The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 426, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Madeline DeCotes
Episode originally released on November 12, 2023
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released December 4th, 2023
Copyright © 2023 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Joining me today is Madeline DeCotes from the Honeycomb Collective Almanacs, and we’re gonna be doing a casual astrology chat today here in the studio in Denver. So, hey, thanks for joining me.
MADELINE DECOTES: Hey, Chris, thanks so much. It’s an honor to be here.
CB: Yeah, we’ve met a couple times before in person at conferences and stuff, but this is your first time in Denver.
MD: Yeah, yeah, first time. I had mentioned I’d been in Boulder a little bit but not Denver proper, and certainly not the recording studio where the magic happens.
CB: Yeah. And you famously did the ‘Capricorn’ episode with me and Diana. We did that—that was like a year ago now.
MD: Yeah, I think it was. It was actually January of this year.
CB: Wow. Okay, that’s crazy. Time flies. So, yeah, we’ve got a bunch of different topics we’re gonna do. I’ve been doing these casual astrology chats where I have people out to the studio and kind of recreate what it’s like to just sit down with an astrologer and talk and get to know them and talk about some things that are on our mind right now. So, yeah, the past month of astrology has been kind of intense with all the eclipses and everything and everything happening in world events and studying all that. I just released “Eclipses: Part 2” today, and, yeah, I feel like we’ve found a good methodology for that. Have you ever done much with eclipses in the past? Or have eclipses been very important for you in your life?
MD: Yeah, definitely personal eclipses I’ve tracked for about as long as I’ve been studying astrology, which was only since 2017, but the take on mundane events with eclipses I think is super interesting. I’ve kind of just started listening to that episode that you did with Nick Dagan Best, and all of the ancient significations about the deaths of leaders at those times and such makes a lot of sense, especially in terms of what would be the most exciting, scary, visible, celestial phenomenon that ancient people would have been observing.
MD: It feels like it’s almost the origins of astrology in that way.
CB: Yeah, that’s kind of what we found, that there may have been like these three kings that died in succession thousands of years ago and that might have been when people first started paying attention to there’s something going on here.
MD: Absolutely. I’m assuming as well if it was an observable eclipse from those locations, how much more insane that would be to ancient people.
CB: Yeah, for sure. Just ‘cause the light is just visibly like snuffed out for a time. And I think that was one of the things that I’ve come to understand over the past few years, why that symbolism so much then connects with some of the not-good, sometimes negative things associated with eclipses.
MD: Totally. It’s spooky. Did you observe the North American Eclipse that happened in 2017?
CB: Yeah, I didn’t go to the exact path of totality, but Leisa and I did go out to the local park here and watched it and it is, and it is eerie. You’re in the middle of the day, you’re hanging out and it’s a bright sunny day, and then all of a sudden it’s nighttime or dusk at the very best case.
MD: Yeah. I didn’t go to complete totality either, but it was 99-point-something-percent where I was at the time in Portland, Oregon.
MD: And for a while you see the kind of ‘snaky’ light shimmering on the ground, and then, like you were saying, everything goes dark or relatively close to dark. And I noticed that the animals were silent or sort of that feeling of all of a sudden there’s, yeah, a little bit of a dip of nighttime, even the animals were kind of observing it in this way.
CB: For sure.
MD: So, yeah, you think of how potent that is for just all of life really, how disturbing that moment is in this way.
CB: Yeah, for sure. That it’s like throwing something off. And that gives you a glimpse of the chaotic energy that sort of surrounds eclipses sometimes, which has been very evident lately. I mean, one of the things I like is I have a thing now where I can just explain it easily. Like I went to a coffee shop recently I was talking to the barista and he’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “I’m doing a podcast on eclipses.” And he’s like, “Okay, well, what’s interesting about that?” And I’m like, “Well—
MD: Let me tell you—
CB: “Yeah, Let me tell you the top 10-20 historical events that all coincide with eclipses.” And the further you go down that list, the more and more of their jaw drops, and it’s just like, wow. I feel like because you can convey it so easily that it could be one of those things where somebody’s ears could perk up, and they could really be like, “Maybe there is something to astrology, maybe that’s something I should look into more,” whereas sometimes maybe it’s harder to make that case. Even though I always think transits are the most compelling piece of astrology, sometimes it’s hard to tell a person like, “Well, you just need to watch your transits over a five-year period and then you’ll see how astrology works and how interesting it is.”
MD: It’s true. It’s like, “Hey, casual skeptic. Have you ever just tried meticulously studying your natal chart and transits for five years? Then you’ll know.”
CB: Well, yeah. And they’re like, “No, why would I do that?”
CB: Like, “Well, because it works,” and they’re like, “No, it doesn’t.”
MD: I know.
CB: Yeah, so eclipses could be a good breakthrough, in-between stage. Some of those are going viral on TikTok and stuff, so that’s fun.
MD: True. I mean, not to be hammering in I guess the potentially malefic nature of eclipses, but when we do look at maybe those ancient associations where eclipses are more chaotic in nature—as compared to perhaps sometimes the modern take where they might interpret eclipses as like a supercharged New Moon or Full Moon—I think it helps to understand the nature of eclipses when we do look at them as something that’s maybe beyond your control or beyond your best efforts to try to manifest something fortunate in your life something. Suddenly you just kind of hang back and see what the gods are and what kind of ride they’re taking you along for at that point in your life.
CB: Yeah, for sure. And that’s been a famous tension on the podcast over the years ‘cause I always have leaned more towards the more modern interpretation of eclipses, which I still think is valid. My keywords have always been ‘great beginnings’ and ‘great endings’, but sometimes the greatest ending that you can have to something is like the end of a life cycle of something and that can be, when you’re experiencing it, a very devastating negative event even if in the long term like positive things come out of it. So I’m starting to understand finally the sort of bridge between those two, of the ancient more malefic view and the modern, sort of more positive or at least cyclical view.
MD: I think that makes sense. And it kind of goes into maybe a take that I’m interested in discussing about maleficence in general, which is that we tend to look at malefic events as sort of isolated like, “Oh, no, a tragedy happened,” for instance. But every tragedy or every loss is often paired with a beginning. What do you do after a great ending in your life? Some other chapter begins. So even if something in the chart or in the transit is on the surface or at the time experienced as malefic, it could still be like, oh, well, in the end, I needed to leave that person, or I needed to leave that place, I needed to end that job. Whatever the thing is that’s dying, yeah, it can be sad at the time but then eventually be reflected upon as something beneficial in the long run.
CB: Yeah, or at least it can act as like a catalyst for change to push you in a direction you wouldn’t have gone otherwise—
CB: —and there can be positive things that grow out of even sometimes very devastating events.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. And I guess while still holding space for the mourning of the loss of whatever that thing is, recognizing that, yeah, you might be, like you were saying, kind of catalyzed or propelled towards something different, which could end up being something fortuitous in your life.
CB: Right, for sure. So that was kind of connected with a couple of the topics that you wanted to mention today, right? Like there was one about benefics and malefics and one about mundane astrology. You said something Patrick and I had mentioned, about something happens but you just don’t know yet or that it’s not clear.
MD: Yeah, I thought that was a really interesting point in your casual chat with Patrick, just talking about how transits aren’t always obvious, too. And especially because there’s so many happening all the time—the mundane transits, your personal transits—you can’t possibly really keep track of all of the data at once; maybe if you’re living in some kind of Neptunian space where you can take in and just see metaphors everywhere all the time, but I liked the point that you brought up with Patrick. I guess Patrick—not to keep referencing him—but he had mentioned that there was an eclipse in his 5th house, and he didn’t notice anything super obvious at the moment, but then later realized that his future stepchild had been born at that time, and it was a 5th house eclipse. So something monumental might have happened related to the 5th house but it didn’t come to be in his conscious awareness until later.
CB: Yeah, that’s huge. I mean, that’s something I’ve studied really extensively over the years ‘cause there’s many different techniques and because astrology encompasses both the things that are within your field of vision, but also the things that are not within your field of vision that still affect you, and I think that’s the most important thing. Sometimes there’s techniques that are telling you something really important that’s going to affect your life right now but you just may not be aware of it yet, or it may be setting a ball in motion that will come into your field of view years later once it becomes more clear or more important to you.
MD: That’s true. And then I guess the way that you prioritize transits as well. Like using time-lord techniques to identify which planets are going to be the loudest or the biggest manifestations of significant personal experiences versus which transits or which planets might have something just kind of like small and silly to say.
CB: Right, for sure.
MD: Yesterday, I was in Phoenix with my friend, the astrologer Sara Diehl, and we were having a spa day, getting facials. And she looked at the chart of the moment and lamented that Venus was not yet in Libra for a beauty-related treatment thing. And I said, “Well, I mean, Venus in Virgo feels also like a spa kind of situation. It’s related to health and such.” And I noticed while I was receiving the facial that the clinician was giving me this scientific data about the nature of antioxidants being applied to the skin, and how it can heal the body of free radicals or cells that are like losing an electron or chemically-imbalanced. And I thought, “Oh, that’s so fascinating. I’m really happy to be learning the science behind this beauty treatment. And she went, “Yeah, that was the most exciting thing for me to learn in aesthetician training as well.” And then I thought to myself, “I wonder if she has Venus in Virgo. This feels like a very ‘Venus in Virgo’ moment right now, learning the science behind the beauty.”
CB: Yeah, I like that.
MD: It’s like a cute little signification like that could occur as a simple manifestation of a transit.
CB: Yeah, for sure. And sometimes that happens with personal transits too. Like you may have a difficult-looking transit come, and then you cut yourself or you stub your toe or something and it’s more limited in scope versus having a similar transit but having it activated as a time-lord, and then all of a sudden it’s like you lose your job or there’s a loss of a loved one or something like that; like the full range of things is there.
MD: Absolutely. It’s one of those things. I guess whenever I consult with, say, our customers who are wanting to know how to synthesize or streamline all of the data that’s available about personal transits, I just tell them start with a particular time-lord, just follow only transits to that planet or from that planet, or just start with your ascendant ruler so that you can manage I guess the insane amount of data that astrologers can potentially be trying to analyze or track at any given time.
CB: Yeah, well, let’s talk about that a little bit and maybe introduce you more to my audience who’s not familiar with you. So you are the owner of the company the Honeycomb Collective that makes the Honeycomb Collective Almanacs that we’ve promoted over the years here on the podcast and that has been a sponsor on the show. And one of the things I really love about the almanacs is that they’re personalized instead of being generalized like most astrological almanacs have been up until recently, where you go in and buy one and it’s just gives you the data of the astrology for the year but it doesn’t necessarily connect it to your birth chart. Whereas in your approach, you found a way to computerize things to create individual printed almanacs for individuals, that actually tells them their personal transits.
MD: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I guess the idea is that, sure, you can generate a report using software to get that similar data, but just when you’re out in the field taking notes about your life, it’s so much more convenient and sometimes more pleasant or even easier to do a bit of a reflection process if you have something physically, like a notebook, in front of you. At least I find that it helps me to do more deep thinking if I’m working with an analog device versus a digital device. So, yeah, we found that that would potentially be a useful tool for other astrologers. Literally, at the time that we came up with the idea, I was bullet journaling and just like doing the thing where you meticulously go through an ephemeris for each day and just try to calculate which planets are in aspect to your natal transits and then write them all out by hand. And as any person with Virgo placements knows, well, that’s a fun process. It takes a long time to complete, and that’s time that you could be using to synthesize the data rather than just record it.
CB: Yeah. And that’s such a crucial stage early on in everybody’s studies, where you just obsessively observe and note what happens during like every transit that you have every day, over a long period of time, ‘cause that’s really when astrology comes alive. And you learn it probably the best that way by applying it and seeing it work in your personal life.
MD: Absolutely. And I feel like you get the ‘astrology’ fever, you get the magic. I guess the world starts to feel a bit more enchanted in that way because you’re almost playing a game with yourself where you’re like ‘spot the archetype’. What happened to me today that I can correlate with the just archetypal symbols that are coming through? What might happen to me tomorrow, or this coming week, or this month, this year? I guess, ideally, as a person with a lot of 5th house placements, the more we can gamify life for the study of astrology, the better.
CB: Yeah. And it sets up an expectation that you do the calculations or you get an almanac and you see what the transits are that are coming, and then you formulate an idea of what you think that means or should manifest in your life based on your understanding of astrology. And then you actually get there and you experience that day or that week or that month and you see how it actually works out and how it either fits your expectation or how your expectation was off and needs to be modified. But it’s such a great learning experience that that really is the core of learning astrology in that way.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. And with our product, I mean, it doesn’t contain any interpretations, unless you add the Hellenistic plugin. You’ll get a little bit of planetary condition analysis, which could be considered interpretive. But other than that it’s up to the user to decide whatever methodology they’re wanting to focus on—whatever astrological technique or tradition they’re studying—and to just use it as a study tool really rather than as a predictive tool that’s already been written by someone else that is telling you what to think; you can practice speaking the language of astrology yourself.
CB: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, that’s really important. And one of the things you’ve done that’s really unique is the visualization and the graphic design of how to visualize transits in the chart and things, and that has also been pretty important to you.
MD: Yeah, yeah. I come from a background as a communications information designer and really enjoyed just taking abstract, maybe scientific data or communications data and finding how to make it simpler, more digestible, especially for the goal of just teaching or helping people learn. So that’s something that in the coming years I’d like to spend more time on as well, just developing even more tools that can help all of the people who are getting into astrology—help them kind of onboard more quickly, I guess.
CB: That makes sense. Yeah, that’s a nice goal. I like that, how to onboard more quickly and effectively, ‘cause I think that’s one of the things newer students are running into as an issue. Back in my day, as the older people say, there were so few resources that everybody tended to draw on the same ones, and then there would be different variations within that that people would take, but everybody would start in the same place essentially with like the same like 5 or 10 books and websites. But nowadays there’s such a vast array of different websites and social media sources and traditions and approaches and everything else that people are kind of overwhelmed and seem to struggle with where to start or how to learn astrology and what to focus in on.
MD: Yeah, and it’s understandable, ‘cause, yeah, it was one of those major hurdles I remember as I was starting to learn astrology; even just pinpointing, “Wait, which astrology is the true astrology?” as if there has to be an absolute truth, like a most correct version of astrology or most correct house system, etc. So coming to realize and accept that there is variance across cultures or across time periods—across teachers, across schools of thoughts—and then deciding for yourself or just deciding according to whatever material is locally available to you or digitally available how you will begin your studies, or at what point you might expand to trying to conceptualize all of the possible different schools of thoughts, I think is interesting. And I’m pretty passionate at this point in time about I guess helping create more tools that can onboard people with Hellenistic astrology just because the way in which the theoretical rationale for the planetary significations and the aspects and the sign-based aspects helps a lot when people are just starting to learn, rather than having to memorize a bunch of seemingly incoherent archetypal symbols and house topics. In my opinion, as a critic, there’s that inherent structure that I think can help people learn astrology faster.
CB: Yeah, for sure. It helps to have that structure and the simplification and then to get into greater complexity rather than to start with just the huge amount of complexity of modern astrology and then try to go backwards, even though that’s how I started. And there can be something interesting about that and pros and cons whatever direction you take.
