The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 338, titled:
Changing of the Gods: An Astrology Documentary Series
With Chris Brennan and Kenny Ausubel
Episode originally released on February 2, 2022
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: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released February 8, 2022
Copyright © 2022 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 with the director of the new Changing of the Gods astrology documentary series. Kenny, welcome. Thanks for joining me.
KENNY AUSUBEL: It’s a pleasure and an honor to be with you, Chris. I love your program.
CB: Yeah. This has been a long time coming. I just did an episode with Richard Tarnas, who’s part of the inspiration in the subject of your documentary. And so you’ve been working on this for several years now but it’s finally about to come out in late February of 2022, right?
KA: It is, indeed. It’s been a long and winding road, I’ll tell you. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. I’m going to go ahead, I want to make sure my audience understand the context for this interview. I’m going to play the short two to three-minute trailer right now so everyone can get a sense for what we’re talking about before they’ve seen the movie or the series, and then we’ll start talking about it. Does that sound good to you?
KA: Sounds great.
CB: Okay, here we go.
[Changing of the Gods trailer plays]
Is this just some sort of disturbance in the Force?
These are truly uncharted times.
There are periods in history when human energies both constructively seem to come to a boil.
I don’t know if you can remember the last time we have seen a world this much in chaos.
If you didn’t know better, you’d think something larger was at work.
Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is. That something is happening again.
Is there a correlation between human history and the movement of the planets?
Tracing back in history the many times that Uranus and Pluto came into conjunction or opposition or the square, it would coincide with historical periods that have a quality that perfectly reflects the archetypal quality astrologers connect to those particular planets.
There appears to be a close correspondence in history with sudden large scale shifts in human consciousness and collective behavior.
Is this the moment of the beginning of the revival of the women’s movement?
I can see the similarities between Black Lives Matter and the Black Power movement.
One possibility for understanding astrology was that it was synchronicity working on a grand cosmic scale.
There is one unitive process of consciousness that is manifesting on multiple scales of time and space simultaneously everywhere, and astrology is the study of those correlations.
The current scientific understanding of consciousness is just barely beginning. There are correlations between the microcosm of human consciousness as a macrocosm of the solar system and beyond.
We are constantly co-creating together. We are the conscious expression of the universe being conscious of itself.
Our future deeply depends on what level of consciousness and engagement we bring to this historical moment to bring forth the best possible results.
Obama: Young folks who marched from Selma to Stonewall didn’t just do it for themselves, they did it for other people.
A fundamental changing of the gods seems to be at work right now.
Massive numbers of people coming together to actually decide what their future is going to be.
This is a moment in history that seems to happen from time to time in history. This is by far the biggest one yet.
CB: All right, so that’s the trailer. This is pretty exciting. Basically, the context of this series is that it focuses on mundane astrology and especially outer planet alignments, particularly the alignments of Uranus and Pluto, such as the squares, the conjunctions, and oppositions. And it’s partially based on the work of Richard Tarnas and his 2006 book Cosmos and Psyche, right?
KA: That’s correct. Yeah.
CB: Okay, you know, the Uranus-Pluto square that was happening, if you use Tarnas’s orbs of 10° for squares was operative between 2007 and 2020 and it was really exact around the middle part of the last decade. That was part of what led you to want to do this project at that time, right?
KA: Well, you know, I read the book in August of 2012. And I had been- I’m gonna backtrack just a little bit and tell you some of my personal background.
KA: I grew up in New York City and after college, I fled the East Coast. I’d been a student activist and you know, everything sort of crashed and burned in the early 70s pretty depressing time.
CB: Do you share your birth data?
KA: April 20th, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York at 2:58 am. Anyway, I fled to the West Coast and ended up in San Francisco for a period and became friends with a mother and daughter who were of Russian extraction and the mother, Marla, looked like something off a tarot card. She was a deep Russian mystic and a wonderful, wonderful person. And the woman had kind of X-ray eyes and always dressed in red and black, you know? Anyway, after we got to know each other she offered to gift me with an astrology reading and I thought, “Oh my god, great. Welcome to California.” [laughs] And I resisted for a while but out of politeness and friendship, eventually I relented and I went and had this reading that absolutely blew my mind. I mean, I could not imagine how anyone could know that much about my inner life and my psyche. And I learned so much about myself, things that actually have served me for the rest of my life.
CB: What year was this?
KA: This was 1970… end of ’73.
CB: Okay, and you have early Pisces Rising?
CB: Okay, I’m going to share your chart on the screen really quickly. There you go. So for those listening to the audio version, so you have early Pisces Rising. You have Moon-Jupiter conjunction and Aquarius, with Jupiter at zero and the Moon at two. Then Mars in Aries along with the Sun in the North Node in late Aries, Venus and Mercury conjunct in early Taurus, Uranus at 27 Gemini, Pluto at 14 Leo, and Saturn at 29 Leo with Neptune at 13 Libra. That’s a nice chart. So you had this reading and it was actually really persuasive and made you think that there might be something to this in the early ’70s?
KA: Yeah, very much so. And then within the year, I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where I continued to live. It was a tiny town at that time and it was primarily a Hispanic town. Of course, there’s a strong native presence and then there was the Anglos, and then there was the fourth wave of the hippies that came in around that time and fell in synchronously with a group of astrologers who turned out practice the type of astrology that Rick does, which is primarily focused on planetary aspects and Ebertin and, you know, the Uranian astrology. And I spent several years just educating myself and getting to learn from these very, very brilliant astrologers. For me, I was doing other things in terms of my life and my work, but it was kind of an avocation and just an interest and a personal hobby. And then I moved on to do other types of work but I always continued it as my own personal little practice of astrology. I’m in no way an astrologer and, you know, spend most of my time doing other things. But I asked a friend around 2012 who’s an astrologer, a very close friend of mine, if there were any books about astrology that was not person-centered but about societal astrology. And he referred me to Cosmos and Psyche. And as they said, I read it in the summer of 2012 and I almost didn’t get up for four days. I mean, it just blew my mind completely. And I have an almost sort of holographic 3D vision of the film focused on the Uranus-Pluto, which was the central picture of the time that we were in, of course, at that moment. I’d co-founded Bioneers in 1990, the nonprofit group, with my wife Nina Simons, which is really about practical and visionary solutions for restoring people and planet with a very strong progressive political outlook to it as well.
CB: Yeah. Could you tell me a little bit more about that just because that’s such an important backdrop for the series, actually, your work with Bioneers. It might be good to dwell on that for a minute or two.
