The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 219, titled:
The Recent Revival of Astrology in Romania
With Chris Brennan and astrologers Firicel Ciarnau and Mihaela Dicu
Episode originally released on August 28, 2019
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released June 17, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi. My name is Chris Brennan, and this is episode 219 of the Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to be talking about the revival of astrology in Romania over the course of the past 30 years. So, in June of 2019 just a couple of months ago, I traveled to Romania from June 6th through 10th to attend and speak at an astrology conference that was being hosted there by the Romanian Astrologers Association. On June 9th I conducted several interviews and some of the interviews with some young astrologers I already published and released in episode 213 of The Astrology Podcast. But that day I also conducted some interviews with the founders of the astrological organization there and two of those I’m releasing in this episode of The Astrology Podcast. The first interview was with Firicel Ciarnău and the second was with Mihaela Dicu.
One of the things that I learned about during my trip to Romania was the recent revival of astrology of the past 30 years after the revolution that took place in 1989 and that’s kind of the focus or a large part of the focus of this episode and of these two interviews I’m about to present. So, what happened is that while there were a few books astrology published in Romania in the early 20th century right around the time the astrology was being revived in other western countries after a long slumber of a few centuries after it fell out of sort of intellectual usage after the Renaissance. So although there are some books published in Romania in the early 20th century after World War 2, Romania was taken over by the communists, of course, and during that time astrology became outlawed and was no longer permissible. And part of the background behind that is that in the Soviet Union they promoted atheism and were generally against religions and religious practices in general. And astrology was classified as a form of divination or a sort of superstition or a pseudoscience and therefore was generally prohibited in the different Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Bloc countries which included Romania. So, evidently Romania from what I was told was one of the countries where the suppression of astrology was the worst or was in some instances the most extreme. And astrologers were not only prohibited from practicing or studying the subject, but also astrology books were banned and prohibited in general. So despite that, they were still some astrologers who studied the subject privately to whatever extent they could then occasionally they would come across astrology books that had survived the suppression and would do what they could to study the subject given those circumstances. Then in 1989, there was a revolution and the communist government was overthrown and then as a result of that during the course of 1990s, astrology started to have a revival and it was certainly permissible again to study and practice this subject.
So, the two people I interviewed were two of the people that were in the first generation of astrologers who were studying, and practicing, and promoting this subject of astrology again publicly after the revolution took place. And they helped to set up certification programs for the subject. They helped to make it an actual occupation that was recognized by the government. And in 2004, they created the Romanian Astrologers Association in order to help promote astrology to help translate different astrological texts in Romanian and published them, and also to host astrology conferences. They currently host two-astrology conferences each year in Romania.
I wanted to interview both of these astrologers in order to help document some of this history because astrology goes through phases of acceptableness in different societies periodically over time and it’s important to remember and recognize those who have helped astrology to survive and to revive itself periodically even during the hardest of times.
I did want to say thank you to Carmina Amza for her translation and transcription services. She both helped me to translate the interviews that day on June 9th when I was doing these interviews and she also helped me to translate them into the transcripts that were used that will be on The Astrology Podcast website and they’ll be used in the subtitles for the video version of this episode. I decided to go with subtitles which you can turn on if you’re watching the video version by clicking the closed captioning button and then we will have some specific– they’ll be a good translation of what’s said because I wanted to preserve both the original statements that were made in Romanian as interviews, but I also wanted to have the subtitles, of course, for the English speaking listeners who are watching this episode in the audio version.
I also wanted to thank another friend named Adrian Tarcan for his help in translating the audio versions of this episode where we had some two people read the transcript and the translation that Carmina had made in order to have just a purely audio version of this episode that you can listen to in The Astrology Podcast website. Finally, thanks to the Romanian Astrologers Association for hosting me and for all the great work that they’re doing. There’s a lot of great people in that organization that made my trip to Romania great and are just doing really fabulous work in their country in bringing astrology back after it was suppressed for so many decades. So with that introduction on the way, let’s begin with the interviews.
1st Interview with Firicel Ciarnău:
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, thank you for joining me today. What is your name?
FIRICEL CIARNAU: Firicel Ciarnău. That’s more difficult to pronounce in English, but it is what it is.
CB: And how old are you and do you share the details of your birth chart?
FC: I was born on 16th of February, 1962. In my chart, I have a great number of planets in Aquarius and in the 11th house. That endows me with lots of energy particularly in the areas Aquarius is responsible for and I’m happy about that. I jokingly call it a bucketful of planets, but it helps a great deal. However, I don’t have any trines, sextiles, just an amazing stellium. Mars and Saturn also there in Aquarius with Mercury between them and in the opposite side, the nodal axis is also Aquarius/Leo. And Uranus is there, the ruler of Astrology in the 5th house which is also education. So naturally I was somewhat pushed to teach Astrology. Aries rising provides the necessary energy to put any project into practice.
