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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

In the belly of the beast

I promised friends and family from both sides of the Atlantic that I would write about what I was doing and post lots of photos. The photos part was easy thanks to Facebook but the writing part was a bit harder to fit in thanks to simply being so happily busy. I have always kept a handwritten journal but transferring it to the keyboard isn't something I enjoy doing (mainly because I often can't read my own handwriting). But yesterday I visited the Margaret Mitchell House here in Atlanta and was a bit shamed out when I saw what Margaret had to type on!
Yes, I am sitting in the place where Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone With the Wind"!
I do consider myself to be a writer above everything else I might get up to--but writing, like a few other bad habits, is a solitary activity and I have been blessed to be surrounded by friends, friends of friends and strangers who became friends these past few weeks. In fact, as I got on the Greyhound to travel to New Orleans Saturday evening, it suddenly dawned on me that it was the first time I have been on my own since I arrived in Phoenix. As I waved goodbye to Austin and suddenly became a woman on her own nearly 5,000 miles away from her home, I was struck by the familiarity of the feeling: after all I had done that very thing when I had packed my suitcase and got on that plane to London twenty-four years ago. Or, if you like, two Jupiter returns ago when I was nearly 24 years old. I am now just starting my 5th Jupiter return so I find myself doing an awful lot of comparing.
Returns give us a chance to compare one period of time to another. When we return to a place we have visited before, the dominant feeling can be one of reflecting on what has changed or what has remained the same. I very much liked how my new friend Samuel Reynolds described a 4th Jupiter return as "being in the belly of the beast". What's in the belly has only two options for continued survival: either through one end or the other. It's often not our choice which end gets the privilege of doing the eliminating. But what is MOST important it what the body absorbs and nourishes.
I left the US because of the fucking stupid gun laws and yet I never gave myself the chance, never having travelled West of the Mississippi, to see and experience the beautiful people and surroundings of America. Instead, I adapted as quickly as I possibly could to life in the UK by having a family and at my third Jupiter return beginning a new career in teaching. It bothered me somewhat that I was never regarded as being fully British even though I called the UK my home and often stated I had no intention of returning to the US. I often scoffed at other Americans, preferring to side with a lot of my British family (I assumed) in the opinion that The USA was seriously fucked up on junk food, gun laws, 4 rounds of Bush administration, thinly veiled segregation, conservative religious views, greed and blind patriotism. I didn't give the US a chance to show me what she was really like. So these past few weeks, I've been processing and getting rid of 24 years of anger, prejudice and assumptions toward and about my Homeland. I've reached out--and will continue to reach out--to friends I haven't seen since I left the US. I've visited cities I never thought I was interested in and even sampled American wines (cheers Tim!!). And yet at the same time, I have tried to be loving and forgiving to myself--because I also realised being angry at my roots has made the tree weak and unproductive. 
So I'm absorbing the beauty of the US, appreciating the kindness and generosity of old friends, new friends and complete strangers who have gone out of their way to make sure I had enough tea to function--the manager of the hotel I am staying at in Atlanta personally delivered a handful of English Breakfast teabags yesterday morning when I arrived exhausted from a second consecutive night on a Greyhound (that is not a complaint by the way), way too early to check in and in need of a shower and a few hours of uninterrupted sleep (they kindly let me check in at 9am!!!). In the past few weeks, I have walked where Janis Joplin, John Steinbeck and Margaret Mitchell--three of my favourite American heroes--walked. I went swimming in the Pacific for the first time in my life and bawled my eyes out at the edge of the Grand Canyon, so awed was I at the presence of such beauty and majesty. I heard real jazz on Bourbon Street (God it was so hard to tear myself away), walked along the Mighty Mississippi and rode on a paddleboat in homage to Mark Twain.
And to think I used speaking at a few conferences as an excuse to visit!!!
Tomorrow I fly out to New York to the State of the Art Astrology conference, then to family and friends in Michigan, back to New York to see the Statue of Liberty and all the other East Coast delights I never thought I'd actually look forward to seeing.
At the ISAR banquet, I saw an astrologer from Austin and blurted out to her that I was travelling to Austin to see an old friend. Without even thinking twice, she invited me to her home so I could speak to her astrology group. In Austin, we had a chance to talk astrology and she pointed out my Solar Part of Self was at 16 Aries--currently being transited by Uranus! No wonder I'm not in any sort of mood

