The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 73, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Demetra George
Episode originally released on April 27, 2016.
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released June 8, 2016
Copyright © 2016 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi. My name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This episode is recorded on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, starting at 1:30PM, in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 73rd 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 astrologer, Demetra George about her life and career in the field of astrology as part of a new series of biographical episodes that I’ve been planning for awhile. So let’s go ahead and get started. Demetra, welcome to the show.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Thank you, Chris.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Well, let’s start right from the beginning. We’re going to take this from the beginning of your life and then work our way into the present. So everybody knows you’re an astrologer, and you’re one of the most famous astrologers in the world. But I want to take it back to the start of your story for people that don’t know you very well, or maybe are familiar with your work but don’t know a lot about you or your history. Where do you come from? What’s your place of origin? And what’s your family background in terms of growing up and how you got started?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Well, I was born in Chicago, in 1946, and I was born into a Greek family. Both sets of grandparents had emigrated here from Greece in the 1900’s. As the families were much more nuclear-oriented in that area, it was my two grandmothers who were my primary caretakers. And as a consequence, my first language was Greek. And you have here what was my background in mythology. It started at the very beginning with my Greek yiayias telling me the stories of the Greek gods and goddesses as my bedtime stories.
However, because of circumstances and the early death of my father, by the time I was eight, my mother had remarried, and we were no longer living within the Greek subculture. And so, at that point, I had lost my knowledge of Greek and I was only speaking English, which I heard that they didn’t teach me English until I went to kindergarten at five. So that’s just an interesting mix of the languages somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain.
CHRIS BRENNAN: That’s really interesting in terms of how things turned out later. And so, you grew up learning and being told the stories of Greek mythology from a very early age.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. So instead of Cinderella and Snow White, I would hear about Athena, and Artemis, and Aphrodite, and Zeus.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And so, did you have any interest in astrology? Did you know anything about it during this period, or is that something that came in later?
DEMETRA GEORGE: No, I don’t think it came into my full awareness until I was in college. And I remember being an undergraduate and hearing that some upperclassmen that I knew of– I was in a college about 100 miles north of New York City– and once a week, they would get together and drive down to the city to take astrology classes. And I thought that was very interesting and very exotic. And they would come back saying, “Not only did we have these great classes, but she served us the most wonderful dinners, and we get a meal along with the class.” This would become what you’re calling now a “foreshadowing” another 10 years later, but at this point, this was my awareness of astrology.
I did go to an astrologer in Poughkeepsie for a reading, but I didn’t have my birth time. And it was about a 25-minute reading, and she just opened up her ephemeris while I was there and said some things, none of which really made all that much sense. So those were my two exposures to astrology during my college years.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And you were born in Chicago but you grew up in New York, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. After the age of six, I grew up in New York and primarily on Long Island.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And just for the sake of locating things chronologically, do you share your birth data?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Certainly. It’s out there on the internet, so it’s not a problem. It’s July 25, 1946, at 6:22AM, in Chicago, Illinois. And that’s the Central Standard Time. So 21 Leo rising is the correct ascendant.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So when we’re talking about you being in college, we’re talking about the early 1960’s at this point, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, 1964 to 1968.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So you’re in college. What’s your focus? What’s your career path at that point?
DEMETRA GEORGE: I’m a math major, and I fell in love with calculus during my freshman year of math. I remember the joy of sitting down with some sort of proof and going into that other alternative space for hours at a time, and then coming out of it with elegant equation that had been solved.
So I was in math. And by my sophomore year, I was tutoring freshman physics, and I had a trajectory either as a math teacher, or… Close by where my school was in New Paltz, in New York, was IBM starting up in Poughkeepsie, and there were many people looking toward careers at IBM upon graduation.
But several things happened. One was the ’60s and all of the revolutions on many levels that were happening at that time. And also, I had to take some liberal arts courses, and one of them was philosophy of science. And before I knew it, I ended up with a philosophy major after having completed all of the requirements with the math major.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay, so you switched from math to philosophy later in your college career?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, and my undergraduate degree was in philosophy.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And then, did you finish, or what happens at this point? So we’re getting towards the end of the 1960’s.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, we’re getting into the beginning of 1969. And I remember having just two more classes I needed to complete my degree, and my boyfriend was making plans to travel to Europe and India. And I didn’t want to be left behind, so I decided to go along with him on this journey and finish up my college later.
So in 1969, we, at the beginning of that year, set off on the Icelandic prop airplane that landed in Reykjavík and then went onto Europe. And before long, we found ourselves traveling to Istanbul, and then going over land across Turkey through Iran, spending many, many months in Afghanistan and into Pakistan. And that took up the better part of 1969. And as the money began to run out, in Pakistan, we decided to turn back and return to the United States.
But in retrospect, it’s been so interesting to that I traveled through all these lands where so much of our political history is happening now. In Pakistan, I went up into the tribal territory areas–where now Al-Qaeda has its centers and bin-Laden was hiding–and I have a picture of myself on top of the Khyber Pass. So it continues. I have an incredible interest in the peoples of that area, a huge love of the Afghanis. It was the most amazing experience I had during that time.
And in many ways, that trip completely changed my perspective of how I would come back and see the rest of the world and the rest of my life. Because previous to that I was 22, and I thought reality was the way I had grown up on Long Island. And I got to these other parts of the world where reality was like very, very different, and things that made logical sense in the West, things didn’t work that way in the East and no one there saw that as an aberration, or a problem.
One of the examples that I use that I still can’t sort out was going east across Afghanistan. Our trip was on an old bus, and it was mostly uphill, and it was during the daytime, and we stopped forever for chai stops, for tea stops. And the trip that we took between these two cities was 12 hours. And then coming back, the same leg of the journey was on a first class bus that went downhill, but didn’t stop at all at night, and it took 24 hours. And it was just like beyond me to understand the logic and things like that, but those were experiences we were encountering all the time.
So that kind of shift of multi-perspectives, of multi-realities of just the way you think this is the way it works here, doesn’t mean that that’s universal. That’s one of the most important pieces I carried back with me as I entered into my 20’s and had the rest of my life in front of me.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. So eventually, you guys decided to turn back, and by 1970, you’re back in the United States?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, at the very end of 1969, we’re back in the United States. Meanwhile, a number of our friends from our college town where we were living had traveled to the West and were living on a commune in Oregon. So that seemed like the next adventure to see what they were up to.
And so, it was in the winter of 1970 that I came to Oregon. They were living on some land up in the Siskiyou Mountains, in Southern Oregon that was leased from the BLM. And there were about 40 or 50 people, most of which I had gone to school with, and then a whole other era of my life started where that happened for the next four years.
And we were on a mountaintop without running water, or electricity, or telephones, or televisions, or radios, learning how to live in a pristine wilderness. When I arrived there was a library of maybe 500 books, many of which were metaphysical books. There were all kinds of astrology books, and books on the Theosophists, and the Indian sages, and the Tibetans, and psychic healing, and tarot. And so, this was the material that we were reading and discussing as we were chopping wood to cook dinner on the wood-burning stoves, and hauling water from the stream and boiling it with fire so we could scrub our clothes. And so, the lifestyle was incredibly close to the earth, unplugged from the rest of the world, but the intellectual discourse was in the whole realm of metaphysical subjects.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And this is the point where you started to get your first real exposure to astrology?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, there were maybe 20 books on astrology there. My second season, I knew I didn’t want to spend continuing to crochet patchwork afghans. I sort of laugh at myself because when I first arrived at the commune, my progression was in Taurus. And so, learning how to bake bread, and do patchwork quilting, and knit and crochet were like widely exciting. But as soon as my progressed Moon went into Gemini, that being my natal Moon, I was once again looking for the intellectual stimulation.
So I remember Llewellyn George’s book, A to Z Horoscope Maker and Delineator was there and I sat down with it. I was about five months pregnant then with my first child, and in a period of a few days, I taught myself how to erect a chart. And I was often running around casting charts and beginning to learn the language of astrology.
