The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 259, titled:
A Discussion on Astrology and Race in America
With Chris Brennan and astrologer Sam Reynolds
Episode originally released on June 10, 2020
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 August 22, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is episode 259 and I’m recording it with Sam Reynolds on Monday, June 8th, 2020, starting at 2:35 PM in Denver, Colorado. And the topic of our discussion, the title of this episode is the discussion on astrology and race in America. Hey Sam, welcome back to the show.
SAM REYNOLDS: Thank you for having me again, Chris.
CB: Yeah. I believe this is your fourth or fifth appearance, depending on how you count them on The Astrology Podcast.
SR: Yeah, I was thinking that. Yeah, I think I’ve been on, yeah, this is fourth or fifth. Yeah, if you want to count me with the last time I appeared with Ken.
CB: Yeah. Which was actually just about almost exactly a year ago now. All right. So our main topic of course today, like if you’re watching this live right now or not live but in the near future is going to be about what’s going on in the US over the past couple of weeks, which is recently, which was the murder of George Floyd on May 25th and then the resulting protests and discussions. And especially some of the discussions about racism in America. But for our focus, especially as kind of the relevance of this topic to the astrological community. So I wanted to first start with sort of an opening statement that I had been thinking about and thinking about also, and had some input from my last guest who was Diana Rose Harper. But one of the things I wanted to do is just open by… First thing that I wanted to acknowledge just in and of itself, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other black people at the hands of police and white vigilantes over the course of not just recently, but over the course of the past decade. So there’s obviously kind of a history of racism and systemic oppression in America that still pervades our society even if many white Americans don’t realize or acknowledge it. And for me, there’s just been a lot of listening and learning over the past couple of weeks and a lot of discussions in the astrological community as well. But I wanted to provide some coverage of that on the podcast, both to document what’s going on in the country and going on at the present point in time but also to help the astrological community learn and grow. So while I’ve generally attempted to keep the podcast as free of politics, “politics” as possible doing so has kind of been a privilege on my part. And I don’t think that advocating for the safety and wellbeing of black people is not… I don’t think that that’s not in fact political, but it’s more of a moral obligation. And so that’s part of the context of this discussion today. So, how are you doing? So let’s open this first, just in the context of everything that’s been going on over the past couple of weeks. How have you been doing with things in general?
SR: First, I want to thank you for that opening statement. I was very moved by it because I think that’s an important moment, an important way to address it. Because over the last, I would say four years, maybe even longer, since Obama’s election, I think our gauge of what’s political and what’s not has really changed. And especially in terms of how we frame this thing called identity politics. Whether related to blackness, Black Lives Matter, all these particular things. And to frame it or reframe it, not just as political but moral, I think really is an important moment, an important statement. So I appreciate that. I appreciate you saying that. I’m well. I kind of talked to you a little bit about how I’ve gone up and down with fatigue, but like I said, I can’t figure out… And this is just the nature of the moment that we’re in with COVID-19. I can’t figure out if I’m going through my normal ups and downs that happens around solstices and equinoxes. Literally, I do have sleepless nights near approaching a solstice or an equinox or am I dealing with something else? So those are always the looming questionable concerns you have but other than that I’m of good mind and health.
CB: Okay. Yeah. And I mentioned maybe… I asked if you had been tested for COVID just because I know that was one of my–
SR: And I will get tested, yeah. [laughs]
CB: Okay. That was one of my major symptoms, was just major fatigue for a couple of months that I’ve only come out of over the past two weeks. So I hope that’s not the case. But one of the reasons… So you’ve been on the show, we’ve said four or five times. The fifth just depends on one of the episodes was appearing on the panel, the ISAR panel at the last ISAR conference, which I recorded and released as an episode of the podcast. I don’t know whether that counts. Two of our episodes were actually translated into Romanian recently, which is kind of funny because our–
SR: I saw that. Yeah.
CB: –our discussion on astrology and science and astrology and religion, which was like a two-part thing we did a few years ago. But one of the reasons I wanted to have you on today is that your background is actually in and your academic degrees in college are actually in African-American studies, correct?
SR: That’s correct. Yeah. So yeah, I have my undergraduate degree in African-American studies and public relations from Syracuse University, and then I have my Masters from Temple University in African-American studies, where I also did a year of my PhD before I dropped out.
CB: Okay. So you’re not just a black American and a black astrologer, but this is part of your background and academic training is studying issues of race in America.
SR: That’s correct.
CB: Okay, cool. So let’s talk about the… Obviously, the starting point of this was the George Floyd video and what happened with that. The death or the murder of George Floyd, which happened on May 25th. And we had a very brief discussion about it, where it came up in the middle of the last forecast episode with Austin and Kelly, where we were talking about the forecast for June. And one of our listeners brought it up and mentioned it in the chat. And I had just seen the video the previous day because it was on Reddit or Twitter or something and had woken up and seen it and was really shocked and disgusted and angry by it. So I mentioned it having just seen it and Austin had just seen it and Kelly hadn’t, but Kelly had been reading about the recent murder of Breonna Taylor. And that was something that she teared up about at the time. But otherwise, it was like a very impromptu discussion and it was something we did off the cuff. And I had wished that we had had a broader discussion about it when we recorded that episode. So that’s part of what I wanted to do today and give some space for today. It seems like a lot of people… Do you feel like this has been a different moment over the past couple of weeks, where more people have been reacting more strongly for some reason than in other instances or does this seem any different to you or is this just like a repeat of similar instances like this in the past?
SR: If you had asked me that question two weeks ago, I would have said that this moment seems like parallel moments in the last 10, 15 years. People are upset, people march, people protest, and statements are made by different organizations some related to the civil rights or not. My opinion has definitely changed in the last, I would say four or five days and evolved where I think something very different is happening here. I think one thing is that there’s much more focus on what needs to happen specifically with police violence. My frustration and as you know because we’ve been connected for a number of years, but you’ve been connected with me on Twitter. I have been tweeting for 10 years on Twitter about the police and specifically even making a statement ongoing, “The police are not your friends.” Which I can unpack a little later for your listeners who are hearing that and be like, “My best friend is on the police force. What do you mean police are not our friends?” [laughs] I can definitely unpack that because that’s not what I’m saying. So to hear and see people talking about defunding the police or restructuring the police, and to hear mayors and common councils, city councils, moving to the point where that is now become a government conversation. This is dramatically different.
CB: Right. So there’s more… Maybe it’s reaching different levels or maybe the discussions are going much further at least seemingly than they have in past instances in the past?
SR: That’s correct. Yes. I do believe that there are things that are afoot now. So like I said, I mean, I am happy to be wrong because I thought two weeks ago I’m like, “Oh, you know, we’re just going to have people rallying and protesting and trying to shame cops and we’ll see what happens. It probably will go flat within a month or two.” Sounds cynical. I don’t mean it to be cynical. It’s more so just frustrated.
CB: Sure. Yeah. And then even some of the responses to the protests, it seems like in some instances, even the most generous thing that one could say is that it doesn’t seem like some of the protests that the police are doing themselves, many favors in the way that they’re responding to the protestors with additional instances of like violence or even brutality, which is really not helping to make the point that there isn’t some sort of fundamental problem with even the militarization or the orientation that the police sometimes have towards citizens it seems like.
SR: That’s correct. One of the things that… The reason why I say the police are not your friends is that for the last 50 to 60 years, what we’ve seen, especially and I’m specifically talking about the United States, I’m not trying to extend it to the whole world. But what we have seen is the proliferation of images through our media that give it a much more immediate, intimate, almost conciliatory view of the police is that they’re your buddies. They’re just like you and me. And you can start with simple things. Like why on any particular station on any given night are there possibly during the course of the whole day, 10 shows about cops, at least or even if we look at the scope of what we have on streaming or whatever media you want to use, hundreds of shows about cops. Are there no other occupations or ways of life that we can dramatize and view? But it’s kind of more of a propaganda campaign and that’s important to contextualize because why does it exist? And I think it exists because now we’re looking at… And we can see it much more vividly. We’re seeing that how we conceive of cops in media or police in media is very distinct from one’s encounter of it. And it’s definitely different for someone of color and specifically black in America. But I think more and more citizens are seeing this of all different hues. So for instance, in Buffalo, there was a protest and there was a 75-year-old man who was in the way of incoming police officers. And I think he was trying to get out of the way, but he was older and elderly and he was using his phone, he got shoved out of the way. Literally pushed down to the ground and was bleeding from his ears, white man. And I think that’s the kind of behavior that I’ve come to expect from many police officers in aggregate. And I just want to emphasize this when I say police are not your friends, I am not talking about your sister, your brother, your father, your best friend, the people that you know, but when we’re talking about the culture of a particular occupation, that has become a very different thing because it’s set up this precedent of us, which is usually the cops versus them, which is usually citizens and civilians. And it’s a militarization as you said, where it’s more like using ideas of urban combat in a peace zone.
CB: Sure. And I think it’s important like seeing videos like that one of the old man. There’s actually two videos in the past week of just old white men being pushed over. And the one guy you mentioned bleeding out of his head and being in the hospital in critical condition as a result of that. And then the police just walking past him after that instead of helping them. Videos like that I think are opening eyes. And even though I realize it sounds weird that maybe it is opening the eyes of more white Americans who don’t experience that level of systemic racism on a regular basis. And because it’s not something that they experience in the same way that a white Americans’ experience with the police might be different than a black Americans’ experience with the police. And that’s something that discussion has been opened up more, I think, for more people because you’re seeing a bit more of the other side of that or some Americans are seeing the other side of that.
SR: Yes, that’s exactly true. And it is predictable in terms of it becoming more of a systemic issue, not just in terms of racism but effecting more citizens. Why I can reference and say that with such confidence, as I mentioned, I’ve been on Twitter for 10 years. And in 2009 just after Obama had been elected, I could challenge a white conservative who kind of took issue with something like police really are… This was before the birth of the formalized idea of Black Lives Matter. I could challenge a white conservative who said like, “Well, the police are not targeting any particular people more than anyone else, particularly blacks.” I could challenge them like, “Okay, just find me three examples in the media of white people who’ve been unarmed who’ve been shot by the police. Just find me an incident. Just find me three.” And they usually would have to scrounge and they could find maybe one. And that’s like in 2009. It was also true in 2012. That would not be true now. I would not make that same challenge to any white conservative because I know they could find examples where now there are cops who also have shot unarmed white citizens as well. I don’t say that to mitigate the issue of what’s happening with black folks because there’s still more black folks who are shot and killed by the police. But I think we’re dealing with a larger issue. And I think people are recognizing this issue in terms of how police are functioning in our society.
