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Ep. 79 Transcript: Sexual Orientation and Astrology

The Astrology Podcast

Transcript of Episode 79, titled:

Sexual Orientation and Astrology

With Chris Brennan and guest Christopher Renstrom

Episode originally released on June 6th, 2016

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Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at astrologue@gmail.com.

Transcribed by Christa Wilson

Transcription released January 7th, 2021

Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com

CHRIS BRENNAN: My name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to the astrology podcast. This episode was recorded on June 5th, 2016.

For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with astrologer Christopher Renstrom about the topic of astrology and sexual orientation. You can find out more information about Christopher on his website at rulingplanets.com. 

Before we get started with the interview, just a few quick announcements about the giveaway we’re doing this month. Our first giveaway last month was so successful that we are going to do it again in June, and we have some great prizes lined up. The giveaway is for patrons of the show who donate on the five and ten dollar tears, and will take place at the end of June during the final episode of the month. The Grand prize for patrons on the $10 tear this month is a free pass to the upcoming conference that is being hosted by the International Society for Astrological Research later this year. This is going to be the biggest conference event of the year, and it’s being held in Costa Mesa, California from October 13 through the 17th, 2016. The focus of the conference is on astrological forecasting, and the tagline is “The Power of Forecasting Meets the Consequence of Choice”. The conference will feature 60 speakers from around the world speaking on six different tracks that will cover timing techniques, financial markets, psychological shifts, spiritual phases, relationships and Indian astrology. There’s also going to be two presidential panels at the beginning and end of the conference, since this will take place right before the US presidential election in November, with one panel of international astrologers and one from the US. It’s truly going to be the conference event of the year, and I’ll be there along with many other astrologers that have appeared on the podcast over the past few years. You can find out more information about the conference at ISARastrology.org. 

That is the grand prize that we’re giving away this month for the $10 tear. For patrons on the $5 tier the main giveaway prize is a one year subscription to The Mountain Astrologer Magazine. The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, or TMA for short, is widely recognized as the best astrology magazine in the world. It’s been published every other month for nearly 30 years now, and it’s become the publication that students of astrology and professional astrologers rely on to keep them connected to the astrological community. TMA covers all of the bases with well edited feature articles, a student section, detailed forecasts and even astro humor. You can find TMA’s blog, subscription information and 15 years of back issues on their website at mountainastrologer.com. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is become a patron of The Astrology Podcast through our page on Patreon at the five or ten dollar tier, and then you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing, with the winners of this month’s giveaway being announced at the end of the month. More details about the monthly raffle and links to find out more information about each of the prizes can be found on the description page for this episode on theastrologypodcast.com.

All right, with those announcements out of the way, let’s get started with the interview. Christopher, welcome to the show.

Christopher Restrom: Thank you for having me.

CB: All right. The topic today is sexual orientation and astrology, and the genesis of this topic is actually a talk that you gave, I think you’ve given it at least a couple of times now. I think you first gave it at the second Queer Astrology Conference a year or two ago, and it was titled “The Problem of the Gay Signature: Unearthing the Queer Archetype in Astrological History and Culture”. 

CR: Yes. 

CB: When did you give that talk again?

CR: I believe it was the Spring before last, so I think it was the spring of 2015. 

CB: Okay, got it. Then more recently, I think you gave it for-

CR: -RubiCon. 

CB: RubiCon. for Nina Gryphon’’s group. So I thought that was a really interesting talk, and I listened to it again recently and it dealt with this debate in the astrological community. The fundamental question is whether homosexuality can be seen in the birth chart. This has become a point of debate in the astrological community with some astrologers saying, “Yes, you can.” And other astrologers saying, “No, you can’t.” I thought that we could talk about that topic today. It’s an important but very delicate topic, and it’s one that people feel very strongly about. I wanted to explore different opinions on this topic, since that is what I like to do on the podcast is explore different points of debate within the astrological community in order to explore why people think different things or feel passionately about different issues within the community, just so people can have some perspective on those topics. 

CR: Sure.

CB: That was part of the focus of your talk, but also you wanted to show the history of this subject and how it’s grown and evolved and developed and brought us to where we are today, right? 

CR: Yeah, I was almost going to throw out a third category as you were listing the people who insist and the people who don’t, and then there are the people who say, “That’s none of your business.” or “Why should that be any of your business?” I think right now it’s very, very heated. In part because recently the whole idea of being innately gay, which probably the better way of putting it would be innately transgender. Or everyone experiencing the full range of sexualities. Until recently there was a coin toss between whether that was a choice or whether you were born that way. 

In the last couple of years it got packaged as, “Well, you’re born that way.” That all of a sudden made it very acceptable to say, “Okay, gay people or lesbians they’re born that way.” What I thought was interesting was that the celebrity Cynthia Nixon, who used to be straight and now she has a female partner, came out publicly and said, “Why can’t it just be a choice? What’s wrong with someone saying, ‘This is what I choose to be.’?” That reignited or reilluminated a corner of the debate that had been going on. What I found in astrology, by going back over the history of the gay signature and really starting with Ptolemy, is that you were born that way. That’s basically what Ptolemy says in the references that he makes about the issues of homosexuality and all sexualities in his book.

CB: Sure. So a lot of the older astrologers have specific placements that you can look for in the birth chart that would imply a number of different things about a person’s sexual orientation or sexual preferences or character, delineations and things like that. We’re going to explore this as a technical question today. The point is not to pass value judgments but instead to look at this as a technical debate within the astrological community or a philosophical debate.

CR: Mmm-hmm (affirmative).

CB: And look at the pros and cons of both sides. It’s a delicate topic though. Partially for the reasons that you listed in terms of some of the debates about whether a person is born a certain way or whether it’s a matter of choice later on in some sense. Also, it’s a delicate subject because of the past history of doctors and psychiatrists and other people in positions of power that have historically done a lot of harm by pathologizing non heterosexual people. 

CR: Absolutely. What I have to interject and add here very quickly is the astrological community participated in that as well.

CB: Right.

CR: Which is why that adds to how heated it gets in astrological communities. By taking on either a psychological stance or a pseudo psychological stance about homosexuality in the chart, particularly in the seventies and the eighties, that did a lot to alienate the queer community regarding astrology. So those are still wounds that are slowly healing.

CB: Yeah. I think a lot of the discussion is still very much focused on that, and in some sense reacting to the negative history that astrology has had in dealing with this topic as well as the negative history in the world in general. People in positions of authority have had when they try to pathologize non heterosexual people by, for example in the early 20th century, subjecting them to medical procedures to change them. Or in the psychological community these damaging attempts at psychological reprogramming that are sometimes still going on and so on and so forth.

CR: What I would also add very quickly is the 19th century and the hermaphrodite issue, the castrations that were going on. It actually goes on earlier and some of the examples are really heinous. They’re really dreadful. 

CB: Right. There is a lot of reason to understand why there would be a lot of hesitation and a lot of strong feelings about this topic. We’re going to deal with it sensitively by exploring these issues in order to start the discussion. It’s a discussion that has already been going, but it’s one that for the purpose of our audience I wanted to raise because it’s a really interesting philosophical and technical debate that’s happening that I see come up sometimes in the community today and therefore is worth exploring. 

CN: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

CB: One of the points that you raised in your lecture, especially towards the end, is this question of are some of the conventional signatures that astrologers have used in the past, even in ancient times and traditional astrology or in more recent times in the 20th century, that are supposed to indicate that a person might have a predisposition towards being homosexual, are some of those conventional signatures obsolete at this point and irrelevant or do some of them actually work in showing something but need some tweaking because of the negative connotations that were associated with them at that time. 

CN: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

CB: That becomes a large part of the debate at this point, which is that are any of these conventional “gay signatures”, do they work? Are they still relevant today or not? 

CN: Right. For the purposes of that I chose, when I opened up the lecture, we didn’t have the exact birth time, but what was fascinating was a chart that was connected to a question about a gay woman in the 1940s, and actually demonstrating that if you had used Ptolemy’s techniques you would have arrived at the fact that she was gay. That was done deliberately. I chose someone not contemporary. It was based on a letter that had been sent into American Astrology, and even though the birth time wasn’t there, what I could show by drawing it for a noon time was actually to demonstrate the point that if these planets did show up in this and the feminine planets were masculinized, you would see it mirrored in that chart. That was a surprise to me. That was a real surprise to me, because I thought that it was going to be more gender specific cultural or something like that. Then all of a sudden there it was applying.

CB: Sure. I think you said at one point that you felt that it was applying that way, and you were surprised partially because you didn’t necessarily want it to, or you said something to that effect. 

CN: Well as a gay man, you’re just kind of like, “Well, you know…” I don’t know why one should think that wouldn’t be showing up in a chart, but you’re thinking, “Gay signature, that is so obsolete, or that is so ridiculous.” It’s offensive. How could something like that show up? Then all of a sudden to see something like this pop up, my first reaction was like, “What?” Then the second one was to get, “Okay, this is interesting. What is this about?”

