We know we must die: but do we come back?

Reincarnation: a source of perennial fascination. And, surely, a great topic to revisit as Jupiter settles into Scorpio, and Hallowe’en is almost with us…When I first came across this quotation, it made me chuckle…trust Henry Miller!

“Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant.”

Definition of reincarnation: “(in some beliefs) the rebirth of a soul in a new body.” (p 1216, The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Oxford University Press 1996)

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In Nature’s great cyclic pattern, from the tiny to the vast – gnat or galaxy – the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new. This can apply to a life cycle of a day, and to one of millions of years.They all hold another factor in common: as modern physics has taught us, nothing that dies, being composed of energy, can ever cease to exist. It merely changes form. Death is a change of  state, not an ending.

Thus modern science validates what humans have held intuitively to be the case from the beginning of our sentient, conscious awareness of ourselves in relation to the universe of which we are part. All cultures across the globe share beliefs that the souls of humans (and all beings, eg in Buddhism) continue in some form beyond physical death.Only in the narrow, brief context of western secular materialism – over the last two hundred and fifty years or so – has it been believed by some that physical death is the gateway to nothing at all, that life is a random pointless accident in space and time.

Thanks to the meticulous work of the Society for Psychical Research for over one hundred years, and indefatigable individual researchers like Professor Ian Stevenson, as well as many other reputable people, a very large body of experiential evidence is available which appears to support claims since antiquity that one life is not the sum total of our soul’s journey.

I am by nature sceptical in the true, open-minded,  sense of the word. I am happy to read and hear about other people’s experiences – but the empiricist in me demands proof via my own experience in all spheres of life, especially those which lie beyond the range of what our consensus view defines as “ordinary”.

I’ve had several uncanny experiences which remain vivid in my memory.  They do not provide proof of reincarnation, since a less unlikely explanation is that I was somehow ‘tuning in’ to residues of other lives, rather than experiencing former ones of my own. Nevertheless, they remain intriguing, and I still don’t know quite what to make of them.

Click HERE to read about my favourite…

Changing Bodies – Reincarnation

I would be interested to hear my readers’ views on this great subject which has challenged humans for millennia…do tell!

 

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As Sun and Jupiter meet in Scorpio: a tale of darkness – and healing powers arising

The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke as Jupiter was moving into Scorpio on 10th October 2017, triggering a tsunami of allegations and revelations of sexual misconduct from harassment to rape across social media. The #metoo movement began (i) on social media after a call to action by the actor Alyssa Milano, one of Weinstein’s most vocal critics.

Facebook said that within 24 hours, 4.7 million people around the world – men as well as women – engaged in the #MeToo conversation, with over 12m posts, comments, and reactions. The issue has rapidly become about much more than Harvey Weinstein. It is about  “…the ubiquity of sexual assault…” in the words of UK’s Guardian newspaper columnist, Suzanne Moore.

I contributed a couple of my own stories to the thread which developed on astrologer Leah Whitehorse’s Facebook Page, when she bravely came out and told a very frightening story of her own in which, fortunately, thanks to her level head, she was not physically harmed. When I was much younger than I am now,  on two occasions, in the cinema and then on the street in broad daylight, I hit two different men who tried to assault me.

They were so astonished at this that the first one got up and left the cinema, and the second one just stood there, his jaw having (metaphorically) hit the floor in utter shock. I realised afterwards that this had been a risky strategy. But I do have an aggressive streak if unfairly treated, and there were other people around.

The tale I am about to tell, however, could have had a very different outcome…a combination of progressed Mercury currently stationing on my third house Jupiter, and an impending Jupiter Return next year, has made me more inclined than usual to descend to Scorpio’s dark realms – as anyone perusing my current reading material would realise! But the outpouring evoked by  #MeToo has dredged up from the depths of memory an episode from my younger years which still chills me to recall.

It was mid-June, 1974, Sunday evening, around 7 pm. It had been a day for chores. I was strolling along with my washing to the launderette on the London Road in Bath, the very place where, not long before – as a young Marxist unbeliever in anything mystical or spiritual ( or so I thought then) – I had had an encounter with an astrologer which was to change my life.

