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The Astrology Podcast

Ep. 160 Transcript: Reflections on United Astrology Conference 2018

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 160, titled:

Reflections on United Astrology Conference 2018

With Chris Brennan and guests Austin Coppock, Spencer Michaud, and Kelly Surtees

Episode originally released on June 18, 2018


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: theastrologypodcast@gmail.com

Transcribed by Andrea Johnson

Transcription released November 27th, 2023

Copyright © 2023 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Thursday, June 14, 2018, starting at 4:11 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 160th episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode I’m gonna be talking with Austin Coppock, Kelly Surtees, and Spencer Michaud, and we’re gonna be doing a recap of the United Astrology Conference now that the event is finally over and we’ve had a little bit of a chance to recover and process our thoughts about the conference over the past couple of weeks. So, hey, guys. Thanks for joining me today.


SPENCER MICHAUD: How’s it going, Chris?


SM: Happy to be here.

CB: Hey. And, Spencer, welcome. Your first time on the show.

SM: Thank you. I appreciate it.

CB: Long-time listener, first-time caller.

SM: Yes, indeed.

CB: All right, so, Spencer, since this is your first time on, to introduce you, you are somebody that we all just met at the conference. Because this was your very first astrology conference that you ever attended, right?

SM: Yes, first ever.

CB: Okay. So you’ve been studying astrology for a number of years and you give consultations. And where are you from again?

SM: I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yeah, and I’ve been studying astrology for about 15 years or so and got really turned on to the traditional track by listening to your podcast and with Demetra George’s book, Astrology and the Authentic Self. Her book led me to you, and then you led me to AFAN, and AFAN led me to UAC, and here we are. Quite a journey.

CB: Sure. So you’re one of the people that listened to the episode I think I did with Ryhan Butler and Jo Gleason last year, where I told everyone that there were conference scholarships and that not as many people apply for them as you think basically. And you ended up applying and then winning one, right?

SM: Yeah, absolutely. I listened to that podcast and that got the wheel spinning and I was saying, “Well, maybe it’s a possibility that I could actually make it out to one of these.” And you never know until you try, so I threw my hat into the ring and was very blessed to have won the scholarship and got to meet all of you and had kind of a peak experience.

CB: Awesome. All right, well, we’ll get into that in a little bit. So, first, Kelly and Austin, have you guys had a chance to recover at this point? What are we, like two weeks out?

KS: Yes, is the answer.

AC: Yeah.

KS: A lot of sleep was required in the first week home, that’s for sure.

AC: Yeah, I slept the five days following like 12 hours. 12 hours, 9 hours. 12.

AC: There was some bodily exhaustion, but also there was just so much to process. I felt like I was thinking through UAC pretty much every night in my dreams.

CB: Yeah. What is it—I always forget until I get that there’s, on the one hand, this extreme physical endurance component. Everybody is torn between, on the one hand, wanting to stay up really late talking to friends and meeting people and staying up late in the bar until two and three in the morning, but then on the other hand wanting to get up early or sometimes having to get up early for lectures and the whole educational component of the conference itself, so that you just progressively throughout the course of the week are getting less and less sleep and more and more tired.

SM: Absolutely. I mean, from my experience, I averaged about four to five hours of sleep, mostly because I just wanted to have conversations with people. You’d get drawn into a conversation in the lobby and it’d be very hard to tear yourself away. I mean, that was kind of the meeting place, the town square basically.

CB: Yeah, I remember having to tell you to leave a few times towards the end of the conference. You’re looking a bit tired, but you didn’t want to leave the bar at that time at night.

SM: Well, and I commuted in, too. I stayed with my mom out in the suburbs. So I was taking the train and eventually got wise and drove in, but that made it a lot easier. But, yeah, I didn’t want to leave. I was just meeting one amazing mind right after another, one genius right to the next, and you’d try to leave and you’d get sucked into another mind-blowing conversation. And it’s a really beautiful thing to be able to speak that shared language with people. I think that that was something that I really took away from my experience there, just being able to not have to censor yourself. It was just kind of an easy flow with people. But, yeah, sleep was the lowest priority on the totem pole there.

CB: Sure. And, Kelly, you actually went back to work like right away as soon as you got done with the conference, right?

KS: Yeah, I just thought Chicago is quite close to where I live in Toronto, just outside of Toronto, like a 45-minute flight. So I’m like, “There’s gonna be no jet lag,” so I just hit the ground running the next day, completely forgetting what an absolute marathon an astrology conference is physically, but also emotionally and energetically because like you were saying, Austin, you were just like processing it all in your dreams. You’re just taking in so much info at different levels, like intellectually, energetically, intuitively, emotionally. It’s like I heard so many wonderful descriptions of the conference on social media. Somebody said it’s like a “camp for astrologers” kind of thing. And you do want to soak up all that in-person experience, but there is a lot going on, and, yeah, I should have definitely given myself a few days. Now that it’s been two weeks, and I’m sort of settled in, I actually had the whole weekend off last weekend, which is the first time I’ve done that all year which is just a clue as to the insanity of fabulous-ness that’s been going on this year. And I was like, “Oh, now I can kind of process everything,” ‘cause you need that space. You can’t take in new stuff when you’re trying to integrate recent stuff, and there was definitely a lot to integrate afterwards.

CB: Yeah, definitely. All right, well, and to get into some of the specifics, so the conference of course, the United Astrology Conference, I feel like I’ve talked about it so much over the past year or two in the build-up to it. But just for those that don’t know or are tuning in for the first time, this was the United Astrology Conference, which took place in downtown Chicago. The dates were basically, if you include the pre- and post-conference events, May 23-30, 2018. And UAC is unique of course because even though each of the individual astrology organizations will host a conference every few years, the United Astrology Conference, or UAC, is unique because it’s when all of the major astrological organizations in North America pool their resources and host one big mega conference. And I think in the end that the organizers said that the number of attendees was somewhere around 1,400 or 1,500 astrologers who ended up attending the conference during the course of the weekend when you include all the speakers and vendors and the trade show and other things like that. So that’s a lot of astrologers and in one place.

KS: It’s so many. It’s almost impossible to fully understand what that feels like without going. And that was kind of where my comment months ago when we were talking about UAC around “beg, borrow, or steal but get there however you can” because that feeling of like there are so many people that speak the same language; where you have, as you were saying Spencer, that ease and that sense of, “Oh, these people are just on my wavelength.” It’s phenomenal to experience that with so many people all at once.

CB: Yeah. If anything, one of the things that was frustrating is there were so many people, that there were a bunch of people I never got a chance to connect with or like didn’t even see, and only realized in retrospect after the conference was over that they were there and I never connected with them.

AC: Yeah, I had the same thing, and I was feeling guilty about it.

CB: Right.

AC: I was like I really should have made time to hang out with Sam or Michael Lutin or other people I wanted to hang out with. I was going to, but I didn’t. But then I saw online everybody had that experience.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Right.

AC: And so, I felt it was less a personal failing and more a feature.

KS: And it was a feature of the size, I think, because you kind of got caught into these weird little loops or wormholes that if you were going to see these few people, you end up kind of rolling with this particular crew. Or if you were all in the lobby after 10 o’clock at night, you were gonna be hanging out with the certain same people. And so, then those people became the micro-conference for you. And that’s what made it so unique, that everybody had these little micro-groups. And I felt the same, Austin. I mean, I tried to see Sam. He was very hard to pin down, but he had a lot of stuff going on. And I think people that were heavily involved with different orgs also had a lot of commitments through the conference as well.

AC: Yeah. Well, and another feature of that is for people who are more visible like Chris, like, Chris, we barely talked at the conference. We would sit down like two feet away from each other and be like, “Hey, let’s check in,” and then we would just kind of end up in separate conversations with four or five people within 10 feet, but that kept happening. That was funny. I’d try to talk to you and then eight other people would try to talk to you at the same time.

CB: Right.

AC: But I was generous. I shared you with people because I get more of you than most of them.

CB: Yeah, I do appreciate that. And this was our first time, having done the podcast and attending a UAC. I actually started this podcast, The Astrology Podcast, after the last United Astrology Conference, which was in 2012. So this was our first time, all three of us, going to a conference of that magnitude, and then having so many people that listen to the podcast on a regular basis coming up to us, having the podcast event that we hosted and everything else. So it was pretty intense.

AC: I had many weird and fun experiences. But there was one moment where I was waiting for an elevator with two women whose names I don’t recall right now, but I said something like, I don’t know, “Boy, these elevators take a long time.” They were like, “Oh, you’re Austin.” They recognized me by my voice but not my appearance.

CB: Right.

AC: And that’s certainly a feature of the podcast.

SM: Oh, you guys were the rock stars. I think that one of the advantages I had that helped my experiences is the first day I came early. So before the throngs of people could descend on their podcast heroes, I got to speak with Chris and Leisa and meet and start to make connections before everyone’s attention was pulled in a lot of different directions, and I think that was a cool experience as well.

CB: Right. You did a number of pre-conference workshops so that you actually got to start meeting people pretty early before everybody showed up to the conference.

SM: Oh, yeah. Like the first day—I think I got there Wednesday—and the first event that I did was the AFAN roundtable on starting your own astrology group in your local area. And then I think you were one of the first faces that I saw that came in the room, and I had my little moment, I couldn’t contain myself. I was like, “Oh, I’m a little star-struck right now,” and it continued like that. You talk about trying to connect with so many people. But when it’s your first time, you’re trying to make those connections with everybody for the first time, and you want to give them as much of your attention and establish, I don’t know, some kind of intimacy with people. Sometimes it’s hard to get to know somebody, but you want to kind of really engage with them. And that takes a lot of energy like when you go from one to the next at a big conference like this ‘cause you can only make friends with so many people at one time, I think, and really make a connection.

CB: Yeah, I think that was something we all agreed on: getting there and then being reminded that the social component really is probably the most important part of these conferences for a number of different reasons. And that was actually something I was a little nervous about because I know it can be hard sometimes if you’re new, or if it’s your first conference, to make some of those connections and like establish some of those relationships if you don’t already know some people that are there at the conference. So occasionally I’d see a younger astrologer sort of like walking around aimlessly and have this impulse to grab them and start introducing them to other people and occasionally would, but I know that that’s not always possible. So that was part of the reason we did the podcast event—what was it, on Saturday night—to try to get together a group of podcast listeners and introduce them to each other.

SM: That’s super important, too, ‘cause I don’t think everybody who goes to these things is as gregarious as I am. I mean, I’m Leo ascending, so I’ll just go out and say, “Hey, here I am, let’s be friends,” but that’s hard for a lot of people. And I think that events like that, that make people feel welcome, are really important. And I think you guys did a really great job of that. I mean, I felt really welcomed, and I thought that was really gracious of everybody. The astrological community, it is very welcoming—at least that was my experience—but we’re all gonna have our own individual takes on it, too.

CB: Sure, sure. Let’s see, did you guys get there early? I know Spencer was there early, as I was. Leisa and I got there early, since Leisa was a conference organizer and has been working on this for like four or five years. So this was actually a huge sort of milestone that had been building up in her life and that we’d been talking about for quite a while, and we came in early in order to help with some things and make sure things got off the ground okay. When did you guys get there, Kelly and Austin?

KS: I got in on Wednesday as well actually. When you were talking Spencer, it reminded me that if you’ve got the time and you can afford the extra nights in the hotel, getting in like the day before everything really gets going, just to get situated and to start making some of those connections before the crowd numbers really swell is a really good strategy. But, yeah, I came in Wednesday. I met my friend Cassandra at the airport. I mean, I had this side thing going on with her where we are friends from Australia but we haven’t seen each other in three or four years. And so, even though of course we’re very excited about UAC, we were also just happy to be seeing one of our besties in the flesh, which we haven’t done for a while. And, yeah, that social component I think is so critical. I caught myself saying at the conference you can always grab a lecture recording and listen to that at home in a couple of weeks. What I can’t do in a couple of weeks is have those ‘campfire’ calls, those kind of collisions in the hallway where you just spark up with someone, or you get into a conversation that’s a bit impromptu but really inspiring or thought-provoking, and that social component, I think, is great. Sorry, I’m just responding to a bunch of things here. But, yeah, I got it on Wednesday, and I stayed until the following Thursday. So I stayed till the very end as well.

