Making the Most of an Astrology Conference
Dear Friend and Reader:
I mentioned a few weeks ago that we would be providing coverage of the United Astrology Conference (UAC) in Denver, which takes place May 15-20, 2008. This coverage is based on a relationship Planet Waves has with UAC, so we are in effect promoting the conference for them. Meanwhile, I don’t plan to change my policy of looking at astrology with a critical eye while we spread the word and then provide audio, photo and blog coverage from the event next spring.
Since the beginning of my astrology studies, I’ve taken a cautious view of astrology conferences. Blame it on my Saturn in Aquarius; perhaps I don’t want to belong to any committee of which I’m not chairman, or write about any idea that I have not passed through 25 layers of quality assurance and a Gestalt Therapy reality check. (What exactly is that? Trust people who breathe and admit to being horny.)
Early on, I figured out it’s easy to be misled if you’re relatively new to astrology. In an intellectual community where some people are supposedly the informed experts and others are eager neophytes, one must be conscious of power issues. Once you reach a certain point in your studies, you discover that you’re the proverbial dry sponge waiting to be soaked with wisdom. The problem is that while some teachers have excellent ideas, and some teach you to keep an open mind, and while it’s indeed possible to learn something from everyone, you actually don’t want to study with just anyone.
That being said, there are people you most definitely want to use to soak your sponge or, as it were, light your fire.
If you’re planning to come to UAC, I suggest you study the presenters list, do some research and find out who you want to study with. Look for people whose work has already touched your life in a constructive way. Check out webpages and see whose writing voice really speaks to you. Listen past their ideas about astrology and get a sense of their ideas about life. Go in the direction of compassion; you want an astrology teacher who understands how hard life is but who does not get bogged down in it. Look for other contributions they have made to life outside the field of astrology, which will help you get a sense of who they are.
Scanning the presenters list, I see the names of many people who would be worth the trip and the full price of admission.
Perhaps my Saturn in Aquarius is mellowing as my gray hairs sprout. Over time, I’ve come round to the idea that conferences are vitally important ways for most people to learn astrology. In the United States and even in Europe, there are very few of what you would call academies of astrology, and most students don’t have the wherewithal to go to them. Most people study from books and more lately, Internet e-groups where what I will very politely call discussions occur among some of the participants.
Studying astrology is still generally a late night, all-alone kind of thing done with books, and there are not a lot of opportunities to have real conversations with other people who are involved in the work.
When you go to an astrology conference, exactly what you get is a lot of people with some interest in the topic, and for the first time in your life you may be able to discuss any idea or question you’ve ever had. Then there are working professionals, who arrive as presenters and participants. Many have developed philosophies over many years of research.
One reason so few astrology students go beyond the beginner’s stage is because it’s a complex subject and it’s difficult to ever feel that you know enough to claim what you know. One of the benefits of an in-person community is that you can actually talk to and listen to your peers, get a sense of what you know, and get a feeling for mixing your ideas with those of others. Most of the best stuff that happens in astrology conferences takes place at meals, in the lobby and after hours. Sure, the classes are excellent. It is one thing to read a book and another thing to hear someone present ideas verbally, with eye contact. And it’s another thing still to have dinner with them and bounce ideas around.
And that is what you’re going to get if you come to UAC.
A little while ago, I did one of those Gestalt reality checks and looked over the list for anyone I could find who had made a substantial contribution to delineating the newly discovered planets, from Chiron (discovered in 1977 and just having made it’s 30th anniversary on Nov. 1, three weeks ago) on forward. These planets should be at the forefront of modern astrology; they are not, indeed, they are hardly ever mentioned. But a handful of people are doing an excellent job of keeping an informed discussion happening. I found three such people teaching at UAC whose work I can personally recommend from repeated experiences and hours of contact. They get high ratings for their ideas, and also for their commitment to jamming a wedge into the door of the mind, keeping it open.
