: A friend told me I should get my chart done by her astrologer when I was in college and after that experience I started studying it on my own and with others.

RaphaelRaphael Simons: I first got into astrology as part of a developing interest in Kabbalah and Hermetic science. Then, some time later, when I was doing tarot readings, another reader told me that if I ever wanted to learn astrology completely and well I should try to study with Ivy Jacobson. I went to Ivy and she accepted me as her student. I was with her for 7 years. I also went to a Chinese astrologer, Terry Lee, to learn Batzu. I find Batzu very interesting and I love to work with it as much as I do western astrology.



LucyLucy Goldstein: I started seriously studying astrology when I was 14. I’d always been into magic and the occult and all kinds of other ooga-booga, but I didn’t really know much about astrology beyond a Sydney Omarr book about Pisces, which I didn’t read very carefully. At age 14, a friend lent me Joanna Martine Woolfolk’s “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need” and I decided I was going to sit down and study it and learn astrology the correct way. As I completed my own natal chart, I was blown away by how right on everything was. (When you’re 14, it’s kind of rare to really feel “understood.”) I was totally hooked – I continued making practice charts for people I knew and I convinced my mom to get me a subscription to The Mountain Astrologer. Ten and a half years later, I’m still just as hooked.

BethBeth Turnage: I’d been reading Tarot since I was twelve and I wanted to improve my skills with the cards. I decided to get a good overview of astrology to deepen my understanding of the underlying symbols in the tarot deck. It was like eating a potato chip. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. And I couldn’t rest at night until I cracked open an astrology book.
Then a family friend, who does channeled readings, did one for me. She said “Oh, this is interesting. There is this woman here dressed all in black, from head to toe. I can’t see her face. She’s really quite stern. And she is telling me that you are here to learn astrology, or else!” She then went on to tell me that I would write about astrology, which seemed farfetched at the time. 
RodneyRodney Smith: Astrology tracked me down and beat me over the head until I finally called my brother and said “I’m sick of the incessant astrological questions from everyone I know, how does astrology work and how do I erect a chart?” The rest, they say, is history.

Addendum: No I wasn’t into it, that was the problem. I had always been an adviser to the people in any social environment I find myself in, folks seek me out and ask me to sort their lives out for them, and this I have always been happy to do.
In the 12 months leading up to the inquiry of my brother, I had been asked repeatedly what this sign meant and what that aspect meant, of course, I didn’t have a clue. Then every new person I met was heavily into astrology.. again, can’t have that conversation if I don’t know what it means, and people will only hear “Astrology is a crutch for the feeble minded” for so long before they refuse to talk with you… and these people were far from feeble-minded, which is why I knew them at all… which led me to make a call to my brother who, while insane by his own admission, was extremely intelligent, and also deeply into astrology. If I could trust anybody’s take on it, I could trust his.

EvelynEvelyn Roberts: A passion all my life, then went to London in the 90s and studied with Liz Greene and the FAS, and my kids left home so I could concentrate on astrology.





GavinGavin Carruthers: When I was 17, I ran into an old school-friend at a concert and afterwards he showed me my chart and some very “old-school” books (Alan Leo and Sephariel as far as I can recall), which had references to diseases and problems associated with the planets. I didn’t like what the books had to say at all but I was intrigued by the mandala of the chart, and soon began my own studies, initially reading Alan Oken and Noel Tyl, until I came across Stephen Arroyo and Liz Greene, which is when things really took off for me. After I realized it would be great to make a living as an astrologer I made an agreement with myself to read only astrology books (an agreement that I kept for several years). I did cheap handwritten “readings” for many friends to start with, and then joined a group of other astrologers who helped me understand the responsibilities of using this great tool. On reflection, I took to astrology like I already knew it and was destined to use it, though it took a few years before I was to really understand that. Since then several psychics have told me that I have been an astrologer in past lives, and came here to continue that work.

AprilApril Elliott Kent: Like many, many astrologers my introduction to astrology came through reading “Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs,” in my case at the tender age of 12. I determined then that I’d someday be an astrologer, though I had no idea what that meant. Fast-forward 15 years: I’m working as a secretary at a big water company, and one day a fellow employee mentioned having been to see his astrologer. At this point I’d been in love with astrology for 15 years and had never met an astrologer… so I got her phone number, had a reading, and began studying with her. All just in time for my Saturn return.

JeffJeffrey Kishner: I was in graduate school at California Institute of Integral Studies to train to become a psychotherapist. A friend of mine convinced me to take a course called Cosmos and Psyche taught by Rick Tarnas and transpersonal psychiatrist Stan Grof. After a few years of study, I was hooked.

BasilBasil Fearrington: My oldest brother was into it and introduced me to it when I was 13 by having me read about Leo (my Sun Sign). Everything clicked and I decided to go further with it.




Eileen Nauman (© Eileen Nauman 2009) : My mother, Ruth Gent was an astrologer. She had a wonderful library of astrology books. I grew up with them and with her knowledge being passed on to me. Max Heindale wrote a book called Medical Astrology and it was the one that fascinated me the most. In 1970, I turned professional. I devoted my life to medical astrology because so few astrologers know much about this branch of our science. In 1980, The American Book of Nutrition and Medical Astrology was published. Later, I bought back the rights and began to publish myself as Medical Astrology (Blue Turtle Publishing, Cottonwood, Arizona) and it is now in its third edition and has been sold around the world–and continues to sell to this day.