I was taking a correspondence course with the Rosicrucian Society at Oceanside–where I would get a lesson and do it and send it back and have it corrected–and beginning to read the charts of the people who were living on the commune. Our population ranged from 35 or 40 in the winter to over a hundred in the summertime. And so, there was a whole audience of people who were very happy to have me practice and to learn the art of chart reading on them.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And so, you’re learning astrology, you’re casting charts, you have the Llewellyn George book. Were there any other major books that were really influential that you were reading at this early stage?
DEMETRA GEORGE: I remember my child was born in January and sitting curled up in a rocking chair in front of a wood-burning stove, reading Rudhyar’s, The Astrology of Personality, Alice Bailey’s, Esoteric Astrology, and Llewellyn George. And then with my studies with the Rosicrucians, Max Heindel’s book was one of the books that we were using. So those are the four that I have my most vivid memories of.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So you take a correspondence course, and you’ve been on the commune for a few years. And then at some point, you’ve been doing astrology for awhile now, and you decide to venture out into the broader community and you attend your first conference.
DEMETRA GEORGE: I do, and that was in April of 1973. Rudhyar, who was my new hero was going to be speaking at a conference in San Francisco. So it wasn’t too far to drive, so my husband and I and our new baby got in the old pickup truck and drove down to San Francisco.
And I remember walking into the conference on a Friday evening–and I sometimes tell this story and I laugh–I was dressed up in my hippy vest, with my long hair braided and flowered. And I get into this lobby and I see all these other women in suits with high heels and fingernail polish, and my Leo rising cringes realizing that I’m not quite dressed appropriately for the occasion.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. Is this an AFA conference?
DEMETRA GEORGE: It was called NASO, and it was sponsored by Henry Weingarten and Barbara Somerfield, who were from New York City. But they were having it at some college campus building, I think it was maybe Lone Mountain College, in San Francisco.
CHRIS BRENNAN: That’s a funny cultural difference though in terms of when you look at pictures of old conferences, from like the 1940’s and ’50s, they’re all dressed up in tuxedos, and nice ballroom dresses, and stuff like that.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, definitely. That was it. And I was coming out of the commune. I thought well anyone who’s into astrology, of course, has to be part of this New Age. And then, having that experience, oh well, maybe not. Like what world have I walked into.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. So did you meet other young astrologers there? Were there other people that were more from your age? It’s interesting because 1968, you have Linda Goodman’s book coming out and becoming the biggest selling astrology book of all time. I guess that kind of straddles the division between like a New Age book and something that’s more just a pop astrology book. But you would think that at that point, so many more people are getting into astrology and are excited about it that you would see more of a mix by the early 1970’s.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Friday night’s note speakers were Rudhyar and Gauquelin.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: And the rest of the conference I was not able to attend because I had this year-old baby who was not doing very well, even for one night being without me. And so, it was okay, well I got to go to this and had to be happy with that exposure. So I didn’t have the opportunity to really network, or to meet a lot of other people who were there.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: But the formative moment of that conference was walking into the lobby, not knowing anyone, and there being a friendly-looking woman, standing to the side of me, that I moved toward as she smiled and engaged me in conversation. And that woman turns out to be Eleanor Bach, who was responsible for having published the first asteroid ephermeris.
They had just been published three weeks ago, and she had copies of the book in her course. And as she spoke to me, she found out that my name was Demetra, which is my grandmother’s name. And Demeter was the Greek equivalent of the Latin-named goddess Ceres, who was the first asteroid discovered and was the goddess that Eleanor was crazy to know about where it was in her chart. And that’s what spurred her for years to get an astronomer to compute the ephemerides, so she could find out where Ceres was in her chart–you have to remember this was way before computers–and she found out that Ceres is on her Ascendant, which totally redeems her quest.
But anyway, when Eleanor found out my name was Demetra, the asteroid Ceres was opposite my Sun, I lived on a commune where we were growing organic vegetables, she said to me, “I think you should have a copy of my book,” and she gave me the book. Years later, I found out that she was the astrologer that my friends in college had been going to study with and been having dinner with.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Oh, wow. So this was the person that everybody was driving down to New York City to take classes with?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. So I got to meet her, but a number of years later. Let’s see, that was in 1965, and I met her in 1973 about seven or eight years later on the other side of the country.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And so, she just gave you this book for free basically. And this is probably I’m guessing one of the first times you’re really hearing about the asteroids, or you’re even considering it, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. The first time, because I had been quite isolated out on the commune, in the wilds of Southern Oregon. And then, I couldn’t go to the rest of the conference because of my young child. We returned to Oregon, and I just started doing the asteroids in the charts because this really nice lady, the only person who would talk to me at the conference gave me the book.
And the only explanations about them were these small paragraphs she had in her book. No one had researched them yet because the ephemerides had just been available like within the last month of her publishing the book. And so, when I would see the asteroids show up in the charts I was doing, I would say I don’t really know what this means, but let me just tell you the story. And of course, the stories were already inside of me from my childhood.
So as I began to tell the stories, the people would say, “Oh my goodness. You’ve just told me the story of my life.” And what I began to see–and this became the basis for all of the asteroid work that followed–that when a planetary body is significantly placed in the skies at the moment that the person is born, the mythological story of the god or goddess, who shares the same name as that planet becomes an overriding theme in the person’s life.
And people began to recognize what they previously had seen as unrelated incidences falling into the pattern of the mythic story, and that their life was an expression of these larger archetypal dramas–that are the different stories, the plays, the scripts–that humanity has available through which to live all our lives. So that revelation started to come about in the years after Eleanor had given me the book, and I started working with the asteroids from the mythic perspective. But once again, I had no idea what was going on in the larger astrological community because we didn’t have any media happening there, and I didn’t do any traveling again for awhile.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So basically, during the second half of the 1970’s, you’re pretty much focused on continuing to do astrological research and consultations, and especially focusing on the asteroids and researching those, but you’re largely in isolation for several years?
DEMETRA GEORGE: By 1974, we left the commune and lived briefly in Portland. And while I was in Portland, Oregon, I took my first formal astrology classes with a teacher and with a group, and Virginia Dayan was my primary teacher at the Portland Astrology Center there. This is where I also met Diana Stone and Mark Robertson–a brilliant Seattle astrologer who died way too young–was another important figure teaching at that school. So I had some external contact.
And everyone there was quite surprised about the asteroids because they hadn’t made too much of an impression yet, although Zip Dobyns was working with them, as was Emma Bell Donath in the community. But from what I gathered, most of the regular community had dismissed them as “orbiting gravel” I think they were called and marginalized their importance. But because I wasn’t connected with the larger community, I didn’t have that filter of dismissing them.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And so, during that time, you work out this system in terms of how to determine which asteroids would become more prominent and which stories would become more prominent, and then also, how to deliver that information, or present it as a delineation by focusing on the mythological story of that asteroid and the names associated with them.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. And it was during this time, I studied with Zip Dobyns and went to her intensives in Montana, connected with her children, Maritha Pottenger and Mark Pottenger, who were also very involved with their mother’s work on the asteroids. Al Morrison and Lee Lehman then released ephemerides for another seven or eight minor asteroids, that by this time, I was plugged in enough to be able to receive them and put those in a chart. And I was teaching local astrology classes and starting to give some local presentations on the asteroids.
Another important figure during this time was Tony Joseph, who was working out of San Francisco with mythic astrology and the asteroids. And I had attended a few more conferences in the late ’70s, early ’80s that Tony had produced in San Francisco and was beginning to make more connections within the community.
I remember, I’m guessing, it was 1980-81 that I attended a conference put on by Stephen Arroyo in the Bay Area, and by this time I had a whole body of information about the asteroids–it was really exciting. It had been eight or nine years that I had been working with them at this point. And I had a conversation– Arroyo had a publishing company–with one of his editors, and I said, “What should I do next with all this information?” And he said, “Well really, you need to write a book.” He said, “You can keep giving lectures, but the only people that are going to hear you are the four, or five, or six people that show up. Once you have a book then you can reach a wider audience.” So that gave me the realization that writing had to happen. At that time, I had also met Douglas Bloch in Eugene, who was a wonderful writer, who was excited about the project, and was enthusiastic about collaborating with me, taking what I had to say and putting it into whole sentences.