KA: Sure. Well, I grew up in New York City and my father taught at Columbia as a professor of history. And so I grew up around, you know, I came of age during the ’60s during the height of all the protest movements and social movements, and became involved in the Civil Rights movement when I was about 15 and then the anti-war movement and student movements and so forth. I remained political and then when I moved to New Mexico, to anyone who was paying attention at that time, it was very clear that we were on a collision course with the natural world and with each other. And rather than just sort of sitting there shivering, fearful in the dark, worrying about the Doom machine coming our way, what I wanted to know is are there any real solutions? And I began to learn as much as I could and read and meet people and one by one by one, I began to meet all these remarkable people who had come up with genuine solutions to, you know, systemic solutions to environmental and social crises. And I came to call them Bioneers. The word in Greek, bios, means life. You know, the study of life itself. And there were two characteristics to these solutions. One was that they were systemic, it was a solve-the-whole-problem approach, not kind of single-issue focused. And the other was that they had all looked to nature as mentor, model and metric for actual solutions. The basic question which sounds idiot simple but is disarmingly complex is, how would nature do it? And of course, now that’s an entire field called biomimicry, which is covered in the film in various places. And so I just did this as something I was interested in. I was writing and doing some journalism and this and that. And in the mid-80s, I was making a feature documentary film– the first film that I’d done called Hoxsey, How Healing Becomes a Crime. It looks at the world of unconventional cancer therapies and the suppression and repression of those. They’ve really mostly never been studied and was particularly focused on one treatment called the Hoxsey treatment which is an herbal formula that has since been to some degree validated, actually. But it’s a botanical formula and I sort of went through the rabbit hole into the world of botanical medicine, and in the course of that I met the co-author of The Secret Life of Plants, Christopher Bird, and became good friends with him. Of course, Chris was deep into plant intelligence at that point and, you know, ‘plants are sentient’ were at the time very, very radical thoughts. Now, of course, no scientist would dispute the intelligence in nature. But anyway, Chris called me up and asked if I’d go make a film at an Indian Pueblo near Santa Fe, and I didn’t really know what I was getting into. But it was there that I met Gabriel Howarth, who’s a master organic farmer and seed collector who had traveled all over the Americas collecting traditional heirloom and native seeds. He’d lived with native peoples to apprentice with them and what he came to understand as they trusted him was that they would give him their most precious of gifts, which is the gift of seeds, because through the seeds speak the voices of the ancestors. And each time you plant a seed, you become an ancestor for generations to come. And so we were filming and one day we filmed with this one native man from San Juan Pablo who was holding these just luminous red corn seeds in his hands and he began weeping as he was speaking. Gabriel, at the Pueblo, had simply put out the word, they’d asked him to come and plant his diversity gardens there and so he had gone around the Pueblo just asking people, “Do you have any old seeds?” And this fellow, James Chancellor, had found these red corn seeds in a little pot buried in the adobe wall of his home. And it turned out it was the sacred red corn of San Juan Pueblo which had not been planted in 40 years. This was a real catalytic moment and long story short, Gabrielle and I went on to found a company called Seeds of Change in 1989, that was a backyard biodiversity company and the first national organic seed company to bring diversity back into the food web, the agricultural diversity. And then a year later, my wife Nina Simons and I started Bioneers, which was very much along those same lines of looking at nature-based solutions as well as social solutions to the major crises that we’re facing. It began as a annual conference, which continues today, and then moved into many other areas of activity and different projects so we do a tonne of media. And so when I was reading Cosmos and Psyche, you know, part of when you look at the Uranus-Pluto picture, it’s about revolution, paradigm shifts, and that’s exactly what the work of Bioneers is about. We’re sort of a network of networks of many of the people at the forefront of these different very diverse social movements. And I realized that these were the revolutionaries of our time, and that in looking backcasting into history in effect, going back to the French Revolution and looking at these cycles of revolution and transformation during new periods, we would land in the fierce urgency of now. And what is the revolution today? What is the transformation? And so it’s kind of a marriage of Bioneers and Cosmos and Psyche in that way.
CB: Okay, brilliant. So it partially helped you once you discovered it and saw that we were in the midst of the Uranus-Pluto square of the 2010s and how that related back to the 1960s that the Uranus-Pluto conjunction and then further back in that cycle, it helped you to contextualize some of the work that you had been doing up to that point and some of the changes that you were seeing in the world today?
KA: Well, exactly. I’ve been wanting to make a film for a number of years. I’d done, as I said, this Hoxsey feature doc in the ’80s and I’d been poking around and looking at different possibilities. I’ve been friends with Louie Schwartzberg since the mid-90s, and Louie has been at Bioneers many times. Of course, Louie does absolutely brilliant nature-based films, the most recent being Fantastic Fungi, which I was an executive producer on. Anyway, we were kind of poking around and wondering, and nothing quite clicked for me. There were some really good ideas, but I wanted to do something that was transformative and I’d hadn’t found it yet. With Cosmos and Psyche, it goes to the much deeper level. With Bioneers for many years, since the beginning actually in 1990, we’d been exploring this idea of intelligence in nature. And what appealed to me about Cosmos and Psyche is it takes it up one octave, saying not only is nature intelligent, but is our nature and the cosmos actually saturated with consciousness, with sentience? And that was really interesting. [laughs] And then at the same time, it would be a fascinating kind of experiment; if these cycles are archetypally predictable would the archetypes of the Uranus-Pluto period, you know, could we hold a mirror up to the zeitgeist and verify would this indeed be this period of revolutionary transformation? Of course, there was no knowing concretely what would happen, but archetypally, would it be predictable? And sure enough, you’ve seen the film you know. [laughs]
CB: Yeah, and also I’ve seen and lived through the decade that we just experienced. That was one of the things that was kind of interesting about this project, is you started it and you launched it with a Kickstarter to fund it at least or at least it was funded through Kickstarter in 2015, but then we were still only part of the way through that. So there were still a lot of that Uranus-Pluto square to go and a lot of events took place over the subsequent six years. I feel you maybe ran into a little bit of an issue where some of the things that you were documenting at the time were still happening and still playing out in the midst of trying to make this film capturing part of this era.
KA: Yeah, you’re right on point. One thing that anybody who knows anything about Uranus-Pluto knows is expect the unexpected, right? [laughs] You have no idea what’s going to happen. And so for one thing, it began originally as a two-hour feature documentary. I actually started raising the money in 2013 but it took a couple years to put together the initial seed funding and then the team and the concept, and put everything in place legally. We started production in 2015 and I thought originally it was going to be a two-hour feature documentary but a couple years into it, I had a real crisis and I realized number one, there’s no way that we can do justice to Rick’s work and shoehorn this story into two hours, partly, because there’s so many big ideas. You know, people just get their hair blown back and there’s no way that you could absorb that in a couple of hours. I’d lose people very quickly. And we were doing little test screenings of what we’d shot and started to edit, and we saw that quite visibly. The other thing was that we just needed much more time and space to unfold it and at that time- So I sat down and I kind of mapped out the topics and the structure, and I realized that it was perfectly fitted to an episodic series. And as I say, when I started this in 2013, Netflix was a mail order DVD company that everybody thought was about to go bankrupt, haha. [laughs] So by 2016/2017 there was Netflix, Amazon was coming on the scene, etc. and so it would work to do an episodic series. And so of course, that changed everything. We were originally hoping to finish and release it in 2018 and that just was not going to happen. What ended up happening was that we tracked the entire transit through 2020 up to January 6th, the famous January 6th. That was kind of our cutoff point. And it was actually necessary in retrospect, to follow the transit to its conclusion or to its tapering off at that point. I’m not particularly mystically inclined but I had this feeling when the whole project started that it was almost as if the cosmos picked me up by the scruff of the neck and said, “You’re working for me now. You’re doing this and I’m going to help you.” [laughs] And so I felt like I surrendered at that point to saying, “Okay, I’m just gonna go with the flow and it’s gonna be a wild ride and who knows how this is gonna go?” That’s what ended up happening following the transit right to the end.
CB: Brilliant. All right. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense in terms of the rise of Netflix over the past decade and how just watching a series of something or people releasing a series of either documentaries or television shows like Squid game, for example, last fall that have become so popular in watching something or binge watching something is like a 10-part series. So it makes sense that transformation. I did want to mention the Kickstarter really quickly because I think that was notable in the astrological community because even though Kickstarter was launched in 2009, it really seems like it became popular in the early to mid-2010s. Yours was one of the first really successful major Kickstarter projects to fund an astrologically based project. I know there were other astrologers like Adam Elenbaas or [00:20:40] who launched his Kickstarter in 2014. But I think yours was one of the first really big ones where you had 555 backers that ended up successfully funding a goal of $100,000 in order to fund what was at the time, just a two-hour documentary project. That happened in late 2015, right?
KA: Yes, exactly. And I’d already raised money before that. When you do the types of projects I’ve been doing, be it independent film or Bioneers or Seeds of Change, you have to learn to be a fundraiser. That goes with the territory. But the Kickstarter campaign also generated other funding and was really seminal to the success of getting the money. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. Was that challenging at the point where it started expanding into a larger project? Because I’m sure even like, $100,000 for a two-hour project, you’d have to stretch that ways over the course of making it over three or four years. But did you run into issues with that once it became a larger, longer-term project that took six years instead of three?
KA: Well, let me put it this way. The budget is around three and a half million.
CB: Okay. Yeah, that gives us some idea.