A young man around my own age passed me in the street. I paid him no attention. Then I heard a voice, and turned around.

“I am so lonely”, the young man said. “If someone doesn’t talk to me, I’ll go crazy.”

As a woman, I’d always been aware of the need to protect myself, considered myself streetwise. Normally I would NEVER respond to a strange man addressing me in public like that. But there was something about the pleading, the desperation in his eyes I simply could not ignore.

“OK”, I said.” I’m heading across the road to do my laundry. You can sit there with me and chat for a bit.” He appeared grateful to the point of tears.

Almost an hour later, he had told me his story: very deprived childhood, children’s home, ran away at 16, joined a circus, worked there, travelling a great deal, for years. Fell into bad company. Drugs and alcohol, petty crime. Unemployed, on the streets. Hit rock bottom. Then found Jesus. Now saved.

“Jesus loves you,” he kept saying. “Jesus saved me too.”

To me, he didn’t look very Saved, and I was beginning to wonder what to do next. I didn’t want him to know that I lived nearby. “D’you fancy a pint?” I said. “There’s a nice pub just up the road.” Safety in numbers, perhaps. He was delighted, and off we set, walking slowly whilst he talked some more. I hadn’t asked his name, nor told him mine. It was cold, rainy, no-one about.

Suddenly, before I could register what was happening, he grabbed me, dragging me into a dark alley running off the main pavement. He pinned me to the wall. I went cold. Fortunately that’s what I do if I’m ever in a crisis. I didn’t scream, didn’t struggle. Instead, I put my arms up behind him, and started gently stroking his back, saying quietly:

“You don’t need to do this, you’re just going to scare me. We still have lots to say to each other. Please just let me go…” I repeated this a couple of times more, and his hands, which had been on my throat, dropped to his sides.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” he kept repeating tearfully. “I don’t know what came over me…”

“It’s ok”, I said calmly, whilst mentally calculating what the hell to do next. “You’re just tired. Let’s go and have that pint.”

As we continued our walk to the pub, and he continued to talk, I worked out a plan. I’d get our drinks, then tell him I always called my parents on a Sunday night; would he mind looking after my washing whilst I nipped out and made a quick call? Then I’d phone my friends Sue and Hugh who lived in the next street to the pub, and hope like hell they were at home.

The plan worked, and my friends were in – I almost cried with sheer relief to hear Hugh’s voice.  “Get round to the pub right away, it’s an emergency – will fill you in later. When you see me with a dishevelled-looking young guy, look very surprised and ask what was I doing drinking the night before going back to work. Ok?”

I pretended to be just as surprised as they were. My guest looked most uncomfortable, excused himself to go to the toilet, and disappeared. Sue and Hugh escorted me home to my flat just across the road, offering to stay the night, which I declined. Security was good in the flat, and I would call them if anything untoward occurred.

Having slept pretty fitfully, I turned on the radio at 7am as usual, to help me surface and get ready for work. The first item on the news was this: in the early hours of the morning, a young woman had been murdered in Bristol. They gave a description of the man they wished to interview in connection with the incident. It fitted my last evening’s companion exactly.

By this time, I was shaking so hard I could barely get myself to the college in which I was teaching English at the time. I told the Principal, who gave me a severe dressing-down for my folly – as he saw it. We then called the police, and I gave a statement. But they never contacted me again. Although I listened intently to the news for many weeks afterwards, to the best of my knowledge the man who murdered that poor young woman, was never found.

16 June 1974

Anne W: 16 June 1974. Progressed Outer, Natal Inner wheel ( click to enlarge)

This week is the first time I have ever looked at the astrology of that fateful Sunday. I remain convinced that if I hadn’t somehow kept my cool and reacted as I did, I would have been the one who died. It is an extremely uncomfortable feeling to be grateful for your own life, knowing that the way you reacted may well have paved the way for someone else’s death…

The astrology, I think, is very graphic both for the darkness and dangerous challenge of the situation and for the ‘healing powers’ which meant that I survived. I’ve only put up the progressions with my natal horoscope, because although I’m pretty sure it was mid-June, it may have been mid-May which would have altered the transits but not the progressions  – apart from the Progressed Moon by about one degree.

