How I Became an Astrologer
My first exposure to astrology was through a laminated placemat at a Chinese restaurant when I was about eight years old. From the placemat, I learned that I was an ox, my brother was a snake, and I should never marry a sheep. I didn't like the idea of being an ox. (My brother thought it was hilarious.) So, that probably would have been my last encounter with astrology if not for a summer job at Hot Topic ten years later, the year they sold Born on a Rotten Day in my store.
I was an ambitious teenager who worked two jobs, took summer classes at a local university between high school and college, and carried around a study guide for the LSAT because I was determined to become a lawyer. On a boring afternoon when Hot Topic was empty because my manager was blasting Johnny Cash, I picked up Born on a Rotten Day and read the section for Taurus. When I read that Taurus women were lazy, ate too much ice cream, and had terrible fashion sense, I was horrified. Anyone who knew me (and appreciated a punk rock aesthetic) would have thought the description was ridiculous, but I knew that there was a tiny germ of truth to it. I was not in that moment anything like the woman described in that book, but I had the potential to be. I could feel it tugging at me, and I was determined to never give in.
I didn't know it at the time, but that moment in with that book in Hot Topic was my first step toward evolutionary astrology. Instead of seeing the Taurus archetype as either garbage or fate, I saw a negatively-warped reflection of that archetype in myself and made a choice about how to respond. It was the echo of that choice that resonated with me when I discovered the work of Steven Forrest years later.
A lot happened between that day in Hot Topic and my eventual decision to embark on a serious study of astrology. I got an English degree. I married (a guy born in the year of the sheep). I became a community organizer in Boston and learned that you don't have to argue a point in a courtroom to make an impact with your words. Most importantly, I learned how to listen. I met with organizers and activists and religious leaders and community leaders and business owners and students and writers and artists and musicians. I heard stories everywhere, invisible threads woven into the fabric of the community. Stories connected an anarchist bass player with a surplus of clothes from his free market to a program that gave clothes away to battered women. Stories connected a dying church with Dungeons and Dragons players who needed a place to game. I listened to these stories, finding connections, weaving them together.
When an accident forced me to (finally) stop working for a few months, I listened to myself. What was my story with all the ambition peeled away? I didn't like this question, so I did my best to avoid it. I went to grad school and learned how to dissect stories to see how they worked. In the process, though, I learned that the uncanny weave of story didn't stop in that community in Boston. Stories and images and archetypes weave through time and across the world, connecting disparate peoples and cultures across the world, appearing over and over again with different faces, like the trickster who is called Odin, Mercury, Hermes, Coyote, Veles, Anansi, crow.
I became fascinated with different archetypal systems and, by hopping from one system to the next, I eventually discovered evolutionary astrology. I confronted the monstrous version of Taurus I met so many years before, made peace, and learned the path of soul growth for me in this life time: I seriously need to lighten up.
What is evolutionary astrology?
Evolutionary astrology uses the tools of humanistic psychology (think: CG Jung) to ponder big metaphysical questions, like: Who am I? Why am I here? How did I get to where I am today?
In some ways, it's a bit like the Enneagram or Myers Briggs in that it helps you understand personality archetypes and how they are relevant to you. Instead of taking a test or filling out a form, you do what humans have been doing for thousands of years: Look at the night sky and tell stories about what you see--or ask someone who's been pondering the planets for a long time to tell stories with you. Like any good stories, the archetypal sky as seen through the lens of evolutionary astrology is full of opportunities and challenges. By understanding the challenges facing us and role we play in the stories going on around us, we are better equipped to make choices.
If you would like to read more about my astrological journey...
Image Credit: Memento Mori “To This Favour”, oil on canvas painting by William Michael Harnett, 1879, Cleveland Museum of Art