Dale is one of the Chiron pioneers, and I suspect he is still as enthusiastic about it as he was the week he heard about it. His understanding of this complicated little planet is lighthearted, clear and driven by curiosity. He speaks from many years of experience in both research and client work. He has a way of conveying the energy directly, depending more on the feeling than on the words. Dale’s ideas about astrology are practical, easy to remember, and easy to apply. Moreover, he is an authentic optimist; he knows how to use astrology as a tool to get you to the next place, and Chiron is one of his most vital resources.
Melanie wrote one of the first books about Chiron (Chiron and the Healing Journey), which established a psychological and spiritual basis for working with this planet. She has a psychological perspective, but it plays second fiddle to her spirited imagination. Her work with the newer discovered Centaur planets — Pholus, Nessus, Chariklo and Hylomone — is truly outstanding. Melanie is a talented intuitive, and has an enormous gift for delineating myths into applied astrological ideas (not as easy as you would think). Melanie is also a talented therapist; this is an extremely welcome viewpoint at any astrology event.
Philip’s work with Chiron goes back to the beginning. He is also one of the most dependable sources of ideas about the newer Centaurs and some of the planets beyond Neptune. I think his most vital gift to astrology will turn out to be his use of galactic points — our own Galactic Core, the Great Attractor, and numerous other galaxies that show up in astrological charts. Phil likes to show up at conferences with totally new presentations, often teaching stuff he’s been studying just the past couple of seasons. In terms of his gift for making difficult ideas comprehensible and useful, there are few astrologers in his league.
I’ll cover more UAC presenters in next week’s edition of Planet Waves.
Have a safe and sane holiday.
Yours and truly,
Full Moon in Gemini — November 24, 2007, 14:30 UT.
Comets are usually categorized as long-period and short-period. Astronomers believe that the Oort cloud — a reservoir of material and debris at the edge of our solar system — is the source of all long-period comets. Short-period comets are believed to originate from the Kuiper Belt, which is a region of space closer than the Oort Cloud. (Pluto, for example, is a Kuiper object.) They are also called Jupiter Family comets, because their orbits are controlled by the gravity of Jupiter.
Comet Holmes is a short period comet orbiting between Mars and Jupiter with an orbital period of 6.9 years. It was discovered in November 1892 by Edwin Holmes in London. It was closest to the Sun during last May and is now already quite far, moving away from the Sun. Comet Holmes is a peculiar one. It was first so faint that it couldn’t be seen without a telescope. Then suddenly around Oct. 23-24 it dramatically brightened and became visible to the naked eye. The change of brightness was in a scale about a half million times, and is the largest known outburst by a comet. At the time of its discovery in 1892 comet Holmes very likely was undergoing the same kind of outburst. Astronomers are puzzled why the comet suddenly brightened now that it’s already on its way back to cold space.
Comet Holmes looks very different than any other comet we have seen. It doesn’t seem to have a visible tail and it looks like a big fuzzy ball. At the moment the coma has dispersed to an area larger than the Sun thus making the comet the largest object in the solar system! And it continues to expand.
In astrology, comets tend to have had a bad reputation, likely associated with one factor: they are unpredictable. The logic goes, if it’s not in the ephemeris, it’s not a good thing. Or, the old-styled reasoning goes, if it comes from the region outside the safe boundary of Saturn, we cannot really trust it. Saturn is the ‘safe boundary’ that protects us from the wild and woolly cosmos…the wall around the city which must be locked at night and where, outside, live the wild things, the barbarians and the Centaurs.
They seem to be portents of change, which sometimes means progress and sometimes not — usually it is up to those who take the opportunity of change to seek their fortunes. Western astrology has not made a science of comet divination, though Chinese astrology has. The first comet to be taken seriously by Western astrology has been Chiron, which is categorized as a Centaur planet and as a proto-comet. For a comet nucleus, it is extremely large, about 160 to 180 km — but despite its size, it’s definitely a comet.