Especially by exploring Ptolemy, what was fascinating was to see, and I was asking a huge “if” from the audience, but if you can get rid of the denouncing language that accompanies a lot of what is being written, nevertheless what is going on there is a very real curiosity about human nature and human sexuality and how it’s being mirrored in the planets. To also point out it’s not just exclusive to a gay sexuality but a wide range of sexualities, some of it which is relevant to our society right now which would be whether someone is gay or not. There were also other things of being sexually drawn to a slave or a high-born or adulterer. I mean Ptolemy isn’t just talking about sexual gender, he’s also talking about class, he’s talking about power. These things were really, really quite fascinating to all of a sudden discover in his book, really in an attempt to catalogue and to systemize. So you would also have an astrological signature for a man who marries his daughter. You would have an astrological signature for a unich. You would have an astrological signature of a woman who doesn’t marry. There is an astrological signiture for a celibate. So once all of that is being opened, you marvel and wonder at what exactly Ptolemy was trying to do.

CB: Sure. Yeah, some of the older treatments are a little bit more nuanced or a little bit more complex than you would expect, although oftentimes there is still this underlying issue, and I think this is where many of the people that object that no, there is not a signature that you can look at for sexual orientation in the chart. They say, one of the main objections is that in many of the older texts there is this presumption or that it shows up with this idea that there is something wrong about homosexuality, or that there is something weird or deviant about it. That presumption is oftentimes underlying a lot of the delineations in modern times or in some of the older texts, and so that is one of the underlying objections to the idea.

CN: Well, yeah. Ptolemy does indeed say in book three part 13, page 35 of the FE Robbins translation, when he’s talking about Saturn in opposite aspect to Venus, he gives a long list of what these things could be. But one of the things he does say is, “…lawless sexual relations, both active and passive, both natural and unnatural, and willing to seek them with those barred by age, station or law or with animals.” So that whole thing of gay and then beastiality, all that stuff, you do see that being lumped in here with Ptolemy. Those are one of the things that do pop up, but keeping company with that are also descriptions of people who are slanderous and poisoners and rogues and things like that.

But there is a history to those associates being set up and it does appear in his text. 

CB: Sure. Yeah, and I think one of your points in your lecture was that it really sets out the whole range of the full range of human experience, in almost every possible area or permutation. That was one of the things that interested you about it is that it almost seemed to, despite the fact that most of the time, but not necessarily all of the time, it seemed to have a negative slant on that, or to treat it as something that was wrong or bad, that that was not necessarily always the case culturally, and that it was interesting that it held a space for that and recognised it in a way that perhaps outside of the astrological text, mainstream culture didn’t always, seemingly. Especially in periods like the Middle Ages or something.

CN: Well, it calls into question what the astrologers mission was at Ptolemy’s time. I mean, he did set up what was supposed to be a healthy type of relationship, what we would probably call heteronormative.What we would call heteronormative relationship, and that is a couple of paragraphs. But then he spends an extraordinary amount of time on these alternative situations, or these outside the boundary types of relationships, and it actually asks the question of what is the mission of Ptolemy, or what is the mission of an astrologer? This appears in a section called Diseases of the Soul, and if it was appearing in something like Diseases of the Soul, was there supposed to be a cure to it? Or were you supposed to be able to diagnose it? Or if you computed this in someone’s chart, were you supposed to say as an astrologer it’s preordained, and it’s fixed in the stars, so you have to accept it? It’s one of those interesting things where the social world that Ptolemy is describing is not in conjunction with the natural world that Ptolemy is describing, and it’s fascinating. They’re not on the same page. I’m not quite sure what that means yet.

CB: Sure. We’ll come back to Ptolemy in a little bit, especially to talk about some of the things you and I had looked into in terms of what his technical approach was, but in terms of framing this debate, one of the points we’ve covered is that one of the objections against the idea that there is a gay signature is the idea that oftentimes the way this is approached, the underlying implication for many of these signatures is that there is something wrong about homosexuality or something weird or deviant about it.

CN: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

CB: So that is an objection against, whereas some people who objected then, by extension, liken it to the question of whether you can see gender in a birth charter or whether you can see race in a birth chart, which traditionally going back 2000 years, astrologers are pretty much in agreement that you can’t. That there are certain things that you can’t see in the chart that you have to see yourself, and then understand that is the context that you proceed with once you start interpreting the chart. But otherwise you can’t tell if a person is Asian or if they’re from Africa or if they’re from

The United Kingdom or whatever race a person is. 

CN: Right. What I also have to throw in very quickly is that a lot of the negative reaction that comes from the LGBTQ community here also hinges on the idea that if you can identify be gay, would you aboard it? I just wanted to bring that up. There are some very real reasons for very strong emotional reactions around this issue, and that is to maybe perhaps give a broader context of why some people would be reacting so strongly to the idea of a gay signature appearing in an astrological chart. 

CB: Sure. That concern of why are you asking or what is it that you’re wanting to do in identifying that? Because oftentimes or sometimes the people approaching it don’t necessarily have good intentions or aren’t favorable or don’t look favorably upon that and therefore–

CN: Eugenics was not so long ago.

CB: Sure. 

CN: So those are going to be very strong reactions. 

CB: Sure. So those are some of the objections, and then on the other side of the spectrum, those that say yes or those that argue that there can or there may be some sort of signature or signatures that you would look at, since oftentimes that is one of the points that comes up very clearly is it’s not typically a singular signature, there’s often multiple different things people are looking at. One of the arguments is that if many different aspects of our character and our desires and other proclivities can be described in the birth chart, then it would almost be odd if this area wasn’t addressed, or if it was somehow off limits.

CN: Yeah. I mean, why is it that we look at an astrological chart and if we see a Sun Saturn conjunction or a Sun Saturn square, we might ask about depression.

CB: Sure. Okay. 

CN: And not think twice about it. You know, that would be a legitimate question to go and ask. We’re expecting to hear back a response from that person of a history, for instance of depression.

CB: Sure. 

CN: You know, so if we’re applying that to depression or addiction or sympathies or antipathies. 

CB: Sure, like appearance–

CN: Yeah.

CB: Or sexual preferences or character trades, because it’s not necessarily negative, and I’m trying to think of other positive or neutral–

CN: Colors. Well, colors, jewelry, good days, bad days. If an astrological chart, whatever school one comes from, is supposed to address appearance and the aspirations and the ambitions and your temperament, why wouldn’t it also be addressing sexuality? I mean why so all of sudden the ropes come down around something like that?

CB: Sure.

CN: You know, it’s reasonable to have an expectation that it would address it. 

CB: Sure. So people making that argument then, one of the points that they would make is that it’s not always hetero astrologers trying to identify gay signatures, but sometimes you can have non heterosexual astrologers themselves who are exploring the subject, and looking at, for example, their own chart or the charts of their friends, and that the astrological community is rarely monolithic in its beliefs.

CN: Right. Now. 

CB: Right.

CN: That is more current now. It wasn’t always the case. 

CB: Well you and I were looking at some of the different passages from the ancient astrologers earlier today, and sometimes we were seeing carry over, a crossover between Ptolemy and Dorthais or Ptolemy and Menetha or what have you, but then you would sometimes see differences, like they would say different things or have different observations. Sometimes even in older traditions, there is a lot more diversity than you might think.

CN: Also I hope what we’re communicating today is how complex. I mean, these are very complex formulas, and I think Dorthias even includes the lots. Dorthias has a chapter on sodomy. I think it’s even called, On Sodomy, but he brings in the lots with that, so these are very complex formulas. It’s not something like a Uranus Venus opposition or something like that. They are very complex, and that word again which is a very good word, nuanced, is apparent in the texts.

CB: Sure. Going back to the other side of the debate, some of the people who object to the idea of the potential for there being like a gay signature or signatures say that or feel that it can’t be seen, because then on some level it almost implicitly acknowledges or accepts a heteronormative viewpoint, which is something that they reject.

CN: Mm-Hmm (affirmative)

CB: Whereas other people might say that they see a natal signature for homosexuality as confirming arguments that being gay is something that you’re born with from birth rather than something that is a choice. So there are all these back and forth arguments. 

CN: And I believe in rooting some of it in history. The heteronormative wasn’t just like, “Oh, heteronormative,” that came out of nowhere. That actually is a very strong response to Jungian astrology in the eighties, which set up the whole idea of anima and animus. Whatever the original model was, it was still based on this idea that if I’m a woman I’m projecting my animus, and if I’m a man I’m projecting my anima. If I’m 75% man I’m looking for 25% woman and I’m going to find it in you. If I’m 75% woman I’m looking for 25% man and I’m going to find it in you and we’re going to come together in this sacred marriage. There is a lot of Jungian astrology which is committed to this, which sets up a heteronormative model. There is no way that you can say it doesn’t. On one level it was exclusionary,

but on another level, because it’s working with the archetype of the hermaphrodite, it’s wildly inaccurate. Jung borrowed the archetype of the hermaphrodite from Jacob Bohme who talks about Adam before the fall. Adam before the fall is made up of male and female. The Bible even says, “God created man, man and woman both.” He created them, so the Bible itself even talks about Adam before the fall as being composed of male and female together. Bohm’s whole point was that with the fall, and this is a little theosophical, but his whole point was that with the fall you had a split of man and woman. So this is a sinful state. This’s a fallen state. This yearning to find your other half is actually bad. It’s an illusion. What you want to do is get back to that place where you are a composite of the two sexes together. So not only did the Jungian astrologers set up a heteronormative model that if you were LGBTQ you would have to read and then make exceptions for yourself. It was also historically and theosophically, if you look at alchemy and Bohm and things like that, inaccurate. It was wrong. If anything, the hermaphrodite is a queer archetype.

