The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 100, titled:
100th Episode Q&A and Round Table Discussion
With Chris Brennan, Leisa Schaim, Patrick Watson, and Nick Dagan Best
Episode originally released on March 13, 2017
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released November 14, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This is the hundredth episode of the show, and we’re recording it starting at—let’s see, it’s March 8, 2017 at 10:58-10:59 PM in Denver, Colorado. As I said, this is the hundredth episode of the show; it’s gonna be a Q&A episode. And joining me are Leisa Schaim and Patrick Watson. Hey, guys, welcome back to the show.
LEISA SCHAIM: Hi. Glad to be here.
PATRICK WATSON: Hi. Thanks for having me.
CB: Patrick, it’s been a few months since we last chatted. When did we last chat? Was it right before the election?
PW: I think so. It was a recap of everything we knew about Hillary’s birth time.
CB: Right. Those were good times, and all of that went well and everything was happily ever after. Leisa, you were on—when were you on last? I guess we did the electional episode last. What was the previous? Was it the last Q&A? What was the last full episode you were on?
LS: You know, I’m not even sure. Maybe Saturn in Sagittarius roundup.
CB: No. I mean, ‘cause we did the Q&A with Kelly in June…
LS: Oh, yeah.
CB: …of last year. But yeah, that Saturn in Sagittarius, we were all on. And how about that episode? You know, that’s one of my favorite retrospective forecast episodes that I’ve done just because of how well that’s worked out, you know, in largely terrible ways, but in ways that were very much fitting with lots of the things that we talked about in that episode together, right?
LS: Yeah, definitely, in really even more striking than expected ways with some things.
CB: Right. All right, well, this is the hundredth episode. I’ve been doing the show since, what, 2012—I think I started in June—and somehow we’ve reached a hundred episodes, which is just really wild and really crazy. So I was thinking of different options. I almost did a ‘best of’ episode in order to play different clips. But I decided instead to do a Q&A episode, so that we could actually get some interaction from the audience and from some of our hardcore listeners of the show. So I sent out a call for questions—or discussion topics that people are interested in hearing about—to patrons of the show, and a bunch of patrons of the show in the past 24 hours sent in a bunch of questions. They were all really great questions. Unfortunately, there were so many, I was a little caught off-guard by how many questions we got. So we’re gonna do some of them in this episode, and then we’ll probably have to save some for another Q&A episode, you know, probably next month or something like that.
Let’s see, before we get started, a few points of business first. So our giveaway of course this month, the main prize that we’re giving away is a free pass to the upcoming retreat that’s being organized by the Organization for Professional Astrology. The retreat is taking place October 19-22, 2017 in the mesmerizing Zion National Park in Utah. So OPA retreats are sort of a unique format. I led an OPA retreat, or at least I was a track leader on one a couple of years ago. And it’s kind of a unique format for studying astrology very intensely over a course of a few days, but also doing peer group work and working in small groups. I think the maximum is something like 10 or 12 astrologers in a group focusing on specific topics or focusing sometimes on specific techniques or approaches or things like that.
So participants to the OPA retreat choose a track of study, and for three days they’re with the same mentor—in a group that has a maximum of 10 participants—for a deeper and more intimate learning experience. Additionally, all the tracks come together to attend short lectures in between some of the main lectures that they’re focused on in their individual tracks. The theme of the retreat is The Art of Living and Dying: Celebrating the Ingress of Jupiter into Scorpio and also a side theme of Astronomy for Astrologers. So out of 13 tracks, five of them are already sold out because of course there’s a maximum of 10 people who can attend each track, so they actually get filled up. So if you’re interested in signing up for the retreat, then you should look into it soon and you can secure your spot in the track of your choice. So you can find out more information at opaastrology.org.
At the end of March, on the forecast episode, we’re gonna be giving away a free pass to one lucky patron on the $10 tier as one of the perks for supporting the show. On the $5 tier of course we’re giving away a signed copy of my new, awesome book, which everybody has already heard about called Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. And yeah, the book is amazing. It covers the history, philosophy, and techniques of ancient astrology. And I’m gonna do at least one signed copy—possibly pull two signed copies to send out to two lucky patrons on the $5 tier. Leisa’s very excited ‘cause I have about 130 copies of the book showing up to our house tomorrow afternoon, right, Leisa?
LS: Yeah, yeah, we have boxes everywhere. Hopefully, we’ll have some pictures soon.
CB: Yeah, we’ll have some pictures of both of us looking very enthusiastic in a large fort of books that we’re planning on building over the course of the next few days. So I’m starting to—after some snafus with figuring out shipping and stuff last month—realize that I need to have a good hundred books on hand at any one time and to ship them out via USPS 2-day priority mail; that also allows me to sign the books now. So people that want the book signed, if you live in the US, just let me know when you order it and I’ll send you a signed copy, which since it’s the first edition actually could be valuable someday; since I’ll probably do a second edition sometime later this year once I figure out how many little things there are that I want to change and fix. All right, so that’ll be the prize for the $5 tier, and we’ll announce the winners at the end of the month. So let’s get started with the actual discussion and the Q&A section of this episode.
So the first question I wanted to answer was one that’s kind of like a meta question about the podcast itself that was kind of funny and that I liked, and it’s from a listener who just wants to be identified by her first name, Marlene; and this is a pretty easy one. So she says, “I really like the podcast theme song. What is it?” So the podcast theme song, it’s really funny ‘cause I hadn’t actually thought about that in a few years because I, you know, figured out the theme song back in 2012 when I first set up the podcast. And I haven’t really thought about it that much since except that it’s kind of become like the iconic intro and outro. And if Nick Dagan Best was here—he was supposed to be, but I think we lost track of him, or he got caught up in something before he could join us. He likes to of course hum the theme song at the end when we’re doing the outro at the end of episodes.
So the answer to that question is that I actually bought the music—the full clip is actually like two or three minutes—and I bought it from a website called JewelBeat.com. One of the guides to podcasting that I read back then said that there’s these websites that will sell music; where you can pay like 5 or 10 dollars or something to buy a clip and then you can use that clip in whatever—you know, whether it’s a YouTube video or a podcast or something like that. It’s a little trick that some podcasters use in order to have licensed music for things like that. So the title of the track, it’s kind of a generic sort of thing. I have no idea who composed it. But on their website, the title is “Urban Cafe,” from the album Groove Cafe. The description says, “Slow, cool, urban groove with strings and piano.” And then, Patrick, you might have more insight into what this means than I do. It has, “90 beats per minute and the key signature is E minor.” Is that a good key?
PW: Well, it’s easy to play on most instruments. You know, any minor key is a more moody, some people would even say, kind of sad sound, but it can also be used in a sort of cool way. So yeah, it is an E minor. That’s about all I have to say about that.
CB: Okay, I will take that cool and easy listening, as well as moody and sad. What’s funny is I hadn’t listened to it, but I actually have the full song, of which I only play like 10 or 15 seconds of ‘cause I cut it down. But I’ll, at the end of this episode, play the full song. ‘Cause I hadn’t actually listened to it since I started the show, you know, what is it, four or five years ago now in 2012. So I’ll actually play it at the end of the show, and you’ll actually hear the full thing; so it’s kind of funny when you listen to the full clip. All right, I think that’s the only meta question about the podcast itself, but I thought that was nice; that was actually a really appropriate question for our hundredth episode.
CB: Yeah, right, woo.
PW: You know, this is something to celebrate. This is such a great thing for the astrological community. I think people are really happy that, you know, this is chugging along as well as it has, and people want it to continue. So I think this is a great time to celebrate the great podcast that this is.
CB: Yeah, and it’s really been wild because, you know, I initially inherited Traditional Astrology Radio—which was my prior podcast—from Jacqui Menkes in 2009 or 2010 on my birthday actually; which at the time I thought was kind of interesting and significant, but I didn’t realize to what extent ‘cause it wasn’t like a huge deal. That wasn’t a huge podcast at the time, but it was something that somebody else started. And she handed it over to me when she got seriously into—I think she was working on a master’s degree or something and couldn’t do it anymore; so I took over that show and did it for a few years through Blog Talk Radio. And then in 2012, in May or June, the domain, TheAstrologyPodcast.com, was dropped. Every year, you have to renew a domain, and if you don’t pay the money to renew it, then after like a month or so of not paying the bill eventually it just gets released back into the market; and then somebody could buy it if they noticed that it’s been dropped.
So for whatever reason, I don’t know how I noticed, but I noticed that it was available. And so, I bought it immediately because having a domain like that, TheAstrologyPodcast, is just good for search engines. And so, I actually looked and saw who the previous owner was, and it was the astrologer Jeffrey Kishner. Do you guys know who that is?
CB: Right. He runs the popular astrology website Sassatrology.com. So I actually asked for his permission and checked with him to make sure that that was cool and that he didn’t drop it accidentally. And he said, “No, that’s fine. I had wanted to do something with it originally when I got it, but then don’t really want to anymore. And I’ll probably never get around to it. So go nuts.” So he gave me his blessing. So I immediately dropped the old podcast, Traditional Astrology Radio, and decided to set up The Astrology Podcast, so that I could speak to a broader audience because I thought branding it as The Astrology Podcast would be better in terms of people finding it.
