The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 330, titled:
With Chris Brennan and Ray Grasse
Episode originally released on December 7, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released December 7, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to the Astrology Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to be talking about a variety of different astrological topics with astrologer Ray Grasse. Hey Ray, welcome to the show.
RAY GRASSE: Thanks for having me.
CB: Yeah, I’m excited to talk to you in this episode. I’m having a hard time coming up with the title for this episode and it’ll be a surprise what the eventual title is, but some of our working titles at this point are Lessons From a Lifetime of Practising Astrology with Ray Grasse, because you’ve been a longtime editor and columnist of The Mountain Astrologer magazine and you’ve published two different collections of your essays over the course of your astrological career that just have a variety of different really interesting anecdotes and lessons and reflections on astrology. And I thought it’d be interesting to talk about some of those topics today if you’re up for it.
RG: Yeah, absolutely.
CB: Okay, so let me show an image. The first book was published in 2015 and this is published by Wessex, it was titled Under a Sacred Sky: Essays on the Practice and Philosophy of Astrology. And the other one was titled StarGates: Essays on Astrology, Symbolism, and the Synchronistic Universe, which was published in 2020. Did you self-publish that one?
CB: Okay, nice. Well, they’re both really great collections of essays. One of the things I wanted to start with talking about, one of our umbrella topics is we’ve both been talking recently about how astronomers like Mike Brown are searching for this planet, this large planet that they think is somewhere out there past Pluto. And one of the questions that astrologers have, which is how do astrologers figure out the meaning of new planets once a new planet is discovered? And this brings up a lot of interesting questions about, you know, the fundamental nature of astrology and the premise and how astrologers derive significations from symbolism, as well as the nature of astrology as well itself in dealing with symbolism. That’s a recurring topic in your essays, the nature of astrology working through synchronicity and symbolism. Right?
RG: Right. Yeah. So when you have the discovery of a new planet, there’s different things you can look at to try to figure out the meaning of that planet, like the events that happen around the actual discovery. Like under Uranus, you had this revolutionary spirit and democracy, the industrial revolution, so on and so forth. Under Neptune, you had more of an emphasis on civil rights and freeing oppressed peoples and so on. And so let’s say there’s a new planet discovered, and that’s just come up in the last week about this sense of a new possible planet being found but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. How are we going to determine what that planet means? Like I said, look at maybe the events around the discovery, give a year or two on either side at least. You can look at the Sabian symbol for the discovery degree. Over the course of decades, you can watch conjunctions to that planet; let’s say Jupiter conjuncts that planet every 12 years, you see what happens. Uranus squares it, or in your own personal chart you see where it falls if it’s on the angle, or if it’s conjunct in a personal planet. Now, in the case of a planet that’s way out past Pluto, it’s tricky because it would move very, very slowly so it wouldn’t make much of a movement over the course of a single lifetime. But if it’s conjunct in your personal planet, for example, that takes on a certain signification so that you might look at 10 charts of people that have that new planet conjunct the moon and you see a certain characteristic with that.
CB: Yeah, I was looking at Eris recently and it’s just been like grinding its way through Aries forever, it seems like. Right? For quite a while.
RG: Yeah. It seems to take forever but if it’s conjunct to an important degree in your chart, you’re going to get some sense of it more than someone that doesn’t have that sort of connection to it.
CB: Right. Well, let’s go back to square one, though, because we’re already jumping into how to discover the planets. But in terms of the mechanism of astrology, is it because the planets are influencing events on Earth? Or what is your opinion on that when it comes to what is the mechanism underlying astrology?
RG: Yeah, good question. I don’t buy into the force argument that there’s some kind of emanations coming from the planet. I think there may be emanate emanations but in terms of the effect that has in our life– or rather, it’s not so much an effect, it’s a synchronistic sort of thing as without so within so that you have, let’s say around the discovery of Pluto, you had the criminal underworld becoming big. You have the stock market depression the year before, you had psychology reaching a sort of zenith in terms of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud and all this. It’s not that that caused anything to happen, it’s a synchronistic effect and It gets into this aspect of symbolism that is often overlooked when you hear arguments about astrology. For instance, the difference between the way an astronomer looks at Jupiter and the way an astrologer looks at Jupiter is that the astronomer can analyze Jupiter in terms of the gasses, the weight, the size, dimensions, etc. An astrologer looks at Jupiter in terms of its meaning, in terms of the symbolism that it has. And that’s connected to a whole network of correspondences. That’s not something that can be easily measured, although [Goglin] actually did a pretty interesting job of showing that there is some meaning there. Because you see Jupiter, for example, positioned in the charts of politicians and actors, you see Saturn very strong in the charts of scientists and physicians, Mars very prominent in the charts of athletes. Outstanding athletes, I should say.
CB: Right. I think you said in your book– I think maybe you were quoting a teacher where you said that astrology is astronomy interpreted symbolically or something to that effect?
RG: Yeah. This is a teacher I studied with in Florida, a disciple of Yogananda. His name was Shelly Trimmer, a very profound occultist. I asked him to describe astrology to me and he said that astrology is astronomy symbolically interpreted. It takes the same basic facts as astronomy but it infuses those with a certain meaning. And that’s something that quantum physics can’t really approach, Newtonian science can’t approach. It’s a hermeneutic dimension that sees a different layer to the events, to the phenomena, than an astronomer or scientist would see in it.
CB: Right. So this gets back to the principle of that. Carl Jung defined it as the principle of synchronicity which is an acausal or symbolic connecting principle where things are connected through coinciding in time and in meaning, right?
RG: Right. In other words, the nature of synchronicity– and there’s a lot of debates over what that means. Different people have interpreted differently and I myself included, but he also talked about not only asynchronization of events, but there is a dimension of archetypeality, of an archetype involved in a symbolic meaning. Because you can have two things coinciding in a somewhat causal way, like the two particles that are separated in space according to Bell’s theorem and EPR effect, but they’re not connected symbolically. They’re literal connections, where is when Carl Jung found a beetle tapping at the window at the time a patient of his was talking about a dream she had about an Egyptian scarab, you know, there was a symbolic meaning in terms of how that tied into her life and that kind of helped her break through the block that she had in her therapy at that point. Is that answering your…
CB: A little bit. But I think you had some really good examples in your book of some specific synchronistic sort of astrological parallels. For example, I think there was one with a client with like Mars on the I.C or something like that in consultation?
RG: Yeah, a client had– if I remember the story, it’s been quite a while since I wrote that but Mars on the I.C, the lowest part of the chart. And I asked this client what happened around the time she was born, if there was anything that happened. I often like to ask that because sometimes people remember or not remember, but the parents remember what happened. And you often find very interesting synchronicities and symbols around the time the child was born. She said that while her mother was at the hospital giving birth to her, there was fire back at the house.
RG: And, you know, how do you explain something like that to a scientist if they take a materialistic view of astrology or if they approach it from that kind of mechanistic viewpoint? How do you explain that Mars being at the bottom of the sky at the moment someone is born somehow ties into fire breaking out? How do you explain that there’s a connection between Mars and fire, or knives and the color red, or arguments, or warfare? These are symbolic correspondences and the doctrine like I was saying to you the other night. Astrology is based on the doctrine of correspondences, which is this subterranean network of symbolic resonance as you might say. So again, you look to see what happens at the time someone’s born and it’s not necessarily a literal connection. The other example I’ve used with that is from the Native American tradition where a child is born and at the moment the child is born, the parents see a deer running by the teepee, for instance. So what do they call the child? They call the child Running Deer. It’s not because there’s some force field coming from the deer to the child, it’s not because of some quantum physical principle, it’s because that deer is a symbol. And everything around is a symbol in that sense at the time of birth. The stars are just one set of symbols at the moment of birth.
CB: Right. That really gets into something that seems to arise spontaneously, or did arise spontaneously in a lot of ancient cultures, which is paying attention to omens and omenology; which are things happening in the environment simultaneous to something that have some sort of symbolic importance because certain moments in time have a certain quality, and that quality ripples through different events that occur in that same moment. It seems like part of the premise?
RG: Right. And if you go back into the Babylonian omens series, for example, they had a distinction between celestial omens and terrestrial omens. The terrestrial omens, the earthbound omens, might be something like a two-headed animal starts walking through the city, for instance. And that’s an anomaly. So that’s something unusual, they log that and they see if that corresponds to something happening to the ruler of the empire. And then if that happens again, 20 years later they see an animal with two heads, they make the connection. They start establishing predictions. But then you have the celestial omens which includes what became astrology as we understand it, where it might be eclipses, it might be comets, it might be strange meteorological phenomena. Again, they understood that it wasn’t just the stars and the planets that you look to. You look to everything, and the stars and planets make it a little easier, you might say, because you can take an ephemeris out and see everything. It’s not always so easy to go outside and see other phenomena happening, like 200 animals and all that.
CB: Yeah. I think that’s important because once you understand synchronicity and symbolic thinking, it gives you a much better access point for understanding and even generating new meanings in astrology. So understanding the planets that we already have and getting a deeper insight into why they mean what they mean. Like why Jupiter means what it means or why Mars means what it means, but also potentially as a better access point for generating and understanding new planetary bodies that will be discovered in the future as well. One of the things that’s really interesting about that that I want to talk to you about that I know you’ve written an article about is how some of the astronomical properties of the planets that are only being recently discovered relatively recently in the span of human history through the invention of telescopes, or through the ability of humans to fly spacecraft by and photograph different planets, how some of the physical properties of the planets interestingly either inform us or echoes some astrological significations and symbolism that astrologers already associated with those planets, right?
RG: Yeah. For instance Mars, it’s red, you know, which is the color of Mars. And it turns out that the reason for that that they discovered in the last, I guess, 50-60 years is because of iron oxide on Mars. Now, isn’t it interesting that long before a scientist knew that there was iron oxide on Mars, Mars was associated with iron in occult symbolism in terms of the metals. Or you take, for instance, when they discovered Uranus we did not know that it was tilted on its axis. It had a very eccentric sort of orbital axial rotation.
CB: Right. It’s one of the sort of weird planets. It’s one of the only planets that does that for some reason, that rotates on its side rather than the “normal” way that all the rest of the planets do.