KA: We really wanted to do justice to the material and make a really professional film. The other thing that I would add here too, because as I say, there’s just been a sense of synchronicity from day one with this that it was meant to be and I felt that was one way or the other, there was going to be support out there for it. Very early on, I needed a researcher and I had gotten to know Rick’s daughter, Becca Tarnas, who herself is a very prominent and respected astrologer these days. Becca originally was going to help me with some of the research, and then her life was complex and it turned out not to be the right thing for her. And she said, “Well, I have this friend who I think could help you. His name is Max DeArmon.” It was then that I met Max and Max, of course, went on to become the producer with me, the other producer of the film. Max is an absolute genius. He and one of my other key team, Theo Badashi who is our lead editor as well as a brilliant graphics and film artist really, his artistry is exceptional. Max pulled Theo in as our editor and they both moved to Santa Fe, and we’ve been a super tight team since that time. This literally would not have happened without the two of them. As a producer, Max is the most resourceful person I think I may have ever worked with other than my wife. There’s so many things that he has done that I just can’t even begin to say. And then we’ve had Nina Simons, my wife who has been a creative consultant, and Laurie Benenson who’s also one of our funders and helping creative consultants. There film is a collaborative medium, that’s part of what I love about it. At the end of the day, you do need a director, you need somebody who’s going to make a final decision. But largely, it’s a collaborative process. And so, so many fingerprints are all over this. And of course, Rick himself has given us endless input and helped make sure the narrations are correct and accurate and precise and added some of his ideas. There’s been an enormous team effort behind the whole project. Louie Schwartzberg, obviously, has played a major role in it. It’s a lot of people, it’s not just me at all. [laughs]
CB: Yeah. And the production value, that was the main thing I was struck by. Is the production value is just extremely high in just about every aspect of it, including not just the cinematography and the audio, but also the animations and just the graphical element that you have running throughout the entire film is top notch and is higher than any other sort of attempt to portray astrology I think, than I’ve ever seen.
KA: Well, I went to be really honest with you, Chris. When I first read the book and was thinking about, you know, had this vision of the film, I really had a long dark night of the soul because I’ve spent decades taking pretty obscure arcane topics that are often quite controversial or to some extent, taboo. I mean, the Hoxsey film was about a herbal treatment for cancer, you know? Good luck with that. And that was in the ’80s. I mean, I had doctors go apoplectic and their veins bulging in their neck yelling at me, “You’re killing people by giving them false hope and putting out this information.” Of course, the film ended up being highly acclaimed and it turned out the Hoxsey therapy does have merit. But in any case, Bioneers was totally out of the box in 1990 talking about the kinds of things that we were talking about at that time in nature-based solutions or biomimicry or indigenous knowledge and wisdom, etc. So, you know, I’ve spent a lot of years trying to build credibility for some pretty far out arenas and I was concerned that, you know, astrology till pretty recently has been kind of the gold standard of magical thinking and new-age flakiness, and it’s like, “Oh, my God.” I wasn’t worried just about my own reputation, but about Bioneers and I don’t want- And that stuff’s out there. I mean, there will be some harm from it and all that but I feel like, “Hey, it’s the end of the world as we know it here, guys. This is a time to be courageous and really speak your truth, you know?” And I believe that the message in the film and the worldview in the film is transformational and is critically important right now. We’ve got to kind of, to use a baseball metaphor, swing for the fences. [laughs] So I decided to take that risk even though I knew it would be some reputational harm or blowback.
CB: Right. I meant to ask, and I should have mentioned this earlier, but the series is set to premiere on February 22nd, 2022. Right?
CB Why did you choose that date? Was it for numerological or astrological reasons, or what was the sort of motivation behind that?
KA: Well, it’s interesting. One thing, my view of astrology– and it’s partly just my personal orientation– is that it’s great to have this kind of compass, you know, and calendrical tool that you can use. But I like to leave things up to the mystery at the end of the day with all humility. It’s like, it’s so complex. Nobody knows anything. I think that you can overreach in terms of doing too elective, so to speak. Originally, we were going to release it on September 27th in 2021 and then for a variety of reasons including COVID, that was not possible so we had to reschedule. So there were some practical considerations such as after the New Year, how long before people are up and running again, and how long of a pre-launch is needed? And just logistics and stuff like that. And so I was aware, of course– which I think is where you’re heading– of the Pluto Return of the US birth chart, but I did not know it was exactly February 22nd.
CB: Okay, that was my question because already people have asked if you did that intentionally. There’s going to be three exact hits of the Pluto Return of the US to the US Sibley chart, and the first one happens to be on February 22nd. So, just curious.
KA: I didn’t know it was exactly that day, I knew it was in that zone. And different people have named different dates so I’m not skilled enough to be able to decide which one is correct, you know?
CB: Sure. Right. Well, that’s pretty fun. That’s really interesting and I like when stuff like that happens. So, I should have asked. What’s the release schedule? Is it all going to come out on February 22nd? How can people watch it? Or what’s the sort of sequence of events gonna be?
KA: Yeah, people could go to the link changingofthegodsseries.com and get all the information. The registration opens on February 7th, which is very soon. And what we’re doing is it’s an entirely free screening over about a two-week period. So you don’t have to buy anything, all you have to do is register. And then each day for nine days for 24 hours, each episode will air. So on February 7th– I forget what time, I think nine in the evening or something– but episode one will play for 24 hours and then episode two. And then after episode nine of the 10 episodes, there’s a marathon weekend where everything will play all at once so you can see the whole thing or whatever you missed. And then there will be the special bonus 10th episode which is the climax to the whole series. I forget the exact date but it ends after that. And then there’s a special for the people who buy I think the gold set, whatever it’s called. There’s a special webinar that Rick and Louie Schwartzberg and I, and [unintelligible 00:29:40] are going to do that people will be able to talk about the film and learn more. And of course, we hope people will buy the series and love it, but in any case, it is a free screening. It’s with a company called Jeff Hayes Productions, who specialize in this. And we’ve had a really wonderful experience working with them, very professional and their model is really excellent.
You know, we decided not to go with one of the major platforms at the outset for several reasons. But one of the primary reasons is this is a passion project, obviously, and we really want it to be seen. And we felt that we’re pretty well connected to many of the audiences that we would like to see this and can reach them pretty directly through our own channels and through the many networks at Bioneers and Rick’s networks and many other people. We really wanted it to be seen and to stay independent and retain all the rights to it for now. Once you sell it to one of the majors, it goes down the rabbit hole, you have no further control, and you don’t really know if they’re gonna market it or, you know, we have too much into this we feel it’s too important to just take that kind of a risk. So we decided take a different risk. [laugh]
CB: So, not having it on the other major platforms like Netflix or Amazon or something right now allows you to be able to do this premiere free, so that everybody can watch it and it can have the widest audience or distribution, at least initially.
KA: That’s correct. This initial screening, this initial limited launch is only a two-week period. So if you do want to see it, you got to actually tune in during that time. We may do the same thing again in several months, we’ve left our plans fluid for the moment. And we’re open, of course, to having it go to one of the major platforms down the line but we really wanted to control the launch and control the initial outreach because we felt we could reach people more directly.
CB: Okay, brilliant. That makes sense. So, really February 7th is when everything begins. That’s when the series’ initial screening begins. And then what happens on the-
KA: February 22nd is the screening. The pre-launch, you can register as of February 7th at changingofthegodsseries.com. And you can opt in right now. You can go there this minute, today, whatever, and register you on February 7th.
CB: Just to clarify, because there’s two websites. There’s changingofthegods.com, which has always been your main website and carries the trailer currently, but you’d like people to go to changingofthegodsseries.com in order to register?
KA: Yeah, either one will get you there.
CB: Cool. All right. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the actual series itself and some of the things that you covered. It’s broken up into 10 episodes and each episode ranges from what? About 30 minutes to an hour each?
KA: 30 to 40. The longest one is 45 but most of them are 30 to 40.
CB: Okay, and you allowed me to sort of get a sneak peek of the series starting in November, and I watched it through in the order that you had it at that point. But I think you may have reconfigured certain episodes since then or has it changed a little bit?
KA: Oh, no. The order would be the same. But now we have a final cut and so it’s radically polished from what you saw. But otherwise, the sequence has stayed the same. As I said, I had this sort of crisis at one point when I realized it wasn’t going to be shoehorned into a two-hour film, and sat down and kind of looked at the taxonomy and I realized that it would fit perfectly in an episodic format. The opening episode is really the setup and the premise, it introduces the idea of Rick’s work of world transits of Uranus-Pluto world transits and of the archetypes and what, you know, Rick characterizes the essence of Uranus-Pluto transits as being the arc of the moral universe’s long, but it bends toward justice. And so we set up the sort of theme of the whole series and then raised the question; would this transit from 2007 through 2020 indeed reflect this archetype of revolutionary transformation? Would it manifest as progressive liberation movements or right-wing fascist populist movements? [laughs] And of course, we all know how that has been going. And then the last episode is The Payoff because we raised several questions at the beginning: We’re really cosmological, as you well know, Chris. Do we live in a random meaningless universe, or is there order in the chaos? Is there a correlation between human history and the movements of the planets? And is it possible that not only is nature intelligent, but that nature in the cosmos are conscious, you know, have sentience? And so the last episode cycles all the way back to those questions from the beginning and looks into if this is true, how could this be?