When we completed the manuscript–I sent it to Stephen Arroyo’s company–and they returned it saying, “Well this is interesting, but no one here has any idea what asteroids are about, so we can’t evaluate it at all.” And at that point, I sent it to ACS, the publishing company that Neil Michelsen ran because Maritha was one of his editors, and I had met Maritha through my attendance at her mother’s intensives. And she read the manuscript, and she said, “This is wonderful. We want to publish it. We don’t think we’re going to sell out of the first printing because no one’s interested in asteroids. But we think it’s a worthwhile thing to publish, so we’ll take it on.”
And the publication was done, the books were ready in June of 1986, one week before UAC. And in that interim, there were some cancellations at UAC and Neil Michelsen asked me if I would be willing to give a talk on the asteroids. I couldn’t get paid or anything but there was an opening, and I said, “Certainly.” And so, that’s how we launched Asteroid Goddesses.
I remember Douglas and I went to the conference and we had a trade table, and we offered free, mini-asteroid readings along with stacks of our books. And lots and lots of people came, and we put the asteroids in their chart and spoke five or six minutes about them, and then directed them to the bookstore. And Douglas has always been the marketing and business wiz of my book operation was thrilled that in that UAC, over 10% of the people who attended it walked home with a copy of Asteroid Goddesses.
CHRIS BRENNAN: What percent?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Over 10%.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. Wow. And this is a huge conference because this is the first time…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah, this is the very first UAC.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah, so then Asteroid Goddesses is launched, and also, my career as an astrologer officially gets launched as well.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Got it. So things really take off. And just to back up a minute, so you started writing Asteroid Goddesses in 1980-1981, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, and I completed the manuscript in 1984. Douglas had a health issue for about a year, so he was out of commission. And we had a remarkably wonderful writing relationship because he was able to understand what I was trying to say, and then put it in a language that actually expressed that thought. And I learned to write from Douglas. He would do a word-by-word, line-by-line editing of my sentences, and then I’d have to go back into the computer and rewrite them. And in that process, I began to see how sentences and paragraphs were constructed and how one kept a structure and cohesion of things.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And he’s been somebody that you’ve worked with on all of your books at this point, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, in one way or another, he’s been an element. So Asteroid Goddesses is published, it’s 1986. My children are in grade school now, both of them, and I’m thinking that I need to have a real job, and that maybe my debt to astrology has been completed with this book. So I have this idea of becoming a computer programmer, as some of my friends in San Francisco were now doing and making great money.
And I knew that I had the mind, with a math background, so I took examinations and I passed them fine and I applied to computer school and got accepted. And I was walking out of the bank with my financial loan papers in my hand and walked smack into a glass wall, and got a brain concussion and was unable to start this program of staring at computer screens, nine hours a day for the next nine months. So the computer career rapidly fell apart, and in the interim, Douglas and I began writing Astrology for Yourself that then was published a year later.
CHRIS BRENNAN: In 1987?
DEMETRA GEORGE: In 1987. And initially, we published that book as a self-published venture. We had one of those old dot matrix printer–that we put on, but really did print–and I did all of the graphics on simple MacDraw programs.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
DEMETRA GEORGE: For us, one of our funniest stories is that we’re photocopying 250 pages at Kinkos, collating it, and he’s gone to get our covers from someone else who printed them and bring them back to Kinkos, so we can bind them up. But that sealer wasn’t put on the covers and all the ink is smudging and smearing all over the place.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Oh, no.
DEMETRA GEORGE: So then, we had to take all the covers out to the Kinkos parking lot with fixative spray and we’re spraying them, and running back inside and getting the stuff off the copying machines and bringing them to the binder machine. At the end of a very crazy day, we have 250 copies of our new book. And a few days later, we pack them into the boxes and go to San Francisco to do some lectures and see if we could sell the books.
CHRIS BRENNAN: The 1980’s was, on the one hand, I’m sure, a very exciting time in terms of self-publishing and stuff, it was kind of a dark time for typography in books with some of those dot matrix printers.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, I know. So I give a talk one night and I sell five or six copies of the book and that’s exciting. And Douglas calls me early the next morning and he says, ” I just realized Bookpeople Distributing Company was in the Bay Area, and they also have this small publishing house. So why don’t you call them up and see if they’re interested in distributing our book.” I said, “Okay.”
So I called them up, and I said, “Hi, blah, blah, blah.” And they said, “Oh yeah, we know all about your book, and we’re interested in publishing it.” And I go, “How do you know about our book?” “Oh, someone who works for us was at your talk last night and they brought it back to the office. And we’re all standing around it ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing” And so, can we be your publishers?” And we go, “Sure!”
CHRIS BRENNAN: And what publisher was this?
DEMETRA GEORGE: This was Wingbow. That was the publishing arm of Bookpeople Distributors, who was then servicing all of the metaphysical and New Age books around the country.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So they pick it up that same year in 1987?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. And then, that gets published within the year.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And was that a successful book? How did it go?
DEMETRA GEORGE: It’s been our most successful book of everything that I’ve written, I think even that…Douglas has written another 20 books of his own. Not on astrology topics, but on affirmations, and self-help, and healing, and mental illness and things. But of all of our books, Astrology for Yourself has been the most consistent bestseller through the more than 30 years that it’s been around.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. And currently, I think it’s published by Ibis Press, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, it is. And it was a workbook on how to interpret your own chart as a program text and filling in the blanks. And this was another brilliant idea of Douglas’ in collaboration with Wingbow. He found out who was teaching astrology all over the country, and then had Wingbow send these teachers free copies of our book. And with that began to implant the book as being the major teaching tool for astrology teachers whom we’ve gotten wonderful feedback from over the years, that it totally accelerated their students’ learning capacities in the study of the subject.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, it’s really unique and stands out in that regard. It’s an actual workbook where you fill in the blanks about your own chart, rather than just being something that’s entirely exposition.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. And I remember once giving a talk somewhere in the Midwest, and when I went around the group asking, well, who are you, what is your interest in astrology, there were two Catholic nuns that were there. And I said, “What are you doing here?” And one of them said, “Oh, well I got a copy of your book, Astrology for Yourself, and I’ve been doing the charts of all of the nuns in our convent.” So that was another beautiful thing to see how far out it went.
We began to receive letters from people in prison hearing about our book and asking if we could send them copies. And I don’t know, in the course of my life, maybe 50 or more books I’ve personally sent out to requesting prisons. That word went around different prisons that you could get this astrology book that was like very cool. And then, we went back sometimes, get their data and send them charts.
So that book has had a wonderful life. I also heard it made its way to the Eastern Bloc countries before the Wall came down. And they were making handwritten copies of it in the Ukraine and other parts of Russia while the Wall was still up. So it’s had like a remarkable life in many different areas.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And did that reaffirm your commitment that you could make it in that career, after almost becoming a programmer? Or, where were you at in terms of commitment to astrology as a full-time career at that point?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Well, you know, well I never thought, “Oh, I want to become an astrologer. And how do I go about doing this?” It was just something that happened to me. And I grew up with it along with raising my children, and at a certain point, I was receiving requests for readings and realizing, oh, I was actually generating an income that was helping me pay my expenses. And then, I don’t know if there was any point that I said, “Oh, I guess I’m like a professional astrologer now,” but it was just something that was in fact what I was doing.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. Okay. But this begins a pretty decent stretch of maybe the busiest part of your career, from the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s, where it seems like you were very active and did a lot of consulting, and teaching, and conferences, and things like that, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, quite a bit. Invitations came to teach all over the world. And because the astrological community was still ambivalent about the asteroids, the women’s spirituality community was wide open to them. I did a lot of work in that area as well, using the format of Astrology for Yourself for people who did not know astrology, would never become astrologers, but were curious about how the Goddess archetypes influenced and impacted their lives. And that was the heyday of the Goddess movement, and so, a lot of my work went out into the larger community.