RG: Right. That tells you something about the eccentricity of the planet itself in terms of its meaning. Or you-
CB: -that people… Let’s just dwell on it. I don’t want to move on too fast. I want to really milk each of these. Like, going back to Mars; one of the other things with Mars that I noticed when I went with my friend Nick Dagan years ago to like a planetarium where they were doing tours of all the planets. And one of the things about Mars is it has this huge– when you’re looking at it from space– like a gash across the entire planet.
RG: Valles Marineris.
CB: Yeah, what is that? It’s like the biggest-
RG: The largest canyon in the Solar System.
CB: Yeah. That’s really striking from just a visual and symbolic standpoint, since that’s also one of the things just traditionally for over 2000 years now that Mars is associated with is, you know, cuts and lacerations and scars. Especially like some of the ancient texts that talk about the appearance of somebody, like the appearance of a client. They’ll say if Mars is in a certain place they have a scar after getting cut in that place, for example.
RG: Yeah. Yeah, that’s good.
RG: And… Go on.
CB: Go on.
RG: Well, know that you can do that with all the planets. Some, it’s a little more obvious than others. Like the way I first got into this way of thinking was when that teacher– one of my three astrology teachers, Shelly Trimmer, he’s the one back in the late 70s that said to me about, “If you look to the properties of the planets, you’ll get some clues about their meaning.” And he used Jupiter. And he said that Jupiter is so large that it establishes the orbital planes for all the different planets. It’s the law giver of the Solar system in that sense, and he said that then can be taken to understand how Jupiter is the law giver in its symbolic meaning in terms of judicial matters in law giving and that type of thing. And the sheer size of it, it’s very expansive. It’s by far the most expansive planet outside– well the Sun isn’t a planet, but the most expansive body of the Solar system and that whatever it touches in the horoscope becomes expanded, and so on.
CB: Right. It’s interesting because, you know, one of the things about that with Jupiter is like ancient astrologers, there’s no way of knowing that Jupiter was the largest planet besides the Sun, the largest body besides the Sun in the Solar system prior to modern times or the invention of the telescope. But there was something about the way that Jupiter was interpreted symbolically that already tied it into that, you know, centuries before that realization. So some of those additional astronomical properties that were discovered, actually reinforced in many ways the already existing lineage of sort of interpreting those bodies astrologically.
RG: That raises the question, to what degree do astrologers understand the meaning of a new planet through intuition? When, let’s say Uranus was discovered, did they- You’ve told that story of was it Valley, Valerie? The fellow that-
CB: [00:16:56] I mean, I take that as implying that many of the early traditional astrologers that were sort of working that lineage were trying to develop some of the understandings empirically. Because in that story, Varley, he had an idea that was going to be important, there’s an important Uranus transit coming. He had gotten the idea from the past instances that some sort of violent or unexpected disruption might happen. And then he shut himself inside his house when the appointed hour came in order to be safe, but then his house caught on fire unexpectedly, and he ran outside and scribbled down his notes that he’d discovered the meaning of Uranus and confirmed it as his house burned to the ground.
RG: Yeah. I think that on the one hand, there is that empirical side to understanding what a new planet is, but you have to then wonder; to what degree might people– an intuitive person, a psychic, a channeler or whatever it might be– using a pendulum muscle testing, are there ways to determine what the planet means in those other non-empirical fashions? And that’s an open question, obviously.
CB: Yeah. From my approach, at least, I think so much of the original meanings of the planets was tied in with symbolic considerations, and almost everything that we understand about the planets can be traced back ultimately to some kind of astronomical or symbolic property. That was one of the things that attracted me to studying ancient astrology is realizing that there were actually reasons for many of these things that had just been handed down by tradition for centuries, and that we’ve taken for granted as astrologers for many centuries, but actually did have some kind of logical almost rationale in some sense.
RG: And in some cases, it’s very curious what astronomers have come up with in terms of how that enhances the meaning. For instance, Venus is very beautiful when you look at it up in the sky. And yet in Vedic cosmology as I remember, Venus was associated with Shukra, the demon goddess, the guru to the demons. So there is that dark side to Venus and then astronomers find out that there is this extraordinary heat on Venus’ surface. It’ll burn you up; you can’t even put a spacecraft on there without melting after a certain period of time. And the word Venus tying into the word venereal, for instance. Maybe that is a possibility of how the properties reflect some of the deeper subtler meanings of a planet.
CB: Yeah. I think it implies that once astrologers do pick up on the correct not just symbolic, but archetypal meeting, that once astrologers do get a good line on really truly tapping into what the archetype of the planet is, that that archetype will later continue to be confirmed through other means that may be discovered subsequent to that even if they weren’t known about initially.
RG: Yeah. And I’m very intrigued by the outer three planets, the trans-Saturnian planets, because they represent progressively deeper points in space. For example, Pluto is so far out. Whereas it takes about five minutes or eight minutes for light to come from the Sun to the Earth, it takes five hours for light to reach Pluto. It’s way out there. In fact, it’s in our past, if you go into that idea of how the further in space things are, the more into our past they are because of the time it takes for light to get to us. Pluto represents this point that is very deep in the darkness. It represents a point that’s very deep in the subconscious, you might say. And also the past. Whenever Pluto triggers in someone’s chart, you often see this welling up of elements or people or phenomena from the past. Like I had a client recently where Pluto crossed her Venus. And she had played harp as a child, and that Harp was tucked away in the closet when right when Pluto triggered her Venus, she found her old harp and she started playing again. Again, things from the past, that sense of the depths rising up into the present.
RG: Let me add one other point to that, which is that Uranus is kind of a threshold planet because you can see Uranus on a really clear night if you know where to look. Neptune represents the first fully invisible planet visible to human eyes. So when Neptune was discovered in the mid 1800s 1846, there was this welling up of mystical sort of interest. You had Abraham Lincoln holding seances in the White House, for instance. You had Edgar Allan Poe was writing around the time Neptune was discovered. You had this element of symbolism and art that started first with the Pre-Raphaelites and then later on with artists like John Delville. It was an extraordinary century in terms of the second half of the century being this opening up of hidden things that had been previously hidden, including the Theosophical Society and the writings of occultists like Madame Blavatsky and the Golden Dawn Magical Group and so on and so forth. So again, the position in the Solar system of those outer planets, I think… And also, one other point about that; the further out you go, the broader the orbits are that are circumscribed by those outer planets. They represent broader concerns, collective concerns, generational concerns. I liken it to the fact that for example, elephants can hear broader wavelengths. We can’t hear when an elephant is speaking to another elephant two miles away, but they can. They hear those broader wavelengths. When you see a very strong connection to the outer planets in someone’s chart, Uranus Neptune or Pluto. It’s like those people can hear those broader wavelengths. So you take someone that has got a strong Uranus, let’s say, on the Ascendant for instance. They can hear those broader wavelengths when it comes to things like social activism, social concerns, technological factors, like Walt Disney had Sun conjunct in Uranus and Heisenberg born on the same day as Disney. Neptune is more spiritual factors or artistic factors, like the singer, Sting, has Moon conjunct in Neptune and you see all the time Christian preachers that have strong Neptunes. And Pluto for instance, you see that very strong in the charts of like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud and Mick Jagger, for that matter. This sense of you’re tuned into this collective wavelength that is very different from let’s say, the inner planets in that sense.
CB: Yeah, or sometimes they can become unwittingly or, you know, in a way that they’re not necessarily fully on board with the symbol for an entire generation or entire generation of generations change. Like, I always think of Kurt Cobain had late Virgo rising with that Pluto-Uranus conjunction conjunct his Ascendant. And the way in which the rise of Nirvana in the in 1991 or so with the release of this one album, just signaled this entire sea change in music and the rise of grunge in early 1990s virtually overnight, but then it was something that he became very uncomfortable with as a somewhat sensitive and like private person. He sort of struggled with fame and struggled with being that popular basically overnight.
RG: Yeah. Let’s say a person’s got a Mercury trine Uranus. That’s very different from Mercury square Uranus or oppose Uranus because that person but the square or the opposition is going to be more at odds with the collective wavelength whereas the Trine for instance is going to be more in tune with it. That’s very tricky, you can’t put judgments on that. Like Ben Franklin, I believe, had Mercury oppose Uranus. And he was a revolutionary; he was ahead of his time so it may simply be the square. Or that beautiful mind scientist, I forget his name. He had mercury square Uranus, I believe. It doesn’t mean they can’t, it may be that they’re ahead of their time. It may be that they’re not synced into the current zeitgeist, but they’re somehow tuned into that broader sense but not necessarily in timing.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. To wrap up the section just talking about the properties of the planets, here’s an image of Mars just to demonstrate visually of just how large this gash or canyon or scar across the face of Mars is of the planet, and how just visually sort of striking that is from a symbolic standpoint.
RG: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a nice picture.
CB: Yeah, it is a pretty good picture. I think it’s from NASA or it’s like a rendering from NASA. So there’s that. We mentioned Uranus, of course, being one of the only planets that does something very unique or odd and rotating on its side. And in a similar way, Uranus when it’s prominent in the chart can often indicate an area where a person stands out or does something that seems unique or weird or idiosyncratic either in their personal life or comes to represent that in some broader sense if it’s tied in with career matters or something like that.
RG: Well, let me add some little to the mix because Pluto has a very eccentric orbit in a different way. Pluto is inclined to the axial plane of the solar system 17 degrees. And it’s so eccentric in that way that it can actually cross over the orbit of Neptune. I take that as meaning that there is an extremism to Pluto that I think you see when it’s strongly indicated in someone’s chart, that it’s all or nothing. It’s a little bit similar to the Pluto or the Scorpio energy; it tends to be all-saint-all-sinners sort of thing. The other thing about Uranus, by the way as I recall, it’s got a reverse rotation as well, and so does Venus. In Venus, for instance, the days are longer than the years because of the fact that it’s rotating in a reverse direction for whatever reason. Which says there’s something peculiar about Venus in terms of what it symbolises as well as Uranus.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s see… Going back to one of the previous things, one of the arguments about astrology having to do with and being based on a mechanism more closely aligned with something like synchronicity or symbolism, were other things– you have several other arguments. One of them is how it can indicate events. Actually, this is from another but you point out symbolic techniques such as secondary progressions and how that’s clearly more based on symbolism rather than transits where somebody could almost argue that that has to do with some sort of immediate influence that the planet is having at specific points in the life, whereas secondary progressions is working from more of a symbolic standpoint.