CB: Okay, cool. When did you get in, Austin?

AC: About an hour after the opening ceremony.

KS: That’s right.

CB: Oh, right.

KS: You guys were delayed.

CB: I forgot about that. It was like an airplane delay, or what was that?

AC: Yeah, so in Seattle, the radio control tower ‘whatever’ went down for a little bit, and it was back up. And so, what it meant is that I think there were 22 planes ahead of us because the takeoffs were backed up. And so, yeah, we were 23rd in line, so we sat on the runway for a very long time. And that pushed our landing in Chicago deep into rush hour, which made our commute from the airport longer, and it was just long enough to miss the opening ceremony.

CB: Okay. Well, yeah, that’s too bad. As usual, at UAC, they always do this like big video production and it was actually a pretty energetic opening ceremony. And that’s the first time that you really realized the scope of the conference because everybody’s there in the largest auditorium in the hotel, and you have over a thousand astrologers in the same room. So it was really breathtaking to see that right from the start and realize how many people were there from all around the world.

AC: That’s what I heard.

SM: A tribal elder kind of sung us in as well with a drum and acapella song, and it was magical, surreal.

CB: Yeah, and all the speakers were introduced briefly, and there was like lots of audience applause for the different people that people were there to see. Yeah, so it started off like really strong and there was obviously a little bit of a build-up before that. Kelly, did you do any other pre-conference stuff?

KS: I didn’t, no. I just came in for the fun.

CB: Okay.

KS: But the pre-conference workshops were all day Thursday, I think. So Thursday night, some people were already deep into their learning by the time we had the opening. ‘Cause that was Thursday night, right?

CB: Yeah, that was Thursday night. And so, the full pre-conference workshops happened on Thursday, and then the orgs each did their own pre-conference workshop on Wednesday.

KS: That’s right.

CB: So Spencer already mentioned the one that Leisa helped to lead with AFAN, which was “How to Start and Build a Local Astrology Group,” which was like a nice three-hour discussion where different people who are part of different astrology groups sort of shared insights about what’s worked for them in their areas or what were some of the things that they’ve struggled with. And there were some interesting discussions about how to continue to make local astrology groups relevant and useful in the age where you can go online and view a webinar or a lecture so easily, and what role those will continue to play in the future. So that was interesting. And then there was also an ISAR panel—the much-anticipated, poorly-titled ISAR panel which was titled, “Is Prediction Killing Astrology?” And that ended up being, I think, like a six-person panel. It was me, Rick Levine, Chris McCrae, Steven Forrest, Sam Reynolds, and—oh, my God, one more astrologer. I’m spacing out her name. Spencer, do you remember? A great financial—

SM: The financial—yeah, I think that’s the word I always—

CB: Christeen Skinner.

KS: Oh, Christeen.

CB: Yeah, Christeen Skinner. And it was moderated by David Railey.

AC: That is not a good title. It really sort of sets it up to be more contentious than it needs to be.

CB: Yeah.

AC: It’s like, is this person an idiot? Let’s talk about it.

CB: Right.

AC: Is this the stupidest thing ever? Let’s do pro and con.

SM: Well, Chris wasn’t shy about pointing that out either.

CB: Yeah.

AC: Good, good. I missed it. I don’t know if I missed it emotionally, but I wasn’t there.

SM: I think I had to calm him down during the break a little bit, like give him a pep talk and was like, “It’s all right, man. Put those guns away, brother.”

CB: Yeah, I was a little worried that I came out a little too strong in the beginning of that panel, ‘cause I basically just did get up and say right from the start I thought it was a stupid title. And I was kind of tired of these misguided attempts at marketing on behalf of ISAR where they do stuff like that or the presidential panel where they announced that they had Hillary Clinton’s birth time but they weren’t gonna release it until the day of the panel in another misguided attempt at marketing. And they would just do new stuff like that for kind of dumb reasons, to draw attention or to make a spectacle rather than focusing on the astrology or education or what’s good for the community or something like that. So I sort of came out swinging at the beginning of that panel, but eventually I think it ended up being a pretty good discussion and there were a lot of good points made by Steven Forrest, by Sam Reynolds, by Rick Levine, by just about everybody on it. And, yeah, I did actually get a recording of it, so I’m thinking about releasing that at some point in the future.

AC: Nice.

SM: I was there. It was good. I thought there was a lot of good discussion that happened between everybody. And I thought for the most part everybody was respectful. I think that at the end of the day everybody cares about astrology and its place within society and its image to a certain degree, and I think that you guys discussed some of the challenges surrounding that, especially with the media. I think one of the main complaints was the way that it was presented to the media. And as astrologers, we have to be real careful about how we’re gonna present the ideas because we’re already kind of facing somewhat of an uphill battle of respectability, and I think that was one of the main things you guys were going back and forth about a little bit.

CB: Yeah. I mean, it’s an issue where all the media sometimes cares about is gonna be those novel situations where you have something like astrologers predicting a presidential election or something like that. And sometimes astrologers will try to cater to that by having conferences where they make that like the focus of the conference or something like that, like the ISAR presidential panel in 2016, or the UAC presidential panel in 2012. But there were, obviously after the last election, some legitimate objections that were raised of is this serving the community well when things like that go awry. And I know Steven Forrest penned a column where he very strongly called out the notion of prediction being the primary thing that astrology is good for and really questioned whether astrology should be used in a predictive way publicly in that way. So one of the things I had to address right at the beginning in some of my opening statements was my position that astrology is inherently predictive. So asking the question of is prediction killing astrology is kind of dumb because it’s like asking ‘is astrology killing astrology’.

AC: Right.

CB: Yeah, so there might still be legitimate questions about the appropriateness of prediction or creating a spectacle surrounding it in order to draw media attention and other things like that, but, yeah, the way it was set up was kind of weird.

AC: So I have a question, Chris. The point is that even if you’re doing psychological astrology you are predicting a cluster of archetypal experiences—as well as a variety of psychological issues from the person’s birth—that predicting about a person’s state is predicting. Predicting about what things will feel like is predicting.

CB: Yeah, and that’s basically what I said. Because of the aversion to what they were conceptualizing, the type of prediction of concrete events, like a lot of the psychological astrologers in the Pluto in Leo generation in the ‘60s and ‘70s started trying to spin it as astrology is not about prediction, it’s about character analysis, which they saw as somehow distinct from prediction. But it ended up going too far so that they’ll use euphemisms sometimes like ‘forecasting’. Even though the word ‘forecast’ is just a synonym for prediction, they somehow see forecast as being conceptually distinct from prediction. And that was part of where the discussion went, where I had to very forcefully just be like that’s still prediction. You’re still making a prediction if you’re trying to make a statement about a person’s life based on the alignment of the planets at the moment that they were born. That should have no bearing whatsoever on who they are in the future, unless astrology has some predictive capabilities.

AC: Just to give the Pluto in Leos a little bit of credit, it’s also the Pluto in Leos who started the traditional revival.

CB: Yeah, some of them eventually.

AC: But, I mean, Robert Hand and Robert Schmidt and Robert Zoller; apparently all of the Bobs.

KS: All the Bobs.

AC: Demetra George.

KS: Yeah.

AC: These are Pluto in Leos, too.

CB: Sure, sure.

KS: Well, I think the focus away from psychological—sorry, predictive onto psychological—it actually started earlier in the late 20th century. Hang on, no, the early 20th century. I’m getting confused. I thought it had to do with a court case, either Evangeline Adams or Alan Leo. There was some legal fine line that came down where it’s like you can do astrology if you’re not predicting, if you’re just doing psychological personality stuff, and that then did flavor the entire 20th century. Was it Alan Leo that had that court case?

SM: Yeah, it was him.

AC: I think you both had court cases.

KS: Yeah.

CB: There’s elements of that.

AC: Also, Rudhyar.

CB: Yeah, it’s like there were waves of that. Like Alan Leo pushed it towards character analysis, and then you have Rudhyar who comes in and pushes it and incorporates it. He’s one of the first major astrologers that incorporated Jung and started pushing it towards depth psychology, and that really took off with that generation of astrologers that came in in the ‘60s and ‘70s and modern psychological astrology was born. And the more psychological orientation towards astrology really took off at that point and was cemented by the 1980s and ‘90s to the extent that what became mainstream astrology was basically modern psychological astrology. Yeah, but just some of those issues surrounding prediction, surrounding traditional designations or distinctions—like the distinction between benefic and malefic—for a while there was a deliberate effort to reject distinctions like that.

KS: Yes.

CB: So there has been a reaction to that, which was the traditional movement over the past couple of decades. And we’re starting to get to a point—I think that’s one of the points that you raised, Austin, especially in the panel—where traditional astrology is no longer something that’s on the fringes, but it’s finally become mainstream in some ways. And UAC was actually a great representation of that because this was the first UAC where there was an entire track dedicated to traditional astrology. ‘Cause at the previous UAC traditional astrology was subsumed under the history track, so there were like history lectures on traditional ones. This was the first time there was a fully traditional track, so we’re at a stage where it’s become more mainstream. And not only that but many of those lectures were actually full. Like the traditional lectures were very well-attended at this conference. So it wasn’t just like this throwaway thing, but it was actually a sort of popularly-attended subject.

AC: Yeah, definitely. Well, like I said, we’re not in the process where we’re trying to make what is dead live again. It’s not a revival, it’s revived, and now it’s walking around and talking—

CB: Right.

AC: —and dialoguing with other things. There’s actually something nice about that. There’s something nice about that in that I’m seeing traditional astrology and its practitioners as a whole becoming less defensive because it was a tender thing; it was a vulnerable endeavor. It was like, “Oh, this thing’s not quite ready yet. We found this piece, it’s really interesting.” But when something is in its early days it’s vulnerable and you have to defend it from the inevitable criticism, and so I think that some of that dynamic created more rancor between traditional astrologers and those of a more modern bent in past decades. But as I see traditional just being alive and being a thing and being healthy, it can suffer bumping into other things without needing to protect it, and those of us who are interested in the tradition or traditional material don’t need to defend that choice anymore.

KS: No.

AC: I don’t know. I’ve felt that personally, and I’ve also seen that in other practitioners and communally. Does that make sense, Kelly?

KS: Yeah, totally. And you’ve probably noticed this when you teach, Austin, that three or four years ago, if you started talking about a chart in a whole sign house system 90% of your students kind of looked at you funny. But nowadays, most people are like, “Yeah, I’ve seen my chart in this format,” or “I’m familiar with it.” I mean, that’s just one example. And I think what you’re getting at, Austin, is that, yeah, the tradition is revived, and it is now out playing amongst all the other strands or strains of astrology. And there is less defensiveness because it’s vulnerable. I agree with you completely on that front. It just is, and there’s enough people using it or suggesting it that it’s holding its ground basically. It’s an equal or a relevant competitor. And not that ‘competition’ is the right word, but it has a place at the table.

SM: I think you’re seeing a lot of young people really contributing to that, too. I mean, I think that one of the things you’re gonna see with the younger generation of astrologers is they’re not gonna be as attached perhaps to their old ways of doing things. And being a little bit younger, they’re gonna be able to, I don’t know, maybe make an adjustment. That’s not true for everybody. There’s individuals that are able to make those changes, but I’m seeing a lot of people in my generation that are really on board with and their mind gets blown by the traditional techniques, but they’re willing to incorporate it, and kind of that fusion is starting to happen.

AC: How old are you, Spencer?

KS: I was gonna say, yeah.

SM: I think we’re all about the same age. I’ll be 38 this year.

