The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 263, titled:
Intersectionality and Astrology, with Bear Ryver
With Chris Brennan and guest Bear Ryver
Episode originally released on July 17, 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 Andrea Johnson
Transcription released March 14, 2022
Copyright © 2022 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Tuesday, July 14, 2020, starting at 5:01 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 263rd episode of the show. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Bear Ryver about intersectionality and astrology. Hey, Bear, welcome to the show.
BEAR RYVER: Thank you for having me, Chris. It’s a pleasure.
CB: Yeah, I’m excited about this episode and this topic. I’ve been looking forward to it for a month-and-a-half now. I saw you give a lecture on this at the Northwest Astrology Conference at the end of May, and we started talking about doing an episode then, but it’s finally coming together now.
CB: So was that your first time giving a lecture on this topic?
BR: That was ‘Version 1.2’, I guess I could say. Technically, I presented the first 15 minutes or so—or about 15 minutes of that content to OPA, the Organization for Professional Astrology, when they hosted the I-ASTROLOGER retreat in Tucson, Arizona, back in 2018. So I spoke to the need for and it was kind of a call to bring intersectionality, and by the time I had the pleasure of speaking and presenting at NORWAC, I felt like I was more speaking to the wave of intersectionality that had crashed into the astrology world already.
CB: Brilliant. I love that. And that actually brings up you have a really interesting background in terms of your astrological studies. Because you’ve been, more than anybody else I’ve seen who has come into the community in the past 10 or 20 years, you really have tried to cover all of your bases in terms of education and in terms of studying different types of astrology and focusing on certification and getting some credentials from different schools. Could you tell me a little bit about your background in astrology, just to introduce you and your background to my audience?
BR: Yeah, yeah. So like a lot of millennial folks, I started with the internet. I had the pleasure of Astrodienst or Astro.com existing. Skyscript.co, which is Deborah Houlding’s website, was really formative in my early years. And like a lot of folks, I was steeped in the psychological traditions—so reading a lot of Stephen Arroyo and Jan Spiller and Loftus, folks that were kind of looking at the spiritual side of psychology in the astrological world—and then from there got into evolutionary astrology, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I really started to dig into education.
So I first started studying with Sonja Francis who studied under John Marchesella. She is based in Pennsylvania. So a soul-based approach, but a little bit more technical in its application. And then from there learned about NORWAC, Kepler, OPA, all in the span of a couple of months and then really got deep into it when I made the mistake of—I heard somebody talk about zodiacal releasing, and I’d never heard that. And it was like, “I’ve been studying astrology for 15-20 years, I’ve never heard this. That can’t possibly be true.” One of my friends was kind enough to be like, “Bear, you kind of just had your pants down in front of a lot of folks. It’s a very real thing.”
BR: At that point I realized, oh, wow, astrology’s really a world where you could never possibly learn everything.
BR: So bit by bit, I’m trying to get the opposite of the modern EA, psychological approach and really steep it in the tradition. So your Hellenistic astrology course and the electional course both happened because I was lucky enough to get one of AFAN’s study stipends in 2019. And yeah, there’s a lot of the Western side, and then next is to learn more of the Indian tradition, Mayan astrology, Chinese astrology, and start to look at the cross-cultural perspective.
CB: Brilliant. And that’s a good point about the AFAN scholarship. Because most people don’t realize that there are organizations out there that you can sometimes get scholarships for study or to attend conferences or other things like that, but that was something that you were able to find out about in order to have that opportunity.
BR: Yeah. In fact, my participation in I-ASTROLOGER in 2018 was because of a scholarship. I happened to catch one day of NORWAC and got OPA’s little flier and my registration booklet, found out that I’d love to go—can’t afford that; that’s insane; I worked a minimum wage job at the time—and found out that they had a scholarship available to get help with registration costs and a little bit of travel, if I remember correctly. And then there I applied for a business grant that they were offering, so I was able to attend with just a bit of travel expenses and then walk away from that retreat with a $2,500 business grant.
And that’s really what has enabled me to get some more tech together and a little bit more in terms of education and resources. I was able to do Kepler’s chart math class, work with Kay Taylor for a year in her mentorship group, and so I was really able to dedicate more time in the same way that you would with any other type of business. And I think the big thing a lot of folks don’t know starting out is that there are organizations that are really committed to helping people with the growth of the business side of being an astrological practitioner.
CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s really important because conferences and sometimes schools or educational programs can be cost-prohibitive. So it is important, even though there’s not a ton of scholarships and stuff out there, it’s important for people to know that there are some things available to try to bridge that gap a little bit.
BR: Absolutely. I mean, AFAN’s got the study stipends and they also have mentorship opportunities. OPA has scholarship opportunities. NORWAC has scholarship opportunities with their diversity scholarship. And from what I’ve seen it looks like each organization—if I’m remembering correctly, there’s some opportunities with ISAR, although I believe those are more around supporting research initiatives as opposed to helping you kind of get your feet wet. But every organization is offering a little bit of something to up-and-coming astrologers and seasoned astrologers alike to get some support, whether it’s with connection to the community or getting more resources and education.
CB: Sure. And we’ll circle back around to that later and discuss organizations and sort of the role they play or other areas that they’re sort of missing out on. All right, so let’s jump into our topic. So the topic we were going to talk about today is intersectionality. And could we start by just defining what that term means as sort of our starting point?
BR: Yeah. So intersectionality is a term that was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw back in ‘89. I feel like I’m not correct about that citation, I’ll have to dig that up. But it was a Chicago…
CB: That’s correct.
BR: …a University of Chicago public forum article that was analyzing several lawsuits. The definition really comes down to looking at the overlapping intersections, the overlapping oppressions that people can face. So in it’s original formation, Crenshaw was analyzing several legal cases in which Black women were not granted legal protection for discrimination because their claims were not just sexism or just racism. So Crenshaw talks a lot about the ways in which people, specifically Black women, experience double-oppression. But it’s not just double, it’s actually compound, and we can go into that more if you want to get really deep into the technicalities of it.
BR: But for most people today, it’s really just looking at the intersection between power and privilege that any particular person experiences in their specific culture.
CB: Sure. I mean, that’s a great foundation, though, in terms of the historical origins of it, and just that legally, at the time, what Kimberlé Crenshaw pointed out was that you couldn’t cite two different forms of discrimination that were overlapping, contributing factors in a specific case, that you had to say either you’re being discriminated because you were a woman or you had to say you’re being discriminated against because you’re Black, but you couldn’t say both, even if that was the situation.
CB: And so, that was the origin of the term or why she was originally putting it forward to note that people can experience multiple forms of discrimination at the same time.
BR: Absolutely, and you see that still today. The SayHerName campaign hashtag was started by Kimberlé Crenshaw because of the disparity in the way that media and even established media outlets and social media folks disproportionately cite and speak out about violence committed against Black men, but often Black women and other women of color are left out of the narrative.
So you’ll see a lot of—to keep it really present in this moment—a lot of folks talking about George Floyd, but not as many folks talking about Breonna Taylor. And even within that context you could look at the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and the way in which that is epidemic in huge numbers, but often not discussed and—yeah, not discussed.
CB: Okay. So it’s about the intersection between primarily characteristics like race, class, and gender, but there’s also other characteristics like sexual orientation.
CB: Ability—would ability fall under that?
BR: The difference between the way that a CIS white person with a disability is treated versus a person of color with a disability is definitely in the medical literature as well.
CB: Okay, and how those characteristics intersect or overlap and how they apply in combination rather than just in isolation.
BR: Yeah, yeah. And it was Audre Lorde, I believe, who said we don’t live single-issue lives. It’s really not possible to separate obviously with any one individual, and I think in astrology we see this. You can’t just analyze Mars in a chart.
BR: You need to look at Mars and the houses that Mars rules and the sign that Mars is placed in and its ruler. And it’s the same for an individual and the way that they’re relating to society as a whole, to specific social institutions. I definitely want to cite that it was Crenshaw and that her work was specific to Black women as part of an intersectional practice to really speak to the fact that it was not originally formulated as everybody has this type of experience because it’s primary to cite Black women especially.
But in the way that I learned it, by the early 2000s, it was something that young activists were exposed to, and it was definitely in the context of any type of power, any type of privilege. That’s what you’re analyzing is where those two intersect, and sometimes we’re talking about that lack of power, the disenfranchisement from social institutions and the disempowerment that comes from being oppressed.
CB: I love the analogy you used of it’s like interpreting a planet like Mars in the chart in Leo and just that one thing, but not taking into account what house it’s in or what aspects it or anything else. As astrologers, we know that you can’t do that. You have to take into account all of the different factors in order to produce a delineation of the reality of that placement and what it means in a person’s life. And so, similarly, by extension, we obviously should be taking into account characteristics in terms of a person’s background in order to be able to describe the totality of their experience of the world in general.
BR: Absolutely. One of the examples I gave in a lecture with permission from my partner is the example of look at a woman who has Mars in Capricorn in the 5th house, right? Well-placed, exalted Mars. This should be great when this woman really does Mars. But in our society, a woman doing Mars very well is not perceived the same as a man doing Mars very well, or a non-binary person doing Mars very well.
And so, I think just in the same way that we’re going to color our interpretation depending on the traditions that we’re using—if we’re talking about planets, signs, and houses, or if we’re going to get into triplicity and sect and decan and terms—we’re going to see that those play out differently between different people.
I actually have an astrologer friend who’s really active on ‘astro’ Twitter who was born one week after me, so we’ve got very, very similar charts. We happen to have planets that are in the same polarity or gender—depending on how you want to talk about it—or signs that are ruling on our Ascendant, and so our profections kind of time up in a really interesting way as well. But you couldn’t look at the way that our Mars in Leo is perceived by people without really looking at the fact that a man of color—and she’s a woman of color—and the way that we do Mars is heavily colored in its perception by other people through that lens.
