A: Absolutely not. All charts contain duality. This includes all natal charts, timing charts, and locational charts. The best you can do is to get a chart where there is more coherency or good fortune in particular areas of life, for particular periods of time. Newbie astrologers who believe there is some kind of "perfect chart" are like children.
Q: Explain "coherency."
A: Coherency is a word I like to use, and I think Maharishi Mahesh yogi used it, and it's a word for blessing, improvement, fruitfulness, pleasant growth, good experiences -- what we humans would interpret as pleasantness or good fortune. In astrology, coherency is tied a lot to Jupiter, Venus, the Moon, the trine, and the sextile. If you are given a nice car that you like, and needed a car, that's a coherent event. If you smash your car against a post and accidentally kill the neighbor's dog, that's an incoherent event. Incoherency is, in practical observation, associated with Saturn, Pluto, Mars, and the square, quincunx, and dodecile aspects. In my locational astrology work I basically try to increase the coherency-feed into areas of life that the client cares about. But there is no location that is "fortunate in all ways," only in particular ways. And as to those fortunate trends, there is no location that is always fortunate in a given way, but only during periods. Yet those periods could last many years.
Q: How many of your clients have actually moved based on your advice?
A: I can't know for sure since a lot of them never tell me or I only heard about it second-hand. But based on doing this twenty-seven years, I could conservatively guess that it's at least five hundred.
Q: How important is the timing of a move?
A: Extremely important. Going at the wrong time can bring contrary results on arrival or even downgrade the longer-term good of the place. Let's say I've found a place where a client's income will improve. Maybe it's clear to me it will start improving next year, but won't be good this year at all. Then perhaps it's easy to see it will improve for five years then flatten out, or maybe go sideways for two years. Then maybe it comes back improving again for twelve years after that. These fluctuations can all be seen from here. And there is no "steady state" to any of the charts or any realm of life. There are only harvests.
Q: Buddha said in the Dhamappada "You run like the hare, hunted pursued." Do you think this relates?
A: Yes, that's it. What are we pursued by? Constant change, duality, change of "seasons." The samsara keeps catching up to us. So to deal with this situation we become like surfers, trying to ride the nice waves.
Q: And in your locational astrology you are trying to help people more skillfully ride the coherency waves.
A: Yes. I have used the metaphor that we can "stand under the right apple tree at the right time to catch some apples in our apron." In a way you could say we humans are always "following the harvest." In every valley once fruitful and warm there comes a time when a cold wind starts to blow and the fruit is no longer on the vine. This is our human dualistic situation. With locational astrology we can follow the harvest more intelligently and knowingly. But one has to choose: "What is the thing I really care about improving and what things am I willing to let hang." Or even "What pains and troubles am I willing to bear, while I have this other blessing."
Timing is also hugely important in travel, or trips to check out a place. Notice that nobody has an exact duplicate of any trip. If you go to Seattle 5 times you will have 5 different experiences, some, vastly different. Some of the trips will go better than others. This is because of the transits you're traveling under. It's very possible to visit a place that's going to be excellent for you long-term, but go at a bad time and have a bad experience that turns you off of the place. Likewise there may be a location that's gonna eat you alive this year, but you may go there on a great weekend, under some wonderful short-term transits effective for a few days. You have a lovely time so think "This must be my lucky place"and thus decide to move there. You can get fooled. It's very tricky.
Q: It does seem obvious nobody has an exactly duplicate trip anywhere, and some visits to Los Angeles or whatever are better from others.
This is another reason astrological knowledge is so valuable. You can distinguish between short-term themes and long-term themes. There is this naive idea a lot of people get, once they hear about locational astrology, they think there is this "lucky place" for them and it's "always lucky" and will always be. That's not how it is. As transits move, in the long-term situation, every fortunate theme that's built up in a given location will eventually have it's decline or knock-down times. And if you travel there 10 times, again, you'll have 10 different trips. And should you travel there at bad times, you will have bad experiences there. You will have negative experiences anywhere if you travel there at a bad time. An example would be: Mars is squaring your Neptune that weekend, Venus is afflicting your Saturn, and the moon's in a bad place the day you land there. Maybe this was a place you once prospered for 10 years and have many happy memories about it. Yet that week, because you traveled under these bad transits -- it's problematic there, even hellish.
Q: So is the adage true that "you can never go back?"
A: As with most "nevers," that one's false. A lot of adages are false! Right, people do want to go back to good times. And we often think returning to a place where we had good times will bring the good times back. That adage exists because people are commonly disappointed by this. But the real truth is: If you go back to that place when the transits/progressions are adverse to your expectation you won't "go back." However if you return to that place when the transits are good, maybe even better than they were before -- you can go back. You can "go back" in spades! "Things of the fonder past returning to you" -- this is, in fact, one of the lovelier things you can find in a new location -- but only if you come at the right time. In fact, you can get this effect, strangely, in a place you've never lived before. And that's something most people wouldn't think of. In my new location in Montana I have this sweet feeling all the time like I'm "back in my mother's house." There is a lot of "return" stuff going on though I've never lived here before.
Q: So is it a fact that all kinds of things can occur in one location?
A: Indeed. I have often said astrology is all about wheels-within-wheels, the turning of various wheels. I would conjecture that if you could live in one place for thousands of years, you'd have times you're king, times you're a homeless beggar. You'd have times you're a composer, times you're an accountant. You'd have lonely periods and times of marriage and domestic bliss. All things would come to you eventually, all kinds of karmic experience, if you could live eons in one place. The big circles would finally come around and deliver everything. So what we're doing when we move, basically, is we sort of cheat the wheel or scurry away. We probably, by moving, are one-upping things on the "Lords of Karma," if you will, and subverting a certain law. Like naughty school children playing hooky and evading the Principal. With higher spiritual development we become a still point and the outer world revolves around us, perhaps. Not having much involvement any more with the karmic flux, there is no need to move any more. But then we become like a staring frog on a lily pad, perhaps, like a Nityananda, not engaged with the samsara any more. And most people don't want to go there -- can't. People used to say about Swami Muktananda that he seemed like a still point with the world revolving around him.
Q: So for the rest of us ordinary mortals, who want to change their experience by moving, shouldn't attraction work? Aren't people often attracted to places that are good for them? What if you recommend a location to somebody but they've never been attracted to there? Should that be an issue for them?
A: I've been asked that. The first thing I would say is this: It often happens that people move to the place they've been attracted to -- maybe for a long time -- then have a bad time, mixed results, or even calamities after moving there. Happens all the time!
Meanwhile, I have many cases of movers who did take my advice, moved to the place they were never attracted to before, and were very pleased about things there. The truth is, people do get attracted to places that have good influences for them, at least had those influences. Places "talk to you" from a distance, this is true. If somebody has excellent 4th House transits in Paris during 1990-1995, Paris will "call" them strongly during that time. They'll get good impressions, feelings, stories, photos coming at them from Paris, during that time. What they do is register this in their head as "Paris, attractive, feels good." But by the time they ever go there, those beneficial harvests may be long gone, see? They've been carrying around their impressions gathered during the past, but go there too late. Likewise, when a place is negative for you, it will also send out to you, as it were, negative impressions, and you build up that register in your head. You think "I've always had a bad feeling about that place." This is based on the past, how that place was for them back then. It may be about to have some lovely years of positive developments, but this impression is there. This is, indeed, I think how samsara tricks us into having unpleasant experiences. The average human being is stumbling around based on positive and negative impressions they've stored up in their head. Few act immediately and instinctively when a place is "calling us" right now. In my work I cut through all the impressions or prejudices people have built up, about places, and find them good places they never could have thought of. "Shangrila years" come to every person, in every possible location. But if you've never had "Shangrila transits" yet in that place, that is it's never called you, you won't have registered that place in your head that way. By the time you start to get different impressions about that place, through news or media or friends, perhaps you've missed 4-5 of the nicest years there. So yes, often attraction does work. But most people respond to it way too late. Thus this samsara is bewildering. It's probably meant to be.
Q: Do you think there is one "true path" or "true life's work" for each person?
My astrological observation has convinced me the individual ego is a malleable, changing thing. It appears to reconstruct itself in different locations upon acquiring a new locational rising sign.
Relocated natal charts reveal the ego to be like an inert object, subject to laws of space/time. Change the time, the ego alters itself; becomes different. Change the space, same thing. In different locations, with changes of Rising Sign, the interests and goals of an individual do change. Additionally, his personality traits change to match the new rising sign. So where's this unwavering "life purpose"? I haven't seen it yet. But I'm on the watch.
A fun and easy-to-see example is John Lennon. He was Aries Rising in England, but became a Capricorn Rising in New York City. It's easy to see how he lost his Aries personality traits and acquired Capricorn traits. His interests and focus changed to match the new setup also.