CB: Yeah, there’s something helpful about the structure of Hellenistic astrology I’ve always found. And I’ve come to a new place recently where I kind of revise my book list every few years. But right now on my current book list Chani’s book is number one as my primary recommended book for beginners, and then I think they can go from there to my book and just get right into Hellenistic astrology. Once you’ve had Chani’s synthesis of modern and ancient as a primer then you can get right into Hellenistic, and then you can go forward in time into modern astrology and learn some of the different approaches in psychological astrology and things like that.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. I agree, Chani’s book—what’s it called? Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance.
CB: That’s the subtitle. But the title is—
MD: I’m sorry, Chani. Just search ‘Chani Nicholas’. It’s readily available, I’m sure.
CB: Right. Yeah, it’s putting me on the spot now. It’s ‘For Yourself: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance’.
CB: Oh, man, you’re killing me right now.
MD: I’m so sorry. I did it to myself, too. I was like, “Don’t reference anything because you’re too tired and you won’t be able to remember it. It’s a good book.
CB: Yeah, yeah.
MD: ChaniNicholas.com. Her app as well I think is probably the number one app that I would recommend for people who are trying to get a more informed or more well-rounded natal chart analysis as a primer point. Because she’ll actually include—or her writers will say it’s not just a translation of your Sun sign, it also includes aspects to your Sun, aspects to the other planets. It’s a bit more nuanced, yeah, than your average synthesis.
CB: For sure. I’m an Android user. It hadn’t been available for years, it was just iPhone. But now that it came out on Android in August, I’ve been super impressed and excited that the app is available to everybody now, and, yeah, how useful it is as the primary app that anybody that does Hellenistic and other stuff, like we do, would recommend as the main one.
MD: Certainly for beginners learning to study their own natal chart. I think if it gets to the point where you need to draw charts or you need to look up transits in advance or, yeah, keep a record of friends and family, then you’ll need to move on to something like Time Passages or Astro Gold, etc.
CB: Yeah, getting professional software. You Were Born For This, that was the title.
MD: That’s it. Like ‘Astrology and Your Birth—’
CB: Yeah, Planets in Transit by Chani Nicholas.
CB: That’s a famous 1970s author.
MD: Exactly. At least we didn’t do that. Like maybe we were thinking of Astrology for Yourself, Demetra George’s early 2000s book, which I did want to add. I love Astrology in Theory and Practice, Demetra’s latest textbook series—
CB: Yeah, for sure.
MD: —for people that are getting deeper into their Hellenistic studies.
CB: Yeah, for sure. It goes into more detail in a bunch of areas, like the solar phase cycle, that I didn’t get into. Which kind of circles us back around ‘cause we’re talking about transits that you see manifest versus ones you don’t. And Hellenistic astrology had a way of distinguishing that, which was like planets under the beams are things that are hidden or not seen, and things that are not too close to the Sun are the things that are visible. But I think that’s why eclipses more than any other major thing often have that sense of starting with small origins or little beginnings that aren’t readily apparent at the time, especially a solar eclipse that’s involving the Moon coming under the beams of the Sun.
MD: Yeah. I’m just thinking of personal examples of that. Just the major eclipses in life where you might be able to tell that something new is beginning but you don’t know just exactly how huge or how impactful it’s going to become—like the long-lasting potential—as opposed to maybe your casual New Moon where maybe it’s just a smaller manifestation, I guess, not the demarcation of a huge, new life chapter.
CB: Right, for sure, for sure. All right, what are some of the other topics we meant to get into?
MD: In our outline I was suggesting some of the stuff around what it’s like to work in astrology, what are the possibilities for research in astrology in the coming years, what does it mean about life in the universe that astrology is a thing.
CB: Let’s start there ‘cause that was something Nick and I almost touched on at the end of the last episode of the ‘eclipses’ thing where we started getting into it. What are the implications of this? Even if you only stick with the eclipses part—obviously you can expand it—why is this working like that, especially with eclipses? Why do major world events, why do major individual events coincide with the movement of the planets so regularly and so constantly?
MD: Yeah, it boggles the mind to guess. There are a few different schools of thought that I’ve been considering—one is that perhaps the animistic worldview is a correct worldview. The dominant or maybe primordial beginnings of human spirituality is to just assume that we live in an enchanted universe, or that everything in nature, everything in the universe is somehow alive or somehow resonant with the individual spirit. Something that I think Richard Tarnas mentions at the beginning of Cosmos and Psyche, that the postmodern sense of self is very different than the ancient sense of self: how the self relates to the world around it and whether or not the world is influenced by or responding to the individual self.
CB: Yeah, so the universe is alive is one of the possible conclusions or premises.
MD: Exactly. Essentially that there’s I guess no separation really between say the observer and the observed, or the ‘as above, so below’ principle that just everything is symbolic in nature, which sort of becomes the reality as you study astrology. You notice that you could categorize just about everything as belonging to some archetypal principle or ideal or planet. And so I guess this premise would be that the universe is just archetypally-imbued with meaning and symbolism, and different human cultures at different times might create symbolic meaning that reflects their culture or their worldview, but the potential to find meaning in everything is just a component of reality.
CB: Yeah, that’s one of the ancient views in different cultures. Actually I did more this year with Mesopotamian astrology, I did one on Mayan astrology, and now most recently some of the eclipse stuff, and then researching a little bit some of the different indigenous traditions surrounding eclipses. It does seem like there’s an underlying thing in different parts of the world that’s tied in with systems of divination, just the notion that nature gives signs and omens of things that are either happening in the present or coming up in the future and that those signs can be read. If you understand what information or what language is being conveyed, you may be able to know something about the future before it happens.
MD: Absolutely. Yeah, and it seems as though, in our day and age, we take for granted this idea that the universe is like a cold, dead place outside of ourselves and our own minds. We can’t truly say that anything exists—almost like this solipsism, however you say that word. But in ancient cultures, and even in modern cultures, probably up until the Enlightenment or the Scientific Revolution, that was not the case; it was not taken for granted. The world was not thought of as inherently neutral or a neutral place or a place devoid of personal meaning or emotional meaning, or a place that might reflect one’s own—I don’t know. Just the idea that the universe is dead versus the universe is alive was kind of an interesting shift in Western culture, in particular.
CB: Yeah, I mean, I think over the years I’ve started to realize that one of the biggest philosophical differences and one of the biggest things that astrology represents that’s different than the contemporary scientific, and especially skeptical paradigm, is that premise that you can see really quickly when you’re contrasting astrology with what often astronomers will state very emphatically—that the universe is dead, but more specifically that our lives are meaningless. Not meaningless, but have no purpose, or there is no grand scheme of things. That our lives are not embedded in a greater narrative or sequence of meaning and purpose and that things like fate don’t exist. That the world is just chaotic, and life is chaotic and random and essentially meaningless, except for the meaning that we sort of apply to it subjectively, but that it has no otherwise objective meaning.
And I think astrology does present a really different worldview in its fundamental premise because the fundamental premise that’s inescapable from astrology is that for some reason there are some things in our lives that are fated or destined to occur from the moment of birth. And once you start seeing that and you see your transits, you see how the birth chart describes some aspect of life ahead of time, when you see major events like eclipses coincide with some of the most important events in a person’s life—where they truly find their destiny or their life’s work or what have you—you realize that concepts like destiny and meaning and purpose do exist out there in some sort of objective way. And I think that does present a much different worldview than we’re used to most of the time with some of the current paradigms.
MD: Absolutely. And especially in Western culture or even in American culture where there’s such an emphasis on individual freedom or individual manifestation principles, I guess, which can be super interesting to study. But I guess it almost is—what am I trying to say? It’s un-American to believe in fate.
CB: Yeah, well, that makes sense in the sense of ideas of freedom and liberation. Ideas of free will get tied in with ideas of liberation and political autonomy and things like that, which we view obviously as good because the opposite, lack of freedom, lack of political autonomy, is experienced pretty much universally by humans as something that’s negative. And definitely one of the hard sells about astrology sometimes is if you try to tell somebody that all the bad things that are ever gonna happen or did happen in your life were all predetermined or something like that, that automatically comes off as something people don’t necessarily want to hear, even if they would be open to the other side of that, which is like all the good things and all the best things in your life that have happened or will happen were destined to occur. If you use a different term, like destiny, we tend to have less negative connotations with that compared to terms like fate. But you’re right. There is something there that culturally we struggle with a little bit, at least as far as I know, with American culture or what have you.
MD: Yeah, it makes me think of a couple of things, and one is that we know that our culture is very averse to talking about death in a certain way, like maybe in a personal way where we don’t have a lot of tools to process maybe personal tragedies. There’s sort of an emphasis on say positive psychology or optimistic outlooks you could say because of how much the experience of negative emotions can affect your productivity as a worker or for whatever reason that this culture came about. But I feel as though there’s almost like the fear of perhaps Saturn principles. And there’s this way in which when you look at fate, it has this very Saturnian connotation to it, as though you can’t escape; Saturn represents those things. I guess you can’t escape your fate. You can’t modify your fate. This is final. This is what is determined, what you’ve been handed. Your lots have been cast, and so now you just have to live it.
CB: Yeah, ‘cause it shows a structure or framework of the person’s life, but then it also would show certain limits or limitations. And we naturally tend to strive a little bit against limitations or want to push the limits, or don’t want to be inhibited by anything.
MD: Right. Yeah, it’s almost like that’s our cultural ethos, the striving beyond. Push the limits. Push yourself personally. Try to achieve personal greatness. And there’s a lot of emphasis on the individual again to do that, to take that upon themselves, to take on that journey of manifesting their will in the world. Like become a billionaire. Become a self-made man. That I think is so much more culturally emphasized here than it is say in other parts of the world where there’s more of a collectivist mindset. You’re born into a family, and you represent that family, and you need to consider other people’s circumstances or consider perhaps, yeah, the limitations of your fate a bit more.
CB: Yeah, I don’t know enough about other cultures to speak on that in terms of how other cultures conceptualize things or if that’s different. Because I do think there’s just basic human principles that we all have to a certain extent in terms of liking freedom and liberation and not liking to some extent liberation being oppressed or what have you, and it seems like that striving for freedom is a natural human quality that everyone shares to a certain extent. But, yeah, so that is interesting though, the positive and negative sides of that and how astrology comes in and some of the implications it has for our lives. Yeah, I am interested to see how people deal with that, for example, with the eclipses thing, if that’s their first introduction to astrology, and what implications they do draw from that. ‘Cause the biggest thing is eclipses and other astronomical calculations—you can calculate like hundreds or thousands of years in advance what transits are gonna occur on a certain day. And there is something about that that’s very almost set in stone, that that transit’s gonna happen at that time one way or another.
MD: Yeah, unless we blow up Mars.
CB: Right, which is possible.
CB: There’s a movie, like a time travel movie, where they blew up the Moon at one point which was not good.
MD: Not a good idea. No, not recommended.
CB: Not great.
MD: I guess I got kind of Saturnian with that whole conversation. I wanted to say that personally I’m super comforted by the notion of fate, that there is a certain element of predetermination to life because it relieves the pressure, in a certain way. ‘Cause if you’re only counting on yourself and your individual actions and your relative ability to make your will become evident in the world around you, it could be very disappointing if you’re unable to do that. And there’s a certain degree to which I think that the natal chart can kind of indicate whether or not—like how strong is your Sun, etc., these types of things—to, I don’t know, there’s something about that. You see a lot of people struggling to try to accomplish something, and it can be comforting to say it’s a struggle right now at this time, but at a different time it will be less of a struggle. So chill out. Just bide your time a little bit.
CB: Sure. Yeah, there’s definitely something to be said about the acceptance of that if you’re going through a difficult time and the astrology being able to tell you a rough timeframe for when it might end or when there might be a period that’s different than it is now. For sure there’s something helpful about that. There may have been something over the past few centuries about modern astrology though and the liberatory nature of that that was useful in pushing us forward a little bit. Because even in embracing fate, you still have to sometimes act as if you have the ability to do things ‘cause you don’t always know 100% what your exact limitations are. And even if you have a pretty good idea astrologically, it’s important still to push the boundaries of that and to see how far you can go because you don’t want to give into fatalism, which is like the other side of things.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. And you don’t want to rule out the possibility that there is a degree of free will in terms of that; it’s pretty hard to exactly pinpoint how the archetypes will manifest. And that there’s remediation techniques. So does using some kind of remediation technique more or less mitigate your fate in a way or skew it more towards the benefic scale rather than the malefic? That’s interesting I guess as a potential topic to study further to look into perhaps for us in the modern era.
MD: How much can we swing things one way or the other?
CB: Yeah, well, that was a really interesting thing about the Mesopotamian tradition of the eclipses, the idea that they had the ‘substitute king’ ritual. They would be like, well, if it says the king’s gonna die then let’s swap out the king for a month. And the idea is that the symbolism has to manifest somehow, but we might be able to direct it or redirect it in a way that’s a little bit better than what the worst-case scenario could be for us subjectively. And that is a really interesting idea, and it would be interesting if that was something that they discovered back then that is still relevant—that you can channel the energy or channel the significations if you are aware of them. That does open up some interesting possibilities.
MD: Yeah, I’m still looking forward to that Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Substitute King’.
CB: Yeah. Although I still want to star in it.
CB: It’s a packaged deal. It’s like the movie, but also I have to be the guy that is taken for the substitute king ritual, but then through my charm and just dashing good looks and everything, will end up becoming the king at the end and staying king. So that’s the plan.
MD: Yeah, we need to cast somebody as the original king who was universally unlikable so that we know to root for the substitute king.
CB: Right. Yeah, yeah, I have some ideas but—
MD: You’re not naming any names.
CB: I’ll work on that. I’ll think about that.
MD: Coming summer 2024.
CB: Right. So let’s move on to some other areas. Other topics you had mentioned that we could talk about were things like innovation and research in astrology and what’s possible in research now that wasn’t at previous points in history.
CB: So, yeah, that’s been a big topic recently when I was doing all this eclipse research. I was shocked—‘cause originally I thought about doing that episode last month—and I thought at first I could just Google it and there would already be a ton of people that have looked at eclipses in history that coincide with major events, and there was very little out there. So that assumption was surprisingly foiled at the beginning, but then another assumption I made was that I could use ChatGPT or AI and just get it to spit out a list of like the top 10 events that coincided with eclipses in history. That also quickly turned out not to be true because ChatGPT famously will just come up with answers that are just wildly wrong, but it will present them being sure of it, as if that’s for sure. I tried to get around it, I tried to give it the dates and then ask it what dates correlated with it, but it still just kept messing up. So it seems like we’re on the cusp of a huge revolution in terms of astrological research but it’s not quite there yet. But we can kind of see it’s something that’s on the horizon, where we can almost touch it, but it’s still a little ways off.
MD: Yeah, I agree. It feels like in the age of air that we’re in now that it’ll be one of those things that probably develops relatively quickly, especially with the huge influx of people with very various skill sets and backgrounds coming into astrology now. It’s like the more diverse the ecosystem of people who are studying astrology then, yeah, obviously the more diverse skill sets that will be applied towards innovation. Yeah, and I guess the thing that I was particularly excited about in contemplating is the fact that in the near future we could potentially reference everyday people’s charts rather than celebrity charts that are recorded in an astro database because of all the people who are potentially recording personal data about their experiences: either their own natal interpretations or their life events that correlate with astrological timings. Like how cool would it be if the astrological community shared a public database of just our personal notes, and then you could have a much larger sample size for instance of how various transits manifest in very specific ways.