CB: Sure. And maybe some of it’s just being documented more by the prevalence of cell phones, of mobile phones with video cameras and people recording everything. So suddenly people are able to see more often things that have always been there and that like black Americans have struggled with and tried to tell people about but where you don’t always have video evidence. And I think that’s what’s so important about the instances of the old guys getting pushed down in Buffalo that you mentioned of people being able to see that. But also that was one of the things I said on the last forecast episode that… I wanted to clarify what I said. Because I urged people to watch the George Floyd video. The video, it’s like a 9 or 10 minute video of these four police officers holding him down. And one of them strangling him by putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck and suffocating him basically. And I want to clarify that because somebody in the chat, Kira, a listener at the time put in the comments like, “Don’t share that video and black people don’t need to see that and be traumatized or re-traumatized by that because they already know things like this are happening.” And I didn’t see that comment at the time and wish I had because that was a really good point. And several listeners have written to me to say that after the fact after the episode came out. And I just wanted to clarify, I wasn’t saying share the video or that black Americans needed to see it, but actually that I did think it was useful for people that were skeptical or for other white Americans who don’t experience systemic racism on a regular basis or haven’t had those types of interactions with the police to watch the video so that they can understand what happens sometimes. And especially for people, I was concerned about people that would be only reading about it or hearing it spun or distorted in different ways in the media and might hear about it in a completely different context that they should watch the video and decide for themselves what that was and what happened in that instance and whether it was appropriate that that individual died in that way. And I think it would be really hard for most people to watch that video and walk away from it not being upset or not being angry or depressed or thinking that that was wrong and needed to change. And that was what was behind me sort of recommending that.
SR: Yeah. I think it’s also the open acknowledgement that we live in a stratified society, even more complicated than just the dimensions of race. So true to the point that Kira was making about being black. I haven’t watched the whole video. I have no plans to watch the whole video because it’s a snuff movie effectively for me. And it functions along that realm in that sense. Then there’s going to be the cadre of people who are more mainstream, moderate folks who I think you are talking to who are saying because they are only reading about it, they may not grasp the full magnitude of what you’re saying in terms of what the issue is and how it happened and other things. But I think there’s a whole other swath of people who might be 30% to more of our population who have seen the video who are more decidedly conservative. I’m not saying that only conservative but usually decidedly conservative. Who then can see the video and have a whole different conception of it, which is that, “Yeah, that cop went too far. But that doesn’t mean that this is an issue about cops, and that guy has an actual rap sheet that’s longer than like two arms. So he had it coming. He was a criminal.” That’s the mindset we’re talking about. Well, not you’re talking about, but that’s one extreme who I think we may not be able to reach without seeing the video.
CB: And I definitely was speaking more to moderates or people that maybe do watch more right leaning media and that might have spun it in a certain way. But I think in watching the video, you might have a much different conceptualization. Even just seeing the audience that post… Because one of the moving things about the video is that there are people there watching it and the people were recording it were trying their best to stop it and try to get the cops to stop, but they just weren’t able to. And it’s like you feel for those people. Like the empathy not just for the person who died but for the bystanders that were trying to stop this injustice from happening as it was happening and just weren’t able to and were being blocked. Yeah, but part of the important reason why it’s important for people to see or be aware of things like that or other instances and other videos that are being posted this week is it may be opening up the eyes of different Americans who don’t suffer from the same system or don’t have to deal with the same problems that maybe this is a bigger issue than you realize or are willing to accept. And maybe it is something that you should pay more attention to or take the word of other black Americans when they say this is something that they struggle with. There’s this really moving piece that Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote this week about his experience as a scientist and somebody that you or I might argue with about his views on astrology or something like that as you did when you went on Bill Nye’s show. But in terms of his experience as a black American was moving seeing the way that he outlined that and that even somebody of his stature or background or education or socioeconomic status has also met with similar issues and similar struggles in his life.
SR: Yeah. And there’s a spectrum because you can have him. And I think and this is my own political bias and I’m owning it as such. You could see someone like him and he gets it. Then you could have someone like Dr. Ben Carson who doesn’t. Who will see it as like, “Well, I was the wrong guy at the wrong time with the wrong cop.” And not see it in terms of the systemic issue as one can witness as he was interviewed by Jake Tapper just I think this weekend. He basically skirted around the issue of systemic racism and said that there used to be when he was growing up systemic racism, and now what we’re dealing with is something different.
CB: Sure. Yeah. Obviously, there’s so many different things we can get into in terms of that, and there’s different political views or other views surrounding this. But I did want to start by talking about that just as a general phenomenon of what we’re talking about, what we’re dealing with but also transition into talking about this from the perspective of the astrological community and from the perspective of some of the really interesting and I think important discussions that have come up over the past week, because that’s been one of the interesting things for me. So where should we start? Or do you have a feeling about what some of the more interesting things are that you’ve seen that have come up in the past couple of weeks?
SR: Well, I think, one thing I am thinking about, even with some measure of empathy, is dealing with how my white colleagues are thinking about how to talk about this. Because I think that’s important on many different dimensions. And so I think one thing I saw online and this was really interesting because I did finally track it, but at first I couldn’t figure out what was going on because just to give some context to your listeners, I went off of Twitter and social media during the month of Ramadan. So I would occasionally lurk, but I definitely didn’t respond and I wasn’t really on it that actively. So when I get back on at the end of May, which is pretty much I think it was like May 24th I’m back on. The very next day George Floyd is killed. And then shortly after that, I’m still acclimating to getting in there and seeing that, I guess an astrologer, who will remain nameless, cited work that we’re going to talk about, I think, in terms of the Venus retrograde. And they didn’t do a complete job with it in terms of fully describing the nature of what Nick Dagan Best outlined in terms of what the implication was related to the Venus cycle. And several black astrologers were offended. And I understand the level of their offense because it sounds like a white person saying like, “You’re enduring this pain and this oppression especially because of Venus retrograde.” Which is not what Nick said, which is not what I have said. But this is how it got interpreted. So that was like, “Wow, okay. So this is really interesting moment.” Especially since you and I both know Nick Dagan Best first wrote about this in 2007, and I actually have followed and tracked some measure of his work since then, and even use it in my own presentations since then. And what I can say to clarify is that Nick didn’t have to say like, “Only bad things are going to happen to black people.” And I don’t know why I’m talking like that because Nick doesn’t talk like that. [laughs] But only bad things will happen to black people as Venus is within the shadow of a retrograde or coming out of a retrograde, right? That’s not what he said, it’s not what he expouses. But what he has found is that there seems to be some kind of synchrony between these particular retrograde cycles and key events injustices that happened to black people during these particular moments in time. And that is very critical because again, it’s not saying only these times but to outline the times that may happen. So I’ll give you a very direct parallel that is kind of spooky to me. So one thing to take note of, and I did anticipate this. I anticipated that it would be a cycle of dealing with some aspect of violence related to black people during the summer of 2020.
CB: Due to the Venus retrograde partially or?
SR: Partially, yes. Now why? I didn’t think it would be as specific as it was. So one parallel to kind of draw to Trayvon Martin is killed in February of 2020 by George Zimmerman.
CB: February of what year?
SR: Did I say 2020? February of 2012. Sorry. Thank you. He was killed in February of 2012. People find out or more people find out about his murder in late March, April of 2012. And then of course there’s these protests and other things that come up related to his murder. And then of course George Zimmerman gets off. He was also a vigilante. Interestingly enough Ahmaud Arbery is killed in February of 2020. His murder comes to light in April of 2020. So we have like a synchronous moment related to the Venus retrograde that happens in 2012 in Gemini.
CB: Right. Because eight years earlier, there’s also–
SR: Eight years earlier it’s going to go on the same pattern along this time, which is going to be true also in 2028. So I think what that alerts us to is not that, “Okay, well Venus is killing black people.” That’s not the message. I think the message to understand that this is another point that America hasn’t healed in relation to a Venusian thing. And something that Patrick Watson has talked about and then also Nick Dagan Best was like, “Well, why would that be Venus? How do we get Venus in this injustice other than her connection to Libra injustice?” I think it’s more about the nature of racism. And the nature of racism is the construction of sympathy and the connection of kinship. And then by virtue of that, you’re going to have antipathy. You’re going to have where there’s a sense of disconnect. So I think that particular Venus cycle is highlighting the experience of how we have disconnect and that happens definitively on a social level. When I say social, just in terms of personal, I should say interpersonal level. But it seems like in America, it’s also clear that it seems to correlate to some spikes on a racial or other level that America hasn’t healed. So I think the pushback that some white astrologers got was it did seem like a huge reductionist idea, especially to people who hadn’t read Nick Dagan’s Best original article.
CB: Yeah. And just for clarification, it’s like, because I think there must been some tweets that I didn’t see that might’ve been pointing to the Venus retrograde in a reductive way, but I was never clear that that was necessarily being talked about pointed at Nick’s article specifically or if It was just some–
SR: Right. It wasn’t. Yeah, it may have been people. I traced it to one particular person who people have kind of crashed down on, but there may have been others that I didn’t see. Like I said, I was just kind of getting reacclimated to Twitter and coming back on. But I know at least one person who got the brunt of it. I think again, I understand both sides without justifying the person who tweeted about the Venus cycle. Because I think it might’ve worked better for them had they also had a link or relationship to Nick’s original article because he looks at it over more than one hundred years. 130 years, I think.
CB: So Nick’s article was published in 2007, originally in an NCGR journal. It was titled Venus Retrograde Cycles of Injustice. And he basically just pointed out how Venus retrogrades have coincided with important turning points involving racial injustice in the United States over the past century or two. And one of the points that he makes is he… And I sort of paraphrased him at one point to paraphrase one of his conclusions about why it was Venus. Because he just noticed the correlation and that’s one of the things Nick does. And what’s interesting about Nick’s work of course, is that he’s from Canada. So he’s like a Canadian. So he sometimes looks at US culture to some extent almost as an outsider. And that’s one of the reasons why I think it’s sometimes interesting. But to paraphrase… My paraphrase of one of his paragraphs was that the nature of Venus is to unify that which is different or divided and retrograde phases are periods where its aims are challenged with each successive one marking new shifts and ongoing struggles. In this case, the gradual but painful integration of American society. And that was one of his… Because Venus retrogrades are like his thing. And I just re-released on YouTube about a month ago our old episode 39, I think, of The Astrology Podcast, which was titled Venus Retrograde Challenging Consensus. And that was the main Venus retrograde episode we did. And at the very end of that, we actually did refer to some of his work where he pointed out where past instances of major, not just injustices since that’s something that’s happening constantly through American history, but points where racial injustices reached a really critical point and sometimes a turning point and got pushed back and sometimes led to change or led to a pivotal moment where something finally shook free. I think that’s what he was pointing out in his article primarily in terms of the Venus retrograde and why that might be tuned into that to some extent.
SR: That’s correct.
CB: So I found that article, is still up on his old blog.
SR: It is. [laughs].
CB: So I can either link to it or people can find it by searching for Venus Retrograde Cycles of Injustice. And at some point I meant to have him back on the show to talk about a little bit of that in retrospect.
