The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 360, titled:
With Chris Brennan and Nick Dagan Best
Episode originally released on July 16, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released July 18, 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 talking with my friend Nick Dagan Best who’s joining me here in the studio in Denver, and we’re going to talk about some miscellaneous astrological topics and just catch up over the next hour or two. So hey, welcome.
NICK DAGAN BEST: Thank you, Chris. Great to be here.
CB: Yeah, I’m excited to have you in the studio for the first time. This is actually the first time I’ve seen you since 2016, I believe. Right?
ND: Yeah, the ISAR conference in LA.
CB: Right, the famous ISAR conference right before the 2016 presidential election which didn’t go so well, but it was otherwise an okay conference. So you have actually been living in South Africa for like the past six years now?
ND: Six years, yeah. Even by the time of that conference, I was already living there. Yeah.
CB: But you and I go further back or we go way back to 2005 or so.
ND: 2005 about March, as I recall.
CB: Right. And we met through again, through MySpace. Like, Patrick and I were talking last time he was here last month. We met through MySpace?
ND: Yeah, we all met pretty much at the same time. As I recall, I might have met you a week or two before Watson came along. But it was this sort of golden age of MySpace astrology. Have we ever told the story of how we met? Should I go into the very origins?
CB: By all means.
ND: Okay. So I have to go back to two people; Kelly Lee Phipps and a woman named Barney. Darn, I have her last name somewhere, I can’t remember it off the top of my head. But the two of them were at a conference sometime around 2002-2003. And they said to each other, you know, “Gee, it would be really great to have an org for young astrologers to help them sort of integrate into the astrology community.” And from there, Kelly recruited Moses Siregar into this cause and Moses being the great organiser that he is, brought me and a bunch of other people into the fold, many of whom remain very good friends of mine today but I met them through Moses. And along with Demetra George, this group of about 10/11 of us we founded AYA, the Association for Young Astrologers. Michelle Gould did all the paperwork to get us incorporated. We set ourselves up as a proper org, got all these mission statement and all the legalese worked out and all this. And we felt very proud of ourselves and then we proceeded to do absolutely nothing with the org. And this is the beautiful thing actually, Kelly and Barney although they were the ones who sort of birthed the idea of AYA, they weren’t involved in the actual– for their own personal reasons, they weren’t involved in the actual forming of the org. And Moses was our sort of President at that point, he was the guy leading the charge. But then he dropped out. Shortly after we actually got the thing started, he dropped out of the picture. But this is the beautiful thing about the AYA is that it’s always been this thing that just gets passed along, no one’s ever just sort of tried to hold on to it, if you will.
CB: Yeah, I just celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the release of the first podcast episode like a week ago, and I went back and glanced at that first episode. And one of the pieces of news that I announced was that Austin had just taken over for me the presidency.
ND: Yeah, I remember that because that was 2012 at the UAC conference in New Orleans. I remember very well the party you went that when we sort of announced it and, I don’t know, poured champagne all over each other or something. [laughs]
CB: I don’t know, I don’t remember that part.
ND: Maybe I’m making that part up.
CB: Yeah. Looks like a fantasy.
ND: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. But it was that kind of moment. So yeah, basically we had this org and for a whole year we just sat around, nothing happened with it. And then one day we got this really angry-sounding email from some punk young kid out in Seattle, this guy going to Kepler College who was complaining that AYA wasn’t doing anything and, you know, they started this org but it was all talk and no action. And one or two people in our group were sort of offended by this kid. You know, how dare this arrogant little schmuck speak up like this? And I said, “No, no, no, no, this is great. Let’s make him president. [laughs] He’s right, we’re not doing anything with it. Let’s see what he can do.” It’s the classic response when you’re being criticised. “Let’s see if you can do better.” And this arrogant, young punk turned out to be you. So once we sort of got over the awkwardness of of that exchange, I think pretty soon we did make you president of AYA and you did a lot more with it. You were the first one to actually do something with this structure that we had built.
CB: Yeah, eventually I became president. I think it was brought in or brought into the board at some point and then eventually became president.
ND: Yeah, things snowballed from there. Once we got through that little bit of awkwardness, actually we hit it off first online. So this would have been about March 2005. And then through MySpace, we sort of grew into a group of young people who talked astrology on MySpace. That’s when teenage Patrick Watson still in high school joined our fold. I was in my 30s at this point, I would have been 36. You were 20, Watson was about 17 or something like that. And Bill Johnston, I was staying in Cumberland, Maryland with the Project Hindsight people at the time and Bill Johnston from Project Hindsight and I were due to go out to Seattle for the NORWAC conference that year in 2005 in May. And I mentioned to Bill– Bill had met you because he had gone and done some talk at Kepler, so he was sort of vaguely like you had had a conversation with him.
CB: And I had just started studying Hellenistic astrology just a few months earlier and was really taken to it. I was studying under Demetra.
ND: Right, right. So Bill and I were due to go out to NORWAC and I mentioned to Bill, “Hey, you know there’s this arrogant young schmuck… [laughs] No, there’s this really interesting young guy out there in Seattle who’s studying at Kepler. Let’s meet up with him while we’re out there.” So I remember very well, Bill and I arranged to meet you at the astrology bookstore, right? Astrology…
CB: Oh, Astrology Et Al.
ND: Astrology Et Al, right. Greg Nalbandian’s store. I remember Greg was there. And we met you and we went out for dinner and the three of us sort of hit it off really well. By the by the time that weekend was over, Bill had invited you to come stay with us in Cumberland.
CB: I don’t know if he invited me then but you guys… Yeah, I guess it was by the end of the conference because then we went to the Northwest Astrology Conference and then I remember hanging out with you guys all weekend. And then at the end of that, I was doing a delineation for somebody. I did actually Laura’s daughter’s birth chart and I was applying some of these Hellenistic techniques that I had been learning over the past several months to it and Bill was standing behind me and saw. And I think it was after that at some point that he said they were building a library at Project Hindsight and if I ever wanted to come help work on it, that I was invited.
ND: Right. So yeah, my part in this was really just sort of reconnecting you and Bill. Apart from the fact that you had met, just sort of drawing his attention to you. So this is the end of May, because NORWAC’s always at the end of May, and we arranged to meet you at the ISAR conference, which was going to be in Chicago at the end of August that year. So Bill and I drove up from Cumberland- Oh, no, no. I think I met up with you. I came from Montreal, I’d gone home for the summer or something like that, but then I met up with Bill and you in Chicago at the conference. And when that conference was over, the three of us drove to Cumberland from Chicago. And that was the beginning of that. And for the next two years, you and I would basically be neighbours and our friendship grew from there. We did a lot of studying together and going out for Chinese food and things like that. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. And a lot of study sessions and applying techniques and you’re building your databases and stuff by that point pretty extensively.
ND: Yep. And so that was that. And you and I in 2007, for our own reasons, we both were ultimately compelled to leave Cumberland and return to our homes, but the friendship continued from there. You came back here to Denver, I went to Montreal. But we kept seeing each other all the time at conferences and yeah, we maintained a pretty close balance throughout that time.
CB: Yeah. I was looking back celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the first episode of the podcast and you were on like episode three of the podcast as well as episode 10 or something like that. It was the Uranus USA episode and the release of your book and that’s something I know we’re going to talk about and return to today. But yeah, it’s been wild. You know, you were on a bunch of the early history of the podcast like pretty early on.
ND: Yeah, I seem to remember it was probably on more than twice in those early days.
CB: Oh, yeah. I mean, we’ve done like a Mars Retrograde episode, we did a Venus retrograde episode, we did a bunch of stuff.
ND: Yeah, back in the early days when it was just an audio podcast. Yeah. So, cue all that going right up to October of 2016 and we’re at that ISAR conference in LA and that’s the last time we were together in person. Mostly because at that point I had moved to Cape Town and was becoming engaged to my girlfriend, who I’ve since married. And really only for that reason, just because we’re living on opposite ends of the planet we haven’t been in the same room since then.
CB: Yeah. And the whole pandemic thing over the past two years and also lack of astrology conferences or anything else?
ND: Sure. Yeah.
CB: Yeah, that brings up a few things. One of them that’s really funny about the orgs thing, because I’ve noticed this recently as well, it’s really easy for people especially younger up-and-coming people to view organisations as these monolithic ivory tower structures from the outside, and to not realise from the inside just how poorly run they tend to be or how much everyone’s just struggling to kind of do their best but working on a volunteer basis. And it’s really hard to understand what’s going on inside an organisation from the outside, and how much some of these orgs are very much just scraping by at any one time. But it’s an interesting almost generational thing or something that’s good to experience; having the experience of being an outsider and calling critiques from the outside versus actually being involved in trying to organise something and doing what that takes is a much different experience but it’s a really important one I feel for everyone to have so that they have some understanding of what it’s like to attempt to put something into action versus just critiquing it from the outside.
ND: Yeah, I was never offended by your critique of AYA. I could only be offended if you were lying or misrepresenting the situation, but you were absolutely correct. We hadn’t done anything with it, we’d had this great idea and we’d made it and there was no follow through. That’s what I thought. And this pattern was already establishing itself that [coughs] that the AYA was this rolling ball that would get passed around. I mean, it had already slipped out of the hands of the people who conceived it. Not that it was taken from them, it just kept getting passed on. But yeah, it probably helped you to have the chance to get on the inside as opposed to just watching things from the outside. I mean, it’s very easy to criticise things from the outside. So once you were inside, at least you had a sense of what needed to be done, what could be done, what couldn’t be done.
CB: Yeah, and just the limitations of what you can actually do. And actually the the limitations of even the amount of power that anybody inside an organisation actually has to exercise control or influence of things actually ends up being much more limited than you end up realising from the outside before you’ve been in that sort of position.
ND: Yeah, it’s the classic conundrum of governing, I think; the more democratic the organisation, the slower things are and the more limited they can be to execute any any plans or tasks. And then, you know, the other side of that spectrum is to just have one dictator in charge of everything, who might get more done just because they’re ruling by by themselves, but then, you know, you have a whole other set of problems with that.
CB: Right. Yeah. Well, it’s just funny to see other generations. Because when I met you, I was the youngest astrologer forever at conferences for quite a while for years, and then now Patrick and I were talking about how there’s a whole generation under us that’s like 10 or 15 years younger since we’re in our mid 30s at this point. That was kind of your experience we were talking about yesterday with with me, actually.
ND: Yeah, sure. I mean, I’m 16 years older than you, I’m 19 years older than Patrick. It wasn’t a problem for us to become friends, we all became pretty close. But it is funny now to see you guys in your 30s like the age I was, so you can sort of fathom the shoes I was wearing at the time. Mind you when I first got involved in astrology in the 90s, even though I was in my mid to late 20s, I was always the youngest in any astrology class I took. It was a long time. The first time I met an astrologer from my age group was probably Sam Reynolds because he and I both worked for the same astrology phone service. I met Sam before you, but everyone else was younger. Even Moses is six years younger than me. Okay, Kelly was three years younger, which isn’t that much, but-
CB: Kelly Lee Phipps?
ND: Kelly Lee Phipps, the late great Kelly Lee Phipps. Yeah. But yeah, that took a long time. I mean, I was already nearing 10 years of astrology study by the time I was meeting all of them and meeting you.
CB: When did you start studying approximately?
ND: I read my first astrology book in January of 1995, so I was 26.
CB: Okay, so just pre-Saturn Return?
Yeah, yeah. It was a cold winter in Montreal and I was just hanging out at home reading a lot of books and not going up much, and my roommate had a friend who came over and she was just talking about astrology. There had been all these– I had friends of mine who had a sort of superficial interest in astrology and then this friend of my roommates came over to my house and she was talking about astrology. And I decided I wanted to read an astrology book. And really, the only reason I did was so that I would know enough to tell my friends why they were being idiots for believing in all this nonsense. This is actually a pretty common way for people to find their way into astrology. So yeah, I came in as a total, you know, even to call myself a sceptic would be mild. I just thought it was silliness. It wasn’t until I started reading about it that I really understood, you know, “Oh, you don’t just have a Sun sign, you have a Moon sign and a Mercury sign and all this stuff.” And as it happened, that first book I read had a little mini Ephemeris in the back of it. And that was really the thing. The book itself didn’t do too much for me, a lot of it had to do with past lives and things like that, concepts that still don’t have much appeal for me. But it was the ephemeris and really sort of grasping this calendar slash clock quality that astrology has, just this means of measuring time that was very appealing to me. Before I got into astrology, I was always someone who had a real strong sense of chronology and the calendar. And I was really into music so if I knew the career of particular musicians I loved, I always understood like, yes they made this record in 1964, or so and so died in 1967, or whatever would happen in their lives. I was very, very aware of chronology. So that was the appeal for astrology to me, it was just a way to do what I was already doing, but have this really amazing elaborate calendar system to follow. And within a few months of reading my first book– I remember it being not more than two or three months after reading that first book in January of 1995– I decided, “Okay, this is really something I’m going to spend my whole life studying,” and resolved to become a professional astrologer really, because well, that’s a way I can always stay involved in studying it. I didn’t become a professional astrologer to be a professional astrologer, I became a professional astrologer so that I could keep being an amateur astrologer, i.e someone who does it out of love. Which I think is important. It’s like music or art or whatever. Find it, go into the business, but you always want to first and foremost love it.
CB: Yeah. Well, and that’s something that’s unique about most astrologers is they get into doing it professionally most of the time out of their love for it and desire to do it as much as they can or do it all the time, and that’s often usually the driving force between starting to do consultations and everything else.
ND: Yeah, absolutely.
CB: Do you mind if I show your chart?
ND: No, I don’t mind. Here’s the chart for the audio listeners. So, you were born August 14th 1968 at 5:26 a.m in Montreal, Canada. Ascendant at 15 Leo, Sun at 21 Leo, Mercury at 28 of Leo, and Mars at five Leo. Then Moon is conjunct the midheaven at two Taurus, Moon is at two Taurus, Midheaven’s at three, Saturn at 25 Aries in the ninth whole sign house, Venus and Jupiter in Virgo at six and 10 degrees, and Pluto and Uranus at 21 and 27 Virgo in the same sign, and then Neptune at 23 Scorpio in the fourth whole sign house, and finally the North Node at 10 degrees of Aries in the ninth house.
CB: So Saturn was probably going through Pisces then when-
ND: Yeah, Saturn was in Pisces. There was a Venus-Jupiter conjunction similar to my natal one in Sagittarius. And there was a Mars Retrograde in Leo? Yeah. We were just coming out of the Venus Retrograde in Scorpio. Right, Venus was now in Sagittarius having been Retrograde in Scorpio just the previous autumn. So yeah, a recurrence of my Venus-Jupiter and a Mars Retrograde in my first house.
CB: What was the astrology scene like in the late ’90s? Because you ended up being in New York and studying astrology in New York in the late ’90s basically, right?
ND: Yeah. I studied astrology, I just read every book I could get my hands on between ’95 and ’97. There were some really good used bookstores in my neighborhood in those days and someone was selling off a pretty good collection of astrology books. So I was pretty lucky. I read a lot in those first few years. And very early on, like I said, I decided I wanted to be a professional astrologer probably by March or April of ’95. And my parents, I told my parents which took them by surprise. But as it happened, they had an old friend, Axel Harvey, who was an astrologer. So they immediately said, “Oh, well, you should talk to Axel.” Because actually as it happens, what I didn’t know until later was Axel was actually the one who had introduced them. [laughs]
CB: Your parents?
ND: My parents, yeah.
CB: So your parents were introduced by an astrologer?
ND: Yeah. Yeah, it’s a funny story. And this is my adopted dad, but Axel had also known my birth father as well. Axel and my adopted dad looked a lot like each other when they were younger. You can see films of them. They both had sort of red beards and those black Buddy Holly type glasses that people still wore in the ’60s. So they used to always be confused for each other, which is funny. And when you see pictures of them from that era you can understand why.
CB: And Axel, for those not- Because he passed away, I think over a decade ago now.
ND: No, six years ago.
CB: Was it that recently?
ND: Yeah, yeah. It was just before I moved to South Africa.
CB: Got it. But he was kind of one of the leading astrologers in Montreal or in Canada, right?
ND: Oh, yeah. He was quite renowned. A real special guy, a really important teacher for me. But what Axel did for me when I met him, he gave me this tattered old copy of a Neil Mickelson ephemeris, which is kind of like giving Jimi Hendrix his first guitar or something. And that was amazing. Because I was reading all these astrology books, but to actually hold this ephemeris… I mean, this thing I held on to it until it was dust. [laughs] You know me.
CB: Was is it like a hundred-year American ephemeris?
ND: Yeah, your classic 20th-century. It was a noon one, not a midnight one. I mean, later on I would have it come to prefer the midnight one. But this was a good starter. It was that hundred-year Neil Mickelson.
CB: You are a midnight guy instead of noon guy?
