Last Spring, I had the fun of Victor Olliver’s company as a Guest blogger whilst we slogged it out – in a civilised manner, of course! – over the merits and demerits of Sun Sign astrology. This January, I am delighted that he has returned to help kick start my blog for 2016.
A recent article in Harper’s Bazaar, in which four women talk about why they chose to become astrologers, inspired me to tell my story a couple of weeks ago. I then decided to run an occasional series this year, inviting leading astrologers to share theirs. It is my great pleasure to have Victor Olliver, astrologer, author and editor of the UK’s Astrological Journal, tell his tale with his unique combination of cheek, challenge, verve – and depth. Over to you, Victor!
“…It never occurred to me that astrology was rubbish. Such were the many oddities of my early life – born of an Anglo-Italian mismatch into a world of wars that sang love songs while I played playground peculiarity (sorry about all the pees) yet looked like angelic jailbait and had a posh voice despite working class pedigree – that my mind was ready to accommodate exotic and weird notions not readily explained in school physics textbooks.
The sky lab technician who created me in his/her cosmic test tube prepared me well for a world that is essentially, profoundly inexplicable. We dream our way through life and pride ourselves on our logic. Paradox is to be found in everything as we pretend to follow highway codes. We feel our way through life and engage in the charade of decision-making. Yet one by-product of all this chaos and melodrama and hallucinating is that we (many of us) still manage to pay our bills while getting better on prescription drugs.
So, in the beginning, astrology was for me less a ‘topic’, more an arrangement of images in a book, without any unifying thought. Frankly it all looked comfortingly bonkers. At about the age of 12 I’d won a book voucher at school for being clever after years in the dunce stream. I now know that at about the time of my first Jupiter return and not long before my first Saturn opposition, my brains started to grow. The book voucher added to my reputation for being odd (and probably queer – though what did fellow kids or idiot teachers know?) when I exchanged it for a huge coffee table tome about mythology; Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, you name it. That copy is still in my library.
What intrigued me was that inanimate humanoid forms made of stone or paint, sometimes winged, diaphanous or bearded, ruled worlds temporal and spiritual. These days such undead powers are called brand logos – so, through the likes of Coca Cola and McDonald’s marketing, I understood by association the idea of mysteries having mastery.
Thanks to those modern sages Russell Grant and Linda Goodman, the stone/plaster/paint gods migrated in my head to astrology where Jove, Mercury, Venus/Aphrodite and others still lived despite the progress exemplars of TV game shows and penicillin. The gods lived through the ‘zodiac’ and those much-maligned media Sun-sign columns, the then top dog of which was Patric Walker (more about whom just below). Incidentally, he was wrongly suspected of murdering his predecessor ‘Celeste’ at Harpers & Queen magazine in order to grab her stars column.
None of this was enough to persuade me to follow in Patric’s footsteps. Instead I took a 25-plus-year detour and became a barrister before embarking on a career in journalism, as you do. But astrology was not ready to give me up. Around the time of my fifth tr Jupiter-Jupiter square (with tr Uranus on my Saturn – and astro scepticism on a high), a glossy magazine commissioned me to interview…Patric Walker. His reputed Libran charm took leave of absence that day as he sat in his hotel bathrobe firing off the odd barb he thought I did not catch. Librans can be so Arien, don’t you think? My acid write-up repaid his put-downs. I concluded he was a right bitch trying to chat me up – but he knew his stuff. I stayed in journalism.
By the time of my 4th Jupiter return, my curiosity about astrology had reached the point where I felt it was time to do or die of boredom. I enrolled at the Mayo School of Astrology and fell under the guiding and sane influence of tutor Wendy Stacey.
This coincided with one of those events that in retrospect one calls ‘fated’. Yes, I didn’t fall in love. That is to say, I started a brief relationship with a notable astrologer called Henrietta Llewelyn Davies (called ‘Henri’ by her friends) – sadly no longer with us. Our eyes met across a crowded room at London’s Groucho Club – an opiates dungeon for doped up media types and their whorish hangers-on. Henri had done well: columns in Cosmo, Woman’s Own, TV Times – astro stuff in The Times. She was psychic, too. She talked a lot about her work, I was fascinated. She encouraged me to learn the art and craft of horoscopes.
And at this time a clairvoyante medium told me that my dead father was with her. Or as she put it: “He’s saying do something with those, oh, they look like, well, whatchamacallit, horoscopes”.
I lost my job, graduated with a distinction diploma in natal and mundane astrology, landed the role of the first-ever stargazer on The Lady magazine (by another misadventure) and then ascended to the heavens of The Astrological Journal editorship.
In other words, the career I should have first pursued flowed like a dream with scarcely an impediment. In contrast, enter a hostile place and all you experience are gremlins and gargoyles. Astrology on the other hand had the air I breathe and the vistas I appreciate. It presented me with a perspective which, in its predication on the unknowable yet adherence to systemic thought and practice, summed up the paradoxes I’d suffered and experienced in other life departments.
I had arrived in Astro-Wonderland. Mad Hatters aplenty.
I couldn’t care less which system of astrology you prefer, or whether you think luminary orbs should be 12 or 15 degrees. It’s all background chamber music to me. No matter what the astro academics like to propound, I know astrology is half instinct, half method.
Without that first half I may as well have been a lawyer…”
Victor’s website is: Victor Olliver Astrology
1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Victor Olliver 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page