“Astrology is a load of rubbish” – please, NOT that tedious old trope again!!!

I know it’s not like me to rant. Those of you good folk who call by my blog regularly, know that. However, I feel like a bit of a rant today. What about? Dismissers, that’s what. Normally I view this response to astrology with weary resignation.

However, a recent airing of that tedious old ‘astrology is a load of old rubbish’ trope  really got under my skin. How I wish people would spend some time in studying subjects which have been a vital part of human experience for thousands of years, rather than displaying their profound ignorance of those very subjects in the public realm.

I know of what I speak, being a reformed dismisser myself. Readers of this blog may recall the tale of  my being stopped in my tracks by a startling prediction – made as a result of an encounter with astrologers in a launderette in Bath, England – that I would in fact become an astrologer too. You can find the full story HERE.

Moving from ignorant dismissal of a tradition going back at least six thousand years, to gradual acceptance of its validity based on study and experience, was one of the most profound and humbling processes of my entire life.

I used to like the word ‘sceptical’: for me, it meant not accepting anything on trust, but being prepared to consider the evidence, not just of accepted facts, but also of experiential evidence which to me and much of the world’s population – including open-minded scientists like Professor Bernard Carr, Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at London University and a Past President of the Society for Psychical Research – can have its own validity.

In a lecture some years ago, Professor Carr stated that there is a barrier which needs to be overcome: those who consider only experimental evidence conducted under strict laboratory conditions to be valid, clash with others who find well-researched experiential evidence to be of at least equal worth. I think he is absolutely right.

Unfortunately, the term ‘sceptical’ has now largely narrowed down to mean dismissing any body of knowledge, experience or practice which does not fall within the narrow terms of reference of reductionist ‘scientific’ procedures.

Astrology has never ‘delivered’ terribly convincingly when subjected to the above approaches. Personally, I have not been the least surprised or upset by this. One cannot expect applying the procedures of one model of reality, ie reductionist science, to the practices of another ie astrology, to produce much by way of validation.

My lifelong interest in science has not been diminished by the depressingly dominant reductionism of our era. A long-time preoccupation has been to bring together in my own mind contemporary insights flowing from the weird world of quantum physics with the ancient wisdom traditions and symbol systems centred round the Perennial Philosophy, including of course astrology.

‘Cosmos, Chaosmos and Astrology’ by Dr. Bernadette Brady has especially aided me recently; it’s a book I have now read several times. Her highly stimulating rethink of the nature of astrology, taking us on an erudite journey from ancient myth to modern chaos and complexity theory, provides a convincing set of reasons why astrology, despite the increasingly dominant reductionism of  21st century culture, remains a lens of great value to look through in making sense of life, even although ‘…the real result of …eighty years of research into the possibility of astrology being a science is the evidence that it is not’. (p69)

It belongs, Brady believes, to ‘another world view’. She offers us astrologer and author Garry Phillipson’s opinion that astrology may work best when approached and practised as …a sacred art.’ (p69). From my own experience, I would agree with this.

I heartily recommend Dr Brady’s book to those of you, like me, who have great respect for science when practiced in an open-minded way, but recognise that life offers more than one lens through which we may view the multi-faceted Reality of which we are privileged to be a part. As the atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer so wisely put it:

“These two ways of thinking, the ways of time and history and the way of eternity and timelessness, are both part of …our… efforts to comprehend the world in which…we live…Neither is comprehended in the other or reducible to it. They are, as we have learned to say in physics,  complementary views, each supplementing the other, neither telling the whole story.”

In the end, we astrologers have each to find our own way of living with the dismissers. Maintaining both breadth and depth of study whilst striving for a high standard of professionalism in our teaching and practice, is the most effective rebuttal of this kind of ignorance.

Having occupied more than one profession during my working lifetime, I have always found that integrity of action speaks much louder than any words can, although of course the latter have their place. Let the dismissers get on with being ill-informed and narrow minded. Let us simply get on with our work…

Endnotes:

This post is an edited version of a piece which first appeared in my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’  in the March 2017 Issue.