ND: Yeah, that’s the preference. It just sort of situates you in the calendar a little more securely. But it’s not a big deal.
CB: What’s your advice for those that want to know the difference and decide which one to go with?
ND: I mean, for it really to be important, if you live in England or Western Europe, then the midnight one is really the most appropriate for you because that really does coincide with the calendar you have locally.
CB: So for midnight Greenwich time?
ND: Yeah, exactly. But either way, it’s only important to a degree. Like when I say I like the midnight one more, it’s uh, you know, I could only have a noon ephemeris for the rest of my life and I’d be perfectly happy and productive. It’s not that important. But if you live, let’s say if you live in the central Eurasian plane, actually the noon ephemeris maybe a little more appropriate for you because then it becomes your kind of midnight ephemeris. So yeah, we don’t need to split hairs on that. But he gave me my first ephemeris. And it was one that I carried. It would come with me to New York and it would sit in my bag and you know, I’d read it every chance I got.
CB: You were memorising important dates and shifts, especially outer planet shifts of like when Uranus went into different signs or when Pluto changed signs or when you started focusing on like when Venus went retrograde, or Mars went retrograde, and things like that.
ND: Yeah, all this stuff that you pick up from an Ephemeris. Just having a real sense of… If I would think of a month in a year, you know, February of 1966, it’s got an astrological quality. The respective planets can only do so much over the course of one month, but their positions for that month really come to define it. So yeah, after two years [coughs] in 1997, the night of February 28th to March 1st of 1967, I got a lift to New York with some friends and decided to stay there for a while so I could study astrology. I felt I had gone as far as I could on my own and decided I needed more teachers. Axel was great, but I didn’t want to just be someone who learned astrology from one person. So I went to New York and started studying with the NCGR. Now this is free– not free internet, but internet in those days was America Online dial up, it wasn’t the resource that we have today. Google didn’t exist yet. If you wanted to look up Astrodatabank, you had to get Lois Rodden’s books, that kind of thing.
CB: Yeah. Kids these days literally can’t imagine what lack of resources available in terms of online stuff.
ND: Right. But New York was a real paradise for an astrology student like me because they had all these teachers. The teachers taught out of their homes usually or their offices, but I could study all these different facets of astrology; if I wanted to learn Uranian or mediaeval or Horary, you know? Whatever sort of little niche of astrology that I was interested in one given- You know how astrology students are. Part of the joy is sort of bouncing around from style to style until you really find your way. So I had all these amazing teachers, really great teachers, each of whom taught me a lot. So I spent three years in New York studying with all these different teachers and gradually coming into my own.
CB: I was realising recently that it’s kind of like art, where I was ticking up painting recently with oil pastels, but it’s interesting seeing all the different mediums in which you can practice art. And maybe like early on trying out a bunch of different ones and then eventually finding one that really speaks to you that you want to specialise in and go deep in. Astrology is very much like that, like having a wide exposure early on but then eventually picking something you really want to focus on.
ND: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s a lot like that. Yeah. I was reading a few biographies about Vincent van Gogh not long ago and his process was kind of like that. He didn’t just sort of emerge fully formed, he went through a lot of different phases and experimented with different styles and had, you know? Or Picasso later on had the same kind of deal before he really became the Picasso we think of. There was a lot of picking up hats, trying them on, seeing what they look like, putting them down and trying on something else.
CB: Yeah. As well as practice and dedication to continuing to refine one’s skills and push oneself to get better and better by doing it over and over again.
ND: Yeah, yeah. Really keeping the door of curiosity wide open and allowing yourself to receive whatever’s sort of coming your way, and to walk through whatever passageway is inviting you at a given time.
CB: But also getting that 10,000 hours of just, you know, if you do anything for like 10,000 hours you’re gonna get good at it just through process of repetition and trial and error and learning from your mistakes. Because sometimes people have this false conceptualization that everybody who is really good at something started good at it and one is just immediately gifted at that thing. And while sometimes that does happen to some extent, there’s certainly like inborn skill, but there are still people I think like Van Gogh that spend a lot of time refining their skills and learning and getting better and eventually achieving mastery through repetition and through practice.
ND: Yeah. Even a prodigy like Mozart still had to go through a whole growth process even though he had this innate talent. Part of what it means to be talented is to just have the drive to keep putting in those hours. It’s not just a matter of being born a prodigy, you know, because that’s going to be useless if it’s not followed through with work.
CB: Right. Or chess champions like Bobby Fischer or the Russian who I’m spacing who actually has a birth time of
CB: Kasparov, who was amazing. And also even more recently like Magnus Carlsen, but just people that clearly from a very young age do display skill and some talent or some sort of gift, but also work very hard to get to the top of the field at the same time.
ND: Yeah, exactly. Bobby Fischer was a child prodigy. But again, he spent all those hours playing chess, all those years playing chess. So just having the talent itself isn’t enough. In fact, part of having the talent is just the will to sit there and play a million games of chess.
CB: Yeah. So what is the equivalent to that for astrologers? It’s basically looking at charts, researching charts, researching biographies, but then also sitting down and doing consultations.
ND: Yeah. All that stuff. All that stuff. As far as research goes, for me it certainly meant reading a lot of history books and biographies. But also, I started out like a lot of people do just studying people I liked. I like rock and jazz music so I was studying the astrology of The Beatles, or the astrology of John Coltrane. Or I like cinema so I was studying the lives of certain directors or actors I liked or authors I liked. But then I started to think, well, maybe I don’t just want to study the people that I’m a fan of, maybe I want to study people I can’t stand or that I’m indifferent to. I also started branching out to studying political history. And there’s far more politicians that I don’t like than the ones I do, but that was sort of beside the point. My premise ultimately became, I wanted to know the astrology behind anything I knew about the world. Anything, any piece of knowledge I had about life and human history, I wanted to understand the astrology behind it. Which is a pretty big tent to sit in. But yeah, I kept expanding my horizons and tried very hard to break out of whatever comfort zone became too comfortable.
CB: Yeah, that’s becoming an interesting discussion today because I think all astrologers have that impulse of something happens in the news and wanting to look at the charts if you can look at the charts involved and try to understand it from the astrological vantage point, no matter whether it’s something really positive or whether it’s something very negative and stuff. But now there are starting to become interesting discussions in the community or attention sometimes about discussing tragedies and things like that, and how soon is too soon? Or is it appropriate to comment and things like that on social media when something tragic happens. It’s been interesting seeing some of that dialogue in the community recently.
ND: Yeah, which I’m really happy to see because it has bothered me sometimes. Certainly, all the tragedies of human life can and should be studied by astrologers. But I like to wait for the bodies to get cold, so to speak, you know? I think things like mass murders, political assassinations anything like that, any kind of tragic event is worth studying. But maybe give it a little bit of time, you have all the time in the world to study these things.
CB: Right. Because I think you’ve said you don’t like the sort of ambulance-chaser type energy that sometimes comes with that.
ND: Yeah. I don’t want to sound too cynical or like I think I know what people are thinking, but it does give the impression that people want to write about sort of fresh news because it will get more clicks, you know? Which is understandable, we’re all sort of competing for a certain amount of attention. But I think it’s… Shake your ethical ground when you do that.
CB: Yeah. It’s tricky, though, because also sometimes I think about the people that are there and documenting things as they’re happening in the moment, there’s something about the energy surrounding the moment of something when it’s at its freshest as let’s just say current news story For example, the Will Smith slapping Chris Rock a few months ago. In order to truly understand the social importance of that, you had to like witness it as it happened and understood the perception of Will Smith up until that moment, versus just instantaneously this shift that occurred when that happened, and the shock that millions of people had with that moment and in order to understand and contextualise the transits to his chart and different things like that. There’s something- I’m using that as an example because it’s more of it’s not like a tragedy, per se.
ND: No, it’s a big sort of event that people talk about.
ND: Right. But I mean, historians always put themselves in this position where they have to sort of recreate the mood of the moment, you know? If you’re talking about the Second World War, you have to go back and think of the way the world appeared to people living at that time. But the other thing, the Will Smith incident was a few months ago now, but eventually there are going to be books and interviews and things like where Will Smith is going to talk about what was going on in his head that day, or Jada Pinkett Smith will have something to say and Chris Rock will have something to say about it. We’ll hear more, we’ll get a little more insight that will probably recontextualize the event in ways that were not obvious to us who were just watching in the moment. And that has a lot of value particularly to an astrologer.
The same thing goes for mass shootings and what have you. Eventually, we get to know more about the psychology of the perpetrator, or the circumstances of what brought the victims to that moment and place and time you know? All these things that you only find out after the fact, but are actually really valuable to the astrologer studying the event, as opposed to just trying to be like the astrological CNN to just cover the breaking news at the moment. That’s actually- You know how CNN has recently, they’ve resolved to minimise when they call an event Breaking News. I mean, they did just now; today, the former Prime Minister of Japan has been assassinated and that was legit breaking news. But that’s kind of the thing, you get the feeling that these astrologers who want to write about a really fresh tragedy, they’re doing the same thing that CNN is always doing with the Breaking News kind of headline. Get that sort of fresh, get those clicks, satisfy the advertisers, so to speak. Which isn’t always the best motivation.
CB: It’s funny, because on the podcast we talk about recent events sometimes in the forecast episodes that have happened in the month since the last forecast. But sometimes if we don’t talk about certain things, people get mad at us. So there’s been now an interesting tension between those two competing polls in the astrological community of on the one hand, the people that are like, “Don’t talk about certain things too soon because if you do so, that’s sort of disrespectful or like ambulance-chasing,” but then there’s the other side that is like, “You need to address this. This is a really important event and and there should be some sort of discussion of it. Otherwise, you’re sweeping something important under the rug.” It feels like this to other people. It’s a little tricky.
ND: I’m of two minds. First of all, let me be clear that I’m expressing a view that I think should be up for consideration. I would never dream of policing the astrological dialogue in the world. I mean, to some degree we sort of have to let the quote-unquote “bad out with the good,” you know? If people want to proceed as they are, so be it. Even if we’re looking askance at it. But the other thing is that quote-unquote “ambulance chasing” has been normalised. When you get that kind of feedback from people like, “Hey, you should be talking about this,” it’s because we’ve normalised the process of doing this Breaking News kind of approach to astrology to the point where people really think like, “Hey, you’re supposed to be just talking about the headlines and not things that happened five or 10 years ago.”
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s tricky. Steppings up biography, and you were mentioning biography is one of your main focuses, basically, even before you got into astrology was studying and reading the biographies and autobiographies of famous people. That’s one of your primary interests in terms of weaving that together with astrology.
ND: Yeah, and part of how astrology spoke to me was because of that sort of interest I already had. It wasn’t just a matter of… I mean, I did have the the experience that we all do have of seeing like, “Oh, okay. I see how I’m not just the Leo Sun, but I have a Taurus-Moon and that explains certain things about me that the Leo Sun doesn’t,” you know? Understanding my chart and going through that process of sort of self-discovery which was really important to me in my 20s. But that only went so far. Because I knew the the chronologies of so many different lives that I had read about, I could understand the transits that followed people through their experiences. You know, the the authors and filmmakers and musicians that I was interested in, I could understand, “Oh, yes, they released this album that was critically panned and they were depressed and they had that Saturn transit. Oh, that makes sense.” Or they got a divorce, or this was the moment when they became world famous and everything was going well for them or whatever happened to be the thing. That is part of how astrology revealed itself to me and how I made the road to Damascian– I forget what they call it– sort of turnaround going from being very hostile to astrology to suddenly being a full on convert.
CB: Right. You saw the light like Constantine if that’s what you’re talking about, except it was a birth chart glowing in the sky.
CB: That brings up one of the points you’re just talking about. It was how one of the issues with using the charts of people like celebrities and current events is that their lives aren’t over yet and their stories are still being written. That’s been a really interesting thing for me over the past decade with different celebrities. I used as chart examples, either in my book or in my courses and some of the lectures that I recorded let’s say 10 years ago or recorded around 2014 2015 from a Hellenistic course, and some of them have continued to have interesting lives or a continuation of some of the stories and events in their lives that I talked about earlier. How that’s played out has been interesting in different ways. Like Britney Spears, for example, and I talked about her conservatorship which was already four or five years into it like in the early to mid 20 teens, and then seeing that sort of wrapped up or at least her being released from that finally just in the past year basically or in the past few months.
ND: And she just got married again, didn’t she?
CB: Oh, yeah. You’re right. Right. There was something actually interesting about that. Oh, yeah. Jupiter just ingressed into her seventh house, which I thought was really interesting sort of manifestation. She’s Libra Rising and Jupiter went into Aries and she got married. So it’s like her or you know, George Lucas, of course, and selling the Star Wars franchise and then having the new trilogy come out and his lack of involvement in that. Or various other celebrities.
ND: Yeah. No, absolutely. I’ve also studied Britney and George Lucas. And then there are other people like Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney who are still going strong. Their lives are still very interesting and very public even though I’ve been studying their charts now for nearly 30 years, a quarter century anyway. So yeah, that’s interesting. They remain works in progress until the person finally leaves us. But over time, even though I enjoy studying these living figures, partly because they’re interesting people to me, I do find I get a lot more value investing my time studying people who are no longer alive because then you really do you have something a bit more complete.
CB: Yeah, because otherwise there might be something that hasn’t happened yet that their chart shows and is very clear in the chart like a signature, but it hasn’t happened yet and therefore may not make sense in terms of what you currently know about their biography.
ND: Yeah, for learning purposes. It’s an investment in time. The further I go, the more I have to think about it in terms of how much time am I going to spend studying this person or that person? And ultimately, I found that for it really to be worth my while in a sort of neutral sense, not because– you know, I’m a bigger fan of, say, Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan than I am of many other people, but I’ve gotten a lot more out of studying, say, Richard Nixon who I happen to admire a lot less than the people I’m mentioning. But he’s a really excellent subject to study. And it doesn’t matter, I don’t need to be a Republican in order to appreciate that fact. And yeah, the people who A) Live long lives. I mean, I remember you and I were talking not long ago about Kurt Cobain, which is all well and good. I’m a huge fan. But all these guys, Jimi Hendrix and people who only lived to 27, I’ve studied them all. Huge fan of them. But frankly, for just the purpose of studying astrology, I find I don’t get as much studying the life of someone that only went to 27 as I do the lots of people who lived to be 60 years old. It’s just you get that much more of a chance to watch all the planets spin around over the course of their lives. There’s just more ups and downs and yeah, you get more for your time investment.
CB: Yeah, I was thinking about it. Everytime Jimi Hendrix is mentioned I think about the fact that Joe Biden was born within a week of him and with the same rising sign, with Sagittarius rising, so they have the same houses and some similar placements, except Biden’s Scorpio stellium has shifted a bit into Sagittarius and Hendrix’s chart. But that’s a really good example then of somebody whose life was cut off at 27 versus somebody who later is in his 70s at this point, and eventually towards the end of his life became president.
ND: Yeah, yeah. But then I haven’t done that much work on Biden’s life, but everything I do know about him really sort of starts with the death of his first wife and child in the early days of his political career.
CB: In his Saturn return.
ND: Yeah, by which point Jimi Hendrix is dead. By which point Jimi Hendrix has literally done everything he will ever do. Maybe it’s out there, I don’t know, but what was Joe Biden doing in his 20s? I guess that knowledge is probably out there, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. But it’s probably not covered in the same kind of detail that Jimi Hendrix’s years in the 60s were. Certainly between when he lands in London in September of 1966 and when he dies in London exactly four years later, I mean, everything that Jimi Hendrix is known for pretty much was done in this very short four-year period. But that four-year period is covered virtually day by day, we know what he was doing and how he was growing and what was happening to him and all this stuff.
CB: That’s an interesting concept in and of itself of like, maybe potentials that people have or what they could have been, but their lives get cut off early and so you don’t get to see the full manifestation or maturation of some of those chart placements that maybe would have happened otherwise.
ND: Yeah. Exactly. It’s hard enough. Someone like Jimmy, it just breaks my heart all the time. I always think just as a music fan like, “Wow, what would he have done if he could have been with us right up to now? Maybe he’d be president by now.” [laughs] Couldn’t do any worse. But yeah, he’d be great. That always hits you. But indeed, since none of that potential was realised, it’s all speculation anyway.
CB: Right. Yeah. That brings up, you know, at Hindsight there’s was– it wasn’t a debate but there was a tendency of Schmidt had this idea that everybody should adopt one biography and really just master that one biography and apply all your techniques to it and learn that biography as well as you can, so that then you have a primary reference as your primary case study with which to apply different techniques or what have you. But it seems like you’re more on the side of having many different biographies to study is more valuable to you than just a single one?
ND: Yeah. Actually, we should get to Schmidt. And this is a perfect segue. There I was in New York City starting with the NCGR between 1997 and 2000. But in the summer of 1999,
CB: You started specifically under Michael Lutin at one point, right?