CB: Yeah, yeah. I mean, one thing that’s cool is we’re definitely at a point where people’s lives are or can be documented much more thoroughly than in the past.
CB: There’s people like vloggers that are documenting their lives every day and therefore have just an amazing archive or database that you can draw on if you’re trying to then study their lives through the lens of astrology that would be much different compared to trying to study somebody’s life 100 years ago or what have you.
MD: Yeah, it’s like a perfect storm for being able to get much more specific with predictions because of, again, the large sample size that might be possible; being able to pinpoint just exactly which angle or which type of ascendant sign or which placement of this planet correlates with this specific type of experience and the range of possible experiences associated with that planet. Yeah, that’s super cool to imagine.
CB: Yeah, for sure. I was thinking about that recently and realizing I want to go back and start writing. I started it years ago but I didn’t keep up with it, just writing down concisely every transit experience that I had, and I was thinking about that again recently. Especially with the forecast episodes, we’ve built up such an archive over the years. We always do a forecast each month and then we spend the first hour—or we spend the second hour sort of looking at the future and looking at the transits coming up, and then a month later we’ll spend the first hour of the next episode going back and seeing how it turned out. And we’ve learned and compiled so much through that process that we sometimes then go back on and mention it sort of randomly when it seems relevant. But it would be nice to compile that more thoroughly as a list of like, well, the last time Mars squared Saturn this happened, or the time before that, this was the major event we were talking about or what have you.
MD: Totally. Yeah, ‘cause at the moment it’s not very searchable to get that data. You could put your podcast transcripts into some kind of database that would make them searchable.
MD: But you’re right that especially in the forecast episodes you are discovering and documenting such amazing predictions. I’ve been referencing the famous year ahead forecast for 2020, and I still remember watching that and just laughing at Austin talking, or in a little break mentioning to Kelly like, “So aside from hiding out in a bomb shelter, what are you gonna be doing in 2020?”
MD: And I’ll reference that to non- astrologer friends when they asked me, “So what did astrologers say about 2020?” It’s like, “Well, a very famous astrologer in November 2019 asked another very famous astrologer how they would be spending their time in the bomb shelter. It seems pretty accurate.”
CB: Yeah. Well, the most famous line from that was we were joking that there will be no hugging in the third week of March of 2020.
MD: That’s right. Kelly was just like it’s the ‘anti- cuddle’ aspect when Mars comes into Capricorn and sets everything off.
CB: Yeah, when we had that huge conjunction and classic lineup of planets like Mars and Jupiter and Saturn and Pluto.
MD: Totally. That conjunction was all on top of my ascendant in Capricorn, and I remember kind of looking ahead at that point. I guess it was actually mentioned in the first ever astrology reading that I received in 2017, early 2017. This astrologer was just like, “Oh, well, by early 2020 you’ll know what you’re doing. There’ll be something worldwide that is very familiar to you.” Kind of a tangent, but that ended up just correlating I guess with the rise of our business with Honeycomb, as well as this very personal feeling. Because I’m born in late March, so I was planning some things around having my mom come out for my birthday at that time, which had to be canceled, and sort of this very Capricorn rising realization that the entire world was experiencing what it’s like to be Capricorn; to feel as though like you don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen in the future. You need to prepare, stock up your supplies, things are looking bleak. There’s a lot of overdoing this here. But, yeah, if you’re going to be a ‘night chart’ Saturn potentially, seeing the entire world go through an experience like that, it felt like just a very symbolic expression of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn in particular.
CB: Yeah, the value of pessimism.
MD: Yeah, yeah.
CB: It’s like the people that were doing the best during that timeframe ironically were the preppers—the people that had been stocking up toilet paper or whatever it was that suddenly became very scarce during that time.
MD: That’s so true. Yeah, and then you think of the value of being cautious and listening to an established voice of authority rather than being overly-optimistic about how quickly the thing would pass. And, again, how much do you value your personal freedom versus your responsibility to the health of the collective—all those themes were really coming up. The more cautious you were, the more conservative you were in terms of recognizing how much your own actions impacted the world around you. And if you chose to be careless with masking or sanitizing, there was that heavy feeling that you might cause someone else’s misfortune or illness or even their death. And that all feels very hilariously Capricornian to me, constantly analyzing one’s actions for their potentially malefic outcomes.
CB: Right, for sure. A funny weird anecdote I discovered recently—I hadn’t mentioned it; I didn’t know where to mention it—but as part of doing all this eclipses research over the past month, I was trying to get different books that I hadn’t read before, just to do a literature review, and I got Celeste Teal’s book, who was very early on one of my favorite authors. She retired and hasn’t been around much the past decade, so I don’t think people are as familiar with her name, but she was like an astrology writer in the ‘90s and 2000s. But she published a book through Llewellyn in 2006 on eclipses, and later in the book there’s like a chapter on the eclipses of 2020.
CB: She has like literally an entire chapter of this book of “these are some gnarly eclipses, watch out for some stuff that’s about to go down.” And I was really impressed by that, and I was surprised that more people hadn’t noticed or pointed out that she had done that basically.
MD: Yeah, that is interesting. And the eclipses in 2020, they were in the Gemini/Sagittarius axis?
CB: It was shifting from the Capricorn/Cancer ones to Gemini and Sagittarius.
MD: Right, right.
CB: ‘Cause like December-January it was still the Capricorn/Cancer ones. And then by the time you get to like June and stuff we’re starting to shift into the Gemini/Sag ones.
MD: That makes sense. ‘Cause I keep thinking about that time in terms of the Gemini/Sagittarius axis of just misinformation—or I guess just diversity of information you could say, to be less political about it—of how it became apparent how much people live in different versions of reality based on what the internet was reflecting back to them, because everybody gets their targeted results on the internet. And so, people, if they were looking for data about how useful vaccines are, they would find that. If they were looking for information about how harmful vaccines are, they would find that. That just really struck me as very on-the-nose, the power, the potential destructive power of the Gemini/Sagittarius eclipses.
CB: Yeah, for sure. And, yeah, the silos of information that people get in and then kind of stay in once you’re in one because it becomes self-reinforcing.
MD: Exactly. Yeah, you start to think, well, how can anyone possibly believe the alternative to what I believe, because everything that I’m watching on YouTube, everything that I’m looking up is confirming what I believe? Meanwhile, yeah, the person with the opposite belief system is having the same experience in reverse.
CB: Right. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, there was a lot of that with that shift in the eclipses. But anyway, yeah, that was crazy with Celeste Teal. I’m sure there’s like other stuff out there.
MD: Yeah, I was trying to recall what the dates were for those—the Capricorn/Cancer eclipses in early 2020. Did it end up manifesting around January?
CB: No. One of them was in late December and the other was like January 11.
MD: Oh, like right at the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto.
CB: Yeah, so it amplified that conjunction, and it amplified everything else going on in Cancer and Capricorn. And then that’s right when the World Health Organization started realizing what was happening and started making announcements about it; it was around that time.
MD: Right. That ended up correlating pretty much precisely with the Saturn-Pluto conjunction on January 12.
MD: Yeah, that’s amazing. Yeah, I see what you mean with those predictions.
CB: Yeah, for sure. So that was cool. Anyway, astrological research, innovations—what else? What are some other topics we meant to go into?
MD: Yeah, I mean, I’ve just been interested in astrological research, again, in part to address skepticism in regards to astrology among the scientific community.
CB: Were you skeptical when you got into astrology? How did you get into it?
MD: I mean, I had kind of always been familiar with Sun sign astrology as my mother was super into that. But I guess when I received my first astrology reading as a gift from my sister, I had no clue what was under the hood—I guess is what it felt like—even though I was into other kinds of ‘woo’ stuff or culturally fringe stuff.
CB: Does your sister either take credit for it, or does she regret what she did?
MD: Yeah, I should ask her now. I think it’s probably a bit of both.
CB: She’s like, “If I have to do one more Thanksgiving hearing about Mercury retrograde.”
MD: No, it was very sweet. I was turning 29 that year. I don’t even know if she can remember how, but she had been hearing about Saturn returns.
CB: Wow, okay.
MD: And so, she thought, “Oh, you’re turning 29. That’s like the Saturn return age. So this might be a good birthday present.”
CB: Saturn in Sag.
MD: Saturn in Capricorn for me.
MD: So I caught it a year before—Saturn would enter Capricorn later that year.
MD: So it was very on-the-nose. And I was a Saturn in the 1st house native as well.
CB: Capricorn rising.
CB: With a bunch of other planets, right?
MD: Exactly. Yeah, it’s Uranus at 1°, Saturn at 2, Neptune at 10, and Mars at 23, and the ascendant at 25.
MD: It’s a full house.
CB: Yeah, it’s not that many planets.
MD: Just a few. If you wanted to have a lifetime where you got a very extreme experience of what Capricorn could be like, yeah, you might choose this one.
CB: Right, for sure.
MD: Although I will say there are others—the folks born in late 1989 have it as well—where there’ll be all of the outer planets, as well as the Sun. There’s this whole pileup that was possible if you’re a Sun in Capricorn, as well as Mercury, as well as Saturn, etc., etc.
MD: Yeah, I’ll give them that.
CB: So your Saturn return, she got you a gift to see an astrologer. Was it a good reading?
MD: Yeah, yeah. At the time, possibly in part because Saturn had been transiting my 12th, I had started to go to therapy for the first time. And I’ve always been casually interested in psychology and was even considering going back to school for psychology, and this astrology reading just really struck me as being able to identify all these various contradictory aspects of my personality. Like the seriousness or the intimidating qualities of the Capricorn rising, but at the same time this sunny optimism or good humor of the Leo Moon, and I guess the way, in particular, that Saturn-Uranus conjunction feels in my life; it’s one of the most confounding things. And she was a modern astrologer, so she was really focusing in on perhaps Uranus and the disruptive, rebellious nature of Uranus combined with the limiting or the strict nature of Saturn.
CB: Was she the one that said 2020 would be big for you?
CB: Okay, wow. So you got that like in your first reading.
CB: It’s just like, “Heads up.”
MD: Just a heads up.
CB: “Yeah, you have a huge amount of planets in Capricorn, and there’s a huge amount of plants that are about to go through there in 2020.”
MD: Yeah, exactly. It was a very pivotal reading. And I didn’t immediately start getting obsessed with astrology, but now that I think about it, it was witnessing that eclipse, that Leo eclipse in 2017, that lit the fire.
CB: In February?
MD: No, it was later on. The one in August that crossed. It was visible. It was the visible eclipse.
CB: Got it.
MD: It was actually witnessing that eclipse that lit my fire. Like, wait, this is insane. I have to study astrology.
MD: Yeah, and then I Googled ‘Portland Astrology School’. I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time.
CB: Wow. So that’s another humble origin. Little did you know that that would end up being a big shift in your life.
MD: Absolutely. Yeah, so I hadn’t really thought about that until now, but it was. It was witnessing an eclipse with my own eyes, in the sign of my sect light that gave me the ‘astrology’ bug.
CB: Okay, that’s interesting.
MD: Yeah, and there’s more I could say of course about just like how cool the Portland School of Astrology was. Like very few people I think have the opportunity to study astrology in person with a group of people.
MD: I definitely value having had that experience. I don’t know to what extent I would have started to work in the field of astrology if I hadn’t had it happen in real life like that.
CB: Yeah, especially these days where everything is online. It’s unique that they had a physical location.
MD: Totally. Yeah, it gave me this sense of like I’m not just a crazy person alone in my room reading a bunch of textbooks. There are other crazy people in the world reading a bunch of books and considering this to be a legitimate phenomenon.
CB: Yeah, that’s huge ‘cause usually people only have that experience when they go to conferences. And it’s why conferences are so important because that’s typically for most people the only time that you get to have that experience actually in person, meeting other people that speak the same language. So that is nice to have that much earlier on in your studies.
MD: I think it’s huge. I mean, just personally I see it as a manifestation of having the midheaven degree in the 11th house. There’s something about just being among a group of people that, I don’t know, makes work more exciting for me or makes it more real in a way, which I think is another fascinating topic to get into. What are those variations between whether the midheaven falls on the 10th versus the 9th or the 11th or beyond that? But, yeah, I ended up meeting Colin at that school.
CB: Your partner?
MD: Yeah, yeah We started the idea that we wanted to collaborate on something. Yeah, we eventually came up with Honeycomb, we got married. Certainly a significant turning point in life.
CB: Yeah, that’s huge.
CB: Did you have like the 7th house going on when you met?
MD: Not when we met. But at the time that we started dating there had literally just been an eclipse in my 7th house and a 7th house profection.
CB: Wow, okay. There you go.
MD: Yeah, and one long-term relationship ended and a new one began like around the same eclipse.
CB: Whoa, okay.
CB: But then of course you probably didn’t think or you didn’t know right away that that would be like ‘the one’ presumably when you started dating initially with that eclipse happening. Or did you?
MD: In a way I kind of did.
MD: It’s an exalted Mars ascendant thing. I had kind of identified, yeah, I know this guy’s the one, at least for—no, I’m not saying. At least in this way we had compatibilities in this complimentary way. So instead of a synastry chart where we have a lot of things lining up in terms of like conjunctions or trines, we have very disparate charts where it’s it’s almost like, yeah, he handles all of the water and air signs, and I handle all of the fire and earth signs. And so, there’s this way in which us coming together enables both of us to do more, like become more than the sum of our parts was kind of the feeling. Yeah, so being that we were both astrologers in astrology school, I was familiar with this chart and had identified some things even in terms of his ascendant is conjunct my North Node, or his Moon is conjunct my descendant. So, yeah, in my super ‘Mars-y’ way I was just, “I think we’re good.”
MD: Yeah, I’m gonna make a move, and I think it’s gonna be a long-term thing.
CB: Yeah, well, that makes things easier if you’re in astrology school together and his chart is up on the wall or whatever.
MD: Yeah, exactly, and you have full consent to talk about it. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this as well, but being in a relationship with another astrologer enables you to have very efficient conversations regarding emotions and expectations. And when you get into arguments you’re both able to look at your calendar on the wall and just be like, ‘Oh, well. Yeah, you’re having a difficult transit right now. I’m not. That’s why you’re grumpy. Next time it’ll be me having a difficult transit and so on.” Just being able to understand if you’re perceiving reality differently, why that might be the case.
MD: Yeah, so I think it gives a relationship more potential for problem-solving tools, conflict resolution tools.
CB: For sure. Yeah, like a different angle to try to approach things that can help de-escalate things.
MD: Yeah, exactly. To give you a way of, yeah, depersonalizing conflict when it does occur ‘cause you can just talk in terms of each other’s planets. So it’s like one level removed. You’re not accusing each other of anything necessarily, you’re just like, “Look, when you’re ruled by Jupiter and I’m ruled by Saturn, these are the kinds of disagreements that we might have.”
CB: Although there’s certainly times when it’s inappropriate to start talking about a person’s chart if you’re arguing instead of just focusing on the matter at hand. I almost—
MD: Yeah, absolutely.
CB: —want to write like a guidebook, a handbook at some point for astrologers dating astrologers on what is appropriate or what’s not appropriate.
MD: That’s true. I feel like it would really vary based on the person, too, in certain ways. I might particularly enjoy it because of Mercury in Pisces; almost like analyzing emotions would welcome it.
CB: Sure. Yeah, there’s definitely really good and helpful things, I guess. I was thinking there’s certainly got to be scenarios where people are in a toxic relationship and somebody’s weaponizing astrology.