AC: Okay, Kelly and I are 39. Oh, I was actually going to speak to the same point that you just brought up, Spencer. One of the novel experiences for me at the conference was when I would talk to somebody who maybe had been into astrology like two or three years, long enough to go deep but not like decades-old in practice, and they described what their initial influences were or what they encountered in the early days, it would be like, “Oh, yeah, I listen to The Astrology Podcast with Chris, and so I’ve been exposed to all this stuff.” Somebody told me that their second book on astrology was my book on the decans and that really helped them understand the territory of the zodiac, and that really made me take a step back. I was like, what would that even be like—

CB: Right.

AC: —‘cause the ‘decan’ stuff is something I came to 15 years in. And I was like, what would that even be like? Was that a good place to start or a bad place?

CB: Right.

AC: It just made me think.

CB: I’ve been processing that as well. There have been some people that I’ve met over the past year where they’re like, “I’m starting to study astrology right now, and yours is my first book that I’m reading on this subject,” where my book and Hellenistic astrology is like their first book. And I’m actually curious what that’s gonna look like in 10 years where you have a generation of astrologers where they’re starting with some of the older texts rather than the newer ones. And there’s some ways in which it’s gonna be both positive and negative. Because I think there’s some good things from modern astrology—especially counseling dynamics and things like that, that I appreciate that had been developed so well and refined over the past few decades—that I wonder if you will lose if you start with traditional right from the start. But it’ll definitely be interesting to see how that goes.

SM: You guys have discussed this before, though. The amount of resources that are available now for new astrologers is unprecedented. I mean, there’s your book, there’s Austin’s book. Kelly’s gonna have a book pretty soon, right?

AC: She better.

SM: I mean, just the ability to sit down with Hellenistic Astrology or Demetra George’s book or whatnot—when I first started I had The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, which is the biggest misnomer ever, but, I mean, it got me started on the path. I don’t know, I hesitate to say this, but this is kind of like John Frawley, where he’s like The Real Astrology; we don’t want to alienate anybody with that. But that’s how I felt when I discovered the traditional. I mean, I think from my perspective—and this is coming from I’m a Saturn in Virgo, like all you guys here, like Kelly and Austin. To me, the techniques are really important, and the traditional system is a beautiful symmetry and an ability to have very accurate, technical application. But like Chris has said the counseling techniques are super important and the delivery method from the modern system is very important to maintain and to retain because we need to learn how to communicate these ideas in a way that is constructive and empowering, while also acknowledging the fact that the thing I understood better from traditional astrology is that sometimes there’s just stuff that happens that is out of our control and we have to endure as well.

KS: And that idea is not exclusive to traditional astrology, although it is within the astrological field. When you go outside astrology and you’re in the psychological fields or some of the psychotherapeutic fields, they have that understanding that bad things happen to good people and there’s sometimes isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason for it. And so, it’s always been interesting to me that there’s a huge part of astrology that just about anybody can have anything when that doesn’t correlate with one’s real-life experience. And that was one of my pulls, if you like, towards traditional astrology; it seemed to be a little bit more of an accurate reflection of real life in that sense. I know that’s a big topic and people can end up having strong arguments about it.

CB: Right.

KS: But just from my own personal take that was a real draw for me.

SM: And did any of you have any major chart placements that changed, too? ‘Cause we all go through the existential crisis of the transition to whole sign house. I personally had an 11th house Sun that transitioned to a 12th house Sun, and that was a lot to process.

CB: Yeah. Although I don’t want to get too hung up on this ‘cause I know this is a major recurring topic that I come back to on the podcast. So I don’t want to focus on it too much just because we had so much to cover in terms of the conference. One traditional thing I did want to mention in terms of UAC that did happen, somebody pointed out in our podcast event, during the Q&A, that there weren’t a lot of talks on horary. And they were surprised because of their background in horary and they expected there to be more. And at the time I didn’t really know how to answer that ‘cause I hadn’t thought about it or noticed, and it turned out that there was really only like maybe one horary talk that was on the list. But I think that ended up being an accident, it wasn’t deliberate. But there were some astrologers that were there, where horary was their primary thing, but they just chose not to give talks on horary, like Lee Lehman or Ryhan Butler. Or there were some astrologers who were supposed to talk but didn’t end up attending, like Deborah Houlding, who probably would have given a talk on a horary, I assume, if she had been able to make it to the conference, but she had to cancel. So it was like an accident rather than something deliberate.

AC: That makes more sense. I was really surprised to hear that. I was like, “But Lee’s here, and Eve Dembowski is here, and Ryhan’s here, and Wade is here.”

KS: Yeah.

AC: I was like the ‘horary crew’ was present.

KS: They were represented.

CB: Yeah.

KS: Yeah, I agree, ‘cause I reflected on this after. And I actually spoke to Eve and Lee about this, and they just said either for whatever reasons they weren’t currently in the current roster of talks. They didn’t have something on horary, or they submitted two or three talks—which is what you usually have to do—and the horary ones weren’t the ones that were selected. And having been involved in speaker selection a little bit for this conference particularly, it’s not always the topic that is the issue. In this case, obviously there wasn’t a clash, but sometimes it’s like one topic just fits better than the other. So I agree. I don’t think it was deliberate. I think there’s four or five different factors that go into do we end up with six talks on this topic, or do we end up with no talks on that topic.

CB: Yeah, totally. So that actually provides a useful transition though into lectures. I didn’t actually get to attend that many lectures because I actually spent most of the week or a good chunk of the week either giving my own lectures or attending Leisa’s or getting ready for the podcast event, or I also did a ton of interviews. I ended up doing something like 20 interviews or something like that that I posted on my YouTube channel, and I’ll put a link in the description page for this episode. But as a result of that I didn’t get to attend as many talks as I would have liked to. So I was curious, if you guys attended some talks, what were your favorite ones that you remembered from the conference?

AC: I mean, I was in a similar boat to you—I wasn’t quite as busy—but I also prioritized getting drunk with lecturers over attending lectures.

CB: Right.

KS: That was just a personal preference, Austin?

AC: Well, you sit down and get into it with people, it’s really interesting. I like that felt dialogue. One of the lectures that I went to that I liked and I think is also significant was a lecture by Kenneth—oh, my God, I’m blanking on Ken’s last name. Kenneth, who’s our friend, who we’ve known forever.

CB: Kenneth Miller.

AC: Yeah, Kenneth Miller.

KS: Miller? Oh, the “Curry in the Feta.”

AC: So it was like the least-attended lecture ever, he should have had more people.

CB: Yeah, that was at the same time as mine. Otherwise, I would have been there.

AC: Oh, and he was funny. He was like, “So thank you for coming. Sorry you got turned away from Chris’ lecture. I’m gonna try to make sure you have a good experience.” But he gave a very important talk as far as the timeline of astrology and our history goes. He basically had a very strong case against Pingree’s contention that the contents of the Yavanajataka tell us that astrology started in the Eastern Mediterranean and went to India—where it encountered some pre-existing elements—but the bulk of it when Eastern Mediterranean to the East, etc., etc., and it’s an important linkage in the transmission story. And Kenneth really opened that up. He opened that up for debate and made a very strong case against it. It was an academic lecture, but the implications are very important, right? Like that’s talking about changing the way we tell the story of astrology. And I felt like there were a number of what seemed like small things that we will look back on and say, “Oh, that was really significant.” When I was thinking about that I was reflecting on various things that happened. I thought about what we—you, Chris, you, Kelly, and me—said about the Full Moon which occurred during UAC.

KS: Yeah, the entire Sag Moon.

CB: In Sag.

AC: Yeah, where both the Sun and Moon were tightly conjunct very important stars, royal stars, Antares and Aldebaran. They’re fixed stars, Fixed stars have a staying power the planets don’t, and events that take place during that time may have more of an impact on the future than they might seem.

KS: Yeah.

SM: And what a title. That’s the way to title a lecture.

KS: “There’s Curry in My Feta” or “Curry in My Feta?”

SM: “Why Is There Curry in My Feta?”

CB: It was titled, “There’s Curry in My Feta! The Development of Horoscopic Astrology in India and Egypt.”

KS: And that’s classic Kenneth actually. He’s often a very entertaining presenter. When I think of some of the smartest people I know in astrology today, I think of Chris and I think of Kenneth.

AC: Thanks, Kelly.

KS: I mean, Austin, I don’t know, have you seen Kenneth’s library? I feel like if anybody needs to reference anything, just call Kenneth, he’s got the book. Maybe three copies, different copies.

AC: And so, Chris, I know you weren’t able to attend because you were lecturing, but Kenneth said that he’s putting all that together into an academic paper, so that should be out soon. So history nerds, such as yourself, should be able to review the various claims and disputes and perhaps have your perspective changed or at least enriched on that particular linkage.

CB: Yeah, I mean, Kenneth is actually one of the few interviews that I got to do. So I did a short, 10-minute video with him about his lecture topic at UAC which is on my YouTube channel, and I’m hoping to do a longer podcast with him about that. Because I’ve done a couple of episodes already about the transmission of Hellenistic astrology to India and just establishing that some sort of transmission took place, but it is interesting now hearing the pushback and the counter-argument of saying maybe that argument was taking it too far and maybe there’s more astrology that was original or indigenous to India that’s been acknowledged. And I don’t know if I’m gonna agree with every point that Kenneth makes, but he’s making some good points in terms of pushing back and having a more balanced view of the interactions between India and the West in that timeframe in terms of thee astrology.

AC: Yeah, and I think that’s key not only for that particular linkage, but in general I’m thinking about history and transmission. I think there’s a lot more dialogue than our current story entails, that those exchanges are less unidirectional than they’re currently framed.

KS: There were a couple of lectures—can I throw a couple of shoutouts? ‘Cause there were two that I really enjoyed. One I’d never heard of before and I was just interested in the topic, and one, who is on this call right now, Austin, who I actually obviously know, but had never heard you really give a lecture before. So Michael Ofek’s talk on the Hellenistic phases of the Moon or Hellenistic features of the Moon was super interesting. And he’s from Israel, so it was just amazing to have that international connection. I was so excited when I met him in the lift, I just accosted him, like people do at conferences, and I’m like, “Oh, my God! And you’re doing Hellenistic astrology. Where are you studying?” And he’s like, “Just from the original source texts.” I’m like, “Great, I’m totally going to come to your lecture,” and that was great. So I only got to catch one of his lectures live, but I’ve got the recording of the other one which was on light.

CB: Yeah, and everybody was raving about the light one. And that was actually an episode I did with him a year ago on the podcast, and it was like one of the best episodes of the podcast. That was a surprise because I didn’t really know where it was gonna go when we went into it, but it ended up being a super interesting discussion. And I was glad Michael was able to make it to the conference and that his lectures seemed to be one of the big ones that a lot of people were recommending.

AC: Yeah, I missed those, but I did get drunk with him.

KS: See, that’s the thing, you got the private, after-hours lecture. But, Austin, I do need to commend you because your talk—I’ve already read your book—I had a learning experience as a result of attending your lecture on multiple levels. I came to understand the importance of hearing a teacher that you respect present their material in a structured format. Between having read parts of your book and then hearing you present it, it just helped pull a lot of decanic work together for me. And there was some stuff of course in your lecture that isn’t in the book which is always extra juicy. And one of the big takeaways that I got from your talk is actually something that I can use in a session, which is telling people about their ‘mutant superpowers’.

SM: Austin gave me a mutant superpower reading in the lobby. I don’t even know if I can—


KS: If it was after drinking—


KS: —maybe not.

SM: He was talking about the terms of the exalted Moon in Taurus. Do you recall this?

AC: Mm, well the Moon has no terms. Oh, you mean just terms, not in a technical sense. I don’t remember. But, yeah, what Kelly’s referencing is one of the ways that you can use decanic dignity is that if a planet is in a decan that it owns, it doesn’t seem to have a global effect like a planet being in a sign that it owns, but it does bestow great dignity in a very specific regard where it’s really good at just that one thing. That’s a type of dignity, but it’s a specific rather than a global dignity, if that makes sense. And so, I refer to that as like some planets have mutant superpowers. They may not be generally fortuitous for the planet’s significations but they’ve got this one thing. One of my favorite examples is Venus in the third decan of Aries, which it rules. Venus in Aries is its detriment etc., etc. And so, you can see this in the charts of Jack Nicholson and Marilyn Monroe where their love lives are not stable at all, whereas Venus, archetypally, when it has a lot of dignity there’s a smoothing out of relationships. And I think Jack Nicholson’s been married like six times, and Marilyn Monroe’s a legend.

