Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mining Current Events and Personal Events for Astrological Fodder

I'm one of those people who can watch radar maps of slowly moving hurricanes and some of the lesser storms for hours while listening to the weather channel broadcasters report from the scene. Last night I was engaged from mid-evening until midnight by the BBC coverage of the mine rescue in Chile. They had been showing, for god knows how long, live views of the room in the mine and the rig at the surface, where a Chilean team using a winch and a metal cage capsule systemically retrieved each of the 33 trapped miners and six rescue workers from the emergency shelter the miners had spent about seventy days living in almost a half a mile under the earth's surface.

Each time the capsule emerged from the tiny round hole in the cement pad that had been poured around it, a robust cheer went up - the first thing the miner heard upon reaching the surface. Each miner, wearing designer sunglasses and looking clean-shaven and generally healthy, was greeted by three workers who quizzed him about something briefly, then released him from the capsule and his harness. Then, like clockwork, one person who had been waiting for them came forward and they embraced. Then he embraced and exchanged stories with the President, the first lady, and a small crowd of the people who had been communicating with them from the surface over the past month and a half. Then each miner walked to a stretcher and was wheeled into a portable triage center in trailers that had been set up just a few meters from the opening in the earth. It was so smooth each time that it all appeared choreographed and rehearsed, a testament to the miner's ability to act in a disciplined manner and follow instructions precisely.

The miner waited in triage for three more miners to surface - by this time, each round trip only took about half an hour - and they were flown as a group by helicopter to a hospital in a city far away from the cold, dry, empty desert in which the mine was located. Ambulances transported them from the helicopter pad to the hospital, and there were crowds of cheering Chileans lining the streets along the route. The coverage also included the back story for each of the miners and clips of earlier interviews and photographs. One had been a professional soccer player, another's wife had given birth while he was in the mine, one was about to retire, another went to the mine on his day off to help repair something.

I can't sit on a couch without feeling like I'm being lazy, and when I feel like I'm being lazy I have to get work on something to assuage the guilt and irritation brought on by my self-criticism (Virgo Moon). I try to resist the urge to apply what I'm seeing on the screen to something that I'm learning or teaching, but it's almost impossible. That something used to be geography, but when that field didn't offer enough fuel for the imagination or self-improvement potential, it became astrology. So, I reluctantly let my mind start making connections between the events in Chile and the astrology I've been teaching myself and want to teach to others.

The first association was obvious - mines have to do with Pluto because they are a kind of underworld, literally being located under the surface of the world, and that's one of the things that Pluto is all about, in all different kinds of ways. It rules the zodiac sign of Scorpio, and I didn't have to think much about what was in Scorpio at the moment. It wasn't the Sun, which is still in Libra, the sign before Scorpio, but Mars and Venus, who are right in the middle of it. Venus is especially significant, because it's just slowed to a stop in apparent motion (meaning, the way we see Venus from our perspective on Earth) and begun its retrograde, or reverse motion, period. When a planet slows to a stop, it concentrates its actions on a few degrees of the zodiac for a proportionately longer time than it does when it is in normal motion. This could be like a prolonged stay of a favorite friend or a dreaded in-law depending on the angular relationship of the planet to yours and its nature. So, the two planets that handle personal desires - Mars the planet of action, and Venus, the planet of love, beauty, and attraction (which is focusing its energy as it slows to a retrograde station) - create a desirable outcome, namely, the successful rescue of thirty-three miners from the Plutonian depths. If memory serves, the number thirty-three is a significant number in the cycles we see Venus make around the Sun. It was the number of years Christ is said to have lived on earth before being sent to heaven.

Besides the Sun, Saturn is also in Libra, and the miners worked with great discipline, the kind of stuff Saturn does, to create a working society - Libra has to do with social interactions and relationships like the kind that sustained them through their incredible ordeal.

