A GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE
Despite my books and my teaching, the bulk of my income and lion’s share of the hours of my working life are all about private astrological consultations. People contact me for recorded readings, which I send them via MP3 files. Lately when I get such a request, I put them on the waiting list and I tell them that I “hope” to be able do one for them one day. The problem is that those recordings are booked at least five or six years ahead.
In a few months, I will be 72 years old. At my age, making promises about anything that far in the future feels like tempting the Lord to offer me a little lesson in hubris, perhaps punctuated with a lightning bolt.
I also do “live” sessions here in my office, in person. Those are my favorites. I like the human interaction. I like learning from people. Years ago, when the recorded readings (an international market) threatened to eclipse the face-to-face work, I started booking the two forms on separate tracks. The local work is more available. The wait for an in-person session currently runs something like three years, although right now, because of Covid-19, it is entirely stalled. I’m not seeing anyone in my office.
Potential clients always ask me if I do Zoom sessions or phone work. I never do. The main reason is purely practical – with the other two methods booked so far ahead, how crazy would I have to be to open up a third channel, one that was accessible to the global population of the planet?
Being “in demand” that way is naturally a good feeling. I am prosperous and my life feels meaningful. Those are two great blessings for which I am grateful. Given my age, people often ask me if I plan to retire. I could, but I don’t want to. My intention is to continue doing this work in some form until my heart stops or my brain goes blooey. It feeds my soul and gives purpose to my life. I used to say, “would the Pope retire?” Then Pope Benedict XVI did. But that is the right category: for me, being an evolutionary astrologer is a spiritual calling, not simply a job.
From a selfish perspective, being booked far ahead is “a good problem to have.” What’s not to like about job security? Many years ago when I decided to become a professional astrologer, friends would often praise me for “being brave” – but of course what they really meant was “stupid.” In those days, if you had a job with a corporation, they’d take care of you. You’d have the job for the rest of your working life. You could retire. You’d have a pension. Why would anyone be crazy enough to step out on the thin ice of being an astrologer?
The joke was on them, of course. Corporations ceased to care about anyone. Many of my “more practical” friends found themselves “downsized” or “redundant” in their fifties – and clueless about how to navigate their own lives. I’ve been lucky. Call it my Sun-Jupiter conjunction, I guess. My long waiting lists do have a gratifying component. But, given my age, they are also starting to present me with a big ethical problem. Am I knowingly making promises that I will never be able to fulfill?
Currently, especially with Covid-19 in the mix and me not seeing “live” clients, I am actually booking more readings per week than I am able to do. The problem – even if it is a good one to have – is getting worse.
Always, when people contact me about a consultation, I explain the uncertainty of the situation, and I routinely offer to refer them to other astrologers. Referrals are the obvious solution to my dilemma. As a result of my Apprenticeship Programs, I’m in a good position to make those referrals too. I started those programs around the time I was turning fifty years old. I’ve done hundreds of them, and something like 2000 people have passed through them in various countries and states. Many of them are listed in a Directory of Forrest-Trained Astrologers on my website. Many potential clients of mine, daunted by the long wait, have turned to my students and had good experiences. That’s win/win all around, and a source of real joy for me.
But still, my bookings grow, and all the while “the Closure Fairy” looms on the edges of my radar screen.
Around three or four years ago, I saw that the progressed Moon was going to enter my 12th house. I knew that much of my life would fall away to make room for a new start. I also understood that it would be better for me to go with the flow rather than trigger any of the baleful “house of troubles” predictions of the astrological doomsayers. I dropped a couple of my apprenticeship programs, and another two fell away naturally. I also began the monumental task of writing my four-volume “Elements” series – true legacy work. I was flying blind, running on faith and intuition, the way we all need to during 12th house times.
While my Moon was still there in that reclusive 12th house, Covid-19 struck. One effect of it, as I mentioned a while ago, was that I stopped seeing clients in person. That was out of respect for their health and my own – but it sure freed up a lot of time for me to work on writing. The Book of Water, the final volume in my series, is now done and in its final edits, many, many months ahead of schedule. I actually wrote “amen” on the first draft of it on the very day that my progressed Moon hit my Ascendant. That just happened naturally, nicely illustrating our principle that “you can’t make this stuff up.” Astrology works so vividly. Anyone who looks at it with an open mind can see that.