Restless, curious and talkative, the Moon in Gemini welcomes the change that is awaiting. Mercury, the ruler of Gemini is a planet of mind and it is squaring Neptune tightly and trining Uranus, another planet associated with intellectual and creative advances. Uranus is also associated with change and awakenings. An aspect between Mercury and Uranus can indicate intellectual brilliance.
Mercury has been out of the echo phase about a week now and Uranus stations direct only some hours before this Full Moon, giving a super boost for flashes of insight and mental creativity. The square between Mercury and Neptune could indicate that someone is telling lies, but fortunately Mercury is also making a trine to Varuna, a trans-Neptunian minor planet which is named after a Vedic sky god watching every movement of men, and punishing liars and those who violate contracts. This is a good sign that the truth is not only welcome, it is necessary. But it is also a reminder that it’s easier to honor agreements or negotiate new ones, than it is to violate them.
The Sun in Sagittarius is conjunct the Centaur planet Hylonome, which is associated with the healing of senseless grief. Hylonome works on an individual level and also on a collective one, as “the cry of the people.” She is saying that we need to listen to one another. Venus in Libra trines Neptune (nice for the imagination) and squares Vesta (pointing to where conventional ideas about femininity have a tense relationship to more liberated ones). The Moon, when full, forms a novile aspect to now retrograding Mars in Cancer (a novile is one-ninth of the full zodiac, or a 40-degree connection). The Moon is also parallel with Mars, enhancing this aspect.
The Sun and Moon, in opposition, are closely squaring the lunar nodes. This may have the echo of an eclipse, because Sun + Moon + nodes = an eclipse — when the Sun is conjunct one of the nodes. Now the Sun is square the nodes and we have a Full Moon, so it’s like we get a taste of the energy: a point of no return, a threshold, a push forward, a break in continuity.
There are planets involved. On the North Node we have a protective image of Pallas Athene, goddess of wisdom and strategy. The second-discovered asteroid (technically called 2 Pallas), she is the planet of the mind, having been born out of the head of Zeus in full armor. Pallas was the protector of the city of Athens, whose government leaders were apparently every bit as foppish as our own, but she did her best. She has excellent negotiating skills and in a natal chart (somewhat astonishingly) frequently represents constructive involvement with government or politics; and the ability to be a leader in one’s community.
She was born in full armor from the forehead of her father, Zeus. Astrologically, Pallas is a symbol of protection, strategy and wisdom, and she represents political and negotiating skills. However, not being created by sexual reproduction, she has a cool touch, having given up a major aspect of her femininity.
There is one more implication of the mental emphasis of this chart. Jupiter is still in square aspect to Logos, a binary trans-Neptunian planet. A “binary” is a pair of planets that are similar in mass and orbit one another around a point that resides outside of either of the two bodies. The point is called a barycenter. In English, the word logos is the root of ‘log’ (as in record) and of ‘logic’. Heraclitus (ca. 535 – 475 BCE) established the term ‘logos’ in Western philosophy. His main doctrine was the unity of opposites. He thought that all things are composed of opposites, and because the opposites are at strife with one another, all things are in constant change. The change is governed by logos, a principle of order.
Jupiter is approaching a conjunction to Pluto and the Galactic Core. The exact conjunction — a major event of the decade — takes place in December.
The conjunction of Eris and 1992 QB1, which has been mentioned several times previously in this blog, is exact to the minute on this Full Moon. These are two very slow-moving bodies and their conjunction is extremely rare, occurring perhaps once per millennium. This is the second of three exact passes for this cycle, the other two being April 24, 2007 and Jan. 29, 2008.
Another aspect involving one of the binary TNOs mentioned here before is Uranus opposite Typhon, the first binary Centaur. Strictly speaking, Typhon is not a Centaur-class body, but some astronomers use a broader definition of Centaur that also includes planets with Typhon-type orbits. In mythology Typhon was said to be the cause of volcanic eruptions and the father of hot storm winds. According to Philip Sedgwick his positive traits astrologically are “balance of parts and wholes, sense of details and big picture, ability to reduce overwhelming tasks into manageable steps.”