And I would have emphasized in a sense it’s a mystery story or detective story, because they don’t call it The Great Mystery for nothing, right? [laughs] With all humility, we know so little. You know, who knows? We can speculate and we can have hypotheses and we can have intuition… Anyway, we go into those questions and we have kind of a reflection in the last episode from some of our interview subjects about the state of the world right now and what it all means. And then the eight intervening episodes, you know, part of what Rick lays out in the book is that these transits will predictably manifest in specific arenas of human activity. For example, episodes two and three go into political revolutions both left and right that includes general breakdown of structures, breakthroughs, etc. And then the next episode goes into women’s rights movements, which is another arena where these transits will predictably manifest. Then there’s an episode on Black liberation and civil rights movements, which is another sphere of human activity. The following episode goes into from othering to belonging, which is about the Plutonic shadow side, which includes scapegoating, racism, xenophobia… that whole gestalt of the underworld of the human psyche. And then the last sequence goes into technological revolutions, which also goes into the renewables revolution. Of course, that’s happening contemporarily as well as the biomimicry revolution, which is on the forefront of what’s really coming next. And then we go into scientific paradigm shifts, which also was a wonderful, wonderful vehicle to go into Rick’s work from his other book, The Passion of the Western Mind, which really looks at the birth of the modern mind and the worldview that has brought us to where we are today– the materialist, reductionist worldview, and the emerging ecological paradigm that is now superseding that. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful distillation of Rick’s absolutely brilliant work in that arena of looking at the scientific paradigm shifts. There’s a wonderful section in that episode about intelligence in nature that looks at plant intelligence, animal intelligence, and I won’t give away the story but it’s slime moulds [laughs] a single-celled organism that’s basically a ball of mucus that apparently is highly intelligent. I think people will get a kick out of all that. So that’s how it’s structured.
CB: Yeah, in terms of the episodes that really stood out as some of my favorites and looking back at the series, I really liked episodes four and five on the women’s rights movement and Black liberation movements, as well as episode six or seven on liberating the instincts and I liked large parts of episode eight on technological revolutions. Because part of what you did and part of what people need to understand going into the series is, for example in episodes four and five on the women’s rights movements and Black liberation movements, you spend a lot of time going back and showing historically what happened during different periods in the past when the Uranus-Pluto alignments took place, and what happened in the 1960s in terms of the women’s rights movements or Black liberation movements, but also taking it back through previous squares and oppositions and conjunctions of Uranus and Pluto, and actually showing in history how the same themes kept coming up over and over again and snowballing. And eventually leading to a sort of crescendo where major changes would take place in society at those times, but they were always tied into an earlier sequence of events that happen to coincide with or correlate with those outer planetary alignments. And in doing so, it not only demonstrates the principle of astrology is actually at work somehow or for some reason in world events, but as an astrologer I found it to be really compelling in terms of giving me a deeper insight into some of the meanings of the planets and some of the archetypal dynamics underlying Pluto and Uranus and some of the other planets.
KA: Yeah. Gosh, I forgot to mention Liberating the Instincts: Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll– the other episode. Sorry about that. But that deals with sexual revolutions as well as what Rick calls the liberation of consciousness, which we look at through parallels of the ’60s and now with the use of cannabis and psychedelics. That episode is a lot of fun actually, very very interesting. But yeah, you’re spot on. This is down another rabbit hole because when I had the original vision for the film, it was clear we would go back to the French Revolution, which is really mostly what Rick dwells on in the book, and then back cast from the present to the French Revolution and then look at the mid-19th century, the turn of the 20th century, the ’60s of course, and then the 2007 to 2020 period. What that would involve is an enormous amount of research on archival images, footage, art, paintings, I mean obviously there were no photographs during the French Revolution and no electronic media and so forth. So, it’s been a monster project in terms of the archival research. We have actually logged over 80,000 images, films and different clips that we have looked at and we actually looked at probably double that. It was absolutely overwhelming. And then we’ve worked with a team of lawyers for five years now, because either you have to license these things which you have to pay for and which means also finding the source, which can often be extremely difficult. Or you have to legitimately claim fair use, which is a whole legal discussion we don’t need to get into. But we have over 5,700 items that had to be cleared by our lawyers. [laughs] This has literally never been done before. Would we do these projects if we knew we were getting into? I don’t know. [laughs] It’s an open question, it’s hard to say. And Max has been amazing. And the two of us along with our legal team have done all that legal and licensing work and our heads are exploding. Believe me, I would never ever do something like that again. But we’ve really put tremendous care. And you know, it had to be very accurate. It had to be within these time periods, and oftentimes it was extremely difficult to locate the types of things we were looking for. But it’s also absolutely fascinating because I learned an incredible amount over the course of this. Also, we found so many sources of just amazing footage that were unbelievably obscure or weird stuff. And what you’re saying is; it’s this resonance, this echo that happens across the cycles where it’s almost like somebody wrote the script archetypally with often the same language being used. At the same time, you know, history doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes. But as Rick also emphasized, it doesn’t just rhyme, it evolves. And so you see the actual evolution across the transits of kind of how we got to where we are now and what this transformational moment means today.
CB: Yeah. I was, as I was watching it, just shocked by the sheer amount of archival footage and amazing graphic imagery and historical images and other things you used so that when you’re reading this, it’s like you’re getting a crash course in Cosmos and Psyche, but you’re getting like an animated illustrated, narrated commentary of some of the highlights of some of those cycles, all condensed down into much shorter episodes than anything I pull off, yet that are so information packed that your head is kind of left reeling even as an astrologer in terms of learning new things that I didn’t even know about in the past.
KA: Yeah. A lot of what interested me, as I say, was the Uranus-Pluto aspect of this because it is recharacterized as the arc of the moral universe, and to look back to beginning with the French Revolution, which was the catalytic revolution in the West of this movement for rights, for freedom, for justice, for liberation, and to look at that arc across these cycles, you know, bringing us to now. Few people really know the history or and so we tried to distil that history as best we could. Obviously, it’s maddeningly incomplete in certain ways, but to give a real capsule history and when you see the sort of trajectory over time. It’s incredibly moving to me the unbelievable courage, bravery, the suffering that people have been through. I mean, you mentioned the Black liberation and civil rights episode. The incredible power of soul behind that of what people have endured- Oh my god, the women’s rights as well. And it’s very shocking, like in the women’s rights episode when you see even the footage of the 60s, which I lived through. I mean, I came out of that epoch, but how unbelievably backward it was compared to where we are today in terms of consciousness and what people were coming out of, and coming out of the ’50s. Then at the same time it’s also the story of revolution and counter-revolution, and the plutonic will to power and domination that will fight back every time. You mentioned the Pluto Return in the US birth chart, but we’re witnessing so much of that now. This is the struggle of democracy versus plutocracy, which was present from the very beginning of the American Revolution. And it was actually the elites who won the American Revolution at that time and the upsets go into that. It’s a very deep deconstruction of the democracy theme park. [laughs] We’re told we live in a democracy but is that really true? That’s very questionable.
CB: Yeah, one of the themes that kept coming up over and over again and was I thought insightful as I was preparing to do the Pluto episode with Rick Tarnas last month was just the themes that kept coming up in almost every episode when it came to Pluto, had to do with like power dynamics and what happens when there is a power disparity between two groups of people or two people in general, and the tendency sometimes for that to be abused and lead to major issues in society. But then at some of these alignments, there was this periodic push to readjust the power disparity and to fix things. I think that’s what you’re referring to as like the moral arc of the universe in some ways, like the push back to fix things that are sort of wrongs in society or in the world in general?
KA: Yeah. Absolutely. The reason that I chose the people whom you saw in the film, the interview subjects who are largely from the Bioneers network, is that they are contemporary revolutionaries and they’re deeply thoughtful people. I mean, you can speak to that better as a viewer. Obviously you know what my opinion is, but someone like John Powell who’s a law professor and a deep scholar of racial justice, he wrote an incredible book called Racing to Justice. But a lot of John’s work is what he calls from othering to belonging, and it looks at that plutonic shadow side of the tendency toward scapegoating, xenophobia, racism, you know, that whole gestalt, and how do we bring about a world where we recognize all of us as human beings with mutual respect in a world where everybody belongs– what he calls the circle of human concern. That’s the transformative moment that we’re at right now. Similarly, Eve Ensler’s work around ending violence against women, you know, that is so up right now. [laughs] It’s another one of those transformational moments. But the forces of darkness are fierce and they are fighting back and this is the moment of truth right now that we’re really facing in the world. Are we going to, you know, Pluto is kind of transform or perish, right? [laughs] One way or the other. That’s the existential crossroads we’re at.