to listen to anyone's bullshit on how I should work, play or live my life. She let me talk to her cats like the Crazy Cat Lady I am (how lucky I am that the folks I have been staying with are cat lovers too--I think it really staved off homesickness!!), gave me much needed affirmation and advice and told me what I have always known deep inside: I am not a person who conforms easily. I think my third Jupiter return was based on conformity and doing what I was "supposed" to do (it all even went so far as to deny myself the right to be called by the name I preferred to referred to!!). It explains why I became so ground down, frustrated, unhealthy and unhappy as well as why I really needed a time out to think about my next move and clear space for this new cycle of Jupiter. This is NOT to say I have any regrets about the past Jupiter return because I understand so much more about myself, the kind of people I like to have around me and the experiences I need to truly honour who I am. But I can see I am now in a process of re-claiming my life. . .and that's going to take a lot of work.

So I guess I am a changed person, having given myself the chance to see myself and the world around me from a new perspective. Jupiter returns do that. I will certainly have a lot to write and talk about when I return to London.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Story So Far

So I landed in Phoenix just in time for sunset and checked into the beautiful Wild Horse Pass Resort. 
After such a long trip, I was tempted to "hit the sack" (how long has it been since I've said this??) but I didn't want to miss anything!! 
The first person I bumped into was the gorgeous Frank Clifford!! Then I saw Frances Clynes and Poul Madsen and it started to feel like I had never left London!! I tried to stay up until midnight (that would be 8am London time!!) but I fell a little short of the mark. When I woke up four hours later, I was absolutely ravenous. I thought "This is America where nothing is ever closed!" so I went back downstairs on the scrub for grub only to find everything was shut. So what's a traveller to do? Room service!! The menu said "two eggs" but from what was served, I could only come to the conclusion that the hens here in Phoenix had to be ten feet tall. Never mind gila monsters, scorpions and rattlesnakes, the animal I'm most afraid of is giant chickens (I also had chicken at the Rawhide Restaurant which confirmed my theory). Breakfast was delivered by a smiling (!!) and very polite server who was so sweet and genuine I thought I would never want to leave Phoenix. British workers take note!
In the middle of all this, was my talk (the main reason I'm here) and it was well received and people that I've spoken to are intrigued by astrology in education. So I was really optimistic that some good was going to come from networking. Little did I know. . .
In the evening, I re-connected with some super cool people I had met earlier in the day at the poolside bar. One was an astrologer explaining to a non astrologer that the Moon had just ingressed into Scorpio. On the TV, there was an interview with the bouncy Morgana the Kissing Bandit. I couldn't resist saying: "And there's your Scorpio in Moon moment!!" We've been hanging out together ever since. One is NY astrologer, Tisch Aitken who has invited me to stay with her in Manhatten after SOTA!! Whoo hoo!!
On Saturday I was doing a bit better with the old jet lag and I woke up at 7am and hit the pool. I was joined later by Tisch and her friend Kim. Together we are the Witches of Eastwick waiting for our Jack Nicholson!

