Perception, Agenda and Point of View

When I was writing When an astrologer speaks there were several graphics that I wanted to include but couldn’t find. This was one i thought illustrated the point I wanted to make particularly well. The camera never lies, it’s a representation of the world not a painting, therefore it must have happened. However, what is most certainly being controlled by the photographer or their editor, the the framing of the image and what is left out. I hope you see the point.

There were also several images which continued there theme where you were looking at multiple images depending on where you focus lay. The old woman/young woman was the example I used in the original piece. Here we have the rabbit/duck, which depends on whether you look from top to bottom or from left to right.

More frivolous examples are the  screen shop from a Facebook page showing a picture of a bird in flight which could also be a rabbit in mid ski-jump. I’ve made these images bigger so you can see the detail.

My favourite perception switch is the nativity scene. Apologies if I’ve ruined Christmas for you. The silhouettes could be your classic manger scene, but with a little shift in focus could be two Tyrannosaurus Rex and a watermelon.

I include these here to make a point, admittedly this is a funny point. Where you eye falls can change your interpretation of something completely. What you are expecting to see will have I huge influence here so pay attention to what you are expecting to see. We are bombarded by images from the media, from our families, from academia and we owe it to ourselves to at least try to filter them. This is more important now than ever with the rise in the number of fake news. Remember truth is relative.

The original piece – When an astrologer speaks – was written in 2015.

Who’s telling the story?

Stories are always told from a particular point of view. This is true for fiction, history and news stories. The  attitudes, situations and themes which are presented can be quite different depending on who is telling the story or authorising the story to be told. This can, and does, reinforce norms and common sense.

It’s a truism that history is written by the winners, but history can also be re-interpreted to push an agenda which is extremely current.  The way the centenary of the First World War has been dealt with is an example of this.

My friend, Steve O’Donoghue, wrote this song about the first world war which was used by No Glory as part of their campaign to mark one hundred years since the battle of the Somme. This was arranged by my husband, Russ Chandler with assistance from other Walthamstow musicians.

I wrote this next piece a few years ago and it was the last major piece of work I did as an astrologer. I include it here because it focuses on agenda, points of view  and how material is presented. Just read round the astrology if it’s not your thing. The Carter Memorial Lecture is a keynote presentation which was also my swansong. There were other graphics and examples that I wanted to include but couldn’t locate at the time so I include this page as a post script on Perception, agenda and point of view.

When an astrologer speaks

Carter Memorial Lecture 2015

Presented at the Astrological Association conference 2015 and Astrological Lodge of London September 2015

It is a great honour to be asked to give the Carter Memorial Lecture, particularly in the year of the Astrological Lodge’s centenary, it being founded in July 1915 by Alan Leo. As President Emeritus, that is the last but one president, I’m very happy not to be on the front line of the organisation tasks. Taking part in the parties and celebrations is just as much fun as setting them up and so is not interfering with the current committee. I ceased being president in 2008 and have been on a bit of a journey since then away from astrology. Sometimes stepping back from something helps you see it more clearly and I hope that these observations and thoughts will be of interest.

In this talk I’m using the term “astrologer” to refer to anyone who talks about astrologer in a serious manner. This is a wider definition than “those who make some or all of their living from astrological practice”, it also includes those who only write about it but do not consult, those who study and research it and, most of all, anyone who talks about it in a serious way. This covers pretty much everyone that has ever sat in an astrological class or picked up an astrological book with intent. And yes, this net is thrown purposefully wide because when you stand up as an astrologer you invoke power. It does not matter if you identify as an astrologer because you will be identified as one by the world and you need to understand what that power is and how to work with it.

When you come out of your first serious astrology class you feel like you’ve been given they keys to the universe. You want to share what you’ve learnt and you do and most of the time you make a fair job of it. The reason I’ve extended my use of the term astrologer to cover even neophyte students is that those listening to them do not distinguish between their friend who is talking to them in an authoritative manner about astrology and an experienced Astrologer. Indeed the very concept that there is such a thing as serious study of astrology can be news to them. For that reason what I have to say is for everyone, don’t switch off because you don’t do clients. I’m also making no distinction between different schools of astrology because if the public don’t distinguish between levels of experience then they’re certainly not going to see the differences between the approaches that we as insiders do. I’m using the term The Public to refer to anyone that is not an astrologer that is listening to an Astrologer as defined above.

