The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 80, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Rick Levine
Episode originally released on June 25, 2016
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 email@example.com.
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released June 14th, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode was recorded on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 starting just after 7:00 p.m. in Denver, Colorado and this is the 80th episode of the show. For more information about how to subscribe to the podcast and help support the production of future episodes by becoming a Patreon, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with astrologer Rick Levine about the process and techniques involved in writing a regular horoscope column using Sun sign astrology. You can find out more information about Rick on his website at stariq.com.
Before we get started with the interview, just a few quick announcements about the giveaway that we’re doing at the end of the month. The giveaway is for patrons of the show who donated the $5 and $10 tiers and the drawing will take place at the end of June during the final episode of the month. The grand prize for patrons on the $10 tier this month is a free pass to the upcoming conference that’s being hosted by the International Society for Astrological Research later this year. This is going to be the biggest conference of the year and it’s being held in Costa Mesa, California from October 13th 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 more than 60 speakers from around the world speaking on six different tracks plus numerous workshops and two separate panels on the US presidential election. You can find out more information about the conference at isarstrology.org. So that’s the grand prize that we’re giving away at the end of the month for the $10 tier.
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 has been published six times a year for nearly 30 years and it’s become the publication that students of astrology and professional astrologers rely on to keep them connected to what’s going on in the astrological community. TMA covers just about all of your 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 this month is to become a patron of the astrology podcast through our page on Patreon at the $5 or $10 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 on 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 of The Astrology Podcast at theastrologypodcast.com. All right, with those announcements out of the way, let’s get started with the interview. Rick, welcome to the show.
RICK LEVINE: Well, Chris, thank you for having me here.
CB: I’m really excited to have you on this episode of the show because you’re a man that has many hats. I think that’s the expression or maybe that’s not the expression, but you’re a known technological whiz in some sense for many years and you do podcasts, you do videos, you do horoscope columns, you’ve written books, you’ve given many lectures and workshops, you’ve done pretty much everything and, in some ways, some of the things that you have done in your career have been a great archetype for me to look up to when doing shows like this. So, I’m excited to have you on and especially to talk about this topic because you’re one of those people that does a great job I think of showing the benefits of writing horoscope columns as a community service in some sense.
RL: Yeah, I know it’s an interesting place to find myself at that is writing Sun sign horoscopes because it’s not something I ever imagined doing. We’ll get there, yeah. Yeah.
CB: So, what’s your background, and how did you get into astrology, and how did you come to the point where you are today as a very well-respected writer of astrology columns that millions of people read?
RL: Well, I grew up in an academic science math home. My dad was a radio guy and his expertise was coils for antennas. So, I had the electromagnetic vibration buzz as a youth, was a ham radio operator, so on, but I always was attracted to things on the edge. Through junior high school and high school, I read a ton of science fiction and everything scientific I could get my hands on. The monthly appearance of Scientific American at my home for me meant getting lost in Martin Gardner’s monthly column called Mathematical Games and Diversions. It was a brilliant column that ran for I don’t know decades, but I was always interested in things on the edge. So, I found myself reading about palmistry and ghosts and psychic stuff and hypnotism and astrology and UFOs and anything that was on the edge, anything. And one of my first books that I read way back then was Sydney Omarr’s My World of Astrology, but I read lots of biographies of lots of people who did things on the edge of science shall we say. And then I ended up going to college State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook University in 1967. And ‘67 to ‘71, I took a bachelor’s degree in psychology at probably one of the most radical over the edge colleges in the United States in a period of four years that were in the wake of the Uranus Pluto conjunction in my eight semesters, four years of college work. I never had a semester end when finals were in session. The school was always closed for something. Police state something, student something, the administrative shutdown, politics, there was always a crazy time to be in school.
And during that time, I was totally devouring Freud and Jung, very much into the Joseph Campbell and of course, doing lots of yoga and learning about Buddhism and Hinduism. One of my most memorable professors was a man who made the front cover of Time magazine in the ‘50s and with the title God is Dead and the man’s name was Thomas J. J. Altizer and he was thrown out of the University of Alabama for preaching Nietzsche and Kierkegaardian theology of radical theology. And it was through him that I got a really good grounding in the wider sense of comparative religion but from an interesting point of view. Anyhow, to make a long story short, it was during that time that anything else that came in astrology came in mostly through Linda Goodman Sun Signs, but then Joan Quigley’s Astrology for Adults and Isabel Hickey and a whole bunch of other stuff and I was totally fascinated with it. It was just one of many things. But I didn’t give it a huge amount of thought until someone gave me Dane Rudhyar’s The Astrology of Personality. And that was the book that basically, how do I say this? I was going to say fuck with me, but I don’t know if we can say that. So, I would just say it screwed my head around in so many different directions that I was never able to put it all back into the box because in reading that book, I became thoroughly aware of how astrology was tied to the entire depth psychology movement even though I had read some Jungian astrology, it didn’t really connect with the doing charts in the modern astrology that I was messing around with in college. So that was the point that really got me started into astrology, but I come to it as a science math person. I went to college to become a math teacher which I turned around and ended up with a degree in psychology.
CB: So, you should have been in college, I mean, Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs was published in 1968, so you’re in college right during the epicenter of this big wave of astrology that-
RL: Oh, yeah, when that book came out, that book was an instant hit and everyone I knew was reading it because astrology rode in on the same wave as the ‘60s rock and roll, politics, anti-war, yoga, vegetarian. I mean, it was just part of it and Sun sign astrology or the book Sun Signs was a piece of magic. And I think that looking back, that book wasn’t so much a rationalization to write Sun Signs like I do now, but it became a data point because of how many people of my generation got into astrology because they read Linda Goodman Sun Signs and realized there was more to it than they had previously thought.
CB: Right, right. I mean, because her delineations are actually pretty impressive and much deeper than you might expect. I mean, she actually goes on for a while on each of the combinations and some of her points about are surprisingly insightful. And that’s actually a really good analogy with what you would later go on to do because that was one of the things I’ve always said about you and Jeff’s work is just I’m always amazed at the amount of depth of information that you’re able to squeeze out of something that sometimes just amounts to like a few data points in terms of what you’re able to mine from that.
RL: Yeah, yeah. And when you say Jeff, for those listeners who don’t know, Jeff Jawer was my writing partner and business partner for 16 years until he passed about a year ago with lung cancer, so just putting that on the record.
CB: Yeah, yeah, I’d like to go into your whole working relationship and story together. So, in late 1960s, do you know when it was when you were still in college when you found Dane Rudhyar’s book?
RL: Oh yeah, absolutely. I probably read Linda Goodman in ‘68 or ’69, probably ’68 and Dane Rudhyar was shortly thereafter. I mean, I was already reading Joan Quigley. I have an ephemeris, but there were some books that allowed one to look up where the planets were in signs and I already got the bug. And so, it was my senior year in college which would have probably been the fall of 1970 because I graduated in ‘71, that I actually read that first book of Dane Rudhyar and just went, “Holy smokes! Analytical psychology, psychology of four types, Jung fire, earth, air, water, thinking, feeling, sensing, intuiting. Holy smokes, this whole thing is built upon an astrological concept, oh my god!” And I just assumed when I was an undergraduate that I would become a PhD therapist Jungian psychologist. I mean, it was like I came from a family and my grades were always really good, I just assumed that I would do that, but I got bored of academia by the time I finished my undergraduate work and never looked back.
CB: Okay, so that’s interesting. So, your introduction to astrology was psychological and-
RL: Absolutely, and spiritual because there was a whole Hindu Vedic Buddhist piece of my undergraduate years also.