KS: You could throw Elizabeth Taylor into that example, who has Venus in Aries.

AC: Okay. But with those people, with Jack Nicholson and Monroe, they’re incredibly charismatic. And that’s what Venus and the third decan of Aries does, it gives the person crazy performative charisma; it just doesn’t do any of the other Venus things necessarily. And so, that’s what I mean by like the ‘mutant superpower’ dignity.

KS: Which I thought was a really cool thing. Because when you’re doing client work, to be able to say something fairly specific is fantastic. So, yeah, I really liked that. I mean, there were a number of things from your lecture that I liked, but it was fantastic. So basically if you liked Austin’s book, get the lecture ‘cause you’ll just get even more.

CB: Yeah, and I was really jealous that you got to do that lecture, Austin, ‘cause that was a lecture that you’ve done enough times that you had it down to a ‘T’; you like perfected that lecture. And you went into the conference feeling pretty relaxed ‘cause you just had to do that like one lecture that you already knew from the back of your hand or whatever.

AC: Yeah, I can talk about decans. Yeah, I was much more nervous about our live event than I was about my lecture. I was very chill. I mean, there’s always nerves and adrenaline in the five minutes before you’re gonna start talking, but, yeah, I was much more nervous about our podcast event.

CB: Yeah, once we finished that, and that was over, I was able to relax a lot more than I was in the first half of the conference ‘cause everything built up to that. And there were all these different things we had to pass along way in terms of lectures that I had to get out of the way, and then finally that event. Just ‘cause we didn’t plan it out as much as we could have, we just wanted to let the discussion flow, and we didn’t know how many people were gonna attend. So I actually paid a lot of money to put like a little postcard-sized version of the Planet Watcher Calendar as inserts into everybody’s bag that had an invitation and an ad for the podcast and an invitation for everybody to attend the live event. I found out that only a few hundred of those got in bags. Some sort of snafu happened and a bunch of them didn’t end up getting into bags ‘cause they sent them back to me, and there’s like way more than there should be that were leftover, which means that only 3- or 400 got used. So we had a really good attendance at the podcast event that night. There were like 150 or 200 people, but actually we were expecting a lot more, and I think part of the reason that they didn’t ‘cause the invitations didn’t make it out. So that kind of sucks but it was also still a really well-attended event.

AC: It was a great crowd. Some of you are probably listening. Thank you so much. It was awesome. I feel like everybody made a ton of space for us to do our thing. It was great.

KS: It was really heartwarming actually. It was a little overwhelming in a good way. I’m the same, Austin. I still had a talk to give. My final talk wasn’t till Sunday morning, and I was so relaxed about that. But it was amazing. People clapped. I was like, wow.

CB: Right.

KS: This is a very warm audience.

AC: It was also nice to make jokes—

KS: That’s true.

AC: —and then if they were funny, to hear people laugh. I can get a laugh out of Kelly fairly regularly. It’s less with you, Chris. But the jokes are primarily for the people who are listening—

CB: Right.

AC: —the two of you being the only two people who are listening to me talk. And so, it was like, oh, yeah, this is the other side of the dialogue that I imagined that I’m having—

KS: It is a dialogue.

AC: —and it’s actually happening.

CB: Yeah, and actually the positive side of that is I had been so nervous in the lead-up to it—I was sending out so many invitations—that it was just going to be a packed room, and we were gonna have to turn people away, and there’d be a lot of people there that weren’t even listeners but we’re just exposed for the first time. But what ended up happening is we had a core group of like 150 to 200 people that were actually like regular listeners of the podcast, and I think that made a huge difference in a positive way in just having a very coherent event where there were a lot of good feelings. And it was definitely like a new milestone in terms of what we’ve been doing over the past few years.

KS: And then speaking of conferences planting seeds.

CB: Yeah, so we were so excited after that event, and it went so well, that we actually started discussions right after about maybe doing our own little mini-podcast event to actually meet up with people and do sort of an intensive or a retreat; there’s different terms for it. I think it’s tricky depending on what sort of term you would use, but we are kicking around the idea of having people fly out to Denver for some sort of mini-conference. And if there are podcast listeners that would be interested in attending some of that or would be willing to attend something like that, let us know and give us some feedback ‘cause we’re seriously considering doing something within the next year or so. So it would be good to hear if that would be something people would be interested in actually attending.

AC: Yeah, and structural feedback as well. ‘Cause we were talking and thinking about if we did something like that what would it look like. And so, I’m gonna throw an idea I had out there so that people can respond. I was thinking like maybe the three of us would do a session where we were all talking together, and then one of us would present and another would present and then the third would present, and then we’d bring it back in and have sort of a discussion about all the discussions together again at the end of the day. And there are variants of that.

CB: And this would be in separate rooms.

AC: Well, that was my initial thought, but I think it would actually be better for us to listen to each other and have feedback and get sparked and be able to talk about what everybody presented at the end of the day.

CB: Right.

AC: And it would also only require one room rather than renting out a complex.

CB: Yeah, and I think that would work the best. ‘Cause Demetra and Ben Dykes and I did that at the first AFA Traditional Conference in 2011, and we were able to create our own entire conference with just the three of us, and that worked out really well with a single hundred-person audience. And so, I sort of had something like that in mind as well for this. That way people don’t have to have that issue, like you run into at UAC, where there’s like, what, 13-15 tracks going at the same time, and you have a legitimate crisis about choosing between like five different lectures that you want to see at once—

KS: We’ll take that problem away from you.

CB: —and having to choose one of them. So, yeah, people, give us feedback on what you think about that and we might have an announcement here before too long. In terms of other lectures—‘cause I was trying to transition into that—obviously we can’t cover all of the amazing lectures that we saw. I did want to mention Leisa Schaim gave an amazing lecture on electional astrology, which was like the basics of choosing electional charts. It’s just what she does for us each month on the forecast episodes, so I definitely recommend checking that out. For all of the lectures, they just announced the other day that they’re all available now for sale on the UAC website. So I think each lecture recording costs like $15 or something like that depending on which one you want. But you can find out more information about that on the website.

KS: I think it’s UACAstrology.com.

CB: What is it? UnitedAstrologyConference.com?

KS: Yeah.

CB: Okay, yeah, UACAstrology.com. Any other lectures, really quickly, that you guys would recommend as like your favorite lectures from the conference?

SM: I wanted to add that the quality of the lectures was ridiculously high. And case in point, even the lunch lectures, where you’ve got people who I don’t know if they were a secondary consideration or whatnot for the conference, but I attended a lecture by my friend Adam Elenbaas on “The Secret Symbolism of the 5th House,” which actually was a sneaky title. And he was teaching us about angular triads and the movement with those in the primary and secondary motion. So even a lunch lecture, where you’ve got maybe a newer astrologer or somebody—that I don’t know if they got like the score or whatnot—were of ridiculously high quality, and I think that’s probably unique to UAC as well.

CB: Yeah, I heard a lot of really great things about the lunchtime lectures. ‘Cause with that it’s more just overflow. There were so many astrologers from around the world applying to speak—and there were limited slots—that they couldn’t get everybody in on the main tracks, but then they were able to open up some additional slots during lunchtime. And I heard a lot of those lectures were not only really good, but they were really well-attended as well, which was great to hear.

KS: Yeah, I heard a lecture by Bernadette Brady, which was fantastic, on fixed stars. So I thought that was really good.

CB: Okay.

KS: Yeah, she made one really interesting point about how the difference between planets and fixed stars is that with fixed stars, you can’t really remediate them; the power is a little bit more absolute. And some of that material I’d heard from her before, but there were some new points, so that was another good one. And I heard very good things about Rob Hand and Richard Tarnas’ lectures.

SM: That was a good one, “Fate, Free Will and Contemplation.”

KS: Which lecturer gave that talk, sorry?

SM: He was talking—

CB: Rob Hand.

SM: —the difference between heimarmene, ananke, and pronoia and the three different types of fate.

AC: Nice.

SM: And he had all these algebraic equations to go along with how dimensional reality works, and that was pretty amazing. The ‘fate and free will’, that one blew my mind, just being able to think about it in a different way: heimarmene being the fate that you maybe are born into, that you don’t have a ton of control over; ananke being the fate that you create through perhaps your ignorance; and the pronoia being the one that you have a little bit more control over with your knowledge base and being able to kind of know where you’re headed and reduce that ‘ananke’ direction. I mean, that’s my very oversimplified understanding of it.

CB: And you attended Rob’s pre-conference workshop as well, right, Spencer?

SM: I did, yeah. And I was fortunate enough to have the master himself use my chart as an example; it was difficult chart placements. So he was kind of talking a lot about how to deal with difficult chart placements, and he talked a lot about fate and free will and contemplation within that discussion as well. And my favorite Rob Hand story—I just have one little thing I need to add about Rob Hand. It took me like three times to get my book signed; he’d always be in the middle of talking or something. When he finally did, he shook my hand and he was, “You have now shaken ‘the hand of Hand’.” I thought, “That’s gonna be burned into my memory for a long time.”

AC: Touched by the Hand.

SM: Yeah, exactly.

CB: And you were having like crazy Jupiter transits during the entire conference, and you seemed to just have a lot of really lucky experiences. Everything sort of fell into place for you starting with the scholarship and winning the AFAN scholarship to attend the conference.

SM: Yeah, I was kind of the completing piece to the Grand Water Trine with Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces and Scorpio, and my Sun and Mercury were getting that ‘Grand Water Trine’ energy.

CB: ‘Cause the Sun is the ruler of your ascendant, and it’s at 15 Cancer—

SM: That’s right.

CB: —and Jupiter was trining that from 15-ish Scorpio, and Neptune was around 15-16 Pisces.

SM: Yeah, I felt like I was—I used the word the ‘belle of the ball’, ‘cause I was in the right place at the right time, and it was a very special experience for me. We talked about this in your workshop a little bit, too. My time-lord of the year is Mercury, and that was getting a nice trine from all of those as well during the conference. One experience after another—getting to have my chart read by Rob Hand—I wanted to give Austin a shoutout too ‘cause he signed the first copy of his book.

CB: Oh, yeah, you actually got the very first signed copy.

SM: The very first signed copy.

AC: That was a great moment.

SM: Yeah.

CB: ‘Cause you hadn’t seen it yet.

AC: I got to the conference, and Kait and I took showers and took a deep breath and got ready, and my first encounter with the conference was the ice cream social, which took place after the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, it was also a bourbon social. And so, I got down there, and I was like, “Oh, boy, everybody is here.” And within I think the first 10 minutes, Spencer came up, introduced himself and said, “Hey, would you sign this book?” and it was the first copy of The Celestial Art which I had actually ever seen in person; it was the first one that I had ever touched. And so, that was really exciting—just happening in that first 15 minutes—to be able to see it and to sign it. It was one of the several magical moments that occurred at UAC for me.

CB: Right, ‘cause your book actually came out at UAC. There was a bookstore in the trade show, and it was like the biggest astrology bookstore that anybody’s ever seen with like 2,000 titles or something crazy like that. And your book, Austin, your publisher shipped a bunch of copies, and it literally just came off the press right before the conference. And what did they send? Like 80 copies there and most of them were sold out by the end?

AC: Yeah, I think maybe they were like 10-ish left over, but it did really well. That project went through some delays and this and that. And I won’t claim that those delays were intentional because I’m super psychic, but I will say that it was the perfect place for it to be born, to make its first appearance, in addition to it being UAC. As I’ve talked about, I encountered a sea change in astrologers’ attitudes towards astrological magic. People were just super into it, super curious in a way that I’d never seen before. And so, it was great that the book landed in that moment in that place.