CB: Right. So each of the different people that you interviewed in the series, a lot of them are people that you’ve sort of carried over from some of your previous work with the Bioneers and some of the environmental and other activism, sort of tight areas of your life and finding ways to integrate that into the sort of narrative that you found in Cosmos and Psyche and that was present in the past decade at the time of the Uranus-Pluto square.
KA: Yeah. One good example; there are two political revolutions episodes and the second one is Democracy Versus Plutocracy. The people who we interview in that, you know, there’s not much question that we’re living in a plutocracy today. It’s greater than even The Gilded Age and the age of the robber barons. But what’s also been going on on the ground, and particularly during this transit, is work to really deconstruct corporate power and to revoke corporate rights. That’s been happening from the ground up. Tom Lindsey and Mari Margil who worked for the Centre for Environmental and Democratic Rights began right in 2006, the very first communities in the country started in Pennsylvania. They were actually rural communities that are quite conservative and they would actually be considered right wing. But they were besieged with factory farms and quarries and basically, they discovered that the laws were written by the companies and set up in a way that you can’t win, you know? Communities can’t really resist. So they decided to just sidestep the law and start making their own ordinances and revoking corporate rights, and writing community bills of rights and local constitutions. This has become a national movement now in communities across the country. And one of the most interesting extensions, and this happened in Pittsburgh; part of the problem is that the Constitution is basically a property rights constitution. So property rights will supersede any other rights; human rights, environmental rights… And so this has given birth to a movement called Rights for Nature, where nature actually gains legal standing and as people, we can stand as trustees on behalf of nature, be it an ecosystem or a critter, or a river, whatever it may be. This has become a major global movement now. Ecuador, in 2008, was the first country in the world to pass a national constitution that recognizes rights for nature, and it’s been upheld in court quite literally and spread all over the world. That’s the kind of prescriptive direct solution to some of the problems that we’re facing right now. Tom and Mari are some of the leading actors in that space. So it’s very practical, a lot of it.
CB: Yeah, especially later in the series it seems like very clear in terms of having a vision for what you would like to see happen going forward, and a sort of future that you’re hoping will be created and that people will be inspired to create as a result of watching the series.
KA: Well, I hope so. I hope as people learn more about that work they’ll come to the Bioneers website and that’s where they’ll find a lot of the deeper information. We’ve been doing this for 32 years now so there’s a huge media archive and an enormous community that you can become part of and get connected to, of people doing this kind of work on the ground. It’s very interesting because sometimes it can feel, you know, it’s pretty easy to despair and feel overwhelmed at how overwhelming these forces of destruction are and the fossil fuel industry is a good example. But a substantial amount of that is also propaganda and it’s kind of mind capture. And holding a mirror up to the zeitgeist of this Uranus-Pluto cycle, we have witnessed the displacement of the fossil fuel regime. It’s over. It’s not gone yet and it’s still going to be a battle. I mean, they’re going to keep struggling to squeeze every last dollar of profit out of this thing and delay the transition as long as they can. But we’ve seen the shift. It has happened. Electric cars are coming, I mean, it’s over. There’s a whole other regime coming into place and it was incredibly interesting to actually watch that live in real time during the transit and by the next Uranus-Pluto transit, it’s going to be a whole different ballgame. We will not have fossil fuels. [laughs] It’s profound on that level. And of course that episode, the Technology Revolutions episode, looks at the forefront of biomimicry, which is innovation inspired by nature looking to nature, which has done everything we want to do but without mortgaging the future or destroying the planet. And Jay Harman who’s a very prominent biomimic gives beautiful examples of the work that he does around spirals. It turns out that spirals are the archetypal form of nature. It’s all about flow and movement and when you build technologies based around these spirals, it’s transformational. And Jay gives some beautiful, beautiful examples of that and other forms of biomimicry. It’s our hope certainly that we’ve been pushing biomimicry through Bioneers for many many years now for 30 years and it’s about to completely break loose and we certainly hope that people exposed to this new information will accelerate that process now. How did you feel seeing that segment? Was that something you were familiar with?
CB: No, that was actually new to me. It was really interesting, especially some of the stuff about spirals and it immediately being built into different parts of nature. It of course immediately made me think of the spiral animation that you’ve been showing all throughout the series of the planets spinning around the Sun in our solar system as it moves through space. There were some really interesting things like that. I did see that the series kind of culminates with more of the ecological focus. That seems to be the final point of the narrative that you wanted to end on, and I was wondering to what extent that sort of became more of the focus in some way rather than just the purely astrological focus because the astrology portion it seems like you wanted to provide a broader overall philosophy at the end of the series. I hope I’m not giving too much away by saying that but it tries to situate the astrology within a broader philosophy that might explain the astrology in some way but also explain a lot of other things in the world as well.
CB: Great question. Thank you. [laughs] No, it’s incredibly interesting and ironic. First of all, it’s not like we had a script in the sense that we didn’t know how the whole transit would play out or what we would find, we knew what areas to look in and so forth. But ironically, we’re looking at if you entertain the proposition that these transits occur and there will be an archetypally predictable zeitgeist that corresponds to the archetypes astrologers associated with Uranus and Pluto that suggests that consciousness pervades nature and the entire cosmos. That’s a pretty big paradigm shift. So we’re part of something so much larger, literally unimaginable it’s beyond our comprehension. Yet at the end of the day, it brings us right back to Earth [laughs] to our little mundane terrestrial existence here. The Scientific Revolutions episode goes into this whole paradigm clash between the modern mind, between the materialist reductionist paradigm, and the ecological paradigm which is about interconnectedness and kinship and mutuality and our ultimate total interdependence with each other. And so given the moment that we’re out in the world, it’s clearly this modern mind that has brought us to this precipice both ecologically and spiritually, and so the ecological paradigm is what is now emergent very clearly. And unless we resolve that, outer space doesn’t mean much. You know, at the end of the day we live on this beautiful little blue marble that is so precious and so unique, and they’re not going to be 7 billion people finding a space colony somewhere, not that many of us would want to go there either. I think going out into the heavens brings us right back to Earth.
CB: Yeah, that was– at the end of the series in terms of where you left it– was interesting in terms of culminating with astrology being almost like an epiphenomenon or a side effect of the broader point of the notion that there’s consciousness in the cosmos, and that nature has a sort of consciousness in the same way or in addition to humans having that rather than viewing it as a sort of dead, inert thing that we happen to find ourselves in. And it seemed like that was the point that you really wanted to focus on primarily by the end of it, that the astrology was a building block up to.
KA: Yeah. That’s exactly right. And, you know, most of the interviews that you see in the film were shot in 2015 and 2016. Of course, we didn’t know that this would take so long to finish but thank goodness the material was interesting to me because you wouldn’t know that those were six/seven years old, those interviews were five/six/seven years old. They seemed so of this moment. And I think that speaks to the quality of the people, because they really do have a long view, and a very profound one of what the core issues are, which really don’t change in that sense, you know? I think we do take a very long view in that way. We’re all in it for the long haul here and that’s what was so beautiful about going back to the French Revolution because you really get the sense of the arc of the moral universe at that level. This is a long term struggle in a long term- It’s ultimately about consciousness and the mystery of consciousness itself which, as the film shows, the science of consciousness is in its infancy. We really don’t know anything to speak of.
CB: Right. That’s such a huge part of what astrology is as a sort of study of consciousness in some ways. One of the things I noted and wrote down as I was watching, especially towards the end, was just that the series is so massive and sweeping that the amount of stuff that you cover just ends up being staggering and it’s kind of like reading 10 thick Cosmos and Psyche-sized books by the time you get to the end of it. And one of the things that I thought was interesting that in some ways, the series ends up acting like an addendum to Cosmos and Psyche because it covers the period that immediately follows the publication of the book in 2006, because you end up focusing on basically 2007 through 2020 or early 2021. So it ends up actually documenting the themes that arose under the square that happened immediately after the book’s publication, using the research from Cosmos and Psyche as its historical foundation and basis to establish the patterns and the correlations to look for in the present through Tarnas having documented the ones that happened in the past, and then you do a pretty good job then of showing how those themes have manifested themselves in recent times.