So as the morning turned into the afternoon, we noticed that the bar staff were starting to stare at the skies very intensely and then started to take the umbrellas down. What's up? we wondered. Turns out, there was a storm coming. I looked at the skies carefully and rubbed some more sunscreen on. Whatever was coming would probably blow over. But then the clouds got quite dark but this only meant it wasn't so hot so we stayed by the pool. All the while, the bar staff huddled together as if planning something. Every now and again, a little raindrop fell on us. Then it started to rain a little harder--and then whoooooosh, the dust blew in and we headed for cover. And then the heavens opened.  Eventually we were shooed (in a very nice way) back to main hotel and we got DRENCHED even though we were only out for a few minutes!! It was an amazing storm that we watched (dripping wet) from the safety of the hotel. It was a doozey. Lots of flash floods, lots of soaked and excited people and lots of hotel workers talking in hushed whispers. Luckily, the storm blew over but we heard there had been funnel clouds in the area. Funnel Clouds! I had forgotten about those.
The ISAR banquet was great fun as it was hosted by the very funny Michael Lutin. I loved the way the America astrologers refer to each other as "our tribe" or "our community". In true Uranian style, no astrologer feels excluded from the herd.
With my tour of The Grand Canyon, Sedona and Las Vegas now booked (as well as a ticket to see David Copperfield!!), I was feeling amazing. I had dinner with Brooklyn astrologer Samuel Reynolds--whom I always wanted to meet (what an incredible man!!)--and I was asked to speak in Austin Texas by Naomi Bennett, the president of the Texas based group. How synchronous that I'm going to be visiting an old friend the day before--I don't have to adjust my itinerary!

So it continues to be a trip that is just miracle after miracle. Thank you Transit Jupiter on my Natal Mercury!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Still Smilin’

So tomorrow I leave for Phoenix Arizona!! A lot of people have been asking if I’m excited about going “home”. Home? London is my home! It may not be where I was born but it is where my heart loves to live.
Having said that, I am UBER excited to be visiting the US. My excitement takes me by surprise because I’ve never been terribly interested in the US, hate my stupid accent (I’ve been threatening for years to take elocution lessons) and I’ve had absolutely no interest in going anywhere in the US. So while I was thinking about why I’m interested in the US all over sudden, it dawned on me that this is the start of my third Jupiter return living in the UK. And I also remembered that I will be visiting people I haven’t seen for a full Saturn cycle.
And of course, Transiting Jupiter is all over my natal Mercury and will be transiting my Moon by conjunction in a few months.
So this is my itinerary. I have some wriggle room because things are still falling into place.
25 September, evening: arrive in Phoenix
26 September: conference
27 September: conference
28 September: Conference
29 September: exploring Phoenix, meeting an old friend, party at Ray Merriman’s (woohoo!!)
30 September: tour of Grand Canyon
1 Oct: tour of Grand Canyon
2 Oct: tour of Grand Canyon (ends in Las Vegas), Cirque Du Soleil show
3 Oct: Hoover Dam, overnight to Long Beach
4 Oct: see an old friend
5 Oct: LA
6 Oct: San Diego (for an afternoon in Tijuana)
7 Oct: San Francisco (lunar eclipse in early morning—going to have a BEAUTIFUL view!)
8 Oct: San Francisco
9 Oct: LONG train journey to Seattle, dinner at the Space Needle
10 Oct: Vancouver to watch the whales
11 Oct: Internal flight to Bozeman for Yellowstone National Park
12 Oct: Yellowstone National Park
13 Oct: Salt Lake City
14 Oct: Albuquerque
15 Oct
16 Oct: Austin (to see an old friend) to New Orleans
17 Oct: New Orleans
18 Oct: Atlanta (to do some research)
19 Oct: Atlanta (to do some research)
20 Oct: Atlanta (to do some research)
21 Oct: Nashville
22 Oct: Memphis
23 Oct: travel to Niagara Falls for SOTA conference
24 Oct: SOTA conference
25 Oct: SOTA conference
26 Oct: Touristy things in Niagara Falls with my parents then to Port Huron
27 Oct: Kalamazoo
28 Oct: Port Huron
29 Oct: Port Huron
30 Oct: To Toronto then on to Boston
31 Oct: Halloween in Salem Massachusetts!!
1 Nov: Salem
2 Nov: Portland Maine
3 Nov: Concord Massachusetts
4 Nov: New York City
5 Nov: New York City
6 Nov: New York City
7 Nov: Philadelphia
8 Nov: Philadelphia
9 Nov: Boston
10 Nov: Leave for London
11 Nov: arrive in London! Playing Last Post at Walthamstow Town Hall then going to Beaconsfield to give a lecture

And then it’s back to work! Hopefully I will have caught up on the mountain of unfinished writing projects and other stuff that got sidelined over the past few years.
I’ll be posting on facebook, writing the blog, getting back to Don’t Sweat It, Planet (been a little too busy these past few weeks!)  and probably tweeting as well (although I don’t really know how to use twitter very well!!).

