The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 99, titled:
With Chris Brennan and astrologer Adam Elenbaas
Episode originally released on March 6, 2017
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released June 21, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is recorded on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 at 4:06 PM in Denver, Colorado. And this is the 99th 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 patron, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Adam Elenbaas about his recent defense of the practice of prediction in astrology. Adam, welcome to the show.
ADAM ELENBAAS: Hey, thanks for having me.
CB: Hey, it’s good to have you on. So before we jump into the discussion, I’ve got just a few announcements about the giveaway we’re doing this month for patrons of the show. So at the end of the month, we’re going to be giving away a pass to the upcoming retreat that’s being hosted by The Organization for Professional Astrology. The retreat will take place October 19th through the 22nd, 2017 at the Zion National Park in Utah. The theme of the retreat is the art of living and dying, and it will feature 12 tracks each being led by a professional astrologer and focusing on a specific topic such as predictive techniques, horary relationships, and so on. The program is designed for all levels of astrological expertise from beginners in astrology to professional practitioners. You can find out more information about the retreat at opaastrology.org. The other prize we’re giving away this month is a signed copy of my recently released book, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, the product of more than 10 years of research. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the history, philosophy and techniques of ancient astrology. So the winners of the giveaway will be announced on episode 102 which should air at the end of March. 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 at theastrologypodcast.com. All right. So with those announcements out of the way, let’s get started with the discussion. So this was actually a talk or this show is sort of based on or connected with a talk that you’ve recently gave. I think you first gave it in Seattle, and then you did another presentation of it for the Association for Young Astrologers, right?
AE: Yeah, that’s right. I went out to Seattle and did a talk for the WSAA group. And then for the Association of Young Astrologers, yeah. Okay.
CB: And yeah, it was just really brilliant talk. So I was really excited to sort of invite you to see if you wanted to talk about some of those topics. And I mean, maybe we should start because there’s two sort of starting points for the discussion. One of them is sort of some of the recent discussion that’s been happening about prediction in astrology and your talk is partially a reaction to that. But also even going further back, you kind of have made your way into a more predictive form of astrology, but you came from something that was not necessarily that, right?
AE: Yeah. I mean, I think I cut my teeth on modern archetypal astrology, psychological astrology. And I think the mantra that I found myself repeating without any real understanding of any traditional modalities was I am not a fortune teller, I don’t predict your future, and there was this intensity with which I carried those statements. And I guess once I started studying horary astrology and Hellenistic astrology and other more traditional forms, I guess, I think anybody who does so coming from the modern perspective has to have an encounter with those statements and the concept of prediction and the philosophical issue surrounding it.
CB: Right. I mean, I think that was a big trend over the past few decades of this explicit sort of rejection of prediction as something that is not what astrology is about or it’s something that other people do and this sort of even looking down on or talking negatively about fortune-telling from within the astrological community and sort of holding it at arms length when talking about like tarot card readers or other forms of divination. And that’s actually something that you open your talk with is sort of different images of fortune tellers and tarot card readers and other people and the sort of immediate gut level reaction that some people have to that, and you sort of draw out some keywords as a result of that, right?
AE: Yeah. I think it started for me because I was living in New York city, and when I first started astrology, there was literally a palm reader shop across the street from the place that I set up shop as an astrologer in Chelsea. So there’s this palm reader across the street and I started advertising that I’m teaching astrology classes out of this little spot. And they come over and sort of sized me up. And I mean, they couldn’t have been more stereotypically fortune tellery-looking, you know what I mean? They had that classic sort of gypsy look. At the time I remember just being sort of horrified, these are the enemies, these are people who are doing black magic, they’re not doing real astrology. And I remember that encounter really stuck with me for a long time. I think back now and I think, “What judgment I cast on these folks?” But I think over time that image of the fortune teller and all of the complex judgments and associations that I had with it and that other people tend to have with it were just a really big part of my experience. So I think at a certain point studying predictive astrology, studying horary, studying Hellenistic, you sort of scratch your head if you have an encounter with prediction. And what that did for me was it sort of forced me back on the image of the fortune teller. So I started spending a lot of time in my classrooms having my students just look at the image and say what does this image bring up for you. And I would pick the cheesiest ones that I could find like Zoltar from Big and just cheesy Google search images. And the keywords that they came up with were I think really similar to that gut-level reaction that I had the very first time in Manhattan that I sort of encountered these folks across the street. For example, here’s some of the key words that my students always come up with and that the audiences in my talks recently came up with. So manipulation seduction, now we’re talking about images of fortune tellers with the crystal ball, with the exotic sort of foreign look. And that was it, exotic foreign lands, mystery, sexuality, trickery, sorcery, and a lot of those words came up. But then more interesting ones like money, trickery, deception, overly simplified answers to complex questions, lack of psychological sophistication, I know better than you do, and so some really interesting things that were generated from people sitting with this topic. And these were all students who are starting on a course that I teach in traditional astrology for people coming to traditional astrology from a modern perspective. So starting off the course with an encounter with this image, these are the things that people come up with right away in a sort of a gut level,
CB: Right. So it’s almost like it’s some reaction. I don’t know if that’s just in modern western society, I don’t know if that’s a sort of reaction or if there’s some sort of primal reaction that people have in all societies to like that as an archetype or what it is necessarily, but it’s interesting that astrology, I mean, your main point there is that astrologers don’t usually conceptualize themselves as falling into that category, and therefore oftentimes put that off on like others or say that that’s like the other and it’s not us, and often denigrate it. So one of your points was sort of to identify that, but then maybe to turn that around a little bit, right?
AE: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think what I wanted to do was try to break down how are those images, those associations with the image of a fortune teller, how are they associated to the accompanying philosophical problems that people seem to have with prediction? So when people say, “Well, why don’t you like prediction philosophically?” They have a different list of answers than the aversions that they have to the actual image of a fortune teller which I find really interesting. So for example, some of the things that, again, my students and different audiences said about what kinds of problems they have philosophically with prediction, well, the magician is more concerned with being right than helping a client or the fortune teller is a showman more than a healer or there’s black magic there because any form of prediction sort of casts a spell and may somehow collude in the creation of that event. And so there’s this issue of fortune-telling being sort of like black magic, and then there’s, well, I don’t like prediction because I don’t believe in a mechanistic universe, there’s the idea that fortune telling is somehow a violation of free will, the whole belief in prediction itself is somehow antithetical to free will or that I think, especially in the evolutionary schools of astrology, I have a lot of friends who practice evolutionary astrology, sometimes the issue is that prediction violates evolutionary potential. The soul has the ability to manifest radically different results say in a Saturn transit based on how awake it is or something like that. Prediction limits doesn’t recognize possibility or potential, yeah, it doesn’t recognize maturity of the soul. And then I think the big one which came out as you know and I think maybe others know, there was a pretty strong statement that came out from Steven Forrest not long ago, and actually, it was fascinating because I had written this talk and was set to do it before this came out, but then it kind of coincided with it. Forrest came out with a newsletter blast that was saying, it was a real strong kind of anti-prediction stance that he took, probably for some… In some ways, I really sympathize with it. It was some smart things that he said. And it was mostly in response to all the astrologers sort of getting the Clinton presidency prediction wrong and then scrambling to explain technically why they were wrong. And he was saying all of this really misrepresents the real depth of astrology. And that’s something that prior to hearing Steven Forrest issue, this statement through a newsletter, that was another one of the things that my students and others had that was on my list was prediction somehow doesn’t get at the real depth or meaning, it focuses on trivial things. And then last but not least in the general lists that I go through in this talk, I talk about how there’s this sense that prediction is just hands down unethical, and especially if and when it’s wrong. Because then it could really sort of do damage to people. So that’s the general list, I think, of the philosophical problems that people have that go along with all of those weird aversions and stereotypes that we have with the image of the fortune teller.