KA: Yeah. It made for a very dramatic kind of experiment because the book was published, as you say, in 2006 just before the UP kicked in, and so would this archetypally predictive hypothesis hold water? That would be the question, and we held the mirror up to the right guys to see how that would turn out. Also, Cosmos and Psyche is a work of deep scholarship and it’s a hundred or 455 hundred pages long. It’s very intellectual, deeply researched, and the limitation of that is that many people will not read it. And part of my impetus was I just felt like, “My god, what Rick is doing here is so important and many more people need to know about it, and a film could perhaps distill it into a simpler form and bring it to many more audiences.” I think certainly for Rick, too, that was appealing of something. He really wanted it to reach more people. That was our hope with the series, that it would take the core ideas and then build it out around the contemporary framework as well as a visual representation of much of the scholarship that’s in the book and be able to bring that to life as well. I would also say we had one very good piece of good fortune, which was that I’d known the late Tom Hayden, the longtime lifelong activist, California senator and all that. Tom wrote a book called The Long 60s. Tom was a remarkable writer and a scholar, actually himself researcher, and there’s a 40 or 50-page addendum that is an actual chronology of the 60s year by year right up to 1971 or two that lists all the major events that happened in each year. That was an absolutely invaluable resource for us. I don’t know how, you know, it gave us so much to work from in terms of the research to know this march happened or this protest, or this movement, or this assassination, or whatever it was. So we used that also as one of our roadmaps. There were quite a few, but that was a core roadmap as well.
CB: Okay, yeah. It ends up being like a sort of really enjoyable history class and learning things even if you’ve done some research into previous periods, but you get a lot condensed down into a very short span of time. One of the questions I had is; I’m sure one of the criticisms might be at some point is how much focusing too much on one cycle of just like the Uranus-Pluto square in recent times ended up causing you to neglect other planetary cycles that might be relevant or might be contributing factors like the Saturn-Pluto conjunction of early 2020 for example. Although I was happy to see that you squeeze that in later in one of the later episodes in episode nine or 10, a brief mention based on an interview that Tarnas actually did in 2015 where he again stated very clearly some of the archetypal themes he expected to come up. So I was curious just to hear what your thought was in terms of that as a possible criticism despite otherwise the film doing a really good job of showing how different periods in the past really are tied together with the present.
KA: Yeah, it’s a great question. And as I said, it’s maddeningly incomplete on one level because of the complexity. You’re an astrologer, a very accomplished one, probably many of your viewers and your readers are as well. But most people are not. And so we were dealing with having to satisfy people such as yourself who are highly knowledgeable, and then people who are essentially going to be very new to this and it’s all new to them, and to find some kind of a ground where it would be comprehensible and accessible. In episode three, we do bring in Saturn and the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto which is the plutocracy episode in relation to the Great Depression, the Great Recession, you know, etc. And then we bring it back in the last episode related to what’s going on now and where things are heading. But it was frustrating because we simply couldn’t go into the kind of nuance or complexity. I can give you one example but in the technology episode, the 60s, of course was completely transformational, and it climaxes in 1968 and 1969 with the famous Stanford demonstration of personal computers and the mouse and on and on, and hypertext linking and instantaneous messaging. And then 1969, of course, is the first demonstration of the internet, right? Well, that happened to be the Jupiter conjunction right then in 1969. That’s on the cutting room floor. I wanted that in there so badly [laughs] and Max and I thrashed over that and it’s just going to blow people out. It’s going to be too much information. And so it’s very frustrating not to be able to get into more of the Saturn-Pluto as you mentioned, in particular. At the end, we would have liked to go a bit more into what was coming because this year of course is the Saturn-Uranus which in itself is a story, but that is after the close of the transit so there were also legal reasons we have to do that because of the fair use guidelines, and we had to stay within our time periods and couldn’t stray from that. And of course, we don’t bring in Neptune which I was sad about. There were places that Neptune absolutely should have been in there as well. So it was a really tough call but I think it would have been TMI, just too much information and people couldn’t cope with that.
CB: Yeah. I think that makes sense, especially if people go into the understanding that it’s meant to be an introduction to sort of mundane astrology into just the concept of astrology and demonstrating the concept of world astrology and world transits manifesting at different turning points in human history. If you go into it without understanding that that’s your target audience rather than just throwing super high level astrology at people, you’re trying to make astrology a little bit more accessible even though what you’re doing is still a certain higher type of astrology in looking at historical world transits.
KA: Yeah, and I think so much of what people associate with astrology at least in the general public is horoscopes and Sun signs and stuff, much of which is really trivialized and just not serious stuff. I think the kind of astrology that Rick does and the kind of work that you do, this is really the highest octave of astrology and very few people really understand the kind of thoughtfulness validity of it, you know, so just giving people a basic kind of 101 in this highest form. I mean, it’s a wonderful way in my mind for astrology to come more widely to the general public because it’s sophisticated, it’s grounded, it’s deeply buried to transpersonal psychology as Rick points out, you know, which really happened in the ’60s. There’s been so much deep research that’s gone on– Project Hindsight, the work of Robert Hand and so many others. There’s a lot more sophistication to this than most people realize. In the first episode, we have that short segment on what is astrology and just try to let people know that this is a very noble tradition. It’s been kind of smeared and trivialized and stereotyped in that way so we hope to sort of sidestep that. It was helpful, I think, also to avoid some of the Zodiac questions entirely, just to sidestep that and focus on the relationships of the planets because it gets us away from certain controversies or whole other discussions that can just get in the way. I know people who are new would be entirely dismissive of the astrology who are very brilliant, very thoughtful, very rigorous thinkers.
CB: Yeah, that’s a good point about the Zodiac though because in Cosmos and Psyche Tarnas’s approach to historical astrology, he focuses primarily on outer planet hard aspect alignments of conjunctions and squares and opposition’s, and doesn’t emphasize the Zodiac much and the Zodiac doesn’t play a major role in his approach to historical astrology. So in this film, you do address that really quickly early on, and not sidestep stuff, but sort of just say, we’re gonna focus here on outer planet alignments and demonstrate that working in historical events and just that, in and of itself, that basic premise will be extremely new to most non-astrologers. The idea that there’s more than just the Zodiac to astrology or more than just your Sun sign, but the idea that other planets in our solar system could have some sort of astrological correlations is really the main thing that the series sets out to demonstrate and does demonstrate successfully.
KA: Yeah, that’s exactly right. To me, there are several points that are really super important about astrology. One of them is that astrology has been overwhelmingly person-centered, and this basically changes the pronoun from Me, Me, Me, to We when you get into world transits. We’re all in this soup together, right? And that fundamental shift of our pronoun societally is core to whether we’re gonna make it through this keyhole. Unless we begin to see ourselves as we and not me, you know, the hyper-individualism is part of what is killing the world right now. So that alone is a really significant shift and understanding that we’re all in it together, basically. And then I think the multivalence is critically important and that was one of the things that really turned me on to doing this project because I was watching a lot of films at the time because I wanted to make another film, and I just kept running up against this binary of good guys and bad guys. And whichever side it is, it doesn’t really matter. In one way, it’s two sides of the same coin. And the point is that it’s much more complex than that. It’s light and shadow and everything in between, and every moment of every day any one of us has the choice for how we express those energies. Right? We have real agency about that and as Rick points out, the more aware we are of these forces, this kind of archetypal weather report, the more freedom we have in how we choose to respond and to recognize it any minute. We can be an angel or a demon, you know, it’s all there all the time. So I think getting it to that complexity and that sense of agency is really important. And then I think lastly that if this is really true, that these world transits correspond with these archetypal weather reports, then we’re part of something so much larger. It is so humbling to realize, “My goodness, we don’t know much at all!” [laughs] And that’s the first step to wisdom right there. That’s been our hope, certainly with the film is that paradigm shift changing consciousness. In the Liberating the Instincts episode, Stan Grof is in that and he talks about how his research with psychedelics found that psychedelics have a self-healing potential because when you change your consciousness, you change your health and your wellbeing quite literally. And so we could change our psychological health quite dramatically with this change in consciousness.
CB: Yeah, I liked the interview or the discussion between Stanislav Grof and Richard Tarnas in one of the later episodes, I think in episode eight or nine where they talked about how they met. Grof was doing research into psychedelics at the time and one of the things that they found was it was only through astrology or astrology became one of the most reliable tools for determining if a person was going to have a more positive or constructive or more challenging response to having a psychedelic event or going through psychedelic therapy that the astrology for some reason was the main thing they kept coming back to in terms of being able to actually determine ahead of time how a person might respond to certain therapies like that.