This lecture is in two parts. The first part, which I hope will not sound like a school report, will cover things which I believe astrologers need to be aware of and take into account, whether or not they identify as practising “Astrologers” giving consultations and readings to clients. The issues covered here are not definitive. I’m sure there are others which could also receive due attention. The second will cover some ideas which will throw light on the issues raised in the first part. Astrologers have a responsibility to both themselves and the public both to protect themselves and to protect the public.

There is a quote attributed to Socrates which I think gets to the heart of the issues I want to cover in the first part: that “the un-examined life is not worth living”[1]. If we claim special knowledge then we are duty and honour bound to take the time to understand something of the nature of that knowledge and how we can use it. Historically the role of astrologer has been entwined with that of priest or prophet and perceived as one that combines secret knowledge with power. The very notion implies a route to the divine. This woodcut shows the astrologer passing beyond the bowl of heaven and looking into the mechanics of the celestial spheres beyond. Note that his body in still firmly in the terrestrial realm, you still exist within your own cultural framework. The astrologer claims not only access to this knowledge but also the competence and skill to interpret it, to bring it down to earth. This is quite a claim. The view of the astrologer as all powerful, of having access to other realms appears to be part of the popular imagination and it is this view of an astrologer that is conjured up whenever astrology is seriously discussed. Even the über rational seem to feel this at some level as shown by their spectacularly emotional reactions to the astrological. Whenever someone talks with confidence about the astrological they invoke this authority to a greater or lesser extent. For the purposes of this talk I’m going to refer to this as astrological power.

Much excellent work has been done on the responsibilities of the astrologer in the consultation, on how to work with clients and in a confidential one-to-one encounter but also how the astrologer needs to protect and care for themselves. I refer you to the work of such fine astrologers as Liz Greene, Juliet Sharman-Burke, Christina Rose, Stephen Arroyo, Donna Cunningham and Bernard Rosemblum which I don’t need to revisit here.[2] But there are other circumstances which also require that we work with care which are not so well covered.

Do you know what level you work at astrologically? Do you know the type of conversation you have? Do you do light and fluffy chat? Do you do deep and intense discussion? The type of astrological conversation/consultation you have will not be that different in tone from your general conversation. When you first start out and begin to find your astrological feet you want to share. You want to give readings to the postman, the woman in the corner shop, and your work colleagues inevitably get to know what you can do and if you’re not careful you end up spending your lunch hours giving free readings. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s part of your growth as an astrologer, establishing where your personal boundaries are and how you interact with the public as a practitioner. What is important is that you recognise whether this type of “lighter” astrology is something you can actually do. I’m not being judgemental on this point, it didn’t take me long to realise that the level on which my readings take place was just not something that could happen in someone’s lunchbreak. What’s important here is that the astrologer is aware of what they do. Every astrologer is different because we’re all individuals and each are operating from the perspective of their own chart; they can only see with their own eyes. There is no rule to say that the deep and intense consultation is the more useful, sometimes a lighter approach hits the target. You can’t know. You can only know what you do and do it as well as you can. Knowing your level, your approach, your vibration is part of the responsibility of being an astrologer.

It is not only in the consultation where the astrologer must pay attention to therapeutic good practice, give due concern to our client or listener’s welfare and take care of the way we explain ourselves. In a consultation or written report we’re taught that language such as “may”, “could”, “possibly” should be used to qualify our statements to make the client aware of their own choices and the number of ways that symbolism can manifest. As astrologers we try to emphasise that there is always an element of choice in how the people we’re talking to can choose to live their lives, and take great care not to give judgement from on high. But do we take equal care when bringing astrology into general conversation?

How many of you have had one of those conversations where the cause of all your woes is assigned to a particular transit? Pluto, what a bastard! And Saturn, well! These conversations devolve power to the factor in question as if it existed outside of the context of the life and choices of the individual. Conversations which bemoan Saturn or Mercury retrograde, forgetting that a transit highlights what is there already, give away any power you have to influence and understand the situation. Let’s take Saturn transits. Saturn can be seen as the building inspector. He doesn’t bring the dry rot that’s appeared in in your cellar or cause the plumbing to fail but he certainly helps you discover these problems and then demands you clear them up. Talking about transits as if they’re external and separate removes your power to act and be part of a possible co-creation of the future. Be aware of how you phrase things. Language is powerful and you can unwittingly assign away your influence. There is a part of your brain which listens to everything you tell it. That’s why positive affirmations work and why worrying about something is really just a negative affirmation. If you talk in a way which moves agency away from you then there’s a part of you which is listening and believes this to be true. Be very careful of how you moan.