CB: Before you were an astrologer, what is your primary profession or what was your educational background?
FC: I’m a math teacher. I attended Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj which is considered by some the strongest University in Romania. I was a math teacher for over 20 years then I gave up the education system to dedicate myself solely to astrology, to esoteric sciences, numerology, and so on.
CB: So I’m just learning about the history of astrology in Romania and I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about astrology being suppressed, and how you found it during that time, and how you eventually ended up becoming an astrologer?
FC: During the communist era, so before the Revolution in 1989, astrology was forbidden in Romania. Even though other countries who were communist allowed astrology to exist, in Romania there was not such a thing. So it was just difficult, as you couldn’t even own books. State security police militia which was the police denomination back then would perform searches, take the books on astrology or other esoteric topics. They burned them and the owner could even go to prison. However, in 1985, I found in the attic of a friend’s house, very well hidden, some books on esoteric topics including astrology. I couldn’t say that I already learned Astrology then, but at least the spark was ignited.
Out of curiosity, I would go through those books and because I insisted, he eventually gifted me one of those books. After the Revolution, I knew enough astrology to come forward. I was among the first to write texts on various magazines and I tried to make astrology more popular. Obviously, Romanians had no idea even what their Sun sign was not even what the zodiac signs were. They knew next to nothing about Astrology because they had been cut off from this science for so long. At first, it wasn’t easy especially due to the dialectical materialism which was typical of communist thinking. People were used to look down on, or to mock those who were involved in esoteric sciences, metaphysics, astrology and so on. I didn’t cave in, I moved forward, and I was convinced that what I was doing was amazing. And step by step I succeeded and today almost every Romanian know their Sun sign, almost every TV station has their horoscope section, the commercial one. And the magazine, people are already used to it. It was difficult in the beginning until they became accustomed but now they are accustomed and we can carry on with our activities.
Slowly, politicians and those who were involved in writing the official classification of economic activities in Romania took Astrology into consideration and officially recognized it as an occupation. It’s not a profession, just an occupation but we are very happy that we have at least that. The difference between occupation and profession is practically non-existent. There is a difference, however, in regulations because an occupation is officially acknowledged. You may receive an official certificate, but one can’t create, for instance, a university higher studies of astrology, not yet. But we are patient and working on it. After the year 2000, I personally founded the Fidelia Astrology School. It was the first official Astrology school in Romania. And as soon as we could, we started granting certificates that are officially recognized by the Ministry of Labor. Romanians can use that to officially perform this profession or occupation. I was happy to have achieved that. To boast, I was the first in many directions. In Astrology, I was the first to create a school, the first to issue certificates. I like being first, it’s nice. And I still have resources. I surely still have much to do and I will do it all. I plan that when the time comes to be able to create an astrology college. You can make sure that I will be attempting to.
CB: How did you come to create the first certification program for astrology in Romania?
FC: We had to wait until the officials created that classification of economic activities in Romania so that the occupation of astrologer would be included in that list so that it exists. As soon as it existed officially, obviously, I was waiting for it. I created the project, I submitted the paperwork, and so I was the first to be able to offer that. Nowadays, there are also others offering these certificates, I am not the only one anymore. But I’m happy the majority are former students of mine. So I’m happy for them. And thus Astrology is developing in Romania. It’s also interesting as an anecdote; the law stipulated that those who wish to offer such a certificate to already have a certificate. However, at the time I did it nobody had a certificate. But I managed to persuade them that somebody had to break the ice that somebody needed to be first. And I convinced them
CB: There’s sometimes debates in the astrological community over whether certification is a good idea or a bad idea, How do you feel about certification in astrology at this point? Clearly you’re more in favor of the idea of certification, so what do you say to those who are against it?
FC: Not all astrologers in Romania attended my school, not all of them have a certificate. In actuality, most astrologers were self-taught and thus many of them move forward to organized studies in an organized school setting or they stubbornly seek individualism. They want to be on their own two feet. Neither one of these options is wrong. The law allows them to activate as astrologers even without a certification. So for now, that is a good thing as they don’t feel hemmed in, But as time passes, certification will be required. The same happened with the Astrologers’ Association, we were a handful of people who collaborated and we got to thinking astrologers in Romania and worldwide are a bit more individualistic. Each works on their own and usually keep their knowledge to themselves. We thought we could gather all astrologers in Romania under the same umbrella, not for them to be directed, or led, but for them to collaborate. So we thought if we, the few 4-5 people can cooperate, we are certain there are other astrologers in Romania eager to collaborate and in this way we created the association. We created magazines, online or printed and here we are. A good number of astrologers who collaborate and by exchanging ideas, we learn from each other. So it’s a great advantage, it’s a plus.