CB: Okay, that makes sense. So part of what you brought up in your lecture—and this actually came up in the last episode that I did on Noel Tyl, and I think Basil Fearrington mentioned it, that it was an important thing in Noel Tyl’s work. But you brought it up in your lecture that you have to contextualize the chart because you don’t know if the chart is the chart of a person or the chart of a country or the chart of a turtle or what have you.
CB: Those are going to have different experiences of the world, and your delineation and interpretation of that chart is partially going to be based on your understanding of the context of that person or that system’s life. And in the same way, you have to take into account to some extent the context of a human’s chart and what the different factors are that play into that to understand the range in which things might manifest.
BR: Absolutely. You know, I think we see it in folks who are doing chart examples of really famous people. You might come to the same event in their life through a different set of planets and houses depending on your particular style of astrology, or you might look at the same planets and houses through entirely different events. And I think, for me, that was one of the reasons that I really wanted to branch out and get a really firm grasp of several different styles of astrology over the last year. In addition to the Hellenistic and electional courses, I also was able to do the School of Traditional Astrology’s horary course.
And so, just knowing that Dorotheus, Valens, Lilly all had different ways of looking at Mars, and depending on the context, if you’re looking at Mars even in a natal chart, you can think about what is the election or the inception that that person’s life was—how does that Mars represent the starting moment versus how is that Mars part of that person’s characteristics.
Or if you think about even the natal chart as a horary, then, hmm, what is the signification of Mars in terms of the outcomes? And that’s all the same exact chart, it’s still a natal chart. Those are all equally valid and historically-documented ways of approaching the planets or interpretations. So it’s so contextual, it’s hard to imagine not flipping through a ‘mental’ Rolodex of which way am I going to look at this planet or this person today.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point. So part of that is the different cultural context of Dorotheus of Sidon who’s a Greek author living in the 1st century CE, somewhere in the Roman Empire versus William Lilly who’s like an English guy living in the 17th century in London and how he’s conceptualizing Mars and how they are similar versus how they’re different, and then realizing that you and I, as people living in America in the early 21st century have cultural things that we’re taking for granted in the way that we conceptualize certain things as well that we may not realize we’re taking for granted.
BR: Yeah. Absolutely. One of my favorite examples is just looking at the 4th house. If we’re looking at a person’s physical inheritance, the estate, their connection to land, a lot of folks are going to say that’s definitely the father, that’s where you’re going to look because the father’s the one that gives you the land.
My family is Alaskan native among many other things, but that Alaskan native side is the matrilineal side, and we’re matrilineal people. And so, for me, if I think about the 4th house as my father, it doesn’t really connect. If I think about the 4th house as my matrilineal line, boom, there’s a lot of hits with transit timing and just with my own experience in relationship to connecting with lineage, and I think that that’s true for a lot of folks.
And you can also see it in the Moon. In Indian culture, the Moon is like your uncle; it’s a male figure. And in the Scandinavian culture, the Sun is female. So there’s a lot of different ways where someone’s culture might kind of flip what we’re looking at, but I think if you know that the gender of the luminaries switches in cultures and that some cultures don’t gender them, then you can get really fluid and see what is it for the client that I’m looking at, or what is it in this specific situation; or the Moon can be the masses and then you can’t gender that either.
CB: Right. So that’s brought up some things I’ve been seeing debates recently about, like how much is astrology culturally-relative versus how much is it a system—or versions of it a system that’s somehow universal and crosses cultural boundaries. Obviously, that’s a hard question to answer, but it’s something it seems like this is touching on and really getting into.
BR: Yeah. I feel like I need to know a lot more about non-Western traditions to be able to really answer that question, but it’s one that I’ve asked myself a lot and definitely looked at what’s going on in a chart, traditional significations, does this ring true to my experience, to what I know of my culture and what I know of other cultures and languages and how they work. It does seem that there is something that is universal, even if it’s just the stars and the time and using this ground/sky relationship.
To what I know at this point that does seem to be pretty universal, but I think that there’s some cultural concepts that definitely you see that astrology changes in how people are approaching it. And I think that has a lot to do with subtle changes that are happening culturally, even thinking about Kepler really getting deep into the mathematics of aspects, even though that doesn’t really seem to come from any doctrine of the tradition; that’s seems to be more reflective of Kepler’s time and in the interest in math as a way to separate nature and the human mind, if that makes sense.
CB: Sure. Right. Like another example of something that obviously was very culturally-relative is in the ancient Greco-Roman tradition saying that the 6th house was associated with slavery or slaves, then in modern times, how modern astrologers have reconceptualized that as the place of work or the place of service or the place of when you’re in a subservient role to somebody else. Some astrologers will draw a distinction between the 6th house when you’re working for somebody versus the 10th house when you’re following your own career, or you’re the boss or what have you.
BR: Yeah, yeah. That makes me, as an aside, think about Lois Rodden’s book and several house significations that she pulled together with just making money. I think definitely the slavery one is one of the most stark in that the way that slavery functioned back then was so very different. I think one could still look at the 6th house and connect it with the notion of work as wage slavery, if you’re of that political bent.
Or even in the States, the 13th Amendment doesn’t preclude slavery from happening, it just means you have to be a convict to participate in forced labor, so there is still some of that. I don’t know of anybody who’s done a lot of research around 6th house significations and prisoners, but I think that would definitely be an interesting project to illuminate if that 6th house signification has more correlaries to our present-day situation than we would think, but it’s really obvious if we look at slavery as an institution and such a bedrock part of the economy back then and in that particular place.
Or even if we think about gender and marriage, looking through Hephaestion and reading about a bunch of different ways you can look and ask questions, I’m like all of these questions are about somebody running away. “My wife ran away, my slave ran away. Will they come back?” And obviously, most folks today are, “My keys disappeared, my phone disappeared. Am I going to find this precious object?” rather than this precious human possession. But that’s a long aside if we get real deep into that.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that’s a good point because there’s sometimes discussions about historically who was even practicing astrology and what levels of society was it geared towards. And while, certainly, there were high-level astrologers that were serving kings and queens throughout history, there was also a stratification of astrologers that were serving the middle class and sometimes astrologers that were serving the lower classes, because you will sometimes see asides about not just delineating men’s charts, but also delineating women’s charts.
Or you’ll see delineations that are clearly from the perspective of—yeah, like you said—if your wife runs away, or if your slave runs away unfortunately, but then also sometimes delineations from the perspective of if you’re consulting with somebody who’s a slave and wants to know if they’ll be successful. I think there’s an election for escaping or running away.
BR: That’s incredible.
CB: Yeah. So it’s one of those things that makes me realize, for example, where we find horoscopes on papyrus, or we see the really elaborate horoscope boards where an ancient, Greco-Roman astrologer would pull out this chessboard and put down pieces for the different planets and stuff to create the horoscope, and this was made of gold and ivory and must have been very expensive for an astrologer that was very well-off, serving a king or something.
But then there’s a story also about astrologers on the street who were just drawing a chart by sand and that must have been more lower class. Like if you just wanted to quickly display somebody’s chart, you work with what you have available. So it’s an interesting thing just in terms of astrologers working at all levels of society, just like they do today.
BR: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it makes a lot of sense that we would see that. I don’t know a single astrologer who isn’t super-thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to somebody about their chart. So I can’t imagine somebody who’s doing astrology for a king not also wanting to do some astrology for one of their friends.
But it is really interesting to think about the origins of astrology. Having gone through your class and thinking about the very earliest bits of documented practice that we have, going back to omens that were developed out of a very specific court practice of astrology. So in the context of this question that brought me to the intersectional lecture that I put together should astrology be political is one that I saw an organization pose to its membership, and most folks were pretty adamant that it definitely shouldn’t be; there’s nothing political about astrology in and of itself, that it didn’t come from a historically political tradition. But it really seems that rather we’re talking about helping a slave owner recover their slave or a person who is enslaved escape enslavement, that is political.
If we’re thinking about marriage back then, marriage back then was political. It wasn’t about just this person that I’m deeply romantically in love with, ‘why did they run away and will they come home’; it was is this person who was a fundamental part of my economic productivity in my estate going to come back to participate in the economic institution that marriage was at the time. Yeah, there’s a lot there.
I’ve been ruminating recently on the way the tradition, how much is applicable today in looking at some of the calculations for the lots and the way that they change based on the gender of the querent, and it seems very clear from looking at the lots that gender is assigned sex at birth. It seems very clear to me, at least from looking at horary and trying to identify an unknown person that the planetary significations probably have to do with the way that that person is perceived and expresses their gender. So that just opens up a bunch of questions for me about what is that core universality in the tradition and what is actually a reflection of the cultural norms of the time, if that makes sense.
CB: Yeah. I mean, it seems like astrology is always an expression of, to some extent, the cultural norms of the time because they’re attempting to read the lives of individuals, and sometimes the astrologers do a better job or a worse job at actually creating a system that captures the totality of that. But this brings up a really good point. Your point is that astrology is always political partially because it’s taking into account the assumptions of the culture of its time, as well as the politics, to some extent, of the astrologer.
And this ties in really well with our topic, which is basically understanding what your perception of the world is like and how it might be different from another person based on where one falls in society, based on these different overlapping factors and both acknowledging your own perspective and how those factors either give you an advantage or a disadvantage in some ways societally, and then also understanding that you can’t fully understand another person’s perspective because you’re not living that, and you don’t have the experience of those overlapping factors in the same way.
BR: Yeah, it’s like my friend born a week after me. Other than the fact that Mercury is advanced a little bit, we’ve got the same planets in the same sign, pretty much across the same decans even, but the way that we’ve experienced those four planets that are all configured that way is so very different. And I think in particular the interpretation of the astrology is less affected.