CB: But then you also maintained a strong science background and interest in science and that ended up playing in-
RL: Never have lost that at all. And if you would look at my bookshelves, you would find just as many books on science and the history of science and theoretical science and practical science as you would astrology.
CB: Sure. And two of the main things I know you for is one, your interest in what you call quantum astrology and that’s something that I found just like a year ago, you published a book on it I think around the time of one of the UACs in the 1990s titled Quantum Astrology and of course-
RL: Yeah, that’s actually a book that has yet to be written. And 20 years later, there’s not many people or almost no people talking about the basic concepts of that book. But the book is a bit of an embarrassment because it was never really meant to be a book, it was a collection of essays and yet there are still some copies of it floating around. And one of these days, hopefully, sooner than too late, I will revisit that and put that into the formal way that it should be presented so people could work with some of those concepts.
CB: Sure. And then a few years ago, you produced a video with the same title that was a long presentation that dealt with some of your philosophy of astrology, right?
RL: Exactly. And the whole idea of the shift from Newtonian to post Einsteinian or let’s say, the three-dimensional world of materialism to the postmodern idea of quantum physics where particles are a sometimes artifact of measuring a wave, this is really what informs my work as an astrologer. Whether I’m speaking about it, whether it looks like it’s on my mind, that is what informs everything I do as an astrologer.
CB: Right. I know you come back a lot to that particle wave distinction and some of the implications that scientists have drawn from it that are also relevant in some ways to this philosophy of astrology.
RL: Exactly, exactly. And I can talk for hours on that which [Rick laughs] we won’t now.
CB: Sure. One of the things I remember you and I talking about a lot back in the Kepler days when you’d come to the Kepler symposiums and you actually had the distinction of being the person that introduced the name Kepler College or suggested the name Kepler College and to name it after the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler in the early 1990s, right?
RL: Yeah, that is true. And it was just one of those moments I mean I’ve always been, people often say, “So, you’re an astrologer. Who are your teachers?” And my stock answer is, “I’m an astrologer in the lineage of Pythagoras and Kepler.” Now, what that means to me is really both of them were aware of what I call frequency vibrations or sound or the music of the spheres and Kepler to me was a bit of a transition point because from a modern scientific standpoint, Kepler represents the point at which science stepped into the realms previously reserved for the divine, and so that was the movement of human intellect into the divine proportion and as such, Kepler is considered to be the father or the grandfather of modern astronomy. And when Isaac Newton said, “I see so far because I stand on the shoulders of giants,” he was referring to, well, amongst others like Descartes, he was referring to Kepler. And so, Kepler was a key pivotal point and yet his entire life and biography have been whitewashed by the same academic tradition that would like to wipe the blot of the scourge of astrology out of history completely because it’s like this thing that won’t go away that says, wait a minute, maybe your paradigm does not cover everything.
CB: Right. I was reading an article that came out the other day about how they’re finally acknowledging that the Antikythera mechanism may have been used for astrology and I thought that was a great moment or admission that sometimes gets swept under the rug when it comes to things like that in terms of advancements or scientific advancements that were motivated by or connected with astrology or even famous astronomers/astrologers.
RL: Right, and Johannes Kepler’s laws of planetary motion which not only informed Newton’s ideas of gravity and his mechanics of velocity, acceleration and etc., but his laws of planetary mechanics are really the foundation for understanding all orbital mechanics and they were informed by his drive to know what’s going on because of his astrological orientation. I mean, there’s no question about that, and yet we are taught academically that Kepler was the first of the great modern scientists who realized that things could be mechanically understood and freed us from these ancient beliefs in astrology that were just based on superstition although I have to say that I like Deepak Chopra’s concept of that modern science suffers from its unwavering belief in the superstition of materialism.
CB: Speaking of materialism, before we move on to the main topic, one of the theories I always like and remember from talking with you is sometimes we’d have these debates about the mechanism underlying astrology and you always gave what I thought was one of the more plausible arguments for a causal mechanism underlying astrology that had to do with tones or sounds or frequencies of the planets.
RL: Well, yeah, I mean, I do believe a very, very short version of this, to me, there’s no question at all that what we see as particles planetary science sized huge particles are basically artifacts of extremely low frequency electromagnetic vibrations. That just like the color green is a wavelength and is a vibration at hundreds of millions of cycles as hundreds of trillions of cycles a second, Pluto is simply a vibration at four cycles per century. And so, the idea that there is some conveyance of vibratory function at the speed of light or maybe even instantaneously which obviously, the understanding of modern quantum physics that the speed of light may not be the limit that we once thought it was and that’s another topic for talking about some time. However, the point is that although I do believe that the low frequency electromagnetic waves that are created by all of these planets that act like step down transformers coils around the central filament of our Sun are basically cohering and rebroadcasting the energy in certain frequency ranges and that we as human beings are basically biological transceivers radios picking up on universal signals that are timed to a particular tuning that becomes part of our tuning for life and maybe forever.
CB: Sure, so that you’ve likened this to like a modern adaptation of the harmony of the spheres or the ancient concept of the harmony of the spheres I think, right?
RL: Yes, I do. And again, going back to both Pythagoras and Kepler, the idea of the music of the spheres is not an analogy. It’s not a metaphor. They actually create a hum that is so low frequency. We have no way of perceiving it other than through our cellular antennas somehow. However, I should tap this part of the conversation off that as much as a scientist as I like to think I am, I do understand ultimately exactly how astrology works. It’s magic. [Rick laughs]
CB: And what do you mean by magic?
RL: Good question. Arthur C. Clarke defined magic as anything that’s sufficiently advanced that we don’t understand what it is and maybe that’s it. But I don’t know that all of my quantum theorizing at the macro cosmic level, the particle wave duality and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and all these incredibly important things I think incredibly important to us as astrologers, I don’t think that they explain astrology. I am definitely an anti de Cartesian person in as much as I don’t think mathematical formulas will ever touch the mystery. They just get us like I see in those paradox closer and closer to the wall.
CB: Sure. But at least you’re definitely one of the people that’s very much interested in looking at the interface between some modern scientific understanding of the world and how sometimes that might relate to or help us to inform additional-
RL: Exactly. And Chris, we would be remiss if we didn’t in that same breath talking about modern scientific thought tie it to the revolution that occurred mid to late 20th century that brought out important physics, theoretical physics books like The Tao of Physics or The Dancing Wu Li Masters or other quantum physics books that touched upon the ancient spiritual, excuse me, traditions.
CB: Sure, sure. All right. Well, so let’s see. So that’s a good transition point to our main topic which is that so you start learning astrology or really getting into it in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Eventually, you transition to that as a full-time career. Did you ever at that point see yourself writing like a Sun sign column?
RL: Well, I was quick to say no, but in the late ‘70s, I wrote a weekly column for a weekly newspaper in Minneapolis for I don’t know maybe a year or two and so I was doing that then. But I always held a dual career being a Gemini rising in as much as through the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, even I had one hand in business technology, telecommunications, computer software. That was totally non-astrological. And for a few years in the mid-90s, I basically had all my astrology books and worked in boxes in a garage and questioned whether or not the mind was brilliant enough to make all this shit work and maybe it didn’t. So, I went through that period in the mid-90s. I’m sorry, that was in the early mid-80s because by the late ‘80s, it was back in my life and I couldn’t get rid of it. And it wasn’t until the late ‘90s that I stopped doing all the consulting work that I was doing in the area of organizational work in the natural food, alternative medicine environment, I was developing training courses for HEC AT&T I mean doing a lot of corporate level, big corporate consulting. And in the late ‘90s when Jeff and I decided to launch StarIQ, I basically fired all my clients and eliminated everything that was non-astrological in order to devote myself to astrology.
