The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 427, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Madeline DeCotes
Episode originally released on November 20, 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: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released December 4th, 2023
Copyright © 2023 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. In this episode I’m gonna be talking with Madeline DeCotes about the astrology of death. So, hey, Madeline. Thanks for joining me.
MADELINE DECOTES: Hey, Chris. It’s a pleasure to be here again.
CB: Yeah, so we did a little casual astrology chat yesterday in the studio, and then we were just talking this morning here in Denver, the topic of death came up. There was a recent famous celebrity death with Matthew Perry. There’s also just been a huge amount—in the world, in the Middle East and with everything—of death and suffering. And so, more serious topics have been on my mind lately—and you mentioned that you had a loss this past year—and I thought it would be interesting or good to just talk about some of that in a topic that I’ve always meant to do but I’ve kind of not avoided, but I wasn’t sure when or how to do it. And I thought today maybe we would just do a casual chat to talk about this topic more broadly and some of the details and some of the questions that people have surrounding it.
MD: Yeah, I think it’s a really important topic to cover because it is something that astrology can speak to. And as we were alluding to yesterday, the time that we’re in with Saturn’s transit through Pisces feels apropos to be taking a compassionate look at death as a topic and loss and grieving as a topic, as well as—I totally blanked on what else. I had another point, but, yeah, it’s the right time to be talking about death. I think maybe it was our other point yesterday that in Western culture sometimes we shy away from or are a little bit too nervous; like death is a taboo in our culture where it’s not as much in others. So I think it’s helpful for people who have experienced loss or who work in death or who have a familiarity in their subjective experience of life where death is a common topic, it’s nice to give resources to those people so that, yeah, they’re not feeling as alone as what can often happen.
CB: Yeah, so let’s talk about that with the first question. ‘Can astrology speak to death?’ is a question that somebody that’s just new to the field might have, and I think the answer to the question is, yes, that astrology can speak to the question of death in terms of a person’s birth chart. To the extent that the alignment to the planets at the moment that you were born has something to say about the quality of your life and your future, part of that to some extent can be the end of a person’s life and sometimes the circumstances surrounding it. So that’s one way, obviously a more literal way, that people often look to astrology in particular for this question of whether it can speak to the experience of death. But then another way that it actually is related and comes up is in the experiences of the people around a person who’s died recently; the way that astrology reflects that in their charts oftentimes speaks even louder than the person themselves who passed away because of the way that it impacts the lives of the people around them. And that’s another angle for how and why this topic is important in terms of how especially astrologers deal with the grieving process, as well as just how death in our lives and the experience of that in other people affects us personally.
MD: Yeah, that makes sense because I guess when we think of how the natal chart reflects not only one’s own life, one’s own experiences, but that certain houses or certain planets in the chart will end up representing other people that are in the life. So if a person experiences a death of a loved one, or even the way they might be impacted by the death of a famous figure that they find affinity with, we would expect that that should be reflected in the natal chart by some way of timing or relationship to a planet that might signify that person or that might signify death.
CB: Yeah, I mean, the different houses in the chart—it’s like the 1st house relates to you and your sense of self and your body and sometimes your physical vitality, but then each of the other houses or many of the other houses in the chart relate to like other people who are in your life and who are close to you in different ways. And sometimes when those houses are activated in a very difficult way it can indicate—not always, obviously there’s a whole range of different things. But to the extent that astrology sometimes describes and the transits especially show challenges or difficult experiences we have at different parts of our life—like the loss of a family member or a loved one or a friend—it’s certainly one of the things that astrology can sometimes describe and reflect at the time when it’s happening.
MD: Mm-hmm. And it’s one of those points I think that I always like to help beginner astrologers remember or realize, just how much their own natal chart does show, by way of the houses and their rulers, other people; that we’re literally talking about other people in your life. And sometimes with a certain planet it might even more so represent other people in your life than it does represent your own personality or your own personal choices, things like that.
CB: Yeah, and this is actually a big split with modern and ancient astrology, just ‘cause in modern, late 20th century Western astrology, especially in the English-speaking world, the houses started being conceptualized more as different extensions of the native’s own psyche. But in ancient astrology, the different houses sometimes did very literally represent other people in your life: like the 4th house is representing parents and sometimes things that are objectively occurring in their lives, or the 5th house is children, or the 7th house is the marriage partner or spouse, or what have you. And that’s such an important conceptual distinction because that does help you sometimes to understand when you’re having a transit it may not immediately show up as something that’s relating to you directly in terms of your psyche or something like that, but it may just be something that’s objectively occurring in the circumstances of the people around you.
MD: Yeah, that’s so true. And it makes me think even in the day that we’re in now, where we synthesize both modern and ancient astrology, we can see how an event or a transit might represent something happening to someone else in your life. But because we have the time and the space and the knowledge on how to I guess reflect on our personal experiences, to whatever extent a person does reflect on their own psychology they might be able to analyze how that event that happened to someone else in their life subsequently affected their own psychology or their own outlook on the world, maybe their personal philosophy, And so, there could be a simultaneously external and internal experience that occurs from the same transit, but almost like your internal experience is a reaction to or a reflection of this thing that happened external to you or that happened to someone else.
CB: Yeah, for sure. And just the profound way that events and circumstances and the impact that other people have on our lives—the way that that impacts us personally and sometimes impacts our life trajectory and our future and our destiny, both when people come into our lives but also sometimes when people go out of our lives.
MD: Yeah, and it just makes me think about how interconnected we are and sort of what we were talking about yesterday with just the aspects of human nature. Humans are a very social species, our relationships are super important to us, so when something happens to someone in our web of connections, it does intrinsically affect our own experiences of life. So there’s this way in which we’re not so isolated or individual as we sometimes feel, and it’s really interesting to me to see how astrology can reflect that and reflect how our own personal experiences and our own natal chart are are caught up in this web of interconnections with other people’s experiences and other people’s natal charts.
CB: Right, for sure. So let’s back up a little bit and let’s talk first just about the initial thing of can it sometimes be reflected in a person’s birth chart when they pass away. And the answer to that is, yes, that sometimes there can be indicators in the birth chart itself, since we know that the birth chart itself can indicate things about health and physical vitality; and times when a person takes a hit to their physical vitality or they get sick or they get injured can be indicated both in terms of natal placements that show a possibility or a propensity for certain types of experiences in that area, but then also when some of those natal placements are activated by transits or time-lords that can show time where there’s a heightened period or likelihood where something that could be challenging or threatening to a person’s vitality could happen at that time. And I think that’s something most of us learn pretty quickly in astrology in looking up the difficult events in our lives, and for some people that can be like a health scare or an accident or something like that and seeing what the transits were. And sometimes it’s very striking because sometimes those negative or those difficult events in our lives are the things that are the most vivid that we remember the most; so when you see the astrology lining up with that on those days, it can be very compelling or very impressive.
MD: Absolutely. And it makes me think of as well—kind of what you were saying—the various timing techniques or the various significators that might come into play when a person experiences a minor illness versus a major illness, or a series of unfortunate events that might lead to a major tragedy or a death, where we don’t need to be afraid of a singular transit through our 8th house, or what have you. There can be these stacking components that could pinpoint the most vulnerable periods of time for the life of the native, and it’s not just every time Pluto aspects your Sun or Saturn transits your 8th, for instance; there might need to be several variables to come into play to describe a significantly unfortunate experience.
CB: Yeah, and there usually are multiple indications sometimes for the biggest events. Like there’s multiple techniques that will point to the same nexus that’s very important as a turning point in a person’s life, like a nexus in time. But for accidents or injuries—Frida Kahlo is a famous example because she had so many planets in the 6th and 12th that were in very tense configurations, and then that was activated when she was famously injured in this bus or train accident, basically.
MD: Yeah, it was a particularly gruesome and appalling injury that then totally changed the trajectory of her life. So say a person just casually has some 6th house placements or some 12th house placements, they might not know how to compare their own chart to someone like Frida Kalho who had such a significant and life-changing accident occur. Sometimes we see people have those questions when they have placements in the 6th and they’ll say, “Well, how unfortunate am I? How much does this talk to my own experiences of accidents versus me being someone who perhaps works in the medical field or something like that and helps other people with their misfortunes rather than it being a personal signification?”
CB: For sure. Yeah, that’s a really good point. Sometimes the energy gets subsumed by using it somehow or harnessing it and redirecting it in a different way. That’s not always possible necessarily, but there’s different ways that those placements can manifest. But it brings up one of the points when talking about this topic, which is that sometimes it’s hard as an astrologer to distinguish between, for example, those 6th house transits with her 12th house transits that indicates a major injury or illness that’s life-threatening and whether it’s something that actually indicates the end of the person’s life or whether it just indicates a major health setback or bodily setback at that time. And that’s one of the most tricky things because in ancient Hellenistic astrology one of the most talked about techniques and one of the most important techniques was a technique that they tried to develop in order to predict the length of a person’s life.
But there’s been a lot of contemporary discussions about this over the past 20 or 30 years, not just here, but also sometimes in the Vedic community. I remember Dennis Harness—one of my Indian astrology teachers—talked about this as well, that there were many things in the ancient world, when medicine was different and when life expectancy was so much shorter, that could have indicated the end of a person’s life much sooner because it would have been harder to recover from or to fix certain life-threatening things. But nowadays, with advances in medical technology and stuff, there’s a question about whether some of the ancient techniques for indicating the length of life are actually indicating the length of life firmly and in a fixed way, or if it’s indicating periods where the person takes a major hit to their vitality, where they could exit if it’s not treated or if there’s not some sort of major medical intervention or something like that. So that’s a whole topic, and we don’t have to get too much into it, but it’s relevant here since that naturally comes up, the question of length of life. And I’ve put off doing an episode on that technique. But one of these days I might cover it, if I can figure out a way to do it carefully. Like, for me, sometimes it would work in indicating things for certain people, but other times it wouldn’t work. And I never fully worked out if that’s due to the advances in medical technology and if that’s the reason or why that is exactly.
MD: That’s a great question. I hadn’t really considered that point about it before that it would be difficult to assess or predict now because cultural circumstances surrounding medicine are so different than they were then. It would have to, yeah, take probably just more time, studying in the modern context, whether or not it can accurately predict death; or like you’re saying, if that technique can only now predict instances where you might in ancient times have died, but now you’re just experiencing a traumatic health event.