I figured the search term that people would probably look for—they’d probably go to Google and type in ‘astrology podcast’ and then click on whatever the first link is that comes up, so it would be easier to, you know, have people find it that way. But also I wanted to do something more general. Even though I specialize in ancient astrology, you know, I also have broader interests, and my real focus is talking and studying many different traditions of astrology and integrating them together. So I think I said that all on the first podcast, but it’s been amazing in retrospect how much we’ve been able to cover over the past hundred episodes. And, Patrick, I believe you joined me for the fourth episode of the show where we actually talked ironically about the astrology of the 2012 presidential election, right?
PW: Yeah, I remember that, yeah.
CB: Yeah, you know, I was starting this podcast in May and June during the craziness of that whole election in 2012 and our extensive coverage of it. And it was just sort of a side thing that I started, and I tried to research it enough to do it the best possible way I could. And that’s generally part of my whole operating procedure when it comes to astrology in general over the past decade if I get into something new: find some guides and figure out what the best way is to do it right from the start rather than just kind of learning and making mistakes as I go. But if I can figure out what the mistakes are to avoid right from the start, or what’s the best way I could do it, then just do that right from the start by getting some advice from somewhere rather than by trial-and-error or what have you. So that’s what I did at the start, and we’re a hundred episodes in. Are there any other, I don’t know, things we should mention about that before launching into the rest of the questions?
LS: No, I think that’s it. I mean, you’ve covered just a really interesting breadth of topics and different styles of astrology and speakers and things. So I think it’s really great that it’s taken off the way that it has. And yeah, it’s a really good learning tool for free for the community.
PW: It’s an award-winning astrology podcast.
CB: Literally, an award-winning podcast. Up until last fall, it was figuratively—or at least in my mind—should have been an award-winning podcast, but now it’s literally an award-winning podcast. And one other thing actually—‘cause there’s some things for the future. But I was talking to Kelly recently, and Kelly suggested we do some sort of party or get-together with listeners at the United Astrology Conference next year, which is going to be the huge mega conference that’s taking place in Chicago, in May of 2018. And I think that’s actually a great idea, so we’re probably gonna work on setting something like that up. I’d like to actually maybe even do a test-run at NORWAC this year; so at the Northwest Astrological Conference, which is taking place in Seattle at the end of May.
I already promoted it in the last few episodes, so I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of listeners already planning on attending. But I’d like to organize, if possible, some kind of get-together or some kind of meet-and-greet. And if we can pull it off even, maybe some kind of live episode, either just a recording of the audio podcast. I was talking to Nicholas Polimenakos earlier today about possibly streaming a live episode on YouTube since one of the things I want to get back to this year is branching out a little bit more into doing some stuff with video. So, you know, if anybody wants to meet up at this conference that’s coming up in May, then that would be great. Yeah, I know I met a bunch of people at the NCGR conference last month, and that was great and I really appreciated everybody who came up and said, ‘hi’, and also at the ISAR conference last fall. It’s kind of hard though because you pass people in the hallway and you don’t always get a lot of time to talk and stuff. So we’re hoping to set up something more deliberate at NORWAC and then possibly at UAC next year as well. All right, and actually before we move on, Patrick, speaking of moving into video, so you’ve started a new video series, right?
PW: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve been sort of rebranding my site, and my articles are now under the umbrella of my blog called Big Fat Astro Blog, and my video series is called Big Fat Astro Vlog. So yeah, I’m releasing videos every other Wednesday—I’m sorry, every other Friday. So I’m dropping my second episode on Friday, so yeah, you should check it out; it’s on my Facebook page. If you type in ‘Big Gat Astro’, you know, there’s nothing else called ‘Big Fat Astro’ out there, so it’s good for search engines; taking a tip from Chris. So yeah, search ‘Big Fat Astro’, you’ll find it, it’s out there.
CB: Brilliant. So your website redirects there.
CB: So this is your new project. Yeah, and it’s great. I loved the first episode that you did, and I think it has a lot of potential…
PW: Thank you.
CB: …so I’m excited. One of the next episodes I want to do is on the phenomena of astrologers building large YouTube channels. Some astrologers are starting to get large followings there, which I’m very interested in and want to do some coverage of. But it’s still kind of an area—sort of like podcasting—where there’s not as many astrologers doing it as you think and there’s still a lot of room for growth. So I’m excited to see a new show like yours, and I think it’s gonna take off.
PW: Well, hopefully. We’ll see. We’ll see.
CB: Yeah. All right, so let’s jump into some questions here and get this Q&A rolling.
CB: Are there any questions that stood out or jumped out to you guys? There’s a ton of good questions, and I have a very long list here where I’ve highlighted some of them. I don’t know if there’s any ones that stood out in particular. Are there any ones that you guys felt you had a good answer for right off the top of your head?
PW: Well, I figured we’d maybe just get onto the list. Yeah, I didn’t really have one that spoke to me necessarily. There’s definitely some things I have to say for some of them.
CB: Okay. Well, yeah, let’s just go from the top of the list then. So Nicki Allison writes in, and she says, “You once commented—I think it was you—that electional charts are like the reverse or mirror image of a horary chart. Maybe you could discuss that in further detail. I’m particularly interested in whether horary rules apply for electional charts.” And I did mention that recently. I think I mentioned it in the forecast—or in the electional episode that Leisa and I just did last month as well. So part of that, I mean, some of the history or the background surrounding that—I don’t know, more than a decade ago, probably circa 2004—I had something that I was trying to start, and I realized that I needed to learn electional astrology. I wanted to learn electional astrology in order to pick an auspicious chart for starting whatever that venture was that I was about to begin at that time; I think it was signing a lease on an apartment or something like that. I was signing up with a roommate, and I was a little nervous about whether this was a good idea, so I at least wanted to have a good chart for doing that to sort of make it better than it might be otherwise.
And I started looking for books on electional astrology, but unfortunately at the time I was surprised to find there were almost no books on electional astrology at that point. The only thing I could find was that there were a couple of books on horary astrology and sometimes the books on horary astrology would have like a little section on elections, and oftentimes it was because there seemed to be or at least they were treating it as if there was quite a bit of interchange between the rules of electional and horary. And because horary at that point, especially in the late 20th century, was viewed as the more predictive form of astrology, similarly electional astrology had this almost more predictive quality that not a lot of modern psychological astrologers necessarily had a lot of focus on or interest in, so they were kind of grouped together in that way.
But the answer to that question is I think it is true that to some extent there’s a lot of interchangeability between electional charts and horary charts, or at least that you can treat them with the same rules. And to some extent that’s also true with natal astrology if you go, you know, a little bit back. Even though in modern times we sort of treat these different branches as very separate, I think if you go back a little bit of ways into the tradition, you start seeing a lot more crossover between the rules that are applied in electional and horary and natal charts than you do in modern times, and to that extent I think there’s a lot of similarities. I mean, what do you guys think? Do you think horary rules apply to electional charts? In what ways are they similar, or in what ways are they different?
LS: I mean, I don’t usually practice horary, but I know the basics. And, I mean, I think the basic gist about how they’re similar is that in horary you’re interpreting what is likely to happen in the near future and what just happened in the near past. And when you’re doing an electional chart you’re just simply trying to do that more proactively to plan what is about to happen in the near future and to select that. So I think that’s the way in which they’re similar in that they show events or qualities happening in time, but you’re just deliberately choosing it for the election, that’s all.
PW: Yeah, I think they really are more like a reverse. I mean, basically in horary you’re asking about something which the outcome is uncertain, whereas in electional you are planning for something so that it is certain, you know. So one is absolutely planned; one wants to achieve a desired outcome. The other is, you know, taking whatever comes. You know, whatever time you ask the question—rather the time the question is understood is the chart, and you’re not necessarily in control of that, whereas in electional absolutely is about having control. And yeah, I mean, I think the general techniques that you can apply to a natal chart—or at least relating to aspects and house rules—are generally applicable I think across horary and electional.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and you could argue this either way. And one of the things I’m sort of aware of in attempting to answer this is that whatever answer I give, I can think of some horary astrologers or some electional astrologers having counterarguments or criticizing that their approach or the things that they emphasize is different. But, you know, there are crossovers in the sense that, for example, in traditional electional and traditional horary there’s a lot of emphasis on the ruler of the Ascendant as the most important planet, or one of the most important planets in terms of characterizing that chart and its focus. So in an electional chart you’re trying to make sure that the ruler of the Ascendant is well-placed because the 1st house and the planets associated with the 1st house—such as the ruler of the Ascendant—are the ones most closely associated with whatever you’re initiating or whatever is being born at that time, whereas in a horary chart the ruler of the Ascendant is the planet that represents or most closely represents the person asking the question. But also to some extent not just the person asking the question, but in some instances it can also represent what they’re focused on in the chart as well, so there are crossovers there.
One of the differences though is scope since a horary question usually is typically limited to the specific question that was asked about. And sometimes with horary you really have to narrow down the chart and focus on the specific significators that are relevant to the question. Like if the question was about a relationship, then you focus on the ruler of the Ascendant and the ruler of the 7th. Or if it was about, you know, the career, the person’s career, you focus on the ruler of the Ascendant and the ruler of the 10th or what have you. And in that way horary can sometimes be much more focused on dynamic considerations about aspects between those rulers, like whether they’re applying to an exact aspect or whether they’re separating. In electional astrology, while that’s one of the things you can focus on, there’s a lot of other things besides that because the scope is much broader, where you’re not trying to answer a specific question so much as you’re trying to just create a chart that’s generally supportive in a wide variety of different ways for whatever that topic is that you’re trying to promote or initiate.