CB: Right, so we get to the mid to late ‘90s and that the dot-com bubble is starting to form and the internet’s like taking off and people are launching businesses.
RL: And I’m making people a lot of money at that time doing consulting work for large corporations, helping them figure out how to position themselves in this wild west of a frontier that people didn’t even know what it was. And it reached the point where I just couldn’t go on doing this for another company, I had to step into it myself. And yes, Jeff and I rode the dot-com dot-bomb from 1999. And by 2001, we had 17 full-time employees and we were well on our way to becoming Jupiter if not a solar Sun and then everything unraveled very quickly and StarIQ basically should have been closed, but we just moved it back into our living rooms and kept it going but as a faint shadow of what its original intentions were. And I should say that the concepts that it was built on, no one is ever quite done and yet I’ve lost interest. I’ve moved on.
CB: What were those concepts?
RL: If I tell you, I’d have to kill you. [Chris laughs]
CB: Okay. Well, we need to back up for a minute maybe, how did you and Jeff start? I mean, obviously, you jumped on an opportunity, but is he somebody you’d worked with already in the past or?
RL: Well, I’d known Jeff for years this being a small community and Jeff and I had a good communication, nice affinity. He’s the Astro twin, same day, same year as my older brother who’s also a Taurus, but Jeff is a full Moon Scorpio and my brother was born the following day with his Moon in Sagittarius. So, Jeff and I had a very dear relationship and I think it was the fall of 1998, I was chairing one of these conferences that was like a $5,000 for a two-day conference that was limited to 20 companies. I was put on by these very high-level special interest corporate conference groups and the title of the conference was dietary supplements on the internet, and I was paid and charged with putting together a two-day program, inviting the people and turning it over to this company who then basically made the whole thing happen. And that was in San Diego and Jeff had just moved to San Diego with his family to become Vice President for ACS book publishing. Yes. And I tagged an extra day or two onto my San Diego conference to hang out with Jeff and his lovely family. And I got to Jeff’s house and it was a nice apartment in San Diego and I got to his door, knocked on his door, he opened it up and I went the cursory hug, how are you? I’m great. How is San Diego? He said, “I love it.” I said, “How’s your job at ACS?” He goes, “I hate it. Books are so old. I want to do something on the internet and I have an idea.” And he said, “Now, I want to talk to you about it because you’re the internet guy.” And I said, “Well, I’ve been thinking about this too and here’s my idea.” And I told him what the idea was. Then he said, “Here’s my idea.” And I said, “Well, these work really well together.” And we just both said, “Let’s do it.” Then I said, 50-50? He said, 50-50. We shook hands and I hadn’t even walked into his house. And that basically became this idea and that was in October.
Then we kicked stuff around and we thought about it, but it was the following March of ‘99 when I was at the big Natural Products Expo which I attend every year in Anaheim, and this is like the largest of the industry-oriented shows in the alternative medicine, natural products, dietary supplements world which I’ve been active in. And at that, I was having lunch with a longtime friend and she said, “So, what’s been going on?” And I said, “Well, this is what’s been going on and here’s what I’m thinking about.” And I told her the story of what Jeff and I were working on and she said, “Wow, why aren’t you doing this?” I said, “Well, because in order to do it right when we were working on it, but it can’t be done half assed and it really needs a major commitment and it’s going to take six months to write a real business plan to raise the million bucks that we’re going to need to really pull this off.” Anyhow, by the end of the meal, she said, “You have to do this.” She said, “How much would it take to get started?” I said, “Well, I don’t know. If I had $50,000, that would be at least enough for me to confidently fire all my current clients and get into the game.” And she said, 50,000 bucks. She was like, “We could go raise that like in 10 minutes out on the show floor.” I said, “Give me a break. Come on, that’s crazy.” She said, “Rick, we could find five or 10 people who would throw in 10,000 bucks on an idea of yours.” I said, “But I haven’t done anything.” She goes, “They know you.” And as she’s talking, she’s taking out a checkbook and writing me a check for $10,000. But at that time, this was the expansive phase and especially in the health food natural food industry, people were making a lot of money. By the end of the day, I had $130,000 committed.
CB: Wow. Yeah, so people are going crazy in terms of funding startups and different-
RL: Yeah. No, no, because people had money and this was a real thing. And that was in March-April. By May-June, Jeff quit his job and moved his family up to Seattle. We thought we could do it by locational, but we realized that we really needed to be here. And so, my dear friend, longtime partner, and dear editor, Gail Goldberg, also moved to Seattle that same summer and the three of us basically launched StarIQ in the summer of ‘99. But the problem was that the whole bubble just basically disintegrated before we ever turned the corner of, I mean, we had established a foothold and yet it was really just first base compared to what we were trying to do and so we really never got to pull it off.
CB: Sure. But it was at the point where because you had to write start writing columns for that site, right?
RL: Well, we had about 75. We were publishing 40 to 50 new articles a month. This is the machine that we had going. We were publishing a weekly column by Ray Merriman, but we were also publishing a daily column by Ray. I mean, just the logistics of managing a five day a week market update. And so, we had an editorial staff and a graphics department and we were just a publishing machine at that time and anything that came into the news immediately was handed off to one of our writers. We developed a formula. We hired one of Llewellyn’s top production editors. And so, the whole thing was that at that time, it wasn’t about me writing. I didn’t have the luxury of having time to write. I was spending my time meeting with attorneys and accountants and managing the mechanics of an empire that we were creating. That basically disintegrated within a few weeks when Microsoft stock tumbled by over 50% and there were major closures of major businesses including NBCS, NBCI which was their internet company and excite.com and home.com and so on and basically, all the money just dried up and we were still running toward first base.
CB: Right. So, the dot-com bubble burst by 2001 and that falls apart. So where does your focus shift after that?
RL: Well, what actually happened was I went through a very I mean… Okay, so bringing this back to astrology, my Ascendant is 15° Gemini and that was a Pluto Saturn opposition at 15 Sag 15 Gemini. And September 11, 2001 was a bad day for a lot of people but for me, it was just an external confirmation of my internal archetypal process. So, what happened was that by the time that Saturn retrograde Saturn was on my Ascendant conjunct my Ascendant on September 10, 2011 was the exact conjunction. So, by the following spring or actually late winter, Saturn was retrograding back over my Ascendant. And in honor of giving Saturn some stuff, I resigned from Kepler College just trying to focus my energy and pull in and I began writing a daily column. There was a couple of people in my life who had been trying to get me to write a daily column for years. In fact, one particular person said, “You need to write a daily column and my goal is to get your daily column on the LA Times to replace Sydney Omarr and at that point in time just would laugh. By the way, my daily column is now carried on latimes.com on their internet site.
But what happened was when Saturn retrograded over my Ascendant, I was broke, no source of income, I had fired all my clients both astrological and non-astrological and I went to a company who we’d been working with a company called beliefnet.com out of New York and I went to their president CEO by phone because we had a working relationship and I said, “I’m going to be writing a daily column. Is this something that you would be interested in?” And he said, “Yes, we have no cash, but we’d be glad to distribute it. We’re looking at getting into newsletters.” Then I said, “No problem. I’d be glad to supply it at no cost to you as long as I get to put a link in it and get to drive people back because I need clients so I can stay alive. And almost overnight, I began to get a client trade from that. So, I began writing this daily column in a few days the Aquarius New Moon in 2002.
CB: After what new Moon?
RL: The Aquarius New Moon, mid-February.