SR: Yeah. Because he’s also expanded to my knowledge. He also was working with some ideas related to South Africa as well.
CB: Which is where he is living now.
SR: Yeah, where he now lives. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. So that was research you had cited in your talk that you gave last year for Astrology University. What was the title of that talk again?
SR: The Astrological Destiny of African-Americans.
CB: Okay. So that was something you had drawn on. And that was actually really good, really comprehensive talk. And I don’t think I had seen a talk that sweeping before on that topic and I think that was your first time giving it, right?
SR: No, it was the second time. So the first time I gave it was at the Metropolitan Atlanta Astrological Society in February of 2019. It was just last year. And I had a chance to do it again for Astrology University, and I wanted to do it again for Astrology University because the recording for the one in MAAS in Atlanta didn’t come out that great. So it was really hard to hear and everything. So I was like, “I have to do this again.” And so that’s what I did.
CB: Nice. Well, I’ll link to that because it can still be purchased, I think, on the Astrology University or the Fresh Voices in Astrology website. And it’s worth checking out. So that topic sort of moving on to the discussion, unless there’s anything else worth saying about that in terms of this Venus retrograde.
SR: No, not the Venus retrograde, but I guess the topic and we’ll see what you’re going to move to. I think the other topic that we’re really talking about too is still the question, how can white astrologers talk about it? Obviously, I’m also concerned about how black astrologers talk about it. One of the things like you said about Nick having come from Canada, and coming with more of an intellectual, moderately detached perspective of it, but I did have a moment even 13 years ago. I was like, “Wow, It was a white Canadian who came up with this.” Right. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t another black American. And it’s interesting because I think we’re also trying to piece together. We being black Americans, black astrologers here in America are trying to piece together our own language with astrology related to this particular moment. And how do we do that without becoming hypocritical, right, you know? Without saying like, “Oh, we come up with some reductionist model for how we talk about racism.” So that’s another challenge, another moment.
CB: Yeah. One of the things that was useful about that next article to me is because he took it so far back in history. You just see outlined in front of you in those eight year increments, just how long and how deep and how horrible the history of racism is in the United States. And while we’ve pressed– we’ve moved, not moved beyond, while there’s been some progress made in terms of civil rights, seeing how it’s tied into those broader recurring cycles to me was useful in getting insight into how this is an ongoing thing and ongoing struggle and we’re not completely past, even if we’re not where we were in like the 1900 or like 1901 or something like that. We’re still dealing with the echoes and the lingering effects of centuries of that, which just–which don’t just go away overnight or something like that. And that’s maybe something that people could draw from it that might make it useful and not simply reductive?
CB: Okay. So, one of the discussions that came up was… Or one of the great discussions that came up that came out of all of this was an astrologer named Deon Mitchell on Twitter wrote an article titled “Should white Astrologers Talk about the Riots.” And this was published on May 29th, 2020. And it was this really smart, sensitive, and well-made set of arguments that really brought up the issue of sort of warning white astrologers to be careful about how they talked about this, because it was a very sensitive time. And because it seemed like there were occasionally astrologers that were making reductive statements like saying that mercury and cancer was making people more sensitive right now. Or maybe people were saying weird things about the Venus retrograde or other astrological stuff that could be seen as very simplistic and could be putting like a weird spin or interpretation on things.
And I think that was a really important discussion to have because astrologers typically do try to connect to events with certain transits and there’s a discussion to be had about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of this sometimes. Because while sometimes it can help to give meaning or context while events are happening, there’s other times when it can come off as like ambulance chasing or tabloid ask or just distasteful. And there’s a real line between useful observation that gives meaning versus whatever the opposite is. So a couple of quotes from Deon’s article and I’ll post a link to it. But they said, “Despite many sincere efforts, it’s glaringly apparent to black people when a white astrologer does not have the range to make these astrological connections.” And then they go on and say, “As astrologers, we must ensure that we do not cross that threshold without a critical analysis of the outlook that we are ready to impose on our clients, our readers and our audience.” And they go on and ask a series of questions that like an astrologer should ask themselves such as “Do I have any unconscious biases against marginalized groups? What have I done to not only be aware of them, but to mitigate their effects in my practice? Do I have a tendency to simplify what I do not understand in astrological terms? Do I relay this simplification to my clients without an understanding of the situation without astrology?” And finally, “Am I using astrology to cope with the world around me and does using astrology as a coping mechanism enhance my practice or hinder it?” Yes, there’s a lot of good questions. And one of the things that I appreciated Deon said there like, “I don’t know the answers to all of these questions necessarily, but they are answers that people should be asking themselves and should be cognizant of.” And it was something that definitely made me want to listen more over the past couple of weeks than talk. And I think that was an important sort of realization to have. What did you think about the article?
SR: I thought it was great. I’m glad that Deon wrote it. I think at some particular point they were a little hard [laughs] especially related to the… It was an interesting moment for me because they talked specifically about the Venus issue, the Venus retrograde. And I couldn’t help but wonder if they had read the actual original article. I think that might’ve better contextualized what someone may have said in a ham-fisted way.
CB: Sure. And I forgot to–I meant to ask and should have asked if… Because I don’t know if they had that article, like next article in mind when they mentioned the Venus retrograde or if they were referring… I almost felt like they might be referring to other tweets that were going around.
SR: I think they’re referring to other people. I don’t believe… Because I haven’t talked to Deon about the actual article, but I got the impression that it wasn’t from the direct article. But I don’t know that for certain only Deon can confirm it. I hope they’re listening. And so then we can dig in from there. But what I think on a couple of different layers, one of the things I’m appreciative that has happened, I think in the last 20 years is that this has become part of a training with any astrological community. So this is something that ISAR, the International Society for Astrological Research does do in terms of consulting skills. And so that has been an ongoing thing to emphasize listening. And then one thing I’m also proud of is that in 2015, we also were… The ISAR board was able to successfully implement more diversity training within that consulting skills and ethics training. So it’s now a component or can be a component in trainings to deal with these issues and these questions related to privilege, sensitivity of understanding cultural differences, these particular things, even though it’s been part of the code of ethics in ISAR for a while. I understand that I think OPA is doing something similar the Organization for Professional Astrologers, right? And then I’m trying to think if there’s… I don’t know about in NCGR, so I can’t vouch for that, but I think there’s a growing awareness that we need to be much more attentive and careful in terms of how we deal with clients and our readers and everything that Deon brings to our attention. So I think that is important. I think you’re doing in modeling fairly well what I think needs to happen in this moment, which is listening. Rather than just… I believe it was James Baldwin who wrote either an essay and says, “white man, listen.” Right? And I think it’s really this idea, not like, “You better listen to me because I’m in charge,” but like, “Listen, because we have listened to you.” One thing I’ll say, I have two degrees in African-American studies, but one thing that’s interesting and whenever I do get into conversations about race, regardless of my “expertise” in academic background, I am quick to remind many of my white colleagues or people I’m engaging is like, I know more about your culture than you know about mine. And I know that sounds very arrogant. Some people say that’s very self-righteous, but I haven’t found it untrue, you know?
In terms of like we are in a situation where we have continuously had to learn from a very young age more about white culture and how we see the world through “European lens.” And I think… So we have listened, [laughs] but I don’t think we have been listened to as much. So I think one critical thing is to listen irrespective of where you might land. You might listen to a black person, like, “Yeah, I don’t see that, that doesn’t make sense to me.” And I think, “Okay, you’ll get there, that’s what happened. But at least you listened. That’s an important thing.
CB: Because you’re listening to their experience. I mean this… And hearing their experience of life which might be different than your experience of life. And it sort of came up. I got in an argument with somebody, a friend last night about COVID. And this sounds unrelated, but it’s sort of tying it into things where they were like, “Well, I never got sick and nobody I know has gotten sick. So I think it might just be a bit conspiracy or something like that or it might be being overblown.” Because they hadn’t had that personal experience themselves. Unless they had that personal experience, it wasn’t real in some way to them or wasn’t relevant. Whereas for me, because I was sick for a couple of months, I get kind of heated when people start talking about how it’s no big deal and people are just making a big thing. While I realized that’s not a completely comparable analogy, it’s sort of a realization that I’ve had recently that even though I haven’t had some of those experiences, I haven’t had the vast majority of those experiences because I have the privilege of being a white male in America in modern times. That doesn’t mean that that experience doesn’t exist. And that’s the reason why I should listen to other black Americans experiences, because it’s going to be coming from a perspective that I need to hear and understand, and that I don’t have access to unless I listen.
SR: Yeah, exactly. And I think the one quality that would be distinct from your experience in terms of being sick is that no one comes to you and says like, “Well, explain your existence.” Right? Which is kind of the issue of being black. It’s like, “Well, explain your experience, explain your existence in terms of like how you see it?” And then you’ll have people who’ll tell you like, “Well, it’s just because your perspective is skewed. Your culture is skewed.” In not realizing like it has nothing to do with them. It has nothing to do with whiteness or the construction of systemic racism. The other thing I have often said in terms of related to this theme of listen, as someone who has studied race and racial theory, and this was a big moment for me. I probably should go into this because it is related to not only my journey into astrology, because I’ve talked about being a skeptic in my journey into astrology, but I often haven’t talked much about what I journeyed from. So let me just go back to the point I was going to make and then give the context. What I was going to say is that I think many white people don’t know what racism is. And when I say they don’t know what racism is, I don’t mean like having experienced racism, but looked at it from an informed sociological or from the writings of sociologist or people who study and deal with race theory. And also the history of it. They think its ethnocentrism. They fail think that it is prejudice. That is just discrimination, not realizing that racism has an actual unique history. And that’s why I’ll say, well, racism starts with Europeans and they get–people get offended, which I can understand. I do it on purpose. I’m being provocative, but whatever. But I’ll say that. It’s like, it starts with Europeans. And they’re like, “Oh, that’s not true because everyone has had racism.” I’m like, “No one formally came up with the same notions of race along the ways that we’ve constructed being Caucasoid or “Mongoloid” or Negroid in the way that Europeans did in pretty much the 18th century. And then it comes more concrete in the 19th century and all these other things to now the 20th, the 21st. So that actually has a specific history. Now, why is that important related to my own narrative? Because Chris, what happened for me when I was a graduate student after my first year of graduate school. I had always taken idea of race like most white people that had always existed. I read a book by a white man called Martin Bernal. He wrote a book called black Athena and has volumes one and two. I think you would be interested in it not just because of the race, but he’s looking at the development of Hellenism and Hellenistic thinking and classical thinking in the articulation of the classics of philology, including like, we know Nietzsche was for instance, a philologist in a development in the 19th century related to philology. And in reading this book, it dawned on me in terms of the construction and centering of Greek as a Western and European civilization. I was like, “It hit me, wait, the idea of Europe and European and whiteness was created? Like that became like, that was an articulation. It wasn’t something that always existed?” And it blew my mind. And not necessarily in a positive way. And when I say not in a positive way, I mean that it made me question the whole construction of my reality, and actually ultimately got me thrown out of my program. Because I was like, “Well, if whiteness is this construct…” And we’re talking about centering Egypt as an African civilization and related to our blackness. “Then it’s the same creative license in that sense.” What we would say in terms of being formal, it’s an APOS theory reading of history, its revisionism, right? We usually say that related to Egypt, but we don’t talk about that in relationship to Greece, right?