CB: Sure, yeah. And that’s been really interesting because Steven Forrest’s article and your recent talk on this have been interesting because they’re sort of like… To me, they’ve been sort of two sides of the same coin, partially in a discussion that’s taking place in the aftermath of the US presidential election last fall, and so many astrologists including myself getting it wrong and then having some of those discussions like with Steven Forrest. Initially, it just started with him sharing a post on Facebook that was actually from what was essentially an anti-astrology website who was using that as an example of all the astrologers got it wrong and astrology is bogus. And then Steven Forrest in sharing that on Facebook to his astrology followers said, “And this is one of the reasons why prediction is wrong because it makes astrologers look bad and it misrepresents what astrology is,” so that ultimately his argument was that this was a bad thing for astrology in general, for the astrological community, when astrologers make predictions is one of his points, I guess.
AE: Yeah. And I sympathize with that on the level of criticizing. There’s a fair criticism to be made against astrologers whose egos are really invested in being right. So on that level, I really sympathize with his argument. But I did feel like, and I don’t want to turn this into a big critique of his newsletter entirely because, but I think that where I would go in a different direction, and by the way, I’ve had three readings with Steven in the past and I really enjoy his style and the way he reads and I have no conflict with evolutionary astrology or anything like that.
CB: I really respect his work as well. And I’m hoping to have him on to talk about this at some point in the not too distant future. So it’s more of a discussion about this whole meta-discussion and just the fact that he had put something out recently about it and that you were also talking about it and that’s what I’m interested in exploring.
AE: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I guess the place where I did take issue was going from some astrologers have a big ego about prediction to sort of the claim that all predictive astrology is somehow missing the point. I feel that that particular argument is, as gently as possible, I want to suggest that it’s a little elitist and that I feel like I’m trying to speak in defense of predictive astrology because I’ve experienced a profound level of sacredness with the practice and with the results when I’m right and when I’m wrong or when other astrologers have been right and when they’ve been wrong. And so, yeah, I think predictive astrology is… And I also don’t think that the lines are totally clear. In one sense, I also think it’s like setting up a straw man to knock down when we say prediction is bad, because it truly, and I think you’ll probably agree with me, I think most forms of modern astrology actually employ prediction all of the time. And it might be done in a slightly different manner or it might have a slightly different tone or it might be cased in a slightly different metaphysic, but I personally coming from modern astrology, I don’t see what I’m doing now is so radically different with regard to prediction.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that’s one of the arguments that I’ve been making, I think since like 2010, which is just that astrology, but especially natal astrology is inherently predictive in some ways, but that people, because of the sort of bad things associated with that and the attempt in the 1970s and ’80s, especially amongst psychological astrologers, to reject fortunetelling and to separate themselves from fortunetelling for that, part of what went along with that was taking this very strong position that astrology is not and in no way predictive, and that that’s not what they’re doing because they would take the position that if you’re reading a chart, you’re reading like character traits of who the person is right now or you’re looking at transits right now or something like that. Whereas I’ve always argued that the birth chart itself to whatever extent that your basic premise is that you can make any statements about a person’s life based on the alignment of the planets at the moment of birth, you’re automatically making a sort of prediction because the alignment of the planets back then when a person was born should not have any bearing on who they become later if astrology didn’t work and if it didn’t have some predictive capability however you define that.
AE: Right. And I think that that gets into… I named the talk that I did Reviving Lady Fortuna. And I think that the whole trajectory of my talk was to try to validate and kind of defend in the talk what I call in the words of James Hillman, a sense of fate. Because I think that if you look back historically, and I know you know much more about this than I do, but from my own background in college studying philosophy and studying literary theory in grad school and then taking your wonderful Hellenistic course and surveying many of the texts that you recommended and actually reading through some of the source texts, checking out books like The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology by Dorian Greenbaum. It appears to me as though the presence of fate was simultaneous to a variety of complex assertions about the nature of consciousness, about the nature of life and the cosmos. And yet fate is there as a psychologically valid experience from ancient times all the way to modern times. Nobody ever claims that they don’t have an experience of fate, that there’s not some felt shared common experience where something feels fated.
CB: Right. I actually have a statement from Hillman that you really emphasized, that was your attempt to sort of encapsulate that with that feeling as articulate that, right?
AE: Yeah. I have it right here. I thought maybe I’d break it out. Here’s what he says in the opening to his book The Soul’s Code, this is James Hillman, who was kind of a prodigy child of Carl Jung and comes out of the depth psychology movement, but takes his own interesting turns. Anyway, in The Soul’s Code in search of character and calling, he opens saying, “There is more in a human life than our theories of it allow. Sooner or later, something seems to call us onto a particular path. You may remember this something as a signal moment in childhood when an urge out of nowhere, a fascination, a peculiar turn of events struck like an annunciation, this is what I must do. This is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.” This book is about that call. If not this vivid or sure, the call may have been more like gentle pushings in the stream in which you drifted unknowingly to a particular spot on the bank. Looking back, you sense that fate had a hand in it, this book is about that sense of fate. So I love it because the book is not in defense of the philosophy surrounding fate. It doesn’t come at the topic of fate or fated events from the perspective of metaphysics or traditional Western philosophy, where you’re trying to sort it all out and how it works along with epistemology and like all sorts of crazy intellectual gymnastics, trying to validate whether or not we live in a deterministic universe or whether it’s free will or how does quantum mechanics give us some version of both. It sets aside all of those debates, it sort of sidesteps them, and Hillman just frequently throughout his work would say, “There is a psychological experience that we have, an encounter that we have with fortune with fate.” And that’s sort of the gist of what I’m trying to say, I mean, I have a lot of things to say about the subject, but one of the core things I’d like to that I think could unite us all rather than having this sort of schism in the field between those who hate prediction and those who think that psychological astrology is soft or whatever, these common dividing lines, it’s just to recognize that whether someone says you’ve just described to me so accurately because you’re giving some profound psychological explanation of what it means to be a Cancer or whether you have successfully predicted someone getting pregnant, I still believe that what’s generated in the soul of the client that really matters is they’re awakened to or something stirs inside of them, and that sense of fate awakens. And it usually disappears again, it doesn’t stay for very long. It’s not an ecstatic sort of never-ending hallelujah or anything. It stirs, it appears, and it disappears again. And I find that astrology is actually like that too, prediction is often frustrating, specifically because it makes an appearance like an omen. But it’s not something that’s going to be crystal clear every single time that you approach a chart. You’re not always going to get this clear vivid predictively accurate readout, whether you’re saying something psychologically sound or whether you’re saying, making a more specific concrete prediction. So I think Hillman’s sense of fate in his whole description of the fate and fate and the soul’s relationship to fate is what I’m trying to point toward, that we all share in that as astrologers. And hopefully, I’ll get into some chart examples later, just some anecdotes where I think predictive astrology stirs in the soul something just as magical and sacred and important as something that would probably be described as more psychological astrology.