I think that when we come to talking about the state of the world that the most pitfalls appear. Mundane Astrology is a complex discipline. Accurate mundane forecasting takes some effort and it’s more than just looking at the major transits. It’s also useful to have some knowledge of the area to which you’re attempting to apply astrology. Is an increase in something a bad thing in this field? If so then you need to think hard about how you interpret Jupiter, the planet of increase and usually seen as a favourable factor.

Mundane astrology is also the place where most “throw away” predictions get made. There are two main points I was to make here. The first goes back to looking at what the public hears when the astrologer appears to make a prediction. Do you remember Paul the octopus?[3] In the 2010 soccer world cup Paul the octopus predicted – accurately – the results of the games through to the semi-finals where Spain beat Germany. The method was to offer two boxes of food, each box showed the flag of one team or in the shape of a boot in the team colours, and the box that he chose represented his choice. Here you can see him next to the German boot during one of his choices. The German fans were very happy that he’d apparently supported them, up to the semi-final. In response to his prediction of their loss, many German fans issued death threats, calling for Paul to be cooked and eaten. I mention this as an illustration that many people do not differentiate between the prediction and the cause of the event This is a relatively trivial example, not for Paul obviously, but it illustrates the level that the public instinct can work at. When you make an unpopular statement – whether concerning football or politics – then you need to account for how it will be heard. Some will blame you for a correct but unpopular prediction. In political predictions I’ve seen the statement that x would win as support for x, and even as provision of a level of supernatural assistance.

The second point refers to how the astrologer feels about the prediction and how they present it. It is necessary to consider the level of dread that you invoke. Where is the line between warning about events which may accompany challenging planetary conditions and actually invoking them? I remember having many conversations around this before the financial crash, when we could see the level of disruption in store but were concerned about being too negative.

We are warned about self-fulfilling prophesy when working with natal charts but I would say this also holds true for mundane work. If you describe an upcoming period in such terms that take away any hope then the tendency can be to capitulate into the prediction. The chance to change things is taken away. This is not to wrap people in cotton wool or to only give a relentlessly positive account of the world. If you tell someone that this year marks the rise of the Evil Empire as a fate accompli then how can any alternative be built? Bad news combined with astrological power can see overwhelming. There is always a margin of error in prediction and there has always been resistance. There is always a better way. Don’t let your prediction take away the impetus to find it.

When we’ve made a prediction we make an emotional investment in that statement. Generally we’re pleased when they come true. But with mundane predication the events usually involve bad news of one sort or another. Beware celebrating the success of your prediction by celebrating the bad news. Let’s leave that to news editors on a slow news day.

Whatever you do or say will serve your own agenda so you must know what your agenda is. If you don’t, the possibility of you unwittingly serving some else’s agenda is high. Everyone has an agenda. Some are healthier than others. You must understand where you are coming from as it will colour everything you do. It frames your motives, comes from your personal history, your education, your religion or philosophy. What drives your ambition? What do you think the world is like? All this comes together to form your agenda. Your agenda will in turn knock on to how you see things and your attitude. “Know thyself” was the phrase used at the temple at Delphi. This quote from Ramana Maharshi also illustrates this idea, that not understanding your position can lead you astray for the best of intentions.

“Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.”

Agenda is similar to perspective. Perspective depends on your position, sometimes literally as in this picture. At the risk of labouring the point, he can only appear to hold the Sun in his hands because he’s 93 million miles away from it. The geocentricism of many of our astrological phenomena are another expression of perspective. Eclipses, for instance, are only possible because of the relative visual sizes of two bodies of vastly different physical sizes. These alignments are only possible because of our geocentric perspective. They are part of our point of view, from our planet looking out into space. They are part of our human story. That story has many characters and may be told from many perspectives.

Who is the narrator? Any account depends on who is telling the story. That narrator can only tell you what is known to them. As astrologers we are aiming for something more. I’ve always felt this was illustrated very well by this advertisement for The Guardian newspaper. It was made in the 1980’s and I was delighted to find it on You Tube. [4] Even when we take different points of view into account there’s no such things as an objective view. We now know why the younger man has pushed the older man but we know nothing about any of the builders on that building site, the man who loaded the pallet of bricks or the property developer. They are still outside our frame of reference. We can never be objective because we don’t know every single factor effecting everyone in a scenario. And even if we could we couldn’t take ourselves out of the way when pulling that information together. It’s impossible not to editorialise.