CB: You are a first generation astrologer, but you’re not the only astrologer in your family, right?
FC: I was among the first astrologers. But once a younger generation appeared, I personally considered and gave myself as an example that the younger generation should decide the fate of the association. And us, the elders, who created the Association we should take a step back. Not everyone from the association from my generation took that step back. I did, just so that I could set an example. It’s true many interpreted that this step back differently as making room for my daughter who is now President of the Astrologers’ Association. It’s not true. I took that step back before she became President. People like her, they love her and she became a great astrologer through her own studies and not because of her father, but through her own studies, through her own work which naturally made me very happy. She is respected for her own work and talent, not for the fact her father founded the association. I took a nice step back and I am at their disposal any time to help. And I consider myself a fulfilled individual. I considered that what I have done and I am doing in my current position is an honor and brings me joy.
CB: So what are the different approaches to astrology in Romania, or are there different groups, or how has astrology grown and developed over the past 30 years?
FC: In Romania, the majority 90% of the people use tropical astrology. Sidereal and Hindu astrology is used very, very little. There are some astrologers using Sidereal and Hindu but very, very few. So when we talk about astrology in Romania, we talk about tropical astrology. However, some currents appeared. Some prefer Hellenistic astrology, others modern astrology. How should I say this? My firm, my company is the largest provider of astrological services in Romania. I have a team, I can’t work by myself. I have a full team providing these services, not just classes but also personalized studies. And what I noticed, most of us use Placidus.
But where the time is unknown, or where a certain type of study is needed, we use whole sign houses. From what I noticed, after thousands of studies based on the feedback from clients, I concluded that Placidus provides a greater degree of accuracy in describing the person in natal astrology. Positive feedback is much more numerous than when using whole because of that. In my school, for instance, the house system taught is Placidus. Why? Because there are some calculations there. It’s a bit more complex, Placidus, and so better that they learn what is more difficult and then they can decide if they want to move to whole sign houses because it will be much easier. So even if Placidus is the foundation, we also present all house system. Not all, I mean a few we chose, a few house systems including whole so that they can choose afterwards. So, we grant them the freedom to practice whatever they choose and what suits them.
CB: 100 years from now, if astrologers are still practicing astrology in Romania, and it’s been around for a century, what would you like them to remember about the past few decades when it was revived, or what should they know in order to understand how it got started again?
FC: I would like them to understand and realize that we, the post-revolution generation of astrologers, made a huge leap from not knowing astrology, from zero, we took it to a level they can build on. That was our mission, to leave the past behind and from zero, to take a big enough leap so that they have something to develop on later.
CB: If there was ever anybody that had to start over again from scratch like that or if you had an opportunity to do it over again, is there anything you would do differently the second time around?
FC: To such people, I would recommend from my own experience. Firstly, to have patience, then to not give up because of people criticizing them. If they feel they have this mission and have to do this, and feel what they do is right, then they should do it no matter what, regardless of the obstacles. What would I do if I had to start over? I think I would accelerate. I would do everything faster. I stretched things out over too long a time. I think I would have accelerated. That is all.
CB: Do you have any other esoteric interests besides astrology?
FC: My first interest was numerology. I’m a mathematician. It was easier to write my first book on numerology. It was written in 1995 and published in the same year. And there was no serious books on numerology in Romania. So, I was a pioneer even there. I can say that all numerologists in Romania learned from me. My astrology book came out only in 1999, so later. I was already involved in astrology, but I felt I needed more time to gather information. I was studying from photocopies, or typewritten translations of books from abroad, sometimes not even knowing who the author was. So I simply learned everything I got my hands on.
Speaking of numerology and astrology, I strongly recommend that people also study numerology and that they somehow combine when they have to provide certain services to people. Let’s say, they need to help someone with advice, they may notice astrology does not suffice. Just as they may notice astrology does not suffice, but having them together may bring the answer. Many times I combine astrology and numerology. I also handle divinatory arts, esotericism in general. I teach Kabbalah, occultism, all these esoteric sciences are necessary for the astrologer to understand astrology and how planets work. Eventually, he needs to understand that they don’t influence us. It’s all about archetypes, analogies, synchronicities that’s what astrology is based on.
2nd Interview with Mihaela Dicu:
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, thank you for joining me today.
MIHAELA DICU: Hello.
CB: What is your name?