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900 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dell Horoscope Magazine 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

Saturn Pluto is on the march…fasten your seat belts!

A recurring theme in recent talks with colleagues and students has been the powerful impact on our collective and personal lives of the current transit of Jupiter through Scorpio, currently sextiling Scorpio’s ruler Pluto in Capricorn, potentised by Saturn’s recent entry into his own sign of Capricorn – and the start of his long march toward the 2020 Saturn/Pluto conjunction. We can already feel the exacting challenges of the latter combination beginning to build. 

As well as deep, long-standing institutional corruption of various kinds including sexual and financial being dredged, confronted and exposed, there seems to have been an outbreak of a greater sense of collective responsibility regarding how we are treating one another, and our planet. Here are just a couple of examples, from the UK:

The UK’s series “Blue Planet Two – oceans of wonder” fronted by that venerable and influential national treasure the 91 year old Sir David Attenborough, has been shown to huge audiences worldwide pricking our collective consciences into action regarding the damage plastic is doing to our oceans. Also in the UK, a minister for Loneliness has been appointed to co-ordinate attempts to tackle more effectively that scourge of modern living.

This upcoming January 2020 Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn – Saturn’s home sign – offers a strong earth/water signal as we move toward the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Aquarius at the end of 2020. We are being challenged to clean up our act in relation to our home planet, and behave with more integrity toward one another as a human community – or face the consequences.

We are moving from an emphasis on  planetary exploitation which characterised the Industrial Revolution and the whole materialist culture arising, to one of global social development – that of ideas, information, communication, and relationships – expedited by technology, for the coming 200 years or so.

So, despite the tough times we are living through and Saturn/Pluto’s upcoming challenges, I feel optimistic on the whole about the new order being birthed in the turmoil of ending, although we baby-boomers will likely not live to see it.

Pondering on Saturn/Pluto and its challenges – a topic of especial interest to me since I was born under an exact combination of those two and am still here (as far as I know…) – reminded me of a column I wrote for the UK’s Astrological Journal a while ago, which described a striking incident evoking Saturn/Pluto. Here it is:

‘…Something oddly unsettling happened to me on 1st June 2016. Not a surprise, you might say, with the Sun that day conjunct Mercury in Gemini square Jupiter in Virgo square Saturn in Sagittarius square Neptune in Pisces – all churning between 10-15 degrees of the Mutables: my Asc/Desc plus Mercury tossed and turned within this restless brew.

I was peacefully preparing some notes for an especially interesting-looking client booked in for that afternoon. I like noting when clients’ progressed planets change signs, or turn retro/direct, as their life pattern unfolds.This offers good material for enlightening contemplation and discussion. But it’s not something you can quickly and easily do using a computer.

So – I reached for my 20th century Midnight Ephemeris, turned to the 1990s, and made an unpleasant discovery. Someone had torn out pages from the 1990s. But not random pages. The whole of 1993 and 1994. Nothing else was damaged.

There were two possibilities, given that I had purchased this ephemeris second hand on moving into my current office in January 2015. One – someone with keys to my office had come in and torn out specific pages at some point in the last year or so. (You’d never spot my MercurySaturnPluto line-up here, surely…)

Or two – the more credible – whoever sold the ephemeris had hated those two years so much that he/she had taken their revenge via this act of Mercurial vandalism. It was odd, however, that I had not noticed the damage earlier…

What to do, now that I had a maimed ephemeris? Every client from now till forever, I thought, is BOUND to be born in the 1990s or have key life events happening then which require close symbolic examination and elucidation. With the passage of decades, one becomes fully cognisant of Sod’s frequently malign intentions …

Whilst reluctantly concluding, therefore, that a new ephemeris was probably required, a sudden memory lit up my grumpy, puzzled, somewhat paranoid mental processes. During the 1990s, I had made up my own ephemeris for each year. Perhaps I could use two of those to cover the missing years? Had those ephemerides survived one of my periodic purges?