I understood that trying to condense these astrologers at the top to integrate the asteroids almost seemed futile at a certain point, because they had their system and it worked for them and they didn’t need anything else to clutter and confuse it. But I also understood that if I disseminated the material at the grassroots then all of these people would eventually be going to astrologers saying, “Hey, what about the asteroids in my chart?” and that’s what would motivate them to give them a second look. So it was working sort of from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. And so, the work was really widespread going way beyond the astrological community itself.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. But this wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was really much more of a gradual…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, it was a gradual thing. And then, all the tours to the sacred sites in the Mediterranean started happening in the early ’90s.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And what was that?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Well, having another business as a tour leader and creating itineraries to the sacred sites in Greece and having people come on these trips–and having their charts with all the asteroids of the gods and goddesses of the sites that we traveled to in their charts, and doing ritual work around that–became another way of disseminating the material and connecting back with my roots in classical antiquity.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So you start to bring together some of those different pieces again for things like that.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah. And I’ve done, since the 1990’s, probably 15-18 tours to Greece, and some of those included Turkey. I did astrological tours to Egypt, to India, and this past year, to Italy. So it’s also integrating the mythic dimension of astrology with place, with history, with archaeology, with meditation.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So you’re doing those tours, and then by 1992, you released another book, Mysteries of the Dark Moon. And what was the focus of that?
DEMETRA GEORGE: That was a book that was published by HarperCollins. It wasn’t an astrology book, per say, but all of it came out of my astrological studies, and that was looking at the dark phase of the Moon and cyclic process. And I explored it from a mythic point of view, a psychological point of view, a spiritual point of view of the dark phase being one of closure and transition/renewal.
And then that was followed by Finding Our Way Through the Dark, which was the astrology that was connected with mysteries of the Dark Moon, that looked into the 12th house, and the Dark Goddess asteroids, and the progressed lunation cycle, and the progressed Dark Moon phase. And also the nodes. I think there is a little bit of eclipses. And that was also set up as a workbook as well.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So this was like a specific phase during the early to mid-1990’s, where you’re focusing on a certain set of topics almost.
DEMETRA GEORGE: It was. The mandala of the Asteroid Goddesses all arise from the Moon as laying underneath them, the Moon being the essence of the feminine principle and the asteroids being the main differentiations of that. And so, it seemed to me that looking at the base, the ground of the feminine, which is the Moon, that she deserved her own treatments.
CHRIS BRENNAN: So this is like the culmination in some sense of a lot of that work I think that you’ve called before your ‘Goddess’ phase?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So by this point, we’re getting into the mid-1990’s, and you’d been thinking about going back to school possibly for awhile, I guess initially maybe through that other career as a programmer, but decided not to follow through with it. But then some other stuff started happening that made you reconsider that again, or maybe there were some events that happened prior to that maybe we should touch on first.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Well, I always thought about going back to school because I have a Gemini moon and going to school is like the most fun thing I can think of doing. And it seems at that point, of course, modern, humanistic, psychological astrology was what was happening; it was the main kind of astrology. And there was a lot of emphasis on counseling astrology and of having the proper skills and credentials to be able to do that. So that was in the back of my mind of trying to get those credentials.
And I was living, at this point, on the Oregon coast since 1974-75 and raising my children. And there was a brief opportunity when maybe I was going to move to Eugene with my daughter and enroll at the University of Oregon and sent out some initial query letters. But then that didn’t work out and that wasn’t going to happen, and we were still going to remain on the coast. So there was a notion of that that didn’t really come to any kind of fruition, and I’m thinking that must have been around 1989.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay, and then there was a similar foreshadowing with some of the Hellenistic stuff that started happening around like 1992-1993, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, and for me, this continues to be one of the mind-boggling experiences of my life. On one of the trips to Greece, I had met a woman who had done psychotherapy and regression, and I was really impressed with the groundedness of who she was and her work. So in April of 1993, I was in New York–my mother lived in New York, and so I was there every year at least once or more to visit her–but I decided to make an appointment and to have this regression. And my question was like why I had forgotten my knowledge of the Greek language, and what I might have to do to reclaim it.
And having come off now two or three tours to Greece, you have these fantasies, “Oh, I’m going to go into a past life and be like a priestess from Delphi.” But what happened instead is the sequence of images that came to me was of this young girl born on the west coast of the British Isles, during the 1600’s. And her grandfather was like a celestial navigator, and he created charts for the navigators to use based on stellar positions. And through his influence, I got some education at a nearby abbey where I learned Latin and Greek. And this must have been before Henry shut all the abbeys down because there were some that were apparently still open.
And then I ended up as a young woman being in some city, being involved in the translation of astrological texts from Latin and Greek into English. And my life was just like sitting in this room, having a family, and having a husband, and just whenever I could, working on translating, and that was the end of the regression. And I said, “Well that was really interesting. But what does that have to do with anything?”
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right, because it had no relevance to your present life.
DEMETRA GEORGE: But it was revealed like very quickly. From New York, I went to Boston to teach for the NCGR, and on the coffee table of my hostess was Rob Hand’s first pamphlet on Arhat with a retrieval of the ancient text. And I go, “Oh, isn’t this interesting. Like this is just what I went through the last two days ago.”
CHRIS BRENNAN: So this is literally the same month right after you had the regression.
DEMETRA GEORGE: This is like in less than a week. This is like three days later.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: And then, I finished my teachings in Boston and flew directly to NORWAC to be part of the conference there. And that was the conference at which Rob Hand and Robert Schmidt formally announced Project Hindsight, and they asked for subscribers. And so, I went, “Oh, I guess I have some sort of connection here.” And so, I said, “Okay, I’ll subscribe to your project,” and it turned out that I was the very first subscriber to the project.
So at that moment, the themes of the regression were manifesting within two weeks of making a connection with what would then become like the next major thing in my life. It wouldn’t actually happen for awhile yet, but that was the inception point.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And you became literally the first subscriber to this translation project that was just starting at that time.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Which then hundreds of other astrologers would subsequently subscribe to, and it would become this big community effort. But you just happened to, because of that motivation of just having that regression, went and sign up right away.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Exactly.
CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. And that’s something that was just getting going at that point. So they announced it at NORWAC in May of 1993, and then they also would start publishing some of those translations that you would then receive, and then they’d start having conferences, or conclaves over the next few years, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. And I, like everyone else at the time were excited to get the publications. But when we opened them up, we had no idea of what they were saying even though they were in English. They might as well have been Greek all the sense that they made to us. And the conclaves were really exciting. But again, it was like a completely different language altogether.
This was the mid-1990’s, I was still very much involved with the asteroids, the myths, the feminist material. But I remember right in this time period, there was an AFA conference in Chicago–I think it was 1994–and that was the first time that I met Zoller, Robert Zoller. And in some conversation we had afterwards at a gathering, when he found out I was an astrologer and I hadn’t read Claudius Ptolemy, he started screaming at me that I should be ashamed of myself. How could any self-respecting astrologer call themselves that and not read Ptolemy?
It was like a shock to me of getting a barrage of that kind of scolding and shaming, negative energy from someone I had just met. Afterwards, we realized, oh, that’s just typical of Zoller’s personality, but it definitely made an impression. Here now, we’re going to some conclaves being aware of the translations that are coming out through Project Hindsight, developing some friendships with Robert Schmidt, with Ellen Black, with Robert Zoller, with Rob, who had always been one of my heroes in terms of following his lead.
And by the mid- to late-1990’s, my children were grown, and they were in their own lives, and I had been waiting for the opportunity to go back to school, and now, it seemed like it was time. And so, I wasn’t ready to leave Oregon, but the University of Oregon was in Eugene. So I moved from the Oregon coast to Eugene and enrolled in the Classics program, because at that point, I still thought I would be teaching mythological interests.
I felt I had almost reached a platform of having gone as far as I could in my studies in mythology, and I needed more skills, and tools, and resources, and the Classics department seemed like it was the closest to that. So I enrolled in the summer of 1997, and then it was, well, the requirements for this degree are you have to learn to read Latin and Greek; this is just what we do here. I said, okay. And so, that then started me on the process of learning the ancient languages.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So you literally, from scratch at that point, learned Latin and ancient Greek. And even given having learned modern Greek as a child and then forgetting it, even that would be no help in terms of learning ancient Greek, because they’re so different, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. And that’s true, they’re completely different. But also remember, in the regression, “What do I have to do to get my knowledge of the language back?” And now, like 15 years later, I am in graduate school learning the language. So again, that was another kind of foreshadowing of that regression.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. And that was a little bit haphazard on some level in that you wanted to go back to school and you wanted to focus on mythology. And so, you asked what would it take in order to do that, and they said classics…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right.