MD: Mihaela Dicu.
CB: Okay. And you are an astrologer?
MD: Yes, I’m an astrologer.
CB: How long have you been studying astrology?
MD: I started studying astrology in 1974 when I was 15. I started out with general horoscopes and after that, I made progress according to what was available.
CB: Okay. And where are you from originally?
MD: I’m from Craiova. Craiova is the capital of a south-western Romanian province. And Romania is in Europe, former Eastern Europe, former Communist Bloc.
CB: Okay. So, you are the President of the Romanian Astrologers’ Association?
MD: Honorary President.
CB: Okay. And when did you start that organization?
MD: In 2004. Today June 9, 2019 marks 15 years of the court order issued to create the Romanian Astrologers’ Association.
CB: Right. And you founded the organization with a friend, right?
MD: Yes, it had all started a long time before and the bricks were laid progressively. In 2000, I founded an astrology discussion group on Yahoo! Groups. This group is called Acubens. It currently has almost 1000 members. It’s not as active as it once was, but it used to be very active in the beginning and it was the first online astrology discussion group in Romania. We talked a lot about Astrology and we formed friendships. It’s there I met a few astrologer colleagues from Romania, from various cities among which Firicel Ciarnău who was located in a certain city. Then Val Dragu who was not actually an astrologer, but he owned an Astrology portal, the largest astrology portal at the time and he hired astrologers to write pieces for the respective websites. Then there was Fulop Laszlo, Romanian of Hungarian origin, from Transylvania, Romania. Then there was Adrian Mândruţă-Tănăsescu from Eastern Romania, and there was also Radu Moisoiu, also from Transylvania.
Anyway, we all became friends. We started exchanging private messages and talking on the phone. And at some point, one of the participants said, “Why don’t we make an astrology magazine?” That was Adi Mândruţă. So, we decided to make an online astrology magazine. This was happening in 2000 in the beginning of the year, I believe. We grouped up, we were probably 5-6 in the beginning, and we published the Astrele magazine on the spring equinox in 2000, the first issue. After 2 years of co-working on Astrele magazine, we wrote all the articles, we proofread one another. So, I proofread Firicel’s articles, Firicel proofread Adi, Adi proofread Radu’s, and so on. As a circle, so we all did everything for the magazine. After 2 more years, Adi again said, “What about creating an association? Let’s make an association of Romanian astrologers.” There was none at the time. How to create the association? The process of establishing an association was very complicated at the time. It required a big pile of paperwork and the papers needed to be filled and signed by all the founding members, so there was a big fuss about doing the paperwork. The documents needed to be submitted to the court, they needed validation by court order, and so on. We had to create bank accounts which needed to be registered with the tax authorities, so the recipe to establish such an organization was quite complicated and someone had to do it. Who will take care of the paperwork? We were all spread out in different cities. Firicel said, “I’ll take care of it.” Firicel is a very active individual. He founded the first astrology school in Romania, he is running an astrology business… He is very active. But being so active, he was also very busy.
At the time, I was working for several glossy magazines that were very trendy back when written press had not collapsed. I worked from home so I could somehow manage my time as I desired. At some point Firicel said, “I don’t have time to take care of it. Mihaela, you take care of it since you are such an entrepreneur.” So I said, “What can I do? I’ll do it.” And so for some weeks and some months, I labored with some paperwork from the first step which was to submit a request to some ministry for the denomination approved in Bucharest, the capital, so really, it was very, very complicated. So, we reached the moment when the folder had all the files and they all needed to be signed. How to sign as we were all in different cities? So we said, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to create a chain.” I sign the document, I mail it to Firicel who in turn signs and mails it to Radu, and Radu signs and mails it to Adi, who signs it and sends it to Val, and so on. So that’s what we did. Now, you know that things happen when they happen, not necessarily when you want them to. We had this burst of enthusiasm of let’s do it, but because this paperwork process took so long, we couldn’t choose the day we wanted to make an electional chart for the moment when submitting the papers. What I could choose because you choose what you can, and the charts of the time were pretty agitated. Perhaps that agitation gave us the push.
When I put the first signature on the founding document before mailing it, I placed the Ascendant on Spica. In my natal chart, the Ascendant is near Spica so I thought it would be fine, it would work well so we kicked it off. Anyway, several weeks later, the court order was issued, and as I already mentioned, it was issued on the date of June 9, 2004. Later, I found out from a Court clerk that the order had been validated by the president of the court sometime between 1:00- 1:15 p.m. So we kind of know when it was born. We know the Ascendant for sure. And that’s how we set off. We started promoting the association. People from the Acubens discussion group started to subscribe and year by year, we started growing. We were established in 2004, and we were legally bound to hold a general assembly within a year. In 2005, in Bucharest, we held the members’ general assembly, along with the First Congress of the Romanian Astrologers’ Association. The following year since I’m from Craiova and I have this entrepreneurial spirit, I thought, “What would it be like to organize here in my own city a second annual event, to call it AstroFestival, and have the AstroFestival in summer, in Craiova?” My colleagues had already opted that the annual congress along with the general assembly would take place in autumn.