CB: Sure. Right. And yeah, that probably is a common uniting point, that there is something about astrology and there’s something about when an astrologer makes an accurate statement or is accurately able to get to the heart of the matter when doing some sort of astrological reading or when some sort of astrological phenomenon or event occurs, which it’s very hard to articulate. But there’s some feeling and an impression that it leaves you with that could be described as fate or destiny or fortune or what have you, and that that might be the sort of mutual point that could be agreed on to some extent, and then the debate just surrounds what is that or what actually brought that about or what’s underlying or behind that?
AE: Right. And I mean, I would also say maybe… I mean, certainly in terms of our craft and talking about the philosophy that guides why we practice and the way we practice, looking at what’s behind that, what’s within that, what is that, is really important. But I also, and again, this is just my perspective. I do believe that we place too much expectation sometimes on astrology to give us final answers about the nature of the cosmos, the nature of consciousness. And I wonder, I don’t know, but I wonder if people living in the ancient world that Hellenistic astrologers inhabited, I wonder if there wasn’t a more ingrained and everyday and sort of common encounter with omens, oracles and this stirring that we’re describing. And that the commoner, the person living in the city, the everyday person, I don’t know that the common person is ever that concerned with what that is or where it comes from or the underlying mechanism by which it works or something like that. And that was always Hillman’s point too, was that the everyday life of the individual desires a contact with that experience. But it may start to zone out if we try to lead it from that experience to some kind of grand metaphysic or religious dogma or something like that. And so I actually believe predictive astrology can be… When we talk about psychological astrology, ironically enough, we’re often actually plugging people into a religious perspective like Jungian astrology, for example, the entire metaphysics, the guiding metaphysic of individuation, all of the complex beliefs with Jung’s individuation or when you’re talking about evolutionary astrology, you have an entire paradigm about the evolution of consciousness toward higher states, and that that’s desirable, that that is where all souls are going. These really, as Hillman would say, these really aren’t psychological at all. They’re actually, you’re using the inner life as a tool for a metaphysic. Hillman always made the point that sticking with life in the valley, with the everyday stuff, will I get the job? Where’s my missing cell phone? That people want to have contact with the everyday things of life and see through them and have some connection to something numinous or something powerful beyond them or within them, but it’s almost like we start leaving the world and all of the basic facts of the world behind when we start trivializing them and making what’s important what’s ever behind them. So that’s also my simple claim, is that I think predictive astrology is actually profoundly psychological in that it doesn’t necessarily need to lead somebody to some kind of transformation religiously or spiritually. It’s satisfied with giving someone a meaningful psychological encounter with fate and people will be moved to do things with that creatively, but they don’t necessarily have to be part of some overarching religious paradigm.
CB: Right. And that was a really interesting part, that was the most interesting part of your talk. As you took that usual rejection amongst astrologers of what is essentially fortunetelling and kind of inverted the argument, because it’s usually rejected. And it said finding somebody’s lost keys or answering a horary question or doing something that seems very predictive and mundane, the argument is always that that is not deep or spiritual or other experience that’s going to be transformative or ultimately useful in some broader philosophical or spiritual sense for the person. And instead, modern astrology has generally argued that it’s only through looking at the chart itself and the sort of psychological insight or looking at the nature of the person’s like their soul or their psyche that you can gain any sort of greater, sort of revelatory insight into the person’s life. But you sort of flip that on its head. And you said, no, that by even doing something very simple as a single horary chart for a seemingly mundane question or something like that or something that is more predictive or concrete and not necessarily at all psychological or character-oriented or even necessarily spiritually or religiously-oriented, that you can still instill some important experience in the person that does transcend just the normal sort of mundane event that they’re concerned about at that time or that that becomes an access point somehow.
AE: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, for example, one of the big statements in Steven Forrest’s newsletter, that on the one hand, again, I really appreciate and sympathize with, but from this in sort of inverted perspective, I take some issue with, is that he said why did we try to predict the election rather than talking about the meaning of it? And my only point is not that, I mean, that’s a great point, and I think it could be really valuable. Rather than always approaching something predictively, to talk about the meaning or to ask questions about the archetypal dynamics surrounding the election rather than trying to use the symbols to predict what will happen. Clearly I value that because I studied and came into astrology through that path. So that path opened this world for me, and I’m very thankful for it. But at the same time, I guess it’s exactly… So the example that I use is on the other hand, I don’t want people to place such a premium on meaning, that meaning becomes this ironic redundancy and it becomes a cult of meaning, which actually ends up… What it generates is cliches and lifeless spiritual tropes and everybody putting a Rumi quote on their wall and things like that. It doesn’t… And so my point is that when you have basic experience, like I had a client who did a horary, we did a horary for her, and it was about a missing bull, she’s a farmer. And through the horary, we were able to… It was an interesting horary, I’ll give you one little detail that’s fun. So Mercury had just stationed and was going direct. And part of the symbolism, the bull was symbolized by Mercury in the horary, and it was not moving, barely moving, just turned direct. And I said, “I wonder if the bull backed into a structure and got stuck or somehow found itself stuck and maybe is injured, etc.” And there were some details, I’d have to go through the whole horary. But at any rate, the symbolism spoke to me in this way. And I said, “I don’t know if this is correct or not, I’m trying my best. The bull is located in the….” It was not some attempt to wow her, it was a very modest attempt to try and help her find this bull. And in fact, we led her by direction, “Go to the southeast, look for a structure maybe the bull is stuck in,” and it turned out that the bull had been backed into a neighboring barn in a southeast pasture by a neighboring herd, who’d gotten sort of territorial, and had gotten injured and sort of stuck in the stall. So she found the bull very quickly and very much according to the symbolism that we were able to locate. Now my simple point here is that there was no conversation happening between the two of us about her growth or her inner life or her spiritual development, and yet that experience the way that we spoke about it afterward, I said, that was pretty impressive, huh? Just kind of shooting the breeze with her about it. And she it turns out that she has a pretty deep skepticism toward astrology in her past. And this turned out to be a moment for her that opened her to the reality of astrology on a much deeper level. So that was one thing that she mentioned. But I think even more profoundly, she said, “I think it’s just so amazing that you could actually find a bull with astrology.” Because she mostly had only really heard of modern astrology which for the most part is sort of like an elaborate [unintelligible 34.52] this is kind of how she was describing it. So my point again is that I think what’s so sacred and unique about that experience is that an everyday thing as simple as a bull was able to be found and located, and that stirred something in her. It made your pasture and your walk through your pasture and the gate and the neighbor’s farm and the neighbors herd, it made them all a part of something being witnessed by the heavens or something reflected in the heavens. And there was no prescription. There was set of instructions for her personally to need to improve or do anything or go anywhere or become something or evolve towards something. And my only point is that I believe that that experience is part of what brings magic back into the world. And the world is just as important as the beyond and often with both modern psychological and evolutionary, I think even though there’s an emphasis on meaning and the inner life, it’s actually pointing us in some ways, taking us out of or divorcing us from everyday things like bulls.