NickNick Dagan Best: There is a story behind that. I read a few hundred books in my first two years of study (1995-1997), then started going down to NYC to take classes with various teachers. I was already reading the ephemeris voraciously at this point, which I had started doing pretty early into my study.

I had decided about two months after reading my first book that I wanted to be a pro astrologer, but was prepared to study a full ten years before I did so.

But it soon became clear that I had already done more work than a lot of people who were already pro. Several of my teachers encouraged and even urged me to go pro. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or conceited (not that I’m not), but people were already treating me like a bit of a wunderkind.

I went pro in late 2001, two months shy of the seventh anniversary of my reading my first astrology book. Was it too soon? I don’t think so, I was as prepared as I could be by then.

What I should explain to you, is that in my own way I was studying my whole life. From an early age, I had a natural fascination with chronology and a knack for memorizing dates. Always a cultural and political history buff, I’m just one of those people who knows the date of many important and not-so-important dates in history.

So when I picked up the ephemeris, I already had a lifetime of knowledge and context that I could use to read it. When I look at the ephemeris, I don’t see signs and numbers, I see the history of human existence. All of it in one book. I call the ephemeris “the combined biography of billions of souls”.

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned, it has been a lifetime study in its own way. I didn’t know all those years that I was subconsciously preparing to discover astrology. Things have a way of working out, huh?

To be continued…

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Venus moves into Virgo on Monday, 21-September-2009. What can we expect when the planet of love moves into the sign of the Virgin? This sign’s association with the symbol of a virgin shouldn’t be taken literally. Virgo is, after all, an earth sign that is well grounded in all that’s real and material. And while the Virgo sensuality is subtle, it’s there all right.

Venus is full of grand and dramatic gestures in Leo and enchantingly beautiful and romantic in Libra. But how does she fare in Virgo, the sign of her fall? We say a planet is in its fall because it is unable to express itself fully in that particular sign. Since its expression is restricted, it becomes weak. Recently a reader asked me what can be done about a weak Venus. The first step would be to understand how the energy is operating and, having done that, we can come up with ideas on how we are going to deal with what we find.

In this Mercury-ruled sign, Venus is both clear-eyed and clear headed. If your partner has their Venus here, at first, you were probably attracted to their low-key and every-hair-in-place appearance. Once you got to know them better, you realized that a theme of purity ran in many areas of their life. Along with their neat appearance, they also had an interest in keeping both the mind and the body healthy.

When it comes to love and relationships, people with this placement identity with Belinda Carlisle’s song “Heaven is a place on Earth.” Or rather with the part where she sings, “We’ll make heaven a place on earth.” They attempt to do this by bringing the Virgo traits of service and devotion to their romantic relationships. They try to enhance the quality of their loved one’s life by being helpful and by gently steering their activities in a healthy direction.

Virgo Venuses shows their love by being helpful. This often takes the form of offering suggestions and giving advice. But they should remember not to overdo it, lest it be seen as nagging by the recipient. If you are the recipient, try and see their “nagging” for what it really is: their way of showing love.

There is a dark side to this Venus’ need to be of helpjulia-roberts-10: they can find themselves becoming attached to people who need to be rescued in some way. This allows them to play their favorite role, that of a savior. But they need to be careful or the savior becomes the victim in the long run. They would do well to be apply Virgo’s famous sense discernment when it comes to romantic alliances.

Virgo is a modest sign and when Venus is here, she doubts her attractiveness. This is what the lovely actress Julia Roberts (Venus in Virgo) says about herself, “I’m an utterly average, total geek,” and, “On my best day, I am a seven-point-seven. I could be a hard eight if I felt great.” Her Venus is conjunct both Uranus and Pluto and this powerful stellium has made her an international star famed for both her beauty and her acting skills. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t associate great beauty with a Virgo Venus, that’s Libra’s domain, but Ms. Roberts’ example reminds us that the way in which a planet manifests in a person’s life is also dependant on its house placement and the aspects it makes to the other planets in the natal chart.

Let’s see how Venus fares as she tries to walk carefully and sensibly through Virgo for the next three weeks. She enters Virgo (21-September) on a powerful note as she forms an exact trine to Pluto in Capricorn. The keynote of this aspect is emotional intensity. Don’t waste this energy; use it to explore the deeper workings of your romantic relationships. You might make an important psychological breakthrough at this time that could prove helpful in taking your relationship to a newer level.

Another interesting day is 10-October when Venus opposes Uranus in Pisces. This opposition makes people chafe against restrictions and eager for excitement. Alternatively, this energy can manifest as a disruption in your love life or your finances. Start the day with a deep breath and try and be patient if someone close to you suddenly wants to make changes.

People with planets in the last ten degrees of the mutable signs have been under a lot of stress lately due to Uranus’s opposition to Saturn; but almost no one has been immune. This aspect is waning now and won’t recur till April 2010. In the meantime, we can use this respite to pick up the pieces and put things right again. You’ll get an opportunity for doing some serious work on your relationship or your finances on 14-October when Venus conjuncts Saturn.  This could prove to be a somber day that requires you to put duty before self-gratification. Do what needs to be done because, although Saturn is demanding, he always rewards those who stay true to their duties and responsibilities.

For Virgos reading this: transiting Venus is headed for a conjunction with your natal sun. Look at an ephemeris to see the date on which it happens and mark that day in your calendar. On that day, you’ll feel good, look swell and everyone will notice. Enjoy! On 15-October Venus moves into Libra, one of the signs it rules. More on this later!

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