Aeterna practices Western Astrology, inspired by the Psychological and Evolutionary currents. She is a musician, trained singer, generally enamoured with all forms of Art, and a proud Vegan. Her interests include esotericism, alchemy, Jungian psychology, antroposophy, quantum physics, and energetical work. She has a BA in Anthropology/Religions/Asian Cultures, and is working on her MA in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology at the University of Bologna, in Italy.
K: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me, Aeterna. Starting at the beginning: How did you get into astrology?
A: Astrology always fascinated me, ever since I was a kid. But, back then, I didn't really have the opportunity or the resources to engage in a more in-depth exploration of the subject. It wasn't until 2009 that I began to take Astrology - as well as spiritual matters in general - more seriously. This is going to sound kinda cheesy I guess, but falling in love for the first time awakened me to my spiritual side. The person in question was someone very devoted to his own spiritual path, which also included astrology, and I really looked up to him. His dedication to inspired me to pursue the same path; I felt that the metaphysical, esoteric values he lived by resonated with me more than anything else I had ever encountered up to that point. Even though that person is no longer in my life now, his teachings and inspiration will always be with me; I do believe it was a fated encounter, as it turned my life around completely... and probably also saved it. So, basically, all of a sudden I started getting my hands on every astrology book I could find, and it all soon turned into a process of self-exploration; I started to realize about the therapeutic effect of interpreting my own chart, as a mean to untangle and heal my unresolved psychological issues and inner conflicts, thus gaining a first-hand experience of the value and applicability of this science. With time, learning Astrology became natural as breathing and it came to a point where I thought I could actually try to bring the same benefits to other people... and here I am!
K: That is so romantic!
A: And also totally surprising for someone with three planets in Libra, huh?
There's a little interesting fact to be told in this regard. Funny thing is, Pluto was entering the sign of Capricorn at the time. Little did I know (rationally, at least) I was headed for a massive Pluto transit (besides the Libra placements I just mentioned, I also have planets in early Aries and Cancer). Still, Jeff Green's "Pluto: the Evolutionary Journey of the Soul" was the very first Astrology book I bought. I didn't really have any particular reason to pick up that one specific book, I just went with some strange gut instinct. Apparently, I was more aware of what I was doing than I could realize.
K: That's quite a synchronicity. Pluto transits can so brutal. I just went through Pluto squaring my natal Venus in Aries, which was pretty intense on my relationships, but that sounds like that's nothing compared to oppositions and squares. Yikes! What was that like?
A: More like what is that like, unfortunately Pluto isn't done with me yet, haha. Well, imagine you're placing a pot on the stove and turning the burner underneath to high. You're the pot. All the crap in your life, and I mean, all of it, comes to a rolling boil. Everything from unprocessed trauma to repressed anger. "Brutal" is indeed the word. My Mars, Chiron, Neptune, Venus and Moon have already passed the transit since they all fall in the first decans of their signs, right now I'm having the square to my Libra Sun (and to my IC/MC axis). This might be the hardest part actually, because my sense of identity, my self-expression, my existential barycenter, are at stake, and - I'll be honest, it feels like complete inner death (with depression, chronic fatigue, and everything this implies). And yet, it's through this process that I found a window to human psyche, which, again, allowed for a deeper insight into my own chart and others'. The honing of my astrological skills happened alongside the whole Pluto death/rebirth process - which actually feels more like cyclical deaths, followed by multiple rebirths; it's one of the silver linings in the plutonian darkness and also one of the things that gives me a sense of purpose in the midst of this sequence of hard-hitting transits. My Mercury is next, by the way.
K: For me, too, but not for a few years yet. I'll be interested to hear what you say about it when you get there. Were there other books that stuck out for you in the beginning?
A: Another book that absolutely did it for me, was written by this completely obscure astrologer going by the name of Marceline Senard. The title was "Zodiac Applied to Psychology," it seems it was never published outside Italy, which is a pity, because that book truly has a magical, arcane quality to it. I found it by chance in a little local library and it seems that astro folks are generally unaware of its existence to this day. It isn't even that much about psychology, as it is about myths and religious beliefs relating to the twelve Zodiac archetypes. That book was my gateway to the ancestral, mythical dimensions of Astrology and really added a deeper layer to my personal understanding of the Zodiac signs. Also, like many of us in the beginning,I was extremely influenced by the work of Isabel Hickey, especially her “Astrology: a Cosmic Science” book.