CB: Right. And so there’s something about just having that sort of almost like the oracular experience of astrology, which because we’re sort of divorced from that in modern society as a concept that even something like that, just having exposure to it, can sometimes trigger like deeper philosophical and spiritual reflections in the person just by virtue of the fact that how could this work at all or that this is actually a thing that exists in the world and what does that mean.
AE: Right. And that may not result in them joining a yoga studio. It may not result in them like signing up for a landmark class or trying to empower themselves and reach level 10. But my point is that, I guess, again, I feel like Hillman did as a psychologist wanting to try to validate and sort of stick up for a slightly more fluid and everyday experience of something sacred. So that it’s like, “Your IPA craft beer, the six pack, did you leave it at the friend’s house? Okay, let’s check on the horary.” And you can get an accurate readout. It’s like the universe would honor that simple everyday six pack of IPA beer. I believe that that fills us with something profound in our everyday lives. And my only point is that rather than needing us to go anywhere or become anything, all of the magic is here. And so maybe something that predictive astrology does that’s really not examined or really understood is that it opens the sacred within the mundane in some ways much more than psychological astrology does. Though I think psychological astrology has profound value as well.
CB: Sure. But instead of… You’re not attacking psychological astrology, but you’re just showing that, like you said, there can be something profound and sacred in the mundane.
AE: Yeah. One thing I’d like to present is that there are also deep, philosophical and ethical issues that people can take with those hardliners who believe that prediction is hands down bad or can’t be used in a sensitive and interesting way or a psychologically meaningful way. So generating that list, I think, was something… So this list is slightly different from the list I started with which are okay, here are the philosophical problems that people have with prediction. Well, as I started studying horary and encountering sacredness in bulls and missing bathrobes and stuff like that, and I mean, frankly, other things that are more interesting and meaningful as well, I’m using the most mundane examples I can think of, but horary includes things like missing persons charts, which I gave a few examples of in my talk, and the prediction of death and the prediction of good things too, promotion and things like that. And also horary does not exclude examining the inner life and inner response to subjectively good and bad events. An astrologer can have a deeply meaningful talk about the results of prediction in any direction, and that can still be part of predictive astrology. But the issues philosophically that I think I started noticing against in the opposite direction, for example, are again, like the idea that astrology should be focused on another world or should be focused on the psyche or should be focused on what’s behind things rather than a slightly more materialistic or I would call it worldly approach, the idea that consciousness is evolving. some of this it feels like religious brainwashing. And I think that it’s important to recognize that people also can feel sort of violated by that.
CB: These are your objections to arguments that are commonly made or now coming from the other side that you’ve transitioned from a modern astrologer to a more predictive form of astrology, your sort of counterarguments to some of the common presumptions that are made in the arguments against prediction.
AE: Yes, exactly. [laughs] The other one would be, okay, so how do you determine somebody’s level of consciousness? If the level and particular place that someone is at within some kind of scale determines their maturity level, determines what they do with what they’ve got or something like that, how does one determine that? And what is the scale measured against ultimately and how does one have knowledge of whatever that ultimate comparison is? I think that’s really dependent upon usually some particular school’s headmaster and, and whatever encounters they’ve had with what they feel is divine and then how they end up creating a scheme to sort of weigh or measure human consciousness and development against that. And that’s highly subjective ironically,
CB: Right, because that’s one of the common statements in modern astrology, especially coming from the new age community is the idea that a person’s experience of certain transits or events and things that activate in their life, if they have an experience of an event, even if it’s a subjective experience rather than an objective one, that their experience will be partially predicated on their level of consciousness. And so sometimes people will say, well, if you had a bad transit like that manifested in a bad event, then it means that you didn’t deal with it well or somehow that was your fault or that your level of consciousness was such that that was what needed to happen to you at that point in time for spiritual growth or something like that.
AE: Yeah. My feeling is that it comes from a really unfortunate sort of, I would call it, sort of a perversion of one of Carl Jung’s famous statements that what we call fate or what we experience as fate is the unconscious. And so that gets stretched out to mean that anything that feels out of your control is due to some kind of inner lack of either responsibility or maturity. And I think that’s a horrible perversion of what he was actually saying, you know. My understanding of what Jung was saying, after having studied a lot of Jung and I’m certainly no professional Jungian scholar, but I’ve read a lot of what he’s written and I’ve read everything that Hillman has written in response to Jung, my understanding of that is that there is some ability to recognize the participation that we have in fated events. That we experience something as fate, that we have the ability to participate meaningfully, I think that was big for Jung and sort of with a kind of awareness about things that happen to us. And there’s the ability to sort of reclaim or empower from what we know potentially a state of feeling like a victim of the cosmos. And I think that’s really meaningful to be… And in fact, I think that that’s actually what, and maybe you’d agree with me, Chris, I think that’s what many stoic astrologers would have encouraged. Valens comes to mind as somebody who would have appreciated that perspective. Would you agree?
CB: Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the most ironic things, for example, when I’ve seen sometimes modern attacks on I remember like Glenn Perry wrote this attack on traditional astrology 10 years ago. And one of his arguments was that traditional astrology is so obsessed with predicting events and controlling or manipulating everything that it results in the people never just having peace of mind and accepting events as being for the best. And ironically, funniest thing about that is that due to the stoic persuasions of most of the ancient astrologers, their highest ideal was to study astrology in order to be okay with and not thrown off by things, whether something extremely subjectively positive happens or something negative happens, but to develop a sort of equilibrium and sort of not try to control everything, but just to be at peace with things in some way.
AE: Yeah. I think for example of the film that just came out, The Arrival, did you see that?
CB: Yeah, it was great.