RG: Yeah, it’s more mathematical and more symbolical and that’s one of the reasons again why anyone who is trying to explain astrology in strictly mechanistic terms, including quantum physics, I think is tilting at windmills. Because how do you explain those symbolic factors where you take, for instance, perfections? These are symbolic techniques that you really can’t quantify. And progressions are an example. A day for a year progressions, for instance, of someone’s born on a given day and you want to see what’s happening in their 30th year, you look 30 days after in the ephemeris? Again, how would you explain that to a scientist? How would you explain that to a materialist? There’s a lot of symbolic factors like that. Even, for example, the divisions of the Zodiac into 12, whether you’re a siderealist or a tropicalist. How do you explain 12? I’ve talked to scientists about this, I’ve heard what they say. They say it’s an arbitrary number, why not eight divisions of the zodiac? Why not just for big signs? Again, there are archetypal underpinnings here to astrology that go way beyond mechanistic physical sort of explanations in my opinion.
CB: Sure. Yeah. There are some astronomical things that are relevant in influencing life on Earth in different ways when it comes to the seasons of the Sun and different things like that. There’s this weird tension throughout the history of astrology between the– I don’t want to say scientific side, but the more mechanistic side versus the more symbolic or mystical side in some sense. That’s one of the weird things about astrology, it seems to cross that threshold or those boundaries and sort of straddle that line in a very unique or weird way.
RG: Right. And I’m not denying that there’s not a gravitational effect from the Moon. That’s pretty clear. But it’s not all about gravity. There is gravitational, there are solar flares that affect us and all this, but to limit astrology just to those physical properties, I think it’s a big mistake.
CB: Yeah, some other obviously symbolic areas of astrology, one of the ones that you listed is charts still working after person’s death?
RG: Yeah. Which is a fascinating thing and that’s been known about for a long time, the fact that you can look at Abraham Lincoln’s chart at the time someone robbed his tomb and you’ll see some aspects firing at that time. Or, for instance, Joseph Campbell. He died before his Uranus return. But on his Uranus return is when he became world famous through the interviews with Bill Moyers on PBS, the Power of Myth series. And there are countless examples like that of people. Especially, I like to look at it in terms of when movies or when film biographies are made of people after they’re dead. For example, the the movie about the life of Vincent van Gogh that came out a few years ago with Willem Dafoe playing Vincent van Gogh. That was under Van Gogh’s Neptune opposition as I recall, when Neptune reached the opposite point. Or it might be the Neptune return, I forget. And then the same thing when that James Brown biography came out on film a few years ago. And then again, you saw aspects in James Brown’s chart after he had died. How do you explain that scientifically? It’s a symbolic system. The chart lives on in a way that is not physical, it’s almost like the chart is an imprint in the big mind, in the cosmic mind.
CB: Yeah, something I tweeted recently thinking about some of the Platonic influence of astrology early on and the notion and Platonism and stoicism that the the cosmos is a living conscious entity is if that’s true, then to some extent the birth chart would represent what the cosmic animal or the cosmic mind was thinking at the moment that each person was born, or what the inner internal state of like reflection and contemplation was at that moment, which then could explain why each of us then manifests some of those energies in different ways in our lives.
RG: Yeah, and I would maybe take it a little bit further to say that in the same way that our– and this was the subject of my first book, The Waking Dream– in the same way that our dreams are symbolic, our waking lives are symbolic, and we’re living essentially inside of someone’s dream. Now whether you want to call that, like Plotinus did, The One or God or Big Mind, it doesn’t matter. The outer world has the properties of a symbolic dream just like our nightly dreams do but on a much grander scale. And our dreams are entwined in this larger dream. Wheels within wheels.
CB: Yeah. Going back, you mentioned Van Gogh and that’s one of my favorite examples of somebody whose chart really does continue to work astrologically in terms of techniques and live on even after his death, because he’s one of the most striking cases of somebody who didn’t achieve success during his lifetime and actually hardly sold any paintings during his lifetime even though that was something he really focused on and slaved away learning and teaching himself how to do and how to improve until his last days. But it wasn’t until after his death that his brother’s wife ended up promoting his work and eventually being successful in making him known worldwide. And he became a famous painter, basically, post mortem. And you can see in some of the career techniques that I use for determining eminence like Zodiac releasing with a lot of spirit, that he actually enters some of the eminent periods when his work did become known decades after his death. It’s like the chart really does represent something about that person and who they were and what their life represented and the influence it had in the world. But that chart does continue to stay operative after the person’s death, sort of almost forever in some sense. That each of our lives sort of echoes in eternity in some way.
RG: I’ll add a slightly different point to that, which is that you’ll have a planetary aspect like a stellium of planets coming together, or an outer planet aspect like Uranus conjunct Pluto. It’s like ringing a bell, when does a bell stop ringing? Or when you shout into the Grand Canyon and you hear an echo back, you know, what is the cutoff point for the influence of an aspect? And so Beethoven was born under this extraordinary grand Trine of the outer three planets like Napoleon was, a year apart as I recall. Yet every time you turn on the radio and you listen to Beethoven, that chart is alive. The moment that Beethoven was born is still resonating into the present through our actions, through our creations, through our positive or negative acts. We live on. The chart, the planets, the aspects live on long past their shelf life, so to speak.
CB: Yeah. Or it makes me think of light and how, you know, if light or a signal is sent out from Earth, that it can just travel across the galaxy or galaxies for a very long period of time. Another point, this is one in ancient– I found it in like, I think it was a third or fourth century text that was also arguing about astrology being symbolic. One of the points that it made was how the birth chart can indicate supposedly, or at least astrologers treat it as indicating sometimes events prior to birth. Like, for example, having to do with the parents or the parents’ situation or status or character or other things like that, which are things that are already, in some instances predefined before the person is even born. So it doesn’t make sense to think about the planets causing that to happen at the moment of birth, but instead, simply reflecting the situation in the natives life at that time.
RG: Yeah, that reminds me of a client I had once where the father had been subject– I won’t go into details– but had been subject to a huge disgraceful situation in the public eye. This client of mine had a– I don’t recall, this had been years ago– but had like Saturn in the 10th House which, you know, I think was something like a Saturn conjunct Neptune in the 10th House or something. But it was shown in the person’s chart in terms of some kind of problem with the father’s reputation. Again, it happened before the person was born. How do you explain that in regular mechanistic terms?
CB: Yeah. Go ahead.
RG: It raises an interesting question and I have a chapter on this in one of those books. It’s a very problematic question that astrology raises, which is, you’ll have someone come to you who’s had a very traumatic life, maybe a difficult family. And you see it in the chart, maybe you’ll see some Saturn conjunct Pluto in the Fourth house or whatever it might be. In Scorpio, for instance. So the person comes to you and they’ve had this difficult life. This happened to me where the person was complaining about what their mother and father had done to screw them up, and yet that pattern was there at the moment they were born in the horoscope. So you don’t want to blame the victim but by the same token, that was there. They came in with that pattern. So where does that really come from? In other words, the traumas and the difficulties that person has as they grow up. This is obviously a tricky area to talk about but again, you come in with certain patterns in your chart that manifest in your life and it’s up to you how you react to those.
CB: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. I mean, one of the differences I’ve always thought about is how you could have two people born at the hospital at the same time with the same difficult fourth house placements, but each of them go home with different parents and get locked into a different family unit, let’s say your living situation growing up, where each of those parents has a different birth chart that’s going to interact either more or less favorably or let’s say, in a way that’s more either supportive or more unsupportive in certain ways of some of the basic placements in a person’s birth chart. And I think that’s one of the reasons why people can manifest some of the same placements so wildly differently because it has to do with that nature versus nurture situation of some of our best qualities can either be you know, encouraged in our early living situation or in other instances, maybe some of our worst qualities could be encouraged and exacerbated rather than sort of tamed and worked with in a more constructive fashion.
RG: It also connects to the culture you’re born into. I did an interview for Mountain Astrologer many years ago with Noel Tyl and we were talking about how you have to take into account the cultural background of the person. For instance, a person who’s got a Jupiter conjunct Sun and Leo born in Japan is going to manifest that energy very differently than a person with Sun conjunct in Jupiter in America for instance. That can modify the way the energy manifests in a person’s life as well.
CB: Right. One other area where you pointed out that astrology is obviously working on symbolism, and this is critical to understanding some of the basic techniques is in retrogradation, for example, as being an observational phenomenon that’s entirely relevant to the observer. Which is interesting because some sceptics and scientists will point to that as just like, this is not even a real phenomenon because it’s just a visually apparent, accidental phenomenon rather than some sort of specific, more concrete thing that actually points to one of the basic principles of astrology and being tied in with symbolism and omenology and things like that.
RG: Yeah, there’s a phenomenological aspect to it that is heavily geocentric in the sense of someone tries to convince you that there is a force coming from the planets that is causing astrology to happen, just ask him about Mercury retrograde. I think most astrologers agree that we might disagree on how strong it is, but I don’t think many astrologers would disagree that it has an impact. Well, how can that be a force related sort of thing if indeed it’s purely an illusion based on the Earth’s perspective? Because Mercury isn’t actually going backwards, it’s strictly something that’s from our standpoint here on the Earth. There’s nothing there that you can relate to a force emanating from the planet.
CB: Right. And it’s not just that it’s geocentric per se, but it actually goes back to a more basic principle that’s fundamental to all forms of divination, which is that everything is relative to the perspective and the location of the observer, and how things appear relative to the perspective of the observer or the one experiencing the omen at that specific moment in time from their specific vantage point. That is what matters, and we’re not necessarily looking at things from a universal standpoint, but instead, the subjective is what’s most important.
RG: Yeah. For instance, the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans believed in looking at the flight of augers. And the word inauguration, by the way, goes all the way back to augury and all in a logical interpretation. There are a lot of these vestiges that come down to us in our language like ‘dus aster’ and augury in inauguration. But the ancient Greeks and Romans would look at the direction a bird is flying by as symbolic, but a person standing on the other side of that bird is going to see it going from right to left whereas I’m going to see it going from left to right. That makes a fundamental difference in the meaning of that symbol. As you said, it’s the perspective of the individual that determines what the meaning of that thing is for that person.