K: So, it sounds like Pluto School and psychological astrology were major lenses for you in the early days. How has your perspective evolved (haha) over the years?
A: Well, early on, I was actually more interested in Astrology as a purely esoteric/metaphysical tool, while the psychological dimension (albeit present) only played a marginal role in comparison. This reflected the somewhat ascetic vision I was developing back then, one that kind of disregarded an important part of human experience - the psyche, the personality, all of this is part of our spiritual journey as well, but I didn't realize its importance. It might sound obvious now (and it does), but it didn't really occur to me that pursuing a spiritual path doesn't necessarily imply that one has to deny the more subjective and earthy parts of being human, of also having a body and a mind beside a Soul. This was a mistake, because I was overlooking the importance of psychological complexity as a growth catalyst. I was intensely living my Neptunian side back then (Neptune hits everywhere in my chart, basically), but with time I had to find balance on the inside and out. As of now I constantly try to broaden my perspective, including not only spiritual psychological but also historical, mythological, literary, even anthropological viewpoints. That is a much more satisfying and constructive way (to me) of embracing the holistic Neptunian horizon I feel deeply drawn to (and at the same time mirrors the act of growing into the 9th House / Sagittarian energies in my Chart).
K: Fascinating, so Neptune is central to your practice? What is your experience of Neptune like?
A: I would say it plays a strong role, yes. I definitely place a lot of importance on intuition and empathy, for instance, in relating to readers and clients, but also in writing new articles and posts. The aesthetics and musical references I frequently use on my blog (its chart has a Moon/Neptune conjunction in Pisces in the 1st House after all), are all Neptune. My declination of astrological language is also, I supposed, quite informed by Neptunian energy; it's easier for me to write something I find convincing, when I'm able to tune in with my surges of feelings about a certain subject or transit. The more nuanced and evasive the feeling is, the better. And of course, there is the motivation to be an agent of healing for people I get in touch with even if it just amounts to planting a seed inside their consciousness. As for my own, personal experience, I’d say I’m not entirely comfortable with the way society works and I have lived with a certain feeling of alienation ever since I can remember. Throughout my life I have always tried ways to get closer to a place that gives me a sense of belonging, more than the world does.
K: That's really cool. I'm curious about how you bring anthropology and astrology together.
A: I think the anthropological dimension is something that becomes particularly pertinent to astrology when examining issues/subjects related to the more socially oriented signs/houses/planets - Venus, Libra, the 7th House, but also Uranus, Aquarius, etc. Especially the postmodern, interpretive currents of anthropology that introduced the concept of analyzing "the other"'s outlook on reality, replacing the positivism and evolutionism of "traditional" anthropology. I find this to resonate very much with Libran energy and the typical Libran MO of weighing all sides of a situation. I would go as far as to say that in some way, anthropologists and astrologers are not too far removed from each other; both deal with symbolic systems (a culture, or astrology, which is arguably also a cultural phenomenon) and are tasked with interpreting different realities, finding meaning in otherness.
K: So, you came to astrology as a personal spiritual practice, and now you use it to help others. What was the journey like from there to here?