AE: Yeah. I won’t give it away because it’s really worth being surprised by for those people listening who haven’t seen it. But there’s this whole journey in that movie that involves the idea of pre-cognition, I would call it pre-cognition. And to me, it’s fascinating that pre-cognition in the film is conceptualized as a tremendous gift. And I think that when we practice astrology in a predictive way, whether we’re right or we’re wrong, in some ways my own experience is that what starts to happen is your… And I don’t mean this in some tinfoil hat kind of way, I just mean that you develop a kind of pre-cognitive awareness. And I don’t think it’s a surprise that Jung was interested in the I Ching and divination and astrology and synchronicity. I think synchronicity is something that it seems like it’s very linked to this idea of having an awareness of the trajectory that something is on or the likely kinds of events that are going to play out relative to some symbol that’s speaking from a dream or from whatever that… So there’s this pre-cognitive ability. It seems to grow in us when we practice astrology or at least for me. And what it gives me is not the feeling that… It doesn’t give me the feeling that I’m out of control of my life, that I have a sense that some things are going to happen around some time, rather it gives me this ability to walk through the experience with an interesting and kind of participatory reflectiveness, knowing that this experience is also a part of potentially a pre-cognitive moment that is in turn extending into another future. I know that we’re getting far out here, but let me just give a very basic example. I knew for several years with Pluto approaching a conjunction to my Moon that something was coming. And the astrologer who sits and predictively tries to figure out exactly what that is, I think is misled. But the astrologer who sits there and tries to say it will be whatever I say it will be, I think is also misled. So for me, it’s like, well, I have this pre-cognitive sense because I’m looking at the movement of this planet towards the symbol. So this awareness is growing within me. Then what happens is the actual experiences when they come along, whatever they are,, for in my case Pluto conjoining my Moon was divorce of my parents’ wedding, purchase of our house, and birth of our daughter. So, a lot. I remember thinking it was coming, thinking just, “Dear God, please don’t let my mom die.” That was one. You freak out a little bit. But my point is that when these things actually happened, it was terrible but it was also completely beautiful. I had a completely deep and meaningful experience of all of those events. I suffered them, I didn’t like them, I didn’t want them, but I also had this profound level of awareness of what they were. And I was able to view them from a slightly detached place. That really, really valuable, that’s something that prediction gives us. But in order to truly value that, I think that there are some things that we have to value philosophically or spiritually that are controversial. For example, I think that one of the things that or there’s a superstition around is fear. Generally speaking, people think fear is bad. I don’t want fear. Wherever there is fear, wish or breathe light. And wherever there is fear, there is darkness. Wherever there is darkness, there is evil. There’s this kind of very Christian, I would say, or really religious reasoning. But I came to astrology through 10 years of work with ayahuasca shamanism. And in these profound altered states that are generated through the drinking of the sacramental tea in the Amazon, the experience that is encouraged is to go very deeply into fear. Not to glorify it or not to revel in it but to move into it and let it be a teacher. So, my experience like for example earlier today, I had a client. We were talking about some difficult things on the horizon, some difficult transits. And I never tried it. I always tried to focus on some more exciting ones like Jupiter transits and stuff like that. But at any rate, I was talking about a Pluto transit and some of the difficulties of Pluto. And I’m very conscious to try to create a really healthy experience of that anxiety because that anxiety is a gift. It’s a gift because when we actually go through the experience of whatever the difficult moment is–And it’s so funny that we never talk about the positive ones. But the difficulty that we experience in the pain and the fear and the anxiety, there’s a powerful kind of alchemy that occurs when you live through it. And you tap into something that’s eternal, that’s unbreakable. And all of the fear that you’ve just passed through, it turns out that it was a teacher. And then the next time you have something, perhaps your fear is a little less or you work with the fear a little bit differently. Maybe it dominated you the first time and really threw you for a loop. But as long as we see fear as darkness and evil, we’re missing an opportunity to work with our existential anxiety in a really important way I think, a way that’s just as sacred as trying to create the most positive intention anyway.
CB: Sure. And you’re sort of left with, I think in some of the examples, this just profound sense of sort of knowing and being left with that itself has a really powerful effect on the person even if it’s something that previously they might have feared. But it’s sort of in the moment that that sense of knowing in tandem with the astrology that there’s something–I don’t know if reassuring is the right word, but there’s something profound about it.
AE: Yeah. I would say that faith or trust not in something not towards something but just faith and trust themselves, those qualities of consciousness that we learn how to carry them essentially by moving through difficult times and recognizing that something is still there, that I’m still here. Yeah, so I think the value of the anxiety that we face with predictive astrology is very strong medicine. And I know it’s not for everybody, and I don’t think it should be forced on people. And I try to be very delicate and sensitive about how much prediction and how heavy handed and what kind of language and–But I believe that prediction is deeply meaningful. For example, I can give this example that I gave in the class. We had a colleague that on Christmas went missing. This is a colleague in our yoga studio community here who is a teacher in our herbal medicine program. And she went missing on Christmas, and my wife was really concerned that she was okay and wanted to ask a horary question about whether or not she was still alive. And we had a talk about it. I said like, “Maybe it’s really close to home. Maybe let’s just sit and wait and see.” But she was really anxious about it and felt that a horary would give her some sense of resolution to bring her mind to a rest somehow. So I said, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.” So–
CB: Rght. So this was like a very close friend of yours?
AE: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Very close friend of my wife. She’s also an astrologer herself. We talked about her chart, her and I for years. So it was a really personal one, and the horary spoke to the idea that she had died. And I checked it with a few other friends, wanting to make sure to check my work because that’s an intense thing to look at. And we all came to the same conclusion, I dare say it was a beautiful chart. And, sure enough, unfortunately she had been murdered. So when I gave the news to my wife, we went through a rollercoaster of emotions together. And at the beginning, quite literally we cursed her. This is my wife that was having this experience, not me. But just the thought, “Dear God. Did casting this chart somehow necessitate it?” And then there was the, “This can’t be true if I just think positively enough. I’m gonna just cancel cancel clear, and I’m gonna think positively. And maybe she’ll come through.” And we did that. We prayed. We still held out hope. It wasn’t like we said, “Okay. Well, too bad. She’s gone.” No, there was a profound struggle with what had happened. And so the stoic quality I think that we’re talking about here, it is not one that is free of trying to pray, intervene. It is not one that has to be mutually exclusive to talismanic magic or all different kinds of interventional forms of magic or choice or whatever. But in this case, nothing could be done. This was her moment. Or at the very least, we came to a point where we moved from the feeling that everything had been, “We cursed her.” and everything like that to, “This was her time.” And because the cosmos bared witness to her passage, we were able–And because it did so in this incredibly eloquent way, the symbolism of the chart was actually beautiful. And that gave both of us something that was just profoundly meaningful. It was a profound friend to us. That chart was like a salve for a deep heart wound. And I know not everybody would experience horary like that, and I know not everyone would ever do anything like that because maybe they just couldn’t. But for us, that chart was healing. But we had to go through a whole process with it. And I think that’s what I mean when I say that there’s the value of a certain kind of anxiety with prediction. It leads us to surrender, I think, at a very deep level. And, again, that does not have to be mutually exclusive to the belief that you could through choice prayer or any other kind of magic perhaps intervene in an event that looks faded or astrological prognostication. In fact, in the ancient world, as far as I’ve studied, they were always commingling with one another in a way that was maddening at worst and fascinating at best.
CB: Right. So this is not like an invitation to fatalism, but there’s something about–And you treated this as a profoundly sort of traumatic event that you went through, and you had much trepidation about when it happened and whether a horary chart was appropriate. And you went through this whole process of talking with your wife before even casting it or daring to even attempt to look at it with the astrology in that way. And when you did eventually with much reluctance, were struck by the symbolism involved in the chart. And it spoke so much to the situation but also potentially to a negative outcome and then went through a whole sort of several phases of denial and sort of like anger and all these other phases about what had happened before eventually finding out that the chart itself was correct. And then in that traumatic event you’re sort of left with, on the one hand, this profound sense of loss and sorrow due to the loss of your friend. But also this weird thing had just happened where for some reason you had cast a chart that depicted the alignment of the planets at the moment that your wife asked you a question about her close friend and what had happened to her. And the chart actually described very literally what her fate was. And then there was something in that that was despite the trauma and the sorrow that you’re experiencing that was profoundly important and profoundly symbolically moving.