CB: Yeah. So this is really crucial when it comes to another subtopic we’re going to touch on at some point, which is exoplanet astrology or the question that comes up frequently that I get all the time, which is what happens when astrologers go outside of Earth and either start, for example, colonising other planets such as Mars, or let’s say, at some point and up in a completely different solar system that has a different planetary setup or a different planetary order what have you. The way it’s usually phrased as a question is, does astrology still work? Or are our signs, these other 12 signs the same? But part of the answer is no, you’d have to construct an entirely new system of astrology relative to that planet and relative to that vantage point, but knowing that from the start that the entire basis of it is that everything is relative to the observer and their location, seems like one of the fundamental starting points.
RG: Yeah. Let’s say you go to a planet that doesn’t have a tilt on the axis like the Earth does, you suddenly don’t have a tropical zodiac. Because the tropical Zodiac is based on the seasons of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. So you’re left with a sidereal Zodiac on let’s say, another planet. But let’s say you’re in a different solar system that might be an entirely different set of constellations than what we have here. Do you divide those up into 12? Or if there are no Moons like Venus and Mercury, there’s no Moons, whereas there are two Moons on Mars. And the question that comes up for me is, if you find a different solar system in a different part of the galaxy, would you have a Saturn-like planet in that solar system and a Jupiter-like planet in that solar system? And Mercury, would they be comparable in their meanings? Would each solar system have certain archetypal principles? Because we want to think that our planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, Jupiter, etc, have an archetypal basis. If that’s really true, then would that not suggest that those planets in another solar system would have some kind of meaning comparable to ours and the Sun? What would be the meaning of a Sun in a different solar system? We look at fixed stars- What’s that?
CB: What it makes me think of is the way that I was watching the Changing of the Gods series, the documentary that’s coming out in January. I think you watched it recently, too. But one of the things they did that was interesting really early in the first episode was they were talking a little bit about the Greek and Roman mythology which the planets are named after. But then they also immediately started talking about other mythologies and other cultures where they have similar archetypes but sometimes different stories, or where you can see similarities in how certain gods and goddesses are treated and other traditions. But there’s also sometimes major differences and it makes me think that that’s how it might be in another solar system where you might find resonances with certain planets and certain archetypes, but there would also be some major differences.
RG: Yeah, I agree. Or you even take the Sun and the Moon, and this is often brought up about, most occultists would see that Moon is feminine and the Sun as masculine. And yet in German, the D and dare, you know, that’s the Moon is considered in the language system in German is masculine and the Sun as feminine. How much do you take those into account? For me, that’s not a big issue because both luminaries have qualities of the opposite luminary so I don’t see it as a cut and dry thing. By the way, I want to add one other point to the Sun-Moon that I wanted to add before I forgot it, which is that this is, to my understanding, the only point in the solar system where the Sun and the Moon are the same size. Which makes eclipses like we had earlier this morning possible.
CB: Yeah, I stayed up really late last night. I’m pretty out of it today after watching that lunar eclipse last night in Taurus and something I was really thinking about was just from our vantage point on Earth, the Moon is the exact same size as the Sun in the sky and that’s actually really important relative to our perspective.
RG: Yeah, the Sun is 400 times farther away. I think it’s some equation like this and the moon is 400, whatever that is. The point is that it’s such a close harmony but it’s not going to be that way forever. Eventually, the moon is moving further and further back, you know, millennia by millennia. And at some point, the Moon is going to be much further back. So we’re at a point in history, I don’t know how many thousand years on either side when they are in a balance with each other. And there’s tremendous importance in the occult traditions placed on something called the marriage of the Sun and the Moon, the balancing of the polarities. So we may be at a point in history now that’s very precious in terms of there may be a possibility of some kind of awakening that’s taking place at this stage in humanity’s history that may not be possible 20,000 years from now in the same exact way anyway. I got off track there a little bit, you were talking about something else and I took a detour there.
CB: Yeah, that’s all right. That’s another really good striking one where again, it just further drives home that point that the perspective of the observer is what’s important. And from our vantage point, the equality of the Sun and Moon in size from our vantage point, gives them a sort of parody and equality in the astrological system as being sort of two sides of the same coin in some sense.
RG: Yeah. And about the qualities talking about the phenomenology of the Sun and the Moon, the Moon is a local body. The Sun is is a more objective body. What I mean by that is one of the first things I learned when I was studying astrology was that the Moon is a subjective amplifier, the Sun is an objective amplifier. Whatever the Moon touches in the horoscope is going to tend to be something that the person experiences themselves more so that isn’t as visible to the outer world. Things that aspect of your son in the birth chart tend to be things that are visible to the world, they’re more objective. And that’s reflected in the fact that the Moon is a local body, and the Sun is way out there. Everybody sees the Sun but not someone on the planet Saturn, if someone could live on Saturn, would not be affected or would not see the Moon of the Earth in the same way we do. So again, there’s that phenomenology that I think gives us clues.
CB: Yeah, or even just for other very literal manifestations of the Moon. The Moon representing your home and your living situation and the moon literally being the closest celestial body to us right next to Earth, and that symbolically representing our sort of home and living situation.
RG: Yeah. Yeah, right.
CB: All right. I wanted to move on to some other topics. One, it’s kind of tied in with this one that we just mentioned, which is the stations, the Mercury Retrograde stations and other planetary stations and just the power of stationary points both personal and in mundane astrology. And I know this is something that you’ve written about and like to emphasize.
CB: One of my teachers, a Chicago born Yogi named Goswami Kriyananda, referred to stations as having a branding iron effect. And I thought that was a really good way to put it because it impresses itself that much more by standing still so long. So when you see a Pluto or Neptune or any station point, you tend to see that energy amplified in the collective or in the person’s charts. You look at someone’s individual chart and you see, like Neil Armstrong born on a Uranus station point, the Dalai Lama on a Jupiter station point, etc. And in terms of cultural events, it’s uncanny how many times you see these things manifest. Like when John F. Kennedy Sr back in ’61, he gave that famous speech talking about going to the Moon. And that was on the day, I think, that Jupiter turned direct in Aquarius, which is very futuristic, that expansive vision sort of thing. Or I’m old enough to remember the Watergate scandal under the Nixon administration. That really began when the group of– they were called The Plumbers, curiously enough– were caught at the Watergate Hotel and that was under a Pluto station point which seems to be very fitting. Or like when it was a few years ago that these 12 kids got stuck in a cave in Thailand with their football coach. And the day they got rescued was the day that Jupiter went I think it was direct in Scorpio. The symbolism fits beautifully. And you see this time and again with cultural events, or like I believe that the Pentagon Papers was under a Pluto and Uranus station point. And Wounded Knee, the massacre in 1890, was under a Saturn station point. Interestingly, Woodstock was under a Saturn station point in Taurus, which is funny because the images I have of Woodstock was people rolling in mud and there were all these problems trying to get it off the ground. In fact, the people broke down the fences and it just became a total washout, except culturally, became a very powerful meme in the culture, you might say.
CB: Yeah, and I think one of the points you made that I thought was really good is that sometimes there’ll be certain planets in a person’s chart where they’ll just stand out and they’ll sort of be way louder than they should or almost have an exclamation mark next to them. And people won’t really be clear why because it’s not like an angular planet or it’s not heavily aspected or something like that. But if it is stationary, if it’s pretty close to stationing retrograde or direct that itself can be the reason why. I thought that was a really poignant and fascinating and true observation that I found as well and that goes back to a rule. I know one of the things you pointed out in your article is that sometimes the issue with people overlooking stationary points is they don’t realize if they’re just looking at a computer screen that the planet’s really close to stationing. But if you look at an Ephemeris, the ancient range, they would say if a person was born within seven days of a planet stationing retrograde or direct, that was the range more or less to pay attention to or watch out for. And if you look at an Ephemeris for the month that you were born, you can see pretty clearly if the planet stationed retrograde or direct within seven days of your birth.
RG: It’s one of the problems of computer readouts, you don’t necessarily have that sense of the station. Pluto can be in the same degree for almost two months if not more than two months, and so it’s branded into that degree you might say. A good example of what you just brought up was the teacher I study with in Florida, Shelly Trimmer was an extremely independent futuristic scientific sort of fellow in addition to his occult studies. And I could not figure out, his Uranus was not that powerful in the natal chart and one day I decided to look up. He was born in 1917, a Scorpio in 1917. And the day that he was born was right on a Uranus station a few days apart from Dizzy Gillespie, by the way, which is interesting because Dizzy Gillespie with this avant-garde jazz trumpeter that was into quantum physics and all this sort of thing. Or you take, what accounts for Tom Cruise’s extraordinary look, for instance? I remember even back in the 80s, I remember talking to someone and they were saying it’s unbelievable how this guy gets all the roles and how he has doors open. Yeah, he’s ambitious, but he’s not the greatest actor. Yet somehow, he’s extraordinarily lucky. And if you look at his chart, he’s got a grand Trine, but there’s a Jupiter station. And one of the points I’m making in my essay on the stations is that whatever aspects are being made by a station in planet become amplified that much more so as well. So you have this grand Trine that is in Tom Cruise’s chart that is that much stronger because of the Jupiter station, in my opinion.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really great point. Let me bring up his chart really quickly to show that. I don’t remember if this is a- I didn’t look at my data how a birth time is for this, but I guess it’s not fully relevant for just looking at the planet and if it’s close to stationing. So here’s Tom Cruise’s chart, July 3 1962. Using a not sure time of 9:32pm in Syracuse, New York, we see Jupiter at 12 degrees of Pisces, and it says that it’s retrograde here in Solar Fire. But I have this little table, and this is why I use this layout that I designed for Solar Fire and all, I have links to it that people can download from my YouTube channel. But in the bottom right corner, I have a table that says if a planet is retrograde or direct– so we’ll look at Jupiter in the bottom right table– it says what its last stationary sign was and how recently it’s last station was. And it said that Jupiter stationed 1.7 days ago in the sign of Pisces. So he was born literally just 1.7 days after Jupiter stationing retrograde. Another way that you can see this is just animating the chart in a programme like Solar Fire or Astro Gold and moving it backwards, let’s say one day, and it switches to an S next to Jupiter which is stationary, or another day back and it’s stationary or two days back. And you can see that it will still direct technically, just two days before he was born. That’s another way that you can identify stationary planets even just using a programme, is by animating them.