So I said, “Great, we’ll have two events.” And that’s how the association has its congress in the fall, in Bucharest, the capital and an AstroFestival during summer usually in June, in Craiova. In the meantime, Astrele magazine continued to be published. It’s still alive today. It has its own website, Astrele.ro. There’s also a section in English if English-speaking astrologers want to share some of their knowledge, some of their research, and experience, and should they wish to publish, we’ll be happy to translate. We have a team of translators. Perhaps Astrele is the association’s most important project, but we also have other projects. We became involved in other things. We have two yearly events, the Astrele magazine, we have a translation project called Tradittore where we sometimes translate articles for Astrele magazine, and via which we translated two books that were already published by important publishing houses in Romania. We started with Vivian Robson Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology. Such a book was missing from the market and we also focused on a work that would be free of copyright. Why did we do that? It’s because the association exists only via members’ contributions and donations, and we generally try to direct the association’s funds towards organizing events so that we can organize congresses and AstroFestivals as great as possible where people come and where we can, according to our possibilities, bring internationally renowned astrologers that would enrich our knowledge and broaden the horizons of Romanian astrologers, and if possible, to also increase our worldwide notoriety.
CB: Could give me the history of astrology in Romania over the past century, starting from the beginning of the 20th century, and how it existed ,but then it went away and then astrology eventually came back?
MD: Unfortunately, astrology does not have a consistent tradition in Romania. It doesn’t. There are some old chronicles maybe from the 18th century. At some point, they mention a star reader who made a prediction for the country’s rulers, but it was a very brief mention and not very relevant. In the early 20th century, according to my and my colleagues’ knowledge, there were only two astrology books by Romanian authors published in Romania before the communist era. One was a book called Stars and Glands, written by Constantin Eratostene. The other was a book written by Armand Constantinescu. These are two astrology books that stop after some basic notions of astrology. They don’t go into much detail. Let’s say Armand Constantinescu has a sort of manual where he gives examples, but here, I have to make a distinction. The book published before the communists came before World War II, is a book that mainly presents zodiac signs and where there are maybe 2 3 4 charts analyzed.
However, Armand Constantinescu had a manuscript that couldn’t be published during communism and was only published post-mortem in the years following the Romanian revolution. That is a more consistent manual. But why did Armand Constantinescu’s book remain unpublished for so long? Because during communism, astrology was forbidden in Romania same as any other esoteric science. So during the communist era, one could not officially access any astrological information. Books were not being published. One could not own these books. People who owned such esoteric, astrological literature were persecuted. The few people who were interested in astrology at the time kept their books hidden, and there were people like me who throughout communism although they were interested, they could not access any astrology book, and could not contact anyone else interested in astrology.
CB: So Astrology was suppressed during that time and it didn’t really exist for several decades, but then how did it come back?
MD: During communism, one could not travel. One could not exit the country unless visiting the other countries in the Eastern Bloc. There were few people granted travel to the West. So one could not bring in information, one could not reach information. After the revolution of December 1989, borders opened up. People started travelling. Those passionate about astrology started getting into contact with one another gaining access to information. For instance, my good childhood friend in 1990, shortly after the revolution, she went to France. And she asked me, “What can I get you from France?” I said, “Bring me the Ephemerides.” She said, “Are you crazy? Don’t you want perfume, lipstick?” “No, I want the Ephemerides.” And that’s how I got the Ephemerides because before that, I used to work according to a book.
CB: Tell me how you got interested in astrology and then how that intersected with the revival of Astrology in the 1990s?
MD: In the spring of 1974, I don’t remember the exact month. It may have been March, or April, or May. One of my classmates, the son of some actors from Craiova Theatre came to school with an old book, belonging to his grandma. It was the book of Armand Constantinescu, the one published before the war. It was love at first sight, an attraction. I saw it, turned some pages, and borrowed it. I took a big notebook and I hand-copied the entire part with all the characteristics of zodiac signs and that’s how everything started. From there on, I started to interrogate everyone I knew about their birth time, in order to observe and compare with what I was reading. In the respective book, the description of the signs was very brief, succinct, and pretty puerile looking back on it now, in retrospect, but it was a beginning for me. I had no other source. Romania was more French-speaking at the time so more of that came into Romania.