PW: That’s pretty awesome.
CB: Yeah, so you think that answers the question more or less? It’s complicated ‘cause they’re very similar, there’s similarities. There’s definite similarities and there’s definite ways where if you learn the rules of one you can apply some of those rules to the other very easily, but then sometimes due to the scope there’s some definite differences as well.
LS: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that’s a good answer.
CB: All right, cool. Okay, so let’s move on. Let’s, you know, go through some questions relatively quickly here. Let’s see, Robin Dorrell, who is a big fan of the show, asked a question. She says, “I’ve been putting together a notebook of forecasting/predictive techniques. I’ve been learning and thinking about their order of effectiveness. Which ones to focus on first? It’s helpful to keep the toolbox light and yet deep and intriguing. What techniques do you and your peers favor?” So she then gives a list of different predictive techniques, and she says, “What order would you put these in?” And I haven’t ordered them, but she says, “Circumambulations through the bounds (which is another phrase for describing primary directions). Zodiacal releasing. Primary directions (which is actually the same as zodiacal releasing). Profections. Solar returns. Secondary progressions. Solar arc directions. Antiscia and contra-antiscia. Many other techniques I haven’t explored: decennials, quarters of the Moon, and the 129-year system.”
So many of these actually she’s reading from Delphic Oracle, since many of these are Hellenistic time-lord techniques, but some of them are also modern timing techniques as well. And I think this is a tricky question to ask because every astrologer or different schools of astrology are gonna have different techniques that they emphasize just based on their own personal preferences and their personal approach, either in terms of the school of astrology that they come from or in terms of just what’s worked out better or have been more effective for them individually. I think that’s a pretty safe statement to make, right?
LS: Yeah, definitely. And it’s a little tricky too with the three of us on this show because I think there’s quite a lot of overlap between how we approach charts.
CB: Yeah, it’s like we’ve all been doing astrology together for like a decade now, so we all have very similar approaches I think at this point more or less, right?
PW: Well, yeah. I guess what I would say is that, I mean, she asked, “What techniques do you and your peers favor?” I probably favor using annual profections, and I get a lot out of zodiacal releasing at least in charts that support it. And I do keep an eye on antiscia and contra-antiscia relationships between planets. The ones that I don’t tend to look at too much and ones that I haven’t even really explored yet are decennials, quarters of the Moon, the 129-year system; those are still really fruitful areas for research. There’s a lot of ways in which some of the time-lord systems bear relationships to the others, especially with quarters of the Moon there are some analogues I think between some of the things in zodiacal releasing. For example, there’s kind of an analogue to the loosening of the bond in quarters of the Moon that I wonder if it is similar in some way to zodiacal releasing. But circumambulations to the bounds I think is often recommended as like the first thing you’re supposed to look at in a chart if you’re going to be ultra strict about it. Because before you make any prognostication about a chart you should check and see if they’re even gonna live to see it.
CB: Right. That’s a statement that Ptolemy makes, that he quotes Petosiris for.
PW: Yeah, so I tend to be a little more optimistic when I’m meeting someone. You know, when I talk with someone, I tend to presume that they’re gonna live, you know, a normal timespan. I’m a little more trusting, so I don’t really use circumambulations to the bounds or primary directions. I do examine solar returns occasionally, and I kind of keep my eye on secondary progressions. But yeah, the ones that I kind of keep coming back to are annual profections and when applicable zodiacal releasing, for me.
CB: Yeah, yeah, and that’s the same for me. I mean, yeah, circumambulations or primary directions were originally tied in with the length-of-life treatment, as you were saying, in traditional astrology. And I know there’s actually some amazing work that’s been done on that by astrologers like Martin Gansten who I’d like to interview at some point, who wrote this amazing book on primary directions. And I know other astrologers like Ben Dykes have used primary directions both generally as well as in other applications, like in the solar return chart, in very interesting ways, so I know there’s some astrologers doing interesting things like that. I know Nick Dagan Best and I tried to research it with the length-of-life technique 10 years ago, but we could only get it to work like maybe 30-40% of the time. And when it was working it was dead on, but when it was off it was just way off. And so, that was one of the early researches I had into primary directions. And in all reality, I probably just wasn’t applying it as strenuously as somebody like Ben Dykes or Martin Gansten did and therefore wasn’t as impressed with it at the time. And that’s what led me to using things like zodiacal releasing and annual profections more because they were really quickly, just out of the box delivering pretty impressive results.
So prior to that, as a modern astrologer, you know, it’s divided into different schools. Like if you’re a modern astrologer then the three main techniques or timing techniques that most modern astrologers use are transits primarily, secondary progressions as the secondary thing. And then solar arcs is pretty popular with some schools like the cosmobiologists or the Uranian astrologers, but also with some of the modern schools like Noel Tyl and some of his students and people; and that’s one of the other major timing techniques. The other one is solar returns, which is used to some extent in modern astrology; and that’s also very prominent in Medieval astrology to some extent as well.
In other traditions, like Indian astrology, there’s this one timing technique called the Vimshottari dasha system that everybody uses. And then there’s some other techniques like transits or other dasha systems as well that are used, but it’s a little bit more uniform in terms of everybody at least using that one technique as a starter because it’s so effective. And I think we’re starting to come to something like that to some extent in the Hellenistic tradition. I don’t know if that’s an overstatement on my part, but I feel like zodiacal releasing and profections are kind of almost on that level with the level of acceptance that they have amongst some practitioners of Hellenistic astrologer over the past 10 years where we might see that becoming a mainstream thing like the Vimshottari dasha system if for most Vedic astrologers. What do you guys think?
LS: Yeah, I think it’s getting there for sure. I mean, what I end up looking at first is zodiacal releasing just because it is like the dasha system. You know, it divides up long periods of time, so it gives you kind of the big picture context of what’s going on in someone’s life, and then annual profections kind of right underneath that in terms of what order, you know, I would put it in for looking at that year and what kind of themes are going to be most important for that year, or what kind of quality. And then underneath that I would glance at the secondary progressions. But usually that’s quite quick because there’s not something going on most of the time that’s really exact in progressions because things move slowly. And then underneath that I would say eclipses and transits.
PW: I would also like to say that profections and solar returns actually work in tandem oftentimes.
PW: For example, a planet in the sign of the annual profection at the time of the solar return can also be a profected planet. So even if you don’t have planets natally in a given sign, if there are planets in that sign at the time of the solar return, those planets end up being profected for the year. So I should say that profections and solar returns are kind of or rather should be considered together; that’s if you want to kind of really get into it. You can still get a lot of really good results from annual profections just, you know, within the context of the natal chart, you know, without having to invoke the solar return necessarily. One thing—I don’t know if you guys have an opinion on this—but, you know, there are statements which Valens makes about how not necessarily all charts are as telling as others.
For example, if the ruler of the Lot of Fortune falls amiss—you know, if it’s in a bad place—the lots don’t always reveal as much as they could if, for example, the ruler of the Lot of Fortune from a good sign or in a good house. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I’ve kind of come into this issue sometimes where I’m not entirely sure. In some charts it’s like so clear, it’s so blindingly obvious, you know, how the zodiacal releasing periods match up with someone’s life; it’s just self-evident; it’s so clear. But in other charts where it’s less obvious I kind of wonder if we should consider that maybe not all charts respond—or rather there might be some time-lord methods which certain charts respond to better than others given whatever layout of the chart that they have.
CB: Yeah, I mean…
LS: That’s an interesting—oh, sorry. I was gonna say that’s an interesting question. Have you noticed in those charts where it doesn’t seem to be working as well for you, that they do have one of those conditions in the natal chart?
PW: Well, for example—and this goes to one of the other questions that we have to address—but for example, in the chart of Trump, you know, he has his Lot of Fortune in Aquarius and his Saturn is in Cancer, which if he’s Leo rising then Saturn falls amiss, but if he’s Virgo rising then it would be, you know, in the 11th. And it’s just been difficult with his zodiacal releasing because while there do seem to be some general things that match up, you know, part of the basis of my failed 2016 prediction for him was the fact that he was in a cadent period; and that wouldn’t be what I would expect for someone who was going to be reaching, you know, a very, very high rank. And there might be other reasons that can account for that. Obviously this topic goes down a rabbithole that we don’t have to get into just this moment, but that whole issue with his chart and his zodiacal releasing from Spirit kind of makes me wonder if maybe the zodiacal releasing from Spirit may not be the best technique to apply to his chart if the ruler of his Lot of Fortune falls amiss. As Valens suggests, certain charts may be less telling than others.
CB: Yeah, and there’s a whole thing about that just because there’s ways that Valens uses the technique and outlines it that, you know, we’ve either not followed, or there’s different applications where when you’re reviving a technique, there’s still things that we’re learning about it. You know, that’s one of the things that’s interesting about something like secondary progressions. It’s been in use in the astrological tradition for three or four or five hundred years at least in common use in the astrological tradition, whereas with zodiacal releasing literally no one has been using it for over a thousand years now. And then suddenly, in the past 10 years, it’s like, you know, us, and we’re like in our teens and 20s using this 2nd century technique again and applying it to charts, or applying it to our love life, or applying it to whatever and trying to see what it can do; and yeah, there’s a lot of things like that that we’re still learning. I want to wrap this up so we can move on.