We can do our best to mitigate against bias but we need to know what we may be biased about, whether this may be down to gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, class or geo-political position. If we are not aware that our view is different from those we speak to then there can be problems. This doesn’t have to be horrendously discriminatory. It could be something like a love of sausages vs a driven vegetarian.

The human eye picks up patterns extremely quickly. It’s part of the ancient survival mechanism in our visual systems. This can focus you in one a familiar element, a dramatic element, something that fits with your core assumptions and can draw your eye away from other less immediate information. This picture is used to illustrate that the first image that you see is not necessarily the only one present. How many see the older woman? How many the younger? Can you move your focus between the two? Likewise the focus can shift between the light and dark areas to show profiles or vases. Just as the eye fixes on one of these views first there is a similar tendency to do the same with astrological information. If your astrological wisdom is based on one quick view of a chart then you open yourself up to possible problems.

Mercury is said to rule astrology. He is also the trickster. This is a particularly appropriate symbol to represent the issues we’ve been discussing. I mentioned the frame of reference earlier and I believe where we stop talking is just as important as what we say. Where do we draw the line, place the frame? This Mercury is in Le Louvre in Paris. I remember seeing him for the first time and being surprised as all the photos that I’d seen of him previously did not include the breath of wind which I’d not seen before. Those photographers had chosen to place their frame to exclude this. In my opinion that cuts down the symbolism of the work of art and reduces the message. This could be seen as selective editing. This is a relatively innocent omission but if you choose to place your frame to exclude pertinent information that doesn’t support your agenda then we’re getting into less virtuous territory. The omission could be down to naivete but it could be down to artifice and deception. If your stated aim is to speak the celestial truth then is cherry picking your significators really serving this?

If we take all these factors into account then our approach to the astrological conversation becomes one of equality rather than hierarchy. There is no top to the round table, no place to symbolise power and authority. If we counter the public’s’ attempts to make us into an authority figure, then it’s possible to enter conversations and debates on the same level as the other participants. Any of them may have specialised knowledge whether it be law, accounting, motor mechanics. This next slide is usually used to represent therapeutic communication but I think it can represent any conversation. Both sides make a contribution and a new idea may emerge from that mutual participation. Communication is not two people waiting for the other to stop speaking so they can say their piece. It takes from both sides of the conversation, from both the layman and the possible expert. Done properly communication can teach the expert as much as the non-expert when both are changed, or at least informed, by the exchange – we’re back to Mercury again. Having said this, what most people want from astrology is one of these. A magic wand. In my experience there are few people who actually want to do the work to bring about true change, and those people that do are a joy to work with but in the minority. Many more believe it’s within the astrologer’s gift to make it better as a consequence of the consultation. The Public perceive Astrological Power as a cure all.

In the second half of this lecture I’d like to explore some ideas which may expand on the idea of Astrological Power, that aura which accompanies the astrological and which the public seem to be able to sense but can’t make sense of.

The first is the concept of the sacred and the profane as presented in the book of the same name by Mircea Eliada, the Hungarian historian of religion who wrote extensively about myth, symbol and ritual. He does not present this as a polarity but as two way of perceiving the world or two alternate modes of being. Perception of the sacred he reserves for those who have not lost the connection with sacred in the world as he believes modern humans have. He refers to places which are qualitatively different but quantitatively the same. For instance, if there is an eruption of the sacred into the world and it manifests itself in a rock then if you cannot perceive the sacred you just see a rock. It’s only those able to perceive the sacred who can recognise this. As he says: “By manifesting the sacred, any object becomes something else, yet it continues to remain itself, for it continues to participate in its surrounding cosmic milieu. A sacred stone remains a stone; apparently (or, more precisely, from the profane point of view), nothing distinguishes it from all other stones.”[5] So the thing remains a thing, and if you don’t see the sacred quality you may wonder if the person who does has had a rather good lunch. But coming back to rocks and their apparent sacredness, doesn’t that sound like an astrologer talking about the planets? Rocks which are imbued with particular qualities?

