Interview Questions From the Blast Astrology Conference
Last year Moses Siregar gave me a few interview questions to answer as a speaker at the Blast Astrology Conference which took place in Sedona earlier this year. The Blast turned out to be the best astrological conference that I have ever attended at this point, and I was excited when Moses recently announced that there would be another Blast astrology conference in Sedona next September in 2008. In light of this new announcement about the upcoming conference, and in order to help promote it, I thought that I would post my interview questions from last year here.
At this point it looks like I will be helping to coordinate the Hellenistic astrology track at the conference next year, so if you are interested in hearing me speak then you should register at the Blast’s website. When you are registering you should let Moses know that I sent you by. There are also videos and audio lectures on the website from last year’s conference that are available for download.
Q 1. So, what’s astrology really for?
It seems like the primary function of the subject is simply to study the three times, i.e., past, present and future. Astrology itself is simply the study of what has been, and what will be. A reasonable extension of this would be perhaps to say that it is the astrologers’ job to understand the past, discern the present, and to predict the future. Everything other than that is sort of ‘fluff’ that people attach to astrology based on their own philosophical and religious beliefs about the world and what we should be doing while we are here. I have no real objection to this extra stuff that gets tacked onto astrology because that is what makes it a bit more interesting and meaningful, but it would seem to be somewhat presumptuous of me to say what astrology is “really” for because my response would be inherently subjective and not necessarily appropriate for other people.
I suppose that I could say that I often think about it in the sense that if astrology is primarily the study of time, and time is a collection of numbers or equivalent to number, and speech is simply a matter of stringing together units of sound to which whole sequences of words correspond, then astrology is speech, or “logos”. The underlying implications of this line of thought are somewhat interesting.
Q 2. Describe one or two ways that astrology has really improved your life.
The main thing that astrology has done for me is to show me that there is some sort of pattern, or meaning underlying the course of people’s lives. I think that this sort of knowledge can be invaluable to people sometimes because one of the worst feelings to have is that you are living in a world that is completely chaotic, random, and meaningless. Astrology would seem to play an interesting role in pointing out that there is something else going on beneath the surface of events that links things together in an extraordinarily strange, yet incredibly beautiful way. It’s sort of like some sort of massive cosmic tapestry that has been woven together with strands of time.
Aside from that, I’m not necessarily sure that I would say that astrology itself has improved my life per se. There seems to be this common idea in the western astrological community that astrology inherently improves people’s lives, but I’m not sure that this is necessarily true. I would say that astrology has changed my perception of the world substantially, but I’m not sure that I would necessarily characterize it as being better or worse than any other perception of the world because while there are things that you may gain through the study of astrology, there are also certain things that you lose as well. Certainly it has been life changing though and my interest in astrology has led to the study of many other cultures, philosophies and ideas which I find fascinating, so I am very happy with where this has taken me over the past few years. I would rather say that I have improved my own life through the study of history, philosophy, and science in order to pursue my passion for astrology.
Q 3. What kinds of astrology do you use in your work?
My background is mainly in modern western astrology, although I’ve been studying more traditional forms of astrology for a couple of years now. My main focus at this point is on Hellenistic, although I’m also very interested in Indian astrology and the various traditions of Medieval astrology. I tend to think that the different traditions have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I usually try to focus on what each tradition is good at, or what they seem to have gotten right in a sense, while attempting to balance it out with others in order to make up for certain weaknesses or shortcomings. So my goal really is to use all of the traditions of astrology in my work to some extent, but to do so in a way that is consistent both theoretically and practically.
Q 4. If you had to pick one astrologer, who has been your favorite teacher and why?
Probably the most influential teacher that I’ve had and the one who I’m closest to at this point is Demetra George. She has always been very supportive of me and extremely helpful in introducing me to the wider astrological community, as well as having a major impact in shaping my studies of astrology through her work on the history and transmission of the subject and on the Hellenistic tradition in particular. I owe her a great deal of gratitude both as a mentor and as a friend.
Q5. What do you feel astrology is most in need of in the next 10 years?
Astrology is probably most in need of a serious re-synthesis and re-conceptualization. The revival of astrology in the west over the past century has been a slow and arduous process that was largely fostered by the disparate groups within the New Age movement, but I think that the astrological community is getting to the point where it is starting to outgrow and wean itself off of this dependency on the New Age movements and in the coming decade it will continue to distinguish itself as its practitioners become a more diverse crowd. This disassociation with the sort of “woo-woo” mentality will not only encourage a more serious intellectual examination of the subject, but it will open up the community to a wider range of individuals with different philosophical approaches and belief systems than the current community is able to deal with.
Concurrent with this is the movement to explore and develop the history and philosophy of astrology so as to study and learn from the experiences of the traditions that came before our own and their application to us today. I think that a new synthesis of astrology will grow out of this in the coming decades that will be more grounded from a theoretical and philosophical perspective.
Q 6. What are your favorite predictive techniques?
Right now I’m mainly interested in some of the Hellenistic time-lord techniques. I plan to talk about a few of these in my lecture.
Q 7. Are there any areas where you feel your work is particularly innovative or different?
At the moment my main innovations are coming through my work on the history and transmission of astrology and my assessment of the various traditions. These investigations have led to a number of interesting theoretical and philosophical conceptualizations that I have developed based on studying the way that different astrologers do things.
Aside from that I think that some of my work on the Hellenistic material and testing the limits of certain techniques has been somewhat innovate and fruitful. Oddly, it seems that the main innovations that I will accomplish in my lifetime will not be the result of coming up with something completely new, but instead they will be the result of reworking things that are very old.
Q 8. What do you feel is your greatest strength as an astrologer?
I try to give it to people straight based on what the astrology says without letting my own beliefs and biases interfere with my judgment. I tend to think that there is a bit too much of an over reliance on using ones intuition in the astrological community today in order to make up for a lack of genuine astrological technique, and I strive to not fall into the same trap in my own practice. I’m always trying to critically assess what I’m doing as an astrologer as well as the different traditions that I’m working with so that I can really synthesize and utilize the stuff that really works to the fullest extent and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t. I like to be able to have philosophical, theoretical and empirical justifications for what I do and I think that this makes my work much more inclusive than those who are simply drawing on tradition, or just going with what their gut tells them. My approach is sort of the opposite of what Stephen Colbert says while he is in character about going from the gut:
That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say “I did look it up, and that’s not true.” That’s ’cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that’s how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the “No Fact Zone.” Fox News, I hold a copyright on that term.”
Q 9. What’s your favorite thing about your chart?
It seems to work pretty well. That’s kind of cool.
Q 10. If you could pick any planet/sign/house combo that you’d like to have in your chart, what would it be?
I would really like to have a combust Sun, and retrograde Moon.
Q11. What advice do you have for people learning astrology?
Turn back now! Before it’s too late!!
12. So … what do you think about The Blast?
Here is a clip of a couple of parties that took place at the Blast. I spliced three clips together. The first is from a sort of dance party that took place at the Blast. Nick Dagan Best is playing the drums in the background, and Roland Matthews, Meredith Garstin and Sarah Svati are dancing off to the side. The clip at the end is from a hotel party that was hosted by the Association for Young Astrologers towards the end of the conference. We were just wrapping things up at that point at about 1:30 in the morning after we had gotten some noise complaints from our neighbors.