CB: Right. And it’s a compilation of essays on astrological magic. And actually we’re gonna do an interview about it on the next episode, so we’ll talk more about that. Yeah, but that was amazing seeing your book come out and being in the bookstore. I sent like a hundred copies of my book to the conference, which was very ambitious, but I think I sold 60 or 70 which I was pretty happy with. Demetra George announced her new book. So it’s gonna be a two-volume series on Hellenistic astrology. And they just announced a few days ago that the first volume is available for pre-order now, and they’ll be releasing it sometime in the next few months, so that’s really exciting. The bookstore itself was just amazing and there were just so many titles there. I think that was one of the highlights of the conference for many people.

SM: I have one thing to add about Demetra’s book. I pre-ordered it this week.

AC: As did I.

SM: If you pre-order it, your heart might jump a little bit when you see the actual price of it come across the screen, but that’s in New Zealand dollars. So you’ll realize later that your card has not been charged 92 dollars for her book, but it was something more along 50 or 60.

AC: I think it’s like 49.99.

KS: American.

AC: American, yeah.

KS: Which actually is 70 or 80 dollars in Australian and Canadian dollars.

CB: Yeah.

KS: So it’s a big investment but it’s totally worth it.

CB: Yeah, it’s gonna be worth it, I’ve seen parts of the book and it’s amazing. It’s gonna be an amazing compliment to my book. And she’s gonna go into a lot of the areas that I could only briefly touch on with so much more depth that I’m really, really excited about it. So it’s actually being published by Aaron Cheak of Rubedo Press. Aaron was actually the editor of my book, so I’m actually super excited that he’s taken over that project, and I think he’s gonna do a great job. So we’ll do a follow-up on that at some point.

KS: Where are we on our conference chat checklist?

CB: So bringing things back, I don’t think we’re gonna get through highlighting other lectures. I did want to say one of the only major drawbacks of the conference that people noted was that there was some issue with the room sizes. A lot of the lectures were overflowing to the point where they actually had to turn people away, and people couldn’t get into the rooms because there were either too many people in the rooms or some of the rooms were too small. And that did create some major issues. ‘Cause it wasn’t just like once or twice, but there were a lot of lectures that were like that it seemed.

KS: Yeah, there were a lot. I know, Chris, you and I both spoke in time slots immediately after each other on Friday morning. You were at the 9:00 AM and I was the 11:30 or whatever it was.

CB: Right.

KS: And there were a lot of people in my time slot, at 11:00 AM. We had to turn about 20 people away from my lecture. And there were people that I found out after that actually got turned away from six different lectures in that time slot, which just means there was obviously a bit of a planning problem around size and room size and attendees, I guess.

CB: Right. And I honestly have no idea what happened with that. I’ve heard a lot of speculations maybe there were some people who were more of a draw—especially some younger astrologers, like us, that may have been more of a draw—that they didn’t anticipate and other people that were more established that didn’t draw as many people, and so they were put in the wrong rooms. This was the first time they had a scheduling app where people could go on the website and RSVP which lectures they planned to attend. The conference organizers though had to establish the rooms two years before the event and as a result of that weren’t able to incorporate that data that was up to date showing that some lectures were gonna be really well-attended and that some of those people might need bigger rooms. They didn’t or weren’t able to make some of those last-minute changes, and so that might be something to take into account or to try to utilize with new technology in the future.

One of the things I was always worried about with UAC for a few years now was the electional chart they picked for it that had this really prominent applying Venus-Saturn opposition. And in the original electional chart, I was actually more worried about that because the electional chart was supposed to have Libra rising, so that Venus was gonna be the ruler of the ascendant and then was gonna be applying to that opposition with Saturn. And that didn’t end up being the case because the time was changed somewhere very late in the process to be like Sagittarius rising or something like that, but the Venus-Saturn opposition was still there. And ultimately I ended up feeling like that ‘lecture room’ situation might have been part of not a side effect, but sort of connected with that Venus-Saturn opposition. There were some people that really did have a hard time, where they came to the conference to see specific lectures or lecturers, but then got to the room and then got turned away because the lecture room was just packed. And it was a fire hazard. It was always overflowing so they’d have to go somewhere else.

SM: I think that happened with Demetra’s. I mean, I guess it just speaks to traditional revival, too. Because I know that I went to both of Demetra George’s talks and they were flowing out into the hallway, and Austin’s, too. I think that that track in particular was very well-attended.

CB: Yeah. And my master of the nativity—go ahead, Austin.

AC: Oh, I was just saying definitely.

CB: Yeah, definitely the traditional talks were very well-attended. And my first talk on the master of the nativity or the overall ruler of the chart was standing-room-only. But even some of the modern talks—like I went to Richard Tarnas’ first talk and that was in what I thought was a surprisingly small room, and it was just standing-room-only; and I ended up actually sitting on the floor up front with a group of people. So even some people that I would otherwise expect to be in pretty big rooms weren’t necessarily, and I still don’t fully understand what happened with that.

AC: So I want to just speak to that Venus-Saturn opposition because I was also nervous about that. I was like, “Oh, God. It’s gonna be emotionally-cramped, and it’s just gonna feel like work the whole time. I’m gonna hate it and I’m gonna have to behave.” But anyway, it was not my experience. Although, Chris and Kelly, both of you reported having a similar experience to me, which was a lot of tension and stress sort of leading up to the first several days of the conference up to our live podcast and then a release from that. And so, for us that was pinned to an event, but that was also when the Venus-Saturn opposition was basically perfect. And what’s interesting is that after Venus started departing from the opposition to Saturn, it started sliding into a lovely Grand Water Trine with Jupiter and Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces, and that’s very much like tension and containment into release and flow. And so, I wonder if other people had a similar sort of experiential curve.

SM: Was that Saturday night when that was exact?

CB: Yeah. Well, the 26th was the podcast event, and I think the Venus-Saturn opposition was exact.

SM: I mean, my personal experience of that was sitting in the AFAN suite after hours and constantly watching the clock and wanting to party with everyone and talk more and then being like, “Oh, sorry. I gotta go catch my train.” Just having the responsibilities versus the enjoyment; that was what happened for me.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And that was really interesting to me seeing you struggling with that as a first-time conference-goer, or seeing other people have to balance between the desire, on the one hand, to be there for the educational component of the lectures, which start early in the morning at 9:00 AM, versus wanting to stay up each night and socialize versus wanting to get some sleep that night so you don’t feel like a wreck the next day. And there were some people who did that really well. I had this really cool meeting with Gaye Alkan, and she was really dedicated. She was like, “I’m here primarily to learn.” And so, she was really good about not staying up too late and getting up each morning, going to those four lectures a day, right in a row. Plus, I think she did some lunch lectures and some pre- and post-conference workshops and stuff like that, And eventually later in the conference she was hanging out a little bit more at night, but did a pretty good job balancing what she was there to accomplish in terms of the educational component, whereas some of us I think were staying up pretty late and were not doing as well by the end of the conference.

KS: Certainly after the Venus-Saturn—sorry, Austin.

AC: I think Kait and I shut it down at least four nights. I was good the nights before I had to perform; like I didn’t shut it down the night before my lecture. But I think we were the last two standing, at least three or four nights.

SM: I think Monday night got a little cray. That was the night before the Full Moon, and the morning, the next day.

AC: Yeah.

SM: You could definitely feel people going off the rails on that evening.

CB: Yeah, ‘cause there’s always this sense of desperation once it starts getting later in the conference and you realize that things are winding down, and people start staying up later and later.

KS: Yeah, that’s happened to us, too, Chris and Austin, going back to NORWAC, which feels like forever ago. I mean, that was the other thing for me just with you guys—this is the first time the three of us have all been at a conference since we started doing the podcast. I know I’ve seen each of you individually. Like when you’re coming to a conference you have to have a bit of a plan: On what nights am I gonna stay up late? On what nights am I gonna crash early? So you kind of have to know going in. Because once you get there, it is a vortex and you can easily get pulled into other scenarios or other situations, unless you’ve got a little bit of maybe your own inner Saturn saying, “Look, however you want to do this thing now, come with me or I’ll meet you after.” But how you manage yourself while you’re there is a bit of a skill, I think.

SM: I think, Chris, even you mentioned that after a few nights of only getting four or five hours of sleep that if you actually get eight hours of sleep, you feel even worse.

CB: Right.

SM: So I think your body almost adjusts a little bit. I mean, you do get a little punchy by the fourth or fifth day of that, but I think your body does adjust a little bit and you get sort of in the groove and you get used to it.

CB: Yeah, and there’s like an energy that’s coming off of the crowd. I don’t know how to explain that.

SM: Prana. Prana from the universe, just channeling.

CB: It’s like the intellectual engagement—I don’t know what it is, but there’s definitely something there that kind of pushes you through and animates you more than you would be otherwise. But at the same time what’s also funny is because everybody’s so sleep-deprived, nobody’s exactly functioning in the way that they might normally, which is an interesting sort of side effect that I always forget about until you’re there in the middle of it. Anyway, so other things, lecture things, Kelly, you gave two lectures, right?

KS: I did. I gave a talk on Friday morning called “Special Signatures in the Natal Chart,” which was a look at a combination of traditional ideas to do with strengths and placement and phase and things to do with planets. So basically people got a takeaway of a bit of a checklist about how to organize what is really significant in a chart. And I loved that I used cake as a metaphor in mine, which, Austin, you also did, too. Our layer cakes looked a little different but we both used the same idea.

AC: Yeah, I believe mine was the layer cake of capitalist exploitation.

KS: And mine was just literally a rainbow-colored cake that was layered, so that was fun. And actually I got some really good feedback about that talk on Friday morning, which was quite flattering really. And these were the largest-sized lectures that I’ve ever given. I’ve done talks to larger groups before, conference lectures, it was certainly larger than I expected to be speaking to. Although I knew, ‘cause the app told me. I had enough handouts for everyone on Friday. So that was really fun. There was a lot of energy and that’s just so enlivening. And then Sunday morning I did a talk on aspects and activation; so really just a deep dive with some traditional ideas about where the theory of aspects comes from and how they can really change the way we work with aspects in the chart. So very kind of just practical, hands-on stuff, but it was great. And, look, I had a lecture on Friday, a podcast event Saturday night, and then my last lecture on Sunday.

CB: Wow.

KS: But then I was done, and then I did feel that Venus-Saturn kept me together, and I got my sleep and did my work and then major social mode, which was great.

CB: Yeah, and then you got to relax by the end, over the last few days.

KS: Yes, very relaxed on the last few nights. Unfortunately, I kept Kaitlin and Austin company too late in the bar.

AC: You’re welcome.

KS: And Chris, you did two talks. You mentioned your master of nativity, but you did a second one as well.

CB: Yeah, so I did the pre-conference stuff with ISAR, and then I did my first talk on Friday, which was on the master of the nativity or the overall ruler of the chart, which is something I researched because somebody paid me. Doctor H of Regulus Astrology actually paid me to do this research project back in 2011 where I reviewed every Hellenistic and every ancient text for the first thousand years of astrology to find any references to this mysterious concept about the overall ruler of the chart that I could find. And I did this whole write-up back then in 2011 but I never got it together to publish it. And it ended up being too much to put in my book, so I just saved it, and this was the first time that I was unveiling some of that research. Yeah, and it was good finally giving that talk and I’m looking forward to getting that material out there more in the future.

So there was that talk, and then I gave another talk towards the end of the conference on the origins of the house division debate in ancient astrology and how and why there came to be all these different forms of house division and what we know about the early history of house division at this point. And I was actually reminded at some point during the conference why, two years ago, I even submitted that talk. Because one of the things that’s happening is—I never anticipated this, but it’s been kind of surprising—that due to the revival and the sudden popularity of whole sign houses over the past years, where it’s becoming so popular, there’s some pushback on that within the traditional community from those who prefer quadrant houses. And one of the things that’s happening, kind of like a rumor that’s going around, is that somehow whole sign houses was only invented in the past 20 years and it didn’t exist as a major form of house division in ancient astrology. So that was one of the reasons I decided to give that lecture, to outline the evidence for all of the different forms of house division in ancient astrology and what we actually know today; that way, the discussion can kind of proceed from there. So that was my Sunday talk, and then I did a post-conference workshop a few days later on annual profections.