So catch you later x

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

On Learning How to Smile Again

I just had my teeth whitened.

Now before you sarcastically tell me that that’s the most astounding news you’ve heard all day, let me add that I’ve found a lot of reasons to smile more these days.

And maybe you still want to go to the next blog to read about Scotland, Syria or Iraq. And that’s fine: thanks for stopping by and au revior.

So why am I smiling (you must want to know because you’re still reading!)?

I’ve had the most astounding 3½ months of my life. I’ve had a lot of rest, saw Barry Manilow and Wynton Marsalis in concert (not at the same time of course), performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, started Don’t Sweat It, Planet, attended the Faculty Of Astrological Summer School at Exeter College (Oxford University!), started my own school of astrology, written a new book and have just returned from speaking at the Astrological Association’s conference about my book (I know, I know: not that again!!)—and all on the verge of going on the trip of a lifetime to speak at ISAR and SOTA. I decided I wanted to do what was important to me in the manner that was important to me.

For the past year, Jupiter has been transiting my natal planets. It should have been one of the happiest years of my life but instead, I can’t recall being more miserable. Jupiter in Cancer means understanding that we are all connected if not by blood (and if you think about it, we are all related to one another by blood) then by a certain belief that what affects one person, affects everyone. Jupiter in Cancer finds confidence and strength in looking after everyone and everything. To be denied that makes a person with a stellium in Cancer very unhappy indeed. In fact, I’m rather astounded I was able to put up with things as long as I did. So I closed that chapter with great deliberation in my Book of Life and moved on. Was it scary? Yes, at times. Am I glad I did it? Great Goddess, absolutely yes. And although I wish I had done it earlier, I can understand why I didn’t because I learned one hell of lesson: never compromise on what’s important.

And if you want to know what’s important in your life, have a good look at Jupiter in your natal chart!

It’s (almost) funny that I’ve been an astrologer most of my life but that never occurred to me. This is exactly why it’s so important for astrologers to engage with other astrologers, to talk openly in a language we understand and to learn from each other. Otherwise the point of the lesson gets lost. As anyone who speaks more than one language will tell you: to understand the language, you have to practice the language. I spent a lot of my time sometimes speaking the language a little bit and a lot of time being unhappy because I wasn’t allowed to speak the language.

But those days are over and hallelujah for transiting Jupiter on my natal Mercury (also my ruling planet). I’m going to crow about astrology like a motherfucker because I’m free to do so!!

I’m off to the US for seven weeks Thursday week. Bookending my trip is a speaking engagement at ISAR and a speaking engagement at SOTA. I’m landing in Phoenix Thursday evening and speaking Friday afternoon. Then I’m hanging out with my astro homies for the weekend, culminating with a party at Ray Merriman’s house. Then I’m embarking on a seven week tour of the US: Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, San Diego, Tijuana, LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Bozeman (for Yellowstone), Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Austin, New Orleans, Atlanta, Niagara Falls, Port Huron, Kalamazoo, Memphis, Nashville, New York City, Halloween in Salem and leaving for the UK from Boston and anywhere else en route I damn well please!! I’ll be updating via this blog, facebook and twitter.

Between now and my flight to Phoenix, I have an exam to finish, an article for Frank Clifford’s book to polish up and a little something for In the Loop. When I return from the US, it’s looking like I have another year packed with teaching, speaking and writing gigs peppered with jazz band practice.

So thank you Jupiter for the courage to take those leaps of faith!! Whoever learned anything by playing it safe?

I leave you with a few highlights of my summer so you can see why I’ve been smiling!!

Here are a few of us at Oxford University for the FAS Summer School!

My Facebook page for Don't Sweat It, Planet

More jazzy stuff (you can just about see my hat!!)

Having a drink with Rob Hand!!
The advertisement for my classes!