CB: I think that would be really hard. And I imagine that’s probably hard in scenarios like that these days where there’s one partner that is an astrologer and then there’s another that’s not or something like that and different dynamics like that that could be a little problematic.
MD: That’s very true. And it’s great, I don’t know, segue to maybe even talk about the ethics of astrology, especially if you’re in a position where you have more astrological knowledge than another person in your life. Whether it’s in your family or in your partnerships or in your friendships—it’s almost like there’s this great power that you need to be careful with just because you can potentially misinterpret things or, like you were saying, kind of weaponize things. Or just that you can potentially know stuff that you shouldn’t know about the other person’s internal motivations and what have you.
CB: Sure. Yeah, that there’s a responsibility that comes with that, and just wanting to act ethically or in a way that’s not gonna make a person distrust or not like astrology if you weren’t using it in a way that was good.
MD: Yeah, yeah. Almost like the duty of care to the subject itself, you’re right. I find this comes up a lot if you’re hanging out with people at a bar and they ask what you do and you’re an astrologer, and they go, “What can you tell me about my chart?” And there’ll be maybe like this lightness, this light attitude that’s there, but I kind of jokingly will warn people like, “Well, just so you know, if you hand me over your birth data, you’re giving me the keys to your soul. Like there’s a level of information that I’ll know about you. If you’re not familiar with astrology, you don’t even understand how much information I could potentially derive or surmise from this.”
CB: Sure. Yeah, I guess in some of those interactions I get really tired at this stage of the testing.
CB: Like many people’s impulse is like, “Let’s test the astrologer,” even sometimes friends over the years. And, yeah, it’s often tricky. I had somebody that was like a barista once that was really insistent on me making statements about their life or their personality or something like that. And I didn’t understand why at first, and then later it turned out that they were a twin. And so, I realized in retrospect that they were trying to test me because they had an underlying either dislike or suspicion of astrology because they were a twin and they didn’t think that that worked or something or just assumed it precluded that being a true premise and were sort of trying to put me in a spot over it. But, yeah, that’s an interesting thing that comes up with all astrologers at some point. It’s just like the person that’s skeptical and wants to test the astrologer or something like that.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. It’s almost like, “Make the monkey do a dance.”
CB: Right. And it’s like it’s not actually that simple. Or the guessing, that’s the one that’s most—
MD: “Can you guess what sign I am?”
CB: “Yeah, tell me what sign I am.” And it’s like, well, no, I don’t actually specialize in that. I don’t know anything about you, and that’s not really how it works necessarily, even though there might be some videos out there where somebody either specializes in that. I assume maybe there are people that are really good at that, but it’s not usually something you do, that most astrologers do or specialize in.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll usually say to those people if you talked to me for a few moments, I could probably tell you which planetary archetypes are prominent in your nature, whether they come off as a very Mercurial or very Saturnian person. But that doesn’t really have any meaning for them because that person won’t know anything beyond their Sun sign. Again, it’s kind of a moot point.
CB: Yeah, I mean, ‘cause you may be picking up on something like somebody has Mars conjunct the ascendant, but that may not represent their Sun sign or whatever. So it’s like even if you’re picking up something that’s genuinely in their birth chart and is a prominent part of their personality or life, you may fail the test, as they’ve established the parameters, because all they know about astrology is like their Sun sign. So that’s one of the reasons that tests like that are faulty and that it’s not usually good even to attempt that, but there might be other ways that you could do a test that would be more effective. What I ended up doing with one of the people once was—and it didn’t end up working out because they ended up quitting before we did the test—to have them give me the same birth date and two different birth times where one of them was two hours either before or after the correct one. And then if I get to know you and talk to you enough and learn about your life, I do think I should be able to tell the difference between what’s the correct chart and what’s not. That would be a valid test that I think somebody could do, or that I could do, versus just cold-reading. Or not cold-reading ‘cause that’s not actually what astrologers do, but just telling somebody about their life without knowing them or just based on appearance or something like that.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. I think it comes from that misconception too that astrology is some kind of divinatory practice rather than just a process of gathering and analyzing data to a certain extent.
CB: Well, I mean, that’s tricky ‘cause a lot of astrologers these days do you believe astrology is a divinatory practice.
MD: True, true.
CB: So it depends on what you mean by that.
MD: And this is true. I haven’t studied horary in particular, so I guess I can’t really speak to that.
CB: Sure. Yeah, but I guess your point though is that there’s an empirical component to astrology.
MD: Exactly. Yeah, and I think about something that you said in an episode where I think you were being interviewed by a different podcast just about astrology. Two guys who were curious about things and they go and find people to teach them about it.
MD: Yeah, just this fundamental premise that if astrology doesn’t work then it should never work, like you should never be able to find any kind of correlation between celestial movements and earthly phenomenon or people’s personality, and the fact that you can pretty readily find those correlations is enough to prove the subject worthier of further study, further analysis.
CB: Yeah. I guess the issue there is you have to understand what the indications are. Like you have to understand astrology in order to see that it does actually correlate with personality in terms of being able to read a chart. And the basic barrier is most skeptics or people that don’t believe it never get to that point of knowing enough about it to actually test it. But what I’m excited about with some of the mundane work we’ve done in the forecast episodes and some of the recent eclipse work is just that there’s something more that’s demonstrating that correlation without you needing to have much knowledge of charts and everything else to understand it. Just this astrological alignment happened and then this event happened, and this alignment happened and this event happened, and just really quickly outlined a series of repetitions and correlations. And there was at least one person who was just like, “There’s all sorts of different events happening constantly and you’re just reaching for events or seeing things that aren’t there.” But it’s like with that, the correlations happening so consistently and following in certain ranges of things, that just anybody has that reaction to it; there’s not much you can say.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. And it’s like one of those things too where you’re looking at events—like if we think of recent events—that are just globally recognized as significant events of that time period—
MD: —an event like the war in Gaza. Yeah, you could say we’re just cherry-picking an event that seems ‘eclipse-y’, but it’s like you can’t deny that that is now a very prominent news story. It’s something that’s in the cultural zeitgeist to a huge extent. So it’s almost like those are the types of events that we see correlating with major events like eclipses potentially.
CB: I mean, certainly it is best when you’re in the middle of things as an astrologer because then everyone’s wrapped up in the moment and can feel the cultural energy behind it and the charge. And in that instance, the devastation, the tragedy, and the intensity of the images that are coming out, and just seeing last month—as all the astrologers did at least—that eclipses were really closely-coinciding with that definitely does carry much more weight than if you were pointing out a historical event that a person doesn’t have as much personal connection with.
MD: That’s true. And it’s a good point too as well, what you were saying. People who tend to—or skeptics who try to research astrology or to disprove astrology through scientific research are frequently just measuring Sun signs and who believes in Sun sign astrology, and can you find statistical correlations based on a person’s Sun sign. And if a scientist was an astrologer and was well-versed in natal astrology, they would not design an experiment like that. They would test a much more specific type of variable.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, personality is something that’s very difficult to quantify. Like they’ll do personality index tests of different sorts or things like that but it’s a very squishy thing versus concrete events either in a person’s life or in terms of world events. There’s something there that’s much more tangible and probably more appropriate when you’re trying to test or see the validity of something and see if it’s working in action.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s another great point I guess about the difference between what’s possible if you look at psychological astrology versus either mundane astrology or an astrology that is more predictive of life events in the native because it can be much more striking. I think sometimes with modern psychological astrology, it’s useful and it’s valid, but it feels so much more subjective; and so it could lend itself to more skepticism rather than just the study of literal events along with the celestial correlations.
CB: Yeah, for sure. It’s like personality stuff and connecting astrology with personality and seeing it work, or when a person’s going through intense internal psychological changes, that can be really striking when you are paying attention to the astrology correlating with that; but it’s a much more subjective experience versus worldwide events or disasters or tragedies or things like that.
CB: So one of the things we were talking about was how does a person predict the types of events that they might personally experience during a mundane transit.
CB: I mean, ‘cause that is a tricky thing. That’s something I actually stayed away from for many years. Because I learned astrology originally by studying my transits, I understood that the primary way to experience transits is as they relate to your birth chart personally, and it’s only when you have a planetary transit that exactly aligns with your birth chart that you’re gonna experience an event that’s personally relevant for you. And therefore for many years I would avoid doing more general forecasts where you’re talking about the astrological weather in general because it wouldn’t necessarily connect with the individual. But over the past eight years now that I’ve been doing the forecast episodes, I’ve come to understand how the mundane transits and describing those can actually be relevant as part of the more collective energies that we’re experiencing at any given time.
MD: Totally. Yeah, in addition to just focusing generally on the mundane topics, which makes a lot of sense for a general forecast, when it comes to the individual it’s their job to pay attention to the things that are most significant for their natal chart and focus in on the mundane transits in regards to that. I was alluding to earlier that if someone does something as simple as identifying the ruling planet of their natal chart—or the of the ascendant rather—and then specifically pays attention to the transits of that planet, I think they’re more likely to see the timing of significant personal events in their life following relevant transits. For instance, if you’re ruled by Saturn, like we are, you can potentially notice a big shift in life area focus every few years when Saturn moves signs, ingresses a new sign, because it doesn’t do that very often. So for a Saturn-ruled native looking at planetary ingresses is huge in that regard. Whereas on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re Cancer rising, and you’re ascendant ruler is the Moon, then there’s something inherent to the nature of Cancer rising being ruled by the Moon and how frequently the Moon ingresses the various signs that could potentially speak to what it’s like to experience life as a Cancer rising, and then to track potentially the lunations as a more dominant or pervasive experience in their life.
CB: Sure. Yeah, for sure. Definitely signatures that a person has in the birth chart, when those recur in the future, they can be more personally relevant to a person if it’s built in.
CB: Yeah, but that’s a good point. There’s some sort of middle-ground between looking at the mundane transits and your natal transits. And certainly a mundane transit that’s happening in the sky will tend to be more personally relevant for you if it’s also hitting your birth chart in a particular personal way. But sometimes when you’re dealing with major worldwide events, even if it’s not hitting your birth chart person, you can still sometimes get swept up in things or can experience on even some low level the energy that’s happening in the world at the time, like, for example, with the eclipses we were experiencing last month.
MD: Yeah, yeah, that’s a great point. And I’m thinking even in terms of, for instance, as Saturn is moving through Pisces, you’re sort of noticing—or I’m noticing the people around me feeling more of maybe the sadness or the sorrow, the collective sorrow that Saturn in Pisces might represent. Maybe that general feeling that there are tragedies going on in the world constantly or where do we go from here.
CB: Right. Like themes of empathy or peace and sometimes hopelessness surrounding those things. That there’s a lack of empathy in the world or lack of peace compared to 2020 when everything was in Capricorn, and all of a sudden there’s lockdowns and everyone’s having this collective experience of being stuck inside and being restricted from doing the normal things that they do. And so, we’re all collectively experiencing some energy together, broadly speaking. Like there were some people that lost their businesses during that time if the transits were hitting their charts really poorly. Or, for me, I lost my health during the time because it was hitting my chart poorly. But there’s like billionaires that became—or millionaires that became billionaires at that time because they invested wisely or what have you—
MD: Yeah, exactly.
CB: —just depending on how those transits were hitting.
MD: Yeah, the subjective experience of the native might vary more or less in terms of more enjoyable or less enjoyable from the collective experience depending on the other chart factors.
MD: Which could be like the houses that the transit is occurring in or the position of the lord of that house in the natal chart. Which is something I’ve been enjoying reading through in volume two of Demetra’s Ancient Astrology: In Theory and Practice where she’s particularly focusing on the condition of the houses in the chart and just that general take based on the condition of the ruler of the house or the other planets in the houses and how a native will tend to experience anything occurring in that particular house. And so, that could show the nuance between people who might have otherwise the same rising sign, but then the configuration of the rulers of their various houses is going to portend variance in the experience of those house topics.
CB: Right, for sure. Yeah, and there’s so much variation. And it’s always interesting seeing the amount of variation that you can have in certain house topics, but then it’s also interesting seeing the repetitions; when you’ve seen in the past how a person has experienced a certain transit or placement and then you see that again in the future like other people. That’s an interesting tension in astrology: the regularity of the meaning of certain placements, but also the wide range of possible manifestations ‘cause you’re dealing with archetypes.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. That’s just making me think again about why astrology is complex in terms of I guess proving its validity or designing experiments involving astrology. Just the amount of variables across charts is highly complex, whereas other personality inventories are much simpler, for instance. Colin got into a long conversation with ChatGPT recently I guess trying to understand why this anti-astrology bias was built into ChatGPT in a way.
CB: Yeah, it’s sort of gone through different periods. Because I feel like at the beginning it wasn’t too bad, but then it seems like they’ve adjusted it lately it seems.
MD: Yeah, it’s like it will have a conversation with you about astrology. It will even interpret placements for you. But at the end of everything that it says, it would always say, “But, so you know astrology is considered a pseudoscience. Anything that is taken from this should be used for entertainment purposes only.” It’s like it had to include a disclaimer every single time. And he had this long conversation of can we talk about how we might design experiments that could prove astrology, or how it might be just as subjective as any other—or how the other personality inventories that are popularly used in psychology might be just as prone to some of the potential issues that astrology could be prone to. And in the end it was just like the problem that ChatGPT was identifying was that astrology was potentially too complex to study or to experiment with, which was kind of an interesting conclusion. Well, it’s not if you try to just isolate a single variable that you’re trying to study.
CB: I mean, that’s a good point. Although that’s true, no variable does ever exist in isolation.
CB: And so, one of the problems is exact charts don’t repeat. Even though you can have a repetition of individual factors, the number of actual astronomical factors involved—even in just a basic chart of let’s say 9 or 10 planets that are all moving at different speeds, going through different signs—you really don’t have an exact repetition of a chart ever in any reasonable timeframe. Which creates an issue in terms of replication if you’re trying to do a true scientific study.
MD: Yeah, that’s a great point. But I guess the other point that the AI was acknowledging was that these other personality inventories—they’re presenting a very limited range of archetypes almost like Sun sign astrology is. Like say Myers-Briggs just saying there’s these certain numbers of personalities and they’re the only personalities that exist, but it’s a pretty small number. I can’t remember the exact number. So it was sort of acknowledging that if you did have a system that could truly exemplify the complexity and the variance of human nature and of human psychology, it would have to have a huge amount of variables in it like astrology does. And really that makes it more credible in a way in being able to predict human nature or being able to describe human nature, but it does, as we were saying, present some challenges when it comes to actually being able to isolate things well enough to scientifically study them.
CB: Yeah, isolating stuff is really tricky. But that’s something scientifically that they would want to do, controlling your variables and stuff like that, having controls. Yeah, but it’s really tricky for a number of different reasons.
MD: Yeah, totally. Future problems for future research.
CB: Yeah, well, there’s some people that really get into that.
CB: I know somebody that’s trying to do that right now actually and is trying to set up a test to try to repeat some of the tests that happened in the 1980s that did relatively well for astrologers who were attempting to match charts to people. And that’s one of the tests that kind of makes the most sense to me, a test like that. Or a rectification test, like I mentioned earlier—can you tell the difference between which is the correct chart between two different people or something like that.