They had! Their distinctive, colourful covers impressed me. How arty I was, briefly, in the 1990s… included with the photocopied ephemeris pages were lined sheets of yellow paper for notes; these were full of astrological significators linked with personal and mundane events for 1991 to 1996. Why had I stopped then? No idea…

A morning was spent browsing through those notes, focusing especially on the two missing years of 1993-4; what a harrowing read! Staggering out semi-traumatised into gorgeous sunshine, I restored balance by basking outside my favourite boho cafe. Sipping delicious coffee and feasting on sandwiches followed by jammy creamy fruit scones, I reflected on our –fortunately – well-developed capacity to forget grim events. How unpleasant and upsetting it is to be reminded.

These were awful, turbulent times: not only at a macro level, but also in our small personal worlds…many of us ‘plugged in” to the same degrees as the major planetary patterns of those years suffered very considerably. I often found myself talking to clients about family traumas which in many cases closely mirrored my own.

From my notes, January 1993 “…the start of a momentous year, with a triple conjunction of Uranus/Neptune at 18/19 degrees Capricorn in February, August and October, AND a triple meeting between Saturn in Aquarius square Pluto in Scorpio from 24-27 degrees of their respective signs in March and October 1993, then January 1994…world situation incredibly unstable, turbulent and cruel throughout 1992 as exactitudes approached…”

The notes went on to describe planetary links to major oil spills, earthquakes, mudslides, volcanic eruptions…and that was just January and February 1993! There followed, as many of us will remember, ongoing IRA bombings on the UK mainland, the first attack on the World Trade Centre, attempts to stop a genocidal war in the Balkans, and horrific genocide in Ruanda…Worth quoting, from the UK’s ‘Sunday Times’ on 22/8/93, two days after the second exact Uranus/Neptune conjunction:

“Islamic fundamentalism, if it remains unchecked, could destabilise Egypt, Sudan, Africa, Middle East – the whole world community…” Grimly prescient.

I now understood why that mysterious reader had torn out 1993 and 1994. Feeling very reflective, and grateful that life had eventually reached calmer waters in recent times, I headed off home. There in the mail was a letter: the first for many years from a close relative – from whom I was forced to cut off contact in 1993/4.

As a famous scientist once observed, life is not only stranger than we suppose. It is stranger than we CAN suppose…’

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Endnote:

This post was first published as my 8th Not the Astrology Column in the July/August 2016  Issue of the UK’s Astrological Journal, edited by Victor Olliver.

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1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Jupiter in Scorpio, astrologers and Prometheus – a cautionary tale..

Since sharing When Transits Bring Suffering by Dana Gerhardt on my Facebook Page a few days ago, I have been reflecting yet again on the reality that the Cosmos’ unfolding energy patterns – from which astrology helps us to extract meaning – offer us darkness as well as light as the Wheel of Fortune turns… I ruminated on this topic recently in my column for Dell Horoscope Magazine, offering a striking example from my own life by means of illustration…

“…The Titan Prometheus was a pretty arrogant fellow, in my view. According to Greek myth he stole the fire of knowledge from the gods, hidden in a fennel stalk, to give to humanity for our enlightenment. Did he consult any humans beforehand, to see if we wanted such a double-edged gift?

To the best of my knowledge, he did not. He thought he knew best. For this blatant act of hubris, ie thinking you are as smart as the gods, he was savagely punished by Zeus, their king.

You probably know the story, but it bears repeating, just to remind us that hubris is not a good idea. Chained to a rock, Prometheus had his liver pecked out by an eagle on a daily basis; it regrew overnight – the punishment never ended.

In astrology the planet Jupiter, named for the king of the gods in Roman myth, rules the liver. In the Prometheus myth, the liver was chosen as the focus of torture because the ancient Greeks regarded the liver as the seat of life, soul, and intelligence.

So – wherever Jupiter is in your horoscope, that’s where you are compelled to seek to broaden your experience, widen your horizons, deepen your knowledge. However, the myth would appear to suggest that you need to be careful with the results of your quest and its impact on both yourself and others.

Jupiter has very recently moved into the sign of Scorpio, ruled by the Lord of the Underworld, Pluto. Wherever Scorpio is in your birth chart, that’s where the soul-enhancing benefits of deepening your understanding and experience within that dark terrain can be gained over the next year.