ND: Yeah, I studied a class with Michael Lutin in January of ’99. Okay. And that carried right through until the spring of 2000, as I recall.
CB: Because you should tell a little bit more about just what the scene was like to set the stage before we go into your exposure to Project Hindsight and stuff. Like, what was… So it’s like libraries, a lot of great libraries there, the NCGR was probably the main organisation and certainly the main game in town in terms of New York, right?
CB: The National Council for Geocosmic Research.
ND: That’s right. They had their certification exams, I was doing those. I did my level one in ’97, my level two in ’98 and my level three in ’99.
CB: And that was considered like a good course back then?
ND: Oh, it was an excellent course. Yeah. And I learned a lot doing the exams. For instance, learned how to cast a chart by hand for the exams. Already astro.com existed, so you could go online and cast a chart, but it was really worthwhile learning the process of how to calculate a chart by hand.
CB: You used like a sundial and you went outside and everything. It’s for the kids, explain.
ND: [laughs] No, we were using a scientific calculator.
CB: Is that like a cell phone? Mobile phone or something?
ND: It looks like one. Yes. [laughs]
CB: Why didn’t you just use your iPhone or something?
ND: Yeah. First time I ever saw a cell phone– apart from those giant ones you see in Michael Douglas in Wall Street holding– would be around ’99-2000, the little Nokia flip phones. Or Blackberries, I guess, were actually big also.
CB: A little later on. Yeah, I guess you had like a pager or something like that. I do remember seeing some history channel documentaries or other documentaries you can find sometimes on YouTube from the ’90s and you see these hilarious Rob Hand with this old dot matrix printer. And it’s just like printing out a chart, but it’s taking hours and hours just to print one chart.
ND: [laughs] That’s a little before my time, a little earlier. But that still kind of existed, certainly. But we were a little ahead of the game at that point. But yeah, Michael Lutin’s class was really nice. I mean, Michael Luton taught me how to be a consulting astrologer. I learned a lot of astrology from him but more than anything, I learned how to be an astrologer, how to be a professional astrologer. You know, my ethics trainings and things like that. Things that really came in handy in terms of not just being good at reading charts, but how to be useful, how to actually help people and not harm them.
CB: Right. Because he had a major incident with that, where doing astrology, he did a consultation for somebody and then some bad thing happened later to that person. And Michael really, that hit him in a really striking way and he decided he wanted to learn psychology and counselling in order to be better in terms of doing consultations. Or is that part of his mythos?
ND: Yeah, there is a lot of responsibility. There’s a lot of power, ironically, whether you’re good at it or not, you know, just the power of suggestion. It can be very easy to harm someone in some way without understanding it if you don’t have the kind of training you need; a certain approach to the job, and an end goal. You’re there to help someone and if you’re not helping them, there’s no point in doing it.
CB: Right. That’s really important because sometimes some astrologers might get in the wrong headspace of that their goal is just to show off or demonstrate their predictive abilities or something like that, and that’s not necessarily where the focus should be.
ND: No, yeah. That’s the last thing. I mean, if you want to dazzle your astrologer friends then there are other ways to go about it. But working with live subjects who are in the midst of their lives and trying to sort their their things out, you’re there to help them and not to be impressive. And it doesn’t necessarily- I mean, in a consultation you may or may not be called upon to sort of forecast something. But that’s not the end game, you’re not there to just sort of read someone’s future or tell them what you think their future is going to be. If anything, you’re more of a navigator, you’re not driving the train.
CB: Something I was thinking of recently that’s so radically different now compared to back then in terms of understanding what the astrological community was and what the sort of curriculum was, is everybody had the same five or 10 books in their library back in the late ’90s and early 2000s. There were certain books like Planets in Transit, for example. Everybody had Planets in Transit, everybody had a copy of the Ephemeris, everybody probably had at least one Liz Greene book. There were certain standards in terms of late 20th-century astrology, that everyone was more or less on the same page and led to a lot of, or at least somewhat more consistency and coherency in terms of where most astrologers were at at that point, and what their practice or what the technical approach to astrology looked like for the most part more people being on the same page are almost being more monocultural almost compared to now, where there’s so many more resources and so many more ways to learn astrology that things are a lot more diverse and a lot more all over the place in some ways.
ND: Yeah. It was starting to fragment right as I was getting into it, but just starting. You’re right, I don’t think I’d ever met an astrologer who hadn’t read Planets in Transit, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil by Liz Greene was definitely a big one.
CB: Were the others like Oken’s Complete Astrology.
ND: Sure, Oken’s Complete Astrology. Noel Tyl’s books were a pretty big deal. There was another one on the tip of my tongue just now. Oh, of course Parker’s astrology Derek and Julia Parker. I’ll never forget the day I saw them in England already sort of old and what have you, but it was really like seeing rock stars or something like that. [laughs] The only time I’ve ever really met astrologers and been sort of dazzled like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe it’s them! I can’t believe I’m standing right next to them.”
CB: Right. What’s crazy to me is that people like Dane Rudhyar lived into the ’80s and was still giving lectures at that point.
ND: Yeah. But I never knew him. He was gone by the time I- But he’s another one, certainly. Particularly in my days in Montreal, you know, when I was buying all those used astrology books, a good number of them were Dane Rudhyar books. Of course he’d actually lived in Montreal at one point so that made him a bit of a local hero in a sense.
CB: Yeah. So that was another one that everybody read, was at least some Dane Rudhyar books?
ND: Absolutely. Yeah.
CB: What about one of my first books was The Astrologer’s Handbook by Sakoian and Acker. Do you think that was up there with standard astrology books?
ND: Yeah, it’s in that group of books we’re talking about. Maybe not quite the Rob Hand’s Green level but it was a pretty common book. I certainly saw it around a lot, had a copy. Michael Lutin’s library– well, he has his office on 5th Avenue in New York housed the Joanna Shannon library, the local NCGR library. And that was amazing to have at that stage in my study. I could borrow books and take them home and read them. Yeah, just an amazing collection.
CB: Yeah, because most people don’t have that and don’t have access to a very good astrological library pretty much at any time. Because most libraries, even if you have a local library, is not going to have normally like a super amazing collection of astrology books. But having an actual dedicated astrology library from an organisation would be a great resource.
ND: Yeah. I’ve been blessed. Number one, I’ve sort of inherited Axel Harvey’s library, which is sitting in the boxes in a storage space in Montreal right now, but at some point I want to make it available to Canadian astrologers or anyone coming to visit. Then back home in South Africa, we are housing the local Cape Astrology Association’s Library, which is also a quite impressive collection. Because these books are, I happen to be connected to these two libraries, it’s something that I really want to be able to share with astrology students as time goes. I just got to get to the point where I can do that.
CB: Yeah, so that’s the state of things, you’re studying with Michael Lutin. Then what was the transition point to studying traditional astrology?
ND: So yeah, in June of ’99, there was an NCGR Conference at Hunter College, they always have their local conference, and I gave my very first astrology talk at that conference. I’d only been studying for four and a half years. They invited me to speak but I thought, I was like, “I’m not ready for this.” But I did it anyway. Funny enough, I did a talk on Venus, although as far as I’m concerned today, I knew SFA about Venus in June of ’99. I was only vaguely aware of the eight-year synodic cycle and all that. It’s very funny to me that it just happened to be… The reason it was a theme for the conference was because there was a Venus retrograde coming up, which would eventually become very meaningful to me, and partly because of the way the summer played out.
So that as I recall was June 6, ’99. I remember it being like 6/6/’99. Then a week or two later, there was a conference in Williamsburg, Virginia for astrocartography, which I was very interested in. Eileen [inaudible] she organized this conference. So I drove down to Williamsburg with two fellow New York astrologers, one who I knew, one woman who was in my astrology class and then another woman who was a student of Eileen from another class, but she said, “Hey, would you give this woman a ride?” This is a woman named Darcy Woodall. And so, the three of us drove down to Williamsburg.
At Williamsburg, it was, I’ll never forget, it was the Saturday night at the bar, the hotel where the conference was and it was full of astrologers at all these different tables, having these different conversations. I looked over at this corner table and there was this really animated guy with this white, twisty moustache speaking very enthusiastically and forcefully about Hellenistic astrology and he was explaining it to this woman. He just seemed really interesting to me. This was Alan White, someone who along with Axel Harvey and Michael Lutin is very important teacher for me.
So I met Alan, and he was there promoting, and this is where we’re connecting the story to Robert Schmidt and his view on biography. The reason Alan was at this conference, because Alan wasn’t particularly interested in astrocartography, but he was there to promote the Project Hindsight Einstein conclave, which was going to begin the following weekend. So what appealed to me, I mean Hellenistic astrology sounded interesting enough, but what really appealed to me was this idea that they were going to actually read the entire life of a human being using a system. Actually, very naively, I thought this was something that astrologers always did. I thought this would have just naturally been the approach, but not really.
As it turned out, most astrologers, yeah, they might read a famous person’s chart, but they would just look at the natal chart and talk about why the Saturn in the 10th house represented this thing that they did or whatever just reading the natal chart and custom fitting it to the notoriety of the person involved.
CB: Yeah, it would just be about like mentioning a few select placements and a few select things that are known about that celebrity that are well-known things, but then just leaving it at that, which is a bit more limited.
ND: Yeah, yeah, so I was very excited by the sound of this. Now, as it happened, Darcy Woodall, the woman who had driven down with us to Williamsburg, had been to earlier Hindsight conclaves and she had a cassette of Robert Schmidt, which we listened to in the car during the drive back. It was one of his outlines of Hellenistic astrology, necessarily earlier recordings. She was telling me about the house in Cumberland and the community and all this stuff that they had done. I was only just tangentially aware of that because by this point, I had seen both Robert Hand and Robert Zoller give talks in New York. In fact, when I saw Hand in ’98, it was his talk in ’98 that I saw that convinced me to switch to whole sign houses. So I was already a whole sign house convert before I found Schmidt in Hellenistic astrology.
CB: Which is super early days because whole sign houses didn’t… When I came into the community like 2004-2005 or discovered Hellenistic astrology, I was shocked that whole sign houses had not penetrated the community hardly at all at that point. It took another five to 10 years for it to really start to take up market share in the community to what it is today where it’s probably at least the second most popular house system. But you in 1980-1989 it would have been even lower numbers.
ND: Exactly, yeah. But Hand made a really convincing argument for it when I saw him speak in ’98 and I saw Zoller give a good talk at Michael Lutin’s office around ’99. So I was already somewhat aware of this, but now Darcy was giving me this whole history about Project Hindsight and this whole mystique around it. So sure enough, the following weekend, Darcy and I met up at Penn Station and got on a train and made our way to Cumberland, Maryland and there we were. I attended three of the four Einstein conclaves, I think I missed the third one.
CB: The Einstein intensives, isn’t it what they’re called?
ND: The Einstein intensives, and the idea was to read Albert Einstein’s entire life from birth to death using the Hellenistic system. It was a really amazing learning experience and also just a bonding experience because of what I felt getting to know Alan, getting to know Robert, and other people in the group because there were some amazing people who attended these things. It really felt like I’d reached some new level of study, of investigation, something was really stimulating my curiosity. NCGR had done very well by me. But once again, after Michael Lutin’s class, I felt like, “Okay, I’ve exhausted, I’ve gone to virtually every teacher available in New York.” I mean, it was amazing to have 15-20 different teachers available to me, but now I’ve gone through them and I need something else. So this was the next step and I became very serious about learning Hellenistic astrology and staying involved with Project Hindsight, which I did.
CB: And that intensive was given, supposedly or theoretically I guess because I wasn’t around, but it was supposed to be one of the points early on where Schmidt got his first version together of where he… It’s one of the first times he thought that he had fully reconstructed the system and like this is what Hellenistic astrology was and that he thought he had a system down for how it was supposed to be applied. Demonstrating that I guess is partially part of what the Einstein intensives were supposed to be about.
ND: Yeah. There’s something I got to say that really impressed me about Schmidt was here was someone who wasn’t an astrologer. He was well versed in astrology. He obviously knew all the different techniques and the history and the jargon, but he had never given anyone a reading in their life. He didn’t necessarily believe in astrology. And this was the thing, the Einstein intensives, I was actually watching him become convinced himself of astrology because the intensives were going so well.
CB: Right, because the techniques were working in describing Einstein’s life.
ND: Right. Because for him, this had been an intellectual exercise. He was a lot more serious about translating Greek texts than he was about astrology in itself, in its own right.
CB: Yeah, that’s such a hard thing to describe about Schmidt and about Schmidt’s biography is the almost reluctant astrologer that he became but just that for so long he wasn’t an astrologer and that wasn’t how he conceptualized himself.
ND: And that period in ’99 is really where it changed, where it started. So that was happening before my eyes, which was really intriguing.
CB: And that’s ’99? Which is wild actually if you think about it in terms of his biography because he’d already done the majority of the Project Hindsight translations that he would ever do were completed in the four years up to that point between like 1993 and 1998 basically when Hindsight produced something like a couple of dozen translations, 20 or 30 translations, and then tapered off. He did a few more after that spaced out over the years, but most of the translation work and the preliminary translations was done in the mid-90s.
ND: Yeah. But again, I mean for him, this was an intellectual exercise. He was very serious about translating from Greek to English just doing a good job at that, but trying to get the astrology right, really trying. I mean that was the thing. Lots of people had translated these texts or some of them anyway. But to translate them, he wanted to properly represent the astrology, the intention of the author.
CB: Right. Well, he wanted to reconstruct the original philosophy because he thought there was a hidden philosophy in Hellenistic astrology and a philosophical school that had never been properly recognized and that the philosophical concepts were embedded in the astrological terminology. So anyways, you started to apply that you’re really impressed by the Einstein intensives, started getting into Hellenistic astrology and then also started getting into… One of the things that they rediscovered was the use of planetary periods and synodic cycles like the eight-year period of Venus or the 15-year period of Mars. That’s something that you ended up latching onto as an interesting piece of astrology to specialize in.
ND: Yeah. I mean what I brought to the… By the time I got to Project Hindsight, I had already got my first copy of Solar Fire Version Four, if you can imagine, in the spring of ’99, so a few months earlier. So I was just starting to build my database and I was starting off again with the people I was interested in, the Beatles, John Coltrane, different jazz and rock musicians and filmmakers and stuff, just a little bit of politics that would take over more later.
When I meet Schmidt, okay, he’s doing the life of Einstein, great. I’m already doing my own version of what he’s doing, except not with Hellenistic astrology, but I’m already trying to recreate an entire lapse astrologically. But indeed, it was with Schmidt that I learned about the planetary periods. I was vaguely aware that the synodic cycle of Venus was eight years, but he really outlined it for me, he really explained synodic cycles to me. For his part, he was just trying to explain why planetary periods what the rationale was behind them. But for me, it was just something that took on a life of its own.
CB: Right, because most of the timelord systems are based on planetary periods one way or another or a lot of them are.
ND: Yeah. So, in 2000, I left New York and I moved to Europe. At first, I lived in the Netherlands. Basically, I’d had a girlfriend in New York and she was Dutch and she was going back to the Netherlands and I followed her back because I felt I was really done with New York. I had exhausted what I could do there. So I lived in the Netherlands and my plan then, this is now the summer and autumn of 2000, there was a new website out called stariq.com being run by these two guys out in Seattle, Jeff Jawer and Rick Levine. They had celebrity astrology stuff, but it was smart stuff. It was pop culture, but next level for pop culture astrology. And I was like, “This is perfect. This is my niche. This is exactly what I want to do is write about movie stars and musicians and write about their charts and their art and that kind of thing.”
So here I was, I was about to move to Europe where I don’t have a work visa or anything so I’m like, “Great, I can have this job. I’m a Canadian living in Europe. I can write for an American company and they can send checks to my Canadian bank account and I can actually try to survive.” It was a pretty solid plan. I wrote some good articles. My first one was about Salma Hayek playing Frida Kahlo before the movie came out just like her plan to do it and why it was important for her to do it. Both Salma Hayek and Frida Kahlo had Saturn in Pisces, so I was writing about the fact that there was this link between the two of them.
From there, I was writing about Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christina Ricci, Ridley Scott, different people who interested me who were in the news at the time. That was really fun. That lasted up until the spring of 2001 when the famous dot-com bubble burst. This changed everything because suddenly StarIQ couldn’t afford to pay me any more to write articles. This changed a lot for Rick and Jeff and what they went on to do from there.
CB: Right, because they talk about StarIQ as this thing that almost took off and almost became this huge website, but then the dot-com bubble burst and the bottom just dropped out of it.
ND: Exactly, exactly. I would have been one of … I was writing maybe two, three articles a month, maybe one or two articles a month, I forgot between October of 2000 and March-April of 2001 so I wrote like nine or 10 articles at that time. I would have kept going and I was good at it. Anytime these days that I start to doubt my writing skills, I go back and read that stuff and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I know how to write. I’m okay. I just got to get myself in that headspace again.” The dot-com bubble losing StarIQ was a blow to me because suddenly I’m living in Europe and I don’t have an income stream. It was a bit of a struggle for a couple of months.