A: It's still and will probably always be a work in progress, in the sense that there always are endless things to learn and assimilate from this type of human exchange. Some stages were, I believe, very typical, like stepping from a theoretical, cookbook-based approach to dealing with real people, reading charts for free, practicing with the horoscopes of partners and/or friends, and so on. It takes some time to achieve the same organic, holistic understanding of your own chart when reading the charts of people you only know a few background info about as opposed to living a whole life with them, and, in this regard, my own journey doesn't probably differ from the individual stories of other astrologers. I've always tried to observe people, pick them apart, match their inner and more personal nuances with the general descriptions and keywords I knew about planets; I have joined astrology boards on the net and intensely participated in discussions on a regular basis to grasp how the planetary and zodiacal archetypes really play out on a smaller scale, in the everyday things; and conversely, I have participated in workshops, in order to understand the point of view of the astrologer. I've been a client, too, which helped me observing the dynamics of one-on-one interaction from a different perspective. Actually I was pretty much learning and expanding in every possible way, which is something that I feel we should keep up, especially in a field that's constantly evolving, as Astrology. As soon as I gained a little confidence and felt the desire to find my voice, astrologically speaking, I started blogging and getting in touch with readers, listening to their stories, and again learning a great deal from their doubts and hopes. My writing was more tentative and unclear in the beginning, and the language barrier was an additional point I had to tackle - writing about astrology in a language that's not my own created a bit of difficulty, as you need to become fluent in the vocabulary of a specific niche. But I had enough passion and motivation to keep going and develop the expression my own personal touch in both articles and approach to readers/clients, and as long as there's something to improve, this process will carry on.
K: In your client work, do you have specialties? Prefer certain problems?
A: I don't know that I have a specialty, but I feel I give my best when addressing emotional issues and working with relationship problems. Anything that involves the individual's inner world and personal journey, including the inner struggles on the way to self-actualization, the personal crisis, the evolutionary potential of both individual and the couple, the personal blockages that one might bring into an intimate connection, the synergy of energies between two beings, the higher purpose and meaning to a relationship. Whether I'm working with natal, synastry or composite, I do attribute much importance to the Lunar Nodes, and I feel that's a part of the Chart that's generally overlooked, or doesn't get the attention it deserves. They're incredibly powerful indicators that often hold the (unexpected) key to stagnant situations and existential blockages; they can be especially enlightening as for relationship dynamics. In the end, my life as a person (beside my involvement in astrology) truly revolves around these inner dimensions of feelings, introspection, personal growth and love as a mean of evolution and expansion, so it's natural for me to make these issues the core of my own practice. One thing for sure I couldn't definitely do business/financial astrology, ever - I don't even trust myself with my own money :D
K: One of the things I really admire about your work is the astro advice feature you host on your blog, so it feels appropriate to end with an advice question. Since you're an academic, what advice would you give to someone who is just learning about astrology and wants to make sure their study is rigorous?
A: Thank you! : ) Well, the first thing that crosses my mind is, when you take up Astrology, you shouldn’t limit yourself to the study of Astrology alone. Astrology itself has a synthesis of various disciplines at its core; most of us are familiar with the mythical dimensions of the Zodiac archetypes and we’re all probably learning about this science in a Western setting where it evolved from its hellenistic roots to various psychological or esoteric currents. The internet is a good place to get a general picture of these cross-cultural references, but many concepts are either summarized in a simplistic, incomplete fashion or presented in a way that’s not accurate. These seemingly small nuances can really leave out some important details for the understanding of an archetype, a myth, a psychological feature, so the credibility of the sources becomes of paramount importance. You’ll probably need to turn to sources and documents outside the astrological community/field (and even outside the spiritual field) to trace the accurate roots of some of these elements. A lot of words taken from the psychological field get tossed around a lot, “projection” being the most popular of them; same goes for Sanskrit terms like “karman” (or “karma” as you often find it spelled) and “dharma”, but limiting yourself to what you read on the internet or from astrological publications alone is probably going to mislead you to some extent unless authors know their stuff and have done their research. I’ll make an example with the figure of Lilith I recently wrote about; in the astrological circles she’s mostly referred to as the first wife of Adam who refused to be sexually submissive, but once you go a little more in-depth into the research you’ll actually discover she was depicted like a reject and an outcast long before that story and all its implications regarding sexual duties in marriage, surfaced. I think this really adds something to the perspective and understanding of this archetype. Of course, after you’ve explored the subject from non-astrological standpoints you can still form your own opinion, stick with what your gut instinct tells you and decide how you want to understand/explain certain elements in your practice, but moving beyond a superficial understanding of these keywords is terribly necessary. Be independent, be curious, don’t be afraid to question what you see. Make the most of the resources you have. You owe it to your future clients and to yourself. And that’s Saturn in Sagittarius for ya. Thank you very much for this talk!
K: Thank you, Aeterna!