Jupiter in Scorpio crops up often in the horoscopes of astrologers, as do Jupiter/Pluto aspects, or Jupiter in the Eighth House. This should not be a surprise, either to astrologers themselves or those who know them. Astrological knowledge is powerful  – as such, it is potently attractive to those of us prepared to do the in-depth work required in order to become fluent enough to practice as astrologers and/or astrology teachers.

However, with such deep knowledge comes a warning, which Prometheus should have heeded; one which astrologers should note, if they have the wisdom and humility to do so: fire burns. By acquiring such powerful knowledge, hidden from most people, we are procuring the gods’ fire. That fire can burn us as it did Prometheus. It can burn our clients and students too, if we are not careful.

Consider this example from my life last year: late in May 2017 I was preparing to attend the Student Astrology Conference in London on 2-3 June. There had recently been two major terrorist attacks on the UK: one in March in London, the second in Manchester just over a week before we were due to set off. One of the key transit patterns common to those attacks was the long square between Saturn in late Sagittarius and Chiron in late Pisces.

I have a Uranus/Mars conjunction in late Gemini/early Cancer in the tenth house. Observing the ephemeris with increasing disquiet, wondering what unpleasant collective events might be triggered by transiting Mars moving through Gemini and once again setting off the Saturn/Chiron square, I suddenly realised that I was ‘plugged in’ to this pattern.

Mars would be exactly triggering my Uranus/Mars midpoint, opposing Saturn transiting the fourth house and squaring transiting seventh house Chiron. On the London Conference weekend.

Given the overall picture, I was worried to say the least. What should I do? Should I tell my husband, thereby alarming him? (Fortunately he is an Aquarian, and not easily intimidated!) Should we cancel our trip? It certainly looked as though some unpleasant surprises were coming our way. In the end, having decided that all this difficult symbolism was contained within an overall protective grand kite pattern involving my horoscope and transiting planets, I concluded that things would be difficult, but not directly involving me or us.

So it proved. One hour before we departed on 1st June, a close relative called me to say his wife was going to have surgery soon for breast cancer. At Euston railway station in London, tired from travelling, we got into a black cab with a driver who blasted us with the full force of his rage against the world for the full half hour it took to get to our hotel. And on the night of 2nd June, less than a mile away from our hotel and the conference venue, there was a devastating terror attack on London Bridge.

My foreknowledge of the broad picture, but not the detail, undoubtedly caused me distress. I could give many other examples as I am sure could my astrologer colleagues, of being burned by this wonderful knowledge we have – which can also be so constructively helpful and illuminating both to us and to our clients.

What would you have said to an astrology client with the planetary line-up described, if they had asked you “Should I go to London next weekend?”  I am still thinking about that one. But in the end we have to trust the sacred space of the consultation, our link to the Divine, be humble – and  strive to do no harm…”

Endnotes:

This post first appeared in my bi-monthly column for Dell Horoscope Magazine  ‘The astro-view from Scotland’ in the November 2017 Issue.

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900 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dell Horoscope Magazine 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

As 2018 begins, Saturn in Capricorn speaks…

As part of the slow process of emerging snail-like from the tinsel shell of the Festive Season, and preparing to greet the new world of 2018, I returned, as I sometimes do, to  Persian poet Rumi’s wonderfully wise poem “This being human”. Do read it, if you have not done so already. It contains great wisdom regarding the turbulent duality of light and dark forces which constitute not only human nature, but also Life itself. It also feels a very appropriate message from Saturn in Capricorn…

Light and dark are inseparably interdependent: maybe, Rumi is suggesting, it would be wise to honour them both, since those dark destructive energies which periodically sweep through, causing havoc personally and collectively, contain  messages, guidance  from Beyond, which are telling us something we usually do not wish to hear. 

A year’s turn, no matter what our beliefs, brings with it a deeply-ingrained, archetypal need to take stock, reflect on the year gone by, and perhaps resolve to make some positive changes in the New Year emerging. As 2018 dawns, Saturn from his natural domain in Capricorn, will gather momentum in his work of reminding us both personally and collectively that we need to behave with as much integrity as possible and take full responsibility for our own actions as the next few years unfold.