RG: That’s good, I didn’t know about that.
CB: Yeah, it’s not helpful but stations are super important. You mentioned the forward thinking Jupiter station and Aquarius. What was that for again? Because that brings up something.
RG: That was for John F. Kennedy. It was an iconic moment in the ’60s when John F Kennedy gave a talk saying that we’re going to land on the Moon, we’re going to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. Which was considered outrageous by some people to think that in eight years, actually I think it was seven, they were going to get this all together. And Jupiter, I think, was stationing in Aquarius. I forget the date but it was in 1961.
CB: Okay. I like that because I just noticed one or two of those last month in October when Jupiter made its final direct station, both Jupiter and Saturn stationed direct in Aquarius in October of 2021 here and one of the announcements not long after that time, I think within a week or so or about a week later, was the announcement by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about changing the name of the company to Meta because they were gearing it up for this thing that they’re anticipating which is the the “Metaverse” and all the different things connected with virtual reality and other things like that being the next wave of the future in terms of not just social networking, but commerce and technology and money like Bitcoin and images like NFTs and all the different things tied in with that. What’s funny about you mentioning the moonshot thing and Kennedy announcing that is that it must have sounded pretty farcical that by the end of the decade a person would be walking on the Moon, I’m guessing at that stage in the early 1960s. But then lo and behold, less than a decade later, they had actually pulled it off in what? Like ’68 or ’69?
RG: ’69, yeah. July of ’69.
RG: That’s a great catch about the metaverse. I missed that somehow.
CB: Yeah. Well, it’s like I caught that because also we picked that date range for some of our best electional charts of the month, specifically for Aquarius rising charts with Jupiter inside of its stationing and Aquarius. I thought it was weird because within 24 hours of that, there was also an announcement in the news that Obama had broken ground on his presidential library in Chicago which they had been planning for many years. And of course Obama famously has Aquarius rising and Jupiter in Aquarius, so it’s curious and interesting that in his transiting chart, what happened was transiting Jupiter, he was having a Jupiter return and Jupiter stationed direct in Aquarius in his first House when that presidential library was essentially founded.
RG: You know, the whole thing with Jupiter, it’s very tricky in terms of– you can’t place value or judgments on these in terms of good or bad because you had the Dalai Lama, Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler were all born under Jupiter stations.
CB: And like you take Hitler, for instance, and I think it was Jupiter conjunct in Moon, his Moon in tropical Capricorn. He had this expansive vision, you know, a thousand years of the Reich and all this sort of thing. It was expansive in a governmental way but it wasn’t exactly a benefic sort of thing. Whereas in the case of the Dalai Lama, I’m not going to get into politics here with Trump but again, there is an expansive vision there. Whether you see it as a good expansive or a bad expansive that’s up to you but I wanted to throw that into the mix too.
CB: Yeah, I know. Trump is actually one of the most compelling contemporary examples of station because Jupiter was stationing the day he was born, and I’ve always treated that or thought of that is one of his hidden, greatest… that’s one of the most positive sort of subtle and easy to overlook things about his chart, but it’s one of the most positive things in his chart. It’s that Jupiter stationed on the day he was born. The other one that people actually often overlook is it wasn’t just Jupiter that was stationing-
CB: Neptune. Neptune was in 2.7. If you look at the table on the bottom right, Neptune was just 2.7 days away from stationing. So he was having a Jupiter station and a Neptune station in his third house of communication when he was born. And that, of course, ends up being part of his sort of secret superpower in some ways.
RG: Well, that also ties into exaggeration. I don’t want to say lies or whatever but certainly, there’s been around him at the very least issues of honesty and trust and all this sort of thing, and exaggeration. So…
CB: Yeah, and his different attempts to do things with that. We don’t have to get into that but that’s the whole thing. So, good contemporary examples. I think that makes the point pretty well that stations are important as sometimes secret, I would say puts like an exclamation mark next to the planet in the chart, and it’s something that you should pay attention to as being much more prominent than the planet might look otherwise according to other factors if a planet is within seven days, especially if stationing. So that’s true in Natal charts. It’s also something to pay attention to in transits, when a planet stations especially if it’s stationing close to a natal planet through let’s say, like a major aspect. And then also finally, as you’ve mentioned, in mundane astrology stations can be important as well.
RG: Well, let me add one other point and that is, like we talked about with Trump double stations or even triple. Like Bernie Sanders was born under a triple station, which was Mars, Uranus, and Saturn, which is the same date curiously enough as the Siege of Leningrad starting in Russia. But there’s a blending and I regard double or triple station points as having a quality of like a conjunction. So you take Amy Winehouse, for example, had Venus station and Neptune station. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin had Mars and Neptune station. Look at the difference there in terms of what Amy Winehouse had. It was more of a Venus-Neptune energy, that bluesy sort of jazzy singing style, whereas you have Jimmy Page who was more of a hard driving Martian sort of element there. So I think you can look at those double or triple stations as blending their influences.
CB: Yeah, here’s Amy Winehouse’s chart. She has Gemini rising and she has Venus at 23 Leo and it’s stationing direct at 23 Leo in her chart. What was the other planet? Neptune?
CB: Neptune’s at 26 Sag and it’s just six days from stationing there. So Venus is actually within three degrees of a Trine with Neptune.
RG: Right. Yeah, that’s a really strong Neptune-Venus energy no matter how you slice it.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s interesting. Okay, that’s pretty good. That actually might bring us to another topic I wanted to touch on that you mentioned in an article of yours that I was reading last night, which is one of the things that you think is important and you found to be important in chart interpretation very early in your studies was looking at the most elevated planet in a chart, right? RG: RG: Yeah.
CB: And I think this is in an essay in StarGates?
RG: Yeah. Again, there’s no one thing that defines a whole chart, but it is uncanny how often you will see a person defined to a certain extent by the planet that’s highest in their chart.
CB: Yeah, and you are the funny rectification story. Because actually in your books, which I really enjoy, and your essays have a lot of funny anecdotes about trying to get birth times from different celebrities over the years, which I thought was really funny and relatable hearing some of the people you either successfully or unsuccessfully asked for the birth times.
RG: Yes. Like I called up Isaac Asimov when his name was still in the Manhattan directory, because I wanted to know his birth time. And he picked up the phone and this is in the 70s. By the way, it wasn’t long after that that he took his name out of the public directory.
CB: Yeah. He didn’t sound super interested in the topic from what you were in?
CB: No. I tried to engaging him in a talk about it, which was a mistake, but he was very nice considering that I was interrupting him from writing a millionth book.
RG: There was another science fiction writer that was actually more favourable too, it is actually-
RG: Yeah, Frank Herbert. Frank Herbert. Yeah.
CB: Author of the Dune series?
RG: Right. And I went to a book signing downtown in Chicago and spoke to him for quite some time, and he said his wife was an avid astrologer and did his chart and all this and he gave me his birth time. One other point though about Asimov which is interesting, he didn’t know the day he was born, let alone the time he was born. Because he said, “I was raised in Russia and we didn’t keep good records back then.” So when you’re dealing with charts of people from some countries at certain times in history, it’s very hard sometimes to get even the date of birth, let alone the time.
CB: Which is really frustrating. But Frank Herbert Walker, the time you got, is that the same that’s on astro.com now, which is like 7:30 a.m.?
RG: No, it’s off. I think 7:18 is what he gave me.
CB: Oh, interesting.
RG: The time is off a little bit on the astro.com time. Make of that what you will. There was a time that I asked, and I still don’t know what to make of this, but I once asked Buckminster Fuller for his birth time and he had a very interesting response. He paused a long time and he said, “You know, I always regretted never asking my mother that.” Then someone pointed out to me on Facebook how if you go to astro.com, they have his birth time. And I think it’s an A category accuracy on the lowest Rodden Rating. So I don’t know what happened. Maybe someone found it after he died, or maybe after I asked him he tracked it down. I don’t know what happened there.
CB: Yeah, I’ll have to look at the source notes. I mean, there’s some problems right now with Astrodatabank and certain things. There’s some websites that are putting out fake times that they’re citing books and magazines and articles and saying they got an exact time from this article but then when data researchers look up those books, they’re not finding any times there. I’ve found this a few times, and some of those times are finding their way into Astrodatabank. It’s kind of an issue that I’m trying to figure out how to deal with, and I’m hoping that community can deal with in the not-too-distant future. But I’ll have to look at that one and see what the source notes say.
RG: Didn’t you write an article once that featured an episode on astrotheme.com and how the problems with Astrotheme? Because a lot of people go to that.
CB: Yeah, that’s the one that I found that seemed to be inventing birth times and I don’t think anybody should take any times from Astro theme seriously, because they’ve been caught fabricating birth times multiple times at this point. But what’s sad is I don’t think Astrodatabank is taking this seriously because they’re still accepting birth times from Astrotheme, which unfortunately, I’m worried is going to lead to some false times being perpetuated for generations or for centuries.
RG: Yeah, yeah.
CB: Yeah. That’s a whole separate side topic. Are there any other famous people that you successfully got birth times from or that you asked for their birth time?
RG: Yeah. Patti Smith, but that I discovered that she was already. It was December 31, I think, and I forget the time, but she was very nice about it. And Callie, I called her. I couldn’t get Bob Dylan so I called Bob Dylan’s mother in Minnesota and she didn’t remember the exact time but there was– I won’t say the name of the astrologer– but there was a well known astrologer who wrote a book in the ’70s. He had rectified Dylan’s chart and had him as being born a little after dawn and that didn’t feel right to me. All this gets back to the most elevated-
CB: That was actually the starting point for the elevated planet. The setup for that was in the ’60s, Dylan was huge. He was a huge musician and everybody wanted to know his birth time, but there was no birth time and there was actually a debate about it. Some people were saying that he was born just after sunrise based on rectification, but that didn’t sit right with you?