Good advice as usual from Mr. Sedgwick — particularly with all this mental activity afoot, and a big comet showing up for a visit.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Nov. 23, 2007, #690 – By ERIC FRANCIS
Aries (March 20-April 19)
El Soul, the Sun, is about to move into fiery Sagittarius, and this always has a way of setting you free. Just in time, too, because it seems that lately you’ve been feeling like you’re under house arrest. As it turns out, the first week or so of this journey is likely to have you feeling like there is so much from life that you want, and so little from life that you can reasonably expect. I can assure you of this, the limits you feel are inner restrictions, not outer ones. For one thing, you are trapped by your work and your sense of obligation. But unless you are willing to accept this lasting forever, I suggest that you take full advantage of your sense of frustration and limitation in these days, focus your energy and lift yourself to a higher place.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You feel two ways about yourself, and that presents a challenge at the moment. If you’re divided in your opinion or values, it may not seem credible to you if someone who cares about you possesses something much closer to one integrated opinion. Yet this is what you seem determined to reach for, and destined to discover. Here is your quest: to take every idea to the level of a feeling. You grasp certain things conceptually; you need to experience them emotionally. At the moment, someone you care about is leading the way toward experiencing themselves on that level of deep feeling. You may wonder what is the difference between thinking and feeling, and I would hazard a guess that feeling involves surrendering control.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
While you’re busy exploring what is important to yourself in an unusually honest way, you are being confronted with the potentially controlling values of a partner or loved one. You need to give this person space to speak up. They need this, and you need it; it is your role to open up a space — a healing space, which means a safe space — for them to say what they want and what they need. Be aware, at first it may have nothing to do with what you want and need. But there are aspects so spectacular developing in your relationship angle that you cannot possibly go wrong, no matter what happens, no matter what they say or what develops as a result of the conversation. Right now, the truth is not only your friend; you have no other, and in truth, you want no other.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You may be struggling to sort out the difference between what is true and what is not, but think of it like treading water. It’s easier when you have your clothes off. Try not weighing yourself down with beliefs or ideas that you’ve seen don’t work. Try to stay present enough to feel what your intuition is saying, and at least make certain that the salient details are as you want them to be in writing. Finally, be careful that you’ve thought of what you need to remember, where any negotiation or contractual matter may be concerned. Mercury and Neptune are making a tense aspect this week, and that calls for written documentation, be it a shopping list or a to-do list; being mindful of your talking points, points of agreement or points of contention. Just remember to remember what you are likely to forget; and that is likely to be the thing you need the most.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
The Sun’s movement into your empathic fire sign Sagittarius has taken some of the pressure off of your psyche, and given you the feeling that you’ve finally got beyond the daring, dangerous beginning and are now approaching the middle. The main thing you need to do is give your doubts a rest — and you have plenty of them. You could do that trick of doubting your doubts; it works well for some people. You could also do an audit of the available information you’re working with; some of it is good, some of it is useless. But mostly you need to open up some space within your sense of limitation and at least spread out your camping gear, your art supplies or your guitars. You may not at this time in your life be able to visit the Great Pyramid, but within the world you occupy you have some extraordinary freedoms, and more on the horizon.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Remember, you are a world citizen. Well, really a cosmic citizen. You are of this Earth, but you feel your roots in something deeper, and that is (on the one hand) the sense of being different and (on the other) the odd impulse you have to live a mundane life, to be grounded, to be an anti-spiritual reactionary: a humanist. You need real ideas, actual evidence for what is so, and the freedom to chuck established dogma into the nearest municipal waste incinerator. Therefore, seek evidence for your most outrageous beliefs, and you will indeed find it. Contrary to the late Carl Sagan’s perfectly illogical (but seemingly sensible) pronouncement — that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” — you need tangible evidence for what you observe and base your life on. You also need to subject it to question and ask what other outcomes are possible. Stick to the ordinary and what is close to home, and you will encounter that which, somewhat inconveniently, defies all rational belief.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
There are two paths to the truth: doubt and faith. It’s a little like this. When you meet someone, do you assume they are an asshole, until you have evidence that they are a kind person? Or do you assume that they are a decent person until you have evidence that they’re a jerk? Okay, I’ve presented you with a faux dilemma. Here is the real dilemma: when you have evidence that someone possesses a certain quality, such as being a jerk or a generous person, do you take that under advisement? Do you respond as if your perceptions are true? Or do you continue expecting them to be what you expect them to be, and ignore any evidence to the contrary? In the immortal words of my old therapist Joe Trusso, “Use what you know.”