I am not alone in having had Life hurl me against the same wall a few times before I eventually ‘get the message’, and with painful slowness begin the process of change which is being demanded of me by a deeper, wiser Self –  that chip of divine light which is present in every one of us.

Writers offering comforting platitudes skimmed from a glide across the surface of life, or perhaps digging down a little, do not move me. My help comes from  those who look unflinchingly into the world’s dark heart without underestimating in any way the destruction and cruelty to be found there, but who can balance what they see with inspiring affirmation.

Despite all the awfulness of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ which is an ever-present reality through the ages both personally and collectively, Life is full of opportunities to be ‘surprised by joy’, to seek and find meaning in even the most scouring of experiences. That is certainly what I have come to believe.

Some writers have a way, also, of reminding us of how we need to change by poking us where it hurts, just as Saturn does… Reflecting on the current dismal-looking state of  planet Earth and its denizens as 2018 begins, I have been chewing upon one of my favourite anger-generating topics: how our need to be RIGHT  – and its world-wide manifestations via religious, political and scientific fundamentalism – has probably caused more bloodshed, mayhem and havoc throughout history than anything else, when I recalled this short but pungent poem by the poet Yahuda Amichai.

With thanks to Monica Domino who published it last year on symbolreader, I offer you this as a New Year meditation:

“The Place Where We Are Right”

“From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.”

Yehuda Amichai

 

 

 

 

 

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Yehuda Amichai 2018

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

Saturn and the Sun in Capricorn: some thoughts at the Winter Solstice

Tomorrow the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn, the zodiacal backdrop to our journey through the dark heart of  winter each year. This year its entry, and the Winter Solstice, is lent especial significance by Capricorn’s ruling planet, Saturn, having come home to its own sign today. I have been feeling the gravity of this, as I am sure have many of my readers.

2589725-midwinter-winter-solstice

In essence, my feeling about the period we are moving into from Winter Solstice 2017 is this: Saturn is the planet which dispenses strict justice, telling us that what we sow, we reap – for good or ill. As he moves slowly towards conjunction with mighty Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, at 22 degrees Capricorn in 2020, a meeting which only occurs every thirty-five years or so, we are being reminded that environmentally, politically and financially there is a collective reckoning on its way. Jupiter’s presence in Capricorn that year further amplifies the encounter’s significance.

The consequences of our actions are looming; there is a rebirth coming which hopefully in the long run will challenge us as a human community to behave with greater integrity in our dealings both with one another and with our precious mother planet. So, the turbulent times ahead will force us to confront our failures and shortcomings, both personally and collectively.

But they will also offer us satisfactions and rewards in those areas of our lives to which we bring integrity, personal responsibility,  patience, persistence and honesty. The choice is ours – as always. 

It’s important to give profound times their due. But we also need comfort and distraction, especially in the ‘bleak Midwinter’…

We humans in the Northern Hemisphere, beset by darkness and cold, have from long antiquity needed light and celebration to lift our spirits in the bleak midwinter, no matter how much the grimness of world affairs or the pains of everyday life hold us down: 2017 has been a particularly harrowing year.

We have, also, long needed ritual to guide our lives through the passage of all kinds of seasons: seasons of the year, seasons of our lives, seasons of joy, seasons of mourning…these rituals give significance, dignity, to the archetypal processes of life and death, then rebirth to new life in one form or another.

 An annual event in our Scottish household is to flick malt whisky symbolically onto the Christmas Tree, the modern version of the ancient Sumerians’ Moon Tree, and to read Susan Cooper’s wonderful Winter Solstice poem aloud. All families across the world have their own variations on seasonal ritual.

I hope you find comfort and joy in yours.

Ancient Akkadians honour their tree of life

Ancient Akkadians honour their tree of life

THE SHORTEST DAY’ BY SUSAN COOPER

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

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In the bleak Midwinter...

In the bleak Midwinter…

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Susan Cooper 2017

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned?