Looking at somebody’s chart and understanding it or looking especially at a mundane chart or something, that’s one thing, but the process of being an astrologer, like really talking the stars to someone presumably for a purpose, that’s where I think it’s so fundamental and primary. And it’s so obvious if we just think about the planets, as a Cancer rising, I’m not going to assume every Cancer rising has my experience, or that I know what it’s like to be a Gemini rising, so why would I make any other type of inference that my one experience is going to speak to that client.
And I think it’s a really fun game for folks with an astrological mind, if we can hole 12 signs and a bunch of planets, depending on which tradition you’re in, however many planets you put in your chart—asteroids or bodies—if we can hold all that times 12, we can definitely hold enough frames of understanding how people are to be able to be really fluid in our descriptions to clients.
CB: Right. I wonder if that makes astrologers better predisposed to regular people to be able to expand their understanding like that and to realize that they don’t have access to the full scope of human experience, so that it’s only by listening to people that they can truly maybe get some insight into that.
Obviously, that being said, astrologers still have their blindspots because they’re just normal people when it comes down to it at the end of the day. So they’re going to have their own biases and blindspots and everything else, but I wonder if that experience with astrology shouldn’t make them better able to have the potential at least to break through that then maybe they might otherwise.
BR: Yeah, I think it’s all about a willingness to undertake that particular work, just in the same way as somebody who’s really deep into EA and is great in their consultations and uses that tradition very effectively might not be inclined to learn a lot of other traditions. Almost every elder astrologer I’ve talked to has said, “Oh, yes, here’s something I haven’t studied that I think is fascinating. I don’t have the time to study that. I know that it’s there and that’s all I have for that.”
I guess the number one thing I would like people to walk away from exposure to intersectional astrology with is the understanding that the first and easiest step is available to everyone—and that’s just asking questions and listening openly. From there, there’s a lot of steps that people can take depending on their time and their energy and interests.
CB: I mean, the first step is obviously starting to ask questions of other people and listen about their experience, but also, I think in your lecture you said one of the early steps is also looking inwardly at what are some of the things that I take for granted in my own life.
For example, last month, in the episode I did with Diana Rose Harper, we talked about privileges or using that term ‘privileges’ and the things that we may take for granted that are advantages, or whatever the opposite is that might be disadvantages that we have societally that are not based on any action or merit of our own; they’re just sort of things we have.
CB: And examining those, is that one of the first steps?
BR: Yeah, definitely. I guess the first step is to be exposed and to know that this is a thing to ponder. But once you realize that, oh, there’s these different classes—whether it’s race, gender, or actual economic classes—these different classes that people all interface with, and a lot of them are completely involuntary, but they have a really dramatic impact on how people experience the world. The next step, if we’re just talking about that process of inquiry, is to…
CB: Sorry to interrupt, but what are some of those, just for example?
BR: Definitely we could look at ethnicity or race, but I guess it would really be more appropriate to talk about skin color because that is separate; colorism is different than racism. So your economic class, did you grow up really wealthy with access to a lot of things by virtue of economic privilege? Because anybody who’s five did not earn that money themselves. Or did you grow up really, really poor with very little access to the resources that you need to speak the language of the society?
Race and skin color can get really complicated. Folks might look at me and assume that I’ve had a particular experience because I’m medium dark skinned. But those cultural codes that exist in whiteness like speaking a certain way or participating in interviews in a particular way, having a name that looks and sounds the way that westerners are familiar with seeing names, all of those are subtle kind of classes, naming not so much, but ability, race, gender, sexuality.
If we’re not talking about sexism, a different way of looking at gender is in, are you CIS-gendered, are you transgender, are you gender nonconforming. Does the way that you’re gender expression, identity, and physically-assigned sex at birth—do the way that those three things come together work in a way that society is really keen on, or does that work in a way that creates a new barrier? There are a ton. I feel like I’m definitely forgetting one. We could definitely look at ability and branch that out, and look at neurodivergence as a different thing than physical ability, so it can kind of go on and on down the list.
But I think an easy way to think about it—that I was exposed to—is to think of a formula: Do you have institutional power? And that’s like the ability to control outcomes, right? Do you have privilege? Do you have access that you didn’t earn yourself to the institutions where your power to affect outcomes plays out? And if those two exist and they’re used to disenfranchise a group of people based on being part of a specific group, that group plus that power gives you the ‘-ism’. So you can have ableism, classism, racism, sexism. Homophobia and transphobia aren’t -isms, but those are in the same class.
CB: Sure. Okay. So identifying those things within yourself maybe first as the starting point for starting to reflect on it, and being able then once you’ve done that, to listen to people if you’re just going through those spectrums that might be on the other end of the spectrum from you with some of those different categories.
BR: Yeah, so I guess an example that might be very accessible to the most number of people, to folks who have a lot of visual acuity memes and GIFs are great. If somebody who has visual impairment says, “Hey, you post a lot of content that I can’t actually interact with because images are part of the meaning,” if your instinct is to go, “Nah, that’s not really a problem,” or “No, there aren’t that many people excluded,” one way to use that sort of heuristic, for lack of a better word, is to go, “Okay, do I have some type of disability? Nope.”
Somebody who does have a disability is saying that I’m doing something that’s ableist. It’s not like, okay, therefore I’m a bad human, it’s an, okay, I’m outside of my range of experience, and so I’m going to take for granted that this person is speaking the truth about their own.
And I think you could also look at that with gender. As a male practitioner, do I see female clients? Do I have female colleagues? Do I also have colleagues who are gender nonconforming or have lots of different types of gender experience? Or am I only working with and working for people who are male-identified in my way? Okay, knowing that my position is here on the spectrum, I’m going to make a point to expose myself to people who exist in other positions. Without that first step, none of the rest of the work is possible.
So it kind of reminds me of the story of Buddha leaving his palace and going on the quest to become awakened. First, you have to realize that there’s something outside the castle walls. Then when you get outside the castle walls, you have to have the encounter of there is some suffering to ask about. If we don’t go outside of our own position, it’s really unlikely we’re going to realize the privileges that we have, because by their very nature they’re invisible—or at least invisible to the people who possess the privilege.
And if we don’t acknowledge that there are things outside of our experience that are very real that we may not be able to even access even if we wanted to, then I don’t think the proper motivation arises to be able to do the uncomfortable listening. Because that’s where the really deep part of the work comes, in the community, in the relational part of it. It’s great to have a fantastic theory about intersectionality, but if that’s not put into practice with the community around you, it’s very sterile.
CB: Right, that makes sense. And so, the purpose of this it seems like then would be twofold; one is in order to do consultations and to be better able to consult with people from a wide variety of different backgrounds and to be able to do so in a way that’s appropriate and is effective and not harmful to them, if you end up having a client who comes from a background that’s radically different from your own and being able to speak to them in a way that’s appropriate and helpful.
But then, also, maybe secondarily, even as an astrologer outside of the consulting practice, each of us builds our own system and has our own almost quasi-cosmology that we assemble together of our views on astrology and our system of astrology that we each create as individual astrologers. And maybe in terms of creating an approach to astrology that can cover all manner of different experiences of the world, which is something we’re all striving for, it seems like this is something necessary then in order to accomplish that.
BR: Yeah, I would like to think that it’s necessary. I guess a great example is the gender thing, right? In the tradition, there are two different genders of signs. If you’re really deep into linguistics and etymology, then you’ll be like, “Gender, yeah, like genus/species.” It doesn’t mean your psycho/emotional/spiritual expression of identity, but for some people that’s a really easy access point to explaining the difference between Capricorn and Aquarius.
The other folks, I find it easier to say Capricorn is like a soft song that pulls you in, and you really want to listen to it; your intention goes inward to the music. And Aquarius, I guess, is like some crazy metal band or something. The energy is exploding outward; your attention goes outward. So there’s a certain facility with finding the querent in the language that is their own.
But I think your point that we each have our own cosmology that we create is really, really fundamental. Even the question of are you a determinist in your astrological view. When you look at the chart, is that spelling out exactly what will happen? And if so, then what does that mean for the experience of oppression? Does that mean that your client who experienced sexism that ruined their life for a year or had dangerous outcomes—does that mean that that was destined? And if so, what do we do for that client? Is the goal to help them accept their position? Or is the goal to help them find any expression of existence that is more fulfilling and enjoyable?
So I think those really primary questions about cosmology and how we’re looking at things matter. And in my experience, at least most folks these days when pressed to answer the question—I guess in philosophy it’d be just desserts—of do we deserve the effects of our chart, or is the chart a tool that’s meant to give us more agency.
It’s really, really fundamental and particular if we’re talking with clients who have experienced a lot of marginalization. I think that where it gets the most sensitive and alive and volatile is that the stakes are really high for somebody who has experienced marginalization, whether it’s economic or with their race or gender or whatever else.
If we are unconscious of our privilege, as a man, it’s very easy to think that all I have to do is just show up and work hard and people will respect me. If, as a man, I don’t realize that that’s my ‘male’ experience brought to me by male privilege, then it might be likely that I would see a client who’s not male-identified, who is experiencing sexism and go that’s some planet in your chart. That’s some poor expression of Mars or a bad expression of Venus; it has nothing to do with your outer circumstances and a way to respond to them, if that makes sense.
CB: No, that’s perfect because you not having had that experience literally can’t fully conceptualize what it’s like to, let’s say, just be a woman and being blocked from having a career, or like a raise or something like that or getting a career position just as a result of being a woman instead of being a man, just as a very simple one. And if you’ve not had that experience personally you might not fully conceptualize what that’s like and how to describe that to a client or to empathize with them when they’re describing that to you.
BR: Yeah, and also, what planets are involved.
BR: Was it the Mars, the exalted Mars in the 5th house gone awry that brought those experiences, or was it Saturn over there in the 2nd house in Scorpio that brought that? And I think for that person in particular that’s a really good example; you could look at either. I guess it’s worth mentioning that if you have the chart in whole sign, then you would have that Mars in the 6th house. So in one expression, here’s somebody who has a lot of personal creativity and access to that Mars, but in a social sense, you’ve got a hot mess on your hands really with what you’ve got going on for them.