The capsule which brought them up from the depths was designed by the Chilean Navy. The Navy's domain is the ocean, which is ruled by Neptune. Neptune is retrograde in Aquarius, and Chiron, also moving in retrograde motion, is very near another conjunction with Neptune in Aquarius, the sign of progressive innovation and betterment of society and groups. The event was viewed as healing the Chilean wounds of the past - everything from Pinochet to this year's earthquake, which happened in February, perhaps when the Sun was in Aquarius. It also exposed Chilean wounds of the present which need to brought to light before the country can progress to a developed nation status. Perhaps this is all image and illusion, the domain of Neptune as well, but it is strong, hopeful thinking, a trait often associated with Aquarius.

Beyond that, I haven't found a plausible connection between the Aquarian pair of Chiron and Neptune and Pluto or things in Scorpio. Hmmm...let's see, more than 90 degrees apart...13 Scorpio for Venus and 26 Aquarius for Neptune and Chiron. That's 90 degrees plus 13...103 degrees. A bad fever or...biseptile! Venus stationed retrograde just a few minutes short of an upper (or waning) biseptile to Neptune, and Chiron was just a little ways beyond that. How about that. Wonder if there's a simpler explanation?

On the natural chart, an upper biseptile is found in the sign of Sagittarius, not exactly what one would associate with being pulled through a granite tube not much than bigger your own chest, harnessed into a steel cage, but the release to the surface was certainly an expansive event after living underground in a rock cavern for more than two months! And it meant something bigger for the people of Chile, too. Both Aquarius and Scorpio are fixed signs, so the energy is strong, very strong, as strong as the cable and the discipline of the effort, which, like the septile had a kind of spiritual aura about the whole event, especially with that number 33 involved.

The name given to their capsule, the one that brought all the miners and workers to the surface in just over twenty-four hours was the Fenix 2. There were three Fenix capsules, but this single one lasted through the entire performance. The name is significant as well as appropriate. Isabel Hickey describes the phoenix as being the symbol representing the highest expression of Scorpio energy, the only sign to have three symbols associated with it - the instinctual scorpion, the high-flying, clear-seeing eagle, and the phoenix, the bird that is reborn from its ashes. Not sure if it means anything that the second, rather than third, Phoenix did all the trips, but let's stick to the basics.

I think there is a theme that runs through my personality, which is something like 'champion of the overlooked.' I was the one who was taking a picture of a flower along the side of a trail in Poland while the rest of the group moved farther and farther ahead; the one who wanted to save the leftover stuffing from getting tossed in the trash at the graduate students' Thanksgiving dinner; the one who picked every last overgrown, bitter lettuce leaf in my aunt's garden at the end of the season; and the one who routinely stops progress to take a second look at something that I'm convinced has to have something of value left in it. This is both a good thing and something that I am learning to gently discipline. I am trying to be more willing to go with the majority when it's probably right, when it probably helps me more to do so than sticking to my overlooked things. Given this tendency, it should come as no surprise that I was a huge fan of the asteroids and all the other weird little objects winging their way around the Sun even before I had any organized information about them secure in my mind - another trait I'm learning to gently discipline.

I think it is plausible to say the energy of asteroids was also part of this event. Pallas Athene, the visionary female warrior, was in Scorpio for much of the miners internment, having just last week moved into Sagittarius. How could that fit? The innovative approach to this rescue effort, which, according to the media, was like very few that had ever been attempted before, could be seen as the kind of effort Pallas Athene would help out with by applying innovative thought and design to a problem dealing with mines and the underworld and the action of bringing people up from the depths. In fact, Pallas spent several months in Scorpio this year, as Mars did in Leo earlier. She traveled most of the way through the sign before retrograding all the way back to early degrees and then turning direct to travel again through the majority of the sign. Essentially, she made three trips through most of Scorpio, much like the capsule made repeated trips through the granite earth.

Her move into Sagittarius, if I could shoot an arrow at this one, could be the inspired action at the end of the research effort - Sagittarius is a free-spirited, adventurous fire sign. Though the rescue itself was methodical and careful - characteristic of Capricorn and Saturn, not Sag and Jupiter - the tone of the media coverage seemed very free-spirited and adventurous. Perhaps it was the thin,cool air of the Chilean desert or the lack of sleep. The Pallas theme seems to be similar to that of the Aquarius-Scorpio bispetile between Neptune and Venus that was figured out above.