CB: Right. Yeah, and if that’s what it’s really representing rather than really representing, in a very fixed sense, exactly when a person will die. So that’s a scenario, and that’s one scenario of what we’re able to see in astrology: periods of health and vitality and highs and lows for that, and periods where a person might take a major hit and there’s the possibility that that could be too much for their system to handle at that time and could pass away. On the other hand, especially as a student, I’ve found that explanation deeply unsatisfying because I was like, well, if it’s designed to say the length of life, it should tell you the length of life like no matter what. And there’s certainly another perspective where for some people, when you study their birth chart and you study the end of their life, you do sometimes see this confluence of a bunch of different factors both astrologically and in terms of the circumstances that led up to their death that do seem very fated, like this was the time when this person was almost like meant to die in some sense in terms of fate or in terms of their destiny and having reached the end of their story; and the astrology did seem to point very loud to that so that it seemed much more the result of a natural narrative of the story of their life that had come to completion at that time rather than something that was optional or just a hit to their vitality that they could have passed by, or something like that, I should say. If that makes sense.
MD: That does, yeah. It makes me think about, again, mitigation techniques or to what extent a person might have something that is indicating an unfortunate circumstance that could result in death, but they have people in their lives and they have access to medicine that changes it. But I see what you’re saying, too. Perhaps with zodiacal releasing or other sort of narrative-based techniques, it’s almost like when your story just kind of wraps up neatly, and you go, “Yeah, that makes sense that that’s the end of the life.” But by contrast, because we’re referencing the massive amount of deaths occurring prematurely in the world right now due to bombings and such, I’m wondering how do we study that, or how do we analyze when a large group of people die together? To what extent could we predict that in a natal chart, that one would find their death in a mass tragedy?
CB: Yeah, that’s a larger, sort of separate issue about mundane astrology and something that astrologers talk about, which is the ‘law of subsumption’. Each of us, in all of our individual birth charts, is always operating within the context of a larger set of mundane charts that relate to the groups that we’re a part of or different larger groups on different scales that go up and up and up in terms of regions and countries or families or other things like that, and sometimes when it comes to major events that affect a lot of people, it pertains sometimes more to a major mundane alignment. Like, for example, in 2020, we had that Saturn-Pluto alignment, that conjunction—and that conjunction of many planets—and a lot of people got sick and died in the world at that time, and that Saturn-Pluto alignment especially is one of the signatures that tends to coincide with things like that. In the same way, in the 1980s, when the AIDS pandemic really took off and became known publicly and people started trying to to deal with it and wrestle with the issue, there was another Saturn-Pluto alignment. And so, these periods in which there’s large amounts of deaths are sometimes being indicated by mundane indicators, with things like that, or things like eclipses, for example. I think that’s one of the reasons why eclipses have been associated with disasters and things like that because sometimes it’s relating to large groups of people rather than just singular individuals.
MD: Yeah, that’s really interesting to address the law of subsumption. You might not be able to see an indicator of death in a natal chart, but because that individual is part of a larger-operating, society-level chart the indicator for death is in the chart of that society or that nation or that general mundane event. The Saturn-Pluto transit cycle is such a far-reaching cycle that it could subsume individual or just minor charts within it. Is that what you’re saying?
CB: Yeah, basically, that there’s country charts. I remember when 9/11 happened, there was a lot of discussion about the Saturn-Pluto opposition which was going exact at that time in Sagittarius and Cancer—Sagittarius and Gemini—and that that was right on the ascendant/descendant axis of the United States. So there was a broader country chart that was indicating major negative things at the time and in some way that gets manifested in the individual lives of a large group of people who are subsumed by that country chart in some ways at the time. Even more recently we had talked on the last forecast and in part two of the ‘eclipses’ episode a little bit about how the chart of Israel had Libra rising; and so Libra was where that eclipse just took place last month. So there’s different charts that are telling you things for the country or region or group as a whole that are being indicated sometimes for lots of people.
MD: That makes sense. That makes me wonder too if then on the individual nativity level you could see a person who might have been caught up in a nationwide tragedy but who made it out alive, or who either escaped with injuries that didn’t end up being life-threatening. Like people who maybe were going to work in say the Twin Towers on the morning of September 11 but who for whatever reason had something that pulled them away from work that day. And so, are there particular indicators in an individual nativity that show the good fortune of maybe escaping death, of not being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
CB: Yeah, for sure. Like the story of the person who was supposed to be on one of the planes but changed his plane at the last minute for 9/11 or something like that, and then was tremendously lucky to not end up there, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yeah, there’s a lot of broader things like that. I think that does take us back to a point that you mentioned earlier on that would have been a good establishing point, that, traditionally, astrologers associated the 8th house in a birth chart with death as a main topic for how that comes up both in a way that relates personally, either in the person’s life, but other times in the way that death can sometimes play a role in the person’s life even if it’s not their own. But I think what actually started this discussion this morning was the death of Matthew Perry and that we have a birth time for him. And he was an actor, a famous actor, that was in Friends, the sitcom in the 1990s, as well as a few movies. But he passed away about a week ago, the day of a lunar eclipse, and then I went back and noticed that he was actually born within a week of a lunar eclipse. And what was also notable is that he had Leo rising, and Saturn was stationing retrograde the week that he died in his 8th house.
MD: Stationing direct.
CB: Stationing direct, right, at 0° of Pisces in his 8th house, in the sign of Pisces. We had just talked about in the forecast episode how there had been all these weird incidents involving water and negative things surrounding water the last time that Saturn stationed in Pisces in June, where we had that horrific submarine implosion that the media was so focused on the week that Saturn stationed retrograde in Pisces. So we had made some statements about that in the forecast for this upcoming station, and then after that came out Matthew Perry ended up reportedly passing out and drowning in a hot tub. But Saturn was stationing in his 8th house of death, in the sign of Pisces, which is a water sign. And if you go back and read Vettius Valens from the 2nd century, he’s constantly talking about the 8th house, water signs, and Saturn as being related to death in water; so it’s like his death in some weird way was weirdly symbolized by the astrology that was happening at the time. And I don’t want to focus on that too much, in the sense that it happened so recently. Sometimes there can be a distastefulness when astrologers rush to comment on the deaths of recent media personalities, so I want to talk about that respectfully. But also, it sort of goes to the point of what we’re talking about, where sometimes there can be these weird symbolic ways—when a person does pass away, especially prematurely or in an accident—that’s unique, that the astrology can describe in some ways.
MD: Mm-hmm. And I think the other thing about Matthew Perry or the reason why I started talking about him this morning was it was almost more in this 4th house way, where the 4th house can be associated with I guess the legacy of the person, how they’ll be remembered at the end of life; I see that referenced occasionally. And I was reading this article in The New York Times written by his friend Hank Azaria who was just describing how much Matthew Perry meant to him in terms of a person who helped him with his own substance abuse recovery and was almost like this spiritually-inspiring figure to him, and I noticed that Matthew Perry had the Moon in Scorpio in the 4th house ruling the 12th house. So there’s this way in which the description that the author was talking about—these experiences going to AA meetings—this was how they discovered what God is to them, and that they were describing God as the sense of community or fellowship with other people who are trying to recover from their darkest days or the darkest hours. People who are sharing their most vulnerable experiences with each other, people who are helping one another to realize and accept that there’s nothing to be ashamed of in life, that you’re not uniquely alone in your experiences of tragedy or your experiences of personal suffering or loss of self-control, etc.; that there’s always other people who are having similar or even more tragic experiences than you. And so, it felt to me like this ‘Scorpio Moon’ or this ‘Cancer 12th’ expression of being remembered as someone who nurtured a community around struggle and loss and fellowship in this way.
CB: Yeah, and I think that’s something he wanted to be known for, and he made some statement to that effect. He was like, “I understand when I pass away at some point I’ll be known primarily as the guy that was on Friends, and as an actor,” and stuff. But he says, “But what I hope I’m also known for is that I tried to help people that struggled with addiction and tried to use my own struggles to help other people that were dealing with the same thing.”
MD: And it just makes me think about, in addition to the 8th house, the various signs that have more of a proclivity to either experience matters related to loss or struggle or death, etc., or who are drawn to, if not experiencing them, to communing with other people around them. And it’s almost like a trope, but we see Scorpio being one of those signs that does attract I guess fellowship around loss or personal experiences related to loss. And so, it’s just one of those things where we don’t have necessarily that modern astrological take on the ABCs of ‘Scorpio equals 8th house’, but it’s interesting to look at maybe other places in the chart that describe experiences like that.
CB: Yeah, I was glad you mentioned the 4th house. ‘Cause I know about 10 years ago—when I was doing a lot of my research for my book and for my course on Hellenistic astrology and putting together the profections lectures—that the 4th house kept coming up for death; the 8th house was not the only house that was looked at for death, but also the 4th house was related to death and legacy and things like that. And to some extent the 7th house as well is the place where the Sun sets each day and sort of metaphorically dies and then goes under the Earth, but the 4th house kept coming up. And one of the ways that was interesting was in a 4th house profection year, that always happens at the age of 27. And so, it’s like you get those weird things that happen sometimes like the ‘27 club’ of musicians that have passed away at the age of 27. Whether that’s partially a reflection of that 4th house profection year, it’s just a house that in modern astrology we don’t usually associate with death; but in ancient astrology they very much did because it’s the place furthest under the ground, under the Earth.
MD: I guess I was reading Demetra George’s volume two of Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice, and you kind of chuckle to yourself because you see how many houses in the chart have death as one of their significations, trying to tease apart which ones indicate personal death or which ones indicate just other topics related to death. And she was describing that in the ancient world or in Greek society this association with the 4th house being both a person’s home and having a death association felt like it could represent the way in which—again, I’m not an expert in ancient Greek culture. But she was describing how, as you would enter a home in ancient Greek society, there would be altars or shrines to deceased relatives as you were coming into the home. So this cultural relationship with the ancestors or with the dead ones who have come before you—who you want to daily keep in your thoughts or you even pay gratitude to or pay homage to— there were some associations there with the home and with the deceased ones.