Clearly, with the Progressed Moon on the Mercury/SaturnPluto midpoint, I was in for some potent, dark,  potentially life-changing encounters – you can see the potential peril in those significators. However, years later when I knew some astrology I truly thanked my natal Mercury SaturnPluto conjunction. If anything gives you the tough-mindedness coolly to survive most of what life chucks at you, that line-up does!

But the links with natal third house Jupiter in Scorpio tell a very different story. The first house Sun/Venus conjunction makes an emotionally supportive sextile to eleventh house Mars in Cancer, and they all together form a Minor Grand Trine with Jupiter. In the wonderful words of the German poet Holderlin, no stranger to dark experiences himself:

“…Where there is darkness, the healing powers also rise…”.

 I was probably foolish that day in the kindness I offered to an unknown, troubled stranger. It may nearly have cost me my life. But I do believe, looking at the astrology, that my protective angels were watching over me in that encounter. They certainly manifested that day in the shape of my good friends. I have long lost touch with them, but I will never forget them.

___________

Endnotes:

(i) from  Lisa Meyerson on Leah Whitehorse’s Facebook Share of  the above post yesterday 26.10.17: “This is great. I have one correction, if you don’t mind. The #metoo campaign was originally started by a woman named Tarana Burke:https://www.democracynow.org/…/meet_tarana_burke_the…

 

 

Zodiac

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

1550 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s New Moon tomorrow: we’re still in the Dark Moon…

Today I had a most interesting encounter with a 37 year old client in the last year of the Moondark phase of her Progressed New Moon which began nearly thirty years ago when she was nine years old. She and her family relocated then. A year from now, with her Progressed New Moon in Sagittarius, it is likely that she will relocate again.

Being able to place the unfolding pattern of her life in this cyclic context felt supportive and comforting to my client…’…To every thing there is a season...’, as the old biblical saying goes. The encounter has inspired me to share a post from my archives, not only talking about our monthly Moondark, where we are now, but also that powerfully descriptive symbolic cycle of the Progressed New Moon.

Enjoy! 

The web is full of articles about the upcoming  New Moon. New Moons always attract our attention, which indeed they merit. However – the Balsamic lunar phase, where we are now, does not attract nearly as much upfront focus. It should, in my view…and I am not alone here!

The Sun/Moon Month

The Sun/Moon Month

That fine, poetic astrological writer Dana Gerhardt has this to say: ‘As the final phase in the lunation cycle, the Balsamic Moon is the monthly “sleep time”. During the three to four days of this phase, vitality and spirit are replenished, fueling your start at the next New Moon….if you could observe just one Moon phase per cycle, this should be the one… ‘ (my emphasis)

Our increasingly frenetic 24/7 culture, revved up in recent years as it has been by the arrival and increasing dominance of social media, does not encourage us to build a few days of rest and recovery into each month. Can you imagine the average boss’s reaction to the statement “I’m having retreat time now. It’s Moondark. Bye!!”  And yet: we all know what happens if we run ourselves too hard without adequate rest, for too long. For some of us – and I speak from hard personal experience here, folks! – the price can be very high.

So – what is this Balsamic lunar phase, and what is Moondark? Why should we pay it attention? As can be seen from the above image, there are eight key phases in the monthly lunar cycle, flowing from the New to the Balsamic Moon. A good summary of each and what they mean can be found HERE.

The Balsamic lunar phase begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun –  that beautiful, fragile, slender waning crescent moon which we may see each month if the skies are clear. Then it disappears. We are in Moondark now, the latter part of the Balsamic phase, the last couple of days of the dying energy of the previous month’s New Moon.

waning crescent Moon

waning crescent Moon

My aim in this short post is to give you a flavour of three key facets pertaining to the Balsamic phase, and Moondark in particular. Hopefully that will stimulate you enough to do your own reflection/research. Those facets are:  the Balsamic phase of each monthly lunar cycle throughout the year; those people born on the Balsamic Moon; and the thirty-year progressed Sun/Moon cycle, where the final, Balsamic phase lasts 3-4 years.