AE: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I think the other thing that goes along with prediction–And this is something that I take from Hilman in his commentary. There’s a great book that he wrote called The Dream and the Underworld. And it says though there are two worlds in astrology and with regard to what astrology is and can do. And I’ve simplified it in my head this way anyways. One is geared toward the genesis of life. And the genesis of life is associated as you know with the exceptional moment or the ritual starting point, the horoscope posts, the rising sign. It’s the ritual divination moment, you might say. And when we’re oriented toward that moment–I think when we orient ourselves psychically toward birth, then astrology tends to be used in a way that has to do with the sense that life is filled with possibilities moving from an inceptional moment forward. And so the astrology from that standpoint is used to figure out the best time to do something or to make you aware of things so that you can perhaps start shifting your consciousness, raising your consciousness, or performing magical ceremonies or crafting talismans or something like that. And basically I would suggest that modern astrology is just a really unique sort of psychic pyrotechnic form of talismanic magic. All of the emphasis on freewill and create your own reality and quantum mechanics and all of it, I see as a very interesting form of magic. That might be oversimplifying it. I’m just trying to make a point. Then I look at predictive astrology, and I see it as an astrology that the anchor perspective is death. And death is inevitable. So when we orient the meaning of life toward death rather than birth, everything toward death is part of a framework of inevitability because everybody inevitably dies. And so when we take death as the perspective, that stoic or kind of the deep guttural groaning of a Buddhist, there’s just that sense of like moving into the black, moving into the dark, moving into the fear, moving into the suffering, moving into the impermanence, and moving into the inevitability. And the idea is that moving into that somehow takes you full circle and brings you into the freedom of the moment to experience a death of a friend with grace and beauty as well as suffering. All I wanna say is that that perspective is sometimes ostracized and looked down upon and talked down too within our field sometimes for good reasons. Because it’s not like every single person who practices predictive astrology carries this in a way that’s respectable or ethical or without ego or whatever, but my point is that both ways of orienting ourselves toward birth and toward death have always been a part of how astrological prediction frames itself. And I think moving into Hellenistic astrology and horary, I’ve learned ayahuasca for me and Hillman who was a sort of counterpoint to Jung. Hillman was oriented not toward individuation really which is more like birth but toward death and the soul. And one of his first famous books was called Suicide and the Soul. And I believe maybe it’s my Capricorn Moon. We can blame it on that if we need to make this a part of my own psychological complexes. But I also have a Cancer Sun. [laughs]
AE: But I feel like I’m somebody who in my life has chosen time and time again to move into fear and inevitability and have found a lot of magic and freedom in that space rather than anything evil. So, yeah. Does that make sense?
CB: Yeah. That doesn’t make sense. And I like the way of framing of this question of, how should one deal with that which is inevitable? And once you’ve established something that has become inevitable, how do you deal with that? How do you cope with that? And where is astrology at that point? And part of the problem and this circles us back to some of your objections, your counter arguments to the modern statements against predictive astrology where when you raise a question like how should one deal with that which is inevitable, then the pushback could sometimes be this sort of almost absurdly extreme statement of nothing is inevitable or something which is just patently false. There are some things in life such as death in some instances that are inevitable on a long enough timeline. But there is sometimes this tendency for modern astrology even though it is well-intentioned oftentimes with those arguments which attempt to empower people, it can sometimes tend towards this extremism of nothing is inevitable or nothing is pre-determined or nothing is not avoidable. And that then leads back into one of your objections about the emphasis on freewill and on your inner self determination is so much that sometimes too much is put in the individual’s hands or you sort of push off too much in an individual’s lap so that whatever events happened in the person’s life–And that leads back to the whole misappropriation of Jung that you’re talking about of if somebody has a bad transit, the premise that that’s simply them not properly dealing with some sort of internalized psychological dynamic and that they’ve somehow externalized that in their life and that’s why it’s become that event. And in the most extreme versions of that you basically end up sort of blaming the victim in some sense.
AE: Yeah. And I think that taking that whole paradigm taken to an extreme represents what I would just–And I hate to just be so simple. But I think you could simplify it and say, “There is an aversion to death.” I would make it that simple in some ways and just say that there is an aversion to death present in the insistence that everything be geared toward will and choice and even co-creation or something like that, that taken too far, it ends up being this, ironically, unconscious aversion to death. And that’s why Hillman actually equivocates at times death and the soul and unconsciousness. He frequently says throughout his work that whenever we’re saying we need to make the unconscious conscious, what we’re really saying is we need to live forever. And what we’re really saying is that the unconscious is a kind of enemy that you’re trying to coax into submission. And all of that is really resonant with messianic thinking about end times, about enlightenment and very hierarchical religious structures where again the aversion is to death and even the belief of reincarnation in many evolutionary schools where you’re going round and round and round and you just wanna get off the wheel of reincarnation. There’s still the idea of being liberated from something that you perceive to have this kind of prisonlike or inevitability feature to it. But what I find really interesting is the idea rather than death or being in a body or being human, the inevitabilities of life being this huge thing that we’re trying to liberate ourselves from, I find them to be– To me, it’s very much like the film The Arrival, by the way. But it’s like what if all that we think is such a prison, the body, death, etc. etc., what if that’s an illusion? And I wanna honor that perspective by moving into inevitability. At the very least, I think it’s a valid spiritual path. But then when you look at going back to those–So coming full circle, I think, when I go back all the way to the image of the fortune teller. And here’s what I start asking was like, “Okay, so how did all of those stereotypes about the fortune teller, those images lead to the aversion, the philosophical problems?” And this is to my point, I guess. So like, for example, the fortune teller is compared with a sorcerer and with someone who dominates you or takes over. Could it be that we’re projecting those things onto the fortune teller because they represent our fear of death? Is death not something that we feel powerless to? Is death not something that we feel is exotic and a mystery and something that we are scared of? When you look at the idea of a mechanistic universe, is there any greater projected fear of death, the inevitability of human death, and the belief in a totally mechanistic universe? Is it possible that we project that onto the image of a fortune teller?
CB: Right. And one of your points with that is that accurate future predictions do not necessarily necessitate or fully imply a fully mechanistic or a completely deterministic universe.
AE: Yeah, exactly. That’s a huge thing right is that just because there may be elements of human life that we can become pre-cognitively aware of or that we can somehow recognize through the omens and signs of astrology does not mean that we’re making a grand metaphysical statement. In fact, that’s why I believe that this thing about you create your own reality in the conspiracy of meaning like looking at everything rather than what will happen, looking at all of it in terms of what it means. I actually believe in some ways that that’s the overflow of a kind of very deep paranoia, a paranoia that everything is mechanistic, that if anything is faded, then it’s all faded. So, yeah. I think that people can sometimes go to extremes with it, in other words, in just the sense that all prediction implies totally mechanistic universes. I think it reflects the tendency to–The reaction ends up being, “I have to create meaning in absolutely everything. And I have to look through seemingly causal events into psychic life and all of that, if it’s done because of this deep aversion to inevitability or fate.” Boy, fate, in my experience I think that’s when fate does become an experience that’s not enjoyable. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to avoid it.
CB: Right. Right. And so, some of your overall points then for that just to round out that section also is just that there is almost like just this sort of existence of both fate and free will. And just because both exist in our experience of reality doesn’t necessarily mean that the future is either completely open or completely determined. That was one of my favorite parts of your talk is that you were comfortable, you’re almost displaying how to be comfortable with the ambiguity inherent in the world rather than sort of jumping to one extreme end of the spectrum but instead to be accepting of and happy with the sort of ambiguity that’s almost inherent in astrology.