CB: Yeah, for sure. I see that come up a lot. The 4th house relates to parents, but also your ancestors and ancestry and the past of your family. And sometimes when the 4th house is activated people can go through these periods of really wanting to know more about their ancestry and their past ancestors and things like that, which can involve sometimes researching records of family members that have passed away from your history in order to understand in some ways where you came from or what your family origins were.
MD: It’s making me wonder again about just the topic of subsumption. In a 4th house activation, does one subsume the patterns of one’s ancestors? I mean, what often happens in the ‘27 club’ is that there’s some level of substance use that ends up being related to the death, and if a person dies from substance use there’s often perhaps, not ancestral, but something that relates to their childhood experiences that might have contributed to their psychology being particularly vulnerable to substances.
CB: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, there’s different reasons that people struggle with addiction and addiction issues and different motivations for different experiences in a person’s background, so I don’t I can’t speak to that, but I can say I know there was at least one instance where I had found a connection between the ruler of the 6th and the ruler of the 4th. There was a famous writer who had inherited a genetic disorder from his father, where he ran into more and more cognitive issues the older he got; and then his father ended up killing himself and then the person ended up killing himself in the end as well. So sometimes, yeah, there can be things like that in terms of things that we inherit, like let’s say a genetic disorder from our parents that can cause trouble or be tricky in terms of our own life. I guess the way in which to phrase that is the way in which the past or our family past can affect our life in the present is one of the ways the 4th house that can be relevant, very broadly speaking.
MD: Exactly. So then perhaps in some sort of 4th house activation, the past is more present in the life of the native in some way that is not necessarily detrimental, but depending on other factors could indicate some kind of threat to the life of the native.
CB: Yeah, or just a way that it influences things. Yeah, ’cause there’s so many different circumstances,
CB: There’s such a wide range of different circumstances. And I think one of the most important things is that astrology is a symbolic language that describes the range of experiences that a person’s probably going to have, but it does so symbolically, and as a result of that you can develop very strong ideas about what you think it will mean. But until the day comes and until you get to that time, and you’ve seen how the person’s life plays out, you can never know for sure exactly 100% how that placement is gonna work out, even if you have a very strong idea or pretty good informed inference about what it’s gonna mean. And I think one of the things that’s an important caution when people get into this topic right away is they should not develop a really intense assumption or thoughts about exactly how their life or their death is gonna play out because sometimes you can be off. Even if you’re broadly correct archetypally about the direction things might go, you can still be wildly off in the specifics, so it’s not a good idea to develop an unhealthy fascination with trying to figure out one’s death or something like that.
MD: Yeah, it’s sort of that metaphor of—using a predictive tool like astrology—you can see perhaps the shadows on the wall, almost like Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’. We can see the shadows on the wall, but that’s not actual life; the actual life experience will be the people who are casting the shadows. So we’re getting this kind of future glimpse of what the shadow play looks like but we don’t exactly know what the full, embodied, three-dimensional experience will end up coalescing into within that range of possible archetypes.
CB: Yeah, well, and astrology is very contextual. It’s like the more context you know, the more accurately you’ll be able to interpret the astrology about how things are gonna play out. But especially when you’re talking about timeframes like 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years in the future, you have so little context about who you’ll be and where your life will be at that time that it can be very difficult to say, in very firm specifics, certain things about it. But that’s part of the tension with astrology just in general.
CB: So let’s go back and redirect. ‘Cause one of the things we talked about yesterday, we talked about eclipses; I’ve been talking about eclipses a lot. But you said that you have been personally dealing with a personal loss in your life over the past year, and I was curious. I guess the way to open this topic is one of the reasons why it’s important is because astrologers, when they learn astrology, they become an astrologer. And by that I mean a person who regularly looks at their birth chart and applies astrology to their everyday life—I classify anybody that does that essentially as an astrologer. Astrologers—one of the ways that they grieve and cope with death is by looking at the astrology both in their chart as well as the person who passed away and other people around them as a way of sometimes trying to understand what happened, to get some perspective on it, to sometimes understand the broader meaning and purpose of things. And that’s just kind of like part of the grieving process, I feel, for astrologers, which, on the one hand, is a way of almost intellectualizing the grieving process. And there could be positive or negative things to that, but I think for the most part it’s like a positive thing that astrologers do that’s okay and it’s worth exploring and understanding better how they do that. What was that process like for you? What happened with you this year?
MD: Yeah, so my father died earlier this year, I think it was March 22. And I agree that, yeah, sometimes as astrologers we tend to compartmentalize things or intellectualize things ‘cause there’s often a correlation with being a rather intellectual person if you are really geeking out on astrology; not universally so. But, yeah, you might be a person who thinks a lot and reflects a lot, so it is natural to want to get some kind of ‘#astrologer’ good moment out of any personally-significant event. So, yeah, I certainly found myself feeling like, “Oh, wow, my own father just died. That’s such a personally-significant event in the life of this native. So what’s happening in my chart that might indicate that? What is my life from here on out? This is an important turning point for me.”
CB: I mean, was it important? How did it impact you?
MD: You want me to speak to that?
CB: I mean, did you have a close relationship? How old was he?
MD: Yeah, yeah. So I’m trying to think of the math. He was probably 67 at the time. So we’ve had kind of a tumultuous relationship. There were a lot of ways in which I would identify with him or have some types of loving bonds as a child, but he was a pretty emotionally-abusive, self-involved person, and there’s a long history of he and my mother sort of splitting up, getting back together, doing that over and over again in my childhood that led to quite a disruptive, insecure foundation in that way.
CB: Okay, so that’s an important point ‘cause that actually comes up and has come up recently for me with a few friends. There’s a different thing based on the nature of the relationship and when looking at the charts you can’t take it for granted what the nature of the relationship is, but sometimes that context adds context about how the person might experience that death or not.
CB: Sometimes it’s experienced as more negative if they were very close. But if a person wasn’t super close, it might not be experienced as negatively, necessarily, even if it still shows up in the chart.
MD: Yeah, yeah. So at the time that he died, we had been estranged for about 15 months; like I had sort of finally made the conscious choice to cut off communication with him. And so, there is definitely an experience of tragic loss in terms of just it would have been nice to have maybe attempted to have another conversation, but I had blocked him in many ways. He had attempted another method of reaching out just two weeks before he passed.
CB: How did he pass away?
MD: We think it was a stroke.
MD: Yeah, maybe lifestyle-related or just generally, yeah, something that can happen at that age. So sudden, unexpected—that happens at the same time that you’re not in contact with someone. I guess the way I see him in my chart is he’s like the Sun, which is often associated with the father, for instance. And I have the Sun placed in the whole sign 4th house, so it even doubly so seems to be a clear indicator of the father in a way.
CB: So you have Capricorn rising, and you have the Sun in Aries in the 4th house.
CB: Okay. Yeah, well, that was one of the things, when you told me it was earlier this year, that I immediately thought of—we had our first eclipse in Aries earlier this year in April, I think, so it would have been right after that. Basically, right after your father died, there was a lunar eclipse in your 4th house of parents and the father.
MD: Yeah, so when I think of the process of unpacking for me—unpacking the nature of that relationship or trying to understand so many ways in which a figure who is sort of controlling or abusive or centers a lot of attention around themselves and a family once they’re gone you—what does the rest of the family do? How do they process that death? So in that way I think, yeah, the eclipses are certainly signifying to me to understand my current interpretation of my family history or my ancestral lineage. He struggled with alcoholism and other substances, so even looking at what that looks like as a legacy in a family is one of the topics.
CB: That’s an interesting point. That’s actually a good point. One of the things, from an intellectual standpoint, is when a person does pass away—and I think this is especially true for celebrities, and it’s one of the reasons why astrologers sometimes end up focusing on it in the immediate aftermath—it’s like you know at that point that a person’s story is done then; that you’ve reached the end of the book of the person’s life. ‘Cause one of the dangers in astrology of using celebrity examples or using somebody as an example if they’re still alive is their book isn’t finished yet and they’re still writing it, and there’s still maybe many more chapters that you haven’t gotten to. Which can sometimes be a little bit annoying in terms of doing a consultation, especially with somebody that’s very young, and seeing certain indicators in their birth chart and saying what it means. They can sometimes have a reaction of like, “That doesn’t fit,” and one of the issues can become that it just hasn’t happened yet, but it will later in their life, especially as they get older. But when a person passes away it’s like the book of their life is finished being written, so therefore you can look at their chart and the totality of their life to understand their story because of that sense of finality at that point.
MD: And that’s definitely the feeling or the thought process I was having at that time that felt very profound to me—the book of his life is over but the book of my life is ongoing. And because of the estrangement I was angry about that. I was like, “Oh, well, he just gets to opt out.” In so much as his death is a reflection of his life, he will always be known for having never resolved the difficulties, the estrangement from his children and things like that; so it’s like what a tragic ending in this way. And meanwhile, those of us who are still alive, whatever level or whatever span of time our lives intersected with his, it will be just another piece of our own journeys that we’ll have to unpack and process, and we’ll be affected by that legacy of having interacted with him.
CB: Right. So it’s like the eclipses started in your 4th house, which is interesting in itself. And if you’re a Capricorn rising then that means this Venus retrograde in Leo this summer would have been in your 8th house.
CB: So in the immediate aftermath of him passing away and as you’re processing that, some of those transits are taking place through your 8th house.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. And there’s a few other things, like it wasn’t just the death of my father, but I’ve also suffered from a number of miscarriages in the past two years; so those have ended up correlating kind of eerily with some events related to my father as well. And I’m a Moon in the 8th house native, so there’s some way in which family experiences and experiences related to maybe childbirth as well have been similarly touched by these 8th house experiences.
CB: Yeah, that’s actually really interesting. I mean, we’re just getting out of the Taurus/Scorpio eclipse series. We just had our last one on the 4th, so that would have been bouncing back and forth between your 5th and your 11th.
CB: But that’s a really big area where sometimes people do suffer losses in pregnancy, or even the loss of a child being indicated by 5th house indications is a major way that the topic of death comes up in astrology sometimes in a very personal way.
