When I first started studying astrology, I discovered a guy named David Roell, who had an astrology bookstore in southern California. This was during the winter of 1994-1995. I didn’t have astrology software; David had a chart casting service that I used copiously. He had every book you could imagine, and I spent most of my money casting charts and purchasing books.
I would do this by phone. Dave had a lot to say. He was lonely where he was, I think around Oxnard somewhere, in a neighborhood without a lot of people. My calls to him would turn into extensive astrology classes.
I would call his toll-free number, 1-800-475-2272, night after night, and get donated lessons the entire winter, each of which went on as long as I could keep going. I learned a lot of astrology from Dave. He explained every book he sold me, and answered my questions on many, many charts.
He had read a lot of books. I am sure he holds the unofficial world’s record in English for reading astrology books. The benefit of that, among others, is that he could navigate around the history of astrological ideas and traditions. This was mingled with his love of music, as a listener and as a composer. I think he may have identified as a musician first and astrologer second.
He was also a repository of knowledge about Eastern religion, various matters of psychic affairs, Blavatsky, occultism in general, ghosts, reincarnation, UFOs and numerous other subject areas, and had something intelligent to say about all of it. More than being an opinionist, which he definitely was, he was a theorist. That is what Aquarius is famous for — coming up with theories. Usually they were interesting; sometimes they were funny — he believed that Porphyry houses should be banned. Everyone should know someone like this.
Before I went to Egypt, he cautioned that if someone (for a little money) offered to get me the opportunity to sleep inside the Great Sphinx, not do to it, owing to the potential for some severe energetic impact. He was generally cautious about encounters with people we’ve known in past lives, contrary to New Age thinking that we’re all good old buddies (some of us are, some of us are not, and not everyone wants to clear their karma with people from the past).
He also warned me about some untrustworthy people in the astrological community, filled me in on numerous points of backstory I would have had no other way to find out, and explained the political ropes of the profession. Starting way back at the beginning, I had some vital intel and took it under advisement, paying attention but never publishing a word of it. He was also the source of many contacts for me — he knew everyone’s email dating back to the beginning of the medium, and their phone number. Every astrology journalist should know someone like this.
Then after these conversations, all night I worked for the Jackie Stallone Psychic Circle reading tarot cards. That winter was one of the most interesting times of my life. Mars was retrograde in Leo and Virgo. Pluto was in the very last degree of Scorpio. The Uranus-Neptune conjunction was beginning to drift apart. That winter and spring is one of the few times I am actually nostalgic about.
One day at the end of a phone call, he said, “OK, you’re ready. Hang out your shingle and be an astrologer. Charge $50 an hour. And don’t undersell your tarot. Charge the same for that.” And that was it. He had graduated me. This was some time in early 1995.
I was determined to be an astrologer and clearly it was meant to be. I had seven years of preparation, therapy, spiritual training and esoteric studies including tarot prior to these conversations, but still, astrology is not exactly easy and it’s a big responsibility. I am not sure I would have had the confidence after just one year of focused study to do it professionally.
So I hung out my shingle, printed postcards, started writing a horoscope column in a little newspaper called Free Time, and that was pretty much that.
I have always found the astrologers I resonate with to be generous with their knowledge; I could make a long list, and it was those examples that influenced me to model my career the way that I have. But David was a little unusual and never seemed to run out of time for me. Over the past 19 years I’ve called him countless times, any time I had a difficult case or needed to get some insight on an astrological issue, especially involving horary.
When I arrived in my godmother’s hometown in Sicily, I put my feet on the ground, recorded the time, called him and gave him the horary data and he faxed back one of the most interesting charts I’ve ever seen to my little motel in Piazza Armerina — one of the charts that proves astrology.
Speaking of horary, it was David who made the point that you can find out anything you need to know from horary astrology, which is the astrology of the hour, usually of a question. He is the person who recommended that I read The Moment of Astrology, a book about horary, which is one of my favorite books, ever.
He was always at his desk, answered on the first ring, and said, “Hello Eric Francis.” I continued to buy books from him, some for myself but mostly for students and Planet Waves staff members and friends. David was the person to go to; my credit card was always on file.
He was one of a very few people I could go to for detailed information about the book Christian Astrology by William Lilly, the first astrological textbook written in English, of which he was the most recent publisher, and translator of the book into modern English, and of all the charts into modern charts.
This week he ran out of time. A few minutes ago I got an email from his wife Elizabeth saying that David had died. She sent the last edition of his weekly newsletter. He is also survived by a young daughter.
In one of our last conversations, he said that he wanted to preserve his astrological knowledge, particularly in spoken word recordings rather than written materials because he felt that this was the more powerful way to teach.
I am aware that David grated on certain people, and expressed some views that people found strange and hurtful. He had some carefully chosen enemies and some not so carefully chosen. I knew, which is to say I had met, that hyper-catty side of him a couple of times, but that never deterred me from being his friend. He had strong opinions and seemed not to care what other people would think, though I am sure he did. His kind of intellect has a lot of emotion behind it. That is Aquarius for you.