Vesta, the devoted, focused servant and keeper of the hearth, moved into Scorpio last week, just a few days after Pallas moved out. Demetra George views Scorpio as one of Vesta's home signs, and she seems like a good symbol for the devoted, focused effort that actually brought the miners up from the depths and returned them to their hearths at the culmination of the process. George also sees Vesta as a beginning stage of personal transformation, and symbolically, more than a few politicians would like to see this event as bringing the country (their country, perhaps) to its depths and emerging with a more focused vision of itself and a new, competent, inspiring image for the rest of the world to associate them with.

It could all be a bit of stretch, and other interpretations would probably be just as good. However, I also remember how clearly an interpretation using the asteroids jumped out at me when the Haitian earthquake struck last year. Mars, Ceres, and Juno were all connecting at the time. One was in Leo, a sign associated with generosity in its more elevated expression. The theme of the media coverage was far and wide, the generous, unconditional outpouring of food and other forms of material aid that the armed services of the US and other countries immediately committed themselves steadfastly and without reservation to providing and distributing. Ceres is the asteroid associated with earth's abundance and unconditional acceptance of others in the sharing of that abundance. Mars represents the warrior, and Juno represents commitment. It is often thought of in association with marriage and the wife, but Demetra George explained that its broader meaning is about commitment, finding a way to stay with something even when things get hard...till death do us part, etc.

An interpretation for this theme could have been found that didn't include the asteroids, but it wouldn't have been as simple and straightforward as the one that examined the one planet and two asteroids that were, at that time, found at nearly the same degree of their respective signs.

Finally, I came up with a very intriguing personal connection to the event. I was actually able to resist looking into until the next day, because it seems a little weird to my hesitant Capricorn mind, though the more undisciplined Uranian part of me was chomping at the bit.

My research confirmed what I quietly suspected. The rescue took place when the planet Venus was just about in the same relative position of its retrograde period that the planet was in when I was born. I was "rescued" by doctors performing a cesarean section because I was getting wrapped up in myself even back then, quite literally. My umbilical cord had twisted around my neck nine times according to my mother's recollection.

In my chart, Neptune is located near the MC, the point at the top of the chart, the cusp of the tenth house. It is a position Hickey says brings a person guardian angels throughout life. This placement occurs in Scorpio in my natal chart, the sign of the surgeon, the one who cuts beneath the surface. This theme is evident in the symbol of Scorpio itself, an M with a barbed tail that dips below the line and then rises back above it, incising and retrieving things from the depths, much like a surgeon performing a C-section or a team rescuing trapped miners.

Neptune relates to my birth because it sextiles my Ascendant. The Ascendant is the degree of the zodiac that is on the eastern horizon at your moment and place of birth. Its placement and the aspects to it will describe your birth. The sextile is an angular relationship of sixty degrees that, in line with Tierney, I would say is experienced as a nice combination of stimulating interest and ease that creates an opportunity. I've initially interpreted, hopefully with something more than just ego, my birth event as the acting on an opportunity to be brought into the world at that place and moment by a surgeon.

It is intriguing, and perhaps useful in some way to an understanding of my life, that the rescue operation yesterday used a cable to raise the Fenix 2 - the capsule of rebirth for the miners. The cable wound around and around the barrel of the winching device as it slowly but faithfully brought the capsule with each miner in it to the surface, working correctly and steadfastly in a positive way to facilitate the continuance of lives.

I guess in my own life, I have been feeling like my awareness of the tangled depths of long-standing problems are finally being brought to the surface (along with anger and relief), and there they are being untangled at last. We are finally taking the time to work things out precisely, allowing them to express themselves on their own terms. Bringing things patiently, and without judgment, into the light, where the horrendous creatures turn into everyday foibles, and the terminally unique oddities are seen to be only a slightly different form of patterns common to millions. Brought to the surface with focused work and repeated attempts to engage others in an effort to learn how to get what I desire, to learn what exactly that could be, and to be honest about which of the things I involve myself in are truly of value to me. I guess you could say this is somewhat like the miners working to survive in the depths and then working with those above to get to the surface. I would venture to guess that the miners had considerably more discipline and stronger positive attitudes than I. In any case, I might be able to say that lately I've been busy untangling that umbilical cord, sorting out the dependency issues and trying like a baby to become more aware of myself and bring order and light to the chambers that fill with the darkness of my own shadow.