Anne, how do you feel Astrology is best learned? Through books, lectures, classes, or ?

I received this message from Judith on this blog’s Facebook Page several days ago, replying to say I’d deal with it when I had time. But it’s a good, BIG question, more deserving of a thought-out answer than merely via a Facebook comment. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought; there are dozens of ways to respond!

My astrological colleagues will have their own way of replying – I’d be happy to hear their views, and those of current students or folk who are thinking about studying. I spent a happy half hour with one such person on Thursday 30th November 2017, responding to his question about Mercury Retrograde. His fascination with the whole subject was a joy to be around…

In the meantime, here are my thoughts…

My husband Ian, who in his earlier life was a professional actor, once asked a seasoned professional what it took to be a serious member of the profession. The older man replied rather grandly : ” My boy, all you need to be an actor is three boards – and passion…”

Passion

So let’s start with the passion.

Picture this scene. There I am, sitting at a cramped old desk in the bedroom of our new house, having just moved, acquired a husband (not ever part of my life plan, by the way!) a half share in his two children, his elderly cat, and his ex wife who at that time lived round the corner from us. Oh yes, and having just changed  jobs.

In front of me is an astrology text book: Margaret Hone’s Modern Text Book of Astrology (most recent imprint 1954 or thereabouts). I am already scared stiff by Margaret, although I have never met her. I am at Chapter Six: Computation. It’s a struggle to understand the maths, never my strong point to put it mildly.

There are mascara stains half way down the page. Mine. “I’ll never ever get this!” I wail to the new husband, who is looking bemused. Less than a year later, having sat a whole week of exams in May 1983, I discover that I have gained my Certificate of the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies – with a Distinction in the Calculation paper.

That’s where passion, allied with her much less glamorous but more useful sister persistence, can get you. So that’s where you start, if you really want seriously to engage with the art of astrology. You need to be passionately attracted to those seductive, mysterious, elusive symbols whose sliver of meaningful light cast on your life – very often, first of all,  through the Sun Signs – compels you to engage with a landscape whose depth and richness becomes increasingly evident the further you venture within.

Finding the way 

It’s fascinating to find out how well-known astrologers found their way: HERE are some of their stories, including my own, which is set in a launderette in Bath, Somerset, England; a very long time ago. Then, I thought ( based on the usual total ignorance of the subject) that astrology was a load of old rubbish. How wrong could a person be…

People vary greatly in how they arrive at a reasonable degree of competence and fluency in interpreting astrological charts. This is where persistence and discipline come in. Without those, you are going to remain on the margins: a dilettante, “into” astrology but with no real grasp of the subject. That’s fine, if that’s where you wish to remain. But you won’t get to the heart of the subject without persistent application.

I think my own pattern was fairly typical. First, I had an unexpected encounter with astrologers the accuracy of whose reading of my horoscope stunned me. It came at a time when I was seriously questioning what my life was FOR – and whether life itself was intrinsically meaningful, or not. If strangers could describe my inner world and external life patterns so accurately, I thought, that certainly suggested the likelihood of something meaningful going on in the grand scale ….but the challenge provided to my agnostic resistance wasn’t at that point ripe enough to propel me into exploratory action.

Then seven years later, a friend thrust Alan Oken’s The Horoscope, the Road and its Travellers into my hand saying “I think you should read this.” In order not to offend him, I did, and was instantly compelled to begin studying first of all symbols, planets, signs, houses, aspects. I still have that old, battered notebook with all my handwritten notes in it – and the book with my name in it “Anne Whitaker 1981”.

Next, feeling lonely as a self-directed solo student, I decided to attend a local astrology group.Great,” I thought. “At least here I can get away from everyone who knows me but doesn’t know I’m interested in this weirdo stuff…”

“Hello, Anne, fancy meeting you here!” said the woman collecting entrance fees. It was a colleague from psychiatric social work. My cover was blown from day one. Attending the group led me to joining a class run by Carole Wilson (are you reading this, Carole?!) who held the Diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies.After that I just told people I was studying astrology, eliciting the usual mixture of responses from the incredulous to the dismissive, with a very liberal dollop of ” Wow, great – can you do my chart?”