MD: Yeah, and it makes me think as well to what extent can the 12th house also speak to death because of the indications of loss or of suffering. And I was observing that, on the one hand, yeah, I’ve got a really stacked 5th house—it’s Taurus, Venus is in domicile, Jupiter is co-present—so one might think that it’s something that on the surface would show an abundance of children, for instance. But Jupiter is also the lord of my 12th house. So seeing some indicator there, where the planet that rules the topic of loss and grief is present in the 5th, and seeing that manifest in a way is interesting ‘cause Jupiter on its own obviously doesn’t represent that. But then being a 12th house lord seems to correlate with some experiences relevant to that.
CB: Right, for sure. And if it’s a night chart the Jupiter’s not able to be as benefic as he would like to be.
CB: Do you want to show your chart?
CB: I guess we did on the ‘Capricorn’ episode, didn’t we?
MD: Yeah, yeah. I’m happy to, if it feels relevant. I was gonna reference as well, just when we were talking about the Sun in the 4th house, the Sun is overcome by sign-based squares from both malefics, as well as a pretty close square from Neptune. So there are some indicators there as well I think that speak to my experience of my father, as well as my life choices as a Capricorn native seem to be in reaction to what I perceived as his life choices.
CB: What’s your birth date?
MD: It’s 28th of March, 1988.
CB: What time?
MD: 2:13 AM.
MD: San Diego.
CB: 25 Capricorn rising?
CB: So we’re looking at a chart with 25° of Capricorn rising, and there’s four planets in Capricorn which are in the 4th whole sign house.
MD: The 1st.
CB: Sorry, yeah, the 1st whole sign house, thanks. So Uranus at 1 Capricorn, Saturn at 2 Capricorn, Neptune at 10, and Mars at 23. Pluto is conjunct the degree of the midheaven, which is in the 11th whole sign house, and the midheaven’s at 14 Scorpio, and Pluto’s at 12. The Moon is at 13 Leo in the 8th house. The IC is in Taurus in the 5th sign house at 14°, and then Jupiter is also in the 5th at 4 Taurus, and Venus is at 23 Taurus in the 5th. The Sun is at 7° of Aries in the 4th whole sign house, and Mercury is conjunct the North Node in Pisces in the 3rd whole sign house, with Mercury at 17° of Pisces and the North Node at 23 Pisces. So wait a minute—are you an ‘eclipse’ person?
MD: I think I was born, yeah, after maybe a solar eclipse in Pisces.
CB: Yeah, there was a solar eclipse in Pisces on March 17. So in the range of getting out, but it might still be in the range and close enough. You were born on March 28, so about 10 days after one.
MD: Yeah. What’s the orb you’ve been using for that?
CB: We’ve been using the tightest orb of like a week. But we did notice that we were going a bit outside of that because that was basically the previous lunation or the prenatal lunation right before you were born. So that may give you eclipse signatures just in terms of making eclipses more important in your life.
MD: That’s interesting to consider.
CB: Yeah, we talked about that a little bit yesterday, eclipses. Because you mentioned that you were in a 7th house profection year, and you had an eclipse happen in Cancer in your 7th house, and you ended a major relationship, but then you also started a relationship with the person who would become your marriage partner.
MD: Yeah, and the interesting overlap as well with the lord of the 7th being in the 8th house is this fact that my marriage partner is my business partner.
MD: Like the way in which our romantic relationship simultaneously developed as a business relationship seems to be relatively rare or a very specific signification of the lord of the 7th in the 8th.
CB: Right. Yeah, so that’s interesting. Just going back to the 4th house and that eclipse that happened afterwards, you said you’d been dealing with some miscarriages over the past couple of years. Starting like literally two years ago, in November of 2021, is when we had our first eclipse, a lunar eclipse, in Taurus, which would have been in your 5th house.
MD: And that was a month after my first miscarriage. It would have been in October 2012.
CB: Wow, okay.
CB: So you were dealing with the immediate aftermath of that, and then there was an eclipse in your 5th house of children.
CB: Yeah, I mean, one of the things we learned with eclipses last month is just that, especially with solar eclipses, it’s like daytime and the Sun is shining, and it’s like the normal cycles of nature and life and vitality. And then all of a sudden the Moon moves in front of it and it’s almost like the snuffing out of life at that point in the middle of the day, and it’s sort of an interruption in that natural cycle. And I think that’s why sometimes eclipses are associated with negative things because of that perception or that experience of them.
CB: So it seems like, yeah, that eclipses can sometimes be associated with that depending on what house they’re falling in. And also, just because it’s indicating a major turning point or nexus point in time, you’re experiencing something very deep related to the topic of that house.
MD: Yeah, and interesting to consider too, I guess, is whether an eclipse—sort of what we were talking about yesterday—whether it feels like it’s the right time for a thing to end. Whether an eclipse happens to line up with an internal feeling of like, “Yeah, I’m done with that thing,” or whether it ends up being a total surprise, like a life is snuffed out but it was unexpected.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s a good point. ‘Cause, on the one hand, sometimes they represent the ending of a major chapter and it’s almost like the natural life cycle of something. Like with a 10th house eclipse, you end a career or something. Or you had a 7th house eclipse and a relationship ended; it had run its course in some way. But then other times eclipses do have this chaotic quality where things happen somewhat unexpectedly and almost dramatically.
MD: Yeah, and sometimes they can be for the good. I think I remember earlier that year, in 2018—when I’m talking about the eclipse seasons of that year—the Aquarius/Leo eclipses were still in effect; and for me that’s the 2nd and 8th house. And I had an experience I think very close to one of those eclipses—either the Aquarius solar eclipse or the Leo lunar eclipse, in that beginning of the year—where I started a job that just increased in a level of income that was dramatically higher than what I had experienced previously to that, and it sort of came out of the blue. It was like someone found me on LinkedIn and just solicited me as a person to take on this work. So that was the beginning of a new era in terms of my relationship with finances or personal assets. ‘Cause prior to that, as any Capricorn rising would be, there’s a strong awareness of and relationship to finances but nothing that felt like it was a very secure foundation of finances. And so, I found that that eclipse correlated with just like a dramatic change in my relationship to money.
CB: Yeah, that’s definitely a big thing when eclipses or things are hitting the 2nd and the 8th houses, hitting that axis. All right, I’m trying to think of other things. So obviously one of the things we’ve seen here is there were indicators in your chart of the death of your father and that some of your processing of it was being indicated by the transits that were hitting your chart in the aftermath of that, as well as the miscarriages as well and the way that that affected you. So it’s like one of the things we’re seeing then is just that death sometimes shows up in the people that it affects and how they’re processing it and how they’re dealing with it in the aftermath of that.
MD: Yeah, definitely. And I guess just as another potential topic, which is kind of tangential, is when people work in death—like when people are say working in hospice care or death doulas or mortuary services—I think that’s an interesting topic to explore as well.
CB: Oh, yeah, when people have career significators. I had one person once that had the ruler of the 10th house of career in the 8th house of death, and they worked in a mortuary.
MD: Yeah, there seems to be a strong correlation. I mean, sometimes we see the 8th house career significators indicating working with depth psychology I guess, because we see also the 8th house having significations of fear and anxiety. But it’s always funny to me I guess when unpacking someone’s 8th with them, where they might be anxious about this strong correlation with death in their chart. But then you ask them and they’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, I was kind of considering training to become a death doula,” or they’ve already been working in hospice care and it’s personally fulfilling and significant to them. So, again, kind of distinguishing when something is indicating the health of the native themselves versus indicating them either working in death or experiencing other people’s deaths, etc.
CB: Right. Yeah, it’s like the archetype is manifesting, but sometimes the person is becoming almost the agent of it rather than it being something that’s happening to them. Although sometimes in those instances it’s both because it can be a person that has a profound experience with a death and then decides that they want to go into that area to help other people, which is a common theme.
MD: Yeah, true. Once again just thinking about how much, at least in my opinion, a cultural awareness of and acceptance of death would be beneficial for just collective mental health. Because it’s just so often that people experience a loss and then find that they’re suddenly in this new category of person. Having a close personal loss, yeah, you can feel like you, yourself, are changed as a person and it’s not always easy to find resources for support at those times, and other people in your life who haven’t experienced a close personal loss might not know how to relate. And so, yeah, just how much that experience can change a person, again, is pretty interesting.
CB: Yeah, for sure. People can feel a sort of stigma surrounding it because they’ve gone through this intense transformative experience and that only they can relate to, and then sometimes it can make it harder to relate to other people or to go back to normal life. People have this experience of it being very stark—they’re supposed to experience something like that and then just go back to the way things were or seeing that life is going on for everyone around them, but they’re still very much stuck in the grieving process. And the process of coping with that can definitely be really difficult, and the reason why is sometimes there can be other longer-term transits that are still happening for a while in a person’s life and it’s taking them a while to deal with and process what happened.
MD: It’s making me think as well again about the malefic-ruled signs. And if people have some kind of strong association with either a chart ruler in a malefic sign or a malefic sign rising—you being like Capricorn, Aquarius, Aries, and Scorpio—I think for those people, maybe not universally so, in the life of that native, the malefic topics that are antithetical to life are present in their lives and are maybe unavoidable; or to some extent a person ruled by malefics is carrying that heaviness with them by way of personal experience. Because our society doesn’t necessarily have a place for that you can see it leading to some of the significations that people with those chart signifiers experience. Saturn and Mars are both archetypes that exist sort of like at the fringes of society or are sort of like outcasts from society, in the way in which people start to feel isolated or start to feel like they can’t quite rejoin society. But I think it’s interesting to analyze when a person has a collection of planets say in Scorpio or in Capricorn or in Aquarius and how much they relate to that type of experience of being seen as other or of feeling isolated because of their experiences with maybe loss or tragedy.
CB: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I want to avoid generalizing too much with zodiac signs in particular, but I would say that in originally making the case for recovering the distinction between benefics and malefics, especially 10 years ago, that was a case that had to be made because modern astrologers had explicitly gone out of their way to reject that conceptual basis, because they would point and say that sometimes the malefics can coincide with constructive things, which is true. But one of the arguments for just the existence of benefic and malefic is the ability to see the areas of a person’s life where sometimes they do struggle or do experience extreme hardship or loss and being able to account for that and speak to that. And part of the premise is that if there’s a category of things that indicate positive things in a person’s life, there has to be a category of things that indicate the opposite, which are negative things or challenges or loss. And sometimes that does come down to positive or negative indicators in the chart that indicate the areas where we’ll suffer or experience some of our most negative experiences that are subjectively things that are not preferable, that we would prefer not to experience or that we experience as extreme levels of suffering or loss or grief. Yeah, and sometimes those placements in the chart can indicate for sure where we’ll experience some of those things, ’cause for each person it’s different.
