On this Libra Full Moon week, I’m delighted to welcome my good friend and colleague Christina Rodenbeck as guest writer. Enjoy Christina’s wonderfully poetic, exotic account of how and where she first encountered astrology – leading her later to become a ‘spinner of light’…
I remember my first encounter with astrology vividly.
It was my first year in Egypt and we lived in a tall, white villa surrounded by a garden filled with fruit trees and crab grass. The house, at least in my memory, was vast, with cold tile floors and ceilings so high they vanished into shadows.
The centre of that house was a void around which wound four long flights of stairs. This void kept the house cool in summer — and freezing in winter. At night, those stairs creaked and groaned. Maybe it was the dry heat, or maybe it was the ghosts. My mother said it was the hedgehog, which we’d been given as a pet by a neighbour, the tick expert, and which had escaped to live a solitary life in the house — allegedly.
My parents filled this echoing house, and perhaps their echoing marriage, with other people. This motley, colourful bunch drifted in and out: houseguests, lunch guests, dinner guests, neighbours, the cook Hafez, a very devout sewing lady, an Irish poet, a drunken archeologist, hippy converts swathed in hijab, Chickie the cat lady from across the street, and Margo, the artist who lived round the corner and used our top floor as a studio when she got fed up with her own.
Among the many visitors to the house were my father’s students from the university, who, in those days, were probably not much younger than him. They hung around perching on the edges of chairs, impeccable children of the wealthy, with Chanel handbags and perfect hair, round-eyed, slightly uncomfortable. A Greek boy called Costa Benakis became infatuated with my cousin Judi, a genuine English peach-bomb draped in Biba — one of the many houseguests. Costa hung around a lot: black hair, white flares, sunglasses, car keys and silver worry beads. At the age of six, I found him utterly delightful. At the age of 18, so did my cousin.
Anyway, one day, Costa, possibly in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the household via its youngest member, explained to me that I was a Pisces, because my birthday was March 1, and so was he because he was born just a few days earlier.
The strange energy in that house — fervid, disrupted— fell away like a dark, retreating sea. And there I was at a still, bright point, listening intently.
In that sharp, luminous moment, astrology arrived in my mind, and, I think my trembling, small soul unfurled a little. I was not just a little girl in a troubling sea of stumbling adults, I was a Pisces, a mermaid, a starchild, a creature of myth. I couldn’t put it into words then, of course, but I think I understood instantly that I was a part of a magic, invisible web.
I am not sure of the exact date, but it was close to my birthday, and that year my solar return was indeed special. I have only just drawn it up now. What I did not know then is that this web of light would catch me again and again as I too stumbled through troubled life.
Mercury, the ancient planet associated with astrologers, is rising in the solar return chart, and it sits on my own Mars-Mercury conjunction. This is also exactly on the cusp of my 8th house, the house of esoteric studies.
Jupiter is exactly on my natal Venus in Aquarius, which I’ve always associated with my love of astrology.
You might look to Uranus also, the modern planet associated with astrology, and there he sits making a perfect trine to my Moon-Jupiter conjunction in inquisitive, curious Gemini. Indeed, my soul was awakened. You might also conjecture whether the household in which I lived that year was particularly eccentric.
Saturn is also applying to the natal Moon-Jupiter conjunction — a life-long commitment was coming. In fact, I was also quite unwell later in that year, when Saturn reached the moon. It was the beginning of many years of physical frailty, which turned me towards an inner world and helped make me a dream-spinner, fiction-lover, art-junkie.
I spent part of my childhood in that tall, half-empty house attempting to raise the dead with ouija boards, holding seances in the bathroom with the Stevens twins, reading books on palmistry and white magic. Astrology wove in and out of the mix. I can’t ever remember not knowing the symbols for the signs. There was Linda Goodman…
But when we moved out of that house, co-incidence or not, I lost astrology for a decade. There is a time for things — and there is also a place.
It was not until I was in my 20s, in London, that astrology came back to me. My friend Giselle — a kind, angry woman with big, bleached hair and squeaking leather trousers — recommended a book to me when I was in those fearsome doldrums that strike in your 20s. In fact, once again I was living in a tall, white house full of ghosts.
The book was called Saturn: A New Look At An Old Devil. Liz Greene’s book arrived in my hands some years before my Saturn Return. Greene’s writing electrified me. So, you could be an astrologer and intellectually rigorous too? She opened a door in my mind that’s never been closed.
I’ve just looked at her chart too. Her Uranus — the Awakener, the Astrologer — is right on that same Moon-Jupiter conjunction in Gemini that was being trined when I was six, and it’s trined by her Jupiter in Libra.
From there I made my way through Parker’s Astrology, the Astrological Lodge, and every astrology book I could lay my hands on, and eventually I wound up at a lecture by Liz Greene herself when she taught at the Centre for Psychological Astrology.