It's as if the ego is like an object, say a crystal or odd-shaped stone, and you can move it around and lay it on different sides. Setting it down on one side, it looks like a cat. Lay it a different way, it looks like a mountain. In some other place or angle, the crystal resembles a flower, or a man with a big chin. This is, I think, what happens to the ego when we relocate. It takes different forms.
Q: But is there perhaps some golden thread that runs through all these world-incarnations that keeps popping up the same?
A: Perhaps there is, but I've not seen it yet. I think the questions become: Where is your deepest conditioning? Mars-in-Taurus probably represents a deeper karmic conditioning, while locational rising signs, etc., may be new conditioning we get to take on, through the grace of the house system and our ability to move to different places on the earth.
On the other hand, all conditioning for "Mars-in-Taurus" appears to be absent during sleep and dream! Thus even that conditioning appears to be hooked to the present earthly body and its experiences, which are in turn built up on "one moment in time" where we originally started breathing and Felt the world at that moment. I have lived out out three different egos or earthly incarnations, in part defined by different rising signs. And I can't say a "golden thread" running through each is clear to me. I can see that I had substantially different motives, interests, and purposes in each of those three.
The question bumps up against the theory, found in some scriptures and metaphysical schemas, that all the jivas were created originally as they are, at the beginning of the Day of Brahma or whatever, and that we are always that particular personality, through all incarnations, even going through largely repetitive experiences. I don't buy it, because I'm not "Julian Lee" any more even during the dreaming sleep state, which the Hindus call svapna or taijasa. And I'm even less a particular person in deep dreamless sleep, which the Hindus call the state of sushupti or prajna.
By bringing more of the dreaming and dreamless state into our waking state -- which is possible by spiritual development -- we are basically "polluting" whatever world-jiva we have going on in the waking state. Polluting him/her with transcendental limitless grace!
Meanwhile I think even ordinary people with no divine aspirations do become different people in different locations. So I guess my answer is: I would enjoy finding a golden thread that ran through one's life despite disparate locations and experienced charts -- but I have not seen it yet. I think the ego is a product of a time-space identification, and when we alter that identification by moving, or by contacting the Timeless, the ego gets altered to a different structure.
If we take the concept of "One Particular Personality" created at the beginning of time, the most I can allow at this time is that this personality, ideally, keeps on upgrading, becoming more satvic, becoming more and more like God, which means more contented and limitless, while retaining his/her distinctions as "this type, that type." Then finally there is a loss of distinctions at some level of being, as these hypothetical jivas become more satvic (pure).
Q: So you are saying that you can "get a new rising sign"?
A: Yes I am.
Q: That's not the mainstream view I might comment.
A. Yes I know. But it's real. You really become that.
Q: Since on the topic, what is the Rising Sign, in your view?
A: You get a personality and traits that match your rising sign. And your mind revolves around the ruler, and the house themes associated with where that ruler sits.
Q: I have seen one book that said the Rising Sign is "how you appear."
A: I know, I have seen that also. That's sad.
Q: What is sad?
A: It's sad the rubbish that's written in books. In fact it's your 10th House giving you "how you appear" at a distance. The Rising Sign is what you're really like, and what you think about most of the time. As I said, looking at the locational Rising Sign tells you what the person thinks about all the time.
Q: But this evolves or comes in anew, if moving to a different location?
A: Yes, you change, in your nature, and you get new preoccupations that match that new setup. But the earlier point is you don't appear to be like this, or like that. You really are like this and that. Now, the 10th House is what people see at a distance and think you're like. The mountain top looks different at a distance than the experience there at the foothills or the mountain's base.
Often we hear of somebody going to meet a famous person. And they find out the person is different than they thought. Maybe they are nicer than they expected. Or maybe they are a jerk; unpleasant. What's happening there is the fan is meeting his Rising Sign, rather than seeing his 10th House at a distance. The fan finds out what that person is really like.
Often when somebody tries to "guess a sign," as in "guessing a Sun sign," the actually correctly guess that person's current locational Rising Sign. (Though the one saying "Wrong!" may not know this.) I say that the Rising Sign -- the locational version -- always shows. The Sun might me messed up, maybe it's opposed by natal Neptune, or it's in the 12th House, or a complicated Sun. But the Rising Sign will always show for the person in that location, as both personality traits and also interests; preoccupations.
Q: Could you give a few examples of acquiring a new Rising Sign, such as from your own life?
A. Yes. In Iowa where I was born, I had Gemini Rising ruled-from-11th. (The Mercury was in 11th). I had Gemini traits: I was scattered, had way too many interests and didn't concentrate on much. I was very mental and verbal. By my 20's my mind revolved around a community having a humanitarian purpose. (The 11th house of intentional and idealistic communities.) I was always writing and speaking on behalf of this community and our movement. It was a "one world" type of community -- the Baha'i Faith -- and I was always concerned about "humanity." I was part of an intellectual community under that chart, very involved, and my mind really revolved around them. In this same place I found myself working with technology, working with computers for my job. (At that time nobody had personal computers.) Finally in that location I met an astrologer and became immediately deeply interested in astrology. It is a fact that the 11th House is associated with communities, computers, and astrology. So my mind revolved around these things. I was deeply interested in "creating community."
When I moved to Alaska (based on the Jim Lewis map), I became Pisces Rising ruled from 7th. Within a year or two my mind was on completely different things. First, as to personality, I became very dreamy and impractical, and as a "humanitarian service" I chose to hitchhike to work the 40 miles from Palmer to Anchorage. Neptune and Pisces are associated with hitchhikers. I became interested in meditation there, and began having mystical experiences, and developed a felt relationship with an Indian guru. I would chant mala beads. I was always reading yogic scriptures. All Piscean things. And my mind revolved around finding others like me for forming a spiritual community. My wife and I would have meetings/gatherings trying to find people to live a mystical life with us as a kind of real community. I even came up with a name for my vision, "The Sparrow Tribe." During that place and time also, women came into our lives who were suggesting alternative forms of marriage and family. (Basically, certain women became close to our family saying things like "I could be your second wife.") This is very Neptunian stuff, and note that my Rising Sign ruler was Neptune in 7th House of marriage. I became disinterested in the Baha'i Faith there because I saw it wasn't truly mystical enough, not God-seeking enough, in that sense of an inwardly experienced God that the mystics talk about. The "merely mental" preoccupations of my former Gemini incarnation seemed pitiful and lacking. During that time also I felt very close to my wife. But I was like a Pisces now, and all I thought about was finding my "spiritual tribe" and I was not interested in people who merely shared intellectual ideas. During those years, related to meditation and chanting, I experienced divine things such as yogic kriyas -- spontaneous yogic movements of the body -- and I became very rooted in meditation, with a "bhakti-yoga" attitude toward my guru and several other gurus (7th house Neptunian figures). I was a Pisces-ruled-from-7th within a year or two, to be sure.
So your nature changes when you acquire a new Rising Sign, and you don't just "seem" to be like that -- you really take on those traits. And your interests and goals change. This is why I think the ego is like a malleable object. Keep in mind that my "Iowa chart" was also my natal chart, and I am no longer strongly Geminian like I was, and I no longer have the same interests. Nowadays I think of most humanitarian and "one world" groups are fatuous "cucks" who need to get a life, love their people, and stop meddling with the world. My interest in computers/technology is scant-to-none. I am not involved with an intentional community and my interest in that is weak.
When I moved to California I became a Taurus Rising ruled from 12th. For the first time in my life I became steady and consistent about pursuing just a few activities. I made money more easily. I collected antiques, art, clothes, and music. I watered my plants (for the first time in my life) and they actually lived. I even acquired the sort of voice associated with Taurus. I became very habit prone: I liked to sit in the same seat at the same coffee shop daily. I took the same walks down the same pathways. I hated to travel, though as a Gemini in Iowa I traveled often, all over the state. The 12th House themes -- what my mind revolved around -- included living in a beautiful, rarefied home with national forest on one side, hills on the other, and a beautiful view of Ojai on another. My preoccupation was simply to meditate in this beautiful retreat-like villa where I rented rooms. I would take walks way out on "lookout point" as the sun went down, surrounded by beauty. The 12th House is associated with untouched, natural places, retreats, ashrams, and meditation itself. I had a dream experience there in which a physical object was handed to me in the dream state (and was with me physically the next day). This is a 12th House experience. I also had "lost relations" there and my mind revolved around that perhaps more than any other thing. These became very confused there, and it affected me a lot. Venus-in-12th ruling First. See?