Like for some people, just thinking about the topic of death in particular, I’ve seen somebody who had difficult placements in the 7th house and they lost a marriage partner who died prematurely just a few years into their marriage. I’ve seen somebody that had it related to children; it was the premature loss of a young child and the grief surrounding that. I’ve seen others that had it related to parental significators and they lost a parent when they were very young. I’ve seen others, even celebrity ones. Like Dave Grohl, for example, has Mars in the 11th house in what I think is actually a day chart; he’s right on the border. But when Kurt Cobain died, for most people around the world there was this period of grief and shock and stuff for this famous musician. Everybody had listened to Kurt Cobain’s music through Nirvana and stuff and that was the experience of seeing somebody’s life cut tragically short by suicide. But for Dave Grohl, it was like he lost a friend, and his immediate experience was losing a friend to that. And then just a few years later, he experienced that again with the loss of Taylor Hawkins, his drummer for like the past 20, almost 30 years. So sometimes people experience loss through friendship and that can be one of the most extreme manifestations of difficult placements in that house. The experience can be so different to different people, but still very personally impactful, and it can still change their life in very notable ways.
MD: That’s a great point too about not generalizing about signs in particular, and of also how there must exist malefics or things that signify death because there are things that signify life. I guess it’s just the balanced nature of the system where we do need to be able to identify some things as signifying the unfortunate experiences in life.
CB: Yeah, I mean, if there’s something in the chart that indicates a person winning the lottery and having sudden success or good fortune then there has to be something that indicates the opposite, like somebody that gambles all of their money and loses everything or is tremendously unfortunate with things. I guess that’s why part of the subtitle of my book is Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune because I believe that some groups of people or that some people around the 1st century BCE created a new system of astrology and developed a system that was able to study fate and create an objective framework for studying fate through the alignment of the planets and through natal astrology in particular. But it’s also wrapped up in concepts of fortune and good fortune and bad fortune, which normally we experience as a random and sort of chaotic force in nature, this idea of fortune being capricious. But in the ancient world, and especially to the Stoics, fortune was something that was subsumed under fate so that even the random capricious acts of good fortune or bad fortune were something that was part of a person’s fate and were part of a broader network or framework of fate.
CB: But one of the things ancient astrologers then would attempt to do was identify the areas of good fortune and bad fortune as general categories of the areas where a person will tend to have some of their greatest struggles, or on the other hand, some of their most positive events where things come easily to them.
MD: Yeah, and a person wants to know generally all of that information to varying degrees, depending on what the person’s personality is like. But generally most people are gonna want to know both: when are they likely to be in the right place at the right time, when are they likely to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It makes me think of zodiacal releasing, when we study maybe the intersection of Fortune and Spirit. To what degree can a person’s spirit or their will harmonize with their fortune or circumstances that are beyond their control? There’s sort of that back and forth, looking at how much will we have, how much we can work with or how much we can overcome our fortune and, like you were saying, how fortune gets subsumed by fate in a certain way.
CB: Yeah, and that brings up an interesting point, which is in the ancient world Hellenistic astrology was developed—the system was developed because largely most of the ancient world was Stoic in context; your future was predetermined, and you used astrology or divination to find out your future so that you know the things that you have to accept. They believed that it would be more psychologically helpful to be able to accept things in the future as though they were in the present, to prepare yourself so that you’re not thrown off into extremes internally in terms of the ability to adopt a more internal sense of equilibrium and tranquility. So it’s like that was the viewpoint in the ancient world of why you would want to do something like astrology to know your future and to have some preparation for it. But that definitely brings up some questions in modern times of is foreknowledge beneficial inherently? And I think that’s a tricky question because in some instances it might be, whereas in other instances it might not be; or there could be instances where maybe that could be harmful or knowledge that’s not necessarily gonna be helpful to the person or could throw them off in different ways. It depends a little bit on a person’s temperament and a number of different factors.
MD: Yeah, that’s true. I feel like I have that conversation often with people in discussing fate versus free will, where people maybe take for granted that their temperament is informing their philosophy or their preference for that.
CB: That they know that, or that they don’t realize that?
MD: I guess that they don’t realize that, if they have say a strong proclivity towards free will or towards individual determinism by way of your own choices or actions as opposed to the philosophy of surrendering to your fate or taking your fate as graciously and effectively as you can. Either side of that coin might feel more comforting or more logical to one person or another depending on their overall temperament or their relationship with the archetypes that indicate such things. If I could know the length of my life or certain events into the future, as a super-Capricornian person, I would be very happy to have that information so I could prepare myself accordingly, or so I could know which efforts are the best use of my time and which ones are a waste of time. But, again, that’s kind of a generalization of Capricorn, but other people are like, “Absolutely not. I don’t want to know. I believe strongly that I am affecting my own destiny. And even if I’m not, I don’t want to know what’s coming. That would give me anxiety.”
CB: Yeah, and also the issue of anxiety and self-fulfilling prophecy scenarios is something that’s a potential pitfall—though not always—’cause most astrologers experience that the astrology is working in our lives even despite our best efforts. So it’s not really a matter of self-fulfilling prophecy most of the time because sometimes it’s just external circumstances that are happening to us, but that brings up one of the ethical arguments that happens sometimes in modern times. I think most astrologers are in agreement that as a matter of ethics, as a consulting astrologer, it’s usually seen as not ethical to predict somebody’s death or try to make a statement like that. I think that’s true and probably a good place that we’re at this point, but it’s definitely one of the differences between modern versus ancient astrology. In some of the texts, like Ptolemy, their rationale was this is the first thing that we should try to figure out; their very practical rationale was that it doesn’t make sense to predict things for a person in the future if they’re not gonna live to see those things.
CB: So that was part of their philosophical rationale for trying to figure out the length of life first so that you have a context for ‘Should I be doing calculations for this person’s time-lord periods, for like 50 years from now, or is that not gonna be necessary for some reason?’
MD: Yeah, and I think in the day and age it would have to be a consent-based process whether or not the native is interested in that type of information, if it could be ascertained: some kind of length of life or moment of death and is that something that a person is interested in knowing or not interested in knowing.
CB: Yeah, I mean, also it’s very abstract. ‘Cause, on the one hand, I think the vast majority of astrologers I don’t think they can predict death reliably enough, and I would not put my faith in the vast majority of astrologers to be able to do that from a technical standpoint with any degree of—not any degree of certainty, but with enough certainty to take that prediction as a foregone conclusion. So that’s one of the reasons why I think from an ethical standpoint I agree with some of those modern and contemporary prohibitions against predicting death. I do think there’s probably certain limited circumstances though that I’ve heard of where it might be permissible if somebody is dealing with end-of-life matters and they’re trying to make arrangements for somebody, where the certainty of death is already there and they’re in hospice or something like that, or they’re dealing with the very end of a long struggle with an illness or something like that. I’ve heard about instances where somebody’s trying to make arrangements either for themselves or what have you. And they’re not trying to get a specific prediction for the exact end of their life for idle purposes—‘cause they’re bored or something like that—but they’re trying to get additional information that may be helpful as they’re trying to get their affairs in order or something like that. I mean, even with that you would have to be extremely careful, and it would still be a very provisional type of thing. So there’s still ethical issues about what should be said or not said, as well as the effectiveness of the individual astrologer doing something like that because I don’t think most astrologers even specialize in that enough to be able to do it as authoritatively as might be ideally called for. But there’s certain limited circumstances where you can kind of understand why somebody might want to look into that more in certain circumstances.
MD: That’s a great point. Generally speaking, it would be inadvisable to consult most astrologers on the topic of predicting death because of how complex it is or because of how little it’s actually been studied.
CB: Yeah, I mean, frankly, it’s part of a broader issue in our field, which is just that most astrologers learn astrology and they’re an astrologer first, and then secondarily may have one or two other specialty topics that they have some familiarity with. But for most things in astrology, in order to do it well and in order to apply astrology well to a specific sub-field, you need to become an expert not just in the astrology but also in the subject that you’re trying to predict. So this is true for financial astrology. You can’t just learn astrology and then immediately apply it to the stock market or something and be an amazing success in financial astrology, you actually have to be good in finance at the same time—like an expert in the specific area of investing that you’re gonna try to invest in—and then you combine it with astrology at a very high level at the same time; but that takes years and years of practice and learning both the astrology side and the financial side to do that really well. And one of the issues that we have in our field is for many astrologers, they’ll learn a little bit about the astrology and then try to apply it to a sub-discipline, but they both won’t have gone far enough into the astrological studies and won’t have gone far enough into the individual subsection to truly do and combine those two things well in the best and most effective way. And it’s something I’m constantly encouraging people—if they want to really specialize in some application of astrology. You’ve got to really dig in deep in both of those and try to learn them as deeply as you can in order to do that effectively, because otherwise it can lead to a certain amount of sloppiness or inaccuracy that could have been avoided with just deeper study.
MD: That makes sense. I think that a lot of beginning astrologers feel that pressure to be able to speak to anything in the chart. And, yeah, not being afraid to admit when a certain topic is out of your area of expertise or to even market your services as specific, you can consult on these types of life topics because they’re the ones that you study or are most familiar with. It would be interesting I guess to see maybe if there was more of a trend towards that rather than giving general overall life advice or consulting on anything under the Sun; if astrologers were to—I guess sort of what I was referring to yesterday—just specialize in something that they do feel confident in with their knowledge base.
CB: Sure. I mean, I guess I should also back up and say astrologers have to be generalists to some extent because astrology is so broad. And especially as a consulting astrologer you see so many people from so many different walks of life that you end up having to develop all these different skills; pr just as an astrologer you have to develop lots of different understandings of different fields at least at some basic level, like you’ve got to learn about the history of astrology. If you’re a consulting astrologer sometimes you need to learn some counseling techniques or things like that. If you want to speak to psychology you need to learn psychology. If you want to apply astrology and talk about the stock market or Bitcoin or whatever then you’ve got to learn about that. There’s lots of different things you can apply to astrology and all of us develop a pretty broad range of knowledge as much as we can. I guess just there’s certain topics that if you want to do it well, you really have to dig in deep. And when it comes to really serious things, I think it’s important just to be careful about how you’re approaching it, and that you’re not approaching it in a lax sort of manner.