I mean, my hierarchy at this point is zodiacal releasing, profections, transits. And that in and of itself is enough and more than you can do in most charts to the extent that I’ve neglected secondary progressions and solar arcs and things like that, even though I know they work. I don’t discount them or know their effectiveness, but there’s only so many things you can do, and I think that’s what all astrologers run into. At some point you’ve got to draw a line between which techniques are most important and most effective for you to use vs. which ones aren’t gonna give you as much information or won’t give you the type of information that you want, in the way that you want it, but everybody sort of draws that line at a different place. And I know Benjamin Dykes does. I know Demetra George does ‘cause Demetra uses, as I said, solar returns and profections together. Ben uses primary directions and solar returns and other things like that. So everybody draws that line differently, but that’s sort of my hierarchy. Although, as I said in the past few episodes, some of the things that happened with secondary progression in the recent presidential election reignited my interest in secondary progressions and in their importance, so I will say that much. I mean, you guys noticed some of those things as well, right?
PW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, basically how Trump’s progressions became Bill Clinton’s chart.
CB: Right. Trump—was it his solar secondary progressed Sun?
LS: It was secondary progressed Sun conjunct the Ascendant when he became very, very prominent…
LS: …in the runup.
PW: More so than he had been in his life prior too.
CB: So there’s some stuff like that that’s impressive and just reminded me of how useful some of those techniques, you know, could be, and that it was just something I wasn’t paying attention to because I was so focused on these other ones. So on the one hand, you want to be able to pay attention to a lot of different techniques; on the other hand, there’s only so many you can do. And there’s also a drawback if you’re trying to do everything. There’s a certain end of that spectrum where there’s like a type of astrologer that attempts to do everything, and sometimes I feel like that really comes out as like a hodge-podge that isn’t as effective as you would think it is. Sometimes a multiplicity of using every technique is less effective than using one or two techniques really well. So that’s what I’ll say about that and we can move on. There’s a string of questions or several questions from a listener named Christopher DeCarlo that were all really good and I wanted to address a few of them. One of his first ones was, “Do you use declination in your practice, and if so, how?” Do either of you use declinations, or out-of-bounds, or contra-parallels or any of that stuff?
LS: I don’t regularly. I mean, I do think that there’s validity to the out-of-bounds planets, and it’s kind of interesting to see sometimes in people’s charts, but I don’t routinely use them.
PW: Yeah, not routinely. I do sometimes take notice of out-of-bounds declinations. I had a really good example of one a couple of years ago I think. Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, has Mars severely out-of-bounds. You know, so he has this…
LS: That’s cool.
PW: …really kind of wild Mars really out-of-bounds, and he is the, you know, fastest man alive. So I thought that was kind of a cool example of out-of-bounds declination. And parallels/contra-parallels, I’m maybe making a mistake here: Is that the same thing as antiscia/contra-antiscia? I’ve heard those terms used interchangeably, but maybe I’ve just confused them. But yeah, I don’t really pay too much attention to declination, but I do sometimes take notice of out-of-bounds planets.
CB: Sure. Yeah, and it’s not something I pay much attention to at all—I’m periodically reminded that I should be—it’s one of those things that in standard Western astrology you don’t often. But there’s some astrologers that really specialize in that or really focus on that, but for some reason it has never caught on as much as it should. And I was reminded of that at the recent NCGR conference where I sat in on a great lecture by an astrologer named Adam Gainsburg who gave that was sort of broadly on visual or observational astrology where you’re paying more attention to not just the ephemeris or looking at the computer screen, but actually looking up into the sky at what different planetary alignments look like visually; and when you do that you actually become much more aware of things like declination. One of his points, for example, was that a conjunction between two planets isn’t necessarily a full conjunction in the way that we think about it.
PW: It’s not an occultation, right. It’s by latitude.
CB: Right. So an occultation would be when, visually, the body of one planet or one celestial object literally passes over and covers up the body of another planet. So we think of a classic exact solar eclipse, for example, is when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and that would be when they are both at the same degree of longitude, which is the degrees of the zodiac essentially; that’s what the zodiac represents is degrees of longitude, but also degrees of latitude. So you can kind of think of longitude as sort of like being on the same plane horizontally in some abstract sense, whereas declination is like the latitude; so sort of like being on the same plane vertically. And you have to have both of those frames of references aligned perfectly in order for a complete, true, ideal conjunction to take place. But in reality, most of the time, most conjunctions that astrologers are looking at, they’re just lining up on the ecliptic; so occupying the same degree of longitude, but they may be very far north or south of each other so that it’s actually not a true occultation, like Patrick was saying.
CB: Anyway, so I don’t pay attention to that as much as I should, but periodically I am reminded by people like Adam Gainsburg that I should be, and I’m interested in looking into that more in the future. So he’s doing some really interesting stuff with visual astrology like that that is taking components like that into account. I know his two co-workers or partners in their astrologer studies are doing similar things with visual astrology, and they’re actually doing a conference next year I think called the Sky Astrology Conference, I want to say. Is that right, Leisa?
LS: I think so.
CB: Okay. So it’s Adam Gainsburg, Gary Caton, and—why am I blanking out on her name?
CB: And Julene Packer-Louis who works at the school of astrology, the International Academy of Astrology, right?
CB: Yeah, so they’re very much focused from what I can tell on that more visual component of astrology, and so they’re doing some interesting work in that area. So I recommend checking out their work, especially Adam Gainsburg’s work, for more information about that.
LS: I would second that recommendation. Also for anyone who is interested in the piece about out-of-bounds planets, Tony Howard has a very good lecture that I heard at the ISAR conference last October about out-of-bound planets and each individual planet and what it showed in famous people’s charts historically and how it did or did not reinforce what you would expect from that particular planet, like, say, a Mercury out-of-bounds vs. a Venus out-of-bounds.
CB: Sure. All right, so let’s just back into the questions here. So we’ve gone through a few already. We actually didn’t get very far, so we’re gonna speed up a little bit so we can get through some more in a reasonable timespan. Christopher DeCarlo—we answered some of his questions. He had a lot of good ones. I don’t know if we can do all of them. Do any of these stand out to you guys as ones that you want to jump on?
LS: I mean, I think a really interesting one for all of us is, “How has practicing astrology influenced who you are as a person and your worldview?” Because I think it does really interesting things to your mind and your sense of time and things like that when you’ve been doing astrology for a while, and I think especially when you learn new techniques and what the ramifications of those are. So, I mean, I know Chris and I both had interesting experiences around learning zodiacal releasing and how that influenced our view of, you know, fate and free will and things like that. I think for me the overall gist is just that the universe is very weird. And I think I went from being kind of agnostic about life and not sure if there was like a greater organization or meaning to seeing that there were these really weird structures underlying time.
CB: Right. But that’s actually one of the points we’ve debated, you and I, right? That’s like a hard conclusion that I’ve drawn from astrology, which is that to the extent that astrology works, it seems to imply that the universe, and especially individual lives, are more purposeful and have more meaning built into them than we might expect compared to many mainstream contemporary philosophies, or at least in terms of the atheistic/scientific worldview where there’s almost this feeling of almost being exalted by the lack of meaning in the universe and, you know, our isolation. It’s almost described as we’re like a germ that’s on a small rock that’s floating in an infinite universe, and our lives in that context don’t have any greater meaning or purpose. And one of the conclusions I often would draw from astrology is that it seems to almost contradict that in some sense. At least a few years ago, I remember you being more reluctant to jump all the way to that conclusion or something. Do you feel like you’re still at that place, Leisa? Where do you come down on that now?
LS: I think where I come down on that is that I see the structures, and so I see that there’s some organization to things. And I think that you can infer meaning from watching astrology work, but it still doesn’t necessarily give you what the meaning is. So I think that’s where I am as far as how practicing astrology over time has influenced my view of some of these things.
PW: Yeah, for me, I’ve kind of gone through a lot of the same thoughts that you guys have had. I think I end up falling out a little closer to Chris. I think that design—I mean, it doesn’t necessarily have to—to me implies purpose. And I think it definitely is hard to think that the world is just meaningless and it’s just, you know, a materialist kind of scenario that we’re in. The world is super weird. There’s something very, very strange going on here in that things are kind of ordered, and there does appear to be some kind of thing that does care about what happens down here. And so, you know, from that point of view I think in some ways it’s made me kind of more confidently a theist. Something I don’t really talk about too much—I don’t really talk about the spiritual implications of astrology, but they are kind of huge. And yeah, it’s a bit mind-blowing to really take it seriously. But yeah, I definitely think that astrology has more or less confirmed that, you know, there is some sort of consciousness or what have you that is conscious of us as we are conscious of it.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, that’s a really interesting topic that actually we could do an entire episode on. And I’d almost like to and I’d like to keep going on it, but I’d actually hesitate to ‘cause I know how easy it would be for us to talk about that for like the next 45 minutes. He had a few other really good questions though. He had one which was, you know, “What is something about your natal chart that resonates with you personally? In other words, what characteristics about your chart do you feel are the most valid in describing a part of who you are?” Do any of you have one of those that really stands out right now or seems really pertinent at the moment?