In California, moreover, I got a new midheaven, Capricorn-ruled-from-8th. I began coasting on my astrological discoveries, processing and integrating what I'd learned so far, easy in the saddle. Meanwhile my real passion or "life's work" was to master brahmacharya/continence and teach it's value to other young men. (Saturn, planet of restraint, austerity and ancient ways, in the religious sign of Saggitarius, in the house of sex, ruling my career house in Calif.) As soon as I got to California this became my primary exterior work, where I really pushed hard, and this was before I understood the charts the way I do now. So the exterior aspirations change, also, according to the new 10th House structure. But that's another topic.
A nice example of a relocated Rising Sign is Johnny Carson, the 1960s/70s talk show host. He was born a Scorpio Rising in Iowa, but became a Libra Rising in Southern California. Of the two signs, which one likes to be "in relation with others." (The whole scene on the Tonight Show was Carson interacting with another person.) Which Sign likes to converse, relate, and keep it light and pleasant? Which Sign likes to wear pretty suits? (Carson even started his own suit line and the night would usually start with Carson making jokes about his band leaders garish suit.) Which Sign most shows in Carson's easygoing, unflappable nature in which he shied away from unpleasantness and controversy and was NOT blunt as is Scorpio. It's obviously Libra. However, you can see earlier footage of Carson in Calif. when he was a comedy writer behind the scenes, and you can see his Scorpio nature was still showing. He was 'darker,' quieter. Not so open or pleasant. Because it takes time to take on the new chart. Same way it takes time for a log off wood to become fully soaked with vinegar. Carson's California chart also featured Moon-in-3rd Ruling 10th. This gave him a career/fame related to what? Smalltalk! Often with women. So which was the "true chart"? His California chart, because he lived there, was his true chart.
Q: But I see in your first two locational "incarnations" you had an interest in "community." Could this be a golden thread of life purpose for you?
A: I would call it something more like an "overlap." There were some similar features to the Iowa and the Alaska charts that kept "community" as a thing for me. But it was more like a merging and melding of the two charts. Old resonances from the first one were still ringing as I took on the Alaska chart. If you think of water coloring, and two colors making a 3rd new color, it was like another "community" color, since different community themes were present in both charts. But it was really just my old chart resonances merging with the new chart. In this new 3rd "color" the kind of community I wanted was different, I was no longer trying to "save the world" (11th house grandiosity), and my motives were different. Instead of a "new world order" to "fix all problems" I just wanted a little tribe hidden in the woods, chanting bhajans and going to the yogi-dreamtime... Then by the time of my 3rd locational chart (California) this community idea mutated even more, and started to fade, though some overlap remained. Moving from one chart to another creates a situation in which two paintings are merging together to make a 3rd painting.
A: In reality we carry multiple charts within us, like layers, according to the places we have lived. Have you ever seen color separations in a printers' shop? There is the magenta layer, the cyan layer, etc. Four color separations are finally lain down atop one another and finally the real picture can be seen. We are carrying these different "charts" in us as resonances from where we have lived before, and they mix with each other.
Q: I see. This brings us to The Question. You were coy about this in your "interview" piece 25 years ago. Let me ask it now: Which is the true chart? The natal or the current locational chart?
A: The current locational chart. Absolutely.
Q: OK but I thought you said we carry many charts in us, still ringing or resonating?
A: Yes, but the current locational chart is the top layer. The live layer. The one forming and becoming more alive, more gross, more functional, while the old ones are fading away. In "The Secret Garden" the garden boy Dickon cut a branch and showed the girl that it was green and growing. He said it was "wick." The current locational chart is the "wick" chart, and the one you can read from with most accuracy. Especially after a year, for the bigger fruit of it. But you also see it taking hold and forming immediately the first day -- even hour -- that you arrive to a substantially different locational chart.
Q: Most astrologers say you cannot change your natal chart and that's "what you got" and nothing can be done about it. You feel that people actually do change their charts by living in different locations.
A. Yes that is my view.
Q. That contradicts most astrologers who seem to feel that the natal chart is this sacrosanct thing, that it is the correct match for our karmic development and reflects who we really are. Do you believe that there is a lawfulness about our astrological chart? That it is the perfect match for our karma? If so, how can it be that people can change it?
A. I've spent years in the work of hunting for better locational charts, whether studying for myself and family, or my clients, or friends. I've also seen the results of all sorts of moves, including those done by myself, by clients, and by novices and hobbyists using locational astrology. And it's typical that there is some element of learning to any move including some "oopsie." There is always more to know, and there is always something that the astrological mover misses. I even think that a part of the psyche sets up blind spots, in astrologers (both novice and pro) in which they choose not to see certain things.
And a lot of people make mistakes that they later regret. And I couldn't help getting the feeling, over the years, that our incarnational birth choices probably had a lot of this same "oopsie" content to them; that people take births that give them unintended consequences, or births that are not as fortunate as they had hoped when, as a jiva in the astral state they rushed toward two prospective parents procreating. I had this haunting feeling that movers who get noticeably mixed results, or mistakes when using locational astrology, were really just getting a kind of new sub-incarnation (in that new location, with that new life). And further, that mistakes that they later see about their move -- "I didn't realize that this Saturn quincunx Midheaven was there and would slow me down so much" -- have a similar quality to mistakes that their soul probably has often made when getting a new incarnation.
Q: Are you saying that people think astrologically in the astral state when acquiring a new birth, and make mistakes with it just as they often do in earthly life?
A. No, the mistakes we make while incarnating are likely of a different nature. If you've spent much time consciously in the astral plane you know it's impossible, a far cry, to even think about "planets" or read some "Ephemeris page down on earth" etc. and think "I want to be born with this/that chart." That can't be done. But if you read about the Buddhist accounts of souls, jivas, choosing a new birth when finding two procreating parents, there is obviously scope for errors there. The female reminds you of some favorite mother of other incarnations, though it may not be her at all. Or a father is chosen through strong attachment but it's really just attachment, or feelings associated with that father -- of past incarnations and worlds perhaps -- that no longer apply in that particular new birth. In other words, I think that all of us have screwups in choosing our parents along with, in many cases, fortunate outcomes. And I think the screwups people do where they rue some outcomes of a relocation -- I think that this is all the same sort of thing. Making huge incarnational decisions with partial knowledge and stumbling forward into the unknown. An earthly relocation is, in my mind, an incarnational decision. It's like a new incarnation, right here in this life. And in both situations -- moves and getting ourselves into our pregnant mama -- I think there are unplanned outcomes.
Q. So back to the earlier question, do you believe that the natal chart we get is a perfect match to our karma, and guided by some unerring law? Or it sounds like you think possibly not?
A: I have pondered this a long time. And I have to say that I have always carried the assumption that the chart was a lawful match. But by my 60th year I began to have doubts about this. And I think we actually do harm to ourselves "accepting our chart as 'us'" and focusing on it, identifying it. Because I think in the case of most people their natal chart is a random acquisition and does not represent some especially lawful match to their karmic development.
A problem we must ponder is that when it comes to the conception there is some lawfulness at work, a matching going on. If we take the yogic conception (seen by many adepts presumably) in which a jiva rushes toward a copulating couple along with many competitors and wins out by dint of his actual connection to that couple and stronger attraction. We see here a matchup and a law at work. But that chart situation nine months later -- with the Moon squaring Mars or what-have-you -- this looks like a mechanical happenstance of nature. When I was conceived I can comprehend that I was rushing toward the soul-qualities of my mom and dad. But I cannot see how when I was born I was "rushing towards the morning vibe of Moon-in-Capricorn at 9:51 am in Des Moines." I was not rushing toward that. Mom just squeezed me out at that time according to nature's nine-month thing. And it happened to become the photo-imprint on me when I first experienced the world, with breath. It had not much to do with the real me at the soul level.
Q: How do you support this view?
A: Well I think there is a lawfulness about our choice of parents, though not without possibilities of delusion, attachment, repetition of patterns. I think in the astral bardo we are driven by huge emotions and respond to things like light or the light qualities of, say, the procreating parents or their world. And I think we "win" (against the other jivas competing for the body) by having authentic ties to those parents or at least stronger emotions regarding them. We fight for that spot, according to the yogis. So I think a law works in that situation, though it doesn't mean we are getting all that our rational earthly mind might desire, later in that birth, vis-a-vis our parents. But I do not believe there is a mechanism that assures that "a natal chart nine months later" is going to be either a "match" to our karmic development, or even a pleasant, happy chart to own. I think this is, in the great majority of incarnations, just a random acquisition.
Q: The Hindus have sometimes referred to "the lords of karma" and such things. Are there not "Lords of Karma" who make sure everybody's chart, nine months later, is the right one?
A: Well, my mind says "What would the Lords of Karma have to do with the number 9 or the Gregorian calender and so on?" Or how are planets at conception related to a point in time 9 months later?