Uranus was back to trining my Moon-Jupiter from Aquarius by then, Saturn was back in Gemini — it was time for me to make a proper commitment to astrology. Since then, it’s the only job I’ve had, I’ve become a spinner of light to catch others before they fall.
“… some of us are looking at the stars.”
Love this, a great story and fascinating journey – Liz Greene’s book was also instrumental in bringing me to astrology & came into my life exactly on my first Saturn opposition (seems we also have chart correspondences) – it seemed like a synchronicity that I could not ignore, had to know more and have never looked back
thanks, Christina and Anne – Rob
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Great to hear from you, Rob – it’s been a while. Yes, it’s a great story – and thanks for sharing a clip of yours. I do hope other readers will do likewise!
Well, thank you for inviting me to write this Anne. It brought back a lot of memories!
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…and it has been a delight both to read and publish it, thanks, Christina!
Such a joy to read, thank you and to understand that many of us have phased through life touched by Astrology and not knowing why. Then along comes a book, the teacher appears…mine was Melanie Reinharts ‘Chiron the wounded healer ‘ conjunct Jeff Greens book Pluto’. Baptism by fire!! I was fortunate to attend Melanie’s workshop in Bali in 2010, just as Chiron was conjunct my MC zero degrees Pisces … yay astrology. Melanie’s webinar on April 14th on Charliko has reignited the flame…Chiron conjunct my natal Venus and Charliko part of that Pluto, Saturn Sth node stellium transiting m my 8th house…new awakenings.
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Thanks, Gillian, for this most interesting
feedback. Indeed, there are many routes to the Round Art…
For me, the primal portal to astrology was synastry. (I have Libra rising.) My first encounter, an automated print out from a railway station in Paris, 1967,left me cold. The style was unappealing, and as for the suggestion that I might be involved in ‘shady shenanigans’, yuck! However there was an attraction repulsion: was astrology itself a shady shenanigan, a flaky naive belief system, a reduction to banalities, the moral prop for those without enough critical discrimination to see that the zodiac they used was empirically inaccurate? Finally, during my Saturn return, the question of why one (ie I) was so attracted to some people and averse to others became urgent. One day on a whim I went to Watkins bookshop instead of work and equipped with everything necessary to erect birth charts, rang members of my family (who’d been born in Scotland and therefore had recorded birth times) and proceeded to calculate, promising myself that if this explained my interpersonal familial experiences, I would pursue astrology regardless of ‘rational’ explanations. It was a eureka experience, the sort of excitement I’d only felt watching a photographic image emerge in a developing tank,and all became clear. Of course. Over the years I have continued to explore different perspectives and techniques, but always testing the new by verification with known data. The fabric of life is as it, is, whether measured in yards or metres, this zodiac or that. I notice though, as I grow older, that I am less inclined to explore new systems. Why do I love it? Using rational mind (calculation of probabilities) in tandem with intuitive mind gives a sense of wholeness purpose and integration. It adds humour, perspective, and programme notes or insight when one has lost the plot; it enables me to like people more, to relate to them better, and to find the boring interesting (at the risk of becoming a bit of a voyeur). If I used to identify with the outsider in my youth, now there are subtle layerings and alternations of insider and outsider dynamics going on,having some knowledge of the inner dynamics of the outsider (whichever ‘native’ one is considering). For decades astrology was enough. Another, energetic rather than cognitive,practice joining heaven and earth has become a mainstay of my life, viz Tai Chi and its philosophy heaven chi, earth chi and man/woman as conduit between them. With Mars and Mercury in Gemini, it is more comfortable to be working with two systems
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Catriona, this is wonderfully vivid, articulate feedback. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to share it with us.
Thank you for this response Catriona. I so agree with your many good points — especially testing against known data, how astrology helps you to like people, and the delight of feeling intuitive and rational mind working in tandem.
Such beautiful poetic writing about your childhood and astrology journey. I would love to see Liz greene speak live but tricky from Australia. I picked up her Saturn book in a 2nd hand store in Jan on a holiday in LA!
Thank you for taking the time to write your story. I truly enjoyed it.
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Thanks, Josephine! Yes, I loved Christina’s story too…and hearing Liz Greene on tape in the early 1980s made me say ” I want to study with her…!” In the 1990s, I did exactly that, commuting monthly by air from Glasgow in Scotland to London between 1992 and 1998, eventually becoming a formal student at her Centre for Psychological Astrology in 1995, and gaining the Diploma in 1998. She has been a huge influence on so many of us, including you and the author of this lovely post.
Did you know that you CAN actually hear Liz Greene speak – and teach? You can now buy downloads of her webinars from the CPA shop – check them out here: https://www.cpalondon.com/videos.html
I loved that so much it made me cry and it made me see the significance of the personal story that brought each of us to astrology.
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Raven, what a delightful message. I’ll pass it on to Christina.