AE: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, I said here’s some things that I think we get if we learn that there is value. And I said if we’re orienting ourselves toward birth and the ritual moment or inevitability and death, either one provide us with a valid framework for practicing astrology. And yet I still think both involve a certain sense of the future. [laughs] And so, again, we come back to we share in prediction really. But we share in the value of prediction whether you’re using prediction to then work with or against the grain of the future or if you think it’s inevitability doesn’t matter. The predictive element is crucial to the act of astrology. But then there are deep values that we get from being able to hold the tension or the ambiguity of these views simultaneously. For one thing, we get mystery. Mystery is great, and I think we have such a tendency because we have an inheritance of Western philosophy and we have an inheritance of empiricism and things like that. We’ve lost our appreciation for ambiguity and mystery and having to hold these two with not really some clear sense of why it’s all there or how it should be or where it’s heading. The gift of that is mystery rather than just confusion. It’s depth. It’s a perspective that is both validating the time bound and the timeless. It has revelation and concealment as major features of the astrological experience simultaneously. There is the surprise of providence, grace, or divine intervention, magic, talismans. All of that can be a wonderful surprising dynamic. And there’s horary charts. We could use examples if we had time where you see people really rather than receiving an outcome based on the approach of one planet to another, you give a piece of advice. And then a person directs their course in a certain way. Or how about the validation that I’m not in control or responsible for everything? I think that people frequently they charge inevitability with being like lazy or passive or something like, “Well, I’m not gonna do anything. Or I won’t be able to get out of bed.” But that’s not it at all. In fact, responsibility is an everyday part of life as our choices. But we also have some really felt sense that I’m not in control or responsible for everything. Or we have the sense that some things really are good and bad and we can validate our subjective experience of pleasure and pain while we can also have this kind of distanced experience that’s equally meaningful. We don’t have to reject one at the cost of the other. Like sometimes your yoga class will tell you you should be completely detached and in the observer position like 24/7, and then people cleanse themselves every other week when they have a beer.
AE: But I think also to the fortune teller image, the sense of being seen by somebody exotic– I think of the idea sometimes the statement is like fate is what you meet on the open road. It’s like you’re heading somewhere and then you have an encounter with something other with something unexpected. And I think Schmidt and I think you’ve made this point too and maybe it was in Aristotle or somewhere, there’s that sense of running into somebody in the market that owes you some money. I don’t remember. I think it was you who gave this example. That’s a beautiful part of life just having some random chance-like encounter. Also, people frequently say, “Well, the thing about predictive astrology is you start obsessively wanting to know the outcomes about everything.” And my retort not only is that probably unhealthy but also it can be actually really wonderful, obsessively questioning and this whole cycle of domination and surrender that sometimes happens. I find that that’s actually a part of learning divination in general. That if you’re gonna learn divination, it’s almost like part of the cosmic apprenticeship that you get sort of obsessive and crazy and then you learn how to surrender control. But that’s actually kind of erotic and interesting, I think. Anyway, so those are some of the big ones.
CB: [unintelligible 0:30:17.07] like learning when to attempt to control things and influence the outcome versus when to learn to let go?
AE: Yeah, exactly. And the whole like it’s like a dog that licks obsessively. [laughs] I think as people studying this, we go through this whole thing of constantly throwing cards or constantly casting a chart. And it drives us sort of mad. And it’s very easy to say, “Well, that’s the real shadow side of predictive astrology.” But what’s to say that that’s not also a beautiful part of this kind of stoic mindset acquisition?
CB: Right. Just the process of becoming more self reflective and the realization that every action that you take will have some sort of corresponding outcome or reaction and in some instances with astrology, gaining greater insight into if I take this action now, then this will be the outcome.
AE: Right. Yeah. Actually, what you just said brought this to mind. Okay, so if you think about it like a romantic relationship–When you get into a romantic partnership with somebody, you sort of obsessively make out with one another. [laughs] And especially when you’re in like high school, you’re young and you’re just holding hands and you’re just constantly doing public displays of affection and just sort of going completely bonkers. And that erotism is like one level of intimacy. But then over time–And I’m married and have a kid, and I feel like my sort of intimacy with my wife has grown. But it’s learned how to embrace really deep periods of contentment with one another without that sort of obsessive physical desire and those spaces of silence or reflection or just being together and on a walk. As you grow in a relationship, there’s a silence that grows. And that silence is sort of a comfort with the inevitability of who you are or contentment with the beingness of what you are. And then spontaneously, something erupts from that space that suddenly makes you mad about one another again. And then you’re rolling around like rabbits or whatever. So I think that that’s the same thing in astrology. But the reason that we don’t just value that part of the process is because we’re actually not thinking psychologically. We’re actually thinking metaphysically and trying to enforce some kind of really rabid detachment like right out the gate, and that’s not how intimacy actually grows. So, anyway–
CB: No, I think that’s a really great analogy. It’s not even an analogy, but it’s a great way to look at what astrology is. And I’ve heard glimpses of that before. Sometimes Demetra talks about astrology almost as this entity or as this thing and how that works from a historical perspective in terms of sometimes astrology will sort of make itself known or sort of rise up in society at different points in history. But it has this kind of reclusive quality where it doesn’t always like to be sort of out in the open for very long, and sometimes it goes back underground and disappears sort of periodically. But that you making an analogy of it like a relationship that you’re having with astrology and how people go through phases in that relationship but also there’s a certain tendency that people have. It’s always very similar when astrologers get into it or how they treat it. It makes me think of that. And thinking about astrology more as like this entity rather than just this tool or technology like a microwave or something makes sense to me.
AE: Yeah. And I’m totally taking from the playbook of Hillman when I do that. His Pulitzer Prize nominated book was called Re-Visioning Psychology, and the whole premise of the book was like, “Let’s do psychotherapy on psychology. Let’s actually psychologize and sort of do analysis on psychology itself.” At times, I’m just surprised by the fact that so many modern evolutionary and psychological astrologers, many of whom again are my friends, will insist upon the psychological value of the individual. And yet it’s usually wed to a very intense sort of religious paradigm, and it does not reflect psychologically upon itself as a paradigm. And I find that, as Hillman said, the psyche’s favorite thing to do is not to have its nature explained in an objective science but to participate in the actual act of psychologizing which he described as experiencing fully everyday events in life but seeing through them into something more or something mysterious or something numinous and to just constantly do that in a sort of infinite regress. So that’s his own philosophy, I guess. But I think a little healthy dose of that from time to time as astrologers could take us to some really interesting places so that everything that we think is a problem about one particular school or way of using prediction versus another is actually just a different kind of psychological experience itself. And I think reframing it in that way, at the very least, can give us relational common ground as astrologers. And that’s what I want because I love so many different forms, and I don’t feel like I have any real clue philosophically about what the final answer is.