The uneasy observation I've made is that parents, here in this world, constantly do unwise and random things with their children. We sometimes hear about neglectful parents who put their kids into dangerous situations subject to chaos. Like, imagine some drifter family, if you like, who comes into a strange town and the mother says to the first person she sees, "Here's my kid. Could you watch them today? We'll be back to town around sundown."
We'd view such parents as crazy and criminally neglectful, because there is no guarantee of safety then to their kids and great danger. Yet I think something similar is happening when a parent dumps their kid in kindergarten without knowing anything about the kids they'll be around all day, not really knowing the teachers personally, not really knowing what's going to be taught to their kid. I think that's a pretty random thing to do, as a parent, actually. We see parents relinquishing all protection and control with their kids in a great many instances. So my view is that parents who do NOT check out the natal chart, 9 months away, before procreating -- are in this category of neglectful, clueless parents who are subjecting their kids to random things. I think it's the norm, in this world, to subject your kids to random things and to be clueless about what's happening to them, and I think failure to study the nine-months-away birth chart, prior to copulation -- is a common feature of parental irresponsibility in the present Age. So I think it's that our parents are supposed to be "the lords of karma" for their kids, but they are inept. Just like the parents dropping their kid off in a strange town, hoping they'll be cared for by strangers -- is inept. And so is the parent dumping their kid in public school. Or sending their teenage off to a college that will be a continuous beer bacchanal and orgy. Many examples could be sited.
Q: So you're saying most of us get some random chart that has little to do with our inner reality, and that it's just acquired randomly because our parents were not hip to astrology and using it for the birth?
A. Yes. That the view I am developing today. So I have an "astrologer" and "occultist" sort of chart, but I don't think this is really core to my soul or the incarnational wine, if you will, of my soul. I think it's just something I've grown into because of the original breath-imprint, at birth, or it's how the earthly ego of this incarnation has formed. It's like a suit of clothes, to the soul. The Svetasvatara Upanishad, speaking of the embodied soul, says:
"It is not female, it is not male, nor is it neuter. Whatever body it takes, with that it becomes united."
This verse is often taken to refer to incarnations in various bodies such as a frog, a bird, a fox, a human. It's saying that our jiva, or soul becomes totally identified with these vastly different beings and lives. To illustrate the delusive power of this identification the Hindus tell a story where the god Vishnu messes up and gets a birth as a pig in a farmer's sty. The other gods were distressed about it and were trying to get him to abandon this embarrassment and re-take his throne as Vishnu the god of preservation and boons. But Vishnu had gotten very accustomed to it his life as a pig. He said to his beseeching god friends: "Look, I have this nice pig wife and family, and this nice cool soothing mud and I have these little piglets..."
Taking an incarnational scenario that wide open and wild, some occultists state that it's very difficult for soul who's lived as a human a few times to revert to an animal birth. If this verse is saying jivas can totally identify with these profoundly different creatures and their lives -- it becomes very easy to imagine a jiva, in a human birth, uniting his identity with something more subtle like a natal chart and its particular traits and stories. We can take the Upanishad verse as saying that souls totally become united with the natal chart, whatever it is. That it's not the other way around: The chart doesn't get united with us or follow us. Rather, we become "united" -- as strangely and bizarrely as Vishnu getting comfortable with a pig's life -- with whatever chart we ended up with. We think "I am this. I have Venus square my Saturn." I am a Virgo Sun, etc." We see it going on and we totally take it on, unite with it. And this is tragic. And stupid.
Q: It would be hard for most astrology types to entertain this possibility. It makes the world and human life seem very random.
A: Well, sages such as Buddha and Krsna say this is a samsara, which in part implies a chaotic, nonsensical place. When one gets the state of pratyahara, by religious practice of meditation, one sees that it is indeed a wild, chaotic place seemingly full of deluded demons talking nonsense. That same Upanishad, the Svetasvatara, describes this world as "chaos." Twice!
"By realizing Him who is subtler than the subtlest, who dwells in the midst of the chaos [of the world]...one attains supreme peace."
"He who knows the Lord, who is without beginning and end, who stands in the midst of the chaos...
So it seems at least scriptures are on my side when I posit that birth charts are acquired randomly and stupidly. This view has been firmed up by my work as a locational astrologer, because I see people continually getting different charts -- charts that really work and produce new phenomena -- and doing it randomly and stupidly. That is to say, people make all kinds of stupid moves. In doing it they get new Rising Signs and interests, a new money house which may be worse than what they had, etc. They often regret their moves and these new house systems they acquired. So if "stupid new charts" are continuously being acquired by us, why couldn't we consider that the original one was also a blunder? Meanwhile, the people who are most identified with their natal charts -- because they know about astrology and are always saying "This is me" -- take longer to acquire the new, different chart after relocation. They are the hardest to work with because they are more united to that first chart and cling to it more. They are hypnotized with "THIS is ME" and are always firming it up with their mind, looking for certain things, magnifying those, and ignoring other things.
Taking timing. I have often said "Those who make decisions about the future ought to know something about the future." How many times I've seen a Halloween Night transpire on a night when the Moon is in affliction to Saturn, rather than perhaps sextiling Venus or something nice like that. And I feel sad seeing the kids then getting rained on, or finding houses dark and unresponsive, or suddenly tales that night of a nefarious neighbor putting bad things in their sacks. Yet it would have been a totally different night, and fun, had the elders (where are they?) chosen to do it the next night, or perhaps the night before.
Such things as Halloween and other holidays are actually attempts to repeat a nice set of transits that occurred at some far away time. We might imagine that Venus was sextiling Jupiter during the first Thanksgiving, for example. Why wouldn't we want to use those same kind of nice factors when trying to duplicate that good feeling? I see people plan a party night without any understanding of what the moon will be doing that night. They desire a festive, fun time like that time in the past. Yet they pick Moon-Dodecile-Mars night and there's John having a seizure on the floor or two women getting into an argument or the bowl shattering on the floor or whatever. They made a decision about the future with no knowledge about the future.
Why should the Lords of Karma -- whoever they are -- save us from making stupid decisions about the future? Especially when we are presumably using their own prime powers of space/time selection, albeit stupidly or blindly? Likewise, why should they make sure a child's chart turns out to be rather happy and successful, just because the parents don't have a clue and make no effort to give that to their child? This world is a random, samsaric place loaded with idiots and idiotic actions. Why should the Lords of Karma have to fix all that? We are supposed to become Lords of karma ourselves.
Q: So you are suggesting that for anybody to be assured a pleasant or happy natal chart, they need to rush towards parents, in the bardo, who are aware of astrology and using it to time a birth 9 months off. This would be a rare situation.
A: Yes, and that these parents would be a rare example of really conscious parents using wisdom on behalf of their children. And the astrology would have to be pretty good! Which is almost unimaginable. But that this would be normative in a higher age. Keep in mind that we are at the bottom of the Dark Age (Kali Yuga) at present so it makes sense that parents would use sex harem-scarem and get random outcomes for their children. The Bhagavad-Gita says that lesser types get cast down into "ignorant wombs."
It seems to be that a "wise womb" would be a mother who knows about all kinds of things relative to the well-being and protection of her child, starting with trying to get it a good birth rather than a just "whatever, I won't even look at that possible due date." A truly high-class Golden Age mother might even be able to deliver at will, going for a certain moon or even rising sign, as in the myth about Alexander the Great's mother. This is likely beyond us, here now. Perhaps this is a "Satya Yuga" (Golden Age) concept and foreign to speak of it now.
Q: But this implies that no matter our striving, our good works, or purification we do in this life -- there is no way to guarantee that we get a nice natal chart in future. That is a bit depressing.
A: No, that's not what I think. I think we can and do get karmic upgrade life after life. And part of that is that we end up selecting better and wiser parents. We don't have to know about that in the bardos, we only have to have improving karma and we'll get more fortunate birth charts though primal impulses like recognition of good "light" in the mating couple. (Keeping in mind the incarnational process laid out in the Tibetan Book Of The Dead etc.)
So, a more refined soul, choosing parents, does not know, "Oh, the woman is avid about breastfeeding and doesn't believe in formula." The soul doesn't need to know: "That daddy has it all figured out how to avoid destructive vaccinations." In the astral state we can't conceive of any worldly concepts like these related to the parents. We would also not be aware, "Oh, cool, these two are using astrology to time this birth and think they've picked out a pleasant chart." We only get attracted to a better light, and the rest takes care of itself.
Such higher parents will, I am saying, also be using astrological timing just as higher parents might have an organic garden, make their own baby food, read great stories to their child, and so on.