And so, I think particularly as astrologers, it’s really important to understand, am I counseling my client about their experience of Saturnine oppression, or am I counseling my client about the need to bring more Venusian diplomacy to their work environment?
Or even if we’re looking at an election, if we don’t understand what Mars activated in that person’s chart does to them, we might think, “All right, you’ve got Mars in a good place. Mars is ruling your Midheaven. We want to do some career stuff. Let’s try to get something configured to Mars in your chart and to your Midheaven to make it easier for you to be noticed.” And then we inadvertently have them be noticed in a very bad way, like a warrant pops out for them or something like that.
So I think depending on the context—whether it’s natal or electional or horary or some combination—it’s understanding how to meet the client and see the client, hear them, and provide them a useful service. But it’s also how to actually disambiguate the chart that you’re looking at, and I think the Moon is a really great way to look at it. Thinking about Mark Jones, his lecture and preconference workshop at this last year’s NORWAC, he spoke a lot about the Moon as the access point to ego formation.
If we think about the Moon from any different kind of traditional perspective, or if we’re thinking about the masses in mundane astrology, the Moon’s really important. How does somebody’s relationship to the Moon, the masses of their society function? Is it nutritive or is it actually not?
When we’re looking at an individual’s Moon in their chart, we can look at it as their relationship to women, or to their wife depending on tradition, we could also look at it as their early childhood development, and all of those are really valid. So it’s, again, flipping through the lenses to see what’s important there. Because I think every planet has got so many multivalent significations that you could be very right and accurate in an interpretation and miss what is actually true, if that makes sense.
CB: Yeah, I’m thinking of a couple of things right now or examples of that. One, there was an article recently written by Alice Sparkly Kat who did an article on decolonizing the essential dignities, and part of their central premise was they found it annoying sometimes when white astrologers would describe a planet being in detriment, but they would talk about it almost like it was on vacation or something like that. Having not experienced what it was like to be marginalized themselves in any real, serious, systemic way, they didn’t necessarily know how to describe what that was actually like when looking at it from the perspective of a delineation where that’s really the core essence of what that’s supposed to mean.
CB: And I’m hoping to do a podcast with her soon to talk about that because I thought that was a really good point.
BR: Yeah, I think that would be really exciting. Yeah, I think that their work is fantastic, and I have nothing but great things to say about their astrology. That article in particular was really powerful for me, I had never even considered that. And then reading what they said, it made me realize, oh, yeah, when I was on vacation in Thailand, yeah, I didn’t know the language but that was not this negative barrier; that didn’t speak to anything about debility or dignity.
And then thinking as a person with a lot of different lineages—some of whom colonized this land, some of whom were indigenous to this land, some were enslaved here—I think a lot about my various peregrine planets as like, hmm, maybe a peregrine planet is about being in a place that you are from but you are not truly a part of. There’s no way for me to equally honor my ancestors and embrace America or fully reject it, so there is this perpetual ‘apart and not-apart of’ that is part of that experience.
But yeah, I think everybody should read that article, if for no other reason than to think of other frameworks to explain ability and debility. I sometimes think about it like putting together a play. If you’ve got the wrong music for a certain scene, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, there’s some sort of innate disconnect and incongruity in what’s being presented. But that’s a very different conversation, debility through theater.
CB: Yeah. No, I like that. The other thing that what you were saying made me think of was also how a lot of astrologers in doing yearly forecasts for 2020—like late last year in 2019—a lot of us released forecasts, and there was a lot of heavy energy that everybody saw coming up this year, and some of the forecasts were somewhat foreboding in talking about the Saturn-Pluto conjunction and the pileup of planets in Capricorn in March, or the Mars retrograde coming up in Aries squaring all the Capricorn planets and things like that.
But most astrologers hadn’t done, for example, a study of pandemics in history and what alignments have historically coincided with. So that wasn’t necessarily something on their radar of just what they were conceptualizing; they were just trying to describe the energies archetypally as best as they could. But there was one French astrologer, André Barbault, who actually had published an article where he looked at planetary alignments within the context specifically of pandemics in the past and noted certain alignments, like in the 1910s, coincided with a pandemic, and he saw another one coming up in 2020 that looked similar, so he forecasted a pandemic.
Having that context and understanding the context better, allowing you to make more precise statements that are more in tune with the reality that the astrology is describing, I guess that’s ultimately what we’re getting here is the fundamental, underlying thing of why intersectionality is so important.
BR: Yeah. An example that I’m pretty sure I can give without revealing anything about this person at all, I was looking at a Mars in Taurus, and in the beginning did a quick little bit of prep, and I was like, “This is going to come up.” I don’t even remember what I thought—it was not what it showed up as in the client’s life. And as we were talking more, I was like, “All right, I’ve got a crunchy hippie on my hands, this is excellent.”
And then I just looked at them, and I was like, “Do you do farm-y stuff? Is it really that simple that you’re just doing physical, Taurean things?” And that’s what it happened to be, whereas with other folks, it’s going to manifest in such a different way. And there, that Mars isn’t really ill-placed. When you put Martian energy into interacting with the land, that isn’t debilitated in the way that Mars might be if it was trying to, I don’t know, do something that’s not Mars-y in nature. All I’m thinking about is Mars-y art stuff right now, so I’ll just leave that one.
BR: But yeah, to me, what I think in terms of the consultation room—because there’s a whole different way to apply intersectionality in terms of organizations and community—but in the consultation room, I think there is an ability for transformation to happen for both the astrologer and the querent or the client. We have the opportunity to come to understand parts of ourselves in a totally new and different way.
Yeah, we can look at archetypes and get really, really big picture, but I think as we—or at least my experience has been—as I see more and more clients, I see, okay, Mars in Taurus has this expression, but here’s one little way where my Mars in Leo has that same vibe going on. There are little glimmers of accessing those planets and those energies in a dynamic way that become available I think only in the consultation room and only when we’re looking to see from the client’s perspective. And we can’t do that if our assumption is that we know or that our experiences are indicative of experience as opposed to just our own lives, if that makes sense.
CB: Yeah, like not realizing that your own experience is relative to your own standing in society and all the things that go with that versus universalizing your experience, which is a constant issue that astrologers have both of themselves as well as sometimes with clients, since clients constantly tend to universalize their experience.
And that was something I talked about with Diana a lot last month in terms of universalizing both the good things and taking for granted that many of the good things that have happened in their life, that maybe other people experience the same thing and that’s normal for everybody, or even sometimes universalizing the bad things and assuming or just taking for granted that everyone experiences negative things in that area of life just the same.
BR: Yeah, it’s like the Saturn retrograde. A lot of astrologers are like, “Saturn retrograde, you had an absentee father.” Happens to be true for me, and that’s not the case for most of the Saturn retrogrades that I see. So there’s a danger there of pigeon-holing our clients into an experience that really isn’t theirs, and then it’s hard to recover that rapport and connection.
Yeah, it’s an interesting way to approach understanding the planets. Start first with the question, how does this archetype show up in your life, what does cool, calm, collected thinking mean to you, instead of, “Oh, I see you have a planet in Aquarius and it must have been very cold and distant to interact with that.” Giving people language that is as universal as possible, like movement in some degree, shape or form is something that all of us are going to experience, whether it’s really easy or whether it’s very difficult and limited.
Breathing, eating food, we can really get into just human-animal-type descriptions as opposed to being really locked into a psychological—magic trick is almost the only word I can think of to describe it. Looking at the chart and going, “Aha! Here’s the interposition of planets and houses, and therefore, I’m going to tell you who you are.”
CB: Right, because we all have that image of the astrologer that the best aspiration you can have as an astrologer, that’s what an astrologer should do is just look at the chart and say exact details. And maybe somebody could expand on—I’m not sure if you can call it the intersectional approach, but is part of the intersectional approach then trying to come up with delineations that can be universal irrespective of some of these different cultural things, like one of them, for example, acknowledging your cultural assumptions, but being able to make delineations that transcend that? Or is the goal not to transcend it, but just to acknowledge it and acknowledge that you’re working within that context?
BR: I think it really depends on the querent and their presenting issue. I’ve had some clients who were really specific into “What’s going on in my love life?” I don’t need to get super intersectional about your attraction to a person. I can, but clearly your question is about your relationship and are you going to have a baby, so we can zoom in there. With other clients, especially when it’s the general, “I just want to know what you have to say,” that’s when I really try to ask thoughtful questions, I guess is the best way to put it.
I know, as a man, if I’m interacting with anybody who’s not male-identified, I’m going to ask questions about their gender experience because I know that it matters. And if I’m going to talk with a client who is from another culture or who is from another culture and a different gender experience, I’ll ask questions like, “In your culture, the person who is really energetic and driven and motivated, who is that person, and how do they express that? Is strength in your community the ability to endure, or is it the ability to exert?” because those are both I think very Martian and equally appropriate Martian examples, but there’s no way to know how that shows up until you interrogate your client a little bit.
CB: Okay, in order to understand the context for them.
CB: So one of the other things that you mention in terms of doing consultations and how to integrate this in consultations and be mindful of things and understanding the context right from the start is something as simple as using the correct pronouns or asking the correct pronouns of the client as one of the starting things that you’re doing; you made the analogy of collecting their birth data.
BR: Yeah, yeah. You ask their name, you ask their birth data. I ask people to please write the name of the month and the day, so that I don’t have any weird confusion with those who aren’t in the US. I’m like, “Please write in 24-hour time,” or indicate AM/PM.
I guess the best example I could give is at the beginning of each consultation, in the first little rapport-building part, I will take a moment where I’ll say, “Hey, I know you wrote it down, but I’m just going to double-check. I’ve got this birth data. Did I transpose it correctly from your sheet?” and then put a gender option. “What are your pronouns?” Same as some doctors will ask you your nickname, just giving people the opportunity to present that information.