CB: Okay. So, early 2002, you start writing it for Beliefnet and when-
RL: And that was Saturn retrograde conjunct my Ascendant. So, when Saturn turned direct and conjuncted my Ascendant in May of 2002, it was conjunct Venus in the sky as they together conjuncted my Ascendant or conjoined my Ascendant. And I got a phone call from tarot.com from a guy who I’d known through StarIQ for a while Paul O’Brien who is the proprietor owner founder of tarot.com and this woman who had been trying to get me to write dailies had gotten to work for Paul and he said, “We’re moving into astrology and we’ve been watching your column. We really, really like it and I’d like to offer you $1,000 a month for your column on an exclusive basis.” And that $1,000 a month was a lot of money to me in that moment. And one of the toughest things that I ever did was I said, “I would love to say yes but I can’t because I can’t give you an exclusive because I’ve only been writing this a few months and although I really need the money and I really would like to say yes, I don’t know what the column is worth and it just wouldn’t be fair of me to say yes.” And without missing a beat, they said, “Okay, $1,000 a month on an exclusive basis.” And I said, “Okay.” So that was basically in May of 2002 was the first that I began getting paid for my column which I’ve now written seven days a week for a half of the Saturn cycle because Saturn was in Gemini then and it’s now in Sagittarius.
CB: Right, so 14 years now.
RL: And the readership on that is difficult to know exactly what it is. Tarot.com has a subscriber list that they send out the Sun sign too as part of their advertising promotion program and they have several million people. That list varies, but they have several million people on their daily list. And plus, it’s also right now and this varies month to month, season to season, but right now, my daily column is carried on AOL, MySpace, Yahoo, Huffington Post, LA Times. There are other places, but those are the ones that come to mind. And so yeah, the readership is certainly in the millions.
CB: Yeah, I mean, because you were able to get that. It was on that non-exclusive basis, you were able to have it.
RL: And Beliefnet still carries them in the… You can go to Beliefnet and sign up for their astrology daily. They have other astrology writers now which I think is great, but my daily column is still the backbone of one of their newsletters.
CB: Yeah. And I think AOL is still huge in terms of its distribution. I remember sitting in a bagel shop one day a couple of years ago and I looked up and your column is being played on the television. They’re just showing the daily horoscopes for the day and then your name is like right below it. So, I know it just has huge distribution and you must be one of the bigger names in terms of horoscope column writers at this point.
RL: Yeah, yeah, I assume so. And here’s the weird thing. The weird thing is that I look at those and it’s exciting. I’m a medium size fish in a small pond and I’ve had some fame and fortune out of it, but I look at that and it’s not me. I mean, I just show up and write my damn thing. If I think about who reads it or where it goes… I’m often surprised at the feedback that I get going into a coffee shop in a rural town in Hawaii and you have someone coming over going, “Oh, my God, you’re Rick. Look at this.” It’s like weird. It’s just weird. It’s like, “No, I’m not that person. It just looks like me and those are my words.” Yeah, it’s strange.
CB: Sure. So, let’s talk about some of the different types of columns that you do. I mean, it breaks down, primarily, I guess, into three different types at this point whether there’s yearlies and monthlies or dailies, right?
RL: I actually do a monthly YouTube video, but I do a daily audio podcast just myself, Jeff and I did them together for years and I write a daily column and the daily column has a general overview for the day and then it has 12 sign interpretations.
CB: Okay. So, there’s general astrological major configurations for the day in each individual Sun sign?
RL: Exactly, exactly. And the overview for the day, I actually use a bit more. Today is Tuesday, June 21st, I wrote we are finally graced with a day of integration on this first full day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Our focus turns to home and family for emotional security during the Sun’s month-long visit to the sign of the hard-shelled crab. Retreating from the outer world gives us plenty of time to nurture ourselves and those we love. Although a lunar connection with jovial Jupiter brings joy, an afternoon Moon Pluto hook up agitates our passions. Now, that’s a very typical daily overview in which there is some astrology, but if someone really looked at the astrology, they would be able to isolate nearly every word in that as being informed by the astrologer. I’m really boring when it comes that way. I mean, there are times when I’ll go off and riff about something on my own. But from a writing standpoint, the problem is that today, June 21st doesn’t have a whole lot going on, you know? And so, that gives me a, more room to what I call riff but b, it makes it tougher because I have to make shit up. And yes, there is a Moon trine Jupiter and a Moon conjunct Pluto. And with dailies, it’s the Moon as you know that moves the quickest that makes the difference of a tone of a day. On the other hand, that does not take away from the fact that Mercury is still in range of opposing Saturn squaring Neptune and that whole thing. It doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re just coming off of a full Moon and it doesn’t take away from the fact that Mercury is not done with this grand square yet because by tomorrow, June 22nd it will square Jupiter on the other side.
So, the trick with dailies, and I view dailies as when someone asks me, “What do you do for a living?” I sometimes tell them I create Tibetan sand paintings because a sand painting can take hours and hours and hours days to create and then it’s gone. And the problem with what I do which is a bit of poetic justice for a four planet and north node person in Aries with Gemini rising is what I do doesn’t last. It’s ephemeral. It comes and it goes. And so, from that standpoint, a Moon conjunct Pluto might be the most important thing that I have today whereas tomorrow, I might be able to really dig into the fact that Mercury is squaring the nodes or something a little bit more juicy. And then the Moon shift, I always talk about the Moon shift. So that’s the overview. And that in itself is a very tight form that overview has to be 450 to 455 characters.
CB: Right, that’s like the original Twitter in some sense for-
RL: It was the original Google database. For years, Google had it on their Google page feed for years. They’ve since abandoned that, but it’s 440 to 450 characters.
CB: Okay, got it. So, yeah. And so, there’s elements in there in the one that you just read of obviously like poetic descriptions of what is sometimes like technical jargon and how to present that to the general public. Was there a learning curve there in terms of-?
RL: Yes, there was and I’ll come back to that in just a second because it’s an interesting little story, but one of my favorite things to do as a teacher and when I do my long form courses like leading retreats in Bali or Mexico or India as I will be next January, we’ll talk more about that in a bit, I love having a class or a group of students where there are some practicing professionals, some longtime serious students, and some people who barely know their sign. I love that mix because I like being able to talk in a way where I can use the language that satisfies those that know the language of astrology and yet for those who don’t, it becomes a bit of a learning tool. For example, whenever I use a planet name or I would say 85% of the time total arbitrary statistic, I would say that almost all of the time when I use a planet, I will use an adjective. Tomorrow I’ll say our thoughts run like the wind as cerebral Mercury increases the speed at which our brain makes connections today. So, as I use the word Mercury always associating it by an adjective, it helps people begin to paint pictures. So, when they hear the planet, they make the associations themselves. If they read this enough, they know that Mercury is mental Mercury, messenger Mercury, cerebral Mercury, trickster Mercury, mischievous Mercury, whatever.
CB: Right. And that becomes a really important point in terms of what you’re doing with the column and the effect it’s probably having on your readership and the general population is that you’re actually subversively in some sense teaching people-
RL: Exactly, exactly. And for like tomorrow, June 22nd without reading the whole thing, I’ve used the word cerebral Mercury, the steady Capricorn Moon, the karmic lunar nodes, and the unconventional Aquarius. Now, that’s a lot of astrology to stick into a short paragraph and my editor is constantly on me to make sure that I don’t use too much astrology. Now, when I get into the signs, for days at a time, I will not even use an astrology word in the individual signs. Now, some days I do.
CB: What do you mean by that?