MD: Yeah, the ethical considerations and always keeping those in mind.
CB: Yeah, for sure, for sure. ‘Cause that was something we talked about in the recent forecast, that when you’re acting as an astrologer and when you’re talking to other people, you’re kind of representing all of us in some ways. So it’s like don’t make us look bad by doing something dumb that’s unethical or improper, that your colleagues would view that way. Because even if you think that’s okay yourself, if you’re doing something that’s unethical that sort of reflects badly on all of us. And I think this is one of those areas where you can get into some tricky stuff if you’re not approaching it with a certain amount of care and respect and everything.
MD: Totally. That’s a great point that even though we are seeing so many more people getting into astrology or studying it more deeply these days, you’re still very likely as an astrologer to be the only person in the room and among a group of people who is as knowledgeable as you are in astrology; you’re quite often the expert in the room in the subject. So, yeah, you might end up representing to the layperson the entire field, the only person they’ve ever interacted with who is an actively-studying or practicing astrologer, so there is a responsibility to the community.
CB: For sure. Yeah, and I think that’ll become more and more important. We’ve been in this period of great popularity and sudden resurgence of astrology over the past five years or so. And as we head into a period where there might be more challenges to astrology or more blowback for astrology, just making sure astrologers are doing a good job and trying to act with integrity and ethics is definitely important.
CB: Okay, so what are some other topics in this broad topic that we decided to have an impromptu conversation about on the astrology of death that we haven’t touched on at this point?
MD: I mean, we could dive more into the 8th house in terms of looking at transits of the ruler of the 8th house as indicating times when it becomes more relevant, but we might not want to go back there.
CB: Yeah, I don’t know that I would look at transits of the ruler of the 8th house. I mean, certainly one of the things we’ve come up on is eclipses; like that’s been a major recurring thing for us. That’s definitely been very personal for me. Yeah, I remember there were eclipses in my mom’s chart, in her 5th house, when she lost her daughter, which was my sister, in a car accident. And what else? So eclipses are a major thing. There can be indicators in a person’s charge of difficulty in certain areas that are sort of built in, that can indicate circumstances that they grew up in; and that can relate to maybe family members that weren’t there growing up at a certain point.
MD: Mm-hmm. I noticed in my own solar return chart for the year in which my father died that I saw particularly negative significators. Like the lord of the IC was besieged by malefics in that solar return chart.
MD: Yeah, so I guess another possible indicator of unfortunate events related to the ruler of a house topic that is referencing someone else in the chart.
CB: Yeah, and the solar return chart possibly being relevant to that.
CB: Yeah, I guess in the ‘eclipses’ episode we talked about Einstein, when he had his miracle year; his solar return was very close to an eclipse. And so, there’s probably circumstances where an eclipse in a solar return chart could also sometimes indicate things coming up in a challenging or difficult sense as well.
MD: I’m wondering if you have any more information about the cultural context—you were mentioning the Stoic philosophy of ancient times—in terms of the relationship to death as being a part of life and how it might differ from today.
CB: No, I want to back up for a minute ’cause there’s one other personal one that I had, and I’ve shared this once in one of the first ‘eclipses’ episode I did with Leisa where we shared charts from the Mercury Cafe of people having eclipses; and I shared it at the end of it, but it was one that was actually personally relevant for me. In the aftermath of when my sister passed away, she was 20 and I was only 23. Yeah, I was about 23. I was trying to piece together what happened and understand things and using astrology in my grieving process was very much part of that. And one of the things that I noticed was that in the month before she died an eclipse happened and it was in my 8th house and her 8th house and my mother’s 5th house, so it was like indicating children for my mother and death or loss in me and my sister’s charts. But there was a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse and she ended up buying a used car the day of one of the eclipses; that ended up being the car that she was in the car accident with. And then a grocery store opened on the other eclipse two weeks later, which ended up being the destination that she was driving to that night, like late at night, when she got in a car accident.
CB: So that’s one of the ways is that, on the one hand, as a personal example, eclipses have always been relevant. And I think I ended up mentioning that in her eulogy, which I can’t find now, but it was also one of the ways I was trying to understand the meaning and purpose and understand that my life would be changed at that point and how that would change my life trajectory, which it certainly did, because then I moved back home. I moved back to Colorado to support my mom. And I understood at the time that it would change my life at that point, but I didn’t necessarily understand where it would take me from that point, but looking back in retrospect, it was certainly an inflection point. And, for sure, looking at the astrology of the time was helpful for me in coping with that process and seeing some of the things surrounding it.
MD: That makes sense. It ties back as well to that idea that an event like an eclipse might be happening somewhere else in your vicinity—like you were saying with the purchase of the car or the opening of the store—where there are so many other factors in the environment that are also experiencing natal transits or are coming into inception. I guess our charts intersect with these other charts.
CB: Yeah, sometimes, especially with eclipses, things will happen that will be important, but it won’t necessarily be within your field of view and you may not be aware of what’s happened that’s important until later. And that’s something that happens with other transits as well; that’s not limited to eclipses but it does seem that that’s more prevalent with eclipses. Sometimes something’s happening that’s important that will affect you, but you may or may not be aware of it yet.
CB: Yeah, that’s a major thing, and that’s true of other transits as well. Yeah, but that also just gets into some of the broader things about fate and other things like that and how our fate is sometimes part of interwoven paths and strands that intersect with other people and intersect with choices and other things like that we make that all sometimes converge at certain points in our life. As astrologers, we’re studying some of those things, and sometimes that can actually give us a great deal of reassurance. Something we were talking about yesterday was the tension between what astrology represents versus the modern contemporary, especially scientific or skeptical paradigm, which just holds that the universe is random and essentially meaningless. I do think that astrology—because it works and because of what it shows or can show about our lives and our fate and the narrative of our stories, and how it can show that large parts of that may be mapped out ahead of time—does show a greater sense of meaning and purpose underlying our lives than we might have reason to believe otherwise. And I think in doing so there’s something that can be inherently reassuring about astrology, especially when somebody’s coping with grief or loss.
MD: Yeah, I think that’s a very powerful point. Especially when coping with a loss, you can feel particularly subjected to this feeling of senselessness or meaninglessness or cruelty of the universe. And I guess the comforting thought that there’s an inherent order or there is a structure, or there is some sense of meaning that can be found, it makes sense. And it’s something that I think humans naturally do; like we can’t help but try to find meaning in things. I think it takes active resistance to ignore the symbols or the patterns or things that you might observe in your life. Even if you don’t have the language of astrology there’s sort of a natural tendency to want to see things as synchronous or having some kind of larger meaning than just our subjective experiences within our own minds.
CB: Yeah, well, I think that’s why sometimes when somebody’s dealing with loss or grief of a loved one that people can turn to religion, or religion can be very reassuring in those times because it can provide a little bit of that framework of telling you that there’s some sort of meaning or purpose. But I think for astrologers this is one of the ways in which astrology doesn’t replace that completely, but it can do something that serves a similar purpose, at least in showing you themes of meaning and purpose underlying both your life as well as others. That can be kind of reassuring and can help in different ways, especially if you’re already an astrologer and you’re already suited to that. Like I don’t know that that necessarily always comes off well if you’re a non-astrologer and somebody’s trying to tell you something about astrology that may not actually land very well. It’s only as a professional astrologer—somebody that’s been studying it for a while and can understand what they’re seeing and how that’s sort of interesting or how that provides a unique and maybe helpful viewpoint on things—that I think it can be reassuring. So it’s kind of like an in-crowd type of thing, but at least within that framework it can be useful for those people who astrology is one of the ways that they make sense or make meaning of their lives.
MD: Yeah, that’s a great point. You don’t want to preach to anyone who doesn’t have that already as a shared language or a shared paradigm for reality because it won’t land and it would be insensitive. But as I was kind of saying last night, from my own experience, I’m in a 12th house profection now, and it’s Sagittarius on the 12th, so it’s ruled by Jupiter. And I was just joking about how for me the experience of this familiarity with loss and other types of 12th house topics are coming with this Jupiterian perspective where I’m feeling a renewed sense of connecting to my own personal philosophy or establishing my own belief system, like how to establish meaning and purpose in life or how to derive hope in the face of the reality of tragic events. And so, I’m just like, yeah, this is a very particularly heavy point in my life that stands out, but I’m inspired, I’m excited in a certain way just as an astrologer. I see so many things correlating with the types of experiences that I’m having, and I’m motivated to find a broader context, to find this sort of holistic perspective or higher perspective that I think, to me, Jupiter can signify. And in my personal experience as a very Saturnian person, it can be relieving to almost need to turn to faith in a way, to be faced with so much of the heaviness of reality. In some ways, like you’re saying, that’s when faith often comes in for people because reality is poignantly difficult. And so, yeah, faith becomes something that is necessary in order to continue on through the difficulties.
CB: Yeah. And you moved into that 12th house profection year around the time your father passed away, right?
MD: Yeah, it was the next week.
CB: Like a week later.
CB: Yeah, I was actually almost the exact same thing. I was 22, and then my sister passed away a week before my birthday. So then I moved into that 12th house profection year and was dealing with that grief and loss for most of that year in that 12th house year. But I have Mars there, which is one of my most difficult planets in a day chart, but I also have Jupiter there, and I sort of threw myself into writing my book on Hellenistic astrology at that time because one of the last conversations I had with her was I told her I was gonna dedicate my book to her. So it gave me a sense of drive and purpose to see that promise through to completion, which still ended up taking a number of years past that point. Actually it took 10 years. She passed away in 2007, and the book came out in 2017, but the foundation of it was really laid at that point; which just brings up 12th house things, but also sometimes finding meaning and purpose in the 12th house. When you’re in that period of suffering or mourning or loss that can sometimes be associated with the 12th house—sometimes what you find there and what you do during those times, or people that have those placements emphasized—those can be times where important things end up happening.