One thing that my colleague Kirah Tabourn is really excellent about is investigating accessibility in terms of do you have information that is presented that’s accessible for folks who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Do you have transcripts available? Do you have captions available? Are you providing alt-text in your images, or indicating that those images are not part of the content and the information that needs to be gleaned? And you can really simply ask somebody, “Do you need audio or visual accommodation?”
BR: So there’s a lot of ways where we can be attentive. It doesn’t require a huge amount of work to ask somebody, “What do you like to be called, is it going to be more helpful for you if I do this consultation in a different format?” I think when we get into writing out a consultation versus a real-time thing, it can be a little bit different.
But there are a lot of steps that are as simple as being aware that other people might not be able to speak, hear, read, fill in the blank the same way that you do, or that you can’t look at a person and know their gender. So I know that Alice Sparkly Kat is they/them-identified and that’s all I need to know. I actually couldn’t tell you about their gender identity specifically, just that it’s very important to affirm them by using they/them pronouns.
CB: Sure. Actually that’s true because I was scrambling to look at Twitter really quickly, and I may have said ‘her’. So I’m going to apologize right away if I did because I didn’t realize that they prefer ‘them/their’.
CB: So maybe you could explain why that’s important for people, especially from a client standpoint in terms of creating a good space for a client right from the start, instead of assuming maybe wrongly something about the client from the start that might make them feel uncomfortable or not welcomed in the way that you would like them to be.
BR: Yeah, so, I mean, being misgendered—in the same way that you can mess up somebody’s name once or twice in real-life interactions—but there is a limit to the number of times that you can fail to affirm something that’s very fundamental and primary to somebody’s interaction with you.
Just asking, “What’s your pronoun?” I’ve never had somebody be upset. And whatever the answer is I then know it. Sometimes the answer is one that I would have assumed. But you know what people say, if you assume, you make an ass out of you and me and that’s always the case. If it’s something that costs nothing and basically no time, it’s so easy to give that client an indication that your experience matters.
BR: It’s not that if I talk to you and I misgender you, or I make an assumption that it’s going to ruin the consultation, for some people it might be the trust-breaker. For other folks that’d be like, “Yo, that’s not my pronoun, I use this,” then we move right along. But why would I do that when I could instead start with the experience of I’m the type of astrologer, I’m the type of person in consultation who cares about knowing exactly where you’re at and meeting you exactly where you’re at. Yeah, I don’t know if that’s a good answer because it seems so obvious to me. Like no harm could come from asking and so many goods can come from knowing.
CB: Well, maybe a good analogy to make to somebody that is struggling with it or doesn’t understand is like if you were talking in a conversation with somebody and you told them your name at the beginning, but then they keep referring to you as somebody else’s name—like Bob or like Frank or Cheryl or something like that—and it’s just not your name. It would be something that would stick out to you for the entirety of your discussion with them because it’s incongruous with what you actually are or what your actual name is.
BR: Yeah, even if that person started saying, “Okay, I hear you saying that that would be incongruous with who you actually are,” I’d be like, “I think this person’s just parroted stuff. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re clearly not listening. I told you my name a lot of times.” So I think there’s so many really simple, easy steps that are just about mostly not making assumptions, right?
We hold confidentiality really, really important. We’d never assume somebody’s birthday, or be like, “Ah, okay, I know your date of birth. You seem very, very Virgo-y. I’m going to give you a Virgo rising chart. Let’s do your consultation now.” That’s not at all how you would do that.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. What are other things like that in terms of the context of consultations? We’ve talked about knowing the context before delineating the chart. I mean, even that in and of itself in understanding the context of the person’s life before you start delineating, obviously that’s a piece of context that you have to understand. Are there other things like that that should be taken into account or that the intersectional practice can help astrologers modify or improve their approach to things?
BR: I think, again, it’s all going to depend on your individual willingness and the amount of energy that a person wants to put in. I think, for instance, with an understanding of class that we can then from go, okay, if I know that this person comes from a background with not a lot of access to resources, I’m not going to talk to them about their 9th house as foreign travel, going really far away to a place where people speak a different language. Maybe I’m going to talk about foreign travel as going across the tracks to a community that’s totally different; and it’s only like three blocks from your house, but it’s a whole different world.
I mean, for me, personally, I offer sliding scale readings, I’ve never had that abused. And I just offer that as a no-questions-asked thing because in my experience, poverty’s something that can happen to anybody, so I don’t create barriers for financial access for folks, although I have a price for my sessions.
If I know that I’m talking to somebody who is a woman of color, I’m going to be proactive in asking questions that don’t require painful disclosure. So for instance, we’re talking about Venus, and we’re talking about beauty, I’m not going to assume that beauty means getting your hair to look a certain way. I won’t assume what those beauty standards are, I’m going to ask about, “Okay, you’re feeling like you want to connect with Venus in a way that’s about beauty. What expression feels the best for you? What expression makes you feel noticed in a Venusian way?”
This one comes up quite a bit—academics of color. I often find that the conversation will be about a work relationship or achieving a certain end, but really the conversation ends up being about the way in which their identity influences their work or academic environment in a way that doesn’t follow. Say, as an example, as a man who’s studying philosophy, my man-ness doesn’t have anything to do with what’s offered to me or how people perceive the value of my work.
As a brown person in academia, I’ve had professors happily tell an entire class full of people that Black people are just more criminal. So I will approach folks of color with the assumption—I shouldn’t say assumption. I will approach folks of color with the understanding that their color is part of their experience of unpleasant negativity and the malefics in their life.
So I’m going to look for how those show up both in those planets in a literal sense, but I’m just going to be attentive to providing the opportunity for that person to speak to their particular experience and ideally use the astrology as the vehicle for that to happen, so that it’s not like, “Hey, what’s racism like for you?” We’re talking about astrology but like, “Okay, cool, how is Saturn? How is restriction and limitation and boundaries, or feeling like you’re outside the boundaries but you desperately want in, or you’ve been iced out? How does that dynamic show up?”
And that I think facilitates an opportunity for people to come to understand themselves better and to use the chart as a map for self-empowerment and the increase of agency, as opposed to a picture, or shaking out a Polaroid to be like, “This is what you look like.”
CB: Right. One topic I know that you’ve been thinking about a lot and that we wanted to talk about was education and organization in the astrological community and how they can benefit from applying intersectional analysis.
BR: Yeah, that’s one where even I, myself, have some room—quite a bit of room to grow and have made some missteps in the past week, past weekend, and past month. So in an organization, the first and easiest step is going to be just recognizing, unless every single human on Earth is involved, it’s possible that there’s something going on that makes one person or many people not feel comfortable. If I am seeking to build an organization and everyone looks like me, that should be my first clue that there is room for improvement.
When it comes to intersectional analysis—so looking at those intersections of power and privilege, and also access, I think—folks can come from different levels of power in their personal experience and still have different amounts of access to institutions. So when we’re looking at that one of the ways that I found interesting to assess is Saturn. Do we have a container that’s actually safe for everybody?
In astrological organizations—and this is a need that’s kind of emerged anew in the community—if there are folks who have experienced assault or harassment, or just really sketchy, unsafe, making-feels from a person in the astrological community, what is our organization or the many organizations that you’re a part of—what is the mechanism in that organization for addressing that harm?
Is the mechanism that the survivor or victim of that assault or experience has to share their experience very publicly and that nothing else will happen? Just, okay, this person told the story convincingly enough that we should all say, “That’s a bad person over there?” That’s not a meaningful or material solution.
If we have intersectional analysis in place then we’re going to be asking questions like, is this conference featuring all male speakers? Is this conference featuring all-white speakers? What is our process for bringing people in? I recently learned that simply allowing everyone who seems nice means that you might miss some very important information about a person.
On the other hand, asking for a full, previous lecture that’s recorded, that was in front of other people in an excellent CV might be inaccessible for folks who have things of merit that are really valuable to share with the community. So I think it’s this constant assessment process primarily and then it’s responsive. So we’re assessing what’s going on. If I’m looking at positionality, are there folks from all different positions of the power/privilege grid present? Then that probably means that we at least remove the barriers to participation.
And then the next step is responsiveness. Are those folks, once they’re invited, given the means to really be effective and to do what they want to do? Like the example of bringing people to the table. You can say you’re welcome at the table, but you’ve got to give somebody a chair, some sort of eating vessel, some sort of eating utensils, ideally. If you put somebody in the living room and all of the food’s in the kitchen, you invited somebody to dinner, but you didn’t actually facilitate anything. So there’s that process of responsiveness in, I think, thoughtful surveys that are anonymized that allow people to provide really challenging feedback is really essential.
I know that it’s not enough to simply bring people in. There really needs to be a mechanism—that’s not the right word. There needs to be a deep commitment to creating spaces that really feel safe for people to start, but also—what’s the right word for it? You’ve got to create a container that allows for enough safety for people to just go in every possible direction and growth.
So it’s not enough to just build the four walls and let people spill over the top, but not be able to expand outward. So really facilitating somebody’s empowerment—which it’s a challenging thing to externally give empowerment to a person—but setting up as many means to that person engaging a process that is empowering for them, and that really means looking at that positionality and digging into ways that you may unconsciously.
Because that’s the thing with privilege. If we have privilege, it’s not like we went to the ‘privilege machine’ and put in all the money, somebody gave it to us way before we had a choice in the matter. If we understand that the privilege is not a value judgment—like “I’m a terrible, privileged person,” it’s just a fact about what’s going on—then we can utilize that privilege to bring people in when they might not otherwise have the invite.
But then we can also look and say, am I reifying—for folks who are not super into academia—am I recreating the privilege that I have? Am I creating a space where I’m the most powerful person and no one can challenge me? That could be patriarchy or white supremacy or imperial colonialism showing up. Am I creating a situation where the cost to attend is so extreme that only a certain group of people are even going to be able to consider the opportunity?