I think current Venus retrograde period, which lasts several weeks, is an important one in my life. There have quite a few big events this year, including the two eclipses, a cardinal grand cross, and the Mercury retrograde period, which affected me directly via the planets in my natal chart. The retrograde Venus period links strongly to my natal planets, too, and most the things involved are not the big, heavy planets (except for Pluto), but the personal planets and the asteroids, and I'm curious to see how I might be experiencing this event differently than the others.

The first events involved the asteroids connecting with my natal Ceres at 28 Pisces. They are moving through my Moon-Mercury-Nodes configuration this weekend. After the Ceres connections, and just before stationing retrograde, Venus, as well as Mars, connected tightly via upper squares to the positions they were in in my birth chart. The only difference between the two pairs were that Venus was retrograde in my birth chart and still direct in the present.

According to the mathematics explained by Anne Massey, retrograde periods happen several times in the same sign over three or four decades before shifting into the previous sign. Previous Scorpio retrogrades were significant moments in my life, too, for several reasons. If memory serves me correctly, the earliest Venus retrograde in Scorpio that I experienced was also the first retrograde to happen after the one that was going on in Aquarius when I was born. I was too young to have conscious memories of the event now, but I believe it is still important in my life, because it touched my natal Neptune and, in a later cycle, my MC. One of them connected to a point on my chart on my sister's tenth birthday, though I don't have any information that might suggest the precise significance of that.

What it means to me, at this early stage of my understanding of these things, is that something here maybe can help me uncover my true vocation and diminish the feeling that I'm playing second fiddle to my more conventionally successful sister, around whom I occasionally get the painful feeling that I'm floundering arrogantly along despite all my diplomas and hard work. I don't feel that way often anymore, because I've made some real progress in practical areas and in the knowledge of who I am and what is of value to me, so I can honestly feel that I'm working on things important to me and don't have to feel like I'm competing with a traditional form of success or rebelling against it. Or at least that is how it is ideally.

During the current retrograde period, Venus stationed (came to a stop) on the degree that formed an almost-to-the-minute exact trine to my natal second house Saturn in Pisces. Also around that time, Juno in Virgo formed an exact opposition to its natal self in Pisces (which means that it also made an exact square to my nodes). In terms of commitments (what Juno deals in), I worked with great seriousness (in retrospect, it was more like sad but humorous amounts of gravity), over a decision whether to commit to a program of astrological study that was being started up in New York. It was very tempting. Things pointed that way with neon fingers, like Mars transiting the MC, but I think the grand cross (the opposition and two squares) was about understanding what commitment feels like for me when I'm being truly honest with myself, versus when I'm scared about missing out on something. Natal Juno is in Pisces, a sign associated with loss and suffering as well as letting go. I felt calmer after making my decision and letting things continue as they have been.

I recently read something about Pholus - the "genie in the bottle" centaur (an object in the neighborhood of Jupiter and Saturn) that activates all kinds of things all at once after waiting for a very long time. The author suggested doing only what is necessary when Pholus is activated until things settle down. I've been working on applying the brakes and sticking to a more and more refined set of activities in an organized living space for the last few years. I think this time I "got it," whereas before I would have persuaded myself to take on yet something else I wasn't quite ready for and felt bad about it, because I was ignoring my intuitive sense of what I really needed and afraid of not getting enough of what I really wanted.

I got to look at how I handle the process of making a decision such as this one - and, while it was serious and deeply felt, it was also very random, with lots of extraneous advice, excitement, second guessing, and pressure to do great and important things thrown in - all suspiciously characteristic of a Sagittarian south node in the tenth house. That node is squared to Juno in Pisces (exact) and the Moon in Virgo on the cusp of the eighth house, as well as Haumea, which is in the same degree as my Moon.