MD: Yeah, true. Yeah, Colin was positing a test that could be as simple as take a personality variant from the big five personality inventories—such as neuroticism—and then identify a simple chart placement that might correlate with a high rating in terms of neuroticism, and see whether or not with a large sample size you could just ascertain a correlation between a potentially neurotic chart placement and then a score in one of these other scientifically-proven personality inventories. Yeah, just some kind of way of showing, look, you shouldn’t be able to see any statistically-relevant correlation, but if you do, then that’s interesting.
CB: Yeah. I mean, one of the issues I always have with the scientific tests that have been done up to this point, the statistical ones, is they tend to not replicate what astrologers actually do. And I think one of the things that’s so important is if we were gonna try to test it in the context, as close as possible, to how it’s normally done, oftentimes that involves a consultation where you’re able to take all the variables into account. And the attempt to strip astrology down and get rid of all the variables, even though that’s how most scientific tests are done in order to control things and control for variables, which I understand, that may be, in a way, antithetical to the nature of astrology because it may not be something that can be fully stripped of context and variables and things like that.
MD: Yeah, that’s a good point. And it makes me wonder just how complex would the particular variable need to be. Like do you have a planet in this sign, with this aspect, on this angle, for instance? Can you find a statistical conclusion at that point? And that, again, I think goes back to my point about how valuable it would be to be able to find large sample sizes of people whose charts are available so that you could potentially find enough people with a very specific type of chart configuration.
CB: Yeah, there’s like a lot of stuff that happened in the ’80s and ‘90s surrounding this with the Gauquelin tests and different things like that and the outcomes of that. What astrologers were trying to do for a few decades was work like that, but there were just some issues that were run into that gets to the nature of what astrology is and if that sort of approach is possible and is feasible. Yeah, that’s really tricky, but there are a lot of variables for any one placement. Let’s list them—let’s talk about Mercury placements. We’re talking about Mercury. Mercury is in a sign; so a sign of the zodiac, 1 out of 12. Mercury’s in a house, 1 out of 12. Mercury has the sect; it’s in a day chart or night chart; so an A or B. What else?
MD: The ruler of an angle. If so, which angle?
CB: Yeah, ruler of a house. So what houses is it ruling? Is it close to an angle? Is it angular or is it not angular? The aspects.
MD: Yeah, is it under the beams or combust?
CB: Right. Is it retrograde or direct? Is it moving fast or slow?
MD: Even in terms of sect, it’s of the day sect. Is it rising before or after the Sun? ‘Cause that could tell whether it’s contrary to the sect or belonging to the sect.
CB: Right. And the aspects thing is a huge one in itself. Because even if you limit it to the visible planets, you’re talking about six planets that could have up to five major types of configurations. If you add in the aversions you’re talking about six different types of configurations of either having an aspect from another planet or not, and then you’re multiplying that by six other planets. So it’s like already here we’ve got a ton of variables and that’s not even all the variables.
CB: But then the tendency sometimes with the statistical test is to try to remove all of those variables and focus on one, and there’s something about that that may not work for what astrology is. And that was one of the fundamental issues I think astrologers that were trying to do scientific tests ran into in the early ’90s, and it was causing people to go in different directions, like Michel Gauquelin, who was doing a lot of those tests that were the most successful, where he was isolating stuff. He ended up then arguing that we needed to create what he called a ‘neo-astrology’ where we strip astrology of anything that hasn’t been validated scientifically and we build it up again just based on only what can be demonstrated statistically.
CB: So, yeah, there’s a lot of different history there and different ways people have gone with that.
MD: Yeah, and it’s really interesting I guess to take into consideration what is the history of attempting to do this type of research and, yeah, is it even possible. I guess another variation on the research theme, I’ve been considering whether it’d be worthwhile to just look at—aside from proving the statistical reality or validity of astrology—is astrology a useful model in terms of a therapeutic context, and then, if so, what types of astrology are most useful. I guess ‘cause I was thinking about the recent episode where you had a psychotherapist. I can’t remember her name, but she’s a psychotherapist who is also an astrologer. And she talks about how and when she might use astrology in a therapeutic context, what the ethics are of that, when it could be more or less helpful for a client. So I guess it’d be interesting to even just see that, maybe an increase in the number of therapists who are able to incorporate astrology into their practice and whether or not that would be useful too, as a more accepted thing in that way.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, accepted—there’s a sort of question mark then. There probably are more therapists these days that know about astrology or might use it privately to some extent, but it wouldn’t be something in a medical context that would be okay in most instances for them to do, in terms of licensing and things like that.
CB: Which brings up we’ve talked about running into issues at some point just in terms of astrology and how popular it’s gotten and at what point that elicits some degree of pushback.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. ‘Cause I think you notice it being categorized in terms of other conspiracy theories by people who are in the scientific community seeing the popularity of astrology as a curse or the downfall of the lack of critical thinking in culture at large.
MD: Just assuming that anybody who’s enthusiastic about astrology is either desperate for some kind of sense of meaning and purpose in their lives or is an idiot or whatever, or is uneducated. And it’s just hilarious when you look at what astrology actually is. Like we’re talking about the complexity of it, the years of study that go into it, and how different the reality is compared to, yeah, what the casual skeptic’s notion of astrology is.
CB: Right. Yeah, I actually saw something recently with the Saturn station in Pisces. We talked about it in terms of the potential for pushback on astrology; there was the Pennsylvania law. But actually something in the past week did happen, and I don’t want to go into all the specifics, but it did make me very nervous. Because one of the things I saw was an avenue we sort of talked about, and Austin had been nervous about, of astrology getting pushback as a result of becoming politicized. That some of the politicization and activism surrounding astrology roped it into potentially getting involved in political arguments. And that’s something that does make me very nervous ‘cause I hadn’t thought too much about that as an angle for pushback to astrology, but I could see now how it could be in some ways a potential.
MD: Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean, if you could elaborate on the political nature of it. Not quite sure I understand that piece.
CB: I guess the biggest thing or the most generic way to phrase it is just that astrology, especially because of its embrace by a lot of younger astrologers over the past several years—past five years, especially since 2017—and the tendency for more of the younger astrologers and young people in general just demographically to be more liberal that astrology may have become associated with some more liberal trends, which may make it the target at some point of more conservative or right-wing people. If they start to associate astrology so much with the left—it becomes one of those things that is, just as a standard thing, attacked as a feature of left-wing thinking or what have you—that would be really unfortunate if it became an issue that became attacked for political reasons.
MD: Yeah, that makes sense. I’ve been concerned about that myself, if astrologers become demonized to a certain extent in that way, of right-wing extremists or terrorists trying to choose some kind of group that they can target next. I mean, even beyond the realm of extremists, politicians trying to make various things illegal, like criminalizing drag performance as a way to demonize people on the left. Yeah, you could easily see astrology being targeted in that similar way.
CB: Right. And I don’t actually even know how to fix that. It’s like, on the other hand, there’s been a lot of interesting work that’s been done in making astrology more open and updating it. Even a few decades ago things like homosexuality were still stigmatized in weird ways in astrological texts and a lot of that’s been stripped out in different ways to be more inclusive in recent decades, which are good things in my opinion. And astrologers always have a tendency—especially for things that are personal, in terms of their personal political beliefs and things that they think are moral—to want to pursue justice and just causes. Like astrologers always look at the world through the lens of astrology, which includes their political beliefs, and that’s something that’s actually important and can be good. So it’s not like we can stop doing that or astrologers should stop doing that. It’s just interesting if due to the circumstances that ends up being one of the things that ends up being a point where astrology starts getting more pushback than it has previously.
MD: Yeah, you can definitely see it going that way. I mean, I think it’s becoming pretty common in the queer community for instance for there to be a strong correlation with people who identify as queer and people who identify as being interested in astrology. So even as a simple just one-to-one association like that, if there continues to be right-wing politicized hate or discrimination against the queer community, astrology could fold in with that.
CB: Yeah, and that actually was part of it. Yeah, I don’t know, we don’t have to go into it now ‘cause I don’t want to promote it.
CB: But, yeah, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about recently, and I was surprised that it came up on the Saturn station. I wasn’t surprised. I was like, okay, this is it.
MD: Yeah, yeah.
CB: It’ll be interesting to see how that develops over the next several years since this is just the beginning of Saturn in Pisces and the build up to the Saturn-Neptune conjunction, and then eventually Neptune departing from Pisces and moving into Aries; and Saturn then joins it and moves into Aries. So we’ve got a whole six-year period here that we’re only at the beginning of, and it’ll be curious to see how that goes, how it goes in terms of skepticism in general, ‘cause the skeptic community has just been in disarray over most of the past decade. But I can already see, in terms of the attempts to fight actual legitimate disinformation that is more prevalent in the world these days with social media and everything, how astrology could end up becoming an accidental victim to that because it could be classified as a form of misinformation or disinformation or not scientific and therefore wrong.
MD: Yeah, that’s interesting to consider, for ourselves as astrologers, trying to assess what we will do. Will we go down with the ship? Or for some of us will it be unavoidable, like if you’re publicly known in the field? Yeah, like how will you defend yourself, if need be, against maybe ideological attacks? Or how will the community rally together? I mean, it’s taking, again, a very potentially dark note, but it’s worth considering.
MD: Like as you’ve been pointing out, historically, there are those resurgences of astrology and then the more or less authoritarian crackdown on astrology.
CB: Yeah, I mean, it goes through periods of being up for a while and then being suppressed and being persecuted. And, yeah, something I’m actually seriously thinking about now is being careful about that, because of those two dueling tensions of, on the one hand, wanting to push for progress, justice, social equality, things that I view as positive moral things, but then at the same time the tension of drawing heat or ironically getting astrology blacklisted or something like that. Yeah, it has me thinking recently, because it’s a tricky balance, how to balance those things.
MD: Yeah, and it’s a good point too that for some astrologers it’s impossible to separate because their very identities have now been politicized. Like if they are queer and an astrologer, they are BIPOC and an astrologer, they’re like, “My existence is already threatening to right-wing politics potentially, so bring it on. Yes, and I’m an astrologer. What else do you hate about me?”
CB: Yeah, yeah. And that’s a really important viewpoint: “My existence is not politics and shouldn’t be. I can’t stop being political because my existence is threatened.” That’s a really important viewpoint in the community to recognize and defend and understand. Yeah, it’s just gonna be interesting to see how we navigate that. Especially in this country, over the next year, we’re at a super important turning point and it could go either way. It could go in a certain way next year that could be really not-good for some groups of people and in terms of whether the democracy itself survives and we continue to have a democratic process, or if it gets dismantled. Like in the forecast for October, we talked about the third final, not third, but the final closest pass of the US Pluto return happening.
And it’s like one of the things that we forgot to mention, that I meant to mention in the last forecast episode, was the House didn’t have a representative for like three weeks; the Speaker was fired. And then at the end of that was elected a guy who was born on an eclipse and then he was elected on eclipse, and he’s now third in line for the presidency after Biden and Harris, and he’s somebody that was very active in denying the results of the last election. And if that’s setting up pieces for something that’s gonna happen next year just in terms of how that election goes, it threatens the potential to have other elections in the future if the results aren’t accepted again or something like that.
MD: Yeah, it’s wild to imagine. I mean, it makes me think too about the upcoming Uranus in Gemini return for the US. We’ll finish this Pluto return but then we immediately have this other very significant recurrence potentially.
CB: Yeah, exactly, and just a history of that coinciding with wars in this country. The first Uranus in Gemini was the Revolutionary War, the second was the Civil War, and the third was World War II. And as astrologers we’ve known for a long time that we’re building up to something really important when that Uranus transit begins again in 2025, but now it’s like with the state of world events and stuff, we can just see some of the different pieces are falling into place. Way more than 10 years ago was the first time I did a Uranus in Gemini episode with Nick, and we talked about this, but it was like 2013. And things have changed a lot since then. We’re in a much different place in the world, and the world’s become—both in terms of this country and some of the internal difficulties and struggles that have happened and the dissension but also internationally—more and more tense in terms of different geopolitical things.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, I’ve spent the past three years living in Australia, and it’s a very similar culture to the United States but also different in ways. But one of the things that I’ve been noticing there is there’s also the resurgence of right-wing politics or right-wing nationalism or white nationalism and the way in which Britain and Australia and the US are connected I guess historically and culturally. That’s similarly concerning just to see white nationalism spread across the world and how that could end up coinciding with—I guess because the United States is so influential in terms of Western culture in this day and age, what happens here does end up reverberating around the world. People in other countries are constantly analyzing American politics way more than we do the politics, generally speaking, of other nations. I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say about that, but I think it’ll be huge. Whatever is happening at the time of the United States’ Uranus in Gemini return, it will reverberate around the world, for better or for worse.
CB: Yeah, for sure. I mean, certainly World War II did. Which was interesting ‘cause Uranus in Gemini coincided with the US’s involvement in World War II, although it had been going on for like a couple of years at that point; yeah, but we can just see some things falling in place. And then of course next year, in 2024, we get that next eclipse we were talking about, which is the one that just crosses over America basically.
MD: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, interesting times, and a great point about how back in 2013 you couldn’t have understood the exact manifestation of certain astrological events that would occur in the coming decade. It’s like you could see their symbolic meanings but not necessarily exactly how it would come to be, now in 2023, such large scale, potentially volatile events just around the corner.
CB: Yeah, well, in 2013 all we could do is look at the past correlations, the past empirical data that we could draw. We could say, well, this time during the Civil War, during the second Uranus in Gemini pass, was a great internal conflict where the country turned in on itself. And then in this the next one, during World War II, was a great external war or fight. And so, we’re like that’s what we’ve got so far, so we can anticipate that it’s gonna be one of those two. Although interestingly, we’re almost looking at both at this point.
CB: ‘Cause we’ve got both the internal tensions of threats to the democratic process and what would happen if that really was threatened and what kind of internal dissension there might be on that level, and then you’ve got the external tensions between the US and Russia and the US fighting a proxy war with Russia through Ukraine, or the US and the growing tensions with China; some of the people in the US military think that it’s building up to some sort of actual conflict potentially with China. Or now, more recently, we have things that are going on with Israel and Palestine and the US being in that role of supporting Israel despite many Americans objecting to some of this stuff that’s happening in terms of the bombings and things like that.
MD: Yeah, it’s making me think about how—as we’re completing the Pluto return of the United States—we’re seeing ways in which the country has been irrevocably changed through the period of that transit, but that maybe aren’t super obvious now; as the next 244 years or whatever unfolds notice and how this time period did correlate with events that set in motion a course of events that were then on some levels activated by the Saturn and Neptune conjunction or then activated by the Uranus in Gemini return.
MD: Yeah, ’cause some people might have thought the Pluto return would be maybe more extreme or dramatic in its manifestation. And while there were extreme events that happened in the way that the United States became this obvious place in terms of COVID-19 and how many deaths occurred and how conflicted the internal management of public health and safety was at that time, it’s still will be interesting to see how much over the course of history there will be a clear demarcation of the first Pluto cycle and the second Pluto cycle, etc.
CB: Yeah, it was something we were talking about years ago, but now it’s coming back up again. But it seems like it may come down to the democratic process and whether the democratic process survives after this point. Because one of the challenges that’s come up over the past few years is just are we gonna have democracy. Are the results of an election gonna be honored or are they gonna be challenged and overthrown essentially? That might be one of the questions that this time is about that we thought we passed in 2020 but actually we may not be.