CB: Right. You linked to, and you said that this was the inspiration for part of your talk or inspired part of it, this excellent article that was a deconstruction, especially of some of the 20th century Jungian views on this by Peter Clamp that was written in 2000 titled, “The Astrology of Homophobia”.

CN: Yeah, It’s a wonderful piece. Peter really goes at it. I would strongly recommend. Perhaps we could post a link or something like that to the article. It really should be read.

CB: I’ll include it in the description page for this episode. 

CN: Part of it is angry, and you can understand some of that anger. It is 2000. It was published in the year 2000. There was really no relevant material being produced or generated in the astrological community that was dealing with homosexuality at all. Quite frankly, the examples that were brought up from Arroyo to Liz Greene and there were a couple of others were all very negative and highly highly objectionable. He published this article in 2000, and it stayed with me and that is what became the inspiration for the lecture that I gave. 

CB: Sure. Yeah, I thought that was a great article, and it really was a good analysis and deconstruction of some of the statements that have been made, especially in the 20th century, about different supposed signatures and why someone might object to, either from a technical or philosophical or conceptual perspective, but also especially in the middle part of the article, really deconstructing some of the different elements from 20th century psychology that were bleeding over being imported into the astrology. Then it was more about the psychology the psychological models that were speaking rather than the astrology itself, and how that sometimes affected negative interpretations or imported negative interpretations into the astrology.

CN: It might also have affected the way that the astrologers were dealing with the subject. I mean, one of the people that Peter does bring up is Liz Greene, and he cites specifically her book, “Relating”, where she gives the example of a gay man and and it’s… read it and decide for yourself. The thing is Liz Greene is also writing in 1978. 

CB: Right. 

CN: I think is when the book is published, and in 1973 homosexuality had just been taken off the list of mental illnesses. So the thing is, although Peter is right to point out that she never really went back and readdressed that subject, or she never really went back and readdressed that subject and that the book is in print. So it stands witness to the way that she might think. I mean, he’s right to bring that up. At the same time you also have to have appreciation for the culture that she was writing that book in. Nevertheless, it did participate in that whole psychological set up in astrology of setting up that heteronormative model. I don’t want to just get down on the Jungians either. You see a lot of this showing up in forties and fifties astrological writing. Seventies Freud is the rage, and so there is this pseudo psychology that is coming on over, and people were just taking one discipline, psychology and applying it to another discipline astrology, and saying, “Okay, they’re going to fit together.” They’re looking for those connecting points, and they’re not really taking into account astrology as its own discipline for instance. CB: Right. Astrology always seems to be culturally relative to whatever it’s host culture is at the time. If you’re host culture, your current culture at the time has certain social views or social norms or whatever the prevailing social norms, you’ll usually see that come out that delineations of the astrologers. Actually, in the early 20th century that was the rallying call. That was the, not excuse, but it was the reason that some classicists used in order to justify the study of ancient astrology to begin with. Not because they thought it worked or that the techniques were valuable, but by just making the point that if you go back and you look at the way that ancient astrologers delineate certain placements, it tells you a lot about their society and their values and their views at the time, and that is very much still true today.

CN: I think there was also that same amateurish aspect of like, “Oh, I found a whole bunch of dinosaur bones, they must come together like this.

CB: Sure.

CN: Like paleontology before it becomes paleontology. That sort of thing. Again, that is the beauty of astrology is that there is so much history that you can go back and excavate endlessly with something like that. Astrology, it reflects the culture and it reflects the calendar of that culture. 

CB: Right. But also the misconceptions or the prejudices and some of the shadow aspects of the culture. I think that was an interesting thing about reading Peter Clamps article is really he was criticizing people like Liz Greene. I think he did say towards the end of the article that she had said something in a later work that indicated that her views had changed.

CN: It is a transcript of a workshop, yeah.

CB: Right.

CN: And it’s an off the cuff remark. It’s not really addressing the issue. In the gay community, this is also someone who her business partner was a gay man who passed away from AIDS. They had started a center together. So this silence–

CB: Oh right, that was who wrote The Great–

CN: Howard Susportis

CB: Yeah.

CN: Right.

CB: He wrote my first houses book. It was a book on the houses.

CN: For that not to be addressed. Other people might be like, “Well, she lost a friend, and it’s very sad and duh duh duh.” That’s understandable. But as a gay reader, a member of the LGBTQ community, that’s an extraordinary

omission.

CN: That’s not talking about their friendship relationship. I’m sure that they were the best and closest and it was a horrible tragedy. It was an extraordinary thing to not show up, and that’s what Peter is getting at and that is what a lot of other queer astrologers are getting at, are these strange gaps. These things are not that are not addressed. We went through the AIDS crisis, I mean we’re still in an AIDS crisis. But when it was really at epidemic proportions, and again none of that was really addressed by the astrological communities. So it’s really extraordinary. I’m probably belaboring the point, but this is why members of the LGBTQ community have such a visceral reaction around this subject.

CB: Right. Because the jist of it is that the delineations of astrologers and the statements would make about what would indicate or what the charts of people that were non heterosexuals were like was oftentimes an outgrowth of the culture, and obviously much of the time, that was not positive. It was often spun in a negative way and didn’t look good. 

I’m just looking through some of our notes, in terms of some of the other debate points that we wanted to bring up before we get into the specifics of some of the different models, both the traditional model and the modern model. One of thie objections is that the search for the gay signature itself is implicitly homophobic is one of the arguments I think that Peter Clamp made.

CN: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

CB: He says that it presupposes that it is abnormal in some way. So that becomes a point that is maybe well worth debating or discussing, because I could see both sides of that argument. You could see some astrologers saying, one of the points is that historically that actually is probably true. That many of the gay signatures that exist in the astrological literature up until very recently have been implicitly homophobic or often are approaching it, in one way or another, from looking at homosexuality as something that is either bad or wrong morally or something that is outside of the norm.

CN: A problem.

CB: Right.

CN: As Ptolemy says, “a disease of the soul”.

CB: Sure.

CN: Right. 

CB: A deviation of the soul. The question then, so historically that may have been true. 

But then nowadays, or let’s say in the future, as homosexuality becomes more normalized in society or becomes not something that is looked that way as it was in the past. I’m not sure that it’s necessarily a given that everyone who is curious about this topic and attempts to look at it empirically, rather than rejecting it out of hand for philosophical reasons, is necessarily homophobic.

CN: Mm-Hmm (affirmative)

CB: That is one of the objections that one might raise. That there might be people who are gay themselves who might want to look into this topic, and they’re not necessarily approaching it with bad motivations or bad reasons, but just simply out of a broader curiosity for what an astrological chart is capable of saying, either about their own life or for people they know.

CN: That is a question really of agenda more than it is of astrology. It’s why I set up that third class of why are you asking?

CB: Right. 

CN: There is a lot of suspicion about what is your agenda? What are you looking for here? And is that going to be negative? I wouldn’t be surprised if people start tattooing what may pass off as transgender signatures in their chart on T shirts or something like that and wearing them with pride. I could see our culture heading in that direction. Going from something which is like, ” Oh, this ostracised me.” To something which is a badge of honor. That could happen as well. 

CB: Sure. Yeah. Maybe that actually might be a good point, in terms of perspective of sometimes people do do that in terms of the way that they identify with their astrological charts, and that is maybe a point of understanding of why somebody might want to look into it for themselves or for personal reasons. It’s not necessarily always something that might be viewed negatively or shamefully, but instead just as a point of a descriptive factor in a chart that says something about a person’s life like other descriptive factors that are in the chart.

CN: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

CB: So one of the points though that is really important to raise along those lines is that, one of the objections is that sometimes it’s not always a clear distinction. It’s not always just this black and white thing of like somebody is straight or gay or something like that. It’s not necessarily just a binary distinction or difference. So you have different models, like in the 20th century there comes about the Kinsey Scale that posits more of a continuum or a sexual spectrum rather than a binary black or white type situation.