Those books and magazines in French were more successful and somehow through my mother’s friends etc. A few Paris Match magazines reached me as well. Paris Match is a weekly magazine and they had this horoscope section where it was written, for instance, for Pisces: Venus enters your sign, so you’ll feel the need to be more elegant, to buy jewelry. You’ll be more liked, more surrounded by people. Your love life will go well. So I would write that down in my notebook: Venus in your sign etc. Or in a different issue from another week: Mars enters your sign so be careful. You’ll have lots of energy, but you may also have conflicts, accidents. So I would write down in my notebook: Mars in your sign etc. And so I started accumulating bits of information which I wrote down and tried to piece together, to digest, to process, and they layered on. They gathered little by little so that I could get an idea about who does what. Things started to improve when I came to Bucharest, to go to University. As a student, I lived in a dorm, in a student campus, I believe that’s what it’s called. And one of my room-mates showed up one day with an astrology book her aunt brought from France. That book was a zodiac, but a more complex one where zodiac signs were analyzed in a more profound manner and which also had an extra precious bonus. Following the description of each sign, a table with the time intervals of the Rising signs as well as the description of the Sun signs, Ascendant combo.
The book also had a solid foreword presenting the characteristics of male/female signs, cardinal/fixed/dual signs, and also nicely and extensively presenting characteristics of fire/air/earth/water sign traits. A great step forward that was taking place when I was a student in my second year, say around 1980-1981.In 1982 or 1983, I befriended the adoptive daughter of a great neurosurgeon, Arsene. She had an astrology book also in French titled How to Interpret Your Own Chart in 10 Lessons. I gave her some French magazines and she gave me this book which was very valuable because it had house tables and also Ephemerides. But what kind of Ephemerides did it have at the end? It had Ephemerides of every 10 days. You can imagine what was happening to the Moon or Mercury placements.
Anyway, I was making great efforts to interpolate, to make some calculations. Luckily, I was studying engineering so calculations happened easily, converting hexa-decimal systems to decimal systems so that you calculate and interpolate and then turn it to degrees, minutes really crazy. The respective book generously addressed planetary traits, and it contained a great amount of information so that was a great step forward. After having completed my university studies, I was assigned to work as an engineer for a company, and at the time, the Renault car company had an office, a factory in Craiova where French engineers worked. And one of those French engineers brought me another astrology book, a manual. You can imagine how I used to work the charts using a set square and a pencil, and everything was calculated by hand, and how it went through great lengths with these four astrology books until the revolution came.
When the Revolution came– I’m sorry I didn’t bring one of these four books, or all of them. Their corners are worn out, they are rounded. I probably know all of them by heart, four astrology books over the span of so many years. After the revolution came, borders opened. We had access. My friends started to travel, they brought me books first. I had many colleagues and childhood friends that had immigrated to the United States so they also sent me books. They helped me a lot. Myself, since 1998, I joined a French-speaking discussion group and later at the end of 1999, I joined a France-based association, CEDRA who had their own discussion group and my French colleagues helped me. They were very reluctant at first, I had landed there from a former communist country. The French are pretty elitist. They looked at me quite doubtingly, but I was very zealous. I would write and reply and little by little, they adopted me and they sent me books, many of them. And what was extraordinary, they sent me an audio tape of the workshop presented by Robert Hand in Paris. It must have been in 2000. And after that, I started buying books myself and so they started piling up. Ellen Black, Robert Schmidt’s wife helped me. She gifted me the first five volumes of the Vettius Valens English translation, and yes, I was helped by a lot of people.
And then when I started, it was necessary for them to help because after the revolution, our income was extremely low. Our monthly wages were around $50-100 per month. $100 was a lot, I could not afford to buy books. Later on in 1996, I started working with a company that was the city’s first internet provider, so I was present online since the early stages of Romanian internet. And anyway, things opened up. I bought many books by myself. I owned several hundreds of astrology books at some point, really a great number. Many of them I donated because some of them were outdated. They were no longer useful. I only kept what I deemed valuable. But, the beginning was very difficult. I was alone, I had no one to exchange ideas with. It’s really awful to struggle by yourself, to have no one to ask for advice. My colleagues and friends, they were not interested in this. My opinion is that you really need a calling to study astrology otherwise you can’t. It’s a vast domain where you only enter if you’re passionate. After the revolution, I managed to get into contact with two older astrologers from my city. They also had a few books in French. I couldn’t previously get in touch with them because they were afraid. I was aware that one of them existed, I tried to contact him, but it wasn’t possible. So afterwards, it was probably the many years of lonely study which caused hunger and need to create astrology groups to become involved in creating an association in sharing with others. In the discussion group, everything I studied, I would share with others. Over the years, I probably wrote countless volumes in e-mails on that group and always afterwards, during congresses, during various astrological gatherings, I felt the need to share.