MD: Right. ‘Cause it’s just occurring to me that Pluto doesn’t leave Capricorn for good until November 2024.
MD: Yeah, there’ll obviously be the national election at that time and then we’ll know to a certain extent what the entire Pluto in Capricorn transit of 2008 through 2024 really was about, or how many different types of events ended up occurring beneath that timeframe.
CB: Yeah, ’cause one of the things in the past month that’s happening is you have some things that are being put in place—Trump is being brought up on charges and some of them are related to that and related to election interference from 2020. Whether there’s consequences for that or whether there’s not, the country could branch off in two different directions in terms of history depending on how that’s dealt with. And then you have that also happening in terms of just the House, and the House putting somebody in place that could not honor that in the same way that 2020 wasn’t and if that could affect the future history of things; then we’ll look back at this Pluto station in October of 2020 and realize that that was an important turning point.
MD: Yeah, I mean it’s just wild to think too, just looking again at how Pluto is going to regress, is gonna go back into Aquarius and then regress to 29° Capricorn and then ingress again—just how many times it’s doing that dip in and out and how much we’re like, “Okay, is this it? Is it over yet?” and to be like, “No, it’s not really over until 12 months from now really.”
CB: Yeah, until late 2024. ‘Cause it’s also setting up the next 20 years in terms of Pluto in Aquarius.
CB: And that was really interesting to see at the beginning of this year, especially just the intensity of some of the AI stuff earlier this year. Even though it’s still happening some of that receded over the past several months when Pluto went back into Capricorn. But I think we’re gonna see that come raging back into this intensity in terms of the public consciousness, if that’s part of what was correlating with that earlier this year.
MD: Yeah, it has been wild to watch it come suddenly to the forefront of public consciousness and then recede. It’s one of those things that’s just really funny to track. Pluto’s back in Capricorn, obviously developments in AI are still happening. It’s still affecting a lot of people’s jobs and livelihoods, but it’s not the topic of public discourse the way it was at the beginning of the ingress.
CB: Yeah, it’s like waves on an ocean.
CB: That might be a good way to conceptualize retrogrades and ingresses and stuff. You’ve got a sandcastle that’s on a beach, and you have a wave that comes in and hits it lightly; and then you have another wave that comes in and hits it more strongly each time. But there’s this motion with the planets, especially outer planets, that only move forward a few degrees sometimes very slowly; but it’s this process of it coming back and forth in terms of intensity.
MD: Yeah, that’s fascinating. And to even look at that in terms of those long-term orbs, like what Tarnas uses in terms of outer planet cycles, we’re looking at 10° orbs; or what we tend to think of with natal transits in terms of sign ingresses and noticing just how potent is a sign ingress. I was surprised at how loud the sign ingress of Pluto turned out to be. ‘Cause you kind of wonder. It’s such a slow-moving planet, is it really just now all of a sudden we’re going to start seeing more either natal house topics for the individual or collective, mundane themes related to that sign? And it was pretty spot on, I felt.
CB: Yeah, it was pretty there. Yeah, ingresses are important. I mean, I think it’s both. Tarnas wide orbs are correct with outer planets of 10°-15° in some circumstances, but then also those sign ingresses, there’s definitive shifts in the energy at those times that can be very palpable. And that in of itself also has been an interesting discovery for me over the past eight years, doing the forecast episodes ‘cause I had always known that and seen that in natal astrology. And that was one of the things that sold me on whole sign houses for example, that you can test it by looking at an ingress into a new sign as also into a new house; which is something you can empirically validate, seeing those ingresses over the past eight years and how much things do shift at that time.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. That’s making me think—we probably have already recapped this already—but ‘Happy Venus Cycle’ for the podcast and meeting an eight-year milestone.
CB: Yeah, this summer was the retrograde of when we started doing the forecast episodes. Yeah, so that was interesting, seeing some of the shift. And last month, for example, Austin and I, it was the first time we’ve ever done a forecast, just the two of us. We felt like things were so heavy and it was so serious that I wanted especially to be responsible for what I said and what I wanted to say about things and that’s it. And it didn’t feel appropriate to put somebody else in that role, ’cause it’s actually a really hard job, and it was something we hadn’t felt since 2020. You go from doing astrology forecasts where it’s kind of like a light conversational thing, and you’re kind of like predicting the energies of the next month, and people can try to relate that to their personal lives. But then all of a sudden when you hit major worldwide events that are affecting people in a very serious way, suddenly it’s not a game anymore; it’s not a casual thing. And also, as an astrologer, you want to do the best job you can. You want to try to anticipate or predict what’s coming up in the future as accurately as you can and also speak to things as responsibly as you can at the same time. And there’s just some times where things get really serious like that, and, yeah, recently it sort of returned to the seriousness that we haven’t felt since 2020.
MD: Yeah, and it is one of those tricky things to navigate, but I think it’s part of the reason—at least I can speak to my own personal opinion—why I would watch The Astrology Podcast forecast versus all of the other myriad possible astrology forecasts that you could be consuming at this point in time. Because I think there is a tendency for people to want to not necessarily sugarcoat things, but maybe tiptoe around the difficult transits or the difficult omens, and I think you and Austin take that job seriously knowing that there are gonna be a lot of people feeling like they’re getting their information from you guys. And if you’re too optimistic or not serious enough about when things look serious then that can have a cascading impact on a lot of people’s lives in terms of are they making decisions based off of this forecast. Yeah, I don’t know.
CB: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’m so glad in 2020 we didn’t sugarcoat it too much, and we learned a lot about how not to. And then I’m especially glad in October, in the October forecast just a month or two ago, that we didn’t sugarcoat and we were pretty clear about seeing it was gonna be a very difficult month and articulating that, and we’ve learned a lot over the past several years about why that’s important. But that’s still a constant tension for me as an astrologer, even personally, in terms of finding the right balance between pessimism and optimism or realism versus sometimes it being good to set an idealized best-case scenario and to work towards that and find the balance between the two. I think it’s hard still as a seasoned astrologer for me sometimes to look at a difficult transit coming up and what the worst-case scenarios could be. Internally, in yourself, you still have to try to actually push yourself sometimes to cultivate a sense of optimism or hope or attempt to change things and make things better and not either fear or fall into a sense of pessimism about it.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. And it’s like it always comes down to as well, if you’re looking at the mundane forecast, trying to balance that in terms of a global perspective. But you can’t accurately or fully convey to an individual who’s trying to understand how these mundane events will affect their natal chart. Like it’s difficult to convey, again, the huge range of variants that could potentially occur. Because you could see, like in my own natal chart where Mars is very strongly-placed and it’s the malefic of the sect, I might personally experience dramatic Mars transits as challenging, but ultimately having beneficial outcomes. But you can’t say that universally for even people with the same Mars sign or what have you. So just, again, trying to convey here’s maybe the safest possible bet in terms of the range of expressions of a certain transit, but on the personal level, yeah, there’s gonna be that huge variation in terms of how beneficial or unbeneficial that transit’s gonna be.
CB: Yeah, for sure. Like I said, that always put me away from doing general forecasts for the longest time, but now I understand more the benefit of it because it’s like forecasting the weather and it’s gonna snow tomorrow. And for a lot of people, they may still feel the experience of that, even if it doesn’t hit them personally that it’s cold outside and you have to wear a jacket; therefore that tells you something about the energy of the time, even though there can be a range of experiences. Like the person whose car breaks down and then has to walk a mile in the snow to get to a gas station therefore has a much more personal negative experience of that versus another person where the transits are hitting them more positively and it snows, but they still have an indoor wedding and get married and ends up being a lovely experience or something like that.
MD: Yeah, I think that’s a great metaphor. Yeah, just in the instance of a rare snow day in a town that doesn’t get snow, yeah, some people are just like, “Cool, I’m taking the day off work. I’m gonna go sledding with my kids.”
MD: Versus something that’s a more unfortunate experience. Here’s this generalized event that everyone is going to be experiencing in a very personal or individualized way.
CB: Yeah, and that there’s like a place for both. And knowing that both are going on, to whatever extent you can, is actually helpful or can be helpful.
MD: Yeah. That’s very true. Sometimes it’s like how do you mitigate fear if you see a malefic-looking set of transits coming up? How do you tell yourself, “How wary should I be, or what can I do to mitigate my fears?” Maybe just taking that time to think that a blanket statement of a generalized forecast is like you need to kind of level set with yourself how much your chart supports or negates the intensity of that transit, if you will.
CB: Right. Yeah, that really gets to something core about the value of astrology because there’s limitations. Like no matter how good you are as an astrologer, you never know 100% exactly what’s gonna happen in the sense that you’re not looking at a crystal ball that shows you a movie of exactly what’s going to take place. You’re still working with an archetypal symbol system that shows you a range of different possible manifestations and gives you sometimes a pretty clear idea of what’s likely to take place, but there’s still a provisional nature to all astrological predictions. And that in and of itself can be good and bad in terms of not knowing until the event comes, which can instill uncertainty or fears surrounding things—fears that it could be the worst-case scenario and how to manage that—but also leaves room because you don’t know 100% that you should always try to strive to get the best manifestation. And it almost gives you a certain amount of free will because of the, not indeterminacy, but just the lack of 100% certainty of exactly what’s gonna take place.
MD: Yeah, yeah. It leaves room to feel like you can engage in some kind of remedial practice and get maybe an experience that is still Martial or Martial-Plutonian in nature but that is of a more manageable nature rather than a more disruptive nature.
CB: Right. Yeah, for sure.
MD: Yeah, it’s like it’s gonna manifest somehow. Or you’re gonna experience things that are on that theme, but can you—with proper preparation or even just being in a state of awareness—kind of mitigate the number of maybe risky choices you’re gonna make at that time, for instance.
CB: Right, for sure. Yeah, and can you mitigate it. That’s one of the tricky things ‘cause sometimes it comes from an action within yourself, and other times it comes from a circumstance from without, that’s like outside of your control.
MD: True. It was just making me think about what is the inherent benefic nature of certain planets. Like I’ve been just contemplating recently Jupiter as representing the ‘ally’ or the ‘wise person’. So either like a friend who comes along and helps you out or like a teacher who gives you a piece of information that then changes the course of your life because you’re open to this new piece of information. I guess working with transits sometimes can just be a process of identifying who has recently showed up in your life or who among your usual circle of friends is archetypally of the nature of a certain planet. So if you have a person in your inner circle who feels archetypally Jupiterian to you, then maybe if you’re going through a hard time that friend then becomes somebody who lifts your spirits because they have that jovial nature. Or perhaps if you’re looking at an upcoming Jupiter transit you just take note of who’s just coming into your sphere at that time and noticing that these might be people who are Jupiterian in nature, and they end up inspiring you or helping you out in some way. I think it’s something about transits where it’s not always about you taking action necessarily. Sometimes the mitigating factor is that there are helpful people showing up who, yeah, lend you a hand in your time of need.
CB: Yeah, for sure, that’s really important. Or like a doctor or a therapist or just somebody coming into your life that has a positive influence. Yeah, that can be really important and symbolized by that transit. Or alternatively, somebody that comes in that’s like a negative influence that is also symbolized by that transit.
MD: Yeah. And even just, again, how it can be nuanced in terms of even the planets themselves where Jupiter could show up as a very beneficial influence in your life, or it could show up as something that’s maybe too exaggerated in terms of the faith or the optimism. And similarly, someone could show up as a Saturnian influence in your life who makes you feel more limited or small in a way that’s not helpful, or they could show up and make you feel more grounded or more supported; yeah, somebody who can help you feel as though your burden is lifted because they’re sharing the work with you.
CB: So that actually might help us to circle all the way back around to the beginning. Because it’s like what then is the nature of astrology that that works? And I think it comes back to this thing about it being—it’s like we’re talking about a code almost or a language, to put it another way, that’s underlying reality and that is telling you what’s happening in reality but it’s using something that’s underlying reality in a way that we can conceptualize in modern times as like a code. Probably the closest analogy we can come up with is that astrology is like the code that’s underlying reality or our lives in some sense.
MD: Yeah, that’s something that I think people who potentially are familiar with computer code tend to—again, Colin, for instance, is familiar with computer technology to a lifelong degree and has posited that if you’re into simulation theory, astrology represents a pretty good model for the code that underlies the simulation, if you will.
CB: Right. Yeah, I’m surprised none of the actual simulation-type people that have gotten into astrology, that nobody has seen the parallel, and I sort of await the day in which somebody’s gonna do that eventually. Some simulation theorists will notice that and see that astrology literally would represent the very thing that they posit exists or must exist and astrology would be sort of like evidence of that.
MD: Yeah, I’m awaiting that day as well. If we don’t see the total annihilation of astrology in the next few years, I think we might see the opposite where it actually does become embraced by I guess even the techno-capitalist community as potentially this extremely profitable tool for analyzing people and analyzing society and being able to potentially create nefarious social structures or businesses that are all around. Like, “Okay, now that we take astrology seriously, yeah, how can we capitalize on it? How can we exploit it? How can we sell people people on the idea that they’re right for this job or not right for that job, or right for this relationship, not right for that relationship?” There’s ways in which astrology is just this technology that is inherently neutral, as many technologies are, that when fallen into certain hands could potentially be exploited.
CB: Yeah, I mean, there’s definitely certain different dystopian scenarios and things like that that I’ve thought of. And I don’t think we’ll see the annihilation of astrology even if it went that direction ‘cause astrology always survives; it just goes through periods sometimes of suppression or greater or lesser popularity or things like that.
CB: But, yeah, Pluto in Aquarius will definitely be interesting in terms of that because it’s not necessarily always good. We know that there’s good applications of astrology, but if there’s good applications of astrology, there by extension are also bad applications of astrology or misuses of astrology and things like that in ways that it could be not good.
MD: Yeah, which makes sense. I feel like astrology even in itself presents that dichotomy. In order for a good thing to exist, a bad thing must exist.
MD: For people who would like to use astrology to benefit humanity, there will be people who want to use astrology to, yeah, exploit or subjugate humanity.
CB: Right, or attempt to.
MD: Yeah, or attempt to.
CB: And going back to the code thing, it doesn’t even have to be in a technological sense, but the more ancient metaphors can be like a script or like a book, the book of a person’s life. And in some ways, in some of the different ways of conceptualizing fate or the way different cultures conceptualize fate the notion of a person’s life being written out as a book or a script ahead of time is another way of conceptualizing astrology and what fate is, and how astrology itself somehow taps into some underlying sense of one’s fate or destiny or what the script or the narrative is of one’s life. Like you’re an actor in a play and you suddenly get an ability to read your script ahead of time and see what some of the major outlines of it are.
MD: I love that metaphor.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s another way of conceptualizing it that would be very at home with some of the ancient views that don’t necessarily have to be conceptualized in a purely technological or code-based sense.
MD: That’s true. I mean, it’s occurring to me that we use the word ‘code’ to talk about genetic code or DNA structures. So there is this biologically-recognized predeterminism or range of possibilities that is going to exist for a person just based on their genetic code, to the extent to which some experiences that a person has in their life are determined by what they’ve inherited versus what they’ve experienced, what’s shaped them in their environment, the choices they’ve made. So it’s interesting to even look at astrology as that; it’s another one of the inherited principles that you start life with. And then you might experience some variance within that, but it still kind of sets up a range of controls or boundaries in terms of what type of life experiences you might be able to have.