Taking it further

Saying “Yes” and embarking on short, limited chart readings  very quickly revealed two things. One, that I too could study marks on pieces of paper and feed back accurate information to their owners. Two, that there was a great deal of power, and responsibility for using it, vested in the process of reading horoscopes and the person who took on that task. Feeling committed but daunted, needing some consistent high-quality teaching to take me on from Carole’s excellent introductory class, I signed up as a  Faculty of Astrological Studies correspondence student and in due course obtained my Certificate.

But you never can get to the end of  astrological knowledge: it’s too wide, and too deep. I was to further my studies much later on, at the Centre for Psychological Astrology,  by commuting by plane from Glasgow to London from 1995-1998 to complete a three-year Diploma in Psychological Astrology with renowned teacher writer and astrologer Dr Liz Greene and the late great mundane astrologer, teacher and writer Charles Harvey.

I consider myself most fortunate to have spent most of my twenties as a college lecturer, and most of my thirties as a generic and psychiatric social worker and counsellor, since both those strands wove into and greatly supported my work as an astrologer. I was also used to having my professional work supervised: thus, when I went freelance with writing, teaching, counselling and the practice of astrology – on the first Saturn square after my Saturn Return – it was a natural step for me to set up regular supervision for my astrological work.

So – returning to Judith’s question by way of conclusion: Judith, as you can see from this post, you answered your own question in the way you posed it!

Passionate interest, for whatever reason, kicks the whole thing off. Then it’s as you say: books, lectures, classes … and preferably some disciplined study with a reputable, recommended school, leading to a qualification which is recognised in the astrological world – that’s if you wish to establish some credibility as a practitioner and teacher.

There is a great deal more to be said on this topic, including the fact that many well-respected astrologers have no formal qualifications. You can find some of what I have previously discussed HERE if you want some food for thought regarding the professional and ethical dimensions of being an astrologer. I’d like to put on record here my appreciation of the work of the late, great master astrologer Donna Cunningham, who as you will see features very much in the first post in the series you will find by going through the above link.

Enjoy the browse – and many thanks, Judith, for inspiring this post!.


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Zodiac

1350 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page of Writing from the Twelfth House

 

 

 

As Jupiter transits Scorpio: asking The Big Why question…and honouring the late Dawn Bodrogi

I was shocked and upset last evening to hear via astrologer Leah Whitehorse on Facebook that one of my first friends on the Web, astrologer  Dawn Bodrogi, had died. As yet, I do not know the circumstances of this (to our minds) untimely passing; Dawn was only 61 years old. Last evening, via Leah’s post, I shared Dawn’s Summer 2017 Newsletter, the last posting on her site, on my Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page. It is a moving, eloquent piece of writing in which it is clear that much of her energy in recent times has been taken up in caring for her very ill mother.

Dawn Bodrogi

Dawn Bodrogi

In it, she also disclosed that she was coming up to a progressed New Moon in Scorpio, conjunct her progressed Ascendant, and talks of a ‘new life’. It is not for us to know what form that new life will take. However, she leaves this life with our gratitude for the depth, brilliance, humanity and accessibility of her teaching.

Working with Secondary Progressions was her speciality. In my recent article on progressions published in the UK’s Astrological Journal,  I commended her work on progressions thus...’… my USA colleague Dawn Bodrogi in my estimation has done the finest recent work on the topic…’

Dawn’s Sun/Jupiter conjunction exactly conjoined my Virgo Ascendant, so philosophising was a favourite activity of ours in the early days of our blogging careers, when we spoke via skype from time to time. Her changed circumstances in recent times have unfortunately meant that we hadn’t spoken for a long time prior to her death, although we had a brief email exchange last year re my referencing her work in my article.

I thought, therefore, that a fitting tribute would be to share some of our philosophical musings via an article I wrote on my first blog Writing from the Twelfth House  to which Dawn contributed a brilliant guest post. The link to her contribution also takes you through to her site.