KS: That’s right. You weren’t done yet after that.

CB: Yeah, I didn’t finish until Wednesday, and then that was like a full-day, post-conference workshop. And then finally I left the next day and flew to Toronto for a three-day workshop, which was kind of a lot and I was just beat by then. I think you came and saw me at the end of that weekend, Kelly, on Sunday, and I was just dead at that point.

KS: You were definitely holding it together, even though I kept feeding your coffee to keep the life coming through. Yeah, that’s a long trip, a lot of output.

CB: Yeah, it was huge and hugely draining, but it was definitely worth it. And it was nice visiting Toronto after that and visiting Canada for the first time on business and giving a talk for that very lovely local astrology group, which is Astrology Toronto.

KS: Yeah, you had a really good-sized group, I thought. The room was full, basically.

CB: Yeah, definitely. So I will think twice about doing an intensive immediately after something as intense as UAC next time, but it was still a good trip.

KS: That’s fantastic.

CB: All right, other miscellaneous things that we need to touch on about the conference—so let’s see, I’m just looking through. Also, the other thing that happened is the Regulus Awards occurred on Sunday night, which was the night of the banquet. So with these conferences, or at least with this conference, there was like one big banquet night where everybody was in the same huge room for dinner, and then at the end of that each of the astrological organizations that sponsored the conference gave out one community service award. And actually our very own Leisa Schaim won the AFAN Service Award, or she was presented with the AFAN Service Award for her role as the presiding officer of AFAN over the past few years; and there were a few other people that won service awards. And then after that there were combined, community-wide, what’s called the Regulus Awards, which were for different categories like community service, discovery and innovation, education, professional image, and so on and so forth. So that was a big, big night as well.

KS: Yeah, it’s like, I don’t know, ‘astrologers prom’ but also ‘astrology Oscars’ as well all kind of rolled into one.

SM: I thought it was a beautiful moment though, the Lifetime Achievement Award winner Michael Erlewine slept through his Lifetime Achievement Award.

KS: That was hilarious.

CB: Right. So at the end of the night, that was like the final award given out, and he was actually there. He was there at dinner, but then he got tired ‘cause he’s like an older gentleman, and he left and went back to his room. And so, suddenly his phone started ringing at some point when he’s back in his room, and he’s being paged because they’re trying to give him the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Regulus Award, which is actually probably one of the biggest awards you can win in the astrological community. And he’s the creator of one of the first astrology software programs, which is Matrix Software. It’s actually ‘the’ first personal astrology program for the personal computer.

SM: In his defense, too, though, he had set up a booth on the trade floor and was basically giving readings away all day. So he was just working, so I think he earned that nap. And he’s done a lot of amazing things. He’s the creator of the All Music Guide as well. I have a past life in professional music and that’s a wonderful resource for musicians as well. So he’s done a lot of things. He’s very well-deserving of that award.

CB: Yeah. So I think he said later that he ended up being presented the award and he was the first winner to receive the award in his pajamas; because it was like Michael Lutin and Ray Merriman came up later that night to give him the award in his hotel room. And then, luckily, at the closing ceremony, he was able to make a few statements just thanking people for the award. So Michael Erlewine won the Lifetime Achievement Award. The other winners were Richard Smoot won the Community Service Award, David Cochrane won the Regulus Award for Discovery, Innovation, and Research, Steven Forrest won the award for Education, Tem Tarriktar won the Professional Image Award, which was awesome. I just interviewed him a few episodes ago, and that’s one of the reasons, just ‘cause he’s made such an amazing contribution to the community through his publication The Mountain Astrologer Magazine. And then the final one, Deborah Houlding won the Theory and Understanding Award; and that was the category where it was like a packed category with a bunch of traditional astrologers, which were me and Benjamin Dykes and James Holden and Adam Gainsburg. And nobody quite knew, because we were all competing for that award, who was gonna win, but that actually made a lot of sense and it was great that she ended up winning.

KS: Yeah, it’s kind of exciting to see who gets nominated, which is a huge honor anyway, in the same way that being nominated for an Oscar is a big thing. So congratulations, Chris, to you, and to Ben and to Adam. Has Adam been on the show with you, Chris? Have you done an episode with Adam Gainsburg?

CB: Not yet, but we talked at the conference about doing one about his work on observational astrology and reintegrating some of that sort of ancient skywatching component back into modern practice.

KS: Yeah, super interesting.

CB: Yeah, so it was weird. I was really nervous leading up to that because I didn’t know how it was gonna go. ‘Cause I thought that everybody in that category had done some major work and major achievements in the field, and so we were all gonna be splitting the vote in different ways, especially the traditional astrologers. On one hand, while there was a certain amount of disappointment, it was also like a huge amount of relief on my part when they didn’t call my name, because I was gonna feel bad if I got up there and won as the youngest person on that panel. I almost felt like people like Holden or Deborah Houlding or Benjamin Dykes have done so much more work than I have at this stage of my career and have accomplished so much that I was gonna basically just spend most the time accepting the award talking about their accomplishments if I had won anyways. So there was this sense of relief once that didn’t necessarily happen.

AC: That makes sense. Yeah, I mean, I would have been happy with any of those people winning. Like you said, it was a stacked category.

CB: Yeah. Holden’s been translating text since the 1950s, and he published the best book on the history of astrology, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, as well as all those translations. Ben Dykes, of course, I always joke is like a machine who was sent back from the future to translate all the existing ancient astrological texts from Arabic and Latin; and he’s published over 20 books at this point. Deborah Houlding’s Skyscript site is a huge resource for everybody, and she’s done an immeasurable amount of good work in the field in terms of promoting traditional astrology and astrology in general, in addition to her book on the houses, which is in just about every astrologer’s library. And then Adam Gainsburg of course has done some amazing work on, like I said, observational astrology and reconnecting astrologers with that observational or visual component. So, yeah, it was a very competitive category, but it was nice just to be considered in that group of amazing people.

SM: It was good company.

KS: Well-deserved.

CB: All right, so that was towards the end of the conference; I mean, there’s other stuff that occurred. Because we did the podcast event the same night, I didn’t end up attending until the very end the silent auction that was organized by the American Federation of Astrologers. But when I did get there I learned that Ben Dykes actually won through the silent auction a first edition copy of William Lilly, which I was really blown away by seeing that. And it’s much smaller than you think it’s gonna be. It’s actually a relatively small book even though it’s so thick. But Ben won a copy of Lilly at that silent auction and it seemed to be a pretty fun event.

KS: Yeah.

AC: Yeah, I—

KS: You go, Austin.

AC: Go ahead, Kelly.

KS: No, no, go.

AC: Okay, yeah, I was surprised. I was like, “I didn’t know that there was stuff that good on offer.” I don’t know, for some reason I just kind of assumed it would be dumb stuff that I don’t care about, but apparently that was not the case. After the podcast event, I went to the auction as well and I saw Ben, and Ben was like, “Check this out,” and it was like in this protective cage. And I was like, “Oh, I had no one idea.”

CB: Right. Yeah, I wish I had gotten a picture of him with that, but I was pretty surprised. And I think he didn’t end up actually putting down that much for it. If we had been there, I think, Austin, you said there would have been a bidding war.

AC: Oh, yeah.

CB: But Ben is lucky that we were not there at the time.

AC: I mean, speaking of deserving, who’s a better keeper for that edition than Ben?

CB: Sure, sure. Yeah, so that looked like it was a pretty well-attended and good event. And then other events that occurred—I didn’t go on the cruise. There was like some sort of cruise that occurred one night. Did any of you guys go on that?

KS: There was a huge cruise of like 600 people on Friday night. I opted not to go because I was still in the work phase of the conference for me and just didn’t want to be restricted by somebody else’s time schedule at that point.

SM: Yeah, I went to one of those suites, like the AFAN suite, instead of the cruise. That was fun for me getting to know all the young people and whatnot.

CB: Yeah, so AFAN had a suite that was open every night at the conference, where people could go up and meet and talk and have some drinks and refreshments and stuff, and that seemed to be a good place where people congregated each night. There was also an AYA suite. The Association for Young Astrologers had a small suite, and one night they hosted a party there to launch the second volume of their journal, which is titled The Ascendant. And that was a great event to be at, to see them carrying on that tradition which they actually started. The first volume was published under your tenure as president, right, Austin?

AC: Indeed. I played a very large role in making that happen, as did Jenn Zahrt and Nicolas Civitello. And both Jenn and Nick participated in creating that second volume as well, and it looks just fantastic. I thought we got lucky with the first one, and I didn’t know if they’d be able to replicate that success simply because some of it was just good fortune. But it’s just amazing. I was and am still quite impressed.

CB: Yeah, definitely. They’ve definitely improved and expanded on what they started with the first one. And it’s not only a great collection of articles in the second issue, or the second volume of the journal, but it also just looks really good. Like their design and layout skills have definitely improved. So you can find out more information about that at their website which is youngastrologers.org. And I think that they actually just recently in the past month also launched their new website which looks amazing, and they’ve just been promoting some of the stuff that you get with membership recently, which includes access to a whole library of different mp3 downloads of different lectures that astrologers have donated to the organization. So check that out at youngastrologers.org. Let’s see, what else happened? Were there any other nighttime events that I’m overlooking? There was the silent auction, the cruise. There was the opening ceremony.

SM: It was movie night.

CB: Yeah, did anyone go to that? I didn’t actually go to movie night. Like originally they were supposed to launch the Tarnas movie or some portion of it but that ended up being canceled. And I think the only movie that was shown was a movie about astrology in China, right?

SM: Yeah, I missed it.

CB: You missed it?

SM: Yeah.

CB: Did either of you two go?

KS: Mm-mm.

AC: No, I didn’t.

CB: Okay.

AC: I was way too interested in talking with people.

CB: Yeah, think that was the common thread amongst all of us. We’re probably almost the worst group then to pool what happened at the conference. And actually for that reason I would love it, if there’s any listeners that attended the conference that feel like it, to post in the comments section for this episode, on the podcast website, what your experience of the conference was on some of the questions and topics that we’re talking about here. I’d just love to hear from people about what their experience was and what happened and what their favorite parts of the conference were and other things like that, just so we can hear some more perspectives.

KS: One of the other things that I noticed at this conference that I really was so heartened by was the amount of people attending a conference for the first time. I spoke to the organizers towards the end of the conference and they did confirm that there was a much higher percentage of first-time conference attendees than usual. And then, anecdotally, I also had this experience that I felt like there are a lot more younger astrologers—so a lot more people in their 20s and 30s and 40s attending—and that was amazing to see. So that was really exciting; one of the things I really enjoyed. Did you guys observe anything similar or noticed anything different?

CB: Yeah.

AC: I observed the same. The Pluto in Scorpios have landed.

KS: That’s true.

CB: Yeah, there was a huge generational shift at this conference; it was really striking. There were a number of major astrologers who weren’t there or had to cancel or couldn’t attend at the last minute. Like Noel Tyl wasn’t there or didn’t attend. Alan Oken and other astrologers from that generation weren’t there. I saw some Facebook posts afterwards of people acknowledging or saying like, “This is probably gonna be my last UAC,” which was really kind of sad.

KS: Yeah, Chris Turner from Australia, who’s been heavily involved with astrology both in Australia and internationally for many, many years—I think she’s in her 70s now. I don’t want to misstate—because it’s so far and because she’s getting older—she knew this would be her last time coming to the States. So it was sort of bittersweet. We’re happy to have the newer people coming but can everyone just stay around a bit longer? But I guess that’s the transition really that’s happening.