RG: I had a feeling, it was an intuitive hunch and sometimes you do have these intuitive hits on something, I felt like he had Neptune as the highest planet in his chart. And lo and behold, you know, I called up his mother. It took me a month to track her down by calling all the Zimmerman’s in Minnesota that I could find around Hibbing and spoke to her for about 20 minutes. She was very nice, and she said, “I don’t remember the exact time but it was sometime in the evening,” which helped because I knew at least it wasn’t morning or afternoon. And then [unintelligible 01:10:44], I guess knew Dylan’s ex wife, Sara, and he came up with the exact time off of a birth certificate, and it did have Neptune as the highest planet. And you see Neptune high on the charts of a lot of people that are musicians. I think Jimi Hendrix had Neptune high. Like I said, Neptune you often see in the charts of preachers or religious figures or mystics, musicians, artists, etc. So yeah.
CB: Here’s Bob Dylan’s chart based on that birth certificate time, and it gives him 20 degrees of Sagittarius rising and Neptune at 24 degrees of Virgo in the ninth quadrant house. So the 10th hole sign in the house conjunct the north node at 29 Virgo, and that is the closest planet to the degree of the Midheaven, which is at 17 degrees of Libra. And so for you actually, when I was reading your article and thinking about this, it brought up an interesting question for me. Actually, one of the things it brought up for me is I was reading through and I was eating a snack and then suddenly you used my name as an example. [Ray laughs] I literally almost choked on what I was eating at that time because you were like, “-and famous astrologers, Rob Hand and Chris Brennan have Uranus as their most elevated planet conjunct the Midheaven.” That was one of the first times I think I’ve read my name accidentally in print and was surprised, so thanks for that experience.
CB: For you the way that you define that though, the most elevated planet, is you say it’s the planet that is the closest to a conjunction with the Midheaven in the chart basically, right?
RG: Yeah. Although I think it exerts an influence, even if it isn’t the highest planet. For example, I have Uranus in the 10th House. It’s not the highest planet in the chart.
CB: Just for the record, because I know that I show your chart here but you prefer not to show it, right?
RG: Yes. We won’t go into that.
CB: Okay. I just wanted to say for the record that I’m not forgetting to show the chart at this point.
RG: I have Uranus high. Clearly I’m an astrologer, and I’ve always leaned towards more independent professions and that sort of thing. So yeah, the highest planet in the chart is really important, and especially if it is- Well, like you take for example some of the people that have Uranus high is Lady Gaga, Elvis Presley, Dick Cheney, curiously enough, who was not liberal but he was a lone wolf in terms of his own party, and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and so on and so forth. It’s really curious what you find out when you start looking at those elevated planets.
CB: Yeah, I’m just pulling up some of the different ones that you’re mentioning right now. I guess one of the points that you’re making with Dylan though, is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the Midheaven, it just has to be the planet that is essentially closest to the top of the chart or closest to the degree of the Midheaven
RG: Mick Jagger has his Mars. It isn’t that high but it is the highest planet in the chart, I think it’s in the 12th or something. And so his emphasis, there’s a Martian quality to his public persona you might say. That hard driving. He’s not a singer of ballads, even though he’s written a few. Another one, Iggy Pop has Mars as the highest planet, I believe. What are we looking at here?
CB: Here’s Mick Jagger’s.
RB: Oh, it is higher than I thought. I had a different birth time. Okay.
CB: Yeah, and I’m actually not. So this is 6:30am and I didn’t look at the source, so the Ascendant for the audio listeners is at four degrees of Leo and his Midheaven is at 11 Aries, and his Mars is the closest planet to that Midheaven and it’s over at 12 degrees of Taurus?
RG: Yeah. And it’s curious too, because he was going for a degree in economics in school before he became a wild rockstar.
CB: Okay. I mean, it raised an issue for me because even though I do pay attention to the degree of the Midheaven, I’m otherwise placing that in a whole sign house framework. And it’s hard for me to sort through what the most elevated planet is because all my planets are in the top half of the chart and so you have a number of different contenders, but Uranus is definitely the closest planet because my rising degree is 17 Aquarius, my Midheaven degree is 5 Sagittarius, and Uranus is that 11 Sagittarius. So if you’re defining that based on the degree of the quadrant Midheaven, then Uranus is the most angular or highest planet in elevation. And in defensive if one was going to argue that direction as being The one, it was when Uranus passed over the degree of my Ascendant and 17 Aquarius that I actually discovered astrology and became an astrologer. But then also if you’re talking about for example, let’s say the equal house Midheaven, which is always 90 degrees from the degree of the Ascendant, that would be 17 Aquarius to 17 Scorpio which would make Saturn the most elevated planet. And I think some people that listen to the podcast might argue that I’m more of a Saturnian type figure publicly rather than a Uranian one, although I don’t know. I guess it depends.
RG: I’m not dogmatic about things like how systems or sidereal versus tropical, I tend to live and let live attitude. I think that different systems can have validity in their own frame of reference, just like Euclidean geometry doesn’t negate Riemannian geometry and so on. There are ways in which for example, you’ve had a very independent career and a technologically oriented one with Uranus there. I don’t in any way dismiss the whole sign or equal house emphasis on it, I think that it’s possible for them to coexist. That’s just my personal opinion.
CB: Yeah, I agree. I was just working it through my head because I hadn’t thought about the most elevated planet very much as a technique in a while and I was seeing both sides of that and trying to come to some understanding through my own chart, which I could then universalize and others while seeing both sides. I think that might be an interesting thing for people to play with and work out in terms of the difference between the quadrant Midheaven and the equal house Midheaven as part of the continuing dialogue also over house systems. And that could be an access point for people trying to figure out how to reconcile like, the whole sign and equal and quadrant house frameworks, for example.
RG: I’d be very curious to know if people decide to kind of experiment with this on their own, what they find in terms of if it’s really clear cut the difference between, let’s say, whole sign house system versus placidus, for instance. You know, where the one doesn’t seem to fit at all and the other does. That’d be curious to get feedback on in terms of what people find.
CB: Yeah, I see overlapping ways in which both work. It would just be nice to, especially if you could come up with, is there a context in which each works where you could at least contextualize what the whole sign placement is telling you versus what a quadrant house placement or are they just the same? Like one of the ones that was really curious when I did the Noel Tyl episode last year that I thought was really interesting and compelling was, I was reading an interview with him and he told a story about how when he first discovered astrology, he was watching in the 70s an interview show. It was like a Tonight Show or something like that and an astrologer came on and did an interview. He said the astrologer didn’t do a very good job but he could see that there was something there to astrology. And he turned to his wife and he said, “I’m gonna write a bunch of books about astrology and I’m going to make a million dollars.” And what’s really interesting about his birth chart is he has Cancer rising and the ruler of his Ascendant is the Moon. And it’s placed in the second sign house of finances and money, but it’s in the third house in quadrant houses. And Noel Tyl, of course, did become one of the most prolific authors of the late 20th century and early 21st century and, you know, was successful financially just from that.
RG: That’s a good point. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. Anyway, I was just saying that maybe this elevated planet technique that you’re talking about here could be another access point for trying to understand what the different systems are doing?
RG: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great point. I think, too, the elevated planet to some extent, represents an energy you aspire towards. So a person of let’s say, has Mercury as the highest planet like the one example I used in the book; a young person that had Mercury and Aquarius has the highest planet in the chart, and instead of having a Playboy bunny picture or poster on their bedroom wall, they had Carl Sagan. You know, that scientific, futuristic quality. This person was aspiring to be a scientist or be a kind of an innovator of scientific ideas or technologies. So again, there’s many ways to interpret that. And it’s often the part of you that is most visible to the public. I had this one client in Tucson who had Saturn in Scorpio in the first house. Scorpio rising and Jupiter in Leo on the top of the chart, the highest planet. And so the image that this client represented to the world was this flamboyant- He had a Salvador Dali mustache, he was very flamboyant and very outgoing, but privately there was this deep sort of Saturn Scorpio intensity. I don’t want to say much more than that. But the public image, and I believe they were square because it was Leo to Scorpio, it was actually kind of a conflict between the two; between that exuberant, happy go-lucky public image and that Saturn Scorpio somewhat traumatized first house energy. So again, you know, the first house versus the 10th. There’s different ways to interpret this 10th House thing that we’re talking about.
CB: Right. Yeah. One of the questions, I was just looking at my notes, that I meant to mention in the earlier segment about new planets is one of the questions that sometimes comes up that’s debated in the astrological community that people can take extreme positions on is; do planets exert an astrological “influence” even before they’re discovered? Because one of the things we of course started talking about very early on is how I think all astrologers agree that when a planet is discovered, there are some things that happen in mundane astrology in the world at that time that reflect the nature of that planet. But then there’s sometimes a question then of does it only start then, or is it already operating prior to that time in some ways?
RG: Well, this is where I had a bit of a disagreement in writing. I’ve never talked to him, but with Jeffery Cornelius who made the comment that there is no astrology without astrologers, and he likens astrology to a divinatory sort of process whereby you intuitively pick up on things almost like crystal ball reading or tea leaf reading, it’s more of a Rorschach he seems to be implied. The reason why I don’t buy that, one of several reasons but the most dramatic one is that long before astrologers knew about Uranus, Neptune or Pluto, you see their influence in world affairs. To me, my favorite chapter in Richard Tarnas’s book, Cosmos and Psyche is the one where he talks about the triple conjunction of the outer three planets in the sixth century BC when there was all this major change in the world, the start of the axial religions and that sort of thing. And yet none of those three planets were discovered yet. Or you take, for example, the French Revolution in the 1790s which most astrologers chalk up to this Uranus oppose Pluto. Now, Uranus was discovered in the previous decade, but Pluto wasn’t discovered till 1930. So if indeed Pluto didn’t exert an influence till it was formally discovered, then how do you explain the influence of the outer planets through history, which is demonstrable? And I do think it becomes more palpable. I do think that when those planets are discovered, they take on more of an immediate sort of impact, but they’re still there in the background even long before they’re discovered in my opinion.
CB: Yeah, I agree. That’s one of the areas where I think I always recommend Cornelius’s book and it’s one of my favorite my favorite books on astrology, especially the philosophy of astrology because I think he really does a good job of arguing that astrology does work through symbolism and that there is something to his argument about astrology as divination. But I sometimes feel like he takes it too far than in arguing that there is no objective astrology that’s actually occurring out there when I think when you study historical astrology and mundane astrology, you can see that that’s kind of objectively false just because there are astrological cycles that do operate in concert with human events and world history. One of my favorite ones is the Uranus Neptune cycle which I noticed for some reason coincide with major revivals and translation projects down through history. About every 170 years, astrologers get really excited about reviving old forms of astrology and they start translating texts. And then whatever that old form of astrology is that they recover gets merged with whatever the contemporary form of astrology is, and creates a new synthesis that lasts for a couple of centuries until the next conjunction. This happened in 1992 and 1993 into the last conjunction, and that’s when Project Hindsight was formed. But that cycle goes back for 2000 or 3000 years from what I’ve seen.