RL: Well, in other words, today, June 21st for Scorpio, it says your unwavering integrity is like a bright beacon that shines for all those who know you well. Your closest friends appreciate how seriously you listen to their problems and the wisdom you share. Although you may often be the rock of stability in someone else’s life, sometimes you’re the one who needs a shoulder to lean on. Don’t hide from those you love. Show your strength by revealing your truth even if you’re not perfect. Psychologist Brené Brown says, “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” Now, that was a description of what I described in the overview, but there was never one mention of a planet there. Now, some days, I will mention a planet or a sign or an aspect or on the new Moon and full Moon, I always say what sign and what house and then we’ll get into the house thing in a moment, but I always, always, always mention that in each and every sign. So, if there’s a full Moon and you’re reading a particular sign without reading the overview like yesterday just sticking with Scorpio. In the middle it says fortunately, you can use the uplifting Sagittarius full Moon to boost your energy in your second house of self-worth.
So, I always refer to certain events in every sign, but often, I will not use any astrology jargon in the actual readings by sign themselves because it just puts people off. But if you were an astrologer and read your daily horoscope, for years I used to get comments from Melanie Reinhardt who as we know was a wonderful astrologer and she loved reading my column because she read it and she could tell what was going on without me saying it. Now, just today I was on the phone with my editor and she read something. She goes, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m assuming it’s 6th house because you said this, this, this and this.” So, from that standpoint, I’m rather boring with the strict interpretation. And I do get a lot of people who say that they read my column to learn astrology so that to me, an accomplishment.
CB: And I mean, that’s probably one of your main responses to astrologers who are critical of Sun sign astrology, right, is that it’s the interface point between the astrological community and the general public.
RL: That is one of my points, yes. Certainly, there is a much wider audience of people who read a horoscope occasionally than those who are studying astrology or using professional astrology consultations in their life regularly. And from that standpoint, my job is to whet that whistle, to prime that pump, to intrigue people that shit I don’t know how he does it, but they always seem to be right on. There must be something to this. That’s what I want to do. Now, having said that, and that is certainly a rationalization, the other rationalization is a bit more esoteric and there’s a third thing too. Let me go to the third thing and back to the second not that anyone would notice that I’m doing that. The third thing is that if I didn’t write these columns, someone else would and they wouldn’t do it in a serious way that wasn’t to… My column is almost never predictive in the formality of what will occur. I’m always describing an energy and what might happen if you’re not paying attention and almost always what could happen if you interfered in some way with your natural tendency. I mean, that’s my goal. And again, I’m blessed to have an editor who basically says, “You just ended Scorpio on a negative thing, what are they going to do with it? You’ve told them don’t do this and this is going to…” And so, from that standpoint, one of my rationalizations for writing this is so many people read it, it’s better that they get something that is at least deeply and spiritually coming from a healthy place and maybe even feeding them with some good astrology along the way than if someone on an editorial staff is just making this shit up. That’s the third reason. Coming back to the second reason is that these are forms of divination. People read into them just like using the chain. And this is not taking anything away from the magic or the synchronicity of separating the arrow sticks or throwing the dice or choosing tarot cards. There’s something that happens at that moment of divination. And in some ways, daily horoscopes are like Chinese fortune cookies. I always tell people you read your sign, if it doesn’t make any sense, just toss it. Now, if it makes sense, hold on to it. If it’s something that really hits home, use it as a meditation. If it doesn’t make sense, read another one. People say, “Should I read my Ascendant?” Sure, because I do work with solar houses. But if that doesn’t make sense, read another one or don’t read them at all. They’re just pieces of thought forms.
CB: Sure. I like that idea on the one hand of it that it’s something to meditate on in terms of your day, or your month, or what have you, but also the idea of divination that different people are going to get different things from it. And sometimes, the right person is going to connect with or pick up that happened to pick up or come across your column on the right day and that there’s something unique or could be special about that in a sense.
RL: I don’t have this in front of me, but on one day, and this was like one of the best days ever, on one day, I got two emails both of them from self-identified Cancerians and one of them said, “Dear Rick, I’ve been reading your column for years. I love it because you always treat Cancer with such a great level of sensitivity and it always gives me somewhere to go and thank you so much for what you offer.” And the very same day, I got an email from another Cancerian that said, “Dear Rick, you finally done it. I’m never reading your column again. I can’t believe how you always pick the worst attributes of Cancer and that’s all you can think about. It’s always so negative. By the time I’m done reading my Cancer horoscopes from you, I feel like I want to kill myself.” Now I know I’m doing something right.
CB: Sure. So, I guess that’s a good illustration that there’s a broad you’re speaking to sort of-
RL: Yeah. I got an email a couple days ago that just came in. I haven’t responded. I may not respond. I don’t know. That’s a whole issue in itself. But this email from someone I don’t know, there’s no direct, there’s no anything. The email just says, “You really are a jerk!!!! You write the nastiest things for Pisces all the time. If everything suddenly seemed perfect, you said, rest assured it’s not. Nevertheless, don’t go digging for trouble because you’ll surely find it. So optimistic. Was your wife a Pisces who kicked your old ass to the curb?” And that was it.
CB: Yeah, that was going to be one of my later questions of do you get weird to fan mail and what is it like interacting with a broader audience?
RL: Sometimes I choose not to. I do have a Cancer Moon and I have been known to put on my Harry Potter invisibility cloak.
CB: Sure. Yeah. I mean, that’s a distinct point though in terms of there’s probably different people that have like different synastry with you or have different ways in which their own birth charts and their own Sun signs or rising signs are configured in different ways that are going to react to general delineations with that sign or to your column in general much differently from person to person.
RL: Absolutely, yeah, yeah. And that particular quote was something I wrote, don’t go digging for trouble because you’ll surely find it. But then I don’t remember where it went, but it said… It was the exact day of the Saturn square Neptune which is like a few days ago, week ago. I’m not the person who is going to write there are some Sun sign writers who people say I love this person because she always writes stuff so positive. And if you’re a Pisces and Saturn squaring Neptune and I don’t remember what else was going on, the Moon was in jam I don’t remember, but it’s not necessarily going to be easy unless you work with the energy.
CB: Sure. But you’re always careful to frame it with those sorts of conditional if then statements.
RL: So, and obviously, not always and there are days. I mean, look, you do something every day, it become…. I mean, I just like every other human go through periods of optimism and periods of total Saturnian sobriety, depression, whatever, and how can that not come through if you’re writing every day?
CB: Right, especially since in some way you’re feeling what the times are themselves as you’re doing it and having your own transits? And I guess that actually brings up an additional point or question which is how far ahead was your process like in terms of how far ahead do you-
RL: I don’t want to talk about it. No, I do. My publisher tarot.com would like me to be at least a month ahead. My editor would like me to be that or further ahead. I would like to be that far ahead. They have to be because my column is translated into Italian and Spanish. They have to be for translations two weeks ahead and I’m usually bumping up against that two-week thing. So, for example, we submitted today the column for July 5th which I think is just at the two-week mark.
CB: Okay. And prior to that when you and Jeff for eight years did the yearly astrology guide for Barnes & Noble, how far ahead were you writing those?
RL: Those we were writing a year in advance. Those we were writing, yeah, the summer of the calendar year prior to the year that was coming up. So, those are major productions that had a lot of people involved. Yeah. And I’ve often said that there are people who are dyslexic. I suffer from [unintelligible 01:01:50:16] is I know where I am, I know the positional relationship of things, I just don’t know when I am. Because I’d be writing a book for a year and a half in advance, I’d be doing a monthly for three or four months in advance, I’d be doing a podcast for a week in advance, I’d be writing a daily for three weeks in advance, and I’d be seeing a client who is having transits today. What the hell? Where am I? I don’t know. But as a practice, it really makes one understand that time is a lot more fluid. We think of time in its Kronos Saturn form, but there is a whole Kronos centricity to time that basically… I mean, I discovered many years ago that I will often experience a Mercury Retrograde the day I write about it rather than the day it occurs.