CN: That is a result of Magnus Hirschfeld’s work in the late 19th and early 20th century. He is an early sexologist, and he founds Sex Institute in Berlin, Germany, and he posited, he was building on an earlier Carl Ulrichs’ idea of a third sex, and he was positing this idea that there was a male sex and female sex. But then you also have a third sex that Ulrich’s goes ahead and says stands alone. But Hirschfeld went and said there was actually this gammit that went between the two. He was a very strong influence on early psychology, and even on Freud who later on has nothing to do with him. The earlier models were really working with more the idea of, not so much of bisexual disposition but as a double sex, you know which again gets back to the archetype or the model of the hermaphrodite. This idea that people expressed or experienced a range of sexualities, and at different times of their life. I’m rather certain we could even make a case for Ptolemy even coming out and saying something along those lines. It goes to say that it was much more fluid and that begins in the early 20th century. Late 19th early 20th century.

CB: Sure. That’s a really important point, just in terms of discussing this topic that needs to be raised and that needs to be factored into account. That this is not always a black or white thing, so that the idea of even just looking at one signature or one thing that will indicate this or will unlock the key or tell you whether something is a one or a zero is not necessarily realistic, because there is such a wide scale or a range of different possibilities. And that you have different scenarios, like you said. Where some people who have beenwho have straight relationships or gay relationships at different points in their life. How do you deal with that? Or what kind of signature theoretically would you be looking for in that instance.Or–

CN: Well certainly astrology, aren’t we used to the idea of seeds being planted in the chart that they might not come to life until a transit or progression?

CB: Right.

CN: That could explain why someone may change their sexual identity or preferences or whatever through their life. What I think is extraordinary is that astrology would actually support that through the notion of transits and progressions. It would support that idea. Certainly the transiting planets, if they are a snapshot and they appear in your horoscope like this. Through transits and progressions, the idea of an evolution or a change in one’s sexuality. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine a chart supporting that idea.

CB: Sure. Yeah and I can see that as well. I know that that was one of the objections that was supposed to be put forward to like the absurdity of the idea, or at least to show how it’s not always going to be as black and white. But there is always going to be many different types of scenarios, and it’s been far more complex of an issue than it is sometimes made out to be. One of the other scenarios that was mentioned was sometimes there are some people that are strictly one way, like let’s say somebody who does identify as straight for most of their life, but then some time later on, like after the age of 40 comes out as gay or has some sort of change so that after that point they have same sex relationships for the first time in their life. Even though they hadn’t up to that point or they had been married up to that point. Or sometimes, vice first. I’ve had friends–

CN: There was that recent case with that, I think it was a senator and a top adviser, where he, I forget his name and I apologize. That was maybe about six weeks ago in the New York Times and he comes out and says, “You know, I was so surprised that at the age of 60 or whatever or 70 that I was going to find the love of my life and it’s this fellow. But what he makes a point of talking about is how precious and special and wonderful and how much he celebrates his marriage to his wife. He says the same thing about his marriage to this fellow. It’s not what used to be the old gay models like, “Oh, you’re in the closet or you finally woke up and smelled the coffee.” No, I mean he really talks about there was my life when this woman was my wife, and I loved it. And here is my life right now, and I’m so surprised I found this man and he’s my husband.

CB: Right.

CN: Again that also bears witness to the idea of transits and progressions and things like that. 

CB: So it wasn’t an issue of him repressing something or being in the closet for many years, and then finally being able to come out. Instead this one person came along and that was the first time he considered having a same sex relationship and actually pursued that.

CN: Or this time in his life came along, and that is when he considered having this and meeting this person and things like that. I mean astrology is about time, right? So time is very fluid in its unfolding and it’s going on. So I think you could have a signature that maybe hasn’t been triggered yet, or it aligns in a certain way that it moves on forward. I don’t have examples at my fingertips or whatever, but I’m throwing that out as an idea. 

CB: Sure. All these different scenarios have to be taken into account for a more nuanced and comprehensive treatment of this as a broader meta debate within the astrological community, because oftentimes it’s so much more, and especially the delineations or statements from the past. Let’s say the sixties or seventies were so much more

two dimensional and not taking into account all of these different things. I guess these are just different points to take into account in terms of how the debate and the discussion should be structured and things that should be taken to account when both sides are making arguments either way.

CN: You also have to remember culturally the sixties and seventies is a very different time from the fifties, because

sixties and the seventies you have Civil Rights and you have feminism and you have gay rights beginning. You have the sex revolution and what’s curious and shows up in revolutions is how sensitive the people in the revolution are about that it doesn’t go outside these particular boundaries. It’s a sex revolution for heterosexuals only or the difficulties that feminism was having with all of this. The sixties and the seventies is an extraordinary time because it’s very tense, but it’s also liberal and experimental, but then also wanting to bring things back to safe assumptions and familiar conclusions.

CB: Sure. We’re at the point in our notes where we start discussing the different approaches to some signatures that there have been in the astrological literature from the past. This is roughly divided into first some of the traditional approaches and then talking about some of the modern approaches, especially from the sixties and seventies. Up to this point we were supposed to, and I hope we did an okay job of defining different points that are made either for or against whether or not there can be a signature or signatures. I know there is a number that we didn’t get to or left out or still we’ll deal with later.

But let’s talk a little bit about, so you and I went over some things and you’ve done a pretty extensive literature review of the different traditional approaches, and one of the things that was interesting to both of us was just the fact that we noticed very quickly is that there is no one signature. Instead there are many different possible considerations in some of the traditional treatments of sexual orientation and also that it was surprisingly much more nuanced than one would expect, especially compared to some of the more simplistic statements in some of the modern astrological text on this topic that would often just focus on one planet. Not always, but there is an almost tendency to focus on let’s say Uranus a lot in modern texts. Whereas in the traditional texts it seems like there were a lot of factors going on. 

CN: Right. 

CB: One of the things that also interested you is that it wasn’t just restricted to discussions of of homosexuality, but in was also just in this broader realm of a number of different sexualities and things related to sexuality, right?

CN: Right. What would also probably be of interest to people who know Fuko is how much Ptolemy actually brings in social factors and status factors as well.

As you said, astrology reflects its culture. I mean, we don’t really have a lot of eunuchs running around these days. Or people who have been castrated to the extent that people were castrated back at this period of time. Certainly they’re all being brought into this and the issue of marriage and the place of women. What is fascinating is how much women appear in Ptolemy’s text. Women don’t appear a lot in some of these other texts, but women and particularly tribids or what would be understood in a modern context lesbians do appear in Ptolemy. At one point he even talks about women who marry other women, say that other women are my wife. What an extraordinary statement to be reading in the 21st century that Ptolemy is writing back then. So there really is this rich fabric of sexuality and of lifestyles that Ptolemy is talking about.

CB: Right. So all of these ancient treatments of this topic are very much tied into ancient societies, ancient social norms and oftentimes traditional gender roles.

CN: Right.

CB: So you have to understand all of the signatures and all of the discussions within that context of what you’re talking about. In Ptolemy’s instance you’re talking about second century Roman society and the way that Romans in particular viewed sexuality and sexual orientation, which has some interesting differences that are sometimes not quite what you would expect compared to modern times.

CN: But an easy way for the LGBTQ community to follow along for Ptolemy is basically who is a top and who’s a bottom. That is what Ptolemy is pretty much obsessed with as he maps out the system. The masculinization of the planets and the feminization of the planets. Are you in the rising quadrant or the setting quadrant? Basically it works out to are you a top or a bottom? If you are a top as a man that is understood as being a good thing. That is identified with men, but if you are a top is a woman, that brings out manish or more masculine qualities. Whereas if you have planets of the eastern quarter that is descending, if that is there as a woman that is more acceptable. But if that is a man, that means your bottom, you’re too passive. That’s basically how he sets up the basic rubric, I would say. 

CB: Sure. So it comes down to active versus passive a lot, which is also by shorthand translated into masculine versus feminine. Which is interesting. One of the points that we came across that was interesting as well, is that even things that are sometimes more black and white or more recently, in like the 20th century, were treated more black and white were not necessarily the same in Roman society. Homosexuality or a gay relationship was not necessarily seen as negative for the active partner, wheras to be in the passive role in a gay relationship was looked down upon socially in Roman society. So you get interesting distinctions like that that are not necessarily–

CN: But we would even have to play with the wording of that. To take the passive role in a male friendship. You see what I’m saying? It’s not really being called gay. It’s just the guy is going to have sex with another guy, but it’s to take the passive role in that. What would really be regarded as fraternity, brotherly relationship would be frowned upon.

CB: Sure. I guess that’s the first point, is understanding the cultural context of all of the delineations is very important, because it doesn’t necessarily always translate into the same things today. So from a technical standpoint, though, a lot of Ptolemy’s model seems to be outlined in book three of the Tetrabiblios in chapter 15, and he focuses on four planets primarily. The sun and moon as the initial setting point and then Venus and Mars. And the ideal for Ptolemy is for a balance in one’s placements, which was one of the things that I was a little bit surprised about. I think we were both a bit surprised about that. On the one hand while he does reinforce and certainly adopt traditional gender roles, in saying that it’s best for men to be men and women to be women, and then there are some sort of assumptions or cultural assumptions about what that means. He seems to really emphasize the idea of like balance within one’s allotted gender role as being the ideal, and saying that it’s when you have imbalance in some of the placements so that it’s all masculine sign placements or all feminine sign placements that that’s when the person runs into problems, or in which there is deviations outside of the quote unquote traditional gender roles.So he starts with the sun and Moon and he says that it’s best, ideally, for both sexes actually to have the sun in a masculine sign and the moon in a feminine sign. That sets up his initial standard. He goes from there to say that if you have both luminaries in a masculine sign and you’re a man that you will become too masculine and you will become overly aggressive and overly focused on on sex and other things like that. Whereas he says if you are a man and you have both luminaries in a feminine sign then the males will become overly feminized and become overly passive. And that is when he says that that can sometimes then lead to same sex relationships.