PW: Well, when I look at my own chart and I try to forget that I have looked at it millions of times, I just try to look at the ruler of the 1st, the ruler of the Ascendant. And so, for me, I was born with Leo rising, which makes the Sun the lord of the 1st, and I have the lord of the 1st opposite Jupiter. So the thing that people always tell me about myself is that I tend to make promises that I can’t keep. I have problems with, you know, indulgence, and I tend to be lazy; I tend to procrastinate and to put things off. I tend to be very optimistic. I tend to, you know, have a big heart, but sometimes it comes at the expense of, you know, my health and my general luck in the world. So I can appreciate in my own chart how having this stressful opposition from Jupiter to my ruler of the 1st, you know, reflects in these kinds of issues I have with excess and indulgence and being overly generous in some sense.
CB: Sure. That’s a good one.
LS: Sure. You know, since Chris already revealed in his acknowledgments in his book that I have a Moon in Virgo, I’ll talk about that placement. I think all of the chart placements are completely valid in describing who I am, but Moon in Virgo I think it’s kind of funny that I was proofreading the book and that’s what he was referring to in the acknowledgments. Actually as far back as I can remember, you know, the Moon is often referred to as something that is a very instinctual part of you; that’s how you react very easily to things. And from when I was in elementary school even I was proofreading and editing my parents’ business communications and documents. So in terms of attention to detail that’s always been something that has just been very natural for me. Yeah, so I guess that’s a piece I would talk about.
CB: Totally. And I just got a message from Nick. Nick Dagan Best is available and wants to join us. Shall we patch him in?
PW: Patch him in.
Nick Dagan Best: Okay, I’m back.
CB: You’re back. All right, nice. All right, and very quickly, my placements. One of the ones I would highlight is my Mercury-Saturn conjunction ‘cause this is actually a good example of a positive thing you can probably take from astrology. When I got into astrology when I was like 15 or 14 or something, definitely a lot of the interpretations I resonated with; one that stood out was just their general delineations of Mercury-Saturn conjunction as somebody that has a difficult time communicating. And I think that’s really ironic now, but it’s sort of an inspiring and useful example because I had a lot of difficulties communicating and was really timid about talking, especially in groups growing up ironically. So that was a process that changed and I got better at and I still have some challenges with. Leisa and I always joke about how I’m constantly mispronouncing things. And if somebody’s followed this podcast for long enough you’ve actually probably caught it quite frequently, right, Leisa?
LS: Yeah, I mean, from time to time.
CB: From time to time.
LS: I’m being polite.
CB: So that’s actually something really funny. And even, you know, when I met you, Nick, the idea of me giving a talk or something was very wild…
CB: ..and I had just started lecturing. You saw some of my first lectures.
NDB: Can I tell the funny story about the second time I met you? We first met in Seattle in person—we had already known each other online—and then we met up again in Chicago at the ISAR conference. This is late August 2005. And I was already booked to speak on a panel at the conference. There were a few of us there—I remember Mark Kuenzal was there—and all the different speakers had to pass around this one microphone that we spoke into with our voices booming out of the PA system. And as I recall you were added to the panel sort of at the last minute. You were totally unknown at the time. You weren’t even 21 yet; so a young 20-year-old guy. And I’m pretty sure you had never heard your voice through a PA system before. I used to play in bands, so I was kind of used to it. But I just remember how timid you were speaking into this microphone. There was a visible look of fear or shock on your face when you heard your voice coming out of the PA system. Obviously you’ve come a long way since then. But just thinking of, you know, who you were when I met you, I can definitely see that conjunction coming out there.
CB: Yeah, it was definitely much more prominent early in my life. And then in each successive, especially hard aspect of Saturn to that, I seem to have gone through different stages of breaking through that and then becoming more constructive where originally something that was a weakness or a shortcoming became more of a strength. And so, that’s one of the things that’s really ironic now. Anybody who knew me 10 or 20 years ago, you know, if you told them I did a regular podcast that lots of people listen to, or that I’ve traveled around the world giving lectures, or wrote a book or something, they would think you were crazy. So I use that only because I think it’s a really good and maybe useful example for some people that sometimes there can be placements in your chart that are difficulties that sometimes can morph or change over the course of a person’s life and become strengths or sometimes become reversed in some ways, even if they always still have some lingering, you know, meaning that is tied into that.
NDB: Yeah, especially Saturn aspects. Because the whole thing about your Saturn-Mercury journey has been to work on this problem, not merely to sort of accept it as a fait accompli in your personality, but to overcome it; to put the work in and get yourself from point A to point B.
CB: Right. Yeah, definitely. And I know that’s not necessarily gonna be that way for everybody, and there’s different types of placements that sometimes can be more, you know, challenging or more overwhelming issues—there’s a whole spectrum there—but, you know, sometimes that’s a good lesson, a good astrology lesson to keep in mind. So Christopher DeCarlo had a bunch of other good questions. I want to jump around and maybe come back later to some of his just so we can get to some other people, and then we’ll see if we can circle around later. So let’s see, one of the next questions was, “How would you interpret or reconcile those cases where the degree of the MC or the Meridian is in a different sign than the 10th whole sign house?” And this is from Irina Machkabogi, whose name I’m definitely mispronouncing. I apologize ahead of time. Any of you guys want to take this?
LS: For me, I pay more attention to the sign ruler of the whole sign 10th house and then the house where the Midheaven degree is placed, but not necessarily quite as much as the sign. That’s how I go.
PW: Well, I think what Valens says is that the sign that the MC falls in takes on the significations of the 10th. I guess it means you have one ‘proper’ 10th and then one ‘incidental’ 10th. I mean, people are able to wrap their heads around intercepted houses. So, I mean, it’s not much of a leap to have, you know, two houses which can—or rather two signs which can have a similar signification. I have seen a few examples where the MC is in a different sign than the 10th house. For example, there’s an example of the MC being in someone’s 11th house and transits through the 10th house were big in what they did, but when the transits moved to their 11th and hit the MC, that was kind of the final point. That was kind of the full stop of the action up until that point. So it was sort of leading up to, you know, the event of the MC. I presume that in the 9th house, if the MC came before the 10th, that maybe you’d start off with a bang and then continue working on whatever it is you’re doing, you know, as planets transit through your 10th.
NDB: Yeah, I’d say for my part, I already have a very fluid view of the houses. The succedent and cadent houses that flank the angular house already have a connection to that angular house in my mind. So I have to say I haven’t looked at a lot of charts with 12th house Midheavens, you know, like people in Norway or whatever. But in terms of 11th or 9th house Midheavens, in terms of how I view the houses, there’s already a sort of fluid relationship, and the 9th and 11th are already tied to the 10th as it is. And sort of like what Watson’s saying, wherever the Midheaven angle, the pivot, falls tends to be a sort of climax point in whatever story is unfolding over the course of a given transit. But, you know, they’re already connected in my mind and it’s not too confounding. The pivot falls where it does and that comes out in the way the chart responds to transits or what have you.
CB: Yeah, and I would just say that the degree of the Midheaven or the Meridian important 10th house significations into whatever whole sign house it falls in and then there’s just a doubling-up. And that’s true as a natal interpretation where sometimes you can just take that straight and say, you know, if the Midheaven falls in the 9th whole sign house that sometimes 9th house topics and 10th house topics are gonna get mixed. So a famous example of that of course is Robert Hand who’s like a famous astrologer. And his career is very much tied in with astrology and that’s how his MC in the 9th house whole sign house manifests. Other people, like myself, for example, my MC falls in the 11th house, and sometimes groups or organizations, or my friends, for example, become very much tied in with my career.
So that’s true both as an isolated natal interpretation you can make, but it also comes up very clearly in the timing techniques. It comes up the most clearly in timing techniques like transits where if you see, you know, a planet or a major outer planet transit going over the MC in one of those other whole sign houses, you’re gonna see both the whole sign house significations and the MC significations coming up at the same time. So yeah, I mean, there’s more we could say about that. I talk a little bit about that in the book, and I think I give a few examples of that, so I’ll leave that for there. Let’s see, another question that the same listener had was, “Do either of your guests have natal charts that look significantly different when using quadrant houses vs. whole sign houses? If that’s the case, how smoothly did your conceptual transition to whole sign houses go? Did you feel almost right away that it made much more sense? Or did you initially resonate strongly with a quadrant house chart?”
CB: She has a few other points, but go ahead.
NDB: Yeah, mine doesn’t change too much; I think it moves my Venus. Actually it’s a difference between Placidus and Koch—one Venus is in the 2nd house, the other Venus is in the 1st—but for the most part there isn’t much difference. It wasn’t hard for me to make the transition; it was relatively early in my study. When I converted to whole sign houses it was maybe three years into my study of astrology. I had already done a lot of work with the other house systems; I went to Rob Hand’s lecture in New York City, and he spoke about them. And I think the reason it resonated with me, I was right from the beginning of my study looking at transits. I always saw a planet’s ingress into a new sign as being, you know, a new prospect, a new situation. And so, doing the ‘sign as house’ thing made perfect sense rather than trying to split them in what I found to be a clumsy and ambiguous fashion. It consolidated what I was seeing and gave me a focus that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Any other house systems—trying to use them was kind of baffling and I couldn’t really figure out the reason to do it.