CB: Yeah. So it’s like, on the one hand, you had that, and that feeling of so many astrologers or some older astrologers either not being able to make it or this being perhaps their last conference since the next one might not take place for four or six or however many years it might take. But then, on the one hand, there was obviously, at this conference more than any other conference, this huge showing of younger astrologers that were in their 20s and 30s and 40s, and that did seem to represent a huge shift in the astrological community that I hadn’t seen at any previous conference.

SM: I think that was the tiebreaker I used for lectures. If I had two lectures that I wanted to go see, which one was the older astrologer? Because you can’t take for granted that a Rob Hand or whoever—I don’t mean to single him out necessarily, but all these folks that are getting up into their 70s and 80s—that they may be able to attend the next time around, and I think you want to make sure that you catch them while you can. And I think that on some level we can’t take anybody for granted no matter the age, but I think that the odds start to get stacked in favor of going and seeing the older astrologers and paying those respects and whatnot.

CB: Yeah, and that was definitely heightened at the very end, during the closing ceremony. One of the things that they did before the official closing—when, again, everybody’s gathered together, who’s left at the conference, in the largest auditorium—there was a memorial for astrologers who have passed away since the last conference in 2012; and there were just a lot of names and a lot of notable astrologers, and there was something very, very touching about that. Yeah, that was a pretty intense moment.


SM: It was beautiful. And the Pluto talks—each generation getting to come up and talk about building bridges between the next—I thought that was really powerful, too, in Pluto fashion, just hearing from each generation. They each got up and did their talks at the closing ceremony, and I think that should be recognized, too.

CB: Sure. There was one person from each Pluto generation. So one person, I think it was Grace Morris, was from the Pluto in Cancer generation. There was one person who got up and said a few things about their generation of Pluto in Leo; Pluto in Virgo, Pluto in Leo. And then finally there was a Pluto in Scorpio. And, yeah, that was a really striking moment because it did give you this sense of continuity in the astrological tradition and this real sense of being part of an actual tradition or lineage that was being carried on as a result of everybody showing up there and being in person and having that shared moment.

SM: Indeed.

AC: Definitely. I’m really glad that the dead were honored, I think that’s very important. I personally think it could be a little bit more celebratory of life. I felt like the framing of it was, “Look at what we’ve lost.” And that’s a part of it, but many funerary traditions are more celebratory, and I’d like to celebrate who people were and what they did—that we got them, that the world got to have them for a while. Loss is important, too. But if I was the master of ceremonies. which is a responsibility I will hopefully never have, I’d like to raise a glass and a toast to the dead.

KS: That’s a beautiful point.

CB: Yeah, and it was just it was nice to see the people honored in any way at all.

AC: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

CB: But, yeah, actually I got there late, so I was sitting in the back by myself. And then, Kelly, you came over and sat with me, which I really appreciated. ‘Cause it was a super intense experience just seeing all these names flash by, and many of them you recognize as people in the community.

KS: Yeah, ‘cause there have been some younger astrologers that we have lost in the last six years, ‘cause they do this at each UAC. One of the feelings that ceremony or ritual memorialization, if you like, gave me was this sense of belonging, that we will acknowledge you even in that final passing, and it really helped tie together that feeling of community for me. ‘Cause it’s the night after the Regulus Awards, so I couldn’t help but think about the juxtaposition between celebrating people in the peak of their careers or later in their careers where they’ve been serving the community versus them still taking that time to acknowledge those who are no longer with us. So I did find that to be quite striking, and I did not think you should sit alone, Chris, through that.

CB: Yeah, well, I appreciated that. And, yeah, that was an intense moment. And then of course there was the generational thing with the Pluto generations and then finally just closing and wrapping everything up. And Laura Nalbandian—the primary conference organizer who put so much work into the conference—finally closing it down, that was huge, just because I’ve seen a little bit from behind the scenes how much went into getting this conference together and how the discussions for it go all the way back to after the last one ended in 2012. And then there was some acrimony between the organizations about scheduling the next one, and it was supposed to happen in 2016 but then it didn’t happen. And then the fact that they eventually pulled it together and got all the organizations to cooperate was nothing short of amazing. So, yeah, it was definitely a great event, and I think everybody overall had a pretty good time. It seemed like there was a very large contingent of astrologers from both Turkey and China and that was something that a few people noted there, or a lot of people noted there in terms of the international component of the conference. Did you guys notice that?

AC: Yeah, yeah. I, in particular, noticed the Turkish contingent. I think on the first or second night—I think it was the first night—I ended up speaking briefly with Baris Ilhan whose work I’ve followed online; I was really excited. She’s done a bunch of really interesting stuff about astrology during the Ottoman phase. We have the tendency to stop talking about astrology in the Middle East after the transmission finally gets astrology to Western Europe, but they continued doing astrology. And it’s been a little Eurocentric of the researchers to just be like, “Well, that’s not important anymore because now it’s in Europe,” but it was still happening during the Ottoman years. And so, I think she’s providing us with a very valuable contribution.

CB: Yeah, and the three main people, the three main teachers in Turkey—I mean, I know there’s many. But it seems like there’s three main schools that are really doing a lot to promote and all three of them were there giving talks: Baris Ilhan who you just mentioned; there was also Oner Doser; and then Hakan Kalkan who’s another great teacher from Turkey. And a lot of their students and associates came over, so it was cool to meet a lot of them in person. Are there other major things? I feel like there might be other major things that we’re forgetting or glossing over? Did you guys have any other major thoughts or takeaways from the conference?

SM: I mean, as a first-time person, just not to take it for granted. I think that it is a special thing to be able to get that amount of people who are on a similar wavelength together, and it doesn’t happen all the time. And it really is very important to get face to face with I guess your tribe or whatnot, or people that understand you. I mean, I don’t want to get too tribalistic about things. but I think as astrologers we spend a lot of time isolated and always having to censor ourselves. And I think that not having to do that for a week and making those connections and building that community was something that isn’t replicated everyday, and that’s something I’ve tried to carry over into coming back to my own community. I took that AFAN roundtable seriously, and we’ve started our own kind of astrology group here in Southeast Michigan with some younger folks and we’re gonna be meeting up with them pretty soon here; I think that’s gonna be carrying that spirit over.

I think that one of the things you guys kept saying on your podcast was how do you get involved and contribute what you have to offer? I think everybody has something a little bit different to offer. And for me personally, maybe I don’t have the decades of historical research or whatnot, but one of the things that I feel like I am good at is bringing people together and I try to offer that you know and validate and affirm and bring my enthusiasm. And I think getting involved in your own local conferences—that’s something I was doing when I got back home to Michigan. We were talking about the Great Lakes Astrology Conference, which happens in my city, and you and I talked a little bit about what could be improved with that or how that is going, so I reached out to them, doing social media for them and trying to put them on the map and whatnot. And I think that’s something that everybody should try to take to heart—if you see something that needs to happen, speak up and get involved; especially in the astrological community ‘cause no one’s gonna do it if you don’t. I think that’s one thing that I really took from that.

CB: Yeah, definitely. There’s a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done, and events like this often only take place through the efforts of volunteers and astrologers banding together and devoting some time towards making community events happen; so I was hoping that was one of the takeaways that people had from the conference. Because a lot of people leave these conferences energized and wanting to do something with that, and I’m excited to see people like yourself, Spencer, who are then channeling that into some of their local community, connecting with local astrology groups or starting local astrology groups, or helping to get involved in promoting or planning local astrology meetings or conferences or what have you, like you’re doing with the Great Lakes Astrology Conference. Austin and Kelly and I are trying to channel that a little bit into possibly doing our own event here in the near future. But also, the astrological organizations need volunteers. I mean, they need board members who spend years helping to plan events like this and that’s the only way that things like this happen. So I’m hoping that some of the newer generations of astrologers who are coming in now and having some of these experiences do get involved and start to help out because that’s the only way that we’re gonna continue to be able to have events like this as some of the older generations sort of take a step back and some the newer ones hopefully step up.

SM: And integrating the younger community too. I mean, I just have one final plug, if I’m allowed. I spoke with one of the organizers of the Great Lakes Astrology Conference, Richard Weber, who runs the conference—and this is taking place on July 12-16 in Ann Arbor—and I was able to negotiate with him a discount for members of the AYA and AFAN. So if you’re a member of the Association for Young Astrologers and the Association for Astrological Networking, you can call Richard and get a $100 discount off the cost of the conference. So making it accessible for young people, too, I think is really important. And one of the takeaways is that, at the end of the day, my motivation is I want to see all my friends again; see everybody and make it a place that people want to come to and recapture a little bit of that feeling that we had at UAC in our local areas, too.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And that’s exciting to me. I’m glad people are doing that and getting involved at this stage.

AC: And to speak to a similar connected point, one of the things that I hope the attendees came away from UAC with is the sense that it’s totally worth it to go through all of the time, money, and expense to actually get together in person. The internet—it’s not a replacement for physical co-presence; it’s just not.

CB: Right. Yeah, and that was something I was nervous about. We promoted it and mentioned and hyped up the conference so much, I was always hoping that people would get there and find that it was worthwhile in the end, and I feel like the majority of people that I talked to did feel that and that was kind of gratifying to hear. I was hoping there wasn’t a situation where it’s like we hyped it up and then somebody got there and didn’t have a good time or something like that, but instead it seemed to be the opposite.

AC: Yeah, one of the themes on that line that I experienced—and I wonder if for other people experience, too—is that I saw like the little frictive bits, the little nodes of internet contention that breed very easily in that alienated environment. It wasn’t just that beef got squashed at UAC, it’s just a lot of beef just dissolved. Like it’s not real when you’re around people and speaking to them rather than keyboarding. And it’s not that I have a huge beef with people at all, but I just saw the people who didn’t know how to connect or thought they were on opposing teams on Facebook just kind of were together. There was this dissolution I think of a fair amount of unnecessary friction within the community.

CB: Sure. I mean, there was the opportunity for that, definitely more than there can be at any other time because you’re literally like in a hotel with the same people for like a week. And while you can avoid each other, sometimes you can’t, you’re gonna be in the same room. So in some instances when I had things like that I would just try to confront it head-on by going up and saying, “We have stuff to talk about. Why don’t we hash it out?” And so, I actually had a very long discussion with Glenn Perry in the bar, in the middle of the hotel one night, where there were like a hundred people’s eyes on me for the entirety of this conversation. That was very awkward.

AC: Yeah, I was one of those people watching.

KS: Yeah.

AC: We were making up what you and Glenn might say. We were filling in the conversation.

CB: Were all three of you basically watching?

AC: “So Chris says this,” and “Oh, I think—”, anyway.

KS: Well, it was weird ‘cause you guys were sitting at this heightened table in the center of the lobby area. I mean, you couldn’t miss it. And then as soon as you saw who was talking, it was like, “Okay, well, we can’t interrupt this conversation knowing some of the back story.”

AC: But we can gawk.

KS: We were gawking, for sure. Sorry, Austin, I think I spoke over you there.

AC: Oh, no.

SM: It was gossip in the lunchroom, but it was entertaining, and I think you carried yourself really well. You had a couple of those conversations that week. I think you and Wade went back and forth a little bit on some stuff. But I think at the end of the day you humanize the people that you’re discussing the ideas with, and I think it’s connecting that heart center with the intellectual nature of things, too. I think that’s really important. I mean, at the end of the day, these people are human beings. Relating on their shared humanity and love for astrology rather than the technical details that divide us and being able to raise those issues in a respectful manner and in a way where you’re sharing a meal together and looking each other in the eye and things like that—that can’t be discounted. If more of our conflicts were resolved over a meal, I think we’d all get along a lot better sometimes.

CB: Yeah, I mean, like you were saying, Austin, I think it’s easier for people to get into these protracted, abstract arguments with people and forget the humanity on both sides when you’re just having an internet argument that’s lasting forever, whereas at a conference you realize you’re talking with another individual and sometimes that allows you to humanize the other person and maybe squash some of those beefs that you had other times and in a unique and much quicker way than you might be able to otherwise.