CN: Same sex relationships where the man is the bottom. That is explicitly what he is talking about. I know I’m using terminology like this but it’s very distinctive, even in Ptolemy. If a man is hypersexual and he is going to have sex with other men and that is showing up with hyper masculine or masculinized planets, that is okay because he’s on top. But if the man takes the passive position, Sinati Pathix is actually one of the phrases that he uses to describe someone who takes the passive position. Pathic, we get the idea of suffering but the original root I think is more the man in the passive position and that hurts being penetrated and that is suffering perhaps, or in the context that is being understood there. But that is seen as being not good. So he’s not really talking about homosexuality, he’s talking about the two roles that are taken on in that relationship. 

CB: Sure. What he’s talking about, becoming hyper sexual versus the opposite is transgressing gender and sexual norms, becomes part of the thing for Ptolemy in terms of what the established social norms are what he viewed or what his society viewed as these standards of whatever the ideal was versus one’s gender role. That if you are a man you should be a certain way versus what happens when you transgress that.

CN: Right. He also, interestingly enough, applies that to women as well. Trybed has been translated as lesbian, but actually it comes from the idea of rubbing or friction and Maternus Firmicus gets into this a little bit more explicitly, but what Ptolemy is actually talking about is a woman who penetrates a man, which might a couple of decades ago be, “What? Huh?” But now it’s typical, strap ons and things like that. So he’s actually talking about, it’s not just women being put in the masculine role and they’re going to be lesbians. It could also be a woman put in the masculine role who penetrates a man and the man that accepts it would again fall into that same formula. So what’s interesting is that it’s moving the field posts about what would be homosexual or heterosexual behavior.

CB: Right. So that placement comes up when he says in a woman’s chart, if a woman has all masculine placements, so sun and moon are both placed in masculine signs. And then it’s not just that, because I should clarify from earlier, because otherwise I’m making it sound more simplistic than it actually is. But he says that is the starting point. If you have both luminaries in one gendered sign or both luminaries in the other gendered sign, he says then on top of that, if Venus and Mars are also made more masculine or more feminine as a result of being either morning stars and rising in the morning, in which case they become masculinized or if they are evening stars and they come out in the evening after sunset then they become feminized.

CN: Right.

CB: Then those become the additional factors that push you more to one end of the spectrum or the other in this ancient, I think we both likened it to an ancient version of the Kinsey scale or something like that, because it sets up more of a spectrum.

CN: Right. Absolutely. I think that that is a good way of putting it.

CB: Sure. So that is the technical approach of looking first at the two luminaries and what signs they’re placed in by gender, as pushing one in more of an active or passive role, and then looking at Venus and Mars as adding an additional factor pushing you in one direction or another on that spectrum.

For Ptolemy, at least what he said, is it’s best to have those placements mixed so that you have the quote unquote feminine planets, the moon and Venus in feminine signs and the quote unquote masculine placements, the Sun and Mars in masculine signs. Because then you’re balanced out in some way, whereas if you have them all in one or the other, then you are going to be pushed more towards one end of the spectrum or more towards the other.

CN: Right. That also begs the obvious question of how many charts are going to have these balanced Suns, Moons, Venus and Mars, and how many charts are going to be showing masculinized planets or feminized planets?

CB: Right. You made that point in your lecture, which I thought was a really good point, because it raises the point of that the astrologers and then implicitly acknowledging that they are going to be dealing with this huge spectrum of different people and different clients that are going to have these different placements, and there’s going to be not a ton of people that have the quote unquote ideal placements.

CN: Ptolemy, in all his subtlety, is insinuating that. The other thing that we also have to keep in mind is that astrologers might have had to denounce these portraits of different sexuality, because that was the acceptable way of perhaps being in print, or that that was understood socially. They denounced it. This is horrible, don’t ever go near this. Meanwhile, this is what is going to delineate a hyper male man or woman or hyper female man or woman. It’s interesting because speaking as a gay man that kind of double speak. That way of passing text, subtext is very natural. That is what I was raised in. That has changed because my society and culture has changed. We also have to keep in mind that Ptolemy might have been protesting so much, not necessarily because he held those views, but because that would have made acceptable the information that he was then going to go ahead and share.

CB: Yeah. Then they did include that information in the texts and there is probably a difference between, because that is the main traditional treatment that we will deal with here, and a lot of the other ancient treatments are partially derived from it, but there are a ton of other factors that the astrologers would look at in different texts like Dorthais or Valens or whatever. But there was probably a cultural difference or a cultural shift between the first and second century in Greco Roman society and their social norms versus after Christianity became the dominant religion in the Empire a few centuries later and you have the shift into the Middle Ages. You also have many of the astrologers, then astrology flourishing in the the ninth centuries under the Islamic caliphate in Baghdad and the different social norms there. You know there were some shifts that then happened in the middle ages and different things came into play in terms of some of the interpretations through that as well.

CN: Right.

CB: So that is one take on or one approach to a technical treatment in some of the ancient traditions, and it gives you some idea of some of the nuances and some of the different placements that might be available in that. So by the 20th century though, so let’s jump forward to the modern period whereby the 1960s and 70s when astrology makes this dramatic comeback in the 20th century, and then especially with the influx of young people that came in in the 1960s and 70s, especially a lot of the hippy generation and the astrologers that were born in the 1940s. There was a lot of different books that were written at that time, and a lot of different signatures that came to be associated with homosexuality in the 1960s and 70s. I think, oftentimes, Uranus becomes one of the prominent signifiers.

CN: Right.

CB: Thinking about texts like Sequoian and Akers, for example, which was actually my first astrology book. Which is interesting now, in light of this topic, and the article that I was reading by Peter Clamp, where that is one of the first articles that he really criticizes, because of some of the delineations that they have in that book about placements that might indicate that.

CN: Right, right. What is fascinating about that is that a lot of their placements are actually coming from earlier literature, which was connected particularly to Uranus. Uranus has an extraordinary history in astrology. It’s discovered and it’s connected with the original meanings are volatile changes and there is an erratic quality. Certainly in the work that I’ve done on Luke Dennis Brotton, and he talks about Herschel a lot. That is Uranus’ original name, Hershel. Hershel figures in a lot of the writing that he was doing through the Civil War. Luke Dennis Braaten published an astrological gazette through the United States Civil War, and it’s a wonderful gazette. One of the things that it does is that actually he’s doing predictions on wars as they are unfolding, and so a lot of times he will invoke Hershel, Uranus. Uranus really appears as the disrupter planet. It’s the planet of revolution and change. It’s going to kick over the game board and send all the pieces flying, and that is kind of this radical element is Uranus. What is interesting is that the German Karl Heinrich Olrichs in 1867 gives this speech at a Congress of German jurists where he is trying to basically dismantle this law that persecutes homosexuals under the Prussian Anti Homosexual Statute 143. He speaks out as a gay man for the equal rights of all homosexuals, and when he does that he calls them Uranians, okay. What he does is that he’s taken this idea of Uranian, Uranus from Plato’s symposium, which is basically a long philosophical debate or dialogue on the nature of eros, on sexuality. One of the stories that these Greek men are sitting around drunk and talking about, one of the stories is actually communicated by Aristophanes, and he tells the story of the Androgyne, which is basically man before the fall. It’s again echoing Jacob Bhome, Adam before the fall. That man before the fall, there were actually three sexes. There were men who were born under, who were children of the sun, and those were men men. Basically humans at this time were spherical in their shape. They were shaped just like their parents which were planets, and so there are two heads and eight limbs and the heads face in opposite directions and the limbs face in opposite directions. And there were three sexes of these double bodied humans, and the first is men who are born under the sun, which is men men. Men who are children of the earth, which are women women. And children of the moon, which is mixed nature which is a man and a woman. Which then becomes the archetype of the hermaphrodite or androgyne. Anyways, Zeus in one of his hissy fits, because they’ve gotten too uppity or whenever, splits these three sexes. He splits these globes in half, and so that they are apart and searching for their other half and they are full of misery. And what began as an exercise in getting them to genuflect to Zeus, the master god turns into the opposite, because they’re too despairing of separation from their other half to sacrifice to the gods. And that is a new problem, so basically he sets up human beings, which are one half of a double, that are continually seeking their other halves.This is a model that is used to to explain eros and the search for the beloved. Anyway, Ulrichs borrows this model and says there are men who are men, women who are women, and then there is a third sex, these Uranians who are the souls of women born in the bodies of men or they are the souls of men born in the bodies of women, which is an interesting reflection or mirror of what we’ve just been discussing in terms of Ptolemy and that sort of thing. This idea of a third sex gets picked up by two people. One of them is the French poet and literary critic John Addington Simons who publishes a book called “Problem in Modern Ethics” in 1891 which talks about the Uranians or the third sex. Another one is transmitted by the English socialist and philosopher Edward Carpenter, and he publishes a book called “The Indeterminate Sex” in 1908. These are men who are recognized in their society, but these books were also circulated in gay circles, and so it begins to really bring up this idea of Uranian and gay. This third sex, which is descended from Aphrodite Urania. This term Urania is then picked up by the German sexologist Marcus Hershfield, who I had mentioned before, who was active in Berlin from 1897 to the late 1920s. Hirschfeld’s way of fighting the oppression of homosexuals in German society was to educate the public on Uranianism or Uranism. It was the idea that he had to prove scientifically that Uranism was a biological phenomenon with its own psychological makeup. He had to basically come up with a biological signature for gay. He said that homosexuality with an inboard mental and physical condition, that there were indeed three sexes and that basically Uranians mirrored the idea of the human embryo as being bisexual in the first stages of its development. But in accordance to Darwin’s natural law of selection, male and female heteronormative would win out for procreation purposes, but that the Uranians were also a class among themselves. It’s kind of the wannabe sexuality, but you know the reason II go into that long description of Uranian is that somewhere in this period it goes from describing being an understanding for homosexual. In fact, Uranian is the word used before homosexuality is coined. Somehow it goes from that and it appears in astrological literature. CEO Carter’s Encyclopedia of Psychological Astrology in 1924 has a quote that associates Uranus to homosexuality. Dr. Karl Gunther Hansa in his Homosexuality in the Horoscope in 1928 makes the association of Uranus contexts to the Sun, Moon or Venus as denoting homosexuality. Then HL Cornel in the Encyclopedia of Medical Astrology in 1933 says that basically Uranus in a chart, if it’s very strong, any sort of aspects to the Sun Moon and Venus is going to talk about homosexuality. This transition from a social political movement into astrological texts, which appear in 1924, 1928, 1933, this is then parroted or repeated by astrologers from that period of time, and then is what is showing up in these sound bite statements about homosexuality and Secoian and Akron and everyone else that Peter Clamp sites in his article.