Then in September of 2001, I heard the AA, the Astrology Association of Great Britain was having a conference in Cirencester. So in early September 2001, I took a ferry over to England. No, I flew. I’m sorry. I flew that time. I flew to London and then took a bus to Cirencester and attended this conference. While I was at the conference, there was a table there, an information table for this company called Astro-Livelink. It was an astrology phone service. These are the days of the famous psychic hotlines. There were a lot of them in New York, Miss Cleo, that kind of thing. But Astro-Livelink was such a phone service where people could call up and be charged by the minute to get advice, but it was expressly just for astrology done by astrologers. So I felt like-
CB: It was such a late ’90s like early 2000s thing like a call in, like a psychic service.
ND: Yeah. So I thought, “Okay, perfect.” I never wanted to work for a Miss Cleo type thing because I had pretensions to having integrity. I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror, so to speak, which is important to Eileen. But this was something like, “Oh yeah, I can do this because I’m not misrepresenting who I am and what I do.” So sure enough, I applied for Astro-Livelink and they gave me a test read. I had to read for the guy who was the manager of the company. I apparently did a good enough job that they hired me.
Now, the funny thing is this was, I can tell you the date for this because this would have been September 7th, 8th and 9th of 2001. This was the weekend before 9/11. In fact, I’ll never forget, one of the people I met at the conference in Cirencester was Greg Bogart, an American astrologer who I think lives in California. I met him and we had a nice little chat. And when 9/11 happened, I remember I knew like, “Oh, he’s someone I know who’s supposed to be flying back to California today.” I remember sending him an email like, “Greg, are you okay?” kind of thing in all that craziness of 9/11, which I saw happen from our little TV in the Netherlands. I was back in the Netherlands after the conference was over.
So there it was. Okay. So 9/11 is happening and the world is changing in all those ways, but now I have a new job, which is reading for this phone service. This was a job I would keep for quite a while. I was with them for a good seven, eight years.
CB: Yeah, one of the things that’s cool about that and also contrast with the past two years of you is like with Astro-Livelink, people would call you up and right away you’d ask for their birth data and you had to perfect the no-prep consultation, which is a very tricky thing and scary thing to do.
ND: Yeah, yeah. I mean thankfully, this helped me develop a skillset that I was already working on, but it really helped me perfect it, which was getting to know the ephemeris so well that you had it in your head that you put up a chart and you already had an idea of how a person’s secondary progressions were going to go, you had an idea of how the transits were affecting their chart. The preparation that an astrologer typically does, you would have to be able to do it within a few seconds. Whereas like really reasonably for any functional adult human being, it’s not unheard of to take half an hour to an hour or several hours.
CB: So like memorizing that Saturn was in Pisces in X number of years in the ’90s and therefore that it would have been transiting this sector of their chart and being able to remember and pull that up in your mind instead of having to type up the chart or look it up in a book or something like that.
ND: Yeah, yeah. I mean I had a computer. As soon as I picked up the phone, I would get the person’s birth data, I’d enter it in and I’d look at the chart. This was a phone service. I believe that people were paying like £3 British a minute and I got I think half of that. But that’s a lot of money for minute by minute.
CB: Right. What’s the average length of a consultation like that?
ND: There was a law in Britain, which I actually fully agreed with, that after 20 minutes, the call was automatically ended. The person did have the option to call you back. But the idea was that you couldn’t just exploit them and drag it out and keep them paying, which I was grateful to have those parameters, those boundaries.
CB: That’s wild constraints though of like literally no prep, get their birth data at the beginning, enter it in, go and then you have 20 minutes to do a reading.
ND: Yeah, yeah. It’s like a lot of things. Of course, like I said, I’m a musician and a big music fan so I thought of it being like a jazz musician, not that I’ve ever been the caliber of a jazz musician but I know jazz well enough that the whole idea of being a jazz musician is being able to play anything at any time in the moment without any prep. Back in the ’90s, I used to be a busboy at a jazz club in Montreal and I would literally see a piano player come in for the first time, meet the drummer and bassist on the bandstand, they shake hands, tell them each other’s name and then one of them suggests a song and they tap the tempo and boom, they sound like they’ve been rehearsing for months together, even though these guys have only just met. So that was a jumping point for me like, “Okay, well, I can be like an astrological jazz musician, so to speak, just develop my skill to such a point where I can do things in the moment.”
Yeah, that worked as well as it possibly could. It’s not ideal. I mean it’s funny to me in today’s world, the post-COVID world, people are used to working online. It’s become the new norm. But this was something that started for me literally at the turn of the century. All that time, I was working online. Up until I moved to South Africa, I don’t think I’d given more than 10 astrology readings in person ever. All my work was done online.
CB: Yeah, and it’s a lot different reading for somebody who’s sitting in front of you versus doing it over the phone or over the computer.
ND: Yes, yeah. Today, with Zoom, it’s a little better because there are video calls. It’s different with a phone call because a disembodied voice is not the same thing as looking someone in the eye, but even a Zoom call isn’t anywhere near as personal as being in the room with someone indeed. So yeah, I’ve worked for Astro-Livelink for quite a while, but really until my… I had a bad health problem that surfaced around 2007 when you and I were both in Cumberland. That was why I had to go back to Montreal. The next few years would be a real struggle for me because I had health problems and it was hard for me to… My skills were diminished at that time because I was struggling with sleep apnea, which ironically again these days lots of people know what it’s like to have a respiratory condition that affects their sleep and a lot of people walking around with brain fog problems. These were my problems back in 2007 to 2014.
CB: Yeah, and you said you’d actually seen that coming up in your chart years earlier.
ND: Yeah, right from the get-go. I mean I learned about secondary progressions pretty early on in ’95.
CB: It’s like one of the primary timing techniques in modern astrology.
ND: Sure, exactly. I learned about them quite early on, the technique that I was always using. I saw on my secondary progress chart that in September 2007, I would have a progressed solar eclipse conjunct Uranus at 29 Virgo. Like a lot of astrology students, I made myself a little crazy with anxiety wondering how that was going to play out and sure enough, it was even worse than I could have imagined.
CB: Yeah. So you saw something coming up and you didn’t feel like it looked good and you wondered for the greater part of the decade what that would be?
ND: Yeah, that was good 12 years between reading my first astrology book of when this happened. And it really did. I mean we’ve just seen everyone on planet Earth go crazy for being locked up for two years. Well, this was like being under lockdown for seven years in many ways. I mean I did get out from time to time. I made it to a few conferences like New Orleans in 2012. I remember you and I in Texas in 2010. There were a few others. But that was hard. It was hard just to get there and it was hard to be sharp enough to give talks. I was just struggling and doing my best, but it was not ideal.
CB: Yeah, I mean that brings up a question about eclipses or how do you conceptualize eclipses. It’s been a discussion point in debate recently about sometimes eclipses can be really negative and it can foreshadow a really negative event in a person’s life. Other times, it can foreshadow a major change that ends up being a positive event. But it seems like the one characteristic thing that ties them in common is just that they signify major changes happening in a person’s life.
ND: Yeah. Look, some other thing, I mean it was at that same time at the end of August of 2007, just as that progressive eclipse was hitting, my health was coming apart, but I managed to write this pretty good article for the ISAR Journal about Venus retrograde and the history of racial unrest in the US, a pretty major piece.
CB: What was the title again?
ND: Cycles of Injustice.
CB: Like Venus retrograde Cycles of Injustice?
ND: Venus retrograde Cycles of Injustice. That article I remember writing it thinking like, “Wow, if I don’t survive this health problem, at least I’ve done something.” That did ironically cement my reputation in the community, at least for the time being while I was struggling with my health problems so that at least I had something under my belt, some kind of rep in the community even though my life was hell. In the big picture, six, seven years have gone by now, actually eight years have gone by since I really overcame that health problem, but it was seven years of living with it. When you go through seven years of that kind of struggle, it really feels… I mean I didn’t know if I would ever be okay again. I could get quite miserable about it at the time.
CB: Wasn’t Saturn going through Leo at the time as well?
ND: Yes, Saturn was on my Ascendant all through my first house when this happened. So yeah, the transits were corresponding to the progression, but I knew that. I knew also when I was going to have the secondary progression, it was going to interact with the transits in such a way that… That was part of the reason why I thought it wouldn’t be… Again, going to your question about solar eclipses, yeah, they’re not necessarily going to be a disaster on their own. But if you happen to have Saturn going over all the same points that the progressions involve at that same time. This was Saturn going from Leo into Virgo. My chart as you can see is all sorts of Leo and Virgo so this was like in the long-extended Saturn transit.
CB: Yeah, I mean it brings up a question about your chart that I mentioned earlier, which is that your Ascendant is at 15 and your Sun is at 21 so it’s like we’re right in that range where for example with George Lucas, he has about a six-degree difference, but it really to me behaves like a day chart rather than a night chart. I think it’s because once the Sun gets within about 6°, it starts getting really bright out so that for all intents and purposes, it’s like daytime out even if the Sun hasn’t broken the horizon. Do you have a sense of whether yours is a day chart or a night chart? Because it’s right on the border where I feel like it could go either way, so I wouldn’t know just like offhand looking at your chart.
ND: Yeah. Well, I remember at one point, you and Leisa were quite convinced I was a diurnal rather than a nocturnal. When I look at my Zodiacal Releasing, that to me is the thing that really suggests that my chart behaves like a day chart, even though technically it’s a nocturnal chart, strictly speaking.
CB: That’s interesting. All right, it’s about to come-
ND: I mean when you look at this chart, you know very well… First of all, I was born at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. If you know the city’s geography, it’s a hospital that’s on Mount Royal, it’s on a hill so it has a good view of the horizon. And it faces the geographical east. I have an image of my mother giving birth and me being handed to her and she could look out the window and the Sun is just coming up over the horizon. When the Sun is that close to the horizon, the sky is already light. The ball might not be in eyesight, but the sky is light. So in that sense, the morning is there.
CB: Right. So you imagine like Leo is rising and there’s like a halo above your head and-
CB: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Angels are singing and all that stuff.
CB: The clouds part in the sky. Every Leo rising imagines that’s how their birth went. All right, how many years did you spend in Cumberland, in the Project Hindsight?
ND: Okay. In 2001 in June, I went back to New York. I was living in Holland, but I had a storage locker stuff in New York and I went to go get all my stuff and bring it to Holland. And because I was in the States, I went and visited the folks at Hindsight. This is June to July of 2001. Demetra George was there the night I arrived. She had only just got there. I remember very well sitting on that great porch at the house, the back porch, and it was just Schmidt, Demetra and I and Schmidt and I had to break the news to Demetra that she had the Sun in the first house now and not the 12th, because she’s like me a Sun Leo rising. But in her case, the Sun is visibly above the horizon and therefore using a dynamic house system, she would be a 12th house Sun.
CB: Right. So as a modern astrologer, she’d always thought she has a 12th house Sun.
ND: She had always thought of herself as the 12th house Sun when you look at that chart. That was fun. I mean I was in awe of her because her asteroids book is really something and she continued to impress us with her asteroid work.
CB: That’s actually really funny all three of you would be Leo rising. Schmidt was also Leo rising.
ND: That’s right. It’s quite the drinking party and I always enjoyed that. Alan White was there. He wasn’t there that first night, but he drove up. He gave an amazing talk where he came very close to predicting 9/11 because there was an eclipse at zero Cancer. This would have been the solstice. Like I said, I was there in late June, early July. So he talked about this eclipse and he said, when Saturn reaches zero Cancer, he predicted dire things for the United States. He was right in a sense because when Saturn made the ingress to Cancer, that would be in 2003 when the Gulf War would really start to go poorly after initial feeling of success.
But if he had just thought a little harder, he would have remembered, oh, actually, there’s a Mars retrograde in Sagittarius now and after it goes direct, it’s going to go into Capricorn. And when it hits zero Capricorn, maybe that’s when this eclipse gets triggered and maybe that’s when America is in trouble. If he had thought like that, he would have predicted 9/11 within a day.
CB: Because it was right after Mars ingressed into Capricorn?
ND: That’s right. If you look at the 9/11 chart, I think Mars is at maybe 1° Capricorn, 2° Capricorn or something, no later than that. So I mean that was impressive, too. It was the kind of thing where like it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the prediction. It’s like math like if you get the wrong answer, but you did all the right work, you just forgot to carry the two or something like that. It was that kind of mistake.
CB: Part of the lesson also is just that eclipses can activate degrees or mark certain degrees, which can get activated later by certain transits when they pass those degrees.
ND: Yeah, well, he was already thinking that way, but he was just thinking about the Saturn conjunction to zero Cancer and not the Mars opposition from zero Capricorn. Really, it was as simple as that. I mean, that was an important visit.
CB: And you’re literally there witnessing then Demetra starting to learn Hellenistic astrology for the first time because she’s literally having to cope with the idea that her Sun is in the first house instead of the 12th house.
ND: Right. I mean Demetra did have the advantage. She had been in university studying Greek so she was in her own way preparing for this. There’s a lot to be said for learning Greek before you try to learn Hellenistic astrology even though it’s a tougher more uphill climb, I suppose. I mean even I’m looking at your English lexicon. I remember I had one of those in Holland and in Scotland, I didn’t get to do very much with it. Alas, I’m not the Greek scholar you and Demetra the likes of you are. Yeah, I did witness her being indoctrinated, if you will, and that was a great time.
From there, 2001 went into 2002 and eventually the Dutch girlfriend and I grew apart and I left and I moved to England. I was still working for Astro-Livelink. But I figured maybe try hanging out in England for a little while while I did this phone job, and that was great. I wound up in Brighton, England. I was basically legally squatting, if you will, in a building. It had been an internet cafe, but the lease was running out but there were a few months to go. So the guy who ran the cafe let me live there to look after his gear that was still in this closed down internet cafe. I literally I had a computer with my Solar Fire loaded on it and a couch that I could sleep on. All I did morning to night, I mean I did my readings for Astro-Livelink to feed myself and then the rest of the time, I just really got serious about my database.
Up until that point, I had just been collecting charts and putting them in files. But it was in this period in Brighton in 2002 that I was like, “Oh, this can be like a thing, an entity. It’s not just random bits of information. The thing has a potential cohesion to it.” And so, I got very serious. I spent the winter of 2002 and spring of 2003 really adding a lot to this database. This was also when I was really starting to do what I mentioned earlier which was branch out, not to study the people I was a fan of like Watergate. I remember it was 2002 so it was the 30th anniversary of Watergate. I was like, “Oh yeah, why don’t I study the astrology of Watergate? Not just Richard Nixon’s chart, but all his staff who were bound up going to prison and the chronology of all the events, the break in, the finding out about the tapes, firing this guy, firing that guy, getting the full chronology that anyone who knows about Watergate would know about right up until his resignation, just getting that.”
Then that branched out further into me studying Richard Nixon’s entire life, his marriage, his kids, his time as a congressman, as a senator, as vice president, so on and so forth right up until his death. That was one of those early instances of me like, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to like the guy in order to walk in his shoes astrologically and learn what I can.
CB: Right. Every astrologer does that. Every astrologer builds their own personal database to some extent of charts of people they know or charts of things that have happened in their life, but that’s something you really recommend that people, individual students should do somewhat more systematically?
ND: Yeah. Again, I advocate it. I don’t know if they should do it, but it seems to me like they should. If anyone wants to know what I think, that is what I think. Yeah.
CB: I mean, what would you recommend or what would the directive be or what would the instructions be if somebody wanted to start doing that for themselves or building their own database or databases?
ND: Well, I certainly advocate breaking out of the comfort zone of not just studying the subjects that you already know and love, but try to broaden your horizons. The things I’ve learned about the history of politics, the history of art since I’ve taken this approach, there’s no comparison to… I mean I used to be this person who thought he knew it all, but the stuff that I knew was everything about the things I loved, that I had a real personal attachment to.
CB: Right. If a person let’s say somebody just started studying astrology yesterday and they have to start from square one, I guess square one is just telling them you should start building a database and collecting charts and birth times from every buddy you know essentially.
ND: Yeah, learn your parents, your siblings, your friends, your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, whoever. Yeah. I mean, you start with them. You start with yourself, obviously. That’s an important one. But you don’t want to… Some astrologers get stuck in that one. At some point, you can only do so much for yourself as your own astrologer. I mean you keep learning as you go through life of course, but-
CB: And you’re saving a chart. Every time an important event happens in your life, you’ll save a time chart ideally for that event.
ND: Yeah, and for the people you know. I was always interested in knowing the world around me so I spent a lot more time studying charts of people who are… I’m not personally acquainted with your Jimi Hendrix’s and your whoever.