The Monthly cycle – Balsamic phase

Having been born in the Balsamic phase, in Moondark just before a Leo New Moon, I have long been aware of the few days before any New Moon as a special time, a contemplative time: a time to take stock both collectively and personally. Those of us who wish and need to retreat regularly to preserve our balance and well-being tend to be regarded as odd by mainstream society, where ‘time out’ is increasingly hard to find, and is not supported by the culture as a whole.

But humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.

Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.

It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the Balsamic moon time to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us. I certainly find myself feeling more ‘scratchy’ and irritable than usual during Balsamic times, if Life demands that I put myself under more pressure than my spirit wants or needs. It would be interesting to know if other folk feel like this too, at the end of the lunar cycle, before New Moon energy comes in and takes form.

Born on the Balsamic Moon

I have found both from my own life and the lives of clients and students with whom I have worked over the years, that being born in the Balsamic moon phase, and especially during Moondark, the very end of the old cycle, brings with it a contemplative nature, an ‘inner’ orientation, a need to give oneself more space and retreat than most people seem to need. Whilst doing some reading around this topic today, I found this quote which certainly spoke to me, and which may speak to some of you who were born in the Balsamic phase:

‘…This time is essentially one of transition, a chance to contemplate what has passed, tie up loose ends, journey inwards, and prepare for new beginnings ahead.  You have inherited the meditative and introspective characteristics of this phase and yours is a dreamy, contemplative personality. Intuitive and far-sighted, you have innate wisdom and a mystical understanding of the workings of Mother Nature and of the human condition.  For you, activity is spiritual and intellectual rather than physical.  Your experiences involve endings and passings, so you are likely to live through many changes.  Later life, rather than the earlier years, holds the key to your happiness and success...’

TransAngeles – thanks for this sensitive and perceptive comment!

The 30-year Progressed Sun/Moon cycle

I use this cycle as a very helpful guide to the stage of their life phase clients are in when they come for a consultation. When a cycle is coming to an end, when the 3-4 year Balsamic period of life is upon us, then the wisest course to take is that of stepping back, turning inwards, taking stock…and waiting – until the Progressed New Moon arrives, and forward motion, the gradual taking shape of a new life phase, gradually begins. Just as farmers do not plant new crops in winter, so we are wise not to begin a new project during the Balsamic moon phase or its end phase, Moondark.

Here is Dana Gerhardt again, with her words of wisdom:

“When will it end?” is everybody’s first question on learning they’ve entered a progressed Balsamic phase. No matter how colorfully I paint its virtues, they peer beyond to a bleaker landscape, to a three-to-four-year sentence of all loss and no gain. I can see it in their eyes…. I tell them this is the richest spiritual time. I tell them when my own progressed Balsamic phase was over, I had nostalgia for it. I cheer: “You will too!” But it’s a tough sell….”

I would certainly endorse this from my own experience of beginning a new journey when I was approaching the end of a whole 30-year cycle. The result was a long period of enforced retreat until the Progressed New Moon told me it was time to emerge and begin again. It was an enriching and deepening time. But very tough whilst it was happening. I should have taken astrology’s advice, not that of my own ego!

There is a great deal more to be said about this fascinating and important life phase which lies behind the New Moon. I do hope this short post piques your interest sufficiently to devote more attention to it in future!

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

1450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

What is my job as an astrologer?

Every so often, someone asks me what I think my job as an astrologer is. It’s a good question – it makes me ‘return to base’, as it were, and set out the basics again, both for the questioner – and for my own benefit.

Here goes!.

Anne W 2017

Anne W 2017

My  job as an astrologer is to help other people understand themselves more clearly. I don’t know what the balance is between fate and free will any more than any one else does. But the Birth Chart or Horoscope suggests strongly that we come into this world, not as tabulae rasae blank slates)  but with certain characters on the stage poised to live out a complex drama as the process of our life unfolds from birth to death. 

What astrologers cannot do is describe the whole range of possibilities of expression which arise from each core character on the stage.

There appears to be a dynamic relationship between what you have been given through family physical and psychological inheritance ( the Old Norse word for fate also means genitals!), location, social status, and your own choices in what you do with those givens.