KA: Yeah, it’s so interesting in episode one. We learned so much on this project, I didn’t know most of the stuff. But yeah, Rick had been at Harvard and wanted to come to Esalen to study with Stan Grof because he was really interested in psychedelic therapeutic work. And so Rick moved to Esalen and what they were finding was that with all these psychedelic sessions, it was impossible using the conventional psychiatric tests to understand why one person would have a good trip or a bad trip, or why one person would have a good trip or a bad trip at different times. And someone in one of the workshops said to Stan that he found that transit astrology was very helpful in understanding that type of context of why that might happen. They were very skeptical, Stan and Rick at first, but they were aware of [Carl Jung’s] deep interest in astrology and decided to look into it. Science is the impartial evaluation of evidence, you just look at the data. And they found that astrology turned out to be the only predictive method that would work in understanding what conditions might cause a person to have one or another experience.
CB: Right. And so that led to eventually Tarnas’s statement that he repeats, which is that astrology is archetypically predictive, that it’s not necessarily concretely predictive but instead that you can predict the broad outlines or the archetype of certain alignments when they happen in the future in terms of world events or in some instances, when you’re looking at personal transits the type of experience that a person might go through in broad terms. That was an important sort of foundation or basis in approaching this series, it’s just the notion that it was archetypically predictive but not necessarily concretely predictive.
KA: Yeah, exactly. I think it’s really interesting because I can imagine in the next several years that we go to a party, which hopefully, we’ll be able to do again someday, [laughs] that at least we’ll be talking about the transits. I think transit astrology is about to really break in a big way, culturally, and I can certainly say in my own life I find it incredibly useful both personally for myself, but to understand kind of the world context that I’m walking into at a given time. As Rick says in the film, it’s a great navigational tool. If you’re going to go out, you want to go sailing or surfing, you want to know which way the winds are blowing and how strong they are and whether to just stay home that day. [laughs] But I think transit astrology is going to be hopefully, it’ll be a big thing. I think it’s a very useful tool.
CB: Yeah, I think we’re starting to see some of that. Of course, the terms like Mercury retrograde have come into common usage and other terms like Saturn Return which is a type of Saturn transit astrology is also becoming common. So I think we’re starting to get there, but we’ll see how the next few years goes. One of the questions I want to make sure we got to before things wrap up is; I’m sure, for some people, there might be some trepidation or some criticism about the somewhat sort of overly political nature of the series or lens of the series through which things are being looked through. And some people might even reject it out of hand as a result of that. But I guess some of the questions are things like, on the other hand, can astrology operate in a vacuum or is the analysis of history or current events ever free of some sort of cultural bias in some way? And is that not somehow integral to astrology, the sort of subjective perspective of the observer, in terms of interpreting either world events or personal events. How did you approach it or what was your philosophy when it came to this project?
KA: Yeah, that’s a really valid and important question. Obviously, the film to some degree reflects my point of view. And one of the reasons I chose the Uranus-Pluto is that it is precisely about these times. It’s about liberation on the positive side of it, and the idea of looking at this quest for freedom for human rights, for rights for nature and for justice, that’s my passion. And that’s very much the focus of what the film is about in that sense. People may disagree with various of the politics but given that it was a Uranus-Pluto film, that’s what that transit is very much about– revolutions both left and right and as they say, count revolution and counter-revolution. I don’t think there’s anything intrinsic to astrology about the politics in that way, other than the archetypal aspect of the quest for freedom or liberation in that sense. There are many cultural approaches to this and, you know, I have great respect for diversity at large as a first principle and people have different viewpoints about these things so I think you’ll probably agree the film overall, is not prescriptive, or doesn’t tell anybody what to do. We certainly show different models but it’s not directed at anyone. And I think being apolitical is political, you know? Inaction is action. And we’re at a moment that is a very political moment in the world, there’s no escaping that. You can’t hide out from it. I mean, you can, but that’s not going to work. All this is going to move forward one way or the other. So I think people can find whatever their pathway is into the values behind these political movements, and create those for yourself in the way that you envision. That’s what we did. But what we really need is for people to engage one way or the other. We cannot be bystanders right now. So I don’t expect everybody to agree with the politics per se, but I would encourage people to engage in whatever way is most appropriate for them. One thing that I found so interesting, I read a bunch of stuff about queer astrology and some absolutely beautiful, beautiful statements. One by Chani Nicholas and one by queerastrology.com, I think. It talks about how, you know, so many people– there’s a whole section in the film about the return of the repressed, and there’s a section on gay rights movements as well and so many people who have been rejected, marginalized, you know, canceled, denied… And astrology is really beautiful in that way because it doesn’t pay attention to any of that. It pays attention to what your character is, what your psyche is, what your soul is, who you are as a human being, and gets past all this other nonsense. And so I think that’s part of the beauty of this, it’s that it is an open-ended archetypal well for people to return to to restore your own identity and your own character in that way, and opt out of all this nonsense that’s being laid on us culturally. So much of this in the film definitely looks deeply at capitalism, which unfortunately is driving so much of what goes on including divide and conquer. That’s so central to the model. And so I think that that’s one of the complexities of it. It’s been interesting the last few years but initially, Starbucks and then Amazon have started using astrology extensively in their marketing. HBO Max now uses it, you can go and enter your birthday and they’ll give you all the Leo films to watch or this kind of thing. What’s terrifying about what we’re talking about here, Chris, is that when you look at AI, if these people actually understood the power of astrology, it’s the ultimate AI. I mean, it’s really terrifying the degree of psychological manipulation, behavior modification… Oh my god, you as an astrologer know how much you know about a person in looking at their chart. So that’s something that it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen and we need to contend with that as well.
CB: Yeah, we did an episode on artificial intelligence, actually just earlier this month with Kent Bye who does a podcast on that. That’s one area I was actually curious about as a spin-off that you didn’t address in yours, because you focused instead on almost the opposite, which is how biology and biological beings have consciousness. And that really ended up being the final culmination of the film, was the inherent consciousness in the cosmos. But that would be an interesting question to be answered at some point in the next century, which is if the creation of some sort of artificial consciousness is possible or happens at some point and whether astrology could be a model for that if it indeed is already a model for consciousness.
KA: Yeah, I’m pretty skeptical at that level. AI I call it artificial idiocy. They’re inanimate at the end of the day, they’re not alive. They’re not conscious, they’re machines. That’s what they are and that’s all it’s ever going to be. And so much of it is harnessed to capitalism to selling garbage to idiots. That’s pretty much what it comes down to, which is literally devouring the planet. So that’s got to be deconstructed at large. What’s interesting to me, you know, is there’s some things I’d like to see happen. One of them is I wish someone would create an astrology foundation what would be basically astrology for social and environmental benefit. Right? How could astrology best serve society and the natural world? I saw a really interesting thing, I don’t remember the guy’s name, but a parliamentarian in the UK a few years ago who was proposing that astrology should be adopted by the National Health Service in Britain for mental health support. What a brilliant idea! Of course it should be. This should be part of counseling, part of psychology, and part of social support. There are endless ways. So I would challenge the astrology community here to come up with ways that this could actually spread in positive ways. How could this really serve other than just selling stuff [laughs] or manipulating people? Another thing that we would like to do, it’s been a funding issue, but with the series because you mentioned how much information is in there and how many big ideas, we’d love to create study guides and discussion guides and resources for people. So episode by episode, you could go deeper and you can, you know, I think people are gonna want to form pods or working groups or study groups or discussion groups to really go deep into this stuff and learn more and figure out where you can engage, how can you be more involved, who you’d like to be. Hopefully, that kind of stuff will flow out of this. There’s so much good in my opinion, that could come to society from astrology that we should really be challenging ourselves to see how to envision that and then make it happen.
CB: Right. That’s one of your core things in terms of– it seems like astrology in terms of perspectives. It’s interesting that I’ve accidentally on the podcast in the past month, contrasted two wildly different views in terms of consciousness and biology versus artificial consciousness, and those being two evidently diametrically opposing views. But one of your core things is that astrology itself should be used in order to enact political change and that’s part of your perspective on how you think astrology can best be used in a constructive fashion.
