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    Podcasts

    Astrology and Spirituality

    In this episode Steven talks about the meaning and inspiration behind his conference keynote address “Reconciling Astrology and Spirituality.” 

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    Venusian Mysteries Are Afoot!

    As August opens, the Sun is in mid-Leo faithfully advancing about one degree per day. Meanwhile, Venus is retrograde, having made a station near the end of Leo back on July 22nd. That means that the Sun is going forward and Venus is going backwards and that they’re locked on a collision course. The two finally come together in a conjunction on August 13th. That happens in 20 degrees 28 minutes of Leo. After that, Venus will continue to move backwards until September 3rd, forty-three days after turning retrograde. By that time, the Sun will be well into Virgo.  

    Built into that ho-hum recitation of dates is one of the most mysterious, elegant mysteries of our solar system: the Venus Pentangle. It will take us a few steps to understand it, starting with the fact there are two distinct types of Sun-Venus conjunctions – inferior ones and superior ones.. Most astrologers, myself included, don’t make much of a fuss about their differences, but maybe we should.

    Think of an archery target with concentric rings. The Sun is the bull’s eye. The first ring out is Mercury’s orbit. The second is Venus’s orbit. The third one is us. Mars orbits further out in space, so it would be the fourth ring, and so on, out to Pluto and beyond. When Venus is lined up halfway between Earth and the Sun, we have the inferior conjunction. But then sometimes Venus aligns with the Sun from the opposite side of its orbit – that’s the superior conjunction.

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    Pluto Backs Into Capricorn

    Rumors of a new world order emerging due to Pluto’s passage into Aquarius have been exaggerated – at least for now. For one thing, the Lord of the Underworld is now abandoning Aquarius (which it only entered on March 23) and returning to Capricorn, where it’s been stirring up chaos since 2008. That reentry happens this month, on June 10. Once back in Capricorn, Pluto will actually remain there for the rest of the year. We’re not out of the Capricorn woods yet, in other words.

    On October 10, after four months, Pluto reverses course and turns direct, but it’s still in Capricorn when that happens. It only reenters Aquarius on January 20 of the coming year. 

    Even then, we’re still not in the clear. On September 1, 2024, Pluto crosses briefly back into Capricorn a second time. That will only be a quick goodbye kiss – just forty days later, it enters Aquarius solidly. After that, it won’t be finished with Aquarius until early 2044 – and it won’t touch Capricorn again until February 28, 2254. 

    Complicated? Yes indeed – and that complexity will be echoed in the headlines, not to mention in your own head. 

    Live, In Person...

    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.

    A Belated Thank You

    It was November 1966. I was sweet seventeen and lying in bed recovering from a tonsillectomy. Transiting Neptune was one degree from my Ascendant. One effect of that transit was that I’d just had my first and only experience of knock-out anesthesia. Another far more important one was that I was about to discover serious astrology.

    As I lay there in my bed nursing my sore throat, my Scorpio mom came in and asked me if she could get me a book to read. I asked her for an astrology book. I think she was a little surprised, but she didn’t have a problem with that – I was blessed with an open-minded family. A couple hours later, she returned with a paperback. It was silly Sun Sign astrology aimed at the sorts of teenagers who weren’t destined for careers in rocket science. I won’t name the book because I try to avoid blaspheming against other astrological authors, but it was truly terrible. I devoured it anyway. I could tell that there was something real going on behind the obvious pandering and stupidity. If I were a fish, I’d have been toying with the worm, not quite sure if I was actually going to chomp down on it.

    In for a penny, in for a pound – I finished that book and asked my mom for another one. This time she picked a winner. She brought me one of the dozen or so books that have actually changed the direction of my life. It was called Write Your Own Horoscope. The author was one Joseph F. Goodavage. I never hear anyone refer to it today – as a contribution to the astrological vocabulary, it’s mostly forgotten even though it was actually the first astrology book to sell over a million copies.