CB: What do you do when you have a celebrity like what are you doing? Or what does that look like for somebody who doesn’t understand your process or what one of your databases looks like?
ND: Yeah. For anyone, whether it’s a Richard Nixon or a Jimi Hendrix or whoever, it’s a file in Solar Fire with that person’s name and every possible natal and event chart I can find that’s documented. If I don’t have a birth time for the person, I’ll still enter the birth date with a new chart, which is still useful to a degree. Obviously, it’s more useful to have proper-timed horoscopes, but you work with what you have. You can still learn from dates, especially if they’re certain. I have Jimi Hendrix’s birth time, but if I want to know the musicians he played with, I don’t have their birth times, but it’s still worth knowing that one of them had Jupiter in Jimmy’s seventh house, and maybe that’s why their musical synastry was… So it’s still useful in that sense.
CB: And you’re putting notes on each file with a Rodden Rating and also custom notes with the source of the birth information.
ND: Yeah. Then the event stuff, which I get from books or sometimes websites. I prefer books, but in the early days it was more fan sites and stuff. For instance, like I said with Richard Nixon, there’s events in his presidency that there’s a chronological list of events in his life and you can enter a chart for each one of those, every press conference that was important or every new twist and turn. Look at the birth charts not just of his staff and his cabinet, but also his enemies, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Daniel, what’s his name? The guy who published the Pentagon Papers. Name is on the tip of my tongue. All these people, so his friends, his enemies, his allies, Brezhnev, Mao, they ended up coming into the Richard Nixon picture.
Or if it’s Jimi Hendrix, musicians like him. There’s all kinds of published material about when he played, every concert he played and the dates and how they went. Was it a well-received show? Or did something go wrong technically that frustrated him? Or was he getting along with his girlfriend or his musicians or was he not? Every recording session, when did he write Purple Haze? When did he record Purple Haze? That kind of information is often available, in his case it is.
All this comes in so I ended up recreating the chronology of the person’s life in a Solar Fire file. Then when I have that file, I can do searches. I can say, okay, out of all these charts in this file, how many of them have Jupiter in Libra or Mars in Scorpio or whatever or Mars square Venus or Sun trine Jupiter, whatever I want to look for. I can then search this file and get a lot of information, learn a lot about how astrology really works in this bigger picture outside the ordinary limitations of your standard horoscopic natal chart reading.
CB: Yeah, when we did an episode talking about the chart of Kurt Cobain a few months ago for an episode of the Casual Astrology Podcast for patrons, we were going through your Nirvana file and your Cobain file and it just had dates of the shows that they had done, like hundreds of entries for when they had played different shows in different cities and the time and the date that the show started and things like that.
ND: Exactly, yeah. Sometimes you have the time or sometimes you’re guessing, “Well, the show probably started at 9:00 PM.” Sometimes you’re approximating the time. If you have the time, great. If you don’t, you can still sort of approximate it, still worth knowing the transits. But also the details. You know, when did they play Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time live? When did he first meet Courtney Love? When did he first meet Dave Grohl? And there’s charts for all that. So yeah, and then you just get this whole picture of everything related to his life that you can come up with.
CB: Or recording dates for when they recorded certain songs or certain albums.
ND: Yeah. In his case, it’s not as broken down as say Jimi Hendrix or The Beatles, where you really know that on January 2nd at 2:00 PM such and such a song was recorded, but you do know that within a period of three weeks the album was recorded, and at least you can sort of work with what you have.
CB: Yeah. So that’s something. And now you have just a ton of different files like that, and that’s something we were talking about recently and hopefully can do at some point, is make those available or sell some of those as databases that people could use and then run searches through or draw on some of your research that you’ve done in those different databases for different things they might be interested in studying.
ND: Yeah, that’s absolutely something I’m interested in doing. It’s the kind of resource that would be useful, I think, to a lot of astrology students.
CB: Because I was part of the role that you played at Hindsight when I got there in 2005, was we were doing study sessions of applying and starting to learn about some of these astrological techniques like zodiacal releasing and really starting to learn how they worked and how to apply them. And you would often be the go-to guy for what birth chart should we use and knowing things about the biography of certain things and when things were lining up versus when things weren’t lining up and things like that.
ND: Yeah, it became useful. I mean, after I came back from England in 2003, I hung around Montreal for a year. I’m still working for Astro LiveLink. I took a few university history classes, but I was really sort of past sitting in classrooms anymore. Decided I would just sort of read my own books and do that study on my own. And then 2004, I wound up going back down to Cumberland for a visit, and it was then that I was invited to go stay there.
CB: When? In 2004?
ND: Well, I went to visit around June of 2004, and that was when I was introduced to Mark Kuenzel, who would become the next president of the AYA. It was during that year that I was back in Montreal after England that we started the whole AYA thing. I met Moses and Kelly online when I was still living in Brighton, but then I moved back to Montreal, and that was when the AYA was formed in 2003, 2004. And so in June of 2004, I went down to Cumberland. I was introduced to Mark Kuenzel, who was doing sort of tech stuff for Project Hindsight, and he would be a president of AYA before you.
CB: Yeah, I think he was like the second president.
ND: Yeah, after Moses, yeah.
CB: I guess I took over from him.
ND: Right, because he was moving to Hawaii and all this stuff. He was not in a space where he could do it.
CB: Yeah, and he designed some of the early diagrams for Project Hindsight that were really important like illustrations for some of the concepts.
ND: Yeah, he was really good for that. And he was one of my first Photoshop teachers, which was new technology to me at the time. So that was in June of 2004, and I was invited. And I still remember in November of 2004, right when Bush was reelected, I took a Greyhound down to DC where Kuenzel lived. And then the two of us drove down to Florida where we had the incorporation meeting for AYA where I met a lot of them for the first time in person, these people that I’d been collaborating with to start the group. I already knew Demetra, Demetra was there. But people like Michelle Gould and Rebecca Crane, Donnah Youngblood, people who I’m still friends with today, we all met up. And I think on the AYA website there’s still a photo of us on the beach from that time. And then from there, Mark and I drove from Florida back up to Cumberland. And that was when I moved into the house up the street from Project Hindsight, the place I was living when I met you the following spring.
CB: Okay. So you were only there for about a year then before I showed up and moved to Project Hindsight?
CB: Got it, okay. So I wanted to go through some other topics here that we had lined up. One of them is way back in episode… Was it 10? Let’s see. No, episode 11 of The Astrology Podcast released September 16th, 2013, was titled The Astrology of Uranus and the United States, where we went over your book, URANU.S.A.: Astrology Looks at the First Planet and Nation of the New World. There’s a copy of a highly rare book at this point because it’s not still in print, right?
ND: No, it’s not in print. I am working on a second edition which will be considerably thicker than this. This was always meant to be like a sketchbook of a larger work. This was always meant to be a sliver of one chapter of a larger work which indeed is going to be the case. Because there’s a lot, lot more I can say on the subject. This just sort of touched on some of the different historical and astrological angles that I’m pursuing.
CB: And the book was about primarily the Uranus returns of the United States, right?
ND: Yeah, the premise, the book has three chapters, and the three chapters cover three periods in American history when transiting Uranus was in tropical Gemini. Basically, chapter one covers the years 1774 to 1782, which is the duration of the American Revolutionary War, that was Uranus in Gemini. The second chapter covers the years 1858 to 1865, which goes from the Lincoln-Douglas debates through the entirety of the American Civil War. And then chapter three covers the years 1941 to 1949, which covers the duration of American involvement in the Second World War, and then the early years of the Cold War when America was the only superpower. The last page and the last chapter covers the formation of NATO, which seems rather prescient now. The observation wasn’t original. Luke Broughton and later Evangeline Adams, although both of them lived before the Second World War, both of them made the observation that transiting Uranus had been in Gemini for the entirety of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War in the respective 18th and 19th centuries.
CB: Right, which was itself a Uranus return because Uranus is on an 84-year cycle and comes back to where it started about every 84 years.
ND: Every 84 years, it spends seven years in each of the 12 tropical signs.
CB: Here’s the Sibley chart where for the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776, where Uranus is at eight degrees of Gemini. So one point is just almost regardless of what chart you use for the founding of the United States, pretty much all of them during that time period it was in Gemini for seven years around that time period.
ND: Yeah. And in fact, in this volume, I didn’t mention the Sibley chart or July the 4th even, I didn’t feel I had to. I mean, in a broader work, I think naturally it’ll come up.
CB: I mean, are you agnostic on the… Do you have a strong opinion on like this is the chart of America thing or are you agnostic?
ND: Yeah, I’d say I’m agnostic on it. I’m agnostic on the idea of national charts altogether. I mean, I think it’s important to… I keep a database of events, so obviously the 4th of July, 1776 is an important date, as is the 2nd of July, 1776.
CB: What was the 2nd of July?
ND: Well, that’s when the declaration was really completed, so to speak. It was signed intermittently, different delegates signed it over the course, I think, of the next month or two. I mean, I think horoscopic astrologers are…
CB: Before we go there, there’s that really funny anecdote about John Adams where John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date for the birth of American independence, and he would repeatedly turn down invitations to attend July 4th celebrations in protest. But then John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4th, 1826.
ND: The 50th anniversary of the signing of the declaration.
CB: Right, exactly 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. So I feel like Adams lost that debate if you die exactly on the other one.
ND: Adams was an impressive man in many, many regards, but it’s funny how he would wind up on the sort of… He’s the first one-term president, for instance, he didn’t win every battle, that’s one thing you can say for him. And his very amazing son and his very amazing grandson and his very amazing great grandson. The Addams Family.
CB: Not that Addams Family,
ND: Not that Addams family, but it’s a really interesting family dynasty in American political history.
CB: And did it turn out that Evangeline Adams was roughly related to him somehow?
ND: I know I’ve seen that claim made, I think it’s not so. Forgive me if I’m wrong about that, it’s not fresh in my memory bank right now.
CB: Did you get a very strongly-worded letter from Karen Christino?
ND: Well, you you’ve had her on the program, haven’t you?
CB: No, I haven’t. I wanted to because I did an Evangeline Adam’s episode, but she doesn’t like doing interviews or sitting for long periods. So Christopher Renstrom joined me as a sit in for her at her blessing for that episode.
ND: Well, he would be the one to know. Christopher, you can slap me in the face if I’m wrong about Evangeline Adams not being related to the political Adams.
CB: And I think we actually discussed this in that episode, so I’ll have to go back and listen for the answer.
ND: Yeah, and I think I saw that episode and even still the information hasn’t stayed with me. So there you go.
CB: So founding of countries, you’re agnostic on founding charts in general and yet there’s something to this obviously, there’s some kind of foundational chart going on in this seven-year period where Uranus clearly in coming back the first time 84 years later coinciding with the Civil War, and then the second time coinciding with World War II. Those are obviously huge turning points in American history that are being tied back to some original foundation chart of some sort.
ND: Sure. And actually, I mean, even the Revolutionary War in the transit of Uranus in Gemini then, that was a Uranus return of the British Glorious Revolution at the end of the 17th century, which is really a very important precedent to the American Revolutionary War in the sense of the creation of Western democracy. You would not have, I think, a Revolutionary War if the Glorious Revolution hadn’t happened in the 1690s. That’s kind of my point is there’s something broader about… When you study synodic cycles in history, it’s not that natal charts for countries aren’t useful, but they become kind of a crutch I find for astrologists who really want to seriously study histories. I mean, the thing about the United States is that relative to most countries, it’s a very clear cut example because you have this new country founded and there’s one constitution that, as we’ve seen even lately, some people are very intent on always sticking to the letter. It’s very sort of cut and dried, but let me give you some other examples. France since the French Revolution in the 1780s and 1790s, France has had two empires and five republics since 1789, since Bastille Day. Now we can use the most recent, The Fifth Republic chart, which is early 1959, but is that really a chart for France? Is that really a chart that just speaks about France as a nation? Well, what it really addresses is the new republic that De Gaulle formed when he took over the presidency in the late ’50s in the midst of the Algerian War and all that. But obviously France has a much bigger history, and to sort of look at the chart of France for 1959 or even just to look at the French Revolutionary chart even to go back to if you want to go to Bastille Day or the famous Tennis Court Oath of 1789 or whatever starting point you want to use, you’re still arriving in the middle of a much bigger story. Ditto for Russia, I love studying the history of Russia, but do we really want to just look at a chart for the foundation of the new republic in the 1990s?
CB: All right, the 1990 chart?
ND: Yeah. There are things that you can do using synodic cycles that address sort of the greater history of Russia that incorporates not just the republic, but the Soviet era, the era of the Romanovs, and the era of Ivan the Terrible and so on and so forth. And to my mind, again, it’s a matter of getting the most bang for your buck, looking at things in really sort of broad terms so that you’re not sort of fixated on these sort of frankly smaller ideas. I mean, it’s different with a human being. A human being is born, they’ve got a natal chart, and that marks a beginning of an entire life until the person dies. That really is something that you can bookend in very finite terms.
CB: Yeah. Although, it gets a little muddy when people’s charts continue working sometimes after they die.
ND: That does happen. No, no, sure.
CB: But certainly biologically humans.
ND: But at that point after the person’s dead, it’s working in the sense of a legacy. That is something that happens and it’s worth looking at. But even then, the life of the person, the actual life, is still this very finite and identifiably finite period of time.
CB: Yeah. Although, it’s interesting flip side of the coin or to push back a little bit like with Russia, for example, seeing that pile up in Capricorn at the fall of the Soviet Union and then the creation of the experiment and having a democracy there. And then now having this Saturn return of all of that 30 years later and essentially watching in real-time the end of that experiment of having a democracy.
ND: I’m so glad you brought up Capricorn, because in the broader Uranus work where I’m not just looking at Uranus USA, but let’s say Uranus USSR if you want, go back and look at the other times Uranus has been in Capricorn in Russian history. And you will find Tsar Alexander I, who was a Capricorn Sun, first he had Saturn in Capricorn conjunct his Sun when he burned down Moscow with Napoleon’s invasion, which was actually an old Russian technique to fight off the Mongols. The Mongols would invade, they would just burn their wooden town and leave, “You’re not taking anything,” which is something to take note of actually, it’s an old Russian approach to invasion. But then Uranus went into Capricorn in the 1820s when Uranus is conjunct Alexander’s Sun, and he’s in the middle of basically going from being a political liberal to a political conservative. He’s part of the movement, The Concert of Europe, that’s intent on ending revolutionary uprisings in Europe. And Russia becomes sort of the policemen for that going right up through to the 1840 revolutions that happen all over Europe. So Uranus was in Capricorn in the 1820s, this very important part where Russia sort of established itself as a prominent European power in The Concert of Europe in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. And then the next time Uranus is in Capricorn starts in 1905, the first part of the Russian Revolution. I mean, we all know the 1917 revolution that overthrew the Romanovs, but that revolution really began in 1905 in the midst of the war with Japan, and that’s when Uranus goes into Capricorn. And so what you see with Russia is whenever Uranus is in Capricorn, something happens to Russia, whether it’s in the Romanov era, in the Soviet era or well, I guess, it’ll be a while before we see what it does here. But like you mentioned, Saturn being in Capricorn also triggers this. But Russia has a very similar relationship to Uranus being in tropical Capricorn that the United States does when Uranus is in Gemini. Effectively the country sort of reinvents itself in some way, uh, during these periods in a really striking way. Similarly for France, Uranus was in Leo during the first part of the French Revolution, the most famous and bloody part prior to Napoleon’s takeover. And in fact, Uranus was conjunct Napoleon’s Leo Sun when he moved with his family to France and began his upward climb to taking over. And then if you jump ahead to the 1870s, Uranus goes into Leo right after the Franco-Prussian War, where they lose Alsace-Lorraine and the Third Republic is established. In the 1870s, Uranus goes to Leo… After the Third Republic is established, it’s very tenuous, but it’s when Uranus is in Leo that the sort of the liberals and the royalists fight it out and the liberals take over and there’s not going to be a king of France ever again or an emperor of France ever again. And then in the 1950s, when De Gaulle comes up, Uranus is in Leo, when De Gaulle takes over and recreates France in his image and a new sort of quasi royalist image. He creates a much stronger French presidency, which is for the first time you have a sort of strong man leading France for the first time since before the Franco-Prussian War. So long story short, I’m sorry to go into all this, but you can make charts for France or for Russia or for the United States, but if you just put the chart aside or you at least consider that chart in context of a broader picture, it’s worth looking at these planetary cycles and seeing how a region responds to them over multiple returns, because there really is something to draw from that that you just won’t get if all you do is sort of spend all your time fighting about whether or not the United States has a Sagittarius or a Gemini rising.