CB: What are the four books that you’ve written?
MD: There are two books for the broader audience. One is a very complex zodiac and very well received by the public. It’s already in its third edition and it’s been selling continuously since 2007. It first came out in 2007. A book on the planets, and asteroids, and the signs which is accessible to the broader public because I included tables where anyone can find out what is their Venus, Mercury, Moon sign. And two books that are more specialized, one on Horary and the other on relationship astrology. I also translated a predictive astrology book from French and I contributed to the translation from English of Vivian Robson’s book on Constellations and Fixed Stars in Astrology. Book which I added notes to and curated. I love books and I love working because I have a friend who works in a publishing house. As a hobby, I also did proofreading on books. Translation under a pseudonym and even book editing, but time does not allow me to get involved. However, in the process of publishing my books, I worked very closely with the publishing house. All my books as well as the one I translated and the one translated with my colleagues from the Astrologers’ Association were printed by a famous Romanian publishing house. The respective publishing house incurred all costs and they were promoted through special events and have good visibility.
I started teaching the class pretty late, maybe around 2009 or 2010. I started teaching courses in a classroom in Bucharest. There were many years where I travelled to Bucharest monthly to teach in a classroom. I have class modules. I started with a relationship astrology class. My courses were generally taught during the weekend, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with very short breaks, So 2 days each and I also had modules on relationship astrology, predictive astrology, medical astrology, electional astrology, horary astrology, fixed stars and nodes. I had about 12 to 14 astrology modules. Actually, the books on horary and relationship astrology are based on, are constructed around the class material. I give consultations and I do everything an astrologer can do. I’ve been writing incessantly since 2002, since its creation for the Astrele magazine.
CB: In the 1990s, you first started talking to a lot of astrologers online, and then eventually you started meeting in person. With some of the younger generations of astrologers, they only meet other astrologers online and don’t really know the value with meeting up in person. So if you had to talk to somebody in order to attempt to explain what the value is of meeting up with other astrologers in person, what would you say?
MD: The greatest gain when meeting other astrologers in person is that tighter bonds are formed, friendships are formed, events are created and a certain atmosphere is ignited. You enter a sphere where you breathe astrology. The in-person meetings are very valuable. But you should know that we collaborated for years without ever meeting in person and it was feasible. Communication is of utmost importance. I believe that the most important thing is to communicate as much as you can, to share opinions, to ask, to explain, to give to the others through your knowledge. To try and organize things, do things together. Even at present, we, the association, we organize things remotely via e-mails but, of course, it’s always wonderful to be able to meet face-to-face, to be together, touch, see and breathe the same air as those you meet online. It’s a different feel, and it creates an environment that strengthens the bonds even further. Because I took care of practically establishing the association, I was designated as President in the first term. During the following elections, I no longer wished to candidate and then I recommended, as he was elected, my successor, Dan Ciubotaru. He’s a well-known astrologer in Romania and he had a vision.
That same year during the same general assembly when I said I no longer wished to candidate, the members of the association decided to grant me the title of Honorary President since I was the founding president and had the first term. Dan Ciubotaru is a very broad-visioned astrologer. He has Jupiter on the Ascendant and the chart lord is in Sagittarius. He was the one who came up with the idea to invite someone from abroad. Up to that point, we would only meet and organize events amongst each other. But in 2011, he said, “Let’s invite someone from abroad.” Since he had participated the previous year to the Great Britain Astrologers’ Congress where he had met some astrologers, he said, “Let’s invite Deborah Houlding.” So he invited Deb. And that was the opening, the first step towards events where we had top guest from abroad.
Nicholas Campion was next and in 2014 when the Association celebrated its 10th birthday, we organized a royal event where we invited Deb Houlding once again, Benjamin Dykes, each presenting day-long workshops, Oner Doser from Turkey who represents the biggest astrology school in Turkey and who had a half-day workshop, and my old acquaintance from the forum, from the CEDRA French Association, the President of CEDRA, Maurice Charvet from France. It was really great. We had a masked ball event at this era-themed restaurant with many mirrors, beautiful. Afterwards, we invited astrologers from Italy, Norway, Spain and this year, we had the great joy of having Chris. We had invited him last year, but then he couldn’t make it. We are thrilled he is here now and we hope to continue like this. Each guest from abroad enriched us with knowledge and added to our joy and pride, and consolidated even further this Romanian Astrologers’ Association as well as astrology knowledge in Romania.