A little side note: I've decided, after some internet research and personal reflection, to look at Haumea as the "I think everyone here can enjoy each others' company" planetoid. It orbits out past Neptune, like Pluto. It was discovered (in the very recent past) in Libra, so it has to do with social harmony, and, like Libra it's likely to use a bit of less-than-voluntary persuasion to create it when people don't get along naturally.

I once stormed out of a dorm room late and night and threw one of my floor-mates against a wall with a very convincing glare because my frustration at not being able to get to that wonderful world of sleep was boiling over. I was very hurt and surprised when he didn't treat me like old friends again the next day. It was a good lesson, and I hope things like that always humble me, because I need it. I think it also might be a good example of how my picky Virgo Moon can believe that everyone will naturally forgive its less elevated expressions, because Haumea genuinely wants to get along with everyone and thinks they should do the same.

Also, interestingly enough, Haumea and the Moon are in Virgo in my chart, and my front teeth, even after braces, cross slightly just like the tail end of the symbol for Virgo, while in one of the Hawaiian legends of Haumea, it states that a child was said to be recognizable as an offspring of Haumea (she is related to natural childbirth), if they were droolers. Salivation is a prominent characteristic of my mouth, and in childhood, I soaked a lot of pillows. I have to admit, it's pretty cool to have something you thought of as a handicap tag you instead as a child of a Hawaiian goddess. Finally, as I've already mentioned, I was born via a C-section, and one of the things that came out rather spontaneously at my first therapy marathon was an insistent desire that I "rebirth" myself naturally.

A lot of ego feels like it got in the way of that and ego gets in the way of many other things I do, including this writing, but I also believe from experience that the essence of what I say or write about comes from a place that is accurate and tuned-in...and then it gets distorted on the way out...of my mouth, especially, but also in my decisions and behaviors. I think this might be a good example of what Stephen Forrest would say is my fifth house Jupiter expressing itself unskillfully as the ruler of my south node - the thing I still have to work through in this lifetime, and maybe also the karmic reason for Mercury, ruler of my north node, being placed in the twelfth house.

To get back to the decision-making, I decided in retrospect that the process was as anxious and disorganized a process as the time I was deciding on which college to go to, and it also brings back memories of the first time I was asked by a therapist to "just fill out" a contract of expectations. It could just as easily reflect my attempts to pick out a jar or bag of this or that to buy at a grocery store or food coop in my first years of cooking for myself after graduating from college. It's ridiculous, really, how the smallest and biggest decisions, and all the ones in between, can feel equally stressful when the whole tyranny of "the right answer" being out there holds sway.

Looking back, I see now that I was supposed to be clever enough and hard-working enough to find the right answer - I had to find in fact, to keep the family dynamic going, to sustain their image of me that became my job to maintain. But I wasn't strong enough then to value outcomes that might have felt better to me on a really deep, important level, even though they didn't sound important enough to keep me progressing in a logical sequence up a set of prescribed steps. There was never too much heart behind these efforts, and we were all too scared to consider why. Now I think I'm seeing things more clearly, which I think has something to do with the retrograde period as well as a long term Pluto transit of Mercury, which includes, this upcoming weekend, it's final crossing of the opposition point to natal Vesta retrograde in sixth house Cancer.

By the way, I almost did go to a less prestigious, more conventional college, the one my dad went to, but in the end I chose the one a little closer to family. I thought they were both fairly close, but my dad somewhat clumsily informed me that he thought my hopeful thinking was kind of ignorant, as he often still does, because his relatives lived about fifty miles over rural highways and wouldn't likely pick me up on the weekends - I didn't have a car, but let's work through that fight/story another day.

The college I did attend was close to my mom's relatives, and I did visit them a lot at certain times of my life there and avoided them at others. They brought me out and returned me some of the time, while I took the bus or rode my bicycle at others. The college there, perhaps like my mom, was more challenging, but, unlike her moderate Republican views, had a vocal, liberal tone. I've written about my reflections of that experience and its importance to me now in an earlier blog.