In addition to the sacred in space or the landscape, Eliade also talks about sacred or mythic time. The idea is very similar to that of Plato’s Ideas, that for every physical object there is an idea which sits behind it which is part of its form. Events too have a mythic counterpart. Each event that takes place in the world partakes of an event happened in mythic time. This is an idea common in traditional religion. For Eliade it is the breaking of the connection between the everyday or profane world and the sacred which is characteristic of modern humans. Where the perception of the connection is lost then the event loses its potency. For instance the story of the birth of the gods – the cosmogony – is a very powerful account of the creation of, not only the world, but the gods themselves. So when we have a start point or a beginning then telling the story of the birth of the gods as part of a connected rite or ritual will align the power of the story and enrich the event with the appropriate energy. Eliade calls it “partaking of the eternal.”[6] So as the year progresses and festivals are celebrated they each tap into mythic time and are renewed in a manner matching the particular festival. New Year, being a start point, is a time for the telling of the cosmogony so renewing and refounding. This aligning yourself with the eternal moves you closer to god. Eliade quotes a hunter who does not pray to his god or hero, he “identified with him”[7] so aligning himself very literally with the divine in terms of hunting skill and courage.

As someone who works with traditional music I’ve mentioned this idea to other performers and they recognise it. When you sing a traditional song it’s as if the story was taking place for the first time and you don’t know what’s going to happen, the story has not yet been written. It’s as if you’re touching the primal material behind the story. Eliade says “to relate a sacred history is equivalent to revealing a mystery.”[8] Not that I’m saying folk song is sacred history but it is relating what I would call eternal stories. This idea certainly seems to be borne out in experience and indicates that touching the myth doesn’t have to be part of a ritual presentation.

Bernadette Brady has explored these ideas of the sacred and profane with regards to the actual chart diagram, the birth map. She argues that the natal chart diagram should be judged as a sacred map and likens “returning to the point of origin” [9] with consulting the chart. It is certainly my experience that when you are doing a chart that something else is present, that you as a practitioner are somewhere else and the space you’re in is different and very tangibly so. Darrelyn Gunzburg, in the account of her research “How Do Astrologers Read Charts,” summarises how different astrologers describe the process of reading charts as follows: “There is a feeling that at least temporarily, the person had become part of a larger entity.”[10] This certainly seems to be a common experience and commensurate with touching another layer of reality.

Now the way I’ve put this together sounds very like support for an idealistic, eternal realm which – in the sense of Plato rather than Pollyanna – gives form and shape to everything. As an atheist I don’t think that’s the whole story. As the Jonathan Z. Smith, the historian of religion said “…religion is an inextricably human phenomenon.”[11] Just as the historian cannot move outside of his current cultural framework we, as astrologers are mired in a sea of ideas from the humans which came before us.[12] I much prefer Sean Kane’s phrase – “an embodiment of oral tradition”[13]. This places us in an ongoing tradition, a human continuity. Sean Kane, in his book Wisdom of the Mythtellers puts it like this: “myth telling assumes that the stories already exist in nature, waiting to be overheard by humans who will listen for them”[14] and “the song of the place to itself, which humans overhear.”[15] But there have to be humans to do the listening.

So how else can this idea be used in our astrological practise? I’d like to share an idea about cycles. If you consider all the aspects made between two bodies then you get their complete cycle. So each aspect is part of a greater cycle. Astrologers consider similar points in a cycle regardless of the length of those cycles. So conjunctions have a similar nature to midnight, midwinter, new moon and so on round the aspect circle. This equivalence can be taken from the common aspects partaking of the same energy. Each phase references a similar struggle regardless of the length of the cycle. Now if returning to the start point gives us access to a regenerative energy then we may have more options open to us. You may not have to wait for New Year to renew yourself as the shorter cycles provide start points on a monthly or daily basis.

Eliade talks about “becoming contemporary with the gods”[16] which can be seen as another way of being in the moment, being present and specific with what you’re doing. Jeremy Naydler, in his book on Egyptian cosmology says the following “For the magical consciousness, every ritual action done on the physical level, every form created, every word spoken or written, acted as the magnet to which its spiritual counterpart was irresistibly pulled.”[17] This is a slight change in emphasis from Eliade’s. What Naydler says is that the physical act pulls the spiritual component behind it. This is introducing an notion of intent to change.

The second idea I’d like to share with you is historiolae. Historiolae are stories telling myths or encounters with the divine. Usually as part of some ritual or magical encounter. So here we have an account which may partake of the eternal or it may also attempt to pull the eternal behind it.