But I also I think it's a part of spiritual development that we get good instincts. These come into play when choosing a birth. The really higher grade parents might simply use very good instincts regarding procreation -- as you used instinct in choosing them -- and may know nothing about the chart 9 months away. A really saintly mother-father couple may be like this, free of chart knowledge but producing satvic results in childbirth. For a divinely connected couple there is also the simple phenomenon of getting omens and reading signs. "Do it now! This is what's coming!" God doesn't really want things to be hard or complicated, for the lucky ones.
The path is to get into a state of Grace, and in that state instincts finally take care of everything. Yet for the vast majority of parents, good parenting would involve looking ahead 9 months, at the likely chart, when going for a child. I think we live in such a dark age today that few parents do this. When you understand the significance of natal chart factors, most parents today are like the aforementioned drifter parents who show up in a strange town and hand their kid to the first random stranger to babysit. To not look ahead to nine months later, to see what is there for your desired child, is as unskilled and uncaring as that.
Q: So in your view each person on earth has little to do, inherently at the soul level, with their natal or locational charts.
I think each of us experiences a wide array of often very different natal charts, across incarnations, and that what happens is that wisdom is acquired through all of them. The more wisdom is acquired the better one can deal with harsh or difficult charts if acquired. A wiser jiva, having a chart with huge burdens or problems, still comes off high end with it, as he lives his life with that millstone. There is a soul quality that shines through, whether the chart happens to be harsh or fortunate. And this comes with incarnational experience. Again the chart is like a suit of clothes, and some wear, say, a Saturn-Conjunct-Pluto well, others less well. Then I think there is the phenomenon of overlap. If I happen to have lived out some charts that had "occultist/astrologer" content to them, and then I get this one I have now, there is a firming up of those themes because my jiva, or inner self, has some familiarity with occultism from other random chart acquisitions. It's like a guy who's traveling in Europe and he's stayed in 5 fancy hotels in the past, but the guy he's with, never done so. The first guy is going to have some skill and enjoyment of this new fancy hotel. The other guy, he doesn't have many references. But the 2nd guy might be really at home and skilled in a forest, because of "forest dweller" or "hardship" overlaps across incarnations. Stronger and weaker resonances rise up from our vast collection of past charts, and express through the present chart to some degree, though the present chart was randomly acquired and not any kind of perfect match to your soul.
Q: So this theory leaves you and me with natal charts that are randomly acquired and don't have much particular to do with our true self.
A: Yes. And one of the reasons I feel I am right is that this possibility gives me a feeling of liberation and joy. My mind expands when I ponder this possibility. My prime work in life, my real quest, has been to figure out how slavery to the chart can be ended or at least attenuated and made more benign. If this is even going to be a possibility, there has to be a breaking up of some of the mental ideas that further enslave us to our present chart. I think that astrologers identifying with the chart saying "this is me, deeply me" -- is a kind of pathological posture that makes us more enslaved. If one is working on a theory that the chart can be dissolved, or effaced, or given an acid bath through samadhi or immersion in sat-chit-ananda, or any other theory, my approach of "random births" very much helps with this process. Suddenly there is "nothing sacred" about this chart and you can start to imagine "What if I'd had had this other sort of chart?" In the state of sleep, and the rare yogic state called samadhi, and even in the breathless state they call kumbhaka -- one is already released from this particular chart. At some point the mind and it's belief "I am this, I'm the guy with the Capricorn moon" -- has to give way and find some new way of thinking, if there is going to be freedom. When I ponder "Parents often do stupid things and I can think of a list of stupid things my parents did that gave me bad experiences" -- and when I realize that getting me this birth chart was just one of those things they did stupidly and it has little to do with the essential me, it was like the light went on in my head. It made my mind more spacious for other thoughts to come in.
Q: You spoke of "adepts" and the Buddhist adepts observing the process of incarnations during, presumably, their trance or samadhi states. Do you think there is a way for a developed soul, in the astral plane between births, to intentionally choose birth charts that he desired, i.e. getting with the right couple at the right time and so on?
A: A very, very highly advanced adept might be able to retain some "astrology mind" from this world if he stayed in the bardo only a short time and was used to that state, and used to carrying earthly knowledge a bit while in that state. He could conceivably have a target date in mind, and use symbols or star configurations to orient to that from the bardo. But I do not believe it is possible to be in the astral plane and "read an ephemeris page" from this world, have that page be accurate, or understand it with the worldly astrologer-mind. If you are "reading an ephemeris page on earth" from the astral plane it's not the page you think it is, back on "earth." Earth is gone. You are holding it together with your mind, and it will have flaws and errors compared to "the one back on earth." It will even keep changing, in keeping with astral mind erections. Not gonna work!
An adept is going to choose a birth using things more like visions of that future possible birth. He may see that approaching conception (following that couple around as one of the cupids) as being associated with certain images or visions of the future person. Likely there is a vast array of possible techniques available to adepts, in choosing a birth. But not reading an ephemeris from the astral. Can't because the astral mind is very different.
The Yoga-Sutra broaches a strange topic, that of the adept (yogi) occupying more than one body at a time here on earth. There is in the yogic lore of India a related phenomenon of a yogi entering another body that is about to expire, and living on through it, thus extending his earth experience. It is a fact that with mastery of the first type of samadhi (savikalpa samadhi) by religious development one leaves his body at will and wanders about. It's also a fact that if another jiva has relinquished his/her hold on their body through pain, depression, or the death process -- it is an easy thing to enter that body. Then with one's own superior prana that body's problems at that time can be reversed or ameliorated.
If we entertain that as possible for the adept, he would be also acquiring that expiring body's chart in the form of bodily samskaras. He would likely start to take on the personality and life experience that pertained to that body. This is the only way I could imagine an adept actually "getting the chart he chooses." This body snatcher would have to, of course, know that individual's birth date etc., saying "I like that chart." But now we are getting far afield into strange realms. In short, adepts would have methods that are varied and personal for intentionally getting pleasanter births. But doing our purification, our meditation, and positive thought in this life is sufficient, for the broad generality of mankind, to improve future births and it comes down to recognizing the higher quality of light plus reading symbols. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, for example, tells the transmigrating soul to keep away from "grassy fields and caves" because this implies wandering towards an animal birth. It advises instead to go towards mansions and flower gardens when seen in vision. Yet this could backfire I imagine. One could get it wrong. The best solution is likely attraction to higher light and right intuitive reading of symbols and visions seen in the bardo. I think that a good practice is to visualize your next mother father, what they're to be like, along with their house and physical location, and who's around them. Spending time on these visualizations probably gives you good content to both manifest and read during the next Bardo.
Q: How does an astrology reading relate to psychic readings? Is there any overlap?
A: They are two different things, but there will be overlap depending on the astrologer. I have always viewed myself as a pure astrologer, but I get accused a lot of being psychic. I say "accused" because I have never tried to use psychic ability in my readings, and I preferred to understand the astrology as astrology. One of my earliest astrology readings by another, when I was first getting curious about it, was done by a woman who was actually -- it turned out -- a psychic. I didn't know this. She was actually using astrology charts in the same way Tarot readers use the Tarot, to stimulate psychic impressions.
This was disappointing to me because I wanted to learn about my chart in terms of the astrological lore or laws -- if there were any. When I asked her, "Why are you saying this? Show me in my chart where it indicates this" -- she couldn't answer and she became agitated. She didn't know the lore or literature; couldn't explain my chart to me in the sort of technical way I was hoping. But looking at charts all the time will develop the intuition.
It happened to me. Certainly when that happens, you are going to be a better astrologer than one who is all technical, all lore, but has no intuition. Because a given astrological factor can manifest in multifarious ways. A pure psychic can read the tea leaves, read from the way the birds are acting around their bird feeder, read from a rune throw, read from sensations in their body, or read off of astrological charts even if they've never studied astrology. A pure astrologer can't, but if they are highly experienced and good at the lore, their reading could be more instructive than the psychic, with a bigger framework whereas psychics tend to bring up all sorts of random, odd things without a view of the client's big framework.
I like to think of astrology as the most elegant form of runes/Tarot etc. Because there is so much conscious knowledge to it; things you can explain, to another, and principles you can apply that anyone can learn. So they are different, but there will always be some overlap if the astrologer has some intuition. I have never read any book on developing your intuition, or made efforts to do so. But it did grow in me naturally over time.
Q: So do you use intuition in your readings?