CB: Yeah, because literally you’re trying to understand that transit. You’re tapping into it-
RL: You’re tapping into it. I’ve said many times in many different ways that we astrologers in the true sense of the word magi, the magic that we do we alter the time space continuum. That’s what we do. We bend the fabric of time and space.
CB: Right, and look into it much further and much sooner than usually most people are-
RL: Well, we look into it much sooner, but we also look back and look at it retrospectively very different. We tune the spectrum of time in a way that makes us realize that now is all there is and a figment of our imagination both, a good Zen koan moment.
CB: Makes me think that in some ways, astrologers get closer to experiencing that thing that sometimes people talk about in terms of the possibility of time being the fourth dimension that humans don’t usually access or experience in a very limited fashion, but astrologers-
RL: No, absolutely. And that in itself is a conversation for a panel discussion or a deeper discussion. Chris, I do want to come back to one thing that I left on the table that I said that I would say. You asked me about how things have changed and certainly, my style has deepened and changed over the years. But when I first began writing my very first column, I sat down to write it and I realized that I didn’t have a clue as to how to proceed. I had no point of view. I had no reference to writing because I’d never written it before.
CB: Right. There’s not many guides. I’ve been surprised there’s no many guides on how to write a Sun sign column out there.
RL: Well, I picked two [unintelligible 01:04:53:20] I sat down to write and I remember the moment, I remember the actual thoughts that I had and I said, I need some guides and I said, I’m going to conjure up. I need style. I need to have something that is poetic and is stylish that people will read and Rob Brezsny I think in some ways is the king of poetics when it comes to horoscope columns. Now he’s the first to admit that although he is a very competent astrologer, for him, his columns are a poetic form and he does it brilliantly. I didn’t want to be Rob Brezsny. I respect what he does. So, I said Rob Brezsny will be in my left ear as the voice of style, but I also need this to be real. Let’s see. Who can I conjure up that maybe isn’t as long on style, but is real astrology? And that became Rob Hand. I told Rob the story. And so, when I sat down to write for these first few weeks, every day, I would sit there and I would actually incant Rob and Rob. But after about a week or two, I realized that I wasn’t packing the punch I wanted to and so I added two more people to my muse or guide list. And in my left ear along with Rob Brezsny, I put the person in the English language who I would consider to be the absolute champion of metaphor, a person who can write a six-word sentence with seven metaphors and somehow make them all work and that would be Tom Robbins. And I think that anyone who writes should read a book or two by Tom Robbins just to understand how the language can be pulled way beyond its normal capability. But I put Tom Robbins who wrote Jitterbug Perfume and Skinny Legs at All and Still Life with Woodpecker and so on, I put him in the Rob Brezsny ear, but then I needed someone who had metaphor and the ability to pack a poetic punch in a way that’s more substantial in the Rob Hand ear and so I went directly to the king of aphorism Friedrich Nietzsche. And so, for about the first six, eight months, a year, I would sit down and I would call up Robin Tom and Robin Fred. Because there has to be a poetic side, there has to be a side that sometimes make someone smile, there has to be that piece to it. But if it loses its connection with the real stuff in Nietzsche’s case the Zeit gay stuff of the seriousness of his times or his life and a Rob’s sense of what astrology really is, if it loses that, it might just as well just be a daily poetry reading. Anyhow, so that just cleaning up coming back to that question.
CB: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and I can see all of those elements in that excerpt that you read earlier for today’s column just in terms of the poetic description of technical things that are actually happening in the sky. So, in terms of technical approach and in terms of what techniques or how you actually do it from an astrological standpoint, what are some of the techniques that you use for writing a horoscope column?
RL: Okay. So, what I do is pretty straightforward and Jeff used to say that I was such an Aries because I needed my tools sharpened and exactly right in a right way. When I write, I can’t just sit down. I remember Nick Campion once telling me that when he wrote daily columns that he would turn on Bob Dylan blast it and just work. I need absolute silence. I can’t have any noise, any music, any talking, I need silence. I have a list of transits that I’ve generate, I do this for a year at a time, out of Solar Fire with particular transits that I want including not only the traditional aspects, but including the fifth, seventh and eighth harmonics. So, my list includes quintiles and septiles and semi sesqui squares.
CB: That’s really useful especially if you’re looking for aspects or things that are going on a day where there’s not like a major outer planet alignment or something like that.
RL: Yeah, that would be one way to look at it. The other way to look at it and I might differ here from many astrologers that if there’s a Venus quintile Jupiter, that is a major planetary alignment. But regardless, that’s just a matter of perspective because I’m one of those people who believe from my experience that what we call minor aspects, I would no sooner do a chart without septiles than I would without squares. Let me just say that. I couldn’t even conceive of it. But then again, as you know with astrology, there are many techniques and we use the ones that resonate to us and part of the magic is that they all work if they resonate to you. I mean, I’ve seen people, I know you have too who use techniques that work for them and you look at it and you just go, “Ha-ha, how does that work?” Doesn’t matter, it works, anyhow.
CB: Sure. Yeah. And I didn’t mean to downplay the-
RL: And I know you didn’t, it’s just basically something that I’m obliged to say whenever anyone responds that way. It’s just me. So, I have this list of all these aspects and then I export that from Solar Fire into Word and in Word, I run macros on it that color code them so that on any day, I can see my lunar transits highlighted in yellow, my major outer transits highlighted in green, a sign ingress in blue. It’s just a visual way of being able to look at it and getting a quick zap on the day. Then typically, when I actually get to write that day, I will then delete the lines of the ones that I don’t want to pay attention to. Often, the quintiles or septiles are just noisy. If there’s a bunch of semi squares that happened at 3:00 in the morning, I use New York time, I might eliminate them because it’s not going to be the energy that will last during the day. So now I have a Word file that has three or five or eight or 10 aspects in front of me. I then use Solar Fire and I use their animation wheel that I set up for that day with whole sign houses. And what I’ve done is I’ve developed a way, I update this once every two or three weeks and I run these for New York time Eastern Daylight now time, but I put in a longitude that will give me 0° Aries rising at 12:00 a.m. It’s easy to do, you know? I just move around until I find that point where the Aries point is rising on that day which will then last me all month because I’m not mapping the Ascendant as a point. I don’t care about that in my dailies. But what that allows me to do is it allows me in the animation routine to call up my template for the month that I alter once every two or three weeks, but I call up the template for that day at 12:00 a.m. and it shows the chart for 12:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time with Aries rising so I have a natural chart to look at that I then used to write my overview.
CB: Okay. So, looking at the natural chart with Aries rising for the overview.
RL: Exactly. And then I write it Aries which I try to differentiate a little bit from the overview. Then using the animation, I can advance it one hour at a time. And depending upon season and time of day, it usually takes two clicks to advance from Aries to Taurus but certain times a year, it moves faster and it only takes one.
CB: So, then you’ll switch it to the next sign.
RL: I’ll switch it. So, now I’m looking at a chart for roughly 2:00 a.m. which has Taurus rising. And as I look at it, I now can see the Moon in the solar house of Taurus and I can see all the planets formed. And to me, solar houses are actually whole sign houses. Well, here they’re the same. But by using whole sign houses based upon the Sun sign solar houses, what I’m looking at basically is aspects to the Sun because this is another conversation we could have. As a Keplerian, I believe that almost all astrology is an artifact of harmonics and angles and basically, what we delineate as signs and aspects and houses are basically artifacts of aspects.
CB: Sure, everything is derived from aspects and that was part of Rudhyar’s philosophical model partially as well, right?
RL: Partially, yes. And so, from that standpoint, I lean on solar houses or whole sign houses based upon the Sun sign and as much as I look at those whole sign houses, I’m also thinking of something else. As an example, just looking at… Okay, we got today’s chart for, let’s see where we have Taurus coming up. There we go. So, we look at today’s chart for June 21st and we have the Moon in Capricorn going into Aquarius later today or tomorrow. And so, for a Taurus, that Moon in Capricorn is going to be in the 9th house.