There is an account of a creation myth in the document that I studied for my MA dissertation. This document was one of the magical papyri which were discovered in Egypt in the eighteenth century. These documents, isolated for centuries, give an unsullied account of late antiquity in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. I say unsullied because these documents are untouched by the intervening history. They didn’t have to rely on someone taking care of them, on someone being sufficiently interested in them not to throw them away. They weren’t paraphrased, passed through multiple translations and actually survived to be read by me. The rite described in PLeidJ 395 is to allow the practitioner to summon a god and discover their divine name, a name which would give great power. The divine name is also related to creation: in the beginning was the word.

The scholar David Frankfurter refers to historiolae as ‘any narrative, any story, uttered in a ritual context, and the idea that the mere recounting of certain stories situates or directs their “narrative” power into this world.’[18] The nature of the stories can vary, usually matching the nature of the rite in question. In the case of a rite which summons a god, as with this papyri, this may be an account which reminds the god of a time when favours were granted, or an account of similar nature to the rite being performed, so invoking that power.[19] In the case of a creation myth, as is the case here, the creation myth may be associated with the divine name from its use as a creative word of power. As I’ve already said, the telling of any myth invokes sacred time which is separate from terrestrial, temporal time.[20] During the performance of the rite the intent is to link the two.[21] In the case of a creation myth this eternal place is before time, and therefore before fate.

The doctrine of sympathy is familiar to astrologers and, in light of the previous discussion you can hopefully see the continuation of the idea of partaking in the divine. The notions of sympathy and correspondence link the qualitative and quantitative world thus becoming, as Nicholas Campion has said, ‘the basis for astrological magic, in which objects are created or words are spoken which have “sympathy” with the particular stars, planets, or zodiac signs.’[22] They are judged to be made of the same “stuff”. The ancient writer Plotinus explains that ‘there is a natural concord of things which are alike and opposition of things that are different’[23] so things which are of like nature are linked with a ‘sympathetic connection.’[24]

This connection between the mundane material realm and the divine which we’ve been examining is part of the connection expressed by sympatheia. The ancients saw the universe as a hierarchy with the Gods at the top; realms lower down the hierarchy contain those above: the physical, lower realm cannot exist without those above.[25]

And so to bring the two halves of the lecture together. I’ve looked at the idea of sacred or mythical time, of the eternal and how astrology appears to connect with it. I’ve shown that the public appear to apprehend this connection regardless of whether the Astrologer does. And I’ve shown that not only is there a top down influence – that we are tapping into the eternal – but that there can be a bottom up influence too. So you can see that our statement of “As above, so Below” is true but the whole phrase is this: “That which is above is like that which is below and that which is below is like that which is above” emphasising the two way nature of this relationship.

If this is the power that astrology brings us then we need to think about how we use it, as outlined in the first half of this lecture. If these are the powers available to us then we need to have a certain level of awareness.

We noted that Mercury rules astrology in the first part. Mercury is a god that can pass between the different realms. He’s the only deity that can pass into the underworld and is the messenger of the gods. These roles are not so far away from the ideas I’ve presented. And he rules language. Thoth, the Egyptian god of language also rules magic.

So be careful how you put things as you don’t know what you invoke and be specific, as that gets to the heart of the matter, once more moving you into the moment, which is where we have the ability to instigate true change. I found an interesting quote which elaborates on this in in a book on productivity by David Allen.

“The clearer your purpose, the more ways to fulfil it. Here’s a fascinating paradox of the material world: the more specific your vision or intention, the more expansive the creativity you will unleash.”[26]

So, as we measure and interpret the heavens we must understand that there are issues we must take into account which we cannot ignore. It does not matter if we make no claim to astrological power, people will assign it to you regardless. The magical quality of astrology is not something which is reserved for the consultation which has its own ritual elements, it’s present whenever astrology is discussed with respect.

[1] Plato, “Apology,” in Complete Works, ed. John M Cooper (Indianapolis IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997), 38 A.

[2] Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene, The Astrologer, the Counsellor and the Priest, (London: CPA Press, 1997); Christina Rose, Astrological Counselling, (Wellingborough: Aquarian Press, 1982); Stephen Arroyo, The Practice and Profession of Astrology, (Reno: CRCS, 1984); Bernard Rosenblum, The Astrologer’s Guide to Counselling, (Reno: CRCS, 1983).
Donna Cunningham, The Consulting Astrologer’s Guidebook, (York Beach, ME: Samual Weiser, inc, 1994).