Dawn may not have been one of the most high-profile astrologers on the Web or social media. But she was undoubtedly one of the very best: a true astrologers’ astrologer. Here we are, musing on the antagonism which needlessly exists in our current cultural phase, between:

 The Measurers and The Metaphysicians.

William Blake ' Ancient of Days'

William Blake ‘ Ancient of Days’

http://www.artrepublic.com.

From Anne

‘…Lord Rees, president of the UK’s premier scientific organisation the Royal Society from 2005-10,  made a provocative public statement some time ago in a Sunday Times (UK) interview, featured in an article by Jonathan Leake in that newspaper on 13.06.10. He ‘suggests that the inherent intellectual limitations of humanity mean we may never resolve questions such as the existence of parallel universes, the cause of the big bang, or the nature of our own consciousness.’

Rees is ‘one of Britain’s most respected astrophysicists’. His warning, reports the article, is ‘partly prompted by the failure of scientists working on the greatest problem of modern physics – to reconcile the forces that govern the behaviour of the cosmos, including the planets and stars, with those that rule the so-called microworld of atoms and particles.’

To read this fascinating  article by Jonathan Leake, which is bound to stimulate heated debate, click ‘D’oh, we may never decode the universe’

I found it heartening: to read about such an eminent scientist exhibiting some humility was most refreshing.

In my view, we all need to be humble in measuring what little we actually know against the vastness of what we contemplate. We need all the help we can get in our attempts to make sense of a vastness which a great and respected scientist has just admitted may be beyond our comprehension. (He could be wrong, of course!) We need to co-operate with one another, as we all go about honing and sharpening the particular lenses through which we look out at mystery.

We need the perspectives of rationalist, reductionist science. But we also need the perspectives of those non-rational dimensions of the ceaseless human journey towards understanding where we came from, why we are here, and what, if anything, it all means. The great myths, the great religions, the arts – all these also give us a partial glimpse of  The Big Why.

So my Really Big Why is this: WHY can we not learn to respect each other’s different lenses/disciplines, instead of – as so often happens – descending irrationally to the primitive level of the tribal carnivores from which we have slowly evolved over the last 100,000 years, and taking up fundamentalist, tribal positions – in which the futile attempt to declare only one lens right and all others wrong, is doomed forever to utter failure?

The great and ancient art and science of astrology has combined those realms of logos (reason) and mythos (imagination, story-telling, creating of metaphors which help us to live with our deep flaws as humans, as well as celebrating our wonderful creativity) for at least six thousand years, since, in Arthur Koestler’s vivid words from “The Sleepwalkers”:

“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind  was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”

So I find it most refreshing, as a life-long appreciator of the wonders of science, to read Lord Rees’ admission that we may never be able to decode the universe. But let’s pool all our knowledge, shall we, on both sides of the current mythos/logos divide, and concentrate more on what unites us – rather than what divides us.

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At this point I would like to hand over to my friend and colleague from New York, fine astrologer, Renaissance woman (check her Bio on her site!) and keeper of The Inner Wheel blog Dawn Bodrogi, my latest Guest on “Writing from the Twelfth House”, who has just written a deep, well-informed and eloquent piece on the very theme which has been preoccupying me even more than usual of late! Over to you, Dawn…..

William Blake "Ancient of Days"

William Blake “Ancient of Days”

The Measurers versus The Metaphysicians

Dawn says : ” I don’t often get angry if I meet folks who find astrology incredulous, or even ridiculous.  I find their worship of science and technology as the answer to everything faintly ludicrous, and am happy to agree to disagree about fundamental life views.  I know my method makes sense, they know theirs does, we’re all happy.  Science is a system which proposes to impose meaning on the random and chaotic.  So does astrology. The mandate of astrology is that life has an underlying pattern we are trying to discover. So does science.  Astrology declares that there is an underlying direction that can be discerned by understanding astrology’s laws. So does science, with its laws. Both are based on mathematical principles. Looked at through a slightly skewed mirror, astrology and science have a lot in common…..”   To read the rest of this article, click HERE

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1150 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Dawn Bodrogi 2010 & 2017
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