CB: Okay, so you’re turning the chart so that the Sun sign becomes like the first house. So, this is called derivative houses or derivative whole sign houses from the Sun.
RL: From the Sun sign. Yes, it’s actually solar houses.
CB: Right. Yeah, that was the name. And that’s actually brings up a really interesting point because I’ve been recently working on house division and pointing out and there’s been previous podcast talking about James Holden discovering whole sign houses or rediscovering that as a major form of house division in that paper published in 1984. But in reality, I mean Sun sign astrologers in the West have been using the whole sign houses relative to the Sun for decades now.
RL: Exactly, exactly. But here’s where I was going with this. And that is that when I then flip it to Gemini, that Capricorn Moon moves to the 8th house. All right. Now, here’s the issue. The Moon in the 8th house conjures up a whole set of issues. But to me, it’s more important that a fragmented, versatile, adaptable Gemini is going to react differently to a Capricorn Moon conjunct in Pluto than a Taurus will, and we’re just talking archetypes here.
CB: So, you’re always interpreting everything relative to almost like the personality or the signature to-
RL: That’s right, to the archetype of the Sun sign or of that particular sign. Yeah. So, that’s really one of the things that I do. And then the other thing is that I’m looking at a chart so I’m seeing that today, we also have Mars quincunx Uranus. Well, that’s going to be regardless of what sign and what houses they’re in, a Mars quincunx Uranus is going to be easier for a Gemini to handle than it is for a Taurus to handle. Yeah, just because the instability of a Mars Uranus quincunx might freak the hell out of a Taurus where a Gemini might go cool, let’s jump.
CB: Sure, interesting. So, all of the delineations can be altered in that way just by thinking about how that individual Sun sign is going to react differently compared to another one.
RL: And this may be why, let me just say before I say this may be why and then there’s a fourth thing that I use and this is something that someone told me early on and when you read my column, you will get this or if someone reads my column, they will see this. And that is that when I’m writing about Scorpio, you’re always going to find something in that column that is archetypally Scorpionic. So that in other words, even though we’re looking at transits, the fact is that it doesn’t matter what the transits are. If you’re a Gemini, you’re still a Gemini.
CB: Sure. So, you’re always looking through that lens almost like a-
RL: Yeah, so the Gemini is always going to be a little bit…. I’m just looking at Cancer. I don’t even know what day this is that I’m looking at. June 20th, it doesn’t matter. And my opening line to Cancer is you may be clinging to old patterns at work yet the planets are calling you to break out of your shell and to move boldly into your future. Okay, so this was the full Moon in the 6th house. But it’s still the Cancer word clinging is going to be familiar on some level clinging to old patterns to the Cancerian archetype. So that’s basically it’s not a formula, but I’m using solar houses, I’m using the archetype of the signs, I’m using the predominant aspects of the day to each other the transiting aspects, and then I’m using something that is archetypally going back to the Sun sign. And I actually approach this in some ways less rationally meaning that in one sign, I might stick to the Moon in the house and in another sign, I just might get a bug up my butt about the aspect or some aspect. And then we come to these three aspects which aspect you’re using. In 100 words, you cannot cover Venus conjunct in Saturn, Mars quincunx in Uranus, and the Moon trine in Jupiter. You got to pick something.
CB: Right, something to focus on each day.
RL: And so, from that standpoint, there is a bit of arbitrariness that is non-formulaic.
CB: Sure. There’s some human element on some level where it’s not just some computer that’s churning these out every day, it’s somebody that’s really tuning into and getting a sense for what the energies are both globally for everybody on this specific day, but then trying to look at it through each individual lens and getting a sense for which one is going to stand or which signature is going to stand out more on a given day in some sense?
RL: Yeah, exactly. So theoretically, for a Scorpio, if there’s something conjunct in Mars or Pluto, that might be more of a focus than on that same day when the Moon is opposing Venus that that might be more important for the Taurus or Libra. Now I’m not saying that it is because I totally don’t believe in a lot of the old laws and rules both old and new that people just assume. In astrology, if you see it in a chart three times, you assume that it’s a law which is just plain stupid in the real world, but we get to do that. And so, there’s a lot of techniques that I use. Quite honestly, I don’t know how valid they are, but it doesn’t stop me from using them.
CB: Sure, I mean, there’s something that you found to be effective with respect to them or at least to speak to your readers or your clients.
RL: Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, who knows? Part of the magic, part of the magic.
CB: Okay. And so, you’re looking at derivative houses from the Sun, you’re looking at transits and especially transits through the solar houses. Are you focusing on other things like retrograde stations I assume-?
RL: Yeah. Well, any station. Actually, I should say stations are more huge when they’re the faster moving planets. I like a Johannes Kepler thing that he wrote that I paraphrase and he said that the reason why and this is not what he wrote, you’ll see that he didn’t write this, the reason why Mercury retrograde is more noticeable than a Saturn retrograde is that if you’re driving in a car, obviously, he didn’t say this, if you’re driving in a car going 60 miles an hour and you slam on the brake and throw it into reverse, that’s more noticeable than if you’re walking a quarter of a mile an hour and then stop and go into reverse. That the change in velocity, the speed at which the momentum or the acceleration shifts with the faster moving planets is more noticeable. Now, homeopathically, it may be the slower ones have a deeper more lasting and more resonant impact, but I tend not to pay a whole lot of attention in my dailies to outer planet stations. I may note them and I may even mention them, but any retrograde Mercury, Venus, Mars certainly becomes the flavor of the horoscopes for days or weeks.
CB: How do you avoid repeating yourself in some sense when it comes to-
RL: Well, I don’t. I don’t. And one of the things that my editor does an amazing job at and she’s a Mars in Virgo, she says, “Well, wait a minute, you said this a couple weeks ago almost the same sentence I think in the same sign, just a minute.” And she goes looking in the database and goes, “Yep, yep. It was almost the same words. You can’t do that.” And I hate that. [Rick and Chris laugh] And one of your questions in the outline notes for today was how do you prevent yourself from saying the same thing? I don’t. And in fact, there are times when I would like to go back and plagiarize myself because I said something so awesome or awesomely and yet readers somehow retain stuff, they would know that. And so, it’s a constant effort to make this look new, feel new. And quite honestly, what used to take me an hour to an hour and a half to write, now sometimes it takes me three or four hours to write my 1,100 words. I mean, it’s a full-time job. I mean, it commands my day.
CB: It’s always funny seeing you at conferences because at some point, we’re always at conferences partying and then at some point in the night, you always call it quits and say, “I’ve got to go write the column.” Or at least that’s the way it used to be.
RL: No, it’s the way it still is. And as much as I love the position that I hold for astrology as one of them, not certainly not the others. There are a lot of good Sun sign writers out there. I mean, we lost a gem in Jonathan Cainer recently, you know? Jonathan had a knack and he was like a Linda Goodman in the amount of people that he was able to bring into astrology. There are a lot of Sun sign type writers. Eric Francis has a very specialized approach which reaches a huge audience with his consistent work and I think Eric does a good job of dancing between being a total technical geek and a generalized Sun sign writer, both. There are many other people who do it and I see more and more good Sun sign astrology and I think it’s really important because it’s not that Sun sign astrology with a capital I. You know what it is, Sun sign astrology. I know there was a topic on one of the groups recently that I contributed to that Sun sign astrology is like a bodhisattva. The bodhisattva is the carnival barker. The bodhisattva says, “You know what? I ain’t enlightened, but I’m a smooth enough talker that I’m going to get you to come in and see this sideshow because it’ll blow your mind.”