I think one thing that NORWAC has done a fantastic job at is providing several different means for people to see themselves reflected in the organization and to come in to participate. So there’s the diversity scholarship. There’s also opportunities to actually volunteer and engage in the organization directly. There’s Laura and Sam’s—Laura Nalbandian and Sam Reynolds—their own individual commitment to not just diversifying as in bringing in people who look different, but actually investing in those people as members of the community.
And that is the way I think that NORWAC has been able to stand out in a way that in other disciplines, in other fields I haven’t seen really happen, where folks are able to use the privilege that the do have, the resources that they do have, the power and the institutions that they have influence over to not like hand over the reins here—I shouldn’t have it, you should—but to really enfranchise people I guess is the right word.
To really make people a substantive and material part of the community, in a way, that can be uncomfortable in the way that relationships are, but it can’t be tokenized in the same way that a simple, “Hey, if you’re a brown person of color, I would like you to speak at my conference.” That’s like that empty diversity versus really meaningful inclusion.
CB: Yeah, and it seems like it pays itself forward in different ways. Speaking of NORWAC, as a broke college student, I was able to attend my first astrology conference—which was at NORWAC in 2005—due to working at the bookstore and volunteering. So having that volunteering opportunity was really crucial and important to me, and I never would have started attending astrology conferences at first without that opportunity, or the work that you mentioned that Sam and Laura have done in order to have diversity scholarships or to push for that.
Sam, I think, recalled last month on the episode we did that other organizations he was a part of didn’t necessarily see a need for that, or they didn’t see the value in that. And they thought it was already open, and therefore, there was no need to attempt to push for greater diversity because they had the perception, he said, that they weren’t keeping anybody out, so anybody could attend. So there was a sort of blind spot there in terms of what could be done and why it would be necessary or helpful to do that.
BR: Absolutely. At I-ASTROLOGER, after presenting my little 15-minute version of intersectionality, one person that was there said, “I know you’re really hot on this, but the folks who aren’t here aren’t here because they don’t want to be. There is nothing stopping anybody from participating.” But I think this year’s NORWAC really illuminates that. The cost of registration didn’t change, but all of the other costs associated did. And so, it made NORWAC way more accessible than it’s ever been in terms of finances for folks; I mean, maybe not just financial, time-wise.
If you have single parents with a kid, are you really going to have a babysitter take care of your child for a whole week, or five days, so that you can travel? There are so many little things. It would be easy for me as a person who’s never having kids to overlook the way in which a parent wouldn’t be able to access my work because of being a parent.
Yeah, it’s not enough to just say, “Here, you’re welcome.” I think what NORWAC has really exhibited is that it’s not, “Here, you’re welcome,” it’s, “Hey, we really want you to show.” And I’ve done some research to figure out what could be a barrier to you being able to attend. And the only catch, the only caveat there is that they want you to really use this moment to do more astrology and to talk to your astrology friends who would like to show up and be here and to help us facilitate that happening.
So one of the biggest things that I heard and received in terms of applying for scholarships—whether it’s OPA or a AFAN study stipend—the impact isn’t just that I got to take your classes. The impact is that now there’s somebody who’s taken those classes who knows this entire other group of people, who is able to talk about the value, but also just be a person who represents, “Hey, you might have thought that this wasn’t for you. But if you look like me, maybe now you do.”
CB: Yeah, like one area where that’s manifested really dramatically recently that’s been interesting to see—and I, again, am going to do an episode on it before too long—there was a debate earlier this year with the Dignity Babes thing that happened on Twitter and Instagram, where there was one astrologer—he was a modern astrologer—who was saying older forms of astrology were heteronormative or that they were oppressive to marginalized groups and other things.
But then there was a group of astrologers that were saying that they were identified with queer groups, and that they practiced those older forms of astrology because there’s been this greater explosion of diversity among people that are practicing those forms of astrology from all different backgrounds, so it’s not just middle-aged, white, straight males or something like that necessarily.
BR: Yeah, I mean, if I remember my statistics from OPA’s professional astrologer book, it’s like 78% women or something like that. It’s predominantly women over the age of 50, I think, in the astrology community, but that’s an aside. I think with essential dignity in particular and the Dignity Babes—which is an excellent thing to witness and provided so many different ways to think about the astrology—astrology isn’t heteronormative; astrologers can be very heteronormative.
Hellenistic tradition is definitely more—how do I want to say it? It’s not rigid, but it’s a tradition. It’s a very long tradition that has its own textual basis and that’s what it is. It’s not, “I am creating my own cosmology that includes astrology right now with everything that I’m synthesizing,” it’s Hellenistic tradition.
But even within that Saturn isn’t always restrictive, Saturn isn’t always oppressive. Sometimes Saturn is the structure you need to make something actually manifest. As an indigenous person, I can think about Saturn as oppression coming in, I can think about Saturn as the restrictions that have come; I can’t have my cousin send the traditional food down anymore. But I can also think about Saturn as that which is continuous, that which is handed down.
I think the ability to see non-Hellenistic, non-Greek-based-in-Egypt culture in astrology is really only limited by the astrologer. One of the things that I find most exciting is to think about modern-day media as modern-day mythology; so can you talk about essential dignity in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer metaphors because that’s still super alive, can you talk about it in the context of Kimberlé Crenshaw and intersectionality, which you definitely can.
We can look at Mars and Saturn as planets that are holding significations of power, oppression, and definitely in the sense of a police and militarized, governmental imperative to control people. We can look at the benefics as liberation. We can look at Mercury as the person, the radical, the instigator, the astrologer; so very flexible Mercury permitting us to do whatever we want.
So I think that when it comes to the way that we are talking about what astrology is, I think it’s most important—like you said at the very beginning—astrologers are people. And just like we wouldn’t expect any person to know every single person’s limits and comfort level, and what is affirming, what’s not affirming, we wouldn’t expect any one individual to be able to just never upset anyone and be above reproach all the time. I don’t think there’s any reason to expect that an astrologer or an astrology organization is going to be able to be and hold ideas or spaces outside of what is willed by the group.
So I think that’s where—I guess just now I’m realizing I’m a freewill astrologer. I thought I was kind of in the determinist camp, but I think that we can look at those planets as like a game plan for how to bring more agency, how to bring more empowerment, how to work beyond the limits of what we have been given.
Especially as I think about what’s been going on in the States, I recognize that my astrology is very United States-biased because that’s where I am in the United States thinking about the archetype of Cancer and all these eclipses that have gone through Cancer and Capricorn and they’re now finally over. America is so very Cancer, I think most citizens, most folks who have spent a lot of time here—whatever their status is—most folks who are steeped within these borders are like, yes, Cancer 100% in all the ways that a Cancer could be a Cancer.
But I also think that we can see that while that Cancer can be so nationalistic, so obsessed with protecting theirs and theirs only, that we can also take that Cancer and willingly say how much care and attention and nurturing can we give to people. If we get really conscious with our application of that energy, then we can expand that to any sign, house, planet in the way that we’re doing our astrology.
So in the NORWAC lecture, I talked about are we doing enough Saturn, do we have ground rules, a container that actually facilitates Jupiter and that growth and expansion. Because that growth and expansion, if we have a good container, then we can give people more access to doing Mars in a way that is actually empowering, where their actions have efficacy. And when people can use empowerment and action that’s effective, they’re able to cooperate more and build relationships better and art happens.
And when all of that’s taking place, Mercury, the astrologer—if we’re getting traditional with it—or Mercury the person, Mercury the communication happens in a way that actually facilitates the exchange. Because Mercury wasn’t just about communication; Mercury was about the exchange of facilitated commerce. Or if we think about Mercury in a mythological way, Mercury was about using that ingenuity to create mercurial things, like that’s how the lyre was invented, so the story goes.
CB: And so, to circle back, one of the points about organizations was that there isn’t really an organization right now that deals with applying intersectional analysis or brings intersectional issues to the forefront in terms of what their charter is. There’s different specialty organizations, like you mentioned AFAN focusing especially on legal issues for astrologers, or AYA more recently—the Association for Young Astrologers—focusing on younger or newer astrologers and connecting them with resources and things like that.
BR: Yeah, I think what AYA’s doing is really important. One of the things that I ran up against with the Queer Astrology Conference and some of the failings with the ways in which people felt either harmed or just not included properly, not given a safe enough space was in the process of vetting, right? So now if you’re a well-established organization and you’ve got a decades-long running conference, you might be wary to bring somebody that you don’t know anything about into your thing because their actions will actually reflect upon the whole organization.
So AYA, having a concerted effort to bring new astrologers—especially young astrologers—into the fold is actually a really meaningful mechanism of equalizing the disparity. It makes sense to me now that something that takes so long to learn well—particularly pre-internet—that people would be very protective of that space.
AFAN, I think we can see that it makes sense that AFAN had a really great response, or at least a very good response to everything that was taking place in June. Because while their mission is legal, they perceive it as a civil rights-focused organization. Their mission is to ensure that all astrologers have the right to practice just like any other business person would.
I think I missed AFAN’s meeting today. It sounds like there’s some discussion in the community about creating an organization that has the means to at least address harms that have taken place. And I get the sense from what folks have been asking for during the duration of QAC and before that—whether it’s for consequences and protection to happen, or whether it’s for restorative justice to be able to take place—that space really needs to come about.
I have been working with some colleagues—Diana Rose Harper, Kirah Tabourn, and Erin Tack Shipley—around starting an organization tentatively called MICA, the Metaphysical and Intersectional Collective of Astrologers. Metaphysical because it’s an interdisciplinary group. Yeah, we’re astrologers, but I think folks who are constantly synthesizing every useful thing they come across might be more inclined to have an intersectional approach because ultimately that approach is about the material outcome, which is to create more inclusion, more equity.