I think that effective astrologers in consultation are poised on the interface between fate and free will – on the one hand helping clients to confirm who they are, which they probably already know, if they are honest with themselves; but on the other hand helping them to see, and to broaden, the range of possible expression of the energies with which they have been born.

The astrologer’s ego should have a minimal influence on the process of reading another person’s horoscope. It’s impossible to keep ego completely out of it. It’s impossible to be completely objective, to avoid making mistakes; but what the person takes away should be as much theirs, and as little the astrologers, as is possible.

To maximise this outcome I feel it is very important to have my work regularly supervised by an experienced and well-qualified colleague. I am fortunate in this to have the support of a very experienced astrologer who is also a psychodynamic psychotherapist and writer. She has known me, my foibles, my weaknesses and my strengths over a very long period of time.

I  look at the relationship between the patterns present in clients’ natal horoscopes and how that relates to the here-and-now patterns of the planets in the heavens. I’m also very interested in setting clients’ lives in the context of the unfolding stages of the 11-12 year Jupiter cycles and the 29-30 year Saturn cycles, as well as the progressed New Moons, which also occur in thirty-year periods. My experience is that setting their lives in the context of the bigger pictures, and taking guidance from that, is both comforting, supportive and helpful to people who consult me.

I’m only interested in working with clients who are prepared to take responsibility for themselves in relation to the way in which their inner world is connected to the unfolding of their outer life. Astrology appropriately used should enhance the sense of personal responsibility – not take it away and hang it on the planets, or even worse, on the astrologer !

In my view it is important for people not to become too dependent on a symbolic context – astrology and astrologers like relationships, drugs, sex, alcohol or the national lottery can become highly addictive. The great symbolic arts, eg astrology, tarot, palmistry , I Ching, should be consulted with deep respect, and with considerable restraint.

                    In sum – I think it is my job is to send people away feeling more able to operate constructively and honestly in their world than when they came in, by supporting their courage and confidence to lead their own lives – using their own judgement. 

Zodiac

Zodiac

650 words copyright Anne Whitaker

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

 

Do you find astrology – or does it find you?

Continuing the theme of how we came to astrology, stimulated by Frank Clifford’s brilliant guest post last week, here as promised are edited extracts from some of the varied and interesting stories my readers kindly shared. I’ve also included a couple of my own replies, the latter of which should leave you with no doubt regarding my misspent youth!  I love the  variety of these stories, and really appreciate readers’ having taken the trouble to share them. Space precludes me from sharing them all here  – but you can find some more intriguing tales on my  Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page.

The post concludes with a five-minute interview I did a few weeks ago with Lush Radio’s Andrew Paine, confessing that I too was an ignorant astrology dismisser – until the day I encountered the real thing, a day which was to change my life, although I didn’t realise that at the time! 

Talking astrology, mediaeval style!

Talking astrology, mediaeval style!

Carole Bone, from Glasgow, Scotland, UK:

‘…It was great to read Frank’s story and so amazing that it is illustrated so beautifully in his chart. My path was first stimulated by that wonderfully ostentatious icon of popular “Sun Sign astrology”, UK’s Russell Grant. Having acquired a small book of his that described planets, signs, houses, rising signs, nodes etc I was intrigued to find that my Virgo Rising Sign and Cancer Moon sign was soooo accurate. I had never resonated with Sagittarius, my Sun sign, though that did irk me somewhat for some reason… it all makes perfect sense now I’ve “grown in to my Sun sign”… as you do…’

Brenda Lee Johnson:

‘…My early childhood was in northern Canada, in the province of Manitoba. My parents had what would almost be considered a trading post. I found it very difficult to be inside the house and spent much time outside looking at the sky, the magic of it, the darkness, the mystery. We had many animals around, domesticated and otherwise. A very elemental upbringing. Considered to be “unorganized territory” yet so rich in texture. Not “organized” or ” civilized”. In other words it had a “wildness”, a freedom. To find out later, in shamanic Astrology training that my moon was in Scorpio and that indicated a shamanic past, made so much sense. My orientation thus, was to be the explorer of the cosmos and live in the world using those early developed senses to try to understand how people and the world worked.