MD: Yeah, definitely. That really touches me, that story about your sister and how you had promised to dedicate the book to her, and how that became such a motivating factor in the writing or in the completion of it.
CB: Yeah, it definitely was. Yeah, I mean, at the time I was struggling a little bit with it and maybe intellectualized things too much when talking to other people or mentioning the eclipses thing in the eulogy, and I might do that differently now if I was to do things in retrospect. But definitely at the time—in terms of understanding my personal story and the nexus of things and how things worked out—I understood the turning point that that was in my life and wanted to make sure that I did some of the things that I needed to do at that point forward with my life and the things that I wanted to accomplish as well.
MD: Yeah, I just wanted to say I felt similarly—not similarly—in a certain way, reacting to or responding to the death of my father as a turning point because I spent so much of my adolescence and young adulthood trying to help him, like bailing him out of situations, or trying to change his life trajectory. And so, to find it meeting its inevitable conclusion and finding that perhaps my efforts to a certain extent were in vain, it’s led to this new philosophy in terms of how I extend my efforts or how I can kind of reel back my attempts to change other people or to influence other people’s lives, which was very much like a driving force previously that I think has led to burnout and frustration and things like that. So there’s this renewed possibility of living life more for myself and seeing that—it sounds like my voice is getting sentimental. Yeah, you know what I’m saying—the inspiration or what you end up dedicating yourself to as a result of interpreting those experiences.
CB: Yeah, and using it in a way that changes you and motivates you to do something and to make a difference so something positive comes out of it, even though it’s an extremely negative experience. If it is able to change you and motivate you to do things differently or to help other people, you can at least make something come out of it that might not have happened otherwise.
MD: Yeah, you can redirect your energy I guess in a certain way. Or even as part of the grieving process, channeling that energy into some project or some new thought process I think can be helpful to you; to give yourself some reason to continue on or to find the meaning. Even if it is a touch over-intellectualizing, it’s almost necessary to a certain extent.
CB: Yeah. And obviously, for us, as more Saturnian-type people, that’s part of how we’re gonna react. And it’s not that everyone has to because there’s many different ways of grieving and different grieving processes and different things that are relevant. And there’s no one way to do that productively or successfully, or what have you.
MD: That’s true. Yeah, it’s kind of like put an asterisk on this whole conversation—
MD: —to Saturn-ruled people. So, yeah, you might interpret things differently.
CB: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, all of us can only ever speak to our own personal experiences, and we all try to sometimes step outside of that and speak object effectively if we can. But, yeah, we all go back and forth.
CB: All right, I’m trying to think of other things we haven’t touched on. ‘Cause this is such a big topic I’ve put it off doing this topic for many years. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently though because of all the death and destruction that we were seeing and the massacres and stuff that are happening or have happened in the Middle East. When we started talking about this a little bit this morning, I thought it would be an appropriate topic because of the seriousness of everything going on right now, and it seems hard for me sometimes to transition back to doing normal, pop culture discussions or something on The Astrology Podcast or other things like that. And while there could have been a version of this conversation that was a little bit more planned out, which is the usual approach, I wanted to do this here ‘cause it seemed like a good topic for us to do today, and I think we covered a lot of really good stuff that I would have wanted to cover on an episode like this.
MD: Yeah, this could be an introduction to the topic even, and perhaps, yeah, a more structured conversation could happen at another time.
CB: For sure, for sure. But it’s the type of conversation that’s nice to have in person, sitting here like this and just talking as two astrologers. So that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do it today, and I’m glad we did.
MD: Another thought is occurring to me at the moment.
MD: We were just talking about our own processes of dealing with loss and grief and maybe other ways that people might find comfort in times of loss. And with the general heaviness that’s happening in the world right now—and the fact that Venus is in Libra at the moment— I’ve been talking a bit about leaning on Jupiter as a support to kind of deal with grief in terms of finding meaning and purpose. But I guess Venus, as the other benefic, can be an area for people to look to in their charts or in their lives as a way to experience a bit of relief if they’re going through a very heavy process; being able to identify the types of things that bring them pleasure and joy and comfort, and giving oneself permission to still experience some pleasure, some Venusian aspects. Even if you are in an overall tragic or heavy time, it can be helpful when you can take a break to just be silly, be light, relate to Venus and come back to your grief process or whatever it is that you’re working through when you need to.
CB: Yeah, I mean, you can try that for sure, and it’s good to try to make the effort to do those things. It’s kind of hard. ‘Cause I know in the immediate aftermath of grief nothing tastes or feels the same for a while, and it sometimes feels like some of those receptors are almost dead for a period of time.
CB: But certainly doing the things you have to do in order to get by, whatever that takes—sometimes leaning into the positive parts of your chart that do bring happiness or joy in order to try to reestablish the reason to go on and to keep living is really important, for sure.
CB: And definitely one of the subtopics that we didn’t get into but could have is sometimes there’s people that feel like things are really bad and that they don’t have a reason to go on living, and one of the things that’s really important is to encourage those people to find people to talk to and to reach out and find resources. Because I know one of the things that happens, especially when you’re in the midst of really bad transits or a really bad experience in your life, or you’ve suffered loss or grief, it can feel like it will never end, and sometimes people can want to just reach for whatever it takes to make that feeling stop. But I think one of the things that’s important when you’re in the midst of bad transits, one of the ways that astrology can be useful, is sometimes showing you that there’s an endpoint. And even if you’re in the midst of something that’s really heavy, it won’t last forever; you at least won’t feel that way forever. There’s gonna be other chapters of your life, and we all have different ups and downs. But sometimes when you’re in the depth of grief, just realize that there’s still things to live for and there’s still other positive things, and it’s important to stick around and wait things out and do whatever it takes to do that so that you can get to some of those other times in your life.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it’s so important to touch on that. There are always other people who have experienced something or who can relate to that feeling of being alone or being super down or feeling like there’s not any hope left. So no matter how isolated one might be feeling, you’re not truly alone. The breadth of human experience is so diverse that there’s definitely other people who can relate to what you’re going through. So, yeah, don’t quit just because you’re feeling like you’re in a particularly dark time. And as you were saying, we understand that the quality of time is that some times have that darker quality, but they will always pass. There’ll be other times.
CB: Right. Yeah, for sure. That’s something that can be really helpful with astrology no matter what kind of negative or difficult experience you’re having. One of things that can help is just using it to know when there will be other times and when other chapters of your life will start.
MD: And that you’re valuable. No matter how many unfortunate significators are in your chart, that doesn’t mean that your life is not valuable or that there’s not some purpose or meaning to it. Because we don’t get to choose our charts; we just wake up one day and we’re in this narrative that is constructed. But every single chart has a purpose or a meaning or something to learn from it, so just don’t be dissuaded if you discover unfortunate significations in your chart because they’re just as valid and important as the fortunate ones in a certain way.
CB: Yeah, and I guess that goes back to a point that was made really early on, which is that it’s a very frequent experience that we’ll see difficult placements in a certain part of a person’s chart that can coincide with major loss or challenges or hardships, but then often times those are also the same people that take those losses or hardships or tragedies and sort of transmute them into something very powerful for good in order to help other people. Like a doctor or something that goes to a war zone to help people out, or a grief counselor who in their own grief turns around and finds a way to help other people that are struggling with theirs, or other people like that. There’s just lots of different scenarios where you’ll see people take challenging things and find a way to put them to good use in the future.
MD: I often think even as simple as sharing your story can be important and helpful. If your chart indicates that you’re an expert in loss and grief—you’ve had so many personal experiences related to unfortunate events and you have become an expert in what it’s like to live through a life that incorporates a lot of unfortunate events—your story is super valuable for other people to hear because there will be other people who can relate. Yeah, I think about that when people are feeling overwhelmed by the number of unfortunate experiences that they might be encountering; even just them existing as a representative of that can give inspiration or can give a sense of support or upliftment to other people who can relate.
CB: Yeah, that just reminded me of a really important point, which is that you can only recognize it when you see it in other people, but sometimes people that suffer extreme tragedies develop a deep sense of empathy and understanding from that. And sometimes one of the greatest things that can come from it is developing the empathy of having been there—so that when you see other people in that position, or you see other people suffering, having the ability to relate to what they’re experiencing and to want to help in any way you can—and I think that’s an important aspect of things as well.
MD: I think so. And it’s been on my mind a lot as the Saturn in Pisces generation begins to have their Saturn return, and what might that look like collectively for them, the sense of responsibility that comes along with empathy or having felt a lot of relationship to global tragedy, etc.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s a really good point, themes of empathy; also themes of peace was one of the ones. Actually we don’t have to go into all that, but just the role of empathy and that empathy is really important. Actually one of the shortcomings of humans oftentimes is that for many people—honestly, most people—you can’t fully relate to something unless you’ve had that experience yourself.
CB: It’s like there are sometimes highly empathetic people that can relate to something without having that experience, but for most humans, we can’t ever fully relate empathetically unless we’ve had a similar experience ourselves on some level; or at least a thing that for most humans helps them to put themselves in somebody else’s position is having experienced that level of suffering on some level. But there’s some people for sure that don’t experience that or don’t hit that level of experience, so that they maybe can’t empathize as much. So it does create a special—not superpower—but a special gift sometimes. The gift of empathy, that comes from extreme levels of hardship and loss, can be very valuable, and it can be something that not everybody has.
MD: Yeah, and that I think has so many implications of what is life like if you’re naturally a very sensitive or empathetic person versus developing that later in life as a result of tragedies, and how it can be difficult to navigate the world of work and productivity if you are a highly empathetic person. If you can relate to so many different types of human suffering or human emotions it can be difficult to focus on anything else, and I guess you get into some why certain people need to work in fields that are related to empathy or that utilize their empathy because it would be overwhelming to do work that doesn’t utilize that.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s true.
MD: Yeah, that’s kind of a whole other topic.
CB: Yeah, and then I guess the reverse of what I said is true also, that there’s some people that experience extreme hardship or loss and sometimes it can harden them in a way that maybe is not good or in a way that maybe can make them angry or other things like that. So I guess there is certainly a full range of different experiences if we’re thinking about things astrologically and how things show up in a person’s chart, not assuming that it will always go one way.