AC: Yeah, the intensity, the amount that is transmitted in an in-person dialogue is just so much more—not everything is reduced to the written word; we have the spoken word, which is more primal. We talked about this during the podcast. You have all the body language stuff and the person’s energy; there’s just so much more going on there.

CB: Definitely. You’re otherwise losing that most of the time when you are communicating with other people online, even with the friends, ‘cause we’re focusing on debates or people that you’ve had arguments with; but the thing that people kept saying is you were connecting with people. And I think you said something at one point, Austin, right? Like that’s the other piece of you or—

AC: I was talking about meeting the rest of the person.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Right.

AC: There is somebody I knew online who was very outspoken and critical and sharp, and then I met him in person and that’s there, too, but this person also had a very soft, mellow, unobtrusive, listening vibe to them. And then it was like, “Oh, that’s what it’s like when they’re not talking,” right? You don’t know what someone’s like when they’re not talking on the internet ‘cause all you get is the talk.

CB: Yeah.

SM: Beautiful.

CB: Yeah, and that’s huge. So you meet the rest of the person and then truly establish connections with people, which in some instances will last for decades. And that’s part of what we talked about in the podcast event in the last episode, so I guess we don’t have to go into that too much more. But, yeah, I hope that for a lot of people that attended they got that experience and then can share it with others and sort of validate some of what we’ve been saying over the past year in the build-up to this conference about why meeting up in person still has an important component to it that you can’t replicate by attending a webinar, or you can’t replicate by just being in a Facebook discussion forum. But there is something legitimately valuable and unique about meeting up in person, and that’s one of the reasons why these events are important and people should try to attend them when they can.

AC: Yeah, it’s worth the hassle.

CB: Good. Did you feel like it was worth it in the end, Spencer—everything you had to go through to make it there?

SM: Oh, absolutely. It was a life-changing experience, probably a peak moment in my life so far. And that’s not hyperbole. I feel really like I was just very lucky, like you said, and the beneficiary of some very wonderful energy, but also just some welcoming energy from the community. I felt people opened their arms to me and that was almost unexpected, too. I didn’t really expect that kind of reception from people, but it really gave me a lot of faith in the future of astrology. And the friendships that we’ve made—I made a joke with one of my fellow AFAN scholarship winners. And I actually don’t think it’s a joke but we were watching the ‘Uranus return’ sash people walking around with the purple Uranus return sashes, and I was like, “I want to see you walking around and us giving each other awards here with our Uranus return sashes.” And it was like a pinky swear that we made between the two of us, and I’m gonna hold them to that; I was serious. So I think there’s been lifelong friendships made, and that to me is the most important thing. We can learn about astrology and things like that, we can learn about astrology from books and from videos and things, but making actual human friends and connections is what’s really gonna sustain those studies, I think. I think that at the end of the day, I do astrology because I want to connect with people, and I have a genuine human interest in people and their lives. And getting to know other people that feel that same way is really powerful.

CB: Yeah, definitely. And recreating that sense of lineage, of different generations of astrologers meeting up and passing the torch from one generation to another.

AC: I believe the first night that I was home after the conference—when I slept in my bed for 12 hours—I was doing, as everyone else was, a lot of processing of what happened at the conference. And in addition to a variety of shifting and vague dream thoughts, there was one vision that I woke up with, and it was this sense of astrology composed of all the astrologers as a whole and as a coherent mass, that together— taken as a whole, had a substance and reality to it, a weight; and because of that weight it would naturally change and deform in a good way the time period in which it existed. And it was interesting because that sense of this that I had in the dream, it was composed of all the astrologers and there was this sense of spontaneous assembly through individual choice rather than the way that one might assemble an army, where people are conscripted and there are particular formations that are required and imposed. It was much more of this spontaneous and willed sort of ‘falling into coherence’ and that almost accidental coherence having substance and weight to it. There was a triumphant feeling to it. I described it before as it’s like the end of an epic movie where the protagonists are in the final battle and then all of these allies show up when least expected. It was like, “Oh, everybody’s here, and everybody’s on the right side. It was a nice feeling. It was a nice dream. And I don’t think it’s idle fantasy. I don’t think it’s the only layer of the truth or real, but I think that happened on some level.

CB: Yeah, definitely. I like that. That gives you a real image of astrology as an organism or an entity partially composed of all of those people that are practicing it. And then suddenly seeing all of them come together spontaneously in this huge gathering or something like that and realizing that astrologers have been doing that literally for centuries or for thousands of years—that’s how astrology grows and develops and is propagated from generation to generation and culture to culture and century to century. There’s something really breathtaking about that when you see it stretching back over history for thousands of years.

AC: There’s both that ‘temporal, sort of vertical through history’ coherence, and then there’s also ‘the people who are doing it now’ coherence. It occurs to me that although it may not necessarily have been the stated aim of the traditional revival, it has re-rooted us on a community-level with the fact that astrologers have been around for God knows how many thousands of years. There’s the technical rooting, and I think we’re all very excited about that, but there’s also a very real honoring the ancestors, getting reconnected to and repairing the lineage that happens as a lovely side effect of simply reading old books and practicing those techniques and thinking about what it was like to be Vettius Valens, rummaging around Egypt, trying to get the real shit.

CB: Yeah, I mean, in my workshop one of the points that I made is I’ve discovered one of the chart examples he uses in his book when he first introduces annual perfections; it was for a year in his life when he was 34-years-old, when he got in a shipwreck. And then he ran around getting the charts of all the people that were on the boat and then demonstrated how each of their charts show this major event in their lives that year. But the realization that he was only like 34-years-old when this happened—and I’m 33—you sort of imagine yourself in that position, and it sort of takes you back and makes you realize that astrologers have been doing many of the same things for thousands of years now and that we’re still very similar today and have many of the same impulses today as they did 2,000 years ago. And that applies to things like chart work or just studying astrology, but probably even many of the same dynamics that come up in terms of astrologers getting together at conferences and meeting and talking and connecting through their shared love of astrology—there’s probably something that’s run through the centuries that’s the same or similar in terms of that as well.

AC: Yeah, and also some of the smack-talk. You can see the eye rolls when you read Valens, and he’s like, “Uh, some of these people, the way they do astrology, it’s the worst.” Or like al-Biruni, where he’s like, “Yeah, some people think this. That’s not correct. Let me tell you how to do it right.” It’s slowed down and more textual, but the same contentious astrologers arguing to death tiny but crucial technical distinctions, that’s not a new thing.

CB: Right. Yeah, totally.

SM: It’s human nature.

CB: Human nature. And human nature being the same or very similar for a very long time. All right, did you have any final thoughts, Kelly, about the conference—other than just needing to get some sleep and recover?

KS: It’s mostly my voice. I got this stupid cold that Laura had or from the air in the hotel. Look, I think you guys have just made some really beautiful points. I think the word keeps going over in my mind is the ‘humanization’ of people, even if you know them. I mean, I know you guys in person; that’s how we met, that’s how we ended up here. But we don’t always get to see each other in the flesh, and there is that extra dimension. So I’m really just repeating what you guys have said and that is just a huge takeaway. And, for me, I feel like the conference is sort of still ongoing because I attended very few lectures in person, but I have a list of almost a dozen lectures that I really want to hear the recordings of. So in some ways it’s like the ongoing UAC experience ‘cause that’s gonna take me through the next couple of months just to savor each of those and still getting those insights from that wonderful event.

CB: Yeah, totally. I saw one person say that basically what they’re gonna be doing this summer is listening to some of those lectures. And that was the only way I was able to not drive myself crazy trying to attend everything, just knowing that I could get the recording afterwards and listen later and just kind of enjoy the experience while I was there.

KS: Yeah.

CB: Cool. All right, well, I think that might be a good note to end on. So thanks guys for joining me for this recap. I’m glad that we got a chance to do it once we all got a little bit of sleep, and I know we’re still getting caught up. But, yeah, I’m glad we were able to talk about and process some of what happened that week. Because there was just so much that happened, I wasn’t sure if we were gonna be able to cover it all, but I think we were able to cover a lot of ground here.

AC: Absolutely. Yeah, I was excited to meet up with y’all and kind of go over it and share my experience and compare notes etc., etc. It was a wonderful experience. And so, the idea of revisiting it sounded wonderful to me, too.

KS: That’s really sweet.

SM: And thank you all for just creating some space just for me here. It’s a real honor. I have the utmost respect for all three of you, and you guys are doing unbelievable work and really reaching a lot of people. I wouldn’t have been at UAC if it wasn’t for all three of you, so thank you for that.

CB: Awesome. Well, yeah, thanks for sharing your perspective—as somebody that was new—through your eyes. And just watching your experience of the conference gave me a really interesting experience and perspective—as somebody who had his first conference experience more than 13 or 14 years ago—it was interesting, almost reliving that through your eyes, seeing you experience it for the first time.

SM: Yeah, what can I say, I just feel extraordinarily lucky. And I know that this experience at UAC in particular is gonna carry my practice forward for many, many years. I think that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing to have your first conference, right? So hopefully we’ll just carry that enthusiasm and hopefully my experience has helped people to maybe not fall into the trap of getting jaded and see things from that beginner’s mind. ‘Cause I think we all have something to offer, whether we have experience or whether we have a beginner’s mind and just that enthusiasm.

CB: Definitely. Yeah, and for those that weren’t able to make it, there’s gonna be a lot of other conferences. There’s already other conferences scheduled for this year. So I think SOTA is taking place sometime—what is that? October, Kelly?

KS: October, yeah, in Buffalo, New York. And actually Baris and I—we’re each giving one of the pre-conference workshops at that conference.

CB: Nice.

KS: Yeah, it’s a smaller conference, so a different scale to UAC. I mean, their tagline is ‘Where you won’t get lost in the crowd’. And it is smaller so it’s a little bit more intimate. Yeah, so that’s October. I think the GLAC Conference is coming up in July, in Michigan.

SM: July 12-16 in Ann Arbor, at the Holiday Inn out here. There’s still spots available, and we’d welcome people and would love to see some of my UAC friends there. So sign up and, yeah, let’s continue the good vibes.

CB: Awesome. And I know that Dennis Harness is hosting a Vedic Astrology Conference in Sedona sometime in October or November, I believe. And it hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m sure there’s going to be another Northwest Astrology Conference in Seattle, probably next May, because that’s usually when it is.

KS: Yes. And then NCGR have announced their conference for August of 2019.

CB: Oh, right. So NCGR is gonna do a conference next year, and it’s gonna take place in Baltimore, in August.

KS: Yeah, I’m hazy on exactly where. I wasn’t sure if it was Philly or Baltimore, but it is on that side, if that makes sense.

CB: Sure. And then there’s rumors about ISAR, International Society for Astrological Research, is also planning a conference for 2020, and they’re trying to choose between Denver and Philadelphia.

KS: Oh, maybe that’s where I got Philly from. Yeah, the NCGR will have the details of that conference on their website already because they were promoting it a little bit at UAC.

CB: Right. And then of course we’re gonna be talking about doing our own little mini-conference event potentially, somewhere in the near future. So if people are interested in attending that, please give us some feedback and let us know, and we’ll definitely think about doing it. All right, guys, well, thanks a lot for joining me today. I really appreciate it. I’m glad we got to have this recap to process everything that happened, and I’m sure we’re still gonna be processing it for a while. But, yeah, it was really fun to hang out with all of you guys last month, and I hope we meet up and do it again in the near future.

AC: Definitely.

KS: Yes.

SM: Thank you.

CB: Cool. All right, well, thank you, everyone, for listening. Thanks to all of our patrons for your support of the podcast because without that I wouldn’t be able to keep doing four episodes each month, we wouldn’t have been able to do the podcast event. And just thank you to everybody of course who attended that event. It was a huge success largely because of the people that came there to participate. Yeah, so thanks everyone for listening. If you listen to us on iTunes, make sure to give it a good rating to help other people find the podcast. And I think that’s it for this episode. So thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.