But it is not just about “seeing the future.” The planets can actually guide us if we are willing to trust them and surrender to their messages. I just want to insert a big thank you to those invisible gods and goddesses in the sky. I saw that 12th house lunar progression coming, and I adjusted my life accordingly. But they knew more than I ever could. One thing I did not see coming was the pandemic. How much easier it has been for me to surf that “shelter-in-place” imperative with most of my apprenticeship programs cancelled anyway, and what a blessing to have been given all this time to write.
Another big development that I didn't see coming – even though the planets guided me to make room for it – was the birth of the Forrest Center for Evolutionary Astrology. On March 6, 2019, with my Moon just over the line into the 12th house, I met for the first time with Jeff Parrett and Dr. Catie Cadge to discuss the possibility of creating a mostly-online school. It would support people who wanted to learn how to do the kind of astrology that has given me the life I have been describing. Jeff brought years of business skill and visionary leadership to the mix, along with enough financial support to make it happen. Catie brought thirty years of teaching experience, much of it online, as an art professor. Our individual skills definitely formed a perfect “trine,” and with their help, I sensed that I could be part of something that would take my work to the next level – something fresh, and something which I could never do alone.
I don’t want to write too much about the FCEA in this newsletter. Suffice to say that, while we are hoping to launch it around the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at the end of this year, our first commitment is to quality and integrity, with deadlines and schedules taking second place. As I write these words, our website is basically a placeholder, but if you are interested in the school, you can sign up for further announcements at www.forrestastrology.center. Very soon, we will post a long interview about the project there. We shot it a week ago, and it is being edited now.
Let’s go back to the dilemma that is the heart of what I am talking about in this newsletter: that I am in my seventies, and I am afraid that I am “booking consultations into my next incarnation.”
It’s an intractable problem, and I am not sure how to solve it. My business-oriented friends have always suggested the basic capitalist solution: that I should simply raise my prices. Doing that would surely work, but I cannot seem to sprout the requisite dorsal fin. I have enough money. I grew up very working class and those are my roots – a fourth floor walk-up three-room apartment in an ethnic neighborhood. I appreciate la lucha. Still, I cringe when I read someone post on Facebook about “all those selfish rich people.” My work has brought me into intimacy with a lot of very wealthy folks. In general, I find them to be as human as anyone else, with the good, the bad, and the ugly all fully represented. Bottom line, I simply do not want my work to become exclusive. I do not want to serve only the very affluent, even though they are as welcome as anyone else.
My prices are already high enough. I cannot bring myself to solve my booking problem that way.
Really, the only truly long-term solution is to have more astrologers working in my style. I came to that realization a quarter-century ago and so I began to put more focus on teaching the methods I had evolved – methods which had obviously struck a chord in the collective. We have two things in abundance in our field: one is myriad forms of astrology and the other is starving astrologers. I do not want to put any energy into criticizing other forms of our craft unless they hurt people. Many of these forms undoubtedly work in helpful ways. But my own style of evolutionary astrology is what I want to pass onward. That is the flame I want to still see burning after I am gone. To that end, my apprenticeship programs are currently evolving into the FCEA. I am busily recording hours of instructional videos for that project, and I am very excited about it.
Someone asked me about the difference between, on one hand, the FCEA and, on the other hand, my older teaching programs and all the material that is already available on my website. The answer in one word is structure. With the FCEA, students will be guided to astrological proficiency in an orderly, efficient way. They can start at zero, or they can start where they are – but we will hold their hands for the rest of the way, and they will emerge as Master evolutionary astrologers.
With my progressed Moon in the first house now, I know that I am laying the foundation of the next twenty-seven years of my life – very probably the rest of it. I also know that I need “to let the Moon make my decisions,” which is to say that I simply need to follow my heart. In honest Goat fashion, my heart has me working harder than ever, but my focus is more on writing and preparing material for the FCEA than upon individual client work. That decision feels right, but I can do the math – with my focus shifting more toward teaching, even my being “booked five years ahead” might be too optimistic a projection.
Yet I continue to add people to the list. All I know to do is to be honest with them and to continue to offer referrals. I intend to always do private astrological work – I would be suspicious of any astrological teacher who didn’t face that particular test on a regular basis. But the way the wind is blowing, I seem to be doing less individual work and more “legacy” work.
My mom lived to almost the age of 96 and she “still had all her marbles.” Sometimes I have a happy fantasy of my doing a reading for a young man or woman – perhaps someone not even yet born – when I am 95. I imagine that the experience will be as meaningful for me then as it is today.
So, if you are on my waiting list, please understand – and please pray for my longevity.