Those are kind of pop phrase words right now, so they might sound a little empty, but what I’m getting at with that is actually creating the conditions for anybody with the interest and the commitment to show up and have the opportunity to do the real work. Collective because that collective aspect is actually different than hierarchy, right?
So intersectionality in its more radical form is going to be about dismantling all those systems of oppression. Not just making a space where there’s less oppression happening, but dismantling white supremacy, dismantling colonial imperialism, dismantling patriarchy—this is heteronormative patriarchy. I don’t want to just make it sound like I think astrologers are going to dismantle that universally in the world, but I think that we have the ability to be clever in our astrological interpretation and delineation in a way that allows us to do that in the astrological world.
And I think because we already think in 12 signs and 12 rising signs and all the different houses that it’s a little easier when the opportunity is presented in the right way to invite people into that process. So Metaphysical Intersectional Collective of Astrologers, MICA, is an organization that is just now forming. As more and more need in the community becomes apparent I think we’re realizing that we need a more and more solid container to invite people into to begin the process.
Just like misgendering someone at the beginning of a consultation isn’t a great way to rebuild rapport, creating a wild confusion of misorganization and disorganization isn’t a great way to start an organization. I think for folks who want to be involved what we’ve been saying is to reach out to any one of us in the DMs.
Anybody is welcome to email me. Bear—spelled like the animal, B-E-A-R—@PsycheandSoulAstrology. God help me, I’m going to spell it. P-S-Y-C-H-E A-N-D A-S-T-R-O-L-O-G-Y.com. But any of the social media is fine if you’re interested. As a collective, it’s really important that we get everybody who has an interest and an investment in the movement involved so that the organization actually reflects the needs of the collective.
CB: Yeah, and I think you guys already started an Instagram account, which is MICAstrologers, or instagram.com/micastrologers, right?
BR: Yeah, there’s an Instagram going. We’re working on putting together a website. As you have mentioned, the lack of great elections really reflects the lack of great conditions for creating things as quickly or easily as we might otherwise like. So that’s something that’s all on our radar is to kind of pin down what the formal options are for incorporating the organization, or whether that’s something that doesn’t make sense as a non-hierarchical, collective-type of organization.
CB: You mentioned in our notes, you see this as part of the big call from the Saturn in Aquarius transit. And it makes me think of that Jupiter-Saturn conjunction that’s happening later this year and whether that wouldn’t be useful for something like this from an electional standpoint if you did decide to go that route.
BR: Ooh, that would be much better than the Mars-Saturn conjunction in my business conception chart, that’s for sure.
CB: Yeah, or the Mars retrograde coming up in September. So much going on this month. Of course there’s just so much Mercury square Mars, so it seems like there’s little fires just everywhere in different places in the astrological community, which is a tricky time to begin some things. Although, historically, different astrological organizations like AFAN have started as a deliberate result of breaking away from earlier organizations due to disputes and generational disputes and things like that.
CB: But yeah, I mean, certainly there’s room and new generations of astrologers that have different needs and different attitudes and different things that they think are important. Sometimes the necessity is to create a new group or a new organization that can address those needs directly when the time comes.
BR: Absolutely. One of the most important things that we’ve been talking about, or one of the most important needs I think we’re attempting to address is there’s a lot of astrological certifications out there and the question of whether or not that’s beneficial for an astrologer to have them or what it does exactly is different. But most of the certifications are basically can you delineate the chart, can you do the math.
OPA’s very specifically do you have the consultation skills, have you spent enough time with your peers to really be involved in this process because of the length of time that it actually would take to complete OPA’s certification. It’s not just like you can crack a book once you get the interest and then, boom, I’m certified, so they have a bit more of a qualitative- and consultation-focused certification process.
But the one thing that I haven’t seen is a certification process that is geared toward or an educational track that’s really geared to how to be really sensitive and—I don’t want to say woke, but more politically astute in our understanding and perception in the way that we interact around those political things.
It’s one thing to know that the lot math and the horary seem to point to different things about what is gender and how that shows up in the chart, it’s quite another to be sensitive enough to be consulting with a transperson and do that in a way that’s really affirming to their experience. And the same goes for race and class and all of that stuff.
So I think not like a sensitivity training—I gave one of those to a school district in the past, and I don’t know that it actually had a real material benefit other than to make some people uncomfortable. So I think some type of MICA-approved stamp or something like, hey, this person is either involved in this organization or is taking this training.
And so, if you’re a young, radical, queer, or brown person seeking an astrologer, you can safely book a session with this person and no they’re not going to misgender you or cause you harm because they’re either not aware of these things or these things don’t land to them as important.
I know that there are some folks who just have fundamentally different ideas about what’s offensive, what’s appropriate. And so, I think an organization that’s addressing the need that I think is coming primarily from younger astrologers to be more responsive, to be safer. I’m thinking of Making Safer Spaces by Shawna Potter, something that I’m working on to really step up that skill set, so that I can provide a better impact for young people.
I think that is kind of the main focus is creating education and a space that actually facilitates that process. That’s a big thing that’s up for me right now after QAC. It’s all well and good to understand you’ve made a mistake and to apologize, but an apology and a repair are different. And one of the things that I’ve kind of realized this past weekend is that there isn’t an organization or a body or a structure, a place or a thing that somebody can interact with to engage that process of repair other than that individual person, that individual conference.
But something larger I think would give a lot of astrologers of varying degrees of practice length—a professional or amateur enthusiast—give everybody the means to avoid interacting with folks that have a history of being unsafe and to focus time and energy in the direction of folks who are really advancing the discipline in a way that makes it more alive to more people.
CB: Right. In the notes you have some keywords that were really important like ‘accountability and a process for repair and restoration’. And it feels like that is something that I’ve seen myself that’s been missing in some of the organizations for different reasons for years now, where those aren’t necessarily things that are kind of built in.
There was a push at one point in the ‘90s to develop ethical codes that they largely modeled off of counseling-type ethical codes, but it was hard, or some of the organizations would complain that there wasn’t a lot they could do to enforce them and things like that, so that’s one of the challenges.
BR: Yeah, yeah. I think some things will be quite simple; definitely thinking about that code of ethics. Obviously, confidentiality, that’s really easy. I can’t imagine any type of astrological practitioner saying, “Oh, no, in my practice that’s necessary to share people’s personal information.”
But then there are other things that seem very practice-dependent or culturally-dependent, and a way to have a code of conduct that people can point to and say, “Hey, I had this experience that was way outside of what astrologers in general would consider appropriate,” I think that is important. There obviously are going to be really specific things that don’t work universally. If some people say concrete predictions are bad, then I don’t know what that means for electional.
CB: Or horary.
BR: Yeah, or horary. “This is definitely going to go well for you. If you do it on this date, your end results will be fantastic. Yeah, the judge is going to rule in your favor, start the suit.” So there’s definitely that need to happen, but I think what I’m seeing is that the core things really come down to are groups continuously giving and empowering individuals who have a history of problematic or violent behavior, anything along that spectrum, into the astrological community. And if it’s not that, it’s not this incident of violence or assault, it’s extreme discomfort, and it’s so difficult to engage this without a community.
And that’s the thing that I’m coming across is that looking at two people involved in conflict is not the same thing as a community coming together and discussing whether or not something is in alignment. I think that it’s particularly important if the goal is restoration, ideally, if somebody does something wrong or harmful that is not horrifically egregious or just really egregious, there would be the opportunity for that person to continue to engage their community with repair and restoration actually happening.
So that’s something that I’ll be in more dialogue with my colleagues about as we figure out how to open up MICA, and what it would even mean and look like to create a space and a mechanism in the age of the corona for that type of work to happen. For me, there’s a lot of questions there, but I do feel very clear that with a space that is intersectionally-attuned that it’s possible to have these really difficult conversations and processes in a way that is ultimately safe for the community.
I think one thing that a lot of people can potentially struggle with is getting into that really fine point in between the upset and in between where the learning point or the working point exists. I’m thinking about in consultation working with someone where I’m going, “Ooh, you’ve got that Saturn-Pluto conjunction right on your Ascendant. That’s going to be like, okay, I could name a whole bunch of really unpleasant circumstances, and you’ll probably tell me you’ve experienced this recently. “But what’s the actual thing where this client has the opportunity to make it manageable, make it into something that they can have agency around.
So I think an organization with a specific mission and charter in that direction is really necessary. I’m not sure if MICA will be the restoration body of astrology and what that entails, but I’m definitely excited to talk to more folks who’ve been engaged in organizations and have a history in the community to figure out what is possible with the resources that it has.
CB: Yeah, I mean, it seems like something that’s important to bring attention to in some form or another, whatever that ends up looking like, and bringing a new set of concerns that are relevant to where we’re at at this point in the early 21st century. A few decades ago, there was one organization that was in town, and some of the astrologers that came in in the ‘60s and ‘70s started butting heads with that organization over something simple as whether speakers should be paid for their talks, for example, and so some of the younger astrologers back then broke away and formed their own organizations.
And part of the thing that they wanted to start doing was paying speakers for their talks, so they started paying them like a hundred dollars or something. And it’s pretty much actually stayed about the same since then in terms of what speakers get paid, but for them that was progress and that was part of the call to action for the day. But it seems like different organizations at different points rise up or different groups come together based on whatever the need is from the astrologers who are coming up at the time and what the social focus is at the time.
BR: Yeah, yeah. Definitely for those who have the opportunity when it’s allowed again to attend the conferences in real life, I found out some very juicy details about some of those things just from having the chance to sit down and talk with astrologers and elders in the community to find out what was going on back then. I read something in a book, but that sounds really traumatic.
And I don’t know if it’s like ‘this’ generation, as in the cohort of people who are active in this generation of astrology as its own lineage, if that makes sense, like not ‘people’ generation. It seems very clear that simply saying things that sound really good that are nice for the client or nice for the community is not enough anymore.