CB: Sure, but it’s brilliant to see you documenting your sort of–Cuz you and I have a shared experience in terms of learning modern astrology first and then making this transition from modern astrology with many of its sort of presuppositions to going into more traditional forms of astrology and more predictive forms of astrology. And then as a result of that, sometimes being able to look at and know because we originally came from that perspective of modern astrologers who would make those very similar arguments against what we assumed or what we perceived traditional astrology to be but then suddenly standing on the other side of the fence and being able to see both the strengths but also the flaws in some of those arguments. And it’s interesting for you and I both to have that sort of shared experience. And then at some point, what will be interesting I think and surreal for us to witness I’m sure at some point in the future is we’re almost getting to the point where people could get into the field of astrology and learn traditional from the start. And so I’m sure there’s gonna be certain presumptions and certain positions and philosophical views that will be adopted or sort of established then or that certain people might come into the field with but then at some point might make a transition either into modern astrology or into some other form of astrology and then perhaps make similar critiques or have a different perspective from which to make critiques about whatever presumptions we had that we weren’t fully able to see.
AE: Yeah, absolutely. Personally, and I’m sure you feel the same way, I totally invite that. To me, that’s the meta talk I wanna be having within my community as practitioners.
CB: Yeah, definitely. And that’s very much what we’re doing here in sort of having this discussion. And I’m [unintelligible 0:38:23.27]
AE: I guess so. [laughs]
CB: Right. Yeah. But this is one of my favorite discussions I think I’ve had so far in the podcast in this series ironically almost on the 100th episode. So, yeah, I’m really glad we got a chance to have it.
AE: Yeah, this was really exciting. By the way, everybody who’s listening, let me tell you something. I had some really good horary teachers. But when I studied Hellenistic astrology, I took Chris’s course. And for people who are coming from a modern background–And I had a full practice and students and things like that. I wanna plug, Chris, your class because it’s such a fantastic course. And I spent almost I think it was like a year and a half going through it very carefully and slowly and poring over lecture several times and reading all of the reading. And it’s a rich class. And if people are coming, listening in this from a modern perspective and want something that feels sort of safe and inviting and yet accessible and not overly complicated, I really think Chris is doing our field disservice in how he’s presenting Hellenistic astrology as well as his new book which I’ll be using as supplementary reading material in my own courses because all of Chris’s work is outstanding. So I wouldn’t be here giving this talk if it weren’t for Chris’s work. So I’m really, really thankful for you, buddy.
CB: Thanks. I really appreciate that. And, in turn, I was really blown away by your talk for the Association for Young Astrologers the other day. So I don’t know if you’re selling that talk or if you will be if you have a recording of it. But I’d really recommend especially that if they did a recording of that webinar from the other night. It was just really brilliant. And we’ve attempted to cover many of the same points. But your presentation when it was more of a monologue was very powerful. And I like the way that you’re articulating and synthesizing some of these different approaches. So, do you have a recording of that? Or is that available somewhere?
AE: I don’t have a recording of it yet. Maybe the AYA will give me one, but I will definitely put it on my site. If so, yeah, I definitely feel like that this talk is–I’m hoping to possibly write some article proposals. Maybe I’ll try to formulate a proposal on this topic for The Mountain Astrologer. I’ve done some for them in the past. I feel like it might make an interesting article as well.
CB: Yeah, definitely. They’re actually asking me if I’d be interested in interviewing somebody coming up, so maybe this would be a good one to feature. But also more broadly, so you’re teaching courses. And you have an online course, and you’re gonna be very much presenting this perspective or all of these perspectives but also in like a practical context, right?
AE: Yeah, so it’s a year-long program. I have a second year program as well. The first year program meets once a week for about three hours on a week night on webinar, and we basically start with we go back over core concepts like planets, houses, signs, aspects. But we do so with a blend of traditional theory. And your book is actually going to become supplementary reading for certain portions of the class as I told you. And then as we go along, what we start doing is building a bridge into–The first six months of the course is really just straight-up traditional theory and predictive with an emphasis on predictive approach. And then we move in the second half of the class as we move into predictive techniques, transits and perfections and things like that. We bring in the outer planets, and we bring in the entire depth psychology paradigm. And we have live clients in the classroom and things like that so that we can try to bring some of the predictive approach and the psychological approach together. And every year it gets a little bit better. This is my second year doing it. But I think it’s a really fun class for people who wanna explore some kind of a bridge. A lot of my students in the program are actually, they’re coming to astrology brand new. So it’s actually interesting because I was anticipating a lot of people would come who had a modern background, but actually what I’m getting are people who have no background. So, for whatever reason, that seems to be the main clientele I’ve been attracting lately.
CB: Interesting. Yeah. It seems like you draw in a younger sort of audience sometimes especially through your–cuz you write a regular astrology column that’s very good and very evocative in terms of how you look at some of the symbolism of the current planetary lineups. A lot of people probably know you primarily through that at least initially, right?
AE: Yeah. Yeah. So I wrote a daily horoscope based on the–not like a Sun sign column but like tracking the planetary alignments more mundane forecasts, I guess. And I just kind of list out what’s going on every day. And, yeah, I would say probably people don’t read it every day. But I have readers that probably check in with it a few times a week, and it’s always there. So you can check that out on the homepage of my website or Facebook either way.
CB: And what’s your website again?
AE: Oh yeah, sorry. It’s www.nightlightastrology.com.
CB: Okay. And then the last thing that I like about your work is you were hosting through nightlightastrology.com some regular webinars for for quite a while. Are you gonna start those up again at some point or where are you at with that?
AE: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I host a seasonal speaker series. It had to shut down for fall and winter because we’re in the midst of relocating our yoga studio here in the DC area that my wife and I own. It’ll be starting back up in the spring. I’m hoping to get you on to do something to help promote your new book, and Shawn Nygaard will be with us hopefully talking about the Jupiter-Uranus transit. And I think Jenn Zahrt is gonna be on again doing something with astrocartography. Austin at some point is gonna come and do something on his. He has a new book on magic coming out, if I remember correctly. So, yeah, we have one where Demetri has been on and have a turnout of three speakers per season for like an hour and a half or two-hour lecture in the classroom space. And that’s open to the public. It’s free and donation-based, so people just come in. And then I sort of hound everybody to pitch in through PayPal for our speaker during the night.
CB: Okay. Brilliant. Yeah. And that’s a great series. I really admire what you’re doing with that. So people can check it out at nightlightastrology.com. And I’m trying to think, were there any other things that we meant to touch on before we wrap it up?
AE: No, I don’t think so. I guess one thing I should probably do and I always forget to do it, I wrote a book called Fishers of Men: The Gospel of an Ayahuasca Vision Quest. If you wanna read a book about–That’s really what got me started in astrology. So if anybody’s interested in that background of shamanism that I was talking about, you can find my book on Amazon if you search my name.
CB: Okay, brilliant. Great. Well, thanks a lot for joining me today. This is an awesome episode, and I think people are really gonna enjoy it. And it’ll be around for quite a while. And so thank you for joining me on what is essentially almost like the 100th episode.
AE: Oh yeah, I’m thrilled to be here. I am a big fan of your show. And I think probably almost every other class I teach, I refer somebody in my class to one of your episodes. So it’s exciting to be here.
CB: Awesome. Well, I appreciate it. People should check out your website at nightlightastrology.com. Thanks for joining me.
AE: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Chris.
CB: All right. Thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.