CB: What specifically?
SR: Well, that it is… When we say that it is a European civilization that’s because Europe came to exist later as a concept not because Europe has always existed. The same thing with the concept of Africa. I was 23, 24, when I was realizing this at my Jupiter return and it prompted a fracture, I didn’t have like a psychotic break or anything, but it did prompt a fracture in my thinking that led more toward embracing Camus. I got really existential and got into existential thinking and the absurdity of life. And astrology came in my life at that particular moment as well. And I was like, “Well, astrology is just as absurd as race in that sense. In terms of it as a “construct”. And I think it gave me license to kind of fully throw myself into astrology because I was like, “I didn’t have anything else.” Because my notions about race and racial theory had been blown apart. Which is not to say that racism isn’t real. It is very real, but it’s predicated on like romantic notions of Europeans coming into their dominance in 400 years ago.
CB: So just in terms of like presumptions that you had about the world coming into things, and then suddenly realizing that some of those presumptions–they were just things you were taking for granted about the world and your worldview were not necessarily true. And then you started applying that to other areas like astrology, where you’re approaching it as a skeptic and saying, “Oh, obviously this is not true.” And then you started asking the question of like, “What if this could be true or what if it was true?”
SR: What if this could be true or whether it could be true on a different level? And I think just like racism is true on a very fundamental level, but it’s not something that is inherent to nature. And why I bring this up is that I think more and more–I hope even more and more white people have this moment of realizing like racism isn’t just this thing that’s out there that anyone can pick up, like this black person can come and become a reverse racist or that we can restructure it. I mean, I’m not saying that black people could never become racist, but at this particular point in human history, there’s not enough infrastructure or systems in place that supports that, that possibility. I think that is something that’s very challenging to hear and cope with for many white people.
CB: Right. Because what you’re saying is that there’s much broader things involved in being a racist than just an individual having prejudices or pre-judging somebody, but also there’s like many layers of institutional and economic and social and historical things to build up in terms of what racism actually means as an issue that’s still ongoing in America today.
SR: Correct. So listening is a key part of that, and I think that’s kind of the thing, even if you come to disagree with it. And what I have found… And I even saw this recently on my page with someone who is in our community, an astrologer in our community, who’s been in our community for a long time, actually, since your MySpace days, that’s where I met them. That they’re not necessarily open to listening. They kind of like, “No, I know.” And not thinking about like, “Well, what if there is another opinion, even historically another sense of experience with this?”
CB: Yeah. And just to circle back, I mean, I think that was an important thing then about maybe white astrologers paying more attention and just listening instead of trying to immediately rush to apply astrological significance and things to this was a point that was really well made by Deon. And realizing that as a white astrologer you may not be able to approach it from an angle that was sufficiently reverent and sensitive and also informed about everything that was going on that you might say something that does… You have at least a greater potential to say something that is inappropriate or offensive or just not good astrology due to that. I mean, obviously, there’s another side to that because at the same time, I don’t think necessarily anybody wants white astrologers to be completely silent when it comes to things like this because it feels like that could be problematic as well, or… Certainly, there was some black astrologers that reached out to me after we did have that very brief discussion on the last forecast and said, “Thank you for talking about that.” That all to some extent. And even though I personally didn’t feel like we went into it enough or said enough of what needed to be said, there was at least some appreciation that there was some discussion on it, even if it wasn’t as extensive as it could have been. So that’s maybe another side of it in terms of not being completely silent, but being appropriately reverent and aware of one’s shortcomings so that you are more sensitive and try to avoid some of the pitfalls that you could make otherwise.
SR: Correct. Yeah. Exactly right.
CB: All right. So moving on. So a similar issue came up recently about talking about the charts of people who have died. And there was a thread a couple of days ago about how some astrologers are finding this distasteful and it was brought up specifically in the context of Breonna Taylor, because there were some astrologers who started posting the chart of Breonna Taylor and talking about her. And she was one of the other black Americans who was murdered recently. It was like the situation was, the police did a no-knock warrant raid on her house and she was sleeping and they shot and killed her. But then it turned out that the warrant wasn’t even for her house. They had already arrested the primary suspect an hour or two earlier. So it’s like the guy was already in custody and it really wasn’t clear why this no-knock raid, where they didn’t even announce themselves or may not have announced themselves even as police officers was done. And then this woman died and lost her life in the process. So this comes up as a recurring discussion though sometimes in the astrological community, because sometimes after a person dies astrologers can sometimes be quick or sometimes be too quick to look at the chart and start talking about it. And sometimes this does come off as really distasteful or like tabloidesque or inappropriate in different ways.
SR: Yeah. So my opinion even though I know it’s very popular among many astrologers, I do not like post-mortem astrology. When I say post-mortem specifically immediately after the person dies, that there’s an evaluation of that person’s chart. Sometimes it’s as morbid as looking at that chart to figure out why do they die? Is it indicated? Which is weird to me, you know? And I do have people in my life who for various reasons may hit me up when a celebrity dies and say like, “Did Saturn kill him?” No, he killed himself. [laughs] That’s not the idea that we kind of go with because it’s
that wasn’t his first rodeo with Saturn for example.
CB: You’ve never had that impulse though or have you have had, let’s say, a loved one, even if it wasn’t in the immediate aftermath of it, that you did look at their chart to look for an angle to try and understand what was going on in their chart when they–
SR: To understand, yeah. And you actually said it in a very clear way, a loved one. Right? So it’s one thing for me to look at my mother’s chart immediately after she passes or my brother’s chart and have that in the quiet of my home and to contemplate, what are the factors or what do I see in relation to that person’s chart related to like what I know about that person’s death, but also in terms of that person’s life and what may have been happening? Becomes an act of contemplation. So I’m not knocking that in any particular sphere, but I think in the public sphere it’s kind of weird, morbid even to have this conversation about someone who’s just died who isn’t fully in the ground. And it does depend on how we focus it. Now, I think its one thing to focus on that person’s life and to look at, “Oh, I want to remember that time when he published his first book or released that album.” And look at that in relation to his chart. I think that’s a different narrative, which could happen to any of the time. But to look at their death and then say like, “Oh, look at the square between the Sun and Saturn or his progressed Lilith just right over his Pluto.” On some level, I think that’s bad astrology. Because it’s like, “Okay, is that the first time that Lilith has gone over his Pluto in terms of that person’s life?” What are we talking about here? Are we talking about just a particular moment related to their living or their deaths? So I think that’s one thing. And then that gets magnified times 10 when you’re talking about someone in a black community who’s just been killed by the police unjustly. I mean, that’s how I would feel. I’m not trying to speak for every black astrologer or anything like that, but I generally resist that morbidity related to someone just dying. Back in the day before we had threads on Twitter and I saved it did somewhere else, I did a long set of tweets on Prince and I talked more about his life. It was my way of processing my grief related to his death since I practically revered him.
CB: And that’s a really important point where sometimes that is how astrologers process grief. If somebody close to them dies where it’s personal and they have their birth chart, like a family member but sometimes if it’s like a celebrity that they really connected with on some level. So for you, that was part of your process?
SR: That was my process, the grief. And to share my perception of his life. I didn’t talk about his death. I mean, the only thing I said about his death was something before he died, which was, I said that Saturn was coming up on a square or… What was I saying? I think that he died when Saturn was in Scorpio, so I think was coming up on his Ascendant and I was like, “That’s a clear message to sit your down.” And he had an incident literally the weekend before he passed, where he had to kind of have an emergency landing related to that. I was like, “You need to slow down.” But Prince decided to have a concert that very weekend. And then the next day he died from complications related to the medication and things that he was on and for painkillers and his addiction to painkillers. So, I mean, we get the narrative, but I only mentioned that particular piece, like, “Oh, well, he was dealing with…” He resisted Saturn, which is kind of like to slow down. But I don’t think Saturn killed him, right?
CB: Sure. Yeah. And that’s a whole… There’s a lot of stuff to go into and unpack there. I mean, one thing that came up, I think it’s important that you mentioned that point where sometimes astrologers… Because I think it wasn’t necessarily an issue of white astrologers posting about this, but it was other black astrologers that were looking at Breonna’s chart. And I understand sometimes the impulse there, because sometimes astrologers do this analytical thing and that’s how they sometimes process grief. Is like they look at the astrology of it and it’s not meant to be distasteful, even if it comes off that way sometimes. But it’s something even that astrologers do privately. When I had retweeted something about… Like Kelly posted a tweet about Breonna Taylor, and there was a lot of… Her birthday was coming up and there was a lot of push to make her story more well-known and to donate to various charities and funds that were raising money for her and also to get the police to do an actual investigation into her murder and her death the other day. And it happened to coincide with her birthday where she would have turned 27. And everybody noted that there was an eclipse, a Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius that was happening then on her birthday. And it was just really notable how those two things coincided astrologically. And it seemed like there was some connection there between this push and her story suddenly coming to light much more. Because she was murdered way back in March. This was months ago now, but it was something that… Nothing had been done about up until recently. Somebody mentioned that when I tweeted that, they said, “Well, she’s 27, so she’s going into her Saturn return. And I did want to look into that because I knew it would be a border case. Just to see if that was true. Just as an astrologer to know. And looked and unfortunately it was zero degrees of Pisces. So it wasn’t necessarily the case that she was Saturn returning. But I did notice when I did that, that she was born the day after an eclipse in Sagittarius, a Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius in 1993, which I then immediately realized meant right then on her birthday when suddenly her story was coming to light. And we were seeing all these tweets on social media about people saying her name or in groups of thousands of people wishing her happy birthday just a few days ago on that Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius. That there was some weird connection there between having been born at a Lunar Eclipse and then having her story come more to light suddenly on her 27th birthday after she had passed away again under a Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius. I really debated whether or not to say anything about that because I didn’t want it to come off as tabloidesque or inappropriate or poorly timed. But at the same time, having other astrologers realize that while seeing what was happening on social media with everybody saying her name and bringing her story to light that day seemed like a really important lesson on different levels for astrologers in learning something about that astrologically while still empathizing and spreading her story and wanting to bring justice for her murder, for her death.