I'm glad I went where I did, but I think I know now that there was no right decision, merely the Geminian facts of what I did and didn't do, without the Virgoan judgment, and without the Sagittarian "right answer". My college experience enriched many aspects of my life, and I might not have been mature enough to get motivated to do something worthwhile for myself or others in a less stimulating or well-regarded environment, but who knows.

Now its time to favor the quieter, calmer, more private route, learning how to be true to the values that are congruent with my Self, and maybe I can also accept being the "same old me". As for those contracts and patient forms one fills out, I can do them in an hour or so now and make a new one later. They're focused and precise, though perhaps a bit expansive and free-wheeling. It still pisses me off when the person glances over them and files them in a drawer forever. These are things I used to agonize continually over, I want to say. It's hard to trust that they know what I've worked so hard to understand and articulate myself, but sometimes that's the right thing to do. I used to be consumed with frustration at the merest attempt to define who I was, if I thought of doing it at all. Now it appears to be a productive routine, and perhaps one that is going to become less urgent as the definitions become simpler and easier to come by. As for the astrology program, I'm still intrigued, but I want to have fun doing it, and I'm going to try to keep my focus on the more realistic and responsible-feeling opportunities and support that I have here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Story of the Dreaded Geography-Department-Newsletter Update Request

I feel like I'm in a holding pattern lately, but it's not a bad one. There is music I like playing in the background as I go about my business, which is, for the most part...

...tending to my gardens,
...checking email and facebook and astrology on the computer every day or two,
...organizing another pile of papers or old toys or rocks or matchbox cars, and setting the box or bin down next to the other ones,
...doing a bit of writing and pondering my future,
...and watching the movie channels, the travel channel, the food network, and the weather channel. Lately I've added college football and some hockey to the mix.

I need more sleep and less screen time; I need to "work" on relaxing, breathe more and think less. But things are going okay, overall...though, just to be honest and cover all the bases, I still don't trust my ability to know when things are actually going truly and 100 percent okay versus when things are going okay but I'm not really thinking about what's going on or talking about it because most people don't like hearing about intractable problems when they ask, "How are things going?"
But, like I said, at least the music in the background isn't bad and the foreground looks like its settled down to a familiar pattern that's not too hard to change.

I thought I'd share the letter I wrote for my geography program's newsletter at UNL. I was a graduate student there for ten years and have been pretty sensitive about reconnecting with folks there after my experience with teaching in Michigan. But I thought I'd give it a fair shake, and after I wrote two full pages for the 150-200 word summary that was requested, I dug in and came up with a 150-200 word summary of what I had just finished writing. ("I really can get along with authority and institutions and still assert my independence. I really can get along with authority and institutions and still assert my independence.") I sent them both, but since people won't get to see the full, two page summary of what I've been up to, I thought I'd add it to a blog and share it with my graduate school friends via facebook, since almost all of them are my friends on there. So, here it is. What I've been up to, polished for professional presentation and attempting to be respectful of both my ego and my soul, as well as the geography program's newsletter:

Although I graduated with a PhD in 2005, UNL already seems like something from a past life. I taught for a year at a university in Michigan, where there were extensive, well-staffed geography programs throughout the state school system. It was an emotionally wrenching experience, and I hugely missed the support and camaraderie of the Geography Graduate Student Organization at UNL.

When the position in Michigan was cut in favor of a tenure track, I took a year to slow down and begin “figuring things out.” I also explored the state which I hardly knew. Sadly and ironically, I had neither time nor encouragement to do so while teaching geography classes. I created my first photo essay that year, and I continue to meld my passion for geography and photography in a photo blog:

In 2007 I returned to my suburban Philadelphia hometown and the house I grew up in. One of my major tasks since then, which I’ve actually contracted with my family to do, has been to organize my life’s stuff and clean up what my parents left behind when they moved into a retirement community. I’ve participated in two yard sale events this year and have enough things for two more. The process has been enlightening, useful for the development of practical organizing skills, and deeply satisfying when I journal about what I’ve discovered – in the closets and attic for sure, but also within my memories and emotions.