My sense of what he was going through was the fear that his life would not matter; that all his study and theories and teachings would not mean anything. David meant a lot to me, his nuts and bolts approach to astrology helped shape my own, and his faith in me as an astrologer has a lot to do with why I am an actual, practicing astrologer today. I considered whatever he said whether I agreed with him or not, and made up my own mind, which was just fine with him. That’s exactly what a teacher is for.
26 thoughts on “Thank you David Roell”
I’m so sorry to hear this. I just tried calling him today to order some books and had a bad feeling when I heard the number was out of service. Now I wish I hadn’t emailed him as I don’t like to think of causing his wife any more distress. I’m glad I found your post about him. I’m a vedic astrologer but I always loved his newsletters, especially the articles about astrologers like Lilly. He also had a strong knowledge of history. He was clearly a brilliant man. I’m sorry for your loss.
Copy/pasted: “As evidence, his last two essays from his weekly newsletter on the life and death of Jesus. I’m sure he chose these specifically for his parting thoughts. ‘All pompous intellects, like myself, frustrated with their pathetic lives, eventually go mad and set themselves impossible goals. To propose a chart for Jesus is insane hubris.’ And then he does it!”
…It was a post on JC’s birth time (elsewhere) that led me to discover Dave has passed…
I met Dave in NYC around the early 2000s (maybe 1998 even) and, yes, had the same experience that others had— freely talked about technique/advice/educating, stocked the best books available anywhere in my opinion…
I am pleased to see a positive memorial left to him… Thank you.
And…did Dave give his birth info to Anyone?? (Did even his wife have it?? Kidding–)
Yes, a remarkable man who will be sorely missed…
I waited for the usual Monday newsletter, it did not come. Tuesday I sent a email – no answer. The next Monday no newsletter again. I sent another email and his wife responded he had passed. In our last conversations we talked about karma and reincarnation. “Ask for forgiveness to everyone you have offended.” “Forgive those that trespassed against you.”
“Decide who you want to be and what you want to be in your next life.” Work towards that goal and don’t accumulate any more karma.
My first astrology book was Margaret Hones, Modern Textbook of Astrology, this was 1963 in San Francisco. Gavin Arthur was in the same Sufi group I was in, Sufi Sam’s. A lot of books and teachers have floated under the bridge since the 1960s, but there was never a better teacher than David Roell. He could summarize the way to do a chart in a few words.
I am 76 now and what I know what I want in my next life – to know and be a friend of David Roell, wherever he is.
The July 29th newsletter, last page at the very bottom, he thanks me and another lady for sending him a donation. That to me portends a very clear message – yes, I will know David Roell in our next life.
I miss you David and your wonderful newsletter. Until next time….
Having been ill the past few weeks, today I realized I hadn’t received David’s weekly newsletter. I immediately knew something had happened to him. I also enjoyed many phone conversations with him. Thank you for posting this. It is a beautiful tribute.
Thank you for this article about David Roell. I emailed Dave @ his website late this afternoon and received a reply that he is gone. I, too, chatted with him by phone when he lived in the Santa Barbara area. He recommended my first astrology books to me and was always so generous with his time. At that time, he would talk on the phone while making bread in his bread machine. He will be missed by so many people whose lives he touched.
lad to read that you are so pleased (and grateful to be so fortunate) to have known David Roell as a mentor during this era. Sending best condolences through the aethers to you with extra-compassionate healing E. if your heart would appreciate that softening…
Also, if not too much to ask, please would you blog (or email me @yahoo) the Author’s name for the book called: The Moment in Astrology – a book that you have enjoyed for horary studies.
always with loving thoughts, anaellapmc
Eric, wondering if you have also been able to do an horary reading of David’s final moments here. Would it reveal where he had excelled, what he had chosen to develop or leave fallow, the changes of course in his lifetime, and what may have remained a challenge(s)–in other words, an inner view of the sum of his life’s experience?
Thank you, this story is invaluable to myself and all students of Astrology. This incredible relationship between student and teacher is archetypical of what we all seek from the Heavenly Bodies. Your friendship with David is transcendent of creation, indeed it is in the stars.
This is such a beautiful tribute to your mentor, dear Eric. I join the other heartfelt comments here. Much love and light to David and his family.
It is always beautiful to read about a human in ALL their glory. All parts of their personality and psyche – the good , the bad, the ornery, the confusing, the generous, the hurtful , the magnificent. It makes David’s spirit so much more present and interesting for those of us who meet him only through you Eric. Thank you
DAVID RIP and thank you for all and to all for such deep and lovely sharing. We are blessed. Aho!
No loss is greater than that of a teacher whose dedication has been your guiding light. May he rest knowing you carry forth his wit and wisdom.
