Scattered all over the world, it seems that most astrologers love getting together at conferences. For a few days or a week, at a resort or an airport hotel, they share lectures, meals, networking and partying. A couple of years ago, I attended my first astrology conference.
It was the opening ceremony of the Northwest Astrology Conference (affectionately called NORWAC) held in Seattle each May. It was one of those large hotel ball rooms with crisp, white cloths draped over round banquet tables, glass water goblets at everyone’s seats. The M.C. had about 300 of us all standing as we called in the spirits of the four cardinal directions, the above and the below, with wishes all around for a good event.
I looked around the room and saw dozens of the leading lights of the astrology world, people who are “famous” within this subculture, people who’ve spent decades producing translations, books, analyses, offering life-informing counsel for thousands of clients. The sheer amount of brain power in the room was an astonishment to me. I hadn’t been around people this fantastically smart since I’d been a graduate student in sociology at U.C. Berkeley. That’s not to say there aren’t such domains of intellectual brilliance in many professions. But I hadn’t been in a room packed with so many smarties in I don’t know how long.
I was thrilled.
Astrology allows me—no, requires me—to be a perpetual student. That feeds my Sagittarius Moon.
Fast forward to the fall of 2018. Now I am offering astrology readings. I’ve been a client of astrologers for over 20 years, and I’ve been studying on my own, diligently, for four years. I’ve got enough knowledge and skill under my belt that I can offer analysis and understanding to someone who comes to ask: what’s going on with my life now, and how can I best navigate it?
I am with an old acquaintance, sitting at the table in my living room, looking out the big front window onto my garden. I know a little about her life from chatting with her over a decade of visits to the professional office where she works. She has given me her birth data, and I have studied it and written lengthy notes. She has some challenging “hard” aspects in the configurations of planets in her natal chart. Nothing “bad,” but definitely stuff she’s been working on her whole life. Right now, she’s got some pressing family issues, weighing her down. The past few months have been horrendous.
A deep reading of her natal chart brings recognition: “Yes, that’s true. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.” Family matters have her at her wit’s end. But she’s up for what has come her way. The chart reveals her innate stoicism, her compassion. She is by birth a healer. Her day job, her avocation as an artist, the particular form of spirituality she was initiated into—all of these are vividly displayed in her natal chart. She has lived the chart—the map, the instruction manual, the contract—she was given.
What’s happening now? What’s next? We’re not going to forecast a specific event. But we can see themes, forks in the road. They are visible in the aspects made by planets transiting in the sky in connection with her chart, right now and in the coming months. She’s in the middle of a life passage called a second Saturn return, next year approaching a “return” of Jupiter to the sign and degree of her natal chart. These two returns coincide only once in a lifetime, as one approaches age 60, inviting us to focus on the structures of our lives, and limits (Saturn) along with where we find ease and opening (Jupiter.)
To boot, she’s going through transits of Pluto over her Moon in Capricorn and, soon, in a square aspect to her Sun. Pluto is called a force of “transformation.” The gold we may mine from it may come not before we descend into a type of personal underworld, even to the point of destruction of our old life. Pluto cuts a wrenching path toward eventual renewal. It is painful, this upsurge of grief and frustration.
Astrology is a respite. A reading at a particular time in life can be a rite of passage, in a culture that offers us few.
My client is on the verge of tears, and I am, too. I know the power of these transits. They feel like they will never end. And then they do. These transits will subside, I tell her. That gives relief.
“You will not be the same person you were before.” That’s the only thing I can tell her for sure.
Knowledge and love, that’s what astrology is about. This is healing.