CHRIS BRENNAN: …and so, you were like, “Okay, sign me up for that.” But maybe at the beginning, you didn’t realize the full enormity of what it was going to entail in order to get a classics degree, right? Or did you, in terms of having to learn all those languages?
DEMETRA GEORGE: I didn’t realize how hard learning all those languages was going to be, and what a huge commitment and total focus and energy it would entail.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
DEMETRA GEORGE: I had no idea of the enormity of what I was signing up for. But because I love being a student, it was a thrilling adventure at the same time.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And you focused on that, and this also takes you back so that you end up focusing a lot more on history, and learning the history of ancient astrology and things like that at the same time.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Well, what I’m learning, what my other courses are, are of course ancient Greek history, ancient Roman history, historiography. I started taking a lot of ancient Greek and Roman art classes and just the general requirements of the classics degree.
And when I was asked–before I was accepted as a graduate student–what my motivation was, I said, “Oh, just personal enrichment.” I didn’t have any illusions. My advisor said, “We don’t offer a Ph.D program here.” And I said, “That’s fine. I don’t want a Ph.D. ” He says, “So you’re not thinking that you’re going to take this degree and go out and get a job as a professor in academia?” I said, “No, that’s not my program. I just want to do this because I want to do this.”
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
DEMETRA GEORGE: And he said, “Great. That’s a good thing to hear because I don’t want to give you any illusions about anything else at this point.”
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
DEMETRA GEORGE: So that’s how it started. And I remember the first year being relatively quiet about my astrological interests, just taking everything that I knew and sort of putting it on the shelf, and completely emptying my mind to receiving what was being taught. And I had heard stories of other astrologers going into graduate programs, and once they found out they were astrologers, they began to have a difficult time with being marginalized by their professors. So I thought I will just hold that private. But by the second year, enough of my fellow classmates had figured out what I was doing and it trickled to my faculty members who were okay with it. Again, I’m so curious that all of this is going on, as the transit of Neptune is opposing my Sun. It’s hardly seems like under a Neptune transit, I would be doing this intense language learning, but that was what was happening.
Kepler College had gotten its authorization. They were looking for teachers. They had heard on the grapevine that I would have a Master’s degree in a few years in Classics, which was the right kind of degree for their first-year history program, and they asked me if I would consider joining their faculty when I got my degree. So this was like totally amazing. I had no idea that when I went into the program that this was anywhere a possibility for me.
But once I let my professor know that I had a job waiting for me, they were so wildly enthusiastic because part of the success of their program is to place their students. So they said, “Okay, we’ve got to get you ready for this.” So everyone came onboard to support my writing–whatever paper I had to write about–of focusing it on the history and transmission of the ancient sciences of astrology, of astronomy, so that I could start developing the background to be able to teach what I would be expected to. So much of the lessons that I gave at Kepler College on the history of ancient astrology were developed under the supervision of my academic professors who helped me be clear around the sources, and the verification, and the arguments, and all of that. So it was such an amazingly fortunate experience that I had.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And it was something unique because that was one of the reasons Kepler contacted and would have been interested in you. Because you would have been one of the few people in the community to have a Master’s degree–there are even fewer people with Ph.Ds–and also have that background in the history and transmission of astrology, especially in the classical period.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah.
CHRIS BRENNAN: So you do that. Eventually as part of your Master’s thesis, you do a translation of a Byzantine text, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. Manuel I Komnenos was a Byzantine emperor who was an advocate of astrology. He was in the 12th century, which was just when all of the translations were coming into Southern Spain from the Arab world and being translated. So he was a part of that larger movement.
And there was a monk who complained to the patriarch, “Hey, our emperor is into astrology and this against the Bible and religion. And don’t you think you should do something about it?” So when the patriarch approached him, Manuel decided to write a Christian defense of astrology, that then had its reputation by one of his arch-enemies, another theologian, Michael Glycas. But these two texts had never been translated into English or into any other language beside their original composition in ancient Byzantine Greek. So that’s what I translated for my thesis work.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And that was accepted and you got your Master’s…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right.
CHRIS BRENNAN: …and that was also published in Culture and Cosmos, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Mm-hmm. And now, I see it being included in academic bibliographies and footnoted in academic books. And I’m sure those individuals have no idea who I am or what my background is, but somehow, it’s made its way into the world of academic footnotes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure, which is a very wide world.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay, so you get your Master’s degree, and pretty much immediately Kepler happens to open at the same time.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. I graduate in June of 2000, and Kepler opens its doors in July of 2000.
CHRIS BRENNAN: So it’s just like this miraculous sort of coincidence that you’re in the right place, with the right training and degree, and then that’s right when Kepler starts. And Kepler itself was like this 10-year project that had been building up since the late ’80s and early ”90s. But they incorporated in 1992, which is itself interesting because that’s the same time that Project Hindsight started and a lot of the other stuff that we were talking about earlier. Your regression was not far after that in 1993. So Kepler then after many years of trying to build up and create an accredited school for astrology actually opens in the summer of 2000.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Mm-hmm.
CHRIS BRENNAN: So you were one of the main faculty during that first class of students?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, it was Rob Hand, and Nick Campion, and myself who started the first-year history program. And Lee Lehman also, by the latter part of that year, became one of the team members.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And that first year was entirely teaching the students the history of astrology, from the ancient period all the way up through modern times?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So you’re teaching the first class of students, the school year is divided into three parts. And in the middle of each of these three semesters, all of the students would fly out to Seattle, and all the teachers, in order to meet for like a week of lectures and intensives, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Mm-hmm. And those were amazing, amazing events, where there was such a coming together in such an intense way of the learning of our history and tradition. I remember the very first symposium. We hadn’t done it before; we didn’t have like any boundaries. I remember Rob being like so thrilled that he could teach as long as he wanted the stuff that he was wildly interested in. It was like 10:30 at night and we were still in the classroom.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right, so this isn’t just some short conference, 75-minute lectures. This is…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, right. Everybody would gather after hours and keep talking about what we had learn and discussing it until the wee hours of the morning, then we’d start all over again. It was really exciting and stimulating and one of the peak experiences of the career.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. So towards the end of that first school year, you’re completing the last semester of the first year of Kepler students–it’s the spring of 2001–and they decide to have this symposium, where everybody flies out for the third term, the final semester of that year. At the very end of it, they all fly out for the symposium, and they have it coincide with the annual conference that takes place every year in Seattle, which was the Northwest Astrology Conference, in May of 2001, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And I’ve heard this story from a few different perspectives, but this ended up being a pivotal event, again, in your career, as well as for many other people. I guess I could let you tell the story. But you and the Kepler students, you finished the symposium and now it’s after that, and you guys have transitioned into attending this astrology conference. And all the Kepler students are attending lectures during the course of the week for this annual conference, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Uh-huh. And Project Hindsight sends their representatives to have a booth, a table, in the trade show. And Alan White was there, I think Bill Johnson was there, and one or two other people whose names I can’t recall. And I had met both Bill and Alan at previous conclaves that had happened in the mid-1990’s, and I may have even seen them at a UAC that was somewhere in the middle of that.
But then they show up, “Hi, great to see you! We didn’t know that you’d be here.” They set up their Project Hindsight booths, and then they start talking Hellenistic astrology, and Alan offers to give a free, after hours lecture on Friday night. And so, our students are saying to us, “Well, what’s this Hellenistic astrology stuff about?” And I’m going, “Ohhh, yeah. We’ve been teaching you about the history of astrology in the ancient time period. But there’s all this work that’s being done now in the translation and reconstruction of it.”