CB: The empathy route is certainly one of the more constructive ways that something good can come out of something bad.
MD: Yeah, great point. Sometimes just the hardening or the shutting down of one’s emotions as a result or a reaction to tragedy is just as normal or just as valid in a certain way.
CB: Yeah, sometimes it can be for sure. I mean, like we said, everyone’s way of coping with grief is different, but definitely sometimes anger or feelings of vengeance or retribution or other things like that can be ways that some people deal with certain forms of grief. And that’s a whole other topic in terms of how things go sometimes and just the wide range of different ways that people react to loss and grief.
CB: Yeah, for sure. Okay, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else. It’s such a vast topic. I know there’s stuff that we are forgetting or overlooking. How are you feeling?
MD: I think there certainly are. I’m starting to get hungry.
MD: So, yeah, we could put a pin it for the time being if we want, or we could give a moment of silence to see if anything else pops up that wants to be addressed.
CB: Yeah, I mean, maybe that’s good for now. But there’s definitely things that I’ll want to return to in future episodes certainly at some point. I’ll probably just talk about it as a historical thing, the ancient length-of-life technique, at some point. Which I’ve always meant to do—and I almost did a couple of years ago but an interview fell through—just to document that as a major piece of the history of astrology because that had major historical implications at different time periods. I guess I’ve been a little nervous about doing that episode ‘cause I also don’t want astrologers running around predicting people’s deaths and stuff.
MD: Yeah, you don’t want to unleash that monster.
CB: Yeah, or just do it very carefully and also be very clear about the limitations. I mean, frankly, I only got the technique to work 30% or 40% of the time in some of my early experiments with it. And that was one of the reasons I decided to focus on cultivating other techniques like zodiacal releasing or profections and transits ‘cause those were the most effective predictive techniques for me, whereas some of the primary direction stuff associated with the core length-of-life technique was not as impressive. When it was impressive, it was kind of dead on, so to speak, but when it was not, it was way off, and so I didn’t focus on that for a long time. But it would be something interesting to cover from a historical standpoint.
MD: Have you done an episode yet on Stoic philosophy as well?
CB: No. Somebody else told me I should do that recently as well; I’ve been meaning to. One of the things I also leaned into, ironically, back during that time was Stoicism, when I lost my sister, and I found that very helpful from a philosophical or quasi-religious standpoint at the time, but I know Stoicism at the time was a much harder sell for people back in the day. Ironically, over the past five years, independently, Stoicism has had a sort of resurgence in popularity and stuff, so that might be a good discussion to have here at some point. It’s just a matter of figuring out who to have that discussion with to do a good job of it.
MD: Yeah, I think it helps inform, again, just the philosophical underpinnings of ancient astrology and why things are as they are. It’s helpful to know the context under which these ideas were being developed. And it’s not necessary perhaps to take on that worldview for yourself, but it’s still informative for anybody who’s interested in understanding and getting into that concept of amor fati, or ‘love your fate’. I think it’s really helpful to kind of have that in your mind as you begin to study ancient astrology.
CB: Yeah, I mean it’s not just useful from a historical perspective but there’s something deeply appropriate and useful about it that we can apply in modern times. Because one of the real issues you run into when you start studying ancient astrology is you’re dealing with a system that can speak to and can sometimes make very concrete predictions about a person’s fate and about a person’s future and can sometimes show you that some things in a person’s life—perhaps even most things—are much more predetermined than we might think before before we got into astrology at all. And then once you have a technical system for studying fate that’s indicating that some things are predetermined, what do you do with that, and how do you cope with that? There’s a tremendous psychological—I don’t know if ‘burden’ is the right term, but there’s a weightiness to that. And one of the things that for sure was helpful to me to deal with and to process some of that was Stoicism because it was a philosophy that assumed that things were predetermined, that your life was predetermined, and that sometimes the best thing that you can do, it says, is to embrace that, to embrace the things that you can’t change, the things that you have to accept, and to be at peace with that. And in doing so you’ll achieve not just an inner tranquility, but also a form of freedom or liberation by embracing your fate, ironically. Even though that seems contradictory, sometimes the greatest freedom you can have is to embrace it and to accept the things that you cannot change. They would say that it’s by trying to rebel against that or trying to reject the things that you can’t even change that you create more internal discord for yourself. And especially when dealing with something that’s irrevocable like the loss of a loved one, sometimes all you can do is accept that or embrace that because it’s not something you can change.
MD: Yeah, exactly.
CB: And I don’t think most people—we’re not always used to dealing with situations like that, something that’s just absolutely not negotiable or you can’t change, or that there’s no going back from. But when confronted with an experience like that it can change you and it presents a really interesting issue of how to confront that and how you’re going to cope with that internally, and that’s where some of that comes in and becomes relevant.
MD: Yeah, I think the liberation piece of it is very compelling because it’s almost like you’re liberating yourself from the misery of rumination, say, in the loss of a loved one. You might be ruminating over what you could have done differently, could you have prevented it and all these things. But accepting the reality that it has happened and that it is that way and it was always going to be that way gives you a sense of peace that you don’t have to torture yourself mentally over the details of maybe how the loss occurred or whether you might have had some influence that you wasted or influence that led to whether you’re blaming yourself for anything.
CB: Yeah, I think that’s important ‘cause there are some circumstances where it’s like what happened and it couldn’t have happened any other way, or that it happened the way that it was meant to in certain circumstances. And while there’s broader discussions that we have to have still about ethics and responsibility and culpability and agency and all these other things, sometimes there can be something helpful about viewing things in that way when it was a circumstance that was outside of anyone’s control—where it’s not psychologically helpful to blame or beat yourself up for it or something like that—and look back at the person’s life and understand, once you know their full story, the beauty of their life story, and recognize it in its totality. Even with the Matthew Perry example, he was born on an eclipse, he passed away on an eclipse. And one of the things that was really striking is a year before he died, he published an autobiography where he talked about his life, and he published that in between two eclipses, but in doing so, I thought there was something beautiful about that. He got about to tell his life story at the end of his life, like right before he passed away in the last year, and in some way the overall story or narrative of his life was brought to completion in some way even though he didn’t maybe know that that was him wrapping up his life. There was some sense of completion to it, and there’s something kind of beautiful about that in some ways.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a really good point that even if a death feels premature, yeah, there can be a beauty in it, in seeing the whole story in context, as you were saying.
CB: Right, for sure.
MD: And that leads us to the celebration of life. There will always be the grief for the loss of someone, but at the same time not feeling guilty for wanting to remember them for who they were when they were alive or what they did bring into other people’s lives, and holding those things simultaneously, both the grief as well as the joy and the appreciation of what the life ended up being.
CB: Yeah, exactly. And to give you a deep appreciation for what they did and what some of the good things were and what some of the not-so-good things or the challenging things were, but that was that person’s story. And you can sort of see their life as it was but also see sometimes the astrology of it and how some of that was mapped out through the astrology and that the planets sort of wove the narrative of the person’s life throughout their story in a very interesting and beautiful and poetic way.
CB: And that ultimately is the most important point at the end of all of this, that to whatever extent astrology can do that—or at least can give astrologers a different perspective or a perspective that’s useful in that way when looking at the topic of death—it can be useful or helpful or healing. While there’s probably for sure negative applications of that or ways that it could be problematic, or ways that astrologers could do things unethically, or where it could be inappropriate to apply for us as professional astrologers, there’s a way which it helps us make sense of both our lives as well as the lives of the people around us. And there’s something helpful and beautiful about that, and, yeah, it’s a major part of being an astrologer.
MD: Yeah, absolutely. And even though it is such a sensitive and delicate topic, it’s very important to discuss. And, yeah, I think it was good to pave that way for future discussions to occur.
CB: For sure. All right, thanks for having this discussion with me.
MD: My pleasure. Yeah, thank you for initiating it and for holding this space.
CB: Yeah, well, thanks also for being willing to do it somewhat very impromptu, ’cause we didn’t plan this out. We were just talking this morning, and I’m just like, “That’s it, that’s the topic. Let’s do it. Let’s talk about that.” ‘Cause we were having that conversation casually, but then I had already been thinking about that as a topic the past few months. I just didn’t have anybody to have that conversation with and I didn’t know how to approach it, but this was perfect.
MD: I’m glad. Yeah, and I’m always down to talk about death or any of the other unfortunate topics in life.
CB: Gotcha. All right, I’ll keep you on speed dial for that; I’ve got other difficult, negative, terrible topics. So next time you’re in Denver, we’ll figure out the next one, like the astrology of Ebola or something like that.
MD: I can’t wait.
CB: Okay, cool. All right, well, thanks a lot for joining me. What’s your website again?
CB: Okay, cool, for the Honeycomb Almanacs and Calendars.
MD: Yeah, you could go to MadelineDeCotes.com if you want to, but it’s kind of an outdated graphic design portfolio at this point in time. Maybe that will change in the future.
CB: Cool. Well, I’ll put a link to that in the description below this video or for this episode. Otherwise, I guess that’s it. So thanks everyone for watching or listening to this episode of The Astrology Podcast, and we’ll see you again next time.
Special thanks to all the patrons that helped to support the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on Patreon.com. In particular, a shoutout to the patrons on our Producers tier, including patrons Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Issa Sabah, Jake Otero, Jeanne Marie Kaplan, and Melissa DeLano. If you appreciate the work I’m doing here on the podcast and you’d like to find a way to support it, then consider becoming a patron through my page on Patreon.com. In exchange, you’ll get access to some great subscriber benefits, including early access to new episodes, the ability to attend the live recording of the forecast each month, our monthly Auspicious Elections Podcast, which is only available to patrons, a whole exclusive podcast series called The Casual Astrology Podcast that’s for patrons, or you can even get your name listed in the credits. You can find out more information at Patreon.com/AstrologyPodcast.
If you’re looking for a reliable astrologer to get an astrological consultation with, then we have a new list of astrologers on the podcast website that we recommend for readings. Most of the astrologers specialize in birth chart readings, although some also offer synastry, rectification, electional astrology, horary questions and more. Find out more information at TheAstrologyPodcast.com/Consultations.
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, and the Northwest Astrological Conference, which is happening both in person and online, May 23-27, 2024. You can find out more information at norwac.net.