Me and Frank Clifford at the Astrological Association's conference (we are personifying Mars In Scorpio!!!)

And finally, me smiling again!!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

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Facing the Truth About the Past Can Set You Free

So said my tweet and facebook page today.

Lately I’ve been wondering what to with my blog. I’ve been a blogger of some description since 2005. My first blog was a personal one, a sort of journal of the difficult time I was going through. When I passed through that difficult time, I stopped writing entries. Which, on reflection, seems disloyal. The blog represented me and the circumstances around me. But I didn’t want to be known or remembered as yet another woman going through the same tiresome problems that anyone could read about in any women’s magazine article closely related to the subject of “How Not to Wreck Your Life”. I wanted to move on.

My current blog was supposed to chronicle my astrological adventures and to use (so-called) humour to illustrate planetary aspects. For awhile this kept me entertained (I’m sure no one else laughed) but I was starting to feel it was time to grow up a bit. So my entries became a bit more serious and thoughtful. But I was still wondering how I could make astrology accessible to non-astrologers but not reduce it from a vast, rich field of knowledge to twelve sentences for a star sign column.

Recently, I’ve had time to think, plan and finally implement the next step. That’s right, implement. And I’ve decided, with the Moon in Sagittarius, I didn’t want to wipe out my journey as an astrologer. I didn’t want to pretend this example of the Uranus Square Pluto aspect wasn’t funny:

But it is time to grow up a bit.

I mean, if we’re going to put up with people like Richard Dawkins and Dara O’Briain opening their ignorant mouths to ridicule and trivialise astrology when they are sitting there with £300 watches on their wrists and a top of the range mobile phone all primed to tell them what day it is, then it’s time for me step up to the plate.* Or maybe get someone to bat for me.

And that’s when I finally understood the point of social media. BOOM! (as my new facebook friend Piers Morgan would say). I get it: We astrologers have got to keep trying to get our message out there: Astrology is not only useful but dead helpful. It’s not about predicting the future but making the future better. C’est tout.

Whoa, I bet a lot of people fell off their perches over that last sentiment (not c’est tout). I can’t tell you what your future is going to be. I can only tell you how to make it better (or worse—it depends on what mood I’m in). But if you’re paying me, I’ll tell you how to improve the situation (or at least tell you how to employ damage restriction).

So this was my next thought: I have the skills and knowledge but not the right connections to reach enough people. The easiest thing to remedy this would be to give in and get going on a star sign column.

The harder and more complicated thing would be to do something different. Whoever said I was easy?

Having already made (soon to be legal and official) myself Company Director at Apothecary Press UK,  I made myself the CEO of “Don’t Sweat it, Planet”. For now, my company will be updating via the usual social media sites. From 27 August, “Don’t Sweat It, Planet” will take over the East London field of astrology in education via my astrology school (I was going to call it an “Academy” but I just found that far too ironic and doomed to failure). And, as soon as I can manage it, I will be broadcasting a short two or three minute segment via my you tube channel.

For those of you thinking: “OMG, what’s gotten into her. . .” my solar return has Aquarius rising. For those of you thinking: “Dear Lord, I see too much of her already. . .” Tough. I also have the Sun conjunct Jupiter for the whole year. Get used to it. Oh and just check out by progressed ascendant on my natal Jupiter and my progressed Jupiter conjunct my natal Sun. Did I mention my book?

So these days I’m following my own advice and making the best out of what looks like a promising year. Subscribe to my blog or website to keep up with me or if you’ve always wondered if there was more to star sign columns but were afraid to ask.

Wondering how to improve your future? Or maybe you’d like to learn how to do it for yourself. Contact me via my website, my facebook page or twitter. We'll make an app't, discuss your needs  and I'll help you find the best path for you (via phone, email, Skype or recording). Share my blog, website or you tube channel or come to my classes and we can start talking discounts.

*Astrology is all about how to manage and keep track of one’s time and it’s no coincidence there are 12 hours in a day and twelve houses and signs in astrology. We’ll leave twelve months in a year out of it as that’s a sort of the result of a poor calendar system.