A: I don't do it consciously, but it appears that I do it unconsciously. There is a moment where it appears to kick in nowadays, and that's when I first begin to look at the client's chart. I will see some problem in their current location, and I'm looking for it, and I say "Ah, there's the problem." Then I start visualizing how far east or west they might have to go to lose that problem, just because I want to look at my first alternative chart for them. And in that moment a town often arises in my mind. Maybe they are in North Carolina and I'm just "guessing" they would get some different house ruler some ways to the west, and so I just take a stab. And with one client my mind might think "Taos," with another "Fort Collins," with another "Boulder," and with another "Santa Fe." But in each case I was just trying to take a stab at a certain longitudinal area to the west that I think might be that far. But I don't know why I think of one town versus another in that NM/CO area, because generally a person's charts would be the same up and down that area. And that's where I think I get an intuitive hit. Because it often turns out that the first place I thought of, when examining it and trying it against others, turns out to be the best technical situation. Then I end up just using close study of the charts to, in many cases, confirm what I had first "thought of." In some cases it speeds up my hunt. But I don't try to do this. And if my initial thoughts didn't turn out to be technically best, I would abandon them. There is also a dimension related to my own will, my own visualization for the client, and my own word.
Q: What does this mean?
Well, there is a power in word. I try to use words to benefit my clients; to serve them. And I have to believe in that thing -- that dream they have -- to speak about it with faith. And I think there are factors like that in my work. I have often been surprised at some of the reports I've had from relocated clients. "This particular thing happened just like you said" they say, and I think "Wait, I said that?" It will be some particular thing that you can't really get out of a chart with pure astrology. At times I have thought that my word and putting that vision in their mind played a role in bringing it about. There are spiritual dimensions to this work that can't be avoided in the end. And a lot of astrologers load their clients down with negative spin, negative words, and negative readings, and that's not a nice thing. They are, in fact, just pressing their negative will upon the client.
Q: If you see something negative in the chart, coming up, do you tell them?
A: I would lay out to them the range of possibilities from high-end to low end, not mention the low-end much. If you do that, you are hurting the client, giving them fear and negative visualizations, and making it more likely they manifest some low end. I direct their minds to the high-end possibilities. Nothing can be exactly predicted with astrology, only a range of things from high-end to low. By "high" I mean easy, even pleasant things (with the bad transit), and by low-end I mean the dire, undesirable things. I would prefer to work within the context of "should I do this thing, or not?" (sue the government, move, get married, go to France in September...) Given whatever transits that apply, I'd either advise for or against. Perhaps I'd tell them "If you do this, then, you're going to get this/that low-end possibilities." In this case, see, they have an out. They don't have to do that thing. It is action that makes a transit expand in its potential. The more actions you take during a bad transit, the more trouble expands. So if they are insisting on taking an action that is dangerous, then I might mention low-end to warn them off of that. So if trouble is coming up, I tell my client the ways to "keep their head down" or lie low, and how to avoid most of the trouble. I have never stated to anybody "This bad thing is going to happen." Astrologers like that are miscreants and troublesome people on this earth. Because there is no bad thing seen in the charts that has to happen. There is always protection available. A wide array of protections are available, no matter what the transit. This is grace.
Q: What is the best way to learn astrology?
A: In the end, it's looking at a lot of charts, charts of people you know personally or can know something from the public realm, such as by reading biographies and autobiographies. I found that the astrology books were often wrong or did not present reliable rules. So early on I just started "looking at the charts." This includes watching transits and progressions -- yours and everybody else's. Based on my clients I've looked at well over 10 thousand by now, and before that, I was studying hundreds of them, people I knew, famous people, etc. At the beginning I was frustrated that a lot of statements by astrologers in books didn't necessarily hold true. Yet I knew I was onto something true. I began looking for reliable laws, and I did this by looking at many, many charts, trying out different systems and theories, asking a lot of questions. And the great thing about this is you are not approaching it with solidified preconceptions, so you end up seeing things others have been missing.
Q: Could you give any examples of things in books that you found to be unreliable or wrong?
A: OK. Well, most books write that the Sextile aspect is positive, fortunate, easy. But this is often not true. With the Sextile there is really just a "heavy mixing" between two planets. So, when Mercury sextiles your Saturn in a transit, there is a heavy mixing of Saturn with Mercury. And you will find there are difficulties then. At best you could say that the troubles are pretty workable and organized. I remember many years ago, as I was starting to use astrological timings more and more, I picked a "Moon-Sextile-Saturn" afternoon for going to the DMV because books said that was a time you got on well with authority figures, the law, etc. It was some routine thing with a vehicle title. But you know how the DMV is, you want minimum hassles, delays, red tape. But the lady at the DMV (a Mexican, incidentally) basically checked every jot and tittle. She was all business and threw the book at me in terms of regulations, and I was turned away having to come up with some other document. Watching the Sextile many years from that day, I see it can be both bad and good. The prime thing you can say about the Sextile is that it produces strong interactions with people. And with sextiles and even trines from Saturn, the functioning of that planet, you could say, is impaired or at least slowed down. When Saturn touches anything, it cools it down, makes it at least sluggish.
Another example is how many books describe Jupiter-Square-Saturn in a mostly negative way. Yet you find it in the charts of successful businesspeople, wealthy persons, and not a few billionaires. It's easy to explain why, metaphysically, such would be the case.
Q: So a lesson there would be that when people study astrology, from books, they should take things with reserve, get a lot of opinions.
A: Yes. I say: Don't bite down too hard on the opinions of others, including what's written in books, when you begin studying astrology thinking "This is it! This is the law! I know the secret now. I read it in a book." It's not wise. You'll make mistakes. Some astrological observers are better than others, and a lot of them, when they write their opinions, are basically going off a theory rather than real life experience. When Dane Rudhyar opined that the Quincunx is a minor aspect, he was just trying to fit them into an elegant theory. In human terms they are not minor. I have not studied astrological books for a great many years because I find the study of the charts and people themselves more engrossing and challenging.
Another example would be the ideas people have about Mercury retrograde. I get clients who want to postpone a reading because Mercury is retrograde. Yet in their case, doing it during the Merc Retrograde is the most appropriate thing. Because what happens then is that the conventional, everyday Mercury things get bogged down, and instead people start doing the unusual Mercury things that they have long set aside. So, they tend to "write that letter" they've been wanting to write for 6 months then, that being a thing they don't do much any more. They go to a counselor then though they don't usually go to counselors. They have a certain conversation that deals with a lot of stuff, background issues, that have been hanging around forever -- but normally those conversations don't usually take place. They do their unconventional Mercury things. To that person I might ask: Do you get a lot of astrological readings? and they say "no" I point out that the Merc Retrograde is why they're coming to me. If that was somebody who got an astrological reading every week, then perhaps for them, because readings are conventional activity for them, the Rx would give them a messy reading. But not for the others.
You can imagine conventional Mercury activity (transactions, checkout lines, transit) as being like a big river rushing forward. Along the sides of the river there are little inlets, nooks and crannies. There are back movements there -- eddies -- and things getting stuck along the sides of the river. They are caught there by the onrushing river and never moving on. If the river were to become still or change directions, all these things would become loose and become free to move again.
Mercury Retrograde is like that. It loosens up the Mercury activities that have been stuck on the sides of the onrushing river. Under the Mercury Retrograde we naturally do the more subtle, delicate "Mercury things" and clear the sort of Mercury tasks we don't get to normally.
Q: So it's clear that people get ideas in their head about astrology that may cause, if you will, a sort of distortion of life, causing them to do unnatural things or miss what is natural.
A: Yes indeed. An inexperienced obsession with astrology interferes with natural processes and instincts and causes people to do stupid things. And it's usually because of something they read in a book. Or even lots of books.
Q: Can you give another example of a book idea that you regard as false or problematic?
A: Well, a sad one, and a little funny, is seeing all those women moving to "Venus lines" on their Astrocartography map because they think they will get a mate there; find marriage. This is because of the silly text Jim Lewis placed in his original "astrocartography" booklet. I get them all the time. The conversation goes like this:
Client: I still have no guy and I even moved to my Venus line five years ago.
Me: Which one?
Client: The strongest one, the Venus Descending.
Me: Ah, yes. The one where Venus is even right there conjunct your marriage cusp.
Me: Let me guess. I bet you have a lot of lady friends, right?
Client: Oh, yea, I have loads of girlfriends.
Me: And I bet they are good looking.
Client: Oh, yea, it's weird, all my girlfriends are like fashion models.
Me: And they are glamorous, dress well, have great hair, wear makeup, like to sit around and have fun and have food and enjoy themselves with you...
Client: Oh, yea, we're always hanging out. They are a lot of fun. My buds.
Me: Ok, don't you know that Venus is female planet? What Venus-DSC guarantees is pretty girlfriends.
Client: Oh geez.
So they have made this major change in their life, moved to a place and spent years there, based on faulty opinions in an astrology book, one that is considered authoritative.
Q: This is devastating.
A: I know. But, now they know.
Q: How many moves have you made since discovering locational astrology?