RG: Right. And it’s not that there isn’t a divinatory intuitive aspect to astrology, because most astrologers have had the experience that Cornelius writes about. You have a chart done for the wrong birth time or even the wrong year, you might write it in wrong and yet it still comes out right because you’re tapping into something. But there are times when that doesn’t work, like when the sceptics challenged Jeffrey Armstrong to– it’s on YouTube– where they gave the wrong charts that he had calculated for two different subjects and they didn’t fit. The people said these don’t fit and then they switched the charts and they said, “Oh, that one fits.” They were trying to pull a fast one on Jeffrey. And it turned out that they weren’t the right charts until they were the right charts, the intuitive aspect didn’t factor in. There are intuitive aspects to it, we’ve all had those experiences. But that doesn’t explain all of it.
CB: Yeah, one of the things I remember Rob Hand saying about that in response to Cornelius’s argument is that he’s never had an instance where the right chart didn’t work better than the wrong chart. The right chart always ends up being more compelling and that’s one of the reasons why rectification for example, can even be attempted or done in some instances because there is actually a birth chart that existed out there that matches the exact moment of the person’s birth and that does actually reflect significant events in their life and the nature of their life so that you can reverse engineer it sometimes, even if it’s incredibly difficult and tricky.
RG: Yeah, that’s a great point.
CB: Yeah. One last thing that I want to mention is you have an article about looking at past transits to anticipate the future. That’s a really major but sometimes overlooked, or at least not well articulated technique in the astrological tradition. What is the basis of that or what would you say to somebody that was a new student about how that works and how they should use that as a feature of astrology?
RG: Yeah, that’s really important because like just the other day, I had a reading with the client where I saw that Saturn was about to cross his– he natally had a Mars square Uranus. And Saturn was coming along to conjunct Mars in Aquarius. So I looked up the last time that aspect had fired and I said, “What happened for you in 1992?” And he said that he had a bad car accident, but he walked away unscathed. It was bad but not so bad. Somehow he had a lucky thing in his chart, a strong Jupiter, so it didn’t hurt him. He didn’t have any injuries. It gave me a sense of what to talk about with this upcoming conjunction because it hadn’t happened yet. So when you look back to things when they’ve happened before, whether it’s a Jupiter return or whether it’s a Saturn crossing the Sun or a Mars return, you get a real sense of how that energy is manifesting for someone by looking at the past manifestations that happened for that person. It’s been an invaluable tool for me. It’s actually made a huge difference in terms of whether I’ve been totally right or totally wrong with someone. For example, Saturn Venus is a good example of that. Saturn crossing someone’s Venus, now that can be make or break. That can be the dissolution of an existing relationship or that can be the solidifying, like getting married. So you ask the person what happened the last time Saturn crossed the Venus if they’re old enough to have experienced that, and you find out well, “I got married then.” And you ask him, “Are you married now?” And they say, “No, but I’m thinking of it.” Then you have a pretty good idea that they’re probably going to, you know, solidify the commitment in some fashion even if it isn’t literal marriage.
CB: Yeah, that’s really crucial for most techniques, because there’s many techniques to do work cyclically, where you’ll have repetitions of the same or similar placements getting activated. And the chart itself, it’s kind of like the chart itself is like a round wheel and each of the planets is like a wind chime, and the transits go around sometimes and then strike the same placement and make a similar sound or make the same sound in different increments. Whether it’s a 12-year increment of Jupiter or 30-year increment of Saturn or what have you. But then one of the most important keys to prediction is that if you want to predict the future, then you need to study the past.
RG: Yeah. For example, I had a client a week or two ago that had Uranus was conjunct in some planet in their chart and they were old enough that they had experienced the square and the opposition. You’ll see this commonality of connecting thread when you have an outer planet whether it’s Saturn or Uranus, or even Neptune, where if you look to see the previous major hits of that planet earlier in the person’s life, you’ll often see a continuity. So for instance, a person has their first Saturn return when they are in their late 20s and then under their second Saturn return, there’s going to be something connected. It might be that they’re retiring after the job they started when they were 29 or it can be a new relationship. They got divorced from someone that they got married to under the first Saturn return. There’s really interesting patterns like that. In fact, that touches on something that you and I were starting to get into previously, which is, when a client comes to you– this is important for me anyway– where you want to know what they came to you for.
CB: Right. You mentioned this as one of the seven most common mistakes that astrologers make, I think in an article, right?
RG: Yeah. Like the one example of this was, I thought I had done such a brilliant job reading this person’s chart. I said this is genius, see what I was coming up with. Then at the end of the reading, I said, “Well, any feedback?” And she said, “Well, you know, I came here to find out about my love life.” And I didn’t touch on that! I was talking about their career, their psychology, etc, etc. I didn’t touch on romance at all and that’s the only thing she wanted to know about. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way to kind of get a sense of bearings before the reading. What do they want to know? Because you want to make sure you’re touching on what they’re paying you for.
CB: Yeah. Well, because sometimes there can be really important events that are happening in a person’s life but they could be not the person’s main focus at that time, or the person could be starting important career threads that will grow and become important 10 years later, but they may not be what they want to focus on that day in that reading and instead, they want to talk about this other topic.
RG: Exactly. So I’ll tend to touch on both. If I see something that I feel they need to know, I will touch on that but I want to make sure I’m covering the bases they’re paying me to cover.
CB: Yeah, so that’s one of your rules of the seven most common mistakes astrologers make; is start by asking the client, “What brought you in today? What do you want to talk about? Or what would you like to focus on?” And to make sure that you address the topics that the client wants to talk about. Then if there’s time, get to the other things that you think are important.
RG: Right. The other one that I start off that essay with, as I recall, is– and I learned this from one of my first teachers. He said, “Make sure the first thing you say when you do a reading is positive. Because if you start off the reading, especially for a first timer, a client that’s never had their chart done before and the first thing you say is something negative, that’s all they’re going to hear.” To a certain degree, that’s true. They’re going to walk away from the reading. I’ve had readings where 90% of it was positive, I’m talking about all the positive things coming up in a person’s life with the transits of the progressions. But I may have started with something that was mildly negative. And then at the end of the reading, the person said to me this one time I’m thinking in particular, they said, “Isn’t there anything good happening for me this coming year?” I had said lots of good things but they remembered that very first thing, that sets an imprint in a person’s mind.
RG: Yeah, that’s really important and it reminds me of Vettius Valens in the second century who uses this paint analogy to explain why the malefics sometimes seem like they’re more powerful than the benefics. Because he said if you have a clear white piece of paper and you put a black ink splott on it, it can kind of take over the entire painting in some ways and it can be very hard to then take white paint and go over the black mark. So, sometimes if you start off right away with saying something negative, that can color the entire reading.
RG: Yeah, I remember that analogy you bringing that up. And another one of those cautionary notes for astrologers is missing the forest for the trees where if you just follow the hit list that the computer spits out, you can miss the bigger trends. For example, a person may have Saturn in their Sun sign. That’s going to affect them the entire time for better or worse, or better and worse usually, the entire time it’s in that Sun sign. Whereas if you’re just looking at the hitlist, you might totally miss that. It might have happened a year and a half ago that it moved into that sign and you’re looking at the transits happening the given week of that person’s life and not looking at the bigger picture. Like I had a client where she said, “I wonder why things have been so hard for me with my career lately.” And if you looked at the transits, there was some like Jupiter Trine. There were “positive transits” and yet Saturn was in her 10th house for two years, and so she was having struggles. It wasn’t bad, I didn’t say this is a bad energy. But it was struggles, though. Saturn does produce a certain amount of struggle. That’s that whole late blooming thing that I get into. Unlike Jupiter which tends to be things handed to you on a silver platter, Saturn you work hard for whatever you get and it doesn’t come easy whatever that is by house, sign or planet.
CB: Yeah. That’s actually a really important topic as well. One of the other mistakes you say that astrologers sometimes make is telling people what to do. I think that’s a really interesting and important one because I know there’s different astrologers. There’s some astrologers I’ve heard that take the exact opposite end of that and will tell people what to do or what they think a person should and shouldn’t do, or do a synastry reading and say a person should or shouldn’t be with such and such person. But this is one where you take a more– you think it’s important as a sort of prime directive almost not to make a decision for the client?
RG: Yeah. This is a philosophical opinion, but I don’t think we’re here to change people’s lives. I think we’re here to help people make the changes that they want to make. But I don’t think it’s within our authority, and who wants the karma anyway of saying whether you should or shouldn’t do anything? And I’ve used the example of, if I remember this correctly, where a friend of mine was going to travel through China and I saw some difficult transits coming up for the person. And I debated, “Should I tell this friend?” They hadn’t asked me, they didn’t invite me to interfere into what they wanted to do, they didn’t ask me my opinion. So I debated should I tell them about this difficult transit. I decided not to because of that whole non interference thing. And so I said, “I’m going to watch this very carefully and see what happens.” Well, he wound up going on a trip to China and there was a somewhat of a tragedy where someone got seriously injured and he wound up helping. That led to him doing– I’m trying to remember if this was missionary work or something– he wound up getting involved in some very altruistic actions as a result of that difficult situation that would not have happened if I had said to him, “You shouldn’t go on the trip, this is dangerous.” I don’t think we’re wise enough. It’s the law of unintended consequences. Do we really know enough to say that, “Okay, yes, you should marry this person. You shouldn’t marry that person.” Not only is that tricky, but do you really want that karma? For better or worse, you know, do you really want to interfere like that?
CB: Yeah, you’re sort of taking on a much larger role at that point in making choices for the person that could really impact the rest of their life in ways that the astrologer reasonably can’t actually see the full outcome and implications of.