I first began with the Linda Goodman versions then proceeded to go deeply into Astro psychology with Liz Greene, Dane Rudyar, Reinhold Ebertin, etc. All filled a gap in thinking at different times. I studied shamanic Astrology near my Chiron return, realizing Chiron was conjunct my Moon but in Sagittarius rather than Scorpio. I am continuously in awe and wonder of this powerful symbolic system, much of which to me is unexplainable – although eg James Hillman, Stanislav Grof, Richard Tarnas certainly bridge understandings…’

Lunar Cycle

Lunar Cycle

Lindel Barker-Revell:

‘…I was fascinated to read Frank’s astrological journey too. I admire his work and have attended a few of his lectures here in Oz. It’s strange how we are led to our path. I grew up in Tasmania where a dim view was taken of anything outside of a fairly rigid religious norm. However, the 60s did even reach Hobart and we had an influx of different thinking and beliefs. I met my first palm reader in 1969 and I began to learn what I could. I moved to Sydney in 1974 and after a few years I began to learn astrology at the first “school” in Paddington. What a journey!…’

Anne: Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving this interesting feedback, Lindel. I, too, grew up in a part of the world where there was a strong fundamentalist (protestant) ethos: but the wildness of the landscape and weather, and the clarity of the night skies and stars, invoked in me from early on a decidedly pagan sensibility which has never left me, leaving me open to all kinds of perspectives on interconnectedness. So I guess it was inevitable that astrology would eventually find me…

Rena Hdesign:

‘…Reading these, I feel I must share my story too! After spending the bulk of my life fighting my way through the challenges of the particular archetypal energies indicated by my birth chart, it is no big surprise that astrology finally claimed me heavily about 5 years ago. My 1st big step into the “occult”, (as it was known in the bookshop’s section back then) was to have an astrological reading. Although I don’t remember much – the astrologer’s reaction to my chart scared me a bit – I was fascinated and tried to begin studies. But it wasn’t time and there were too many fears dogging my mind to be able to maintain the type of objectivity necessary to do justice to the symbolism – so I went into massage and energy work.

Working with people at that level forced me out of the mental/intellectual and I spent many years learning to hold internal silence/space for others as witness to their processes as I gradually got through the personal challenges. Twenty five years later, being in a good place in life, there was obvious need for a further challenge – and that is where I finally found Dane Rudhyar, Liz Greene, Bil Tierny, Stephen Arroyo and many others through people like Anne Whitaker, Dawn Bodrogi and Frank Clifford’s guidance & stellar example…’

Questions, cosmic questions!

Questions, cosmic questions!

 David A Jones:

‘…My parents had my chart done when I was born, but I never got much of an interpretation. When I was 16 I took my first pay check from my first “real” job and bought half a dozen astrology books; from there I taught myself, math and all…’

Anne:That’s impressive, David. What a good way of spending your first wages…much better than booze, clothes and cigs which I seem dimly to recall was mostly what I did with mine in my early days!

AND – here is my five minutes of fame on Lush Radio:

http://player.lush.com/radio/turning-point-anne-whitaker

Zodiac

Zodiac

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker

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

Guest post: How I became an astrologer…by Frank Clifford

I run an occasional series here in which well-known astrologers tell the always intriguing tale of how they became involved in astrology. I’m delighted this week to be featuring a distinguished guest, a star of the astrology world, on my blog: the UK’s very own Frank Clifford, prolific author, editor and world-wide teacher, who has run the London School of Astrology for the last fifteen years. 

Enjoy Frank’s story!

Frank Clifford

Frank Clifford

Anne invited me last year to write a brief ‘How I became an Astrologer’ piece and it’s taken me all this time to sit down, ignore the other deadlines on my desk, and think of something I haven’t said before in an interview. I’m not quite sure I’ve succeeded in that last aim, but here goes.

I grew up in the 1970s and 80s with a very political, Pluto-type father who was a respected and feared personal injury solicitor (long before they were unlikely stars of ambulance-chasing adverts). My dad was so contrary and difficult that, even if the legal system had interested me (and I did study Law at A Level), I was never going to follow in his footsteps. Instead, I wanted to teach, be an architect, or write TV drama (I later did a degree in media studies, and my first extra-curricular job was writing comedy at the local BBC Radio York).