A: Three, since discovering it in my birth state of Iowa. I have made 3 astrologically inspired moves over a span of 32 years.
Q: That's not many moves in 32 years.
A: I guess not! Typically my clients have 10 or 20 moves behind them.
Q: Summarize your moves.
Since the discovery of locational astrology to now 32 years later, I've lived in four states. One of these, Oregon, was not an astrological move; I considered the chart to be the same as my Calif. chart, and it was. I did it because I was bored with Ojai and wanted to be closer to some of my children. The 3rd astrological move, to Montana, was recent, in my old age. The states were Alaska, California, Oregon, and recently, Montana. I was in California about 15 years, and with "my California Chart" about 22 years.
So there were three that had astrological study behind them. It wasn't until age 60 that I was able to make a move based on ripe knowledge. That was my 3rd astrological move, recently to Montana. So it was "a stupid ACG map move," then a move using a few new ideas I wanted to try out, then a move late in life finally, that had a lot of study behind it. I was obsessed with this topic ever since I discovered it was real.
Q: Shouldn't a locational astrologer make more moves in order to learn and test his theories?
That would be ideal. I always wanted to try more experiments personally, but I'm a family man, and life happens. Sometimes you get held in a place. But indeed, I used to feel bad I didn't move more, to keep my knowledge fresh and personal. Clients sometimes ask me: "Have you been there?" and there were not really many places that I had been. During the 20-year California period I craved to try out some of my riper and better ideas and to have that experience again, of "seeing the new chart come in." But life happens. I stayed in the "California Chart" (which included Oregon) about 25 years, even though it was a difficult chart and the result of my first experiment using my own ideas, because that's what my family needed. But I had begun to get much information from my clients, from my client interviews. Plus, I learned a great deal from the 2 astrological moves that I did, and am learning now again from this third one. When being an adventurer with this new knowledge, you learn from your mistakes as well as the things you do right. But yea, I have sometimes felt like a professor eager to do a Practicum myself or have a "sabbatical" to do it first hand again. Still there's nothing like talking to 15,000 people in their current location, having their birth data.
Q: You felt you were learning by hearing the stories of your clients.
A: Very much. It's has to be the best way to learn. Because you get to deal with infinitely more factors and situations that way -- than what's available in one's own chart. I feel very lucky that I developed the kind of practice that involved me doing interviews with people on a daily basis -- about their real lives in that location. It was the way I've learned the most. Moving all the time, without good reason, would make for a broken up and crazy life. My clients, likewise, often stay in the recommended location a pretty long time, like me, which I am proud of.
Q: Can you tell us something about your three astrological moves?
A: The move to Alaska was after finding Jim Lewis' "Astrocartography map" and I had no clue what I was doing. But I moved right to the place that the map appeared to indicate was "lucky." Just like many people have done. I found out from that move that everybody has a locational "house of children," that I had had an excellent one already in Iowa, and now I didn't like how things were going for my kids. Lesson: You will always be losing something when you make a major move east or west, even though you may be gaining another thing.
Move #2, to California. After a few months of wandering back to our home town and sojourning in the midwest based on a dream (literally in sleep) that my wife had, this was the first where I got to try out some of my new ideas beyond the Astrocartography map ideas.
At that time I was most seeking to assist one of my children who had a handicap, and I basically put all the eggs in that basket, trying to give her things like "Mars in the 3rd House" and Sagg rising. At that time I knew about the significance of the new locational rising sign, and the fact that there are planets in other houses, doing their thing, and I was very interested in trines to the midheaven/ascendant. I was trying to correlate the charts of six people (my family) and it was a VERY difficult decision to make. The move to California became by biggest learning move. I found out the most from it.
My third astrological move, just recently at 59, was the first one where I was able to think just "for me" plus use the knowledge I had gained over the preceding 30 years. It was the first one I got to do for myself where I had a clue what I was doing. I have been pleased with the outcome, and experiencing and watching the new locational chart form has been exciting and inspiring. It has been very confirmatory to the theories and techniques I honed in my long period in California/Oregon.
Q: Does a person have to move every few years to have the good benefits locational astrology is supposed to give?
A: It depends on what you have available to you for charts, and it depends on the person and what they are seeking. All you can do in life is "catch a harvest." Catching a harvest is actually what everybody wants. When I say "harvest" it means "this situation is improving," or "these conditions are improving and I'm blissful about that." Catching a harvest is all anybody is seeking, whether they are aware of astrology or not.
The majority of my clients are seeking to stay somewhere for a while. In these days "long term" for most people would mean 10 years or more. Short term might mean 2 or 3 years. I am usually looking for a place the client can invest themselves. Especially if they are a family, and especially if they say that's what they want.
But you can't find any location where conditions don't fluctuate, or where a given harvest doesn't start winding down. I have some clients who are delighted to go to a place for 1-2 years if those 1-2 years will be exciting and give them the kind of harvest -- it's really a harvest of experience -- that they want. These are often single people, or people who are done with career and family, and want adventures.
To stay in a location when you're not getting the life- harvests you want (writing that book, creating that business, falling in love) is pointless if there is nobody who needs you to stay there. But to move around a lot when you don't know what you're doing and simply getting a random mix of good and bad experiences, without understanding them, is sad.
So the answer to that question is: You can stay somewhere 30 years but don't expect conditions to remain the same there for 30 years. If you want to "surf the coherency waves" you would need to move now and then -- like a lot of successful people actually do instinctively. The purpose for most people is not "to stay in one place" adamantly, but to get the kinds of experience-harvests that they desire. I would have liked to have made more moves than I have made. But I was a family man. If one has a friendly enough 4th house structure there may be a lot of good in staying in one place lifelong, or for 30 years or whatever. Still, that person will be building up itches and hungers that are not satisfied in the location. Every farmer you find on his same land 40 years later has that "dream" to, you know, sail the Caribbean or explore castles in France or whatever.
The fact is you can't find a location for anybody that they will never question. That's because of the cycle of Saturn. Every 7 years Saturn will hit the locational 4th House ruler with a square, opposition, or conjunction. At that time, pretty much everybody questions their location seriously. They see flaws to "these surroundings" or "this town" or "this culture" and think "Should we move?" This is unavoidable for all. Whether they should or not -- that's another story. What I try to answer. Sometimes, things are about to get better than ever if they will stay put. That's my answer to some clients.
But let's say we have gram and gramps and they have been on the same farm for 60 years. Nevertheless there were those years where the Saturn transit came, and they heavily questioned staying; considered leaving. It's impossible for me to take away these Saturn challenges to their 4th House every 7 years. So in some cases, if they have no reason to stay, and I think they've already had their best harvest there, I'll recommend a move. If I can find something worth moving for. Other times, I'll urge them to stay put longer. Either because it's the least damaging option or because they're about to have a turn to the good, where they are.
Q: What is the hardest part of your work?
A: Looking at another chart and seeing the painful, difficult things that many people are dealing with. Say, progressing Saturn has been squaring their Mercury for 15 years, within 3 degrees and has 15 more years to go. Looking at that and visualizing what that must be doing based on the house system (and hearing it from them too). It's sort of a burden just to look at these things and have to picture it. In a way I do some living vicariously through others, as I look at so many charts. Lots of suffering people out there! The 2nd thing that's hard is when I know that moving won't help them, at least right now, and having to tell them that opinion. The fact is some people are just stuck with painful situations, and that's hard to see and hard to bear. I'm a cure-oriented astrologer and my clients are looking for a cure. They are asking for a lot. It's hard when I can't give it.
Q: But sometimes you can?
A: Definitely. Or else I wouldn't do this.
Q: What is the happiest part of your work?
A: When I hear from a moved client and they are happy and gushing about the changes they've had. The other part is just the study itself, testing theories, finding out new things. When someone's telling a serious and colorful tale, about a problem, and we're pretty solid with the birth time, and there's nothing obvious to explain it -- I love trying to figure that out. It leads you to new things. I'm sort of amazed at some of the things I've learned, technically. Then any new vista, starting to study it. Like I recently began to pay attention to fixed stars. That's a whole new horizon for me and very, very interesting. Astrological knowledge is endless. You never know it all. And the best find of all is when someone has harsh factors, and you're sure the chart is accurate, but they are running really high end, hardly having any negative impacts from those factors. Especially if they are some kind of spiritual practitioner, you sometimes get a portal into "grace factors." How people can actually get "off the chart" and have protection and grace. This is the holy grail of my life, and now and then I get a client who's showing this.
Q: Is this a lucrative profession for you?
A: For me it's not, because I refund too many people and don't advise them to move. I lose a lot of money that way. But I was never motivated by money and never wanted to be a slave or on a work treadmill. I like a lot of time for study, activism, creative hobbies, and meditation. Once I had "just enough" money I was pretty satisfied. I was always more motivated by the goal of "figuring things out. How does it work? What is karma? How does it work? How can you change things?"