KA: Well, I wouldn’t say so much political, but astrology for the public good. You know? I mean, look at the type of work you do. The astrologers I know, they’re so committed to service. Whether it be with an individual client or in doing broader work of writing and teaching and trying to really help people understand themselves and understand these climates that we’re all operating in at different times and cycles, and all of that and evolution itself in that way. And so I just think there’s so many ways that- I mean, I know how it’s been important in my life and how I’ve used it, and I think that the next step here is… Oh, I should mention also William Keepin who is in the film who is the mathematical physicist who talks about different hypotheses for how astrology could work. He talks particularly about the work of David Bohm and the idea of holomovement that we live in a unified integrated cosmos of endless interconnection. Anyway, I asked Will if he would be willing to pull together an article about whatever contemporary science does exist about astrology, because particularly the last 10/20 years, there have been more studies coming out that are generally small. It’s not at a scale that we would like to see. But over and over these studies are affirming different pieces of astrology, for example, aspects and houses are being affirmed by actual studies. So Will is going is writing an article that we hope to publish by the launch. Don’t hold me to that but that’s in the can. And I’m personally more interested in how astrology can be applied in good ways than improving it scientifically, per se. But there’s going to be more and more research in this area. These things are empirical. I mean, here we are holding a mirror up to the transit and look what happened. It’s a direct correspondence. It was archetypally predictive what happened here. I mean, that is measurable on some level and so are some of these other things. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the late biologist Lyall Watson, but he was a visionary biologist who sort of dared go where others didn’t in looking at pretty far-out phenomena. But he wrote a book called Supernature that has a wonderful chapter on astrology. And some of the earliest research or some of the most interesting research I should say, was in the mid-40s. RCA Corporation was having trouble with their satellite dishes and their radio reception. And they started to look at planets and what they found was the axial alignment screwed up their reception and when there were trines, it improved the reception. That’s measurable, right? When you look at the planetary aspects, we could measure that. So I think that that’s going to be a whole other field that will open up much more research into the science of astrology. In my opinion, it’s largely an art, and so much of it is psychological and interior and subjective in certain ways so I don’t think it’ll ever be a science in that way. But I think that we can verify and validate certain pieces of things like planetary movements or aspects or things of that nature.
CB: Yeah, and one of the interesting potential promises of your film is hopefully that it will help to spark more interest in terms of higher-level discussions and research into astrology in the same way that Tarnas has done with Cosmos and Psyche, just because it seems like in studying the history of astrology, that at different points sometimes there’s an astrologer or there’s a few astrologers that end up getting together and incorporating all of the current scientific understanding of what’s known about nature and philosophy and science and all of these different things in creating a grand unified system that integrates astrology, but that hasn’t really been done yet in our time and we’re still sort of waiting for that to happen. But by the end of your series, it seems like it pulls together a bunch of different pieces that gives a possible glimpse into something like that of creating a grand unified system that could be appropriate for our times and articulating where astrology would fall in that.
KA: Yeah. I’m a little skeptical generally of grand unified systems because, again, the humility is our constant companion of how little we really know and understand. So I think these things are frameworks that can be incredibly helpful and we can understand at least parts of things, but I think that there’s so much opportunity here. I did a lot of research along the way about just kind of markets and audiences and a lot of demographic data and stuff like that, and this was as of two/three years ago but people under 45 have no baggage about astrology, basically. It’s a big “So what? Of course. Why not?” and so many younger people are into it. That’s a big generational shift that I think is going to more and more take over, frankly, where this will be something that will just be much more common. And people like yourself are in such a wonderful position to really educate people with really thoughtful, intelligent, and very experienced astrology. I mean, you’ve been around the block and there’s so much nuance to it and so much yet to learn. Everybody’s always learning, there’s so much to know. But I think it’s gonna- Hopefully, the film will help elevate the conversation and stimulate more and more people to really take this seriously.
CB: Yeah, definitely. All right. One of the last things is just if anyone was skeptical about astrology and they’re not sure, is that one of your primary audiences with this series? If somebody’s skeptical about astrology, what would you say to them or what would you say to encourage them in terms of looking into it? Or is that really the purpose of this series to open it up to a broader audience and sort of make the case for astrology in some way, and maybe in a way that’s unique that hasn’t been done before in this format?
KA: It’s a great question. Rick, in his teaching, always tells his students to hold the pole of doubt; don’t believe what he’s saying, check it out for yourself. And in the film, we really don’t hit people over the head or try to convince anybody of anything or argue anything or prove anything which is not provable, actually. It’s a breadcrumb trail of correlations across centuries in the public sphere. It’s not about an individual or that person’s psyche. It’s about being in the soup together, the cosmic soup that these archetypal waves kind of break and recede across history. So my attitude is ‘you figure it out’. [laughs] This is the breadcrumb trail that we followed, it’s pretty compelling, the data seem pretty compelling. It’s very nuanced. I mean, we couldn’t get into all the nuance. These things don’t happen only during Uranus-Pluto periods but there is an intensity, a ubiquity, a frequency, et cetera, and a distinct kind of cultural zeitgeist or vibe. But no, we’re not trying to convince anybody of anything. Really, to me, the astrology is the sort of portal into this much larger mystery of consciousness itself, and be part of this thing that is so much larger than we can even really conceive of. I think that’s really what I hoped for. But I would encourage people to be highly skeptical and draw their own conclusions, do their own research, and at the end of the day I think a lot of it for most people will be intuitive. Honestly, we’re all being marketed to all the time and people are trying to sell his BS, belief systems, all day long. I don’t do that. [laughs] I’m not into it at all. So my attitude is, “Here’s a really interesting scenario, see what you think. You figure it out.”
CB: Yeah, I like that. That makes sense. All right, brilliant. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today. So the next step, I guess, obviously if people like the series once they’ve watched it, I’m sure Cosmos and Psyche and reading that since that’s was much of your source material would be your main recommendation in terms of where they should go from here.
KA: Yeah, absolutely. We’ll have more stuff on our website and other stuff like that but yeah, I hope people- You can go to either changingofthegods.com or changingofthegodsseries.com and you can opt in now and pre register starting February 7th, and then we’ll have the two-week limited run. So if you want to see it, that’s the window, those two weeks. That’s it, and it’ll be gone for a while. I hope people will check in. And Chris, I really want to compliment you. This is a very stimulating conversation and you do really beautiful work in the world, and this is so intelligent and I really appreciate the conversation.
CB: Thanks. Yeah. Well, thanks for the work that you’ve put into this series and I can just imagine the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into it. I can see it in terms of the final product, but I think it was worth it and I think people are really going to like the series, both astrologer and non-astrologer alike. So congratulations on finishing it and I look forward to seeing how it’s received both inside and outside of the astrological community, and then you know what you go on to do in the future after this. I think maybe take a vacation or something. [Kenny laughs] I’m sure this has been a long six-year or seven-year stint but I think you’ve deserved a break for a little while.
KA: I am so down with that. I cannot tell you, I’m going to take a little time off later this year I hope so. But we’re really excited. And again, I just want to thank my team so much; Max and Theo. Max DeArmon, Theo Badashi, Nina Simons, Laurie Benenson of course, and Bill Benenson her husband as well. And of course, Rick who has just been invaluable, and all the people in the film. As I say, I would like to go on and on naming all the people who have been part of this. So I think part of the beauty of it is that it really is a passion project and everybody that’s worked on it has had a direct personal connection and really cared about it, so I think there’s a sense of devotion behind it. It’s been a monster to make it and I’m so happy that we’re almost done and that’s wonderful. But now we release it into the wild and it’s going to be a great adventure so I look forward to be able to follow up in the future, Chris.
CB: Definitely, that sounds good. All right. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today. I really appreciate it.
KA: My pleasure. Great, good luck with your show.
CB: Thanks. All right, well that’s it for this episode. Thanks everyone for watching the Astrology Podcast and we’ll see you again next time.
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 Rae, Angelic Nambo, Sumo Coppock, Issah 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 and 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 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.
Also, special thanks to our sponsors including The Mountain Astrologer magazine which is available at mountainastrologer.com, the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at honeycomb.co, and the Astro Gold Astrology App which is available for both iPhone and Android at astrogold.io. There are also two major astrology conferences happening this year. The first is the Northwest Astrological Conference happening May 26th through the 30th 2022 near Seattle, Washington. Find out more information at norwac.net. And the second is the International Society for Astrological Research conference, which is taking place August 25th through the 29th 2022 in Westminster, Colorado. You can find out more information about that at isar2022.org.