So a number of us went to Alan’s lecture and we were just like simply blown away. It was so amazing. And they announced that Robert Schmidt would be giving a week-long intensive in Cumberland, Maryland the following month. And I realized that I had to go to it, partially because I couldn’t be teaching at Kepler and having my students ask me about this and not knowing what say to them, but also, because I was a supporter of Hindsight. And in the intervening years of my college focus, I had blocked out a lot of my astrological connections because I just couldn’t do both. So it was also to reconnect and to see what Bob had done with the materials from the last time I had a chance to speak with him.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And the other funny thing about the lecture is the way it occurred. A part of it was that you were all at the bar one night, and Alan was sort of spouting off about Hellenistic astrology in this really gruff, former Army, ex-military guy type style, and everybody encouraged him to give a lecture about it. And then, he pulls out this famous flip chart…
DEMETRA GEORGE: And the flip chart…
CHRIS BRENNAN: …right, which has a bunch of diagrams that he’s made that are kind of quirky, but pack a lot of information about some of the core principles of Hellenistic astrology. So he gives this impromptu lecture. He’s not scheduled to give his own talk, and there’s no other talks on Hellenistic astrology at this conference, but he gives this impromptu talk with this flip chart that he pulls out of nowhere, in an empty room. And all of the Kepler students are dazzled and ask you if this is something that’s going to be taught in upcoming courses at Kepler. And at that point it was not, or it wouldn’t have been at that point, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. At this point, it was not on the curriculum.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Because it really hadn’t even been anything yet. I mean, Rob was in the process of translating these texts, but it wasn’t as if it was an area of astrology that had been presented at lectures and conferences, and so on. It was still totally new in the making.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. And it seems like one of the other issues that I keep hearing from different astrologers that were in the community at that time, in the mid-’90s, was that there was a lot of excitement, a lot of support of Project Hindsight when it first came out, and everybody subscribed to the subscription service. But then you get the translations and they’re so radically different from the way that astrology is practiced today, and the technical terminology is so foreign that you almost couldn’t do anything with it, that you needed like a translator to translate the translation.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Exactly.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Or in some instances, some of the guys that were translating it were very good at talking astrology at a very high level, but sometimes, they needed translators. And in some way, that’s the role that Alan served in that lecture. Suddenly, you guys got a lecture that had all of the core principles of Hellenistic astrology in this really concise, understandable fashion, in 2001, so I’m sure that would have been really appealing. So you decide to go out there that summer for that intensive the very next month?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. Before I get to that, I just want to say, remember, a year or two before that, I went from being so frustrated with Rob. I said, “Okay, Rob. But what does this mean? How do you use it in a chart? Like why aren’t you telling us that as subscribers?” And he would say, “We don’t know what it means yet. We’re just like discovering what it is that’s in the text. Give us a break here.”
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah, so in July of 2001, I go to Cumberland, I go to the week-long intensive. And I sometimes say in that week, my whole astrology career totally crumbled like a house of cards.
CHRIS BRENNAN: So this was the Einstein intensives at Project Hindsight?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah. And I realized that I would need to totally rebuild the foundation of my own astrological understanding in the process.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure.
DEMETRA GEORGE: But it was like wonderful that it really entailed starting all over again from the very beginning. And even, you know, Bob talking at that point–he was doing the Einstein intensives–there were concepts floating about that he had no idea what they were. I remember this is where I first met Nick Dagan Best, and he had attended the intensive that had been given two weeks before, and he was still at the house for the second one. And during the breaks I would say, “Nick, what did he just say?”
CHRIS BRENNAN: So this is Robert Schmidt who’s the principal founders of Project Hindsight. And at that point, after splitting up with Robert Zoller–originally he was part of the project, leaving in the mid-90s, and then Robert Hand leaving in 1997-1998. So this is now 2001, and Robert Schmidt has done enough of the translations that he thinks he’s got a preliminary reconstruction of the system together of how Hellenistic astrology was practiced.
And so, he’s presenting it by doing this weekend-long workshop where he throws all of the techniques at one chart, the chart of Albert Einstein. And this is evidently impressive enough and interesting enough to you that you feel like you have to really reorient your entire approach to astrology in order to incorporate this information, which you want to incorporate but you realize it’s gonna involve reconstructing your ideas of astrology from the ground up.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Absolutely. And the exciting part is thinking what a fortunate time to be born in. That for the first time in 2,000 years, we have access to the ways that our tradition was originally conceptualized and can see it in practice, that no other astrologers have had this access in the interim, like all of this stuff at once. And what a shame to be an astrologer now and not learn what our own tradition is all about, and how fortunate to have the opportunity to do so. And I guess after having gone through the incredible process of learning the ancient languages, it was like, okay, looks like more of the same, yet another language.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure, and that’s a really interesting point that’s kind of ironic or interesting, that you could go through and study the history of ancient astrology really deeply and get your Master’s thesis. And yet, in terms of understanding the practice of ancient astrology that, on some level, is almost a much different thing than just studying the history…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Absolutely.
CHRIS BRENNAN: …but studying and understanding the actual techniques is a little bit different of a beast.
DEMETRA GEORGE: So that happened in July. We go back for a second year at Kepler and we’re at the fall symposium, and Cathy Coleman had just come on as the new Kepler president. And Dennis Harness was invited as the guest lecturer for that term, because in the winter term, Dennis was slated to teach Vedic astrology. And I’m saying, we’ve got to put Hellenistic astrology on our curriculum. I said it’s ridiculous to teach our students all year about the history of astrology, and now that we have the actual practice and techniques, not to teach them about that, and instead to teach them about Vedic astrology. Conceptually, it doesn’t make sense. And because Cathy Coleman and Dennis Harness had both been together at CIIS, where they got their Ph.Ds, which was East-West Studies…
CHRIS BRENNAN: So is that California Institute of Integral Studies?
DEMETRA GEORGE: …right, where they’re integrating Eastern and Western traditions. Dennis says, “Well, I think that you should do the Hellenistic along with the Vedic. We can co-teach it together, and that’s how we’ll make space for the Hellenistic material.” And Cathy, who’s now the president says, “That’s a terrific idea. I approve it.”
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So that’s like the fall or summer of 2001?
DEMETRA GEORGE: That the fall of 2001.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: So then it’s like if I’m going to be teaching this–oh yeah, I guess it was slated to be taught in the springtime–what am I going to teach?
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. So now, you’ve got to study…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Now I’ve got to get it together, so to speak. So I make plans to spend the winter of 2001-2002 in the area where Robert Schmidt and Alan White live. And Alan White hosted me to stay with him. And we did an intensive bunch of months where, unit by unit, he would teach me. I would take notes, I would try to write them up, he would look and them and correct them. We’d send the pages to Bob, Bob would go through it, make his additions and corrections. I’d do the final changes, they’d both look them over, and okay, we have the first lesson. And then, we went through that for about nine more times, so we had 10 lessons for the course. And so, with that I was able to then show up spring term and have a course to teach.
And I have to really acknowledge the transmission that came from Robert Schmidt. That all of what I had done at that point was through him being my teacher, and the incredibly essential role that Alan White played in stepping down Schmidt’s teachings one notch, so that I could understand them, and repeat them back and have them correct it, and for him to work with me in that very close way to make sure what I was writing was, in fact, what was being said. And I’d also like to acknowledge Mark Kuenzel during this period because he lived nearby and he would come and visit. And he created a lot of the initial diagrams that we used in that course to be able to further help the students understand what was going on. So it was a collaborative effort of a number of people that happened during that winter.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure, and that sounds like an incredible opportunity to be able to go out there to Robert Schmidt, who is essentially Project Hindsight, in Cumberland, Maryland. And then, Alan lived about an hour away in West Virginia, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. And we traveled there like once or twice a week.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And everything sort of comes together at that point, because suddenly then all of your background in ancient history, and ancient Greek, and everything else comes in handy, or becomes relevant. Because at this point, you’re finally learning the full technical apparatus of ancient astrology, understanding–I don’t want to say how ‘powerful’ because that sounds like a weird way to frame it–how special that sort of system of astrology was that came together at that time, that then is transmitted over the past 2,000 years.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Mm-hmm.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And so, that’s what you end up taking back to Kepler, and you begin teaching a course in Hellenistic astrology there for the first time, in the spring of 2002.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. And it was an evolving process; it was in the process of being all figured out. So there would be a certain set of lessons, and the next time around, Bob would say, “Oh, I think I understand this a little bit better. Could you change this, this way?” And so, each year the lessons became more refined and subtly altered. And it was my ability to know the Greek words and to look up stuff in the lexicon that helped me better be able to transmit what was going on.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, and that ended up becoming incredibly important, because it then combined this incredibly high level work through this conceptual, and linguistic, and historical, and technical work that’s going on with the astrology. But then, some of your experience as a teacher and as somebody that has always had an interest in breaking things down and sort of a gift for making them understandable to students–and obviously showing a focus on that with earlier books like Astrology for Yourself–then really come into play here, where you’re able to take this incredibly dense, complicated material and then attempt to present it in an understandable fashion to this group of second-year students at Kepler.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Mm-hmm.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And that program is also unique because it’s not just presented as a Hellenistic astrology course on its own, but it’s taught side by side with an introduction to Indian, or Vedic astrology with Dennis Harness at the same time.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, and what we began to see was the incredible similarities between the Hellenistic and the Vedic, and in some ways, Hellenistic is closer to the Vedic than it is to the modern. Very exciting to all of us as well. So it was a very rich, multicultural, multi-dimensional learning experience.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. So you should say a few words now about how you entered into the Kepler program shortly after that.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. So I guess you start teaching that in the spring of 2002, so I showed up in late 2004. So you’ve taught it twice already. So I come in, in the third iteration of that course, and I start taking it in December of 2004. And I’m really annoyed because I went to Kepler with the intention of learning psychological astrology, and then I was supposed to be able to do that. Once you get to the second year, you’re supposed to break off into your specific track to study the techniques after you’ve done a year of history.
