Tag Archives: Linda Goodman

Guest post: How I became an astrologer, by Christina Rodenbeck, The Oxford Astrologer

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’
800px-Joaquín_Sorolla_-_Buscando_Mariscos,_Playa_de_Valencia
Christina says:
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.
Christina Rodenbeck
w The Oxford Astrologer
S christinaastro
fb The Oxford Astrologer
t @oxfordastrology


“… some of us are looking at the stars.”
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800px-Joaquín_Sorolla_-_Buscando_Mariscos,_Playa_de_Valencia

1100 words copyright Christina Rodenbeck/Anne Whitaker 2019

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!

Zodiac

Zodiac

1400 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Frank Clifford 2017

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