CB: Sure. It starts out as the term Uranian as something that is being applied to homosexuality in sociological and psychological and other circles before it was fully picked up and integrated by the astrologers. 

CN: Right. What we actually have is a remarkable instance in which a planet is assigned meaning not based on observing it in the sky or records being passed down or whatever, but it’s assigned its meaning really out of the culture. The two places where Uranian is being used as a reference for homosexuality are Germany and Britain, and these are the two sources of the astrological texts for those associations, which are Germany and Britain and then later America. 

CB: Sure. That is really interesting, and you give a brilliant talk and I definitely recommend people checking out your talk on that, because you’ve actually done a really good job of summarizing what was a full 75 minute talk. I would encourage people to check out the full talk for your full treatment of that. So by the 1960s and 70s this has become something that is more ingrained, and I think Uranus comes up especially, but also just the outer planets in general are invoked as indicating homosexuality in passing in different delineations. Uranus in particular comes to be associated with the idea in general as the significator in astrology with things that are odd or unique or against the norm. When that gets applied to areas that are supposed to deal with relationship or sexuality, like with Venus inthe seventh house or something like that, the delineation that is produced, that sometimes ends up indicating people that end up getting into same sex relationships.

CN: Your right. Or can’t commit to relationships or open relationships. It’s basically anything that is not normal or typical.

CB: Right. Often with this negative slant or negative spin. Then there is a similar issue with Uranus or with Neptune and Pluto.

CN: Right. Because they’re modern planets.

CB: Right.

CN: The idea of modern problems or whatever being symbolized by them or whatever.

CB: Sure. Perhaps even just the overemphasis of modern planets on some level. One thing that you mentioned earlier that I thought was really interesting was that you pointed out that it was weird how some of the significations in some of the older texts they were applying to Saturn seem to be getting appropriated by Uranus.

CN: Oh, yeah. There is a passage from Himseth where he talks about Uranus and Venus being very icy and cold and disconnected, and has almost virtually what I think Arroyo is saying about Venus and Uranus. It’s almost the same thing, except Arroyo is connecting that to Venus, Uranus. Or it’s a Venus, Uranus signature, but both passages actually can be found in earlier texts with Venus and Saturn. I think it’s in the Valens maybe. I think it’s maybe in Valens in that section where he’s talking about Cronos trying Aphrodite. That there is a sort of cold aloof quality that he refers to.

CB: Right. There is a lot of social and weird things that Peter Clamp does a really good job of deconstructing in terms of their underlying negative preconceptions that they are approaching it with, in terms of what he’s assuming same sex relationships are like or negative spins that he is giving that based a different delineation like aloofness or coldness or what have you. But bringing this more into the modern period where this has become an ingrained thing in some quarters in modern astrology in terms of this association between Uranus, because it’s generally accepted as a significator of things that are different or unique or against the norm.

CN: Rebellious, revolutionary.

CB: Right. So one of the questions then arises, or one of the natural questions is if that is an appropriate significater

or not. And the question of whether Uranus, which I think it’s generally accepted, indicate things that are odd or unique, would it continue to indicate homosexuality as it becomes more normalized in modern society? Or if something that becomes fully normalized in modern society, for example in the United States with same sex marriage becoming legalized in the past few years, and presumably that sort of trend continuing over the course of the next century. Let’s look really far out in the future. Then one of the questions becomes, can it really be signified by Uranus if it’s not something that’s quote unquote weird or outside of the social norm anymore?

CN: It’s fascinating because Uranus showed up in that simply abbreviated way that I was just critiquing in the charts of Ulrichs and Herchfield. It also shows up in the signature, that sound bite shows up in Caitlyn Jenner’s chart and Livern Cox’ chart. And Chelsea Manning’s chart. It shows up, and in a specifically Uranus, Venus context. First of all, will revolution and change ever go out of fashion? No. If we were to assign Uranus, it’s a variable, we assign the planet Uranus a job, a mission in astrology, revolution and change. That is what it does ceaselessly and endlessly and forever. If we assign that meaning to it, that is never going to go out of fashion, and that is never going to be normative. It stands for everything that will always be against that. That at least is the modern understanding of it.

CB: Sure.

CN: I found it in the charts. I do want to describe that I was looking at in charts of people who were dealing with transgender issues, who were connected to that. So I’m throwing that out as an idea, I’m not locking it in and saying this is the definition. I’m throwing that out as an idea, and certainly the notion of the divine hermaphrodite, the thing that predates civilization after the fall of Adam. Or the embryo before it becomes sexualized, there is that idea of a coexisting of the two sexes fused together. Creating one out of fusion of this, and this is something which is, I think an archetype that is very relevant, particularly to the transgender community, much more than I think an exclusively gay

Much more than what would be an exclusively gay man or an exclusively gay woman. That whole idea of transgendering is perhaps connected to Uranus, or it’s worth looking at that. As we’ve learned from looking at Ptolemy today some things have never gone out of fashion. There is always going to be what is being looked at sexually and what is being looked at socially. I don’t think a lot of people remember or know that celibacy used to be, celibacy was the Middle Ages version of homosexuality or the early Middle Ages’ version of homosexuality. The fact that a woman or a man would choose to be celibate and go against reproducing or continuing the expansion of family wealth through marriage, that they would choose God and be celibate. That was seen as a perversion. Fathers beat their daughters over that, or whatever. It was seen as perverted and it was seen as wrong. It was seen as unhealthy. So our attitudes about different sexual stances or different sexualities are ever changing. But they are also changing in a very unpredictable way. I don’t think they’re always going to arrive at the same conclusions over and over and over again, and we’re living in a society where your image, the image you have of yourself. You can change your body shape to fit that, whether it’s plastic surgery or whether it’s a gender reassignment. By the way, Marcus Magnus Hirschfeld did the first gender reassignment surgery in 1922.

CB: Okay. Yeah, one that points is just that society does change, and obviously is changing sometimes much more rapidly than you would think. In the past five to ten or maybe 15 years, what seemed like a much more gradual, and something that I’m sure seemed like it was not happening very quickly for many decades. In terms of something as seemingly simple as the acceptance of same sex relationships, suddenly that has changed on some level, so socially relatively rapidly. In the grand scheme of things over the past 10 or 15 years.

CN: It’s extraordinary. It’s extraordinary how quickly it’s changed three to five years. It’s amazing.