And I came in halfway through the history year, starting with the Medieval period. So I accidentally skipped the ancient, especially the Greco-Roman history piece, which consequently, made me even less interested in studying Hellenistic astrology once I got to the second year. But they basically told me that I didn’t have a choice despite my protest and some of the other students in my class protest.
So they made us take it, but what we got was, on the one hand, this book called The Sourcebook, which was a compilation. It was about 150 pages of excerpts of different translations with a little bit of commentary from the ancient astrologers, by Robert Schmidt, that was sent directly from Project Hindsight. And then, we got this other publication, which was your lecture notes and your teaching notes, which really expounded upon the translations that we were looking at, but also literally translated the translation and made all of the stuff understandable.
And it only took me like a week or two before I realized that a lot of my misconceptions or preconceptions about ancient forms of astrology were misplaced, and that there was something really valuable there to learn, so I got really into it. And you’ve already been teaching at Kepler a couple of years at that point. So I’m sure I came in at a great time where it was much more refined then whatever the first or even second version of the class was.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. So you were teaching Hellenistic astrology there and learning it there. And one of the things that was interesting from my perspective is that that became the most interesting, and most exciting, and most pivotal course, and I think for a lot of Kepler students that became one of the most exciting and interesting courses. That’s not to downplay…there’s still a lot of interesting and great material that was being taught there.
But one of the things that I think dismayed a lot of people who had supported Kepler–that were in the broader astrological community and observing from the sidelines about what was going on–is that suddenly you had people like me that go in as modern astrologers, but then come out of the Kepler program raving about ancient astrology, and older forms of astrology in general, and that becoming either their main focus, or having incorporated a lot of concepts from that. And I think that’s a hard thing to explain how that happened, or why that happened without having that experience, but I’m sure it was something that was a little bit weird or dismaying to some people that were watching from the outside.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Mm-hmm.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, but that was happening not just with Hellenistic astrology but with Indian astrology and other approaches as well, like horary…
DEMETRA GEORGE: Horary, right. Lee and Rob were both teaching Medieval and horary astrology. And in our history of astrology, we were also teaching all of the practices and techniques of those historical periods. And people were becoming very excited about what they were learning because that information simply hadn’t been available to us previously.
When I first went into astrology, I thought that modern astrology, this is the way it had always been done. And it was such a shock to realize that, no, that wasn’t true at all, and then to discover the rich tradition that lay before our contemporary understanding. Which is not to discredit the value of modern astrology. I still work a lot with counseling and with psychological issues, and I’m still using 500 asteroids in my charts. But I have the foundation piece that is the ancient tradition that everything else then has a steady ground to be built upon.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And just that time at Kepler in general was just an amazing period where you had so many of the people that were at the top of their respective approaches to astrology, or the top of the field that were presenting the cumulated research of everything they had been doing for decades of their lives. And all of the students were receiving it and getting this great coverage of all the different traditions, and the history, and the philosophy, and the techniques, and just about everything. So it was this really unique, beautiful thing for that relatively short period of time, in the mid-2000s. So eventually, you ended up leaving Kepler by, what, 2006, or so?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And one of the first things that you did after that’s always been really interesting to me is you brought together all of the different threads of your previous astrological career up to that point with your next book, which was Astrology and the Authentic Self, which was published in 2008, where it becomes one of the first books that represents a true synthesis, or an attempt to synthesize ancient and modern astrology into a new system of sorts. Was that your goal with the book, more or less?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, in some ways, the book was an outgrowth of some of the reasons why I left Kepler. By 2006, the school was having financial problems, administrative problems, and also, becoming very frustrated in its attempt to get accredited. And because the school was trying to get a liberal arts accreditation, it couldn’t become a vocational school. And so, we could teach about astrology, or about the historical approach to charts, but there was this way in which we were not supposed to teach about the contemporary practice of astrology. But by the fourth year, our students were desperate about how to do a chart. And what eventually became Astrology and the Authentic Self, I was, at that point, trying to synthesize into fourth-year programs.
But there was pressure that that wasn’t permissible during our attempt for accreditation because we couldn’t be teaching vocational astrology. So there were a number of reasons that led to my leaving, and part of it was, in retrospect, trying to get this other body of work into manifestation that I couldn’t fully engage in while I was teaching there.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right.
DEMETRA GEORGE: And in many ways, that book, Astrology and the Authentic Self was written for my Kepler students, with them in mind. They were my audience. And it was if, if I could teach you what I want to teach you, at this point in your education, this is what it would be.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right, because some of those issues were, on the one hand, Kepler’s attempt to get accreditation and need to, therefore, use euphemisms for astrology, instead of saying ‘astrology’, or just teach it from a historical perspective, and not as more of a practical thing. Some of the issues students had then in leaving it was that they were very good with some academic aspects of talking about astrology, but didn’t necessarily know like how to set up a practice.
Especially, one of the issues was once you’ve been presented with all these many different traditions of astrology either how to settle on one to go with, or how to synthesize different aspects of what you’ve learned, so that they’re not necessarily conflicting, but instead, they’re working together in a way that is interesting, and useful, and valuable in a consulting setting. And that idea of dealing with actual clients and working in a consulting setting seems to be a large part of the book.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes. So I left Kepler in 2006. I wasn’t complete with what I wanted to communicate as part of the Kepler era until 2008, and that book was finally published.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And then, by that point, Kepler’s academic program failed. They lost the ability to grant degrees, and the whole experiment itself ended and imploded on itself after 10 years anyways. But part of the result of that still, of you leaving at that point was being able to put that book out and that acting as one of the first true attempts to synthesize the modern and ancient traditions in recent times. So after that point, you continued your research and your focus on Hellenistic astrology and on the reconstruction of Hellenistic astrology, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, and I had taken on quite a few private students that I had brought through the program of learning Hellenistic astrology. I’ve done it on a one-to-one, mentor coaching basis, so that we work with charts that the students supply of people they know. And I do a teaching and show them how to work with the charts they have and then ask them to go back and talk to the people to see how this matches their experiences, and then come back with yet another chart and replicate the process. So I can track that they in fact understand how to use the concept correctly and help them in that process before moving on to the next one. And so, in that I have refined even more and more of my own understanding and teaching approach.