CB: Yeah, I really like that. That’s a good analogy ‘cause that also ties in with things like family astrology and how you’ll tend to see repetitions of certain placements or certain signatures in a person’s chart that shows up in other family members’ charts. And then you realize that some of those are personality traits in some instances or tendencies that are sometimes being passed down. Yeah, that could make sense as a core conceptualizing access point.
MD: Yeah, I mean, it’s always sweet too, depending on how you feel about your family. It’s really interesting to study your parents’ ‘big three’ and how those show up in your chart. In some way it feels like it’s probably connected with I guess what you can additionally study in psychology in terms of passing on intergenerational, almost like inherited traumas or other types of inherited experiences that you think shouldn’t necessarily reach the next generation but they do. There’s some way in which you can see those patterns in the natal charts from generation to generation and try to assess the difficult circumstances of the parents or the beneficial circumstances of the parents and how that will be then experienced by their children.
CB: Yeah, for sure. That’s a really interesting area, intergenerational. I talked to Aerin about that like a year ago, about intergenerational things that are passed on including traumas and things like that and how that shapes people in pretty significant ways. But, yeah astrology, is an access point for that. Astrology’s so vast and there are so many different ways to approach it, but there’s so much you need to learn as an astrologer it can be somewhat overwhelming sometimes in order to truly do a good job of it. You have to study so many different fields and understand so many different things about human life because astrology speaks broadly to human life.
MD: Yeah, it’s such an interdisciplinary subject, which I think is why it’s considered Mercurial, I guess. You take your interest in a lot of different fields and then you find that they all have some application or some relevance to astrology, or vice versa, that astrology can be used as a lens in which to play with or analyze—like zooming back out—all types of fields.
CB: Yeah, which then is tricky because sometimes astrologers have a tendency to try to be a jack-of-all-trades and know a little bit about a lot of different things, but then sometimes astrologers get caught up in making remarks about things that they don’t have a huge background in, in a certain field. And I noticed that sometimes with history or geopolitics or things like that, with everything going on in the Middle East right now. I’ve always cultivated a thing where I try not to speak on things that I don’t have much background in or I’m not very familiar with. Having developed intense specialization in a certain field, like ancient astrology or Greco-Roman Hellenistic astrology in particular, I understand what it’s like to know something because you’ve studied it so thoroughly that you’re an authority on a topic, and what it looks like when somebody speaks on that topic that clearly isn’t that familiar with it, and how embarrassing that is not wanting to repeat the same thing myself by speaking on things that I’m not familiar with.
But due to the necessity of my job, especially the forecast episodes, wanting to learn as much as I can about those things that I have to speak on, so reading a lot about the Middle East and about Israel and Palestine recently, for example, is a major thing. And I think that’s something really important for astrologers to do because it’s something when I came into the field that I noticed the previous generation didn’t do as well in terms of educating themselves on stuff before speaking on it. And it’s something I’ve seen the younger generation doing better, and I hope we’ll continue to have more improvement. It’s not sufficient just to be an astrologer. If you’re gonna apply astrology to a specific sub-discipline, also become knowledgeable about whatever that area is that you’re applying astrology to.
MD: Yeah, that’s a really great point. It’s making me think like if you’re majoring in astrology, make sure that you’re minor is something that you’re also passionate about so that you can speak with authority on that sub-discipline, as you were saying.
CB: Yeah, I mean, it’s like if you’re gonna apply astrology and therapy to become a really well-trained astrologer but then also to learn therapy and psychology and counseling techniques and things like that. Or if you’re gonna apply astrology to, I don’t know, history—like to study astrology but also study specific fields or areas of history that you want to specialize in—there’s a bunch of things like that where you’ve got to make the effort to learn as much as you can about those other things that you’re gonna apply astrology to.
MD: Yeah, that’s a really great point. I feel like that can even be just helpful for beginning astrologers to keep in mind or to even just initiate their study in that way in terms of identifying which other topics or fields of study they’re genuinely interested in or passionate about and try to specialize in that to supplement your astrological work. And don’t feel as though you have to comment on things that you don’t actually know anything about. Like I can relate to I guess that pressure or that feeling of potential embarrassment if you are going to try to address say history or world politics and you don’t actually have a lot of personal information or background in that field. You might feel like, “Oh, well, I’m the only astrologer in the room and people are asking me for my opinion astrologically on world events.” Just making it okay to admit although I’m an astrologer, my focus is natal astrology, or my focus is what have you. I can’t really comment on the astrology of world events right now without being potentially insensitive or even misinformed or misguided.
CB: Yeah, for sure. I guess on the other side, the flip side, the positive thing is that once you learn astrology you realize—because it applies so broadly—it can lead you into the study of many different things that maybe you wouldn’t have gotten into or wouldn’t have been interested in otherwise. But it can be a reason to study up on other things like history or psychology or even medicine to a certain extent. There’s so many different fields that astrology can be applied to; it can be the gateway into having a lifelong love of learning and learning about so many different topics that you might not have been exposed to otherwise.
MD: That’s a great point. Yeah, I feel personally astrology got me way more jazzed about history than I might have been otherwise.
MD: Yeah, just like how cool it is. I guess it gives you another context for looking at history, just trying to imagine just what the celestial patterns of that time might have felt like, or finding the similarities; like you often mention in terms of studying Greco-Roman astrology how human culture at that time in a lot of ways was not that different. The fact that we can use the themes and metaphors or the observations that were found at that time—they’re still relevant today—it gives you this sense of empathy or humanity that can be difficult to access for a lot of people otherwise when you’re studying history.
CB: Yeah, there’s this universality to human experience and to some of the basic dynamics of life that is true across time and across cultures.
MD: Yeah, yeah. It reminds me there’s kind of this thing that I like to reflect on occasionally, which is that Homo sapiens as a species has been around for 200,000 years. So we’ve had the same brains, the same capabilities in terms of our intellect and perhaps our personality differences and our preferences; and all these ways that we socialize as a species we’ve been in existence for this long. So when you start thinking about that astrology can be maybe a tool for helping you to start to conceptualize just how much we don’t even really understand about the history of humanity, and maybe even how long certain ways of knowing the language of the stars or of the planets might have been with humanity from its very inception. But because of oral history or just the inability to preserve other methods of recording, we don’t truly know how old the relationship of humanity with the stars truly is.
CB: Yeah, that was something I was reflecting on a lot recently. Writing is not as old as you think it is. Like it doesn’t go back as far as one might think. Like written records are only 5-6,000 years old for the most part, especially in terms of astrology I should say. And there’s so much human history that did precede that, so it is interesting to think about it in that context.
MD: Yeah, I’ve been living in Australia and have been interested in the indigenous astrologies or cosmologies of that area because Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuing culture. The indigenous Australians, to various extents, have had a culture that is 50- or 60,000 years old, and that type of culture survives through oral history. And to think of how many different human cultures around the world we’ll just never be able to know what they studied or what they knew because they were they were ‘genocided’ at a certain point in time, or their histories were erased because all of the people who belong to that culture are no longer alive. In a certain way, how amazing oral is in terms of preserving and passing on knowledge—but also how vulnerable it is because it requires ‘living’ documents and people becoming the documentation of their culture.
CB: Yeah, for sure. That was something I became interested in recently last month when I was starting to read some news stories about different indigenous traditions surrounding eclipses in the Americas, sometimes in terms of them being negative events or in terms of the desire to not be outside during that time. And it wasn’t really something I had studied very much up to that point, but it suddenly made me very interested in what the oral traditions were of different indigenous traditions and different cultures around the world in terms of eclipses and what might be known from that. And that might be one of the few things that is passed on in some way orally, even if it’s not documented or written down as much.
MD: Yeah, there’s this book called The First Astronomers where an astronomer—he’s a Western guy, but he’s interviewing indigenous elders in Australia who do have this oral history of how astrology in a certain sense has been used in their cultures throughout time, and it’s often just very practical purposes as you might imagine why humans would develop any technology. When does the solstice occur? We can measure that by looking at this position of a mountain in our landscape. We have a person in our culture who is responsible for going up to the mountain and checking when the solstice is going to occur, or when some other kind of movement is going to occur, and we’ll be able to identify at that time what types of food tend to be abundant. Or as a way of marking the seasons—just kind of thinking beyond the Mediterranean climate, how in all climates and all areas where humans would live and become indigenous to their climate, they would be using the positions of the planets and stars as a timekeeping device, to know when to maybe migrate to certain areas or to hunt for a certain animal because that animal is always around at that time of year. So sort of like measuring cyclic events that are relevant to certain cultures.
CB: Yeah, that’s really interesting ‘cause that makes you realize the fundamental experience that astrologers have of different periods of time having different qualities, that would have been an experience that all ancient cultures would have developed to some extent. Like I think about sometimes how Stonehenge or other stone or neolithic arrangements astronomically were used to track the seasons or different things like that. And to some extent astrologers are still following the same astronomical principles that they’re using to study the quality of different periods of time.
MD: Yeah, yeah. It just makes me think one thing we take for granted is how diffused the night sky is now due to light pollution, whereas certainly in the time in which humans evolved, and then for the vast majority of our history, the light would be such an immensely detailed and fascinating source of information. And it was probably pretty early on in human species existence that they would have noticed that certain lights in the sky move and would have used that, I think. Because we are insatiably curious, reflective animals, we would have been looking for anything in our environment that we could use to make life easier. And so, astrology would have evolved as a technology to make life easier, to be able to track seasons and animal movements and vegetation cycles because that was information that was important to us. And then perhaps as we developed more complex societies—or perhaps we’ve always had complex societies—we would have then seen the potential to use astrology as a tool for analyzing each other, analyzing ourselves, or analyzing our life events. And there’s a certain way in which astrology just reflects—I guess it does reflect human nature. We are this very curious creature who likes to find meaning or find ways of using everything in our environment. And again, today we take for granted that the night sky is a potentially very rich source of information because we can’t even see it anymore. We don’t have a literal relationship with it.
CB: That’s a really interesting point, to the extent that society and humans were more dependent on nature, or more at the mercy of nature thousands of years ago, and therefore would have paid much closer attention to it, and therefore would have noticed even more vividly the correlations between celestial movements and earthly events. To the extent that humanity through technology has grown more independent of nature and more not at the mercy of it on a day-to-day basis in terms of, I don’t know, living in societies and having weather-controlled houses or what have you, and therefore not depending on like day-to-day changes in the weather or other things with nature, we’ve become more divorced from that and therefore wouldn’t notice the correlations as much simply ‘cause we’re not even looking at the sky as much or the sky isn’t even visible as much—one of the points you’re making in terms of the night sky—due to light pollution, so it’s just not as obvious. Or like with eclipses—it’s the rare thing where we all still go out and check out, but it’s not still everybody in society like it would have been like 2- or 3,000 years ago.
CB: Even that is more limited in terms of whatever cross-section of society will they go out and go watch an eclipse or what have you.
MD: Yeah, it’s rare that everyone would actually take a break from their jobs or whatever task they were doing at hand to step outside and look. I think that was one of the reasons why that eclipse across North America in 2017 struck me so significantly because I was on the West Coast at the time, and it started on the East Coast and went across the West. I was watching the live footage as it hit each major city across America and the gatherings of people that were coming outside to watch. And it had this very strong feeling of, yeah, how powerful these celestial events can be; or when it does feel very personal when you’re in the path of totality and how it then becomes very interesting to look at the sky. But, yeah, we kind of take it for granted the entire rest of the time.
CB: Yeah, that’s really striking, and just become more divorced from it. Some people probably spent the entire day inside and maybe never noticed that it was happening or never even saw it on the news or what have you.
CB: And therefore wouldn’t have connected that this eclipse is happening and then all this crazy stuff is happening in society or in world politics at the same time, or even in their personal lives, that a relationship just ended and another one just began, like was the case with you. Most people just wouldn’t ever see those correlations because we’re so divorced from looking at the sky versus most ancient cultures even a few hundred years ago. They would have been more exposed to it on a more regular basis. It’s really interesting.
MD: Even just using the term ‘divorced’ is striking to me, maybe perhaps because we’re in this Venus in Libra transit now. But thinking about humans being divorced from nature versus humans being in a loving relationship with nature—I’m a Jupiter in Taurus person, so I think I have a lot of nature philosophy or curiosity at least with how did humans evolved, what were the circumstances surrounding our evolution, so therefore why are we the way we are today. And you just contemplate what it’s like to be not just at the mercy of nature but in kinship with nature in relationship with it, and how much, again, astrology would make sense at that time, you’re seeing your entire environment as something that you can relate to, that you can have a relationship with. Though you’re thinking of not just the plants and animals around you but the sky itself, or the gods who are writing the messages in the sky or what have you. You have maybe a relationship or even a responsibility to understand the messages or the symbols coming through if you can perceive them, if that makes sense.
CB: Yeah, for sure. ‘Cause it gets to something core about animism and the idea that the universe could be speaking to you. And sometimes when you have a really important event in your life, and there is a major astronomical event happening at the same time, you take it as an omen; and what an omen is it’s like a message that’s coming through from the universe in some sense. A long time ago there was more of an openness of the possibility of the universe speaking to you because of the conceptualization that it was alive and had consciousness in the same way that we do individually.
MD: Yeah, and even if it’s not the same type of consciousness, it is a type of consciousness that is worth relating to, and I think that is kind of where maybe the skeptical or the scientific mind can get stuck. I like Neil deGrasse Tyson, but obviously he’s a famous astrology skeptic. And I remember him being interviewed on some talk show and he’s being asked about astrology, and he goes, “Of course the universe doesn’t give a shit about you.”
MD: Which is funny and is definitely true in a way if you’re looking at an objectively-measurable, dead universe. But if you’re looking at the way that humanity related to, and in some cultures, still does relate to the universe as the possibility of having a subjectively-meaningful relationship between an individual human and the world around you at large—I guess there’s just this cultural bias that we’re actually imposing when we say that the universe is devoid of meaning or that it’s inherently dead. Again, I think Richard Tarnas probably articulates this pretty well, but we kind of take for granted how that perspective is born of a time period that is very specific to this time period and very specific to Western culture. And it’s not necessarily a perspective that makes sense to all humans alive today, and certainly one that doesn’t make sense to humans from over the past tens of thousands of years.
CB: Yeah, I mean, one of the potentials is that astrology is the one thing I think that could provide a counterpoint to that in any sort of eventual singular ‘theory of everything’ or scientific theory of the universe that explains things. Astrology will be part of that because it’s pointing to a property of nature that you might not have access to or you wouldn’t have a reason to think exists otherwise.
MD: Yeah, yeah, which is another interesting point. And again, I want to credit Colin for this idea, the fact that all of life on Earth evolved under pretty similar celestial circumstances as what we have now. The solar system was, relatively speaking, in place billions of years ago, so there’s this controlled environmental parameter that we can say was occurring throughout the entire evolution of life on Earth. And although it’s hard to conceptualize how the positions of the other planets in the solar system might have had an influence on life evolving on Earth, I think it’s possible to conceive of how there could have been an impact. We know of course that the proximity of Earth to its satellite, the Moon, and to its star, the Sun, that those have very obvious implications for how life was able to evolve here. But the fact that we don’t know yet how to measure some of the impacts of the other planets doesn’t mean that it couldn’t possibly be measured.
CB: Right, and whether that’s the mechanism for astrology through some sort of physical influence of the planets, or whether they’re just keyed into something about time and time having qualitative properties, even if astrology is reflecting what’s going on on Earth without necessarily being the cause of it.