My mum has Sun–Mars in Aries and Moon-Jupiter in Libra and she eventually went into the legal system, too, but in my adolescence I shared her fascination with psychics and anyone who might predict the future. By fifteen I’d chosen to immerse myself in the more interesting world of the unknown. Or perhaps it chose me. I had grown up hearing mum’s stories of psychics that she and her friends visited. There were fascinating tales of predictions of moves abroad, foreign marriages and even a car accident. I had also loved the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and longed to have his special talent of reading symbols and predicting the future!

I didn’t seem much like an Aries at fifteen – much more like my Virgo Moon and Saturn rising. I was a shy, good boy who appeared overly serious to others. But when reading Linda Goodman, Teri King and Bernard Fitzwalter (Eccles), I aspired to be the Aries they described in their books.

In mid August 1989, on the day of a lunar eclipse in Aquarius (I write this now at the lunar eclipse in Aquarius some 28 years later), my mum and I visited Tad Mann, who was based in London at the time, and we both had readings with him. Tad’s Life*Time Astrology is fascinating but not the easiest introduction to the subject for a sixteen year old. Nevertheless, I took my chart home that afternoon with one of his books and taught myself the glyphs and began self-study. (I took a correspondence course with one astrology school but the assignments were so formulaic and the approach so rigid, I wasn’t inspired.)

One of my great discoveries around that time was the Electric Ephemeris shop in Caledonian Road, run at the time by Brian and Ananda. I bought a copy of the programme and picked up Lois Rodden’s Profiles of Women, which was a treasure trove of charts, biographies and observations. Soon after, Paul Wright’s book Astrology in Action entered my life. Thanks to these books and working with people like Lois, much of my astrology developed by reading a biography in one hand and looking for ‘why’ and ‘where’ in the horoscope in my other hand.

Thanks to my mother’s masseuse, I was introduced to Amrito (Derek Hawkins) and visited his place in Sheldon Avenue, NW London, to explore his floor chart with his students. The Astrology Shop had just opened, too, and I spent many an hour browsing and buying books there. The end of the 1980s/early 1990s was a burgeoning time for astrology – lots of classes, talks, conferences and new students. In fact, many of the people I now work alongside began astrology during these years.

As I taught myself ‘real astrology’ (a regrettable term to suggest going beyond Sun signs), it was easy to be embarrassed by Russell Grant’s camp, over-the-top TV appearances or snooty when watching Cainer’s limp defence of the subject when challenged by sceptics like James Randi. But on TV, it was harder than it looked. I never took up the challenge of defending astrology on TV or radio, although writing about my other subject of palmistry meant I was often asked on TV or radio to read hands and defend that subject.

I also steered clear of lecturing on either subject until around my Saturn return. I was too shy and probably a bit fearful of ‘who does he think he is?’ comments. Having Mars (conjunct Jupiter) on the Midheaven, it would have been easy to appear like a young upstart, which no doubt I did to some. Funnily enough, just before I gave my first lecture for the Lodge, the German woman introducing me said, rather cattily, ‘Your bio says you wrote your first book at 24. My friends and I all agree that no one knows anything about astrology until after their Saturn return.’ I asked if she knew that Liz Greene had written Saturn at the age of 28.

Yes, some years before, I had published a book on the birth data and biographies of British entertainers and published other people’s books, too. It took a while to even consider writing a ‘proper’, full book on astrology. Writing two on palmistry was much easier because you’d be on the bookshelf with some unscientific twaddle and scary nonsense – a sensible, psychological approach can stand out among them. But with astrology, you’ll be on the shelf with Liz Greene, Rob Hand, Melanie Reinhart and Howard Sasportas – and you need to earn the right to be there!