And so, now I’m in the process of writing the Hellenistic Astrology Workbook in a similar way to the Astrology for Yourself workbook, where after the teaching, there’s many, many exercises of application and self-tests to see if you got it right. Now let’s do it: here is how it works, then a sample chart, and now let’s do it in your own chart. And through that repetitive process of imprinting a familiarity not only with understanding the concepts, but how to practically apply them. And that’s my focus for that. It’s how do you take all of this stuff and use it in your charts for modern clients with modern problems, so that the knowledge you have can help you better recognize the patterns that are going on, and how to be able to give the best advice based on that.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And really just taking a lot of that ancient information and a lot of the research that you have done and that has come out of Project Hindsight, or other researchers, and breaking it down into something that’s understandable to a contemporary student of astrology.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. And so, my voice in the book is I’m talking to my students. I say, now don’t forget this, and remember that, and be sure to note this. And so, the voice which I’m giving is as if I were actually in person trying to explain how to do something. So it’s written for the student as my audience rather than for the academic, or the general public.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. I think that will be really important especially because there also aren’t really that many intro to traditional astrology books in general. Even if you define traditional astrology really broadly as from like the 1st century to the 17th century, there’s not a lot of good books where people can just start out knowing nothing about astrology and jump into it. And then, of course there’s pretty much no intro to Hellenistic astrology books at this point. So this really will represent the culmination, or the fruition of the past 20 years of some of the research, and some of the effort that’s gone into that on the part of the astrological community to revive some of those older traditions and get them back into something that’s working again for contemporary astrologers.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right. And we have spoken, Chris. You’re also writing your own book on Hellenistic astrology. And I feel really happy that you are integrating a lot of the history, and philosophy, and biographies, so that that material is also made available to the public. I feel like I’ve been through that through the Kepler lessons, and I don’t need to recapitulate it for this. I want my focus simply to be on the student’s practical application. But you’re covering all those other bases is like really wonderful.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, I think it’s a big load off of my shoulders where I don’t have to worry about not being able to adopt that voice, but instead, having a ton of footnotes and everything else. So I think together they’re going to be really great companion pieces as this revival of these older forms of astrology really start to come forth for the first time. All right. And so, you’ve also, of course, worked on a lot of other little side individual projects, like on medical texts for awhile.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: You’ve done work on Thrasyllus. You did work on your own and also with me and Benjamin Dykes on the Antiochus aspect doctrine.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, I have three hermetic medical texts that I’ve translated that are probably 85% ready to go, with background, contextual, historical material. And once I get this workbook completed that’s sort of the last project on the docket. I hope that it comes to completion; that will be the seventh book. And that seems like the appropriate magical seven numbers of the seven planets.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
DEMETRA GEORGE: So there is still one more piece of work behind this that I hope that life allows me to complete.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And this month, you’re actually focused the aspect doctrine chapter in your book and reviewing some of that stuff that we finalized. You did a bunch of translations of some of the ancient aspect doctrine material back in 2010.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, we realized that the aspect material is so sophisticated and complex. That even though we had translations by Bob Schmidt and James Holden, we really couldn’t understand it until I had translated it word-for-word myself. And so, that was part of the impetus of our getting together to do that.
But I should say that Hellenistic astrology is continually self-revealing. And at a certain point, you think, oh yeah, okay, now it’s clear, now I’ve got it. And then, you go back six months later and you see a whole other level of it that you couldn’t understand until what you just learned like finally settled and integrated. So yeah, we can say we finalized it a few years ago, but now, as I relook at it, there is continually new material that’s percolating up.
So I think as a whole, it will for some time be a work-in-process. And like all mystery teachings of which the ancient authors, Valens and Copernicus always said it was, it’s continually self-revealing with outer, inner, and secret levels. And so, I don’t think there will be a sense of this is the final word, I finally got it. But at each point, as a certain amount is brought in and made one’s own, then one sees even deeper into the elegant system that exists there.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. And that sort of brings us to the final point, which is that you’re getting ready this summer to present–I think this is the first time you’ve ever done something like this–an intensive summer workshop to present the summation of your work on Hellenistic astrology as part of a four-day retreat, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Well, it’s actually a five-day retreat.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Five-day, okay.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, and it isn’t everything. But it is the basic concepts of establishing planetary condition, of how to tell looking at the conditions of sect and zodiacal sign rulerships, and the solar phase, under the beams, retrograde, heliacal rise and set aspects, maltreatment, and how to be able to take all of that and then make a judgment about the planet. Given all of these factors, how do you decide how easy is it, or likely it is that this planet can bring forth its very best for the individual whose chart it serves? And then, once we have that to then finally put the planets in the houses–and given the house, the planets it occupies in the houses it rules–how to create our interpretation.
So the way I have it structured is morning teachings and afternoon practicums, kind of going back to the old Kepler model, where the class will be broken into groups. Where as a group, you work through the morning method and apply it to a chart, and then presenting that as a group to the rest of the class. And then, the last third of each day being devoted to working on your own chart and then receiving feedback from myself and other teacher assistants, you’re doing the method right in your own chart. And at that point, you can take what you have home and then begin to apply it to other charts, because you’ll have a confidence in knowing that what you’re doing was correct. So that’s my vision for this week.
CHRIS BRENNAN: That sounds amazing. So that’s going to take place in Portland, from July 11th through the 15th?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay. And you still have spaces open for that?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And so, that’s something where you’re going to be writing for the next month, but you kind of set that as almost a deadline for finishing most of the book as well, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: That’s what I’m hoping.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Okay, so that should be pretty amazing in terms of finishing that book, and then being able to give this intensive as part of a culmination, or like an end to that project of bringing some of those threads to completion.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yes, that’s what the intention is. So it will be 40 hours of classroom instruction and supervision. And the fee includes breakfast and lunches everyday. So it’s a wonderful opportunity and a really fun setting at Portland Kennedy School, which is an old, historical school built in 1910. It’s a real schoolhouse that was renovated by the McMenamins. And so, within the building are hotel rooms, and classrooms, and a library, and restaurants, and coffee shops, and some pubs, and a soaking pool, a movie theater, and gardens. And so, it’s a whole event center, and within that the teaching will take place.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Awesome. Great. And people can find out more information about that. I’ll put a link to the direct description page on the podcast website, and then they can check out your website as well, which is DemetraGeorge.com.
All right. Well, I think that brings us to the end of this. Do you have any future plans? Of course, you continue to consult and teach. You’re going to be publishing the book on Hellenistic astrology, hopefully, within the next year, and then perhaps some of the medical texts that you mentioned. Do you have any other plans for the future?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Well, I think that by the time the medical texts are published, my best guess, that will be four to five years yet ahead. So it’s hard for me, at this point, to project farther than that. This year, I’m traveling to NORWAC and to the ISAR conference. In 2017, I’m going to attend the Kepler Research Conference in Florida that David Cochrane and Courtney Roberts are sponsoring, partially in connection with my position as research director for the AFA. We’re trying to come up with educational material to help our astrological community understand how to do research that can contribute to the knowledge in our field. So that’s a side project that’s going on.
And of course, the NCGR conference is happening February of 2017 that I’ll be speaking at. And then, finally it all culminates in UAC of May of 2018. And I’m also going to Australia in 2018. So that’s a pretty active traveling schedule, and writing schedule, and other ways of continuing to serve the astrological community and to enjoy the incredible friendships that have fashioned a life in astrology.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Yeah, it sounds like you’ve got full schedule ahead of you.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Yeah.
CHRIS BRENNAN: And I’ve completely overlooked and forgot that you’re the research director of the AFA, and you actually took over that position after James Holden died, who was the first research director of the AFA prior to you, right?
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, and research has certainly not been one of my specialties or anything that I’ve had expertise in, but Jim had asked me if I would take it over form him in that situation. It was impossible to refuse. So I’m trying at this point to increase my learning curve with research. The AFA is giving research grants to astrologers through the various organizations as well as the AFA. There was quite a foundation left to them by Ernest and Catharine Grant, one of the initial founders of the AFA, to further research. And in conjunction with the research grants, we’d like to develop educational materials for the community. So that is yet another project that I’m involved in, in the next few years.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Right. And especially for Holden, the category of astrological research always seemed like it extended to historical research and things about reconstructing the history of astrology.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Right, supporting that research and texts and translations as being under the umbrella of research.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Sure. All right. Well, thanks for doing this. I’m glad we finally got a chance to do it.
DEMETRA GEORGE: I know, me too. It’s been on our minds for awhile and it’s wonderful that it happened. So thank you, Chris, for staying on me to do this particular discussion.
CHRIS BRENNAN: Definitely. Well, you’ve had a huge impact on obviously my career as well as the career of a lot of other astrologers. I’m glad we were able to do a show just to cover your history. And thanks for being one of the first astrological biographies that I’ve done here.
DEMETRA GEORGE: Okay.
CHRIS BRENNAN: All right. Well thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.