MD: Right. Yeah, the causal property isn’t necessarily as important as perhaps scientific skeptics are making it out to be. Just the fact that there is some kind of harmonic or some kind of resonant or correlative property is interesting enough in itself, and it might be working on some level that can’t be measured in a causative way.
CB: Yeah, well, there’s just an assumption that because we don’t know of any property that could cause a causal influence, they assume astrologers are positing a causal influence from the planets and then say because there’s no one known for that it’s not possible and therefore it’s not worth looking into beyond that. And that’s where most skeptics stop in terms of their knowledge of astrology.
MD: Which is kind of silly ‘cause that’s like every scientific hypothesis ever just about. First, you don’t know how something is happening or why, and so you investigate it.
CB: Yeah, you just investigate that there is an effect. There’s something that’s happening and then sometimes you work your way backwards to why is that happening.
MD: Yeah, like gravity. We don’t know how or why it was happening but it was having an effect forever on this planet prior to Newton beginning that conversation of what it actually was.
MD: So astrology could be similar in that way of like whatever effect that it’s happening for whatever reason is still applicable regardless of us not knowing the exact method by which it is occurring.
CB: Yeah, and humans had developed complex ways of using gravity prior to Newton and prior to the ability to conceptualize what was actually happening. And then even once Newton had developed his theory of gravitation, it didn’t mean that that was the final thing and we had it all figured out. Because then you have Einstein later who further refines what gravity is and how it works and everything else, and the relationship between space-time and blah, blah, blah. So, yeah, I hope at some point somebody’s gonna come along—because we have those rare instances of a person like Carl Jung, a person like Richard Tarnas or somebody like that where it’s like occasionally you get those people that come along that have the specialty training in certain fields, like history or psychology or sciences.
You have famous scientists of the past like Kepler or Ptolemy or what have you, but then they also notice astrology and they look into it and realize there’s something to it and then they do really important work merging the two or trying to figure out some sort of grand unified field theory. And, yeah, it’s a matter of time before we get another one of those. It would be nice if it happens in our lifetimes, like I kind of hope that would happen. And part of what I’m trying to do in the podcast in contributing to that is outlining a lot of the theoretical principles and different things for astrology, so that there’s like a body of that work that a person like that could come in and draw on and get up to date pretty quickly with the full range of astrology. But, yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what that looks like at some point when that happens again.
MD: Yeah, I mean, it has been feeling like it’s more and more possible in our lifetimes. Again, like we were discussing at the beginning, the onboarding tools for astrology are available now where you don’t necessarily have to spend a decade of your life just feeling like you’re starting to get the hang of it.
CB: For sure.
MD: For example, I’m of that generation of astrologers who was just coming in in 2017. I mean, not to just totally be a fan of the podcast, but how instrumental your podcast already is in terms of helping this wave of astrologers onboard—certainly I was a listener in the first year of my study. And I don’t know, it is an exciting time because of all the accessibility now. And if it continues to be accessible, and people entering astrology in their teens or 20s continue to do so, then, yeah, it’s only a matter of time. Like with that range of diversity in humans coming into the field, the right combination of person or people will get together and, yeah, continue to innovate, continue to push not only the philosophy but the practical applications I guess of astrology.
CB: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, and we’re at such an amazing point in history ‘cause we’ve almost recovered as much of our history as can be recovered at this point. There’s still work to be done, but we’ve never had access to as much of the previous tradition as we do now at this point in time. And there’s been such a renaissance from that and from the merging of the ancient and the contemporary traditions.
CB: And then also now the increasing leveraging of technology and different technologies and how that’s speeding up what we can do as well.
MD: That’s true. We can’t underestimate how now more than ever people are fascinated with the study of the self, maybe perhaps in part because of social media. And cultural critics sometimes look at that as a negative thing just how much young people today have to cultivate their public image or have to control their image or their concept of self. But seeing that happen at the same time that astrology is seeing a resurgence in popularity I think is super interesting because people are certainly using astrology to do exactly that. To try to understand the nature of their public persona or to try to understand what is authentic to them in terms of life choices and separate that from what they might be seeing otherwise as various identity representations, something that can happen when you’re a young person and you’re trying to figure yourself out. Maybe if you’re a young person today and you’re seeing someone who’s popular on Instagram, if you don’t have any idea or sense of your true self then you could be fraught in terms of trying to decide who to become or what to do with your life. So if a young person then has a tool like natal astrology, they can from that early point in their life start to cultivate decisions that are more authentic to them and maybe suffer less from that chaos of trying to fit in or trying to make choices that please others versus those that fit the true nature of yourself.
CB: Yeah, and finding yourself. I mean, the eternal quest that every human’s always had is ‘who am I’ and ‘what am I doing here’. And to whatever extent that astrology can speak to that, even in part, it’s a useful tool for people, and it has been for millennia.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. I think it just has that potential, again, to save people that anguish of not knowing how to be useful in the world. In this age of crisis that we’re in, yeah, it can be difficult to not know how to affect any kind of change if that’s what you’re into, or how to even, yeah, validate your own existence when so much of the problems now seem to be just like we have too many people and we’re consuming too many resources and climate change is going to get us, and all these topics that I think are on a lot of young people’s minds. Like if they can use a tool like astrology to validate their existence in some way or identify a way in which their unique life path can have some significant impact or what have you, yeah, it can be helpful in that way in terms of giving people hope or guidance, which I think is crucial from even just a mental health perspective in this day and age.
CB: Yeah, for sure. And just figuring out who they are and what they’re doing here and helping them to find their unique path in this world, and where things are headed and to get a little bit of a heads up or a shortcut in terms of figuring that out—yeah, super valuable. And that’s probably always been the core thing that’s the most useful about astrology.
MD: Yeah, and then now we’re in the age where it’s like astrologers aren’t just attendants to the kings. Everybody can become their own astrologer, which is such a magical time to be alive.
CB: Yeah, for sure. The increasing levels of the democratization of astrology over time has been interesting to see. Kings and emperors were employing astrologers in 7th century BCE, and then at some point there may have been a cultural shift where they weren’t, and then it was like not long after that that you see the development of natal astrology. And so, that shift away from a certain level of political centralization of astrology may have been part of the thing that led to natal astrology in the first place, and then different levels of that over the past few centuries as well. It’s interesting seeing that.
MD: That’s true. That’s one of those fun facts that I like to throw out to skeptics on occasion: astrologers used to be employees of the state; the persons who the king needed to fund in order to know about their fate.
CB: Yeah, I was reading this book; it was on Mesopotamian divination and astrology. And the way they framed it was actually super interesting ‘cause they were like this was the most advanced technology in the ancient world that could tell you your future, and every state actor and entity wanted access to that because it was of huge strategic importance. And when framed in that way I thought it was really fascinating ‘cause I’d never thought about it that way before. But you sort of understand, okay, this is what was happening in ancient Mesopotamia and why. It makes a lot of sense.
MD: Yeah, I guess in terms of ancient funding, how much would have been put into the study of astrology? Again, going into the idea that astronomy only exists because of astrology, the whole reason why people start to study and measure and predict the movements of the planet, the celestial sphere, is because it has symbolic relevance. Like why else do humans do anything? Because we think it’s important. We think it’s useful. This idea of astrology being some relic of an era in which humans were just complete dum-dums is silly because it’s really missing that historical context of just how critically important people were considering this information at that time.
CB: Yeah, it was definitely a major motivating factor and driving factor for so many centuries in the development of different forms of astronomy, and mathematical astronomy in particular, and different models. Although it’s funny, when I released the ‘eclipses’ episode last month, and I released some clips on social media, the one that went the most viral was the one about the British royal family, showing how they had all those eclipses throughout their family history over the past century. But some of the comments I got that were really annoying, they were like, “Well, it’s because the royals have been employing astrologers for hundreds of years, and they still do, and they’re just planning everything out.” And I was really surprised by that. That was kind of annoying because it wasn’t actually the conclusion we were drawing from it. Like the point of those examples was astrology works and this is an example of how it really coincides very dramatically especially with prominent and powerful people, eclipses coinciding with their lives in different ways. But it was interesting that for some people, they go to more of a conspiracy mindset of it’s not that astrology works, it’s that elites are using it to control people, which is not necessarily true and is not really still the case in terms of royalty always using astrologers or that being an official position or something like that.
MD: Yeah, yeah. It would be surprising if that was what was actually going on, especially in terms of it being pretty difficult to control.
MD: Yeah, aside from a planned C-section, it’s difficult to control the moment of birth. And even if you are doing a C-section, you have to become pregnant at a certain time and have a successful pregnancy and all these other variables that make the notion of controlling the exact time of a birth of a significant leader pretty hard to fudge.
CB: Yeah, or like deaths.
CB: As if that’s controlled. With Prince William, his future wife who was born six months before him also happened to be born on an eclipse just like he was; it’s like, yeah, stuff like that. Or that his brother would later announce he’s leaving the family on the eclipse in January of 2020, for example.
MD: Yeah, they’re not all just going like, “Okay, I’m gonna make my announcement, but I’m gonna time it to an eclipse because we’re secretly astrologers.”
CB: Yeah, yeah. I really don’t think that’s happening.
MD: Well, and you found with US presidents—mentioning that with Patrick again—that the person who was winning the election would be the person who was having eclipses in their angular houses at that time.
CB: Right. Yeah, it’s like when you view it in totality, you realize this is just a phenomenon that’s happening in nature, and it’s reflecting on a bunch of different things. Especially powerful people tend to have eclipses that naturally happen at very key moments in their life, especially if they were born on an eclipse. But I guess it’s only if you see it in its totality that you understand what the central thing is that’s impressive about that, which is just that this is happening naturally in the background without most people in the world realizing that it’s happening.
MD: Yeah, again, it’s oddly comforting to think that there’s this larger organizing principle or this underlying organizing principle to human society or natural events or the whole universe, and it’s not just a hot mess of chaos and randomness.
CB: Yeah, there’s something extraordinary. I mean, that’s the central most extraordinary thing about astrology, a conclusion that you can draw from it, which has huge implications and is kind of wild once you really sit with it.
MD: Yeah, how long have we sat with it today?
CB: We’ve sat with it for three hours today. So this is a pretty good, pretty average Astrology Podcast episode in terms of length.
CB: Yeah, but this was good. Thanks a lot for joining me for this today.
MD: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. And, I don’t know, I’m gonna be that person who’s like, “I’m sorry if it was so heavy in the beginning.” We were talking about all these potential future disasters and such, but I think we ended on a lighter note.
CB: Yeah, I think we covered a lot of ground and touched on a lot of interesting things, as two Saturnian astrologers do through the course of a three-hour conversation, both wearing black.
CB: Good times.
MD: Yeah, good times.
CB: So I did want to mention—we talked about it a little at the beginning, but what are you working on now with Honeycomb? What do you have coming up in terms of that? Is there anything we should know? You got any inside information you want to drop?
MD: I’m really excited about astrological education and developing more tools for helping people get the hang of the basics or going from beginner to intermediate. So, yeah, personally I’ve been toying with different ways of either presenting that in the course of a blog or video content. So now that I’m publicly speaking that, perhaps it will come into being. Perhaps next year in my 1st house profection.
CB: When do you switch over, again?
MD: It’s at the end of March.
CB: Okay, that’s coming up.
MD: Yeah, yeah. And definitely an intention or a goal is to start producing more of my own content that can present astrology in a way that I think is coherent and accessible and, yeah, helpful for people who are just trying to get the hang of this wild language of the universe.
CB: Yeah, well, I definitely appreciate how the Honeycomb almanacs and calendars have made astrology more accessible to people in terms of following their own personal transits and knowing about that, as well as the mundane transits at the time. I know we’re at the end of the year right now. This is usually the time where everybody rushes to get a new one at the end of the year before we start a new one.
MD: That’s true. Yeah, which is always funny to me because this product is created at the time that you request it to be created. So literally you can start it from any month of the year, any moment in the year. Like sometimes we’ll have customers who like to start it in their birth month, so they get kind of a solar return perspective and bookmark it April to April. But it’s still a very popular choice to align your Honeycomb with the Gregorian calendar.
CB: Sure. Yeah, well, it can be kind of a nice thing. People get it as gifts and other things like that.
MD: Yeah, totally. Yeah, holiday season stuff. Which of course we paid you to plug in that November forecast episode. Because everything is created bespoke to the person who is requesting it to be created, it takes time. And so, it’s not something that you can really do as a last minute decision. It’s time to make the sausage.
CB: And this episode, just for clarification, was not a sponsored episode or anything like that.
CB: We’re just meeting up as friends to chat astrology.
MD: Yeah, which I was like I don’t want to focus too much on product placement or anything like that.
CB: Sure, but this is definitely a good time to mention it. And what’s the website, again?
MD: Honeycomb.co. It’s short for Honeycomb Collective.
CB: Okay, awesome.
CB: Cool. All right, well, thanks a lot for joining me today for this episode.
MD: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me,
CB: All right, cool. Well, thanks everyone for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and we’ll see you again next time.
A 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, a shoutout to the patrons on our Producers tier, including Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Issa Sabah, Jake Otero, Mimi Stargazer, and Jeanne Marie Kaplan. If you appreciate the work I’m doing here on the podcast and you’d like to find a way to support it, then please consider becoming a patron through our page on Patreon.com. In exchange, you can get access to bonus content that’s only available to patrons of the podcast, such as early access to new episodes, the ability to attend the live recording of the monthly forecast episodes, our monthly Auspicious Elections Podcast, or another exclusive podcast series called The Casual Astrology Podcast, or you can even get your name listed in the credits at the end of each episode. For more information, visit Patreon.com/AstrologyPodcast.
If you’re looking to get an astrological consultation, we have a new list of recommended astrologers at TheAstrologyPodcast.com/Consultations. The astrologers on the list are friends of the podcast that have been featured in different episodes over the years and they have different specialties, such as natal astrology, electional astrology, synastry, rectification, or horary astrology. You can get a 10% discount when you book a consultation with one of the astrologers on our list by using the promo code ‘ASTROLOGYPODCAST’.
The astrology software that we use and recommend here on the podcast is called Solar Fire for Windows, which is available for the PC at Alabe.com. Use the promo code ‘AP15’ to get a 15% discount. For Mac users we recommend a software program called Astro Gold for Mac OS, which is from the creators of Solar Fire for PC, and it includes both modern and traditional techniques. You can find out more information at AstroGold.io, and you can use the promo code ‘ASTROPODCAST15’ to get a 15% discount.
If you’d like to learn more about my approach to astrology then I’d recommend checking out my book titled Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune where I go over the history, philosophy, and techniques of ancient astrology, taking people from beginner up through intermediate and advanced techniques for reading birth charts. You can get a print copy of the book through Amazon or other online retailers, or there’s an e-book version available through Google Books.
If you’re really looking to expand your studies of astrology then I would recommend my Hellenistic astrology course, which is an online course on ancient astrology where I take people through basic concepts up through intermediate and advanced techniques for reading birth charts. There’s over 100 hours of video lectures, as well as guided readings of ancient texts, and by the time you finish the course you will have a strong foundation on how to read birth charts, as well as make predictions. You can find out more information at courses.TheAstrologySchool.com.
And finally, thanks to our sponsors, including The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, which is a quarterly astrology magazine which you can read in print or online at MountainAstrologer.com.