Thank you Eric; what a beautiful send off for what feels like an important influence in your life, and by extension, all of ours.
I feel that mentoring quality in your writing; your open-minded perspective and solution oriented disposition showers us with Chironic sustenance.
I love that Chiron is rising in David’s time of passing from here and, escorting him to “what’s next”.
Inspiring on so many levels. Thank you Eric!
Dave always had a lot to say. The difference with Dave was, it was worth hearing even if you didn’t agree with him.
He was not everybody’s cup of tea, I know, but the email of his passing shocked me and sent me running to the women’s bathroom at the library for a good sob. I did not agree with all Dave’s opinions, but he was a really fine teacher, sometimes irascible, iconoclastic, often misanthropic scholar and consummate theorist. And still totally, totally readable. In an industry that thrives on “love and light” waffle, he was a welcome antidote.
I shouldn’t be this surprised, honestly. He spoke openly about his heart troubles and the challenges ahead: Jupiter’s ingress to Leo, then the Sun, and Mars following to square it likely did in his heart. I’m sure he knew it was very very possible the end was coming. As evidence, his last two essays from his weekly newsletter on the life and death of Jesus. I’m sure he chose these specifically for his parting thoughts. “All pompous intellects, like myself, frustrated with their pathetic lives, eventually go mad and set themselves impossible goals. To propose a chart for Jesus is insane hubris.” And then he does it! And it’s spectacular in it’s humanity and insight. (I believe he was Taurus rising, which accounts for his great attention to the mundane features of life; how the prosaic helps and hinderances shape us.) Not only is the subject of the essays worthy of his final story, but, knowing Dave, he wrote them specifically to teach us that astrology works. He picked the subject specifically for his last; when you think it’s a good chance you’re gonna go, do the thing — the most hubristic, insane thing — you’ve longed to attempt and go for it. TA DA.
The last essay ends, “Jesus’ horrible death was the summation of his earlier choices. He had freely cast himself upon the waters of life, as do we all, and reaped the results of what he had sown.”
Fare thee well, Dave. I will certainly miss you.
clearly david’s influence will continue to extend through generations of astrology students, and to ripple out from each person who encountered him. we’re all blessed by his life, who connect with planet waves.
Beautiful piece, Eric. Thank you for sharing. Sending love…
Vintage Eric; most appreciated. So, I was thinking this man, David, might be a Gemini, but, yeah, he could have had a natal sun in Virgo (cataloger) too, where the Moon was when you learned of his death, or even a Leo Sun (generous), or in Sagittarius (width of knowledge) where the MC was, or Gemini (multitude of data) where the IC was. Did you realize that the Jupiter (Sagittarius) – Mercury (Gemini) cycle coming to an end this weekend began at 23 Gemini 12 and that the recent Mercury retrograde stationed direct at 24 Gemini 22 (the 3rd decan of Gemini ruled by Aquarius), where this chart’s Juno (perfect partner) is?
But I take it that David had an Aquarius Sun. This chart has no Aquarius planets, but the Part of Fortune is there near your Moon. The transiting rulers of Aquarius are ending their long and tight-but-not-exact quincunx. Since it appears his life influenced a lot of believers and students of the language of astrology (he “shaped” [Saturn] your approach to the unusual [Uranus] subject), no doubt he contributed to the adjustment (quincunx) that has and will continue to serve as the prep work for society’s next 20 year cycle (Jupiter-Saturn) starting in 2020.
If we look at this chart as a symbol of David’s legacy on his society (perhaps the world) then there is Pholus (small cause, big effect) on the MC. Was that chart he provided you in Sicily the one that matched your own IC? What a gift your friend was to you, and in turn to those of us who treasure your gift for translating the language of astrology. Noting Chiron near the ascendant, my condolences. Rest in Peace David.
So sad to hear this news. I am an avid fan of his newsletter. David knew this was coming and wrote about it last year when he was very ill. Condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a great astrologer.
Very touching. You will certainly help him to be remembered. Thank you for bringing him into my life and many others. Peace to all who loved him.
Eric, I am truly sad to hear of the loss of David. I know his teachings will continue to enhance your journey. Thank you for sharing! His newsletter is truly a gift! Will you have access to his recordings for future ?? Curious to hear his words. Heartfelt Sympathy for Elizabeth & his daughter ~ Arms around you! whitewillow
Thanks for sharing this Eric. I am so sorry that you have lost such a great teacher, yet so very glad that you met him.
Grateful for your words Eric. Please pass on my gratitude for his life and work. To his spouse, family, my sincerest sympathy.
Damn straight Sag. is tops. Brother is sent out well.
Many Peace for Family.
Beautiful, inspiring tribute. Thank you.
So sorry to have lost this great guy. He was your first teacher and I was among your first clients. What an honor that you have built a thriving community through this work. It seems everyone is blessed through healing.