CB: True. So, I guess I’ve said it in the past, it becomes like the gateway in some sense.
RL: I love it, yeah. No, I love the idea of being a marijuana dealer.
CB: Right, that was the state-
RL: I can say that now legally, you know? We both can. You’re in Colorado, I’m in Washington. But it’s true because people see that not everyone but people who read their column begin to realize you know what? Cancer really is different from Sagittarius, huh?
CB: Yeah. I mean, that’s the one of the most important points for me when this debate sometimes comes up about the pros and cons of Sun sign astrology is that there’s something fundamentally valid about even some distinction as simple as just of signs or looking at one’s one Sun sign relative to the transits of the day, there’s something that’s fundamentally valid about that. And while it may be true that there may be like a spectrum of some people who are going to respond even better to that or are going to respond to their own Sun sign, let’s say their Sun is prominent in their chart for some reason and maybe they’ll respond even better to it than somebody where the Sun isn’t that prominent in the chart or there’s other things that are more emphasized.
RL: Absolutely, 100%. And from that standpoint in a way, what sunshine astrology is obviously it’s not horoscopic astrology, it’s archetypal astrology because one is simply working with archetypes. And from the psychological perspective, archetypes can be valuable going back to the William Blake concept of in ancient times people looked at nature with their enlarged senses and they saw hills and mountains and lakes and cities and with their enlarged senses, they actually attributed characteristics. And over time, the priesthood took these characteristics and used them for the church until people forgot that the characteristics resided to quote Blake within the human breast. And it’s like an archetypal approach. Gemini doesn’t exist out there. I don’t care what sign you are. The fact is there are 12 signs up there, there are 12 archetypes in here because 12 is an amazing number with which to rationalize to create ratios between good and evil up and down binary and to create ratios that are similar elementally and modally and so on so that 12 becomes an amazing system to create archetypes. It has nothing to do with 12 signs up there although the universe has a wonderful way of mirroring what we believe.
CB: Sure, yeah. I mean, it seems that there’s something fundamental about that is connected in a much broader sense to something bigger. I think for astrologers in most ages though, it’s a little bit something beyond comprehending. It’s like this weird technology that for some reason we have and some of us are able to use in different ways to different levels, but nobody ever fully understands exactly what’s going on even though it’s this really interesting and powerful thing. Well, so bringing things back around then so yeah, I like that that analogy and I hope that’s not the statement that I’m like remembered for when [Rick laughs] I said that. Sun sign astrology is the marijuana of astrology that phrase we were referring to earlier that we didn’t state but yeah, I think that’s because I said that because I thought it was a very ambiguous statement because different people based on their background and prejudices work could interpret that in different positive or negative ways. But the main way that I meant it personally was that it acts as a gateway drug into the astrological community and into realizing that there’s on the one hand, both something weird going on here and that the universe could be much stranger than one would think, but also that you could use that as an entry point into this highly technical practice and field that we’re all-
RL: Yeah, I would say that to corroborate Niels Bohr’s observation about quantum physics, the same would hold true with astrology. And what he said was quantum physics is not stranger than you think, it’s stranger than you can think.
CB: Nice. Yeah, I could definitely see that for astrology.
RL: So, I think we need to pull this to a close although we obviously could go on and on and on and I would love to again some time. It’s always such a pleasure to talk with you because you actually have a way of focusing not just me, but whoever it is that you interview and I applaud your efforts in this. Again, I think you’re doing a wonderful thing for the community.
CB: Sure. Well, thanks for joining me today to-
RL: And I would encourage anyone who’s listening this to go to Patreon and throw in their dollar or $20 a month or a week or whatever they do just to keep it going.
CB: Sure, definitely. I appreciate that. And whoever is the winner of the $10 Patreon tier this month is going to be getting a free pass to the ISAR conference and so, you and I will both be there giving lectures. I think you’re giving a talk there in October, right?
RL: Yes. And that brings me to some other things that I’m doing coming up. But certainly, the ISAR in October in Costa Mesa is the astrological gathering of this year if you want to get a sense of what this community is about and how incredibly awesomely smart, so many astrologers are from all around the world. Man, going to an ISAR conference is a life changing experience. Even if you’re a beginner, even if you’re new to it, it’s total immersion and it would be a wonderful thing and you can go to isarastrology.org I think and find out more there. But I just want to say briefly a couple of things I have coming up and you can find out more about my stuff, I’ll have it up in the next few days, a link on my Facebook page. By the way, I am facebook.com/astrologer. Don’t ask how I got that one. [Chris laughs] There’s a story, but not for now facebook.com/astrologer. But first of all, I will be in Chicago in a couple of weeks at the Chicago Friends of Astrology and that’s going to be Saturday, July 9th and I’m doing an all-day workshop on 12 practical steps to better chart readings. And it’s just a one-day event. I’ll be doing something in Chicago on Friday night too, the venue hasn’t been set. You can check out stariq.com I’ll have up on there where that will be. That’s mid-July. Then on July 31st to August 3rd, I’ll be at Breitenbush Hot Springs. This is a magical place in the old growth forest of Central Oregon about two hours from Portland and the title of this workshop or retreat is The Astrology of Relationships Moving Beyond Venus and Mars and I could say a lot about that, but I won’t. But if you go to breitenbush.com and go to their schedule, there’s a lot of information about that. Breitenbush is an amazing place especially in the summer with the old growth forest and three meals a day. It’s off the grid. There’s no cell phone, no internet, and hot tubs. Oh my god!
All right. Then, I’ll be participating in breaking down on 18th through 20th and there’ll be 48 speakers from around the world, but you don’t have to go anywhere. This is an online conference and it’s the fourth year. It’s a very cool thing. And you can go to astrologyconference.org and that’ll be November 18th through 20th. And then the high point of my next months will be an eight-day retreat in Goa, India on January 20th through the 29th. I know that’s nine days. In Goa, India and that will be sponsored by Heaven and Earth Workshops and you can go to heavenandearthworkshops.com, find out more about that. But that workshop is going to be called Experiencing the Spiritual Dimensions of Astrology and that’s going to be an experiential astrology workshop and we’re going to have a lot of fun there.
Then, next February, there’s the NCGR National Council for Geocosmic Research in Baltimore in February and then I’ll be back at NORWAC next spring and then Costa Rica with Kaypacha, Tom Lescher, Patricia Walsh and Maurice Fernandez and others. So, I have a busy year coming up. I’m looking forward to it. And thank you for giving me an opportunity to not only share a little bit about writing Sun sign astrology, but also some of the other topics that we touched on.
CB: Yeah, I mean, you’re one of the most active astrologers in the community in terms of the events that you’re doing and in terms of teaching and you’re still consulting full time. I recommend people checking out your podcast and your regular videos. People can actually find out all of that on your main website, right?
RL: Yes, stariq.com works or Facebook and if you go to stariq.com, sign up for the mailing list there because I’m just beginning. It’s crazy. I have millions of readers, but I really don’t have a mailing list and I’m just beginning to build it. So, if you want to be on my mailing list and be kept informed about what’s coming up in my world, go to stariq.com and sign up there.
CB: Excellent. All right. Well, I hope people will check that out. Thanks a lot for joining me today.
RL: And again, thank you and keep it up and I will see you at the International Society for Astrological Researches conference in Costa Mesa.
CB: Yes. I’m so excited about this conference. And yeah, I look forward to seeing you there and I look forward to seeing whoever wins the thing. We’ll have to both say hi to them in person in California in October. All right. Well, thanks for joining me.
RL: All right, and thank you.
CB: All right, and thanks everyone for listening and we’ll see you next time.