CB: Yeah, there has been in modern astrology this obsession with coming up with the singular correct chart for things like the United States and then arguing about that or defending that or other entities like that. There’s still something interesting about sometimes shorter term cycles, because that’s a good point that oftentimes that’s one of the issues with countries and longer term historical things is there’s much larger term, longer term cycles that are operating that you may not even be aware of or that you may only notice if you’re looking at really large spans of time that may go back far before any foundational charts that you look at or even have dates for. But then sometimes it is still relevant to look at more recent foundations of recent versions of a country, because sometimes that can create some sort of new foundational chart that is responding to certain transits. Because one of the things I was trying to figure out with Russia recently was that Venus retrograde that happened earlier this year in Capricorn and obviously was so important and that had happened almost exactly eight years after the first invasion of Ukraine, initial invasion.
ND: Sure. Which wasn’t a surprise to me because that Venus retrograde actually has a profound history in Russian history. Lenin was born during that same Venus retrograde phase. He was born after Venus had stationed direct but when it was still in that period I identify as being part of the phase, so was Khrushchev. And a lot of other important Russian events have happened during that same part of the Venus retrograde cycle that currently happens in Capricorn. It used to happen in Aquarius, and back in the 19th century, it used to happen in Pisces, which is where it was when Lenin was born. So yeah, but let me be clear, just going back to your point, this is not me saying, “Hey folks, forget about national charts altogether. Just drop the whole idea, it’s useless.” I’m not saying that at all. I’m just saying, “Sure, it’s interesting, it’s worthwhile, it’s relevant, it can be useful, but if it’s all that you’re using, if it’s all that you know, if it defines the parameters of how you approach all your mundane work relative to a given country, my experience tells me you’re really limiting yourself and that it’s worth contemplating this bigger picture.”
CB: Yeah, and sometimes maybe it can distract you from seeing longer term cycles that may be operating outside of the bounds of just some singular foundation chart. So that brings up a lot of your research and a lot of your focus, especially over the past 10 years, has been identifying these Venus retrograde cycles that repeat every eight years. And for a period of time they tend to happen in the same signs, but because it shifts about two degrees every eight years, they don’t stay in the same signs. But you found a way to categorize those and focus in on those cycles that recur every eight years regardless of the sign placement, and that’s something you’ve really been focused on over the past decade.
ND: Yeah. Venus is really interesting that way. I mean, I’m also interested in the synodic cycle of Mars and obviously the cycle of Uranus is really vital to me. But there is something special about Venus because it does repeat itself every eight years. Although, like you said, it switches signs. Every 120 years, Venus will move backward one entire zodiacal sign. So yes, the Venus retrograde that just happened in Capricorn if you go back even just a few years, even as just back to the 1990s, it used to happen in Aquarius going into Capricorn. And then if you go into the 19th century, it was in Pisces. And before that in the 18th century, it was in Aries. So just gradually over time it moves backward. But yeah, I designed a model of the Venus synodic cycle itself so that I don’t have to be tethered to the sign so that I can just watch the cycle itself over periods of hundreds of years, because I’ve found that it’s actually really, really useful to do that, that I get something out of it that I wouldn’t get if I was just looking at Venus in this sign or that sign.
CB: Right. So we’ve got some illustrations or a video which would be good to introduce people to this approach.
ND: Well, let’s start with the video, because the video explains and I’ll do my best to narrate it as you play the little…
CB: All right, it’s going.
ND: Okay. So imagine this circle represents 2,920 days, which is eight years minus two days. Now, if you divide the cycle into 10 equal parts, what you get now… Maybe pause the video for a second. What you get here is a model of all the different periods where Venus is a morning star and evening star. So you can see there are five white sections and five black sections each marked A, B, C, D, and E. Okay. Now where a black section turns to a white section, that’s where you have what we call an interior or inferior conjunction of Venus, when Venus is at its closest to earth and therefore appears to be going retrograde as it makes a conjunction to the Sun. And then conversely, wherever you see a white phase going into a black phase, that means you’re having an exterior, a superior conjunction, when Venus is making a conjunction to the Sun, but it’s on the other side of the Sun. So it’s actually moving very fast and it’s not retrograde. All right. So yeah, split these parts into alternating black and white sections and you have reproduced the elegant design of the Venus synodic cycle. So remember that circle represents eight years minus two days, 2,920 days. Maybe continue the video, okay. So here we have the Earth and the Sun, we can see the path of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Now inside that we have the orbit of Venus. There we are, Venus’s orbit is that inner circle. So you can see the exterior conjunction like I was saying is when Venus is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. All right, so Sun-Venus exterior conjunctions or they’re often called superior conjunctions occur when Venus is at its greatest distance from the Earth on the opposite side of the Sun. And then you have the interior conjunction, this is when Venus is making its retrogrades. Venus is making an interior or an inferior conjunction when Venus is closest to the Earth and between the Earth and the Sun.
CB: So when Venus is retrograde, it’s always closest to us, and when Venus is direct and conjunct the Sun, it’s always furthest from us.
ND: Exactly, exactly. So as the video continues, sorry, it’s maybe a bit slow. All right, so we can divide these into… Now we see the white and black being divided because whenever there’s an exterior conjunction, we go from white to black, we go from rising to setting basically, from morning star to evening star, including the period where Venus is too close to the Sun to be visible, but just in terms of splitting the cycle in half, that’s what we get. And then at the bottom, we get the interior conjunctions when Venus is retrograde, so it’s going from an evening star back to a morning star,
CB: Which color is morning star and which is evening again?
ND: It’s pretty easy. White is morning or rising and black is evening or setting. I feel I chose the colors pretty self explanatory. All right. So yeah, setting phases begin following an exterior conjunction, rising phases begin following an interior conjunction. So from here, you can also divide the 2,920 days cycle into 20 parts averaging 146 days each. This is what I call the intervals. So every interval is about 5% of total time. And the reason I mention that is because I just want to give a sense of what a small part of the overall eight-year cycle these represent. So we have the white intervals, this is when Venus is a morning star. Like I said, the average is 146 days, but they can be as short as 141 and as long as 151. So there’s a five-day sort of grace period in terms of how long or short they can be. During the white intervals, Venus is gradually accelerating, it’s heading towards its exterior conjunction, it’s getting closer to the Sun, but not retrograde, on the opposite side of Earth. So those are the white intervals. Next we have the blue intervals when Venus makes its exterior conjunction. You can see here in the video Venus, is moving past the Sun very quickly. These are always 146 days long, it’s when Venus goes from morning to evening star. It’s fast direct motion, and the exterior conjunction is right at the center of the interval. So it’s right in the middle of the blue. In fact, that’s how I draw the blue interval, I take the exterior conjunction and I draw 73 days on either side of it, if you know what I mean, to a total 146. Okay. So then following the blue intervals are the black intervals. Again, they can last 141 to 151 days. This is a evening star or setting Venus, and it’s gradually decelerating because it’s heading back towards its eventual next retrograde. It’s getting closer to Earth. Finally, we have the red intervals, this is where the retrogrades happen. So these are again 146 days, it’s when Venus goes from evening to morning star, slow retrograde motion. So Venus is slowing down, it stops, it changes direction, and then it slows down and stops again. And just like with the blue intervals, the red intervals are drawn by using the interior conjunction right at the center and then the boundaries are 73 days on either side of the center.
CB: On either side of the center of the conjunction with the Sun. So that encompasses the stationary, the retrograde station and the direct station.
ND: Exactly, within the interval.
CB: Does it go beyond that?
ND: It does. In fact, as it happens, the beginning and ending of the red interval coincides within about a day of Venus being at its greatest elongation from the Sun in the west and then in the east.
CB: Okay. How far usually on average is the greatest elongation from the actual station date though?
ND: About 50 to 51 days before and after.
CB: So you’re including some shadow periods, basically?
ND: It’s a bit broader than the shadow period, but again, this has to do with Venus’s visibility. So in a very natural way, even though I didn’t design it this way, I mean the cosmos designed it this way, but remember these are pretty relatively even divisions of the eight-year cycle in the same way that we have 12 months in a year that just happen to sort of fit in our calendar system. And as it happens, this small 5% section of the eight-year cycle, begins within a day of the greatest elongation and then covers the entire retrograde motion, direct motion, and then it ends within about a day of its other greatest elongation in the east, the greatest distance Venus has from the Sun. If you measure it from greatest elongation to greatest elongation, it encompasses the whole retrograde motion in the middle of it. So again, it’s not just a matter of Venus covering a certain section of degrees, but it’s like this greater sort of portion of its overall cycle when it’s got this relationship to the Sun, it’s visual. That’s a big part of the point of all this is the different ways Venus appears in the sky. So there are five of each of these. Now, if you keep the video going, you can see where the intervals are and how they fit relative to the Earth, the Sun, the exterior conjunction, the interior conjunction. You can see how that all sort of plays out together, how it all incorporates together. And then I’m going to add the evening and morning star, I think, will come up shortly in the video. It’s moving a bit slow I know. There we are. So you see that outer rim which just covers where we started, where you just have the rising and setting phases, the white and black. And you can see how the white goes to black in the middle of the blue interval and black goes to white in the middle of the red interval. So like I said, that’s where the conjunctions are, the interior and exterior conjunctions. And you can see, again, I’ve added the greatest elongation, the western and eastern, you can see how they coincide with the boundaries of the red intervals. So that diagram explains what I’ve been trying to explain verbally for the past five minutes.
CB: Yeah. So you’ve just taken the entire Venus cycle and you’ve been able to divide it up into sections, and then you’ve given names to each of these sections, which allows you to then refer to them in shorthand using your system and then be able to refer to them over the course of a person’s lifetime, over the course of a country’s life.
ND: Right, exactly. So now we’re looking at the diagram of the phases and the intervals together. And you can see how, again, that whole circle represents eight years minus two days. That’s the main thing to remember. So every eight years, Venus goes through those 20 intervals and those 10 phases.
CB: So through this entire cycle?
ND: Yeah. So the Venus retrograde in Capricorn that we just had, that’s what I call the red four. So look at the bottom right corner and you see the red four. When Venus was conjunct the Sun in the middle of the Venus retrograde, that’s when it went from the black E to the white C.
CB: I mean, before you even get to the transition, just talk about like a red four, for example, and how you would use that as shorthand to refer to a sequence.
ND: Okay. Well, for instance, I mean, you were getting to this yourself, the invasion of Ukraine during the Venus retrograde, that was in the middle of a red four, whereas eight years earlier when they annexed the Crimea, that was also a red four. But as it happens, the period when Venus goes from black five to red four is always huge in Russian history. The October Revolution in 1917 happened during the black five, and the early part when the Soviets, right after the revolution when they negotiated with Germany to get out of the Second World War, when Lenin sort of seized power and all that, that was during a red four, and Lenin was born during a red four interval. And then jump ahead to the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949, that was also a black five going into red four. Mao was a red four and as was Khrushchev. And when Mao went to Russia in late ’49, early ’50, right after the Chinese Revolution and the sort of the Sino-Soviet Communist Alliance was formed, that was also during a red four. And then when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, that was again a black five interval going into red… In fact, I think by the time the wall fell or right after as the Soviet Union is crumbling after the wall fell, that was a black five going into a red four interval again in 1989 and early 1990. So it’s not merely that we can connect 2014 and 2022 relative to Russian Ukrainian history, but that it goes back. I mean, think about it, 1989-1990, 1949-1950, 1917-1918, easily anyone would say, whether you’re the biggest communist or the biggest capitalists, those are identifiably the three most crucial periods in Russian history in the 20th century. I mean, okay, there’s the Second World War, but that’s also important in the picture. Oh yeah, come to think of it, in 1941 when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, that was during a black five going into a red four interval at the beginning. Pearl Harbor, when America suddenly finds itself in alliance with the Soviet Union with Pearl Harbor, that’s going into a red four interval again. So even there I’ve added a fourth, a very important part in Russian history that always locks itself to this red four interval. And like I said, Lenin was born in the red four, Mao was born in the red four, Khrushchev was born in the red four, most of the Soviet leaders were born in the red intervals. Brezhnev was a red two. Stalin is unique, he’s a blue two, but then that’s another sort of question. But even Stalin’s own life ties a lot to Venus retrograde cycles.
CB: Right. So this is useful for just identifying phases in the Venus retrograde cycle and then to identify repetitions in that cycle that are spread out over time that sometimes certain countries or certain individuals get locked into, those being important turning points when that recurs. And sometimes you can then use that and project it out in the future and know if one’s coming up again, that this is going to be really important turning point and be able to potentially make a forecast based on that.
ND: Exactly. And there is something that really locks into this. And again, if we just thought about, is Venus in Pisces or is it in Libra or is it in Capricorn, whatever? I mean, that’s important in its own right, but you would miss out on the sort of the cyclical nature that you can follow over long periods of time that sort of transcend the sign boundaries in favor for this very equally identifiable little Venusian zodiac of sorts. It’s not unlike, in the same way that we take one solar revolution and break it into 12, we’re taking a sort of a grander Venus cycle and breaking it into 20.
CB: But it does take it outside of the abstractness or the astrological and some of the clichés of the astrological construct of the zodiac signs and things like that, and does put it or situate it in a context of just looking at slices or periods of time and cycles of the planets. And in that way it might be a little bit more appealing or a little bit more approachable once you get past its initial complexity to somebody like a historian that could be open to astrology if they simply understood it as the study of cycles of time.
ND: Exactly. I mean, that’s the thing, this is useful in that capacity because we don’t have to start trying to convince people that Venus in Capricorn loves ambition and structure or that Venus in Libra loves love. And not that I’m poo pooing any of that, I mean, I am a horoscopic astrologer, but we can sort of just table that element and just illustrate something simpler and more just based on the basic calendar properties of planetary cycles, and it speaks volumes, I think. Remember, each interval represents only 5% of total time. But even everything I’ve just identified for you with regard to Russia and the red four is really striking. Look, just imagine for a second, let’s go back to being horoscopic astrologers for a second. What if I could tell you that all those events happened when Venus was in Pisces, randomly speaking? Most astrologers would be like, “Okay, to have that many events and natal charts that all have Venus in Pisces, that’s got to be really meaningful because it’s finding a planet in this one really identifiable section.” Well, there are 12 zodiac signs, whereas I’m pulling Venus in a 20 division system, which is even more sort of unique and rare, 5% of total time. And this is just one example of how this works. I mean, I can do all kinds of things with Russian and American and other national histories.
CB: Well, I mean, to use another one, you mentioned one of your most important articles and your first article focused on this was Venus retrograde cycles of injustice and focusing on racial issues in the United States being tied into Venus retrograde periods.
ND: Right. And that would be the red five interval which you see at the bottom left of the screen. The article that I wrote, we can start with the Haitian Revolution in 1791…
CB: Was a Venus retrograde.
ND: Was a Venus retrograde, red five. It was a Red Five interval.
CB: So it wasn’t just any Venus retrograde, it was this specific retrograde that occurs every eight years.
ND: Right. When I wrote the article in 2007, I hadn’t devised this system yet. I devised this system in 2017 because I was struggling, I was always trying to explain. I mean, I had the work done on the Venus cycle, but what I now call the Red Five, I was calling the Venus from Virgo to Leo retrograde, which gets a little confusing, especially if you go back to 1791 in the Haitian Revolution, that Venus is in Libra or maybe even Scorpio, but it’s because it gradually goes backward through time.
CB: Because it shifts two degrees every eight years, even though it otherwise repeats very close to where it was eight years earlier? But that’s what this helps to identify, is those repetitions of the same eight-year cycle regardless of the cycle placement.
ND: Yeah. In that original article, I went from 1791 in the Haitian Revolution to 1831 in the Nat Turner rebellion– a very, very important slave uprising in Virginia– to eight years later in 1839 for the Amistad mutiny when some Caribbean slaves overtook a slave ship, landed on the shores of I think Long Island, New York. And it was a big sort of event in terms of what they were going to do with these guys who had taken control of their destiny. They landed in a part of the country where slavery was no longer involved. And in fact John Quincy Adams who had already been president wound up being their advocate, their lawyer in a court case that eventually saw them set free and go home to Africa. And from there, I just go on and on. For the Red Five intervals, you can go everywhere from like 1919, the summer of 1919 which they call Red summer when there are a bunch of racial uprisings all over the country; in Texas, in Chicago, Omaha, all these different places. There were I think over 100 of them over the course of the summer. They call it Red Summer. That was during the Red Five interval. But again, 1967 when there were a lot of… You know, prior to of course the famous Martin Luther King riots in April ’68, that’s not a Red Five. But all the sort of racial uprisings in the summer of 1967, in Newwark, in… Well, there were a number of them. There were a whole bunch of them. Newark has one of the most famous ones in Baltimore. They all happen in the summer of 1967. I identified all these different events, that the Red Five just seemed to be really central to periods. I mean, obviously, the American history has seen a lot of racial conflict. But there’s something about the Red Five interval that’s really sort of central to them happening in mass numbers, or in very politically notable or influential contexts. Sometimes they just happen and they end and there’s no real long-lasting impact.
CB: But it’s identifying echoes or rhymes and history.
ND: Exactly. Exactly.