CB: Conceptually or philosophically, one of the questions then is just as something where nowadays it’s become to the point where nobody will necessarily, it’s not nobody, I’m exaggerating. But let’s say nobody will bat an eye at somebody that has the same sex relationship or think much of that. Or think that that’s terribly weird or abnormal, necessarily. Or that that’s something that is not okay, then would that cease to become something that’s Uranian on some level, if it doesn’t stand out, and if it’s not unique. I don’t want to say weird, because it’s not the right term, but I’m just saying–

CN: Although it’s often used with Uranus. I would point back to the Aristophanes model. There is male male sexuality, female female sexuality, female male sexuality. These were of equal status in his parable or myth or story that he shares at this party. So he puts all three of them on the equal status and actually uses them to illustrate the point of seeking a beloved other. It wasn’t just a man looking for a woman or a woman looking for a man. He sets up three sexes, and Zeus splits each in half, and they are seeking their other half. And what makes it even more screwy is that they’re all mixed up. A woman who is looking for her male half may be attracting a man who is looking for his male half. It’s this wonderful parable and mirror of what is going on in relationships and sexuality today, so I don’t think it’s going to lose its space that it’s holding there. There will always be things that are not acceptable. It’s just like religion. There is a difference between scripture and the mystical experience. What is accepted biblically and what is is not. But churches and religious institutions depend on their mystics. They have to have them in order to refresh the old wine bags. But at the same time, they can’t get too dangerous or too out there because then it goes against the institution that they’re holding. So I think Uranus is always connected to what is outside that institution or what is accepted. But not in a Promethean way. More in the fact that Uranus is the first god and the most mysterious if you look a Greek mythology, because time starts with Saturn, but Uranus is eternity. Uranus lives outside of time. What is past, present and future to a creature of eternity? That is more what I’m trying to get at with the Uranian idea.

CB: Sure. The way I’m trying to conceptualize the terms of the debate to myself conceptually is just, let’s say a modern astrologer… You have some of those astrologers that obviously were criticized or can be criticized quite legitimately for the way that they treated the outer planets as a signature for same sex relationships in the 1960s and 70s, but let’s say hypothetically, that they were actually seeing a lot of clients coming in that had Uranus conjunct Venus, and then it turned out that they were homosexual in a period in which that was something that was extremely

unique or different or not socially acceptable. It almost makes sense that they would have a placement like that in the cultural context, but let’s say that becomes normalized 50 years from now, so that that is not something that stands out is weird or as strange anymore. You have two scenarios. One is that Uranus ceases to become relevant at that point, in which case that was an astrological signification that was both temporarily in a period of time and also culturally relative. To some extent, as we’ve said, astrology is always culturally relative or a product of culture. On the other hand, the other possibility is does the fact that, even going forward, if some of the current numbers, and who knows if those numbers are correct, which estimate that the percentage of people that self identify as gay is somewhere between five and ten percMuch more than what would be an exclusively gay man or an exclusively gay woman. That whole idea of transgendering is perhaps connected to Uranus, or it’s worth looking at that. As we’ve learned from looking at Ptolemy today some things have never gone out of fashion. There is always going to be what is being looked at sexually and what is being looked at socially. I don’t think a lot of people remember or know that celibacy used to be, celibacy was the Middle Ages version of homosexuality or the early Middle Ages’ version of homosexuality. The fact that a woman or a man would choose to be celibate and go against reproducing or continuing the expansion of family wealth through marriage, that they would choose God and be celibate. That was seen as a perversion. Fathers beat their daughters over that, or whatever. It was seen as perverted and it was seen as wrong. It was seen as unhealthy. So our attitudes about different sexual stances or different sexualities are ever changing. But they are also changing in a very unpredictable way. I don’t think they’re always going to arrive at the same conclusions over and over and over again, and we’re living in a society where your image, the image you have of yourself. You can change your body shape to fit that, whether it’s plastic surgery or whether it’s a gender reassignment. By the way, Marcus Magnus Hirschfeld did the first gender reassignment surgery in 1922.

CB: Okay. Yeah, one that points is just that society does change, and obviously is changing sometimes much more rapidly than you would think. In the past five to ten or maybe 15 years, what seemed like a much more gradual, and something that I’m sure seemed like it was not happening very quickly for many decades. In terms of something as seemingly simple as the acceptance of same sex relationships, suddenly that has changed on some level, so socially relatively rapidly. In the grand scheme of things over the past 10 or 15 years.

CN: It’s extraordinary. It’s extraordinary how quickly it’s changed three to five years. It’s amazing.

CB: Conceptually or philosophically, one of the questions then is just as something where nowadays it’s become to the point where nobody will necessarily, it’s not nobody, I’m exaggerating. But let’s say nobody will bat an eye at somebody that has the same sex relationship or think much of that. Or think that that’s terribly weird or abnormal, necessarily. Or that that’s something that is not okay, then would that cease to become something that’s Uranian on some level, if it doesn’t stand out, and if it’s not unique. I don’t want to say weird, because it’s not the right term, but I’m just saying–

CN: Although it’s often used with Uranus. I would point back to the Aristophanes model. There is male male sexuality, female female sexuality, female male sexuality. These were of equal status in his parable or myth or story that he shares at this party. So he puts all three of them on the equal status and actually uses them to illustrate the point of seeking a beloved other. It wasn’t just a man looking for a woman or a woman looking for a man. He sets up three sexes, and Zeus splits each in half, and they are seeking their other half. And what makes it even more screwy is that they’re all mixed up. A woman who is looking for her male half may be attracting a man who is looking for his male half. It’s this wonderful parable and mirror of what is going on in relationships and sexuality today, so I don’t think it’s going to lose its space that it’s holding there. There will always be things that are not acceptable. It’s just like religion. There is a difference between scripture and the mystical experience. What is accepted biblically and what is is not. But churches and religious institutions depend on their mystics. They have to have them in order to refresh the old wine bags. But at the same time, they can’t get too dangerous or too out there because then it goes against the institution that they’re holding. So I think Uranus is always connected to what is outside that institution or what is accepted. But not in a Promethean way. More in the fact that Uranus is the first god and the most mysterious if you look a Greek mythology, because time starts with Saturn, but Uranus is eternity. Uranus lives outside of time. What is past, present and future to a creature of eternity? That is more what I’m trying to get at with the Uranian idea.

CB: Sure. The way I’m trying to conceptualize the terms of the debate to myself conceptually is just, let’s say a modern astrologer… You have some of those astrologers that obviously were criticized or can be criticized quite legitimately for the way that they treated the outer planets as a signature for same sex relationships in the 1960s and 70s, but let’s say hypothetically, that they were actually seeing a lot of clients coming in that had Uranus conjunct Venus, and then it turned out that they were homosexual in a period in which that was something that was extremely

unique or different or not socially acceptable. It almost makes sense that they would have a placement like that in the cultural context, but let’s say that becomes normalized 50 years from now, so that that is not something that stands out is weird or as strange anymore. You have two scenarios. One is that Uranus ceases to become relevant at that point, in which case that was an astrological signification that was both temporarily in a period of time and also culturally relative. To some extent, as we’ve said, astrology is always culturally relative or a product of culture. On the other hand, the other possibility is does the fact that, even going forward, if some of the current numbers, and who knows if those numbers are correct, which estimate that the percentage of people that self identify as gay is somewhere between five and ten percent. That is hotly debated. If it is that, which is kind of surprising to me personally. When I looked it up, I expected it to be higher. But if it is that small percentage of the population, then does the fact that it’s a smaller subset of the population mean that something like Uranus would always still be relevant.

ent. That is hotly debated. If it is that, which is kind of surprising to me personally. When I looked it up, I expected it to be higher. But if it is that small percentage of the population, then does the fact that it’s a smaller subset of the population mean that something like Uranus would always still be relevant.Indicating something that is non standard or outside of the other 90% or 95%. 

CN: I look at the gay movement itself. We began with gay movement. Now we have to go LGBTQ. The gay movement starts basically in America with the Stonewall riot. That is said to have been gay men. Well, in actuality, no it wasn’t. The biggest protesters were actually transvestites and people who were identifying as transgender. So from that if you push the button gay movement, from that all of a sudden now we deal with links that take us to lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer. That is why Uranus was embraced, really as being the queer planet in Waysler’s first astrology conference was to show. There was an investigation or an exploration really of queer. It’s not just gay, which then became gay men, which then became white privileged gay men, cis gender identified. It opened up to LGBTQ community. That taking an idea and turning it on its head or spinning it in an unexpected direction. We talk about gay rights, but my god look at what all of a sudden happened with the transgender community, in terms of profile and their needs getting met. It’s like when a famous actor says, “I’m an overnight success.” Yeah, right. How many years it took for their movies to finally get to this place. I think Uranus is always going to stand for the unpredictable, and maybe it might be connected to the unpredictable in sexuality. Because I think sexuality is always going to be unpredictable and it may stand for that. The thing that might make it frustrating is it’s timelessness. If it’s always standing for unpredictability and change, that’s leading with the idea that there are things that we can’t predict or know. Maybe Uranus in some way stands for that. 

