I have been a map freak for as long as I can remember. My addiction began on family road trips, as I pored over routes and destinations with Dad. I became good at reading the symbols and lines, calculating distances, finding the shortest route or most scenic, or the one with the longest stretches of Interstate in the days before everything was freeway.
More than just a practical tool, a map could be a source of endless speculation and imagination, especially as my collection eventually extended beyond highway maps into topographical maps of the mountains and wilderness areas I wanted to explore. In his book “Grizzly Years”, Vietnam vet and grizzly expert Doug Peacock credits a map with getting him home alive from the war. Staring at the big green spaces on a tattered piece of paper spread before him on a table, he was able to temporarily escape the madness around him. In an echo of his process, I have spent many hours seeing not colors and symbols on paper, but meadows and streams and potential campsites, and the routes on which to reach them. Maps are a window to a world that one can enter in daydreams until it is time to go there in form.
So it is small wonder that, when I realized an astrological birth chart is nothing more or less than a life map, I fell in love with astrology. In a flash, the discipline went from the mysterious and impenetrable realm of magicians to a practical tool for seeing where I am in the timeline and cycles of life. A chart is a window into the world inside myself, past, present and future. The skies and heavens as well as future and past opened their cloaks to me.
The night before a reading with the astrologer who taught me to read the birth map, I dreamed I had a star-shaped cell phone. In the dream, I am frustrated: the touchscreen on the face of the phone is missing, and I cannot figure out how to make a call without it. When I woke from the dream, I knew astrology was not new to me; I simply needed to replace the lost touchscreen to regain my ability to communicate with the planets and stars.
The knowledge came quickly. Within weeks, I learned what each of the symbols depicted and how to orient myself to the axes of the chart. Next came the outlines of the mythological characters and stories behind the zodiac and planets. I garnered a growing library of books, gathered birth data from friends and family members willing to share it, and began interpreting. I was reading charts for anyone willing to experiment with me within months. Moreover, my readings were helpful, if still rudimentary.
Then came a surprising turn of events: I began to feel the planets as they moved through the sky and activated points in my chart. Sometimes, the ways in which they showed up were entertaining, as when I found myself spilling everything from a cup of water to my oatmeal as Neptune, God/Goddess of the sea was active. There were more serious moments when I felt stern Saturn sitting on me, testing my dedication to my new business. This spring, when the sun moved into Gemini, the sign related to communication, I began to write as I had not been able in a year or more, beginning with publishing a blog post for the first time in six months. A saying in the field of statistics is that “correlation does not equal causation”. I don’t know how the events in the cosmos are connected to events on this planet; I simply know they are.
Astrology has become a daily touchstone for me. I check the moon’s travels every morning, as well as some of the faster moving planets. I often see trends and opportunities in time to make some preparations, either mentally or physically. When I knew Venus was getting ready to stand still in the sky in preparation for moving forward again, I planned a quiet day at home to stand still with her, knowing my energy would be low. The moon cycles, more real to me now than when my body was cycling with them, let me know when it is most supported to begin something new or work toward completion of a project. Each new moon has its own themes based on its sign, and, more personally, based upon its house position in my chart.
Sometimes, astrology simply saves my sanity. Knowing that our country and world are in a revolutionary period, in which our shadows are being unearthed for healing, has helped me trust the current political upheavals will result, eventually, in necessary change.
“The greatest gift of astrology is not about prediction but about CONTEXT. Not “What’s going to happen?” but “What does it mean?” And, “How can I respond in a useful way?””
The study and practice of astrology and nature healing in general is a lifelong endeavor. The sky is vast, as is life. But this apprenticeship to the forces of nature is as child’s play to me. Every book I read, chart I interpret, and observation of a pattern in the sky reflected in my life fascinates me. This, of course, is evident in my chart, now that my star phone is working.