CB: So it was a pretty easy transition for you. What about you guys? Leisa?
LS: Yeah, I always love to be a good example of complete resistance against whole sign houses because it was not a smooth transition for me. And I think some of it was, you know, just investment. I had invested time and attention, and what I had seen so far in charts—in my own chart and other people’s charts—made sense in that way. And so, I guess the resistance for me at first was that it was kind of saying that that was invalid or completely wrong, and I think that was a lot of the issue for me. And I know that after looking at it for a little bit, it took seeing how some of the same things could be explained from a different angle using a different house system. So it wasn’t that it completely invalidated those interpretations, it was just that they came about technically in a different way. So, say, a planet wasn’t in a particular house anymore, then the ruler of the house explained it in whole sign houses. So that was definitely an issue for me. But now I predominantly use whole sign houses, and I think that it really explains concrete circumstances in different areas of life really well. And I think it doesn’t invalidate the Placidus chart observations, but sometimes I see that that can be kind of a little bit of an overlay and sometimes maybe explain the psychology of someone a little bit. Yeah, so that’s kind of how it went for me, not smooth.
PW: For me, I was born right after a New Moon in late Libra, so my Moon is in Scorpio, even though my Sun is at the very end of Libra. So my Moon’s at 2 Scorpio and my IC is at 3 Scorpio. So when I first studied astrology I thought my Moon was in my 3rd house, even though it’s very closely-conjunct the IC. By whole sign houses my Moon is in my 4th. And so, for me, I was learning about how whole sign houses was able to help me just figure out what was going on. Like, okay, so my Sun is conjunct my IC, but it’s really in my 3rd. And Moon is conjunct the IC, but it’s really in my 4th. It kind of maybe helped me understand the difference between my Sun in late Libra vs. my Moon in early Scorpio by understanding that they’re actually in different houses as well as different signs. And I’ve always found the ingresses to be really impressive, kind of like Nick. The ingresses seem to already kind of say what could be said by, you know, transiting a house cusp as it were. So it was a fairly easy transition for me; it has not been for my Mom. And I’ve tried to, you know, tell her that 30° of Pisces intercepted into the 1st house, you know, isn’t really what she thinks it is, but she’s way too invested. And everything I’ve thrown at her about her chart and showing her how different things in her chart could be said to make more sense under whole sign houses, I haven’t been able to convince her. She’s convinced that she has an intercepted 1st house because she is compassionate towards animals; that’s her reasoning. Yeah, I’m sorry.
NDB: Sorry, Mom.
LS: It really does, you know, get into your conception of yourself…
LS: …and being used to seeing that a certain way and how your chart interprets that a certain way. So it can be hard to kind of shift that.
PW: And she had a really hard time when I told her that Saturn was her Ascendant ruler instead of Uranus, especially since her Uranus is a lot cooler than her Saturn. Yeah, it’s a bit difficult.
CB: And that ties back into the previous question about, you know, how astrology influenced who you are as a person and your worldview. And part of the broader answer to that is that all astrologers inevitably end up partially, you know, conceptualizing their lives and perceiving part of who they are through their chart to some extent, to a greater or lesser extent. And that’s why sometimes some of these debates about things like house division or sign rulership or whatever become really hot debates in the astrological community, or like instances in the past on this podcast become arguments and knock-down brawls or something. It’s because astrologers, you know, oftentimes come to closely identify with their chart, and there becomes this perception of, “If this is true for me that means these other approaches must be false,” or something like that. Sometimes it can get framed in that, or at least sometimes it can become so highly personal that astrologers can get kind of touchy about it.
NDB: Yeah, the whole thing about being so personally identified with astrology, it’s a double-edged sword. I mean, when I got into astrology it helped me a great deal in terms of understanding myself and how I was growing or not growing in the world, or how I could accept certain aspects of my personality. But at the same time I think very early on I realized that I didn’t want my investigation of astrology to be too closely tied to my inner world. I really wanted to be looking out because, you know, I was aware of just how subjective the whole thing was; but I think also there was an underlying thing. I mean, this is the kind of thing I think a lot of people studying face when you see something that looks grim on the horizon, and it can freak you out or make you paranoid about what’s coming down the road. Really early in my study I saw that over a decade away I would have this progression with a solar eclipse conjunct Uranus and it looked really gnarly. And the transits that would be happening when I had that progression involved Saturn; it looked very scary. And I spent over a decade trying to tune that out. Maybe that was the other reason that I decided to not think about my own chart when studying astrology, but to just be looking at the world. And sure enough when the time came it was everything I could have been paranoid about and more so. It involved illness and, you know, just losing a lot of things that were important in my life. You know, in other words, the paranoia was in its own way justified, but there was nothing I could do about it.
NDB: So it’s a weird thing. At the same time I published something right at that same time, also during that progression, that to this day astrologers still refer to. It was an article about Venus retrogrades; I wrote it almost 10 years ago. And even just yesterday I was listening to a lecture Gary Caton had given at the SOTA conference last year and he referred to that article. And Sam Reynolds recently in one of his articles about Venus retrograde referred to that article. So it’s almost like, you know, if I hadn’t survived what happened then, I made something of a legacy for myself. So it’s a weird double-edged sword. And I don’t know why I’m going off on this strand, but I think the question of astrologers really identifying so closely with their own charts in lieu of their broader investigation of astrology can just as easily be, you know, shooting yourself in the foot as it can be a means of growing as a person.
CB: Yeah, and it really varies from astrologer to astrologer. And also astrologers go through different phases I think in their career and their studies of astrology and this relationship with astrology. Sometimes people have a more constructive or healthy view of it or a healthy approach to it, and other times in your life you might have a less healthy approach to it, and that sort of waxes and wanes depending on different circumstances. I know that one thing that Leisa and I have been talking about a lot lately and we coined in our last electional episode for patrons—what was the phrase again, Leisa?
LS: The ‘tyranny of the rising signs’.
CB: Right. That’s what we’re calling it these days, this sort of hyper-awareness. You know, with modern software and stuff it’s like you can have Solar Fire running in the background, so that you know what the chart is for your location at any time in the day. You know, doing electional astrology as much as we do, it sort of creates this hyper-awareness of that and what the different rising signs are and which ones are better or worse; or which times during the day, if something is initiated, you’re gonna run into more problems or run into setbacks or difficulties, you know, like if Saturn, for example, was rising over the Ascendant, as it has lately. But that hyper-awareness, while sometimes it can be useful, in an ideal world with electional astrology, what you’re trying to do is maximize your effectiveness at different points. Sometimes it can also lead to, you know, overly focusing on that and this paralysis, you know, “Should I send this important email right now when Mars is right on the Ascendant?” or “Should I seriously put off what I would otherwise do for like a few hours in order to get a better chart?” And sometimes when it gets to that it starts getting a little questionable, and you start wondering, you know, is this something that’s constructive or is this something that’s, you know, not healthy on some level.
PW: Yeah, I’d rather have electional regret. I have a lot of electional regrets. That’s where you do something and then you’re like, “Oh, damn. Was that even a good time to do that?” And then you check the charts and of course it wasn’t.
PW: Yeah, I’ve sent many a poorly-timed email, but I only knew after the fact. So I was like, “Fucking hell. Really? Is it that with that chart?” And of course it wouldn’t go over well or my request would be denied or whatever it was.
PW: Electional regrets.
NDB: Yeah. Yeah, electional’s always a tricky thing because you don’t always have that much choice to have a good electional, and then you can kind of presume, well, some things just aren’t meant to be. I’ve become more and more philosophical on that end when it comes to choosing electionals. You simply can’t control everything can you?
CB: Right. Well, one of the things that is hard also is that sometimes you’ll notice that. Even if you’re aware sometimes that it’s a terrible chart, your impulse sometimes will still be, you know, “I don’t care. I still want to do it right now.”
NDB: Yeah, that is so me all the time. Like, “I will take you on, Universe.”
NDB: “I will overcome you. I defy you.” And then of course I get slapped down. Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.
LS: I really rarely do that these days even when I want to because I had such a striking bad experience with that early on when I was first learning about these things. I was breaking my lease in Boulder when I was moving to Denver, and it should have been a really easy room to rent out. It was really cheap, a great location, etc., and I needed to place the room for rent on Craigslist to find a replacement for myself. And, you know, I was talking to Chris at the time online, and he was like, “Well, you can’t always choose the best moment. Sometimes practicality just wins out.” And we didn’t really talk further about that, so I just posted it on Craigslist. And I happened to realize later I had posted it when Saturn was, I don’t know, either on the rising or on the Ascendant, I don’t know how exactly, but it was Saturn in a night chart in the 1st house. And it ended up being like months and months of it not being rented out and me paying for two apartments when I had very little money, and I was working every single day of the week for months. And it was such a striking example that I was like, “I am never doing that again.”
PW: I was driving back from Texas to Arizona and I noticed that the Moon was applying to a Mars retrograde in Libra in my 3rd, and I was like, “Fuck, that seems like a crash or something.” So I thought, you know, “We have to get home quickly, but I’m gonna just be careful,” but I got stopped by a cop for speeding. In fact, it was right as the Moon was conjunct Mars ‘cause I looked it up later, ‘cause I took down the time. And I was like, “Fucking hell.” I knew it was something. I thought it was going to be a crash, but, no, it was the cops and a $300 bill.