    Saturn in Pisces

    Mark your calendars – on March 7, Saturn crosses the Pisces frontier. It will remain there until it enters Aries on May 24, 2025 – but then it will cross back into Pisces on September 1, 2025, not finally fully committing itself to Aries until February 13, 2026. That’s nearly three years in total, and Saturn’s passage will leave fingerprints on the headlines – and on your life too. 

    What will it mean? That’s not really up to Saturn, it’s up to you. There are ways to be in harmony with this energy and ways to get into trouble with it too. All that is what I want to explore with you in this newsletter.

    VESTA JOINING NEPTUNE IN PISCES

    Asteroids are fascinating, but in truth I don’t use them much in my own astrological practice. It’s not because I don’t “believe in them” or anything like that – their effects are quite demonstrably real. The reason is simply that the “big” planets keep me busy enough. In all professional astrological work, there is always a balance that needs to be struck between the number of points an astrologer will have time to discuss in a counseling session versus having mercy on the client’s attention span and energy. It simply takes me so long to do justice to the message of the major planets that I’ve rarely had time to add asteroids to the menu.

    Then there’s the minor problem of there being about a million of them! Last I heard, something like 14,000 of them even had names. To avoid being overwhelmed, many astrologers who use asteroids limit themselves to what are often (erroneously) called “the big four.” They’re not actually the biggest, they’re just the first four to be discovered – Vesta, Ceres, Juno, and Pallas. Hygiea is actually more massive than Juno by far and, if size matters, it should be in that quartet instead. Juno just happened to be the third one to be discovered, but it only squeaks into the Top Twenty as “heavyweights” go.  

    The more massive an asteroid is, the more powerful it is astrologically? That tempting notion makes a degree of intuitive sense, but I doubt it’s true. That’s because astrological experience teaches us otherwise. Pluto’s mass, for example, is relatively tiny – only about one 400th the mass of Earth – and vastly less than Jupiter or Saturn. Yet woe betide the astrologer who ignores Pluto!

    COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP IN THE FCEA

     On December 21, my online school, the Forrest Center for Evolutionary Astrology, will reach its second birthday. We’re thriving and growing. We’ve got about 200 students, several tutors, and a couple of hardworking staff people. Our Dean, Dr. Catie Cadge, is putting in long hours surfing the inevitable waves of chaos stemming from the daily running of the school. Meanwhile, I’ve made 250 teaching videos, and written quite a lot of new material for the curriculum. I also do monthly Zoom “Q & A” events for the students and drop in on some of the classes from time to time, so I’m staying busy and engaged too. 

    The school may be about teaching “the Forrest method,” but its operations are not really centered on me personally. Tutors carry most of the teaching load. And they’re great – all of them have studied intensively with me, and all of them are warm-hearted, caring, and wise. Right from the beginning, I wanted to make sure that the FCEA would become an institution which could live on beyond me. I also wanted to make sure that it felt warm and human despite being conducted online. That’s where our team of tutors comes in – they’re constantly interacting with the students.

    We still feel like the school is very much in start-up mode. Being nominated for “Favorite Astrology School” in the awards ceremony at the big ISAR conference in Denver in late August was a happy surprise – not that it was so surprising that we were nominated, but that it happened so soon. We’ve not really done much publicity.

    FOLLOW THE SUN

    Everything revolves around the Sun. I have always delighted in that phrase. Long ago, half-legendary Hermes Trismegistus crystallized the entirety of astrological theory in four simple words – “As above, so below.” Saying that everything revolves around the Sun embodies that Hermetic principle perfectly.  

    • Above, in the sky, the Sun is the gravitational center of the solar system. 
    • Here below, on earth, it is the gravitational center of your head. 

    On both levels, the Sun’s job is to hold the planets in their courses – and by “the planets in your head,” we mean all your contradictory, paradoxical needs, drives, and values. Being human is complicated.  We’re pulled in so many directions, torn between appetites and integrity, pleasure and productivity, and so on. Still, you get out of bed in the morning and you have a sense of who you are. You have an identity. There is reasonable continuity in your life. That’s the Sun at work, with its “gravity” coalescing you into one reasonably coherent whole.