The Covid pandemic changed everyone and everything. Who can doubt the idea that as years go by, memory will turn the pandemic into one of those “January 1, 1 A.D.” kinds of dates – pivot-points in history, like the birth of social media or Beatlemania. I never caught Covid myself, but I’m no exception when it comes to my life being “pivoted” by it – for one thing, pre-Covid, I was on the road non-stop for forty years. It’s a crazy way to live. After Covid, my passport has cobwebs forming on it and the Transportation Security Agency has barely crossed my natural boundaries in three years.
The roots of these changes in my lifestyle actually go back a little further than Covid. Late in the previous decade I saw Pluto and Saturn bearing down on conjunctions with my Sun, plus the progressed Moon about to enter my 12th house. Many astrologers would have suggested that Fear might have been my best strategy, but that’s not how I live with the planets – I feel that they’re up there to guide me, not to scare me. I saw that to head off danger, I needed to make some changes. I was turning seventy. Maybe it was time to travel less. The planets asked me that question – I answered it in my own way with a big Yes.
At that time I had half a dozen apprenticeship programs going around the world, each one meeting once or twice per year. I took those responsibilities seriously, so I gave a couple years’ notice on ending them. Around the same time, with Catie Cadge and Jeff Parrett, I began to lay the groundwork for my online school – the Forrest Center for Evolutionary Astrology. In January 2020, I did my last public program before the Plague struck – it was a synastry class in Palm Springs, California. We had over a hundred people signed up – and something like thirty of them dropped out, many citing “the flu.” That was my first inkling of what was to come.
By the time Covid struck, without really knowing exactly what I was doing, the good news was that I had basically already prepared for it. This is one of those moments when I just thank the Higher Powers for giving us all the great gift of astrology. Using it as a counselor as I just had, I’d aligned my life with two north stars. The first was the ever-changing weather of my own soul – and staying in touch with one’s soul in this crazy, distracting world is not always easy. The second one is truly and squarely in the realm of the holy mysteries – astrology aligned my choices with something none of us saw coming, and that was the pandemic. By the time it hit, my life had already turned inward, away from the world, toward home. Thanks to astrology, the shock waves it created were more like a help than an inconvenience or something that hurt.
Covid gave me my school. It gave me my four Elements books, plus my collection of essays, The Endless Sky. It gave me time to write at least a couple more books’ worth of material for this LILA cell phone app project I’ve been doing – check out LILA - RELATE DEEPER on your iPhone if you have one and you’re interested.
Between the good counsel astrology gave me and the way it harmonized my life in advance with the pandemic, I’ve prospered in every way. But what I miss is skin – that means people, chit-chat, hugs. As Covid began to lift, I did speak at the big ISAR conference in Denver last summer. That went well. This year I’ve got two more big “live” travel events happening. The first is the NORWAC conference later this month in Seattle, Washington. The second is my return to Omega Institute in upstate New York this August.
Long ago, just after my first book came out, I was speaking at some forgotten conference. There I met a force of nature – Maggie Nalbandian. She used to run NORWAC. We bonded right away. She invited me to speak and for years I’d go there every year. Maggie passed away in 2015, but her Capricorn daughter Laura took over the conference and brought it into the digital age. Speaker-wise, the drift is rightfully toward younger astrologers, but I’m happy to be returning, perhaps for the last time.
At NORWAC this year, I’ll do a lecture about “Tragic Romantics” – people born with Venus in hard aspect to their lunar nodes. I’ll do another one about what’s often missing in astrologers’ interpretations of the succedent houses – numbers two, five, eight, and eleven. I’ll do a keynote address about the tricky relationship between spirituality and astrology – one is about the soul, while the other is, perhaps too often, about the ego. How do we straddle that paradox? We do need our egos! Finally, on the Monday after the conference, I’ll teach an intensive about Chiron.
I’m even more excited about my event at Omega this summer, mostly just because it’s longer and therefore deeper. A couple of decades ago, I got tired of the 75-minute song-and-dance routines that are the staple of big conferences. I preferred to go deeper, which meant longer sessions, mostly with me teaching solo. I missed the interaction with other professional astrologers, but all in all, I was happier – hence my apprenticeship programs. They were all solo events. They must’ve met nearly two hundred times between 1998 and 2019.
At Omega, we’ll have five days of solid evolutionary astrology on a beautiful country campus. Last I heard, 53 people have already signed up. I’m keeping the topic kind of loose so I can be responsive to the make-up of the group, but it will certainly be an intensive dive into actual, living birthcharts. I plan to start off with a famous person or two, then we’ll pull names of volunteer class members from the hat and take it from there. It’ll all be punctuated with questions, answers, and conversation – and, I suspect, hugs.
My online school, the FCEA (www.forrestastrology.center) has been a big success and a wild ride. One pleasant surprise for me personally is how warm and human it feels – I feared the realities of online teaching would push hard in a colder direction. That hasn’t happened, but I do still miss eye-to-eye connections and casual human conversations. That’s a big reason why I’m willing to get back on an airplane.
We’ve always held the intention of running some in-person events in connection with my school, but the logistics are daunting – being online, the FCEA is quite international. So where is the fairest place to hold an event? What works well for a student in San Francisco looks pretty daunting to a student in South Africa, Australia, or China. We’ve not answered that question yet – but I am hoping that many of our students will be able to come to Omega this summer anyway.
I do want to emphasize that this is an Omega event, not an FCEA one – it’s open to the public, and everyone is welcome. Still, I hope to meet some of our online students there and that we’ll have a chance to get to know each other in the old-fashioned way.
I’m eager to see some astrologers who aren’t pixels on my Zoom screen, and to meet a few who have been something like pixels with souls to me for the past couple of years! Please attend Omega if the spirit moves you.
Listen to the podcast version.