Hello everyone. So how have you fared Mars Retrograde so far? If you have planets or angles in Virgo, Pisces, Sagittarius or Gemini, I’m guessing you have some stories to tell… Mars won’t be back on track until the end of April, so we’re still in the thick of things. Hang in there!
Meanwhile Mercury is about to retrograde in Aries (it will station at 6° Aries on March 12). This time it will revisit Pisces while retrograde, and move direct on April 4 at 23° Pisces. March looks like a great time for a break if you can fit one in! Mercury will be buddying up to Uranus over the next few days, forming an exact conjunction March 5, in a wide square to Pluto. Time to back up your files. In fact, drop this newsletter and back up right now! Put your patience hat on and you’ll make it through this month just fine.
In other news, there are a few open spots in a rare private event in beautiful Maine this June. Be one of the lucky few to claim a spot, and spend the Summer Solstice in good company. Best wishes to all of you, Tony Howard
Best wishes to all of you,
Joining Hands at UAC
The United Astrology Conference is happening in New Orleans, May 24-29. I am shaking in my boots. There is something good about the big pow-wow aspects of the event. It is a gathering of astrology’s far-flung clans, a chance to catch up with old friends and maybe encounter some new ideas. UAC is a good thing! Experienced astrologers can always learn something new there. Beginners can get a taste of the various current styles of astrology, and decide what approach best fits their values and interests. It is a smorgasbord of teachers. A lot of good people work very hard to make the event happen. I am grateful to them all.
Why am I shaking in my boots? One reason is that UAC is not exactly an introvert’s paradise. I quickly start feeling like the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights when I am there in those crowds. Playing the role of “a famous astrologer” makes it tougher too. Mostly, the “famous astrologer” thing is kind of a joke. It is like being world famous . . . in the southwestern corner of Moldavia. I’ve got a good friend, bluesman Scott Ainslie. He was doing a program about the history of the blues in a high school in North Carolina. A wide-eyed boy came up to him after the show and said, “Are you, like . . .famous?” And Scott replied, “Yes – but not too many people know that about me.” That’s mostly what it feels like to be a famous astrologer.
. . . except at UAC, where I feel like Elvis Presley, except that Elvis never had to walk across a lobby filled with a thousand people all looking to get him to sign a book or listen to a theory. The attention is gratifying at first, and I genuinely appreciate the love and support I get. But after a few hours of it, I feel like hiding under my bed up in my room. And UAC lasts for days and days.
So that is the main reason I am shaking in my boots. But there is another one. UAC embodies a situation I am concerned about in the contemporary world of astrology. I am not sure if it is fair or right to call it a “problem.” You can decide. The issue is that there are so many forms of astrology nowadays that even astrologers can barely talk to each other.
When I was a young astrologer, most of the books and teachers I encountered were all speaking essentially the same language. There were arguments and disagreements, of course. But we all had a common vocabulary. We called it “astrology” and we all meant basically the same thing by the word. Then, pretty much coinciding with Neptune’s entry into Sagittarius in 1970, astrology went into a period of cross-cultural expansion and fragmentation. In the western world, there was rather suddenly a lot of popular interest in Vedic astrology. Simultaneously, Renaissance astrology had a . . . renaissance. The older Hellenistic and Arabic texts began to be translated, and spun off into those schools of thought. There was an explosion of interest in asteroids. Uranian astrology expanded its circle of advocates, as did an interest in Harmonic astrology. Computers appeared, and made all sorts of abstruse calculations and techniques available. Each developed a passionate following.
We still talk about “astrology,” as if it were one field. But the truth of it is that there are now a great many astrologies, all seemingly drifting further and further away from each other with each passing year..
These various astrologies are mutually incomprehensible. The situation parallels the way the Latin of the Roman empire metastasized into half the languages spoken in Europe today. And speaking good Spanish does not mean that you can understand French. An even better metaphor might be the Biblical “Tower of Babel.” In the Book of Genesis, humans were getting a little haughty and decided to build a tower that would reach up to God’s realm in the sky. God came down to see what they were up to and He said: “They are one people and have one language, and nothing will be withholden from them which they purpose to do.” And then God got an idea. He said, “Come, let us go down and confound their speech.” And so God “scattered them upon the face of the Earth,” confusing their languages. In the resultant chaos, no further building was accomplished.
The modern “astrological community” is in a Tower of Babel situation very much like this. As an evolutionary astrologer, I am confident of my skills and techniques. I have more clients and students than I can handle, and I am grateful for my good life. But at UAC I know I will hear, for one example, Hellenistic astrologers talking – and I will not have the slightest what they are saying. I wouldn’t even be able to have a good, creative, respectful argument with them. It would be like my trying to discuss philosophy with a professor in Moscow. I don’t speak Russian.
Diversity. Is it a problem? No, of course not. There is not “One True Astrology” anymore than there is One True Faith. All these paths are welcome. All have skillful practitioners who help people, and all have egocentric goofballs. But does this diversity present something more troubling than richness? Does it pose issues of communication? And is communication not the basis of community? Those are easier questions.
The actual astrology-in-the-sky of the UAC event is telling – and adds to my shaking boots! UAC runs from May 24-29. On May 26, Mercury conjuncts the Moon’s South Node in Gemini, along with the Sun. To me, that suggests a ripening karma of too much intellect and chatter, and not enough soul, human feeling, and “embodiment.” I think that contemporary astrology’s “Tower of Babel” karma is going to be a very dominant theme there in New Orleans this year. I fear the conference will be characterized by a nervous, mentally-over-driven energy, that just feels like way too much coffee. With Sun in the mix and the auto-referential qualities of Mercury being in its own sign, I fear a crowd of people talking in order to be heard, but no one really listening to anyone else. Hiding under my bed might be very appealing.
But good astrology never just leaves us hanging. It always aims us at answers too, at least in the evolutionary styles of astrology. What I am going to try to hold in my own consciousness is the idea that the north node is in Sagittarius. That makes a reference to a resolution of the hyped-intellect problem via integrative, wholistic views, driven by intuition and animated by a spirit of generosity. Let us “embrace the foreigner.”
I am also going to try to be very aware of the Neptune/Chiron conjunction in Pisces, squaring that nodal axis. It is telling us that we, as the astrological community, have something sweetly mystical left unresolved here in terms of our group-karma. We need to celebrate and heal the softer, more unitive energies of our wounded spirituality. We are not talking heads. Astrology is not simply scholarship. It is far more soulful than that.
Faced with that Russian professor, neither one of us would understand a word the other one was saying. But I could look into his eyes, and connect with his mysterious, luminous humanity. I could let him look into my own eyes and, hopefully, he would see the same thing in me. I can do the same with the Vedic astrologers, the Renaissance astrologers, the Hellenistic astrologers, and the rest. Maybe, when I am brave enough to crawl out from under my bed at that hotel in New Orleans, I can be part of solution rather than an embodiment of the problem.