SR: Yeah. What I would just tag on with that, I think that sounds relatively innocuous, especially as she’s going toward her nodal opposition, which is what I call it. I mean, that’s mostly how we identify something called the 27 Club. Not that everyone who turns 27 ends up in the 27 Club, i.e. Celebrities who die early at 27 years old, which is analogous to not the Saturn return but when the nodal nodes are shifted in opposite to each other, roughly around that time. And I think to illustrate what that might mean related not her death but even as she lived and also in terms of what’s happening for her now, I think that’s relatively innocuous and important. For instance, so this man I was looking for his chart because I had printed it up, but I guess I’ve moved it. Here it is. So Edward Colston was a British slave trader in Bristol, England. And I looked him up because I wanted to know what’s going on with his chart that he had his statues effigy thrown into the river.
CB: This was just a few days ago?
SR: Yeah, by protestors. So I wasn’t trying to unpack more his “death” as much as like… Because one thing astrologers know is that your chart lives on even though you don’t, right? So it becomes like a statement of what you see. I don’t see anything that huge other than he has a transiting Mars exactly square two or he has… Actually, let me see here. What did I see? Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, he doesn’t have anything really that significant. He might have like Neptune square to his Moon depending on when he was actually born that day. I didn’t see anything remarkable, but I did look because I was like, “Well, why is this happening in this particular moment? Why now?”
CB: Right, which is the eternal question that astrologers always ask themselves in every instance.
SR: I think the why now we should focus more on the now and have an attention to that rather than thinking that we can unmask this person’s life through their death per se or by analyzing particularly things related to their death and I think in celebrating the life of Breonna, I think that would have been an important thing or is an important thing to do. One other thing I do want to say especially to your listeners who may not be familiar with this, one of the reasons why black activists and so many people are advocating about Breonna Taylor and other women who have been killed is because their stories don’t get people out into the streets as much as black men. And that’s unjust and unfair and I think that’s the important story for us to tell as well to look at the dynamics. A lot of people ask especially as they’re hearing about this like, yeah, Black Lives Matter. But why don’t you talk about black-on-black violence? Because we live with black-on-black violence in many neighborhoods every day. And by virtue of that, we are talking about it every day, right? And one thing doesn’t negate the other. One thing I’m going to devote to that I’ve seen and related to that rap sheet, George Floyd, as I understand it, also was brought up on domestic violence charges, right? He’s a black man who was unjustly killed by a white man, which doesn’t negate his life, but we also are looking at and talking about what happens within the black community. Those two things are both separate and different and verge different points.
CB: Yeah. I mean, they shouldn’t be used to distract from the primary issue of if a person gets arrested the police officer is not supposed to be judge, jury and executioner and nobody should-
SR: He didn’t know that. No, the officer who killed him, he didn’t know all those things even though he may have known George. I mean, one thing they’ve said is that they may have worked together at the same club where he was moonlighting, the cop, so that’s an interesting weird thing, but that’s one particular detail. But one thing that I’m bringing up in terms of talking about Breonna is just that it’s important to talk about these women who have also been killed as much as we have been talking about these men.
CB: Right. Another one was Sandra Bland and her story from a few years ago that was another story that got a little bit of press early on, but then fell by the wayside and nothing really happened or resulted from it as far as I’m aware. Yeah, there’s a lot of stories like that that I think was important and hearing a lot of that was important for me just as like a white American and was eye opening over the course of the past couple of weeks viewing them from a different standpoint. And I don’t know if that’s part of what’s happening now and part of the reason why this seems or feels a little bit different is maybe more people are opening their eyes or actually hearing what’s being said this time than in past instances. That’s my hope, at least. One other related subtopic to this that we’d written down our notes was occasionally the question of whether white astrologers can use as example charts the charts of black Americans and if there’s not a problem or an inherent bias that they need to be careful of or if it should be avoided versus the flip side of the coin of there’s a desire that some alleged astrologers might have in order to use charts of different people to be more inclusive and to not leave things out, not leave people out, or not leave genders or races or sexual orientations or either people from different countries out even if they’re not able to speak as authoritatively when using those example charts as somebody else might be able to and there’s two sides to that debate or that issue?
SR: Yeah, I think it requires, especially when you’re dealing with someone of a different culture, some measure of an immersion especially if it’s a culture you’re not familiar with at all really in any experiential sensibility, an immersion that goes beyond the Wiki visit, right? The Wikipedia, yeah. Not that you have to write or read a whole proliferation of autobiographies or biographies on this particular person, but I think there’s an appreciation of both context, character and the person and how those converge. One very brilliant example I can give is that Wade Caves gave a talk at NORWAC where he was talking about essential dignity and actually, he was more talking about essential durability. And he spoke on Muhammad Ali’s chart. And as those who are familiar with his tropical astrology chart will recognize that Mars is in Taurus I believe with a square to Pluto and Leo with Mars being at the top of the chart in the 10th house. And Wade talked about that Mars and Taurus in relation directly to Muhammad Ali’s experience as a black man in America and what drove him in terms of dealing with the violence that he grew up in in terms of St. Louis, Missouri. And he gave more of the picture of it. And by virtue of looking at his debilitated Mars, what he brought to the fore is that the debilitated Mars, the Mars in Taurus really gave him more by virtue of his not awkward circumstances, but his terrible challenging circumstances. It honed him in terms of pushing him toward being the fighter that he became. And that is something that you and I both know in terms of looking at especially things related to essential dignities and abilities, we often find in sports celebrities that many of them will have a debilitated planet in some prominent place.
One of my favorite examples, and I’ll come back to Muhammad Ali and Wade’s designation of it and talking about it, is Roger Federer. Roger Federer has a Moon in Scorpio, a Mars in Cancer, Venus in Virgo. He only has as the strongest dignities his Sun in Leo in the 12th house, right? But he is known perhaps as the most celebrated and favorite tennis player of all time in which is interesting because he plays against Rafael Nadal who has a Mars in Capricorn, a Venus in Taurus, I believe Mercury in Gemini. In fact, he has more planets in the Moon I think than Taurus. He has dignified planets. Now, Rafael Nadal often beats Roger Federer. But who’s known as the most celebrated player of his era? Roger Federer. [laughs] So, it’s fascinating to me and I think when I say often he beats him, doesn’t mean he always does. It just means that there’s way in which you can see the advantage of the dignity maybe, but I think what ultimately wins is what determines and creates more of the grip in the person. And so going back to Wade’s talk, he talked a good amount about Muhammad Ali’s blackness. He didn’t whitewash it and say like, well, I’m just focusing on his Mars in Taurus. He talked about how that related to him as black man. I think that’s important to contextualize. I don’t think we need to change his zodiac or his sign or make the argument that his Mars in Aries by sidereal astrology becomes more than marker by how that really matches him because you can find another example of another celebrity or another sports person and they won’t match. That’s how zodiacs work. I think it’s more so to kind of deal with two things to context within you work as an astrologer whether you are sidereal or tropical and recognizing and respecting the context of your subject of the person who has the nativity.
CB: Sure. Maybe it just goes back to maybe there’s appropriate or tasteful ways to do it. There’s an appropriate or not tasteful ways to do it and maybe it just goes back to some of Deon’s points about do I have the necessary background to be able to do this and treat it sensitively or because of my own inherent even like latent or unacknowledged biases, will I perhaps portray this person’s life in a way that’s not truthful or not fully accurate if I don’t know enough about that person, if I just have a very surface level of understanding?
SR: Correct. And let me just illustrate something too in anticipation of perhaps listeners or readers who look at your transcript and say like, well, it’s two ways, right? It cuts both ways. It doesn’t really. I’ll give an example. Let’s work with Sting’s chart, the musician and singer, right? Now, the only exception might be that there might be a Brit, because Sting is British, who probably has a lot more grit and feel perhaps for where Sting grew up and how he experienced his life. But as a black American to another white American, we’re actually on some level equal, you know? He’s white, Sting. You don’t know as much about his life. On some level, like I said, I do because I’m “minority” so most of my world, in my education, in my experiences will parallel any white person to some degree except minus to privilege. But in terms of education, culture, exposure to most degrees, we’re completely on parity. But it may not be that someone white knows as much about Muhammad Ali’s experience in the grip of it and how he grew up and what he had to deal with because that’s not part of their experience or his parents or their parents’ experience. But yeah, that’s pretty much it.
CB: Sure. Yeah. I mean, it goes back to that point that you made at the beginning of the episode which is just that sometimes black Americans are more immersed in white culture and have a greater understanding of it due to constant exposure to it than white Americans might have about black culture because they’re not as immersed in it or not. It’s not as ever present surrounding them in a way that would give them a deeper understanding that might be necessary.
SR: Right. Exactly, right. That’s the critical issue.
CB: Sure. Yeah, that’s definitely important to consider. So, moving on because I know we’ve run a time limit here and there’s a few topics I wanted to touch on, there’s been some really promising things that I feel like have happened in the astrological community over the past week or two. One of them that I wanted to point out and highlight that was really cool to see over the course of the week and especially culminated on a specific day was an astrologer named Six who on Twitter she goes under the handle @blackwomencry, but she organized a fundraiser with a number of different astrologers and other readers like tarot readers raising money for the Black Lives Matter movement and related charities and through that-
SR: With Deon, in fact. I think Deon was actually instrumental in that as well. But go on, I’m sorry.
CB: Yeah, and I should have written that down. Deon was definitely involved and there were several other readers involved and they did it under a Twitter handle called SpiritualSolidarity which is @TheSSCoven and they used the #spiritualsolidarity, all one word. But if you pull that up, this is just a rough estimate, but they were able to raise and they’re still counting but roughly $1,200 to give to charities, which is just really amazing just through astrologers doing voluntary readings.
SR: Yeah, charity specifically to helping to bail out protesters and also to support black live movements throughout the nation.
CB: Right. And I actually misstated that. It was $12,000, not $1,200.
SR: Yeah, okay, okay. Yeah, I thought I saw something more than that, but yeah. Yeah. I know a couple of astrologers, Deon, Six, also, Alexis Duong was involved with that. I missed some of this tweeting about it so she was the one who actually mentioned it to me. I was like, oh, that’s really cool. I know Wade has also donated some money from his readings to this as well, so I’m sure there are other astrologers who I don’t know are doing this as well so it is a very cool, organic thing that happened.
CB: Yes, Six told me that there is at least 40 astrologers and other readers who are officially designated people that were part of it and who volunteered. Basically, what they’re doing is consultations and then they were donating the money to different charities related to Black Lives Matter and related movements. That was a really cool thing to see and it was a way of seeing astrologers get active and trying to use astrology to help and to raise money for causes that were needed in order to offset or try to fix some of these things. All right. And in terms of that, that’s also something that you’ve been actively working on in the long term and that’s been one of your things that you’ve tried to do is to try to bring more black astrologers into the community because for a long time like let’s say 10 years ago, it seemed like there was a question… When I came in, for example, to the astrological community, one of the questions was where all the young astrologers and the Pluto and Leo generation was wondering like is this the last generation or where are all the young astrologers? But there was a similar question in that timeframe which was like, why weren’t there more black astrologers and authors and speakers in the astrological community? And when I did an interview with Alan Oken like a year ago, I was interested when he said there was a group of black astrologers that he had met in New York in the 1960s, but I had never heard of that and I wonder what happened to them. Yeah. That was something that you though were confronted with or wrestled with over the past year during the course of your career?