PW: The only time I’ve ever gotten stopped for speeding.
CB: And it’s like sometimes you can’t avoid those things. And that’s not just in electional astrology, but that’s actually a broader issue that astrologers, all astrologers, I think eventually wrestle with; even in your natal chart sometimes your natal impulse is to do certain things. Or sometimes when you’re experiencing a transit one of the most difficult things philosophically and practically as an astrologer is that sometimes you’re impulse is to do exactly that thing, which rationally, if you’re looking at it from an objective astrological standpoint, you think, “Certainly, I shouldn’t do that,” or “This is gonna be a problematic outcome,” or “I can see how these energies are not gonna manifest in a great way.” But at the time, once you’re in the midst of it sometimes that’s the exact thing that you want to do, and every impulse of your being is just sort of drawing you towards doing or initiating that action at the time, and it takes a great deal of willpower or something to overcome that. Or in some instances, once you actually get in the midst of it you realize, “No, this is something I’ve seen coming that looks bad for a long time,” but then you actually get there and you realize, “This is something I actually need to do and need to experience.” And you sort of go through with it at the time because it turns out that somehow in this weird, not twisted way, but this ironic way that that’s the thing that you’re supposed to do at that time in some broader sense.
CB: Even if it’s making a mistake or something.
NDB: Yeah, the anecdote I was sharing earlier wound up very much being that way. I mean, it wasn’t the kind of thing I ever would have willingly walked into, you know. It was against every fiber of my being to have that experience. But having come out on the end, you can fathom why it was important and how it shaped me in a positive way that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. So yeah, just ‘cause you don’t want it to happen doesn’t mean it’s not working out for you in some way.
CB: Yeah, I mean, also one of the things in astrology that’s positive that, again, circles back to one of the earlier questions of how does it influence your life is that I do think in some instances for astrologers that looking at other people’s charts can allow you to develop a great deal of empathy for other people. Because one of the things that you learn—and this is a realization I had a few years ago that Leisa pointed out to me—is one of the things that’s frustrating is sometimes you’re an external observer that’s looking at somebody who’s doing something, or they’re making a mistake or going down a difficult path, as an external observer, you can point to that and just say, “Look at what you’re doing, this is obviously not a good idea. And this totally matches this thing that’s happening in your chart right now.” But if you’re actually that person and you’re doing that at the time, I guess the life lesson—and maybe I can’t articulate this properly right now—is just that you can’t actually understand what it’s like to have a certain placement and to do certain things unless you have that placement yourself. And when you’re in that role, you know, your shortcomings are your shortcomings, and it’s not something you can step outside of; but instead it’s something that is just, you know, sort of inherent that you can’t quite escape. You can try and work on it and stuff, but those are still gonna be the things that are difficult or challenging for you, even if they’re not challenging for other people, and that’s the part that I think allows for a development of empathy. I don’t think I’m articulating that right, but you know what I’m talking about, right, Leisa?
LS: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think you articulated it pretty well. I think it’s a matter of, you know, we have to live our lives as ourselves and we’re not interchangeable. Even if we all know astrology we’re still experiencing life through particular lenses. And I think a lot of it comes down to whether it’s kind of situated external to the astrology and to our lives even and to kind of be looking in on it and trying to decide from a supposed objective standpoint what is best here vs. how much we’re supposed to be, you know, living in that particular life no matter, you know, the pieces that don’t look so ideal. And maybe there’s something purposeful about having those experiences and maybe you’re supposed to have those particular experiences, even if from an objective standpoint that wouldn’t be what someone would choose usually. So I think we’re both articulating maybe imperfectly different pieces of it right now.
CB: Yeah, I mean, Patrick, before we started this recording, you were talking a little bit about that ‘cause you’re actually in the process of winding up your Saturn return right now; and so you’ve actually got a lot more perspective compared to when you went into it. It was a little bit what you expected it to be about, but also a little different. But you sort of gained some perspective on it since then, right?
PW: Yeah, I mean, having started astrology since I was 14 or 15 or so around my Saturn opposition, you know, I was always kind of looking ahead to my Saturn return and seeing what had happened to other people with Saturn returns and kind of thinking, “Well, what the heck is mine gonna be about?” You know, the next Saturn square to my natal Saturn—that was back in 2008-2009—that’s when I first started blogging in astrology, and so I suspected that perhaps, you know, my Saturn return would be about something to do with astrology. But as Saturn entered Sagittarius I began blogging in earnest for my own site and I started taking astrology as a study and astrology as a profession more seriously. So in that time I worked on these articles and I started building up a bit of practice, and now I’m releasing my own astrology show. So yeah, I mean, it’s all been about taking myself more seriously, ‘cause I kind of like to make a joke out of myself. I mean, I still like to make a joke out of myself, but now I feel like I’m kind of more owning up to myself and who I am more than I did before.
CB: Sure. And, I mean, you anticipated some difficulties and it’s like you had some difficulties.
PW: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the other thing about my Saturn transit is my Saturn is in my 5th. And so, the ingress was the birth of my third child, and that’s pretty much when me and my wife decided no more kids. You know, we both have Saturn in the 5th, so yeah, having three kids has almost broken us as people. I feel like that meme of the dog with the cup of coffee in the room engulfed by flames, and it’s just sort of smiling and like, “Everything’s fine.” Like that’s kind of our life on a daily basis with three kids. So, you know, having one was awesome. Having two was not quite so great, but still pretty good. But three is just like, you know, all bets are off. So yeah, I mean, that’s also been a really huge part of, you know, my Saturn return is just this is the hardest it will ever be, you know, with three children under five-years-old. And it’s been much harder on my wife and has been for me.
But yeah, what I’ve learned from Saturn is, you know, having kids sucks and that, you know, doing everything that you want to do is very, very difficult. I have Saturn in a night chart. So I was always suspecting that around the election—for which I had made a prediction of a Hillary Clinton victory, which obviously didn’t happen—so I noticed that I was gonna have this return. And Saturn in a night chart is not supposed to be that great, so I just tried to reason it away and think, “Well, maybe it’s about something else.” But, no, it was about, you know, making this prediction and being wrong about it, but still finding it somewhere in myself to, you know, continue despite having a very embarrassing misfire with my astrological prediction skills.
CB: Sure. I mean, one of the things I like about both of those that’s interesting is that you also have Saturn relatively closely-conjunct Uranus. And so, both of those two things that you just talked about were both surprises or unexpected twists.
PW: Right. Yeah.
CB: Like a third child.
PW: Yeah, we weren’t really planning for the third. Yeah, since my Saturn is loosely-conjunct Uranus it kind of takes on a certain Uranus-type flavor. And of course I was very, very shocked when I was wrong about the election as well.
PW: And many of us were. I’m sure everyone has their own ways in which they understand that event.
CB: Yeah, yeah. We’ll all be recounting that…
CB: …for many years.
PW: What was the next question?
CB: Yeah, moving on.
CB: No, we should actually move on. So that was fun though. We should do this more often actually. ‘Cause we’re basically just using some of these questions as jumping-off points for a roundtable discussion amongst astrologers, and that’s actually a much more interesting format that I’ve been wanting to move more towards for some episodes, so I think we can try to get through a few more. But I like the sort of free flow of this discussion, and so we’ll try to do a few more, but then otherwise not push it too much further and maybe come back and do this again sometime before too long.
NDB: Sounds good.
CB: Okay, so let me see. There’s a few other house division questions. I don’t want to get too bogged down in that ‘cause it’s such a complicated and touchy issue, and I feel like I’ve come back to it so many times over the past year; but I’ll save that for another episode. So let’s see, there was a question from Barbara about secondary progressions. I mean, Daniel Larkin had a pretty good question, a pretty straightforward question about conjunctions. So he says, “How do you approach interpreting the conjunction between a malefic and a benefic? Does it make the benefic weaker? Does it make the malefic less menacing? Or both or neither? This isn’t a new question between us, but I think it’s a good one for the community to ponder.”
PW: Isn’t that basically asking how to approach a Venus-Saturn conjunction or a Mars-Jupiter conjunction?
CB: Yeah, a few different combinations like that.
PW: Yeah, I guess there’s a few different combinations that would apply. I mean, how does Richard Tarnas describe it? He says that basically it goes both ways. I mean, whatever the malefic signifies, a benefic can help; whatever the benefic signifies, the malefic hurts. There’s always sort of a two-way street, you know, in the way it works.
NDB: Well, for that—if I may…
PW: Go ahead.
NDB: …jump in. When you have two planets in conjunction they really take on each other’s significations; they’re joined at the hip. For someone who’s got a Saturn-Venus conjunction, the Saturn will always take on a sort of Venus quality in its transits and Venus will always take on a Saturn quality in its transits. So it’s very much they wind up sort of like what Watson was saying; you get this double-edged sword where both planets are mitigated. And obviously in the case of the benefic, to have it mitigated by a malefic isn’t such a great thing, but to have a malefic mitigated by a benefic can be, you know, quite a saving grace. And then it just comes down to which one of those two planets in the conjunction rules an angle, you know, or rules the sect light; it just has that much more power in the chart. If you’ve got Venus conjunct Saturn, but you’re an Aquarius or Capricorn rising, that can be quite a great thing. But if you have Venus conjunct Saturn and you’re a Libra or Taurus rising—well, maybe more a Taurus rising—it can be a tough thing. Yeah, it all comes down in the end, as it always does, to the individual chart.