I used to joke ‘I love astrology but don’t like astrologers’ and what I really meant was that I didn’t want to get wrapped up in the political and ego battles that I watched taking place in our community (even worse now with online forums and Facebook groups). Joining a committee seemed to bring out the worst in people. I used to hear about people plotting and scheming and wondered, ‘What for? To be the president of an association no one inside or outside of astrology cares much about?’ To this day, I’ve avoided committees – it’s guaranteed my survival and sanity. And it suits my Aries nature to do things by myself. I joke that I’m a ‘benevolent dictator’ – I hire people to teach, pay them on time and do my best to treat them with kindness and respect. My dad had a good philosophy that he turned into a song, ‘If you don’t like me, then leave me alone.’ I hang around the people I like being with, and stick to compliments-only when I write on Facebook.

I’ve just published my new website and on there is a chronology of much of what I’ve done over the years (http://frankclifford.co.uk/chronology/). Dozens of books, magazines, around a thousand lectures/talks/seminars, and trips to a dozen countries in the past few years. I’ve written, researched, published, lectured, consulted, and edited books and magazines – almost everything you can do in astrology. Why? Because I wanted to try everything and visit everywhere at least once. It’s been a true labour of love, so it’s never felt like ‘real’ work. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to do it when young and energetic enough.

I compiled the chronology to remind me of what I’ve done when I’m asked to write biographies for books and lectures! There are some crazy, fun things on there like ‘reading Saddam Hussein’s hands’ (not quite, but check it out to see what I mean) and advising Universal Studios, working on television pilots and documentaries, and all sorts of travel adventures. A lot of people have come into my life in these years and some of the brightest people I know are astrologers. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been teaching and running the LSA in a building that overlooks my birthplace in London (University College Hospital). So much for going places in life!

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1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Frank Clifford 2017

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

Neptune and that elusive “Elsewhere”…

‘The human comedy doesn’t attract me enough. I am not entirely of this world….I am from elsewhere. And it is worth finding this elsewhere beyond the walls. But where is it?’(i)

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The Big Why?

The pull of elsewhere has dominated my life. As a child, lying tucked up cosy and warm in bed, listening to the wind beyond our walls tearing the world apart, I used to luxuriate in the contrast between in here and out there – and wonder where the Power came from to cause the winds to rage, and the sea to beat endlessly against the coastline of my native island.

No doubt my wonder at the waxing and waning of the moon as she sailed the sky at night in her ever-changing rhythm, weaving her way amongst the stars shining in their mysterious patterns in the clear nights of winter, spun a thread deep in my mind and heart, much later to be woven into my passion for the ancient art of astrology.

My ‘real’ life in childhood – eating, sleeping, going to school – was incidental to my inner life which was full of the really interesting questions: why are we alive, where do we go after death, do we live on several planes of existence at once, what is happening in other galaxies, if there are x million Catholics and even more Buddhists and Hindus, how come they are all Wrong and Damned and a few thousand members of the Free Church of Scotland are Right and Saved?

These issues, fed by reading, preoccupied me for years.

It would take me a long time to understand and accept that my obsession with the big “Why?” , from the moment I opened my eyes to the world,  is not the norm for most of humanity. Sensibly, they just want a quiet uncomplicated life.

Apart from my maternal grandfather, a loving and very broad-minded Christian – ‘remember, child: whatever our race, colour or creed we are all God’s children’– nobody knew what went on in my head and heart throughout my entire childhood.

There is no such thing as one biography of a life.

Your perspective changes with the passage of time and the way life’s inevitable challenges are dealt with. You rewrite your own history in your head all the time, mostly without realising it. For example, I never understood the full extent of elsewhere’s pull until my mid-life descent into and return from the Underworld, a period which lasted seven years – undoubtedly the most difficult and the richest time of my whole life. I feel in better relation now to that mysterious elsewhere than I have ever been !

To me, elsewhere is the vast wave of which everything – universe, cosmos, galaxies, planets, Earth, all life forms – is a droplet. We arise from elsewhere, and that is where we return. Call it the quantum vacuum, the Zero Point Field, God, Buddha, Krishna, the Ground of our being, the Source, the One, the Twelfth House: the name we give it does not matter.

I have also learned that elsewhere is not somewhere else. It is here, present, now, everywhere – always.

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Endnotes

(i)  from Eugene Ionesco:quoted in Philip Yancey’s “Reaching for the Invisible God” p25)

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2017

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