How did you first become interested in astrology?
Very much through the back door – it was actually amateur astronomy that got me into it. Almost my first memory as a child was wanting a telescope so I could look at the heavens. Santa Claus brought me a little spyglass and I remember being badly disappointed – I think I had the Mount Palomar Observatory in mind. I finally got old enough to express my desires more precisely and wound up with a couple of more serious astronomical ’scopes, which I spent a lot of time using, gazing at the heavens through the urban atmospheric muck. Everything I was reading back in those days pooh-poohed astrology as a superstition, but I couldn’t escape the feeling in my heart that there was more happening out there in the deep dark than hydrogen fusing into helium. The universe felt conscious to me. It felt like something akin to God, except strangely more real and less remote than the God that was dished up every Sunday in my church. Anyway, when I was seventeen and recovering from a late tonsillectomy, my mom asked me if she could get me a book. I asked for an astrology book, which raised her eyebrows a bit, but she got me a couple of them. The wonder I felt looking through telescopes at the heavens fused with the ancient astrological symbols, the lightbulb lit over my head, and I never looked back.
Why did evolutionary astrology resonate with you most?
The first lines in the first chapter of my first book, The Inner Sky, is “People change. And yet one assumption runs like a virus through most astrological writing: people do not change.” That really says it all. A fair criticism of most astrology is that “it puts people in little boxes.” But what I saw was that people were escaping their boxes. Not all Gemini people “talked too much.” Some were actually good listeners. Not all the Scorpios were “sexy, but treacherous.” Some were almost shamanic in their wisdom. Evolution, in other words, was not an abstraction. It was a daily, moment-to-moment reality. People can and do improve themselves. I wanted to bring astrology beyond mere “description.” I saw that it provided a map for the optimal path of growth for each person – a “prescription” rather than a pre-packaged description.
Ask most mainstream astrologers about evolutionary astrology, and there is a good chance you will hear that “those people believe in past lives.” Yes indeed! This evolutionary journey we are all on unfolds moment-to-moment as I’ve described, but it is also lifetime-to-lifetime. Why do you have the chart that you have? Anything that “caused” it had to have happened before you were born. The answer, we believe, lies in unresolved issues left over from prior lifetimes. We’ve learned to read those clues in the chart. Pretty amazing really – the ghosts of old charts are still there. Even better, we have learned to read the “medicine” for healing and growth in the present chart.
What intrigues you the most about astrology?
That it works at all. The idea seems ludicrous at first – that from a map of the sky at the instant of a child’s birth we can derive all of this incredibly intimate information. The sky and the mind are like two mirrors facing each other. It sounds pretty and poetic, but when you really let it in . . . well, it still gives me goosebumps. If astrology is true – and experience teaches us that it is – then half of “common sense” is seriously flawed. The myth of the “objective observer” collapses. The myth of “a random universe” collapses. The myth that we are merely these physical bodies collapses.
How does astrology help us find our personal significance?
Some people find meaning in career. Some people don’t, finding family life or spiritual work or creativity to be more life-giving for them. There are certain principles in life which really apply to everyone – don’t kill people, don’t steal, and so on. No one needs astrology for those guidelines to fit them. Astrology enters at the next level: just how important, for example, is creativity or career for you personally? The chart answers those questions, and it can answer them very precisely. I would quickly say that no one needs astrology – we can find answers to those questions in other ways, such as meditation and conscious relationships. But astrology can really help. We are all up against a lot of social conditioning that inclines to cookiecutter us into the straitjacket of “normalcy.” By the time we are ten years old, we’ve all swallowed a lot of poison. Astrology can be the antidote. It holds a mirror before who you really are – or an even better way to say it is that astrology holds the mirror before the most meaningful pathway you can follow in life.
Please tell us a bit more about Forrest Astrology and what levels of learning you offer?
That’s become a really big subject lately. Thanks for asking. With my partners, Jeff Parrett and Catie Cadge, I’ve started a formal online school of astrology. It’s called The Forrest Center for Evolutionary Astrology. Becoming an astrologer is academically equivalent, more or less, to becoming a psychologist – it takes some serious training, in other words. That is what the FCEA offers. We call it “A Trade School for the Soul.” For someone whose interest is more casual or for people who might only want to get their feet wet, my own website, offers books, videos and recordings at various levels, with lots of freebies in the mix. Meanwhile, I’ve been very busy helping to create an astrological cell phone app with a fine team of behind-the-scenes people, along with three other astrologers with whom I am proud to be working. Two are Ophi and Tali Edut, the famous “AstroTwins” of Astrostyle.com and ELLE magazine. The other is former NFL great, Ricky Williams. He became a student of mine a few years ago and he’s now a master astrologer. That a football player and I would become fast friends seems unlikely, but life is full of surprises. Our app is called Lila. It’s “consumer” astrology, but with a brain in its head and a respect for human freedom.
Where would be the best place to start for someone who is interested in getting started in astrology?
For someone with a potentially serious interest in the subject, I’d suggest my first book, The Inner Sky. It’s a primer, aimed at the intelligent, motivated beginner, covering most of the astrological basics. For someone who is “interested in maybe being interested,” but has some rational hesitations, I would aim them at another book of mine, The Night Speaks. That one is not so much “how to” do astrology, but more like “why to.” It won’t teach you how to do astrology, but it will teach you very well how to counter someone who is teasing you about it.
You have authored a dozen astrological books and are currently writing another. Could you give us a little prelude to what you are working on?
A year or so ago, I finished a really monumental writing project: my “Elements” series. It’s four volumes and almost 2000 pages long. Basically I set out to write down everything I had learned about astrology over the years. Those volumes were The Book of Fire, then Earth, Air, and Water. After finishing them, I thought I would take a rest, and in some ways I have – but I actually have another book nearing completion. This one will be called The Endless Sky. It’s a collection of articles and newsletters I’ve written over the past twenty years – not much new writing, but it felt like time to bind them all under one cover.
Lastly, are there any significant events taking place in the universe this year that we should look out for?
Next year is actually the big one. After being in Capricorn since 2008, Pluto finally begins to move on into Aquarius. Pluto always brings up the shadow-side of things. Capricorn is about “traditional values.” Many of those old values are beautiful, such as integrity, personal responsibility, and loving our children. But here’s a list of values that have been traditional – and let me ask you if you think we’ve seen their dark sides on center stage lately – traditional values such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and the sense that God gave us nature to exploit. Those toxic boils have been bursting open. Just getting Pluto out of Capricorn will be a relief, at least for me. Of course Aquarius has a dark side too – all signs do. We’ll be looking at the dark side of the progressive movement, I suspect. There’s also a kind of dissociated “me first” dimension to the sign.
Anyway, everything we see and experience is all the fierce, unrelenting path of soul-evolution and healing, whether it’s happening in your own chart or in the collective. The universe is an incubator of consciousness, and we’ve all signed up for the journey.