PW: Yeah. You know, there’s that example—remember back in late April or early May of 2011 when Osama bin Laden was killed? There was a Mars-Jupiter conjunction. So clearly, you know, people were celebrating, you know, his assassination. So that’s sort of Jupiter like cheering on—Mars-Jupiter—and kind of making Mars this good guy because we got this really bad guy. And then obviously the Mars-Jupiter conjunction couldn’t have been good for Osama bin Laden who, you know, got killed. So yeah, I mean, it’s kind of a two-way street with any conjunction like that.
LS: Yeah, so I often see it show up the most if you look at which planets of those two together are ruling which houses of the chart. So, say, Saturn is ruling a couple of houses in a night chart, and so those house topics would work out not so great ordinarily. And, say, Venus in the same night chart is aspecting that Saturn, then the Venus would be making that Saturn a little bit better than it otherwise would be; and therefore, the themes associated with those two houses that Saturn rules would be kind of brought up a little bit. But then conversely, say, Venus is ruling a couple of houses in the chart and that same Saturn in a night chart is aspecting that; the houses that Venus rules that would otherwise be really good in a night chart would be brought down some by the Saturn aspect. So I see it working together, but that’s kind of a way you can differentiate a little bit.
CB: Okay, yeah.
PW: That’s helpful.
CB: And the only other thing I’d say about that is two things. One, sect is really useful when it comes to interpreting and differentiating those. If the benefic is of the sect in favor—if it’s Jupiter in a day chart or Venus in a night chart—and it’s conjunct a malefic that’s not that malefic due to sect, then the benefic’s gonna win out; whereas if the malefic is contrary to the sect—like Saturn in a night chart or Mars in a day chart—then typically the malefic is gonna win out, so there’s different combinations of those that can be better or worse. And then it also matters which planet is applying to the other, but that’s a whole other thing. So there’s a few different considerations you can take into account, but sect is a big one.
Reception is also another big one, even a difficult conjunction between two planets. If one of them is in the domicile of the other, then that’s gonna take the edge off of that conjunction and it’s gonna make it more constructive pretty much no matter what. So there’s a few different ways you can interpret that or different technical things you can take into account. But that is true, and there’s different technical things, and then the other thing that everybody is emphasizing is true; sometimes you just get both or sometimes they do balance each other out. All right, so that’s a good question. Let’s do one more, and then I think we’re at like an hour-and-forty-five or something, which is a relatively long, decent-sized episode. Are there any other questions that you guys are seeing that stand out to you or that you guys wanted to do before we end it?
NDB: Should I tackle the question about exterior and interior conjunctions and synodic cycles?
CB: Right. So it’s from listener Belinda Tomlinson who says, “One question I have for your hundredth episode is further discussion on the inferior and superior conjunctions as it relates to a synodic cycle and the difference in interpretation.”
NDB: Yeah, I mean, it’s a great question and it’s one I’m continuing to ask myself. There’s definitely a link between the two, but I don’t see an interpretive difference as of yet because I see very often very similar types of events occurring at either one of those points, either one of those conjunctions. They tend to be linked thematically. For instance, this retrograde going on now—this Venus retrograde we have in Aries—if you look into your own life or the life of your client, you can see certain ways that it ties into things that were going on four years ago when there was an exterior conjunction with the Sun and Venus in Aries because they alternate every four years. You get an exterior or an inferior in the same sign, and pretty much at the same degree you get those conjunctions. So they’re linked thematically. But the thing about these cycles is in themselves, they don’t indicate a positive or negative outcome with regard to any situation; that’ll be mitigated to however else the conjunction is configured with other planets in the chart, or in the transits rather. So I know it’s an ambiguous answer. The only thing I can really say, really having looked at this closely in a lot of instances, is they’re linked, but I wouldn’t make too much of interpreting them differently from each other. That comes down to whatever else is going on in the sky and not from the conjunction itself. I hope that helps.
PW: Although wouldn’t you say that the inferior conjunctions—since that’s when the interior planets are retrograde—tend to stand out more since they’re retrograde?
PW: No. All right.
NDB: No, no, I don’t. No, no. Yeah, I’ve been putting together a bunch of pieces on historical examples of these conjunctions, and I see over and over that the exterior conjunctions—the ones that happen when the planet isn’t retrograde—can very much reflect the same type of thing that you associate with the retrograde. And what it really comes down to is it’s about the interaction of, you know, in this case Venus and the Sun, and not just the matter of Venus going backwards in motion or appearing to go backwards in motion. I think the one distinction I’ll make is that the exterior conjunctions come and go a lot faster, whereas the retrogrades—you know, because Venus stays in the same part of the sky over a month—that period sort of stretches out more. So in terms of looking at timing there’s a difference, but not in interpretation.
CB: Okay. And I remember—I wish I could remember it more clearly—I think Adam Gainsburg said in his lecture that he wanted to rename superior and inferior because people always got them confused, or it was kind of hard because it didn’t usually correctly convey what the actual observational difference is.
CB: One of them is closer where we can see it, so that it’s the planet covering or going across the face of the Sun, whereas the other one is the planet going on the other side of the Sun, at least with, you know, inner planets.
PW: Closer and further, ‘innie’ and ‘outie’.
CB: It was something like that, I can’t remember.
NDB: Well, that’s just it. It’s just astronomically slightly more accurate, somewhat more accurate, to refer to them as exterior and interior conjunctions rather than superior and inferior and that’s really the reason I use the terminologies I do. There’s a few people who’ve pointed this out. Adam is one of them; Adam Gainsburg is one of them. Gemini Brett who’s an astrologer out on the West Coast of the States is another one to have pointed it out. So yeah, I appreciate the logic of that, and so I’ve made a conscious effort to refer to them as exterior and interior rather than superior and inferior. And for people who don’t know what we’re talking about exterior/superior meaning the Sun is conjunct Venus or Mercury when those planets are not retrograde, and interior or inferior is when those planets make a conjunction to the Sun while retrograde; in other words, moving from evening star back into morning star position.
CB: And that’s just referring to the inner planets?
NDB: Well, yeah, because it can only be Mercury or Venus. Mars can never make, you know, an interior conjunction to the Sun because when Mars is retrograde it’s opposite the Sun, as are all the planets following it. So it’s only Mercury and Venus.
CB: Right. I just wanted to make sure listeners are clear ‘cause it’s a little complicated when you’re first hearing it and you can’t really visualize what’s going on. But it’s just the difference where, you know, sometimes a planet will pass between the Earth and the Sun, so that the planet passes over the face of the Sun; and other times the planet will pass behind the Sun from our perspective on Earth, so that you can’t see it, but it’s otherwise conjunct the Sun.
NDB: That’s right. And it’s when the planet is retrograde that it’s between Earth and the Sun. I mean, that’s the irony is retrogrades occur when the planet is closest to Earth, and the conjunction to the Sun generally means it’s on the other side of the Sun.
NDB: And it’s furthest, yeah. Hence the interior and exterior distinction.
CB: Right. And I’m sure there certainly are all sorts of possible distinctions or subtle distinctions between a lot of these things. There’s just so much of this. You know, all of it ultimately is so complicated that each astrologer can only do so much or follow certain lines of research, but there’s always going to be lines of research that are sort of left for somebody else to do or somebody else to figure out. And oftentimes there is somebody else working on it, but you’re not aware of the research that they’ve done. Yeah, it’s a pretty broad field, and there’s always still a lot more to research.
NDB: Yeah, yeah, I’ve done a lot of my own work on the subject for a long time, but I am now sort of looking out at what other people have been doing. I deliberately sort of shut myself in blinders for a while and just focused on my little thread of things, but now I’m sort of connecting what I’m doing with what other people are doing with some pretty fruitful results. I’m about to start posting a bunch of stuff pertaining to this very question, so check out my website NickDaganBest.com for a future word on the subject.
CB: Awesome, great. And of course we’re in the early stages of Venus retrograde, and people can listen to the past Venus retrograde episode that you and I did I think like a year, a year-and-a-half ago for a really good treatment of that that’s still applicable to this one.
CB: Okay, even though we’ve gotten through very few questions unfortunately, we should probably wrap this up because it’s already like 1:30 in the morning here for half of us; for three-fourths of us. Yeah, and thank you guys for joining me for this momentous occasion with the hundredth episode.
PW: Happy hundred.
NDB: Well, thank you, Chris. Yeah, happy hundred. Let’s please try this again. You know, normally, my situation won’t be as chaotic as this. It was a last minute fix.
CB: Yeah, yeah, we’re definitely gonna do this again. I want to get to a lot of these other questions and maybe even revisit some of them that we did or touched on, but didn’t do as thoroughly as we could. And I think this will give us a lot of material for future episodes, so let’s definitely plan on reconvening before too long in doing this again soon.
LS: Sounds good.
NDB: All right. Thank you, Chris.
CB: Awesome. All right, well, thanks everyone for joining us. Thanks for listening to the hundredth episode. And yeah, here’s to 100 more episodes. And we’ll see how long that takes and then check in again a hundred episodes later and see what the podcast looks like then. So thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.