SR: Absolutely. I’ve written on it. Anyone who wants to check my blog, it’s called an open letter for African Americans about astrology, something like that, where I talk about what might be the issues related to this lag in terms of development and articulation of astrology in the wider community. Now, that’s very important because if you take some statistics that have been published, Harris polls from 2000 and then again, I think the other one is 2009, there are more black people who believe in astrology in America than white, than almost any other ethnic group that’s listed like Latinos or white people. That’s really jarring especially for me to read. I know this because I have at least 70% to 80% of my clientele is black. But it’s jarring to me because it’s like, well, like you asked, where are they? Where we have been is a couple different nuances, right? I know this is a general question that can be applicable to Asian astrologers, to Latinx astrologers. All of this is changing, fortunately, but these are the questions we could ask. When I say Asian astrologers, outside of Japan and China and India. In America, right? In terms of the black community, I think one of the issues is related to religion. There’s still a stronghold of religion within our community either from Islam or Christianity, which both frown on astrology. I think there is also the economics. When economic slant to that is… Well, if you’re going to go to college and you’re going to spend all this money to be in a school, shouldn’t you be in something that also makes a good amount of money? And as you and I both know, you don’t necessarily make the same amount as an astrologer as you might make with a law degree or an engineering degree or some other degree, so I think some black folk really shy away from getting in it professionally because they don’t see it as a money-making thing.
The other thing related to money is the amount of investment that’s required to become an astrologer both in terms of being able to take the classes, to go to the conferences, all these other things that are important related to becoming an astrologer and developing those skills. I think there is still a very large number of practicing black astrologers that don’t enter the mainstream though, believe it or not, mostly because either they feel like they will be shut down and some are shut down in public “integrated spaces”. And it may not just be about “their race”, but if they try to address particular issues or they have a different take or a different perspective on things, then it’s like, well, who are you and what do you know, where do you come from, blah, blah, all these other particular questions, so they don’t want to deal with that. I know several astrologers who’ve gone through that, black astrologers.
CB: Right. Which is something we saw a little bit of this week where sometimes when black astrologers would express their experience or their views or something, sometimes there would be white astrologers that would come out of nowhere to challenge them on that or try to engage them in an argument about those issues, which I could see how that would be very tiring and annoying.
SR: Right. They’re like, I’m going to deal with that and you go into different forums and have that experience. Then there’s another Qadri within that who believe that, and this gets into a different narrative that I know you’re sensitive to because I know you’ve studied it a lot, well, why people stole it. And so, stole the astrology, the Greek starting from the Greeks, so why should I participate with them for something I believe that they stole? Again, we’re not going to get into a historical discussion about it because we don’t need to, but that is the feeling, the sentiment that many will have because I’ve actually had those debates and arguments and discussions with folk like that. I think that is another thing that informs it. And I think related to that last thought and then I wrap that part up, I think the other thing is just dealing with some aspects of the racism that happens within the community, not just in terms of being a forum. For instance, the first time I went to an astrology conference in New York City, it was a NCGR, relatively small when they’re seasonal conferences. I was the only black person there, which I was used to because I’ve been in situations growing up where I was the only black person which is okay. This would have been oh, I want to say 2001.
CB: Okay, so almost like 20 years ago? That’s part of the context of the discussion of how much things have changed in the past five years versus when you came in and even 10 years ago, how different things were.
SR: I was the only black person there and I have two monumental events that happened that I remember. When I say monumental, I mean one definitively shaped me a lot more. This other one I never forgot. The smallest one I’m related to the racism was that I got on escalator after three white women had gotten on because we were going to lunch. And as I stepped on, one looked behind to look at me and then I saw her literally clutch her back closer to her. And I was like, okay. And I literally didn’t show any reaction. I just observed it and I was like, oh, so this is here, too. Now, the good part of that story is that I later became friends with that woman. I never brought up that situation, but that’s a statement that we got beyond that moment. But I never forgot her in that encounter because I was like, oh. And she has a particularly striking feature about her that makes her stand out so I was just like, okay. That’s all I can remember her years later when we became friends.
The other big moment is due to Robert Zoller. And Robert Zoller, he was giving a presentation. And during his presentation, he said, “Well, we have the Moore’s to thank, those people, darker skin people from north south of Europe and east of Europe, to thank for the astrology that we commonly practice, otherwise, we would still be huddled in caves.” And I literally looked around to the predominantly white audience, exclusively white audience, like did this white man just say what I thought he just said? That really happened? Wow, who’s he? And it set me on a journey to not just learn more what he was talking about because I did know that history. I did know that from being an African American studies major, but I never heard any white person say that and I didn’t actually know that part about astrology is history. It made me curious about medieval astrology and so that set me on a journey related to medieval astrology signing up for his foundations’ course, which now we later know was a scam on him, unfortunately. Allegedly, we don’t know if that’s necessarily true. That’s what he said, right?
CB: Certainly. Zoller’s position was that somehow, he ended up signing over the rights for his course and some website was selling it and he claimed he didn’t receive any of the proceeds, but that was like the only place you could study it for a long time because his health declined due to Parkinson’s and-
SR: That’s correct. I saw evidence of Parkinson’s when he gave that presentation. Yeah. He was instrumental in bringing me towards traditional astrology because even though I was interested more in learning more astrology and maybe even going towards certification, I wasn’t certain about that because I had reached my fill with what we now dub as psychological astrology and I wasn’t sure like, well can astrology do anymore? Is there more to it? Was it beyond what Freud and Jung say? And that’s where I got a splash of that and then it led to all these other things. I think that was one positive moment that was transformative for me, but not everyone has that experience especially everyone black. I think it’s been difficult for a lot of black folks before recently.
CB: Yeah. And I think that’s why your work has been important over the course of the past decade and while we’ve seen some changes, for example, at conferences through your effort to create diversity scholarships for attendees in order to make it possible and to try to encourage people from different backgrounds to be able to attend astrology conferences. And when did that start? Because it hadn’t been at least five years ago that you did the first. Okay.
SR: It is five years ago. Yeah, five years ago. I want to say that it’s a case of the rising tide lifts all boats. What’s interesting about this development related to multiculturalism in the astrological community related to especially race, but it’s also come through gender and gender politics. The LGBTQ community has been instrumental in also getting more that sense of awareness, people, pathfinders like Demetrius Bagley who straddles two or multiple worlds both as vegan as queer and gay, but also black. He’s also been a partner with me with this. Also, in terms of the people who helped to find and found queer astrology and all the dimensions related to that, so I think that has created a fertile ground for something like NORWAC’s diversity scholarship to happen. I wanted just to give a context to your listeners. Laura Nalbandian talked to Nicholas Polimenakos who’s a Greek and I think Ecuadorian but Latin heritage about developing a diversity scholarship both in terms for gender equity, but also in terms of racial and cultural equity. And she asked, “Do you have any suggestions?” He suggested me and we just had like a dynamite talk about what we could do and how it could happen and we had our first entries and then it blossomed. And what’s fascinating and she didn’t know this or maybe she did, I was having similar conversations with the ISAR board about diversity and having conversations with at least one board member who felt like, well, why do we need to do extra to bring other people into the community? No one’s barring them from coming. If they don’t want to come, that’s on them. Right? It’s not like we should have to do the extra work to be “inclusive”. This person is also against affirmative action and didn’t see the need for doing this particular kind of work.
And one argument that they made that has always stuck with me was that doing that kind of thing won’t really enhance the community as much as just give someone a free ride. What triumphs that, what really demonstrates to complete perfidy of that is that the very next year at NORWAC after we had given a scholarship to a black trans man, that same man, don’t think of mine I didn’t identify him, Zion Gray who was my roommate the first year at NORWAC for the diversity scholarship, came back the next year, rented a room of his own at the hotel for the conference a suite even and then used that suite to host and comfort and support the next round of diversity scholarship winners. And again, he did it all on his own. I’ve been seeing this train running and growing and elongating and now we see where NORWAC is where it has some of the greatest amount of diversity, I see both in terms of speakers and attendees of any astrology conference.
CB: Right. Definitely, yeah. And that was really the most clear in the last NORWAC but even just like last year and that was something I saw even in my work with the Association for Young Astrologers over a decade ago when I was still president just creating a space to bring people in and helping to bring people in and get them established and give them some connection with the community builds and snowballs on itself and that’s why that work is important. Even if there can sometimes be pushback from people who say it’s open to anybody or anybody could join, but really creating the momentum for that is sometimes something that’s necessary and can help to accelerate the process and that’s why it’s really useful and important. Yeah. Let’s see. That brings us to a question I want to make sure we cover before we wrap up which is, what else needs to be done or what can be done in the astrological community in general in order to help balance things out or help rectify any issues that still exist in terms of let’s just say one piece of that puzzle which is like race and diversity in the astrological community?
SR: It’s for more conference organizers to recognize the importance of diversity for more summit speakers, or summit organizers to recognize the importance of diversity.
CB: Sure. Beyond conferences, are there any things that can be done even outside of conferences or just in the astrological community in general? I’m talking about some of that in terms of being sensitive to understanding the cultural context of things to train to develop a better background especially if you’re using example charts of people or if you’re talking about issues related to black lives and treating that with the appropriate amount of reverence and sensitivity. I mean, I’ve been trying to think about that myself over the past couple of years.
SR: I’m sorry to interrupt you. But to answer your question, I would say that I think it’s important also for those astrologers who have developed a practice, I’m not putting the onus on these people just starting out, but whoever developed practice to advocate and promote people of color. One of the things that I will always have a shoutout for Chani Nicholas. She has also been concerned as her star has risen in terms of not just talking about the issues for people of color but also, in terms of promoting people of color. I can say the same thing for Jessica Lanyadoo in terms of what she’s done in promoting in talking about people of color. I think one of the things that established professionals can do is to give some shoutouts to people that they like and read. And I think that’s really important that they like and read because we did have an incident on Twitter where someone gave a shoutout to follow black astrologers that they weren’t following. That can lead to some really awkward moments. You have to be sure [Sam laughs] that you are also talking the walk and walking the talk as you’re seeking to be an ally and that’s not a performative
CB: Yeah, not just paying lip service to it, but putting it in action. And that’s a really good point about Chani and Jessica because they’re two people that it’s been interesting seeing the media because they have become prominent like so prominent that they sometimes get referenced in mainstream publications like the New York Times or the Guardian, both of which have cited Chani over the past year, but they took shots at her and they attacked her for being more open with her political views or political stances as being like “woke astrologer” or something like that I think is what this one article referred to her as, but then it’s like in being more open with her political stances and stuff, that’s given her the freedom to be able to promote some of the right causes and to take the moral stance in many instances much more openly and that’s not something that she should be castigated for or that people should be taking shots at her for because she’s actually doing important things that’s like necessary work that needs to be done.