CB: And a tool for doing that.
ND: Yeah. That was an early observation I made, and that was the article I wrote. Today I would write about it as a Red Five thing, but at the time I was doing what I could, I was trying to identify Venus in the cycle. It’s for that very reason that I devised the system in the first place, so I could explain it in these terms. Which I hope gets across to people, I’m doing my best and I’m still working on the perfect version of explaining this all.
CB: Yeah. So that’ll be one of the next things you want to do, is make videos on some of these different cycles showing the repetitions in history and demonstrating the coherency of that system?
ND: Exactly. Yeah.
CB: Okay, cool. All right. So we started talking about the Uranus return of the United States and that being important, and then we segwayed into the Venus retrograde. But we didn’t bring things around to have a have a little bit of a revolution and a little bit of a return to back to the start ourselves back to Uranus return. We did that episode on your book on Uranus in the United States history nine years ago, almost 10 years ago in 2013. And since then, especially over the past few years, I’ve been starting to become increasingly more nervous about the Uranus Return of the United States that’s coming up as soon as it goes back into Gemini here in a few years in like, what? 2025? 2026?
ND: 2025, yeah.
CB: Yeah, so we’re only three years off from that right now. It’s like that’s happening, but we’re also having the Pluto Return of the United States right now. Pluto is gonna go into Aquarius here also in a few years.
ND: Neptune is going to go into Aries. The last time Neptune made an ingress into Aries was literally in the middle of the Battle of Fort Sumter which began the Civil War. Like, when the attack on Sumpter began, Neptune was still in Pisces. And then by the time the battle ended the next day, it was in Aries. And that’s typically thought of as the single event that really began the Civil War, although obviously things have been heating up prior to that.
CB: Yeah, so way more than I was back in 2013 when we had that discussion– and all astrologers have kind of commented on that and always been like, you know, I wonder what that’s going to be. I’m becoming increasingly nervous about it with the trajectory because the two previous instances that we have, one of them was an internal war– the Civil War– and the country turning into itself and fighting itself. And some of the increasing tensions that have been happening in the United States over the past several years and threats to undermining the democracy and the democratic process and things like that, and the potential for a dictatorship or who knows. But then the second instance of the Uranus return was more of an external threat of fighting World War Two and fighting a war on two fronts with both Japan and Germany. And then more recently, we’ve had increasing and a return to international and world tensions between Russia and the United States that we haven’t seen since the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. All of that stuff happening is making me increasingly nervous about the Uranus return of the United States coming up in a few years, way more than I was 10 years ago.
ND: Yeah, I have to confess. Even I when I was doing the book in 2013, I was doing it purely as an exercise in explaining the history and just saying, “Well, okay, Uranus does this again in 2025.” But in 2013 when I looked around at the world around me, I was actually kind of thinking like, “Oh, maybe this is a big can of nothing, because things don’t seem so bad that the country is going to head towards chaos.” I mean, even the Russia thing, when the book came out Russia hadn’t annexed Crimea yet. So you know, the world is in pretty decent shape. Maybe this is a big kind of nothing. But yeah, things happen very quickly and in those nine years, the further we go the more it seems like the book was touching on something that is still very active and likely to repeat itself again. Let me say what’s consistent, going back to the United States and Uranus in Gemini, what really ties the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Second World War together with regard to the United States. Okay, first of all there’s wars. That’s that. But if you look at US history, I think there’s only like six or seven years and all of the 200 plus years of American history that there was no war whatsoever. If you include all the struggles with native tribes, Spanish-American War, First World War… United States has often been at war.
CB: Sure, but certainly those two stand out.
ND: Those three standout.
CB: Three, okay.
ND: Those three standout. What’s more unique to those three wars is they resulted in the United States redefining what it is. It emerged from those wars as a totally different country to what it had been when the war began. There’s a transformation in place. The Revolutionary War, okay, well obviously you got an actual republic emerging out of the Revolutionary War. So not so much a- Well, a redefining incense because there was a colony then suddenly it’s a republic. The Civil War? Well, that centralised the United States, right? I mean, that’s the one thing that war did. When people talk about fighting for States rights, they’re generally arguing for a pre-Civil War model of the United States in some sense.
CB: Yeah. And the alternate history scenario where it could have been broken up into two separate countries, essentially.
ND: Right. Which probably would have resulted in the Confederate States annexing a lot of what we call Latin America now, which is one of the things they were fighting to prevent.
CB: So it was like that, but also the end of slavery during the Civil War, and that being one of the main things that it was fought fought over.
ND: Yeah. That’s certainly what the Southern states were fighting to preserve. The Northern states, I think were fighting mostly to just hold on to the country. And I think a lot of the Northern soldiers were more vested in that than in actually emancipating slaves. But obviously the emancipation of slaves was resolved, regardless of whether it was the intention of the Northern troops to do that. But anyway, that’s a whole nother discussion. But yes, certainly you got an emancipation proclamation under the Civil War. But more broadly, you got the centralised United States government. You’ve got a very different country than what it had been up until that point. And then with the Second World War, the United States was this very isolationist country. They got pulled into the Second World War very reluctantly, they were doing everything they could to not get involved.
CB: Well, yeah. Due to World War One and the huge losses of that, there was a huge sentiment of not wanting to be involved in another world war. But then you had Roosevelt come along and Roosevelt was trying to get the country ready for war for a long time leading up to it. And I don’t wanna say dragging them into it, but kind of a little bit dragging the country into it in some ways, this being an inevitability.
ND: Yeah. Before Pearl Harbour, what Roosevelt did do was he instigated the Lend-Lease programme. He was supplying first Britain, and then later also Russia, with weapons and ships, planes, ammunition, all kinds of things that they were manufacturing. And Uranus’s first ingress into Gemini in the summer of 1941 coincided with Roosevelt meeting with Churchill, what they call the Atlantic Charter. It wasn’t actually a real charter, they didn’t write anything down but they just sort of agreed that there would be more cooperation before them. This is four months prior to Pearl Harbour. When Pearl Harbour actually happened, Uranus had now regressed back into Taurus. But it had made its first ingress into Gemini. And by the time the US found itself fighting with Japan in Midway and in all those famous battles at the beginning of their involvement, by that point Uranus had made its second ingress into Gemini. And Uranus stayed in Gemini all through the rest of the war and then the formation of the United Nations in 1946, and very importantly, the formation of NATO in 1949. And in fact, Uranus stayed in Gemini up until the summer of 1949 just prior to when the Soviet Union got their nuclear bomb, at which point suddenly you had not one but two global superpowers. And then shortly after that, China joined in the picture as a new communist state and a new quote-unquote “threat” to the capitalist world order. So yeah, you can see whatever the case, it’s almost- And it’s funny, even the Revolutionary War, people talk about this. Prior to the Revolutionary War, people like Jefferson, Washington, Benjamin Franklin, they were all pretty loyal British citizens, you know? They weren’t born revolutionaries. It was circumstances that sort of pulled them into the revolution and pulled them into forming a republic. They didn’t grow up thinking someday we got to get rid of the king and all this stuff, not by any stretch. The war just sort of landed on their laps because of circumstances. As with the Civil War, it’s not like Lincoln or anyone in the US government was trying to create a centralised federal state. It’s just that’s an outcome of what happened in the Civil War due to circumstances. And again with the Second World War, the US was never trying to become a global superpower. Not by any stretch. It’s something that happened because of the war.
CB: Because part of it was an accident of most of Europe being decimated after World War Two and needing to rebuild back up, and America being one of the few that didn’t have any fighting on its own soil.
ND: Yeah. So they had more money, more resources, more everything. And they were able to do that, to sort of establish a kind of global peace. I mean, they had ulterior motives. They were worried about Communism and the Soviet bloc and all that stuff. But yeah, none of it was by design. In any three of those words, it’s very Uranian. As the saying goes, shit happened and then they just responded. And then these really important consequences came out of it. That’s what’s consistent. And if I was going to try and forecast what this next decade is going to be like going from Uranus’s next ingress into Gemini in 2025, to when it eventually leaves in 2032-2033 whatever it is, obviously I hope there’s no war involved but it’s not hard to imagine, considering where things are today. Whether it’s an internal civil thing or an external thing with regards to what’s going on with Russia and the Ukraine and NATO, or a little bit of both, or something entirely different.
CB: Because it’s kind of one of the things let’s just say roughly around the time of the Sibley chart and the Declaration of Independence when Uranus is in Gemini is it’s not just Uranus there, but Mars is there in the same sign as well. And I wonder if we could make the most general statement that sort of regardless of what chart you use, that if you use any chart roughly in that timeframe around July of 1776, that you’ve got a chart with Mars in Uranus and a sign-based conjunction. So every time Uranus comes back around, it’s also activating that conjunction in that Mars placement.
ND: That’s a good point. If you look at the synoptic cycle of Mars, 79 years is a really important marking point in the synoptic cycle of Mars because you get a return within four degrees. It’s the closest thing you get with Mars. Because the Mars synoptic cycle is very asymmetrical compared to Venus’s very symmetrical cycle. But within every 79 years, you’ll get for instance, a Mars Retrograde station within four degrees of wherever Mars made its retrograde station 79 years previously. So, Mars is going retrograde in Gemini this year. The last time it went retrograde in– well, not the last time but 79 years ago it had a Mars Retrograde in Gemini in the last month of 1943. Which is in the middle of the Second World War, Uranus is in Gemini. This is the point where first of all things really sort of turn around with, you know, the African part of the war ends, Italy has switched sides, and the Tehran Conference where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill meet together for the first time, the first of two times, to plan amongst other things the D-Day landings, the second European front. Because Stalin is very eager for that to happen so he’s not fighting the Nazis all by himself. And then 79 years before the 1943 Mars Retrograde, you find yourself in 1864, which is the last month of the Civil War when Sherman is burning down Atlanta and the march through Georgia and South Carolina and basically really finishing off the South in these last months of the of the war.
So those are two really critical periods in those wars, where you had a Mars Retrograde in Gemini, in other words an extended transit of Mars through Gemini while Uranus was in Gemini. It’s also during the 1864 Mars Retrograde in Gemini when Lincoln wins re-election, you know? Because things would have gone very differently if he hadn’t won that election, and could very well have turned out that he didn’t. So there is something to what you’re saying. Sure, the Sibley chart has the Mars in Gemini, but actually Mars’s transit through Gemini while coincident with Uranus in Gemini has this long-standing relationship as well. It adds to the Uranus transit through Gemini.
CB: Yeah. Anyway, at the very least we can say a major transformation of the country historically in the last three times it’s happened, and also usually major conflict comes up that’s either external, internal or some combination of both.
ND: Yeah. To my mind I would– if I’m a guessing man, if I’m a betting man, which I’m not. But just if hypothetically I am, then I would be thinking it’s a combination of both this time. It’s like the Civil War and the Second World War happening at the same time. In some sense, not exactly the same thing.
CB: Yeah. I’m just animating the chart and looking at timeframes. You said 2025 is when Uranus goes in for the first time?
ND: Yeah. Which will be just after the next president is inaugurated. Just within a few months after the…
CB: There it is. It’s actually right after the solar return.
CB: It’s like July 4th, 2025 happens. Uranus is at 29-53 Taurus, and then bam, July 6th – July 7th, 2025 Uranus goes into Gemini?
ND: Yeah. There’s also a Saturn-Neptune conjunction and Pluto is also ingressed into Aquarius at that same time. There is a lot going on to be sure.
CB: A lot of people have talked about recently Saturn-Neptune conjunctions being really important for Russia, which is kind of interesting. We don’t have to go into that.
ND: Yeah. I’m sure it’s been covered. I think both Watson and Austin covered in their conversations with you.
ND: But it’s absolutely consistent.
CB: Yeah, and sort of gives some timeframes though. So 2025, mid 2025 first ingress of Uranus. It doesn’t regress, right? No.
ND: Yeah, it will.
CB: It will. Okay, nevermind. I’m just gonna go ahead and animate it. That’s the first ingress mid 2025, and then it’s going through Gemini for the next several years, and eventually it goes into Cancer… Do you know when the final ingress is?
ND: You know, I did nine years ago. [laughs] But yeah, it’s right around 2033.
CB: It’s like in May 2033?
ND: Yeah, that makes sense.
CB: Let’s see the Retrogrades one more time. It’s not gonna get far enough back.
ND: There is almost virtually always two ingresses, there’s almost always a regress. The only year I know of where there wasn’t was the ingress into Capricorn in 1905. Just because of where it was relative to the Sun, it never regressed to Sagittarius in that instance. But that’s very rare. It almost always has two ingresses.
CB: It looks like that. So, that uranus ingress there in May 21st-May 22nd, 2033. So that’s the end point for this in terms of that timeframe?
CB: Got it. Okay. Well, all right, good times. [laughter]
ND: Yeah, sorry to cheer everyone up.
CB: Yeah. I’m trying to think anything’s related to that. But maybe that’s official.
ND: If I can, we were talking about 2016, the last time we saw each other. And we, along with the rest of anyone else, astrologer or otherwise, who thought they knew how that election was going to go. Now, I knew for a long long time that Donald Trump had the Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini. And he was born on a lunar eclipse so he’s got the North Node there opposite the Moon in the South Node. I always saw that chart and thought, “Wow, this guy is really plugged into this broader American cycle of Uranus in Gemini.” And in fact, I did think about putting them in this book. And the reason I didn’t was because I was being very cute. This book has 84 pages. In other words, one page for you know, it’s supposed to represent the Venus [unintelligible]. I thought it was being very cute. But in being so cute, I was like, “Well, there’s no point in putting Donald Trump in this book because obviously he’s just like a side part to the story, it’s not like the guy’s ever going to be president or anything. That’s just unimaginable.”
CB: Right, he was the host of The Apprentice or something at the time.
ND: Right. But the other thing was when we were there in 2016 trying to anticipate the election, I could have picked him if the election was the 2024 election because in 2016, I’m not even thinking about who wins the 2016 election, I’m thinking about who wins the 2024 election. Because having written the book, I knew, “Okay, well, whoever wins the 2024 election will be inaugurated just prior to Uranus making the ingress to Gemini.” So 2016 wasn’t even on my radar, you know? I was there at a conference and I wanted people to attend my talk, so to promote my talk I took part in the silly panel thing and like everyone else, not a single astrologer picked him.
CB: Of that panel or anything?
ND: Of any of those. Yeah, of that panel or, you know? There were a lot of people, even non-astrologers who were betting on the wrong horse. But when it came to, you know, my eye was always on 2024. I think that’s another thing that ties into all this.
CB: Yeah. One of the things on the last forecast when I was talking this and expressing some of this to Austin, in the aftermath of some of the recent Supreme Court stuff and just the sudden shift in the Supreme Court and some of the decisions that are coming down there now, Austin tried to be, ironically, which is odd for Austin, the optimistic one in saying usually the country comes out better historically on the other end of the Uranus Return than when it went into it in terms of that transformation. And when I was trying to express some of the concern about like state of democracy and other things like that, he pointed out the rise of strong men type figures or a singular figure that takes the country through that period. And he was optimistically pointing to Roosevelt during World War Two or Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, which would be nice if there was a figure like that. But it just makes me nervous. Like the Pluto return and the other stuff happening, that what if it was like, you know, a strongman figure that’s not necessarily good for the country, per se?
ND: Austin’s not wrong, you know, in terms of the way things have played out. I’d like to be optimistic enough to think, “Yeah, when we get to 2033, the US may very well be in a much better place than where it has been for quite some time.” But holy moly, it’s just… What happens in between? I mean, if Lincoln and FDR were here right now they’d tell you it’s hell to go through.
CB: It was just like hundreds of thousands of deaths, what happened historically.
ND: Yeah. Any of us who are still around in 2033 might have plenty of cause to rejoice, most likely because we’ll have gone through something that would be unspeakable if we even knew what it could really be.
CB: Yeah. And then just coming out of the pandemic and stuff over the past few years, it’s been interesting seeing– because that was also obviously a real shock in terms of thinking about some of those things, and assuming up until recently that they were in the past. That plagues don’t just break out anymore, we’re not living in biblical times. And then 2020 hits and you know, surprise! Actually, like stuff that still happens.
ND: Not only does stuff like that still happen, but I think we all learned a lot more about each other in those two years than any of us really understood. Of our species, of our fellow brothers and sisters…
CB: Yeah. Of like when you’re watching a zombie apocalypse movie, you’re like, “That’s not realistic. People wouldn’t act like that when it turns out.”
ND: Right, exactly.