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
Whatever you are doing, keep doing it and you will cash in. I am probably the last astrologer to propose that financial success equates to some kind of personal growth development, or is evidence of being spiritually aligned. But I don’t make up the astrology — I merely deliver the news, and this is what the chart is telling me. Make the right choices, and you are very nearly guaranteed economic success. What is the right choice? That I cannot tell you, but I can tell you that you’ll know it when you feel it. What is right and true does not come with an instruction manual because it does not need one. But you must stop making excuses or second-guessing, if you were ever inclined to do so, and remain firmly committed to being true to yourself. You know what you want and what you need. Affirm it boldly to yourself and the world.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
By now you must be feeling the vibrations, the sense of potential and the thirst for adventure that defines the Sagittarian soul. With the Sun’s ingress to your sign, you have reached a turning point. You have so much going for you at the moment, but you need to be aware of an issue that most of the Western world experiences, unconsciously, when it finds itself caught on the rocks of existence. You need to exceed your parents’ expectations of life. To do that, you need to examine the ways in which you are caught in those expectations. More to the point, you cannot really be free if you have some sense of loyalty to any authority figure, be they dead or alive, who would set limits on your bliss. And I bid that you need to consciously choose to take full responsibility for the implications of freedom. You are now working with real power, and you can indeed screw up.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
A close partner seems to be rearranging their thinking faster than you can keep up with the changes. What you may not see is that their twists and turns are emotionally driven and thus likely to make no sense at all, when you attempt to parse them out rationally. Your astrology says you simply cannot figure out what this person wants, nor can you figure out why it’s so difficult for them to make up their mind. You want to stop trying so hard, and instead dig up the old ditty Human Behavior by Bjork. She reminds, us, “If you ever get close to a human / and human behavior / be ready to get confused / there’s definitely no logic / to human behavior / but yet so irresistible” (add the seductive drums and vocal harmonies). As for the irresistible part, that may take a few days to set in, but you’ll get there sooner or later.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You cannot make your world too big at the moment. You cannot look too far from home, nor dream of achievements too great. There is no such thing as ‘too much’ in fact, particularly where your dreams and aspirations are concerned. Set your mark high, dream boldly and vividly, and take some of the opportunities for change and progress that your world will invariably deliver in the next week to three weeks. Changing one’s life, achieving modest things, or achieving great things are always a matter of going from a vision to reality; or if you prefer, from what seems impossible to what is inevitable. Just remember, you are the dreamer of this dream. There may be those moments when it seems like it’s dreaming you, but the idea is, this is about nobody’s vision but your own.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Faith is always a leap. The concept is meaningful only because faith implies that what seems to have no logical basis can have a tangible existence; what seems to have no cause or no source can be experienced as a gift from someone to you. But consider what gift you might give to yourself: the complete rearrangement of your sense of potential. Pisces lives in a strange world: full of possibilities, but so often seeming to bear the burden of all the limits of the world. And of course, there is that whole issue of how long things take: those born under the last sign so often seem to come in last place. That is changing now, but you must do your part and wedge your foot, or your spirit, into that doorway to other possibilities. Use your mighty power of visioning. Use your faith. Use love and calmly expect results.