SR: Right. And she’s been doing it for years. I mean, she’s not like some John come lately, and just popped up and said like, oh, I’m going to take advantage of this woke moment. I’ve known Chani and so have you for a while. I think she first came to ISAR 2014 and came across her newsletter I think probably in 2012-2013 and then met [unintelligible 00:34:49:35] and really got to know her more at the Queer Astrology Conference that Ian Waisler, I wanted to give him a shoutout too, organized. So, there’s been this build and I think it’s important to see these people like Chani like Jessica who’ve been doing it for a long time and so they’re not just woke because that’s the vogue. That’s what they are.
CB: Yeah. And that’s been something I’ve been reflecting on a lot because for years, I’ve tried to take more neutral political stances publicly partially because of like 10 years ago, when I was still doing the political astrology blog and Patrick Watson and I were issuing political predictions, I always found it weird when you would see an astrologer who was very overtly political constantly posting political opinions on their Facebook page and then suddenly, they’d issue a prediction for a presidential election and it happened to align with whatever their political view was incidentally, which is something that’s commented on a lot in the astrological community. And for that reason, I tried to adopt a more neutral political stance and that was something that’s then always lingered in the podcast even though I’ve still tried to provide coverage and cover and talk about things like the Queer Astrology Conference and having Ian on or other “political” or moral or social issues going on in the astrological community. But in recent times with things that are going on, I’m realizing the shortcomings of attempting to maintain “neutrality” when it comes to actual moral issues like saying something as simple as that Black Lives Matter or something like that. And while I realized that might result in some pushback, for example, about many of the things we’ve talked about in this episode, I don’t feel like I can stick with that pure sense of neutrality anymore in the way that I’ve tried to more in the past.
SR: Yeah, that’s something that Dr. King talked about in terms of that idea of being neutral really becoming the way that silence becoming permission in terms of what can happen with evil. And I think there are ways in which we can function with some elements of neutrality or respect. I always try to be respectful of people in my audience, especially when I don’t know, other than NORWAC where I know most people are progressive. I always address the president as the president, President Trump, right? Acknowledging that he is the president. I don’t have to call him any bad names or anything negative even though that’s not someone I voted for. I think there are ways in which we can cultivate respect across divides without kind of, yeah. Yeah.
CB: Or acknowledging other points of view or other political points of view or what have you and still acknowledge that or have those debates.
SR: Yeah. And I think there’s a way in which we can create more civil discourse, but I think it requires more, ultimately, a give and take and I think this is the moment where we probably do need whites to give more attention, right, I think in terms of no particular issue. I do want to drive this home. As much as we talk about, yes, Black Lives Matter and in terms of what’s happening with the police, all of that is true. I of course support it and have supported it in different permutations for pretty much most of my life. But I think, as Americans, as we’re approaching the Pluto return of our country, I think it’s important to realize that we’re not just talking about this as simple black and white issue, but an issue that has started with black Americans, but could spiral to all of us. I’m trying to remember the comic who said it, maybe it was D. Gregory, if in America, whites catch a cold, blacks get pneumonia, right? So, anything that is going to be detrimental in terms of the US, more often than not, the hardest hit community is going to be the black community first. AIDS hit our community and the gay community first. Drugs, the issues related to drugs in our community, first. Guns, all the ways in which we have gun violence in our community, first. But now, there’s an opiate crisis. There’s a gun crisis in America, all these other things. These were things and issues that black Americans were dealing with 30 years ago, 40 years ago so these are bound to become more American issues, not just them or me.
CB: Sure. In trying to figure out, because one of the main things is I’m an astrologer and that’s been my background, that’s what I focused on and I really put a laser focus especially on ancient astrology and so, so much of my background has been on that and I’m not a community organizer or somebody that has a background in social justice or other things like that so I was trying to think though what I can do in terms of my community aside from having discussions like this one and just talking about the issues within the astrological community and starting those discussions which is the purpose of this episode of the podcast. In seeing some posts and a couple of videos that Six put on her Instagram and Twitter page last week where she was talking about some of her struggles as a black woman and a professional astrologer, one of the things that I thought about is wanting to see more, well, we’ve seen this huge shift over the past five years, I would say, in more black astrologers coming into the community and more professional astrologers also maybe gaining more visibility due to social media, I’d like to see more black professional astrologers making it as astrologers like you and I have as full-time professional astrologers and having success with that. One of the things I’ve been thinking about wanting to do and we’ve been talking about prior to this podcast was having scholarships, for example, for my professional astrologer course where I’d like more black astrologers to apply potentially for free scholarships for that so I can give people the guide of what I did and what was successful for me in order to make it as a full-time astrologer and asking people maybe to email me and just tell me about your background and what your aspirations are with astrology so that there’s some application processes of what you were thinking I should do, but in order to at least try to whatever extent I can to support more astrologers coming into the community in that way and actually getting a good start or getting a shortcut in the way that I did to some extent. Does that make sense for you?
SR: It does make sense and I hope that this happens with more astrologers and more organizations. We’ll see what’s going to happen with ISAR 2020 if that’s not going to become ISAR 2021. But one of the things that ISAR is working on, and I’m hitting it up but we’re still trying to figure out what’s next, is not just diversity scholarship, but a scholarship that is attentive to diversity. So that is one other particular thing that… We need more organizations. I don’t know what NCGR is doing. I don’t know. I can’t speak about OPA if they even see it as important, but I think that’s a conversation that we can have more. One thing I would like to say that I think I’m uniquely in a position to say too, I think I want to say something through your broadcast and your podcast if it’s okay. I want to say something to black astrologers and I want to say to black astrologers coming in that bring the funk, bring the noise, right, just be colloquially and address it, but I think also be clear on what you want in terms of not just your career as a “astrologer”, but also know if it’s tying in tarot or other things, be clear on your trajectory. And why I think this is important, one thing I have seen and I’m seeing from different astrologers is that they can set themselves up as a certain polarization where they become polarizing. And I don’t mean polarizing by virtue of talking about race, but polarizing in terms of wanting to talk about race in a way that almost seems weaponizing it and to say that, okay, we’ll, we’re going to come in and I don’t want to have to deal with white people talking about astrology this particular way and whatever, not recognizing that we’re trying to create a community. I’m not trying to integrate, but more so to create a space where we’re listening to each other rather than just being like, you don’t know my pain. Okay. Well, it’s also going to be important for you to start vocalizing it rather than just talking about who’s causing it and expressing it. We’re at one stage of this, but this also has to grow. This has to blossom. Because I spent years fighting white astrologers, in forums, Myspace, on Facebook until I had to realize that another part of my work was also doing two things, working within the dynamic of my community that I started with Dayna Lynn Nuckolls, the International Society for Black Astrologers, which is for black astrologers, mainly on Facebook right now, but we are thinking about taking it off that now Demetrius is also involved as an active moderator. And that is directly just for black astrologers, but I’ve also been working with the International Society for Astrological Research. So, it’s realizing that on some level, and that was my goal, that was my intention. Now, if you’re someone who’s coming into the community and you just want to work with black folk, then you don’t have to worry about dealing with white folk unless they come to you. But if you also want media attention, you want to be on Astrology Podcast, if you want to be on these other things, you can’t talk about like… Well, they don’t recognize me as a black man this particular way and a black woman in this particular way if you just set it up that you just want to be solo and you want to create your own brand and idea. You can’t have it both ways.
CB: You’re just encouraging people to work both within their communities, but also try to work within other communities as well to try to bridge that gap to whatever extent they can?
SR: If that’s their intention. Now, maybe there’s some black astrologers who just want to focus mainly on the black community, which is fine and fair. But then you can’t say like, well, I’m shut out of the white community. You haven’t even tried to be in it.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that dynamic comes up in whatever different special groups are. With young astrologers, I would sometimes hear similar things like that in terms of different dynamics of what you put your focus on if you’re trying to focus on younger astrologers versus interacting with older generations of astrologers or bridging the gap. And it’s okay if you just want to interact with your peer group of young astrologers or let’s say, black astrologers or whatever your specific peer group is or that you consider it to be, but I’m sure, yeah, different individuals are going to have different orientations in terms of what they’re trying to accomplish and maybe you’re just saying try to identify and be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish or what you want to do.
SR: Yeah. And I think there’s some people who do this fairly successfully. Maybe you could say, yeah, maybe I have, but another person is Miz Chartreuse, who I have shouted out before. Chartreuse has kept fully her blackness, right? You just have to meet her and talk to her once to know that. But she also has been able to navigate and negotiate between multiple worlds with it as well. I think Deon is also as young as they are managing the aspect of their blackness, but also negotiating in terms of other spaces with other people. I think Diana is also doing that as well. I think why I’m seeing that with them is because they’re clear. Mecca Woods is another brilliant example, you know? So, I think it’s important to recognize that. Just say what you want and mean what you say. That’s the basic thing that I’m saying. I hope that’s clear. I don’t know if that sounds cryptic.
CB: Sure. Yeah, just in terms of being clear about what change you want to have. And then sometimes, one of the things that I learned during the course of my career as an astrologer is sometimes there’d be instances where it was clear that something needed to be done and people would stand around waiting for somebody else to do it, not realizing that sometimes you just have to step up and do that thing if you see some change that needs to happen and if you sometimes take the first step, you’ll find other collaborators who join you. It seemed like such a simple insight, but it was something I’ve seen repeated over and over again in my career even just after NORWAC where it was their first time doing an online conference and they did the closing ceremony and you gave that amazing speech at the end, but then it was just over and there was no social rooms after that. So that night, I was like, why ain’t there any social rooms? Somebody should do that. And then I realized nobody was going to do it so I just opened up a zoom chat and then a bunch of us, you joined us that night and maybe 15 or 20 other astrologers joined us that night to talk and socialize like you would after the end of a conference. But it probably wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t realized, yeah, that I’ve got to step up and do that thing. And there’s probably other instances like that where other people listening to this, if there’s something like that, where you’re like that would be a good thing if that existed. If it’s within your power to do it, then try stepping up and doing it and you might be surprised at the results.
SR: Right. To put yourself out there, step up and step in. That’s the key message I’m conveying rather than to step out because you didn’t get what you didn’t even fully describe or be clear on what you wanted. And I think that is something I have seen often again. I can give an example because I don’t think it really matters because I don’t think she really cares, but this going into our history and for those listening, Chris and I have been connected and debated in different permutations for I want to say 17 years, at least 2003-2002.
CB: Yeah. I started the Myspace group in 2005 when I was 20, so I think we met in 15.