CB: Sure. It will be Interesting to see in the future decades as culture continues to develop and change what Uranus stands for at different points in time, and whether that stays more constant or whether that changes as things become normalized. And if it does, then Uranus may not be a sufficient indicator for something as simple as same sex relationships.

CN: Or it may expand our imagination in ways that our make believe astrologer from the the sixties and seventies who is giving the offensive homosexual signature reading or whatever, could they have imagined the world we’re living in? 

CB: Right. I’m sure you and I will have as hard a time on some levels imagining the world and the social norms 100 years from now.

CN: That is why as people who love history as much as we do, we’re so sympathetic to it. When you look back. And if you love history there is a sympathy, because that was the time that the person was living in and culture. It’s not a condescending perspective, it’s a sympathetic one. You have to really get into what that person’s perspective was and what their culture was at that period of time. It doesn’t get them off the hook for certain things, but it also hopefully brings a more informed and enriched and sympathetic view.

CB: Definitely. Yeah, that is a really excellent point, and it brings up one of the reoccuring points for me is that it’s almost risky to make, I don’t want to say any statements, but it’s almost risky to make statements about gender and sexual orientation on some level, since any statements that are made are partially going to be the products of the mindset of the astrologer and whatever the prevailing ideas or theories are that they have subscribed to at the time. Just like some of the theories that were being–

CN: But Ptolemy teaches us that. Ptolemy begins with, “This is supposed to be the norm.” And then he goes and shows how everything is not going to fit into the norm. You know what I’m saying? 

CB: Sure.

CN: Ptolemy begins with that stance.

CB: Right. But he also begins with the stance of what men’s roles in society are and what women’s roles in society are.

CN: Right. And then he questions them. He questions them in terms of nature. Not the roles in society but nature. If nature is going to hand an astrologer a chart at the time that Ptolemy is practicing where he has to address a client or whomever is seeking his advice who was clearly homosexual, what did he say? 

CB: Sure.

CN: To that person, we don’t know. 

CB: Yeah. He clearly acknowledges that there are things that are outside of what he sees as the standard. In that way he’s much more open to and realistic about what the world is actually like. But he does still seem to think that the ideal

and the easiest thing or the thing that for the native is going to be the most objectively easy is the traditional gender norms in his time period in the second century. So the interesting thing is if one is going to make the argument that some of those interesting things, looking at some of Ptolemy’s rules for determining things like that is that that material does possibly or theoretically provide a possible approach to that topic that might still be useful, but it would have to be stripped of a lot of the negative cultural connotations of what being outside of the quote unquote norm entails.

CN: Yeah. You’re a writer Chris. I’m a writer. In Ptolemy’s setting up textbook, you also can’t help but wonder, did he feel like he had to say those things? 

CB: Sure. 

CN: In order to publish the information. 

CN: Yeah. I’m sure–

CN: It’s a crazy question, and it’s incredibly speculative and it’s an impossible one. You still have to consider that possibility.

CB: Yeah, I’m sure there were gay astrologers in history that simply couldn’t announce that they were in text. That actually raises an interesting cultural question, which is like we have the question of who was the first female astrologer that we can identify in history.

CN: Oh wow, yeah. 

CB: We have a similar question here, which is who is the first homosexual astrologer that you can identify in history that is clearly our and was overt about it. 

CN: RIght. And let’s make it clear, I don’t know if Ptolemy was gay or not. But what I find fascinating is that if this information was supposed to be so frowned upon and so bad and things like that, why is it being talked about so much? I mean why does he give it so much real estate in his book? This is a book that is being copied over by monks. Ptolemy didn’t go to a xerox machine or a publisher.This has been passed down through the centuries and copied over. If any of these passages were deemed offensive or bad in the Christian hands that it passed through, they would have been omitted. So what is up with that? What is that story? Why is that? It’s extraordinary that this even exists, that you and I can even talk about this. So it must have meant something, I mean it is pure speculation, but it must have meant something at least at this period of time that if he was going to go into this in so much detail. Really to show these formulas, there was a purpose for a reason for it, a reason for it.

CB: Sure. Let’s pause for a second, because I think there is a problem with the recording.

CN: Okay.

CB: I’m gonna press stop.

Okay, and we’re back. We had a little bit of an interruption, a technical snafu. But luckily we were already through most of the points that we wanted to cover. And most of the way towards the end of the episode. So just a few points that we were going to make that we will just touch on briefly. One of them was other objections. I have seen a few statements where some have said that they tested different methods statistically and found no signature and have used this as a rationale to reject the idea that there can be any signature. One wonders if these results are valid, given that statistics have not been successfully used to validate astrology at all so far in general. I’m not entirely clear that that is sufficient as a statement to reject the idea completely at this point in time.

CN: I always find remarks like that suspicious, quite frankly. When did they test and for how long? What was their test group? I just find that whole notion kind of suspicious a little bit.

CB: Sure. Especially with some of the nuances that different aspects are supposed to show, or some of the nuances in the traditional delineations. One wonders how they applied those or what different combinations they used. It’s just a little suspicious. Anyways, other things that we couldn’t get into is are transgender issues tied in with or not related to astrological signatures for homosexuality. We touched on that briefly, but we didn’t really fully go into it. Other things are recent suggestions about rejecting gender based distinctions in astrology altogether, and broader issues with gender and relationship astrology as well. Lik are delineations different for men and women or should they be the same? Or is Mars more descriptive for relationships for men and Venus for women? Or is that a model that is no longer relevant? Things connected to that. So the final point, just getting to our concluding remarks is just that the point of this discussion was to raise the issue and talk about a number of different facets of the debates surrounding it.

It’s such a vast topic that it is hard to do justice to it within a reasonable period of time. Instead of trying to arrive at some hard and fast conclusions, we hope that this discussion just helped to start the discussion and encourage the listener to think about the issue.

CN: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

CB: There is a lot more obviously that could be said about the subject, I think we both agree, right?

CN: Yeah, and I think the word conversation is perfect to bring up with it, because we would have been committing the same problems again by saying, “Okay here is the answer.” Astrology is always about reading, and whatever we can excavate from the history of astrology to help us in the process of reading is wonderful. But a reader doesn’t know. You’re reading the text. You’re reading the text of the horoscope. I think just opening up that conversation and allowing all the different points of view to come out. Especially at a time when it is so much showing up in our communities, whether you’re a part of the LGBTQ community or not. It’s just very, very relevant. This is something in which astrology surprisingly or maybe not so surprising, actually has quite a bit of information and history.

CB: Right. I think we’re entering into a new time period, so maybe it’s time for a new phase of this discussion. I understand how the discussion has gone in the past and some of the conclusions that people have come to, and where the discussion was left up unitl today, but as things are changing in society, perhaps there are some things that are worth looking at again and having the discussion again in a different time period. For example, the article that we have cited a lot by Peter Clamp was written in 2000 and things were a little bit different at that time period. He was writing in a different context than today. Or if you take it back further like Liz Green and Stephen Arroyo writing in the 1960s and 70s and the social context–

CN: I think it’s seventies and eighties, or is it?

CB: Right.Yeah. So this now, perhaps things are a little bit different again, and so perhaps it’s time for a different phase in this discussion and hopefully this podcast will help to open that up on both sides of that debate.

CN: Yeah. That’s why you do them, right?

CB: Yeah, exactly. This is like a lot of different debates about different things on this podcast. I love to feature things like that, just because that is where some of the action and some of the most interesting things are in the community. The points where not everybody is in agreement, but where there is actually reason for legitimate debate, and both sides have good points that they could make on either side.

CN: Absolutely. That is what makes the current astrological community so exciting. So dynamic and so very, very exciting.

CB: Right. Yeah, it is in that spirit. I hope that people understand that that is the spirit that we are approaching this with, and recognize and are okay with it, and looking at it from that perspective of just trying to start a conversation rather than tell people that it is one way or the other.

CN: Right.

CB: So that is totally fine if from this point people do want to adopt specific positions on one side of that or the other, because they have specific reasons. Well in the future, I think for further research definitely I’ll put a link to that Peter Clamp article. People should definitely check out Christopher’s lecture on this topic. Where can they get a hold of that?

CN: Rubicon, I think. I don’t have it yet posted up on my Ruling Planets website, because it’s going through transitions, but I think probably Rubicon at this point has the full thing. Or the QUACK, The Queer Astrology Conference. The second one was this one. The one that I gave before, which might also be of some interest is “The Saturn Return of AIDS”, and that was done at the first conference that Ian put together, which is such a wonderful thing that he’s doing. Not only for the LGBT community but for the astrological community in general. It’s long overdue and he’s doing it wonderfully, and there is a lot of exciting work that is coming out of that.

CB: Yeah, I’ll be interviewing Ian in July.

CN: Great.

CB: So we’ll have a continuation of some of these themes on that episode.

All right. I’ll post links to both of those pages, or at least one of them for where people can find the link to your full lecture on this topic. 

CN: Terrific.

CB: Excellent. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today.

CN: Oh Chris, thank you. It’s been such a pleasure.

CB: All right, and thanks everyone for listening and we’ll see you next time.