It’s not about here’s some cool chart examples and here’s this one planet, and this planet and this career field. People are looking for tools for really either building concrete structures in their lives or dismantling the ones that are oppressive. And I think astrology has the ability to do that and it’s done that for different people throughout history.
And the question now is how does this idea of community—like we’re all part of astrology—but how do we translate this big, abstract notion of community into an actual fabric that people can be wrapped up in. I don’t know how to close that metaphor in a good way, so I’ll go Cancerian with it.
We can create, we can weave something together that has the ability to provide warmth and comfort for people if we are attentive to the social conditions around us. And astrology already has a whole branch dedicated to doing just that. So I’d implore people to really get intersectional. Learn what you can, what you have access to.
For all the men out there, it’s really imperative that we dig into feminism and that we listen to the women and the ladies, the them folks who are not male-identified around us to ensure that the learning that we’re doing is accurate and that ultimately that learning is in service of creating material change.
CB: Brilliant. Where would you recommend that people could learn more either about intersectionality or about astrologers that are bringing intersectional praxis in action into their astrology?
BR: Whoa, everyone who participated in Dignity Babes would be a great place to start. Can I actually name everybody? I feel like I’m going to panic and miss some.
CB: Yeah, and I don’t mean to put you on the spot. You did have a brilliant list and maybe there was a handout or something, or maybe it was just your slides at the end of your lecture on this at NORWAC.
CB: Because we’ve sort of skimmed over and summarized a lot of this, but you went into much more detail about intersectionality and the intersection of different axes in terms of gender and class and orientation and different things like that. So people could check out your lecture, which I think you have on your website, right?
BR: I will before you release this to the public, I will make that proper. At the very least, what I’ve been doing in the interim is just having people tell me they want it and then sending them the video and the link to my PayPal. Anybody at any tier can get access to that video and another lecture on my Patreon. So for as little as two bucks a month, you can get access to that. So the Patreon or the website or emailing me will all be ways that people can get their hands on that lecture.
So a handful of people that are doing that work, Irina Tudor is one person who’s really deeply invested in the research aspect and who’s looking at gender in a way that I think is really important and is going to be big for our community. Kirah Tabourn, one of my colleagues, a dear friend, her work in bringing publishing opportunities and speaking opportunities to folks who are traditionally not featured in the astrological world is so, so important. It’s great to speak, but writing opportunities, speaking opportunities, there’s a bunch of different ways that people can do their intersectionality. It’s not just I founded some organization, or I do it in my practice.
Daniel Bernal and Drew Levanti have the Queer Skies podcast. I think it might be on hiatus right now, but you can go back and see the episodes they did with Michael J. Morris. All three of them are really excellent astrologers who’ve got some fantastic feminist analysis and praxis in their own work. Daniel Bernal’s book is about emergent strategy in astrology and how we can bring those frameworks together.
Diana Rose Harper who you’ve already featured, her talk about astrology as radical self-care is super important. And just her way of approaching the consultation as a brilliant and incisive interrogation, I can’t recommend it enough. She’s way busy, so get on her waiting list.
Erin Tack Shipley is another person. She is a queer white woman who’s deeply engaged in being a white accomplice. White allies are fantastic and we love you, and white accomplices know that dismantling white supremacy is a little bit of an illegal act, so that’s the distinction there. But Erin is a fantastic resource for white folks especially who would like to engage that work because that’s not labor for brown people to do.
Charm Torres. Alice Sparkly Kat, definitely, like you said there, their piece on essential dignity in relation to travel and the foreigner archetype is just brilliant. And their work and their commitment to the process of restoration is also really alive right now in the moment. I feel like this is just really good inspiration for me to get together a bigger list for folks who want to learn more about intersectionality. I would recommend starting with the person who coined the term, Kimberlé Crenshaw.
There is an excellent TED Talk that is very moving, very challenging, and includes some graphic imagery. But her talk, The Urgency of Intersectionality, I believe that was a TED Talk in 2016, really just outlines it in a beautiful way, and I would expect no less of the person who put that work forth first would say it in the most succinct and potent way.
CB: Would you mind if I put up the list of names that you shared on the last slide of your talk? I just pulled it up.
BR: Yeah, absolutely.
CB: I realized that might be really helpful right about now.
CB: Because you actually at the end of your NORWAC talk shared a list of most of those names and Twitter handles and websites and such.
BR: Yes. And I know Drew Levanti has now made a move to really formally step into his practice, so I’m sure that there’ll be a website that we can plop in there eventually. But yeah, Daniel Bernal—in alphabetical order—Daniel Bernal, Diana Rose Harper, Drew Levanti, Michael J. Morris, Erin Tack Shipley, Kirah Tabourn, Irina Tudor. Like I said, there’s so many more—Charm Torres.
Kirstin [W]u—I believe I’m saying that correctly—a UK-based astrologer gave a fantastic talk about the 6th and 12th house that folks are going to have to wait a little while to get their hands on, but very, very moving work.
CB: Oh, yeah, I heard that was really good, from the Queer Astrology Conference. A lot of people were talking about that. There’s a bunch that I missed I’m looking forward to seeing as soon as the recordings are released. And I think if you signed up for the conference, or maybe if you still sign up—I’m not sure—you get access to the recordings for the rest of the year. Did you hear that as well?
BR: Yeah, registration was not meant to close. So if you missed the conference, you missed a live opportunity. But when Demetrius Begley gets all those videos processed and up, then anybody who has registered or does register will have access to all of those videos with no time limit. So you don’t have to try to cram every single lecture in a small window. Yeah, there were quite a few speakers at the Queer Astrology Conference who had very interesting and provocative work that I think is going to be really important, and I can’t bring everybody’s names to mind.
Other non-astrology resources that could be really important, I mentioned Making Spaces Safer, Shawna Potter. I think that bell hooks’ All About Love—really understanding that our definition of love as a set of actions that are about facilitating the wellbeing and growth of others—is a really great place to start in understanding that core bit of the ethics of care and the move towards collective liberation that is really a bedrock of movements these days.
And what else do I want to point people to? I’m trying to look at all my books. Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism, both from Adrienne Maree Brown, are going to be great for now. If you can get your hands on material from Barnor Hesse—B-A-R-N-O-R; Barnor Hesse like Herman Hesse—who’s a professor at Northwestern, has a course called Unsettling Whiteness.
And there’s some material and articles you can get related to that that really eloquently unpack the difference between whiteness and individuals who are white; those are different. I grew up with white-passing, indigenous family and white family. Especially for folks who are close to or steeped in whiteness, it’s important to understand that it’s not the ‘you’, it’s the systems, and I think that his work can really facilitate that process.
But Kimberlé Crenshaw has so much work, so many articles, Vox, Medium, all over the place. But not just to cite Black women and cite the originator of the work, but to point you to the most important bit of information that folks can get out there, and then from there applying it to the astrological practice. Check out all the folks involved in Dignity Babes. Check out many of the speakers from QAC. That’s going to be a pretty good reader’s digest of who’s who in the intersectional astrology world right now.
CB: Yeah, and luckily several of the people that you mentioned I’ve already got scheduled for upcoming episodes and we’re negotiating stuff like that with Irina Tudor and Michael Morris and Alice Sparkly Kat and Diana Rose Harper and Cello Pierce.
BR: Yeah, Cello, yes.
CB: So people can get the recordings from the Queer Astrology Conference that just happened last weekend at QueerAstrology.com. Where can people find out more information about your work? Your main website is PsycheandSoulAstrology.com, right?
BR: Yes, that is my main website. Patreon is where I’m going to be putting a lot of work these days. I’m going to be doing my first Moon webinar—Moon work webinar. I don’t have a catchy name for it, Moonwalk webinar. Back in May, I spoke for the Washington State Association of Astrologers, WSAA, and gave a longer presentation format.
This is going to be a monthly webinar coming up before the New Moon where we will kind of forum-style. Everybody will have an opportunity to workshop their transits, their chart, and what that lunation is for them after breaking down the transit in a larger collective sense. So that first lecture is going to be July 24, next week. Not next week, 10 days from now, over at my Patreon. So if you hop on there at any level, I’ll make that available.
And these days, I’m mostly focusing on research and writing. I’ve got a very long project cooking to kind of look at the same methodologies Rick Tarnas used for Cosmos and Psyche to do that same type of diachronic and synchronic cycle research for non-Western culture and make that more of a collective process, so that people are speaking from their own cultural framework. But yeah, the website and speaking is mostly what I’ve been up to recently.
CB: Brilliant. And do you have a lecture coming up with Fresh Voices in Astrology?
BR: Oh, yes, I do. I have a lecture coming up with the Fresh Voices in Astrology Summit, which I believe there’s going to be a very big announcement on Thursday about that and who’s involved in that. Really excited. I don’t know exactly what time, I know it should be August 15 and 16, and I’ll be kind of giving a slightly updated version of that Moon lecture Cancer Rising, Full Moon Baby.
So always talking about the Moon and what more we can find, particularly as I synthesize more research. This round is going to be more like Donna Cunningham, Mark Jones, and what we can see from their two takes, constantly working on different ways to get people really lunar-with-it.
CB: Brilliant. All right, well, people can check that out at FreshVoicesInAstrology.com. And I’ll put links to all of this in the description below this video, or on the description page on TheAstrologyPodcast.com website for this episode. Thanks a lot for joining me today. This was awesome.
BR: Thank you so much for having me. A real honor.
CB: All right, well, we’ll have to do this again sometime. But congratulations on making a huge splash in the astrological community lately with everything that you have going on. You seem like you have multiple plates spinning at all times.
BR: Oh, yes, especially right now. I have a feeling that August will smooth things out a little bit with everything going on. With the Patreon, I’m able to take a little sabbatical and simmer things down and turn up the pots on all of the astrology work.
CB: Brilliant. All right, well, you’ll have to come back and join us again another time then to cover whatever you get into next.
CB: But in the meantime, thanks for joining me, and thanks everybody for listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and we’ll see you again next time.
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