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Octopus

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3h-T3KQNxU

[5] Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane; The Nature of Religion, trans. Willard Trask, (New York: Harcourt, 1959), p12.

[6] Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, p85.

[7]Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, p98 – 9.

[8] Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, p95.

[9] Bernadette Brady, “The Horoscope as an Imago Mundi: Rethinking the Nature of the Astrologer’s Map,” in Astrologies. Plurality and Diversity, ed. Nicholas Campion and Liz Greene (Ceredigion, Wales: Sophia Centre Press, 2011), p59.

[10] Darrelyn Gunzburg, “How Do Astrologers Read Charts?,” in Astrologies. Plurality and Diversity, ed. Nicholas Campion and Liz Greene (Ceredigion, Wales: Sophia Centre Press, 2011), p194, p3 – 5.

[11] Jonathan Z. Smith, Map is Not Territory, (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1993), p290. [Hereafter Smith, Map]

[12] Smith, Map, p289.

[13] Sean Kane, The Wisdom of the Mythtellers, 2nd ed., (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1998), p186.

[14] Kane, The Wisdom of the Mythtellers, p33.

[15] Kane, The Wisdom of the Mythtellers, p50.

[16] Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, p91.

[17] Jeremy Naydler, Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred, (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1996), p139.

[18] David Frankfurter, “Narrating Power: The Theory and Power of the Magical Historiola in Ritual Spells,” in Ancient Magic and Ritual Power, ed. Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki (Boston and Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc, 2001). [Hereafter Frankfurter, “Narrating Power”].

[19] Frankfurter, “Narrating Power,” p. 464.; William M. Brashear, “The Greek Magical Papayri: an Introduction and Survey; annotated bibilography (1928 – 1994),” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung (ANRW) II.18.5, ed. H. Temporini and W. Haase (Berlin: de Gruyte, 1995), p. 3349.; Gideon Bohak, Ancient Jewish Magic: A history, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 312.; Morton Smith, “P Leid J 395 (PGM XIII) and its Creation Legend,” in Hellenica et Judaica: Hommage a Valentin Nikiprowetzky, ed. A. Caquot, M. Hadas-Lebel, and J. Riaud (Leuven: Peeters, 1986), p. 495. [Hereafter Smith, “Creation Legend”; Todd Klutz, “Jesus, Morton Smith and the Eighth Book of Moses (PGM 13.1-734),” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 21, no. 2  (2011), p. 139.

[20] Naydler, Temple of the Cosmos, p. 147.

[21] Naydler, Temple of the Cosmos, p. 148.

[22] Nicholas Campion, Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions, (New York and London: New York University Press, 2012), p. 14.

[23] Plotinus, “Enneads,” in Defining Magic: A Reader, ed. Bernd-Christian Otto and Michael Stausberg, Citical Studies in the Study of Religion (Shefield: Equinox Publishing Ltd, 2013). [Hereafter Plotinus, Enneads] 4.4.40 (p29).

[24] Plotinus, “Enneads.” 4.4.41 (p30).

[25] Crystal Addey, “Assuming the Mantle of the Gods: ‘Unknowable’ Names and Invocations in Late Antique Theurgic Ritual,” in Sacred Words: Orality, Literacy and Religion, ed. A.P.M.H. Lardinois, J.H. Blok, and M.G.M. van der Poel, Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World (Leiden: Brill, 2011), p. 282.

[26] David Allen, Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life, (London: Piatkus, 2011), p53.

What next?

I have been thinking about what to do with this site. Whether it needed to exist at all, what I would limit it to, who it’s actually for?

Today I decided to write something that would give an overview of what I’m interested in and thought that I might be talking about here. So I’ve changed the look, and now here is that piece.

Story telling is the theme which is most in my mind at present. How we tell a story, how we allow ourselves to tell a story, the medium of the story, whose story and so on. This covers the actual story – narrative, plot and character; the way we tell that story – words, pictures, film or music, alone or in combination; the habits, tricks, hacks and techniques we use to be able to tell those stories; and also, perhaps most importantly, the ownership of that story – is it yours, does it belong to someone, can we help make a space for those who are unable to tell their own story or do not have the platform from which to tell it.

Let’s see where we go from here.