Q: You're unusual in turning people down and refunding them. How do they respond to this? Are they upset?
A: A lot of them are. But I try to give them something of value in my short "stumped" talk to them explaining why. Many times in that talk I point out to them good things they are already carrying in their current location, some of the positive themes they already have that they take for granted. They can tell that I'm thinking what's for their best, and a lot of them are very glad later on that they didn't move. Because things change in every person's locational conditions, everywhere, I invite them to call me back in 2 years or more. It's surprising that a lot of them do. They'll call me 2-3 years later and say: "Here I am. Still here. Can we try again?" It's touching actually. I've always tried to follow that Hippocratic Oath thing of "first do no harm," and I prefer to sleep well at night over taking money and directing everybody who calls me to move. It's simply not always the case that you'll get worthwhile results, at that time, by moving.
Q: Most other astrologers will always recommend some location if they somebody pays and asks.
A: Yes, and I say that's either because they are not experienced, or not honest. Probably mostly the former. It's sort of on axiom that the less you know about a topic the easier things seem; the more you know about it, the harder it gets. The timing aspect is a very difficult thing to be reckoned with. That is, you can't just "move whenever you want" and have it turn out well. There is a lawfulness to moves. Moves done under the wrong transits tend to give mixed results no matter how the chart looks, and Saturn generally needs to be in the right place. Saturn moves slowly. Basically one may need to wait quite a while to make a move that is ripe, lawful, one that sticks, and has a solid outcome. It's usually the lack of a proper transit that makes me turn down some clients. They just need to wait.
Q: Are there tradeoffs to most moves? They'll gain this, but they might lose that? How do you deal with that?
A: Absolutely! Very much. Me evaluating the tradeoffs a client will have -- that's very basic to my thinking whenever I'm on the hunt for a client. It's up to me to not allow them to go into a tradeoff situation that's not worth it. One they'll regret. The fact is, you can usually GET them that thing that they hanker for. But often there will be a tradeoff that I'm not willing to get involved with. It's my job to watch that, and this is where ethics and caring are really crucial.
Q: What are some examples of tradeoffs?
A: Finding them a location where they'll make more money, but the happiness of their children will deteriorate. Or a place where they'll get that book written and maybe even have a career as a writer, but their marriage will become troubled. That's why I usually ask clients whether they have children, want to know if they are happily married, etc. I have seen a LOT of ACG readings where the astrologers has thrown away some great boon the client's been enjoying, throwing them to the wolves in some realm of life they've always had good. It would be so easy to give the client that thing they're itching about now, but throw away things they would never believe could be lost. I call that the "deal with the Devil."
Q: Explain "deal with the Devil."
A: In European and Christian lore -- and other cultures too -- there are stories about people who deeply desire some thing, and they meet some odd character who turns out to be the devil. And the devil says "You can have this. But you will have to give me THAT." Maybe it's that they want a to be rich. And the devil says, "OK, but you'll have to give me your first born" and the character has no children and thinks "Oh, that'll never happen." And it turns out he has great sorrow when the devil calls in the bargain. I think stories like that are about the duality of life and the tradeoffs inherent in this samsara. "This is good, that is bad." That duality is always there in all lives, in all locations.
Q: So how do you deal with the tradeoff problem?
A: I try to identify acceptable losses as compared to significant gains that will give the client happiness for a time. And I avoid unacceptable losses. I have turned down many clients because there was no way to give them what they want because of negative changes to the House of Children, and they have children. They say "My kids are happy and healthy" and they believe that could never change. I know how bad it could get. They may never have to find that out.
Q: Is there a perfect locational chart?
A: No, because conditions are always changing as transits/progressions move. And you have to put Saturn somewhere. And you have to put the coming Saturn transit somewhere and let it hit something. There are only blissful developments for a time, whether that time is 3 years, 10 years, or 50 years -- depending on the transits/progressions they have available. It's common that, with me, 10-15 years later my client has had some experiences and fulfillments, scratched some itches, and now they are sort of like "been there, done that" and they have some totally new goal. And they often call me, 15 or 20 years later, wanting another ride.
Q: As people change goals, they sometimes require a new location for best results.
A: If they're serious about those. You know, it's a lot like moving in the bed. You're lying there asleep for a long time and pretty soon you get restless and uncomfortable. That position felt good when you assumed it. But now you've been in that position too long. You naturally move and take another position in the bed, and it feels really good. In like manner let's say a person has a chronically Saturn-afflicted Mercury. They have been living with Mercury-ruling-6th for 20 years. What happens is there is an abrasive or destructive effect in the 6th house, and it's built up. They are sickly all the time, have health problems, and do jobs they hate. It's like cracks and fissures, as it were, have built up in their 6th house. It's been under pressure too long. They hurt there.
But maybe they have a really excellent location ruler of 3rd, so they've learned a lot, read a lot of books, taken lots of courses, written a lot, and are loaded with more knowledge than they can even use.
So what can happen (if lucky) is we take that 6th and give it a nice coherent ruler, and it feels like "Aaah!" Like moving in the bed. The 6th House starts to get healed; comforted. Meanwhile, we could give their 3rd the bad ruler, or some more problematic ruler, and it's like there is a lot of "fat" on that house already. So they don't really experience much pain by taking a hit in 3rd. They know so much, have read so much, taken so many courses. It might take them 10 years or more before they are annoyed with the situation in their 3rd House. See, it's like moving in the bed. It feels good. New comforts are gained, old blessings get to be spent or used up. And people get to round themselves out and develop new aspects of themselves with the new and different location/chart, and new and different life.
Q: When you interview people they tell you their goals and desires. That must give you a lot of exposure to human nature. Are there any goals you find people have frequently?
A: I would say mate/marriage is the top priority goal with half of the people who call me. They use the "M" or "P" word. And about half of them use the "C" word -- they are looking for a sense of community with people who are on the same page or have similar views and ideals. After that, the breakdown varies.
Q: Do you feel people tell you their true goals?
A: It seems that they do.
Q: That's pretty unusual profession where people are telling you their heart's desire every day.
A: It is! What's notable also is they have frankness plus faith that by my help they can get it. People approach a call to me like trying the lottery. They believe that they might win, and get exactly what they want. They have a great amount of faith. And I have thought at times that my career is like children sitting on Santa's lap at the store, where they tell him their true desires, with total faith. My clients, though adults, approach me exactly like those children, with that much faith. And they tell me their true desires -- just like we used to do as children when writing a note to Santa. That is perhaps the strangest thing about my profession. And the truth is, sometimes I can do it. And sometimes I can't. So it's a bit like trying the lottery as well. They hope I won't be "stumped."
Q: You have specialized in giving locational opinions for over 30 years. What advice would you give to other locational astrologers to improve their work or results?
A: The biggest one would be this: Respect what the client has already, and don't damage it if the tradeoff isn't worth it. I hate hearing someone say: "I talked to so-and-so (an astrologer) and they said 'OMG! This is the worst location I've ever seen! This is so terrible! You poor fool!" The truth is there is always something good in the location where you have been. And typically you are going to be taking it for granted as something that can 'never be lost.' An unskilled and uncaring astrologer will also take it for granted, or not even perceive the fact that you have that boon where you are. The first thing I do when looking at a chart is to identify both the bad and the good in that location. And I confirm it with questions to see if I'm right:
"So do you like your house, I expect? Is it spacious and nice?"
"Oh yes, I always 'manifest' nice homes. But we don't have community..."
"So how are your kids doing? Do they do well in school? Have friends?"
"Oh yes, they are exceptional, everybody loves them, they have many friends, they get straight A's. But we don't have community..."
"And you and your husband, you're getting along fine, right?"
"Oh yes, we have an ideal marriage. But we don't have community...."
In a conversation like that example, I'm expecting things like that to be true because of her current chart setup, and I'm confirming that they are indeed true. From there, I'm going to be trying to not give a location where those things are trashed. And that makes it more difficult. I see ACG opinions given to folks, and very often, in which the ACG astrologer has thrown them to the wolves; led the client to throw away very dear things by relocating. In summary: Skillfully identify the good that they already have and don't wreck those things without sufficient justification and an acceptable tradeoff. In my readings, even though I may recommend another locations, I like to make the client aware of any major positives they've already been blessed by, and how they were particular to their location. Whether they may lose these or not, I want them to understand when they have been blessed. In my case, I wish I had understood how I had been blessed in terms of marriage, children and family life, in my original location. This was one of the ways that I was grievously rather betrayed, 32 years ago, by the absurd Astro*Carto*Graphy product.
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