ND: They always say– or it’s something I’ve heard said that any society is always about two or three meals away from revolution at all times. And yeah, I mean, I’ve done a lot more reading since I did Uranus USA eight years– whatever it was, nine years ago. And I think what I understand better now, even before the pandemic hit but all the more so now, is just how quickly things can go from peaceful and normal to completely bonkers in no time. I mean, look, I’m like anyone else. I want us to survive and thrive and be okay. And hopefully I am. Hopefully this conversation sounds really ridiculous a decade from now. But a decade ago when I was doing this book, it seemed ridiculous to be almost, you know? I thought I was fear-mongering. I was worried. I was concerned that I was fear mongering. And that wasn’t my intention. But nine years ago when I did the book, I was concerned like, “Okay, maybe I’m just stirring a pot that doesn’t need to be stirred. Maybe this is all for naught.” Although now as we’re getting closer to 2025, none of this seems unthinkable, you know?
CB: Yeah, that was something I keep reflecting on a lot for the past couple of years. I feel like that astrologers’ land, the astrological community land is going into 2020. So much of the concern in the 20 or 30 years leading up to that in terms of astrologers has always been on being careful not to make overly negative or pessimistic statements or interpretations of the astrological transits for fear of unnecessarily freaking people out or having a negative psychological impact on people-
ND: -doing harm. I mean, we started this conversation talking about that, about the ethics of astrology. And that is important. And I certainly am not having this conversation nor did I write this book blind to that risk. I really do hope that’s a joke. Although yeah, because we’ve gone through the pandemic, it no longer seems quite so taboo to speak in these terms now.
CB: Well, because what we learned from the pandemic in 2020 was the opposite, you know, the worst case– not worst case scenario but the downside of the opposite end of if you sugarcoat stuff too much or if you downplay when you see some really heavy, tough astrological alignments coming up in the future, then people can be annoyed at you for the other reason, which is like, “Why didn’t you tell us?” Why didn’t you call it like you saw it?” And if you underplay something, I don’t know if I want to say that, can be just as damaging but there can be some inherent problems with that just as much as the other side.
ND: Yeah, my hope is… You know, anyone watching your podcast is an astrology student. Part of learning astrology, not unlike me sort of freaking myself out for 12 years worried about my progress solar eclipse, you know? And I see this time and again with astrology students is, it can trigger a lot of anxiety. That’s sort of a part of the process, is dealing with the anxiety you have over your limitations and speculating of what terrible things can happen to you because you’ve got this or that transit coming up, or this or that progression coming up. Unfortunately if you’re going to make the grownup decision to study astrology, you’re walking into territory where to some degree you’re walking into that zone. And you’re gonna do yourself a little bit of harm, you know, justified or not. You’re gonna freak yourself out.
CB: Right. Because sometimes knowing the worst case scenario, you can expect the worst case scenario but it could be less severe than that once you actually experienced.
ND: Oh, sure. That happens all the time. That probably happens more often than the reverse, thankfully. I just want to make these sober observations in the name of exploring astrology and how far astrology can go. And I want to have these conversations openly. I don’t want to talk about terrible outcomes just for the sake of it or because I want to freak myself or anyone else out. We’re studying the cycles of history. And history has got some really horrible bits in the past and there’s no reason– like you were saying about the pandemic, there’s no reason to think that all the terrible things that have happened in the past have somehow been transcended, that we’re somehow this different species. Unfortunately.
CB: All right. Or there was some idea even just a few years ago that globalism had solved the threat for there ever to be major international wars or conflicts because international economies are too interlinked at this point for countries to ever consider doing something that would threaten that just because of the economic catastrophe it would cause or self-harm that would cause an any country to do something like that. But even that’s now fallen apart over the course of the past year or two.
ND: Yeah. First of all, the reason we have that global order is because of what happened the last time Uranus was in Gemini. The United States created that global order in order to counteract the threat from the Soviet bloc to the point where even eventually most of the Soviet bloc countries wound up joining NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That system worked for a long time-
CB: Even the creation of the UN, you said was also Uranus in Gemini?
ND: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. But NATO has got more of a sort of strictly strategic and military model. But yeah, absolutely. The UN also facilitated so much of that peace. And virtually everyone alive. Okay, baby boomers they had to go through Vietnam, but that’s nothing compared to– apart from the individuals who suffered– nothing compared to the kinds of things we’re talking about now. Most of us have really lived through largely an era of peace and prosperity. And that’s going to be shaken up. If we’re ever going to get back to a peaceful model, it’s going to be because we have to sort things out between the years 2025 and 2033 particularly, although obviously we’re already sort of in the throes of that. As was the case in the other instances. I mean, Uranus in Taurus was, you know, the Spanish Civil War and the early part, the non-American part of the Second World War. And Uranus was in Taurus in the 1850s for instance, when the US forced Japan into a trade.
CB: That’s a really good point, though, you’re talking about the non-American part of World War Two, which is things like Poland being annexed by Germany.
ND: Yeah. Well, Germany and Russia. And the Russian war with Finland and the Battle of Britain, which is obviously huge. The invasion of France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway.
CB: So there’s a buildup in obvious precursors of things were already getting going by the time the US got involved when Uranus went into Gemini?
ND: Yeah, yeah. And there are ways, you know, Bleeding Kansas was Uranus in Taurus prior to the Civil War. And you can think of Bleeding Kansas as being a precursor to the American Civil War. In the same way you can think of the Spanish Civil War which was 1936 to ’39, and then the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the annexation of Poland and everything we just mentioned, all that Uranus in Taurus stuff leads up to America’s involvement when Uranus goes into Gemini. So yeah, there is a continuum here. Just because we’re looking to 2025, it doesn’t mean we’re not already staring this thing in the face in some way.
CB: Right. Or that the precursors leading up to it aren’t already happening, that will become more clear in retrospect.
ND: Yeah. Yeah.
CB: And then we’ve got that big eclipse, for some reason that came up yesterday, but then that in 2024 is the next great American eclipse. Well, we had that one back in 2017, which is just a few months after Trump was elected. I always think of that eclipse as sort of indicating the beginning of his presidency.
ND: I think of that eclipse as being exactly when I designed the Venus synodic Cycle model that we were looking at not long ago. [laughs] It was literally at the end of August of 2017.
CB: That was the more important thing.
CB: Yeah. We’ve got another one coming up in 2024 that again is going to be visible and will go across large parts of the US.
ND: Yeah. And it’s at 19 Aries, the exaltation degree of the Sun. Take what you will of that, a solar eclipse on the exultation of the Sun.
CB: Okay. The last one was in Leo, right?
ND: Yeah, with Regulus as I recall.
CB: Right. And ended up being right on Trump’s ascendant, which ended up in retrospect being something that would have been a good indication for his ascension at the time even though it was late and it occurred like six months into his presidency.
ND: Right. And my Mercury is on Regulus so that eclipse was on my Mercury when far more important creation of the Venus synodic Cycle model. [laughs] Sorry folks, a Leo’s gotta Leo.
CB: When historians look back on this period.
ND: Right. Trump shmump.
CB: All right, that’s pretty good, we’ve covered quite a quite a bit today. I’m trying to think of a lighter topic to end it on rather than just the impending global or at least country-related.
ND: Yeah. I know we want to talk about George Lucas, but I think that’s a whole nother day.
CB: Yeah, a whole other thing. Eccentric astrologers we’ve met over the years, we touched on a few of them already. That might be a whole other thing. Why don’t we end then to circle back around to the very, very beginning, we talked a little bit- I was always so interested by your note prep consultation and how you did years of that just like chop wood, carry water, almost like Karate Kid style astrology training of like no prep consultations and just doing this back to back to back. How many would you do in a day, let’s say on average?
ND: A good day was maybe three or four.
CB: Three or four consultations, okay. Over the past several years though, you switched to doing consultations in person and that’s been a major part of your focus.
ND: Yeah. Okay. Well, actually, let me go into the astrology of this because it works into the Venus retrograde and stuff, but this is a really great story. In June of 2015 prior to the Red Five Venus retrograde, which is Venus retrograde in Leo, which you know, I’m not going to go into my whole life story but that retrograde is always huge in my life, always huge my life.
CB: And it’s always been in your rising sign?
ND: Exactly. Venus and Jupiter were conjunct on Regulus in late June of 2015, and I saw that there was going to be this big astrology conference in Cape Town, South Africa. And I saw some of my friends like Sam Reynolds and Michelle Gould were gonna be there. So that day, Michelle got in touch with me and she said, “Nick, I want you to know I’m trying to get you added to the speakers list for this conference in South Africa but the speaker list is full, and the woman who’s running it is being kind of obstinate about adding new speakers.” That remark gets really funny in a minute. And I said to Michelle– she’ll back this up, I think I have the, you know, it’s on Facebook Messenger or something. I said to Michelle, “Michelle you’re telling me this on a day when Venus and Jupiter are conjunct Regulus?” I have a Venus-Jupiter conjunction in my birth chart, I started studying astrology during the Venus-Jupiter conjunction in 1995. I said, “So Michelle, you and I both know I am going to be at that conference,” which was an unbelievably arrogant thing to say in June of 2015, at which point I was not on the speaker’s list. Two months later at the end of August, one of the speakers backed out of the conference and I was suddenly added to the speaker’s list, and I was contacted by the woman who was organising it. A very nice woman named [Anna 00:10:59]. She invited me to the conference and I agreed to come, and in early November I showed up. We were there for two weeks at this beautiful outdoor conference close to Cape Point, and Anna and I spent a lot of time together and got along very well. Very well. So well that two months later, we all found ourselves at a conference in Calcutta, India, including Anna and myself and Michelle and Richard Fidler who had organised the conference with Anna. And after the conference in Calcutta, the four of us travelled all around India. We went to Varanasi, we went to Guala, we just had an amazing time. And over the course of that trip, Anna and I became romantically involved. And it went so well that when we went home we agreed that we wanted to stay together. So in April of 2016, I met up with Anna in Paris and we had a lovely five days in Paris. Then I flew to Cape Town with her and I basically moved to Cape Town then. And I’ve since married Anna, she’s now my wife, [laughs] that obstinate woman who didn’t want to add me to the speaker’s list. So, Anna has this holistic centre close to Cape Point where the Astrology Restored conference was held in November 2015. And having moved to Cape Town, I was able to avail myself to something I’d never had in my whole astrology career, which was a beautiful space to have in-person astrology consultations. It was something I always wanted. I mean, I became an online astrologer really out of necessity. It was just the only way to go at the time. But, you know, I had this beautiful spot and I spent the next few years doing in-person readings, and I started doing the things I had always wanted to do like preparing for consultations as opposed to just doing the jazz musician thing. Because I enjoy it and it’s a smart thing to do, even if you do have the ephemeris memorised.
CB: What are the some of the things you do for prep?
ND: I look at the the prior solar return, like the present solar return and the next solar return, so this year’s and next year’s. I look at whatever perfected signs and planets are involved and get that all sort of sorted out. I look at whatever eclipses are coming up. I look at the person’s secondary progress chart, you know, progress stations like we were discussing on an episode a few months ago. All that kind of stuff, the transits coming up for the coming year. And yeah, that’s the meat of it anyway of how I prepare. You know, half an hour, maybe a bit more. I got used to doing that and that worked great for about four years. Really loved it. Really loved doing in-person consultations and having the chance to experience them. And really falling in love with astrology all over again. Not that I’d fallen out with it, but I’d been doing the same thing for a long time and then I’d had that episode where my health was rough. And so I couldn’t be as passionate, it just wasn’t physically possible.
CB: And there’s something about sitting down and doing consultations with a complete stranger, applying the techniques, and then having them tell you and validate that. That way astrology really comes alive in a way that’s hard to explain or convey.
ND: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I had always been doing, prior to this I had always been doing consultations online but it was always by phone or Skype, it wasn’t video. I was never looking the person in the eye. It was a disembodied voice on a phone or an ear earphones or something. So suddenly really having that human interaction really made a difference, I found. And then COVID happened so I couldn’t really do that anymore. And so I got a new website up and I’ve been doing Zoom consultations. Which is still, I mean, I’m loving it. I’m not doing the jazz musician thing anymore, I prepare all my consultations, you know, the online ones. But now they’re video ones so I’m still looking the person in the eye even if I’m not in the same room with them. Even though it’s like it’s a shame to have that other things slip through my fingers, hopefully at some point it comes back my way. But it was another really beautiful and wonderful part of my evolution; the evolution of my practice is having the chance to do that.
CB: Yeah, that’s beautiful. And that’s brilliant. It’s like some of the things you ask in a consultation I know is, you know, if there’s an upcoming thing that’s coming up and somebody’s asking about it. And it’s like, for example, we know next summer there’s going to be that same Venus retrograde in Leo, right?
ND: The Red Five, yeah.
CB: Yeah, so you’ll what happened eight years ago during this timeframe and they’ll say, in some instances, “Wow, this was really a major important turning point and this is what happened.” And then you’ll say what happened eight years before that under the same retrograde. Sometimes if there’s a pattern that lines up, you can kind of extrapolate from that what will happen in the future.
ND: Yeah, exactly. And especially when I’m reading for astrology students, in Cape Town that wasn’t so much the case, I really was getting people sort of off the street, so to speak– ordinary folks who were coming to me for consultations. Online, I tend to get a lot more astrology students, for instance, the viewers of your podcast or this one source. That synodic cycle thing is really useful too, just because you’re giving it to people who are learning their astrology, and you’re giving something that they can always use. You know, long after, they’ll still be able to use it. If they’re still alive 40 years from now, they can still be looking at their synodic cycles. And the older you get, the more you can really appreciate how the pattern holds, and how it evokes certain themes that just keep coming up in a lifetime.
CB: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. All right. Well, you’re still doing consultations, your books are open?
ND: Yeah, I’m available for bookings, nickdaganbestastrologer.com/consultations. It’s very easy to book me online. I’m loving doing it, it’s going really well, and anyone who’s interested can come see me.
CB: Cool. Well, yeah, people should check out your website nickdaganbestastrologer.com. You’re also active, you have Twitter and Facebook and everything, right?
ND: I’m on Facebook, I’m on Twitter. Yeah. Facebook, I don’t do that much astrology stuff. That’s more just sort of pictures of my daughter and stuff like that. But sometimes I do things there as well. Twitter, I’m not like the world’s most prolific Tweeter, Tweep, but I’m working on it. [laughs]
CB: Do you remember what your handle is there?
ND: If you look for Nick Dagan Best you’ll find me on Twitter and Facebook, it’s easy with the three names. That’s why I use the three names, actually. [laughs] I never called myself Nick Dagan Best until Google was invented and I realised Nick and Best are both words in the English language, so using my middle name which is unique and it just sort of allowed me to be Google-able.
CB: Yeah, you don’t run into issues like I do where there’s like an MMA fighter, Chris Brennan, whose name is like Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan. [Nick laughs]
ND: I thought that was you. I’ve got a really good friend named Jay Cutler, he’s an actor. He’s an old old friend of mine. But there’s a wrestler named Jay Cutler, I think, or a body builder or something like that. And back in like 2003, I sent my Jay Cutler and a link of jaycutler.com. And then Jay wanted to have his own website and he said to me, “Nick, can you take down that website now?” And I’m like, “What? You thought that was a joke? You thought I designed a whole website just to make fun of your name? No, that’s a real dude. That’s a real website.” Anyway, I know a few of you guys who are unfortunate enough to have these common names.
CB: Yeah. A couple years ago, I got an invitation to the AA conference in the UK but they sent it to a plumber named Chris Brennan. [Nick laughs] Luckily, the plumber didn’t accept the invitation and I later found out during a Mercury Retrograde that there had been a miscommunication. But,
ND: It would have been funny if he turned out to be a better astrologer than you.
CB: Yeah, he just shows up and doesn’t talk. [laughter] And everyone is like, “This is kind of weird. Avant-garde talk for Chris Brennan. But, yeah.
ND: Well, you know there is a historian named Nicholas Best. He’s actually really good, he writes about like the First World War. I’ve got one of his books and there’s a couple others I intend to read. His name is Nicholas Best, which is crazy. So yeah, even I’m not safe. I don’t know if he has a website but I just happened to come across his books.
CB: Okay. Well, people should not accidentally buy his books. Hopefully, at some point you’ll have the revised version of-
ND: -the second edition. It’ll either be just a second edition Uranus USA, or the bigger plan is to have a book called What’s Up Uranus, which incorporates Uranus, USA, along with the stuff I was talking about Russia and France. But I just got to see how the size works out because if it winds up being too thick then we’ll have to break it up.
CB: Right. Cool. All right. Well, I’ll be looking forward to it. Thanks for joining me today.
ND: Thank you, Chris.
CB: All right. And thanks, everyone, for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast and we’ll see you again next time.
Special thanks to all the patrons that helped to support the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on patreon.com. In particular, shoutout to the patrons on our producers’ tier including Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Issah Sabah and Jake 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 outline 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 Almanacs available at honeycomb.co, and the Astro Gold Astrology App which is available for iPhone and Android. You can find out more information about that at astrogold.io. There is also a major astrology conference happening this year that’s being hosted by the International Society for Astrological Research, and that’s happening August 25th through the 29th 2022 in Westminster, Colorado. You can find out more information at isar2022.org.