RG: Well, you can. I think as an astrologer, it’s perfectly okay to describe for them the circumstances that could come up as a result of the aspects. That’s different from saying you should or shouldn’t do something. For instance, if someone comes to you and they– I don’t do compatibility charts anymore, but let’s just say someone comes to you and they’ve got two charts of people that they are thinking of marrying. “I’ve got Joel over here and I’ve got Mark over here, which one should I marry? Look at the compatibility.” Well, you can say what the chart says about the good or the bad of those situations, but I don’t think it’s for you to make the final decision. You can, as an astrologer, illuminate their decision making. You can give them more information to work with. But that’s again, not authoritatively telling them what they should do.
CB: Yeah. This whole thing is reminding me of this line from the second Matrix movie when Neo is talking to the Oracle and she says, “We can never see past the choices we don’t understand,” and he asks her, are you saying I have to choose this certain outcome that I’m not going to mention because it’ll spoil the movie for those that haven’t seen a 20 year old movie? And she says, “No, you’ve already made the choice. Now you have to understand it.” And it was talking about a choice that was still in the future and he still didn’t understand and couldn’t see what choice it was he made. But her point was that her goal was simply there to help him understand this choice that he had to make, but not necessarily to make the choice for him.
RG: Yeah, and it gets into the whole question of free will too in terms of there’s an old saying in the Yogic trade to the effect that you can’t be free of your karma until you know what it is. I think that’s true. People say, “Can you transcend the chart?” I would say you can’t transcend your chart till you know what it is. It’s that sense. I always go back to the first chart reading, first full horoscope reading I had done, and that sense of revelation of how in the world can this person be telling me about my life from these notations on a piece of paper like that? I think for some people, it might be a blase thing but for me, it was like a tectonic shift in my life. It was, “My god, this is an extraordinary tool!” And suddenly I saw myself from a different perspective. I saw myself from a more objective perspective, and that gets into the phenomenology of Uranus. Uranus is outside the orbit of Saturn in the visible solar system. It somehow gives you a way to kind of peek at the script of your life to kind of step outside your life and look at it from a different perspective. And now you have a little more free will. Now, whether you have complete free will is something else but you certainly have more choices when you look at your chart.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s really important and it gives a greater sense of meaning and purpose as you’re going about your life, and making some of those choices. Both the ones that seem really major as well as the choices that seem somewhat inconsequential at the time but later turn out to have much greater impact than it might seem at first.
RG: Right. And I use the chart all the time. I mean, not all the time. But like if I have to do something major, like if I take a trip, I will try to do it under “harmonious aspects” instead of difficult aspects just because I prefer to have an easier time when I’m travelling for instance. I don’t look at every little decision in the light of astrology, but it’s very helpful in terms of, you know, if I have a really argumentative time coming up, I will tend not to use that as a time to engage with some important business decision or something like that. It’s very helpful as a tool, I have more choices available to me.
CB: Yeah. One last sort of philosophical point. You had a really interesting statement towards the end of one of the first essays I think in Under a Sacred Sky where you said that early on when you discovered astrology, one of the things you’re fascinated by is that it seemed to you said that it “hinted at some regulating intelligence at work throughout the universe,” and I know that’s something astrologers struggle with and their philosophies change and grow in different ways over time, and really fully even grasping what astrology is and what its implications are for the cosmos, and what it means about the universe is a really a big question that all of us struggle with. But I think you hit on something really important there that at the very least it sort of points to, which has interesting implications. Just this notion that there’s some kind of regulating intelligence, as you call it, that’s at work throughout the universe. I thought that was a really interesting thought.
RG: How do you explain astrology unless there is some coordinating choreographing intelligence that is putting all these things together? And the example I use in that chapter, I think it’s the last chapter of StarGate, was the client who was at a minor league baseball game and she got hit by a baseball that came out of line and hit her in the head. I looked at her chart and she had I think Uranus squaring her Mars when that happened, which fits because it was unexpected and Mars rules the head and all this. But I was thinking about this and how was it that this baseball player out on the field hit the baseball and this way word baseball came and hit her? What brought those two things together? What drew her to that baseball game at that particular time, and what drew that batter to hit the baseball in such a way that it hit her in the head? There’s something larger than individual charts involved here. There’s something that is orchestrating all this and whether you want to call that like the Buddhists might Big Mind, or Plotinus like I said before, the One– capital O– or God or whatever, there’s some big choreographer involved with all this.
CB: Yeah. It was actually in the end of the very first essay, you probably actually return to the topic in StarGates because it’s a big one, but you used a different example which was actually more interesting philosophically in the first essay in Under a Sacred Sky because there you were seeing a Neptune signature in the person’s chart as a transit or something and you were worried about and you actually advised them to avoid boats or going out on the sea as a result of that. And the client in order to sort of avoid the predicted potentially difficult period, did avoid boats and going out on the sea. But then they were driving down the road and something crazy happened that day.
RG: She was driving down the road right when this Neptune transit hit. This has been 25 years so I don’t recall the exact Neptune transit, it might have been some Saturn Neptune. She was driving down the road on the highway and a car with a trailer hook up was coming from the other direction, and the sailboat or whatever kind of boat it was, came off of the trailer, flew over her car coming in the other direction, missed her car by a few inches. I mean, if it had hit her, it would have killed her. So she avoided boats, but boats did not avoid her. How do you explain that from the standpoint of again, some mechanistic view of astrology in terms of forces? Even just the symbolism, what does Neptune have to do with boats? What’s this? What’s this symbolic connection between things that planets rule in? What brought that boat over there at that particular time? Why was she driving in that particular area when that boat came over her own car? It raises a lot of questions.
CB: Yeah, and it brings in thornier topic about fate and freewill and an experience I think a lot of astrologers will have at some point in their lives of trying to avoid a potentially not preferable or negative alignment astrologically, but then somehow accidentally creating that very thing that you were trying to avoid and the sort of inescapability to some extent of fate in terms of experiencing the archetype in some way when it’s your time.
RG: Yeah. There’s a story– I don’t know if it’s an old Middle Eastern story or it’s one by some modern author– Appointment in Samarra, I think it is, where a person tries to avoid their bad fate and they wound up fulfilling it. You know? Sometimes things are meant to happen no matter how you try to avoid it, which raises a lot of questions about, like you said, fate.
CB: Yeah. I mean, it’s a common astrological trope and astrological literature. Like Holden has a story about some astrologer during the Renaissance who saw a bad transit coming and thought it would be very negative for him, so he locked himself up in his house that day. But then that very day, a band of robbers came by and noticing what they thought was an unoccupied house, they broke into it and then found this astrologer and then murdered him because they didn’t want to get caught. I don’t know if that’s like a legendary or like a fanciful story or how that actually went down, but I know personally from experience as an astrologer that there are things like that where sometimes it almost seems like the placement has to manifest somehow archetypally in one way or another. That almost then makes me think of how this is something that was probably recognised in the ancient Mesopotamian tradition where they sometimes had things like the substitute king ritual, where if there was like a negative indication for the king, they would just swap out and make some farmer the king for a week. And then once the eclipse or whatever was over, they would put the normal king back into play or or reinstall him as king or something like that.
RG: There’s a story from I believe it’s in Paramahansa Yogananda’s book, Autobiography of a Yogi, where his teacher Sri Yukteswar was standing around– I don’t know if it was an outdoor fire or what– but he took a hot coal and threw it at one of his disciples and had him catch it and he burned his hand. It seemed like a cruel thing to do but basically, it boils down as I remember the story to the fact that he could tell either psychically or through his horoscope that he was under a very heavy Mars energy that he could die under, like being burned up in a house and that Yukteswar burned him, like redirected the energy into a lesser manifestation. So you have these remedial techniques that in some traditions, especially the Hindu tradition, where you can offset or certainly soften the energy through certain rituals. You burn it off, you might say. You have to manifest the karma, but it can be symbolically burned off instead of literally burned off.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s something I think about a lot lately as an astrologer and the extent to which you can sidestep or harness or redirect and rechannel things, versus the extent to which some things are kind of out of your hands and are already set in motion like a long time ago and are sort of headed your way one way or another, and are not necessarily always things you can control and manipulate in different ways.
CB: Cool. Well, where can people find out more information about your work, or what do you have coming up in the future?
RG: I have a book coming out sometime early next year. The tentative title is When The Stars Align, and my website is www.raygrasse.com. I have seven books out and you can find those all on Amazon if you search for them.
CB: Awesome. All right. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today. Thanks, everyone, for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast and we’ll see you again next time.
RG: Thank you.
CB: Special thanks to all the patrons that supported the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on patreon.com. In particular, thanks to the patrons on our producers tier including Nate Craddock, Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Ray, Angelic Nambo, Sumo Coppock, Issa Sabah, Jake Otero, Morgan MacKenzie, and Kristin Otero. If you like the work that I’m doing here on the podcast and you would like to find a way to support it, then please consider becoming a patron through my page on patreon.com. In exchange, you’ll get access to bonus content such as early access to new episodes, the ability to attend the live recording of the month ahead forecast each month, access to a private monthly auspicious elections report that we put out each month, access to exclusive episodes that are only available for patrons, or you can also get your name listed in the credits at the end of each episode. For more information, go to patreon.com/astrologypodcast. The main software we use here on the podcast to look at astrological charts is called Solar Fire for Windows, which is available at alabe.com and you can use the promo code AP15 to get a 15% discount. For Mac users, we use a similar set of software by the same programming team called Astro Gold for Mac OS, which is available from astrogold.io. and you can use the promo code ASTROPODCAST15 to get a 15% discount on that as well. If you’d like to learn more about the approach to astrology that I outlined on the podcast, then you should check out my book titled Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune where I traced the origins of Western astrology and reconstructed the original system that was developed about 2000 years ago. In this book, I outline basic concepts but also take you into intermediate and advanced techniques for reading a birth chart, including some timing techniques. You can find out more about the book at hellenisticastrology.com/book. The book pairs very well with my online course on ancient astrology called The Hellenistic Astrology Course which has over 100 hours of video lectures where I go into detail about teaching you how to read a birth chart, and showing hundreds of example charts in order to really demonstrate how the techniques work in practice. Find out more information about that at theastrologyschool.com. And finally, special thanks to our sponsors, including The Mountain Astrologer magazine which is available at mountainastrologer.com, the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacks available at honeycomb.co, the Portland School of Astrology at portlandastrology.org, and the Astro Gold Astrology app which is available for iPhone and Android. You can find out more information about that at astrogold.io.