CB: So do you have family? And if so, what do they think about your interest in astrology?
MD: It’s a cute story to practice astrology. When I became passionate about it, that was rare in Romania, and even exotic. It seemed pretty eccentric. My parents were a bit skeptical. My mother was a teacher, my father, an economist. But eventually, as long as they saw I was still grounded and I carried on with my school studies, and that the passion for astrology does not negatively influence my life as they had initially feared, then they learned to accept and look kindly upon it. I met my husband in the first year of college, so he was there next to me when I got to hold my first zodiac. He was completely against it. “This is silly.” He’s a Gemini and I kept telling him, “Look at this person doing that. That is a Leo doing that, and so on.” So I was just telling him everything. A little later, I surprised him going through the zodiac book, that’s as far as my husband went, but he’s capable of saying, “This person looks like a Scorpio.” That’s all he knows. Other than that, he always supported me. He understood. There were rough times when I was working very hard and he helped me with everything at home, in the household, so he was a great support for me in my astrology career.
CB: And one last question, do you share your birth chart details?
CB: What is your birth data, and what is your Sun, Moon and rising?
MD: I turned 60 this spring. I was born March 14, 1959 in Craiova, Romania. The maternity records show 8:45 p.m. It may be plus/minus 5 minutes off. While researching maternity archives to find the data of various people, I realized that during the Communist era birth times were rounded out, so quarter past, half past, quarter to, or the hour. Therefore, it’s possible I was born a bit earlier or later. Maybe later because my mother remembers 9:00 p.m., 9 past, so I’m a Pisces with Libra rising. Rising can be anywhere between 20-23°. My Moon is in Taurus in the 8th. It’s a very good Moon for night birth. It was this Moon that helped me and supported me a lot. Ascendant Lord Venus is in Aries on the 7th cusp with Mercury. Jupiter is in the 3rd house. Mars is in the 9th house. Mercury is aspecting everyone, good or not so good aspects, but regardless, the thirst for knowledge is very well mirrored in this natal chart. I always feel like my brain cells are sort of like baby birds in a nest with their beaks open waiting to be continuously nourished. That’s what led me to Hellenistic astrology. That’s what you should ask.
CB: How did you become interested in Hellenistic astrology or ancient astrology in general?
MD: Being in that group, in that French Astrologers’ Association, CEDRA,I befriended French astrologers and one of them sent me the audio tape of Robert Hand’s presentation in Paris in 2000, I believe. And that was the beginning. At that point, I had read and gone through every stage of astrology,
asteroids, karmic, sidereal, and anything you can think of. But I felt I needed more, and I needed a more profound knowledge that would somehow meet my cultural needs, so to speak, Academic-type of information. So I had deeper interests and that workshop of Robert Hand where he talked about day/night concept sect opened up the gate. What followed was a hunger for information on Hellenistic astrology. I gathered it from everywhere I could and, of course, I started talking about it on the Acubens discussion group where everyone was. It was cute because at that time everyone in Romania practiced new age astrology, psychological astrology, karmic astrology and when I showed up with Hellenistic astrology information, everyone had something to say luckily because over time I had discussed enough modern astrology and they knew my astrology knowledge was solid. They started paying attention. So I started learning and sharing what I had been studying since the year 2000. In 2004, I took part in an esoteric event in the West of the country in Timișoara where there was also an astrology section and there, I started talking about the subdivisions of signs, terms, Dodecatemoria, and so on. What I got was an internet article by one of my peers saying that some people came to the astrology symposium in Timișoara to do serious astrology while others came to look smart. All I wanted to do was share. Little by little, on the forum, we talked, we wrote articles in Astrele one after the other for years. During the AstroFestival, I presented Hellenistic-themed conferences and little by little people started getting used to the idea. The greatest thing was me starting to teach Hellenistic astrology. I forgot to mention it. I teach a Hellenistic course where a lot of people learn something. So in a way, the Romanian public became gradually accustomed to Hellenistic astrology and a coronation for Hellenistic astrology in Romania, and for classical astrology was the visit of Benjamin Dykes, and Chris’s visit. They both contributed a lot as far as I’m concerned. The passion for Hellenistic astrology remains alive. I read a lot, but I realize that there is so much to learn, that it’s very likely we have to keep digging for the rest of our lives.
CB: I think that’s a good stopping point. Thank you very much for joining me today.
MD: With great pleasure.
CB: All right. That’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast. For more information about the Romanian Astrologers’ Association, go to aar.org.ro and you can find out more information about the conferences and other events that they organize in Romania.
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