I am not a person who stays intellectually inactive for long, and so, when I arrived “back east,” I searched for books about Pennsylvania and created my own regional geography class to teach to adult community members at my old high school. This is a physiographically and biologically diverse state with more densely populated landscapes than Nebraska - though there are areas that resemble the Sand Hills with bigger forests and different soils. It seems even rural villages have a bit of a suburban edge around here, and there are some very urban settings far away from the two largest cities.

My course and travels focused on southeastern Pennsylvania at first, but I am slowly expanding my appreciation and knowledge of various locales in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Province and in the Pocono Plateau and Endless Mountains. My degree, or rather the experiences I gained in and out of the classroom while earning it, are a resource I used time and again to see the place I grew up in from a new perspective, and that was very helpful in dealing with the weirdness of it all and the emotional sensitivities that inevitably arise.

I’ve developed other intellectual endeavors since my experience in Michigan. I’ve created several native plant gardens around my home, including a native prairie, a bank of buffalo grass that I purchased from a nursery in Lincoln, and a north-woods garden with birch trees from the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska City. I also became active in a volunteer naturalist training program at one of the Northeast’s finest native plant sanctuaries:

Currently, my major focus is on astrology. I’ve learned the basics on my own, taught classes in the community, written a short text, and I participate in regional astrology conferences much like those of the AAG.

The diversity of backgrounds and interests among astrologers is truly astounding, but I’ve yet to meet another person with a geography degree. There are subfields of astro-cartography and relocation astrology that have obvious geographic themes, but right now my interest lies in teaching astrology to dedicated beginners and using it to better live our lives.

I joke that I’m in the two disciplines that everyone thinks are something else - geology and astronomy. The real connection for me is that both disciplines use symbolic representation and analyze spatial relationships. Furthermore, both encourage a person to organize an understanding of life, either by interpreting the evolution of landscapes in one’s environment or by interpreting the evolution of a soul and its inner circuitry.

My plan is to continue to build my network of astrology friends and professional connections and to pursue a more engaged and structured educational program, perhaps culminating in professional certification. I write essays about my activities in the home and my continuing quest to master the basics of astrology in a blog:

This past winter I applied to work on the upcoming census. In March, I received my first assignment, which was for group quarters. I became acquainted with several other highly educated and underemployed individuals from the area, which was an unexpected benefit of working for the census, where you never know what to expect from one day to the next.

Later, I did follow-up interviews and address verification for quality control. The former was the most frustrating project of any, because we were interviewing people who didn’t send in their forms but had already been interviewed once at their door. It was basically a game of salesmanship – you had you pitch your product to them in the few seconds they gave you before walking away. Interestingly enough, there was a clear generation gap among the respondents. Those under thirty-five seemed willing to help without a question or complaint, but those older, wasted more time fighting and complaining than it took to do the full survey.

Address verification was a lot less stressful, and the most geographically interesting, since I got to plan the most efficient route linking all of the addresses in my binder. It was a good way to end the experience in August, having driven about 1100 miles on the job and earned almost $3600.

And here, in case you can't wait for the newsletter to come out, or aren't a geographer, is my short summary:

When I returned to my suburban Philadelphia hometown in 2007, I set about creating a regional geography course to teach to adult community members at my old high school. I have been gradually expanding my travels and knowledge of Pennsylvania and have a photo-essay blog to showcase my twin passions of geography and photography: I’m an active volunteer naturalist and native plant gardener, having gone through the training program at one of the Northeast’s finest native plant sanctuaries ( as well as the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s Tree Tender training. My current intellectual passion is astrology. Yes, astrology. I learned the basics on my own, have taught classes to community members, written a short text, and I participate in regional conferences much like those of the AAG and other professional organizations. My plan is to pursue a more engaged, structured educational program, perhaps culminating in professional certification. This year, I worked for the U.S. Census on three consecutive projects over the spring and summer months, which added almost 1100 miles to my vehicle and netted me around $3600, some intense frustration, and a sense of accomplishment. Also this year, I began writing essays about the job I have taking care of the house in which I live and my quest to master the basics of astrology. It can be found at My email address is