SR: Yeah, so it is 15 years. It is if you just started in 2005 because I know I was active in Myspace and I thought at least in 2004. My point is that you and I knew, I thought and still think a brilliant astrologer, black astrologer because it’s also important to talk about precedents and names because we don’t even know who we’re talking about in the ‘60s from Alan Oken. There was an astrologer whose name is different now. He’s changed his name. I don’t know if you know that, Mu’Min Bey. Mu’Min Bey changed his name. He’s now something Mumia Ali, I think. But Mu’Min Bey was another black astrologer who was coming on the scene as I was and he would inveigh about not getting enough respect from the larger community of astrologers, but he also didn’t give much respect, right? He was also very polarizing. And I don’t just mean polarizing in terms of opinions because you could talk about polarizing opinions, but I think there’s a way in which we also can talk with each other that can be respectful and I think that’s important. And I don’t know if he ever was clear on his endgame on what he wanted in terms of how people should come together. That’s what I mean in terms of being clear on what you want and the direction you want to take it. And sometimes you might even think when the community seems to shut you out or some things go wrong as you differ. You have in your list Basil Farrington. Basil Farrington wanting to start a school in South Africa. I think things went wrong with it and you said well, he went towards music. I think Basil went more towards his music out of a sense of comfort and perhaps, maybe he had a broken heart, I don’t know, not related to his personal life, but related to things that happen in the community.
CB: Yeah, he was just one of the big up incoming black astrologers in the 1990s and early 2000s and I think he published a book and he was very well connected with Noel Tyl, but then it seemed like he hadn’t been as active in the community or not on the lecture circuit or other things over the past 10 or 15 years. Although he does still actually have a very active blog. He’s still active on it. We should try to talk him into getting on Twitter actually is what I was thinking the other day. Was he? Okay. I’m not going to get into that.
SR: No, I think we’re still friends on Facebook, but he blocked me on Twitter because that’s his own thing and his own choice because I called him out on saying there shouldn’t be anything like malefics or benefics. Yeah, yeah. But we’re still friends in another outlet so I don’t think that’s an issue per se. I don’t know, he just didn’t want to hear what I had to say.
CB: Astrologers have debates and things get heated. That’s the nature of being an astrologer.
SR: Right. Yeah. You and I would never know that, right? [laughs]
CB: No. Yeah, everybody has debates. To tie that back into what you were just saying though before that, and again, sorry to keep referring to this because it’s just one of my formative experiences or only analogies that I can make. But back when I was a young astrologer, sometimes when you have outsider status, it’s easy to criticize the establishment or what you see is the establishment. But when that gets flipped and you get put in the driver’s seat, sometimes it’s harder to make some of those calls. I just remember being a young like early 20s astrologer and at one point I was criticizing the Association for Young Astrologers for something they were doing and they flipped it on me and they said, “Okay. Well, why don’t you join the board then and you can make those changes as you see fit?” And then suddenly, I was in the leadership role through them putting their hand out to me and I tried to make some of those changes, but also realized how difficult it was sometimes to be in a leadership position and did what I could to make as much change as I could during my time on the board or eventually as president. But yeah, sometimes if somebody in the leadership position reaches out to you and gives you an opportunity like that, it can be a good leg up so I’ve always tried to do that to people. But seeing that dynamic, sometimes it’s easier as an outsider to be critical, but try to be careful not to burn bridges as much as you could sometimes because sometimes even if you get in a fight or even if you’re criticizing or calling something out that’s worthwhile or necessary that needs to be called out, there’s like a respectful way to do it and there’s like a burning all bridges or all fields way to do it. No. Moses Siregar was the first president for a while, and then Mark Kunzel was the president for a while, and then I was the third president after that, then Austin became president and then Daniel Larkin is the current president.
All right. Let’s wrap this up with some of the promo things I wanted to mention. People, email me if you want to and send like a bio and tell me about your background and aspirations if you’re interested in joining the professional astrologer course because I’d like to give out some scholarships for that to black astrologers for free. Other than that, you mentioned the Facebook group, the International Society of black Astrologers, which people can Google. I’ll also put a link to that. And you guys might be expanding some of those efforts soon and Demetrius has been getting involved with you and Deon on that.
SR: Yeah. Yeah, Demetrius has mainly been the moderator on it and we’re looking to take it offline and crystallize it into something more. And so, you can find us on Facebook, looking up International Society for Black Astrology. And I do want to emphasize this because we get weird requests. It is for black astrologers, astrologers of African descent or black. That’s very specific because I’ve had some Indians, I’ve had some white people like no, you know? And we ask, by the way. There’s a question now you can ask. And we’ve had some people who are like, “No, but my children are black.” No, it’s for black astrologers.
CB: Sure, yeah. And I think that’s important like groups. I hope there’s not pushback on that because I remember when there was pushback on the Association for Young Astrologers and people would say like, well, I’m an old astrologer. Does that mean you don’t like me or something like that? That’s like, no, it doesn’t mean that. It just means sometimes it’s nice for people with different groups to be able to have a support network for other people they can connect with that are coming from the same experience or the same peer group and somewhat.
SR: That’s right. That’s exactly what it is. That’s just to cultivate that so people feel that level of support and many of our members who are active in other ways. Like Taylor Cade is also active in the community as a public astrologer, Demetrius, me. It’s not like you’re just segregating yourselves. We’re not segregating ourselves. We’re just building a support group for ourselves.
CB: Right, exactly. And it seems like it’s the same with even the phrase Black Lives Matter that people sometimes hear that and they think it means only Black Lives Matter when it’s more like Black Lives Matter too in something that’s not being emphasized properly sometimes in society. In terms of that, I wanted to mention that because I was looking for just a good page to list some of the different charities and some of the different groups that are doing important work in terms of that and the best website I found the URL was something like blacklivesmatter.carrd.co/donate and I’ll put a link to this in the description because it links to both Black Lives Matter, but it also links to a bunch of different charities and a bunch of different groups that you can donate to that are doing different work in terms of both the protests and in terms of bail funds, which is something a lot of people have donated to over the past week, but also to legal funds to mutual funds to different community organizations, different national organizations including some of the larger ones that are more well-known like the NAACP as well as other national organizations. Are there any organizations like that that you really think are doing good work or that you wanted to give a special shoutout to or something like that?
SR: Not offhand, but I also will send some links to you as well and some of the things that I have since I didn’t have a chance to do that for you, but I’ll send that so you can have that for the podcast as well. I think the other thing I will say is that it’s important for people to also educate themselves. They can look at different books, both old and recent one telling books to listen or listened to or if you want to do audiobooks. I think it would be good to read Martin Luther King Jr.’s last book which is Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Because I think some people have this image of Dr. King from 1963 which was not the same as the Dr. King in 1968 when he died so I think that is an important book. I think one of the book that I’ve seen an author and I’ve watched the video and just parts of the book. white Fragility by Robin DiAngelo I think would also be a very good book for people to read it to understand whiteness in a racist context. The History of white People by Nell painter is another book I would recommend. Those are good starts. There’s definitely more but I think that’s some way to get a conception of this whole moment.
CB: Sure, yeah. If you want to put together a page or anything, I can definitely link to it on the description page for this episode either below the YouTube video if people are watching the YouTube version or on theastrologypodcast.com website for this episode, I’ll put a link to a bunch of stuff that we’re talking about as well. And in terms of your work, your website of course is still unlockastrology.com. I did want to mention that one talk you gave that was very good for astrology university or for the fresh voices in astrology was titled the astrological destiny for astrological Americans. Sorry, sorry, yeah. Yeah, sorry. It’s been a two-hour discussion here so I’m starting to lose my words. I’m sure you are, too. People, do a Google search. I’ll put a link to that. People can buy the recording for that. You also did a talk for the Association for Young Astrologers last summer that they recently were promoting that. What was that talk?
SR: The race justice in the US Pluto return. Yeah. Anyway, I was very gracious enough to make that accessible for everybody. I think you might have the Zoom link, but I can also send that to you. I have that.
CB: Okay. Yeah. And I’ll put a link to that. And do you have any events or anything coming up in the future?
SR: I do. I mean, I don’t know when people are going to be watching this. I do have something on Thursday for the Astrological Society of Connecticut and I’m talking about the nightmarish houses, the scary houses, the sixth, eighth and 12th. I have a spin on it that I think makes them less nightmarish, right, and to better understand why those meanings are ascribed to them and then what we can do to call the wisdom that those houses can bode for us.
CB: Awesome, cool. And that’s for you said the Astrological Society of Connecticut?
SR: Connecticut, and it’s going to be a zoom meeting. I mean, it’s supposed to be live but evidence via zoom now and so it’s free and they made it open to the public. I can send you the link for that as well, next Thursday. One of the things, I work with the International Academy of Astrology and we’re having an Astrologers’ Roundtable. The Astrologers’ Roundtable is going to be me, Chris Turner, the great Chris Turner, and Alexis Duong, Ed Perrone. I think I feel like I’m missing a name. I think that’s it. We’re going to be talking about the other great conjunctions meaning that we’re going to talk about the Uranus-Neptune conjunction to Uranus and Pluto conjunction, the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction that’s coming up just to shoot the breeze and we’re just going to imagine that we’re at a kitchen table having dinner and just talking. And we already have someone whose chart we’ve drawn up. We did a raffle and so someone has been selected who’s going to get a reading and so we’re going to read that person in the route round-robin way, so let people see how different astrologers have different generations read and different cultural backgrounds because Alexis is of a different background than I am. I think she’s Vietnamese Chinese as people say, black American and Ed Perrone is in Italy and Italian American and Chris Turner’s in Australia.
CB: Brilliant. Yeah, that sounds great. So that’s the International Academy of Astrology, which is astrocollege.org. Okay, astrocollege.org. Awesome.
SR: Yeah. And it’s going to be on June 19 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. But again, the link will be available and it’ll be online, so you don’t have to go any place. It’s free.
CB: Okay, cool. Well, people should check that out, check out your website which is unlockastrology.com. And of course, you’re mainly especially active on Twitter where you’re @sfreynolds on Twitter, right?
SR: Yeah, same for Instagram, too.
CB: Brilliant. All right. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today and dedicate your most time. I really appreciate it.
SR: Yeah, same. Thank you for having me.
CB: Cool. All right. Well, thanks everybody for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast and we will see you again next time. Thanks to the patrons who helped to support the production of this episode of The Astrology Podcast through our page on patreon.com. In particular, shout out to the patrons Christine Stone, Nate Craddock, Marin Altman, Irina Tutor, Thomas Miller, Bear River, and Catherine Conroy, as well as the Astro Gold astrology app available at astrogold.io, the Portland School of Astrology at portlandastrology.org and the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at honeycomb.co. The production of this episode of the podcast is also supported by the International Society for Astrological Research which is hosting a major astrology conference in Denver, Colorado September 10th through the 14th, 2020. More information about that isar2020.org. And finally, also Solar Fire astrology software which is available at alabe.com and you can use the promo code AP15 for a 15% discount on that software. For more information about how to become a patron of The Astrology Podcast and help support the production of future episodes while getting access to subscriber benefits like early access to new episodes or other bonus content, go to patreon.com/astrologypodcast.